Cotton Bowl Discussion

Thursday, January 6, AD 2011

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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14 Responses to Cotton Bowl Discussion

  • Oh, and the “Cotton Bowl” ? How can you call it the “Cotton Bowl” if it’s not at the actual … you know … COTTON BOWL ?

    It’s a travesty that the Cotton Bowl committee threw tradition under the bus and that the game is no longer an afternoon game on New Year’s Day in Fair Park, but is a prime time game being played a week after most of the country stopped giving a crap in Jerry’s monstrosity.

  • WHOOP!

    With regard to Jerrod Johnson’s tendency to turn the ball over this season, I think it had more to do with arm strength after his surgery during the off season. Certainly expectations were high, but I think they play second fiddle to his shoulder.

    Excited to watch the game. Should be good.

  • With regard to Jerrod Johnson’s tendency to turn the ball over this season, I think it had more to do with arm strength after his surgery during the off season. Certainly expectations were high, but I think they play second fiddle to his shoulder.

    Good point. That problem should be fixed by the NFL Combine, where I suspect Johnson will wow a number of scouts (assuming he goes). With Luck out of the 2011 Draft, Johnson might have some luck.

  • When Johnson was still playing this season, you could really see the toll that surgery took on his arm; wounded ducks were par for his course. My sister’s an aggie so I’ll be cheering for the team in maroon.

  • “The Aggies enter the Cotton Bowl as the hottest Big-12 team”

    When Texas has a bad season, isn’t this kind of like a tallest midget award?

  • When Texas has a bad season, isn’t this kind of like a tallest midget award?

    You mean the Texas team that A&M beat three times in their last five meetings?

  • When Texas has a bad season, isn’t this kind of like a tallest midget award?

    Only if you wear orange-colored glasses… Out here in the real world, giants fall and new ones take their place. It’s happened before and will happen again.

  • I might add… does some one have bowl-envy? 😉

  • Ryan Tannehill is 5-0 since taking over as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback. The last Aggies quarterback to win his first five games was Bucky Richardson, whose streak included the 1988 Cotton Bowl.

  • Well, at least I got A&M’s score correct.

  • I wondered whether LSU’s offense would be able to sustain the momentum it had since the 3rd quarter of the Alabama game. Jefferson has really grown a lot, and while he seems to start games off rough often, if he calms down he can really move the LSU offense. To be sure, we prefer to run it but LSU is never going to be a passing-based offense anyway. I’ll be interested to see if JJ can keep his job with Mettenberger coming to Baton Rouge.

    Anyway, this is a great win for LSU to get a great boost of confidence going into next year. The Aggies played well, particularly when they came out passing, but in the end our defense was just too strong to not shut down the Aggies.

    Oh, and I believe this officially clinches me as winner of the TAC Bowl Pick’em! Woohoo! Time to switch gears and hope the Saints keep up the good football mojo in Louisiana! GEAUX TIGERS AND WHO DAT!


    Michael, Congratulations on winning TAC Bowl Pick’em.

    Chalk me up as one of those who would prefer to see Miles go to Michigan. However, I know that I don’t have a rational reason for it. His teams win. Period. I’ve also bemoaned Jordan Jefferson all through the season – though with better reason.

    Having said that, I must congratulate Miles and JJ. Both did a very good job against the Aggies. That was a great game – both in planning and execution.

    At this point, Mettenberger will have a lot to live up to if he wants to displace JJ as starting QB. Jefferson knows the offense and will have a lot of rightly-deserved confidence going into the Spring.

    With the level of talent coming back for LSU, they’ve got to be a Top 5 team.

  • Glad to see A&M maintaining their pristine bowl record.

300 Spartans, Freedom and Faith

Thursday, January 6, AD 2011


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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8 Responses to 300 Spartans, Freedom and Faith

  • Herodotus, The Histories, tells the story in three or four pages. His narrative of Marathon is also quite good.

    The Spartans were forbidden to take the field en masse due to a religious requirement. But, the Ephors – I think – it’s over 40 years – were correctly intent on fortifying the Istmus at Corinth and fighting in the bottleneck there, where numbers could not come to bear. The Spartan traitor, Mardonius, advised Xerxes to occupy the large island off the Pelopponese and attack from there. That may have killed the Greeks.

    The devastating storm; the smashing naval victory at Salammis, and the end at Platea sent a million slaves packing back to their hell holes. After that the Greek was attacking Persia. Except Athens and Sparta decided to commit fratricide for 30 years. See Thucydices.

    The Persian cavalry could not operate at Thermopylae and the Persian light infantry could not maneuver to overcome the advantage of the disciplined teamwork of the hoplite. And, the Spartan male was a life-long professional hoplite. Which meant strength, skill in arms and unflinching disclined valor.

    I never heard of an annual helot massacre. I doubt it was necessary.

    “I bore him that he die for Sparta.” A Spartan Mother.

  • Aristotle is our source T. Shaw for the annual declaration of war on the Helots. Killings that resulted from such declarations are quite well documented. For example, about 2000 Helots were massacred in 425 AD, as related by Thucydides:

    “The helots were invited by a proclamation to pick out those of their number who claimed to have most distinguished themselves against the enemy, in order that they might receive their freedom; the object being to test them, as it was thought that the first to claim their freedom would be the most high spirited and the most apt to rebel. As many as two thousand were selected accordingly, who crowned themselves and went round the temples, rejoicing in their new freedom. The Spartans, however, soon afterwards did away with them, and no one ever knew how each of them perished.”

  • Excellent. I learned something. It seems Spartan youth also crept around at night killing helots . . .

    My assumption was that helots were more valuable alive than dead.

  • I can count this entire story as one of the many things I was not taught in eighteen years of schooling.

    Perhaps the intention was to make myself and others helots, too.

    The Truth really does make you free.

    And very, very dangerous.

  • I was really disappointed in the movie 300, which I found virtually unwatchable because the historical inaccuracies (not just of dress and such, but more philosophical issues like it’s “reason vs. faith” theme which was so directly a-historical). I’ll have to take a look at the ’62 movie, but I do hope that some day the Frank Miller dramatization is sufficiently forgotten that someone can make the kind of movie about the subject which it so richly deserves.

    (Though a movie about the Great Siege of Malta remains my most-wished-for historical epic.)

  • You can get a taste of the 1962 movie here Darwin. It has a few Hollywood elements: a love story between one of the Spartans and a Spartan maiden, for example, but otherwise it tells the straight story and tells it well:

    Leonidas is played by Richard Egan, a truly fine performer who I think was underrated. Egan, a devout Roman Catholic, was a judo instructor in the US Army during World War II.

  • I’d rather see a movie based on the Song of Roland than nude pederasts representing so-called Greek-culture. Frank Miller is creative and I enjoy some of his other work, especially The Dark Knight; however, this movie was tired and one big gay fantasy. I though Perez Hilton was the only one who enjoyed it.

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

Wednesday, January 5, AD 2011

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.

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

  • If we are talking philosophically, I would point to Russell Kirk, who rarely ever discussed economics (insofar as I’m aware). The libertarian, on the other hand, seems to me to be preoccupied with economics and monetary policy.

    One instance in which Kirk did opine on economics was his essay on Wilhelm Roepke, who favored, according to Kirk, the “economic humanism of the Third Way.” That’s a big difference in theory, anyway.

  • “is there a difference between conservative and libertarian perspectives on economic policy?”

    Yes, but this question cannot be answered without clarification of terms and geography. First, our political geography is British-American and the usage of terms in this geography is different from everywhere else (in effect, we do not use them properly). The Australians have it more proper: the party of the right is the Liberal Party because of its economic (classical) liberalism and its coalition (disparate) social policies; the party of the left is Labour.

    In the U.S., both parties are “liberal” – the GOP strongly tends toward right-liberalism (Freedom!), mostly in economic terms, and the Democrats strongly tends toward left-liberalism (Equality!). Libertarian thought is very much in the liberal camp, although we tend to (awkwardly) use “liberal” to mean “statist” or “corporatist.”

    However, right-liberalism and libertarianism are in the coalition of the “Right”, although these strands of thought are not “conservative.” In fact, capitalism et. al. is really quite radical, and Ayn Rand (who hated libertarians and conservatives, by the way) called herself a “radical for capitalism.”

    Much of “conservative” opinion today is not truly conservative – it is Wilsonian (look into Ronald Pestritto for this very strong case) and liberal (despite the semantic confusion). Basically, Pat Buchanan is right.

    As for your question on economic policy, we answer yes because a conservative properly understood (seperate from other members of the coalition of the Right) views culture and human capital, for example, as more important than the details of economic structure for the advance of material prosperity.

  • I think that libertarians tend to be more pure in their support of the free market economic policies than are conservatives. Most libertarians, for example, would say that we should get rid of the FDA, privatize all the national parks, etc., whereas my guess is that such ideas would make the typical conservative nervous.

    To some extent this may just be a consequence of their being so many more conservatives than libertarians. Self-described conservatives are about 40%, libertarians are about 1%. If you are generally in favor of economic liberty but think allowing unlicensed doctors or whatever is going too far, you’re probably going to call yourself a conservative rather than a libertarian.

  • Good insights jonathan.

  • BA,

    Would you say that there is some principle(s) underlying the conservative perspective? My initial impression of your comment is that you’re saying that libertarians are more philosophically consistent… both groups hold to the same principles, but conservatives don’t see those principles through to their logical conclusions as do libertarians.


    I agree with your comments… I was using “conservative” in the American sense, even though it isn’t technically accurate. I think your final ‘graph is key… perhaps we might say that conservative economic thought doesn’t operate in a vacuum but takes culture & human capital into account.

  • Libertarians seem to be a lot more philosophical than general conservatives– they figure out what their planks are and stick to them; conservatives tend to have more general principals.

    It seems like Libertarians, when they have to opposed views, will reason them out and discard one of them; conservatives tend to have more of a web of views.

    A major difference I see between libertarians and conservatives on economic matters is “what are allowed to be economic matters”– I’ve seen (personally initiated) indentured servitude, prostitution, organ selling, etc, defended on libertarian grounds. More philosophically pure– if you have the right to make a contract (limited to yourself and your stuff) then….

    It’s a little tough, because it’s not really black-white, and the terms aren’t perfectly agreed on– I’m a conservative that’s largely libertarian, even in some realms where other conservatives feel we need to build more morality, but in some places I do support “social engineering.” (I hold that a political collective should act to promote the highest quality citizens it can, thus it should promote self-sufficient families, thus tax disincentives to have a parent at home should be avoided. ) Some libertarians hold we should have a tax carefully designed to be totally neutral, although that’s a bag of cats in itself.

  • In all seriousness, the economic alternative to libertarianism in the GOP is corporatism. It is also the leading economic philosophy of the Democratic Party. The dividing point presently between the two camps is that Republicans tend to favor economic security being provided to labor via the government (at whatever level) and the Democrats tend to favor it being provided to labor through business owners via regulation. An example of the former is increasing the child tax credit. An example of the latter is taxes on businesses that don’t provide adequate health coverage to their employees. On the think tank side of the equation, I think the GOP is clearly libertarian driven. There are also demographics within the GOP where libertarian economic thought is more persuasive, and I think that owes to the fundamentalist nature of economic libertarianism.

  • Basically, Pat Buchanan is right.

    Ah blow mah noze at yew!

    is corporatism. It is also the leading economic philosophy of the Democratic Party.

    Whatever it is.

  • My initial impression of your comment is that you’re saying that libertarians are more philosophically consistent.

    I would say that’s right, though I don’t necessarily view it as a criticism of conservatism.

  • I would say that’s right, though I don’t necessarily view it as a criticism.

    But isn’t the consequence of that that on economic matters, conservatism is (at least somewhat) arbitrary, or even unprincipled in the literal sense?

  • Conservatives are libertarians on a diet. I don’t think most libertarians would oppose an increased child tax credit. Children make your poorer. Most libertarians aren’t opposed to helping the poor through tax credits. I think the split is deepest in the area of moral behavior. Prostitution, gambling, sodomy, statutory rape, organ sales, drugs… Of course, it’s complicated by countless exceptions. Is harsh drug laws really a conservative position? Was William F. Buckley not a conservative? Justice Thomas said he would repeal anti-sodomy laws. St. Thomas Aquinas defended legal prostitution. It seems like most conservatives couldn’t care less about gambling.

  • But isn’t the consequence of that that on economic matters, conservatism is (at least somewhat) arbitrary, or even unprincipled in the literal sense?

    Not necessarily. I think it comes down to conservatism sometimes being more behavioralist than rationalist. The places where conservatives differ from libertarians on economic policy are often place where the conservative argument is along the lines of “yes, but people are used to this other approach” or “perhaps, but people don’t tend to understand it that way”. This may be less philosophically principled, but that’s in part because conservatives are holding to a different principle that things should not change suddenly and that there is a value to doing things in the way that people have come to expect and understand them.

  • I think (“Opinion is not truth.” – Plato) that the libertarian paradigm is closer to pure economics in that its economics policy (seemingly) would be more free of moral “pulls” and other agendae.

    Economics does not, generally, factor in moral, charitable, or political power (buy votes) considerations. It is concerned (theory and purity – nonexistent) with rational behavior in an economic unit’s own best interest assuming the player is typically motivated and has access to adequate information to make an rational “economic” decision that is in its best interest.

    Libertarians oppose laws against prostitution and narcotics not (I hope) on moral grounds, but because they lead to excessive governmental power, less liberty, etc. Conservatives (probably really Wilsonians, I guess) may more likely support morals in laws.

    Labels. Labels. I can’t tell you whether I am a conserv or a libertarian. It depends.

    One thing I agree with liberts: tax laws should be solely written to raise needed revenue not to advance agenda or narratives. Point of information: the $1,350 Federal income tax personal exemption (had been $600 for decades) would be over $10,000 if it were indexed for inflation.

    My children make me more wealthy (my not pure economic rationalization: the lower net worth is worth it!). It’s the AMT that’s making me poorer.

  • “Unprincipled” is generally for moral matters, not philosophical ones. Yay, English not making sense. It might apply, but that would be a whole ‘nother debate on if we define political philosophy as morality, rather than being influenced by morality, then we’d have to decide which philosophy was the correct one.

  • The places where conservatives differ from libertarians on economic policy are often place where the conservative argument is along the lines of “yes, but people are used to this other approach” or “perhaps, but people don’t tend to understand it that way”.

    I would disagree with this. I don’t see folks like Bruce Bartlett forwarding such an argument. There are a number of Republicans that don’t believe Libertarian arguments are sound on the merits. It was Nixon after all who said, “We’re all Keynesians now.” For better or worse, mainstream Republicans are willing to accept the three-part division of labor, owners, and government. Libertarians generally do not accept this division.

    However at the think tank level, I can’t think of any conservative think tanks on economic policy that aren’t libertarian. In as much as that is the root for the formulation and dissemination of ideas, that will continue to push Republicans further into the libertarian camp.

  • I think there are many areas where libertarians and conservatives can and should agree ideologically and economically.

    I think personal responsibility is probably the most important point of agreement, since it goes hand in hand with individual liberty.

    The Austrians do not represent ALL libertarians but it is a very influential school of economic thought. And if you really read their material, what emerges at the end are a set of rather common-sense and, I dare say, conservative propositions and values for ensuring economic health: saving, spending wisely, investing rationally, not living beyond one’s means, respecting the private property of others, not going too deeply into debt, and so on.

    They contend that much of our economic problems stem from policies and practices that disincentivize these practical and sensible economic behaviors and encourage the opposite, such as the constant expansion of the money supply. It removes the discipline of competition and the threat of failure. It encourages and rewards bad investments, reckless spending, disregarding other’s needs, and so on.

    Implicit in Austrian theory, then, are conservative values in the truest sense of the word, values that few if any self-identified American conservatives would reject. Even Pat Buchanan wouldn’t reject them 🙂 This is why I think American libertarianism and conservatism get along on one level. For in the end, and whether they know it or not, a libertarian society would depend heavily upon conservative values to maintain itself. Moral degeneracy promoted by the liberal left is nothing but a different kind of slavery.

  • I would disagree with this. I don’t see folks like Bruce Bartlett forwarding such an argument. There are a number of Republicans that don’t believe Libertarian arguments are sound on the merits. It was Nixon after all who said, “We’re all Keynesians now.”

    I would distinguish here between between conservatism and the GOP. I don’t believe either Bartlett or Nixon would have described themselves as conservative (Barlett used to self-describe as a libertarian; not sure if he still does).

  • saving, spending wisely, investing rationally, not living beyond one’s means, respecting the private property of others, not going too deeply into debt

    Are they against wife beating too?

  • There is an element of philosophical conservatism in the conservative political movement. There is also an element of libertarianism. To the average political conservative (which is what we’re talking about), libertarianism functions more as a critique, a warning that even though a policy may promote a good thing, an incremental increase in government is something to be leery of.

    The conservative and the libertarian differ on their priorities. For a conservative, lower taxes are good because they encourage pro-growth, pro-society behavior. For a libertarian, lower taxes are a good in and of themselves. The libertarian’s goal is freedom. The conservative’s goal is a good society, which (he believes) history has shown him can best be achieved by a free and moral people.

  • Ok, definition time.

    Libertarianism: let us refer to Charles Murray (his book is What it Means to be a Libertarian) and Brian Doherty (his book is Radicals for Capitalism, by far the best history of the movement in the U.S.). The definitons presented in these works are NOT conservative, but they very much ARE of the “right” coalitions of politics, which is unfortunately called “conservative.”

    For example, Doherty: “By extending individual liberty into radical areas of sex, drugs, and science (no restrictions on stem cell research, cloning, or nanotech), libertarianism is the most future looking of American ideologies.”

    There are many such other sentences, and the author knows more about the subject than just about anyone else. Conservatives would NOT extend individual liberty, present no restrictions, be forward looking in this way, and would not consider itself an ideology.

    Conservatism: there is no good definition. But it may be defined by its philosophical opposition to libertarian, right-liberal thought.

    My view of conservatism as a matter of definition:
    Conservatism is opposition to all forms of political religion. It is a rejection of the idea that politics can be redemptive. It is the conviction that a properly ordered republic has a government of limited ambition. Conservatism has to do with social order; it recognizes that the sufferings of the underdog are not caused by the fact that some have managed to rescue themselves from their predicament. It is anti-utopian and against the view that what is human should be measured in terms of wealth or power. Conservatism originates in an attitude to civil society, and it is from a conception of civil society that its political doctrine is derived.

    This is set against ideology and towards sentiment and disposition, centered in the family.

  • Libertarians may be more likely to remove from economic policy: agenda, charity, morality, hysteria, narrative, philosophy, political power play, superstition, etc.

    Would a libertarian foreswear any connection with a central planning/collectivist government? Posse comitatus . . .

  • Johnathan,

    I JUST bought and began reading the same Doherty book. But let’s look at this.

    “Conservatives would NOT extend individual liberty, present no restrictions, be forward looking in this way, and would not consider itself an ideology.”

    Can we make a distinction here between values and laws? Because there is a movement within libertarianism, paleolibertarianism, mostly associated with the Austrian school, that does not VALUE unrestricted sexual liberty, drug abuse, or these technologies that tamper with the foundations of life and nature. It simply argues that in most cases, the state’s intervention will do more harm than good, or that in others, that it has no right to intervene at all.

    Take sex, for instance. What ought to be punishable with regards to sex? Should we be locking people up for adultery or fornication? For homosexual acts? I think most conservatives would say no, we shouldn’t. Should we be throwing pornographers and their customers in jail? Again, I think a lot of conservatives would say no. I think you could even say the same thing about prostitution.

    And what about drugs? Again, I don’t value drug use as a positive good. I think it makes losers and criminals out of people. But should anyone be thrown in prison for possession, or for selling in small amounts, of marijuana? Absolutely not.

    As for the other issues, I think Doherty ignores the fact that there are a lot of pro-life Christian libertarians, most prominent among them, Ron Paul. The pro-life position can easily and even more consistently be defended on libertarian principles. Rand and Rothbard do not have the final say in this matter.

    All of that being said, I agree that libertarianism is not conservatism. They’re two different things. But they overlap in many important areas and have a lot to offer one another. If conservatives become less enthusiastic about foreign wars and filling up the prisons with victimless lawbreakers, and libertarians become less enthusiastic about sexual libertinism and scientistic futurism, the collaboration could become even more fruitful. And this will depend upon each recognizing what the other values, and valuing it as well: libertarians valuing a measure of order and stability as the requisite for dignified and human liberty (as opposed to something animalistic and depraved), and conservatives valuing liberty to live, work, worship and raise their children as they see fit.

    I think the key principle, then, they both need to work on and understand mutually is freedom of association.

  • Joe,

    You are correct that paelolibertarianism has much in common with Buchanite (post-1990, when he turned on libertarianism) popular thought, the rough outline of traditionalism in our American context (back to Kirk and then Burke) that I would consider conservatism. Rothbard even wanted to claim Burke as an offshoot anarchist, and he made a good case! And I know we have discussed Ropke in this vein as well.

    I would submit, however, we must make distinctions of human anthropology. What is the fundamental unit of society? Is one more likely in writings to answer the “individual”, or the “family”? Does one use the language of “personhood” and “community” as set against the state? If so, I do not consider them a libertarian, but instead as a member of the loose coalition of traditionalists, loose because our very founding was infused with radicalism and utopianism, full of the Puritans and Locke. But it was also full of the Greeks and Cicero and anti-Whig sentiment – a giant mixture that set the foundation for our current confusion of terms.

    Good discussion, more later to better directly your points.

  • Conservatism: there is no good definition. But it may be defined by its philosophical opposition to libertarian, right-liberal thought.

    Let’s see. Marxism is opposed to libertarian, right-liberal thought. Therefore Marxism is conservative. Left-liberalism is opposed to right-liberal thought. Therefore left-liberalism is conservative. And so on.

    It seems to me that if most people in a society who call themselves conservative believe X, saying that X is not conservative is a non-starter (it would be like saying that it was wrong to call oranges “oranges” because the word “oranges” really refers to bananas).

  • Black Adder, well, I could have been more precise in that opposition to right-liberalism (especially the elevation of an abstracted freedom) is one way to define conservatism, but certainly incomplete. The point is that the etymology of conservatism has less to do with ideology and much more to do with places, people, and circumstance. I don’t disagree with your point but it didn’t address my intended argument.

    Joe, Doherty does ignore the details of socially conservative libertarians like
    Ron Paul, but with very good reasons: they are not that common, they are not that loud within the movements, and philosophically, they are out of step with much of the movement. At many levels, this does not matter that much and can lead to a lot of agreement, particularly with regard to an increased and re-oriented federalism away from centralized power and away from Wilsonian adventurism. But it remains that the strongest currents of libertarianism is socially permissive, either by direct belief or by a consequence of their ideas (ie being for the overturn of Roe but against state restriction of a woman’s “freedom”).

    You are correct that the pro-life position can easily and even more consistently be defended on libertarian principles, but the above problem remains – will a libertarian advocate for the sort of severe state-level restrictions we would advcate for? I doubt it.

    And Rand and Rothbard are libertarians mostly by influence – Rand really did despise them, and Rothbard was quite a bit more ideologically “interesting” than a lot of LP types (who are themselves only part of the movements also).

    Finally, conservatism and libertarianism do overlap in many important areas and have a lot to offer one another. I agree. But they will always be fundamentally at odds, and the reason is human anthropology. The individual is not the basic unit of society, and society is a thing which exists.

  • The conservatism we speak of is a political group of the USA, holding to the notion that what we had before worked pretty well– Christian world view, classic morality, lack of powerful government forces, trust people to mostly take care of their own interests, keep predators at bay on the lowest possible level, asking for help from the next level up is something you do only when it’s a MAJOR thing.

    Not being a philosophy like Libertarianism, it’s a lot harder to define– ever try defining “Catholic” to someone? Go past “in communion with Rome” and you’ve got issues, because a lot of it is history. (Trust me, I’ve tried it– compare with “agnostic” and get real headaches.)

  • I believe that while both libertarians and conservatives favor free markets, conservatives insinuate a much greater prudential component into the calculus. Libertarians favor free markets as a matter of philosophy — they believe individual freedom to be the penultimate good. Conservatives agree that individual freedom is a good, but do not regard it as penultimate. And while conservatives favor free markets because freedom is a good, they acknowledge competing “goods” which must also be considered. That calculus also takes into account the perception that free markets tend to produce superior economic and social results, something with which libertarians generally agree but consider irrelevant since the only value they deem worthy of measure is the degree of individual freedom. A case in point would be public education. True libertarians oppose public funding of education, believing that each family should be responsible for raising and educating its own children. They would hold to this belief even if you convince them that a high percentage of families would fail in this regard and society generally would be worse off without an educated citizenry. This is because their calculus is entirely philosophical rather than partially prudential. Accordingly, they favor a voucher system over a public school system simply because it adds an element of freedom for individual families and is therefore closer to their philosophical ideal. Many conservatives also favor a voucher system, but only because they believe they work better than public schools — a prudential conclusion. If public schools could be shown to do a better job overall than publicly funded private schools, conservatives would largely favor a public school system over a voucher system notwithstanding the loss of market freedom. In such a case libertarians would still favor the voucher system simply because it allows for greater market freedom, which is a necessary component of their penultimate value.

  • is there a difference between conservative and libertarian perspectives on economic policy

    I think that depends on whether the perspective is normative (out of which distributional questions arise) or the perspective is positive (on the pattern of economic phenomena and the likely implications of adopting policy x, y, or z). I think the answers would be;

    1. Yes; and
    2. Not a systematic difference.

  • Johnathan,

    “Joe, Doherty does ignore the details of socially conservative libertarians like Ron Paul, but with very good reasons: they are not that common, they are not that loud within the movements, and philosophically, they are out of step with much of the movement.”

    Not that loud? Ron Paul has been arguably the most successful libertarian presidential candidate to date, and his campaigns have drawn tens of thousands of people towards libertarian ideas – such as myself (though I don’t agree with him on everything, and no one should agree with anyone on everything).

    I mean, who remembers Harry Browne? About as many people who remember James P. Cannon, and the same types too.

    Social libertinism is really quite damaging to the libertarian political cause. How many people out there agree with the basic points of the laissez-faire agenda, and even oppose American empire-building, but are completely turned off by the depravity that is lauded by libertarian types? It may fit philosophically, but it doesn’t seem necessary. Libertarians will never dominate the political scene – they have to choose between fostering the cause of economic liberty by siding with conservatism, or fostering sexual depravity by siding with the Democrats. They choose the former 9 times out of 10 because they know, deep down, that sexual libertinism has only created a situation where millions more have become dependent on social services, and that families are a if not the primary source of economic and even intellectual independence from the state.

    And I firmly believe that you can’t be a consistent political libertarian if you aren’t a metaphysical libertarian, and you can’t be a metaphysical libertarian if you don’t believe in God, and you can’t believe in God and celebrate amorality and depravity. In short, you can’t believe in freedom without some sort of restraint.

    Of course most people don’t care about consistency, I get that. But I think a perfectly coherent libertarianism that takes morality seriously on a philosophical and cultural level is possible and necessary. I need to write the book on it.

  • Mike,

    “True libertarians oppose public funding of education, believing that each family should be responsible for raising and educating its own children. They would hold to this belief even if you convince them that a high percentage of families would fail in this regard and society generally would be worse off without an educated citizenry.”

    This seems to be a sort of unwarranted generalization. Don’t libertarians support private schools, school choice, and the like? Why would they limit themselves to families?

    The core political-philosophical belief of the libertarian is that social arrangements ought to be voluntary. So if families want to fund private schools to educate their children, that is perfectly acceptable. They oppose public education because a) it is paid for by forcibly redistributing wealth, b) it is often compulsory, and c) it indoctrinates children with statist ideology. Educational institutions that do none of these things but which are not homeschools are possible and they exist.

  • Maybe I misunderstood, since vouchers pay for private schools. But even so, vouchers are far from the only non-statist alternative. You could have private schools that simply charge people for their services, and costs could be lowered in the same way they are in any other market – through competition. Or you could have employers starting up schools to educate future employees.

  • As I’ve said before, I don’t think anyone (or at least, very few people) is purely and consistently 100 percent liberal, conservative, libertarian, or any other political category. There always has to be a balance among these ideas in our public policy; the only question is where or in what direction the balance should be. Also, the balance needs to be adjusted depending on time and place — what “worked” during the Depression or World War II or the Baby Boom era won’t necessarily work the same way today.

    I seem to remember C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity writing that because we have fallen away from the ideal God created us to aspire to — the natural moral law — there will inevitably be parts of Christ’s teachings that don’t appeal to us, and we will always pick and choose the parts we like and claim that they are the entirety of Christian social teaching.

    He also said that if we ever did encounter a 100 percent “Christian” society, it would (by the standards of 1940s Britain, at least) appear to be very “liberal” or progressive in some ways (i.e. its insistence on helping those less fortunate and sharing one’s goods) but very conservative and old fashioned in others (for example, in its insistence on obedience to all lawful authority and — which Lewis admitted even then would be extremely unpopular — obedience of wives to husbands).

    Needless to say, Catholic social teaching is “all over the map” from a political spectrum point of view in that it is not consistently liberal, conservative or libertarian. And that is what we should expect.

    If the libertarian ideal is for all social institutions to be purely voluntary and privatized, then a “pure” libertarian would insist that all public schools, libraries, parks, transportation, infrastructure, and social services be abolished and replaced by private enterprise or else cease to exist. Government would be responsible only for national defense and law enforcement, and maybe some infrastructure like public roads, but nothing else.

    The odds are that only a tiny minority of people will ever want to take it that far and privatize everything. However, a well-organized and articulate libertarian movement might be able to persuade a significant number of people to privatize at least some functions now assumed by government. In this way, the balance of power between government and private enterprise is adjusted.

  • Needless to say, Catholic social teaching is “all over the map” from a political spectrum point of view in that it is not consistently liberal, conservative or libertarian.

    Tangential to this, Elaine, I value the fact that CST derives from a set of principles; that’s what I’d like to see within political discourse as well, but I wonder if I might as well be tilting at windmills.

  • Part of our problem is that conservatism, as it arose in post-WWII America, became almost immediately and exclusively about opposition to communism. This was a worthy object, of course, but it allowed those who carried on as conservatives to ignore the larger issue – what, after all, is conservatism trying to conserve? So wrapped up in opposing the communist threat, conservatives failed to perceive the dangers in over-large corporations like GM and Chase; failed to effectively fight against moral disintegration; failed, in the end, to come up with a coherent world view which would allow a conservative to say, “I want a society organized thus”.

    Because of this failure of imagination we’ve got a lot of ostensible conservatives out there – well meaning to a man and woman – who honestly think that capitalism is something worthy of conserving; who fight tooth and nail against Big Government without taking a thought about Big Corporation; who have become so wrapped up in fighting the Statist liberalism of modern times that they have resigned the fight against pornography, depraved popular culture, family disintegration and the rest of our social pathologies. While not going libertarian on such matters, there is little thought among most conservatives about these issues, and the destruction being done.

    Libertarians just get it a bit more wrong – a once admirable defense of freedom has essentially become a plea to just do as one pleases. Such people really can’t see what is wrong with gay marriage, for instance – they just can’t imagine a world in which individual choices can result in societal destruction, and thus such choices are, at least in part, the business of society as a whole.

    What all this has wound up causing in practice is just what Chesterton observed about conservatism a century ago – it merely conserves liberalism (libertarianism does so, too; but on a smaller scale as there are so much fewer libertarians). The forces of the right have fought a receding battle – always thrust back from each position because there has been on the right no set of principles of where we’re going. No understanding what we want to conserve, no understanding that if we want to conserve it, we must make it anew in each generation.

    So, at bottom, libertarianism and conservatism are the same – in the sense that both are fighting a losing battle. Only just now, in this past year – and only via the TEA Party movement – have libertarians and conservatives (and then only some of them) started to develope a coherent worldview – a goal to be achieved. We’ll see how it comes out.

  • Joe,
    By public funding I meant government funding, not private voluntary arrangements. Sorry if that was not clear, especially since my comment makes no snese whatsoever otherwise.

  • Joe,
    Also, I was not suggesting that libertarians favor only homeschooling. Libertarians believe that families are *responsible* for their children’s education and can and should fulfill that responsiblilty by any voluntary arrangement they choose.

  • Mike – We’re very much in agreement about this. Modern conservatism is very Aristotelian, defining the good life in terms of individual character and quality of society. A lot of the founding fathers’ quotes you’ll see online (“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams) reflect this way of thinking. There’s an understanding of liberty as a means, or at most one goal of society.

    The libertarian sees liberty as an end. I once heard Arthur Laffer asked about Jack Kemp’s idea of urban enterprise zones. Laffer answered that any tax cut, anywhere, was a good idea. I think that’s the libertarian perspective: looking at a reduction in government as a good thing, in and of itself.

  • Exactly, Pinky.

    And I disagree with much of Mark’s post. True conservatism abhors coherence in preference to an acknowledgment of competing considerations evaluated through a prudential lens. A conservative may well believe that divorce violates God’s law but nonetheless favor its legal availablity in civil law on prudential grounds. In other words conservatives recognize certain moral absolutes, but do not believe societies can be structured around the assumption of universal observance. Conservatives do not trust those who have confident views of how a society should be organized, or especially reorganized.

  • I think on economics conservatives are simply more willing to make compromises with progressives than are libertarians.

    But this is coming from someone who believes that the terms conservative and liberal are useful only to identify very broadly with a set of political ideas.

    Sorry if this has already been said I haven’t had time to read all the comments!

  • Mike,

    A conservatism which doesn’t get coherent will, 20 years from now, find itself fighting to defend gay marriage against innovators who want polygamy legalized…and that conservatism will lose that fight, too.

  • 20 years? More like five for that fight.

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

Wednesday, January 5, AD 2011

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:

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

  • I came out of law school making very good money (over 50K per annum nearly 20 years ago) and with relatively less debt than today’s law students (around 50K – I paid it off in less than the 10 years in which I was obligated to do so).

    I was still miserable practicing law.

  • All in all, I have rather enjoyed my legal career, but at least half of the attorneys I encounter wish they were doing something else, and about a quarter of the attorneys I know really despise being an attorney.

    Most of my friends and fellow law students have been pretty fortunate in the job search and have good jobs. Even among that subset – the lucky ones – I’d say more than half wish that they had not gone to law school. I don’t personally regret it, but I’m thankful every day that I failed to get into my target school and as a result graduated with very little debt. Working as a lawyer is exceptionally demanding compared to most other jobs; there are wiser courses of action than getting into $100k of debt for an uncertain shot at a job that will require you to work more hours with less pleasant people (and possibly at less pay than the alternatives).

  • I wish I had gotten a finance degree and gone into trading instead.

  • I mentioned the ABA report to a judge I appeared in front of today and his comment was, even leaving income and law school debt aside, that the law was a suck “posterior” profession.

  • Thankfully my situation is not as dire. What the ABA report does not mention is that you can get subsidized loans for the tuition amount and then unsubsidized for an amount afterward (about $6,000 per semester). The problem is that the tuition amount is frequently determines before schools set up their tuition and/or fee amounts. What frequently happens is that the tuition is set by the loaner and then raised by the school. Thus, you often need to get the unsubsidized loans as well (these loans collect interest while in school).

    It’s pretty much a racket.

  • I suppose that the suck-posteriorness of the job could be assuaged by the high pay in some corners. My college roommate got into “Preparation H” along the Charles River and is now a partner at a blue chip Manhattan firm. I imagine he paid off his law school debts pretty quickly. The loss of his soul is another matter.

  • Is it not to a cause for rejoicing that we may end up by having fewer lawyers?

    Did Our Lord not warn lawyers: “Woe to you lawyers!” [Luke 11:46].

    With such a warning from on high, how can one lament so poor choice?

  • Add to the mix about five grand to take courses and tests both to get into law school and to pass the bar as well as the annual fees and CLE costs.

    I was well into my career before going to law school; good thing since servicing my debt eats up almost a quarter of my salary and I haven’t found a legal job that would let me make as much as I make now. My last application joined more than 3800 others; 3800 applicants for one job!

    I am grateful for my present situation but the constant solicitations from my alma mater is all the more tiresome for my not being employed as a lawyer.

  • G-Veg, I get calls from my alma mater all the time for contributions to my Law School. I’m polite, since they dragoon students into making the calls, but I have never, and will never, give them one thin dime, especially since my tax dollars already go to them, not to mention the fairly large sums I’m spending to have my son attend my alma mater.

Israeli Spy Arrested by Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, January 4, AD 2011

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!

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10 Responses to Israeli Spy Arrested by Saudi Arabia

  • Some irrationality can be expected after the almost certain Israeli involvement in the Dubai assassination, the Iranian computer virus, and most recently in the Lebanese spy cameras.

  • Oh, you beat me to it! Where is Karlson to warn about the threat posed by Zionist avians? How does a vulture keep Kosher? How does this connect to the mass bird drops in this country? Inquiring tin foiled covered minds want to know!

  • Perhaps if the vulture converts to Islam it will be forgiven.

  • Some irrationality can be expected after the almost certain Israeli involvement in the Dubai assassination, the Iranian computer virus, and most recently in the Lebanese spy cameras.

    Based on what little I know I would bet that Israel was indeed responsible for those things. However, I don’t think that is or should be the cause of irrationality in the region (or the West!). I think the irrationality in the region preceded and even created those events.

    For example, the Iranian government, frothing with hatred toward Jews and Israel, outwardly talks about wiping Israel off the face of the map and is trying to build nuclear weapons to that end. The virus, if created by Israel with Iran as the target, intended to thwart Iran’s horrific objectives via non-violent means. I’d say the irrationality of Iran led to the virus’ creation.

  • Not to mention that, if WikiLeaks is to be believed, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and other local countries privately told the US: You need to make sure that Israel does something about that Iranian nuclear program.

    Still, I can’t resist getting a chuckle or three out of the dastardly Hebrew Vulture. You simply can’t make these things up.

  • I do know the Jews against Zionism website know that political zionism is no joke even though this is made to look like one.

  • You cannot be too careful!

    Seems saudi security is “taking a page from the playbook” of the Obama/Napolitano homeland security strategy, which boils down to grope Grandma, poke grandpa.

  • If that vulture is a Mossad spy, I’d like to know who his handler is! ROTFL!

  • How does a vulture keep its yamaka on?

  • So, the Mossad is now training birds and fish to spy. Right! Then again the U.S. Navy was discovered training and working with dolphins.

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Douthat on the Paradox of the Unborn

Monday, January 3, AD 2011

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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44 Responses to Douthat on the Paradox of the Unborn

  • In our movement, there must be room for diplomats and commissars.

    I have no objection to tailoring language to suit an audience. It’s the argument that counts. While Douthat is usually about as appealing to me as a cup of weak coffee, I certainly understand the need for his approach. It would be nice if more people could recognize that sometimes we need hot rhetoric, sometimes we need cool, sometimes we need it just right. Like the three bears or something.

  • At the same time, it needs to be pointed out that no one would contemplate murdering a born child to give another child “more opportunities” or what have you.

    If you can give your child the basic physical necessities and love, then don’t worry about “opportunities.” It isn’t a parent’s job to provide them. If they can, great, if not, then they can at least raise competent adults who can go out into the world and recognize them.

    This idea that we all have to live a middle class life to be happy is nonsense, and it is the real culprit here. Everyone has to go to college. Everyone has to have a salaried job. Everyone has to be able to go on vacations. God forbid you aim for something modest like trade school or the army. No, this is America and every has not only the right but almost an implied duty to “shoot for the stars.” And if you think you may not have the resources to send your child to college, you may as well abort him or her right now.

    I’d like to know the “poverty” this couple would have faced, and if it would have been significantly worse than what a Mexican immigrant family with several children has to endure. I’ve seen these families, I’ve seen how they manage their limited resources. My working class, first-generation grandparents had six children and they made it work. They weren’t on welfare either.

    I don’t buy the “poverty” argument unless we’re talking homelessness, and that’s less than 1% of the population.

  • “Durham and her boyfriend are the kind of young people our culture sets adrift — working-class and undereducated, with weak support networks, few authority figures, and no script for sexual maturity beyond the easily neglected admonition to always use a condom. Their televised agony was a case study in how abortion can simultaneously seem like a moral wrong and the only possible solution — because it promised to keep them out of poverty, and to let them give their first daughter opportunities they never had.”

    One of the engines that used to lift people out of poverty was a strong family. My paternal grandmother got pregnant when she was 15 out of wedlock. Her boyfriend, my grandfather, did the right thing and they got married. Together they had seven kids, including my dad who was a middle child, and a baby girl who died at birth. During the Great Depression they kept their kids fed, somehow, on what a shoemaker could bring home, and my grandmother cleaning houses. They instilled a strong work ethic in each of their kids, none of whom ever were on welfare, and all of whom found jobs and had families of their own. Three of their sons served in the military, two fighting in World War II. Whatever was thrown at my grandparents by life, including my father who was born with twisted feet and who had to have several expensive surgeries, at the height of the Great Depression, in order to walk, they faced it together and over came poverty, not only for themselves, but their kids. When society teaches people to do the right thing, come what may, it is amazing what miracles can occur. When we teach people that abortion is a solution we cripple the family from the onset with guilt, shame and a never ending sense of loss for a slain child.

  • I could say many similar things about my grandparents and great grandparents, and it is all true. This idea that large families are a curse and a burden just ends up leaving people empty and alone.

  • This idea that we all have to live a middle class life to be happy is nonsense, and it is the real culprit here.

    Much of your comment is spoken like a man without children. (I don’t recall your family status off hand.)

    And people really need to be careful with the just-so stories. What one’s parents did and what one thinks one’s parents did are two different things. During the Great Depression, numerous counties were bankrupted by social aid demands. Young men would sometimes get arrested so that they could have a warm bed and a meal. The dust bowl brought forth a vast diaspora. I’ve heard one too many renditions of my ancestors didn’t succumb to this or that to put faith in anyone’s story.

    As for what grandma and grandpa did, grandma and grandpa lived from the 1940s through the 1960s, a long period of prosperity in this country. Even so, the Social Security check and Medicare coverage keep quite a number of grandmas and grandpas out of dire poverty, whether we are talking about 1980 or 2010.

    Not wanting to watch one’s children suffer through poverty is the most natural desire in the world.

  • Douthat plays a very important role. He represents a sizable minority, the East Coast Mushy Cons, who are being ignored by “Real America.” People like Reihan Salam, David Brooks, David Frum, George Will, Peggy Noonan, Kathleen Parker, and Megan McArdle (I know she’s not really conservative but she acts almost as conservative as the rest of them). I went to high school with one of them and was the neighbor of another. We are just as unwavering as Sarah Palin in some of our conservative views but culturally, we’d be more comfortable in the company of Obama. Without people like them, who knows, maybe someone like Andrew Sullivan would’ve seduced me to his corner (I don’t mean that in a gay way).

  • “And people really need to be careful with the just-so stories.”

    It must be rough MZ being lied to by your parents or grandparents. You must tell us all about it some day. In the case of my grandparents, they did not even have an indoor toilet to save money, but rather used an outdoor privy, which I can attest to as I used it. They also did not have a phone or a car, something else I can attest to. I can also attest to my father telling me that he did not have a new suit of clothes until he joined the Air Force, something my grandfather and grandmother also told me. My grandmother also told me how my father would attend school in patched clothes, but that he would get up early to iron them because he always liked to look his best. Some people, some how, did get by without being wards of the state.

    And in case you think I got an Ozzie and Harriet fable, I was also told by my grandmother how my grandfather used to have a drinking problem. That ended one night after my father, age 18, tossed my drunk grandfather threw a screendoor after he had been chasing my grandmother with a knife. My father then joined the Air Force. My grandfather then stopped drinking, and I can attest that he never touched a drop during my life time, based on my observations and what I was told by my grandmother.

  • “Not wanting to watch one’s children suffer through poverty is the most natural desire in the world.”

    It depends on how you define poverty, which is sort of the point. When people talk about “opportunities” that may be lost, they’re not really talking about poverty. They’re talking about moving from what may a financially insecure, but by no means destitute existence to a somewhat secure middle class existence.

    If you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, access to education and a job market (even if it is a highly competitive one), running water, electricity, transportation and modern amenities, you aren’t poor. And most Americans have these things – the vast majority do.

    I don’t know if my great grandparents had what passed for welfare during the Great Depression. I’m fairly certain my grandparents did not. The point is that they had six kids and not one of them was denied any opportunity that was available to the rest of middle America. Three of their kids are quite well off in fact, and the other three are comfortable enough. It’s because they were instilled with the right values, and the ones that took them to heart – faith and family in particular – are the ones who prospered the most.

    We have a higher standard of living today than they did back then. We have more opportunities than they did back then. I’ve seen Mexican families with four, five, six children who never thought of abortion as a way out. So I don’t deny that people struggle with financial circumstances. But I reject out of hand the notion that abortion is something we can “understand” let alone endorse for such reasons. It’s moral poison.

  • One irony I can’t quite get over is that statistically speaking, marriage is one of the best protections against poverty that women and children have, yet it is the poor who are increasingly less likely to marry or even consider marriage.

    Even couples who already have one or more children and are living together will hesistate to marry because they “can’t afford to.” This can mean either 1) they can’t afford to have a formal wedding with flowers, white gown, attendants, reception, etc., or 2) they don’t believe they are yet capable of supporting a family in the lifestyle to which they aspire. Objection #1 could be easily overcome by having a simple, informal, family-only wedding as most of our non-rich ancestors did; and as for objection #2, if they are already living in the same house and have kids together, doesn’t that prove they CAN support a family? And if you hesistate to marry your live-in honey because you are worried they might cheat on you, drink or do drugs, gamble, rip you off, etc. then why are you living with them?

  • What is truly pathetic Elaine is women who call themselves the “fiancee” of some man they’ve had 3 or 4 kids by and who have been shacked up with them for 4 or 5 years. I run into this situation all the time in my practice. Usually the male “fiancee” has no intention of ever marrying the woman. Responsibility and committment seem to be considered old fashioned in our society and women and kids do tend to be the main victims.

  • Oh, when I and my bride of 28 years married in 1982 we paid $500.00 for the whole thing, with my Mom and one of her friends “catering” the event gratis. People will always find some excuse for not marrying.

  • The horror! The horror!

    “Not wanting to watch one’s children suffer through poverty is the most natural desire in the world.” I think not “the most natural desire.”

    Is the motto then, “Better dead than destitute?”

    It’s liberal out there and getting liberaller.

  • Wow. You were married the year I was born.

  • “We are just as unwavering as Sarah Palin in some of our conservative views but culturally, we’d be more comfortable in the company of Obama.”

    It seems to me that back in the days of William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk, et. al., conservatives took pride in being more cultured and erudite — dare I say intellectually elite? — than the average bear, although the best of them didn’t fall into the trap of elitism. It was Buckley, after all, who said he’d rather be governed by people chosen at random out of the Boston phone book than by a bunch of Harvard professors.

  • I don’t think mocking people’s desire for a middle class existence really helps the pro-life cause.

  • RR,

    I wouldn’t necessarily see Douthat as having much in common with the conservatism of Brooks, Frum or Will, all of whom, while they possess a certain tempermental conservatism, are pretty much completely unwilling to stand up for conservative social issues. Douthat is actually moderately courageous on that front. I would agree that there’s a certain elitism about Douthat, but recall that far from being an Obama supporter, he wrote an early and positive cover article for National Review boosting Palin — though like many conservatives (myself included) he found her later performance to be disappointing and doesn’t seem to hold out any hopes for her as a ticket front-runner at this point unless she matures a great deal as a politician.


    I didn’t see the reality show that Douthat is writing about, so I’m not clear what degree of poverty is being avoided here. I’ll concede that it’s natural to want the best for one’s children but at the same time I think it’s important to draw the distinctions that:

    1) Killing off some offspring is not an acceptable method of bettering others.

    2) Many people consider the middle class “necessities” in raising children to be things which can honestly be classed pretty clearly as luxuries. Along these lines, I recall eight years back when my wife and I made very little and were (unexpectedly) expecting our second child (due less than a year and a half after the birth of our first) having a conversation with an avowedly evangelical coworker at the company I worked at. She had had her first child around the same time we had our first, and she was explaining that she wasn’t sure she and her husband would have any more because, “We both grew up very poor, with lots of siblings, so we had to wear second hand clothes and couldn’t get basic things like skiing lessons.” Needless to say, my sympathy was not overwhelming. I’d never mock anyone for wanting the best for their children, but the number one element of wanting the best for any person is wanting that person to have a chance at life in the first place. As I’m sure you’d agree.

    Also, a random thought on the 40s through the 60s as an exceptionally prosperous era: It’s worth remember that what many latter day Leave-it-to-Beaver-Progressives are looking back on through rose colored glasses in regards to the 40s and 50s is that it was a period during which the fortunes of the middle and working classes were improving rapidly, while the rich were not getting richer much faster. However, in absolute terms, the middle class and the working class are still better off now than they were then, even though growth has slowed (in some cases to a near standstill) since then. This may result in some people having less hope now than then, but it doesn’t mean that people now are not in fact better off than their grandparents were. That may be the case in individual cases, but on the whole we are a good deal more prosperous than our grandparents.


    Oh wow. You’re my younger brother’s age… 🙂

  • While we’re on it, here was MZ’s comment:

    “Not wanting to watch one’s children suffer through poverty is the most natural desire in the world.”

    If my child was virtuous, I would not mourn his poverty. A life of suffering can be just as conducive to spiritual goods as a life of affluence, and perhaps moreso.

    Again, on the understanding that “poverty” doesn’t mean destitution/starvation.

  • Here’s something for your quotable Hargrave:

    There is nothing of greater value to a man than virtue, and nothing of greater value to society than a virtuous man.

    You can put that on my tombstone.

  • I have a lot more to say about this too. I think this whole mentality of “my kids will have it good, and they won’t have to struggle or suffer the way I did” was THE greatest mistake of the “greatest generation.” They failed to realize that their suffering and their struggling is what made them strong. They failed to realize that by trying to create a mini-utopia in the home for their children, they ended up corrupting their virtues. Half of the blame for the sexual revolution lies with this fatal mistake.

  • Joe,

    I agree that’s the more important thing. I think the trick is:

    a) Parents often fear they have limited control over how virtuous their children will be in the long run, though they do their damnedest to teach them how to live rightly.

    b) Parents often have (or imagine or hope they have) a fair amount of control over how much material comfort their children are raised in, and thus feel they can assure the one if not the other.

    On the other hand, I think it’s equally important to keep in mind that in these sorts of discussions “I wouldn’t want my born children to be pushed into poverty by my trying to raise more” is the more socially acceptable rationalization for the worry “Will having more children mess up my lifestyle.” After all, parents are often more sensitive to poverty than children are. However much people may convince themselves they’re acting selflessly, such concerns can be cover for selfishness.

    And needless to say, all of that is something to worry about before conceiving, not afterwards.

  • Growing up, my family had the loosest grip on being middle class, and in the eyes of many people I guess we would have been considered poor. We didn’t have a car until I was in the Seventh Grade, we only went on two vacations that I can recall, and home was tinier than my office today. Yet, at the time it never struck me that I lacked anything. Mom and Dad always both worked, the bills got paid and there was food on the table. They also made it clear to my brother and to me that if we wanted to go to college, that would be accomplished somehow, as indeed it was. Of course the key to all of this was that my mother and father loved each other deeply and loved us and we knew that we could rely upon each other in the family my parents created. The greatest lesson in love I have ever received in this life is the way my father tenderly cared for my mother as she died of cancer at 48. Material poverty is a terrible thing, but much worse is the poverty of love as typified by abortion.

  • DarwinCatholic, that makes Douthat all the more important. While East Coast Mushy Cons are usually right there with their Real American Crunchy brethren on economic issues, they’re generally indistinguishable from moderate independents on social issues. Not only does Douthat write for Democrats, he also writes for socially liberal Republicans. In fact, that may be his more important role.

  • “I think this whole mentality of “my kids will have it good, and they won’t have to struggle or suffer the way I did” was THE greatest mistake of the “greatest generation.” They failed to realize that their suffering and their struggling is what made them strong.”

    Which brings me to something I meant to post on the “Does It Get Any Worse?” thread, but somehow couldn’t find at that time….

    Here is a beautiful Coca-Cola ad, made a couple of years ago, in which Spain’s oldest citizen (102) is introduced to its newest (a newborn baby, of course):

    I love what the old man says in it, addressing the newborn:

    “You will ask yourself what is the reason I have come to visit you today. It’s because most people will say to you what a bad moment you have chosen to come into the world. We’re in crisis, that’s not a good thing. Well, it’ll make you stronger. I’ve lived worse moments than this one (given his age, that would include the Great Depression, both world wars and the Spanish Civil War as well), but in the end, you’ll remember only good things.”

    Yet another reason to prefer Coke over Pepsi too 🙂

  • Also, it’s one thing for people who fled, say, Ireland during the Great Famine, or Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or Haiti or North Korea to insist upon making sure their children enjoy a better life than they did. It’s another thing entirely for reasonably comfortable, free, well-fed, middle class Americans to insist that their children will have it “better” even if that means they would rather not have those children at all than fail to reach that goal.

  • There is something at a base level that I find offensive about people discussing the need for austerity from others and even how it is benefiting those people. There is a reason the white fertility rate is in the toilet, and the one reason I’m confident for why it isn’t the case is because they became idiots. The coming elite or whatever you want to call them is putting off marriage until past thirty and struggling to produce children naturally. The MTV special dealt with an unmarried black teenage couple who didn’t own a home. We aren’t talking about the difference between a mere middle class existence and the bourgeoisie life.

  • Oh, you find it offensive. Ok. ::rolls eyes:: Well, I hope it isn’t as offensive to you as the idea that you should kill one child for the sake of the other.

    “We aren’t talking about the difference between a mere middle class existence and the bourgeoisie life.”

    And I didn’t say that we were. It’s the difference between a working class life and a middle class life, the life of renters and wage workers on the one hand and homeowners and salary workers on the other. I get it.

    And its no surprise that poor black youths who have had the state manage increasing areas of their lives for the last 50 years, who have been the number one target of Planned Parenthood propaganda, who are aborted at disgustingly disproportionate rates compared to their share of the population, and whose “community leaders” are Democratic con men such as the “Reverend” Jackson and Al Sharpton, are more likely to go through with an abortion. What white liberals and their middle class black accomplices have done to poor blacks is a crime against humanity. And if we consider the unborn child to be a real human being, it rivals the injustice of slavery.

  • So Douthat writes a superb and strongly pro-life column in the NYTimes (!!) and people over here are jumping on him for recognizing that poverty is sadly a consideration that leads many to seek abortion?! What site is this anyway?

  • Jumping on him?

    I expressed a point of disagreement, that’s all. I’m sorry you find it illegitimate to discuss. I happen to think that the notion that poverty justifies abortion is one of the most morally and socially destructive notions of our time, and I thought it warranted a few words in a public discussion.

  • Joe H.

    You cannot reason with liberals. St. Augustine felt the need to answer contemporary half-wits. I do not. He is a saint.

    There is no such a thing as being “a little pregnant.” You can’t be a little pro-abortion, either.

    Here is what nauseates me: the mental gyrations these heartless people employ to justify voting for 50,000,000 more abortions.

    PS: My eldest son is older than you. However, you are rapidly sneaking up on THIRTY. Carpe diem.

  • For in the end time proclaims the judgment of nature on the worth of all beings that appear in it, since it destroys them:

    And justly so: for all things, from the void
    called forth, deserve to be destroyed:
    ’twere better, then, were naught created.
    [Goethe, Faust]

  • Joe, if you think poverty is more conducive to living a spiritually rich life shouldn’t you be advocating for economic policies that will impoverish millions? Or do you not really mean what you said about poverty being more conducive to human flourishing than attaining a modicum of economic security?

    And no one–certainly not Douthat–is claiming that poverty “justifies” abortion. Explaining a phenomenon is a different activity than justifying it–as Ron Paul tried, and failed, to communicate to Rudy Giuliani.

    And, trust me, I’m no liberal.

  • WJ,

    I agree that Douthat isn’t claiming that poverty justifies abortion — though given abortion as an option, he rightly recognizes that many people feel compelled (in this case, it sounds like rather unwillingly) to choose that option because of monetary concerns. I had been under the impression that whole line of argument had come up simply as a side-discussion.


    I guess I’m a little unclear what you’re getting at with:

    There is something at a base level that I find offensive about people discussing the need for austerity from others and even how it is benefiting those people. There is a reason the white fertility rate is in the toilet, and the one reason I’m confident for why it isn’t the case is because they became idiots.

    I don’t think that anyone was suggesting that if someone was suddenly confronted with a magic-wand-weilding person and asked, “Quick, quick! Would you rather that your family be well off or poor?” he should respond, “Oh, I’d definitely want them to be poor. It’ll be good for them!”

    Rather, people are responding to the idea that it is better for the sum one one’s children to abort one or more in order that the others live in comparatively better economic conditions than to carry all of one’s conceived children to term and raise that family to the best of one’s ability. One of the arguments that people are martially to this cause is that while being poor is indisputably less fun than being middle class or upper middle class — it is not necessarily something so bad that people are better off dead (or to accept the pro-choice world view: non-existant) than poor. And, indeed, that many people are raised well by struggling working-class parents and go on to live happy and productive lives themselves.

    In this context, I’m not clear what brings up your comment above, or what exactly you think is indicated by the fact that many white (and come to that, non-white) elites these days are choosing to have few children and do so late in life. Certainly, that’s a way to do things given certain objectives and cultural assumptions. But I don’t necessarily see why it means that anyone who advocates going ahead and raising children (especially after the child is already conceived, rather than being the fruit of some theoretical, future action) is necessarily being callus or hard hearted. Come to that, given that none of us talking here are the scions of wealthy Harvard-going elite clans, people talking about their own and family experiences in this regard doesn’t seem like a particularly offensive approach. My impression isn’t that we have a bunch of rich people who put off having their two trophy children until their late thirties talking here.

  • Hi Darwin,

    I was not responding to your unsurprisingly reasonable comments on this thread–with which I largely agree–but to some of the other statements which, you rightly note, are orthogonal to the main point of the post.

    I would, though, be interested in hearing from Joe Hargrave whether he really does think that economic policies should be sought out which have a good chance of landing people in poverty, so as to better their chances of living truly spiritual lives.

  • As probably the most outspoken Douthat critic around these parts (although I’m not suggesting that Darwin had me in mind when he wrote this post), allow me to say that this is an excellent column by Douthat, as have been many of his more recent op/eds. Also, please allow me to clarify exactly what my criticism of Douthat has been and what it has not been.

    I do not criticize him over policy or at all consider him to be a “fake conservative”. In fact, I have stated on numerous occasions that, policy-wise, Douthat seems to be the conservative columnist who is closer to my own philosophy. For example, I am not nearly as hostile to the policy prescriptions of Grand New Party as others might be, although I’m fiscally conservative enough to have some trepidations about the vision Douthat lays out. Furthermore, as Darwin has mentioned, Douthat has been stalwart in taking the social conservative/pro-life/pro-family message to a hostile audience.

    Nor do I criticize Douthat over his tone. The fire-breathing conservative columnists out there really do nothing for me and leave me rather cold. I think the tone that Douthat takes in delivering the social conservative message is not only a vital counterbalance to the fire-breathers, but is actually going to be the tone that advances the ball further down the field, especially since he is NOT preaching to the choir but delivering the message to hearts and minds that need to be changed if the agenda is ever going to succeed. I wish more Catholic bloggers (including myself) were better at adopting the sort of tone Douthat uses in discussing these issues that so divide our country.

    No, my criticism of Douthat has been more over the “persona” (to use Darwin’s word) that he has (or, rather, had) adopted, especially during the 2008 election. What has been offputting to me about Douthat and other conservative columnists like Brooks, Frum, Parker, etc. is the “I’m not like those OTHER conservatives” mantle they have assumed, where they make a living and receive Pulitzer Prizes off of doing nothing more than bashing other conservatives. Now, often conservatives NEED to be bashed by their own (see, e.g., WFB vs. the Birchers), but I find those who make a living and building a reputation off of doing it more than a little offputting.

    Now, in Douthat’s defense, he seems to have backed off of that quite a bit recently, and seems to have more fully embraced his social conservatism in his columns of late. I just don’t feel the “not like them” hostility toward his fellow conservatives that once seemed so prevalent (and which he so openly embraced in that column I’m so fond of quoting) in his recent writing.

    Along those lines, I won’t address RR’s having a higher “comfort level” with those socially liberal people in elite circles over those who are in “Real America” (since the last time I did so it led to one of the uglier confrontations on this blog between Blackadder and myself, which I do not wish to repeat) other than to say that I wonder how much of that discomfort with so-called “Real Americans” is based on media stereotypes rather than having spent more than a superficial amount of time with the common folks that make up the vast areas of this country between the coasts. I have spent a fair amount of time in both worlds, and feel at home in either, and find that the views of each group about the other to be fairly stereotypical and not based on their having actually met and spent time with those in the alternate cultural milieu.

  • WJ,

    One does not have to desire poverty be imposed on anyone to recognize the fact that prosperity often leads to a more disordered view of material goods, often times to the detriment of the soul. To reject the reasoning of some that a life is not worth living if not in prosperity and to counter it by noting that poverty usually entails less risks to soul than wealth seems like a reasonable rebuttal.

    None of this addresses how people view “poverty” in this incredibly wealthy country. Some will characterize it along the lines of no food and shelter and others will argue having no satellite dish or a six year old car. I think this goes to Joe’s point as well. That some people consider not having two new cars, a 2000 sq ft home, and one or two vacations get-aways a year to be poverty is an indication of the risk to souls that material wealth can bring.

  • Douthat spoke at an event sponsored by the magazine “n + 1” in 2009 in which he said he wouldn’t talk about the issue of same-sex marriage publicly, for whatever reason.

    Michael Dougherty speculates as to why: “The reason Ross Douthat won’t share his views on gay marriage in detail is simple. He knows gay marriage opponents will be portrayed as the Bull Connors of the near-future. And he wants to keep writing film criticism and noodling theology for educated readers.”

  • WJ,

    “Joe, if you think poverty is more conducive to living a spiritually rich life shouldn’t you be advocating for economic policies that will impoverish millions?”

    No. I believe in economic and spiritual freedom. Poverty doesn’t necessarily make one more spiritual, and riches don’t necessarily make one morally corrupt.

    But if one can willingly embrace their suffering, whether it results from poverty or from some other condition, then one is certainly spiritually better-off than someone who feels as if life is not worth living because they lack some material comforts or they can’t go to college.

    Finally, If you DON’T think poverty is more conducive to living a spiritual life, do you advocate for the Church to abolish the vow of poverty for people entering religious life? For 2000 years they’ve been leading people down a path you and others appear to find harmful and undesirable. The Gospels are full of lessons that teach us that the lives and contributions of the poor are often more valuable from a spiritual perspective than those of the rich. Maybe you’ll reject those too.

    Poverty in the USA is not worth fighting over. Poverty in the USA is middle to upper-class wealth in Nigeria or Ethiopia. A working class American has access to more goods and services than the rich man admonished by Jesus in the Bible, who didn’t have the Internet or fast food or supermarkets.

    “Or do you not really mean what you said about poverty being more conducive to human flourishing than attaining a modicum of economic security?”

    You said “human flourishing”, not me. I don’t oppose anyone rising from poverty to the middle class through hard work and virtue, and if they practice charity and remember their humble origins. Virtue is possible at all levels of society.

    But just as St. Paul compared the married life to the religious life and said that while the former was acceptable, the latter is preferable, we can compare the middle class life with the life of poverty and make a similar assessment.

    It’s not a sin to have wealth, or even to enjoy luxuries. But it is better, in the order of things, to cultivate a healthy detachment from all material goods, to be ready to depart with them at a moment’s notice, and certainly to see immaterial goods such as virtue as more valuable than material comforts. Truly such a person has “flourished” to a far greater extent than someone who can’t imagine life without various luxuries that are now taken for granted.

    So no, poverty does not ipso facto lead to more spirituality, but viewed and accepted with the right perspective, it CAN.

    “And no one–certainly not Douthat–is claiming that poverty “justifies” abortion. Explaining a phenomenon is a different activity than justifying it–as Ron Paul tried, and failed, to communicate to Rudy Giuliani.”

    I never said he was claiming that. But there are many who do claim it – they jump from explanation to justification very easily. It’s like an automatic reflex for most people in our society, who are materialistic and who don’t think life is worth living without a very broad selection of material comforts that were unknown to most people throughout history. So, when this topic comes up, I feel compelled to state the opposite, Christian, and true perspective.

  • grandma and grandpa lived from the 1940s through the 1960s, a long period of prosperity in this country.

    There were six economic recessions between 1938 and 1970 (as many as there have been since), and these contractions tended to be more severe than those of the succeeding 40 years. The per capita income of the United States in 1955 was less than half of what it is today. Mean annual rates of improvement in per capita income were higher than has been the case for a generation or so, but at about 2.3% per annum, not spectacular.

  • Francis,

    I think Dougherty must have been wrong, because just in the last year Ross Douthat did indeed write about gay marriage (against it) in the NY Times and on his NY Times Blog.

  • Oh, Joe. I know you’re in good faith. I apologize for the tenor of my comments. Please have a good night!

  • Thanks, Darwin, for alerting me to that. Perhaps after being caught off guard in 2009 he prepared to mount some kind of defense of marriage. Good for him for being willing to take such a beating from the Times’ remarkably prejudiced audience.

Pope Benedict’s Christmas Address to the Roman Curia

Monday, January 3, AD 2011

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).

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2 Responses to Pope Benedict’s Christmas Address to the Roman Curia

Help For Out of Work Democrat Members of Congress

Monday, January 3, AD 2011

(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.

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2 Responses to Help For Out of Work Democrat Members of Congress

  • Man, is he funny. 😀

  • The hearsts of the hundreds of thousands of senior citizens trying to suvive on fixed S.S. incomes and meager or no pensions who have been denied cost of living increases while watching grocery and gas prices soar as well as other necessities like healthcare over the last two years REALLY GO OUT TO THESE JACKASSES whose retirement benefits are more than the salaries most people made while working. Partial justice is better than none.

Chesty Puller and Catholic Chaplains

Sunday, January 2, AD 2011


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.

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35 Responses to Chesty Puller and Catholic Chaplains

  • “On New Guinea one Protestant chaplain complained to Puller that the Catholic chaplains were making converts among the Protestants. Puller told the chaplain that he should work harder and not come whining to him.”

    Unfortunately, the situation seems to be reversed in civilian life today — Protestants (specifically, evangelicals) seem to be making numerous converts among Catholics while Catholics sit back and wring their hands about why so many are leaving the Church.

    However, based on what Puller says here, the solution does NOT lie in better marketing techniques or in “feel good” approaches to the faith… rather it lies in having clergy (and lay people) whom others can look up to, and who aren’t afraid to go “where the bullets are flying”

  • James Shannon, while a parish priest, recounts having been called to the scene of a midnight fire at a warehouse. There was a threat of a floor collapsing. The fire chief ordered his men out. He then turned to Father Sheehan: “You’re wanted inside”. And inside he went.

  • There are in fact many men who are leaders that point to Christ from the Catholic parish and parishes across the street. And, there are those who stand out, like “Chesty” who are Catholic witnesses of uncompromising conviction. It is important to know our brothers (and sisters) who are leaders, saints and servants, and to teach about them to our children, and more importantly to reflect them in our respective lives to make them real.

  • MEMO FROM: God Almighty
    TO: Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines
    RE: Which Service is Best

    I’ve been watching and here’s what I think. All branches of the United States Armed Forces are truly honorable, courageous, well-trained and capable.

    Therefore, there is no superior service.

    God Almighty, USMC (Ret.)

    Best PR dept. in the world . . . the Church ought to hire them.

  • T. Shaw, I’m sending you the bill if I have to buy a new keyboard. I was drinking coke when I read “God Almighty, USMC (Ret.)”. 🙂

  • Sorry, Mac! I read that in a Christmas gift book. It hit me that way, too.

    Catholic Chaplains go at “it” with zeal for the salvation of souls. Not sure what motivates protestant padres.

    PS: I’m boycotting Pepsi products, too. That’d be about $1.50 less in annual sales.

    PPS: I bet dollars to donuts Michelle didn’t give Barrack “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Salutes the Armed Forces” as a kwanzaa gift. He might learn something.

  • I have always adored Puller. He reminds me of myself, only 1,000 times better. . .

  • Harper, how many Marines have thought that! 🙂

  • I am a Navy reservist and you see it all the time, the Catholic Chaplains are the chaplains that the other chaplains look up to.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Chesty Puller and Catholic Chaplains | The American Catholic --
  • This is still true today. When I was in Afghanistan, my battalion was blessed to have a Catholic chaplain who had himself been a Marine infantryman before joining the priesthood. He went everywhere with us, including fire fights, and everyone loved him.

  • God love him Michel! Such priests are a true sign of Christ’s love in the most dangerous of circumstances.

  • Donald McClarey,

    We would like to republish, to the Catholic Education Resource Center web site, the article “Chesty Puller and Catholic Chaplains”.

    Kindly allow me to explain who we are and how this article would be used by us.

    The Catholic Education Resource Center provides an Internet library of journal articles, essays, book excerpts, and other texts. These have been chosen for their objective, concise, and clear presentation of Catholic teachings, culture, and history, particularly in those areas in which the Church’s role is unknown or misunderstood. Materials have been selected which are scholarly yet accessible and have all been copyright cleared for classroom, parish, or individual use.

    Approximately 160,000 unique visitors drop by our web site every month. Over 220,000 articles a month are accessed on our site.

    We are a non-profit educational organization providing perspective for students, teachers, clergy, ordinary Catholics and enquiring non-Catholics on a broad range of educational and other matters.

    In addition to our web site library, we provide a free email newsletter, the CERC Weekly Update, which lists new articles posted to the site along with abstracts and hot links, as well as links to editorials of interest on matters bearing on Catholic faith and culture from around the world.

    See our most recent online version:

    If permission is granted we will provide a full reference and link to the American Catholic website as well as a short bio on you and links to your books.

    For example, see the article below.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    J. Fraser Field

    J. Fraser Field
    Managing Editor
    Catholic Education Resource Center
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    phone: (604) 485-0561

    veritatem quaerendo


  • Be my guest J. Fraser Field. You have my permission.

  • “Sorry, Mac! I read that in a Christmas gift book. It hit me that way, too.”

    Your comment has been noted with approval at First Things.

  • Thanks for this wonderful post. I first heard about Chesty Puller from the HBO series “The Pacific”, and am now reading the companion book to that series. So many valiant men served in WWII — never get tired of reading their stories. Also, loved the comment about “God Almighty (USMC, Ret’d.)” God bless the Marines!

  • Thank you Pat. Robert Leckie, who was one of the Marines featured in The Pacific, became a military historian. I have read almost all of his books. His Strong Men Armed is still I think the best one volume history of the Marines in the Pacific during World War II:

  • How interesting! I had always heard that the presence of Catholic chaplains on the front line also led to the conversion of numerous British nobles during World War I. In fact, it was thought that the discipline of celibacy enabled the Church to send her priests into the worst of it, precisely because they would not be encumbered by families.

  • That is true. Robert Graves, in his memoir, Goodbye to All That, of his service in the Royal Army in World War I, although he was an agnostic, attested to the fact that the bravest men he ever encountered in combat on the Western Front were the Catholic chaplains of the British Army. This is striking since in his memoir he also made it clear that he had absolutely no use for organized religion.

  • Donald,

    Great article. A few niggles though from a retired Marine. First, Puller’s decorations need to be capitalized: Navy Cross, Silver Star, etc. The Navy Cross is our nation’s second highest award for gallantry and the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Service Cross is the same award (which Chesty also won).

    Secondly the quote ” “Retreat! Hell, we’re just attacking in a different direction” does not belong to Puller but to his Commanding General at the time, Major General Oliver P. Smith. During the Chosin Reservoir campaign, O.P. Smith led the 1st Marine Division, supported by the 1st Marine Air Wing, from Chosin to Hungnam destroying 12 Chinese divisions in the process.

    Semper Fidelis,


  • Thank you for the corrections Frank. In regard to the Retreat, Hell comment I have seen it attributed to both men. The relatively, for a Marine, soft-spoken Smith, a truly great commander, was nick-named “the Professor”, and normally did not use profanity. During the Chosin campaign he responded to a question from a reporter asking whether this was the first time that Marines had ever retreated by noting that the Chinese were behind the Marines and that the Marines were attacking them. I assume it is possible that the more bluntly spoken Puller shortened the statement and added the Hell reference. Puller did say the following to a reporter: “Remember when you write, this was no retreat. All that happened was we found more Chinese behind us than in front of us. So we about-faced and attacked.”

    Before his men reached the aptly named “Hellfire Valley” during the Chosin campaign, Puller, the original unPc character, stood on a ration box and told his men: “I don’t give a good goddamn how many Chinese laundrymen there are between us and Hungnam. There aren’t enough in the world to stop a Marine regiment going where it wants to go! Christ in His mercy will see us through.”

  • Donald, you’re welcome. As the article is being seen by a wide audience, I think it’s important that General O.P. Smith’s quote be attributed correctly. The Wikipedia citation saying this quote belongs to Puller is simply wrong. A simple Google search of “Retreat Hell. We’re just attacking in a different direction.” will verify with ample evidence the true origin of these words.

    Marines are sticklers for their history, and rightly so. That’s why Leatherneck Magazine, published by the Marine Corps Association in Quantico VA, and the official magazine of the Marine Corps, gets the quote attributed correctly.

    “Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They’re aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They’ve got really short hair and they
    always…Go for the throat.”
    -RAdm. Stark, US Navy; 10 November 1995

    Semper Fidelis,

  • Thanks for the follow-up Frank. From the article you link to:

    “The hero’s hero of the campaign has to be Major General Oliver P. Smith, commander of the First Division. He advanced cautiously, probing the strength of the new enemy, establishing rearguard strongholds of supply and defense, all despite the Army command’s exhortations to race blindly into the unknown. And, of course, he led us out under the banner of his immortal battle cry, “Retreat, Hell! We’re just attacking in a different direction!” Eyewitnesses confirm he said exactly that, but some Stateside skeptics, never close to the battleground, let alone the general, claim he would never utter such language.”

  • Donald, absolutely his reply was subjected to a reporters spin. This is how Eric Hammel describes the circumstances in his book Chosin:Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War,

    Later in the day, while explaining the breakout plan to several news reporters, Smith agreed to field some questions.

    “General,” one of the newsmen soon ventured, “all this adds up to a retreat.”

    O.P. gave that a moment’s thought, for it was a fair surmise. The general, a man entirely bereft of any sense of personal aggrandizement, was about to utter what would become a legendary response, but he had no sense of that either. Ever the patient teacher, Smith said gently to the reporter,

    “No, not a retreat. It will be an attack in another direction.”

    Within twenty-four hours, newspapers throughout the United States were emblazoned with this headline: “Retreat Hell! We’re attacking in another direction.”

    And now you know the rest of the story, and a little more about one of my favorite Marines. Smith, a product of U.C. Berkeley and the first Marine officer to also graduate from the French Ecole Supérieure de Guerre.

    Thanks again,


  • Fantastic and inspiring tribute to a great man. May we also have permission to post this on our website, crediting you with link, at I really enjoy your articles, especially those about heroic chaplains.

  • Thank you Frank. Learning more about history is one of the enjoyable aspects of blogging for me.

  • Although not a Chaplin but a Navy Medic, my son-in-law served with “his” Marines in Afghanistan. Time and again they have told us how brave and selfless his actions were…along with the fact that he carried the same equipment they did as well as all his medical supplies. Can you tell we are proud of his “leadership”? “Doc” went with them into each patrol and firefight, and earned the respect of his entire group.

    My family learned of Chesty Puller several years ago and have read all we can about this amazing fighting man. He deserves a “Good Night” if anyone does!

  • “Fantastic and inspiring tribute to a great man. May we also have permission to post this on our website, crediting you with link, at I really enjoy your articles, especially those about heroic chaplains.”

    Be my guest Brian.

  • “Although not a Chaplin but a Navy Medic, my son-in-law served with “his” Marines in Afghanistan. Time and again they have told us how brave and selfless his actions were…along with the fact that he carried the same equipment they did as well as all his medical supplies. Can you tell we are proud of his “leadership”? “Doc” went with them into each patrol and firefight, and earned the respect of his entire group.”

    I salute “Doc”. Two of my close friends were Navy Medics who served with the Marines: one in World War II on Guadalcanal and Okinawa, and the other in I Corp in Vietnam.

  • I once worked for a retired Marine officer, Mike, who had landed at Inchon in Chesty’s landing boat. I asked him whether the stories about Chesty were true. He said that the most amazing stories haven’t been told because no one would possibly believe them. He said that at Inchon, the Marines were all taking shelter from enemy fire behind the high seawall, the top of which was being continually swept with enemy rifle and machine-gun fire and mortar rounds. No one was exactly jumping to climb up the ladders to get to the top! Mike said they looked up and there was Chesty, atop the wall, strolling “like it was a June day along the Boardwalk.” Enemy fire was striking all around him, but all Chesty did was direct the troops how to get up top and move forward.

  • As a Marine veteran of Vietnam, the only real regret I have about that time in Vietnam is that I wasn’t a Catholic then. I became one about twenty years later and one of the things that moved me was, you guessed it, the character that the Catholic chaplains showed us Marines in Vietnam. I didn’t see it covered in any post above, but one of the three Catholic chaplains who won the Medal of Honor, Fr. Robert Capadanno, a Navy chaplain, was killed giving Last Rites and aid and comfort to wounded Marines and their Navy Corpsmen while under fire, has, I understand, had his cause for Sainthood opened by the Vatican. He is now referred to as Servant of God. When I see the fawning nonsense lavished on the “catholic” John Kerry for his “service” in Vietnam by “Kennedy catholics,” I remember Fr. Capadanno, and thank him yet again for showing us real service, real heroism and real Faith. I try to make his Priestly example known to every Catholic I know, especially my sons, but Protestants as well. I am sure that 50 years from now, John Kerry will be a obscure, pathetic footnote in history, but everyone will know of St. Robert Vincent Capadanno. And, oh yeah, good night, Chesty Puller, wherever you are.

  • Thank you for your service to our country Denton. My personal mission is to blog about as many Catholic Chaplains as I can. Servant of God Capadanno, the Grunt Padre, will be one of them, when I think I am ready to do justice to his inspiring life.

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21 Coptic Christians Dead and What To Do About It

Saturday, January 1, AD 2011

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.

Continue reading...

29 Responses to 21 Coptic Christians Dead and What To Do About It

  • The best favor any Christian who lives in the West can do for any Christian who lives in an Islamic state is to get them a one way plane ticket to the West. The Copts of Egypt have faced this type of casual murder since the time of the Islamic conquest of Egypt in the Seventh Century. Some periods have been better than others, but, at best, the Copts exist as a barely tolerated and despised minority. Their fate is basically the fate of all Christians who live under the Crescent of Islam.

  • Tito, we should also send a lot of missionaries to the Middle East too. They’ll probably have to work underground for years, but we have to start evangelizing the Muslim world to save their souls and our Christian culture.

  • Obama condemned… no one essentially, only the act itself.

    Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do as Christians?

  • Stephen,
    Would you go into such a missionary life? When Isaac Jogues went into Indian territory, there was no TV, nor radios nor pamphets dropped from planes as a possible alternative in preaching the Gospel.. Now there are alternatives to risking your own de-capitation. If Islam was not impressed with Mother Teresa’s work into conversion….then Islam may be the swine Christ forbade us to cast pearls before.
    Let revisit what Christ said while imagining the beheadings that can take place:

    Mat 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you.

    Christ seems to be warning us away from your missionary project. The blasphemy law of Pakistan has 60% public support. That’s a lot of non moderate Muslims we are spending billions on as we purchase their clothing in Macy’s. The other Pakistanis can easily access the gospel and dogma online….no need for
    Isaac Jocques to get his fingers chewed off again. If Mother Teresa could not do it, there will only be individual conversions and those can happen by the word…
    Paul…” Faith comes by hearing”. Good Muslims…anonymous Christians…can find the word online.

  • The Faith is built on the blood of martyrs.
    I have heard reports that there are literaly millions of Muslims each year converting to Christianity, and the witness of these people is probably the reason.
    I am not suggesting that this is a desireable thing, but we have to keep in mind the bigger picture, and prayer, and the entreaties of Our Lady to our God – the one whom the Muslims acknowledge as the virgin mother of Jesus, and the one who, as Fulton Sheen told us, will lead the Muslims to conversion.
    Did the English, in the 16th. and 17th centuries give up? No – and the fruits may only be being realised now after the visit by Benedict, and the issuing of Anglicanorum Coetibus.
    These evnts are certainly trajic to witness, and I do not claim to want to be in their place – but we cannot throw the toys out of the cot and give up.
    Prayer and fasting and being obedient in our own lives will be a start, and convincing/demanding our state leaders to speak out is paramount.

  • Don
    In 2006, Georgio Paolucci, the Italian editor of magazine, Avennire (Catholic) and a Libyan journalist, Camille Eid, wrote a book on Islamic converts to Christianity (Christian from Islam) published by Piemme and they were interviewed by Zenit. They spoke of “several hundred converts, from the countries of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.”
    Be sure to compare actual real world publishing…as in paper books…. on such topics when you read internet claims of millions by small zealous groups on you tube or the net. The latter groups just might never get published by a real publisher…because they would have to produce data and they probably cannot.

  • When I heard of this attack, something changed inside me – yes, pray for our enemies; yes, mortify any desire for revenge; yes, do our Christian duty…but doesn’t our Christian duty call us to succor the innocent who are suffering? Is it not time that we struck at Islam and let them know that we won’t allow their heresy to be used a justification for murdering our brothers and sisters?

    I don’t know what to do – but I do know that Christian men should not stand aside while women and children are butchered.

  • FYI: Osma bin Laden declared war on us in 1996. He killed hundreds of Africans at US embassies; in 2000 he killed our sailors on the Coles; on 9/11/2001 he killed 3,000 of us; . . .

    Muhammadan mass murder: not a question of if, when. Not who, but which one will do it; which will supply the weapons, food, funds, shelter, transport; which one will reconnoiter; which one will assist the scape and evasion; etc.

    Like Bush before him, Obama is not intent on winning the war. Unlike Dubya, B. Hussein actually hates America and our way of life.

    And, there are way too many Obama-worshipping morons. We’re ruined.

  • Bill,

    We should continue to evangelize that is certain.

    Don (McClarey),

    If worse comes to worse, it might be best to evacuate all Christians (if at all possible) and then cut all aid. Then when there is no good left in those Muslim majority countries, we’ll just watch what happens when there is a vacuum, evil will devour evil.

    Don the Kiwi,

    I truly believe that the blood of the martyrs will cause the rise of Christianity, but unlike everywhere else, Christians have been killed in the name of Mohammad for well over 13 centuries and not once have I see a Muslim country turn Christian.

    Is it because it will be on God’s time?

    If so, this surely breaks precedent because there will soon be no Christians left to be killed.

    Maybe the rise of Islam is the chastisement to the Orthodox for breaking from Rome (I certainly believe in this theory to a certain degree).

  • Tito,
    Run that chastisement theory past your favorite priest. Christ (Mt. 5:45) said God makes His rain to fall on the just and unjust. Chastisement happens but even the Church is silent on such matters. We are not Isaiah or Jeremiah. It was Divinely disclosed to them; they did not conjecture it or reason to it as to Israel and the exile….and it was due to something very akin to abortion within Baal worship.
    But run it past your favorite priest. The schism wasn’t yesterday. Punishment that is untimely teaches no one anything.

  • Mark Noonan,
    Yes, this is a difficult problem. But I, for one, think that we’ve been patient too long. To quote St. John Chrysostom–“That person who does not become irate when he has just cause to be, sins. For an unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices; it fosters negligence, and stimulates not only the wicked, but above all the good, to do wrong.”

    Indeed, I’ve been considering enlisting in the armed forces myself. It’s just too much to stand by and watch this sort of thing happening.

  • Tito.
    Christians have been killed in the name of Mohamed for well over 13 centuries and not once have I seen a muslim country turn Christian.

    All Muslim countries were once Christian. What about the Reconquista of Spain? – Muslim occupation started in the 8th century and it took till the 13th century to finally recover Spain for Christianity. Things are happening – Albania, and Egypt to a lesser extent. I saw on the news this evening the Coptic Chritsians of Alexandria mounting a very large protest at their govt. for not protecting Christians – not only Orthodox but Coptic Catholics as well.
    And I can’t agree with your thought that this is a chastisement on the Orthodox – Ours is a God of compassion, and these people have been persecuted on and off for centuries – I don’t think our God is directing it, all Christians are suffering in these regions.

  • There might be another side to the story. Of course, one could say it is damage control, but this side of the story, sometimes, turns out true (USS Liberty, never forget).

    Seems some are saying it was a set up by Mossad:

    A coalition of Egyptian lawyers accused Israel of being behind an terror attack in Alexandria that killed 22 members of the Christian Copt sect attending midnight mass on New Year’s eve, Army Radio reported Monday.

    “The Mossad carried out the the operation in a natural reaction to the latest uncovering of an Israeli espionage network,” the lawyers accused at a rally in memory of the victims, organized by the Egyptian Bar Association, according to the report.

    Now, of course, some will say “never.” But I know Mossad, and I can see this being done for such a purpose. I am not saying it was, but it is easy to forget that Israel is often causing trouble, and persecutes Christians too.

  • Henry,

    Sorry, I don’t buy that at all. What would Israel possibly have to gain by doing this? Sounds like the usual reflexive blame game practiced in most Middle Eastern nations.

    I am aware of the USS Liberty incident; that occurred during the Six-Day War and was most probably an attempt to prevent the ship from interfering in Israel’s war operations or gathering intelligence. I also am aware of Mossad’s “you don’t ever want to mess with them” reputation. But, how on earth are Copts attending a midnight Mass any threat to Israel’s security?

  • Well, considering that some Egyptians have blamed the Mossad for shark attacks,,

    I can understand why they also seek to blame the Israelis for this latest example of the 1300 year old game in Egypt of kill the Copts. Why anyone outside of a looney bin would take such an accusation seriously is another question.

  • Elaine

    What does Israel have to gain? Many things. The argument by the lawyers is revenge. But we must remember, Israel has a history of attacking even its allies, and trying to make it look like others were to blame. Israel likes to make more storms so as to garnish sympathy and support, all the while doing things to punish those they feel are going against their wishes.

    Do I accept it? I don’t know, I would have to be shown the evidence. But I do know that it happens.

    Oh, and Donald, so because some people think shark attacks happened because of Israel, Israel never does wrong? Talk about jumping the shark with a fallacious response!

    Remember the USS Liberty.

  • Don’t forget the Rand Corporation and the reverse vampires. Anybody could have been behind these attacks.

    But probably it was a whacked out Muslim.

  • Karslon, let me shorten your comment for you: “I blame the Joos!” I do appreciate however that you haven’t yet cited The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

  • I’m not sure how killing innocent Copts garners sympathy for Israel, even if blame is deferred to Muslims, but let’s say that is satisfactory motivation, and that because of the USS Liberty incident 40 years ago that they are capable of doing such a nasty thing. It seems, based on recent history that Muslim groups and individuals have been responsible for the vast majority of these attacks, especially in Muslim countries. We also know that certain Muslim groups call for the killing of Christians and Jews and that they act on it. We also know from experience there are Muslims who may or may not agree with such means but nevertheless blame Israel. They also tend to blame Israel for every unfortunate thing that befalls them or those they identify with.

    I do not believe it is reasonable to suspect to Israel in any way given the information we have. One would be no further from the truth to blame Dick Cheney or the Dali Lama at this point.

  • The only possible thing Israel would have to gain from such an alleged act might be further antagonism of the West directed at Muslims leading to some sort of mid-east crackdown directed against its Arab neighbors. But this type of act will be excused/explained away by those who sympathize with Muslims, and those who don’t do not need further provocation. I find it really hard to believe it was a Mossad act, when Muslims do this rather frequently, and this is most likely just what it appears to be – another typical Muslim on Christian attack.

  • President Mubarak’s cold peace is the best that the Israelis can expect from the Egyptians. Why would they undermine his postion and turn the strongest Arab nation against themselves? Without the Egyptians to threathen Israel from across the Sinai; Syria, Hizballah and Hamas mean little to the Israelis in military terms.

  • When Christ commanded us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us, he not only meant it, but then showed us what such love looks like: the cross. Two solutions were offered in this thread: missionary work and warfare. Only one looks like a cross.

    I take solace in the fact that Islam is doomed by its own fundamental error. Like secular humanism, like the idols of Rome, Greece, and every ancient kingdom (still waiting on the Hindus), the god of Islam will inevitably fall and be forgotten.

    The greater danger to the Church is not Islamic violence, but Islamic lies. To the extent that we response as Muslims would respond (death-dealing), we give in to their lies. To the extent that we respond as the Church and the Gospel and Jesus Christ teach us (“love of enemy constitutes the nucleus of the Christian revolution”), we shatter their lies.

  • 1. Muslim terrorists commit atrocity against their Christian neighbors–check.

    2. Fellow Muslims reflexively engage in conspiracy-theorizing and deflection tactics to avoid facing the atrocity and what it says about Muslim civil society–check.

    3. Select Westerners reinforce and nurture infantilization of deflecting Muslims–check.

    Must be a Monday.

  • Christ….the actual one…said this….Mat 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you.”

    Catholics whether liberal or conservative do not quote the whole Christ. The Christ who said the above is warning you that He has rules about which crosses you choose. Cross is not an intrinsic good.
    Christ casts pearls before swine only…only….. when it was their day…” Jerusalem, Jerusalem…if thou hadst known IN THIS THY DAY the things that are for thy peace…”
    Every country now has a government unlike when Isaac Jogues was a missionary. If a Muslim government protects Christians, missionaries should go because Christ’s words about not casting pearls and being torn by swine is honored in virtue of Muslim police protecting missionaries. But if Muslim police in another country are not going to protect missionaries, then missionaries are not honoring Christ if they seek a cross that Christ warned against in Matthew. So no one here is going into danger anyway…..but to urge others into danger is to ignore the swine warning of Christ and is simply to ignore the real Christ who does not will each and every imaginable cross. He forbids a particular cross in the swine/tear passage.
    He actually wants safety not adventurism for his missionaries.

  • I am delighted to report that deflection and paranoia is not the only Muslim response to the massacre and overall increasing brutalization of the Copts:

  • Saudi Arabia has just arrested a vulture for being a Jewish spy.

    This is all beginning to make sense.

    Many of my SSPV and independent Catholic chapel friends have flow charts detailing how the Free Masons, in coalition with the Illuminati, have been orchestrating attacks such as those on the Copts for years.

    It seems, through a combination of George Soros, the Rothschilds, and various other insidious Jewish families, have been funding Al-Qaeda, which is actually a puppet organization of the Free Mason-Illuminati.

    This plus orchestrating Hurricane Katrina and the dead-birds-falling-and-dead-fish-washing-on-shore phenomenom’s, I caught a clue when Kirk Cameron was claiming that the end wasn’t near, just the that the Rapture was imminent.

  • “Remember the USS Liberty”

    I say it was the Spanish. Remember the Maine!

  • I’ve never understood the conspiratorial perspective about the USS Liberty incident. Israel is in the middle of an all out war for its survival with several surrounding states decides to launch an unprovoked attack on an ally nation which is also one of the most powerful countries in the world. I thought the stereotype was that Jews are supposed to be really smart.