American Elephants


A Quotation for a Rainy Monday in April by The Elephant's Child

Masterpieces created by a committee are notably few in number, but the United States Constitution is certainly one of them. Amended only twenty-seven times in 215 years, it came into being just as the world was about to undergo the most profound—and continuing—period of economic change the human race has known. The locus of power in the American economy has shifted from sector to sector as that economy has developed. Whole sections of the country have risen and fallen in economic importance. New methods of doing business and economic institutions undreamed of by the Founding Fathers have come into existence in that time, while others have vanished. Fortunes beyond the imagination of anyone living in the pre-industrial world have been built and been destroyed. And yet the Constitution endures, and the country continues to flourish under it.

—John Steele Gordon:  An Empire of Wealth



Terminally Annoyed by The Left. by The Elephant's Child

In the waiting room at the veterinarian today,  I was reading the new May copy of the Seattle Met magazine. Featured article concerned the tragic people who hailed from the countries affected by Trump’s travel ban, before it was halted by illegal judicial hold. (The order from the Seattle judge was clearly improper, because the president has clear authority under the Constitution to do precisely what he did.) It was, however, upheld by the 9th Circuit, which is so far left that it has become the most overruled circuit in history. Nevertheless, the magazine apparently went to print before this all became apparent, so their article was intended as a pity piece of how these people were suffering under the abusive Trump order, which only lasted for 6 months in any case.

Some abuse. Some of the seven people were students, another was unable to return home to visit because he then would not be able to get back in the U.S. There was no discussion of how long these people had been in this country, whether they were working/applying for citizenship, illegal or what. It was a sad tale of presidential abuse, and a typical leftist trick of attempting to conflate the entire immigration issue.

The Left wants open borders. They believe that immigrants will be more apt to become Democrat voters, particularly when immigration from countries like Cuba has been halted by the Obama administration. Escaping from a Communist country suggests that they might not automatically become Democrats. Obama worked hard at distributing refugees to voting districts where they might alter the future vote, or where increasing  population numbers would shift the vote.

To achieve their ends, Leftists work hard at failing to distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants, ignore drug-dealing, sex-trafficking, and murderous gangs that have accompanied Obama’s lax border controls. Americans who object to illegal immigrants are supposed to be the bad people, not the illegals (“No human is illegal” say the signs). The fact that most countries have far more restrictive immigration laws than we had under the Obama administration is never mentioned. Mexico has a wall on their southern border, with guard towers, I believe. Canada’s immigration laws are more restrictive than ours. “We are a nation of immigrants” they proclaim, as if that had anything to do with anything. Apparently the United States is the only country in the world that is supposed to have completely open borders, and if you don’t believe that — you are a bad person.

This is false. We are quite entitled to admit those who are most apt to be a benefit or can contribute the most to the United States, and those who most want to become Americans. That is only basic common sense.

The Left wants cheap foreign workers to replace high cost Americans. Disney’s forcing high-tech workers to train their cheaper replacements or risk losing any severance pay was a dramatically ugly act. Wealthy Leftists desire for cheap servants isn’t very attractive either. There are real long-term concerns about Muslim immigrants who want to replace the American constitution with Sharia law—we should never admit anyone who arrives wanting to overthrow our government. You are not a bad person to expect such standards.

These are the tactics of the Left, and the reason for all the names we are called— racist, bigot, nativist, etc. etc. etc. If you do not think their way, you are a bad person. How many times lately have you hesitated in something you thought or said, because of what the Left might think of you?

But then, when we welcome the new dishes and foods immigrants bring as they open restaurants, we are accused of “cultural appropriation,”so there you go.



Immigration. Legal and Illegal, and the Difference. by The Elephant's Child

As promised, ICE has expanded their campaign to deport illegal immigrants with criminal records. They have announced the seizure of 368 illegals in seven states and Washington D.C. That’s a 250 percent increase over the 106 deportations announced a week ago.

ICE especially targeted members of the violent MS-13 gang and those illegals who had been charged with sex crimes against kids. In just one five day roundup in and around Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia, 82 illegals from 26 countries were arrested. Of those 82 individuals, 68 of those had previous criminal records for crimes like robbery, larceny and drug distribution. Two of the remaining 14 had ties to MS-13, two had final orders for removal, and two had pending local charges. The remainder had unlawfully entered the United States in violation of immigration laws.

158 were arrested in Texas. ICE is targeting convicted criminal aliens. The simple notion that President Trump means business has significantly curbed the flow of illegal immigration across the border.

Activists frequently contend that the United States is a “nation of immigrants”, which, if you go back to the 1630s is accurate, but has nothing to do with anything. Immigrants currently represent about 13.5 percent of the American population, the highest percentage in over 100 years. But then they consistently say that we have 11 million illegal aliens in the country, but they have been using the same number for years, and there is a strong suspicion that nobody knows. Everyone likes to think of America as welcoming and open, but this is not the case. Countries have borders and laws that determine how one becomes a legal immigrant.

Immigrants are apt to band together with others of the same background, and often engage in the same occupations. There is often a language barrier. Americans are frequently suspicious of those who do not speak their language. This has been going on since the beginnings of the country, and is well documented in books like David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed and Bernard Bailyn’s The Peopling of British North America. New waves of immigrants were not always welcomed, the Scots-Irish went to the Carolinas, the Germans to Germantown in Pennsylvania, the Quakers to Pennsylvania and of course the Dutch to New York.

We don’t know much about how many can be comfortably absorbed by the nation’s schools and infrastructure. Here is a map from the Center for Immigration Studies showing the percentages of  public school students from immigrant  households. In 1980, about 7 percent of public school students came from immigrant homes, in 1990, it was 11 percent and in 2015 about 23 percent of public school students came from immigrant homes or almost one in four, in 700 immigrant-heavy districts.

In 2015, between one-fourth and one-third of public school students from immigrant households were the children of illegal immigrants. The remainder were the children of legal immigrants. This is simply a reminder that there are real costs for illegal immigrants.

The Obama administration encouraged both legal and illegal immigration. They believed that immigrants would be more likely to support the Democratic Party, and made an effort to settle immigrants and refugees in districts where they would help to switch the vote to Democrats. You might notice that Obama ended the acceptance of refugees from Cuba, who were unlikely to support the Democrats after Communist Cuba.

For those who claim that we cannot afford a wall on our southern border, or those who think a wall would be mean, there is a cost for illegal immigrants—schools, welfare, the courts. During a lifetime of an illegal immigrant they create an average fiscal burden of $74,722. If a border wall stopped between 9 to 12 percent of those expected to successfully cross the border, the fiscal savings would equal the $12 to $15 billion cost of the wall.

Those on the Left usually consider the case of immigrants or refugees as a matter of feelings. If you do not sympathize deeply with those who want to come to the United States legally or illegally, then you are a bad person. Not all refugees want to leave their own countries, they just want temporary safety. Those on the Left believe in open borders, the more the merrier. I believe that countries get to choose how many immigrants and who they are.

Sweden has just had a belated wake-up call, learning that some of the migrants they welcomed to their country steal trucks and drive them into crowds to kill as many Swedes as possible. And a CNN reporter just had a wake-up interview with a Syrian refugee.

Not what the CNN host expected. Her expression is priceless.



Clear Language Matters. Make Fine Distinctions, Insist on Free Speech and Clear Speech. by The Elephant's Child

The situation in Syria was not only an affront to international law, but a probe of sorts to test the new president of the United States. President Trump’s response was prompt and direct, but careful. It was not, as the Democrats try to claim, the start of a war, or a sign of the belligerence of an out-of-control administration. It was a very specific and limited missile strike against the specific airbase that had launched the Sarin Gas attack on Syrian rebels by their own administration. Because it was directed  so specifically, it announced that poison gas attacks were simply not acceptable, and this strike was a clear warning that we are a powerful nation and we are capable of much more. There will be no more statements of “red lines” that are not observed.

America means business. It was not, as has been claimed, an attack on Assad. The Russians and Syrians were warned, so there would be little or no loss of life. These distinctions are important. The free world approved.

Democrats are not good at distinctions. They are more comfortable with generalities. Hillary was interviewed by the New York Times Nicholas Kristof at the “Women in the World” summit. Kristof asked Hillary:

I have to ask fundamentally, a man who bragged about sexual assault won the election and won 53 percent of the white women’s vote. What does that say about the challenges that one faces in women’s empowerment, that in effect misogyny won with a lot of women voters?

In the first place, Trump did not brag about sexual assault. He spoke of women and celebrity and said that when you are a celebrity, some women will let you do anything you want to them.  He did not say that he had done anything.

Hillary immediately blamed everything on identity politics: misogynyshe lost because she is a woman. The country is just not ready for  the first woman president. Fine distinctions: Hillary ran for the presidency because she wanted to be the first woman president, not because there were things she wanted to do to improve the country or help Americans. That’s why her brief career in the Senate was marked only by a bill to name a post office, and her career as Secretary of State resulted only in Benghazi and a record amount of air travel miles. There were no accomplishments. The change was her gender. She promised to continue all the accomplishments of the Obama administration but to do it as a woman.

Nikki Haley, a woman, has made a real difference in her brief time as Ambassador to the United Nations. People are already suggesting that she can be the first woman president. She has demonstrated over and over competence, authority, determination, and things have shifted because of it.

In this strange new universe, a real-estate developer and reality-TV celebrity with no political experience whatsoever, obviously won the election because he is a man. Identity politics is the controlling theme. You can be decide your identity and your gender by your feelings of the moment, which, making fine distinctions — is clearly nuts.

The Left, in their drive for ever more control, believe that when they achieve full control,  they will fix human nature, so we are all more complacent and cooperative. Unfortunately human nature is immutable, unchanging and quite definitely unfixable.

Insist on fine distinctions. Don’t let them get away with sloppy thinking. Insist on free speech. Hold college and university authorities to task for allowing bad behavior to destroy the educational process. Speak out.

Surely you have noticed that what the Left advocates are abstractions. Social justice —there is no such thing. We have laws and courts, and they don’t do social justice. Equality —you can have equality under the law, but you can’t make people equal, some are smarter, some are more beautiful, some are stronger, some are older. Diversity—to the Left refers only to skin color, certainly not to diversity of ideas. Our values —one of Obama’s favorites, “that’s not who we are as Americans.”



Random Jottings from my Notepad by The Elephant's Child

— Tom Sowell: “Socialism, in general, has a record of failure that only an intellectual could ignore or evade.”

—Scott Carpenter was asked: “What did you think about as you were rocketing into space?”
He answered: “That each part of this rocket was made by the lowest bidder.”

—Ralph Peters:  “Obama’s Mideast Policy: Praise Muslims, Ignore Christians, Blame Jews.”

—Charles Schumer: “The only way we’re going to work with him is if he moves completely in our direction.”

— The Iran Deal: There is no deal. Nothing was signed. Iran said we’ll do this. Obama said, fine, we’ll pay for it.

— Monica Crowley: “Government has no profit motive, only a power motive.”

—You cannot spend your way out of recession nor borrow your way out of hard times. Social Security workers per beneficiary: 1960 – 4.9, 2010 -2.8, 2035 – 1.9 (CBO estimate).

— The population of Israel before the Holocaust was 600,000.

—Andy McCarthy: “Nihilism is the key. Today’s hard left is defined by what it is against: the United States, free-market capitalism, and any foreign policy premised on defending American interests or promoting individual liberty. Only this part of the agenda is concrete, leaving neo-communism elastic enough to strike alliances with any movement that shares it. What neo-communists are for, by contrast, is a set of abstractions—”social justice”, “equality”, “redistributive rights instead of the rule of law” and, of course, “our values.” The details of those can be worked out later, once the more pressing imperative of undoing the existing order has been realized.”

—Zero Hedge: “All that debt Obama acquired and all the stimulus did work to redistribute wealth and income toward the well-connected cronies that funded Obama into office. Obama can talk all he likes about cutting taxes for the middle class, the data shows who Obama’s redistributionist policies have overwhelmingly favored.”

—Vaclav Klaus: “The people who are supporting Global Warming are not interested in temperature. They are interested in government control—identical to Communism.”

—C.S. Lewis: “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road: in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”



Equality, Justice, and Freedom by The Elephant's Child

The ongoing war between the right and the left, words and their meanings play one of the most important roles. There is one kind of justice which is represented by the Constitution, our body of laws and the courts. There is no such thing as “social justice.” “Equality” is another. No matter how you try and what orders you issue, you cannot make people equal. We are all different. Some are fat, some thin, some smart, some not. “Equality” is only possible before the Law and all the blather about “feelings” makes that pretty iffy as well.  Thomas Sowell explains:

The 1998 Wriston Lecture:  Thomas Sowell PhD

…The school’s principal flatly refused, saying, “it would be a violation of the principles of social justice” if this boy would collect material above the level of other fourth graders.

A similar conception of social justice was expressed by a long-time dean of admissions at Stanford University. She said that she never required applicants to submit achievement test scores because, “requiring such tests could unfairly penalize disadvantaged students in the college admissions process” since such students “through no fault of their own often find themselves in high schools that provide inadequate preparation for the achievement tests.”

The key phrase here is “through no fault of their own.” One of the recurring themes in discussions of social justice. The conception of justice underlying both these decisions and many other decisions in many other areas besides education is that individual windfall, plus or minus, are not to be allowed to determine outcome. Whether these windfalls are caused by nature or by society, they are not to be tolerated by those with this conception of justice.

Moreover, this is an increasingly accepted notion of justice, at least among political and opinion-shaping elite. Perhaps even more ominously, there is the conception of justice, whose radical differences from traditional concepts of justice are seldom explored.

Traditional notions of justice or fairness involve subjecting everyone to the same rules and judging them all by the same standards, regardless of what outcome that leads to. A fair fight is one in which both combatants observe the same rules, whether that fight ends in a draw or in a one-sided beating.

Even more important than considering the relative merits of these two conceptions of justice is being crystal clear that they are not only very different, but mutually incompatible. John Rawls’ [phonetic] celebrated treatise, “The Theory of Justice,” declares that “undeserved inequalities call for redress” in order to produce “genuine equality of opportunity.”

According to Rawls, this is fair, as opposed to formal equality of opportunity. From this point of view, it is merely a formality, a deceptive appearance to have everyone play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards. When all sorts of social, cultural and genetic influences make the likelihood of success that is called life chances so radically different from one individual to another and from one group to another.

Applying the same rules for everyone in baseball means that Mark McGwire will hit seventy home runs, many other players will not even hit half that many, and some not even a tenth as many. Moreover, McGwire’s huge size, not to mention pharmaceutical supplements, ensure that most other people have no realistic possibility of achieving the same goals. This is just one of the many areas where neutral rules ensure “unjust outcomes” by this particular conception of justice.

As a philosopher, Thomas Nagel put it, the range of possibilities or likely courses of life that are open to a given individual are limited to a considerable extent by birth, which includes not only the social class and home environment into which he happened to be born, but also his genetic endowment. From a moral point of view, Professor Nagel said, there is nothing wrong with the state tinkering with that distribution of life chances, which distribution does not have any moral sanctity.

In this view, to provide equality of opportunity it is necessary to compensate in some way for the unequal starting points that people occupy. In other words, we do not need a level playing field. We need to tilt it the right way.

Putting aside the moral argument for the moment, the clear political implication of this conception of justice is that the state must step in if justice, in this sense, is to triumph. Put differently, the freedom of individuals must be overridden if social justice is the overriding goal.

Freedom and this particular kind of justice are inherently incompatible. When people are free, they will spend their money on whatever the please, whatever goods and services best meet their desires. If they are going to a concert, they will not care whether the singer they like was born with a better voice than other singers who have worked just as hard at singing and therefore are just as deserving on the basis of personal merit. In this and in innumerable other ways, the consumer will judge the finished product and not care how much social justice or injustice went into it.

On the plane from San Francisco I read and enjoyed Shelby Steele’s new book, A Dream Deferred. I bought it because I expected a certain level of intelligence in it expressed with a certain grace and clarity. I did not care if there were other books by other writers who had worked just as hard as Shelby. [Laughter.] Without achieving as good a result. Nor did I care how much of Shelby’s intelligence or writing talent was simply inherited. [Laughter.] Or perhaps might have been the result of his having chanced upon some extraordinary teacher whose course gave him an unfair advantage or other equally intelligent and equally talented writers who had never developed their abilities to the same degree. Through no fault of their own. [Laughter.] None of this crossed my mind when I handed my money over to the clerk at Barnes & Noble.

I might mention, too, that I almost did not get the book at Barnes & Noble, because the clerk could not find it in the computer. [Laughter.] She thought that deferred was spelled with two Fs. [Laughter.] Now, it may well be that, through no fault of her own, [Laughter.] she went to one of those schools which thought that correct spelling was just one of those fetishes that some older, retrograde schools used to go in for.

It is amazing how often the term social justice is used without ever being defined. A historian writing about the founding of Czechoslovakia, for example, said that the policies of this newly formed state after the First World War were “to correct social injustice.” Which he specifies as meaning to put right the historic wrongs of the seventeenth century. Presumably no one from the seventeenth century was still alive at the end of the First World War. [Laughter.]

One of the many contrasts between traditional justice and social justice is that traditional justice involves the rules under which flesh and blood human beings will interact. While social justice encompasses not only contemporary individuals and groups, but also group extractions, extending over generations and even centuries.

When you consider how hard it is to get people to treat each other justly when they are face to face, seeking to produce justice between social abstractions stretching back over the centuries is a truly ambitious undertaking. Intergalactic travel is a modest goal by comparison. [Laughter.]

But again, the real problem is not that this goal will not be reached, but that havoc will be reaped in the attempt. Havoc to social peace, when hopes are raised that can never be realized, and havoc to freedom, as the morally anointed seek to smite the wicked, which must ultimately come to include almost all of us.

The concept of advantages is often thrown around as if the world were just a zero sum game. Undoubtedly, Bill Gates has many advantages that I do not have, but I benefit from Bill Gates’ advantages. All of us benefit from other peoples’ advantages. In fact, using the word advantages as if skills were nothing more than invidious distinctions is a major problem in itself.

One of the big advantages of traditional justice over social justice is that it can be achieved. [Laughter.] Traditional justice can be mass produced by impersonal prospective rules governing the interactions of flesh and blood human beings. But social justice must be hand-made by holders of power who impose their own decisions on how these flesh and blood individuals should be categorized into abstractions. Then, these abstractions forcibly configure to fit the vision of the power holders.

If justice has such different meanings and is so elusive in practice, what about equality? The other great preoccupation of our time. Equality almost defies definition. Numbers may be equal, because they have only one dimension, magnitude. But people have so many dimensions that equality, superiority or inferiority are all virtually impossible to define, except within some narrow slice of life.

Is Milton Friedman equal to Michael Jordan on a basketball court? [Laughter.] Is Jordan equal to Friedman in an economics classroom? [Laughter.] Even with such completely contrasting people, you cannot say who is better without a context. In sports it is common to have voluminous statistics available on almost every aspect of an athlete’s performance. We can win a bet, for example, by saying that Babe Ruth stole home more times than Lou Brock, because such details, statistics are kept for generations. He did, by the way. [Laughter.] I have won a few bets myself. [Laughter.]

The baseball encyclopedia is nearly three thousand pages of numbers in fine print, and you can probably download from the Internet as much or more data on other sports. Yet, every sport is full of controversies about who was the best boxer, the best quarterback, the best jockey, the best goalie, precisely because there is no common definition by which you can settle the issue, even for a given position within a given sport.

Nolan Ryan struck out more batters than Walter Johnson, but Walter Johnson pitched more shut outs. Joe Montana threw more touchdowns than George Blanda, but George Blanda scored more total points. Even though detailed facts are readily available, the multiple dimensions defeat any attempt to say concretely who was better or who was equal. The difficulties of defining equality have not stopped people from defining it, or from shifting from one definition to another as the convenience of the argument requires. We may all agree as to what equality before the law means, and religious people can say that we are all equal in the sight of God, but treating people equally or valuing them equally is wholly different from believing that they are equal in ability. Often the most loved member of a family is a child whom no one believes to be as capable as the adults.

Yet, even something as apparently specific as equal ability is fraught with pitfalls. There has been much controversy as to whether all racial groups or social classes have equal innate ability, but equal innate ability in a genetic sense refers to an intellectual potentiality present at the moment of conception. No one applies for a job or for college admission at the moment of conception. [Laughter.] Just between conception and birth, the mother’s sound or unsound nutrition, smoking or not smoking, drinking or not drinking, all effect the development of the unborn baby, including his brain.

Recently, it has been discovered that the amount of attention and stimulation that an infant gets effects the actual physical size of the brain and therefore becomes a life-long characteristic. Long; well, life-long. [Laughter.] Abstract equality at the moment of conception says very little about how much equality survives to adulthood through many highly unequal influences from the surrounding environment.

If we are talking about concrete ability to do specific things, then equality is a fantasy. How many people with Ph.D.s can repair their own television set? [Laughter.] Or their automobile transmission, for those who do not admit that they have a television set. [Laughter.]

While intellectuals may talk about ability in the abstract, or worse yet, restrict the concept to academic ability, the real world requires a huge, almost unimaginable range of very specific skills and very specific knowledge. These cannot be considered equal in any way. Do we seriously expect Polynesians and Scandinavians to know as much about camels as the Bedouins of the Sahara know? Do we seriously expect the Bedouins of the Sahara to know as much about fishing as the Polynesians and the Scandinavians know? How would Eskimos know how to grow bananas or other tropical crops? How would the peoples of the Himalayas have learned seafaring skills? Geography alone has denied equal opportunity on a scale that dwarfs anything that man can do.

Even more important than the geographic limitations of particular physical environments is the effect of geography in isolating peoples from other peoples. Isolated people have almost invariably been backward people. Few, if any, of the great advances of the human race have originated on isolated islands or in remote mountain communities. The imminent French historian, Fernand Braudel, said that the mountains almost always lagged behind the plains. Even if the same race of peoples, speaking the same language and observing the same customs live in both places.

Seaports have almost always been more advanced than the interior hinterland, whether in Europe, Asia, Africa or wherever. Nor have the advantages of navigable waterways been equally or randomly distributed around the world. One third of the entire land mass of Europe consists of islands and peninsulas, while just one percent of the land mass of South America consists of islands and peninsulas.

One of the most blatant sources of inequalities in particular skills is also one of the most overlooked. People do not choose to acquire those skills, often because they are not interested in the fields in which those skills apply. Milton Friedman. for example, has said that he never received any enjoyment from music. Now, surely a man who can win a Nobel Prize in economics could learn to play a piano, but do not expect anyone to become another Arthur Rubenstein or Ray Charles if he does not even like music. Different people like different things. Whole cultures differ in what they like. How can they not differ in what they do?

In innumerable ways, people differ individually and collectively in the range of skills they have and do not have. With their inputs being so different, how could their outputs not differ? Yet, any differences in performances or rewards are routinely ascribed to society, to bias, or to other sinister forces.

Now, nothing is easier to find than sin among human beings, but making the sins of others the automatic explanation of any group’s economic conditions is as inconsistent with logic as it is wholly consistent with politics. [Laughter.] Politics is highly congenial to notions of equality and equity, if only because these nebulous terms provide politicians with ample opportunities to exercise power and hand out favors to their supporters in the name of high sounding ideals.

Who could be against such notions as pay equity or preventing exploitation or making sure that people receive what they deserve? Yet these and other phrases, including the medieval notion of the fair and just price, assume that there is such a thing as an objective value which third parties can specify. If there were, there would be no basis for exchange on which our whole economy depends.

Imagine that you paid sixty cents for a copy of “The New York Times” on the local newsstand. Why do you do so? Obviously, because you value “The New York Times” more than you value the sixty cents. Why, then does the newsstand dealer sell you “The New York Times?” Because he values the sixty cents more than he values “The New York Times.” [Laughter.]

If there were any such thing as an objective value, one of you would have to be a fool to pay more or to accept less for it. If that objective value was exactly sixty cents, why would either or you waste your time making a meaningless trade that leaves neither of you any better off? You would walk past a newsstand indifferently, and he would pay no attention to you. [Laughter.] The only way it makes any sense for you to exchange with one another is that the same thing has different values for different people. There is no objective value, not fair and just price, no comparable worth, no pay equity.

Now, the fact that something is meaningless or impossible is by no means as great a handicap in politics as it is in economics. [Laughter.] If you can get elected promising meaningless or impossible things, then these things are of great practical value politically. Nor are meaningless or impossible things of no value in the world of the intellectual. Expansive notions on justice and equality find their natural habitat in the seminar room and on the campaign trail. Though, some have also flourished in judicial chambers.

If the only problems with justice and equality were that they are difficult to define and impossible to achieve, at least in the expansive senses in which they are used, things would not be as bad as they are in fact. It is the attempt to achieve what is called social justice and equality of either results or life chances that are dangerous, precisely because we cannot agree on the meaning of such words as justice, fairness or equality.

Some authoritative force must be imposed. There will never be a lack of people willing to wield power over their fellow human beings. The only question is how many of those human beings can see through the words to the realities and refuse to surrender their freedom for the sake of heavy rhetoric. Thank you.

[Applause.]

 

 



Empathy Has No Place In Jurisprudence by The Elephant's Child

Kamala Harris is the new junior California U.S. Senator, replacing Barbara Boxer. She recently published an op-ed explaining why she would not vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. She had previously held office as California’s Attorney General, so her failure to understand the Law is  truly shocking. In a tweet she said:

“Judge Gorsuch has consistently valued legalisms over real lives. I won’t support his nomination. “

“In other words, Harris has problems with Gorsuch because he believes in the rule of law and wants to follow the U.S. Constitution.

Her actual op-ed was also a real treat. After stating Gorsuch was impressive, she offers the same trite and thin analysis of his rulings that has been provided by progressive, social justice advocates.”

…The rest of Judge Gorsuch’s record also shows he’s willing to favor corporations over the American people. He believes companies can impose their religious views on employees and deny women birth-control coverage. And he has been hostile toward federal agencies that protect American workers and consumers.

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights hero who argued Brown and inspired my career, once bluntly defined his judicial philosophy, saying, “You do what you think is right and let the law catch up.” In simple terms, Justice Marshall appreciated that the ultimate goal of the law was justice. By stark contrast, Judge Gorsuch has consistently valued narrow legalisms over real lives. I must do what’s right. I cannot support his nomination.

Senator Harris has the frequent Leftist approach to the law, which is giving us so much trouble. The law is not about feelings, nor empathy, nor sympathy, nor pity. There’s a reason for the symbol of “Lady 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.

As I wrote back in 2015—

“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.

Nobody said it is easy.

 




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