Categories for Musings

Column: the She-wolf of the Clueless

The first indication that the far Right was back was right there, right in front. Right outside the glass doors of the Corus studios in Toronto.

I stepped outside of the building, past a worried-looking pair of security guards. There they were: the ones who are neo-Nazi, white supremacist, Holocaust-denying Hitlerian InfoWars freaks. And the ones who have been “shadowbanned” on Twitter. And the birthers, the truthers, the losers. And the ones who love guns and hate people with darker skin.

The Faith Goldy herd. More than a hundred of them, at least.

They were there to protest the absence of their She-Wolf of the Clueless,Fräulein Faith, from the Global TV Toronto mayoral debate. I was there because I am helping Toronto Mayor John Tory in his re-election campaign.

When I stepped onto the sidewalk, the Goldy mob erupted in screeches and booing. They don’t like me much, apparently. A couple Toronto police officers approached as some of Faith’s flock started to follow.

“We think we should escort you to your car,” one of the cops said, and the Goldy goons peeled away. I told the cop I didn’t think that was necessary.

“We think it is,” he said. “We will escort you to your car.”

Welcome to Toronto’s 2018 mayoral campaign, folks. It’s been something.

Everywhere you look, Faith Goldy can be seen, like some foul, unkillable virus you can’t remove from your computer. There she is, slithering onto the stage at the Arts debate, her rightist goons chanting for “free speech” for them (but not for anyone else), and then calling everyone present “communists.” Goldy got led out by the police at that one. But she also got what she wanted most: the bulk of the news coverage that night.

There she is at Ford Fest – and not for the first time, either – posing for that now-infamous photo with Ontario’s Premier. Only after being pressured by the Opposition and anti-hate groups does Doug Ford tweet out his condemnation of bigotry – and, sort of, Faith Goldy.

Goldy is undeterred. She cheerily tweets back at him: “Proud to stand up for all Canadians alongside ya, Doug!”

There she is at the transit debate – or her goons, at least – doing their utmost to disrupt the proceedings. Shouting at those who are present.

I’ve been writing about the racist Right – and the anti-Semites and women-haters and the National Socialist types – for three decades. What Faith Goldy has on offer isn’t particularly new.

It’s all been done before: the plan to restrict immigration to white Europeans (as she does). The promotion of a book calling for “the elimination” of Jews (as she did). The willingness to suggest that the Nazis had “robust ideas” (as she did, too). The recitation of “the fourteen words” – the neo-Nazi pledge that was pioneered by a founder of The Order, after he helped murder a Jewish talk show host.

All of Faith Goldy’s hate and bigotry has been done before. It isn’t new. What’s different, what’s new, is what she is doing down here in Toronto – and how she is doing it.

Goldy, you see, is following in the footsteps of former Knights of the Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke – who retweets Faith’s stuff, by the by – and presenting a kinder, gentler face of hate. You’ll never catch her, then, at a cross-burning or in a Klansman’s robes. She’s too clever for that.

Goldy does what Duke did – and what Donald Trump’s acolytes do. She spews hatred and division, sure. But she does so in pithy soundbites, using code words, and the practiced smile of a telegenic panellist on Fox news. She’s good at it.

The results can’t be disputed: she’s running third in the mayoralty race, she’s raising money, she’s got plenty of followers, and she’s even doing robocalls and TV ads. Debates or not, she is making her loathsome presence felt.

Anyway. I got to my car, and I drove slowly away, a few haters hollering at me as I did.

The beast of hate is awake, folks, and he is slouching our way, too. Not just in the States, not just here and there in Europe. Here.

Faith Goldy isn’t going to win the Toronto mayor’s race. She never expected to. She had her sights set on something else.

Watching her mob in my rear view mirror, I reckon she’s already got it.

New Dark Ages are here!

Just delivered to Daisy’s office a minute ago – pre-release copies of my newest (and ninth) book, New Dark Ages!

A short synopsis:

The X Gang face off with Earl Turner, a presidential candidate straight out of their nightmares.

It is a dangerous, divisive time in America. A far-right political candidate is seeking the presidency and stirring up hatred against minorities. The X Gang, meanwhile, have lost one of their friends to that presidential candidate — and are encountering manifestations of hate practically everywhere they go.

With his band, the Hot Nasties, about to embark on their first North American tour, and several recent murders in the punk scene linked to their gigs, Kurt Blank and the rest of the X Gang have some difficult decisions to make.

New Dark Ages is about surviving in a nasty, brutish, and short-sighted time — and whether one should just go along or fight back.

Pre-order your copy right here!

NAFTA: behind the scenes


Clow would not speak for this story.

But someone who trained him in working war rooms was happy to share some thoughts about him and the job. It was Warren Kinsella who brought the modern campaign war room to Canada in 1993, modelled on Bill Clinton’s 1992 run, and who also authored, “Kicking Ass In Canadian Politics.”

Kinsella demands three attributes from war-room staff: Keeping your mouth shut about the war room. Working fast. Doing thorough research.

These campaign operations shape news coverage by providing key components of a story, quickly, to journalists operating in a tougher environment of 24-hour news and declining research budgets: quotes, facts, and people willing to be interviewed.

“(Clinton aide James) Carville told me, ‘The media atom has split.’… You can’t just take (reporters) out to lunch and spin them and the story appears two days later,”‘ Kinsella said.

“(A war room is) basically a newsroom.”

It also provides a central hub so different offices are in contact, and don’t contradict each other. The Canada-U.S. unit includes the PMO’s Butts and Telford, Freeland, ambassador to Washington David MacNaughton, and writer Michael Den Tandt.

Kinsella was impressed with Clow’s speed, cool, and ability to pump out video content while he worked on the 2007 and 2011 Ontario Liberal campaigns.

The Trump mission is infinitely harder, Kinsella said.

Kinsella joked that in elections all his job entailed was pulling pins from grenades and lobbing them. This team must prevent explosions, while working with thousands of officials, multiple government departments, two countries, industry groups, one global economic superpower, and an unpredictable president.

The unit got to conduct early test runs.

When Trump complained about Canadian dairy and lumber, and threatened a NAFTA pullout, it handled the response. The Canadian side kept the temperature down; it responded to heated rhetoric with statistics and telephone calls, and things quickly cooled down.

“They can’t declare war on Trump,” Kinsella said. “In this situation you can’t throw hand grenades — we’re David, they’re Goliath.”

NAFTA negotiations last week offered a glimpse of the unit’s work.

The U.S. government began by complaining about Canada’s historic trade surpluses. Canadian officials were later in the lobby, handing out fact sheets showing a trade deficit.

“We used to call those ‘heat sheets,” Kinsella explained. He’d have his team slip them under hotel-room doors while reporters were sleeping, so they might shape the next day’s news.

“You build an incremental case,” Kinsella said.

“That’s how you win a campaign.”

What’s in a name

The Starbucks closest to a campaign office always gets pretty busy. Campaign staff go there for meetings, to unwind, or just to get another shot of caffeine.

I was at the Starbucks near Tory HQ this early morning and the manager lady said to me: “Good morning, W.”

I loved that. It made me happy. As my wife, kids and friends will tell you, I don’t like it when people use my first name. I hate it, in fact.

My entire X Gang book series – and the new one, New Dark Ages , is out in a month, by the by – is about a guy who doesn’t ever use his first name, and who doesn’t like it when anyone else uses it, either.

Here’s a bit from the new book:

“It wasn’t the question that stopped me in my proverbial tracks. It was the use of my name. X didn’t like using first names – his, mine, anyone’s. It’s weird, but – as he explained it to me back in Middle School – he considered first names way too personal. One day, I asked him why a million times, and he finally offered up a semblance of an answer. “People use first names to be intimate, at the start,” he said. “Later on, they usually use first names to express disapproval.”

X was expressing disapproval.”

Certain Asian cultures have it right, I think. In Korea, for example. Don’t ever use someone’s given name, except in very limited circumstances.

Does all this make me weird(er)? Probably.

That’s how W is.

Effect and causes

Here’s the past week, which is mid-to-high:

And here’s the main reasons for that:

There’s a theme, there.