Lazy Caturday Reads: The Final Days

ArtScans CMYK

By Marion Peck

Good Morning!!

The images in today’s post are examples of lowbrow art aka pop surrealism. You can read about this movement here: Widewalls: What Is the Lowbrow Art Movement? When Surrealism Took Over Pop.

After the horrifying events of the past week, we still have to get through 11 more days of Trump insanity. That’s one Scarimucci.

Democrats plan to introduce an article of impeachment on Monday. The New York Times: Democrats Ready Impeachment Charge Against Trump for Inciting Capitol Mob.

House Democrats laid the groundwork on Friday for impeaching President Trump a second time, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California threatened to bring him up on formal charges if he did not resign “immediately” over his role in inciting a violent mob attack on the Capitol this week.

Tiki Cat by Brad Parker

Tiki Cat by Brad Parker

The threat was part of an all-out effort by furious Democrats, backed by a handful of Republicans, to pressure Mr. Trump to leave office in disgrace after the hourslong siege by his supporters on Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Although he has only 12 days left in the White House, they argued he was a direct danger to the nation.

Ms. Pelosi and other top Democratic leaders continued to press Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to wrest power from Mr. Trump, though Mr. Pence was said to be against it. The speaker urged Republican lawmakers to pressure the president to resign immediately. And she took the unusual step of calling Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss how to limit Mr. Trump’s access to the nation’s nuclear codes and then publicized it.

“If the president does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues.

Reuters: Majority of Americans want Trump removed immediately after U.S. Capitol violence – Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans want Republican President Donald Trump to be immediately removed from office after he encouraged a protest this week that escalated into a deadly riot inside the U.S. Capitol, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Most of them were Democrats, however, with Republicans apparently much more supportive of Trump serving out the final days of his term, which ends on Jan. 20.

The national public opinion survey, conducted Thursday and Friday, also showed that seven out of 10 of those who voted for Trump in November opposed the action of the hardcore supporters who broke into the Capitol while lawmakers were meeting to certify the election victory of Democrat Joe Biden.

Nearly 70% of Americans surveyed also said they disapprove of Trump’s actions in the run-up to Wednesday’s assault. At a rally earlier in the day, Trump had exhorted thousands of his followers to march to the Capitol.

Princess with a ragdoll cat, Jasmine Ann Becket-Griffith

Princess with a ragdoll cat, Jasmine Ann Becket-Griffith

Of course Trump did much more than “encourage a protest.” He literally told a mob of conspiracy nuts and white supremacist thugs to march to the Capital and disrupt the counting of electoral votes by the House and Senate. Aaron Rupar at Vox: How Trump’s speech led to the Capitol riot.

Just before a MAGA mob descended on the US Capitol on Wednesday and caused a riot that killed five people, including a Capitol police officer who was beaten to death, President Donald Trump delivered a speech to his supporters in which he used the words “fight” or “fighting” at least 20 times.

“We’re going to have to fight much harder and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” Trump said at one point, alluding to Pence’s ultimate refusal to attempt to steal the election for him during that day’s hearing where the Electoral College made his loss official.

“You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength. You have to be strong,” he added during the speech in which he pushed long-debunked lies about Joe Biden’s convincing victory over him being the product of fraud….

Trump began his speech by urging the media to “show what’s really happening out here because these people are not going to take it any longer. They’re not going to take it any longer.”

“You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” he said. “Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about.”

Trump encouraged his listeners to march to the Capitol following his speech “to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity.” He did mention in passion that he was confident they would march “peacefully,” but his fans seemed to hear a different message, at one point chanting “fight for Trump!” as Trump said, “We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen.” [….]

Indeed, shortly after Trump’s speech wrapped up, a mob of Trump supporters overran law enforcement officials and breached the Capitol, ransacking and looting and leaving the premises looking like a war zone. They succeeded in disrupting and delaying the proceedings that made Trump’s loss official but didn’t change the ultimate outcome — and if anything did damage to Trump by turning political sentiment sharply against him in the final days of his administration.

As chaotic scenes unfolded at the Capitol, Trump’s first move was to post a tweet attacking Pence for lacking the “courage” to help him steal the election (he later deleted it as a condition of getting Twitter to unlock his account). Meanwhile, rioters unsuccessfully hunted for Pence while others were photographed with zip-tie handcuffs, suggesting they hoped to take hostages.

Femke Hiemstra

By Femke Hiemstra

Were there plans to take hostages and even kill lawmakers? The Washington Post: FBI focuses on whether some Capitol rioters intended to harm lawmakers or take hostages.

FBI agents are trying to determine whether some who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday intended to do more than cause havoc and disrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, and they are sifting through evidence to see whether anyone wanted to kill or capture lawmakers or their staffers, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Dozens have been arrested, and Friday, officials announced charges against an Arkansas man photographed in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office chair with a foot on her desk. But investigators also are working to determine the motivations and larger goals, if any, of those who had weapons or other gear suggesting they planned to do physical harm.

Some rioters, for instance, were photographed carrying zip ties, a plastic version of handcuffs, and one man was arrested allegedly carrying a pistol on the Capitol grounds.

“We’re not looking at this as a grand conspiracy, but we are interested in learning what people would do with things like zip ties,” said a law enforcement official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation….

Many of the initial charges have been for unlawful entry, but authorities also found suspected pipe bombs outside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, and they arrested the owner of a truck they said was spotted nearby with 11 molotov cocktails inside. The FBI is still searching for the person who left the suspected pipe bombs.

Adding to the investigation’s urgency, Twitter on Friday noted that plans for future armed protests have begun circulating online, including a proposed second attack on the U.S. Capitol and assaults on state government buildings Jan. 17. Officials cautioned that there may be a variety of motives among those who broke into Congress, and they said that a key part of their investigation is determining whether any individuals or groups had planned in advance or were coordinating in the moment to commit violence against individual politicians. Others may simply have been caught up in the moment and committed rash, unplanned crimes, officials said.

Harlekin Cat by Catrin Welz-Stein

Harlekin Cat by Catrin Welz-Stein

CNN: Feds say police found a pickup truck full of bombs and guns near Capitol insurrection as wide-ranging investigation unfurls.

An Alabama man allegedly parked a pickup truck packed with 11 homemade bombs, an assault rifle and a handgun two blocks from the US Capitol building on Wednesday for hours before authorities ever noticed, according to federal prosecutors.

Another man allegedly showed up in the nation’s capital with an assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and told acquaintances that he wanted to shoot or run over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, prosecutors said.

The revelations are some of the most unsettling details federal prosecutors have made public this week as they detail the extent of the arsenal available to aid pro-Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol. Other individuals have been accused of taking guns and ammunition onto Capitol grounds and more charges are expected to come as a wide-ranging investigation unfurls.

The details about the weapons cache in the pickup truck were contained in federal documents charging Lonnie Leroy Coffman of Falkville, Alabama, with federal offenses. A bomb squad detected the arsenal during the scramble to secure the federal complex after it was overrun by pro-Trump rioters and other bombs around Washington, D.C., were found.

More on Coffman:

Coffman, 70, told police he had mason jars filled with “melted Styrofoam and gasoline.” Federal investigators believe that combination, if exploded, would have the effect of napalm “insofar as it causes the flammable liquid to better stick to objects that it hits upon detonation,” according to the court record.

Police also found cloth rags and lighters. The court documents said that those items and the explosive-filled mason jars “in close proximity to one another constitute a combination of parts” that could be used as a “destructive device.”

Coffman had parked his pickup truck at 9:15 a.m. ET on First St SE on the Hill, near the National Republican Club, commonly called the Capitol Hill Club. That building is within a block of a large US House office building and the Library of Congress, according to the complaint. The truck also had a handgun on the passenger seat and an M4 Carbine assault rifle, along with rifle magazines loaded with ammunition, police said.

When police found and searched him about a block away after dusk, Coffman was also carrying a 9mm handgun and a .22-caliber handgun in each of his front pockets, the police complaint said. None of the weapons found in his truck or on his person were registered to him.

Read more details about those who have been arrested at the CNN link.

jpg_Cat_Art_Show_2_Jean_Pierre_Arboleda_Playtime

Jean Pierre Arboleda, Playtime

Ronan Farrow on one of the men who carried zip-ties into the Capital: An Air Force Combat Veteran Breached the Senate.

As insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol this week, a few figures stood out. One man, clad in a combat helmet, body armor, and other tactical gear, was among the group that made it to the inner reaches of the building. Carrying zip-tie handcuffs, he was captured in photographs and videos on the Senate floor and with a group that descended on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite. In a video shot by ITV News, he is seen standing against a wall adjacent to Pelosi’s office, his face covered by a bandana. At another point, he appears to exit the suite, face exposed, pushing his way through the crowds of demonstrators.

A day after the riots, John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, at the University of Toronto’s Munk School, notified the F.B.I. that he suspected the man was retired Lieutenant Colonel Larry Rendall Brock, Jr., a Texas-based Air Force Academy graduate and combat veteran. Scott-Railton had been trying to identify various people involved in the attack. “I used a number of techniques to hone in on his identity, including facial recognition and image enhancement, as well as seeking contextual clues from his military paraphernalia,” Scott-Railton told me. Brock was wearing several patches on his combat helmet and body armor, including one bearing a yellow fleur de lis, the insignia of the 706th Fighter Squadron. He also wore several symbols suggesting that he lived in Texas, including a vinyl tag of the Texas flag overlaid on the skull logo of the Punisher, the Marvel comic-book character. The Punisher has been adopted by police and Army groups and, more recently, by white supremacists and followers of QAnon. Scott-Railton also found a recently deleted Twitter account associated with Brock, with a Crusader as its avatar. “All those things together, it’s like looking at a person’s C.V.,” Scott-Railton said.

Two family members and a longtime friend said that Brock’s political views had grown increasingly radical in recent years. Bill Leake, who flew with Brock in the Air Force for a decade, said that he had distanced himself from Brock. “I don’t contact him anymore ’cause he’s gotten extreme,” Leake told me. In recent years, Brock had become an increasingly committed supporter of Donald Trump, frequently wearing a Make America Great Again hat. In the days leading up to the siege of the Capitol, Brock had posted to social media about his plans to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in Trump’s “Save America” rally. Brock’s family members said that he called himself a patriot, and that his expressions of that identity had become increasingly strident. One recalled “weird rage talk, basically, saying he’s willing to get in trouble to defend what he thinks is right, which is Trump being the President, I guess.” Both family members said that Brock had made racist remarks in their presence and that they believed white-supremacist views may have contributed to his motivations.

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Artist unknown

Brock claims to be completely innocent of any malign intent.

In an interview, Brock confirmed that he was the man in the photos and videos. He denied that he held racist views and echoed Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, saying that he derived his understanding of the matter principally from social media. He told me that he had gone to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate peacefully. “The President asked for his supporters to be there to attend, and I felt like it was important, because of how much I love this country, to actually be there,” he said. Brock added that he did not identify as part of any organized group and claimed that, despite the scenes of destruction that day, he had seen no violence. When he arrived at the Capitol, he said, he assumed he was welcome to enter the building.

Brock denied that he had entered Pelosi’s office suite, saying that he “stopped five to ten feet ahead of the sign” bearing her title that insurrectionists later tore down and brandished. However, in the ITV video, he appears to emerge from the suite. Brock said that he had worn tactical gear because “I didn’t want to get stabbed or hurt,” citing “B.L.M. and Antifa” as potential aggressors. He claimed that he had found the zip-tie handcuffs on the floor. “I wish I had not picked those up,” he told me. “My thought process there was I would pick them up and give them to an officer when I see one. . . . I didn’t do that because I had put them in my coat, and I honestly forgot about them.” He also said that he was opposed to vandalizing the building, and was dismayed when he learned of the extent of the destruction. “I know it looks menacing,” he told me. “That was not my intent.”

Yeah, right. Read more about Brock at The New Yorker.

Dan Kois at Slate: They Were Out For Blood.

I can’t stop thinking about the zip-tie guys.

Amid the photos that flooded social media during Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol—shirtless jokers in horned helmets, dudes pointing at their nuts, dumbasses carrying away souvenirs—the images of the zip-tie guys were quieter, less exuberant, more chilling. And we’d better not forget what they almost managed to do.

It’s easy to think of the siege of the U.S. Capitol as a clown show with accidentally deadly consequences. A bunch of cosplaying self-styled patriots show up, overwhelm the incomprehensibly unprepared Capitol Police, and then throw a frat party in the rotunda. The miscreants smear shit on the walls and steal laptops and smoke weed in conference rooms. Someone gets shot; someone else has a heart attack, possibly under ludicrous circumstances. When they finally get rousted, they cry to the cameras about getting maced….

Marion Peck3

By Marion Peck

But there were other rioters inside the Capitol, if you look at the images. And once you see them, it’s impossible to look away. The zip-tie guys.

Call the zip ties by their correct name: The guys were carrying flex cuffs, the plastic double restraints often used by police in mass arrest situations. They walked through the Senate chamber with a sense of purpose. They were not dressed in silly costumes but kitted out in full paramilitary regalia: helmets, armor, camo, holsters with sidearms. At least one had a semi-automatic rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails. At least one, unlike nearly every other right-wing rioter photographed that day, wore a mask that obscured his face.

These are the same guys who, when the windows of the Capitol were broken and entry secured, went in first with what I’d call military-ish precision. They moved with purpose, to the offices of major figures like Nancy Pelosi and then to the Senate floor. What was that purpose? It wasn’t to pose for photos. It was to use those flex cuffs on someone.

Kois goes on to compare these men to the terrorists who plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in October. Read the rest at Slate.

This post has gotten way too long, so I’d better wrap this up. As you can well imagine, there is much more to read out there today. I’ll post more links in the comment thread, and I hope you’ll do the same.


32 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads: The Final Days”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Politico: ‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help

    A growing number of House Democrats say they’re concerned that tactical decisions by some Capitol Police officers worsened Wednesday’s riots and have raised the possibility that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol might have had outside help.

    Lawmakers have uniformly praised most Capitol Police officers for their heroic response to the riots. Many officers suffered injuries defending members, aides and journalists from the onslaught and one, Brian Sicknick, died late Thursday. But videos have also surfaced showing a small number of officers pulling down barricades for the rioters and, in another instance, stopping for a photo with one of them.

    Some of those incidents were raised on a 3.5-hour caucus call by House Democrats on Friday, demanding an investigation not only into the decisions by the Capitol Police leadership but by some rank-and-file officers caught on camera. But the lawmakers also raised general concerns that the rioters had some sort of outside help not necessarily attributable to the Capitol’s police corps.

  2. dakinikat says:

    re the zip guys:

  3. Joanelle says:

    Honestly, my reaction is very simple; those involved in the insurrection have clearly demonstrated that they have different beliefs and therefore their sincerely held beliefs should be honored by taking away their American citizenship. Thereby freeing them from our country forever ASAP.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    NBC News: Right-wing extremists vow to return to Washington for Joe Biden’s inauguration

    In the wake of Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol, Trump supporters with extremist views feel emboldened and are vowing to return to Washington for the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, using online platforms to rally each other.

    “Many of Us will return on January 19, 2021, carrying Our weapons, in support of Our nation’s resolve, towhich [sic] the world will never forget!!! We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match,” wrote a popular Parler user who frequently posts about QAnon, and is being tracked by the Anti-Defamation League.

    Parler, Telegram chat rooms and the platform TheDonald.win were all used to plan and coordinate the Jan. 6 rally that turned into a riot. Posters explicitly stated their intentions to “occupy” the Capitol. QAnon conspiracy theorists and people associated with militia groups had a visible presence in Wednesday’s crowd.

    “Round 2 on January 20th. This time no mercy. I don’t even care about keeping Trump in power. I care about war,” an anonymous person posted on the platform TheDonald.win, which is filled with comments posted by people who lauded those who rioted Wednesday as “heroes.”

  5. bostonboomer says:

    The Daily Beast: Trump Having Second Thoughts About That Concession Video

    Shortly after his White House video—in which a scripted President Trump acknowledged that a transition to a “new” administration was underway, but stopped short of even admitting that he indeed lost fairly to his 2020 Democratic opponent—posted online, Trump started having second thoughts. Throughout the evening, the outgoing, increasingly authoritarian leader of the free world quizzed close advisers and White House officials about whether or not he did the right thing and if the reception from the public, the media, and his supporters was “good,” according to two people with direct knowledge of the conversations on Thursday. He asked if his supporters felt let down.

  6. bostonboomer says:

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. MsMass says:

    I hoping the strategy for the next two weeks is something like this:
    Pelosi on one side with the hammer of impeachment/25th/forceful resignation.
    Trump on the other with his foot poised to step over the line.
    A cautious balance but could be maintained for 2 weeks.

    The chatter about violent RW actions on or around the inauguration is extremely dangerous
    but I think Democrats are doing all they can to prep for catastrophe.

    We’ve been bombarded so long with one Trump assault after another. This last one has stood out- let’s help the media keep its focus on it.

  9. bostonboomer says:

  10. Enheduanna says:

    If they impeach and convict him, he loses all the perks of ex-prez except (unfortunately) Secret Service protection.

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2021/01/if-trump-is-impeached-and-convicted-hell-lose-his-post-presidency-perks/

    It burns me up we have to pay for that, and they’ll bunk at his properties and bilk us for the rest of his miserable life.

    • Enheduanna says:

      Just saw this argument against impeachment at TPM:

      https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/democrats-impeachment-is-a-political-trap

      I don’t know what to think, really. I think he’ll be sucking all the oxygen regardless.

      • NW Luna says:

        The author is wrong that impeachment again means Trump can’t run for office. Impeachment does not forbid that. There has to be a separate step taken to ban him from office.

        The main reason I disagree with the premise is that if impeachment isn’t for sedition against the lawful government, what is it for?

      • quixote says:

        Judis’s whole argument seems to be that impeachment would give Trump attention and he likes that.

        Jesus King Kong Christ. This is an existential crisis for the US I don’t know how Judis can miss that, since he apparently knows how to read. Flub this and there is no rule of law at all. And without rule of law, no democracy.

        It does not matter what the Dump likes.

  11. MsMass says:

    https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/for-republican-senators-impeaching-trump-may-be-as-simple-as-not-showing-up-99183685871

    Maddow says R senators just don’t show up for impeachment vote-she says only need 2/3 of senators who are present. Just 2/3 of those who are in the room.

    We need to proceed with the consequences of his actions.

  12. RonStill4Hills says:

    They are slowly arresting more and more of these terrorists. Fine. Good. But let’s get them all. No slow walking or bullshit “ring leader” talk. Every single one of them that participated in the siege. If they crossed the barricades or charged Up the steps they should be prosecuted.

    It goes without saying that BLM would have been mowed down on the spot and survivors arrested on day. But piles of bloody deplorable bodies would not exactly make me happy. They need to use every forensic means available to catch every single MAGA terrorist and every single law enforcement or government collaborator.

    This was treason. But a blood bath would have also been tragic. We have to prevent any additional seditious terror plots and root every bit of it out of our body politic. But it feel weird AF that I guess I am Feeling glad that whitey was not treated the same as blacky by the trigger happy fuzz.

    But if the privileged are above the law then there is no law, and the non-privileged are fools to believe there is.

    • Beata says:

      I still wonder why that one woman was shot by Capitol Police. What was she doing that was worse than so many others were doing? I don’t know. Did the fact that she was a woman play a role in her shooting? I want to see each and every one of these terrorists arrested and convicted. But I cannot be happy about the loss of lives.

      • RonStill4Hills says:

        Right. She was not the only rioter at that door trying to get through that window. It is weird.

        • quixote says:

          Joan Walsh said it too. I’m not sad the police treated protestors with restraint. They should just treat *all* protestors that way.

          (She said that very early in the process. Now have to add: they also need to know the difference between protestors and violent gangs.)

        • bostonboomer says:

          She was the first one through and there were multiple congress people on the other side. But the shooting is being investigated and the shooter is on administrative leave.

  13. NW Luna says:

    FBI agents are trying to determine whether some who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday intended to do more than cause havoc and disrupt the certification …. to see whether anyone wanted to kill or capture lawmakers or their staffers, according to people familiar with the investigation

    Are they blind? Of course that’s what the terrorist mob wanted to do — the noose and platform, the handcuffs (“zip-ties” my ass), the weapons, their written communications.

    Trump called for them to do violence. He was watching and cheering them on in a video! Haul him out of office.

    • dakinikat says:

  14. dakinikat says:

    there’s nothing positive about Dershowitz trending on twitter

  15. NW Luna says:

    Unlike the flag at the Capitol, which Nancy Pelosi ordered be dropped to half-staff.