Here's the thing about starting fights: You can always get your butt kicked. As drunk as any barroom brawler on Trumpist lies, many Americans appear to be fantasizing about political violence. According to a poll reported in The Washington Post, "a large number of Republicans — 3 in 10 — believe violence might be justified 'to save our country.'"

That translates to about 12% of the American people, roughly 30 million. It's almost as if Jan. 6 never happened. I fear the fever won't break until there's a real shootout and a bunch of people get killed. This is America, after all. Next time, the Proud Boys are apt to bring more guns.

Also next time, the authorities will be better prepared. It appears that the single biggest factor in police and military unreadiness last January was sheer disbelief. Nobody imagined that a MAGA mob would actually storm the Capitol until they did it.

Alternatively, Trump could exit the scene, one way or another. There appears to be nobody else in American politics with his peculiar mix of shamelessness and showmanship to keep the MAGA masses enthralled.

That's why the work of the bipartisan congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is so important, and why Trump is so determined to run out the clock — filing nonsense lawsuits to keep the evidence of his chicanery from being revealed before the 2022 midterm elections. Seditious conspiracy is a serious crime, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Not that anybody's about to prosecute a former president. Actually, it's more the cynicism and sheer incompetence of Trump and his inner circle that he needs to hide. Court filings showed him trying to prevent congressional investigators from examining more than 700 pages of evidence — including handwritten notes, call logs of Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, White House visitor records and much more.

He doesn't even want people knowing who was there, much less what they were talking about, before, during and after the storming of Congress.

But we already know plenty.

"If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore," he told the crowd, vowing to march with them down Pennsylvania Avenue. A typically empty promise. He's always preferred to lead from behind. Indeed, it's doubtful Trump could actually walk that far in his girdle and elevator shoes.

"Let's you and him fight" is his favorite motto.

Nevertheless, Trump's henchmen understood. As Rep. Liz Cheney has pointed out, "it appears that Mr. [Steve] Bannon had substantial advance knowledge of the plans for Jan. 6th and likely had an important role in formulating those plans. The day before this all occurred — on Jan. 5th — Mr. Bannon publicly professed knowledge that 'All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.' He forecast that the day would be 'extraordinarily different' than what most Americans expected."

Bannon's podcast spoke of "revolution." He urged listeners, "Let's get ready. It's all converging, and now we're on the point of attack tomorrow."

So was Bannon present at the White House on Jan. 6? Were he and Trump in regular contact? They'd like to keep everybody from knowing.

Out in the street, groups styling themselves as the "MAGA Militia" had established three checkpoints: "Cowboy," "Minuteman" and "Rebel."

Like a bunch of kids playing guns. Now those hombres are headed for the hoosegow, poor dopes.

For two months, Trump had been bitching and boasting about the "stolen" election he lost by 7 million votes. On Nov. 21, he tweeted: "The proof pouring in is undeniable. Many more votes than needed. This was a LANDSLIDE!"

Meanwhile, his Rudy Giuliani-led team of bad lawyers filed 60 separate lawsuits charging electoral fraud. Because nothing says "Trump" like a bullsh*t lawsuit. In an astonishing display of incompetence, they lost all 60 for lack of evidence.

Come January, Trump found yet another legal crank who persuaded him that Pence — a contestant in the election — had the constitutional authority to determine the winner. He told the mob outside the White House that everything depended upon Pence.

At 2:24 p.m., as the MAGA mob breached the Capitol, Trump tweeted: "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution."

A chant went up in the crowd: "Hang Mike Pence."

John Eastman, the crackpot lawyer, emailed Pence's chief of staff, then hiding with his boss in the Capitol basement: "The 'siege' is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary."

Now he says he was just kidding — it was a purely academic exercise.

Trump followed the action on TV for another three hours. When House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy begged him to act, Trump refused. "You know what I see, Kevin? I see people who are more upset about the election than you are. They like Trump more than you do."

Any questions?

Arkansas Times columnist Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of "The Hunting of the President" (St. Martin's Press, 2000). You can email Lyons at eugenelyons2@yahoo.com.

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