Adam Serwer

Whole Foods: Sorry For Acknowledging Ramadan

The Village Voice obtains a set of internal e-mails from Whole Foods that finds the company backing down on its Ramadan-related promotion because it made some folks mad: Saffron Road's halal items are still for sale in Whole Foods. Yet partners at the stores are directed to tell customers: "Whole Foods Market is not promoting Ramadan, but rather featuring the great halal offerings our shoppers can find in our stores during this special time." Despite a statement from the Anti-Defamation League that Whole Foods and its Ramadan promotion aren't vaguely anti-Semitic, the association between a holiday that represents a time of patience, humility and charity for Muslims across the world and Jihadist terrorism is apparently so strong with a small, vocal minority that Whole Foods has capitulated to these people -- who surely can't represent the chain's larger demographic -- and buried its former Ramadan promotions as if they were a dirty secret. I'm sure all the folks who complain about the...

Bad Arguments Against Interracial Dating

Erin Gloria Ryan responds to a silly op-ed from Ralph Richard Banks suggesting black women date men of different races by rehashing some campus liberal sociology that implicitly embraces certain values I'm guessing she doesn't actually buy into: His argument might make sense on one level; yes, if black women decided to respond to a limited dating pool by dating outside of their race more often, more of them might get married, but, like many ideas brewed by academics, there's little likelihood that this could be implemented in a practical way. This isn't economic policy; love isn't a logical decision; if you told me that men with blue eyes were much less likely to produce offspring who get cancer than men with brown eyes, I wouldn't be able to logic my way out of preferring the latter. A short girl who loves dating tall men won't suddenly like short guys because someone tells her that the physics of sex with a man close to your height can make the act more fun for all involved parties...

Chris Christe Doubles Down on "Shariah Crazies" Remark

Jeffrey Goldberg talks to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who following his appointment of a Muslim judge became a target of anti-Muslim conservatives he dismissed as "sharia crazies," saying "this sharia law business is crap." “I think al-Qaeda would like it to be a clash of civilizations. They want it to be everybody versus everybody. They are a terrorist movement that believes the only way to achieve their ends is through violence, and they don’t discriminate, they kill Muslims who disagree with them. They certainly didn’t worry about whether there were any Muslims in the towers on 9/11.” I asked him if he thought his denunciation of the “crazies” would hurt his standing in the Republican Party. “What happened was motivated by ignorance and political opportunism, but I think it’s actually bad politics, because most thinking and voting Americans think that no one should be excluded from office because of their religion,” he said. “A deep faith in God is part of what makes...

Haunted By A Past Of Common Decency

Benjy Sarlin reports on Texas Governor Rick Perry's evolution from an immigration moderate (liberal by today's standards) who signed a state DREAM Act and opposed the E-Verify employment verification system to a border hawk who supported Arizona-style restrictionist legislation in his own state. As Texas' longest serving governor, Perry has had the unenviable job of balancing his states' Latino population, business community, and border hawks over one of the most tumultuous decades for immigration policy in recent memory. But while his careful triangulation has kept him in office through three elections and a bruising primary in 2010, it's also left a trail of resentment on all sides that could threaten his quest for the presidential nomination. On the right, anti-immigration conservatives have swung the GOP towards a hardline position, undoing a years-long effort by Perry's predecessor, George Bush, to bring Latino voters into the Republican fold. Once relatively uncontroversial...

Tortured? Want To Sue? That's "Lawfare."

Following last Friday's post on the two separate torture civil cases former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is facing, a third case involving two more American citizens working for an Iraqi contractor who claim they were tortured while detained in Iraq was given the go-ahead by a federal judge. That makes three cases in which Americans -- not foreigners, who conservatives erroneously argue aren't entitled to constitutional protections -- are suing former Bush officials over the torture policies approved by the previous administration. Two of the three have been allowed to go forward, the third, filed by Jose Padilla, who was convicted of terrorism conspiracy charges was dismissed by a judge and is being appealed by the ACLU. As Josh Gerstein reports , Rumsfeld's attorneys continue to argue that Americans tortured by their own government aren't entitled to a remedy unless Congress explicitly says so: "Today’s decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is a blow to the U.S...

Bachmann's Views On Slavery Are Worse Than You Thought

Months ago, there was a small controversy over Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann signing a pledge put forth by social conservatives in Iowa that stated "black child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA's first African American President." However well intended, many people were understandably offended by the implication that black people were better off as property. But this isn't the first time Bachmann has put forth a perspective on slavery that is at odds with the historical record -- previously she "suggested that the Founding Fathers "worked tirelessly" to end slavery, before citing John Quincy Adams as an example (he was a child at the time of America's founding). Ryan Lizza's profile of Bachmann reveals that Bachmann's odd perspective on slavery isn't a series of gaffes, but rather "a world view." Lizza explains that Bachmann...

Westen's Indictment

Drew Westen's piece yesterday highlighting Obama's failure to tell an effective "story" that would have led to Congress laying down and embracing a more progressive agenda is probably a cathartic read for liberals disappointed with Obama. It does, however, have quite a few problems -- namely the notion that "the public was desperate for a leader who would speak with confidence, and they were ready to follow wherever the president led." I mean hardly -- mostly the country was relieved that Bush was no longer in office. But it doesn't actually matter what the public wanted. What mattered was what Congress was willing to pass. And Congress was willing to pass a watered-down stimulus. I'll say that I largely share Westen's critique that Obama bears a large degree of responsibility for failing to adequately address the country's economic problems. I think Obama should have started with a larger opening bid, and failing that, should have pushed hard for a second stimulus. The administration...

Programming Note

I'm traveling today, so posting will be a bit sporadic. Things will be back to normal tomorrow.

Fallout

We probably won't all be killed by apes. The story of black Mormons. How to respond to the Somalia famine. The Jerusalem Post apologizes for its Islamophobic post-Oslo editorial.

The Gotcha Question

Adam Winkler has an interesting post on the legal fight over the Affordable Care Act and the "gotcha" question the conservatives are likely to ask: What are the limits of the commerce clause if the mandate is constitutional? Some lawyers defending the mandate agree that there really aren’t many, if any, limits on Congress’s power under the existing case law. Even conservatives such as Charles Fried, Orin Kerr, and Robert Pushaw have argued that, under the doctrine as it stands, the mandate is constitutional. Indeed, the case law on the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the General Welfare Clause (relating to the tax power) all lean heavily in favor of upholding the individual mandate. But this, I wish to suggest, misses the question. The “gotcha” question. Whichever government lawyer is assigned to argue for the constitutionality of the mandate before the Justices is sure to do exactly what Malcolm Stewart and Drew Days did by emphasizing that precedent controls...

No Right Not To Be Tortured The Government Is Bound To Respect

Even if you're an American citizen, the government can detain you indefinitely and torture you, and there's nothing you can do about it. Cutting through the legalese, that's the gist of the argument lawyers for former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are arguing in two cases involving the indefinite detention and alleged abuse of two American citizens. One, Jose Padilla, who was convicted on terrorism charges, is well known. The other is a John Doe, a veteran and defense contractor who was detained in Iraq and subject to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. Both men are suing Rumsfeld and the government over their treatment. The cases aren't entirely the same, but they share enough of the basic legal issues that they're worth talking about together. Earlier this week, Judge James S. Gwin ruled that Doe's case could go forward. Doe was on a marine base in Iraq when he was detained and was housed with suspected insurgents who were supposedly encouraged to attack him -- sort of...

Things That Didn't Happen

This part of Andrew Sullivan's defense of Obama simply isn't true: On policy: ending the US torture regime ; prevention of a second Great Depression; enacting universal healthcare; taking the first serious steps toward reining in healthcare costs; two new female Supreme Court Justices; ending the gay ban in the military; ending the Iraq war; justifying his Afghan Surge by killing bin Laden and now disentangling with face saved; firming up alliances with India, Indonesia and Japan as counter-weights to China; bailing out the banks and auto companies without massive losses (and surging GM profits); advancing (slowly) balanced debt reduction without drastic cuts during the recession; and financial re-regulation. This did not happen. There is no law banning enhanced interrogations. There is an executive order that the next Republican president will reverse to as much fanfare from his base as Obama announcing the closure of Guantanamo. Absent explicit action from Congress, or a finding...

Every Rush Limbaugh Show Since 2009

Obama wants to take whitey's money . Obama wants to take whitey's money . Obama wants to take whitey's money . Obama wants to take whitey's money . Obama wants to take whitey's money . Obama wants to take whitey's money . Obama wants to take whitey's money . Obama wants to take whitey's money . Obama wants to take whitey's money . Obama wants to take whitey's money . Obama wants to take whitey's money . Obama wants to take whitey's money .

What Bush Did For The Conservative Movement

I want to address a separate claim from Kevin Drum's defense of Obama's effectiveness as a politician, specifically Drum's argument that "in two years Obama has done more to enact a liberal agenda than George Bush did for the conservative agenda in eight." Again, I don't think Bush was particularly effective. Wringing 60 votes for the unpopular Affordable Care Act from skittish liberals and preening centrists is, on balance, a much more impressive example of legislative politicking than say, getting tax cuts passed through reconciliation. But after an exchange with Jamison Foser on Twitter this morning, this particular part of Drum's claim seemed even more suspect to me than before. Drum writes the "story of the economy" this morning: 2001-2008: Republicans run economy into ditch. 2008: Obama elected. 2009-2011: Republicans respond by doing everything possible to prevent him from fixing things. 2012: Republicans use lousy economy as campaign cudgel against Obama. 2012: Republican...

Fallout

Apologies--I've been running around all day, so no fallout this evening. It'll be back tomorrow.

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