Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

"Very fun." -- J. Bottum, Editor, FIRST THINGS

"Too modest" -- Elinor Dashwood

"Perhaps the wisest man on the Web" -- Henry Dieterich

"Hat tip: me (but really Cacciaguida)" -- Diana Feygin, Editor, THE YALE FREE PRESS

"You are my sire. You give me confidence to speak. You raise my heart so high that I am no more I." -- Dante

"Fabulous!"-- Warlock D.J. Prod of Didsbury

Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Headline in the current print National Catholic Register, on an interview with a Maritain expert: "Dead Frenchman Reads Today's News." Hey, I'd tune in for that! Details at 11!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005
A me Roberti e il Giudice del Fisco....

OK, I kind of want to support the McCain Amendments concerning torture (text here). I have two unanswered questions, though: one concerning protection of civilians, one concerning the incentive structure within the military. More on these in a mo'.

First, the legislative procedural posture. McCain has shown his seriousness by attaching the amendment both to the Defense authorization bill and the Defense appropriation bill. Authorization bills are the way Congress pretends to legislate; appropriation bills are the way it actually legislates. Major government agencies go un-"authorized" for years at a stretch; as long as money is appropriated for them, they can go on functioning.

That means that if you have a policy goal about which you're serious, you have to attach it to an appropriations bill, because authorization bills are at high risk of never passing. Then the Appropriations Subcommittee members and their staffs -- referred to as "the appropriators," as who should say, "the ephors"; Appropriations Subcommittee chairmen are literally called "cardinals" -- will ream your butt for "legislating on an appropriations bill." The horror! As if much legislation ever passed Congress any other way.

Nonetheless, I doubt the McCain amendment will pass. The very lopsidedness of the Senate vote in its favor is a source of my suspicion. Since the House equivalents lack the McCain language, this difference will have to ironed out in a "conference committee" of specially chosen members of each house, called "conferees." Do you think the Senate will instruct its conferees to go to the mat for the McCain language? Do you think the Brooklyn Bridge would look nice on your mantelpiece? Depend on it, those 90 Senators include quite a few who would not have voted for it if they thought it would ever go into effect.

OK, now for my questions:

1. Civilians. I would want some assurance that the McCain Amendment is not a backdoor way of ratifying the Geneva Additional Protocol I of 1977. The U.S. never ratified this, because, as Prof. Yoram Dinstein of the University of Tel Aviv points out in his textbook The Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict (pp. 44-47), it is a threat to civilians.

In Articles 43 it dilutes the previously recognized criteria for lawful combatancy, and then in Article 44 it goes still further and extends the POW privileges of lawful combatants to unlawful ones as well.

By depriving the lawful combatants whom we must fight of any incentive to identify themselves as lawful, Additional Protocol I would force our servicemen into the exact diabolical Hobson's choice that jihadists are forcing them into anyway, but, so far, without our official connivance: the choice between treating the entire local populace of a war-zone as combatants -- and you know what? That's not good for civilians! -- or treating them all as civilians, including the ones who are about to shoot you and blow up your buddies.

Why did the U.N. float this puppy in 1977? Oh come on -- you remember the mid-70s. You don't? Well I do; I was a student at the United Nations International School in those days and I'll tell you in plain words. It was the heyday of Soviet-sponsored "wars of national liberation" in those Third World nations that still tilted to the U.S. in the Cold War, and of dominance of the U.N. by Third World governments that tilted toward the USSR. Additional Protocol I of 1977 transparently aimed at giving "liberation movements," "popular front guerrillas," and other terrorists equal status with lawful combatants, as that term had been understood in centuries' worth of the law of war and in the original Geneva Conventions.

The amazing thing is that even under Jimmy Carter, the U.S. said no, on the whole, we don't think we'll agree to treat the PLO, the Khmer Rouge, and the Baader-Meinhof Gang as the legal equivalent of an army that wears uniforms, carries its weapons openly, answers to an orderly chain of command, and observes the other requirements of lawful combatancy. But thanks for askin'.

Does the McCain Amendment have anything to do with the Additional Protocol? You tell me. By its terms, it applies the Army Field Manual to all detainees in DoD custody. The Field Manual, I presume, was drafted to comply with the Geneval Conventions -- the pre-1977 ones, that is. Apply the Manual to all DoD detainees, and you're applying it to unlawful combatants as well as lawful ones. If that's not the Additional Protocol, it'll do until the Additional Protocol comes along.

2. Incentives within the military. Some may fear that even if enacted the McCain Amdendment won't actually be obeyed. That's possible. But it's also possible that it will provide a new and improved way for ambitious officers to build careers on the ruins of those of accused subordinates. Does anyone remember the sequelae to Tailhook, and how the military can get when it places apparent freedom from error over actual honor and victory? The Pentagon reads the Washington Post just like the rest of us. Winning wars and training others to win wars are, unfortunately, not the only ways to become a hero within the iron triangle of the E-Ring, the Hill, and the media: you can also do it by becoming known as a veritable lion on sexual harassment, or torture, or whatever the outrage-generator du jour.

Aquittal, ashmittal. A military career is over as soon as the investigation begins. The fact of being investigated remains in your service "jacket." Aquittal following court martial means you won't get sent to the stockade, and that your discharge might be higher than dishonorable. But the military career you chose? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Those most at risk will be younger servicemen placed in charge of unlawful combatants. (No one we know, of course.) Under McCain, as I understand it, those combatants will have to be treated the same as lawful ones. The guys in "legal" -- those nice REMFs (RE = rear echelon) -- will be watching for infractions; time-serving superiors will be looking for JAG investigations coming down the pike.

So. I'd like to support the McCain Amendments. (See Catechism 2297-98, 2312.) But I'd also like to get some answers to these questions.

Pope: plenary indulgence will be available on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Brush up your Latin: the official announcement from the Apostolic Penitentiary (they let them out to make announcements -- kidding!) is here.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Sunday, November 27, 2005
Good news for Snape fans: here (taken by Mugglenet and its sources from a forthcoming calendar) is a scene apparently deleted and, one hopes, being saved for the director's cut. Apparently Newell didn't shortchange the Snape-Karkaroff confrontation as completely as appeared.

Friday, November 25, 2005
Then-Msgr, now-Archbishop Diarmuid Martin seems to have progressed a lot, and not in a good way, since I shared a three-bottle-of-wine lunch with him in Rome twenty years ago. I recovered; did he?

South Korea has better Yule Ball posters than we do. (They also have more broadband and more cardinals-per-diocese). The posters: Hermione and Viktor; Harry; Ron; Hagrid and Olympe

(Sorting Hat-tip: Mugglenet.)

Cho in China. Probably needed a double-praetorian guard, touring a country where government tyranny has produced a catastrophic girl shortage. With a bit more human rights, gentlemen, you wouldn't need Scotland to produce your Chinese superstars.

Thursday, November 24, 2005
O beautiful for Pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom built
Across the wilderness.
America, America,
God men thine every flaw.
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

This Calvsymp moment brought to you by Governor William Bradford, Myles Standish, and all their flock with their radically screwed-up theology and their quite breathtaking courage.

"The document" arrives. Text here. Nuanced reportage here. Fact-challenged whining here. Greg explains it all for you here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"Just because it's taken you three years to notice, Ron,
doesn't mean no one else has spotted I'm a girl!"

^O-O^ Let's see.... I loved the movie!

Teenagers can be so awful, but it's so nice to read, or watch, stories about ones who are brave, relatively innocent, and who have two neurons to rub together, sometimes more.

This movie, like the book, presents squarely a vital question of our times. Which is the scariest: fighting a dragon, facing the re-embodied and newly mighty Dark Lord, or inviting your crush to a dance?

As Jack Benny once said in another context: "I'm thinking, I'm thinking!"

Now, to bring this door-stopper of a fourth volume down to a two and a half hour movie, a few things had to be omitted. These included:

* The Dursleys. Just as well. Richard Griffiths (Falstaff in the Arkangel Shakespeare audio recordings) and Fiona Shaw (the Nurse in an audio of Romeo and Juliet starring Kate Beckinsale) will have enough to do in later episodes. Yes, that also means no floo-network break-in and no Ton Tongue Toffee, but what we get instead is better. Here, Harry is already at The Burrow when the nightmare jolts him, and it's Hermione who shakes him awake. She's fully dressed and has quite evidently just come upstairs from the room she's sharing with Ginny. This gives us the movie's first of many moments of chaste sexual tension, as Hermione nudges Ron awake, and, even though he's perfectly decent, he reacts to her seeing him in his nightshirt by shouting "Bluddy 'ell!" and pulling the cover up to his neck.

("Bluddy 'ell" is also the widespread male reaction later on as the Beauxbatons girls sashay into the great hall. Funny -- but it doesn't quite make up for omission of the Veela, the boys' reactions to the Veela, or, funniest of all, Hermione's reactions to the boys' reactions to the Veela. "Honestly!")

* S.P.E.W. Good job, too. Since I love Hermione, I favor deleting anything that makes her look like an idiot. More regrettable, however, is that along with S.P.E.W., we also lose Winky -- in fact, we get essentially no backstory about la maison Crouch. Indeed, the only purpose observably served by the veritaserum is making Barty Jr. divulge that he isn't Mad-Eye (which we were about to find out anyway, as the polyjuice potion wears off) and making him reveal where the real Mad-Eye is. Those learning the story for the first time are left to guess who killed Barty Sr. ("And they say I'm mad.") I daresay the movie stands up without all this; director's cut, perhaps.

N.B. Very cool shot of Snape holding Barty Jr. at wandpoint, no? Even with no one watching, I don't think Snape was looking at the kid like any kind of pal.

* Durmstrang girls and Beauxbatons boys. Only Hogwarts is coed in the movie. I actually don't remember whether there were Durmstrang girls in the book, but there certainly were Beauxbatons boys: at the Yule Ball, a bunch of them rescue the Patil twins from the sour inattentions of Harry and Ron.

* Rita Skeeter, virtually. Her part was so drastically reduced that there could be continuity problems in the movie of OotP if Hermione has to extort Skeeter's cooperation and no one knows why she can do it. It's as if, having engaged Miranda Richardson (who is superb), they couldn't cut her out entirely, but only almost. I really wanted to see her bottled up, because some people just don't learn any other way: don't get spiney with Hermione!

* Correct French. Oh, the Beauxbatons girls are fine, but Dumbledore pronounces their school's name "Bo-battons." Gaah.

* Richard Harris. Duh. The question is, how good a replacement is Michael Gambon? Here, being an opera fan gives me an advantage: there's nothing we're more used to than seeing and hearing different singers portray the same character. In fact, it's one of the things we live for: collecting, say, the Toscas of Callas, Tebaldi, Price, and Milanov, then arguing about them. This happens even within cycles: in the Solti RING, George London is Wotan in DAS RHEINGOLD, while Hans Hotter takes over the part in DIE WALKURE and SIEGFRIED. In the Karajan RING, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau hands off Wotan to Thomas Stewart after RHEINGOLD, and while Jess Thomas sings Siegfried in the opera of that name, Helge Brilioth takes over that character in GOTTERDAMMERUNG.

So how is Gambon's Dumbledore different? You mean, apart from the strange traces of American accent that keep breaking through? Well, he's less too-good-to-be-true than Harris, and that may be a good thing. Harris was too loveable to be looked at objectively. Gambon's Dumbledore could conceivably make mistakes.

Now I'll tick off a few things that were especially cool:

* The entire cast. A few specifics: Brendan Gleeson -- a brilliant find for Mad-Eye. Alan Rickman -- one treasures every moment. Emma Watson -- I'll stop there. Ralph Fiennes -- my relatives in show biz tell me that's all him, except for the flat nose: that's CG, but the rest is all him, with the movements based on observing (a) reptiles, and (b) videos of Hitler. Katie Leung -- my, these Scots-Chinese are cute the way they talk!

*Patrick Doyle, the composer, replacing John Williams. William's main Harry theme is used once or twice, but otherwise this score is all Doyle, and, despite my great admiration for Williams, I think the change was well-advised. You may remember Doyle's scores for Kenneth Branagh's Shakespeare movies. GoF calls for the solemn touch that thrilled us at Hero's "funeral" in Much Ado About Nothing and in the Non Nobis in Henry V. Doyle's art is on display from the very first, call-to-arms measures, through Harry's triumphs and Voldemort's horrors, culminating in a fitting funeral hymn for Cedric and an Elgarian end to the school year.

Do the Hippogriff!

EDITED TO ADD: The Paladin of Faith and Reason had the same reax I did: loved it, but would have welcomed an hour more, including e.g. the actual World Quidditch Cup game. And yes, I did notice Krum showing his flying! That could not be left out: Krum's overall fanciability is too important to the later plot.

Monday, November 21, 2005
NRO: The Badlands of Al-Anbar

Sunday, November 20, 2005
Feast of Christ the King

Eight Spanish Civil War Martyrs Beatified, Oct. 29, 2005

Pope Pius IX, Quas Primas: On the Feast of Christ the King (See esp. paragraphs 15 through 18 for Pope Pius's balanced view of the spiritual and civil aspects of Christ's Kingship.)

Friday, November 18, 2005
"Fans pack theatres for Potter film." Creative team says: Expecto Moneyum! My relatives in the biz saw an advance screening and say it rocks. Hopefully it will show, at least, that chivalry lives!

Back to SURC!

We've heard from Jonathan Lee. He spent a week at al-Qa'im, guarding detainees. Al-Qa'im is a town near, but not quite at, the Syrian border; if you look hard you can find it on this map. Bill Roggio has more news here on operations in that region, as does Blackanthem here.

Jonathan Lee is now back at the Haditha Dam, where the routine of river patrols, crypto work, and life at The Villa now resumes. For a Marine, it's a bit humdrum; for his parents, it's nice to take a few deep breaths.

It occurs to me that as Operation Steel Curtain rolls west-to-east, it may drive fugitive insurgents ahead of it, such that eventually, it won't be just fishermen that one finds out on one's river patrol. Oh well. You can't spell Euphrates without YOU!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005
It's not Iwo, but it's not a training exercise either

Nothing's certain, but from reading the war-reporting blogs and exchanging e-mails with other parents of the boys in Jonathan Lee's unit, we gather that he is out supporting Regimental Combat Team 2 in Operation Steel Curtain. Sitting around "The Villa" at the Haditha Dam, doing two or three river patrols a week, was getting old. Well, there's supposed to be more of that, when JL and the other Dam Security Unit members get back from their assignment with RCT 2, which the 1stSgt says will be "within the week."

More news and views on Operation Steel Curtain here and here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
The paperback edition of I am Charlotte Simmons has a redesigned cover:

The cover art on the hardcover was simply a Ivy-style seraphed TW in "Dupont University" colors, with the title illegibly scripted over it. The paperback cover, though giving even less play to the actual title, nonetheless carries art that takes us much closer to the heart of the book: Charlotte herself, uncertainly looking around at her world, in a too-plain dress, some hair conspicuously out of place, not knowing what to do with her hands, a partial silhouette to be filled in, oh and by the way notice her cross-country runner's legs -- all this measured against a background weirdly composed of a pennants and synapses. Cover art matters, and this is a big improvement.

Monday, November 14, 2005
My DOJ job application was pretty good, but Sam Alito's was even better.

This quiz was meant for girls; it apparently has no male outcomes.

That said, I'm delighted to have scored as Elinor! But I have a question: how anyone can be 75% Elinor and 72% Marianne? Does that mean one is 73.5% a mixture of Elinor and Marianne? And wouldn't that mixture, like, explode?

You scored as Elinor Dashwood. As Marianne's older sister, Elinor lives at the other end of the emotional spectrum. She rarely reveals her intense feelings and is more concerned with being honest and loyal than having what she deserves. Even though her intentions are pure, she sets herself up for loss by constantly placing other people before her own needs. Overall, Elinor is gentle and rational but is just as capable of radical emotions (despite her withholding them) as her sister.

Elinor Dashwood


Marianne Dashwood


Emma Woodhouse


Jane Bennet


Elizabeth Bennet


Lady Catherine


Charlotte Lucas


Which Jane Austen Character are You?
created with


You scored as Unipolar Depression. Congraulations! You are depressed! You know just how it feels to bear all the world's burdens, and the value of a 19-hour night's sleep. And you really hate that circle-guy thing on your Zoloft pill packets.

Unipolar Depression


Antisocial Personality Disorder


Borderline Personality Disorder


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder




Eating Disorders


Which mental disorder do you have?
created with

Sunday, November 13, 2005
I have de-linked Papa Ratzi Post. In retrospect, it was too much to hope for that anything associated with the New Oxford Review would nonsuck for long.

But more particularly, Mr. Rose's choices of articles to link to (and he does nothing else on the blog) are strange at best, and form inevitable lead-ins to his unmoderated comment boxes, in which anonymous homosexuals spread innuendo about high-octane Church leaders, and a stream of Church-watching Statlers and Waldorfs grousing about how things aren't being done fast enough to suit them.

F that.

In these years [1816-1844] there were other expeditions and actions in more faraway places, against pirates, slavers, and sundry unenlightened heathen.
-- Brig. Gen. Edward H. Simmons, USMC(Ret), The United States Marines: The First Two Hundred Years, 1775-1975, p. 29

Nunc pro tunc, Happy 230th Birthday (last Thursday, Nov. 10) to the Marine Corps!

Jordanians rock. (Well, a great many of them. There are still problems like this. But that's an Islamic problem. I didn's say Muslims rock; I said Jordanians do.) This blog expresses solidarity with Jordanians in their grief over this past week's bombings, and thanks them and their king for their stand against Al-Qaeda.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Capt. Ed writes in the Daily Standard:
[T]he French have already heard from people who claim that they can negotiate an end to the violence. Local "emirs" representing the sink estates want the French police to withdraw from the territories and allow sheikhs from the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization with ties to al Qaeda,to arbitrate an end to the riots. "All we demand is to be left alone," says Mouloud Dahmani, an "emir" who promises a return to quiet in exchange for autonomy. It is, in effect, a land-for-peace proposal aimed at the heart of France and Christendom.

"Bar weenies." I don't think Harriet Miers needs any more bashing than she's taken, but I couldn't resist posting this Slate piece about law firms and bar associations in "Texas in the late 1980s and early '90s, a time and place in which truly outstanding lawyers pawned off their 'leadership' duties on those who wouldn't be much missed from the billable-hours assembly line."

(This might be the right point at which to put in a plug for the National Lawyers' Association, a pro-life organization that aims to become a full-service bar association and a real alternative to the ABA.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Court says parents not sole providers of kids' sex education

Are you sure that's real substantive due process? Well, it's not very good, is it?

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me! No, not Somalia -- the lobby of the Family Research Council.

Monday, November 07, 2005
This looks like a job for OBVIOUSMAN! Wall St. Journal headline this morning: "Muslim Groups May Gain Strength From French Riots"

Operation Steel Curtain is designed to get jihadists out of western Iraq and seal off the influx of them from Syria, which obviously Syria is not about to do. There has been a Marine KIA in this operation. We pray for his soul and for his family.

On the strategy, Bill Roggio of Fourth Rail says:
When looked at in isolation, individual operations in Anbar province may be interpreted as a futile game of whack-a-mole, with the Coalition blindly striking at the latest insurgent hot spot against an elusive enemy that will rematerialize elsewhere. But a careful look at the past year's operations and efforts to train and deploy the Iraqi Army westward shows the Coalition has a plan, and is executing it.
The hotlink in the above text takes you to Bill's flashpoint narrative of the Anbar campaign, to the tune of the Patton March. Also, check out the CNN video segment on the fighting in Husaybah, to which Bill also links.

And what about Jonathan Lee? Over at the Haditha Dam (well east of the current fighting), things have been quieter since the October 15 vote on the constitution. The worst news is the bad food, and the best news was the steak dinner they had for Halloween, cooked over a grill made from on old fuel drum.

In other Haditha Dam news (motto: One Dam thing after the other), a bunch of young Marines tried to form -- without proper authorization -- a boxing club, to be called The Villa Rumble. (I gather "the Villa" is the name of the house they're living in.) Jonathan Lee did not join, because he objects on principle to organizations that recruit by shining a flashlight in your face at three in the morning.

But really, when is an unauthorized boxing club going to recruit? The funny thing is that successive generations of Privates, PFCs, and Lance Corporals think 1st Sergeants don't know what's going on. They do -- and this one was not persuaded by the theory, advanced by some of the younger guys, that The Villa Rumble was a chess club.

Sunday, November 06, 2005
"After four somnolent years," says Mark Steyn, "it turns out finally that there really is an explosive 'Arab street,' but it's in Clichy-sous-Bois." He goes on:
For half a decade, French Arabs have been carrying on a low-level intifada against synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish schools, etc. The concern of the political class has been to prevent the spread of these attacks to targets of more, ah, general interest. They seem to have lost that battle. Unlike America's Europhiles, France's Arab street correctly identified Chirac's opposition to the Iraq war for what it was: a sign of weakness.

The French have been here before, of course. Seven-thirty-two. Not 7:32 Paris time, which is when the nightly Citroen-torching begins, but 732 A.D. -- as in one and a third millennia ago. By then, the Muslims had advanced a thousand miles north of Gibraltar to control Spain and southern France up to the banks of the Loire. In October 732, the Moorish general Abd al-Rahman and his Muslim army were not exactly at the gates of Paris, but they were within 200 miles, just south of the great Frankish shrine of St. Martin of Tours. Somewhere on the road between Poitiers and Tours, they met a Frankish force and, unlike other Christian armies in Europe, this one held its ground ''like a wall . . . a firm glacial mass,'' as the Chronicle of Isidore puts it. A week later, Abd al-Rahman was dead, the Muslims were heading south, and the French general, Charles, had earned himself the surname ''Martel'' -- or ''the Hammer.''
As if to stress the point, the Belmont Club notes:
The tactics of the "youths" may have evolved spontaneously, and probably did. Nevertheless, because form follows function, they bear an eerie resemblance to tactics employed by the Chechens against the Russian Army in Grozny, and may have been fertilized by ideas from that source.

Secretary Rice celebrates Ramadan with due CAIR. Diana West comments, with many more details.

Thursday, November 03, 2005
I've just realized -- the point of The Republic is that you can't control eros, so the philosophically "just" city fails; in fact it's hard enough to control one's own necessary eros (without which there's no philosophy) so as to avoid the temptation of tyranny. Hence, the best possible regime, despite its faults, is democracy; but the best way to participate in it is as a private-life-living philosopher.


The end justifies the medians. (If Machiavelli had been a statistician....)

Has the Democrats' War on President Bush turned into a quagmire?

Maybe it’s time for them to look at reality of the Senate and, if appropriate, start formulating a comprehensive plan for withdrawal.

And more like that from IMAO. (Hat-tip: Mr. Z.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005
All Saints' Day. Appropriate artwork chosen by Greg.

When is a Supreme Court nominee's religion fair game? When the President or his surrogates pointedly refer to it as one of the nominee's qualifications, especially when there are precious few others. Thus, Roberts's religion was not fair game, Miers's was.

Alito's? Not, because neither the President, any of his surrogates, or any spokesmen for the nominee's cause are out there saying what they said about Miers -- which, mutatis mutandis, would come out something like: "This nominee is OK because he attends this great church, see, it's really really old, and they have this kickin' international posse headed up by a guy in Rome who can get air time for the askin', and, and, and, oh his pastor is pro-life and he thinks most of his congregation is too" etc. etc.

So the Left will say: "Well of course Bush isn't stressing Alito's religion -- he doesn't have to, given Alito's record." And I say: "Right then. My point exactly. Let's debate the record."

But that will leave unsatisfied those opponents who actually wish Bush would stress Alito's religion, because that would authorize public discussion of it as it did with Miers, and that would be good for these folks, see, because, really, they actually don't want another Catholic on the Court.

Whatever the reason, the subject does seem to be coming up. UPI, now owned by the entity that owns The Washington Times, has a story out that begins: "The Roman Catholic Church could have a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court if Samuel Alito is approved to join the body." The Houston Chronicle heads a story: "Alito would give court a Catholic majority -- Nominee's confirmation would mark a religious milestone for the high court." Satirist Jeff Koopersmith appropriate's the Pope's image for a humor piece that's pretty openly anti-Catholic and anti-Italian. And New York's most reportorially-challenged daily goes with hedder: "Alito Could Be 5th Catholic on Current Supreme Court."

The third graf of the Times story gives us just what we always wanted -- the opinion of a Sweet Briar College professor on Catholicism and the Court:
"This would add a whole new meaning to the Catholic rite of confirmation," said Barbara A. Perry, a Supreme Court expert at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. "This would mean that the religion factor no longer matters."
Except that it matters enough to you to make lame jokes about it, and enough to the Times and other outlets to focus attention on it. But you might as well go back to prepping your students for the Magnolia Ball, honeypot: that nice lady from New York doesn't care about your views, only about your jokes at the expense of Catholicism, and it's not very likely she'll call again.