Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saintlists at BL

Readers of a blog may wonder why there are often lists of saints or beatified people posted there. Among other things, it offers a countercultural perspective. When other people are blogging just about the law, or organized sports, or fashion, or stock prices, etc., lists of "holy people" out of our past cultural history give perspective and depth.
Since it's our past cultural history (and also present cultural history, as with the recent beatification of El Salvador's Oscar Romero), is it just countercultural, or super-cultural? Or maybe both? Your guess is good as mine. Pax vobiscum, homies.

End-of-week saintlist (Joan of A.; Visitation)

Saint Joan of Arc, please pray for us, around this weekend celebrating the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, John the Baptist a-leaping in the latter's womb at the presence of another child in Mary's.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Posting habits here at BL

On this blog, there may not be large substantive posts all the time, since an author can sometimes be busy. Readers can always check back, though.
The list of saints and the beatified will probably be updated regularly, though. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Queer" protesters claim supreme inclusivity for "anal"

     Courtesy of 'Queer' Protesters Disrupt UCSB Talk on Traditional Marriage,
     The College Fix reports that more than 20 UC Santa Barbara students disrupted the start of a talk on campus in support of traditional marriage Tuesday night with loud chanting and crassly-worded signs.

     Wearing black shirts with pink balloons that read “Queer,” the demonstrators stood to block the view of the stage as soon as the talk “Same Sex Marriage: Why Not?” began, chanting “Ain’t no power like the power of people ‘cause the power of people don’t stop.” Some held signs announcing that “Anal is the most inclusive form of f*cking,” “There is a Future in Sodomy,” “God Loves Fags,” and other classy and intellectually persuasive phrases.
     "Anal is the most inclusive form of f*cking". Inclusive of what? Some things are beyond this author. Anyone who can answer, lemme know. Thx.

Mary Ann of J. of P.

St. Mary Ann of Jesus of Paredes, please pray for us.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Philip, Pierre, Augustine

Saint Philip Neri, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, and Saint Augustine of Canterbury, please pray for us.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Alito's Obergefell errors/omissions on Plato and gays

     One'd thought of putting the following in Part II of Grand Theft Bonauto, but it deserves its separate space. (By the way, the present essay was fully published on May 26, though an accidental publishing on May 25 locked in that date.) --During the Obergefell oral arguments on April 28, Justice Samuel Alito commented on Plato and the ancient Greeks being supporters of homosexuality. The transcript for "Question 1" says, in pertinent part,
     JUSTICE ALITO: But there have been cultures that did not frown on homosexuality. That is not a universal opinion throughout history and across all cultures. Ancient Greece is an example. It was it -- was well accepted within certain bounds. But did they have same-sex marriage in ancient Greece? . . . . And they had -- and they had same-sex relations, did they not?
     MS. BONAUTO: Yes. And they also were able to --
     JUSTICE ALITO: People like Plato wrote in favor of that, did he not?
     MS. BONAUTO: In favor of?
     JUSTICE ALITO: Same-sex -- wrote approvingly of same-sex relationships, did he not?
     MS. BONAUTO: I believe so, Your Honor.
     JUSTICE ALITO: So their limiting marriage to couples of the opposite sex was not based on prejudice against gay people, was it?
     MS. BONAUTO: I can't speak to what was happening with the ancient philosophers. . . .
     However, did Plato really write "approvingly of same-sex relationships"? This is a common misconception, or partial misconception, fueled by memes such as the sometimes-lesbian, sometimes-gay-male New York sex club "Plato's Retreat".
     Plato may have seemed to write approvingly, or not fully disapprovingly, of homosexuality at times. However, let's take a look at Plato's last work, the Laws, courtesy of PLATO: AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY, which shows that Alito may have erred by omission of some contrary authority:
     . . . Presumably it is with states as it is with human bodies – one cannot prescribe one definite treatment for one subject which involves no physically injurious consequences along with its beneficial effects. For example, these physical exercises and common meals you speak of, though in many ways beneficial to a city, provide dangerous openings for faction, as is shown by the cases of the Milesians, Boeotians, and Thurians. And, in particular, this practice is generally held to have corrupted the ancient and natural rule in the matter of sexual indulgence common to mankind with animals at large, and the blame for these corruptions may be charged, in the first instance, on your two cities and such others as are most devoted to physical exercises. Whether these matters are to be regarded as sport, or as earnest, we must not forget that this pleasure is held to have been granted by nature to male and female when conjoined for the work of procreation; the crime of male with male, or female with female, is an outrage on nature and a capital surrender to lust of pleasure. And you know it is our universal accusation against the Cretans that they were the inventors of the tale of Ganymede; they were convinced, we say, that their legislation came from Zeus, so they went on to tell this story against him that they might, if you please, plead his example for their indulgence in this pleasure too. With the tale we have no further concern, but the pleasures and pains of communities and of private lives are as good as the whole subject of a study of jurisprudence. (Laws I 636a-d)

     That was exactly my own meaning when I said I knew of a device for establishing this law of restricting procreative intercourse to its natural function by abstention from congress with our own sex, with its deliberate murder of the race and its wasting of the seed of life on a stony and rocky soil, where it will never take root and bear its natural fruit, and equal abstention from any female field whence you would desire no harvest[.] (Laws VIII 838e-839a).
     "Deliberate murder of the race"! Well, so much for "Platonic approval of homosexuality". (Supposedly, the Symposium and Phaedrus said, or implied, some tolerant things about homosexuality; however, near the end of his life, Plato was not so happy about that lifestyle, see the Laws excerpts supra. Indeed, in the Symposium, "Alcibiades spent the night sleeping beside Socrates yet, to the deep humiliation of Alcibiades, Socrates made no sexual attempt (219b-d)."

     See also, e.g., classics professor R.E. Allen's 1993 letter to the New York Times: ". . . Plato condemns homosexual intercourse in both the 'Laws' and the 'Republic.' [etc.]"

      So, "Alito" may sound like "Plato", but that doesn't mean that Alito knows Plato, oh no...

Happy Memorial Day! from Jimi Hendrix

Happy Memorial Day! (More comment on the Obergefell case may wait a few days)
A time to remember Jimi Hendrix (who was in the 101st Airborne Division for a while) doing his patriotic Woodstock performance of the Star-Spangled Banner:

Greg VII, Ven Bede, Mad, Mary Mag

Saints Gregory VII, Bede the Venerable, Madeleine Sophie Barat, and Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi, please pray for us.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bernardine, Eugene, Crispin, Cristobal and Companions, Joachima, Rita, Oscar

Saints Bernardine of Siena, Eugene de Mazenod, Crispin of Viterbo, Cristóbal Magallanes and Companions, Blessed Joachima, St. Rita of Cascia, and Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero (beatified today in San Salvador), please pray for us.

Updated links for Grand Theft Bonauto; Part II coming

There was an electronic glitch damaging some of the links at Grand Theft Bonauto, but they've now been fixed. Revisit and enjoy.
Part II is coming up, maybe on Monday. See you then.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Grand Theft Bonauto?; or, John Bursch & the "dignity" problem

     In Ireland this Friday, May 22, people will have a democratic right to decide on same-sex marriage, with one of the present author’s clients, Heather Barwick, speaking in the Emerald Isle on behalf of traditional marriage. That right of the People to decide, is a right that that we in the States may soon not have. Which would be tragic, seeing all the ugliness that may ensue here: Americans feeling cheated out of their democratic birthright; “traditionalists” and “progressives” bitterly fighting and calling each other “bigots” or “oppressors”; possible open civil disobedience by same-sex-marriage opponents in the offing, with “the kingdom falling apart” and “Camelot in decay”, as in John Boorman’s Excalibur, starring the recently-deceased Nigel Terry (filmed in Ireland, by the way). And the April 28 Obergefell v. Hodges et al. oral argument in the Supreme Court, flubbed by the four respondent States, may have unjustly hastened the end to that democratic choice.

     Mary Bonauto, the petitioners’ counsel, may thus get to “steal” a win, a grand win, she needn’t have won. Her own performance was hardly flawless, though, starting with her intro, “The intimate and committed relationships of same-sex couples . . . . are the foundation of family life in our society.” (The “foundation”? Sans same-sex marriage, there’d be no family life in the USA?) And re Justice Alito’s question about two men and two women (all lawyers) entering a group marriage—riffing off a scenario the present author mentioned to the Court—, Bonauto answered in part, “If there’s a divorce from the second wife, does that mean the fourth wife has access to the child of the second wife?”
     The problem is that there is no “fourth wife”. If Tom Brady “deflated the football”, here Bonauto is overinflating it, doubling the number of wives in the scenario, producing unjustified horror. (No one is accusing of her of malice, but she should’ve been more accurate.)
     Bonauto’s finish, “It’s about the individual making the choice to marry and with whom to marry, or the government”, could apply to anyone: polygamists, first cousins, etc. Still, it made a nice sound bite. But did Michigan’s attorney John Bursch do any better? Or did his argument “go to hell”?

     Actually, what “went to hell” was the outburst after Bonauto, wherein a fellow refreshingly (per Scalia) screamed something like, "You'll all burn in Hell...Homosexuality is an abomination" and was promptly helped out of the Court. It may’ve been a bad omen for anyone following Bonauto.
     Before Bursch came on, though, our Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, claimed that there were no problems for children of same-sex couples. Justice Scalia rejoined, “Well, I think some of the -- some of the briefs contradicted that.” (Scalia may’ve been referring to some of this author’s clients’ briefs—here, here, and here—, six children of same-sex couples, children who didn’t enjoy the experience.) So Verrilli may have been “inflating the football” like Bonauto did.

     However, there are those who deflate their own football. (This article will use many sports metaphors or similes. After all, the sports/politics nexus has been in the news lately, with Mitt Romney getting beaten by Evander Holyfield; the second time Romney has been beaten by a prominent black man, by the way.)  —John Bursch’s introductory words included, “And we’re asking you to affirm every individual’s fundamental liberty interest in deciding the meaning of marriage.” There is a fundamental right to vote, but calling it a “liberty interest” naturally invites the rhetorical rejoinder, “But what about same-sex couples’ liberty?” And indeed, Justice Sotomayor retorted, “So we’re not taking anybody’s liberty away.”

     When Justice Ginsburg—she of the SNL portrayal of her as dancing same-sex-marriage supporter, and soon to be played by Natalie Portman--; queried Bursch on how same-sex marriage hurt traditional marriage, all Bursch could say was the sentiment, frequently overquoted by same-sex-marriage opponents, that “it has to do with the societal understanding of what marriage means”. Sotomayor helpfully quipped, “But the problem is that even under a rational basis standard, do we accept a feeling?”
     Bursch could have said so much else (as will be explored in Part II of this essay), but he chose to lead with his chin in this prizefight. It got worse. (He is no doubt a fine person and superb lawyer, but April 28 was just not his day.)

     Where Bursch’s argument really went into negative overdrive was, in his own and Justice Kennedy’s words (complete with any typos from the "Official Transcript"),
     And what they are asking you to do is to take an institution, which was never intended to be dignitary bestowing, and make it dignitary bestowing. That’s their whole argument. And when you do that, tens of thousands of other children who don’t meet their definition will likewise be left out and suffer those exact same dignitary harms. ...
     JUSTICE KENNEDY: Just in -- just in fairness to you, I don't understand this not dignity bestowing. I thought that was the whole purpose of marriage. It bestows dignity on both man and woman in a traditional marriage.
     MR. BURSCH: It's supposed to --
     JUSTICE KENNEDY: It’s dignity bestowing, and these parties say they want to have that -- that same ennoblement.
     MR. BURSCH: Sure.
     JUSTICE KENNEDY: Or am I missing your point?
     MR. BURSCH: I think you’re missing my point. ...
     Ouch. Be careful what you say to Justices! Is rudeness really necessary?  —More Bursch:
     You know, dignity may have grown up around marriage as a cultural thing, but the State has no interest in bestowing or taking away dignity from anyone . . . . [Really? Then why do soldiers get given medals? Note by the present author]
     JUSTICE KENNEDY: Well, I think many States would be surprised, with reference to traditional marriages, they are not enhancing the dignity of both the parties. I’m puzzled by that. But you have another point to make.
     MR. BURSCH: Well, the -- the main point there is -- is the State’s [sic] don't intend to bestow dignity, but if you turn it into a dignity bestowing institution, then other family structures and children who are excluded from their definition would suffer a dignitary harm. You know, so you can’t draw the line there.
     Actually, you can. You just say that though marriage is a dignity-bestowing institution, not everyone has to be admitted. E.g., let’s say Dad wants to marry his seven sons—not marrying the seven brothers to seven brides, as in a musical, but marrying them to himself. That octo-person arrangment doesn’t sound like it deserves the dignity of marriage.
     So, while Bursch’s point, that some other alternate family structures may not be well-served by the petitioners’ dignity arguments, is technically valid, he made the point in the worst way possible, or close: he sounds like he’s saying marriage itself has no dignity. That sounds like “crazy talk”, which is why Kennedy seems befuddled by Bursch.
     And not just befuddled, but maybe appalled. “Dignity” may be Kennedy’s favorite concept, so for Bursch to say marriage doesn’t give dignity, is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Bursch was practically bashing his own head (and his supporters’ heads) into a brick wall at this point.
     The present author is not pleased to report this all, and hopes the written briefs weigh more than the (failed) oral argument, so that the States and democracy win; but that may not be in the cards.
     (A friend of the present author asked him, in all seriousness, if the States’ attorneys are being paid under the table to “take a dive” and lose the case. This author doesn’t believe so, but given their unfortunate performance, no one should be blamed for believing so.)

     And Bursch is wrong on the law as well, it would seem. American marriage is very much about ennoblement. In contradistinction with Blackstone, who said that in England marriage was really just a civil contract, Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888), notes, with sentimental and grandiose late-19th-Century flourish, that American
marriage . . . . is something more than a mere contract. . . . It is an institution in the maintenance of which in its purity the public is deeply interested, for it is the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress. . . .
     . . . .
     . . . It is rather a social relation like that of parent and child, the obligations of which arise not from the consent of concurring minds, but are the creation of the law itself, a relation the most important, as affecting the happiness of individuals, the first step from barbarism to incipient civilization, the purest tie of social life, and the true basis of human progress.
     . . . .
     . . . In every enlightened government it is preeminently the basis of civil institutions, and thus an object of the deepest public concern. In this light, marriage is more than a contract. It is not a mere matter of pecuniary consideration. It is a great public institution, giving character to our whole civil polity.
(citations and quotation marks omitted)
     So, American marriage has been a dignity-bestowing institution since the 19th Century. For eons. Bursch did his side no favors by forgetting this.

     Bursch also got wrong, on the law, “And I’m reluctant to bring that [abortion issues re negative liberties] up, but, you know, in Roe v. Wade and Casey, this Court says the government cannot interfere in that private choice. That’s a fundamental right.”
     No, it hasn’t been a fundamental right in 23 years at least. Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania v. Casey made it explicit that instead of abortion being a fundamental right (with “strict scrutiny” against any government measures restricting it), there’s now only an “undue burden” test on government restrictions of abortion. This is well-known, and for Bursch to get this wrong is astounding. (He may have been under great stress, but still: re mighty Casey, Bursch struck out.)

     Bonauto then stepped back into the ring, with a conclusion including,
     I hear that Michigan loves adoption, and, in fact, Michigan has placed intensely vulnerable children with these petitioners who have nurtured them to a healthy childhood. Does Michigan deny the marriage because they didn't conceive those children together, when Michigan would let other adoptive parents who are a different-sex couple marry? No. Michigan is drawing a line because it does not approve of the adult relationship, no matter what the protestations they follow.
     “I hear Michigan loves adoption…” Ouuuch. Bonauto is confident enough to start taunting and “trash-talking” her opponent here, like she’s going into a victory windup.
     Her argument was logically imperfect. (E.g., adoption may not be an ideal role model as marriage is often taken to be, so that there are real differences between them.) But rhetorically, it comes off as a bit of a haymaker, maybe knocking Bursch out of the ring for good.

     Hence the title of this essay. This author is surprised someone hasn’t made a video game or GIF yet showing Bonauto whupping Bursch kung-fu style and stealing away a victory, in this Mother of all Cases, that he could maybe have had if he’d argued rationally and effectively. That video game (or GIF) could’ve been called… Grand Theft Bonauto or something.
     Like Floyd Mayweather in the recent fight with Manny Pacquiao, Bonauto made no really big tactical errors and pretty much danced away from any serious damage, as in her inaccurate “fourth wife” response to a question about polygamy, that she was lucky no Justice called her on. And like Pacquiao, Bursch didn’t really land many punches, though he got punched pretty good. (Though at least Pacquiao didn’t hit himself in the head the way that Bursch did on the “dignity” issue and elsewhere.) Or, he got “arm-barred”, if you want to see Bonauto as the Ronda Rousey of the Supreme Court Bar.
     —If the Bonauto-Bursch fight had been pay-per-view, like the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight…what a concept.   Whew.

     Or, putting it slightly more seriously: in these cases, we are dealing with human beings here. Bonauto savvily kept mentioning the human side, i.e., her clients and similarly-situated folks; while Bursch's presentation, somewhat like that of the ungraceful Ed Miliband (Labour) who recently lost to David Cameron (Conservative) in the British elections, did not come off as particularly human: whether wrongly asserting that marriage doesn’t give dignity, or forgetting to mention the real human stories of various people who wrote briefs supporting his side (same-sex couples’ dissatisfied children; sexually-flexible men in happy heterosexual relationships; former homosexuals), or stroppily telling Justice Kennedy, “I think you’re missing my point.” The last is especially ironic, since Bursch’s argument itself was, despite some adequate moments, largely one long “missed point”. In fact, almost a role model for how not to make an oral argument. And the whole Nation may have to suffer for this forever.

     Part II of this essay, within the next few days, will have more commentary on the Irish same-sex-marriage vote, and also include things that Bursch could have done to support his case instead of destroying it. (The Court opinion isn’t out yet, so the debate continues.) And lots of other informative fun, maybe even something re Alito’s errant take on Plato’s views of homosexuality. Peace out ‘til then.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ceci n’est pas une décision de reconnaissance”? or, Zivotofsky’s passport to postmodernism via Plessy and Palestine

     The famous Magritte painting of a pipe, La trahison des images (“The Treachery of Images”), better known as Ceci n’est pas une pipe (“This is not a pipe”), only represents a pipe, true, but still causes confusion with its title. On that note, the November 3 oral argument in Zivotofsky v. Kerry(the present author is one of three amici—not to be confused with “Three Amigos”—on Secretary Kerry’s side) had surprising and possibly “postmodern” views of what saying “Israel”, instead of “Jerusalem”, on Israeli-American tween Menachem B. Zivotofsky’s passport would mean. (The oral arg is a little while ago, but the opinion isn't out yet.)
     Some Justices, thankfully, did not wander too far into the realm of fantasy or speculation: Justice Breyer noted, with true judicial restraint, “Now, I’m a judge. I’m not a foreign affairs expert.” However, after Solicitor General Verrilli said that when Congress passed it, Section 214(d) caused trouble and distress among the Palestinians, Chief Justice Roberts fascinatingly opined,
     But that’s partly because the Executive Branch made such a big deal out of it. I mean, they issue a statement saying, this is unconstitutional and all that. They could easily have said, this is no big deal, they’re just letting whoever is born there pick the name they want to put on . . . nothing to see here, move on, and we’re proving that by going ahead and signing it. And over the intervening course, the executive has litigated this. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that it’s going to be such a huge deal.
But, epistemologically speaking: how does he know this, and with what greater foreign-affairs expertise than Breyer? Does the Court have its own secret diplomatic corps? (“The Supreme Corps”?) Is the Court really supposed to be sua sponte conjecturing (“fact-finding sans citation”) about foreign affairs, or does that exceed the Court’s limited role in our tri-branched system of government?

     As for Justice Scalia, he stated that what foreign powers think about the issue does not matter. (And Justice Alito said foreigners might either misunderstand, or even exploit, the situation.) However, not needlessly angering other nations is a compellingly important part of American diplomacy. So, if the Executive feels it has a compelling interest in keeping “Jerusalem” on the passport, that counts: a paramount state interest makes Kerry’s argument much more powerful.
     And declaring that any feelings of offense by Middle-Eastern Arabs or Muslims, or American Arabs or Muslims for that matter, are either irrelevant, stupid, dishonest, or the fault of George W. Bush instead of Congress, has an uncomfortable resemblance to the part of Plessy v. Ferguson saying of “the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority”, that “If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.” But African Americans were not fooled by that nonsense, just as no one should believe that putting “Israel” instead of “Jerusalem” on a passport is anything but a recognition decision, and an insulting one.
     (Or, as Justice Sotomayor pithily put it, concerning putting “Israel” on the passport: “How could you tell me it’s not a lie?”)

     Justice Kennedy, in perhaps a thoughtful attempt at compromise, proffered that “This designation is neither an acknowledgment nor a declaration by the Congress or President of the United States that Jerusalem is within the borders of the State of Israel” would be a saving disclaimer on the passport. But how convincing is this, really? It did not seem to convince the four more liberal justices (three of whom are Jewish, incidentally). One is not sure whom it could credibly convince, since it seems a bit schizophrenic: “This passport recognizes Jerusalem as Israeli, except that it is not recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli.” This is more confusing and less accurate than “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”, by a long shot.
     (“Ceci n’est pas une décision de reconnaissance”—“This is not a recognition decision” —, a would-be Magritte might quip; except that 214(d) caused Palestinian riots in the real world, not unlike the trouble which Justice Kagan noted is going on right now in Jerusalem. This would be like the pipe in Magritte’s painting emitting real smoke, and proving to be a real pipe.)
     This sort of “deconstructionist jurisprudence”, where a text, i.e., “Israel” instead of “Jerusalem”, can mean anything and is untethered by context (and a mere disclaimer does not provide real context), is also arguably in play in another case, King v. Burwell. King revolves around what is basically a glorified typo in the Affordable Care Act, which typo does not explicitly allow for federal insurance subsidies, and is taken out of context as a reason (“excuse”) for ending federal subsidies. But reference to other parts of the Act shows plenty of reason to believe that Congress wanted federal subsidies to occur. Interpreting text without context is vexing indeed. And as Justice Ginsburg noted, the rest of Section 214’s text supports a reading that 214(d) is indeed about recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli.
     (Much of the Zivotofsky briefing, by the way, had an acontextual feel too. Especially in the Petitioner’s briefs, much of which were about long-ago American diplomatic practice studded with names like “Adams” and “Madison”, there was a “Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1799” vibe which did not do justice to the era in which we live, an era where Curtiss-Wright still holds sway, and an era with decades of deference to both Democratic and Republican U.S. Presidents re the “international status of Jerusalem” issue.)
     Also, Kennedy is an interesting Justice to offer the solution he did, since, on his Zivotofsky logic, he should have preserved Section 3 of DOMA in United States v. Windsor simply by allowing the Executive Branch to issue a disclaimer whenever Section 3 was implemented to interpret marriage solely as opposite-sex, “This designation is neither an acknowledgment nor a declaration by the Congress or President of the United States that same-sex marriages are inferior to other ones.”

     Overall, the Kennedy “compromise” is too non-credible to be a real compromise at all. A real compromise might, say, be something like declaring that all Jerusalem-born Palestinian-Americans can put “Palestine” on their passports as well, lest the Equal Protection Clause be offended.
     After all, the Chief Justice once said, famously, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Then, if followers of his dictum want to be consistent, they should not approve of Section 214(d), since that statutory provision essentially says of an Arab-American born in Jerusalem, “This is not a Palestinian” (thank you René Magritte), in a way that could be considered blatantly bigoted, and may give Jerusalem-born Israeli-Americans a racialized (or national-origin-ized) privilege that may deeply offend the Constitution and the idea of equality and fairness.

     In conclusion: a jurisprudence that outdoes Magritte in terms of postmodern obscurity or evasiveness is not something to be envied. Pretense, even well-meaning pretense, that putting “Israel” on the passport is not a recognition decision, or that it will not rightfully offend many people, or that it does not bring up racialized or quasi-racialized issues of privilege and prejudice, is something the Justices should eschew, not only for the sake of all Americans, whether Israeli-American, Palestinian-American, or otherwise, but also for the sake of “decent respect to the opinions of mankind” in general. The world of nations is not just some colorful painting à la Magritte, but a live, complex, and dangerous reality to be taken seriously and respectfully. One looks forward to the Court taking it seriously and respectfully in Zivotofsky.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

John, Felix, Theophilus

Saints John I, Felix of Cantalice, and Theophilus of Corte, please pray for us.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Happy Armed Forces Day

Happy Armed Forces Day, following last Friday's 70th anniversary of V.E. Day.
Our heroes. God bless.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pancras, Nereus, Achilleus, and Fatima

Saints Pancras, Nereus, and Achilleus, and Our Lady of Fatima, please pray for us.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Claim that "God is trans"

     God Is Trans: The Extraordinary Spirituality Of Transgender Lives (PODCAST) is a "Huffington Post" post whose title proclaims a rather bold thing, that God is transgender, if that is what "trans" means.
     However, the Bible seems to portray God as either non-gendered or male (Jesus), not a gender-changer. And what about the Fifth Commandment? How can you honor your father and mother if Dad turns into Mom, and the Commandment would have to be changed to "Honor thy mother and thy other mother"?
     If "God Is Trans", do we have to show Jesus wearing female underwear on the Cross now? Just asking.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Three saints

Saints John of Avila, Damien de Veuster of Moloka'i, and Ignatius of Laconi, please pray for us.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Nigel Terry RIP

     Following on our earlier post: here's a Guardian eulogy, Nigel Terry obituary: Stage and screen actor known for his roles in The Lion in Winter, Excalibur and Caravaggio:
     Every now and then, a strange and mystical being wanders through the British theatre, and Nigel Terry, who has died of emphysema aged 69, was a prime example. ...
     The wildness came from a deep, still centre. Off stage, in the pub, I remember him rolling his own cigarettes, very slowly, while staring into a pint. As a student, he drove a flatmate crazy with his protracted silences at the breakfast table. “I can’t stand your f[ ]cking moods!” the flatmate exclaimed one morning. Another silence of 10 minutes. “Moods?” Terry muttered, darkly. ...
     Deeply attractive and private to the last, he lived alone in a cottage near St Ives.

     The following video is one nice send-off to him (and also-departed Nicol Williamson as Merlin), who are now in "the land of dreams". (Comparing that level of poignancy and leadership, from Excalibur, with the level of discourse and manners in the just-ended British election campaign, and in the light of a recent "royal birth" and today being VE Day, and Scotland maybe not long for the Union, is up to the reader.) God rest.

Saints Rose and Peter

Saints Rose Venerini and Peter of Tarentaise, please pray for us.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Nigel Terry dead at 69
     More later.
     He would have been an interesting Prime Minister, or monarch.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Holy persons

St. Hilary of Arles and Blessed Gerard of Lunel, pray for us--please. Thank you.