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  • June 7th, 2019


                By Joel M. Vance


Pussycat, pussycat where have you been?

I’ve been to London to visit the Queen.


Far be it from me to make any risqué jokes about this old nursery rhyme in conjunction with Donald Trump’s recent visit to Great Britain where he hobnobed with the Royal family (those of them whocould swallow their disgust long enough to be seen with the worst thing to happen to Anglo-American relations since George III was King of England.


Trump was photographed with his hand on the Queen’s back and I will make no further reference either to the nursery rhyme or to Trump’s infamous campaign statement about how he treats women. It was bad enough to the dignity of the British monarchy to be seen with Trump much less be associated with his disgusting personal behavior.


The Internet is alive with a photo of Trump beside Queen Elizabeth, wearing a tuxedo that looks as if it were made for Danny DeVito. He is just about as elegant in his evening clothes as if he had slept in them.  Difficult to read what’s going on in the mind of the Queen because Elizabeth was conditioned from birth to be regal, but I can’t help but imagine that she is thinking “I would rather be treated like one of Henry VIII’s wives than to be encumbered with this Yankee lout, dressed like the Penguin from a Batman movie.”


You have to admire the forbearance of Great Britain’s longest lasting Queen in not swatting the pudgy jowls of this arrogant bigoted interloper for having insulted a member of the royal family, a new mother and one much admired by everyone not named Trump, by calling her “nasty”.


Trump sashayed across the ocean in his usual blundering way, raucously tweeting like a seagull scavenging off a garbage dump, scattering insults and incomprehensible falsehoods–in other words, business as usual. After bumbling his way through England, Trump shambled to Ireland the country from which my forebears immigrated (oh, that horrible word “immigrant”). Maintaining as usual that everyone loves him and ignoring the thousands of protesters who basically were saying “Get the hell out of our country!” He over flew those apparently invisible crowds of anti-Trump Brits, heading for the nearest Trump branded golf course in Ireland where he could, like the proverbial ostrich, bury his head in a sand trap and ignore the fact that lots of folks on the other side of the ocean from Trump Tower hate his bloated guts.


As is usual, Trump managed to make a bad situation worse by suggesting that Ireland, which is divided into two entities— six counties in Northern Ireland, and the rest of the country, known as Ireland should build a wall to separate the two. Both sides of the boundary between the two Irelands quickly tried to repair this diplomatic gaffe by assuring the uneasy Irish that there are no plans to build a wall. Trump apparently focused entirely on his reportedly cheat-laden golf game to the exclusion of knowledge about the tumultuous history between the two Irelands.


Possibly he was harking back to the days of World War II when Northern Ireland was sympathetic to Hitler’s  Germany (possibly more because of anti-English hatred  rather than affection for Hitler’s Germany). After all, he was partly in England to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion which resulted in the defeat of Nazi Germany and presumably quelled the connection between Hitler and the pro-German Irish. But that is giving more credit to Trump for knowing  history than he deserves since he almost daily indicates that if it didn’t happen to him personally he has no knowledge of it and no interest in learning about it. Trump also chose a solemn commemoration of bloody sacrifice to personally attack Robert Mueller and Nancy Pelosi with the backdrop of thousands of crosses commemorating those who died fighting for freedom. This partisan political name-calling rant was just disgusting, a gut wrenching example of just how petty and cruel Trump is at his core.


For example, he gave a rambling interview on British television in which he said that one reason he didn’t go to Vietnam to serve in that bloody war was that “I wasn’t a fan of it” as if it were a sporting event, and then he said it didn’t matter because no one had ever heard of that country anyway. That despite the fact that polls   at the time showed that Vietnam was the number one concern of America’s citizenry. He carefully did not mention the fact that he received medical deferments so he didn’t have to serve from a doctor who was renting from Trump’s father. Is there something in this that doesn’t smell right?


In the interview with Piers Morgan, Trump briefly put on a hat identical to those famously worn by Winston Churchill during World War II. The anti-Trump twitterites instantly made great fun of his appearance in the hat (which made him look remarkably like Moe, Shemp or Larry) and the best of the twitter feeds was this which parodied a famous speech by Churchill: “We shall fight them on the beaches. We shall fight them on the landing grounds. When I say “we”, I mean you, as I’ve got a doctor’s note. Bone spurs, you see. The greatest bone spurs ever, etc.”


It would be hypocritical of me to totally condemn Trump for evading military service during the Vietnam War and taking advantage of deferments. I also had a college deferment during the tail end of the Korean War, but went through ROTC, was commissioned as a second Lieutenant, and spent 13 years in the National Guard. But my unit never was activated and I did not serve in Vietnam. I also was not a “fan” of Vietnam, but I didn’t burn my draft card, move to Canada, engage in antiwar protests, or otherwise actively lobby against what I felt then and feel now was a stupid incursion into the affairs of another country. Trump might want to consider some of those same concerns when he starts thinking about messing with Central and South America, Mexico, Iran or North Korea. It’s one thing to react decisively when attacked as we were at Pearl Harbor; quite another to engage in empire building (as we have done periodically over the last couple of centuries) or to interfere militarily with other countries because we don’t like them (as we also have done a number of uncomfortable times in our history).


I got out of the Guard 50 years ago but I think I still am in what they call the inactive reserve, meaning that theoretically I could be recalled to active duty in case of national emergency. Considering that I’m nearly 85 years old I doubt that I could be any more effective as a warrior than Donald Trump is as president of the United States.


It’s wrong as a national policy to become isolationist, but it’s equally wrong if not worse to ignore or insulate the country from the world. Once we had allies, once we were engaged with the world in an effort to help create a more peaceful and stable environment in which all nations could live and thrive without resorting to bloodshed. Trump seems dedicated to destroying alliances which have been carefully built and preserved for decades if not centuries, and to hobnob with the world’s most repressive and brutal regimes led by some of history’s nastiest dictators (and they truly are nasty as opposed to an innocuous English princess who has the good sense to know a bigoted, misogynistic and despicable slob when she sees one).


The Vance family name traces back to the Norman invasion more than 1000 years ago. According to family genealogists, we were named deVaux when we stormed across the channel to occupy Scotland and Ireland. The name morphed into Vans and ultimately into Vance. Somewhere in the 1700s, some of those Vances immigrated (oh, that horrible word again) to America and we’ve been here ever since, mostly in Missouri since the early days of settlement. The Vance immigrants, breeding like flies, spread all over the New World and soon there were Vances all along the eastern seaboard, what would become Ohio, and creeping over the Eastern mountains to Missouri.


I don’t know if any of my direct line deserves to be called either a son or daughter of the American Revolution, but my great grandpa and great grand uncle both served a few short months in the Union Army in the Civil War before they got captured by the Confederate forces of General Sterling Price. They were spanked on the bottom and sent home to resume their roles as Chariton County farmers. At least their hearts were in the right place even if their military training was not. My uncle Roy Finnell, who married my father’s sister, Lilah Mae Vance, was a sailor in World War I and his son, Roy Joe, was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne in World War II and parachuted behind German lines on D-Day, 75 years ago today (as I write these words). He brought home an English war bride—classic example of Anglo-American love.


Trump would tear apart this historic affection. He has called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) a bunch of freeloaders. He has strained relations with France, a country which supported the American colonists in the Revolutionary War and without whom we might well have remained an English colony. At the same time he has disparaged our traditional allies, he has been eagerly embracing his good buddy Kim Jong Un of North Korea and other dictators who routinely kill off anyone who displeases them.


Trump is a problem and you solve problems by offering solutions. It does no good to complain without offering remedies. Obviously, Trump can be voted out of office in 2020, but why wait that long? He could be impeached but that is a cumbersome process that might well stretch longer than the next election. Why not begin hearings in the House of Representatives that could lead to an impeachment trial? The only thing keeping that from happening is a timid Democrat controlled House. The Democrats need to get off their easily spooked horse and start asking questions— calling key witnesses, hearing what has transpired behind the scenes, and then acting on the information.


Dithering solves nothing and only plays into Trump’s pudgy hands. Those who could derail him routinely defy subpoenas issued by the House, thumbing their collective nose at the rule of law. Call Robert Mueller to testify and ask him what lies behind the many blacked out portions of his report on Trump’s misdeeds as well as the unredacted portions.  America’s voters are visually oriented these days, to their TV, iPad or other visual devices. They aren’t going to read 400 pages of Mueller’s report, but they will absorb his words spoken directly to them via a visual media. Once they understand the meaning of this damning report Trump’s already eroding power base should begin to crumble.


 And as far as those who defy House subpoenas, throw their butts in jail. The House should refer the defied subpoenas to the courts who presumably would call out the authorities to exercise forcible restraint on Trump’s scofflaws.  It would be nice to see at least part of Congress do something positive for a change.





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1 Comment

  1. Paul F. Vang

    June 11th, 2019 at 2:14 pm


    Great blog, Joel. But you might want to take another look at your reference to Northern Ireland supporting Hitler during WWII. I think it’s the other way, with Eire (Ireland) having sympathizers. Northern Ireland is an official part of the U.K. and is closely allied with England – or at least the Protestants are.

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