Senate GOP confirms highly controversial Trump judicial nominee

MSNBC

The Rachel Maddow Show – The MaddowBlog

Senate GOP confirms highly controversial Trump judicial nominee

By Steve Benen             November 14, 2019
Trump nominee worked on illegal plan to deny help to scam victims

It’s not just the quantity of Donald Trump’s judicial nominees who’ve been confirmed by Senate Republicans, it’s also the quality that’s striking.Steven Menashi, one of Donald Trump’s far-right lawyers, has become one of the year’s most controversial judicial nominees for good reason. The New York conservative, nominated for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, has a tough-to-defend record of radicalism that includes an argument about democratic countries working better when everyone is of the same ethnicity. Demand Justice’s Brian Fallon described Menashi as “a perfect storm of awful.”

What’s more, as regular readers may recall, his confirmation hearing did not go well. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) chided  Menashi for not being more forthcoming, as did Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.).

As Jennifer Bendery explained, it didn’t matter:

The Senate voted Thursday to make Steven Menashi a lifetime federal judge, despite his inflammatory writings about women’s rights and diversity, his refusal to answer senators’ questions and his role in devising an illegal Education Department effort to deny debt relief to students cheated by for-profit colleges.

Every Democrat present voted against confirming Menashi, who is President Donald Trump’s choice for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. Every Republican present but one, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), voted to confirm him. The final tally was 51-41.

A majority of the judges on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals have now been nominated by Republican presidents –a first since the early 1990’s.

That said, Menashi, who’s only 40 years old, is an especially difficult jurist to defend.

To go along with confirming him, Senate Republicans had to overlook Menashi’s ugly record on matters related to race, women, and the LGBTQ community. And then they also had to overlook the fact that Menashi has never tried a case, made oral arguments, or conducted a deposition.

And then they also had to overlook the nominee’s role in devising an illegal scheme at the Department of Education that punished victims of scam for-profit colleges.

For 51 Senate Republicans, none of this was a deal-breaker. Menashi will likely now serve on the federal appellate bench – just one level below the U.S. Supreme Court – for the next several decades.

I’ve long believed the lasting effects of the Trump era can be boiled down to the three C’s: the climate, the nation’s credibility, and the federal courts. Health care benefits can be restored, alliances can be rebuilt, and tax breaks can be scrapped, but the lost years on dealing with the climate crisis are tragic; it’ll be a long while before the world forgets that we’re a country capable of electing someone like Trump; and with Republicans confirming young, far-right ideologues to the bench at a brutal clip, we can expect a generation’s worth of conservative court rulings.

Remember the Applause That Followed Marie Yovanovitch Out of That Hearing Room

Esquire

Remember the Applause That Followed Marie Yovanovitch Out of That Hearing Room

It was a spontaneous outburst of appreciation for honest government and a spontaneous declaration that the country is tired of being used to feed the limitless ego and boundless psychoses of the vulgar talking yam.

Former U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Testifies At Impeachment HearingPOOLGETTY IMAGES

(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To The Last Post Of The Week From The Blog’s Favourite Living Canadian)

Did you notice? This was the week they gave up.

The House Republicans defending the president* against the inquiry into his possible impeachment gave up defending him on the merits, and they gave up on it entirely. All of their complaints centered around the process, even though the process is being conducted according to rules Republicans established when they were hunting snipes over Benghazi. Rep. Elise Stefanik managed, by her constant complaining, to hitch her entire political future to the future of Camp Runamuck. By Friday, confronted by the quiet steel of Marie Yovanovitch, the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee said more nice things about her than they did about the president*. Even Jim Jordan was polite within his own narrow limits. The lone exception was Rep. Mike Turner, Republican of Texas, who wagged his finger at Yovanovitch and peremptorily told her, “You’re done.”

But let’s talk about how the day ended. Committee chairman Adam Schiff read the riot act to the administration* and gaveled the meeting to a close. Rep. Mike Conaway, Republican of Texas, began to bellow about how he wanted to speak and then, suddenly, as Yovanovitch got up to leave, the entire room burst into loud applause, drowning out Conaway’s objections. The ovation followed Yovanovitch out of the room. The Democrats on the committee, not having arrived on turnip trucks, joined in the applause.

If, somehow, the president* is turned out of office, which seems just a bit less unlikely now than it seemed at the beginning of the week, remember that applause. It was a signifying moment for all concerned. It was a spontaneous outburst of appreciation for honest government and a spontaneous declaration that the country is tired of being used to feed the limitless ego and boundless psychoses of the vulgar talking yam who lucked into the most powerful job in the world. Remember when people cheered Marie Yovanovitch, thanking her for her simple desire to do the job she was hired to do.

Fox News’ Judge Napolitano just urged Republicans to impeach Trump in a viral speech.

Occupy Democrats

November 12, 2019

🔥🔥 BREAKING: WOW!! Fox News’ Judge Napolitano just urged Republicans to impeach Trump in a viral speech. 🔥🔥

Video by Occupy Democrats host Brian Tyler Cohen.

🔥🔥 Fox Judge urges Republicans to impeach Trump in viral speech 🔥🔥

🔥🔥 BREAKING: WOW!! Fox News' Judge Napolitano just urged Republicans to impeach Trump in a viral speech. 🔥🔥Video by Occupy Democrats host Brian Tyler Cohen.

Posted by Occupy Democrats on Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Despite reality, Trump credits Ivanka with creating 14 million jobs

MSNBC

The Rachel Maddow Show – The MaddowBlog

Despite reality, Trump credits Ivanka with creating 14 million jobs

By Steve Benen                November 12, 2019
In this file photo taken on June 29, 2019 (front L-R) Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, advisor to the US President Ivanka Trump, US President Donald Trump and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo attend an event on women's empowerment during the G20 Summit
In this file photo taken on June 29, 2019 (front L-R) Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, advisor to the US President Ivanka Trump, US President Donald Trump and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo attend an event on women’s empowerment during the G20 Summit in Osaka. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump said more than a few ridiculous things in his remarks today to the Economic Club of New York, but the president’s claim about one of his adult children was especially jarring.

President Trump claimed Tuesday that his daughter Ivanka Trump – who is also a White House senior adviser – has created 14 million jobs, according to Mediaite. “My daughter Ivanka, that’s all she wants to talk about… she wants to make these people have great lives. And when she started this, two and half years ago, her goal was 500,000 jobs,” the president said at the Economic Club of New York while discussing the administration’s “Pledge to America’s Workers.”

“She has now created 14 million jobs and they are being trained by these great companies, the greatest companies in the world, because the government cannot train them. It’s a great thing.”

If you watch the video clip, note that the president repeated the line more than once – and then promoted it on Twitter.

If true, this would be quite an accomplishment for the president’s adult daughter, wouldn’t it? Donald Trump has already tasked Ivanka Trump for playing key roles in international diplomacy, and he’s considered her for powerful positions, including posts at the World Bank and the United Nations.

What we didn’t know is that, in addition to these other areas of her portfolio, the young White House official also managed “create 14 million jobs,” apparently very quickly.

If true, that would be quite an accomplishment. In reality, however, the claim is not to be taken seriously.

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Donald Trump has been in office for 33 full months, during which time the economy has created 6.25 million jobs. That’s pretty good, though it’s a significant decline as compared to the final 33 months of Barack Obama’s presidency.

But to hear the Republican tell it, while he wants credit for creating 6.25 million jobs, he wants his daughter to receive credit for creating 14 million jobs – more than double that of his entire presidency.

If this sounds at all familiar, it’s because the president made a similar boast in February, telling the nation’s governors, “My daughter has created millions of jobs. I don’t know if anyone knows that, but she’s created millions of jobs.”

Now, he’s even more specific: “millions of jobs” has become “14 million jobs.” I shudder to think where the made-up number will be next year.

What Ivanka Trump actually did was help launch a “Pledge to America’s Workers” initiative in which many companies pledged to help train workers over the course of several years. That’s a worthwhile thing to do, but evidence of actual training is, at least at this point, rather thin, and none of this has anything to do with millions of jobs having been created by the effort.

What the president doesn’t seem to understand is that implausible lies with no grounding in reality in are literally unbelievable.

To the cowardly republi-cons in congress; this is what courage looks like.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, text that says 'Thinking of Sophie Scholl, who was executed on this day in 1943 for leading student resistance against Hitler. She was 21. Our Resilient Bodies February 22 at 3:03pm Her last words: "How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to righteous cause? Such fine sunny day, and have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people awakened and stirred to action?"'
Warren Lynn: Because 75 years is too short to forget…lest we repeat the past.

The truly frightening thing about Nikki Haley’s big revelation

CNN – Politics

The truly frightening thing about Nikki Haley’s big revelation

 

(CNN)In her forthcoming book about her time in the Trump White House, former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley claims that she was recruited by White House chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to subvert the wishes of President Donald Trump.

 

“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the President, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” writes Haley in “With All Due Respect,” which is out on Tuesday. (The Washington Post obtained an early copy.)
In the wake of that revelation, much has been made — by Haley — of the fact that she resisted those entreaties. “It should have been, go tell the President what your differences are and quit if you don’t like what he’s doing,” Haley told CBS over the weekend. “To undermine a President is really a very dangerous thing. And it goes against the Constitution and it goes against what the American people want. It was offensive.”
But the focus on Haley — and what she did or didn’t do — misses the point, which is this: Two of the top Cabinet officials within the Trump administration were concerned enough about the behavior of the President of the United States that they were actively reaching out to other influential members of the Cabinet to actively work around him.
That is a VERY big deal. Especially when you consider how Tillerson and Kelly came into their jobs.
The former was the head of Exxon, a massive, multinational company. Trump touted Tillerson as the crown jewel of his Cabinet — a hugely successful and accomplished businessman that only this President could recruit to work for the government.
The latter was a hugely accomplished general who led Southern Command among other gigs in a lifetime spent in the military.
It was these resumes that drew Trump to them. Of all his Cabinet officials, he bragged on these two the most in the early days of his White House. Of Tillerson, Trump said: “He’s a world-class player. He’s in charge of an oil company that’s pretty much double the size of its next nearest competitor.” He so valued Kelly that he when the chief of staff job opened, Trump moved the general from his post as head of the Department of Homeland Security to the vacant job.
Neither of these men were “never Trumpers.” Both were Trump’s top picks for hugely important jobs — perhaps the two most powerful Cabinet gigs — and, at least in the early days of Trump’s presidency, were considered primetime players. These were the people who, along with Trump, were going to shape the future of the country and the world.
Neither Tillerson nor Kelly can be accurately described as so-called “deep state” actors either. Both men were new to this level of government. They were the farthest thing from embedded within the vast government bureaucracy. And not to sound like a broken record, but Trump appointed both of them!
So consider what it means that within a relatively short period of time, not only had both men identified major concerns with the President, but were so concerned that they were reaching out to others within the administration to try recruit them to a protect-the-country-at-all-costs mission.
You can absolutely question — as Haley has done — why Tillerson and Kelly didn’t just resign rather than trying to run a persuasion campaign within the White House to sideline the President. (My guess would be that they would say they were worried what might happen if they left.
And such a danger that they were in the process of actively recruiting people within the administration to help them keep the President from doing anything that would endanger the country.
Think about that. It’s terrifying.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly identify that former White House chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were the two officials whom Nikki Haley alleges tried to recruit her to subvert Trump’s wishes. The story has been updated to correctly reference Kelly throughout.

Perry backers secured lucrative Ukraine gas deal

TheHill.com

Perry backers secured lucrative Ukraine gas deal after his meeting with new president: report

By John Bowden         November 11, 2019

Two political backers of Energy Secretary Rick Perry landed a lucrative oil and gas exploration deal from Ukraine’s government shortly after Perry reportedly included one of the two men in a list of suggested potential advisers to Ukraine’s new president, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reported Monday that Michael Bleyzer was among four names Perry had recommended to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Bleyzer and partner Alex Cranberg later got a contract to drill for oil and gas despite despite offering a bid that was lower than their only other competitor, the AP reported citing internal Ukrainian government documents.

The contract was awarded to Bleyzer and Cranberg because they were deemed as having better technical expertise and stronger financial backing, the AP also reported, citing the documents.

A major GOP donor, Bleyzer supported Perry’s unsuccessful 2012 bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He is based in Perry’s home state of Texas.

He told the AP in a statement that Perry’s conversations with Ukraine’s government “did not play any role in Ukrainian Energy winning its bid” in the country and added that the process “will hopefully serve as an example of how the Ukrainian energy market can be opened for new investments.”

A spokesperson for the Energy Department denied to The Hill that Perry advocated for any specific U.S. figures or business interests during his conversations with Ukraine’s government.

“Throughout his tenure, Secretary Perry has championed the American energy industry all over the world. As previously stated, throughout his engagements with Ukrainian officials Secretary Perry has consistently called for the modernization and reform of Kyiv’s business and energy sector in an effort to create an environment that will incentivize Western companies to do business in Ukraine,” said spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes.

“He delivered that same message during his visit to Ukraine for the Inauguration of President Zelenskyy [sic]. What he did not do is advocate for the business interests of any one individual or company,” she added.

The awarding of a contract to a Perry political ally in Ukraine comes as President Trump’s own conversation with Ukraine’s president about opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden has become central to the House’s impeachment inquiry.

Perry has refused to turn over documents related to his interactions with Ukraine as part of the Trump administration’s policies, as requested by a House subpoena.

Bill Moyers Says He Fears For The Nation For The First Time In His Life

HuffPost

Legendary Journalist Bill Moyers Says He Fears For The Nation For The First Time In His Life

By Mary Papenfuss           November 10, 2019

Veteran journalist Bill Moyers said Sunday that for the first time “in my long life” — including the Depression and World War II — he fears for the nation’s survival.

A “society, a democracy, can die of too many lies — and we’re getting close to that terminal moment unless we reverse the obsession with lies that are being fed around the country,” Moyers told Brian Stelter on CNN.

Hope rests in citizens paying careful attention to the televised impeachment hearings beginning this week on Wednesday and Friday in the House, noted Moyers, who served for two years as President Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary. He has urged PBS to rebroadcast the hearings during prime time so that they more easily be seen by working people.

“Do facts matter anymore?” Moyers asked, referring to the impeachment investigation. “I think they do. I think they mattered in the Watergate hearings, in the Clinton hearings, and I think they’ll matter this time, too.”

He referred to Trump’s “astonishing” response from the crowd at a campaign rally last month in Louisiana.

“They believed everything he said,” Moyers noted. “I’m hoping only 10% of those people watch the hearings … They will see it is not a witch hunt, and they will begin to doubt their master. And they will begin to break off and maybe become a citizen again.”

Moyers believes Trump still has a “pretty good” chance of winning the 2020 election, but that only a “slight shift” in people who “begin to doubt” could make a significant difference.

Check out Moyers’ remarks in the clip above.

Trump threatens to pull federal aid for California

The Rachel Maddow Show – The MaddowBlog

Despite crisis, Trump threatens to pull federal aid for California

A melted basketball hoop is seen in a clearing after the Loma fire tore along a ridge top on Sept. 27, 2016 near Morgan Hill, Calif. (Photo by Noah Berger/AP)
A melted basketball hoop is seen in a clearing after the Loma fire tore along a ridge top on Sept. 27, 2016 near Morgan Hill, Calif. Photo by Noah Berger/AP

Nearly a year ago, Donald Trump published a tweet that appeared to include a policy pronouncement. After complaining about California’s approach to forest management – an issue he only pretends to understand – the president wrote that he’d ordered FEMA to send the Golden State “no more money.”

We later learned that the Republican’s rhetoric had no relationship with reality. There was no such order – to FEMA or any other agency – and as we discussed at the time, the president’s bluster was hollow.

All of this came to mind over the weekend, when Trump’s rhetoric took on a familiar tone.

President Donald Trump offered a vague threat to pull California’s federal aid for combating dangerous wildfires on Sunday, sparking a response from Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom as the pair traded barbs through the day.

“The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management,” Trump tweeted early Sunday. “I told him from the first day we met that he must ‘clean’ his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him. Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers. Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor. You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states.”

During a brief Q&A yesterday afternoon, Trump kept the offensive going, telling reporters, in reference to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), “The governor doesn’t know – he’s like a child. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

I realize projection is a go-to move for the president, but I didn’t really expect him to bring his “no puppet” tactics to wildfire responses.

To the extent that reality has any meaning, Trump’s rhetoric didn’t make any sense. California’s latest wildfires, for example, haven’t burnt down forests. The president’s claims about water distribution were similarly wrong. Even the assertion about the Golden State getting “no more” federal aid is probably not to be taken seriously.

What I find important, however, is the bigger picture: Trump’s hostility toward the nation’s largest state has reached a ridiculous level.

 

In February, Politico ran a feature on “Trump’s War on California,” and it’s safe to say the problem has intensified in the nine months that followed. The White House has, after all, taken steps to revoke California’s right to set its own emissions standards, which came shortly before the Trump administration threatened to withhold federal highway funds from the state. Trump has also gone after California over homelessness in dubious ways.

The New York Times published this striking tidbit in September:

In recent months, the administration’s broader weakening of nationwide auto-emissions standards has become plagued with delays as staff members struggled to prepare legal, technical or scientific justifications for it. As a result, the White House decided to proceed with just one piece of its plan – the move to strip California of its authority to set tougher standards – while delaying its wider strategy, according to these people. […]

Mr. Trump … according to two people familiar with the matter, wanted to press forward with a policy that would punish California.

I’m just going to repeat that sentence for emphasis: “Trump … wanted to press forward with a policy that would punish California.”

It was 44 years ago this week that the New York Daily News ran its infamous “Ford to City: Drop Dead” headline. Don’t be surprised if California headlines soon reflect a related sentiment from a different Republican president.