Have you ever played musical chairs? It was pretty much mandatory at any birthday party I ever attended growing up.
Of course, given where I grew up and the friends I grew up with, it was a contact sport--not for the faint of heart. Still, bruises were badges of honor worn proudly and not to have played was unthinkable.
There came THE TIME at every party when someone would start arranging chairs—every other one facing in the opposite direction---while someone else set about finding just the right song to mayhem by.
It was then the rest of us would start limbering up, knowing when the music started flowing elbows would be flying. Let the pushing and shoving begin!
Oh, how we circled those chairs in frantic anticipation of when the music would suddenly stop—then just as suddenly begin again—but with one less chair and one less player.
Boy or girl, it made no difference—all that mattered was who’d be the last one sitting in that last chair standing.
A zero sum game this was. You were either on the chair at the end or you weren’t—no style points, no second-place trophy, no going home with the title Ms. Congeniality. Possession was all that mattered.
We played hard and forgot quickly. It was a game—a few bruises here and there, no grudges, no worries one of the losers—the victory challenged, for you PC’ers among us—looking to get even.
Friendships were as strong after as before—stronger even for the shared experience.
I hadn’t thought of those parties in quite a while. Then there was the other evening, watching our 45th president—the Apostate Donald John—speaking only for himself--and Russia, of course—denying any collusion, conspiracy or culpability.
I began wondering how Donald John might have played musical chairs; how my pals and I might have reacted to some puff ball with attitude telling us he was the winner before the game began.
To the claim of victory before battle, we were all guilty of such trash talk; it was required. I have no doubt, however, should our orange-haired little friend been part of the group, he would have gone on to claim the game was rigged against him. Unless, of course, he won.
Thinking back with the surety of age and recalling the simple rules of our road, Little D would not have fared well with us—or perhaps, us with him. Not the smartest nor kindest of children—certainly nowhere near politically correct—we weren’t wanton in our disdain.
I’d like to think we knew the difference between reality and make-believe—at least by the time of the birthday parties I’m now remembering. To be clear, we wouldn’t have cared that Little D lived in an alternative universe or anything about his wealth or family.
His demanding we live there with him would have triggered our tempers, though.
Our nation’s petulant 45th President has made little effort to keep his puerile nature hidden from view—before or after his election. Prior to victory it was sometimes amusing, although mostly annoying.
In just the 130 days since his inauguration, Donald John continues to claim visions no one else sees. These delusions and his defense of them deny the democratic principles the nation was built upon.
The separation of powers? For other people—in the world according to Trump the judiciary’s job is to rubber stamp executive orders, not to weigh their constitutionality against 200 years of American law and hundreds more of common law.
Words? Momentary utterances meant to entertain—something for surrogates to define as any situation warrants. In Trump-land words have no permanence, their only value is an ability to burnish the image of a tarnished president.
Recently back from his first foray into international waters as leader of the free world, Donald John returned in a diminished capacity—president of half a great nation; a chief-executive under siege by virtue of arrogance and an unwillingness to acknowledge even simple truths.
Trump described the European portion of the mission via Twitter: [w]as a great success for America. Hard work but big results. An excursion whose consequences the Chancellor of Germany—our strongest European ally—felt it necessary to warn supporters about:
The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over… I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.
Mutti, as she is known in Germany, grew up on the wrong side of the Berlin wall, where she earned her doctorate in quantum physics. She has been chancellor of a united Germany since 2005. Reportedly she was still making breakfast for her husband—a university professor—nine years after becoming Chancellor.
A committed trans-Atlanticist, Chancellor Merkel is the polar opposite of Der Donald in demeanor and character. She is known to have a scientist’s view of things—not known for hyperbole—a believer in climate change and its causes. She has even been known to have a beer on occasion.
Global warming is not the only hot air she’s willing to confront. Trump’s sometimes BFF once brought his dog to a meeting with Merkel—knowing she had been attacked by one and was frightened of them. Interviewed later by journalists she said of Putin: I understand why he has to do this—to prove he's a man. ... He's afraid of his own weakness.
To reporters seeking hidden meaning in her post-Trump statement about Germany being unable to depend upon others, her spokesperson said simply: The chancellor's words stand on their own—they were clear and comprehensible. Not something one would expect Sean Spicer to say with conviction about his boss.
The disdain with which Donald Trump treats others is not simply in what he says or even how he says it. Try as they might, surrogate explanations of what he means can be difficult to accept. One look often says it all.
You don’t have to be a body language expert to see these NATO leaders were not comfortable in each other’s presence. I think it fair to say their discomfiture had something to do with Trump’s dressing them down for—in his eyes—failing to reimburse the U.S. for the defense of their nations and Trump’s indifference and classlessness.
Trump’s continuing to call allies out publicly as deadbeat nations was no better received in Brussels than it has been elsewhere. It was surely more irksome to U.S. Alliance partners because Donald John had seemed to soften his stance and his rhetoric since being elected and having hosted Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier this year.
The accusation seems unfounded based on public statements by NATO members that they had only ever pledged to move toward the goal of investing amounts equal to 2 percent of their gross domestic products by 2024. A pledge they have since renewed; a renewal the White House has already claimed credit for; a claim Trump has already used to convince supporters his promise to pull the U.S. out of NATO no longer needs to be kept because NATO is now relevant thanks to its willingness to fight terrorism, members’ willingness to pay their fair share and, of course, the brilliance of Trump’s negotiating abilities.
Trump appears once again engaged in a favorite pastime: making up his own rules when the established ones don’t seem to suit. In Trump-land, there are rules and then there are the rules that apply only to the Apostate Donald John.
Words just now seeping out from European quarters are suggesting President Trump and company may have been less well-received than earlier thought—certainly less than the Donald thought.
It seems all of Europe is a bit better at keeping sensitive information from flowing at light speed than the Trump’s White House. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, showed himself much less diplomatic than Ms. Merkel and other NATO leaders.
As reported, Gabriel blasted Der Donald for: being short-sighted; having weakened the West; hurting European interests in general; and, otherwise making an already shaky world shakier. Tillerson’s German counterpart took a much broader and dimmer view of what President Trump managed to accomplish than the Trumpeters themselves:
…anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not
want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk.
Clearly Merkel’s Foreign Minister doesn’t have the same warm feelings about the announced sale of $110B worth of matériel to Saudi Arabia, that Wilbur Ross had. Of course, Secretary of Commerce Ross was asleep part of the time the Donald was waxing on about the nation’s new BFFs in the Middle East. Ross may simply have been unaware of all that was being sold.
Deteriorating U.S./German relations are of concern in terms of defense and economic interests. It is hoped by many in the U.S. and Germany that relations will not continue to deteriorate.
It would be an unfortunate footnote to history that German reunification was helped along by President Reagan’s having appealed to Gorbachev to tear down a wall only to have Trump rebuild a virtual one between our two nations.
Another person unlikely to be as pleased with the arms sale as President Trump is Pope Francis. He appeared less than thrilled overall with the kingly collared Donald.
The Pope and the President have frequently found themselves on opposite sides of a wide-ranging number of issues. Francis has made no secret of his opposition to the Trump-wall. Just days before his visit with Trump he spoke of such things:
Walls that enclose some and banish others. Walled citizens, terrified on one side, excluded, exiled, and still more terrified on the other. Is that the life that our Father God wants for their children? Dear brothers and sisters—all walls fall. All of them. Do not be fooled.
Not the first time, the head of the Catholic Church called out the architects of walls. Months before, in the midst of the primaries, Francis decried as un-Christian those who build walls rather bridges.
Then-candidate Donald Trump had more to say than could be said in 140 characters and took the unusual step of posting on Facebook—calling the Pope disgraceful and more. The Apostate Donald John:
The Pope only heard one side of the story—he didn’t see the crime, the drug trafficking and the negative economic impact the current policies have on the United States…
They [President Obama and leaders of the Mexican government] are using the Pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant.
I am not suggesting popes are infallible nor necessarily right more often than not; however, I am willing to believe Francis smart enough to know when he’s being used by an unscrupulous politician.
As a matter of fairness, I admit to a certain friendly bias towards this particular pope for having penned his encyclical Laudato Si for the care of our common home. I understand Francis included a copy of the letter, calling for the care of Earth’s environment, as one of the gifts he gave President Trump—in the unlikely event Donald had not yet read it or was still waiting for the movie to come out.
It is unlikely that either Pope or President convinced the other to change their position on the environment, walls, healthcare, economics or education. This is not to say that the occasion was not an historic one.
It marks for the first time in recent memory—perhaps ever—Roger Stone and Pope Francis have held slightly similar opinions on something. For those not familiar with Stone, he is a long-time political consultant—of the Ann Coulter variety—a self-proclaimed dirty trickster—of the Nixon variety—and a frequent defender of the President--of the Breitbart variety.
His reaction to Trump’s receipt of Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honor, the King Abdulaziz al Saud Collar, was simply …this makes me want to puke. I don’t know Mr. Stone personally but I can imagine, given his history and the company he keeps, making him puke on moral grounds is not an easy thing to do.
Trump’s return to Capital City over the Memorial Day weekend marked the end of his first overseas foray. Susurrations of staff shake-ups and a return to the campaign trail preceded the President.
Given Mike Dubke’s resignation as White House communications director after only a few months in the job and Donald’s pattern of meeting accusations and calls for the truth with trips back in time to convince supporters they are still winning, shake-ups and setting out once again along the Road of Make-believe are likely to be formally announced soon.
If rumors of War Rooms—populated by his most aggressive defenders—are true, Trump’s troubles have only just begun. Unfortunately along with them will be the troubles of the nation.
Replacing truth with aggressive alternative factual assertions does nothing to change the truth—only to cover it up for bit. To paraphrase Pope Francis, sooner or later the wall of lies will fall.
The Apostate Donald John can deny democracy and truth only for so long before it comes back to bite him anywhere of its choosing. I don’t really understand why Trump persists in following such a course. Ordinarily, I doubt I would care.
But I do care, for the same reason my pals and I would have probably beaten the snot out of him after every birthday party back in the day.*
He persists in dragging others into his make-believe world. Bill Kristol of the conservative Weekly Standard has put it more elegantly and in the context of today’s politics:
Merkel's comments today are a reminder that Trump’s failures are, while he’s president, also America’s failure[s], and damage America. [emphasis mine]
*Please do not try this at home—that was then, this is now.
PS: A koan before I go—this one's for you, Spicey!
I ask you: How low can a President go? Sean Spicer may have his failings, but loyalty to Donald John isn’t one of them. Day after day this guy gets up there and takes one for the Donster. Comedians behind mobile podiums, the Washington press corps, mainstream media outlets, members of Congress and even a drive-by liberal in an Apple store have all attacked him—for who he represents.
How does Donald John repay such loyalty? He denies him the one thing he’s said to want more than anything—a 30-second opportunity to meet Pope Francis.
Spicey deserves better—both as a Catholic and a man in need of divine intervention. Even the condemned on death row are entitled to a priest. What is a pope, if not a priest?
If you see the injustice of it all, please contact me. Should enough of you respond, I will make it my business to contact Pope Francis to ask he meet with Spicey and will make the first contribution to the #sendspiceytoRomefund
Photo credits: In order of appearance--
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) and US President Donald Trump take a seat during a working dinner meeting at the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) headquarters in Brussels on May 25, 2017 during a NATO summit. (Matt Dunham/AFP/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump stands with British Prime Minister Theresa May during a group photo with NATO leaders at the new NATO headquarters, Thursday, May 25, 2017, in Brussels. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Pope Francis (R) poses with US President Donald Trump (C), US First Lady Melania Trump and the daughter of US President Donald Trump Ivanka Trump (L) at the end of a private audience at the Vatican on May 24, 2017. PHOTO: AFP
Joel B. Stronberg
Joel Stronberg, MA, JD., of The JBS Group is a veteran clean energy policy analyst with over 30 years’ experience, based in Washington, DC.