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Talking the Current State of COVID in Ontario & Liberal Cabinet Retreat with Kristy Cameron

Yesterday I joined Kristy Cameron on CFRA’s “Ottawa Now” along with Katlyn Harrison & Lindsay Maskell on the “Political Heat” panel. We talked about the current state of COVID-19 in Ontario, the rise in case numbers across the province, the Liberal Cabinet Retreat taking place in Ottawa and what we might see in the upcoming Speech from the Throne. You can listen to the audio below starting at the 16:00 minute mark.

Talking the Liberal Cabinet Retreat & Surprising New Alberta Poll numbers on “The Arlene Bynon Show”

This morning I joined Arlene Bynon on “The Arlene Bynon Show” on Sirius XM’s Canada Talks 167, along with Alise Mills. We discussed the Liberals Cabinet Retreat starting today, what we might expect to see in the Throne Speech next week, how much we should expect for the Liberals to offer in that Throne Speech, the appetite of the people for a bigger agenda, a surprising new poll from Alberta showing the UCP and NDP tied and how Jason Kenney’s leadership has helped to create those results. You can listen to it all below.

Real Consequences of Fake Stories

We do live in dangerous times and a lot of that comes back to some of the political rhetoric that we see out there. I say some of it because while some of the rhetoric that some politicians use may be over the top or overtly partisan, it’s not dangerous to the health and safety of the public. Other politicians and their supporters have taken things to a new, dangerous level of insanity, throwing unproved, unhinged and outright lies about entire groups of people, real or imagined. That is what I am speaking about today.

Those words matter not just because they are dangerous; they matter because they are being given credence and legitimacy by politicians who see advantage in using them themselves. That includes American President Donald Trump, who has become the worst purveyors of these lies, all in a completely transparent attempt to save his own political life. He’s made wild and completely false claims about “Antifa”, the “Far Left” and others that he says are “trying to destroy the country”. It’s all been about ratcheting up his base and if it that was where it ended, we could likely just put it aside. There have been other side effects to come with that rhetoric which are extremely dangerous, which are manifesting themselves in the ugliest ways. A prime example of that popped across the Twitter feed yesterday in a place that I least expected it:

Yes folks, this is where the words of someone like Donald Trump can lead when they are trusted above reality and fact. It’s so true that The Oregonian had to spent time reporting about and knocking down some twisted rumours about the boogeymen created by Trump trying to “destroy” Oregon through forest fires. That Twitter thread highlighted by CBC’s Tom Harrington is what drew my attention to this, as you can actually sit pictures of people simply covering this awful nature disaster actually having guns drawn on them by an armed militia who thought there were “antifa liberals”. The fact that these journalists needed to point out they weren’t white tells you how maybe these people jumped to that conclusion, especially given how Mr. Trump has described these boogeymen.

But if that’s where this story ended, with some crazy and disturbing misunderstanding, well it wouldn’t be as bad. Yet still as The Oregonian had to point out, there are actual politicians and right-wing political commentators actually spreading this rumour out there, this twisted idea that’s ugly as can be. Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Oregon Jo Rae Perkins shared a post Thursday from a popular QAnon account on Twitter that insinuates Democrats started the fires for political gain. Paul Romero, whom Perkins defeated in the March primary, wrote a series of Twitter posts pushing the false claim that six anti-fascists had been arrested for arson for the fires. Turning Point USA representative Katie Daviscourt, who has more than 55,000 Twitter followers, posted Wednesday that unnamed law enforcement sources told her fires were “allegedly linked to Antifa and the riots.”

All that misinformation being put out there isn’t just leading to journalists covering the fires to the situation we saw the other day, but it’s also slowing down the ability of authorities to respond to the situation. The local police report that they are getting run under by 911 calls about rumours around this, completely swamping them. Molalla Police Department had to put out a Facebook post to tell people to  “stay calm and use common sense” when it came to these rumours. Seriously imagine having to waste one’s time on such crap when trying to deal with a natural disaster.

And that is the kind of thing that happens when you have a whole section of the population who has been primed again and again to believe the words of only one man. And that man has shown time and again that not only is he less than truthful, he does so in an attempt to help himself above anything else. When you get that, this is the kind of thing that happens and wow, is it proving to be dangerous. Instead of believing the facts about this fire and how it was likely started, which is much less crazy and doesn’t involve conspiracy theories that only exist to further support the political ambitions of others. It’s undermining the ability of governments and public safety officials to perform their basic jobs while also creating further tension, paranoia and potentially violence. When that blatant misinformation leads to a) armed militias feeling compelled and supported in patrolling highways during a natural disaster, b) those militias pulling their weapons on journalists and c) authorities being unable to respond to all of this, it’s outright dangerous.

These are bad signs of a government and country in serious decline where things are falling apart. It’s also completely because of the irresponsible rhetoric being spewed by people who are only concerned about their political benefit and to Hell with the rest. If things have gotten so bad that we’re seeing stories like these break out, it’s a bad sign of how far things have slid off the rails. It’s also scary being next door to a country that has so many people who are clearly in the thrall of such insane crap, preferring to believe it over what is real and tangible. It’s a dangerous mix and sadly we have at least two more months of an election where the Republican Presidential candidate will continue to slam his foot on the throttle of this noxious conspiracy crap. It remains to be seen if the American body politic can withstand it but if the news above is any barometer, it’s already struggling mightily to deal with it.

Talking the Start of the O’Toole Leadership & Conservatives Courting the Union Vote with Rob Snow

Wednesday I joined Rob Snow on 1310 News’ “The Rob Snow Show” along with Andrew Brander. We talked about questions about the Erin O’Toole’s Leadership of the Conservatives, what we can take from his first week in the position, how he is trying to position them, his attempts to woo union votes and will it succeed. You can listen to the audio by clicking below, starting at the 21:00 minute mark.

From Pity to Incredulity

The past 24 hours has been stark and shocking watching what just unfolded in the United States. For the all the things we’ve heard and seen from Donald Trump in his time as President of the United States, yesterday managed to be a bombshell. The words, spoken from his own lips, say it all:

There is a lot to take in from what happened there, and you can go online and find the video to hear it all for yourself. This feels like a make or break moment, mostly because this truly feels like the biggest test of a feeling. That feeling is something that we’ve said many times over the past four years; if this doesn’t sink him, nothing will. Think how many times we’ve thought that, only to see him continue to survive and even thrive politically. Think of all the abhorrent and aberrant behaviour and words that he has uttered or done in this time that we rightfully thought would be politically suicidal, only to watch him continue on. But willfully concealing the truth about a pandemic, knowing the truth about COVID-19 in early February but hiding it to save his own political hide, costing nearly 200,000 American lives in the process? Surely this must be the truest test of this “if not now” theory, right? Well we’ll see how the next few days go, but already Trump’s biggest defenders are going after the “real” cause of the problem here:

Yep, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has found the smoking gun, and it’s coming from South Carolina. Yes, it’s all the fault of Senator Lindsay Graham, the man who opposed Trump in 2016 before then pulling a full 180 and becoming Trump’s compromised and uncompromising support. Yes, it’s all been a ruse and he really is out to get the Donald, so Tucker tells us. It couldn’t possibly be that anyone with any passing knowledge of who Bob Woodward is and his history of great work would know better than to put a big talking blowhard with a problem with telling the truth in front of him to be questioned at all, let alone for 18 hours on tape. No, no, no, that couldn’t be it. It’s all Lindsay’s  fault. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this turn of events, not just because it’s so predictable but also because it’s worked before. Will it work again? Again we’ll see soon enough.

In the meantime, let’s not forget there is still a global pandemic ragging in the United States, not that you’d know it from how some elected leaders in that country are behaving. Many Republican governors have been following Trump’s denialist lead, propping him up and being blatant apologists for the kinds of crap we heard in those Woodward Tapes. We are seeing governments spending record amounts of money to fight COVID-19, or at least most are. This morning we have gotten the following story out of South Dakota, one that just speaks to the mindset of so many Republican leaders in the US right now:

I don’t have enough face palms to respond to this stupid story. It turns out that South Dakota’s Republican Governor Kristi Noem’s administration is using federal coronavirus relief funds to pay for a $5 million tourism ad campaign aimed at drawing people to the state. But as CBS News points out in their reporting, “the state currently ranks second in the country for new cases per capita over the last two weeks, with 439 new cases per 100,000 people.” Part of the states current COVID problems come from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which went ahead anyway despite the dangers. That event is now being seen as a super spreader event, including a concert by the band Smash Mouth where singer Steve Harwell said during the performance “F*ck that COVID sh*t”. Feel free to insert your own “not the sharpest tool in the shed” jokes here.

But beside that sideshow, this story is the whole American COVID-19 experience in a nutshell. You’ve got a governor who had downplayed the entire pandemic, has followed the Trump line completely and supported his inactions from start. When it came to Trump wanting to do a Fourth of July event at Mount Rushmore, Noem ignored the public health concerns and made it happen. When public health experts raised concerns about having 250,000 motorcycle enthusiasts coming into a city of less than 10,000 from all over the country for a week, Noem ignored them and embraced them with open arms.

All of that has led to the high case counts in the state, which in a sense makes it all the more fitting to see this story above about these COVID funds. Because when you’re facing a global pandemic that’s ravaging your state, it makes sense to spend millions of dollars on ads inviting people to vacation in your pandemic ravaged stated, right? Christ man, it’s not like you couldn’t use that money to actually fight the disease. No, no, no, they decide to use the money to help people spread the disease wider and further than it already has, as if people are clamoring to travel and explore during this pandemic.

Everyone, I’m not sure how else to take this other than us watching the embarrassing failure of this supposed leader of the Free World. Seriously, pity would be a natural thing to feel for these people in this moment but at what point do you move from pity to incredulity? It’s hard to continue to pity people who are so willful in their ignorance of the facts for purely political reasons. You hear the Woodward Tapes and can’t help but wonder how such ugly political instincts are given the cover needed for them to thrive. They you see the actions of the likes of supporters of Trump like Carlson and Noem and you see their enabling power. You can clearly see how things have gotten to this point, with the ugly result of nearly 200,000 Americans dead to date.

So pity is no longer the proper sentiment here because we give pity to those who can’t help their circumstances. Incredulity is the right sentiment, because we give that to those who could easily help their circumstances but refuse to do so. They actively choose to find themselves in this situation. Trump and his enablers have made conscious choices, time and again, that have brought them to this situation, from deciding to ignore and put out misinformation about the disease, right down to this newest example of using the resources to fight it to buy tourism ads instead. It’s through willfully blind acts like that which you end up with what the Americans are facing right now. The only way to stop that is for the electorate to step up, speak up, and punish them thoroughly at the ballot box. And yet amazing, even that is still in doubt. So pity is something that we can no longer feel for our American neighbours because they have lost the plot and in doing so, forces us to watch them with a wary eye, hoping that they somehow get their act together.