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Professor Thomas Sowell has an astonishing ability to put the most profound truths into words that everyone can understand. In this two-part essay, he explains why Judge Sotomayor is such a danger to America and should not be confirmed as a justice on the Supreme Court.

'Out of Context'
By Thomas Sowell
Syndicated columnist
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In Washington, the clearer a statement is, the more certain it is to be followed by a "clarification" when people realize what was said. The clearly racist comments made by Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the Berkeley campus in 2001 have forced the spinmasters to resort to their last-ditch excuse, that it was "taken out of context."

If that line is used during Judge Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearings, someone should ask her to explain just what those words mean when taken in context.

What could such statements possibly mean -- in any context -- other than the new and fashionable racism of our time, rather than the old-fashioned racism of earlier times? Racism has never done this country any good, and it needs to be fought against, not put under new management for different groups.

Looked at in the context of Judge Sotomayor's voting to dismiss the appeal of white firefighters who were denied the promotions they had earned by passing an exam, because not enough minorities passed that exam to create "diversity," her words in Berkeley seem to match her actions on the judicial bench in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals all too well.

The Supreme Court of the United States thought that case was important enough to hear it, even though the three-judge panel on which Judge Sotomayor served gave it short shrift in less than a page. Apparently the famous "empathy" that President Obama says a judge should have does not apply to white males in Judge Sotomayor's court.

The very idea that a judge's "life experiences" should influence judicial decisions is as absurd as it is dangerous.

It is dangerous because citizens are supposed to obey the law, which means they must know what the law is in advance -- and nobody can know in advance what the "life experiences" of whatever judge they might appear before will happen to be.

It is absurd because it flies in the face of the facts. It was a fellow Puerto Rican judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals -- Jose Cabranes -- who rebuked his judicial colleagues for the cavalier way they dismissed the white firefighters' case.

On the Supreme Court, the justice whose life story is most like that of Sonia Sotomayor -- Clarence Thomas -- has a very different judicial philosophy from hers.

The clever people in the media and elsewhere are saying that "inevitably" one's background influences how one feels about issues. Even if that were true, judges are not supposed to decide cases based on their personal feelings.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that he "loathed" many of the people in whose favor he voted on the Supreme Court. Obviously, he had feelings. But he also had the good sense and integrity to rule on the basis of the law, not his feelings.

Laws are made for the benefit of the citizens, not for the self-indulgences of judges. Making excuses for such self-indulgences and calling them "inevitable" is part of the cleverness that has eroded the rule of law and undermined respect for the law.

Something else is said to be "inevitable" by the clever people. That is the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. But it was only a year and a half ago that Hillary Clinton's winning the Democratic Party's nomination for president was considered "inevitable."

The Republicans certainly do not have the votes to stop Judge Sotomayor from being confirmed -- if all the Democrats vote for her. But that depends on what the people say. It looked like a done deal a couple of years ago when an amnesty bill for illegal aliens was sailing through the Senate with bipartisan support. But public outrage brought that political steamroller to a screeching halt.

Nothing is inevitable in a democracy unless the public lets the political spinmasters and media talking heads lead them around by the nose.

The real question is whether the Republican Senators have the guts to alert the public to the dangers of putting this kind of judge on the highest court in the land, so that they will at least have some chance of stopping the next one that comes along.

It would be considered a disgrace if an umpire in a baseball game let his "empathy" determine whether a pitch was called a ball or strike. Surely we should accept nothing less from a judge.


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'Out of Context,' II

Thomas Sowell
Syndicated columnist
Wednesday, June 03, 2009

As the mainstream media circles the wagons around Judge Sonia Sotomayor, to protect her from the consequences of her own words and deeds, its main arguments are distractions from the issue at hand. A CNN reporter, for example, got all worked up because Rush Limbaugh had used the word "racist" to describe the judge's words.

Since it has been repeated like a mantra that Judge Sotomayor's words have been "taken out of context," let us look at Rush Limbaugh in context. The cold fact is that Rush Limbaugh has not been nominated to sit on the highest court in the land, with a lifetime appointment, to have the lives and liberties of 300 million Americans in his hands.

Whatever you may think about his choice of words, those words and the ideas behind them do not change the law of the land. The words and actions of Supreme Court justices do. Anyone who doesn't like what Rush Limbaugh says can simply turn off the radio or change the station. But you cannot escape the consequences of Supreme Court decisions. Nor will your children or grandchildren.

What does it say about a nominee to the Supreme Court that the most that her defenders can say in her defense is that her critics used words that her defenders don't like?

What does it say about her qualifications to be on the Supreme Court when her supporters' biggest talking points are that she had to struggle to rise in the world?

Bonnie and Clyde had to struggle. Al Capone had to struggle. The only President of the United States who was forced to resign for his misdeeds-- Richard Nixon-- had to struggle. For that matter, Adolf Hitler had to struggle! There is no evidence that struggle automatically makes you a better person.

Sometimes, instead of making you appreciative of a society in which someone born at the bottom can rise to the top, it leaves you embittered that you had to spend years struggling, and resentful of those who were born into circumstances where the easy way to the top was open to them.

Much in the past of Sonia Sotomayor, and of the president who nominated her, suggests such resentments. Both have a history of connections with people who promoted resentments against American society. La Raza ("the race") was Judge Sotomayor's Jeremiah Wright. If context is important, then look at that context.

Sonia Sotomayor has, in both her words and in her decision as a judge to dismiss out of hand the appeal of white firefighters who had been discriminated against, betrayed a racism that is no less racism because it is directed against different people than the old racism of the past.

The code word for the new racism is "diversity." The Constitution of the United States says nothing about diversity and the Constitution is what a judge is supposed to pay attention to, not the prevailing buzzwords of the times.

What the Constitution says is "equal protection of the laws" for all Americans-- and that is not taken out of context. People have put their lives on the line to make those words a reality. Now all of that is to be made to vanish into thin air by saying the magic word "diversity."

The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, like the Constitution, proclaimed equal rights for all, not special rights for those for whom judges have "empathy."

When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was being debated in Congress, its opponents claimed that it would lead to discrimination against white people. Its supporters declared that it meant no such thing and added new provisions to make sure that it meant no such thing. That was the law that was passed.

It was not the law, but the judges, who changed equal rights into special rights and thereby set the stage for the new mantra of "diversity" that trumps equal rights. Diversity was Judge Sotomayor's rationale for going along with the denial of equal rights for white firefighters in Connecticut.

When all else fails, supporters of Judge Sotomayor say that she is Hispanic and a woman, and that it would be politically dangerous to deny her a place on the Supreme Court. This is as much an insult to the intelligence of Hispanic and female voters as it is to the Constitution of the United States and to those who put their lives on the line for equal rights.

For Professor Sowell's wisdom, click here.

TO END THE RECESSION, LET THE MARKETS WORK

Professor Thomas Sowell hopes that the federal governmnent will not repeat the mistakes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that unnecessarily prolonged and deepened the Great Depression.

The stock market crash, which has been blamed for the widespread suffering during the Great Depression of the 1930s, created no unemployment rate that was even half of what was created in the wake of the government interventions of Hoover and FDR.
Gov't Solutions Only Deepened '30s Downturn

By THOMAS SOWELL

With both Barack Obama's supporters and the media looking forward to the new administration's policies being similar to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's policies during the 1930s depression, it may be useful to look at just what those policies — and more important, their consequences — were.

The prevailing view in many quarters is that the stock market crash of 1929 was a failure of the free market that led to massive unemployment in the 1930s — and that it was the intervention of Roosevelt's New Deal policies which rescued the economy.

It is such a good story that it seems a pity to spoil it with facts. Yet there is something to be said for not repeating the catastrophes of the past.

Let's start at square one, with the stock crash in October 1929. Was this what led to massive unemployment? Official government statistics suggest otherwise. So do new statistics on unemployment by two current scholars, Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway, in their book "Out of Work."

The Vedder and Gallaway statistics allow us to follow unemployment month by month. They put the unemployment rate at 5% in November 1929, a month after the stock market crash. It hit 9% in December — but then began a generally downward trend, subsiding to 6.3% in June 1930.

That was when the Smoot-Hawley tariffs were passed, against the advice of economists across the country, who warned of dire consequences. Five months after the Smoot-Hawley tariffs, the jobless rate hit double digits for the first time in the 1930s.

This was more than a year after the stock market crash. Moreover, the unemployment rate rose to even higher levels under both Presidents Herbert Hoover and Roosevelt, both of whom intervened in the economy on an unprecedented scale.

Before the Great Depression, it was not considered to be the business of the federal government to try to get the economy out of a depression. But the Smoot-Hawley tariff — designed to save American jobs by restricting imports — was one of Hoover's interventions, followed by even bigger interventions by FDR.

The rise in unemployment after the stock market crash of 1929 was a blip on the screen compared with the soaring unemployment rates reached later, after a series of government interventions.

For nearly three consecutive years, beginning in February 1932, the unemployment rate never fell below 20% for any month before January 1935, when it fell to 19.3%, according to the Vedder and Gallaway statistics. In other words, the evidence suggests that it was not the "problem" of the financial crisis in 1929 that caused massive unemployment, but politicians' attempted "solutions."

Is that the history that we seem to be ready to repeat?

The stock market crash, which has been blamed for the widespread suffering during the Great Depression of the 1930s, created no unemployment rate that was even half of what was created in the wake of the government interventions of Hoover and FDR.

Politically, however, Roosevelt could not have been more successful. After all, he was the only president elected four times in a row. He was a master of political rhetoric.

If Barack Obama wants political success, following in the footsteps of FDR looks like the way to go. But people concerned about the economy need to take a closer look at history. We deserve something better than repeating the '30s disasters.

There is yet another factor that provides a parallel to what happened during the Great Depression. No matter how much worse things got after government intervention under Roosevelt's New Deal policies, the party line was that he had to "do something" to get us out of the disaster created by the failure of the unregulated market and Hoover's "do nothing" policies.

Today, an increasing number of scholars recognize that FDR's policies were extensions of interventions begun under Hoover. Moreover, the temporary rise in unemployment after the market crash was nowhere near the massive and long-lasting unemployment after government interventions.

Barack Obama already has his Herbert Hoover to blame for any and all disasters that his policies create: George W. Bush.


FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS "RIGHT," AFTER ALL

Once again, Professor Sowell speaks clearly about the growing fascism of the left. This time he shows how the fascists operate in academia. (Hounding Lawrence Summers out of the presidency of Harvard for the unforgivable sins of supporting the return of ROTC to campus and wondering out loud if genetics had anything to do with the poor performance of females in science is another example of academic fascism at work.)


Freedom and the Left
Thomas Sowell
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Most people on the left are not opposed to freedom. They are just in favor of all sorts of things that are incompatible with freedom.

Freedom ultimately means the right of other people to do things that you do not approve of. Nazis were free to be Nazis under Hitler. It is only when you are able to do things that other people don't approve that you are free.

One of the most innocent-sounding examples of the left's many impositions of its vision on others is the widespread requirement by schools and by college admissions committees that students do "community service."

There are high schools across the country from which you cannot graduate, and colleges where your application for admission will not be accepted, unless you have engaged in activities arbitrarily defined as "community service."

The arrogance of commandeering young people's time, instead of leaving them and their parents free to decide for themselves how to use that time, is exceeded only by the arrogance of imposing your own notions as to what is or is not a service to the community.

Working in a homeless shelter is widely regarded as "community service"-- as if aiding and abetting vagrancy is necessarily a service, rather than a disservice, to the community.

Is a community better off with more people not working, hanging out on the streets, aggressively panhandling people on the sidewalks, urinating in the street, leaving narcotics needles in the parks where children play?

This is just one of the ways in which handing out various kinds of benefits to people who have not worked for them breaks the connection between productivity and reward, as far as they are concerned.

But that connection remains as unbreakable as ever for society as a whole. You can make anything an "entitlement" for individuals and groups but nothing is an entitlement for society as a whole, not even food or shelter, both of which have to be produced by somebody's work or they will not exist.

What "entitlements" for some people mean is forcing other people to work for their benefit. As a bumper sticker put it: "Work harder. Millions of people on welfare are depending on you."

The most fundamental problem, however, is not which particular activities students are required to engage in under the title of "community service."

The most fundamental question is: What in the world qualifies teachers and members of college admissions committees to define what is good for society as a whole, or even for the students on whom they impose their arbitrary notions?

What expertise do they have that justifies overriding other people's freedom? What do their arbitrary impositions show, except that fools rush in where angels fear to tread?
What lessons do students get from this, except submission to arbitrary power?

Supposedly students are to get a sense of compassion or noblesse oblige from serving others. But this all depends on who defines compassion. In practice, it means forcing students to undergo a propaganda experience to make them receptive to the left's vision of the world.

I am sure those who favor "community service" requirements would understand the principle behind the objections to this if high school military exercises were required.

Indeed, many of those who promote compulsory "community service" activities are bitterly opposed to even voluntary military training in high schools or colleges, though many other people regard military training as more of a contribution to society than feeding people who refuse to work.

SOWELL: DON'T LET OBAMA DESTROY THIS COUNTRY


Professor Sowell has pleaded more than a few times already for America to wake up and see the danger that Barack Obama represents for this country. HIs final plea is set forth here in full.

Ego and Mouth

Obama’s trademark.

By Thomas Sowell


After the big gamble on subprime mortgages that led to the current financial crisis, is there going to be an even bigger gamble, by putting the fate of a nation in the hands of a man whose only qualifications are ego and mouth?

Barack Obama has the kind of cocksure confidence that can only be achieved by not achieving anything else.

Anyone who has actually had to take responsibility for consequences by running any kind of enterprise— whether economic or academic, or even just managing a sports team— is likely at some point to be chastened by either the setbacks brought on by his own mistakes or by seeing his successes followed by negative consequences that he never anticipated.

The kind of self-righteous self-confidence that has become Obama’s trademark is usually found in sophomores in Ivy League colleges— very bright and articulate students, utterly untempered by experience in the real world.

The signs of Barack Obama’s self-centered immaturity are painfully obvious, though ignored by true believers who have poured their hopes into him, and by the media who just want the symbolism and the ideology that Obama represents.

The triumphal tour of world capitals and photo-op meetings with world leaders by someone who, after all, was still merely a candidate, is just one sign of this self-centered immaturity.

“This is our time!” he proclaimed. And “I will change the world.” But ultimately this election is not about him, but about the fate of this nation, at a time of both domestic and international peril, with a major financial crisis still unresolved and a nuclear Iran looming on the horizon.

For someone who has actually accomplished nothing to blithely talk about taking away what has been earned by those who have accomplished something, and give it to whomever he chooses in the name of “spreading the wealth,” is the kind of casual arrogance that has led to many economic catastrophes in many countries.

The equally casual ease with which Barack Obama has talked about appointing judges on the basis of their empathies with various segments of the population makes a mockery of the very concept of law.

After this man has wrecked the economy and destroyed constitutional law with his judicial appointments, what can he do for an encore? He can cripple the military and gamble America’s future on his ability to sit down with enemy nations and talk them out of causing trouble.

Senator Obama’s running mate, Senator Joe Biden, has for years shown the same easy-way-out mindset. Senator Biden has for decades opposed strengthening our military forces. In 1991, Biden urged relying on sanctions to get Saddam Hussein’s troops out of Kuwait, instead of military force, despite the demonstrated futility of sanctions as a means of undoing an invasion.

People who think Governor Sarah Palin didn’t handle some “gotcha” questions well in a couple of interviews show no interest in how she compares to the Democrats’ vice-presidential candidate, Senator Biden.

Joe Biden is much more of the kind of politician the mainstream media like. Not only is he a liberal’s liberal, he answers questions far more glibly than Governor Palin — grossly inaccurately in many cases, but glibly.

Moreover, this is a long-standing pattern with Biden. When he was running for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination back in 1987, someone in the audience asked him what law school he attended and how well he did.

Flashing his special phony smile, Biden said, “I think I have a much higher IQ than you do.” He added, “I went to law school on a full academic scholarship” and “ended up in the top half” of the class.

But Biden did not have a full academic scholarship. Newsweek reported: “He went on a half scholarship based on need. He didn’t finish in the ‘top half’ of his class. He was 76th out of 85.”

Add to Obama and Biden House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and you have all the ingredients for a historic meltdown. Let us not forget that the Roman Empire did decline and fall, blighting the lives of millions for centuries.



Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution. Over the past three decades, Sowell has taught economics at
various colleges and universities, including Cornell, Amherst, and the University of California at Los Angeles, as well as the history of ideas at Brandeis University. He has also been associated with three other research centers, in addition to the Hoover Institution. He was project director at the Urban Institute from 1972 to 1974, a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in 1976–77, and was an adjunct scholar of the American Enterprise Institute in 1975-76.

Sowell was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2002. In 2003, Sowell received the Bradley Prize for intellectual achievement. Sowell received his bachelor’s degree in economics (magna cum laude) from Harvard in 1958, his master’s degree in economics from Columbia University in 1959, and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1968.

SOWELL: OBAMA CAN DESTROY AMERICA

Few writers on public policy are more respected than syndicated columnist and acclaimed author of works on economics and public policy questions than Professor Thomas Sowell of Stanford's Hoover Institution.

What may be Professor Thomas Sowell's last chapter in his indictment of Barack Obama as a grave danger to America follows. Excerpts:

After the big gamble on subprime mortgages that led to the current financial crisis, is there going to be an even bigger gamble, by putting the fate of a nation in the hands of a man whose only qualifications are ego and mouth?

Barack Obama has the kind of cocksure confidence that can only be achieved by not achieving anything else.

The kind of self-righteous self-confidence that has become Obama’s trademark is usually found in sophomores in Ivy League colleges— very bright and articulate students, utterly untempered by experience in the real world.

Dr. Sowell is deeply worried about the enormous damage an Obama presidency will do. Literally, not figuratively, he can destroy America.

After this man has wrecked the economy and destroyed constitutional law with his judicial appointments, what can he do for an encore? He can cripple the military and gamble America’s future on his ability to sit down with enemy nations and talk them out of causing trouble.
Add to Obama and Biden House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and you have all the ingredients for a historic meltdown. Let us not forget that the Roman Empire did decline and fall, blighting the lives of millions for centuries.

One can be sure this cataclysmic forecast is not made lightly.

Read it all.

For all of Professor Sowell's reasons why Obama should not be elected president, click here or click Sowell in the list of Categories on this website to the right of this column. You can also enter the word "Sowell" in the search box to the right and pull out the Sowell columns previously published on this website.

SowellHead.jpg

Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution. Over the past three decades, Sowell has taught economics at
various colleges and universities, including Cornell, Amherst, and the University of California at Los Angeles, as well as the history of ideas at Brandeis University. He has also been associated with three other research centers, in addition to the Hoover Institution. He was project director at the Urban Institute from 1972 to 1974, a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in 1976–77, and was an adjunct scholar of the American Enterprise Institute in 1975-76.

Sowell was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2002. In 2003, Sowell received the Bradley Prize for intellectual achievement. Sowell received his bachelor’s degree in economics (magna cum laude) from Harvard in 1958, his master’s degree in economics from Columbia University in 1959, and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1968.

THOMAS SOWELL'S INDICTMENT OF BARACK OBAMA

Professor Sowell has written many columns on the grave danger Barack Obama presents to the nation. He, like many others, is despairing of the uncritical media coverage and the acceptance of Obama based on emotion, rather than reason, and how the words, the alliances, the mentors, the history of fraud and bullying tactics, the involvement in electoral corruption and Chicago machine politics, the inexperience, the callousness towards life, the communist/socialist philosphy are all ignored as the rhetoric of "hope" and "change" soars and fills the ears and minds. Sowell calls Obama a demagogue who appears to be on the verge of becoming a successful demagogue, instituting a totalitarian socialist regime entirely at odds with American history and the Constitution that can wreck the nation. Under the Obama regime those paying no income taxes will soon outnumber those who do, thus creating new frenzy of class warfare and higher taxation (which Obama is already promoting) against those who earn and produce. How can economic collapse not follow?

THOMAS SOWELLonObama.doc


SowellHead.jpg

Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution. Over the past three decades, Sowell has taught economics at
various colleges and universities, including Cornell, Amherst, and the University of California at Los Angeles, as well as the history of ideas at Brandeis University. He has also been associated with three other research centers, in addition to the Hoover Institution. He was project director at the Urban Institute from 1972 to 1974, a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in 1976–77, and was an adjunct scholar of the American Enterprise Institute in 1975-76.

Sowell was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2002. In 2003, Sowell received the Bradley Prize for intellectual achievement. Sowell received his bachelor’s degree in economics (magna cum laude) from Harvard in 1958, his master’s degree in economics from Columbia University in 1959, and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1968.

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