Ben Franklin and the Turkey

Tuesday, November 20, AD 2012




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

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

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6 Responses to Ben Franklin and the Turkey

  • Well, whenever I think of Franklin’s suggestion regarding our national bird, the thought always occurs to me that if it had gone through, our fighter pilots today would be flying F-15 Turkeys. 😉

  • When I was in the Army Tommy, we often associated the Air Force with turkeys. 🙂

  • If the Turkey was the National Bird, I guess we would not or could not eat it, I don’t know. Turkeys are wild birds in a number of places in this country.

  • For the record, on Veteran’s Day, Fox had this guy on their with a “Bald Eagle”, envision Falconry or Falconing but with a Bald Eagle. I’m sure one can find their song or cry online as most birds do have that online at bird sites.

    Interestingly, per the Ben Franklin quote above, “You may have seen him perch’d on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk…” , I once came upon a “Young Bald Eagle” on a tree stump right next to the river! So Franklin’s quote makes some sense to me, young Bald Eagles so they say are still all brown and this one was, I guess young Bald Eagles don’t have that white head yet.

  • Oh, and I wanted to add on a humble thank you for allowing these posts. It is appreciated.

  • Interesting that Franklin uses the French name « Dindon » originally « coq d’Inde » or “Cockerel of the Indies” Later, a turkey cock became « Dindon » and the hen, « poule d’Inde » became « dinde »

2 Responses to Obama, the Turkey and Mercy

  • Shakespeare,

    “The quality of mercy is not strain’d.
    […] It is twice blest:
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

    Obama’s PR Department may be vapidly approaching competence.

    The Obamba PR Department might have stumbled upon a photo-propaganda composition wherein Obama is not the least experienced nor most incomepetent subject in the frame.

    It appears Jimmeh Carter was out to lunch with a mass murderer . . .

  • I’ve just gotta get the audio fixed on my ‘puder.

    Did I see Obama talking to a turkey?
    Did I see Obama talking turkey?
    Did I see Obama, a talking turkey? 🙂

Great Turkey Disasters

Wednesday, November 24, AD 2010

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.

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7 Responses to Great Turkey Disasters

  • I think my favorite holiday-themed episode of WKRP was its retelling of “A Christmas Carol”… Johnny Fever was a great Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come! 🙂

  • Don, thanks for a little bit of levity (which we sure could use) during the seriousness of this past week. I vividly recall watching the “Turkey episode” when it originally debuted. I think of WKRP everytime I drive down to Cincinnait and see the radio-tv tower used in the opening theme song. There was something about those 1970s and early 1980s tv shows where adult themes were not over the top and one could use their own imagination, instead of the obvious. If I remember right, the characters were based on real life radio personalities, though I have no idea if they had anything to do with the Cincinnati station WKRC. The immortal words of Mr. Carlson still reverberate in my ear; “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

  • Johnny Fever is one of the great TV comic character creations Chris.

    Dave, I have had that immortal phrase “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” ringing through my mind in the aftermath of some of my greater foul ups.

  • “I have no idea if they had anything to do with the Cincinnati station WKRC.”

    I don’t think they did. My late uncle worked at WKRC in the 60s and early 70s, in the control room. He usually worked the evening/night shift and he was acquainted with WKRC’s lead news anchor at the time, Nick Clooney, father of a certain well-known actor. Hey, that makes me only 3 degrees separated from George Clooney 🙂

    My second most favorite WKRP show (after “Turkey Drop”) is the one where a tornado is about to hit Cincinnati and Les Nessman’s only guide for what to do in case of disaster is an old manual for responding to an atom bomb attack. He reads the instructions verbatim, subsituting “tornadoes” for “Soviets” and solemnly warns his listeners that they are under attack by “godless tornadoes.”

  • “Godless tornadoes!” Thanks, Elaine, for bringing back a great memory! WKRP was a wonderful show (I also miss Taxi and Barney Miller.)

    This is a bit more serious, but I really appreciated this article by Jonah Goldberg about the Pope’s remarks re: condoms.

    In the spring of 2005, Pope John Paul II died. My father, who passed away that summer, watched the funeral and the inauguration of the current pope, Benedict XVI, from his hospital bed. My dad, a Jew, loved the spectacle of it all. (The Vatican, he said, was the last institution that “really knows how to dress.”)

    From what he could tell, he liked this new pope too. “We need more rocks in the river,” my dad explained. What he meant was that change comes so fast, in such a relentless torrent, that we need people and things that stand up to it and offer respite from the current.

    It is just so rare and thus, so very refreshing, to read an appreciative, thoughtful article about the Pope written by a non-Catholic. In fact, I recently saw an interview with Goldberg on “Book World” and he said that although he is not an atheist, he is a “pretty secular guy” compared with most of his NRO colleagues. And yet this secular Jew has a deeper, more sympathetic understanding of our Church and our Pope than even many cradle Catholics do. After all the ridiculous hyperbole I’ve read about the Pope’s “approval” of condoms, Goldberg’s commonsense, respectful article is one small thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

    Of course, there are many other things to be thankful for, including this blog, which I do not get to read these days as much as I would like.

    Thank you TAC bloggers and have a restful and pleasant holiday!

  • The happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours Donna!

One Response to Catholic-Orthodox Reunion Baby Steps

  • This is great! The first step is the hardest. While this is a baby step it is a big deal in the unification process between Catholics and our Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ.

5 Responses to Another Martyr for the Faith in Turkey

  • Turkey, once moderate, has become increasingly militant in recent years. Those who welcome Turkey’s belligerent stance against Israel should be reminded of a radical iman’s statement several years ago: “First we will come for the Saturday people and then it will be the turn of the Sunday people.”

    In reality, the radicals are not waiting until they get all the “Saturday people.” They’re more than happy to kill us Sunday people too when they have the chance.

  • But, “The Vatican” has stated that it was an unbalanced depressed Kurd.

  • Jeff,

    I’m confused by your comment.

    As Christians we forgive and pray for all those involved.

  • God Bless all the martyrs who were standing up for peace in the MIddle East. I am praying that these Muslim extremists feel the presence of God, that God changes their hardened hearts so that they may love people instead of hating people, and so the Muslim extremists stop this senseless violence.

  • But, Tavis Smiley has asserted that it was an irate, white Republican.

Ben Franklin and the Turkey

Friday, November 27, AD 2009


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

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7 Responses to Ben Franklin and the Turkey

  • We had ham for dinner on Thanksgiving. We are surrounded by turkeys, starting with Congress, all year long.

  • Eagles are magnificent creatures. No wonder the early writers in the OT refer to eagles often.
    The Australian Sea Eagle is, I believe, a close relative of the American Bald Eagle. While living in Oz during the 80’s, I was out fishing with a friend. As we watched, this sea eagle, only about 50 meters away, swooped down and plucked a fish out of the water – not just a little fish, what the Aussies call a southern salmon (not a true salmon) which would have weighed around 12 pounds.

  • Oops!

    4th. line – “livivd” should be “living”.
    (maybe I lived in Oz too long) 😉

  • I fixed it for you Don, although I imagine at least once while you were living in Oz you were livid. Most Aussies I’ve known have been fantastic, but a few have been truculent! 🙂

  • Actually Don, it was quite an enjoyable experience. I do have Aussie cousins, and we moved to Wollongong NSW where they lived, to be with people we know, and within weeks had a great circle of Aussie friends – all with young families, as Sandy & I did then. And, of course, I got called “Kiwi” – (hopefully because I epitomised all those manly qualities other nationals expect of us rugged antipodean outdoors men 😉 ) and the name stuck, hence my combox name.
    I did , of course, cop a lot of stick, as is usual with banter between Aussies and Kiwis, and the Aussies can be more outspoken and course than us more genteel people from the islands to the East :-), but I found, give back as much crap as you cop, and you’re respected – otherwise you keep copping it.
    Only had one punch-up, and that was in a game of Touch Rugby – go figure. Had plenty of robust arguments though, being a builder/labour contractor on some of the building sites around Sydney.
    Have many good friends in Oz – haven’t visited for about 5 years now, but each time I have, I’m sure that within a few days, if I moved back, everything would be the same.
    But I’m not moving – Tauranga, NZ is home and I’ll be buried here; though after, I hope, many more travels.

  • While I agree that he may have been saying it a bit tongue in cheek, he got it right. Given the turkeys in DC (& at lower levels of government as well), the turkey would have been a better symbol.

    PS 1776 is my favorite all time movie.

  • Do you remember the opening game of the World Series in 2001? It was less than a month after 9/11. A beautiful bald eagle soared over the Stadium during the opening ceremony. My eyes misted over and I got a lump in my throat. I’m sure millions of Americans had the same reaction.

    Sorry, Ben, but a turkey running across the field just would not have had the same effect.

Res et Explicatio for AD 8-7-2009

Friday, August 7, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York commended President Obama and the Democratic Party efforts inArchbishopDolan reforming Health Care.  He said this during the Knights of Columbus Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.  But his Grace gave this caveat that if reform…

“…leads to the destruction of life, then we say it’s no longer health care at all – it’s unhealthy care and we can’t be part of that.”

To accentuate this sentiment and as a warning to well meaning Catholics, Cardinal Levada explained that those that want to reform health care at any cost:

“[W]e do not build heaven on earth, we simply prepare the site to welcome the new Jerusalem which comes from God.”

2. Catholic convert Joe Eszterhas of Hollywood screenwriting fame, will be writing the screenplay for a movie aboutVirgen of Guadelupethe Virgin of Guadalupe.  Though no director nor a green light has been given on the go ahead of this movie project, the fact that Joe Eszterhas is writing the screenplay is newsworthy in itself because of the author himself is enough to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

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One Response to Res et Explicatio for AD 8-7-2009

Obama: Armenian 'Atrocities', Not Genocide

Friday, April 24, AD 2009

April 24, 1915 A.D. is the date fixed for the beginning of the Armenian Genocide where over 1.5 million Armenian Christians were slaughtered by the Turkish Muslims through deportation, starvation, slave labor, and concentration camps.

Today President Obama referred to the Armenian Genocide as “one of the great atrocities of the 20th century.”  Thus breaking his campaign promise of calling it a genocide in deference to Turkey’s delicate sensibilities to their Armenian question.

This display of masterful verbal calisthenics has not been seen since Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings of ’99.     President Obama skillfully used over a 100 words to explain these ‘atrocities’ instead of utilizing the more efficient use of ‘genocide’, which is one (1) word exactly (comments mine).

“(O)ne of the great atrocities of the 20th century.  I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed (a falsehood).  My interest remains the achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts.  The best way to advance that goal right now is for the Armenian and Turkish people to address the facts of the past as a part of their efforts to move forward.  (The  Armenians who were massacred in the final days of the Ottoman Empire) must live on in our memories.  Reckoning with the past holds out the powerful promise of reconciliation.  I strongly support efforts by the Turkish and Armenian people to work through this painful history in a way that is honest, open, and constructive.”

For the article click here.

To learn more about the Armenian Genocide click here.

Update I: The following are excellent articles relating to today about the Armenian Genocide.

Armenians Remember 1915 Killings

Turkey Declares Armenia Deal

Q&A Armenian Genocide Dispute

Turkey’s Armenian Dilemma

Fears of Turkey’s ‘Invisible’ Armenians

Cold War Haunts Armenian Border

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5 Responses to Obama: Armenian 'Atrocities', Not Genocide

  • The phrasing of Obama’s written statement attracted heightened scrutiny because of the sensitivity of the issue and because the two countries are nearing a historic reconciliation after years of tension. The Obama administration is wary of disturbing that settlement.

  • Mark,

    I understand the weariness of the Obama administrations reluctance of using a highly charge, yet accurate, term of ‘genocide’.

    Beside’s the presidents reluctance, I am heartened to hear of the settlement between Turkey and Armenia. Albeit that it’s incomplete, but it is a positive start to hopefully an end of over a century of animosity and to a new era of cooperation and friendship.

  • In the Bush 44 administration, George’s Inner Gipper was in constant conflict with his Inner Poppy. In final year, Inner Poppy won all the way. Within Dear Leader, we have ongoing smackdown between Inner Willie and Inner Jimmy. The Armenian ‘atrocities’ statement was pure Inner Willie. But Inner Jimmy is never far away, ready to mess things up- as in sending signals for Scooter Libby-style show trials. Or Janet Napolitano- his Janet Reno- alienating Canada, veterans, and pro-life moms. The struggle continues.

  • I think Obama played it well.

    Whether or not Turkey accepts the Armenian genocide (and they won’t, it’s illegal in Turkey to talk about it), the issue isn’t going to have a positive political effect. Sometimes you have to play politics, and when Turkey, a long-time regional ally, now has increased importance in resolving our Iraqi and Iranian problems, there’s no reason to through sand in their face with no obvious U.S. interest.

  • Joe,

    If by played it well you mean ignoring the deaths of over a million Armenian Christians so as to not offend Turkish Muslim ‘sensibilities’, then yes, he played it very well.

    Once can stand by the truth, or play politics. Obama promised to change the tone in Washington, instead he dolled himself up and is literally kissing the pig to ingratiate himself to the politiratti.