Saturday, April 14, 2007

I spoke too soon ...

He's really gone off his meds here, particularly in the combox, and his responses to those who dare to question his increasingly self-righteous claims are underwhelming to say the least. I suspect that at some point in the future when Bush is no longer in office a lot of his new paleocon friends are going to point out that his ever-increasing use of self-righteous and hyperbolic rhetoric is a huge blow to anyone attempting to argue these positions substantively. This is the same problem that the Christian right in the US has had with people like Falwell and Coulter: their over the top statements tend to make far more enemies than they do allies.

One thing that is becoming clear to me as I read through Mark's comments on the subject of the detention of Bilal Hussein is that he now intends to adopt a reductio ad Maher Arar debating tactic whenever he tries to make a point about detainee policy. Of course, one of Mark's problems with talking about this issue is that he has no real intellectual understanding of it. For him, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, rendition, rendition by or through liaison services (which is, near as I can tell, what happened with Arar) are all part of his white whale issue that he refers to as "torture." That may be true from a moral perspective (though I think that this itself should be subject to a case-by-case debate, abeit one that he is unwilling to have) but from a political standpoint there are a number of serious differences that need to be factored in. At this point however, I suspect his Bush Derangement Syndrome has reached the point (as indicated by his rhetoric) that it is a kind of end into itself for him, a means through which he demonstrates that his continued loyalty to the Magisterium in the face of all his contemporaries who (in his eyes) have sold their souls and loyalties to Leviathan.

Mark writes:
Of course, in the world of the True Bush Believer, where Canadian civilians can be kidnapped, renditioned, tortured and their files squirreled away by the AG as "classified", there will certainly be no problem with just tossing a few wog photogs in prison for no particular reason and for as long as we bloody well feel like. After all, there is (refreshingly) no hint that he's been tortured. He's merely been jailed for no discernible reason because the King of the United States would have it so and nobody can stop him. That's what "fighting for freedom" means, doncha know.

First of all, there is a vast gulf between Maher Arar and Bilal Hussein, not the least of which being that the latter was captured on the battlefield in the company of insurgents in Ramadi. Moreover, according to the US military:
Hussein was arrested in Ramadi on April 12. The military has said he was in the company of two alleged insurgents, in an apartment where there were bomb-making materials, and that his detention was for "imperative reasons of security" under U.N. resolutions. His "strong ties" to insurgents go beyond the role of a journalist, the military has said.

So it appears that Mark's initial claim about Hussein's detention being for no reason (bolded above) are simply untrue. Now Mark can dispute the reason for his detention if he prefers to do so, but his claim that we are holding Hussein for no reason is simply factually untrue. But when this is pointed out to him, rather than retract his claim he responds with this:
It would be sort of nice if, after a year, they could get around to establishing that he's done something and, like, make a charge that sticks instead of just going through a kaleidoscope of trial balloons until they find something. But he is swarthy and Muslim so such details are unimportant. What matters is that he's probably guilty of something and it's safest to keep him locked up until terror everywhere has been eliminated.

Thereby resurrecting the claim that US troops in Ramadi (one of the centers of the Sunni insurgency, mind you) have nothing better to do than detain innocent Muslims. The charge of racism (repeated here, and in answer to the rhetorical question I would detain him if he were black, white, or any other skin color) on the part of the US military that he appears to be trying to insinuate here is nothing short of absurd on its face: everybody in Ramadi is going to be swarthy and Muslim.

Also, had Mark bothered to read the article he might have learned:
Whitman, in his response, said Hussein has been notified and given an opportunity to provide information for consideration in at least two of three military reviews of his detention.

So it appears that Hussein gets periodic reviews of his detention, all which the AP considers meaningless. That is their perogative (just as it is Mark's perogative to agree with them), but to complain that they are not occurring is to deny reality. One of the other little tidbits that Mark might want to consider is this:
AP executives went public with news about Hussein's detention Sept. 10 after months of behind-the-scenes negotiations. They said the news cooperative's review of Hussein's work did not find inappropriate contact with insurgents and that U.N. resolutions do not allow for indefinite detention.

So it seems that the AP is not contesting that Hussein was in contact with the insurgents, they just didn't feel that this contact was inappropriate. The US military, which busted Hussein in the company of two insurgents with bombmaking materials, feels differently. I am inclined to believe the military over a news organization, but Mark is free to disagree. After all, he is so much of a functional pacifist when it comes to Iranian support for insurgents killing US troops in Iraq that he doesn't appear to consider "contact" with the Iraqi insurgency that big a deal. A cheap shot and an unfair one, but no worse than what he hurled at Victor the other day.

Mark then declares:
There was a time when "Michelle Malkin thinks there's something fishy" was not sufficient legal grounds to imprison a man indefinitely without charges. I feel safer knowing that the State need no longer feel constrained by such petty things as "showing just cause" before it locks up whoever it feels like for as long as it feels like. If a royal, arbitrary executive without accountability is not what our fathers and brothers have died for, then what is?

Which, not surprisingly, is a complete distortion of what the commenter actually said:
I've been following his story via Michelle Malkin, for a few years and I am not sure I can give him the benifit of the doubt. As someone with both Northern Irish and Israeli connections, I have seen enough "photojournalists" creating news.

Thankfully, Mark's reaction was visceral enough that someone took note of it this time:
JanJan is arguing rationally and politely for what she views as a balanced assessment of the situation, and Mark and Dale react like she's defending Hitler. Any similarities to DU here? Please examine your reactions and check to see if you're not really enjoying that luscious, visceral, oh-so-righteous hate. I'll happily consider a rational, non-name-calling statement of your positions, but I see you doing your DU impression and I can't read any more. Not that you care, but I keep hoping you'll see that you've slid over to the dark side and try to come back.

Mark, not surprisingly, doesn't see the problem in his own behavior.

The rest of the exchange is interesting enough that it is worth excerpting in full: (removing some posts to improve the flow)
True Bush Believer
(refreshingly) no hint that he's been tortured.
King of the United States
"so-called Catholics".
Bushies
Legal Torture regime
Bronze Age thugs
goon
vice-torturer-in-chief

My idea of name calling is probably technically incorrect, and I apologize for confusing you. I mean the use of degrading terms for people you disagree with. Of course, there is really a need for a shorthand, or you'd be pretty long-winded when describing the situation.

However, in my opinion that's just nitpicking. Anything else?
Kathy | 04.14.07 - 3:02 pm | #

This is nothing new. Mark has repeatedly referred to Bill Clinton as the former Rapist-in-Chief.
Publius | Homepage | 04.14.07 - 3:16 pm | #

True Bush Believer: If you want to offer a defense for locking somebody up indefinitely and without charge, feel free.

(refreshingly) no hint that he's been tortured: If you would like to offer a defense of our very well-documented pattern of torture and prisoner abuse, feel free.

King of the United States. If you would like to offer a defense of an executive that can lock people away indefinitely and without accountability, feel free.

"so-called Catholics": I offered my mea culpa for that lapse here:

http:// www.markshea.blogspot.com...856422653889396

Perhaps you missed it. Or perhaps you simply don't care and would like to say anything to derail the conversation. I dunno. If you would like to explain how this term has been used to insult JanJan in this conversation, feel free.

Bushies: I am mystified at why this colloquialism is "name-calling". If you would like to explain how this term has been used to insult JanJan in this conversation, feel free.

Legal Torture regime: If you would like to offer an explanation of how a government where torture is, in fact, llegal upon the insistence of the Executive is not a Legal Torture regime, feel free. If you would like to explain how this term has been used to insult JanJan in this conversation, that would help too.

Bronze Age thugs
goon
vice-torturer-in-chief: If you would like to explain how this term has been used to insult JanJan in this conversation, feel free.

One very specific point is at issue here, Kathy. Are we fighting a war so that the American Executive will have the right to lock anybody he likes for as long as he likes with no accountability? So far the defenses given have been: "The Pentagon (which isn't bringing charges) assures us it's okay" and "Michelle Malkin thinks there something fishy about the guy". I have this notion that the state should not go around imprisoning anyone it likes indefinitely without giving just cause. I share this weird attitude toward the power of Leviathan with the American Founders. I don't see what's unreasonable about that. It would be good if you could supply an argument here rather than a laundry list of non-sequiturs and irrelevancies.
Mark P. Shea | Homepage | 04.14.07 - 3:23 pm | #

Mark you're reacting angrily, and only to one point. My objection to you terming Cheney as "Vice-Torturer-in-Chief" is not to the fact that you see him as an aider and abetter of torture. "Bushies" is contemptuous. The titles you award to those you hate obscures their humanity. People who fail to accept your terms and arguments without further consideration are attacked scornfully. And you wouldn't do it so much if you didn't really like to do it.
Kathy | 04.14.07 - 3:51 pm | #

I'm not angry. And you only made one point. You said JanJan was making a rational argument and I was just name-calling. I made a rational response to this charge and asked you a question. I'm still awaiting your reply. I will reword it slightly here: Does the American Executive have the right to arrest anybody he likes for as long as he likes without having to show just cause? That is, in fact, what has been done to Hussein. Some reply besides "'Bushies' is contemptuous" would be appreciated.

And, by the way, "Bushies" is not contemptuous. Unless you think Ross Douthat hold the Bushies in contempt.
Mark P. Shea | Homepage | 04.14.07 - 4:28 pm | #

In my second comment I responded to the "name-calling." I said I was wrong about terming it "name-calling."

My subject is not, and never has been, whether or not the American Executive has the right to do anything at all. Why the question? Look at what I said and see if I was referring to the merits of the argument. I'm referring to your attitude. If someone so much as asks a question that may indicate they're not already solidly behind you, your response is that they are evil and in support of terror, and you use your love of language to tear them to pieces without mercy.
Kathy | 04.14.07 - 6:13 pm | #

Do you know why I'm a conservative? I used to go to meetings of a group called the New American Movement. They were radicals who thought the American Communist Party members were wimps. I could understand their point perfectly, being a twenty-something college student at the time. I wanted to save the world, and was very willing to consider their points. Two things happened. A young man came to a meeting. A picture perfect poster boy for the movement. A factory worker, young, strong, handsome, angry, ready to work and make a difference. He was smugly told to shut up, sit down, and listen to the people who knew. The second incident was when I asked a question. I asked it because I was interested in what they had to say, and I wanted detail to help me assess their point. I wasn't condescended to like the young man, I was shut up in exactly the same way you shut people up. How dare I question them. It never occurred to them that I supported their point, they just weren't going to tolerate being questioned.

And why did this lead me to being a conservative? Because I had just finished a course in Russian civilization, and what I saw in this group was precisely what was described in the groups that were involved in the 1917 revolution. The love and mercy for the common people, so well demonstrated by their total contempt for the common people's ability to decide for themselves what was good for them. They're why I still despise the left. Your attitude is perilously close to this.


I also read recently in another blog, a statement by an Indian man. He said that he would rather be a conservative because on racial issues, liberals will love you as an inferior, and conservatives will dislike you as an equal. He'd rather have that. I understand that.
Kathy | 04.14.07 - 6:25 pm | #

If someone so much as asks a question that may indicate they're not already solidly behind you, your response is that they are evil and in support of terror.

This is false. And this thread demonstrates it. I did not say JanJan was evil, nor did I say she "supported terror". Nor did I say that about you. Indeed, I didn't even liken anybody to DU. I did, however, make several substantive points about the dangers of an executive who can imprison anyone he likes indefinitely and without accountability, which is the subject of the thread. So far, in reply, you've given me a number of non sequitursa and irrelevancies, at least one outright falsehood and some autobiography in which you manage to suggest I'm like a communist. I'm glad to see you aren't calling names or anything, but I'd really like to stick with the point of the thread, which is the indefinite imprisonment of a human being without any just cause that we can see. I would think that, as a conservative, you would care about that.

I was shut up in exactly the same way you shut people up.

I have the distinct memory of asking to hear from you a good argument for jailing a man indefinitely without charge--at least twice. I'm not sure how that constitutes "shutting you up."
Mark P. Shea | Homepage | 04.14.07 - 6:41 pm | #

Mark,

I think Kathy has nailed you. I don't think you have any credibility to say: "I'm not angry." Of course you're angry. If you were merely complaining about the powers of the American Executive, you wouldn't use words that obviously express pleasure in giving insult. I mean, read what you wrote earlier this week:

"Clearly Sheehan is not nearly the patriot that our Vice President is. All he's done is serve his country, not contribute to our economy by becoming a zillionaire, or stampede us into a stupid war, and lie to us about torture. When even the Marines hate America by casting doubt on the Administration, how can a great and good man like Dick Cheney counter the treachery?"

It is obvious you think Cheney is evil. You hate the man. And Kathy nailed you: "The titles you award to those you hate obscures their humanity. People who fail to accept your terms and arguments without further consideration are attacked scornfully. And you wouldn't do it so much if you didn't really like to do it."

You like to insult Cheney. If you don't see why that's a problem, then God help you. I don't like Hillary, Bill, Schumer, or any of the left-wing pro-abortionist politicians out there. But I don't go around writing posts saying sarcastically how "good and great" they are and how "patriotic" they are because they support abortion. This is really beneath you. If you have a point about the Executive Branch, you'd refer to the Executive Branch, and wouldn't make quips about the "torturer in chief" and the "brutal incompetents." Insults are not arguments. All they do is show how much you take pleasure in attacking someone.

You. Have. A. Problem.
Sydney Carton | 04.14.07 - 6:55 pm | #

It appears nobody is actually going to address the issue of man who has been in jail for a year without any charges being brought against him and who stands entirely at the mercies of Leviathan. A sudden outburst of exquisite empathy for the tender feelings of an immensely powerful multimillionaire who laughs off waterboarding as "dunking" and who will, in any event, never read my blog has much greater priority for the strangely selective sensitivities of my readers.

Weird.
Mark P. Shea | Homepage | 04.14.07 - 7:06 pm | #

who will, in any event, never read my blog has much greater priority for the strangely selective sensitivities of my readers.

Yeah, and neither will anyone else who can do anything to spring Hussein from the trial-less pokey. However, you do read your blog, and so it is far more useful for your readers to tell you when they think you've crossed the line or indulged in hatred than it is for them to bemoan the treatment of Mr. Hussein.
Publius | Homepage | 04.14.07 - 7:32 pm | #

Mark, it's not Cheney I'm empathizing with. It's you. Don't you think it's a problem that several of your readers think you take vicious pleasure insulting the V.P.?

As for the subject of this post - what can be said? It's terrible that the guy wasn't given a hearing. He should get one. More people should pay attention to it. Maybe there's things we don't know, also. Perhaps the officers who found him have more to say about it than the King of the United States.
Sydney Carton | 04.14.07 - 7:46 pm | #

I can't help what readers think. Particularly if they seem to be more or less dead set on not looking squarely at the fact that, in addition to kidnapping and renditioning one completely innocent man to months of torture in Syria, they now have the case of another man who is being held indefinitely without charge--and the most important thing on their moral radar is that I was impolite to one of the most powerful men on the planet because he laughs off waterboarding done on his watch.

I am grateful that you acknowledge, sort of, that its sub-optimal for the the American State to act like Leviathan under Bush/Cheney. But it would sort of be nice if I detected something of the same passion there as you unleash at me when I criticize the second most powerful man on the planet for gross abuse of his power against the weak and innocent.

Yes. "Innocent". Maher Arar was innocent. The Administration has yet to acknowledge that. Instead, they add insult to injury by hiding his files, forbidding his family entry into the country, and pretending like the hidden files contain "classified" info that implicates him in Something Awful instead of implicating the Bushies in the brutal incompetence that has characterized their mishandling of the war and of basic American ideals of freedom and justice. When you get as passionate about that as you are about psychoanalyzing and denouncing me, Syd, I'll be happy to take your free advice more seriously.

Finally, as to Hussein: if there "something we don't know" the way this is handled in the America whose ideals are supposed be shedding the light of freedom and justice in the New Iraq is a little something called "bringing charges" using something called "evidence". In my country, they can't just put you in jail for time out of mind while the sheriff periodically assures the press "there's something you don't know". If the Administration knows something we don't then they should tell us what it is. If they don't have any evidence to back the charges, they should let the guy go. That's, you know, what we are supposed to be fighting for.
Mark P. Shea | Homepage | 04.14.07 - 7:58 pm | #

I can't do anything about Arar's situation, and since I'm in no position to know all the facts I don't have anything useful to add to that conversation. But one of the things that keeps me from learning more is the way I am repulsed from further reading by snidely nasty commenters. I respect your opinion on many things, but that issue alone is enough to make me very suspect of your opinions in matters relating to the war.
Kathy | 04.14.07 - 8:06 pm | #

I can't do anything about Arar's situation

Sure you can. You can educate yourself on what Leviathan did to him and try to educate others so that Leviathan can't do it again.

and since I'm in no position to know all the facts

What? You can't read?

But one of the things that keeps me from learning more is the way I am repulsed from further reading by snidely nasty commenters.

I'm sorry, but this plea of Ignorance Due to Hurt Feelings wears about as well with me as the pleas that inner city school kids can't be expected to learn how to read because of all the Nasty Racism in America. Exactly nothing is keeping you from learning whether or not Maher Arar was kidnapped, renditioned and tortured. Exactly nothing is keeping you from finding out that he is innocent (not that even guilt excuses kidnapping, rendition and torture). Exactly nothing is stopping you from asking "Why did the Canadian gov't apologize and cough up 10 million bucks?" I think you'r a grown up and not such a slave to your emotions that you let a few words of mine stop you from reading the abundant evidence out there of the wrong our gov't did Arar.
Mark P. Shea | Homepage | 04.14.07 - 8:26 pm | #

I don't understand the Harper's article. From the beginning, it says "The U.S. refuses to bring any charges."

But how can the US possibly bring any charges? This man is not a US citizen, nor was he in the US. So what part of US law could he have violated? And what US court could have jurisdiction where the government of Iraq is (supposed to be) sovereign?

I can understand asking the US to set him free. Or asking that he be turned over to the government of Iraq.

But if the US is to hold him, then in a sense it would actually be more improper to present formal charges than to continue to hold him without formal charges. Hussein is an Iraqi citizen in Iraq. The US cannot legitimately put him on trial.
James Nightshade | 04.14.07 - 8:40 pm | #

"Sure you can. You can educate yourself on what Leviathan did to him and try to educate others so that Leviathan can't do it again."

You really buy what you're selling, Mark? I yield the floor to no one in my distrust of American gov't, American media, American justice... You name it, I'm likely wary of it.

But do you really expect me to believe I can just educate myself and others about a handful of the most egregious deeds perpetrated by our government, and it will stop Leviathan?

I'm not advocating something else as the way to stop leviathan, make no mistake. I think all we can do is pray and fast and endure in the meantime.
Franklin Jennings | 04.14.07 - 8:44 pm | #

Sorry Mark, but you can't sidetrack the issue like that. I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT THE SUBSTANCE OF YOUR POINT, BUT ABOUT THE WAY IN WHICH YOU ARE MAKING YOUR POINTS. Sorry, it's all about you Mark. I can educate myself somewhere that I don't have to read the ugliness you're broadcasting, but that's totally beside the point. Are you unable to see my point, or just unable to concede it? Anger is a sin Mark.
Kathy | 04.14.07 - 9:16 pm | #

"When you get as passionate about that as you are about psychoanalyzing and denouncing me, Syd, I'll be happy to take your free advice more seriously."

I don't have any complaint with the substance of your criticism of the Administration, for the most part. I don't even mind the righteous anger at perceived injustices, and I think that's a good thing.

But that's NOT what you're doing. And if you want to publicly embrace your Dark Side, be my guest. Go ahead and flame away at the VP. In fact, do it more often. Embrace your anger. On a Catholic blog.
Sydney Carton | 04.14.07 - 10:31 pm | #

Kathy:

If you want me to concede that I sometimes get angry, then you should have said so. Of course I do. But from what you initially said it sounded like you were claiming I was being irrational in saying that we are wrong to hold a man indefinitely without charge. I could have sworn that you claimed that, in contrast to this Janjan was being rational in arguing that there might be a good reason for this limitless and unaccountable imprisonment. If memory serves you charged me with suggesting she was "defending Hitler".

Also you said that I called anybody who disagrees with me evil. And that I was, variously, like the DU and the Communists. Also, you gave me the distinct impression I was somehow shutting you (or somebody) up in this thread.

Now you tell me you just want me to admit I get angry? Okay. I admit that. But I don't think that's quite what you set out to say initially and that's why I've been arguing with you.

Guilty as charged. I get angry at times. I just don't happen to think that equates to the claim that "If someone so much as asks a question that may indicate they're not already solidly behind you, your response is that they are evil and in support of terror." Nor do I think I even remotely suggest JanJan was like somebody "defending Hitler". Nor do I think I act like a Communist or a member of DU. While we are on the subject of apologies, it might be nice if you offered one for these false claims.

All this may explain why I don't think it's "all about me" and why I think it would be good to stay on the actual subject of the thread--the imprisonment of a man indefinitely without charge--and not attempt to avoid that with an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of non sequiturs and false claims. Let's all agree that I get angry at times. Mea culpa. If you would be so kind as to offer the same for the claim that I suggested JanJan was like somebody defending Hitler as well as for the claim that I am like a Communist, and for the claim that "If someone so much as asks a question that may indicate they're not already solidly behind you, your response is that they are evil and in support of terror" we'll be all set and can continue the conversation about the atrocious treatment of Hussein.
Mark P. Shea | Homepage | 04.14.07 - 11:00 pm | #

Franklin:

If it were impossible to stop Leviathan then Maher Arar would still be rotting in a Syrian prison.

So the answer is, "Yes. I think we can and must stand up to Leviathan." That's where America came from. It is noble patriotism and deep love of country to resist the State when it does evil.
Mark P. Shea | Homepage | 04.14.07 - 11:14 pm | #

So upon reading this, it seems to me that Mark regards Maher Arar pretty much the same way he did the failure to find WMDs. It was that point that began his long shift towards Bush Derangement Syndrome and diving head-first into the worst fever swamps of the paleocon wing of the anti-war movement. After Maher Arar, he now regards the entire terrorist detention system as fundamentally illegitimate and as such is rapidly descending into the same area that many liberal intellectuals with legitimate concerns about racism unfortunately found themselves in when it came to the police cracking down on black radicals like the Black Panthers. Eventually, they came to the conclusion that while there might be some vague threat for black radicals, it was the actions of the police that were the real danger to the community. That was unfortunate at the municipal level in the United States and it would be even more so were anyone to attempt to take the same mentality internationally.

One thing that I would challenge a reader to ask Mark is if he still stands by his claim back in February that he doesn't hate Bush and just exercises the minimum of necessary criticism against the man.

Incidentally, for those who are interested in learning why Mark's view of the Founding Fathers is inspired more by twentieth century libertarianism than by what the individuals in question actually thought, I would recommend reading Federalist Papers:
THERE is an idea, which is not without its advocates, that a vigorous Executive is inconsistent with the genius of republican government. The enlightened well-wishers to this species of government must at least hope that the supposition is destitute of foundation; since they can never admit its truth, without at the same time admitting the condemnation of their own principles. Energy in the Executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction, and of anarchy. Every man the least conversant in Roman story, knows how often that republic was obliged to take refuge in the absolute power of a single man, under the formidable title of Dictator, as well against the intrigues of ambitious individuals who aspired to the tyranny, and the seditions of whole classes of the community whose conduct threatened the existence of all government, as against the invasions of external enemies who menaced the conquest and destruction of Rome.

There can be no need, however, to multiply arguments or examples on this head. A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.

Taking it for granted, therefore, that all men of sense will agree in the necessity of an energetic Executive, it will only remain to inquire, what are the ingredients which constitute this energy? How far can they be combined with those other ingredients which constitute safety in the republican sense? And how far does this combination characterize the plan which has been reported by the convention?

The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are, first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision for its support; fourthly, competent powers.

The ingredients which constitute safety in the repub lican sense are, first, a due dependence on the people, secondly, a due responsibility.

Those politicians and statesmen who have been the most celebrated for the soundness of their principles and for the justice of their views, have declared in favor of a single Executive and a numerous legislature. They have with great propriety, considered energy as the most necessary qualification of the former, and have regarded this as most applicable to power in a single hand, while they have, with equal propriety, considered the latter as best adapted to deliberation and wisdom, and best calculated to conciliate the confidence of the people and to secure their privileges and interests.

That unity is conducive to energy will not be disputed. Decision, activity, secrecy, and despatch will generally characterize the proceedings of one man in a much more eminent degree than the proceedings of any greater number; and in proportion as the number is increased, these qualities will be diminished.

... Wherever two or more persons are engaged in any common enterprise or pursuit, there is always danger of difference of opinion. If it be a public trust or office, in which they are clothed with equal dignity and authority, there is peculiar danger of personal emulation and even animosity. From either, and especially from all these causes, the most bitter dissensions are apt to spring. Whenever these happen, they lessen the respectability, weaken the authority, and distract the plans and operation of those whom they divide. If they should unfortunately assail the supreme executive magistracy of a country, consisting of a plurality of persons, they might impede or frustrate the most important measures of the government, in the most critical emergencies of the state. And what is still worse, they might split the community into the most violent and irreconcilable factions, adhering differently to the different individuals who composed the magistracy.

Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have happened to disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an indispensable duty of self-love. They seem to think themselves bound in honor, and by all the motives of personal infallibility, to defeat the success of what has been resolved upon contrary to their sentiments. Men of upright, benevolent tempers have too many opportunities of remarking, with horror, to what desperate lengths this disposition is sometimes carried, and how often the great interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the conceit, and to the obstinacy of individuals, who have credit enough to make their passions and their caprices interesting to mankind. Perhaps the question now before the public may, in its consequences, afford melancholy proofs of the effects of this despicable frailty, or rather detestable vice, in the human character.

Upon the principles of a free government, inconveniences from the source just mentioned must necessarily be submitted to in the formation of the legislature; but it is unnecessary, and therefore unwise, to introduce them into the constitution of the Executive. It is here too that they may be most pernicious. In the legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a benefit. The differences of opinion, and the jarrings of parties in that department of the government, though they may sometimes obstruct salutary plans, yet often promote deliberation and circumspection, and serve to check excesses in the majority. When a resolution too is once taken, the opposition must be at an end. That resolution is a law, and resistance to it punishable. But no favorable circumstances palliate or atone for the disadvantages of dissension in the executive department. Here, they are pure and unmixed. There is no point at which they cease to operate. They serve to embarrass and weaken the execution of the plan or measure to which they relate, from the first step to the final conclusion of it. They constantly counteract those qualities in the Executive which are the most necessary ingredients in its composition, vigor and expedition, and this without anycounterbalancing good. In the conduct of war, in which the energy of the Executive is the bulwark of the national security, every thing would be to be apprehended from its plurality.

It must be confessed that these observations apply with principal weight to the first case supposed that is, to a plurality of magistrates of equal dignity and authority a scheme, the advocates for which are not likely to form a numerous sect; but they apply, though not with equal, yet with considerable weight to the project of a council, whose concurrence is made constitutionally necessary to the operations of the ostensible Executive. An artful cabal in that council would be able to distract and to enervate the whole system of administration. If no such cabal should exist, the mere diversity of views and opinions would alone be sufficient to tincture the exercise of the executive authority with a spirit of habitual feebleness and dilatoriness.

But one of the weightiest objections to a plurality in the Executive, and which lies as much against the last as the first plan, is, that it tends to conceal faults and destroy responsibility. Responsibility is of two kinds to censure and to punishment. The first is the more important of the two, especially in an elective office. Man, in public trust, will much oftener act in such a manner as to render him unworthy of being any longer trusted, than in such a manner as to make him obnoxious to legal punishment. But the multiplication of the Executive adds to the difficulty of detection in either case. It often becomes impossible, amidst mutual accusations, to determine on whom the blame or the punishment of a pernicious measure, or series of pernicious measures, ought really to fall. It is shifted from one to another with so much dexterity, and under such plausible appearances, that the public opinion is left in suspense about the real author. The circumstances which may have led to any national miscarriage or misfortune are sometimes so complicated that, where there are a number of actors who may have had different degrees and kinds of agency, though we may clearly see upon the whole that there has been mismanagement, yet it may be impracticable to pronounce to whose account the evil which may have been incurred is truly chargeable. "I was overruled by my council. The council were so divided in their opinions that it was impossible to obtain any better resolution on the point.'' These and similar pretexts are constantly at hand, whether true or false. And who is there that will either take the trouble or incur the odium, of a strict scrunity into the secret springs of the transaction? Should there be found a citizen zealous enough to undertake the unpromising task, if there happen to be collusion between the parties concerned, how easy it is to clothe the circumstances with so much ambiguity, as to render it uncertain what was the precise conduct of any of those parties?

... It is evident from these considerations, that the plurality of the Executive tends to deprive the people of the two greatest securities they can have for the faithful exercise of any delegated power, first, the restraints of public opinion, which lose their efficacy, as well on account of the division of the censure attendant on bad measures among a number, as on account of the uncertainty on whom it ought to fall; and, secondly, the opportunity of discovering with facility and clearness the misconduct of the persons they trust, in order either to their removal from office or to their actual punishment in cases which admit of it.

In England, the king is a perpetual magistrate; and it is a maxim which has obtained for the sake of the pub lic peace, that he is unaccountable for his administration, and his person sacred. Nothing, therefore, can be wiser in that kingdom, than to annex to the king a constitutional council, who may be responsible to the nation for the advice they give. Without this, there would be no responsibility whatever in the executive department an idea inadmissible in a free government. But even there the king is not bound by the resolutions of his council, though they are answerable for the advice they give. He is the absolute master of his own conduct in the exercise of his office, and may observe or disregard the counsel given to him at his sole discretion.

But in a republic, where every magistrate ought to be personally responsible for his behavior in office the reason which in the British Constitution dictates the propriety of a council, not only ceases to apply, but turns against the institution. In the monarchy of Great Britain, it furnishes a substitute for the prohibited responsibility of the chief magistrate, which serves in some degree as a hostage to the national justice for his good behavior. In the American republic, it would serve to destroy, or would greatly diminish, the intended and necessary responsibility of the Chief Magistrate himself.

The idea of a council to the Executive, which has so generally obtained in the State constitutions, has been derived from that maxim of republican jealousy which considers power as safer in the hands of a number of men than of a single man. If the maxim should be admitted to be applicable to the case, I should contend that the advantage on that side would not counterbalance the numerous disadvantages on the opposite side. But I do not think the rule at all applicable to the executive power. I clearly concur in opinion, in this particular, with a writer whom the celebrated Junius pronounces to be "deep, solid, and ingenious,'' that "the executive power is more easily confined when it is ONE'';2 that it is far more safe there should be a single object for the jealousy and watchfulness of the people; and, in a word, that all multiplication of the Executive is rather dangerous than friendly to liberty.

A little consideration will satisfy us, that the species of security sought for in the multiplication of the Executive, is nattainable. Numbers must be so great as to render combination difficult, or they are rather a source of danger than of security. The united credit and influence of several individuals must be more formidable to liberty, than the credit and influence of either of them separately. When power, therefore, is placed in the hands of so small a number of men, as to admit of their interests and views being easily combined in a common enterprise, by an artful leader, it becomes more liable to abuse, and more dangerous when abused, than if it be lodged in the hands of one man; who, from the very circumstance of his being alone, will be more narrowly watched and more readily suspected, and who cannot unite so great a mass of influence as when he is associated with others. The Decemvirs of Rome, whose name denotes their number,3 were more to be dreaded in their usurpation than any ONE of them would have been. No person would think of proposing an Executive much more numerous than that body; from six to a dozen have been suggested for the number of the council. The extreme of these numbers, is not too great for an easy combination; and from such a combination America would have more to fear, than from the ambition of any single individual. A council to a magistrate, who is himself responsible for what he does, are generally nothing better than a clog upon his good intentions, are often the instruments and accomplices of his bad and are almost always a cloak to his faults.

Come to think of it, it might be a good idea for the Democrats in Congress to read that as well.

39 comments:

Donald R. McClarey said...

The dreary exchange noted above is a prime example of why it is futile to post on Mark's site. Mark is no longer interested in an exchange of ideas. Mark's embracing his inner Chomsky and Buchanan has led him to champion ideas that are hard to defend. When he can't defend them he falls back on bombast and insult. This isn't amusing and it isn't enlightening. One would have loved to have read what Mark would have said about the actions of the Roosevelt administration during WWII if he had been alive at that time. Mark believes that wars against people who wish to kill all of us, down to the smallest infant, can be fought under Utopian guidelines that we have never observed in any of our conflicts. When this is pointed out to him, of course Mark has to retreat into sarcasm and insult, he has no other way to respond as his grasp of the history of our past conflicts is very weak. The questions raised by the current war are serious and deserve reasoned debate. Mark is unable or unwilling to participate in that debate.

torquemada05 said...

Actually Don, a lot of the stuff he throws out reminds me of what some people used to say about the Roosevelt administration. Unfortunately, my fear is that his BDS is now reaching the point where he is embracing an even darker view of Western Civilization, i.e. his conspiracy of millionnaires for whom democracy is just puppet theater or his prayer that Western civilization and the Islamic world destroy one another.

It goes far beyond his belief that you cannot wage war as anything but a utopia. We are now well into the black helicopter crowd here.

Donald R.McClarey said...

"Actually Don, a lot of the stuff he throws out reminds me of what some people used to say about the Roosevelt administration."

How true. It brings to mind this bit of dialogue between John Wayne and the actor who portrayed his character's son in the movie In Harm's Way:


Wayne: "Did I hear you say "trumped-up war"?



"It is Mr Roosevelt's war, isn't it?"



Wayne: "You not only look like a Cunliffe,
you talk like one."



Wayne: "I remember they said the first one
was Mr Wilson's war."

I will never understand people who, because of political hatreds, fail to wish to see their country emerge victorious in a just war.

Roger H. said...

How soon before Mark turns his BDS induced rants into Jack Chick-like tracts?

Dave Armstrong said...

I thought you guys were moving in the direction of writing less about Mark Shea and more about other stuff?

Or was that just a Lenten thing? Maybe I misunderstood.

Phillip said...

Dave,

Part of the continued writing is in response to Mark's continued nonsensical points. This and his continued insults and banning of people that call him to task and point out a number of serious flaws in his thinking. We can correct Mark here without his juvenile complaints enabled by his chorus of ultramontanists (thanks Publius - you got one right.)

One correction for example is his continued claims that Arar was "kidnapped." The man was detained for nine days based upon Canadian intelligence and had a deportation hearing to which Canadian officials were invited. Hard to say that is kidnapping unless there is a different definition I am unaware of. Oh that's right, Mark really isn't interested in definitions. Words mean what they will mean to him.

Here at least people can vent with a measure of reserve. Granted we too hurl invectives but they a little league compared to the Master of Insults.

Christopher said...

One correction for example is his continued claims that Arar was "kidnapped." The man was detained for nine days based upon Canadian intelligence and had a deportation hearing to which Canadian officials were invited. Hard to say that is kidnapping unless there is a different definition I am unaware of. Oh that's right, Mark really isn't interested in definitions. Words mean what they will mean to him.

Likewise Mark's charge that Bilal Hussein is presently detained by U.S. forces in Iraq because

His crime appears to be "Photographing While Named Hussein" but it's hard to tell. . . . He's merely been jailed for no discernible reason because the King of the United States would have it so and nobody can stop him.

So long as a leading Catholic apologist spouts that kind of nonsense, I think the Coalition offers a necessary corrective.

Dave Armstrong said...

So it'll continue to go on indefinitely? Isn't there a point when it becomes overkill or unedifying or scandalous (Catholic against Catholic for months on end) or counterproductive, or some combination of the above?

That's what I truly wonder about. Okay; so you guys disagree on the torture thing, and related issues, and you think Mark is a big-mouth blowhard loose cannon. We get that. Is there nothing else that can be productively written about or have a blog devoted to?

And this is from a person, remember, who basically has agreed with the position taken here (probably not in every last detail, but close enough). It's an observation made wholly part from the question of who is right or wrong on the issue.

Mark is, of course, equally (if not much more so) to blame for this continuing. He writes posts condemning James White for writing a book against the goofy empty tomb theories, as if that is a bad or unnecessary thing (I can't see how; can't we even agree with an anti-Catholic when he does something worthwhile, for heaven's sake?), and writes (using his usual colorful imagery) about "testosterone"-driven folks who have ongoing battles on piddly issues, while he himself keeps up this ongoing 3 (4?, 5?)-year feud with y'all. One could hardly miss the irony and comedy of that juxtaposition.

What good is accomplished? That is what I am wondering. It's fine to discuss legitimate issues but this thing has gone far beyond that. It involves far too much personal sniping back and forth, which is what is scandalous among Christians and fellow Catholics. Is there not a time when any good that could come from a discussion that has been beaten to death (any discussion), has been exhausted, and when it is time to move on?

"Choose your battles wisely," as they say. Do you really think that you two thoughtful, intelligent people (Torque and Victor, but also other regular commenters) have nothing better to offer to the Internet and its readers, than an ongoing whipping of Mark Shea (even if everything you say about him were true as the Gospel of John)?

Now, I understand the motivations, believe me, and I am not saying at ALL that yours (all in all) are wrong or sinful. I've gotten drawn into many conflicts, myself, and then I was attacked, and I defended myself against what I felt was falsehood (because that's my nature, as it is with most people), but recently I came to the realization that we should avoid such things as much as possible for the sake of unity and presentation of the Christian faith to enquirers, and removed about 75 papers from my blog that were instances of "personal warfare" back and forth.

I think this is particularly applicable to Catholics warring against each other.

I believe that I was right in those conflicts (most with anti-Catholics, but not all) -- nothing has changed there -- , but that's a different thing from the consideration of whether it is edifying, necessary, or productive to present such squabbles to the reading public.

I feel the same about the Sungenis issue, and have stated so (mostly at Against the Grain. I fully agree with his critics. He is dead-wrong. But what's the point of now three years or so, worth of public criticisms? Entire websites devoted to Sungenis' difficulties; several people seemingly devoting all or the lions' share of their energy and labor spent writing online, to Bob Sungenis . . . isn't there anything better they could do? I certainly think so.

Imagine if one of these folks died tonight and God asked them, "what have you been doing with the time that I have given you, with regard to ways to get out the message of Christianity?" And they say, "well, Lord, I've been writing against Bob Sungenis for three years." Does anyone seriously think that this would be very high on God's list of priorities of what a Christian could spend time doing, for years on end? I highly doubt it.

There's a world going to hell out there. If you want to stick to writing about politics, in an effort to make the world a better place (as opposed to a more direct Christian, theological message), that's fine and commendable, too, but then that can be done without an ongoing vendetta against the hypocrisies and outrageous idiocies (or whatever colorful description) of Mark Shea. If you refuse to respond to any unjust personal attacks he makes on you, he'll eventually stop doing it. It's human nature.

And of course, I think he should (as a matter of ethics, not natural psychological response, as I just described) drop his references to you guys on his blog, too. Someone's gotta take a stand and agree to disagree, it seems to me.

If you think differently (as seems obviously to be the case), I'd like to better understand why, and learn more about what you truly think will be accomplished by keeping this thing up. It never hurts to take a closer look at how we are spending our time. We're all stewards of the time that God gives us.

I write as a friend, truly concerned that this feud or squabble keeps continuing, with no end in sight. I hope that my comments will be received and understood in that framework. Any errors in presentation or lapses in charity are my own, but I think that is distinct from the main message I am trying to convey, however inadequately.

Thanks for "listening."

Anonymous said...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS...

In a later post, Mark makes the following statement:

I complained about the Bush Administration's mysteriously acquired power to arrest anybody they like, imprison them for as long as they like, and not have to show just cause. All they need do is claim (without proving it) that the person under arrest is an "illegal combatant" and viola! That person can be disappeared into some prison somewhere and forgotten.

Well, Mark, why haven't Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Pat Buchanan, George Soros, Cindy Sheehan, Natalie Maines, Barbra Streisand, most professors in the humanities and social sciences and the leadership of the Democratic Party been declared "enemy combatants" and arrested if the Bush Administration can arrest "anybody they like"? Where are the midnight raids without warrants, the knocks on the door, the de facto abduction of potential dissidents? For that matter, why are *you* still blogging away safely from your intellectual and moral bunker in Metropolitan Seattle?

Embracing the nonsense that Mark embraces about the Bush Administration's allegedly excessive police power -- despite the reality of the situation -- is a libel against this nation and should be called such.

Anonymous said...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS...

Donald McCleary: Mark believes that wars against people who wish to kill all of us, down to the smallest infant, can be fought under Utopian guidelines that we have never observed in any of our conflicts.

Donald, Mark isn't the only one who believes this. So do the vast majority of bishops in the West. So does the Vatican. So did the late and (sadly) soon to be canonized John Paul II.

Dave Armstrong, you miss the point. Nobody, but nobody, least of all your fellow travellers in the Catholic Apologetics Mafia (with the notable exception of Shawn McElhinney), has had the courage (intestinal, testicular or otherwise) to hold Mr. Shea accountable for his behavior. This blog tries to do so.

It would help immeasurably if such alleged noteworthies as Jimmy Akin, Karl Keating, yourself, etc. would actually try to hold Shea accountable. Perhaps you should collectively told him that you would never publish his work, offer references to Catholic groups on his behalf or support his "ministry" in any other fashion? Even the attempt would be far more than what you are doing now -- which is NOTHING (except for talking about how un-nice it is for Catholics to criticize each other).

Well, my dear fellow, the time for talk has long since past. Whether you like it or not, you and your fellow travellers are associated with Shea because of your mutual "ministries." As someone who had been the target of an obsessive, five-year character assassintation from the man, I implore you in no uncertain terms either to take effective measure to take Shea to task -- or you and James White can go fornicate Satan for eternity, for all I care.

Anonymous said...

Josiah says:

I would agree with Dave. I think everything that needs to be said on Mark's position re torture, the Bush administration, etc., has already been said. You could continue to repeat those points until the proverbial cows come proverbially home, but if you do you risk this blog turning into the internet version of those late Lenny Bruce routines, where he was just reading deposition transcripts.

Phillip said...

Dave, Josiah,

That may be true if the same people read his blog. But it seems from the names on comments that newcomers are frequent. When he cites this blog, some may read our points and learn a more reasoned perspective.

Perhaps Dave you could post your comments on Mark's blog and see what happens.

Dave Armstrong said...

When he cites this blog, some may read our points and learn a more reasoned perspective.

You could easily do that by simply making your arguments without reference to Mark. The personal can be taken out of it, and you would occupy the moral high ground.

I'm not saying "don't make any arguments". I wrote:

"If you want to stick to writing about politics, in an effort to make the world a better place . . . that's fine and commendable, too, . . ."

I'm simply wondering aloud what the point is of going on forever about this when there are many more constructive things that can be done by two intelligent, thoughtful people (and however many commenters frequent this blog) with their time.

If we clearly can't persuade someone of something after months and years of trying, then there comes a time to accept it and move on. It's not like you're married to Mark Shea, with these huge differences that you must work through and resolve for the sake of the marriage (or the kids).

You can always pray for a person that you can't persuade. You can apply the reception of any falsehoods and insults to penitential works for lost souls or the souls in purgatory. You can try to reason with folks that he himself respects, if you think that is necessary, etc.

There's lots of things you can do so that you haven't wasted your time entirely by all this (thus far) futile effort.

Anonymous said...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS....

If we clearly can't persuade someone of something after months and years of trying, then there comes a time to accept it and move on. It's not like you're married to Mark Shea, with these huge differences that you must work through and resolve for the sake of the marriage (or the kids).

Dave, the fundamental problem (at least from my perspective) isn't Mark's views on torture, the papacy, the Magisterium, the war in Iraq, the war on terror, the Bush Administration, the United States, Islam or any other issue related to his views on those subjects. The fundamental issue -- indeed, the ONLY issue from my perspective -- is his enthusiasm for engaging in character assassination, smear campaigns and assorted personal attacks in place of research, evidence to support his assertions or logic. You are a professional apologist and you see nothing wrong with this behavior -- behavior that tarnishes you and your fellow apologists merely by association with such a despicable character?

You can always pray for a person that you can't persuade. You can apply the reception of any falsehoods and insults to penitential works for lost souls or the souls in purgatory. You can try to reason with folks that he himself respects, if you think that is necessary, etc.

Dave, this is the same kind of pseudo-pietistic hogwash that has kept Catholics from confronting the truth effectively about fellow Catholics who sin for centuries (cf, the clerical sex-abuse crisis). This also sounds like a personal cop-out. Praying for those who abuse you or offering insults for the benefit of the souls in purgatory does not relieve you or your fellow apologists from the responsibility of publicly taking Shea to task for his despicable behavior and setting limits at the expense of his ability to publish his work or lecture with your support and blessing.

Dave, let me be more blunt than I have been. Do you value your theological identity as a Catholic over your responsibility and duty to confront somebody who gets his jollies from obsessively bullying anybody who has the temerity to disagree with him? Does your and your fellow apologists' silence on Shea's behavior imply consent? If so, is that silence pleasing to a holy, righteous God, Who will hold you and your fellow apologists accountable for refusing to protect and defend the innocent when you had the chance?

Dave Armstrong said...

The fundamental issue -- indeed, the ONLY issue from my perspective -- is his enthusiasm for engaging in character assassination, smear campaigns and assorted personal attacks in place of research, evidence to support his assertions or logic. You are a professional apologist and you see nothing wrong with this behavior

Really? That's news to me. I guess that is why I defended Torq and Victor on Mark's blog (which fact has been mentioned many times on this blog), confronted him on his own blog, and have had a very long paper on the topic posted on my site for six months. You yourself are at least partially aware of this unless you suffer from amnesia, since your own comments were part of the discussion on my blog:

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/davearmstrong/116172166321877107/#118050

I don't know what you think you can gain by putting out disinformation as to what I believe and how I have acted in this regard. Here is my lengthy paper on the topic (including many condemnations of personal attacks wherever they occur):

The Controversial "Torture" Issue as Related to Catholic Development of Doctrine on the Treatment of Heretics
http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/10/controversial-torture-issue-as-related.html
http://www.haloscan.com/comments/davearmstrong/116172166321877107/#118032

Prayer and works of penance and redemptive suffering are "pseudo-pietistic hogwash"? Wow. I guess Jesus shouldn't have prayed to the Father to forgive the ones who nailed Him to the cross, huh? And St. Stephen shouldn't have prayed "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" as they were stoning him (Acts 7:60). You know better. You would have mocked and whined and told your persecutors to go fornicate with Satan, or threaten a boycott of the Temple bookstore. Yes; a sterling example of Christian piety and charity and saintliness indeed, you are.

Praying for those who abuse you or offering insults for the benefit of the souls in purgatory does not relieve you or your fellow apologists from the responsibility of publicly taking Shea to task for his despicable behavior

I have done so, as shown. I oppose all instances of smear campaigns and personal attack, having been subjected to innumerable ones myself, including from you. I even defend those who have made themselves my enemies from unjust attacks (Svendsen, White, Enloe, to name a few). I'm an equal opportunity condemner of lousy interpersonal ethics and communication on the Internet.

and setting limits at the expense of his ability to publish his work or lecture with your support and blessing.

I think he should stick to apologetics and avoid the personal . He does far better in writing apologetics than in ranting and raving about all this other cultural / political stuff. If he can't do that with charity, he should cease.

But this sort of thing is rampant all over the Internet. The best way we can oppose it is to both speak out against it and try to provide a better personal example in how we conduct ourselves; showing that it is possible to engage in substantive, serious discussion where there are honest differences, without personal attack. Speak truth and try to exemplify a better way in our own life: that's what all Christians are called to do, and is what turned the world upside down when Christianity began. It's damned difficult (I've failed in these matters many times), but whoever said Christianity was an easy lifestyle?

Dave, let me be more blunt than I have been. Do you value your theological identity as a Catholic over your responsibility and duty to confront somebody who gets his jollies from obsessively bullying anybody who has the temerity to disagree with him?

I've already done so. Now let me be blunt too. You need to forgive the man for whatever he has done, move on, and let out your anger in some constructive fashion other than spewing venom over the "airwaves" of the Internet (take up tetherball or carpentry or something that will let you pound over and over again and let out your oceans of anger and bitterness). Let God heal you. He can do so. Get over it. Bitterness will destroy you.

I know what you're going through. I'll guarantee that you haven't been accused of 1/100th of the lies I have been subjected to by (mostly) anti-Catholics, and it's been going on for 12 years and running. If I allowed myself to become embittered over it I wouldn't last two more weeks on the Internet or in apologetics.

It ain't worth it. You don't need to carry this weight. Forgive the man, pray for him, ask God to heal the damage done to you and move on, for heaven's sake. If people keep sitting by watching you act as you have been, then they are becoming enablers: to sit and watch you spew worthless scum like, e.g., what you said to me above: "[if you don't do exactly as I demand] you and James White can go fornicate Satan for eternity, for all I care."

And you want to lecture me and the world about Mark Shea's problem with his tongue? What's that Jesus said about logs in the eye? As if you allow anyone to disagreee with you without rotgut coming out of your mouth?

You want me to "protect and defend the innocent"? Sure, I'm protecting you against your huge martyr-victim syndrome by telling you the truth about what you need to do to be healed of it.

You certainly won't get better by bitching and whining till kingdom come about how you think Mark Shea is a shred of human debris. And now you'll come after me with even more venom and asinine ludicrosity, in all likelihood. I can take it. It's nothing new for me. So if you must do it, do it. But it won't stop me from telling you the truth, and what is best for you, to get over this.

Or you can pause, take a deep breath, consider what I say, and maybe it can do you some good. But I won't keep pleading with you for two years. A word to the wise is sufficient. "Rebuke a fool and he will hate you." Take your pick, Joseph . . .

Anonymous said...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS...

Dave, I stand corrected regarding your comments on the issue on your blog and I apologize. I was reminded of them when I inserted the Web address in my brouser.

Now, you say you've written a paper on the issue that anybody can gain access to on your blog. Well, that might be very nice but what have you and your cohorts in the apologetics field done since? Have you or they made any effort to contact Shea directly and say in no uncertain terms that you will refuse to publish anything he writes, withhold references and basically withdraw support for his apologetics "ministry" unless and until he stops attacking and bullying people?

You and your peers *must* do this if your efforts are to be effective. Your criticism of me is nothing but a cover for your own *collective* inaction ("collective" being the operative word; it should be obvious that Shea will not listen to any one individual).

BTW, I certainly don't need any lectures on Christian charity from somebody who was trying to start an arguement between me and Shawn McElhinney that would serve no purpose but to gratify your own ego at his expense. Whatever disputes you have with him, take them up with him and leave me out of them.

Anonymous said...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS...

One more thing, Dave: I'm not the only innocent pary who has been smeared and blind-sided by Shea.
Just read this blog, or go to his blog and find out for yourself?

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Joseph,

Thanks for the apology.

Have you or they made any effort to contact Shea directly and say in no uncertain terms that you will refuse to publish anything he writes, withhold references and basically withdraw support for his apologetics "ministry" unless and until he stops attacking and bullying people?

I already gave my answer to this sort of thing in my last reply. My way is obviously not your way. Honest men can also disagree on ways to go about doing things to accomplish the same goal.

Or perhaps we have different goals in this regard. Mine is reform of Internet discourse and ethics and seeing people live up to their full potential in exercising the gifts that God gave them (that He gives everyone).

Part of my life's goal is to do my best to show (by God's grace) that apologetics doesn't HAVE to be ugly and personal and boring and tedious and insulting. It can be fun and pleasurable and edifying and courteous and charitable, while also being educational (and even confrontational, where that is necessary). But unfortunately, much online apologetics lacks the first five qualities (if not also the last).

You and your peers *must* do this if your efforts are to be effective.

I've always spoken out against personal attack, and I will continue to do so. It cheapens discourse and gives apologists and apologetics a bad name. If I am going to boycott something it'll be something like abortionist enablers, not one person in 345,825 on the Internet who engages in personal attack.

BTW, I certainly don't need any lectures on Christian charity from somebody who was trying to start an arguement between me and Shawn McElhinney that would serve no purpose but to gratify your own ego at his expense. Whatever disputes you have with him, take them up with him and leave me out of them.

LOL Well hey, you didn't up the ante and launch into the stratosphere, so I guess this response was about the best I could have hoped to get from you. Some things take time to sink in.

Thanks for the humor, too. Of course you care little or nothing for the fact that Mark Shea and I know each other. Even so, I rebuked him because it was a matter of principle. That's fine! But if I dare make a simple point about such personal attacks being present in places other than on Mark's blog -- indeed, on a blog of someone YOU know -- (and thus equally deserving of a rebuke), of course it IS meddling in friendships and screwing up YOUR manifest double standards as to whom YOU will rebuke. Nice touch there.

Moral of the story: you are too scared to rebuke a friend when they are clearly wrong (and wrong in virtually the exact same way that Mark Shea is wrong). I am not, because I think such necessary rebukes are at times precisely a manifestation of love and concern for the person being rebuked. That's why I do it. It's tough love. The motivation is reform, not utter condemnation, and the person's best interests are at heart and in mind.

It's like my wife Judy telling her best friend that she was doing something wrong, when no one else had the guts to do so (or were shunning her outright). She took flak; it caused friction. Relations chilled a bit for a while. It was painful for my wife (who is a very gentle, sensitive soul); she had to pay a price for doing what was right.

But now her friend knows that my wife was exactly right, and that if she had heeded her advice, she could have saved herself boatloads of misery. And she knows that my wife loved her so much, to be willing to rebuke her when it was REALLY needed, and that she has the best friend imaginable in my wife (and that's some of the reason why I adore her and married her). Consequently they are now closer than ever. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." THAT is love. Very few people, however, will act that way, because it's exceedingly difficult, and they (for various reasons) value personal approval over principle and tough love at that point.

But you won't (apparently) act as my wife did when one of your friends is in the wrong. You want others to fight your battles for you, but you won't return the favor if it involves the most unpleasant business of rebuking your friend when they are wrong.

Phillip said...

"You could easily do that by simply making your arguments without reference to Mark. The personal can be taken out of it, and you would occupy the moral high ground."

Fair enough, though the posts here are frequently in response to the unmentionable author's name (to be in the future refered to as TUAN - :)) the connection will necessarily be made.

As far as scandal is concerned, one wonders, if someone reading TUAN's blog would not be scandalized by the adolescent insults, sloppy skimming and deliberate distortion of other's positions, the persistence in error in the face of documented facts and the resistence to serious dialogue, what would they be scandalized by?

That being said, TUAN frequently refers to and probably even reads this blog. He even has changed some of his more outlandish behavior (the divination of other's thoughts.) So there is some measure of good that I believe has come from it.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Dave Armstrong: Or perhaps we have different goals in this regard. Mine is reform of Internet discourse and ethics ... Part of my life's goal is to do my best to show (by God's grace) that apologetics doesn't HAVE to be ugly and personal and boring and tedious and insulting.

Dave, one has to distinguish between goals and the means one uses to achieve those goals. Your goal is an admirable one. In Shea's case, however, has he really listened to you? Does he really care about the arguments you make in your on-line paper? If he does, then why does he continue to behave the way that he does?

St. Paul himself argued that if a Christian keeps sinning after an initial individual attempt to bring him around, you must bring others to confront him. If he continues to sin, then he must be punished.

Whatever our disagreements, Dave, we both know that Shea is sinning by engaging in personal attacks and smear campaigns as a matter of course. The fact that you know Shea personally makes it imperative that you and your fellow apologists confront him with the possible consequences of his continued behavior. He will not change otherwise.

You say you believe in "tough love." Are you and your fellow apologists willing to confront Shea with the toughest of "tough love": withdrawing support for his ministry by refusing to publish or promote his writings and by refusing to offer references when Catholic groups ask him to speak?

Or is your "courage" merely rhetorical?

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Dave Armstrong: You want others to fight your battles for you, but you won't return the favor if it involves the most unpleasant business of rebuking your friend when they are wrong.

First, Dave, I have been fighting the battle against Shea by myself for nearly four years until Victor, Shawn, Chris and Greg decided, in their own way, to stand by me. Where have you been, Johnny-come-lately?

Second, this isn't just my battle. This isn't even solely Victor's, Chris's, Greg's or Shawn's battle. This is a battle that everybody whom Shea has smeared, attacked and insulted must fight. Yes, Dave, I said "must." Shea is evil. I know that sounds over-the-top but how else would you describe somebody whose MO is defined by smears, personal attacks, free-flowing anger that cannot be controlled and obsessive campaigns of vengeance?

Third, I support Shawn over you because he has never displayed the kind of condescending pseudo-moralistic attitude toward me that you have. Shawn has shown nothing but respect toward me, even when we disagree. He also did not come out of the blue (as you did on this blog) to manipulate me for his own vain purposes.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Before you respond, Dave, let me make it clear that my relationship to Shawn is irrelevant to this discussion. Mark Shea is out of control. Shawn McElhinney has never demonstrated the same vile tendencies, at least to my knowledge. Neither (again, to the best of my knowledge) has he acquired the kind of reputation for snarkiness, venality and all-around cruelty that Shea has.

Any continued references to Shawn on your part will merely reinforce my firm belief that you seek to get to him through me, and will use disingenuous, quasi-moral rationales to do so.

If you have a problem with him, either deal with him directly or seek neutral mediation.

Victor said...

I don't mean to chill you, Joe, or call a halt or anything. There are valid issues to discuss and you're doing it and that's fine.

But keep in mind that Dave Armstrong is a friend here. And kudos for your last note that you'd like to keep the Shawn-Dave fracas separate.

Victor said...

Dave:

No ... you are certainly correct. My reaction to Shea now is basically "Who gives a shit? Nobody about whom I give a shit." (In fact, that WAS my reaction to his last pathetic link here.)

I think he's irredeemable and fully intend to limit my explicit reactions to him to contemptuous insults (though unlike his Straw Men™, they will have referents to reality).

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Thanks, Victor. I need somebody to reign me in, sometimes.

Dave Armstrong said...

Do you pray for Mark, Joseph, or do you (because he is "evil" -- and damned to hell, too?) you give yourself the prerogative to despise and detest the man?

Dave Armstrong said...

Are you and your fellow apologists willing to confront Shea with the toughest of "tough love": withdrawing support for his ministry by refusing to publish or promote his writings and by refusing to offer references when Catholic groups ask him to speak?

I've answered twice already, but I would agree with torquemada's words of 2-13-07 (and he says Victor agrees):

"I think Greg and Joe have a lot more beef with Mark than Victor or myself. As we have repeatedly stated, we want Mark to mind his manners rather than lose his livelihood. The man does, by all accounts, a fairly good job as a Catholic apologist and I see no reason to deprive him (or the faithful of that right now). I'm also not sure how Akin or Keating could realistically discipline him other than telling him to cool it, given that the source of our arguments against him was always that he mind his manners rather than lose his livelihood. Victor and I have been quite clear on this one from the beginning.

". . . IMO, both threatening lawsuits (wasn't that how we knew that Comerford was flaky) and online petitions are silly, especially given that the intended target is at the end of the day little more than an annoying stranger."

http://coalitionforfog.blogspot.com/2007/02/what-is-to-be-done.html

On 12-4-06 torq cites his own earlier comments:

"As far as organizing a boycott or what not, if you guys want to do that then go right ahead. My primary concern has always been his rhetoric towards those who disagree with him on this and other issues than it is anything else. While I agree that an intervention is badly needed by the other apologists part regarding his invective, I have no desire to prevent him from speaking to others via Catholic Answers and the like. As long as he continues to do so though, I think we are Biblically bound towards correcting his behavior the way that St. Paul did for Peter as described in Galatians and are honor-bound to hold him accountable when he behaves like he has on this issue."

And he adds:

"The last time I read Galatians, St. Paul didn't propose a boycott of St. Peter and I don't think that Zippy's interpretation of my remarks is even remotely defensible. The goal of the Coalition, as Victor explained brilliantly in the comments, is to "I want Shea to mind his manners, not lose his livelihood." "

And again on 12-12-06:

"I am aware that it is pledge week over at Mark's. I am equally aware that a lot of people here don't like him and don't plan to contribute. I don't have a problem with that (not that I could do anything if I did), but I would prefer that the comboxes not turn into a constant expression of those sentiments, recalling our earlier point that Victor and I want Mark to mind his manners, not lose his income."

Joseph D'H's opinion is quite different:

"Andy and Kathleen, here's what I propose: Catholics should boycott Akin, Welborn, Keating and other apologists who keep enabling Shea by refusing to hold him accountable. Boycotting means not buying any of their books, CD or any of their other works (and that includes Catholic Answers as a whole, not just individuals employed by CA), donating to their blogs, refusing to invite them to speak and discouraging parishes and other Catholic groups from inviting them to speak until these people publicly hold Shea accountable. That would mean criticizing his bullying publicly in no uncertain terms and deleting any links to his sites until he repents."

(12-5-06)

But Victor replied:

"I think secondary strikes and boycotts are a bad idea in principle ("whatever that means"). They tend to make needless enemies of their (intermediate) targets and to mark oneself as obsessed."

(12-5-06)

Hey, he used the word "obsessed", not me! . . .

Christopher Fotos agreed with Victor and torq (and myself, the mere occasional visitor here), too:

"As for an aggressive boycott, I understand where Joe is coming from since he was targeted by Mark, in a truly shameful way, but I agree with Victor that boycotts are a bad idea in principle... the possibility for collateral damage to Mark's wife and children (I'm uncomfortable even thinking along those lines) outweighs the trespass we presumably are trying to correct . . . the kind of boycott some of you are looking for isn't something I can support."

(12-6-06)

So I agree with Victor, torq, and Christopher. You say I should speak out against Mark insulting people. I have done so: on my blog, and on his blog, and here. And not only him, but anyone who does so (if I have any influence over them). I feel very strongly about ethics in interpersonal discourse. It's a gigantic problem and huge scandal, and makes Christians a laughingstock to the world and greatly undermines the effectiveness of our witness and outreach and credibility.

Folks say fellow apologists shouldn't link to Mark until he stops this objectionable behavior. I removed my link. It was at the very top of my "Catholic links" before. Now it's gone.

And I did so (quietly, alas) because I could no longer in good conscience help send people over to a blog where regular personal insulting and character assassination is taking place. I think it is sad and such a waste. I don't know what it will take to convince Mark of this. To me it is self-evident. But people with such problems seem to be quite blind to them. How well I know, in trying to fight against it . . . Mark is strange in that he seems aware of his problem in periodic expressions of remorse, yet he'll go right back into it at the next opportunity to fall.

I hasten to add that it doesn't follow that I think Mark is a lousy apologist. I think he is an excellent apologist and a superb writer. I've always thought so. I recommend his books, and still would, in a heartbeat.

But this is the whole point: he is good at apologetics; not so good at political and cultural analysis, because he can't hold his tongue regarding opposing views, and he has verbal diarrhea (again, like many thousands do; he's about as unique as a raindrop in a thunderstorm).

It's a problem that many many people have, but with a popular blog, and a nationally-recognized name, one ought to be that much more careful to be ever-vigilant to conduct themselves ethically. That's what I think . .

Today his average daily hits were at 2,880. His total hits are 3.8 million. The only Catholic blog I know that gets more is Amy Welborn's, who for some reason (I don't mean to imply at all that she is not a great writer) draws far more than anyone else: today it is 6,113 (whereas my hits today are at 936).

To me the real absurd thing is that Mark has won the Best Social Commentary award for 2006 and 2005, Best Political/Social Blog for 2007, and Best Political Blog for 2006. If this is the "best" I really don't want to see the worst.

Precisely what he does the worst job at is what people reward him for. That's not coming "horizontally" from fellow apologists, but from below: from "the people" and the masses. They are "voting with their mouses." This is what they want.

To me it is just one of the innumerable signs of the descent of Internet discourse into largely sinful prattle and useless controversies and personal attack (the things that St. Paul warned so much against).

I became completely fed up with discussion boards in October 2003. Blogs are only slightly better, and I choose to comment on them very selectively anymore (so you can consider it a high compliment to you that I come here, since I visit so few and comment on even less; and even here I get irrationally blasted from Joe).

The last time I ventured very far out into "foreign" Internet land, I was savaged and lied about by a Lutheran pastor. To hell with all of that . . .

Well, if the (non-apologetic, non-theological) fare that Mark offers (as opposed to his actual apologetics, which remains quite good) is what people want, then I am quite proud (and humbled) that I manage to get the number of hits that I do on my blog, since we don't engage in that kind of personal attack at all, do about 90% apologetics and theology, and have perfectly amiable discussions between parties of all kinds (I had several with Protestants this very day, discussing total depravity).

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Dave, all you're saying is that you'll take measures that will make you feel good about "doing something." You won't get off your high horse and do what needs to be done -- and neither do your professional peers.

Spare me the bloviating, Dave. Money talks; BS walks.

Dave Armstrong said...

You would be the expert on BS, being full of it.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Dave, if you want to be that snippy, I will no longer converse with you. Go abuse somebody else.

Your response is rather odd, given that it comes from somebody who claims to want to turn down the rhetorical heat on things.

Before I go, remember one thing. Jesus didn't just "pray for his enemies." He took action where he saw fit -- especially in the case of the corruption of the Temple, where he turned over the tables of the moneychangers and freed the doves who were being sold as sacrifices.

My whole question to you, sir, is this: Do you and your fellow apologists have the courage to takes the kind of action needed to bring Mark Shea to heel?

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Finally, Dave, I do pray for Mark. I pray that God implement Psalm 109 in his life.

Read Psalm 109, Dave.

Dave Armstrong said...

Right. I'm the abusing bastard because I get in a 75% humorous one-line zinger after about 83 of your idiotic insults: all intended to hit right between the eyes and about as humorous as root canal surgery.

Phillip said...

"Folks say fellow apologists shouldn't link to Mark until he stops this objectionable behavior. I removed my link. It was at the very top of my "Catholic links" before. Now it's gone.

And I did so (quietly, alas) because I could no longer in good conscience help send people over to a blog where regular personal insulting and character assassination is taking place. I think it is sad and such a waste."

Thanks for that Dave.

Dave Armstrong said...

You're welcome, Phillip.

Anonymous said...

Josiah says:

Dave, my advice to you would be to do what I do and just ignore Joe. He makes Mark Shea look like Miss Manners, and every attempt I've seen of people trying to reason with him has been fruitless.

Dave Armstrong said...

Looks like you're right, Josiah. It's certainly true in my case and if you say it has happened in other instances that you have observed, nothing in my experience with him would lead me to question your opinion on that.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Josiah, I know that I often allow my anger and cynicism of nearly all things Catholic (especially concerning the Internet) to get the better of me. I treaded Dave Armstrong unfairly in my earlier posts on this thread and I apologize.

But saying that I make Shea look like Miss Manners is to ignore his persistent bullying and smearing of others, let alone the fundamental tone of his posts over the past five years. It's like saying that Gandhi was a militarist or that Hitler was a Zionist.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks, Joseph. I appreciate the apology. God bless you.

Dave Armstrong said...

And amazingly enough, SEVEN minutes later, Joseph went right back to insulting me, on the "I definitely understand your point, Dave" thread combox. So that's it. It's "dust off your feet as you go" time with regard to Joseph.

As I leave I plead with him once again to let God heal him. And, for that matter, some serious therapy from a professional Christian practitioner wouldn't hurt at all, either. I highly recommend it, before it's too late.

The way he's going, he could be dead from a heart attack or high blood pressure within a year. I'm dead serious. Stress is a huge indicator of physical problems and illnesses, and bitterness and resentment are some of the biggest causes of stress. God knew what He was talking about . . .