Opinion » The Rant

Interesting Times: Trump in London

The ancient Chinese curse is working overtime, these days.

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There's a Chinese expression that goes "May you live in interesting times." I always thought it was a toast or an expression of goodwill until I looked up its origins (or "oringes"). I discovered that it's called the "Chinese Curse" and that it's actually a wish for misfortune toward another — the significance being that uninteresting times are peaceful and uneventful.

So perhaps the Chinese were prescient when it comes to our current state of instability — but no one should have to live like this. It's difficult knowing your country's chief executive is a schizoid, delusional megalomaniac when every day — every day — brings a fresh outrage. I'm not a morning person, but my wife is, so we have a ritual when I wake up. I ask, "What new horror happened today?"

Protesters fly the baby blimp in the U.K. - REUTERS | PETER NICHOLLS
  • Reuters | Peter Nicholls
  • Protesters fly the baby blimp in the U.K.

We can't escape from watching the news like it's a poor man's Game of Thrones miniseries. It's exhausting keeping up with the unpredictable conduct of this vile man when your rage and disgust have already been sapped. I have become drained by the daily onslaught of his boasts, his warped opinions, his disdain for the rule of law, and his endless mantra of "No collusion. No obstruction. Witch hunt." 

During Trump's on-camera meltdown during last Thursday's press pool spray, he unleashed a tsunami of lies. One account had him telling at least 21 lies about the Russia investigation. Trump's endless repetition of falsehoods points to his misguided fascination with "The Big Lie," as espoused by Germany in the 1930s. It used to be verboten for a credible journalist to compare the evils of any American citizen to Hitler, but those unwritten rules are no longer viable in the age of Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon. In a 1990 Vanity Fair interview, Trump's first wife, Ivana, said that her husband often read a book of Hitler's collected speeches, My New Order, which he kept in a cabinet by his bed. I'm surprised that he reads anything at all, but in reading Hitler's verbiage, he might have come across this quote, "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it." Or perhaps he came across this aphorism from Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels: "A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth." 

But let's get real, Trump doesn't read.The most likely explanation is that he learned the technique from his late attorney, Roy Cohn, who was once described as "The ... most evil, twisted, vicious bastard ever to snort coke at Studio 54." Trump tweeted, "I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected." He later deleted his Freudian slip.

In a single week in the post-Mueller-Report Trump-world, he threatened Mexico with a pyramid scheme of tariffs if they did not stop the influx of wretched immigrants fleeing violence from Central America. Trump man-splained, "It's about stopping drugs as well as illegals," to which Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador replied, "Social problems don't get resolved with ... coercive measures."

After Trump's tariff announcement, the stock market dropped like an anvil. Even Republican firebrands were incensed. Doddering Iowa Senator "Chuck" Grassley said, "This is a misuse of presidential authority." Iowa's junior Senator Joni Ernst said, "Progress to get this trade agreement [USMCA, the acronym for the rebranded NAFTA] across the finish line will be stifled."

After threatening Mexico, Trump issued an "emergency declaration," allegedly provoked by Iran, in order to sell billions of dollars worth of arms to Saudi Arabia while bypassing Congress. He then taunted Iran saying, "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran."

Then it was reported that while Trump was in a Japanese harbor, a White House directive to move the USS John McCain from the fragile president's view was received by the Navy. Since it is cumbersome to put a destroyer in reverse, the Navy ended up obscuring the ship's name with a canvas tarp and then denying the entire incident.

By the time you read this, the Trump three-day family excursion to England will be over, so we have to wait to see what shameful conduct occurs. Before leaving, Emperor Trump interfered with British politics, endorsing doppelganger Boris Johnson as the next Prime Minister; insulted Princess Meghan Markle in the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid The Sun saying, "I didn't know she was nasty," then denying it, until it was learned a recording existed; and claimed Europe is destroying its culture by admitting so many immigrants.

There are protests planned all over England and Ireland during Trump's official visit. He will be met by the image of a giant penis mowed into property owned by a landscaper on the approach to Stansted Airport, as well as the familiar giant inflated Trump baby blimp soaring above the city. London Mayor Sadiq Khan claimed Trump was "one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat" and compared his language to "fascists of the 20th century."

Trump retorted in a tweet, saying Khan was "a stone cold loser." I don't know about you, but I'm ready for these times to be a little less interesting.

Randy Haspel writes the Recycled Hippies blog.

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