A controversial and tireless advocate for the nation's capital who created jobs for generations of black families, Marion Barry was the ultimate District of Columbia politician, though his arrest for drug use in the midst of a crack cocaine epidemic often overshadows his accomplishments.
I was touched that you asked for my advice about going into politics. Anyone whose career in politics was nasty, brutish, and short—as mine was—is grateful that anyone thinks their opinion is worth hearing. All I’d claim is that my thoughts come with what Scott Fitzgerald called “the authority of failure.”
And he is one of the great authorities of the age.
First of all, you need to know why you want it. You’d be amazed at how many people who go into politics can’t give you an honest answer to why they want it so badly.
Actually most politicians can give you an honest answer, it's just one that would make your skin crawl. Speaking of which:
All the best reasons for going into politics never really change: the desire for glory and fame and the chance to do something that really matters, that will make life better for a lot of people. You have to be one of those people with outsized, even laughable ambition, who want their convictions to mean something more than smart conversation at dinner tables. You have to have a sense of vocation, a belief that something must be done and that you’re the person to do it.
In other words the personality of an arrogant self-deluded asshole and borderline sociopath.
I had the vocation for politics. What I didn’t have was any aptitude for political combat.
Or speaking or negotiating or planning or communicating or otherwise explaining what the heck you would do with the office of Prime Minister should you ever have gotten a hold of it.
I took the attacks personally, which is a great mistake. It’s never personal: It’s just business.
Spend ten minutes witnessing the juvenile back and forth of Question Period and ask your self, seriously, whether any business could long endure with such an astonishing lack of professionalism. It's not just business, it's nothing resembling a business, it's recess without the juice boxes.
I went into politics thinking that, if I made arguments in good faith, I’d get a hearing. It’s a reasonable assumption, but it’s wrong. In five and a half years in politics up north, no one really bothered to criticize my ideas, such as they were. It was never my message that was the issue. It was always the messenger.
You had a message? I mean aside from just blithely assuming that so many years at Harvard made you fit to rule over a nation of 35 millions. Note the casual use of the term "up north." We have a name you know.
They will not attack what you say, so much as your right to say anything at all. In my case, they said I’d been out of the country too long, I wasn’t really “one of us,” but one of “them.” I was just visiting.
The signature line of the article reads: "Michael Ignatieff teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School."
It doesn’t pay, either, to pretend to be better than the business you’re in. You can’t succeed in politics if you give too much appearance of despising the low arts by which we govern ourselves. Fastidious distaste for the roughness and meanness of political life may work in a seminar room, but it’s fatal on the campaign trail.
The most successful politician in Canadian history, Mackenzie King, had exactly that sort of contempt for the low arts of political combat. He was also a remarkably compartmentalized human being with an infinite capacity for rationalization. Perhaps that Iggy's real fault: He wasn't a good enough liar and con man to win. A problem the Liberals have readily solved with his replacement.
As I learned while watching wiser colleagues than I in a democratic legislature, it is really something in life to be utterly disabused about human motive, venality, capacity for double-crossing, and yet still come to work every day, trying to get something done.
You're honest enough to admit that but not honest enough to follow the argument. Government is full of wickedness because, by its nature, it's about wickedness. The classical liberal, as opposed to the sour modern vintage, looks at government as a necessary evil. There is really no such thing as good government any more than there is good medicine. If we could do without both we would do so readily.
One of Albert Einstein's most often repeated quotes, especially by pacifists, is about how war cannot be humanized it can only be abolished. A similar sentiment applies to government, except so long as we have wars and violent men it cannot be abolished. Politics stinks for the same reason that sewage stinks. A few dabs of perfume here and there will have little effect.
In closing let me quote a man who, for all his many faults, was the great tribune of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine:
“Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.”
Even her hair cut has a Left-wing Eighties flare to it:
The Scottish Nationalists will demand Ed Miliband scraps Britain’s nuclear base in Scotland and abandon the deficit reduction programme as the price for putting him in Downing Street, the party’s new leader has said.
Nicola Sturgeon, in her first speech after replacing Alex Salmond as the SNP leader, said her party could hold the balance of power after the next election.
Worse things have happened to Britain. Though most of those involved the threat of invasion,
The Tennessee deadbeat who has fathered 26 children with 20 different women has again been ordered by a judge to make child support payments, this time for a two-year-old Arkansas boy, court records show.
Terry Turnage, a 50-year-old Memphis resident, was ordered this month to pay $60 per week to Miesha Davis, mother of the pair’s son Ja’Voin.
We are suppose to condemn Mr Turnage. A very bad man with some very bad habits. Yet this is entirely wrong. He is the perfect modern man. The ideal that a century of anti-family, anti-freedom theorists have been espousing for over a century. This is the end product. And who are we to condemn anyone's sexual behaviour?
There is no indication that Mr Turnage raped any of these women. It would seem unlikely that the mothers, we use the term in its narrow biological sense, were unaware of this man's proclivities. This sort of man, and I have met the type, has a very distinctive personality. Something between a low grade used car sales and a moderately ambitious lout. There is an insouciance about all the little things in life that amount to a lazy drift from one fleeting pleasure to another. I'm quite sure he is a hero to his many friends.
With 26 children breed from 20 women we can reasonably assume that Mr Turnage's sexual conquests reach into the high double and probably low triple digits. It's amazing the man has time for anything else. Which brings us to the nub of the story: Child support.
The story suggests that Mr Turnage works either for McDonald's or is a part owner of a night club. Either of which is entirely plausible. What is more likely is that he is, directly or indirectly, dependent on the largess of the state. This means that, whatever the courts may rule, he is never paying child support except, perhaps, in very small token amounts. Even if he could afford to pay for 26 children, which would require a millionaire's income at least, he hasn't the slightest incentive to do so.
A divorced middle class man can be easily ruined through a combination of unemployment and child support. But if you have no interest in gainful employment? What if your friends and family accept your sexual activity as nothing more than a personal quirk? Living with friends for a few weeks at a time. Picking up odd jobs for cash. Perhaps a bit of crime as well. You can threaten to throw such people in jail, though to what end? The culture of the American underclass and American prisons overlap deeply, a consequence at least in part of the Drug Wars. An irresponsible lout like Turnage would be slipping between two easily navigable milieus.
The system of courts, prisons, police and taxation rest upon one single powerful assumption: That enough of the population of a country decides to act in a responsible and competent manner. Once a critical mass is achieved in the opposite direction the system breaks down. There is precious little incentive in such a place and time to be honest, honourable or responsible. On the contrary there are powerful disincentives against any type of positive behaviour.
The factors are well enough known: A culture of moral relativism, a social benefits system that disassociates need from assistance and a political class terrified of attacking bad behaviour from black Americans, least they be open to automatic and disingenuous charges of racism. When the Progressives of a century ago promised their utopia they argued that the Turnage-type, which of course existed then though in far smaller numbers, were products of capitalism. Once socialism, fig-leaves aside, was truly establish moral corruption would fade away. A new man would emerge.
After a night of drinking with four fellow Peel cops, officer Cody Smith sped off in his pickup, took the QEW in the opposite direction of his home, then swerved all over the road before slamming into a guardrail.
Then, realizing concerned citizens had pulled over to check on him, the rookie officer stepped out of his demolished truck and promptly flashed his new police badge, telling them they could go home.
I'd be less annoyed if this sort of arrogance wasn't so common.
Harper was speaking to a group of other leaders when Vladimir Putin entered the room. Their exchange was terse, Jason MacDonald, the prime minister’s spokesman, told reporters.
Putin approached Harper and stuck out his hand. Harper responded: “Well, I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine.”
OK. It's not Tear Down This Wall, perhaps Peter Robinson wasn't available, but for an economist from Leaside it's about as eloquent as it gets. There is an old saying about disasters: Those who could would not and those would could not. An international leader with the moral integrity to speak blunt truths to power. Unfortunately he leads a country with a small army, a tiny navy and an aging air force. I'm reminded of those old sci-fi shows where some crazed scientist switches the lead actors' bodies. The mind of the coward is placed in the body of the hero, the hero's mind in the body of the coward.
If there are any mad scientists roaming around the next G-7 conference a Harper-Obama swap would not go amiss. We would then have what we have lacked for six years: An American President who understands both the threat of Vladimir Putin and the history of the slapshot.
Naturally I'm not holding my breadth.
This little addendum to the shortest meeting in history was a jewel:
Asked if the Russian president was upset about the comments, he said “Mr. Putin is never upset.”
Yeah tell that to the people of Georgia, Ukraine and whatever the heck is left of the Russian media.
While this new spirit of rudeness in Canadian foreign policy, a phrase unimaginable a few short years ago, is certainly welcome it has a bit of a peevish air. Brushing off a psychopath with nuclear weapons is a heck of way to start a major international summit, something which even Ronald Reagan never did, but the end result of all this is what? Putin just left the summit early. Major world leaders tell him he's jerk and so, like a jerk, he storms off from the meeting and goes home.
It's like high school but everyone, not just the teachers, is on the government payroll. Oh, yes. And one of these idiots can easily start a major war.
“It seems to be a course that for some people has been their nemesis,” said Marie Muldowney, managing director of the Canadian Securities Institute, which administers the CSC and many other investment industry courses and designations. “But for a lot of people, it has been a stepping stone. There’s a whole history of people who have gone through the brokerage industry and qualified with this course.”
I remember taking the CSC right after graduating university. More years ago than I care to count. I don't recall the exam being especially difficult. I do recall it as requiring far more preparation than the Series 6, the rough American equivalent.