THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† The Media Love Obama, But He Doesn’t Love Them Back: The Obama administration has proposed revisions to a “media shield” bill sponsored by Sens. Charles Schumer (NY) and Arlen Specter (PA) that undercuts the intent of the legislation to protect reporters from having to choose between divulging the identity of a confidential source or being imprisoned, reports The New York Times:
The bill includes safeguards that would require prosecutors to exhaust other methods for finding the source of the information before subpoenaing a reporter, and would balance investigators’ interests with “the public interest in gathering news and maintaining the free flow of information.”
But under the administration’s proposal, such procedures would not apply to leaks of a matter deemed to cause “significant” harm to national security. Moreover, judges would be instructed to be deferential to executive branch assertions about whether a leak caused or was likely to cause such harm, according to officials familiar with the proposal. …
Mr. Specter called the proposed changes “totally unacceptable,” saying they would gut meaningful judicial review. And in a statement, Mr. Schumer said: “The White House’s opposition to the fundamental essence of this bill is an unexpected and significant setback. It will make it hard to pass this legislation.”
Journalists’ advocacy groups noted Obama’s flip-flop on the issue – when he was a senator, he was a co-sponsor of an earlier version of the media shield bill.
† Is Obama Already A Lame Duck?: It's not just conservatives asking. Increasingly, it’s also liberals and (finally) journalists - sorry, The Stiletto is being redundant. The Washington Post’s often droll but not always original [last item] Dana Milbank describes the habitual to-and-fro between Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about whether President Barack Hussein Obama has given up on the public option or will fight for it:
Gibbs: "I -- I'll -- I'll give you the same answer that I gave you unsatisfactorily for many of those other days. It's what the president believes in --"
Thomas: "Is he going to fight for it or not?"
Gibbs: "We're going to work to get choice and competition into health-care reform."
Thomas: "You're not going to get it."
Gibbs: "Then why do you keep asking me?"
Thomas: "Because I want your conscience to bother you." (Milbank reports, “[t]he room erupted; Gibbs reddened.”)
Milbank, who quotes the above exchange approvingly, adds:
Actually, conscience isn't the problem for Gibbs and his boss; it's spine. Thomas's question got at an Obama administration trait that is puzzling opponents and demoralizing supporters: Why isn't the president more decisive and forceful? On many of the most pressing issues - the public option in health reform, troop levels in Afghanistan, sanctions against Iran - the administration has hewed to hemming and hawing.
† All The News That’s Fart To Print (last item): It did not escape the notice of New York Magazine, that the New York Post had a bit of scatological fun with the revelation that Saudi prince Mohammed bin Nayef narrowly escaped being killed by anal-Qaeda sewercide bomber who had shoved a pound of explosives in his rectal cavity:
According to the Post … this story is notable mostly because it is an awesome opportunity to make toilet jokes. Witness:
† "There's a new al Qaeda terror technique that has American security experts pooping in their pants."
† "Call it the 'butt bomb.'"
† "The ass-assin, Abdullah Asieri, stashed a pound of explosives and a detonator inside his body."
† "Tactic spooks anal-ysts."
What, no "A sphincter says 'BOOM'"? "Terrorectum"? "Colon Blow"? "Silent But Deadly"? "Suicidarrhea"? "Fartrabian Nights"? "The Shart of War"? Come on, guys, you're just not trying hard enough!
Aside from the two crappy jokes The Stiletto tucked into the opening graf, here's a couple more New York Magazine missed: IED (“improvised explosive derriere”) and “explosive diarrhea.”
† Updates To Previous Posts (Don’t Know Much About History, Don’t Know Much Foreign Policy): The Los Angeles Times blog, "Top of the Ticket" noticed something amiss in a message issued by President Barack Hussein Obama to commemorate the 140th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi - it “could appear to imply Dr. King met with Gandhi ... 11 years after his death”:
Americans owe an enormous measure of gratitude to the Mahatma. His teachings and ideals, shared with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his 1959 pilgrimage to India, transformed American society through our civil rights movement. The America of today has its roots in the India of Mahatma Gandhi and the nonviolent social action movement for Indian independence which he led.
Gandhi was assassinated Jan. 30, 1948.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, Not Giving Credit Where Credit’s Due): Michael Mukasey, U.S. Attorney General during the second Bush administration, harrumphs, “One would think that the arrests last week of Najibullah Zazi, charged with plotting to bomb New York City subways - and of two others charged with planning to blow up buildings in Dallas, Texas, and Springfield, Ill. - would generate support for the intelligence-gathering tools that protect this country from Muslim fanatics.” But one would be wrong, he explains:
[T]here is a rear-guard action in Congress to make it more difficult to gather, use and protect intelligence - the only weapon that can prevent an attack rather than simply punish one after the fact. The USA Patriot Act, enacted in the aftermath of 9/11, is a case in point.
This law has a series of provisions that will expire unless Congress renews them. Up for renewal this year is a provision that permits investigators to maintain surveillance of sophisticated terrorists who change cell phones frequently to evade detection. This kind of surveillance is known as "roving wiretaps." Also up for renewal are authorizations to seek court orders to examine business records in national security investigations, and to conduct national security investigations even when investigators cannot prove a particular target is connected to a particular terrorist organization or foreign power - known as "lone wolf" authority. …
[S]ome congressional Democrats want to impose requirements that would diminish their effectiveness, or add burdens to existing authorizations that would retard rather than advance our ability to gather intelligence. …
Mr. Zazi's arrest is only the most recent case in which intelligence apparently has averted disaster. Cells have been broken up and individual defendants convicted in New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Ohio.
† Updates To Recent Posts (last item, The Sum For The Parts): In the wake of the guilty pleas and convictions of funeral home owners Louis and Gerald Garzone and employee, James A. McCafferty Jr., for selling corpses to the also-convicted body parts trafficker Michael Mastromarino, families of loved ones whose bodies had been plundered and recipients of skin, bones, tendons and other parts from diseased bodies filed lawsuits against the funeral home. Liability insurer Nationwide, argued that did not have a duty to defend the funeral home against suits because “guilty pleas by the participants had conclusively proven that all of the conduct was intentional and therefore could not be treated as negligent conduct that triggers insurance coverage,” reports The American Lawyer:
In a major setback for the insurer, U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson refused to declare that allowing insurance coverage for the participants in the scheme would violate public policy. …
"Contrary to Nationwide's repeated assertions that only intentional acts are alleged, the underlying plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged acts of negligence in the underlying complaints," Baylson wrote in his 58-page opinion in Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. v. Garzone. …
As for the guilty pleas, Baylson found that the Pennsylvania courts have rejected the argument that allegations of negligence must be set aside after criminal convictions.