Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Last Call For Double Checking Justice Kegstand

Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is asking newly minted Attorney General Merrick Garland to double check the FBI's background check on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, mainly the question of who paid off Kavanaugh's six-figure credit card bills. Chuck Pierce explains:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is not kidding about tracing how dark money has come to influence the selection of judges for the federal bench. And now he’s found a big fish in a small barrel. From The Guardian:

Among the concerns listed in Whitehouse’s letter to Garland are allegations that some witnesses who wanted to share their accounts with the FBI could not find anyone at the bureau who would accept their testimony and that it had not assigned any individual to accept or gather evidence. “This was unique behavior in my experience, as the Bureau is usually amenable to information and evidence; but in this matter the shutters were closed, the drawbridge drawn up, and there was no point of entry by which members of the public or Congress could provide information to the FBI,” Whitehouse said.

And, while the allegations regarding Christine Blasey Ford were grim and awful, Whitehouse also has had his teeth into what always has been the hinkiest part of that whole episode—namely, how Kavanaugh’s substantial personal indebtedness was settled up before he was confirmed.

Of course, this is of a piece with Whitehouse’s campaign to expose to daylight the money that fuels the conservative judicial assembly line. In fact, during the confirmation process, Whitehouse sent Kavanaugh 14 pages of follow-up questions regarding his finances. From Mother Jones:

Other questions from Whitehouse addressed Kavanaugh’s unusual debt history. Not long after Trump nominated him, the Washington Post reported that since joining the DC Circuit Court of Appeals as a judge in 2006, Kavanaugh had run up a significant amount of debt that often appeared to exceed the value of his cash and investment assets. His debts on three credit cards, as well as a loan against his retirement account, totaled between $60,000 and $200,000 in 2016, according to his financial disclosure forms. The next year, his debts vanished. When he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week for his confirmation hearing, his financial disclosure form listed no liabilities aside from his $815,000 mortgage. His disclosures don’t show any large financial gifts, outside income, or even a gambling windfall, as Sotomayor’s had when she hit the jackpot at a Florida casino in 2008 and won $8,283.

(And, no, I did not know that Justice Sotomayor had beaten The House for eight-large. Nice work, Madam Justice. Bill Bennett would like some tips.)
Republicans of course are Very Very Mad™ at Merrick Garland's Partisan Witch Hunt™.

I of course could not care less.


Busting The Filibuster, Con't

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is scared enough that Dems will actually end the filibuster that he's whining to WIN THE MORNING 2.0 about it and warning that the GOP will eventually have total control of Congress and the White House again and will take the country back to 1955.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) again warned Democrats on Tuesday that eliminating the legislative filibuster would "break the Senate" and turn the chamber into a "100-car pileup" where chaos reigns.

Why it matters: Democrats are under increasing pressure from progressives to set aside the filibuster for issues of exceptional importance, such as voting rights legislation that would counter the wave of voting restrictions being passed by Republicans at the state level.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said on Monday that the filibuster is "making a mockery of American democracy" and is holding the chamber "hostage." 
But moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have said they oppose abolishing the measure, as has President Joe Biden.

The big picture: The filibuster, which makes most legislation in the Senate subject to a 60-vote threshold, is meant to protect the interests of the minority. But it has increasingly led to deadlock and turned the Senate into a legislative graveyard for bills passed by the House.

What they're saying: McConnell warned on the Senate floor Tuesday that if Democrats eliminate the filibuster and Republicans take back the majority, "we wouldn't just erase every liberal change that hurt the country — we'd strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies with zero, zero input from the other side." 
He promised that a Republican majority would immediately defund Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities, push abortion restrictions, ramp up security on the southern border and more. 
"Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like," the Republican leader warned.
Mitch is terrified, which makes me immediately ask why he didn't do this in 2017.  The reason is "he would actually have to be responsible for things" instead of blaming the Democrats for using the filibuster. Every vote in the Senate would be a tough vote, and Republicans are at heart, bullies and cowards. 

Mitch could have gotten rid of the filibuster at any time, but he didn't. Now he's warning that if Dems do it, he can blame them for what will happen in the future when he's running things.

That's an abuser's tactic, straight up. Dems should ignore him and kill the filibuster anyway.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

White supremacists in America have gravitated towards the US military and US police forces nationwide throughout history, and they've done it for several reasons (power, training, access to weapons, and legal immunity among the most common.) The US Capitol Police are no different in that respect.

A US Capitol Police officer has been suspended after anti-Semitic reading material was discovered near his work area on Sunday, according to a department spokesperson. 
The spokesperson said in a statement that Capitol Police acting Chief Yogananda Pittman on Monday ordered the officer to be suspended and the officer will remain suspended pending an outcome of an investigation by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility. 
"We take all allegations of inappropriate behavior seriously," Pittman said. "Once this matter was brought to my attention, I immediately ordered the officer to be suspended until the Office of Professional Responsibility can thoroughly investigate." 
The Washington Post first reported the officer was suspended after a congressional aide reportedly saw the document in plain sight at a checkpoint.

A printed copy of the Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion was left on a table inside an entrance to a House building, according to photos obtained by the Post. The text is a work of fiction published in a Russian newspaper in 1903, purporting to be documents showing a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. The falsified papers were used as propaganda and influenced Adolf Hitler, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. 
Flags, signs and symbols of racist, White supremacist and extremist groups were displayed along with Trump 2020 banners and American flags at the January 6 riot at the US Capitol. Explicitly anti-Semitic imagery was seen among rioters at the mob, and several police officers appeared to tolerate the rioters' behavior.

I mean it's just outright dumb at this point how obvious and blatant these clowns are even in a post-Trump era, and they expect there are enough pro-MAGA folks out there that they can get away with it. For the most part they are right, because that's how America has worked for 400 years.

For the most part.

They sometimes get caught, you see.

I still find it to be miraculous that no Democratic lawmakers were killed on January 6th. I really do.


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