We Robot 2021: Sept 21-23
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Category Archives: Trump
Watching the 1/6 invasion of the Capitol on TV in real time, it was easy to think that most of the people were a strange sort of riot tourists. Yes, a vanguard looked tooled up, but the mass we saw on TV looked more along for the ride than anything else.
Since then, we’ve learned that key things were not on camera. There was some substantial advance planning among at least a portion of the insurrectionists. They may have had help from inside the building, both police and even members of Congress. They had phone calls or texts to people in the White House. There was a lot of big financial support from groups committed to overturning the election.
We also learned that Trump’s efforts to get certain states to overturn their results were much more extensive than first appeared from the inconclusive meeting with Michigan electoral officials. There were, at least, extensive efforts in Arizona and in Georgia, a key piece of which we have on tape.
And of course there were three score and more lawsuits around the country.
What was missing from the picture was the military angle. To run a real coup requires troops. We knew that Trump cleaned out top officials from the Pentagon and replaced them with acting officials who had the mien of stooges. That seemed to have cleared the decks for some sort of military action. The prospect of something certainly scared Dick Cheney enough that he convened a large group of former Defense Secretaries to write a warning to the military to stay out of the election. Yet, no sign of actual military activity manifested. Did the Cheney letter head something off?
Now, however, a different story seems to be coming into focus. The military angle wasn’t action as such: rather it was enforced inaction. Not only were the Capitol Police kept from preparing, or lulled into inaction, but so too was the National Guard. And this goes much further than not activating them: Acting Defense Secretary Miller tied the DC National Guard’s hands in what seems an extraordinary fashion, forbidding all the following from being deployed, used, or done by the Guard on Jan 5-6 without his personal approval:
- Weapons, ammunition, protection gear such as helmets and body armor
- Interacting physically with demonstrators except in self-defense
- Employing any riot control agents
- Sharing equipment with law enforcement
- Using any “intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance” assets to monitor the demonstrators.
- Helicopters or other air assets
- Conducting searches or seizures arrests or anything else directed by law enforcement
- Seeking support from law enforcement
In short, the Guard was rendered completely ineffective.
In other words, there was a plan: the plan was to remove all impediments both civilian and military that might get in the mob’s way, and then, to coin a phrase, unleash the Kraken.
And, it came quite close to working, in the sense that had there been a bloodbath then Congress might have found itself unable to act on the 6th. Personally, I don’t think that would have sufficed to keep Congress from doing its job the next day if it needed to and I don’t think that a majority (if living) would have given in, but maybe the plan was to have a long-run standoff like at Waco.
Since Trump and Pence’s terms would have ended on the 20th anyway, this would not have kept them in office. But if the insurrectionists had killed the Speaker and managed to keep Congress from meeting elsewhere and selecting a new Speaker, then presumably Chuck Grassley, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate would have become President. And we know what a profile in courage he is….
Among the things Bill Barr did in his second tour as Attorney General were to:
- Make speeches arguing that progressive politics were a threat to the nation
- Spend months prioritizing the criminalization of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, even as his own department showed that right wing terrorism was a far more serious problem and the Boogaloos were deliberately attempting to launch false flag operations pinned on Antifa
- Repeatedly claim mail-in ballots were prone to fraud in defiance of the evidence, a key part of Trump’s later attempts to undermine the outcome of the election
- Treat overt threats against a judge from the Proud Boys as a technicality unworthy of a sentencing enhancement
- Continue a policy of disciplining, firing, or criminalizing Department personnel who investigated Trump and his associates
- Even at a time Barr admitted he was unfamiliar with the evidence — and persistently throughout his tenure — undermine the premise and conduct of the Russian investigation, appointing at least three US Attorneys to undermine the investigation
- Dedicate department personnel to chase conspiracy theories spun by Sidney Powell in a failed attempt to undermine a legitimate prosecution
- Not only provide Rudy Giuliani direct access to the Department, but (by all appearances) undermine criminal charges against him for influence peddling involving now-sanctioned Russian agents
In short, over an extended period, Bill Barr laid the groundwork for the two-month effort to undermine the election that culminated in a coup attempt. The outcome of Barr’s actions — the disparate treatment by the department of Trump supporters, the empowerment of right wing terrorists, the continued influence of Powell and Rudy — was foreseeable. Nevertheless, Barr persisted with those policies that laid the groundwork for the January 6 insurrection.
And, let’s not forget the very misleading spin of the Mueller Report.
A friend sends me this video, which it seems is making the rounds. It’s long (9+ minutes), and may come prefaced with a commercial (sorry about that), but it’s pretty good.
I wonder, however, whether it will reach its intended audience, and if it does whether it will persuade any of it?
I hope they throw the book at all the people who we think stormed the Capitol. And the people who egged them on. And I hope they get fair trials.
But not this: Senator Chuck Schumer on Tuesday called for federal law enforcement to add participants from last week’s riot in the U.S. Capitol to the Transportation Security Administration’s no-fly list.
Do I have to explain how bad this is? No trials. No due process. Restrictions on freedom of movement on bare allegations. To the extent we limit it — this time — to persons believed engaged in armed trespass, or even just trespass to the Capitol, that’s different from making it purely political. But it’s moving in that direction. And, recall, that even insurrectionists are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The right to travel should not be infringed because someone somewhere who is not accountable puts you on some list that is next to impossible to get off. That applies to all citizens and permanent residents, whether the list-maker thinks you are someone who makes suspicious visits to Muslim-majority countries, whether you are accused but not convicted of a crime, or because they just don’t like you.
I would be OK with a travel restriction (‘don’t go near DC’) for out-of-towners as a condition of their bail after they were arrested and indicted. That’s done by a judge or magistrate, it’s public, and it’s publicly appealable. The no-fly-list is none of those things; there is an appeal process of sorts, but it’s totally opaque.
Update: Retired firefighter, comedian and Chuck Norris falsely accused of being Capitol rioters — this is why we have trials.