Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Obama the “Empath”

One of the most bizarre characters in the huge menagerie of odd creatures in the “Star Trek” corpus is Deanna Troi, counselor on the starship Enterprise in the “Next Generation” series. She is a half-alien “empath” and telepath who can not only “feel” what others are feeling, but read minds, as well. These talents saved Captain Picard and his ship and crew a number of times, and have also solved more mundane episodes of angst and dementia on the Enterprise. She was even able to “sense” the presence of another psychic on a hostile warship from thousands of miles away, somehow allowing the Enterprise to spot and target it for a photon hit. She was a combination séance medium and crystal ball reader.

Believe it or not, the Pentagon’s Darpa division is investigating the feasibility of employing telepathy on the battlefield; to date, the cost has reached $8 million. That is a measure of the state of the culture. It is no longer inconceivable that West Point and the Naval Academy will include tarot card reading and horoscopes in their war-fighting curricula.

Back in the real world, or what he perceives is the real world, President Barack Obama wants to investigate the feasibility of appointing an empath to the Supreme Court. That is, he would like to see someone, preferably from a “minority” (gender optional), team up with the other liberals on that bench to find more often in favor of those whose injured feelings and tort-worthy pain are a consequence of an unjust society governed by a code of laws that allegedly favors the rich and oppresses the poor. He wishes to install someone who, like him, regards empathy more important than facts or the sanctity of contracts or personal responsibility.

Empathy is included in the “traits he admires in a Supreme Court justice…intellect, integrity, respect for the Constitution and the law.” These attributes, however, are just semantic eye-candy spoken by a man who does not embody either intellect or integrity, and who has shown no evidence, given his actions during his first one hundred days in office, that he respects the Constitution or the law. In the real world, in practice, “empathy” in a person would contradict and negate any intellect, integrity and respect for the Constitution and the law he might have, provided he even developed them.

“Obama, preparing to nominate a successor to Justice David H. Souter, has often said that the best judges take note of the real world. By making empathy a core qualification, he is uniting his own eclectic experience as a community organizer and constitutional-law professor while demanding what he has called ‘a broader vision of what America should be.’”

“Six months after he was elected on a promise to change the country’s direction, Obama will be the first Democrat since 1994 to name a new justice. His choice will be informed by his conviction that the United States has become a meaner, less fair society and his belief that the court should play a ‘special role.’”

But, what is the “real world” to Obama? What is his “broader vision“ of America? And what “special role” should the court play? Should it help change the country’s direction, or simply act as a passive imprimatur of the administration‘s collectivist policies?

The answer to all of these questions is easy: It is a Democratic version of a “kinder, gentler America” that is his agenda, or, in other words, an essentially fascist/socialist one whose legal dice are loaded in favor of whoever can claim victimhood, social inequality, need or any other imagined inequity. A society in which no incompetent, parasite or mediocrity is left behind. Not even pirates or enemy combatants or foreign terrorists who attack Americans here or abroad. All may become litigants in the pursuit of “social justice.”

In fact, the whole character of his administration to date -- and there is no reason to think it will ever change -- has been marked by “empathy” for everything but individual rights, reason and freedom, and certainly not for the Constitution or for any objective, reason-based law. He wishes Justice to remove her blindfold, discard her scales, and become a be-robed grief counselor to anyone who can demonstrate his hostility or indifference to individual rights, reason and freedom, or who can itemize all the ways he has suffered because of them.

One of the leading candidates to replace Souter is Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Apparently she does not believe in blindfolds or scales, either. She

“…gave a speech declaring that the ethnicity and sex of a judge ‘may and will make a difference in our judging.’ In her speech, Judge Sotomayor questioned the famous notion -- often invoked by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her retired Supreme Court colleague, Sandra Day O’Connor -- that a wise old man and a wise old woman would reach the same conclusion when deciding cases.

“’I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life…’”

Race and gender are the determining -- and supposedly deterministic -- ingredients that govern her thinking. I say “supposedly deterministic” because that is what she chooses to allow into her thinking.

She’s no Judge Judy. And certainly no Justice Clarence Thomas. The New York Times wrote:

“This month…a video surfaced of Judge Sotomayor asserting in 2005 [during a panel discussion for law students] that a ‘court of appeals is where policy is made.’ She then immediately adds: ‘And I know -- I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. Okay. I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I’m -- you know.’”

No, I don’t know. I doubt if any of the other panelists or any of the law students knew, either. But one doesn’t need to be a mind reader or an empath to make an educated guess. Sotomayor makes it clear what she knows:

“…[H]er remarks at Berkeley, which were published by the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, went further, asserting that judges’ identities will affect legal outcomes.

“’Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultures differences,’ she said, for jurists who are women and nonwhite, ‘our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.’”

She and Obama are on the same pragmatist page. Wrote the Washington Post on May 13 about Obama‘s years as a lecturer on constitutional law:

“Former colleagues and students say he incorporated the real world into his legal approach by asking how rulings would affect people. He explored the Supreme Court’s power, along with its limits.

“’He didn’t seem to really want to talk theory in the classes,’ said onetime student David Franklin….’He wanted to talk about what worked and what the real-world testing of those theories had yielded.’”

Later the Post observes:

“After Souter’s plans to retire became public, Obama spoke of empathy as ‘an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.’ He said he would look for someone ‘who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory.’”

He did not need to look far. Sotomayor is a legacy of President George H.W. Bush, who appointed her to a federal district court in 1991, and of President Bill Clinton, who raised her to the appeals court in 1997. Now she is Obama’s first choice to be elevated to the Supreme Court.

And if anyone doubted that Obama is not only not intellectual, but anti-intellectual, that disdain for “abstract legal theory,” which the Founders absorbed and mastered in order to write a Constitution which Obama swore to protect in his oath of office (but is not protecting), ought to alert anyone that his intentions are not only bad, but intentionally bad.

Understanding others is “at the heart of my moral code,” he wrote in his second book The Audacity of Hope. It is his smiley faced, soft-shoe version of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s, “God damn America.” Obama may have publicly distanced himself from his controversial (and retired) pastor, but morally he is still in that minister‘s congregation. At the hearts of their moral codes, their empathy or “understanding” is symphonious. In the person of Barack Obama, Wright is enacting his hatred of America and his vengeance on it by proxy in his protégé’s march to the same “broader vision of what America should be.”

What do the Republicans and conservatives think of Sotomayor and her telegraphed intention to indulge in judicial activism and gender- and race-flaunting in the highest court in the land?

“Republicans have signaled that they intend to put the eventual nominee under a microscope, and they say they were put on guard by Mr. Obama’s statement that judges should have ‘empathy,’ a word they suggest could be code for injecting liberal ideology into the law.”

It is much too late to worry about injecting liberal ideology into the law. One did not need to exert much effort to “decode” Obama’s disingenuous campaign rhetoric, and one certainly doesn’t need to decipher his statements now, now that Obama is in the White House and has made his ideology all too obvious. American law on all levels of government and the judiciary is top-heavy with liberal collectivist ideology -- how else to account, for example, for the welfare state and the ten thousand commandments of regulatory law? -- much of which the Republicans proposed and helped the liberals make possible over the decades. On philosophical and ideological levels, the Republicans have more “empathy” with Obama and the Democrats than either group will concede. It is the Republicans’ own moral premises which they ought to examine under a microscope.

The Republicans, too, lack any intellect or integrity. If they had any, they would not waste time attacking Speaker Nancy Pelosi for lying about the intelligence community or bothering with any of the administration’s and Congress’s other scandals and peccadilloes, and instead ruthlessly attack their moral philosophy root and branch.

That would require a consistent philosophy of reason, one absolutely and without exception anchored in the real world, but that is what the Republicans disdain and reject, as well, in the name of God and pragmatism. They are the buffoonish Witch Doctor to Obama’s Attila.


Anonymous said...

'Einfühlung' is a widespread obsession of the moderns - I have always held Kant responsible for this for though he approved of empathy the fact that he considered empathy to spring from 'inclination' was too human for him to accept as a maxim. Kant's duty ethics, conversely, are so destructive of any true theory of morality that, 200 years later, empathy is the only value that moderns have left! ;)

Realist Theorist said...

Walter Williams makes the comparison between judges and sports referees. Imagine a soccer ball misses the goal by a few inches, but the referee declares a goal anyway, just because his father was born in Mexico and so was the kicker's. Or, imagine if he bent the rules because he'd heard the kicker had just gone through a rough time outside the field.

Jana von Alpha said...

I am tele(psycho)pathic and (em)pathetic myself. I am reading Obama's mind right now... It's coming through... yes, I hear it now:

"My beloved subjects... give me your alms for the poor, for they are neither blessed with gift of industry nor quickness of mind..."

Anonymous said...

just a thought: what if Sotomayor is a "stalking horse" candidate? who would be the "acceptable" second choice?

Realist Theorist said...

If Sotomayor is a head-fake, I'd like to see Jennifer Granholm. Of the bunch that has been mentioned, she appears to be a middle-of-road type: not a militant left-leaning intellectual, but more of a political savvy player in the middle.

Teresa Hermiz said...

Do the majority of voters know that 8 million of their tax dollars has gone into investigating telepathy of the battlefield? If they cared would they have voted for any candidate who approved of it? Why are we so helpless!?