Caging Kids, Coddling Kim, Court Catastrophes? All Wins for Trump, Conservatives Conclude

It was a mad week, with Trump proclaiming peace with North Korea without extracting commitments from the rogue state on much of anything, least of all human rights — an attitude that was mirrored by his minions tearing immigrant families apart on the Mexican border. Also, Republicans nominated at least one more white supremacist (I mean the obvious kind) and the Trump team took a beating in the legal system.

The unifying thread of these events, apart from the criminality and incompetence of the star players, was the typically delirious conservative spin regarding all of them.

We started in Singapore on Monday evening, New York time, with Trump shaking hands with Kim Jong Un, a notorious dictator, and declaring that America and the hermit kingdom were now practically allies so his own subjects had nothing to fear from Kim’s starving people and nuclear armaments, notwithstanding the Norks have broken promises to the U.S. many times before.

In the course of this running-dog-and-starving-pony show, Trump shrugged off Kim’s legendary torture and repression of his subjectssaluted an enemy officer, and appeared to offer the dictator a beach condo deal. His new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, backed Trump’s bullshit 100 percent, his loyalty likely marginally prolonging his own tenure.

Also showing his loyalty: Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen, who wrote that “the fact that the statement the two leaders signed referred only to ‘complete denuclearization,’ not ‘complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,’ does not mean that Trump gave up verification or irreversibility in the deal, because there is no ‘deal’ yet, only a ‘communique’ that summarized what the two leaders discussed. We are at the start of the negotiating process, not the end.” Denuclearization is not a “destination,” it seems, but a “journey.”

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Thiessen also said “Trump’s critics need to back off” because “every other approach by his predecessors to stopping Pyongyang’s nuclear drive has failed. So, the president and his team are trying something new; they deserve some latitude to see if this new approach can succeed.” This it’s-so-crazy-it-might-work judgment was echoed by others; the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, for example, wrote that though “Kim and his predecessors never kept their promises before…maybe Trump’s plan will work. Maybe it will work a little and not work a little. Or maybe it will fail altogether. But it’s the result of a president re-thinking a problem that desperately needed a new approach.” The important thing is he tried!

In response, some of Trump’s most loyal subjects caught a little Juche fever themselves.

“President Trump is the most energetic 72 year old in the world, fighting simultaneously on all fronts #HappyBirthdayMrPresident,” ballwashed Dinesh D’Souza, whose campaign finance fraud Trump pardoned last month. “Even Trump’s critics have to note the staggering stamina,” cheered CNN’s Dave Briggs: “+12-hour time change, 4 hours of intensive meetings w/North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un, a pair of sit down interviews followed by a press conference that just surpassed one hour for a man who turns 72 Thursday.” Bet your grandpa can’t take a long plane ride and then pretend to pay attention to what’s going on around him!

“The carrot of wealth — like that of glittering Singapore, where Kim took the opportunity for sightseeing, including a lavish casino run by the Sheldon Adelson’s Sands corporation — certainly worked on the dictator,” babbled Thomas Lifson of American Thinker. “Kim Jong-un clearly loves the boys’ toys of modernity.” Guess Trump’s talk of condos on the beaches turned Kim around! Well, bribery always works great with dictators — look at how the great deal Hitler got from Chamberlain prevented World War II for a couple of months.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration continued its attack on anyone of foreign origin and dark skin, regardless of citizenship status, adding the innovation — unique among liberal democracies — of wrenching children, including breastfeeding infants, out of the arms of their parents and housing them in closed-down Walmarts. This, as observers have pointed out, is what wingnuts used to worry Obama would do to white Americans in their “Jade Helm 15” conspiracy theory, which would be ironic if irony had not long ago died of overwork.

The administration and its factota said it was only obeying the law, which Trump spokesliar Sarah Huckabee Sanders proclaimed “very biblical,” though there is in fact no law requiring that the families be separated. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also cited The Good Book, quoting Romans 13, a passage commonly used by antebellum Southerners to justify holding slaves. And people say what this White House is doing is “unprecedented”!

While normal people were horrified by the obvious brutality, and at what the vicious immigration overreach suggests for the future of our Republic, conservatives asked what the big deal was — though they may be refugees fleeing certain death, these immigrants and their kids are lawbreakers and deserve whatever their nonwhite asses get.

That’s how National Review’s Rich Lowry explained it: What you squishes see as a dystopian nightmare, Lowry said, conservatives consider “a signal that we are serious about our laws and to create a deterrent against re-entry.” And it’s not like the family can’t later be reunited: “If the adult then wants to go home…in this scenario, there’s only a very brief separation.” See? They have a choice.

But if they persist — if, say, “the adult files an asylum claim” claiming refugee status, said Lowry — well, the children may be released before the parents. And then, “even if we want to hold a family unit together, we are forbidden from doing so,” so there’s no choice but to hand the kids off to foster care (where they sometimes disappear). But that’s per an old law, so you certainly can’t blame Trump for leveraging, er, following it. He’s very scrupulous about obeying the law!

As for Trump, Lowry sighed, “despite some mixed messages, if the administration had its druthers, family units would be kept together and their cases settled quickly.” (Try to imagine Trump actually thinking this, or using the word druthers.)

Glib legalism, though, was for those whose careers required they make their arguments look nice. For most conservatives, it was good enough that liberals were upset about the shattered families.

At American Thinker, Monica Showalter chortled, “Suddenly these leftists who’ve never liked family values in the past, are all in for family values.” Then she pulled her ace: “If the left cares as much as it says about family values, and it doesn’t, maybe they can apply that ‘families belong together’ slogan to the case of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban refugee boy who was rescued on the high seas after his mother drowned fleeing here…” Elian Gonzalez is now 24 years old. These Clinton-era grudges die hard!

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Also, there were some elections last Tuesday and, while the Democrats flipped their 43rd state legislature seat since 2016 — this one in a district Trump won by eighteen points — the Republicans were nominating their now-customary crackpots for the general. Perhaps the cream of this crop was new GOP Virginia senate nominee Corey Stewart, supporter of Charlottesville Nazis, famous racists, and the Confederacy.

The big-brain response was to try to dismiss the Republican candidate for a major office as irrelevant, as did White Working Class Whisperer Salena Zito: “Prediction despite several very good GOP challengers running for U.S. Senate in this cycle Corey Stewart will become the media’s standard bearer of who the GOP is,” she tweeted, “and every time he screws up, and he will, they will point to him and say, ‘see!’ ” That’s obviously why liberals made Republicans nominate him, too.

The galaxy-brain response was to deny racism even exists, at least in the whites-oppressing-blacks sense, as David Marcus showed at the Federalist. Sure, wrote Marcus, Stewart said racist things, “but do these things qualify him as a racist today? At a time when even slight, unconscious actions earn that label, indeed when many on the Left argue that racism is the natural and unavoidable state of all white people, who is a racist? And who, if anyone, isn’t?” Maybe racism is just a concept by which we measure our pain.

Oh, meanwhile former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort went to jail on credible suspicion of witness tampering, and Trump and his family’s foundation are being sued by the New York attorney general for, basically, a white-collar crime spree. Things look bad for our own Dear Leader — yet many pundits, not only right-wing trolls but New York Times liberals, told us the real issue is that Samantha Bee and Robert DeNiro say mean swears and (come on kids, it’s America’s version of a Christmas panto, everyone say it with me!) This Is Why Trump Won.

The idea seems to be that deportment beats deportation, and instead of expressing righteous indignation Democrats should impress voters with their manners. My own take is, if Americans really don’t mind that international diplomacy is being treated as just another grift, and either don’t care about children locked in cages or get a racist thrill out of the spectacle, politeness is not going to make a positive difference.


Trump’s ‘Trailer’ for His Summit With Kim Is Ghastly, Hilarious, Tragic

You can tell a lot about a movie from how idiotic its trailer is. And the trailer to the Donald Trump–Kim Jong Un “summit” in Singapore is supremely, tragically, cataclysmically idiotic.

Reportedly, the White House prepared the trailer and showed it to the murderous North Korean strongman before the two leaders sat down together yesterday — as a way of getting him excited for their meeting, perhaps? To convince him not to throw a hissy fit and depart in a huff, thereby making our own Glorious Leader look bad?

Or maybe it was just to establish that these two men essentially speak the same language.

To put it another way: I’m not sure this trailer wasn’t also there to convince Trump himself of the importance of what he was doing. It bears all the hallmarks of something designed to appeal to his vain, one-dimensional impulses. Let’s not forget, there was an English-language version ready to go — not with bland diplomatic translation but with a breathless American narrator intoning every line in dramatic fashion (“It comes down to a choice. On this day. In this time. At this moment…”). Don’t be surprised if one day we discover there was a group of poor schlubs somewhere in the basement of the Trump White House, tasked with creating these kinds of trailers for pretty much every supposedly important thing the president did.

The four-minute video, credited to a nonexistent “studio” called “Destiny Pictures” (apparently there is a real Destiny Pictures, but it reportedly has no relationship to the White House) is constructed from stock footage: gleaming shots of mountains and fields and kids and orchestras and sunsets and cityscapes and the planet — oh god, so many shots of the planet — intercut with images of the two men walking, often in slow-motion, presumably toward their “destiny.” It’s a cheaply produced, unholy hybrid, like someone took a straight-to-VOD action movie knockoff, then combined it with a third-rate investment reel and a cult-brainwashing video you might find in a paranoid political thriller. Sprinkled with some images from an old Monsanto commercial. Imagine the trailer for a Michael Bay movie, if Michael Bay had had a part of his brain removed.

Alarmingly, the trailer captures a particular intersection in our current political culture. It’s notable not just for the diplomatic platitudes it offers but for the action movie clichés it pushes. Certainly, the idea of politicians borrowing from the Hollywood playbook is nothing new. Presidents have pretended to be cowboys for decades. This isn’t even the first time a politician has cast himself in a dumb fake movie trailer. Remember this nonsense from Tim Pawlenty a few years ago?

But no, the Trump-Kim trailer represents something deeper and more sinister, wherein the language of schlock now seems to lead the way and define the debate. Watching this thing, it starts to become clear (if it wasn’t already) that Trump and Kim aren’t meeting to better their societies or to make the world a safer place, but so they can have a fake movie hero moment like this.

To that end, the trailer posits the Trump-Kim meeting as a kind of sequel to the meeting Kim held with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in not long ago. It also uses apocalyptic imagery as a way of boosting the will-they-or-won’t-they “drama” of this summit. “Out of the darkness can come the light,” the narrator intones, as we see the sun emerge behind a spinning Earth, the way it might in a Roland Emmerich movie about a strange interplanetary object hurtling toward the planet.

The somewhat reedy-voiced narrator then goes on to tell us that this is “a story about a special moment in time, when a man is presented with one chance that may never be repeated” — as we see a shot of a basketball player elevating for a slam dunk, because we know Kim likes basketball. “What will he choose — to show leadership and vision…or not?” At this point, the film “breaks” and melts off the screen, and we are plunged into silence, followed by ominous images of missiles and planes and maps. “There can only be two results: one of moving back…or one of moving forward.”

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Moving forward, as you might imagine, involves gleaming cities and factories and robots and drones and smiling happy people. Moving backward? Well, take a wild guess.

For all its cheesiness, the video is, essentially, a threat. And it’s a threat not just to Kim Jong Un, a paranoid dictator who probably understands the language of threats better than anything else. The video has another target, and all those shots of the planet are a dead giveaway. It’s there for us. This whole thing is there to remind all of us that Donald Trump has his tiny little finger on the button. It’s meant to boost his ego and to make us cower. Because in the year 2018, we probably understand the language of trailers better than anything else.

So laugh all you want — I did, a lot — but just remember, we are, all of us, the ones who made this kind of lunacy possible.


Sixpoint Global Warmer So Controversial It Could Be Censored

This week’s Beer in the Headlights is a highly sensitive brew fit for an equally thin-skinned leader. If, in fact, you get to read this review before it is memory-hole’d from the Village Voice website, you should know that the new Global Warmer by Sixpoint Brewing is a decently reviewed red ale. It’s not going to knock your socks off or anything. But that’s not the point. The point is that you have the right to drink and taste it for yourself. And certain rogue forces want to make sure that never happens.

Sometimes a beer is just a beer, you see. Other times a specific blend of barley, hops, yeast, and water forms a message far greater than its constituent parts. So it is with 2014’s Global Warmer — an annual release from Red Hook’s favorite microbrewery — dedicated to calling attention to the incontrovertible, inconvenient truth known as climate change. “There’s no denying it,” Sixpoint asserts in its slogan.

This controversial can carries within it a toffee-laced tandem of toasted malts and brightened hops, to form a seasonally appropriate, slightly bitter beverage. Packing a respectable ABV of 7 percent, it certainly isn’t offensive enough to warrant censorship. But consider the beer’s stylistic classification: Imperial Red. Uh-oh.

Any American product evoking the all-knowing, unstoppable force that is Kim Jong Un must be purged, no matter the cost. And after this week, we know too well that Pyongyang has the power to make that happen. There’s nary a need for me to propose a toast to lil’ Kim. He has already hacked into the craft community, orchestrating a massive bottle trade. The details remain sketchy, but apparently he has expatriated every last pallet of the 2014 Global Warmer to North Korea. In exchange, the American people are allowed to see any Jong Un-approved film of their liking throughout the holiday season. So add that to the Supreme Family’s proud list of accomplishments, right up there with inventing the hamburger, landing a man on the sun, and crippling free speech in Hollywood.

If you’re brave enough to seek out a taste of Global Warmer before it’s permanently scrubbed from our collective databanks (at the end of January), look for canned six-packs at your local bodega. There have also been reported underground sightings on draft at bars throughout the five boroughs. Drink at your own risk.


Daughter of Republican Mayoral Hopeful John Catsimatidis is Sort of a Mini-Celebrity in China

It appears that Chinese media has taken a particular shine to Andrea Catsimatidis, daughter of Gristedes owner and Republican New York City mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis. She’s on a trip with her husband, the grandson of Richard Nixon (yes), to recreate the former president’s trip to the Great Wall with his wife in 1972. Catsimatidis the Younger made it on the cover of the China Daily, while China Radio International reminded us how much Chinese journalists love their click-through slideshows. (Hint: They love their click-through slideshows a lot.)

(h/t WSJ)