Vandalism and its Consequences

     I couldn’t write last week. I was too busy repairing my Jewish space laser. In fact, I was so busy I missed the monthly Zoom meeting of the Elders of Zion. So it goes…

     With the impeachment show trial pending this week, it is important to reiterate one fundamental point. What happened at the Capitol on January 6 was criminal, despicable hooliganism, something intolerable in a civil society. What it was decidedly not was an insurrection or a coup attempt.

     What happened in Myanmar was a coup. (We can only hope the new leaders revert to the name Burma.) The disgraceful attack on the Capitol was vandalism by assorted aggrieved groups. Real insurrection does not involve smiling geeks in body paint, horns and furs, taking selfies and carting off sundry memorabilia. Real insurrection involves the military seizing the head of state and the apparatus of government and declaring itself the new sovereign power. Myanmar was an insurrection; the Capitol riot was a chaotic, pointless, tragic clown show with no discernible goal and only negative achievements for all concerned.

      The strategist Edward Luttwak, who literally wrote the book on this subject (“Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook”) dismissed the notion of this riot as an insurrection, indeed as anything more than angry people venting. And perhaps because that is what American citizens have become accustomed to in the past year, some even garnering much political support for their violent outbursts. Insurrections require committed revolutionaries seizing critical targets, television stations, closing roads and access points, arresting the existing leaders, having defined political goals and leaders, and a plan beyond the initial seizure. The Capitol riots had almost none of that; the seizure of the Wisconsin state capitol building in 2011 that lasted months had more elements but even that wasn’t an insurrection.

     Indeed, one of the crucial elements of an insurrection – the recruitment of the military to secure the gains of the insurrectionists – was completely absent in the Capitol riots.

     Let’s get real. If one wanted to plan an insurrection against the American government – and no one should – the rebels would want to seize the White House, not the Congress.  Thus, as far as I can recall, movies that depict the (temporary) conquest of America always start with the takeover of the White House. Feel free to correct me, but in Superman II, Independence Day, White House Down, Olympus has Fallen, and probably others, it was the White House that was targeted by the invaders, not the Congress. It was the US President who was ordered to “kneel before Zod!” – not the Speaker of the House.

     I have always loved the Capitol, to me one of the most majestic buildings in the world and a staple of Washington’s skyline that can be seen from the ground miles away and from the air even further away. I have been there many times and am always moved by the experience. But Congress is not the symbol of American democracy as much as it is the symbol of American dysfunction. That is why rule by presidential fiat, known as executive orders, has become the primary method of governance in America. That is an unhealthy reality, but reality nonetheless. Congress is a disturbing side show to the real power bases in America. To Congress they come, they get rich, they exempt themselves from laws that bind others, they cling passionately to their positions – but members of Congress do not represent American democracy.

     Of three branches of the American government, the legislative branch is the only one that could be fairly described as broken, chaotic and at this point superfluous. If indeed it would be taken over by a gang of rebels, the average American would not feel its absence.  It is actually quite appropriate that when the Capitol was invaded, Congress was busy with a purely ceremonial and inconsequential activity. The impeachment trial (when removal from office is no longer a possibility) is another demonstration of the uselessness of Congress. The symbol of American democracy? Hardly.

     Congress hasn’t declared a war in eighty years. The Senate confirms presidential appointments – a rubber stamp when the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party, an irritant when the government is divided. Congress’ role in passing budgets and allocating spending has become a joke, recklessly printing money, running up astronomical Greece-like deficits, and showering this funny money on their favored patrons and voting blocs. The whining Congressmen give themselves too much credit in thinking that the vandalism against their place of business was an attack on America. This is what it was – besides the criminal vandalism: an outcry from common citizens against a failed enterprise, one they no longer trust (and with good reason) and one they no longer value. For all their sanctimony, the approval rating for Congress currently hovers around 25%, dramatically increased from the previous month’s 15% rating that itself was just slightly higher than the popularity of the Corona virus.

      You can like or dislike particular presidents, agree or disagree with the policies of Biden, Trump, Obama, Bush and all the others. You can like or dislike particular Supreme Court justices or decisions. But no one can credibly argue that the executive and judicial branches of the American government do not function. They do function. They are consequential. The legislative does not function and is not consequential (except to harm people’s lives through their intrusiveness), and would be the last place to initiate a coup d’État, insurrection, revolt, rebellion, or whatever they wish to call it.

     Congress does represent America as much as it emblemizes America’s current and continuing decay. Of course, there is a Democrat political interest in exacerbating the attack, bad as it was, and using it as a predicate not only to frivolously impeach an ex-President but also to preclude any investigation into the 2020 election. That is a great tactic that is likely to succeed, to the detriment of the American political process. What will not work as effectively is their attempt to label the Republican Party the party of insurrection, an unstated goal of the current impeachment farce, although it will worsen the polarization that is tearing apart American society.

     Intelligent and reasonable people should see through that.  Perhaps, since Congress has much time and not much to do, it should next impeach Woodrow Wilson. Wait – he was a Democrat. Well, then they should finally impeach Nixon and Reagan. After all, many legal scholars will solemnly intone that the Constitution is deliberately ambiguous on whether or not an impeached party must be alive to be tried.

      In the haste to judgment, vitiating all sorts of due process and fairness concerns, one fact about the horrific attack on the Capitol stands out. For all the shrill comparisons to the Arab terror of 9/11, it is odd, isn’t it, how little we know about the attack, even though we think we know a lot.

     For example, how was Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick killed and by whom? No arrests have been made – a stunning situation, one month after the attack, and given the high priority always afforded to the death of law enforcement personnel.  Apparently authorities have backtracked from the initial accusation that he was hit by a fire extinguisher. (The autopsy revealed no blunt trauma to the head.) What if his death was unrelated to the Capitol invasion? Well, that would undermine the Democrat narrative.

     If so, the only person actually killed that day was Ashli Babbitt, which begs these obvious questions:  How was Ashli Babbitt killed? Why was she shot and who shot her? Why is the shooting officer’s name being kept secret? Every time an unarmed person has been shot in the last few years, we know the shooter’s name immediately, along with his social media history. How is it that now we know nothing about this officer? Imagine if George Floyd had been killed and the officer’s name withheld for a month, or longer. But why was she shot in cold blood? That too might undermine the narrative.

     And of the other three people who died (apparently, some did not even enter the Capitol building), one died of a stroke, one of a heart attack, and another of unknown causes. Unknown causes? Surely causes can be found, and if unfortunately people died due to medical conditions unrelated to their visit to Washington, why are they being counted among the victims of January 6? Not everyone who died on September 11, 2001 in New York City died as a result of the Arab terrorist attack.

       Freedom suffers from an incurious media, as does truth and justice. The narrative being offered is false, misleading, hyper-partisan, and shrill, and suppressing any investigation into the events (what role did Antifa play in the Capitol riots?) does a huge disservice to the country, even as it serves the interests of the political class.

      You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to ask questions and demand answers. But answers will not be forthcoming in the current climate of fear, repression, and anger and – what is so typical – the perennial jockeying for the next election.

      Let’s all denounce violence, vandalism, and hooliganism of all sorts, and prosecute criminals to the fullest extent of the law. But let’s not pretend this riot was something other than a riot. A permanent peace cannot be built on a foundation of falsehoods.

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