Chris Lemler | January 6, 2021
Protesters are just piling in at the capitol building. I think these people need help. Trump told them to come out and protest and this is what it turns out to be. They are breaking windows breaking through the police to get in the building. This whole thing is completely out of hand. Trump is now saying go home he wants a peaceful protest but they are going to stay. I don't know how people can do this to our capitol. This is very unacceptable and doing destruction to a federal building. They should be arrested or some need to be shot. I hope that these people leave peaceful but in my eyes Trump did this to himself. What are peoples thoughts on this whole takeover by the protesters at the capitol building?

Steve West | January 6, 2021
Speaking from ground zero + 10, it defies rational thought. That seems to define this administration. When the protests in Portland got Trump's attention, he created the Executive Order that made it a crime subject to ten years imprisonment for destruction of Federal property. The Federal courthouse in Portland was his pretense to establish "law and order". That was when the protestors were demanding justice for racial inequity. Now that the protestors are ostensibly on his side, arguably acting upon his direction, that Executive Order is being ignored. He is shameless, criminally minded, craven and lawless when viewing himself. January 20 won't solve the problems he's fostered and/or created but it begins then. All four years during the Biden presidency will be well-spent undoing every bit of harm to our country and Constitution done by this violently insane monster.

Scott Hardie | January 6, 2021
I started the day early with this news, part of an increasing trend towards anti-democratic moves by an emboldened Republican party, and part of what is for me the heart-breaking sight of our American democracy tearing itself apart in slow motion. After stewing about that for several hours, I was fed up with feeling angry, and told myself to cancel my news subscriptions and stop reading the news for good, because it wasn't going to do anything but make me angry.

*Then*, D.C. happened.

I have all kinds of feelings about everything that happened today. Trump is a treasonous cancer upon this country and I agree completely with the calls to impeach him immediately. The rioters seemed to have way too much free run of the Capitol building, as if the police were holding back; what happened to the cops from liberal protests, who wear full riot gear while spraying sitting protesters in the face with tear gas? The Republicans like Hawley and Cruz who announced their intentions to object to the counting of electoral votes today are partially to blame for this mess, but they don't deserve to be threatened with violence; no one does.

Ridding ourselves of Trump is only part of the problem. We must also rid ourselves of the misinformation and disinformation that made Trump's candidacy viable and that fueled all kinds of nonsense including today's riot. How do we accomplish that without trampling free speech? It seems to me that there are at least two viable remedies: First, we restore the fairness doctrine, without which right-wing media like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News have been free to spew made-up falsehoods unchallenged. If you're going to use airwaves that belong to the public, you have a civic responsibility to treat controversial matters fairly. Second, we put the same requirements for truthfulness on political speech that currently exist on commercial speech. Apple cannot claim that its latest iPhone cures cancer without facing criminal liability; public officials and declared candidates for office should be held to the same standard. That would still leave all sorts of Q-grade nonsense floating around the web, but at least the auto-validating cycle (in which politicians repeat what people on the Internet made up, and people on the Internet then cite the politicians as proof) would be broken. Any other ideas?

Scott Hardie | January 7, 2021
I was going to criticize Chuck Schumer for likening what happened yesterday in D.C. to Pearl Harbor, because sure Chuck, let's equate what eventually amounted to vandalism and the death of four civilian instigators with an international war crime that murdered 2,403 service members and changed the course of world history. But then I went to look up the exact quote from him, and, while I still think that the specific "day that will live in infamy" comparison is not in the best taste, I do think that the rest of Schumer's remarks are on point and worth reading.

Scott Hardie | January 8, 2021
The further we get from Wednesday, the sicker to my stomach I feel.

People want to joke about some of the more ridiculous aspects of what happened, like the man who will be remembered forever as Taserballs (EDIT: not true). And it's natural to use humor to cope with horror. But this isn't funny.

This was a coup attempt on the United States. It was led by the president of the United States, in coordination with multiple federal agencies, with the support of police and federal security agents on the ground. It was planned in advance, coordinated online in plain sight, and barely resisted on the ground as it happened.

The fact that it didn't accomplish anything material means little. As one protester wrote in a message to Nancy Pelosi, these people are not going to stop. Not only are they armed, paranoid, perpetually angry, hyper-patriotic, and lost in a fantasy world of make-believe, but they are now completely disenfranchised. For someone who no longer believes in the validity of elections, there's no other way to have power than to seize it.

There will be more violence. This article spells out what to expect as this escalates. It will eventually end in a successful coup, because there's no other possible outcome.

Well, there is one: The people of the United States and their elected representatives could stamp it out. There would have to be arrests, convictions, and harsh sentences for Trump, his administration officials, every last state employee who participated in this or future assaults on democracy, and the civilians who participated, whether they acted, planned, or merely facilitated. In other words, potentially thousands of people. It would have to be the mass crackdown/roundup that conservatives have long feared from liberals. A very harsh rejection of these anti-democratic ideas, with the full-throated support of the American people, is the only other way to end this.

Does that seem likely to you? We as a people clearly don't have the stomach for it. Since the president of the United States attempted a coup two days ago, the speaker of the house has first "threatened impeachment if the 25th Amendment is not activated" (per yesterday's NY Times headlines) and then "threatened impeachment if Trump doesn't resign immediately" (per today's). When asked about what to do with Trump, Biden deferred to Pelosi. Is anyone going to do anything about this?

We are so screwed.

Erik Bates | January 8, 2021
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Samir Mehta | January 8, 2021
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Scott Hardie | January 8, 2021
I don't think the Republicans can separate themselves from the Trumpists at this point, because I don't think there is a Republican party any more. The GOP used to stand for specific key principles, but in recent years they have abandoned all pretense of having values (literally) and instead turned into a race to the right. The only thing that matters for a GOP figure now is to demonstrate ideological purity by being as far to the right as possible; otherwise they're declared a RINO and despised equally with liberals. Mike Pence was a target in Wednesday's coup attempt for perceived disloyalty to Trump, and if Mike fucking Pence is not far right enough for you, holy shit. At some point Trump will show weakness or say something insufficiently extreme and they'll turn on him too. There don't seem to be any brakes on this runaway train.

Scott Hardie | January 8, 2021
Erik, I agree that a mass crackdown would intensify the situation, but what other way is there? Waiting for this to cool off on its own is not working. The fire is spreading. To be clear, I don't propose that the government merely crack down on conspirators on its own; I propose that we the people demand, loudly and clearly, that they crack down. Doing it without the overwhelming support of the people would represent the very tyranny that the right fears. But I doubt that the overwhelming support of the people is possible to achieve in this case. :-(

Samir Mehta | January 8, 2021
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Scott Hardie | January 9, 2021
75% of Republicans say that they do not believe that Joe Biden won the election. I don't imagine most of them taking up arms over it, but if someone else used anti-democratic means to "correct" the outcome and install Trump in power for longer, I wouldn't expect much outcry from them.

For some time now, we've been struggling as a people with this misinformation problem. The lies have been little and mostly harmless things like whether Epstein killed himself or JFK Jr. is still alive; the anti-vaccine movement was the most dangerous that it got for a while. But the idea that a national election has been stolen by fraud and a president has been installed illegally is highly alarming. If I believed it, I know that *I* would be outraged! I wouldn't take up arms and storm the capitol (I'm in no shape for that!), but I'd do everything within my limited means to resist the illegitimate government, and I'd welcome any chance to remove the crooks and restore true democracy to the nation. So, I don't blame people at all for feeling upset about the "stolen" election; their emotional reaction is understandable. I blame them for buying into nonsense and lies in the first place, and for spreading the misinformation without proof or verification, and in some cases for taking personal advantage of it (ie. Ted Cruz). The reach and scope of this misinformation is one of the biggest problems that we have right now, and we're not going to solve our other problems until we figure out how to reduce it. Considering that every attempt by social networks to so much as flag a statement as possibly untrue is met with outrage over "censorship," it's not going to be easy.

When it comes to the election results, I'm getting very tired of no conclusion being good enough for some people. How many more recounts do you need, how many audits, how many certifications? I have friends who are utterly convinced of fraud because election officials in one state refused to do another recount after already doing several. "It's proof that they're in on it! What are they hiding! If there wasn't any fraud, they'd allow another recount!" What garbage reasoning. There has to be a certain point where there are enough recounts, right? We as a society drew a line that constitutes enough counting, and we continued doing recounts beyond that point to mollify doubters, but we cannot do them forever. I have all kinds of reasons to loathe Ted Cruz this week, but his proposal to delay inauguration for ten days while we do a nationwide audit is pointless, because if that audit turns up zero fraud like every other verification of the election results so far, it will just be followed by demands for another audit, and another, forever. How many times did Congress launch another investigation of Benghazi even though no wrongdoing was ever found in any of them? "People doubt the results" cannot be the basis for an audit because no amount of counting will satisfy some people; only actual, verified, non-debunked evidence of fraud is acceptable cause to proceed, and there isn't any, as Trump's failed court challenges have thoroughly demonstrated.

Scott Hardie | January 19, 2021
I'm getting very tired of hearing about January 6 described as the sole coup attempt by Trump. No:

- He interfered with elections prior to November, restricting USPS capacity and pressuring states to pass laws banning counting ballots after election night.

- He declared premature victory on election night, then argued for days that any further counting of legal votes was "stealing" the election.

- He ordered his attorneys into court with fraudulent claims & evidence in an attempt to get sympathetic judges to turn things his way.

- He illegally pressured state election officials and his own vice president to break the law themselves and declare a false winner.

Depending on how you count it, January 6 was either one of many coup attempts, or part of a much longer campaign to steal power. But it was not an isolated incident. It's not like Trump was a model democratic citizen until that morning. Please stop ignoring the rest of Trump's anti-democratic crimes just because this was the most dramatic one.

(I know that autocoup or autogolpe is the more technically accurate term here, but I'm using coup as a broad term meaning a strike against the democratic state.)

Erik Bates | January 19, 2021
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