It was on January 6, 2021 that the American republic perhaps entered its first death throes. If there are no consequences for the President of the United States, or his foot soldiers who sacked the national legislature at his direction in an attempt to install him in power for another term, it's safe to say this is the beginning of the end. They will do this again and it will be worse, even if and when Donald Trump flees to his gaudy members' club in Florida. If it is not Trump who sees this fascist project to the end and reaps the full bounty of its dark rewards, someone else will. The president brought his people to Washington and, speaking to them in front of the White House, the seat of executive power, he told them in his mafia-don way to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the seat of the Legislative Branch and show the Enemies their "strength." His dipshit son and his deranged lawyer were even more explicit when they addressed the crowd. The message was not in doubt. Having failed to persuade a majority of Americans to keep him in power, the president sought to stay there by force.
The wall between speech and violence, in terms of what constitutes a legitimate form of political expression in the world's oldest democracy, is in a state of dangerous decay. The mob erected a gallows outside the Capitol on Wednesday, presumably meant to service the many groups—Democrats, journalists, judges, Republicans who fail the loyalty test—that the Red Hats would someday find guilty of treason. When the mob drove an Associated Press film crew away from the scene in enough haste that they left their equipment behind, some in the crowd destroyed what was left and fashioned a noose out of some wiring. Authorities found pipe bombs outside the Republican and Democratic National Committees, and a truck full of all the materials for a civil-war starter kit. Throughout the day, people in the crowd were captured threatening violence and death against those who have supposedly betrayed Mr. Trump. And before the day was done, death arrived. There is a video you can watch of a woman being shot to death in a Capitol doorway. In all, four people perished on Wednesday in service to the president's cult ambitions.
The Red Hats declared they'd come to retake "their house," then proceeded to trash it. Their allegiance is not to the "USA," as they chanted while rampaging the halls of the national legislature. It is to the man who says all the things they would like to say, who tells them they are the only true heirs to America, and who lashes out at all the right Enemies, inflicts pain on all those pretenders to a seat at the table. All he asks is that they pledge undying fealty to him for all time. Unless, as he did yesterday at his characteristic remove from the physical proceedings, he asks them to die for him. In his speech, after all, he promised to march to the Capitol alongside his foot soldiers. When it came down to it, though, he was watching it all on TV. He couldn't care less about these people, except in terms of what they will do for him. The answer, it appears, is just about anything.
But even if Donald Trump is successfully driven from the seat of power, and that is no guarantee yet, this is not going away. You can tell because there are so many traitors waiting in the wings to seize the mantle. The collaborators in the president's assault on the foundations of the American democratic republic were not just to be found in the mobs on the ground, many of whom have fallen into the right-wing infotainment vortex to the point that they genuinely believe the election was stolen. (Perhaps Trump does, too, with his bullshitter's propensity for convincing himself of the lies as he tells them to other people, and with the full-on psychic break he appears to have experienced amid his inability to process his election loss. He has always considered the contours of reality to be malleable, but the events of the last couple of months may simply be too much for someone of his particular disposition—a degenerate narcissist—to handle.) Yes, there were also handmaidens to fascism to be found in the same legislature that was sacked.
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After everything that happened yesterday, 121 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to object to the certification of Arizona's Electoral Votes. The putative reason was the same nonsense about voter fraud that's been thrown out by every single state and federal judge before whom the contemptible little shits in legal service to the president have brought these claims. But really, the reason was that the votes were going to Joe Biden. That is the animating force below all the bloviating and the noise. Donald Trump cannot lose. He must continue in power. We must continue to be in control of this country, even if it's only ever been a feeling.
Like with the mob, one suspects many House Republicans do not actually know better. The lower house of the legislature has truly devolved into an all-American freak show, an experiment in what would happen if members of a normal—if flawed—political party were forced to do run the country alongside hundreds of Fox News viewers pulled off their couches a few minutes earlier. A lot of these guys and gals are getting high on their own supply now. The slop that used to be served up to the rubes while the adults did the donors' work is now making it onto the plates of United States congresspeople. Matt Gaetz might know what he's doing—he has the look of an interviewee in Mindhunter. But Mo Brooks? That guy may just have fallen down a Facebook rabbit hole. He might really believe this shit.
Things come into clearer focus in the Senate, where an alarming number of traitors to the republic saw the Capitol sacked by a mob fueled by election lies and decided to double down on the dark fantasy. Some of these people are essentially House members—that is, brain-poisoned right-wing media consumers—who escaped into the upper chamber. Cindy Hyde-Smith is one of the dumbest people ever to sit in the Senate, as well as someone who has fantasized about sitting front row at a "public hanging," which has a particular resonance in Mississippi. Tommy Tuberville runs her close, though, a middling football coach engaged in a second act as a malfunctioning Rush Limbaugh for whom all the world's problems come down to Illegals and Sharia Law. Based on the speech he gave Wednesday, it seems Roger Marshall is a new member of the Batshit Doctors Caucus, a sizable group indeed. Then there's John Kennedy, who performed a similar heel turn on Trump to the one from Lindsey Graham, a seemingly semi-normal guy who suddenly started carrying the Mad King's water relentlessly. Graham, to his credit, worked up the courage—liquid or not—to finally break with the Trump madness yesterday. Kennedy backed the sedition.
But the true Senate ringleaders, and the ones who certainly know better, are Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley. They really should be run out of the Senate chamber, expelled from the body for crimes against the American republic. That's sadly unlikely, so they should at least be stripped of their committee assignments and censured. Again, don't hold your breath. Personally, I would have them both eat shit on the Senate floor. If they could somehow be held down until they lick the dog turd like Dale Brennan, that would be a desirable outcome. Because these are two of the most execrable human beings ever to reach such high office. These Ivy League assholes do not believe for a second that the election was actually rigged, or that Joe Biden won illegitimately. But they say these things anyway, helping to stir up the mob until the events of Wednesday became all but inevitable—and, of course, until they become frontrunners for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Ted Cruz is some sort of amalgam of animated pond scum, an oleaginous freak. He is a melted-down wax figure of Ronald Reagan who makes the original article—a lunatic who began to work of destroying this country—look like a great American. Cruz is such a rancid bag of nihilistic ambition that he is now urging on sedition on behalf of the man who insulted his wife's appearance and said his father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In 2016, Cruz called Trump "a pathological liar" and a "narcissist" who is "utterly amoral." He may think of his work now as primarily a show—he referred Wednesday to the "viewers," not the voters—that will boost his own career, but the fact is he is working to install this man in power in contravention of the will of the people. It may not succeed, but it has dealt profound damage to the American democratic republic. It won't matter to Cruz if he can climb another rung on the ladder.
Josh Hawley, like Gaetz, has the disposition of a Mindhunter guest star. The address he gave on the Senate floor Wednesday, just hours after vandals ransacked it based on lies Hawley has helped to push, was described to New York magazine's Olivia Nuzzi by an anonymous Republican as "the speech of a psychopath." This is the guy who ran ads during his campaign for Senate touting his support for protecting preexisting conditions at the same time that he, as Missouri's attorney general, was signed onto a lawsuit that sought to destroy Obamacare and its protections for preexisting conditions. These people will lie, cheat, and steal—at the minimum—to feel the power rushing through their veins. This guy thinks he can fashion himself into the heir to Trumpism, just as Cruz does, even if it means fomenting sedition. They should be thrown out of the national legislature.
They won't be, though, just as it is so unbelievably unlikely that Donald Trump will be impeached for, again, sending a fascist mob to the Capitol to physically stop the federal legislature confirming he will leave power. You could almost forget there's a tape of him attempting to extort Georgia public officials into rigging the state's election in his favor. It's difficult to think of a situation that more obviously calls out for impeaching a president, but Democrats have already signaled that they do not grasp what's going on. The turn-the-page caucus is in control. The Democrats who are calling for Trump's removal are in many cases begging Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, though some are doing their duty and calling for impeachment in the legislature. Meanwhile, just 13 people were arrested for their part in the riot yesterday. The alarming message so far is that there are no consequences, for political leaders or for the street mobs they incite, for engaging in an insurrection. They even marched the Confederate flag into the United States Capitol. If there are no consequences, this is the beginning of the end.
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