Monthly Archives: January 2011

Cotton Bowl Discussion

Since this site has so many fans of the Texas A&M Aggies and the LSU Tigers on it, I figued it’d be fun to have a chat about their upcoming game. To get stuff started, MJ (Aggie fan & alum) and I (LSU fan & alum-not sure if anyone noticed I’m an LSU fan) exchanged 5 questions about the upcoming game. Go beyond the jump to see the discussion and be sure to comment & trash talk (in a Christian charitable way, of course) in the combox!

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300 Spartans, Freedom and Faith


Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat, but the Alamo had none.

Thomas Jefferson Green

The heroic last stand at Thermopylae of the 300 Spartans under King Leonidas, along with a few thousand other Greek hoplites in 490 BC, has long fascinated Americans.   Fighting to the last for freedom has served to inspire Americans in times of war.  The recent movie 300, although I greatly enjoyed portions of it, especially the final speech which may be viewed here, was more a comic book brought to the screen, Mark Miller’s graphic novel, rather than any attempt to be historically accurate.  Perhaps the finest living expert on classical Greek warfare, Victor Davis Hanson, points out just a few of the inaccuracies in the film:

300, of course, makes plenty of allowance for popular tastes, changing and expanding the story to meet the protocols of the comic book genre. The film was not shot on location outdoors, but in a studio using the so-called “digital backlot” technique of sometimes placing the actors against blue screens. The resulting realism is not that of the sun-soaked cliffs above the blue Aegean — Thermopylae remains spectacularly beautiful today — but of the eerie etchings of the comic book.

The Spartans fight bare-chested without armor, in the “heroic nude” manner that ancient Greek vase-painters portrayed Greek hoplites, their muscles bulging as if they were contemporary comic book action heroes. Again, following the Miller comic, artistic license is made with the original story — the traitor Ephialtes is as deformed in body as he is in character; King Xerxes is not bearded and perched on a distant throne, but bald, huge, perhaps sexually ambiguous, and often right on the battlefield. The Persians bring with them exotic beasts like a rhinoceros and elephant, and the leader of the Immortals fights Leonidas in a duel (which the Greeks knew as monomachia). Shields are metal rather than wood with bronze veneers, and swords sometimes look futuristic rather than ancient.

However, Hanson was a fan of the film:

Again, purists must remember that 300 seeks to bring a comic book, not Herodotus, to the screen. Yet, despite the need to adhere to the conventions of Frank Miller’s graphics and plot — every bit as formalized as the protocols of classical Athenian drama or Japanese Kabuki theater — the main story from our ancient Greek historians is still there: Leonidas, against domestic opposition, insists on sending an immediate advance party northward on a suicide mission to rouse the Greeks and allow them time to unite a defense. Once at Thermopylae, he adopts the defenses to the narrow pass between high cliffs and the sea far below. The Greeks fight both en masse in the phalanx and at times range beyond as solo warriors. They are finally betrayed by Ephialtes, forcing Leonidas to dismiss his allies — and leaving his own 300 to the fate of dying under a sea of arrows.

But most importantly, 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees.




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Bleg: on matters economic, what distinguishes conservativism from libertarianism?

The comments to Darwin’s recent post on Ross Douthat’s pro-life column reminded me of a question I’ve had for some time, and I’d like to hear from TAC contributors and commenters in its regard: is there a difference between conservative and libertarian perspectives on economic policy? Or is the distinction between conservatism and libertarianism found in other areas of public policy? I tend to think that there is in fact a difference; I think, for example, of the proposal advanced by Ramesh Ponnuru and other bona fide conservatives for a sizeable child tax credit ($5k, if memory serves), but such a policy proposal would seem to be antithetical to libertarian principles (and in fact numerous libertarians disagreed with Ponnuru on the grounds that tax policy ought not be used to further any specific agenda).

If there is in fact a difference between conservative and libertarian perspectives on economic policy, my follow-up question is this: what is the nature of the difference? (Even though I do see a difference, I don’t know the answer to this question.)

As noted in the title, this is a bleg, not an argument… I’m curious what others think.

Message From the ABA: Uh, Maybe Going to Law School Isn’t Such a Great Idea

As faithful readers of this blog know, I am an attorney, and I have written several posts which may be read here, here and here, warning about some of the pitfalls of the profession, especially the financial cost of attending law school.  The facts of law school debt as opposed to the job market have become so grim that even the American Bar Association has now issued a warning on the subject that may be read here.  This is significant since the ABA has studiously ignored this problem for over a decade, even denying  that there was a problem, and has passed out accreditation to new law schools with a glad hand.  Well, better late than never.

Far too many law students expect that earning a law degree will solve their financial problems for life. In reality, however, attending law school can become a financial burden for law students who fail to consider carefully the financial implications of their decision.

You can underline and put several stars by that!  The general public has the illusion that the law is a quick path to riches.  Few things are farther from the truth.  Except for the top 10% of the top law schools most new attorneys, if they can find employment, will be starting out at around 40-45k a year.  When I graduated from law school in 1982 I started out at 16k.  Earning 40k a year and having 100k in law school debts is a very bad situation, and decades of dealing with a huge debt, which cannot be discharged in bankruptcy except under the most extreme circumstances, await.

Obtaining a degree from an ABA-accredited law school is not cheap. Over the last twenty-five years, law school tuition has consistently risen two times as fast as inflation. Consequently, the average tuition at private law schools in 2008 was $34,298, while the average in-state tuition for public law schools was $16,836. When one adds books and living expenses to tuition, the average public law student borrows $71,436 for law school, while the average private school student borrows $91,506. Many students borrow far more than $100,000, and these numbers do not even include debt that students may still carry from their undergraduate years.

The numbers speak for themselves.  I would never have taken on this type of debt to become an attorney, and if I had, I can’t imagine how I would have serviced that debt in my first lean decade as an attorney.   There is more good news for people about to begin law school: Continue reading

Israeli Spy Arrested by Saudi Arabia

Many have sought to question the Zionist narrative that Israelis are strictly the victims of Arab hate when it comes to Middle East conflict and their darkest fears are certainly confirmed by this story of Mossad perverting nature in order to spy on their neighbors:

Saudi Arabian security forces have captured a vulture that was carrying a global positioning satellite (GPS) transmitter and a ring etched with the words “Tel Aviv University.” They suspect the bird of spying for Israel, Maariv-NRG reported Tuesday. The GPS and ring were connected to the bird as part of an long-term project by Israeli scientists that follows vultures’ location and altitude for research purposes.

The arrest of the vulture – whose identification code is R65 – comes several weeks after an Egyptian  official voiced the suspicion that a shark that attacked tourists off the Sinai shore was also acting on behalf of Mossad. The incidents may reflect a growing irrational hysteria among Arabs surrounding Israel’s military prowess and the efficacy of its intelligence services, possibly fueled by the Stuxnet virus’ success.

Those vultures!

The Kimchi Crusader!

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  I have heard that a similar offer has been made to President Ahmadinejad of Iran in regard to the next Superman movie.  Unfortunately he turned it down.  Clark Kent looked too Jewish to him.

Douthat on the Paradox of the Unborn

Ross Douthat, like many who find their way as the “house conservatives” of highly liberal organs such as the NY Times where he currently makes his home, is not necessarily beloved by hard-driving conservatives. He is far less likely than those who write as independant columnists or for conservative organs to thunder our denunciations with fighting words like “liberal fascists” or “femi-nazis”. And as a fiscal and cultural conservative, I at root disagree with the approach of his how-can-we-find-a-way-to-offer-more-government-benefits-to-the-middle-class wonkery in Grand New Party. However, I do seriously admire the extent to which, on hostile soil, he is able to compellingly lay out Catholic/conservative principles on essential moral issues in a way which is, though soft-spokely polite, nonetheless seriously compelling. A good example of this is yesterday’s column in which he writes aboout the contradiction in American culture of how the unborn are treated sometimes as a disposable “choice” and at other times as a precious commodity desperately sought after through fertility treatments and surrogate parents:

The American entertainment industry has never been comfortable with the act of abortion. Film or television characters might consider the procedure, but even on the most libertine programs (a “Mad Men,” a “Sex and the City”), they’re more likely to have a change of heart than actually go through with it. Reality TV thrives on shocking scenes and subjects — extreme pregnancies and surgeries, suburban polygamists and the gay housewives of New York — but abortion remains a little too controversial, and a little bit too real.
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Pope Benedict’s Christmas Address to the Roman Curia

On December 20, 2010, Pope Benedict gave his traditional annual speech and exchange of Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia in the Regia Hall of the Vatican. Here is the full text of the address.

Photo Credit: Reuters December 20, 2010

To assist in my own belated reading of the document, I found it helpful to break down his talk into various bulleted thoughts/subjects (which might prove helpful for others). Continue reading

Help For Out of Work Democrat Members of Congress

(Content advisory on the video:  some rough language, but what else can one expect of politicians.)

So you voted the straight party line for Nancy Pelosi and the voters in your districted booted you to the curb in November.  Now you are out of work.  It is a rough economy out there, so what are you, an ex-Congress Critter, going to do?  Fortunately, the indispensable Iowahawk has some ideas:

Losing a job can be a challenging and stress-filled time. Especially during the holidays, and especially for someone like you – the soon-to-be former team associate of the United States Congress. At this moment, you may be packing boxes and moving vans with the cherished mementos and petty cash of your career in Washington. You may be wrapping those last-minute trillion dollar gifts and holiday earmarks for loyal supporters, phoning final farewells to your Washington colleagues, lobbyists, and “escort services.” In many cases you may find that they, too, have lost their jobs — and, if they haven’t, will no longer return your calls. And in those lonely moments between, you ask: why me?

Whether you’re a recently displaced 23-term committee chairman or a formerly smug unemployed staffer with $180,000 of Georgetown student loans, it’s important not to give in to despair. Psychological studies tell us a lost re-election campaign is the single most stressful event in the life of a congressional incumbent, even topping the indictment of a campaign contributor or an appearance at an unscripted town hall meeting. Also, a ballot box layoff is, next to death, the second-leading cause of leaving Congress. The good news is that there are positive, proactive steps you can take to reduce stress and smooth your transition to your new life in the great unknown outside I-95.

And that’s where this brochure comes in. At Iowahawk Congressional Outplacement Services our primary goal is to orient, retrain, and mainstream former employees of Capitol Hill for productive careers outside Washington. While we can’t get you back your seniority, your perks, or your mahogany-paneled office in the Dirksen Building, we can give you the tools you’ll need after your ignominious rejection by those bastard ingrates you’ll soon be living among. Follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll be back on your feet in no time! Probably. Continue reading

Chesty Puller and Catholic Chaplains


Some men become legends after their deaths and others become legends while they are alive.  Lewis Burwell Puller, forever known as “Chesty”, was in the latter category.  Enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1918 he would serve until 1955, rising in rank from private to lieutenant general.  Throughout his career he led from the front, never asking his men to go where he would not go.  For his courage he was five times awarded the Navy Cross,  a Silver Star,  a Distinguished Service Cross, and a Bronze Star with a v for valor, along with numerous other decorations.  In World War II and Korea he became a symbol of the courage that Marines amply displayed in  both conflicts.

His fourth Navy Cross citation details why the Marines under his command would have followed him in an attack on Hades if he had decided to lead them there:

“For extraordinary heroism as Executive Officer of the Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, serving with the Sixth United States Army, in combat against enemy Japanese forces at Cape Gloucester, New Britain, from 26 December 1943 to 19 January 1944. Assigned temporary command of the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, from 4 to 9 January, Lieutenant Colonel Puller quickly reorganized and advanced his unit, effecting the seizure of the objective without delay. Assuming additional duty in command of the Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, from 7 to 8 January, after the commanding officer and executive officer had been wounded, Lieutenant Colonel Puller unhesitatingly exposed himself to rifle, machine-gun and mortar fire from strongly entrenched Japanese positions to move from company to company in his front lines, reorganizing and maintaining a critical position along a fire-swept ridge. His forceful leadership and gallant fighting spirit under the most hazardous conditions were contributing factors in the defeat of the enemy during this campaign and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

Stories began to cluster about him.  When he was first shown a flame thrower he supposedly asked, “Where do you mount the bayonet?”    Advised that his unit was surrounded he replied:  “All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us…they can’t get away this time.”  On an inspection tour of a Marine unit he became exasperated at the lack of spirit he saw and finally said,”Take me to the Brig. I want to see the real Marines!”  During the Chosin campaign in Korea when the Marines were fighting their way to the coast through several Communist Chinese corps he captured the tactical situation succinctly:  “We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We’re surrounded. That simplifies things.”  Little surprise that Marine Drill Instructors at Parris Island still have their boots sing good night to Chesty Puller some four decades after his death.

Puller was an Episcopalian.  However he made no secret that he greatly admired Navy Catholic chaplains who served with the Marines, and had little use, with certain honorable exceptions, for the Navy Protestant chaplains sent to the Corps.  His reasons were simple.  The Catholic chaplains were without fear, always wanted to be with the troops in combat, and the men idolized them for their courage and their willingness, even eagerness, to stand with them during their hour of trial. Continue reading

21 Coptic Christians Dead and What To Do About It

A Muslim homicide bomber maimed 97 innocent Christians and killed (and still counting) 21 other innocent Christians at the conclusion of Mass outside a Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt.  Of course our impotent President Obama condemned… no one essentially, only the act itself.

First of all we as Christians here in the West should do is pray, pray, and pray more for the victims and perpetrators of this attack as well as our ignorant American president.

Secondly we should demand that President Obama tie foreign aid to countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, etc., to the protection of Christians in their respective countries.

If said countries sufficiently protect those Christian minorities, then said aid will flow.  If not, cut off all aid immediately.

A simple solution to an allegedly complex problem.

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