Thursday, January 24, 2019

We are two-time voters for Barack Obama, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that "44" deserves blame for Brett Kavanaugh's appearance on U.S. Supreme Court

Barack Obama and George W. Bush

Are you looking for someone to blame for Brett Kavanaugh's ascendance to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), a position he is not remotely qualified to handle? Well, one place to start is with former President Barack Obama.

Eoin Higgins makes that suggestion in a recent piece at The Intercept, and we think he is on target -- even though I voted twice for Obama and recognize his many attributes as a leader, including his ability to save us from a likely Great Depression II.

Obama should not receive a pass for his numerous failings on justice issues because the Kavanaugh confirmation process is not just an example of gross political theater -- it represents an assault on our constitutional rights.

Higgins' ire, and ours, dates to Obama's nonsensical claim -- made on Jan. 11, 2009, less than two weeks before he took office -- that he intended to "look forward, not backwards" on the rampant corruption that plagued the George W. Bush years. This essentially was a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card for Bush criminals and we've written scathingly of it many times over the years. (See herehere, here, and here.)

One of those possible Bush-era criminals to escape justice is . . . Brett Kavanaugh. Here is how Eoin Higgins puts it in a piece titled "Obama's resistance to investigating the Bush administration allowed Brett Kavanaugh to skate onto the Supreme Court." Writes Higgins:

In January 2009, George W. Bush left office with an abysmal 22 percent approval rating, the lowest ever recorded. Almost everyone with anything to do with his administration was considered politically toxic.

With full Democratic control of the federal government, calls came for an investigation into the scandals of the Bush administration, including torture, mass surveillance, and war profiteering. While some called for criminal prosecutions, others wanted hearings or an independent investigation that would — at minimum — put into the public record the details of who did what and when. At the least, the argument went, Democrats could ensure that the GOP had to wear the Bush administration for years; that the officials involved in wrongdoing would be written out of polite society; and that future administrations would not revert to those practices.

Obama refused. “We need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” he said famously on January 11, 2009, days before he took office.

Imagine how many Bush criminals might have landed in prison -- Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, Dubya himself, perhaps dozens more. Among them might have been Brett Kavanaugh, who served as an attorney for the Bush-Gore campaign battle in 2000 and then was staff secretary in the Bush White House. In fact, documents are expected to be released that could point to Kavanaugh's role in decisions that were wrong-headed, contrary to established precedent, and maybe even criminal. Writes HIggins:
Three allegations of sexual assault — the first was broken by The Intercept — and FBI investigation weren’t enough to sink Kavanaugh. Nor were indications of perjurious testimony — in part because a trove of documents relating to Kavanaugh’s time with the Bush administration that is currently being analyzed by the National Archives, including emails and memos about surveillance, torture, and Kavanaugh’s involvement with a hacking scandal, won’t be released until the end of October.
Brett Kavanaugh

The Higgins piece is dated Oct. 9, 2018, so he is making a reference to the end of October 2018. What happened to those documents that were supposed to be released then? It's unclear, but here is a link to a National Archives update on Dec. 20, 2018. Senate Democrats have threatened to sue for the Kavanaugh records. Writes Higgins:

At least 100,000 documents relating to Kavanaugh’s involvement in developing policy during his time as associate counsel to the president from 2001 to 2003, and his time as staff secretary from 2003 to 2006, have been withheld by the Trump administration, citing executive privilege. But the National Archives revealed, in response to a lawsuit from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), that there are hundreds of emails in the separate, 300,000 document cache that the agency is reviewing for publication. “The communication to EPIC revealed that Kavanaugh sent 11 e-mails to John Yoo, the architect of warrantless wiretapping; 227 e-mails about ‘surveillance’ programs and the ‘Patriot Act;’ and 119 e-mails concerning ‘CAPPS II’ (passenger profiling), ‘Fusion Centers’ (government surveillance centers), and the Privacy Act,” EPIC said in a statement announcing the revelation.

With proper public understanding of Kavanaugh’s role in the unpopular policies of of the Bush White House, that role may have been disqualifying by itself.

If the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) had investigated and prosecuted Bush-era criminality, Kavanaugh's career probably would have never advanced beyond the D.C. Circuit. Many American voters might be dense, but they tend to recognize corruption and foul play when it is spelled out for them. And when Republicans create horrific messes, which they have a tendency to do, voters tend to run into the arms of Democrats to save them. Here is how we described the scenario in a November 2016 post, shortly after Donald Trump's "election":

A genuine investigation of the Bush administration probably would have led to dozens, maybe hundreds, of criminal convictions. The sight of Rove, Chaney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, and others heading off to prison in orange jumpsuits probably would have caused even the most heart-headed conservatives to say, "You know, I'm starting to get the feeling that reflexively voting straight GOP might not be such a good thing. Maybe I need to study up a bit, or just stay home on election day." Under that scenario, Democrats probably take back both chambers of Congress in 2012 or '14, and the 2016 presidential race is not even close -- regardless of who the general-election candidate turned out to be. And Obama gets much of his agenda passed, without obstruction from Republicans. Obama might have truly been a great president if he had not worked against his own interests by giving GOP crooks a free pass.

If Obama had appointed a tough, competent attorney general, instead of the woefully ineffective and compromised Eric Holder, Democrats likely would not have needed to worry about taking back both houses of Congress; they never would have lost them in the first place. And Hillary Clinton would have been set to wipe the floor with Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election -- which she probably did anyway, without the assistance Trump received from Russian interests. Bottom line: Most Americans never hear of Brett Kavanaugh if a real Obama AG cleans house on Bushes. Here is more from Eoin Higgins:

Over the past decade, the political world has done everything possible to minimize and forget the crimes of the early to mid-2000s. The effect has been felt ever since. Members of the Bush administration and their hangers-on have spent their time working diligently to return to good standing in the social and professional worlds they once dominated in Washington and New York. Allowing them to reintegrate into elite society has had almost as catastrophic an effect on American politics as Donald Trump.

It’s not just Kavanaugh. The confirmation of Gina Haspel, an admitted proponent of torture who ran a Thailand black site in 2002 — a fact that became a minor issue before the Senate sent her back to Langley to run the CIA — was a perfect example of the insufficiency of the American political system to properly deal with the Bush regime toppling established norms around war and detainees. . . .

Kavanaugh’s career should have ended at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. His new role as Supreme Court justice is what happens when democratic societies don’t hold criminals in the government accountable for their actions. At a bare minimum, everyone involved with the Bush administration’s war in Iraq and post-9/11 torture and detainee programs should have been thoroughly discredited and rejected from polite society. That they weren’t may end up being one of the defining moments in the 21st century.

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