Adam Serwer

Liu Nominated To California Supreme Court

Goodwin Liu, whose nomination to the federal bench was blocked by Senate Republicans, has been nominated by California Governor Jerry Brown to the Supreme Court of California. So what does that mean for Liu fans hoping to see him elevated to the Supreme Court? Well, experience on a state supreme court is probably better than being a law professor, but these days even folks without court experience are elevated more frequently. A Congressional Research Service Report from 2009 looked at the professional background of Supreme Court nominees, and a strong preference for U.S. Circuit Court judges emerges in the last sixty years or so. Eight of the current nine justices have circuit court experience*. Early circuit judges weren't picked much, according to CRS, because holding circuit court in the early days of the Republic literally involved Supreme Court justices traveling from state to state, and at least one, Justice James Wilson, died in 1789 of malaria. UCLA law professor Adam Winkler...

Obama Dismisses Deferred Action

President Obama's speech to the National Council of La Raza yesterday began, oddly enough on the deficit, but later he went on to defend his position on not instituting a formal policy of "deferred action" for undocumented immigrants who might be eligible for the DREAM Act should it pass: THE PRESIDENT: Believe me -- believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. (Laughter.) I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. (Laughter.) But that's not how -- that's not how our system works. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Change it! THE PRESIDENT: That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written. So let’s be honest. I need a dance partner here -- and the floor is empty. (Laughter.) Five years ago, 23 Republican senators supported comprehensive immigration reform because they knew it was the right thing to do for the economy and it was the right thing to do for America. Today, they’ve walked away. Republicans helped write the DREAM Act because they knew...

How Would Legalizing Marijuana Change American Culture?

Keith Humphreys writes about how the legalization of marijuana might impact Americans' cultural relationship with the drug: For millions of Americans, the word “marijuana” is hard-wired to the part of their brain that divides the human population into those who went to Woodstock and those who went to Viet Nam. The peculiar result is a largely left-wing movement fighting hard (alongside some corporate billionaires) to create a multinational corporation and a largely conservative movement fighting to stop the advance of capitalism and the private sector. Some people on both sides mis-imagine a legalized marijuana industry made up of bucolic co-op farms run by hippies in tie dye t-shirts, selling pot at the lowest possible profit to friendly independent business folk in the towns who set aside 10% of their profits to save the whales. This image is pleasant to some and revolting to others, but that’s as may be because it’s not what would happen under legalization. This will be tough for...

Today In Bad Anti-Islamophobe Arguments

Roger Cohen tries to compare alleged Oslo terrorist Anders Behring Breivik to Jared Lee Loughner: On one level Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian responsible for the biggest massacre by a single gunman in modern times, is just a particularly murderous psychotic loner: the 32-year-old mama’s boy with no contact with his father, obsessed by video games (Dragon Age II) as he preens himself (“There was a relatively hot girl on [sic] the restaurant today checking me out”) and dedicates his time in asexual isolation to the cultivation of hatred and the assembly of a bomb from crushed aspirin and fertilizer. No doubt, that is how Islamophobic right-wingers in Europe and the United States who share his views but not his methods will seek to portray Breivik. We’ve seen the movie. When Jared Loughner shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords this year in Tuscon, Arizona — after Sarah Palin placed rifle sights over Giffords’ constituency and Giffords herself predicted that “there are...

Fallout

Allen West says gay service members will destroy the military. Chauncey DeVega has more on Captain America . According to anti-marriage-equality activists, these happy people are a threat to America. Bad day to blame the Muslim Brotherhood for everything. Why Jewish voters recoil from Republicans.

Captain America's Fictitious, Integrated 1940s America

In the vein of what Ta-Nehisi Coates referred to as a "convenient suspension of disbelief" in X-Men First Class , Captain America: First Avenger dutifully ignores the civil-rights struggles of the 1940s. Well, not exactly -- where X-Men simply didn't mention the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s, Captain America: First Avenger pretends segregation didn't exist in the 1940s. In the comic books, Gabe Jones, one of Marvel's "Howling Commandos," is the first black soldier to serve in Nick Fury's integrated unit. This rewires American history a bit seeing as though integration didn't begin to take place until President Harry Truman's 1948 executive order, but at least it acknowledges that it is rewriting history. At the time, the Howling Commandos were a clever metaphor for the way the war accelerated the cause of integration -- both for the white ethnics who benefited most directly and for the black service members who inspired American leaders to push for full equality. The cinematic...

Geller: Oslo Is The Fault Of Muslims And Liberals

In case you're wondering who Pam Geller, one of the anti-Muslim bloggers cited in the manifesto of alleged Oslo shooter Anders Behring Breivik, sees as responsible for the shootings: This whole exercise is ridiculous. Anders Behring Breivik is responsible for his actions. If anyone incited him to violence, it was Islamic supremacists. If anything incited him to violence, it was the Euro-Med policy. So, if there's a terrorist attack committed by a Muslim, Muslims are responsible. If it's committed by an anti-Islam right-winger, then it's also Muslims' fault, and those damned tolerant liberals, too.

Perspective On The Deficit

James Fallows posts an edifying graph from The New York Times : Look, this is the whole strategy behind "starve the beast." Run up huge deficits, then blame them on a Democrat and use them as an excuse to eviscerate the social safety net. Until the current administration, though, no one could argue that it was actually working. As a matter of pure partisanship, though, it's telling that the deficit became a huge issue to Republicans only after Bush ran up more than $5 trillion in debt.

Anti-Islam Bloggers: Collective Blame Suddenly Wrong

My post at Greg's today is about right-wing anti-Islam bloggers suddenly discovering the evil of collective blame: Pamela Geller, who along with Professional Islamophobe Robert Spencer has been active in opposing the construction of mosques in the U.S., wrote: “This is just a sinister attempt to tar all anti-jihadists with responsibility for this man’s heinous actions.” Spencer, for his part, wrote: “as if killing a lot of children aids the defense against the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, or has anything remotely to do with anything we have ever advocated.” Most of Geller and Spencer’s blogging consists of attempts to tar all Muslims with the responsibility for terrorism. At CPAC last year, Geller and Spencer drew a large crowd for their documentary referring to the proposed community center near Ground Zero as “the second wave of the 9/11 attacks.” Yet they’re now pleading for the world not to do what they’ve spent their careers doing — assigning collective blame for an act...

Rick Perry's "Moderation" On Gay Rights

Notwithstanding the prayer gatherings , Texas Governor Rick Perry has staked out what can be described as a moderate position on the issue of same-sex marriage, saying it should be left up to the states. “Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me,” he said to applause from several hundred GOP donors in Aspen, Colo. “That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.” This is somewhat surprising given that Perry's prayer event is being held by the American Family Association, one of the most anti-gay groups in the country, considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. If Perry gets into the race, this kind of positioning could blunt the growing distaste for anti-gay discrimination among American voters. In a general election, it could make him more palatable to those with...

"Terrorism Expert" Hired By U.S. Frequently Cited By Oslo Terrorist In Manifesto

Walid Shoebat, a "terrorism expert" with a dubious background who was paid by the U.S. government to train law enforcement in counterterrorism, is frequently cited in the manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the alleged right-wing terrorist who is accused of killing more than 90 people in Oslo last week. Brevik cites Shoebat more than 15 times. Brevik cites Shoebat to support his arguments that immigration from Muslim countries threatens the West. "This is why the face of Islamic fundamentalism in the West has a façade that Islam is a peaceful religion," Brevik cites Shoebat as saying, "Because they are waiting to have more Islamic immigrants, they are waiting to increase in number, waiting to increase their political power," Shoebat, who is also a columnist for the right-wing birther website WorldNetDaily, bills himself as a reformed "PLO terrorist." But several people have pointed out that there are serious discrepancies in his personal narrative. Hussein Ibish wrote in May that "...

Fallout

"That yenta annoys the crap out of me with just her whining voice." In 60 days, DADT is dead for good. It's a shame how tough it is to find a segregated private school in DC these days. Boehner kills the debt deal.

"Tort Reform" And Hot Coffee

Scott Lemieux reviews "Hot Coffee," a documentary that describes how corporate interests leveraged the 1994 Liebeck v McDonald 's case into a successful movement to curtail civil suits: If tort tales were merely fodder for sitcoms and comedians, the distortions might be harmless. But these tales are often used (and sometimes created) for political purposes. A major strength of Saladoff’s documentary is that she links the false narrative about the McDonald’s coffee case to a larger - and pernicious - political cause. Tort reform groups funded by corporations have used the fictionalized portrayal of the Liebeck suit and other tort tales to compel legislatures to limit access to the courts and place arbitrary caps on damages. The contrast between the Seinfeld episode--where Kramer mildly scalds himself trying to sneak a cup of coffee into a film--and the actual circumstances of the Liebeck case couldn't be more stark. Yet the Seinfeld episode perfectly encapsulated the way the case was...

White Flight

If you want to see political vindication of the Republican decision to pursue a strategy of racial grievance , portraying Barack Obama as an un-American outsider with a " deep-seated hatred of white people," you need only look at Pew's latest analysis in the shift in partisan identification: Notably, the GOP gains have occurred only among white voters; a 2-point Republican edge among whites in 2008 (46% to 44%) has widened to a 13-point lead today (52% to 39%). In sharp contrast, the partisan attachments of black and Hispanic voters have remained consistently Democratic. While Republican gains in leaned party identification span nearly all subgroups of whites, they are particularly pronounced among the young and poor. A seven-point Democratic advantage among whites under age 30 three years ago has turned into an 11-point GOP advantage today. And a 15-point Democratic advantage among whites earning less than $30,000 annually has swung to a slim four-point Republican edge today. Yet,...

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