Tag Archives: United Kingdom

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?

Glad the Scots said 'no' to independence

I’ve been thinking about the vote in Scotland to stay attached to the United Kingdom and the thought occurs to me: Would a “yes” vote to declare independence fuel further secession talk in Texas?

I’m only half-joking about that speculation.

A neighbor of mine sports a “SECEDE” bumper sticker on the back of his vehicle, right next to one that says he was “Proud to Serve” in the U.S. military. Frankly, I don’t get the juxtaposition.

Imagine if Scotland had voted to pull out of the UK. The Scots would have had to form their own military establishment, rather than relying on Her Majesty’s impressive military establishment for protection. There would be all kinds of ancillary expense to forming a nation.

The same thing applies to any notion that one of the United States of America should want to secede.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry a few years back made some careless remarks about secession. He came strangely close to endorsing the idea, only to back away and say he is a proud American who doesn’t want the Union broken up.

And we hear such talk among others around the state. I would call them the fruitcake wing of the Lone Star State’s 26 million or so souls, most of whom are good, decent and proud Americans.

I shudder to think what might have happened had the Scots had said “yes” to independence. I’m glad they went the other way on the issue. Sanity has a way of prevailing when the chips are down — most of the time.

Scots show the way

Well done, Scotland! 85-percent turnout, 10-percentage points won the voting question, a solid, unquestionable majority. Scotland won either way. It will now wield more sway in the UK. Democracy works. I hope we would take a lesson from it and regard ours as lovingly.

The above message comes from my friend Dan Wallach, who posted it on Facebook today.

His comment comes in the wake of Scotland’s landmark election in which the Scots decided to remain a part of the United Kingdom.

Dan isn’t making any judgment here on the correctness of the Scots’ vote, but he is saying something profound about Americans’ own lack of civic involvement in matters of vital national importance.

Eighty-five percent of Scotland’s eligible voters turned out. Americans are facing a mid-term election in a few weeks that likely will draw less than 40 percent of those who are eligible to vote.

What’s at stake in the U.S. of A.? Oh, just the control of Congress, one-third of that thing we call “co-equal government.” We elect our presidents usually with less than 60 percent of eligible voters taking part. That’s a big deal, too, given that presidents get to select judges to sit on our federal court benches, giving them lifetime jobs in which they interpret whether laws are constitutional.

The Nov. 4 election turnout in Texas, I’m sorry to predict, will be less than the national average. I fear it’s going to be significantly less.

Americans don’t quite care enough to vote for lawmakers or for their president. At least they don’t care the way the Scots showed they cared about whether to declare their independence or stay attached to England as part of the UK.

Dan is right. “Democracy works.” It always works better the more people get involved in that exercise we call voting.