Consciousness of Guilt – He did it.

Consciousness of Guilt

He did it.

Spetember 26th 2019

Robert Harrington, in a piece titled the same as this one, was kind enough to pull the legal definition of “Consciousness of Guilt” from RationalWiki. It reads:

Consciousness of guilt is a legal concept and a type of circumstantial evidence of guilt. It is based on a criminal suspect who demonstrates a guilty conscience by their actions or speech. Some examples of consciousness of guilt are:

Fleeing from the crime scene or jurisdiction
False statements and lies
False alibi
Changing one’s name or personal appearance
Concealing or destroying evidence
Witness intimidation or bribery
Generally, any attempts to cover up a crime
Simply put, consciousness of guilt is an action or statement that a person accused of a crime makes that an innocent person would not make.

We’re in a very peculiar situation where no honest person can look at the evidence, mostly provided by Trump’s own words and actions, and have any reasonable doubt that he is guilty of obstruction of justice, a cover-up, misuse of office, and efforts to impede legal investigations into his actions through working corruption of office [cough, Barr and Kavanaugh, /cough].

During Watergate, even those of us willing to believe the worst of Nixon had, if not a frisson of doubt, at least the frustrated knowledge that the available evidence might not be enough to get an honest verdict of guilty. At least, not until the 8-0 Supreme Court ruling that forced Nixon to release the unredacted tapes. Then, finally, there was no longer any doubt. Nixon plunged in public opinion polls, Republicans stopped putting up any real resistance to the impeachment hearings, and a head count in the House made it clear Nixon would be impeached on at least four counts.

Two weeks later, he was gone.

In 48 hours, we covered the same amount of ground that the Watergate scandal covered between July 13, 1973 and July 24, 1974. Why those two dates, slightly over a year apart? The first was the day Alexander Butterfield revealed to Congress that Nixon taped all his Oval Office discussions, and the world suddenly realized that here was evidence that could impeach or exculpate Nixon. The second date was when the SC said, “Turn ‘em over.”

The tapes were released to the public on August 5th, and included the famous ‘smoking gun’ tape in which Nixon was advised of the break-in. He resigned on the 9th.

Unfortunately on this zeitgeist-y anniversary of August 5th, 1974, I don’t expect to see Trump gone in three days. Oh, it could happen, but Trump is not Nixon. Nixon was corrupt and vicious, if by an order of magnitude less so than Trump, but he was also intelligent, self-aware, and mostly sane. Trump is clearly none of those things and in a nation that had a healthier attitude toward the rich and famous, he would have been gone a year ago. If his candidacy was ever taken seriously in the first place. Hopefully America has learned wealth and power isn’t the same thing as wit and wisdom.

It’s going to get really ugly, and nobody can really say in what ways it will happen. We do know that he’s trying to implicate and possibly destroy vice President Mike Pence. Aside from the usual Trumpian strategy of trying to shift blame to the nearest available target, there is the possibility that he’s hoping the prospect of Nancy Pelosi moving into the first-in-line slot might dissuade Congress from kicking him out of the White House.

The Republicans are probably concluding that Trump has reached the end of his shelf life, and they are doing their own calculations. If I know my Republicans, they are thinking that if Trump abruptly resigns, there’s a good chance there will be scattered violence among what David Brin memorably called “legions of McVeighs” and a possible recession. If general conditions did go south, wouldn’t it be ever so much better if they could play their usual game of gleefully and visciously blaming the nearest Democratic president for all the unrest and bad conditions that they themselves caused? Additionally, Mike Pence at best would be an underwhelming president, and carry with him the stench of Trump’s criminality and cruelty. Indeed, given his complicity in many of Trump’s scandals—yes the same complicity Trump is trying to bring to our attention now—it’s quite likely that the Democrats will be having impeachment hearings for Pence, and an aroused electorate would be preparing another blue tidal wave. A year of Pelosi, they think, could work to their advantage, especially since they still have the Senate and so can keep her hands tied whilst portraying her as a do-nothing ‘caretaker’ President.

But first things first. They have an avowed criminal and seditionist in the Oval Office, and they need to figure out a way to get him out before he takes into his head to drop a nuke on San Francisco or something.

The Dems are not going to rush to an impeachment vote. Yes, they have the evidence, the most solid evidence a Congress has had in an impeachment process since Nixon released the tapes. But they want to implicate the whole rotten gang—Pence, Barr, the family whelps, all of them. They are truly a cancer on America, and if some of the Democrats are using a political calculus of their own about the advantages of full, lengthy hearings, it’s a rare situation where such calculation and serving the national interest are actually congruent.

Yes, I would like to see Trump gone tomorrow. But I think it’s important that they identify, indict, and convict their entire rats’ nest of corruption that has poisoned the county.

Otherwise we will remain enveloped in the miasmic stench of Trumpism. And that cannot be good.

Comeuppance – Trump deserves one; America needs one

December 14th 2018

We’re at the point now where there is no longer any reasonable doubt that Trump committed dozens, perhaps hundreds of felonies in his sordid and tawdry life, and at least dozens following his decision to become President. At the very least, he turned his candidacy and presidency into a cash cow. At worst, he conspired against his own country with a hostile foreign power for personal gain.

Yes, I know: ‘Innocent until Proven Guilty.’ But he has admitted—even bragged about—a number of felonies he committed on Twitter. His personal lawyer and his campaign chair have pled guilty to felonies they committed at his behest. He is a liar. He is a thief. His presidency has been an utter disaster, one that has cost America, and Americans, dearly.

It’s the “much worse” items, the ones not already proven in a court of law, that should scare people. If he didn’t openly betray his country, he certainly betrayed the people who voted for him.

So what happens next?

Well, until the past couple of days, when the magnitude of the case against him became more evident, most Republicans and centrist Democrats were saying that impeachment was out of the question. I believed myself that until fear for their own futures outweighed their lust for power, Senate Republicans would never convict, no matter how compelling a case. It’s a sad state of affairs when most of the Senate is on the exact same level as the juries in those old Soviet show trials of the thirties.

It’s part and parcel of the Republican approach to the law in what is supposed to be a nation of laws. They are now openly contemptuous of the law—Orrin Hatch said yesterday that he simply didn’t care if Trump broke the law. He walked it back later, after discovering that the optics were bad, but you can be sure he still feels that way. Republicans sneer at the law, using it only as a device to attack Democrats and anyone else who doesn’t support them. We didn’t see those endless, fruitless investigations into the Clinton and Obama because Republicans loved and respected the law. They just wanted to use it as a cudgel if the found anything, and as a smear if they didn’t. Beyond that, they think the law is for suckers, for the little people.

We didn’t get to this point by accident. Nixon, who probably should have been hanged as a traitor, was dragged into the spotlight, accused of many lesser crimes, including perjury and obstruction of justice. The evidence was overwhelming, and he was forced to resign or be impeached. The nation breathed a sigh of relief. “Our long national nightmare has ended.” Remember that?

Then Ford pardoned him. Nixon would face no charges.

It was a body blow to American’s faith in the system. I remember that evening going to a coffee shop with a friend, and the waitress, who knew us as regulars, asked why we looked so down. “Ford just pardoned Nixon,” I replied. She snarled “Oh, goddammit” and threw the tray down. She ran out to the kitchen, and a few minutes later saw the manager walking her out, talking angrily to her. I was about to get up and defend her, tell the manager I said something that upset her and wanted to apologize but then saw the manager stop dead, stare at her, and as I approached, said, “Really? He did that?” He paused. “OK—clean that up, get back to work.”

It hurt America that that vicious dirtbag walk free.

Then George HW Bush did the same thing, issuing a raft of pardons at the end of his term, kicking the huge Iran-Contra case to splinters and letting many felons and traitors walk free. Instead of keeping his senile ass out of jail, Republicans felt free to talk about putting Reagan on Mount Rushmore, or replace FDR on the dime with their broken hero.

By that time, Republicans knew they were well above the law, but were free to abuse it to hurt others.

The people building the case against Trump know about Republican unearned privilege, too. That’s why a lot of the investigations have been taking place at the state level, where Trump’s power to pardon is annulled.

For Americans who haven’t drunk from the poisoned chalice of Republican entitlement, there is a sense of dread. Dread that Mueller, the Congress, and the other investigatory agencies might bring a damaged case that will let Trump and his minions off on a technicality (remember Ollie North?). The law-and-order crowd, who scream about people getting off on “technicalities” (such as police falsifying evidence, or browbeating simple minded victims into making false confessions) would just love it if Trump walked because a form was filed ten minutes after the deadline.

There remains the argument that a president shouldn’t be indicted. Trump named a ratfucker to the Supreme Court solely on the basis that said ratfucker believed presidents cannot be indicted, only impeached. Same ratfucker who fought for Jones vs. Clinton, upholding the right to sue a sitting president.

They dread that a trial might pull the country apart. A fair trial might; a biased trial certainly would.

They dread he’ll get a slap on the wrist. The sight of the near-treasonous Flynn walking while an abused 16 year old girl gets 51 years for killing her “owner” is a stark reminder of how fucked up justice is in the country, and how far the scales are biased in favor of rich white privilege.

And of course, they dread the pardon. Republicans have abused it to tear the soul out of the country, waitresses, soldiers, any honest person who wants an honest system. It’s possible that Pence will be indicted and convicted alongside Trump, since he’s tits deep in a lot of the emoluments violations, but will Pelosi, as president, have the resolve to allow justice to be done? Centrist Democrats are seen, with good reason, as being too accommodating and obliging to the fascist right, a party of Chamberlains who fail to grasp the nature of their adversaries.

This isn’t just a test of Trump and his sleazy criminal gang; it’s a test of the country, and the countries resolve to administer justice to the rich and powerful.

If they blow it again, that will be strike three.

Trump Bumps — His Road to Ruin is not a Smooth Ride

August 12th, 2018

Despite the obvious peril and potential for great harm to the nation and the world, it’s enjoyable watching Trump continue to personally disintegrate as all his crimes and disgraceful behavior catch up to him. But make no mistake: it’s a very dangerous time.

The nation has been here before. Nixon, of course, but before that, as well. In 1932 FDR and the Democrats won the election by vast margins, but the nation was on the verge of collapse, and it would be a full four months before FDR and the Democrats assumed control. In the meantime, Herbert Hoover and the Republicans, ideologically incapable of addressing the Great Depression, were in control, and persuing the same destructive policies that had served them and the nation so poorly over the past 3+ years. Hoover was not a villain, not insane, and not heedless of the destruction that was driving the country into a morass. In desperation, at one point he offered FDR a “copresidency” to work through to the day, still months off, when FDR would be inaugurated. FDR sensed a trap, or at least a no-win situation, and declined. The country writhed in agony.

By the time FDR did take office, a third of the banks were shuttered, a dozen states were using script because US currency was no longer trusted, and unemployment was over 30% and starvation was widespread.

The political situation caused by the long gap between the election and inauguration was so dire that a Constitutional Amendment (20th) was passed, making the inauguration the twentieth of January, and the convening of the new Congress even earlier, January 3rd. Never again, it was resolved, would the country go through a slow-motion hanging as it did during the winter of 1932-33.

When Nixon fell, the denouement, after two years of investigations, was relatively rapid. Despite the sense of crisis, the country sensed that Congress would do its job if required, and the Court would rule in the national interest. When the Supreme Court did rule, 8-0, that he must release the tapes, Congressional leaders went to Nixon and told him he no longer had any hope of avoiding impeachment and conviction, and a few days after that, he was gone.

The moral rot in the GOP began in 1964 when the right wing first seized control of the party, making it the party of the loony John Birchers. Four years later, and Nixon embraced the bigots and aggrieved whites of the South, the infamous “southern strategy” which put the party on a pernicious path of ongoing public deception. So both fiscally and socially, the party had to put false faces on their true aims, hiding designs on the public treasury behind false concerns about ‘big government’ and ‘fiscal responsibility’ (and they went on to triple the size of the federal government and are responsible for nine out of every ten dollars in the national debt), and hiding their racist and authoritarian aims behind fake patriotism, fake religion, and loud claims that anyone who opposed them was socialist, if not disloyal.

It was a toxic stew even before it embraced the loony fundamentalist movement under Reagan, and the belief that the law existed to harass and persecute non-Republicans under Newt Gingrich.

It explains why Trump came to be the presidential candidate for the GOP, and why the party is utterly supine in the face of his obviously disastrous presidency. He is their Frankenstein’s monster, and like the doctor, they have lost control of their creation.

During the Hoover crisis, Hoover was a decent man trapped in an impossible situation, locked in by the always-destined-to-fail policies of Wall Street. He went on to serve the country honorably after the war and redeemed himself. Nixon may have had little interest in the welfare of the citizenry, and his patriotism is certainly open to question, but Republicans, at least, realized his position was untenable, and they needed to do the right thing, if only to save their own asses.

The safeguards that saved us in 1933 and in 1974 aren’t there. Republicans, trapped between voracious plutocrats who sense a change to make America their own private property, and the toxic little authoritarians of the trash right who want to make America a racist theocracy, can’t move without risking an eruption and rebellion by their base. The Supreme Court is compromised, and stands to be a plaything for fascists if the Republicans ram through the Kavanaugh nomination. And of course, Trump is completely amoral, and may not be intellectually or emotionally capable of knowing when he has lost, and decide to pull everything down around with him, a Samson-smash, a bid for failed glory.

Still, it’s not hopeless. The “Unite the Right” movement has failed so utterly that even Trump worked up the courage today to condemn Nazis. The huge demonstration in Washington attracted only a few dozen—and thousands of anti-fascist counter demonstrators.

Trump needs extremes and extremists to promote himself. His entire political career is modeled, after all, on “New World Order” by A. Hitler. Obviously America isn’t ready for Nazism.

He needs plutocrats, and they need him only if they profit, and dismay at his economic policies is growing rapidly as trade wars and increasing tensions work to isolate and ruin America financially.

Still, for America, that is not a good solution. After all, if plutocrats and the trash right turn on Trump and destroy him, it leaves the country beholden to the same groups that created him in the first place.

Best answer: the people must vote in November, and drive the Republicans far from the reins of power, and reinstate democratic freedoms and sanity.

 

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