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About That Very Big Deal in Singapore

For now America is not exchanging nuclear missiles with North Korea, and there might now be slight more reason to hope that never comes to pass, but that’s about the best we can say for for that very big deal summit President Donald Trump had with nutcase North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un in Singapore on Tuesday.
Kim signed a statement that his country “commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” and agreed to turn over remains of American soldiers killed in the long-ago Korean War, which is not bad but nearly not so good as the complete and verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs that Trump and had hopefully said he would insist on. North Korea has given similar assurances before, and this time around it got some very worrisome concessions for it.
The nutcase dictator of the world’s most backwards third-world hellhole not only got on the front pages and top-of-the-hour broadcasts of an entire globe’s media by shaking hands with the President of the United States on a stage festooned with an equal number of both country’s flags, but the whole wide world also heard Trump lavish embarrassingly fulsome praise on him. Trump had gone into the meeting after a disastrous meeting with our most important allies by opining that the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “weak” and “dishonest,” and one of his spokesmen saying there would be a “special place in hell” for Trudeau, but the president described the nutcase dictator of the world’s most backwards third-world hell as a “very talented” man who “wants to do the right thing” and a “very funny guy” who “wants to do the right thing for his people,” and mentioned what a “great honor” it was to have “a very special bond” with Kim and that “I trust him.”
It wasn’t in the jointly-signed statement, but Trump stated to all the world’s television cameras and newspaper tape recorders that he’s also agreed to cancel all the joint military exercises that America conducts annually with our South Korean allies to prepare for the still-lingering possibility that North Korea isn’t truly committed to peace. Trump even used North Korea’s language to say the “war games” were not only expensive but “provocative,” and although that surely pleased the adversarial dictatorship in China it was an unpleasant surprise to our allies in South Korea and Japan and elsewhere in southeast Asia.
America might yet get the remains of those fallen heroes from that long-ago Korean War, which would surely offer some comfort to their still-living wives and daughters and sons, but Trump didn’t insist that North Korea send back to their wives and sons and daughters the still-living human beings they’ve kidnapped from South Korea and Japan and our allies in southeast Asia. As Trudeau and the rest of the Group of Seven leaders have lately learned, even the most longstanding and reliable alliances America once had with the rest of the world don’t mean much to Trump.
Still, Trump has ratcheted down the “fire and fury like the world has never seen” rhetoric about “Little Rocket Man,”, and Kim is no longer calling his suddenly equal-on-the-world-stage counterpart a “dotard,” and for a now an exchange of nuclear missiles seems less likely. The world has a statement signed by the world’s two least credible leaders that they won’t be lobbing nuclear missiles at one another any time soon, and for now we’ll settle for that.

— Bud Norman

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That Big Event in Singapore, According to Various Media

“Little Rocket Man” and the “Dotard,” also known as North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and American President Donald Trump, shook hands Monday on a Singapore stage festooned with American and North Korean flags, then sat down and smiled together for the cameras of the world’s media, and everybody agreed it was a very big deal. Of course there was also much disagreement about how to cover it.
The more cautious and respectable American press outlets, even those considered left-of-center and overly eager to report news casting a negative light on Trump, stuck mostly to the objective who, what, where and when it, and were especially cautious about the unavoidably subjective why of it, but they also frankly acknowledged what a very big deal it was. The Washington Post’s top-of-the-front-page headline was “Trump, Kim shake hands, begin historic summit,” and the “lede” paragraph — as we spell in the newspaper biz — quoted Trump’s prediction that “We will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt.” The New York Times’ top-of-the-front-page headline was “Handshakes, and Hope for an Agreement,,” which was just as careful and also adhered to our preferred style of capitalizing headlines, and the “bullet items” — as we call them in newspaper biz — stressed that it was indeed a very big deal but also very complicated as to how it might turn out.
The Cable News Network, or the “fake news CNN” as Trump calls it,  was similarly cautious in its coverage., with the anchors talking about how historic it was and the guest commentators expressing both hope and worries.  Over at the MSNBC cable news network, where they frankly acknowledge a left-of-center perspective and unabashedly delight in anything factual they can come up with that sheds a negative light on Trump, even Rachel Maddow was acknowledging it was a big deal. She had several guests fluent in the Korean language with impressive credentials for commenting on the military and political and economic and diplomatic situation who had some pretty convincing reasons to be worried it will all go awry, but they all had to admit a possibility they still hoped for that things would turn out well.
Meanwhile, over at Fox News, Sean Hannity was already spiking the ball in the end zone in on Trump’s behalf. He parroted Trump’s attempts to downplay expectations, and that “it’s a process, a long a process,” and helpfully recalled all the times North Korea had duped past Democratic and pre-Trump Republicans and hopefully assured his viewers Trump wouldn’t make that same mistake, and ran some old footage of President Ronald Reagan confronting Russia. As far as Hannity is concerned, if Trump wins an unexpected-by-almost-everyone complete capitulation from Kim he’s a sure bet Nobel Peace Prize winner, and if he walks away without any agreement at all he’s the second coming of St. Reagan walking away from the Soviets at Reykjavik, so it’s a win-win for Trump either way. Due to the time zones the historic handshake occurred after the morning and afternoon right-wing talk radio talkers went off the air, and they’ll be on before today’s-in-Singapore’s actual summit begins, but we’re sure that Hannity and the rest of them will see it pretty much the same way.
The National Review and The Weekly Standard and the rest of the cautious and respectable pre-Trump right-of-center publications are weeklies, and go home to their wives and children at a decent hour, so they haven’t yet weighed in, but we expect they’ll have some of the same worries that were voiced on Rachel Maddow’s show. The Weekly Standard did get in a short story about the involvement of Dennis “The Worm” Rodman, the former National Basketball Association rebounding champion and “Apprentice” contestant who is somehow on the scene and somehow  figures in all of this, but that’s not hopeful, although Trump did rightly note he was once a hell of a rebounder despite being short by NBA power-forward standards. Even if Trump does walk away from today’s summit he’ll have granted an odious third world dictator a long-desired starring role on the sage he walks away from, and with an endorsement of his abysmal human rights record in dealing with his own people, and for many other reasons it’s not at all analogous to Reagan walking out of Reykjavik. Trump’s many domestic scandals and recent squabbles with our traditional allies do seem to make him more desperate for any old deal that odious third world dictator might be willing to cut, too. We like to think we’re a cautious and respectable pre-Trump right-of-center publication, and without any wife or kids to worry about we’re up late and watching the latest developments, so we’ll hedge our bets just like those other cautious and respectable right-of-center and left-of-center institutions we’ll go no further than saying that we’re hoping for the best but still have our worries.
At least Trump and Kim are smiling for the photo-ops, rather than calling one another “Little Rocket Man” and the “Dotard.” As Trump is so fond of saying, “we shall see.”

— Bud Norman

Choosing One’s Outrage

There’s no telling what will offend some people’s moral sensibilities, or what will not.
A rare look at our Facebook page found several friends grousing about Israel’s meticulously limited response to the thousands of rockets that have lately been lobbed at its people by the Islamist terror gang Hamas, with one friend rather angrily demanding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appearance before a international war crimes tribunal, but none seemed at all troubled that an Islamist terror gang was raining rockets down on the random civilians of a civilized and democratic nation, or demanded that the perpetrators be treated as war criminal. A far greater number of Muslims have recently perished in the fighting in Syria and Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan and all the other places where internecine Islamist warfare rages, and for far less justifiable reasons, but judging by the relative lack of mainstream media coverage and Facebook chatter that doesn’t seem to trouble many consciences.
The guest list at that fancy White House gathering of African leaders is a similarly curious example of selective outrage. Among those getting the red carpet treatment and presidential promises of massive wealth redistribution are Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Oblang Nguema Mbasago, fresh from a killing spree that left all of his prominent political opponents dead, and Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, who advocates a policy of beheading homosexuals, along with the usual assortment of seedy Afro-Marxist thugs who have made such a mess of post-colonial Africa. These elegantly embossed invitations to the White House were handed out by the same administration that routinely derides its domestic political opponents as extremists bent on dirty air and dirty water, and who are implored in faux-hip-hop fashion to “Just stop hatin’,” and it strikes us as odd. Even the most stubborn American adherents of the millennia-old notions about same sex-same marriage draw the line well short of beheading homosexuals, and thus far even the kookiest musket-weilding and tricorner-hat-wearing “tea party” types haven’t offed anybody.
The beheading-of-homosexuals part might yet yet provoke some justifiable moral outrage among the left, where anything having to do with homosexuality gets some traction, and certainly arouses more outrage than the all-too-tempting idea of simply killing all of one’s prominent political opponents, but that also seems oddly selective. We are as appalled as anyone on the left by the treatment of homosexuals in the Islamic world and throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and would welcome  a more consistent American policy of protesting it, but we’d love to see the left make the same exceptions to its multi-cultural and morally relativist rules to protest the appalling treatment of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and other religious minorities in much of the world. The womenfolk are getting a raw deal in most of these fondly regarded underdog countries, too, and it seems especially odd that a modern feminism obsessed with the mating rituals of horny frat boys is indifferent to the forced genital mutilations and other brutal abuses that are common throughout a romanticized Third World.
Sometimes moral outrage is selected according to partisan obligations, like the Facebook friend who was fuming about our Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s reckless tax cuts and the resulting slight downgrade from one of the bond-rating agencies, but didn’t seem to mind when the nation’s creit ratings were downgraded after years of trillion dollar deficits under President Barack Obama. That same partisan prejudice prevented the press from highlighting Vice President Joe Biden’s hilarious repeated references to “the nation of Africa,” which is precisely the sort of thing that would have been endlessly re-played on the late night comedy shows if only Dan Quayle or Sarah Palin had said it. Oftentimes it’s that multi-cultural moral relativism that tolerates beheadings of homosexuals and genital mutilations in the more primitive and thus more spiritually pure countries, all in the name of progressivism, but insists that anyone from their supposedly more intellectually enlightened culture should be willing to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage or sign a consent form before a drunken college hook-up. In either case, one’s instincts should be set aside for a moment of more thoughtful consideration.

— Bud Norman