Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Trails

Four-day work weeks are one of the smaller pleasures in life, but my, how they satisfy..! The weekend is already right around the corner, and it's hard to keep from thinking of its restful potential as we glance through the news on a warm Thursday morning.

Victory: Gurkha veterans have won their battle to live in Britain, as Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government reversed its earlier roadblocks to Gurkha resettlement.
Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: 'This has been a great victory for Joanna Lumley and her well-run campaign that has publicly embarrassed Ministers and has reminded us all of the role that the Gurkhas have played in helping defend this country over the centuries.
'First and foremost this case was about basic decency. People from around the world have come to live in this country in the past decade.
'There was never a justification to deny that right to a group of people who have long lived in the nation's affections, and who have risked and often given their lives for its protection.
'It is just a shame that the Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming through the courts and then through the crowds of Gurkhas outside parliament before it finally did the right thing.'
Scandal: And speaking of the UK government... On his talk show yesterday Hugh Hewitt interviewed firebrand pundit Christopher Hitchens to get his perspective on the unbelievable expense scandal unraveling within Great Britain's parliament. Items as petty as tampons and porn film rentals, and as grand as chandeliers and castle moat-cleaning, were approved as appropriate expenses by an amoral bureaucracy. In his assessment Hitchens makes a drive-by comment that puts a shape to the half-formed thoughts I had been having while following the scandal's parade of daily outrages. From the transcript:
Christopher Hitchens: Do you remember A Man For All Seasons? It’s just occurred to me to ask you.
Hugh Hewitt: Yes, I do.
CH: Do you remember when the man sells out for Sir Thomas More?
HH: Yes, I do.
CH: And he does it for a small sinecure?
HH: Yes. He should have been a teacher.
CH: Yes. And the man does it for a small sinecure in Wales. And Thomas More, I can’t remember exactly how it goes, but he says to him, I can see, I can imagine selling your immortal soul and your friends and so on for, as it might be, a kingdom. But he said but for Wales?
HH: For Wales.
CH: For Wales. What’s amazing is how it’s always the same with corruption scandals, I find, how little people will settle for before their integrity is all gone.
Integrity: While far-reaching, Britain's "home allowance" expense scandal is not all-encompassing; there are a few members who did not break the rules, or exploit them, and the British national newspaper The Telegraph, which first broke the news on the scandal, has given credit where credit is due to the honest representatives.
Leadership: Mal Fletcher uses the expense scandal as a backdrop for an eloquent lesson on the difference between leadership and management. The distinguishing characteristic is... character:
[W]ithout moral leadership - leadership based on conviction rather than pragmatism - administration is left hopelessly at the mercy of expediency.
At the end of the week, the moral of the story is this: we have very few true leaders in government and a great many followers. There are few who will go against "standard practice" - that is, what the rest of the pack are doing - and set out on a righteous path.
The nature of modern government, built as it is around a labyrinth of complex committees and regulatory bodies, allows very little scope for real leadership to develop among the representatives of the people.

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