Thursday, October 6, 2022

Narratology: Eastman's First Draft


Video (no longer new) of Roger Stone and his boys at a rally on December 11 2020, via Just Security

Christian Vanderbrouk of The Bulwark has turned me on to a fascinating document issued by the Claremont Institute and Texas Public Policy Foundation a couple of weeks before the 2020 election, in a kind of Bizarro-World counterpoint to a paper of August 2020 by the bipartisan Transition Integrity Project, "Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election and Transition", reporting on a scholarly gaming out of what the nation might do to deal with the likely event that Donald Trump lost the November election and refused to concede defeat, making some kind of attempt to stop Biden's inauguration.

The Claremont/Texas paper, in contrast, "79 Days to Inauguration", presents a literal "wargame" simulation of how such an attempt might succeed, starting with an ambiguous election night in which an apparently easy call of victory for Biden yields to confusion, as Texas (initially an upset Biden victory) reports its systems have been hacked by a foreign power, Pennsylvania and Florida remain too close to call, and in Michigan, where Trump is ahead, thousands of those pesky mail-in ballots are destroyed in an unexplained fire in Detroit. 

Riots break out in more than a dozen major cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Houston, Louisville, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. 14 law enforcement officers are known to have been shot, with one confirmed death. There are unconfirmed reports of a car bombing of a police precinct building in Philadelphia.... 

Sparked, presumably, by the violent members of "antifa", the Black Lives Matter Movement, and possibly the "radical libertarian" faction of the Boogaloo Bois in their Hawaiian shirts, anti-police and aligned with BLM in this scenario, and the Black paramilitary NFAC ("Not Fucking Around Coalition").

Meanwhile, a host of legal disputes leaves the election results in turmoils, at 262 electoral votes for Biden, 260 for Trump, and Michigan legislators unable to reach any decision. And just to make this campfire story a little spookier,

the PRC took the initiative to amplify their genocide against the Uyghurs while increasing pressure on Taiwan. Russia made a move on Belarus, seized the Suwalki Corridor, and sent unconventional forces into Estonia and Latvia (the “Little Green Men”)

Out in the nation at large, police, sometimes rejecting the orders of the civilian leadership, begin massive arrests of the rioters in a huge "Operation Spearfish"

The majority of the warrants are executed in middle to upper class neighborhoods where the Antifa and BLM activists/leadership tend to reside [LOL], prompting concern with the volume of tactical police actions in areas unaccustomed to such activities. 

and Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and Three Percenters mobilize in posses to help them out. The whole thing winds up on January 6 in the chambers of the House of Representatives, where the Speaker plan to declare herself president (as the Constitution suggests she'd hav to) has turned public opinion massively against the Democrats, and, in Vanderbrouk's summary,

A Republican member of Congress is attacked and critically injured in the violence, potentially depriving Donald Trump of the decisive vote.

However, the representative heroically insists on being taken to the House floor. “With IVs and blood transfusions being administered, the member casts the deciding vote, giving Trump 26 state delegations and the needed majority.”

As he calls it,

a frenzied and paranoid piece of work, revealing of the anxieties and aspirations of the authoritarian right.

but also

an instruction manual for how Trump partisans at all levels of government—aided by citizen “posses” of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers—could, quite literally, round up opposition activists, kill their leaders, and install Donald Trump for a second term in office.

I'm thinking of it, knowing of the identities of some of the participants—

John Eastman—lawyer for Donald Trump and author of a memo advising Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally block certification of Joe Biden’s win in order to buy time for GOP-controlled state legislatures to send competing slates of electors—and K.T. McFarland, who served as deputy national security advisor under Michael Flynn in the Trump White House.

Other participants include Kevin Roberts, then-executive director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (soon to be head of the Heritage Foundation), Jeff Giesea, “a [Peter] Thiel protégé and secret funder of alt-right causes,” and Charles Haywood, a fringe blogger who anxiously awaits an American “Caesar, authoritarian reconstructor of our institutions.”

—as an actual plan, or guidelines, that the coup plotters attempted to implement. Especially the presence of Eastman, not just the author of the stupid fake electors memo and proponent of the "independent state legislature" doctrine on which it depends, but also intimately involved in the January 6 reality, a person whose cell phones were taken by investigators around the same time as that of his associate the would-be attorney general Jeffrey Clark, an associate of letter-writer Ken Klukowski and of the unspeakable Mrs. Thomas, present in Giuliani's suite at the Willard Hotel, and deciding that "I should be on the pardon list, if that's still in the works", and the warmup act for Trump at the January 6 rally itself.

That is, what actually happened over the 79 days is exactly what would have been bound to happen if this was the model Eastman and Giuliani and Stone and Meadows were working with, with all the things that didn't pan out for them: the way the election results ended up not being seriously in doubt, the failure of antifa and Black Lives Matter to mobilize in any way (except for that brief eruption in the Proud Boys' Washington rehearsal on December 12), the failure of all the legal challenges and all the attempts to shake down secretaries of state and all the efforts to appoint fake electors and Vice President Pence's unexpected chickening out of his own role in the festivities.

It's the coup scenario introduced by Will Bunch, or rather a Dog Day Afternoon version of it, in which every single thing went wrong, because the planners were delusional. They genuinely believed there would be something objectionable about the election, they genuinely believed there were evil paramilitary forces of hippies and Black people eager to join battle with them, they genuinely believed that they could invent this new reading of the Constitution, and when every one of these things failed other than that the rebel soldiers were there in DC, with their arms stashes back in their hotels, they went ahead and tried to do it anyway, busting into the Capitol to see if they could just take it by brute force, while Big Donald, the most delusional of all, waited anxiously by the TV for the outcome.

And John Eastman was in some degree the mastermind, except the mind he was working with turned out to be not that sound.

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