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2 radically different interpretations of Saudi’s ‘great purge’ and Lebanese PM Hariri’s ‘resignation’

Each scenario must be explored in order to better understand what is happening in Saudi, Lebanon and beyond.

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Yesterday was among the most strange of days in recent Saudi history. It started with the shock resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister and Saudi citizen Saad Hariri shortly after he met with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and ended with the announcement that 11 princes, 4 serving ministers and around 30 ministers in total have been arrested on corruption charges, ostensibly as part of Muhammad Bin Salman’s (MBS) sweeping “reforms” to the Wahhabi Kingdom.

In between these events, Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a missile which nearly hit King Khalid International Airport in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, before being intercepted by a Saudi missile. Later, Saudi media stated that the Houthi rocket was an attempt on Hariri’s life, a claim which seems quite outlandish given the crude nature of Houthi weapons.

At the end of the day, it appeared that Saudi is politically less stable than Lebanon, something that has hardly ever been the case in modern history, let alone at a time when one would assume it is Lebanon that is about to be plunged into new chaos, not the formerly predictable Wahhabi regime.

In putting the pieces of this puzzle together, it is important to explore both obvious, subtle and counter-intuitive hypotheses for what all of this means. Here are three interpretations:

1. The last gasp of Saudi, Israeli, US ‘regime change’ this time aimed at weakening Hezbollah 

Saad Hariri was thought of as a kind of Saudi puppet in Beirut by his detractors and to be sure, he has many detractors in Lebanon. Hariri represented a pro-US, ‘soft’ on Israel, deeply anti-Syrian, anti-Iranian, pro-Saudi Lebanese politician that was opposed by the Free Patriotic Movement of Christian President Michel Aoun, the Shi’a Amal Movement, as well as the primarily Shi’a but increasingly popular Hezbollah. To be sure, Hariri’s Future Movement does have its large share of support among mainly Sunnis favouring a more pro-Gulfi/neo-liberal style of politics. Such is the nature of sectarian Lebanese politics.

Hariri’s resignation speech, during which many have remarked that he appeared to be hurried and uncomfortable, has already gained infamy for being little more than an anti-Iran and anti-Hezbollah tirade, the kind of which is typically given by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

The orthodox interpretation of the speech is something I described yesterday in the following way:

“The speech came shortly after Hariri met with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and only hours after the CIA published suspicious documents which perversely try to link Iran with al-Qaeda.

The fact of the matter is, as everyone except the CIA seems to know, that al-Qaeda is a declared enemy of Iran and Iran is a declared enemy of al-Qaeda, both in terms of geo-strategic interests as well as ideology.

In 1998, Iran almost went to war with Afghanistan to avenge the slaughter of Iranian diplomats by al-Qaeda who at the time were headquartered in Taliban controlled Afghanistan.

More recently, Iran has fought with Iraqi and Syrian troops in their war against al-Qaeda and ISIS, an organisation which was founded by members of a group called al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Moreover, Iranians are targeted by al-Qaeda terrorists across the world in a ruthless fashion.

The absurdity of the CIA’s claim that Iran and al-Qaeda had attempted to work together is not only insulting to those with a sense of reality, but it obscures the fact that in Syria and Libya before that, the US has allied itself with al-Qaeda forces. The US in fact founded al-Qaeda in the 1980s when it was known as the Islamic Unity of Afghanistan Mujahideen. Members of the group even met with Ronald Reagan in the White House.

In spite of supporting al-Qaeda in Syria and Libya and helping to form what became al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the US is now trotting out al-Qaeda as a kind of strange boogieman in order to whip up tensions against Iran, a country which like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and Gaddafi’s Libya, was totally opposed to the group.

The supreme disinformation campaign by Mike Pompeo’s CIA has now been effectively regurgitated by the aloof and increasingly unpopular Saad Hariri.

Hariri’s resignation will be welcomed by his many opponents, including perhaps, Lebanon’s Christian President Michel Aoun, who has been working to restore Lebanon’s ties with Syria after a personally touch-and-go relationship with Damascus over the decades.

However, the style of Hariri’s resignation is deeply irresponsible as his speech contained inflammatory sectarian rhetoric which could potentially set off a Sunni extremist uprising in a country which was ripped apart by a 15 year long civil war.

There remains a further danger that Hariri’s anti-Hezbollah and anti-Iran tirade was calculated in order to provoke a wider conflict in and around Lebanon involving Hezbollah, Israel and Sunni terrorist groups like al-Qaeda.

It is also clear that as the war against Takfiri terrorism in western Iraq and eastern Syria is being won by Syria and Iraq, those who continue to seek the destabilisation of Syria and the wider Levant, are now doing so by trying to sow discord in western Syria.

This has manifested itself first of all, in the al-Qaeda offensive on the Golan Heights, assisted by Israeli artillery attacks and secondly, with the resignation of Hariri in Lebanon, which is a move designed to draw Syria’s Hezbollah ally into a new sectarian conflict. These two events crucially happened within 24 hours of one another.

I’m inclined to believe that the attempt to plunge Lebanon into a new civil war will ultimately fail, it is also important remember that this is in many ways the last stand for the ‘regime change’ policy still favoured by Saudi, Israel and the US. The west in particular has been interfering with Lebanon’s internal situation dating from a time when they were still hesitant to fully provoke Syria, Iraq and Egypt.

If they fail in Lebanon, that means that there are no other stops left on the regime change train–certainly no easy ones seeing as the US, Israel and Saudi are still (thankfully) too afraid of attacking Iran directly.
It seems clear enough that Hezbollah will not take the bait and be provoked into taking measures that could lead to instability. Hezbollah, after all, does not need to respond to such provocations, because in Syria and elsewhere, Hezbollah are winning and Hezbollah continues to gain popularity in Lebanon, even among non-Shi’a Muslims. Furthermore, Hezbollah’s leadership are far more intelligent than many in Saudi wish that they were.

So while Hezbollah and other parties in Lebanon including the Amal Movement and President Michel Aoun’s FPM will not feed the chaos as Saudi and Israel are clearly hoping, what is clear is that Saudi and its de-facto allies are making a final push. Is it desperate?…yes. But desperation can lead to renewed hyper-aggression as much as to a sense of despair. Vigilance will be the key for allparties in Lebanon looking to avoid the worst: a re-commencing of civil war.

The Saudi propaganda machine is already in overdrive, with Saudi and pro-Saudi media suggesting that the apparent Houthi missile which was intercepted over Riyadh was somehow a Hezbollah attempt to make Saad Hariri’s ‘assassination fears’ become a reality.  Such a claim amounts to the most childish attempt at a pseudo-false flag in history.

While Hariri was likely made a mafioso style offer he could not refuse by an ever more assertive Muhammad Bin Salman, one cannot discount the madness of famously unethical states in a moment of desperation.

Hariri has clearly been thrown under the bus, along with 11 Saudi princes and 30 ministers who are now under arrest for “corruption” charges, almost certainly on the orders of MBS. When it comes to further provocations in Lebanon, will Israel and al-Qaeda begin to do militarily/terroristically what Saudi has begun doing politically?

There is no absolute answer to such a question, but anything less than total vigilance, preparedness and military readiness from the Lebanese resistance would be worse than a crime, it would be a blunder.

Many in Lebanon will be happy to see Hariri go, but many will also be worried about how he may have opened the door to pro-Saudi sectarianism as a result of the timing and place of his abrupt withdrawal from office”.

Implicit in this interpretation is an attempt by the Saudi-Israel axis (which is very much a real thing in all but name) to distract Hezbollah from its anti-terrorist alliance with Syria by fomenting political chaos in Lebanon. That being said, all eyes will be on  Hezbollah leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah who will deliver a speech later today. My feeling is that he will not take the bait that Saudi and Israel have apparently set and will remain calm, knowing that Hezbollah needn’t panic from a position of strength.

2. A Saudi surrender disguised as a provocation 

If viewed in isolation, the Hariri resignation appears like a clear Saudi organised attempt to foment discord in Lebanon by provoking Hezbollah, with the aim of weakening the resistance in Syria and opening up Lebanon to the kind of civil crisis which in the past has led to aggressive Israeli invasions and general strife.

However, when the events of yesterday are taken in totality, a different theory springs to mind, one which ought to be taken seriously, even if counter-intuitive at first glance.

After MBS’s ‘great purge’ of highly important figures in the Saudi ‘deep state’, including the billionaire and darling of western mainstream media, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, it is fair to say that Muhammad Bin Salman has taken the first strike against any would-be challengers or political opponents as he continues to consolidate his power, even before formally taking the throne from the elderly King Salman.

This ‘great purge’ which comes after the house arrest of former Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, is a clear indication that MBS looks to turn Saudi into ‘his’ country just as Stalin turned the USSR into ‘his’ when he purged virtually all the remaining elements of the original Bolshevik leadership during the 1930s.

It is this parallel that is also important in another way. Many commentators, including contemporary Russian opposition leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has remarked that Stalin’s purges, including of the army, left the Soviet Union less than adequately prepared to stop the fascist invasion on 22 June 1941. It should be noted at this point, that MBS’ purge includes many security officials.

MBS’ purges were clearly planned a long time in advance, even though the creation of an anti-corruption committee technically took place only hours before it issued the first degrees placing powerful Saudis under arrest. The fact that MBS sought to conduct many major purges at the same time, is indicative of a man who does not intend to give his opponents any time to regroup against him. Again, this is somewhat reminiscent of Stalin who held large scale trials which prosecuted many opponents (for Stalin, traitors) at one time.

This is significant because it is generally unwise to meddle in the affairs of countries abroad, when conducting such a deep and wide purge at home. This very phenomenon has been often used to explain why Donald Trump’s foreign policy is so chaotic. Trump’s domestic distractions have disallowed the formation of a coherent foreign policy.

Of course, if MBS’ opponents had differing views on how to handle Hariri, the purge may have been an insurance policy. The more likely scenario though is that many of the men purged would not have been able to impact the Hariri decision, not least because it would mean publicly going against the narrative that Hariri resigned because he feared an assassination attempt from Iran and Hezbollah rather than because the Saudi regime told him to go. Few in the wider Arab world believe this narrative, but in Saudi, one ‘has to’ acknowledge it as true for obvious reasons.

This therefore, forces one to consider why the Saudi regime would involve itself in the Hariri affair on the same day as the ‘great purge’?

The answer lies in exploring whether the Hariri ‘purge’ was more for domestic consumption than for international consumption. As a powerful Saudi citizen, one could think of Hariri’s apparently forced resignation as the first Saudi purge of the day, on a day that saw many powerful Saudi citizens dethroned from powerful places in society.

The message to all powerful Saudis, including to Hariri, is that no one is too big to fall at the hands of MBS, even a Saudi citizen who is the Prime Minister in a foreign democracy. The fact that both Hariri and MBS are young men in a leadership role, would indicate that for the famously politically trigger happy MBS, it was also an ego boost.

What about the geo-political repercussions? 

On the surface, the move will clearly enrage Iran, Hezbollah and to a degree anger Syria while emboldening Israel and extremist Sunni movements in the Arab world including al-Qaeda.

Practically though, Israel is all too aware that Hezbollah is far more powerful today than when it expelled Israel from southern Lebanon in 2006 and al-Qaeda, although making a final push in the Golan Heights with Israeli assistance, is nevertheless a terrorist group on its last legs in the Levant and Iraq.

As for Iran, while Saudi continues to spew predictably anti-Iranian rhetoric, Saudi’s pivot towards Russia and China necessarily prohibits further Saudi aggression against Iran, except for that which is limited to rhetorical statements that will irk Iran and give Russia a headache, but do little more.

Saudi Crown Price Mohammad bin Salman calls for “moderate Islam” in the Wahhabi Kingdom

MBS sees China and Russia as crucial partners that will help realise his Vision 2030 project to diversify the Saudi economy. This means that Saudi will have to increasingly play by both Russia and China’s rules, which mean abandoning proxy imperial ambitions, abandoning military threats against nearby states and possibly move towards selling energy in the Petroyuan.

Therefore, a radically different explanation for yesterday’s events in Saudi begin to emerge. Perhaps the Hariri ‘resignation’ and the great purge are meant less to encourage Israel and provoke Iran, Syria and Hezbollah than they are events used to send subtle messages to Russia and China, possibly with communiques made behind the scenes to clarify the meaning.

Such a message is summarised as follows: Saudi has surrendered in its attempts to politically influence the Levant and will allow the chips to fall where they may. The Saudi puppet is out of Lebanon and Saudi won’t do anything meaningful to oppose Hezbollah in the post-Hariri era in Lebanon. Instead, Saudi will focus on domestic political changes to pave the way for a more ‘eastern friendly’ MBS regime in Riyadh.

Here, the implied advantage to Russia is that President Michel Aoun will be allowed to form a new government in Beirut that will be more amenable to Russian and consequently Chinese interests in the region, thus giving the eastern superpowers an unbroken chain of partners in the region stretching from Pakistan to Iran, into Iraq and Syria and finishing on the Mediterranean with Lebanon.

In return, it is implied that Russia will continue to resist any US attempts to slow down MBS’ ascent to power.

To be absolutely clear, I do not believe for a moment that this is a ‘Russian plan’. Instead, Saudi is doing something whose long term outcome is naturally in Russia’s interest and Russia, a country which does not even intervene in the affairs of its enemies, will surely not intervene in the affairs of a Saudi state which is pivoting (however awkwardly) towards Russia and her partners.

CONCLUSION: 

I am by no means fully convinced that the second scenario is what is in fact developing, but with so much mystery as to what actually is happening it would be irresponsible not to explore such a scenario.

In all of this, it is implied that Hariri had little choice in the matter. He was merely given an offer he could not refuse by MBS and he took it. Perhaps this is why Hariri is out of power but not under arrest. Were he to resist Saudi attempts to ‘guide’ his future, he may have found that fortune would have not smiled on him in the way that it apparently has done.

In the end, scenarios one and two may both come into play, just not at the same time. Scenario one is bound to fail in its apparent objectives and thus, Saudi could then pivot to scenario two. This is in my view, the most likely explanation for what is going on. Saudi is engaging in a last ditch provocative move towards Lebanon, Syria and Iran, but this is ultimately a small stick which obscures a larger carrot intended not for Levantines or Iranians, but for Russian and Chinese stomachs.

In each case, the United States is the biggest loser.

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FBI recommended Michael Flynn not have lawyer present during interview, did not warn of false statement consequences

Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18.

Washington Examiner

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Via The Washington Examiner…


Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who arranged the bureau’s interview with then-national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017 — the interview that ultimately led to Flynn’s guilty plea on one count of making false statements — suggested Flynn not have a lawyer present at the session, according to newly-filed court documents. In addition, FBI officials, along with the two agents who interviewed Flynn, decided specifically not to warn him that there would be penalties for making false statements because the agents wanted to ensure that Flynn was “relaxed” during the session.

The new information, drawn from McCabe’s account of events plus the FBI agents’ writeup of the interview — the so-called 302 report — is contained in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday by Flynn’s defense team.

Citing McCabe’s account, the sentencing memo says that shortly after noon on Jan. 24 — the fourth day of the new Trump administration — McCabe called Flynn on a secure phone in Flynn’s West Wing office. The two men discussed business briefly and then McCabe said that he “felt that we needed to have two of our agents sit down” with Flynn to discuss Flynn’s talks with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

McCabe, by his own account, urged Flynn to talk to the agents alone, without a lawyer present. “I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [Flynn] and the agents only,” McCabe wrote. “I further stated that if LTG Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House counsel for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. [Flynn] stated that this would not be necessary and agreed to meet with the agents without any additional participants.”

Within two hours, the agents were in Flynn’s office. According to the 302 report quoted in the Flynn sentencing document, the agents said Flynn was “relaxed and jocular” and offered the agents “a little tour” of his part of the White House.

“The agents did not provide Gen. Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 before, during, or after the interview,” the Flynn memo says. According to the 302, before the interview, McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport.”

The agents had, of course, seen transcripts of Flynn’s wiretapped conversations with Russian then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak. “Before the interview, FBI officials had also decided that if ‘Flynn said he did not remember something they knew he said, they would use the exact words Flynn used … to try to refresh his recollection. If Flynn still would not confirm what he said … they would not confront him or talk him through it,'” the Flynn memo says, citing the FBI 302.

“One of the agents reported that Gen. Flynn was ‘unguarded’ during the interview and ‘clearly saw the FBI agents as allies,'” the Flynn memo says, again citing the 302.

Later in the memo, Flynn’s lawyers argue that the FBI treated Flynn differently from two other Trump-Russia figures who have pleaded guilty to and been sentenced for making false statements. One of them, Alexander Van der Zwaan, “was represented by counsel during the interview; he was interviewed at a time when there was a publicly disclosed, full-bore investigation regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election; and he was given a warning that it is a federal crime to lie during the interview,” according to the memo. The other, George Papadopoulos, “was specifically notified of the seriousness of the investigation…was warned that lying to investigators was a ‘federal offense’…had time to reflect on his answers…and met with the FBI the following month for a further set of interviews, accompanied by his counsel, and did not correct his false statements.”

The message of the sentencing memo is clear: Flynn, his lawyers suggest, was surprised, rushed, not warned of the context or seriousness of the questioning, and discouraged from having a lawyer present.

That is all the sentencing document contains about the interview itself. In a footnote, Flynn’s lawyers noted that the government did not object to the quotations from the FBI 302 report.

In one striking detail, footnotes in the Flynn memo say the 302 report cited was dated Aug. 22, 2017 — nearly seven months after the Flynn interview. It is not clear why the report would be written so long after the interview itself.

The brief excerpts from the 302 used in the Flynn defense memo will likely spur more requests from Congress to see the original FBI documents. Both House and Senate investigating committees have demanded that the Justice Department allow them to see the Flynn 302, but have so far been refused.

In the memo, Flynn’s lawyers say that he made a “serious error in judgment” in the interview. Citing Flynn’s distinguished 30-plus year record of service in the U.S. Army, they ask the judge to go along with special counsel Robert Mueller’s recommendation that Flynn be spared any time in prison.

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Macron offers crumbs to protestors in bid to save his globalist agenda (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 36.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at French President Macron’s pathetic display of leadership as he offers protestors little in the way of concessions while at the same time promising to crack down hard on any and all citizens who resort to violence.

Meanwhile France’s economy is set for a deep recession as French output and production grinds to a halt.

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Via Zerohedge


As if Brussels didn’t have its hands full already with Italy and the UK, the European Union will soon be forced to rationalize why one of its favorite core members is allowed to pursue populist measures to blow out its budget deficit to ease domestic unrest while another is threatened with fines potentially amounting to billions of euros.

When blaming Russia failed to quell the widespread anger elicited by his policies, French President Emmanuel Macron tried to appease the increasingly violent “yellow vests” protesters who have sacked his capital city by offering massive tax cuts that could blow the French budget out beyond the 3% budget threshold outlined in the bloc’s fiscal rules.

Given the concessions recently offered by Italy’s populists, Macron’s couldn’t have picked a worse time to challenge the bloc’s fiscal conventions. As Bloomberg pointed out, these rules will almost certainly set the Continent’s second largest economy on a collision course with Brussels. To be clear, Macron’s offered cuts come with a price tag of about €11 billion according to Les Echos, and will leave the country with a budget gap of 3.5% of GDP in 2019, with one government official said the deficit may be higher than 3.6%.

By comparison, Italy’s initial projections put its deficit target at 2.4%, a number which Europe has repeatedly refused to consider.

Macron’s promises of fiscal stimulus – which come on top of his government’s decision to delay the planned gas-tax hikes that helped inspire the protests – were part of a broader ‘mea culpa’ offered by Macron in a speech Monday night, where he also planned to hike France’s minimum wage.

Of course, when Brussels inevitably objects, perhaps Macron could just show them this video of French police tossing a wheelchair-bound protester to the ground.

Already, the Italians are complaining.  Speaking on Tuesday, Italian cabinet undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti said Italy hasn’t breached the EU deficit limit. “I repeat that from the Italian government there is a reasonable approach, if there is one also from the EU a solution will be found.”

“France has several times breached the 3% deficit. Italy hasn’t done it. They are different situations. There are many indicators to assess.”

Still, as one Guardian columnist pointed out in an op-ed published Tuesday morning, the fact that the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) organizers managed to pressure Macron to cave and grant concessions after just 4 weeks of protests will only embolden them to push for even more radical demands: The collapse of the government of the supremely unpopular Macron.

Then again, with Brussels now facing certain accusations of hypocrisy, the fact that Macron was pressured into the exact same populist measures for which Italy has been slammed, the French fiasco raises the odds that Rome can pass any deficit measure it wants with the EU now forced to quietly look away even as it jawbones all the way from the bank (i.e., the German taxpayers).

“Macron’s spending will encourage Salvini and Di Maio,” said Giovanni Orsina, head of the School of Government at Rome’s Luiss-Guido Carli University. “Macron was supposed to be the spearhead of pro-European forces, if he himself is forced to challenge EU rules, Salvini and Di Maio will jump on that to push their contention that those rules are wrong.”

While we look forward to how Brussels will square this circle, markets are less excited.

Exhausted from lurching from one extreme to another following conflicting headlines, traders are already asking if “France is the new Italy.” The reason: the French OAT curve has bear steepened this morning with 10Y yields rising as much as ~6bp, with the Bund/OAT spread reaching the widest since May 2017 and the French presidential election. Though well below the peaks of last year, further widening would push the gap into levels reserved for heightened political risk.

As Bloomberg macro analyst Michael Read notes this morning, it’s hard to see a specific near-term trigger blowing out the Bund/OAT spread but the trend looks likely to slowly drift higher.

While Macron has to fight on both domestic and European fronts, he’ll need to keep peace at home to stay on top. Remember that we saw the 10Y spread widen to ~80bps around the May ’17 elections as concerns of a move toward the political fringe played out in the markets, and the French President’s popularity ratings already look far from rosy.

And just like that France may have solved the Italian crisis.

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Watch: Democrat Chuck Schumer shows his East Coast elitism on live TV

Amazing moment in which the President exhibits “transparency in government” and shows the world who the Democrat leaders really are.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected to the Presidency was because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – against Democrat policy decisions and “stupid government” in general.

One of the reasons President Donald Trump is reviled is because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – in the American political scene.

In other words, there are two reactions to the same characteristic. On Tuesday, the President did something that probably cheered and delighted a great many Americans who witnessed this.

The Democrats have been unanimous in taking any chance to roast the President, or to call for his impeachment, or to incite violence against him. But Tuesday was President Trump’s turn. He invited the two Democrat leaders, presumptive incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and then, he turned the cameras on:

As Tucker Carlson notes, the body language from Schumer was fury. The old (something)-eating grin covered up humiliation, embarrassment and probably no small amount of fear, as this whole incident was filmed and broadcast openly and transparently to the American public. Nancy Pelosi was similarly agitated, and she expressed it later after this humiliation on camera, saying, “It’s like a manhood thing for him… As if manhood could ever be associated with him.”

She didn’t stop there. According to a report from the New York Daily News, the Queen Bee took the rhetoric a step below even her sense of dignity:

Pelosi stressed she made clear to Trump there isn’t enough support in Congress for a wall and speculated the President is refusing to back down because he’s scared to run away with his tail between his legs.

“I was trying to be the mom. I can’t explain it to you. It was so wild,” Pelosi said of the Oval Office meet, which was also attended by Vice President Pence and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “It goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

This represented the first salvo in a major spin-job for the ultra-liberal San Francisco Democrat. The rhetoric spun by Mrs. Pelosi and Chuck Schumer was desperate as they tried to deflect their humiliation and place it back on the President:

With reporters still present, Trump boasted during the Oval meeting he would be “proud” to shutdown the government if Congress doesn’t earmark cash for his wall before a Dec. 21 spending deadline.

Pelosi told Democrats that Trump’s boisterousness will be beneficial for them.

“The fact is we did get him to say, to fully own that the shutdown was his,” Pelosi said. “That was an accomplishment.”

The press tried to characterize this as a “Trump Tantrum”, saying things like this lede:

While “discussing” a budgetary agreement for the government, President Donald Trump crossed his arms and declared: “we will shut down the government if there is no wall.”

While the Democrats and the mainstream media in the US are sure to largely buy these interpretations of the event, the fact that this matter was televised live shows that the matter was entirely different, and this will be discomfiting to all but those Democrats and Trump-dislikers that will not look at reality.

There appears to be a twofold accomplishment for the President in this confrontation:

  1. The President revealed to his support base the real nature of the conversation with the Democrat leadership, because anyone watching this broadcast (and later, video clip) saw it unedited with their own eyes. They witnessed the pettiness of both Democrats and they witnessed a President completely comfortable and confident about the situation.
  2. President Trump probably made many of his supporters cheer with the commitment to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his border wall funding. This cheering is for both the strength shown about getting the wall finished and the promise to shut the government down, and further, Mr. Trump’s assertion that he would be “proud” to shut the government down, taking complete ownership willingly, reflects a sentiment that many of his supporters share.

The usual pattern is for the media, Democrats and even some Republicans to create a “scare” narrative about government shutdowns, about how doing this is a sure-fire path to chaos and suffering for the United States.

But the educated understanding of how shutdowns work reveals something completely different. Vital services never close. However, National Parks can close partly or completely, and some non-essential government agencies are shuttered. While this is an inconvenience for the employees furloughed during the shutdown, they eventually are re-compensated for the time lost, and are likely to receive help during the shutdown period if they need it. The impact on the nation is minimal, aside from the fact that the government stops spending money at the same frenetic pace as usual.

President Trump’s expression of willingness to do this action and his singling out of the Dem leadership gives the Democrats a real problem. Now the entire country sees their nature. As President Trump is a populist, this visceral display of Democrat opposition and pettiness will make at least some impact on the population, even that group of people who are not Trump fans.

The media reaction and that of the Democrats here show, amazingly, that after three years-plus of Donald Trump being a thorn in their side, they still do not understand how he works, and they also cannot match it against their expected “norms” of establishment behavior.

This may be a brilliant masterstroke, and it also may be followed up by more. The President relishes head-to-head conflict. The reactions of these congress members showed who they really are.

Let the games begin.

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