Donald Trump is as ignorant as he looks…
On Tuesday, the Pentagon released a report about the rampant sexual assault taking place within the United States military. The figures the report laid out were shocking to read. From the Associated Press:
The Pentagon report says that the number of sexual assaults reported by members of the military rose from 3,192 to 3,374 in 2012, while the department estimates that as many as 26,000 service members were assaulted, based on anonymous surveys, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the report.
Politicians from President Obama on down condemned the findings. For noted military theorist Donald Trump, however, the study sent a different message:
It’s quite the classy response! Is Trump saying that men are all prone to rape? Or that women shouldn’t be allowed in the military because they’ll inevitably be assaulted? This seems like a very dark view of the world. Trump has threatened to run for president in the past, but it’s possible that he just lost the women’s vote. And men’s. And military families. And everyone, everywhere.
Rep. Paul Ryan trotted out yet another budget that looks like more of the same. At this point I’m reminded of the old George W. Bush “admonition“…
Oh Lord. I almost forgot that today is Paul Ryan Day, even though I wrote about it just yesterday. So what’s in the 2014 version of the Ryan budget? Let’s see:
- Repeal of Obamacare (though we keep Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare, as well as its new taxes).
- Medicare would be converted into a voucher system.
- Big cuts to Medicaid.
- Big cuts to other domestic programs.
- Repeal of the sequester cuts in the Pentagon budget.
- A “simplified” income tax system with only two brackets, 10 percent and 25 percent.
- A reduction in the corporate tax from 35 percent to 25 percent.
I’ll dive into the details later. Maybe. But basically this is the same old same old. Big tax cuts on the rich, big tax cuts for corporations, and big spending increases for the military. For the poor, the middle class, and the elderly, we have big spending cuts and—though Ryan doesn’t admit it—the almost mathematical certainty of big tax increases.
At this point, I honestly have only one wish for all this: that the press finally wises up and refuses to call this a “deficit reduction” plan. It’s not. It’s a plan to dramatically cut domestic spending, full stop, mostly on the poor, the middle class, and the elderly. Every other component of the plan increases the deficit.
Congress justified its absurdly low approval rating this week as Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary.
Hagel, who is perfectly qualified for the post, made the unforgivable mistake of disagreeing with his former colleagues while he was still in the Senate.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) candidly told Fox News that Hagel had committed the sin of saying President Bush was “the worst president since Herbert Hoover” and that the escalation in Iraq “was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War.”
But Hagel’s biggest mistake was that he was very “anti his own party, and people don’t forget that.”
Democrats then postured for political purposes, and according to the New York Times, “decided to press ahead and require Republicans to record a vote against Mr. Hagel, allowing Democrats to accuse them of a new level of obstructionism.”
To end the pitiful week, lawmakers then left for a 10-day recess.
As Ron Fournier points out, “In addition to an empty seat at the Pentagon, the unfinished business in Washington is staggering: Billions of dollars of haphazard cuts due to automatically take effect, immigration reform, gun control, climate change, and millions of Americans left behind in a wrenching economic transition. If you took 10 days off with this much work undone, you’d be fired.”
Well, that was somewhat of a squeaker for Chuck Hagel, but he made it…
Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee backed former senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to lead the Pentagon on Tuesday afternoon, paving the way for the full Senate to vote on President Obama’s nominee this week.
The committee vote predictably split along party lines, with the 14 Democrats voting in favor of moving the nomination to the floor and 11 Republicans voting no. One Republican was absent.
Democrats backed the former Republican lawmaker despite a performance during his Jan. 31 confirmation hearing that even supporters called underwhelming. Republicans on the committee continued to voice strong reservations about Hagel, who has faced persistent questions about his views on Iran, Israel and nuclear policy.
“The next secretary of defense will have to deal with a world on fire,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said before the vote, explaining his opposition.
Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said efforts to portray Hagel as a radical ideologue were off base, and he pushed back on Republican demands for more information about the nominee, including additional details about his finances.
“Despite efforts of some to portray him as outside the mainstream of American foreign policy, Senator Hagel has received broad support from a wide array of senior statesmen and defense and foreign policy organizations,” Levin said.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) declined to heed calls for a walkout, which some Republicans had advocated, but did not mince words in expressing how unimpressed he was by Hagel as he voted against his former colleague.
“His performance before this committee was the worst I have seen of any nominee for office,” he said, complaining that Hagel had failed to agree with McCain’s view that the 2009 troop surge in Iraq had been a strategic success. “Senator Hagel’s judgment was wrong, continues to be wrong.”
In explaining their support, some Democrats invoked the importance of deferring to a president’s Cabinet picks. Several said they were hopeful that Hagel’s experience as an enlisted soldier during the Vietnam War gave him a valuable perspective. But none offered a ringing endorsement.
“I think we owe deference to a president for choices to executive positions,” Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) said. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said she had confidence in Hagel but wished he had been “much feistier” during his confirmation hearing.
Republicans used the eight minutes each got to speak before the vote to continue to challenge Hagel’s bid to lead the Pentagon during a time of steep budget cuts, a waning war in Afghanistan and a flurry of national security threats around the globe.
“We saw with his nomination something truly extraordinary, which is the government of Iran formally and publicly praising the nomination of a defense secretary,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said. Cruz said that having Hagel at the helm of the Pentagon would make “military conflict in the next four years substantially more likely” because it could “only encourage the nation of Iran to continue and accelerate its program to develop nuclear weapons capacity.”
Many women have been fighting the system since 1994 to lift the ban on military women in combat. It appears they finally won…
In a surprise move, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta removed the military ban on women in combat on Wednesday. Lifting the ban will open service on the front lines to thousands of women.
According to the Associated Press, the move was recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and overturns a 1994 rule banning women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Smaller exemptions to the rule were passed in 2012, but the new decision opens up 238,000 positions where women were formerly banned.
Women have been traditionally barred from serving in ground combat units, such as infantry, artillery, armor or as special operations commandos. However, women have been serving in combat roles for years as well, as recent conflicts have blurred the lines of combat and non-combat duties. While the ACLU last year sued the Pentagon for the right for women to take up positions on the front line, and the Marines recently began allowing women to serve as officers, the timing of Panetta’s announcement comes as a surprise.
Some Republicans have opposed putting women in combat because of alleged physical inferiority to men. However, a survey of several NATO allies with women in front line roles in Afghanistan indicated that, far from causing problems, female officers actually performed better in intelligence-gathering roles than their male counterparts.
Military chiefs must report their initial implementation plans by May 15, and can request special exceptions until January 2016 for any positions they feel cannot be open to women.
The Pentagon has identified the Navy SEAL killed during the weekend rescue mission in Afghanistan as Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque of Monroeville, Pa.
A Defense Department statement says the 28-year-old Checque died of combat-related injuries but gave no further details of the mission. He was among members of SEAL Team Six, which freed an American doctor abducted by the Taliban.
It is the same team that killed Osama bin Laden last year, but it’s unclear whether Checque was on the bin Laden mission.
Officials in Afghanistan say Dr. Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs, Colo., was rescued in eastern Afghanistan. The military says the adviser for Colorado Springs-based Morning Star Development was abducted last week and rescued after intelligence showed he was in imminent danger of injury or possible death.
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, the President and his administration commemorated the 11th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, and addressed the attack on the American embassy in Libya. We also took the Rhodes Traveled for a look back at the meaning of honoring 9/11. That’s September 7th to September 13th or “Eleven.”
Tuesday, September 11th:
- Dr. Biden made an early visit to Fire Station #206 in Alexandria, VA, to thank the First Responders on the scene in the aftermath of the attacks on the Pentagon 11 years ago.
- White House staff were joined by President Obama and the First Lady for a moment of silence on the South Lawn at 8:46 am, the moment American Airlines Flight #11 struck the North Tower on September 11, 2001.
- The President and the First Lady traveled to the Pentagon for a wreath-laying ceremony with members of the military and Americans who lost a loved one in the attack on the Pentagon.
- The President and First Lady also visited Section 60, the area of Arlington National Cemetery, where fallen soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are laid to rest.
- Vice President Biden was joined by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in Shanksville, PA, at the Flight 93 National Memorial, to honor the heroes of United Flight 93.
- The Vice President also met with family members of the passengers and crew of Flight 93, and joined them at the impact site for a moment of remembrance.
- Dr. Biden stopped by the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to wish World War II Veteran, Alyce Dixon one of the first women and one of the few African-American women to serve overseas in the European theatre, a happy 105th Birthday.
Wednesday, September 12th:
- The President and Secretary Clinton spoke about the tragic deaths of US Embassy staff in Benghazi, Libya.
- The President sat down with Steve Kroft of 60 minutes in the Blue Room, for an in-depth interview that will air later this month.
- Ben Rhodes hosted us for a look back at 9/11, for our latest installment of “The Rhodes Traveled.”
Republican Rep. Paul Ryan is walking back his recent claim that U.S. military leaders are liars:
“I really misspoke,” Ryan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I didn’t mean to make that kind of an impression. So, I was clumsy in how I was describing the point I was trying to make.” [...]“What I was attempting to say is, President Obama put out his budget number for the Pentagon first, $500 billion cut, and then they began the strategy review to conform the budget to meet that number,” Ryan said. “We think it should have been the other way around.”
So, how did he so clumsily put it the first time?
We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice. We don’t think the generals believe that their budget is really the right budget. I believe that the president’s budget by virtue of the fact that when he released his budget number of about $500 billion, the number was announced at the same time they announced the beginning of their strategy review of the Pentagon’s budget. So what we get from the Pentagon is more of a budget driven strategy, not a strategy driven budget.
Huh. So what Ryan really meant to say was the same thing … except the part where he called U.S. Generals a bunch of liars. Except of course he’s still calling them liars:
Gen. Dempsey, the military’s top officer, took sharp exception to the chairman’s comments. [...]”My response is: I stand by my testimony. This was very much a strategy-driven process to which we mapped the budget.”
Try again, Mr. Ryan.
Does anyone else see what I see regarding the GOP? They are increasingly going batcrap insane. Here’s another example of their extreme sexist (anti-woman) point of view:
Last week, Rick Santorum explained that he was opposed to any plans by the Pentagon to place women in combat positions, asserting that the “types of emotions that are involved” would compromise combat effectiveness.
Santorum quickly “clarified,” saying that he didn’t mean that women were emotionally unsuited for serving in combat but rather that male soldiers would be protective of female soldiers and inclined to compromise the mission in order to defend them.
Not surprisingly, Bryan Fischer agrees with Santorum … and is even willing to defend the view that Santorum himself rejected: that women are inherently emotionally unfit for combat:
But not only are women emotionally unfit for combat but also physically unfit because, as Fischer explained in his column today, ”the average female soldier does not even have the arm strength to throw a grenade far enough to keep herself from getting blown up.”
First, he claims to have said “blah” not “Blacks” in a controversial statement.
Now he says he was not backing down on what he said about women in the military but shamelessly waffles like the a**hole that he is…
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum insisted on Friday that when he claimed there were too many “emotions” for women to serve in combat roles, he was talking about men’s feelings, not women’s. (Ed. Note: Pants On Fire!)
Many had taken remarks the candidate made to CNN’s John King on Thursday to mean women were too emotional to fight on the front lines.
“I do have concerns about women in front line combat,” Santorum told King. “I think that could be a very compromising situation people naturally, you know, may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved.”
NBC’s Ann Curry gave Santorum a chance to clarify his remarks the next day.
“I meant exactly what I said,” the former Pennsylvania senator said. “When you have men and women together in combat, I think there’s — men have the emotions when you see a woman in harm’s way. I think it’s something that’s natural, that’s very much in our culture to be protective.”
“Some people might listen to that quote and think you meant you were concerned about women being emotional,” Curry noted.
“Oh, no,” Santorum replied. “No, the issue is — and certainly one that has been talked about for a long, long time — is how men would react to seeing women in harm’s way, potentially being injured or in a vulnerable position, and not being concerned about accomplishing the mission.”