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Don’t Worry, What We’re Seeing and Reading is Not Happening

Photo source kevin slavin | CC BY 2.0

Normally these are called “the dog days of summer” as political writers and politicians enjoy vacations from Congress and state legislatures. Even politicians on the stump spend summer hitting state and county fairs and waving from parade floats. But not this year. Our nation is roiling with political turmoil while the world is roasting in record-setting high temperatures.

Last week, on the roiling front, President Trump took a little trip into fantasy land when he told a crowd: “”What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” This created significant puzzlement for most people, since if what we’re “seeing and reading is not what’s happening,” then what is happening?

And sure enough, the old Trumpster once again took the meat ax to the media, claiming anything but his alternate reality was “fake news” and journalists and reporters are really “enemies of the people.” I’m sure this alarming revelation is due to the unique insights and logic of our “very stable genius” president, but it sure came as a surprise to those who believed our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press was intended by our nation’s founders to benefit the people and hold the politicians accountable.

Closer to home, Trump’s trade war with most of the world is now hitting Montana’s wheat farmers hard. The price of wheat has plummeted 20 percent already and the great fear is that China, one of Montana’s top customers for wheat exports, is backfilling Montana’s loss with wheat from Canada and Australia — and may do so into the foreseeable future.

That hasn’t stopped Montana’s Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines from claiming he’s “standing up for Montana farmers and ranchers” by defending Trump’s tariffs and their quickly mounting consequences. Nor was he particularly critical of the $12 billion price tag for the taxpayer-funded subsidies Trump is offering to ease the losses of the trade war he started, saying “the aid package is a Band-Aid. It’s not the answer, but it will get us to the answer…”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but from a reality-based perspective, one might well wonder just what these professed “fiscal conservatives” are doing as they chase their own tails around in circles while plunging the nation into a trillion-dollar deficit.

Moving on, California is once again on fire — and there’s no end in sight as temperatures continue to rise and drought increases while the federal government is busy eliminating the term “climate change” from all its agencies and documents.

They say there are three things that will not remain long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. The truth is the Northern Hemisphere is roasting. England set a new high temperature, eclipsing 350 years’ worth of records, on “Furnace Friday” and the once-green countryside of the island nation is now brown. Montreal set a new record, too, with 80 people dying in a heat-wave of 98 degrees. Meanwhile, Sodankyla, Finland — 59 miles north of the Arctic Circle — hit 90 degrees. Japan’s new record was 109 degrees, 80 people have died in massive wildfires in Greece, and Oman set the highest “low” temperature (the lowest temperature over a 24-hour period) ever recorded on the planet at 109 degrees.

But don’t worry; thanks to having tumbled far down the rabbit hole with Alice in Trumpland, we shouldn’t believe what we’re seeing or reading because “it’s not happening.” As for all those “enemies of the people” reporters who are writing this “fake news,” as the Red Queen said, “Off with their heads!” Are we great again yet — or is that a forbidden question?

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George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

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