THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† What Freedom Of Speech Means To Muslims (The U.S. Edition): There they go again: Mistaking the USA for a repressive Islamic Republic like Iran and Turkey, CAIR is trying to stifle the free-speech rights of Americans, reports The Associated Press:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations had urged that Pamela Geller be cut from the Tennessee Tea Party Convention in Gatlinburg over her views on Muslims. Washington-based CAIR said in a release Thursday that it objects to Pamela Geller's presentation titled "The Threat of Islam."
Convention organizer Anthony Shreeve said in an e-mail Friday that Geller will speak despite those concerns.
"We will not follow any request from CAIR," Shreeve said. "We also believe in the right to freedom of speech as given to us by our U.S. Constitution."
Geller heads a group called Stop Islamization of America.
† Everybody Draw Mohammad Day: The Associated Press reports that the "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" Facebook page that led to a Pakistani ban on the site had been removed, but not by owners of the social media site. One of the administrators of the page explained why it had been taken down, and why it was restored two days later:
This page was removed two days ago, after one of our moderators had his email and skype hacked. His personal data was revealed. He then got scared and deleted the ... page, the blog and the emails. The rest of us, are now back without him after he backed out. This is another scare tactic from the Islamic extremists. We won't fall.
Meanwhile, the inimitable Mark Steyn writes “f-em if they can’t take a joke,” only using less colorful language:
I was among a small group of columnists in the Oval Office when President Bush, after running through selected highlights from a long list of Islamic discontents, concluded with an exasperated: "If it's not the Crusades, it's the cartoons." That'd make a great bumper sticker: It encapsulsates [sic] both Islam's inability to move on millennium-in millennium-out, plus the grievance-mongers' utter lack of proportion.
I'm bored with death threats. And, as far as I'm concerned, if that's your opening conversational gambit, then any obligation on my part to "cultural sensitivity" and "mutual respect" is over.
† Obama Doctrine Taking Shape: By now it's painfully clear that if the Obama Doctrine (“Never mind what I said about unclenching your fist. Gimme a fist bump!”) succeeded in unclenching any fists, those hands are either flipping America the bird or slapping Uncle Sam's face, as Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer notes – albeit without The Stiletto’s colorful imagery:
It is perfectly obvious that Iran's latest uranium maneuver, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, is a ruse. Iran retains more than enough enriched uranium to make a bomb. And it continues enriching at an accelerated pace and to a greater purity (20 percent). …
But the deeper meaning of the uranium-export stunt is the brazenness with which Brazil and Turkey gave cover to the mullahs' nuclear ambitions and deliberately undermined U.S. efforts to curb Iran's program.
The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world.
That picture - a defiant, triumphant take-that-Uncle-Sam - is a crushing verdict on the Obama foreign policy. It demonstrates how rising powers, traditional American allies, having watched this administration in action, have decided that there's no cost in lining up with America's enemies and no profit in lining up with a U.S. president given to apologies and appeasement. …
As the United States retreats in the face of Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela, why not hedge your bets? There's nothing to fear from Obama, and everything to gain by ingratiating yourself with America's rising adversaries. After all, they actually believe in helping one's friends and punishing one's enemies.
† Obama – Not McCain - Will Be Bush III: Just about a year to the day that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi charged that the CIA lied to Congress about using enhanced interrogation techniques, the Senate Intelligence Committee is accusing the Obama administration of failing to keep them apprised on the progress of the botched Times Square bombing, as required by law, reports The Washington Times:
"Having to fight over access to counterterrorism information is not productive and ultimately makes us less secure," wrote Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and Vice Chairman Christopher S. "Kit" Bond in a letter to President Obama on Thursday.
The senators said the lack of information has "caused serious friction in the relationship of the committee, on both sides of the aisle, and the executive branch."
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, the senators say U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly refused to provide relevant information on the probe into suspect Faisal Shahzad that would allow the committee to conduct oversight activities without hampering the ongoing investigation. Senate intelligence staffers were told that the Department of Justice had instructed the agencies not to convey information on the Times Square plot without its approval, they said. …
Dissatisfaction with the administration on oversight matters goes beyond the intelligence panels. Last month, Sens. Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins, the top members of the Senate panel on homeland security, issued the administration its first congressional subpoenas over the shootings at Fort Hood. The senators accused the FBI and the Pentagon of ignoring repeated requests for information on the November shooting, in which an Army psychologist allegedly killed 13 people.
Shortly after Representative Joe Sestak won an improbable victory Tuesday over Senator Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary, President Obama called Mr. Sestak to congratulate him. The president pledged his full support, aides said later, and offered to campaign for him in the fall - if Mr. Sestak believes it will help [contextual link added by The Stiletto].
Nothing makes friends like winning. It was not long ago, Mr. Sestak said Wednesday in an interview, that White House officials were so eager to muscle him from the race that they offered him a job if he would drop out.
† There’s Many A Slip ‘Twixt The Cup And Lip: When President Barack Hussein Obama repeatedly promised that “if you like your health insurance you can keep your health insurance,” he may have unwittingly created a huge loophole in the new healthcare “reform” law, reports The Washington Post:
Taken literally, Obama was promising more than he had the power to deliver when he said you could keep your current plan. Health plans are constantly making changes large and small - switching from one insurer to another or tinkering with the terms of coverage. Even without the sweeping new legislation, there was no guarantee that your employer would offer you the same choices from one year to the next.
What this means is that consumer advocates and insurance lobbyists are now arguing over “how much [existing] health plan[s] can change without giving up grandfathered status”:
Say you get coverage through your job: Would something as small as an increase in your co-payments forfeit your health plan's exemption? Or would your employer have to do something more dramatic, such as switching from UnitedHealth to WellPoint?
The answer could test more than Obama's promise. It could determine how many Americans are affected by key elements of the new law, including provisions meant to improve coverage and protect consumers. Some consumer advocates say that grandfathering could become a giant loophole through which many health plans escape aspects of the overhaul. …
At issue is whether health plans covering millions of Americans must meet requirements such as covering screenings for breast cancer and other diseases without charging co-payments, and limiting annual out-of-pocket expenses.
Depending on the outcome, grandfathered plans could continue tailoring their own benefits, or they could be required to offer at least a minimum set of benefits to be defined by the federal government. They could fall subject to new rules governing internal and external appeals of decisions to deny coverage, they could be prohibited from favoring employees with higher incomes, and they could be forced to report a variety of data to the federal government.
The unanswered questions about grandfathering are another reminder that the nation's health-care overhaul did not end when Obama signed the historic legislation. Now, government officials must translate the law into detailed regulations.
And they don’t have much time to dither, because employers are already looking ahead to their next open-enrollment period for 2011 coverage just six months from now.
† Updates To Previous Posts (Read The
Bill Law): Reading is fundamental - especially for pundits and pols who want to slam AZ's new anti-illegal immigration law. This video from Gov. Jan Brewer’s (R-AZ) campaign aims to teach a lesson that should have been learned in grade school:
[Hat Tip: The Hill]
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, Defending The Indefensible): Tucked into a $760 billion defense authorization bill approved by the House Armed Services Committee is an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) that requires the Pentagon's inspector general to look into whether defense attorneys for Gitmo detainees violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, reports The Washington Times:
The provision followed a recent closed-door briefing for the committee by the Pentagon on the joint Justice Department, CIA and Pentagon investigation of an American Civil Liberties-backed program called the John Adams Project.
The project has come under investigation … after the group hired private investigators to photograph undercover CIA officers and show the photos to al Qaeda detainees in Cuba, as part of an effort to identify CIA interrogators who could be called as witnesses in future military or civilian trials.
This amendment and others must be voted on by the full House, then the resulting bill must be reconciled with the Senate version.
† Updates To Previous Posts (eighth item, Why We Need Gitmo): Judge Lewis Kaplan has ordered a psychiatric examination of accused U.S. Embassy bomber Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani to see if he is "competent to waive his right to be present at the trial of this matter and any right he may have to be present at other phases of this case," reports New York Law Journal. Ghailani - the first Gitmo detainee being tried in the civilian justice system – has decided to be a no-show at the courtroom because he objects to strip searches conducted by officers at the Metropolitan Correctional Center before he can enter the courtroom, claiming that they trigger post-traumatic stress syndrome caused by enhanced interrogation techniques used on him by the CIA.
† Updates To Previous Posts (seventh item, Take The Veil Off, Or Go Home): French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s cabinet has approved legislation that imposes a $185 fine on women who cover their faces with an Islamic veil in public. The “burqa ban,” which is scheduled for a vote in the National Assembly in July and in the Senate in September, is expected to pass as Sarkozy's conservative coalition is in the majority in both houses and some members of the opposition Socialist party support it as well, reports The Washington Post:
The French proposal has drawn heavy support, with up to 60 percent of those questioned in opinion polls saying restraints are necessary. But Muslims here have complained that they feel singled out for a practice that, according to an Interior Ministry estimate, concerns fewer than 2,000 women in a country of 64 million inhabitants. …
The Constitutional Council, France's highest constitutional court, has issued two opinions warning that the full public ban will be vulnerable to challenge in the courts as an infringement on religious freedom. It also could be challenged in the European Court of Human Rights, the council said. But Sarkozy vowed to move forward anyway, saying the government will have to deal with legal challenges as they arise.
After six months of what officials described as "pedagogy" to educate the public after the expected Senate approval, the new law would go into effect about a year from now. It would give police the right to demand that women lift their veils to identify themselves. If they refused, police could hold them for up to four hours for an identity check. If cited for wearing the veil, women would be referred to a prosecutor, who could fine them, force them to attend "citizenship classes" or both.
After the proposed law passes, the French parliament should invite Mexican President Filipe Calderon over to tell them what he thinks of it, as Mexico has an exemplary record when it comes to human rights (particularly the rights of humans within its own borders illegally).
Corporate America is gambling on the minority in its political giving this year, assuming that Republicans will win big in the November midterm elections, an analysis of campaign finance reports shows.
The pattern represents a distinct change from a year ago, when President Obama was sworn into office. Back then, corporate political action committees made a shift to the Democrats, giving 58 percent of their donations to the party. So far this year, 48 percent of the contributions from big business are going to the Democrats. …
Corporations often give campaign contributions while seeking access and favor with incumbent lawmakers in position to shape legislation - meaning they gravitate to the party in power.
The last time corporate PACs made such a dramatic shift to the Republicans was in 1995, after the GOP's rout of the Democrats in the 1994 midterms. This time, corporations have switched sides before the election [emphasis, The Stiletto]. …
The money boost for the GOP follows a similar shift in enthusiasm among voters. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released May 13 found voters evenly split on which party they preferred to have running Congress. But among those who said they were very interested in the midterm elections, 56 percent said they supported Republicans, while 36 percent chose Democrats.
† Updates To Previous Posts (second item, Boobs And Brains Not Mutually Exclusive): On the heels of Miss Michigan Rima Fakih being crowned the first Muslim Miss USA last week, The Washington Post’s Krissah Thompson writes about bloggers across the political spectrum deconstructing the beauty pageant milestone, with liberals welcoming it “as a powerful representative of American diversity and the Arab American community” and conservatives slamming it as “a politically correct ‘affirmative action’ pick.” The Stiletto doesn’t much care either way, and is merely using Thompson’s utterly inconsequential article as an excuse to point out that it’s been a week and there haven’t been any earthquakes rocking Teheran in the aftermath of Fakih’s crowning - or the video that surfaced right on cue showing her participating in a strip tease contest.