Shorter Question Everything
• US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon is to resign and will be replaced by Susan Rice, currently ambassador to the United Nations, in July, a US official said Wednesday. President Barack Obama will announce the shakeup of his foreign policy team at the White House later in the day, the official said.
• My judicial nominees have waited three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my Republican predecessor. Let me repeat that: My nominees have taken three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my Republican predecessor. These individuals that I nominate are qualified. When they were given an up or down vote in the Senate — when they were finally given an up or down vote in the Senate, every one of them was confirmed. So this is not about principled opposition. This is about political obstruction. …What’s happening now is unprecedented. For the good of the American people, it has to stop. …Some Republicans recently have suggested that by nominating these three individuals, I’m somehow engaging in — and I’m quoting here — in “court-packing.” (Laughter.) No — people laugh, but this is an argument I’ve made. For those of you who are familiar with the history of court-packing, that involved Franklin Delano Roosevelt trying to add additional seats to the Supreme Court in order to water down and get more support for his political agenda. We’re not adding seats here. We’re trying to fill seats that are already existing. Each of the past five Presidents has seen at least three of their nominees confirmed to the D.C. Circuit. Since I’ve been President, obstruction has slowed that down to one. Right now, there are three open seats on a critical court. I didn’t create these seats. I didn’t just wake up one day and say, let’s add three seats to the District Court of Appeals. These are open seats. And the Constitution demands that I nominate qualified individuals to fill those seats. What I am doing today is my job. I need the Senate to do its job. …When a Republican was President, 11 judges on the D.C. Circuit Court made complete sense. Now that a Democrat is President, it apparently doesn’t. Eight is suddenly enough.[Remarks by the President on the Nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit]
• ‘Boys will be boys’ isn’t going to cut it anymore. The problem in the military extends beyond young hormonal recruits being reckless, to leaders who have created a culture where sexual assault and harassment are tolerated. After all, the officer in charge of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention program who was arrested for sexual assault is 41 years old. The manager of the sexual harassment and assault response program in Fort Campbell, Ky. who was arrested in a domestic dispute is 42. At Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, more than 30 men and women in power — training instructors and drill sergeants — were disciplined in a sexual assault scandal. A three-star Air Force general overturned the sexual assault conviction of one of his young pilots. And recently, the Army announced that a sergeant first class on the staff of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has been accused of secretly videotaping female cadets in the shower and elsewhere.
• Chambliss blames military rapes on ‘the hormone level created by nature’. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) on Tuesday suggested that the “hormone level created by nature” was to blame for rapes in the military and that all pregnant servicewomen should be investigated to make sure their condition was the result of consensual sex. At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on sexual assaults within the military, Chambliss opined that the Pentagon’s decision to allow women in combat roles was only going to make the problem worse. “The young folks coming in to each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23,” he pointed out. “Gee-whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur. So, we’ve got to be very careful on our side.”
• Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: Military rape about sexual predators, not hormones or hook-up culture. “Rape and sexual assault are crimes of violence, crimes of dominance,” she continued. “More than half of the victims are men. These are not crimes of lust, they’re not crimes of romance, not dates that have gone badly, they’re not issues of the hook-up culture from high school or hormones as my colleague says. We’re talking about predators, often serial predators, who are targeting their victims in advance, making them vulnerable through alcohol or other means, and actually stalking them. And they are often recidivists, meaning they repeat these crimes over and over again. What we’re trying to do is root out this criminal element because men and women serving in our military should not be subject to attacks by their colleagues.”
• GOP Senator Suggests Porn Is To Blame For Military Sexual Assaults. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) detoured from a line of questioning about sexual assault in the military to raise the possible connection between the availability of pornography on military bases and sexual attacks on servicemembers.
• An all-male House Judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday approved legislation that would impose a new nationwide restriction on abortion. By a party line vote of 6-4, the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice approved a bill that would ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based on the belief that fetuses are capable of experiencing pain after 20 weeks gestation.
• The farce that is Darrell Issa. He’s a buffoon who even some in his own party attack. But make no mistake: He is a symbol of today’s GOP. The only thing that makes Rep. Darrell Issa remotely qualified to chair the House Oversight Committee is his personal familiarity with the investigative process – on the receiving end. The man Republican House Speaker John Boehner put in charge of investigating government wrongdoing was himself indicted for stealing a car, accused of stealing at least one other car, arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, and twice suspected of insurance fraud – and once extensively investigated by authorities for arson, because his former business associates accused him, on the record, of burning down a building to collect the insurance payout.
• Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) on Tuesday questioned why tea party groups were seeking to be subsidized by the government. At a House hearing on IRS misconduct, McDermott acknowledged the federal tax agency had inappropriately used political criteria to locate nonprofit applications that needed extra review. “But as I listen to this discussion, I’d like to remind everyone what we are talking about here,” he continued. “None of your organizations were kept from organizing or silenced. We are talking about whether or not the American taxpayers would subsidize your work. We are talking about a tax break.”
Rightwingers being stupid
• Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi on Tuesday attributed the origins of America’s educational shortcomings to the entrance of mothers into the workforce. Then he tried to walk back his comments. Speaking on a panel with two other governors in a Washington Post Live event, Bryant was asked how the country became “so mediocre” in reading proficiency rates and educational outcomes. The Mississippi governor–whose state has a lower student performance score than the national average, according the to National Center for Education Statistics–was the first to answer: “I think both parents started working. The mom got in the workplace.”
• Republicans Prepare to Re-Defund Non-Existent ACORN. Again. Is this another one of these bills House Republicans want to pass just because the new guys need more tin-foil gibberish to bring the folks back home? House Republicans are scheduled to vote on two separate budget bills this week, each of which would reject funding for the poverty activism group ACORN, despite the fact that ACORN disbanded three years ago.
• Ken Emanuelson, a leading Dallas Tea Party organizer: “Well, I’m going to be real honest with you: The Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote, if they’re going to vote 9 to 1 for Democrats.”
• War on marijuana racially biased, new report suggests. As Tea Party-related groups call themselves the victims of IRS targeting, it’s important to remember that not one of these groups has yet been denied the tax exempt status for which they applied. Meanwhile, a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union demonstrates that black Americans truly have been victimized in the war on marijuana. The report, which tracked marijuana use and arrests in all 50 states, shows that though black Americans and white Americans smoke pot in almost equal amounts, black Americans are nearly four times as likely to get arrested for it. In Iowa, D.C., Minnesota, and Illinois, that number rises to 7.5-8.5 times more likely.
• A U.S. Army sergeant charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians in cold blood was due in court on Wednesday for a court-martial proceeding in which he is expected to plead guilty under a deal with military prosecutors to avoid the death penalty. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, a decorated veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, is accused of roaming off his Army post in the Afghan province of Kandahar last March and gunning down unarmed villagers, mostly women and children, in attacks on their family compounds.
• Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Monday downplayed atrocities being committed by Syrian rebel forces and suggested that he would be willing to tolerate extremists taking over Syria because they would most likely not be allied with Iran.
• Syrian government forces and Hezbollah guerrillas took control of most of the strategic crossroads town of Qusayr early on Wednesday, in a painful defeat for outgunned rebels that gave new momentum to the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and was likely to further dampen prospects for peace negotiations planned for this month.
• Massive: “The tornado that struck El Reno, Okla., on Friday night is believed to be the widest on record in the United States at 2.6 miles across, the National Weather Service reported on Tuesday.”