Saint Junipero Serra


Something for the weekend, the music from the movie Seven Cities of Gold (1955).  This came to mind for the weekend’s music due to this news story:


Bigots at work:

While in Washington, Pope Francis canonized a Spanish missionary buried at a mission in California. Over the weekend, a statue of the new saint was vandalized.

Staff at the Carmel Mission Basilica found the courtyard statue of St. Junipero Serra toppled and splattered with paint. Police are investigating, the basilica said on its Facebook page.

“Apparently a person or persons broke in, splattered paint and toppled down the courtyard statue of St. Serra and other historic statues on display,” the post said.

Go here to read the rest.   I wishes those bigots were in front of me right now.  I would sit them down and tell them about Saint Serra: (more…)

Published in: on October 3, 2015 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  

38 men-One B-17


Throughout the struggle, it was in his logistic inability to maintain his armies in the field that the enemy’s fatal weakness lay. Courage his forces had in full measure, but courage was not enough. Reinforcements failed to arrive, weapons, ammunition and food alike ran short, and the dearth of fuel caused their powers of tactical mobility to dwindle to the vanishing point. In the last stages of the campaign they could do little more than wait for the Allied advance to sweep over them. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower






One picture taken of a World War II B-17 and crew that demonstrates what a complex group effort it was to keep a B-17 flying.   At the front the nine man flight crew.  Behind them the ground crew starting with the mechanics, then the bomb supply crew, and the various specialists who ranged from maintaining radios to observing the radios.  The flight crew got the glory and the risks, but without the ground crew, and the huge logistical operation behind them, not a plane would have left the fields.  When it comes to military operations, the part known to the public, combat, is only a part, albeit the most important part, of a complex team effort.  Veterans understand this, but since modern society has few veterans, it is important that the public be reminded of this fact, if they are to have any understanding, especially with current technology, of just how mind-boggingly  complicated modern war is.

Published in: on October 2, 2015 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The First Papal Visit to America–Sort Of


To one who turns the pages of your history and reflects upon the causes of what has been accomplished it is apparent that the triumphal progress of Divine religion has contributed in no small degree to the glory and prosperity which your country now enjoys. It is indeed true that religion has its laws and institutions for eternal happiness but It is also undeniable that it dowers life here below with so many benefits that it could do no more even if the principal reason for its existence were to make men happy during the brief span of their earthly life.


The first papal visit to the United States is usually thought to be that of Pope Paul VI in 1965.  However, Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pius XII, visited the United States in October-November 1936, becoming the first man who served as pope to set foot in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  As Papal Secretary of State, foreign travel came as part of the job, but the purpose behind his visit is still something of a mystery.  Some historians have claimed that he struck a deal with FDR by which the United States would establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican in exchange for the Church silencing radio priest Father Coughlin, initially a supporter of FDR but by 1936 a fierce critic.

It was usual for Pacelli to take an annual vacation and he changed plans to visit Switzerland for the United States on short notice.  He met with FDR on November 5, the day after his re-election.  He did secure a promise that he would appoint a personal representative from him to the Vatican, although this promise was not fulfilled until 1939, after Pacelli was elected Pope.

Pacelli never met with Father Coughlin.  During his tour of the US, Pacelli  brushed aside questions about Coughlin from newspaper reporters, although he made it clear that the Vatican did not agree with his criticisms of Roosevelt. (more…)

Published in: on October 1, 2015 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Buckley and Big Sister

William F. Buckley on Ayn Rand.  During his lifetime Buckley functioned as a gatekeeper for the conservative movement.  Get on the wrong side of Buckley and a group on the right could quickly find itself relegated to the fringes of American life.  So it was with Ayn Rand and her Objectivists, a movement whose main tenet seems to have been to say “Yes Ma’am!” to anything that came from her mouth or pen.  Rand made her reputation and fortune by writing two novels:  The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957).  The poorly written novels, with stick figure characters, were immense financial successes, combining Rand’s anti-collectivist libertarianism with heaping helpings of, for the time, explicit sex, her heroines, always Rand think-a-likes, having multiple lovers.  Between the sex Rand specialized in long, bloviating, didactic speeches:

“Did you want to see it used by whining rotters who never rouse themselves to any effort, who do not possess the ability of a filing clerk, but demand the income of a company president, who drift from failure to failure and expect you to pay their bills, who hold their wishing as an equivalent of your work and their need as a higher claim to reward than your effort, who demand that you serve them, who demand that it be the aim of your life to serve them, who demand that your strength be the voiceless, rightless, unpaid, unrewarded slave of their impotence, who proclaim that you are born to serfdom by reason of your genius, while they are born to rule by the grace of incompetence, that yours is only to give, but theirs only to take, that yours is to produce, but theirs to consume, that you are not to be paid, neither in matter nor in spirit, neither by wealth nor by recognition nor by respect nor by gratitude—so that they would ride on your rail and sneer at you and curse you, since they owe you nothing, not even the effort of taking off their hats which you paid for? Would this be what you wanted? Would you feel proud of it?”

Atlas Shrugged, page 453

Buckley assigned Whittaker Chambers to review Atlas Shrugged.  His review, entitled Big Sister is Watching You, appeared in the December 28, 1957 issue of National Review.


Several years ago, Miss Ayn Rand wrote The Fountainhead. Despite a generally poor press, it is said to have sold some four hundred thousand copies. Thus, it became a wonder of the book trade of a kind that publishers dream about after taxes. So Atlas Shrugged had a first printing of one hundred thousand copies. It appears to be slowly climbing the best-seller lists. (more…)

Published in: on September 30, 2015 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Quotes Suitable for Framing: John Ireland



Be ambitious, seek to elevate yourselves, to better your lot;  too often we are too easily satisfied.  When a man is poor, let him live in a hovel.  I esteem him;  at any moment I tend him the right hand of fellowship;  but if by labor, by energy, he can secure to his family comfort and respectability, and does not, then I despise him.

Father, later Archbishop, John Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day sermon, St. Paul, Minnesota 1865

Published in: on September 29, 2015 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Franklin on Chess



Benjamin Franklin had ceaseless energy to match his brilliant mind.  In 1779 while our ambassador to France, and involved in ceaseless negotiations to make sure that the new found alliance did not founder, he found time to write a brief monograph on chess, perhaps his favorite game:


The game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement. Several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready on all occasions.

1. Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action; for it is continually occuring to the player, ‘If I move this piece, what will be the advantages or disadvantages of my new situation? What use can my adversary make of it to annoy me? What other moves can I make to support it, and to defend myself from his attacks?

2. Circumspection, which surveys the whole chessboard, or scene of action; the relations of the several pieces and situations, the dangers they are respectively exposed to, the several possibilities of their aiding each other, the probabilities that the adversary may make this or that move, and attack this or the other piece, and what different means can be used to avoid his stroke, or turn its consequences against him.

3. Caution, not to make our moves too hastily. This habit is best acquired, by observing strictly the laws of the game; such as, If you touch a piece, you must move it somewhere; if you set it down, you must let it stand. And it is therefore best that these rules should be observed, as the game becomes thereby more the image of human life, and particularly of war . . .

And lastly, we learn by Chess the habit of not being discouraged by present appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favourable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources. The game is so full of events, there is such a variety of turns in it, the fortune of it is so subject to sudden vicissitudes, and one so frequently, after long contemplation, discovers the means of extricating one’s self from a supposed insurmountable difficulty, that one is encouraged to continue the contest to the last, in hopes of victory from our own skill, or at least of getting a stalemate from the negligence of our adversary . . .

If your adversary is long in playing, you ought not to hurry him, or express any uneasiness at his delay. You should not sing, nor whistle, nor look at your watch, not take up a book to read, nor make a tapping with your feet on the floor, or with your fingers on the table, nor do anything that may disturb his attention. For all these things displease; and they do not show your skill in playing, but your craftiness or your rudeness.

You ought not to endeavour to amuse and deceive your adversary, by pretending to have made bad moves, and saying that you have now lost the game, in order to make him secure and careless, and inattentive to your schemes: for this is fraud and deceit, not skill in the game. (more…)

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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September 27, 1945: Hirohito Comes to MacArthur

Emperor and Shogun


When MacArthur took up his command as Supreme Commander Allied Powers it was suggested by aides that he summon Hirohito to appear before him.  MacArthur rejected that suggestion, stating that it was important that Hirohito come to him voluntarily.  That he did on September 27, 1945, the first of eight meetings between the Emperor and the American Shogun.  The meeting lasted only a few minutes with Hirohito taking complete responsibility for the War and requesting that any punishment for the War fall on him.  MacArthur said that the War was over and that he wished to work with the Emperor for the betterment of Japan.  (more…)

Published in: on September 27, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Old Soldiers Never Die

I am closing my fifty-two years of military service. When I joined the army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all my boyish hopes and dreams.

The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good-by.

General Douglas MacArthur, Conclusion to speech to Congress-April 19, 1951


Something for the weekend.  A parody of the hymn Kind Words Never Die, the Army ballad Old Soldiers Never Die enjoyed new popularity when General MacArthur mentioned it in his farewell address.  The version at the beginning of this post was the seventh most popular song based on sales in 1951.

Published in: on September 26, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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No Irish Need Apply


(I originally posted this at The American Catholic, and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People would enjoy it.)

It is always a matter of rejoicing when bad history bites the dust:

The Internet has been buzzing about how discrimination against the Irish was a myth. All it took was a high schooler to prove them wrong.
Rebecca Fried had no intention of preserving the record of a persecuted people whose strife was ready to be permanently written off in the eyes of history as exaggerated, imagined, or even invented.

That’s because Rebecca was too busy trying to get through the 8th grade.

In 2002, University of Illinois-Chicago history professor Richard J. Jensen printed “No Irish Need Apply: A Myth of Victimization.” His abstract begins:

“Irish Catholics in America have a vibrant memory of humiliating job discrimination, which featured omnipresent signs proclaiming ‘Help Wanted—No Irish Need Apply!’ No one has ever seen one of these NINA signs because they were extremely rare or nonexistent.”

In short, those famous “No Irish Need Apply” signs—ones that proved Irish Americans faced explicit job discrimination in the 19th and 20th centuries? Professor Jensen came to the blockbuster conclusion that they never existed.

The theory picked up traction over the last decade, but seemed to reach an unexpected fever pitch in the last few months. Explainer websites this year used it to highlight popular myths of persecution complexes that are, as Vox put it, “stand-ins for an entire narrative about how immigrants are treated in America.” That’s from the lede of an article printed in March called “‘No Irish Need Apply’: the fake sign at the heart of a real movement.”

Here, of course, is the problem: After only couple of hours Googling it, Rebecca, a 14-year-old, had found out these signs had, in fact, existed all along. Not only in newspaper listings—in which they appeared in droves—but, after further research, in shop windows, too.

The Irish were persecuted in the American job market—and precisely in the overt, literally written-down way that was always believed.

All of this would have been written off as a myth if it weren’t for Rebecca Fried, a rising high school freshman—who one of the preeminent scholars on the Irish diaspora in the United States now calls a “hero” and “quite extraordinary”—and who simply couldn’t believe it, either.

Rebecca never set out to prove the thesis wrong. She was just interested in an article her dad brought home from work one day.

“Now and then I bring home stuff for the kids to read if I think they will find it interesting or will convey some lesson,” says Michael Fried, Rebecca’s father. “Half the time they don’t read them at all. Sometimes they’ll read something if I suggest it. Nothing has ever come of any of these things other than this one.”

Rebecca wasn’t even trying to disprove her dad—let alone an academic at the University of Illiniois-Chicago. She just figured she’d Google the words and see what came up over 100 years ago. (more…)

Published in: on September 25, 2015 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Calvin Coolidge


The immigrant who comes to us from a life of oppression must be made to realize that he assumes an obligation; otherwise, he is not wanted. Either he must live with us in the light of the highest citizenship, or else society will impose upon him the very restrictions he has sought to escape by coming here. It is the wolf in sheep’s clothing who has cast a slur on immigration. There are many who land here who really never get to America. They become Americanized in everything but in heart. To teach the foreigner English is a necessary step; but it is not an end in itself; it is merely one of the implements of Americanization. This may hold divers peoples together for a while, just as economic opportunity and financial reward may cover their isolation. But unless, in their living—rather than in then livelihood—they daily exercise the principles on which the Republic rests, we have among us a shell of citizenship liable to explode at the least upsetting of economic balance, rather than the vital spirit which is at the basis of American life.

Calvin Coolidge

Published in: on September 24, 2015 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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