34

Prayer Requests

The day before Thanksgiving I prayed for a miracle and my prayer was granted.  The miracle was a small one,  with meaning only to my immediate family, but a miracle I am certain it was.   As all faithful readers of this blog know, my prayer was not granted because of any holiness on my part, but because, due to the infinite mercy of God and the intercession of the Virgin Mary, and perhaps also due to the intercession I suspect of my son Larry, even the prayers of a sinful lawyer will gain a hearing in the court of Heaven.  I have been too cavalier in my attitude toward prayer and that is going to change.

Please put your prayer requests in the comboxes below.  Remember that God hears each of our prayers even, and perhaps especially, when to our eyes we do not gain what we request.

2

Soldiers In Greasepaint

Bob Hope’s NBC radio special “Soldiers in Greasepaint” broadcast on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1943.  A salute to millions of brave Americans who were spending Thanksgiving a long way from home seven decades ago.

By the time of World War II Hope was 38 and too old to likely be assigned to a combat area.  He got around that by spending much of his time during the War entertaining troops in combat zones, occasionally coming under fire.  Hope’s genius as a comedian was a rare gift;  a willingness to spend it entertaining American troops was a worthy way of using that gift. Continue Reading

3

Thanksgiving For Small Blessings

 

 

 

Each Thanksgiving I say grace for my family and thank God for His major blessings in our life, but what about the small blessings?  Here I make up for the lack:

1.    That William Shatner has not directed another Star Trek film.

2.    That the Pope has not yet condemned blogging as a complete waste of time.

3.    That I have never tasted tofu turkey.

4.    That President Obama did not attempt to do for car insurance what he has done for health insurance.

5.    That my bride likes my snoring. Continue Reading

Lincoln and the Creation of Thanksgiving

In the midst of this, however, He, from Whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten. A call for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated.

Abraham Lincoln, from his last public address, April 11, 1865

Abraham Lincoln frequently throughout the Civil War called for Thanksgiving for Union victories and for prayers and repentance for national sins.  The idea however of an annual Thanksgiving did not spring from him but from Sarah Josepha Hale, a noted literary figure who, among other accomplishments wrote the child’s poem Mary Had a Little Lamb.  Born in 1788, for years she had led a movement for a national day of Thanksgiving to be observed annually.

Sir.–

Permit me, as Editress of the “Lady’s Book”, to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and — as I trust — even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.

You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.

Enclosed are three papers (being printed these are easily read) which will make the idea and its progress clear and show also the popularity of the plan.

For the last fifteen years I have set forth this idea in the “Lady’s Book”, and placed the papers before the Governors of all the States and Territories — also I have sent these to our Ministers abroad, and our Missionaries to the heathen — and commanders in the Navy. From the recipients I have received, uniformly the most kind approval. Two of these letters, one from Governor (now General) Banks and one from Governor Morgan are enclosed; both gentlemen as you will see, have nobly aided to bring about the desired Thanksgiving Union.

But I find there are obstacles not possible to be overcome without legislative aid — that each State should, by statute, make it obligatory on the Governor to appoint the last Thursday of November, annually, as Thanksgiving Day; — or, as this way would require years to be realized, it has ocurred to me that a proclamation from the President of the United States would be the best, surest and most fitting method of National appointment.

I have written to my friend, Hon. Wm. H. Seward, and requested him to confer with President Lincoln on this subject As the President of the United States has the power of appointments for the District of Columbia and the Territories; also for the Army and Navy and all American citizens abroad who claim protection from the U. S. Flag — could he not, with right as well as duty, issue his proclamation for a Day of National Thanksgiving for all the above classes of persons? And would it not be fitting and

patriotic for him to appeal to the Governors of all the States, inviting and commending these to unite in issuing proclamations for the last Thursday in November as the Day of Thanksgiving for the people of each State? Thus the great Union Festival of America would be established.

Now the purpose of this letter is to entreat President Lincoln to put forth his Proclamation, appointing the last Thursday in November (which falls this year on the 26th) as the National Thanksgiving for all those classes of people who are under the National Government particularly, and commending this Union Thanksgiving to each State Executive: thus, by the noble example and action of the President of the United States, the permanency and unity of our Great American Festival of Thanksgiving would be forever secured.

An immediate proclamation would be necessary, so as to reach all the States in season for State appointments, also to anticipate the early appointments by Governors.

Excuse the liberty I have taken

With profound respect

Yrs truly

Sarah Josepha Hale,

Editress of the “Ladys Book”

There is no evidence that Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation was issued in response to this letter, but it is probable.  Here is the proclamation on October 3, 1863 by President Lincoln that established Thanksgiving as an annual event: Continue Reading

6

Thanksgiving Day Lesson: Socialism Never Works

 

 

 

From  Of Plymouth Plantation, by Governor William Bradford:

All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression. Continue Reading

25

PopeWatch: Evangelii Gaudium

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

PopeWatch decides to take the Thanksgiving holidays off and the Pope releases Evangelii Gaudium!  Go here to read it.  The short take of PopeWatch is that it is a mishmash.  Much of it is merely a restatement of traditional Catholic teaching and therefore bound to be a relief for  those fearing that the Pope was going to alter Church teaching in an unorthodox manner on such issues as abortion and gay marriage.  The economic portions, all too often, read like warmed over Peronism, the disastrous and amorphous political ideology that has helped make Argentina, fated to be a very rich nation in the 19th Century, an economic basket case.  Much more next week after PopeWatch has digested the Thanksgiving turkey and examined Evangelii Gaudium in greater detail. Continue Reading

2

Thanksgiving Proclamation: 1789

Throughout the American Revolution Congress had set aside days of Thanksgiving to God for American victories.  After the surrender of Burgoyne in 1777 Congress authorized General Washington to proclaim a national day of Thanksgiving, which he did, designating it to be observed on December 18, 1777.  Thus, President Washington readily agreed when the new federal Congress authorized him to issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation, establishing the first American Thanksgiving to be held on the last Thursday in November.  Washington observed the day by attending church at Saint Paul Chapel and donating beer and food to imprisoned debtors in New York City.  Here is the text of the proclamation: Continue Reading

4

Remembrance of Turkeys Past

As we prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and as we recall our blessings and thank God for each and every one, let us also remember the humble turkey and the various disasters that result when that proud bird is not treated with the care that it deserves, dead or alive.    Oldtimers like myself will recognize the above video as part of the famous “Turkey Drop” episode from WKRP, a sitcom from the Seventies.

 

Of course Turkey Disasters are not, unfortunately, restricted to the realm of fiction.    Deep frying a turkey poses various risks.

Here we have a case of the flaming avian:

 

 

William Shatner warns of the dangers of deep frying turkeys:

 

Of course there are those among us who revel in the destructive possibilities of cooking turkey.

If deep fry a turkey you must, follow these tips: Continue Reading

18

One More Thing to Thank God For This Thursday

 

 

Michael Totten reminds us why we might wish to thank God this Thursday that we were not born in Cuba:

Private Internet is banned. You can only get online in hotels, Internet cafes, and government offices. Regular citizens are effectively prohibited from accessing the Web by the price. It cost me seven dollars an hour to use a dial-up connection. The government caps Cuban salaries at 20 dollars a month, so it costs a citizen ten days of income just to get online for an hour. Once they do get online, the connection will be so slow that surfing around is impossible. It took me the better part of my hour to get connected, to open my inbox, and to send a single email to my wife telling her I had arrived safely and without incident.

The government strangles the Internet because it fears free information. There can be no other reason. That’s also why they vet journalists in advance and require special visas. Information can barely get in and barely get out. There can be no Twitter or Facebook revolution in Cuba’s near future.

And there are apparently no real newspapers or magazines, at least none that I saw. No International Herald Tribune. No Newsweek and Time in the dentist’s office. No Google News since there is no Google. Certainly not the Wall Street Journal or The Economist.

I hadn’t even been there a full day and I already felt umbilically severed from the rest of the planet. My awareness of the world narrowed to what I could see right in front of me. I felt as though I had lost one of my senses. I had no real access to the Internet. No CNN, no New York Times. No blogs, not even my own. Nothing at all. I could not use my iPhone. I may as well have been at the bottom of the ocean.

The only newspaper I saw was Granma, the official organ of the Communist Party. Juventud Rebelde supposedly exists somewhere, as well, but I didn’t see any copies.

That, by the way, is the most outrageously named newspaper I know of. The English translation of Juventud Rebelde is Rebel Youth—as if it’s Cuba’s version of Rolling Stone. But God, no. It’s not that at all. Rebel Youth indoctrinates young people with the zombie ideology of walking dead men. Youthful and rebellious it ain’t. It is the most tired, stale, old, and establishment “newspaper” in the hemisphere. Continue Reading

14

Thanksgiving: Time to Discuss ObamaCare?

 

 

ObamaCare Propaganda Sheet

And you all think that Thanksgiving is about thanking Almighty God and having a great meal!  Allahpundit at Hot Air sets us straight:

Believe it or not, these soulless robots have prepared an actual talking-points memo for the occasion replete with tips on how to plan your “talk.” My favorite: “Integrate the talk into family time.” Good advice — and for my money, the more dramatic the integration, the better. When your cousin pulls out baby pictures of her newborn and tries to pass them around, grab her arm gently but firmly and say, “Hey — isn’t there something more important we should be discussing?”

Don’t be fazed by the stunned silence that follows. That’s your opening to grab your iPad and start the Powerpoint on enrollment that you’ve prepared.

I like the idea that you, by dint of having donated to Obama and happily swallowed endless lies about keeping your plan and your provider network, are necessarily the “voice of reason” at the dinner table this year. In the unlikely event that you find yourself seated across from one of these benighted schmucks, you can play it three ways: One: Deflect. Change the subject. Bring up “The Walking Dead” or how boring the NFL is this year or whether maybe Orwell had a point about statism’s insidious power to dehumanize people by reducing them to cogs in a government propaganda machine. Two: Engage. Ace has prepared a helpful talking-points memo of his own in case you find yourself at a loss upon being pitched on O-Care by the same arrogant little sh*t who called you ignorant for doubting that the program would work at Thanksgiving dinners past. (If Ezra Klein has any conservative relatives, he or she is about to have the best Thanksgiving ever.) Three: If there are people at the table considering buying a plan on the exchange, wait patiently until they’re done cursing Obama for having forced their insurer to cancel their old coverage and then prepare them for how to shop on the exchange. Continue Reading

9

PopeWatch: Three Errors

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Sandro Magister is noting that Pope Francis seems to be correcting three errors:

ROME, November 22, 2013 – In the span of a few days Pope Francis has corrected or brought about the correction of a few significant features of his public image. At least three of them.

The first concerns the conversation that he had with Eugenio Scalfari, set down in writing by this champion of atheistic thought in “la Repubblica” of October 1.

The transcript of the conversation had in effect generated widespread dismay, because of some of the statements from the mouth of Francis that sounded more congenial to the dominant secular thinking than to Catholic doctrine. Like the following:

“Each one has his idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight the evil as he understands them.”

At the same time, however, the interview was immediately confirmed by Fr. Federico Lombardi as “faithful to the thought“ of the pope and “reliable in its general sense.”

Not only that. A few hours after it was published in “la Repubblica,” the interview was reproduced in its entirety both in “L’Osservatore Romano” and on the official website of the Holy See, on a par with the other discourses and documents of the Pope.

This gave birth to the idea that Jorge Mario Bergoglio had intentionally chosen the conversational form of expression, on this as on other occasions, as a new form of his magisterium, capable of reaching the general public more effectively.

But in the following weeks the pope must also have become aware of the risk that this form entails. The risk that the magisterium of the Church might fall to the level of a mere opinion contributed to the free exchange of ideas.

This in fact led to the decision, on November 15, to remove from the website of the Holy See the text of the conversation with Scalfari.

“It was removed,” Fr. Lombardi explained, “to clarify the nature of that text. There were some misunderstandings and disagreements about its value.”

On November 21, interviewed at the Roman headquarters of the foreign press, Scalfari nonetheless revealed more details of the matter.

He said that the pope, at the end of the conversation, had consented that it should be made public. And to Scalfari’s proposal that he send him the text beforehand, he had replied: “It seems like a waste of time to me, I trust you.”

In effect, the founder of “la Repubblica” sent the text to the pope, accompanied by a letter in which he wrote among other things:

“Keep in mind that I did not include some of the things that you said to me. And that some of the things that I attribute to you you did not say. But I put them there so that the reader may understand who you are.”

Two days later – again according to what Scalfari claims – the pope’s secretary, Alfred Xuereb, telephoned to give the go-ahead for  publication. Which took place the following day.

Scalfari commented: “I am perfectly willing to think that some of the things that I wrote and attributed to him are not shared by the pope, but I also believe that he maintains that, said by a nonbeliever, they are important for him and for the activity he is carrying out.”

*

But even the calibrated and thoroughly studied interview with Pope Francis in “La Civiltà Cattolica” – published on September 19 by sixteen magazines of the Society of Jesus in eleven languages – has in recent days been taken into the shop of things to be corrected.

On a key point: the interpretation of Vatican Council II.

This has been made clear by a passage of the letter written by Francis himself to Archbishop Agostino Marchetto on the occasion of the presentation on November 12 of a volume in his honor, against the solemn background of the Campidoglio. A letter that the pope wanted to be read in public.

The passage is the following:

“You have demonstrated this love [of the Church] in many ways, including by correcting an error or imprecision on my part – and for this I thank you from my heart – but above all it has been manifested in all its purity in your studies of Vatican Council II. I have said this to you once, dear Archbishop Marchetto, and I want to repeat it today, that I consider you the best hermeneut of Vatican Council II.”

The definition of Marchetto as “the best hermeneut” of the Council is striking in itself. Marchetto has in fact always been the most implacable critic of that “school of Bologna” – founded by Giuseppe Dossetti and Giuseppe Alberigo and today directed by Professor Alberto Melloni – which has the worldwide monopoly on the interpretation of Vatican II, in a progressive vein.

The hermeneutic of the Council upheld by Marchetto is the same as that of Benedict XVI: not of “rupture” and “new beginning,” but of “reform in the continuity of the one subject Church.” And it is this hermeneutic that Pope Francis has wanted to signify that he shares, in bestowing such high appreciation on Marchetto.

But if one rereads the succinct passage that Francis dedicates to Vatican II in the interview with “La Civiltà Cattolica,” one gets a different impression. “Yes, there are hermeneutical lines of continuity and of discontinuity,” the pope concedes. “Nonetheless,” he adds, “one thing is clear”: Vatican II was “a service to the people” consisting in “a reinterpretation of the Gospel in the light of contemporary culture.”

In the few lines of the interview dedicated to the Council, Bergoglio defines its essence this way three times, also applying it to the reform of the liturgy.

Such a judgment of the grandiose conciliar event immediately appeared so summary to many that even the pope’s interviewer, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica” Antonio Spadaro, confessed his amazement in transcribing it from the pope’s spoken words.

Meanwhile, however, this judgment has continued to garner widespread consensus.

For example, in receiving Pope Francis at the Quirinale on a visit on November 4, the president of the Italian republic, Giorgio Napolitano, thanked him precisely for making “resonate the spirit of Vatican Council II as a ‘reinterpretation of the Gospel in the light of contemporary culture,’” citing his exact words.

And praise for these same words of the pope has come – for example – from the foremost of the Italian liturgists, Andrea Grillo, a professor at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm, according to whom Francis has finally inaugurated the true and definitive “hermeneutic” of the Council, after having “immediately put in second place that diatribe over ‘continuity’ and ‘discontinuity’ which had long prejudiced – and often completely paralyzed – any effective hermeneutic of Vatican II.”

In effect, it is no mystery that “service to the people” and a reinterpretation of the Gospel “brought up to date” are concepts dear to the progressive interpretations of the Council and in particular to the “school of Bologna,” which has repeatedly declared itself to be an enthusiast of this pope.

But evidently there is someone who has personally pointed out to pope Bergoglio that reducing the Council to such concepts is at the least “imprecise,” if not “mistaken.”

And it was precisely Marchetto who took this step. There has always been great trust between him and Bergoglio, with mutual esteem. Marchetto lives in Rome at the residence for clergy on Via della Scrofa, in room 204, next to room 203 where the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires stayed during his trips to Rome.

Pope Francis not only listened to the criticisms of his friend, he welcomed them. To the point of thanking him, in the letter he had read on November 12, for having helped him in “correcting an error or imprecision on my part.”

It is to be presumed that in the future Francis will express himself on the Council in a way different from that of the interview in “La Civiltà Cattolica.” More in line with the hermeneutic of Benedict XVI. And to the great disappointment of the “school of Bologna.”

*

The third correction is consistent with the two previous ones. It concerns the “progressive” tone that Pope Francis has seen stamped upon the the first three months of his pontificate.

One month ago, on October 17, Bergoglio seemed to have confirmed this profile of his once again when in the morning homily at Santa Marta he directed stinging words against Christians who turn the faith into a “moralistic ideology,” entirely made up of “prescriptions without goodness.”

But one month later, on November 18, in another morning homily the pope played a completely different tune.

He used the revolt of the Maccabees against the dominant powers of the age as the point of departure for a tremendous tongue-lashing of that “adolescent progressivism,” Catholic as well, which is disposed to submit to the “hegemonic uniformity” of the “one form of thought that is the fruit of worldliness.”

It is not true, Francis said, that “in the face of any choice whatsoever it is right to move forward regardless, rather than remain faithful to one’s traditions.” The result of negotiating over everything is that values are so emptied of meaning as to end up merely “nominal values, not real.” Even more, one ends up negotiating precisely over “the thing essential to one’s very being, fidelity to the Lord.” Continue Reading

5

Illinois 48th? I Protest!

In a USA Today story Illinois is ranked as the third worst run state in the Union:

48. Illinois

> Debt per capita: $5,041 (11th-highest) > Budget deficit: 18.5% (9th-largest) > Unemployment: 8.9% (10th-highest) > Median household income: $55,137 (16th-highest) > Pct. below poverty line: 14.7% (tied for 24th-lowest)

Illinois has the worst credit rating in the U.S., having received the lowest rating of any state from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. Explaining its reasoning, Moody’s pointed to the state’s underfunded pension and ongoing weak fiscal practices such as bill payment delays. Only 40.4% of the state’s pension obligations were funded in 2012, the worst rate in the nation. Illinois also had the fourth-largest debt in the country at the end of fiscal 2011 at nearly $65 billion. The state faced high foreclosure and unemployment rates in 2012, both among the worst in the country. Continue Reading

19

PopeWatch: Hermeneutic of Continuity

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Father Z has what he believes is an important indication that Pope Francis is following in the footsteps of Pope Benedict in how he views Vatican II:

 

The 450th anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent is coming up on 4 December.  We like to celebrate these great milestones in salvation history.  So, there are great doings in Trent, in the northern area of Italy which is part of the (also) German-speaking Tirol.  As is customary, Pope Francis will send a Cardinal as his personal representative.  Who better than His Eminence Walter Card. Brandmüller?

When the Pope sends a Cardinal off on one of these missions, he sends him a formal letter, charging him with his task and indicating something of his own hopes for the occasion.  The anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent is no exception.

In his letter to Card. Brandmüller, Pope Francis explicitly cites Pope Benedict XVI pontificate-defining address in 2005 to the Roman Curia in which he spoke about the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” (e.g., the Karl Rahner crowd and their descendants, still active today) and the “hermeneutic of reform”, or “hermeneutic of continuity”.

In this explicit reference Francis is aligning himself with Benedict and that key moment and concept underlying Benedict’s pontificate.

This comes in the wake of Francis writing to Archbishop Marchetto (refresh your memory HERE), a critic of one of the powerhouses of the ”hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”, the so-called “Bologna School” of interpretation of the Council.  Francis surely broke a lot of liberal hearts when he referred to Marchetto (who in this matter is completely aligned with Benedict) as one of the best interpreters of the Council that he knows.

The letter of Francis to Card. Brandmüller is available in the Latin original in the Bollettino.  Here is my rapid translation of the first part of the letter, which is the important part.  I scaled down some of the flowery stuff. The second part is the usual boilerplate and of less interest.

To our Venerable Brother Walter Cardinal (of the Holy Roman Church) Brandmüller Deacon of St. Julian of the Flemish

Since the 450th anniversary of the day on which the Council of Trent drew to its favorable end, it is fitting that the Church recall with readier and more attentive eagerness the most rich doctrine which came out of that Council held in the Tyrol. It is certainly not without good reason that the Church has for a long time given such great care to that Council’s decrees and canons which are to be recalled and heeded, seeing that, since extremely grave matters and questions sprang up in that period, the Council Fathers employed all their diligence so that the Catholic faith should come into clearer view and be better understood. Without a doubt as the Holy Spirit inspired and prompted them, it was the Fathers’ greatest concern not only that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be defended, but also that mankind be more brightly illuminated, in order that the saving work of the Lord could be diffused throughout the entire globe and the Gospel be spread through the whole world.

Harking closely to the same Spirit, Holy Church in this age renews and meditates on the most abundant doctrine of the Council of Trent. In fact, the “hermeneutic of renewal” [interpretatio renovationis] which Our Predecessor Benedict XVI explained in 2005 before the Roman Curia, refers in no way less to the Council of Trent than to the Vatican Council. To be sure, this mode of interpretation places under a brighter light a beautiful characteristic of the Church which is taught by the Lord Himself: “She is a ‘subject’ which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God” (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia offering them his Christmas greetings – 22 December 2005).

[…]

This is a significant letter.

First, it affirms that we can indeed, and rightly, Read Francis Through Benedict.

Second, it affirms that Francis is, and rightly, reading Francis Through Benedict. Continue Reading

November 25, 1863: Missionary Ridge

Chattanooga_Campaign_Nov_24-25

The culmination of the Chattanooga campaign, the battle began in the morning on November 25 with Sherman attempting to take Tunnel Hill.  His attacks met with no success in the face of fierce Confederate resistance.

Grant ordered the Army of the Cumberland to advance against Missionary Ridge, and the attack began at 3:30 PM.  Grant, doubting that the heavily fortified Missionary Ridge could be taken by a frontal assault, ordered that only the rifle pits at the base of the ridge be taken, with the troops to await further orders.  Thomas launched a four division attack, about 23,000 men.  The rifle pits were taken, and the Union troops began to come under heavy fire from Confederate positions on Missionary Ridge.  They immediately began a charge up the ridge to the astonishment of Grant:

 Our men drove the troops in front of the lower line of rifle-pits so rapidly, and followed them so closely, that rebel and Union troops went over the first line of works almost at the same time. Many rebels were captured and sent to the rear under the fire of their own friends higher up the hill. Those that were not captured retreated, and were pursued. The retreating hordes being between friends and pursuers caused the enemy to fire high to avoid killing their own men. In fact, on that occasion the Union soldier nearest the enemy was in the safest position. Without awaiting further orders or stopping to reform, on our troops went to the second line of works; over that and on for the crest—thus effectually carrying out my orders of the 18th for the battle and of the 24th for this charge. 

I watched their progress with intense interest. The fire along the rebel line was terrific. Cannon and musket balls filled the air: but the damage done was in small proportion to the ammunition expended. The pursuit continued until the crest was reached, and soon our men were seen climbing over the Confederate barriers at different points in front of both Sheridan’s and Wood’s divisions. The retreat of the enemy along most of his line was precipitate and the panic so great that Bragg and his officers lost all control over their men. Many were captured, and thousands threw away their arms in their flight.

Missionary Ridge

The battle of Missionary Ridge was the most stunning example in the War of a frontal attack against a fortified position succeeding.  Bragg’s center was broken and his army routed, with headlong retreat being the only course of action open to him.  Confederate and Union casualties were each about 10,000 with another 4000 Confederates taken prisoner.  Many of the Army of the Cumberland Union troops went into battle yelling “Chickamauga!  Chickamauga!”  That defeat was now well avenged, and the Chattanooga Campaign was at an end.  Here is the report of Major General George Thomas, commander of the Army of the Cumberland: Continue Reading

November 24, 1863: Battle Above the Clouds

Battle Above the Clouds, the song in the above video, commemorates the battle of Lookout Mountain fought 150 years ago yesterday, part of a series of Union attacks that drove the Confederate Army of Tennessee reeling in retreat from its positions around Chattanooga that it had occupied in the aftermath of the Confederate victory of Chickamauga in September of 1863.

Major General Joseph Hooker was assigned the task of attacking the Confederate position on Lookout Mountain.  Grant was dubious that the Confederate positions on Lookout Mountain could be taken, and told Hooker to take the mountain only if it seemed practicable to do so.  Hooker had three divisions, ten thousand men, not a much greater force than the 8,000 Confederates that held the position.

Hooker, intent on regaining his reputation as a field commander, pressed the assault.  The Confederate defense was hampered by the rough terrain and lackluster commanders who put up a feeble defense.  By midnight the mountain was quiet with the Confederates withdrawing in the wee hours of November 25, aided by a lunar eclipse.  The battle electrified the North, being hailed as the battle above the clouds, a reference to the mists that clung to the slopes of Lookout Mountain.

chattanooga-lookout

Brigadier General John W, Geary, who led one of Hooker’s three divisions, shared the excitement, writing to his wife:

I have been the instrument of Almighty God. … I stormed what was considered the … inaccessible heights of Lookout Mountain. I captured it. … This feat will be celebrated until time shall be no more.

In some ways the battle was actually more of a skirmish.  Casualties were light for the Union, only 408.  Confederate casualties were higher, totaling 1251, with an additional 1064 captured or missing.

Grant, who had never had any use for Hooker, in his memoirs denigrated the “battle”:

The Battle of Lookout Mountain is one of the romances of the war. There was no such battle and no action even worthy to be called a battle on Lookout Mountain. It is all poetry.

The Union troops who participated in taking Lookout Mountain would beg to differ.  After the fighting around Chattanooga was over many of them had photographs taken on Lookout Mountain, clearly proud of their accomplishment:

Union troops posing on Lookout Mountain

Here is Hooker’s report of the battle: Continue Reading

23

ObamaCare “Fees” Letter

obamacare fees letter

 

The hits on ObamaCare keep on rolling.  I received in a letter on Saturday from my insurance carrier, see above, advising me that my family health care insurance policy would be going up close to $50.00 per month due to ObamaCare “fees”.  (I hate it when a tax is called a fee.  When I pay a fee I get something directly in return.)  These fees are the “Annual Fee on Health Insurers” and the “Transitional Reinsurance Program Contribution Fee”.  (Yeah contribution is a nice Orwellian touch.  Contributions are voluntary.)

What are these “fees”?  Jim Geraghty at National Review Online explains them to us:

Those of you who still have insurance will be paying more in premiums next year. A bunch of new fees take effect, all written into the law of Obamacare or instituted by the Department of Health and Human Services.

First there’s the “Annual Health Insurance Industry Fee.”

Health insurance issuers will be assessed an annual fee to fund some of the provisions of the ACA.

The total amount collected from the fee will be $8 billion in 2014 and will increase to $14.3 billion in 2018. After 2018, the amount will be determined by the annual rate of premium growth. The fee will be divided proportionately between all health insurance issuers, although for-profit insurers will pay twice the amount as not-for-profit insurers. This fee is not applicable to self-funded health plans.

Based on estimates from Oliver Wyman, a national consulting group, the fee could increase premiums by 2-2.5 percent in 2014 and by 3-4 percent in later years.

This fee will begin to be assessed in January 2014 and is permanent.

Then there is the Traditional Reinsurance Program Assessment Fee:

HHS proposes that the annual assessment will cost $63 per individual enrolled under a plan/policy in 2014. HHS will require plan administrators to submit enrollment counts by November 15, 2014. The agency will send out assessment bills by December 15, 2014. Payments will be due 30 days later. Continue Reading

10

We Have No King But Jesus

The feast of Christ the King is a very new one, although the image of Christ as King is as old as Christianity.  Pope Pius XI established the feast with his encyclical Quas Primas  in 1925 to remind the World after the horrors of World War I and its aftermath that God was in charge.

This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things. That this is so the above quotations from Scripture amply prove, and Christ by his own action confirms it. On many occasions, when the Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the liberties and the kingdom of Israel, he repelled and denied such a suggestion. When the populace thronged around him in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honor and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his kingdom was not of this world. The gospels present this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which, though an external rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration. This kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross.

 

Prior to the American Revolution an English aristocrat related an incident in a letter.  He asked a servant who his master was, and the man responded unhesitatingly:  My Lord Jesus Christ!  The aristocrat found this hilarious, but the servant was reflecting a very old Christian view.

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.

Our wisest statesman have always remembered that behind the trappings of power of this World that God is ultimately the one who has charge of the fate of nations as well as individuals.  Abraham Lincoln was utterly convinced of this as he indicated in a letter to Eliza P. Gurney on September 4, 1864 as the Civil War teetered in the balance:

The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must  prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive  them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible  war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We  shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. Meanwhile  we must work earnestly in the best light He gives us, trusting that so  working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely He intends  some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal  could make, and no mortal could stay. Continue Reading

1

PopeWatch: Batman

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

Hollywood, CA––”Hello, it’s Pope Francis,” were the first words spoken during a conversation in which His Holiness telephoned Zack Snyder, director of the upcoming film “Man of Steel 2.” “Hello Your Holiness,” answered a dazed Snyder, no stranger to celebrities but still star struck to be speaking to the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ on earth. “Listen, I’ll get to the point,” said Pope Francis, “I thought 300 was awesome, and Man of Steel was pretty great too. But I don’t know about Ben Affleck as Batman in your next movie.” Snyder reportedly stuttered at this point, unsure what to answer His Holiness. “I mean, I trust you as a director and all that, and I’m sure it won’t be that bad, but there really weren’t any better choices? I mean this is the guy that played Daredevil. Did you even see that movie?” Continue Reading

November 23, 1863: The Battle of Chattanooga Begins

Something for the weekend.  The Chattanooga Boy’s Choir singing The Battle Cry of Freedom.  An appropriate selection as 150 years ago the battle of Chattanooga began which resulted in a complete Union victory.  Actually three battles:  Orchard Knob, November 23;   Lookout Mountain, November 24;   and Missionary Ridge, November 25;   these engagements were the culmination of the Chattanooga campaign that began when Bragg and his Army of Tennessee, put the Army of the Cumberland under siege in Chattanooga in the aftermath of the Confederate victory at Chickamauga.

Chattanooga_Campaign_Nov_24-25

With strong Union reinforcements, and with Grant placed in overall command, the siege was effectively broken on October 28, 1863 with the Union establishing the “cracker line” to bring supplies into Chattanooga.  With the lifting of the siege and with the Union forces opposing him growing ever stronger, Bragg made the strategic blunder of keeping his main force in place confronting Chattanooga and sent Longstreet’s Corps, 11,000 men, on an ultimately futile campaign to capture Knoxville.

Bragg doubled down on this error by ordering two divisions to withdraw from the lines around Chattanooga and march to the rail head to be transported to reinforce Longstreet on November 22.  Seeing the movement of the Confederate forces, Grant decided to launch the long planned offensive against the Confederate positions around Chattanooga, partially to prevent Bragg from reinforcing Longstreet.

Grant ordered 14,000 Union soldiers to seize Orchard Knob, a position held by 600 Confederates in front of the main Confederate defensive lines along Missionary Ridge.  The position was taken with light casualties, and it did cause Bragg to cancel the movement of one of the divisions he had intended to send to Longstreet.

Here is Grant’s description of the engagement in his Memoirs: Continue Reading

25

War Then

But the most deplorable effect of all is that diminution of attachment and reverence which steals into the hearts of the people, towards a political system which betrays so many marks of infirmity, and disappoints so many of their flattering hopes. No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable; nor be truly respectable, without possessing a certain portion of order and stability.

James Madison, Federalist 62

Harry Reid carried through on his threat yesterday to invoke the so-called nuclear option and take away the right of filibuster in regard to federal appointments except for the Supreme Court.  The vote was 52-48 with three Democrats voting in opposition along with all Republicans.  In effect the vote kills the filibuster since the majority may get rid of it completely at any time the majority wishes.  That this throws out some 225 years of Senate tradition meant less than nothing to Reid and his colleagues, desperate to turn attention away from the disaster called ObamaCare and eager to implement Obama’s scheme to pack the federal appellate courts, especially the DC Circuit, with judges who will uphold the actions of this administration.

The Majority in the Senate always hates the filibuster and the Minority always loves it.  There have been many threats by majorities to take away the filibuster, but until yesterday such threats were never carried out.  Why?  Majorities in the past always realized that one day they would be in the minority, fear of retaliation by the minority in obstructing  the work of the Senate and also a realization that the filibuster normally forced the majority and the minority to work together to some extent, unlike the House.  Such reasons held no weight with the Democrats yesterday, apparently the senators with Ds after their names, with three exceptions, lacking any concern with what the morrow will bring. Continue Reading

2

Maybe We Should Take Up a Collection?

 

 

Well it’s a Friday, I will be picking up my son for Thanksgiving Break and then tomorrow, he, my bride and I will be going to Monmouth College to see my daughter performing in A Christmas Carol.  Life is good, and the story below makes it even better:

Veteran House Democratic aides are sick over the insurance prices they’ll pay under Obamacare, and they’re scrambling to find a cure.

“In a shock to the system, the older staff in my office (folks over 59) have now found out their personal health insurance costs (even with the government contribution) have gone up 3-4 times what they were paying before,” Minh Ta, chief of staff to Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), wrote to fellow Democratic chiefs of staff in an email message obtained by POLITICO. “Simply unacceptable.” Continue Reading

13

PopeWatch: Rabbi Skorka

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The Washington Post has an interesting interview with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, an Argentinian Conservative, that is a religious not a political designation, Rabbi.   Lots of background on his relations with the Pope in Argentina.  PopeWatch found this passage especially intriguing:

Skorka said the pope’s study was filled with papers on chairs and books on the floor. (”Don’t imagine everything is ordered,” the rabbi said, laughing.) One of the books had been sent and inscribed by the dissident theologian Hans Kung. “Both of us stood one very close to the other trying to read the German dedication,” Skorka said. “Something like, ‘You already did a lot, but the world expects from you to continue doing very important things.’”

The rabbi said the pope is aware that some religious conservatives, inside and outside the church, are unsettled by his approach. Francis has said Catholic leaders have been driving people away by talking too much about divisive social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. The pope has dropped some of the more regal trappings of the papacy. He uses a Ford Focus instead of fancier cars in the Vatican fleet and wears only the most basic clothes.

“He is receiving very, very harsh criticism from people who don’t like a pope without red shoes, and a pope who speaks to people in a very simple and direct language, and a pope who will transmit to people that he is close to them, that he in some way hugs them through jokes and through simple words and through simple expressions,” Skorka said. “The criticism he is suffering from is not new for him. He already had this kind of pressures and other kind of pressures during his serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, so he knows exactly how to handle these pressures. He’s a very strong man and he will go ahead.” Continue Reading

9

November 22, 1963: CS Lewis Dies

Did you mark how naturally – as if he’d been born for it – the earthborn vermin entered the new life? How all his doubts became, in the twinkling of an eye, ridiculous? I know what the creature was saying to itself! “Yes. Of course. It always was like this. All horrors have followed the same course, getting worse and worse and forcing you into a kind of bottle-neck till, at the very moment when you thought you must be crushed, behold! you were out of the narrows and all was suddenly well. The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you woke. You die and die and then you are beyond death. How could I ever have doubted it?

As he saw you, he also saw Them. I know how it was. You reeled back dizzy and blinded, more hurt by them than he had ever been by bombs. The degradation of it! – that this thing of earth and slime could stand upright and converse with spirits before whom you, a spirit, could only cower. Perhaps you had hoped that the awe and strangeness of it would dash his joy. But that is the cursed thing; the gods are strange to mortal eyes, and yet they are not strange. He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realised what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not “Who are you?” but “So it was you all the time”. All that they were and said at this meeting woke memories. The dim consciousness of friends about him which had haunted his solitudes from infancy was now at last explained; that central music in every pure experience which had always just evaded memory was now at last recovered. Recognition made him free of their company almost before the limbs of his corpse became quiet. Only you were left outside.

He saw not only Them; he saw Him. This animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him. What is blinding, suffocating fire to you, is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a Man. You would like, if you could, to interpret the patient’s prostration in the Presence, his self-abhorrence and utter knowledge of his sins (yes, Wormwood, a clearer knowledge even than yours) on the analogy of your own choking and paralysing sensations when you encounter the deadly air that breathes from the heart of Heaven. But it’s all nonsense. Pains he may still have to encounter, but they embrace those pains. They would not barter them for any earthly pleasure.

CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

 

38

November 22, 1963: Kennedy Assassinated

Hard to believe that the Kennedy assassination was half a century ago.  Back in 1963 I was in second grade, but I was not in school.  Sick with pneumonia, my mother had taken me to the doctor and he had prescribed penicillin.  After getting my prescription filled my mother took me home.  She turned on our television set and I planted myself on the couch to watch it.  As we watched television we saw the initial news flashes that President Kennedy had been shot.  This was on a Friday, and the remainder of that day and the weekend, my mother, father and I and my brother practically lived in front of the television set, riveted by the around the clock coverage, something unprecedented in this country before that dreadful day.

America was stunned at the idea that a President could be assassinated.  It had been 62 years since the last President had been assassinated and the country had grown complacent.  Conspiracy theories began almost at once, fueled by the surrealist murder of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby and by the inability of liberals to accept that their icon John F. Kennedy, ironically a very centrist Democrat, had been felled by a deranged Marxist, rather than by some sinister right wing cabal.

What was the impact of the Kennedy assassination on American history?  Probably minimal.  The economy was in good shape so Kennedy was doubtless going to be re-elected in 1964, especially with newsmen not covering his constant womanizing and his addiction to painkillers from a back injury he sustained during World War II.  Contrary to the imaginings of some liberal commentators, Kennedy was a cold warrior to his core, and the idea that he would have avoided the Vietnam War is fanciful. Continue Reading

8

Barry Manilow Would Have Done it for Me

 

 

As I used to tell my kids, it’s a crazy world out there, and it gets a little crazier every day:

 

A McDonald’s outlet in Australia has begun playing classical musical and opera late at night to deter young people from loitering around the restaurant.

21

ObamaCare Crashes, And So Does Obama

One could not ask for a better symbol of ObamaCare than yesterday when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the woman purportedly in charge of this mess, was meeting with ObamaCare “navigators”, and I love the Orwellian implications of that title, and the ObamaCare website crashed.

The remarkable thing about this fiasco on stilts is that the Obama administration knew, or should have known, that the website was not going to work.  Obama could have simply announced that he was going to delay the individual mandate for a time period which would have given time to at least make the website operational.  Why didn’t they?

Overwhelming hubris I think.  Shielded by a sycophantic press from every other disaster that has hit the country under his misrule, I think Obama assumed that this would be the same.  Every problem encountered with the website or implementation of  ObamaCare could be blamed on those obstructionist Republicans.  Indeed, Obama is still trying to do this now, when it is obvious that such an absurd strategy is not working and cannot work.

Obama forgot the first rule of politics:  reality always wins in the end.  A website that does not work, mass cancellations of insurance policies, sky-rocketing premiums and deductibles, less choice regarding doctors and hospitals, these are the reality of the hilariously named Affordable Care Act.  No amount of speeches, no biased news coverage, no liberal true believers on blogs can alter it. Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: Here I Leave my Pain

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Vincio Riva, who the Pope embraced, see picture below, has spoken out:

Pope and_man_suffering_from_boils_in_Saint_Peters

Mr Riva told the magazine he had spent a lifetime living on the margins of society in Vicenza, northern Italy, where his younger sisters and late mother also suffered from the same rare disease.

In the past he has made a number of visits to Lourdes, a Catholic shrine in France which is the site of thousands of religious pilgrimages every year, until a travelling companion this year suggested he go to Rome.

Mr Riva spoke of his shock when, after meeting Pope Francis and kissing his hand, the Pontiff then pulled the 53-year-old towards him.

“What most astonished me is that he didn’t think twice on embracing me,” Mr Riva said. “I’m not contagious, but he didn’t know. He just did it; he caressed all my face, and while he was doing that, I felt only love.

“I tried to speak, to tell him something, but I couldn’t: The emotion was too strong.”

Afterwards, Mr Riva turned to his aunt who accompanied him to the Vatican and said: “Here I leave my pain.” Continue Reading

11

I Am Shocked! Shocked!: Obama Omits Under God

Obama reads a version of the Gettysburg Address that omits God?  Say it isn’t true!

 

President Obama irked some conservatives with his recitation of the Gettysburg Address, which he read aloud as part of a project celebrating the 150th anniversary of famous Lincoln speech.

For the project, spearheaded by documentarian Ken Burns, a number of politicians and other high-profile people recorded themselves reading the Gettysburg Address.

Some conservatives took offense to the president’s reading.

 “Lincoln added ‘Under God’ as he was looking out over battlefield. why would Obama remove?” Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Twitter.

Conservative Christian leader Bryan Fischer added “Obama’s omission of ‘under God’ is more evidence of his anti-Christian bigotry. He honors Islam but disrespects Christianity.”

 White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday gave a simple explanation for the reading.

 “He read the version of the address that Ken Burns provided,” he said, noting that Burns is a “noted Civil War scholar.”

 Specifically, Carney said that Burns gave Mr. Obama the “Nicolay copy” of the Gettysburg Address — the first draft of the speech, named after John Nicolay, the White House staffer who preserved it.

 

Ken Burns is such a silly liberal squish that I can imagine him wanting to chase God out of the occasion.  However, in regard to Obama he either thought getting God out was a grand idea, or he was too unfamiliar with the Gettysburg address to realize the omission.  Here is the background story on the inclusion of the phrase under God in the original speech:

We have five drafts of the Gettysburg address that Lincoln wrote:  three have the phrase “under God” and two do not.  That Lincoln  spoke the phrase during the Gettysburg address we can be certain of, because three reporters were present when he gave the speech, and all three have “under God” in their accounts of Lincoln’s speech. Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: Down the Memory Hole

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Well that took long enough.  The infamous Scalfari interview has been removed from the Vatican website.

 

An interview Pope Francis gave to the atheist writer  Eugenio Scalfari and published on Oct. 1 was removed from the Vatican  website on Nov. 15 because not “each individual point analyzed” in the  piece is reliable, said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi.

“The information in the interview is reliable on a general level but  not on the level of each individual point analysed,” Fr. Lombardi said  on Friday.  “This is why it was decided the text should not be available  for consultation on the Holy See website. Its removal is a final update  on the nature of this text. Some mistakes were made regarding its  value, which was questioned. The Secretariat of State took the  decision.” Continue Reading

4

Get Thee Behind Abe, Editors!

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Hattip to Steven Hayward at Powerline.   Decades ago I recall watching a commercial, see the video below, where Abraham Lincoln is turned down for an executive position because he lacked a college degree.   I have often thought that Lincoln would not have been Lincoln without the arduous process of self education that he continued throughout his life.  (During his election campaign in 1860 he was pained to see that his campaign claimed that he had read Plutarch’s Lives.  He hadn’t, but he took time  out to do so before he was elected.)  Of course in his day it was not unusual for a self taught man to rise high politically.  In our day it is almost unthinkable, Harry Truman being the last president who did not attend college.  This is a great pity.  Self taught men and women can sometimes end up as town cranks or bores at bars, but sometimes they bring vitality and fresh insights that cannot be taught at any institution of higher learning, and their intellects are sharpened by their lonely quest for knowledge.  Lincoln regretted his lack of almost any formal education, but in his case I suspect his genius would have been lessened by it. Continue Reading

5

Oops! You Are Peter!

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Kipling, The Gods of the Copybook Headings

 

 

The ongoing debacle that is ObamaCare just keeps rolling on:

 

 

OLYMPIA, Nov. 17.—Jessica Sanford, the Federal Way woman who got a shout-out from President Obama last month with her fan letter for the Affordable Care Act, got a rather rude awakening last week. Turns out she doesn’t qualify for a tax credit after all.

At least that’s what the letter said that she got from the state. Now she says her dream of affordable health insurance has gone poof. She can’t afford it. She’ll have to go without. “I’m really terribly embarrassed,” she says. “It has completely turned around on me. I mean, completely.”

Chalk it up to a bollixed-up state website that apparently still has major problems. Originally it said Sanford and her child would get a whopping tax credit that would reduce their total premium to $169 a month. Now the state is telling her it goofed – twice – and she has to pay full ticket. There may even be a third goof involved: At least one health-insurance broker says she may qualify for a tax credit after all, albeit a small one. Officials at the state Healthplanfinder website could not be contacted Sunday night. But it just goes to show that even in the state of Washington, which has earned national kudos for a health-insurance exchange that seems to function better than the dysfunctional federal website, there are big, big problems.

“They have to own up to what is going on,” Sanford says. “They have to fix it. They can’t just go around and say this is working great. In my opinion they ought to shut it down and just get all of it straightened out.” Continue Reading

1

November 19, 1863: Lincoln Delivers The Gettysburg Address

 

 

 

Presidents during their presidencies make hundreds of speeches.  Most are utterly forgotten soon after they are delivered.  Even most of the speeches by a president who is also a skilled orator, as Lincoln was, are recalled only by historians and trivia buffs.  Yet the Gettysburg address has achieved immortality.

Lincoln was invited to say a few words at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.  The featured speaker was Edward Everett, one of the most accomplished men in American public life, who gave a two hour oration.  It is a fine example of nineteenth century oratory, full of learning, argument and passion.  It may seem very odd to contemplate in our sound bite age, but audiences in America in Lincoln’s time expected these type of lengthy excursions into eloquence and felt cheated when a speaker skimped on either length or ornateness in his efforts.

Lincoln then got up and spoke for two minutes.

We are not really sure what Lincoln said.  There are two drafts of the speech in Lincoln’s hand, and they differ from each other.  It is quite likely that neither reflects precisely the words that Lincoln used in the Gettysburg Address.  For the sake of simplicity, and because it is the version people usually think of when reference is made to the Gettysburg address, the text used here is the version carved on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle- field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Here was the masterpiece of Lincoln’s passion for concise, almost terse, argument.  No doubt many in the audience were amazed when Lincoln sat down, probably assuming that this was a preamble to his main speech.

“Fourscore and seven years ago”

Lincoln starts out with an attention grabber.  Rather than the prosaic eighty-seven years, he treats his listeners to a poetic line that causes them to think and follow Lincoln back in time to the founding. Continue Reading

2

Gettysburg Address Medley

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a  new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men  are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any  nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great  battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a  final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might  live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not  hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have  consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will  little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what  they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the  unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It  is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us —  that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for  which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve  that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall  have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people,  for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

17

PopeWatch: Progressives

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As PopeWatch has noted, Pope Francis is a complicated man.  From a sermon yesterday, November 18, 2013:

God save us from the “hegemonic uniformity ” of the “one line of thought”, “fruit of the spirit of the world that negotiates everything”, even the faith.  This was Pope Francis’ prayer during mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta, commenting on a passage from the Book of Maccabees, in which the leaders of the people do not want Israel to be isolated from other nations , and so abandon their traditions to negotiate with the king.

 

They go to “negotiate ” and are excited about it. It is as if they said “we are progressives; let’s follow progress like everyone else does”.   As reported by Vatican Radio, the Pope noted that this is the “spirit of adolescent progressivism” according to which “any move forward and any choice is better than remaining within the routine of fidelity”. These people, therefore , negotiate “loyalty to God who is always faithful” with the king. “This is called apostasy”, “adultery.” They are, in fact, negotiating their values​​, ” negotiating the very essence of being faithful to the Lord .”
“And this is a contradiction: we do not negotiate values​​, but faithfulness. And this is the fruit of the devil, the prince of this world , who leads us forward with the spirit of worldliness.  And then there are the direct consequences. They accepted the habits of the pagan, then a further step: the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and everyone would abandon their customs. A globalizing conformity of all nations is not beautiful, rather, each with own customs but united, but it is the hegemonic uniformity of globalization, the single line of thought . And this single line of thought is the result of worldliness . “
And after “all peoples had adapted themselves to the king’s demands, they also accepted his cult , they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath .”Step by step”, the moved along this path. And in the end “the king raised an abomination upon the altar of devastation”. “But, Father , this also happens today ! . Yes, because the worldly spirit exists even today, even today it takes us with this desire to be progressive and have one single thought . If someone was found to have the Book of the Covenant and if someone obeyed the law, the king condemned them to death : and this we have read in the newspapers in recent months . These people have negotiated the fidelity to the Lord and this people , moved by the spirit of the world , negotiated their own identity , negotiated belonging to a people, a people that God loves so much that God desires to be like Him . “

The Pope then referred to the 20th century novel, “Master of the World” that focuses on “the spirit of worldliness that leads to apostasy”. Today it is thought that “we have to be like everyone else, we have to be more normal , like everyone else, with this adolescent progressivism .” And then “what follows is history”: “the death sentences, human sacrifices”. “But you think that today there are no human sacrifice s? There are many, many ! And there are laws that protect them .”
” But what consoles us faced with the progress of this worldly spirit, the prince of this world , the path of infidelity, is that the Lord is always here, that he can not deny Himself , the Faithful One : He is always waiting for us, He loves us so much and He forgives us when we repent for a few steps, for some small steps in this spirit of worldliness, we go to him, the faithful God. With the spirit of the Church’s children, we pray to the Lord for His goodness, His faithfulness to save us from this worldly spirit that negotiates all , to protect us and let us move forward, as his people did through the desert , leading them by the hand like a father leads his child. The hand of the Lord is a sure guide”.

Continue Reading

23

PopeWatch: Sarah Palin

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Sarah Palin and Pope Francis!  Yes, PopeWatch is shooting for a thousand hits on this post!  Last week Sarah ran afoul of what PopeWatch assumes must be a new eleventh commandment:  Thou shalt not criticize Pope Francis!  Here is the offending video:

Gasp!

She actually said that she was taken aback because of a few things she had heard in the media indicating that some of the stances of the Pope seem liberal, but she goes on to state that she has not studied this in detail and that she was not going to trust the media.  PopeWatch thinks that such mild comments might even pass muster with a Francis defender like Mark Shea, who, if the Pope ever decreed that all Catholics must paint their bottoms yellow, would no doubt only inquire what shade.

So far, so banal.  However, what is interesting is that Palin felt compelled to apologize the next day:

3

The Prayer Before the Speeches

Stockton

 

Thomas H. Stockton in 1863 was pastor of the First Methodist Church in Philadelphia.  A man with many political connections, he had been chaplain of the United States House of Representatives in 1833, 1835, 1859 and 1861.  It was therefore no surprise that he was chosen to give the invocation on November 18, 1863 at the opening of the Gettysburg National Cemetery.  He was in ill health and looked older than his 55 years, but he would live another five years and he had energy enough for the task before him.  Here is his prayer: Continue Reading

9

Blame Dallas!

 

 

Lee Harvy Oswald

 

The 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination will be coming up on Friday, and I have a post in the pipeline for that day, but I had to comment on this piece by James McAuley in The New York Times:

 

 

For the last 50 years, a collective culpability has quietly propelled the city to outshine its troubled past without ever actually engaging with it. To be fair, pretending to forget has helped Dallas achieve some remarkable accomplishments in those years, like the completion of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the development of the astonishingly successful Cowboys franchise and the creation of what remains one of the country’s most electric local economies.       

But those are transient triumphs in the face of what has always been left unsaid, what the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald once called the “dark night of the soul,” on which the bright Texas sun has yet to rise. The far right of 1963 and the radicalism of my grandparents’ generation may have faded in recent years, they remain very much alive in Dallas. Look no further than the troop of gun-rights activists who appeared just days ago, armed and silent, outside a meeting of local mothers concerned about gun violence. If this is what counts as responsible civic dialogue, then Dallas has a long way still to go.       

This year Dallas has a chance to grapple with the painful legacy of 1963 in public and out loud. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen, although the city did quietly host a symposium on whether it really deserved to be labeled “the city of hate” earlier this month.       

But when the national cameras start rolling on Nov. 22, Dealey Plaza, the abandoned, almost spectral site of the assassination and now of the commemoration, will have been retouched in a fresh coat of literal and figurative white paint. Cosmetics seem to be all we can expect.       

“This is not a group psychology lesson,” Mike Rawlings, the mayor, told me over lunch recently. “We can do what we can do. I guess I could bring up all the relatives of the people that said bad things. But why would you do that?”       

To which, of course, there is nothing to say. Continue Reading

38

An object lesson in fearlessness when defending Church teaching…

 

When it comes to controversy, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield (Illinois) is no stranger. This prelate is fearless when defending Church teaching.

According to Breitbart.com, Bishop Paprocki will perform the Rite of Exorcism on Wednesday, November 20, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception located in the state capital. The rite is officially being called “Prayers of Supplication and Exorcism in Reparation for the Sin of Same-Sex Marriage.” Bishop Paprocki believes that so-called “homosexual marriage” is the work of the devil and, in this instance, Satan not only can inhabit people but also can invade the Church and the government. He said:

We must pray for deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our Church.

On the same day as the Rite of Exorcism, Illinois’ Governor–himself a Roman Catholic, Pat Quinn, is scheduled to sign Illinois’ homosexual marriage bill into law.

paprocki

Bishop Thomas Paprocki
Diocese of Springfield (Illinois)

Bishop Paprocki’s rationale for leading this particular Rite of Exorcism is to follow in the footsteps of Pope Francis who, as an archbishop in Argentina, called the country’s legalization of homosexual marriage “a move of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.” The Bishop said:

The Pope’s reference to “father of lies” comes from the Gospel of John, where Jesus refers to the devil as “a liar and father of lies,” so Pope Francis is saying that same-sex marriage comes from the devil and should be condemned as such.

As The Motley Monk reported in a previous post, it was Bishop Paprocki who used the “b” word to describe praying for so-called homosexual marriage (praying for same-sex marriage should be seen as blasphemous“) .

The Motley Monk is now wondering how long it will take before  the Rainbow Sash Coalition denounces Bishop Paprocki for following in the Holy Father’s footsteps? 

 

 

To read the article in Breitbart.com, click on the following link:
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/11/16/Illinois-bishop-plans-same-sex-marriage-exorcism

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

November 17, 1973: I Am Not a Crook

Hard to believe that it is forty years since the infamous “I am not a crook” news conference of President Nixon.  The video clip gives a taste of the surreal quality of those times.  For the sake of attempting to cover up a politically inspired burglary in a presidential election that the Democrats were busily throwing away, Nixon in 1972 embarked on a cover-up that eventually destroyed his Presidency, with his resignation in disgrace coming in August of 1974.

Greek tragedy is too mild a term to apply when discussing the presidency of Nixon.  Dealt a bad hand in Vietnam, he extricated the country from Vietnam while building up the South Vietnamese military to the extent that they could hold their own against the North Vietnamese, as long as supplies kept flowing from the US and their ground forces were supported by American air power.  His diplomatic opening to Red China was a masterful, if fairly obvious, strategic win over the Soviets.  Talks with the Soviets helped lower the temperature of the Cold War.  Domestically Nixon was the liberal Republican he always was, with wage and price controls and an expansion of the Federal government.

The ironic thing about Nixon is that he was hated by liberals and the elite media, yet on domestic policy questions he was in virtual lockstep with them, including on abortion which he was privately in favor of, although he publicly opposed it.  The intense hatred went back to Nixon’s early political career where he used anti-communism to win both his House seat and his Senate seat.  Nixon also committed the unforgivable sin of being right about Alger Hiss being a Soviet agent. Continue Reading

4

Hometown Paper

 

 

 

For decades I was a subscriber to the Chicago Tribune.  The traditionally Republican paper in Chicago, for many decades it was the voice of Republicanism, and sometimes conservatism, throughout the Midwest.  In the nineties I noticed that The Trib was changing.  It was hiring more liberal columnists and the editorials took on an increasingly liberal flavor.  The paper would still usually endorse Republicans at election time, but the endorsements were pro forma.  Additionally, The Trib rarely had anything to say about the corruption that infested both parties and was busily producing the bankrupt Illinois that exists today.  One columnist who was, and is, a bright light at The Trib, John Kass, constantly attacked “the Combine”, as he called it, that ruled both parties and  made sure that insiders profited at the expense of the tax payers.

After my family became hooked up to the internet at the end of the nineties, living in a rural area did have its disadvantages back then in reference to obtaining a reliable internet service, I no longer needed The Trib for news, but I kept it out of inertia, although I was extremely unhappy with its increasingly leftist editorial views.  The inertia came to an end when The Trib endorsed Obama in 2008.  That ended my subscription, along with the subscriptions of quite a few other downstaters.  I noticed after the fact that I didn’t miss the paper.  It had become an anachronism in the age of the internet.  My wife still buys a copy at Thanksgiving for the black Friday ads, but that is the only time a copy of The Trib enters McClarey Manor.  The Trib endorsed Obama again in 2012 and its transformation into just another big city liberal rag seemed complete.

I was therefore surprised, and no doubt Obama was also, by The Trib’s editorial last Friday calling for the repeal of ObamaCare:

 

As Friday dawns, here’s what a health insurance crisis looks like to many millions of Americans: Barely six weeks shy of 2014, they do not know whether they will have medical coverage Jan. 1. Or which hospitals and doctors they might patronize. Or what they may pay to protect themselves and their families against the chance of medical and financial catastrophe. How much, that is, they may pay in order to satisfy the Democratic politicians and federal bureaucrats who are worsening a metastasizing health coverage fiasco.

For perhaps 5 million of those Americans thus far — estimates vary — the Washington-ordered cancellation of their policies is especially maddening. In the past these people took responsibility for their coverage and bought policies that balanced their needs, finances and personal choices. Congress and President Barack Obama, by enacting the Affordable Care Act, in effect ordered insurers to dismantle many of those individual plans — and cancel those policies.

The Americans manhandled by this exercise in government arrogance now find themselves divided into warring tribes: Those with chronic ailments who have found new plans on Obamacare exchanges and are pleased. Those who don’t want or can’t afford the replacement policies Obamacare offers them. Those whose new policies block them from using the health providers who have treated them for many years. The estimated 23 million to 41 million people whose employer-sponsored plans are the next to be imperiled. And on and on.

Most of these tribespeople only wish their big problem was a slipshod Obamacare website. On Thursday, their plight grew more frightful. With even Democratic members of Congress storming the White House over the cancellations, Obama declared — by what legal authority is unclear — that he would overrule the law he signed in 2010 and allow insurers to extend those canceled policies for a year.

If, that is, insurance regulators of the 50 states permit this potential distortion to risk pools inside and outside of Obamacare. The regulators, including those in Illinois, had better put protection ahead of politics: Within two hours of Obama’s announcement, Mike Kreidler, insurance commissioner of Washington, a Democrat-leaning state, rejected the president’s notion, citing “its potential impact on the overall stability of our health insurance market. … We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies.” Continue Reading

6

PopeWatch: Atheists Praying for Pope

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

PopeWatch has always treasured the line in A Man For All Seasons where Saint Thomas More notes that the World must construe according to its wits.  Alas, looking at such constructions often leaves one assuming that the World, in general, is completely witless.  Case in point an opinion piece by Jonathan Freedland that ran in The Guardian, that rag in England that makes Karl Marx appear positively moderate by comparison:

“My thoughts turn to all who are unemployed, often as a result of a self-centred mindset bent on profit at any cost,” he tweeted in May. A day earlier he denounced as “slave labour” the conditions endured by Bangladeshi workers killed in a building collapse. In September he said that God wanted men and women to be at the heart of the world and yet we live in a global economic order that worships “an idol called money”.

There is no denying the radicalism of this message, a frontal and sustained attack on what he calls “unbridled capitalism“, with its “throwaway” attitude to everything from unwanted food to unwanted old people. His enemies have certainly not missed it. If a man is to be judged by his opponents, note that this week Sarah Palin denounced him as “kind of liberal” while the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs has lamented that this pope lacks the “sophisticated” approach to such matters of his predecessors. Meanwhile, an Italian prosecutor has warned that Francis’s campaign against corruption could put him in the crosshairs of that country’s second most powerful institution: the mafia.

As if this weren’t enough to have Francis’s 76-year-old face on the walls of the world’s student bedrooms, he also seems set to lead a church campaign on the environment. He was photographed this week with anti-fracking activists, while his biographer, Paul Vallely, has revealed that the pope has made contact with Leonardo Boff, an eco-theologian previously shunned by Rome and sentenced to “obsequious silence” by the office formerly known as the “Inquisition”. An encyclical on care for the planet is said to be on the way. Continue Reading

12

A Silly Retraction

 

 

 

As faithful readers of this blog know, there are few bigger fans of Mr. Lincoln than me, and I completely concur with Sir Winston Churchill that the Gettysburg Address  is “The ultimate expression of the majesty of Shakespeare’s language.” 

That having been said I found profoundly silly a retraction which appears in the Patriot News newspaper:

We write today in reconsideration of “The Gettysburg Address,” delivered by then-President Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the greatest conflict seen on American soil. Our predecessors, perhaps under the influence of partisanship, or of strong drink, as was common in the profession at the time, called President Lincoln’s words “silly remarks,” deserving “a veil of oblivion,” apparently believing it an indifferent and altogether ordinary message, unremarkable in eloquence and uninspiring in its brevity.

The retraction goes on to state:

In the editorial about President Abraham Lincoln’s speech delivered Nov. 19, 1863, in Gettysburg, the Patriot & Union failed to recognize its momentous importance, timeless eloquence, and lasting significance. The Patriot-News regrets the error.

 

Go here to read the rest.  This rubs me the wrong way.  Apologizing for the actions of men long dead always strikes me as asinine.  The men who penned the original editorial cannot defend their opinion now.  If they could, they probably would note that they reflected a large body of Northern opinion that viewed the War as a tragic mistake, brought on by abolitionist fanaticism, which caused over a million homes in the North to be draped in mourning.  I view such arguments as being completely erroneous, but I leave to those who made such arguments the dignity to which they are entitled of being participants in the maelstrom of devastating events who were honestly stating their views.  To have successors a century and a half later glibly denouncing their views, even attributing such views to strong drink, insults them and insults the historical record.  It is part and parcel of a historical myopia which views the present as perfect and entitled to denounce the benighted individuals who had the misfortune to live before our enlightened times.  The simple truth is that we, just as much as those in the past we denounce, are in many ways prisoners of our times, often taking our attitudes and beliefs from those that enjoy popularity in our day.  I have absolutely no doubt that the successors of the papers which praised the Gettysburg Address one hundred and fifty years ago, might well be denouncing it today, if the War, and all our subsequent history, had turned out differently.  If one wishes to truly understand history, and the passions of the men and women who lived through it, one must be willing to understand what motivated them, why they did what they did.  This foolish retraction teaches us nothing about history, but quite a bit about how the Present usually is a bad judge of the Past, at least if we wish to understand the Past.  Here is a portion of the original editorial: Continue Reading

2

Song of the Rebel Irish

Something for the weekend.  Song of the Rebel Irish, a deleted scene from the movie Gods and Generals.  Of course it is impossible for me to recall that film without also playing the video of the stunning introduction with Civil War banners set to the haunting strains of Mary Fahl’s Going Home: Continue Reading

9

PopeWatch: Hermeneutic of Continuity

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Hattip to Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings.

This is interesting:

All the below is via Rorate, and before them via Sandro Magister.  Apparently, Pope Francis sent a letter to Bishop Marchetto, a former curial official.  He has authored a book that advocates for Pope Benedict’s “hermeneutic of reform in continuity” entitled The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: A counterpoint for the history of the Council, which I have never read but is claimed to take a fairly traditional view of the Council and criticizes the progressive interpretation and implementation of Vatican II.

Pope Francis sent Bishop Marchetto a letter that not only calls Bishop Marchetto the “best interpreter” of Vatican II (would it not be preferable had the Council had the precision of a Trent or Vatican I where there was NO interpretation, because it’s meaning was crystalline?) but also thanks the bishop for correcting the Pope on some point.  The letter is below:

Dear Abp. Marchetto,

 

With these lines I wish to be close to you and join myself to the act of presentation of the book “Primato pontificio ed episcopato. Dal primo millennio al Concilio ecumenico Vaticano II” [Pontifical primacy and epicopate: from the first millennium to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council”] I beg you to consider myself spiritually present [there].

 

The topic of the book is an homage to the love that you have for the Church, a loyal and at the same time poetic love. Loyalty and poetry are not an object of trade: they cannot be bought or sold, they simply are virtues that are rooted in a heart of a son who feels the Church to be a Mother; or, in order to be more precise, and saying it with an Ignatian familiar “tone”, as “the Holy Mother Hierarchical Church”.  

 

You have made this love manifest in many ways, including correcting a mistake or imprecision on my part – and for that I thank you from my heart -, but above all it is manifest in all your purity in the studies made on the Second Vatican Council. I once told you, dear Abp. Marchetto, and I wish to repeat it today, that I consider you to be the best interpreter of the Second Vatican Council.  

 

I know that this is a gift from God, but I also know that you made it bear fruit. I am grateful to you for all the good that you do for us with your testimony of love for the Church, and I ask the Lord that you be abundantly blessed.

 

I beg you please not to forget to pray for me. May Jesus bless you, and may the Virgin protect you.

 

Vatican, October 7, 2013
Fraternally,
Francis
Very interesting.  And perhaps very reassuring. We certainly seem to get widely variant presentations, if you will, of who Pope Francis is and what he believes, sometimes, I must say, even from the Pope himself.  There are denunciations of Pelagian restorationists but then there is more talk of satan than we’ve heard from a Pontiff in decades.  The rhetoric and emphases vary widely depending on who the audience of the moment is.  It could be that Pope Francis is an incredibly complex man with a deep but very subtle theology, or  there are other, less flattering interpretations of this conduct. Continue Reading