One Foot in the Grave

Published at 12:04 on 8 January 2021

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.


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.


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

Published at 09:31 on 7 January 2021

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

Published at 18:34 on 6 January 2021

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