Updates from our violent but still-mostly-stupid coup

On realizing that he might actually be forced to stop being President in a few weeks, Trump is in full-on extinction burst mode. Lucky us.

This article from Tuesday, in retrospect, is disorienting to read. It talks about the anticipation of violence around Congress’s vote-certifying process, and the mobilization of security forces. Come Wednesday, it’s all “of course there aren’t enough security forces around, how could we have predicted any violence??”

The violence and looting sure did materialize, though: “Remarkable images show Donald Trump supporters looting the Capitol Building in Washington DC. Violent demonstrators stormed the iconic venue and ransacked offices, smashed windows and fought police after breaking through security lines and even walked into the floor of the Senate.”

More looting, with major security implications: “‘A laptop from a conference room was stolen,’Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff to Pelosi, tweeted Friday. ‘It was a laptop that was only used for presentations.’ […] Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) tweeted out a video Wednesday night of the destruction to his office in which he noted that the rioters had ‘stolen the laptop that was sitting on the table next to the telephone.'”

Multiple bombs were in play: “Amid DC rioting on Wednesday, a pipe bomb was found at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters were evacuated over a suspicious package […] Another pipe bomb was found and safely detonated in the Capitol complex.

So was…uh, grosser stuff: “Some of the unhinged pro-Trump rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday defecated inside the historic building and “tracked” their feces in several hallways, the Daily News has learned. A source close to Sen. Chuck Schumer said staffers to the New York Democrat found out about the fecal fiasco on Thursday.”

And they showed up prepared to take…hostages? Prisoners? Murder victims who would need to be restrained first? “Photographs of the insurrectionist mob that stormed the Capitol showed several rioters ready with zip-tie handcuffs in the U.S. Senate chamber.

Scalzi sums things up nicely: “[Trump] absolutely pointed the mob at the Capitol. He absolutely intended to disrupt the electoral vote count. It’s my considered opinion he wouldn’t have been in the least bit upset if hostages had been taken and as such the vote count had been indefinitely postponed. In his mind, if the vote wasn’t counted, he’d still get to be President.

The family of one of the deceased, Kevin Greeson, gave the media a statement that he totally didn’t support any violence or rioting. Any news article that wants to repeat that should put it next to some quotes from Greeson’s own social media: “Let’s give them a war … Democrats don’t have guns … we do … bring your stick, I’m bringing MY GUNS!

News so far is that 4 of the rioters and 1 police officer died. I can’t find any verified sources on the “one guy accidentally tasered himself into a heart attack” story that’s going around…but here’s one about the woman carrying a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag who was trampled to death. The officer was bludgeoned in the head with a fire extinguisher, and died in the hospital.

(Have any police officers died at a Black Lives Matter protest? Like, ever?)

The list of “people who take over as President if Trump is removed” at that point started with (1) VP Mike Pence, (2) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (3) Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Grassley. Which means all of the top three in the line of succession were in the building when it was attacked.

The number of different security/police/military agencies involved here is a little dizzying, but one key takeaway is that each state has a National Guard which reports to the governor, but DC has one that reports only to the president, and that one defied the pleas to show up. Can we have statehood for DC now?

Virginia and Maryland eventually sent their own National Guards in for backup, but only after being stonewalled: “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called [MD governor Larry] Hogan from an “undisclosed bunker” and were “pleading” with him for assistance from his state and national forces, the governor said. However, Hogan, who requires the Department of Defense’s authority to mobilize his National Guard troops, said he was “repeatedly denied” approval to do so from the Pentagon despite being “ready, willing and able” to assist.”

…and it looks like there’s a good chance “military drags their feet on stopping the rioters” wasn’t the worst possible path they could’ve taken. “[Fiona] Hill, who was an advisor on Russia from 2017 to 2019, suggested that an intervention from all 10 living former defence secretaries this week had prevented armed forces from becoming involved in a coup attempt.

It’s also being widely reported that Pence, not Trump, was giving the DOD directions by the time its tide turned. Which, uh. Obviously Trump is dangerous and needs his power curbed as much as possible, but if the VP is going to take over the duties of Commander-in-Chief because POTUS is dangerously incompetent, that’s what the 25th Amendment is for. We could do this in the legal-process way, or we could do it in the “high-level officials have secret closed-door discussions where they all agree to do the same illegal thing together” way.

The 25th Amendment can be invoked to declare a President unfit for office if a majority of the Cabinet votes on it. In the past few days a flurry of Trump’s administration members have announced their resignations, including multiple Cabinet members. Huh. Wonder if they were suddenly confronted with the high probability of being forced to take sides on something they didn’t want to face.

Pence is staying in place, but is, reportedly, shocked and baffled that the leopards are eating HIS face. “Trump’s scapegoating of Pence was said to have deeply angered the normally even-keeled vice president. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told the Tulsa World that he’d never seen the vice president so angry. “I had a long conversation with him,” Inhofe said. “He said, ‘After all the things I’ve done for him.'”

…honestly, I’m surprised. Trump is loyal to nobody. He betrays his own supporters constantly! His sphere has got to be full of people who know that perfectly well, and are making a calculated gambit to wring as much advantage out of him as possible. I always figured Pence was one of those. But, no? Apparently, at some point, he genuinely convinced himself that he was the exception, that he was special?

Anyway, Trump’s desperate flailing for a way to ignore the election is not going to stop. Which is pretty obvious to anyone who…lives in reality. Remember how it was just this past Sunday when he called the Georgia Secretary of State and tried to threaten him into “finding” thousands of extra votes?

After the Wednesday attack fell through, he made one not-quite-concession speech, which was absolutely the result of people sitting him down and saying “you WILL go down in history as the first President to be declared incompetent by their own Cabinet, you will face actual consequences for once in your life, unless you get on camera and read this, exactly as written.”

He couldn’t resist going right back to instigating violence afterward, though. Prompting Twitter (in the wake of Facebook, and Facebook’s subsidiary Instagram) to finally, finally perma-ban his account. It’s so late in the game, and after so much damage has already been done, and I’ll be disappointed-but-not-surprised if this is the most significant way he’s held accountable for the week’s events — but better something than nothing. Better late than never.

It seems like a few of his supporters might have noticed that he was using them all along? But a lot of them are just doubling down and insisting that this is yet another Brilliant Chess Move in The Plan. “Trump’s takeover Wednesday failed to materialize. After protesters were ousted from Capitol by a hugely reinforced police presence, many took to social media to question what went wrong — and asked what the president had in store to turn the tables. [QAnon] has been resilient in the past when its conspiracy theories were proved false, and Wednesday was no different.

(I caught a bit of the mainstream news coverage, and one reporter said “these people believe a criminal class is secretly controlling society.” Which is so vague, I’d call it actively misleading. Don’t softpedal it, come on! These people believe a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibal pedophiles is secretly controlling society.)

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