Adam Serwer

West Explains Nothing

Cornel West offers the New York Times a non-explanation for his complaint that Obama “feels most comfortable with upper-middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart.”

It’s in no way an attempt to devalue white or Jewish brothers. It’s an objective fact. In his administration, he’s got a significant number of very smart white brothers and very smart Jewish brothers. You think that’s unimportant?


I don't have any particular insight on the attacks on government buildings in Norway this morning, but just last week, Thomas Hegghammer and Dominic Tierney wrote a piece in the aftermath of a recently foiled terrorist plot that offered some speculation on how and why Norway became a target of Islamic extremists.

UPDATE: The suspect in custody is "Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year old with right-wing extremist and anti-Muslim views."

Obama As Conservative President

Bruce Bartlett* looks at Barack Obama and sees Richard Nixon:

Thus Obama took office under roughly the same political and economic circumstances that Nixon did in 1968 except in a mirror opposite way. Instead of being forced to manage a slew of new liberal spending programs, as Nixon did, Obama had to cope with a revenue structure that had been decimated by Republicans.

Judicial Vacancy Crisis Only Getting Worse

Nan Aron of the Alliance For Justice notes that officially, because judges are retiring faster than Obama is nominating them and the Senate is confirming them, the number of judicial vacancies is higher than it was at the beginning of the year.

Stop Using Moozlem Words!

Yet more evidence of a sinister Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy afoot:

The blinding waves of brown particles, the most recent of which hit Phoenix on Monday, are caused by thunderstorms that emit gusts of wind, roiling the desert landscape. Use of the term “haboob,” which is what such storms have long been called in the Middle East, has rubbed some Arizona residents the wrong way.


Study finds the abortion pill is safe and effective.

Scary: Ghana's regional minister has "ordered the immediate arrest of all homosexuals in the country’s west."

This deal is getting worse all the time.

Looks like Maryland is going to take another shot at marriage equality.

Judicial Override In Death Penalty Cases: Another Reason Why Electing Judges Is A Bad Idea

Sherrilyn Ifill has an interesting piece up on the Equal Justice Initiative's new report on the death penalty in Alabama. Unlike other states, Alabama has a policy of judicial override which allows judges to impose the death penalty in cases where the jury has decided on a sentence of life in prison. Delaware and Florida also allow this, but they have restrictions that make overrides much rarer whereas Alabama has none at all.

Superheroes And The Jews

Jacob Silverman, observing that the American superhero genre is largely is highly informed by Jewish history, argues that the problem with today's superhero blockbusters is that they've gotten away from their Heeb roots:

The Strange Politics Of The American Immigration Debate

So Campus Progress has a well done infographic contrasting the deportation numbers in a given month with president Obama's rhetoric on immigration policy. The administration has said it is focused on deporting undocumented immigrants who are a threat to public safety, but in practice there are far more non-criminal removals than criminal ones:


Civilian Courts Can Handle Terrorism, Part One Million

Spencer Ackerman makes an observation that can't be repeated enough:

So I asked Karen Greenberg, director of NYU's Center on Law and Security to help me out here. According to Karen, if you count dismissals by either the judge or the government, the conviction rate in terrorism cases is 87 percent. If you don't, the rate is 95 percent.

That's compared to a 91 percent conviction rate (.pdf) for all criminal cases.

Pew: Muslims And Westerners Don't Like Each Other Much

Pew has a fascinating and grim new poll out on how Muslims and Westerners view each other. The poll concludes that "Muslim and Western publics continue to see relations between them as generally bad, with both sides holding negative stereotypes of the other." Anti-Semitism is also prevalent, as citizens of Muslim countries have particularly negative views of Jews, whose favorable ratings remain in the single digits among all the countries surveyed. September 11 denialism is also very prevalent in Muslim countries, with majorities in all the countries surveyed denying that Arabs were responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

Florida Embracing Private Prisons

When then-candidate Rick Scott and the police unions were butting heads over Scott's plans to reduce prison costs, I pointed out that neither side was particularly sympathetic. The police unions were accusing Scott of wanting to release dangerous criminals and Scott was arguing that forcing inmates to grow their own food was going to save money.

Al-Qaeda Covering Up Its Anthony Weiner Conspiracy

Midway through the Anthony Weiner scandal, folks on the Islamophobic right decided that a Democratic Congressman sending pictures of his penis wasn't humiliating enough and concluded that Weiner was part of an Islamist plot to take over America, because his wife Huma Abedin is a Muslim.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, perhaps worried that their plot had been uncovered, devoted a section to mocking Weiner in the latest issue of their magazine Inspire.


Most anti-LGBT murder victims are people of color.

Worst Congress ever.

The hunger strike at Pelican Bay prison continues.

Dana Goldstein on fighting unemployment.

Obama Is Weak On Terrorism Because He Doesn't Say Certain Words Enough

Maybe you heard that the Obama administration has been engaged in a large, unaccountable, covert shadow war against terrorist groups using special forces and armed drones.