Thursday, April 25, 2013

Joanne's Journal: April 25, 2013


Edition No. 12

Quote of the Day

"Some folk want their luck buttered."

- Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), English novelist and poet
From The Mayor of Casterbridge [1886]

On this Day 

On April 25, 1792, the French national anthem, La Marseillaise (The Song from Marseille), was written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle.  A simple French army officer and a republican during the Revolutionary Wars, he wrote the song while stationed in Strasbourg, France.  It was originally titled Chant de guerre d'armee du Rhin (War Song of the Army on the Rhine) and Rouget de Lisle intended it to be a marching song for his comrades. When soldiers from Marseilles introduced it to Paris during the French Revolution, it took on it's familiar title, La Maraillaise.  In 1795, The French National Convention adopted La Marsellaise as the national anthem of the Republic.  As for Rouget de Lisle, he never wrote another song of prominence and died in poverty on June 26, 1836 in Choisy-le-Roi, in the suburbs of Paris.

Rouger de Lisle in 1792

Below is an 1849 painting by French artist Isidore Pils (1813-1875) of Rouger de Lisle singing La Marseillaise.  It is entitled Rouget de Lisle chantants la Marseillaise (Rouget de Lile singing La Maseillaise).

On April 25, 1917, Ella Fitzgerald, Queen of Jazz, was born in Newport News, Virginia.  For more than half a century, she was the most dominant female jazz singer in the United States.  Known as the First Lady of Song, she had an amazing vocal range.  During her magnificent career, she received 13 Grammy Awards and sold more than 40 million albums.  Plagued with health problems, Ella died in her Beverly Hills, California home at the age of 79.  The 96th anniversary of her birth is being commemorated today with a Google doodle.


On April 25, 2009, Beatrice Arthur, died of cancer at her Los Angeles home at the age of 86.  The tall, deep-voiced actress had a long stage career before finding success on television.  She really made waves when she appeared on All in the Family as Maude Findlay, Edith Bunker's outspoken liberal cousin.  Her exchanges with Edith's bigoted husband, Archie, proved so popular and entertaining that Bea was given the lead in her own sitcom, Maude, in 1972.   Bea was also known for her portrayal of Dorothy on The Golden Girls alongside Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty.

In 1966, Bea Arthur won a Tony Award for her performance as Vera Charles in the musical Mame.  She also received an Emmy Award in 1977 for her role as Maude.

Bea Arthur

Roses and Thorns


ROSE: To Premier Kathleen Wynne of Ontario for showing some support for the  province's beleaguered horse racing industry.  The industry was abandoned by Wynne's predecessor, former Premier Dalton McGuinty, when his government foolishly reneged on the it revenue sharing agreement with race track casinos.  Unfortunately, a great deal of damage has already been done and many jobs have been lost.   A great deal more is needed to save the industry and to ensure that it has a future in Canada's most populous province.  What Wynne has done is not enough, although it is a start.  What happened to horse racing and horse breeding in Ontario should never have happened in the first place.

ROSE: To the Toronto Maple Leafs for finally making the playoffs after a nine-year drought.  The bar is set much lower now than it was when there were only six teams in the 1960s.  Back then, it was unthinkable for the Leafs not to make the playoffs.  It was a given.  The only question was whether they would bring home the Stanley Cup or not.  It's 2013 now and this city is starved for Stanley Cup success.  If only Leaf Nation could restrain its enthusiasm until the team actually gets close to winning the Cup.  A big celebration along Yonge Street after one victory in the first round of the playoffs would be premature.  Knowing, Leaf fans, however, it's likely to happen.

ROSE: To the good citizens of Boston for facing the horror of two bombs exploding in their city with fortitude and a sense of community.  They stood tall  in the wake of the tragedy that befell their city during the running of the world-renowned Boston marathon.  A special commendation to the law enforcement officers and emergency services personnel who served Boston during its time of crisis.


THORN: To the Conservative Party of Canada for its scurrilous attack ad campaign.aimed against new Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.  The negative ads appeal to the lowest common denominator.  They accuse Trudeau of being in way over his head   They portray him as an inexperienced drama teacher who is not ready to lead the country.  These ads demean politics in this country and they breed public cynicism.  Although the Conservatives are not the only party that has used such ads, they use this tactic much more often and much more viciously than other parties.  They also use  hard-earned taxpayers money to fund flyers with those negative ads.  Disgusting!  I hope Canadians will ignore the ads and take time to look at the facts.

The Conservative Party is guilty of character assassination.  The Tories are not attacking Trudeau's polices.  They are belittling him and bullying him.  They did not waste any time.  The moment he was chosen leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, they unleashed a pack of vultures on him.  Let's set the record straight.

1. The Tories present Justin as "young" Trudeau.  This is absurd.  He is a 41-year-old married man with two young children.  He is older than Joe Clark was when he became PM in 1979.  Theodore Roosevelt was 42 years old when he was sworn in as President of the United States.  John F. Kennedy was 43.  Despite Justin Trudeau's youthful appearance, he is by no means too young to assume the office Prime Minister of Canada.

2.  The Tories say Justin is not experienced enough to be Prime Minister.  Here are the facts.  Trudeau has been a member of the House of Commons for the riding of Papineau since October 14, 2008.  He has never been a cabinet minister because his party has not been in power.  The Conservatives sneeringly describe him as a drama teacher.  Although he did coach drama (and what's wrong with that?), he taught several other subjects too.  According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, "From 1999 to 2002 Trudeau taught a number of subjects (eg, drama, French, English, social studies and math) at West Point Grey Academy and Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Vancouver."

It seems as if the Conservatives have a real problem with the teaching profession.  For some twisted region, they appear to enjoy demeaning the profession.  Similarly, the U.S. Republicans take great delight in putting down Barack Obama's past as a community organizer in Chicago.  

What about Stephen Harper's own background before he became Prime Minister?  What were his great accomplishments.  He was not widely travelled.  He called himself an economist because he had an Masters degree n Economics from the University of Calgary.  Did that really give him the right to refer to himself an economist?

I do not write this as an apologist for Justin Trudeau.  Trudeau's policies are fair game.  If the Conservatives want to criticize his positions on various issues, that's fine and dandy.  That's what democracy is all about.  It is not about bullying and distorting the facts.  Even if such gutter tactic sometimes work, that doesn't mean politicians should use them.  It doesn't mean it is right to use them - unless you subscribe to the amoral dictum that the end end justifies the means. Who is advising the Tories?  The ghost of Machiavelli?  No wonder the public has a low opinion of politics and politicians.

THORN: To the members of the United States Senate who voted against a measure last week that would have extended existing  background checks on purchases of guns.  Although most of the Republicans in the Senate behaved as expected, four Democratic senators voted against the amendment.  Those four Democrats should hang their heads fin shame for thumbing their noses at the victims of of the shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School and their grieving families.  The feckless four are Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich, of Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Max Baucus of Montana.  Shame! Shame! Shame!  They could have carried the bill to passage.

The gun control amendment was due to the commendable efforts of a bipartisan group of senators to reach a compromise on the matter.  Republican Pat Tooney of Pennsylvania had the courage to oppose the majority of senators from his own party on the issue. On April 10, 2013,  Tooney  and Democratic Senator Joe Machin of West Virginia announced a deal on an amendment that would exempt all "personal" transfers of weapons between individuals, but would close the notorious gun show loophole and also include mandatory background checks on Internet sales.

Although held in high esteem by the National Rifle Association, Tooney denied that he was not concerned that his support of new gun control initiative, would lower his reputation with the gun advocacy organization.  He said, "What matters to me is doing the right thing, and I think this was the right thing."  Senator Tooney was one of only four Republicans had the integrity and good sense to back the background check amendment, but those four should be lauded.  The other three were Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona and Mark Kirk of Illinois.  Kudos to that quartet.of Republicans who did the right thing.

Despite U.S. President Barack Obama's best efforts, the vote on the gun control amendment fell six votes short of passage in the Senate.  The final tally was 54 to 46.  Sixty votes were needed for passaage.  It is interesting to note that according to information released by the Washington-based Sunlight Foundation, all but three of the senators who scuttled the gun control measure have accepted money from firearm lobbyists.  The foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit government watchdog, discovered that the National Rifle Association has donated $800,000 since 1990 to 40 of the senators who voted against the gun control amendment.  Much of the money was given during the campaign leading up to the last election.  As the office of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg put it, "Today's gun bill vote is a damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have in Washington."

This isn't over yet, though.  President Obama will not let the matter rest - for the sake of the innocent who have lost their lives.  "All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington," the president declared.  He exhorted supporters of gun control to continue the struggle.   In the words former Democratic congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, a survivor of gun violence: "If members of the U.S. Senate refuse to change laws to reduce gun violence, then we need to change the members of the Senate."

Riddle Me This

I an at the beginning of eternity,
the end of time and space,
the beginning of every end,
and the end of every place.
What am I?

Answer: The letter "e."



Wouldn't it be great to see a Toronto-Montreal matchup in the NHL playoffs?  The Leafs and Habs haven't met in post-season play since 1979.  We won't know if it's going to happen until Sunday, April 28 when the Ottawa Senators face the Boston Bruins in a game that was delayed by the Boston Marathon bombings. That game will determine the final order in the NHL Eastern Conference.  A Leafs-Habs match-up in the Stanley Cup final would be even better, but it can't happen because the two teams are in the same conference.


April is not even over yet and the high hopes of Toronto Blue Jays fans are fading rapidly.  What a miserable start to the season for our home team!  If the Jays' record doesn't improve soon, something has definitely got to give.  As the losses mount, Rogers and the Blue Jays executives have got to be extremely worried.that the team will fall too far behind to catch up.  Rogers has too much money invested in the Blue Jays to just sit back and write off this season.

- Joanne

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