Weeks Where Decades Happen
“There are decades where nothing happens,” said Vladimir Lenin. “And there are weeks where decades happen.”1
We’re in the midst of one of the latter periods, and much is in play.
We saw decades happen yesterday, Jan. 6, at the U.S. Capitol.
People stormed the place and sent members of Congress packing. This has never happened ]\”before, not in peace nor war. Sadly, it’s historic.
Then again, the events at the Capitol reflect the times in which we live, as we’ll discuss in a moment.
And what happened yesterday resolves nothing, as we’ll also address below.
Let’s dig in…
First, a quick point… The Whiskey part of our name comes from the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791 – 94. Back then, Americans refused to honor a distant, out of touch federal government that indebted the nation and was shaking the people down for taxes they couldn’t afford to pay.
The Gunpowder part comes from Britain’s Gunpowder Plot of 1605. A group of Englishmen tried to blow up Parliament and assassinate the king in retaliation for religious persecution.
Anymore, these events are distant in time. They seem simple and quaint.
Indeed, there’s now an annual “Whiskey” celebration every July in Washington, Pa. that commemorates the old farmers’ rebellion and draws many a paying tourist. Across the Atlantic, Britain still celebrates Guy Fawkes Day every Nov. 5, complete with fireworks and festive parties.
The point is that, when we named this newsletter back in 2004, the idea was to recall a time when people pushed back at overbearing and officious government, if not outright tyranny.
In that lexicological sense, let’s review what just happened in Washington, D.C.
As you likely know, on Jan. 6 supporters of President Trump — and apparently some others (details below) — gathered in the Mall. Trump gave a speech and berated the November election. He presented a list of issues regarding the vote count, miscounting and more.
Then a group of people marched towards the U.S. Capitol. They arrived during the quadrennial joint session of Congress that meets to review and confirm the electoral vote count for the nation’s Chief Executive.
Quite a few — many hundreds, apparently, and perhaps a thousand or more — became unruly. Some began to break into the place.
U.S. Capitol Building, January 6, 2021.2
People smashed windows, pushed doors, climbed in and rioted within the historic building.
Members of Congress and their staff fled. Some wore gas masks due to teargas.3
The Capitol was vandalized. People were injured, both protesters and police.
Tragically and graphically, one woman — an Iraq War veteran with 14 years of honorable service in the Air Force — was point blank shot and killed, apparently by Capitol Police.4 News accounts report three other deaths from causes not clear just yet.
These are the basics. And as I watched events unfold, it all seemed surreal.
On a personal level, I long ago lived and worked around Washington — at the Pentagon no less. I’ve been inside the Capitol. I’ve toured the place, admired the art and architecture. I’ve met members of Congress, and even been on the floor of the House and Senate.
Absolutely, what occurred at the Capitol was crazy. It was unlawful. Unacceptable. It should not happen.
And yet… it did happen.
We should consider why. Indeed, not to put too fine a point on things, we should ask, “What in the holy hell is going on?”
At the end of the day, military-grade tactics and combat power prevailed. Heavily armed police and FBI SWAT troops cleared the building.
By evening, Congress went back to work, duly chastened by events. Quickly and crisply, members of Congress confirmed the election of Joe Biden as the next President.
To analogize with ancient practices of the College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church, the message from the American Congress to the world is, “Habemus Presidentem!”
All that’s missing is white smoke from a Capitol chimney.
And by today, a mere day later, there’s talk of removing Trump via the 25th Amendment, if not impeaching him (again) over the next dozen days.
Yet despite all the thunder and fury, nothing was truly resolved yesterday at the Capitol. Not by the invasion and riot. Not by the Congressional certification of Joe Biden.
And not even by running Trump out of town on a rail, if such happens.
From sea to sea, the country remains buried in dry political and social tinder.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, 83% of Americans are “dissatisfied with the way things are going” in the country.5 That particular math adds up to about 275 million people dissatisfied before yesterday, and they doubtless remain dissatisfied today.
It’s fair to say that the same sociological fuel load that existed across the land before the Capitol was stormed is still out there. And we’ll see more fires ahead, I suspect.
Speaking of fires, ponder 2020 for just a moment. We spent the summer and fall watching riots and fires on television. Of course, even that’s a matter of perspective, per this now-famous screen shot from CNN.
“Peaceful” fires in Kenosha.6
The riots are “peaceful” they told us. Don’t rush to conclusions, right?
Unless of course the unpleasantness happened down the street from where you live. Or it was your business afire and you felt the flames and smelled the smoke in person.
Portland, Ore. became emblematic for rioting. There, Antifa and related hooligans attacked the federal courthouse night after night, for well over 100 days.7
Many more places suffered, as well. Doubtless, you recall some names… Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Washington and many other locales.
You may or may not know that, in fact, across the nation riots occurred in hundreds of cities and towns. Major media did its typical effort to not report on the scope. On my end, I learned about widespread rioting from a continuous, diligent search for local news coverage, as opposed to national scale reportage.
Many riots grew out of racial grievances, certainly in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd last May in Minneapolis.
At the same time, widespread dissatisfaction and unrest has deep roots in America’s asymmetric class structure.
That is, wages for working class Americans have been stagnant or in decline for three decades, coincident with the country financializing its economy, deindustrializing, and casting its lot with the ruinous ideas of globalism and so-called “free trade.”
And yet for all the smoke and rubble across the landscape over the past year, it was still shocking to see people rampaging through the Capitol.
It was real rioting, of course, with smashed windows and all. Then again, the invasion of the Capitol was political theater.
Imagery from inside the Capitol abounded. It dominated the news at home and abroad, which was the exact idea. The script, if you will.
Distilled to an essence, while everyone was focused on riots in the Capitol, the country’s leadership went back to business as usual, driving the ship of state along a course that’s measurably not in the best interests of the people (see Gallup Poll measure of national dissatisfaction, referenced above.)
Meanwhile, riot-wise, there are curious things afoot. Such as video of police literally opening the gates to protesters.
Other sleuths have identified certain Capitol invaders as potentially long-time Antifa troublemakers.
One source shows video of police escorting Antifa mobsters onto the Capitol grounds.
As I asked above, “What the hell?”
One might just wonder it there’s more here than we are being told, hmm?
And it’s fair to ask if we’re living through the last days of the Republic of 1787.
Perhaps Lenin’s “decades” have caught up with us.
Let’s keep it real. It’s not as if the country has been invaded and enemy troops have overrun Washington. Nothing like that has occurred since the war with Britain back in 1814.
Nor were this week’s breachers of the peace part of a group like those Puerto Rican nationalists who shot up the House chamber in 1954, wounding several members of Congress. Not a hair was harmed on any Congressional head.
So, was the assault on the Capitol simply a one-off event? Just one last, crazy gasp of the four-year-long Trump thing?
Stated another way, will America’s troubles soon blow away with the new breezes at noon on Jan. 20, as long-time Washington fixture Joe Biden ascends to power?
Don’t kid yourself.
Something horribly bad has happened to the U.S. in the past year. On a larger scale, it’s the culmination of 30 years of strategic failure.
Previously, I discussed how the country is transforming into a “surveillance state”.
Last fall, I discussed how the November election represented the “controlled demolition of U.S. governance.”
Over a month before election day, in October I wrote:
“We’ll watch America’s so-called democracy get hijacked, but in slightly slow motion. This upcoming scenario will destabilize American politics, and of course the overall economy. Face it… The national political train is about to derail in the aftermath of the upcoming election. It’s going to be a mess… And yes, it’s all by design.”
I predicted rioting in the streets over contested election outcomes. (I didn’t expect it in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol, though.)
I even explored whether or not the country can hold together.
Obviously, the country is still here. The “United States of America” is all around us. Flags are flapping everywhere.
We awaken each day to dwell and work in a vast nation-state, heavily policed and armed to the teeth with military power that extends from seafloor to outer space. That part of the U.S. hasn’t gone anywhere.
We still have a power grid, roads, something called “the dollar” and a continental-scale logistics system that produces and delivers food, goods and services to 330 million people.
But politically — and strategically — the America of old is over.
Whatever you thought this country was, whatever it used to be…
It isn’t anymore.
Here’s one last way to view things… Do you have a dollar bill handy? Look at the back of it…
We’re in the midst of transforming the old “Novus Ordo Seclorum” into something else.
Call it the dawn of a “newer” order of the ages. A new sort of system, and you might not be part of it.
The decades have caught up to America, all in the past few weeks.
On that note, I rest my case.
That’s all for now… Thank you for subscribing and reading.
Managing Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder
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7 Portland’s Grim Reality: 100 Days of Protests, Many Violent, AP News