Deconstructing the News Lite: Did Putin inspire POTUS to give governors ultimatum: 'Attack protestors or risk military invasion'?

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Something doesn’t sit right with me about the timeline of POTUS’s fever dream televised yesterday from Lafayette Square, near the White House. And I have an attitude today, so prepare for snark.

First, I want to compare how MSNBC and Fox News characterized POTUS’s description for how he envisions states should deal with protests. By now, you will likely have heard what he said directly, but here’s a link to the entire transcript, and here’s what POTUS said that I want to call attention to:

“Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled. If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

While plenty of others today are parsing the Constitutional legality of that, governors including New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (D) have said, uh, no.

In the 11PM hour last night, East Coast time, Fox New Channel’s talking head newscaster referred to the above oh-so presidential quote this way, “The president has urged governors to crack down on protestors and rioters…”. Meanwhile, MSNBC all throughout the entire primetime slot, particularly on Rachel Maddow’s show, the commentators found various ways to point out that this was a threat, not a suggestion, and spent a hella time to explain how if POTUS invokes the Insurrection Act he is Constitutionally within his rights. Has he actually invoked it? No one outside his circle seems to know for sure.

The point is this: Fox News got it wrong, and I think they did so deliberately because their brand is to sell you the idea that might makes right.

Still, I don’t need a talking head’s intonation or carefully chosen verb to interpret POTUS’s words for me, I can read what he said and conclude at face value that he was serving an ultimatum. And even though MSNBC clarified the nature of the threat, discussing how his potential use of the Insurrection Act would allow him to roll tanks over state lines, if he feels like it, I didn’t need MSNBC to verify what I heard.

We were threatened by our president yesterday, and very much on purpose. I got it. He reached me loud and clear.

All day today, the media has been dissecting whether POTUS will or won’t deploy the military on our own soil, against our own citizens. I guess that is just to fill time in their 24/7 news cycles, because I personally see no reason not to take this guy at his word when it comes to inflicting pain on others. The man is a bully, so when he makes threats that involve making him look tough and everyone else look vanquished, that is the only time I actually do pay attention to what he says. This guy’s record of action matches up quite nicely with his record of threatening people.

What is NOT clear is who is actually creating the violence. Here’s another bit from the transcript of POTUS’s freak out yesterday:

“Those who threaten innocent life and property will be arrested detained and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I want the organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail. This includes antifa and others who are leading instigators of this violence.”

No one knows for certain who the violent perpetrators are, but if you do take in media from a variety of sources, what you will see is plenty of peaceful protestors doing their best to stop the violence. Here’s one of dozens of stories I have heard or read, this one in NYC where protestors formed a human chain around a box store to prevent it from being looted. There are plenty more such stories.

As has been said myriad times in much of the media (except those where the facts don’t match the brand), antifa, which means “anti-fascists”, is not an organized movement, but a sentiment. It is also a convenient scape goat. Since most protestors are peaceful, POTUS’s use of such rhetoric makes me highly suspicious that among the looting opportunists, of whom there are many, there are also hired thugs whose job is to make his thundering rhetoric seem true.

I said as much to a Pentagon source who confirmed there to be a lot of suspicious activity by young white men among the otherwise peaceful protests, nationwide. Take that for what you will, but it’s naïve to think the looting and violence is monolithic, and that some of it isn’t orchestrated for a nefarious purpose.

Which brings me to what doesn’t smell right: early in the day yesterday, Trump had a phone call with Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Sure, they were supposed to be discussing the postponed G7 Summit. But, since we don’t have a transcript of that call, one wonders what else was discussed. We do have a read out from the Russian “news” service, Tass, which states:

“The leaders highlighted the importance of boosting the Russian-American dialogue on strategic stability and confidence-building measures in the military sphere, the Kremlin specified. "It was agreed to keep up contacts on various levels.”

What the hell does that mean? Unlike the ultimatum POTUS gave, which was crystal clear, this is nice and vague.

Maybe here’s a clue.

Back in 1999, you might recall that there were horrible terrorist attacks on a number of buildings, including on a maternity ward, in Russia’s separatist-minded Chechnyan Republic. Suspicious for a number of reasons, the terrorist attacks were highly convenient in helping Putin rise to power, scaring Russians into thinking they needed a strong man. Notably, any Russian who has tried to investigate whether Putin had a role in the attack, as many have speculated, has been murdered.

The one American who tried to investigate is the only American journalist to have been expelled from Russia. And perhaps not for nothing, the most vociferous American legislator ever to state publicly and often his suspicions that Putin was behind the attacks was the late Senator John McCain, whom Trump bashed often while the senator lived, and still does now that he is gone.

McCain frequently voiced his distrust of Putin, calling him a “thug”, “murderer”, and a “butcher” whom we should “never trust” because he orchestrates terror to his own ends.

More germane to what happened in Washington yesterday is how in Russia, protests aimed at Putin are systematically put down with brutal efficiency which often includes the deaths or disappearances of the protestors, but certainly violence against them.

This is why I am highly suspicious about the fact that on the same day that Trump had a call with his favorite Russian campaign worker, the throngs of peaceful protestors in front of the White House yesterday were tear gassed, sprayed with rubber bullets, and flash banged, in full violation of their Constitutional right to peacefully assemble.

Part of this is POTUS doesn’t like to look weak, and right now with 100,000+ coronavirus deaths, a failing presidency and the poll numbers to go with it, as well as investigations galore into everything with his name on it, yeah, he looks weak.

And while I don’t know what the end game is for POTUS, nor for the feckless Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell who has had ample opportunity to defang this dangerous narcissist yet always seems to find an excuse not to, given the amount of corruption in this administration we’ve nearly become numb to, it sure does look like the goal is to consolidate and hang on to power for as long as possible, including by shutting down dissent.

For tips on how to do that, one need only pick up the phone to hear a few words of “confidence-building measures in the military sphere” from the Kremlin.

Incidentally, yesterday was also the day Putin set the date as July 1 for a national vote on changing the Russian constitution so that he can remain president until 2036. He circumvented term limits once before, oddly stating that he would not be president until he was 100. Given that corrupt elections in Russia are notoriously commonplace, odds are in a month’s time, Putin will become the Russian presumptive president for life, or at least until age 84, unless he changes the rules again.

That’s the stuff of POTUS’s dreams!

In any case, there is another phone call of interest. It happened shortly after POTUS hung up with Putin. The call was supposed to be between Vice President Mike Pence and the nation’s governors, but Trump surprised them by jumping on the line (Pence never spoke during the call) and according to the New York Times, which obtained a leaked recording of the event, said this:

“You have to dominate,” Mr. Trump told the governors, warning them that “you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks” if the National Guard were not heavily deployed in protest areas.

And by the way who leaked that? Clearly this is a White House that is out of control of a number of things, including it’s own circle, and maybe we should at least be thankful for that.

God forbid anyone look weak by upholding the Constitution and serving at the will of the people. Said POTUS in his screech in front of protestors at Lafayette Square:

“Our country always wins…That is why I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America. I am mobilizing all available federal resources civilian and military to stop the rioting and looting to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights.”

Which of course, I also heard loud and clear: We have to let POTUS win or he’ll sic the gun nuts after us, even though none of them have expressed any concern about their rights being threatened this time around. Okay, that’s just my translation.

Whether POTUS just wants to impress Putin with his very best dictator-in-training routine, or give the Russian strongman’s tactics a test drive, or both, I don’t think the timing of the phone calls and the subsequent photo op is coincidence.

There is too cozy a relationship between the former KGB agent and our president. It’s been documented ad nauseam, but here’s a reminder by New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, just in case. POTUS just really can’t stand not looking as puffed up as Putin and all the other dictators in the Robb Report of Repugnants. (I made up that part about the repugnants, but there is a publication dedicated to very important exclusive people, although I notice even they are saying Black Lives Matter.)

Whether our president is about to go to war against us using our own military to silence dissent, I can’t say for sure, but I do expect something nasty given his track record. What that’ll look like, who knows? Whatever it is, I doubt he dreamed up the plan all by himself.

Thugs, yes, random, no.

Regular readers know I didn’t start out with an obvious bias against this administration or towards Republicans. The long division of how I got here is in the archives.

I think it’s important for me to share with you how I started out neutral, but ended up with a very definite point of view of American politics, one that is flexible and ready to change. My journey is still unfolding, and is guided by considering media from across the spectrum.

Speaking of which, I recommend that if you want context for what is happening nationally, read The Washington Post, no matter what your proclivities. It is our local paper, and because the District is not a state, POTUS’s security detail and others in his circle are bullying local officials and law enforcement in ways the national media are not necessarily interested in covering.

I believe with every inch of my being that even if it’s highly distasteful to you, to be of a sound mind, it’s essential to seek out more than one news source. Pick at least one that you know will challenge you, even make your blood boil. Fox News is my personal choice for an easy dose of WTF, but any news outlet that makes you have to defend your position is important to ensure that you are always testing your truth.

Truth is binary: for it to support us, we have to practice making sure we can support it.

Which reminds me, POTUS also said this yesterday:

"We must never give in to anger or hatred. If malice or violence reigns, then none of us is free.”

Will he be shouting that from the top of a tank next time?

Fun times. My neighborhood was looted twice this week, which I will write about in my patron level newsletter, and also soon to come, a riveting podcast with the creator of a do-it-yourself marketplace for mental health.

Stay safe and true to truth.