Adam Serwer

KBR And Arbitration

Pema Levy writes about the impact of the KBR rape case in the context of the larger battle over mandatory arbitration: The Franken Amendment, KBR president William C. Bodie wrote in a letter in January 2010, “promotes frivolous lawsuits.” It’s the most common argument trotted out in favor of arbitration, and it’s exactly how KBR painted the Jones case. Of course, no rape case should be called frivolous on its face, especially since Jones isn’t alone in reporting assault overseas. In 2008, The Nation Investigative Fund ran a story entitled “Another KBR Rape Case” about Dawn Leamon , a paramedic who says she was drugged and gang raped on a base in Iraq. Jones’ lawyer is currently working on the case of Anna Mayo , who says she was brutally raped while working for a Halliburton subsidiary in Iraq. In 2009, Jones testified that, through a foundation she set up to support women assaulted overseas, she had been contacted by a number of women who found themselves shut out of the courts after...

Peter King Is A New Yorker

Rep. Peter King 's call for an investigation into Newscorp following revelations that media organizations owned by Rupert Murdoch allegedly tried to hack the phones of 9/11 victims is probably a smaller deal than it seems: King said in the letter, addressed to FBI Director Robert Mueller , that the journalists should face felony charges if the allegations are proven true. “It is revolting to imagine that members of the media would seek to compromise the integrity of a public official for financial gain in the pursuit of yellow journalism,” wrote King, who is also chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. This is regional politics over party politics, something King--despite his recently acquired reputation as the GOP's foremost Muslim-baiter--has always excelled at. When Republicans who don't represent districts with lots of police and firemen who remember 9/11 vividly or have friends who do, that'll be a bigger sign that Murdoch's troubles across the pond have really...

Libya And The Narrative, Ctd

Eric Martin makes an important point: As previously argued, the notion that our military intervention against a despotic regime (that we had never supported to begin with) would somehow convince the Arab street that we don't back non-democratic regimes in the region when convenient, was a highly dubious contention. After all, even if we did intervene in Libya on the side of anti-regime elements, we would be continuing our support for often brutal, non-democratic regimes in places like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan and Yemen - with the jury still out on how Egypt tacks. Opponents of intervention were characterized, to use Peter Beinart 's telling , of "immoral consistency." Aside from the fact that one need not be opposed to intervention in all circumstances to have doubted the wisdom of intervening in Libya, one intervention on behalf of an Arab populist uprising was never going to make people in the region forget about everything else they hate about U.S. policy in the region. No one...

The Feds, Immigration, And SB 1070

One of the more common refrains on the right in defense of restrictive immigration laws is that the federal government has "failed" to address the problem, so it only makes sense that the states are taking matters into their own hands. Ilya Shapiro , who defends the constitutionality of SB 1070 but argues that its bad policy, offers a version of this argument: And yet most people agree on the types of problems we face from this dysfunctional situation: ten to twelve million illegal aliens living in the law’s shadow; scientists/engineers/researchers/businessmen who have no path to a green card and citizenship (and often not even a path to a work visa); employers unable to find legal and reliable manual laborers despite high rates of unemployment; and border states and counties facing a disproportionate burden relating to the provision of social services and law enforcement. And most people would also agree on the broad-brush solutions those problems require: greatly expand legal...

Rand Paul Not Joining McConnell's Culture War Counterterrorism Campaign

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell 's culture war counterterrorism campaign against federal trials for suspected terrorists contrasts rather starkly with the junior Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul : "I think in this instance, if you capture them here, I think the federal courts probably can take care of them much more swiftly than Guantanamo and actually give them very lengthy sentences if they are found guilty," Rand Paul said. Paul points to more than 400 convictions of other terror suspects in the United States. “There's ample evidence that we can try people here [and] imprison them,” Paul said. “And then we get away from the backlash we get from other countries if we hold people without determination." McConnell on the other hand, is busy trying to spread panic, arguing that the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial should guide American national security policy. McConnell recently seized on the arrests of two Iraqi nationals in Kentucky on terrorism charges to argue that they...

Fallout

Rick Perry 's Confederate past . Woman jailed for trying to keep her daughter from getting a TSA pat-down. ACLU goes after the CIA's Juan Cole files . Gaming out the political impact of a debt ceiling deal.

Libya And Shifting The Narrative

Mike Riggs looks at C.J. Chivers ' latest report from the front lines in Libya showing that the rebels have taken to "looting" and "reprisals" against Libyans loyal to dictator Moammar Ghadafi and writes : Chivers argues convincingly that Qaddafi's forces are worse, what with bombing civilians and executing prisoners. Then he notes that the rebels have a mixed record of treatment themselves, with some captured Qaddafi troops receiving "medical treatment in rebel hospitals and have been kept in detention centers that nongovernment organizations have been allowed to visit," while others have been beaten and "shot through the feet, either as a punishment or as a means to prevent escape." I suppose the consolation here is that we are funding the lesser of two evils? Consolation aside, while the latest Zogby poll doesn't include Libya, the reason I was skeptical of the public relations benefits of intervening in Libya from the beginning is that the U.S. was going to take the blame from...

Battlestar Galactica And Suicide Terrorism

Having finally gotten through four seasons of Battlestar Galactica, I want to revisit the occupation/New Caprica storyline that was widely received as a criticism of the war in Iraq. The occupation arc is actually my favorite part of the series, not just because it was extraordinarily well done but because the rescue sequence, in which the Galactica executes a faster than light jump into New Caprica's atmosphere, releasing its fighters to they can take out the ground based defenses, is one of the coolest space opera battle scenes ever, hands down. Jonah Goldberg 's 2009 essay on the subject complains that the show devolves into liberal propaganda at this point in the series, although it should be noted that the objection is to the "liberal" part rather than the "propaganda" part. Goldberg is thrilled by an episode in which "saccharine liberal do-gooder" Laura Roslin, who becomes president of the colonies because she's the last cabinet member left alive after the Cylons destroy human...

Push-Polling The Jewish Vote

My post at Greg 's today is on the latest laughable push-poll Republicans are touting as "evidence" Obama is going to lose the Jewish vote: The phrasing in this poll is comically skewed towards eliciting the most negative responses possible. As always, the game is to perpetuate the sad conservative meme that this time, really this time, American Jews are going to abandon their liberalism and vote Republican because Obama is a huge anti-Semite. The only thing this poll reveals is how badly some want to keep this storyline going. Look, with the economy the way it is, if Obama loses it wouldn't surprise me to see him lose a non-negligible number of Jewish votes. But the notion that Obama is bleeding Jewish support because of recent remarks on Israel has yet to be proven, and it certainly isn't supported by this crappy poll, the purpose of which is to further a Republican media narrative. Eli Clifton has more on pollsters John McLaughlin and Pat Caddell . An organization called "Secure...

Arabs Not So Hot On Obama, U.S.

James Zogby 's Arab American Institute has some bad news for the Obama administration regarding its outreach to the Muslim world, finding that the U.S.' approval is " lower than at the end of the Bush Administration, and lower than Iran's favorable ratings." Across the board in the countries surveyed, respondents cited "continuing occupation of Palestinian lands" as an obstacle to peace and stability in the region, even above "U.S. interference in the Arab world," which came second. The poll measured opinions in Morocco, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan. In response to the question " Do you agree or disagree that Barack Obama has met the expectations he set in his speech at Cairo University in June 2009?" the affirmative responses were in single or low double digits. Then there's this: Arabs see the Obama Administration's handling of most Middle East policy issues as having made no contribution to improving U.S.-Arab relations. Only on the issue of the...

T-Paw's "Double Guantanamo" Moment

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty , plummeting in the polls, is emerging as the neocon candidate of choice. Marc Thiessen , trying his best to shoehorn his inaccurate characterization of Obama administration detention policy as "catch and release," into the GOP Primary conversation gives Pawlenty a chance to bear his spittle flecked comb: “I think that is preposterous,” Pawlenty told me, adding that he will end such a catch-and-release policy if he is elected president. Pawlenty also said he would keep Guantanamo prison open and start bringing terrorists there, as well as to other facilities, for interrogation again. He would restore enhanced interrogation “under certain and controlled and limited circumstances.” As for civilian trials for terrorists, Pawlenty said: “We are engaged in the war on terror. [When] we are in the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq or its operational equivalent in some other place, and we apprehend somebody who is a suspected enemy combatant, the proper...

Washington Times Op-Ed: Army Has Been Fooled By The 'Stealth Jihad'

Today the Washington Times published an op-ed from Retired Admiral James A. Lyons arguing that the decision of the Army to allow a Muslim soldier to acquire conscientious objector status shows it has "embraced" the worldview of Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan : Now it seems the Army has embraced Maj. Hasan’s position in an incredible decision made last month by the secretary of the Army to grant conscientious objector status to Pfc. Naser Abdo . He is a 21-year-old soldier, a member of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., who refused to deploy to Afghanistan, claiming that Shariah law prevented him from killing other Muslims. The fact that Shariah law is totally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution and has no legal basis in the United States was somehow overlooked in the Army’s decision process. Shariah is a totalitarian legal-military-political system that is designed to control every aspect of an individual’s life and is antithetical to...

Fallout

Pema Levy on the upside to the decision in the KBR rape case. The military lessons of Westeros. The social media singularity . Those liberal detectives on Law and Order should stop being such big government fascists and go torture someone.

The Lack Of Love For Herman Cain

David Swerdlick and John McWhorter are debating the significance of Herman Cain , with McWhorter concluding that: Are they embracing him just because he allows them to disavow racism? Let's say there's some of that -- but then the same people who would make this charge are surely aware, and often say, that the whites who embraced Obama had a lot of that in them as well. Herman Cain is a black man -- and not a Guess Who's Coming to Dinner type -- being embraced by, of all people, Republicans. After all, wouldn't we expect Republicans to be swooning for another "not too black" type instead? Well, to this point, Obama found his white guilt vote embarrassing and tried to discourage it, while Cain talks like he's one bad fundraising quarter away from selling indulgences. Swerdlick responds : Cain's views simply aren't winning ones. And most black voters are negatively disposed toward him because of those views -- not because of blind loyalty Obama or to Democrats. You can call it progress...

No 12th Dimensional Chess Here

Ezra Klein has a chart that puts the offer Barack Obama gave John Boehner in context: What Obama offered Boehner was an opportunity to take the Bush tax cuts off the table. So though $800 billion in revenue sounds sizable, it’s only half as much in total revenue as the White House’s April proposal, two-fifths as much as Simpson-Bowles wanted, and one-fifth what we’d get if the Bush tax cuts expire next year. And that's in addition to substantial cuts to entitlements. The White House may be playing this well politically in the short term, but the idea that this kind of offer is part of some incredibly complex rope-a-dope defies reason. Obama is giving the GOP almost everything they want in order to raise the debt ceiling, and they're saying no. But it's not because he wants them to say no. He wants a deal, bad enough to take a really awful one. Some of the quotes passed on by White House aides in response to the cuts Republicans are requesting are amusing, but let's not forget what the...

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