Smedley Butler and the Plot Against FDR


In November 1934 Major General Smedley Butler made headlines by alleging that he had been in contact with businessmen since July 1, 1933 who wanted him to lead a coup attempt against FDR.  The allegations became known as the Business Plot.  Congressional hearings concluded that there might be some substance behind the allegations, but that they could not be confirmed.



Contemporary press accounts indicate a wide spread belief that Butler fabricated the whole thing. Butler was passed over as Commandant of the Marine Corp in 1931 because he publicly accused Mussolini, falsely, in a speech of having run over a child. He never got over it and he ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1932 as a Republican. He then turned hard left, attacking capitalism and the military as being gangsters for the capitalists. That is what makes his entire idea of a fascist plot against FDR so laughable. By 1934 he was known as an ardent supporter of FDR and yet shadowy plutocrats wanted him to command a coup against Roosevelt? FDR obviously thought it was rubbish as there were no criminal prosecutions by the Feds of anyone named by Butler. Butler was a very brave man as attested by his two medals of honor. He was also a fabulist, to put it politely, of the first order.

Published in: on January 29, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Smedley Butler and the Plot Against FDR  
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American Sniper: A Review

“I am a strong Christian. Not a perfect one—not close. But I strongly believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. When I die, God is going to hold me accountable for everything I’ve done on earth. He may hold me back until last and run everybody else through the line, because it will take so long to go over all my sins. “Mr. Kyle, let’s go into the backroom. . . .” Honestly, I don’t know what will really happen on Judgment Day. But what I lean toward is that you know all of your sins, and God knows them all, and shame comes over you at the reality that He knows. I believe the fact that I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior will be my salvation. But in that backroom or whatever it is when God confronts me with my sins, I do not believe any of the kills I had during the war will be among them. Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.”
Chis Kyle
My wife and I, the kids are back in college and law school, saw American Sniper at a movie theater in Morris, Illinois on Saturday January 24.  It was the second performance of the day, beginning at 1:00 PM, and the theater still was almost full.  After seeing the movie, the one term that seems to me to apply is stunning, in every sense of the word.  Clint Eastwood has made a masterpiece, the finest of his movies as a director, and made a film biopic that perfectly captures the man Chris Kyle and his times.  It is not a film for kids due to intense combat scenes and frequent use of the f-bomb by troops.  My review is below and the usual caveat as to spoilers is in force.

The movie opens with scenes from Kyle’s childhood.  He and his father are hunting and Kyle kills his first deer.  We then see him as a young boy at a church service listening to a minister preaching a sermon.  The minister notes that we see our lives as a series of events and that we do not see the pattern of our lives that God sees, especially since we do not see as God sees.  During the sermon Kyle fingers a blue bound Bible that he will carry for the rest of his life and which appears in many scenes in the movie.  The sermon establishes the method of the movie which consists of vignettes as Kyle proceeds through life.

When he intervenes in school to defend his younger brother from a bully and beats the daylights out of said bully, his father explains to him that night that people are divided up into three groups:  sheep, predators and sheepdogs who protect the sheep from evil and harm, and that he and their mother are not raising either sheep or predators.

As a young man we see him as a rodeo performer, marking time in his life.  A television news bulletin about an overseas bombing of a US embassy enrages him.  We next see him enlisting in the Navy to be a SEAL.  SEAL training is displayed with humorous touches emphasizing how rigorous it is.  After he becomes a SEAL he meets his future wife and their relationship stateside is the counterpoise throughout the film to the War in Iraq.  They are married shortly after 9-11.

The bulk of the movie consists of his four tours in Iraq, interspersed with scenes at home.


In Iraq Kyle quickly becomes a legend.  In fact, that is the nickname he is given by the Marines he serves with:  “Legend”.  As a sniper he provides cover for the Marines as they go door to door in the type of urban fighting that typified much of the Iraq conflict.  My guess is that this film will give most Americans their first true understanding of what the fighting in Iraq was like.  Nineteenth century writer Ambrose Bierce, “Bitter Bierce”, once observed that wars, he was a combat veteran of the Civil War, were God’s way of teaching Americans geography.  Sometimes a good film can perform the same function of teaching the general American public the grim realities of combat, and American Sniper does that for the fighting in Iraq.  Peaceful settings can become deadly in an instant, and the line between enemy combatants and innocent civilians is thin to non-existent.   The fighting is shown as being intense and deadly, albeit usually brief.  Kyle eventually joins the Marines in their house to house fighting to show them SEAL techniques that might help save some of their lives.  Kyle is the very essence of a hero:  someone who goes into danger for others, in spite of the risk to his own life.  The Iraqi Jihadists, who called him The Devil of Ramadi, put a bounty on his head.  When it reaches $120,000 in the film Kyle jokes that it might tempt his wife on one of his bad days at home.

We see the moral quandaries that arose for Kyle as women and kids are used by the Jihadists against the American troops.  We see Kyle shooting one boy and a woman as they attempt to attack an American convoy.  Later in the movie we share Kyle’s relief when a boy puts down an rpg and runs away.  Kyle notes however that he regrets none of the shots he made.  What haunts him are the American troops he was unable to save.

There is almost no politics in the film.  Kyle is an uncomplicated patriot who views the US as the greatest nation in the world and sees it as his duty to defend her.  Some of his friends do come to question the Iraq War, viewing it as not worth the cost in American lives.

That such an apolitical film has aroused the ire of the Left is unsurprising however.  The American fighting men in this film are depicted as ordinary men performing heroically in very tough circumstances and that does not play into the stereotype of the Left of American troops being losers, victims or monsters.

The tours in Iraq take a toll on Kyle and eventually his wife convinces him to leave the SEALS, his War finally coming to an end.  In civilian life, he volunteers to help troops with physical and mental problems.  On February 2, 2013 he was slain by a 25 year old former Marine he was attempting to help.  No explanation exists for the slaying.  The film ends with scenes from the funeral of Kyle.  No one moved in the theater until the film was completed.  I think most of the audience was just as stunned by the film as I was.

Bradley Cooper gives a career making performance as Kyle, portraying him as a complete human being.  It is a three dimensional performance that causes us to care about Kyle as we view the arc of his life.

Men like Kyle deserve to be remembered.  American Sniper is a fitting tribute to a man who went into harm’s way for the rest of us.

Published in: on January 27, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on American Sniper: A Review  
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Civil War Facts Missed

An interesting video on the 93rd Illinois volunteer infantry.  Thousands of regiments were raised in the Civil War, and most of them are now veiled in obscurity, the men who served in them long dead and History having passed most of them by.  How much of the history of the War is lost due to this!  The regiment was the chief unit for almost all the men who served in the Civil War.  During their service the regiment was their little world and the events of the regiment often of much greater significance to them than the main events of the War that have come down to us.  Typical of an event that would be completely omitted in almost all Civil War histories is this resolution to mark the death in battle of Colonel Holden Putnam of the 93rd Illinois:


Camp. Ninety-Third Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry,Bridgeport, Ala., December 7th, A. D. 1863. At a meeting of the officers of the Ninety- Third Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, called to-day, to commemorate the death of their lamented colonel, Holden Putnam, who fell in the battle of November 25th, 1863, on Mission Ridge, a committee was appointed, consisting of Maj. J. M. Fisher, Capt. J. P. Reel, and Capt. Orrin Wilkinson, to draft appropriate resolutions, the following were reported and unanimously adopted:

Whereas, In the mysterious providence of an all-wise God, we are called upon the mourn the loss of our beloved commander, the late Col. Holden Putnam, who was killed in the battle of Chattanooga, Tenn., November 25th, 1863; therefore, Resolved, That the heart which ceased to beat when he fell upon the crest of Tunnel Hill, bearing down with him the emblem of our national life, yet speaks to us of the brave and efficient officer, the genial friend, and the earnest soldier. Resolved, That the regiment has lost a friend and valiant leader and faithful commander; the country a true and pure patriot, and an unselfish son; his fellow citizens an active and generous helper and a noble delegate in arms.

Resolved, That we tender our heartfelt sympathies to his bereaved family and friends, and pray that God may assuage the grief of the household.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be transmitted to the family, and also sent for publication to each of the county papers of the counties represented in the regiment.

N. C. BUSWELL, Lieut. Col., Commanding Regiment,
Attest: C. A. Griswold, Surgeon, Secretary. (more…)

Published in: on January 26, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Civil War Facts Missed  

Chris Kyle and Alvin C. York

“I am a strong Christian. Not a perfect one—not close. But I strongly believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. When I die, God is going to hold me accountable for everything I’ve done on earth. He may hold me back until last and run everybody else through the line, because it will take so long to go over all my sins. “Mr. Kyle, let’s go into the backroom. . . .” Honestly, I don’t know what will really happen on Judgment Day. But what I lean toward is that you know all of your sins, and God knows them all, and shame comes over you at the reality that He knows. I believe the fact that I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior will be my salvation. But in that backroom or whatever it is when God confronts me with my sins, I do not believe any of the kills I had during the war will be among them. Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.”
Chis Kyle



I hadn’t planned on seeing American Sniper, the story of the late Chris Kyle, but with it shattering box office records and driving the Left insane, something that director Clint Eastwood has been doing effortlessly for the past four decades, I will have to go see it this weekend and review it for TAC.  Awarded two Silver Stars and numerous other decorations, Navy Seal Kyle always stated that his motivation for being perhaps the deadliest sniper in American history was to protect his fellow troops.  This resonated with me since it was the same motivation for Corporal Alvin C. York in 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive to take out several German machine gun nests and to capture 132 German soldiers:



The paradox of war for any good man who fights in one:  taking lives to save lives.  I will report back as to whether the film American Sniper is successful in addressing this paradox.

Published in: on January 25, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Chris Kyle and Alvin C. York  
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Churchill: The Indispensable Man

Gentlemen, you will never make peace with Napoleon! Napoleon cannot be master of the world until he has smashed us up, and believe me, gentlemen, he means to be master of the world! You cannot make peace with dictators. You have to destroy them, wipe them out!

Lord Horatio Nelson, That Hamilton Woman


Something for the weekend.  Heart of Oak from That Hamilton Woman (1941).  Sir Winston Churchill died 50 years ago today.  He loved that film, echoing as it did his own struggle against Hitler in the earlier stand of Great Britain against Napoleon, and would frequently show it to guests during the War.


When Churchill was born veterans of Trafalgar still lived, the same vintage as our current World War II veterans.  Churchill lived into the dawning of the Space Age.  He led a long and colorful life and he changed History.  The beginning of World War II seemed like the dawning of a new era:  the age of totalitarian empires.  The weak and disunited democracies seemed to be on their way out.  Churchill changed all this by keeping Britain fighting , even when victory seemed impossible, and gave his nation their finest hour.  Having reduced the Thousand Year Reich to rubble and ashes, he sounded the alarm against the Soviet Union in 1946.  Instead of the democracies ending up on the ash heap of history, it was the totalitarian empires who did so, ending like vanishing fever dreams at the dawn of a new day.  Churchill, although he battled depression his entire life, was ever an optimist about free peoples.  This was captured I think in his finest speech with this passage:



Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.


Churchill was the indispensable man of the last century for all those who cherish freedom, and this is a good day to recall him and why it is up to us to continue the fight he waged and to recall his warning if we ever tire of the struggle:


But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. (more…)

Published in: on January 24, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Churchill: The Indispensable Man  

Tour of Duty


For a friend who recently passed away and who served his own tour of duty in Vietnam.  He loved the television show Tour of Duty (1987-1990) that followed a platoon  of  American soldiers in Vietnam.  CBS failed to purchase the rights to the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black for reruns or DVDs, so replacement music is used instead, which is a great shame.  I have seen few videos more evocative of time and place than the intro to Tour of Duty with Paint It Black.  The second and third seasons of Tour of Duty added soap opera and adventure elements which detracted from the realism of the show, but the first season is highly recommended by me for anyone wishing to see a realistic depiction of what life was like for the men who fought one of America’s more unpopular wars and who usually served their country far, far better than their country served them.

Published in: on January 22, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Tour of Duty  
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State of the Union Speech 1924



Although known as Silent Cal, Calvin Coolidge when he gave a speech made certain that each word he uttered was for a purpose.  In 1923 he gave the first State of the Union speech that was broadcast on radio.  His 1924 State of the Union hit hard what was for him a burning passion:  economy in government.  His views are so at variance to what passes for popular wisdom these days, that they deserve to be remembered.  Here is the portion of his speech dealing with controlling debt and the growth of government: (more…)

Published in: on January 21, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on State of the Union Speech 1924  
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The Saint of California

(Republished from 2011.  Based upon the news that Pope Francis is going to canonize Father Serra when the Pope visits the US later in the year, it seemed timely.)


By the 18th Century Spain’s glory days were in her past, and her time as a great power was rapidly coming to an end.  It is therefore somewhat unusual that at this period in her history, Spain added to her vast colonial empire.  It would never have occurred but for the drive of one Spanish governor and the burning desire of a saint to spread the Gospel of Christ.

Miquel Josep Serra i Ferrer was born on the island of Majorca, the largest of the Balearic islands, off the Mediterranean coast of Spain on November 24, 1713.  From his youth he had a desire to join the Franciscans and on September 14, 1730 he entered the Order of Friars Minor, and took the name of Junipero after Saint Junipero, one of the closest companions of Saint Francis.  He had a sharp mind, and before his ordination to the priesthood was appointed lector of philosophy.  He would go on to earn a doctorate in philosophy from Lullian University and went on to occupy the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy there.  A quiet life teaching philosophy was his for the asking.  Instead, he went off to be a missionary in the New World in 1749.

His first assignment was to teach in Mexico City, but that was not why he had left the Old World.  At his request he was assigned to the Sierra Gorda Indian missions in Central Mexico as a mission priest, a task which occupied him  for the next nine years.

In 1768 he was appointed the head of 15 Franciscans in Baja California who were taking over Jesuit missions to the Indians there, following the suppression of the Jesuit Order.  It was in Baja California that he met the Governor of that province, Gaspar de Portola. (more…)

Published in: on January 20, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Saint of California  
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Frederick Douglass Speech on the Thirteenth Amendment


In May 1865 William Lloyd Garrison moved at its convention for the disbanding of the American Anti-Slavery Society on the grounds that the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery by Congress in February 1865, and its certain ratification by a sufficient number of states, the abolition of slavery was now in sight and the goal of the organization reached.  Frederick Douglass, prophetically, in a response speech the next day said in effect, not so fast.  Here is a portion of his speech:

I do not wish to appear here in any fault-finding spirit, or as an impugner of the motives of those who believe that the time has come for this Society to disband. I am conscious of no suspicion of the purity and excellence of the motives that animate the President of this Society [William Lloyd Garrison], and other gentlemen who are in favor of its disbandment. I take this ground; whether this Constitutional Amendment [the thirteenth] is law or not, whether it has been ratified by a sufficient number of States to make it law or not, I hold that the work of Abolitionists is not done. Even if every State in the Union had ratified that Amendment, while the black man is confronted in the legislation of the South by the word “white,” our work as Abolitionists, as I conceive it, is not done. I took the ground, last night, that the South, by unfriendly legislation, could make our liberty, under that provision, a delusion, a mockery, and a snare, and I hold that ground now. What advantage is a provision like this Amendment to the black man, if the Legislature of any State can to-morrow declare that no black man’s testimony shall be received in a court of law? Where are we then? Any wretch may enter the house of a black man, and commit any violence he pleases; if he happens to do it only in the presence of black persons, he goes unwhipt of justice [“Hear, hear.”] And don’t tell me that those people down there have become so just and honest all at once that they will not pass laws denying to black men the right to testify against white men in the courts of law. Why, our Northern States have done it. Illinois, Indiana and Ohio have done it. Here, in the midst of institutions that have gone forth from old Plymouth Rock, the black, man has been excluded from testifying in the courts of law; and if the Legislature of every Southern State to-morrow pass a law, declaring that no Negro shall testify in any courts of law, they will not violate that provision of the Constitution. Such laws exist now at the South, and they might exist under this provision of the Constitution, that there shall be neither slavery not involuntary servitude in any State of the Union….

Slavery is not abolished until the black man has the ballot. While the Legislatures of the South retain the right to pass laws making any discrimination between black and white, slavery still lives there. [Applause.] As Edmund Quincy once said, “While the word ‘white’ is on the statute-book of Massachusetts, Massachusetts is a slave State. While a black man can be turned out of a car in Massachusetts, Massachusetts is a slave State. While a slave can be taken from old Massachusetts, Massachusetts is a slave State.” That is what I heard Edmund Quincy say twenty-three or twenty-four years ago. I never forget such a thing. Now, while the black man can be denied a vote, while the Legislatures of the South can take from him the right to keep and bear arms, as they can-they would not allow a Negro to walk with a cane where I came from, they would not allow five of them to assemble together the work of the Abolitionists is not finished. Notwithstanding the provision in the Constitution of the United States, that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, the black man has never had the right either to keep or bear arms; and the Legislatures of the States will still have the power to forbid it, under this Amendment. They can carry on a system of unfriendly legislation, and will they not do it? Have they not got prejudice there to do it with? Think you, that because they are for the moment in the talons and beak of our glorious eagle, instead of the slave being there, as formerly, that they are converted? I hear of the loyalty at Wilmington, the loyalty at South Carolina-what is it worth?

[“Not a straw.”]

Not a straw. I thank my friend for admitting it.


Published in: on January 19, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Seven Cities of Gold


Something for the Weekend.  After hearing this week that Pope Francis plans to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, the Apostle of California, while he is in this country later this year, the musical score to the heavily fictionalized account of the first missionary journey of Serra, Seven Cities of Gold (1955) seems appropriate.

In 1955 Hollywood told the story of the 1769 expedition to Alta California in the film Seven Cities of Gold.  Michael Rennie gave a very good performance as Father Serra and Anthony Quinn gave an equally fine performance as Governor Portolla.  Of course Hollywood could not remain completely faithful to history, and a fictional hunt for the Seven Cities of Cibola was given as the reason for the expedition.  A love story between an Indian girl and one of the Spanish officers was also grafted on to the story.  In spite of the usually Hollywood twisting of history, the film is accurate in its depiction of the goodness and charity of Father Serra and his zeal to spread the Gospel.  One scene from the movie has him denouncing the greed of the Spanish soldiers and their desire to exploit the Indians: (more…)

Published in: on January 17, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Seven Cities of Gold  
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