Kavanaugh Hearing, Day One: Unflattering Reviews

There have been significant disclosures in documents that have been made public. For example, most of the documents related to Kavanaugh’s work as an associate to Starr have been released. They include a 1998 memo in which Kavanaugh urged that Starr’s deputies pose sexually graphic questions to then-President Bill Clinton about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Many of the documents that have been shielded from disclosure come from Kavanaugh’s three years as associate White House counsel. Democrats have been particularly interested in whether documents would reveal more about whether Kavanaugh played a role in developing Bush’s policy on torture. In his 2006 confirmation hearing for the federal appeals court, Kavanaugh said that “I was not involved and am not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of combatants.”

The following year, The Washington Post reported that Kavanaugh had participated in a discussion in the White House Counsel’s Office about how Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, for whom he had clerked, would view the detainee policy. Durbin and other Democrats have said they felt misled by Kavanaugh’s denial and said they hoped that full disclosure of the files would reveal more on his role…

… [T]he entire Republican case for Kavanaugh is that he is “qualified”—went to the right schools, got on the right career track, etc.—and that his “qualifications” are the only measure by which his nomination should be judged. They all deplored the fact that the nominee (and his young children) should have to sit through this unruly hearing that John Cornyn, the unreconstructed dolt from Texas, called “mob rule,” and that had Orrin Hatch wishing for protestors to be kept away from his delicate self. Individually, Tailgunner Ted Cruz, once again sucking up to the president* who slandered his wife and father, accused the Democrats of wanting to “re-litigate” the 2016 presidential election, when “there was a vacant seat on the Supreme Court,” and in which “the American people” showed that they wanted Donald Trump to appoint his kind of judges by giving three million more votes to the other candidate…

And, inevitably, there was the Tailgunner, whose entire statement was oriented around the fact that the 2016 presidential election was unique because “there was a vacant seat on the Supreme Court.” Which led the wandering mind to the single, simple rebuttal to everything every Republican had said.

Merrick Garland.
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Republicans Move To Confirm Kavanaugh

I just realized that I don’t recall a post on Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. The hearings are coming up this week, and there are lots of questions. Here is some background.

How Brett Kavanaugh Would Transform the Supreme Court

…His confirmation would result in a rare replacement of the court’s swing justice, moving Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — a much more reliably conservative vote than Justice Kennedy — to the court’s ideological center…Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts were on the opposite sides of 51 closely divided decisions in which Justice Kennedy joined the court’s liberals…All of those precedents are at risk.

While Chief Justice Roberts, 63, would represent a sharp change as the swing justice, that does not mean that the court will make a sudden leap to the right. Chief Justice Roberts is generally inclined to move in incremental steps, and he cares about the Supreme Court’s legitimacy and prestige. “It is a jolt to the legal system when you overrule a precedent,” he said at his confirmation hearings in 2005.

That did not stop him from joining a decision in June that overruled a 40-year-old precedent in a decision that dealt a sharp blow to public labor unions. In general, though, a court with the chief justice at its center would most likely move steadily to the right in measured steps.

Kavanaugh worked in the Bush administration. Trump has declared executive privilege on that work so that Congress can’t examine Kavanaugh’s documents. (BuzzFeed, CNN)

Here’s the breakdown of likely Senate votes. Most commentators expect that Republicans will win.

Call your congresscritters. Stiffen the Democrats’ spines and excoriate the Republicans!

Predictable End of Summer Open Thread: The Wheels Are Coming Off Trump’s Wagon

If you are an elderly political cynic like me, you’ll remember the post-Watergate rumor that Bob Woodward was (still) an agent of the national intelligence community, assigned to remove an increasingly unhinged Nixon from the media spotlight before further investigation could expose just how badly compromised the “permanent, sane” Republican Party was. A rumor by which Carl Bernstein was labelled as a journalistic newbie who got played as a catspaw by more sophisticated outside agencies. Let’s just say that none of the news this week has debunked that old rumor…

From the Washington Post, “Allies fear Trump isn’t prepared for gathering legal storm”:

Within Trump’s orbit, there is consensus that his current legal team is not equipped to effectively navigate an onslaught of congressional demands, and there has been broad discussion about bringing on new lawyers experienced in white-collar defense and political scandals.

The president and some of his advisers have discussed possibly adding veteran defense attorney Abbe Lowell, who currently represents Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, to Trump’s personal legal team if an impeachment battle or other fights with Congress emerge after the midterm elections, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Trump advisers also are discussing recruiting experienced legal firepower to the Office of White House Counsel, which is facing departures and has dwindled in size at a critical juncture. The office has about 25 lawyers now, down from roughly 35 earlier in the presidency, according to a White House official with direct knowledge.

Trump announced Wednesday that Donald McGahn will depart as White House counsel this fall, once the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. Three of McGahn’s deputies — Greg Katsas, Uttam Dhillon and Makan Delrahim — have departed, and a fourth, Stefan Passantino, will have his last day Friday. That leaves John Eisenberg, who handles national security, as the lone deputy counsel…

Still, Trump has not directed his lawyers or his political aides to prepare an action plan, leaving allies to fret that the president does not appreciate the magnitude of what could be in store next year…

If Democrats control the House, the oversight committees likely would use their subpoena power as a weapon to assail the administration, investigating with a vengeance. The committees could hold hearings about policies such as the travel ban affecting majority-Muslim countries and “zero tolerance” family separation, as well as on possible ethical misconduct throughout the administration or the Trump family’s private businesses.

White House officials defended Trump’s lack of preparation by saying he is focused squarely on helping Republicans preserve their majorities in the Nov. 6 midterm elections rather than, in the words of one senior official, “panicking about something that could happen.”

Any Democratic salvos would not happen until new members take office in January, which Trump advisers said seems like eons away in an administration juggling so many immediate problems. As a result, preparing for possible impeachment proceedings is not at the top of Trump’s to-do list…
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The Eternal Democratic Tragedy, Take #27358: Perspiration vs. ‘Inspiration’

This crap, again. From the libertarian/center-right Atlantic, “How Sanders and Warren Will Decide Which One Runs for President”:

… [A]s the 76-year-old Sanders positions himself toward a second run for president, it’s Warren who again looms largest over his designs. At a January strategy meeting at the Washington, D.C., apartment of the aide Ari Rabin-Havt, Sanders acknowledged to confidantes in the room that the biggest threat to his pursuit of the 2020 nomination would be the 69-year-old former Harvard Law professor, according to a person familiar with the discussion.

As the two most recognizable faces of the progressive movement, Sanders and Warren are natural allies on a host of liberal causes, none more so than the economic inequalities that strain the nation. And yet each side’s camp believes that when it comes to the next presidential contest, the Democratic primary is only big enough for one of them…

Sanders advisers and allies believe he’s earned the right of first refusal: He was the runner-up to Clinton, galvanized a fresh flock of young voters, and fundamentally reframed the issue matrix for a hyper-progressive party going forward. He would start with a leg up: a nationally tested organization with the hardened experience of one presidential run already under its belt, an email list of 7 million proven donors, and the ability to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. (Tim Tagaris, Sanders’s digital–fund-raising guru, has privately floated a range of between $275 million and $300 million for a primary campaign, one aide recalls.) A common refrain bandied about in Bernieland is that Sanders won at least 40 percent of the primary vote in 37 states…

Meanwhile, those in Warren’s world, including outside activists who are encouraging a 2020 bid, note that she’d be the natural person to whom the older Sanders could pass the torch. They say she’d enjoy a higher ceiling of support with a broader constituency, due to her fortified relationships with both the progressive and more establishment wings of the party. (Warren’s team declined to comment on the record about Sanders, though her spokeswoman, Kristen Orthman, told me that “Elizabeth has great respect for Bernie, his leadership, and the grassroots organization he has built.”)

The senator from Massachusetts is also more strategic in her fights, her allies say, adding that many Clintonites still hold a bitter grudge against Sanders. “Warren has achieved the remarkable feat of increasing her cred with the base over the years while also increasing her power inside the Beltway,” says Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee who has all but endorsed a Warren White House bid. And Warren’s careful nourishment of her relationships—with fellow senators, state and federal regulators, and watchdog groups—gives her “by far the largest national network of any presidential candidate,” Green added…

While I (and I suspect Senator Warren) would prefer that she remain in Congress for the rest of both our lifetimes, I also suspect she’s preparing for (resigned to) running in the 2020 presidential primaries if there are no better alternatives. If, for some combination of unimaginable reasons, every good younger Democratic candidate (Harris, Booker, Gillibrand, et al) fails to enter the race, and the only competition is some no-hoper like the junior Senator from Vermont. Meanwhile, the general media perception that she must be running — because who wouldn’t, in her position? — simultaneously helps spotlight her target issues of financial malpractice and Republican corruption, while drawing Wingnut Wurlitzer fire that would otherwise be expended on more vulnerable Democratic candidates.
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Late Night of the (Duncan) Hunter Open Thread

The ol’ ball & chain! Ya know how wimmen are!

Repubs love them some TRADITION…

But the real entertainment value is watching never-Trumpist Tom Nichols’ knife fight with the MAGAts:

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GOP Criminality Open Thread: Trump Suddenly Very Interested in Prosecutorial Reform…

(One of the Law & Order series? Or does Fox News show Matlock re-runs?)

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Repub Grifters Gonna Grift… To Infinity, and Beyond!

Should’ve known there was more to Lord Smallgloves’ sudden emotional investment in SPACE! FARCE! than selling a few branded tchotches. Per the LA Times:

The concept had been pushed unsuccessfully since 2016 by a small group of current and former government officials, some with deep financial ties to the aerospace industry, who see creation of the sixth military service as a surefire way to hike Pentagon spending on satellite and other space systems.

Still, when Trump abruptly embraced the idea at Miramar — and began promoting it to wild applause at other rallies — a moribund notion opposed by much of the Pentagon hierarchy and senior members of the Senate became a real possibility.

A few days after the San Diego speech, Trump took a phone call at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida from Rep. Mike D. Rogers, an Alabama Republican who is chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces. He had been promoting the space force to Trump and his advisors for months.

“This is something we have to do,” Rogers said he told Trump. “It’s a national security imperative.”

“I’m all in,” Trump replied, according to Rogers. “We are going to have a space force.”…

Last summer, Rogers and Cooper inserted an amendment in the annual defense policy bill to create a separate service they called the space corps. It would be part of the Air Force, just as the Marine Corps is technically in the Navy.

But Rogers worried that putting it in the Air Force might not fly. The Air Force is dominated by fliers more interested in warplanes than in outer space, he noted in a speech last year, explaining Air Force opposition to a separate service…

Rogers, who was first elected to Congress by a razor-thin margin in 2002, has solidified control of his rural district, with a campaign war chest swelled with money from the aerospace industry. Defense industry firms have contributed $395,000 to his campaign committee and leadership PAC since 2017, becoming by far his largest industry donor, according to Open Secrets, a campaign spending database.
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