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Tuesday, January 19, 2021
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News + Politics Trump's riot -- and what it means

Trump’s riot — and what it means

The cops let white people with guns assault the Capitol. Are we surprised?

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One of the most powerful images from today wasn’t the armed Trump insurrectionists attacking the Capitol.

It was a picture taken back in June, when hundreds of armed National Guard troops stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial to defend it against largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters.

This time, according to news media, the cops who are supposed to defend the Capitol were overwhelmed, unprepared, and unable to stop the riot. CNN called it “an enormous security failure.”

Or maybe, as Cat Brooks, founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project,  told me tonight, it was that “white folks get to be white folks in white America.”

In the wake of the George Floyd protests, some 14,000 people were arrested. Tonight: Thirteen arrests in what can only be described as a violent, seditious action driven by Donald Trump, who remains president tonight.

Oh, and who told the rioters that he loved them.

At 12:29, when the first violence started to break out, Brooks tweeted:

“I’m not surprised by the lackadaisical response of law enforcement,” she told me. “If Black folks were there, we would be arrested, dead, tear-gassed, beaten, and portrayed as domestic terrorists.”

I watched CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. On Fox, people tried to defend the cops by saying they used “restraint,” that they sought to “de-escalate.” That, of course, is what progressives have demanded from the cops for years – and when the protests are about police violence against Black people, it never happens.


“Black people have been told we don’t have the right to stand up for our rights, and if we have the audacity to do it, we will be met with violence,” Brooks said.

I saw video of Capitol police politely holding the doors open so that the rioters could leave. And go home, not to jail.

I also saw that almost nobody was wearing a mask. At some point, public-health workers will have to deal with the fallout. But that didn’t seem to matter to the Trumpers, who were being fundamentally selfish. (A mask isn’t just about your health; it’s about protecting other people.)

But back to the riot.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, quoting FDR, called it “a day that will live in infamy.” What I saw, horrible as it was, was a fairly small number of people – hundreds, not thousands. I didn’t see a mass uprising in favor of Trump. I saw a handful of people with guns and Trump banners breaking into the Capitol while the cops largely let it happen.

But there’s a much larger context here. “I’m more concerned about what this signals for the physical safety of Black folks, Brown, folks, queer folks, immigrants, over the next few weeks,” Brooks said. “I don’t think American will ever be the same again.”

That’s because Trump not only encouraged this but continued to push the narrative that the election was “stolen,” lying to his followers, while the insurrection was taking place.

Yes, it’s only two weeks until Joe Biden takes the oath of office. But it could be a very, very ugly two weeks.

CNN reports that people close to Trump say he “has lost it,” and there are members of the cabinet talking about the 25th Amendment. If Trump were removed from office, he would be unable to run again in four years.

The top people in the administration are getting ready to resign. Trump’s allies are going to start fleeing, and are going to try to distance themselves from him to save some semblance of their reputations.

But Trump’s behavior is not a surprise; he’s been acting like this for a long time. And all the people who sided with him and empowered him are going to have trouble explaining themselves.

And for the record: Thanks to the vote in Georgia, two of the three most powerful and important people in Washington DC — the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House — are women from San Francisco.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Gorn, Trump’s first wife talked about how he had a bound collection of Hitler’s speeches in the bedroom that he regularly read. And no, I never suggested that Bush II was Hitler. I admit, I did have serious concerns about Pat Buchanan who habitually defended war criminals. But any sane person did as well. In any case, you are openly defending Trump. Compared to Trump, Bush II was quite liberal. Trump brought a new level of crazy to politics that was off the charts.

    Wow, you admit that the U.S. is racist? You forget, I grew up in Alabama, in the Sixties. I saw racism up close and personal. I saw history being made. I speak from experience. You speak lies, and dressed up gibberish. We have endured four years of “flip the script.” Garbage like “The Democrats are the party of Slavery.” Or “Those who oppose white supremacy are the real racists.” Yes, at one time Democrats did support slavery. That changed. The Republicans used to be downright liberal. That changed as well. It was all quite interesting. I adored John Kennedy. My parents tried to dissuade me. I saw Jim Crow’s death throes. And you dare slander me with garbage like “neoliberal.” Funny how Trump had no response to Russia paying bounties on dead American soldiers.

    I don’t oppose the military. I do oppose warmongering. Trump seems to have never met a dictator he didn’t love. He sucked up to some of the world’s worst.

  2. Trump is as much a nazi as Bernie Sanders is a socialist. Remember when you all whined that Bush II was the previous Hitler on the Potomac?

    All of Trump’s supporters are as much virulent racists as all of Biden’s supporters are all on board with drone bombings.

    The US is a racist country. Why does this surprise you? Either we get down to the heavy lift of doing the social revolution to uproot its causes or we end up like the girl of geek, fetishizing race as a cugdel with which to beat people she disagrees with. Were white supremacy finally uprooted and not driving racism, I’d imagine that geeks like the girl would be beside themselves without their call-out cudgel and reference point.

    This neoliberal authoritarianism likes to reduce direct challenges to its contradictions that it cannot contain into forms that it can digest. Instead of dealing with issues of populism, the neoliberal authoritarianism deflects down to race. Often times issue protests are reduced to free speech questions which can be digested. Democrat and Republican elites are all on the same team. That’s why they hupped to in overriding that military bill veto.

  3. You are like a broken record. Same stuff, over and over. I saw Trump’s final days coming pretty much four years ago. He said things then that foreshadowed his desire to be a dictator for life. His first wife spoke of his fascination, and admiration for Adolf Hitler. The Democrats did act. They impeached him. The Republicans protected him. They refused to even listen to the evidence. Barr covered up the Russian’s involvement in the election. And look where it brought us. The Democrats were constrained by legal opinions from Barr, and basically by the Constitution. Trump was always careful to avoid a smoking gun. He was openly racist, but did not openly discriminate. He just dog whistled to his supporters. He was virulently anti-immigrant, particular with regards to those from south of the border. He used them as his equivalent of the Jewish people. He played up to Israel, which was odd given his support from neo-Nazis and the KKK among others. His supporters were virulent racist. And yet, you attack the Democrats, because they did not go full Nazi against Trump. It took time for Hitler to get to the “Final Solution,” and it would have taken time for Trump to reach his end goals as well. Thankfully we stopped him before he succeed. Too bad, so sad for you….

  4. Geek, you are really no different than mirror images of the right wing thugs that were allowed to overrun the Capitol after the Congressional leaders dropped the ball on security.

    Oh, noes, the lunatic president who Democrats have been declaring dangerous actually acted on that. Were Democrats in Congress caught off-guard at this after they’ve been shouting it from the rooftops for 4 years?

    Similar to how Democrats regularly point out rightly that the US is a racist state, yet when racism presents, act surprised and outraged yet never really do much to uproot white supremacy as Democrats often depend on white supremacy politically. See Biden’s Senate record for a detailed list.

    Or how the Democrats demand that everyone stand down and remain perfectly still so that they can win elections. This time, Stacy Abrams and organizers in AZ had other ideas and got down to the shoe leather business of grassroots organizing.

    Not to worry, Biden will piss all of that away as he runs a middling administration that continues to be non-responsive, engendering more right populism, left and right, down the road.

  5. Gorn, you are still shielding and deflecting for Trump. I doubt anyone actually expected such an outrageous action. The Capitol was attacked at the behest of Trump. At first, the Capitol Police were overwhelmed. The actions of those you defend were outrageous. Occupying the Speakerks office, stealing her podium.

    And you make an outrageous claim. Are you suggesting that those who invaded were not right wing extremists? That I am accusing them falsely? ROTFLMAO!

  6. Responsibility for securing the legislative complex rests with the Congress, not the executive, not the DC cops because of separation of powers.

    That the mob was not met with violence is instructive. For a race reductionist, it is all about race. But there was more going on than that.

    Princess Leia: They let us go. It was the only reason for the ease of our escape.
    Han Solo: Easy? You call that easy?
    Princess Leia: They’re tracking us.
    Han Solo: Not this ship, sister.
    Princess Leia: Well at least the information In R2 is still intact.

    Geek Girl’s world where anyone who does not toe each and every one of your lines is a right winger is not much different from the world of Q Anon, only the polarities are reversed.

  7. Gorn, you are a one trick pony. Shilling for the right, and lying about the left. What a total load of crap. Local cops were doing selfies with the assembled whackos. The mob should have been met with the same force that was mustered against BLM at the Lincoln Memorial. I sure it warm your heart that the Capitol was breached and trashed. No one was framed. I cannot believe you are defending traitors. Well, not really surprised, but shocked you are doing it so arrogantly. The right, including you, have mounted a vigorous defense of racism in the wake of George Floyd. Racism was threatened, and had to be defended.

    Sanders stood in the way of Hilary’s coronation and had to be stopped. That helped elect Trump. Hilary was deeply disliked, but was designated as “the one.” The 2015 Democratic primaries were fixed. Hilary would have her dream come and be the first woman President. Too bad she blew it. Your side won that election, but it was immediately obvious, it was a fluke. Trump lost 2020 the day he was inaugurated. He was never above 50% approval. And now, you really can’t deal with his failure. The right is crumbling.

  8. This was my first reaction too. But after my reptilian hind brain had its say, the frontal cortex got to work to figure out what was really going on.

    The only reason why right wing thugs were able to storm the Capitol is because Congressional leadership that has authority over Capitol security enabled them to storm the Capitol.

    Cui bono? The outcomes here are clear. The duopoly had had enough of right wing populism as it began to threaten Their Good Thing. Once the GA Senate races followed AZ and flipped Democrat, corporate Republicans as well had enough. Lindsay Graham is none too pleased that Trump’s tantrum cost him his majority.

    The system attempted to cleanse itself by allowing Trump’s mob to overrun the Capitol, framing them all as seditious.

    The duopoly closed ranks, marginalized the right wing populists, and has signaled its intention to get back to the business of being faithful water carriers for the wealthy without the distractions of Trumpism.

    Of course, this all restores the status quo ante Trump which are the conditions that led to Trump, only this time more limited as Joe Manchin will be the Senate Democrats’ Anthony Kennedy, only more conservative.

    The elites will try to restore that status quo ante, Democrats and Republicans iterating around a set of wedge issues, nibbling around the edges, but never eating the valuable wedge issue seed corn used to rile up the base. But that kicking the can down the road only exacerbates the underlying conditions that led to the rise of populism, left and right.

    Maintaining people in a state of anxiety, telling them they’re being wronged, but never really doing much to change that is the MO of US politics. How many policy wins have Black Lives Matter achieved in seven years?

    The Democrat elites were able to contain left wing populism, violent disruptions of Occupy Wall Street, sabotaging Sanders with do nothing hacks like Jane Kim. But errors of the Republican welcoming in of the Tea Party have now been cured for the moment. So long as government declines to be responsive to popular need, populist rumblings will continue. The longer that goes on, the more intense the populist rumblings will be.

  9. This latest election had the highest turnout in over 100 years to get rid of Trump. Think about this: There was a higher turnout than during World War 1 and 2, the Great Depression, the Vietnam War, and every other event which would stoke voter turnout. That is the good news. People came out in droves, many of whom would not otherwise have bothered with the sole purpose of getting rid of this guy.
    Anyone who wants to take over the government would have to have incredible logistical expertise and a deep understanding of the intricate workings of the Pentagon, the treasury, the Department of Justice, the Federal Reserve and the CIA. Breaking into the capital is not taking over the government. Its a clown show. Not even worth remembering

  10. This wasn’t really an attempted coup. It was a riot from an unruly and unorganized mob. They were unsuccessful. Coups led by fascists always involve military action, this is why fascists always have their own private military.
    Trump called the national guard. If he had asked the national guard to seize control of the capital would they have done this? Probably not. Technically the Commander in Chief controls the military but there is a chain of command and they are trained to follow lawful orders. The generals in the military know Trump is deranged. They are not taking orders from him anymore.
    Law and order will be restored when the adults take control of the government in two weeks, and things will start to get better in this country. The Republican party needs to reboot and organize itself or continue to sink into a death spiral.

  11. I have said, many times, that Trump would end up trying to hang onto power if he lost the election, and I was quite sure he would not win. During his four years in office, he never got even 50% approval. That is unheard of. He won election on a fluke. Hilary wanted to run up the popular vote, assuming she had the electoral vote, and she was wrong. It was obvious, she did not want to win like Bill did. He never got an actual majority. In fact, the first time he was elected, he got the same percentage of votes as Dukakis. He did a little better the next time, but was still less than 50%. That haunted him. He did not have a mandate. Hilary got her “mandate, but it did her no good. Trump wanted a mandate, and proof that he was “popular,” but he got neither, and this election, he lost totally. This was like a bad movie, or some of the political thrillers that were so popular in the Seventies. But this was stranger than fiction. Andrew Jackson defied the Supreme Court and took the Cherokee lands. The Supreme Court ruled in the tribe’s favor, and Jackson said “Let the Chief Justice try to enforce the ruling.” That was, until Trump, who admired Jackson and considered him his favorite president, proved even worse. Andrew Jackson was the first war criminal in the White House. Trump is the first outright traitor.

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