There’s an old phrase in fairly common use that translates as “Don’t lie to me.”
Don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining.
Yet that’s exactly what Donald ‘Petruchio’ Trump did when he defaced an official weather map with a sharpie in a truly pathetic effort to ‘prove’ that he is a better weather forecaster than the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service (NWS).
If you’ve been off the grid for a week and missed the latest foray into nationwide gaslighting, the Fabulist-in-Chief tweeted on Sep 1 that Alabama “would most likely be hit [by Hurricane Dorian](much) harder than anticipated.” A mere twenty minutes later, the NWS station in Birmingham Alabama tweeted, “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian”.
But of course, Trump tweets are gospel truth, so the Copper Confabulator continued to tweet and speak ex cathedra, contradicting the nation’s top climate and weather scientists, insisting that his false weather report (which just happens to be a federal crime) was true. This particular Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride culminated on Sep 4 when he held up the now famous map that has triggered a tweet storm centered around ‘SharpieGate’.
In any sane world, that would be that. Trump would be shown to be wrong, he’d go on stamping his little feet and screaming like a spoiled kid in a Wal Mart, Twitter would do that voodoo that it do so well, we’d all have a good laugh and go back to binge-watching Black Mirror.
But we don’t live in a sane world. Instead, in this world, the NOAA has issued directives to all it’s personnel, including every NWS station in the country, not to correct or contradict the God of Weather. Further, NWS stations are ordered to “only stick with official National Hurricane Center forecasts if questions arise”, and to not “provide any opinion” about such forecasts, questions from media or statements, especially from the president.
It gets worse.
“Late Friday afternoon, NOAA officials further angered scientists within and beyond the agency by releasing a statement, attributed to an unnamed agency spokesperson, supporting Trump’s claims on Alabama and chastising the agency’s Birmingham meteorologists for speaking in absolutes.”
So what we have now is a national scientific organization purposely and willingly abdicating it’s role as a reliable source-of-truth regarding critical weather information, instead acting as oleaginous sycophants to a man who can lie to his own face in the mirror. The NOAA is telling us that the butter sculpture currently greasing up the Resolute Desk knows all and tells all. If he says a hurricane will hit your state, whether that be Florida or Montana, believe him and head for higher ground.
In Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, perhaps the earliest depiction of domestic abuse via gaslighting, Petruchio claims the time of day to be 7am when it is actually 2pm. This is one of numerous ruses he employs to break the spirit of Katherine, his “shrewish” wife, and put her under his thumb. When she insists that she knows the truth, he rails on and claims the time is what he says it is:
It shall be seven ere I go to horse.
Look what I speak, or do, or think to do,
You are still crossing it. Sirs, let ’t alone.
I will not go today, and ere I do
It shall be what o’clock I say it is.
To which his friend replies, in an aside to the audience:
Why, so this gallant will command the sun!
The line is meant ironically, an in-joke between the character and the audience. But in our world, the entire national scientific apparatus charged with giving us accurate, often life-saving weather forecasts and reports, is saying the same thing without irony.
The NOAA is saying, to our faces and with no wink-and-nod, that Trump commands the sun.
Put another way, the president is pissing on us, and the NOAA is telling us it is raining.