American Elephants


The Secret Knowledge: The Origins of “Social Justice” by The Elephant's Child

From the archives: October 28, 2012

The Left is deeply concerned about income inequality, you know that, they tell us so often enough. They have observed that some people live in poverty while others, particularly corporate CEOs, who get ridiculously enormous salaries that they certainly don’t deserve, are very rich. The Left considers this observed inequality as unnatural. In his book The Secret Knowledge, playwright David Mamet tackles the origins of the problem:

To correct this observed inequality, which the Left sees as unnatural, it invented the term “social justice.” But a system of Justice already exists, formulated by Legislature, in supposed expression of the will of the people, and administered by the Judiciary. This is called the Judicial System.  What then is this additional, amorphous “social justice”? It can only mean, as Hayek wrote, “State Justice.” Here, though the Left will not follow the reasoning out to its end, the State (operating upon what basis it alone knows, and responsible to no law enacted by the people) confiscates wealth accumulated under existing laws and redistributes it to those it deems worthy.

History proves that the worthiest in these Marxist schemes are or quickly become, those in charge of distribution, which is to say “the State,” it’s constitutional powers usurped by those we know as “dictators.”

To the Left it is the State which should distribute place, wealth, and status.  This is called “correcting structural error,” or redressing the legacy of Slavery,” or Affirmative Action, or constraining unfair Executive Compensation; but it is and can only be that spoils System which is decided at the ward level as “cronyism.” And lauded at the national level as “social justice.” It is nothing other than the distribution of goods and services by the government for ends not specified in the Constitution; and in response to pressure from or in attempts to curry favor with groups seeking preferment or goods not obtainable either under the law, or through those practices of mutual benefit called the Free Market. What obscenities are created in the name of “social justice?” What could possibly be less just than policies destructive of initiative and based upon genetics?

David Mamet was once a Democrat, and thought better of it. Actually he thought long and deeply about it, read a lot, and turned his considerable writing skills to explaining just why he changed his mind. It is a perfectly delightful book, and as a lifelong Conservative, I learned a lot.

David Mamet is an American playwright, screenwriter, author,and director renowned for Glengarry Glen Ross (Pulitzer, Tony nomination). As a screenwriter, he received Oscar nominations for The Verdict and Wag the Dog. His books include: The Old Religion, Five Cities of Refuge, The Wicked Son, and a long list of books and movies, television shows and even radio dramas.

 The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,  is Mamet’s book detailing his conversion from modern liberalism to “a reformed liberal.” It was released in June of 2011, and I recommend it heartily.



A Conversation With A Liberal. by The Elephant's Child

If you are a conservative and you have ever had a conversation with a liberal on the subject of current affairs, or politics, or just life in general, this will be a familiar scenario.  Painful, but all too true.



History. by The Elephant's Child

I want to talk a little about history. Daniel Boorstin in his book Hidden History, clarifies things for us. Historians learn about the past through what he calls “the bias of survival”. His first example is his search, in an effort to better understand religion in colonial New England, for a copy of The New England Primer. It first appeared in 1690, and was the basic vehicle of religious instruction as well as the main text of compulsory education in Massachusetts. It was the best selling New England schoolbook, and sold some 3 million copies. Mr. Boorstin went in search of an original copy, but couldn’t find one. He found many volumes of Puritan theology and sermons in pristine condition in rare-book rooms of university libraries, often with uncut pages.

He also calls this “the law of the survival of the unread.” That which is heavily used in daily life is not apt to survive, and we are left with things that were valued, but unused. This applies to things as well as to reading material. That which is “collected and protected” survives, that which is used daily does not. Historians at Colonial Williamsburg feel that they originally had too much of a bias towards the protected, and may have lost much of the reality of everyday life.

What goes in government files survives, but the records of informal groups do not. Objects that have a high intrinsic value survive. The “academically classifiable and the dignified” survive. The history of “materials surrounding controversies” survives. The temperance movement has left a vast literature, but we know little about what and how much earlier Americans drank.

Boorstin also mentions the “survival of the self-serving: the psychopathology of diarists and letter writers”. The troubled may write volumes about their angst, while happy people are too busy to write at all. There is a bias towards success, a “survival of the victorious point of view”.

History may change suddenly, with new access, new discoveries, as for example, the opening of the Soviet archives. A new ability to interview participants on both sides has changed the history of the Vietnam War. Is the history of today changing as people communicate by telephone and e-mail instead of letters? Is our history to be told by today’s movies and newspapers? Most of us don’t think that is reality.

We look at the happenings of the past with today’s eyes. How absurd to think that the people of today should apologize for things that happened in the distant past. The past is. It happened. Nothing that we think, say or do will change the past. We may learn more about what happened, but what did happen is fixed and unchangeable.

We need, however, to learn as much about the past as we can. Knowing about the past helps us to do the right thing in the present, and a lack of knowledge may lead us to foolish mistakes.

What we learn about the past may change our ideas of what is right or wrong in the present, but our ideas about what is right or wrong about what was done in the past are irrelevant. Any effect that we have on the future is out of our control. We are responsible only for ourselves in this brief moment of time that is ours.

We cannot predict the future. Time is not a smooth highway stretching out into tomorrow. It’s more like a river with boulders and rapids, eddies, and side streams adding to the flow as it rushes on.



CONFIRMED: Conservatives More Honest Than Liberals by Emerald City Elephant

Multiple studies confirm what we have long known to be true: conservatives are far more honest than liberals. Liberals lie more, they cheat more, they steal more, they bear false witness more.

We consider this a dog bites man story, but the results are overwhelming:

[T]here is a striking gap between the manner in which liberals and conservatives address the issue of honesty.

Consider these results:

Is it OK to cheat on your taxes?  A total of 57 percent of those who described themselves as “very liberal” said yes in response to the World Values Survey, compared with only 20 percent of those who are “very conservative.” When Pew Research asked whether it was “morally wrong” to cheat Uncle Sam, 86 percent of conservatives agreed, compared with only 68 percent of liberals.

Ponder this scenario, offered by the National Cultural Values Survey: “You lose your job. Your friend’s company is looking for someone to do temporary work. They are willing to pay the person in cash to avoid taxes and allow the person to still collect unemployment. What would you do?”

Almost half, or 49 percent, of self-described progressives would go along with the scheme, but only 21 percent of conservatives said they would.

When the World Values Survey asked a similar question, the results were largely the same: Those who were very liberal were much more likely to say it was all right to get welfare benefits you didn’t deserve.

The World Values Survey found that those on the left were also much more likely to say it is OK to buy goods that you know are stolen. Studies have also found that those on the left were more likely to say it was OK to drink a can of soda in a store without paying for it and to avoid the truth while negotiating the price of a car.

Another survey by Barna Research found that political liberals were two and a half times more likely to say that they illegally download or trade music for free on the Internet…

And that’s just the beginning. The column goes on from there with many more similar results. Read the full article here. And I think the author is correct that it is liberalism itself that causes liberals to have such a deficiency in honesty. Being told truth is relative has consequences. Being told you are entitled to things that arent yours has consequences. Bad ideas beget bad behavior.

After the ceaseless barrage of lies and false accusations from liberals for the past 7 years, it’s particularly refreshing and welcome to have objective proof of just how much more dishonest they really are.



Conservatives are happier people! by The Elephant's Child

Who would argue against freedom? We’re Americans, and freedom is our birthright, isn’t it? Surprisingly, a lot of people argue against freedom. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein have a new book out in which they suggest the term “libertarian paternalism” as an alternative to “socialism”. They don’t quite say that, but it clearly is what they have in mind. The book is Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness which Roger Kimball describes thoughtfully at Pajamas Media.

Professors Thaler and Sunstein want to increase the likelihood that people will make the correct decisions that are in their own self interest by giving them little “nudges” here and there. The “correct decisions” are, of course, those that the professors choose. Oddly enough, Liberals seldom grasp the idea that they are infringing upon your freedom. They are only doing it for your own good!

Freedom is, to be sure, frightening. There is no telling what values someone will choose to hold. Decent and well-meaning guardians of values were horrified by the monstrous principles of the Declaration of Independence. It is, of course, out of fear that the guardians preach the inculcation of values, fear of knowledge and thought.

Richard Mitchell

The current crop of Democrats have been telling us, over and over, for months, how completely miserable we are. We have no hope, we are losing jobs, losing income, we cannot get ahead for they keep moving the bar, and we are in the worst depression since the Great Depression. This comes just at the time that economists are declaring the housing crisis over, employment rebounding, growth returning, and the “recession” probably at an end. What a sour bunch.

In the current issue of City Journal, Arthur C. Brooks has an essay Free People Are Happy People, which is based on his new book Gross National Happiness, ” In fact,” he says, “evidence shows that freedom and happiness are strongly linked. But what kind of freedom makes Americans happiest? And what can government best do to promote freedom and help us pursue happiness, as is our inalienable right?”

Freedom and happiness are highly correlated, then; even more significant, several studies have shown that freedom causes happiness….

The data and evidence don’t prove that all kinds of freedom bring equal happiness, or that more freedom is always better than less. For example, what about economic freedom? Pundits and politicians on the left often tell us that a free economy makes for an unhappy population; the disruptions of capitalism make us insecure, and we would prefer the security of generous welfare programs and national health care. But for most people, it turns out, that isn’t true.

Liberals are not happy with this book. (Why am I not surprised) Both book and essay suggest that the Conservative emphasis on liberty makes for happier people. Rejecting the welfare state and rejecting big government pay off. Religious freedom and faith produce happier people. Property rights, freedom to operate a business, trade with other nations (are you paying attention Speaker Pelosi?) ease of investment — all are elements that add to national happiness.

But down inside, you knew that, didn’t you? Freedom is our inalienable right, and free people look to the future with optimism. It’s the people who insist that we are miserable, that the current government is the worst ever, that the country is headed in the wrong direction — and once we feel bad enough, promise that they will make us feel better. They will do all sorts of wonderful things for us, as soon as they raise our taxes, diminish our freedom and take away our liberty — well, then they’ll help us, give us hope and change things. It’s just that the change they have in mind isn’t quite what freedom-loving people had in their minds.



Rest in Peace, Mr. Buckley by American Elephant
February 27, 2008, 2:00 pm
Filed under: History, News, Politics | Tags: , , ,

William F. Buckley Jr.

William F. Buckley Jr. 1925-2008

William F. Buckley Jr., author, columnist, founder of National Review, towering intellect, the primary architect of modern conservatism, and a national treasure has died, at his desk, at the age of 83.

Our thoughts go to his family, friends and many loved ones.

Fellow admirers would do well to read the many excellent tributes that are rapidly accumulating at National Review, and on their blog, The Corner. Fellow conservatives would do well to pay tribute to Mr. Buckley by redoubling their efforts to advancing our shared ideals.

I think he would expect no less.



President Bush Reverses Global Warming! by American Elephant

President Bush Environmentalist

I kid you not. Global Warming is gone. Kaput! No More!

New figures from four of the most authoritative sources show the average global temperature has dropped enough to erase almost all the warming people were concerned about in the first place:

All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA’s GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

Meteorologist Anthony Watts compiled the results of all the sources. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C — a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. [read more]

If President Bush gets blamed because the mayor of New Orleans and Governor of Louisiana refused to evacuate their own people, refused to follow their own disaster plans, and refused President Bush when he offered to help, then he sure as hell gets credit for reversing global warming!



Good News for Republicans by American Elephant
February 22, 2008, 2:20 am
Filed under: News, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Representative John Shadegg

Representative John Shadegg (R-AZ) has heard the pleas of conservatives. After announcing ten days ago that he would not seek re-election, Representative Shadegg was besieged with a campaign of letters, phone calls, emails, petitions and pleas, from colleagues, conservative leaders and constituents asking him to stay.

Powerline reports that Shadegg has now reconsidered and will run for re-election in the fall.

Shadegg is a solid conservative, a fighter, and a good man. His statement can be read here.



Why We Like Rudy! by The Elephant's Child

Rudy Giuliani

American Elephants likes Rudy Giuliani! Let us count the ways:

First, remember that Rudy was the mayor of a city larger than the entire state of Massachusetts. When he inherited NYC, the Big Apple had an astronomical crime-rate, declining school performance, oppressive taxation,  a suffering economy and a bloated government packed with hostile political adversaries.

Rudy developed a philosophy of government completely at odds with New York’s political culture.

…the former prosecutor had fashioned a philosophy of local government based on two core conservative principles vastly at odds with New York’s political culture: that government should be accountable for delivering basic services well, and that ordinary citizens should be personally responsible for their actions and their destiny and not expect government to take care of them. Giuliani preached the need to reestablish a “civil society,” where citizens adhered to a “social contract.” “If you have a right,” he observed, “there is a duty that goes along with that right.”

He followed through on his conservative principles, no matter how much he upset the elites, no matter how many threats were made against him. Total crime dropped by more than 64 percent and the murder rate dropped by 67 percent. Giuliani proposed cutting the city’s huge budget deficit entirely through spending cuts and savings and even a modest tax cut. As crime dropped, tourism soared. The city gained around 430,000 new jobs, personal income soared and the unemployment rate was cut in half.

He revived the largest city in America when everyone else said it was impossible. And he did it all in the face of bitter opposition. It’s an inspiring story.

Rudy has the only Healthcare plan of any candidate that will actually make healthcare more available and more affordable. It rejects public entitlements and tax hikes and embraces private property and tax incentives to extend health coverage overall — private coverage that people would own, control, and transport throughout their careers like they do with home or life insurance.

His blueprint for homeland security, The Resilient Society, shows that Rudy really understands the problems and issues facing national security. Its a long piece, but worth reading in full.

Rudy has proposed not only the largest tax cut in modern American history, but also a dramatic simplification of the tax code. He would give every tax-payer the option of using a one-page “Fair and Simple Tax Form.” There would be only three rates 10%, 15% and 30%. Deductions for mortgage payments, state and local taxes and child tax-credits would be preserved. Taxpayers who prefer existing forms would be free to do so. It is the best and most pro-growth proposal of any of the candidates.

But, “isn’t Rudy pro-abortion?” you ask. He has said that he, as a man, doesn’t think he has the right to tell a woman that she can’t have an abortion. But he is opposed to partial-birth abortion and is in favor of parental notification. He has pledged to appoint strict constructionist judges, and since he has chosen Ted Olson as one of his advisers, this seems very likely. And it is strict constructionist judges that are precisely what is needed to overturn Roe. Rudy Giuliani is the only candidate we are convinced will appoint true conservatives to the bench.

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American Elephant Adds: I would also point out that Rudy has been extremely disturbed how activist liberal judges are endangering the country with their unconstitutional meddling in the war. Unlike John McCain who has talked about “consensus nominees” for far too long to be beleived, and who is unlikely to appoint anyone who would endanger McCain/Feingold, and unlike Mitt who says all the right things, but strikes us as a man who will compromise once he is in office, Rudy Giuliani is the only candidate who will insist on conservative justices, and he will fight Democrats and the press to do it.

Also, there are some who complain about Rudy’s divorces. I would remind them that Ronald Reagan was also a divorcee, and he turned out pretty darn good in my book!



Happy days are here again! by American Elephant
August 16, 2007, 2:18 am
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Politics | Tags: , , , ,

August 15, 2007 — A surprising 94 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with their lives …The Harris Poll of more than 1,000 people reported the overall “satisfaction” level, defined as people who said they were either very or somewhat satisfied with their lot, was up 4 percentage points, from 90 percent two years ago. [read more]

This poll and others like it have been overwhelmingly positive for years now. The vast majority of Americans not only say they’re satisfied with their lives, but doing well financially to boot.

Home ownership is at an all time high, especially among minorities, wages are up, inflation and unemployment are historically low…worst possible thing anyone could do is vote Democrat.




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