Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "Problems getting judges confirmed by the Senate have been a constant complaint for this White House -- but this week, President Barack Obama's aides are celebrating a confirmation count that outpaces President George W. Bush's. They've had that goal on their minds for over a year, ever since chief of staff Denis McDonough and counsel Kathy Ruemmler reprioritized judicial nominations for Obama's second term. John Owens, confirmed Monday to the Ninth Circuit, along with Edward Smith and Gerald McHugh, who confirmed to the district court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania last week, put them over the top." ...
... What's the Matter with Pat Leahy? Ian Millhiser of Think Progress explains the "blue slip" tradition that is forcing President Obama to nominate conservative Republicans to the bench. "As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has the unilateral ability to eliminate the blue slip today if he chose to, though he has thus far refused to do so. Indeed, one of Leahy's Republican predecessors, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), largely did just that when he was Judiciary Chair and George W. Bush was president."
** David Cole in the New York Review of Books: "One Dollar, One Vote."
Benjamin Goad of the Hill: "Members of the Federal Election Commissioners are lashing back at the Supreme Court's decision this week to strip away a key campaign finance restriction, contending the ruling will only add to the influence of 'megadonors.' In a scathing statement, FEC Vice Chairwoman Ann Ravel and commissioner Ellen Weintraub said they were [troubled' about the high court's decision to do away with overall individual contribution limits. 'This decision will not increase the number of voices able to participate in the political debate,' the Democratic commissioners said. 'Instead, it amplifies the voices of the few to the detriment of the many.'"
** Missed This. You're Hitler; I'm Not. Paul Krugman: "Billionaires really are feeling vulnerable despite their wealth and power, or perhaps because of it. And the apparatchiks serving the .01 percent are deeply insecure, culturally and intellectually, so that ridicule cuts deep.... When great power goes along with fragile egos, seriously bad things can happen."
I think there is a gay mafia. I think if you cross them, you do get whacked. -- Bill Maher, on his show "Real Time" ...
... Mark Stern, in Slate, explains to conservatives (and to Bill Maher, et al.) the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. CW: Sorry, Mark, they're not listening.
You Pay Taxes So Megarich Televangelists Don't Have To. John Burnett of NPR: "Today, television evangelists are larger, more numerous, more complex, richer, with bigger audiences than ever before and yet they are the least transparent of all nonprofits." Also, so they can get away with being crooks & liars. Via Steve Benen. ...
... CW Question: Is the IRS violating the establishment clause when it establishes a teevee network as a religion? Or indeed if it establishes the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Or the Roman Catholic Church?
Jeremy Peters & Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "By drawing public attention to layoffs by subsidiaries of Koch Industries across the country -- a chemical plant in North Carolina, an oil refinery in Alaska, a lumber operation in Arkansas -- Democrats are seeking to make villains of the reclusive billionaires [Charles & David Koch], whose political organizations have spent more than $30 million on ads so far to help Republicans win control of the Senate. The approach should seem familiar. President Obama and his allies ran against Mitt Romney in 2012 by painting a dark picture of Bain Capital ... as a company that cut jobs and prized the bottom line over the well-being of its employees":
Catalina Camia of USA Today: "In a new campaign ad in Georgia's U.S. Senate race, [Rep. Jack Kingston] apparently hired an impersonator who sounds like [President] Obama to give him a fake phone call.
Not only can Chris Christie not win [the GOP presidential primary], I think he may have trouble finishing out his term [as governor].... There's absolutely no chance that he didn't know this was going on if he didn’t order it or OK it. So I think he's not a factor. -- Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D)
Beyond the Beltway
And on the Sixth Day, God Created the Wooly Mammoth. Steve Benen on a South Carolina bill to establish a state fossil.
Jim Avila, et al., of ABC News: "The U.S. Attorney in New Jersey has convened a grand jury to investigate the involvement of Governor Chris Christie's office in the George Washington Bridge scandal, ABC News has learned. Twenty-three jurors convened in a federal courthouse in Newark [Friday] to hear testimony from a key staff member, Christie press secretary Mike Drewniak, whose lawyer, Anthony Iacullo, said Drewniak was not a target of the investigation."
John Hanna of the AP: "Kansas legislators gave final approval Saturday to a bill that would nullify city and county gun restrictions and ensure that it's legal across the state to openly carry firearms, a measure the National Rifle Association sees as a nationwide model for stripping local officials of their gun-regulating power. The House approved the legislation, 102-19, a day after the Senate passed it, 37-2. The measure goes next to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. He hasn't said whether he'll sign it, but he's a strong supporter of gun rights and has signed other measures backed by the NRA and the Kansas State Rifle Association."
I'm a safety guy. Gosh, I'm as safety as I can be. I was so mad at myself for even thinking about shooting the bird in this direction where I knew he was down in there. -- Oklahoma State Rep. Steve Vaughn, (R), a gun-rights advocate, about shooting a fellow hunter in the head
Rachel Huggins of the Hill: "'I just felt horrible about it. I just was sick,' said Rep. Steve Vaughan, who wounded the man in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun as he was aiming at a pheasant." CW: Apparently "as safety as you can be" is knowingly shooting into a group of hunters & hoping you'll bag a bird.
Missed This, Too. What Goes Up Must Come Down. Michael Van Sickler of the Miami Herald: Unaware that the laws of gravity supersede man-made laws, "the [Florida] state Senate passed a bill Thursday that grants immunity to people with clean criminal records who fire a warning shot or threaten to use deadly force in self-defense. It also seals court records of those charged with firing a weapon but later have those charges dropped. Already passed by the House, the measure next goes to Gov. Rick Scott, who 'supports the 2nd Amendment and Florida's self-defense laws (and) looks forward to reviewing this legislation,' said a spokesman." CW: I can't get out of this state soon enough. Thanks to Barbarossa for the lead.
AP: " Crowds of pro-Russian demonstrators stormed government buildings Sunday in several major cities in eastern Ukraine, where secessionist sentiment has sparked frequent protests since Ukraine's Russia-friendly president was ousted in February."