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Politics

Please Advise! Are We Sliding into Disaster?

Unpredictable amounts of snow seem to bring out the worst in political leaders, says Doc Steve.

Steve Burgess 18 Feb 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

How about this weather? A few years ago, this was magnolia season.

Signed,

White & Blue

Dear WB,

But weren’t we all praying for a white Valentine’s Day? When someone rejects your heartfelt Feb. 14 expression of love and rips your poor beating heart from your chest, all that snow sets off the bright red blood so dramatically.

The snow indeed made a late appearance for us this year, producing the usual jokes about our wimpy West Coast inability to handle the natural Canadian condition. But it was a lovely break from the rain, a chance to play out those traditional wintry scenes, as when a young Charles Foster Kane took to the snowy hills with his beloved sled, Spoiler Alert.

Still, at times like this the people Dr. Steve feels bad for are kids in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Back in the day we Prairie striplings never got on TV for mere tobogganing, whereas every dusting of Vancouver snow occasions a flood of evening news footage of tykes triumphantly descending modest inclines like they just invented the Winter Olympics. Harrumph. Call me when Vancouver kids take up bumper-shining.

Dr. Steve also spares some sympathy for the people of Texas, who are suffering this week from both serious power outages and national mockery. We in Vancouver know what that’s like.

And yet some Texas politicians make it rather difficult to sympathize with the state of that state. Take Colorado City Mayor Tim Boyd who responded to deadly power outages with a Facebook message that read in part, “I’m sick and tired of people asking for a damn handout.... Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish.” [sic] At that point 17 Texans had already, umm, “parished,” and the mayor’s job soon became another casualty.

Boyd did manage to get elected with that attitude though. It makes you wonder about the nature of Texas mayoral campaigns. “When trouble strikes,” says Mayoral Candidate One, “I shall mock the afflicted and proclaim their misfortunes the just punishment of God!”

“Bleeding heart liberalism!” cries Mayoral Candidate Two. “As mayor I shall poison the water supply to weed out the unwary, then walk the streets shooting any children of less-than-average size!”

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, canny politician that he is, has deftly avoided the trap of openly celebrating the deaths of the less fortunate. He’d never get elected in the Lone Star state. Nor would B.C. Premier John Horgan. Unlike his Texas counterpart, he has failed to use the recent B.C. cold snap as an excuse to attack the Green Party.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott could teach Horgan a thing or two. Abbott recently claimed that the state’s power outages are the result of frozen wind turbines. This is perhaps a half-step up from blaming wildfires on Jewish space lasers, but only a half-step. As numerous media outlets have pointed out, Texas’s problems this week can be traced to its own failure to winterize its fossil-fuel-driven power systems, perhaps exacerbated by an anti-government philosophy that led the state to disconnect its power grid from the national system. That weird old saying “independent as a hog on ice” is probably starting to make sense to many Texans this week.

Politicians and citizens can’t be blamed for the misfortune of bad weather, any more than they can be blamed for the onset of a global pandemic. But winter storms and COVID-19 do share a particular quality — they tend to reveal the flaws in a given political culture. When you believe that all the world’s problems emanate from leftists and environmentalists, your search for solutions will become a roundup of the usual suspects.

The appalling COVID death rate in the United States is a symptom of two kinds of disease, and only one of them involves coronavirus. Likewise, the response to the state’s inclement weather has been revealing in the worst way. Reality has an ugly habit of disrespecting one’s deeply held convictions (such as Sen. Ted Cruz’s contention that California power outages were the work of socialism).

B.C. is not immune from the same sort of problems faced by Texas. The fact that Dr. Bonnie Henry has been the target of death threats and abuse is depressing proof of that. But it is fair to say that our provincial bus has pragmatists at the wheel, and the nut jobs relegated to the back row. Which sure beats Cruz control. But you do have to give Cruz some credit. Recognizing that the real problem in Texas is politicians, he swiftly moved his useless butt to Cancun. After all you can't evacuate the entire state, so somebody had to take bold symbolic action.

Meanwhile it appears we have seen the last of the snow in Vancouver. That means it will soon be our favourite time of year: gloating season. Yes, they laughed at us this week. We never wanted your sympathy anyway, eastern swine. Prepare to eat the magnolias of envy.  [Tyee]

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