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GiveLife.ca

    
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PRINT EDITION
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Globe Columnists
Thursday, June 29




  Rex Murphy
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Japes of Wrath



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Why Time passed Obama by space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, January 2, 2010 – Page A17
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup ***Time magazine picked Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, as its Person of the Year. He gets the accolade for presiding over a ''weak economy'' that could have been ''much, much weaker.'' Pretty feeble. I can't imagine someone being named Athlete of the Year because while he ''lost a few games'' he could have lost ''many, many more.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Christmas has its crown again space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, December 26, 2009 – Page A27
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup It's a mildly encouraging sign of more temperate times that Christmas has taken less of a mauling this year. For a number of years, there was a predictable harvest of news stories featuring a school board, a municipality, some hypersensitive public servant calling for the banning of a Christmas tree or the elimination of certain traditional carols, or insisting on the neutral Happy Holidays. They were all essentially the same: some hypersensitive grinch complaining of being ground down, of being ''offended'' by the oppressive Christian cast of this most Christian of holidays.  FULL STORY arrow
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Through Copenhagen's looking glass space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, December 19, 2009 – Page A25
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup When you're getting lectures on ''aspiring to misrule'' from despot Robert Mugabe, you may conclude you've stepped through Alice's looking glass.  FULL STORY arrow
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Golden Bear stays out of Tiger den space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, December 12, 2009 – Page A27
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup I'm not a golfer. I'm an unco-ordinated putz. Thus my relationship with golf, as with most sports, is tenuous at best. I can't even claim to be a good spectator. Not that I scorn those who find delight in games, either as players or fans. People heading off to a hockey game - even those selfless masochists in Toronto who bear the burden of supporting the Leafs - seem to have several Christmases a year. The camaraderie and exuberance of sports fans is a kind of continuous yuletide spirit.  FULL STORY arrow
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A decisive 'coalition crisis' lesson space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, December 5, 2009 – Page A25
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup I'm one of the people having a great bit of fun reading NDP strategist Brian Topp's memoir of the coalition crisis at globeandmail.com over the past week or so. A little bit of history fresh enough to have the tang of gossip, not the least of its pleasures is the detail of the account. I don't suppose anyone with a political bone in their body needs to be reminded of that event. Perhaps curiously, in many ways it's still relevant, very much the driver of the political scene as we're experiencing it a year later.  FULL STORY arrow
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The oil sands have been Gored space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, November 28, 2009 – Page A27
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup Well, it was a very calm and totally unexceptional week, nothing to ruffle the nerves or agitate the conscience. Things rolled demurely along and, in words that Pierre Trudeau borrowed from an inscription that ornaments many an old hippie dish cloth, the universe was very placidly ''unfolding as it should.'' Everything was normal, predictable and just so right.  FULL STORY arrow
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Obama inspires; Palin connects space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, November 21, 2009 – Page A27
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup There are two great political speakers in the America today. Sarah Palin is the other one.Barack Obama's speaking skills are his signature talent. He's a platform performer, a speechmaker in the great tradition, a kind of teleprompter Cicero. The campaign to become President owed more to Mr. Obama's oratorical mastery than to any other element. His speech on race in America, necessitated by revelations of the ugly thoughts and sentiments of his hometown preacher, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was the most important event of his campaign. If it had failed, his candidacy would have been doomed. Under pressure - the great test of the real speechmaker - he delivered.  FULL STORY arrow
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Hypocrisy $tar$ in Hollywood space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, November 14, 2009 – Page A27
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup Long before Leonard Cohen, Cyril Connolly wrote of it being ''closing-time in the gardens of the West.'' Glancing at the gargantuan heaps of money we fling to the wind for the ''unnecessities'' of our distracted lives, perhaps it is not such a bad thing that there is a closing time.  FULL STORY arrow
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All shook up: crucifix out, warming in space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, November 7, 2009 – Page A27
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup What was once venerated is now, in many ways, dismissed and even despised.Matthew Arnold, the great Victorian poet, marked the turning moment. He had early intimations of ''the way we live now,'' a way largely evacuated of its Christian allegiances, certainly - in the public sphere - evacuated of the regard and respect that the profession of Christianity once automatically evoked.  FULL STORY arrow
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Don't turn up the heat on the West space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, October 31, 2009 – Page A27
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup An article on The Globe's front page carrying the headline ''Canada can meet its climate goals, but the West will write the cheques'' raises, among many others, two very interesting points. The article is about a study, conducted by two ardent environmental advocacy groups - the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation - and was sponsored by the Toronto Dominion Bank.  FULL STORY arrow
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Follow the leader, but which one? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, October 24, 2009 – Page A27
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup**Leadership isn't everything, but it's near enough. In today's politics, the leader very much is the party.  FULL STORY arrow
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Be brave: Escape the climate box space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, October 17, 2009 – Page A27
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup It's rather daring that Michael Ignatieff is putting ''green policy'' at the centre of his party's pitch during the next election, whenever that longed-for bliss occurs. Daring, for the obvious reason that it was Stephane Dion's ''green shift'' - purest idealism built on a mud field of impenetrable prose - that so wounded his predecessor in the last election.  FULL STORY arrow
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McGuinty's smoking Galahads space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, October 10, 2009 – Page A25
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup Dalton McGuinty's Ontario government has followed the dubious lead of some other provinces and U.S. states in announcing that it will be suing Big Tobacco, for the titanic sum of 50 billion dollars.  FULL STORY arrow
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A disgusting portrait of an 'artist' space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, October 3, 2009 – Page A25
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup The mewlings of the international excuse-brigade over the arrest of Roman Polanski are diminishing in vigour and volume. This is not surprising. The storm of public protest and disgust toward the band of luminaries who claimed his arrest was ''deplorable'' and would hurt ''the international arts community'' couldn't be ignored, not even by those determinedly careless, sloppy minds.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why Ignatieff muddles and befuddles us space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, September 26, 2009 – Page A25
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup What's the matter with Michael Ignatieff?He has a great family name - diplomat father, philosopher (George Grant) uncle, and a whole kite tail of Russian aristocrats generations back. He was drafted to return to Canada on the strength of his accomplishments as a writer, journalist and teacher. And, in the very brief time since, he has finessed the leadership of the Liberal Party away from a very formidable array of politicians who thought to succeed Jean Chretien.  FULL STORY arrow
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Kanye, that Dame has class space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, September 19, 2009 – Page A23
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup I don't know much about Kanye West's music, and the little I do I shall make every effort to expunge. Kanye West, as all the world (or at least that subset of it that cares about MTV awards) knows, is the arrogant, ignorant little boor who walked onstage as country singer Taylor Swift was receiving the best female video award. He took the mike from her, stole her moment in the spotlight, and proceeded, in front of a live television audience, in effect, to tell her she didn't deserve it. She teared up. The audience, to its credit, booed.  FULL STORY arrow
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Pity the parties' foot soldiers space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, September 12, 2009 – Page A23
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup Cheered by the thought of another election? I didn't think so. Well, if you're not exuberant at the prospect, spare a thought for the foot soldiers of the business. The candidates.  FULL STORY arrow
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No better than a moose in rut space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, September 5, 2009 – Page A21
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupBack home in Newfoundland, it's absolutely essential to look out for moose while driving during the early fall. Because while moose tend to wander the Trans-Canada and the many coastline roads at all times of the year, in the fall, they're in rut. In rut, they're aggressive and anxious, and leave the sheltering woods in greater numbers. They're downright touchy and not too discriminate.  FULL STORY arrow
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No second thoughts in the Senate space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, August 29, 2009 – Page A23
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-- In the sweet declining days of August, Stephen Harper has tossed another sackful of happy conservatives to the Canadian Senate. As is usually the case in these things, there are a few names (Jacques Demers, e.g.) to diversify an otherwise diligently monochrome list.  FULL STORY arrow
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An ordeal that deserves our attention space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, August 22, 2009 – Page A17
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup The case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud has been in the news a lot, and deserves to have been. Most Canadians are already familiar with the key details of her story. Attempting to leave Kenya on May 21, she was stopped by Kenyan officials claiming that she didn't match her passport photograph. It has also been reported Ms. Mohamud was asked for a bribe to allow her to board the plane she was scheduled to travel on back to Canada and she rebuffed the attempt.  FULL STORY arrow
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What's the point of a fall election? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, August 15, 2009 – Page A19
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup Summer is slipping by and, quite soon, it will be a whole year since we had a federal election. A whole year. It's a wonder we still have a country.  FULL STORY arrow
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For politicos, the livin' is never easy space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, August 8, 2009 – Page A17
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup Summertime, and the livin' is easy. At least that was George Gershwin's opinion. It certainly seems to be true as far as Canadian politics is concerned.  FULL STORY arrow
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The real lesson of Obama's 'moment' space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, August 1, 2009 – Page A17
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup We've had the Beer Summit and its teachable moment. If nothing else it put an end (save on Larry King Live and the outer reaches of the cable channels) to the Michael Jackson coverage. Well if it was, in the Oprahesque formulation, a teachable moment - what was being taught? And what has been learned?  FULL STORY arrow
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So where's that global cooling alert? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, July 25, 2009 – Page A17
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup Toronto is having a Newfoundland summer.Now I don't mean, even though it would be a wonderful idea, that there are bake-apple festivals at Bloor and Yonge. Or that the Bay Street stockbrokers are out jigging codfish on ''food fish'' weekends. Though that, too, would be an encouraging, even edifying, spectacle.  FULL STORY arrow
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A re-Volting green plan to save GM space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, July 18, 2009 – Page A17
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup Dalton McGuinty this week divided Ontario in two. Those who drive the Chevy Volt and those who do not. Under his plan, a Green Ontarian gets $10,000 and a number of special privileges when he buys a car, but a non-Green one pays the whole cost. Mr. McGuinty is not going to stop there of course. Saving the Planet and General Motors is a long-term proposition. Well - with the help of a crystal ball, and the merest projection of what we already know about the McGuinty government's curious policy of Saving the Planet through Underwriting General Motors, here are some notes from a (very near-future) McGuinty press conference.  FULL STORY arrow
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Obama on the flying trapeze space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, July 11, 2009 – Page A17
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup He flies through the air with the greatest of ease, the daring young man on the flying trapeze.  FULL STORY arrow
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Whining seal hunt twaddle space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, July 4, 2009 – Page A19
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup''It's archaic and horrible and I want it to stop.''I know exactly how Sarah McLachlan (for these are her words on the subject of the seal hunt) feels. I have felt precisely the same, down to the very syllables, if I may put it that way, whenever I have fallen within ear-hurt of a folk music concert. Lord, years ago, how common they were, whining on about - well, I'm not going to start the list. They whined on about everything. That's what folk singers did. They whined. Three chords on an out-of-tune flat-top guitar and whine.  FULL STORY arrow
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The force (and furies) of celebrity space
Rex Murphy
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, June 27, 2009 – Page A25
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupThe American media went the full Niagara with the news of Michael Jackson's passing. Wolf Blitzer, the CNN anchor and former foreign correspondent, takes the name of his daily program from the White House meeting room in which absolute crises are handled or managed. Well, on Wolf's Situation Room (for as long as I could watch), it was Michael Jackson and more Michael Jackson.  FULL STORY arrow
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Can he feel what he never experienced? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, June 20, 2009 – Page A25
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupMichael Ignatieff walked away from parliamentary melodramas of last week somewhat less tall than he walked into them. The few soundings of Dion the Second could not have been comforting. But he had a good season overall, and his recent yo-yo performance might be just a blip. The Liberals have improved their standings and he's a good part of the reason. He is now a real threat to Stephen Harper.  FULL STORY arrow
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Between pit bull and poodle space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, June 13, 2009 – Page A25
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-- Commentator with The National and hostof CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupLet's be kind. The Prime Minister's Mike Duffy-hosted report card infomercial town hall was a snoozer. This Prime Minister has no appetite whatsoever for real town halls. The idea that Stephen Harper would walk into a random assembly of citizens, take real questions, all on live television - whether he was being chaperoned by Mike Duffy, MC, or not - challenges all probability.  FULL STORY arrow
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The fog of Iggy space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, June 6, 2009 – Page A21
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupFrom demanding Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's resignation the Liberals have moved on to demanding that of Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt - this latter over leaving documents labelled ''secret'' at CTV's Ottawa bureau for more than a week.  FULL STORY arrow
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No 'we' in identity politics space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 30, 2009 – Page A23
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupMichaelle Jean knows the meaning of empathy. Barack Obama does not.Real empathy is the ability to project into the experience or feelings of those unlike ourselves. If you know how someone else feels because they are people of your own set or kind, that knowledge is not empathetic - it's simple identification.  FULL STORY arrow
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SYMPOSIUM / CARYL CHURCHILL'S SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN space
Rex Murphy's column last week about Caryl Churchill's play was skewed by anger and oversimplification of the play and its intentions. Certainly there is greater room for debate and insight than Murphy allows
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By DIMITRI NASRALLAH, ELEANOR O'CONNOR AND REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 23, 2009 – Page F14
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-- AT ISSUECaryl Churchill's play Seven Jewish Children sets out to question how Jewish parents might explain the violence in Gaza to their children. Some people, among them Rex Murphy say it is a thinly veiled attach on Israel and on Jews generally. Others, among them Dimitri Nasrallah, say the play is a necessary investigation of the effects of nationalism and history on our personal and collective narratives.  FULL STORY arrow
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A drawbridge too far for British voters space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 23, 2009 – Page A21
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupWhat shall we do to be saved in this World? There is no other answer, but this: Look to your Moat.  FULL STORY arrow
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When art becomes agitprop space
Seven Jewish Children, Caryl Churchill's controversial playlet about Israel and the Palestinians, is now raising hackles, and rhetorical levels, in Canada. Is it art, Rex Murphy asks, or is it propaganda?
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 16, 2009 – Page F12
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-- There is a difference between art, which is alive to nuances of character and circumstance, to the moral complexity of being, and agitprop, in which the purpose and outcome are already known to the artist, predetermined. Caryl Churchill's controversial playlet, Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza, now getting readings and attention in Canada, is, in my judgment, clearly in the latter camp. And here's why.  FULL STORY arrow
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Tories attack: bad manners, bad politics space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 16, 2009 – Page A21
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup''Is that Michael Ignatieff on the cover of the British GQ, the upscale version of its more gamy American counterpart?''  FULL STORY arrow
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Fickle Gods of Global Warming space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 9, 2009 – Page A19
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupI believe there's a God, and while it is legendarily difficult to pronounce on such questions, I believe he lives in Texas or Fort McMurray. It's one or the other.  FULL STORY arrow
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Obama's audacious ambition space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 2, 2009 – Page A25
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupWhat do we know after the first century (of days) of Barack Obama?We know that he is the one of the most ambitious men to enter the White House. With most who achieved the office, the presidency itself was the capstone, the end peak, of their ambition. They governed, reacted to crises, and retired from the scene - either to write the inevitable ''my case'' memoirs, or to parlay their days in office (Bill Clinton) into a celebrity industry fuelling their arrival on the lush slopes of plutocracy.  FULL STORY arrow
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Keeping it in the Tory family space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, April 25, 2009 – Page A17
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupThe Karlheinz Schreiber-Airbus-Brian Mulroney saga rolls through another of its near endless permutations. Were there a present-day Charles Dickens, he would have a modern version of Bleak House, the great fable of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, the interminable Chancery suit around which the original and indefatigable Dickens wound his greatest novel.  FULL STORY arrow
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Talent trumps a vulgar mouth space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, April 18, 2009 – Page A23
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupWhat a clutter this last week or so has been. The Obamas have their dog. Down south, that got more coverage than a state visit, certainly more than Barack Obama's to Canada. The world has learned that there are pirates other than the foppish Johnny Depp. Navy Seals, with an okay from the new commander-in-chief, did an end to three of them, and there was nothing Disneyesque about it. Curiously, some in the U.S. media chose to rate this as ''Obama's first test,'' which was more risible than the plots of Mr. Depp's ludicrous movies. The U.S. Navy versus a ragtag handful from a forlorn and lawless country doesn't constitute a world crisis. Choosing a litter box for the First Pup probably claimed more real presidential attention.  FULL STORY arrow
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We still can't read Obama space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, April 11, 2009 – Page A15
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupShakespeare excels in quotability. He encapsulates marvellously. So much of what he wrote has the ring of wisdom, the neat finish of a proverb. Though I have not made the attempt, I believe it is very possible to do a sketch of almost any leader or politician simply by carving out the right ''quotations'' from Shakespeare.  FULL STORY arrow
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So how do you like our green world? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, April 4, 2009 – Page A19
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup***The world is in turmoil. The economies of the world, rich countries and poor, from ''China to Peru'' (to call up a Johnsonian phrase), are plunging. Industries that have been part of the fundamental landscape of the industrial world are failing - staring at state takeovers, bankruptcy or utter collapse.  FULL STORY arrow
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The right to offend space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, March 28, 2009 – Page F10
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-- SHAKEDOWNHow Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human RightsBy Ezra LevantMcClelland and Stewart, 216 pages, $28.99Ezra Levant is the No. 1 advocate for, and defender of, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of thought in modern Canada. His story, and the reason he has written Shakedown, began with the now famous Danish ''Mohammed'' cartoons.  FULL STORY arrow
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Love that Galloway - far away space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, March 28, 2009 – Page A21
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupJason Kenney appears to be in a bit of hot water over his refusal to use his ministerial discretion to allow British MP George Galloway into Canada.  FULL STORY arrow
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Faux outrage in a time of crisis space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, March 21, 2009 – Page A21
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-- So Jon Stewart has taken down Jim Cramer. Everyone knows Mr. Stewart, the late-night host of The Daily Show, but for those who do not troll the outer regions of the cable badlands, Mr. Cramer plays host to CNBC's Mad Money - a ''stock picking'' half hour that combines the subtlety of Jackass with the depth of Knight Rider.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Rock is still slippery with danger space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, March 14, 2009 – Page A19
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupThe news out of Newfoundland is brutal. At the time of my writing, there is no confirmed indication of the status of the 16 people who were unaccounted for following the downing of the helicopter bringing them to oil rigs off Newfoundland's coast on Thursday morning. One person we know was found alive, and one, alas, a young woman, dead.  FULL STORY arrow
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The actress, the senator, the mischief space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, March 7, 2009 – Page A21
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-- Jennifer Aniston or George Baker? It's part of the rigour of scribbling about public things that, on occasion, you're forced to make a difficult choice. Thus it was this week, when I found the actress beckoning from one corner and the Newfoundland senator from the other.  FULL STORY arrow
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Elegizing neverendum re-enactment space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, February 28, 2009 – Page A21
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-- I see folks have been getting pretty ''rory-eyed'' (furious), as we say back home, over the freshly contentious Battle of the Plains of Abraham. To be more precise, there's been a partly manufactured battle over the re-enactment of the real battle. It's always good when an item of Canadian history stirs current interest and attention, and if a little controversy, factitious or otherwise, achieves that result - good.  FULL STORY arrow
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His own greatest subject space
Both books give fine accounts of Dr. Johnson's relatively neglected youth, but nothing can replace Boswell
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, February 21, 2009 – Page F10
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-- SAMUEL JOHNSONA BiographyBy Peter Martin Belknap/Harvard, 640 pages, $44.50SAMUEL JOHNSON The StruggleBy Jeffrey MeyersBasic Books, 528 pages, $37.50 ''To write the Life of him who excelled all mankind in writing the lives of others, and who, whether we consider his extraordinary endowments, or his various works, has been equalled by few in any age, is an arduous, and may be reckoned in me a presumptuous task.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Obama, Iggy and what might've been space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, February 21, 2009 – Page A21
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-- John Greenleaf Whittier - it's a great name for a poet. Love the Greenleaf. With that as a middle name, were he around today, it's hard to think he wouldn't be flogging his Muse in the great cause of global warming, penning odes to windmills or versicles for Al Gore. If he's known at all any more, it's for a mournful little couplet that earned almost proverbial status in years long gone by. I thought of it this week during the visit of His Obamaness:  FULL STORY arrow
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Who will watch over this feverish spending? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, February 14, 2009 – Page A19
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country CheckupSpend in haste. Repent at leisure.My instinctive response when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty brought down his (and Michael Ignatieff's) budget was: Does it contain a special, one-off fund for Sheila Fraser? Will the Auditor-General of Canada be granted special resources and extra staff to monitor the great flood of emergency spending?  FULL STORY arrow
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Coalition of unintended consequences space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, February 7, 2009 – Page A21
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-- Commentator with The National and host of CBC Radio's Cross-Country Checkup*****So much begins with the wonder and farce we came to know as the coalition: the pact, deal, improvisation between Messrs. Dion, Layton and Duceppe, that for a heady moment seemed destined to overturn the Harper minority, install Stephane Dion as prime minister, and place Jack Layton with five other New Democracts in the federal cabinet. Gilles Duceppe and his Bloc were then, metaphorically, to ride shotgun on this tidy arrangement, by guaranteeing it would be impervious to confidence measures for a year and a half.  FULL STORY arrow
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My Canada includes O Canada space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, January 31, 2009 – Page A21
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-- Inclusive:adjective describing the act of halting, shutting down or banning any halfway normal practice or event enjoyed by a whole lot of people over a very long time because one or two people, now, don't like it. e.g., The company stopped sending out ''Merry Christmas'' cards because it wanted to be inclusive.  FULL STORY arrow
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Obama's speech a clichéd dud space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, January 24, 2009 – Page A19
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-- Put him on a platform and Barack Obama can take any string of words and make them sing. He's the best speech performer of our day.His voice has charm and power. He has an instinctive sense of the lyric and rhythmic underpinning of language, those surplus properties that impart a power beyond sense, beyond just what the words say. He has mastered the timing of public address, when to pause, when to rush a phrase, how to link gesture and stance to moments of emphasis. This is the full package.  FULL STORY arrow
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The coolest, and luckiest, of them all space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, January 17, 2009 – Page A19
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-- Is it cold out? Consult a brass monkey of your acquaintance. The reply will be a couple of octaves above middle C. It's a good thing Barack Obama is going to visit soon.  FULL STORY arrow
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Armageddon theory: Vancouver space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, January 10, 2009 – Page A17
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-- So far as weather goes, Vancouver in the past month could easily be mistaken for Twillingate - an outcome, I should think, equally pleasing to both those glorious conurbations. A couple of December snowfalls, even a kindly blizzard or two, is nothing new or strange for the grand jewel of Newfoundland's northeast coast. But below zero temperatures and snowfall after snowfall blanketing the great pathways of Stanley Park, shrouding the busy streets of downtown Vancouver, is, as we say back home, ''something else altogether.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Obamamania: Pass the defibrillator space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, January 3, 2009 – Page A15
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-- ''It is now 16 or 17 years since I saw the Queen of France ... and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision.''  FULL STORY arrow
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He's not God, but he's America space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, December 27, 2008 – Page A21
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-- Time magazine has genuflected to the obvious and named Barack Obama its person of the year. Which is a good thing. Time can be spotty in its choices, either gruesomely correct - as when it named the Planet (incense to the Gaia crowd) - or unwholesomely sycophantic - when it stuck You (that's you, smart reader) on the cover.  FULL STORY arrow
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Grit miracle: Iggy to fish in Tory water space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, December 20, 2008 – Page A23
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-- Michael Ignatieff is good news for the Liberal Party.It was good news when they didn't pick him at the leadership convention two years ago. He was then too fresh to the party and too fresh to Canada. He needed some time to wash the scent of the Harvard common room off himself. Needed time to establish some bona fides with the country he hadn't lived in for most of his adult life. Needed time for that big brain of his to wrap itself around the issues and rhythms, both subtle and complex, of Canadian politics.  FULL STORY arrow
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And what of this coalition now? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, December 13, 2008 – Page A25
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-- Just 12 days ago, on Monday of the past week, there stumbled into life what all of us now remember as the coalition.Three men - two leaders of national parties, one leader of a Quebec separatist party - held an official ''signing ceremony'' for the coalition.  FULL STORY arrow
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From Napoleon to Custer space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, December 6, 2008 – Page A25
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-- Read the Bible for its wisdom: ''He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it.'' Politicians should tattoo that onto their skulls.Stephen Harper duggeth himself one vast pit, all by his shovel-wielding lonesome, when he set out to chop the public financing of his rivals. And promptly went in head first.  FULL STORY arrow
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All very juvenile and incorrect space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, November 29, 2008 – Page A23
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-- I know Margaret Wente has already wrung out the dishcloth on this one, but I figure it's worth one more passing squeeze. I'm referring to that farcical, and now almost famous motion of Carleton University's student union, that passed by a vote of 17 to 2, to stop the annual Shinerama in support of cystic fibrosis.  FULL STORY arrow
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A mop, a bucket and civility space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, November 22, 2008 – Page A27
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-- Much talk this week about respect and civility making a return to Parliament Hill. Of debate presided over by the compound spirit of Mother Teresa and Emily Post. Well now. Is the legendary dove of peace, or some equivalently pacific fowl, about to descend and roost amidst the clamorous spires of our Parliament Buildings and usher in a new age of politesse in the cockpit of the House of Commons?  FULL STORY arrow
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Real rights and rights commissions space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, November 15, 2008 – Page A25
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-- Jennifer Lynch, chief of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, participated in this week's ceremonies at the National War Memorial by laying a wreath. It's nice to know the commission honours Canada's veterans and the cause for which so many fought and died.  FULL STORY arrow
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Does no one remember Hillary? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, November 8, 2008 – Page A25
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-- Who was the senior Republican to charge that the Obama campaign and its accomplices in the media were trying to take the election ''away from the people''?Not fair. It wasn't a Republican at all. It was none other than ''the greatest politician of his generation'' and a man famously (but weirdly) described (by Toni Morrison) as America's ''first black president.'' Yes, it was himself, the great ooze out of Arkansas, Bill Clinton.  FULL STORY arrow
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Please, Mr. Martin, a detail, a crumb space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, November 1, 2008 – Page D4
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-- HELL OR HIGH WATERMy Life In and Out of PoliticsBy Paul MartinMcClelland and Stewart,494 pages, $37.99It is a rather too-perfect illustration of the no-longer-novel concept of the memoir as politics by other means. Hell or High Water: My Life In and Out of Politics is almost certainly quite the last instalment of the Chretien-Martin wars, that decade-long internal struggle for mastery of the Liberal Party.  FULL STORY arrow
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Hark! I hear a celebrity oracle space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, November 1, 2008 – Page A23
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-- Where is Cameron Diaz? Haven't seen and, worse, haven't heard from her in so long a while. Has she been disappeared? Is she in Guantanamo, the Bush-Cheney gulag for dissident celebrities?  FULL STORY arrow
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Karma, Kabbalah, kaboom space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, October 25, 2008 – Page A21
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-- Here in Canada Land, the election threw a merciful veil over a great tabloid eruption - Madonna's impending divorce from Guy Ritchie. She of the spiked cones breastplate is currently on the Sticky and Sweet Tour (Scratch and Sniff, a more elegant variant, was already taken.)  FULL STORY arrow
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Mr. Dion, buried alive space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, October 18, 2008 – Page A27
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-- It is an ancient and sage observation that politics is mean and harsh. Consider the cruel and enlightening example of Stephane Dion.Hold the grief counsellors, cue the vultures. The body is not yet cold - good grief, it hasn't even hit the floor - before the dissection begins and the post-mortems offer up their verdicts.  FULL STORY arrow
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We're shocked - and voting space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, October 11, 2008 – Page A25
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-- Canadians will be going to the polls on Tuesday. Until two weeks ago, I expect most normal people were looking on that exercise with an emotion somewhere between indifference and annoyance.  FULL STORY arrow
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It was Them versus Him. Ho-hum space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, October 4, 2008 – Page A27
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-- We've had what some people are pleased to call the leaders' debates this week. They received more hype than they deserved, simply on the consideration that two is all there is. There being only two, we make as much of them as we can.  FULL STORY arrow
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A little cut and thrust, please space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, September 27, 2008 – Page A25
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-- The first of the two leaders debates takes place Wednesday. Don't bother looking forward to it. Our debates are more of a liturgy than a dynamic. In fact, they're useless.  FULL STORY arrow
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Incredibly shrinking Obama space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, September 20, 2008 – Page A27
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-- How's Barack Obama's narrative going?Journalists used to tell stories, now they plumb narratives. Narrative is a pretentious borrowing from the abstraction-clotted world of academic criticism, where texts are interrogated, authors are dead and high-toned fatuousness is king. I'll see your postmodern and raise you a meta.  FULL STORY arrow
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Danny boy has gone too far space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, September 13, 2008 – Page A21
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-- It's too bad Loyola Hearn, who was the Newfoundland minister in the Harper government, is not running again. After a long career in politics, he has decided to leave the game.  FULL STORY arrow
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And the winner is ... Harper space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, September 6, 2008 – Page A25
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-- As I write, the election is on, save for the formality of dropping the writ.I've caught a couple of the new Stephen Harper ads. They're from a series of seven, titled ''At home with Stephen Harper.'' And very gentle, soft, fuzzy little minuets they are. In the jargon of PR, they try to ''humanize'' the Prime Minister. I'm not sure I agree with the premise of that effort. It very clearly implies that there is a soft side to the Prime Minister, and that we rarely see it and that, for it to be visible, it's necessary to buy ads to place it on display.  FULL STORY arrow
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A house divided, or the dream? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, August 30, 2008 – Page A21
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-- Abraham Lincoln knew the power of biblical quotation. Of course, he was a public figure when recourse to scriptural reference by political leaders was neither as contentious nor as rare as it is today. One of Lincoln's most famous orations is known by a phrase from the gospel of Mathew: ''A house divided against itself cannot stand.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Was it all a 'pious hope' dream? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, August 23, 2008 – Page A19
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-- So, we don't have a fixed election date after all. How strange.I could have sworn it was one of the early, and rare, high-minded initiatives of the Harper government. In what is obviously a false memory, I seem to recall it grew out of the Conservatives' own experience in opposition while under the butterfly-brief tenure of Stockwell Day.  FULL STORY arrow
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Baby fat, bad teeth, Beijing fable space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, August 16, 2008 – Page A19
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-- The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.- Genesis 27:22This line will be familiar to some as from the great biblical story of how Jacob (the ''deceiver'') robbed Esau of his father's blessing. It is a most artfully told fable of disguise, theft, discovery and dishonour.  FULL STORY arrow
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He really spoke truth to power space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, August 9, 2008 – Page A17
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-- The death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn last Sunday was the passing of a human-rights giant. There are few individuals, writers or otherwise, who even approach his stature as an opponent of repression and tyranny, who resisted to the depth of his soul the incursions of arbitrary state power on the lives of individuals. He belongs to a very select set of people whose courage and example lit the darkness of the century just past, among whom are the names of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Gandhi.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mr. Harper throws down the gauntlet space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, August 2, 2008 – Page A17
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-- There's life in the old cat yet, thank the Lord.The doddering feline in question here is Canadian politics. There's been so much of the American stuff, Obama and Hillary, Obama and McCain, Obama and Obama - and don't get me wrong, it's all been quality material - that it felt like our own politics had just disappeared, or slunk out of the room while the really big game down in the States took over the headlines and fed the talk shows.  FULL STORY arrow
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Obama's audacity of hubris space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, July 26, 2008 – Page A17
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-- Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus. That may turn out to be a problem.Barack Obama was touring the geopolitical capitals of the Middle East and Europe all this week. He travelled less as a mere nominee for the U.S. presidency (even that is not yet officially secured) than as some combination of emperor and rock star.  FULL STORY arrow
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No laughing matter space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, July 19, 2008 – Page A17
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-- Oh, dear. There's such a fuss about that New Yorker cover featuring Barack and Michelle Obama. Worse, the cover is a cartoon.It really is too bad that the Americans don't have human-rights commissions to swaddle cartoonaphobics.  FULL STORY arrow
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Anthem? More like a commodity space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, July 12, 2008 – Page A15
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-- All praise to Irving Berlin. Lord, the man could write and rhyme.Anyone who has ever listened to the lyrics - to take but one example from Berlin's huge songbook - of Puttin' on the Ritz has to have been dazzled by the sheer cleverness of its mad and perfect rhymes:  FULL STORY arrow
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Don Cherry for Order of Canada! space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, July 5, 2008 – Page A21
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-- Henry Morgentaler is the most public face from one side of the most polarizing issue in Canadian religious, social and political life. It is not, therefore, a surprise that his elevation to the Order of Canada has loosed a whirlwind of debate.  FULL STORY arrow
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Science by intimidation space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, June 28, 2008 – Page A25
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-- Truth may enter the world by many doors, but she is never escorted by force. I thought that was a lesson learned long ago, and learned by none more tellingly than scientists. Real scientists, actually, have learned it. A new amalgam has emerged however, the scientist-activist, and for that specimen it's a lesson passed by.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mr. Dion is rolling the dice space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, June 21, 2008 – Page A23
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-- Stephane Dion has had a rough go, almost from the day he became, to the surprise of so many, the Leader of the Liberal party. The surprise was that so atypical a politician - he was, you recall, the nebbish with the backpack - outpaced two more obviously formidable talents for the job. Bob Rae, having late-blossomed into Liberalism and distancing himself from a disastrous tenure as NDP premier of Ontario, had matured as a politician. He was a fluent, smooth, intelligent speaker, had mastered the craft skills of politics and was that rarity, a pragmatist with principles.  FULL STORY arrow
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The day the House stood still space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, June 14, 2008 – Page A25
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-- It is not often we give our politicians the benefit of the doubt, and for good reason. On many of the major issues of the day most of them have all the conviction of a windsock.  FULL STORY arrow
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The real scandal in Ottawa space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, June 7, 2008 – Page A25
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-- What's the most interesting political news in Canada this week? It's the bizarre theory, advocated by some Liberals and press types, that the Conservatives have reignited debate on the Cadman affair in order to distract attention from the Bernier affair. (Note: In Ottawa, all scandals are affairs, though not all affairs are scandals.)  FULL STORY arrow
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Deep down, the front bench is shallow space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 31, 2008 – Page A21
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-- Scandal is the adrenalin of politics. There is nothing that quite so fires the partisan blood as the spectacle of the other party caught with its pants down. And that, both metaphorically and otherwise, is what we have had this week.  FULL STORY arrow
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HILLARY AND THE POLITICS OF DOOM space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 24, 2008 – Page A23
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-- Indiana Jones and the Crusade for the Lost Ark of the Temple of Doom in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, or whatever witless variation is being deployed for yet another rescreening of Spielberg's tired pancake, is on the big screen again. The art house we all know as Burger King is memorializing the occasion with its introduction of the Indy Whopper (pepper jack cheese and jalapeno sauce). Indigestion on screen and off.  FULL STORY arrow
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A half-empty cup of Canadiana space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 17, 2008 – Page A21
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-- On this Victoria Day weekend, back home in Newfoundland, there will be thousands of people hustling off to cabin or pond to make a day of trout fishing and having a boil-up. Very likely it'll snow, since a snowfall is an almost infallible curse of the first long weekend of Newfoundland spring. In the old days, if there was to be a boil-up and a few trout to be fried, everyone brought along a block of Good Luck butter and three or four tins of York wieners and beans. Had to be York, had to be Good Luck.  FULL STORY arrow
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Hillary: bloodied but unbowed space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 10, 2008 – Page A23
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-- It was Cat Stevens, when he was Cat Stevens (he is now, since conversion, Yusuf Islam) who penned the near-aphorism - ''the first cut is the deepest.'' It expresses an old truth: First encounters, painful or pleasurable, have the longest stay in our memories.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mr. Harper: Tame these commissions space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, May 3, 2008 – Page A21
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-- I read in Thursday's newspaper of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's determination to declare Bill C-10, dealing with tax-credits that support the making of Canadian films, a matter of confidence. C-10 is an attempt to tie which films receive tax credits to certain government-determined standards with respect to violence and sex.  FULL STORY arrow
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What's a white guy to do? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, April 26, 2008 – Page A27
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-- Let's see if I have this right. If a woman votes for Hillary Clinton, it's a commendable sign of gender loyalty. If an African-American votes for Barack Obama, it's a wonderful act of solidarity in an historic contest. Three cheers for both. They are backing ''their'' candidate.  FULL STORY arrow
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The pious poseurs on our ice floes space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, April 19, 2008 – Page A21
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-- Is it only two years ago?For some reason, it seems so much longer. Remember the famous photo: Mr. and Mrs. Paul McCartney, as they then were, both of them wrapped in full survivor suits of the most blazing red, lying on the ice - Paul actually looks like he's cuddling Heather - as both of them pose in front of the black-tipped nose of a white-coated seal pup.  FULL STORY arrow
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Vive le Canada libre space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, April 12, 2008 – Page A21
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-- The subject of human rights in Canada is in its most fertile and engaging period. There's not a single cliche of innovation-speak it doesn't embody. It's a whirlwind of novelty: out of the box, on the cutting edge and pushing the envelope.  FULL STORY arrow
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Opening act for the Leader? space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, April 5, 2008 – Page A21
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-- I watched Michael Ignatieff this week as he piloted his way through one of those scrums that are a feature of parliamentary life. He was giving his response to the controversial, 16-year-old tape featuring ugly remarks from Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan and Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski.  FULL STORY arrow
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The darkness that is Earth Hour space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, March 29, 2008 – Page A23
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-- Tonight, in cities across the country and, indeed, such is the contagion of ostentatious and cost-free do-goodism, in cities around the world, there will be celebrated - if that's the word for so twilight an exercise - something called Earth Hour.  FULL STORY arrow
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So much for 'postracial' politics space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, March 22, 2008 – Page A21
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-- Until about a week ago, the campaign of Barack Obama for the nomination of the Democratic Party was something to wonder at, a marvel of grace, skill and efficacy. Indeed, it was a near miracle. He was a little-known senator, black, of meagre experience in the big leagues of American politics, and yet here he was romping through the primaries and leaving the gleaming, grinding wheels of the Clinton Machine in his transcendental and eloquent dust.  FULL STORY arrow
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The curse of youthful harlots space
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By REX MURPHY
Saturday, March 15, 2008 – Page A21
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-- William Blake saw visions. But not even Blake, pottering about naked in his back garden chatting with angels, as he was wont to do, could have fantasticated something as alien to the age he lived in as the Emperors Club, with its diamond-rated filles d'hotel, available at rates of one to five thousand dollars an hour, ordered up as easily as pizza.  FULL STORY arrow
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