American Elephants


Symbols Matter. Understanding What the Symbols Mean Matters Even More. by The Elephant's Child
June 28, 2015, 7:48 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Law, The United States | Tags: , ,

From the Archives, May, 2009

justice

Lady Justice is the symbol of the judiciary. She carries three symbols of the rule of law: a sword symbolizing the court’s coercive power, scales representing the weighing of competing claims, and a blindfold indicating impartiality. This particular representation says:

Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civilized society. It ever has been, ever will be pursued until it be obtained or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.

The judicial oath required of every federal judge and justice says “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I…will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me… under the Constitution and laws of the United States, so help me God.

President Obama has a record of statements on justice. In September 2005, on the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts, Obama said:

What matters on the Supreme Court is those 5 percent of cases that are truly difficult. In those cases, adherence to precedent and rules of construction and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon. That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.

During a July 17, 2007 appearance at a Planned Parenthood conference:

We need somebody who’s got the heart to recognize — the empathy to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.

During a Democratic primary debate on November 25, 2007, Obama was asked whether he would insist that any nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court supported abortion rights for women:

I would not appoint someone who doesn’t believe in the right to privacy…I taught constitutional law for 10 years, and when you look at what makes a great Supreme Court justice, it’s not just the particular issue and how they ruled. But it’s their conception of the court. And part of the role of the court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don’t have a lot of clout.

During a May 1, 2009 press briefing:

Now the process of selecting someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as president, so I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity. I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time.

“Empathy” is the word that has caused so much concern. For empathy has no place in jurisprudence. Federal judges swear an oath to administer justice without respect to persons. If they are to feel more partial to the “young teenage mom,” the “disabled,” the “African-American,” the “gay,” the “old,” then they are not and cannot be impartial, and the rule of law counts for nothing. The “depth and breadth of one’s empathy” is exactly what the judicial oath insists that judges renounce. That impartiality is what guarantees equal protection under the law.

That is what the blindfold is all about.



Monday: Three More Big Decisions From The Supreme Court by The Elephant's Child

Supreme-Court-Justices-2

After finding something or other somewhere in the Constitution that recognized a national right to same-sex marriage and rewriting the Affordable Care Act to fix the actual language that Congress wrote into the law, there are still three more big decisions, which we will hear on Monday.

1. Execution Methods

Glossip v. Gross

At issue is whether the sedative midazolam presents an unconstitutional risk of severe pain in executions of condemned criminals. Three men on Oklahoma’s death row claim that midazolam, the anesthetic the state plans to administer before introducing paralytic and heart-stopping drugs to their bloodstreams, is unreliable, exposing them to an unconstitutional risk of severe pain as they are put to death.

2. Power-Plant Emissions

Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA et.al.

Issue: Whether the EPA unreasonably disregarded costs when it decided to regulate power plant emissions of mercury and other air toxins. The regulations would cost $9.6 billion annually, according to EPA estimates. But the agency said it was appropriate to consider only public health risks—not industry costs—when it decided to regulate coal- and oil-fired generation plants.

3. Congressional Redistricting

Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

Issue: Whether a state may transfer redistricting authority from the legislature to a nonpartisan independent commission. Arizona voters in 2000 passed a ballot initiative that shifted responsibility for drawing congressional districts from the state legislature to an independent redistricting commission made up of two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent.



The First Half of 2015 Has Been the Most Intense Period of Terrorist Plotting Since 9/11 by The Elephant's Child

JP-TERROR-master675

(The Imam Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait City after a suicide
bomber killed at least 25 Shiite worshipers at prayer)

Peter Brooks, senior fellow for national security affairs at the Heritage Foundation wrote today that: We have had nine terrorist plots this year in the United States. So far all of the plots in 2015 have had ties to ISIS off in Iraq and Syria, whether the plotters were direct (recruited by ISIS) or indirect (inspired by ISIS). FBI Director James Comey said in February, that his agency is investigating Islamic State-related cases in all 50 states.

They heavily use social media, using publicly available encryption found on the internet to chat in complete privacy. They can hide their computer IP addresses, and are moving over to the so-called “dark web” where a lot of very bad actors reside. Their technology is pretty good, their propaganda is increasingly capable of reaching and radicalizing those here who would do us harm.

In Britain, Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, the former Chief of the Defense Staff, has warned that Muslim extremism is a “real threat” to the world, and he condemned dithering politicians who are too reluctant to lead the way. He warned that a “hell of a lot of damage” is going to be wreaked by ISIS in coming years, and leaders are failing to plan properly. “I think the problem is that we have not seen that we need to approach the issue of Muslim extremism  as we might approach World War Two back in the Thirties.

He said “Right now, in the ranks of the armed forces, and the army in particular, are the most experienced, battle hardened people since the end of the Second World War.

Jihadists like anniversaries, so their three terror attacks took place on the eve of ISIS declaration of a caliphate last June 29. They only took  credit for one of the atrocities — a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait, where 27 people were killed, but all going off at the same time.Ramadan began last week, and an ISIS spokesman called on “mujahadeen everywhere” to make it “a month of disasters for the infidels.”

In Tunisia, a gunman posing as a tourist  killed at least 37 people, most European vacationers at a beach resort. In France, a car-bombing attempt at an American-owned chemical plant near Lyon failed to cause major damage, but not before the attacker planted the decapitated head of his boss on the plant’s gate, along with an Islamic flag.

President Obama recently deployed 450 additional trainers to help the Iraqi army fight, but they aren’t getting enough Iraqi volunteers, which in the wake of ISIS drowning captives, removing heads, burning in cages is not really surprising when the Americans have such restrictive Rules of Engagement, and have demonstrated that they are undependable allies. ISIS is a direct threat to the West as well as to the region in general, and it needs to be dealt with that way.

Obama’s view of the Middle East and ISIS isn’t a policy for dealing with this problem. As he explained, he doesn’t have a complete strategy yet.  Little late in the game for developing one.



We are not their subjects. They work for us. by The Elephant's Child

A House Republican has introduced the SCOTUSScare Act which would make all nine justices and their employees join the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare law exchanges. It would only allow the federal government to provide healthcare through the exchanges.

Not going to go anywhere, but the policy of not applying laws inflicted on the rest of society, but not our representatives in the federal government, is problematic. Our elected representatives, including the president and all his appointees work for us. We are not their subjects. Ours is a government “of the people and by the people,” and when  you vote — keep that in mind.

Hillary’s refusal to answer questions, and rude telling one of the people to “just go to the end of the line” should give you pause.

Any law passed by Congress and signed by the president should apply equally to those in the government.



About the Racism Inherent in the Stars and Bars of the Confederate Battle Flag. by The Elephant's Child
June 24, 2015, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Freedom, History, Media Bias, The United States | Tags: , , ,

After the dreadful racist murders of nine black members of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, some member of the media called attention to the Confederate battle flag on the South Carolina Capitol grounds, and the media was off and running. Unable to adequately express their dismay, which I assume — they went for the flag.

The flag did not fly over the capitol, but over the Confederate memorial on the Capitol grounds. The conversation quickly moved from the nine murdered church members to the flag as a ‘symbol of racism.’ Governor Nikki Haley promptly said they would take down the flag to end any offense from its presence. It had been placed over the Confederate memorial by a Democrat governor and a Democrat legislature at the time of the Civil War Centennial and would take a 2/3 vote of the legislature to remove.

That wasn’t enough for some members of the media, who began advocating for the removal of Confederate flags everywhere. Retailers said they would no longer sell the flag. Then they went for the statues of Confederate heroes.  Monuments were defaced, names of streets and towns named after Confederate heroes should be changed, and some nitwit from CNN even suggested that the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. should be torn down because Jefferson owned slaves.  Congratulations! You have managed to match the tactics of ISIS and the Taliban.

The Civil War is over. The South lost and surrendered unconditionally. History is a record of the past, things that actually happened. The Civil War, (The War Between the States), was a dreadful war, the most deadly ( 620,000 dead) in our history. It was a war over the Union and the South’s right to secede. It was a war over the institution of slavery — but to the South it was a war over their entire economy which depended on producing cotton for English textile mills. Sixty percent of American exports at the time were cotton for the mills of Britain — and some 440,000 workers in Britain were employed in the textile industry.

Slavery was a great evil, but it was the norm all over the world, and most people just accepted it as the way things were. The British killed the slave trade between Africa and the new world, and we followed suit. It is estimated that about 88 percent of the transatlantic slave trade went to the sugar islands and South America, and only about 12 percent came to America (per Wikipedia) Am I apologizing for slavery? Certainly not. It has taken a long time to get over the Civil War, a long time for the Southern economy to recover. and a long time for blacks to become full and valued participants in every segment of society. It’s all just a lot more complicated than those who are squawking about the symbolic racism inherent in any display of the Stars and Bars. Read some history. Please!



Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Airship — the Next Revolution. by The Elephant's Child

You learn something new every day. I had no idea they were working on this. I’ve long been familiar with dirigibles.  Used to drive by the hangar near the freeway just north of San Jose, fairly frequently. The working model pictured is 1/3 scale, so Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Airships — the real ones — would be huge.  Able to go to areas with little transportation and no highways or runways.  The possibilities seem endless. Fascinating.



President Obama, Iraq, ISIS, and An Interview With President Bush by The Elephant's Child
June 12, 2015, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Iraq, National Security, The United States | Tags: , ,

Two days after admitting that he did not yet have “a complete strategy” for dealing with the ISIS terrorists estimated as an army of 30,000, President Obama has dispatched another 450 U.S. advisers to train Iraqis troops to do the fighting. It appears that trainers will outnumber trainees. There will be a total of 3,500 American trainers, about 950 more than Iraqi troops.

Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, said the modest troop increase came as a result of “a very regular process of evaluation” not from any perceived public pressure to do something, after a long string of ISIS advances.

We are told by military sources that what is needed are Special Forces to provide intelligence and spotters to direct American aircraft. The lack of on-the-ground information and a restrained target approval process related to White House rules of engagement, 75% of all allied air attacks now return without dropping their ordnance.

Seventeen months ago Obama described ISIS as a JV team. Ten months ago he said he had no strategy. After the hideous beheading of an American, Obama announced the current ‘strategy’ of no combat forces, bombings or troop training. You have to remember that he told military academy graduates that global warming, not terrorism, was the most serious threat to America. Here’s the history, do watch till the end (Funniest mashup ever!)

Israel Hayom caught up with former President George W. Bush for an exclusive interview — on Friday. He said “There is only one thing that I really miss about being president, and that’s being the commander-in-chief. I admire our military a lot,” he told Israel Hayom, his eyes twinkling. “When you are the commander-in-chief at a time when I was, when you put them into a lot of combat situations, you develop a special bond, not only with the military but with their families.”

The war snuck up on then-President Bush with the al-Qaida attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In his book he says that the week of the attacks was the key to understanding his entire presidency. He writes that he poured his heart and soul into defending the country, “by any means necessary.”

To us he says that no one prepared him for becoming a “two-war president” but reality supplied him with a lot of challenges in the White House. He says he had to make very difficult decisions — sending boys to defend the homeland with the knowledge that not all of them would return.

President Bush was asked “Is the war on terror currently being waged in the proper way? He responded:

“I made a decision, as you know, not to criticize my successors, with an s. I am going to be around a little bit longer — there is going to be more than one successor. The temptation is to try to rewrite history or to make yourself look good by criticizing someone else. I think that is a mistake. I don’t think that is what leadership is all about. I know how hard the job is. I didn’t like it when former leaders criticized me when I was president. Some did, so I decided not to do the same.”

Q: You mentioned ISIS, you spoke about defeating terror. Is it possible to defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq without boots on the ground?

“The president will have to make that determination. My position was that you need to have boots on the ground. As you know, I made a very difficult decision. A fair number of people in our country were saying that it was impossible to defeat al-Qaida — which is ISIS as far as I am concerned. They said I must get out of Iraq. But I chose the opposite — I sent 30,000 more troops as opposed to 30,000 fewer. I think history will show that al-Qaida in Iraq was defeated. And so I chose the path of boots on the ground. We will see whether or not our government adjusts to the realities on the ground.”

This has already translated into the idea that Mr. Bush said we needed boots on the ground. He said that was up to the president. When it was his job to decide his position was that you needed boots on the ground.

It is a long and very interesting interview, do read the whole thing. He steadfastly resisted any comments or criticism of his successor, but talked about what he himself did and why. He said:

In my post-presidency I have written a book, and that has helped a lot. I wrote another book. It is brand new. It is about an extraordinary man — my father. It will be a very historical document because never has a son of a president written about the president. So the paintings are along these lines.

“I read Winston Churchill’s essay ‘Painting as a Pastime,’ and it is a really interesting essay. I started looking at Churchill’s paintings and I said ‘wow, I can do this.’

There is so much in the interview that is charmingly Bush, that I wanted to include it all. You will have to read it for yourself.




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