General Wainwright’s Thanksgiving Prayer

After General Douglas MacArthur, over his fiery objections, was ordered to leave Bataan during the Japanese conquest of the Philippines, Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright was left in command, putting up a heroic fight until forced to surrender his starving, diseased ridden force.  Wainwright was the only American general to be captured by the Japanese and he endured the hell on earth that was Japanese prison camps, where some 37% of Allied prisoners died of starvation and the brutality of their captors.  Wainwright insisted on sharing the privation of his men, and risked his life many times to intervene on behalf of his fellow prisoners with their captors.

After he was liberated, he was a walking skeleton.  Douglas MacArthur gave him the signal honor  of featuring prominently in the surrender ceremony by which Imperial Japan capitulated.

After he returned home he was promoted to four star rank and retired to a successful business career.  He received the Medal of Honor as a tribute to the heroic leadership he displayed during the battle for Bataan.  In the fall of 1945 he wrote the following Thanksgiving Prayer: Continue reading

Ben Franklin and the Turkey

After the American Revolution, former American officers in that struggle created a fraternal organization called the Society of Cinncinatus, named after the Roman consul and dictator, a constitutional office of the Roman Republic in emergencies, who saved Rome through his efforts in the fifth century BC and then retired to his humble farm.  The Society selected as its symbol a bald eagle.  In a letter to his daughter Sally Bache on January 26, 1784, no doubt with his tongue placed firmly in his cheek, Dr. Franklin indicated that he thought another bird would have been a better choice.

Others object to the Bald Eagle, as looking too much like a Dindon, or Turkey. For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perch’d on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him. With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping and Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country, tho’ exactly fit for that Order of Knights which the French call Chevaliers d’Industrie. I am on this account not displeas’d that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For in Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America. Eagles have been found in all Countries, but the Turkey was peculiar to ours, the first of the Species seen in Europe being brought to France by the Jesuits from Canada, and serv’d up at the Wedding Table of Charles the ninth. He is besides, tho’ a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on. Continue reading

Red Skelton: Thanksgiving 1952

A Thanksgiving thought in 1952 from master comedian Red Skelton.  Born into deep poverty, his father dying two months before his birth, he went to work at the age of 7 to help his family.  Life dealt Skelton some tough cards at the beginning of his life, and the worst thing that could happen to any parent, the death of a child, lay in his future.  Yet throughout his life Skelton retained a deep faith in God and an abiding love for his country.  He approached life with optimism and a thankful heart, a good message for any Thanksgiving.  Below is his classic Pledge of Allegiance skit. Continue reading

Abbott and Costello, Charles Laughton and the Gettysburg Address


Last Thursday, the same day of the week that Lincoln originally gave the speech, marked the 152nd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.  On April 6, 1952, comedy titans Abbott and Costello were hosting the Colgate Comedy Hour.  They had as their guest star Charles Laughton, one of the greatest English actors of the first half of the last century.  Amazingly enough the comedy duo and Laughton were co-starring at the time in the forgettable Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd.

This was back in the days of live television, and the sheer spontaneity made this brief period of television magic.  As was the case when Laughton, who had given a stunning rendition of the Gettysburg Address in the movie Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), recites the Address before a visibly moved Abbott and Costello.  Both Abbott and Costello were patriots.  Too old, Abbott was 44 at the time of Pearl Harbor, and sick, heart problems and epilepsy afflicted Costello, for military service in World War II, they threw themselves into war bond drives and sold more bonds than any other entertainers.  In one heartbreaking incident they performed at a bond drive immediately after the death of Costello’s infant son, the shattered Costello giving the huge audience no hint of the tragedy that had just befallen him and his wife.   They had done their bit to ensure “that government of the people, by the people and for the people would not perish from the Earth” and for them the Address was no mere artifact from long ago but a magnificent expression of what this country means.  Continue reading

Notre Shame



Parents thinking of coughing up big money to get their offspring a Catholic higher education at Notre Dame might wish to save their money.  Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report tells us why:


Earlier this month, the great Sycamore Trust created a website called which would assist Notre Dame students in finding those professors and courses on campus that could be counted on to deliver an “authentic Catholic education.”

Great idea, right?

On top of that, they had the great Fr. Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C., making his very well informed recommendations to students on the website.

Great idea, right? In fact, so many students thought it was a great idea that the website reportedly crashed on the first day.

Well, it seems to me the university’s administration didn’t like the idea.

The Sycamore Trust sadly sent out an email yesterday saying that Fr. Miscamble “is no longer associated with the website”

“I regret that I can say only that I am required to end my involvement with the NDCatholic site and am not at liberty to say why,” Fr. Miscamble told The Sycamore Trust.

Now, to be clear, he doesn’t say the administration got to him but it would appear that’s what occurred. (I could be wrong but who else would be against such a website?)

The Sycamore Trust reports:

On November 9, 2015, we unveiled the website, which is designed to assist students seeking a Catholic education at Notre Dame. They need this sort of help because of the alarming reduction over recent decades in Catholic representation on the faculty. The faculty no longer comes close to meeting the University’s own Mission Statement test of Catholic identity: a majority of committed Catholics on the faculty. Perhaps 25% to 30% of the faculty fit this description, as we will show again in a coming bulletin using the most recent data available.

The consequences of this steep decline in Catholic faculty have been described in concrete terms by Professor Emeritus Walter Nicgorski, who retired recently after more than forty years as one of Notre Dame’s most highly regarded teachers and scholars:

It is increasingly the case today that a young person going through the critical and formative years of a Catholic education at Notre Dame might not encounter a practicing Catholic informed and engaged by the Catholic intellectual tradition.

The Trust will continue the work of the website and vows to build on their success.

So much for free speech on campus, right? Continue reading

December 7, 1865: Thanksgiving



Andrew Johnson kept up the precedent of his predecessor in making a Thanksgiving Proclamation.  However for some reason he set the date on December 7, the only time Thanksgiving has been celebrated on that date.  His other Thanksgiving Proclamations were for the last Thursday in November and the tradition held until the Great Depression when FDR altered it to the fourth Thursday in November.  If Johnson had established a new tradition in 1865, then seventy-six years later Americans would have had another reason to be enraged by the Japanese sneak attack.  Here is the text of the Proclamation: Continue reading

As God is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly


Well actually some Turkeys can.  Wild Turkeys can fly, albeit clumsily and not more than about 100 yards at a time.  Domestic Turkeys, bred for the table, cannot fly, largely due to their overdeveloped chests, home to all that prized white breast meat.  I don’t know if the publicity stunt would have fared much better with terrified flying wild Turkeys landing near onlookers.  Some things man simply was not meant to meddle with, and that includes dropping Turkeys from great heights.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Adolph Hitler



We are Socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions. In the future there must be no ranks or classes, and you must not let them begin to grow in you!

Adolph Hitler, May 1, 1927, Berlin May Day Speech

Free Speech for Me But Not For Thee


My favorite liberal, Nat Hentoff, takes aim at the campus brownshirts seeking to eradicate free speech:

Hostility to the exercise of free speech on American college campuses is nothing new. But what happened at Yale University, the University of Missouri and other colleges over the past two weeks is something new and frightening. The suppression of speech in academia has begun to spiral out of control.

Nicholas Christakis is a professor at Yale who lives with his wife in a student residence hall on campus. An internationally renowned physician and sociologist, Dr. Christakis was surrounded by dozens of angry students who showered him with curses and threats. Dr. Christakis’ offense? He refused to publicly apologize for his wife’s email that defended free speech and urged tolerance of offensive Halloween costumes.

Greg Lukianoff, the President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), was on the Yale campus to attend a free speech symposium and witnessed the incident. In the video Lukianoff posted on FIRE’s website, Christakis appears on the verge of being physically assaulted.

“Nicholas addressed the crowd for more than an hour, even after it became clear that nothing short of begging for forgiveness would satisfy them,” Lukianoff wrote in The Washington Post. “I’ve witnessed some intense campus disputes during my 14 years fighting for free speech, but nothing like this.”

The next evening — at a William F. Buckley, Jr. Program conference on free speech that had been planned months in advance — Greg Lukianoff’s speech was interrupted by a student who rushed the podium, shouting, before he was dragged out of the building by campus police. Attendees then braved a gauntlet of angry Yale students who cursed and ridiculed them. The Yale Daily News reported that “several attendees were spat on as they left.”

At the University of Missouri, a student photographer freelancing for ESPN was confronted by a mob of angry anti-racism protesters who tried to eject him from the public commons area where they had gathered. After he refused to leave, the students begin a coordinated effort to both psychologically and physically intimidate the reporter into leaving.

The protesters subjected him to intense ridicule, sometimes chanting in unison, as they gradually forced him backwards. They then began to falsely accuse the reporter of the very conduct that they themselves were directing against him.

MU’s student body vice president later tried to justify the students’ self-imposed restrictions on the press during an interview on MSNBC. She suggested that the First Amendment “creates a hostile and unsafe learning environment.” Continue reading

King Jesus

At the ending of the liturgical year our thoughts turn to the End Times.  The feast of Christ the King was proclaimed by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in response to the growth both of nationalism and secularism.  Pope Paul VI moved it to the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, the better to remind all of mankind that the time will come when Christ will return and reign as King forever.

Christ Pantocrator is one of the more popular images by which Christians pictured, after the edict of Milan, Christ, the Lord of all.  This representation ties in nicely with the traditional American cry of “We have no King but Jesus!” which became popular during the American Revolution.  At the battle of Lexington the phrase “We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus!”, was flung back at Major Pitcairn after he had ordered the militia to disperse.    Christ the King and We have no King but Jesus remind Christians that the nations of the world and the manner in which they are ruled, and mis-ruled, while very important to us during our mortal lives, are of little importance in the next.   They also instruct us that the State can never be an ultimate end in itself, can never override the first allegiance of Christians and that the rulers of the Earth will be judged as we all will be.  Although my Irish Catholic ancestors will shudder, and my Protestant Irish and Scot ancestors may smile, there is much truth in the inscription supposedly written on the sarcophagus, destroyed or lost after the Restoration, of that “bold, bad man”, Oliver Cromwell, “Christ, not Man, is King.”

Seventy years ago the ashes of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan attested to the great mistake of making worldly power the excuse for any crime.  How different it seemed in 1941 when both Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan seemed well on their way to global domination. In that year Father Martin B. Hellriegel, a German-American pastor in Saint Louis, wrote the magnificent hymn To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King as a direct response to the pretensions of the Third Reich and to remind people who actually reigns eternally: Continue reading

The Church in the World

During the debates leading up to the 1983 pastoral letter of the bishops of the United States on nuclear weapons, “The Challenge of Peace,” the great churchman Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans said that many of the bishops were uninformed. I paraphrase, because the archbishop himself used much more colorful language, honed by years of working with the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II.

The Plot to Kill Hitler and the Vindication of Pius XII, Crisis Magazine

The article gets better from there.
Continue reading

PopeWatch: Satire?





From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:


Facing financial ruin due to the high cost of trying to provide their son with a good Catholic education, sources confirmed Thursday that parents of high school freshman Johnny Irving, Tom and Lisa, are quite impressed with their son’s growing knowledge of every tenet of every religion, but Catholicism.

According to the freshman’s parents, Irving has gained an immense amount of knowledge about the Koran, The Analects of Confucius, and the Book of Mormon in his class Fundamentals of Catholic Doctrine 101.

“It’s breathtaking the amount of non-Catholic knowledge he’s learning in his Catholic Doctrine class,” Lisa Irving told EOTT. “We’re about a paycheck or two away from filing for bankruptcy just so Johnny can learn about everything but Catholicism at a Catholic school, but it’s so worth it. He always comes home telling us interesting things about Catholic teaching like how according to the Church the most important doctrine is coexistence. And how the Church teaches that it’s pointless to evangelize since a person’s own consciousness, being infused by a higher spirit, stirs within him or her at birth and sanctifies every belief, whim, or desire that person has. I didn’t know that. Probably because I went to Catholic school when classrooms had crucifixes and whatnot in them.”

Lisa went on to say that, though her son still has never heard of the Nicene Creed, that he had memorized several verses from the Koran that incidentally mention Jesus, and that through Buddhist teachings, he has come to learn about Christ the bodhisattva.

“Listen, some people might think $40,000 for a four-year high school education seems absurd, ” Lisa Irving went on to say. “But tell that to me when my son graduates summa cum laude, which of course he will graduate with since every student in that fine scholastic institution graduates with that honor.”

At press time, Johnny is studying for his midterms in one of the school’s mandatory classes, Advanced Being Nice. Continue reading

Turkey in the Straw

Something for the weekend.  Turkey in the Straw seems appropriate for the weekend before Thanksgiving.  The spirited rendition above is by the Skillet Lickers, a Georgia band of the twenties and thirties of the last century. Part time musicians, they made up in enthusiasm and faithfulness to the traditional music they played, what they may have lacked in technical skill.

The Trumpeteers’ New Emmanuel Goldstein

Trying to keep Trump supporter logic straight is a harrowing ordeal. When confronted with the reality of Trump’s many, many, many (did I say many?) deviations from conservative orthodoxy, Trumps fans respond with an “argument” that employs “GOPe” “Jeb Bush” and “RINO” in some form. The irony of calling any other candidate a Republican in Name Only while supporting the one candidate who is – based on his actual voting and ideological history – quite literally a Republican in Name Only is often lost on these individuals.

Throughout the campaign the big bad for most Trump supporters was Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush was held up as the Establishment darling, and as such the symbol of all that was wrong with the GOP (e). This is perhaps the one time the Trump supporters were largely right. For reasons that defy explanation the GOP Establishment, such as it is, has propped up Jeb Bush. Despite being arguably the absolute worse type of nominee the party could hope for to run against Hillary, the big donors flocked to him. As such, any attempt to criticize Trump has been met with accusations that one must therefore support Jeb Bush. Again, this ignored the fact that at one time 15 (now 12) other candidates were in the race, and the combined polling support for those other candidates has hovered around 60-70 percent, which would seem to indicate to anyone with either a sense of logic or ability to do math that Republicans had other choices in the primary.

Now that Jeb’s star has faded he has been replaced with a new Emmanuel Goldstein. It’s not Ben Carson. Though Trump has personally attacked Carson (and quite maliciously), the real subject of his supporters’ vitriol is Marco Rubio. Just as Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, and never Eurasia, evidently the real enemy has been Marco Rubio all along.

You can see it in comments sections of right-leaning blogs all the time. Marco Rubio is the clear GOPe darling (not Jeb Bush – it’s never been Jeb Bush), and the man to be feared. Now as Bush fades in the polls it’s quite possible that that hefty six percent or so of the electorate currently supporting Jeb will swing Marco’s way, and that indeed the big bad Establishment might see Rubio as their new savior. But the almost delusional antipathy to Rubio is only starting to peak, as can be seen in this bizarre rant where Ace of Spades lays the blame of Donald Trump’s inability to answer a question in a coherent manner at the blame of Rubio’s followers. Yeah, it’s the GOPe that rendered Trump incapable of clearly and convincingly saying no to a reporter who asked if we should just round up all of the Muslims in the USA and force them to register in some kind of database.

Sadly this is all too representative of the basic gist of Trump support, which is entirely grounded in some kind of hate towards the “other”: other candidates, other cultures, other ways of communicating that are more sophisticated than grunting. It also highlights how the Trump phenomenon is built on a foundation of sand. Even though Jeb Bush never reached particularly high in the polls, we were repeatedly told that if you didn’t hop aboard Team Trump then we were cruising towards a Bush coronation. Now Marco Rubio is the new scarecrow and symbol of all things to be feared.

And now that Ted Cruz is climbing higher in the polls, undoubtedly we will soon come to learn that the true Establishment darling all along has been the man that seems to be the most despised figure among this same so-called Establishment. In fact one Trump supporter has already assured me that “[m]any of us had Cruz pegged as a stalking horse before Trump even announced.” Scooby and Shaggy will soon unmask Ted Cruz only to see Mitt Romney in disguise, I suppose.  We’re not going to want the GOPe to get their man, they’ll say, and there’s no one that the GOPe loves more than Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz has always been their dream candidate, and never Marco Rubio. Or Bush. Or Romney.

And so it goes.

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