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Prophylactic for Izvestia's hagiography on Kagan

Ho hum. For actual information, see SMBIVA's "Elena Kagan's Crooked Dad."

The World's Greatest Newspaper (not) calls the Kagan family "left-leaning." Well, er:

Robert Kagan had a scam in which he "represented" tenants who were resisting co-op efforts, which were the great engine of gentrification in New York back then. As soon as Robert signed up to represent the tenants, he would form a partnership with other speculators and send the tenants -- his clients -- letters offering to buy out their "insider" rights, under some such soothing name as "Apartment Investors Associates".

Needless to say, the tenants had no idea that "Apartment Investors Associates" included their lawyer, who thus stood to benefit from losing their case -- not to put too fine a point on it.

There were other fiddles, too -- non-resident fictitious "tenants" who were sockpuppets of Kagan's, for example.

No doubt this all sounds very arcane, but it was a big deal at the time. Kagan was the chair of the local community board's "ethics committee" -- you can't make this stuff up. He was either dumped, or had to resign from that position of honor, and he sued me, me personally, for libel, and claimed damages to the amount of a lot of dollars. Millions. I don't remember how many. A few more than I had, anyway.

Of course we laughed the suit off, and it went nowhere -- a very sad and ineffectual attempt at intimidation. After all, we had the documents. There was no surmising about it.

Left-leaning? Not. "Progressive"? Indubitably. I mean, you say the word "scam," right? Plus the usual peasants thrown under the bus?

NOTE The scam might have been invented at Golden Sachs, eh? Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose....

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Submitted by Anne on

or for what he did and did not do, nor is she responsible for the NYT's disingenuous "profile" of her family - and even if the Times had chosen to write a warts-and-all article, it still wouldn't make Elena Kagan her family's keeper.

The article is a sales job - they're trying to humanize her, to personalize her to garner support for her nomination; the last thing they are going to do is attempt to demonize her.

I'm more interested in who she is today, what her views are on issues that are a concern to me, than I am about events she wasn't a part of and had no control over.

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Submitted by sisterkenney on

so it's difficut to judge what she is/stands for. No published opinions/works. Are we going to have to 'take Obama's word" for it? (From him "trust me" means F U) And, I'm a big believer that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree". If nothing else, one learns morality and ethics at the knees of one's parents.

Submitted by Anne on

her world view, her legal philosophy – is extremely limited, and is – or should be – both a legitimate concern as well as one that should not be allowed to be dismissed on the basis of what “those who know her best” have to say about her. I want to hear it from her, but I am prepared for the likelihood that we won’t get much more than platitudes and bumper stickers.

I also agree that we are all products of our pasts, of our upbringing, the functionality or dysfunctionality of the dynamic among and between family members, but it doesn’t change the fact that Elena Kagan is not responsible for her father’s actions. Now, is he responsible for hers? And to what degree? I mean, she did have another parent, too, and children don’t just learn who to be from their parents, they learn who not, to be as well. So, it may be that Kagan internalized the alleged bad behavior of her father and rejected it for herself; there have not been, as far as I know, even any hints of unscrupulous activity or behavior on her part at any of the places she’s been or in the positions she’s held.

I guess my point is that while we often see the apple-doesn’t-fall-far-from-the-tree thing at work in families – in both good and bad ways – it still doesn’t make an early-20-ish Elena Kagan responsible for the actions of her father. To me, it’s the same kind of distraction as the the bright-shiny-object of “Look! Sarah Palin!” – if we’re looking at Robert Kagan, what, exactly, are we learning about his daughter that will help us assess her suitability for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court? I would argue, not much. Should she be asked about it? I don’t know.

All I do know is that I don’t take responsibility for who my parents are, and I wouldn’t expect my children to accept responsibility for who I am; I expect Elena Kagan to accept responsibility for who she is, and I hope – but don’t expect – the hearings will shed some much-needed light on that.

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Submitted by sisterkenney on

and that's exactly what I don't want in a scotus nominee. I think they found the perfect person to advance the neo-liberal viewpoint..because if you ain't said it, it ain't been said. The constant ratcheting to the right of the SC as evidenced by "citizens United" and other decisions (remember 2000 Gore v Bush?) has absolutely trashed this country, and handed it over to the fascist warlords. I think Kagan will fit right in.

Submitted by lambert on

which it does (the Times's reputation is beyond salvage).

As for Kagan herself, I agree we can't know, right now. One good clue would be if she repeats the hagiographical frame herself in confirmation hearings, say. Because now we know that's not so.

Submitted by Anne on

so-very-nicely written for her with, I imagine, plenty of encouragement from the Obama administration, or will she – can she? – just put everything on the table (and I don’t just mean her father’s actions), address it, opine about it, clarify it, expand on it, fill in the blanks?

I have a feeling that’s not the plan, and it concerns me that we have another “projection” nominee – as in, someone who is such a blank slate that she can appear to project the views of whomever she is interacting with. It concerns me because she seems to have spent her entire working life in service to climbing the ladder of success, and never putting enough of her own identity into that journey to risk any setbacks. Now, no one has suggested that, in each position she has had, she has not worked hard, or that she approached each new position as only a steppingstone to the next, or left the actual work of that position to others, but…I am still uncomfortable with, and need to understand, the absence of identity and what makes someone so driven to succeed but so unwilling to put her true self into the game. What does Elena Kagan believe? What does she believe in? Everyone who’s nominated says they will follow precedent and uphold and apply the Constitution, but what does that mean in the context of executive power, abortion, preventive detention, the right to privacy, state secrets? What rulings does she agree with? What rulings does she have a problem with – and why?

Not sure if I am explaining that coherently, so I hope that makes sense.

And I know I am expecting way too much from these hearings – as usual – but with so little to go on, I just think it’s a dereliction of the Senate’s responsibilities to pay lip service to a nominee about whom little is known.