Archive for November, 2007

Happy 60th Birthday…

November 14th, 2007
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P. J. O’Rourke.

The writer/humourist did a nice job of breaking down Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations in last years On the Wealth of Nations: Books that Changed the World. It’s a difficult book to handle, and O’Rourke did so deftly.

For that, for his years of satire, (many a blogger, myself included, knows how difficult it can be to write satire) happy birthday, and may you have 60 more.

Birthday Wishes, Great Writing, Humour

On Brian Mulroney

November 14th, 2007

A quick excerpt from Brian Mulroney Memoirs:

I had long been impressed by the elaborate courtesies extended to former American presidents by their successors, “out of respect for the office,” even when their earlier relations were not warm. I was determined to act in the same fashion toward my predecessor.

During the 1984 campaign I had promised a commission of inquiry into the Petro-Canada financial transactions. I was aware of substantive allegations about prominent Liberals – including some close to the Prime Minister – making millions on the deal when Petro-Canada was set up. Upon reflection, I declined to proceed when it became clear that Trudeau would be forced to testify, thereby being caught up in the media circus that could badly harm him and his family. Because I believed it would be wrong to drag a former Prime Minister through the mud, I cancelled plans for the inquiry (Mulroney, Brian. Memoirs: 1939-1993. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 2007. Page 529)

I point this quote out not because he’s right, he’s not, at least not when it comes to possible criminal action, but because it says a lot about Mulroney. And it says a lot about our political process. As I mentioned last month about a Warren Kinsella penned article:

Here’s a tip for Warren Kinsella, and the rest of the Liberal party. it wasn’t the Gomery Commission that dealt the shattering blow, it was the acts committed by members of the Liberal party that the Gomery Commission investigated that dealt the blow.

Same principle here, an inquiry doesn’t dis-respect the office, it’s the actions of the office holder that stand to disrespect the office.

Stephen Harper is right to call an inquiry, and it should be a full inquiry, looking into Mulroney’s actions while in office, as well as the later actions of Jean Cretien regarding the Airbus probe, reporters who won’t let this story go, and anyone else involved in this story. It’s time for full accountability or, if no accountability is required, to put this story to rest.

Brian Mulroney, Silly Politicians

Taking Up the Quarrel with the Foe

November 10th, 2007
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This is from last November 10th, and looking back on it, it bears repeating:

Why Wear the Poppy?

The inspiration for this column came from Father William J. De Souza’a Column in today’s National Post, Take Up Our Quarrel.

Every year the question of why we wear the poppy comes up, and every year I have felt unsatisfied with the answer. This year, with the Afghanistan mission and the ‘surrender poppy’ in the news, the question is more important, the answers less satisfying.

We wear the poppy because of the reference to it in Lieut. Col. John McCrae’s (1872-1918) iconic poem In Flanders Field. His image of the poppies growing on fresh graves, against a back drop of white crosses, creates a powerful visual:

In Flanders Field the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row.

It is through this visual that the poppy has become universally recognized as the symbol of dead soldiers. However, the poem doesn’t stop at providing a nice visual connection between the WWI battlefields and modern day Canada. It also provides with the reason why we should wear a poppy.

The speaker of the poem is not the poet, John McCrae; it is the freshly dead young soldiers who lie in the Flanders graves:

Between the crosses row on row,
that mark our place…

We are the Dead, Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields

It is not ambiguous, you are being spoken to by the dead, their story being given. But the dead also issue a demand to us:

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.

And that demand from the dead, that is the reason we wear a poppy. The poppy is a convenant between you and them, by wearing it you are committing to take up their quarrel. It is not enough to remember them, we must also remember why they died, why they made the sacrifice they did. And they are not subtle in reminding us so:

If you break faith with those of us who die
We shall not sleep, though the poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Be sure to wear a poppy tomorrow, and remember that by doing so you are keeping the faith with those who die; and that means taking the torch from their failing hands.

And please, please go to your local cenotaph tomorrow, and show the boys who are still here that we have not broken the faith.