Adam Serwer

Cain Hated "The Separation Of Church And State" Before He Loved It

Herman Cain has been unironically arguing that "[o]ur Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state," in support of discriminating against American Muslims, but Nick Sementelli points out that he wasn't always such a fan of the concept , at least not in 2006: Too many Americans are guided and implicitly threatened by the misinterpretations of the Constitution's establishment clause that found a non-existent "separation of church and state." So to reiterate: Herman Cain believes "separation of church and state" is a "misinterpretation of the Constitution." Unless Muslims are involved, in which case that separation is ironclad and means mosques can be banned. *post edited for clarity

Harry Potter's Shylocky Goblins

I'm not a Harry Potter fan myself, but I did see the last movie this weekend and I was struck by how much J.K. Rowling 's Goblins appear to be modeled after anti-Semitic stereotypes. Aside from being small, miserly, and gifted with large schnozes, Goblins, like medieval Jews, appear to have been forced into a caste system where they're responsible for banking and money lending. Oh sure, some of you Potter fans will undoubtedly argue that the Goblins are naturally predisposed toward such professions, that they enjoy being the stewards of the magical economy, and to you I say, you're a rabid Anti-Goblinite ! In the final film, (spoilers) a Goblin named Griphook agrees to help Potter and his friends infiltrate the Gringotts Bank (run by Goblins, natch) in exchange for the sword of Griffindor. In a particularly Shylocky move, Griphook betrays Potter and his friends at the last minute, informing them that he never promised to lead them out alive. Griphook is slaughtered with the rest of...

Master's Tools

Dan Savage defends the ill-advised nature of his mocking of Marcus Bachmann : Gay people who point out how fruity Bachmann is aren't saying there's something wrong with being fruity, or gay, or with guys who look, speak, walk, or dance the way Bachmann does. A lot of us look, speak, walk, and dance that way. And we don't think there's anything wrong with us for looking, speaking, walking, or dancing that way—I've never met a gay man who objected to Modern Family's Cam. And we certainly don't think there's anything wrong with being gay. But Marcus Bachmann sure does. He thinks there's a whole lot wrong with being gay. When we point out that this same Marcus Bachmann acts like a huge homo—like a messy, married, dishonest, closeted version Cam—we're hoisting that pansy on his own hateful petard. Marcus Bachmann is attacking us and we're we're claiming him. We're embracing him, we're saying that we recognize ourselves in him, and that turns the stigma Marcus Bachmann promotes back on...

Home Is Where The Property Taxes Are Mad High

Matthew Yglesias on Pamela Johnson , who owns a storefront in D.C.'s Northeast H Street corridor and is upset about the streetcar being built: The question is why, exactly, is she upset? According to the article she’s upset because her property tax bill has tripled, which is putting her at risk of losing the building she owns in a tax sale. But doesn’t this mean her building has tripled in value? Ceteris paribus, I’d rather pay less property tax than more. But having your investment in a building appreciate is better than having it decline in value and then you get a tax break. At the same time, it seems like we should take Johnson at her word that some feature of this situation is making her worse off. But I wonder what it is, exactly. If you buy low and then wind up needing to sell high because you can’t cover the property tax out of your income, it seems to me that you’re still coming out ahead. At a minimum, it’s hard to see how she could have been better off had the city not...

Herman Cain's Islamophobic Bargaining

My latest at Greg 's place is on Herman Cain 's insistence that the First Amendment doesn't protect Muslims: The most pathetic part of Cain’s argument however, is his insistence that “the people in the community know best.” Most people in Tennessee support or are indifferent to the mosque, only 28 percent of those polled last year opposed it. But even if the community were overwhelmingly opposed to the mosque, that wouldn’t justify discriminating against Muslims, anymore than popular support for segregation in the 1960s American South would have justified discriminating against blacks. Cain recently opined that President Barack Obama isn’t a “strong black man” like Martin Luther King Jr. Does Cain truly believe that the MLK Jr, who referred to Islam as one of the world’s “great religions” and fought his entire life against the idea that “local control” somehow trumps the fundamental rights of individual minorities, would have supported a ban on mosques? It was the first President of...

You Can't Talk About Race In D.C. Without Talking About Unemployment

The New York Times is the latest paper to take a look at Washington, D.C.'s internal divisions, but it stays in the shallow end of the pool: Some of these poorer residents saw revitalization as code for efforts to drive them out, and the building of dog parks and bike and streetcar lanes as efforts by affluent whites to re-arrange spending priorities to suit themselves. That perception surfaced during the Democratic primary last year and was used — many say unfairly — as a criticism of Adrian M. Fenty , who was then the mayor. “Fenty did things that were attractive to white people,” Marion Barry said in an interview. Mr. Barry is the storied former mayor who served time in prison, but is still so adored by his black constituency that he has remained in elected office. This is the bedtime story some of the city's more affluent residents like to tell themselves because it makes them feel righteous: Fenty was a great mayor who did wonderful things for the city and D.C.'s black residents...

Fallout

CJR takes on the Daily Caller. Reading the rebels in Western Libya. Really? Plantation weddings? Nonviolent resistance to occupation works.

Herman Cain Wants You To Know He Really Doesn't Like Muslims

Over at Greg 's today I discuss how Herman Cain , in the grand tradition of Republican politicians jumping into local zoning disputes when Muslims are involved, has declared his opposition to a mosque in Murfreesboro Tennessee, saying the building was “an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion.” A little background: The proposed mosque in Tennessee became a target of arson and vandalism in September of last year, not long after the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” became the freak show story of the summer. A local group tried to block construction, claiming that Islam wasn’t actually a religion. The plaintiffs’ attorney argued that Muslims aren’t entitled to the same rights as others because “these are the same people who flew jets into the World Trade Center on 9/11,” and said the whole thing was an effort to bring Tennessee under Taliban-style Islamic law. The whole controversy prompted the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to file a brief noting that Islam...

The Butt Of The Joke

Alyssa Rosenberg responds to people mocking Marcus Bachmann 's lisp and implying that he's gay: One of the funnier inversions of this trope I’ve seen was in Friends With Money where everyone assumed Frances McDormand ’s husband was gay even though he wasn’t. Turning stereotypes back on the people who hold them is almost universally funny than confirming them. Things like this won’t win the battle against Rep. Michele Bachmann as a viable national political figure and help delay victory in the larger war over gay rights. Here's the other problem with aiming gay jokes at presumably closeted homophobes: It reaffirms the idea that being gay is funny. If the objective is defeating homophobia, it hardly helps to tell jokes that homophobes can guffaw along with. They're thus reaffirmed in their belief that there's nothing wrong with mocking gay people for supposedly being "effeminate," since, after all, even gay folks think "those people" are hilarious. Ultimately gay people, rather than...

EPIC Loses Body Scanner Case

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a lawsuit last July over the TSA's use of body scanners, arguing that they violated the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Not surprisingly, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. In a decision released earlier today, they dismissed EPIC's constitutional arguments against the body scanners, while agreeing with a smaller complaint that TSA failed to to "initiate notice-and-comment rulemaking before announcing it would use AIT scanners for primary screening." On the question of whether or not the body scanner/patdown choice is "unreasonable," the court cited a 2001 decision in which the degree of "reasonableness" is “determined by assessing, on the one hand, the degree to which it intrudes upon an individual's privacy and, on the other, the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests.” Judge Douglas Ginsburg , who wrote the opinion, concluded "That balance...

Marine Review Of Bradley Manning's Confinement

Yesterday Josh Gerstein reported the results of an internal review conducted on the conditions of alleged leaker Bradley Manning , whom critics said was being held at a brig at Quantico under austere, punitive conditions. Manning has since been moved to Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas. There are two key revelations in the report , the first is that “On two occasions, August 6 2010 and 18 January 2011, a medical officer determined that suicide risk status was no longer warranted and the brig staff did not immediately take PFC Manning off the suicide risk status." The second is that the report concluded that the brig commander, Chief Warrant Officer James Averhart , did not "abuse his discretion" in classifying Manning as a "maximum custody" detainee. The review in other words, is something of a wash. It substantiates the concerns of some of Manning's defenders that his conditions of confinement were unnecessarily harsh, but not to the point that the government was abusing its authority in...

DoJ Still Defending DADT

The Department of Justice has appealed a federal court's decision to lift a stay allowing the military to continue implementing its Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. The court lifted the stay in part based on the government's own arguments for refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. A couple of points. It's really tempting to give the government a pass here--after all Congress voted to allow repeal, and the service chiefs have all submitted their evaluations. Repeal seems imminent, so why not let the government take their time? For one thing, discharges are still happening, as Chris Geidner reports : And, as has been seen, DADT does remain in effect, with administrative separation board hearings proceeding and discharges continuing under DADT. Although the emergency order states there only has been one DADT discharge since the passage of the repeal act, the Air Force has confirmed three discharges and one resignation related to 10 U.S.C. 654 in 2011. This isn't really defensible...

Fallout

Racebending towards justice. "America was certainly safe between 2000 and 2008. I don't remember any terrorist attacks on American soil during that period of time." Best. Clarification . Evar. From mancession to hecovery .

Oops

File this under hilarious press release of the day: NEW YORK – In response to an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act request, the Defense Department disclosed to the ACLU a document that contains criteria for holding detainees at the Bagram detention center in Afghanistan. Now, the government contends the document is properly classified and is asking a federal court to order its return. The ACLU says the document should never have been classified and should be made public under the Freedom of Information Act. It contains the criteria for labeling detainees an "enduring security threat," which results in prolonged and possibly indefinite detention. According to the ACLU they initially offered to let the government declassify the document once they realized what they had, but the government refused. The information itself also doesn't seem particularly sensitive, more a result of the government's instinct for classifying information than something that genuinely...

Post-Prohibition

I found this argument from Walter Russell Mead about what happens after the Drug War ends pretty amusing: Any change in drug policy is likely to disappoint the Stoner Lobby; the decriminalization of drugs is almost certain to lead to tougher non-criminal sanctions against their use. Marijuana may well get a pass, but other drugs will not. If criminal sanctions disappear, drug tests are likely to proliferate. You won’t be able to work in health care or any of the professions if you test positive for most drugs; likely you won’t be able to enroll in many colleges, receive government benefits (including financial aid) or teach. Any new policy on drugs is likely to be a bit like shifting immigration control from the borders to the workplace. Rather than building high walls along the borders, the Obama administration wants to attack illegal immigration on the demand side: by preventing employers from hiring illegals and punishing them if they fail to get adequate documents for their...

Pages