Archive for confirmation hearings

Push The Nuclear Button, Harry.

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nuclear explosion

Harry Reid is laconic at best. Comatose for most of the remainder of time. Fortunately, he's on the cusp of joining "the better late than never" school on the filibuster rules --  or so it seems. From HuffPo:

WASHINGTON -- It's looking more and more likely that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) isn't just ready for filibuster reform, but he's ready to do it this week.

A senior Democratic aide told The Huffington Post on Wednesday that there's "a greater possibility" that Reid will hold a vote this week instead of waiting until after the Senate comes back from recess in December. The proposal that Reid is planning to put on the floor would strip the minority of its ability to filibuster executive and judicial nominees, but wouldn't apply to Supreme Court nominees.

Filling vacancies on that court is a huge priority for the president. It's also his responsibility. It's the Senate's obligation of advise and consent. Instead, the Republicans have chosen to make it pure obstructionism. And that's been going of for five years. If Obama is to rule as the constitution has outlined, we can't have these 60 vote thresholds on every nomination.

Justice is being withheld from functioning as it's supposed to. There are vacancies on judgeships and without them being filled, we're letting innocent people sit in jail and letting guilty people go unpunished. This isn't a philosophical argument. It's one or rights and wrongs. And as long as there's a backlog because of a vacancy, those causing the opennings are contributing to injustice. They are complicit. Is that the law and order GOP thinks is right. If so, they need to go.

Here's the startling facts about the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit,

The court has 11 seats, of which four are filled by GOP-appointed nominees and four are filled by Democrat-appointed nominees. President George W. Bush had five nominees confirmed to the panel during his tenure. By contrast, Obama has only had one.

It's not as if Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats haven't been patient. It's the the Republicans have been irresponsible. If they want to complain, let them. They brought this on themselves, led by Mitch McConnell who pushed off Reid's calling for the Nuclear Option last year with a promise to work with the other side on nominees. He lied, and they haven't.

Push that button, Harry. We've waited long enough.

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The Party of No Strikes Again

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FHFA

Senate Republicans today blocked a vote on the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

If the Republicans couldn't slip much lower, they found a way. They have voted to block the nomination of Congressman Mel Watt. His background is impeccable. He's been dealing with the housing market for over 20 years. He introduced the prohibit preditory lender act before the housing crash. Had it been adopted it could have prevented the housing/financial crisis. He's worked against risky mortgage loaning.

The Senate voted 56 to 42 to proceed to a vote on Watt's nomination -- shy of the 60 votes required to end debate.

The delaying tactic was the latest episode in a contentious series of battles over President Obama's nominees and could pave the way for a renewed effort by Democrats to change the chamber's rules. They have the votes to do that. It's the so-called nuclear option.

nuclear option

Watt's a guy who is independent and will continue to work hard for us.

So what's the reason the Republicans have stopped his nomination?

The reason is he's a victim of obstruction for obstruction sake.

Despite being knowledgeable and capable, he's failed the standard GOP litmus test. Is he Republican? No. Is he a good ol' boy? No. Is he white? No. Three strikes and you're out.

Senator Elizabeth Warren backed him vociferously as you'll see below.  Perhaps that, as much as his being Black and a Democrat killed his nomination. The most influential woman on Capitol Hill is Hillary Clinton. The most feared is Elizabeth Warren.

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"Republicans tellingly showed zero interest in... the 19,000 sexual assaults of military servicewomen that occur each year."

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chart rape military assault women

Today's L.A. Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Hagel hearing reopens Senate wounds," Feb. 1

By grandstanding their grievances with former Sen. Chuck Hagel for leaving the fold to serve in President Obama's administration as secretary of Defense, the neoconservative Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee rubbed salt in their own self-inflicted wounds. What a shameful spectacle of badgering, interrupting and berating a decorated war veteran with a stellar record of public service.

While wasting the day on cherry-picked policy positions that don't even pertain to what a Defense secretary does, Republicans tellingly showed zero interest in the one that does: the 19,000 sexual assaults of military servicewomen that occur each year. Kudos to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) for questioning Hagel about this "invisible war," to which he promptly and correctly pledged no tolerance.

Wendy Blais

North Hills

rape women military assault

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) should "at least avoid the stench of hypocrisy."

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chicken hawk

Today's L.A. Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Kerry easily wins Senate vote for secretary of State," Jan. 30

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) claims Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is "anti-military" and is therefore unfit to serve as secretary of State.

In so doing, Cruz, who never served in uniform, joins a not-very-exclusive group known as the "chicken hawks." These are folks whose enthusiasm for war and all things military does not extend to their own service. Some members who may be familiar to Cruz are Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

It might have been wiser for Cruz to have emulated Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and James Inhofe of Oklahoma and admit that he wouldn't vote for Kerry because he's a liberal. While petty and obstructionist, this would at least avoid the stench of hypocrisy.

Kevin Smith

Newbury Park

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Senators signal contentious hearing on Supreme Court nominee

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Really, they're just talking to themselves, no one out here gives a rat's butt whether or not she was a judge.

Washington (CNN) - The leading senators on the Judiciary Committee signaled a contentious hearing on Elena Kagan's Supreme Court nomination starting Monday, with ranking Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama saying a GOP filibuster was possible.

"This nominee does have serious deficiencies," Sessions said Sunday on the CBS program "Face the Nation."

He cited Kagan's lack of experience as a judge and what he called her liberal leanings.

"I think the first thing we need to decide is, is she committed to the rule of law, even if she doesn't like the law?" Sessions said.

Pressed about a possible Republican filibuster against the nomination, Sessions said: "It's conceivable a filibuster might occur."

Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, responded on the same program by noting that other Supreme Court justices including William Rehnquist and Hugo Black also had no experience as judges before taking their high court seats.

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Elena Kagan Watch: You know what they say about the size of a man's government...

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Heaven forbid the Kagan confirmation hearings are about, you know, her:

At Supreme Court confirmation hearings, the nominee is usually the star. But Elena Kagan may well be a supporting player in a drama featuring two men not even there: President Obama and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

With an eye on the midterm elections, Democrats will use Ms. Kagan’s hearings, which begin Monday, to put the Roberts court on trial by painting it as beholden to corporate America.

"Beholden" doesn't even begin to describe it. The Roberts side of the Supremes is to Big Biz as Rich Lowry is to Barbie McLipSchmutz.

You know what they say about the size of a man's government...

Republicans will put Mr. Obama on trial over what they view as his Big Government agenda, and will raise questions about whether Ms. Kagan, his solicitor general and former dean of Harvard Law School, is independent enough to keep that agenda in check.

By all means, keep that big, bad government in check. We wouldn't want them regulating, oh I dunno, Big Oil now would we?

Sometimes size matters.

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Rahm Emanuel Predicts Big Battle Over Supreme Court Pick

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Bring it on. Fracking R's have a knuckle buster coming to them. Via Taegan-

The other news from White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's fascinating interview with Charlie Rose last night -- other than he wants to be Chicago's mayor -- was his prediction that there will be a big battle over President Obama's upcoming Supreme Court nomination.

Said Emanuel: "I think that there'll be a huge, huge battle... I think the President will obviously appoint a person that he thinks is appropriate and right for the Supreme Court, as he laid out the kind of criteria in the Justice Stevens model. I think if people took a fresh look at that, I don't think it has to be that type of battle. But we may be at a system and a time in which we have that type of battle."

First Read is a bit skeptical noting "we haven't had a real SCOTUS battle since Clarence Thomas in 1991, and the current vacancy is swapping one liberal (John Paul Stevens) for probably another liberal (whomever Obama picks)."

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