Father Forgive them, for they are dumb as fuck like whoa.

Even though Donald Trump said way back in December that he wanted to invite his latest murderous strongman BFF Roderigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, to the White House sometime, the fact that Trump had a warm phone call with Duterte Saturday and offered him an official invitation still comes as a surprise. We dunno, maybe we thought someone might have explained to him sometime in the last five months why that would be a seriously bad idea, seeing as how Duterte's regime has murdered thousands in an attempt to end drug addiction through mass slaughter.

Hell, at least when Reagan laid a wreath at Bitburg cemetery in 1985, the stormtroopers were dead and in the ground. He didn't invite any SS men into the Oval Office.

The invitation for a little autocratic tête-à-tête came during what the White House called "a very friendly conversation" with Duterte, who has said he doesn't mind being compared to Hitler as long as he's given credit for murdering all the drug addicts. That's some way to ring in Day 100, Mr. Trump. The official readout blandly described the president of the United States discussing "the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs, a scourge that affects many countries throughout the world." Drugs are bad, after all. Why get all bogged down in whether a country addresses its problem with treatment programs or with extrajudicial killings?

The official Philippine government statement on the call was also very appreciative of what a nice guy Donald Trump is:

The discussion that transpired between the presidents was warm, with President Trump expressing his understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing the Philippine president, especially on the matter of dangerous drugs.

We're just waiting for Trump to inform us Duterte explained to him that drug addiction is a very complex thing, that, unlike health care and North Koreas, has a really simple solution involving looking the other way while police and pro-Duterte goons shoot people dead in the streets. (Link is to an excellent but graphic NYT photo essay.) Drug dealers, drug users, people suspected of either, or people who happen to have been wrongly accused -- they were probably guilty of something, and therefore expendable.

Over the course of his career, going back to his becoming mayor of the city of Davao in 1988, Duterte and 11 other officials are accused of having ordered or encouraged the murders of 9,400 people, according to a complaint filed with the International Criminal Court by Filipino lawyer Jude Sabio. The complaint accuses Duterte and his crowd of mass murder and crimes against humanity, but Duterte isn't impressed -- he plans to keep on fighting the war on drugs with actual military weapons. Approximately 8,000 people are believed to have been killed since last year when Duterte took office as president. Neither the White House nor the Philippines readouts of Saturday's call specified whether Trump congratulated Duterte on that particular achievement, or wistfully reflected on what a terrific press release that would have made for his own first 100 days.

If Team Trump has even the least awareness that inviting Duterte to the White House is morally reprehensible -- or even just terrible optics -- they're not betraying anything of the sort. On ABC's “This Week” Sunday, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus dismissed a question about whether the Trump administration is no longer worried about human rights, an evasion that effectively answered the question on its own:

Absolutely not [...] It doesn't mean that human rights don't matter, but what it does mean is that the issues facing us, developing out of North Korea, are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get.

For what it's worth, the Washington Post notes the Philippines isn't exactly a major player in North Korea anyway, but a dodge is a dodge, after all.

Groups like Human Rights Watch and Filipino opposition parties have condemned the Duterte invitation, what with the thousands of killings and all, but the Trump administration doesn't appear to mind. And really, what's one more visit from an authoritarian leader to the Oval Office? It's not like Duterte is a close ally Trump wants to publicly insult.

Besides, we're sure Duterte has generously offered to wash his hands and check his suit carefully for bloodstains before visiting the White House.

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[Slate / NYT / WaPo / Guardian / WaPo]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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