Sharpies And The Not-So-Sharp
Weather forecasting really has come a long way, as evidenced by the days and weeks of advance notice we get in our part of the world when disturbances that may become massively dangerous hurricanes form far, far away off the coast of Africa. But, as Hurricane Dorian demonstrates, the science has a long way to go.
Precisely how close to home a catastrophic storm is going to hit and indeed, just how devastating it's going to be are truly speculative. Just look at the "spaghetti models" of various meteorological organizations that struggle to pinpoint the path any given storm will take and where it will land. Consider too the wide-ranging "cone of uncertainty" that accompanies any prognostication. Nevertheless, I am amazed at the relative accuracy of the forecasters, on camera and behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, there is always the hustler who will exploit his "cone of unreality." Donald Trump, who long ago severed his relationship with the truth -- a kind of "Trexit" -- is fouling the turbulent air with his inexpertness, while trying to create a phony image of his being in charge of Dorian operations. As is so often the case, he couldn't hide his lack of comprehension. That was made crystal clear in a tweet where he declared that the roster of states that might be hit included Alabama.
Understandably, that scared the bejabbers out of those residing in Alabama. Never mind that it was false. The National Weather Service in Birmingham quickly put out its own tweet: "Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east."
It was another case where POTUS was simply wrong. But the Trumpster, in an effort to avoid having his ignorance found out, tried to bluster his way past his hurricane misstatement. He even displayed a map in the Oval Office showing the original cone of uncertainty projection from the National Hurricane Center. It still didn't cover Alabama, except that someone had taken a Sharpie and had drawn an extension of the cone that now included the state. It was so obviously phony that Trump mumbled, "I don't know" when asked who had drawn the Sharpie add-on. Obviously, not someone who was very sharp.
The problem is that when the charlatans attach themselves to a crisis, bad things can happen. To be bipartisan, it was not just the Republican standard-bearer who was guilty. Marianne Williamson -- a peripheral Democratic presidential candidate, after a long career as a self-help guru -- put out her own tweet to celebrate the fact that the catastrophic hurricane turned slightly north, thereby avoiding a calamitous direct hit on Florida. She attributed that to: "a creative use of the power of the mind. Two minutes of prayer, visualization, meditation ..." After much ridicule, she deleted the tweet, forgetting that Twitter is forever.
Such distracting clutter can get in the way of the complex evacuations and logistical operations that are necessary to cope with natural disasters. It begs the question of how dangerous it is to elect an UNnatural disaster to a position of powerful leadership.
That's been amply demonstrated by the presidency of Donald "Sharpie" Trump, who takes us from one crisis to another with his combination of ineptitude and demagoguery. He is already blaming the "Fake News" media for questioning his scribbled cover-up. You can bet that his gullible millions of followers will stand with him.
We're also witnessing a storm across the Atlantic, in the DisUnited Kingdom: the Brexit debacle being played out by Boris Johnson, the current prime minister. As you probably know, Johnson is a soul mate of Donald Trump. Separated at birth. They both lie whenever they feel like it, and are similar in so many other ways, right down to the hair. One difference might be that Trump is more harebrained, as evidenced by the dullard handling of his Sharpie.
(c) 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.