Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/8/17: Featuring The Most Depressing Question You Have Heard In A Long Time. I Hope.

Good Morning!

1 Yesterday there was a fascinating article on how the famous opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night” was (perhaps) made. I have been meaning to make a comment about the new Sirius-XM Beatles Channel, which I had occasion to listen to for many hours while being trapped in traffic jams and construction driving back and forth to Virginia Beach and Richmond, and this is a good time to post it.

I have been getting lousy, dishonest, bait-and-switch service and products with such regularity lately, ranging from an investment firm that couldn’t send the proper forms to give me access to my own money, to Verizon, which has been giving me a six-month runaround while its slooooow WiFi breaks down for days, to Progresso soup, which either decided to put what looks and feels like ground up chicken bones in its vegetable soup, or just the can I bought, that I  had despaired of again seeing anything approaching excellence for the sake of excellence  from a U.S. business until I returned to Disneyland or Fenway Park. The Beatles Channel makes the grade. It isn’t just the songs, which would have made the channel a hit all by themselves. Sirius-XM includes scholarship, history, musicology, rare recordings, interviews, celebrity and non-celebrity disc jockeys and cultural analysis, around the clock, with new programming every day. I’ve sat through college courses that were less thorough, and too many courses to count, in both college and graduate school, that were less informative and valuable. There are some things worth paying for, and products that are better than you expected!

2. The New York Times  headline after a hard day’s night for the GOP in Virginia and New Jersey: DEMOCRATS SCORE TWO BIG VICTORIES IN TRUMP REBUKE.

I’m sure it was the koi.

This is flagrant spin and distortion, and unethical journalism. The New York Times should just put “You hate the President, you know you do” on the banner. The Times didn’t call last November’s across the board rejection of Democrats in state house races and Congress an “Obama rebuke,” though it was, and the results in Virginia and New Jersey cannot be fairly pinned on Trump. The two state governors races went pretty much as everyone assumed they would months ago. New Jersey’s result, from a very Democratic state, was a predictable rejection of its spectacularly failed and detested Republican governor, and Virginia’s election of a moderate Democrat over a Republican who tried to both reject Trump while trying to hitch-hike on some of his better positions was predictable as well.

I would also guess that the Donna Brazile revelations about the Democratic Party’s corruption is not on  typical voter’s radar, so the wave of self-hating Democrats staying home that some predicted did not materialize. The Texas shooting, however, probably activated the always vigorous “The Constitution be damned, think of the children!” knee-jerk progressive block to go to the polls.

By now the Times’ routine propaganda tricks are no surprise, but the practice of attaching editorial comments connoting negative implications for the President is neither fair nor objective. But then, the news media knows this: it is attempting a coup by poisoning public opinion. This is the major ethics story—and ethics crisis—in the nation today, and has been so for a year.

3. Now a compliment to the New York Times. Finally, someone wrote an relatively honest article regarding the causes of mass shootings in the U.S. “What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer” is the online version; the print edition headline is “Only One Thing Explains Mass Shootings In The United States.” Both headlines are misleading—the Times has a headline problem—but the article’s main point is correct: “The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”

Not inadequate laws. Not enforcement. Not crazy people. Not crime. Not the NRA.

Just lots of guns.

Thank you.

The Times also correctly hints at—it could have and should have done more than hint—why we have more guns than any other country:

In the process of making a comparison between the US and Switzerland, which as the country with second highest gun ownership rate has far fewer shootings (Fun Facts! Switzerland, like Australia, isn’t the United States, and the Swiss, like Australians, are not like Americans), the Times notes,

“Swiss gun laws are more stringent, setting a higher bar for securing and keeping a license, for selling guns and for the types of guns that can be owned. Such laws reflect more than just tighter restrictions. They imply a different way of thinking about guns, as something that citizens must affirmatively earn the right to own.”

Translation: The United States protects and guarantees the inherent human right to self-defense and autonomy, and Switzerland doesn’t. In the U.S., the wise Founders, government doesn’t have to grant you the right to own a gun; you already have it. Or in other words, Switzerland isn’t the United States. (See above.) God bless America.

The Times continues under the heading “The Difference is Culture”:

“The United States is one of only three countries, along with Mexico and Guatemala, that begin with the opposite assumption: that people have an inherent right to own guns.The main reason American regulation of gun ownership is so weak may be the fact that the trade-offs are simply given a different weight in the United States than they are anywhere else.”

May be”? That’s exactly why Swiss-style “regulation”—as in “We tell you if you can own a gun and what kind of gun you ‘need., Citizen!”—isn’t an option in the U.S. The Constitution also gives the right to speech a different “weight” than other cultures do, and the amount of certainty required to send someone to prison, and when the police can search your home, and many other examples where this nation and this culture insists that individuals and individual rights come first, not government power. The fact that the United States accepts the costs of individual liberty is what makes it the United States.

There are so many guns in the U.S. because Americans like guns, and in this country, people generally can make and get what they like. They should like guns: the United States,more than others, owes its existence to guns. Our most popular entertainment involves guns. Most of all, the #2 mandate in the Bill of Rights guarantees that every citizen begins life with the right to own guns.

Mass shootings are a side effect of the Second Amendment and the core individual right to be armed. The only way to reduce such shootings is to eliminate that right and confiscate guns. Either the currently vocal anti-gun zealots understand this and are lying, or they don’t, and are ignorant.

[The National Review has some legitimate criticism of the Times data analysis, but it doesn’t affect the validity of the Times general conclusion.]

4. Here’s the depressing ethics note of the day, or perhaps the year. On the first day of jury deliberations at the bribery trial of Senator Robert Menendez, a juror asked the judge a basic question: “What is a Senator?”

I guess a necessary voir dire question or two was omitted by the lawyers .

The judge should disqualify that juror.

55 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/8/17: Featuring The Most Depressing Question You Have Heard In A Long Time. I Hope.

  1. Then there’s this headline from New York Magazine:

    “The Anti-Trump Wave Has Come, and Republicans Can’t Stop It.”

    Surf’s up, I guess.

  2. On Menendez, from what I understand it was not an idiot juror asking “what is a Senator” but rather a real issue as to whether a NJ Senator was doing his job by helping a Florida contributor, which led to a reference to the definition of a “Senator” in the defense closing argument. The juror wanted clarification on the closing argument. See article below.

    • But it’s still a stupid question. Whatever the lawyer said, and the judge was correct not to repeat it, every American is obligated to know what a Senator “is.” It’s not a complicated definition, either. A Senator represents no one citizen more than another, and must not be “bought.” He or she makes laws, and fulfills the duties as delineated in the Constitution, which defines “Senator,” not some defense lawyer’s spin.

  3. From the National Review article

    We shouldn’t care about “gun murders” or “mass shootings”; we should care about murders in general and mass killings in general, regardless of how they’re accomplished. (Up to a point it’s essentially tautological to claim that more guns translates to more problems with guns, because a society with no guns by definition cannot have any problems with them.) As I’ve noted numerous times before, there is no simple, consistent correlation between gun ownership and murder or homicide rates in general, either among developed countries or among U.S. states. More sophisticated studies face a variety of serious methodological obstacles — I don’t find any of them that compelling — and have reached varying conclusions. The research on mass shootings in particular is in an even more primitive state.

    Read more at:


    It’s called statistics bro. There are over 330 million people in this country, and the media beats every one of these stories to death. Mass
    shootings are a non issue, and the overwhelming majority of shootings in
    this country and black and hispanic gang members
    . If you want to “solve” gun
    murders then go deal with crack head gangsters in LA and Chicago and leave
    the 99.99999% of responsible gun owners alone.

    The United States protects and guarantees the inherent human right to self-defense and autonomy, and Switzerland doesn’t. In the U.S., the wise Founders, government doesn’t have to grant you the right to own a gun; you already have it. Or in other words, Switzerland isn’t the United States. (See above.) God bless America.

    Another thing the U.S. has is the 4th Amendment.

    There are arguments that the U.S. should get rid of the 4th Amendment.

    After all, no court has ever thrown out a murder conviction on 2nd
    Amendment grounds, while murder convictions have been overturned on 4th
    Amendment grounds.

    It would seem that the 4th is more dangerous than the 2nd, as it has a
    much greater potential to let criminals, including murderers, get away with
    their crimes.

    And what about the 14th. Half of all murders are committed by black
    people, so with the 14th out of thr way, imagine what the police can do to
    suppress murder.

    What would we lose if those amendments were abolished?

  4. “There are some things worth paying for, and products that are better than you expected!”

    I agree, regarding the Sirius-XM Beatles Channel – truly makes the tedious drives worthwhile. The problem for me? It only plays in my wife’s car.

  5. I checked out Mexico’s gun law and it has some severe limitations that few would put up with except the left in the USA. For one if you are a Mexican citizen or permanent resident, you can own guns but you have to keep them in your home (home defense weapons) which concealed carry or “pistol packin” outside your home prohibited. Exception are made for body guards and the military of course.

    • And that prohibition for concealed carry outside the home is working very well in Mexico, evidenced by the very low firearm murder rate.

  6. 3. Jack, I hope you don’t mind that I repeat a comment I made yesterday:

    Americans are never going to give up their preferred sex, their abortions, their booze, their marijuana, or their guns. Case closed. The gun-ban fools may as well try banning motor vehicles and battery-powered devices.
    _ _ _
    To elaborate just a bit: Surely, heavy-handed (and corrupt, inept) government will make efforts to minimize the future number of guns in the hands of “non-government” personnel within governed territory – and perhaps, in some future time, will succeed in doing so, even with the unquestionably overwhelming approval of the governed.

    Thus will that future government’s elites take credit for the “sea change” and “historic reformation” of “American values and behavior” to “a more civil populace.” But, there will still be guns – lots of guns – and lots of people using them to commit all sorts of crimes, including mass murders of random victims. So everybody will feel good as they continue to have their preferred sex, and abortions, and booze, and marijuana – except for the ongoing crime.

    All the new virtues will…no, they probably won’t…be signaled to and fro, like they are today. (Government pre-approved virtue-signaling, though, will reach new record highs every week.) People will just be doing something – actually, LOTS of “somethings.” The homes, the streets, the public places of the “new,” Gun-Controlled ‘America'” will be one hell of a lot more dangerous and deadly than they are today.

    But, not to worry – government will fix everything.
    Forget “thoughts and prayers” (most of those will be banned, anyway).

    • I fear you are right but I do not fear for myself. I fear for future generations, my future generations, who will live in this new America with no knowlege of what it is like to have freedom of thought and all the other freedoms we take for granted today.

        • Come on, Jack. We’ve both lived long enough, seen most of the same things, and we see the same trends of decay and irreparable damage with clear vision. In these times, “pessimism” is simply a reasonable projection, not a “disease.” Gad! Denial is not an effective first step for dealing with any problem.

          • I don’t see what you think you see. The resilience of the American idea is more resilient than you think. One reason is that it is right, and it works. That’s a huge advantage. And when you say you think Hillary will be the nominee in 2020, which is exactly as likely as the Democrats nominating William Henry Harrison, and he’s dead AND a Whig, I see that you are in the grip of panic and hysteria.

            • “I don’t see what you think you see.” Dittos, but I can’t begrudge your being hopeful. It doesn’t require panic and hysteria to see one party’s determination to cram down one particular candidate on the voters – again. But, okay, I will make this promise: I will participate no longer here in any commentary about Democrat party nominees for POTUS in 2020. See? Your new day is looking brighter already. Good Morning!

              • I don’t think anyone should participate in such speculation until at least 2018. At this point in the last cycle, the current President was considered as likely a nomination as Homer Simpson, and twice as objectionable. At this point before the 2008 election, everyone thought Hillary was a lock…again. Barack Obama? Who’s he? In the 1963 New Hampshire primary, the big news was that Henry Cabot Lodge got so many write in votes. Barry Goldwater wasn’t yet a twinkle in the GOP’s eye.

                • I think speculation, polling, and the numbers/statistics games played by the parties (and especially the DNC) are particularly nefarious for Republics.

                  Quit playing sabrmetrics with the future of the nation and argue PRINCIPLES and let the people decide and QUIT WARGAMING THE WHOLE MESS – it skews the outcome.

                  • Both the doomsayers and the whistlers past the graveyard are basing their opinions on ambiguous data. As has been pointed out, Northam’s 9 point victory margin in Virginia and Murphy’s 13 point margin in New Jerseyalmost precisely mirrored the 2016 presidential results. Hillary Clinton carried New Jersey 55 to 41 percent; Murphy won it by 56 to 43 percent. Clinton carried Virginia 50 to 44 percent; Northam won it 54 to 45 percent. The two Democrats, lacking Clinton’s reputation for dishonesty, gained a few points she lost to third-party candidates; the two Republicans got almost exactly the same percentages as Trump. It’s not surprising that the President hasn’t picked up support, given non-stop efforts to frame his ever words and act as an impeachable offense. This is undoubtedly a problem for Republicans—a news media dedicated to bringing down a President based on partisan bias—as is Trump’s ugly style and manner, which has the Cognitive dissonance scale working against him 24-7.

                    Still, I live in Blue-central in Virginia, which was the backbone to Notham’s win. Half the offices on the ballot had no GOP candidate. Gillespie alienated mainstream Republicans by using some Trump talking points, but Trump supporters regarded him as a Bush leftover, which he is. This just isn’t a bellweather.

            • A miniscule segment of the population then even went to college, let alone a of that miniscule segment I’d submit most didn’t prefer communism.

              The modern generations that have been convinced college is essential and so flood those Leftist Seminaries in droves are coming out of them, with swathes of their ranks convinced of the superiority of that socialist system.

              I think there is a distinct difference in quantities of true believers.

              • You can’t have a true believer, though, if the belief is based on misconceptions. To these kids Communism is like Camelot. The Occupy fiasco was part and parcel of the myth swallowing.

                • Yes, but just because they are stupid, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t vote in a system they know nothing about at the first chance it came up. And then, once thoroughly educated on it’s evil, it would be to late.

  7. Trying to give myself a reason to laugh today (besides the New York Times’ assuredness that the Democrat Party has now, as of last night and per the results of voting for two elected offices, re-conquered all politics in Ameri-la-la-la-la-la-rica)…I thought of a more depressing question: What is a chord?

    • They’re just calling on the little used clause in Paragraph 2, Section 4, Article II of the Constitution. This little know paragraph defines several ways other than impeachment by which the President may be removed from office. Line 4 describes the “Primal Scream” as one of the means available to the People.

      This is all due to their failed attempt to invoke Line 3, that is:

      “[The President]…shall be removed from office upon blocking by the Assembled People of no less than 2/3rds of American Highway On-Ramps”.

      (if you recall, the protesters came woefully short, only blocking 4-6% of American Highway On-Ramps.)

        • Well, the language used in the 18th century is a little confusing, but it seems (and several Constitutional scholars have conflicting views on this) it seems, that the Founders had enshrined some sort of hashtag campaign as a potential removal power against the Presidency.

          • “[T]he Founders had enshrined some sort of hashtag campaign as a potential removal power against the Presidency.”

            Meme wars, too.

            • “An out of control Commentariat, being necessary to the barbarization of a cynical and snarky State, the right of the people to keep and bear Memes, shall not be infringed.”

              It’s in the Constitution.

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