Jan. 17th, 2021


A few words from the President

US Capitol's breach, by Marco Verch under Creative Commons 2.0.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

[Abraham Lincoln: The Gettysburg Address (1863).]

Pennant from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Courtesy of the Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Jan. 11th, 2021


If you get the vaccine, please keep wearing a mask and keep social distancing

Various news outlets have been running news articles about this, but to put matters more succinctly than those articles are:

1) Scientists don't yet know whether people who are vaccinated can transmit the virus.

2) Even if you get one of the 95%-effective vaccines, that still gives you a 1-in-20 chance of catching the virus if you're exposed. As long as the pandemic continues running wild, you still have a high risk of catching the virus - just not as high as before, if you're vaccinated.

Once we achieve herd immunity, matters may change. But for now, everyone needs to keep following precautions.


HOME: Waking up to a new world

I followed the porter back through the Council Chamber to the ceiling-high doors that are of fortress strength. Even at the time the chamber was built, four hundred years ago, the council had sometimes wished to bar the door against the Chara and his guards. [Law of Vengeance]

Which is to say, it is always handy for a national legislature to have a police force that it can use to defend itself against attacks by the nation's ruler and his forces. Not to mention windowless doors that can be easily barred from the inside.

Woke up today and groaned at a few people being Wrong on the Internet. Clocked into writing center orientation from 10:00-12:00. Fascist insurrection stormed the Capitol. [[tumblr.com profile] thegraftedbranch: Tumblr thread]

"So," I said to Joe after I woke up on Wednesday afternoon, "has the coup happened yet?"

Joe, newly awake also, checked his smartphone. "A mob is storming the Capitol," he reported.

So yes, totally predictable.

There was no indication that there was anything [planned] other than First Amendment-protected activity. [FBI Washington field office head Steve D'Antuono]

There was no intelligence that suggested there would be a breach of the U.S. Capitol. [D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee]

Excuse me, what? Even my elderly parents - who don't have social media accounts and whose main source of news is The Washington Post - knew enough to lock their doors when the Proud Boys arrived in town. (My parents live a few blocks east of the Capitol but are fine, thankfully.)

The only thing I can think to explain this gross incompetence is a statement made by one police leader (I'm sorry, I didn't keep that URL) that "people like that" don't usually oppose the police.

Translation: People of color and their liberal White allies break laws. Conservative Whites don't.

Racism lies at the heart of this.

I grew up near DC. I've walked past the Capitol countless times. (My favorite time was with [personal profile] slashbluegreen, who had travelled here from her home in a German city. I was trying to impress her with the Capitol architecture; she was simply amazed at the number of squirrels on the Capitol lawn.) I can only remember going inside the Capitol once, during our nation's Bicentennial, when I was thirteen. But I remember the Hall of Statues being quiet, like a cathedral.

So is the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world (along with the British Library). It's located immediately east of the Capitol and is connected by tunnel to the Capitol. It has no special barriers to prevent entrance. (As a point of history: The original Congressional Library was destroyed during the British attack on the Capitol in 1814.) I read later that the Maryland National Guard helped to protect the Library of Congress in the aftermath of the attack.

So there was much endangered on January 6, including the residents of DC, some of whom were assaulted.

The more I read about the attack on the Capitol, the more aware I am of how close - how scarily close - American democracy came to falling on January 6. And it's not over. I expect that violent attacks on American democracy will continue for the foreseeable future. They have become mainstream.

The January 6 attacks took place, not only in Washington, but also at state capitals around the country. It's quite possible that the January 6 attacks will embolden anti-democracy forces throughout the USA and abroad. So wherever you live, please do your best to stay safe, folks. Keep your ear attuned to reliable news sources and to trustworthy people you know, online and offline. If anyone has safety resources to suggest, please do mention them in the comments.

Link: A helpful post by [personal profile] fabrisse, explaining the difference between the Capitol Police and Washington DC's Metropolitan Police. In summary, DC has no control over the Capitol Police; the Capitol Police is Congress's police force.

June 2013

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