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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


Trump Cancels Denmark Trip While Ranting About Obama



Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, responding to President Donald Trump’s offer to purchase Greenland, stressed that the island is not for sale — and Trump responded this week by canceling a trip to Denmark he had planned. Trump has maintained that he believes Frederiksen was being disrespectful, and during a press conference outside the White House on Wednesday, Trump used the cancelation as an excuse to bash former President Barack Obama — telling reporters that foreign countries, including Denmark, cannot get away with the type of disrespect they showed the United States when Obama was in the White House.

Trump told reporters, “I thought that the prime minister’s statement that it was absurd was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do was say, ‘No, we wouldn’t be interested.’”

Trump added, “I thought it was not a nice statement, the way (Frederiksen) blew me off because she’s blowing off the United States. And we’ve done a lot for Denmark…. She shouldn’t treat the United States that way.”

Conservative writer David Frum has a theory on Trump’s decision to cancel his Denmark visit: Trump, Frum told Radio 4, didn’t really cancel because of Denmark’s stand on Greenland, but because he knew Obama planned to visit Denmark next month and feared he would be overshadowed. And Trump was clearly obsessed with Obama during the Wednesday press conference.

Trump claimed that when Obama was president, disrespecting the U.S. was the norm — whereas he demands respect for the U.S.

“President Obama, when they wouldn’t let him land in the Philippines — when they treated him so badly in so many places, the Philippines is one that comes to mind…. They can treat him any way they want to, that’s up to him,” Trump told reporters. “But they can’t treat the United States with the statement ‘how absurd’….Respect has to be shown to the United States.”

Trump went on to address other subjects during the press conference, from gun control to immigration. And he found other reasons to attack Obama, claiming that the policy of separating families at the U.S./Mexico border was instituted under Obama’s watch.

“President Obama had separation,” Trump told reporters. “I’m the one that brought them together….. It was President Obama that had the separation.”

In addition to bashing Obama on immigration, Trump slammed him on Russia policy — claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin got away with more under Obama than it has gotten away with under his presidency.

“Russia outsmarted President Obama,” Trump insisted. “They took over during his term, not during mine. Crimea, they took over Crimea…. President Putin totally outsmarted President Obama on Crimea and other things…. He made a living outsmarting President Obama.”

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Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

A Clear And Present Danger To The Republic

Whenever Donald Trump makes a remark that embarrasses our country before the world, conventional analysis suggests that this is yet another instance of his infantile narcissism. So we were told again when the president of the United States insulted Denmark, one of the founding nations of NATO and a dedicated American ally, by canceling his scheduled trip to meet with the Danish prime minister — supposedly because she had deemed his scheme to buy Greenland “absurd,” which of course it is.

His visit to Denmark was originally requested by Trump, which made its abrupt, petulant cancellation all the more insulting to the Danes. The usual anonymous sources explained that he had other reasons to break the date, such as his aversion to flying overseas and his aversion to Barack Obama, who is also scheduled to visit Denmark next month.

When Trump appears to lose control — and follows up by suggesting that he is “the chosen one” or “the King of Israel” — it seems natural to worry that he is mentally ill. And that is one way to interpret his behavior.

But it isn’t the only explanation.

We consider Trump’s behavior bizarre because it is so incongruous with what we expect from an American president — whose sworn duty, after all, is to act in the national interest. But what if he is consciously acting against the national interest?  That disturbing question arises again and again, as it did during the Russia investigation, because almost everything Trump does can be viewed as inimical to the nation. The Danish incident is only the latest example in the long list that shows a certain method to his supposed “madness.”

In one way or another, Trump has denigrated or undermined American relationships with nearly all of our traditional allies, sometimes repeatedly. He has complained publicly about the French, the Germans, the British, the Australians, to name a few of the most important, and slammed the European Union as a trading and military partner. Indeed, he has strenuously sought to destroy the EU while befriending the so-called populist far right — the heirs of our fascist enemy. That approach to European affairs just happens to coincide perfectly with the political aims of the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile Trump has abandoned long-standing US policy on human rights, not only committing violations on our border but encouraging dictators around the world. Within the space of a few days this year he berated the Canadian prime minister, our friend and ally, while praising the murderous dictator of North Korea. Maybe that was just crazy, or maybe it was something else.

At home, Trump never stops promoting the same divisive themes that pollute our political system, courtesy of the Russian bots sent by his friend Vladimir Putin. For some reason, Trump won’t allow anyone to record his meetings with Putin as would normally be the case. Perhaps he doesn’t want anyone to hear the Russian dictator expressing appreciation for Trump’s long campaign to undermine the FBI counter-intelligence division, which exists to thwart Kremlin espionage.

But then Trump has sought to discredit and disorganize the entire intelligence apparatus of the United States, most recently with his attempted appointment of a lunatic Congressman from Texas as the director of national intelligence. Putin must also be quite grateful for Trump’s systematic effort to destroy American diplomatic capacity, by appointing non-entities to run the State Department while leaving half of its posts unfilled.

Like the trade war that is decimating our agricultural heartland — among the US economy’s most vital sectors — these recurring acts of sabotage are cited by his supporters as evidence of his “nationalism.” They are nothing of the kind. They are inflicting damage that our most determined enemies could never have dreamed possible before he entered the Oval Office.

You can tell yourself it’s all merely proof of his mental instability, his narcissistic compulsions, his ignorance and stupidity. Or you can wonder, as I sometimes do, whether something rational and sinister lies behind this troubling pattern.

Either way, Trump is a clear and present danger to our republic.

Refugee Funds Seized In Denmark — After They’ve Paid Smugglers

Denmark’s parliament passed legislation today that would allow authorities to seize belongings from refugees arriving in the country. The United Nations condemned the move, calling it regrettable — and it will likely lead to friction between the Danish state and refugees who have already spent their life savings getting to Europe.

The Danish government, whose new policy has inevitably led to comparisons with the Nazi policy of confiscating Jews’ belongings in the 1930s, defended itself from such accusations. “We’re simply applying the same rules we apply to Danish citizens who wish to take money from the Danish government,” said Marcus Knuth, the government spokesperson, in an interview with The Guardian last month.

But there are enormous differences of circumstance between Danish citizens and the refugees arriving in Denmark. The Danes live a relatively comfortable life in a country that provides its citizens with some of the most comprehensive social welfare programs in the world. A Syrian who spent the better part of a year first paying smugglers to get his or her family out of Syria, and paying them again to cross into the EU by land or sea, probably does not have a lot of savings left.

Denmark isn’t the only country to implement such a policy. Switzerland implemented a similar measure recently too. Syrian refugees arriving in Switzerland said they were given a receipt detailing the value of their belongings. Said an information form distributed by the Swiss government, “If you have property worth more than 1,000 Swiss francs when you arrive at a reception centre you are required to give up these financial assets in return for a receipt.” And if refugees stay in the country for a decade, they will have to give up to 10 percent of their wages to the government, presumably on top of taxes they will already be paying.

The Danish government’s recent refugee policies haven’t gone unpunished, however.  The UN has led the backlash against the country. It censured Denmark before the legislation even passed and appointed Filippo Grandi, an Italian, as the next chief of its refugee agency, the UNHCR, despite a leadership bid from former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. She helped craft some of Europe’s most restrictive immigration policies while in office, making it somewhat difficult to convince an organization like the UN that she was the right person to assist refugees now.

“The (secretary-general) does not want to be seen supporting the kinds of policies that Denmark and other European countries are pushing,” a Western diplomat said to Reuters before the announcement, adding that Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is very supportive of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “more refugee-friendly policies.”

And Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei also criticized Denmark’s new laws, announcing in an Instagram post that he will close his current exhibition in Copenhagen in protest. The artist, who is also planning to build a memorial to the refugees who perished crossing the Mediterranean, has spent much of the past year focused on drawing attention to their plight. Jens Farschou, the owner of the foundation where his current exhibition is displayed, told the Guardian, “I didn’t try to dissuade him. This is not so much about which country does more or less for refugees, it is the symbolic importance of the new law. This [kind of thing] is spreading over Europe, and we in Denmark are taking the lead in this by making this law.”