First they came for the bike-riders. Then they came for the trade unionists. Then they went after gays. Now they're attacking communists.
What/who's next on the Ford admin's list of opponents to purge? Mongrels? The poor? Too late. There's already a plan being cooked up for them. The trajectory of the three-ring circus running City Hall looks a little ominous these days after that red scare scared up by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti last week about some of his left-leaning colleagues on council allegedly being out to control the minds of Torontonians. Jesus, Giorgio.
The list of targets on the Ford admin's hit list so far (should we add books?) is looking an awful lot like the list made famous in that statement on the rise of a certain political movement in Europe in the 1920s that will go unnamed here.
Let's be crystal clear, to borrow a phrase from Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men. I'm in no way suggesting Ford's political opponents will soon be rounded up because of their beliefs.
But I would argue that Rob Ford's verbal reign of terror of threats and intimidation is having the desired effect of scaring away opponents and keeping council in line. The exodus of senior managers from the bureaucracy continues; another job ad was posted this week, making eight managers gone since Ford took office. You could say he's done an effective job of suppressing dissent.
The recent chest-beating by Councillor Giorgio "I am not a communist" Mammoliti isn't just the pumped-up rhetoric of someone looking for headlines. We take that part of Mammo for granted.
No, what we're witnessing is an administration too high on power.
Ask members of council sitting on the other side of the political fence at City Hall and they'll tell you the Fordists have been strutting through the corridors of power at 100 Queen West, talking about the scourge of reds and making off-colour remarks about gays for months.
The only thing that's changed in recent weeks is that they're now doing their power-tripping out in the open, on TV, radio and in print.
All of which creates a dilemma - and a distraction, it should also be noted - for the good men and women of the City Hall press corps on how to handle the more twisted bafflegab coming from the Ford crew. I mean, we do have hate laws in Canada, right?
Mammo's red-scaring may make for irresistible copy or TV, but does airing his comments just make him look stupid, or give his twisted views more currency? In the current political climate, I'd suggest that running every idiotic comment that flows from the mouths of Ford's orcs only lends them legitimacy.
Anyone who's come across the scapegoating done by the foot soldiers in Ford Nation, be it via email, telephone conversations or screeds online, understands that all too well.
Oppose Ford and you're a fag or worse - a communist, it seems now.
Would Mammo's red-baiting or any of the anti-gay slurs or attacks on the poor we've heard from different members of the Ford camp have been allowed to stand only a year ago?
A locker-room mentality has taken hold. What is Ford & Co. if not a reflection of the so-called nation that elected them?
What we're witnessing, though, isn't just the loss of a measure of civility on our political discourse. It's a sea change in the zeitgeist. And it's the guys elected to City Hall who are feeding to and from it.
It's here where big brother Doug Ford's musings about Margaret Atwood running for office if she wants to be heard have most resonance. From the Tao of Dougie: you're not elected, so shut the fuck up.
The news ticker scrolling across the TV screen in a McDees I happened into the other day said 35 per cent of Canadians think they're worse off economically today than they were four years ago. The impact of an economy teetering on the edge as world markets crumble can never be underestimated when trying to evaluate what ails us.
Is the mayor losing control? Can he just not be bothered reining in the likes of Mammoliti? Those rabid provocations dovetail nicely with Ford's larger agenda: wreaking havoc on the public service, impoverishing the government and selling off its assets.
But personally, Ford seems content to continue the work he started as a councillor, making house calls to listen to noise complaints and such, rather than deal with the meatier affairs of state. He gave that impression early in his tenure, when he was mostly MIA from City Hall, and he hasn't changed. Those I've had occasion to talk to recently who've been in touch with the mayor on one issue or another suggest he's distracted, maybe a little overwhelmed. Ford's not one to let things bother him, but being mayor isn't an easy job.
Looked at another way, then, the bigoted rantings of Ford & Co. are those of an administration teetering on the edge. The mayor, who's usually content to let others do the talking, has taken to amping the rhetoric himself to keep that all-important base, aka Ford Nation, stroked.
In his appearance on Sun TV Friday, August 12, one of his regular weekly one-on-ones with Ford-friendly media, the mayor said he wasn't going to let people concerned about cuts to services (he called them "NDP activists") "hold a gun to his head."
From where I'm sitting, the only ones packin' gats and holding hostages are the mayor and his band of merry henchmen, but I digress.
The mayor went further in his Sun TV spot, blaming that $774 million deficit he keeps waving like a red flag on the previous administration. Bullshit, of course, but when you're top banana in the Republic of Ford, you can write your own summer fiction. We've read that book before. It's called The Big Lie.
Worked during the election, but the fibbing may be getting a little slippier to manage, for there was the mayor who swore never to go cap in hand to the province going cap in hand to the province Wednesday (August 17) to beg for financial help for his subway scheming.
More to the point, those were definitely boos heard from the crowd at Saturday's Lakeshore Mardi Gras when the mayor bounded onstage for some PR and to tell the gathering to "call me any time."