Friday, July 11, 2008

Revisiting the Subject of the Surge and the Deafening Silence of the MSM Thereof:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

One of the advantages of focusing so much on fundamental principles for the positions we have taken and continue to take on various and sundry issues over the years is it enables us to approach the issues we write about generally speaking with a calmer detachment than the lions share of commentators who write on the same issues regardless of their ideological leanings.{1}

Now we say "generally speaking" because it would be the height of absurdity to claim that we have never succumbed to this tendency ourselves. However, on significant subject matter{2} we have not done this. And that is one reason why we do not regret or feel the need to try and hide what we have written on over the years even if in some cases we are less likely to advertise the work than others.

For what it is worth, our reticence here is not because we cannot admit to making mistakes or anything like that -heck we have a mea culpa blog tag for that- but simply that some subjects of interest to us in years past either no longer are or rarely are and for that reason we are not inclined to want to revisit those subjects.{3}

However, periodically at this weblog we find it relevant to remind readers of our prescience on various subject revisit subjects that certain provocateurs focus on seemingly daily without seeing the forest for the trees. One such subject is the so-called "surge" which we last wrote on back in November of last year and which will be a factor of no small significance in the 2008 fall elections. It seems appropriate to revisit that thread with a quote to remind readers of what we said then to set up what we are about to say. Without further ado...

These musings were the result of the following article from The Washington Post which we read about a month ago:

Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled (Thomas E. Ricks and Karen DeYoung)

To start with, the article itself is another piece of evidence for the hypothesis that the surge approach in Iraq is working. However, there is as always a broader approach to these matters that needs to be considered and I will touch on it now for those who are interested.

One of the reasons I have not reacted to every news story on this subject the way so many do is because the principles whereby I formulated my original position on the military involvement in Iraq nearly five years ago has not changed and will not change. That being said though, it does not mean that I have always liked the way things have been done over there. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa November 9, 2007)]

Though we had noted before on more than one occasion support to various degrees for the surge{4} and also have noted since that time the irrevocable nature of our publicly stated war position in Iraq{5}, the present writer cannot recall offhand any public statement prior to the above posting where it was revealed that he was unhappy with the pre-surge post war approach to stabilization. Of course we have since that posting noted this a few times{6} but over time there has been little if anything in the mainstream media (msm) about the surge. The reason folks is simply: it is working.

Those who remember last year and the msm's crowing about how only eight of eighteen set "benchmarks" had been met with a "satisfactory" grade by even the White House's reckoning should take note of how little we are hearing about "benchmarks" now. Indeed, it was pointed out in April by Frederic Kagan of The Weekly Standard that those who were opposed to the war in Iraq and also to the surge who had previously gone out of their way to claim that success was "impossible" or who sought to emphasize the importance on meeting certain so-called "benchmarks" were moving the goalposts as it became clear that the previously assessed "benchmarks" were being gradually met:

AS THE REDUCTION IN violence in Iraq has become incontestable (the insistence of early critics that no such reduction was possible notwithstanding), war opponents have fallen back on their next line of defense--that the military progress has not been matched by the political progress it was supposed to enable. This talking point, however, is also outdated and invalid. The Bush administration, commanders and ambassadors in the field, and supporters of the effort to win in Iraq have long pointed to evidence of grassroots reconciliation and political progress. This evidence is growing and the importance of these developments is becoming increasingly apparent. But critics have long dismissed these developments on the grounds that they meant nothing if the central government did not meet the key benchmarks established in 2007 as the basis for continued American support. For most of 2007, such critics at least had some facts on their side--the Iraqi Government quickly moved to achieve most of the security-related benchmarks, but key legislative benchmarks remained stalled. The facts no longer support this argument, however. As a recent study by the U.S. Institute of Peace noted, "It may be that February 13, 2008 will be remembered as the day when Iraq's political climate began to catch up with its improved security situation--or, more to the point, when Iraqi leaders discovered the key to political compromise and reconciliation."

As the tally below shows, the Government of Iraq has now met 12 out of the original 18 benchmarks set for it, including four out of the six key legislative benchmarks. It has made substantial progress on five more, and only one remains truly stalled. One can argue about the scoring of this or that benchmark, but the overall picture is very clear: before the surge began, the Iraqi Government had accomplished none of the benchmarks and was on the way to accomplishing very few. As the surge winds down, it has accomplished around two-thirds of them and is moving ahead on almost all of the remainder. To say in the face of these facts that Iraq has made "little" or "no" political progress is simply false-to-fact.[LINK]

As we noted in last November's post on these matters{7} and in the other threads of 2007 where the surge was mentioned{8}, the msm has no interest in winning in Iraq.{9} It should therefore not surprise that the more good news that comes out of Iraq on the progress front, the less they are going to say on the matter. Now with the news of 15 of the 18 "benchmarks" being satisfactorily met as of May 2008, expect these sorts to continue to be as silent as a whore in church on this subject.

Now it is one thing to disagree on policies of any politician, president, pope, or whomever and even do so strongly at that. But disagreement for the sake of disagreement or because of blindly or uncritically following the opinions of others (whomever they are) should be shunned on all sides.

One should always strive to take any position on a principle or an issue consonant with the facts to the extent they can ascertain them and in doing this be willing to admit even if it is inconvenient to do so when the facts as they are made aware of them do not countenance their previously enunciated views. This is a minimum requirement of logic and rational thought to say nothing about the accompanying moral and ethical dimensions. And while this writer can in disagreement respect those who do not agree with him, such respect however is contingent upon said parties involved meeting the aforementioned logical, rational, moral, and ethical criteria.{10} And that is the bottom line really.


{1} While we have noticed that those of a so-called "progressivist" mindset are habitually prone to this problem, there are also knee jerk sorts who identify as "conservatives" who do the same thing.

{2} As opposed to ancillary or minutiae subject matter where occasionally this has happened.

{3} There have also been cases where we have changed our mind or are less sure of views as espoused in years past but these are few and far between and (usually) a pattern of sorts will probably indicate these matters in the archives as subjects are written on in a variety of ways over time. (Emphasis on "probably" as we are not certain if this applies in all cases though with the ones we can think of offhand it does.)

{4} On President Bush and His Administration As of Mid 2007 (circa July 11, 2007)

On the Iraq Situation, the Military Surge, and Playing Politics (circa August 21, 2007)

{5} Most recently noted in this thread from February.

{6} Most notably in these threads:

A Dialogue on John McCain and "Conservatism" (circa March 26, 2008)

More on Senator John McCain, the Boundaries of Conservative Republican Thought Historically Speaking, and Certain Troubling Contemporary Ahistorical So-Called "Conservative" Trends Thereof --Parts I-V of a Dialogue (circa April 26-May 14, 2008)

{7} On the Situation in Iraq As of Early November 2007 (circa November 9, 2007)

{8} See footnote four.

{9} I have said next to nothing about the Iraq surge since the strategy was announced late last year in the wake of the probable election losses for the Republicans in the congressional races.[...] Part of the reason for this is that it takes a while to implement a new military strategy and when I did speak on the matter back in July[...], the full number of extra troops were still not in place yet. I did however know that the surge was working about as well as it could be expected under the circumstances including that the msm has no interest in winning in Iraq for political reasons any more than the Democrats do. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 21, 2007)]

{10} Or benchmarks if we were to utilize the terms being used in discussing the results of the surge in Iraq.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Points to Ponder:
(On Constitutional Interpretation From Democratic President Grover Cleveland)

Here is the background of what is about to be quoted from another website:

After a drought had ruined crops in several Texas counties, the Congress appropriated $10,000 to purchase seed grain for farmers there. Cleveland vetoed the expenditure.

And here is the message on why the bill was vetoed -today's "points to ponder" installment:

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution; and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadily resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people. [President Grover Cleveland]

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Briefly on Appeasement Ecclesial-Style:

[Update: I added a title to this posting to enable me to precede it with an update that a portion of this note was not finished yesterday -something I did not realize until briefly perusing it again. The required material to complete it was added to the third footnote shortly before this note was attached. -ISM 7/8/08 7:00pm]

In looking into our proverbial crystal ball, "NostraShawnus" predicts that a lot of Anglicans will become either Catholics or Orthodox after the latest round of capitulation by their synod.

Whatever you have to say about it, at least the Catholics and Orthodox traditions reject the very notion of women's ordination -tying the principle to a sacramental understanding of clerical major orders which involves to some extent the intrinsic trait of masculinity.{1} But despite claiming an Apostolic pedigree, there is a marked absence of this principle amongst the Anglicans which is what made this new decision in the synod one that was eventually going to happen with enough time.

One who stands on fundamental philosophical principles is able to withstand what those who do not take such stands cannot for long endure. And I would be remiss in failing to note that this is also what happens when there is something rather irrational in your approach to these things.

Faith and reason should support and sustain one another when each is properly understood. But the claim that women can be priests but cannot be bishops (as the Anglican community has been claiming for some time now) is patently irrational if you consider that in the Christian tradition a bishop is merely receiver of a fullness of a common mystery{2} that priests receive to a lesser degree than bishops and deacons an even more marked lessening thereof. Such a consistency of principle is what protects the Catholic{3} and Orthodox{4} while the Anglicans show yet again the dangers of extreme or untethered latitudinarianism. Caveat Emptor!!!


{1} The imagery drawn on in both traditions embodies in part Jesus' masculinity being part of his humanity and the Church in a mystical sense being his bride; ergo (one argument goes) the priest as a representative of Jesus for the assembly (or the bishop for the dioceses) requires the same fundamental characteristics of Jesus' humanity including his maleness.

{2} Or in Latin sacramentum or the basis for the theological principle of what is called "sacraments." The Anglicans rejecting the concept of clerical orders as a sacrament basically (and to put it nicely) cut off the branch on which they are sitting when it comes to these sorts of matters.

{3} In the Catholic tradition, this matter has become a matter of controversy since the Second Vatican Council. It is perhaps ironic that prior to the council this matter was theologically an open subject but at the council the matter was closed when the grades of what is called holy orders is expressly restricted to bishops, priests, and deacons in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium. (See sections 22-29 where the hierarchy and its various roles and functions are discussed.) With the boundaries of the sacrament of holy orders now as a matter of settled doctrine in the Catholic understanding of things, the inadmissibility on doctrinal, theological, and historical grounds of women to the priesthood was later proclaimed by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) under then-prefect Franjo Seper in a declaration which was issued with the concurrence of Pope Paul VI in 1976.

Not long after the Anglicans started "ordaining" women to be "priests", Pope John Paul II proclaimed the inadmissibility of women to the priesthood in a more solemn fashion in 1994. (In the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.) The CDF in 1995 under then-prefect Joseph Ratzinger issued a clarification in response to a question on the matter affirming the definitive nature of the aforementioned declaration which was authorized by Pope John Paul II. In 2007, the CDF issued under current prefect William Levada a declaration that any woman attempting to receive the sacrament of holy orders and any cleric who would dare attempt to administer it would receive an automatic excommunication latae sententae (or basically "by virtue of the act itself.") That decision was published in the Vatican's official newspaper on May 30, 2008.

{4} The Orthodox understanding of this tradition mirrors the Catholic one in many respects and is outlined in this writing by Fr. Alister Anderson.

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