Monday, May 10, 2010

Glenn Greenwald V. Obama/Kagan cont...

Here is the latest from the pages of GG blog on the evils of the Obama Administration.

It's anything but surprising that President Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Nothing is a better fit for this White House than a blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration's lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority.

That's right. A blank slate. Really? Dean at Harvard Law School, now Solicitor General of the US. What GG would say if he was the honest sort, that Ms. Kagan is a blank slate because she has not been a judge. That would be fair and true. But that little lack of caveat is this guys MO. It is sneaky smear tactics. Not an out and out lie, just not the complete truth, whereas to make the broad point he is making, the whole truth is required, to be credible. And he also leaves out that she is not a blank slate to Obama, who is tasked alone by the Constitution to appoint SCOTUS nominees, and made a great pick in Sonia Sotomayor, and even liberal ideologues agree.

And the knock of Kagan "defending" every one Obama's assertions of any policy is especially dishonest coming from a trained attorney, who knows full well that a SG (solicitor general) has the duty to do exactly that. She does not decide the policy, she defends it as a defense attorney would defend his client no matter his/her personal opinion on guilt or innocence. This is lawyering 101.

It's even less surprising that Obama would not want to choose someone like Diane Wood. If you were Barack Obama, would you want someone on the Supreme Court who has bravely insisted on the need for Constitutional limits on executive authority, resolutely condemned the use of Terrorism fear-mongering for greater government power, explicitly argued against military commissions and indefinite detention, repeatedly applied the progressive approach to interpreting the Constitution on a wide array of issues, insisted upon the need for robust transparency and checks and balances, and demonstrated a willingness to defy institutional orthodoxies even when doing so is unpopular? Of course you wouldn't. Why would you want someone on the Court who has expressed serious Constitutional and legal doubts about your core policies?

And he continues his jihad that Obama is just another Bush, which is so laughable, it hardly warrants comment. Diane Wood, I think would have made a good liberal SCOTUS, but other than Kagan not having judicial decisions to study her judicial philosophy, he has nothing else of value to claim Kagan would not be as good on civil liberties. Mr. GG is the master at conflation with his Obama like Bush campaign. He takes powers that have long been held by presidents of both parties, that Bush exceeded with abandon and criminality, and since Obama wants to maintain the status quo before Bush == of powers legal if constrained by practice, and equates Obama is just like Bush. It is a lie. GG hates Executive Power of all kinds, it seems to me, in the zeal of a rabid ideological libertarian, but calls himself "progressive", to suggest his motives are pure and in the mainstream. Yet another lie.

UPDATE - Seems there is a record from Ms Kagan on zealous Executive Powers under GWB

"Hidden in plain sight, though, is a letter Kagan signed that neither liberals nor conservatives have commented on, though it is part of the public record.

"In a 2005 letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, Kagan and three other deans of major American law schools, wrote to oppose legislation proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to strip the courts of the power to review the detention practices, treatment and adjudications of guilt and punishment for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

" 'To put this most pointedly,' the letter said, 'were the Graham amendment to become law, a person suspected of being a member of al-Qaeda could be arrested, transferred to Guantanamo, detained indefinitely ... subjected to inhumane treatment, tried before a military commission and sentenced to death without any express authorization from Congress and without review by any independent federal court. The American form of government was established precisely to prevent this kind of unreviewable exercise of power over the lives of individuals.'

" 'When dictatorships have passed' similar laws, said the deans, 'our government has rightly challenged such acts as fundamentally lawless. The same standard should apply to our own government.' "


  1. I've been watching the threads at Balloon Juice on al-Awlaki, and I just thought I'd avoid the flame war and come over here to tell you that I appreciated your comments, particularly on the original thread yesterday. I am really not happy about Obama's entire stance on civil liberties and the war on terror, indeed, on this set of topics I agree with Greenwald that Obama is pretty much as bad as Bush (that doesn't make him as bad as Bush in general, however). But your nuanced position on the al-Awlaki situation made me think more extensively about it, and I generally agreed with your position. It's sad to see BJ devolve so frequently these days into flame wars between the "obots" and the "firebaggers", when I suspect most of the people who are flinging these epithets in either direction would find themselves more in agreement than not with their adversaries. With the decline of Obsidian Wings and the current sad state of Balloon Juice (traditionally my two favorite blogs), it's a good time to take a blog holiday. I hope you enjoy yours if you really go through with it.

  2. Thank You Don SinFalta for your nice comment, cheers.