Simulacra and Simulation
They Were Out for Blood
It's easy to think of the siege of the U.S. Capitol as a clown show with accidentally deadly consequences. [...] Those rioters, the bozos, were the ones who talked to the press, who waved gleefully to photographers, who selfied and streamed the entire afternoon, without even a thought that there might ever be consequences. They were doing it for the 'gram, and their story overwhelms the narrative because their faces and voices dominated the day.
But there were other rioters inside the Capitol, if you look at the images. And once you see them, it's impossible to look away. The zip-tie guys.
Call the zip ties by their correct name: The guys were carrying flex cuffs, the plastic double restraints often used by police in mass arrest situations. They walked through the Senate chamber with a sense of purpose. They were not dressed in silly costumes but kitted out in full paramilitary regalia: helmets, armor, camo, holsters with sidearms. At least one had a semi-automatic rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails. At least one, unlike nearly every other right-wing rioter photographed that day, wore a mask that obscured his face.
These are the same guys who, when the windows of the Capitol were broken and entry secured, went in first with what I'd call military-ish precision. They moved with purpose, to the offices of major figures like Nancy Pelosi and then to the Senate floor. What was that purpose? It wasn't to pose for photos. It was to use those flex cuffs on someone. [...]
They went into the Capitol, as Congress was counting electoral votes, equipped to take hostages -- to physically seize officials, and presumably to take lives. The prospect is terrifying. But just because it seems unthinkable doesn't mean we shouldn't think hard about what almost happened. Don't dismiss the zip-tie guys as "LARPers" or "weekend warriors." [...]
But it could have been much, much worse. If the rioters had been a little quicker through the doors; if senators and representatives hadn't just moved from their joint session into separate chambers to debate the Arizona challenge and had instead still been packed into one harder-to-evacuate room; if any number of things had happened differently, the three people next in the line of succession for the presidency might have been face to face with those zip-tie guys. And then: Who knows.
A day after the riots, John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, at the University of Toronto's Munk School, notified the F.B.I. that he suspected the man was retired Lieutenant Colonel Larry Rendall Brock, Jr., a Texas-based Air Force Academy graduate and combat veteran. Scott-Railton had been trying to identify various people involved in the attack. "I used a number of techniques to hone in on his identity, including facial recognition and image enhancement, as well as seeking contextual clues from his military paraphernalia," Scott-Railton told me. Brock was wearing several patches on his combat helmet and body armor, including one bearing a yellow fleur de lis, the insignia of the 706th Fighter Squadron. He also wore several symbols suggesting that he lived in Texas, including a vinyl tag of the Texas flag overlaid on the skull logo of the Punisher, the Marvel comic-book character. The Punisher has been adopted by police and Army groups and, more recently, by white supremacists and followers of QAnon. Scott-Railton also found a recently deleted Twitter account associated with Brock, with a Crusader as its avatar. "All those things together, it's like looking at a person's C.V.," Scott-Railton said.
Some of them were well acquainted with the layout of the building, which, by all accounts, is a very confusing place to navigate:
House Majority Whip James Clyburn:
"My office, if you don't know where it is, you ain't going to find it by accident," Mr. Clyburn continued. "And the one place where my name is on the door, that office is right on Statuary Hall. They didn't touch that door, but they went into that other place where I do most of my work. They showed up there harassing my staff.
"How did they know to go there?" he asked. "How come they didn't go where my name was? They went where you won't find my name, but they found where I was supposed to be.
I would just feel significantly reassured if Schumer and Pelosi were able to convince me that they fully grasp that they could have been murdered on a livestream.
What I perceive as Democratic leadership's inability to grasp how close they came to violent televised death is actually one of the most disturbing parts of this for me.
This was the trial balloon to end all trial balloons. "Could a poorly trained, unstrategic band of ding dongs pierce the building with the compliance of the Capitol Police?" YES. So, what do we think will be different about January 20?
If, like me, you are wondering why the House didn't pass articles of impeachment immediately -- which to me would mean "before I go to sleep on Wednesday night" -- but is instead waiting 5+ days until Monday, Wednesday, maybe some time in February, who knows.... the answer appears to be "Kevin McCarthy".
House Rules require unanimous consent in order to meet sooner than Monday and McCarthy is objecting. Put another way, we have to wait because Republicans continue to obstruct the pursuit of justice.
The House meets Monday; to do so otherwise needs unanimous consent and McCarthy objects. We JUST went through this with $2000 checks over Xmas. Meanwhile we are using the weekend to build support for #impeachment.
For the "they should've done it yesterday" folks, they didn't have the votes. A number of members had hoped Pence would enact the 25th amendment but he is refusing, and Cabinet members - rather than protest Trump - resigned to PROTECT him so they didn't have to vote.
Here's a google doc showing which members of Congress support or reject impeachment and removal from office. I understand why only like ¾ of a Republican is for it -- they are seditionist traitors -- but how this is not unanimous among Democrats escapes me.