Thursday, January 7, 2021

Worst Day in US Transition History (post Reconstruction edition)

 I wrote earlier about the worst day in civil-military relations in reference to the Lafayette Square mess.  Yesterday was an awful day, but it had little to do with civil-military relations (some--which I will discuss below).  It had everything to with the awful state of the GOP. 

First, I will remain on this hill--it was not a coup It was not an attempt by a security force (police, secret police, military) to change who governs.  It was an insurrection--an effort to undermine existing authority to keep in power the current leader.  

Second, I will remain on a second hill--it ain't fascism.  Trump does not have a coherent political program to control society.  He just wants to stay in power for his own ego and to pursue graft.  He is an aspiring autocrat, but he does not have the attention span to be a real fascist.  Were there fascists among the insurrectionists?  Absolutely.  One of the key bits of glue among all these people is, of course, white supremacy.  But one can be a flaming racist autocrat without being a fascist.  

Ok, with those two points of pedantry aside (although I think they matter because we need to focus on the real threats and the US military is not one of them), what to make of all of this?  First, I don't expect either the 25th Amendment or impeachment to remove Trump.  Either would require Republicans to have some backbone and care about country more than power.  That is just not going to happen.  That calls for both are now mainstream shows how appalling Trump's incitement yesterday was.  Of course, Trump has been inciting violence since the Central Park 5 and since he started running for President.  But when the incitement leads to violence in broad daylight at the national capitol, it stings a bit more, doesn't it?

The Fox effort to make this appear to be Antifa will surely test their abilities to persuade since plenty of the pictures were of folks who had been vocal members of the Trumpist (fa, not antifa) effort.  These deplorables were sent to the capitol by Trump himself.  Hard to deny that reality when the assholes are posting themselves all over social media.  On the bright side, their pictures will be called "evidence" as many will be caught and prosecuted eventually.  Not quickly enough.

And, yes, the capitol police were understaffed, underprepared, and entirely too complicit.  The oversight committees will have a field day grilling them, and, yes, folks will lose their jobs.  A key point from the scholarship on ethnic riots (and this was an ethnic riot): they don't happen if the police don't let them happen.  Compare and contrast the police presence yesterday with the BLM stuff of last summer. The police had plenty of warnings, but they didn't prepare.  Why not?  Did they just underestimate the willingness of the douchebros to act?  They didn't notice what happened in Michigan? 

I am hoping that this fiasco will reduce Biden's enthusiasm for bipartisanship since as my brother put it on twitter, reaching across the aisle now seems to require a portal to the world of insanity.  I am hoping that Manchin reconsiders his opposition to killing the filibuster since all that needs to be done, such as passing a new Voting Rights Act, will be impossible if they need GOP support.  

Oh, and I am not in a forgiving mood.  Mattis and others can condemn yesterday's violence, but that is the very, very, very least they can do.  No senior official in the Trump administration, past or present, should ever serve again and they should not be welcome in polite society until they have done sufficient penance for their sins.  

On the civ-mil of the day, the big news was that the call to the National Guard was complicated.  That is, since DC isn't a state (again, something that should be changed), its NG is run by the Secretary of the Army, not the governor of DC (there is no such person).  The news is confusing--whether DoD declined the request at first, whether Pence approved it (he is not in the chain of command), and so on.  More will come out eventually, but it is a mess.  I think folks have it right--that DoD saw the request, looked back at the complaints they got last summer over the Lafayette Square mess, and tried to dodge this event.  Always learning from the last war.  Not great.  But I do think that I would want the NG to be prepared with clear rules before rushing in.  So, perhaps a bit of caution was not a bad thing.  I really don't know.  But the process does seem to have been quite flawed.  

What next?  I really hope that there are investigations so that people get arrested, that officials get fired for failing to do their jobs, and so on.  We need serious accountability.  Will we get that?  I really don't know.  Biden may want to move on and to heal, but I think that is the wrong way to go.  People need to pay a price for their sins.  Not in the afterlife--they need to pay now.  

All I know is that we are stuck with Trump for two more weeks.  Everything else is less certain.

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