Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Continued Republican Effort to Undermine Our Democracy

The loss of the Republican soul just to win at any cost is one of the most dangerous trends facing our democracy today. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh is more proof of how far Republicans are willing to go to undermine our democracy just to “own the libs.”

Let’s take a moment and check to see how far we have come.

Sexual Assault – Republicans have no problem with sexual assault, this is very clear first voting for Donald Trump, who bragged about his ability to grab a woman’s pussy because he’s famous, and the large support behind Brett Kavanaugh. They’ll question her motivation for coming forward now in the 11th hour, ignoring the fact that she came forward before Kavanaugh was even nominated. They’ll deflect and claim Dr. Ford was lying because she said she was afraid of flying yet she took an airplane to Washington D.C., ignoring the reality that many of us are afraid of needles but we still get our flu shots and this has no effect on our credibility. Democrats turned on Al Frankin when his sexual assault accusations became public, Republicans have shown they are only interested in protecting victims of sexual assault when it is politically convenient for them.

Cheating – Republicans wouldn’t give Merrick Garland a hearing, a violation of their Constitutional duties, then invoked the ‘nuclear option’ to force two and possibly more partisan activist judges on the Supreme Court. They’ll give bullshit answers like, “Oh the Biden rule!” which didn’t apply to the Garland situation and nobody ever took seriously enough to even consider it as a rule. Or “Oh Democrats are obstructionists!” forgetting they obstructed ALL of Obama’s federal judge nominees and Merrick Garland, and there are 49 Democrats in the Senate… if every Republican votes together Democrats have no power! The lies they will tell themselves to rationalize their cheating is outrageous.

Perjury – Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath. He repeatedly claimed Ford’s accusation has been “refuted” by others who she said attended the party — even though the other attendees have said no such thing. Kavanaugh said he “did not travel in the same social circles” as Ford, but he did. Kavanaugh attempted to fabricate an alibi by suggesting he did not drink on weekdays and was out of town almost every weekend night of the summer of 1982, but his calendar clearly refuted this. Kavanaugh said he had no connection to Yale University prior to attending undergrad and law school there, but he was a legacy admittee. Kavanaugh cited Maryland’s drinking age in explaining his behavior, even though he was too young to legally drink in any case. These are just a few examples of lying, under oath, while in a job interview for a seat on the highest court in the country. Republicans do not see a problem with this.

Law and Order – It’s a sham. Republicans are only out to win at all costs. (See: Merrick Garland, nuclear option, Kavanaugh) The FBI investigation was limited by the White House to only 9 individuals that did not include Dr. Ford or Brett Kavanaugh, which is typical for an investigation of this type, as well as the over 40 individuals who came forward and was willing to give their testimony. There was no effort to look into the lies Kavanaugh told under oath. Now the Kavanaugh confirmation process is over they can now go back to protecting Donald Trump, the first president to ever continue to own, operate, promote, and receive profits from over 400 businesses he has never divested from, and which as we learn more and more through intrepid reporting, Trump is a tax cheat.

The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process has shown Republicans have not learned from their support of credibly accused sexual predators, such as Donald Trump, and instead are willing to ignore women, ignore their credible stories, ignore broken laws, willing to accuse Democrats of their own sins, and cheat their way to victory at any cost.

Trump’s North Korea Summit Was a Bust

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un just completed the first ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a leader from North Korea and to Trump’s (and mostly to South Korean President Moon‘s) credit, they pulled off a first-of-its-kind summit.

But after the world had a chance to get past the spectacle, and look at the substance, it was a major bust.

The end of the summit culminated in a document signed by Trump and Un that promises a lot, and isn’t clear on how.

For example the agreement does not elaborate on what steps North Korea will take to denuclearize, no new commitments, no timetables, no definitions, all very important items for an international agreement. There were no real breakthroughs other than two leaders shaking hands.

This was the most bare-minimum statements our two countries could hope for, and right-wing news is already promoting it as the biggest event in human history.

The reality is the only actual positive good for world peace the agreement commits to is holding further negotiations led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a “relevant” North Korean official at “the earliest date possible.”

More diplomacy is always better than no diplomacy, but make no mistake what happened in Singapore was nothing but a photo op, as Fox News would say, between two dictators.

While Fox News made a slip of the tongue, we’re not. Trump has clear authoritarian tendencies that were on full display on foreign soil, such as:

All of Trump’s actions and behavior, especially after leaving a contentious G7 meeting, push us farther away from our democratic Western allies and closer to autocratic rules, like Un, Sisi, Duterte, Putin, Jinping, and Erdogan.

And as a sign of our newly found friendship with foreign dictators, Trump really went out of his way for appeasement and to make a good impression by not pushing hard on any of his stated goals, while giving up major concessions.

What North Korea Got

Agreed to “denuclearization of the entire Korean Peninsula,” this is language favored by North Korea for more than a quarter century.

Got America to agree to no demands for “verifiable” or “irreversible” denuclearization. A break from CVID (complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization) agreements in the past, such as the Iran deal that Trump ripped up for being “too weak.”

An end to “inappropriate” and “provocative” U.S.-South Korea military exercises before North Korean denuclearization.

The draw-down of U.S. troops in South Korea before North Korean denuclearization.

A vague promise about the U.S. providing personal security for the dictator Kim Jong Un. (See: Muammar Gaddafi after he gave up his nukes.)

Recognition on the world stage, something the Uns have desperately wanted since Kim’s grandfather.

A U.S. crafted North Korea propaganda video for their state television.

What America Got

The recovery of remains of Americans lost or killed during the Korean War.

No iron-clad denuclearization that Trump promised.

No peace treaty that Trump promised. (Remember calls for the Nobel Prize?)

No mention of human-rights abuses.

No mention of sanctions.

No mention of long-range missiles.

No time frame.

Future talks at some future date, but to truly understand just how little we walked away with, we’ll need a little context.

North Korea’s Track Record on Denuclearization

In 1985 North Korea signed the 1968 Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty, they broke it.

In 1992 North and South Korea signed a joint agreement of denuclearization, to not “test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons.’’ North Korea broke this agreement and since done all but use them on an adversary.

Also in 1992, North Korea signed a deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency to accept inspectors and safeguards. They broke it.

In 1993, North Korea entered into bilateral talks with the United States, and promised to abandon the “threat and use of force, including nuclear weapons.”

In 1994, North Korea accepted the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework/Six-Party Talks, under which Pyongyang offered to freeze its plutonium producing reactors and “eventually” dismantle them. They broke it.

In 2000, North Korea released a U.S.-DPRK joint communique in 2000 pledging a freeze of work on long-range missiles “of all kinds.” They broke it.

In 2005, North Korea agreed to six-party talks and to the “verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner.” A year later they detonated their first nuclear bomb.

In 2007, North Korea agreed to normalizing relations and to an Action Plan to “shut down and seal” the plutonium-producing reactors at Yongbyon, with a view to its “eventual abandonment.” They didn’t.

Later in 2007, North Korea entered into a second round of implementation plans with the U.S., pledging to “disable” all of its nuclear facilities, again with a view to later “abandonment.” They now have a nuclear weapon they can put on a missile that can hit America.

Why we got screwed

Donald Trump fashions himself this great deal-maker, but by almost any count we came away with nothing concrete on the side of North Korea and gave them concession after concession after concession.

Of course the recovery of American remains is important, especially to the families of our fallen, which we’ll be sure to see plastered all over Fox News for a few weeks to boost Trump’s historically low approval ratings.

But at the end of the day if Kim Jong Un still has nukes that can hit Denver, we’re not checking his promises, we’re not interested in inspecting his facilities, we’re asking for North Korea to be honest and just volunteer how much nuclear material they have, and there are less U.S. troops stationed in the Korean DMZ and we’re no longer coordinating with our allies in the region, these are all dangerous recipes for future families asking for the remains of their brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.

At least Trump got a nice photo op.

The Stolen Supreme Court Seat

Today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell triggered the “nuclear option” and changed Supreme Court nominations from a 3/5ths majority, which is 60 votes, to a simple majority, 51 votes. The Republican theft of the Supreme Court is complete, with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch.

Ever since Ronald Reagan nominated the anti-civil rights Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, and failed, the civil discourse in selecting judges to sit on the highest court in the land have steadily eroded. And now the Republicans have killed it.

Republicans have obstructed federal judge appointments for decades, causing Democratic Senator Harry Reid to change the filibuster for lower court judges in 2013. And then when the shoe was on the other foot the Republicans all went ballistic when Democrats refused to appoint just 10 of George W. Bush’s most radical nominations, out of a total of 214.

Finally, after Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia unexpectedly passed away, within an hour Mitch McConnell made an unprecedented move to refuse his Constitutional duty and made it clear he would deny any nomination by then-president Barack Obama, who had 11 months left in his term.

Democrats could have made trouble, they could have broke the rules, but they didn’t. In this hyper-partisan environment, the Republican answer was to ensure going forward things will be even more partisanship and we will continue to see more traditions and norms that are not set in law fall away.