Clearing a path for Trump

The Post on Trump’s fascist overture:

President Trump began mulling a visit to St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday morning, after spending the night devouring cable news coverage of protests across the country, including in front of the White House.

The historic church had been damaged by fire, and Trump was eager to show that the nation’s capital — and especially his own downtown swath of it — was under control.

Not, be it noted, that the nation’s president gave a rat’s ass about the casual murder of a black suspect by a white cop, but that the nation’s president’s neighborhood was under control. How to demonstrate that? Well, as luck would have it, there were protesters just outside, in Lafayette Park – which is indeed right across the street from the north side of the White House. How handy.

And so — shortly before the president addressed the nation from the Rose Garden at 6:43 p.m. Monday and roughly a half-hour before the District’s 7 p.m. curfew went into effect — authorities fired flash-bang shells, gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, clearing a path for Trump to visit the church immediately after his remarks.

In other words “authorities” perpetrated a violent attack on citizens in a public park.

The split screen as Trump began speaking was dark and foreboding — an angry leader proclaiming himself “an ally of all peaceful protesters” alongside smoke-filled mayhem and pandemonium as protesters raced for safety.

An angry, dangerous, uncontrollable, authoritarian, violence-loving dictator. He’s not any kind of leader, he’s a dictator.

When Trump had returned safely to the White House less than an hour later, the verdict seemed clear: The president had staged an elaborate photo op, using a Bible awkwardly held aloft as a prop and a historic church that has long welcomed presidents and their families as a backdrop.

In the process, protesters had been tear gassed and attacked, and Trump had taken a raging conflagration and doused it with accelerant.

He was in a tantrum about news coverage of his bunker night, and about news coverage of his phone call to the Floyd family which he of course thought had been wonderful but no one else did, and about new coverage of protests near his bunker.

Jason Miller, a former senior adviser on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, defended the president’s decision. He said Trump was elected in part on law-and-order themes, which he needs to continue to hammer, while simultaneously talking to black supporters about some of his initiatives, such as criminal justice reform.

“You’re going to have to go and knock some of the bad guys around a little bit,” Miller said. “Once they get tear gassed or pepper sprayed, they don’t want it to happen again.”

So people peacefully protesting in a park are “the bad guys” and Trump needs to knock them around with tear gas or pepper spray.

He added that Trump had been reminded by allies that he was elected as a “get-things-done president.”

“He’s not the hand-holder or consoler in chief,” Miller said. “He was elected to take bold dramatic action and that’s what he did.”

And “getting things done” means enacting violence on people who object to police violence against racial minorities. “Bold dramatic action” means violently ejecting citizens from a public park for no good reason and with no warning. What “bold dramatic action” will we be seeing next? Massacres? Mass lynchings? Immolations?

The action began less than an hour before the District’s curfew, and in the moments before Trump was set to speak. Just after 6 p.m., hundreds of protesters were gathered on H Street NW, facing Lafayette Square. Though members of the National Guard — wielding shields that said “Military Police” — were lined up behind barricades, along with Secret Service and other law enforcement officers, the protesters remained peaceful. Several played music, and one painted on an easel.

But shortly thereafter, Attorney General William P. Barr visited the scene, and, about 6:30 p.m., the National Guard moved just yards from the protesters, prompting some screams. Some protesters threw water bottles, but many simply stood with their arms raised.

Then, the chaos began.

That is, then the unprovoked attack began.

Members of the National Guard knelt briefly to put on gas masks, before suddenly charging eastward down H street, pushing protesters down toward 17th Street. Authorities shoved protesters down with their shields, fired rubber bullets directly at them, released tear gas and set off flash-bang shells in the middle of the crowd.

Protesters began running, many still with their hands up, shouting, “Don’t shoot.” Others were vomiting, coughing and crying.

As Trump began to speak, some protesters took a knee several blocks from the White House, again yelling, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” But they were never able to stay kneeling for more than a couple of minutes, because authorities kept pushing them forward, as a thick, yellow cloud of smoke hung over the crowd.

Trump was talking while this was going on. He threatened protesters and then said with his usual moronic coyness “And now I’m going to pay my respects to a very, very special place. Thank you very much.” What, the toilet? No, he meant The Church. What’s so very very special about that? What does very very special even mean? Besides that Trump has no words?

Then he and Princess Ivanka and a small crowd of white men loped off to the very very special place.

Trump seemed to take in the scene and paused in front of St. John’s, turning to the cameras and holding up a black Bible in his right hand.

For what purpose? Is he auditioning for a biopic about Fred Phelps?

Asked if it was a family Bible, he said, simply, “It’s a Bible.”

And why is he brandishing it at us? To announce our debut as that new thing, a theocratic oligarchy?

Soon after the church event, the president’s top law enforcement and military officials, including the secretary of defense, attorney general and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, walked across parts of downtown Washington in an unusual show of force.

That is, in an unusual threat of military dictatorship aided by the attorney general. Yeah, that is “unusual.”

Some local officials were livid. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser upbraided Trump on Twitter: “I imposed a curfew at 7pm. A full 25 minutes before the curfew & w/o provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protesters in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult. Shameful! DC residents — Go home. Be safe.”

The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said she learned of the president’s visit by watching it on the news.

“I am outraged,” she said, with pauses emphasizing her anger as her voice slightly trembled. “I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call that they would be clearing with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop, holding a Bible, one that declares that God is love and when everything he has said and done is to inflame violence.”

Oh who cares what she thinks – it’s Trump’s church, not hers, because everything is Trump’s, because he’s the god-king-emperor-bishop-general.

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