Brett Kavanaugh’s personal record is bad – but so is his judicial record

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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before Congress.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, for Friday, September 28 at 9 a.m. Republicans are anxious to hold the vote on Kavanaugh because each day seems to bring new allegations and scrutiny against the 53-year-old, whose appointment would be for life. Over the last two weeks, three women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault at the hands of Kavanaugh in high school and college.

Christine Blasey Ford, who is set to testify to the Senate about Kavanaugh, recalled a party in high school at which Kavanaugh pinned her down and attempted to remove her clothes. The second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, claims Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face during a college party at Yale. On Wednesday, a third woman, Julie Swetnick, alleged that Kavanaugh and his friends spiked drinks at high school parties and raped the girls.

Kavanaugh denies the allegations. He has boasted about his record on women’s issues and claimed there is a conspiracy against him. Meanwhile his Republican allies have doubled down on chauvinism. Many have downplayed Kavanaugh’s alleged behavior as simple immaturity, or boys being boys. Others have attacked the credibility of the accusers, including President Trump, who said Ramirez “has nothing” and “was totally inebriated and she was all messed up” when Kavanaugh tried to put his genitalia on her face.

These defenses do little to assuage concerns that Kavanaugh and the GOP are dismissive of women’s issues. Indeed, many of the attacks, as described by the accusers, paint Kavanaugh not so much as a hormonal, out-of-control teen, but as a boys’ club member seeking approval by victimizing women. As writer Andi Zeisler noted on Twitter, “The common thread in every alleged incident was turning a girl into a joke to bond with other guys.”

At one time, Kavanaugh might have been able to issue a sincere enough apology to make this problem go away. Boys do stupid things when they’re growing up, and Kavanaugh could have taken the opportunity to call attention to them, express remorse, and make a pledge for change. But sincere apologies are not the politicians’ forte, and the increasing seriousness of the allegations make any admission of guilt less likely. Kavanaugh has become more defiant in his denial even as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called on him to withdraw.

Despicable and disqualifying as the allegations are, they have unfortunately shifted attention away from Kavanaugh’s appalling record as a judge. A report by the consumer advocacy nonprofit, Public Citizen, reviewed Kavanaugh’s record and found an “overwhelming tendency to reach conclusions favorable to corporations and against the public interest.” In cases involving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, or the American Petroleum Institute, Kavanaugh sided with the business lobby in 25 out of 33 cases.

In a 2017 case, Kavanaugh was alone on a three-judge panel when he sided with insurance giant Anthem in its bid to buy rival Cigna; had the deal gone through, it would’ve created a large insurance trust and likely raised premiums for consumers. Kavanaugh once argued that net neutrality, which requires internet service providers to treat all content on their servers equally, violates the First Amendment rights of communications giants like Comcast and Verizon. In 2016 he ruled that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which protects Americans from predatory creditors, was unconstitutional; his decision was later overturned.

President Trump surely loves Kavanaugh’s enthusiastic, pro-corporate record, but he may have had another reason for selecting the judge. In a 2009 article, Kavanaugh wrote, “I believe that the President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office.” Kavanaugh further believed that any civil or criminal cases against a sitting president should be deferred until after that president leaves office, which would effectively immunize Trump from the Mueller investigation.

These are the most compelling reasons to exclude Brett Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court. Democrats have largely focused on Kavanaugh’s misleading testimony to Congress and doubled down on their #MeToo moment. It may pay off, as Senate Republican swing vote Lisa Murkowski has waffled in defense of Kavanaugh. But any examination of Kavanaugh’s judicial record should be more than sufficient to keep him off the bench.

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A compendium of Donald Trump’s criminality

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Left to right: Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, plead guilty to eight counts; Trump; and Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, who was convicted of eight more charges.

Within minutes of one another, two former high-level associates of President Donald Trump were found guilty of felonies last week. Paul Manafort, the chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign throughout the pivotal summer of 2016, was convicted on eight charges, including tax fraud and bank fraud. Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, pleaded guilty to eight charges, including tax evasion and making an excessive campaign contribution at the request of a candidate – the hush money paid to one of Trump’s mistresses.

Five of Trump’s former close associates have already been indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Manafort and Cohen join Michael Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Adviser; George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign; and campaign aid Rick Gates. Dozens of others have also been indicted. The president has thus far managed to stay just beyond reach, but the indictments and convictions underscore Trump’s lifelong adjacency to criminal activity. Continue reading

Donald Trump’s pipeline to Putin

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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shake hands at a summit in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16.

After his submissive appearance alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki last month, President Donald Trump faced some of the most severe and unanimous criticism of his chaotic political career. Members of Trump’s own party called the president “treasonous” and “disgraceful” while commentators speculated that Putin must have serious kompromat on Trump to make him behave so obsequiously. As the media and the FBI connect the dots of Putin and Trump’s relationship, their most obvious common interest in oil goes largely undiscussed. Continue reading

Republicans plead for civility

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Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant, an incident that became a flashpoint in the culture war.

For three years, Donald Trump has dominated America’s cultural conversation. In that time, he has accused Mexico of sending rapists and drug dealers over the border, mocked a disabled reporter’s handicap, encouraged his crowds to physically assault protesters, and labeled journalists the “enemy of the people.” As President, he has done all he can to shred America’s life-saving social safety net, banned Muslims from entering America, and held migrant children hostage in cages. Now, Trump and his enablers are asking for one thing: civility. Continue reading

Trump Administration dehumanizes victims to justify border atrocities

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After being separated from their parents at the border, the children of migrants are held in chain-link pens at military bases and prisons around the southern border.

By far the biggest story in national headlines this week was the Trump Administration’s policy of splitting up families crossing the southern border without authorization. Following a zero-tolerance policy enacted in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, detained parents have been sent to one facility and their children have been sent to another. Photos and videos of those children – confused, crying, and locked in cages – drew intense domestic and international condemnation. United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said, “The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable.” Continue reading

Trump’s dictator flirtations reflect his Big Business past

Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un

Trump met with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, one of the worst human rights violators on earth today, and came away feeling very charmed.

On June 12, President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un made history in the first-ever summit between an American and North Korean head of state. The two met in Singapore to discuss the North Korean nuclear weapons program and, according to President Trump’s account, got along splendidly.

Reactions to the meeting were mixed, but even many of Trump’s harshest critics acknowledged an air of cautious optimism following the summit. Getting along with another country, even one as brutal and oppressive as North Korea, is undeniably preferable to a global nuclear war. Yet there’s a big line between reaching a détente with North Korea and propping their dictatorial cult state up as a model for the world. Trump crossed that line repeatedly in statements he made after the meeting. Continue reading

Donald Trump and the right-wing presumption of innocence

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Right-wing media is universally friendly to Trump, taking his innocence for granted and echoing his conspiracy theories about the investigation into his shady world.

President Donald Trump has escalated his attacks on the special counsel investigating his campaign’s alleged ties to Russian election interference. Last week Trump unleashed a torrent of tweets in an attempt to undermine the investigation’s credibility. Even as a deluge of shady new information about Trump associates pours in daily, from his personal attorney to his own children and son-in-law, conservative talking heads have dug in their heels behind the president more defiantly than ever. Continue reading

Reminder: Torture is not our only crime

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Gina Haspel, who oversaw a CIA black site in Thailand, is poised to become the agency’s new director.

The Senate is prepared to confirm Gina Haspel, a longtime CIA official, to replace Mike Pompeo as the agency’s director. During her confirmation hearings, Haspel’s role in overseeing CIA torture programs – or “enhanced interrogation” – was a focal point. Haspel made headlines when she refused to answer Senator Kamala Harris’s question of whether “the previous interrogation techniques were immoral.” Her record on torture led Republican Senator John McCain, famously a torture survivor himself, to announce his opposition to her appointment. Continue reading

Right-wing snowflakes outraged over Michelle Wolf’s anti-elitist standup routine

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Comedian Michelle Wolf performs at the White House Correspondents Dinner, mere feet away from the targets of some of her most brutal jokes.

Comedian Michelle Wolf delivered a risqué performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner last Saturday and became a hot topic overnight. The annual dinner, which is typically a stuffy affair, brings together Democratic and Republican politicians and media personalities for a night of awkward, elitist camaraderie. Wolf’s performance, laced with explicit references to President Trump’s scandals and sexual history, earned the ire of the far-right – a rich irony, given that group’s crusade against political correctness. Continue reading

Trump embraces neoconservative foreign policy

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New National Security Advisor John Bolton, a neoconservative war hawk, looks on at President Donald Trump.

In the revolving door that is President Donald Trump’s Apprentice­-style White House, two major shake-ups in 2018 are especially concerning. Mike Pompeo, formerly the Director of the CIA, has replaced Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush, has replaced General H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor. Both men are super-hawks, torture defenders, and Islamophobes. Their move into the White House portends disaster, particularly in the Middle East. Continue reading