Shorter Andrew Sullivan: It would be criminal NOT to speculate about Elena Kagan’s “alleged lesbianism”

by matttbastard

Sully momentarily veers from his dogged quest to discover the truth about Trig Palin’s parentage to set his sights on an even more momentous issue of international importance: Breathlessly demanding that SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan come clean about her sexual orientation. Or, as Sully’s latest Murdoch Times column bluntly headlines, “Answer the lesbian question, Ms. Legal Eagle.”

FFS:

[Kagan] is unmarried, and apparently has no anecdotes of dates, no ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, no romantic interludes … nothing. In 4,500 words, we do not find out even where she lives or has lived or if she lives alone. (But we do know what her brothers do for a living — teaching). The far right has already identified her as a “lesbian homosexual”; and the gay blogosphere openly discussed her alleged lesbianism weeks ago.

But there is no confirmation of that anywhere and the White House reiterated last week that questions about sexual orientation “have no place” in judging a nominee (but her gender most certainly does). Quite how you defend this argument — from a president whose own criterion for nominees is a real experience of how law can affect ordinary people — is beyond me. It is also beyond most ordinary people out there.

1. Sully, baby, no matter how one feels about you and the vainly mercurial ‘of no party or clique’ passion play that defines your trademark rapid-fire, post-ideological preening, one could never, ever accuse you of being ‘ordinary’.

So don’t even try to project your latest singular obsession onto the vast, blank canvas that symbolizes your (mis)understanding of the great, collectively anonymous (and oh-so-noble!) unwashed you and your Serious™ ilk love to cite with blissfully ignorant impunity — you’re not fooling anyone.

2. This whole quest to uncover the sordid secrets of who (ALLEGED LESBIAN!) Elena Kagan does (or doesn’t) like to get freaky with is ridiculous — and, quite frankly, sexist.

Sully is Google-stalking someone to hunt down evidence of romantic/domestic minutia that might provide clues as to which way Kagan swings, all because her physical appearance and chosen lifestyle contradict sociatal norms.  IOW, the “lesbian question” is, as Jonathan Pitts-Wiley recently dubbed it, the “white version of being called uppity” (ie, ALLEGED LESBIAN ELENA KAGAN TOTALLY FITS THE STEREOTYPICAL IMAGE OF A DYKE). One would expect coverage of what is essentially an elite whisper campaign to be the traffic-boosting provenance of gossip outlets, not an Atlantic-affiliated political blog.

Elena Kagan isn’t some desperate, fame-seeking reality show contestant. She’s (most likely) the future next 9th SCOTUS justice  And, true to her own words, she should submit to a vigourous, extensive and transparent confirmation process* to help fill the serious chasms in her scant public record (not her dating record).

Going off on a demonstrative, tangential outing campaign is both an unnecessary digression from vital efforts to illuminate an all-too-opaque SCOTUS nominee and an all-too-familiar example of the sort of sexist speculation uppity women continually face.

*Which, though sure to be a (highly relative) ratings bonanza for CSPAN as it unfolds live and in real time on teh Twitterz, is totally NOT AT ALL LIKE A REALITY SHOW. Shaddap.

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Andrew Sullivan: “We cannot know hope until we end torture.”

by matttbastard

Even though I’m hardly his biggest fan (*cough*), I gotta give Andrew Sullivan props for his recent scorching takedown of a blithely banal WaPo op-ed by High Contrarian torture apologist (and former WaPo editorial page editor) Benjamin Wittes.

Sez Benji:

Detainees [currently held at Guantanamo] who pose a grave national security threat might be unprosecutable for a variety of reasons: because of deficiencies in the criminal law as it stood in 2001, because evidence against them would not stand up in court, because the government might not have enough evidence to convict or because it obtained key evidence under coercive conditions.

Sully unloads:

“Under coercive conditions”. Excuse me, but what does that mean in English? Try: Because they got intelligence from torturing people. Coercion means force. It means they forced “information” out of them. Not coax, trick, lure, force. That means the victims had no choice. And the only way in which human beings can seriously have no choice at all is by subjecting them to such severe mental and physical pain and suffering that they have no option as human beings but to tell their torturers something.

This is the defining line of torture: not some arbitrary comic book technique, but a psychological and physical fact: pushing another human being to the point where choice becomes unavailable to him or her.

The conclusion is especially on-point:

[P]eople wonder why I seem so angry and concerned about this issue, about its centrality to this election, and about the unique, once-in-a-century chance to put it behind us before it infects us beyond cure. It is, in my judgment, the biggest single crisis we now face, because it does not simply affect our wealth or our safety, but because it affects who we are.

We cannot know hope until we end torture.

Emphatically seconded.

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John Brennan Will Not Be CIA Director in Obama Administration

by matttbastard

Thank Maude:

John Brennan, President-elect Barack Obama’s top adviser on intelligence, took his name out of the running Tuesday for any intelligence position in the new administration.Brennan wrote in a Nov. 25 letter to Obama that he did not want to be a distraction. His potential appointment as CIA director has raised a firestorm in liberal blogs that associate him with the Bush administration’s interrogation, detention and rendition policies.

[…]

In a 2005 interview on “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” Brennan defended rendition as “an absolutely vital tool.” In 2007 on CBS News, he said the CIA’s harsh interrogation program, which included waterboarding on at least three prisoners, produced “life saving” intelligence. Waterboarding is a form of simulated drowning.

Brennan has spoken out publicly against waterboarding.

“The fact that I was not involved in the decisionmaking process for any of these controversial policies and actions has been ignored,” he wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press. “Indeed, my criticism of these policies within government circles was the reason why I was twice considered for more senior-level positions in the current administration only to be rebuffed by the White House.”

Glennzilla explains why every decent human being should be breathing a sigh of relief at this development, and why Brennan’s contention that he should have gotten a plate of cookies because he was out of the loop with regards to the sausage-making process of torture “enhanced interrogation” is, in a word, bullshit:

Whether he “was involved in the decision-making process for any of these controversial policies” is not and never was the issue.  Rather, as I documented at length when I first wrote about Brennan, he was an ardent supporter of those policies, including “enhanced interrogation techniques” and rendition, both of which he said he was intimately familiar with as a result of his CIA position.  As virtually everyone who opposed his nomination made clear — Andrew Sullivan, Digby, Cenk Uygur, Big Tent Democrat and others — that is why he was so unacceptable.

You can read Brennan’s withdrawal letter in full here.

h/t pogge @ BnR

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Naomi Klein: “The bomb has yet to detonate”

by matttbastard

Naomi Klein discusses last week’s chaos on Wall Street, and how Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s proposed $700 billion bail-out plan fits the ‘disaster capitalism’ model.

(Video courtesy The Nation)

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Cynical Psychic Friends Network

by matttbastard

Shorter Andrew Sullivan:  “Now that Hillary’s no longer a factor, I’m gunna take a break from teh horserace, jump on the ‘Iraq is too werking!!!1′ bandwagon, and then boldly endorse Johnny McMaverick.”

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