Tag Archives: serwer

Did Obama and Holder screw up?

supreme court

So, the cornerstone of Obama’s first three years in office is the Affordability Care Act. It now looks as if the whole thing may go up in flames. Of course, reading the Supreme Court is like trying to read tea leaves in the middle of a windstorm. We really don’t know how many of the justices are going to vote. It looks as if it comes down to Justice Kennedy, who has been the swing vote since Alito was nominated by President Bush. By many accounts, the Solicitor General had a really bad day. So, my question is whether he is, after all, the best guy to argue the case. Don’t we need to have somebody. or should we have somebody. who doesn’t have bad days? Shouldn’t we have had some superstar?

From Mother Jones:

Virtually everyone agrees that today’s arguments before the Supreme Court were a disaster for the Obama administration. Adam Serwer sums up the reason:

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. should be grateful to the Supreme Court for refusing to allow cameras in the courtroom, because his defense of Obamacare on Tuesday may go down as one of the most spectacular flameouts in the history of the court.

Stepping up to the podium, Verrilli stammered as he began his argument. He coughed, he cleared his throat, he took a drink of water. And that was before he even finished the first part of his argument. Sounding less like a world-class lawyer and more like a teenager giving an oral presentation for the first time, Verrilli delivered a rambling, apprehensive legal defense of liberalism’s biggest domestic accomplishment since the 1960s—and one that may well have doubled as its eulogy.

This is just bizarre. Verrilli is an experienced guy. He’s been involved in loads of Supreme Court cases and has personally argued more than a dozen. So what on earth happened? So far, I haven’t seen anyone even take a stab at trying to figure it out. How could Verrilli possibly be unprepared for the questions he got, given that the conservative arguments against Obamacare have been extremely public and obvious for well over a year? Everyone in the world knew what to expect. Everyone except Verrilli, apparently.

This is just mind boggling.

Finally, I can’t stand liberals who can’t defend liberalism. It makes me want to vomit. Liberalism is all about giving people opportunities to get ahead. It you fumble those opportunities, then you fail. Whether it is a public school system which gives inner-city kids (blacks and whites… everybody) an opportunity at a better life or universal healthcare, which covers everybody. It is highly frustrating that this guy couldn’t articulate that.

When is torture not torture?

Glenn has spent a couple of days talking about a study from Harvard’s Kennedy School. Glenn ended with the NYT editor basically stating that they were intellectually dishonest. At least that’s how I read the statement. (I’ll have more to say about this later. I blockquoted everything that Glenn wrote to avoid confusion.) Here’s what Glenn said:

In response to the Harvard study documenting how newspapers labeled waterboarding as “torture” for almost 100 years until the Bush administration told them not to, The New York Times issued a statement justifying this behavior on the ground that it did not want to take sides in the debate.  Andrew SullivanGreg Sargent and Adam Serwer all pointed out that “taking a side” is precisely what the NYT did:  by dutifully complying with the Bush script and ceasing to use the term (replacing it with cleansing euphemisms), it endorsed the demonstrably false proposition that waterboarding was something other than torture.  Yesterday, the NYT‘s own Brian Stelter examined this controversy and included a justifying quote from the paper’s Executive Editor, Bill Keller, that is one of the more demented and reprehensible statements I’ve seen from a high-level media executive in some time (h/t Jay Rosen):

Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, said the newspaper has written so much about the issue of water-boarding that “I think this Kennedy School study — by focusing on whether we have embraced the politically correct term of art in our news stories — is somewhat misleading and tendentious.”

Whether an interrogation technique constitutes “torture” is what determines whether it is prohibited by long-standing international treaties, subject to mandatory prosecution, criminalized under American law, and scorned by all civilized people as one of the few remaining absolute taboos.  But to The New York Times‘ Executive Editor, the demand that torture be so described, and the complaint that the NYT ceased using the term the minute the Bush administration commanded it to, is just tendentious political correctness: nothing more than trivial semantic fixations on a “term of art” by effete leftists.  Rather obviously, it is the NYT itself which is guilty of extreme “political correctness” by referring to torture not as “torture” but with cleansing, normalizing, obfuscating euphemisms such as “the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks” and “intense interrogations.”  Intense.  As Rosen puts it:  “So, Bill Keller, ‘the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks’ is plainspeak and ‘torture’ is PC?  Got it.

Worse, to justify his paper’s conduct, Keller adds “that defenders of the practice of water-boarding, ‘including senior officials of the Bush administration,’ insisted that it did not constitute torture.”  Kudos to Keller for admitting who dictates what his newspaper says and does not say (redolent of how Bush’s summoning of NYT officials to the Oval Office caused the paper to refrain from reporting his illegal NSA program for a full year until after Bush was safely re-elected).  Senior Bush officials said it wasn’t torture; therefore, we had to stop telling our readers that it is.

Why is Lou Dobbs still on the air?

I have thought for over three or four years Lou Dobbs has been over the top. He is in another zone of crazy when he talks about immigration, which is about every other show. Well, the other night, he had to talk about this dustup over whether Obama was born in Hawai’i or not.

From Polical Animal:

Adam Serwer noted yesterday that the whole Birther movement “is probably hurting CNN more than it’s hurting the GOP.” That’s a very persuasive point. The fact that the Republican base has more than its share of nuts is well established, but CNN wants to be taken seriously, and Lou Dobbs’ strange obsession with nonsense makes that difficult.

According to a Media Bistro report today, CNN President Jon Klein contacted some “Lou Dobbs Tonight” staffers yesterday to explain that the Birther story is baseless. Klein reminded the staffers that he asked CNN researchers to investigate the matter, and found that the allegations are baseless. “It seems this story is dead,” Klein said in his email, “because anyone who still is not convinced doesn’t really have a legitimate beef.”

But Dobbs is still Dobbs, and the legitimacy of a story has no bearing on what he puts on the air.

Specifically, Klein told the show’s staffers that Dobbs “should be sure” to explain to CNN viewers that the Hawaii Health Department went paperless in 2001, but the official record of Obama’s birth is now an official electronic record, just as all birth records in Hawaii are for those born after 1908. Continue reading Why is Lou Dobbs still on the air?