Adam Serwer

Republican Realism, Ctd

Josh Rogin has a good roundup of who is advising the GOP candidates on foreign policy, which is a better predictor of what any individual candidates foreign policy might look like than what they say in a presidential debate. Neoconservatives are well represented, but there is one candidate who is openly taking advice from the old realist greybeards: There has been some reporting that Huntsman is being advised by a group of foreign-policy realists including former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft , former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage , and Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass . But none of those advisors has committed to Huntsman publicly, and they are talking to other campaigns as well. "Those aren't exclusive relationships. They are foreign-policy experts. If any candidate calls them up, they are going to take the call, and they are going to try to explain the world and what the issues are to the candidates. That's just part of being a public...

Dawn Johnsen Defends Obama On Libya, Sorta

Dawn Johnsen , the woman who would have been the head of the Obama administration's Office of Legal Counsel had she not had the gall to vocally oppose torture and the corruption of OLC's independent role under President George W. Bush , takes a hatchet to Eric Posner' s " defense " of the administration's process for determining the legality of the Libya intervention under the War Powers Act: Posner, again characteristically provocative, faults Obama's OLC for not being willing to abandon its judgment that the United States is engaged in "hostilities" in order to back up the president. He speculates that OLC may have taken too seriously the rhetoric of independence, to the detriment of what Posner says is OLC's true role: "Keeper of the Presidential Fig Leaf." Thus, to Posner the best legal interpretation of "hostilities" or "torture" is irrelevant. If OLC wouldn't provide the desired fig leaf of support, the president was free to look to any government lawyer who would. Simply to...

Gitmo At Sea

A few weeks ago, during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the nomination of Vice Admiral William McRaven to run the Joint Special Operations Command, Senator Lindsey Graham put forth a hypothetical. " If you caught someone tomorrow in Yemen, Somalia -- you name the theater outside of Afghanistan -- where would you detain that person?" Graham asked. McRaven responded that in many cases, "regarding individuals covered under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, we will put them on a naval vessel, and we will hold them until we can either get a case to prosecute them in a U.S. court." McRaven didn't answer Graham's question about how long someone could be held, but he did say that if they "could not be prosecuted" or transferred to a civilian country, they could be released. The exchange highlighted the difficulty the administration faces as it remains rhetorically committed to closing Gitmo even as Congress has cut off all avenues of doing so. Yesterday, we learned...

Fallout

Against the perp-walk. Cultural fabric . Mutts are all the rage . Is Hezbollah in trouble ?

Racebending In Hollywood

It happens alot, whether it's Angelina Jolie playing the multiracial Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart , Tom Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises , or nearly the entire cast of The Last Airbender. With some exceptions, nontraditional casting in Hollywood is almost entirely a one way street, with white actors frequently filling roles meant for nonwhites, and while nonwhites are unable to do the same. In geek circles particularly, cries of "political correctness" proliferate whenever a nonwhite actor fills a role that was traditionally white, as when Idris Elba was cast as a Norse god in Thor . "Racebending" is a term that I believe originated with M. Night Shymalan 's decision to hand the lead roles in Airbender , an Asian themed mythical fantasy, over to mostly white leads. Arturo R. García looks at the latest example, in which Ben Affleck has decided to cast himself in a role based on Latino former CIA agent Antonio Mendez . Here's a graph from the UCLA Chicano Studies Research...

Breaking: Jews Still Pretty Liberal

My post at Greg 's place on Gallup's latest survey of American Jewish voters, showing that Obama 's Israel speech was "not a Watershed in Jewish Views." Republicans have been pushing this meme hard with a series of distortions Greg has been knocking down. First there was the bogus story that Israeli American billionaire Haim Saban had “broken” with Obama, despite having never donated to him in the first place. Saban actually stuck up for Obama against right-wing distortions of his position on Israel. Then there was the cooked up Washington Times story reporting that the Obama administration’s supposed “bullying” of Israel had been revealed on a recent conference call, which people on the call claimed was false. Aside from attempting to push the “Jews are abandoning Obama” storyline, the purpose of these stories is to strengthen Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ’s hand politically as he avoids making any effort to reconcile the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even has he offers...

Selectively Prosecuting Leaks, Ctd

Glenn Greenwald makes a cheeky point about U.S. officials leaking their conclusion that Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad was murdered by Pakistani intelligence because of his reporting on links between the ISI and extremists, a revelation which may inflame tensions between Pakistan and the U.S., a relationship that is already strained: If any leak warrants a criminal investigation, it's one from high-level officials deliberately jeopardizing the nation's relationship with such a strategically important ally. Will there be a Grand Jury convened to uncover the identity of the two high-level unauthorized leakers, or are such investigations only for low-level officials who disclose information to the citizenry that embarrasses the U.S. Government by exposing serious wrongdoing on the part of its officials? Is the Obama war on whistleblowers devoted, as his defenders insist, to safeguarding the sanctity of vital national security secrets, or is it a campaign of intimidation to deter the...

Glenn Carle On Interrogation

Scott Horton interviews former CIA interrogator Glenn Carle , who has become a high profile critic of the Bush administration's torturous interrogation program. Carle discusses the interrogation of "CAPTUS," an al Qaeda associate who was put through extraordinary rendition after officials decided he simply wasn't talking enough: “Enhanced” techniques make it more difficult to ascertain when a detainee had answered truthfully. The techniques increased the detainee’s resentment, confusion, and incentive to lie. Conducting a sound interrogation is remarkably similar to conducting a good human intelligence operation: it must be based upon a rapport between officer and detainee. Successful interrogation takes understanding of the detainee’s motivations, hopes, and fears, and then interaction with the detainee as a trusted interlocutor. Fear and pain do not obtain good intelligence; trust and a sound human relationship may. And I’d like to point out what is clear when one reads my book: I...

The Other Big Court Battle: State Immigration Laws

We've been very careful in keeping score when it comes to decisions on the Affordable Care Act, but when it comes to the other big court battle of our time, the constitutionality of restrictive state immigration laws, judges have been unanimous in striking them down: For the four federal judges who have temporarily blocked efforts of Georgia and three other states to begin apprehending illegal immigrants, it’s also a matter of upholding the law, pure and simple. The difference is, those four judges, in four courts, in four states, all invoked the principle that the federal government alone has the power to make immigration law, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis. That federal power includes not just writing the laws but determining how they will be enforced. “The lower courts have been unanimous and emphatic in throwing out state enforcement schemes,” said Erwin Chemerinsky , a professor of constitutional and immigration law at the University of California at Irvine...

Fallout

Congratulations to Cory Maye and Radley Balko . Spencer Ackerman profiles former CIA interrogator Glenn Carle . Marcy Wheeler imagines how the investigation of Gul Rahman's death might go beyond his interrogators. Sam Alito is no Sandra Day O'Connor .

Yeah, About That Whole State Mandate Thing

One of the parts of Judge Jeffrey Sutton 's opinion upholding the constitutionality of the individual mandate that I think hasn't gotten enough attention is his dig at the idea that states, under some kind of incoherent, muddled Tenth Amendment reasoning, would be able to mandate purchases of health insurance even though the Federal government can't: How, moreover, would an action/inaction line work with respect to individuals living in States that already mandate the purchase of medical insurance or States that conceivably might do so in the future if the mandate is invalidated? One of the central premises of the claimants’ argument is that, under the Framers’ design, the regulation of health care and health insurance is primarily, if not exclusively, a prerogative of the States. That is why the claimants presumably believe that, when the States exercise this power, they have broad discretion to try out different ways to regulate health care. And that is why the claimants apparently...

Sex Selective Abortion, Ctd

Mara Hvistendahl , the author of the book on sex-selective abortion Ross Douthat relied upon for his argument that the "liberal West’s current vision of human freedom bears responsibility for 160 million (and counting) missing girls," argues that Douthat has it wrong. Abortion is part of the story of how sex selection became rampant in Asia. But this is because abortion was introduced to much of the continent -- with a great deal of Western pressure -- as a method of population control, not as a woman's right. Abortion rates soared in countries like Vietnam, South Korea and China as women were forced or strongly encouraged to abort. That dark history of abusing women's bodies has fed into the prevalence of sex-selective abortions today. This is what I was trying to get at yesterday. International access to abortion is in part a legacy of a time when the U.S. was worried about overpopulation detracting from the fight against communism, not a focus on women's rights. Douthat responds to...

Okay, We Get It, Republicans Like Cuomo

The Republican lovefest surrounding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is getting comical. From Matthew Continetti : Something else we know: I can’t think of a savvier Democrat in the country than New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The man swings from success to success. He passed a major budget deal that cuts spending and reforms Medicaid without new taxes . He shepherded a huge gay rights victory. And now he's looking to open New York to hydraulic fracturing, making him a supply-sider on energy policy What’s more, Cuomo is likely to benefit from two pro-GOP cycles (2010 and 2012) that deprive the Democrats of fresh talent. Something similar happened to the GOP in 2006 and 2008, which is one reason Republican party regulars are so unenthusiastic about their 2012 presidential options. I’m scratching my head, trying to come up with other recently elected or nationally prominent Democrats who’ve demonstrated the political skill of Andrew Cuomo. The only one I can think of is education secretary...

We Don't Have To Like Them, But We Have To Learn To Live With Them

Andrew McCarthy is claiming that the news that the Obama administration is establishing contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood as proof that he is secretly a part of their plan to establish a global caliphate (a plan in which killing Osama bin Laden is a key step !) While Karl Rove , while not ready to declare Obama an honorary Muslim Brother, nevertheless claims that engagement makes the U.S. "look weak," a description that presumably does not apply to Rove's former boss when he also communicated with the Brotherhood. Matt Duss points out the obvious--while they're hardly a liberalizing force in Egypt, as long as they play a part in Egypt's emerging democracy there really aren't any other options: It’s quite true that Islamist parties base much of their appeal on hostility to the United States. But it’s worth considering that decades of refusing to recognize them have not weakened Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia and have instead left them as the best-organized political organizations in...

No Such Thing As "Accidental" Rape

I find this post from my colleague Robert Kuttner , in which he posits this theory of what might have happened in the hotel room of former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn bizarre: There’s a knock on the door, a young woman enters. Strauss-Kahn expecting his hooker du jour to emerge naked from his toilette, and despite her protests he doesn’t believe that she’s not there to service him . This could be the parsimonious explanation for otherwise almost inexplicable behavior. On the other hand, image the defense trying to use it in his trial. “You see, your honor, my client was expecting a prostitute and didn’t believe it was just the housekeeper.” One other detail that calls Strauss-Kahn’s judgment into question: McCormick’s and Schmicks? Really? This place, suggested by a friend for a meeting, was the site of my only mediocre and overpriced meal in New York. And he’s supposed to be the ultimate French cosmopolitan? Maybe this is even exculpatory. A sophisticated diner confusing a chain...

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