The nine-member bipartisan commission originally voted 5 to 4 to give Turkey that designation. But then one of the five, Don Argue, a former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, switched — apparently too late to meet a March 17 deadline set by commission Chairman Leonard Leo, who is also executive vice president of the Federalist Society.
The tiny advisory panel (budget $3 million, staff of about 20) has long been, as our colleague Michelle Boorstein noted, “rife . . . with ideology and tribalism,” and oft-accused of an anti-Muslim bias. (And the members are not even paid.)
The annual report usually comes out at the end of April but was released March 20 because five commissioners’ terms were expiring March 21, which would leave the panel without a quorum.
The five majority/dissenters issued a statement saying that, even so, there was “ample time to reflect” Argue’s changed vote and to keep Turkey in its lesser “watch” designation, as opposed to a CPC designation.
Those on the “watch” list include India, Russia, Venezuela and Cuba, which is now hosting Pope Benedict XVI , who’s drawing huge crowds for Masses across the country, including one attended by Fidel Castro’s brother Raul.
Well, at least the Cubans let him in. Better than the Chinese and Vietnamese.
Take a knee, senator
Former senator Arlen Specter’s new memoir, “Life Among the Cannibals,” recounts his party switch and his votes for President Obama’s stimulus package and the health-care plan.
But it’s not just about politics.
For example, in one steamy passage on Page 156, he recalls riding on the campaign bus of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008 with then-Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.
“She was a total charmer, very friendly,” Specter writes. “The few things she said were intelligent.” He doesn’t mention what they were, maybe because he was distracted.
“We were sitting virtually knee to knee in the cramped bus,” he writes. “She radiated sensuality. Her skirt rode above her knees — not exactly short, but close.”
The excitement builds . . .
State stretch on blogdom?
Employees getting in trouble at work for their extracurricular blogging are hardly a new story line, but when the blogger in question is a former model fond of posting pictures of herself doing yoga in scant clothing — and she claims to be a “diplomat” — well, the Loop takes notice.
We were directed to the site of one Jennifer Santiago, who says she’s a Foreign Service officer with the State Department, by Peter Van Buren, another State Department employee. State is in the process of firing Van Buren for a variety of reasons, including his own blogging (which does not include provocative pics, but rather more substantive offenses, the State Department says, such as linking to the whistleblower site WikiLeaks and disclosing classified information, among others).