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Laws, Shmaws: Conservatives Contort Selves to Paint Trump as Winner in Manafort-Cohen Cases

It seems like a long, long time ago that conservatives were America’s “law and order” people. Last Tuesday’s revelation that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had flipped and was implicating Trump in hush money payments — along with the multiple guilty verdicts obtained against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort — had the brethren talking down The Man and hatching novel legal defenses like so many jailhouse lawyers.

Manafort’s conviction on eight out of eighteen charges of tax fraud, bank fraud, and financial-reporting irregularities in the first jury trial brought by Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller — with a second Manafort trial coming up fast — would seem to be bad enough news for Trump, suggesting as it does that Mueller has plenty in the tank for future prosecutions that could be dangerous for the president. But Cohen’s admission — he stated in court that “a candidate for federal office” (plainly Trump) directed him to pay off adult entertainer Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal, and that he had done so “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” — might be interpreted as evidence of a campaign finance violation.

The Manafort and Cohen reports came within minutes of each other, and some conservatives didn’t take the initial shock well. “SO WHEN ARE THEY GONG AFTER ALL THE PEOPLE WHO LIED ABOUT BENGHAZI ONLINE AT THE DIRECTION OF BARRACK OBAMA TO PREVENT HIS LOSING THE 2012 ELECTION?” raved a nostalgic Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit. “But Democrats also have to ask themselves, do they want President Pence? Because that’s what you get if you manage to get rid of Trump,” wrote her colleague Glenn Reynolds, apparently going straight to the bargaining stage.

“If you get your information from the legacy media,” wrote Liz Shield at PJ Media, “you would think that Cohen put the nail in Trump’s coffin with his guilty plea, ‘admitting’ that the president directed him to pay off some (alleged) blackmailing trollops with campaign money. The #resistance is all worked up now because they think this is actually going to happen. When it doesn’t happen, they are going to be angry and, as we have seen, violent.” Clearly these charges were a secret message from Robert Mueller to unleash antifa riots across America. You won’t read that in legacy media!

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But once the initial shock passed, everyone went to their battle stations: The more scholarly types set about splitting legal hairs (“regardless of what Cohen agreed to in a plea bargain, hush-money payments to mistresses are not really campaign expenditures”), while the dimmer lights told us how great this news was for Donald Trump.

“The press thinks yesterday was a bad day for the President. Actually, it was a good day for the President,” wrote Erick Erickson at the Resurgent. In fact, he continued, it “probably helps Trump in 2020,” because even “to the extent this causes voters to put Democrats in charge of the House, it gives the President some group he can more easily vilify.” Now all Trump has to do is lose both houses of Congress by a veto-proof majority, and he’ll have the Democrats right where he wants them.

At the Washington Examiner, Byron York also found Manafort’s conviction good news for Trump: After all, “Manafort was convicted of shady dealing going back a long way. His behavior had been examined by the Obama Justice Department, which took no action against him. It was only because Manafort hooked up with Trump…that Manafort got caught and his foreign money schemes exposed.” So, from a certain perspective, Manafort is Obama’s fault, and the Trump presidency resulted in his conviction. Also, said York, Manafort’s case had given the public “a glimpse into what Washington influence peddlers have gotten away with for decades” — and isn’t Trump all about draining the swamp?

Various volunteer legal advisers used their media venues to tell the president he could beat the rap. Radio shouter Mark Levin, for example, compared Trump’s payoffs to former sexual partners with hypothetical payoffs to “vendors” or “a disgruntled employee,” which in Levin’s view would be “perfectly legal” — though he didn’t stipulate whether, in these hypothetical situations, Trump had also fucked the vendors or disgruntled employee and was trying to keep that a secret for political purposes. (But from what former Trump doorman Dino Sajudin has been telling the press, we may get to test that scenario soon enough.)

At the Federalist, Mollie Hemingway viewed the events of the week from a moral rather than legal perspective, making them easier to spin. On Manafort’s and Cohen’s tax frauds, Hemingway gently chided, “Nobody likes paying onerous taxes, but the way to fight high taxes is through political means, not by lying to the federal government” — as if Manafort and Cohen were conscientious objectors to IRS regulations rather than tax cheats.

Hemingway then redirected her readers’ attention to what she apparently thinks is the real problem: a lack of faith in the justice system, caused by the prosecution of Republicans. “A big problem for federal prosecutors,” she claimed, “is that public trust in their application of the rule of law is low because of how they handle political cases.” Hemingway cited no metric for measuring the “public trust” of prosecutors, which is probably wise, considering how high Robert Mueller’s poll numbers are right now.

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As for Trump paying off co-adulterers, Hemingway allowed that “adultery is wrong” and “spouses are called to live a sexually pure and decent life in what they say and do.” She no doubt hopes Trump has learned a valuable lesson, or at least will say that he has at the next fundamentalist group hug.

At Reason, Clark Nelly predicted that “Trump will emerge from the Michael Cohen kerfuffle more powerful, more energized, and more electable than he was going in,” because “given how complex and abstruse campaign finance laws are, can any candidates be 100 percent confident they committed zero violations?” Surely Joe Sixpack will be able to relate to this legal dilemma.

At American Greatness, Roger Kimball did a J’Accuse over the grave injustice done Manafort and Cohen. “Like a cat toying with an injured mouse, the modern major prosecutor keeps batting his prey about till he stops moving altogether,” he wrote. “For wretched power-drunk commissars like Robert Mueller, the process, because of the punishment, is all the fun. They enjoy tormenting people.” Watch for the day Kimball says anything so sympathetic about a victim of overzealous prosecution who is not a rich, white fixer for Republicans; when it comes, commission a skating rink in Hell.

It got to the point where NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch was telling people with a straight face that prosecutors were “trying to Al Capone the president,” referring to the gangster’s famous conviction for tax evasion rather than for greater crimes the feds couldn’t make stick. She got a lot of ribbing for that (“Some other resonances between Trump and Al Capone”), but, from the point of view of Trump supporters, it makes sense: It was always obvious that, one way or the other, the criminally connected Trump would wind up in legal trouble as president; the only question is whether he can get off. As more Trump associates flip, his fans seem to think raising the noise-to-signal ratio will help — perhaps by raising the specter of a popular “revolt,” as Rudy Giuliani tried to do. But if they want to convince normal people that their leader should be above the law, they’re going to have to come up with more compelling material.

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Conservatives Can’t Identify Journalism, Confuse It With Doxxing

People usually frame Trump’s war on the press as if it’s just him making Soviet-style “enemy of the people” declarations against the media. But Trump gets plenty of help in belittling the mainstream press from conservative media — and not just by them parroting his punch lines, either.

One great example of this occurred last week when reporters asked for information about the jurors assigned to the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Conservatives accused the journalists of trying to sway the jurors into ruling for a conviction against Manafort, who is charged with eighteen counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, and hiding foreign bank accounts.

Jurors started deliberating Wednesday. Surprisingly, considering how mobbed up Manafort (and indeed the whole Trump apparatus) is, they have not been sequestered, meaning it’s probably likely that jurors have heard President Trump lobby on behalf of his old friend. (“It’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort,” Trump told the press, an endorsement that Manafort’s defense lawyer said he appreciated.)

We may never find out what jurors thought or heard during deliberations once the trial ends. Judge T.S. Ellis III has blocked the release of any information that might get them identified by the press. Requesting access to juror info is a common reporter gambit — used, for example, after the Bill Cosby trial — to get the sort of juror quotes you read in high-level, post-trial reports. The Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC, Politico, and BuzzFeed all petitioned the court together to obtain the jurors’ names and addresses and other currently unavailable Manafort trial information, citing precedent that jury information should be revealed “absent extraordinary circumstances such as ‘realistic threats of violence or jury corruption.’ ”

But, Judge Ellis said there had been threats — to him. Ellis revealed he was under the protection of U.S. marshals, and said he feared for the jurors’ “peace and safety,” which led him to refuse the request.

Seems pretty straightforward. But conservatives — who did not know, or did not care to know — that this was standard journalistic practice told readers that reporters wanted to know the jurors’ names, not to write stories, but so they could “dox” them to coerce a conviction of Manafort on behalf of the Democrats.

At the Federalist, Bre Payton attacked what she described as CNN’s “long history of doxxing threats and harassment” and said “publicly outing the names and home addresses of jurors is considered ethically questionable” — as if it had been established that CNN, or anyone else, planned to do that to the Manafort jury.

Payton cited two pieces of evidence for her claim: CNN’s 2017 attempt to expose the person who posted a viral clip of Trump beating up a guy who had a CNN logo covering his head, and the network’s February 2018 contentious interview with Florine Gruen Goldfarb, a Florida Trump supporter whose Team Trump Broward Facebook page, according to CNN, listed events “promoted and encouraged by Russian trolls.” (Goldfarb’s responses in an interview with CNN regarding the possibility that Russians hacked into her group’s Facebook account were maladroit; she said accusations of Russian involvement were just a “cover-up” for “the shooting that was done at the high school.” At the time, conservative media portrayed her as an innocent victim of a “reporter ambush” who was “receiving threats on social media,” thus proving she had been “doxxed” rather than her merely having agreed to be interviewed.)

Payton’s accusations gave the brethren some talking points. “CNN Accused of Intimidating Paul Manafort Jury,” claimed John Nolte at Breitbart. Nolte called the request by CNN and the “six other far-left media outlets…disturbing and almost unprecedented.”

Nolte seemed to take Payton’s word that CNN planned to publish the jurors’ names and addresses without their consent. As evidence Nolte cited how CNN, during its 2013 coverage of the trial of George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin briefly showed a police document onscreen that showed Zimmerman’s Social Security number. Apparently this had been done in error, and yet Nolte nonetheless portrayed it as proof of CNN’s “desperation for a conviction in that case.” (He didn’t say how Zimmerman’s Social Security number would have helped the prosecution.)

Nolte suggested something similar was happening with Manafort: “What many see here, and not without precedent,” he wrote, “is yet another attempt by the media, most especially CNN, to bully and intimidate private, everyday citizens into convicting Manafort.… Jurors are almost certain to learn that these powerful anti-Trump outlets are hunting them down.”

“CNN and Other Leftist Outlets Accused of Planning to Smear Manafort Jury,” said Cillian Zeal at the Conservative Tribune. “CNN’s request to the court looks less like an act of journalists seeking information than it does the groundwork of a plan to attack the Manafort jury if it comes back with a verdict the media doesn’t like.… It’s doxxing, plain and simple.”

Perhaps aware that all but the most credulous wingnut readers would find this argument unconvincing, some conservative commentators clung to plausible, just-asking, others-accuse deniability, but some couldn’t restrain themselves.

“Was The Media Trying To Dox And Intimidate Jurors At Paul Manafort’s Trial?” riddle-me-this’d RedState. But after a few paragraphs it lost its cool: “This seems like a raw attempt at jury tampering. Like these news organizations were telling the jurors ‘we know where you live and if you f*** this up we’ve got you.’ ”

“Judge Ellis in Manafort Case Denies Dox-Factory CNN’s Demand for Juror Information,” brayed Ace of Spades, “Says He Himself Has Been Threatened, and The Jurors Would Be As Well.” Then Spades added, “Of course. That was the point. Also the point? Letting the jurors know that the media is very interested in digging up their identities, and will keep on trying.”

“Perhaps [the jurors] have seen the videos of Trump administration officials harassed in restaurants, businesses protested and boycotted for expressing pro-Trump sentiment, and street attacks by Antifa,” mused William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. “While a Not Guilty verdict for Manafort would not in fact be a ‘pro-Trump’ gesture, there is little doubt it would be perceived that way by the anti-Trump resistance.”

“Why do you suppose seven news organizations — all liberal, presumably — wanted to know who the jurors are and where they live?” asked John Hinderaker at Power Line. To contact them for interviews? Wrong! “They are worried that the jury, having heard the evidence, may not render the ‘right’ verdict, i.e., the one that helps the Democratic Party,” declared Hinderaker. “So they want to know who the jurors are so they can apply pressure on them through mob action, newspaper denunciations, online harassment and so on. This is how today’s Democratic Party operates.”

“Wow. So now they’ve gotten into the jury-tampering business,” marveled Monica Showalter at American Thinker. “They’re more interested in who the jury is than the trial itself.” Showalter compared the press to “Jean-Paul Marat, one of the French Revolution’s bloodthirstiest leftists (this is where we get the term ‘leftist’),” and added, “Oh, and note that this request takes place in the city of Alexandria, Virginia, home of shotgun political violence against Republican House leader Steve Scalise, who was nearly killed by aimed gunfire in a leftist assassination attempt while on a baseball field. You can bet the jury knows about that one.” It all adds up!

“Suing to doxx jurors was more threatening than simply doing it,” tweeted actor-turned-troll James Woods. “It’s like the mafia leaving a dead fish on your windshield.”

“And you can bet that the minute this information becomes publicly available, CNN will rush to broadcast it [sic] every single American — including the deranged ones — it can reach,” said Vivek Saxena at BizPac Review.

Yeah, that’s how journalists operate. They claim they’re “reporting news,” but they’re really passing on orders to kill. It’s easy to understand why conservatives think this way. They themselves admit that right-wing media outlets don’t do a lot of reporting, and most are simply content to chest-pound on behalf of Donald Trump. So would they even recognize what journalism is? Under such circumstances it would make sense if they came to consider journalism in the same way they consider creative endeavors: as vaguely disreputable dark arts practiced only by their enemies, to be beaten back with slander and propaganda.

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Oh, the Caucasity! Right Rages at Jeong’s White People Jokes

It’s an article of right-wing faith that white people are oppressed by people of color, enabled by nefarious liberals (who are, in this scenario, always imagined to be white). Last week the conservatives got a chance to indulge this fantasy big-time when it was revealed that the New York Times’ latest hire, tech journalist Sarah Jeong, who is Korean American, had over the years made a bunch of OMG-white-people jokes on Twitter; wingnut shit-stirrers circulated these, proclaimed Jeong (everybody say it with me now!) the Real Racist, and demanded white people be treated like a protected group under the 14th Amendment.

“Jeong’s Twitter account is replete with racial insults against white people, whom she has described as ‘groveling goblins,’ ‘bullshit,’ ‘miserable,’ and ‘dogs,'” harrumphed National Review.

“At one point, Jeong tweeted a crude graph claiming that as whiteness increased so did awful,” said Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Thursday. “Later she said that white people smell like dogs.” Carlson suggested Jeong’s tweets could lead to a Nazi purge of white people — a honkycaust, if you will: “Is there really an entire race of people so repulsive, so morally repugnant that it is ‘literally impossible’ to wrong them?… It’s not hard to guess where ideas that like that wind up. We’ve seen it. All of us should be afraid of it.” First they came for the Caucasians…

As an old white man I guess I’m supposed to be offended by Jeong’s tweets, too, but maybe I’m not watching enough Fox News, because to me they’re just bitchy-funny eye-rolls — like her complaint about “white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants”; to me that’s a laugh, while to Tyler O’Neil at PJ Media it’s “not only a profanity-laced tirade, but a tirade comparing people to dogs because of the color of their skin!”

Then there’s her apparent response to news stories about declining white birth rates, “White people have stopped breeding. You’ll all go extinct soon. This was my plan all along,” and sass like “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men,” etc. Not nice, but I mean are these guys new to Twitter?

Some Jeong material conservatives just wrenched out of context. Take her 2014 tweet, “Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins,” which PJ Media’s Tyler said “suggested a whole race of people were unfit for above ground habitation due to the color of their skin”; but that tweet Jeong had preceded with “G O T T A H E A R B O T H S i d e s — Andrew Sullivan,” suggesting it was a reaction to Sullivan’s widely-known insistence that he only promotes Charles Murray’s theory that black people are intellectually inferior to whites because otherwise that theory would be unfairly suppressed.

Still, many conservatives pretended Jeong’s  “White Guys Drive a Car Like This” jokes were hate crimes and leapt to defend white people from her genocidal rage.

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When people tried to explain that minority-group punching up is different from majority-group punching down, conservatives pretended to be mystified. At Hot Air John Sexton said Jeong was “the elite punching down, not the victim punching up,” because “the average household income of Asian Americans is higher than it is for whites or any other group,” plus she went to Harvard, while “there are plenty of white people out there who are not doing particularly well in terms of wealth, or drug addiction, or life expectancy at the moment.”  Jeong’s the real oppressor, attacking whatever poor hillbillies were following her on Twitter.

David French even suggested at National Review that Jeong’s tweets might get white people killed: “The problem with anti-white racism is…it can and does create individual injustice in those instances where anti-white racism manifests itself in more than just tweets and academic journals.” It’s an intersectional knockout game!

At The Federalist Joy Pullmann actually topped French, comparing Jeong to alt-right neo-Nazis. “Put the shoe on the alt-right foot, and it fits perfectly,” Pullmann claimed. “‘We were just imitating the rhetoric of people who called us racists by actually being racists.’ ‘We were just counter-trolling.’ ‘Our racism was intended as satire.’” Of course, the alt-right guys, unlike Jeong, actually physically attack their enemies, and in fact killed a woman in Charlottesville — which Pullmann knows, because she mentioned that in her first graf.

“If it wishes to be consistent,” Pullmann continued, “The New York Times owes President Trump, Jordan Peterson, and the alt-right an apology for labeling them racists for doing the precise same thing The New York Times did this week.” Wait, so the Times put brown-skinned immigrant babies in cages to be sexually abused, and deported a U.S. veteran’s brown-skinned wife? The Mainstream Media is more powerful than I ever imagined!

“‘Cops f—king suck’ and ‘they’re f—king horrible,’ according to this Harvard Law alumna, who hates the men and women whose job it is to enforce the law,” sputtered Robert Stacy McCain — yes, the American Spectator honest-to-God got McCain, a former member of the neo-Confederate League of the South, to bitch about Jeong. McCain also wrote, “Ms. Jeong has routinely expressed her total contempt for males,” and lamented that “no one at Harvard or at the New York Times will speak a word in favor of white people, Christians, heterosexuals, or police officers.”

Andrew Sullivan inevitably weighed in, seeming less mad at Jeong than at the white race traitors who refused to be as enraged as he was: “Scroll through left-Twitter and you find utter incredulity that demonizing white people could in any way be offensive,” he gasped. “That’s the extent to which loathing of and contempt for ‘white people’ is now background noise on the left.” They’ve gone native, like the white captives in The Searchers!

Sullivan iced the cake by complaining about the “goblins” line — he said Jeong was treating “an entire race as subhuman” — without knowing, or at least pretending not to know, that Jeong had been responding to his own writing.

Amazingly, the Times didn’t fold like wet cardboard, but said they’d had a talk with Jeong, asked her not to do it again, and would keep her. Not exactly John Peter Zenger, but not bad for the Times. And Jeong’s former employer, The Verge, basically told the wingnuts to fuck off, saying “journalists have been increasingly targeted by people acting in bad faith who do not care about the work they do, the challenges they face, or the actual context of their statements,” and “online trolls and harassers want us, the Times, and other newsrooms to waste our time by debating their malicious agenda…. This is not a good-faith conversation; it’s intimidation. So we’re not going to fall for these disingenuous tactics.”

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Once it sunk in that Jeong wasn’t going anywhere, conservatives responded that they didn’t want her fired, really — they just wanted to make the point that Jeong, The New York Times, and liberals are racist against white people.

“We don’t want to see her fired because of a mob,” wrote Twitchy (which, given their ten posts on Jeong in four days, clearly qualifies as part of that mob). “The whole thing just makes it perfectly clear who The New York Times considers a good addition to the team.”

“Jeong should not be fired…. But we must be clear that The New York Times is being dishonest,” wrote David Marcus at The Federalist. “It is now acceptable to insult and denigrate white people as a whole in a way that even a decade ago was viewed as entirely unacceptable.”

“It is actually better for us that the NYT not fire Jeong,” wrote one of many “free-speech activists” on Twitter. “If they were to fire her, it might cause anti-whites to hide a little more, but keeping anti-whiteness in the shadows prevents redpilling. Not firing her provides clear evidence to all of the NYT‘s anti-whiteness.”

They obviously think this’ll work out for them. After all, their leader has shown that you can win the presidency at least once with almost no POC support — why can’t conservative media do the same? In fact, for many of them it’s obviously liberating: Last weekend on Fox News, Jesse Watters, a racial humor expert, had comedian Terrence K. Williams on to call Jeong “Chinese, Japanese, or Crazy-nese” and say “something is wrong with the fortune cookies Ling Ling is eating.”

Conservative commenters on Twitter exulted over this: “I’m sorry but the press just got done saying racist comments were ok,” “Aren’t these fun new rules the NYT created great for everyone!” etc. Count me in, too: I’m looking forward to these guys coming out with ever more racist material and explaining to the public that it’s the fault of some tech columnist 99.9 percent of them have never heard of. Let’s see what normal people think about that. One way or another, it’ll be an education.

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Conservatives Cry ‘Shadow Ban’ Over Twitter Bug, Demand Their Right to Troll

Conservatives are constantly at one end or the other of a giant mood swing: They’re either exulting that they and their beloved Trump are riding a Red Wave that will crush all the puny, impotent liberals — or they’re blubbering that these same puny, impotent liberals are being mean to them and something must be done about it. A ridiculous Twitter “shadow banning” controversy was just the most recent example of the latter.

As commonly understood, shadow banning is a moderator muting an account without letting the user know. What a report in Vice last week discovered instead was that when one did a Twitter search on certain Republicans — including GOP Congressmen Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and Matt Gaetz, and “Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesman” — their “profiles continue to appear when conducting a full search, but not in the more convenient and visible drop-down bar.”

Vice queried Twitter, which referred them to a blog post suggesting the situation had been caused by “new tools” they’d implemented to combat “troll-like behaviors” — such as “sign[ing] up for multiple accounts simultaneously” or “accounts that repeatedly Tweet and mention accounts that don’t follow them,” behaviors associated with malicious trolls but which could also just be a sign of aggressive self-promotion. Twitter also told Vice it was “shipping a change to address this.”

Not really a shadow ban at all, in other words, but conservatives — including the president of the United States — liked the sinister sound of the term and used it anyway. “Republican feels ‘victimized’ by Twitter ‘shadow banning,'” reported the Hill. “Twitter slammed for ‘shadow banning’ prominent Republicans,” cried Fox News.

Minor as this may sound to normal people, the brethren embarked on several days of shit-fits over it.

Hot Air‘s John Sexton professed to find it “odd that only Republicans appear to have triggered false positives.” When Twitter informed him the search issue affected Democrats too, Sexton was not mollified: “That doesn’t mean the impact is proportional by political affiliation,” he sniffed. “Granted, the number involved is unknown, but obviously, if you expand the disparate impact to 10,000 users or a million, that’s a significant partisan advantage.” And what if you expend it to a kajillion users? It’s bigger than Watergate!

At Fox News, James Hanson made the common category error of referring to Twitter, which is basically a microblogging platform with enforceable terms of use, as a “public square” to which everyone has a Constitutional right to equal access. “What about the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of speech?” Hanson harrumphed. “Like it or not, it protects us all” — from being thrown out of someone else’s house, apparently.

“It sure looks to me like they are censoring people and they ought to stop it,” said Trump loyalist and California Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, who also claimed to be looking at “legal remedies.”

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You may roll your eyes at such conservative snowflakery over such a small thing, but the squeaky wheels got their grease; Vice reported that Twitter hustled to fix the search feature so that it would “no longer limit the visibility of some prominent Republicans in its search results,” and the celebs got their extra nanoseconds of prominence.

This is why conservatives constantly bitch that social media companies are persecuting them: It’s another of the many ways they work the refs so big media companies, terrified that they’ll be accused of bias, give them unearned breaks. (See the New York Timeslatest Trump-fluffing article as an example.)

When Facebook changed its algorithm to promote news sources they considered “trustworthy,” “informative,” and “local,” publishers of all kinds suffered drops in traffic; conservatives did, too, but tended to attribute it to ideological bias. Gateway Pundit, for example, a notorious volume dealer in bullshit and disseminator of Russian propaganda, experienced a drop in traffic, so they denounced the new algorithm as a “purge” (“Conservative Publishers Hit Hard By Facebook Algorithm Changes — Gateway Pundit Hit the Hardest”).

At National Review, Ben Shapiro noted Facebook’s claim that it “determine[d] whether a source is ‘broadly trusted,'” and favored that content by “ask[ing] users if they are familiar with a news source and then whether they trust that news source” — but Shapiro claimed this was actually prejudicial against conservatives because “activists on the left are more common on Facebook than activists on the right, so the Right will be more easily damaged.” In other words, they were outvoted, which is by definition unfair. (Well, conservatives aren’t known for their faith in democracy.)

One might ask: Why don’t conservatives, who claim to believe in the free market, just shrug and take their business elsewhere? After all, there are services like Gab and Ricochet that cater to conservatives — they ain’t much now, but surely patriots can build them to greatness just as they built this great country out of the wilderness. But persecution mania beats principle for a lot of these guys, and some have begun to talk about the need to use government to force social media to their will.

At National Review John Hawkins made “The Conservative Case for Breaking Up Monopolies Such as Google and Facebook,” on the grounds that “big tech companies discriminate against conservatives.” Also at National Review, Victor Davis Hanson complained that “none of these tech giants are held to the same oversight that monitors rail, drug, oil, or power companies” even though “Google alone determines each day what sort of imaging — much of it ideologically driven — billions of Internet users will see on screens.”

And in April Congressional Republicans held hearings — featuring the false testimony of wingnut buffoons Diamond and Silk — that were self-evidently intended to show Facebook and other social media companies their power. And shortly after the hearings Facebook apparently got the message, hiring top conservatives to review their practices.

There was another big piece of social media news last week when YouTube removed some videos by, and Facebook suspended, Alex Jones, the InfoWars psycho who, among other atrocities, has suggested that the kids slain in the Sandy Hook massacre were actually “crisis actors” only pretending to be killed.

Jones’ suspension is only for thirty days, and InfoWars itself has not been touched, which observers believe shows how nervous Facebook is about interfering with prominent right-wing entities, however nuts.

Facebook’s VP for video explained that while InfoWars was “absolutely atrocious … we have the hard job of balancing freedom of expression and safety … if you are saying something that’s untrue on Facebook — you’re allowed to say it as long as you’re an authentic person and you adhere to our community standards — but we’re trying to make it so it doesn’t get that much distribution.” (Some refs were apparently born to be worked!)

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Still, you may be pleased to hear that only a few actual conservative friends stood to defend Jones. Sure, the Daily Stormer was all in (“Facebook Cracking Down on Alex Jones NOW! After JewTube Already Did!”), as was Jones’ InfoWars colleague Paul Joseph Watson. But even Breitbart headlined its related story “Facebook Suspends Alex Jones for ‘Hate Speech’ Days After Execs Said It Wouldn’t,” as though the issue were merely a contract dispute, and most of the big conservative outlets let the event pass in embarrassed silence (including National Review, which last addressed Jones in the July 17 essay “Why Facebook Shouldn’t Ban InfoWars“).

But Jones has at least a few out-and-proud major defenders in rightwing world. For one, Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson claimed CNN was “agitating for Alex Jones to be pulled off YouTube,” and added, “Now I know we’re supposed to think Alex Jones is way more radical than, like, Bill Maher, Michelle Wolf, or Rosie O’Donnell, but he’s got a point of view …” Jones is also a comedian, see, only one who specializes in dead-children jokes.

And Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, locked in a surprisingly tough race with Democrat Beto O’Rourke and apparently hoping to stir up his base, tweeted, “Am no fan of Jones — among other things he has a habit of repeatedly slandering my Dad by falsely and absurdly accusing him of killing JFK — but who the hell made Facebook the arbiter of political speech? Free speech includes views you disagree with. #1A.”

“[Cruz’s] tweet on Saturday confused legal experts,” reported Salon. But those of us who know how scared big media companies, social or otherwise, are of even the fringiest wingnut and how likely such complaints are to produce the desired effect, were not confused at all.

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Right Wing’s New Breed Are Loving Trump’s Putin-esca

Our Mainstream Media friends love consensus and comity the way little kids love Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, and have been busy telling their readers that conservatives — who are, in their imagining, loyal opposition types like on The West Wing who you can count on to do the right thing when the chips are down — are, since Donald Trump’s disturbingly palsy-walsy turn with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, finally turning sour on the apparent Russian asset.

This may be true for certain old-fashioned wing nuts, but it appears right-wing up-and-comers, and some older ones keen to get with the new order, are actually loving this new Russia thing — or at least hating the people who are against it enough to go along.

Trump’s foreign policy ramblings last week — from his suggestion that our European defense arrangements with NATO just aren’t worth the effort, to his Monday meeting in Helsinki with Russian president Vladimir Putin and insistence afterward (later retracted) that, despite what his intelligence services said, Russia didn’t interfere with the 2016 U.S. election, to his seemingly impulsive invitation of Putin to Washington — made a lot of people nervous.

Big media outlets, perhaps trying to soothe these people, hastened to point out that some of Trump’s critics were conservatives.

“A conservative magazine criticized Trump for meeting with Putin,” headlined Vox. But they were talking about the Weekly Standard, already “a frequent critic of President Donald Trump,” Vox admitted.

“Even Conservative Media, Trump’s Usual Defenders, Struggle To Explain Helsinki,” announced NPR, offering in evidence a few right-wing demurrers, from mild (“I guess I don’t understand why he’s so deferential to a horrible person” — Fox News’ The Five) to spicy (“Disgusting” — Neil Cavuto).

“GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki,” reported the Hill, repeating measured criticisms of Trump’s Putinismo by such moral firebrands as Mitch McConnell.

The Guardian gave conservative writer Charles Sykes — from, surprise, the Weekly Standard! — room to criticize Trump. Sykes was more peppery than Trump’s congressional conservative critics (“He looked like Putin’s caddy”) and even went so far as to declare that Trump’s “vision is not conservatism,” which is rather like a parish priest accusing the Pope of heresy.

The Federalist let National Review author Jonathan S. Tobin grace its pages with “Here’s Why The Right Shouldn’t Excuse Trump’s Performance At Helsinki.” Tobin never quite followed through on his title, though, and if anything gave the impression that Trump’s actions, i.e., “abasing himself in front of Putin,” were less inexcusable than unseemly. Tobin also larded the essay with criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy, perhaps as a condition of publication, and ended by admitting, “If Trump continues to govern as a conservative he will not lose the support of his party,” and calling for Congress to “do something to restore American credibility.” What “something,” he didn’t say. Maybe another tax cut?

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But these criticisms, such as they were, came from an older, more publicly restrained species of conservative: those who support the same principles as any other kind (i.e., tax breaks for the rich and white supremacy), but who are obliged by tradition and social anxiety to pretend an interest in other, higher values as well — such as love of country and liberty and justice for all, if that’s not too embarrassing — if only to preserve their self-respect and protect themselves from public abuse.

The newer breed of conservative — rightbloggers, tweeters, internet Nazis, et alia — have no such anxieties, and are more inclined to approve of whatever Trump approves against all comers: liberals, national allies, other conservatives, whoever. Putin and Russia they saw as friends of Donald, like Roy Moore or Dinesh D’Souza, and that was good enough for them.

At the Federalist, in an article listed at this writing as their “Most Popular,” Willis L. Krumholz insisted Trump had “undermined” not America but rather “Our Power-Abusing Intelligence Agencies.” Krumholz first defended Trump by denouncing his attackers — for example, referring to a group of legal experts asked by Newsweek to assess Trump’s nearness to treason (and who had given mostly noncommittal, lawyerly answers) as “a group of liberal law professors, who naturally have an affinity toward bending the law to achieve their desired outcomes.” No, I don’t know what that means either, and Krumholz didn’t explain it, but he went on to tell readers the lib lawyers had “accused Trump of committing treason” and “treason is a crime punishable by execution.” In other words, they were calling for Trump’s death. So much for the tolerant Left!

As for Trump, Krumholz portrayed him as above suspicion, while saying that “of course it is appropriate to doubt the U.S. intelligence agencies” that were investigating him. These agencies were, Krumholz wrote, directly responsible for “arming bad guys around the world” — like those U.S. intelligence agents who traded arms to Iran in order to fund the Contras without the knowledge of poor, senile Ronald Reagan, and the CIA operatives who fucked up the Bay of Pigs, forcing an innocent John F. Kennedy to take the rap. (Just kidding: Krumholz’s references in this regard, and probably the long-term memories of most of his readers, only go back as far as Syria 2017.)

Some operatives lunged for former CIA director John Brennan, who unlike the Newsweek lawyers did accuse Trump of treason, for which Republicans in Congress, apparently not as skeptical of Trump as advertised, want to investigate him. “We see [Brennan’s] animus nakedly on display,” seethed Power Line’s Scott Johnson. “He is demented by hatred.”

“John Brennan is the epitome of the swamp…the one who knew that Hillary Clinton paid for a fake dossier,” yelled TV’s Judge Jeanine Pirro on Fox & Friends, presumably referring to the Steele Dossier, which appears to be coming true before our eyes. Pirro further vocalized, “What was [Trump] supposed to do, take a gun out and shoot Putin?” I wonder which congressional investigator will carry her question to Brennan.

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The cleverer Trump fans applied some imaginative spin to the problem. The New York Times’ Ross Douthat pooh-poohed the idea that Trump is a Russian asset on the grounds that he’s too dumb: “You would expect a real Russian asset to pretend he isn’t one publicly while quietly pursuing pro-Russian policies behind the scenes,” tweeted Douthat. “Trump has basically done the reverse.”

While Trump’s Russophilic effusions are obvious, Douthat did not delineate what Trump’s anti-Russian policies might be. NPR’s Scott Horsley did it for him: For example, Trump “gave U.S. forces in Syria more leeway to engage with Russian troops” — the helpfulness of which is limited now, however, as Trump has pulled U.S. support from the Syrian rebels. Horsley further noted Trump’s April sanctions on some Russian oligarchs, though it’s beginning to look as if Trump’s way of getting money to Russian oligarchs is more interesting — as well as more effective — than his way of keeping it from them.

The Federalist’s John Allen Gay backed Trump on his shocking dismissal of new NATO member Montenegro. It’s just a little dinky place, sniffed Gay, yet “we are tied to them for all future scenarios.” Makes you wonder why we have these stupid treaties in the first place! Also the Senate approved Montenegro’s entry in a “rubberstamp procedure” — they let anyone in these days — and “it will likely be a similar story when Macedonia joins next, even though Macedonia also can’t do much to defend America.” C’mon, let Putin have the place if he wants it so bad — and events suggest he does! At least it’s too late to let Ukraine drag us down with their membership.

On his podcast, Ben Shapiro did funny Trump and Putin voices, then shrugged off Helsinki as “anti-climactic” and claimed that even though Trump’s “rhetoric does kind of suck,” his policies were hard on Russia and that’s what counted — or, as Shapiro put it in his National Review column with the bait-and-switch headline “Trump’s Disgraceful Press Conference in Helsinki” (thus ensorcelling both pro- and anti-Trump punters to read it — that little feller ain’t dumb!), “only Trump seems blissfully unaware of the disconnect between the nonsense he spews and the policy his administration promulgates. In this case, we’re better off for that disconnect.” You have to admit, as far as defenses literally based on the imbecility of your president go, that one’s at least confusing enough that Shapiro can get away before the townspeople catch on and start boiling the tar and feathers.

Like all reform movements, the new conservatism has at least one elder statesman, though there may be more hiding in Argentina. “Trump Stays Defiant Amid a Foreign Policy Establishment Gone Mad,” declared ancient paleocon and lunatic Pat Buchanan at the American Conservative.

Buchanan may be old, but he showed himself adept at what modern young ultra-rightists consider the most important political skill of all: trolling. Shaking his head over calls for Trump’s impeachment, Buchanan tsked, “Not since Robert Welch of the John Birch Society called Dwight Eisenhower a ‘conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy’ have such charges been hurled at a president” — an obvious inside joke, as Buchanan and the JBS have a lot in common, not least that Buchanan actually chose a Bircher as his Reform Party presidential running mate in 2000.

“America’s elites have been driven over the edge by Trump’s successes and their failures to block him,” Buchanan scoffed — here one might imagine Buchanan, like Ben Shapiro, hoisting a “leftist tears” mug. He also claimed that people calling Trump “traitor” and “Nazi” used language that “approaches incitement to violence.” The tiki-torch boys couldn’t have projected blame for violence any better! Soon we’ll see Pitchfork Pat wearing a Pepe shirt and making the OK sign as the tear gas swirls.

And you know who else doesn’t care whether or not Trump sold out to Putin? Republican voters. According to an Axios poll, while most Americans disapproved of the co-presidents’ post-Helsinki press conference, 79 percent of Republicans thought it was good. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 66 percent of Republicans approved of Trump’s Helsinki performance.

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As I suggested before, this is probably more about Republicans’ general love of Trump — which is as high now as it’s been for any GOP president — than about their understanding of the issues, though Putin’s hardcore authoritarianism and, ah, other qualities would, if they knew about them, probably just make them approve even more strongly.

This may be why the conservative critics of Russia-Trump sound so wan and unconvincing; they know their own people aren’t listening to them. It may also be why defenders of Russia-Trump sound so confident, and so relaxed that they hardly even attempt to make any kind of rational argument for their position at all — it’s as unnecessary as a reasoned defense of a home team at a pep rally. The polls suggest that those who are not already fans of the home team are far less likely to be convinced, but we’ll have to wait and see if they will vote to register their disapproval — or, given the Putinistic tendencies of the American Right, whether they’re able to.

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Pranked Conservatives Squeal: Sacha Baron Cohen Fake-Newsed Us!

Last week, while President Trump was off in Europe being a dick to Queen Elizabeth and pals with Vladimir Putin, Sacha Baron Cohen was giving the rest of us a double treat with his new CBS/Showtime series, not only by pranking right-wing politicians (including several well-known gun nuts he convinced to do insane promos for a guns-for-children program) but also with the resulting angry denunciations he drew from the dopes he punked — including Sarah Palin, Roy Moore, and Joe Arpaio — and the conservatives who rose to defend them from the one thing, besides universal healthcare and white minority status, that really terrifies them: being made fun of.

I hardly need explain that conservatives hate when artists make them look bad, and wage what they are pleased to call “culture war” to dispel this aesthetic black magic. As bullies particularly hate to be laughed at, they have a special animus toward comedians.

This is the reason for their years of shit fits over left-wing clowns, from Will Ferrell as George W. Bush to Zach Galifianakis trading rimshots with Barack Obama, and especially Jon Stewart and other liberal faux-newsman types — see, for example, Liberal Fascism author Jonah Goldberg in 2008, consoling himself after his disastrous Daily Show appearance with fan mail (“I found it impossible for me to sit through whatever you call that television appearance — it certainly wasn’t an interview — without feeling nauseated”).

This tendency has metastasized in the Trump era, something that’s to be expected, given that Trump is the ultimate conservative bully; also, Trump’s primary appeal is inchoate rage against elites, which includes popular artists, whom the average Trump supporter probably thinks got to be on TV or in the movies by swearing a blood oath to the Democratic Party on a Pizzagate child sex altar.

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One would think Cohen’s reputation for pranks was by now universally understood, having begun with his Da Ali G show eighteen years ago and continued through several popular movies, including the 2006 hit Borat. So it was a delightful surprise to see right-wing pols and pundits crying in the press that they’d been hoodwinked into saying horrible things because they thought Cohen was a real supporter — though none of them explained why that would make their endorsement of crazy ideas any less appalling.

Give some Cohen victims like Dick Cheney credit for taking their punking like pros, but Palin responded with her usual word salad, referring to “Hollywoodism’s disrespect and sarcasm,” saying the show mocked “middle-class Americans,” and doing the old stolen-valor thing, claiming Cohen had pretended to be a disabled veteran — which afforded Cohen a fresh opportunity to make fun of her: “I was in the service — not military, but United Parcel.” Arpaio made himself so ridiculous even Breitbart couldn’t cover for him (“He said he thought it was unusual that they didn’t offer to powder his face before the interview”).

The brethren stepped up to defend Palin and other victims of Cohen’s satirical sneak attack.

“New Sacha Baron Cohen series a Hollywood hit job on GOP, source says,” reported Hollie McKay at Fox News. “I couldn’t believe how unbelievably partisan it is,” said the unnamed “source.” “They also interviewed Bernie Sanders but didn’t mock him at all.” (Reportedly Sanders tried the unique strategy of calling out the ridiculous things Cohen said to him as ridiculous instead of promising to support them.)

Another unnamed source — this one reputed to be “close to Palin” — told Breitbart the show was “meant to mock Trump voters as a bunch of ignorant and offensive kooks.” This “source” strained verisimilitude a tad, particularly in declaring the prank would “backfire dramatically” because it was “the epitome of a contemptuous Hollywood enclave that hates the ordinary working class Americans who swept Donald Trump into office. This is exactly what the American people voted against in 2016.” (“Close to Palin” apparent means “press agent.”) But it appeared at Breitbart, whose readers probably think Sinclair Network must-runs are the spontaneous effusions of news anchors, so no one will notice.

Some of the cleverer conservatives tried PR techniques that were ancient in the days of Hedda Hopper: declaring the show a dud that no one should watch, and insisting that Cohen was a fading star using conservatives to revive his flagging career.

“ ‘Dumb,’ ‘Pointless,’ ‘Boring’: TV Critic Absolutely Destroys Sacha Baron Cohen’s New Show,” announced Joseph Curl at Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire. Curl praised Dominic Patten of Deadline, declaring that, unlike critics who liked the show — which opinion was after all just “the predictable take for Hollywood, which clearly despises President Trump and all Republicans” — Patten was simply “looking at the show without the normal liberal bias, just trying to inform potential viewers whether they should bother to tune in,” so his was the one honest opinion of the show and naturally the same as Joseph Curl’s.

Fox News’ Carley Shimkus and Howard Kurtz did their bit. “What Sacha Baron Cohen did to Sarah Palin was horrible,” huffed Shimkus, but she cautioned that when people react, Cohen “loves it, he feeds off it, it’s why he does what he does, so I do think that some of these conservative politicians sort of fell into that trap” — though, she quickly clarified, “You can’t blame them for complaining about this.”

“So we’re playing into his hands because we’re giving it some airtime,” harrumphed Kurtz. “Does CBS owe the public some kind of response to these low, slimy tactics?” Shimkus thought so, but again cautioned that seeking comment helped Cohen, because he “was completely irrelevant two and a half weeks ago.” “I’d frankly forgot that he even existed,” nodded Kurtz.

Thus, Shimkus and Kurtz agreed Cohen was counting on conservatives like them to talk about the show, as they were doing, and that was too bad.

At The Stream, John Zmirak called Cohen “Just Another Stale Comedian Attacking Safe Targets,” and also said he wanted to “punch Baron Cohen in the face for disrespecting veterans,” and furthermore, “I want to see the sketch, because it will probably be hilarious.” Adding to the confusion, Zmirak admitted he was once a fan of Cohen, but “by the time of the movie Borat, Baron Cohen largely abandoned his even-handed satire.” That’s right, Borat’s when Cohen went all-in for the libs; the bit where he wrestles his manager naked is pure gay propaganda.

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“Comedy used to be the one thing that transcended politics,” lamented The Federalist’s Joseph A. Wulfsohn, but now “the comedy branch of Hollywood,” which actually has its offices in Oxnard, “has chosen to narrow its target audience by alienating the roughly half of the nation who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election.” Those poor Pennsyltucky coal miners haven’t had a good laugh in eighteen months — nice going, libs! Liberals can do this, Wulfsohn went on, because “the Left owns comedy. They have for decades.” Liberals also own chocolate and rainy spring mornings, and they won’t share, but that’s another column.

The real problem with Cohen’s “so-called ‘comedy’ ” — yeah, I know it sounds like one of my gags, but he really did call it that — was that it was “lowering” America into a “bottomless pit of blind hostility and pessimism towards Republicans and Trump supporters,” wrote Wulfsohn. “Comedy is supposed to connect us as humans. Now it’s tearing us apart.” Therefore we should unite and together help the president scoop up babies at the border, put them in cages and make sure their parents can never find them again.

The brethren got some support from the Main Stream Media; after all, the dopes who believe in Palin, Moore, and Arpaio watch TV and buy magazines, too, and so rate some ass-kissing. People magazine reported that “a source” — ha, ha, ha — told them Palin “walked out of the prank interview after the disguised Cohen asked her a ‘horrible’ question about Chelsea Clinton.” Gasp! Surely bothsides can agree this is now a bipartisan matter.

“Is Sacha Baron Cohen’s Show ‘Who Is America?’ Too Deceptive?” chin-stroked E! News. “When it was Ali G, it was kind of fun to watch him just dupe everybody, because the stakes in the world felt kind of low,” said host Will Marfuggi. “Do you think that viewers will respond to this kind of political humor in this climate or is he too volatile?” To put it another way, should we only do political satire when things are actually OK? Didn’t The Great Dictator just make Hitler worse?

By the show’s opening on Sunday, normal viewers knew there was some sort of controversy over the show, while for conservatives there was no controversy at all — merely the conviction that, whatever bad or crazy things their leaders appeared to be doing, it was all a trick and a trap, a bid for attention by a Hollywoodist has-been and — like everything they see and hear about Donald Trump (even if it’s on tape) that Trump says didn’t happen — fake news.

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Ocasio-Cortez’s Win Has Right Wing Raising a New Red Scare

A specter is haunting conservatism — the specter of democratic socialism!

For decades the Right has lazily tossed off pro-forma denunciations of socialism as inimical to our wonderful capitalist system. But after years of declining wage growth and benefits, things are changing: Polls show many people, especially younger ones, think capitalism isn’t working so well for them. And the June 26 victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the charismatic young democratic socialist who beat incumbent Joe Crowley to take the Democratic nomination for a congressional seat covering parts of Queens and the Bronx, makes socialism look like more of a winner.

Conservatives now find themselves having to make more of an effort to explain what’s so bad about bread and roses, and their rustiness is embarrassingly evident.

In last year’s state and local elections, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), to which Ocasio-Cortez belongs, saw fifteen of its members elected to local office. But Ocasio-Cortez is making a bigger splash than they did because she won a primary for a U.S. congressional seat in the nation’s biggest media market, and happens to be young, attractive, Latina, and eloquent.

This last impression conservatives labored mightily to dispute, with articles like “Socialist Ocasio-Cortez Can’t Differentiate Between Socialism, Democratic Socialism” at Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire — not only an inaccurate portrayal, but one based on the assumption that anyone not bred like an orc in a right-wing think tank would give a shit about such a difference.

In fact, Ocasio-Cortez has been very successful on TV — certainly more interesting than the grey grin-flashers Democrats normally nominate — and her Twitter posts are salty and fun. Conservatives haven’t been great at countering this. For example, when Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “If you think the GOP is terrified of my politics now, just wait until they find out about public libraries,” Shapiro’s Daily Wire published a rather unfortunate collection of what they considered to be snappy right-wing comebacks, including “Have you ever been to [a library]? It’s a haven for the homeless.”

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The Daily Wire also made several references to Venezuela, a legacy dis by conservatives who believe national bankruptcy is the only possible outcome of any socialist program (Scandinavia’s Nordic social democracies notwithstanding, they usually rush to explain, because their successes prove they’re not socialist) that erupted afresh with Ocasio-Cortez’s nomination.

“Here’s a one-word piece of advice for America’s growing socialist left: Venezuela,” snarled the New York Post. “The specter of Venezuela, and its 43,000 percent inflation rate, looms over any left-wing economic message,” intoned James P. Pinkerton at the American Conservative. “The Democrats Go Full Venezuela,” cried Roger L. Simon at PJ Media. “The Democrats’ New Evita Peron Needs to Spend 3 Months in Venezuela,” wrote a geographically confused John Zmirak at the Stream.

Even when they got off Venezuela, the brethren’s explanation of socialism, democratic or otherwise, did not improve. The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft forthrightly, or I should say forthwrongly, declared, “The Democrat Socialists of America support no borders, no profit, no prisons and no cash bail.” At the New American, Selwyn Duke wrote that socialism is “precisely what most people think communism is.… Why do you think the USSR stood for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?” He’s got us there — just like with National Socialism!

Conservatives didn’t do very well attacking Ocasio-Cortez on nonideological grounds, either. At WorldNetDaily, Star Parker dismissed Ocasio-Cortez’s victory because her district is “50 percent Hispanic…and 67.8 percent report that they speak a language other than English at home…a district that is so-called majority minority,” and you know how those people are. Plus Ocasio-Cortez “traces her roots” to Puerto Rico, noted Parker, and Puerto Rico is an “economic basket case,” despite all those paper towels President Trump threw at it after it was destroyed by a hurricane.

The brethren also suggested Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t authentically from the Bronx because she grew up in a modest home in nearby Yorktown Heights, a hilarious assertion in the age of Man of the People Donald Trump. Ben Shapiro even suggested that she wasn’t authentically Latina; when Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about her day “grabbing an iced cafecito, [and] chopping it up with everyone” at her local bodega, Shapiro jeered, “Hillary once ate at a Chipotle.”

Of course, all this had much less to do with defeating Ocasio-Cortez, who has the general election more or less in the bag, than with tarnishing the Democrats in general. Though Ocasio-Cortez’s positions — including Medicare for All, a federal jobs guarantee, and abolition of the paramilitary brownskin-expeller unit ICE — are way more peppery than those of most of the party’s moldy figs, some of whom have tried to throw cold water on her campaign, conservatives are hoping to convince fence-straddlers that the Democrats have turned into a bunch of commies come to take away their precious free market.

The Week‘s Damon Linker  for example, claimed “socialist politicians have enjoyed so little electoral success in this country…because there’s a widespread aversion to the big-government policies they tend to favor” — like Medicare for All, which has the support of a mere 59 percent of voters, not to mention those notorious vote-losers Social Security and Medicare.

At TownHallArthur Schaper visibly recoiled from Ocasio-Cortez’s platform — “she calls housing ‘a right,’ ” gasp! — and claimed “the left tends to cannibalize itself when the younger generation demands socialist outcomes at a faster rate,” citing as examples, I shit you not, the French and Russian Revolutions, plus Walter Mondale. Schaper declared that “the Trump Administration’s regulatory rollback and tax reforms have unleashed unprecedented wealth, prosperity, and opportunity,” which he predicted would lead, despite Trump’s lousy poll numbers, to “a 49-state victory.”

If the Democrats “actually believe a far-left push is the key to winning those mid-term elections,” sputtered Scott McKay at the American Spectator, then America is set (again, against all polling evidence) for a “red wave, rather than a blue one” in November.

Where triumphalism failed, terror was tried: Sopranos extra Jeanine Pirro declared to her Fox News audience that “the rise of socialism has never been more clear…an ongoing step-by-step agenda to change our country at its very core.… We are witnessing the evolution of a socialist coup,” setting America’s rest homes ablaze with patriotic fear and fervor.

At National Review, Heather Wilhelm acknowledged that millennials are more favorable toward socialism than previous generations, but explained that this was due to their lack of childbearing, as revealed in a New York Times/Morning Consult poll; she believed the youngs are “increasingly atomized and individualist” and this — not their shitty economic prospects — make them childless and lead them to seek “forced togetherness — found in the form of socialism.” She also mentioned “Venezuela, which is a terrible, tragic mess.”

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Things reached a nadir, as they often do these days, at the New York Times, where Bret Stephens bade Democrats eschew “Democratic socialism” or “social democracy” or whatever the kids are calling it these days because “Hugo Chávez was also a democratic socialist” — yes, he got Venezuela in there without using the word Venezuela; that’s how the pros do it, folks! — and suggested they instead “try some version of Bill Clinton (minus the grossness) for a change.”

Bill Clinton minus the grossness — wasn’t that Hillary Clinton? And speaking of “grossness,” who won that year? It sounds like Stephens, like a lot of the people inexplicably holding major media real estate, are just finding new ways to tell Democrats to give up.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party has been fielding some interesting candidates of its own: In an Illinois congressional race, for example, they’re running an honest-to-God Holocaust-denying Nazi, Arthur Jones, and his fellow GOP nominees have only slowly and gingerly denounced him — just as Republican Virginia senate nominee Corey Stewart only slowly distanced himself from Paul Nehlen, a Wisconsin white nationalist running to replace Paul Ryan in the House. Longtime Texas libertarian-Republican congressman Ron Paul, once known for his racist newsletters, recently returned to form with an absurdly anti-Semitic, racist illustrated tweet about “Cultural Marxism” and the racial stereotypes who support it, and Washington State Republicans elected as a local precinct committee officer one James Allsup, a white nationalist who marched with the tiki-Nazis in Charlottesville. Then there’s John Fitzgerald, the Republican House candidate in California who thinks the Holocaust was a fraud

Democrats may well ask, if Ocasio-Cortez and other DSA endorsees mean their party is turning socialist, whether these candidates mean the Republican Party is turning something considerable worse.

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Right Tries Not to Clap Hands Too Gleefully About Abortion Rights Repeal After Kennedy’s Exit

One thing you can say about the brutal Trump era: It’s made conservatives more frank about how eager they are to destroy liberalism and anyone protected by it. While some of the brethren tried, ineffectively, to conceal their glee at Wednesday’s retirement announcement by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, many popped champagne at the imminent hope of realizing one of their life dreams: the repeal of Roe v. Wade and — who knows? — maybe other progressive legal decisions as well.

For decades there’s been a divide in the Republican Party between hardcore conservatives who seek to appoint only dedicated Roe assassins as SCOTUS justices, and go-along electeds who often put through less ferocious nominees. Most maddening for the hardcores has been that it seemed one could never tell who’d do what — the true believer Reagan, for example, put in Sandra Day O’Connor and Kennedy, while the alleged moderate George H.W. Bush gave us the fire-breathing, sexual-harassing Clarence Thomas.

Kennedy has written majority opinions in several cases that tilted the left’s way, such as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which derailed the anti-Roe campaign at a key moment (though, as hardcore pro-lifers know, it also allowed red states to limit abortion rights); Lawrence v. Texas, which did away with sodomy laws; and Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage decision. This has made Kennedy a wingnut hate object; Robert Bork, the lunatic Democrats blocked from the court in 1987, snarled in 2005 that Kennedy’s Lawrence decision was a “vaporing” that had not “the remotest basis in the actual Constitution,” and wingnut doyenne Phyllis Schlafly called for Kennedy to be impeached.

On Saturday the New York Times’ Ross Douthat echoed Bork, denouncing Kennedy’s Casey ruling as a “vapid Emersonian effusion,” and claiming that Kennedy’s rulings had been “imperial” (Douthat used the word six times) and “without a particularly coherent constitutional theory” — as proven by his decisions that Douthat disliked. Douthat also called Kennedy “the modern court’s most ‘neoliberal’ justice, embracing corporate freedom and sexual freedom as a kind of unity,” which is bad because “freedom of capital and genitals is not enough for human flourishing.” How d’ya like that for constitutionalism! I believe it’s from the Federalist No. 51.

So Kennedy’s announced departure has the brethren very excited; but, being aware of polls that show two-thirds of American citizens are against overturning Roe, the more mainstream ones sought to cool it down a bit.

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Republican senator Lindsey Graham, for example, assured Chuck Todd that “one of the concepts that really means a lot in America is stare decisis — that means you don’t overturn precedent unless there’s a good reason.” His colleague Susan Collins said an anti-Roe justice would “not be acceptable” to her; but those of us who recall her maladroit defense of her tax bill vote as part of a deal to defend Obamacare stabilizers — which were then cut by the administration anyway — will not be comforted.

Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote at the Washington Post that though the new SCOTUS would bring “weakening of Roe’s pro-choice absolutism” — see, it’s not reducing your rights, it’s rescuing you from absolutism! — “the availability of abortion has become a deeply entrenched social expectation,” so “a democratically determined outcome in most places would probably involve very few restrictions on early abortions.” This will certainly comfort the women of Mississippi, a state that currently holds the (soon-to-be-broken) record for shortest legal abortion window at fifteen weeks, and which has only a single abortion clinic. Think how they’ll benefit from their new freedom from absolutism.

But the really important thing, Gerson wrote, is that though Trump is “an economic illiterate…[and] an easily manipulated tyro” and his policies are “condemning Republicans to future defeat,” still, “when it comes to the choice of judges…Trump is firmly in the GOP mainstream.” The system works!

Even some hardcore wingnuts who frequently roar that Planned Parenthood is Zygote Auschwitz tried to act dainty about Roe’s demise. After all, soothed Alex Parker at RedState, it “wouldn’t do away with abortion; the decision would simply revert to the states.” Previously, Parker had referred to abortion as “the right to kill an unborn child,” and greeted the news of Kennedy’s retirement and the ensuing “possible review of abortion” with GIFs of high fives.

Inevitably Fox News brought it all back home: “Overturning Roe V Wade Is Being Used As A Scare Tactic By The Left To Block,” they headlined.

But everyone knows what the game is at this point: Trump’s basic deal with Republicans is clearly to fulfill all their wishes so they won’t impeach him, and to that end he has nominated judges approved by the ultra-right-wing Federalist Society — which returns the favor by speaking favorably of its brutish patron, and elsewise.

Also, while prior GOP presidents at least appeared to spare some thought for the long-term health of the Republic, Trump, to put it mildly, is only interested in personal enrichment and white supremacy. Being in addition, despite his marketing image and as proven by his presidency, a shitty dealmaker, he has a tendency to give away the store (so long as the assets are someone else’s) — as when, to use a particularly apposite example, he courted GOP voters in 2016 by declaring women who had abortions should be punished by law. (He backed off, presumably because of political considerations — but at present he has no reason to do so.)

Some conservatives surveyed the scene and dared to dream. At theocrat site First Things, R.R. Reno sang Glory Hallelujah: “The time has come to cleanse that stain and heal that wound,” he ululated. “Now is not the time for compromise or worries about breaking the peace that Roe has brought us. It was always a corrupt, immoral peace, which is not a peace worth preserving.” Helter Skelter, let’s fuck America up for Jesus!

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“As Kennedy, blessedly, vacates his seat,” preached the Washington Examiner, “the central mandate for the man or woman who will take his seat, and for all the justices, is to wipe away a disgrace that ranks alongside Dred Scott, and overtun [sic] Roe and Casey.”

At HotAir, Allahpundit said conservatives needn’t give a shit what cautious trimmers think: “If ever there were an issue where public opinion is worth ignoring on moral grounds, this is it.” Anyway, he added, politics are not a problem because once Roe is overturned there’ll be a “cooling-off period in which Americans gradually acclimate to the new political reality,” especially once the birthing pens are set up.

At the Washington Examiner, Kimberly Ross said overturning Roe, nice as that may be, wouldn’t stop all abortions right away — which she meant not as a consolation to liberals but as a warning that there was more judicial and legislative harrying yet to accomplish. “This isn’t to say,” Ross wrote, “conservatives should not get excited” — imagine all the forced births you will get! — but “pro-lifers should not trick themselves into believing such a thing means our mission is accomplished. The fact that America has been saturated by a sickening abortion mantra for decades means our work to permanently shift the culture of death will have just begun.” The birthing pens can help there, too, as salutary examples as well as in their more immediate purpose.

And the end of Roe won’t be all conservatives want out of the court, either. At the Federalist, Nathanael Blake wrote last week that, while everyone thinks the fight over gay marriage is over and even “younger conservatives may wonder why we fought over this at all,” he wasn’t ready to quit: “As a matter of constitutional law, the Obergefell decision was indefensible…a fundamentally autocratic, anti-democratic decision,” he wrote. “Justice Anthony Kennedy led the majority in playing philosopher-kings, rather than being judges.”

But soon Kennedy would be gone. “Today, we stand on the precipice of undoing the monstrous injustice of Roe v. Wade,” prayed Michael Brown at TownHall. “Who’s to say we won’t live to see the reversal of Obgergefell [sic] vs. Hodges, the Supreme Court’s overreaching decision to redefine marriage?… Let’s pray for God’s mercy on our nation, for the continuing turning of hearts towards life, and for righteous justices to adjudicate in our courts.”

How far back would they reach to uproot prior progressive victories? Given the increasingly further-right leadership of their party, they may decide many other concepts we take for granted are also “absolutist” and “imperial”; aren’t affirmative action and integration of public schools, for example, unfair to racist Americans? Wouldn’t the “culture of death” be easier to defeat if contraception weren’t so easy to get? “We find ourselves at what seems a surreal moment in American history,” said anti-abortion group Catholic Vote; the main difference between them and most of America is, they think that’s a good thing. Buckle up, everyone, and check that your voter registration and passport are both up to date.

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Sure, Immigrant Kids May Look Innocent, but Who’ll Think of Sarah Huckabee Sanders?

You may have gotten the impression that the immigrant children recently torn from their parents at the Mexican border deserve your sympathy and concern. After all, you can’t help but be moved by the heartrending sounds of the terrified, snatched children, and the horrible stories of their distant removal from their families to be incarcerated or farmed out to Christian adoption agencies, at least if you’re a human being.

If you’re a conservative, though, you know these kids were either faking it or better off without their criminal, probably MS13 parents, and that your real sympathy should go instead to truly persecuted folks like White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen, to whom some liberals were impolite.

Tough guy Trump’s notorious treatment of these children led to some negative poll results and some static in the courts, and in response Trump, in his traditional manner, implied immigrants were vermin — then announced he was ending the family separation policy, while still leaving the families he’d torn apart scattered across the landscape.

After the reversal, Trump tried to shore up his racist support by hauling out, as he did during the 2016 GOP Convention, “Angel Families” whose loved ones had been killed by undocumented immigrants to suggest that the children he’d immiserated were potential murderers of white Americans. (“They look so innocent,” Trump had previously said of these kids. “They’re not innocent.”)

Lower-order Trump functionaries in the press, however, had their own weird tactics.

Ann Coulter, for example, declared the crying, traumatized kids to be “child actors” — a reference to a favored trope of the Alex Jones wing of the Republican Party. Tucker Carlson did his blood-and-soil thing: “A lot of people yelling at you on TV don’t even have kids, so don’t for a second let them take moral high ground. Their goal is to change your country forever.”

Others seized on a famous image of a crying immigrant kid that was used in a photo montage on the cover of Time magazine to illustrate a story about immigration; the kid in the picture turned out to have been merely terrified, rather than stolen away, by the feds, and conservatives, pretending (or in some cases just revealing) an infantile literalism, acted as if this debunked the whole issue.

“BOMBSHELL: Girl Never Separated At Border,” hollered Ryan Saavedra at the Daily Wire. “TIME Magazine’s Shocking Cover Is A Total Lie,” cried his editor, Ben Shapiro. “No Wonder Americans Don’t Trust The Media.” Shapiro also reported that the photo had been “used by various human rights groups to raise cash for their anti-Trump efforts.” Guess they’ll have to give the money back!

“The Media Isn’t Credible on Immigration,” decreed Rich Lowry of National Review. “SHOCKER, A Lie,” hollered Brandon Morse of RedState.

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Time later acknowledged the child in the montage had not been stolen, but that wasn’t enough for Rick Moran of American Thinker. When John Moore, the photographer who took the kid’s picture and later alerted Time to its provenance, explained that he’d been horrified by the scene he’d recorded — “I had to stop and take deep breaths” — but didn’t know for sure whether the child had been taken, Moran scoffed: “Heart rending, isn’t it? It would seem that Moore was forced to change his story once his fakery was discovered.” Apparently Moran can’t believe anyone would react that way to a child in distress; knowing Moran’s work, I’m not shocked.

Moran also thought “most people” who saw the photo montage would think “she had been ripped from her mothers arms — maybe even by Trump himself who towered over the child with a stern look on his face.” If you had Moran’s readers, you might think that, too.

Some conservatives took this weirdly further and acted as if crying children, if they were of the wrong color and immigration status, were simply hilarious. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski reacted to news of a disabled child’s separation with a comedy sound effect. Others put up pictures of children crying in less dire circumstances and made snotty remarks. “Here are pictures of the government ripping apart mothers and children on the first day of school,” quipped Seth Barron of City Journal. “The psychological trauma could last forever.” Ben Shapiro posted a picture of a crying kid at a baseball game and added, “I can’t believe this crying child was separated from his parents by President Trump.” These are the jokes, kid!

Other Trumpkins tried their own comedy stylings. At the Stream, John Zmirak suggested authorities “Seize Ivy League Dorms and Give Them to Immigrant Families” — liberals are immigrant-lovers, see, so here’s the gag: Imagine refugees seated for dinner in a “glorious Gothic dining hall, with sixty-foot carved ceilings and iron candelabras” while being served by SJW students. Ha! It’s like the impudence of the newly liberated slaves in Birth of a Nation, only it’s OK to laugh because this time the white people win!

Alas, among them only David Brooks managed to actually be funny: “The Trump administration immigration officials,” he wrote, “have become exactly the kind of monsters that conservatism has always warned against.” That’s comedy gold, Davey!

Andrew Sullivan sought at New York magazine to snatch racist victory from the jaws of defeat. Sullivan cautioned the liberals who for some reason still read him not to “think of the last week as a solid victory for the Democrats and for basic human decency,” because Trump’s just going to switch back anyway — and besides, lots of foreign darkskins are waiting to occupy America and who knows how they’d score on Charles Murray’s IQ tests — so Democrats should just “give him his fucking wall. He won the election. He is owed this. It may never be completed; it may not work, as hoped. But it is now the only way to reassure a critical mass of Americans that mass immigration is under control…”

If you wonder what Sullivan meant by “critical mass,” he added, “until the white working and middle classes are reassured, we will get nowhere.” True, nonwhite working and middle classes may not be on board; but really, who cares what they think? [Makes, like Uma Thurman tracing a square in the air in Pulp Fiction, a bell-curve shape with his fingers.]

Perhaps motivated by Trump’s pullback to find a new angle, the brethren redirected their energies from denouncing tormented immigrants to defending members of the Trump administration who’d been subjected to rude treatment for their part in tormenting them.

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Take Kirstjen Nielsen, She-Wolf of the Department of Homeland Security. Her press conference on the controversy set new standards for official lying and number-fudging — no mean feat in this administration! — portraying the policy put in place by Trump’s own Justice Department as the fault of Congress.

On Wednesday, as Nielsen enjoyed a meal at a Mexican restaurant (chosen, I assume, as some sort of ghoulish victory ritual), she was harassed by a bunch of protestors and had to leave. Here, conservatives said, was a real outrage!

“Temporarily separating children at border: literally Auschwitz. Normalizing mob violence against political opponents, which is literally a fascist trait: totally awesome,” tweeted Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, whom I am told is some sort of intellectual, which may explain why he got this exactly backward.

“Maoist America: Screaming Leftists Force DHS Sec. Nielsen to Leave DC Restaurant,” wrote the Gateway Pundit. “PUNDITS, ACTIVISTS CELEBRATE HARASSMENT OF FEMALE DHS SECRETARY,” announced the Daily Caller. You liberals claim to support females!

“Protesters Surround DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s Home,” cried Breitbart. Wow — were they chanting “Get out of Jeh Johnson’s House“?

Some of the brethren tried racism jujitsu. When CNN’s Ana Navarro joked, “Are there no Norwegian restaurants in Washington, DC?” the Washington Examiner’s Byron York gasped, “CNN’s @ananavarro suggests Nielsen, a Florida native, should stick to her own ethnicity in choosing restaurants.” “CNN Analyst Wants Her to Eat With Only Her Race,” said Ben Marquis at Conservative Tribune. White people can’t catch a break in this country!

Then on Friday night White House spokesliar Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who distinguished herself in this mess by doing the old What About Non-Immigrant Children Huh routine, got asked to leave Virginia restaurant the Red Hen where she’d planned to dine because the owner didn’t want to serve her, and the brethren really went crazy. True, Nielsen is a cabinet secretary and extremely white, but Sanders, as the daughter of a prominent, racist GOP ex-governor, is peckerwood royalty.

Using her official Twitter account, Sanders told the world, and the troops responded. Some obligingly offered to burn down the restaurant, but others merely adopted the hurt tone familiar to all of us who have over the years watched conservatives mood-swing back and forth between delusions of grandeur and persecution mania.

“I guess we’re heading into an America with Democrat-only restaurants, which will lead to Republican-only restaurants,” blubbered former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who did more than most to deceive America into the Iraq War.

“It is actually a sign of sickness in our country that political opposites cheer/jeer a business refusing service due to political beliefs.… It’s another step down a path towards real separation,” wept ex-CNN pundit Erick Erickson, who has called Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat fucking child molester,” among other such bons mots.

“Nastiness reflects desperation not strength. They can’t win the argument so they use nastiness,” said — get this!Newt Gingrich.

“I wonder how things might have gone if [the Red Hen’s owner] had asked Sanders for a private word after dinner,” said Rod Dreher of the American Conservative, “or had sent over a round of dessert, and come by the table to talk.” What a great idea! As White House reporters can tell you, Sanders is known for her respectful exchange of views with those she considers her inferiors, e.g., everybody.

Dreher also seemed to think White House press secretaries are of a protected class under civil rights law like African Americans: “Masterpiece [Cakeshop] did not try to deny service across the board to gay customers.… Red Hen denied service across the board to Sanders and her party because they hate her politics.” Similar misapprehensions, real or pretended, were circulated by other conservatives like Byron York. “Should a Trump staffer have even a moment’s peace?” he asked wistfully. “Should a landlord rent to him? A restaurant serve him? A store sell to him?” Hath not a hack lies? If you bleed him, is he not a prick?

The civility brigade was joined, as you would expect, by the big mainstream media types. “Let the Trump team eat in peace,” virtue-signaled the Washington Post editorial board, which found it all very counterproductive, notwithstanding that protestors “will get no argument from us regarding Mr. Trump’s border policy, and when it comes to coarsening the debate, he is the prime offender.” But when they go low, we go high, right? That’s how we almost won in 2016!

And if that didn’t convince, the Post gently threatened: “Those who are insisting that we are in a special moment justifying incivility should think for a moment how many Americans might find their own special moment. How hard is it to imagine, for example, people who strongly believe that abortion is murder deciding that judges or other officials who protect abortion rights should not be able to live peaceably with their families?”

Sounds like the Post has never talked to a clinic escort, nor heard of George Tiller or Robert Lewis Dear Jr. But the Post needn’t worry: The chances that harassment of Trump officials will spread is slim, and in any case it will never match the harassment that people with far less privilege — like little girls selling water or grown people just doing their jobs — endure every day. So by all means, Trumpkins, enjoy your snotchos!

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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.