Thursday, June 23, 2005

Dems Find No Vote Fraud in Ohio

If there was any reason for doubt on this issue{1}, an investigation headed up by Donna Brazile{2} should resolve this once and for all...except for the more illogical of the moonbats from the "anybody but Bush" contingent who are highly unlikely to cease parrotting this canard.{3} And though I loathe Bill Moyers with a passion, it bears noting once again in true "broken clock is right twice a day" fashion that "[i]deologues embrace a worldview that cannot be changed because they admit no evidence to the contrary."

In closing, you the reader can watch the run up to the 2006 elections to see your host vindicated yet again on a political prediction...though in all truth this one is like shooting fish in a barrel.


{1} I do not believe that there ever was any doubt on this matter. And for proof of this, there was never any interest by the Democrats in challenging the results in states which they won by a much narrower margin than the Republicans won Ohio. (To name one example with more electoral votes than Ohio, we have Pennsylvania.)

{2} She heads up the Democrats' Voting Rights Institute and is no friend of the Bush Administration for those who do not know.

{3} Much as they have not ceased from the Bush lied prevarication viz. WMD's in Iraq.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Miscellaneous Threads Worth Reviewing:

As there are many threads to note here and not much time, I will comment on each one only briefly...

The Democrats sign up with the anti-Semites (Richard Baehr)

Those who wonder why I continually mutter the refrain of "extreme liberalism is a mental disorder" need only consider what Mr. Baehr outlines above -one choice bit of which reads as follows:

[T]he Democrats in Congress are now giving voice and credibility to the view that Israel was responsible for the Iraq war. And other Democrats, watching the hearing at the DNC, are hosting anti-Semites who argue that Israel had advance warning of the 9/11 attacks and is therefore responsible for allowing the attacks to occur. And even deeper into familiar anti-Semitic tropes: that Israelis withheld the information so as to benefit financially.

This sounds exactly like classic anti-Semitism. These messages were not being conveyed on anti-Semitic web sites, or on Palestinian TV and radio on Thursday, but at a Democratic function from a meeting room in Congress, with more than 10% of the Democrats in Congress in attendance, and at Democratic National Headquarters. . In all likelihood, these outrageous charges are now being communicated and rebroadcast throughout the Arab and Muslim world, with the imprimatur and legitimacy of the Democratic National Committee, and the US Congress as the reliable source.

Until late Friday, no Democratic Party official or Congressman, had expressed any discomfort with what happened. Now, we have a statement by Congressman Barney Frank, saying he was out of the conference room when the bad stuff happened in the mock impeachment trial, and that he thinks McGovern's view are noxious. So too, DNC Chairman Howard Dean released a statement saying the DNC rejects the hate literature that was being distributed in its own office.

In fact, the activist groups that watched the meeting at the DNC, and handed out the moonbat conspiracy literature blaming Israel for 9/11, were there as guests of the DNC.

I shudder to think of what would have happened to the Republicans if the RNC had even talked about entertaining such kooks -let alone actually doing so as the DNC did. Once again, those who claim there is not a double standard in the manner whereby these kinds of events are reported are either lying, blind, mad, or some combination of the three. Moving on...

Pope Benedict, Modern Weaponry and Civilian Casualties (Christopher Blosser)

It does seem as if the operative presupposition of BXVI (as with JP II before him) is that modern warfare is wrong because theoretically there are "greater capacities for destruction." My educated guess though is that they base this on their WWII experiences which were anything but memorable for either of them. It is true that military weaponry in WWII was far more destructive than anything that had preceded it. However, it seems as if BXVI (and JP II before him) does not account in their positions for the fact that military weaponry has gotten more and more precise over time. Another way of saying it is this way: if the "greater capacities for destruction" rubric is a significant factor in their operative presuppositions, then pointing out the error in that presumption would (by logical extension) call into question the entire position itself. But that is not all...

Shock & Awe, Civilian Casualties and Questionable Statistics (Christopher Blosser)

Mark Twain once said that there were three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. And while it is true that even accurate statistics can be manipulated, it is equally true that false statistics can be paraded about by ideologues who try to pass them off as the truth. Christopher does well to take on this tactic amongst the contingent of pseudo-"peacemakers" and expose their recourse to false statistics for what it is. Those who are genuinely opposed out of conscience to the military option being utilized in Iraq would have it to their credit if they were to publicly say "okay, we have used questionable sources in noting statistics from the Iraq war" or something along those lines. But do not bet the farm on them doing that -further proof that so many of these sorts are not interested in truth at all but instead in spreading their propaganda of appeasement by any means necessary fair or foul.

Can Philosophy Be Christian? (Cardinal Avery Dulles SJ)

The above thread is an oldie but a goodie from Cardinal Dulles which bridges reason and faith: two elements that I try to hold in reasonable balance here at Rerum Novarum. It discusses the subject of Pope John Paul II's Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio of which I wrote some comments on recently in outlining influential works that I recommended for readers of this weblog.{1} The above article discusses that encyclical and the subject of philosophy in general and is well worth reading and reflecting upon.

Politics and "Public Service" (Kevin Tierney)

The above thread discusses some of the more unsavoury elements of what is often called "public service" in the political arena. Moving from one social commentator to another, we have the following from the esteemed Dr. Walter E. Williams -possibly the columnist whose views most reflect those of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum:

Victimhood: Rhetoric or Reality?(Walter E. Williams)

The above article discusses the manufactured "victimhood" status of the black population of this nation. I will provide just a teaser sample though:

If you listened to the rhetoric of black politicians and civil rights leaders, dating back to the Reagan years, you would have been convinced that surely by now black Americans would be back on the plantation. According to them, President Reagan, and later Presidents Bush I and II, would turn back the clock on civil rights. They'd appoint "new racists" dressed in three-piece suits to act through the courts and administrative agencies to reverse black civil rights and economic gains. We can now recognize this rhetoric as the political equivalent of the "rope-a-dope."

You will have to read the article for the rest but trust me: Williams' stuff is always worth it.

Click it or Ticket (Walter E. Williams)

Dr. Williams (economist, social commentator, and all-around thinker) is quite opposed to the "click it or ticket" policy of the state patrols in many states...viewing this as an unconstitutional infringement on his personal liberty. This is undoubtedly an argument that many would react to in a predictable fashion -as accustomed to creeping socialism as we have become- however, Dr. Williams' basic theory is this:

Who owns Walter E. Williams? Is it President Bush, the U.S. Congress, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or do I own myself? I'm guessing that any reasonable person would agree that I own Walter E. Williams. The fact that I own myself means that I have the right to take risks with my own life but not others'. That's why it's consistent with morality to mandate that my car have working brakes. If my car doesn't have working brakes, then I risk the lives of others, and I have no right to do so. If I choose not to wear a seatbelt, then I risk my own life, which I have every right to do.

The solid grounding in Claude Frederic Bastiat could not be clearer in the above expositions, but then again, I have pointed that out on this weblog before{2} so it need not be digressed upon here.

Durbin Apologizes for Gitmo Remarks (WorldNetDaily)

Unfortunately, the last two audioposts I recorded have not surfaced at this weblog yet because in one of them, I really let Durbin have it. That was four days ago though and it is inexcusable that he has not been forced to resign his leadership position in light of these comments. This is significantly more formal (and the comments themselves far more problematical) than what Senator Trent Lott said in late 2002 which lost him his position as leader of the Senate.{3} In light of the obvious double standard rearing its ugly head again, it seems appropriate to reiterate that anyone who claims that said double standard does not exist is either lying, blind, mad, or some combination of the three. Moving on though, we will conclude with one final thread...

Pro-Abortionists Joseph Gerson and the AFSC, Dr. Carol Wolman, the "Seamless Robe," [Etc] (Dave Armstrong)

William Blake's dictum that "an altered eye alters all things" applies in spades to the person Dave addresses in the thread above. It also is a case study in the social observations that (i) extreme liberalism is a mental disorder and (ii) the depths to which ideologues will go to advance their agenda not only by any means fair or foul but by taking any allies they can find however noxious they happen to be. Anyone who wonders why I decided a while back to no longer try and continue to dialogue with the person Dave takes to task in the above thread hopefully now understands better my reasons for that decision.{4}

Blind emotionalism and illogic{5} can only be tolerated for so long from those who should know better before it becomes necessary to set one's sights on more important issues. And once that becomes evident, it is important to take that step and leave those who are spiritually and logically (and perhaps psychologically) self-destructing to their own devices. But that is enough on the aforementioned subject for the present time.


{1} Pope John Paul II's 1998 Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio may well be the best work on the subject of the relationship between faith and reason. The late pontiff was heavily influenced by St. John of the Cross -indeed his doctoral thesis was on St. John's Dark Night of the Soul. From a Catholic standpoint, this is a hghly authoritative magisterial statement on the matter; however that does not mean that non-Catholics cannot benefit as well.

Society today tends towards either overrationalization which disparages spirituality or a kind of mystical fideism which disparages reason. Pope John Paul II's Fides et Ratio is an excellent antidote for these tendencies. Because it is a very philosophically deep work, one should not read it too quickly. But one should give it a read if they are interested in the subjects of faith or reason and do not understand why each needs the other to properly achieve its intended function. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 14, 2005)]

{2} Bastiat's theories heavily influenced a number of my earliest influences including Senator Barry Goldwater and President Ronald Reagan. (I believe I can see traces of them in the methodology of Mike Mentzer as well in retrospect.) And the principles enunciated in this work continue to influence some of the commentators I like to read most -such as Dr. Walter E. Williams. [...] Dr. Williams has called Bastiat Liberty's Greatest Advocate and has declared that he "easily outranks any of our founding fathers." I have to concur with this because unlike the others, he presented a weltanschauung for viewing the subject of law that is consistent and practical. The best part about Bastiat's work is that he was an economist who wrote not for the ivory tower but for average people. As one who had to endure the classroom presentation of economics in college, I could appreciate this approach. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 14, 2005)]

{3} Again, Senator Lott's comments were made in an unofficial capacity at a birthday party for Strom Thurmond, not on the floor of the Senate in official capacity as Durbin's comments were.

{4} See the addendum I affixed to this post four days ago for a bit more information on that subject. Additional reasons influencing this decision were also noted HERE.

{5} Not to mention prevarication and a manifested lack of Christian charity.

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On the Subjects of Papal Authority and Church History:

This is a good part of the text of a discussion I had with an inquiring non-Catholic in Dave Armstrong's weblog comments boxes. (Refined a little for posting here.) My interlocutor's words will be in black font.

It is always easier to cobble together objections than it is to respond to objections: the latter requires far more type and time. Your long posts cover well-trodden material already and deals with nothing new...indeed I was responding to these kinds of things years ago on message boards and bulletin board services as were many others. And over the years, I have come to believe via experience that the subject of infallibility is not best dealt with by those who do not understand the subject of papal primacy and also fundamental Catholic ecclesiology. Your objections reveal that these are areas you need to understand better before an intelligent discussion on infallibility could be had.

Nonetheless, as a kind of concession, I will dispatch with three of your points here because (i) that is all the time I have to do this at the moment and (ii) it will provide you some food for thought. Without further ado, here we go...

But the text you are using ( Matthew 18) is mostly about behavior, sin, and life. Yes, it includes doctrine; certainly heresy and false doctrine is sin, and included in Matthew 18 — and the church must excercise its authority in all the matters of doctrine, unity, and behavior and sins.

Matthew xviii has more than one means of fulfillment. There are matters of doctrine and matters of discipline. The powers of binding and loosing apply to matters of discipline (including the sacrament of penance and reconciliation) and matters of binding to doctrine. There are also the means of applying a doctrine which can vary depending on numerous contingent factors but I do not have time to delve into that right now. It suffices to note that Matthew xviii has many applications and not just one...something that you have yourself admitted to in the above excerpt.

A good example of this is Cyprian,(around 250-256 AD) who disagreed with Stephen, bishop of Rome. Cyprian was right and the North African local church used its own local juridical authority to follow Matthew 18.

That does not explain why the Church Fathers themselves almost all sided with Stephen though!!! Cyprian was so on his own here that the only significant ally he could find outside of the African Church was Firmilian of Cappadocia. Neither Firmilian nor Cyprian claimed that Stephen lacked the authority to do what he did...they complained about how arrogant Stephen was in his wielding of authority but no claim was made that he did not possess the authority to pronounce on the matter. I noted this in a couple of writings on the papacy and papal primacy including a small essay on the ante-Nicene development of papal primacy. Cyprian's main problem is that he advocated in the strongest of terms a theory of ecclesial unity founded on the Roman Church that later on (when his own theory was against him in the dispute with Stephen) he tried to modify in a manner that ended up being incoherent. I wrote the following on St. Cyprian almost five years ago and stand by every word of it today:

Like St. Irenaeus, St. Cyprian it is quite clear had no problem with the Bishop of Rome exercising a wide span of authority. In the case of St. Cyprian he had urged Pope Stephen (before falling out of favour with him) to send to Gaul, excommunicate the Bishop of Arles, and supply a successor (cf. Epistle 68, 3). So it seems that Bishop Cyprian's problems were not with Pope Stephen exercising a wide span of authority (as Arles was in France about five hundred miles from Rome) but only when the Bishop of Rome opposed his (Cyprian's) positions. However, before the controversy with Stephen (and even afterwards) Cyprian is still an effective witness, both in a positive as well as in a negative way, of the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome. In speaking of St. Cyprian of Carthage, Fr. Afanassieff makes the following observations, which bear noting:

"According to Cyprian, every bishop occupies Peter's throne (the Bishop of Rome among others) but the See of Peter is Peter's throne -par excellence-. The Bishop of Rome is the direct heir of Peter, whereas the others are heirs only indirectly, and sometimes only by the mediation of Rome. Hence Cyprian's insistence that the Church of Rome is the root and matrix of the Catholic Church [Ecclesiae catholicae matricem et radicem]. The subject is treated in so many of Cyprian's passages that there is no doubt: to him, the See of Rome was -ecclesia principalis unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est- [the Principal Church from which the unity of the priesthood/episcopacy has its rise]." (Fr. Nicholas Afanassieff: "The Primacy of Peter" Ch. 4, pgs. 126-127 circa 1992)

St. Cyprian says almost the exact same thing in his own words when speaking of the temerity of the Novatian schismatics of his time to appeal to the Church of Rome as this interpretation of Fr. Afanassieff's. It is further interesting to note what Cyprian himself stated about the faith of the Church of Rome and how it factors into what the Church of Rome has always claimed for herself:

"After such things as these, moreover, they still dare--a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics--to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access." (St. Cyprian: To Cornelius, Epistle 54/59:14 ( A.D. 252), in ANF, V:344*)

How could faithlessness have no access to the Church of Rome??? It is a rather strange statement unless it referred somehow to the Church of Rome having some sort of special function in the church. The decisions of Rome predetermining the attitudes and actions of the other churches is evidence of a form of universal jurisdiction being utilized a long time before Nicaea. This is even admitted by the renowned Orthodox scholar Fr. Alexander Schmemann (albeit by implication). The following quote is from the book Primacy of Peter again this time on the topic of universal primacy. Fr. Alexander Schmemann was dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary for over twenty years where he taught church history and liturgical theology. His observations are very revealing and (this author has found in dialogues with Orthodox apologists) to be one hundred percent on the money as far as how Orthodox controversialists view the primacy of Rome:

"Finally we come to the highest and ultimate form of primacy: universal primacy. An age-long anti-Roman prejudice has led some Orthodox canonists simply to deny the existence of such primacy in the past or the need for it in the present. But an objective study of the canonical tradition cannot fail to establish beyond any doubt that, along with local 'centers of agreement' or primacies, the Church has also known a universal primacy...

It is impossible to deny that, even before the appearance of local primacies, the Church from the first days of her existence possessed an ecumenical center of unity and agreement. In the apostolic and the Judaeo-Christian period, it was the Church of Jerusalem, and later the Church of Rome -- "presiding in agape," according to St. Ignatius of Antioch. This formula and the definition of the universal primacy contained in it have been aptly analyzed by Fr. Afanassieff and we need not repeat his argument here. Neither can we quote here all the testimonies of the Fathers and the Councils unanimously acknowledging Rome as the senior church and the center of ecumenical agreement.

IT IS ONLY FOR THE SAKE OF BIASED POLEMICS THAT ONE CAN IGNORE THESE TESTIMONIES, THEIR CONSENSUS AND SIGNIFICANCE. It has happened, however, that if Roman historians and theologians have always interpreted this evidence in juridical terms, thus falsifying its real meaning, their Orthodox opponents have systematically belittled the evidence itself. Orthodox theology is still awaiting a truly Orthodox evaluation of universal primacy in the first millennium of church history -- AN EVALUATION FREE FROM POLEMICAL OR APOLOGETIC EXAGGERATIONS. (Fr. Alexander Schmemann: "The Primacy of Peter" Ch. 5, pgs 163-164 circa 1992)

It is certainly possible (and most likely probable) that there are multiple ways of interpreting the evidences that are complementary of one another in some form or another. However, interpreting the evidence in a juridical manner is not necessarily a falsification of the real meaning of universal primacy. (Though in and of itself such an analysis would be an incomplete one.) That Orthodox apologists belittle the evidence is an understatement but this admission by a renowned Orthodox scholar such as Fr. Schmemann is significant. [I. Shawn McElhinney: Excerpt from The Ante-Nicene Development of Papal Primacy (c. 2001)]

I also mentioned the situation with Cyprian a few years later in a weblog post series on Church Models throughout history in one of the footnotes:

Most scholars believe that St. Cyprian's enthusiasm for the See of Peter as the root and matrix of the Catholic Church was diminished after he was on the receiving end of this same authority. Hence, in the redacted version, he emphasized more the episcopate than the papacy -though in both versions he recognized that all the bishops were what the Bishop of Rome was in episcopal dignity.

To quote BC Butler on this subject from his excellent work The Church and Infallibility written in 1954, in the more Petrine of the two passages (referred to generally as the "Primacy Text"):

The comparison with Ephesians...makes it clear that Cyprian is teaching the necessity of retaining communion with the Catholic Church by retaining communion with the Bishop of Rome. And was it not just because of this that at the time of his conflict with Stephen he felt obliged to "soft pedal" his language in the second edition, preserving the notion of the Church's indivisible unity, but giving less emphasis than in the first edition to the See of Rome as unity's abiding source?

But of course the logic of his own first edition defeated him, and the second version itself only achieves full internal coherence (between chapters 4 and 5) when we mentally re-emphasize the point which Cyprian was trying to blur." [BC Butler: The Church and Infallibility - A Reply to the Abridged Salmon pg. 151 (c. 1954) as quoted by I. Shawn McElhinney in the Rerum Novarum thread An Outline of Various Church Models Throughout History (circa November 23, 2003)]

Nonetheless, it suffices to note that the situation with Cyprian is hardly the slam dunk that you seem to think it was...and as evidence I had recourse to the work of Cyprian himself as well as that of three historians -one Catholic and two Eastern Orthodox. That suffices to deal with the first point.

Matthew 18, in context is talking about local church authority to excercise discipline on someone who is recalcitrant and unwilling to repent. There was no doctrine or belief of 1870 or "bishop of bishops" in Cyprian's time.

This is not completely accurate. But to understand the reason why, I refer readers to my short essay The Ante-Nicene Development of Papal Primacy -a small part of which was referenced further up in this thread pertaining to the subject of Bishop Cyprian of Carthage.

There is also the multiple applications of Matthew xviii which you admitted to earlier. Unless you have decided to reject that position, your arguments are to some extent by logical necessity dependent upon it.

Cyprian rebuked Bishop of Rome Stephen for thinking this.

Actually, at no time whatsoever did Cyprian claim that Stephen did not have the authority he claimed to wield.

Victor and Callistus (and later Pope St. Stephen I) all appear to have acted as if they had authority over their fellow bishops, even those that were quite a ways from them geographically. Victor's actions were directed towards the Asian churches while the actions of Callistus and Stephen met with opposition from Africa. If not for a form of Apostolic authority, what could they have based their claims to authority upon and why was the claim of authority itself not challenged??? Catholic author Stephen Ray summed it up quite tersely when he noted that "[I]f the jurisdictional primacy of Rome had been a matter of self-aggrandizement, someone would have opposed it as they opposed other innovations and heresies in the Church. The silence is profound" (Upon This Rock pgs. 12-13 as cited in the authors essay The Tinkling Cymbal of Mr. Critic circa. 2000).

In every case, it was the prudence of the Bishop or his use of the authority he was claiming that was called into question but not the validity of the claims themselves." [I. Shawn McElhinney: Excerpt from The Ante-Nicene Development of Papal Primacy (c. 2001)]

I have long challenged those who take your position to show me one single example from the Fathers where the claims of authority made by the popes from time immemorial were ever proclaimed to be invalid. Thus far, in all the years I have been involved in these kinds of disputations, that challenge has never been met by anyone. I extend it to you but not without warning you that many before you tried and failed to meet the criteria I am requesting. So it would be a serious mistake to think that any old text will suffice in responding to the challenge if you want to do so.

Therefore, the 1870 dogma is anachronistic and it fails in a major way here.

As all the points you set forth to come to this conclusion were found wanting, there is no reason to give this assertion the time of day.

What about all the examples of church history when the church was wrong in behavoir, discipline issues? Are you jumping from Matthew 18 to 1870?

You are presuming that alterations necessarily mean that there was an error in judgment. This kind of static approach you have to variegated times and circumstances is of no small problem for you. Sometimes an approach can be right in one set of circumstances and not right in another. That does not mean that either one is necessarily erroneous.

"The answer will only be useful if it is 100% guarenteed to be God's will." That is a massive statement that is easy to disprove, because even you and all RCs admit that the church has made mistakes in behaviors, sins, actions, and church discipline issues.

I have never made the admission that there was necessarily an error in any church actions or disciplinary issues. As for the other two points, yes there were some unfortunate circumstances in history of weakness and corruption. No one denies that. But as it does not impact the issue of doctrine and moral teachings which is what infallibility pertains to in its direct and indirect spheres of application, your attemot to mix apples and oranges here is a non-sequitur.

Don't you see that you cannot use Matthew 18 to back up infallibility the way you define it, without having impeccability ( sinlessness) also. Therefore, that argument fails.

Not if you admit that there is more than one application of Matthew xviii...and I remind you that you did just that in your previous statements. So again, you contradict yourself or you need to recognize your previous principle as valid (which it was) and recognize the incongruity of what you say now with what you noted earlier on. There is either multiple applications of Matthew xviii or there is not. Which is it???

You cannot claim this idealistic "wouldn't it be nice to have that living voice who can solve all problems?" and then only find out later upon careful investigation that it only works for 1854, 1870 and 1950 and maybe it was only excercised TWICE in all of history !!!!

This is why I said early on that it is pointless to discuss infallibility without an adequate understanding of papal primacy and Catholic ecclesiological distinctions. Futhermore, as most Catholics do not understand the proper scope of infallibility,{1} it is nothing to be alarmed about that a non-Catholic like you seriously misunderstands this concept as well.

Where in history before 1870 do they define what an ex cathedra statement is?

See my previous comments. There is more to infallibility than ex cathedra statements...much more actually.

And no one yet has shown which and where are all the ex cathredra statements written down in a one volume book, so that others can examine them?

As I noted already, there does not have to be. But to explain this would mean delving into the subject of doctrinal development and trust me...if you do not understand papal primacy and Catholic ecclesiological principles adequately enough,{2} it would not be a productive dialogue to delve into the subject of development of doctrine except very sparsely and (out of necessity) with regards to its application to papal primacy.

It is because there is no such thing and there is no agreement among Roman Catholics on which ones are which, private, active, public, passive, negligence, failure, action, doctrine, behavior, etc.

Again, your statement is permeated with deceptive half-truths. (I trust that you err in good faith though lest you wonder.)

If this doctrine was truly the gift of God and He wanted to give this gift to the bishops of Rome from the very beginning of Peter's confession, it seems that God would have made it more clear and repeated this "gift of God" more clearly in the process of history in order to give evidence of the final development of 1870.

There is more than adequate historical support for the doctrine of papal primacy and authority. Infallibility is a corollary extension of those principles and (because it is more ancillary) does not have the same degree of historical verification. But what is there is adequate provided that you properly understand the subjects of papal primacy and Catholic ecclesiological principles. That you do not adequately comprehend the latter two areas makes it highly improbable that you will see what history does teach on these matters. But that is a subject to possibly discuss at another time.


{1} Nor do they actually have to if we really want to get technical about it.

{2} Judging by what you have written, you do not understand these principles very well.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

On the 2006 Elections and Historical Patterns:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

I had a phone conversation on Sunday night with a friend who frequently reads this humble weblog. Within that conversation, the subject of the 2006 elections came up and I outlined a strategy for those elections which included a "recess appointment" for John Bolton. It is nice to see that the Bush Administration is actually considering this option because politically it is a very savvy move. For those who know their history, political savvy is going to be needed in much greater supply than normal in the next year and a half. I will outline in this post reasons for that seemingly bold assertion.

To start with, I have noted before that a year is an eternity in politics.{1} For that reason alone, what seems like a certain thing now may not be that way a year from now. (Let alone a year and a half from now.) But that does not mean that there are not certain lessons that history can teach us of general tendencies which can give us probablities of what is more likely than not to happen. And it is utilizing the latter that I intend to do in the rest of this post in discussing the 2006 elections.

By all historical indicators of norms, the 2006 elections should favour the Democrats because historically the party which holds the White House loses ground in the midterm elections of a two-term president as a rule. And while many might scoff at the idea of the current crop of Democrats achieving that kind of feat, it frankly does not matter as a rule how potent or impotent they are politically. And as a brief outline from recent history should help clarify this a bit, that is what we will do at this time.

Of the presidents who were elected or served two terms or more in the twentieth century, we have Theodore Roosevelt{2}, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman{3}, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon{4}, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. And while we could perhaps take this examination back more than a hundred years, a century should suffice to show a definite pattern of probability. So let us do that now starting with the presidency of the twentieth century's greatest president: Theodore Roosevelt.

What happened with the 1906 midterms under Teddy Roosevelt for the Senate is irrelevant since senators were not elected until the 1914 elections. So from what was elected in 1906, we have the House of Representatives and the Republicans lost seats in that midterm election. Our next two termer was Woodrow Wilson and Wilson's party was severely chastised in the 1918 elections in both houses of congress.{5}

In 1926, the incumbent president was Calvin Coolidge and the Republicans controlled Congress. Those facts did not change after the election but the Republicans did lose seats in both houses despite retaining control of both bodies. Franklin Roosevelt's party lost a lot of ground in the 1938 midterms{6} and under Truman the Republicans regained control of the two houses of Congress in the 1946 midterms for the first time since 1933.{7}

Despite winning in 1956 by a landslide in the presidential elections, the country went into a minor recession in late 1957 which carried over into the 1958 midterms. The result was that the Reoublicans lost seats in the 1958 second term midterm election.{8} We all know what happened in the midterms after Richard Nixon's landslide 1972 election win: the president resigned and Republicans did not escape the fallout in the 1974 elections -losing badly in both houses of Congress. Ronald Reagan it is true won by a landslide in a three way election in 1980 and saw the Republicans capture the Senate for the first time in twenty-five years. But the economic proposals he set forth in 1981 were not to bear fruit until 1983 and his party failed to capture the House of Representatives in 1982 as a result.{9}

Despite President Reagan winning the 1984 election with the largest landslide in history, the Republicans did not fare well in 1986. Though they only lost five seats in the House and eight in the Senate, the result of the latter was losing control of the Senate which they had held since 1980.

Whatever one wants to say about President Clinton, the 1998 midterms were kinder to him than they were to his predecessors in the twentieth century. Though the Republicans retained control of both houses (which they won in landslide fashion in the 1994 midterms), they actually lost five seats in the House and the senate remained unchanged. 2006 will be the midterm elections of George W. Bush's second term. And while Republican strategists can take solace in seeing the last two term president avoid the second term jinx, that should properly be seen as an anomoly of the general trend.

Knowing that, what can the Republicans do to avoid falling prey to the probabilities of history??? Well, I believe recess appointments are the key here. President Bush should appoint Bolton to the UN Ambassadorship in recess capacity and also appoint a bunch of the judges that the Democrats are unconstitutionally filibustering. That will ensure that they serve until January of 2007 and would make the subject of the judiciary and the UN appointment of Bolton election issues in 2006. In light of the fact that (i) most Americans do not appear to be enamoured of the judicial filibustering of the Democratic Party and (ii) in light of the general dislike of most Americans for the UN, these would be excellent election gambles for the Republicans to make.

Again I must specify that the Republicans have to make some proactive moves now to prepare for 2006 and the apparent inclination to recess appoint Bolton is an excellent start. I would recommend as three additional strategies that they (i) recess appoint all the judges that the Democrats did not agree to avoid filibustering in the so-called "filibuster deal",{10} (ii) persuade President Bush to make as his first nominee for the Supreme Court one of the three candidates that the Democrats agreed to not filibuster at the apellate level, and (iii) persuade a solid candidate to run against Hillary Clinton in 2006 for her New York Senate seat.

The best candidate for potentially defeating Hillary Clinton in the opinion of your humble servant is Rudy Giuliani. Rudy is quite likely (in light of the liberal climate of New York politics in general) one of the only candidates that could conceivably defeat Hillary in 2006 for her Senate seat. A defeat in 2006 would kill her viability as a presidential candidate in 2008.11} Even if Rudy did not beat her, he could conceivably weaken her enough to have a vicious primary fight for the nomination which she would be less likely to win. Either way, the Republicans would be fools to not try and take her out of the 2008 running in 2006...even if the end result is that she wins by a slim margin and is thus more vulnerable in 2008. Let us hope that the Stupid Party{12} actually does not live up to their well-earned nickname...let us hope...


{1} A year before a presidential election is an eternity in politics. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa Decembr 9, 2003)]

I trust that the reader recognizes that this principle applies equally as well to any kind of political election as it does to presidential elections.

{2} TR assumed the presidency on the assassination of President McKinley in 1901. But for all intensive purposes, he served roughly eight years or two terms so I include him here.

{3} Truman assumed the presidency after FDR died very learly in his fourth term and was president until the inauguration of Eisenhower. So he for all intensive purposes served two terms too.

{4} He was elected for two terms; ergo I include him here.

{5} The Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress.

{6} The Republicans gained 72 House seats in that election and 6 Senate seats.

{7} I realize this is not a second term midterm example but it suffices to show that even first term midterms can be problematical at times for the incumbent party holding the executive branch.

{8} The Republicans lost 48 House seats and 13 Senate seats in the 1958 midterms.

{9} See footnote seven.

{10} This would expose that so-called "filibuster deal" for the sham that it was - and with all likelihood right in the middle of the 2006 election season.

{11} [A]ll of this is reason enough to make sure that the Democrats lose in '04. That will buy us time to persuade New Yorkers to dump her from the Senate in '06. Because I do not believe she would run in '08 if she was defeated in '06. After all, if a Democrat cannot win in New York - which like Massachusetts is basically a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party politically - then they will not win the White House. But if she wins in '06, she will run in '08 even though she will probably claim in the '06 campaign that she will serve out her term. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 30, 2003)]

{12} By those of us very conservative Independents who cannot give the Republican Party our loyalty because of the sickening degree of "me-tooism" amongst the Republican Party viz. how they govern: which is 180 degrees different from how they campaign to win elections.

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Monday, June 20, 2005

On Pseudo-"Peacemakers", Lawful Plunder, and Possible Remedies:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

The bulk of what is posted here was originally posted to a points to ponder thread yesterday. However, as what was originally posted was in a form that tended to make that thread more confusing, it seemed appropriate to me to abridge that entry and repost the bulk of the expository material here for greater development of the ideas initially set forth.

The essence of what I noted in that thread is that many of those who claim to be "peacemakers" are seeking essentially the abolition of all war do not realize the logical implications of their position. For you see, they are shilling (whether they know it or not) for a totalitarian form of government that cannot be opposed by individual nation states. They therefore must be opposed on all fronts no matter how they try to disguise their noxious poison with the honey of "compassion" or "concern for their fellow man." As the form of totalitarianism they are shilling for is not evident on the surface, it was deemed appropriate for that reason to move the expository material here and develop it a bit more to illustrate this point better.

If one looks below the surface rhetoric at the reality of what the self-styled "peacemakers" profess in other areas, it is quite evident and that is the totalitarianism of socialism ingrained in the law of society and the populace and without any remedy for removing it. This is what happens when you have what the late Senator Barry Goldwater referred to as "those gentle collectivists who ask permission to play God with the human race" (cf. The Conscience of a Conservative). The only difference is, when Goldwater wrote those words nearly fifty years ago, they were merely asking. In the past couple of decades, they have gone from merely asking to outright demanding it. When this is combined with attempts by so-called "peacemakers" to outlaw all war and advocates for so-called "gun control" attempt to remove from the populace any potential to (in the words of Perry de Havilland of Samizdata) [raise] the marginal cost of tyranny, all of this makes for a ghastly combination that seriously threatens authentic freedom everywhere.

I remind you all that Claude Frederic Bastiat warned one hundred and fifty years ago about the dangers of allowing the law to be perverted. He was quite explicit about what would happen when people saw the law either (i) as a means of enriching themselves at the expense of others and/or (ii) as a means of enriching one class of people at the expense of another class. We have seen since that time the very perversions he predicted come to pass all over the world including in the United States whom he reserved his greatest praise for as a defender of liberty.{1}

I cannot help but sense in a premonitory fashion that in light of the collective ignorance and self-serving attitudes of various "social program advocates" that there may be only one way to overcome the manifold perversions of the law that we see today as a result of legislated socialism. And recourse to that cannot be by legal means because once socialism imbeds itself in the legal code of a nation, it does not fear the law. And that is what we have been seeing in recent decades regardless of which major political party is in power.

That is correct my friends, we have two political parties promoting the concept of socialistic legal plunder and being essentially two wings of the same bird of prey. It does not matter that one party campaigns on the pledge of plundering us less and one campaigns on the pledge of plundering us more. Legal plunder is an abomination and is contrary to the very intention of the United States Constitution. When you throw in an assortment of judicial whores and termites not to mention politically motivated whores and termites, it looks increasingly as if we are going to have to do a clean-sweep of this noxious evil if we are to ever rid ourselves of it. The question is, how do we go about doing this???

Ultimately, it will with the greatest of likelihoods involve one of three ways: either (i) mandating civics courses to be taken and those who do not understand the Constitution are thereby not allowed to vote{2}, (ii) establishing a viable third party, or (iii) by the same means which we are seeking to turn back our enemies in the war on terror: through a utilization in some form or another of the military option. I am hoping that we can do so via the first two options -either individually or (even better) taken together. However I sense that we may be too far gone for that. This may be the last generation that can suceed in that respect before our only viable option is a military one.

I will admit that the above musings contain a terrifying proposition within them. However, the more this country supports the plunder that is socialism, the more a military scenario becomes imminent. And as I noted earlier, we would be helpless in the hands of the societal manipulators if the so-called "peacemakers" get what they so evidently want with regards to war; ergo they need to be opposed by those who promote authentic freedom without the slightest concession given to them.


{1} On the whole: he did believe there were two areas where the US was deficient and one of them was slavery.

{2} The same civics courses should be required of all judges at every level of the court system. Those justices who fail should be removed from positions of judicial authority. And those who pass but continue to legislate from the bench should be given a couple of chances to clean up their act or be removed after the third offense.

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Points to Ponder:
(On War in General and Authentic Freedom)

I cannot help in pondering the subject of war come to any conclusion except that if it was ever outlawed, if those who are the most manic of the so-called "peacemakers" among us were to actually achieve their intended aim, that we will have forever enthroned an unstoppable totalitarianism on the world. We need to always have the option of what Chesterton called "the sacred right of insurrection" if we are to have a modicum of restoring societies from the tyranny of legal perversion by bureaucratic termites and whores who see mankind as clay for their own sociological "moulding."[I. Shawn McElhinney: some private notebook musings (circa June 16, 2005)]

[Update: For greater development of the above points, see the thread located HERE -ISM 6/21/05 12:00pm]

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