Wednesday, February 06, 2008

By request, from Joe at the start of Lent

I wish to apologize for having wished publicly that Cdl. Roger Mahony's mother underwent an abortion while she was carrying him. Not only is abortion hideous but it insults those Catholics who revere the hierarchy and takes attention away from the man's episcopal performance. My previous comments served no purpose and unnecessarily offended bystanders.

Having said that, let me reiterate that Roger Mahony is a disgrace to the Church. He must be opposed. Any priests who live in his archdiocese and are reading this must unite and petition Rome for his removal. Rome will listen to the clergy more than the laity. This was how Cdl. Law was removed in Boston.

We all must understand that opposing monsters must not make us monsters.

Lent is not only a time for personal reflection and penance. It is a time to fight those who would take the Church down with them.

— Joseph D'Hippolito

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A reading from the Book of Shea ...

Like some of the others here, I am not opposed to Mark's idea that he write a book about torture for a lot of the same reasons that Victor and Blackadder laid out in the comments of the previous thread. I would actually be fairly interested to read a book that would involve a serious study of the Catholic approach to interrogation, how the US military has approached the problem, and end with a discussion of which forms of coercion that he believes it is licit to support. Mark's general rhetorical sleight-of-hand under which he claims on one hand not to be an expert in the subject yet is more than happy to determine when someone is right or wrong on the issue something that I think it will be very difficult to sustain once he starts writing beyond a few hundred words. If nothing else, perhaps he'll gain sufficient historical perspective to recognize (as anyone who has ever read Republic of Fear would) that torture would exist in Iraq, like it does in most Third World nations, regardless of whether or not we invaded. He will also may even learn enough about real history to drop his zero-sum mentality in this area and refrain from making comments like this:
The fact is, we *have* done just that in the past with Nazis, Commies and Imperial Japanese and we can do it now--without torture.

Given that American police continued to regularly use to what most people today would likely consider torture ("the third degree") well into the 1930s as a regular tool of ordinary law enforcement, this is simply counter-factual. This is not intended to justify such techniques, but if Mark wants to invoke history and tradition to suit his point then he needs to take off the rose-colored glasses and ditch his zero-sum mentality when discussing these matters.

Similarly, he going to have seriously engage those Catholics who differ with him on his view of Gaudium et Spes. This includes Father Harrison, Jimmy Akin, and Dave Armstrong among others. I am well aware that there are readers here who hold at least two of the three of these individuals in some level of contempt. Because my interest is in points of truth rather than individuals, I care far more about their actual positions than whether or not they prefer me and Victor to Mark. The reasons for these opinions aside, it is my hope that in writing a book Mark is going to feel under an obligation to actually acknowledge a difference of opinion here or explain why he doesn't believe there to be one.

One other thing that should be kept in mind about Mark writing up a book is that the standards of libel are a lot firmer when it goes to print as opposed to what he writes on his blog. If he intends to start claiming that Michael Ledeen and other prominent neocons support torture, the murder of prisoners, has called for our soldiers to commit war crimes, et al. he may well find himself sued. Victor and I have discussed this before after Victor noted that any decent libel lawyer looking at Mark's various comments on Ledeen over the years could probably find ample grist for a lawsuit. Now that probably isn't a priority right now because a lot of people write crazy things about Ledeen online, but if Mark publishes said claims in a book to that effect I could easily see that situation changing. I would note now as I have before that if Mark's claims against Ledeen are as clear-cut and persuasive as he believes them to be, it is an odd thing indeed that the man's manifold political enemies have refrained from employing them to their advantage. It wasn't like the American Conservative had any such compunctions when it came to labeling the man a fascist in his political beliefs several years back.

Of a similar vein, I have noted repeatedly that Mark's lack of willingness to understand his opponents' positions has contributed to one the reasons why so many people find him difficult to stand. This has led him to make some very bizarre arguments, including a conflation of neoconservatism with realism, Machiavellianism with utopian Wilsonianism, and generally a very confused discussion of political ideology in general that leaves one with the same impression that Inigo had of Vizzini in The Princess Bride regarding his frequent use of the word "inconceiveable:"
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

My primary fear regarding Mark writing a book on this issue is that it will very quickly move beyond the issue of torture into a more general anathema sit against the Bush administration, the war in Iraq, neocons, American conservatism, and the like written in his typically emotional style and lack of understanding about the issues he discusses. In other words, a less eloquent version of the standard Pat Buchanan screed that is lacking only an indictment of illegal immigration. If he does this, he will have quickly moved beyond the realm of a Catholic apologist who comments on politics into the area of a political writer. And if he is going to make those kind of claims in print (something he has generally avoided doing until now), then he can be called to account for them the same way any other political writer might without being able to claim ignorance on matters of politics because he is primarily an apologist.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Mark continues to win friends and influence people ...

As shown both here and here. I could point out the logical fallacies, straw man arguments, and above all his complete lack of charity (all of which have been fixtures for him on this issue), but at this point I think these are pretty clear to anyone who takes the time to read the thread. And while I know Mark regards us here at CFF as nothing more than craven apologists for the Bush administration (we aren't, but that is neither here nor there), I would note that by his own criteria both BenYachov and Jimmy Akin (the latter of whom has made the unforgivable sin of referencing "24," which I don't even watch, when discussing the issue of torture) are part of the "dependable legions of war crimes apologists" who "rite more apologetics for Outrages for the Fatherland and to once again rally the Hannitized realpoliticians to fresh yawps of bloodlust and "24"-induced 'realism'."

Regarding the substantive issue that he is (badly) trying to draw attention to, you don't have to be Mark Shea to read that New York Times story and come away from it with a bad taste in your mouth. If the administration believes that these types of procedures are necessary, then they should come out and defend them in a public forum instead of all this cloak and dagger crap. Judging from polling data on the issue, it isn't at all clear from a public policy perspective that this would be all that controversial an argument. This is particularly the case when their credibility is at an all-time low and they had to know that something like this was going to come out if they tried to do it quietly. As a result, now they have yet another scandal on their hands and fewer and fewer people willing to defend them.

Going back to Mark for a moment, he has said before that he doesn't favor impeaching Bush. This may be, as Publius suggests, because he is simply ignorant of how impeachment works. I would be interested to know, if he operates on reason rather than emotion (as appears to be the case), why it took this story in particular to push him over the edge.

And lest we forget, he doesn't hate Bush. Not at all.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

As I said before, blogging has become less and less of a priority ...

The further Mark continues to identify himself with the fringe politics of Ron Paul. And while I think he makes a number of very valid points in his criticism of the Giuliani campaign here and here, Mark not surprisingly goes off the rails and declares that the Bush administration "did a fine job of playing on everybody's fear and whipping up the tubthumpers against traitors and cowards who doubted the wisdom of the Iraq War." Um, no they didn't, or one assumes that public support for the war wouldn't be continuing to hover at precipitous levels, though I believe it has increased somewhat of late due to the change in strategy under the superb leadership of General Petraeus. I notice that Mark has been rather silent about these positive trends of late, though he seems to be eagerly following the nuances of Hillary Clinton's position on torture.

In any case, Mark is essentially restating the same criticism that I myself have on occasion about Giuliani, which is that his "vote for me because I was mayor on 9/11" campaign is the equivalent of John Kerry's "vote for me because I served in Vietnam" campaign. This is not to imply moral equivalency between Giuliani and Kerry, but simply to note that a slogan is not the same thing as a campaign. I would also note that the fact that he sends surrogates out to the press in order to make dubious claims at his behest strikes me as indication enough that he doesn't have any indication of filling out his issues at this point.

And while on the subject of Giuliani, while it is certainly true that social conservatives are just as fractious as any other group in the GOP coalition, might I note that both the their overt threat to go third party and do some major damage to the GOP in the process completely discredits the argument that Mark has been pushing for the last several years. In short, he has argued that there aren't any serious social conservatives in the GOP and that the entire party leadership are only concerned with money and power. My guess is that he'll either argue that these are social conservatives who have finally seen the light and need to support Ron Paul or he'll hagiography them and seek to demonize anyone anyone who disagrees with the wisdom of running a third party.

As I read through Mark's blog, I also note that neither his tact nor his grasp on reality has improved. A program to put captured al-Qaeda prisoners through what appears to be the equivalent of cult deprogramming is denounced as a Stalinist reeducation camp. Might I point out that the alternative (and the one that Iraqis would be likely to pursue in our absence) would be to execute them en masse? Odd that he would object to an alternative to that, given that he continues to falsely accuse Michael Ledeen of having advocated just that.

Mark's grasp of history has likewise not improved:
We invaded Iraq because the Administration continually suggested there was some link between Iraq and 9/11 and because the Administration insisted there was a lasting, grave, and certain threat that Iraq would deploy WMDs against us. The link is non-existent and the WMDs weren't there. And recent stories are making it clear that the Administration was determined to attack Iraq whether the WMDs were there or not.

I would love to see him document this, given that he has been called to carpet for repeating this false claim on numerous occasions, including on this blog. Of course, this also occurs in that very thread on the subject of Mark's charge that the US has set a Stalinist reeducation camp in Iraq, not that Mark allows such ritually impure sources as supporters of the Iraq war to taint his views.

Similarly, Mark jumped the gun yet again and assumed that the existence of an abridged transcript is the equivalent of the US setting up a full-blown Ministry of Truth and all the totalitarian information control that goes with it. He probably still thinks that, near as I can determine from what he's posted. As ever at Chez Shea, any charity and honest intellectual examination end where the Bush administration begins. No doubt he still believes we're planning to invade Iran any day now.

This might be a useful exercise for Mark on why Ron Paul is a fringe candidate. When you parrot enough crackpot ideas uncritically, people tend to get the impression that you're more than a little looney. Through his pandering to the 9/11 truth crowd, desire to revive an isolationist foreign policy, reestablish the gold standard, and so on, Paul has had more than his share of crazy ideas for people to justifiably label him as a crackpot and a nut. Giuliani's ideas are evil, but they are unfortunately not regarded as crazy by the general public. Since we are a democracy, we have to respect the positions of the demos. Which is why I think that Giuliani is far more dangerous to the conservative movement long-term than Paul ever will be.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mark comments ...

No doubt as a feature of our continuing irrelevance and his lack of interest in our blog. And at a time when I was just about to post a prayer request for his current woes. As Victor and I have repeatedly stated here, as much as we may disagree with Mark we have no desire to see him suffer, either personally or financially. I am aware that there are other people here who may have different opinions on that and I would strongly suggest that such individuals keep it to themselves.

In any case, Mark writes:
No. Mark hasn't [embraced Ron Paul]. But I'm sure it must be a consolation to tell yourself he has.

Short of a public declaration of fealty, it sure seems to this observer as though Mark has. Given his own argument that Victor and I shill for the GOP, I hope he isn't too terribly surprised when what's good for the goose is good for the gander. By the same standards that Mark uses to illustrate that Victor and I desire the abuse of prisoners and war crimes (to say nothing of the election of Rudy Giuliani!), I don't think that it is at all hard to document the same for him with regard to Ron Paul. The complete 180 on libertarianism where before it was a selfish ideology for people without children, knee-jerk defense of the man despite the more egregious things that he's said (including opposition to the war in Afghanistan), the anger at the electorate that he isn't gaining in the polls (except when he is - see the following), and then the embrace of conspiracism whenever any serious criticism of the man gains traction all seem to qualify in this regard.
The funny thing is, Rod Dreher has a lot more unabashed enthusiasm for both Ron Paul and Daniel Larison than my ocassional mention of them demonstrates. Similarly, his words about the Bushies and their conduct of the war have been none too kind for some months now. But since Rod is a friend of Victor's this does not come up here. Oh sure, diane and pauli like to obsess about Rod, but the managers of this site would prefer to keep the focus on Shea-hating. So they simply ignore it in favor of expanding my various chance comments into an opportunity for dimestore psychoanalysis. You never see loooooong ranting pieces about how Rod is cracking up and a menace to the Republic who can safely be ignored (except when you are obsessing over him).

A couple of points here. First of all, Rod is now Eastern Orthodox rather than Catholic, which to put it crudely means that while I continue to pray for his return to the Church, he can say whatever he likes without me worrying about a scandal to the faithful. He has also never tried to pass off his nuttier political or social views as being in synch with the Catholic Church (indeed, his conversion to Orthodoxy would seem to preclude such things) or questioned the fidelity to the Church of those with whom he disagrees. Rod's main shtick, near as I can determine, is crunchy conservatism, which while I disagree strenuously with it as an ideology am not too worried about because it has been repeatedly critiqued by every respectable non-paleocon conservative media outlet that has addressed it. I'm not too worried about the coming crunchy conservative revolution because it is Monty Python's dead parrot sketch as a political ideology. Rod has also been willing to engage those who disagree with him in substantive debates, such as those that occurred on NRO before he decided that he was so much smarter than Jonah Goldberg.

Were Mark's political or theological ideas subjected to this same degree of serious criticism, I probably wouldn't be blogging here. Instead, they have grown a lot shriller and intolerant over time and near as I can determine few within the professional apologetics community have been willing to point out that some of the stuff that he writes, particularly whenever he gets going about neocons or the war, is literally Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and drawn from less than reputable sources. If Mark wants to embrace fringe political views, that's between himself and his critical mindset, but I have a big problem with them being touted from the bully pulpit of the more widely-read Catholic blogs. And this goes way beyond whatever he thinks about interrogation, despite his attempts to pigeonhole Victor and myself into that category because we don't accept his fundamentalist reading of Gaudium et Spes. I have compared this to the issue of Sungenis before he lost his following and I think that it's a perfectly valid one.
Me: I don't mind Rod's remarks on politics much, but I do think the hypocrisy of Victor and his various partners-in-dialogue here is pretty funny. The personal really is the political, ain't it? Why not just rename the place "We Hate Mark Shea and we Can't Stand Zippy Either" and be done with it?

As a practical matter, neither Victor nor myself write that much about Zippy. No doubt that's because (as in the case of Rod) we're secretly in league with him and don't want to expose the connection lest it harm the broader conspiracy. From my point of view, his level of personal arrogance and frequent declarations of his own correctness as a way of ending an argument tend to preclude him developing a broad following. To the extent that he is important, it is largely because Mark tends to outsource most of the actual arguing for some of his claims to him. That said, I don't hate Mark Shea because I don't really know the man. At the end of the day, he is ultimately a stranger who makes crazy comments online with a habit of hurling ad hominems at my character. I could care less for what he thinks about me, but as long as he continues to write crazy stuff I remain concerned for my fellow Catholics. Thankfully, his continued descent into the magical land of Ron Paul has made that less and less of an issue as he becomes more and more identified with the lunatic fringe.


I'll get to what Mark wrote in a minute, but first I want to challenge what both Joe D'Hippolito and Diane wrote about theocracy:
If your analysis of Mark's political Weltanschaung is correct, then he is no different than many ultra-conservative Catholics who (like Buchanan) effectively decry modern civilization in favor of a quasi-medieval model in which the Church, aided by an allegedly benevolent government, had near-totalitarian control over everybody's lives.

I don't think that this description of the Middle Ages is at all true, for the simple fact that totalitarianism was very much a late nineteenth and early twentieth century innovation. Technology (particularly the ability to send and receive information) has done wonders as far as extending the power of the state and there is no way that any monarch from Charlemagne to Napoleon could achieve such feats as those of East Germany where roughly 20% of the population was under surveillance at any given time.

Secondly, I don't think that applying that any kind of totalitarian model to Mark is at all fair to him. For all of his criticism of the modern form of liberal democracy that he believes is run by millionnaires, he retains a very proud view of the Founding Fathers and the United States in general up until about the time that the Baby Boomers gained control of the state. He hasn't ever exactly explained how our political system is to be freed from the grips of the oligarchs (and I don't think that being ruled by oligarchs is necessarily inconsistent with having a society in synch with Catholic teaching, otherwise a lot of medieval Italian city-states are going to get disqualified) but then the practical policy consequences of some of Mark's nuttier ideas have never exactly been at the forefront of his jeremiads. My guess is that he favors some kind of system that "gets money out of politics," which is one of the reasons that I have always been curious concerning his view of the campaign finance reform laws.

On the argument that theocracy is the only legitimate form of government, I would just link to this Orthodox defense of sacred monarchy. I think that the Catechism takes the wisest approach to the issue of government with its emphasis on justice and the common good rather than on the particular forms of government.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

All Hail the Great and Honorable Zipp Huang Shangdi!

In response to the comments of the previous post. While I can't speak for Victor, posting at CoF has been lessened of late due to a combination of factors including the fact that I was of the understanding that Mark was on something of an extended hiatus. That issue having been resolved, part of the problem with continuing a regular posting schedule for CoF has to do with the fact that at the end of the day you really do end up running out of material.

Mark has chosen, near as I can determine, to embrace the fringe political movement of Ron Paul, whose both rhetoric and followers bear a great deal of resemblance to their left-wing counterparts in the Lyndon Larouche movement. In retrospect, I probably should not be surprised by this since Mark has been heading into fringe political territory for awhile now, whether it be his flirtations with the Crunchy Cons or the kookier aspects of the anti-war movement. It seems to me that for all of his warnings about a unified theory of explaining everything that he has embraced just that in his understanding of America. He believes that our representative democracy is essentially a shell game played between wealthy groups of cynical and secular elites who seek to spread abortion and godlessness around the world. While he admits that there was once a time when this was not so, he now regards America as totally identified with Babylon and as such is genuinely uncertain as to whether any of it is worth defending. After all, he is certain that it is the West that will ultimately produce the Antichrist.

The foreign policy view to which Mark now ascribes through synthesis with the likes of Ron Paul and Daniel Larison as well as its logical implications might best be summarized by John J. Reilly's blog from February 2006:
Defeat is editorial policy for American Conservative. Consider this piece, War of the Worlds, by William S. Lind, who argues that there are two great evils today, the Jihad of Fourth Generation warfare and the Brave New World of the West:

The Fourth Generation of Modern War, warfare since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, is the greatest change in armed conflict since the modern era began. It is marked by the state’s loss of the monopoly on war it established with Westphalia and the rise of non-state elements that can fight states and win...Fourth Generation war is giving rise to new forms of social organization. It should not surprise us that al-Qaeda’s goal is not taking power within states but abolishing the state altogether and replacing it with an ummah...

The march toward Brave New World is led by the United States. The main characteristics of Huxley’s dystopia are all too evident in post-1960s America (and Europe). They include a culture where the summary of the law is “you must be happy,” happiness coming from a combination of materialism, consumerism, electronic entertainment, and sexual pleasure; globalism, the elites’ “one ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them” under de facto if not de jure world government; and endless psychological conditioning, especially through the government schools and the video-screen media. Religion is already relegated to the eccentric margins, at least among the elites, if not yet quite forbidden

Readers may amuse themselves by searching through Lind's writings to see how many times he has predicted, indeed reported, the defeat of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past few years.

When Brave New World’s walls come a tumblin’ down—and they will—men of the West may have their opportunity. Bewildered, shocked, sometimes panicked societies will seek alternatives but not know where to turn.

They will, of course, turn to American Conservative's brand of tradition. It worked for Marshal Petain, didn't it?

There are confusions here. Yes, there is a Brave New World faction in the West, whose chief representatives are, perhaps, the transnationalists of the Davos type. It has little or nothing to do with the neocons. The Brave New Worlders have not prospered in recent years. Part of the story is the foundering of the European Union project; part of it is the defenestration of cultural and media elites in the US. The Brave New World is not fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Brave New World not only could not fight a war; it could not survive in a world where war were possible.

I think that there is a lot to this that goes a long way towards understanding the worldview of Mark Shea. He correctly understands the role of religion to a viable culture and society, but he believes that the whole of American leadership is the preserve of godless secularism. At this point I think that he is so far gone that cannot hope for its victory (watch this to surface as a new theme once Iraq is no longer a factor one way or another), because to do so would only prolong the rot. In many ways, Mark is a kind of inverse to Dinesh D'Souza, the latter of whom at least understands enough about Western elites (being one of them) to recognize that there is a distinction to be made in discussing our national leadership. Mark will hear none of that however, for him the whole of any politically active social conservative leadership (which I would argue by definition includes both Neuhaus and Bottum, his denials notwithstanding) are no more than cynical tools for the GOP party machine to get the rubes to vote them into office. He also believes that the fact that Paul has not gained traction (unless he has, consistency is not one of Mark's strong points) is proof of his conspiracy of elites to Soviet-style rig the US election.

Then there is the matter of content. Mark, near as I can tell, appears to have very little in terms of news or information that is original to him. Instead, it seems that what he does is essentially a commentary of what he sees on Drudge, WorldNetDaily, Human Events, and of course the American Conservative. And rather bad commentary at that, given his utter refusal to engage in serious arguments with those he disagrees with on matters of public policy. For long time, he loudly denied being a paleocon (without exactly explaining where he parts ways with them except on illegal immigration, no trivial matter that) but now that he has begun more and more openly supporting Ron Paul, as Darth Vader says the circle is now complete. I wish him well in his embrace in the lunatic fringe of American politics, but I also don't feel nearly as obliged to engage in rapid reply to what he says now that he has descended into the kook fringe of American conservatism alongside Justin Raimondo. If he wants to continue through his fever swamp ideas about the United States planning a massive attack on Iran (with the Democrats complicit, no less) or revenge fantasies about putting Bush and Cheney on trial for war crimes, I am content to let him do so.

You'll notice I managed to say all of this without getting into the issue of interrogation. Mark labeling Victor and myself as "shills for Leviathan" aside, I would argue that by the same criteria he judges us he had best expand that list to include a great many people. Also, if the measure we use is the same that is used against us, I would suggest that his discussion of just who "shills" around Catholic blogosphere is perhaps best represented by his own 180 degree shift in rhetoric when it comes to libertarianism as soon as he pledged his fealty to Ron Paul.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

More signs of a complete disconnect with reality ...

Mark writes:
We initially went to war to destroy them and take out Osama bin Laden. However, that just war got put on the back burner so that we could pursue some other grand End to Evil strategy that had basically nothing to do with September 11 and our inital causus belli. The Taliban is therefore still around, as is Osama bin Laden, who is, we are assured, no longer relevant.

Short of a major and preemptive military invasion into Pakistan, both are likely to remain with us for at least the immediate. I would also urge conservatives not to pooh-pooh Obama's actual proposal on this too much since it may well come to that. However, anyone who has been even remotely following the discussion on Iraq would be aware that regardless of why Mark believes we went to war, we are actively fighting Osama's jackboots there as well. Allowing the enemy to regroup, whether in Pakistan or in Iraq, would be a Very Bad Thing.

Is it not possible to oppose both?

As I and others have noted before:
Yes, there is a Brave New World faction in the West, whose chief representatives are, perhaps, the transnationalists of the Davos type. It has little or nothing to do with the neocons. The Brave New Worlders have not prospered in recent years. Part of the story is the foundering of the European Union project; part of it is the defenestration of cultural and media elites in the US. The Brave New World is not fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Brave New World not only could not fight a war; it could not survive in a world where war were possible.

Reilly earlier made his point this way:
As C. S. Lewis once remarked, there is wishful thinking even in Hell, so we need not take seriously Mullah Kreikar's analogy of Iraq to Soviet Afghanistan. Most Iraqis have a vested interest in the Coalition remaining for a year or two. The parts of the country that lend themselves to guerrilla activity are not the areas where the population is likely to be hostile. There is little prospect of a technological fix for the insurgents, as US Stinger missiles were against Soviet helicopters. The list of differences could be lengthened. However, the outcome of the war in Iraq, as of the Terror War in toto, depends on a similarity: whether the people see the future being offered them as desirable, or at least tolerable.

American confidence on this score is so great that it is rarely even questioned. Consider this assessment by Philip Zelikow, made on the Jim Lehrer News Hour on August 8:

But on the plus side, since we are all being very downbeat about this, let's just notice that in late 1940s, we were competing against a major ideology that had taken power in much of Eurasia, was about to seize power in all of China and had enormous appeal in large parts of the world. Here we are in a struggle of ideas against the foe who says their goal is to recreate a caliphate through blood and fire. If that's the battle of ideas, I think that we are in a good position to win that.

To this I would say that, if the contest is between the Caliphate and the Federalist Papers, we have little to worry about. On the other hand, if the contest is between the Caliphate and The Sopranos or Sex in the City, I am not at all sure that the Caliphate may not have the greater appeal. The problem is not simply anti-moral popular culture, but the collapse in elite morale that made the popular culture possible. The clothes, music, architecture, even the religions of Western countries can be exported on their merits. However, a political culture that embraces the reasoning of Lawrence v. Texas cannot be exported except at bayonet point.

One the points that Mark continues to remain ignorant of is that with the exception of individual cases like Christopher Hitchens or Glenn Reynolds, the people who are pioneering these transhumanist concepts tend to be the ones least interested in fighting the war on terrorism.

Behold the power of Michael Ledeen!

This is Mark, agreeing with my argument that it is not so much Ledeen as what he represents:
It is precisely "what Ledeen represents" that I am criticizing ... It is of *far* greater consequence to you that I am impolite to Ledeen and his repellent moral reasoning than that his repellent moral reasoning underlies all the excuse-making that has been made for the Bush Administration's policies of prisoner abuse, torture and murder.

I assume that he is talking about consequentalism rather than anything that Ledeen has, you know, actually written on the subject. As has been noted, Mark appears willing to accept consequentalist arguments against the use of torture, such as the one that we should not do it because it is not effective. However, that still doesn't explain Mark's level animosity towards Ledeen given that he isn't the only conservative advocate of consequentalism, nor is he by far its loudest voice when it comes to the issue of torture. My short explanation for this would be that because Mark believes that Ledeen advocates the killing of prisoners, he considers no charge or invective against the man to be too severe. At this point, Ledeen to Mark is less of a person with a set of actual positions then he is an abstract representation of why Mark, really really hates neoconservatism and the Bush administration.

This is sort of like his labeling of Gonzalez as "corrupt" because of the Torture Memos. I think that there is more than sufficient grounds to criticize Gonzalez or Ledeen, but Mark because dislikes both of them (in the case of Gonzalez he has openly stated that this is for reasons quite different from why he is currently in hot water), no claim is too outrageous or unwarranted. That is every bit as consequentialist as the arguments that he purports to be criticizing, which is both deliciously ironic and extremely hypocritical. I would even go as far as saying that Mark has basically embraced a utilitarian mindset when it comes to Gonzalez or Ledeen in which he will accept anything (within reason) to try and undermine them because they are both Bad People.

Also, while I think that Paul's comment was unwarranted (a point he himself made), this stream of dialogue looks like more of the behavior of a jilted ex than a Catholic apologist:
But Mark, why can't we have a civilized conversation about how you are a stupid judgemental liar?
Zippy | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 5:05 pm | #


You forgot "mean". Chris and the Girls at the Coalition Sewing Circle are very concerned about meanness. It's so important not to be mean to people who advocate murder. If not for my meanness and the horrible witness I offer as a so-called Catholic apologist, Ledeen might be a saint today. Mean People like me stand between him and his struggle for sanctity. The girls at the Coalition, by gossiping for Christ, are making a mystical contribution to the holiness of the world and helping guys like Ledeen find the love of God by affirming him in his well-meaning attempts to strengthen the common good through war crimes. If I knew the first things about *real* Catholic faith and love I would know this and stop picking the poor man apart just because he advocates cold blooded murder and tries to pass it off as "thinking more deeply". When you are a heartless lying bastard like me, you constantly are trying to take the speck of murder out of other people's eyes while not attending to the log of impoliteness in your own.
Mark Shea | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 5:17 pm | #

Yes, Mark, you are right about my omission and I don't condone my omission, but lets stay on-topic here. Just what is it that makes you such a stupid mean judgemental liar?
Zippy | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 5:36 pm | #

Many things, really, Zippy. I mean it's so hard to choose. For one things, there's my complete allergy to even minimal truthfulness. I lie about absolutely everything, just for fun. There's hardly anything I like more than leading people astray, even when it comes to trivial facts. In fact, I'm lying right now.

This is, of course, related to my staggering ignorance. I don't know a damn thing and I don't want to know. Facts are hard and complicated and I think we're better off without them.

Then again, there's my neurotic terror of all disagreement. The mildest difference of opinion fills me with a tyrannous need for approval and a violent urge to shout down the smallest independent thought. My readers live in continual fear of me and only the bravest have ever dared to disagree with me.

Coupled with this is my demented hatred of everything about America and, in particular, George W Bush and my total and complete inability to see anything wrong with any aspect of the Church whatsoever.

Gosh. I'm evil for so many reasons. I'm sure there are more, but being the completely unreflective guy I am, I can't think of any at present. Just remember "Mark is evil" and you will prett much have the gist of it.
Mark Shea | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 5:54 pm | #

Apparently, according to Christopher's brother in Christian dialogue Paul Zummo, not only is all of that true but you are also a sodomite. Though he's too mature to just say so.

Oh the things one can discover by reading the Learned Letters of the Consequentialist Brain Trust.
Zippy | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 6:15 pm | #

It would appear (though I could be wrong) that Paul has just indulged himself in the greatest sin known to the mind of Chris: sarcasm.

I eagerly anticipate the moment when the Girls of the Coalition (led by Chris) condemn Paul's horrifying crime.

Suggestions for fruitful civilized dialogue, Coalition Girls: Be sure and remind Paul what the *original* meaning of "sodomy" is. Then clarify that since neither Zippy nor I are, in fact, homosexual this is nothing other than a shocking calumny. If Paul gives you some song and dance about "using language" and not being literal you be sure and set him straight that words mean exactly one thing and one thing only and there is no such thing as allusion, pun, referential speech or "humor".

Okay Coalition girls, synchronize your menstrual cycles and get clucking. Paul needs to be set straight!
Mark Shea | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 6:39 pm | #

It's useful to note that Mark deleted my ever damaging comment, yaaaawn. Clearly such language cannot be tolerated.

All right, let's get serious. Not that this post will last for longer than the time it takes for Mark to look at the comment's author.

This blog was once a very useful resource, one of the most enjoyable blogs to read in the blogosphere. Over time, the unrelenting contempt for viewpoints that disagreed with mark's own became too much to take. So I just stopped reading (and the blog post that put me over the top wasn't even related to politics, but rather an incredibly cynical blogpost about worship styles, one in which I agreed with Mark's basic opinion, but couldn't take the way Mark just dismissed those that held contrary opinions.)

It's not the sarcasm, Mark. Sarcasm is the essential tone of the blogosphere. In fact, sarcasm is probably one of my favorite things about the blogosphere. Come on, I'm from New York, what New Yorker is going to hate sarcasm.

No, the problem is the contempt - absolute snivelling contempt you show to people that have different opinions. It's like you don't even read what people are writing. This thread is the perfect example. No one's really defending Ledeen here, and yet we're all just "consequentialists" because we happen to disagree with the way you've framed Ledeen's writing. There's no attempt whatsoever to even address the arguments other than through a wave of the hand. Throw some ad hominem, sprinkle off a few tired cliches, and just dismiss others. Lovely. Surely a Christian way of blogging.

And no, my comment on CFF was NOT a Christian thing to write. That's why I stay away from this blog and others like it. Quite frankly it brings out the worst in me. I think you bring out the worst in a lot of people, Mark.
paul zummo | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 6:55 pm | #

Paul: N.B., I'm not a sock puppet. I'm an unshaven clown. YOW! ARE WE HAVING FUN YET!?!?!?!
Zippy | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 6:59 pm | #

Paul, my good woman:

I love that you carefully track the discussion, urge the Coalition ladies to pay close attention, and then come over here to feign boredom--twice!. And that bit about "Yes. It *was* unchristian of me, and that's *your* fault!" That's just great. You ladies at the Sewing Circle stay beautiful. 'Kay?
Mark Shea | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 7:10 pm | #

Psssst. Donald. Mark's tone has always been one of satirical hectoring and abuse. That is part of what has made CAEI what it is. Just ask the gay brownshirts, stem cell cannibals, those in favor of offing useless eaters, the lidless eye, virginity-and-children-despisers, and the evil party. Among others.

What has changed is that when torture went on the list of things being satirized - and the irony of this is really quite beyond words - the exquisite sensitivities of a few CAEI regulars to the idea that torturing prisoners isn't acceptable were violated, and Fun Mark suddenly became Nasty Mark in their eyes.

Oddly, it wasn't even Mark's condemnation of the unjust war in Iraq or the annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki dissent party that sent Victor the Impaler of Anti-Concepts and his passive-aggressive pal Fair and Balanced Christopher off in a huff. It was torture. Sure it is OK for Mark to criticize torture in the abstract, but his usual writing style is just unacceptable on that particular subject.

That is pretty interesting.

So now of course he's Nasty Mark on all the favorite Republican issues he's criticized. But it isn't the spoon that bends: it is you that bends.
Zippy | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 7:46 pm | #

There is no spoon.

There! Somebody had to say it!
Mark Shea | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 7:50 pm | #

Oddly, it wasn't even Mark's condemnation of the unjust war in Iraq or the annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki dissent party that sent Victor the Impaler of Anti-Concepts and his passive-aggressive pal Fair and Balanced Christopher off in a huff. It was torture. Sure it is OK for Mark to criticize torture in the abstract, but his usual writing style is just unacceptable on that particular subject.

Sigh. This is an act of complete futility, but I just want to make something clear before I depart. Mark's comments on torture didn't send me off in a huff. I stuck around quote a while during that whole escapade. Frankly, I didn't necessarily disagree with what Mark said, but the way he completely dismissed contrary opinions. What was especially frustrating was the way Mark got all huffy when people would ask, "What exactly is torture?" Mark snottilly dismissed those who asked the question - but guess what, some of us actually want to know. I am not as invested in the debate, nor do I know as much of the history and theology of the issue, as either Mark, you, Victor, Donald, etc. I actually wanted to find some answers, but that was impossible to find here.

But I stuck around because Mark was still good on the Catholic theological issues. Heck, he's the guy I wrote e-mails to searching for advice, even after this debate raged (I think). But then there was a blog post, and i can't remember what it was about specifically, but it had something to do with liturgical matters. And mark's tone - even though I didn't disagree with the underlying assertion - so peeved me that I vowed to stop reading. And, by and large, though with exceptions, that's what I did. It had nothing to do with torture, it had to do with religious issues, and not on something I disagreed with Mark about. It made me realize just how arrogantly Mark acted and how contemptuous he was of people that finally made me realize to vamoos.

And so I do.
paul zummo | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 8:15 pm | #

And mark's tone - even though I didn't disagree with the underlying assertion - so peeved me that I vowed to stop reading.

And here you are: still not reading. And very, very carefully to boot. With all the Ladies in the Coalition Sewing Circle that Has Nothing to Do with Making Excuses for Consequentialism or Anything. And yawning. Twice. Because you're not obsessed with me or anything.
Mark Shea | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 8:46 pm | #

"And here you are: still not reading."

Except that paul made it abundantly clear that he has not observed his abstinence with perfect fidelity: "And, by and large, though with exceptions, that's what I did."
Mark Adams | 08.02.07 - 9:21 pm | #

As someone noted earlier in the thread, we were called upon to be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves, not the other way around.

Also, since Zippy appears to lack basic reading comprehension on our positions, let me resolve this difficulty for him:
Psssst. Donald. Mark's tone has always been one of satirical hectoring and abuse. That is part of what has made CAEI what it is. Just ask the gay brownshirts, stem cell cannibals, those in favor of offing useless eaters, the lidless eye, virginity-and-children-despisers, and the evil party. Among others.

What has changed is that when torture went on the list of things being satirized - and the irony of this is really quite beyond words - the exquisite sensitivities of a few CAEI regulars to the idea that torturing prisoners isn't acceptable were violated, and Fun Mark suddenly became Nasty Mark in their eyes.

Oddly, it wasn't even Mark's condemnation of the unjust war in Iraq or the annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki dissent party that sent Victor the Impaler of Anti-Concepts and his passive-aggressive pal Fair and Balanced Christopher off in a huff. It was torture. Sure it is OK for Mark to criticize torture in the abstract, but his usual writing style is just unacceptable on that particular subject.

First of all, I think that Mark's blog has deteriorated considerably over the last several years regarding his use of satire, straw man arguments, and invocations of righteous outrage. As a practical matter, I don't think that someone like Blackadder (whose only crime was what, exactly?) would have been asked to leave CAEI given some of the stuff that Marv Wood, I'm Not Spartacus, and Morning 's Minion have posted there on occasion. Secondly, a number of us did object to Mark's use of terms like "gay brownshirts" on the simple fact that it was too polemical.

As general rule, once upon a time (and I still think he can do this so long as the issue does not touch on contemporary politics) Mark was willing to leave behind his caricatures when actually discussing these issues. He has in the past for instance been quite willing to move beyond polemic engage in serious dialogue on issues like homosexuality, the culture of promiscuity, traditionalism, stem cells, and the Democratic Party. This was generally a good thing in my view because it illustrated that he understood the distinction between polemic and argument. Even on the Iraq war, he was bound by the issue of prudential judgement to refrain from declaring himself correct in the sense of representing the sole acceptable position of the Church.

When it came to torture and soon spread to all other issues dealing with the Bush administration, however, in my view Mark is completely unable to distinguish between polemic and argument. Oh, and he is willing to embrace all manner of insane conspiracy theories in order to support his arguments. I think that there is ample documentation of this here, given his complete and utter refusal to have any substantive dialogue with his critics that do not include his issuing of anathema sits. When combined with his constant and persistent ad hominem attacks against those who dare to disagree with him while refusing to engage the fact that others like Father Neuhaus and Jimmy Akin (who remain in good company as far as Mark is concerned), then maybe just maybe one can understand why we have such a problem with it. Zippy, for whom there is no argument in which he cannot simply declare himself correct, appears to have trouble understanding this.