“Warren Kinsella's book, ‘Fight the Right: A Manual for Surviving the Coming Conservative Apocalypse,’ is of vital importance for American conservatives and other right-leaning individuals to read, learn and understand.”

- The Washington Times

“One of the best books of the year.”

- The Hill Times

“Justin Trudeau’s speech followed Mr. Kinsella’s playbook on beating conservatives chapter and verse...[He followed] the central theme of the Kinsella narrative: “Take back values. That’s what progressives need to do.”

- National Post

“[Kinsella] is a master when it comes to spinning and political planning...”

- George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC TV

“Kinsella pulls no punches in Fight The Right...Fight the Right accomplishes what it sets out to do – provide readers with a glimpse into the kinds of strategies that have made Conservatives successful and lay out a credible roadmap for progressive forces to regain power.”

- Elizabeth Thompson, iPolitics

“[Kinsella] deserves credit for writing this book, period... he is absolutely on the money...[Fight The Right] is well worth picking up.”

- Huffington Post

“Run, don't walk, to get this amazing book.”

- Mike Duncan, Classical 96 radio

“Fight the Right is very interesting and - for conservatives - very provocative.”

- Former Ontario Conservative leader John Tory

“His new book is great! All of his books are great!”

- Tommy Schnurmacher, CJAD

“I absolutely recommend this book.”

- Paul Wells, Maclean’s

“Kinsella puts the Left on the right track with new book!”

- Calgary Herald



Rudy Giuliani’s second term was not going well. It was a disaster, in fact.

He’d been diagnosed with cancer. His signature tough-on-crime policy was rounding up more hot dog vendors than bad guys. He was confrontational and combative. He informed his wife he was dumping her at a press conference. His numbers stunk. Even without term limits, he wouldn’t have been elected NYC dogcatcher.

And then, 9/11 happened.

The attacks on New York City, and New Yorkers, dramatically changed the political fortunes of Rudy Giuliani. Standing at Ground Zero, reassuring New Yorkers and the world, Giuliani was stoic, strong, serene. In three short weeks, his personal popularity shot up more than 40 points, to an extraordinary 80 per cent.

New Yorkers wanted the term limits law lifted, so he could run again. Oprah Winfrey called him “America’s mayor.” The Queen gave him an honourary knighthood. Time Magazine named him person of the year.

But before 9/11, as one writer put it, Giuliani had been a bum. On that day, he became a man. And on the days that followed, he became a hero.

Such is the transformational nature of disaster – war, terrorism, public health crises. It happens a lot, when you think about it.

Before 1939, Winston Churchill was isolated and marginalized, a period he himself called “the wilderness years.” And then World War Two broke out, and Churchill would go on to literally led the world in a collective struggle against fascism and Nazism.

Closer to home, Trudeaumania faded when Pierre Trudeau started acting on his pledge to build a “just society” – legislating (appropriately) multiculturalism and bilingualism. But when the October 1970 crisis struck, Trudeau’s resolute refusal to negotiate with FLQ terrorists – and his willingness to impose the War Measures Act – dramatically boosted his popularity. Gallup found that 90 per cent of Canadians approved of his leadership during the crisis.

In Ontario in 2003, when SARS struck, the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves was intensely disliked. There had been the Walkerton disaster, soaring energy prices, and a ministerial expense account scandal. But when SARS hit – ultimately claiming 44 lives – Eves’ calm, reassuring approach put the PCs back in contention.

At the time, I was (full disclosure) the chairman of the Ontario Liberal war room effort, and was witness to an extraordinary event: a huge, overnight rise in the PCs polling numbers. Simply because Health Minister had held a press conference, and showed people how they should wash their hands, to avoid SARS’ spread.

Other examples are legion. A politician is reviled and headed to certain defeat, and then something happens – a war, a terrorist attack, a public health crisis – and everything changes. What once seemed impossible becomes possible.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands at the precipice of such a moment, with twin challenges facing him and his government. On the one hand, there is his (appropriate) decision to lend modest military support to the international coalition against the serial murderers who make up ISIS. On the other, his government’s (as-yet unseen) response to the metastasizing Ebola crisis.

As is always the case, a leader’s political opponents become mostly marginalized in such moments. Both NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader have said they oppose any military action against ISIS, and both may well come to rue the day they did so. There is no other criticism they can make, now, without sounding indifferent to the fate of Canadian men and women deployed to a battleground.

Meanwhile, neither man can say much about the burgeoning Ebola scare without sounding like they are fear mongering, or worse. So they will say little, if anything.

People come together in times of disaster, in times of war and terror. They set aside their differences.

And – as Messrs. Mulcair and Trudeau likely know too well – sometimes they set aside certain politicians, too.


Exclamation marks!

 

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This was slipped under peoples’ doors in the middle of the night. Seriously.

The coordination of the medical/governmental/public response to this thing has been a five-alarm shit show. Not going to end well, methinks.

 

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Paul Adams tweeted this – Story? Column? Op-ed? What is it? – earlier this morning.  My friend Darrell Bricker was appalled by the fact that the national broadcaster would be reduced to running stuff that could have been generated by any “grad student with a calculator.”

Me, I was appalled by the writing.  I mean, is it so much to ask that the CBC – which has more editorial staff, per capita, than any other Canadian news organization – endeavour to, you know, edit stuff before they put it out? I found the prose, here, dense and confusing to the point of being incoherent.

Anyway, it’s the new reality.  Media polls (and averages of media polls) are worth what you pay for them.

Nothing.

 

 


The media are upset.

This isn’t a unique thing. It happens a lot. But what makes the latest controversy noteworthy is the subject-matter: an obscure change to Canadian copyright law, buried in a Conservative government omnibus bill. The proposed change would permit political parties to use material published and broadcast by news organizations for free in their ads.

CTV discovered the change, and many in the media are in high dudgeon about it. The Opposition parties, always hoping to curry favour with the media, say the change is “disrespectful” (the NDP’s Nathan Cullen) and “devious” (the Liberals’ Ralph Goodale).

Having crafted many, many an ad for the Liberal Party making use of broadcast clips or published reports, I laughed out loud at the professed indignation of Messrs. Cullen and Goodale. Both guys know that party operatives, of all stripes, have made use of media material in political advertising, for years.

There is a legal reason to justify the proposed change: there is no copyright in news. The presentation of it on the page or on the screen, maybe. But the actual newsworthy events? Forget it.

The media don’t possess a copyright over whatever issues from Stephen Harper’s mouth, nor any other politician. Those statements belong to the person who says them, and the public who receive them.

There is a political reason why all political parties are privately cheering on the Conservatives’ dastardly move, however. Madison Avenue’s Rosser Reeves, if he was here, could tell us all about it.

Reeves was the guy who conjured up modern political advertising.

Until Reeves came along, political salesmanship was a primitive process. Candidates for national office were obliged to submit themselves to grueling, months-long campaigns — travelling great distances by train, hollering themselves hoarse from makeshift platforms, grasping innumerable hands at innumerable rallies, and occasionally making use of radio to broadcast lengthy speeches listened to by only a few.

Reeves changed all that. He was a genius. “Certs breath mints — with a magic drop of retsyn.” And “How do you spell relief? R-O-L-A-I-D-S.” And “Wonder bread helps build strong bodies in eight ways.” And, perhaps most memorably of all, “M&Ms melt in your mouth, not in your hands.” Remember those? All Reeves.

He met with Republican bigwigs in 1952, because they were anxious about how to get General Eisenhower elected. Reeves gave them a way. He wrote a three-page memo, double spaced.

“Is there a new way of campaigning that can guarantee a victory for Eisenhower in November? The answer is: ‘Yes!’ what is this ‘new way of campaigning?’ This new way of campaigning, in essence is a new use of what advertising men know as ‘spots.’ A spot is an announcement on radio — or an announcement on television. THE HUMBLE RADIO OR TV ‘SPOT’ CAN DELIVER MORE LISTENERS FOR LESS MONEY THAN ANY OTHER FORM OF ADVERTISING. Let us repeat that. THE HUMBLE RADIO OR TV ‘SPOT’ CAN DELIVER MORE LISTENERS FOR LESS MONEY THAN ANY OTHER FORM OF ADVERTISING.”

What Reeves wrote in breathless prose, 62 years ago, still holds up. The best way to communicate with voters, then and now, is using a TV or radio spot that contains a damning bit of audio or video of your opponent. Or a stirring clip of your own leader, rallying the country. Or both.

Voters want to see and hear, on their own, what a politician says. That’s how they make important choices in elections. They don’t want the media’s analysis and bias – they want the video or audio proof.

That may upset media bean-counters, but too bad. The public statements of politicians belong to the public, not private media organizations.

And that’s why this change, while upsetting the media bosses, is good for democracy.


…two months after the fact. Better late than never, I suppose.

I never called him a racist, you know. I simply asked if his policies treated different people differently. If they distinguished between people based on race.

I await his apology to me, because I sure as shit withdraw mine to him.

 

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(Oh, and here is video of his actual words. If they get the coverage they deserve, he’s done.)

 

 


At around the four minute mark.

 

“I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’ But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’ Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that ‘I even want education for your children as well.’ And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.’”

 


When I was going to Bishop Carroll High School in Calgary, my Dad subscribed to the Globe and Mail.  We got the Herald, too, but both of us thought the Globe was a better-written paper, albeit pretty Toronto-centric.  I loved reading Jay Scott’s stuff – that was a writer.  I adored that man.

Anyway. Media habits are hard to break (I guess), so when I went away to study journalism at Carleton, I kept getting the Globe delivered.  Even when Chris, Harold, Ryan and I were penniless – even when we were exchanging empties to buy K.D. or beer, not necessarily in that order – I still got the Globe.  Back home in Calgary, in law school and rooming with Bjorn, same thing: beer, Ichiban and the Globe.  That was it.

In the intervening (many) years, I kept getting the Globe delivered.  I got all the other papers, of course, but the Globe was the constant.  So, when I wrote for the Post, I’d buy it on the street, and then I stopped reading it entirely – I don’t think I’ve looked at it since 2008 (and I don’t think I’m alone, in that regard).  I got the Star for a while, too, but I eventually got fed up with their self-congratulatory “Star Gets Results” crusade crap – and, when they threw out my friend Fergie like he was trash, I cut them off for good. (If Doug Ford gets elected, you can mainly blame the Star, by the by.)

The Sun, who has been wonderful to me for four years, I of course read daily – but I buy it on the street, like you’re supposed to with a good tab.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll be writing for them, however.  After this week’s developments, not long, I suspect.

The Globe, through all of those years, has been the constant.  I stuck with them, even as the ads started to disappear and the actual journalism started to do likewise.  And then, in recent months, my paper simply stopped showing up on my doorstep in the East End.

Ladurantaye, when he was still writing for the paper – and boy, did they ever miss my friend this week – tried to get the problem fixed.  I got the papers again for a while, and then they started bypassing my doorstop again.  Then Steve left the paper for Twitter, which tells you plenty.

So, again this morning, no paper.  Again.  I called the Globe switchboard on the way in to work.  No one answered, naturally, so I was transferred to a lady in or near Mumbai (which, again, tells you plenty).  She read off a screen, trying to strong arm me into staying on with a paper that doesn’t deliver.  After a half-dozen refusals, I finally got her to listen to me.  Cancelled.  Review that for quality assurance purposes, newspaper marketing experts.

Anyway, it makes me a bit sad, but that’s the way it is, in this era where U.S. hedge funds will soon be controlling what every Canadian reads – except, perhaps, in Toronto or Montreal.  It sucks. It totally sucks.

The moral of the story, for the dwindling number of people working at a dwindling number of newspapers, I suppose, is this: when you don’t deliver – both literally and figuratively – you’re going to lose people.

Today, after forty years, the Globe lost me.

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