Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kagan's Harvard Connections

This week I spent some time trying to wrap my head around the Harvard contribution to the mess this country is in. The Harvard connections in government are never-ending, and, with a Harvard guy sitting in the president's seat, the Harvard connections of his latest Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, deserve some extra scrutiny. The more you look at them, though, the more disturbing the picture becomes.
This apparent Obama nominee is unusual. She's never been a prosecutor or attorney general, or defense attorney or Legal Aid litigator or sitting judge. In fact, she's never been a lawyer in a trial....never.
What has she been, then?
For one thing, she was a Harvard professor when Larry Summers, an Obama economic advisor who was Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, "arrived from his work at Treasury . . . to deregulate banks and derivatives to get the gambling moving. . . ."
Oh, that.
It was the deregulation of financial derivatives that brought the banking system to its knees. The leading cause of the credit crisis was widespread uncertainty over insurance giant AIG’s losses speculating in credit default swaps (CDS), a kind of derivative bet that particular issuers won’t default on their bond obligations. Because AIG was part of an enormous and poorly-understood web of CDS bets and counter-bets among the world’s largest banks, investment funds, and insurance companies, when AIG collapsed, many of these firms worried they too might soon be bankrupt. Only a massive $180 billion government-funded bailout of AIG prevented the system from imploding.
This could have been avoided if we had not deregulated financial derivatives.
Summers was quite a pal to Kagan. When he served as Harvard president from 2001 to 2006, Kagan "was made a full professor, then Summers tapped her to be the Dean of Harvard Law."
Her pet peeve there was to keep the American military and ROTC off campus because she disputes the "don't ask, don't tell" provisions put in place by Clinton. In 2008, Kagan got money as an advisor to Goldman Sachs global investment house. Meanwhile, she made Cass Sunstein, who is now an advisor to Obama too, a full professor at Harvard. He has suggested the concept of marriage be discontinued. He also has argued that dogs and cats should have "standing" to sue in court.
Oh, him.

Sunstein may love animals, but babies are another story. According to Sunstein, "A restriction on access to abortion turns women's reproductive capacities into something to be used by fetuses." Sunstein also argued that cloning humans is no problem "because human embryos, which develop into a baby, are 'only a handful of cells.'"

An unborn child relying on its mother for nuturance may be a horrifying proposition to Sunstein, but for Kagan, that unborn child is more likely to be a pawn in a political power struggle, or perhaps a stepping stone in a political career. Addressing the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kagan admitted that:
as a Clinton lawyer in 1997, she fraudulently revised an official medical opinion by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The medical society was going to publicly reveal that "its panel of experts found no circumstances in which the (partial birth abortion) procedure was the only option for saving the life of the woman."
In a secret internal memo, she wrote that "This, of course, would be a disaster[.]"

Kagan therefore secretly revised the language so the final statement in 1997 claimed that the partial-birth abortion "may be the best and most appropriate procedure in particular circumstances to save the life or preserve the health of the woman."

That was a pernicious lie. The medical panel originally said that was false. Kagan substituted her own judgment for a medical consensus.
Kagan defended herself. "What I did," she said, was to advance the policy of the president [Clinton]." The "ACOG couldn't identify any circumstances in which the procedure was the only one that could be used in a given case but [it] could find situations in which it was least riskiest [sic] procedure for women."

Kagan's advancement of Clinton's "presidential policy" accomplished something else, too. As pointed out by Pundette:
Thanks in great part to Kagan’s apparent fabrication, all state laws banning partial birth abortions were struck down in 2000. No one knows how many children might be alive now if it weren’t for Kagan’s alleged falsification. Accurate data on partial birth abortions is hard to come by; there are many reasons why a doctor might not want to own up to performing this diabolical “procedure.” But low estimates put the number of victims at somewhere between 650 and 2200 babies terminated annually before the ban. I don’t know how many were killed in states that had a ban in place before the 2000 decision. But would it be going too far to say, if these charges are true, Kagan lied, babies died?
There's more, much more. But this post is getting too long.

Bottom line: We cannot afford to have this woman in the Supreme Court.
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  1. I'm fascinated by Sunstein's desire to give legal standing to dogs and cats. Off the top of my head I can think of two reasons for doing this that would appeal to him. First, the main point is to give the animal's lawyers a chance to reap enormous sums in fees. Second, to fill the legal arena with many million more nonrational agents would guarantee much more failure in an already overburdened system.

  2. I can't believe she will (and she will) be confirmed.

  3. Chris M - Yes, and here is another: If animals are given standing in court, hunters will soon be deprived of their weapons. Goodbye Second Amendment.

    Trestin - I am broken-hearted.