Prediction: No Major Violence in DC

Why? Basic insurgency dynamics. The insurgent force has inferior strength, therefore must rely upon surprise and striking soft targets. DC is right now the precise opposite of that.

Violent attacks are more likely at other targets that are not being so heavily defended, or even at targets that are not being much defended at all. It is simply not possible to defend every target of actual or symbolic value.

For example, virtually every community, even many very small ones, has a post office. Any community of appreciable size has multiple post offices. Such facilities are symbolic of the Federal government because the Postal Service is run by the Federal government. There is no way that every post office in the country can be secured.

And that is just one class of symbolic targets. There are Forest Service offices, BLM offices, National Wildlife Refuges, National Parks (and Monuments), FEMA facilities, Federal office buildings, etc. scattered all over the map. (Military facilities, too, but those are not soft targets and thus unlikely to be attacked.)

The only possible exception to the unlikelihood of an attack in DC, one that cannot be ruled out, is an inside job of some sort, one involving disloyal Federal forces. Measures are being taken against such possibilities, but they might not be successful. I will still go out on a limb and say such a thing is not likely.

Somewhere, somehow, something probably will be attacked. But a direct attack on the inauguration in DC is unlikely. If one happens, it will prove to have been a suicide mission for the attackers.

Trump May Really Get Punished

Note I said may. Both political parties are in a state of moral compromise. The Republicans have degenerated into fascism. The Democrats are possessed of an institutionalized Stockholm syndrome, and have long been too timid to seriously confront the Republicans.

This, however, is different. It’s basic realpolitik. If a ruling order cannot defend itself against existential threats, thereby ensuring its perpetuation into the future, that ruling order is not long for this world. If Trump’s putsch is not severely punished, it becomes yet another tool in the toolbox for the Republicans to use, and it will be used again.

It is for this reason that Biden has since the coup attempt backed away from his continual emphasis on unity, making tweets like this:

Our president is not above the law.

Justice serves the people — it doesn’t protect the powerful.

The rest of the party is generally doing likewise. They did drag their feet a bit, but they chose to impeach. All House Democrats, even the most wavering-prone centrists, supported the impeachment. This is in itself quite likely the opening shot in what will be a string of increasingly stinging rebukes, as it gives Trump the unique besmirching of being the only president to be impeached twice.

Even a small gaggle of Republicans voted to impeach. By the time the vote to convict works its way into the Senate agenda, the fraction of Republicans choosing to back away from Trumpism may well be larger. It seems there is political blowback brewing: a majority of Senator Hawley’s constituents now think he should resign.

Another good thing is that, if there is any Attorney General capable of breaking with the precedent of presidential impunity, Merrick Garland is it. He is a Justice Department institutionalist, and he is not a progressive. The latter point is a feature, not a bug. It is politically easier for a moderate to go after Trump than it is for a progressive, because the former is naturally more insulated from charges of political motive.

It took the coup attempt to wake the Democrats (and many in the general public) up and underscore that, yes, Trumpism really is a form of fascism, and must be dealt with accordingly. But wake them up it apparently has.

The Current Situation

The Danger

As I have said before, I do not think most people yet realize the full gravity of what happened at the Capitol. I include myself in that statement; when I first wrote it, I was mainly focusing on what had happened at the Capitol itself, not what it showed about the overall political context.

What it shows about the latter is that we have a powerful leader, a charismatic right-wing authoritarian the likes of a Hitler or a Mussolini, whom millions are in absolute thrall to. The only saving grace is that unlike Hitler or Mussolini, Trump has so many personality defects that his emotions interfere with his ability to plan and strategize; Trump is perpetually stumbling over his own dick.

However, Trump is still dangerous enough to have inspired his followers to orchestrate and execute an attack on the United States Capitol, one that came closer than many realize to causing an extremely serious constitutional crisis.

It is in this light that the recent memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff comes. As Beau of the Fifth Column points out, there is actually an order wrapped inside that memo:

On January 20, 2020, in accordance with the Constitution, confirmed by the states and the courts, and certified by Congress, President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and will become our 46th Commander in Chief.

And make no mistake, that is an order from the JCS. It is the entire military’s duty to cooperate in carrying it out, and if anyone goes against it, they will find themselves court-martialed. There are also news reports of the military conducting internal investigations to identify and deal with disloyal or potentially disloyal individuals. Believe them.

It does not matter if Trump opposes the order. The order is rooted in the basic Constitutional mission of the US military. As such, any countermanding order from Trump is illegal and will be disobeyed by the Joint Chiefs. Remember, military law requires all those enlisted to obey not all orders but all legal orders.

The dangerous thing is how many troops might go against the Joint Chiefs’ legal orders and instead choose to obey any illegal orders from Trump. That is a real risk, and may well cause a civil war between different military factions to break out. At this time, I tend to think any such war will be extremely limited in nature: some scattered mutinies that are quickly suppressed, not a long and bloody conflagration that engulfs the entire nation. If so, it’s questionable to even label the resulting struggle a war.

In fact it is the danger of this, and the related danger of civilian militants also finding inspiration in Trump’s words, that is behind the recent deplatformings of Trump and other influential fascist voices. If you think the national security establishment hasn’t been quitely twisting the arms of Big Tech leaders behind the scenes, think again.

Empire is Dead

One of the things that came to my notice in 2016 was the national security orientation of the anti-Trump democratic right. Evan McMullen, a career CIA officer, was motivated to launch a quixotic independent campaign for president, whose goal was to split the right-wing vote and thereby deny Trump the presidency. Tom Nichols was an early anti-Trump voice on the Right, whose clarity and insight caught my attention (without using the f-word itself, he clearly perceived the essentially fascist nature of Trumpism). Bill Kristol, the dean of national security neoconservatives, was also an early and vocal anti-Trumper. This is but a few examples.

The ironic thing is that Trump is in many ways the logical outcome of neoconservatism. The latter had been turned into a rudderless ideology by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Public support for empire was wavering, and the neoconservatives knew it. Enter the Project for a New American Century and its wish for a new Pearl Harbor moment that got the USA embroiled in a war in Iraq that was founded on a pack of lies.

Trump is very much blowback for that. The obvious failure of the Iraq War alienated many in the GOP’s base from the party’s traditional foreign policy stances, and the lack of consequences for the conspirators that enmeshed the country in it helped give Trump the courage to try breaking even more laws.

Not many people have written about it, but Trumpism has mortally wounded the American empire. First, the very fact a Trump could gain power in the USA illustrated beyond doubt the danger of a unipolar world order led by it. Then, Trump’s buffoonery and betrayal of allies underscored the unreliability of the USA as a partner. Finally, the recent failed coup attempt underscores just how weak and structurally rotten the Republic really is.

For the foreseeable future, we are going to be way too preoccupied with our own domestic security to be able to pay much attention to international security. The American empire is now dead, or soon will be.

The Factions

It has been said, regarding Presidential candidates, that Democrats fall in love while Republicans fall in line.

I experienced the former in 2008, when I would try to point out to my liberal friends that Obama was not going to be the progressive messiah they imagined him to be. It was all to no avail: they would not believe me. They had fallen in love. But Democrats are a famously fractious and disorganized party. Will Rogers once quipped “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” It didn’t take very long for liberals to get disappointed in Obama and for intra-party squabbling to break out.

By contrast, Republicans really do fall in line, at least they did up until Trump appeared on the scene. The pre-Trump Republican Party was actually very much a coalition between three main factions, who each had different motivating reasons for being a Republican:

  1. Neoconservatives were mostly concerned about national security. In fact, many of them had started out life on the political left, before realizing just what a totalitarian shithole the USSR was, and finding a life mission of defeating the Soviet empire. They liked the Republicans because of their hawkish foreign policy.
  2. The bourgeoisie were mostly concerned about their money and social power. They liked the Republicans because of their anti-union, low-tax, pro-free-trade, and anti-welfare policies.
  3. Paleoconservatives are social reactionaries. They like the GOP’s antipathy towards civil rights and LGBT rights. They dream of banning abortions and making Christian prayer compulsory in public schools. They wave Confederate battle flags around for a reason.

Each faction mostly cared about what it cared about, and was willing to be in a coalition that pursued goals other than its own, so long as those other goals were pursued on a mostly non-interference basis to their own goals. No faction really cared much about those other goals; they just put up with them.

If, for example, the Democrats became big on military spending and empire, the neocons could have happily supported them; they had no strong objections in principle to things like gay rights or racial equality. Likewise, if the opposition to the Democrats became a European-style liberal party (perhaps a watered-down version of the US Libertarian Party), that favored racial equality and gay rights but also wanted low taxes and was against the welfare state, the bourgeoisie could have just as happily supported it.

The social reactionaries are the interesting ones, because unlike the other two categories, they are economically diverse: many of them are working class, while both the national security intelligentsia and of course the bourgeoisie are drawn exclusively from the ranks of the affluent. Working-class social reactionaries in fact used to typically be Democrats, because they favored the Democrats’ economic policies, and only got driven away from that party in response to the Civil Rights Acts.

Many people call that crowd the Christian right (or, less generously and today more accurately, Christian fascists). Their Christianity has its roots in the Old South, in denominations like the Southern Baptists and in other religious traditions that grew out of an ideological need to find justification in Scripture for Negro slavery.

The social reactionaries are large in numbers primarily because of their economic diversity: it is hard to have large numbers if one’s base comes mostly from the relatively small upper strata of the economic hierarchy. They don’t care about Trump’s trade policies causing pain for the capitalist class, because they are not themselves members of the capitalist class, and many of them have in fact been hurt by the free-trade policies of the old GOP. It’s just that they liked the socially reactionary policies enough that they were willing to suffer somewhat economically to see them put into place.

This is why they absolutely love Trump. Trump tells them they can have it all: a socially reactionary state that clamps down on the capitalists and brings back their old jobs that the capitalist class free-traded away. And until he does that, they get to savor the sweet schadenfreude of owning the libs. And if that all doesn’t fly well enough with the rest of America to consistently win elections, well fuck it. Time for a putsch.

Of the other two parts of the old Republican coalition, the one that has the most issues with Trumpism is the neocons. They dislike the increasingly open bigotry of the social reactionaries, because this evil complicates the neocons’ goals. Most of the world is populated by nonwhites and/or non-Christians. Allying with a power that oppresses people who look or believe like you, when there is another world power called China without that spare baggage that is also courting your nation, is basically a non-starter. The neocons know this.

On top of that, racism corrodes the military itself. Harry Truman desegregated the military because he wanted to do something about racism and the realities of political power at the time constrained him from doing much of anything about it via legislation. So he used his power as Commander in Chief to say to the military: you are desegregating, and that’s an order. This gave the military about twenty years’ head start on the rest of society when it comes to promoting the principle of racial equality, a principle now firmly ingrained in military culture. Whites and nonwhites serve side by side, and many white servicemen serve under, and thus take orders from, nonwhite officers.

In fact, the need to strengthen empire was part of the motive for the Civil Rights Acts in the first place. LBJ was a hawk who got the USA deeply involved in Vietnam; he pushed civil rights in part to counter the outreach the USSR was making to the Third World, which was pointing out the hypocrisy of a racist apartheid superpower that made noises about freedom.

All of this means there is considerable antipathy between the neoconservatives and the Trumpers. Since neoconservatism is basically the state ideology of the national security establishment, this means there is considerable antipathy between the national security establishment and the Trumpers.

The Alliance

I recently pointed out that Trump is worse than Osama bin Laden. The national security establishment don’t go around openly saying it, in fact most of them probably don’t consciously even realize it yet, but they realize it on some level. They not only realize it, but they are now in the process of acting on it. Last week’s coup attempt really got their attention.

I am still trying to work through the full implications of what this all means, but the immediate takeaway, I think, is to keep in mind that we are now in an extremely serious struggle against an extremely dangerous domestic fascist movement. Like the past great struggle against fascism, World War II, this is a grave struggle and our victory is not certain. As such, we cannot afford to rule out the alliance with anyone against the fascists, even an alliance with forces that we have traditionally had antipathy with. (You think Churchill and Roosevelt loved Stalin? Think again.)

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be cautious when interacting with our new strange bedfellows, of course. It is common in struggles for alliances to shift and former allies to stab each other in the back. But, for the time being, and like it or not, history has landed both the Left and the national security establishment on the same side of the struggle against fascism.

Trump: Worse Than Bin Laden

That may sound like provocative hyperbole, but let’s step back and analyze things logically for a moment.

Osama bin Laden orchestrated attacks on September 11, 2001 that were responsible for the deaths of approximately 3,000 people.

According to Wikipedia, COVID-19 has killed 116.35 per 100,000 Americans. In Canada, the comparable figure is 46.56. This means that approximately 60% of our COVID-19 deaths are due to the criminal Trump regime’s mismanagement of the pandemic. The pandemic has killed about 380,000 Americans in total. 60% of 380,000 is 228,325 deaths.

Therefore, Trump has killed over 75 times more people than bin Laden did on 9/11. Why, every two days, Trump kills more than were killed on 9/11. Every two days!

Suppose I’m off a bit. Factors other than Trump might be involved; our health care system was fundamentally broken even before he gained office (though he opposed fixing it and so bears at least some responsibility for that). So, what is it, then? A 9/11 every week, instead of every two days? “Only” twenty times as many deaths in total as 9/11? Even if one makes some extremely favorable assumptions for Trump, he still comes away looking very, very bad.

Bin Laden’s beliefs were repressive, retrograde, and disgusting, to the point that it actually was fair to label them an Islamic form of fascism. However, they had virtually no traction in the USA, or anyplace else in the West for that matter. Sure, there were a few crazies who fell for it, but they were few in number and easily dealt with when they got out of line and hurt people.

Trump’s beliefs, by contrast, have attracted a huge crowd of fanatically devoted followers who are in the complete thrall of their führer, despite how objectively disastrous his term has been. Trump came frighteningly close to winning the most recent election. It would have only taken a shift of about 23,000 votes to have given Trump an electoral college victory and a second term!

Therefore, when comparing the Islamic fascist and the American fascist, there is simply no comparison: the American fascist is far worse, hands down. It isn’t even remotely close.

Crush Fascism!

It is time to put away the niceties and discuss in plain terms what must be done (and what is hopefully starting to be done).

We must win and the fascists must lose. It is as simple as that. Everything  that follows flows from this simple, elementary fact.

Fascists want a world where fascism is the only principle allowed. All debate, all activity, save for the glorification of the fascist order, will be sedition. Non-fascists span the whole gamut of ideologies outside fascism, and we do not want that. The vast, vast majority of us want a world where openness, debate, and dissent are not only allowed but valued. This latter state of affairs may be termed an open society.

There is simply no compromise possible between the two positions. Either open society prevails, or fascism prevails.

Open societies are vulnerable to going fascist, because their own principles of openness and debate lets fascists compete in the political arena for followers and power. Once they obtain sufficient power, they can then institute a new fascist order. This is the paradox of tolerance that philosopher Karl Popper wrote about:

Less well known [than other paradoxes Popper discusses] is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.—In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

Popper was not merely being theoretical here. He was born in Austria, and the first part his academic career took place in that country. He witnessed first-hand the rise of fascism, and fascism eventually compelled him to flee Austria. He thought long and hard about the paradox above, because he was baptized into it by fire.

Therefore what must be done to the fascists is to crush their movement, marginalize them, and keep them from power. That of course all very fascistic in and of itself. Hence the paradox: the tolerant must be prepared to be intolerant (to the intolerant). Tolerance, in other words, like everything, has its limits. Unlimited tolerance is self-annihilating.

This opens up a very real risk. When unleashing coercion against the fascists, we must be scrupulously careful to limit the scope of our coercion. Only fascists must be targeted. The non-fascist small-d democratic right, no matter how irritating some of them might be, must not be targeted. It is easily possible for a war against fascists to create an order as bad as the one the fascists want. The scope of any coercion must be strictly limited.

There must be an off-ramp for those who have so far passively gone along with fascism. There is a huge difference between the random two-time Trump voter and a committed fascist like Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, or Stephen Bannon. There is also a huge difference between the latter individuals and Chris Christie or Susan Collins.

If the low-grade enablers are willing to acknowledge the error of their ways and change their behavior, they should be welcomed into the anti-fascist camp. They will be our unreliable low-grade enablers then, of course. This might be infuriating to those with stronger principles, but welcoming them over to our side grows our numbers and shrinks theirs.

Ultimately there is no alternative. The fascists have gotten surprisingly strong in a surprisingly short time. They almost staged a successful coup. The inauguration of Biden gives the non-fascists the upper hand, and we must not shy from using it to crush fascism. Should we fail, it is unlikely we will get a second chance. Instead, as Churchill put it, we “…will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”

What has to be done is dangerous, and it has risks. We have, by virtue of a long litany of mistakes throughout our history, arrived at a point where safety is no longer possible. All that exists are choices between various types of danger. It is far more dangerous not to crush fascism. So crush it.

It Could Have Been Much Worse

I do not think most people yet realize the full gravity of what happened at the Capitol and how easily it might have been vastly more serious. Part of this is denial rooted in myth of American exceptionalism, and part of this is that we are still in the process of figuring out exactly what happened.

Consider this video:

Now consider how some of the rioters came there armed, as part of organized militia groups. Consider how some came equipped with zip ties. Consider how we have just learned that all the shit-talking about storming Congress wasn’t just shit-talking. Consider how panicked and hurried the effort to secure the safety of lawmakers was.

Yes, some of the invaders, perhaps most of them, were just LARPing and milled about aimlessly, not knowing exactly what to do (because they had no plan of what to do) when they got inside. That’s just some of them. Available evidence points to others being far more serious.

What would have happened if they had found the Vice President? There were enough armed people there that, despite their generally inferior combat skills, they could have probably overwhelmed the Secret Service detail assigned to protect Pence.

We probably came closer than we think to seeing the Vice President of the United States get lynched in the halls of Congress.

What would have happened then? Now there is no Vice President to perform the Constitutionally mandated duty of tabulating the Electoral College votes until a new one is appointed by President Trump. Can there be even the slightest particle of doubt that the new VP would be a lickspittle who would refuse to do his duty per the Constitution?

At that point, the country would have been in a full-blown constitutional crisis, most likely with spontaneous eruptions of violent unrest nationwide.

We will probably learn in the coming months and years how this coup attempt could have easily been much, much worse.

The Nature of the Police

I recently ran across an article containing this:

The [Capitol Police] officer even described coming face to face with police officers from across the country in the mob. He said some of them flashed their badges, telling him to let them through, and trying to explain that this was all part of a movement that was supposed to help.

Now this is interesting. You see, there was some truly shocking behavior on display at the Capitol on Wednesday. We saw Capitol Police officers opening barricades to let rioters in. We saw officers stand aside and let rioters pass. We saw officers retreat without making the slightest effort to engage the mob and thwart its progress. We saw officers helping rioters up and down the Capitol steps. We saw officers posing for selfies with rioters.

At first glance, this points to fifth columnists amongst the Capitol Police. But wait, that puzzle piece really does not fit very well. Why didn’t the plot leak out (conspiracies are hard to keep secret)? Why did some officers still attempt to defend the Capitol and the officials therein?

The claim in the quote above fits far better.

Cops are known to lean right. Many of them are big fans of Trump. One of the reasons people become a cop is that they are authoritarians who get their jollies pushing other people around (what better job than one that allows you to do so legally). Trump is an appealing figure to this sort of person.

Cops give other cops special treatment. It even goes so far as many of them giving their friends and family special “get out of jail free” cards.

There is no special conspiracy at play in the following scenario: just the normal, well-known, institutional rot in policing. Off-duty cops from other departments showed up in the mob, migrated to the front of it, flashed their badges, and got special treatment. Once the barricades had been opened, the rest of the mob streamed through. By the time the violent and destructive intent of the mob was clear, it was too late: the Capitol had already fallen.

The whole problem was then made worse by the fascist element within the Capitol Police who sympathized with the rioting. This could have also affected the lack of preparation on the part of the Capitol Police: they sympathized with the coming mob, so they were not interested in doing a good job of preparing to protect the Capitol.

But there was no conspiracy. It was, to reiterate, simply normal and well-known systematic rot at play.

One Foot in the Grave

Earlier, I claimed:

American democracy has one foot in the grave. If the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice refuses to investigate and prosecute Trump’s crimes, it becomes a corpse. It might then take a while for it to start stinking and bloating enough for people to notice it is a corpse, but it will be a corpse.

Let’s look into some of the evidence (some of it new, some of it quite old) for that claim, shall we?

Recent Events

As I write this, the Democrats are still dithering about whether or not to impeach the President for inciting an attempted coup. They may still decide to, but:

  • This should not be a hard decision. Trump literally attempted to incite a coup d’etat! Yet the Democrats have to think about it long and hard.
  • The Republicans will probably refuse to convict in the Senate, anyhow.

What does it say about the state of a supposed opposition party that it has to ponder it over when the party in power literally tries to stage a fascist coup against them? What does it say about that party’s institutional commitment to any principles it claims to profess?

What it says about the Republicans, a majority of which voted to ignore the results of the election on Wednesday, is clear. The GOP as an institution is a fascist party. There are still non-fascists still among its members, but the Romneys and Raffenspergers will doubtless be purged from its ranks soon enough.

However, back to the Democrats for a moment: The descent into fascism that the USA is presently undergoing is almost as much the fault of the Democrats for failing to oppose it as it is of the Republicans for pursuing it.

Impeachment

If it happens, the Senate will probably not convict. That said, it is still a useful exercise.

In the House, it will be a demonstration of principles for the Democrats to go through with impeaching Trump a second time. Their dithering has already irreversibly weakened the point they will make, but not doing at all will weaken such a point into oblivion. Better late than never.

In the Senate, it will force Republicans to take an up-or-down vote. As Jonathan V. Last writes:

The Republican party, as currently constituted, is a danger to democracy. Full stop. Which means that anyone working to further the prospects of this party is supporting the institution that favors authoritarianism.

If the Republican party is to be reformed, such reform is not going to happen organically, from the inside. It will take place only in the aftermath of a schism which drives either the forces of authoritarianism, or the “reasonable” center-right, out of the party. Only then will it be even theoretically possible for a responsible party to emerge.

Forcing Republican senators to vote on removing Trump will hasten this schism. This is critical for the long-term health of our polity.

The Sickness

Just how ailing the Republic is can be illustrated by the phone call that Nancy Pelosi made to the Joint Chiefs of Staff this morning. She begged the military to engage in insubordination against their commander in chief:

This morning, I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike. The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy.

It’s all for the best of intentions, of course: avoiding a war, possibly avoiding a nuclear war. But, she still is encouraging insubordination. There is nothing in the Constitution saying that the military should follow the orders of the President except if the Speaker of the House requests otherwise. What Pelosi has done is itself a transgression of the Constitution.

There are two Constitutional ways of dealing with an unfit commander in chief: impeachment and conviction, or removal from office via the 25th Amendment. Neither are being used. Instead, an extra-Constitutional way has been invented on the spot and is being attempted.

Nobody is even much talking about this. It is being taken as self-evident that it is too difficult for the Federal government to operate within the bounds of the Constitution. The rot is so all-pervasive, and recurring evidence of it so routine, that people are used to it, and do not even much talk about it.

And yes, it is all-pervasive. In my lifetime we have seen (incomplete list):

  • A president lie his way into a war in Southeast Asia, a war that was engaged in without Congress going through the proper procedure, per the Constitution, for declaring it.
  • A president lie while he was expanding that war into Laos and Cambodia,
  • A president create a secret police squad that operated outside the law, and use it against the political opposition by spying on them.
  • A president covertly sell weapons to a terrorist state that had just held our diplomats hostage for over a year, and use the ill-gotten proceeds of that sale to fund right-wing terrorists in Latin America.
  • A president perjure himself in front of Congress.
  • A president lie his way into a war in Southwest Asia, a war that was engaged in without Congress going through the proper procedure, per the Constitution, for declaring it.
  • A president institute torture as an official state policy, in contravention of international law.

Nobody high up has been held to account for any of these actions. Nobody. Occasionally, there have been a few designated fall guys take the hit, but that’s it.

And I have not even listed anything the Trump Regime has done! If I did, that list would be at least twice as long. It would finish, of course, with the literal coup attempt that is likely to go uncensured.

This is the degree to which constitutional principles actually matter in our supposed constitutional republic.

Conclusion

When I said our democracy had one foot in the grave, I was not being dramatic. I was being optimistic. The likelihood that it is already a corpse, but not yet stinking and bloating enough for people to notice that fact, is actually pretty damn high.

Trump’s Fault

I will start with a premise: an insurrection of the sort we just saw can be a valid tactic.

I am not going to get sucked into a lengthy digression on the legitimacy of political violence, and I appreciate that many reading this will disagree with me on this subject. Peter Gelderloos makes makes many of the arguments that motivate my beliefs, and I direct you to those for now. Maybe I will go into details of my own beliefs, and where they differ from Gelderloos’, sometime in the future here.

For now, however, I will stick with the point I made above. Whether or not you personally believe it, I believe it, and I am not alone. I am not alone, and such beliefs are not limited to those on the radical left. In fact, they are more common on the political right than on the left. Also note that I said can be above; my statement was not a blanket endorsement for casually engaging in political violence for any reason whatsoever.

Suppose, for sake of argument, the election really was being stolen by a cabal of Castro fans who wanted to implement a USSR-style dictatorship in the USA. It’s a preposterous assertion, given the current reality, but just give it a whirl. Suppose Congress was about to finalize the whole process by certifying a fraudulent election. Keep in mind how brutal and violent the Soviet system often was. Could it not be reasonable to then use a little force to stop that whole process?

None of the above actually is the case, of course. The rub is, many believe it to be the case. And for those who believe such things, actions like those which took place yesterday are only reasonable and to be expected.

Why do so many people believe those untrue things? Because the president, and his enablers in Congress, and his enablers in the media, keep saying them!

Therefore, yes, Trump (and his many enablers) are very much responsible for yesterday’s attempted putsch.

Today’s Events

Not a Surprise

Really, can anyone say this all is a surprise, after all the garbage that Trump and his enablers have been spewing about a “stolen” election? Because if an election really is being stolen by those intent on destroying freedom, then an insurrection is totally justified.

Of course, there was only a very tiny amount of fraud, nowhere near enough to change the outcome. As is usual. (And yes, fraud is usual. This is Planet Reality, not Cloud Cuckoo Land. Some people will do crooked things.) So the whole thing is nothing but a gigantic exercise in gaslighting: those clamoring “Stop the steal!” are the ones actually advocating for a stolen election.

But still, if you get a bunch of people to believe the election was stolen, things like what happened at the Capitol today are pretty much to be expected.

In fact, independent journalist Robert Evans cataloged all the signs of the coming storm, being openly posted and talked about on the Internet.

The Obvious Discrepancy

I’ve been to lots of demonstrations, and witness lots of confrontations at police barricades. Typically, the cops will try at least five times as hard to defend a barricade that protects some windows at Niketown (just the windows, because Niketown had been closed) than I saw them try to defend the one protecting Congress (not just the Capitol, Congress which was in session at the time) today.

In fact, some cops have even been videoed posing for selfies with the fascists, inside the Capitol building.

But, but, they were understaffed, some say. They couldn’t defend those barricades; circumstances compelled them to make a strategic retreat. But, but, it’s just a few bad apples, some say.

That does not answer my point. Suppose they were understaffed. Why were they understaffed? Why was a right-wing mob threatening people automatically judged to be less of a threat than a left-wing one threatening mere property?

Individual cops to not get to decide whether or not to deploy at a protest. Those higher up in the command structure make those decisions. That they evidently did not points to the rot and bias in policing being structural and systematic. Far from being a defense of policing, any understaffing at the Capitol today serves as a further indictment of it.

Accountability is Critical

Will Trump be held to account for all he did to incite today’s attempted putsch?

Ideally, he should be impeached post-haste, then investigated for sedition and whatever other charges seem to have probable cause. Then, assuming convincing evidence is found, comes prosecution and finally conviction.

Not just for what happened today, but for every law he has broken while president.

Accountability is Unlikely

But this is the USA. I have not once in my adult life ever seen a person at or near the apex of the social hierarchy be held truly accountable for his or her misdeeds.

I do not expect this to change, because I can not reasonably expect it to change.

There is a hierarchy of authority in all class societies, and that hierarchy is particularly severe here. It is why, unique amongst the most affluent nations, the American political system has steadfastly refused to guarantee health care to all as a right. The property of those on top is held to be more important than the lives of those below, and the lack of universal health care is but an expression of this guiding principle.

The richer you are, the whiter you are, and the further to the poltical Right you are, the more your life matters. The poorer you are, the browner you are, and the more to the political Left you are, the less your life matters.

This is why the police posed for selfies with the brownshirts. This is why they did not defend their barricade, if they were not understaffed. If they were understaffed, this is why they were understaffed.

One Foot in the Grave

There is a message in all this. The message was sent when Nixon was pardoned. It was sent again when Oliver North got off scot-free, and nobody higher up was held to account for Iran Contra. It got sent again when nobody got seriously held to account for lying their way into the Iraq War, or for using torture as official state policy.

There is no rule of law for the political Right in the USA. If you are on the Right, and in power, you can do basically whatever you want, and get away with it.

The American Republic has one foot in the grave. Very few realize just how sick it really is.

Soon: A Corpse

Given all that, why not do whatever you want, if it looks politically profitable? Why leave money and power on the table?

If, as is likely, Trump is not impeached, and nobody suffers consequences for what happened today, what is the lesson in all of it? Simple: once again, the rule of law doesn’t matter. The Right gets to do whatever it wants.

At that point, the Republic becomes a corpse. It may take a while (as in: a few years) for the stench and the bloat to get to the point where nobody can ignore it any more, and the oblivious may pretend otherwise until then, but a corpse it will be. Its constitution and its laws might still technically exist, but their irrelevance will have been incontrovertibly demonstrated.

The next coup attempt — and there will be one, sooner rather than later — will, in all likelihood, be successful. The inevitability of it will be obvious to historians, who will wonder how those enmeshed in it all could have been blind to the signs.

Unless

Unless, that is, tradition is broken with and the USA starts holding the powerful to account.