American Elephants


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.

 



Assigned Reading: Sunday, March 26, 2017 by The Elephant's Child

I hardly know where to start. Let’s begin with Left 3.0″ by Tod Lindberg at the Hoover Institution ( Feb.1, 2013).

The Left’s passion for equality begins with the pursuit of greater economic equality, but it doesn’t end there. The Left has also long been in pursuit of equality in the matter of identity. “Identity” is a concept that substantially modifies the principle that individuals have rights. An identity is something one has in common with others. Identity puts people in groups, and societies have long assigned status on the basis of identity — in many instances, in the view of the Left, improperly so. Some statuses have been improperly privileged, for example, white males in racist and sexist societies. And some statuses have been improperly denigrated, for example, gay men in homophobic societies. The Left has long sought to bring down the status of the privileged and elevate the status of the denigrated. This, too, is the pursuit of equality.

On Sept.27.2016, before the election, Angelo Codevilla wrote a piece for The Claremont Review of Books titled “After the Republic” that was remarkably prescient. It’s long, but worth reviewing for a good sense of where we were:

Never before has such a large percentage of Americans expressed alienation from their leaders, resentment, even fear. Some two-thirds of Americans believe that elected and appointed officials—plus the courts, the justice system, business leaders, educators—are leading the country in the wrong direction: that they are corrupt, do more harm than good, make us poorer, get us into wars and lose them. Because this majority sees no one in the political mainstream who shares their concerns, because it lacks confidence that the system can be fixed, it is eager to empower whoever might flush the system and its denizens with something like an ungentle enema.

In Orbis, Summer 2002, Hudson Institute scholar John Fonte wrote a long piece about “Liberal Democracy vs. Transnational Progressivism: The Future of the Ideological Civil War Within the West.”

Nearly a year before the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, wire service stories gave us a preview of the transnational politics of the future. It was reported on October 24, 2000, that in preparation for the UN Conference Against Racism, about fifty American nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) sent a formal letter to UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson calling on the UN “to hold the United States accountable for the intractable and persistent problem of discrimination” that “men and women of color face at the hands of the U.S. criminal justice system.”

This one I have as a printout. When I called it up, it came as a PDF, and beyond my ability to figure out how to get the text to you. Enter this in your search engine ( Orbis/Summer 2002 /Liberal Democracy vs. Transnational Progressivism ) and you will receive a download. It’s worth your time to grasp just what is going on and where we are.

Ernest Sternberg, professor at the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York, in December 2010 published “Purifying the World: What the New Radical Ideology Stands For” Again, enter this:
https://www:researchgate.net/publication/222675491 ) in your search engine and you will get a PDF download.  From the Abstract:

The past decade has seen the coalescence of a new ideology that envisions social movements in a cataclysmic struggle against global capitalist Empire. Controlled  by U.S. militarism and multinational corporations, in cahoots with Zionism, Empire contaminates environments and destroys cultures. Its defeat will bring about a new era of social justice and sustainable development, in which the diverse cultures harmoniously share the earth. Is this a totalitarian ideology? From fascist and communist precedents, we learn that lovers of renewed humanity are not sufficiently motivated by abstract ideals. They must also identify humanity’s enemy, the cause of all suffering. Equipped with a scapegoat, diverse communities can achieve solidarity through shared execration. (emphasis added)

The new ideology is most clearly identified by what it opposes. Its enemy is the global monolith called Empire, which exerts systemic domination over human lives, mainly from the United States. Empire does so by means of economic liberalism, militarism, multinational corporations, corporate media and technologies of surveillance, in cahoots with, or under the thrall of Empire’s most sinister manifestation, namely Zionism. So far there is no controversy—these points will be readily admitted by advocates as well as critics. … (emphasis added)

Through bundist struggles, “A Better World is Possible” (the World Social Forum’s slogan). That world will be environmentally clean, culturally harmonious, and politically just. The new life’s advent will occur when harmonious, and politically just. The new life’s advent will occur when networked bunds triumph over Empire and purge societies of their toxicity.

Whereas capitalism creates and destroys and is constantly changing, the new order will be sustainable. It will run on alternative energy, organic farming, local food markets, and closed-loop recyclable industry, if any industry is needed. People will travel on public transit, or ride cars that tread lightly on the earth, or even better ride bicycles. They will occupy green buildings constructed of local materials and inhabit cities growing organically within bioregions. Life will be liberated from carbon emanations. It will be a permanent, placid way of life in which economies are integrated into the earth’s ecosystem.

The new world will also achieve cultural purity. By “culture” purification does not mean interesting folkways, nor simply heritage, and certainly not any literary and musical canon. Rather, culture is the offspring of folk-spirit: that mysterious life-source from which identity, meaning and pride emerge. It is found in indigenous life-style, local habitat, feeling of community, and the heady experience of fringe art. Even communities that may have little left by way of traditions can look inward, perhaps just to their shared experience of oppression, for the folk-spirit from which to extract identity and pride.

While global corporations produce the artificial psuedo-culture that serves Empire’s interests, communities possess or can rediscover real culture. These culture-communities are organic in two senses. First, like organic food, they are pure rather than adulterated. Second, they are integral totalities rather than associations of free individuals.

The United States is 1: “the Enemy of Humanity” and 2: Israel also “the Enemy of Humanity. If you search YouTube for Ernest Sternberg, there is a video of a talk he gave largely about how come Israel emerged as the enemy. Also gives you a look at Dr, Sternberg.

I’m giving you a lot of reading. Don’t fail to do it. We have to understand what the hell is happening. It seems quite impossible that anyone could actually believe this claptrap — but that’s why they call it an ideology.  Sternberg says that an early proponent was Hugo Chavez. Yes, that Hugo Chavez. It all is, of course, a kind of neo-communism, or as an essay yesterday in American Greatness  brilliantly called it “Americanism vs. Marxist-Lennonism” derived from John Lennon’s “Imagine”

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man.

The trouble, of course, is human nature. They always find it abhorrent and want to fix it, without the slightest understanding that it is immutable and can never, never be “fixed.” That’s when all the purification dies and they get all totalitarian.



Today was the First Day of the Hearings For The Appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court by The Elephant's Child

If you missed Neil Gorsuch’s opening statement in the Congressional Hearings for his appointment to the Supreme Court yesterday, here’s your chance to hear the whole thing. It was a remarkable statement, and any Democrat attempting to challenge Judge Gorsuch is going to look pretty foolish. It was that impressive. Good Man.



It Is Surpassingly Important that Lefties Feel Good About Themselves! by The Elephant's Child

Popular “virtue-signalling” sign. Completely irrational.

A new report from the Ohio Jobs and Justice Political Action Committee says that sanctuary cities are growing and 36 new locales have been added to the list of nearly 500 sanctuary cities. The group has been tracking sanctuary cities for over 10 years. This doesn’t seem  to be anything  that appears on a ballot, but rather the machinations of city councils—what they  are now calling “virtue-signalling” — or “see what a good person I am.”

What I don’t get is why anyone would assume that being a “Sanctuary City” in direct defiance of federal laws is a good thing, nor why protecting illegal aliens is to be considered admirable.  We have immigration laws. If you want to come to the United States to visit, to work, or to live and/or become a citizen, there are rules to protect both the immigrant and the American people.

Sanctuary Cities announce that because they want to be perceived as good people, they want to ignore the rules and regulations and let those who refuse to follow the law be protected from arrest or detention, no matter what they have done or plan to do. Is that stating it baldly enough? Why would you want to protect people, who have already demonstrated that they have no respect for the law— instead of your own citizens?

The Left likes to play with words, in this case attempting to confuse people’s perception of the difference between an illegal alien, an immigrant, a refugee, an H1B worker, and someone here on a visitor’s visa who has illegally overstayed. 

The same thing is being played out in President Trump’s Executive Order halting immigration from 7 countries selected by the Obama administration for 90 days until vetting procedures can be developed to cope with the absence of official sources in those countries to identify the would-be immigrants. This is not a ban on Muslim immigrants—there are far more Muslims in other countries who are not being banned at all.

These are countries where ISIS and alQaeda are prominent and who have announced that they are sending their fighters into our country to kill Americans. Seventy-two terrorists from these countries have been convicted in our courts.

More than 1800 refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have been resettled in this country in the period since a federal court judge  suspended key parts of an executive order dated Jan. 27 from these 7 nations. Unvetted. But they are refugeeeees! Maybe, maybe not. We can help far more actual refugees if we help them in areas near to their homes simply because it costs a lot more to resettle them here. As usual, what is most important to members of the Left is “a matter of their very flattering vision of themselves as people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited and create social justice” for all.

President Trump has rewritten his Executive Order, which was due to take effect but a Hawaii judge has issued the same sort of illegal halt that a Seattle District judge issued earlier. In this case it is really astonishing. The Hawaii District Judge said that he didn’t need to read the order, but that because Trump had spoken unfavorably about Muslims during the campaign, clearly he had animus against Muslims. He also included the objections of a local Muslim of Egyptian descent  who felt that he was discriminated against in spite of the fact that there was nothing in the Order that affected him in any way. Whew! The Constitution is absolutely clear that the President of the United States can exclude anyone he wants to from entering the United States. The Hawaii ruling will go to the Ninth Circuit which gets overruled constantly because they are so far left.

This is once again the Left, who are furious that Donald Trump won the election, furious that they have been decimated at every level of government, and so devoid of a “bench” that they are reduced to touting Chelsea Clinton, Al Franken and Senator Cherokee Cheekbones as potential candidates.

Democrats know they are in trouble, and have declared total war, and to heck with the Constitution. They are trying to use refugees and illegals to change the demographics of voting districts in a way more friendly to the Left. Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder plan to file lawsuits across the country in districts where lines have been redrawn, or ‘gerrymandered’ by Republicans, to find cause to flip them in a way more favorable to Democrats.

The idea that you can simply reject the results of an election because you don’t like the winning candidate is completely antithetical to American Law and American tradition. It is not a small matter, and should be taken seriously as an attack on the nation by those who do not care about American Law and American tradition.



Democrat Scandal-Mongering Amounts to Nothing at All by The Elephant's Child

Preet Bharara has been the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He was fired on Saturday, since he chose not to tender his resignation as the other U.S. Attorneys did. It is customary for U.S. Attorneys to resign when a new administration begins, as they serve at the pleasure of the president. Naturally this has been picked up by the Democrats, trying to make a scandal out of a normal function of government that takes place in every new administration.

James Freeman explains the dramatic situation at the Wall Street Journal:

At the start of the first week since 2009 in which Preet Bharara will not be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Manhattan residents are jamming local markets in search of emergency supplies of food and water.

Most shoppers are likely responding to a blizzard warning from the National Weather Service. But given the outsize press coverage of Mr. Bharara’s Saturday firing, one could easily assume that New Yorkers, especially those who work in media, are simply trying to cope with a bout of post-Preet depression.

This is another enormous attempt to create scandal out of nothing at all. Pay no attention.



The Decline and Fall of America’s Educational Excellence by The Elephant's Child

While the nation’s budget watchers pour, with horror,  over the numbers involved in student loans, it seems that students are spending their student loan money to have a really good spring break fun-in-the-sun trip. Perhaps that is an outgrowth of the Obama administration’s insistence that every young person should go to college. Or on the other hand, perhaps parents just put too much emphasis on what fun they had when they were in college. Unfortunately, Congress keeps upping the amount a student can borrow to go to college which directly results in colleges raising tuition. It’s a cycle that must be ended.

This comes in the wake of the riot at Middlebury. Students at Middlebury College in Vermont decided they could not tolerate opinions that differed from their own. Actually, they were acting on hearsay about the work of distinguished scholar Charles Murray, that came from sources such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, and they had no idea at all about Murray’s work or ideas. The protest resulted in a faculty member hospitalized. Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal suggests that this event may be a tipping point, though that is not at all sure. The news from our colleges is not, to say the least, encouraging.

Why are the Millennials Protesting?” asks a piece from Townhall.

As for the self-evident, self-centeredness of many millennials, this is partly the result of their upbringing and environment, as they have grown up in a culture of indulgence, a culture of narcissism, a culture of radical, leftist, campus ideology (which often revolves around “my feelings”), a culture of me-focused social media, which finds its ultimate expression in the selfie.

At Pitzer College, there is a current flap about white girls wearing hoop earrings, something claimed to be cultural appropriation of styles that belong to brown and black people. Who knew?

In response to student and faculty activists, Barnard college will divest from companies that “deny” climate change. They have not yet defined what makes one a denier.

Yet the college will not be divesting from fossil fuels in the traditional sense.

Instead, it will take an approach that no other college has taken before, divesting from companies that “deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change.”

Oddly enough, I have never heard of anyone who denies that the climate is always changing. It’s a natural process. Since the activity of the sun controls the warming and cooling of the planet, this does not promise to be a major point advancing the value of a Barnard education.

There has always been nonsense going on in our colleges. There was a time when it was as tame as goldfish swallowing and panty raids, but that devolved into the much more serious protests against the Vietnam War, largely because students were terrified of being drafted. Which in turn ended up with a lot of educational deferments by those who believed a PhD would keep them out of the war, and resulted in the leftist takeover of American education. Since professors help to choose the new faculty,  leftists did not endorse those who disagree with them politically. Add on the Frankfort School and you have today’s campus problems, and Leftist indoctrination of students.

The essence of all the protests and outrage at the injustices of the world, the renaming of college buildings that celebrated someone who once approved of slavery, and removal of statuary of unapproved forbears is on display. The kids are often away from home for the first time, and experiencing new things without much knowledge of either the present or the past, and the colleges are flush with moral outrage, which seems to be catching.  Reason sums it all up nicely in an article titled “Moral Outrage is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists.

When people publicly rage about perceived injustices that don’t affect them personally, we tend to assume this expression is rooted in altruism—a “disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” But new research suggests that professing such third-party concern—what social scientists refer to as “moral outrage”—is often a function of self-interest, wielded to assuage feelings of personal culpability for societal harms or reinforce (to the self and others) one’s own status as a Very Good Person.

The faculty at Middlebury is trying to back down in the face of the riot the protests developed into. Mizzou has had a distinct decline in enrollment, had to shut down some dorms and had a devastating attack on their funding. There are consequences. Faculty and administrators need to start acting like grownups. Bad behavior should not be tolerated, and if the colleges don’t react, their potential customers may well choose somewhere where bad behavior is not tolerated. There is the overall question of free speech, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, not a bunch of adolescent students, but of basic manners and decent behavior.

Education does not involve comfortable wallowing in the same old ideas one brought to the institution. Students are expected to meet startling and surprising new ideas and new approaches to everything. There are no “safe spaces” in life, and empathy and moral outrage are not the path to coming face to face with the real world.
Businessmen are beginning to learn that customers aren’t necessarily in tune with business spouting politics. Organized protests are unneeded. People take their dollars elsewhere. Colleges and universities should be learning the same lesson. Mizzou will not be the only university to find their students gone elsewhere. Parents want their kids to learn, not to be indoctrinated in someone else’s politics.



The Middlebury College Disgrace: Leftism, Ignorance and Hate by The Elephant's Child

Last Thursday. March 2, the distinguished Professor Charles Murray was invited to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont on his most recent book Coming Apart and how it related to the recent election. Plans for protests began to emerge, encouraged by several faculty members. The logic, Dr. Murray says, that “since I am a racist, a white supremacist, a white nationalist, a psuedoscientist whose work has been discredited, a sexist, a eugenicist, and (this is a new one) anti-gay, I did not deserve a platform for my hate speech, and hence it was appropriate to keep me from speaking.”

The lecture hall was filled to capacity, about 400, half of whom had come to hear the lecture, the other half to protest. The protesters had scripts to read from and screamed enthusiastically, but had no idea what they were screaming about. The students got violent, the Political Science professor who had agreed to act as moderator for the Q&A session and ask the first three questions herself, was injured and sent to the hospital.

The New York Times coverage of the incident is here. Largely ill-informed and fake news, they used the Southern Poverty Law Center, described as “left-leaning” rather than far-left (which is more accurate) as an “authority.” The photo shows students reading from their scripts. Here is Dr. Murray’s description of the event from AEI where he is a distinguished scholar. Here is a photo of the lovely Middlebury Campus where the yearly cost for tuition, room and board is a startling $61,046 a year. ($6,000 a month).

My great, great uncle was a Middlebury graduate, probably 1838, though he was ill with typhoid one semester. His room and board cost $2.50 a week in the nicest private homes, and his entire education cost no more than $1,000.

Here’s an interview from Hoover’s “Uncommon Knowledge” series by Peter Robinson, when Charles Murray’s Coming Apart had just come out in 2012. Uncommon Knowledge interviews are long (47 min) but completely fascinating, giving you real insight into the scholar. The book explains how over the last 50 years the culture has changed, and changed dramatically. The Founders said that to preserve the free society they were advocating, Americans must possess certain values: 1. religiosity 2. marriage integrity 3. industriousness and 4. plain honesty.  And we are losing that.  Perhaps for good.  And if we do, we will not be the same country we all have loved.

There must be consequences for the Middlebury students. There is no excuse for such behavior, and such ignorant behavior. How many parents are able or willing to spring for $6,000 a month? How many future employers will look askance at a Middlebury degree? Will parents pull their kids out of school and put them to work? Are there consequences?

I had long looked with a bit of disfavor on Dr. Murray because of his division of people into classes, and I had always believed in an America that was essentially a classless society — yet that is precisely what he is arguing. In Coming Apart. We were essentially a classless society, and we are losing that, and it is unhealthy, and may be beyond redeeming. The protesting students have their arguments essentially backwards. Fascinating arguments. While you can see faint glimmers of where the protesters got their ignorant ideas — they would be far better off to have listened carefully and tried to understand. But our American campuses are no longer places of learning, but devolving into something quite different. And that is a huge loss as well.

ADDENDUM: Here is an essay about the Middlebury contretemps by the editors at National Review. A good piece. ” Charles Murray is used to protests. If he opens a box of Cracker Jack, there is no prize at the bottom, just some Haverford College sophomore calling him a racist. If he were protested any more widely, he’d be the Vietnam War. But, usually he is also permitted to speak, free speech being a two-way street.”




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