Adam Serwer

Adam Serwer is a writing fellow at The American Prospect and a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He also blogs at Jack and Jill Politics and has written for The Village Voice, The Washington Post, The Root, and the Daily News.

Recent Articles

The Nice Guy And The Manic Pixie Dream Girl

This is a bit off topic, but it's my blog and my last week here so bear with me. I recently watched The Adjustment Bureau , a sort of sci-fi romance where the world is regularly nudged away from extinction by a covert bureaucracy of otherwordly chaperones who dress like 1950s pulp detectives. The female lead, played by Emily Blunt, is a variation on Nathan Rabin's " Magic Pixie Dream Girl ," concept, defined as a woman "exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures." I think Blunt's character actually diverges from the archetype in that (spoiler warning) male protagonist Matt Damon agrees to dump her because doing so allows her professional career to flourish. Later on, she willingly gives that up knowing what she's sacrificed -- but Damon's character does as well. Damon is the protagonist, and the Blunt character's personal struggles are of little interest to the...

Perry: "There’s not going to be a Social Security and Medicare program"

Jed Lewison has video of what I think is probably Texas Governor Rick Perry's most glaring political weakness: From Lewison's transcript: And listen, how many people in here are less than 50 years old in this audience? All right, I got in trouble by asking that question right off the bat, there, but these young kids who are coming along, they know for a fact there’s not going to be a Social Security and Medicare program. They know that. So we have to have an adult conversation with this country. We have to talk about how are we going to transfer over. How are we going to make the transformation. In case anyone thinks this is being misinterpreted, Perry wrote in his book that Social Security was an "illegal ponzi scheme," a view he's now walking away from. Republicans have made substantial headway in delegitimizing social insurance by talking about government spending in the abstract and making it sound like only the lazy or immoral receive public assistance. But asked specifically...

Q&A: Local Law Enforcement And Domestic Surveillance

Earlier today, the AP reported on a massive domestic intelligence gathering operation run by the NYPD. I spoke with the Brennan Center's Faiza Patel, author of the center's report on domestic surveillance, about the implications of local law enforcement engaging in intelligence gathering for counterterrorism purposes and the differences between the FBI and NYPD's legal authorities and accountability mechanisms. The following transcript has been edited slightly for clarity. What did the NYPD do that technically the FBI doesn’t think it’s allowed to do? I’m trying to puzzle that out myself. The NYPD was initially subject to this Handshu guidelines rule, which had restrictions on their monitoring of First Amendment activity. Those guidelines were removed when they went back and got a modification of the consent decree. As one of the conditions of that modification, what was required was that they would adopt the FBI guidelines. So what they then did is they adopted the Ashcroft...

Domestic Surveillance, NYPD Style

The Associated Press has an astounding story on the depth of a domestic surveillance effort conducted by the NYPD, and the possibility that it goes beyond the permissive FBI guidelines that have themselves drawn criticism from civil-liberties advocates. Freedom from the kind of oversight required at the federal level (think about that!), the NYPD, with its far more diverse roster, engaged in an expansive intelligence-gathering operation in local Muslim communities. The NYPD also had some assistance from the CIA in constructing the program, which is in and of itself disturbing since that agency is not legally allowed to spy on American citizens. Cohen said he wanted the squad to "rake the coals, looking for hot spots," former officials recalled. The undercover officers soon became known inside the department as rakers. A hot spot might be a beauty supply store selling chemicals used for making bombs. Or it might be a hawala, a broker that transfers money around the world with little...

Freedom For Some

Matthew Yglesias on Ron Paul : After looking at his positions and statements, the most remarkable thing is that if it weren’t for his loud fanbase of self-proclaimed libertarians you wouldn’t really think this is the platform of a libertarian. He’s loudly trumpeting his plan to impose criminal penalties on women who terminate their pregnancies and he makes it clear that his interest in freedom doesn’t extend to the freedom of anyone unfortunate enough to have been born in a foreign country. His campaign slogan of “RESTORE AMERICA NOW” is strongly suggestive of conservative impulses and nostalgia for the much-less-free America John Boehner grew up in. The mainstay of his economic thinking is the ridiculous proposition that “[t]here is no greater threat to the security and prosperity of the United States today than the out-of-control, secretive Federal Reserve.” Not only is Paul’s goldbuggery nutty on the merits, like his affection for forced pregnancy and severe restrictions on human...

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