Blandy Scheer, true beleiver and champion of Dad jeans, etc.

So, the column I wrote about conservative and visuals got picked up over at HuffPo, and it irritated myriad Tories.  Which worries me a great deal, as you can well imagine.  It is here.  You have to read the comments.  They’re a scream.  This exchange is representative.

My suggestion that Scheer should keep away from Jordan “Some of my best friends are The Jews” Peterson, who should keep away from Gavin McInnes, is here.  It elicited a response from Scheer’s “Director of Media Relations,” here.  I felt compelled to respond, here.

Finally, no less than the Toronto Star has taken pity on Blandy, and his Lynchian new ad, as seen here:

This awkward, amateurish quality is why so many on the “cocktail circuit” (what I assume is Scheer’s term for elites in big cities whose pants aren’t so forgiving) have taken to mocking the leader and the ad endlessly online. Here’s Warren Kinsella on Twitter: “This ad is so bad, and so fundamentally weird, you half expect David Lynch to appear on one of the benches, holding an owl and a log.”

The commentator’s political expertise, in this regard?  “I may not be a political scientist but I did win three high school student council elections in a row.”


Here’s my response to all of this:

  1. The best response to “you guys aren’t very good at visuals” isn’t to (a) call your critics libtards and lieberals and/or (b) to shrug.  It’s: start working on getting better visuals, “beleivers.”  They, you know, work.
  2. If you are the “director of media relations” for the guy who wants to be Prime Minister, don’t invite people online to further criticize your boss.  It’s kind of stupid.  Also, they might take you up on your invitation.
  3. We live in a dark time – Trump, Brexit, the Recipe For Hate, etc.  Conservatives should be like Jeff Flake, and be principled and inclusive.  They shouldn’t be like Rebel Media, and devolve into something that is bigoted and divisive, just because Trump cheated with Russia’s help and “won” the Electoral College with three million fewer votes.

Will anyone listen to me?  Of course not.  No one listens to me, etc.


Politics is pictures

Conservatives don’t like Justin Trudeau.  They really, really don’t like him.

This writer is a regular on Evan Solomon’s CFRA radio show with Alise Mills and Karl Belanger.  My friends Alise and Karl are articulate and thoughtful advocates (unlike me), and they are prepared to criticize their own political party when it is warranted (like me).

Evan invites us onto his much-listened-to show, we are told, because we don’t just parrot partisan talking points.  There’s too much of that on the airwaves – particularly over at CBC – and Solomon prefers panellists who are prepared to offer the occasional mea culpa.

Alise is (notionally) the Conservative strategist, Karl is (usually) the New Democrat strategist, and I am cast in the role of Liberal strategist (mostly).  One topic, last week: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit with the Philippines’ madman,  Rodrigo Duterte, and whether Trudeau would raise Duterte’s human rights violations.

I vigorously defended Trudeau, and insisted that he would do so (and he did).  On every international excursion, I said, Trudeau has never hesitated to press human rights issues.

Alise, however, was having none of it.  And she was intently focussed on one part of Trudeau’s Philippines visit in particular: the part where Trudeau popped by a fried chicken place in Manila to get something to eat.  He had a lot of cameras in tow, as Prime Ministers usually do.

Trudeau charmed the locals, ordered the chicken, and left.

Alise, however, was mightily unimpressed.  And, if you were to eyeball the offerings of the conservative commentariat – and, inter alia, conservative commenters online – you’ll see she is not alone.  They went bananas about something that seemed quite innocent.

I have pondered all this, and come up with a theory.  Here it is: conservatives know that Justin Trudeau is arguably the best retail politician Canada has had since my former boss, Jean Chretien.  When it comes to glad-handing and baby-balancing, Trudeau is without equal.  When you think about it, you might agree that there isn’t an elected politician alive who is as good at this mano-a-mano stuff as Justin Trudeau.

Now, of course, he overdoes it sometimes.  His Superman stunt on Halloween was, as Mashable noted, “a little bit too self-aware.”  Sniffed Mashable’s guy: “Trudeau is clearly fishing for more media attention, a tactic his administration has used for some time now. While Trudeau may be the darling politician to some, his obvious PR moves are getting old real quick.”

Maybe.  Perhaps.

But if we’re being fair, we have to acknowledge that every politician, everywhere, fishes for media attention.  They all do stunts.  The aforementioned Chretien, for  instance, rode on scooters and water skis.  Trudeau’s Dad did pirouettes.  Bill Clinton donned sunglasses and played the saxophone.  Barack Obama went kitesurfing, mugged with countless kids, and openly loved his wife.

Wait: that’s not “every politician.”  That’s just progressive politicians.

And therein lies the best explanation for Alise’s pique: conservative partisans detest Justin Trudeau because he (like Messrs. Chretien, Clinton, Obama, et al.) is really good at visuals.  And conservative politicians generally aren’t.

Stephen Harper at the Calgary Stampede, dressed up like a wretched Woody in Toy Story.  Robert Stanfield famously fumbling a football.  Joe Clark losing his luggage and walking into a soldier’s bayonet.  And Blandy Scheer, who just last week released a commercial – innovatively titled “I’m Andrew Scheer” – that was so bad, and so fundamentally weird, you half expect David Lynch to appear in it, too, holding an owl and a log and talking backwards.

Conservatives aren’t very good at photo ops.  They just aren’t.  Watch Donald Trump, the Mango Mussolini, the next time he is compelled to shake someone’s extended hand in the Rose Garden.  He usually looks at it like it is a wet dog turd – or, conversely, he latches onto it like a barnacle on the underside of a barge.  It makes for fun television.

Conservatives, in their tiny black hearts, know this about themselves. Distilled down to its base elements, their ideology is misanthropy.  So, they avoid interactions with other humans wherever and whenever possible.

Trudeau, meanwhile, doesn’t.  It’s the one thing he’s really good at.

And that’s why conservatives hate him when he does selfies and baby-balancing and cheery photo ops.

They wish they could do that stuff, too, and they’re jealous.

Apple iBooks calls Recipe For Hate one of the “best books” of the month!


Apple iBooks has called Recipe For Hate one of the top books of November 2017 – and offered up this review:

It’s the late ’70s and the Ramones are defining a new kind of American rock. In Portland’s underground punk scene, a group of teens experience a defining moment of their own when two of their friends are murdered by Nazis. Recipe for Hate throws readers right into the moshpit of it all. Though the book’s themes are heavy, it’s a fast-paced read with well-drawn characters. This incredibly timely novel–inspired by real-life events–trains a keen eye on the hidden dynamics within subcultures and ask big questions about the nature of justice.

First Quill and Quire, then Publisher’s Weekly, then School Library Journal, now this.  I am somewhat stunned (Lisa will tell you I’m always stunned) and immensely grateful.

Like, wow.

Henry Rollins worked with Charles Manson

That headline isn’t clickbait.  It’s the truth.

This revelation first came out about seven years ago, but I missed it.  In the wake of Manson’s (deserved, overdue) death, it has come out again: Henry Rollins produced an album with Charles Manson.

In the punk scene, there were always some idiots around who idolized murderers.  Sid Vicious, for example, stabbed his girlfriend to death, but he still has a big following.  The Subhumans’ Gerry Useless served time for being part of a gang that bombed people, but some punks think that’s a-okay.  And don’t get me started on the punks – like Johnny Rotten – who thought it was fine to wear swastikas, the very symbol of mass murder.

As the guy who first brought (pre-Rollins) Black Flag to Calgary, I cannot tell you how disappointed and revulsed I am by the news that Henry Rollins – someone I always considered thoughtful – would collaborate on anything with Charles Manson.  But he did.

As I always tell my kids: never have heroes.  They always fucking let you down.