It may have been treason, but not a coup

What happened Wednesday, Jan. 6, in the nation’s capital was ugly, a stain on democracy, treasonous on the part of some of those who breached the Capitol and invaded the Rotunda.

Some of the mob gets inside. (Photo: ABC News)

But it was no more a “coup” than the James Throckmorton Middle School production of “1776.”

Here is a standard definition of coup d’etat:

“A sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.”

Like fingerprints, every coup is different, but most share some characteristics.

Force is one of them. Usually, they are backed by the military, by the people who have the biggest guns.

There was no military involvement 1/6/21. Except to break it up.

Even without the military, those attempting to seize the government usually are heavily armed.

Almost none of the criminals in the Rotunda 1/6/21 had firearms. The only person shot was a protestor, an unarmed white woman named Ashli Babbitt. Capitol policeman Brian Sicknick died of wounds after being hit in the head by a fire extinguisher. 

Because protestors were unarmed, they used flag poles as spears and threw fire extinguishers instead of grenades. 

While some of the accused criminals before the protests allegedly had conspired on the internet to grab some U.S. leaders, such as Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and Republican Mike Pence, there seemed to be no concrete plan to carry out this wishful thinking.

There is zero evidence of an overall plan to capture the government, which coups usually have, along with an identifiable leader. 

One aim of a coup is to replace the leader, the president. This group of criminals already had the president. Did they think taking the Capitol would keep him in office? There is no proof of that. They were in a play-acting world of their own.

Typically in a coup, the military seizes the airport, the TV station, the newspaper, the radio, the telephone company to control the means of communication.

Had a rogue military unit smashed into the Washington Post, they would have captured an empty building. Everyone’s working from home. Pretty much the same at Washington TV news bureaus, but headquarters would have taken them off the air had they been captured, Telephone? Everyone has a cell phone and communication through internet platforms.

There was no suggestion the criminal plotters even thought about this or had developed a “plan,” such as the alleged Michigan plotters, to capture lawmakers in the Capitol.

The accused Michigan traitors are awaiting trial.

The best estimate I have seen is that there were maybe 300,000 Trump supporters in D.C. that day.

Some 1% of them, or 3,000 people, gathered on the Capitol steps, and some 1% of them breached the Capitol.

Many of them wandered through the halls like tourists, while the worst of them broke windows, vandalized offices, shit on the floors, stole government property and fought with police.

In the worst case scenario — for which there is no evidence of a credible plan — they would have “captured” the Capitol building.

And there they would have been, completely surrounded, isolated, and ready for arrest. 

This is a coup?

No, it was not. It was criminal, it was traitorous, but not an actual attempt to replace the elected government with one of its own, which is what real coups do.

So why is it called a coup by many in the news media?

Because it sounds cool — they’ve never covered a coup before. Let’s put this on the resume!

Or maybe they don’t actually know what a coup is, or because they want to paint this in the darkest terms for their own purposes.

What might those be? An obvious hatred for Donald J. Trump, of course, but let’s not overlook this scenario: The more fear they create over a nonexistent coup, the more they can shrivel your civil liberties and Constitutional right to protest — peaceably, which is what most of the Trumpsters in D.C. did. The vast majority of them fell victim to the repeated lie that the election was stolen. It is sad, but not a crime, to believe lies, and protests, even loud and ugly ones are not “coups.”

But they can be treason, and those who broke the law must be prosecuted. And will be. 

26 thoughts on “It may have been treason, but not a coup”

  1. no more comments from me on politics , i might get canceled , I watch a struggling rock and roll player have his whole career canceled last night on Tucker just because he went to the rally and went back to his hotel room and did not even know what happened to the next day . Someone found he was at the rally and spread a rumor he was one the assholes at the capital and his record company dropped jim and he can’t tour anymore ,due to hate for trump. It was sad and scary at the sametime.

    1. I saw that. Sad and unAmerican. I did a column on a woman who got fired because she posted pro Teump stiff on her Facebook page on her own time. WTF?
      And her lawyer is a Liberal — the older Liberals believed in free speech.

    I had to look up the definition of treason. I believe that the older ( original ) definition only pertained to war. So now we have this def.
    the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.
    “they were convicted of treason”
    I doubt that there were any treasonous acts in the capitol building. As you said, everything but. You are so correct to point out that the fake news and their affiliates are still working on divide and conquer.
    My thoughts on all of this are as follows. We lost the election because we believed all of the hype. That joey is a mental mess, etc. The dims are excellent at playing hard ball – dirty. We, the republicans are not. Couple all of that with the swamp mentality. Most of our elected officials are in this game for themselves. The biden family is not the worse. Most politicians have a legacy in place. What do we do ? What can we do ? It’s all hard work. “GRIP” “Get Rid of Incompetent Politicians” ! It will take a few cycles, both local, state and national, but it can be done – if the American public will wake up and fight for our country. OUR President Trump had little or no help his first two years in office. His last two did gather some help, but obviously, not enough. The swamp came out in force. W took the bait, and we will suffer the consequences.

      1. grow up !
        you would rather argue like a two year old, than have a adult discussion.
        I stopped with your charade before, and it’s my pleasure to do it again.

        1. Tony, I call them as I see them. Your little snide comments to me prove how one sided you are. It is fine if you do not want to say anything more to me but that will not stop me from replying to what you say.

  3. From a NY Post compilation.

    In the wake of the Capitol assault, the left has “united America — or the America that counts, anyway: the ruling class” — against not just President Trump, but “that fearsome manifestation of unwashed ­humanity, the Trump supporter,” Jane Stannus notes at Spectator USA. This “forces the 99.99 percent of Trump supporters who didn’t break the law to distance themselves from their political beliefs — or share in the label of ‘domestic terrorist’ and ‘insurrectionist.’ ” Those “who have spent the last four years . . . literally calling for [Trump’s] death, disgrace, silencing and imprisonment” now insist that “anyone who doesn’t agree to identify events as not the impulsive behavior of a few hotheads, but a deliberate fomentation of the entire Trump movement is himself a traitor, a supporter of mob rule.” But “is it really a good idea to keep telling Middle America, in particular, to sit down and shut up?”

    1. To answer your last question, that is not a good idea. Every conservative commentator ai have heard has denounced the D.C. violence because it was wrong and because it besmirched all Trumpsters.

      1. That’s not my question, that’s the writer’s op.
        And I didn’t take it the way you did. I don’t think she meant the riot, but rather Trump’s policies in general as in contrast to leftist ideology. I agree with everyone who condemned the riots. Now we have to wait for, hopefully, a thorough, but swift investigation. There’s an open festering sore that needs attention.

  4. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Stu,

    Right. The riot at the Capitol building was not an attempted coup. But was it “insurrection” or “seditious conspiracy”? That is what the federal prosecutors are looking into. The actual charges filed so far are much milder –on the order of “criminal trespass” and some few weapons charges.

    I think we have to keep in mind in this connection the difficulties that recent immigrants may have with understanding American politics –and the constitutional system of checks and balances in particular. People with foreign background will often long carry with them models of politics which our founders resisted. “Multiculturalism” does not encourage domestic civics lessons! The vague similarity between the Capitol riot and foreign events may invite comparisons with little attention to the details –of the sort you go into.

    Even contemporary European observers have considerable difficulty in understanding the domestic limits of a President’s powers (in contrast to their own heads of governments). They may even think that the President serves at the political approval of Congress. But an article of impeachment is in fact a criminal indictment of sorts: “High crimes and misdemeanors” is the constitutional standard of conviction. Its not supposed to be a purely political matter.

    In a country so extensively put together by immigration and integration, we have to appreciate the point of “limited government” –as illustrated by the Bill of Rights for instance. The idea that those winning federal elections have the right to do anything they please eventually invites “communal conflicts” and discords. If the losing side comes to believe that they will have no prospects and that their children will have no prospects, then they will fight like hell.

    Think of Lebanon, the Balkans or N. Ireland. This is the last sort of thing we want in this country. But the recent immigrant, or those lacking civic education, may see it as inevitable.

    H.G. Callaway

      1. Philadelphia, PA

        Dear Stu,

        I’ve seen the accusation or characterization of the capitol riot as a “coup” only once. (It’s not that I’m not looking at the reports.) I’m sure it may have looked like a coup for people coming from countries where the phenomenon is common. Refugees from Venezuela, say?

        Otherwise, the media have generally talked of “riot,” “insurrection” (following the wording of the Article of impeachment from the lower House) or “seditious conspiracy” following the reports that federal prosecutors have been looking into that charge. But so far as I know, and up to recently, no one from the riotous crowd has actually be indicted on charges of “insurrection” or “seditious conspiracy.” If the feds can’t turn up evidence supporting such charges, then the Article of impeachment looks weak –maybe just politics?

        Given the divisiveness in the country, I think we have to be concerned about purely political shenanigan. We would not want a political purge on grounds of suspicion of “political incorrectness.” But in fact, that sort of power grab has been going on for decades.

        H.G. Callaway

        1. I would not have written what I did had I heard it “coup” once. It was EVERYWHERE — print, broadcast TV, cable TV.
          Lately, “insurrection” has become popular and that is closer to the mark. Also “riot” and “rebellion.” All accurate.

  5. There have been hundreds of Coup’s in the world and most have used the military or members of the Government to be removed. There have been Coup’s to remove a leader by the actions of the people but they already have someone to replace the leader at that time. In essence, I agree that this was not a military takeover when they were called to break it up or not even a civilian purge because the local police were the group that was eventually in control of the Capital. The fear that most Americans from both sides should focus on is the overreaction of the media in elevating a criminal trespass into an alleged coup. If you accept the ability of Trump to mesmerize his followers into a 70 million-member voter group then the media is doing a similar action by telling their readers to believe something that is just not true but carry our story with you to work, social media, and support the charge of an attempt to overthrow the Government instead of criminal trespass. The gullibility of the reader or the voter can lay the actual groundwork for a possible coup just like showing political power by the impeachment of a Narcissistic president beyond a reasonable doubt. In the future when the hearings are held I would invite all the editors and TV commentators to explain their reasons for the overkill of January 6th but sadly they would use the shield law rather than a simple response. Maybe the Inquirer could explain if their coverage of the Capital coup was similar to their internal coup.

  6. Going back many years, Jane Fonda was never prosecuted for treason, so none of those in the D.C. should be.

    “If this be treason, make the most of it.” Patrick Henry. One man’s aggravation toward those in power is another man’s treason.

  7. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Stu & readers,

    “Tom” says:
    The fear that most Americans from both sides should focus on is the overreaction of the media in elevating a criminal trespass into an alleged coup. If you accept the ability of Trump to mesmerize his followers into a 70 million-member voter group then the media is doing a similar action by telling their readers to believe something that is just not true but carry our story with you to work, social media, and support the charge of an attempt to overthrow the Government instead of criminal trespass.
    —End quotation

    It pretty clearly belongs to the business model of corporate media to continually stir the flames of divisiveness. In particular it is very good “click bait,” and often enough, “clicks” pay their bills. A good case can be made that Mr. Trump is himself a creation of the media –given his infamous TV show of years back. Our news-media have, too often, degenerated in the direction of the entertainment business. It is not, however, that Mr. Trump has had no hand in his own disgrace. Mere populist defiance of the neo-liberal elite is simply not a viable form of politics.

    In the final accounting, what the federal prosecutors turn up concerning the actions of the riotous crowd that invaded the Capitol building may well determine the results of an impeachment trial before the U.S. Senate. Far more than “criminal trespass” was involved.

    Other criminal charges are sure to be filed eventually. But we should wait on the evidence.
    The article of impeachment is much like a criminal indictment –calling for a trial on grounds of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” That is, after, all the constitutional standard for impeachment. But no criminal indictment is self-certifying. That the accusation is so often taken at face value in the media and among the politicians, seems to tar it as merely political in nature. There seems to be a great deal of “guilt by association” involved. But, as I say, if there was an “insurrection” then those involved should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The same goes for “incitement to insurrection” –if it can be proven.

    H.G. Callaway

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