Adam Serwer

Is Rick Perry The Most Neocon Friendly Candidate?

Texas Governor Rick Perry hasn't even officially entered the race yet, but per Ben Smith he appears to be the neocon candidate of choice just based on whom he's taking advice from: Perry's aides have been tight-lipped about the gathering, which National Review reported included former Rumsfeld aides Doug Feith, Daniel Fata, and William Luti, as well as the magazine's Andrew McCarthy and others . But I'm told Rumsfeld helped steer Perry's staff to the low-key advisory group. Despite his tensions with Bush, this slate of advisers suggests Perry would be the candidate most likely to inherit the former president's foreign policy views. None of the other candidates' foreign policy braintrusts come close to this kind of continuity. I find it fascinating that McCarthy of all people, is seen as someone to take policy advice from despite his flogging of absurd conspiracy theories, including the idea that President Obama is covert agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. I wonder if Perry does enter...

Israel's Leftism

Jeffrey Goldberg writes about how horrified Israel's American Christian right supporters would be if they actually knew anything the country as it actually exists: I’ve met evangelical leaders who share an unpleasant tic with Israel’s critics on the far left: They all hold Israel to an impossible standard of moral and political behavior. To much of the Christian right, Israel isn’t a real nation-state facing a series of painful choices. It is, instead, a biblical fantasyland, and an instrument of Christian salvation. In Bachmann’s case, it’s a living test of America’s fealty to God. For Israel’s sake then, if not for America’s, perhaps it’s best that she remain ignorant of Israeli reality. Including the reality of all those sweaty gays. We needn't stick to gay rights here. Conservatives panicking over a supposedly "socialist" president might reconsider their affection for a country founded by socialists , those opposed to universal healthcare might want to avert their eyes from Israel...

Franken vs. DOMA

Igor Volsky posts a video from today's Senate hearing on legislation repealing the Defense of Marriage Act in which Senator Al Franken dresses down Tom Minnery from Focus on the Family after the latter fudged the results of a study to suggest that same-sex families were detrimental to children: Not that this necessarily makes one a good senator, but Franken is particularly good at using hearings to make a point. That doesn't necessarily mean he votes the right way all the time--he read the Fourth Amendment out loud to the then-head of the Justice Department's National Security Division before ultimately voting the PATRIOT Act out of committee anyway--but he's got a knack for this kind of thing.

Lone Wolves

J.M. Berger notes that when terrorist plotters team up, they usually fail, but the social nature of Islamic extremism makes lone wolves hard to come by: Every single homegrown plot against the U.S. since September 11 that involved more than one person has failed, most often because law enforcement caught wind of it. Nevertheless, homegrown jihadists keep talking about their plans, and keep getting caught. Although there are rare individuals who are capable of acting in complete isolation, jihad is ultimately a social and political activity. By its very definition, it is tied to an overwhelming sense of community with the global Muslim Ummah. Being a solitary jihadist is like being a solitary majorette. It's certainly possible, but you're likely to feel foolish marching around your basement in uniform. The problem with individual jihad is, ironically, its individuality. Although loose lips are probably the most operationally significant manifestation of this failure to conform, it...

The GOP's Goal: Keep Gitmo Open

I've written a lot about the detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act restricting the ability of the executive branch to try suspected terrorists in civilian court and mandating military detention even in the case of domestic arrests. In their letter to the president, a group of Republican committee chairs lets the cat out of the bag as far as the long term objective of such policies: We are concerned that the lack of a comprehensive military detention system will continue to have numerous detrimental results, including: incentivizing lethal operations over law of war detention; the loss of critical detainee-provided intelligence; forcing the United States to be wholly dependent on foreign governments to hold and provide access to detainees; and as in Warsame’s case, bringing terrorists to the United States. We recognize that there are significant reasons for not bringing detainees to Afghanistan from other areas of ongoing hostilities. However, this is the very...

The King's Torah

Right-wing Israelis are protesting the arrest of two rabbis who supported the King's Torah, a book that seeks to exempt nonbelievers from religious prohibitions against killing: Rabbis Dov Lior and Yacob Yousef had endorsed a highly controversial book, the King's Torah - written by two lesser-known settler rabbis. It justifies killing non-Jews, including those not involved in violence, under certain circumstances. The fifth chapter, entitled "Murder of non-Jews in a time of war" has been widely quoted in the Israeli media. The summary states that "you can kill those who are not supporting or encouraging murder in order to save the lives of Jews". At one point it suggests that babies can justifiably be killed if it is clear they will grow up to pose a threat. If this sounds a bit familiar, it's because al-Qaeda's "moral philosophers" did something similar back in the mid-1990s in order to provide a religious justification for the killing of civilians and thus a moral basis for...

Fallout

The MEK does not represent Iran's "democratic opposition." Realpolitik in a fantasy world. Why Islam-baiting doesn't work in elections. Obama endorses DOMA repeal.

Blunt Instruments

Matthew Yglesias deputizes Ta-Nehisi Coates as a member of the Republican Party: That makes perfect sense. But I do think it’s worth saying that the alternative being put on the table here is a conservative one, and the mere fact that the successful investor who doesn’t like high property tax rates is black doesn’t change that fact. After all, what concrete policy steps could the DC government take to avoid more people being stuck with the problem of rising property values that lead to higher property taxes. Well, I see two: 1. The city could stop investing in improved public services and public safety. 2. The city could reduce property taxes, especially on well-heeled property owners. That’s not a wild-eyed or insane policy agenda by any means. Indeed, it’s the fiscal agenda of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo . And I think it’s good for progressives to pay attention to things like Johnson’s story, since she can perhaps help people to better understand...

Marcus Bachmann, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan literally groans at my liberal political correctness on the Marcus Bachmann gay jokes: Groan. Look: as Dan notes, some things just cannot be ignored. When a brutal homophobe sounds and looks like a parody of a big old queen, suppressing that fact becomes close to impossible. I stand by the Corky St Clair comparison. And Corky, remember, self-described as straight. We just never saw his wife (for whom he did most of the personal shopping). By all means, poke fun. My argument is that ultimately, this kind of joke backfires outside of the community. The comparison that comes to mind is Dave Chappelle 's abandonment of his hilarious Comedy Central show when he began to suspect that not everyone was laughing at the same jokes for the same reason: One particular sketch still disturbs Dave today. The skit was about a pixie (played by Dave) who appeared in black face, which Dave describes as the "visual personification of the n-word." "There was a good-spirited intention...

Today In Bachmann Criticism

Over at Greg 's I take on Michele Bachmann 's attack on the Pigford Settlement in light of the subsidies her own family farm has received. Dana Goldstein rebuts a story in the Daily Caller that implies Bachmann's migraines might stop her from being an effective president. >Many famous, high-achieving people have been migraine sufferers, including Ulysses Grant and Thomas Jefferson . (At Appomattox in 1865, Grant reportedly had a migraine that miraculously lifted upon receiving a letter from Robert E. Lee arranging their first ceasefire meeting.) Among athletes, Dwyane Wade and Monica Seles are migraineurs; Seles missed just two matches due to migraine in her entire career, and Wade is well-known for practicing and playing through his pain. I could go on and on: Charles Darwin . Sigmeund Freud. Claude Monet . Virginia Woolf . Of course, the modern presidency is a uniquely stressful and fast-paced job. But modern medicine is also uniquely able to respond to chronic pain. Other...

King Goes A Third Round

Rep. Peter King is preparing for a third round of radicalization hearings focused on American Muslims. For the first time however, he's decided to focus on an actual problem: “At this hearing, the third in a series, we will examine Somalia-based terrorist organization al-Shabaab’s ongoing recruitment, radicalization, and training of young Muslim-Americans and al-Shabaab’s linking up with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). “In Minnesota, Ohio, and other states, dozens of young Muslim males have been recruited, radicalized, and then taken from their communities for overseas terrorist training by al-Shabaab. In a number of cases, the men – including both Somali-Americans and other converts -- have ended up carrying out suicide bombings or have otherwise been killed, often without their families even knowing where their sons have gone. There has not been sufficient cooperation from mosque leaders. In at least one instance, a Minnesota imam told the desperate family of a missing...

DC Gentrification, Ctd

Ta-Nehisi Coates responds to Matthew Yglesias : Her contention that the city is "driving us out of here." is very much debatable. But it's worth noting that a class of owners with a commitment to something more than a naked financial return is a good thing. When Matt asserts that the city is trying to make H Street a "desirable place to live," I am compelled to ask "desirable for whom?" I'm not being obtuse here--I understand, in the aggregate, his larger point. But very often people find a kind of value in their living condition that eludes socioeconomic data. You could look at the stats of black people in this country and conclude that it absolutely sucks to black. But very few black people I know actually feel that way. They don't wake up thinking about the HIV rate, or go to bed thinking about the incarceration rate. They process their lives with those greater realities, but more so in terms of details, in terms of specific places, specific people, and specific experiences that...

Confirming Oetken

Dana Milbank has a nice column on Paul Oetken pointing out that "The remarkable thing about what happened on the Senate floor Monday night was that it was utterly unremarkable." Oetken is the first openly gay judge to be confirmed to the bench. Eighteen years ago the first openly gay nominee to a Senate-confirmed position, Roberta Achtenberg , faced a filibuster and right-wing smear campaign. Then-Senator Jesse Helms called her a "damned lesbian." Oetken received 80 votes for confirmation. What is remarkable though, is the larger context. As Ian Millhiser points out, federal judges are retiring faster than they're being confirmed, and Obama 's confirmation rate on judicial nominations is about half that of previous presidents: Part of the reason Oetken's confirmation is "unremarkable" is that he's not particularly young. As Micah Schwartzman wrote a few months ago, an underappreciated aspect of the judicial confirmations crisis is that Obama's judges are on average, far older than...

Fallout

Mutants . The life and logic of an anti-abortion protester. First openly gay judge confirmed to the federal bench. But judges are retiring at twice the rate they're being confirmed.

What The "Stealth Jihad" Does To Law Enforcement

NPR has another story that underscores the urgency of the government investigating the charlatans posing as "terrorism experts" who are indoctrinating law enforcement with Islamophobic paranoia. After a "training session" in which a local Columbus, Omar al-Omari , was identified as someone with ties to members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and even al-Qaida," because he was photographed alongside members of the Council on American-Islamic relations, Omari lost his job fostering outreach between the Muslim community and law enforcement. Omari was singled out at a three-day seminar for local police and law enforcement in the Columbus area last April. The class was part of a larger nationwide initiative to help local law enforcement not just understand terrorism, but perhaps find ways to stop it. The Obama administration has set aside millions of dollars to fund these training programs, and, not surprisingly, that money has helped create an industry in which self-styled terrorism...

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