It's Wednesday already
, I'm pretty much burned-out and just about everything I want to say about what is going on in our world right now would be a minimum ten page effort.
This can only mean one thing: it's Quick Notes time.
-- On the now-famous video of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair discussing events in the Middle East just prior to a G-8 luncheon, setting aside the merits of the discussion for a moment, I want to say this about form: When the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is speaking to you, you stop buttering rolls, stop jamming them in your mouth, and you certainly do not speak to him while chewing, even if you are the President of the United States.
-- On the substance, I found it very interesting that the two men were talking completely past one another. I've heard better discussions on the matter here and at other websites. It's always sobering to see one's leaders close up and realize that they don't necessarily have any special insight or that they're not especially well-informed. Well, sobering and terrifying.
-- When did Starbucks start putting leftie propaganda on its coffee cups? And who in that company thought this would be a good idea? Late last week I had some enormously insulting and incredibly stupid quote from Bob Edwards, who is apparently on satellite radio now. And today my Tall No-Room Americano comes complete with this offering from Andrew Zolli, the "Futurist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer":
"The first person to walk on Mars could be alive today. If so, she's most likely two years old and living in China."
Way to go out on a limb there, Andrew. She "could" be alive. I suppose the uncertainty is the difference between being a prophet and being a "futurist." Which means that we're all "futurists" and that the term has no meaning, but, hey, whatever. And note the clever subversion of the dominant repressive paradigm disguised as the inside of a Hallmark Card! The person to walk on Mars won't be some butch U.S. Air Force guy with a close cropped haircut and a Southern accent who looks like he just walked off the set of The Right Stuff! Oh, no, man! That is so yesterday. First of all, the astronaut is a "she." That's right! A female. Bet you didn't see that coming. Because, you know, female astronauts are so rare. And, what's more, she won't be American. Because China is coming, man. It's the future. Our time nears its end. The future is female and Chinese and not at all like the current oppression, with all of its non-Asian males and Squaresville extras sitting at "Mission Control" with slide rules in their front pockets. A new world is coming!
-- I'm trying to imagine the person who would be moved or intrigued by Zolli's quote and am having a very hard time with it. Now I feel that every time I'm buying Starbucks I'm encouraging this stuff. Why do companies do stuff like this? Can't you just sell me some good coffee? Do I really need your thoughts on the world with it?
-- Speaking of having a hard time understanding stuff, have you noticed the lame ending to the whole "Plamegate" affair. I was just shaking my head with disbelief as I watched Novak's interview that effectively put the issue to bed. Typically, Christopher Hitchens' take is on-the-money. From his Slate column:
Robert Novak's July 12 column and his appearance on Meet the Press Sunday night have dissolved any remaining doubt about the mad theory that the Bush administration "outed" Ms. Valerie Plame as revenge for her husband's refusal to confirm the report by British intelligence that Iraqi officials had visited Niger in search of uranium. To summarize, we now know that:
1. Novak was never approached by any administration officials but approached them instead.
2. He was never told the name Plame but discovered it from Who's Who in America, which contained it in Joseph Wilson's entry.
3. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald had all along known which sources had responded to Novak's questions.
When one thinks of the oceans of ink and acres of paper that have been wasted on this mother of all nonstories, one wants to weep for the journalistic profession as well as for the trees. Well before Novak felt able to go public, he had said that his original source was not "a partisan gunslinger," which by any reasonable definition means that he was consciously excluding the names of Karl Rove or Dick Cheney. And how likely was it anyway that either man, seeking to revenge himself on Joseph Wilson, would go to a columnist who is known to be one of Wilson's admirers (praise for him and his career was a central theme in the original 2003 article), is friendly with the CIA, and is furthermore known as a staunch and consistent foe of the administration's intervention in Iraq? The whole concept was nonsense on its face.
-- Of course, I find myself not understanding what is going on these days, which either means that I'm losing it (a distinct possibility) or the world is going to hell in a hand-basket (also a distinct possibility) or both (the likely answer).
-- Professor Emeritus of Princeton University Robert Paxton, whose speciality is Vichy France, has come up with what I believe to be the best, most accurate and most concise definition of "fascism" that I have ever read. See if you agree:
Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.
-- Regular readers will have no difficulty spotting why this definition appeals to me and why I highlight it here. The key to understanding our entire difficulty has everything to do with the political power of victim status. Tackle that, and we tackle our larger problems at the root.
-- I leave you today with my favorite image of the week. One Vancouver Canuck fan's take on the Dan Cloutier trade and why he is happy to see him out of the Canuck's net: