Saturday, September 1, 2018

Last Call For Supreme Misgivings

The White House isn't even pretending about Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, he's there to be rubber-stamped by 50 GOP senators, plus John McCain's replacement in order to give the Republicans the final vote they need to dismantle 80 years of classic liberalism permanently, and they're not even feigning that his odious record as a jurist matters in the least anymore.

The Trump administration is withholding more than 100,000 pages of Brett Kavanaugh’s records from the Bush White House on the basis of presidential privilege ahead of the Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation hearing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was notified of the action Friday. George W. Bush’s attorney Bill Burck told the panel it had essentially completed its work compiling documents, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. Bush directed them to err “on the side of transparency and disclosure, and we believe we have done so.”

But the current administration is also able to review the records, and the Trump White House “has directed that we not provide these documents,” the letter says.

In all, 267,000 pages of Kavanaugh documents from his Bush years are being made public.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called it “a Friday night document massacre.”

Schumer said the decision to withhold the documents “has all the makings of a cover-up. ... What are they trying so desperately to hide?”

What does it matter, Chuck?  You already made your deal with the GOP devils, and you'll fold on Kavanaugh too.

A sudden deal made by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on a set of judicial nominees has made Democratic activists livid.

With Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing looming next week, Schumer reached an agreement late Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to fast-track the confirmations of 15 Trump-nominated judicial picks. Seven federal district court judges were confirmed that day, and eight were put on the docket for confirmation next week.

A Senate Democratic aide says that the majority of the nominees greenlit as part of this deal were uncontroversial anyway — and emphasizes that Schumer’s efforts enable Democrats to hit the campaign trail, giving red-state Democrats a few extra days in their home states before coming back for Sen. John McCain’s memorial services this week.

But Democratic activists aren’t buying it — and many were concerned that this move showed weakness, especially going into the high-stakes Kavanaugh hearing.

“Mitch McConnell is in the middle of stealing the federal courts for conservatives, and Democrats continue to bring a butter knife to a gunfight,” said Brian Fallon, the head of activist group Demand Justice, which is leading opposition efforts against Kavanaugh, in a statement. “Democrats should be resisting Trump’s judge picks at every turn, not agreeing to fast-track them, as happened this week. It is hard to think of a more pathetic surrender heading into the Kavanaugh hearings.”

In the end I expect Kavanaugh to be confirmed with more than 55 votes, if not 60.   And when he's the fifth vote that gives Trump the power he needs to shut down the Mueller probe and start with full autocracy, maybe we'll remember.

The inevitability of Kavanaugh isn't thanks to 51 Republicans, but 49 cowards.

Trump In The Bunker, Con't

As Greg Sargent at the Washington Post notes, this week marked a notable, frightening, and dangerous shift in Trump's rhetoric at rallies as the Mueller investigation closes in on the Trump regime.  He's no longer campaigning for Republicans or rallying the base, he's naming enemies and expecting his supporters to take action regarding them.

At his rally on Thursday night in Indiana, President Trump unleashed his usual attacks on the news media, but he also added a refrain that should set off loud, clanging alarm bells. Trump didn’t simply castigate “fake news.” He also suggested the media is allied with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe — an alliance, he claimed, that is conspiring not just against Trump but also against his supporters.

“Today’s Democrat Party is held hostage by left-wing haters, angry mobs, deep-state radicals, establishment cronies and their fake-news allies,” Trump railed. “Our biggest obstacle and their greatest ally actually is the media.”

In case there is any doubt about what Trump meant by the “deep state” that is supposedly allied with the news media, Trump also lashed out at the FBI and the Justice Department, claiming that “people are angry” and threatening to personally “get involved.”

Robert D. Chain, who was arrested this week for allegedly threatening to murder journalists at the Boston Globe while mimicking Trump’s language, also connected Mueller’s investigation to the media. “You’re the enemy of the people, and we’re going to kill every f–––ing one of you,” Chain snarled into one employee’s voicemail, according to FBI documents. “Why don’t you call Mueller, maybe he can help you out.”

Trump surely knew about this arrest when he repeated his attacks on the news media Thursday night — and when he connected the media to the Mueller investigation as part of a grand conspiracy against him and his voters.

Periodically in this country, whenever there is violence with a political cast, or whenever political rhetoric strays into something more menacing than usual, we hold debates about the tone of our politics and their capacity for incitement. Whether rhetorical excess can be blamed for violence or the threat of it is a complicated topic with no easy answers. But even so, in most or all of these cases, whichever side is culpable, most of our elected leaders on both sides have used their prominence to calm passions in hopes of averting future horrors.

This time, something different is happening. At this point, there is no longer any denying that Trump continues to direct incendiary attacks against working members of the free press even though his own language is being cited by clearly unhinged people making horrifying death threats against them.

That a raging Donald Trump was going to incite more violence against journalists was a given, and bad enough given the fact more journalists will be killed as a result of his violent, eliminationist rhetoric.  But now he's extending the "Enemies of the People" category to those investigating him, and to those politically opposing them.

This week, Trump marked them for violence too.

It's only a matter of time before somebody takes him up on the offer.

Lundergan in Trouble Again

Looks like the feds have finally dropped the hammer on both the Lundergans, Dem party boss Jerry and his daughter, current KY Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, over major campaign finance violations.

Longtime Kentucky Democratic operatives Jerry Lundergan and Dale Emmons were indicted by a federal grand jury in Lexington Friday for allegedly making illegal contributions to the 2014 U.S. Senate campaign of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and then conspiring to cover them up.

Emmons was indicted on six counts and Lundergan was indicted on 10 counts after investigators found they “willingly and knowingly” made corporate contributions of more than $25,000 to Grimes’ campaign and then worked to make false entries in the campaign’s financial records to cover up the contributions.

The indictment alleges that Lundergan and an employee of his company approached campaign consultants and vendors and told them to bill S.R. Holding Co. for work they did for his daughter’s campaign. He then did not seek reimbursement from Grimes’ campaign and only sought partial reimbursement after a grand jury subpoenaed records from Lundergan.

It also alleges that Emmons provided political consulting to the campaign, but billed Lundergan and S.R. Holding instead of the campaign, and was paid with corporate funds. When vendors billed Emmons’ business for campaign services, he was allegedly reimbursed by Lundergan and not the campaign.

The indictment says Lundergan and Emmons concealed the scheme from the campaign, causing them to file false reports with the Federal Elections Commission.

The indictments strike at the heart of the Democratic establishment in Kentucky and raise serious questions about the political future of Lundergan’s daughter, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Grimes is considering a run for either attorney general or governor in 2019.

Lundergan, 71, has for years led a faction of the Kentucky Democratic Party, taking control of the entire party as its chairman twice: once between June and August of 1988 and again from 2005 to 2007. He later would serve as the architect behind his daughter’s campaigns for secretary of state and U.S. Senate.

Emmons, 66, is a close friend of the Lundergan family and has worked on numerous statewide and legislative campaigns as a political consultant, including Grimes’ 2014 Senate campaign.

At this point the question has to be asked about how much Alison Grimes knew.  And I hate to say it, but compared to Jack Conway and Andy Beshear, Grimes was our best shot at taking down Matt Bevin in 2019.

Bevin jumped into the race last weekend. Before, there was serious speculation as to if he would even bother running earlier in August after this spring's teachers' strike, seeing how unpopular he taking away Medicaid from 10% of the state's population is and how Grimes was in a great position to kick his ass.  She responded yesterday:

Now that's in the toilet, and I have to say I'm betting Bevin suddenly threw his hat into the ring because he knew this hammer was about to fall.  Kentucky Republicans are already demanding that Grimes all but resign:

That pressure won't let up, either.  I'm sure Bevin will direct AG Andy Beshear to investigate Grimes well into 2019. Either way, I'm tired of dynastic Democrats losing in this state, and losing for increasingly stupid reasons.  This state can't take another four years of Bevin.  Lives are literally on the line here.

It's infuriating.

The Cracks Are Finally Getting Big Enough To Notice

If this month's Washington Post/ABC News poll is accurate, it marks the first real time we've seen Trump lose support from his base as his total disapproval rating is now 60%, a majority believe he has obstructed the Mueller probe, and a plurality now favors impeachment.

President Trump’s disapproval rating has hit a high point of 60 percent, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds that clear majorities of Americans support the special counsel’s Russia investigation and say the president should not fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

At the dawn of the fall campaign sprint to the midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats retake control of Congress, the poll finds a majority of the public has turned against Trump and is on guard against his efforts to influence the Justice Department and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s wide-ranging probe.

Nearly half of Americans, 49 percent, say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings that could lead to Trump being removed from office, while 46 percent say Congress should not.

And a narrow majority — 53 percent — say they think Trump has tried to interfere with Mueller’s investigation in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice; 35 percent say they do not think the president has tried to interfere.

Overall, 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s job performance, with 36 percent approving, according to the poll. This is only a slight shift from the last Post-ABC survey, in April, which measured Trump’s rating at 56 percent disapproval and 40 percent approval.

The new poll was conducted Aug. 26 to 29, in the week after former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted of federal tax and bank fraud and after former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty and implicated the president in illegal payments to silence women who alleged sexual encounters with Trump.

The four-month gap between Post-ABC polls makes it difficult to attribute the modest uptick in disapproval of Trump to specific events. Other public polls have shown Trump’s disapproval rating in the low- to mid-50s and have not tracked a rise since the Manafort conviction and Cohen guilty plea. 

Here's the real problem for Trump however:

You catch that?  His approval rating among Independents is down to 35%, and among his own party it's now under 80%.  Trump's approval rating among Republicans has been very high, in July it was a whopping 87%.  It hasn't been this low since January and the tax/budget mess in this poll.

However, the prospects for Trump's news getting better were much higher in January, and from January to July, Trump's numbers got significantly better.  He's given all that back now, and he's back in the hole again.

We'll see if he stays there.

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