Friday, April 27, 2018

State Dinner at the White House, April 2018

There is a fleur-de-lys on the menu!
From Good Housekeeping:
For the china, Melania chose a gold set from the Clinton White House, which created a regal, yet sophisticated ambiance. The White House chef, Cristeta Comerford, served an American menu with French influences, which included rack of spring lamb, Carolina gold rice jambalaya, and nectarine tarts for dessert. Fresh herbs from the South Lawn included. (Read more.)
From CNN:
Even the wine selection was chosen with the French-American relationship in mind. The Domaine Serene Chardonnay "Evenstad Reserve" 2015 was grown from French plants from Dijon "that thrive in the volcanic Oregon soil." The Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir "Laurène" 2014 "uses the motto 'French soul--Oregon soil.'" Following a less formal dinner with the Macrons at Mount Vernon on Monday evening, the first lady hopped off the Marine One helicopter and did one final late-night run-through, personally inspecting each detail, including the white lilac centerpieces, the dripless candles and the entry to the evening, a grand hallway decked out in soft light and pink florals. (Read more.)


A Historic Meeting at the Border

I wonder how many Americans realize what a huge breakthrough has happened...and Trump did it. From The Guardian:

Alfie Evans and the Crossroads of History

Once again, a little child is at the center of the battle between light and darkness. From First Things:
Certain studies can be cited in support of what the physician desires, and studies pointing in a different direction can be ignored. Directive, emotive, and exaggerated language can be used to manipulate, especially when the likely outcomes of various options are under discussion. Numbers can be used in a similar way: Should a consult focus on the two-thirds of patients who have poor outcomes—or on the one-third who have good ones?

These forms of manipulation are a persistent concern in clinical ethics, and they present themselves in dramatic fashion when medical teams discuss disability. Sometimes the desire of a physician to achieve the outcome he wants is so strong that he will engage in deceptive practices called “slow coding” or “show coding.” The physician agrees with the parents that everything possible will be done for their child (“full code”)—but in reality the physician and medical team will not engage in aggressive treatment. This practice is defended by some ethicists today, and is often justified by the physician’s personal judgment that the life of a particular child is not worth saving.

Most often it is done on the down-low. Physicians are good at avoiding public scrutiny of their actions generally, and in these kinds of cases in particular. Decisions to refuse to treat a child because of a disability are distorted by euphemistic references to “mercifully” removing or foregoing “burdensome” or “extraordinary” treatments.

To be clear: The distinctions between life-sustaining treatment that is morally required and that which may be foregone—pioneered by the Catholic moral theology in the late Middle Ages and early Modern period—are essential in these cases. Personally, I take a wide view of what kinds of things might make life-sustaining treatments extraordinary, even arguing that Catholic social teaching requires expense to be one of the factors considered. 

But the principle of never aiming at the death of an innocent person—whether by action or omission—must remain absolutely exceptionless. This is what the dignity of the person requires, especially if one wishes to protect vulnerable populations who are at risk of being marginalized by those who find them inconvenient. And given the checkered history of Western medicine when it comes to the value of the disabled, we must take care to be certain that this principle is enforced in the clinic. Enter the current row over Alfie Evans. At first glance, it may seem that this case has much in common with last year’s debate over Charlie Gard. And indeed, there are important similarities. (Read more.)
From The Catholic Herald:
 These two cases (and there may well be many other we do not know about) provide some context to help us understand why Alfie Evans has been granted Italian citizenship and offered a hospital place in Rome. Essentially, Pope Francis asked the Italian government to act, and they did, just as they had acceded to previous papal requests.

So what can we conclude? First of all, that the Papacy has an eye to, as well as a deep commitment to, human rights, which, as we should all know, transcend national boundaries. So too does the Italian government, whether it be one of the right (as Berlusconi) or the left (like Renzi’s). This leads to a difficult and distressing question. If the Pope and the Italian government (and others too) see the Alfie Evans case in this way – that is a case of human rights – why can’t our own government and courts see it in the same way? The parents are only asking to take their child abroad for treatment; it is devastating that they are not allowed to do so. The intransigence of the British courts and a large swathe of British opinion on this matter makes Britain look as intolerant, in certain lights, as Sudan and Afghanistan. (Read more.)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A French Obsession

From Jeeves at "Tweedland" the Gentlemen's Club:
A fresh vision and a love for French culture inspired Lillian and Ted Williams, classicists and home restorers, to return an abandoned folie in Normandy, France, to the condition that made the structure a "jewel in a wheat field" during the halcyon days before the French Revolution. The Chateau de Morson, built in 1750 for the Marquis de Morson, is one of the few remaining folies in France. The gentlemen’s getaways were frequently a target for revolutionaries seeking to destroy any lingering symbols of the aristocracy. The folies not ruined by political action have been ravaged by the elements, Lillian Williams notes: "This house was not built to survive 200 years, it was built as a whim." The Chateau de Morson is unusual not only for its survival in the face of adversity, but also for its location in the Normandy countryside–most folies were found on the outskirts of Paris and Bordeaux, perfect locations for city-dwelling gentlemen to escape for an afternoon’s dangerous liaison.

When the Williamses entered the abandoned dwelling in Normandy for the first time, they saw a dramatic parlor with 14-foot ceilings and graceful glass doors overlooking fields of wheat. Struck by the beauty, they instantly decided to purchase the nobleman’s playhouse. "It took us 20 seconds to buy and 10 years to restore it. If we hadn’t bought it, it would have fallen down," Lillian says.

As Americans in France, the Williamses join the ranks of legendary interior designer Elsie de Wolfe and novelist Edith Wharton as Francophile owners of folies. What is taken for granted as a French ruin by many natives is rediscovered as a treasure with the fresh, appreciative eyes of Americans, Lillian observes. "I think the Americans have made their impact," she says. In the American style, the couple also brings the do-it-yourself ethic to the Continent. "We used more of our imagination and less of others’," Lillian explains. The walls are hand-painted and fabrics are selected based on her studies of ceramics and extensive knowledge of 18th-century art and textiles, which she uses to design fabric and wallpaper for the likes of Manuel Canovas. A large amount of the repair and refurbishment work on the manor was completed by Ted Williams. (Read more.)

Hospitals and Parental Authority

From New York Post:
Texas law gives life-and-death power to hospitals, never mind what families want. In most states, including New York, families are likely to win if they go to court to stop a hospital from pulling the plug. Unfortunately, they don’t know that and get steamrolled by hospital staff. Later, they may regret they didn’t hold out for more time with their child or a rare, unexpected improvement....In 2005, a court gave a Houston hospital the go-ahead to turn off the ventilator keeping baby Sun Hudson alive, over the mother’s objections. In 2017, again with a court’s OK, another Texas hospital cut off life support from 46-year-old Chris Dunn, who was awake and communicative, but descending into organ failure because of pancreatic cancer. His mother pleaded with the judges that the hospital was “trying to play God.” But Texas law gives hospitals that power. (Read more.)
From the Conservative Review:
 “Who do you think loves that baby the most?” Levin continued. “Who do you think wants to care for that baby the most? Judges? The doctors? No, the parents.” Levin concluded that this is exactly the kind of thing that happens when people give the government control over their health care, and by extension, their liberty and their lives: “In the end, it’s a disaster.” (Read more.)
From Lew Rockwell:
 This evening, a reader sent the following text to me, which comes from the website “Alfie’sArmyOfficial,” the Facebook page of Alfie’s supporters.,I cannot confirm or deny the allegation it makes. But since we are now at “one minute before midnight,” we are in an emergency situation which seems to require some action from some new actor, and the allegation made, if even partially true, may spark such action. It is in this hope that I post the following: “The reason the Government and hospital want this child to die is that if he reaches his second birthday, then he is entitled to compensation for his vaccine injury. Not only will this cost money, but it will make the reality of vaccine injury very, very public. The pharmaceutical/medical mafia is behind this case for sure. Why do you think the hospital won’t let him transfer to another country? Why do you think they care so much? There is a big reason. Wake up and smell the agenda.” Alfie was born on May 9, 2016. If he lives, he will turn 2 years old on May 9, 2018. That is 14 days away. (Read more.)

The Cross Wins in Bavaria

From the BBC:
Premier Markus Söder said crosses should not be seen as religious symbols but as a "clear avowal of our Bavarian identity and Christian values" But opponents said the ruling Christian Social Union (CSU) was trying to score points ahead of October's election amid fears of a rise of the far right. Crosses are compulsory in public school classrooms and courtrooms. The decree, which comes into effect on 1 June, will not affect municipal and federal government buildings in the predominantly Roman Catholic southern state.

"The cross is a fundamental symbol of our Bavarian identity and way of life," Mr Söder said in a statement (in German). "It stands for elemental values ​​such as charity, human dignity and tolerance." He denied the measure violated constitutional rules about religious neutrality and, on Twitter, said he had placed a cross in the lobby of the state chancellery in Munich. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Robin's Egg Blue

Also known as "Marie-Antoinette Blue." (Via The Relished Roost.)


Imposing Polygamy

From The Syrian Observer:
Most Arab countries allow polygamy for men up to four wives, in accordance with Islamic Sharia, which Germany has banned and considers a punishable crime. Mahmoud Afara, who works in a legal advisory office for refugees in Germany, told Enab Baladi that the punishments for marrying more than one woman could include withdrawing the right to asylum or raising the tax limit on normal citizens. The German public prosecutor is studying this month the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the regional administration that exempted two cases, after receiving 30 requests to sue the local administration on the charge of encouraging polygamy. The state justified its acceptance of the family reunification on the grounds that its decisions “do not comprise a general rule and did not support polygamy, and it falls outside its legal capacity to impact marriage rights in other countries.” According to the state’s spokesman Oliver Carstens, the matter is firstly one of the “wellbeing and status of the children.” Afara said that these exceptions are barely noticeable compared with the wave of refugees, and they do not serve as legal permission for more than one wife, but is merely the state “turning a blind eye.” (Read more.)