So much for 2021 being a quieter year than 2020! “Weird SistersJan S. Gephardt and G. S. Norwood both posted pleasant, hopeful blog posts early in the day on January 6, 2021.

In what feels like an image from an alternate reality, a beautiful golden sunrise forms the backdrop for block numbers “202.” In place of the “1,” the silhouette of a young woman stands with her arms up as if in joyous greeting to the new year
Romolo Tavani/123rf

They went live before the treasonous terrorist riot at the US Capitol. But this week we couldn’t go on as if nothing had happened. The riot at the US Capitol might not have had the same death toll as 9/11, but we will always remember that day.

Eventually, you’ll see the posts we originally planned to run this week. But this week we need to speak out—especially after we posted so often on First Amendment issues through the summer of 2020.

G. S. Norwood on the Riot at the US Capitol

Man, did that blog post become obsolete in a big hurry!

I had no sooner posted a sweet little blog entry last Wednesday—all about New Year’s traditions and starting off on the right foot—than angry mobs of far-right extremists were sacking the US Capitol building and trying to overthrow our democracy. Congressional Representatives and Senators were terrorized, art and historical artifacts were damaged or destroyed, blood and other bodily substances were smeared around those hallowed halls . . . And five people died.

This montage of images from the riot at the Capitol shows insurgents pushing past police barricades, roaming the halls of Congress in their extremist costumes and T-shirts, taking photos in the Rotunda, and milling in a hallway in a cloud of tear gas.
Insurgents overrun the Capitol: Clockwise from upper left, the traitorous mob pushes past police barricades (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/for The Washington Post); “Q Shaman” and others maraud through the halls (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPAEFE/Shutterstock, via The Washington Post); rioters stop for selfies in the Rotunda (Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney @simoncoveney on Twitter, via Irish Times); and mill down a hallway in a cloud of tear gas (Saul Loeb/AFP, via Irish Times).

In case I have to spell it out, a seditious uprising is NOT the right way to start the new year.

The shock is still wearing off for me. Yes, I know there are dangerous white-supremacist, neo-Confederate, and just flat whacko groups out there. I wrote about some of them back in October, when they marched on the Weatherford, Texas, square. I know that a lot of people refused to accept the results of the November 3 presidential election, and were fighting it tooth and claw through the legal channels of the courts.

Worst losers ever

I also understand that President Trump is a monumentally poor loser who will probably still be insisting that he won by a landslide 100 years after he’s dead. The disembodied voice will whine up from his grave on the nights of the full moon.

But never in a million years did I expect to see a mob of armed rebels storm the halls of the Capitol. Never. Not in a million years.

So much for my powers of prognostication.

This montage of images from the riot at the Capitol shows the Trumpist mob scrambling up the steps of the Capitol Building, and three scenes of reactions by staff and Congress Members trying to protect themselves from the violent invasion.
Barbarians storm the gates: Clockwise from upper left, the Trumpist mob jams the stairs outside the Capitol (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post); Congressional staffers don gas masks against the tear gas (Andrew Harnik/AP, via The Washington Post); other staffers use heavy furniture to bar the door as they shelter in place (Amanda Voisard/for The Washington Post); Members of the House of Representatives and their staffers hunker down behind whatever they can in fear for their lives (Andrew Harnik/AP, via The Washington Post).

Fantasy, meet Reality

Here’s the bottom line for me: I may write urban fantasy, but I believe in reality. I particularly believe in reality-based political action. Any party that spins fantasies to justify policies to hurt real people in the real world has lost my vote. We have a lot of problems to deal with in our pluralistic society, but deciding the winner of the November 3, 2020, election isn’t one of them.

People stand socially-distanced in line to vote in Baltimore.
Residents of Baltimore City line up to cast their votes in the U.S. Presidential and local congressional elections at Carver Vocational Technical School on November 03, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images, via Pew Research Center).

The election was held as outlined in our Constitution. It’s done. It’s over. Every precinct, every county, every state across our nation certified that the elections they oversaw were secure and the results were accurate. State officials—Republican and Democratic—accepted those results. Local, state, and federal courts accepted those results. All the Constitutional requirements have been met. The Electoral College voted and, now, those votes have been accepted by the joint Congress of the United States.

We cannot allow lies and whining and temper tantrums—even oft-repeated ones; even from the highest elected officials of the land—to overrule our laws. Keep repeating that. We are a nation of laws, and everybody—even the whiners, the pouters, the arrogant asses, and the violent malcontents—must abide by the law or suffer the consequences.

Jan S. Gephardt on the Riot at the US Capitol

Were you surprised by the events of January 6, 2021 and the riot at the Capitol, as Senator Pat Toomey said he was, on Meet the Press the Sunday after? Some were, apparently. Such as—allegedly—the Capitol Police.

Many in Washington D.C. were struck by the disparity this image conveys: 1,100 National Guardsmen and hundreds of Federal Law Enforcement officers for the Trump rally that turned into a well-planned assault on the US Capitol, versus 5,000 National Guardsmen and 1,600 Active Duty Troops called for mostly-peaceful Black Lives Matter protests last June.
Compare the responses. The difference is glaring (WUSA 9 photo montage)

I don’t know what planet they live on, because we were warned. We were warned in a hundred ways, large and small. “very fine people on both sides” warned us. The plot to kidnap Governor Widmer warned us. “Stand back and stand by” warned us. The “Biden bus incident” warned us.

Every single Trump rally warned us, or should have. Breaking norms (“Lock her up!” for political adversaries). Ignoring common decency (Disability met with mockery). Ignoring Constitutional limits (Journalists threatened). Flouting science (mask-less super-spreader events).

Death by a thousand cuts

Bit by bit, we grew inured. Jaded. Immune to being shocked. I know many of us tried to hold onto our sense of “What is normal?” in the face of so. Much. Contrarian. Intransigence.

Politically incorrect was suddenly correct, and a badge of “original thinking” (as if falling into clichés was ever original). Up is down, green is red, and right is wrong in Trump World (Michael Cohen calls it “MAGAstan.”)

Aerial view of the Mar-a-Lago Club.
Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, FL. (Getty Images, via Town & Country).

Lies—Trump has told well north of 20,000 lies, in the course of his presidency, according to the Washington Post’s Fact Checker. He was averaging 50 false or misleading claims per day, by last October. This is a political tactic. It even has a name: Bury them in Bullsh**t.

Somewhere in the massive loads of bullsh**t, we and the truth got buried.

Lie by lie by lie, the Truth dies, and all we have left are “alternative facts.” At which point, sure! Why not? A cannibalistic child-porn ring can hold orgies in the basement of a pizza parlor without a basement, and the most secure election in US history can spawn virulent, persistent claims of voter fraud.

What’s ahead?

If we manage to get through the week or so until the Inauguration without further bloodshed, it will be a miracle.

That’s not just my opinion—many in law enforcement agree. At the FBI’s January 12 press conference about the riot at the Capitol, they stressed they have already started more than 100 investigations.  In the weeks and months ahead they anticipate hundreds—even thousands—more. And we’re already getting warnings of new threats.

Because bit by bit, lie by lie, unseemly thing by unseemly thing, thousands of Americans have come to believe the crazy. That autocracy is better than democracy. That white supremacy is a virtuous cause. And that they have the right to “take back” what never was theirs in the first place.

It’s up to the rest of us, in solidarity, to show them how wrong they are.


Oh, wow, do we ever have a lot of people to thank this time. We appreciate Romolo Tavani of 123rf, for the greeting to 2021. Many, many thanks to The Washington Post, as well as Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, Jim Lo Scalzo, EPAEFE, Shutterstock, Ricky Carioti, Andrew Harnik/AP, and Amanda Voisard, as well as Irish Times, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney on Twitter), and Saul Loeb/AFP for the photos in the two montages from the riot at the US Capital.

We also thank Jemal Countess, Getty Images, and the Pew Research Center, for the photo of people in line to vote in Baltimore; WUSA 9, for the graphic comparing the responses in June 2020 and January 2021; and Getty Images, via Town & Country, for the photo of Mar-a-Lago.