Adam Serwer

Fallout.

Alan Keyes not so hot on repealing birthright citizenship. Birtherism is alive and well. "Mama Grizzlies" is an identity-politics hustle . Abortion is not like slavery . Prop. 8 loses .

Awlaki/Treasury Lawsuit Update.

Yesterday Josh Gerstein reported Treasury's claims that the ACLU and the CCR don't need a license to represent American-born extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in a lawsuit challenging the government's authority to kill him without a trial. The ACLU and CCR are also challenging Treasury's licensing requirement as unconstitutional. Treasury said they would grant the license anyway, but Nick Baumann reports that hasn't actually happened: I just exchanged emails with two ACLU spokespeople, Laurie Beacham and Rachel Myers . The organization has still not received a license to represent al-Awlaki (who could be killed by a drone strike at any point)—just a "form letter saying they received our application," Beacham says—"nothing responding to it." Myers' response was similar. "I don't think Josh saw our statement before he wrote," she says. "We stand by it." Kenneth Anderson , who has argued in favor of the idea that the government has the authority to kill al-Awlaki without trial, also said...

A New Secret Muslim Conspiracy?

Biracial black/Bangladeshi-American Michigan state Sen. Hansen Clarke , who defeated incumbent Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick in yesterday's Democratic Party primary in Michigan's 13th Congressional District, seems ripe for some right-wing conspiracy theorizing. If you think Barack Obama or Keith Ellison got the conspiracy mills humming, check out Clarke's family biography : Hansen had a Muslim father from Bangladesh and a mother who grew up in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Detroit. Hansen was raised Muslim, then converted to Roman Catholicism. His wife, Choi Palmer-Cohen , was born in South Korea and was adopted by a Catholic mother and a Jewish father. What is she today? By day, a staffer at the Center for Continuing Legal Education in Ann Arbor. Choi Palmer-Cohen is an awesome name. As for Hansen, he would be the first Bangladeshi-American to be elected to Congress, which may prompt some people to demand proof he's not "working with our enemies." Remember when that seemed...

Anti-Marriage Equality Hijinx.

In case you were wondering how marriage equality opponents are expecting Judge Vaughn Walker to rule today in California's Prop. 8 case, National Organization's for Marriage's man in D.C. in the D.C. metropolitan area , Bishop Harry Jackson , is already complaining even though the ruling hasn't been handed down yet ( via RightWingWatch): Yeah you read that right..."The majority of Californians ... and two-thirds of black voters in California ... have just had their core civil right to vote for marriage stripped from them by an openly gay federal judge." Because only heterosexuals can give objective legal opinions. That isn't bigotry, though.

NRO Lies About Faisal Rauf.

NRO has tried hard to connect Imam Faisal Rauf , the man behind the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero, to terrorism, but this statement in their editorial today is correction-worthy: Nor is Rauf exactly full-throated in his rejection of terrorism, offering only this: “The issue of terrorism is a very complex question.” While he cannot quite bring himself to blame the terrorists for being terrorists, he finds it easy to blame the United States for being a victim of terrorism: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.” Yeah, the interview in which Rauf says, “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened,” is the same one in which he offers a "full-throated rejection of terrorism," saying , "Fanaticism and terrorism have no place in Islam. ... There are always people who will do...

Aging And Prisons.

The other day Sara Mayeux highlighted this piece on the growing problem of costs associated with aging inmates in Georgia. As she points out, this isn't merely a local problem. Here's a graph from a report by the Pew Center on the States and the Vera Institute of Justice on the growth of the inmate population over 45 and 55: In a 2004 report, the National Institute of Corrections said that the annual cost of incarceration is around "$60,000 to $70,000 for each elderly inmate compared with about $27,000 for others in the general population." Part of this is due to rising health-care costs in general; part of it is due to the fact that the stresses of prison life and the poverty that often precedes it wear even more harshly on older people. It's not immediately clear how to cut costs here without simply changing which part of the government pays the bill. A number of states have geriatric release programs that might lower costs, but that depends on a number of factors, including the...

An End To Prison-Based Gerrymandering In New York.

Look, I know I've said this before, but Gov. David Paterson is leaving an incomparable progressive legacy on corrections issues in New York. The budget passed by the state Legislature yesterday would end the practice of prison-based gerrymandering, by which conservative upstate politicians inflate their power by counting the largely black prison population as constituents despite the fact that inmates, by definition, reside in the district involuntarily. Whatever else can be said about Paterson's term, the man reformed the draconian Rockefeller drug laws, outlawed the NYPD's stop-and-frisk database, and is poised to end the state's use of a terrible political practice reminiscent of the three-fifths compromise. That's really something.

Peaceful Jews Refudiate Park 51 Opponents.

Imam Faisal Rauf , the head of the Cordoba Initiative organization that is planning the Islamic community center near Ground Zero, thanked American Jewish organizations for their support of the project: “I express my heartfelt appreciation for the gestures of goodwill and support from our Jewish friends and colleagues”, he said. “Your support is a reflection of the great history of mutual cooperation and understanding that Jewish and Muslim civilizations have shared in the past, and remains a testament to the enduring success of our continuing dialogue and dedication to upholding religious freedom, tolerance and cooperation among us all as Americans.” Extremism! The flip side is that American Jewish organizations, like the Anti-Defamation League, that threw their support behind those opposing the building's construction will someday look back at this in shame. I'm guessing some already do. Meanwhile, Steve M. puts some things in perspective for Newt Gingrich, who, like other opponents...

Prop. 8 Ruling Expected Today.

The decision in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger marriage-equality case is expected to come down today. This LA Times editorial wrap-up published after the closing arguments in June does a great job of explaining just how badly the case went for opponents of marriage equality: One witness who had been hired to testify that gay men and lesbians wield significant political power -- and therefore were not a group that had especially suffered from discrimination -- ended up conceding that at least some people voted for Proposition 8 because of prejudice against homosexuals. The witness, Kenneth Miller , a professor at Claremont McKenna College, also had made statements in the past that minorities were vulnerable to harm from ballot initiatives, and that courts should protect them from such harm -- an argument that seemed to weaken the case for his side. Then there was David Blankenhorn , the founder and president of the Institute for American Values, who testified that preserving traditional...

Fallout.

Heather Hurlburt on liberal apathy , the national security version. Driving home my point, Greg Sargent notes that liberal darling Rep. Anthony Weiner has been silent about the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. Senator Mitch McConnell backtracking on repealing birthright citizenship. Julian Sanchez on why the intelligence community needs GAO oversight.

The War On "Candy Flavored" Drugs.

Today President Barack Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces the powder/crack cocaine sentencing disparity from 100:1 to 18:1. There is no scientific or medical explanation whatsoever for retaining any disparity; it's simply the result of a Washington ritual that holds that all bipartisan compromises must necessarily make legislation worse. More than 80 percent of those convicted on the harsher offenses related to crack are black, despite the fact that most crack cocaine users are white. The bill is not retroactive, so those individuals sentenced under the draconian former guidelines will see no relief. Last week, in response to my rather glum response acknowledging Congress' small but important step toward sentencing sanity, David Dayen accurately pointed out that "you know what we don’t do a lot of in this country? Reduce sentences...ANY change in a positive direction takes a ridiculous amount of work and struggle. This is a small step, but it’s a step in the right...

Shales Now Outright Lying About Amanpour.

This is low-stakes intra-Beltway sniping, so I'm not sure why it bothers me so much, but Tom Shales is now just straight-up lying about Christiane Amanpour 's "In Memoriam" segment on last Sunday's edition of ABC's This Week : Tom Shales: Hello and why did I do what? Oh, imply that Amanpour was excluding Americans from her tribute to fallen heroes ... But I didn't say, or at least mean to say, that she excluded anybody. This portion of the program had traditionally included the names of U.S. servicemen and women who had given their lives for their country. Now suddenly Amanpour decided it should be a tribute to all those who died in any wars -- and presumably that would include those who died fighting AGAINST the United States as well as for it -- which I think is taking pacifism or magnanimity too far. If this were 1943, we would hardly think it appropriate to mourn Nazi casualties. This is ludicrous. The segment exclusively showed the names of American military dead; it didn't even...

ACLU, CCR, Target Targeted Killing.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center on Constitutional rights have filed a lawsuit against Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control over their having blocked the ACLU's attempt to challenge the government's authority to engage in the targeted killing of American citizens suspected of terrorism. The lawsuit is being brought on behalf of Nasser al-Awlaki , the father of Anwar al-Awlaki , the extremist cleric who has been linked to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and several terror plots targeting the United States. Nasser al-Awlaki maintains that his son is innocent. Although there have been rumors that the U.S. government would be indicting Anwar al-Awlaki, that hasn't happened yet. However, in July, Awlaki was designated a global terrorist, meaning that anyone wishing to render legal services on his behalf had to acquire permission from the OFAC. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the OFAC's requirement...

Landmark Commission Says Park 51 Project Can Go Forward.

New York City's Landmark Preservation Commission voted unanimously not to landmark the building in the spot where the Cordoba Initiative wants to construct an Islamic community center, often erroneously referred to as the "Ground Zero Mosque." The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that the center will contain a memorial to the victims of the September 11 attacks, but this is unlikely to quiet opponents of the project, who are either committed to the notion that all Muslims are responsible for the deeds of al-Qaeda or are desperate to use Islamophobic bigotry as a fundraising tool or political football. The vote clears the way for the project to be built, short of some drastic form of state intervention. When you think about it, it's rather remarkable that this controversy has become a national story. Republicans spend a great deal of time attacking the residents of New York City for not being "real Americans" while waving the bloody shirt of 9/11 whenever it's convenient. Imam...

Cordoba: Lost In Translation.

Part of the conservative opposition to the Islamic Center near Ground Zero being proposed by the Cordoba Initiative is the presumption that the name itself, Cordoba, is an indication of the group's intentions to impose Sharia law on the United States. For example, here 's Newt Gingrich : The true intentions of Rauf are also revealed by the name initially proposed for the Ground Zero mosque --“Cordoba House” -- which is named for a city in Spain where a conquering Muslim army replaced a church with a mosque. This name is a very direct historical indication that the Ground Zero mosque is all about conquest and thus an assertion of Islamist triumphalism which we should not tolerate. Of course, this is the exact opposite of the reason the Cordoba Initiative claims it named itself "Cordoba Initiative": Cordoba Initiative aims to achieve a tipping point in Muslim-West relations within the next decade, bringing back the atmosphere of interfaith tolerance and respect that we have longed for...

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