Tag Archive: the Capitol insurrection

Plague diaries, Day 300

Thursday night. The 300th day of my lockdown. Yay anniversary.

So, I am an idiot… I was slowly reading my way through the book I recently mentioned (The Disaster Diaries by Sam Sheridan) when I stumbled on a strange passage. It claimed that it takes just 80-120 hours of training to become an EMT, as opposed to 1,200-1,800 hours to become a paramedic. This entire time, all these years and decades, I just assumed EMT was a fancy term for paramedic. I thought the lowest entry point into medicine included training for two or three years… Had I known that you can get in with just a month or two of training, I would have done that many years ago. Before Seattle, maybe even before college, before everything.

I want to send a note to my 18-year-old self: “Become an EMT. Buy Tesla, Amazon, Bitcoin.” I think in that alternative timeline, my other self would’ve had a far more exciting and adventurous life, one with zero student loans (which took eight years to repay) and with much greater return on investment. Heh. Well, the upside here is that I’m still young-ish – I’m 34, so a lot of doors are still open. (But really, this door would likely stay open even if I were 44 or 64.) Definitely something to consider for when I quit the rat race, spend a few years just relaxing and catching up on life, and then maybe, just maybe, develop that unnatural urge to work full-time again. (I’m guessing after about four years of procrastination.)

Speaking of ages: the landlords’ son turned 17 today. One major advantage of being a geek is that there’s always some fun stuff you can use as an emergency present. In this case, I gave the birthday boy a cool-looking piece of petrified wood that I bought from an amateur geologist back in Washington state for about $3 back in 2018. He seemed to like it. Incidentally, my landlady refused to believe I’m 34 – this whole time, she thought I was about 25. I guess there are some definite benefits when you stay out of the sun and don’t smoke!

The news today is a nightmare… Every time I check it, there’s something new and strange and horrifying. The female terrorist who got shot yesterday was a QAnon cultist. In a dark twist of irony, she’d recently retweeted a message saying that traitors deserve to be shot. That is some dark, dark humour: yet again, the bizarre twists happening in this wild story we’re all stuck in would’ve seemed too weird and contrived in a work of fiction. Three other terrorists died of undisclosed medical emergencies. (Heart attacks? Something else?) And one cop died from his injuries: a terrorist hit his head with a fire extinguisher. What an insane way to go…

Trump spent 24 hours in the radio silence mode before releasing what was essentially a two-minute hostage video where he mindlessly read out the text in front of him. He did not actually say that he concedes the election, but he did say that Biden would take over on January 20. The video was oddly spliced, as if he’d started ranting and they had to do multiple takes. And even so, he still couldn’t get it right: at the end, he told his supporters he loves them, and said that it’s just the beginning. He literally had one job, and he couldn’t even do that.

A lot of politicians, including at least one Republican congress-critter, demanded the 25th Amendment action. Pence has not complied, or at least not yet. Several cabinet members have resigned, possibly because they don’t want to have to make that choice, so they’re taking the easier way out. Reports claim that Trump and Pence stopped talking to each other after Pence certified Biden’s election yesterday. The US is ruled by petulant children. (I started typing “We are ruled” but then I remember I’m not with them anymore, and smiled.) Nancy Pelosi has threatened Trump with a new impeachment vote if the 25th Amendment isn’t enacted. I hope she does that. That would put all the senate Republicans on the spot.

In the media, some are already starting to weave a narrative that the terrorists were just some random anarchists, or that they only stormed the Capitol because they were upset by the general state of things. (Just gotta disregard all the “MAGA” and “Trump” flags, I guess.) What’s far more disturbing is the emerging picture of the police ineptitude. Washington DC is supposed to have the highest concentration of police and federal forces in the nation, yet there were none. (Some cynics on Twitter are asking why people would expect to see police and rioters in the same place; that’s like asking Miley Cyrus if she’d seen Hannah Montana anywhere, or asking Clark Kent why he’s never seen together with Superman.) Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security hadn’t done any threat assessment on the planned anti-Capitol rally.

That doesn’t explain, however, why the National Guard hadn’t been deployed when the desperate Capitol staffers called for it. That also doesn’t explain why some members of the Capitol Hill police force gently helped the insurrectionists get down the stairs when they decided to leave, or why some of them posed for selfies with terrorists, or why some of them gave those terrorists directions to Chuck Schumer’s office when they asked where it was. (Schumer is the highest-ranking Democrat in the senate.) There is footage of some cops who engaged in hand-to-hand combat with terrorists. There is also footage of some decidedly bizarre behaviour on their colleagues’ part. So far, several high-ranking police officials (sergeants-at-arms, etc) have resigned. Good start…

Right now, as I type this, there’s an emergency situation in Washington DC. A 7-foot fence (which is supposedly impossible to scale) has been set up around the Capitol, and men with machine guns (feds? National Guard?) are directing people away from it. Some fear follow-up attacks from the emboldened terrorists. Apparently, one of the laptops stolen from the Capitol contained highly classified information, and there’s a manhunt underway, as more of these terrorists are identified and named. It’s a little bit funny: since they didn’t believe in the utility of face masks during this plague, they got their faces on tape. (It doesn’t help that some of them livestreamed their shenanigans.) That makes them fairly easy to identify… One of those geniuses still had his work badge on a lanyard around his neck, and online sleuths have spent the last 24 hours identifying as many as they can. The FBI has asked for people’s assistance in identifying the traitors, and a whole lot of people sent them pictures of Trump. Heh.

There is so much going on right now… We all thought this year would be easy, or at least easier. Just one week in, and there’s already the kind of madness you’d typically only see in fringe political novels. This is insane. Absolutely, irredeemably insane. The overlap of my waking time and my screen time is more or less a perfect circle right now. (I listen to classic music instead of news podcasts when I shower, but that’s about it.) It’s strange to wonder if the world will still be the same by the time I wake up.

In covid news, there was yet another all-time-high day in the US. Either 3,800 or 4,000 deaths, depending which source you believe. The official toll in the US right now is approximately 365,000.

Stay safe, y’all.

Plague diaries, Day 299

Wednesday night.

Well, there’s no polite way to put this: there was an attempted coup in the United States earlier today. An angry mob of Trump fans breached the small Capitol police perimeter and invaded the US Capitol. They were waving assorted flags: US, Confederate, Gadsden, MAGA, etc. I believe the Nazi flag was the only one they weren’t openly waving, though I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a few of them had neo-Nazi tattoos.

All the congress-critters got safely evacuated while the domestic terrorists broke inside the inner chambers, snapped pictures at the podium, vandalized congressional offices, stole Pelosi’s mail, and in at least one case walked away carrying a podium. There was no National Guard: Washington DC’s detachment responds to the Defense Department. They did not get called. The first National Guard units were sent by Virginia. This was the first time in over two centuries a key federal building got invaded. The last time was in the war of 1812, when the British stomped all over the capital and set the first White House on fire.

A woman was shot and died after being taken to the ICU. She was one of the domestic terrorists invading the Capitol. She was a 35-year-old who spent 14 years in the Air Force. She was a business owner in San Diego. She was also a terrorist, but that’s not quite how the media is describing her, at least right now. The circumstances of her shooting are unknown right now, but technically it was a suicide. She made a series of really bad choices that ended with her rushing into the Capitol building and getting shot. Like all the rest of us, earlier today she’d woken up, brushed her teeth, had some breakfast, and then ran off to overthrow the government, thousands of miles away from home. I hope she doesn’t get turned into some sort of right-wing martyr.

Incidentally, most of the insurrectionists did not get arrested: they walked away without a scratch. Some of them had guns. Later on, the police found and defused explosive devices in a vehicle parked nearby. Just a few months ago, some storm-troopers used tear gas to disperse some hippies in order to stage a church photo op for Trump. If BLM protesters had done something even remotely like what we saw today, they would’ve been killed. As it was, there was no tear gas, there were no rubber-coated rounds shot at protesters’ faces (several people went blind during the summer protests when that happened to them), and there were no cops riding their bicycles over fallen rioters’ heads. (Seattle’s police did that while being filmed.) There was absolutely nothing done against the terrorists. If there is a better example of white privilege and double standard in the United States, I can’t think of it.

Earlier, Trump had fueled the flame and incited people to come to the Capitol. When the chaos broke out in mid-afternoon, the only message from Trump was a short recorded video in which he made the perfunctory plea for the MAGA mob to go home, and prefaced and followed that statement with more complaints that the election was somehow stolen and it was very unfair. He ended that rant by saying “we love you, you’re very special.” In other words, he made things even worse. Facebook and YouTube removed that video. Twitter disabled the likes, replies, and retweets, waffled a little, and then took it down as well. They also locked Trump’s account for 12 hours. That’s an interesting change of pace from their earlier, pre-election strategy, which was to allow Trump to say whatever he wants because he brought a lot of traffic to their platform. Ho hum.

The congress-critters went back to the Capitol after it finally got secured by the authorities (it helped that the city set up a 6pm curfew), gave a lot of speeches, and voted to throw out the ridiculous objections about the election fraud. (Which no one had been able to find.) Some of the senators gave beautiful speeches. Some of the saboteurs who claimed they changed their minds still sounded mighty passive-aggressive, even as they said they’re withdrawing their objections.

There are rumours that Trump’s cabinet is finally discussing the 25th Amendment option: the VP and the cabinet can remove the sitting president if they believe the president is unable to serve. Since there are just two weeks to go, Trump wouldn’t be able to appeal and take back the power, even if the congress-critters were on his side. (They are not.) If they actually do this, this will be the first time this provision is enacted. But then again, there are have been a lot of firsts… Before Trump, none of the epidemiological simulations even considered a scenario where the sitting president would actively sabotage the CDC’s efforts. Before today, none of the law enforcement trained for a scenario where they have to storm the Capitol and remove redneck revolutionaries. What other strange unprecedented things will we encounter in the months to come?..

The Capitol will be cleaned up pretty soon. Blood stains will be removed. But the impact of it all… The videos, the pictures, the testimonials will live on. Tactically, this is a wakeup call for the right wingers. But strategically, and far more importantly, this will be priceless ammunition for the countries that want to disparage democracy. All they’ll have to do is run all that footage and say, “Is this what you actually want? Just look at them!” More seriously, this shows a huge security vulnerability. The terrorists who got away with it this time will be encouraged to try again and again. (Just like those heavily armed Oregon rednecks who won stand-offs against the feds on several occasions.) If you don’t punish them the first time, you’re essentially inviting them to keep trying until they succeed. This mob was more chaotic than violent, but this is a proof of concept. A group of 30 or so armed rednecks will be able to break in and start public executions if they really want. (This is not a hyperbole: after today, nothing is a hyperbole.)

I am glad I left… If you’re reading this, here in January 2021 or in the future, and if you’re annoyed by my frequent digs at the United States, know this. I don’t hate America. I love America. I fear what America is becoming.

By now, right-wing politicians and media have realized what they’ve done with all their misinformation and incitements to violence. These violent delights have violent ends… There are two possibilities. They will either wake up, stop the misinformation madness, and try to reel in their insane radicalization of their own voters – or they will not. If they try to put the genie back into the bottle, they will either succeed or not. I doubt they’ll be successful: systems have momentum. The mob that stormed the Capitol today will not get de-radicalized – in their eyes, it’s a victory. They successfully stormed one of the key US buildings, they essentially defeated the entire bloated Homeland Security apparatus, they got away with only one casualty and virtually no arrests, and they took a lot of souvenirs. Even decades from now, they’ll brag about this day to their grandkids. (I don’t know how many rioters there were. Definitely hundreds, possibly thousands.) Today, the barbarians succeeded. There’s no incentive for them to retreat or get back to the political mainstream. Systems have momentum, and this loco locomotive will be unlikely to stop. Somewhere out there, there will always be conspiracy sites and far-right-wing outlets giving them all the propaganda they can handle. If there’s money to be made, somebody will cater to them.

Biden’s election got certified in Congress today – good for him. His inauguration will be in two weeks. Will the domestic terrorists try to do the same thing? At this point, there’s really no way to know.

In covid news, Japan is still trying to find a way to host the Olympics. They got postponed from 2020 to 2021, and it’s not looking so good right now… Cases are spiking in Tokyo. Somehow, Japan has managed to not have any lockdowns thus far. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is considering declaring a state of emergency to bring the cases down in time for the Olympics, which will take place in late July-early August. I would be very surprised if they can actually pull this off. It’s not impossible, but it’ll be a huge logistical feat to keep everyone safe. It’s pretty clear that the stadiums won’t be packed…

I’ll go to bed in about an hour or so. I have no idea what will happen in my former country overnight. Will Trump be impeached and actually convicted this time around? Will his cabinet finally grow a spine and depose him with the 25th amendment? Will key officials resign in protest and/or in disgrace? There’s just no way of knowing: after today, anything can happen…

Oh, and almost forgot: both of the Democrats won their races in Georgia yesterday, though by very narrow margins. They are the first Black man and Jewish man ever elected to represent Georgia. Democrats will have control of the senate, and will actually be able to pass legislation and stimulus bills, at least until the 2022 election, due to their trifecta control of the House, the senate, and the White House. So there’s some good news after all, eh.

Good night, y’all.