As has probably been obvious, we've had a few technical difficulties in the past 36 hours or so.
First, Blogger went down altogether, then some of my posts were infected with a text type problem that resulted in apostrophes and quotation marks coming across as some sort of demented Euro sign, then I was unable to post at all for a bit. It appears now that the ship has been righted. (Note: The post below on the ACLU's latest loss to the Bush Administration has been restored to proper format, please do scroll down and read it). To celebrate, I now present Tuesday's Quick Notes, a day late and a Euro short:
-- The President dispatched his SecState to Europe to try to mend fences. It appears that all this has done is make matters worse, as Secretary Rice's comments have sparked derision and outright disbelief from Ireland to Germany to France to Greece. This further proves the maxim that Bush Can't Win: should he remain quiet in the face of the charges, he stands guilty, should he challenge the charges, his very defense is dismissed out of hand as being obviously out-of-touch with the reality that he is guilty.
The only proper response is to respond with the contempt such anti-American views deserve and for the U.S. to conduct itself as any other power would if similarly outraged, i.e. go on the offensive. Why shouldn't the Secretary of State challenge members of the Left Party in Germany with their horrific human rights record? Why shouldn't she mock them? However, our institutional culture prevents us from taking such a stand. So, we give the same boring speeches. We fight, both politically and militarily, with one arm behind our back, and, under present rules, doomed to lose.
The answer: create new rules. Remember the Kobiyashi Maru
-- It is impossible to over-state the disaster that is occurring in Europe with regard to the European public's view of the United States. Make no mistake: we are seen by most as human rights violators, international law violators, war-mongers and criminals. In war, perception is all, and we have lost the battle. Only a radical change in direction in U.S. leadership and policy can correct this.
This is unfair and unjust, but it also simply is.
-- The best way forward would be to give Europe what it wants, i.e. drawing down U.S. troops, winding down Iraq, signing on to European-led multi-lateral initiatives, etc. At the same time, the U.S. should conserve its own strength for the battle that is to come, while doing what it can to prepare the terrain politically. In other words, a shift from leading a world to war that it does not believe in to a Churchillian/Rooseveltian opposition, ready to re-assume leadership of a then-united West after the disaster comes.
At times this approach strikes me as over-clever, but given the hardening of public attitudes in the West-where about 50% of the American public strongly oppose the War on Terror and about 80% of the publics in the rest of the West-no other course appears possible to me at this time. A war with such levels of support is bound to be a disaster.
In a world where the U.S. has become to appear to be the problem and not the solution, I don't see how anything else can help.
-- In a major speech, Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin asserted that "[t]he rule of law requires judges to uphold unwritten constitutional norms, even in the face of clearly enacted laws or hostile public opinion." So, really, this whole election of Parliament thing going on right now in Canada is just an empty gesture. To save time and money, Parliament should just be abandoned in favor of CJ McLachlin and her colleagues, who would then wisely rule according to unwritten norms demanded by social justice.
-- It is an event everyone who has been through Navy boot camp has gone through: witnessing the horrific film of the disaster on the deck of the USS Forestal (aka the USS Forest Fire) that occurred after a missle was accidentally unleashed top side. One image that has stayed with me was of the lucky pilot of the plane hit by the missle, who got out of the cockpit and off the nose of the plane just in time.
And who was that pilot? Wikipedia fills me in: "The impact ruptured the fuel tank on his aircraft, the leaking fuel instantly ignited, and knocked a bomb into the fire. McCain escaped from his jet by climbing out of the cockpit, walking down to the nose of the plane, and jumping off the nose boom. A minute and a half after the impact, the bomb exploded underneath the plane, starting a major fire which killed 134 sailors and nearly threatened to destroy the ship."
That would be Senator John McCain (R-AZ).
-- Agustin Mackinlay had a good post the other day commenting on a New York Times article about women's rights in Islamic families in Germany that bears repeating:
Hatun Surucu, 23 anos, muere asesinada en Berlin a manos de ... su hermano. Su crimen? Escaparse de la carcel del matrimonio forzado, una practica comun en los paises musulmanes. Son iguales todas las civilizaciones? Funciona el "multi-culturalismo"? Vale la pena defender nuestros principios judeo-cristianos? Que dicen los auto-denominados "progresistas"?
Translation: Hatun Surucu, 23-years old, was murdered in Berlin at the hands of....her brother. Her crime? Escaping the virtual jail of forced marriage, a common practice in Islamic countries. So, all civilizations are equal? Is this how multi-culturalism works? Who will defend our Judeo-Christian values? What do those who call themselves "progressive" have to say?
It's a good question. One to which the silence in response is deafening. Apparently, the women's rights discourse is only helpful insofar as it advances a line of attack on the West and its values.
-- Speaking of a ringing endorsement of Western values, I caught EuroTrip on television last night. I've always felt guilty about liking that film, until I ran across Mark Steyn's review. As always, the Great One is spot on. And any film featuring a double-decker London bus on the wrong side of the freeway in France while its soccer hooligan occupants shout at the "Fooking Frogs" to get "on the right side of the road" can't be all bad.
-- Further to EuroTrip, later in the film, Michelle Tractenberg's character is reading a French newspaper in the background of one scene. The headline:
"Merde Alors! L'Hooligans!"
-- It's official. Civ IV is an evil, evil game. It's destroying my life, taking over my spare time, making me think about whether or not I should declare war on India when I should be working. Damn you, Sid Meier!
-- Hey, look, the BCS fell in favor of east coast teams. Again. What an amazing coincidence. I suppose we're lucky that USC is recognized, though given the fact that they could probably play competitively in the NFL right now they would be hard to ignore. In any case, I'm looking forward to the Trojans defending Pac-10 honor and just running over Texas in early January. Sorry, Horns, you're out of your league. Literally.
-- New Paul Weller album (should I say "CD"?) is out and the master is back to top form. The Modfather is something else, even after all these years. Check it out.
-- David Cameron is the new Conservative leader. Make sure you catch the next Question Time, which will be Cameron's debut at the Dispatch Box. It's early days, but this young toff looks like a winner to me.