Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"America will never forget ... "

Today, while reading through the so-called "Great Speeches" of the last one hundred years, I came across one delivered by current President George W. Bush to Congress nine days after the terrorist-driven destruction of 9/11. Among many other poignant and well-crafted lines (two points to his speech writer for coming up with "whether we bring our enemies to justice or justice to our enemies, justice will be done") was the following promise and observation.

And on behalf of the American people, I thank the world for its outpouring of support.

America will never forget the sounds of our national anthem playing at Buckingham Palace, on the streets of Paris and at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.

We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside our embassy in Seoul, or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in Cairo.

We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in Australia and Africa and Latin America.

Nor will we forget the citizens of 80 other nations who died with our own. Dozens of Pakistanis, more than 130 Israelis, more than 250 citizens of India, men and women from El Salvador, Iran, Mexico and Japan, and hundreds of British citizens.

America has no truer friend than Great Britain.

Now, I don't want to end up sounding like some melodramatic country song, but with the lowest global approval rating since ... well, ever ... I can't help but think that we have forgotten those sentiments. And we've lost (or are losing) many of our friends as a result.

Why, for instance, did we decide to twiddle away our previous political prowess and relatively unsullied foreign image (remember when EVERYONE wanted to be us ... except France ... and they did too, secretly, from a distance) for a turgid, dumb war in Iraq?

And why have we decided to take the lone wolf, devil may care approach to foreign policy that ends up alienating the new Russia, the new China and the old everyone else? (Granted, we are doing better with some countries, such as India, but we've dropped significantly in the eyes of many, many others).

Before going on, I must point out that yes, I am several years late and a few well-thought-out phrases short of having a really meaningful entry here. (In my own defense, though, I must say that's largely because I was out of the country during 9/11 and the ensuing two years of US foreign relations rebound while I was serving an LDS mission in Southeast Asia leading, as you might expect, to a very different perspective on this whole thing). Obviously, disregarding the downward glances of our foreign friends isn't a new trend or a hot issue - it's been going on for years. For whatever reason though (call it fate, call it destiny, call it being at work with absolutely nothing else to do), my personal apathy toward the whole mess has finally begun to fade away and I've started wondering how to get our country back to where we were eight years ago - at least as far as foreign relations are concerned.

I don't think I'm being naive (idealistic, maybe, but not naive). I'm aware that we've always had a way of grating foreign cultures and countries with our brash, uncouth ways. I mean, we've always sort of done it our own way - but at least we used to have the diplomatic sense to keep more doors open and more friendships alive. And at least we used to try and make sure that when we went into some country, we went in with a wink and a nod from our friends across the pond and around the world (as opposed to the curse and jeer that seem more the preferred greeting today).

In that speech Bush gave nearly seven years ago, he paid homage to the right idea and the right approach to foreign policy: America cannot forget the good the world has done for her. America cannot choose to go it alone anymore (and whoever the next president is, he's got to clue in on that concept pretty darn quick). Sure, we'll continue to have our difference and we can't always just "play nice" with the schoolhouse bully, but if we don't make friends with the other countries on this large global playground, we'll be little more than a bully ourselves.

I may not be the most insightful chap this side of CNN (ha ha), but I do love this country and I always pray for her continued success. God bless America (and God give her sense enough to deserve it)!

God of our fathers, known of old--
Lord of our far-flung battle line
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe--
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the law--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

- Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I got this e-mail a few months back from a co-worker at the Utah Supreme Court. Funny man. I kept it (for the love of a good guffaw) and am only now getting around to publishing it. Enjoy.

Hello [witty moniker]:

It's that time again. I realize that you are all busy with [seasonal non-religious activity], but [pop culture reference], don't you think? Our [regularly occuring, work-related outing] is just around the corner and should be great time to share our impressions of cases, practice caricatures of our favorite jurists, and [pinky and the brain reference].

With that in mind, I say we get together for an informal brown bag lunch on Friday at noon. I realize the notice is short but remember [cite to fake statute], and we took an oath to uphold the law, right? Ha ha!

As usual, feel free to attend even if case discussion is "verboten." We won't make you talk or even eat the dessert unless you are [ambiguous, possibly inappropriate joke]. Chattham house rules apply.

I hope to see you there.

[clever, likely self-deprecating nickname]

Friday, July 4, 2008

Balancing the Court

Finally, for all us "right-brained" lawyers out there - a bit of pictorial magic detailing the voting styles of our current Supreme Court (showing the "major" cases - as judged by the NY Times - over the past term). This pictograph begs two questions, as far as I can see:

(1) Will Kennedy ever NOT be the swing vote? I mean, really ... isn't it time for Stevens to step into the limelight a little? Just a little? (And, while we're on the topic, how 'bout Steven's bow tie? A perfect complement to Thomas's slant-lipped stare of death).

(2) Can Scalia and Ginsberg let bygones be bygones and join together on some issue of universal importance, thus rising above their political biases?

Thanks to those happy-go-lucky NY Times people from whom I lovingly stole this image.