My advice: kick Trump in the nuts

That’s my considered diplomatic advice. From next week’s Hill Times column:

At a press conference held to mark the end of the Parliamentary sitting, Trudeau gave the sort of verbal shrug for which his father became well-known. 

“We continue to make sure that our folks are in regular contact, we continue to work on NAFTA negotiations,” Trudeau said. “I think the next time that I’ll see [Trump] will be at the NATO summit in Brussels and I look forward to continuing to have a constructive relationship with him in which I will continue to stand up for Canadian interests.”

“I believe it’s clear the way we have engaged with the president has been the right one.”

Well, actually, no.  It hasn’t been, at all.

If he is anything at all, Donald Trump is a thug.  Being a thug, he admires thuggery.  Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: those are the men whom Trump most admires.  The ones who are decent, and civil, and play by the rules – like Justin Trudeau, like Angela Merkel, like Emmanuel Macron – are door mats, on which Trump routinely wipes his feet.  He holds them in contempt.

When Trump “won” the U.S. Electoral College with three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, frantic bureaucrats and diplomats around the world scrambled to type up memoranda about what lay ahead.  The peered into the dark, dank recesses of the space where Trump’s brain is supposed to be, and they came up with a strategy that can be summarized in one word: flattery.

Suck up to Trump, they advised.  Kiss his flabby posterior, they said.  It will work.

It didn’t.

Others, like this writer, always had a different view: strongmen admire strength. Aggressors respond to aggression. Having cut his teeth in the take-no-prisoners world of New York City real estate – having literally become a star on a TV show whose principal purpose was humiliating people in prime time – Donald Trump was never going to abruptly change course, and adopt the Marquess of Queensberry rules. 

Having achieved the presidency by being an angry, racist, pussy-grabbing creep, Donald Trump was never going to stop being angry, racist, pussy-grabbing creep.


Justice, conscience, law

This clip from The Ox Bow Incident is why I became a lawyer.  I watched it when I was a kid, and this part – the part with Henry Fonda reading a wrongly-executed man’s letter to his wife – stayed with me.  It changed me.  Take a couple minutes and watch it.


The time in which we are all living is not a movie, of course. Terrible, terrible things are happening now, right now, in real life. Powerful people are committing unspeakable crimes against those without power.  It is not a movie; it is not a debate on Facebook.

All of us are being judged, right now.  In the years to come, people will be judged for what they did do, and what they didn’t do.  All of us.

What have I done, to express my conscience – to give effect to the law and to justice?  Well, not much; not nearly enough. I have written a book, one that directly addresses this new dark age, and it describes what I increasingly believe is the only way out.  Lisa and I and some of our kids are going the States in a few weeks, to again be unpaid volunteers for Democrats in mid-term election races.  And, this Summer, we plan to hold a rally against racism and hate that is growing right here where we live.

Is any of that enough?  Probably not.  But it’s something.

What isn’t enough is a tweet, or a hashtag, or a Facebook link.  You have to do more than that.  As I said at the Merv Leitch Memorial Lecture in Alberta this year:

In the Internet era, where trolls sit in their in their Mom’s basement and spew hate at women and Jews and Muslims and anyone who isn’t like them, you need to do one thing above all: show up. A tweet isn’t enough. A Facebook link isn’t enough. In Canada, with those who are pushing the Trump and Brexit plan, that means peacefully confronting them on the stump or at their offices, and doing all that you can to put their election or re-election in peril. That’s what keeps them up at night. Show up, and make them worry. As Tip O’Neill said: all politics is local. So give the other side a problem that is local and that isn’t going away.

Laws don’t give us a civil society. Our conscience, and our sense of justice, does that.

Act on your conscience, now. You – all of us – are being measured by history.


Why won’t Canada denounce this? Why? (UPDATED!)

It’s the story that made Maddow cry on air.

Read it, here.

And – now – we are also being told that these children are orphans now – they will never be reunited with their parents again.

Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas, The Associated Press has learned.

Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. The government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move Tuesday.

In recent days, some have taken me to task for likening this American regime to Nazis. For saying I hate them. I don’t care: they are like Nazis. And I do hate them.

But what I think doesn’t matter. I’m just a guy with a web site.

What matters is what people with power do and say.

And, so: when will my government – the Canadian government – will finally speak out on this?

When?

UPDATE: And Trudeau condemned it! That is such, such good news.  Proud Canadian, here.


Column: the new world disorder

LONDON – A G7 truth.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who lately knows a thing or two about unsubtle truths, offered up a perfectly English way of describing it all: “Difficult.”

The G7 summit, that is. “This was a difficult summit, with at times some very candid discussions,” May told MPs in the House of Commons. “The United Kingdom, with our allies and partners, will continue to play our part in promoting…the rules-based international order.”

Except, of course, there is no “rules-based international order” anymore. With the exception of the one that Vladimir Putin has unleashed on the West, “rules” and “order” are now decidedly oxymoronic. The new new order – characterized by chaos and disunity and the disintegration of democratic institutions – is the one that prevails, now.

Donald Trump is the embodiment of the new world disorder, and also the glowering face of it. Even the Britons most disinterested in politics knows that much. Down at the bustling Camden Market, above all of the knock-off Nike and Thrasher stuff, there is one T-shirt that is a big seller: one featuring a face, with Donald Trump on one side, and with Adolf Hitler’s on the other.

Just past the Hitler-Trump T-shirts, in an old British Rail yard, is the spot where the Clash practiced, a place called Rehearsal Rehearsals. The legendary punk group posed for their first album cover there, too, and wrote many of the political anthems found on that record.

“Yankee dollar talks, to the dictators of the world,” the Clash’s Joe Strummer howled on their song, ‘I’m So Bored Of The USA.’ “In fact it’s giving orders, and they can’t afford to miss a word!”

“I’m so bored with the U.S.A.

I’m so bored with the U.S.A.

But what can I do?”

Not much, then or now. Trump – as despotic and as deranged as he is – is indisputably in charge. Per Strummer, he’s not just talking, but giving orders.  We listen.

That was the part of the G7 summit in Québec that was the hardest to bear, for the British Prime Minister and our own: being obliged to listen to Trump. Being again forced to take seriously the rantings and ravings of the most unqualified President of the United States in history.

That, too, was the significance of that now-infamous photo, the one that was everywhere to be seen here in London, in the dispiriting day’s following the worst-ever G7 summit: the G7 leaders and advisers sombrely gathered around Germany’s Angela Merkel, as she stood like a schoolteacher above a pouting Trump, his arms crossed, the petulant child. Merkel looked to be imploring Trump about some point, and Justin Trudeau (revealingly, perhaps) was not even in the frame.

The photo’s file name – taken from Merkel’s Instagram account – was “AGMtenseboardroom.jpg.”

“Tense boardroom” is a bit of an understatement. Trump arrived late at the G7, departed early, and left frustration and consternation in his wake. On his way out of town, most notably, Trump lashed out at his host, Trudeau.

Trump said Trudeau was “dishonest.” He said Trudeau was “weak.” He said that Trudeau’s comments about the collapse of the G7 – which were bland and benign diplomatic politesse, and nothing particularly new – were going to “cost the Canadian people a lot of money.”

Trump’s advisors piled on, too. “There’s a special place in Hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” said Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro.

Not since John F. Kennedy raged about John Diefenbaker – not since Lyndon B. Johnson grabbed Mike Pearson by the lapels and shook him – have Canada-U.S. relations been this truly bad. Trump’s attacks on Trudeau – and, to a lesser degree, his dismissal of the G7 what May calls the rules-based international order – left the pundits and the experts in a lather.

Not this one, I confess. As I observed on Twitter, Trump’s preferred social media platform, “Justin Trudeau’s relationship with Donald Trump was always going to reach this nadir: Trump is a dishonest, disgusting thug. No campaign of servility was ever going to change that. But, now that it has, every Canadian should rally to Trudeau’s side.”

And, with the notable exception of the tin-eared Andrew Scheer, Canadians have rallied to Trudeau’s side. From Doug Ford in Ontario to Jason Kenney in Alberta, even Trudeau’s fiercest partisan critics were outraged by Trump’s attacks on a Canadian Prime Minister, and on Canada’s economy.

Meanwhile, Trudeau’s Trump charm offensive – up to and including pretending to take seriously Trump’s daughter, who was previously was only known for designing ugly handbags – was left in ruins at the G7. The thirty-plus phone calls, the many bizarre handshakes – the solicitous tilt of Trudeau’s tousled head, as he feigned interest in Trump’s inanities – all came to naught. Nothing was as important as rescuing NAFTA, a PMO senior staffer told me last year, and now NAFTA appears Canadian completely doomed.

Justin Trudeau, however, isn’t.

Despite having no major legislative success to point to – despite the India imbroglio, despite the #MeToo moments, despite falling behind an uninspiring opponent in fundraising and the polls – Trudeau was politically rescued by the G7. Trump’s extraordinary attacks on the Canadian Prime Minister have united Canadians like they have seldom been before. He may be an imperfect Prime Minister, but he is our Prime Minister, after all.

The G7 may have made for some “very candid discussions,” as the British Prime Minister said. But they also made for something else: Justin Trudeau’s inevitable re-election.

And that, too, is a G7 truth.