Friday Reads: Justice Interrupted and a Queen of all SoulsPosted: August 17, 2018
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
There just doesn’t appear to be words to describe the clusterfuck we’re living through under one party rule right now. I’m going to start with the Kavanaugh SCOTUS appointment which is being railroaded through the Senate even though it’s clear that the majority of American people oppose him and he likely lied to Congress on his last appearance which is a felony.
Pat Leahy, the Democratric Senator from Vermont, believes strongly that Kavanaugh lied to him about the nature of his involvement in War Crimes and Torture during the Bush Administration. Grassley and McConnell seem intent to stop the committee from seeing any evidence of that. Leahy wrote a letter to Grassley today and released it to the public.
We have repeatedly expressed our serious concerns about the unprecedented lack of transparency and partisan process that is being used to hide Brett Kavanaugh’s record from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate as a whole, and the American people. Although Judge Kavanaugh amassed a substantial record during his five years in the Bush White House, to date, less than 3% of his record has been made available to the Committee, and 98.4% of his record is being withheld from the full Senate and the public. By comparison, for Elena Kagan’s nomination, 99% of her White House records were made available to Congress and the public.
We have stated all along that the unprecedented, partisan process being used for Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is a disservice to the Senate and to the American people. Now, we are seeing firsthand the problems that result from attempts to hide Judge Kavanaugh’s record. In particular, from the limited set of documents available, we have already seen records that call into serious question whether Judge Kavanaugh was truthful about his involvement in the Bush Administration’s post-9/11 terrorism policies when he testified before this Committee during his 2006 nomination hearing.
As you know, in 2006, Judge Kavanaugh told the Committee under oath that he was “not aware of any issues” regarding “the legal justifications or the policies relating to the treatment of detainees”; was “not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of combatants”; had nothing to do with issues related to rendition; and was unaware of, and saw no documents related to, the warrantless wiretapping program conducted without congressional authorization.
However, at least two documents that are publicly available on the Bush Library website from Judge Kavanaugh’s time as Staff Secretary suggest that he was involved in issues related to torture and rendition after 9/11. In one, just days after the existence of the Office of Legal Counsel “torture memos” was publicly revealed, then-Deputy White House Chief of Staff Harriet Miers forwarded to Judge Kavanaugh a set of talking points addressing the memos and U.S. torture policy. The forwarded email makes clear that then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley had personally asked for Judge Kavanaugh’s review. Similarly, another email shows that Judge Kavanaugh was included on an email chain circulating talking points on rendition and interrogation. These emails and talking points demonstrate why we need access to Judge Kavanaugh’s full record as Staff Secretary.
In addition, documents that have been produced to the Committee as part of the partisan process that you have brokered with Bill Burck further undercut Judge Kavanaugh’s blanket assertions that he had no involvement in or knowledge of post-9/11 terrorism policies. These documents are currently being withheld from the public at your insistence, but they shed additional light on Judge Kavanaugh’s involvement in these matters and are needed to question him in a public hearing.
After all, Judge Kavanaugh was an Associate White House Counsel on 9/11. Over the next several months and years, the White House sought legal opinions from the Office of Legal Counsel and advised the President on the legality of several controversial programs. For example, just six days after the 9/11 attack, Office of Legal Counsel lawyer John Yoo drafted a memorandum evaluating the legality of a program that would allow warrantless wiretapping of American’s e-mails and phone calls. Mr. Yoo, described in a public Inspector Generals’ report as “‘very well connected’ with officials in the White House,” addressed his memo to Deputy White House Counsel Timothy Flanigan, Judge Kavanaugh’s likely supervisor at the time. It is important for the public and full Senate to understand whether Judge Kavanaugh was involved in their communications, despite having told the Committee in 2006 that he had not seen or heard anything about the President’s warrantless wiretapping program until December 2005.
Whether Judge Kavanaugh misled this Committee in 2006 and his involvement in these White House policies are critically important to our consideration of his fitness for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. These are serious questions that could easily be addressed if we were given access to his records. As it stands, however, you have refused to join our request for Judge Kavanaugh’s Staff Secretary records and have sought to keep his White House Counsel documents secret as well.
We firmly believe that Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination cannot be considered unless these documents are available, including to the public and the Senate as a whole. We therefore urge you to join our request for Judge Kavanaugh’s Staff Secretary records and to publicly release documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s time in the White House in the same manner as was done for all previous Supreme Court nominees. The truth should not be hidden from the Senate or the American people.
Kavanaugh has the worst level of support since the Bork debacle. Women especially do not want Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.
A new poll from CNN shows that Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination is the least popular since Robert Bork’s nomination by Ronald Reagan. The overall percentage of polled Americans who would like to see Kavanaugh confirmed is a whopping 37 percent. Bork’s came in a little lower, at 31 percent.
The most interesting data from this poll is how many women across the ideological spectrum oppose the nomination. While 74 percent of Republicans say he should be confirmed, only 28 percent of women agree. This is even true among Democrats. A mere 6 percent of Democratic women say Kavanaugh should be confirmed, compared to 22 percent of Democratic men. Women are also more likely to view Kavanaugh’s positions as extreme. Only 35 percent of women consider his views mainstream, compared to 50 percent of men. Gee, it’s almost like if you fail to be directly impacted by policies like legal abortion, you’re less likely to care about them.
Igor Bobic–writing for HuffPo–states the clearly partisan process rolling its way over this important appointment. It is led by the same man that denied an appointment to Barrack Obama, Mitch McConnell.
The National Archives and Records Administration, which has historically been tasked with producing documents relating to Supreme Court nominees, distanced itself from the group of George W. Bush lawyers currently working on releasing Kavanaugh documents from his time in the Bush administration. The archival staff is conducting its own review of the nominee’s record, as requested by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), but they will not be able to fully comply until late October due to the sheer number of documents involved.
The nonpartisan agency said in a Wednesday statement that the Republican review of some of Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House is “completely apart” from the one it is working on, adding that the parallel review is “something that has never happened before.”
“This effort by former President Bush does not represent the National Archives or the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The Senate Judiciary Committee is publicly releasing some of these documents on its website, which also do not represent the National Archives,” the statement read, noting that former presidents have the right to access and release records of their administration.
Part of the reason why there has been so much partisan wrangling over Kavanaugh’s record is the fact that there has never been a Supreme Court nominee with such an extensive paper trail. As someone who spent five years working as a top aide in the White House, he’s got far more documents than Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch or President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan ― a sum that is said to total several million. It’s why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to nudge Trump into nominating other candidates in the first place, fearing it could pose difficulties for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
That exact scenario is playing out currently in the Senate, where Democrats are hammering Republicans for not being willing to produce his full record and pressing forward with the confirmation hearing before the National Archives is able to conduct its own review. On Thursday, Democrats announced they are prepared to sue the National Archives if the Freedom of Information Act request they filed seeking Kavanaugh’s documents isn’t honored.
“I think they realize if the American people knew just how Justice Kavanaugh felt before he became a judge, they might not want him to be there,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a floor speech on Thursday.
Rachel Maddow shared a rediscovered tape of Kavanaugh’s view that overturning established laws may be necessary to remove anything not clearly delineated in the Constitution directly.
Rachel Maddow shares a new tape of Donald Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh discussing Antonin Scalia’s opposition to marriage equality and abortion rights, characterizing them as “new rights” not guaranteed by the Constitution.
Democrats must seriously fight this nomination (via WBUR).
The facts here are pretty simple: Kavanaugh, if confirmed, would shape the court for a generation. Long after our reality TV POTUS is gone, his “legacy” would live on in the form of a pro-corporate, anti-union judiciary in which judges are but an extension of the billionaire donor class that underwrites the modern GOP.
Media companies are, these days, too focused on staging pundit brawls about profane tweets to document the stakes of a Kavanaugh confirmation.
For this reason, Democrats need to take immediate action, before their Republican colleagues once again outmaneuver them. That means seizing control of the narrative by promising the media what it lusts after: a fight.
Every single Democrat in Congress should gather on the steps of the Supreme Court and explain to the American people what’s going on here:
That the GOP — by means of naked intransigence — already has stolen one seat on the high court and won’t get another.
That Kavanaugh is an illegitimate pick, nominated by a president who lost his election by three million votes and who is currently under criminal investigation for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to subvert our democracy.
That Kavanaugh himself would serve not as an impartial jurist, but as a hyper-partisan legal bodyguard for a demagogue president so venal and mistrusted that he has resorted to forcing his employees to sign illegal non-disclosure agreements.
That Kavanaugh would twist the Constitution into knots seeking to protect the president from being questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. We know this for a fact because Kavanaugh — who once worked as one of Kenneth Starr’s legal attack dogs — has since had a change of heart, and wrote in 2009 that Clinton should never have been investigated. Why? Because indicting a sitting president “would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.”
That, even more galling, we know that Kavanaugh spoke out against the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to release the Watergate tapes. In other words, he believesthat the president is above the rule of law.
Meanwhile, every one has to endure this kind of crap coming from Franklin Graham who really should be sent to an island to live by himself. “Franklin Graham compares Chelsea Clinton’s views on abortion with Hitler’s views on ‘killing the Jews'” from The Hill.
Evangelist leader and vocal Trump supporter Franklin Graham on Thursday went after Chelsea Clinton for saying women’s access to abortion helped boost the economy, saying that Hitler probably claimed that “killing the Jews” would be good for the German economy.
Graham took to Twitter to share Clinton’s comments from “Rise Up for Roe” — a pro-abortion event advocating against the confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh — at its tour stop in New York.
“@ChelseaClinton, daughter of former President @BillClinton & @HillaryClinton, claims that legalizing abortion added trillions of dollars to the economy,” Graham tweeted alongside a link to a Breitbart News article about Clinton’s remarks. “What a lie. Hitler probably also claimed that killing the Jews would be good for their economy.”
Clinton said earlier this week that there was a connection between Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, and the economy.
“It is not a disconnected fact … that American women entering the labor force from 1973 to 2009 added $3.5 trillion to our economy,” Clinton said at the event. “The net, new entrance of women — that is not disconnected from the fact that Roe became the law of the land in January of 1973.”
The Hill has reached out to the Clinton Foundation, of which Clinton is a board member, for clarification on the source of the statistic she cited.
Clinton defended her comments on Tuesday, tweeting that her words have been misrepresented. Clinton pointed to a recent study she led, which found a connection between women’s access to abortion and socioeconomic consequences.
“Reproductive rights have always been economic rights,” Clinton tweeted. “A recent study found denying women — often already mothers — a wanted abortion results in years of less employment & more family poverty.”
They religious wrongs just cannot leave the Clinton Family alone.
Meanwhile, you’ll notice that I’m providing my tribute to the Queen of Soul. Here’s one from Bitter Southerner Patterson Hood that I can feel.
I’m not saying goodbye to Aretha Franklin. I’m sure I never will in my lifetime. Her music will remain with me as a fixture in our home for as long as I live, and it’s a tradition that my own kids will no doubt carry forward after I’m gone. I’m glad she is no longer suffering. She no doubt lived a full life full of ecstatic moments and majesty. She has left behind a legacy of work that is written into the bedrock of the American art form that she defined and transcended. There was no greater singer in the 20th century, and those Atlantic recordings are stouter monuments to what’s great about our country than anything that could ever be carved into stone. Her songs are living, breathing monuments to the soul of man and woman and race and history and culture. Of the American ideal. The human experience.
I won’t say goodbye, but I will say thank you. Thank you, Aretha Franklin, for turning the pains, sufferings, and transcendent joys of the human experience into an art form that can be blasted from the tiniest transistor radios or the finest McIntosh amplified stereos. They are sounds of our hearts and souls on fire.
Ms. Franklin’s airborne, constantly improvisatory vocals had their roots in gospel. It was the music she grew up on in the Baptist churches where her father, the Rev. Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, known as C. L., preached. She began singing in the choir of her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, and soon became a star soloist.
Gospel shaped her quivering swoops, her pointed rasps, her galvanizing buildups and her percussive exhortations; it also shaped her piano playing and the call-and-response vocal arrangements she shared with her backup singers. Through her career in pop, soul and R&B, Ms. Franklin periodically recharged herself with gospel albums: “Amazing Grace” in 1972 and “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism,” recorded at the New Bethel church, in 1987.
But gospel was only part of her vocabulary. The playfulness and harmonic sophistication of jazz, the ache and sensuality of the blues, the vehemence of rock and, later, the sustained emotionality of opera were all hers to command.
Ms. Franklin did not read music, but she was a consummate American singer, connecting everywhere. In an interview with The New York Times in 2007, she said her father had told her that she “would sing for kings and queens.”
“Fortunately I’ve had the good fortune to do so,” she added. “And presidents.”
So, that’s enough for me today. I’m going to do some stuff and listen to Aretha sing out about the peaks and depths of the human condition as I have since being a kid. And, I’ll sing along, albeit quite badly.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?