Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wow ...

That's about all I can say about this post. I have deliberately avoided commenting about Mark's increasingly bizarre posts, but this one sort of takes the cake for me. After (naturally) reading a Buchanan column, Mark writes:
We won't find out [whether we were lied into war], because our entire ruling class, both Evil and Stupid Parties, is not especially eager to look at the answers in broad daylight. Millionaires (though there are notable exceptions) generally have remarkably little interest in the common good. That's why they are always founding population control schemes. What's good for the common people is that there be fewer of them. Millionaire career politicians virtually never have an interest in the common good. That's why they are millionaire career politicians. And Washington is virtually nothing but a hive of millionaire career politicians.
This is a pretty bizarre accusation that actually sounds more than a little Marxist to me. Does he seriously believe that there is so kind of "conspiracy of the elites" to keep the public from learning the truth about the information that led to the Iraq war? Let alone the rather strange claim that millionnaires are trying to kill off the common people. If he seriously believes that, then we are well into Larouche territory here. It is rather ironic that on the same day that he (correctly) takes Robert Sungenis to task for his use of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that he is essentially launching an equally implausible one of his own.

I have deliberately kept from commenting on Mark's increasingly bizarre posts because I am doing the best I can to stay away from this stuff during Lent. But I think that I can make an exception when we start heading into what is essentially black helicopter territory.

If there is a conspiracy of the millionaire politicians to keep wraps on pre-war Iraq intelligence, then it isn't a very good one. Extremely time-consuming investigations have been conducted by both the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and the independent Robb-Silberman Commission. If Mark or anyone else is actually interested in the results of those investigations, then he can read them for himself here and here. Now they didn't say what the Buchanan Brigade believes to have occurred (that Israel and neoconservatives within the US government manipulated intelligence in order to remove a nation that Israel regarded as an enemy), but to argue that investigations have not taken place are simply speaking counter-factual. And I would challenge Mark, who now claims that he was deliberately deceived by this administration, to read rather than skim through each of those documents in their entirety. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen, either.

Moving right along, Mark is making a category mistake in his argument that the issue at stake in the trial of Scooter Libby is analogous to the Clinton impeachment. Everyone, including Clinton himself, acknowledged that he had committed perjury, with much of the discussion revolving around whether or not it had risen to the point of being an impeachable offense. In the case of Libby, he and his defenders are arguing that no crime in fact occurred. As the National Review editorial on the subject explained:
So why did Fitzgerald go forward? Maybe someday he’ll tell us, but we’re not betting on it. Reasonable people can conclude that it was only Scooter Libby’s imperfect memory—not willful deception—that gave rise to the charges of lying under oath and obstruction of justice. Among the supporting players—including CIA officials, Bob Novak, Woodward and Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, and Time’s Matthew Cooper—no two participants in any conversation about Valerie Plame had the same recollection.
That's quite a bit different than Mark's understanding of how Libby's defenders have presented themselves. Personally, I stopped following the particulars of the case sometime ago. I concluded that Libby would be found guilty weeks ago though, if for no other reason than the fact that the story had already reached national proportions long before Libby got charged. Everyone in DC certainly knew about it and regardless of the facts of the case, and for a number of the jurors it seems that this was their big chance to score one against Bushitleretardespotheocrat. Everything else was likely incidental, including the issue of whether or not Libby was in fact guilty.

Moreover, Mark might want to tell his buddy Buchanan that Libby's conviction, particularly if you read the actual charges against him, had nothing to do with pre-war intelligence. If Pat or Mark knows of anything of that nature relating to Libby, they might want to forward them to Patrick Fitzgerald ASAP because it seems that he was unable to locate it.

Speaking of which, for someone who loudly declared less than a month ago that he didn't hate Bush and that all he ever did was "point out the bare minumum of where Bush does not measure up to Catholic teaching," he sure seems to have developed a rather strong animosity towards Dick Cheney in the space of little more than a month. If he wants to hate Cheney (he apparently finds him repellant), then that's fine. God knows that he isn't alone in that regard. But I do hope that he now understands a little better that it's comments like that combined with his ever-present use of hyperbole that lead people like myself to believe that he maybe, just maybe, might be somewhat disingenuous when claiming that he is simply exercising the bare minimum of criticism against the Bush administration. If anything, he is rapidly becoming a caricature of their critics.

Unfortunately, Mark is now expanding his list of targets well beyond the Bush administration to include large segments of his countrymen. He asserted that most conservatives support Ann Coulter's comments at CPAC. As was noted in the combox, that is simply untrue and Mark's reply is more or less that Coulter received a warm reception from Sean Hannity, who is apparently the font of all things conservative. Moreover, he asserts that most conservatives take a position similar to Hannity. This certainly doesn't appear to be the case at Free Republic, as big a bastion of conservative tribalism as ever there were. If Mark is now going to expanding the scope of his telepathy to cover millions of his fellow citizens, he might want to stop and take the time to step off his podium and see what they are actually saying.

Finally, I have noted for quite some time that Mark has argued that the Republican leadership doesn't really care about abortion except as a way to motivate the masses and have criticized that as a vile smear on numerous occasions, to say nothing of a fairly nutty conspiracy theory. Now, however, I see that he has chosen to expand that claim to encompass the entire Republican Party. That is a massive assertion and one that I think that it is entirely reasonable to ask him to put up or shut up on.

As readers know, I support John McCain for the Republican nomination and I will say right now that I do see any circumstances under which I would vote for Rudy Giuliani should he win the Republican nomination. Why that is I will be happy to discuss in another post, but suffice it to say that I do not feel the need to argue that the organized pro-life movement in the United States is dead as a political movement should Guiliani win the nomination. Rather, I will regard it as having been suckered by the appeal of a strong candidate and leader who disagrees with it on most major domestic issues. To relate it back to the Simpsons, it's like when Sideshow Bob temporarily became mayor of Springfield. Homer didn't agree with his Bart-killing policy, but he did agree with his Selma-killing policy.

In any case, I think that Mark might want to take a step back from where he is hurling down his anathema sits. His pharisaical qualities are rapidly expanding in increasingly bizarre directions that have nothing to do with torture.

-- Torquemada
(tho' posted by vjm)


Donald R. McClarey said...

Reading Mark on politics is akin to reading Playboy for the keen philosophical insights of Mr. Hefner. Mark's area of expertise is religion where, although I disagree with several of his conclusions, he obviously has read and thought quite a bit about the subject. His writings on politics reveal a great want of knowledge of the subject matter. His Evil party and Stupid party mantra allows him to flail away at the only political parties that matter in this country and substitutes for serious analysis of political issues and events.

kathleen said...

Unfortunately Shea seems to believe that his expertise in religion makes him an expert in all things having to do with humanity ....and even beyond. i once randomly clicked one of his podcasts, in which Shea put forth his opinion that Earth is the only planet in the universe that hosts life -- and that to entertain another possibility is akin to replacing a belief in God with a superstitious belief in alien saviors. I can only suppose he thinks SETI should be consulting the Vatican (if not Shea himself)

Annalucia said...

`` entertain another possibility is akin to replacing a belief in God with a superstitious belief in alien saviors.''

Wow indeed. There was a 14th century bishop of Paris, Stephen Tempier I believe, who would have excommunicated him for saying that ;-) basically on the grounds that God cannot be limited by our lack of imagination.

Sounds as though Mark is turning into Joe Sobran - who was also a good writer, once upon a time. Pity.

Flambeaux said...

So, as I contemplate a foray into the blogosphere under my real name (for primarily business purposes) do any of you have insights as to how to avoid the pitfalls that folks like Mark Shea have fallen into?

Donald R. McClarey said...

Flambeaux my advice would be simply to write about what you know. Too many people on blogs develop an audience and suddenly decide to pontificate on everything under the sun. None of us are experts in all areas, and it is usually best to stay away from subjects we know little about. Of course that would eliminate quite a bit of the blogosphere, but that would probably be a very good thing indeed.

kathleen said...

if i blogged, i would probably pontificate about everything under (and beyond) the sun -- kind of boring not to -- but with a healthy dose of self-deprecation and perspective about my own limitations. and i would welcome being proven wrong (or at least argued with) by those with expertise.

Phillip said...

Write about what you know. Then learn even more about it.

Joseph said...

Flambeaux, here are some points:

1. It would also help if you did not take yourself so seriously that run your blog as a People's Republic. It's one thing to ban obnoxious bloggers. It's quite another to view anybody who disagrees with you as a potential Enemy Of The State.

1a. In line with the advice above, don't consider yourself "Holy Roman Emperor"

2. Don't take whatever personal problems you might have out on your readers. Deal with them away from your blog.

3. Maintain an identity that's separate from your blog, for your own sanity and that of those around you.