Weekend Open Thread: MAGAts Cue Cuckoo QCoup




So far, 2021 is proving to be even more interesting than 2020.  I’ll  to switch on my “Maureen Dowd New York Times Editorial Mode” to start things off.

TempResident Trump invited his supporters to (what most haven’t noticed was) the most massive super-spreader event of the year, then broke his word failed to show up himself, even though he lives right in the neighborhood.  At first he admonished them, cooed his love to them, and pretended to care about them; then later he denounced them while embracing them, and finally “conceded” to President-Elect Biden without conceding — or even mentioning Biden.  Even for a stable genius who thrives on chaos and stupidity, it was extreme right down to its extremities.

OK, that’s enough of my Dowd impression for today.  Let’s dig in to see what lessons we may derive from the armed insurrection against our seat of government by Trump’s troops.

In this widely distributed and now-iconic photo, justifiably slack-jawed OC Rep. Lou Correa reacts to the Insurrection Day chaos in the Capitol.  Let’s all say it together: “This is why you wear a mask!”

1. Children of Khomeini and bin Laden

The violent right-wing incursion into the Capitol was an imitation of everything that the MAGAts™ professed to hate:

  • they broke into a government building that had been believed to be completely secure and prepared to take hostages — it wasn’t as if those holed up in Congressional offices could just leave, or those plastic hand-ties were for fun — just like the Ayatollah Khomeini-inspired Iranian students who broke into the American embassy in 1979
  • they laid waste to the Capitol itself, honoring the plan of Osama bin Laden, whose fourth plane used on 9/11 — the one that crashed in Shanksville, PA after a valiant passenger rebellion — had been intended to crash into this very building
  • they smashed windows, threatened civilians and police, and looted — just like the acts that they falsely imagined and claimed were committed by Black Lives Matter protesters last year

Whatever their intent at the moment they violated the Insurrection Act, their actions were a repudiation of the spirit of Shanksville.

2. Should We Only Hire Black Cops?

Well, no — that would be extreme — but it’s worth noting that some of the white cops in the Capitol Police not only opened the gates to the MAGAts clambering over it, but later posed for smiling selfies with them.  Many have already noted that the police would never have reacted the same solicitous way had this been a march by a comparable number of armed members of the Nation of Islam — only in part because such protesters probably wouldn’t have been allowed to buy, transport, and wield with such weapons in the first place, or even assemble without weapons in such numbers without being blasted with fire hoses.

Compare that with the single, solitary black cop — armed only with a small stick — who was left to guard the front door, as the MAGAts smashed the windows and began to trespass.  He stood up to them as bravely as one could hope for, though he twice had to rush up the stairs to seek higher ground, even trying to push back the one in the front of the throng.  And he didn’t pose for any goddamned selfies with them.  (He probably also had a hard time identifying with the Confederate battle flags they brought in.)

3. This Was a Super-Spreader Event

This may sound like a small point, but it is not.  Not only were the unmasked conspirators literally conspiring — the root of the term means “breathing the same air” — but they were causing others to have to do so as well.  One Democratic Congresswoman said that she had to leave a secured area of safety because the Republican Congressmen present were refusing to wear masks.  Yes, the halls of the houses of Congress have high ceilings, but the rooms of retreat do not.  Authorities have said that only five people have died in the event (including one heard attack from a man who literally tazed himself in the testicles — which it would be appropriate for Sen. Ted Cruz to emulate if he could find his), but we’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to total things up.

4. It Could Have Sort of Worked

As we learned in Occupy Orange County, you can be as non-violent as anyone can want, but if you’re in a group assembled together you’re going to be judged by the actions of your most violence-prone members (which is why we made them go away.)  So the insurrectionists have to be judged by the few among them who carried plastic hand restraints commonly used by police to render suspects incapable of effective resistance.  They can also be used effectively to restrain hostages.  At least some of the insurrectionists came equipped with them and were looking for Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer, all of whom had luckily already been dragged away to secure spaces.  (And here’s where we shout out to the quick-thinking Senate floor staffer who took away the other thing that they were looking for — the box of electoral votes.)

So imagine if they had successfully found their quarry and held them, informing the public that all three would be killed immediately if any law enforcement or military came after them — or if the Senate continued counting the electoral votes.  And what if they streamed video of them cutting off Pelosi’s finger, Schumer’s nose, Pence’s ear, to make clear their serious intent.  Would the vote count have stopped?  I suspect that it would.  I expect that Biden and Harris would still be inaugurated, but you’d hear cries for decades that Democrats had “ignored the Constitution” by doing so.

(And note: I didn’t originate this sort of scenario.  Except for the details in the second paragraph, this was planned.)

5. GOP Govs Must Protect Their Dem Senators

Look at this list of the party affiliation of the Governors of all of the states.  Most of them are Republican.  Some of those states with Republican Governors also have one or two Democratic U.S. Senators.  For example: Montana just elected Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican; one of its U.S. Senators is a Democrat, John Tester.

Let’s not kid ourselves: those Senators are the next logical target for our domestic terrorists.  The death of one Democratic Senator reinstates a Republican Senate majority, and solidifies it if the appointed replacement is a Democrat.  (Again, I’m not the first to figure this out.)

What we need, then, is for these Republican Governors to pledge that, in the event of the death of one of these Democratic Senators, they will, in consultation with the leaders of the Democratic caucuses in each house of their legislature, appoint a Democrat to take their place.  (Yes, I’m also fine with Democratic Governors doing this with Republican Senators, but we have to recognize that we live in an asymmetric society where Democrats are far less likely to engage in such violence.  I wish it weren’t so.)

Some states already have laws like this, but it should be universal — and it should become commonly known that there is no political payoff to be had through such a heinous act.

In the absence of this, two of the good Republican Senators can pledge that they will counteract the effects of such a replacement due to death by not voting on any motion with a partisan division.  (And, of course, both of these could be conditioned so as to exclude deaths that are clearly due solely to natural causes — with the exception of Covid-19, to reduce the incentive to deliberately infect anyone.)

6. Rage at Senators is Partly GOP Primary Politics

Far be it from me to defend the likes of Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, but I think that we should be honest in recognizing that some of the ferocious criticism of them is intended to ensure that neither will be a viable nominee for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2024.  Attacks on Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and others associated with Trump — justified as they likely are in most cases — will also be to some extent to be intended to winnow out the Presidential primary field.  Watch potential contenders like Mitt Romney, Rick Scott, and Nikki Haley in that respect.  The calculation here, though, is that Trump voters won’t still dominate the party in 2023-24 … and I am not convinced that the Trump stain is so easily removed.

7. Oust Trump Before the Blanket Pardons …

Should the 25th Amendment be used to temporarily oust Trump from power?  OF COURSE IT SHOULD!  Every moment that Trump stays in office is another day that he could decide to issue a blanket pardon to anyone who may have committed federal crimes in relation to this insurrection — or, if he’s really interested in pleasing Vladimir Putin, to simply empty the federal prisons of all violent criminals as a way of punishing us all for “betraying” him.  Trump LOVES the pardon power — and if it’s his only weapon, he can be expected to fire it repeatedly.

8. … Or Nullify Them By Impeaching Him

Should the House immediately begin impeachment proceedings (not only for sedition and inciting a insurrection against the government, but also for his “Second Perfect Call” to Georgia’s Secretary of State, asking him to violate federal law by “finding” him one vote more than the margin by which he trailed Biden in that state.

No one really knows what the “except in cases of impeachment” clause restricting the pardon power means in practice, but this is a good time to find out. If the impeachment is related specifically to his support and incitement of the insurrectionists, this would seem to be as solid a case for nullifying pardons as could be found.

I’ll add to this list if and when I think of other observations that warrant inclusion — and I may, in time, expand some of these sub-points to full posts.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)