An Inside Job

“Riot Police” looking like Stormtroopers

Today is Sunday January 10th. Kia ora katoa. Kia kaha!

The news just keeps coming.  I just heard a recording of the phone message Giuliani left for Tommy Tuberville, newly elected Senator for Alabama, except that it went to someone else instead. – another Senator, who shared it with a newspaper. This sought to delay the hearing to certify Biden’s election win, acknowledging that McConnell wanted to “rush it through”.

The person who sat in Nancy Pelosi’s chair and put his feet up on the desk has been arrested, as have some others. But there are many angry folk who claim that storming the Capitol was a success. Although Trump’s Twitter account has now been disabled for good, there is action on other social media sites, and the “war” carries on. Is there something in the air, that makes people so susceptible to lies? There’s no question that Trump, by failing to denounce cruel and evil actions, has given tacit approval to them, and enabled his followers.

Thinking further about Trump’s big moments, who can forget the Access Hollywood tape, and the Charlottesville March?

In the past 24 hours there have been over 4,000 deaths in the US from Covid 19.

This morning we spoke to our youngest son and his wife in the UK. His wife’s brother and his girlfriend have received positive diagnoses for Covid 19. So far, he is symptom-free and she has cold symptoms.  Of course we wish them well, and a speedy return to good health, but this is the closest Covid 19 has come to us, so far. Our daughter-in-law now hopes to be vaccinated mid-February.

The UK lockdown has is more severe now, and people are not permitted to go far from home. One feels for them in their not so spacious houses and grounds; in fact many of them live in small apartments, with common areas that now they aren’t allowed to access. The schools are mostly closed. 

Coming back to the US, we have been here before. Trump does something truly awful. It’s roundly condemned, and then people make excuses for him. Enough, already! There has already been violence, not exactly commanded explicitly by him, but certainly condoned by him and not frowned upon. There are extremely disturbing videos of scenes at the Capitol, including someone being crushed by a door, in pain; rioters shouting ”Sieg Heil”, and “Stop the steal!”, many wearing Nazi insignia,, and carrying Confederate flags.  Trump explicitly encouraged his supporters before the rally, telling them to march down Pennsylvania Avenue (but not joining them, himself). He stayed well away watching their progress, not allowing National Guard troops to secure the Capitol, and complaining that these folk didn’t look great!  They, in turn, feel let down by him. Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump junior also incited the mob advising violence – a “trial by combat”, said Giuliani.

Even after all the violence, when the Houses reconvened, some republican politicians had the gall to challenge Biden’s win, but didn’t get the votes to delay proceedings further by holding a debate.  Special denunciation goes Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, for their actions and support for the mobsters.

But more demonstrations are planned; some consider their actions on January 6th a success, because they stopped the Houses working, and made elected politicians run for their safety.  This was terrifying, to us all, and must never happen again. Nevertheless, there are calls to bring arms (many did, to Washington), and to learn how to shoot. What price human life, huh? This is not over. Will it ever be?

“Our democratic institutions held firm”, crowed many; others thought they were actually pretty shaky, depending on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “do the right thing” despite death threats. Gabriel Sterling, another Georgia election official, also Republican, spoke out strongly, but had actually voted for Trump. Then on January 6th, the democratic institutions  didn’t hold firm. There was a noose erected to hang Mike Pence, there were cries to hang Nancy Pelosi. Did Trump denounce these threats? He did not, not even for Pence, who has been his most loyal supporter. What Trump wanted Pence to do, to overthrow the outcome of the election, was not within his power.

There have been some high-profile resignations in the wake of these actions. From the Cabinet, Elaine Chao and Betsy de Vos have resigned, as has Mick Mulvaney, one of Trump’s former Chiefs of Staff (there’ve been a few). Two republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and now Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have called on Trump to resign. There have been calls for Cruz and Hawley to resign.  A number of Police have resigned, including the Head of Capitol Police in Washington, DC. Nancy Pelosi has called for impeachment, failing invocation of the 25th Amendment, which apparently Pence is not minded to do; it would have to be a swift impeachment…perhaps it will happen, and Trump will be removed from office and won’t be legally able to run again. And where is Stephen Miller, by the way?

I have called it “Storming the Capitol”, but a Yale professor argues that use of the term “storming” gives the invasion a certain glamour, like “Storming the Bastille”.  I have called Trump’s supporters mobsters; their action: rebellion, insurrection, a riot?  It was certainly violent, and terrifying. Riot doesn’t seem strong enough., nor does demonstration. Some of the mobsters called it a revolution; that seems a bit glamorous, too: it suggests rebelling against oppression. While most revolutions have sad outcomes, and certainly not the reforms so desperately sought, I don’t want to call this a revolution.  Insurrection is probably the best term. It was hardly a coup, or invocation of martial law, since troops were not involved; indeed their absence (at the hands of Trump), caused huge problems, and for the insurrection to carry on for several terrifying hours. This is not over, not by any means. Removing Trump from office would allow for suitable security at Biden’s inauguration, and may prevent further deaths, from violence, and from Covid 19.

More and more information keeps coming out. Immediately people asked Where was security? While Trump watched the illegal events on television, safe in the White House, withholding National Guard Troops to take control and restore order, it seems some of the few police on duty colluded with the mob.  Apparently of 1,200 police who are supposed to guard the Capitol, there were only 500 there, and none on horseback to prevent entry. Reporters say it is normally hard to get into the Capitol.  But mobsters broke down a reinforced glass door, and some carried restraints.  There was a great deal of violence and desecration, and several people were hurt; 5 died.

I remember that Elizabeth Neumann left her position at the Department of Homeland Security, as DHS Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention and Security Policy, concerned that domestic terrorism was receiving a blind eye from the White House administration. In that capacity, she was officially in charge of emerging threats — and had identified violence perpetrated by right-wing extremists as a major one. Surely this was an act of domestic terrorism, which should never have been allowed to happen. CBS’s Face the Nation programme discussed this, while not quite making this link.

This has been a bit muddly. I am still horrified by this incident. I despair at people who are, again, giving Trump a free pass; saying it would be improper to invoke the 25th Amendment, because he’s not really “ill”?   Doo-lally?  That’s not unusual.  He’s a danger, even if he ceases to be president in a few days’ time. Look how much damage he has caused in the first 6 days of the New Year!  People are still saying “Happy New Year”, and yet this happens, and thousands continue to become infected, and die, from Covid 19 and its dangerous variants.  The Trans-Tasman travel bubble is again on the back-burner. The virus is having a good New Year; I doubt that anyone else is.

Ngā mihi nui.

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