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Writer’s Lounge – The Sound Of Truth, Thomas Friedman, Trump And Climate Change


The Sound of Truth

I happened to be reading some comments on Facebook about Greta Thunberg, the seemingly ubiquitous climate activist. This was after I had posted a warning on my own timeline, that I would not abide by statements impugning the motives of the young woman’s parents, Svante Thunberg and Malena Ernman – the most typical of which, being that they have exploited or endangered her by pushing her into the public arena.

The claim, presupposes that Greta’s parents are something equivalent to the storied and disreputable “stage mothers”, who prep their children to participate in activities they have, perhaps the talent for, but lack the self desire or inclination to do so.

The majority of this scurrilous defamation devoid of substance, originated from, where else? Fox News.  She has been the object of countless vitriolic attacks from the Trumpaganda network, including Tucker Carlson referring to her as an example of the left using “children to demand power.”

Laura Ingraham played a clip of Thunberg’s speech to the UN on her program, comparing it to the horror film Children of the Corn. “I can’t wait for Stephen King’s sequel, Children of the Climate.”

The conspiracy theory parallel universe has swept the young lady into their demented orbit.  There were assertions emanating from Brazil, that Greta was abandoned by her father, which was widely circulated, but debunked – as well as allegations of her having taken up residence with ISIS militants and that Greta’s mother instructs teenagers in abortion procedures. 

Somewhat less malignant, but still exploitative, are the claims that Greta is actually not who she says she is, but is instead, an Australian actress named Estella Renee and that Greta is merely a “fictional character” that Estella is playing as a “crisis actor”. 

promo ad for Australian child actress Estella Renee, who some conspiracy traffickers are claiming is a "crisis actor" portraying "fictional character" Greta Thunberg in public appearances.
Promo ad and head shot for Australian child actress Estella Renee, who some conspiracy traffickers are claiming is a “crisis actor” portraying “fictional character” Greta Thunberg in public appearances.

Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg is the furthest thing from a ‘fictional character’, no matter how much propaganda is circulated in right wing media, Facebook and Twitter. 

Mikko Salo, founder of the fact-checking platform Faktabaari in Finland, says of Thunberg, 

“She is young, a woman, and has an inconvenient science-based message that mobilizes across Europe and globally to wide audiences. She seems to touch both emotion and rationale with her no-nonsense style urging immediate action; Greta is simply dangerous to many stakeholders, and disinformation is a powerful tool to polarize and create confusion.”

But of the more direct fusillades aimed at Greta’s parents and Greta simultaneously, was this from the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles:

“The climate hysteria movement is not about science.  If it were about science, it would be led by scientists, rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left. She is mentally ill. She has autism. She has obsessive-compulsive disorder. She has selective mutism. She had depression.”

Knowles is not a mental health clinician, but he plays one badly on TV. So badly that Fox News, as usual, reacting to the objections of advertisers when the program hosts and guests push the decency envelope beyond even the ever so subterranean levels common to the network, was forced to issue an apology and to cut ties with Knowles.

But Knowles, like the many malicious social media critics of Thunberg and her family, refused to walk back his intemperance and professes to know about matters that he has no insight into. That is, of course, the common denominator of the right wing media. 

tweet from teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg explaining the motivations of her critics using her condition, Aspergers' Syndrome on the autism spectrum as a basis to discredit her message about the warming planet and its causes.

Greta, tells how identifying and actualizing a passionate concern, has accelerated her personal growth, in spite of the condition.

“Before I started school striking I had no energy, no friends and I didn’t speak to anyone. I just sat alone at home, with an eating disorder,” she said. “All of that is gone now, since I have found a meaning, in a world that sometimes seems shallow and meaningless to so many people.”

I had my own run-in with an individual, parroting the unfounded claims about Greta and her parents. We’ll call the person, “Samuel”, who, in response to another commenter, said:

“To be honest Chris, I could not watch her after her first sentence. I will take fingernails on a chalk board before I ever listen to her again. Her parents need to quit forcing her into the Limelight. If you search her on YouTube, you will see some interviews with her. She like Obama do much better with rehearsed talking points.”

I responded first, to the questionable premise that preparing for a media interview, is somehow inauthentic or pretentious.

“So I guess instead of someone doing their homework and actually organizing what it is they are presenting beforehand, it would be preferable to pull false and fictional claims out of thin air and fly by the seat of one’s pants like Donald Trump, who virtually never survives a fact check?”

Then, I took on the allegation about Greta’s parents and their suspected active enlistment of their child as a front line warrior in the climate change dispute:

“There is no evidence, (aside from innuendo and empty claims) that Greta Thunberg’s parents are “forcing her into the Limelight”. Despite your impressions otherwise, there actually are mid adolescents that have within themselves, strong motivations and drives to accomplish goals, independent of parental coaxing, prompting or coercion.”

In the case of Ms. Thunberg, there is the existence of a vigorous intellect and some say, attributable to Asperger’s Syndrome, the sublimation of a filter that would ordinarily inhibit a young person of her age from speaking in a direct, some might say, confrontational manner on an issue that in her mind, constitutes an existential crisis.

Thunberg’s parents were not initially on board with her missing school to protest climate change in late 2018. In fact, Greta did a bit of a selling job on her mother, an Opera singer, to trim way back on her touring schedule to reduce the family’s carbon output.  When they were convinced that she was single minded and intent on moving forward, they concluded it would be best to be supportive. “[We] respect that she wants to make a stand. She can either sit at home and be really unhappy, or protest, and be happy,” her father told the Guardian last September.  

If Greta is being exploited and denied a childhood and a proper education in order to further a “left wing agenda”, perhaps her school’s principal has come out with a statement of disapproval. Actually, no. Sirkka Persson, principal of Kringlaskolen – the equivalent of our 8th grade, where Greta graduated with 14 “A”s and 3 “B”s, wrote to Greta in a public post:

Greta, being your Principal at school I do not doubt you are writing your own speeches.  All the things you write about in this poster I also get questions about. People often judge others out of their own behavior.

So many rumors and so many people who do not know you or your family who think they know how things are and what is best for you. Embarrassing…

Each day I see you at school you give hope and strength to others. You affect people and have an impact on their way of thinking and behaviour. You have definately [sic] got me thinking new thoughts. That is admirable.”

Despite this, Greta is referred to as an “angry, whiny, self-righteous high school dropout”, by owners of climate science denial sites.  And when she was in Iowa for an appearance in Iowa City, Matt Baish, a teacher at West High in Waterloo, Iowa, posted Thunberg’s picture on Facebook with the comment beneath, “Don’t have my Sniper rifle.”

Trump, as we’ve seen, is, on the one hand, envious of the positive recognition and the Time magazine “Person Of The Year” cover Greta has received, but also views the prospect of denigrating her as an opportunity to feed more poisoned red meat to his voting base. 

Trump tweet complaining about the positive recognition teenage activist Greta Thunberg has received and whining about how unfair to him that he did not show up on the cover of Time magazine's "Person Of The Year" cover.

E.J. Dickson, writing in Rolling Stone, describes the impetus behind the vicious reaction to Greta:

“In many ways, this argument was an expertly crafted hybrid two of the most common strains of right-wing thought: the paranoia-fueled idea that positive media coverage in any form, particularly of a prominent young woman, is the result of a vast left-wing conspiracy; as well as the cynical belief that anyone who appears to exhibit anything other than Ayn Randian self-interest must be either a propaganda tool, or motivated by less than altruistic principles.”

Which brings me back to the quip from “Samuel” about Thunberg’s voice affecting him like “fingernails on a chalkboard”. While not in agreement with his assessment, I will concede that the sound of a human voice is a matter of subjectivity. Even so, I am impressed with what Greta Thunberg gives voice to … truth.

She articulates with vehemence, the verities relative to the effect of carbon emissions on our eco-systems and the future we’ll contend with if we don’t accelerate the pace of change in sustainable energy and the adoption of science based C02 recovery and capture technology.

The sound of a voice confronting us with substance and realism, combined with passion, has a nice ring to it. 

by Richard Cameron


Thomas Friedman and Impeachment

On the December 15th edition of CBS News 60 Minutes segment, “Point / Counterpoint”, Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon, (ironically the point of origination of the “Steele Dossier” that Trump surrogates falsely assert, came initially from the Clinton campaign) – engaged in a short debate on the question of whether or not Donald J. Trump should be impeached and removed from office. 

Ms. Johnson regurgitated the familiar talking points about undermining the 2016 election (Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes nationwide); “spying” on Trump and his campaign; no evidence, no “due process” and no key witnesses (all of which, Giuliani, Pompeo, Perry and Mulvaney, have been prohibited from testifying by Trump). 

It was Thomas Friedman’s response to these items and her essential question, “Tom, why don’t we adhere to the most important norm of our democratic republic – abiding by elections and their consequences?”, especially the succinct clarity of it that I found remarkable and as yet, unmatched. 

New York Times opinion columnist Thomas L. Friedman:


“Let’s get right to it: President Trump not only should be impeached, he must be impeached, if we’re to preserve America as we’ve known it.

Of course, ideally presidents should be removed by the will of voters through elections. But Eliana, when I hear Trump defenders say impeachment would subvert that process, I say: “Really? What the hell do you think Trump was doing?” He was subverting the will of the people by using our tax dollars to force Ukraine to investigate his most feared opponent, Joe Biden, in the next election, rather than trusting voters to do that.

The only reason the plot was aborted was because a whistleblower drew attention to Trump’s scheme, forcing him to release the money to Ukraine – just before his shakedown was exposed.

Eliana, if you say (as Republicans are) that what Trump did is not impeachable, we are telling ourselves – and every future President – “Hey, it’s OK to enlist a foreign power to tilt the election your way.” Can you imagine how much cash future candidates could raise from Saudi Arabia, or how many cyber warriors they could enlist from Russia, to tilt future elections?

The sanctity of our elections would be shot, and we would never again have a president who, whether or not you liked him or her, was at least seen as legitimately-elected. That is a prescription for chaos.

Eliana, you ask: Why haven’t Democrats subpoenaed key witnesses like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton, and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to testify?

Hello? It’s because Trump barred them from testifying or turning over documents. He wanted to force the Democrats to subpoena all his top aides so they could go to court to resist and then delay everything until past the 2020 elections. It’s called running out the clock.

Luckily, nonpartisan U.S. diplomats and civil servants with integrity stepped up to tell us what happened.

If Trump is so innocent, why doesn’t he order Bolton, Giuliani and Pompeo to testify, to tell the truth? That’s what I’d do if I were innocent. Why does he want his aides who know the most to speak the least?

If we let Trump stonewall Congress like that, without a price, we’d be saying we no longer have three coequal branches of government. Now we just have a king.

We’d be saying the America you grew up loving – the America the world grew up respecting – is no more.

Oh, how we will miss that America when it’s gone.”

Here, is the video clip from the “60 Minutes” segment, introduced by Jane Pauley:


by Richard Cameron

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And wrapping this edition up, is a meme, summing up the contradiction between what Trump tells his rally audiences about climate change and what he actually believes from a bottom line business standpoint:



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