Happy 240th Birthday to the Corps!

Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.

President Ronald Reagan, letter to Lance Corporal Joe Hickey, September 23, 1983

On November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress passed this resolution authored by John Adams:

“Resolved, That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said battalions but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve with advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by names of First and Second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.”

At the various birthday celebrations by the Marine Corps today, the song given pride of place will of course be the Marines’ Hymn.  The oldest of the official songs of a branch of the US military, the composer of the Marines’ Hymn is unknown, but is thought to have been a Marine serving in Mexico during the Mexican War, hence the “Halls of Montezuma”.  The music is taken from the Gendarmes Duet from the Opera Genevieve de Brabant, written by Jacques Offenback in 1859.

Prior to 1929 the first verse used to end:

” Admiration of the nation,
we’re the finest ever seen;
And we glory in the title
Of United States Marines”

which the then Commandant of the Marine Corps changed to the current lines.  On November 21, 1942,  Commandant Thomas Holcomb approved a change in the words of the first verse’s fourth line from “On the land as on the sea” to “In the air, on land, and sea”.

My favorite rendition of the hymn is in the movie The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)  This film earned John Wayne his first Oscar nomination as best actor.  (Broderick Crawford would win for his stunning performance in All The King’s Men.)   Wayne was initially reluctant to take the role, partly because he had not fought in World War II, and partly because he saw script problems and didn’t like the character of Sergeant Styker as initially written in the screen play.  (There is evidence that Wayne, 34 at the time of Pearl Harbor, and with 3 kids, did attempt to volunteer in 1943 for the Marine Corps with assignment to John Ford’s OSS Field Photographic Unit, but was turned down.)  Continue reading

November 10, 1975: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Forty years ago today the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank on November 10, 1975.  Launched in 1958, she was then the freighter was the largest ship on the Great Lakes and she remains the largest ship to have sunk on the Lakes.  For 17 years she transported taconite iron ore from Duluth to various ports on the Great Lakes.

The Fitzgerald left Superior on November 9, 1975 bound for a steel mill near Detroit.  She and a companion ship SS Arthur Anderson were caught the next day on Lake Superior in a very severe storm with near hurricane.  The Fitzgerald suddenly sank in 530 feet of water at 7:10 PM, 15 miles from the safety of Whitefish Bay.  All 29 members of the crew perished, none of their bodies ever recovered.

The reason for the sinking remains unclear, although I lean towards the theory that some of the cargo hatches were not securely fastened, and that water leaking into the holds imperceptibly led to the sinking once the tipping point was reached.

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was written by Gordon Lightfoot after he read a story about the sinking. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Father Antonio Spadaro, SJ, The Jesuit’s Jesuit



Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa believes that he knows what the Pope is going to do in regard to Communion for Catholics in adulterous marriages, and it is bad news for those who believe that Christ was not simply running His mouth when he gave his command regarding marriage:

ROME, November 7, 2015 – Last Wednesday, at the weekly catechesis in Saint Peter’s Square, after recalling that the synod fathers have delivered the text of their conclusions to him, Pope Francis limited himself to saying in sibylline language:

“This is not the moment to examine such conclusions, on which I myself must meditate.”

While waiting for the enigma on the pope’s future moves to be unraveled, nothing remains but to rely on an indirect but sure herald of his intentions: the Jesuit Antonio Spadaro with the magazine that he directs, “La Civiltà Cattolica.”

For Pope Francis, Fr. Spadaro is everything. Advisor, interpreter, confidant, scribe. There is no counting the things that he incessantly writes about the pope: books, articles, tweets. Not to mention the papal discourses that show the mark of his hand.

This is why one cannot overlook the account of the synod that Spadaro has written in the latest issue of “La Civiltà Cattolica,” as always printed only after its proofs went through Casa Santa Marta and received the placet of the supreme authority. Continue reading

Reagan Radio Addresses

Back during the 1970s I was in college as an undergraduate.  I was unable to hear him consistently, but I always enjoyed Ronald Reagan’s daily three minute radio broadcasts whenever I head them.  From 1975-1979 he gave over a 1000 of them and he personally wrote around 700 of them.  This was an unusually effective mode of campaigning for President.  He became a familiar figure to younger Americans who did not recall his Hollywood days, and honed his thoughts on the issues of the day.  Derided as an “amiable dunce” by some of his opponents, Reagan came to the White House as a man with a well developed political philosophy who had thought and written about virtually all the issues he would confront as President.  Reagan was far closer to being the mastermind portrayed in the hilarious Saturday Night Live skit linked below than he was to the idiotic actor of the fantasies of most of his political adversaries who stood by helplessly, shocked as he won the Presidency twice and became the most consequential president since Harry Truman. Continue reading

Dissolving Catholicism




I am so glad that Dale Price is once again regularly blogging at his blog Dyspeptic Mutterings, since my motto has always been to steal borrow from the best!


A useful short history of the king’s water can be found here.

Since 1965, Catholicism has had its own version of aqua regia, and the Church has been guzzling it. It’s called ecumenism, but it has gone well beyond rational discussion to a positive hysteria–ecumania, if you will. And it appears to have made ecumaniacs of the USCCB, what with their recommendation for expanded intercommunion.

Sounds positively ecumaniacal, in fact. A better dissolver of Catholic teaching you will not find.

Look, those close to me and my handful of devoted readers know I’m a convert from mainline Protestantism. I wasn’t practicing much before I converted. Honestly, if a Religion Detector Monitor had existed and I’d been hooked up to it, it probably would have read “Deist with a healthy measure of appreciation for Christendom and the Bible.”

I like to think that I’ve spent the last sixteen years becoming a somewhat useful disciple of Christ in His Catholic Church. Lord knows, I‘ve had my spiritual bumps on the way, and my worldview has shifted from 1999–in some ways, radically.

And my beloved wife and I have had some less than smooth sailing. We dropped her income when we had our second. And then our third came along–three kids in three calendar years plus 10 days. We’ve been crammed seven of us into 880 square feet with no basement or garage–that back in 2010. My car is older than all our kids. We’ve had other financial turbulence I’d rather not discuss.

Still, discipleship costs. I can accept that.  

And then I read that we really need to share the Eucharist with the titular Evangelical Lutherans (as opposed to, say, the evangelical Lutherans in the Missouri Synod–from whom the late Fr. Neuhaus sprang). Despite the fact that, you know, they don’t believe in all that Catholic crap.

Huh.  But, apparently, that’s not enough to deny the source and summit of the Christian life, the sacrament of Catholic unity, to members of an ecclesial community which is drifting further away from us in oh-so-many-ways.

The ELCA says that abortion is often a “morally responsible choice.” And while it claims to frown on abortions after “fetal viability,” baby-killing Doctor George Tiller was a member in good standing of the ELCA, as the church website solemnly notes. [And don’t even try to jump into my face suggesting I‘m happy with Tiller’s murder. WRONG.] Yeah–can’t wait to gather around the alt–er, table and sing Kumbaya.

But, we must march ahead. Forward, forward-always forward, eh, yes? No.

I mean, really–communion with the ELCA immerses Catholic witness in a vat of aqua regia, turning her gold into powder. On what basis do we require anyone to hold to the Catholic faith–much less to be properly disposed–before approaching the altar?

If you have a daughter undergoing first communion prep, why does she have to go to confession before receiving when the Lutherans do not

Or, more topically: Lutherans remarried after divorce: come on down for this moving ecumenical moment! 

Catholics–not so fast! Continue reading

Through a Howling Wilderness

American traitor Benedict Arnold, a 34 year old Connecticut merchant at the beginning of the Revolution, had considerable military ability, as he first demonstrated in his epic march through the Maine wilderness in September-November 1775 on his way to join in a two-pronged attack on Quebec, Brigadier General Richard Montgomery leading the other prong up Lake Champlain.  Traveling over 350 wilderness miles, ill-supplied, Arnold’s force of 1100 was reduced to 600 starving men by the time they reached the Saint Lawrence River on November 9, 1775 across from Quebec.  It was a miracle that Arnold was able to complete the march with such a sizable force.  On November 8, Arnold sent off a report to Washington: Continue reading

Quotes Suitable for Framing: George Orwell




A humanitarian is always a hypocrite, and Kipling’s understanding of this is perhaps the central secret of his power to create telling phrases. It would be difficult to hit off the one-eyed pacifism of the English in fewer words than in the phrase, “making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep.”

George Orwell, from a review of A Choice of Kipling’s Verse

Buffoon Exposed


Bill O’Reilly v. George Will in a battle of wits is akin to a theological debate between Mark Shea and Saint Thomas Aquinas.  Will is very full of himself and personifies the phrase “arrogant stuffed shirt” but he does a public service by stating the obvious truth  that O’Reilly is the most foolish type of fool:  one who thinks he a sage.  O’Reilly’s “Killing” books, written I assume by his co-author Martin Dugard, are the worst type of junk history:  factually weak, shabbily researched, pedestrian, at best, writing, zero historical context and always, always a conspiratorial slant.  They are fit only to serve as kindling.


Dugard sought research advice from former representative Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), who served in Reagan’s White House counsel’s office. Cox put Dugard in touch with former California governor Pete Wilson and several Reagan historians. Wilson and Cox warned that historians’ criticisms could hurt the book’s reception. Then O’Reilly charged on Fox News that Wilson and Cox somehow threatened him, adding gratuitously and falsely that Cox, as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, “presided over the mortgage debacle that collapsed the economy in 2007,” an explanation of the autumn 2008 collapse that is simply weird.

Cox put the book’s publisher in touch with Annelise Anderson, who, with her late husband, Marty, a longtime Reagan adviser, has authored and edited serious books about Reagan. She was offered $5,000 and given just one week to evaluate the manuscript. Having read it, she declined compensation, saying mildly, “I don’t think this manuscript is ready for publication.”

The book’s perfunctory pieties about Reagan’s greatness are inundated by its flood of regurgitated slanders about his supposed lassitude and manipulability. This book is nonsensical history and execrable citizenship, and should come with a warning: “Caution — you are about to enter a no-facts zone.”

PopeWatch: Beanie Babies



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


The Vatican’s leaks scandal intensified Tuesday after a book detailing the millions of euros Vatican officials used to purchase Beanie Babies and in-app Clash of Clans upgrades was published.

Although “Merchants in the Temple,” by journalist Roberto Nuzzi is due out Thursday, EOTT was able to obtain an advance copy. Its publication comes just days after the Vatican announced the arrests of two high-ranking officials who reportedly spent close to € 157,000 on pogs.

The arrests of the Vatican officials marks a new chapter in what many are calling “Vatileaks,” which began in 2012 and peaked with the conviction of Pope Benedict XVI’s butler on charges he spent upwards of 3.7 million euros on Super Soakers, Tickle Me Elmos, and Slap Bracelets.

After Benedict retired, Francis was elected with a mandate from his fellow cardinals to reform the Vatican bureaucracy and clean up its finances. He set out to create a commission of experts to gather information from all Vatican offices to see where the money was going.

“Holy Father…there is a complete absence of transparency in the bookkeeping both of the Holy See and the Governorate,” five auditors wrote Francis in 2013, according to Nuzzi’s book. “Costs are out of control and it is quite difficult to meet with anyone, due to the fact that many in the Vatican are often too busy playing Candy Crush.”

It goes on to mention that Vatican officials had spent all of 2014’s Peter’s Pence money in just over two months on Clash of Clans gem upgrades.

“Every day I walk the streets of Rome and see the homeless and other citizens of this city,” one anonymous Vatican official told EOTT. “Not on purpose…I mean I’m not trying to see them. I’d rather not see them, but since the homeless and other Romans are there walking, I am often forced to look up so I do not trip, but when I look up, I begin to lose in Clash of Clans. When I lose, I need to spend more money on the app. Since it is typically the fault of a drunk homeless man bumping into me on my way to work, then it should be the homeless man that pays for the in-app purchase. But they have no money, so I simply take it from Peter’s Pence. And like that, we are even. It all makes sense now?” Continue reading

The Regular Army O

Something for the weekend.  A Broadway tune of 1874, lyrics by Edward Harrigan and music by David Braham, The Regular Army O became extremely popular among the US regular army troops of the last quarter of the nineteenth century.  Troops are shown singing the song in the John Wayne flick Fort Apache (1948) but a video clip of the sequence is apparently not available on the internet, alas.

National Love Your Lawyer Day


Did you know that yesterday was National Love Your Lawyer Day?  Me neither.


Most people know a lawyer joke or two. But one association is asking people to refrain from making any digs at attorneys for one day in November in an effort to show appreciation for the profession.

As part of its annual National Love Your Lawyer Day, the American Lawyers Public Image Association is asking members of the public to donate $20 to their charity of choice for every lawyer joke they let slip on November 6. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Pact of the Catacombs-Part II




Thou shalt not do that which is unjust, nor judge unjustly. Respect not the person of the poor, nor honour the countenance of the mighty. But judge thy neighbour according to justice.

Leviticus 19: 15

The Pact of the Catacombs, go here to read the text of the Pact, is a pact taken at the Catacombs of Rome on November 16, 1965 by about 40 Bishops participating in Vatican II.  Although a quite obscure event ignored by most histories of Vatican II, the Pact, which went on to be signed by about 500 Bishops, most of them from Latin America, laid out a blue print for transforming the Church that has in some respects been carried out, to the detriment of the Church and her mission of bringing all men to Christ.  The errors that have resulted from the approach to the world suggested by the Pact, are glaringly evident in the text of the Pact.

9) Conscious of the demands of justice and charity, and their mutual relationship, we will seek to transform assistential activites into social works based on justice and charity, which take into account all that this requires, as a humble service of the competent public organs. Cf. Mt 25,31-46; Lc 13,12-14 e 33s.

The traditional charitable actions of the Church are to be transformed into works of the State.  This of course turns the Church into simply another pressure group soliciting largesse from Caesar on behalf of her clients, the poor.  The problems with this approach are many, but the fundamental error is that it converts the command of Christ for Christians to personally help the poor into a command for Catholics to pressure government to take over this job. Continue reading

Feeding Japan


The most pressing problem facing General Douglas MacArthur as the post war ruler of a devastated Japan was the prospect of famine.  MacArthur immediately set up feeding stations throughout Japan in order to feed the tens of millions of Japanese who had been left completely indigent as a result of the War.  News of this filtered back to the states and was ill received in an America still angry from a War begun by a sneak attack and in the throes of mourning 400,000 war dead.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff warned MacArthur against the gratuitous use of US supplies to relieve Japan. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Pact of the Catacombs-Part I




PopeWatch is embarrassed to admit that he had never heard of the Pact of the Catacombs until recently:


ROME (RNS) On the evening of Nov. 16, 1965, quietly alerted to the event by word-of-mouth, some 40 Roman Catholic bishops made their way to celebrate Mass in an ancient, underground basilica in the Catacombs of Domitilla on the outskirts of the Eternal City.

Both the place, and the timing, of the liturgy had a profound resonance: The church marked the spot where tradition said two Roman soldiers were executed for converting to Christianity. And beneath the feet of the bishops, and extending through more than 10 miles of tunnels, were the tombs of more than 100,000 Christians from the earliest centuries of the church.

In addition, the Mass was celebrated shortly before the end of the Second Vatican Council, the historic gathering of all the world’s bishops that over three years set the church on the path of reform and an unprecedented engagement with the modern world — launching dialogue with other Christians and other religions, endorsing religious freedom and moving the Mass from Latin to the vernacular, among other things.

But another concern among many of the 2,200 churchmen at Vatican II was to truly make Catholicism a “church of the poor,” as Pope John XXIII put it shortly before convening the council. The bishops who gathered for Mass at the catacombs that November evening were devoted to seeing that commitment become a reality.

Go here to read the rest.  Here is the text of the Pact of the Catacombs: Continue reading

November 5, 1775: Washington Ends Guy Fawkes Day


The idiotic anti-Catholic celebration of Guy Fawkes Day , observed each November fifth, was effectively ended two hundred and forty years ago in America during the Revolution, in large part due to George Washington.  Here is his order on November 5, 1775:

As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope–He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain’d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada. Continue reading

Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui Pregnant



For a financial scandal to have legs there usually must be a sex scandal component.  Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, at the center of the exploding Vatican financial scandal as a suspected leaker, has announced that she is pregnant. This has all the potential makings of an Italian sex farce film circa 1975, for those who enjoy very low comedy.  The Pope’s recent statement comes to mind:  “How often,” he added, “have we heard a woman go to her boss and say: ‘well, I have to tell you, I’m pregnant’. ‘At the end of the month you’re out.”  Continue reading

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