Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Trashing allies: the latest ‘new normal’ in Age of Trump

British Ambassador to the United States Kim Darroch had some unkind things to say about Donald J. Trump.

The unflattering assessment became known only because of leaked memos. Darroch called the Trump administration “inept,” and “incompetent” and assorted other mean things.

The president’s response? He has not been a “fan” of Darroch, who he said has not served the United Kingdom well. He has declared, too, that he is done dealing with the envoy representing one of this nation’s strongest and — until this moment — most reliable international allies.

I am wracking my noggin trying to remember when I’ve ever heard a president of the United States and a leading allied diplomat trade barbs like this. To be candid, the Brit’s remarks weren’t intended for Trump’s eyes and ears; they were meant to be kept internally, within the British foreign ministry. Trump, though, has taken this fight into the public arena, which is he prone to do no matter what.

I am beside myself trying to understand how this continual back-and-forth between Donald Trump and our allies furthers the cause of international diplomacy and understanding. Or how it strengthens this nation.

Or, for that matter, how it makes America great.

Trump tweets insult to singer/actress during state visit? Wow!

I decided long ago that I wouldn’t lament Donald Trump’s use of Twitter as a policy bullhorn. I get that it works for the president, even though his tweets are so remarkably inarticulate, clumsy and, um, full of lies.

However, I cannot let pass a recent message he fired off while he is visiting the United Kingdom on a state visit at the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

At a time when the president should be exhibiting solemn respect for the office he holds and paving the way to pay his respects to the valiant warriors who fell in battle 75 years ago while trying to liberate Europe from the Nazi tyrant, he does something truly astonishing.

Donald Trump decides to engage in a Twitter battle with Bette Midler, the noted singer and actress.

Midler dislikes the president. She said so yet again. So what does the target of her barbs do? He decides to fire off a tweet in response to Midler, calling her a “washed up psycho,” or words to that effect.

Good ever-lovin’ grief, Mr. President!

Donald Trump is managing to make the presidency a worldwide laughingstock at a time when he should be conducting himself with maximum decorum and dignity.

A tweet tirade with Bette Midler isn’t the way to do that.

Weird.

Here we go again: Trump manages to ruffle ’em in the UK

I am slapping myself silly over the president of the United States’ inability to conduct himself with anything approaching the dignity his high office would demand.

Donald Trump is getting set for a state visit to the United Kingdom. He’ll meet with Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and many other dignitaries. State visits compel him to meet with the high and mighty among his hosts.

But what in the world is this guy trying to do?

Prime Minister Teresa May has announced her resignation. Trump then weighed in with a virtual endorsement of Boris Johnson as May’s possible successor. Labor Party officials say that a U.S. president should meddle in a British election; one of them called Trump’s near-endorsement to be “unacceptable.”

Oh, and then there’s the dust-up over the Duchess of Sussex, the American-born wife of Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, who said in 2016 that she might consider moving out of the country if Trump were elected president.

Trump responded by saying something about Markle being “nasty,” but then said he believed she would do well as a member of the British royal family.

White House officials say that Trump’s remarks were taken “out of context.” OK. Whatever.

If only the president of the United States would understand — let alone follow — the rules of diplomatic decorum.

He shouldn’t offer any public opinion on who should become the head of government of an allied nation in the midst of enormous economic and political turmoil.

Nor should he pop off about a beloved member of the royal family, tossing around the “nasty” epithet just because she — as an American citizen — was offering a political statement, which she is entitled to do.

It’s always something with this guy.

Trump chides our most reliable ally … nice!

Donald J. “Tweeter in Chief” Trump campaigned for the presidency on the promise that he would shake things up, that he would do things differently.

Oh, brother. Has he ever!

Take the tiff he initiated with the United States’ most trusted, reliable and steadfast ally: Great Britain.

He retweeted an inflammatory anti-Muslim message that originated from Britain First, a fringe right-wing group that hates Muslims.

Pressure is now mounting in the UK for British Prime Minister Teresa May to disinvite the president, who is set to make a state visit before the end of the year. Trump’s conduct via Twitter has demonstrated quite graphically that he doesn’t seem to give a royal flip about offending our nation’s political forebears.

Matthew D’Ancona, a commentator for The Guardian, wrote this: As it happens, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Trump’s visit should be canceled in August, after the murderous white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. When the most powerful person in the world fails the simplest test of democratic leadership — answering the question “Were the Nazis uniquely bad?” — the whole world is involved. The president failed that test conspicuously and gave comfort to the loathsome “identitarianism” that understands society as a competition between races, tribes and religion.

Read D’Ancona’s column here.

Trump and May engaged angry tweets over the video. May chastised Trump for inflaming prejudices in the UK; Trump responded that she shouldn’t worry about the president, but should worry more instead about the threat of terrorism.

This is a ridiculous way to treat a trusted ally.

I’ll stand with those who are urging Prime Minister May to cancel the state visit. Now!

Trump started out well at NATO, then …

Donald J. Trump actually knows how to deliver the right message at the right moment.

Such as when the president spoke Thursday at the NATO summit in Brussels of the terrible tragedy that befell the United Kingdom in that massacre in Manchester, England. The president called for a moment of silence and told British Prime Minister Teresa May that the alliance stands foursquare behind her beleaguered nation.

Then, at about the 4:50 mark of this video, the president decided to scold members of our nation’s oldest alliance by reminding them that they need to “pay more” for their defense. And, by golly, he actually cited threats from Russia as a concern with which NATO must deal.

I could not help but notice the looks on the president’s fellow heads of state and government as he reminded them publicly that many member nations aren’t paying what they supposedly have pledged to pay for NATO’s defense. They looked at each other, they looked at their feet, a couple of them seemed to snicker.

I understand that Trump was elected in 2016 on the pledge to “put America first.” He spoke at the NATO meeting of the burden that American taxpayers are bearing  because of so-called deadbeats in Europe who aren’t shouldering their financial obligations.

I am left to wonder: Is that really how one talks to allies — in public?

Texas cannot secede a second time

103109_txsecession001_jv_png_800x1000_q100

It’s coming again.

Fruitcakes are talking about looking for ways to allow Texas to secede from the United States of America.

The Texas Tribune has provided a fascinating primer on what’s allowed and what is not.

Secession is not allowed. Period.

https://www.texastribune.org/2016/06/24/can-texas-legally-secede-united-states/

What fascinates me more than anything are the phony parallels the Texas secessionists — which admittedly comprise a tiny fraction of the state’s population — are drawing with the British vote to exit the European Union.

There are no parallels.

Why? Well, for starters, Texas is not a sovereign nation. It belongs to a larger nation, with a federal government and a Constitution to which elected officials in all 50 states take an oath to “protect and defend.”

The EU is a loose conglomeration of sovereign nations that have within their own governing structures mechanisms to initiate a withdrawal from that group. That’s what the British voters did.

As the Texas Tribune reports: “The legality of seceding is problematic,” said Eric McDaniel, associate professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin. “The Civil War played a very big role in establishing the power of the federal government and cementing that the federal government has the final say in these issues.”

The issue won’t die a quick and painless death, though.

The state has a history of once being an independent republic, from 1836 until 1845, when it became one of the United States. Texas did secede as the Civil War was breaking out.

According to the Tribune, none other than the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia put it all in its proper perspective.

“The answer is clear,” Scalia wrote. “If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede. (Hence, in the Pledge of Allegiance, ‘one Nation, indivisible.’)”

Are we clear now?

Queen E replaces Queen V as longest on the throne

Elizabeth

A story out of Great Britain got me to remembering a hilarious quip that a young typesetter once muttered way back in the old days.

Queen Elizabeth II is now the longest-reigning monarch in British history, having served longer than Queen Victoria, who sat on the throne from 1837 until her death in 1901.

Congrats belong to Her Majesty the Queen.

Queen sets record on UK throne

Back to the quip.

I worked from 1977 until 1984 at a daily newspaper in Oregon City, Ore. The Enterprise-Courier no longer exists, but it once was a feisty little paper that sought to compete under the shadow of the one-time behemoth The Oregonian.

It was an afternoon paper, which meant I got to the office early in the morning to start “stripping the wire” of hard copy and separating the stories into appropriate categories: national, international and state/regional.

I came upon a tidbit that United Press International published daily. It was a factoid, kind of a trivia item. One morning I saw on the wire that Queen Victoria was the longest-serving monarch in Britain. She’d been queen for 63 years.

I turned to one of our typesetters, a quiet young woman whose name escapes me, and mentioned how long Queen V had been on the British throne.

Her response? “You mean she had to hold it that long?”

 

'Jihadi John' says he's sorry

Don’t you know that it really sucks to be Jihadi John these days?

His real name is Mohammed Emwazi. He was born in Kuwait. His family emigrated to Great Britain, I guess when he was young, as he speaks now with a British accent.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/.premium-1.645895

Jihadi John has been seen on those hideous videos purporting to show the beheading of innocent victims. He wields a knife and makes threats against Barack Obama, along with other Western leaders who are intent on capturing — or killing — this madman.

I’ve been wondering: How does someone such as this go through daily life knowing that every spook from countries allied with the United States is trying to find him?

Does this goon perform acts the rest of us do? You know, such as buy groceries, go to the movies, take a walk in the park, hang out with friends?

Now this monster says he’s sorry. He’s apologized to his family for being “outed” and for the disruption he’s caused them. Well, I feel a certain degree of sympathy for them, too. They more than likely didn’t drive him to join the Islamic State and become one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

Emwazi didn’t apologize for the horrific crimes he has committed. Then again, no one would expect that from a remorseless killer.

Here’s hoping this ghoul lives in fear for the rest of what’s left of his life.

 

Rep. Schock wishing for anonymity

Aaron Schock is one of those politicians few people ever hear of outside of the district he represents.

A lot more Americans know about him now, and for reasons he likely wishes didn’t exist.

The Illinois Republican congressman has made a name for himself by spending a lot of taxpayer money on private matters for himself and his staff.

http://politicalwire.com/2015/03/09/schock-treated-staffers-to-weekend-in-new-york/

The U.S. House Ethics Commission is investigating a complaint that Schock spent extravagantly while on an “official” trip to the United Kingdom. The expenses included stays at very expensive hotels, high-dollar meals and many other perks along the way. He allegedly used private aircraft in violation of House rules.

The latest is that Schock reportedly treated his staff to a $10,000-plus weekend in New York, with staffers performing next to zero official duties.

I know he isn’t the first politician to go for the gusto on the public dime. He won’t be the last, not by a long shot.

The fascination with this still-developing story, at least as far as I’m concerned, is how a no-name back-bench politician manages to place himself squarely in the public eye with apparently no outward sense of shame or embarrassment.

Is there a sense of entitlement at work here?

Bully for the Brits; shame on Congress

Two nations separated by an ocean are engaging the air war over Syria in entirely different manners.

The British Parliament came back into session at the behest of Prime Minister David Cameron to debate and vote on whether the United Kingdom should join the coalition fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Parliament voted to get into the fight.

On this side of the Atlantic, the U.S. Congress is, well, on recess.

http://www.msnbc.com/andrea-mitchell/watch/congress-on-recess-as-airstrikes-continue-333908547996

Which legislative body is being more responsible and responsive to a burgeoning international crisis?

I doubt you should think it’s the Congress of the United States of America.

The Brits have this one down correctly.

Prime Minister Cameron was right to call his colleagues back into session. Parliament was right to debate the issue and then take a critical vote.

President Barack Obama operates in a different form of government, in which the legislative branch is co-equal with the executive branch. Lawmakers in both congressional chambers operate under their own sets of rules. Democrats set the rules for the Senate; Republicans do the same in the House of Representatives.

I get that these folks have to campaign for their offices. Still, why have they spread hither and yon across our vast country at this time — while our young servicemen and women are risking their lives while trying to put down a despicable terrorist organization?