Today was a very stressful day, as I’m sure anyone paying the vaguest amount of attention to news out of the (not-so-) United States can attest. I am writing this, not because I have any particular insight or anything noteworthy to say, but merely because I would feel more uncomfortable saying nothing.
The day started off well, with decisive results in the Georgia runoff elections that have been worrying so many. Warnock’s win over Loeffler was clear fairly early; I was a bit concerned at how close the Ossoff-Perdue race was, but as the day went on and further returns came in it seems to have edged past the recount margin. This is the best we could have hoped for out of those elections, and frankly something of a pleasant shock. Democrats will now have the slimmest possible majority, which means McConnell is out as majority leader (fucking finally) and theoretically it might be possible for them to actually accomplish something. It remains to be seen whether they actually will, but the possibility is there. (For better or worse, a lot is resting on the cooperation of West Virginia’s Joe Manchin…)
Also today came the announcement that Biden plans to appoint Merrick Garland to Attorney General, which seems ironically apropos.
That said, today was also marked by an enormous mob of seditious white supremacists (don’t argue this one, look at all the photos of them carrying Confederate battle flags) storming and successfully occupying the Capitol, interrupting the certification of the Electoral College result and sending the Representatives and Senators fleeing to safety. As I write this, as far as I know they are still on the premises. Similar groups have stormed quite a few state capitols as well; this is not an isolated riot.
I am not exactly surprised to see something like this happen; the right-wingers have certainly been hinting about it long enough, and people like Sarah Kendzior absolutely saw it coming and attempted to warn the rest of us. Nobody with the power to do anything seems to have been paying attention.
This is terrifying, for obvious reasons. I am not sure whether the best term for these people is domestic terrorists, insurrectionists, traitors, or something else, but those phrases at least mark out the general space they occupy. There is ample evidence that this was action was premeditated (among other things, several people present were wearing printed T shirts referring specifically to this event on this date). And their action is supported by the supposed president of the country, who continued egging them on via Twitter until even that company felt obligated to step in (and do the bare minimum, thanks ever so much Jack).
DC police were either unable or (more likely) unwilling to stop them from gaining entry, and I read the Pentagon apparently refused to send in the National Guard. This could have been prevented or stopped. Remember the ludicrous amounts of violent ‘riot suppression’ that were deemed necessary by these fuckheads when there were peaceful protests saying Black Lives Matter? A fraction of that violence should have sufficed to dissuade these cosplaying yahoos (these are the sort of people who love dishing it out but can’t take anything), but for some reason it wasn’t considered (we all know what the reason is, they’re mostly white men and law enforcement is full of fascists and the fascism-adjacent).
This is very serious. This is, let us be clear, a coup d’etat. I do not particularly expect it to be successful, but it does not need to be to cause a great deal of damage. As such, it is imperative that the incoming Biden administration take this seriously and prosecute those involved to the fullest extent of the law. (And this includes “president” Donald Trump. It appears there are going to be attempts at impeachment and/or invoking the 25th amendment, finally, in these last 14 days of his administration; I don’t know if I dare to hope there will actually be some attempt to hold that man accountable for anything, but this sort of behaviour needs to have consequences because the next person to attempt it will not be nearly so inept as Twitler. The question about that is why the fuck did it take this long, why the fuck is this the line that had to be crossed? For fuck’s sake.)
It looks like the Senate are back in session to finish the certification, at least.
I will stop here because I don’t know what else to say. Here are a few pieces on the subject over at Freethought Blogs I thought worth reading: One Two Three Four
Loten here with an update some hours later (Mitchell is probably asleep, at least he had better be). It’s over, for now at least. Four of the mob are dead, and there are reports of at least fourteen policemen injured – many of these thugs had tear gas and body armour, and two bombs were found and removed from the nearby Democratic and Republican National Committee headquarters. There have been more than fifty arrests so far.
Congress have reconvened and are in the process of confirming Biden’s election despite yet more Republican attempts to stall, and the Democrats have two confirmed wins in Georgia to give them the majority so desperately needed. Trump has been banned from Twitter for 12 hours, Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours and Snapchat for some length of time as well with orders to delete some of the worst messages or face permanent suspension, as well as Youtube removing at least one video. While this is a pathetic token gesture at best, it’s also as far as I know completely unprecedented and for that alone it’s a good start. There has been universal worldwide condemnation.
Biden has also explicitly termed this ‘insurrection’, ‘assault’, and ‘bordering on sedition’, and we can hope he follows up and takes action.
This whole mess has also led Pence and McConnell to grow spines, which is probably the most surprising thing (I doubt anyone thought they actually had limits to what they were prepared to swallow), and at least one Republican senator – Kelly Loeffler, runner up in Georgia – has changed their stance and backed down as well. As with just about everything else he’s ever said or done, this has blown up in Trump’s face. Imagine my surprise.