Tuesday Reads: We’re Approaching the Anniversary of the Capitol Insurrection.

Woman Reading, August Macke

Woman Reading, August Macke

Good Morning!!

This Thursday marks one year since the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and today’s top news stories reflect the seriousness of the upcoming anniversary. There is also a new book out today that looks interesting. 

The Guardian: The Steal review: stethoscope for a democracy close to cardiac arrest.

In their terrific new book, the veteran reporters Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague argue that the mob that invaded the Capitol in Washington almost exactly a year ago “had no more chance of overthrowing the US government than hippies in 1967 had trying to levitate the Pentagon”.

The “real insurrection” was the one “led by Trump and his coterie of sycophants” in Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona. It “was only slightly better organized than the mob but considerably more calculated and dangerous”.

That real insurrection is the subject of this timely and important volume. The authors have used a stethoscope to examine the minutia of the American election process. The result is a thrilling and suspenseful celebration of the survival of democracy.

The attempted coup was led by Donald Trump. Its intended denouement, in which the vice-president, Mike Pence, would ignore the votes of the six states above plus Washington DC in order to swing the election to Trump, was outlined in an insane memo written by the lawyer John Eastman, described here as “surely the most seditious document to emerge from the White House in American history”.

That final act, of course, never happened. Not even Pence, the most sycophantic vice-president of modern times, could bring himself to violate the constitution so blatantly to keep his boss in the White House.

But the genuine heroes, brought to life here, were the “hundreds of obscure Americans from every walk of life, state and local officials, judges and election workers. Many of them were Republicans, some were Trump supporters. They refused to accept his slander of themselves, their communities and their workers, and they refused to betray their sworn duty to their office and their country. They were the real patriots.”. 

The New Republic has a lengthier review that is worth reading: The Next Coup Attempt Will Be More Dangerous. Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague’s book shows how scattershot January 6 was—and why a repeat could be harder to stop.

Poul Friis Nybo (Danish 1868-1929) A young woman reading while enjoying a cup of tea in the sunroom by the sea.

Poul Friis Nybo (Danish 1868-1929) A young woman reading while enjoying a cup of tea in the sunroom by the sea.

Tomorrow Merrick Garland will give a speech on the January 6 investigation. The Washington Post: Attorney general Garland plans speech on Jan. 6 investigation for Wednesday.

Attorney General Merrick Garland will give a speech Wednesday about the Justice Department’s efforts to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, stressing the department’s “unwavering commitment to defend Americans and American democracy from violence and threats of violence,” a Justice Department official said.

In the address, scheduled for the day before the anniversary of the attack, Garland will not speak about specific people or charges, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the speech had not yet been officially announced.

Rather, Garland, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, will offer broad remarks about “the department’s solemn duty to uphold the Constitution, follow the facts and the law and pursue equal justice under law without fear or favor.”

The remarks will be directed at Justice Department employees and the public, the official said. They come as the agency has been under growing pressure — especially from the political left — to hold former president Donald Trump and others in his orbit criminally responsible for efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

I don’t see why Garland can’t say whether the DOJ plans to prosecute the the people who planned, supported, and planned the January 6 attack. If he doesn’t, the speech is just going stimulate more anger among those of us who are worried about preserving democracy in the U.S.

The White House and Congress will hold events to commemorate the anniversary, and Trump and his minions are planning anti-democratic counter-events. Axios: Bannon, Trump to counterprogram Dems for Jan. 6 anniversary.

Former President Trump and fervent allies, including Steve Bannon, plan to go on the offense during Thursday’s anniversary of the Capitol insurrection — in fiery contrast with House and Senate Republican leaders, who plan no events, sources with direct knowledge tell Axios….

Bannon told Axios that on Thursday morning, he’ll host a special edition of his podcast “WarRoom” featuring two of Trump’s most zealous supporters — Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.)….he’ll also host Darren Beattie. He was a major character in the incendiary documentary Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson produced about the Capitol riot.

Based on their previous statements, it’s likely Bannon and his allies will portray the arrested Jan. 6 rioters as political prisoners and MAGA martyrs….

The Reader - Nick Botting British, b.1963-

The Reader – Nick Botting British, b.1963-

Trump himself will hold a press conference at 5pm Thursday at Mar-a-Lago. He’ll assail the bipartisan select committee that Pelosi formed to investigate the attack.

A source familiar with Trump’s plans said the former president would call Pelosi’s investigation a “witch hunt” and embrace the protests of Jan. 6 as a legitimate reaction to a “stolen” election on Nov. 3, 2020.

Trump has issued statements attacking Pelosi’s committee but hasn’t, until now, held an event designed entirely to defend and legitimize Jan. 6.

Asked whether Trump would claim the riot was not violent and blame it on antifa and the FBI, the source replied, “I’m sure that will be a component.”

Newsweek has a bombshell report by William M. Arkin on previously unknown preparations for January 6, 2021: Exclusive: Secret Commandos with Shoot-to-Kill Authority Were at the Capitol.

On Sunday, January 3, the heads of a half-dozen elite government special operations teams met in Quantico, Virginia, to go over potential threats, contingencies, and plans for the upcoming Joint Session of Congress. The meeting, and the subsequent deployment of these shadowy commandos on January 6, has never before been revealed.

Right after the New Year, Jeffrey A. Rosen, the acting Attorney General on January 6, approved implementation of long-standing contingency plans dealing with the most extreme possibilities: an attack on President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence, a terrorist attack involving a weapon of mass destruction, and a declaration of measures to implement continuity of government, requiring protection and movement of presidential successors.

Rosen made a unilateral decision to take the preparatory steps to deploy Justice Department and so-called “national” forces. There was no formal request from the U.S. Capitol Police, the Secret Service, or the Metropolitan Police Department—in fact, no external request from any agency. The leadership in Justice and the FBI anticipated the worst and decided to act independently, the special operations forces lurking behind the scenes….

The contingency units meeting on January 3 included the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, the FBI’s national “Render Safe” team, an FBI SWAT team from the Baltimore Field Office, Special Response Teams from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the U.S. Marshals Service Special Operations Group….

James C. Christensen

By James C. Christensen

On the morning of January 6, most of these forces staged closer to downtown Washington, particularly after intelligence was received indicating a possible threat to FBI headquarters building or the FBI’s Washington Field Office. FBI tactical teams arrived on Capitol Hill early in the day to assist in the collection of evidence at sites—including the Republican and Democratic party national headquarters—where explosive devices were found. FBI SWAT teams and snipers were deployed to secure nearby congressional office buildings. Other FBI agents provided selective security around the U.S. Capitol and protection to congressional members and staff.

A tactical team of the Hostage Rescue Team was one of the first external federal agencies to actually enter the Capitol after protestors breached the building. In addition to augmentation of emergency security assets, one team coordinated with the U.S. Capitol Police and Secret Service to provide additional safeguarding of Vice President Pence, who had been moved to the underground parking structure beneath the Capitol, from where he was supposed to evacuate. But Pence refused to leave the building and stayed underground instead.

Arkin doesn’t say why these teams didn’t do more to protect the police officers who were being beaten and maimed.

More new reporting on Trump’s attempts to overthrow the government from Vice News: Trump’s Plan to Steal the 2020 Election Included QAnon’s Ron Watkins.

As the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 presidential election loomed, former President Donald Trump and his team came up with a plan to stoke anger and seed disinformation in the hope of getting lawmakers to reject the election results.

The plan included recruiting known conspiracy theorist and QAnon influencer Ron Watkins, mobilizing an army of MAGA Twitter trolls, and organizing protests outside lawmakers’ homes.

The effort—titled “STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS PLAN – GIULIANI PRESIDENTIAL LEGAL DEFENSE TEAM“—was revealed in a submission to the Jan. 6 select committee by former New York City police commissioner and close Trump ally Bernie Kerik.

Hennie Niemann Jr.

By Hennie Niemann Jr.

The plan was to create a 10-day media blitz, beginning on Dec. 27 and ending on Jan. 6, to urge Republican lawmakers to vote against certifying the results of the 2020 election….

The 22-page document outlines a plan to seed the baseless election fraud allegations that had been dreamt up by conspiracy theorists and use them in messaging on TV, radio, and social media.

The document also outlines plans to organize “protests at weak members’ homes,” “protests at local officials homes/offices” and “protests in DC – rally for key House and Senate members.” 

The plan called for prewritten tweets to be disseminated to right-wing influencers repeating a range of the most popular election fraud conspiracies, including ones about mail-in ballots, faulty Dominion voting machines, dead people voting, and suitcases full of ballots being brought into processing centers.

There are many more details at the link.

Finally, at The Guardian, a disturbing piece by Stephen Marche, author of a new book, The Next Civil War: The next US civil war is already here – we just refuse to see it

The United States today is, once again, headed for civil war, and, once again, it cannot bear to face it. The political problems are both structural and immediate, the crisis both longstanding and accelerating. The American political system has become so overwhelmed by anger that even the most basic tasks of government are increasingly impossible.

The legal system grows less legitimate by the day. Trust in government at all levels is in freefall, or, like Congress, with approval ratings hovering around 20%, cannot fall any lower. Right now, elected sheriffs openly promote resistance to federal authority. Right now, militias train and arm themselves in preparation for the fall of the Republic. Right now, doctrines of a radical, unachievable, messianic freedom spread across the internet, on talk radio, on cable television, in the malls.

Antonio Calderara, La finestra e il libro, 1935

Antonio Calderara, La finestra e il libro, 1935

The consequences of the breakdown of the American system is only now beginning to be felt. January 6 wasn’t a wake-up call; it was a rallying cry. The Capitol police have seen threats against members of Congress increase by 107%. Fred Upton, Republican representative from Michigan, recently shared a message he had received: “I hope you die. I hope everybody in your family dies.” And it’s not just politicians but anyone involved in the running of the electoral system. Death threats have become a standard aspect of the work life of election supervisors and school board members. A third of poll workers, in the aftermath of 2020, said they felt unsafe.

Under such conditions, party politics have become mostly a distraction. The parties and the people in the parties no longer matter much, one way or the other. Blaming one side or the other offers a perverse species of hope. “If only more moderate Republicans were in office, if only bipartisanship could be restored to what it was.” Such hopes are not only reckless but irresponsible. The problem is not who is in power, but the structures of power.

The United States has burned before. The Vietnam war, civil rights protests, the assassination of JFK and MLK, Watergate – all were national catastrophes which remain in living memory. But the United States has never faced an institutional crisis quite like the one it is facing now.

Marche is a novelist, and his book “imagines five chilling scenarios that lead to its collapse, based on in-depth interviews with experts of all kinds.”

What are your thought on the upcoming anniversary? What else is on your mind? Please share.


16 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: We’re Approaching the Anniversary of the Capitol Insurrection.”

  1. bostonboomer says:
  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    This story is so endearing.

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