Secondly, Dave Armstrong asks in reference of my comparison to Sungenis:
I am objecting to two-three years of ongoing rebuke, with whole blogs and (from the looks of it) virtually entire lives and tremendous energy being devoted to the "anti-Sungenis" cause.
Some of the same people doing this have already squandered (in my opinion, having known them personally) tons of opportunities to do some very helpful apologetics and use of their considerable gifts in other areas, by becoming embroiled in the stupidity and separationism of so-called "traditionalism". Instead, they alternate between bashing popes and Bob Sungenis. It's a sad, very troubling waste of God's gifts.
But on my original point: it's not a disagreement over principle (anti-Semitism and goofy cosmology should be opposed) but prudence (how long and how much energy do we devote to rebuking manifest error, and what better use of our time is conceivable?).
The same analysis applies to this blog. As long as I have given you some food for thought and basis for at least pondering my observation, that's good.
I think that the difference, at least for me, is that outside of his core followers Sungenis has been pretty thoroughly reduced to obscurity. He isn't a major blogger and he certainly isn't seen as a respectable authority on Catholic teaching outside the kook fringe. All of the material seems to me to be available online for those who are interested in following the ins and outs of the Sungenis dispute. Mark, as Dave noted, has been consistently recognized and approved of by ordinary Catholics for his increasingly erratic and loopy views on social and political commentary. Moreover, he isn't an obscure figure by any means and as such I think that it is appropriate to challenge his theological views before they lead other Catholics into what I believe to be an erroneous reading of Magisterial documents as well as an extremely ultramontane view of foreign policy. I would also argue that a lot of his ideas should be challenged on prudential grounds, such as his increasingly warped view of American democracy.
I offer an example to substantiate this, that being Mark's reaction to the Supreme Court upholding the ban on partial-birth abortion. Mark was initially celebratory until it was pointed out that maybe, just maybe he might want to give credit to the GOP whose leadership he accused of wanting to do away with the entire pro-life cause. That led to today's post in which it was noted quite diligently in the combox that the GOP is far from worthless when it comes to the pro-life cause and had Mark's readers followed his earlier advice and supported a third party, this ban would never have occurred. They also noted that his current strong dislike (if not hatred) of the GOP appears to be far more complex than that they aren't pro-life enough for his tastes.
As a bonus, we actually get a real definition for the concept of a unitary executive that Mark has turned into his latest white whale against the Bush administration:
The term "unitary executive," properly understood, refers to the president's authority to supervise and control the executive branch. Supporters of the unitary executive argue that, because the constitution says that "[t]he executive Power [of the United States] shall be vested in a President of the United States of America," and requires him to ""take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," he has power to control all subordinates in the executive branch. This power, as asserted by the advocates of the unitary executive, has taken such forms as Executive Order Nos. 12,291 (Feb. 17, 1981) and 12,498 (Jan. 4, 1985), providing for presidential management and oversight of rulemaking by all federal agencies. Opponents of the unitary executive argue that the agencies got their rulemaking authority from Acts of Congress that implicitly authorized the agencies to exercise independent judgment in making rules with force of law, and that executive orders such as those cited infringe on this congressionally-granted agency authority. Supporters of the unitary executive reply that all authority granted to any agency is implicitly subject to presidential control.
(Really aggressive advocates of the unitary executive argue that there is no constitutional basis for "independent" agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, if by "independent" is meant that the means that the agencies are independent of presidential control.)
Opponents of the unitary executive argue that their view is the more traditional one. As one old authority stated: "It was quite clear that it was intended [by the Framers] that [the president] should not, except as to [those political duties which are not subject to judicial control], be the administrative head of the government, with general power of directing and controlling the acts of subordinate federal administrative agents." 3 W. Willoughby, Constitutional Law 1479-80 (2d ed. 1929). This view was challenged by the Roosevelt Administration, which took steps to centralize the administration of the executive branch, and that trend was continued, and given theoretical underpinnings by, the Reagan and Bush II Administrations.
Note that all this is really administrative law inside baseball, about who has ultimate authority over the executive branch, not about how far the authority of the executive branch extends. Thus, for example, it has nothing to do with whether the president has the authority to detain American citizens indefinitely or without judicial oversight.
My point in highlighting all of this is to demonstrate the same point that a lot of people made in the combox - had people followed Mark's advice (let alone his retrospective advice), this victory for the pro-life movement in all likelihood would not have occurred. At the very least, I think it's safe to say that one would not have occurred under a Gore or Kerry presidency. And as long as this is the message that he is going to keep putting out as his award winning social and political commentary under the auspices of his true adherence to Catholic teaching in contrast to the wickedness of those still supporting the GOP, I hope that Dave and others understand why I feel compelled to challenge it.