Trump Threatens Troops to ‘Dominate’ and ‘Put Down’ Movement

The President of the United States is on the precipice of fascism.

President Trump Departs for Florida President Donald J. Trump salutes as he boards Marine One on the South Lawn of White House en route to Joint Base Andrews Md. Saturday, May 30, 2020, for his trip to Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)
Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

We’ve been sending off our students, who graduate via a virtual ceremony tomorrow, the last couple of days so I needed to cut short my writing this morning. What started as a single post about the outrages President Trump committed yesterday quickly became long enough for at least two posts but time did not permit.

As I wrote early this morning, President Trump’s having federal police and military spraying protestors with tear grass to stage a photo op, was enough to knock the mayhem in cities across the nation off of the headlines. But, shockingly, that was not the worst thing he did yesterday. Yet, sadly, events are moving so quickly that this news is already hard to find on the top news sites in the country.

WaPo (“Trump threatens military action to quell protests, and the law would let him do it“):

President Trump has the legal authority to deploy active-duty military personnel to states to help quell violent protests across the country over the death of a black man in police custody — though the dramatic move he threatened Monday would probably generate strong pushback from some state and local officials, analysts said.

In a televised speech, Trump said he had recommended Monday “to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets.”

“Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” Trump said.

“If a city or a 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.”

[…]

The deployment of active-duty military personnel, though — particularly to states that may not want them — would represent a further escalation of Trump wielding his considerable presidential powers.

“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,” Trump said.

As frustrating and provocative as Trump’s public comments were, his private remarks earlier in the day in a call with the nation’s governors were downright frightening. NPR (“Governors Push Back On Trump’s Threat To Deploy Federal Troops To Quell Unrest“):

President Trump, in a conference call Monday with the nation’s governors, threatened to deploy the U.S. military to restore order unless states hit by days of unrest “put down” violent demonstrations, urging leaders to “dominate” lawbreakers or risk looking like “a bunch of jerks.”

[…]

Trump took a tough line with the governors, saying he was putting Attorney General William Barr in charge of the federal law enforcement response. The president said the White House was “strongly looking for arrests.”

“You have to arrest people and you have to try people. And they have to go to jail for long periods of time,” the president said.

“If people are running amok, you have to dominate. If you aren’t dominating, you’re wasting your time,” he said. “They’re going to run over you; you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”

“It’s a movement. If you don’t put it down, it will get worse and worse,” Trump said. “The only time it’s successful is when you’re weak and most of you are weak.”

Especially in the context of his tweets about shooting looters, the “dominance” language is especially scary. Worse, still, his talk of “putting down” a “movement” seems to go much further than simply taking aggressive action against perpetrators of mayhem. His animus seems literally directed against law-abiding citizens exercising their fundamental right to petition their government for redress of grievances.

The reaction of the governors was almost universally negative, drawing rebuke from at least some Republicans. Sadly, not all.

While some governors, such as South Carolina’s Henry McMaster, a Republican, praised Trump’s calls for a crackdown, others took umbrage at the president’s combative tone and questioned his authority to unilaterally deploy federal troops to the states.

During the conference call, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, warned the president that the “rhetoric coming out of the White House is making it worse,” to which Trump snapped back, “I don’t like your rhetoric that much either.”

“I had to speak up, and I told him that his rhetoric is inflaming matters, that it’s making things worse, and that we need to call for police reform,” Pritzker told NPR’s Morning Edition on Tuesday. “We need to call for calm, that that’s what the president should do and we need national leadership in this regard.”

“He unfortunately — you know,” the governor added, “he reacted badly.”
Pritzker also said that what Trump’s suggesting is “illegal.”

“The governor of a state has to ask for federal help. I don’t know any governor that intends to do that,” he said. “And secondly, you know, you can hear in his rhetoric that he is simply trying to make himself sound like a strong man — almost like a dictator, as if he’s going to be responsible for bringing order all the way.”

In Michigan, where police and protesters have skirmished in Grand Rapids despite many demonstrations remaining peaceful, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, called the president’s remarks “dangerous” and said they should be “gravely concerning to all Americans.”

The president’s comments, she said, “send a clear signal that this administration is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division, which I fear will only lead to more violence and destruction.”

“We must reject this way of thinking. This is a moment that calls for empathy, humanity, and unity,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This is one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history, but as Americans, we must remember our enemy is racial injustice, not one another.”

The Republican governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, said he wasn’t surprised by the president’s “incendiary words.”

“At so many times during these last several weeks, when the country needed compassion and leadership the most, it simply was nowhere to be found,” he said following the phone call with Trump.

“Instead, we got bitterness, combativeness and self-interest. That’s not what we need in Boston, it’s not what we need right now in Massachusetts,” he said as his voice cracked with emotion, “and it’s definitely not what we need across this great country of ours either.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, called the president’s remarks the “rantings of an insecure man trying to look strong after building his entire political career on racism.”

On the subject of the deploying of federal troops, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told CNN that he would respond to such an offer by saying, “Thank you, but no thank you.”

“He wants to make this about looting because he doesn’t want to talk about the killing of Mr. Floyd,” Cuomo said. “[He] doesn’t want to really talk about racism and discrimination.”

As to the claims of Pritzker and Cuomo that Trump lacks the power to do this, they’re almost certainly wrong.

A law called the Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the domestic use of military for law enforcement purposes without specific congressional authorization, said Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas Law School. But a different law, the Insurrection Act, provides the president authorization to do so under certain circumstances, he said.
According to a Congressional Research Service report, the act has been invoked “on dozens of occasions” throughout U.S. history, though its recent use has been “exceedingly rare.” The act was invoked in 1992 during riots in California over the beating of motorist Rodney King, though in that instance, the state’s governor requested it.

It was also used during the civil rights movement, including when President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent the Army into Little Rock to desegregate its schools, Vladeck said. The law says the president can intervene if state authorities are unable to give their residents the protection of law.

“I think there’s a reason why the statute allows him to act even if states don’t ask him,” Vladeck said. “I don’t think the situation is as dire as the drafters of the statute might have contemplated, but invocation of the Insurrection Act here seems much less controversial to me as a legal argument than many of Trump’s other actions.”

That’s a low bar, indeed.

Gary Solis, retired law professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a retired Marine judge advocate, said the act, “does give the executive extraordinarily broad power to assemble federal troops to restore order in the various states.” But, he said, if Trump were to invoke it now, state and local officials likely “would fight tooth and nail to keep federal troops out.”

One suspects he’d win in court and, frankly, he might well ignore any preliminary injunctions, simply declaring the emergency requires him to take strong action.

Another NPR report (“What Is The Insurrection Act That Trump Is Threatening To Invoke?“) sheds further light:

Before invoking it, the president “must first issue a proclamation ordering the insurgents to disperse within a limited time, 10 U.S.C. § 334.4. If the situation does not resolve itself, the President may issue an executive order to send in troops,” according to a 2006 report by the Congressional Research Service.

That is the same year the act was amended to expand the instances in which the president may invoke the law, after the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina a year earlier was criticized.
It authorizes “the President to employ the armed forces during a natural disaster or terrorist attack.”

As to whether a state must request the presence of those military forces in the state, that’s “not necessarily” the case, according to experts.

A section of the law (§251) says (emphasis ours):

“[T]he President may, upon the request of its legislature or of its governor if the legislature cannot be convened, call into Federal service such of the militia.”

But the next section (§252) says:

Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.”

While I’ve become much less conservative on a host of issues over the last two decades, one area where I’ve remained steadfast is this one: any grant of plenary power to the President or agency of government is almost certainly going to be abused down the line in ways not intended by those granting the power. So, if you’re fine with George W. Bush having the power, you need to reconcile yourself to Barack Obama using it as he sees fit. Likewise, if you’re fine with Obama having the power, see how much you like it when it’s Trump’s turn.

As much as I opposed Trump’s nomination and eventual election in 2016 and condemned so many of his actions since taking offices, I’ve pushed back against charges of fascism or authoritarianism. Last night’s tear-gassing incident may well have crossed the line into those territories. Actually ordering out U.S. military forces to conduct extrajudicial killings would certainly be authoritarian. Using them to put down a largely peaceful movement would be the act of a fascist.

We can only hope that these words are simply bluster.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, U.S. Constitution
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jay L Gischer says:

    I think that when Trump says you have to “dominate” them or you will “look like a jerk”, he is speaking from his heart. I don’t think it’s a performance at all. This is a core belief for him. I don’t know where this will lead, but in this, he is being strangely honest.

    But more escalation is not going to play well with a really wide swath of the country. I mean the gaslighting about yesterday’s church walk we’re seeing today is an acknowledgement that it didn’t play well.

    18
  2. MarkedMan says:

    When Trump was elected and so many were saying that his cabinet and the Republican Congress would keep him in line I pointed out that Trump could replace that cabinet and the Republicans had shown no will whatsoever to go against him. I don’t think anyone can argue that is exactly how it played out.

    Which makes me really worried about something else I harped on: Trump, for years, has constantly tried to goad various authorities into taking violent actions against their own people, whether it be his home city of New York, the US Government or even other countries. You can hear it in his voice: at heart he wants to hurt people or be the cause of people being hurt.

    And he has the nuclear launch codes.

    20
  3. CSK says:

    That Trump would use the word “dominate” says so much about him, mainly that he’s a desperately weak little man with never-to-be-fulfilled fantasies of being the toughest guy on the block.

    11
  4. Modulo Myself says:

    Yeah, what these cities need is a good dose of the military that did so well in Iraq and Afghanistan. More heavily-armed thick-necked white dudes in wraparound sunglasses screaming at college kids. Maybe get Seal Team Six in the mix to defend the Pandoras and Foot Lockers from the teenagers looting them. Get some SIGINT to figure out which kid is calling you bitch and which kid might be throwing a water bottle.

    8
  5. reid says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Agreed; Trump isn’t smart enough to play anything beyond 1-dimensional checkers. And these actions are every bit in line with what we know about him. He loves to think that he’s the king, he loves to surround himself with “the generals”, and he loves seeing his security forces roughing up people. So yeah, he’s speaking from his heart, but unfortunately it’s a black heart. When we elect presidents in the future, we need to first and foremost weed out evil people. It’s a shame that’s so difficult to do for some.

    5
  6. gVOR08 says:

    As always, I’ll worry about this when he actually does something. So far all he’s done is get the Nat’l Guard and Secret Service to deny the 1st Amendment rights of peaceful protesters so he could do a photo op. Beyond that, nobody, especially Trump, seems to know what he meant or what he might do or even what he might already have done. At this point he’s just blowing to impress his incredibly gullible base. My only fear of action is that he’ll talk himself into a corner. By talking about the legalities and motivations and ramifications of hypothetical actions the press only serve to normalize him. The story isn’t that he’s talking about doing something crazy, the story is that he’s crazy.

    6
  7. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Oh, he said that about hurting people in one of his books ghosted by someone else: that it wasn’t enough to win a negotiation, that you had to utterly crush and humiliate your opponent.

    6
  8. Northerner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And he has the nuclear launch codes.

    I tell myself that his launch codes would be ignored (like the urban legend that says if Nixon had tried to launch anything in his last days in office they too would have been ignored — and btw, in no way am I comparing Nixon and Trump. Nixon, for all his faults, was an intelligent man, and of much better character than Trump).

    No doubt there are many who will point out I’m probably living in a dream world. Before you do so, please remember that this illusion helps me sleep at night.

    9
  9. Jay L Gischer says:

    @gVOR08: So, I take it you disagree with my assessment? You think he doesn’t mean all that stuff about you have to dominate or you’ll look like a jerk? Do I have that right?

  10. reid says:

    @gVOR08: I understand your point, but we’re already 12 steps beyond where I ever thought we’d be. I can also see/feel the violent groundwork being laid for exactly what Trump is talking about doing. I don’t have a good feeling about any of it, and I suspect the coming elections will just add more fuel to his fire. I hope I’m wrong.

    5
  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    As much as I opposed Trump’s nomination and eventual election in 2016 and condemned so many of his actions since taking offices, I’ve pushed back against charges of fascism or authoritarianism.

    He’s always been a fascist in his heart. Psychopathy, cowardice, weakness and stupidity define him. His character has been obvious to anyone who paid attention to such things, and his character makes his current actions predictable, or at least contextualizes them. He is simply not capable of any more, the empathy app is not in his brain. He cannot suddenly be smarter, he can’t suddenly decide to learn, he cannot improve, he can only devolve still further.

    The decision to ‘call in the army’ is a contest between his cowardice and his fear of impotence. I hope there are people explaining to him that if he calls in the army and that doesn’t work, he’s done. If he thinks the army is a winning move, he’ll make it; if he realizes it’s a desperate gamble he may well lose, he won’t. If he wasn’t such an abject POS one could almost sympathize: he’s between a rock and a hard place and another loan from Daddy, or another army of Putin’s bots, won’t save him.

    ETTD, Everything Trump touches, dies. I hope he doesn’t touch the army.

    11
  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    …any grant of plenary power to the President or agency of government is almost certainly going to be abused down the line in ways not intended by those granting the power.

    The legislative sponsors of the Insurrection Act and the Posse Comitatus Act never conceived that there would be president such as Trump. Now here we are on the precipice of another constitutional crisis.

    3
  13. drj says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I hope he doesn’t touch the army.

    That ship has sailed. They’re already flailing for excuses:

    BREAKING: Extraordinary. Senior Defense Official distances @EsperDoD
    @thejointstaff Milley from @realDonaldTrump photo op outside St. Johns. “Their understanding was they were walking out of the White House to walk through Lafayette Park to review efforts to quell the protests”

    MORE: “They were not aware that the park police and law enforcement had made a decision to clear the square… Once they walked out, they continued with him.”

    MORE: “As that meeting concluded, the President indicated an interest in viewing the troops that were outside and the Secretary and the Chairman went with him to do so.
    That’s the extent of what’s taken place. And they were part of the group who continued through Lafayette Park.”

    Yeah, right.

    3
  14. senyordave says:

    @Northerner: Nixon, for all his faults, was an intelligent man, and of much better character than Trump).

    I never thought it would be possible, but I completely agree with the second part of your statement. But then again, who has a worse character than Trump? I guess pedophiles and serial killers, and that is assuming that Trump is not a member of either of those two groups.

    5
  15. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He’s always been a fascist in his heart. Psychopathy, cowardice, weakness and stupidity define him.

    I think that’s right. Despite saying, and even doing, some rather horrendous things since taking the oath of office, he had been staying within the guardrails of the system. When courts ordered him to stand down, he stood down.

    Yes, he said some awful things about journalists. But he didn’t actually do anything. Suddenly, journalists are being targeted and arrested around the country. While that seems spontaneous and a result of normal police jackassery, it’s certainly at least influenced by Trump’s rhetoric. And it wouldn’t shock me if Trump started using the folks who were willing to teargas ordiniary citizens exercising their First Amendment rights to go after reporters.

    And so few Republican officeholders have demonstrated any spine that I seriously doubt there are any real guardrails left.

    12
  16. Kathy says:

    While I’ve become much less conservative on a host of issues over the last two decades, one area where I’ve remained steadfast is this one: any grant of plenary power to the President or agency of government is almost certainly going to be abused down the line in ways not intended by those granting the power.

    The thing about checks and balances is they don’t work when one branch cedes power to another, because all checks and balances go along with the power ceded.

    12
  17. Scott says:

    Once more we are seeing the limits of norms in our system of laws and government. In the hands of unscrupulous attorneys, judges, and other legal entities (think AG Bill Barr), the norms can be tossed away and the law twisted into almost anything desired.

    We are seeing options for operating this country narrowed down to just a couple of options. Elections (which may be another norm twisted), mass marches and movements (which can be suppressed) or if they get desperate enough, Congress cutting off all authority and funding to the Executive Branch until it heels.

    I’m not in a good frame of mind right now and see things quite darkly, unfortunately.

    10
  18. Slugger says:

    Trump has previously supported the repression of the Tiananmen protests. He likes raw power.
    https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-praised-china-tiananmen-foreshadowing-response-to-george-floyd-protests-2020-6

    3
  19. drj says:

    And so few Republican officeholders have demonstrated any spine that I seriously doubt there are any real guardrails left.

    Right now, a lot depends on Trump’s cowardice.

    But the really scary part is that – unless something completely unexpected happens to the GOP – every election in the foreseeable future will be a contest between democracy and authoritarianism.

    10
  20. Nightcrawler says:

    @Scott:

    Probably not as dark as I am.

    I have no doubt in my mind that the military will be set loose on the streets, and they will kill as many Americans as they possibly can. While a few will refuse to carry out orders, most of them won’t. If they are ordered to kill, they will.

    I am also not ruling out nukes being dropped on major American cities. I live near Philadelphia, and I know that if Trump decides to drop the bombs, Philadelphia will get it.

    We are all the Walking Dead. No one is safe. Denying that fact won’t save you. Even being a Branch Trumpidian won’t save you. If Philadelphia gets nuked, the MAGAs living in the suburbs will burn, too.

    This is the reality of our world. I’m more glad than ever that I never had children.

    I did what I wanted, as much as I could, while I could, and for that, I’m glad. I met damn near the whole cast of The X-Files. I had breakfast with Nic Lea. I visited Chicago and ran in a park along Lake Michigan. I ran dozens of half marathons. I didn’t do everything I wanted, but I did as much as I could, with the time and resources I had. I spent my money instead of saving it, and I’m damn glad I did.

    My final wish is that if I am murdered — I refuse to say “killed,” because whether by gov’t thug or nuke, it’s still murder — that my death means something. I hope I don’t die for absolutely nothing.

    Since I’m marked for death no matter what I do — just as we all are — I may as well keep running my big mouth until the end comes. That tilts the odds of me getting my dying wish in my favor.

    I guess there is one more thing. If I’m not among the survivors, and there will be survivors (lots of them), I hope they inherit a world that’s not as dark and hopeless as this one. If I am among the survivors, I will help them build it.

    3
  21. Nightcrawler says:

    If you have minor children, lie your ass off to them. Tell them everything will be fine. Do not, under any circumstances, tell them the truth. There’s no point. It’s not like they can change anything, and small children, unlike adults, don’t really have bucket lists. Plus, logistics preclude bucket list wishes from being fulfilled now anyway.

    Just let them be happy until the moment the end comes. That’s what I would do.

    1
  22. Monala says:

    @James Joyner:

    Happening already:

    this is just insane: there’s a curfew in philly right now, and there’s a gang of white people with bats and other weapons roving around fishtown. the police kindly asked them to disperse and then arrested a black person who had a bat thrown at him.

    2
  23. Not the IT Dept. says:

    America has invaded other countries at this point in their political affairs. What makes us so special that an United Nations multinational effort couldn’t invade for our own good? Concern over the safety of our nuclear weapons could be reason enough.

    I just hope it’s combined effort of Germany-Canada-France-Mexico-Japan and maybe Australia since we’ve managed to piss them off too and not Russia and/or China.

    And I’m with Modulo on the effectiveness of our military (19 years and counting in Afghanistan!).

    4
  24. Joe says:

    I am struggling to picture how this would actually play out: does an Army unit just show up in downtown Minneapolis while court fights play out on the sideline? What does that army unit do that differs from what the national guard is doing? How do the national guard and the local police respond? Do they lay down their weapons? Are they ordered to? Do any take the side of the protestors? If the streets get quieter, when/how does the Army unit leave – or are they now an occupying force?

    1
  25. Dutchmarbel says:

    @James Joyner:

    And it wouldn’t shock me if Trump started using the folks who were willing to teargas ordiniary citizens exercising their First Amendment rights to go after reporters.

    Last I checked there were already 2 reporters permanently blind from ‘non-lethal’ shots in their faces, a reporter ordered to lie down and maced, reporter hit in the face live on tv… Al Jazeera had a little sequence yesterday counting 25 assaults on reporters, I’m sure it’s more by now.

    4
  26. Gustopher says:

    As much as I opposed Trump’s nomination and eventual election in 2016 and condemned so many of his actions since taking offices, I’ve pushed back against charges of fascism or authoritarianism. Last night’s tear-gassing incident may well have crossed the line into those territories. Actually ordering out U.S. military forces to conduct extrajudicial killings would certainly be authoritarian. Using them to put down a largely peaceful movement would be the act of a fascist.

    We can only hope that these words are simply bluster.

    How often are Trump’s words simply bluster? He speaks what is on his mind and what he wants to happen, even if he doesn’t know how to make it happen. Virus numbers will go down, we’ll dominate the protestors, let’s pull out of WHO.

    When he was on the campaign trail, and talking about how it’s ok to beat protestors and smash their heads into car roofs, was that bravado? He’s flabby and old and not going to do it himself, but he’s certainly willing to encourage others to do it. Look at America right now, look at what he has said, and what he is saying and ask again, was that bravado?

    In another thread a few days ago, I pondered how we would know whether we are slipping into fascism, and whether it’s time to make sure we have guns. It’s not time to take up arms to protect our democracy, but it might be time to make sure we have access to weapons in case that time does come.

    ETA: I don’t think I can say with certainty that it won’t be time to take up arms to protect our democracy in November. There’s never been a time in my life when I seriously thought we might get there before now.

    5
  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Jay L. Gisher: I don’t think we actually disagree. Yes, he meant every word about dominating. But he lies, even to himself. Who has he ever actually dominated? Maybe a few hookers? I remember reading, I think in the Atlantic, the story of his buying the Plaza. The sellers’ agent was inexperienced and sweating how he’d handle the NY real estate sharks. Then Trump came in and “dominated” him by offering more money and easier terms than they’d ever dreamed of.

    I fear we may fall into a military situation, but more by incompetence than design. But so far he’s cleared one street without, as far as I’ve heard, federal troops. Otherwise he’s just talking big and throwing out incoherent nonsense to con the base.

    He did the church stunt because he got dissed as BunkerBoy. Given reaction to his church stunt, I am a little afraid of what feeble, mismanaged stunt he might pull next. I also worry about the Republican apparatchiks around him coming up with something more realistic. I’m not so much disagreeing with you as expressing my utter contempt for the man.

  28. Jim T. says:

    my understanding is there is no evidence of tear gas having been used last night near the White House

  29. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:
    Not BunkerBoy, BunkerBitch. Much worse.

    3
  30. Kathy says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    You seem to be joking, but I’ve often wondered how a US force would fare against a similarly capable force, say British, Canadian, German, French, or Israeli.

  31. drj says:

    @Jim T.:

    my understanding is there is no evidence of tear gas having been used last night near the White House

    A bunch of priests say differently.

    By the way, the claim that no tear gas was used emerged from here:

    A source says tear gas was never used — instead smoke cannisters were deployed, which don’t have an uncomfortable irritant in them. And, the source says Park Police didn’t know President Trump would be walking across the park several minutes later.

    But followed by this:

    Just got an answer to my question to the US Secret Service about whether the agency used tear gas: “For operational security reasons, the U.S. Secret Service does not discuss our protectees or our protective means and methods.” Clearly, that didn’t answer my question.

    And, of course, this:

    UPDATE: Atty General William Barr personally told law enforcement officials to clear Lafayette Park, and extend the security perimeter, shortly before President Trump walked across the park to St. John’s Episcopal Church, Monday, accdng to Washington Post and ABC News.

    Best case scenario: rather than tear gas, police deployed smoke meant to make breathing difficult (why else use it?) to chase off peaceful protestors – including clergy at their own church – so that Trump could have his photo op.

    There is no way to justify this.

    That story that no tear gas was used is a red herring at best.

    15
  32. inhumans99 says:

    @Jim T.:

    Where does your understanding come from (what source leads you to believe it was just smoke canisters not tear gas)?

    Also, lets assume for a moment it was “just” smoke canisters instead of tear gas. Do you still feel it is a good look for the White House to stage a photo-op by trying to smoke out peaceful protesters? Also, as a Catholic I am appalled that he holds the Bible in one hand and uses authoritarian language at the same time as to how he intends to resolve the situation, are you cool with the Bible being used as a prop in our President’s hands?

    I am the son of a Veteran and maybe you are a Vet or a family member is (or perhaps you or a relative are on active-duty) so I would also like to ask, are you okay with President Trump threatening to “dominate” the protesters by using the military?

    I am hoping you will put some thought into your answers and not just link to your preferred news source.

    3
  33. mattbernius says:

    @Jim T.:
    They have clarified that they used pepper balls versus spray. Which are concussive and sting and have pretty much the same general effect, just a little more limited. So yes, a concussively deployed chemical agent was at play.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-02/police-say-they-used-pepper-spray-to-clear-protesters-for-trump

    2
  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @reid: Aren’t the checkers too thin to pick up and move in one dimensional checkers?

    4
  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @drj: At its most basic ground level, conservatism is about the power of the peerage/aristocracy/whoever (remembering that in the French Assembly, the supporters of the King sat on the right). It’s not that big of a move to go from benign aristocracy (what our Founders were probably envisioning) to self-interested aristocracy to authoritarian government or even to despotism. I expect that even Kim Jong-un believes that what he is doing is for the benefit of the people. Idi Amin, even. No one thinks that they are evil and does what they do for the sake of evil.

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  36. reid says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Heh. Good thing he doesn’t play checkers, either.

  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Nightcrawler:
    Um, dude?

    Have a drink. You’re getting ahead of yourself. So far ahead I’m getting a whiff of provocateur.

  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    The Pentagon is leaking, ‘hey, not us,’ stories. George W. Bush, Mike Mullen and Pat Roberston, FFS, have come out against Trump. In the midst of riots! I am not a wild-eyed optimist, but these are not insignificant things. We usually get rolled because we usually splinter and lose interest, or run away when someone says ‘tough on crime.’ Who’s running away? It’s not our side, not this time.

    It’s time for the Barry Goldwater moment. Senior Republicans need to go to Trump and tell him it’s over. The country is against them. The world is against them. They’re losing, and if they don’t put an end to this now, we could see real violence. But the military wants no part of this. And the old farts in the Senate don’t want to be part of some coup. They know what Trump is.

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  39. Not the IT Dept. says:

    @Kathy:

    No, I’m not joking. Our nuclear arsenal is too large to be left in the hands of a raving lunatic and the world has been getting increasingly fed up with our sh*t since we lost our minds after 9/11. Other countries – many of them our allies – might be wondering if it’s not time to stage an intervention for our own good.

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  40. Kathy says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    No one’s ever invaded a country with a working nuclear arsenal. So, I agree.

    But aside from that, invading the US would be incredibly difficult (ie costly in lives). It’s big, well-armed, has bases all over the world, has lots of weapons among civilians, and has a large navy it can deploy for defense and offense.

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  41. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    The problem with that is that you could reason with Nixon. You cannot reason with Trump.

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  42. Nightcrawler says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I sincerely hope that you are 100% right, and I am getting ahead of myself, and that I am 100% wrong.

    I’m not a provocateur. I’m a misanthrope. I have about zero faith in humanity. I’m hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

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  43. Nightcrawler says:

    @CSK:

    Yep, we have a lunatic in charge of the world’s most powerful military — and a nuclear arsenal.

    I have come to realize that most Americans don’t support Trump. However, he has unfettered ability to kill millions of his detractors before he’s finally stopped. The GOP won’t stop him. I fear that the only thing that will, will be a wholesale slaughter, either nuking a major city, a Tienanmen Square-style massacre in a major city, or both. Only after hundreds, thousands, or perhaps millions lie dead will the military turn against him and his enablers and remove them from power.

    I sincerely hope that I am wrong. I really do. I don’t want to see any of this happen. I just fear it will.

  44. Nightcrawler says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Senior Republicans need to go to Trump and tell him it’s over. The country is against them. The world is against them. They’re losing, and if they don’t put an end to this now, we could see real violence.

    They won’t. They could have removed him in January; they refused to. Hell, they won’t even come out against him tear-gassing protesters for a photo op.

    But the military wants no part of this.

    A lot of them, perhaps the majority of them, don’t. However, enough of them do that if Trump orders them to attack American citizens, it will happen. That was demonstrated in D.C. over the past two nights. No, they didn’t fire, but they demonstrated that they would.

    And the old farts in the Senate don’t want to be part of some coup. They know what Trump is.

    They don’t care. They’re willing to do anything, and I mean anything, to lower taxes on millionaires and billionaires, make abortion illegal, and abolish Obamacare.

    Really. They’re willing to kill who knows how many citizens to achieve those things.

    Again, I sincerely hope you are 100% right, and I am 100% wrong. I live near a major city, run by Democrats. That means it has an enormous target on its back. Hell, Delaware has an enormous target on its back simply because Biden lives here.

    The violence has not yet spilled over into my little working-class, racially mixed suburb, but I am under no illusions that it won’t. I am hoping that it won’t, but that’s all I can do, hope.

  45. Northerner says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    America has invaded other countries at this point in their political affairs. What makes us so special that an United Nations multinational effort couldn’t invade for our own good? Concern over the safety of our nuclear weapons could be reason enough.

    Besides the fact that the American armed forces fighting at home would easily beat invaders having to come over the oceans (Canada’s and Mexico’s armies are small), exactly the nuclear weapons you’re rightly concerned about would ensure no one would invade, and for the same reason America never invaded the USSR or China — the nukes would be in the air long before the invasion could get control of them.

    Besides that, other countries invading America is probably the single thing that could get a majority of Americans to back Trump. Think about it. 40% of Americans don’t care enough about politics to bother voting. Most of them would care about being invaded though. There’s a reason unpopular reasons try to start wars — and its even better for them if someone else starts the war.

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  46. inhumans99 says:

    @Northerner:

    Yeah…we are not going to be invaded, as that would be the quickest way to get me and millions of other liberals to hold a gun in one hand and raise my arm in the air while yelling Wolveri…oops, I mean MAGA! as I rush to defeat the invaders.

    Invasion U.S.A. and Red Dawn are really entertaining films but the Russians/Chinese/Cubans are not going to be invading us anytime soon.

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