The Ignorance of the Elders, Part 2

Well, I must have touched a nerve. I walked into my local restaurant yesterday morning to pick up my son’s weekend treat breakfast sandwich, and was accosted by a very irate older man.

“Skid Crease,” he shouted.

I looked around, and there he was, holding a copy of the latest Caledon Citizen in which I had published an article titled The Ignorance of the Elders. “Yes?” I asked.

“You creep! You’re a stalker! You  whiny little b___h!” he shouted

Now keep in mind that I was in a line up, a young girl and her mother in front of me, more than a little shocked by this man’s outburst.

“You join our conversation and then jump up and leave the table like a whiny little b___h!” he shouted.” He stormed out of the restaurant with a final, “I’m going to call the cops. This isn’t over yet!”

Ah, it finally registered. This must be the man whose pontificating I had been shocked by several months before. I had been researching the rise of hate crimes and far right political thinking that had been encouraged in recent months by the rise of Trumpism in the U.S.A. I hadn’t expected to find it in my little town, but there it was alive and well and loud.

I had joined a table of older men, introduced myself by name as a storyteller and a writer, and asked if I could join their conversation. The conversation, it turned out, was more unsettling than I had anticipated, and I left the table with the words, “I’d like to stay, but if I listen to any more of this, I’m going to be sick.” That conversation later became the inspiration for the article.

On later visits to the restaurant I heard other members of the group, on three separate occasions, threaten that they would love to get Kathleen Wynne, Dalton McGuinty, and Justin Trudeau in their “crosshairs.” All of those threats I called into the local OPP. I was told they had freedom of speech, and if I hadn’t seen a weapon, there was nothing they could do. Incredible.

My wife is a Principal in an elementary school, and if a student even just verbally threatens another student, the police are called in. Not so when disturbed older men make death threats against our political leaders.

When I had approached one of the men after hearing him wanting to kill the Canadian Prime Minister, one man told me loudly to “F___ off!” and another taunted me with “You poor old pathetic f___ing piece of s__t.” Obviously the intelligence level of this exchange was going nowhere, so I left. I went home and called my friend Justin to tell him about the exchange and invite him to drop into my neighbourhood on his coffee shop tour of Ontario.

“Skiddy,” he replied, “if I had to worry about every disgruntled older man venting in coffee shops, I wouldn’t get much sleep.”  Such a wise man to be able to park all of this and carry on with classy calmness.

I let that one go, but after the last slanderous personal attack, calling me out by name and defaming my character in a public audience, I called in a full report to the OPP and submitted a full written report. The very professional young officer who handled the case, said he would put a “head’s up” flag on it and suggested that this was a case of miscommunication.

“Make sure you include ‘journalist’ along with ‘storyteller and writer’ the next time you do this kind of research,” he wisely cautioned.

Of course he was right, it’s part of my Canadian Press Code of Ethics. In my defense, I had never intended to do a news article on this event. It was only on later reflection and hearing the vehemence of the subsequent threats that I decided to write it. That and the horror of the Montreal mosque massacre, the perpetrator of which was inspired by Donald Trump’s Islamophobia.

From what I have seen since the misogyny and racism and lies of the Presidential campaign, to the first chaotic dysfunctional month of the new “so-called” President’s term, I am not encouraged. The New York City Police Department reported in January that there has been a 115% rise in hate crimes since the election of Donald Trump. It is as if his ascendency has given permission to the far right to take it from venting in the coffee shops and bars and Tweets, to take it to the streets. It’s like they’ve been given permission to hate openly. And the only defence against that is to call it out.

I feel like I’m back in the sixties again, marching for civil rights, and environmental security, and nuclear disarmament. Yes, indeed, once more into the breech dear friends, once more!

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

Fake News and “so-called” Climate Change

“Once more into the breech, dear friends. Once more.” William Shakespeare, Henry V

It seems like at least once a year my editor asks for an update on the accelerating climate change file. So once more we present the latest in scientific consensus from NASA, NOAA, the Hadley Centre for Climate Science and (the now un-muzzled) Environment Canada. This is NOT fake news.

2016 was the warmest year on record, month for month, of any year in the history of weather record keeping. Period. This is often hard to fathom if you are now digging out in the Maritimes from the Atlantic coast to the B.C. coast. Keep in mind, however, that we are but a tiny corner of this vast planet.

In Australia they are suffering through record heat waves. In India the temperatures are nudging 40ºC. The Arctic sea ice enters 2017 at a record low extent. The open warm waters of the oceans, and the open warm waters of the Great Lakes, when hit with a wave of cold Arctic air produce massive snowstorms.

So, shoveling all that snow this year was proof of accelerating climate change, just as obvious as cooking an egg on the sidewalks in Hay, New South Wales, Australia where the temperature reached 47.5ºC this week.

This is a time when the 97% of practicing, published and peer reviewed climate change scientists who agree that accelerating climate change is real news, need to be embraced by political and business leaders. This is when we need to come together as a planet to find ways to mitigate the impacts of this very real accelerating climate change.

That it was why it was so unsettling on the morning of February 18, 2017 to wake up to the news that the so-called President of the Disunited States of America had just confirmed the appointment of Scott Pruit as the new Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Remember that name and hope it doesn’t go down in infamy. Scott Pruit was the former Attorney General of the fossil fuel energy rich state of Oklahoma. As such, he sued the EPA 13 times by the last count for trying to regulate his energy lobbyists. The far right fundamentalist conservatives love him because he supports religious freedom (as long as you are white and Christian), is against gay marriage, women’s rights to choose, mortgage settlements, the Affordable Care Act, and environmental regulations.

One of his most memorable moves was to vote against the Clean Power and Water Act. And now, as Director of the EPA, he has vowed to gut the Environmental Regulations that it took thirty years and a lot of hard science to develop.

Keep in mind, Scott comes by these opinions easily. His campaigns are funded, after all, by the oil, gas, and coal industries based in Oklahoma. These include the big players like Kinder Morgan, the Koch brothers, Devon, and XTO (Exxon Mobil). There is also, to our chagrin, a big Canadian connection with enthusiastic support from our companies like Syncrude, Talisman Energy, Husky, and Suncor.

Scott Pruit is a climate change denier, although in the hearings to confirm his Directorship of the EPA he did state: “Science tells us that the climate is changing and that human activity in some manner impacts that change. The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue, and well it should be.”

Sorry Scott, but to let the 3% of deniers and skeptics who disagree with the 97% of legitimate climate change scientists  get equal airtime is like letting Kevin O’Leary into the hen house. We know the fight is fixed, and the lobbying power of big business and industry can no longer be allowed to contaminate what is left of our clean air, water and soil.

Keep a very close eye on his proposed deregulations. Remember back to the days of Acid Rain? Back in the sixties and early seventies it was the big canary in the coal mine. The sulphuric acid laden clouds blowing north through the coal country of the Ohio valley was dropping its effluent on Ontario and Quebec with devastating effects on the Canadian Shield watersheds. Our ancient granite provided no buffering defense against the acid onslaught and we watched fish-rich lakes die. It took three decades of relentless environmental regulation and rehabilitation to bring them back to life.

Thanks to Silent Spring and the mass marches of the first Earth Days, we got the EPA’s Clean Air Act and the clouds of acid rain slowly abated. Now, Scott Pruit and his so-called president would like to roll that all back. Dig, drill, and burn baby, burn. If it’s good for business and industry and job creation it must be good. Wildlife and wild spaces be damned.

There is a very intelligent magazine published in the U.S. called Harpers. The most recent February 2017 issue contains an excellent article titled: “Trump – a Resister’s Guide” worth the price of admission alone.  But it also contains a single page, published every issue, called “Harper’s Index,” a collection of random statistics from real, legitimate sources.

When I used to do my conference presentations on environmental issues and resolutions, I took quotes from the Index to warm up the audience. The index is full of those marvelous trivia facts with which you can razzle and dazzle your friends at parties.

Here are a few that should be repeated:

% by which the global wildlife population has declined since 1970: 58%

Number of floors by which the Trump World Tower’s advertised height exceeds its actual height: 19

Rank of corrupt government officials among American’s greatest fears: 1

Rank of climate change among American’s greatest fears: 17

And to conclude, a sobering quote from the Nazi past to the  Trump present:

“If you tell a big lie and you tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” Adolfus Hitler

****

Skid Crease, Caledon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fact Checking in the Age of Alternative Truths

George Orwell’s 1984 has surged to #1 on Amazon’s book list following the lies, obfuscations, and alternative realities uttered by the 45th President of the United States of America and repeated by his White House Press Secretary.

Well here is the inconvenient truth:

As to the number of people who watched the inauguration of the 45th President on television, from the Nielsen TV Ratings for most watched inaugurations :

1. 41,000,000, Ronald Regan, 1981

2. 37,800,000, Barack Obama, 2009

3. 34,100,000, Jimmy Carter, 1977

4. 32,000,000, Richard Nixon, 1973

5. 30,600,000, Donald Trump, 2017

…oops, looks like He Who Must Not Be Named couldn’t even beat Jimmy Carter, let alone best that Unborn in America previous President.

The same holds true for millions of illegal voters that cost #45 the popular vote. No research or data that proves any massive illegal voting. The Bush administration in 2005 discovered only 13 convictions for voter fraud occurred that year. Loyola Law School Professor J. Levitt’s team researched voter fraud between 2000 and 2014. There were only 31 incidents out of more than 1 billion ballots cast during that period.

31 out of 1,000,000,000.  Really.

He Who Should Never Have Been Elected has a big problem with both mathematics and English if he thinks that constitutes anything deserving of the adjective “massive”. The only thing massive about this is the size of THE LIE and the amount of money American taxpayers will pay for untruthing it.

The same holds true for torture. Waterboarding is torture. Period.

The same holds true for climate change. No chance of a Chinese socialist plot here, unless the climate scientists at NASA, NOAA, Environment Canada, Hadley Center for Climate Science, and 98% of the published, peer reviewed, and practicing climate scientists are wrong.

And the chances of that are about the same as the 45th President of the United States of America accepting and telling the truth.

Big Brother is living in an alternative reality of his own misogynistic megalomaniacal making. This is exactly why the Constitution of the United States has the Second Amendment. Not so that schoolchildren can be shot by mentally disturbed loners, but so that citizens committed to their democracy can rise up collectively against an illegitimate and dictatorial government and restore their freedoms.

It’s very difficult to have an intelligent adult conversation with a spoiled child. Big Brother needs a long time out.

*****

Skid Crease, Caledon

Fact Checked by Econexus