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Contrition Comes First

The country needs to unite. We need to set aside the conflicts of the past and work as one to move the nation forward.

Um, no. Absolutely not. Not at all. At least, not yet.

We’ve just been through a significant traumatic experience. We’ve had an armed insurrection, a violent incursion into the U.S. Capitol, and the attempted kidnapping and murder of our senior-most elected officials, including the Vice President of the United States. The 45th President just led a campaign of not only lies, but of broadcasted hatred, lasting four full years of his term. We still have threats against the government and the people, from inside the country and, quite likely, amongst the ranks of the military, law enforcement, the federal government, and elsewhere. Unity is not possible right now.

Time for some brutal honesty. Our very society is broken: horribly, horribly broken. These travesties are not symptoms of some mild disagreements, differences in policies or dogma. Divides like these don’t come from tax codes or health care plans, they come from anger and hatred and manipulation and dishonesty. These are serious behavioral problems, and have less in common with public policy debate, and more in common with alcoholism, cultic thought, and spousal abuse. I’ve had personal experience with the first two, and know far too many who’ve had experience with the third. The parallels are glaringly obvious.

Addicts

One thing about alcoholics is true from case to case: they cannot meet any commitment. They cannot be trusted. Always with broken promises. Couldn’t get to work on time; couldn’t go to the Little League game; couldn’t remember your birthday or your anniversary or what day of the week it is. Everything they do or touch is compromised. They are dragged down by their addiction, every action they take is in service of their addiction, and through their inability to do jack squat, they drag down the entire family or entire company or whatever they touch. We’ve just had four years of a president who is addicted to himself, with all the corresponding behaviors of an addict: promises broken, a broken government, a fractured society, and 400,000 dead from a plague that would have been better handled by practically anyone with any level of competence whatsoever. The level of failure by the outgoing administration is outrageous and disgusting.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/its-kind-of-like-an-addiction-on-the-road-with-trumps-rally-diehards-11567762200

Cults

Belonging to cults warps one’s thought process. Cults feed their members lies, lies intended to manipulate their actions to the benefit of their mad philosophies or charismatic leaders. They also develop their own lingo, working to isolate their members from their family, friends, and general society. They convince their adherents that all others are “lesser people”, that they are not “worthy” of “understanding” the “truth”. They are taught not to trust what other people tell them, to disregard experts, and to especially mistrust the press. Cults do this to convince their members that only they are special, that only they matter, as long as “they” serve the Greater Purpose. This is horribly disruptive to families, friendships, societies, and, ultimately, to the adherents themselves. We’ve just seen the result of cultic thought amongst a wide swath of society, leading to violence, assault, and attempted murder. Five people are dead. That’s where cultic thought leads.

Cult Experts Warn That Trumpism Is Starting to Look Awfully Familiar

Abusers

Abusive spouses are the worst of the lot. Beyond the physical violence endemic in such relationships, they are also well versed in manipulative tactics. They continually gaslight, and trivialize, and deny. They divert and dissuade and obfuscate. Everything is “your fault”. “You’re” too stupid to understand, and only “they” know what’s best. You must obey them, even to your own detriment, because they are worthier than you. Everything they do or say is so they stay in power, so they come out on top, so they get what they want, while you sacrifice your own hopes and dreams and even your humanity. They do it out of disgusting selfishness. We’ve seen four years of this very behavior from the very top, and we’re seeing the results now.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/25/trump-trauma-experts-abusive-relationship

Contrition Comes First

In all three cases, there is one thing that’s not possible, and that’s forgiveness, or unity. Sure, you may get some apologies, but these are shallow platitudes. You may get some promises to change, but these will be forgotten. You may receive pleas of forgiveness, but forgiveness is undeserved, because the pleas have no substance. They are diversions and distractions, meant to calm the situation, but the perpetrators will return to their old ways within a matter of days. I’ve seen it, this is what happens, over and over and over again.

What must come first is true contrition. Contrition is, first and foremost, an admission of guilt, an acknowledgement of what one has done, of the wrongs one has committed, of the lies one has told. In this case, there has to be an admission that there was no steal. The election was as free and fair as any we have had. There was no significant fraud. Donald J. Trump lost. He lost because he was a terrible president and hated by the majority of the voting public. That is a fact. There is no conspiracy, no deep state, no secret source known as Q. It’s all crap, a fabrication, a game. A game meant to anger and antagonize and divide, just to give miscreants and criminals an opportunity to seize power or line their own pockets. If you want unity, then first admit what was done was wrong, disavow this misanthropic nonsense, and stop supporting this narcissistic madman and his band of skeezy enablers.

The next step of contrition is to begin to act like decent human beings. Then ask for forgiveness.

Then, perhaps, we can have unity.

[I was going to post some photos of the riots to accentuate the point, but I couldn’t bring myself to do so.]

President-Elect Joseph P. Biden, I am begging you. You must cancel the inauguration ceremonies set for January 20th. It is not safe. The District of Columbia has been compromised, and is at risk for further insurrection. 

This doesn’t come from a position of paranoia or conspiracy. It comes from rudimentary risk assessment methodology. There are so many red flags surrounding the inauguration itself, and the fundamental security of the District of Columbia, they cannot be ignored.

Risk #1: Extant Insurrectionist Threats

The attack on the capitol on Jan. 6th was the result of well-coordinated efforts involving thousands of radicals. In the weeks after the election, these individuals have been planning meet-ups, advising on equipment, coordinating timeframes, and discussing tactics. There is clear-and-present information in publicly-accessible social networking sites, forums, and message board channels. This activity has escalated since the 6th, and the focus has now shifted to Inauguration Day. These are extant threats, by individuals still on the loose, or perhaps not involved in the incident on the 6th, but standing by for the next one. As of this writing, there have been less than 60 arrests, yet there were undoubtably more than 60 individuals who broke into the Capitol. The threat is still out there.

Risk #2: Extant Threats of Serious Violence

These are not just threats of mayhem or vandalism. These are threats against the lives of public officials, not just yourself and Vice President Elect Harris, but threats against specific members of Congress, Democrats in general, even against the current Vice President, Mr. Pence. These attackers were equipped with firearms, improvised explosive devices, even police-style temporary restraints. These individuals want to kidnap or kill elected officials, or anyone who supports the Democratic Party, voted for your ticket, or generally opposes their radical agenda.

Risk #3: Failures of Official Security Assessments

It is plainly obvious that the security of the Capitol Building failed. At best, the Capitol Police did not understand the risks associated with the protests occurring in the District on Jan. 6, and were unprepared to meet those challenges. In and of itself, this lack of incorrect security assessment is deeply troubling. Similar to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the nation was grossly unprepared. There is no possibility that any of the responsible parties can correct this issue by Jan. 20.

Risk #4: Likely Compromise of the Capitol Police

There is enough anecdotal evidence today to suggest that some officers within the Capitol Police collaborated with the insurrection. There are videos showing police officers opening barricades, standing down from their posts, giving directions to infiltrators, and even taking selfies with trespassers. There have even been reports that off-duty officers of police departments were involved in the trespass. There is not enough time to thoroughly investigate these anecdotes, gather up evidence, have hearings, and take proper disciplinary and criminal action. Perhaps these officers acted appropriately, perhaps we are misinterpreting images and videos. However, in terms of a security assessment, it must be assumed the Capitol Police is compromised until it can be proven otherwise.

Risk #5: Likely Compromise of the U.S. Army Chain of Command

D.C. and Capitol officials, and officials in Maryland and Virginia, have all made statements that the response of the National Guard was slow, even initially refused, when the insurrection began. This suggests serious problems within the Pentagon and the Army. At a minimum, the lack of any staging of National Guard troops in the event that something did occur represents gross negligence of security assessors and of the chain of command. As before, investigations should reveal the truth. In the interim, however, there is reason to mistrust the U.S. military brass to perform their roles to protect the District of Columbia from further violence.

Risk #6: Members of Congress Might Be Collaborators

It is clear some members of Congress actively promoted, inspired, or supported these attacks by repeating claims of election fraud regardless of evidence. Some Senators and House members spoke at the rallies just prior to the violence at the Capitol. These same Members of Congress, and their staffs, receive a number of briefings on security processes in place at the Capitol, within the District, and within the military itself. Each member of Congress who directly advocated for violence; supported conspiracy theories regarding the election, the federal government, or members of Congress; or otherwise provided sympathy or comfort to the insurrectionist enemy, must be considered a risk for leaking security measures and procedures. Again, from a security risk assessment perspective, the entire Congress must be suspect until proven otherwise.

Risk #7: The Command-in-Chief is an Insurrectionist and a Conspirator

President Donald J. Trump has directly influenced these insurrectionists. That much is abundantly clear. This means that the very person who is ultimately responsible for security within the District, and for any U.S. Military support, has encouraged, enabled, and sanctified the violence that occurred in the Capitol on the 6th. Mr. Trump is also currently responsible for your personal safety, and the safety of all who attend the Inauguration in person on the 20th. The people in charge today are his direct appointments, and ultimately take their orders from him. This is the largest risk of all, and puts the entire operation under deep suspicion.

Responsibility Over Messaging

Mr. Biden, in light of all the uncertainty surrounding the security measures extant in the District of Columbia, you must cancel any inauguration proceedings. The U.S. Constitution only requires you to take the Oath of Office. This can be done anywhere. Stay in Delaware, have a small group of trusted witnesses, and broadcast the event on a wide variety of media platforms for public consumption. You must do this.

Some may think this would be an act of cowardice, and would show to the insurrectionists that they have won. I strongly disagree. This is an act of prudence. It is foolishness to walk blindly into an insecure area and declare “bravery”. In the aftermath of 9/11, there was an urge to return life to normal. We responded by locking down airports, calling up troops, and patrolling the skies. Then we declared that “the terrorists have not won.” This is an entirely different situation. The enemy is amongst us, indistinguishable. There are no TSA checkpoints in the way; there are no passports to check. The enemy is within the very citizenry, something I had hoped to never see in my lifetime. There is no level of action that can be taken in the next 11 days to correct the risks I have listed. Canceling the inaugural events would not be cowardice, it would be sensible, and smart, and responsible. It is the only wise choice to make.

This can be messaged properly to the American people. You can be very clear: you cannot guarantee the safety of the attendees because the current occupant of the office is an insurrectionist, and anything he was involved in cannot be trusted at this time. A full investigation across the breadth and depth of the federal government, including the Armed Forces chains of command, must be and will be undertaken during your administration, in order to provide for the security of the country for the next inauguration.

Please, I’m begging you. Cancel any inaugural festivities. Take the oath in a different location, maybe the 1st Delaware Volunteer Infantry Regiment monument in Gettysburg would be appropriate. We’ll understand. 

I’d also advise you to not move into the White House for a while, until people you trust can search it thoroughly. But that is a topic for another post.

Yesterday’s events at the U.S. Capitol were shocking, but not surprising. The Era of Trump had no other possible conclusion. He is a man of no integrity, and it is not a surprise that his followers would have none as well. 

He is also a wannabe tyrant, and this is exactly how tyranny works:

  • Defame, degrade, accuse, allege.
  • Inflate then demonize then attack the powerless. Attack the press, attack the scientists, attack institutions of learning, attack the arts.
  • Form your own press. Form your own facts. Make your own culture. Indoctrinate the children to your views.
  • Foment distrust, then foment conspiracy, then foment protest, then foment violence.
  • Then ascend to true, dictatorial power.

This has been the pattern throughout the post-monarchial age. It’s the new way to form tyranny, replacing the royal inbreeding of yore. Pol Pot, Benito Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, and a slew of African, South American, Asian, and Eastern European dictators followed the the same pattern, with only slight variations, over and over and over again. Millions have died, billions have been oppressed, as a result. Fascism is a horrible thing to behold, and leaves terrible scars.

But it’s all over now. We won, democracy won, it’s over.

Um, no.

Watching yesterday’s domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, I was reminded of November 9, 1923 and the Munich Putsch, known to Americans as the Beer Hall Putsch. Two thousand Nazis marched on the city, but were stopped by police in a violent clash. 16 Nazis were killed, Adolph Hitler was arrested, and other conspirators fled to the hills.

Munich Marienplatz (Wikipedia)

Everyone thought it was over. Ten years later, Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany.

So what happened? Oof, so much.

The penalties for these criminal activities were woefully light. A number of judges involved were Nazi sympathizers and wanted leniency. Hitler was only sentenced to five years in prison, the lightest punishment for such an offense per German law. In the end, he only served 8 months, being released on good behavior, and many others were released outright or served light sentences.

Hitler used his time in court to espouse his philosophies, to the delight of allied judges. His remarks received extensive coverage in the newspapers. He likely gained more followers in his trial than if he just slunk into the shadows. The Putsch was a great propaganda victory for the Nazi Party, accelerating their position in national discourse.

The Nazis killed in the Putsch were treated as martyrs for the cause. They were idolized. Mein Kampf was dedicated to their memory. An annual march (held, ironically, every 9/11, due to the way Europeans write calendar dates) was held in their honor, right up until the fall of the Third Reich. These deaths became a catalyst for cultic indoctrination into the Nazi Party.

All of this happened during an era of great economic challenge for Germany. WWI reparations posed a heavy burden, most directly in terms of hyperinflation. Things were bad for the German people, and financial hardships led to discontent, distrust, and contempt for leadership. This made the climate ripe for the rise of a fascist state.

If one were to put this into a mathematical formula, it would resemble Martyrdom + Propaganda + Economic Failure – Justice = Tyranny. There are obviously deeper and broader factors, but this is a close approximation.

Capitol Putsch (unknown Twitter source)

What does this mean for the United States of America and our current situation? It means we cannot take this lightly. It means we must apply the appropriate level of honest justice to every piece of this seditionist, MAGA movement.

— Those who refused to follow the orders of law enforcement, committed acts of violence against law enforcement, trespassed onto the capitol grounds, committed acts of vandalism or theft on capitol grounds, made threats of violence toward sitting members of Congress, or acts of seditious conspiracy per Title 18, must be found, arrested, and dutifully tried for the appropriate crimes. This must be a nationwide manhunt, involving law enforcement and the court systems within jurisdictions across the country, within the auspices of the law. These individuals must not be left free or given lenient sentences for convenience. Follow the letter of the law and due process, hold trials, and assign the appropriate punishments per existing statutes. There must not be any plea bargains for the convenience of the court, this is a serious matter and must be treated seriously.

— Speaking of law enforcement, there is concerning evidence that police and sheriff’s departments across the country are sympathetic to seditionist causes, or employ white supremacists (the core of this movement). This is not to say that all cops are bad, it is to say that there is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest something is seriously wrong. One need look no further than the difference in response between Black Lives Matter protests and an actual assault on the U.S. Capitol by white rioters. It certainly appears there is dereliction of duty involved, if not in specific response during the incident itself, then in the preparation for what would undoubtedly be a very tense day. Law enforcement agencies must follow up on evidence of collusion or racism by officers, and if it is appropriate, implement the proper correction action including dismissal or referral to criminal prosecution if warranted.

— Anecdotal evidence exists that the U.S. military has also been infiltrated by MAGA sympathizers. The lack of staging of National Guard troops in the District, as a contingency in the event of mass public unrest, is outrageous. It represents an immense failure in judgement at the very least, and suggests it was an intentional act by military commanders or civilian authorities. If there is evidence of intentional actions to prevent appropriate security measures to the U.S. Capitol by members of the Armed Forces, courts martial must be convened.

— Attorneys who have advocated for illegal, improper, or unethical practices or accusations must be held accountable by authoritative bar associations. Bar associations have the authority to regulate the actions of attorneys, and must take actions in these cases. There is a vast difference between ensuring due process for the rights of your client, and using knowledge of the law to circumvent said laws for the profit of yourself or your client. If any attorney has violated the ethics rules of their bar association in support of this movement, they must be disbarred.

— Other civilian authorities must be held accountable if they have worked towards these seditious acts. Whether it’s the Secretary of the Army blocking the staging of National Guard troops, or the Attorney General ordering agents to stand down from a proper investigation, or a media spokesperson blatantly lying to the American people, there needs to be accountability. This could be criminal charges or at least an exposure of their actions to the American people. They must not be let off the hook to become media consultants or lobbyists in the future.

— Donald J. Trump must be impeached. There is no other recourse at this time. Even if he is leaving the White House, there must be a conviction by the duly convened Congress. This would not only prevent him from ever holding elected office again, it would also be a permanent statement in history that his behavior is not to be tolerated. We can never have another President Trump, or else our country is doomed. It would also help to shut him up, stop spouting his garbage, although that would still be a tall order

— Finally, the Executive Branch must be depowered. It is evident that the Presidency has too much authority. Over the decades, the Congress has granted more and more power to the President, giving up their own. This course must be reversed. We need the restoration of checks-and-balances in our federal government. We dodged a very significant bullet, we need to close the gaps before the next tyrant comes along.

This Matters

Now I know what people will say: that I’m advocating a witch hunt. No, I’m not. I am well aware that criminal justice has been used throughout world history to persecute political opponents. That is a tremendously dangerous road to travel, and we must not do that. I am advocating for the use of solid investigatory and evidentiary processes. I’m advocating for the application of appropriate, extant laws, and the enforcement of ethics rules of the various professions. I’m advocating for legal thoroughness. I am also advocating for the harshest possible penalties under those laws, for this is a broad and deep seditious conspiracy against the government of the United States, and not simple vandalism or civil unrest.

This is all necessary. The reality, though, is none of this will be enough. 48% of the voting public supported this administration. That’s a tough pill to swallow. Even if every single MAGA member at the Capitol was arrested and thrown in prison, they represent a tiny fraction of Trump’s support. There needs to be systemic changes elsewhere to fix the problems that led to MAGA. There are legitimate economic concerns across this country, including in the oft-neglected rural communities. Media outlets in this country (and beyond) are failing their duties regarding journalistic integrity to tremendous profits, and that is a nearly impossible nut to crack thanks to the sacredness of the First Amendment. Election interference and voter disenfranchisement are serious problems requiring solutions. Education needs to be fixed, it’s shocking how many people fail to understand basic civics. These are long-term problems caused by long-term neglect, and will not be easy to fix.

Bottom line: we have a choice to make. Do we allow the January 6th attacks on the Capitol to stand, in the hopes that the MAGA movement is a flash in the pan and it will all just “go away”; or do we learn the lessons of the Munich Putsch and put an end to sedition in this country for the next 150 years.

Recap

Let’s review some events from the last few days:

  • TV and cable news channels over-covered the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration. In typical fashion, they dwelt far too long on an unimportant piece of trivia, instead of reporting on the important elements of the ceremony.  This is symptomatic of the standard laziness of most media outlets, and not surprising.

Yet at President Trump’s behest, the official White House press secretary stood in front of the press room … and blatantly lied. He not only lied about something that shouldn’t be important to anybody, but he did so with a level of rage that should be reserved for accusations of treason. Press secretaries don’t do things like that, they are trained to keep their cool under the most trying of situations. Sean Spicer isn’t some newbie, he’s a seasoned veteran of press rooms of all types. But there he is, blatantly lying in the White House briefing room.

So let me get this straight: the federal government is funded by taxpayer dollars. The federal government works for us. The federal government is now being prevented from talking to … us. That’s really what it is. This isn’t “stop talking to the press cuz the press is mean to Trump”, this is the government must stop talking to us. Lots of folks, both Trump supporters and not, hate political correctness and oppression of speech. So we combat that by hiring a guy … who then institutes gag orders on those agencies to stop talking to us? Here you have to ask … why? They won, these agencies aren’t going to make a difference in the coming agenda, they will become the coming agenda whether they like it or not, so why bother silencing them?

  • The White House has reaffirmed their position that millions of people voted illegally in the recent election. No evidence has been presented by any state election officials in any state, Red or Blue, to provide evidence to support this claim; no independent watchdog authority of any persuasion has come forward with any evidence;  and even fellow Republicans have stated there is no evidence of significant voter fraud

Again, why is President Trump even going down this path? His victory was verified, there were no legal challenges, he is President according to the U.S. Constitution and all applicable laws. Yet he continues to manufacture a voter fraud narrative out of whole cloth? For what possible purpose, especially when it would be so much easier to just stop wasting time talking about it and get on with the business of implementing his agenda?

The Question

So now I have to ask that one question I teased in the headline:

Trump supporters: is this really what you signed up for?

I get that you have a lot of complaints with the way things are. The Obama administration actually wasn’t that great. Sure, they had good economic numbers, but those statistics are broad and kinda suck, they don’t really reflect the realities on the ground. There are a lot of regulations that do waste money and hamper job growth (being in IT, I have to deal with Sarbanes-Oxley rules, a large number of which are ineffectual). Urban riots that hit the country in the past few years are certainly bad. The opiate epidemic that has hit many rural counties is horrific. I know I was less than thrilled with our choices this past election. I can definitely see the appeal of massive political change in this country.

But is this really what you wanted? A man so protective of his own image he’ll intentionally lie to the American people; will intentionally muzzle the most unimportant of administrative departments; and will manufacture “facts” out of whole cloth just to give him legitimacy?

I really want to know. I just don’t get it.