Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Musclehead From Brussels

 (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
It should've been written into the script: The Big Bully arrives in town, starts throwing his weight around, then Jean-Claude Van Damme leaps to save the day and kicks the bad guy senseless. Alas, that did not happen any more than a Batman will come to save Gotham City (formerly known as the United States).
     Any dead-end Trumper hoping against hope, reason and basic sanity that our Chief Executive would go on his first Big Boy Trip and not embarrass us should be bitterly disappointed. And if they're not, then they deserve to have their mental health care taken from them if Sauron gets his way and passes the AHCA, It all started, not so innocently enough, in Saudi Arabia.
     The tone for dysfunction was set when Trump reached for Melania's hand as they were leaving Air Force One and she rejected it by putting her left hand to her hair. Needing a consolation, Trump then patted the First Lady's ass. (Melania would do it again a couple days later in Israel.) Then, after agreeing, through a Jared Kushner-brokered deal to sell $110 billion in arms to the Saudis (in exchange for a $100,000,000 bribe to Ivanka's proposed foundation), Trump, the King of Saudi Arabia and Egypt's dictator held a glowing orb ceremony that looked as if it came out of a bad Roger Corman movie.

     Whether they were attempting to reach the blubbery spirit of Roger Ailes, the Dark Prince or Sauron himself, they reached someone- The very next day a 4x4 sinkhole opened up right in front of Mar-a-Lago (aka the Panhandle Kremlin). Then co-First Ladies Ivanka and Melania decided to opt out of wearing head scarves, something for which Trump himself raked Michelle Obama over the coals when she'd done the same (something for which even Ted Cruz had cheered her).
     Then after three of the world's biggest dictators and perpetrators of state-sponsored terrorism had their creepy seance pledging to end non state-sponsored terrorism, it was off to Israel, then the Vatican. And in the theological trifecta, Trump managed to thoroughly humiliate us in all three religions.

The Stupidest Person on the Face of the Earth

No, the Israelis didn't shoot Trump, even though he'd given away their secrets to the Russians, but they must've surely thought about it. As usual, it all started right out of the gate, literally, when Melania again swatted away Trump's hand on the red carpet in Tel Aviv. Then, as if the world's media wasn't already giving his itinerary and every detail within it enough press, he then announced to Israeli officials, in Israel, "I've just left the Middle East."
     
     It kinda went downhill from that point on.
     The Israeli visit at least held the faintest hope for Trump to acquit himself as something more than the mentally-challenged misfit he's proved to be on the world stage. After all, since Trump was on the campaign trail in 2015-6, he's been calling consistently for a two state solution between Israel and Palestine. Alas, it was not to be.
     When he left 28 hours later, he had not given one shred of evidence he'd thought this peace thingie through despite all the time he'd had to develop a peace plan during his campaign, his transition, and during the 120+ days he's been in the White House (aka Kremlin-on-the-Potomac). But there was one bright takeaway from Trump's visit- He'd told Netanyahu that when he was talking to the Russians in the Oval Office, he "never mentioned Israel."
     Which I'm sure came as a great relief to the Israelis even though their code-word protected intelligence about ISIS was given to a nation with whom they'd pointedly not shared said intelligence. And speaking of which, after Trump's visit, Israel has also decided not to share some of their classified intelligence with us. Yeah, maybe that's for the best.
     For any American President making an official state visit to Israel, a stop at the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem is a must. There's a guestbook for heads of state to sign. And Donald Trump's bizarre note in the Yad Vashem guestbook reads like something someone would write of their Disneyland vacation on Yelp.com. To say the least, it stands in stark contrast to the much lengthier, more comprehensive note left by President Obama. It essentially was all about him and what a great tourist stop was the memorial erected to remember the 6,000,000 victims of the Holocaust who were never mentioned in Trump's jaunty tourist memorandum. One can only wonder if Trump left an invoice to Mexico inside the Wailing Wall.
     Then it was on to the Vatican and beyond...

No Weddings But a Funeral For Democracxy
Pope Francis is certainly the most popular pontiff since at least Pope John XXIII. He seems to genuinely love his role as the Vicar of Christ as much as he relishes ministering to the poor. He seems like a nice, folksy head of state who has a ready smile for anyone he may meet... uh, with certain exceptions.
     It can't be said the two First Ladies didn't play their part. In stark contrast to their refusal to wear head scarves in Saudi Arabia, Ivanka and Melania, in keeping with papal tradition, wore black dresses and veils (and giving the photo op something of a creepy Diane Arbus ambiance to the whole thing.).
     I'll just gloss over the creepiness, the countless embarrassments Trump caused us in Vatican City and the two leader's prior barbs at each other over Trump's wall and just let the awkward pictures do the talking.

     Trump left the Vatican, saying he was more determined than ever to pursue peace in the world. Meanwhile, before he even got to the Vatican, this little tidbit about a certain Navy SEAL raid in Yemen somehow got pushed off the MSM's radar. I'm sure Trump felt real bad about it afterwards once he met with the Pope. Sure.

National Lampoon's Belgian Vacation
If anyone had any illusions that President Griswold wouldn't embarrass the United States at the dedication of the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, they were sadly misinformed. If there's anything else that Trump shares with the establishment GOP besides killing the poor and middle class, tax cuts for his billionaire buddies and deregulating every industry under the sun, it's his ignorant hatred of the United Nations and NATO's mission.
     At this point, it's difficult if not outright impossible to determine if Trump even knows what Article 5 in Chapter II of the UN charter is, much less remember that it was invoked only once by the UN- For our benefit right after the 9/11 attacks. But Trump today mentioned Article 5 in vague terms, preferring, instead, to focus on his moth-eaten lie of 23 of 28 NATO member nations not kicking in their fair share to fight terrorism (in reality, they'd paid more than mere money to that end- To date, over 1000 non-American NATO troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan alone). Ironically, standing next to Trump was a sculpture made of twisted metal found at Ground Zero.
     What Trump either doesn't remember or care to learn is that each nation pledges their support and pays for it out of their respective defense budgets. It's difficult to believe that one of Trump's more pragmatic and knowledgeable aides hasn't taken him aside and informed him of this simple fact.
     Perhaps it's that rampant ignorance that accounted for the faces and body language of the world leaders who had to listen to this drivel. Afterwards, Trump pushed Montenegro's Prime Minister aside so he could be front and center for the photo op, then refused to shake the hand of the lady who'd offered hers.
     It's that arrogant, right wing ignorance and hostility toward NATO (As well as the United Nations) that makes observers who actually have a functional cerebrum to wonder if he'll just as impetuously pull out of the 195 nation Paris Climate Accord. In light of his rolling back all the Obama regulations on polluting industries, a reasonable person would have cause to suspect it.
     So, let's sum up our Big Boy's First Big Boy Trip:
     He'd cozied up to dictators from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, had a creepy glowing orb ceremony, thought he was out of the Middle East once he landed in Israel and made an Israeli diplomat publicly face palm himself, left no evidence he has a peace plan for Israel and Palestine to follow, screwed the pooch as far as Israeli intelligence-sharing goes, left a chipper Yelp review of Yad Vashem, successfully wrestled the perpetual smile off Pope Francis's face, praised dictators while insulting our NATO allies, and managed to kill some Yemeni elders while preaching vapidly about peace.
     And if that doesn't sufficiently scare you, he found time to submit to Congress while abroad a budget with a two trillion dollar error.

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