One of the billions and billions of Soviet-era jokes that (perhaps at least as much as anything else) brought about the implosion of the Soviet Union was this one, told by Ukrainians (hat tip to the book Hammer and Tickle): “Are the Russians our brothers or our friends? They must be our brothers because we get to choose our friends.” Today some Ukrainians will find it difficult or impossible to vote. But I expect many millions will vote and thus exercise the right of sovereign peoples to choose their friends.
Jesus Christ and Julius Caesar, in an unusual joint statement issued yesterday after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 Town of Greece v. Galloway decision, that the justices had completely misunderstood them. Christ was particularly offended by the Court’s implication that he would be honored by state-sponsored prayer. Caesar ridiculed the court’s abandonment of Sandra Day O’Connor’s “endorsement” test, noting that “coercion” is always already present in official governmental prayers, regardless of what Justice Anthony Kennedy says. Christ and Caesar agreed that the distinction Kennedy maintained between prayers (inadmissible) aimed at schoolchildren and prayers (innocent until proven guilty, he implied) aimed at grownups was laughable. As Jesus and Julius observed, “none of you people have really ever gotten over middle school yet, so get real about ‘coercion.'”
Vladimir Putin today took a break from sub rosa subversion of former Soviet vassal states to demand the immediate surrender of a named chair in international law at Oxford University. Prime Minister David Cameron offered to refer the matter to an interdisciplinary faculty committee world-renowned for its passive-aggressive behavior. Putin, well aware that this was a neo-imperialist ruse, reiterated that only Oxford’s chair of international law would do. Any counter-offer of Cambridge, or another Oxford department, would be considered as a grave threat to Putin’s sovereign dignity. In another worrying sign, senior Russian officials rejected out of hand the suggestion by international observers that Putin might enjoy the Chair of Deconstructive Studies at Sciences Po in Paris, let alone the Anschluss Chair of Post-Fascist Studies at the University of Vienna, going so far as to charge that these offers were cynical attempts to encircle Holy Russia.