EU, Copyright, taxes, and social media: A protectionist idea that will not save journalism.

An excellent and thorough discussion on EU’s “snippet tax” can be found here on Baekdal, but I would like to add something to the discourse.

If European media outlet think they can punish Google and “reclaim” ad revenue they erroneously blame Google and Facebook for “stealing”, they are sadly mistaken. Google can create or buy up a wire service or outlet and then just bypass having to bother with the press entirely. They can drop any links to media outlets, and it will be outlets — not social media — that suffer by the shut out. Like cable channels that ran re-runs of network programs until they gained enough money and audiences to create their own, Facebook and Google no longer are dependent on news outlets.

Western European news outlets are playing chicken and it is a game they will lose. It is too little, too late. Western Europe sticks to old patriarchal traditions, looks down on change, and when they do not adapt, they lobby the government for nonsensical laws that never solve the problem.

This was a problem that should have been addressed about twenty years ago when Yahoo, Netscape, and MySpace dominated cyberspace. Google and Facebook can vanish and be replaced with another breed that can bypass the old system with a different method.

Media outlets are at a crisis globally, and judging by their Mommy Government solutions, they are incapable of solving a thing on their own…

Starting over in a Post-Journalism World, Part Twenty-One.

The magazine industry was made obsolete by the Internet just as the album was made obsolete by it as well.

Albums were highly controlled by the creator: the illustration was a message as was the title. The arrangement of songs also contributed to an overall experience of the theme that was the backbone.

Once music become digitized, the monopoly was wrest away from the creator as its parts were torn apart and the centre of gravity went to the listeners.

Magazines are much the same way. When communications was limited, editors had control of the theme, the cover, the articles and their arrangement. There was no confusing Time with Vanity Fair. Each magazine had its own fit and mandate.

And along came the Internet that pulled magazines apart and chopped them up as they did with albums.

Now Time, once the crown jewel of a magazine empire was sold to a billionaire for a pittance of a sum, and even still, was vastly overpaid.

We now have online publications lament magazines and their once vital covers, but covers are the tombstones of an obsolete industry.

Magazines were a creation of confines, not infinite possibilities. They are predictable and do not veer off course. They are static in a dynamic world, and often gave comfort to people who were looking for validation to go along with their stability.

Magazines sell a message rather than mere tell. They sold an idea and a narrative, and mimicked record albums in many respects.

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It created an artificially controlled environment.

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Magazines held court. So did albums, but the difference is the album is a direct message from the artist.

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While magazines were outsiders who told audiences how to interpret the artist — or newsmaker in general.

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Magazines were always crib notes for the middle class in how to think and what to think.

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Music was the message, but magazines was the interpretation of what the message and the messenger meant.

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Magazines and albums are patriarchal by design and it their core.

I would say the Internet is matriarchal, but it was anti-patriarchal, and broke the stranglehold both had on the collective consciousness, and decimated both as guiding forces.

Journalism relied so much on that medium, that it collapsed when that structure crumbled, but it shouldn’t have been that weak in the first place.

If your mandate and methods are clear, you can adjust, and journalism never could.

The reason it could do so with print, radio, and television is all of them had that Patriarchal thread in common. One way communication the way a parent, employer, or government has over their various charges.

Everyone was hunky dory until the anti-Patriarchal Internet came roaring along, and journalists never detected the difference.

And that is more than just a problem: it is the solution to why journalism collapsed: its very structure blinded it to the obvious signs, meaning the patriarchal no longer works.

The Matriarchal, on the other hand, can do more than just adjust, but it is built to detect changes, as it compares and contrasts. It is empirical in nature, unlike the more dogmatic Patriarchal.

And the alternative to journalism cannot be Patriarchal in design, or you are just wasting your time…

Editor and Publisher has an article that is a rehash I wrote for them...in 1998.

There is an article in Editor and Publisher that is a blast from the past:

Are Newsrooms Doing Enough to Take Care of Their Journalists’ Mental Health and Safety?

If it sounds familiar, that’s because it is. I pitched this story way back when. The angle is somewhat different, but the ground it covers is identical to mine.

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It was published in 1998, and I looked at mental health problems among journalists, and what editors can do if they spot it — and I discussed the various programs many workplaces had for issues such as substance abuse, or any other warning sign that a reporter wasn’t going to be able to do the job.

The new article provides a little more self-serving “noble” spin to emphasize stresses caused by covering traumatizing events (that most reporters do not actually witness first-hand), or threats to the workplace.

When I first pitched an article like this one, it was an extremely hard sell, and it was relegated to the back page of the magazine. No one talked about journalists’ mental health. I did.

I find it interesting that it appears now in the form that it does, however…

Jordan Peterson's Big Boo Hoo: Free speech is for women, too, Mr. Peterson.

Jordan Peterson, a Canadian psychology professor whose diva antics over free speech propelled him into a pop culture career as an author, is not extending the same courtesy to another professor and writer named Kate Manne, as he is threatening to sue her for calling him a misogynist.

If you want freedom of speech to be a thing, then you have to accept everyone’s freedom of speech, even when they call you a misogynist.

As someone who writes books for a living, not everyone is enthralled with me, and have said very nasty things about me in a public forum over the years. (Mind you, they also send me lots of nasty email messages, too).

I don’t sue them because I am a defender of free speech, and in a world of 7.4 billion people, lots of people are not going to think you are special.

As in, pretty much all 7.4 billion people who all think they are way better than you, minus your mom and the person who has a crush on you.

Fame is a roulette wheel, and the chances of you always winning are nil.

You are one of the rare lucky ones if half the people in a public who know who you are actually like you. When TVQs were all the rage in the 1980s, only three people had somewhat more than 50%: The Pope, Bill Cosby, and Michael J. Fox. Let that one land in your brain.

Peterson does not seem to get this whole public career thing. He was used to the lecture halls where students were a captive audience who had to behave themselves if they wanted to pass any course, not just his. That is a controlled environment and an unnatural one that is rigged to favour authority and its decrees. It forms unnatural habits and reinforces unrealistic expectations of life outside of academia, and if you spend decades under that kind of environment, your expectations once you reach a different realm where the rules are vastly different and the outcomes less predictable as they are not rigged by tradition, habit, rote, or routine will not be met. You must adjust your expectations accordingly.

If you are intelligent and teachable.

I have taught in controlled environments, and I know how easy it is to think your are in control, but I also worked as a journalist, and I know that control is an illusion. You cannot control your own narrative in a world of social media.

The article in the Cut fails to mention that Peterson’s lawyer Howard Levitt just so happens to be a columnist in the National Post, a newspaper that has repeatedly bristled at #MeToo, women’s rights, and has been openly partisan in its defending of Steven Galloway…and had written at length about many of things that led to the lawsuit against Winfred Laurier University in the first place.

The Post needs further scrutiny because it certainly does not behave in ways one would expect of an objective disseminator of information.

If you are going to make a case of free speech, be advised it applies to people who are not impressed with you. You cannot rig the public forum the way you can rig a university or a court.

But Peterson is doing Manne a huge favour. He has just given her free publicity and a legitimate news peg to breakout as a serious public voice for feminism, the same way his detractors gave it to him under the same set of circumstances.

Manne is no Cathy Newman, a television host who was used to a rigged battleground and could not handle Peterson. Manne is an academic and knows the same intellectual tricks as Peterson. Nor is she a clueless New York Times reporter whose predictable sophistry is easy to dismantle.

Had he ignored the article, the impact would have been minimal as it was actually nothing that his detractors hadn’t already said before, but by drawing attention to it, people are primed and triggered to wonder about Peterson’s own limitations and weaknesses…

Ian Buruma's Big Boo Hoo: Ignorance of societal learning curves is not a reason to wallow.

You know, there are 7.4 billion people on Earth. That’s a lot of people to choose from.

There are people who do all sorts of important things, and viral videos on Facebook showcase those bunny huggers who rescue animals and those people who break gender and racial barriers as well as the inventors, innovators, and the like.

And you’re an editor for a magazine that reviews books. There is something in the business called “fit”: certain pitches get shot down because they go against the publication’s mandate.

A men’s sporting magazine is going to shoot down your pitch for teaching art to children.  A science magazine is not interested in women’s fall fashions. A political magazine is not going to print an article about looking after rescued horses. A Left-wing magazine is not going to write an opinion piece about how great a president Donald Trump is. No, no, no.

But the former editor of the New York Review of Books, Ian Buruma, decided getting an article from a disgraced Canadian radio host not known as an author to wallow about how hard it is when society frowns on your destructive dysfunctionality was a good idea.

Buruma has been in the business long enough to know he did a whole bunch of things wrong, starting from breaking away from the magazine’s fit. He had to go out of his way to solicit a piece like this one. It would have been one thing if Jian Ghomeshi wrote a book about it (a still very bad move, but he could have had a bigger excuse to offer) — but there was actually no news peg to justify the piece is what makes the motives for publishing it in a book reviewing rag highly questionable.

Second, Ghomeshi is no “get”. He doesn’t have a following. CBC radio caters to older demographics, and isn’t some to-go hub for New Yorkers or Americans in general. Ghomeshi’s ratings were not through the roof: he had an advantage of having a slightly younger demo with somewhat higher ratings than one would expect from the CBC. No one was clamouring for this trigger piece. If you are going to go out on a limb, there would have to be some justifiable payoff, and Ghomeshi — no matter how generous or charitable you are with the goalposts — could not possibly be it on his own. He just knew where to inject himself and how, nothing more.

Finally, Ghomeshi has YouTube, blogs, and social media if he wants to air his story, or he could just go to the National Post to get a front-page story about how all the little people should feel sorry for him the way they were instructed to feel sorry for Steven Galloway.

There was absolutely no sound editorial justification for this piece even if Ghomeshi didn’t do anything wrong.

There is every justification if I had been asked to write about the state of journalism as I have a new book out from a well-respected London-based publisher, and have had three previous books published, including one that was a companion book to a wildly popular documentary movie. I don’t hold my breath because well-researched and documented books that prove that journalists are less than saints will get shut out completely.

Now add the fact that the author and subject of the essay was disgraced for being abusive to women and allowed his narrative to go unverified and unchallenged, and then, when interviewed, the editor could not provide a coherent answer. It is a fireable offence, and Buruma was shown the door.

But now, oh boo hoo. Now he gets to write the same kind of unenlightened drivel that got him terminated in the first place.

He shows he has learned nothing.

In an interview in Vrij, he wallows and makes a false comparison:

‘I am embroiled in a big scandal, in the middle of storm on social media,’ said Ian Buruma on the phone from New York. ‘It is rather ironic: as editor of The New York Review of Books I published a theme issue about #MeToo-offenders who had not been convicted in a court of law but by social media. And now I myself am publicly pilloried.’

There is no irony. Buruma refuses to get it: you do not need to be convicted of a crime to be fired. Not every incompetent and/or malicious undertaking results in a judicial conviction.

For example, there is nothing illegal about telling people that they smell like garbage.

However, if you tell it to customers who all march off and vent on social media about it, you will get fired for shooting off your big mouth without consideration of something known as consequences.

Buruma seems to believe that you have to get a court conviction in order for people’s outrage to be legitimate. He isn’t exactly paying attention or asking hard questions, making him sound like an even worse editor.

When Ghomeshi was on trial, what vindicated him was something very intriguing and disturbing: copies of correspondence he had with his various victims after the fact.

Correspondence that would be years old. Why were they kept, and what purpose did they serve, especially as none of these relationships were long or serious in nature?

Computers break. Memory sticks get corrupted. Files go missing, but how convenient it was to have easy access to trophies. The case was far more diabolical and troubling than it first appeared…but Buruma sees nothing save to give a platform to a lost little man-child, and then whine when he faces the consequences of enabling bad behaviour.

If you are pretending to disseminate information, then you do it right: with verifying claims. Since he did not, that alone justified his sacking.

If you don’t know how to do a job, Mr. Buruma, then do not be surprised that you lose it in the bargain...

The Liberal government spends lavishly on their own ridings? You don't say, Huffington Post Canada!

As I keep saying, the ruling regimes in power always ignore the ridings who didn’t vote for them, and give the graft and the goodies on those who do.

In this case, the Federal Grits are doing it to the tune of $43 billion.

In one summer.

They used to bribe taxpayers with their own money, and now they do it with borrowed money they can never repay. The regime keeps spinning how they are playing hardball with the US on Nafta, but the truth is they are propping things up with borrowed cash to keep up appearances, with proxies’ sour grapes narrative spinning their bungling for them.

But this game is nothing new, and why ideological voting is a surefire way of wasting your vote. It has always been about pragmatism. Mind you, whenever the government pours money into something, that something merely becomes dependent on government cash, and the second it is shut off, whatever they were throwing money at collapses.

And all the signs of a recession are screaming here. There is no “wrecking” good news, as the deluded Globe and Mail insists, it is bad news that has been downplayed with various shell games: people are tapped out and now the elderly are bailing their grown children out, albeit quietly.

But there is seemingly some sort of perpetual childlike surprise when news like this hits as if this should be a shock. It’s not, unless you are historically and politically illiterate.

The problem is that this kind of electorate bribery doesn’t always work. The Ontario Liberals learned that the hard way this year. Overkill reeks of a desperate government, and that stench alone repels people — particularly those from ridings who weren’t the recipient of the reigning government’s doting.

All it takes is for one unforeseen crisis to knock a house of cards down, and the cascading catastrophe begins, but with no cohesion or deep digging, we have a dead profession not understand the greater problems their own country actually faces…

Starting over in a Post-Journalism World, Part Twenty.

There is a rather childish column in the Ottawa Citizen trying to shame Caroline Mulroney for doing her job. The same “oh, she cannot be as progressive as she claims if she does what her boss tells her to do” is just a non-starter. The columnist tries to use a federal example of a federal politician who supposedly stood for principles, even though he became an inert property after doing it.

He said “no”, his boss cut him off at the knees, he became less effective, and when he tried to run for the leadership, didn’t have a prayer.

And this is what rookie MPP Mulroney is supposed to do? To what end? She has a better chance if she toughs it out, works her way up, and earns her influence to one day hold a leadership position where she can make the policies she want to make.

Her government did not have to use the Notwithstanding Clause, and now let’s stop throwing temper tantrums and mislabeling them opinion pieces.

Then there is the Toronto Star with a childish article how there is “global outrage” because Ontario is scrapping their basic income study, as if there was an actual outrage. Some people get upset when they change the recipe of soda, and they ignore the poverty in their own countries.

What is with all this “shaming” disguised as news and not propaganda?

No, there is no global outrage. There will always be a baseline of outrage for any given event, person, or issue that can change at any second.

There is no such things as advocacy journalism: you either report on facts, or are manipulating information to further an agenda. You cannot do both at the same time. As soon as you pick a side, you are no longer a chronicler, but a persuader.

You either tell or sell, not both.

Journalism wants the perks of being seen as a tell medium, but does nothing but sell.

Give the facts, then leave. Let people make up their own minds how to use that information.

Sell is temporary. Tell is timeless.

Journalism, had it focussed on how to better tell, would have still been viable, but it veered into sell, and then went past its sell by date.

The alternative remembers that it is all about the tell, and not the sell…

Starting over in a Post-Journalism World, Part Nineteen.

Journalism’s collapse is a self-created one.

We have debates on whetheratonement essays” are being unfairly targeted, let alone that people who are predators are not owed wiggle room to be absolved from their untrustworthy behaviour — nor are they actually owed a lofty career. That is a privilege, not a right.

But the timing of these pieces all came at once. Predators are predictable in their behaviours, and they are always jockeying to get back because they think that they are entitled to that career, with a disturbing and significant percentage working in communications and journalism.

But the kicker is that there is never any “atoning” done, just making excuses, and wallowing.

Fire the predators, but with a subtle promise to give them a chance to lay low, and a year later, get to use these outlets to re-invent your image, but the public is having none of it, even if they are not reading or watching you in the first place.

The element of denial and willful blindness in the profession is still doggedly there.

Perhaps a billionaire or two will buy up an outlet as a vanity project, throw money at it, and then maybe everything will be good again.

Except the audiences are not coming back, the products haven’t changed, and the fact that the Establishment robber barons are buying their tax write offs haven’t done a thing for journalism.

No redemption and no saviours. Just the same delusions that kept journalism from genuinely reinventing itself.

The same hopeful thinking can’t be the baggage brought into an alternative. If you want to chronicle reality to see the truth in your profession, you have to start with yourself first…

Ian Buruma, don't hit yourself on the way out...

Ian Buruma, the former editor of the New York Review of Books who thought it was a good idea to give a platform to Jian Ghomeshi has been shown the door.

No word if the editor of Harper’s may suffer the same fate for their own ridiculous platform to John Hockenberry, but given the ownership of it, that isn’t actually happening.

Interestingly enough, the Ghomeshi affair is a Canadian one, yet while it was an US publication that gave him a platform to wallow, it was US outrage that pushed back. Canada, a place that cannot ever be described as woke — let alone conscious — have columnists who don’t know what the fuss is about

Starting over in a Post-Journalism World, Part Eighteen.

If progressive thought has made a colossal blunder in its calculations, it is to focus on differentiating itself from the Right strictly in terms of content of thought and utterly ignoring the structure of thought, making the content always be hypocritical because progressive content with a binary, patriarchal, and autocratic structure is merely form of deception. People may have used religion to moral and manipulate others thirty years ago, but when it was exposed as a sham, they jumped shipped, swam to the Left, and now pay the same game, but merely changed what they preach…but still preach.

But when your focus is strictly on content, but not structure, odd things start to happen. You become contrarian and increasingly extreme in some bid to differentiate yourself from an opposing ideology. A little is good, but an overdose is divine. The natural feel of knowing that your place isn’t the default “opposite”, but somewhere unexplored becomes lost. We can no longer navigate away from the old ideologies. We merely go full circle from the opposite direction.

But if the Progressive brand of prepackaged thought has provided no change in structure, we can see what happens:

  1. Progressive is not defined on its own merits, but must be compared to its enemy. It sees the world as Us versus Them; or worse, expecting a They to come in and do all the work to make the changes. However, there is no Them, only Us. And it is Us, not They. Hypothetical divides are illusionary. It is one thing to break away and show why it was necessary, but sooner or later, you must be measured on your own merits. That the Left and Right always trigger one another to pick fights and then create a pecking order where they are rigged to come out victorious should be no surprise.

  2. In order to recruit and convert as many people into the ideology, there is an overemphasis on rights with no balance of responsibilities. We sell our ideas as having a good time with no strings attached, attracting those who do not wish to look inward or take any blame or responsibility for their own failures. Yet, there are no rights unless there are responsibilities. Even governments are made of people; thus it is an all-encompassing bargain: both have rights, and both have responsibilities, but when it is mention of one, while downplaying the other, you can expect not to get as many rights as the seller reaps perks and power.

Journalism never actually did much to explore structures of thought, nor truly challenge our lack of intellectual and emotional progress. These days, they blame one or two people for everything, and offer nothing substantial themselves.

The National Post had a peculiar column about that Ontario premier that won a majority without Toronto. It is a typical column of this day and age where everyone blames and decrees without much foresight or introspection:

Consider: a man with a shady past and disgraceful record is able to seize control of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario without the support of even a plurality of its members, still less of the caucus he then presumes to lead (and whose careers he now controls). He wins a “majority” in the ensuing provincial election with 40 per cent of the vote, by means of which he proceeds to personally and unilaterally rewrite the election laws for an entirely different level of government — for besides subordinating party to leader and legislature to executive, we have also contrived to make municipal governments creatures of the province.

At no time has he mentioned any of this, in either the leadership race in which he finished second or the election campaign in which 60 per cent of the vote went to other parties.

He has no mandate from anyone, least of all the citizens affected. Yet because our system vests such extraordinary power in the office of one man, he can impose his will on cabinet, caucus, legislature, city and province, more or less by fiat.

Even the courts, the last line of defence against arbitrary rule, cannot stop him. For while we have passed a Charter of Rights, proclaiming our supposed belief in limited government, we have embedded within it a clause that allows governments to overrule those same limits. He invokes it, again imposing his will on cabinet, caucus etc, validating by fiat what he had earlier decreed by fiat.

And he does all this in the name of “democracy.”

The same can be said about the entire profession of journalism.

They do everything in the name of this “democracy.” They have no empirical training. They were not elected nor licensed. They do not speak or represent the majority. It is all based on fiat and shoddy and dubious methods of gathering and verifying information. They conduct no studies. They do not tell their audiences who their sources are, that they liberally depend on PR and publicists for information, nor do they often disclose their own conflicts of interests.

They have no mandate and represent no one, and yet claim to inform the public for benevolent purposes.

They present ideology as fact; spew propaganda, rile up a public who are both misinformed and ill-informed, and otherwise pollute the information pool — also, all in the name of “democracy.”

Hypocrisy.

This is a profession without any standards or regulating bodies. These are people not taught in any basic psychological methodology, from statement analysis to experimental design.

It flounders and cannot even decide how to fund itself.

Yet it claims to speak for a majority — even as their numbers tank and their outlets shut down.

The alternative is one that is aware of these double standards and ludicrous games, but while the starting point is to breakaway from journalistic lunacy, it is not to keep comparing itself to an antiquated model of information verification.

That journalism became a sham should surprise no one.

But that we have never thought to replace it with a superior model is still shocking because it means as a people, we are now not even concerning ourselves with content, let alone structure.

It is an intellectual decay, but it does not last forever: a pendulum swings one way before reality compels it to move in the opposite direction.

And F.R.E.E.D. is the system that keeps a pendulum at rest as it begins to build all around it to stabilize both the structure and the content to see the world from every direction…

The Assassin: The heavens will be shaken

Preface: The Assassin who went rogue to ensnare a Disgraced.

The Mutus once saved my life many years ago, and the agent who saved me was Assassin Hroda Fenstermacher, a German hitman who never listened to advice or followed rules, but that one day he listened to one Detective who could not come to my rescue in time, and he went in to check on me in the nick of time, although he called me a voos for my troubles. I had no idea back then that I was under the Mutus’ watch, or that I would eventually join their ranks.

But the greatest surprise was that Hroda and I would become allies once I made a fateful decision to become an Assassin.

I never thought I was the type, but somehow, Hroda’s ways made sense to me.

Yet we could not be more different. He is a white, blonde, blue-eyed German who terrorizes his neighborhood in Offenbach who all know what he does for a living. I am an African-American newspaper crime reporter living in Washington, DC, and my neighbours like me, and have no idea of my double-life.

Hroda and I socialize off hours, and we are both part of an Assassin’s club, but there was one case we all did off the books in the 1990s that would come to haunt us: one of the Assassin’s in our club was an Aussie named Rolland “Roho” Holloman who betrayed the Mutus as well as our group, and disappeared. He outfoxed himself and was killed by Assassin Bingham who did not know the extent of Disgraced Holloman’s treachery.

But what the Mutus did not tell us was that there was a black ops arm of the organization and they placed the duplicitous Roho in charge of it. We discovered many other dark secrets about him, but thought the matter was laid to rest.

But then came September 11, 2001 when Assassin Boadicea Hollingberry was dispatched to assassinate a Dreadful in the Twin Towers in New York City before a slated terrorist attack to ensure he and his secrets never saw the light of day.

But he had an accomplice who survived and was one of our own.

Disgraced Jessica Malloy was once a Messenger in the Mutus whose parents were well-regarded members in the Australian parcel of the group. She willfully used the Dreadful, but was apprehended alive and the Mutus dealt with her, but would not say how, save tell her parents their daughter died in the tragedy, meaning she would not be sent to the Arcana, the place where wayward agents were taken to be punished and executed.

The problem was Roho had intelligence on the entire Assassin’s club, and if Disgraced Malloy was his devout agent; it would mean she was continuing Roho’s work, and deliberately wanted to be caught to be sent to the secret and unconfirmed other arm: the black ops where certain Mutus renegades were forced to conduct dangerous and degrading long term assignments as their penance.

Roho had deliberately gone into the arm, took over, and had access to nuclear power he had planned to use to blackmail the Mutus into submission.

And now Disgraced Malloy was tunnelling the same path.

But unlike Roho, the Assassin’s club was prepared, and I had monitored her from afar.

The Mutus has not been aware that I was keeping a quiet watch on her, and knew what they had decided she were to do.

In the regular arm of the Mutus, we are guided by our goddess Una et Dilectos.

The One and Our Beloved.

But in the black ops, they are forced to be guided by the Seven.

Those seven schizophrenic brothers who were saved by Una et Dilectos, but had failed to save her life, and did their penance by any dark means possible.

In Disgraced Malloy’s case, she was forced to work as an escort in the Hollywood Underground to gather dirt on all the wealthy and powerful male patrons.

I discovered it by hacking into various servers until I hit pay dirt of her whereabouts.

It was her plan all along to be sent there, but why had been a mystery for the last few years.

Until today.

Today I stumbled upon something crucial. One of the secret regular patrons of the Underground was Piers Adderley, the US Deputy Secretary of Defense. He was also a high-ranking member of the international Illuminati group La Nuit du bas, who also held the Underground.

The Underground was the secret place where the film and entertainment industry’s real deals were hammered out. Secret loans for desperate directors were negotiated here. Actresses who were disgraced sold themselves to powerful billionaires to resurrect their in-limbo careers. Television executives in a slump had to part with their prized secrets and talent in order to find a lifeline.

But that one of the Beltway was coming here for secret rendezvouses was out of place. The Underground’s overlord Kenny Kopp usually kept politics out of his netherworld.

But the Disgraced Malloy knew something. The Mutus must have known part of the equation to ship her there without her parents’ knowledge as they were told she was killed in the terrorist attack.

But the Disgraced knew one piece more than the Mutus and deliberately set herself up to be brought to their horrific hedonistic torture chamber.

Adderley was a loftily educated Ivy Leaguer who had been a mechanical engineering researcher whose work was used by the military.

But his younger brother Ivo was an A-list actor.

And he also a frequent member of the Underground who liked to indulge in his various twisted fantasies in private where no one would know his clean-cut image was a sham.

Ivo was the debauched pervert who his brilliant older brother used as a ticket to get into the Underground.

And my best guess was not to partake in vile romps, but to make specific contact with the Disgraced.

As the Disgraced reviled the Mutus, she would do nothing on their behest.

It also meant that the elder Adderley sibling knew about the Mutus, and the Assassin’s club.

There was a plot brewing, and now was the time to ensure neither the Disgraced nor her contact had a chance to see their plot come to fruition.

This isn’t a sanctioned Assignment, but I am not taking any chances.

With Una et Dilectos guiding me, I am going to put an end to the games of the Disgraced as I know the extent of her rage and cunning.

Even if I risk being thrown into the firepits of the Seven myself.

Part One: The Assassin makes his plans without Control and without Scouts.

The Mutus was an organization that has been in existence for centuries and is global in its reach with technology a century ahead of the rest of the world and has unparalleled surveillance.

Yet there are boundaries within the Mutus. We are not chipped. We do not use drones to draw attention to our field operatives. There is also an agreement when an agent is on a Furlough, surveillance is lessened, and it was the reason the Assassin’s club always met during our down time.

But still, we did not socialize at our homes, save once in a while at the Doyenne Assassin’s basement in Ravenglass when we wished for absolute privacy. But today, I was meeting with a single operative, Assassin Fenstermacher. I flew to Offenbach, Germany as Hroda rarely left his home when not on Assignment. He was usually smoking and drinking beer while re-reading the science fiction novels of Hammond Hughes, usually in the buff in his backyard. Although he was smoking and drinking as he was reading, at least he had the rare courtesy of wearing boxers and a t-shirt when I came to see him, and told him of my intentions in his living room.

“You are certain now is the time to strike?” he asked me.

“I don’t have much time.”

“The Mutus doesn’t suspect?”

“I told them I had intel about a potential Dreadful you might be interested in whacking.” I pointed to the briefcase. “It’s legit, and the Messengers were relieved I volunteered to give it to you instead of them, and so was Control.”

Hroda raised his eyebrow, then snatched the briefcase and opened it, reading it carefully as he chortled and beamed. “Ah, you did not tell me you would bring me a present, Shawn. This looks like a quick and gloriously messy affair that I can do in less than a day. So, what is your plan while I castrate this worthless Dreadful?”

I threw him another file. “That’s my plan and the specifics, which I trust you will burn in that fireplace of yours immediately after reading it.”

“Of course.”

“The Disgraced Malloy is in cahoots with Pier Adderley who is in the US government. This is serious business. I have to dispatch of them, and possibly his actor brother Ivo.”

Assassin Fenstermacher grunted. “You can dispatch the Disgraced, but if you were also to go after Adderley, the Mutus would know and punish you. I will see to it that swine is made to suffer a thousand horrible deaths, clearing the way for you to dispatch the Disgraced without arousing suspicion right after I have my fun with this pathetic Dreadful. Una et Dilectos has shown me the way.”

Before I could say another word, the Assassin got up and left his living room, without a trace or a sound as I immediately left to get back home to get everything started.

Part Two: The Assassin sets the stage from behind his curtain.

An unsanctioned Assignment was a dangerous game within the Mutus, and it was the reason I had to move quickly and without hesitation. Usually, I would have Scouts at my disposal and Control feeding me intel and providing me with whatever tools, technology, or information I required. None of that was available. I could not stalk my targets or question anyone. A single out of the ordinary move, and the Mutus would immediately put a stop to my plans as I was supposed to believe there was no longer a black ops version within the Silent.

That meant that I could account for every movement I made. I hacked into Germany’s military files after hacking into the European Union’s servers right after I hack into Interpol’s servers. I had to establish a natural flow of provenance as to why I would fly to Germany to see Assassin Fenstermacher. Nor was this the first time I used a dominoes strategy to have legitimate reasons to see other agents. It was my other job with the Mutus as I was one without peer. I had been playing the game since the day we realized that Disgraced Malloy was going to become a threat to us and the rest of the Silent.

Establishing a pattern early lulled even the most omnipresent and omniscient of organizations. They saw the rote of your behaviour, and assumed you were predictable and a beholden to your routines, never thinking that you saw the future and began long before it became the present.

I had wished my family had been given such a gift. We were an impoverished, but close-knit African American family who bought a single lottery ticket and won a multi-million-dollar jackpot. My parents had been careful and determined to use the money wisely as they ensured we would never become corrupted by an instant windfall. They had anticipated almost everything except the safety of their four sons.

Two of my brothers were kidnapped and held for ransom, but were shortly killed after they tried to escape their captors. My family was never the same, and my surviving brother and I lost our devastated parents, and were sent to live with relatives who quickly squandered the last penny of the blessing that became our curse.

When I was saved by the Mutus years later, I was working at a gas station during the graveyard shift to try to get an education and my life back in order, but was nearly killed for my trouble. Again, the family curse of being partially-prepared had nearly taken me down, and when I joined the Mutus in gratitude, I ensured I would finally break that curse.

It was the reason I excelled at hacking and mastering technology. The more the walls turned into grains of sands that fell, the more of the world I could see.

And I had already seen my destination. I returned to my job in Washington, DC, and was working on a genuine story that would soon enough bring me to where I needed to go.

While one of my targets lived in the Beltway, I would not make any move toward him here. His path would not cross mine, and as long as I had control, the Mutus and the Disgraced would be none the wiser.

As I sat at my desk, my cell phone rang. I looked at the phone number and sighed in relief. It was my mob source to call me with a tip that I already knew as I quietly prompted my proxy to nudge my unwitting source into leaking information I needed in order to make my next move with no hint or traced of the Disgraced for the Mutus to sense and then follow.

Part Three: The Assassin moves on his own chess board.

My flight to Hollywood was a mundane affair. There were no Scouts on the plane, meaning no one in the Mutus had been the wiser. I used my regular commercial flight, cleared my assignment with my editor, and had done nothing to orchestrate the murder of a young starlet who vanished. She was a native to Washington, DC, and was trying to make her way in Tinsel town. It was no different than any of the other murders I covered. My only concerned was that the Mutus would intervene by means of giving me one of their own sanctioned Assignments that would ruin my plans.

The Disgraced, however, had been even more cunning in her plans with the Mutus. She had been very young when Disgraced Roho indoctrinated her and used her to further his own plans. She formulated her own complicated scheme of working as a Mutus Messenger, and then beguiling a man into using the cover of the Nine-Eleven attacks to commit a heinous crime of their own – all knowing full well the Mutus would send their top Assassin to stop the plot without the Mutus realizing Malloy was in on the plot, but knowing the Doyenne would figure it out and nab her.

She knew about the black ops arm of the Mutus and banked on them throwing her into a horrific assignment for them, but somehow nudging them to place her in the Hollywood Underground in order to set up regular meets with her target for a far larger game. She knew how to manipulate the Underground’s sadistic overlord. She had already set up contact with the high-powered federal official and his famous brother.

The Mutus were wily, but the Disgraced outclassed them all by herself. It was almost a shame to dispatch of her, yet her plans would be more terrifying than Roho’s. She had to be cut off at the pass, and I had a day at the most.

It was the reason I gave Assassin Fenstermacher that Assignment. It would bring him just close enough to me in order to finish the job as there would be an additional Dreadful he would have to dispatch in order to complete his Assignment – and one not mentioned in the Briefcase as it would not be obvious to most.

But it was to me, and I knew would soon be obvious to the other Assassin who I knew as well I knew my own thoughts.

Time was running out, and yet I could still manage to control this fragile and complicated game.

Part Four: The Assassin sets the trap.

Interviewing my source and finding leads was not difficult in Hollywood – a place that lived and died by gossip, and I had used several unsavoury sources, including reviled and powerful gossip columnist, Ms Spencer Greenlee who knew many dark secrets and expected more dirt from me in exchange for it. She smoked cigars, and cackled to reveal the extent of her vicious nature, but gave me enough information for me to write about in my next article, though she lamented about losing “her dibs” on a secret detective who also used the cover of journalist to keep the world from knowing her own dangerous, if benevolent plans. The cryptic comments were meant to provoke me into asking about her, but I expressed my rush as my deadline for filing my story was approaching, and perhaps another time we could discuss it.

I was in my motel room filing my story when my phone rang.

I answered it. “Hroda?”

“I have Adderley here at our agreed upon safehouse, but it is an ironic term as he is not safe here in the least…”

“I am coming to interrogate him right now,” I said as I hung up and walked outside to my rental car to get there.

Part Five: The Assassins put the clues together.

I arrived at the safehouse where Assassin Fenstermacher was sitting in the living room, smoking a cigarette.

I made a face. “You always smell up a room with that smoke.”

“I always enjoy smoking, although its odor unnerves those who are being put in their place by a righteous Assassin. However, I am contemplating what other stenches strike more fear in those vile beasts, and may employ other psychological torments to add to their terror.”

“You said you had nabbed Adderley.”

“Yes, it was a simple affair as my devotion and passion for The One and Our Beloved brings me the cunning to capture such dung-hearted beasts.”

“Where is he? I need to speak with him now.”

“He is marinating in his own filth.”

“What? I told you I wanted to interrogate him.”

“I am not a babysitter, Shawn. I do not have any dollies for the Dreadful to play with.”

“This is serious.”

“As am I.”

“Hroda, what did you do to Adderley?”

Assassin Fenstermacher dragged on his cigarette as his eyes darted to a door on the left. “Open it only if you will not behave like a voos.

I shook my head, dreading to see the state of the body of the man. I ran to the door and opened it, seeing a mangled, bloodied and castrated Ivo Adderley still breathing with duct tape on his mouth.

“That’s the wrong Adderley!”

“No, that is one half of the Adderley filth. This one was in it just as deep as his older brother who I executed an hour ago.”

“Where he is?”

“In his bed in his house where his stupid wife found him and assumed he died of a heart attack.”

“But you usually…”

“As I could not dispatch of both, I told Assassin Ho to deal with that vile swine who was about to blackmail the lot of us to be his personal army to settle political scores with us as his little voosy maids.”

“He told you this?”

“No, this one sang to me, and knew as much as his brother, but as I could not slaughter a public official in such a dramatic manner, I chose baby brother instead. After he bleeds his last, he will be placed on a plane to Washington to explode, and everyone will think the two were dealt with by an enraged La Nuit renegade. La Nuit will send one of their in-house detectives to solve it, and I have already framed the appropriate voos for it; so, no one will be the wiser. Now, you are clear to dispatch die liederliche Schlampe before the Mutus becomes wise to our work. She is expecting this little boy to come to set up the next meeting.”

I nodded as I left Assassin Fenstermacher to finish off the job. As I closed the door, I heard him barking obscenities to the dying man as I left for the Hollywood Underground.

Part Six: The Assassin dispatches a devastated Disgraced.

I had little time to finish this business as I did not want to rouse Mutus suspicions. As far as everyone was concerned; I was here in my capacity of crime reporter working on a mob hit with connections to the Beltway. I had no Scouts to tail me, and now it was time to use my own technology to bypass both the Hollywood Underground’s surveillance – as well as the Mutus. I could create my own versions of Mutus’ superior technology, all while modifying it not to send feedback to headquarters. I rarely used it, and it was the reason I could use it without setting off alarm bells.

My tracking device found me my target as she was in the northwest corner of the Underground. I quickly used my jammers to disrupt surveillance and went inside as my electronic key opened any door, and I went inside.

I placed my sensor glasses on and walked as I could see through walls. Some Assassins never bothered with equipment, and yet it always served my purposes well. Nothing was ever a surprise to me. I knew where bombs and booby traps were hidden, the combination of safes, who was hiding in safe rooms and priest’s holes, and the passwords that gained entry to secret tunnels and computers. I could disintegrate weapons and people with ease as well as anticipate an opponent’s next move by the muscular and ocular movements.

I could create holograms and transform my voice to mimic others. There was never any need to worry of being made. Often, during sanctioned assignments, Control would add in flourishes or take over more than one of my devices to aid me in my Assignment. This time, I would keep it simple and rely on my own wits.

I reached the prearranged assignation room and unlocked the door as I went inside and silently went to the corner where I would not be easily seen behind an armoire. It was a bedroom for clients to abuse the escorts and the vile photographs on the walls were a trophy room of where Hollywood’s once most promising starlets had to toil for a less stellar comeback.

I waited in silence for several minutes until the door opened and a familiar Australian accent broke the silence, “Ivo? Stop playing games, you figjam; I haven’t got all day and Kopp wants his filthy hands on me in an hour.”

I turned on the device that made my voice mimic Ivo’s as I used my hologram to make the decoy seem as if he were hiding behind a wall with his shadow on the floor on the opposite side of where I was standing. “I keeping low, Jessie. There’s trouble. My dealer’s in here, and I owe him.”

“I don’t like talking to shadows.”

“Neither do I. Why didn’t you tell me Thilo was here tonight?”

“That ocker? I told ya; there’s nothing to be worried about. One more night, and we’re in the clear. I kill Kopp; we get the money, and the files, and we…we…”

I emerged from the shadows, and before the Disgraced could make a move, I used my device to paralyze her with a single zap and watched as she crumpled to the ground.

She breathed heavily as I walked over. “Jessie, what I am about to do isn’t sanctioned by the Mutus, but the Assassin’s club know. The Adderley Brothers have been dispatched, and now you’re the last loose end. Any last words before you get sent to the Place Below Hell?”

She glowered at me for only a moment before she looked defeated and began to cry as she spoke with difficulty. “All this torture for nothing. How did you know?”

“I have been keeping tabs on you since the Doyenne Assassin told us about your duplicity.”

“They didn’t wipe her memory clean of me?”

“No.”

“And she blabbed to her besties? Is that it?”

“Yes.”

“They always wipe the apprehending agent’s memories clean when they send a Disgraced to the place where they all speak Latin. Roho told me that. I am not telling you another word. Kopp has tortured me worse than you could ever think of and I didn’t break; so just get it over with. I’m just grateful it’s you, and not Hroda or Nelly. All this abuse and torture and degradation for nothing…I love you, Roho! I’m so sorry I failed you…” she began to convulse as I sighed, and flicked another switch that send a fatal charge to her heart, ensuring no one would know she was murdered. I then crouched down to see if there was anything on the body or in her clothing to reveal a clue: from a key to a chip. There was nothing.

Just as I turned her over, I saw a red tattoo on her shoulder left blade.

It was the word “Summa” written in cursive.

I left the building in the darkness and made my way to the helicopter waiting for me.

Epilogue: The Assassin realizes the story has ended abruptly with more questions than answers.

The Assassin’s club were sitting in the Doyenne Assassin’s secret room in her Ravenglass home as we did whenever we wanted to ensure no one outside our circle, particularly our superiors could hear what we were saying. Assassins Hroda Fenstermacher, Kimmy Ho, Nelly Baker, and Harvey Honeyborne were in attendance as well Spy Joseph Weavers and Spy Mungo Dunbar. Harvey and Nelly’s adopted daughter Detective Tulip Honeyborne and Kimmy’s mother Detective Ming Ho were both on Assignments, and could not attend.

“The trollop has been dispatched,” sighed the Doyenne as she leaned back in her chair, “And all her shagging repulsive men was for naught.”

Assassin Baker smiled. “Una et Dilectos showed you the way, Shawn, and she kicked that dung-hearted little tart straight to the Place Below Hell.”

Assassin Fenstermacher dragged on a cigarette, grunted, downed his beer before nodding in approval. “And she is being greeted by Roho as they feel the eternal lashes of Una et Dilectos’ rage for betraying her. However, it is only a small victory as we know nothing more about the secret arm of the Mutus.”

“Not quite,” I whispered, “We have confirmed of its existence. We now know that in the event an Assassin, Spy, or Detective capture a Disgraced, they usually wipe their memories clean; so, for all we know, we may have been in that position ourselves.”

Nelly looked grim. “One of us may have captured Roho the first or second time, and have no clue.”

“They didn’t wipe my memory of taking down the Disgraced Malloy, but the Mentor did say something to the effect they could have if they wanted to do so, but wouldn’t to their senior-most Assassin.”
“They didn’t think you’d divulge it, or could risk it, given it happened on Nine-Eleven. And I know one other thing.”

“Yes?” asked Assassin Honeyborne.

“They speak Latin.”

Assassin Ho frowned. “That isn’t much to go on.”

The Doyenne shook her head. “Perhaps, but knowing even that much may get one or more of us out of a scrape later on.”

Spy Dunbar downed his whiskey and looked intensely at the group. “You said she had a tattoo of the word ‘summa’?”

“Yes, it’s Latin for greatest.”

“That has to be a clue to something significant,” said Spy Weavers. “The use of a superlative in Latin. You may have executed the lass, but I doubt this game is over, Shawn. Roho may have other sleeper agents. Or the Disgraced has her own. She knew where he was all that time he had vanished. How did that get past the Mutus – or perhaps they knew all along.”

The Doyenne looked at everyone with unusual seriousness. “How far does it go? Where does it end? How deep is this thing?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know. We stopped Roho, and we thought it was over. I stopped Malloy, and I can’t help thinking this is only the beginning. I am shaken by the whole thing. Roho tried to create an army and get nukes. Malloy was in deep with nine-eleven. If this isn’t the Mutus, they are going to be shaken by what is coming.”

Mungo looked grim. “And yet you can never tell them a thing about it, or they’ll throw you into a black hole.”

Hroda become alert. “Beloved Heloise Steele met with that same fate many years ago. An earthquake struck, the ground shook open, and she fell into the crevice as it closed. I do believe the Mutus has secret ways of ridding themselves of inconvenient Beloved and agents. Do not tell a soul, Shawn. Our only advantage is we know things that they do not.”

“But we don’t know what any of it means.”

“We know wisps,” Hroda said intensely, “And sometimes victory comes from having the one wisp your opponent does not, and as of now, the Mutus is our opponent.”

We all sat in silence almost frozen. For whatever reasons, the Assassin’s club had been a target to rogue forces, not once, but twice. Both times, we were forced to go rogue ourselves to stop the problem.

But the last time, we divulged all to the Mentor.

This time, our silence within the Silent would serve as a shield until we could make sense of this maddening maze as we all groped in the dark and prayed that Una et Dilectos would show us the way, even if those at the top were playing a more sinister game. Even the best plans that are executed flawlessly never can prepare for everything that can unfold. Though I had outwitted a brilliant Disgraced and dodged the Mutus, nothing was resolved as I thought wistfully of my lost family and wondered if they could have ever been saved and I could have been spared the pain of the Seven that drove me into the infinite arms of the Mutus.

Bad logic taints a Washington Post story...yet again.

The Washington Post’s delirium continues with an article about how there is a spike in admissions to j-school, which is absolutely meaningless because there is no corresponding surge in jobs or outlets.

The pay stinks, but the student debt will be high. The job security is nonexistent, but that is not the core of the problem.

There was also a surge in students applying to j-schools after the Watergate-based movie All the President’s Men.

Those kinds of students were the wrong kind of students — the ones who got taken in by Hollywood and the glam-factor. It was the film that set the profession horribly wrong, as I have stated here before.

This breed is no better. They are not innovators. They are not the ones who can save a dead profession. You can also major in Latin and Philosophy, but that isn’t going to get you gainfully employed.

You are now attracting ideologues and propagandists-in-training who react and want to make decrees from a standpoint of hate and irrationality, and not reason and facts.

Watergate the movie planted the corrupt seed in the profession, and it should always been a documentary. It would not have been glamorous, but if you are in journalism for the glamor, you have no business being in journalism.

And if you are in a profession to tell the little people how to think and what to do, you are needed in that profession even less.

It is not a rejuvenation. It wasn’t when you had people make long-term serious life decisions based on a fictionalized movie and not based on months of research and soul-searching.

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You cannot do the same thing and expect a different outcome, but if you do something worse and expect something better, your logic is nonexistent and don’t expect the world to tune in to your hatred when they prefer the stench of their own on their Facebook feeds…

I thought New York City was supposed to be liberal something...

But in a span of a couple of a days, The New York Review of Books gives Jian Ghomeshi a dubious platform to feel sorry for himself as if anyone was clamouring to hear from him, and now Vulture (aka New York magazine) send a Woody Allen fangirl to write a hatchet piece of his ex-wife through his proxy.

Again, I am not linking either article because if you want to know, you can stick it in your own search engine and find it yourself, and most likely have read both pieces already.

But I find the timing of both very fascinating. Both Gotham-based rags, but for a so-called “progressive” and “liberal” town, there is a lot of rampant sexism going on there. Harvey Weinstein comes to mind. CBS ousted a couple of their very high-ranking tyrants to female workers. Matt Lauer was another.

And that culture is still firmly entrenched there with the publication of two sympathetic articles in two separate publications on men who did very bad things to women.

It is becoming increasingly jarring to see it. It is as if not everyone over there has gotten the memo that this kind of boorishness is not something that you can spin — that you leave for Toronto’s National Post, a rag that lives in its own warped little reactionary universe…

The Radical Reactionaries: Everyone wants change, until it actually happens.

Doug Ford is slashing Toronto city hall. He is not the first Ontario premier to do this, and finally, Canadian journalists have had their brain cells stimulated to January 2000 when “Amalgamation” happened to several cities, including Toronto and Hamilton when the Tory regime at that time annexed towns and merged them with larger cities.

I remember it well as I was living in Dundas at the time, and was working for Presstime magazine. The fury that Dundas would have to merge with those Hamilton ruffians was something fierce. Hamilton’s so called “mayor-for-life” Bob Morrow, was an accidental casualty: people from the annexed towns expressed their displeasure by voting Morrow out and voting in Bob Wade, who had been the mayor of Ancaster before then.

There were 78 councillors in Hamilton and the other five small towns before it, and it was reduced to 16 afterwards, for example. You can imagine how many more council positions we would have seen if every was kept status quo.

The resentments are still felt to this day that people want to go back to an old antiquated system, even though others don’t see what the fuss is about.

I was at a journalism conference in Toronto hosted by the NAA, which published Presstime and there were many US reporters, editors, publishers, owners, and lawyers there. They would strike up a conversation with me, asking me about the place I called home, and what were the issues and controversies happening here.

I mentioned Amalgamation and what anger it caused, to which I got nothing but blank stares from the Americans.

“But annexation is how cities grow!” one editor said to me, wondering why on earth was this a thing in the first place.

I had thought the same as well. A city is like a garden: sometimes you let things blossom, and sometimes you have to get rid of the weeds and trim and cut. You do not let things get out of control, nor do you cut to the bare bones, either. It is a balance.

But once again, we have the Radical Reactionaries screaming bloody murder over the trimming. They want change, but then get out of their minds when someone changes anything. They fancy themselves as radical, enlighten, innovative, and progressive until the second someone has an idea that alters the landscape, and then they howl like reactionaries.

What they actually want is for no one to ever say no to their demands and to keep on getting things without having to earn them. They more than just want their cake and eat it, too: they want someone else to bake the cake and pay for all the ingredients and deliver it to them free of charge — and it be a bottomless pit service that is on demand for a high maintenance person with very specific demands that keep changing all the time.

How this all get coordinated and done and how this impacts everyone else is immaterial. What matters is getting a never-ending feast of goodies with no concern about who gets burned out, broke, or starved.

And when someone comes in, sees the lunacy of such a set up, and puts a kibosh to the extravagance, the one who benefitted from this skewed fantasy plays the victim complete with melodramatic temper tantrums to drown out the reason and to deflect attention away from the selfish set up in the first place.

We have lost all political and philosophical sensibility; everything is a drama and a temper tantrum of the most impossible sort. People predict nuclear doom and gloom with every single change, and yet keep marketing themselves as some sort of radical and progressive brands and entities.

It would be wiser to reinvent yourself as a rational and sensible realist who understands that sometimes we don’t always get our own way and we can’t always expect this nonexistent group called They to nanny and serve us. Money burns faster than fire but saving it is like building a castle with grains of sand. It is true we have let the super-rich hoard money and take more than they earned. That can be remedied, and not by the hoarders to pretend to be generous with so-called tax write-off “philanthropy” where they get to make demands where the money goes and how it is used.

But at the same time, we cannot governments to nanny us and be our sugar-daddies, either. Neither model is healthy or acceptable and always causes long-term grievances that never get resolved.

They do get resolved with balance, however, but that requires risk and a willingness to change and to embrace a different lanscape, and radical reactionaries always recoil at the thought of change, even when they demand it of others…

The Coordinated Attempted Comebacks of the #MeToo Men: When they all crawl out of their holes at the same time, it is a campaign afoot.

It is very interesting that many of the men who have been #MeToo are all starting to emerge and spin their own narratives or use proxies.

I will not give links, but you, too, I am certain, know how to use a search engine, but we have had Stephen Galloway’s little brigade of morally devoid groupies at the National Post cry for him as if he were a little boy and not a grown man, Louis C.K. came on a stage to do a routine as if there were a shortage of comedians out there, Jian Ghomeshi getting a platform to feel sorry for himself (though my thoughts can be found here), Harper’s gave it to John Hockenberry, and even Woody Allen’s wife defend him, although as hard as she tries to spin it, it is a textbook by-the-numbers guide of young girls get lured, primed, and groomed, and, in fact, bolstering Dylan Farrow’s accusations in the process.

The timing is very interesting. The recruiting of the usual pawns and cheerleaders is very predictable. I am sure there is a lot of consultation with crisis management specialists and many in journalism are more than willing to give these predators a platform so that this whole #MeToo nonsense would just go away and abusing females on the jobs can be seen as glorious and acceptable again.

But it is not doing it usual magic trick. While the cronies of #MeToo are doing all they can to make White Male Privilege Great Again, it is not convincing an educated populace. The genie is out of the bottle, and the world has moved on.

What it is doing, on the other hand, is identifying those enablers and shows those who were harmed and/or do no wish to be harmed, what the battlefield now looks like and where else to scrutinize. What was once a handy crisis management trick is exposing the places that need to be investigated a little more closely.

It also shows the extent of how self-entitled and unapologetic these predators truly are: their me-centred whining on lofty platforms shows they see nothing wrong with what they did and that believe they are owed a public career.

No, they aren’t. Fame is a reward based on public goodwill. Once that goodwill has been shown to be exploited and abused, you no longer deserve the fame you crave.

Fame is a privilege. Not a right.

And this is 2018, a time where people are not in a mood to give free passes for bad behaviour or to fall for predictable ruses…

Starting over in a Post-Journalism World, Part Seventeen.

When the Canadian regime decided to legalize cannabis, journalists were all giddy in their narratives about it. None actually asked tough questions in the beginning.

We have many high-profile politicians and former politicians who have invested in such companies.

And that is a conflict of interest, but no one really cared about it until the US let the Canadians know those involved are still seen as drug traffickers and can be banned for life from coming to the US.

Now the panic is starting to set in, which it shouldn’t have if we had a press that asked the hard questions and did not treat the middle class people’s pacifier of choice as if it were some cool, edgy thing to consume. The myth of drugs as a recreational activity instead of it being realistically seen as a form of self-medication always skewed both the narrative and the perception.

But there is no critical thinking that has come. Everyone is assuming that legal cannabis will generate big money for Canada, and in the short term, it will.

When casinos were legalized in Canada, there was an initial boom in those cities that had it. People were employed and Americans came across the border to gamble.

And then the crowds were gone, and jobs were lost, especially after the Americans opened superior rival casinos and kept their people at home.

It did nothing to stop illegal gambling. The people at the casinos are all pensioner who come to gamble, listen to some legacy band, and eat at the buffet.

The young crowd do not bother with such middle class geekiness: they gamble illegally, and it did not curb the practice one bit. It is not as if casinos are not bringing the government any revenue; it’s just siphoning off disposable income that could have been spent elsewhere, helping small businesses. The initial rush is gone, and now it is merely a voluntary tax with no product to show for it. No factories to build it; no stores to sell it.

But illegal gambling is still alive and well here. It changed nothing. The young gamblers aren’t going to granny’s casino to blow the pension: they are underground because they are attracted to high stakes games that involve risk and the criminal element who can afford better lures because they have been doing it for decades, and they don’t card you, either. The government casinos are a boring G-rated version of it for the wild and crazy geezer.

And what has been the learning curve here? As usual, none. The plan is that plan must work because everyone is just dying to smoke pot.

People who smoke it are already smoking it. They have their loyalties to their dealers who don’t just sell pot, but hard drugs, weapons, girls, and anything else that’s illegal. They are the original pop-up stores, kids. The only people I actually see excited about this are seniors, who are already smoking the stuff, and some who are now sad because their medical condition prevents them doing it just as it is made legal.

The middle class – the ones who actually need it to cope with their loveless marriages, disappointing children, and dead-end non-rock star white collar job now feel the granny rush of going to the casino. They are middle-aged, past their prime, and have nice houses and good cars because they follow the rigged nonsensical rules they hate, and now can medicate their rage and bitterness without worrying if the cops are going to nab them and give them a stern lecture.

But the illegal trade isn’t going anywhere and will greatly benefit from this move.

Because the feds made no effort in handling this thing, it is a wild west, and as a rule, the only people who benefit when anything goes are criminals. They are uninhibited, and they are not going to let the little mom and pop shops from flourishing. They will terrorize and chase out the stores and take them over. They will wage war, taking one naïve middle-class person’s dive after another, and mark their territory, using the legal stuff as a front as they continue their illegal operations with a patina of protection.

And that is assuming, of course, that a foreign company doesn’t take over, and given Canadian’s disgusting history of being careless, this is the most probable outcome. Our Beer Stores are foreign-owned. So is our wheat board. And British Columbia’s casinos were co-opted, but those are not exceptions. Once foreign interests – particularly criminal foreign interests – swoop in, Canada will not see very much profit.

It could be an Albanian mob, a Chinese one, an Afghani one, or a Russian one.

Politicians have been so certain of their cash cow, that many have bought stakes in cannabis companies – but none of these politicians were ever actual businessmen.

And if the border states move in, that’s the end of that gravy train. Canada has been babbling about this for so long that plenty of other players already have a plan in place, and no our regime is helpless to stop it. If there is money to be made, it is not going to be in Canada. We are a country who has absolutely no history of original enterprise of industrialism, save for steel, which is no longer in Canadian hands, and Blackberry that saw its fortunes drop and get push aside by the US’s Apple and Japan’s Samsung. The factories are American (or British), the goods we buy are from China, and the innovations come from other countries. The people who make money these days are teachers, civil servants, and real estate agents, and even the latter group is seeing their returns diminish.

Pot is a drug, not a magical wand that can turn mediocre entrepreneurs into titans. It is not a knight in shining armour. The undisciplined laws that Maclean’s laments about are the least of the problems. It is not a moral question, nor a medical one. It is not Reefer Madness that is going to sink this country into an abyss. None of that actually matters.

The problem is when you place all your faith in a product, and nothing on the competency of the sellers, your luck only goes so far. Trust this country to make a mess of this and gloriously so, and probably lose money on the entire gamble. We will see lawsuits and plenty of them because now people can sue and have class actions against the sellers. Auto insurance rates will go up, as well as premiums for house insurance and life insurance because that’s what insurance companies do.  

But most importantly, the illegal market will thrive for one reason: their clientele – the ones who are coveted will be underage to buy it. The legal stores will have to ask for ID. The illegals ones have no such confines, and they will keep their clients because they will have first crack at them. Legal shops will be for the old fogeys who think bragging about eating gummy weed makes them look young and hip, not old and nerdy, except they are old and nerdy and no amount of weed is going to cover up their dweebiness.

I will not be surprised once those realities hit the legal stores in their wallets, and they begin to lobby hard for across the board decriminalization of all drugs and to lower the age of consumption.

They will make money from it, but not enough, and that will be a serious problem because they have already spent what they projected. It is why they are dragging their feet on NAFTA and insulting and sassing off to world leaders without regard to the consequences. They honestly think they have found the answer to life, but they should remember what happened to the Ontario Liberals who were permissive and were repaid by getting turfed by other parties. Do not expect a grateful electorate. Once pot is made legal, they’ll have no more use for the Liberals who have no second act.

It will be the casinos all over again. Our government is Seinfeldian in nature: never learning or having a moment of reflection as it indulges and lives in the selfish now.

Had journalists been real journalists, they would have immediately started thinking of every angle. It doesn’t have to be an illegal thing made legal. It could have been any business that brought something new to the social fabric, such as social media, or online retailers, such as Amazon.

But they never do. They don’t want to sound like killjoy nerds, even though they are. If a government has no plan, there is no control.

And what if other countries decided to ban Canadians for life? What if organized crime starts muscling in? We are already seeing brazen daylight mob and gang wars here, and yet no one questions why.

Those were the questions that should have been asked: demanding the government spell out their plans in detail was key. If you are going to do something, then you have to do it right.

An alternative would be looking into every facet to see the potentials benefits, risks, and dangers. False positivity hides troubles that destroy lives later on because no one thought such cataclysms could possibly exist.

But they do. There will be money made, but more money lost, and if cannabis doesn’t save Canada from itself, we have no Plan B to fall back on because the government and our press have no memory of the past or understanding of the future. They only live in the now and never think about tomorrow…

The Journalist Protection Act: A farce of a bill for a nonexistent profession. You needed to be licensed and regulated first.

You cannot just decree yourself a doctor or nurse. You cannot just decide to be a lawyer, an accountant, an electrician, an insurance agent, or an engineer. You can’t even decree yourself to be a real estate agent or a hair stylist.

Licensure is extremely important. Architects need them. Psychologists need them. So do private investigators and investment bankers as well as nutritionists and teachers.

There are many others not listed.

Journalists do not have to be licensed, and throw temper tantrums whenever it is mentioned as if it was going to something horrific to free speech.

No, it’s not. You are free to shriek and screech about how mean it is to fat-shame people through the Troll Scroll all you want. If you want to morally masturbate in a public forum, by all means,  go to one of your boring little j-talks and do it. If you want to spew your “war stories” about running into celebrities, the web has many fan fiction sites for you to brag puke to your heart’s content. If you want to wallow about that big meany Doug Ford, Facebook and a meme generator is your handy answer.

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But if you going to out facts in a public forum, that is a different story. You do not have freedom of speech.

You have Obligation to Objectively Inform.

Just as the doctor has the Obligation to Heal.

Until that happens, journalism is a farce and a scam.

Because if they were licensed, they would be held accountable for their lies, gullibility, hacks, and cheats, such as cribbing from press releases, and withholding information that goes against their narrative. Partisan reportage would be out. No shilling for those fanatical Lefties or Righties. You would not be allowed to spew propaganda or misuse your platform to settle vendettas.

Or whine to the world how oh so very important you are.

Which brings us to a little political time-waster called the Journalist Protection Act.

Presented in a press release!

The press love the farce, of course.

Journalists are not a different breed of human being. We already have laws for harming people. Journalists are not special to need another category.

It is not as if what they are doing is actually dangerous. Standing around at a press conference is not dangerous. Cribbing from press releases is not dangerous. Writing down what the publicist tells you do is not dangerous. Speculating about celebrities is not dangerous.

Foreign journalists get tagged, but Western ones, not so much, and usually, they are in a foreign country, making the law useless.

You don’t need a law. The law has this already covered.

What the law never bothered to do is ensure that the word journalist actually meant something real with a clearly defined guidelines and consequences for not doing the actual job.

That’s what needed to be done decades ago, but it didn’t.

And this law is unnecessary when the profession has already collapsed…

Starting over in a Post-Journalism World, Part Sixteen.

Journalism has always been about settling childish scores with people. It has been a form of schoolyard bullying for a long time.

Vendetta is not journalism. Propaganda is not journalism.

And right now, we are in an Age of Propaganda.

But this is one of fantasy play where people are playing make pretend. They pretend to be informed. They pretend they are heroes. They pretend that they are preachers with a flock.

With both parts being uninformed and misinformed, meaning perceptions are divorced from reality.

Journalism imploded because of it because now the plebs are their own broadcasters.

But the most peculiar thing is journalists were released among the commoners, and began to use the same thinking patterns. Social media corrupted them both.

People are people, after all.

And keeping up appearances is what people living in an Age of Propaganda do best.

Take the Daily Beast, for instance with this delusional spewing how Trump made journalism schools “great again.”

Don’t lie to the little people.

Have j-schools become more empirical?

No.

Have they found ways to boost the audience for outlets?

No.

Are media outlets still cutting, selling, and closing.

Yes.

Are j-school students do anything differently?

No.

Are j-school students making any radical changes or making demands from their educators other than to inflate their grades?

No.

Have those educators acknowledged the shortcomings of their educational methods and made revolutionary shifts?

No.

Have their created any new medium?

No.

Have they done anything other than do what they have done for decades: take the money of naive students, put them in debts, and then they cannot find a job in their chosen field after graduation?

No.

So the Daily Beast is the Daily Deluded or the Daily Liar.

It doesn’t matter what they spew, if they are grasping at straws, they have nothing of value to report. It is all spin to tell the middle class how to think.

Not facts.

The alternative resists the urge to draw people diagrams.

This is what happen. These are the facts. How this event, person, or issue is impacting your life is dependent on where you are in your life.

It is not about self-adoration, as the Beast’s pathetic attempt at propaganda does.

It is about looking at the bottom line.

Because appearances are mirages and lies.

Reality and truth do not abide by perceptions or appearances.

What works for the rich works against the poor.

What is rigged for the elite means they are weaker than they first appear, or else, there would be no rigs.

It is about more than informing an audience, but humbling them.

You do not know everything, nor should you pretend to make yourself appear intelligent or informed.

Every day, new facts come.

It is a never-ending process, and your fairytales have confined your thinking as it exploits fear.

An alternative spells it out, and liberates thought.

Because never had we so many words flashed before us — and never was the world as devoid of information as it is now…

Fixpoetry's sexist review of my book: What's up with the stereotypes, fellas?

I am not one of those authors who actually cares whether or not a reviewer likes my work. Take it or leave it. I got more than enough love as a child to spread to an entire nation of children, and I neither get impressed nor try to enable or appease.

It is the reason why I don’t plaster positive reviews of any of my books here. Most of the time, I don’t even see positive or negative reviews of my books right away, as in, I may see it six months from the time it was posted (and in one case, over a decade). I honestly have more pressing things going on in my life than to get stuck on a egotistical hamster wheel, and you can’t please all of the people all of the time because you are not supposed to in the first place. It is called reality.

But when this “review” was brought to my attention by the German publication that spewed it, no less via the Troll Scroll, I did take the time to read it.

And it was a first in all my years as an author: getting a review written with an extremely sexist lens.

As in, what century does this reviewer live in? Certainly not this one.

You can read the translated version here, but suffice to say, there is a lot of talk about my emotionality and anger.

Oh, I see. I am a hysterical female?

And what does that make the reviewer? An apathetic male?

Emotional does not mean irrational, but the lack of emotions is a sign of having a psychopathic personality disorder.

But I am not speaking from anger. I am reporting on these facts:

People died as a result of junk reporting.

Wars raged as a result of journalistic propaganda.

People were oppressed as a result of bigoted journalism.

People lost their life savings and towns were economically devastated because of reporters cheerleading con men.

Children were orphaned, people falsely accused of criminal wrongdoing, and robber barons destroyed people’s livelihoods, and I am being called out for being outspoken (yes, outspoken) about it?

If you are not concerned or disturbed by this, then you have too many birds on your antenna.

But the review is far more manipulative than that. The reviewer has a convenient obsession with my brief mentioning of junk pseudo-celebrity news such as Kardashians, repeating it throughout the review as if this was my focus — but conveniently ignores every instance of hard news flaws I use in my book, which is, by the way, the vast bulk of the book.

Nice try trivializing my work.

Nothing in that review mentions how I discuss how PR firms hijacked the narratives of the Gulf Wars and the Civil War in the former Yugoslavia. Zero.

Nothing about 60 Minutes’ seriously flawed Benghazi report where it was an advertorial for one of their own books published through Simon and Schuster.

Nothing about how reporters such as Stephen Glass and an army of others actually just fabricated stories whole cloth.

Nothing about the long list of grifters who stole billions of dollars all while the press fawned all over them.

How very convenient to distort my book to make a nonexistent point by cherry-picking.

The review makes it sounds as if I am frivolous and hysterical — while completely ignoring the hundreds of references in the back of the book that I used discussing mostly the hard news stories the press botched up.

That is not a logic-based review. That is a strawman argument trying to make me sound as if I were a flighty ditz and jealous and failed wannabe celebrity, and not a serious author and researcher with real credentials who actually has a brain and uses it. That is dishonest and shame on you.

This review is beyond sexist. It is dishonest to the point of being a farce. I do not know what kind of society this reviewer was indoctrinated in, but it must have been a highly misogynistic one with not an ounce of enlightenment whatsoever.

A negative review is one thing, but a misogynistic one that distorts the contents of a book is quite another.

And considering the number of journalist titans who have fallen in #MeToo, this review actually proves me right about the profession.

We have an industry with serious woman issues.

By the way, beggar’s journalism — or what the reviewer spins as virtue-signalling “public service journalism” is equally worthless as it does nothing to confront the serious structural flaws of the dead profession, nor does it provide any checks and balances for wealthy robber baron donors to buy their coverage because they are the ones with money and a vested interest (which they already do) — and now you give them a tax break to manipulate people into falsely thinking that you are a “public service.” Grow up.

Boys, the next time you review a woman’s book, please check your sexist filters at the door, and remember this piece of manly advice before you think your filters show you reality:

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Because some of us do see that road crossing the forest…even if you won’t.

Primal scream therapy, Toronto Star style

Doug Ford did something groundbreaking when he won his provincial majority this year that made it a watershed moment for this province, and possibly this entire nation: he won a majority without courting Toronto.

Donald Trump won the presidency by bypassing California and New York, and those states have been fuming ever since. They think they are superior, cunning, and the centre of gravity and Trump proved they were just two states in a nation of fifty.

Ford did the same thing to Toronto. He humbled them. He proved they are just a city in a province full of cities and towns. You win some battles. You lose some battles.

But when you lose what is seen as a critical battle, but still handily win the war, you reveal a reality that trumps truisms, and that’s what Ford’s win actually did.

We now know that Toronto isn’t the be all and end all of getting your majority.

In fact, his majority was bigger than the former Toronto-based premier Kathleen Wynne’s when she got her majority in the previous election.

This victory altered the centre of gravity in this province. Hamilton, another big city, also went NDP and were yet again shut out. The big guns became the little guns that misfired.

Toronto is now experiencing what countless Ontario cities and towns have experienced for years: not having an actual in with the reigning regime. No premier. No cabinet ministers. No MPPs. They are now alone in the wilderness with the ineffectual NDP who have no means to pander to them. Hamilton is used to the political pauperism and don’t see anything wrong with their losing strategy, but Toronto is another story.

The biggest blunder an electorate makes is by falling for the notion that you are supposed to vote ideologically. That is not the breakfast of champions.

You vote with pragmatism. If your representative is in the government and a cabinet minister, your fortunes fare better than if you voted for the losing team. When Hamilton used to do that, they thrived. When they lost the pragmatists, they became impoverished, and now are praying that weed will save them the way Niagara Falls and Windsor thought a casino would save them.

Anyone can promise you the moon, but unless they actually have a chance to arrive and then deliver, you are wasting your vote. The end.

And Toronto blew their vote in a spectacular fashion, and now what has happened all along to other cities has now reached them, and they still don’t know what hit them.

They were always a high maintenance city because everyone falsely believed that if you didn’t capture Toronto, you weren’t part of the game.

And then Doug Ford waltzed in, laughed, and proved it wrong.

His guerilla-style parachuting in an unlikely PC leadership race sucker-punched Hogtown’s elite, and even I didn’t think he’d win that race, given Brian Mulroney’s daughter Caroline was running and had the name and the connections to win. She flubbed; Ford didn’t, and he won.

And in a short time, he took the province, and Toronto never saw it coming or thought what would happen if someone they haughtily tore to shreds by their media for years was in charge of their fate.

But Ford changing the province’s centre of gravity did more than make Toronto’s elite have bricks in their designer pants: his victory greatly weakened the Toronto Star.

If Toronto is just another Ontario city, then the Star is just another local newspaper. They lost clout. They are not the essential chroniclers as they brand themselves to be. They are just like the people in the small towns they ran away from the first chance they could.

They could not dethrone the late Rob Ford. They could not stop Doug Ford from getting a majority.

And now that they are just another local newspaper, their clout diminishes even more.

Their non-stop screaming over Ford’s reducing Toronto city-hall from designer 45 seats to the off-the-rack 25 seats is a humiliating blow to the newspaper. The subtext is simple: council was bloated, and an inflated council means its value was vastly overvalued. If the Star went along with the higher number without question, it casts a light on more than just their credibility — but their motives as well.

It is the same as if a teenager is used to a lavish allowance, but then step-parent sees the huge family debt and then slashes that allowance to a modest amount. It may not be a big savings, but it is a signal that the time for unrealistic hedonistic pursuits is over. You may fancy yourself as the next rock star, but your guitar playing stinks, you’re always warbling the same old unoriginal song about your alleged greatness that no one else wants to listen to, and now it is time to hunker down, stop making demands for more money, and get your own house in order as you pull your own weight.

But the brat is going to scream about how “unfair” it all is, no matter what.

And leading the temper tantrum is the Star with this amusing column.

They are trying every manipulative trick to tell the little people how horrible it is to live within your means. It is just so, like, unfair, and…just déclassé.

They are trying to appeal to women by feeling sorry for Caroline Mulroney, who, despite no previous political experience and is a rookie MPP, has a very posh position within the government.

Their “argument” is that she campaigned on things that go opposite to what the premier is doing now.

So what?

That’s called having a job. I may work for a company and vie for the top position, but if I don’t get it, I still go to work there, and do what I am paid to do, even if I would run things differently.

It’s called life.

You often work for a company that gets bought by another one, and things change: you either go with the flow, or you find another job elsewhere. This is the reality for countless people in their everyday lives.

Kathleen Wynne did many things differently than her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, meaning his way was not her way. She didn’t take her toys and go home, but when the top spot was free, she ran for leader and won — and there were Grits in that party who would have done things differently if they had the job. The Star’s argument is silly and reaching.

But then the column keeps appealing to elitist authority as if that meant something: her dad doesn’t like what Ford did. Big deal; I don’t like what Brian Mulroney did to this country, either.

And Bill Davis doesn’t approve? Old school bristling at new school? Knock me over with a feather, what a shock.

But the silliest nitpick comes here:

When the premier demonizes judges as political appointees who dare not judge him, let alone overrule him — claiming that an elected premier reigns supreme until the next vote, free from judicial scrutiny — does the attorney general not caution him, counter him, or contradict him? 

Let me see if I have this right: the judge editorialized the legislation, which is not what he is paid to do, presumed facts and motives not in evidence, patronized the premier like a schoolboy, and issued a decree with no merit that would have been overturned on appeal, and that’s just fine and not a waste of time and money? We don’t question that ruling because it panders to Toronto? Really?

But we throw a fit that Ford shut down the games and moved ahead with something he is within his rights to do?

If Caroline Mulroney truly believes in her vision and that she would make a good premier, she’ll tough it out. This is the perfect education for a rookie. You don’t get a clear path in life: you have to fight tooth and nail for every step that is worth something. You don’t learn or grow if everything is handed to you on a silver platter. You grow when everything works against you.

But only if you see your own shortcomings, acknowledge them, and then change.

Not by howling and whining that the big meany premier said you can’t have endless helpings from the goody bag.

In other words, know your place. It isn’t always at the top or at the centre of attention where you get everything your own way with no consideration of how everyone else is doing.

Kathleen Wynne made the fatal error of giving Toronto all the mother love and attention any city would be blessed to have — all while creating the largest non-sovereign debt in the world, and even gave Hamilton that generous lifeline of basic income. Hogtown and the Hammer both repaid her by voting for Andrea Horwath. You made your bed, children.

You showed your worth, your gratitude, your savvy, and your loyalty.

You served as your own lesson why it no longer pays to pander to Toronto.

At least Ford learned that lesson.

Too bad the Star hasn’t…