Category: - THE CATASTROPHIZER
 
Picture
I've used it once before, but this photo, taken about a year ago by Alex Panther, continues to be good.
1. Rob Ford announces he will run for mayor of Toronto.

Mostly Unbothered-ness
I am unbothered, because there's no way he will be elected. He will likely be aggressively objectionable, but then he will not be elected, and I will go back to not thinking about him until he says something else about "Orientals." 

2. Rob Ford wins the election and becomes mayor of Toronto.

  IDONOTUNDERSTANDATALLIAMSOCONFUSED

3. Rob Ford is mayor; Rob Ford faces legal challenges; Rob Ford remains mayor.

Hope and also Unease and then Ambivalence
I am filled with hope, because maybe Ford will have to stop being mayor; I am filled with unease, because if it's the courts that bring about his ousting, maybe that will just make some people like him more and then he'll just be elected again. So when he ends up not having to stop being mayor, I'm kind of relieved, but also deflated—because after all, he is still mayor.

4. Crack video. Mayor in crack video. Mayor a racist and a homophobe in a video OF CRACK.

Mild shock and also Relief
Crack is a bit of a surprise, but the suggestion that Rob Ford had issues with substance abuse, making judgments about things, and being a racist and a homophobe does not shock me. I am relieved that my profound misgivings about him have been entirely validated and wait for the inevitable scandal to consume and de-mayor him.

5. Inevitable scandal weirdly does not seem to catch on so much. Rob Ford remains mayor.

Confusion and then Sense of Unreality
I don't understand why this doesn't seem to have traction. As the weeks go by, a weird sort of mayor-not-at-all-linked-to-crack-video normalcy sets it, and I have to regularly remind myself that I did not invent the whole thing in a state of electoral despair.

6. I thought about figuring out how to embed gifs, and then embedding a gif of either (1) the Scanners head explosion, or (2) the Raiders head melting. Then I worried they were both overused, if ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE, and I considered going with this still from WarGames:
But then I worried that that was both too serious (thermonuclear war) and too flippant ('80s movie reference to deal with genuinely disturbing state of affairs that has already harmed a lot of people). But I decided to include it anyway, so you could have a point of reference for my discussion of deciding against doing so.

7. Scandal DOES register this time, with every person and place that exists. 
Rob Ford remains mayor. Council strips him of various powers. He remains mayor. New poll finds his support at 42 per cent. Even next year, he might still be mayor.

IDONOTUNDERSTANDATALLIAMSOCONFUSED
 
Picture
"Boo! Boo! Rubbish! Filth! Slime! Muck! Boo! Boo! Boo!"
Watching the news has, for a while now, felt kind of like swimming in a vat of raw sewage filled with empty liquor bottles and rubber chickens. The reason I don't feel even more as if I want to remove my brain and put it in some bleach, and then some vinegar, and then something else associated with a vigorous cleaning action, is that I have not been swimming in this sewage vat alone.

I would like to take a moment to consider CP24—and, more specifically, Katie Simpson. The Star has received a lot of attention and credit for its coverage of Rob Ford, and I have no issues with that whatsoever. But I do think that Katie Simpson should also be commended, and appreciated, and generally celebrated. It could well be that she's a nasty, vindictive, underhanded type of individual. Perhaps Doug Ford said she was "vicious" and that "foam comes out of her mouth" because he is right and not because he is a nasty, vindictive, underhanded type of individual. 

But I don't care. I have decided she is even-handed, resourceful, quick-thinking, and incredibly patient. And I would like to continue believing she is all of those things because doing so calms and reassures me. 

And I like Stephanie Smyth, too (although sometimes I worry she seems sad). And Ann Rohmer, obviously (show me someone who does not like Ann Rohmer, and I WILL SHOW YOU A MONSTER). And I'm ambivalent about Stephen LeDrew, whose affable bow-tie-edness is not quite enough to make me overlook the fact that one time he wore loafers with no socks, and a whole lot of other times he's been an apologist for people I don't think should be apologized for.

So if you know that Katie Simpson is a deeply selfish and unprincipled monster, please don't tell me—liking her helps offset (a bit) how much I don't like almost everyone else.
 
I would now like to do what I often seem to do when confronted by important events that affect a lot of people: think and talk about myself.

By now, pretty much everyone knows that Toronto's mayor is belligerent, deluded, crack-using, defiant, in serious danger of doing harm to himself or others, and surrounded by crazy people who love him in a way that encourages him to be all those things I just mentioned.

And watching the minute-by-minute updates about the public breakdown of this person has made me feel pretty conflicted and disgusted with myself.

The first reason this experience has made me disgusted with myself is by no means a surprising or unusual one: I find myself occasionally exhilarated by the sense that NEWS IS HAPPENING, and IT IS CONSISTENTLY CRAZY NEWS, and then I consider the fact that the news that is happening relates to a real person and a real city and involves other real people—and feel crappy for all my prurient interest and anticipation.

The second reason is that this experience has given me an intense and sustained sense of Toronto community. I know that pretty much everyone is thinking about the same thing at the same time. And I know that—with the exception of some people who want to vote for the regular guy (you know, the one you'd feel comfortable doing some crack with while threatening to murder people) and some people who happen to be related to this regular guy and are maybe the worst people ever—pretty much everyone is thinking the same things about that thing. I don't know that I've ever been so powerfully aware of Toronto as a single consciousness, consciously focused on one single subject.

And I feel gross and uncomfortable that it is this subject that has made me feel this way. People don't tend to, though, en masse and by the millions, spontaneously think about the benefits of light rail transit; people rarely, all together and at one and the same time, consider the benefits of affordable housing. 

But I suspect that actively enjoying—rather than simply finding solace in--the sense of community that has sprung out of such a profoundly distressing situation is probably neither honourable nor healthy. Getting enjoyment out of something that causes general distress isn't usually awesome.

Whenever I find myself too inclined to feel gratified by the knowledge that I am right now agreeing with millions and millions of my fellow Torontonians about something, I remind myself again that actual people are involved in this, that an actual city is involved in this, and that one of the reasons it's so difficult to find the right tone to take with this is that it is both completely outlandish and increasingly disturbing—and then I become overwhelmed by all that and want to remind myself that I'm not alone and that a lot of other people feel the same way...and the whole thing starts all over again.
 
Picture
Rob Ford on the left; Frank Di Giorgio on the right. And in the middle, the Consul General of Italy, who is probably a very nice man.
So obviously today's news featured a BOMBSHELL announcement. No, not that one about Rob Ford and how he's (a) a crack smoker, (b) a racist, (c) a homophobe, (d) a liar, and (e) the occasional employer of an occasional driver who perhaps came by his interest in extortion honestly by way of his experiences with drug trafficking and death-threat-issuing. 

No—the bombshell announcement came courtesy of Frank Di Giorgio (Ward 12, York South-Weston): he stated that he is standing by his crack-smoking, racist, homophobic, lying, occasional-driver/ frequent-criminal–employing mayor. He told Katie Simpson of CP24 that he does not think the mayor should step down, and that he hopes councillors can focus on business as usual—tomorrow, for example, there's the matter of the new waste-management budget, and Di Giorgio hopes that all that mayoral crack-smoking and possible extortion involvement doesn't divert any attention away from that. 

LET US MAINTAIN OUR SENSE OF PROPORTION. As Di Giorgio said when asked about the mayor's crack-smoking, "Maybe he doesn't do it every day." Can we not manage to schedule important city business for the days the mayor is NOT SMOKING CRACK?  Can we not make some allowances for a mayor who only smokes crack ONCE IN A WHILE? Do we really need a mayor who smokes NO CRACK AT ALL? 

I am so glad that even if those Pollyannas who demand mayors not EVER be high on crack triumph and Rob Ford leaves office, there will still be a voice of reason at city hall.


 
Even strong supporters of Hudak would be hard-pressed to deny that he looks a lot like a groundhog.

Picture
Tim Hudak.
Picture
A groundhog.
I've often reflected on the fact that he really looks like a groundhog. But such reflections have always left me confused and frustrated, because there's something else, someone else, he reminds me of. And then yesterday (while I was watching him on CP24 cleverly skirt the issue of what the future holds for groundhogs), it finally came to me: Michael Keaton.
Tim Hudak looks like what would be produced if a groundhog ate Michael Keaton.

I mean no disrespect to Tim Hudak when I say he looks like a groundhog who just ate Michael Keaton. In fact, that's probably the nicest thing I've ever said about him.
 
I am once again comically unfocused to the point of half-wittedness. See if you can identify the subjects of the different near-simultaneous trains of thought in the inner monologue I've recreated below.

I feel I am close to really understanding modal auxiliaries. They are actually quite manageable. I wish Weiner hadn't gone with those teenage-Don-Draper-in-a-whorehouse flashbacks—I didn't need a Law and Order: SVU explanation for his sexual issues. [Stabler has eaten two pieces of lettuce, but not touched one single pellet. If she weren't furry, I think she would look peaked.] "Do," "must," and "ought" are modal auxiliaries. That makes sense to me. Is every episode now going to feature Don Draper on some kind of drug/suffering from some kind of illness and then hallucinating? [Stabler's urine is a strange colour now. I must look up photos of guinea pig urine on the internet. She has not yet eaten ONE SINGLE PELLET.] I can no longer remember a single modal auxiliary. I do not know what a modal auxiliary is. I suspect that soon the show will feature nothing but Don with a head cold talking to wise dead infantrymen and Wild West–style prostitutes. [The vet told me orange urine could be caused by stress, which makes sense, because she has been fighting off infection—and being so disapproving and defiant and mean-spirited probably takes a toll, too. Pellets all still accounted for.]

Picture
DEFIANT.
Picture
"Being so disapproving and defiant and mean-spirited probably takes a toll." This photo was (I'm pretty sure) taken by Jonathan Goldsbie and is perfect.
 
Rob Ford and the study of grammar have conspired to addle my wits. I don't have a whole lot to say about Rob Ford, in part because everything has already been said, and in part because the situation is so outrageous that on some level jokes and quips just bounce off it. The situation doesn't need jokes, because all the jokes that could be made are somehow already manifest in it.

I will say only that it seems almost like colourful sayings have become somehow imbued with transformative power. "Rob Ford! That guy's on crack!" And voilà! HE IS. Instead of his behaviour inspiring the "That guy's on crack!" because that comment is appropriate because HE IS ON CRACK, it felt like that comment itself might have made the crack smoking happen. It's like figurative language might have started to have literal effects. "Rob Ford! That guy's bananas!"
I don't even know whether what I just wrote makes any sense whatsoever. My brain is sick, because this is what I just finished reading:

"As with the future perfect, [future perfect progressive] combines concepts of both the future and the past. Imagine that some scenario is happening right now, at the present time, and will continue to happen for some time into the future. Or, the scenario has not yet begun, but it will, and once it does, it will continue for some time. Hold that thought. Now, imagine jumping into the future while this scenario is still is progress, looking back on it, and observing how long it has been in progress at that point. That is the future perfect progressive."


               - from Anne Stilman's Grammatically Correct

     OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD
 
I can't figure out whether I'd rather be governed by someone stupid or someone corrupt (assuming those were the only choices and there was no third option of, say, Cory Booker).

I know it's stupid to find anything romantic about the mobbed-up antics of Quebec mayors. They pay people off; they pay people off in fancy steakhouses; the construction professionals they pay off in fancy steakhouses look more like mobsters than any other mobsters who have ever existed. And I know the mob is all about nasty stuff, and so it's not like I find it alluring.

So it's not like I wish Toronto had a mayor who was a Vegas-style crook. I just wish we didn't have a mayor who was a Vegas-sized dick. If you do a google search for "corrupt mayors," the first result is a wikipedia entry for Buddy Cianci, former mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, who was forced to resign twice—once because he pled guilty to assault, and once because he was convicted of racketeering conspiracy. If you do a google search for "stupid mayors," the first result is a Facebook group called "Top Ten Stupid Things Rob Ford has Done (since he was elected mayor." Rob Ford is the stupidest mayor on the internet.

There's just something so ignominious about having the Stupidest Mayor. Not even some impressionable '70s-movie-loving high-schooler will go through a phase where he wants to be Rob Ford. There is no Goodfellas for ignorant dicks.

(Actually, there probably is, but I liked the ring of that so I decided not to think about the matter any further.)

And I don't yet feel any relief. Because he might become some ignorant folk hero and get reelected. Or his brother might get elected and keep the seat warm until he's legally allowed to run again and then he'll win because he'll have become some kind of ignorant folk hero...

There's only one candidate who can take him down.



Picture
George would save CORY BOOKER from a burning house.
I'm talking about George the cat, not television's Michael Weatherly.

Heck, Hank the Cat placed third in Virginia's senate race.

In fact, George and Stabler the guinea pig co-existed so peacefully on my lap this evening that she would be an obvious choice for deputy mayor. The only problem with that would be that there would be a lot of hay-related motions, and demands for more hay.


POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you're not entertained, fair enough.
 
Picture
Photo courtesy of subversive-about-town Alex Panther.
My mother is quiet and dignified (at least in comparison to the slightly less quiet and dignified people who make up the rest of her family), but I've always known she was dangerously insubordinate. You, too, will appreciate the threat my mother poses to the fair, just, and totally-not-dangerously-imbecilic Powers That Be when you read the email she recently sent to the totally-not-dangerously-imbecilic Mayor Rob Ford.


Subject: Comments from a taxpayer
Dear Rob Ford,
Your continued support for low property taxes and a proposed tax freeze in 2014 are sops to the constituency of voters who in my opinion are selfish, short-sighted and very much the opposite of responsible citizens.  The latter know that payment of taxes contributes to the common good and future of their city.  Tax increases are
to be expected.  It is not for you to bow to the whims of your constituency but to offer well-thought-out plans. So far I haven't seen many of those.

Compare the tax increases recommended in Karen Stintz's OneCity proposal with what households spend annually on, for example, cable, internet and phone plans and even cases of beer. Much more than the proposed increases.

It is up to you and your council to work out plans for the future of Toronto's transportation system. The current situation is not acceptable.   

Another thing.  The media should not have to resort to freedom of information requests in order to find out what you are up to whilst carrying out the duties of your office. There are also deficiencies in "leadership" and representing the City at official functions.  Below is an excerpt from the City of Toronto website:

The Mayor
The role of the Mayor as the head of council is to:
  • act as chief executive officer
  • provide information and make recommendations to Council with respect to Council's role in ensuring that administrative policies, practices and procedures and controllership policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of Council and in ensuring the accountability and transparencyof the operations of the City, including the activities of the senior management of the City
  • preside over (chairs) meetings of council so that its business can be carried out efficiently and effectively
  • provide leadership to council
  • represent the City at official functions, and
  • carry out any other duties under the City of Toronto Act, 2006 or any other Act. 

Thank you.

Jane Oakley Sweet



In my mother's hands, quotation marks and boldfaced type become positively insulting.

She has not yet heard back from him. She should really have titled the message "Free football and monorails!"

And lest you think I grew up with at least one parent who raised me to feel respect for those who devote themselves to the public good and who let me mispronounce words like "buoy" and "clapboard", I give you the letter from my father that appeared in this week's Guardian:


In Notes & Queries (22 June), we read: "'honest politician' is the essence of an oxymoron". Not really: strictly speaking, an oxymoron is an expression that at first blush seems dead wrong, but after reflection is seen to be a meaningful paradox. "Honest politician" is simply a contradiction in terms.

Frederick Sweet





POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.
 
Everyone knows that critics of government involvement in things, or control of things, or of government (full stop) have an impressive weapon in their rhetorical arsenal: Hitler comparisons. There is never a dearth of Nazi talk in American politics - most recently, conservative commentators have been comparing Obama to Hitler because of his move to require that Catholic organizations provide birth control to their employees through their insurance plans. Jon Stewart has weighed in on this, making the apparently still radical and crucial point that the pundits who make this comparison tend to be irresponsible jackasses. 

Canadian politicians have finally twigged to the fact that all that might be needed to convince the public that something is wrong is to suggest it wouldn't be out of place in 1930s Germany. Conservative MP Larry Miller, during a debate on the long-gun registry, claimed (wrongly) that Sen. Sharon Carstairs said, "The registering of hunting rifles is the first step in the social reengineering of Canadians" and then  stated, "That is what Adolf Hitler tried to do in the 1930s."

Later realizing that not everyone thought a registry used by law enforcement to keep track of weapons was the first sign of Canada's descent into Naziism, he offered the following masterful apology: "While the references to the gun registry and what this evil guy did to perpetrate his crimes are very clear, it was inappropriate to use his name in the House."

So people suspicious of increased regulations and government oversight have always had a ready-made, go-to charge: "[insert name here] is behaving just like Hitler." But what of the rhetorically reckless types who want to use an overblown, groundless, and incendiary analogy to condemn the people who are suspicious of increased government regulations? To what baseless charge can they turn?

Enter Vic Toews, Canada's Public Safety Minister, with the answer. The Conservative government tabled the "lawful access" bill on Tuesday, and it is expected to pass. This legislation will make it easier for police to get certain information about internet users without first having to get a warrant. A number of dangerous, uninformed radicals (Ontario privacy watchdog Ann Cavoukian, Federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart...what is this, a hippie convention?) have raised concerns about what the changes would mean for privacy rights. When liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia made some (admittedly misleading and exaggerated) claims about the new powers that would be available to police, Toews bravely took him to task by declaring, "He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers."

Finally! Now both sides of a "how much government is too much government" argument will have access to inflammatory metaphors. Government trying to run you life, trying to clamp down on certain freedoms? They're a bunch of Nazis. Citizens trying to hold on to certain freedoms, daring to criticize the government? They're on the side of child molesters. 

I love a fair fight.



POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.