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.)

Too Many Men?

From The Washington Post:

The gender imbalance could prompt a “crisis of masculinity” as traditional roles are upended and males embrace socially regressive stances to prove their manhood, said Prem Chowdhry, a researcher and social scientist in New Delhi. “People devalue their masculinity. If they remain single, they will be declared not men at all. The basic function of a man in rural society is to have a family and look after that family.” (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Greatest Showman

A wonderful family film. From Aleteia:
Now, if you are looking for an accurate biography of P.T. Barnum, the great circus promoter, businessman and politician, The Greatest Showman may not be your source. But if you are interested in a beautiful yarn, this musical delivers. In the film, P.T. Barnum was the son of a poor tailor who finds himself falling in love with the daughter of one of his father’s wealthy benefactors. Barnum was of a lower class than his love interest, but what he lacked in wealth he made up for in passion and imagination. The two would wed (to the great disappointment of her father) and Barnum would be haunted by a sense of ashamed inferiority for the rest of his life.

In short order, Barnum was married with two young daughters and out of work. He was enamored with exotic animals, daring feats and human oddities. As a result, he would take out a loan, hire a motley crue of medical misfits, animal handlers, trapeze artists and start up a circus. With astounding costumes, remarkable acrobatics, and the glee that can only come with the wonders of a circus, Barnum’s dreams come true. And with it comes a subtle sense of dignity for a fiercely outcast group of “freaks” now paid and lauded for their aberrations. But as his success would grow, Barnum would find himself torn in many unforgiving directions: a need for financial success to secure his family, a desire to outdo himself with bigger and better acts, and perhaps most unfortunately, a craving for respect from a higher class that Barnum felt couldn’t help looking down their noses at him. It’s as if his fervent desires become almost embodied in one of the peak songs from the opera singer, Never Enough. Ultimately, however, in the maelstrom of Barnum’s feverish desires, tragedy strikes. His family feels abandoned, his employees feel betrayed, his plan for acceptability falters and his circus is burned to the ground. This is where I saw the true magic of The Greatest Showman. (Read more.)

Casting Out Demons

From Church Militant:
In Rome, exorcists-in-training are being primed for Muslim requests for the rite. At a Regina Apostolorum University conference on exorcism this week, veterans of the rite have instructed students to be ready for Muslims asking for spiritual help.           

Several speakers testified to their own experiences. Albanian Cdl. Ernest Simoni told attendees that over the course of his decades-long ministry, many Muslims have sought him out for help battling the diabolical. He said he honors these requests, noting that "Jesus came for everyone." (Read more.)

The “Great Troublemaker”

From TFP:
In this twilight of mud and opprobrium, the whole world, sleepy and ashamed, is allowing itself to slide down the successive abysses of a gradual acceptance of Communism. However, in this panorama of general devastation, Cardinal Mindszenty has risen as the great nonconformist, the international troublemaker whose unbreakable refusal saves the honor of the Church and the human race. With the prestige of the Roman purple intact on his shoulders, this brave and selfless shepherd has shown Catholics that it is not licit for them to follow the crowds now bending their knees before Belial.

Thus, the admiring gaze of TFP members and volunteers and those in their sister organizations in the Americas and Europe turns to the illustrious cardinal, enthralled by his holy and intrepid attitude. The presidents of these entities have sent the former Archbishop of Esztergom (whose name, from the day he was removed and thus martyred, will share the same glory as that of Esztergom until the end of the world) a joint message that I am transcribing below. I am certain that countless readers would like to have signed it, many with their own blood or tears, the blood of their souls. (Read more.)

Monday, April 23, 2018

St. George and the Dragon

But the knight, turning him about, bade her remain where she was, and went out to meet the dragon.
When it observed him approach, the beast was struck with amazement, and, having paused for but a moment, it ran toward the knight with a great swiftness, and beating its dark wings upon the ground as it ran.

When it drew near to him, it puffed out from its nostrils a smoke so dense that the knight was enveloped in it as in a cloud; and darted hot flames from its eyes. Rearing its horrid body, it beat against the knight, dealing him fearful blows; but he, bending, thrust his spear against it, and caught the blows upon his shield. 
~ Legend of St. George and the Dragon

The legend of St. George and the dragon was one of the most popular stories in the Middle Ages. St. George is generally believed to have lived in Asia Minor and to have suffered under the Emperor Diocletian. Ascalon, the sword of St. George, was celebrated by knights who took the martyred warrior as the patron of chivalry. While his name became the battle-cry of Merry Old England, St. George  was universally venerated in both the East and the West; in the Roman Church he was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

While we know there was indeed a martyr named George, how true is the account of his battle with the dragon? According to New Advent:
This episode of the dragon is in fact a very late development, which cannot be traced further back than the twelfth or thirteenth century. It is found in the Golden Legend (Historia Lombardic of James de Voragine and to this circumstance it probably owes its wide diffusion. It may have been derived from an allegorization of the tyrant Diocletian or Dadianus, who is sometimes called a dragon (ho bythios drakon) in the older text, but despite the researches of Vetter (Reinbot von Durne, pp.lxxv-cix) the origin of the dragon story remains very obscure. In any case the late occurrence of this development refutes the attempts made to derive it from pagan sources....

The best known form of the legend of St. George and the Dragon is that made popular by the "Legenda Aurea", and translated into English by Caxton. According to this, a terrible dragon had ravaged all the country round a city of Libya, called Selena, making its lair in a marshy swamp. Its breath caused pestilence whenever it approached the town, so the people gave the monster two sheep every day to satisfy its hunger, but, when the sheep failed, a human victim was necessary and lots were drawn to determine the victim. On one occasion the lot fell to the king's little daughter. The king offered all his wealth to purchase a substitute, but the people had pledged themselves that no substitutes should be allowed, and so the maiden, dressed as a bride, was led to the marsh. There St. George chanced to ride by, and asked the maiden what she did, but she bade him leave her lest he also might perish. The good knight stayed, however, and, when the dragon appeared, St. George, making the sign of the cross, bravely attacked it and transfixed it with his lance. Then asking the maiden for her girdle (an incident in the story which may possibly have something to do with St. George's selection as patron of the Order of the Garter), he bound it round the neck of the monster, and thereupon the princess was able to lead it like a lamb. They then returned to the city, where St. George bade the people have no fear but only be baptized, after which he cut off the dragon's head and the townsfolk were all converted. The king would have given George half his kingdom, but the saint replied that he must ride on, bidding the king meanwhile take good care of God's churches, honour the clergy, and have pity on the poor. The earliest reference to any such episode in art is probably to be found in an old Roman tombstone at Conisborough in Yorkshire, considered to belong to the first half of the twelfth century. Here the princess is depicted as already in thedragon's clutches, while an abbot stands by and blesses the rescuer.
The key to the legend of St. George is that it epitomizes the spiritual combat in which all Christians are engaged, on one level or another. As Fr. Blake explains:
I love saints like St George, whose true story is lost in myth. In both stories George becomes a Christian "everyman". The first legend reminds us that despite every attempt to overcome him by God's grace George endures and survives all, and even in death is victorious.
The second story draws on apocalyptic imagery, the dragon is the symbol of evil, the power of sin, but here it is to be contrasted with the pure virgin. I am reminded of St Athanasius' struggle for twenty years in the tomb against demons. In all of us there is the pure virgin and the dragon. George, here takes on the attributes of St Michael (Michael means "Who is like God"), in his struggle he overcomes evil which then becomes subject to purity.

More HERE.


Your Culture is Toast

From The Maven:

Maybe it's time to start focus on teaching what happened in the past instead of Howard Zinn social activist history? I had just finished showing my history students the short, moving documentary Auschwitz: If You Cried, You Died that chronicles the return of two survivors, David Mandel and Mike Vogel, to the land of the dead, when I saw this story from the Washington Post:

Two-thirds of American millennials surveyed in a recent poll cannot identify what Auschwitz is, according to a study released on Holocaust Remembrance Day that found that knowledge of the genocide that killed 6 million Jews during World War II is not robust among American adults.
Twenty-two percent of millennials in the poll said they haven’t heard of the Holocaust or are not sure whether they’ve heard of it — twice the percentage of U.S. adults as a whole who said the same.
Asked to identify what Auschwitz is, 41 percent of respondents and 66 percent of millennials could not come up with a correct response identifying it as a concentration camp or extermination camp.
It makes me sick to my stomach to read that – not just because of my job as a history teacher, but more as a citizen who understands the truism that those who forget the injustices of the past are doomed to repeat them.I’m certainly conscious of the fact that not everyone gets into history and loves to read about and study it. I recognize that there is so much in the era of iPads and YouTube and social media to distract even the most well-intentioned among us. And I know that there is a great deal of misinformation that abounds in these “lessons from history.” (Read more.)

A Lost Burial Site

From Royal Central:
The site of Christchurch Greyfriars, is a strange, haunting place, redolent of history. It is now a ruined, public garden and a popular place for Londoners to take their sandwiches for lunch. Long gone is the atmosphere of bells and prayer from the Middle Ages; although in an odd parallel to its previous use as a church, it manages to be a place of peace in the noise of the City and nearby Stock Exchange.

Greyfriars was historically unfortunate in suffering twice as a church both times that London burned; the first medieval, monastic church – which became a parish church following the Dissolution of the Monasteries – was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, the second, Wren church, erected on the old medieval foundations, fell victim to bomb damage during the Blitz. It is close to Wren’s magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral, in which the architect himself is eulogized by his own powerful tomb inscription: “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you”.

Greyfriars was one of approximately fifty London churches which Wren did rebuild, whilst creating other splendid examples of his own, such as the great St. James’s Church in Piccadilly. History made circles, however, for on the night that Christchurch Greyfriars burned during the Blitz, eight other Wren churches were destroyed. One of the few objects that were recovered from the burning Christchurch Greyfriars was the lid of a wooden font, retrieved by an unnamed postman who ran in to save it. Fittingly, the ruins of Christchurch Greyfriars are near Postman’s Park. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Heart of Gold

Queen Anne with her patron saints
Of Anne of Brittany. From The Telegraph:
After Anne’s death in 1514, she was buried, as custom dictated, alongside other French royals in the Basilica of Saint Denis outside Paris. But to show that her heart belonged to Brittany, it was placed in her parents’ tomb at the chapel of the Carmelite friars in Nantes, in accordance with her wishes. As queen she defended the autonomy of Brittany, then a duchy linked by treaty to France and often referred to as “Little Britain”.

Reputed to be the richest woman in Europe, her hand was eagerly sought by many kings. In 1483, her father arranged for her to marry the Prince of Wales, Edward, but the young prince disappeared, presumed to have been killed by his uncle Richard III. She married Charles VIII of France in 1491, ascending the throne as queen consort at the age of 12. As he died without an heir in 1498, she married Louis XII a year later and became the only woman to be crowned queen of France twice. (Read more.)

"If You Don't Agree With Me, You're a Racist"

From Townhall:
Yes, racism plays a central role in American history. Yes, there are still racists in America. But slandering white America in general for the crimes of a few bad apples is no better than slandering black America for the crimes of a few. If Yancy wants to deal with racist death threats, he could start by recognizing that we're all in this together -- and that we side with him against those who threaten him -- rather than pre-emptively characterizing us as the types of people who would write such vitriolic and evil screeds. (Read more.)

In Jesus’ Time

From Aleteia:
In order for people to survive and flourish in the desert, they need water. Until the invention of the aqueduct, perfected by the Romans, but first used Minoans in ancient Crete as early as the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C., people had to live in near rivers and streams or in small groups close to wells and spring. An aqueduct uses the earth’s gravity to move water along a channel from its source to distant people, allowing for the growth of cities and the cultivation of agricultural lands.

It was no mean technological feat for the Assyrians in 691 B.C. to bring water to Nineveh – two millions blocks of stone were used to build a 30-foot high and 900-foot long channel. In 2015, archaeologists discovered a 2,000-year-old 13-mile long aqueduct in Jerusalem. It was built by kings in the Hasmonean dynasty, who ruled Judea and its surrounding regions from about 140 B.C. to 37 B.C., and was still in use until only 100 years ago. The Roman Empire wouldn’t have been possible without the technological advances in water management it invented. Throughout the city of Rome, and running from Germany to Africa, elaborate, highly sophisticated Roman aqueducts that involved underground plumbing supplied water to millions of people. (Read more.)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Lakeside Splendor

From Southern Lady:
When the Anderson family stumbled upon this 1970s cottage on North Carolina’s scenic Lake Norman, about an hour from their Wilkesboro home, there was an instant connection. “The view is absolutely priceless,” homeowner and designer Erin Anderson says. The Andersons went years without changing a thing, but eventually decided on a remodel to gain space to entertain. They doubled the footprint of the kitchen and converted a screened porch into a bunkroom for their three daughters, freeing up bedrooms for visitors. Since it was a vacation home, Erin chose bright, whimsical patterns and fresh colors that blend with with chinoiserie accents as well as distinctive artwork—all by Southern female artists. “Filling our spaces with art we love is always a priority,” she says. (Read more.)


From The Washington Times:
President Donald Trump rode into office on the wings, in part, of a promise to clean up the Deep State, drain the swamp and boot from places of influence those who’ve worked behind the scenes to undo America’s greatness, one unconstitutional usurpation at a time.

It must be working. How else to explain how nuts the left’s been acting of late?

Just look at James Comey and his “A Higher Loyalty” book. In it, he paints Trump as a liar, a mafia-esque leader — a man of small hands, a president who’s brought the country to “a dangerous time,” to an era “where basic facts are disputed, fundamental truth is questioned, lying is normalized and unethical behavior is ignored, excused or rewarded,” he wrote, according to published excerpts. But peer past the words into the mind of the writer and it’s obvious: Here’s a guy who’s so ticked, who’s so pissed, who’s so filled with hate that he doesn’t even bother to filter. The rhetoric is unbefitting for a man of his supposed esteem — but apparently, he can’t help himself.

The tizzy doesn’t stop there. (Read more.)
From The Washington Examiner:
Harvard law professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz argued Wednesday night that President Trump was well within his legal rights to fire former FBI Director James Comey last year, and said that move can't be used as a basis for charging Trump with obstruction of justice. Speaking on CNN, Dershowitz said it's "obvious" Trump fired Comey to put an end to the Russia investigation. But he said while that may not sit well with people, it's still a legal act. "It's not OK, I think it's not illegal," he said. (Read more.)
 From Townhall:
Eleven House Republicans have sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray officially referring Hillary Clinton, fired FBI Director James Comey, fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch for criminal investigation. FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were caught sending hundreds of anti-Trump text messages during the Clinton investigation, have also been referred for criminal investigation. U.S. Attorney John Huber, who was tapped by Sessions a few weeks ago to investigate the FBI's handling of the Clinton email probe, was copied on the request.

“Because we believe that those in positions of high authority should be treated the same as every other American, we want to be sure that the potential violations of law outlined below are vetted appropriately,” lawmakers wrote.

As the letter outlines, Comey is under fire for allegedly giving false testimony to Congress last summer about the FBI's criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's repeated mishandling of classified information. Specifically, lawmakers cite Comey's decision to draft an exoneration memo of Clinton months before FBI agents were done with their work and before Clinton and key staffers were interviewed for the probe. They're also going after him for leaking classified information to a friend, which Comey admitted to under oath.

"It would appear that former Director Comey leaked classified information when sharing these memos with Professor Richman. Accordingly, we refer James Comey to DOJ for potential violation(s) if: 18 USC 641, 18 USC 793, and 18USC 1924 (a)," the letter states. (Read more.)
 From Mike Huckabee:
 Dominating the national conversation for the next few days will no doubt be the interview between ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and fired FBI Director James Sanctimonious --- I mean Comey. This exchange of softball questions and self-serving answers, edited down to one hour (minus commercials) from five hours of conversation, was perhaps the most sickening piece of political propaganda I’ve ever seen on a major network. And that’s saying something.

It’s a mystery how Comey even functions –- his mind, I mean. He wraps himself in “truth” while misrepresenting it numerous times in this interview. He seems to be in such denial that he’s oblivious to the irony of what he’s doing: chiding others for politicizing investigations WHILE APPEARING ON AN AGENDA-DRIVEN SHOW THAT IS POLITICIZING INVESTIGATIONS. The last 15 minutes or so of the interview are as political as it gets, with Comey actually saying in response to some conveniently leading questions that the President is morally unfit for office and calling on Americans to stop him at the ballot box. (Read more.)

Christian and Yazidi Women Still in ISIS Captivity

From the Gatestone Institute:
  • Despite losing control of Raqqa and other major strongholds in Syria and Iraq, ISIS continues to keep many of the women it kidnapped during its rise in 2014. The world seems to have forgotten about them.
  • Habib, traded four times during her captivity, witnessed many cases of Christian and Yazidi girls -- some as young as 9 years old -- sold, raped and tortured by ISIS members.
  • Currently, there are an estimated 1,500 Christian and Yazidi girls and women still in captivity, while 1,000 others are missing in Iraq and Syria. Others are believed to have been sold to sex traffickers in Turkey. It is an issue that the international community cannot ignore. (Read more.)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Marie-Antoinette and Music

From Royal Central:
Whilst musical talent in the eighteenth century was judged to be an appropriate feminine accomplishment, Marie Antoinette’s personal relationship with music was a special one, which reached far beyond mere natural inclination. Music proved to be in many ways, perpetually present, like a main character in her life story, giving parallel to key events or lending them at least, poignant expression. Her love and patronage of the music of the composer Christoph Willibald Glück, whose works she did much to promote in France, reaches back even further than Marie Antoinette’s birth, because the composer’s official inauguration in the role of composer of “theatrical and chamber music” took place in 1755 at a court ball at the summer palace of Laxenburg, when her mother, Maria Theresia, was roughly three months pregnant with her, the Empress’s fifteenth child.

When Archduchess Maria Antonia (“Antoine”) of Austria, the future Marie Antoinette was recorded as singing a French song as early as three-years-old, for the name day of her father, the Holy Roman Emperor Franz I, in 1759. She also met the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who gave his first concert at Schönbrunn Palace, the magnificent Habsburg summer residence on the outskirts of Vienna, in 1762, in the presence of the Empress and the Imperial Family, with the boy prodigy from Salzburg performing on the harpsichord. As Austrian Archduchess, Marie Antoinette’s young love of music was expressed in the painting of her at the spinet by Franz Xaver Wagenschön, a delightful image now part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum collections. The art is arresting, showing Marie Antoinette poised to turn the pages of her music, with one hand delicately resting on the keys. She is dressed in a day dress of blue satin, trimmed with fur, possibly of sable. It is proof, in any was needed, of her early commitment to what would be, a lifelong relationship. (Read more.)


Facebook's Anti-Conservative Tilt

From The Daily Wire:
Sen. Ted Cruz zeroed in on the hard evidence of Facebook demonstrating a "pervasive pattern of political bias." Gizmodo reported in 2016 that Facebook insiders revealed the social media giant kept major conservative stories like ones on Conservative Political Action Conference off its "trending" topics for readers. Facebook shut down the "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day page," blocked a post by Fox News reporter Todd Starnes, has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages and recently declared the videos of pro-Trump black ladies known as Diamond and Silk "unsafe for the community." To his credit, Zuckerberg replied, "I understand where that concern is coming from because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place." Just acknowledging that reality caused the liberals to tear their hair out. (Read more.)

Loss of a Pet

From PetCoach:
Grief upon the loss of a pet is a normal response, and a very individual one. For some people, grieving for a pet who has died may be a more difficult process than grieving for a human loved one. One reason is that the support network of understanding and caring people may be smaller. If a person has lost a human loved one, the friends, family, co-workers, etc., will all be understanding. They may send cards, flowers, and offer food and companionship. This is often not the case when a pet dies. A funeral or memorial service for the deceased person will bring people together to provide mutual support and a sense of closure. Again, in most cases, this does not occur upon the death of a pet. Hurtful comments such as 'Don't be so upset,' 'It was only a cat,' and 'You can get another one,' may add to the grief and feeling of isolation and loneliness. (Read more.)

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Our lilacs are blooming in Maryland. Here is an article on the history of lilacs. Thanks to Catherine Delors; lilacs were much loved by Marie-Antoinette. And here is an excerpt from the poem "Lilacs" by Amy Lowell:

Lilacs in dooryards
Holding quiet conversations with an early moon;
Lilacs watching a deserted house
Settling sideways into the grass of an old road;
Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom
Above a cellar dug into a hill.
You are everywhere.
You were everywhere.
You tapped the window when the preacher preached his sermon,
And ran along the road beside the boy going to school.
You stood by the pasture-bars to give the cows good milking,
You persuaded the housewife that her dishpan was of silver.
And her husband an image of pure gold.
You flaunted the fragrance of your blossoms
Through the wide doors of Custom Houses—
You, and sandal-wood, and tea,
Charging the noses of quill-driving clerks
When a ship was in from China.
 (Read more.) Share

Sweden's Violent Reality

From Politico:
To understand crime in Sweden, it’s important to note that Sweden has benefited from the West’s broad decline in deadly violence, particularly when it comes to spontaneous violence and alcohol-related killings. The overall drop in homicides has been, however, far smaller in Sweden than in neighboring countries.

Gang-related gun murders, now mainly a phenomenon among men with immigrant backgrounds in the country’s parallel societies, increased from 4 per year in the early 1990s to around 40 last year. Because of this, Sweden has gone from being a low-crime country to having homicide rates significantly above the Western European average. Social unrest, with car torchings, attacks on first responders and even riots, is a recurring phenomenon.

Shootings in the country have become so common that they don’t make top headlines anymore, unless they are spectacular or lead to fatalities. News of attacks are quickly replaced with headlines about sports events and celebrities, as readers have become desensitized to the violence. A generation ago, bombings against the police and riots were extremely rare events. Today, reading about such incidents is considered part of daily life. (Read more.)

Symptoms of Depression

From the American Cancer Society:
It’s common for people to have sadness, pain, anger, bouts of crying, and a depressed mood after a loved one dies. It’s important to know about normal grief responses so that you can know if the bereaved person might be getting worse—going into a major depression. About 1 in 5 bereaved people will develop major depression (also called clinical depression). This can often be helped by therapy and medicines. People at highest risk for clinical depression include those who have been depressed before, those with no support system, those who have had problems with alcohol or drug abuse, or those who have other major life stresses. Symptoms of major depression not explained by normal bereavement may include:
  • Constant thoughts of being worthless or hopeless
  • Ongoing thoughts of death or suicide (other than thoughts that they would be better off dead or should have died with their loved one)
  • Unable to perform day-to-day activities
  • Intense guilt over things done or not done at the time of the loved one’s death
  • Delusions (beliefs that are not true)
  • Hallucinations (hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there), except for “visions” in which the person briefly hears or sees the deceased
  • Slower body responses and reactions
  • Extreme weight loss
If symptoms like these last more than 2 months after the loss, the bereaved person is likely to benefit from professional help. If the person tries to hurt him- or herself, or has a plan to do so, they need help right away. In some people, the grieving process can go on for a long time. This happens more often in those who were very close to the deceased. It’s most often caused by attempts to deny or get away from the pain or trying to avoid letting go. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Ladies in Pink

From East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

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From The Spectator:
Last year 80 people were stabbed to death in London, a quarter in their teens. Fifty have died already this year. The Met Commissioner, Cressida Dick, deployed 300 extra police at the weekend after six separate knife attacks last week, five of the victims being teenagers, one a 13-year-old boy.

Welcome to the world of UK drill rap — the music behind the explosion of teenage deaths on London’s streets. This is the music that has turned murder into a money–making industry. Understand it and you understand why these children are dying. A glance at drill videos on YouTube is revealing. Here are no dreams of beautiful women or exotic places. This is a world of shabby London streets, chicken take-aways and dirty stairwells. It centres on London’s various gangs. They display weapons, talk about drug dealing, describe recent stabbings and issue threats to rivals. Their concerns are a bizarre combination of the homicidal and domestic: how to clean trainers soaked in blood or a kitchen knife with bleach. ‘Blood on my skank, keep it, clean it, use hot water and bleach it,’ one rapper instructs would-be assailants. Another video even describes stealing a knife from ‘Mummy’s kitchen’. It is a reminder that these lethal young men and their fans are teenagers still living at home. This is reinforced by their appearance. Every-thing in a drill video is designed to make boys look big and fierce, from the bulk of their jackets to the hoods pulled up over baseball caps. The unguarded glance of a 14-year-old gives the game away. Drillers are schoolboys and still in adult care — or they should be. (Read more.)

Guidelines for Helping Grieving Children

From Vitas Healthcare:
A hundred years ago death was much more a natural part of a child’s experience. Grandparents often lived with families, so children witnessed them growing older and dying. Modern medicine has made strides in reducing infant and child mortality and has prolonged life expectancy for the elderly, so children witness fewer deaths. More and more elderly die in nursing homes and hospitals, outside the home environment. The exclusion of death from children’s lives requires us to teach them explicitly about death and grief.

In Mourning and Melancholia, Sigmund Freud outlined his belief that young children did not have the capacity to mourn. He believed that only as a child developed into an adolescent did he/she acquire the ego capacity to grieve. More contemporary research has concluded that children do in fact have the capacity to experience and express grief, but it is often more intermittent and drawn out over a longer period of time than with adult grief.[i]

The grieving process helps people heal from their pain. Pain is a natural reaction when we lose someone close, and children are capable of accepting painful reality directly and openly. When adults try to protect children from the pain of loss, it is usually themselves they are trying to protect. The most important thing to remember in helping children cope with the death of a loved one is to allow them to express their grief in their own way and in their own time. It is important not to pressure children to resume their normal activities if they are not ready.

Children tend to have “grief bursts” followed by play and normal activities. Children may not be able to succinctly verbalize what they are feeling and instead may demonstrate their feelings through their behavior and play. They may laugh or play at a time that feels inappropriate to an adult. (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Just Little Things

My dearest God, I pray for this,
That all through life I may find bliss
In little, oft unnoticed things:
The rippling song the river sings;
A cat at play; wee hidden blooms,
The fragrance of their quaint perfumes;
Small tender plants that fade and die;
Each different shade of summer sky;
Fresh swelling buds; dead floating leaves;
The nest some loving robin weaves.
Then, through the years, as I grow old
A joy unknown to fame or gold
Will fill a heart that ever sings
Of pleasure found in little things.

By a Carmelite Nun 
Published with the kind permission of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Rochester, NY

(Artwork: "Spring" by Mark Senior) Share

History of Misconduct

From The Hill:
Comey’s history of misconduct at the FBI has hurt the agency’s reputation and sparked criticism about his credibility from members of both parties. Many lawmakers have pointed to Comey’s contradictory statements and violation of federal protocol as indication that he was unfit to lead the agency. For instance, Comey broke FBI protocol by publicly speaking about ongoing agency investigations. In July 2016, he said the FBI was closing its investigation into Clinton’s emails. The Justice Department was not involved in this decision because unverified documents claimed they had an agreement with the Clinton campaign. Then, right before the 2016 presidential election, Comey announced he was investigating a new batch of Clinton emails, to the surprise of then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The announcement caused an uproar among Democrats, who came out in full force against Comey. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said he was “not in the right job,” while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he did “not have confidence in [Comey] any longer.” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Comey had “damaged the institution of law enforcement,” while Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called his actions “appalling.” (Read more.)

Regaining Your Concentration

From Nathan Bransford:
Like many people, I’ve really grappled with the moral imperative of paying attention to ongoing atrocities vs. tuning out and looking away from time to time. It’s a tricky balance. Stay engaged and stay outraged about the injustices you care about, but take care of yourself too. Honestly, one thing that you notice when you stop paying attention to social media is that the news still finds you. You’re probably not really at risk of being uninformed even if you tune out. I’ve gotten my social media usage down to about a half hour a day, and I’ve cut down on the number of sites I check. (Read more.)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Visitors to Versailles (1682-1789)

Louis XVI and Benjamin Franklin
 From Apollo:
From the late 17th century until the French Revolution, the court of Versailles received visitors from the rest of France and from abroad, ranging from travellers, princes, and ambassadors, to artists, writers and philosophers. This collaboration between the Palace of Versailles and the Met – the first of its kind – presents evidence of the many different kinds of visitors, their impressions of court, and the receptions they received – in the form of more than 300 examples of portraits and sculptures, costumes and tapestries, and decorative arts. Find out more about the exhibition from the Met’s website. (Read more.)
From WWD:
 Chief among the outfits in the newly opened exhibit is the three-piece suit worn by Benjamin Franklin during his visit to Versailles. The new exhibition at the Fifth Avenue museum also explores the various elements of a visit to the royal residence in the 17th and 18th centuries. Nearly 190 works from The Met, the Palace of Versailles and 50 different lenders are on view through July 29 in the Tisch Galleries. As America’s first ambassador, Franklin was received by Louis XVI in 1778 and won the military support of France. Franklin’s three-piece suit from 1778-79 is on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The Met’s new show will also feature a French silk brocade grande robe à la française, 1775-85, which was believed to have been worn by one of the wives of Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf — a well-known textile manufacturer — for her visit with Marie Antoinette, as well as a men’s formal French suit and a women’s riding habit. The exhibition also features furniture, tapestries, carpets, costumes, porcelain, sculpture and more. (Read more.)
From Fashionista:
Although more private portions of the palace itself remained off-limits, Louis XIV made himself and his family widely available to their subjects. Several times a week, the sovereign held a ceremonial "grand couvert" in which the royalty dined before the public, while Louis XIV allowed for visitors to watch him pass through the Hall of Mirrors to attend daily mass. And then there were religious holidays and other special celebrations, which featured fireworks, fountain shows and musical performances that attracted hoards of onlookers. But the "best part of Versailles," wrote traveler Adam Ebert from Frankfurt in 1724, was still "the king himself." (Read more.)

None Of Our Business

From Matt Walsh:
Mike Pompeo's confirmation hearing took a weird and graphic turn yesterday when Democrat Senator Cory Booker demanded that the Secretary of State-designate express approval of sodomy. Booker did not just solicit Pompeo's views on gay marriage — which would still be irrelevant to the job he was assigned — but specifically interrogated him about his feelings on gay sex. Booker asked if he believes "gay sex is a perversion." When Pompeo didn't answer quickly enough, he asked again. Then he asked again. Anyone who watched the hearings probably wanted to hear about matters related to American diplomacy and national security, but Cory Booker just wanted to discuss sex positions. It was a perfect illustration of the modern Democrat Party and liberalism as a whole. (Read more.)


Merrywood was the northern Virginia estate of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy's stepfather, Hugh D. Auchincloss, who was truly like a second father to her and her sister Lee. From Decor to Adore:
This brick and limestone Georgian gem was originally built in 1919. The estate is located just northwest of Washington D.C. and just a few miles away from George Washington’s “Mount Vernon”. The home is 23,000 square feet and includes 9 bedrooms, 11 full bathrooms and both an indoor and outdoor pool. The original estate, with it’s 46 acres, was purchased in the mid 1930’s by Hugh D. Auchincloss II, heir of Standard Oil, and the step-father of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. (Read more.)
I am so enjoying J. Randy Taraborrelli's book Jackie, Janet and Lee.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Barefoot in the Spring

All winter long I've kept my feet
Laced up in shoes all tight and neat
But now that spring has come at last
I'm going back to nature fast!

I took off my shoes yesterday
And wandered barefoot on my way;
Across the green fields and meadowland,
Down by the river in the sand.

Wee tiny puffs of dust arose
Between my happy wriggling toes
As over the fresh plowed earth I raced
And left my footprints clearly traced.

From now on, when I get the chance,
I'll throw away my shoes and dance ~
For nothing else can make me sing
Like going barefoot in the Spring.
By a Carmelite Nun

Published with the kind permission of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Rochester, NY