Fortnight For Freedom: Declaration of Independence

 

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IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Continue reading

A Story Made for the Fourth of July

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A bald eagle was freed from a tree by a patriotic Army veteran, who spent 90 minutes firing 150 shots into three branches ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

Jason Galvin, who did two tours in Afghanistan, was on a bait run on Thursday when he spotted the eagle dangling upside down from a rope it got tangled in, according to KARE 11

Galvin estimated the bird was hanging from the tree about 75 feet off the ground. It had been there for more than two days. Continue reading

Of Mark Shea and Elderly Poodles

 

 

I have described being banned from a site on the internet as being akin to being gummed by an elderly poodle:  it does you no real harm, but it does tell you that it is time to move on.  Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts has been banned by Mark Shea:

 

 

 

UPDATE: Apparently Mark has banned me from his Facebook page for good. We’ll see if there is more to say about that later.  For now, the link might not work.  Which is fine.  It wasn’t pleasant reading.  Anyway Happy July 4th.

UPDATE 2: Mark has now banned me from everything at this point.  My wife too.  Towards the end of the Facebook debate, Mark called upon his readers to join him.  No, he didn’t say he wanted them to join and gang up on me.  But I was pretty sure that was where he was going.  During the course of the development, his readers made it clear that they supported Mark’s approach to discourse over mine.  They were also aghast that I would post a link to his page and beg my readers to go over there.  Personally I wouldn’t have minded if a few readers came over and helped me out against the onslaught.

Now Mark has done that very thing more times than I can count.  I was shocked to find out it was a big deal.  Heck, back in the day I would follow links Mark posted about debates he was in on other sites and rush to defend him when he was being attacked.  I imagined that it was fine to do.  But Mark clearly had issues with it, and Mark is an honourable man.

Likewise, Mark made it clear he was outraged at the posts where I have criticized him, his styles, or that part of the Catholic blogosphere with which he associates.  Usually, those posts came after heated debates with Mark in which Mark either said something about others I felt crossed the line, or said something about me which I thought crossed the line, and either threatened to ban me or ordered me off of his page.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being accused of wanting to increase human slaughter or not really caring about Jesus.  Especially when, in the course of debating, I’m forbidden from defending myself under threat of being banned.

Nonetheless, despite the fact that Mark has made his living by posting the writings and statements of others and criticizing them and calling on his readers to do the same, he was upset at the fact that I had done the same to him.  I didn’t see it as some hate thing, I’m sincerely worried about Mark’s spiritual pilgrimage.  Yet Mark was offended.  And Mark is an honourable man.

So from now on, if Mark stops taking the words of others and using them to attack those individuals or encouraging others to do the same, then I will refrain from further posts or criticisms of Mark or his tactics.  Quite frankly, if Mark stops doing that, I’ll have little to complain about.  When Mark actually writes about Church teaching or unpacking the Bible or day to day Christian living, there are few better.  What could I complain about?  So that is my pledge.  I will no longer criticize Mark or post references to him, unless it is to give a thumbs up regarding something he has written, if Mark also ceases the same approach that he criticized me of using.  After all, if he does that, then I could honestly say that Mark is an honourable man. Continue reading

Hacksaw Ridge

“From a human standpoint, I shouldn’t be here to tell the story.  All the glory should go to God. No telling how many times the Lord has spared my life.”

Desmond Doss, 1998

 

 

 

 

This is interesting.  Mel Gibson is directing the film Hacksaw Ridge that is due to be released on November 4, 2016.  The movie tells the story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist conscientious objector,  who earned a Medal of Honor on Okinawa while serving as a medic with the Army 77th Division.  Here is his citation:

 

He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 1 by 1 to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On 5 May, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On 21 May, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers’ return, he was again struck, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.

Doss survived the War and passed away on March 23, 2006.  Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: The Catholic Signer

 

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Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, letter to James McHenry, November 4, 1800.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, as he signed his name when he added his signature to the Declaration of Independence, was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.  When he died at the age of 95, he was the last of the Signers to depart this vale of tears.

The scion of perhaps the richest family in the colonies, Charles Carroll was initially uninterested in politics and, in any case, was debarred by his religion from participating in politics in his native Maryland by his religions.  However, in his thirties he became a passionate advocate of American independence from Great Britain and quickly became one of the chief leaders of the Patriot cause in his home colony.  It was only natural as a result that he was sent to Congress, in spite of his religion, where he was one of the chief spokesmen for independence and happily placed his signature on the Declaration even though by doing so he risked not only his fortune but his life if the British had prevailed.  By the end of 1776 the revolutionary government of Maryland had issued an act of religious freedom, and Carroll and his fellow Catholics in Maryland enjoyed the same civil rights as Protestants.

In 1778 he returned to Maryland and helped draft the state constitution and in setting up the new state government, serving in the State Senate until 1800, and briefly in the United States Senate.

A slaveholder, throughout his career Carroll spoke and wrote of slavery as an evil that must come to an end as soon as possible.  He attempted, but failed, to have Maryland implement a plan of gradual emancipation.  At the age of 91 he took on the task of being president of the Auxiliary State Colonization Society of Maryland, part of  a national movement to have free blacks voluntarily colonize what would become Liberia in Africa.

Something of a Renaissance man, he had a strong interest in science and in his nineties helped set up the B&O Railroad, lending his prestige to this new technology in his native Maryland.

Throughout his life his two main passions were the American Revolution and his Faith.   Like most of the Founding Fathers he regarded the idea of political liberty divorced from sound morality, derived from religion, as an absurdity.  He set forth his ideas on this subject in a letter to Secretary of War James McHenry in 1800 in which he lamented the then current American political scene: Continue reading

God Bless America, Even You Kuntzman

 

Running this for the benefit of Gersch Kuntzman, New York Daily News columnist, who hates the song being played at ball games.  Go here to read about it.  Kuntzman, you may recall, became the subject of national ridicule when he was traumatized by firing the light weight AR-15, a weapon that might have well been built expressly for the ladies of America.  Go here to read my post on that exercise in the absurd.  Gersch, this one is for you.  You may relax however.  Kate Smith has been dead now for thirty years.  You do not have to fear her storming your dwelling, cradling an AR-15, while booming God Bless America!

 

 

God Bless America sung by the imperishable Kate Smith.  This song became the rallying song for the United States during World War II.  Witten by Irving Berlin in 1918 while he was serving in the Army and revised by him in 1938, it was performed by Kate Smith on her radio show in 1938 and became an immediate hit, reaching unbelievable heights of popularity during World War II.  The song is a prayer to God, as the first stanza, rarely performed today, makes clear:

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,

Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,

Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,

As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

God bless America,

Land that I love.

Stand beside her, and guide her

Through the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the oceans, white with foam

God bless America, My home sweet home

God bless America, My home sweet home.

Few entertainers became so connected with one song as Kate Smith did with God Bless America.  A Protestant, Kate Smith attended Mass for years prior to her conversion to Catholicism.  Continue reading

PopeWatch: Confessional Confusion

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

 

Pastor of St. Vitus Catholic Church Father David Hitchens said Wednesday his order that his church allow transgender parishioners to use the confessional they identify with will stand.

Hitchens, speaking at a Knights of Columbus breakfast, said that he got involved in the matter after an unidentified parishioner asked him for guidance.

 

“What happened and what continues to happen is you have transgender parishioners in church not sure which of the confessionals to use,” Hitchens said. “And they get bullied, they get ostracized, and no-one holds their hands during the Our Father. They have half an hour to make a decision before confessions end and they don’t know what to do. It’s tough for them believing they cannot use the confessional they identify with. My best interpretation of what our Church and our obligations are is that we should try to accommodate these people so that they are not in a vulnerable situation.”

Hitchens went on to tell his parishioners that all priests in his parish must allow transgender parishioners to use confessionals that correspond with their sin identity, and that priests who did not comply would be labelled mean and judgmental, which, he said, “was worse than mortal sin.”

Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: Battle Cries of Freedom

fortnight for freedom 2016

Something for a Fourth of July weekend.  The Battle Cry of Freedom was a popular song North and South during the Civil War.  Of course they sang different lyrics to the song.  The Union version was such a favorite among the Union troops, that President Lincoln, in a letter to George F. Root, the composer, wrote:  “You have done more than a hundred generals and a thousand  orators. If you could not shoulder a musket in defense of your country, you certainly have served her through your songs.”

Here is the Southern version sung by Bobby Horton who has waged a one man campaign to bring Civil War music to modern audiences:

 

Here is the version from the Lincoln (2012) movie:

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Pink Revolvers Would Work Better

rapes in sweden

 

Reported rapes in Sweden:  1975-2014

 

 

 

 

 

A perfect symbol of the age of pernicious make believe in which we live:

 

 

A recent Swedish press release warns that groping is a crime. In it, the country’s national police chief Dan Eliasson said: “No one should have to accept sexual molestation. So do not grope. And if you are groped, report it to the police.”

Mr. Eliasson mentioned a variety of actions such as “a hand tucked between the legs”, “a hug from behind in the crush at a club or festival”, and “one person holding somebody while another grabs their breasts”, describing them as “situations many young people recognise too well”.

The press release announced that police intend to equip young women with wristbands with the slogan “don’t touch me”. This will happen over the summer, at festivals and other events for young people. “By wearing these wristbands,” Sweden’s police chief said, “young women will be able to make a stand”.

It is unclear how effective the wristbands, which read “don’t touch me” in Swedish, will be in preventing attacks, as the majority of sex attack perpetrators are thought to be recent migrants who are unlikely to be able to read them. Continue reading

Pass the Popcorn: Papal Memoir

 

Well, this is interesting:

 

The Italian daily Corriere della Sera, which has acquired the rights to publish excerpts from the book, offered a preview in a July 1 article that disclosed:

  • Pope Benedict recognized the presence of a “gay lobby” at the Vatican during his pontificate. He says that only four or five people were involved, and believes that he defeated their efforts to influence Vatican policy.
  • The former Pontiff realizes that he lacked the firmness required to govern effectively. He confirms that, while working under St. John Paul II, he submitted his resignation several times, only to stay on at that Pontiff’s request.
  • No one pressured Pope Benedict to resign, and very few people knew of his plan to step down until he made his historic public announcement.
  • He was surprised by the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, having expected one of several other cardinals to be chosen as his successor. But his second reaction to the election was joy, because of his high regard for the Argentine prelate.
  • He kept a diary throughout his pontificate, but plans to destroy it, although he recognizes that historians would see it as a “golden opportunity.” (Interestingly, the former Pope indicates that he had not yet destroyed the diary, at least at the time of the interview.)

Continue reading

Let’s Not Move on From Benghazi

 

 

Doctor Dorothy Woods, widow of fallen American hero Tyrone Woods, reminds us that what happened at Benghazi goes way beyond partisan politics.  Americans fighting for their lives were denied military support, their requests for assistance falling on deaf ears, and there has still been no satisfactory explanation as to why.  Ordinary Americans, whenever they have an opportunity, should ask Hillary Clinton what happened, since the Clinton supporting media refuses to do its job.

Trump and the Pitcher of Warm Spit

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Speculation about Veep choices is no doubt much ado about nothing.  In my lifetime the only Veep choice that made a dime’s worth of difference was LBJ in 1960.  Without him I doubt that the electoral votes of Texas would have been successfully stolen for the Democrats.  However, even in that case the votes of Texas were superfluous due to Mayor Daley the Elder’s post-midnight ballot box stuffing which gave Illinois to Kennedy by 8000 “votes”.

Having said that, rumors are rampant that Trump is considering Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Newt Gingrich.

If Trump is looking for a man who is almost as cordially distrusted by Republicans as he is, Chris Christie is his man.  After his nomination of Romney speech in 2012 that barely mentioned Romney and his literal embrace of Obama near the end of that campaign, he would have a difficult time getting a majority of Republicans to vote for him if he were running against bubonic plague.  Cordially despised in New Jersey, the only reason I can think of for Trump to choose him is the dog-like devotion to Trump he has displayed since he became the first major Republican politician to endorse him.  That, and perhaps his record as a crime busting US Attorney.  If Trump has him play attack dog, the usual role of a Veep, his assumption of a prosecutorial stance might be of marginal assistance in highlighting some of Clinton’s crimes.  If he does become the Veep nominee, Christie will do what he perceives is good for Christie, so Trump should beware.

As for Newt Gingrich, he is a true idea man in politics.  One hundred ideas a day, ten of which are even sane.  His colorful personal history would help in Trump’s effort to nail the adulterer’s block of votes.

If these two men are manifestly unsatisfactory, and they are, what does that say?  Probably that Trump can get no one better and that Trump assumes it probably doesn’t make any difference anyway.

Who would I suggest?  Kasich of Ohio would be an interesting choice.  As governor of Ohio he might be able to bring that state to Trump, a must win for him.  If Trump hadn’t picked a meaningless fight with her, I would suggest Susan Martinez, Governor of New Mexico.  The Senator, and hog castrator, from Iowa, Joni Ernst, would be a good choice, with her military service, her colorfulness and her ability to probably deliver Iowa. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Brexit

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The Pope gave another inflight interview on his flight back from Armenia, and it is a doozy.  We will be examining it piece by piece this week.  Go here to read the text of the interview.

Today we look at the Pope’s response to a question about Brexit:

 

 

 

Edward Pentin (National Catholic Register): As John Paul II, you seem to be a supporter of the European Union and you praised the European project when you recently won the Charlemagne prize. Are you worried that Brexit could bring about the disintegration of Europe and eventually war?

Pope Francis: There is already a war in Europe. Moreover, there is a climate of division, not only in Europe, but in its own countries. If you remember Catalonia, last year Scotland. These divisions… I don’t say that they are dangerous, but we must study them well, and before take a step forward for a division, to speak well amongst ourselves, and seek out viable solutions… I honestly don’t know. I have not studied the reasons why the United Kingdom wanted to make this decision, but there are divisions. I believe I said this once, I don’t know where, but I said it: That independence will make for emancipation. For instance, all our Latin American countries, even the countries of Africa, have emancipated from the crown, from Madrid. Even in Africa from Paris, London, Amsterdam . . . And this is an emancipation, and is more understandable because behind it there is a culture, there is a way of thinking . . . . rather, the seccession of a country — I’m still not speaking of Brexit; we think of Scotland, all these… It is a thing that has been given a name, and this I say without offending, it is a word which politicians use: Balkanization, without speaking ill of the Balkans. It is somewhat of a seccession, it is not emancipation. And behind (it) there are histories, cultures, misunderstandings, even good will . . . this is clear. For me, unity is always better than conflict, but there are different ways of unity . . . and even fraternity, and here comes the European Union; fraternity is better than animosity and distance. Fraternity is better and bridges are better than walls. One must reflect on all of this. It is true: a country . . . I am in Europe, but . . . I want to have certain things that are mine from my culture and the step that . . . and here I come to the Charlemagne Prize, which is given by the European Union to discover the strength that it had from its roots. It is a step of creativity, and also of “healthy disunity,” to give more independence, more liberty to countries of the Union, to think of another form of Union, to be creative. And creative in places of work, in the economy. There is a liquid economy in Europe. For instance, in Italy 40 percent of young people aged 25 and younger do not have work. There is something that is not good in this massive Union, but we do not throw the baby in the bath water out the window, no? We look to redeem the things and recreate, because recreation of human things, also our personality, is a journey, which one must always take. A teenager is not like an adult, or an elderly person. It is the same and it is not the same. One recreates continuously. It is this that gives life, the desire to live, and gives fruitfulness. And this I underline: today, the word, the two key words for the European Union, are creativity and fruitfulness. This is the challenge. I don’t know, it’s what I think. Continue reading

First Day of the Somme

 

 

Enemy superiority is so great that we are not in a position either to fix their forces in position or to prevent them from launching an offensive elsewhere. We just do not have the troops…. We cannot prevail in a second battle of the Somme with our men; they cannot achieve that any more.

Generalleutnant Georg von Fuchs, January 20, 1917

 

 

 

One hundred years ago the British Army suffered the deadliest day in its long history.  Sixty thousand casualties on the first day of the 141-day battle of the Somme, twenty thousand of them killed.  Britain reeled from the casualties they incurred on the Somme, which would total in excess of half a million men.  The German Army however also reeled from the casualties they sustained, the British having commenced the grim, grinding war of attrition that would ultimately cause the German Army to be defeated in 1918.

In World War I the British managed the considerable feat of raising a mass army for the first time in their history, bringing rapidly online new technology of which tanks and fighter planes and bombers were only three examples, and slugging it out with the finest army on Earth. Mistakes were not uncommon in this process, sometimes grave ones, but they learned all the time and by the end of the War had a military force that was able to be the spearhead of the Hundred Days Offensive that broke the German Army in 1918.

I think Douglas Haig, the British Commander in Chief on the Western Front from 1915-1918, has been badly maligned. Portrayed as a blundering cavalry officer, he was actually an enthusiast for new technology, especially tanks. Considered a completely callous butcher he was anything but. Early in the War his staff had to stop him from visiting hospitals because the sight of wounded and dying British soldiers was too much for him emotionally. When a painter came to his headquarters to do an official portrait of him, he told him to paint the common soldiers instead, saying that they were the ones saving the world and they were dying every day while doing it. He refused to take a viscountcy from the British government after the War, resisting even lobbying from the King, until financial assistance was approved for demobilized soldiers. Without his stand, it is quite possible that the former soldiers would have been left to private charity. He spent the rest of his life helping the men who had served under him and forming the veteran’s organization, the British Legion, of which he was President until his death. When he died at 66 in 1928 endless lines of his veterans filed by his coffin to pay their last respects. British Legion halls almost always had a picture of Haig on the wall. Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: Great Family of Man

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These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. [Applause.] Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began — so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of liberty was being built.

Abraham Lincoln, August 17, 1858

John Wayne Films For the Fourth of July

 

This Fourth of July long weekend is made for a trip down American history courtesy of John Wayne films.  Wayne was an American original.  Thirty seven years after his death, in the annual Harris poll of favorite actors, he ranks number four overall, and number one among men voting.  In his day he was never shy about declaring his love of country, and he did so when patriotism was fashionable and when it was unfashionable.  An American icon, the deathbed convert to the Catholic Church is a symbol of this nation, instantly recognizable around the globe.  Here are some of his films set in the history of this land.

 

 

 

 

  1. Allegheny Uprising (1939)-The film tells the true story of the Black Boys Rebellion against the British in 1765, with Wayne portraying James Smith the leader of this proto-American Revolution.

 

 

 

2.  The Fighting Kentuckian (1949)-John Wayne costars with Oliver Hardy, yeah, that Oliver Hardy, in a tale of veterans of the War of 1812 helping French settlers battle land swindlers in Alabama.   Very loosely based on actual events.  In one scene Wayne explains that his family never had money due to his father’s health being ruined after he spent a winter at a place called Valley Forge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  The Alamo (1960)-The epic story of the battle for Texan Independence.  Wayne’s love note to America and freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958)-One of the more successful American diplomats of the Nineteenth Century, Townsend Harris, a native of New York City, became wealthy in the China trade in the early part of the century.  He then turned to public service, serving as the President of the New York City Board of Education from 1846-1848.  He founded the Free Academy of the City of New York, later renamed as the City College of New York, in order to provide college educations to low income people in New York.

In July 1856, Franklin Pierce named him the first American consul general to the Empire of Japan.  He opened the first American consulate in Japan in the city of Shimoda.  Overcoming enormous difficulties, in two years he negotiated what has become known as the Harris Treaty, which established full diplomatic and trade relations between Japan and the US.

On the hundredth anniversary of the treaty in 1958, John Wayne, in one of the oddest films of his career, starred as Townsend Harris in the film The Barbarian and the Geisha.  Few men could have been more unlike John Wayne than Harris, and Wayne appears uncomfortable in the role of the diplomat to me.  The film played up an alleged romance between Harris and Okichi, a 17 year old housekeeper, which has long been a tale told in Japan.  Unfortunately, this aspect of the story is untrue.  Harris fired Okichi after she worked for him for three days due to the fact that he considered her to be an incompetent housekeeper.  However, the look of the film is splendid, even if the film is the usual Hollywood mix of lies and half-truths.

 

 

 

5.  The Horse Soldiers (1959)-In 1959 John Ford and John Wayne, in the last of their “cavalry collaborations”, made The Horse Soldiers, a film based on Harold Sinclair’s novel of the same name published in 1956, which is a wonderful fictionalized account of Grierson’s Raid.

Perhaps the most daring and successful Union cavaly raid of the war, Colonel Benjamin Grierson, a former music teacher and band leader from Jacksonville, Illinois, who, after being bitten by a horse at a young age, hated horses, led from April 17-May 2, 1863 1700 Illinois and Iowa troopers through 600 miles of Confederate territory from southern Tennessee to the Union held Baton Rouge in Louisiana.  Grierson and his men ripped up railroads, burned Confederate supplies and tied down many times their number of Confederate troops and succeeded in giving Grant a valuable diversion as he began his movement against Vicksburg.

John Wayne gives a fine, if surly, performance as Colonel Marlowe, the leader of the Union cavalry brigade.  William Holden as a Union surgeon serves as a foil for Wayne.  Constance Towers, as a captured Southern belle, supplies the obligatory Hollywood love interest.

Overall the film isn’t a bad treatment of the raid, and the period.  I especially appreciated two scenes.  John Wayne refers to his pre-war activities as “Before this present insanity” and Constance Towers gives the following impassioned speech:

Well, you Yankees and your holy principle about savin’ the Union. You’re plunderin’ pirates that’s what. Well, you think there’s no Confederate army where you’re goin’. You think our boys are asleep down here. Well, they’ll catch up to you and they’ll cut you to pieces you, you nameless, fatherless scum. I wish I could be there to see it.

Both scenes ring home with authenticity.  Not a bad effort from the usual history manglers of Hollywood.(Although there are still errors enough, including Union soldiers worrying about being captured and sent to Andersonville prior to the POW camp being constructed by the Confederates in 1864.)

 

 

 

6.  The Searchers (1956)-Set in Reconstruction Texas, John Wayne gives the performance of his career as embittered Confederate veteran Ethan Edwards and his vengeance ride against Comanches who slaughtered his family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  True Grit (1969)-Set in Reconstruction Arkansas, True Grit is the only film for which Wayne won an Oscar.  An accomplished actor, Wayne throughout his career made it all look so easy that he was always badly underestimated.  In this film, a skillful mixture of comedy and drama, Wayne was able to give life to Rooster Cogburn, one of the great literary creations of the last century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.  Rio Grande (1950)-The final installment in Ford and Wayne’s cavalry trilogy was picked for inclusion due to the above rendition of Down by the Glenside.  The song of course would not be written until 1916, but any viewer with a drop of Irish blood will forgive the historical anachronism. Continue reading

Clinton E-Mail Depositions: Bryan Pagliano

 

When it comes to the Clintons the normal rules that apply to the rest of us apparently do not apply to them.  For example, in a FOIA act lawsuit brought over the Clinton e-mails by Judicial Watch, a conservative group, Hillary Clinton’s chief of state Cheryl Mills was deposed and her deposition was videotaped.  Prior to Mills’ deposition, her lawyers requested that it not be released to the public, so it could not be used against Clinton for partisan political purposes.  In a bizarre ruling, Judge Emmet Sullivan agreed that the video of the depositions could not be released to the public, but that transcripts of the depositions could be released.  He then, sua sponte ( by the court’s unilateral action) made this decision applicable to all depositions taken in the case.

Legal suits, in most cases, are public matters.  The public normally has a right to access to the materials of such a lawsuit, absent matters that a court finds to be subject to some sort of legal privilege.  There is no legal privilege protecting materials in a lawsuit from being used for political purposes.

Fortunately Phelim McAleer, an independent filmmaker, is dramatizing the depositions.  Only the text of the depositions is used in the films.  McAleer is used to telling the stories the news media tries to ignore for political reasons.  He has just finished filming on a movie about abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who he describes as the most prolific serial killer in American history.  He is kickstarting his project to dramatize the Clinton e-mail depositons.  Go here if you wish to contribute.  I did.

The above video is the deposition of Bryan Pagliano, Clinton’s tech guru at the State Department who set up Clinton’s private e-mail server.  During his 80 minute deposition he took the Fifth Amendment 312 times. Go here to view the video of the deposition of Chery Mills. Go here to view the deposition of Stephen Mull.

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