Snippy Snarkets … Er… Snarky Snippets!

There is so much on my mind that needs venting that I didn’t know where to start, so you know when that happens I have to unload some of it in a round of snark snippets, yes?

He should have been locked in his room …

Every time little Donnie is allowed out to play with the other kids, I get nervous.  Last year at the G7 summit he embarrassed us all by suggesting that Russia, who was ousted in 2014 from what was once the G8 for their forcible annexation of the Crimea, should be let back in.  He has already started on that tired old claim again this year.  His stated reason?

“Because we should have Russia at the negotiating table. You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run.”

His real reason, however, is that Putin, in exchange for doing everything in his power to shove Donnie, despite the wishes of the voters in the U.S., into the Oval Office, in return expects Donnie to do his bidding.

Trump fails to understand that the G7 is meant to solidify policies on the basis of shared values and interests. If Putin were there, he would not be cooperative. Quite the contrary, he would render the group ineffective.

Trump’s minions are apparently pissed that France is focusing much of this year’s G7 meeting on such things as climate change and human rights … the Trump team apparently only wanted to discuss trade.  Quite frankly, in this I side with the French, for there is no single issue more relevant, more urgent than climate change and in fact, it is really the ONLY issue that matters very much at the moment.  If we don’t act on climate change NOW, nothing else will matter in just a few short years.  And I will always think that human rights are more important than trade.  At this time in our history, the U.S. is guilty of more serious human rights violations than in the past 155 years, since the end of slavery.

According to aides, Trump left for the G7 fully intending to promote his isolationist “America First” viewpoint, but hopefully the other six nations, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, UK, and Japan, will keep the conference to more relevant topics.  Otherwise, next year Trump may not need to worry about attending, and it may be called the G6.  According to Jon B. Alterman, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies …

“There has been a complete realization on the world stage that the U.S. is not playing its traditional role and may never again play the role it’s played for 75 years. But it’s unclear what role the United States will play, and what the consequences of that might be.”

European Council President Donald Tusk noted that …

“For me it’s absolutely clear that if someone, for example … the United States and President Trump, uses tariffs and taxation as a political instrument, tool for some different political reasons, it means that this confrontation can be really risky for the whole world, including the E.U. Under no condition can we agree with this logic. If the U.S. imposes tariffs on France, the E.U. will respond in kind.”

I’m sure I’ll have more about this after tomorrow, but for now, suffice it to say that Donald Trump fails to understand the concept of international cooperation, his ego requires that he be the center of attention at all times, that his demands are the only ones that matter.  He literally sucks all of the air out of the room when he’s in it.


She’s baaaaaaack …

I suppose you’ve all heard the news that former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the woman who sold her soul for the chance to lick Donald Trump’s boots, has taken a job over at Fox “News”?  As one person tweeted, “In a way, Sarah, you’ve been a Fox contributor all along.”  True dat.

Now, last I heard, when she left her position in July, she was planning on making a 2020 run for Governor of Arkansas.  Wonder what happened to that?  Oh wait … it’s perfect, now that I think about it!  She can be her own best source of advertisement … unlimited exposure, hundreds of opportunities to toot her own horn, to be seen by all the good people of Arkansas.  Who needs to worry about campaign contributions when they are on state-tv every day?

Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather tweeted that her new role was “about as surprising as water flowing down hill.”

Comedienne Chelsea Handler: “I’m not surprised Sarah Huckabee Sanders is joining Fox News, but I will be surprised to see what she looks like as a blonde,” an obvious reference to the fact that most of the female personalities on Fox are blonde bimbos.

The jokes on Twitter were endless.  I will only say I’m thankful that I don’t watch Fox, for I had enough of watching Sanders lie for Donnie-boy for two years.  I only hope that the people of Arkansas are smart enough not to elect her governor.


A bit of humour …

I end with just a bit of humour … I debated about including this one, for in a way it’s not exactly tasteful (pun intended), but I simply couldn’t resist.

Apparently, Chicago doesn’t like Trump very much (does anybody, really???), and a Chicago eatery has found a new way to mock him.  The eatery is called Weiner’s Circle, and from what I understand it is a very popular hot dog stand.  Chicago is, after all, famous for hot dogs!

Weiner’s Circle has put a new item on the menu, named the Trump Footlong.  It is three inches long.Trump-footlong

“The special item will be dressed exactly the same as a Chicago dog, only smaller in size. Customers can enjoy a single Trump footlong for $2.69; a Trump Package with two hot dogs, fries and a drink for $8.30; or the Super PAC for $12.56, which comes with four hot dogs, fries and a drink, according to RedEye. Wiener’s Circle is doing a little decorating as well… “

Trump-footlong-2Wiener’s Circle employees are also wearing hats that say, “Make Wiener’s great again.” The Trump-style hot dogs are available Friday through Sunday.


And on that note, I shall quietly slip away for a bit, but stay tuned, for I have more …

The Bully Goes To NATO 😱

Consider this:  you have a child who is cruel and a bully, the one who kicks sand in all the other children’s faces and shoves them off the swings.  Now, he is invited to a birthday party … not because anybody wants him there, but because the parents of the ‘birthday boy’ felt it was the right thing to do.  You understand all too well the dangers of your son attending the party, you realize he could spoil it not only for the ‘birthday boy’, but for every child in attendance.  Do you allow your son to go to the party, or do you do the right thing and keep him home, perhaps spend some time explaining why he isn’t being allowed to go?

We the People unfortunately have just such a bully, and later this month he will be attending an event that he seems prepared to ruin: the annual NATO summit.  Remember the last such event he attended, the G7 hosted by our close friend and ally, Justin Trudeau of Canada?  Remember how he insulted every one of the other 6 leaders there and demanded that Putin/Russia be allowed back into the group?  And remember how he insulted Trudeau after leaving the meeting, refusing to sign off on the joint communique?  Remember the 2017 NATO summit where he refused to endorse the collective defense clause and then … then in order to be first in front for a group photo, he shoved Dusko Markovic, the Prime Minister of Montenegro?

There is every reason to believe that this year’s NATO summit will turn into an even bigger disaster, for he has already laid the groundwork.  Last week Trump sent letters to eight of the 29 NATO members criticizing and threatening them for not yet having met the guidelines of defense spending.  Donald Trump has either no concept or an erroneous concept of how the NATO collective defense program works, and he sees his own role as being considerably larger than it is.

NATO is based on the principle of collective defense: an attack against one or more members is considered an attack against all. So far that has only been invoked once — in response to the September 11 attacks on the U.S. To make the idea work, it is important for all members to make sure their armed forces are in good shape. So NATO sets an official target on how much they should spend. That currently stands at 2% of GDP. The 2% target is described as a “guideline.” There is no penalty for not meeting it. It is up to each country to decide how much to spend and how to use the money.

A few things are worth noting:

  • Jens Stoltenberg is the Secretary General of NATO, not Donald Trump
  • The 2% target is a ‘guideline’. Many countries are not in a financial position to be able to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on military, and at least one nation, Germany, has other reasons for not being able to spend 2%
  • The agreement was that member nations would work toward the goal of spending 2% of GDP on military/defense by 2024! This is only 2018
  • European members of NATO are spending more on defense than in the recent past. Most have increased spending as a share of GDP since 2014, and in economically difficult times
  • Nations do not pay this 2% to NATO and no nation owes any portion of it to the U.S.
  • Thus far, the U.S. has been the only nation to receive the benefits of this program

Trump is a bully, and the letter he sent to several nations was a thinly veiled threat.  Here is the letter he sent to Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada:NATO letter-Canada

He was also particularly contentious toward Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, that letter said to contain the harshest language of the eight letters, though I am unable to find a copy of the letter to Merkel.

Chancellor Merkel backs plans for Germany’s defense budget to eventually reach 2 percent of GDP. However, her Christian Democrats’ junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats, are against massive defense spending increases and demand funds be used more efficiently.  I would note here that the U.S. Congress should also be demanding that our own funds be spent more judiciously, for we have a ridiculously and unnecessarily burdensome military budget, while we are cutting safety net programs for the poor, ignoring infrastructure needs, and making health care unaffordable to all but the wealthy.  Our own priorities are truly skewed, and Trump reminds me of a little boy playing with his army soldiers.NATO defense spendingNote that there are only five nations that are currently able to meet the 2% defense spending goal, yet Trump singled out our closest allies for his letter-writing campaign. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accords, pulled out of the Iran deal, criticized our allies at the G7 summit, and harshly imposed unwarranted tariffs on our European allies, and now he is bullying them ahead of the NATO summit.  What could go wrong, eh?

“Why the president would find it necessary to send a letter like this in advance of the NATO summit is a mystery. It shows a lack of understanding … and sets the wrong tone in advance of an important summit in mid-July. This isn’t how you ‘prep’ for a NATO summit. Letters like this will only backfire.”  — Julie Smith, a Europe expert with the Center for a New American Security.

International relations are difficult at best when the parties involved have a full understanding of the issues.  Trump has no understanding and does not listen to those who do. He is a loose cannon and stands to do even further harm to our relations with our allies, making this nation far less safe than it has ever been perhaps since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. I do realize that nobody has the power to stop Trump from going to Brussels on July 11th, but I certainly wish there were a way to keep him home.  I’m thinking duct taping him to the potty?

 

A Canadian Perspective – A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

After I opined strongly about Trump’s abominable behaviour toward Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I began to wonder how the people of Canada viewed the incident.  I asked Canadian friend John if he would write a guest post for me, and he graciously agreed.  Thank you, John!


Trump’s Treatment of Trudeau – A Canadian Perspective

By John Fioravanti

 

For many months since the inauguration of Donald Trump, I have watched him behave poorly as he played to his base of supporters. I am dismayed that his enablers in the GOP party in Congress refuse to exercise their constitutional duty to oversee his decisions that are often based on ignorance of the facts and outright lies. I don’t think Donald Trump has many supporters or admirers in Canada.

Figure 1: President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

Figure 1: President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

To be honest, I am a supporter of Canada’s Liberal Party, which is ideologically in line with American Democrats. I voted for our local Liberal candidate and was overjoyed to see Justin Trudeau win a majority government in the House of Commons in October of 2015 – despite the smear campaign launched by the Conservative Party (like the American GOP) that featured many attack ads that belittled Trudeau personally. Trudeau ignored those attacks and ran his campaign on the issues.

Figure 2: Trudeau & Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

Figure 2: Trudeau & Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

It is fair to say that many Canadians were in shock and somewhat uneasy when Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016. His campaign attacks on the NAFTA accord have been unsettling. Free trade has been an economic boon to all three countries involved. Two facts that are irrefutable about our bilateral trade history: one, the USA buys more goods from Canada than from any other country in the world; and two, Canada buys more American goods than from any other country in the world. To say that the collapse of NAFTA would not hurt the US economy is preposterous. However, it would hurt Canada more.

Thinking about our historical relationship with America, I’m reminded of a quote by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who was Prime Minister from 1968 to 1984.

“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

Figure 3: Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau 1968-1984

Figure 3: Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau 1968-1984

No country in the world has impacted Canada more than the United States. In the late 18th and 19th Centuries, annexationist American troops invaded Canadian territory during the Revolutionary War and then three times during the War of 1812. After the Civil War, American negotiators demanded that Britain hand over the Canadian colonies in compensation for damages incurred when the British helped the Confederate government. These occurrences bred feelings of unease, suspicion, and outright fear of the United States among Canadians.

In the 20th and 21st Centuries, the relationship changed to a close friendship as we became more than business partners, but also military allies through two world wars, the Cold War, the Korean War, and the War on Terrorism. On 9/11, Canadian airports accepted flights unable to land in the United States. Gander, Newfoundland, a town of just 10,000, residents took almost 7,000 passengers into their homes for five days and treated them like family. The Broadway play “Come From Away” immortalizes this extraordinary act of kindness to total strangers. Canadians and Americans have a shared history in North America and now we have a shared popular culture – it is no wonder that Europeans cannot distinguish us from each other.

I have been a student of history my entire life and in my adult years, my focus has been on Canadian and American history. My second academic passion is the study of politics, so I am fairly familiar with the constitutions of both of our countries. In my lifetime, I witnessed nothing but deference and respect between our Prime Ministers and Presidents. Sometimes friendships sprang up between our leaders when they were ideologically in tune – like Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan, and Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama. On the international stage, we have always had each other’s backs.

It is for these reasons that I am shocked and dismayed by Donald Trump’s abysmal behavior towards Justin Trudeau. Yes, I felt personally offended by Trump’s outright lies and insults. At the same time, I felt extremely proud that Trudeau did not respond, in kind, to Trump’s remarks nor to the vile remarks made by Trump’s minions in the aftermath.

Figure 4: Trump warning Trudeau about the PM's remarks at the G7 Summit

Figure 4: Trump warning Trudeau about the PM’s remarks at the G7 Summit

As an aside, my wife, Anne, and I had the good fortune to meet and chat briefly with our former Prime Minister, Paul Martin. He was PM for three brief years before being defeated by Conservative Stephen Harper. Since then, Martin has remained active within the Liberal Party and was a guest advisor at the G7 Summit. When I shared my views about Trudeau’s handling of the G7 fallout from Trump, he nodded sagely and assured me that he would pass that along to Justin Trudeau. It was such a thrill to spend a few moments alone with this kind and generous former prime minister!

Figure 5: Former Prime Minister Paul Martin 2003-2006

Figure 5: Former Prime Minister Paul Martin 2003-2006

My anger and disgust are not aimed at the American people. I understand how Trump operates. I followed the presidential election campaign very closely and I’ve seen how many Americans are also angry and disgusted with him and his abominable tactics. I also understand that Trump was defeated in the popular vote and that he has the approval of a scant 40% according to polls. By the way, Trudeau has the approval of 80% of Canadians according to recent polls for his stand against Trump’s tariffs. I can’t remember the last time a Canadian PM got an 80% approval rating for anything!

Many of my American friends have apologized and are concerned that this trade debacle will do irreparable damage to Canada/US relations. My response is that no apology is necessary – most of the American people did not behave badly. Trudeau and our Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, have continued to work towards a resolution of the tariffs and the NAFTA accord. It is our hope that our American cousins will lobby their Representatives and Senators to dissuade Trump from the path of a trade war with Canada and the other G7 countries.

Figure 6: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaking to reporters in Washington after meeting with members of the Senate after the G7 Summit.

Figure 6: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaking to reporters in Washington after meeting with members of the Senate after the G7 Summit.

Donald Trump will not change. He will continue to behave as he sees fit until the American electorate takes away his majorities in Congress and then removes him as President. I’m losing faith that the Mueller investigation will bring Trump down. I do not think Congress would impeach Trump no matter what Mueller reports. The remedy to the problem of Trump is to be found with the voters of America.

Tell Him to Stay Home!!!

statement by aidThe G7 summit, a meeting of the leaders of the world’s seven largest advanced economies, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, is scheduled to start next Friday, June 8th, in Quebec, Canada.  With just a short five days left, one would think that the agenda would be set, yes?  Well, it is not.  Not even close.  I will give you only one guess as to the reason the summit plans remain in chaos.  Think hard, now …

Ugly TrumpYou got it!  None other than Donald John Trump, the one who notoriously acted as a stubborn, unsupervised toddler at last year’s G7 in Taormina, Italy, when after three days of meetings and countless discussions, he refused to reaffirm the U.S.’ commitment to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. In addition, he scolded Germany for its trade practices and lectured NATO members, saying they don’t pay their fair share. But this year is even worse … apparently he has single-handedly blown up the entire agenda!

My humble opinion is that, since Trump has, by his actions, ceded a global leadership role, the summit should be changed to the G6 and Trump considered of no value to the summit.

Initially, the agenda was slated to include such topics as climate change, women’s empowerment, peace, economic growth for all and jobs for the future.  Well, while the other six leaders are in tune with those goals, they are not in keeping with Trump’s “America First” agenda.  The only topic on which Trump did not disagree was ‘women’s empowerment’.  That Trump agreed to this topic is one of life’s great ironies!  Think about it … he calls for de-funding Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of women’s health services in the nation, and froze the equal pay rule, aimed at fighting employer discrimination against women and minorities.  Not to mention that he is currently embroiled in a scandal over paying ‘hush money’ to a porn star after an extramarital affair, and has been accused by … I think the number is up to 19 now … women of sexual misconduct.

As if trying to find common ground for the agenda wasn’t hard enough, Trump’s decision last month to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal left our allies scrambling to try to salvage what was basically a working agreement.  And then, just a few days ago, Trump imposed harsh and unnecessary tariffs on Mexico, Canada and the EU, further angering other G7 nations.  Boy, he sure knows how to make a party fun, doesn’t he?

Then there is the concern that Trump will use the G7 to publicly take Germany to task over its military spending, for it is a known fact that he has no filter and blurts out whatever he is thinking at any given moment.

trump-bully-3The purpose of the G7 summit is to serve as a forum for highly industrialized democracies to coordinate economic, security, and energy policy.  It is a venue where ideas are exchanged and problems discussed.  It is a venue for global cooperation, not for one player to bully all the rest.  These seven leaders are on equal footing … they are each elected leaders of their nations and their interest is in global cooperation to help make the world a more prosperous, safer place.  When one player comes to the table believing that he is somehow superior to the rest, believing that he, somehow is the leader of the group, then nothing good can come out of it.

I seriously think it would be in the global best interest for Mr. Trudeau to call Mr. Trump and rescind his invitation, rename the summit the G6 summit, and move on with an agenda that addresses the pressing issues of the day, starting with climate change.  Let the bully stay at home and spew his hateful bluster here … the rest of the world should not have to contend with him, and when he leaves home, he does nothing but cause us shame and embarrassment anyway.