Stuff Still Happens, week 46: Bird debate splits Canada! Or maybe not.

The fallout from the Nov. 8 U.S. election continued this week. And just like nuclear fallout, the devastation will be long term.

President-elect Donald Trump (my fingers had a hard time typing that; they almost refused) announced that Steven Bannon would be his senior advisor. Bannon is a rabid right-winger – chief flame thrower of the so-called ‘alt-right’ movement, via the website he used to run called Breitbert. The website is loopy beyond words, with headlines like “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy” and “The solution to online harassment is simple: Women should log off”. Looking at the site today, there is nothing that strikes me as totally crazy; right now, it seems to be a repository for pro-Trump, anti-Democrat, and pro-Bannon ‘news’ stories.

Now, this guy has the ear of the President of the United States, and that ear leads to a giant, empty head. Even Glenn Beck, the once-popular, rabidly right-wing nutbar from Fox News, has described the appointment of Bannon as “terrifying”. Meanwhile, Trump’s cabinet is taking shape, sort of. In lieu of real news, the media is on high speculation alert, tossing about the names of virtually anyone who supported Trump (which is, as we know, a short list). Most ridiculous, however, is the rumour that Ted Cruz is in line for a cabinet post. Yes, the same Ted Cruz that Trump labelled ‘Lyin’ Ted’. If he does promote Cruz, Trump’s explanation will probably be: “I was calling him a Lion, Ted, not Lyin’ Ted. Media distorting my words. So sad.” (Mind you, it looks like Mitt Romney, who savaged Trump in no uncertain terms during the election, is in line for a cabinet post.)

By the way, at last count, Hillary Clinton has more than 1.6 million more votes than Donald Trump. That is three times the number of votes that Al Gore beat George W. Bush by in their contested election.

Facts? We don’t need no stinkin’ facts!

According to Buzzfeed, the fake news sites that grew like a fungus this election year actually got more online traction than stories from real news sites. Buzzfeed reported that in the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others.

“During these critical months of the campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook,” Buzzfeed reported. This is nothing new, really.  Consider this old adage, incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Trump settles suit, and still wins!

Almost lost in the speculation on this cabinet was the news that Trump has settled a lawsuit against his bogus Trump University, agreeing to pay pony up $25 million. Trump’s only comment on the matter came in the form of, naturally, a Tweet: “The ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!” Still with Twitter, Trump wrote this: “General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who is being considered for Secretary of Defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General’s General!” I’d be a little worried if the nickname of your secretary of defense was ‘Mad Dog’.

 

Meanwhile, in Canada …

Huge news from the ornithology front. No one has every typed that sentence before.

gray_jay_s52-11-193_l_1
And the winner is …

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society has announced the results of its project to name Canada’s national bird. An online survey garnered a stunning 50,000 responses, and a panel of experts (bird brains?) chose the winner from amongst the top choices. So, it is the loon, or the Canada goose, or the chickadee? Nope, it’s the gray jay, which looks exactly as it sounds.

The gray jay is a robin-sized cousin of the raven and the crow and has the same brain-to-body size ratio as a dolphin or a chimp. The panel chose the gray jay (a.k.a. the whiskeyjack) because it can be found in every Canadian province, spends the winter here, and is described as smart, hardy and friendly. If you have any complaints about the choice, simply direct them to the spokesman for the society, a panel member named … David Bird. I wouldn’t make up anything that corny.

NDP adds another

A few years ago, a member of the Progressive Conservative party crossing the floor to join the New Democrats would have seemed unfathomable. Not in the new Alberta. This week, Sandra Jensen, a PC MLA from Calgary, left the party to join the NDP. Just a week before, Jensen was a candidate for the leadership of the PC party, but quit after claiming vicious harassment at the hands (and mouths) of leadership frontrunner Jason Kenny’s more rabid followers. Jensen could have joined the Alberta Party or the Liberals and have been hailed as a hero. Instead, she took the easy route and joined the government. Now, she’ll sit in the backbenches at the children’s table, at least until a cabinet post opens up. Premier Rachel Notley hasn’t shuffled her cabinet (it’s hard to play a winning hand when you’ve got a deck of jokers), and is unlikely to kick out anyone from cabinet. The way Notley spends money, there is a better chance she will create a whole new cabinet position for Jensen. It really doesn’t matter that much. With the falling fortunes of the NDP, and the traditional disdain voters have for floor crossers, Jensen’s career will end in the next election.

Boy, did I pick the wrong career

Many years ago, I went to journalism school at Mount Royal College in Calgary, intent on a career in newspapers. Today, I wouldn’t suggest anyone go into journalism. But if you can write reasonably well, go into speech writing. This week, it was revealed that the company that wrote the budget speech for Finance Minster Bill Morneau was paid $11,300. A firm that wrote a speech – one speech – for Veterans Affairs Minister Kentd Hehr was paid $8,932. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains paid another company almost $3,000 on three separate occasions. Each of those ministries has a bloated, well-paid communications department, which apparently employs not one single person who can write a speech. Journalism? Screw that, young people. Get on the government gravy train.

RIP

Gwen Ifill, 61, co-anchor of the PBS News Hour … Janet Wright, 71, who played long-suffering Emma Leroy on Corner Gas … Sharon Jones, 60, singer (Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s