Saturday, August 28, 2004

Briefly on Deal Hudson and Christopher Ferrara Esq.:
(Dialogue With Greg Mockeridge)

I decided in light of the diversity of topics that were covered in the previous post that posting the last part of the post on a different thread would make the subject matter easier to follow. For that reason, the previous link that was posted here was transferred to a later posting. Again, Greg's words are the ones in shale font.

Shifting gears, I am sure you are, by now, aware of the National Catholic Distorter's (err, Reporter) sliming of Deal Hudson over his engaging in sexual misconduct with a vulnerable young student of his.

As you emailed me before I blogged this weblog post where I discussed the Deal Hudson situation, I merely note its existence here to update you on the matter if you have not read it already.

If it is true (which it seems to be seeing as how Hudson hasn't denied it in his response), it does constitute something very serious. But it is beyond the pale for the NCR to dig up a sin ten hence that has, safe to say, been confessed and repented of, to make political hay. Just goes to show that even if we confess and repent of our serious sins, that does not guarantee immunity from doing major damage at a future date (just ask Dr. Laura).

Liberals are not the only ones who do not let past sins and failing go. In the Dr. Laura case, though the same kind of situation occurred, I have a hard time being too sympathetic with her in light of the degree of self-righteousness that she often displayed on her program. People who act like that are almost begging their adversaries to find something on them -particularly when those ideological opponents are without the kind of honourable scruples that would mitigate against such a skeleton-hunt to begin with.{1}

I am not saying that those who savaged Dr. Laura were right to do what they did mind you, indeed I find such activities as that to be repugnant. And when one considers that it was those who try to dichotomize between "public personas" and "private life" to justify themselves who were in on this --who did not attempt to weigh Dr. Laura's private discretions by the same scale by which they want their own to be weighed-- this was hypocrisy of the worst kind as far as I am concerned.

We don't always get to pick our penances, do we?


As expected, Chris Ferrara took to piggy backing on the NCR "expose" on the Remnant website to launch another tirade against the "Neo_Catholic establishment."

This is as predictable as rain in Seattle. Christopher Ferrara "Esquire" is the Al Franken of self-styled "traditionalists." I do not take anything he says seriously in light of his atrocious trackrecord over the years of John Kerry-like distorting of the facts --to the extent he even deals with them that is--{2} and his annoyingly habitual tedency to continually see the worst possible interpretation in any situation or event.{3} Then he has the temerity in light of these significant lacunas in his character to consider himself a Traditionalist???{4} What a laugh and a half that notion is!!! All of this brings up another subject matter that I do not like to discuss publicly; nonetheless it bears touching on in brief.

The subject I refer to above is that of individuals. With regards to the latter, there are some of whom I see the proximity of others to them (as supporters, promoters, or other allegiances) as is a kind of acid test if you will.{5} With those who call themselves "traditionalists", I consider Ferrara to be one such individual to avoid much as I do a handful of others of various operative points of view.{6}

With regards to those who consider themselves "traditionalists", the degree to which anyone endorses or supports the aforenoted kinds of individuals{7} is the degree to which their claim of loyalty to the Ecclesia Dei is adequately questioned. It is much the same as those who call themselves "progressivists" who endorse or support someone like Hans Kung: their loyalty to the Church becomes immediately suspect and with good reason. In secular affairs the same holds true with those who endorse or promote the Michael Moores or Joe Sobrans of the "liberal" and "conservative" political sphere which are also two wings of the same kind of bird as I see it. But I digress.


{1} I say this despite not liking Dr. Laura's entire approach to the issues she discussed -even when there was substantial agreement between us on the positions themselves.

{2} See these links from the side margin at Rerum Novarum as a couple examples which buttress this assertion:

Ferrara's Follies I: On the Mystical Body, Communion Ecclesiology, and Common "Trad" Misinterpretations of the (Supposedly) "Perspicuous" Pius XII/Leo XIII Magisteriums

Ferrara's Follies II: On Communion Ecclesiology, the Mystery of the Church in Dominus Iesus, and Additional Theologically Specious "Trad" Arguments

{3} This was a rather large theme in my essay response to Mr. Ferrara (who was referred to as "Mr. Esquire" in the essay) on the entire Gruner episode. Another significant thread was Mr. Ferrara's continual string of errors on the issues in question -both major errors as well as minor ones. I will now quote from that essay an excerpt that is instructive to properly understanding why Ferrara's recent treatment of Deal Hudson is not an isolated incident on his part by any means. Observe:

[I]t would take a rainforest to supply the paper needed to adequately rebut every error and exaggeration penned by the very loquacious Mr. Esquire over the years. The present author though due to time and space constraints will have to limit this response to two particular sections which constitute the backbone of the aforementioned attorney's sixteen page attempted defense of Fr. Gruner. (Along with a brief touching on the subject matter of previous sections in the thread.)

The subject headings to be covered in full from the aforementioned screed in this writing are titled (by Mr. Esquire) A Pharisaical Notion of 'Obedience' and The Right to Resist an Abuse of Power while the supposed "impossibility", "non-offense", and "unjustness" of the commands in question will be touched on in a more summary manner. Before they are dealt with though, some errors that Mr. Esquire had in his piece about this writer need to be pointed out. To quote him:

Co-author McElhinney is described as "a part-time writer and Catholic evangelist" who operates a couple of websites promoting his own peculiar views under the banner: "So That No Thought of Mine, No Matter How Stupid, Should Ever Go Unpublished Again." McElhinney's contribution to Vere's article is certainly in keeping with that motto.

Obviously if Mr. Esquire had bothered to take a look at this writer's websites, he would have seen that the phrase attributed is nowhere in use. Nor has the author ever once utilized it. But as the reader will see, this kind of sloppy scholarship is not uncommon to Mr. Esquire who seems to want to make up for in quantity what he lacks in quality. He also tries in various ways to utilize subtle forms of character assassination. Witness the fact that Pete Vere in his response had to address the fact that the same Mr. Esquire could not leave it as a discussion on issues; instead he had to resort to making statements such as this:

The Wanderer presents Vere as 'a practicing canonist' with no mention of his own biography, which reveals that he was a former Catholic, a former occultist and socialist, a former Protestant Pentecostal, and a former Catholic traditionalist (affiliated with the Society of St. Pius X).

Mr. Esquire of course knows that the readership of The Wanderer is probably for the most part anti-socialist. (Hence the "nerve" of them to have a former socialist write for them.) But that was not his main reason for inclusion of this information. There is also the idea that his readers would immediately focus on the parts that read "former socialist", "former occultist", "former Protestant Pentecostal", "former Catholic traditionalist", rather than on the merits of the arguments being advanced. For the key word here in all of these is "former." Pete has moved on in his life and the beautiful thing about Catholicism is that we can all put aside our past errors and walk anew in God's grace. Though of course with the pseudo-"traditionalists", there is no notion of forgiveness: Pete's past must be paraded about with trumpet fanfare. The reason for this of course is that Our Lord's many teachings along the lines of "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew vi,12; cf. Luke xi,2) and "if you will not forgive, neither will your Father that is in heaven forgive you your sins" (Mark xi,26) unfortunately do not find much in the way of actual application in the circle of those who claim to be "the true believers."

Of course there is no shortage of irony in that Mr. Esquire has defended in print a certain "recent convert" to pseudo-"traditionalism" who was born Catholic but then spent eighteen years of his own jumping through a myriad of Protestant hoops of varying sizes and shapes before reverting to Catholicism again. (While "conveniently" never mentioning the aforementioned individual's biography.) So hypocrisy is obviously in no small shortage of supply here. [I. Shawn McElhinney Squelching Fr. Gruner's 'Squawking Squire'" (c. 2003)]

{4} They who drink the juice of the Ethiopian herb Ophiusa imagine that they see serpents and horrors everywhere; and those who drink deep of pride, envy, ambition, hatred, will see harm and shame in every one they look upon. [St. Francis de Sales as quoted at Rerum Novarum circa July 22, 2003]

{5} An acid test of other persons who claim the same ideological outlooks. This means that the latter individuals to some extent are tested to see if they have a true allegiance in good faith to a particular weltanschauung -be it secular or religious in nature. This is a valid form of the guilt by association approach which has been discussed by me before at sundry times and in divers manners at this weblog and in other places. (I am not about to discuss it further at this time.)

{6} I am not inclined towards mentioning too many names here lest it become more of a matter if personalities than it already has become. (Issues are where it is important after all and mentioning names detracts the focus from where it should be.)

{7} I refer here to the kind of ideologues who are blindly supportive of anyone who remotely agrees with them or who are equally blind in their derision towards those who disagree with them. (However slight the disagreement happens to be.) All points of view have their ideologues like this; however usually the narrower the scope on the view, the more zenophobic as a rule the partisans of a particular outlook tend to be.
More on Chris Matthews and John F-word Kerry, Etc.
(Dialogue With Greg Mockeridge)

The previous discussion thread can be found HERE. Again, Greg's words will be in shale font. My previous words will be in blue font and any referenced sources will be in darkblue font.

Chris Matthews is a liberal Democrat. He was a speech writer for Jimmy Carter.

True. But the moment we disqualify people in that manner, it is easy enough for us to be so dismissed in some similar circumstance. Therefore, more care is needed in whom we sift out and in whom we retain is needed on this matter as I see it. After all, there are some liberals who can make a reasonable attempt at being objective. No one is without some degree of bias so I do not expect it in the news media except (of course) for Brian Lamb of CSPAN. (Anyone who claims that they know with any certainty his political positions on anything are is not telling the truth.)

Having noted that, there are liberals who are capable of reasonable discourse. Alan Colmes of FOXNews is one of them.{1} And Chris Matthews' in my experience has generally been one of them too -though Matthews has in recent years been worse at it than he used to be.{2} But nonetheless, his blowing a gasket against Michelle...I have never seen him do that before. He has flirted with it before but that debacle was a first in my experience with him having that kind of meltdown.

But his show is supposed to objective (yeah right, having a political partisan host a show and be objective is like...well...expecting a political partisan to be objective.

The vast majority of media personages have a way of deluding themselves into thinking that they are objective. Outside of Brian Lamb, there is not a news reporter or commentator out there which approaches things with what I would call pure objectivity. That is right, all of the others -even our favourites- have some degree of evident bias to them.

The difference is, the ones we tend to like most often (i.e. those who call themselves "conservatives") freely admit to having a bias. Not only do those with a lefty slant usually deny that they have a bias, but they actually go further and claim to be objective when they so evidently are not. This is a serious damper on their credibility -particularly in the age of alternative media outlets.

You get the picture.)


Unlike you, I did expect such behavior from Matthews because of this and ot her reasons. For instance, I remember every other word of his being bleeped out in an interview with Michael Medved.

I did not see that show by my own admission.

In the past four years or so, the power slippage has been even more dramatic with the arrival of the blogosphere as an entity that now must be taken seriously as a source for news and opinion on issues. And bloggers are inclined by nature to discuss what they want to discuss which can often mean the very issues that the mainstream media does not want to talk about.

In addition to blogosphere, alternative media like talk radio has loosened the death grip the mainstream media (which is, as Dr. Bernard Nathanson once said, "Irredeemably leftist." Okay, technically, there is some possibility of redemption, albeit very faint.) and they haven't gotten over it yet.

Talk radio has been an underground force for a long time. I started listening to talk radio around 1990 with Rush Limbaugh and Alan Colmes being among the first shows I listened to. (Though my view of Limbaugh has changed to some extent over the years, he is still to be credited with reviving the viability of the AM medium -particularly after he went national.) Since the late 1980's, talk radio started a kind of paradigm shift in major media with the overwhelming conservative voice that it possessed (and possesses).{3} However, that was not adequate by itself to reach those who were attached to the visual mediums -and whom comprise the largest block of consumers out there. In the case of the latter, it was the rise of the Internet with board forums, message boards, news outlet sources like World Net Daily/NewsMax/ Drudge, and now the blogosphere that has coalesced and really kicked alternative media forms up into the position of being an undeniable challenge to the establishment media.{4}

With regards to the Swift Vets for Truth (SWFT), interestingly enough, I predicted in mid August that the media would try to bury the story of the SWFT on the basis of the paucity of coverage it was getting. Though seldom wrong on my predictions, I am sure glad to have been flat out wrong this time. However, my statements about the major media were correct: they wanted this story dead. What is keeping it alive is the alternative media which is forcing the major media to deal with it -however dismissingly they attempt to do so. Fortunately, those who see the value of this story are usually able to get beyond the superficiality of the major media who yet again vindicate the McElhinney Media Dictum as they so often do.

[I]n light of the recent comments by Senator Bob Dole on the issue,{2} there are a lot of questions that need to be answered here...

Dole personally warned Kerry not to use his service in Vietnam as the central focus of his campaign. So Kerry is just getting what he deserves.

I noted in the other post why he is doing this. In brief, this is the reason.

What the campaign spokesman does not point out is that the citations for some of Kerry's medals are alleged to have been written by Kerry himself. If this assertion is true, then referencing the "official Navy records" on the matter is a matter of begging the question. Heck Greg, I could tell you all day that "I am an honest man, if you do not believe me, then just ask me." Self-verification is inherently circular logic.

In fairness to Kerry, do-it-yourself medal write-ups for medals is not uncommon in the military. I know of which I speak. I saw many guys put themselves in for Navy Achievement Medals (NAM for short, interestingly enough) in my eight years in the Navy. We were also encouraged to submit "brag sheets" for our evaluations. Success in a military career does depend, to a great extent, on self-promotion.

Your points are well taken.

That being said, what I find strange about the Kerry medals is that many of those who were in his command structure at the time are the ones casting aspersions on the veracity of Kerry's account. They claim that Mr F-Bomb did an end run around his chain of command to get his medals. For instance, the first Purple Heart request was turned down by his immediate superior, who unceremoniously told him to get the hell out of his office. The Doc who treated the wound said it was superficial, to say the least. I also think that if the SBFT were lying, the Kerry campaign w ould be breaking out the long knives to refute their allegations, point-by-point instead of accusing them as being a front for the Bush campaign.

Did you hear that some Kerry campaign supporters are calling on the Justice Department to go after the Swift Vets for their ads??? It gets even more interesting because John Kerry's site claims that he got a Silver Star with Valor. According to the Navy, they do not EVER issue a Valor citation with a Silver Star. Now either the John Kerry site exaggerated (to put it nicely) or else they took that statement off of his Navy records and the latter were forged. In light of how Kerry is insisting on people looking at his actual record, I am inclined to believe that the record may well indicate that nonetheless. If I am correct on that view, then there are felonies involved here. And I doubt the major media will disclose that fact without being forced to do so by alternative media.

When it comes to the armed forces, the only thing worse in my mind than those who denigrate the armed forces are those who fake certificates of valor and then denigrate the armed forces using the fake citations as at tempted "credentials" to both attempt to reinforce what they are doing and to try at the same time to shut down the criticisms of others. For those with an irrational agenda against Bush and/or who incapable of avoiding the argumentation fallacy of appeal to authority, these sorts are easily snared by this kind of prevaricating.

On that note, I have a few bones to pick with the President.

Well, we all do Greg. He is far from the ideal candidate in this election.

All he had to say is that the issue of Kerry's service in Vietnam, whether legit or not, is not relevant to this campaign. Instead of griping about the 527 groups, he should have upheld the right of the SBFT to give their side of the story and leave it at that. He then says that he thought that the McCain-Feingold bill he signed (a gross violation of the First Amendment if there ever was one) did away with ads like that. What? He doesn't know what was in bill that he signed into law? That really does wonders for his credibility.

This is where the subject of riders may well come into play Greg. As you probably know, I have dealt with the issue of riders before - indeed I have set forth on this very weblog a rider reform proposal that would fix a lot of problems with both budgetary excesses and the sticking of unrelated subjects into a bill undetected to obtain a signature. (Where the proposal not so disguised may well not be passed.) It is one of the dirty tricks of politics and among the most damaging at that. My proposal allows for riders but also has a way of holding accountable to the voters those who have recourse to this measure. But I digress.

How can he say Kerry served nobly? He wasn't there.

My guess is that President Bush is trying to grant Kerry his premise on one point to skewer him on another point. I sometimes do that in discussing issues myself for tactical or practical reasons. In Bush's case, my guess is that he is taking the approach of "yeah, he served with honour, now let us discuss his Senate voting record." If I was Bush, that is what I would probably do. Kerry is using the Vietnam stuff to run from his Senate record like a vampire fleeing from a crucifix. My guess is that the Republicans in convention will focus very heavily on the Senate record with nary a direct mention of the Swift Vets.

As far as the blanket "let us eliminate all 527's" approach,{5} when you consider that 90% of the 527's support Kerry -and the latter has received about 60 million in free advertising from his 527's compared to maybe a million or two tops for Bush, there is a definite tactical ploy there in trying to get Kerry to agree with him on condemning all 527's.

In addition to the problems you have outlined at least over the past year, a major problem with the Bush Administration (as well as the conservative movement as a whole) is that they let the other side define the terms of the debate. It's time for us to break out the long knives and stop treating them as simply honorable opposition.

Indeed. I have always made it a practice of defining the terms of any debate or discussion I am involved in. My reasons for this are adequately explained HERE as well as an outlining of the exceptions to the rule where one has to at times (for tactical or practical reasons) relegate the subject to a stalemate. I agree with you that the self-styled "conservatives" fail to define the terms of debate a lot. That is also why they have lost many more battles than they have won over the years since the Gipper left office. Even those who did not care for President Reagan have to admit (if they are honest about it) that he did define the issues of debate when he was involved in it.


{1} See footnote two as what is noted there viz. Matthews may also apply to Colmes. As I see it, Colmes has gone in the opposite direction of Matthews over the years -from flaming lib to more moderate. (I remember listening to his talk radio show in the early 1990's and he was red like a fire engine back then if you catch my meaning.)

{2} Unless I am doing a bit of retrojection here in his case which certainly is possible.

{3} It is a simple fact that liberals usually cannot cut it in this medium -though Alan Colmes made a decent run at it before joining FOXNews in 1996. He was the exception in that respect rather than the rule.

{4} I would argue that FOXNews would not exist on TV and be kicking the tail of CNN and the alphabet network news programs in the ratings if not for the alternative media sources proving over time that there was a market for it.

{5} It looks a bit like President Reagan's approach to the Soviet ICBM situation when the Gipper got the USSR to agree to eliminate all ICBM's -and to allow independent sources to verify this on both sides- when the USSR had four times the stockpile of them that we did.
Miscellaneous Links of Interest:

Various Swift Veterans on Kerry's Fitness to be Commander in Chief

The Hypocrisy of Democrats Who Laud Michael Moore and Condemn the Swift Veterans for Truth

Friday, August 27, 2004

"Argumentation Fallacy" Dept.
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

One of the most frequently means of arguing a point is resorting to an erroneous usage of what is called argument from authority. Now I should note in advance that to some extent, everyone relies on those whom are recognized to various degrees as "authorities" outside of themselves to develop and/or maintain a position in an argument. (As no one can possibly know everything there is to know about any subject in question, let alone the entire spectrum of subject matter.) Nonetheless, there are proper and improper ways of doing this -and the post you are reading will endeavour to explain the proper means versus the improper means of appealing to authority.

What is about to be covered here is hardly something that I am discussing for the first time.{1} However, there is a perceived need to round out and develop a complementary thread to those where this issue was previously dealt with -a "counter-thread" if you will focusing more on positive exposition and less on negative pronouncements. For though I have dealt with this subject before, the genesis of this kind of argumentation was barely touched on in those links.{2} And in not dealing with the foundational presuppositions angle -mainly because I was livid when those threads were written for reasons I am not about to go into at this time- provides to some extent a kind of cover for those guilty of this fallacy to continue to perpetuate it.

With the reception of some recent emails espousing variations of this problem, essentially we reached critical mass here at Rerum Novarum. The previously gruff treatments of this subject was in large part because I cannot stand sophistic time wasters who prefer a character assassination to legitimate discussion of issues.{3} However, it is not only these sorts of individuals who engage in fallacious forms of argument from authority. No my friends, even people interested in genuine dialogue on issues often appropriate this method fallaciously. The question that needs to be answered is essentially one of how people can legitimately argue from authority -should they want to do this. In that regard, it is done primarily by noting first of all how one cannot legitimately do so -and from there avoiding the snares of improper argumentation methodology.{4} To assist in achieving this is the purpose of the post you are reading.

To start with, arguments that base themselves on any presumed "credentials" of the person so arguing are intrinsically fallacious. I have dealt with this subject before in a number of ways -including using a methodology of argumentation which can be accurately referred to as reducionum ad absurdum. The reason why this kind of argument is logically specious should be obvious on its face. However, because many of those who are agenda-minded can tend to ignore what is (or should be) obvious, a few notes on the matter are worth sketching out for the benefit of those of good will.

To start with, it should be obvious that no opinion is either intrinsically valid or invalid on the basis of the espousing party's particular learning degrees. For one thing, oftentimes people posit degrees after their names of a generalized nature -such as a PhD. This can be deceiving to the reader because they would naturally presume that the author's degree so noted applies to the subject matter in which they are writing about. However, quite often this is not the case. And that of course brings us to the first principle that is essential to take into account when considering the accreditation of said writers -should they posit any of course.

--A recognized authority in one area is not necessarily worth listening to in another area.

It would involve a degree of investigation on the part of the inquirer to determine if such a person is actually to be listened to in the area in which they are speaking. Or should I say, it would be if their primary concern about considering the merits of an argument is based on letters after a name. Those who are familiar with the foundational tools of reason and logic are able to equitably weigh someones arguments on those standards and receive a kind of "acid test reading" of the relative stability of the arguments advanced.{5} If the arguments pass muster there, then they are worth considering further whereas if they fail there, then there is no reason to consider them any further.{6}

--On topics which are of a controverted nature (or where there are disagreements among recognized experts), it is fallacious to accept the opinion of an authority.

Opinions are usually based on some form of argumentation; however not all forms of argumentation are equal. This is another area that could call for careful discernment -though even "experts" can be found to not infrequently argue in facile ways to support a particular opinion they may have on an issue. While it is true that it is not necessarily fallacious to accept the arguments of an authority which support a particular opinion; at the same time the arguments themselves had better have some solid foundation to them beyond the mere "say so" of the "expert" so cited. It should be obvious (though often it is not unfortunately) that if the authority being cited has grounded their opinion on fallacious argumentation or questionable evidences, then one should not be predisposed to accept their opinion on the matter in the natural sphere of things.{7}

--In areas where there is disagreement among recognized experts, individuals then have to turn to various sources. However, whatever the sources turned to, the purpose cannot be for conclusions or opinions of said authority.

In the above scenario, what must be sought out from the sources turned to is evidences for a particular opinion along with reasons and arguments all working in symbiotic fashion to sustain a particular opinion. Merely accepting conclusions or opinions in and of themselves is a fallacious appeal to authority.

--Appeals to any presumable "authoritative" source should take into account (to the extent this is possible) the track record of accuracy of the source being utilized.

As this is a principle that can itself be easily abused -as one person's conception of error is not necessarily the same as anther's- the general rules of charity should apply here. For those unaware of what I refer to, the principle should be considered basically is this one:

--Do not presume to put an unfavourable interpretation upon the words or actions of another because the same words or actions can be looked upon in different circumstances or contexts.

When there is an obvious misuse of a source in an argument, that is one thing. However, an argument that is based on one particular frame of reference (or context) may be true within that frame of reference but false within another frame of reference. To determine if this is the case or not would of course require some work to be done on the part of the inquirer.

To summarize the above points, these principles if followed will not guarantee that one will be successful in their quest to ascertain the truth from the varying threads of opinion or argumentation out there. However, along with the additional tools of logic and reason,{8} they will mitigate significantly the problem of falling into fallacious forms of argumentation as per the appealing to any presumed "authority." (Within the context of attempting to set forth or sustain a particular position within the framework of a dialogue or debate on issues.)

In conclusion, it is neither necessarily fallacious nor improper to appeal to an authority in dialogue or debate (or other forms of discussion). Nor is it necessarily inappropriate for those who have certain specializations in a field to denote this with the credentials they have gathered.{9} However, there are appropriate and inappropriate ways of both doing this. Appeals to supposed "credentials" in order to buttress one's arguments (and try to at the same time silence an opposing view) is the tactics of a poltroon -no matter whom the party is who engages in these tactics.

Now obviously those with related credentials should be accorded a measure of respect. However, such individuals should never presume that they can protect themselves from criticism on this factor alone -particularly if their arguments are specious ones. Also, in the citing of authorities or sources to support one's point of view, one should be careful in how they go about interacting with the work of presumed "experts" to support a particular position being advanced and maintained by argument.{10}

Hopefully this brief post is of assistance to many in separating the wheat from the chaff and avoiding the all-too-common fallacious forms of argument from authority in your future arguments and elucidations.


{1} Two examples of this were the following posts addressed to a certain self-styled "traditionalist" whose entire approach to debate with me was this very fallacious notion of argumentation. Those threads can be read HERE and HERE. Though this was hardly the only person to have done this with me over the years, this particular person's robotic appeal to this tactic -accompanied with their public libeling of me personally- was the genesis of those threads being posted and in a less-than-irenic tonality at that.

{2} See the links at footnote one but also this link as well:

"Learn to Argue Like a Sophist in Ten Minutes" Dept.

{3} I have already mentioned those who are psychotic enough in their Orwellian Doublespeak methodology to accuse me (falsely) of slander after they have obviously (to anyone who is not blind) libeled me numerous times. (As a way of trying to compensate for their lacking of the basic mental equipment to separate actual slander or libel from a legitimate critique -even sharply- of them and their outlooks.)

{4} Logically if you avoid what is incorrect in your approach to issues, you end up by default utilizing a legitimate method of inquiry. This is the foundation behind the method that seeks what is true only after identifying first of all what is false to thereby narrow the number of potential paths of inquiry.

{5} I have in my life taken on and confuted "experts" in several fields XXXX. In the process, I have come to believe an old maxim of one of my intellectual mentors Arthur Jones that "ninety-five percent of what is published on all subjects is hogwash." And that includes by the way what is published by those who are called "experts." If they write in an area that they have extensive knowledge in, their views are of course to be accorded proper respect. However, if the arguments they utilize are shoddy, then no amount of appeal to their "expert status" can fix that deficiency. [I. Shawn McElhinney: Excerpt from an Email Correspondence circa 6/27/04]

{6} Mike Mentzer was the man who refined and developed further Arthur Jones' theories on exercise science. He also was one who was an even larger influence in a subsequent refining of my intellectual approach than Arthur Jones was. (Indeed it was through Mike that I learned about Jones to begin with.) Mike used to often dissuade people from accepting what he had to say on subjects of exercise science simply on the basis of him possessing one of the hallmark "credentials" in the particular field he was involved in. (In this case, being one of the greatest physical specimens of all time.) Indeed, rather than base any of his arguments on this factor, Mike would instead often make statements akin to the following:

I've always reasoned that if the material I presented was valid in and of itself, was offered in a logical manner, and designed to appeal to one's reason and common sense, then the likelihood of it being accepted for its intrinsic worth was greater.

That is a direct quote taken from his last written work (published shortly after he passed on) but he often made statements in that vein of thought throughout his lifetime. And that is how I have throughout my life approached discussing any subject matter as a rule. It should go without saying that I therefore recommend the same approach to anyone who wants to make a contribution of value to the arena of ideas: focus only on the intrinsic validity or lack thereof of any argument proposed. For that is what really matters in the legitimate advancement of ideas if we take it down to brass tacks.

{7} I say "natural sphere of things" because on religious subject matters, there can be a supernatural dimension which needs to be accounted for by those who accept a particular religious weltanschauung in question. (Whatever it may be.)

{8} Such as the Laws of Identity and Non-Contradiction.

{9} It is generally a practice of those who are setting forth an argument in peer review journals or other mediums of this sort to denote their degrees relative to the subject matter being discussed. Such a practice is of course fine and proper in those environs to do. In weighing the merits of the arguments advanced, it is incumbent upon the reader who is interested in the subject matter to avoid accepting or rejecting propositions advanced by someone on those criteria rather than on the solidity (or lack thereof) of the arguments said individuals actually advance.

{10} There is also the appeal to an unnamed authority -often in the context of generalized statements. This can be either a legitimate or illegitimate method depending on the circumstances and the context in which this is conducted. Even when legitimate, this is not a very strong form of argument and therefore should be used prudently or in conjunction with other forms of argumentation which have a stronger foundation to them.
Jason Cardona has launched a new weblog titled Of the Cross. Dedicated to St. John of the Cross (one of Our favourites here at Rerum Novarum), the weblog can be accessed HERE.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

On Deal Hudson and Handling Public Scandal:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

There has been a fair amount of talk about the fallout with regards to recent admissions of past indiscretions by Deal Hudson of Crisis Magazine. Writing as one who has not been a promoter of Mr. Hudson's work for the most part,{1} I think the resignation from the position of key advisor to President Bush on Catholics was a proper thing to do -though I do hope Mr. Hudson stays involved in some consultative capacity.

Some have opined that this was politically motivated on the part of the National Catholic Distorter Reporter (NCR) and in light of the NCR's trackrecord,{2} these speculations are certainly not without some merit to them.{3} Whatever the motivations, the subject is now out there and needs to be dealt with. There are variegated ways that it is being dealt with -some of which are sadly predictable and some of which are pleasantly surprising. Among these ways is one of approaching the indiscretions with pre vs. post conversion analogies as per luminaries of the past (i.e Augustine, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, etc.). This is mostly done by those who are trying to use this incident as a cudgel against Mr. Hudson.{4} I remind the readers of a key excerpt from this weblog's spiritual instruction on charity - a text that I have sought over the years to take to heart in situations such as this one{5} with Mr. Hudson:

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.

Charity embodies truth fundamentally so that means it would involve ascertaining the true facts of a situation as a basis for determining the best way of dealing with the particular situation. The story was run in NCR and I intend to not read the piece. I will however note the following from one of Mr. Hudson's recent emails on the matter where he discusses the incident briefly:

Yesterday, the article was published. In it, they dug up a truly embarrassing event from my past. Ten years ago, I committed a serious sin with an undergraduate student of mine while teaching at Fordham University. For this I am truly and deeply sorry. I have confessed this and asked for forgiveness, my family has worked through it, and time has passed. But I know this is news to you, and so I offer my sincerest apologies. I recognize that I have let countless people down and have brought scandal to myself, my family, and my Faith. For this, I beg your forgiveness.

Some may wonder why I speak of the event in a way that seems vague or abstract. Please don't mistake this for lack of shame, regret, or repentance. The simple fact is, I can't say any more about it. Ten years ago, I signed a confidentiality agreement, and so I'm seriously constrained in what I can say. I know this is frustrating for you, and so that's one more thing I apologize for.

I need to make one final point. There's much deserved condemnation coming down upon me right now, and I expect it will continue. But I do hope that this just anger will not spill over onto CRISIS Magazine...

There is evidence of public repentence in the above excerpts as well as an acknowledgement that he has confessed on this matter and has sought to work it out with his family. That is sufficient for me to consider this issue a closed one -as if God has forgiven him and his family has forgiven him, who am I to not act in like manner???

The last part about Crisis Magazine was longer in the letter but I do not want to focus on it here except in brief to avoid detracting from the rest of this post. The long and short of it is this: Crisis Magazine is not the same as Deal Hudson; ergo, the two should not be confused with one another. The magazine should be viewed on the basis of its intrinsic merits or demerits as should the individual writers who contribute to that magazine. I have been both complementary and also critical of articles that have run in Crisis in the past and do not intend to act any differently in the future. Having noted that point, there is little else to say on this subject except to recommend prayers for Mr. Hudson and his family that they will well endure this reopening of old wounds in a manner that will be spiritually beneficial for them and also for their loved ones -both in this world and also in the next.


{1} This is not to be misconstrued as a disapproval of his work or the work of Crisis Magazine -at least not from a macro standpoint. (Instead, it is a neutral position for the most part.) Also, I have never written any articles for Crisis so there is not an affiliate or financial stake or any other incentive to say these things -lest the readers of this post wonder about my motivations for writing this post. (In light of my general tendencies to not comment on subjects such as this on my weblogs.)

{2} NCR's reputation as a liberal periodical (to put it mildly) is hardly unjustified. With regards to them actually condemning a sin that is sexual in nature, our good friend Jeff Miller of Splendour of Truth said it best when he noted that [i]t is nice to know that the NCR finally recognizes a sexual sin to condemn.

{3} I must admit to being inclined towards seeing this as more of a way for the liberals at NCR to get at President George W. Bush late in the campaign season than at Deal Hudson.

{4} The intention here is to posit that since these individuals committed serious sins prior to their conversions that Mr. Hudson's sin since his conversion somehow disqualifies him in a manner that does not apply to the others so noted. This argument is specious for many reasons -not the least of which is the lack of knowledge about the indiscretions of luminaries of the past for various and sundry reasons. (Hagiographical omissions in part but primarily I would say an intention to adhere to the spiritual principle expounded on above: one that can be found in some form or another in any Catholic spiritual instructional.)

Another reason why this argument is lacking is because it fails to take into account the fact of our weakened human nature. The simple fact of the matter is, anyone in the same circumstances as Mr. Hudson could fall as he did. The old Christian proverb "there but for the grace of God go I" applies here in spades.

{5} This is not an easy approach to take as indeed the side of our nature that is inclined towards a kind of Pharasee-like satisfaction of self in the face of the sins and failings of others is always in need of being monitored. (Particularly when the party is a preceived "opponent" theologically, politically, etc.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Readers who wonder why those of Us at Rerum Novarum are not so quick to jump into the citing of polls or statistics to buttress Our arguments do well to remember Mark Twain's dictum about the three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. Well, We are sure that if Mr. Twain was alive today, he would say there are four kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, statistics, and polling data. With reference to the latter ones, though your weblog host has discussed the ways that statistics and polling data can be manipulated before, this article about how polling data can be manipulated may be of interest to illustrate the process in a snapshot format. (Thanks are extended to Patrick Madrid of Envoy Encore for bringing that article to Our attention.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

On Chris Matthews, Michelle Malkin, and John F-word Kerry:
(Dialogue With Greg Mockeridge)

Greg's words will be in shale font.


Hi Greg:

Did you happen to catch Chris Matthews' mental meltdown on Hardball (or Hardboiled as Rush Limbaugh calls it) last week (last Thursday, I think) with his "Ready Fire, Aim" attack on Michelle Malkin over the John Kerry Swift Boat controversy? (if not you can go over to her blog and get the [news])

I heard excerpts from it when listening to bits of Limbaugh's Friday show after my evening workout. (The part where he had Michelle on the program.) I also heard Laura Ingraham talk about it -she is to some degree friends with Matthews and she was discussing this issue the other day as well. I expect rabid foaming at the mouth from a lot of leftist sympathizers -including some named Chris- but not from Chris Matthews.

If Mrs. Malkin wanted to make Matthews look stupid, she didn't have to work very hard at it work for her. He wouldn't let her get a word in edgewise. It's just another example of how desperate the mainstream left wing media is and lengths they willing to go in carrying the water for Democrats.

Matthews is usually borderline rabid but at the very least he tends to control himself however tenuously. He is a Democratic sympathizer but from what I have been able to glean over the years not the toady that others are. (He can of course also be critical of the Democrats.) Some have opined that Matthews simply had a bad day...certainly that is a possible explanation for it. I am heavily inclined towards the Belmont theory{1} on the matter however as a primary explanation for why even Matthews would become a barking moonbat over the Swift Vet issue. The mainstream media is (and for the past fifteen years has been) gradually losing the power to define the issues to discuss as they see fit and they do not like it.

In the past four years or so, the power slippage has been even more dramatic with the arrival of the blogosphere as an entity that now must be taken seriously as a source for news and opinion on issues. And bloggers are inclined by nature to discuss what they want to discuss which can often mean the very issues that the mainstream media does not want to talk about.

To make absurdity... well.... more absurd, Matthews' MSNBC colleague Keith Oberman drank the Kool Aid to its last dregs in defending Matthews.

Olbermann is a media footlicker (to put it nicely). I would not worry too much about anything he says.

I mean if John Kerry showed a fraction of the willingness to risk his life for his fellow sailors in Vietnam as Oberman is willing to risk his own credibiity in defending Matthews, I would personally recommend Kerry for the Medal of Honor, forget a Silver of Bronze Star.

Good point. And in light of the recent comments by Senator Bob Dole on the issue,{2} there are a lot of questions that need to be answered here. Oh and in closing, ignore this part of the article:

Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton said: It's unfortunate that Senator Dole is making statements that official U.S. Navy records prove false. This is partisan politics, not the truth."

What the campaign spokesman does not point out is that the citations for some of Kerry's medals are alleged to have been written by Kerry himself. If this assertion is true, then referencing the "official Navy records" on the matter is a matter of begging the question. Heck Greg, I could tell you all day that "I am an honest man, if you do not believe me, then just ask me." Self-verification is inherently circular logic.

If Kerry gets any real cajones and releases all of his military medical records, he could put this issue to rest once and for all. However, he is not willing thus far to do that. And because of that, I am inclined to accept the version of events offered by The Swiftboat Veterans for Truth -since they are positioning themselves to be easily refuted if Kerry's medical records do not countenance their assertions. I have a strong gut hunch that the reason Kerry does not want to release the records is because they will blow to smithereens his entire Vietnam election weltanschauung and put the focus sharply on what he has left: that Senate record which will be his undoing. That is why the Vietnam charade he has maintained over the years must be continued -particularly since that Senate record shows that Senator Kerry voted in countless ways to weaken this nation and facilitate an event such as 9/11 occurring.

[Note: This thread was subsequently continued at this link four days later. -ISM]


{1} This link was in the Malkin post on the matter. With the exception of the last two sentences of the post, it summarizes probably the media's biggest problem with the Swift Vets.

{2} Dole's problems in some of his political philosophy notwithstanding- he is nonetheless a genuine war hero whereas Kerry's stature in this area is controverted to say the least.
Fifty-Nine Deceits in Fahrenheit-9/11

Monday, August 23, 2004

Points to Ponder: 

The Oriental is not disturbed by the fact that his Rite is less widespread than another. His worship is meaningful to him because it is intimately his, not because it is also yours. That his religion, his worship, should be inextricably bound up with the history and life of his people, that he should worship God in a language that is the fruit of his own culture with a liturgy which preserved not only the faith but also the sense of national unity of his forefathers during dark days of oppression—this is what matters. That Italians and Irishmen do things differently does not surprise him. It is precisely what he would expect. [Fr. Robert F. Taft SJ Eastern-Rite Catholicism: Its Heritage and Vocation]
The Two Year Anniversary of Rerum Novarum and a Weblog Update:

Other than this weblog update, there is literally nothing else planned for noting on this occasion except (i) a particular installment of the Points to Ponder series on the Oriental view of liturgy -to be posted next- and (ii) that the actual anniversary day was yesterday as this link amply demonstrates. (Your weblog host was a day off in his calculations for the second year in a row.) But without further ado, let us get onto the weblog update material...

Weblog Special Reports, Commemorations, Retrospectives

Briefly on Blogging vs. Message Boards (With Mary Herboth) [>>>]

In Remembrance of Who [>>>]

On Political/Social Subjects in General

On the Passing of President Reagan [>>>]

My Review of Dinesh D'Souza's Biography on Ronald Reagan [>>>]

The Logical Fallacy of the "Communist-Fascist" Political Spectrum Theory [>>>]

The above position will seldom be noted (if it is at all) by those who adhere to political conventional wisdom. Fortunately for you, this writer views political conventional wisdom as usually lacking in "wisdom. The immediately preceding example in particular highlights a key political component frequently accepted by those who accept axioms or propositions without critically examining them.

Miscellaneous Mutterings on Family Matters, the Mental Disorder of Extreme Liberalism, and Political Propaganda (An Audio Post) [>>>]

Evidences Against the "Right Wing Media Conspiracy" Theory [>>>]

On the US Constitution and the Fundamental Rights of Man

Briefly on the Unconstitutionality of Brown vs. Board of Education, Etc. [>>>]

On Marriage, the Supreme Court, Law in General, Etc. [>>>]

On the UN and Their Latest Abomination [>>>]

A Politically Correct Pledge of Allegiance [>>>]

Briefly on Michelle Malkin and Internment [>>>]

In Defense of Michelle Malkin's Theory [>>>]

Much as with the political spectrum subject (or the Reagan subject), We at Rerum Novarum have long rejected the conventional wisdom viz. the subject of the internment of civilians of Japanese and certain other Axis descendants during World War II. Generally speaking, this writer is not a fan of President Franklin Roosevelt but on this subject, FDR acted correctly. Michelle is (and will be) getting a lot of media flak for defending the US's policies during World War II. The above link (and also to some extent the one preceding it) is a contribution from your humble servant defending her theory from those who support the position commonly espoused today.

On "Liberty", "Equality", and Christian Culture (Dialogue With Charles de Nunzio) [>>>]

On Political Election Topics

A Brief Digression on the "Scylla/Charybdis" Conundrum of American Political Parties, Etc. [>>>]

Miscellaneous Threads on Michael Moore [>>>]

Miscellaneous Musings on Sandy Berger (An Audio Post) [>>>]

Musings on the Democratic Party Convention, John Kerry, Etc. [>>>]

"Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain" Dept. (On Democrat Lies and WMD's) [>>>]

On President Bush and Arguments for his Re-Election [>>>]

In light of numerous public laments We have made about certain problematical policies and positions taken by President Bush, the above link is one that deals with arguments for his re-election from a liberal perspective.

Miscellaneous Mutterings on Michael Moore and Modern Ways to be Anti-Utility Oriented (An Audio Post) [>>>]

"Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain Redux" Dept. [>>>]

On the Recent War and War in General

Briefly on Colonel Muammar Khadafi's Situation [>>>]

Though originally blogged last December, the above link was always intended to be included in a weblog update thread but somehow got overlooked. (Mainly because your humble servant misspelled Col. Khadafi's name and thus could not find it in a series of quick archives search.) Nonetheless, it is included at this time as an important reminder of what is accomplished through military strength that cannot be accomplished through attempts at diplomacy with totalitarian despots.

On Paul Johnson and the Worthless Human Debris Who Murdered Him (Not for Viewing by Children) [>>>]

Those who still do not understand the nature of the enemies that we are fighting, perhaps this link will wake you up a bit.

Miscellaneous Musings on the Media and the Humanizing of Formal Enemies (An Audio Post) [>>>]

The previous comments can be reiterated here for the above post as well.

On the War, Moral and Constitutional Principles, "Supporting the Troops", Etc. (Dialogue With SecretAgentMan) [>>>]

For those who are trying to figure out how to "support the troops" and (at the same time) work against the US's policies in Iraq without committing sedition in the process, the above link is for you.

On 'Traditionalism' (Falsely So-Called)

On St. John of the Cross and 'Traditionalism' (A Response to Albert Cipriani) [>>>]

On 'Traditionalism' (Properly So-Called)

Commemorating TCR's Fifth Anniversary [>>>]

On Certain Controverted "Hotpoint" Subjects Pertaining to Doctrine

The Libellus Against John Kerry [>> >]

More on Church Architecture [>>>]

On Justification in Romans [>>>]

On Other Controverted Subjects

Briefly on NFP and a Unique Contribution to the Arena of Ideas [>>>]

Musings on George Sims Johnston's Crisis Magazine Article After the Council: Living Vatican II [>>>]

On GK Chesterton, Red Wine, and Cigars [>>>]

Approved* Weblogs and Websites of a Predominantly Political Nature

The Little Green Footballs Weblog [>>>]

As We have long have visited this weblog on occasion, it seems appropriate to add it to the scroll at this time.

Ecumenical Jihad Approved* Websites and Weblogs

Fr. John H. Neuhaus' First Things Magazine (Catholic) [>>>]

The previous comments can apply to the above link as well.

Shawn's Eastern Catholic Corner Approved* Links

Apostolic Letter On the Fourth Centiary of the Union of Brest (Pope John Paul II) [>>>]

The Eastern Catholic Net Ring [>>>]

General Magisterial Texts

To remove the idea that the magisterial texts in the Eastern Catholic category are not somehow magisterial, the word "general" was added to the above category title and the next link was the most recent addition to the list.

Notre Charge Apostolique Apostolic Letter Condemning the Errors of the French Sillonists Viz. Catholic Social Action (Pope Pius X) [>>>]

And of course what would an update to this weblog be without yet another reference to the "perpetual" nature of these kinds of weblog adjustment; ergo, the post will close on that note.

The aforementioned links are hereby posted motu proprio by virtue of my authority as Sovereign Thane and Lord High Executioner of Rerum Novarum for perpetual observance all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Points to Ponder:

As much fun as apologetics is, as invigorating as the intellectual challenge can be, and as beautiful as the airtight arguments are, I know I can't be reminded often enough of just exactly what it is that ultimately brings hearts, minds, and souls to encounter with His love. [Cathleen circa 8/18/04]