“The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself.” Franklin Roosevelt, 1932 inauguration.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy, 1960 inauguration.
“From this day forward, it’s going to be America first, America first.” Donald J. Trump, 2017 inauguration
Well, it’s now two days into the presidency of Donald Trump, and the world is still standing. So far, so good.
But this can’t last. Trump’s shockingly partisan, brutal inauguration speech, was red meat for his supporters, but no doubt sent shivers up the spine of most everyone else. Nobody has painted an uglier picture of the United States than Donald Trump did during his speech. The country is crime ridden, infested with uneducated children, littered with empty factories, cheated by other countries. It was grim and depressing and awful. After listening to Trump, one wonders why anyone would want to move to the U.S. Consider his description of the education system, which he described as “flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.” (Take that, teachers!) Or the lovely image of “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation”. What a terrible, terrible place it is … according to their own president! But with President Trump, the era of “American carnage” is now over!
It didn’t take long for Trump to get to work. Shortly after his inauguration, the White House website was scrubbed clean of any mention of climate change or LGBTQ rights. On Saturday, his press secretary, Shawn Spicer, held his first briefing, which was 10 minutes of him chewing out the media for “shameful and wrong” reports about the small size of his inauguration crowd, claiming it was the “largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period” despite indisputable proof of the opposite. (Trump clearly has a problem with any mention of size.) And on Sunday, Trump’s appalling mouthpiece, Kellyanne Conway, defended the press secretary’s obsession over the size of the crowd. In this exchange with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Conway coined a phrase that might well define the Trump era: she said the press secretary presented “alternative facts” about the crowd size, despite the verifiable fact that the crowd was clearly smaller than the crowd that attended Barack Obama’s first inaugural.
Welcome to the alternative facts universe.
Oh my, it’s O’Leary
Kevin O’Leary has joined the Conservative leadership race, joining a field of little known, delusional candidates that now totals 14.
O’Leary is as close to a famous face as we have on Canadian TV. He rose to prominence on CBC’s Dragon’s Den reality show, which turned into a stint as a business commentator on CBC Newsworld. Today, he is best known as the most aggressive ‘shark’ (who often calls himself ‘Mr. Wonderful’) on the ABC series Shark Tank, the American version of Dragon’s Den. The Montreal native now spends about half his time in Boston.
O’Leary is certainly a byproduct of Trump Disease, which has infected the U.S. He’s loud, brash, and opinionated. But that’s where the similarities end. O’Leary is not racist (his parents were immigrants) or sexist; he is a free enterpriser, but socially quite liberal. He does have some things working in his favour – name recognition, a colourful personality, loads and loads of money, political outsider status – but he has even more things working against him. He has never run for office, never gone door-knocking, never glad-handed the public or kissed babies and, worst of all, never said a word of French. In 21st century Canada, it is inconceivable that a major party would choose a leader without at least a rudimentary knowledge of Canada’s other official language, unless they want to write off Quebec and 25% of the seats in the House of Commons. I can’t seem O’Leary winning – he’s just not Canadian enough, and my sense is that right now, Canadians are desperate to separate ourselves from our American cousins. But then again, I also said Donald Trump would never win.
Notley shuffles the deck, deals another joker
Rachael Notley shuffled her cabinet a bit this week, relieving the deeply incompetent Irfan Sabir of his human services portfolio, moving him to some new, face-saving position called the Department of Community and Human Services. A Department of Children’s Services has been formed and given to Danielle Larivee, moved from the municipal affairs ministry. And the new minister of municipal affairs? Yep, it is the comically freakish looking Shaye Anderson.
So, what makes Shaye Anderson a good choice to run a government department? Well, he was ‘telecommunications technician’ (phone repair man?) and a union shop steward. And he has a hilarious beard. What more do you need?
Add another piece of balsa wood to the Notley cabinet.
Bye bye bumblebee?
A type of bumblebee is now on the endangered species list for the first time in a “race against extinction,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday.
The agency placed the rusty patched bumblebee on the list because of a dramatic population decline over the past 20 years. Since the late 1990s, the population of the species has plummeted 87%. Named because of the rust-colored marks on its back, the bee was once common and abundant across 28 states from Connecticut to South Dakota. Today, the bee is only found in small, scattered populations in 13 states.
In other depressing news, the world hit temperature records for the third year in a row. Not bad for something that was invented by the Chinese, right, Donald?
This week’s Trudeau gaffe
Justin Trudeau’s listening tour continues, and so do his gaffes. Again, I have to compliment the prime minister for the tour, where he takes questions from a random cross-section of Canadians. It’s a high-wire act, fraught with pitfalls (can you have pitfalls on a high wire?), but the biggest mistakes he has made are entirely of his own making. This week the tour was in Quebec. When asked questions in English, he chose to answer in French. It’s an unspoken tradition in Canadian politics that you answer a question in the language it was asked. That’s only polite, and common sense. Which, again, Trudeau seems to be lacking.
Eugene Cernan, 82, the last man on the moon … ‘Principal’ Richard Pound, 52, longtime Canadian wrestler.