Blogs > Cliopatria > My Experience as Grand Inquisitor Makes Me a Much More Tender and Gentle Person

Apr 16, 2010 9:29 pm


My Experience as Grand Inquisitor Makes Me a Much More Tender and Gentle Person



Elena Kagan is wonderful, a person of great spirit and social intelligence, and she would make a terrific Supreme Court justice. And what about her enthusiastic and uncritical participation in the national security state and its politically and socially restrictive culture of permanent war? Perhaps we can find a lesson in a historical comparison. Take it away, Huffington Post bloggers:

"As for critics of Kagan's nomination like Greenwald, who find her too cozy with national security absolutists, they should remember that Earl Warren himself oversaw the internment of Japanese Americans from California during World War II. Some constitutional scholars believe it was precisely because Warren had participated in such executive actions during wartime that he became even more devoted to protecting the rights of minorities. Perhaps Elena Kagan's experience crafting the Obama administration's wartime response to terrorists will help her draw a clearer line in protecting the constitutional rights of individual citizens against a natural security leviathan."

To personally supervise the mass internment of citizens -- well, obviously, it just makes you a more sensitive liberal.

And someone who argues as a government lawyer against the rights to free speech and free association has simply had a wonderful learning experience -- think about the fountain of gentleness that must inevitably flow from her cheerful service of the state security apparatus. She'll be so much more likely to protect individual rights, precisely because she's spent some time aggressing against them.

Just like the people who threw Japanese-Americans into camps, the foundation of decades of subsequent progress.

Waterboard an innocent person today! It'll be tough, but you'll feel a refreshing recommitment to progressive values when you're done.


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


Chris Bray - 4/27/2010

She can't answer.

If you can't tolerate criticism, can't be bothered to explain your arguments, and can't answer basic questions that seek to clarify what you believe, then you have no business participating in public discourse. Your dishonesty and cowardice disqualify you from the ranks of the credible.


Chris Bray - 4/27/2010

Again:

Your argument is that if we want to understand what kind of Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan might be, we can examine the comparable case of Earl Warren.

If you don't believe that Elena Kagan has done anything objectionable, with regard to civil liberties, prior to her possible nomination to the Supreme Court, then what is it that you mean to argue, here? Your own framework assumes that there are problems with her past. Fill in the blanks:

1.) Earl Warren aggressed against civil liberties,
2.) but nevertheless demonstrated considerable sensitivity to civil liberties as a Supreme Court justice, possibly because he was chagrined by his prior experience;
3.) therefore, despite the fact that Elena Kagan, like Earl Warren before her, did (blank) unfortunate thing,
4.) it is possible that she will demonstrate considerable sensitivity to civil liberties, possibly because she will be chagrined by the fact that she (blank).

Can you answer or can you not answer?


Chris Bray - 4/27/2010

I've asked a question about your argument and your intent, and you've evaded it -- going out in a storm on insults and trying to hide behind a cloud of smoke about credentials. You are a burst of empty noise and flop sweat.

Elena Kagan's pre-nomination behavior is comparable to Earl Warren's pre-nomination behavior because of (ringing silence).

Fraud.


Linda Monk - 4/27/2010

Never said you had a "tiny brain" (using quotes means that you are saying it is a direct quote, remember?). I said you focus on insults, which means your brain is dominated by your amygdala, not that it is small. Couldn't find any evidence on this web site of your credentials; all it said was that Clio was done by some grad students. Feel free to share in that regard. Given that you can't seem to interpret metaphor ("garbage" can include food, you know; see "Animal House") I'm going to guess that you have Aspie's. Good luck and have a nice life, Tar Baby.


Chris Bray - 4/26/2010

"That's how you influence opinion, not just hurl garbage in food fights."

I would just like to add that who throws garbage in a food fight? I would think that people in a food fight would generally throw food.

You're taking writing lessons from Thomas Friedman?


Chris Bray - 4/26/2010

You are an extraordinary case.

Your opening comment made sport with my name and mocked me as an "alleged" historian; your next comment referred to my "tiny brain." And now you post this amazing sentence: "Too bad you can't make arguments without being surly." Yeah, it's too bad when people can't do that.

Nothing you say coheres -- you don't seem to notice from moment to moment what you've just said. You give the impression of a set of reflexes without a governing consciousness.

Which brings us to the important point, and I'm blown away by how poorly you've managed to argue your case. "Be very careful not to mix categories when you compare and contrast," says the person who wrote this paragraph:

"As for critics of Kagan's nomination like Greenwald, who find her too cozy with national security absolutists, they should remember that Earl Warren himself oversaw the internment of Japanese Americans from California during World War II. Some constitutional scholars believe it was precisely because Warren had participated in such executive actions during wartime that he became even more devoted to protecting the rights of minorities. Perhaps Elena Kagan's experience crafting the Obama administration's wartime response to terrorists will help her draw a clearer line in protecting the constitutional rights of individual citizens against a natural security leviathan."

As Elena Kagan has not participated in the mass internment of U.S. citizens, you've just, wait for it, mixed categories when you compared and contrasted.

You could almost expect someone who swerves around in that kind of drunken rhetorical circle to decry "garbage throwing" in the very same comment in which she tells her opponent he has a tiny brain. Try to notice how each sentence fits with the other ones -- it'll help you to discover what you think.

Now. Your argument is that if we want to understand what kind of Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan might be, we can examine the comparable case of Earl Warren.

If you don't believe that Elena Kagan has done anything objectionable, with regard to civil liberties, prior to her possible nomination to the Supreme Court, then what is it that you mean to argue, here? Your own framework assumes that there are problems with her past. Fill in the blanks:

1.) Earl Warren aggressed against civil liberties,
2.) but nevertheless demonstrated considerable sensitivity to civil liberties as a Supreme Court justice, possibly because he was chagrined by his prior experience;
3.) therefore, despite the fact that Elena Kagan, like Earl Warren before her, did (blank) unfortunate thing,
4.) it is possible that she will demonstrate considerable sensitivity to civil liberties, possibly because she will be chagrined by the fact that she (blank).

If you can't fill in those blanks -- if you don't actually mean to say that pre-nomination Earl Warren and pre-nomination Elena Kagan are comparable cases -- then the paragraph that we're arguing over doesn't even begin to make sense. It's just a pile of mush. We're discussing nothing.

Bundle of reflexes. No governing consciousness. The structure of your own argument damns the person you wish to defend.

Fill in the blanks or give it up.


Linda Monk - 4/26/2010

Torture was the subject of my 2009 piece, and you know it. Be very careful not to mix categories when you compare and contrast. Too bad you can't make arguments without being surly.


Chris Bray - 4/26/2010

Torture is not the only issue at hand, and you know it.


Linda Monk - 4/26/2010

Elena Kagan has never supported torture or authorized torture, and if you had a brain that could get beyond insults you would realize that. Nothing I wrote in 2009 contradicts that. The main point I made at HuffPo, that the next SCT nominee has to marshall at least one conservative vote, as Stevens did, was adopted by GG in his analysis of Diane Wood. That's how you influence opinion, not just hurl garbage in food fights.


Chris Bray - 4/26/2010

It beats me why I keep using "histories" instead of "history's."


Chris Bray - 4/26/2010

The Washington Post
May 1, 2009 Friday
Regional Edition

Not 'Scapegoating,' Simply Justice
SECTION: EDITORIAL COPY; Pg. A20

It is dismaying that a man of David S. Broder's wisdom and integrity would imply that a president is above the law ["Stop Scapegoating," op-ed, April 26]. We did not accept that argument for Richard Nixon, and neither should we for George W. Bush or Barack Obama. The main job description of the president is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." He does not have the discretion to turn his back on massive violations of the law.

The Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture are, under the Constitution, "the supreme law of the land" and require signatories to prosecute those who commit torture. Ronald Reagan endorsed the U.N. convention against torture enthusiastically, and our highest military officers support those standards. Lawyers, too, take an oath to "defend the Constitution of the United States" in their government service as well as in their admission to the bar. If anyone should be accountable for upholding legal standards, it is the lawyers in the Justice Department who are sworn to enforce the law, not just for their boss the president but for the American people, whom they represent. Those torture memos were not mere intellectual debates by academics; they were legal opinions rendered by practicing lawyers who are subject to the standards of the profession. It is just as illegal to advise someone to commit an unlawful act as it is to commit one.

The real scapegoats in this ugly scenario are soldiers such as then-Pvt. Lynndie R. England, who went to prison in 2005 for her role in the Abu Ghraib scandal, although, according to her lawyer, she suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome resulting in a below-average IQ. Now it is clear that Abu Ghraib was the predictable result, as some military lawyers warned at the time, of loosening standards for torture at Guantanamo. So why shouldn't lawyers suffer the same consequences as the soldiers they imperil?

LINDA R. MONK
Alexandria

---

Linda Monk in 2009, talking about Bush administration lawyers: We have to hold government lawyers responsible for what they did in the service of the national security state!

Linda Monk in 2010, talking about an Obama administration lawyer: It's shocking and outrageous to say that we should hold government lawyers responsible for what they did in the service of the national security state -- just think how their prior experiences might make them more sensitive to later abuses!

Hack, hack, hack, hack, hack. What a joke.


Chris Bray - 4/26/2010

See also Glenn Greenwald's response to Linda Monk here.


Chris Bray - 4/26/2010

And it's not that I want to throw out Earl Warren's landmark civil liberties rulings because of his prior aggression against civil liberties -- it's that I don't want to throw out his prior aggression against civil liberties because of his landmark civil liberties rulings. See how that works? Histories actors are rarely unidimensional, after all.


Chris Bray - 4/26/2010

Jesus, I should have known how smart this comment would be when I saw that it started with the fresh and clever move of using my last name to say that I was "braying." No one's ever thought of that before -- you must have quite an original mind.

Histories heroes are rarely unidimensional -- I'm sold. John Yoo for the Supreme Court! Think how respectful he'll be of minority rights.

Glenn Greenwald offered detailed and careful criticism of Elena Kagan's political background, trying to show what she believes by examining what she has done. You responded by not responding -- you punted. Oh, but other people have done bad things too, and then later they did good things, because they regretted the bad things is not an argument -- it's lazy and pathetic partisan hackery, and I'm embarrassed for you.

Whatever you want to go back in time and turn your argument into, the argument that you wrote says that you can't use Elena Kagan's past to judge her beliefs or to consider what she might do in the future, because she might feel badly about having done bad things and so turn around and do good things instead.

Why on earth, if anyone were dumb enough to buy that garbage, would it not apply to everyone? You could swap out Kagan's name and swap in David Addington's or Jay Bybee's, and the point would be identical, and identically valid: you can't use their past to judge them, because they might regret it, and the regret might make them turn really nice and stuff.

Indescribably stupid.


Linda Monk - 4/25/2010

Interesting that Chris Bray, as an alleged historian, wants to throw out Earl Warren's landmark civil liberties rulings because of his involvement as California governor in Japanese American internment in WWII. History's heroes are rarely unidimensional: First Amendment stalwart Hugo Black was a former member of the Klan; Thurgood Marshall informed to J. Edgar Hoover about alleged Communists in the civil rights movement. That I compared Elena Kagan to Earl Warren as a possible Supreme Court nominee was meant to enlarge the historical context of her nomination, which a true historian should have understood. Idealogical purity never makes for accurate history.