… [Tavi]Gevinson and [Ira] Glass’s generation-straddling friendship began when they were introduced through Glass’s wife, Anaheed Alani, who is now Rookie’s story editor. As a media veteran himself, Glass acted as a sort of protector for Rookie, encouraging Gevinson, now 16, to pursue sole ownership and helping her to navigate industry perils….
“… [T]he bag of wraps cost 26¢ more than the tortillas. Moreover, since there were only 6 wraps in the package of wraps, but 8 tortillas in the package of tortillas, each wrap cost 19¢ more than each tortilla… Mission has figured out that they can sell their product for a higher price if they name it ‘wraps’”
I have a very hard time taking the Ford team at face value in their explanation that Rob Ford posing with a fascist “consultant,” dressed in full regalia, at the New Year’s levee and his later meeting with the man to discuss “transit” was a simply a matter of courtesy. Furthermore, for a politician with a penchant for slandering anyone from right-of-centre to the progressive left as a “socialist” and expressing crypto-fascist viewpoints with abandon, standing next to a bona-fide fascist leaves Ford especially vulnerable to political attacks. As it should.
To give you some perspective on the gravity of this photo, it would be like the leftist David Miller being photographed with an insurrectionary anarchist, decked out in full Black Bloc gear. The juxtaposition implies that there’s nothing separating a “mainstream” exponent of a particular ideology from its extremists.
When you’re a politician, it’s part your staff’s job to make sure that no one “funny looking” ends up in the same room as you, let alone posing for a photograph with you smiling next to them. This should be of the utmost concern to any political handler in an age when just about everyone carries a mobile device that shoots photos and can disseminate them in an instant. Especially those working for a politician who is hopelessly stuck on campaign-mode. Furthermore, even inexperienced handlers know that uncontrolled public events need to be stage managed more heavily than controlled ones, especially when your boss is so polarizing, because of their potential to invite, shall we say, vociferous critics.
When the federal Tories were “creeping” suspected Liberal supporters in order to keep them out of their rallies and making sure that only party militants figured into their stump stops, amid all of the justified indignation, someone forgot to mention that similar tactics are standard practice amongst all parties. Try wearing business attire to an NDP rally and see how close you’re able to get to the lectern, that is if you even manage to get in at all.
Proving once again that he’s still punk to the very core of his being, it was long-time Liberal operative Warren Kinsella who uncovered the photo. Kinsella has been around the dark arts side of politics long enough to recognize that, in not springing into action at the sight of a man in such atypical dress, either by stopping the photo line or having security remove the man, he was somewhat familiar to Ford’s people. Whether or not they knew about his political activities is another matter altogether. Either way, Ford will pay dearly for this.
Firstly, every time he uses his most favoured (counter-)attack of slandering an opponent or critic as a “socialist,” the subject can now invoke Ford’s history of “palin’ ‘round” with fascists.” Earlier this year Ford forced an apology from the leftish Adam Vaughan, who described the Ford coalition as “black shirts.” Had this photo been in circulation then, Vaughan could have nicely told Ford to pound sand instead of having to submit to what is now an undue apology.
Secondly, the photo and the association that it implies puts a simple frame around Ford’s policy trajectory that can be easily exploited by his opponents on both sides of the ideological spectrum, but he should only be concerned with how those on the Right leverage it.
Despite some dissension that was ultimately played out in the form of too many right-of-centre candidates running on pretty much the same platform, Toronto’s right-wing political class took a huge risk in backing Rob Ford. They knew that he could put conservatives back in control of city hall by mobilizing reactionary, “low information” voters who know the Rob Ford brand but little else about politics, but they seriously overestimated his ability to effectively govern a heterogeneous urban population. The Right’s chief concern right now is that diffuse animosity towards Ford will be organized by a resurgent Left or sour Toronto voters on conservatives altogether. This latter hazard is precisely why prime minister Harper, who campaigned with Ford as his “fishing buddy”, has made pains to distance himself from Ford as part of his long-term goal of making inroads into Liberal and NDP held “Fortress Toronto”.
For most Torontonians, conservativism is synonymous with pure evil. However, when presented with “conservative” ideas, like wage restraint in the public sector, government that doesn’t get involved in and divests itself of enterprise, lower property taxes, privatization of public services and so on, Torontonian voters are very supportive of them. It’s just that they’re offended by all of the regressive posturing that goes along with the conservative brand. In hindsight, Toronto’s right-wing political class realizes that they made a huge mistake in not putting their differences aside and fielding a single candidate who could grow their prospects instead of harming them. A mayor who meets with neo-nazis, that’s something harmful to the cause.
In case you’re one of the many who are still hopelessly under the misapprehension that John Tory will ride in to save the day, you’re dead wrong. We’ve already seen this movie and it was called the Commonsense Revolution. As successful as his time as premier was (two majorities and his key policy planks, save for “workfare,” remain to this very day), the bombastic market libertarian Mike Harris incensed the provincial electorate so much that it has resulted in three consecutive Liberal governments that govern as if they’re bullet-proof, and a rudderless Conservative opposition. The provincial Conservatives tried the “moderate” John Tory as a means of reconciling with voters who felt burned by Harris and that didn’t work.
The Toronto conservative political class is an intelligent lot with more resources than everyone else combined, so I can guarantee you that they’re already grooming multiple prospects with the aim of selecting just one and that he or she is going to be the consummate red tory. A big part of their campaign will be making certain that every identified group who ever felt even the slightest bit alienated by Ford feels confident about the candidate. In a play for the support of artists and cyclists, we should expect to see the “Ford pals around with neo-nazis” salvo entered.
The photo of Barack Obama smiling next to the outspoken revolutionary theology preacher Jeremiah Wright is a photo that dogs Obama to this very day, because it suggests that he is an exponent of the radical political views and conspiracy theories expressed by Wright. Yet, without similar public statements made by Obama himself, this is a connection that has to be invented and then taken on faith. Its “stickiness” is to be attributed to the partisan desire to believe it uncritically. Rob’s predicament is different in that his views were widely documented prior to the circulation of this photo, and the connection between the two, while just circumstantial, made very easy sense.
If politicians can draw one important lesson of this story, it’s this. If you’re going to ruthlessly play the politics of division and maintain what many regard as repugnant views, be mindful of the company that you keep and be ready to shoulder the consequences.
Despite having a severed foot sent to them by, an alleged, narcissistic sociopath turned sex murdered, the Conservatives were the biggest beneficiaries of the reportage of this grisly act. If there are anymore contentious laws that the government would like to pass, or ministers who would like to admit to malfeasance, early next will be the most opportune time to do so. Here’s a quick overview of big three stories that were effectively buried by this mostly salacious and speculative coverage.
Parliament passes a motion forcing striking CP workers back to work: Back-to-work legislation is quickly becoming the favoured implement in the Conservative attack on workers’ rights, the use of which has again been tarted up as a difficult move needed to buffer a weak economic recovery from turbulence. The government couldn’t have asked for a better story to displace what could have been a nasty row between the Left and the Right that might have prompted some wider debate. Should the government – especially one informed by an activist liberal tendency — be interfering in labour negotiations within the private sector? What other unsavory and possibility unconstitutional acts of government intervention should be undertaken in the name of shoring up the recovery/taking the country out of recession? These are things that won’t be discussed because those pages and that time would have been afforded this story were filled by the Luka Magnotta story.
Thomas Mulcair in Alberta: After going all in on a complex and risky play to assert himself as a learned and capable economic manager, and losing, Mulcair finally visited the tar sands development in Alberta. Even if Mulcair had had a James Cameron-esq apostasy and emerged from the West as a booster for so-called “ethical oil”, aka. “dirty oil,” these reports would have never held a candle to those about a homosexual porn star, kitten torturer, pretty boy. Now the government can continue to lash Mulcair over his divisive stance on the oil sands for months to come, because little coverage was devoted to the junket.
GM Halves Production At It’s Oshawa, Ontario Plant: Speaking of doing something for the good for the economy, remember a few years back when scads of public money was use to bailout this manufacturer of gas-guzzling, clunkers in the name of saving the domestic economy? Yeah, neither do I, but the handshake deal was that a government-unwritten GM wouldn’t cut any jobs. (Wages were another thing altogether.) Last week the CAW announced, well in advance of GM doing so, that one of the last two lines at it’s Oshawa plant would be gradually scaled to zero, ultimately leaving nearly two-thousand people without a job and rendering harm to the economy. Instead of feeling taken, Canadians were wondering what kind of sicko would rape, torture and dismember a human being and what kind of lesser sickos — if only slightly — would actively seek out the, still, publicly accessible video of this crime. While the federal government wasn’t the only level of government involved in the deal, this could have been a black-eye for federal finance minister Jim Flaherty because, in addition to being Mr.Economy, his riding (Whitby-Oshawa) is immediately West of the Oshawa plant and it goes without saying that many in his riding are in some way employed because of the GM plant. The public perception of a finance minister who can’t even look out for the well being of his riding’s economy can be damaging. That is, if people aren’t already transfixed by something more gruesome and upsetting.
The formula for excellence will always be less about format and typography than about the unreserved commitment to the community of readers that newspapers serve and clarity about the nature and interests of those readers. What is a perfect look for an audience in Beijing or Oslo will not likely be perfect for an audience in Buenos Aires or Charlotte. A newspaper must find the voice that speaks clearly to its unique audience of readers, and the best newspapers will always do so.
That’s what all of these World’s Best newspapers share — a certainty about who their audiences are and a bold, sure-footed approach to reaching them. All have a unique voice. All are superb. All share a commitment to print that other newspapers should emulate. They never waste a page, never waste their readers’ time. These newspapers look healthy, well-staffed and richly resourced — even if they are not. It was inspiring to see international journalists who still believe in excellence in print.
Yeah, that’s about right. Like I often say, someone needs to invent a machine that strips the National Post of its horrible, um, copy, retains its beautiful design and fills the space with writing from good newspapers.
I want to briefly riff on how much I hate this commercial for Crest 3D White toothpaste.
This commercial is trying to sell cosmetic toothpaste to women by suggesting that not will using it make them more attractive, its use will consequently attract the attention of attractive men. This is a stock narrative trope that accesses various assumptions about gender and sexuality that I’m sure could fill an entire masters thesis — cite Dworkin, Mulvey and Wolf, friends — and the only thing that changes in its various iterations is the setting in which it takes place. This is where the problem lays.
This scene takes place on a city bus. Firstly, the disciplined social code of using public transit dictates that not only is eye contact between strangers to be avoided at all costs, staring at other passengers is completely unwelcome. Secondly, considering what we know about how women in Western capitalist societies are conditioned to assess men (tip of the hat for slagging grad students above), a man riding the bus, let alone one who stares at strangers, would be dismissed as unfit to date. Sure, he’s attractive, but couldn’t he afford to take a taxi or own a private vehicle? Something is seriously off about this guy. Perhaps the woman would think about getting off at some densely populated stop and hope that he doesn’t follow her off or continue to her destination, desperately hoping that that moment of eye contact wasn’t interpreted as an invitation to come over and pester her.
When creating narratives and deploying tired old tropes, we need to be mindful of just how much audience disbelief can be suspended before we create fantasies. This glaring oversight leads me to suspect that script was conceived by and hastily approved by men, because a team of women would have zeroed in on it right away.