Responsibility For The January 6 Capitol Riot, Part I

It is certainly appropriate to analyze and carefully consider the context and causes of the January 6 riot. Doing so, however, does not require the extended hyping, spin and deceit that we have been subjected to by Democrats, Trump-o-phobics and the news media for a full year, culminating in a contrived “anniversary” today. Over the past year, we have heard absurd comparisons of the one day riot to the bombings of September 11, 2001, Pearl Harbor, and maybe Darth Vader’s destruction of Alderaan—I don’t know, I didn’t read every hysterical screed on the topic.

Today’s retrospective overkill in the New York Times, for example, occupies four full pages in the A Section, with seven of the 24 containing at least one riot-related article. Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into World War II, crippled the Pacific fleet and cost almost 3000 lives. 9/11 ushered in a new era of struggles against Muslim terrorists, also took 3000 lives, and profoundly affected the economy, privacy, civil liberties and politics. And January 6? It provided Democrats with a useful narrative to use to try to neutralize Donald Trump, and opened a new door to criminalizing the Right. The riot never threatened to overturn the election results at any point. It never even delayed the Congressional certification of those results, nor could it.

The motivation behind this orgy of narrative framing is clear: Democrats, progressives and the media are terrified that they are headed for an epic (and oh-so-richly deserved) wipe-out in the 2022 mid-term elections, and the only weapons they appear to have in their arsenal are fear-centered: fear of the end of “democracy” (meaning Democratic Party rule), fear of Trump, and fear of “the deplorables,” with fear of climate change thrown in for variety. It is a massive, shameless, relentless, desperate propaganda effort, divisive, dishonest, thoroughly despicable, and, of course, unethical.

Nonetheless, it would be helpful to examine the reasons the January 6 riot occurred, and I find it incredible that I haven’t seen a single balanced and ethically objective analysis anywhere. Typical of what I have seen is yesterday’s op-ed by The New republic’s contributing editor Osita Nwanvetu. The Times headlined it using a rare form of dishonesty, advancing a lie by denying the lie: “Trump Isn’t The Only One To Blame.” Trump certainly shares a large portion of responsibility for the riot, but since he neither led the mob to the Capitol nor participated in the riot himself, he obviously wasn’t the “only one to blame.” But the politicians and “journalists” who are terrified of him have worked tirelessly to embed that false impression.

Who and what are “to blame” for the ugly events of a year ago? Who isn’t at fault? Here is the Ethics Alarms list. If you know of another equally non-partisan and unbiased analysis, please let me know. I haven’t seen it.

President Trump

We might as well start with Trump, though this list isn’t in order of accountability. Trump’s assertion that the election had been “stolen” and that he actually won was unforgivable. He had every right to challenge vote totals as had been done before, but as a sitting President, he was obligated to tread especially carefully. Never before had an incumbent challenged the election result that defeated him.

Knowing what the lunatic fringe among his supporters were like, it was irresponsible in the extreme for him to address the Trump fanatics who had come to Washington, D.C. to protest the certification of the election. I assume that Trump didn’t know that there was a plan in the works to storm the Capitol; Trump deserves the benefit of the doubt, though he seldom gets it. However, as a New Yorker piece by David Rohde argues, his protestations bore some resemblance to Henry II’s lament, “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?,” that inspired his knights to assassinate Thomas Becket.

Should Trump, as President, have made a public appeal for the rioters to cease and desist? He should have and theoretically could have, but I understand why he didn’t. Unless his statement was carefully phrased, calling off the mob would make it look as if he controlled the mob, and Trump doesn’t do “carefully phrased.” He was damned if he tried to end the riot, and damned if he didn’t.

Trump’s staff and advisors

Here Trump’s “best people” failed him and the nation. Again.

As Ethics Alarms mention not too long ago, Gen. Burnside’s subordinates restrained him from ordering yet another futile assault on the Confederate position at the Battle of Fredericksburg after the previous attempts had led to a slaughter of Union troops. Ivana, Kushner, Trump’s sons, Melania,Mark Meadows, the Cabinet—all of them should have stopped him from his rash and dangerous course, even if it meant duct-taping the President to a chair. There is no question in my mind that equivalent interventions have occurred in the White House throughout our history; we just don’t know about them. (I was once physically restrained when, as an autocratic director in charge of a production, I was insisting on a dangerous and foolish course of action. The producer physically restrained me and countermanded my orders. I’m grateful for it.

The incompetent response of the Capitol Police and other authorities.

The Defense and Justice Departments and the D.C. mayor’s office knew well in advance that there was a danger of some of the protesters trying to breach the Capitol, but they were sure the law enforcement officers available were adequate to handle and problem. They weren’t. The FBI underestimated the number of protesters, predicting a maximum of 20,000, which turned out to be less than half the number that arrived. The Capitol Police didn’t stand their ground at the perimeter or at the Capitol itself; some even invited protesters inside. The D.C. mayor, a serial incompetent, was inexplicably slow to request additional troops from the D.C. National Guard. The Attorney General waited too long to order elite FBI units into the Capitol. The Pentagon, thinking about public relations and avoiding the appearance of politicization, held back. Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund announced his resignation the day after the riot, which is not the usual course when someone in charge has done a sterling job. It was reported that the Capitol Police had turned down offers of additional support from the National Guard and the FBI.

This puts the riot, or at least the extent of it, squarely in the realm of moral luck. There was no reason for Trump to believe that a mob, even a large one, would be able to breach the Capitol itself, and it shouldn’t have been able to do so if the organizations responsible for preventing such a mess had done their job competently. Had they performed as they should have, there would be no rehashing of the riot today, and the most Donald Trump would be blamed for would be his poor judgment and big mouth.

The rioters

There is never an excuse for a riot, and this one was especially mindless, destructive and stupid. What exactly was the mob trying to accomplish? It had to know that it couldn’t possibly reverse the election results or take over Congress. Nor was it equipped to try. Like all riots, it was a tantrum, and an expression of anger and discontent. It was neither an “insurrection” nor an instance of treason, which is why neither of those crimes have been charged nor can be.

Yet today’s coverage of the January 6 festivities or whatever you call them on the local ABC affiliate here is titled “Insurrection.” The word is used regularly in news stories and pundit columns, as a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the event. Typically, the same reporters and pundits who throw that characterization around will complain about conservative “misinformation” regarding last January 6. That takes a lot of gall.

However, the mob was guilty of major rioting, and that’s bad enough.

There are more culprits to come in Part 2, as well as a list of who and what isn’t at fault…

48 thoughts on “Responsibility For The January 6 Capitol Riot, Part I

  1. I’d also say the other state and local authorities that allowed the destruction of summer 2020 are also at some fault, for setting the precedent that rioters would and should be either left be or handled with kid gloves.

    • The explanation for the indifference and abetting by scores of elected democrats for all of the rioting in the summer of 2020 has two explanations, one bad and one even worse.
      The bad explanation is one where democrats who think this benefits them politically. I’m having a hard time seeing this explanation through, though. I don’t see how it wins for them. Yeah, there are the nutjobs who are reveling in the destruction. But for the sane portion of their base it can’t help. Maybe I’m deluding myself about the existence of a sane portion of their base, and that’s the explanation. It is accepted by most that the midterms will be a rout for the democrats, and that’s only going to happen if it is true that there is enough sane people left to counter the nutjobs of the party. I suspect I’m giving too much credit to the intelligence of many elected officials I guess. Their messaging riles the base but turns off the middle. I think there is MASSIVE support for policing reforms. But the left isn’t saying “reform the police” to mean end militarization, ask for justice being applied to officers with equity, and ending the blue wall of silence about misconduct. Nope, they instead go with “defund”. They go with a revolving door and let lawlessness take over. The end result is a slowing of the reform as people are turned off by seeing the destruction and rampant lawlessness. The embrace of scumbags.
      The worse explanation is that there are really people in office who “want to burn it all down.” Those that are true believers and place the ambition to become a socialist state with them in charge above the preservation of our democracy.
      I can’t tell for sure how many are in the first category, and how many are in the second. All of the breathless coverage and hand wringing today is horribly one sided because it lack the context that indeed, there are those on the left who are every bit as corrosive to democracy as those willing to resort to the same on the right.

  2. Jack said:

    Knowing what the lunatic fringe among his supporters were like, it was irresponsible in the extreme for him to address the Trump fanatics who had come to Washington, D.C. to protest the certification of the election.

    No doubt you are correct, but we never heard this argument (well, from the Times and others in the media, anyway) about Hillary Clinton’s rejection of her loss, and her statements that it was due to Russian interference which precipitated a year-long hoax event that hamstrung a U.S. president completely unfairly (and damaged the institution to boot). It’s unfortunate that Trump couldn’t rise above the level of Clinton and the propagandist media, but it’s easy to understand how hard it would be to do so given the totality of the circumstances, and the legitimate questions (mostly still unaddressed) about the 2020 election.

    I hate that both parties can’t accept losses anymore without this sort of unethical, dangerous hyperbole and speculative nonsense. One day it will truly end badly, and many people will lose their lives, possibly starting a conflagration from which it is difficult to withdraw.

    Both sides have to do better, for all our sakes.

    Here Trump’s “best people” failed him and the nation. Again.

    And how. Trump’s continual appointment of unqualified sycophants to important government positions is perhaps his most damning and destructive legacy.

    Like all riots, it was a tantrum, and an expression of anger and discontent. It was neither an “insurrection” nor an instance of treason, which is why neither of those crimes have been charged nor can be.

    Exactly, and yet most of the mainstream media keeps referring to it as an “insurrection.” It has become fraudulent, a case of one side attempting to gaslight the entire country in what I can only consider a directly comparable “Russia hoax” narrative. Shameful.

  3. “as an autocratic director in charge of a production, I was insisting on a dangerous and foolish course of action.”

    I love your theatre stories. Care to expand on this one?

  4. For all of those that are hand wringing today over the events of January 6th, I have only one question for them: “Can you admit that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election in a fair and equitable election?”
    If you can state with an unqualified yes, then let’s work on a middle ground and de-escalate.
    If you want qualifies, or straight out won’t admit it, you can fuck right off. You’re part of those that opened the door. You are every bit as responsible. Much of Trump’s 2020 conduct is based on the fact that YOU and every one of your unethical allies spent four years denying Trump his victory and thwarting the lawfully elected president. YOU are the danger to democracy. Until you can say “we were wrong” we can’t move forward.

  5. I think you’re missing the big picture here when it comes to the significance of the storming of the Capitol…

    It would have never even happened with any other President because Trump’s rhetoric is what created the situation in the first place.

    • Huh? I need more specifics before that even begins to make sense. Rhetoric in general? Rhetoric regarding the election? Trump’s rhetoric was a direct result of his being treated by his opposition and the news media differently from every other President. No other President has lost an election after such a deliberate media effort to defeat him, including by refusing to report relevant developments. No other President had to run for re-election after a partisan impeachment effort. No other President had lost following the institution of an unquestionably insecure voting process. By rhetoric, do you mean what he said, or how he said it?

      • This rhetoric:

        Trump’s assertion that the election had been “stolen” and that he actually won was unforgivable. He had every right to challenge vote totals as had been done before, but as a sitting President, he was obligated to tread especially carefully. Never before had an incumbent challenged the election result that defeated him.

        Especially when he asserted the election was fraudulent the night of the election when he couldn’t possibly know of any fraud even if there was any.

          • And does that make “Trump’s assertion that the election had been stolen and that he actually won” on the night of the election before he had any evidence of fraud not unforgivable and not irresponsible and a not a lie and not dangerous rhetoric?

            Wait…I’ll answer that for you.


              • I was waiting for the racist suck-up to chime in with his illuminating commentary. People are actually dumber having read your comments.

                Like this racist comment:

                Krappernick is a sex night child of a destitute white woman and a deadbeat African-American man who fucked and trucked.

                  • I assume the ad hominem comment is directed at Steve-Poo?

                    Oh wait, that’s right, you don’t discourage the bootlickers here. You don’t want them to go.

                    Also, your definition of racism is so narrow, it’s essentially meaningless.

                  • I think “A Lib” or “A Riot” should just change their name to “chris”.

                    The rhetorical style matches well enough and combined with the earlier neurotic fervency to commit you to “supporting Trump” and seeing as how chris was rightfully banned, this new person would fill the shoes well. Unless of course this is just a different self-exile who has come back under a different pseudonym. But the style doesn’t seem familiar to any of them.

                • You have an interesting definition of illumination. So far you’ve done nothing but troll and throw insults. Jack told you to move on, so move on. I’m also telling you to take your insults someplace else. We can turn this into an insult-fest like Huffpo and youtube, but I don’t think that’s where you want to go. I already defeated at least three others like you, so defeating you isn’t even going to work up a sweat.

                • It isn’t racist if it’s the truth, Libturd. Krappernick doesn’t even know who his dad is, or was, and his mom was 19 and broke when she gave birth to him. She cared for him for precisely five weeks before she handed him off to his adoptive parents. To this day he hasn’t met his birth parents and doesn’t want to, from what I understand.

                  • I think it’s borderline.

                    The question here is if “white” is useful as part of the term “destitute woman” and if “African-American” is useful as part of the term “deadbeat dad”.

                    • It’s a fact that he’s half white and half black. It’s a fact that his mom was 18-19 and broke when he was born. It’s a fact that his father abandoned his mother and disappeared before he was born. It’s also a fact that he’s made every. single. thing. about. him. about his color. If he took a different approach, then you might be justified in saying it would be more appropriate to downplay the races of his birth parents in favor of the others, because irresponsibility knows no color. However, under the circumstances, I think my approach is justified.

                    • This was, incidentally, why I was extremely skeptical about the birther claims.

                      An 18-year-old woman of modest means traveling from Hawaii to Africa while pregnant. That requires extraordinary evidence, which no one has ever produced.

            • I can answer easy questions like that myself, thanks. Are you afraid of the answers? Because, you know, I’ve answered each part of your question before, and many times:

              “unforgivable”? Forgivable for him personally, not forgivable in a POTUS.
              “irresponsible”? Absolutely.
              “Dangerous rhetoric?” It says so right in the post. Did you read it?
              “A lie.” Not a lie. It was an opinion, and Trump believed it. Still does.

              • This is literally the worst analysis I’ve ever read…

                It’s forgivable for him as a human…but not as President? That doesn’t even make sense and I don’t even know what your point is. Don’t you have a college degree?

                The point is that Trump saying the election had been stolen and he won on national tv on election night was not only unforgivable…but was dangerous and actually sparked the riots.

                You can disagree with that all you want but Trump is the linchpin here whether you think so or not.

              • He’s not afraid of the answers, Jack, he just refuses to accept any answers except the ones he himself provided. You’re wasting your time engaging with him.

        • Trump’s assertion that the election had been “stolen” and that he actually won was unforgivable. He had every right to challenge vote totals as had been done before, but as a sitting President, he was obligated to tread especially carefully. Never before had an incumbent challenged the election result that defeated him.

          No more unforgiveable that the Russian collusion propaganda campaign.

          It hardly needs to be written that those who promoted the Russian collusion myth are ethically estopped from criticizing Trump in this context.

  6. I have a bit of a different take on this situation. In my view, there is nothing sacrosanct about the capitol or the people who work there, and the destruction of a mom and pop grocery in Kenosha is just as outrageous as what happened on 1/6. Morally, I see no difference between the riots in the summer and the riot on 1/6. I condemn them both equally.

  7. My trust in the MSM has deteriorated to such a point that I find myself thinking that Tucker Carlson’s narrative of the events (FBI had undercover operatives leading the incursion into the Capitol Building) is more likely true than even the non-loony version (a combination of incompetence, stupidity, and cowardice — but no actual malfeasance) apparently being used as the basis for this list of responsible parties.

    It all just seems too convenient for the Democrats and the FBI who obviously wanted to damage Trump.

    But even if Tucker’s version is correct, the list is still valid (it would just be missing a couple of entries).

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