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Dr. Baracko’s Supreme Plan

Dr. Baracko stood regally at his Imperial Podium of human bones, atop an imposing dais that allowed him to lord over the tiny reporters cowering below.  He had called a press conference to address the impending vacancy on the Supreme Court of High Wizards.

"The time has come," he boomed, his deep voice rippling from fifty-foot-tall speakers and across the National Mall.  "I must anoint a new High Wizard.  All will grieve and despair at the nightmarish, unremitting tyranny of milquetoast conciliation and mild, collegial disagreement my nominee will surely bring to the Court!"

Our Country collectively shuddered at the thought of the terrible yoke of apologetic incrementalism threatened with these words.

"My nominee, whom you will soon be permitted to see and hear, is being prepared for its Senate confirmation hearing.  Thanks to the daily miracles of modern science and bio-engineering, I believe you will find it… impossible to deal with."

Somewhere, in a sprawling medical research complex teeming with legions of geneticists, neuroscientists, and biochemical engineers, the bulb-skulled Experimental Research Czar presented the culmination of his life’s work to an eager cluster of visiting students from the world’s most prestigious scientific university programs.

The Czar stood before a single vertical cylinder of glass that nearly reached the twenty-foot-high vaulted ceiling and spanned a car-length wide. The cylinder was filled with a viscous, pale-greenish fluid that undulated with the soccer ball-sized air bubbles that continuously rose from the bottom. At its base sprawled a glimmering maze of dials and digital screens, minded by four intensely serious assistants in pristinely white, full-body sterile suits.

There, at the precise center of the towering glass cylinder, floated what appeared to be a naked, fully grown human form, slowly rotating in a fetal position. On closer inspection, the form revealed itself to be female – smallish, rotund, and seemingly in her middle years – curled so tightly that her face remained concealed. A clutch of wires ran from the base of her skull to the panel of controls below, and a synthetic umbilical cord trailed out from her abdomen, also to the controls.

"Witness, young students, the future of appointments to the Supreme Court of High Wizards," announced the Czar to his awe-stricken audience. "What you see before you is a genetically engineered human being, grown from blastocyst to the current state entirely in a controlled laboratory environment. We call the intricately managed system in which she was grown the Career Cocoon."

One student raised her hand up at the marvel, as if to touch her from across the room.

"Thanks to the revolutionary growth fluid of the Career Cocoon, along with advanced mitochondrial engineering, you will be amazed to hear that this specimen is the product of a mere five years of development."

Gasps from the young audience.

"Through a direct neuro-interface, we have succeeded in inputting into the specimen genius-level knowledge of politics and law. This has allowed her to earn highest honors from Princeton and Harvard."

The Experimental Research Czar proudly straightened his lab coat. "In recognition of the political process through which she must pass to finally ascend to the Supreme Court, we have named her Kabuki-Activated Growth-Accelerated Nominee-1. KAGAN-1."

A student spoke up, "So, if she has earned prestigious degrees, she must be capable of communicating with the outside world?"

"A fantastic question," said the Czar. "Yes, she can communicate with the outside world. But only with the assistance of a small, elite cadre of KAGAN Whisperers, who are far closer to KAGAN-1 than any ordinary person." The Czar gestured broadly toward four men on the opposite side of the Career Cocoon, their shapes distorted by the thick liquid inside the cylinder. The men appeared to be listening delicately to the cylinder surface with stethoscopes, occasionally nodding somberly, sometimes pressing the sides of their faces firmly against the glass and uttering unheard words, their eyes glazed over in a sort of trance-like state.

The Czar continued, "Perhaps the best feature of the KAGAN-1 project – and this is no accident – is that KAGAN-1’s suspension in the Career Cocoon growth fluid has prevented her from commenting on any controversial subject and potentially endangering her chances of ascending to the Supreme Court. Indeed, only the KAGAN Whisperers know her true thoughts on legal and political issues of the greatest national importance."

The Czar smiled broadly. "We have, in short, finally engineered the perfect Supreme Court nominee. I predict that others will now follow our lead, and this will soon become the inescapable norm."

* * *

A handful of weeks passed, the days marked by shrill but ineffective outcry from concerned quarters over the fact that only the KAGAN Whisperers and, presumably, Dr. Baracko knew anything specific about the new nominee’s views on the most contentious legal matters of the day. Due to her continuing immersion in the Career Cocoon’s nutrient solution, no one could meaningfully question KAGAN-1 pending the hearing. Instead, observers had only the few stray Career Cocoon progress reports that were cleared for release to the public.

Tightly controlled and purposefully limited to relatively uncontroversial or arcane topics, these progress reports shed only very limited light on KAGAN-1’s developing mind. Like sacred bones and feathers cast at a mystical ritual, they were the subject of intense divination and speculation, with some observers lamenting that the reports portended evil intent, while the KAGAN Whisperers repeatedly chanted that only they had a deep enough understanding of the nominee to know the secrets of her heart (and, of course, that her heart was Pure).

One thing on which all observers agreed, however: whatever KAGAN-1’s mysterious reports might signal about her views on larger questions, they were all exceptionally well written.

After an eternity of such squabbling over the hidden thoughts of Dr. Baracko’s deeply consequential nominee, at long last the first day of KAGAN-1’s Senate confirmation hearing had arrived. Slowly and gingerly, with the assistance of fifty highly trained research assistants, she was removed from the Career Cocoon cylinder, hosed off, painstakingly dried, and dressed in a conservative, navy blue pant suit.

KAGAN-1’s handlers led her carefully to the Senate committee room where the hearing was about to begin. They glanced at KAGAN-1 and then each other one last anxious time before releasing her to approach the witness table alone. Blinking slightly at her surroundings as she rapidly absorbed and synthesized the colossal amounts of visual and audible information pouring in from around her, she stood impeccably at the witness table and raised her right hand to take the oath.

From behind the committee members’ raised bench, Chairman Pat Leahy sternly studied the nominee as she nodded silently at the oath and sat down. "Good morning, Kabuki-Activated Growth-Accelerated Nominee-1, it is a pleasure to finally see you and have you appear before this committee to answer our many questions about you."

The nominee stared wordlessly at Chairman Leahy, an odd little smile frozen onto her face.

Chairman Leahy cleared his throat. "Would you like to give an opening statement?"

KAGAN-1 slowly shook her head, still smiling.

"Okay." Chairman Leahy raised his eyebrows and glanced at Ranking Member Jeff Sessions, Republican from Alabama, sitting quietly next to him. Senator Sessions leaned back in his chair and smirked at the chairman.

"Well then, let’s just get to it, shall we?" said Chairman Leahy, abruptly adjusting his reading glasses and rustling his papers like a father rifling through the family bills.

"As you know, the eight preceding years of the Bush Administration’s War on Terror were marked by aggressive attacks on constitutional due process, the prerogative of Congress, and other important aspects of the rule of law. Now, the Obama Administration seems to want to continue and extend some of these same abuses in the name of national security." Chairman Leahy looked over his reading glasses at the nominee, seeing that same grin directed back at him.

"One feature of the Bush Administration’s attack on the rule of law was its flouting of the FISA law, claiming the essentially dictatorial power to ignore its clear restrictions on surveillance. Do you agree with the Bush Administration’s legal theories in this respect, and if not, why?"

KAGAN-1 lowered her microphone closer to her mouth. "Grogggrrrrlm," she gurgled.

"Could you say that again?"

"Grogggrrrrlm," she repeated. The nominee was not only unable to communicate meaningfully with anyone other than the KAGAN Whisperers during her gestation inside the Career Cocoon, this inability would even persist outside the cylinder for a length of time precisely calculated to end only once she had successfully and irrevocably risen to the Court.

Several rows behind KAGAN-1, a Washington Post reporter furiously scribbled "analysis" onto his notepad:



"I must say, KAGAN-1, that is a very interesting answer, although I would appreciate a greater level of specificity," said Chairman Leahy, furrowing his brow. "But, I must admit you do have a point – this is a complex issue that perhaps does not lend itself well to the soundbite format of a committee hearing. Would you be willing to provide a fuller response in writing to my staff at a later date?"

"Grok," replied the nominee.

"Very well then, we look forward to your follow-up. I reserve the balance of my time and pass questioning to the Ranking Member."

Senator Sessions coughed and sat up straight. Kabuki-Activated Growth-Accelerated Nominee-1 turned her smiling gaze to him.

"Ms. KAGAN, thank you for appearing before us today on this most important business of confirming who will be the next member of the immeasurably consequential Supreme Court of High Wizards. Your scholarship is impressive and your reports are exceedingly, uh, well-written. I would like to know, Ms. KAGAN, do you still believe, as you wrote some fifteen years ago, that the Supreme Court exists primarily to protect ‘the despised and disadvantaged,’ and isn’t that just code for liberal judicial activism?"

"Gluuuuurk," the nominee amiably responded.

Senator Sessions chuckled. "Gluuuuurk. Well, I thought you’d say that, I thought you’d say that." The gallery and attending staff laughed softly – collegially – in that way that involuntarily comes over anyone who attends a congressional hearing.

The senator put his hands face up in front of him. "My goodness, I just don’t think I’ve got any more questions to ask either!" he concluded. "Good thing you said ‘gluuuuurk,’ Ms. KAGAN. Considering you’re a Democrat nominee, I don’t think I could ask for anything better." More jovial chuckles from the gallery and staff.

Back at the Career Cocoon lab, the Experimental Research Czar was feverishly working to complete his billion-dollar patent applications.

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Chris in DC (DCLaw1)

Chris in DC (DCLaw1)

I am an attorney in the Washington, DC metro area. My first forays into political commentary online began with commenting at Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory in early 2006, under the handle "DCLaw1." I finally answered repeated suggestions from Greenwald and others to start up my own blog, which I entitled "Inside-Out the Beltway" - Now, I am trying my hand here at FDL.

Note to commenters: I cannot post or comment while at work (i.e., during regular business hours), so please forgive my disengagement during those times.