Sunday, July 24, 2011

Last Call

Sen. Rand Paul has apparently been satisfied with the concerns he had over extending the term of FBI Director Robert Mueller another two years and has withdrawn his block on the vote.

Following a private, one-on-one meeting with FBI director Robert Mueller, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Thursday he will no longer block an extension of the agency director's term.

Paul had vowed to stall the agency head's two-year extension of his term until Mueller answered questions on how two Iraqi nationals — one with a history of terrorism — gained refugee status and lived for several years in Bowling Green, Ky. The move might have meant Mueller would have had to step down temporarily in anticipation of his term ending just before Labor Day.

Paul described his private session with Mueller as "very constructive" and came away assuaged that the FBI has worked to put improve the vetting process of thousands of Iraqi nationals who've come to the United States under refugee status.

"I came away that the FBI is going to be looking at those being admitted, and the ones coming in will be screened more thoroughly than before," Paul said in an interview with the Herald-Leader.

So that's one less thing Republicans are blocking pointlessly.  Just another hundred thousand more to wade through.

Marry-ment In The Big Apple

One piece of good news today:  same-sex marriage in New York became officially legal as of midnight, and couples were ready to tie the knot across the state.

Clerks in New York City and about a dozen other cities statewide opened their doors Sunday to cater to same-sex couples. In New York City, judges waived a mandatory 24-hour waiting period that allowed couples to exchange vows moments after receiving their licenses.

Initially, New York City officials had projected that about 2,500 couples might show up at the city clerk's offices hoping to get married on Sunday, but by the time a 48-hour lottery had drawn to a close on Thursday, 823 couples had signed up — 59 more than the city had planned to accommodate. The city will perform ceremonies for all 823.

The first couples got married at the stroke of midnight Sunday in every corner of the state, from Niagara Falls to the capital in Albany to Long Island.

Gay-rights activists Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd were legally married the very first moment they could be during a midnight ceremony at Niagara Falls.

With a rainbow-lit Niagara Falls as a backdrop, Lambert, 54, and Rudd, 53, were among the first gay couples to tie the knot with the blessing of the state. Lambert and Rudd, who have 12 grandchildren between them, have been together for more than a decade and had long been fighting for the right to marry.

The couple, both from Buffalo, smiled broadly as they exchanged traditional marriage vows, promising to love and cherish each other in sickness and in health. A crowd of several hundred people cheered as they were pronounced married and shared their first kiss.

"What an incredible night this was," said Lambert, who wore an electric blue satin gown with a sequined train for the midnight ceremony and carried a bouquet of blue hydrangeas. "This was an amazing night. Everything was absolutely perfect."

Reports are sketchy, but I'm fairly sure that heterosexual marriages in the state have not immediately gone up in flames and New York has not in fact crashed into the yawning abyss.  (That happens Monday when Wall Street opens.  Thanks, GOP!)

Teleporting To Conclusions On The Norway Attacks, Part 2

After railing Friday that the Norway attacks had to have been Muslim extremists, Jennifer Rubin now says she was both wrong and that Muslim extremists are still responsible, which is the equivalent of apologizing by saying "I'm sorry you're dumb enough to believe Muslims are anything other than terrorists."

Early suspicion that the attacks might have been linked to a jihadist bombing plot in Oslo last year or the recent Norwegian prosecution of an Iraqi terrorist did not bear up. Right Turn specifically quoted Thomas Joscelyn of the Weekly Standard for the proposition that we “ [didn]’t know [emphasis added]” at the time if al-Qaeda was responsible, although there was plenty of concern in Norway about jihadist terror plots that have increased in Scandinavia. As Joscelyn did, at the time I believed the best working theory, given Norway’s recent experiences, was that it was jihadist-related. It nevertheless is a good reminder to all of us including myself that early reports are often wrong. (Indeed, late today there were new questions as to whether the suspect acted alone.)

Rubin blames the Weekly Standard for her own stupidity and argues that any thinking person would have come to the conclusion that it had to have been Islamist terrorists.  You know, except for all the truly thinking people who said "There have been enough terrorist attacks in the world that have not been committed by Islamic extremists to say that we should perhaps wait for details, especially those of us writing columns for major national newspapers."

But no, Rubin has an agenda to push and she immediately goes right back to it:

As to the horror in Norway, once again we are reminded how vulnerable free and open societies are. We are reminded that the best security system is not airtight. And, we are reminded that the first obligation of government is to protect its citizenry.

That the suspect here is a blond Norwegian does not support the proposition that we can rest easy with regard to the panoply of threats we face or that homeland security, intelligence and traditional military can be pruned back. To the contrary, the world remains very dangerous because very bad people will do horrendous things. There are many more jihadists than blond Norwegians out to kill Americans, and we should keep our eye on the systemic and far more potent threats that stem from an ideological war with the West.

Translation:  terrorist attacks by Muslims are the only ones that count.  Terrorist attacks by non-Muslims are simply aberrations committed by lone wolf actors that only reinforce my point that Muslims are an existential threat to America.  The lessons of a right-wing Christian who has now confessed to killing nearly 100 people in Norway are that you should be afraid America and that Muslim are our enemies.

Brilliant.  Rubin cannot be fired fast enough from the Washington Post at this point.

Here Come The Brides

Sealing their wedding vows with a kiss shortly after 9 a.m., Chelsea residents Phyllis Siegal, 76, and Connie Kopelov, 84, seen above, became the first same-sex couple to be legally married by the city clerk in his Lower Manhattan office.
Siegal and Kopelov have been a couple for 23 years, but today is the first day that New York State has allowed the two women to get married.

It's about time, and once the holiness of marriage doesn't burn before our eyes, surely there is more to come.  The next thing you know, DOMA and DADT will just be "can you believe it was ever this way" tales we tell our children.  Or so I hope. 

Take Your Medicine, Son

PHOENIX (AP) — Lawyers for the suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage say prison officials have resumed forcibly medicating their client with a psychotropic drug.
Jared Lee Loughner's attorneys in filings Thursday questioned whether the forced medication violates an earlier order by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that forbid them from involuntarily medicating Loughner as the court mulls an appeal on his behalf.
The filings say officials at the federal prison facility in Missouri resumed the forced medication on an emergency basis because Loughner had become an immediate threat to himself.

This is a slippery slope, and should not be taken lightly.  The right to refuse medication is an important right that we all hold precious.  It gives us control over our bodies, as well as protection to choose our treatment.  At what point do we declare someone so far gone that we should make that choice for them?  In Loughner's case it does make sense.  What is scary is the idea that it could be forced on others in lieu of real treatment.  I agree he should be treated even if it is against his will due to the scope and nature of his issues, but I am glad to see that it didn't come easy.  That's how it should be. 

No Dealing On The Debt Ceiling, Part 44

Yesterday House Republicans made noises to try to call President Obama out and offer a short-term debt ceiling bill that only pushes the fight to later in the 2012 campaign season.  All indications are the Dems have wisely rejected that, saying that without a comprehensive deal, America's credit rating will still be downgraded.

"I will not support any short-term agreement, and neither will President Obama nor Leader Pelosi," Reid said in a statement. "We seek an extension of the debt ceiling through at least the end of 2012. We will not send a message of uncertainty to the world."

Reid and Pelosi are joining Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner in Boehner's office this evening for another round of talks following an hour-long session at the White House Saturday.

Boehner reportedly told his members after the meeting that he's angling for a deal by the end of the day Sunday, which is when Asian trading markets open for Monday business. 

If Orange Julius wants a deal by Asia's Monday open, he has until about 8 PM Eastern to do it at the very latest.  If not, chaos in the Nikkei and Hang Seng will spread to the Dow tomorrow morning.  Buckle up, folks.
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