Category Archives: Research and Scholarship

Bret Stephens’ Capitulation To New York Times’ Anti-Second Amendment Culture

The New York Times, to nobody’s surprise, is all-in to assist its progressive compatriots in using  every tragedy involving guns to strip away the core individual right to bear arms.  The op-ed pages and website , have, once again, become an oppressive barrage of anti-gun fanaticism and disinformation. Take this morning, for example. There is Timothy Eagan’s claim that the Second Amendment is a “cancer in the Constitution.” “The Second Amendment,” he writes, in the process of declaring the individual right enshrined in the Amendment abd confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court as null and void, “as applied in the last 30 years or so, has become so perverted, twisted and misused that you have to see it now as the second original sin in the founding of this country, after slavery.”

Other aspects of American ideals, traditions, values and cultures that Eagan’s allies on the Left also consider cancers would include, I imagine, the Electoral College, Due Process (see: the Obama Education Department’s now defunct “Dear Colleague” letter), Freedom of Speech (“Hate speech kills!”), Freedom of Religion,  Equal Protection,  the Commerce Clause and, of course, the requirement that impeachment has to be based on a substantive crime. We get it, Tim: the Constitution is an infuriating roadblock to turning the U.S. and its culture into a clone of Sweden.

Then there is David Brooks, once the token conservative among the Times otherwise leftist columnists until his brain was removed while he slept and thoroughly washed. In today’s exhibit of Brooksian pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook, he bemoans “the left’s massive failure to persuade.” (The failure to persuade in this case is based on an escalating failure to be honest, vilifying adversaries, and the fact that the left’s strategy is based on emotion a biased presumption that the right to bear arms is “a cancer on the Constitution.”) Brooks also begins with that assumption, but as usual buries his motives in false objectivity: he writes, for example,

“The research doesn’t overwhelmingly support either side. Gun control proposals don’t seriously impinge freedom; on the other hand, there’s not much evidence that they would prevent many attacks.”

Then he declares the controversy an “epiphenomenon”—I think I know what that means, but I don’t trust writers who use words like that—to end with,

“Today we need another grand synthesis that can move us beyond the current divide, a synthesis that is neither redneck nor hipster but draws from both worlds to create a new social vision. Progress on guns will be possible when the culture war subsides, but not before.”

Brooks began with the presumption that “progress on guns” means acceptance of the anti-gun position on guns. Of course he did.

The day before, the New York Times’s new token conservative columnist had thrilled the anti-gun Left with his latest column, ‘Repeal the Second Amendment.

He deserves credit in one respect: unlike his liberal colleagues who would kill the individual right to gun ownership by incremental cuts, at least Stephens is honest. His arguments, however, are lazy and shallow. Indeed, the entire piece reads like clickbait , or perhaps something written with an editor’s gun—well, crossbow—at his head.

He writes, “From a law-and-order standpoint, more guns means more murder. “States with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides,” noted one exhaustive 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.”  This is a fake and misleading stat arrived at by including suicides among actual murders. Since 1990, the homicide rate has dropped like stone while gun ownership has risen. “More guns mean more murder” is not even a defensible opinion; it certainly isn’t fact. He should have checked with David Brooks on that.

The whole essay is like this, however, He begins by writing, “I have never understood the conservative fetish for the Second Amendment.” It’s not a “fetish,” and it’s not intrinsically conservative. Belief in the Second Amendment springs from a commitment to individual liberty and inherent suspicion and distrust of expanding governmental power that insists that only the State, and not the citizens it is supposed to serve, should possess deadly force.

In a terrific rebuttal in The Federalist, David Harsanyi writes, “As an American-Jew whose ancestors came here escaping both Nazism and communism, I totally ‘get’ the Second Amendment ‘fetishists.’And when I read columns like the one Stephens wrote today, I definitely get it.”  For Stephens’ argument reduces to “Resistance is futile”–Come on, he asks, how are a bunch of pathetic citizen gun owners going to resist the government? Better to just submit: I swear, we can trust these people! I work with them every day! They only want the best for everyone!” Stephens writes like he has Stockholm Syndrome. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/21/2017: Climate Change Deceit, Jimmy Kimmel, Trump’s Golf Ball Attack, Stephen King, And How to Cover The Left’s Epic Freak-Out

GOOD MORNING!

(he shouted…)

1 When I wrote today’s early morning post about the Sherwin-Williams controversy, with a “hit the ball into the paint can” promotion going horrible wrong thanks to fake news and lying sports reporters, I wanted to use a famous old cartoon based on a sign that hung in the outfield in old Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers used to play. I couldn’t find it online, perhaps because it was 4 am. I just did, however…

2.  For some time, now, as the Left has commenced its nervous breakdown following Trump’s election, I have faced a daily dilemma. The ethics breaches, in civility, in journalism, in politics, have been so over-weighted to one side of the political spectrum that to cover issues based on importance and degree of ethics madness automatically makes Ethics Alarms seem partisan. I resent it, to be honest. The counterbalance is, of course, the President himself, but his brand of unethical conduct hasn’t changed since the campaign, though the Trump-haters never tire of freaking out over the same stuff. For example, after the infamous wrestling tweet about CNN, how nuts can you go when Trump posts a gag video showing him hitting Hillary in the head with a golf ball? Yes, it’s childish, yes, its unpresidential, yes, it shows lack of self-restraint, yes, it’s stupid. But I know and you know, and certainly his haters know, that Trump is childish, unpresidential, lacks  self-restraint, and is stupid. I’ve written too much about it already.

He is not, however, getting worse. Democrats, progressives and “the resistance” are getting worse, as they become more desperate in their derangement. I’m seeing things I didn’t believe possible, like serial child abuser Jimmy Kimmel being held up by the news media as the moral center of the Democratic Party. Jimmy Kimmel is nothing. He is a smug high school grad who has never done anything but perform, often disgustingly, as when he was host of the too-vulgar-to-be-believed “Man Show” on Comedy Central.

He’s never run a business; he’s never studied public policy. He’s a comedian whose signature act is egging on parents to make their kids cry and take videos of them. Ah, but he’ll give Hillary Clinton a forum to deliver her shadow UN speech, and pimp for Obamacare, so that makes him a policy expert. Incredible. Incredible, the depths to which progressives have fallen.

An immature, inexperienced, impulsive President, rather than being opposed, as he should be, by a professional, honest, respectable and responsible opposition party, has instead mutated the liberal establishment into as revolting a presence as he is. This is catastrophic for our politics, our culture, and our society, and that’s why Ethics Alarms devotes so much space to it.

3. Ann Althouse has the sharpest hypocrisy detector around, and she nailed horror novelist Stephen King (I like his novels, some of his movies, and he is a big Red Sox fan) for sending this anti-Trump tweet:’

Trump thinks hitting a woman with a golf ball and knocking her down is funny. Myself, I think it indicates a severely fucked-up mind.

She writes in part, Continue reading

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That Settles It: Time To Clean House At UC Berkeley

An unacceptable percentage of the University of California at Berkeley are more committed to ideological indoctrination and political conformity that they are to American values and education. They need to be cleared out, as do their compatriots in other universities. They pose an existential threat to our democracy, and cannot be entrusted with the education of young minds, which should involve opening, not closing them.

The letter posted by 200 Berkeley faculty members calls for a boycott of all classes and a shutdown of the campus because on “Free speech day,” three conservative speakers will dare to express their blasphemy in a progressive stronghold. The Horror.

In addition to being a per se violation of the principles of a liberal arts education, the duty to give students exposure to as many ideas and views as possible, academic freedom and freedom of expression, the letter is intellectually dishonest. There is no organization known as “alt-right”; it is a description used to marginalize and discredit all conservatives by lumping them in with extremists, racists, white supremacists and neo-fascists. It’s a popular and effective tactic these days on the Left, similar to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s unethical tactic of designating churches that oppose same-sex marriage “hate groups” alongside the KKK. Ann Coulter, one of the conservative speakers who apparently maims with her words, is just a conservative, albeit an especially obnoxious and cynical one. Yet this execrable letter cites as proof that she and her fellow speakers are dangerous a cherry-picked list of isolated and unrelated incidents, none of which are connected to a single group. The exact same technique could be used, and has been used, to argue that all Muslims are dangerous. Moreover, the faculty is implying that those who would listen to Ann Coulter, Steve Bannon, and the professional conservative troll Milo Yiannppoulis, including students,  are too dangerous to co-exist with “good students.” Why? It’s not because one crazy ran his car into a crowd in Charlottesville. It’s because the faculty members believe extreme conservative ideas are too “dangerous” to allow to be expressed.

I wouldn’t move from my dining room to my living room to hear any of those speakers. Calling them dangerous, however, is an excuse to silence them and intimidate others. Continue reading

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The Lesson Of The Harvard-Chelsea Manning Fiasco

I often point out to my ethics classes that when the ethics alarms don’t sound, one can make decisions that result in ethics zugswang, which is the hopeless bind where there are no ethical solutions, only unethical ones. Then the only practical objective left is damage control: determine which course  is the least unethical. An ethical result is no longer possible. It was precluded forever by the original ethics failure.

I can’t think of a better example of this process than the Kennedy School’s botched appointment of Chelsea Manning as a ” visiting fellow.” It was an incompetent, foolish, reckless decision that a half-wit should have known would cause an ugly and unnecessary controversy. What was the school thinking?

I can only speculate. Either the school was looking for “buzz’—it got that all right— , or was trying particularly odious progressive virtue-signaling to the anti-war crowd that still hangs out around Harvard Square clutching their love beads, or most indefensible of all, was giving a gratuitous nod to the current transgender fad. Whichever it was of these, it should have been obvious that the choice was a terrible idea, and it says a lot about the school’s leadership and procedures that nobody in a position of influence shouted, “Wait, are you kidding? Chelsea Manning?  She’s a convict and a felon who leaked secret information to enemies of the United States!” Manning, as I noted in the Morning Warm-Up covering the story, isn’t a scholar, a deep thinker, or a stable or a trustworthy individual. Selecting her was bound to upset other more qualified teachers at the school as well as any American not partial to traitors, and it did. It also devalued every previous fellow at the Kennedy School, by demonstrating that being a Kennedy School fellow wasn’t a credential signifying special talent or admirable qualities. Not if Chelsea Manning qualified, it wasn’t.

The fury over the appointment erupted so vigorously in public, and, I suspect, even more vigorously behind the ivy-covered doors in Cambridge (my mother spent most of her working life at the University, and ended it as Asst. Dean of Housing: the Marshalls know how Harvard works), that the reversal wasn’t as big a surprise to me as it seems to be to some. Nonetheless, the criticism levied by many has justification. Wrote Jonathan Turley, for example,

“The only thing worse than Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government appointing Chelsea Manning as fellow was the school’s withdraw of the fellowship…My concerns are not really focused on Manning but the danger of universities tailoring its academic programs to public opinion. I have written extensively about the hostile environment for conservative speakers on campus. Invitations have been withdrawn due to opposition groups and protests. This case is even more concerning because it was a formal invitation to join the program as a fellow. The invitation and then the withdrawal leave total confusion as to the purpose and academic content of these fellowship positions. Harvard appears to have carefully avoided any principled ground in both the appointment and the withdrawal.”

Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/11/17: Irma and Climate Change Hype; Democrats And Anti-Catholic Hypocrisy

Good Morning!

1 I’m in Boston to address a group of new admittees to the Massachusetts bar today.

2. Broadcast journalists were surprisingly restrained with Harvey, but the second major hurricane in less than two weeks is apparently too much for them, as it is for other climate change shills on social media and elsewhere (I’m looking at YOU, Jennifer Lawrence…which, I admit, isn’t all that unpleasant…)

Thus I am hearing (and reading) more and more claims that Hurricane Irma on top of Hurricane Harvey is the result of the nation’s failure to aggressively limit carbon emissions…as if two (or more) big storms in hurricane season is unprecedented, and didn’t, in fact, occur far more frequently when Al Gore was knee-high to a grasshopper. What does the cynical use of the 2017 storms as propaganda for the gullible and weak-minded tell us?

It tells us that the journalists don’t know beans about climate, weather and the science of global warming. It shows us that they are willing to mislead the public out of dishonesty, bias or incompetence, by spreading what amounts to junk science regarding an important policy issue. It tells us that they can’t resist using their position as reporters to boost what is for them a political agenda, for not one of them has first hand knowledge or genuine expertise regarding whether the earth is warming, how much, for how long, to what effect, and what will actually slow it down, and very, very few of them could explain a climate change model if their lives depended on it.

Finally, it tells us they are stupid. Every time it becomes obvious that the news media, elected officials and others are hyping this issue by using weather as an argument that climate change is occurring, they make skeptics more skeptical, and justly so. When advocates and activists resort to phony arguments and fake facts, it is  fair to assume that they don’t have sufficiently persuasive actual facts, and that they cannot be trusted not to cheat to get their way. Continue reading

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I Am True To My Vow: Once AGAIN, Partisan Historian Douglas Brinkley’s Excuse For Hillary Clinton’s Loss Is Incompetent And False History, And As Long As Ignorant Or Dishonest Hacks Keep Repeating It, Ethics Alarms Will Keep Reminding You That They Are Hacks…Like Brinkley

Yes, yes, I know I have written about this several times already. I will keep doing so, too, until this ridiculous piece of Fake History inflicted on the public consciousness by partisan historian Doug Brinkley when he went on CNN election night and lied, I will keep writing it.

Today’s edition comes courtesy of the increasingly inexcusable fools on ABC’s “The View,” who were engaged this week in a Hillary defeat excuse and alibi orgy. Whoopie Goldberg kept darkly hinting of some conspiracy that allowed Trump to triumph (“We may never know why she lost…” Whoopie intoned), while Joy Behar kept saying that Hillary DID win, as if the elections rules don’t count. They were embarrassing, and they were inartuclate, and they made everyone of their viewers dumber by about 50 IQ points, but never mind: I’m going to focus on this blather, by Whoopie…

“You know, there have been very few eight years of one party and eight years of the same party. It doesn’t generally go back to back. The last time I think was Nixon and whoever came in after him was the last. Ford. And he pardoned. That was the last time we had a long stretch. When it wasn’t Democrat, Republican, Democrat Republican. So given all the crap that Obama had to eat from his own party, I don’t think Bernie was going to — I don’t think any Democrat was going to–people were going to vote –“

If you can translate that—Didn’t Whoopie once know how to speak?—, what is rattling around in her head is Brinkley’s false historical note that eight years of Presidents from one party are seldom followed by the election of another President from the same party. This is not just untrue, but spectacularly untrue. As I last wrote here,

…esteemed Presidential historian Doug Brinkley, for reasons known only to himself, went on the air live on CNN and concocted a new alibi for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. using fake history to do it. He said that there were powerful historical patterns at work in Hillary’s defeat, and that it is always hard for any one party to hold the White House for three consecutive terms. Then, as exceptions to the rule and to show how rare the exceptions were, Brinkley cited Reagan successfully pushing George H.W. Bush on the nation as his “third term,” and then went all the way back to 1836 for his other exception, when popular Democrat President Andrew Jackson got his acolyte Martin Van Buren elected to succeed him.

For days after this, I kept hearing Brinkley’s observation cited by talking heads and my disappointed Democratic friends, yet what he had said was wildly, unforgivably untrue. On election night, I ticked off the instances where one party has held the Presidency for more than two terms on the spot, right after Brinkley’s fiction (much to the annoyance of my wife):

After Van Buren, there were a bunch of one term Whigs and Democrats, but Lincoln’s two terms (the last finished by Andrew Johnson) was followed by Grant for two more, Hayes for one, and Garfield/Arthur for four more years. That 6 straight Republican terms, Doug. Then, three terms later, McKinley was elected to two, Teddy Roosevelt for one on top of the McKinley term he finished out, and Teddy anointed Taft as his successor just as Jackson had with Van Buren. That’s four straight Republican terms, or as we call it around my house, “More than two.”

But wait! There’s more! After Wilson and Mrs, Wilson served out two Democratic terms, we got Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, another three Republicans in a row. Then the Democrats made up for those consecutive runs with five straight of their own, courtesy of FDR’s four and Truman beating Dewey. In short, Brinkley gave the nation fake history, which then became fake news.

Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/8/17: Hybrid Topics! CNN, Hillary, DACA And More…

Good morning, all.

1 The Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative non-profit public interest group that focuses particularly on voting issues, claims to have data suggesting that Hillary Clinton’s narrow win in New Hampshire in the 2016 election—about 2,700 votes gave her the state—may have been achieved by fraud. A study showed that more than 6,000 voters in New Hampshire had used the state’s same-day voter registration procedures to register and vote.  The current New Hampshire speaker of the House, Shawn Jasper, sought and obtained data about what happened to these 6,000 “new” New Hampshire voters who showed up on Election Day. Most of them are no longer in the Granite State. Only 1,014 have ever obtained New Hampshire driver’s licenses. Of the 5,526 voters who have not, just 3% have registered a vehicle in New Hampshire.  70% of the same-day registrants used out-of-state photo ID to vote in the 2016 presidential election in New Hampshire and to utilize same-day registration.

All of which suggests that it would be prudent if a group other than a right-wing advocacy organization did an unbiased and objective study.  Since Democrats won several top races last year along thin margins, notably Maggie Hassan defeating Kelly Ayotte in the U.S. Senate race by 1,017 votes, some Republicans are claiming that out-of-state voters illegitimately tilted the election. Of course, for all anyone knows, the same-day voters may have voted Republican. The episode does compel three conclusions:

  • Same day registration is a recipe for chicanery. I am suspicious of any elected official or activist who supports it.
  • The Democratic/ mainstream media cant that there is no voter fraud is incredible on its face, and manifestly dishonest.
  • The nation’s lack of eager, objective investigators without partisan agendas is crippling. I don’t believe what conservative sources and pundits conclude about the New Hampshire vote, and I find the lack of interest the liberal national mainstream news media seems to have in the story— on Google, I see New Hampshire sources and conservative sources like Breitbart, BizPac, Fox and the Washington Times—gives the story more credibility, not less.

2. For those who are still having trouble accepting that the DACA was an illegal measure as executed by President Obama, I highly recommend the article by Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, who explains why he regarded it as “a flagrantly legislative act by President Barack Obama.”  So did I, but he’s a legal scholar and I’m just a lawyer. From an ethics perspective, my area of expertise, I’m still disturbed at the attitude of the supporters of this Obama’s end-around the Constitution (and others). which can be summarized as, “Let’s see if we can get away with it, because we like the results.” It translates into “the ends justifies the means,” and epitomizes the drift of the Left toward totalitarian methods and philosophy. Continue reading

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