Saturday, July 05, 2008

Reissuing the "'Neo-Con' Challenge'":

Since first sketching out my questions with regard to use of this term in October of 2005{1}, and putting together a more systematical presentation in December of that year{2}, I have from time to time when the mood strikes me reissued{3} the challenge to those who frequently utilize this term -most recently in January of last year.{4}

Though some will probably find this notion amusing, I nonetheless have a method to my madness and am doing this for a reason: to point out the problem with using terms that are not defined or not explaining how one who uses a term understands that term to be applicable. It is too common for people to lazily throw around terms to avoid having to think about issues and that is a problem that is seemingly increasing over time. And as we noted in the last reissuing of this challenge, the problem was summed up rather tersely in the following statement by one of our early{5} intellectual mentors:

[W]e are living in a new Dark Ages, we really are. Most people have no concept of logic and how to use it. How to use their intellectual faculties to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Most people are intellectually dependent. [Mike Mentzer (circa 1993) as quoted in a Rerum Novarum posting (circa February 12, 2006)]

This is a serious problem we face in society and it is one reason I see value in the challenge I am proposing here. So as definitions are the tools of thought,{6}, it would be nice if those who have a bug up their hind quarters about these supposed "neo-cons" actually explain what I have requested in the threads above. This is not that difficult to do actually but doing so would hold those who kvetch about these supposed beings to a certain standard. Thus far, only one party who has frequent recourse to this term has taken the time to formulate a definition of the term{7} but even they were trying to go beyond the boundaries they set down in applying it.

So is it possible that someone will step up to the plate and actually define this term so we can identify these so-called 'neo-cons' or is it going to be more of the same indiscriminate labeling of others with what is intended to be a derisive or dismissive term akin to "antisemite", "nazi", or whatever??? I highly doubt the frequenters of that term will provide us with an answer but hope springs eternal I suppose.


{1} Miscellaneous Morning Musings on Blogging, the So-Called "Neo-Cons", and the Miers Nomination--An Audio Post (circa October 27, 2005)

{2} "Tracking the Ever-Elusive So-Called 'Neo Con'" Dept. (circa December 4, 2005)

{3} "Tracking the Ever-Elusive So-Called 'Neo-Con'" Dept. --A Rerum Novarum Challenge Revisitation/Reiussuance Thread (circa October 2, 2006)

{4} "Lions and Tigers and 'Neo-Cons', Oh My!!!" Dept. (circa January 31, 2007)

{5} I touched on this a bit in the following post:

Responding to the Blogosphere Book Meme (circa June 14, 2005)

{6} Points to Ponder as posted to Rerum Novarum (circa December 17, 2004)

{7} That party for those who are interested was Dale Vree. Mr. Vree's proposed definition and application were addressed in a March 2006 posting to Rerum Novarum which is viewable HERE.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

There are a couple links from the archives of this humble weblog that I want to remind readers of before going off to celebrate the fourth. Without further ado...

Some Brief Biographical Bits on a Few Founding Fathers (circa January 23, 2007)

I sketched out a few for the benefit of the readers -some of them were involved in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, some in the Continental Congress of 1776, and some were involved in both pivotal events.

Rough Draft of a Book Review of Charles Cerami's Young Patriots (circa January 25, 2007)

Though that text was posted almost verbatim to Amazon earlier this year, that draft (originally written in mid 2006) has a few bits the Amazon review does not if memory serves.

On the Founding Fathers and Liberty's Greatest Advocate -By Rush H. Limbaugh Jr., Dr. Walter E. Williams, Plus Some Ultra Brief Musings from Your Blog Host (circa July 3, 2007)

For those who think that the Limbaugh in that thread is the talk show host, actually it is Rush's father.

Anyway, it is my hope that readers will find something of value in those threads and that they celebrate today the birth of a great nation and take note of both its tremendous achievements these past 232 years but also give a fair pause of some of the failings too. There is a reason why the writer of the song America the Beautiful included a verse not commonly known about America and "God mend her every flaw." Some have been mended over time and others await their day of reckoning still. Nonetheless, the structure set up by the Founders is one subject to amendment and revision without destroying the entire structure{1} and we should celebrate that achievement as well as our independence without forgetting that there is still a lot of work left to be done.

God Bless America!!!


{1} I go over at some length this principle in the following expository musing on one of the black marks of American history:

On Being Fair to Historical Figures in General and Revisiting the Subject of Slavery in American History (circa October 25, 2007)

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The Declaration of Independence - A Brief History

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Points to Ponder:
(On the Negativity of the Mainstream Media)

There's so much negative imagery of black fatherhood. I've got tons of friends that are doing the right thing by their kids, and doing the right thing as a father - and how come that's not as newsworthy? [Will Smith]

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On the Recent Supreme Court Second Amendment Case:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

Though I recently noted one of the rare examples of where the John Roberts Court had gone astray when it came to a judgment on a case that conformed to judicial interpretation as opposed to judicial activism{1} -and furthermore said that I might cover it in more detail later on{2}, it would be remiss of me to not give them credit for getting right the decision in D.C. v. Heller. Before readers presume that I am saying a given case is "right" or "wrong" based on subjective whims, I remind them that my stance is and always has been one of taking an originalist approach to the Constitution and not merely saying that there are "Constitutional rights" whenever the issue is one that fits any individual's personal whims.

In saying this, I have taken issue with those who would look for so-called "litmus tests" for justices on the court of any sort{3} that they are involving themselves in judicial activism which as a principle is wrong period not merely wrong when those a person believes are morally wrong on their position utilize it but okay when those you believe are morally right are the asserters of it.{4}

For I have long said and on more than one occasion that there are certain positions I am not opposed to in principle but which I would never claim are "constitutional" because they are not. One is the concept of a federal right to privacy. Or as I noted briefly last year on one such matter:

I cannot recall if I have said this on the weblog in the past or not (as I cannot find anything in a quick archive search) but I am not opposed in principle to the idea of a federal right to privacy. The problem is, there is no constitutional foundation for such a position; ergo those who want to see one should do what they can to amend the Constitution to reflect that right. Otherwise, they should have the decency to admit that they do not give a damn about the Constitution at all. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 29, 2007)]

And on the matter of D.C. v. Heller, the Roberts Court led by the lucid reasoning of Justice Antonin Scalia took the view of the Second Amendment that the text itself conveys. It is interesting how the four justices who voted against the position of Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy would have no problem finding in the Constitution a supposed "constitutional right" to either a "federal right to privacy"{5}, a supposed "constitutional right" to an abortion{6} or to engage in sodomy{7}, or a "constitutional right" for stealing an individual's private property to sell to another private party in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment{8} yet these same proponents cannot see the simple language of the Second Amendment that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" and somehow claim it does not say precisely what it says!!!

But this is why I have long endorsed the idea of involving those who would attempt to "reason" the way the proponents of an "evolving constitution" do in a game of Texas Hold'Em with "evolving rules" to illustrate the stupidity of their judicial pretensions.{9} But enough on that for now and I want to simply at this time give congrats to the four originalist justices for voting as they did out of principle, and to Justice Kennedy whose "judicial magic 8 ball"{10} came up on the originalist side of the vote this time. And lest I forget, to remind readers that this is an example of why the types of justices who are placed on the Supreme Court is a matter of no small importance and why votes for president in 2008 should take that factor heavily into account.


{1} The cases I have in mind here are the ones purporting to give constitutional rights to foreign terrorists (Boumediene v. Bush) and the recent case that child rapists could not be given the death penalty because the latter was supposedly "unconstitutional" (Kennedy v. Lousiana). But I could also mention the case from 2006 which Chief Justice Roberts had to abstain on which applied Geneva Convention protocols to those who do not fit the criteria outlined by the Geneva Conventions for such protections to be granted to them.

{2} Though overall the Roberts Court has pleased me greatly compared to its predecessors of recent decades; nonetheless, the occasional decision such as this reminds us all that there are still some on the court whose vote essentially is tied to a lack of solid judicial philosophy and thus subject to personal inclinations. I may go over that in detail another time{1} if so inclined but for the time being that is all I intend to say on it. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 28, 2008)]

In the footnote of the above quote, the following clarification was made:

I will only note here briefly that the role of a justice is to interpret the law and not invent law. This may well mean rendering a ruling that is opposed to the individual justice's personal views on a matter. [(ibid.)]

{3} Whether it be (to give one example that comes readily to mind) the abolition of Roe v. Wade as favoured by pro life advocates or the assertion of abortion as a "constitutional right" by those who support Roe v. Wade. To understand my view on this subject, readers are advised to consider some of the threads in this weblog's archive on the subject of judicial activism. Here are several of them going back five years in order from most recent to oldest:

Clarification on Our Use of Judicial Terminology (circa March 13, 2008)

On Mitt Romney, Conservatives, and the Judiciary (circa December 16, 2007)

On Fundamental Rights, Common Law Principles, and Abortion (circa February 1, 2007)

On the Election, "Lost Causes", and Activism (circa December 7, 2006)

On the Election and the Attitudes of Self-Identified Conservatives (circa November 7, 2006)

Briefly on Originalism and Chief Justice John Roberts (circa March 7, 2006)

On the Miers Nomination and Activist Conservative Agendas (circa October 10, 2005)

"The Stupid [Republican] Party Strikes Back" Dept. (circa May 25, 2005)

Notations on Short and Long Term Approaches to Dealing With Judicial Activism (circa August 29, 2004)

Society's Ills, the Function of Law in a Just Society, Etc. (circa April 16, 2004)

On Judicial "Constructionists", "Whores", and "Termites" (circa June 24, 2003)

{4} Which is a form of what is called consequentialism that some who claim to have a problem with "consequentialism" irrationally involve themselves in: a subject I recently finished a draft text on which will be blogged in the coming days or weeks.

{5} Cf. Griswold vs. Connecticut (circa 1965).

{6} Cf. Roe v. Wade (circa 1973).

{7} Cf. Lawrence v. Texas (circa 2003).

{8} Cf. Kelo v. New London (circa 2005).

{9} The writer of this post would like to take this opportunity to to invite anyone who believes in an evolving constitutional interpretation to email him if they are fans of Texas Hold 'Em and are interested in playing for money. For your humble servant is not only a pretty decent poker player but he also has in mind starting a game with people like you for money to illustrate by demonstration the logical absurdity of your positions: Texas Hold 'Em with "evolving rules."[...] Something tells your host that such a game would amply clarify the absurdity of the "evolving constitution" position in precise proportion to the amount of money the promoters of the "evolving constitutional interpretation" theory lost their cash in the afore-proposed card game. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa May 25, 2005)]

{10} [Supreme Conflict] well outlines how [lack of philosophical identity] was Kennedy's problem and why he ended up looking so promising to conservatives but has on key conservative issues been such a let-down. Kennedy started with conservative instincts and still to some extent has them but without a solid template of sorts from which to operate from, there were and are inconsistencies in how he comes down on a given issue. Too often without such a template the environment to some extent can play an influence that may well go unnoticed and a sequence of small shifts (each in and of themselves seemingly innocuous) can create over time the materials for a completely different paradigm altogether. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa May 7, 2007)]

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On Coercion, the War on Terror, "Torture", and "Fantasy Situations":
(An Attempted Dialogue With the Words of Mark Shea -Part III of III)

To read the previous part to this thread, please go here. To start from the beginning of this series, please go here. Without further ado (and yet again with Mark Shea's words in dark green font)...

The argument of the Christian revelation is that this is, not to put too fine a point on it, a lie from the pit of hell. Because the argument of the Christian revelation is that Christ intends our happiness and knows better than we do what is actually the best way for the human person to realize that. This involves a conception of Christ's commands as something other than impossible ideals or as cruel irrational restrictions on our freedom which we have to obey for no reason other than fear. In short, it involves the idea that the one who created us did so because he wills our happiness and obedience is actually ordered toward life and freedom, not toward our destruction.

Notice the bait and switch here folks. Mark has now after creating no small amount of confusion with regards to certain concepts taken to wrapping his opinion up in the mantle of "the Christian revelation" to the exclusion of other views!!! It is all well and good to say that "obedience is actually ordered towards life and freedom" but when you advocate approaches as Mark does which endanger the very life you seek to protect, you cannot expect anyone who respects the natural God-given faculties of reason and logic along with the fundamental rights of man to take such rhetoric seriously.

I appreciate the fear that lies behind all this "How far can we go in really desperate situations?" hypothesizing. I really do. I am constitutionally Irish and I feel the temptation every day to imagine The Worst ("What would I do if my wife were killed? Or my children contracted a wasting disease? Or Seattle was nuked? Or the ferry I'm on is sunk by an Al-Quaeda agent? Or a thousand other terrifying things happened?") But I also recognize that such cultivation of fear is sinful.

The cultivation of libel and bearing false witness against one's neighbour is also sinful. And on this matter Mark has far more often than not engaged in these very things -the only exceptions being (it would seem) when he bumps up against someone who can impact his income.{1} This shows not a concern for moral and ethical principles on his part but instead one of expediency: ironically the very sort of thing he seeks to dress up in a giant strawman and accuse of what he is doing those who disagree with his interpretation of Christian principles.

It place me, for the most part, not in the "real world" but in a fantasy. In the real world is God and my duty to my family and my work. This is not speculation on my part. This is the command of the gospel. Jesus specifically forbids us to worry. St. Paul does not command us to constantly rehearse the horrible ways in which we and those we live might suffer (and this was a man who experienced more actual suffering than we ever will). Instead--from jail--he wrote:

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9* What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.

Paul says that we must "be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds." (Romans 12). It is significant that, for the world, readiness comes from being afraid, tense, jumping at the rustle of leaves, worried about what horrible thing *might* happen.

Readiness comes from preparing oneself for all possible contingencies, not acting like a bunch of geopolitical snake handlers. I had better explain what I mean by that term lest I do what I am critical of Mark of doing and not define my terms.

The reference to snake handling is part of an analogy I use to refer to certain fundamentalist Christian groups who take the phrasing from the end of the Gospel of Mark literally about picking up serpents and not being harmed by them. There are entire sects who have as a ritual the playing with poisonous snakes (usually rattlers) under the delusional belief that because they "believe in Jesus" that they will not be harmed. And yet not a few of them are harmed -indeed if not for the fact that there is an effective antidote against rattlesnake poison today, many of them would die as a result.

Geopolitical snake handlers are those who are similarly misguided as the fundamentalists are with their snakes except with regards to geopolitical matters such as enemy combatants who do not conform to the rubrics set down by the Geneva Conventions for treatment of prisoners of war even if they were signatories to them which (of course) they are not. But those factors aside, we apparently need to recoil at every individual's whim of what constitutes "torture" and put these people up in five star resorts with the best food and wine, the most comfortable of amenities, and somehow they will magically give us valuable information which we can use against Al Qaeda to insure their defeat.

Now I am sure people such as Mark would claim that my illustration of their position is ridiculously caricatured but at bottom that is what it logically implies. And without the attempt being made to define the terms of discussion, basically anything the government does to try and obtain information can be construed by some activist wacko as "torture." In true rational nominalist{2} fashion, words without accepted meanings can mean anything.

This is why the attempts on my part and presumably on the part of others to get people such as Mark to explain the terms they throw around so casually is so important. It is important because not only does an absence of definition of terms allow any person of Mark's general outlook{3} to ascribe any action they do not like as "torture" but it also allows someone whose general outlook is the opposite of Mark's{4} to ascribe anything they like as "coercion." There is in other words a need for understanding of terms so that excesses on either side are more easily recognized. As I noted previously, this will not result in agreement across the board by any means but it would help in making discourse on the matter a lot more civil and perhaps building some unexpected coalitions of sort which could work as a check and balance on both tendencies on these matters.

For Paul, readiness comes from peace. That's why he tells the Ephesians to let there feet be shod with "the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6).

We start with the revelation, not with servile fear and concupiscence, in thinking about these matters.

Again, Mark presumes without demonstrative warrant that those who disagree with his interpretation of things are not "start[ing] with revelation" on these matters and that is no small source of annoyance. It would be one thing for Mark to presume that those who do not agree with him reason from revelation erroneously on these matters but do not do so in bad faith but he quite clearly has not done this. Or shall I say he has not done this with anyone who does not potentially have a discernible impact on his ability to make a living off of apologetics.{5} That is the sort of noxious double standard that has no place amongst those who are truly interested in the cultivation and promotion of not only the God-given tools of reason and logic but also those who endeavour (however imperfectly) to take the councils of the spiritual masters of the Catholic tradition seriously when it comes to proper conduct towards others.{6}

While a lot more could be noted than this, I do not intend to do so at this time as enough has been covered in this thread already. And again, for those who think it strange that I would take time to do this they would do well to remember certain basic principles of ethics{7} which are at the foundation of how we do things here at Rerum Novarum.


{1} For example, the whole Jimmy Akin incident from late 2006.

{2} Rational Nominalism: A mindset or foundational presupposition which wholeheartedly embraces the nominalist concept of using words in a variety of ways without concern for any universal or underlying coherency across the continuum of words, phrases, subjects, etc. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa October 21, 2007)]

{3} By this term I mean someone who is generally inclined against the efforts of the government when it comes to its handling of WOT.

{4} By this term I mean someone who is generally inclined towards the efforts of the government when it comes to its handling of WOT.

{5} See footnote one.

{6} To note one example of countless others which could be noted is the principle of charity:

Always be ready and willing to excuse the faults of your neighbour, and never put an unfavourable interpretation upon his actions. The same action, says St. Francis de Sales, may be looked upon under many different aspects: a charitable person will ever suppose the best, an uncharitable person will just as certainly choose the worst. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa January 24, 2004)]

By the principles of St. Francis de Sales, Mark is an "uncharitable person" on these matters the lions share of the time.

{7} Or to encapsulate a principle I have enunciated so often publicly and privately over the years that I feel like a broken record:

That is at bottom what it means to be moral and ethical: avoiding double standards and recognizing the same principles apply across the board, regardless of whom they help or harm. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa April 3, 2008)]

Unfortunately, the violators of this principle are either too blind or too stupid to figure this out or (if they do) they sure do not care to apply it across the board as anyone of integrity would seek to do.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

On Coercion, the War on Terror, "Torture", and "Fantasy Situations":
(An Attempted Dialogue With the Words of Mark Shea -Part II of III)

To read the first part of this thread, please go here. Without further ado (and again with Mark Shea's words in dark green font)...

And we need to start that converation based, not on our worst fears, but on revelation, which says we have the right to defend ourselves and that prisoners must be treat humanely.

It is true that we have the right to self-defense and indeed this could be said (as I have often said) that the right to life is a fundamental right of man given to us by God. But I am unaware of any "revelation" on the matter except perhaps indirectly; for example, a strong implication in the divine prohibition against murder though self-defense can at times consist of killing another that does not constitute murder properly-speaking. The second one is even more indirect as the "dignity of the human person" (CCC) is similarly admitting of extraordinary situation as the first one. It is contingent upon anyone serious about discussing these matters to account for all relevant factors, not just ones they particularly find to be of interest to them.

*Beginning* a deliberation of the approach to interrogation, not with fundamental facts from revelation about the dignity of the human person, the purpose (and limits) of the state, and the developed teaching concerning the relationship between them is to ignore revelation and allow our fears to dictate our thinking.

But [beginning] a deliberation on the approach to interrogation with the fundamental God-given rights of man in mind (one of which is the right to life and thus survival) and how those rights are protected from those who would try to take them away is both common sense as well as rational.

To account for what the limits are of any profession of freedom must be -both rationally as well as informed by divine revelation- and to delineate carefully where the civil authority has the right to use coercion for the protection of the common good of society and just public order{1} is to approach things with a perspective neither weighted towards suicidal geopolitical snake handling{2} nor towards undue or unreasonable suppression of the fundamental rights of others by the civil authority. There is in other words balance to be struck between what someone would subjectively say is a matter of "revelation" and what is objectively in accordance with our God-given fundamental rights which precede all man made laws.

To then allow those fears to tells us that we are being "realistic" to fantasize about boys in boxes and ticking bombs but unrealistic to draw on the Tradition to formulate our thoughts is, well, to "feed the flesh" to use Pauline language. "The flesh" includes, for Paul, not simply sexual lusts, but things like servile fear as well. We are not to do that. That's my point.

Okay but Mark to some extent begs the question here by presuming that those who do not agree with him do not themselves "draw on the Tradition to formulate [their] thoughts." Just because they do not blow a trumpet in the synagogue and announce explicitly that they are "draw[ing] on the Tradition to formulate [their] thoughts" does not mean that they fail to do this. There are a variety of ways of approaching matters of the prudential order when seeking to apply moral and ethical principles to them.{3} If Mark did not so brusquely presume that only he and those who have the same opinions he does do this, then he would not generate half the vitriol against him that he does.

The mark, by the way, of how much our thinking is clouded by "the mind of the flesh" is precisely that we cannot distinguish between the statements "a terrorist attack is likely in the future" and "a ticking time bomb is likely in the future". I have no doubt that we will experience more terrorism in the future. It's been a staple of war since the beginning and will be with us till the parousia. However, as reader Publus said:

it is very, very unlikely that

a) A nuclear time bomb will be planted somewhere in the US.

b) We apprehend someone we know knows where it is and/or how to disarm it safely.

c) We really KNOW that they know and don't just suspect it.


d) We have sufficient time to get it out of him using torture or other forms of coercion (he'll of course know that he only need hold out for x amount of time) but insufficient time to find another way.

However probable it is or is not, history shows that major events can turn on pinpoint situations. But that point aside, even if we are not talking about a "nuclear time bomb" there could well be nuclear bombs planted in the United States which we could find out about through a proper approach to coercion of enemy combatants. Even if they are not on a time switch per se, finding them before they could be armed is preferable to finding out about them after they have been used. But I want to focus on the second part of what Mark noted because there is an obvious attempt on his part to nuance in an area where he tried to obliterate nuance previously.

I refer to Mark's reference to "[t]orture or other forms of coercion." Why is Mark now making a distinction that previously he was unwilling to make??? My whole point as well as that of others was that there are distinctions to be made on the matter and that means defining what words mean and what they do not mean. If Mark is willing to admit that not all forms of coercion are "torture" now, then he owes an apology to all of those he libeled or otherwise insulted previously who had made this point in a variety of ways.{4} Will he actually be enough of a man and enough of a Christian to do this though??? Inquiring minds want to know.

Like the fantasy of the ticking time bomb, it is likewise a fantasy that "this is a war like no other" requiring us to abandon outmoded standards of civilized conduct in order to win. Every war presents us with that temptation. The notion that Al Quaeda is an enemy uniquiely wicked (unlike, say Nazis and Communists) is, once again, a function of our own fear-clouded minds, not of reality.

We are dealing with a civilizational struggle akin to the Albigensians in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries -like the latter the present one contains the religious component to it and that is not to be taken lightly. As much trouble as the Nazis and Communists were -and as evil as they were- they were hardly interested in sacrificing their own lives the way these Al Qaeda sorts are. The supernatural dimension here{5} makes this a war unlike any we have fought in the west for a long time...well...since the last time the Turks were beaten at Vienna in 1683 anyway.

On the other hand, it is not a fantasy, but a fact that the Executive has--right now--the power to declare anybody he likes an illegal combatant and subject them to torture.

This was already covered by yours truly earlier in the year 2007 to some extent. But again, we have the use of nebulous terminology to try and make an argument on Mark's part which is hardly an antidote for clarity of thinking on these matters (to put it nicely).

It is a fact that our government has already tortured at least one person to death.

It is also a fact that there have been at least 11,340 deaths as of this writing by virtue of Muslim extremists in various terrorist attacks since 9/11.{6} It is for this reason very difficult to take seriously those who would weep for enemy combatants and find various ways to excuse the evil of these extremists who have no conscience whatsoever. Of course if those like Mark actually sought to contribute to finding some common ground rather than continuing their attempts at assassinating the characters of those who do not agree with them, more people would be willing to consider what they have to say.

And it is a fact that we are wasting a great deal of time basing our public policy debates on this question--in debates conducted with all the candidates for both parties, based on this fantasy scenario from movies and television and not based on the revelation or even on Madisonian, Jeffersonian, and Constitutional understandings of the limitations of the state and the rights of the human person. We are being stampeded by fear and we are being told that if we do not base our thinking on fear we are being "unrealistic".

I cannot speak for others but I have never based any position I have taken on these matters on television and movie scenarios. The fact that Mark would presume that this must be the operative presupposition of those who disagree with him is the hallmark of what traditional Catholic spiritual writers would condemn as an "uncharitable interpretation" and that fact alone should give Mark reason for pause.

This is why I wrote the other day that:

What lies at the heart of all consequentialist appeals to do grave evil for the greater good is, ultimately, a refusal to trust that God knows what he is talking about. It is the conviction that the Christian revelation is not an insight into the heart of reality, but a sort of idealistic dream that is fun to contemplate in quiet moments and maybe even an "inspiration" in a vague way, but is nonetheless something that hard thinkers and tough-minded men must sweep away when crunch time comes in favor of "realistic" solutions that require us to frankly embrace sin and evil if we hope to live or remain free. In this analysis, the functional belief of the Machiavellian realist is "You shall embrace evil, and evil shall make you free and keep you safe."

Here is Mark engaging in strawman caricatures once again!!! He could have been a lot more careful and not so presumptive in the above paragraph. Those of us who take these matters seriously and do not advocate an "end justifying the means" approach cannot take these sorts of misrepresentations on his part seriously.

Furthermore, we are well within our rights to try and have Mark discredited until the time where he stops this crap, apologizes for his uncharitable attitudes, and at the very least seeks to represent accurately those he does not agree with. And he could start by not continuing to use terms he either does not explain or obviously does not understand the meaning of.{7} But enough on that point for now.

To be Continued...


{1} I outlined some of the core principles behind both a Catholic as well as a logical approach to these matter in the following posting from a few years ago:

Some More Notes on Dignitatis Humanae (circa December 16, 2004)

{2} Essentially, this is a term I use to refer to those whose approach to geopolitical issues such as the war on terror is akin to those cultists who take a literal interpretation to the last part of the Gospel of Mark and like to handle poisonous snakes: their naivety being revealed when the snakes bite them.

{3} And for Catholics, specifically Catholic principles as well.

{4} And yes, I could put together a list of names if necessary but I would not be able to make a complete list as there are probably as many I do not know of as those I do.

{5} Where they think they will receive an afterlife reward for dying as "martyrs" in a jihad against "the infidels" (read: us).

{6} As of the last update and these are very conservative estimates at that.

{7} I am obviously going to once again have to fill in for the educational shortcomings of one of these presumed "apologists" and explain the meaning of certain terms they indiscriminately wield about.

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