Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/15/18: Money, Massacres, Mudd And More

Good morning.

1. Another mass shooting, another explosion of demagoguery. Reading various rants from usually smarter Facebook friends after one of these mass shootings—there is now literally no difference in the reactions or the rhetoric; it’s like a TV show re-run—is just boring and annoying at this point. I wrote to one, a lawyer, who had immediately erupted into furious insults hurled at the NRA, Republicans, and the President, followed by lots of “likes’ and near identical blather, in the wake of the Parkland shooting yesterday:

“Anyone making the anti-NRA argument is obligated to articulate exactly what regulations not already in existence would have stopped the Florida shooting. Banning guns and confiscating guns are not going to happen, can’t happen and shouldn’t happen, and anyone who claims they can is being ignorant or dishonest. The reflex response of anti-gun advocates is to appeal to anger and emotion every time, usually, as in this case, without even knowing all the facts. So they get tuned out, and deserve to get tuned out, as do grandstanding demagogues like Sen. Christopher Murphy. “Do something!” is not a policy, and removing rights from law-abiding citizens because crazies and criminals abuse those rights is neither just nor practical.”

I’ll report if he or any of the “Do something!” and “Think of the children!” hysterics respond with something constructive.

Murphy was, as usual, on his feet and making his time-tested facile argument about how “this happens nowhere else” before the full information regarding what had happened was available. Yes, Senator, this happens more often in the United States because this country values individual liberty more than other nations, and because, so far, at least, we don’t take away individual rights because we know rights will be abused. We also don’t lock up people who act and talk crazy based on mere words because we think they might commit a horrible crime. THAT was a civil libertarian-led reform and a noble one, back when the Left believed in the rights of individuals, unlike now. Once, when people like the Parkland shooter started scaring people, we just committed them, and they could spend decades or a lifetime  loaded-up with Thorazine and locked  away in padded rooms. My great uncle was such a man. After about 50 years, the doctors decided that he had never been crazy after all, but by then he couldn’t function outside the institution, so they let him stay. He never shot anyone, though, so there is that.

I have a suggestion to Murphy and his colleagues, however, as well as to the mainstream news media that is revving into its usual anti-gun act.  The most productive thing they could do might be to reduce the hateful, angry, fear-stoking rhetoric that they have bombarded the nation with for over a year. I believe that the atmosphere of constant conflict and uncertainty, along with non-stop accusations and allegations of dark forces lurking and preparing to pounce may make some unstable people more likely to snap and adopt the Sweeney Todd philosophy, in the words of Stephen Sondheim:

They all deserve to die.
Tell you why, Mrs. Lovett, tell you why.
Because in all of the whole human race
Mrs. Lovett, there are two kinds of men and only two
There’s the one staying put in his proper place
And the one with his foot in the other one’s face
Look at me, Mrs Lovett, look at you.

No, we all deserve to die
Even you, Mrs. Lovett, Even I.
Because the lives of the wicked should be made brief
For the rest of us death will be a relief
We all deserve to die.

2. Mudd doesn’t deserve to die, just to be fired. CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd broke down on the air sobbing last night while discussing the school shooting on CNN, blubbering,

“I have 10 nieces and nephews. We’re talking about bump stocks, we’re talking about legislation. A child of God is dead. Can not we acknowledge in this country that we cannot accept this?…I can’t do it, Wolf,” he then said to his host, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “I’m sorry, we can’t do it.” Blitzer then cut away to a different analyst.

If you can’t do it, you self-indulgent hack, then stop appearing on television. It’s called “professionalism.” Professionals are supposed to be able to do their jobs without being incapacitated by emotion. News professionals are obligated to be able to inform the public about tragedies without falling apart. That wasn’t analysis. That was virtue-signalling and grandstanding. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Mother Jones Pundit Kevin Drum

Impalings-of-Vlad-the-Impaler

It is sad and yet somehow comforting to watch the members of the crypto-totalitarian left writhe like Vlad the Impaler’s staked victims (above) as they try to deny, accuse, spin and otherwise humiliate themselves arguing against the factual assertion that the  anti-gun “no-fly list” = no gun rights ploy is blatantly unconstitutional, a breach of due process, and “pre-crime” legislation. It is sad, because it shows how far liberal ideology has fallen from its traditional aspirations, and how hypocritical it has become, embracing the “by any means necessary” approach to political power rather than actually respecting the civil rights it claims to worship. It is comforting, because it is signature significance. I thought much of the progressive movement  had become this corrupt and intellectually dishonest; now I know I wasn’t being unfair. This single episode proves it.

There is an ethical response to be adopted by someone previously cheering on the foolish Senator Murphy, or the smugly ignorant Ashleigh Banfield, once they are forced to think a bit about what these secret list tactics really mean in Constitutional terms. They don’t have to attack the messenger, often me, or make non sequitur statements about the Second Amendment is about muskets and militias. That ethical response is, “Oh. You know, I was so upset, I never thought about it that way, but you’re right. Wow. Thank-you.”

Most of them just can’t do it. It may be a lack of character, it may be a case of emotion killing brain cells, it may just be that an individual isn’t very bright, or that he just doesn’t want to be educated. That is, however, the ethical response.

If my floundering, foundering progressive friends want some inspiration to get them over the hump, I may have it for them, ironically from, of all places, Mother Jones, whose due process -mocking headline I recently dissected. That far left publications’ most prominent journalist is Kevin Drum, a progressive to his core. He is, however, also well-informed, intelligent, and true to his principles, and thus, while reporting on the various anti-gun measures being proposed as part of the cynical Democratic “DO SOMETHING!” initiative regarding guns, Kevin Drum wrote, Continue reading

Unethical Headline Of A Week Of Unethical Headlines: Mother Jones

Senate vote

Almost Every GOP Senator Just Voted to Keep Letting Terror Suspects Buy Guns

You know, I just had an astounding and depressing exchange with a knee-jerk Democrat friend, who reacted to my Facebook post pointing out that CNN’s fake legal expert Ashleigh Banfield—who hosts a show called “Legal Views” and not only isn’t a lawyer, but can barely spell “Constitution”—displayed her rank ignorance once again by expressing amazement that anyone could possibly object to a law banning those placed without due process on a secret list, based on mere suspicion, from buying a gun. It’s called the Fifth Amendment, Ashleigh, you smug incompetent fool–read it. My friend’s response to this utterly factual post was the non sequitur that SCOTUS refused to review a lower court decision upholding a Connecticut law banning semi-automatic rifles. “The Supreme Court disagrees with you,” he wrote.

Huh?

You see, the left is deranged and incoherent on this issue. Totally bats, with principles draining out their ears. Because I object to breaching the core Constitutional principle of due process for any purpose–like every American should; it’s not a partisan issue—he “reasoned” that I must therefore believe that there is a right to own semi-automatic weapons. In fact, I have no position on that and didn’t mention it anywhere in the post. But, you see, good little gun-hating zealots like him believe that if you understand that Guns BAD, you must naturally approve of gutting the rule of law and the Constitution to restrict the sale of guns.  If you won’t happily gut the Fifth Amendment, you must be a gun nut.

The ends justify the means for these people. Constitutional principles only apply to good progressives and their favorite rights. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Popehat Lawyer/Blogger/Individual Rights Defender Ken White, Saving My Head

Duct tape doesn't work. Ken White's candor does.

Duct tape doesn’t work. Ken White’s candor does.

“What the Democrats are really saying is, ‘Because this restricts gun rights, we don’t give a shit. And before, to be honest, the Republicans and most of the Democrats would say, ‘Because this is related to terrorism, we don’t give a shit.’ I’m disgusted with them all.”

California lawyer and former federal prosecutor Ken White, the erudite, occasionally vulgar, clear-eyed and courageous head blogger at Popehat, sparing no venom in describing the current push by Democrats to allow the government to remove a citizen’s Second Amendment rights based on suspicion only.

Thank heaven, not for the first time, for the great Ken White. I had just turned off CNN this morning in an effort (successful!) to keep my head from exploding after watching CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, David Gregory and others disgrace themselves; they were all calling the unconstitutional bill allowing the Feds to take away the right to purchase a gun of those the FBI has placed on the “no-fly list,” now being supported by Democratic Senators Diane Feinstein of California, Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, “mild,” and “reasonable,” while noting that “some conservatives” had raised “due process concerns.” Really? Those bloodthirsty, gay-hating, child-hating, gun-worshiping conservatives think that allowing the government to remove Constitutional right unilaterally based on their suspicion alone violates the Fifth Amendment? What’s the matter with them?

Then, just in time, as I felt a deep ominous, rumbling inside my skull that reminded me of Sensurround, I read Ken’s bullseye of a quote, which came in an interview and not in a Popehat blog post, here. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Karl-Murphy Exchange On Gun Regulations And Orlando

Murphy

Here is the interview ABC interview with Senator Chris Murphy (D-Ct)as it transpired on today’s This Week on ABC. The interviewer and substitute host was one of the few journalists, Jonathan Karl (Jake Tapper and Ed Henry also qualify; there are a few others) who at least strive for objectivity and don’t see themselves as Democratic party allies….

KARL: That’s Connecticut senator Chris Murphy. He spent 15 straight hours on the Senate floor this week demanding that Republicans hold votes on gun control measures and Senator Murphy joins us here right now. So, Senator Murphy, you are getting those votes on Monday. Tomorrow. But are you going to have to look those families in the eye once again and tell them that you have failed? Because those bills are not going to pass. None of them.

CHRIS MURPHY: Well, we’re going to work hard, over the weekend, on the bill that stops people on the terrorist watch list to from getting guns. I admit the background checks bill will be tough to get 60 votes on. But, we have hope we can get Republicans to support the bill stopping terrorists from getting weapons.But listen, I think something important happened last week. It wasn’t just 40 Senators came to the floor and supported my effort to get these votes. There were millions of people all across the country who rose up and who joined our effort. And what we know is, ultimately, the only way to win the issue is by building a political infrastructure around the country that rivals that of the gun lobby. And so, I’m still hopeful we’re going to be able to get votes. I know there are also some compromise negotiations happening that may bear fruit. But, in the final analysis what many be most important is that our filibuster helped galvanize an entire country around this issue.

KARL: But you’re specifically pushing a bill and have been pushing the bill, and it will be voted on on Monday, to close the so-called “gun show loophole.” Would that have done anything to stop the massacre in Orlando?

MURPHY: So, it may have in the sense that if you partner with a bill that stops terrorists from getting guns.—

KARL: But wait a minute. He didn’t buy those guns at a gun show. And he would have passed the background check. He did pass a background check.

MURPHY: He did pass a background check. But, if the Feinstein bill was in effect, the FBI could have put him on the list of those prohibited from getting guns. What if he went into the gun store and got denied, he could have gone online, or to a gun show, and bought another weapon.

KARL: Okay, but what I’m trying to get at is, we hear every time there’s one of these terrible tragedies there are proposals. Your proposal would have done nothing in the case of Orlando, it would have done nothing to stop the killing in San Bernardino. And in fact, it was unrelated to the killing in Newtown. So why — why are we focusing on things that have nothing to do with the massacres we’re responding to?

MURPHY: So first of all, we can’t get into that trap. I disagree, I think if this proposal had been into effect it may have stopped the shooting. But we can’t get into the trap in which we are forced to defend our proposal simply because it didn’t stop the last tragedy. We should be making our gun laws less full of Swiss cheese holes, so that future killings don’t happen. That trap in an impossible one. The Sandy Hook families lobby for background checks. You know why? Because they are just as concerned with the young men and women who are dying in our cities because of the flow of illegal guns, as they are about a ban of assault weapons, or high magazines clips that might have prevented the Newtown killings. So, this has to be broader that just responding to the tragedy that happened three days ago.

KARL: But, why can’t Congress pass things there is obvious agreement on. For instance, the question of the terrorist watch list. There is opposition to banning gun sales for people on that list. People have constitutional concerns. But why can’t you simply pass a provision that says that, “anybody who’s on a terrorist watch list or has been on a terrorist watch list for the last five years, tries to buy a gun, the FBI is automatically notified?” I mean at, at least they can follow the person, track the person. Why can’t Congress at least do that?

MURPHY: Well first of all, does the FBI have the resources, I mean that’s a question, to take those notifications, especially if the individual walks out of the store with the gun, and stop the killing before it happens? It would be much more effective to make sure the individual [doesn’t] get the gun, rather than to make the FBI go find him after he gets it.

Ethics Observations:

1. Bravo, Jon Karl. I don’t think Murphy was prepared for these questions, which were as necessary as they were obvious, but not something a good, compliant, Democrat, anti-gun lackey is supposed to ask. The news media is biased, but it isn’t always biased, and not all journalists are partisan, at least not all the time. I can’t call Karl an Ethics Hero for just doing his job the way journalism schools say it should be done, but he certainly is an exemplar.

2. The cheers and accolades sent Senator Murphy’s way because of his filibuster were sad. He was grandstanding; I kept trying to explain that to people as they called him a hero. A more cynical, misleading stunt would be hard to imagine. It was a direct appeal to the emotional “Do something, anything!” crowd, with the intention of being able to blame Republicans when none of his ineffective or unconstitutional measures were passed. This make any accord on gun regulations less likely, not more.

Some hero. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: CNN’s Jake Tapper

Light in the darknessNot all non-conservative media journalists are working to assist Democrats in their frantic damage control now that their epic contempt for the democratic process, transparency, truth, and the American public has been exposed by the videotaped crowing of paid manipulator Jonathan Gruber.

When junior Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy (D) did his part by following the current game plan and attempting to dismiss Gruber as a footnote by tweeting…

“It’s sad to me that good political journalists are spending so much time on these irrelevant comments by this guy Gruber”

…CNN anchor Jake Tapper shot back in a tweet of his own,

“@ChrisMurphyCT respectfully, it’s sad to me that some politicians would claim the comments are irrelevant”

Tapper was using the device of ironic parallel construction, but it’s more than sad, it is horrifying. An insider who was crucial to the drafting of Obamacare admits that the Administration’s objective was to mislead the Congressional Budget Office and deceive “stupid voters,” and now the party that paid him $400,000 is covering up with a series of rationalizations, denials and lies. This is the fourth of the defenses apparently being emailed to all loyal Obamacare defenders from the high command.

First we have the rationalization: “Everybody does this with bills..it’s no big deal.”

Second is the brazen lie, or the Jumbo: “We were completely transparent!”

Third is the totalitarian mantra, “Hey, it was the only way, and it was worth it!” (The ends justify the means.)

The Fourth: airbrushing history, the Nancy Pelosi amnesia: “Who is this guy?”

The proof of Senator Murphy’s complicity is the Clintonian “this guy, Gruber, ” echoing “that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Gruber had been lavishly praised by both Harry Reid on the floor of the Senate and Pelosi: Murphy knows damn well who “that guy” is, and why his revelations remove all semblance of trustworthiness from his party and its leaders…unless they can trick those stupid voters one more time!!

One journalist from the mainstream media, at least, is on to them.