Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest

The sheer arrogance and ignorance of some within the Trump regime, including Trump himself, is astounding, jaw-dropping and mind numbing!  Keep in mind that U.S. foreign policy is in tatters at the moment.  Donald Trump is literally despised by all truly democratic nations and loved only by autocrats and strongmen dictators.  Trump has no idea how to conduct foreign relations.  Well, given that he is on wife #3, and has cheated on her at least twice that we’re aware of, I think it’s safe to say he has no idea how to conduct relations.  Period.  However, that doesn’t stop him from sticking his nose into others’ business and telling them how to run their countries.  Three examples in the news just this week …


Dumb

For starters, we have Richard Grenell back in the news.  You may remember the post I did about him last June when he first went to Germany as the Ambassador from the United States.  Grenell is a former Fox ‘News’ commentator, which should tell you something.  When he first arrived in Germany, he made a fool of himself by criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel on just about every and any issue he could think of, including immigration.

grenell

Richard Grenell

Grenell is back in the news this week, and at least one German lawmaker is calling for his expulsion, saying he is acting like “a high commissioner of an occupying power.”  In his remarks, Grenell criticized the budget of Germany’s finance minister and said it was unacceptable that the country was once again going to miss its NATO defense spending target.

This is not the role of a diplomat and in fact flies in the face of the very definition of the word ‘diplomacy’!  I hope Germany does send him packing, for he is further damaging relations between the U.S. and Germany that Trump has already rent with his frequent criticisms of Ms. Merkel.  Imagine if Pete Wittig, Germany’s ambassador to the U.S. tried to tell Trump that, say, he is wrong to declare a state of national emergency just to rob the U.S. of funds to build his ego wall.  Trump would expel him in about 2 seconds flat, right?


Dumber

Then there was Trump himself, who in all his narcissistic arrogance offered President Macron an unsolicited lecture.

“How is the Paris Environmental Accord working out for France? After 18 weeks of rioting by the Yellow Vest Protesters, I guess not so well!”

After similar comments by Trump last December, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian appropriately said …

“We do not take domestic American politics into account, and we want that to be reciprocated. I say this to Donald Trump, and the French president says it, too: Leave our nation be.”

It seems to me that Trump’s own nation is in worse shape under his reign than those nations he chooses to criticize and condemn.  Perhaps he should clean up his own house first.


Dumbest

And finally, the very definition of ignominy, is Don Trump, Jr.

Don Trump, Jr., who has proven more than a few times that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and he is truly as much of an idiot as his father, had the unmitigated gall to criticize UK Prime Minister Theresa May for her handling of Brexit.  He went so far as to actually write an OpEd piece published in Britain’s The Telegraph, chastising May … taking her to task for not following the advice of his father! It would be funny, except it isn’t.  He claims that …

“… and ultimately, a process that should have taken only a few short months has become a years-long stalemate.”

A ‘few short months’???  And he knows this because …???  Junior’s international experiences are limited to colluding with the Russians to get his father elected and murdering wild animals in Africa! don-trump-junior.pngTrump the Younger went on to inform the land of the Magna Carta, John Locke and Oliver Cromwell that, in his “expert” view, “democracy in the U.K. is all but dead.”  Say WHAT???  Savvy readers will note that it is the U.S. where democracy is ‘all but dead’ and his father is the very one to have pulled the trigger!  This is simply beyond words … this young idiot, this “chip off the old block”, this killer of beautiful animals … has the nerve to give his unsolicited and unwanted opinion on a topic of which he knows nothing!  Junior has no role in our government, is not a member of the cabinet nor the administration … why does he even speak???  My apologies to all my friends in the UK for this abomination … and his father.


Never before has a United States president acted with such reckless abandon, seemingly intent on destroying every relationship the U.S. has worked toward building since it’s founding.  Never before has a president’s family member taken it upon himself to stick his nose into the business of our allies.  Never before has a madman taken the helm, determined to plow into the largest iceberg he can find at warp speed.  To all our allies, on behalf of We the People, I apologize for the terrible behaviour of the ‘man’ in the White House, his family members and appointees, and hope you will bear with us until we are able to rectify this situation.

Shame On You, Donald Trump …

Once again, I find myself wanting to apologize for our ignorant, crude, ignominious, arrogant, brash, narcissistic so-called ‘president’ after he made a fool of not only himself, but of us all, when he was mistakenly allowed to travel to the EU over the weekend.  To all my friends & family across the pond … please forgive us for sending him, for we knew not what we were doing.

The occasion, for any who may not know, was to honour those who died in World War I on the 100th anniversary of the end of that war.  It was a solemn occasion, a time to set aside differences and come together to remember …

Trump started his trail of terror before even leaving Air Force One, when he tweeted an attempted insult toward Emmanuel Macron, President (in good standing) of France.  But it got worse.  His alleged purpose for traveling to Paris on Friday was to attend ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  The reality, as is always the case with Trump, was something else altogether, but that was his stated purpose.  But guess what?  It rained.Trump-rain-WWIIt rained.  Trump was afraid of a little bit of water.  I’ve often said I don’t think he bathes regularly, and this proves it!  All the other leaders who had gathered in Paris for the occasion attended …Prince Harry rainAngela Merkel braved the elements, as did Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Prince Harry, Spain’s King Felipe VI … even Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin found time to attend, despite the rain.  Trump later claimed that the only reason he didn’t attend was that his motorcade would have disrupted roads.  SO WALK, YOU F***ING MORON!!!

General John Kelly and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General Joe Dunford attended instead – apparently they didn’t need a ‘motorcade’. France WWI Centennial

Representative Don Beyer of Virginia hit the nail on the head:

“Millions died to protect the free world during WWI, and Trump can’t be bothered to honor their memories. Instead, he’s chosen to sit in a hotel and live-tweet Fox News. Just imagine if President Obama sat out a Veterans Day ceremony because of the rain …”

Just imagine, indeed.  But then, President Obama was … well, you know … African-American, and thus his every move was placed under a strong microscope and picked apart like the Christmas turkey.  Trump, on the other hand, is ugly white with layers of fat, acne, and a bad toupee, so he can do no wrong!  (Yeah, I’m pissed – what tipped you off?)

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.” – David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush

Even Winston Churchill’s grandson, British Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, joined in the rebuke, saying, “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen,” and adding that Trump is “not fit to represent his great country.”

“President@realDonaldTrump a no-show because of raindrops? Those veterans the president didn’t bother to honor fought in the rain, in the mud, in the snow — & many died in trenches for the cause of freedom. Rain didn’t stop them & it shouldn’t have stopped an American president.” – John Kerry, Vietnam War veteran and former Secretary of State

Macron-MerkelHowever, the best rebuke came from none other than French President Emmanuel Macron in this one sentence that is bound to become iconic …

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying ‘our interests first, who cares about the others’, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.”

Ooooohhhh … good one, Mr. Macron!!!  And then he went on …

“I do defend my country. I do believe that we have a strong identity. But I’m a strong believer in cooperation between the different peoples, and I’m a strong believer of the fact that this cooperation is good for everybody, where the nationalists are sometimes much more based on a unilateral approach and the law of the strongest, which is not my case.”

But at the end of the day, Trump did manage to find time for one world leader … his ol’ buddy …trump-putinPerhaps this, then, was his sole reason for spending millions of taxpayer dollars to travel abroad for the weekend?  Or perhaps it was to seek a relief from the heat of last week’s mid-term elections?  Either way, he once again wasted huge amounts of our money in order to do nothing more than embarrass us.  Shame on you, Donald Trump … Shame on you.

A Dose of Snark …

I haven’t done any ‘Snarky Snippets’ for a week or so, for the elections and the surrounding detritus have taken up a large portion of my time and energies.  But today, I am settling back in and had a few things to say about this ‘n that.


fires-2California is currently suffering three major wildfires, one of which, the Camp Fire, is now the most destructive recorded in state history. The blaze destroyed the entire town of Paradise, north of Sacramento, and has killed at least nine people. About three dozen more remain missing.

Donald Trump had nary a word to say about the fires until 3:00 a.m. yesterday morning, when he tweeted …trump-tweet-fires.pngWhat a guy, eh?  So caring, kind and compassionate for the people who have lost loved ones, lost their homes and businesses …  But, setting aside his typical inhumanity for the moment, with his words he has, once again, shown his ignorance.  He did not bother to do his homework, to attempt to learn something about the situation before spouting off at the thumbs.fires-1Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has acknowledged that a downed power line is most likely the cause of the Camp Fire, although no official cause has yet been announced.  High winds are the major factor in the rapid spread of the other two fires, and overall, a lack of rainfall contributed to all three.fires-3I’m sure the people of California, not to mention the firefighters who are risking their lives to try to save lives and property, must be heartened by and appreciative of Trump’s words … not!  Think before you tweet should become his new mantra and somebody in his administration should plaster it over all the walls in his office and living quarters!


Either Trump’s handlers have not learned their lesson, or they are not up for the job and we need to hire new handlers, aka babysitters.  I would have thought that by now they would have learned not to let the man leave the country.  He does not play well with others. He does enough damage here at home, but every single time he has traveled abroad, he has further damaged our relations with our allies.  Friday was no exception.Trump-MacronTrump arrived in France Friday to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I and meet with world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron. Moments after landing, Trump tweeted an attack on Macron …trump-tweet-macron.png

Given the level of venom Trump has directed toward European leaders in the past, who can blame members of the EU for feeling a need for protection, even against the U.S.?  Yet another case where “think before you tweet” might have been sound advice.


Remember a week or so ago, right before the mid-term elections, when Trump was so scared of his party losing their majority in the House that he was grasping at straws, trying to inject a new level of fear in voters in hopes of winning their votes?  And remember how, as a part of all that, he sent U.S. troops to the southern border, claiming that the caravan of migrants that was, at that time, some 1,000 miles away, was just filled with ruffians, criminals and even … gasp … Middle-Eastern terrorists!!!  And the whole thing, he claimed, was funded by George Soros and his band of merry democrats!

Well, everything was a huge lie, except that he did send troops to the border.  No reason, really, but he couldn’t very well claim there was an impending “invasion” without looking tough by sending troops, now could he?  Besides which, the ‘man’ has been dying to play with his new toys (the military) for nigh on two years now, and here was the perfect trumped-up (pun intended) excuse!

playing cardsOnly thing is … while there is a migrant caravan, it is not anything but poor, starving migrants fleeing the violence in their own country, trying to protect their innocent children.  And they won’t even arrive at our southern border until sometime in December.  So … what’s going on now with the nearly 6,000 men and women who were ordered to go down there and quell the “invasion”?  Gin rummy.  Poker.  Sitting ‘round a campfire telling dirty jokes.  No electricity.  Won’t be home for Thanksgiving.

Pentagon officials privately derided the deployment as an expensive waste of time and resources, and a morale killer to boot.  ‘Privately’ … I guess they are all afraid to do their jobs and advise their commander of the realities.  But the other thing is … guess who’s paying for all this and guess how much it’s costing?  Yes, my friends, you and I are paying for it, even though we neither need nor want it.  As to the cost … a final cost estimate of the deployment has not been made available. But Defense Department budget officials say that if the number of troops sent to the border does reach the 15,000 Trump has threatened, the price tag could hit $200 million, with no specific budget allocation from which to draw.  Remember those “tax cuts” that only benefited the wealthy 1%?  Do the math.


So concludes today’s batch of snarky snippets … but I still have more in me, so … stay tuned!

More Snarky Snippets …

Today finds me with an overload of snarkiness and far more to do than time in which to do it, so I thought it a perfect day for some snarky snippets!


He found one!

Mark this day on your calendar, folks, for today, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, stood up for a moment from his never-ending boot-licking and denied one of Donald Trump’s conspiracy illusions!  Well … sort of, anyway.

Paul Ryan“Normally I don’t like to comment on classified briefings. Let me say it this way: I think Chairman Gowdy’s initial assessment is accurate. I think — but we have some more digging to do. We’re waiting for some more document requests. We have some more documents to review. We still have some unanswered questions. But I have seen no evidence to the contrary of the initial assessment that Chairman Gowdy has made. But I want to make sure that we run every lead down and make sure we get final answers to these questions. I’ll leave it at that.”

In case you’ve forgotten what Representative Trey Gowdy said last week, he said that, “the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do” in investigating information alleging certain Trump campaign advisers had suspicious ties to Russia, “and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.”

Ryan also responded to a question about whether Trump would be able to pardon himself, the hot topic of the week, to which he said, “I don’t know the technical answer to that question. But I think obviously the answer is, he shouldn’t and no one is above the law.”

Seeing one of Trump’s sycophants turn, even so slightly, almost brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?  Of course, Ryan has nothing to lose, for he is not running for re-election in November, so one might question why it took him so long to find a cojone.


Throw the bum out!

You all remember the Brock Turner case, right?  Brock was the Stanford University student who, back in 2016 was convicted of three felonies for sexual assault and rape against an unconscious woman on campus.  Despite the seriousness of his crime, and despite three felony convictions, the judge gave Turner a slap on the wrist.  Though the minimum sentence was to have been two years, Judge Aaron Persky gave him a six-month sentence, of which he served only three months.  There was speculation at the time that perhaps some money had exchanged hands between Turner’s wealthy father and the good judge.

perskyWell, yesterday, Judge Persky became the first judge to be recalled in California in more than 80 years!  He had four years left in his term, but voters decided they had enough of him.  A recall campaign began almost immediately after Persky handed down the sentence, and was able to garner enough signatures to put the matter on yesterday’s ballot.  I see this as a win, although I also understand the concerns of some who fear it will send a message to judges who will be more hesitant to grant leniency even where leniency would be appropriate.  Now if only they could find a way to stick Brock Turner back in jail for another year or two …


Like a sausage?

I like President Emmanuel Macron of France.  He is intelligent, charismatic, and has his heart in the right place.  I did not like the way he cozied up to Trump during his last visit here, but I don’t think that will be happening again any time soon!  Macron is none too happy with Trump over the ridiculous tariffs Trump imposed last week on nearly every one of our allies.  In fact, nobody except Trump and his sycophants are finding any joy.  But I do believe that one can safely assume the bromance is over when Macron compared his most recent phone call with Trump to sausages, saying it’s best not to know what’s inside.macron-trump-sausage

“As Bismarck used to say, if we explained to people how sausages were made, it’s unlikely they’d keep eating them.”

It is said that the call was “terrible”.  I do hope somebody puts Trump in his place soon, before we have no friends left.


Trump’s new advisor?

We have seen just how little Trump listens to the few experienced advisors he actually has, preferring instead to listen to the likes of Sean Hannity over at FOX.  But I think he has found a new advisor, one who is similar in nature to his former favourite Hope Hicks, and also to Kellyanne.  Last week, after Trump got on his pardoning rocking horse and started issuing pardons to bigots and bimbos, he was paid a visit by one of those Kardashian people, asking him to commute the life sentence of one Alice Marie Johnson.

Now, if I requested an audience with Trump (which I would never do, for fear of contracting a fatal illness) to discuss, say, making student loans affordable, or protecting wildlife and the environment, I would be laughed off the continent.  But let some entertainer who has acquired wealth not by use of any brain cells, but rather by the shape of his/her body ask for an audience, and the door is always open.

Bottom line is that today, at the behest of the Kardashian person, Trump commuted the life sentence of Ms. Johnson.  I make no judgement as to whether she should have remained in prison or not, for I haven’t time to delve into the details – some of us use our heads for more important matters.  But the point is that Trump did exactly what he was asked by this Kardashian person, whereas he does not take the advice of people with brains who have decades of experience.  If General Mattis had asked him to pardon Ms. Johnson, she would still be sitting in her cell.  It is said that Trump is considering many more pardons … I wonder if the Kardashian people will provide him a list?

I wonder if there is a way to use this knowledge to the advantage of the nation?  Perhaps a Kardashian person could be planted to convince Trump to fire Scott Pruitt?


Oh … and by the way … Melania Trump seems to have been found, if anybody cared.

And thus ends my Snarky Snippets for today.  I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.snarky-toon

More Rambling Bits ‘N Bits ‘N Pieces

Mind bounce has returned and brought about a strange rattling noise in my head, as well as a popping in the ears, and a swirling sensation when I stand.  And so, this morning I must start your day with a few random bits ‘n pieces from that strange place inside my head.


And the question is …

This week, we learned what questions Robert Mueller plans to ask Donald Trump if Trump consents to an interview (a matter in which he may have no choice).  The questions, along with an analysis of what they may indicate, can be found in the New York Times article titled, The Questions Mueller Wants to Ask Trump About Obstruction, and What They Mean.  The reason we know what these questions are is that they were leaked, not by anyone on Mueller’s team, but by somebody with connections to Trump’s own legal team.  Trump, of course, is blathering that the leak was ‘disgraceful’ … he seems to like to use that word quite a lot, doesn’t he?  Perhaps it’s because he looks in the mirror first thing every morning.

I am, for the moment, veering away from saying much about the questions or likely answers.  Why?  Because … think about this one, folks.  What difference does it really make?  Do you honestly think that Donald Trump will tell the truth if he is interviewed?  Seriously?  Do you think he is even capable of telling the truth.  Why, I could write answers to those questions right now that would come as close to the truth as anything that will emit from Trump’s foul mouth!  But, he’ll be under oath, you say?  So?  He was also under oath on 20 January 2017 when he said, “I, Donald  John Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” And by the end of the day, he would already have broken that oath.

Oaths, promises and truth mean nothing to people like Trump. I support and applaud Robert Mueller for his organization, persistence and determination to get at the truth.  But the only way he will get the truth from Donald Trump will be if he connects him to a polygraph machine, and we all know that isn’t going to happen.  So again, why even bother?


A slight bit of humour …

French President Emmanuel Macron visited Australia for talks on trade and regional security yesterday.  At the end of a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Macron said …

“I want to thank you for your welcome. Thank you and your delicious wife for your warm welcome.”

Rather reminds me of the time in 1963 when a line from President John F. Kennedy’s speech in Berlin was translated as “I am a jelly donut”.

Thought you needed a bit of a chuckle.  Moving on …


Classless, Tasteless … Abominable …

Kemp.pngMeet Brian Kemp, currently Georgia’s Secretary of State, but running for Governor of that state in November. Mr. Kemp likes his guns.  I ask you to watch the following 30-second ad he is currently airing and tell me what you think …

I am betting that you are as appalled as I am. In a tweet last week, he wrote …

“I’m a conservative businessman with a 4-Point Plan to put hardworking Georgians first. I’m also the proud father of 3 teenage girls. Here’s the thing: If you want to date one of my daughters, you better have respect for women & a healthy appreciation for the 2nd Amendment.”

This sets my teeth on edge and sends a chill down my spine.  While many were appalled, even a number of gun owners, others saw nothing amiss, calling it ‘hilarious’ and ‘clever’ …

“A politician who doesn’t feel the need to do things the ‘politically correct’ way and stands for his beliefs, despite knowing that masses of our soft society will be offended. I’m sold!”

“Great commercial. Mockingly blasts through today’s hyper-PC nonsense.”

What have we become?

Pooh-sad


AHA!!!  Gotcha!!!

giulianiLast month, it was announced that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani would be joining Trump’s chaotic legal team, after the departure of John Dowd in March.  I once respected Giuliani.  I have not ever since he sold his soul for the chance to lick the boots of Donald Trump.  When the announcement was made, Trump said …

“Rudy is great. He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country.”

‘This matter’, of course, referred to the investigation by Robert Mueller and his team.  Giuliani himself said that he felt the investigation could possibly be closed within a couple of weeks.

Now, remember how Donald Trump and his lawyer/fixer, Michael Cohen both tried to claim that the $130,000 paid to porn star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about her affair with Trump in October 2016 was paid by Cohen and that Trump had no knowledge of said payment?  Well, guess what, folks?  Methinks somebody is not telling the truth.  GASP!!!

Rudy Giuliani appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show last night where he plainly stated, for all the world to hear, that Donald Trump reimbursed Mr. Cohen the $130,000.  He said it and then, when questioned by Hannity, he repeated it!!! And when Hannity seemed to be trying to help Rudy out of this situation, Rudy emphatically stated it again!  I am eager to see Trump wiggle his fat patootie out of this one, aren’t you?

Cobb-Flood

Ty Cobb & Emmet Flood

Oh, and by the way … in case you hadn’t heard, another rat jumped ship yesterday.  Ty Cobb, the Trump attorney who had been working closest with Robert Mueller’s investigation, resigned.  No surprise there.  He has been replaced by Emmet Flood.  Now what’s interesting about this is that Flood was the attorney who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial.  Hmmmm …  🤔 … could it be that Donnie is beginning to see the handwriting on the wall?


Well, folks, that’s all I have for the moment, but stay tuned, for I’m sure to be back with more later on.

Two Western Leaders came to Washington

Last week, the U.S. hosted the leaders of France and Germany. Our friend Keith has written an excellent post, assessing those visits and how different the current U.S. policies are from those of Macron & Merkel. Please take a few minutes to read and think about the direction we are heading, as opposed to most of the rest of the Western nations. Thank you, Keith, for this thoughtful post.

musingsofanoldfart

Last week, the two leaders of the western world met with the US President, who has ceded the US role in the world. Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, and Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany visited with Donald Trump.

Of course, the US has the most powerful military in the world. We’d better as we spend far more than other countries. Yet, with our pulling back on diplomacy and the number of diplomats, with our imposition of tariffs on even our allies, with our retrenching from global agreements and with an unprecedented level of untruthfulness, we have ceded our global leadership role to China, overall, and Germany and France in the western world. And, while the UK remains important and formidable, I am sad to say Brexit will precipitate its decline from these ranks.

Macron and Merkel beseeched the US President to remain in the Iran Nuclear deal signed…

View original post 394 more words

The ‘Grown-ups’ Speak???

While Trump and the bulk of his minions communicate their madness via Twitter, last week (30 May), two of his advisors decided to play at a more ‘grown-up’ table and communicate via an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Presumably, either they do not have twitting machines, do not like the constraints of speaking in 140-character spurts, or wanted to ensure that their audience was intelligent enough to actually read.  Either way …

McMaster

H.R. McMaster

When H.R. McMaster was confirmed on 15 March to fill the position of National Security Advisor, a position recently vacated by Michael Flynn who had resigned in shame, I knew little about McMaster.  However, my research led me to believe that he would be a good fit for the position, and had the backbone to do what he believed was right, rather than simply following Trump into the pits of hell. Today, I no longer believe that.

At the end of Trump’s fateful nine-day tour to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe last month, it was obvious to most sensible observers both in the US and the EU that Trump had ceded all rights for the US to be called the leader of the free world any longer.  We held the title since 1945 and though there have been many disagreements among western nations during that time, the US has never stepped away from the responsibilities that accompany that designation.  Until last month.

Those of us who are capable of thinking more globally were appalled and deeply shamed when he cuddled with Saudi Arabia, one of our chief antagonists, while berating our friends.  Further shame came when he rudely shoved the Prime Minister of Montenegro aside during a NATO photo shoot.  And then he refused to commit to NATO Article 5 that calls for mutual defense of NATO nations in the event any one is attacked.  This, despite the fact that such language was in his prepared speech that had been approved by national security advisors. And then, the final blow, his announcement that he intends to retract the US’ commitment to the Paris Accords on climate change.

When General McMaster and chief economic advisor Gary Cohn wrote a joint op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, they undertook to mitigate some of the damage Trump caused during his overseas jaunt.  They failed miserably.

According to McMaster and Cohn, the presidential trip was nothing less than “historic” and represents a “strategic shift”: “America First signals the restoration of American leadership … to enhance American security, promote American prosperity, and extend American influence around the world.” In sum: America First means America First, and not just in America, but everywhere on the globe. It is akin to me saying that I am the head, not only of my own household, but of yours, also.

The US is one of 195 or 196 nations on the globe.  Nobody died and left us boss of the world.  It is no surprise that Donald Trump entertains such delusions … we already knew that.  But it is not only a surprise, but also a major disappointment to find that H.R. McMaster, who we all hoped would bring a bit of oversight into the administration, is also a party to these delusions.

McMaster and Cohn continue …

“The world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations … engage and compete. …Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.” Translation: Might Makes Right.

“In Saudi Arabia, President Trump helped facilitate $110 billion in defense investments that will strengthen regional and American security and create American jobs.” Turns out this is not exactly true, but that is a topic unto itself.

“We are asking a lot of our allies and partners. But in return America will once again be a true friend to our partners and the worst foe to our enemies.”  Our allies are smarter than McMaster/Cohn give them credit for.

I seriously doubt that either McMaster or Cohn actually wrote the op-ed  but since their names are on it, they approved it and the words are theirs, whether they created them or not.  (If you cannot view the op-ed on the WSJ site, let me know and I will email you a transcript) 

No, Mr. McMaster and Mr. Cohn … Trump’s trip abroad was neither historic, at least in the traditional sense, nor was it a success.  It was a disastrous journey that set us back more than 70 years and stripped us of any right to be considered the ‘leader of the free world’.  The most likely candidates for that title are now Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, both of whom have shown compassion, intellect, and good sense. And with your defense of Trump’s words and deeds, you have cost yourselves whatever respect the thinking public may have had for you.

On The U.S. Withdrawal From Paris Accord – Part I

Mr. Donald Trump has just made what is arguably the worst decision of his short, yet too-long, presidency.  He has announced that he will withdraw the United States from the Paris Accords.  He has decided that there will be ZERO commitment from the United States to control and reverse the lethal effects of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  He has, in essence, announced that the United States will do absolutely nothing to save the planet on which we live.  But wait … it is even worse than that.  Mr. Donald Trump, the man who swore his goal was to “make America safe again”, has just made a decision that erodes our national security.  Mr. Donald Trump is a fool and an imbecile.

There are many angles that need to be considered, and to do so in a single post would be unwieldy, at best, indigestible for certain.  This post is Part I, and there will be at least one more, possibly two in the coming days.  To some extent, I want to put some time and distance between the announcement and my writing, because there will be fallout over the next few days that may affect what I write.  But for today, I am addressing some general thoughts and reactions from others here in the U.S.

There are 196 or 195 countries on this globe, depending on how you feel about Taiwan.  Of these, all but two, Nicaragua and Syria, signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.  Donald Trump brings that number to 3 … we are now aligned only with Nicaragua and Syria on the most important issue of the century!  And do you know WHY Trump made this disastrous decision?  There may be a subset of reasons, most having to do with his uber-rich friends in the fossil fuel and auto industries, but the main reason … the driving force behind his decision … is that he is pulling out of the Paris Accords simply because our last president, the one with a brain in his skull, signed it in 2015.  That’s right, folks … Trump promised his supporters that he would erase all signs that President Obama ever existed, thus if President Obama’s name is on it, it must go. A fourth-grade playground mentality has no place in the world of international relations and governance.  Go, Trump … go back to your playground with your filthy rich, hedonistic friends, and get out of our lives.

The U.S. is the world’s second largest contributor to carbon emissions, second only to China, and the highest contributor per capita on the globe.  We put more harmful filth into the environment, doing more than our share to destroy the planet, but we are unwilling to do any part to help correct the problem.

I firmly believe that none other than Steven K. Bannon was the driving force behind this decision.  Remember Bannon’s comment when talking to a New York University academic?

“I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Well, who knew that he also meant to destroy the very environment upon which we must depend for our lives?

Trump considers himself to be the ultimate deal-maker, as he wrote in his first published book, The Art of the Deal.  So, in his announcement this afternoon, he said that he intends to negotiate a new “fair” deal that would not disadvantage US businesses and workers.

“In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord… but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States. So we’re getting out but we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.”

Less than two hours after his announcement, French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump in a phone call that the Paris climate deal could not be renegotiated and that while France would continue to work with Washington, it would no longer discuss climate issues with the United States.  I suspect the rest of the western nations will respond similarly.  It is either/or, all or nothing at all.  This is not a business deal, not a child’s game.  This is the very life of our planet and it is far too serious to allow Trump, the man with no values, to call the shots.

The line “In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America …” is an extreme oxymoron.  With his words, his actions today and also last week in Brussels and Italy, what he has actually accomplished is to make the U.S. far more vulnerable.  When Trump refused to affirm our commitment to Article 5 at the NATO conference last week, he created a huge rift between us and our allies.  Article 5 stipulates that the G7 countries will come to the aid of any other G7 country that is attacked by a foreign entity.  Trump would not make that commitment, choosing instead to berate the other nations and claim that they “owed” money to the U.S.  Nothing could be further from the truth, but then, when has truth ever mattered to Donald Trump?  According to Foreign Policy magazine, it was an attack against all of NATO. The one thing that should be obvious to even the least enlightened citizen is that if we will not commit to help our allies in their time of need, how can we reasonably expect them to come to our aid?

And now that he has announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Accords, he has just driven another nail, perhaps ultimately the final nail, into the coffin.  Let us take a look at some reactions from the home front.

Two groups notably applauded Trump’s announcement:  the coal lobby, whose spokesman said, “We support President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement. The previous administration volunteered to meet one of the most stringent goals of any country in the world, while many other countries do far less to reduce their emissions. Meeting President Obama’s goal would have led to more regulations, higher energy prices, and dependence on less reliable energy sources.”  (It should be noted that many of those ‘other countries’ are underdeveloped nations who put very little carbon into the atmosphere.) What they fail to understand, apparently, is that the coal industry is one in death throes with or without the Paris Accords. The other group to support the move was, of course, those die-hard Trump supporters who long ago traded their brain for a box of Cracker Jacks.

“I’m celebrating, he’s saved jobs and businesses,” James in Virginia

“It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on,” said Will.

“I think it was a bad deal in the first place,” said Cathy.

Marta in Texas said she wasn’t too familiar with the accord, but was “fed up” of environmental groups, which she views as “exclusive clubs”.

By leaving the Paris Accord, President Trump has unraveled another thread of Barack Obama’s legacy, and that’s another reason many of his supporters are celebrating.

And of course, lapdog Pence said, “The American people & the wider world will see once again – our President is choosing to put American jobs and American workers first.”

More encouraging, however, were responses from the mayors of 61 cities around the US who have joined together to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris agreement. In an open letter, the mayors – representing 36 million people from Arkansas to Vermont – promised to “intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy.  The world cannot wait  – and neither will we.” 

And … The governors of Washington state, New York and California have announced the formation of the “United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene US states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change”. They said they are “committed to achieving the US goal of reducing emissions 26-28% from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.” California Governor Jerry Brown told the BBC earlier this week he would now work with China on the issue.

Trump has made the worst decision of his term to date.  However, a large portion of our population are firmly convinced of the dangers of climate change and that we need to take immediate action.  I believe that in many areas, such as renewable energy sources, we are past the point that Trump has much leverage.  However, what he has done to our alliances is another story, and one that I will address soon.

Da Trump’s First G-7 Summit … Uh-Oh!!!

At the end of his trounce through the Middle East and Europe, which I wrote about last week, Donald Trump finished the week by attending the G-7 conference. As I said in my earlier post, Trump should never have been allowed out of the White House, let alone to attend such important meetings as NATO and the G-7.

A bit about the G-7:

The G-7, Group of Seven, is a group of leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the United States. A very high net national wealth and a very high Human Development Index are the main requirements to be a member of this group. The G-7 countries also represent 46% of the global GDP. The organization was founded to facilitate shared macroeconomic initiatives by its members in response to the collapse of the exchange rate 1971, during the time of the Nixon Shock, the 1970s energy crisis and the ensuing recession. Its goal was fine tuning of short term economic policies among participant countries to monitor developments in the world economy and assess economic policies. They meet between two and four times a year, and since 2005 the G-7 countries have recognized the threat of climate change and the need for a global agreement to address the issue. More recently, they have also addressed the refugee/migrant crisis and food security issues.

This year’s G-7 was held in Sicily, and it was Trump’s first experience with this type of conference.  I can only hope it will be his last and that some other president will attend the next, as he made a shambles of what should have, could have, been an opportunity for the U.S. to reassure our allies of our cooperation.

Three major issues were on the agenda for the G-7 leaders this week:  trade, climate change, and the refugee crisis.

Climate change:

The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan all signed a pledge supporting the 195-nation Paris climate deal Saturday.  Donald Trump did not sign, stating instead that he would “make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!”  While not a surprise, given the backward stance he has taken since his inauguration, it is unconscionable.  195 nations have placed their faith in science and in each other in a cooperative agreement to reduce carbon emissions, yet one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world refused.  Trump has previously called global warming a hoax, and came under concerted pressure from the other leaders to honor the 2015 Paris Agreement on curbing carbon emissions.

His apparent reluctance to embrace the first-ever legally binding global climate deal that was signed by 195 countries clearly annoyed German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said, “The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying. There are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not.”  France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, however, shoes to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, saying he was sure Trump, who he praised as “pragmatist”, would back the deal having listened to his G7 counterparts.  He’s the new kid, so I suppose he has to try to be nice.

Trade issues:

Trump was somewhat more cooperative on trade issues.  After his bluster on the campaign trail in which he threatened unilateral tariffs on Mexican and Chinese goods and said he would quit the North American Free Trade agreement unless it was renegotiated to his liking, expectations of cooperation were low. Earlier this week he called Germany “very bad” on trade because of its U.S. surplus. But he did agree at the G-7 to language in the final G7 communique that pledged “to fight all forms of protectionism” and committed to a rules-based international trade system. Of course whether he follows through with that pledge remains to be seen.

Refugee crisis and migration:

Italy had taken the lead on migration and the refugee crisis, and had prepared a comprehensive five-page statement that acknowledges migrants’ rights, the factors driving refugees and their positive contribution. It was hoped that the summit would end on Saturday with a bold statement that the world, and not just individual nations, had a responsibility for the refugee crisis. The Italian plans – one on human movement and another on food security – were set to be the centerpiece of its summit diplomacy.

However, Trump’s negotiators brought a new brief text of the final communique to a pre-meeting of the G7 on 26 April and said they were vetoing the Italian “human mobility” plan, which had been the subject of careful negotiation for months. I’m not quite sure who died and left Trump in charge, but he obviously assumed that his was the only opinion that counted.  The new text, offered by the US on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, acknowledges the human rights of migrants, but affirms “the sovereign rights of states to control their own borders and set clear limits on net migration levels as key elements of their national security”. It should be noted that more than 1.300 refugees have drowned already this year attempting to make the journey from north Africa.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel returned to Germany on Saturday night and said to her countrymen:

“The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are somewhat over. This is what I experienced in the last few days.”

This comes as no surprise after the disastrous results of the NATO meeting where Trump refused to sign Article 5, the agreement for the member nations to come to the aid of each other if one is attacked.  And then to fail to agree to uphold the Paris climate accord, and severely restrict the migration plan during the G-7 summit, shows a complete lack of desire to cooperate with our friends and allies.  NATO and the other G-7 nations will do what they need to do, with or without Donald Trump.  They will ultimately become stronger and more self-sufficient.  They are not the losers in this … we are.

golf-cart.jpgIn addition to his lack of cooperation, he provided even more cause for embarrassment. All other leaders attending the G-7 summit walked 700 yards to take a group photo at a piazza in a hilltop town. The U.S. leader decided to wait until he could get a golf cart. For perspective, 700 yards is less than 4/10 of a mile.  Less than ½ mile, and he refused to walk with the others.  Look at the man … a bit of a walk certainly wouldn’t hurt him!  He arrived late, and the others had to wait for him to be included in the photo.

All in all, as I said in my post of May 26th, Trump’s trip abroad was a disaster from the standpoint of our allies, a success in the eyes of our adversaries, and Trump himself brags “I think we hit a home run no matter where we are.” Believe me, this was a strike out, not a home run.

Vive La France!!!

Tonight I am pleased … almost giddy, as it were!  The French exhibited great common sense and showed Ms. Marine LePen the door, electing Emmanuel Macron by a decisive margin … 66% to 34%, according to the Guardian.  This despite Putin’s efforts to rig the election in favour of LePen, as he did for Trump in the U.S. election last year.

French elections-2Macron’s victory speech was somber and gracious.  He said he accepted that many had voted for him even though they disagreed with his programme to “defend the republic against extremism”. When he mentioned those who had voted for Marine Le Pen, there were boos and whistles from the crowd. “No, don’t whistle them. They have expressed today their anger and dismay – and sometimes convictions. I respect that. But I will do everything I can in the next five years so there is no reason to vote for extremes. Tonight, there is only the reunited people of France. The world is watching us. Europe and the world. I will serve you with love.”

macron-3The man has class.  Mssr. Macron understands the divide the populist movement has wrought upon his nation and I believe he plans to do everything in his power to help heal that divide.  He said he was speaking to all of France’s citizens, not just those who had voted for him. His primary task over the coming five years, he added, was to “calm people’s fears, restore France’s confidence, and gather all its people together to face the immense challenges that face us”.

Unfortunately, on the other side of the channel, they were not so gracious about Macron’s win.  Had LePen won, it was likely that she would have advocated for France leaving the European Union, a Frexit, if you will.  Britain’s own Nigel Farage had set up a group to advocate for just such an eventuality, and that group was more than a little put out, apparently, by the results of yesterday’s election.  A tweet from the group read that that the French people had once again “rolled over” just as they had done in 1940 – except this time they saved Germany “the bullets and the fuel”.  Farage himself got in on the act, tweeting: “A giant deceit has been voted for today. Macron will be Juncker’s puppet.” 

Hillary Clinton, having herself been the victim of Putin’s election interference, tweeted this:

“Victory for Macron, for France, the EU, & the world. Defeat to those interfering w/democracy. (But the media says I can’t talk about that) 4:32 PM – 7 May 2017”

Donald Trump, who had supported LePen, saying she was “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France”, congratulated Macron and said he looks forward to working with him.  Theresa May of the UK said, “we look forward to working with the new president on a wide range of shared priorities”.  The aforementioned Nigel Farage tweeted, “@EmmanuelMacron offers 5 more years of failure, power to the EU and open borders. If @MLP_officiel sticks in there, she can win in 2022.”

Reactions from other world leaders:

  • “Your victory is a victory for a strong united Europe and for the Franco-German friendship.” – Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

  • Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, said the result made him “… happy that the ideas that you defended of a strong and progressive Europe that protects all its citizens will be those that France will cherish under your presidency”.

  • Guy Verhofstadt, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said: “We supported him from the very start. I am relieved by his defeat of demagoguery and populism. I am also proud of his commitment to a social, liberal European project.”

  • “The citizens of France entrusted you to lead the country in a difficult period for Europe and for the entire world community. The growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism is accompanied by an escalation of local conflicts and the destabilisation of entire regions. In these condition it is especially important to overcome mutual distrust and join forces to ensure international stability and security.” – Vladimir Putin, Russian President

Predictably, there were the naysayers, primarily in the ranks of LePen’s supporters, some responding with vitriol, mocking Macron’s wife, his platform, and whatever else they could think of, but that, I am coming to realize, is the mentality of the masses and exists in every venue.  Overall, I think the western world had been holding its collective breath, and yesterday breathed a sigh of profound relief.  I know I did.  Vive la France!

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