Category: Ned Barnett

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The Awful Unintended Consequences of Virtue-Signaling Liberals


Doing good for those less fortunate is a positive thing; however, doing good for the purpose of virtue-signaling can have hugely devastating unintended consequences.  An example of this can be found in the various liberal pure water initiatives, which strive to save lives by providing unfettered access to potable drinking water in isolated African villages and other locations where pure water for all has not been previously available.

Organizations such as the William and Melinda Gates Foundation have become well known for their work in this area, and a common claim by these groups is the number of lives that are – or, if they’re in a fundraising mode, can be – saved by universal access to safe drinking water.  People can feel good about themselves by donating to these causes without considering the consequences.

And why not?  On the face of it, who can question the benefits of pure water?  However, this brings us to the issue of unintended consequences, and they can be awful.

Let’s take, for example, a single hypothetical village in sub-Saharan Africa.  It has a stable population of about 1,000 people, with live births roughly balancing natural deaths.  Local agriculture produces sufficient food to support this population.  The local education infrastructure is sufficient to train those children who survive the high infant and early childhood mortality rates.  Finally, sufficient medical care exists to maintain a mortality rate equal to the birth rate.  Life in this egalitarian village is hard but stable.

Then along comes a group of outsiders from one of these liberal foundations.  They create the technology to provide sustainable, potable water for the entire population.  This is clearly a good thing.  But it also has grievous unintended consequences stemming from enhanced life expectancy.

Since impure water has a disproportionate impact on infants and young children, the child mortality rate plummets – another good thing.  The vulnerable elderly population also tends to suffer from impure water, so life expectancy increases.  This is also a good thing.  There can be no virtue in the deaths of the youngest, the oldest, and the most vulnerable in society.  However, there are three problems that – if not also addressed at the same time – can shatter the village.

As the population grows dramatically, three critical problems will emerge.  And the population will grow – not only from enhanced mortality rates, but also because – absent a balancing achieved by the parallel implementation of widespread birth control – parents who had previously suffered the loss of young children will be motivated to bring to life children who will survive. 

With that inevitable and seemingly positive population growth comes a fast-growing demand for food, a demand that will quickly outstrip the village’s long established ability to provide for its population.  Hunger becomes a problem.  Eventually – and this won’t take long – food will become a commodity whose price is determined by the inexorable law of supply and demand. The rich will continue to eat well; the middle class will continue to eat, but not well; and the poor will be forced to make do with the gleanings left by a society with too many mouths to feed.

Education becomes another problem.  Within five years, the need for education exceeds the village’s established ability to educate its population.  At first, classes grow in size, while fixed resources are stretched thin.  Within ten years, education, like food, will become a supply-and-demand commodity.  The rich will be better educated.  The middle class will become educated, though not so well, and the poor will be lucky to have any education for their children. This will reinforce a class division that can have short-term divisive impacts and long-term stratification that will make permanent the class differences – with all the potential for strife that exists between have and have-not societies.

Perhaps most painfully, the fixed infrastructure for providing health care services will quickly be stretched to the maximum and beyond.  At first, the opposite will occur.  As the elderly and infants survive in larger numbers because of pure water, the demand for health care services will relax, which may or may not result in a reduced supply.  However, either way, once hunger becomes an increasingly prevalent issue, new diseases – ones that prey on those whose immune systems are compromised by chronic starvation – will become endemic.  Here, too, the law of supply and demand will kick in.  Those who can afford lifesaving health care will have it; those who can’t will suffer the inevitable consequences.

Once these three factors begin tearing apart the long established stable and egalitarian structure of the village, second-order problems will arise.  This comes from the rapid transformation of a stable village society into one where there are haves and have-nots, with the difference between the two literally being the difference between life and death.  The turmoil this leads to can be found in South Sudan and other areas where access to limited supplies of food has created powerful warlords and starving masses.

What conclusions can we draw from this?  Clearly, providing potable water to those who don’t have it is a desirable goal.  However, providing potable water without addressing the inevitable impact of increased life expectancy on food supplies, medical care, and education is akin to treating the broken arm of a man who broke it while collapsing from a heart attack.  Of course the broken arm should be treated, but so, too, should the potentially deadly heart attack. 

Virtue-signaling do-gooder liberals don’t think this way.  They find some unassailable cause, such as pure water; they give their contribution; and they don’t think about the unintended consequences of their largesse.  Conservatives – a good example here are Christian missionaries, but there are many others – tend to look at the larger society of the community they serve, striving to balance the consequences of doing good to create a healthier and more viable society.

Ned Barnett, founder of Barnett Marketing Communications, has been a professor at Middle Tennessee State and UNLV in Las Vegas.  He is a widely published author, a consultant, and a political campaign strategist.

Doing good for those less fortunate is a positive thing; however, doing good for the purpose of virtue-signaling can have hugely devastating unintended consequences.  An example of this can be found in the various liberal pure water initiatives, which strive to save lives by providing unfettered access to potable drinking water in isolated African villages and other locations where pure water for all has not been previously available.

Organizations such as the William and Melinda Gates Foundation have become well known for their work in this area, and a common claim by these groups is the number of lives that are – or, if they’re in a fundraising mode, can be – saved by universal access to safe drinking water.  People can feel good about themselves by donating to these causes without considering the consequences.

And why not?  On the face of it, who can question the benefits of pure water?  However, this brings us to the issue of unintended consequences, and they can be awful.

Let’s take, for example, a single hypothetical village in sub-Saharan Africa.  It has a stable population of about 1,000 people, with live births roughly balancing natural deaths.  Local agriculture produces sufficient food to support this population.  The local education infrastructure is sufficient to train those children who survive the high infant and early childhood mortality rates.  Finally, sufficient medical care exists to maintain a mortality rate equal to the birth rate.  Life in this egalitarian village is hard but stable.

Then along comes a group of outsiders from one of these liberal foundations.  They create the technology to provide sustainable, potable water for the entire population.  This is clearly a good thing.  But it also has grievous unintended consequences stemming from enhanced life expectancy.

Since impure water has a disproportionate impact on infants and young children, the child mortality rate plummets – another good thing.  The vulnerable elderly population also tends to suffer from impure water, so life expectancy increases.  This is also a good thing.  There can be no virtue in the deaths of the youngest, the oldest, and the most vulnerable in society.  However, there are three problems that – if not also addressed at the same time – can shatter the village.

As the population grows dramatically, three critical problems will emerge.  And the population will grow – not only from enhanced mortality rates, but also because – absent a balancing achieved by the parallel implementation of widespread birth control – parents who had previously suffered the loss of young children will be motivated to bring to life children who will survive. 

With that inevitable and seemingly positive population growth comes a fast-growing demand for food, a demand that will quickly outstrip the village’s long established ability to provide for its population.  Hunger becomes a problem.  Eventually – and this won’t take long – food will become a commodity whose price is determined by the inexorable law of supply and demand. The rich will continue to eat well; the middle class will continue to eat, but not well; and the poor will be forced to make do with the gleanings left by a society with too many mouths to feed.

Education becomes another problem.  Within five years, the need for education exceeds the village’s established ability to educate its population.  At first, classes grow in size, while fixed resources are stretched thin.  Within ten years, education, like food, will become a supply-and-demand commodity.  The rich will be better educated.  The middle class will become educated, though not so well, and the poor will be lucky to have any education for their children. This will reinforce a class division that can have short-term divisive impacts and long-term stratification that will make permanent the class differences – with all the potential for strife that exists between have and have-not societies.

Perhaps most painfully, the fixed infrastructure for providing health care services will quickly be stretched to the maximum and beyond.  At first, the opposite will occur.  As the elderly and infants survive in larger numbers because of pure water, the demand for health care services will relax, which may or may not result in a reduced supply.  However, either way, once hunger becomes an increasingly prevalent issue, new diseases – ones that prey on those whose immune systems are compromised by chronic starvation – will become endemic.  Here, too, the law of supply and demand will kick in.  Those who can afford lifesaving health care will have it; those who can’t will suffer the inevitable consequences.

Once these three factors begin tearing apart the long established stable and egalitarian structure of the village, second-order problems will arise.  This comes from the rapid transformation of a stable village society into one where there are haves and have-nots, with the difference between the two literally being the difference between life and death.  The turmoil this leads to can be found in South Sudan and other areas where access to limited supplies of food has created powerful warlords and starving masses.

What conclusions can we draw from this?  Clearly, providing potable water to those who don’t have it is a desirable goal.  However, providing potable water without addressing the inevitable impact of increased life expectancy on food supplies, medical care, and education is akin to treating the broken arm of a man who broke it while collapsing from a heart attack.  Of course the broken arm should be treated, but so, too, should the potentially deadly heart attack. 

Virtue-signaling do-gooder liberals don’t think this way.  They find some unassailable cause, such as pure water; they give their contribution; and they don’t think about the unintended consequences of their largesse.  Conservatives – a good example here are Christian missionaries, but there are many others – tend to look at the larger society of the community they serve, striving to balance the consequences of doing good to create a healthier and more viable society.

Ned Barnett, founder of Barnett Marketing Communications, has been a professor at Middle Tennessee State and UNLV in Las Vegas.  He is a widely published author, a consultant, and a political campaign strategist.



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When Does Being a Jerk, or Just a Guy, Become Sexual Harassment?


First, a caveat that is totally non-controversial: Real sexual harassment is never OK.

But what is real sexual harassment?  To my mind, sexual harassment exists when a predator, generally but not exclusively male, uses power – either physical power or the power of position (a boss, for instance) – to force a victim to submit to sexual activities.  Important to note, this definition includes even those in positions of power who are unsuccessful in using that power over someone’s livelihood.  This also always includes any attempt by an adult to seduce or pressure a minor (girl or boy) to submit to and participate in sexual activities, even if nothing takes place.

However, except in those boss-subordinate and adult-minor scenarios, sexual harassment has to involve more than two people talking.  It has to be more than a guy complimenting a woman on her good looks, nice new hairstyle, fetching dress or outfit, or something else along those lines.  Also, when a guy asks a woman on a date, unless sex is explicitly part of the date, that is not sexual harassment, either.

Things are out of balance, and research has documented several ways in which this is the case.  Here are examples of real sexual harassment.  Everything Harvey Weinstein has done to those whose careers he can advance or crush is sexual harassment.  Everything Kevin Spacey did to a fourteen-year-old boy at a party (at Spacey’s home), where liquor and drugs were being used, especially lying on top of him to initiate sexual activity, is sexual harassment.  Al Franken was being sexually harassing when he forced a deep-tongue kiss on that unwilling (and rightfully disgusted) woman.  Those are all clear-cut cases of sexual harassment.

However, if an adult man asks an adult woman on a date, just because there is an age difference between them, that is not evidence of sexual harassment.  For proof of this, consider that there are many positive, healthy, and loving May-December relationships.  Even more extreme are those who consider compliments to be prima facie cases of sexual harassment.  Absent any intimidation, when a man asks a woman to go out for dinner or a drink or a date, that is not by any realistic standard a case of harassing her.

Why is drawing such lines important?  Because both society and the media have lost any sense of balance between what is sexual harassment and what isn’t.

Several new studies conducted by YouGov have uncovered a remarkably out-of-balance view of what constitutes sexual harassment.  First, in one study addressing the experience of sexual harassment, 70 percent of women believe that other women have been harassed, but only 21 percent believe they themselves have been harassed.  Assuming that the number is solid, then that number is 21 percent too high.  Still, it shows a vast gulf between perception and experience.  More important, consider what a YouGov poll cited by Fox News’s Laura Ingraham on Monday defines as sexual harassment, which varies widely between younger and older Americans.  More than one third of Americans under 30 think it is sexual harassment when a man (who’s not in a relationship with the woman) compliments a woman’s looks, and 25 percent of women under 30 says it’s sexual harassment if a man who’s not in a relationship with her asks her out for a drink.

This is where reason must step in.  Sexual harassment exists where sex acts are involved or threatened, especially when the sex involves a minor or is linked to job- or career-related power coercion.  But are civil compliments or an attempt to start a dating or social relationship sexual harassment?  If so, by their own standards, a third of young American women are going to wind up being spinsters because they offer no opening for men of their age, men who don’t have positions of career power over them, to create relationships.  Instead, these men are branded sexual harassers merely because they were trying to be nice or to open the door to a possible consensual relationship, starting with a social drink in a safely public place.

It has gotten so bad that Democratic strategist and Al Franken apologist Richard Goldstein (whom I’ve never before agreed with on any subject) told Laura Ingraham that “any single woman can get any senator kicked out of office.  You allege it, and they’re out,” which he defined as the new standard.  In that environment, where the charge becomes the fact, it is time to rethink the difference between real, hurtful, hateful sexual harassment that might be criminal and is certainly life-altering to the victim and innocently intended behavior that might nonetheless offend a sensitive woman who has been taught that the world revolves around her.

Where do we go from here?  First, the inner views of an overly sensitive young woman who harshly judges innocently intended compliments and invitations should remain her inner views and not reach the light of day.  For if she goes public with charges conflating innocent actions with rape, molestation, and real sexual harassment, her target will become the real victim.  Second, there need to be real consequences for a woman who turns something innocent into the public equivalent of forcible rape or brutal molestation.  Finally, there needs to be an awareness, in America, that the accusation does not equal automatic conviction, as happened in the Duke lacrosse case (and thousands of other false charges that didn’t go public but still created devastation in their wakes).

Something must be done, since any bogus sexual harassment charge horrifically damages the man so accused.  This is especially true in our current societal state, where, as noted, the charge is the conviction.  Everyone so charged seems to be assumed guilty – by the press, by political opponents, and by activists eager to tar the reputation of any man who fails to live up to their standards.

Ned Barnett is a political campaign expert, military historian, and communications professional.  He owns Barnett Marketing Communications in Las Vegas.

First, a caveat that is totally non-controversial: Real sexual harassment is never OK.

But what is real sexual harassment?  To my mind, sexual harassment exists when a predator, generally but not exclusively male, uses power – either physical power or the power of position (a boss, for instance) – to force a victim to submit to sexual activities.  Important to note, this definition includes even those in positions of power who are unsuccessful in using that power over someone’s livelihood.  This also always includes any attempt by an adult to seduce or pressure a minor (girl or boy) to submit to and participate in sexual activities, even if nothing takes place.

However, except in those boss-subordinate and adult-minor scenarios, sexual harassment has to involve more than two people talking.  It has to be more than a guy complimenting a woman on her good looks, nice new hairstyle, fetching dress or outfit, or something else along those lines.  Also, when a guy asks a woman on a date, unless sex is explicitly part of the date, that is not sexual harassment, either.

Things are out of balance, and research has documented several ways in which this is the case.  Here are examples of real sexual harassment.  Everything Harvey Weinstein has done to those whose careers he can advance or crush is sexual harassment.  Everything Kevin Spacey did to a fourteen-year-old boy at a party (at Spacey’s home), where liquor and drugs were being used, especially lying on top of him to initiate sexual activity, is sexual harassment.  Al Franken was being sexually harassing when he forced a deep-tongue kiss on that unwilling (and rightfully disgusted) woman.  Those are all clear-cut cases of sexual harassment.

However, if an adult man asks an adult woman on a date, just because there is an age difference between them, that is not evidence of sexual harassment.  For proof of this, consider that there are many positive, healthy, and loving May-December relationships.  Even more extreme are those who consider compliments to be prima facie cases of sexual harassment.  Absent any intimidation, when a man asks a woman to go out for dinner or a drink or a date, that is not by any realistic standard a case of harassing her.

Why is drawing such lines important?  Because both society and the media have lost any sense of balance between what is sexual harassment and what isn’t.

Several new studies conducted by YouGov have uncovered a remarkably out-of-balance view of what constitutes sexual harassment.  First, in one study addressing the experience of sexual harassment, 70 percent of women believe that other women have been harassed, but only 21 percent believe they themselves have been harassed.  Assuming that the number is solid, then that number is 21 percent too high.  Still, it shows a vast gulf between perception and experience.  More important, consider what a YouGov poll cited by Fox News’s Laura Ingraham on Monday defines as sexual harassment, which varies widely between younger and older Americans.  More than one third of Americans under 30 think it is sexual harassment when a man (who’s not in a relationship with the woman) compliments a woman’s looks, and 25 percent of women under 30 says it’s sexual harassment if a man who’s not in a relationship with her asks her out for a drink.

This is where reason must step in.  Sexual harassment exists where sex acts are involved or threatened, especially when the sex involves a minor or is linked to job- or career-related power coercion.  But are civil compliments or an attempt to start a dating or social relationship sexual harassment?  If so, by their own standards, a third of young American women are going to wind up being spinsters because they offer no opening for men of their age, men who don’t have positions of career power over them, to create relationships.  Instead, these men are branded sexual harassers merely because they were trying to be nice or to open the door to a possible consensual relationship, starting with a social drink in a safely public place.

It has gotten so bad that Democratic strategist and Al Franken apologist Richard Goldstein (whom I’ve never before agreed with on any subject) told Laura Ingraham that “any single woman can get any senator kicked out of office.  You allege it, and they’re out,” which he defined as the new standard.  In that environment, where the charge becomes the fact, it is time to rethink the difference between real, hurtful, hateful sexual harassment that might be criminal and is certainly life-altering to the victim and innocently intended behavior that might nonetheless offend a sensitive woman who has been taught that the world revolves around her.

Where do we go from here?  First, the inner views of an overly sensitive young woman who harshly judges innocently intended compliments and invitations should remain her inner views and not reach the light of day.  For if she goes public with charges conflating innocent actions with rape, molestation, and real sexual harassment, her target will become the real victim.  Second, there need to be real consequences for a woman who turns something innocent into the public equivalent of forcible rape or brutal molestation.  Finally, there needs to be an awareness, in America, that the accusation does not equal automatic conviction, as happened in the Duke lacrosse case (and thousands of other false charges that didn’t go public but still created devastation in their wakes).

Something must be done, since any bogus sexual harassment charge horrifically damages the man so accused.  This is especially true in our current societal state, where, as noted, the charge is the conviction.  Everyone so charged seems to be assumed guilty – by the press, by political opponents, and by activists eager to tar the reputation of any man who fails to live up to their standards.

Ned Barnett is a political campaign expert, military historian, and communications professional.  He owns Barnett Marketing Communications in Las Vegas.



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Two Issues, Two Answers: Time for SCOTUS to Make Some Hard Choices


The Supreme Court is facing two First Amendment issues, and we are at risk of having two different answers – ones that can only further confuse an already confusing selection of legal precedents.

One is Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which hinges on a privately owned business’s ability to pick and choose its customers based on religious beliefs.  The other case is National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Xavier Becerra, which focuses on the rights of private, non-profit crisis pregnancy centers established by pro-life organizations and individuals to operate without being forced to advocate for abortion.

The issue with Masterpiece is challenging for a number of reasons. 

On the one side of the coin (setting aside the “protected” status of so-called marriage rights for same-sex couples, which has become a political third rail), there are the public accommodation laws that were passed, beginning in the ’60s, to guarantee that hotels, restaurants, and other “public accommodations” could not legally discriminate against someone based on his race (in that case, almost exclusively black).  Public accommodation laws were unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court in Katzenbach v. McClung in 1964.  Those laws may have deprived some racist business owners of the right to practice their racism, but they extended a uniform right to all Americans, regardless of skin color, to have access to those public accommodations.

On the other side of the coin is the right, established by the courts when confronting demands stemming from Obamacare, of faith-based employers to refrain from offering insurance for services they find religiously unacceptable, such as abortion or birth control.  The Supreme Court upheld faith-based employers’ rights not to offer such insurance in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby in 2014.

As a result, in considering the Colorado case, the Supreme Court sided with those advocating equal access for all to public accommodations, while also siding with those faith-based business owners who found conditions of Obamacare incompatible with their faith.  These two Court-defined rights truly represent a rock and a hard place.  A bakery is clearly analogous to the restaurants, which were specifically banned from discriminating against customers based on race, while the right to honor religious beliefs in the workplace was directly established in the Hobby Lobby case.  The issue may hinge on a simple, indisputable fact.  All black people are born that way – they have no choice in the matter.  However, all people who want to attempt to marry someone of the same sex are acting on a choice, not an immutable fact.  At issue will be whether the fact of this being a constitutionally protected lifestyle choice is more or less constitutionally protected than the fact of race being unchangeable and not subject to choice.

While some may argue that the wedding cake is “different” because there are always other cake-making choices available to same-sex couples, that argument was tried (and failed) in the public accommodations issues of the mid-’60s.  At that time, there were always some hotels and restaurants that would serve blacks, but the Court deemed this insufficient justification for other public accommodations to limit their service to whites.  This, along as the constitutional equivalence (if any) between innate race and human-choice sexual preference, is the issue the Court will have to decide.

The other case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Xavier Becerra, is even more complicated.  At issue is the right of those 200 or so generally faith-based crisis pregnancy centers in California to provide abortion-alternative counseling and support without also fulfilling a state mandate that they provide pro-abortion information.  The mandate comes from the California Reproductive FACT Act, which requires all crisis pregnancy centers to prominently post on their premises and in their advertising literature the following notice:

California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [phone number].

The law even specifies where these notices will be posted and the type size they must be printed in.  Specifically, this law was passed primarily or exclusively to require pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to advocate for something they passionately disagree with, even though those objections are, in most cases, based on clear religious beliefs.  The religious part of the issue here is at least as strong as the Hobby Lobby claim; however, these centers were created specifically to offer alternatives to abortion.  Such notices work directly at odds with the creation intent of the crisis pregnancy centers, an issue not germane to the Hobby Lobby issue, since Hobby Lobby was created not primarily to practice a religion-based activity.

The need for such a law seems based on the supposition that, absent this notice, none of the 700,000 women who become pregnant in California each year will know that abortion is an option.  It then goes farther, assuming that pregnant women don’t know that abortion-related services are available at taxpayer expense by California’s county social services organizations, as well as at low cost from such non-governmental groups as Planned Parenthood.  In short, the grounds for this law – other than the fact that pro-abortion zealots can’t bear the fact that there even are other options – are specious.  It is quite literally inconceivable that any American woman might not know that abortion counseling and abortions themselves aren’t readily available.  In short, the law is not necessary.

At issue before the court is the question of whether the religious rights of people and organizations who set up such pro-life pregnancy centers are more important than the state’s power to force people to defy their own faith-based beliefs to serve a public communications need that is, in fact, no need at all, unless the Court presumes that there is a significant number of California women so ignorant of abortion that – unless told about abortion at a pro-life counseling center – they would never know about the availability of abortion-related services.

This should be clear-cut.  However, even pro-abortion justices have admitted that Roe v. Wade is remarkably flawed constitutional law, finding in the Constitution a privacy right that does not actually exist.  Given that precedent, it’s really anybody’s guess whether the clearly articulated right to the free exercise of religion will trump the made-up privacy right that has become the foundation of a host of other constitutionally specious laws.

For those who care about the primacy of constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom over lesser rights – especially those “discovered” by the Court or asserted by state governments – this latest session of the Supreme Court will prove a nail-biter.  Perhaps the worst possible outcome for those who value a clear affirmation of our promised right to the free exercise of religion would be a split decision, where the Colorado baker’s rights are upheld because the courts differentiate between the rights of people of color (who are born that way) and people who exercise lifestyle choices, while on the other hand ruling that the discovered privacy right articulated in Roe v. Wade, as interpreted by California statute, trumps religious freedom.  Still, it is too early to give up on the hope that the Court will consistently find in favor of the rights of those who act based on deeply held religious convictions.

The Supreme Court is facing two First Amendment issues, and we are at risk of having two different answers – ones that can only further confuse an already confusing selection of legal precedents.

One is Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which hinges on a privately owned business’s ability to pick and choose its customers based on religious beliefs.  The other case is National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Xavier Becerra, which focuses on the rights of private, non-profit crisis pregnancy centers established by pro-life organizations and individuals to operate without being forced to advocate for abortion.

The issue with Masterpiece is challenging for a number of reasons. 

On the one side of the coin (setting aside the “protected” status of so-called marriage rights for same-sex couples, which has become a political third rail), there are the public accommodation laws that were passed, beginning in the ’60s, to guarantee that hotels, restaurants, and other “public accommodations” could not legally discriminate against someone based on his race (in that case, almost exclusively black).  Public accommodation laws were unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court in Katzenbach v. McClung in 1964.  Those laws may have deprived some racist business owners of the right to practice their racism, but they extended a uniform right to all Americans, regardless of skin color, to have access to those public accommodations.

On the other side of the coin is the right, established by the courts when confronting demands stemming from Obamacare, of faith-based employers to refrain from offering insurance for services they find religiously unacceptable, such as abortion or birth control.  The Supreme Court upheld faith-based employers’ rights not to offer such insurance in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby in 2014.

As a result, in considering the Colorado case, the Supreme Court sided with those advocating equal access for all to public accommodations, while also siding with those faith-based business owners who found conditions of Obamacare incompatible with their faith.  These two Court-defined rights truly represent a rock and a hard place.  A bakery is clearly analogous to the restaurants, which were specifically banned from discriminating against customers based on race, while the right to honor religious beliefs in the workplace was directly established in the Hobby Lobby case.  The issue may hinge on a simple, indisputable fact.  All black people are born that way – they have no choice in the matter.  However, all people who want to attempt to marry someone of the same sex are acting on a choice, not an immutable fact.  At issue will be whether the fact of this being a constitutionally protected lifestyle choice is more or less constitutionally protected than the fact of race being unchangeable and not subject to choice.

While some may argue that the wedding cake is “different” because there are always other cake-making choices available to same-sex couples, that argument was tried (and failed) in the public accommodations issues of the mid-’60s.  At that time, there were always some hotels and restaurants that would serve blacks, but the Court deemed this insufficient justification for other public accommodations to limit their service to whites.  This, along as the constitutional equivalence (if any) between innate race and human-choice sexual preference, is the issue the Court will have to decide.

The other case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Xavier Becerra, is even more complicated.  At issue is the right of those 200 or so generally faith-based crisis pregnancy centers in California to provide abortion-alternative counseling and support without also fulfilling a state mandate that they provide pro-abortion information.  The mandate comes from the California Reproductive FACT Act, which requires all crisis pregnancy centers to prominently post on their premises and in their advertising literature the following notice:

California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [phone number].

The law even specifies where these notices will be posted and the type size they must be printed in.  Specifically, this law was passed primarily or exclusively to require pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to advocate for something they passionately disagree with, even though those objections are, in most cases, based on clear religious beliefs.  The religious part of the issue here is at least as strong as the Hobby Lobby claim; however, these centers were created specifically to offer alternatives to abortion.  Such notices work directly at odds with the creation intent of the crisis pregnancy centers, an issue not germane to the Hobby Lobby issue, since Hobby Lobby was created not primarily to practice a religion-based activity.

The need for such a law seems based on the supposition that, absent this notice, none of the 700,000 women who become pregnant in California each year will know that abortion is an option.  It then goes farther, assuming that pregnant women don’t know that abortion-related services are available at taxpayer expense by California’s county social services organizations, as well as at low cost from such non-governmental groups as Planned Parenthood.  In short, the grounds for this law – other than the fact that pro-abortion zealots can’t bear the fact that there even are other options – are specious.  It is quite literally inconceivable that any American woman might not know that abortion counseling and abortions themselves aren’t readily available.  In short, the law is not necessary.

At issue before the court is the question of whether the religious rights of people and organizations who set up such pro-life pregnancy centers are more important than the state’s power to force people to defy their own faith-based beliefs to serve a public communications need that is, in fact, no need at all, unless the Court presumes that there is a significant number of California women so ignorant of abortion that – unless told about abortion at a pro-life counseling center – they would never know about the availability of abortion-related services.

This should be clear-cut.  However, even pro-abortion justices have admitted that Roe v. Wade is remarkably flawed constitutional law, finding in the Constitution a privacy right that does not actually exist.  Given that precedent, it’s really anybody’s guess whether the clearly articulated right to the free exercise of religion will trump the made-up privacy right that has become the foundation of a host of other constitutionally specious laws.

For those who care about the primacy of constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom over lesser rights – especially those “discovered” by the Court or asserted by state governments – this latest session of the Supreme Court will prove a nail-biter.  Perhaps the worst possible outcome for those who value a clear affirmation of our promised right to the free exercise of religion would be a split decision, where the Colorado baker’s rights are upheld because the courts differentiate between the rights of people of color (who are born that way) and people who exercise lifestyle choices, while on the other hand ruling that the discovered privacy right articulated in Roe v. Wade, as interpreted by California statute, trumps religious freedom.  Still, it is too early to give up on the hope that the Court will consistently find in favor of the rights of those who act based on deeply held religious convictions.



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Advertisers Shoot Themselves in the Foot When They Take Sides


Like it or not, America is locked in an ongoing culture war between those who support the country and the Constitution on the one side and those who want to tear America down and create a new, single-viewpoint nation in their image on the other side.  This culture war seems to be pushed by an increasingly hostile and domineering far left.  Instead of eagerly embracing debate, which is both the American Way and enshrined in the Constitution, elements of the progressive side are actively trying to shut that debate down.

Oddly, considering their progressive, Bernie Sanders-like pro-socialism position in the political debate, these opponents of the Constitution’s free press guarantees are using free-market capitalism as a weapon.  They are calling on advertisers to boycott certain networks (Fox) and certain shows (Hannity, at least this week – stay tuned for a different boycott target next week).  The George Soros-funded Media Matters, set up specifically to attack Fox News on a daily basis, is leading the charge, prodding advertisers to boycott the show.  In what seems like an example of groupthink, many other mostly online far-left (and some not so far left, like Forbes) “publications” are also demanding that advertisers boycott Hannity and Fox.

This is just wrong. 

America has enshrined the idea of vigorous political debate in the First Amendment, and in an environment where there are far more left-leaning news media outlets than conservative ones, opposition should be cherished.  At least since the disputed 2000 presidential election, there has been a rough balance among 24/7 cable news outlets, with CNN and MSNBC lined up on one side and Fox News on the other, each outlet providing a balance against those on the other side.  This gives Americans the chance to either enter the echo chamber of their choice and have their position reinforced or take a walk on the wild side and discover what the other side is proclaiming, which is pretty much what the framers of our constitution had in mind.

If the goal is to offer dissent instead of shutting down the opposition (or at least punishing them financially), there is an alternative to boycott, one that preserves the intent of the founders.  If you don’t want a show to prosper because you don’t like its content, just don’t watch the damned thing. 

Before we go farther, I need to point out that I have been in advertising for 40-plus years.  I did my master’s work in the field, I’ve written books about it, I’ve won a few ADDY awards, I’ve taught it at the college level, and I’ve even been an expert witness in a court case.  So when I say this is a bad economic idea for the advertisers – the reasons that far outweigh any chest-thumping ego-tripping that comes from climbing on a politically correct bandwagon – please understand that this is not just an opinion.  It’s the opinion of someone who has bought advertising on FOX News for clients and who understands the professional risks and rewards.

With that said, this boycott approach is wrong from another perspective as well.  And that comes from the economic backlash any company faces when it starts taking sides in acrimonious political debates.  Here’s how it works.  When an advertiser makes a big deal out of joining an ad boycott, that advertiser is, in effect, passing judgment on each of the target’s audience members, saying, “You are no longer good enough to be our customer.”  Obviously, that never sits well with the audience members.  In this case, Hannity’s 3.2-plus million nightly viewers and his 13 million daily listeners (Hannity is currently ranked #1 in cable news and #2 in talk radio) are being insulted.  Even given some overlap, that is a lot of potential customers to cast judgments upon.

Politically motivated boycotts have a long tradition, but almost all of that tradition can be found on the side of progressives, socialists, communists, and fascists.  On the right, the typical boycott is more along the lines of “I don’t like Louis CK, so I’m not going to watch him.”  Sure, there have been some limited-success boycotts offered by pastors of typically small flocks of activist Christians, but even here, the pressure isn’t so much about dollars as it is eyeballs.  The politically activist media groups calling for Sean Hannity’s advertisers to boycott him, and to therefore punish him and Fox News financially, are made up of a growing knee-jerk crowd of other me-too leftists following Media Matters’ lead.

This is bad business for advertisers for one more reason as well.  As Ad Age said, “as TV ratings continue to dwindle, Fox News continues to be one of the few places pulling large live audiences on a nightly basis. For his part, Hannity averages 3.2 million viewers on any given night in October, according to Nielsen.”  On the other side, reflecting a healthy balance between opposing sides in this constitutionally protected debate, “[i]n comparison, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow pulled in about 2.5 million.”  So viewers who want political opinion have a strong and vibrant choice, one that will fade if a culture-war boycott prospers.

The boycott began with this tweet, apparently sent to Hannity’s advertisers by Angelo Carusone at Media Matters: “Good afternoon [advertiser]. You are currently sponsoring Sean Hannity’s show.  He defends child molester Roy Moore and attacks women who speak out against sexual harassment. Please reconsider.”

Though I just recently wrote an American Thinker blog post encouraging Roy Moore to pull out of the race until he can clear his name (and I personally was no fan of Moore even before the latest charge surfaced), I know that Carusone’s tweet is factually inaccurate (which is a nice way of saying “a pack of lies”) in two ways.  Moore’s not a child-molester until he’s proved to be a child-molester by admission or in court, and Hannity does not attack women who speak out against sexual harassment.  The closest he comes to that is to do what a reasonable person might ask: “Can you substantiate this charge, or do we just have to take your word for it?”  That’s a far cry from attacking women who speak out against sexual harassment.

Those advertisers who are caving in to the pressure, despite Hannity’s continued strong ratings, which reflect a loyal fan base, include coffee-maker Keurig, which is now facing a strong backlash (NYT story here).  They started the ball rolling with this tweet: “Angelo, thank you for your concern and for bringing this to our attention.  We worked with our media partner and FOX news to stop our ad from airing during the Sean Hannity Show.”

Others embracing the boycott based on Media Matters’ factually inaccurate tweet include:

  • Genetic testing firm 23andMe, which tweeted: “We’ve received inquiries RE: advertising on Hannity. We are not running TV advertising on Hannity.”
  • Plus-size fashion firm Eloquii, which tweeted: “Hi there! Hannity is blocked from our advertising list.”
  • Natural health products maker Nature’s Bounty, which tweeted, “We can confirm that we do not have advertisements running on this program.” 

Realtor.com, which had initially tweeted that it was joining the boycott, has announced that it will not join the boycott after all.  Reator.com realized that Hannity’s ratings are too strong, and his fans are passionate enough to individually act against those who pick sides in today’s cultural war by pulling ads from his show.  

When it comes to political coverage on cable news, there is room for everybody across the political spectrum.  Smart advertisers who want to reach committed “fans” who loyally support those who support their programs should buy across the board: Hannity and Maddow and whoever is straggling behind at ratings-challenged CNN.  Even CNN has loyal fans worth courting.

Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN together reach seven to ten million individual viewers in a given week.  In a world where even such old reliables as the NFL are seeing ratings slough off dramatically, reliable media outlets are an advertiser’s dream.  However, these are controversial (as is the NFL, if advertiser Papa John’s is any indicator).  Having decided to advertise on political commentary programs, advertisers should know this – they will generate far more controversies if they pull out to make a political statement than if they just ride out the controversy du jour.  It is controversy, after all, which brings those eyeballs to Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, and it makes little sense to punish those networks for their success in doing what advertisers want: live and engaged audiences.

Ned Barnett is a communications professional who has worked in advertising for 40-plus years.  He’s taught advertising at the university level, published books on advertising, and won a few ADDY awards for TV and print ads.  He is also a historian who has, among other things, appeared as an on camera historian on nine History Channel programs.  He brings these disparate experiences together to offer these insights into the fallacy of advertisers participating in boycotts.  He owns Barnett Marketing Communications (www.barnettmarcom.com) in Nevada.

Like it or not, America is locked in an ongoing culture war between those who support the country and the Constitution on the one side and those who want to tear America down and create a new, single-viewpoint nation in their image on the other side.  This culture war seems to be pushed by an increasingly hostile and domineering far left.  Instead of eagerly embracing debate, which is both the American Way and enshrined in the Constitution, elements of the progressive side are actively trying to shut that debate down.

Oddly, considering their progressive, Bernie Sanders-like pro-socialism position in the political debate, these opponents of the Constitution’s free press guarantees are using free-market capitalism as a weapon.  They are calling on advertisers to boycott certain networks (Fox) and certain shows (Hannity, at least this week – stay tuned for a different boycott target next week).  The George Soros-funded Media Matters, set up specifically to attack Fox News on a daily basis, is leading the charge, prodding advertisers to boycott the show.  In what seems like an example of groupthink, many other mostly online far-left (and some not so far left, like Forbes) “publications” are also demanding that advertisers boycott Hannity and Fox.

This is just wrong. 

America has enshrined the idea of vigorous political debate in the First Amendment, and in an environment where there are far more left-leaning news media outlets than conservative ones, opposition should be cherished.  At least since the disputed 2000 presidential election, there has been a rough balance among 24/7 cable news outlets, with CNN and MSNBC lined up on one side and Fox News on the other, each outlet providing a balance against those on the other side.  This gives Americans the chance to either enter the echo chamber of their choice and have their position reinforced or take a walk on the wild side and discover what the other side is proclaiming, which is pretty much what the framers of our constitution had in mind.

If the goal is to offer dissent instead of shutting down the opposition (or at least punishing them financially), there is an alternative to boycott, one that preserves the intent of the founders.  If you don’t want a show to prosper because you don’t like its content, just don’t watch the damned thing. 

Before we go farther, I need to point out that I have been in advertising for 40-plus years.  I did my master’s work in the field, I’ve written books about it, I’ve won a few ADDY awards, I’ve taught it at the college level, and I’ve even been an expert witness in a court case.  So when I say this is a bad economic idea for the advertisers – the reasons that far outweigh any chest-thumping ego-tripping that comes from climbing on a politically correct bandwagon – please understand that this is not just an opinion.  It’s the opinion of someone who has bought advertising on FOX News for clients and who understands the professional risks and rewards.

With that said, this boycott approach is wrong from another perspective as well.  And that comes from the economic backlash any company faces when it starts taking sides in acrimonious political debates.  Here’s how it works.  When an advertiser makes a big deal out of joining an ad boycott, that advertiser is, in effect, passing judgment on each of the target’s audience members, saying, “You are no longer good enough to be our customer.”  Obviously, that never sits well with the audience members.  In this case, Hannity’s 3.2-plus million nightly viewers and his 13 million daily listeners (Hannity is currently ranked #1 in cable news and #2 in talk radio) are being insulted.  Even given some overlap, that is a lot of potential customers to cast judgments upon.

Politically motivated boycotts have a long tradition, but almost all of that tradition can be found on the side of progressives, socialists, communists, and fascists.  On the right, the typical boycott is more along the lines of “I don’t like Louis CK, so I’m not going to watch him.”  Sure, there have been some limited-success boycotts offered by pastors of typically small flocks of activist Christians, but even here, the pressure isn’t so much about dollars as it is eyeballs.  The politically activist media groups calling for Sean Hannity’s advertisers to boycott him, and to therefore punish him and Fox News financially, are made up of a growing knee-jerk crowd of other me-too leftists following Media Matters’ lead.

This is bad business for advertisers for one more reason as well.  As Ad Age said, “as TV ratings continue to dwindle, Fox News continues to be one of the few places pulling large live audiences on a nightly basis. For his part, Hannity averages 3.2 million viewers on any given night in October, according to Nielsen.”  On the other side, reflecting a healthy balance between opposing sides in this constitutionally protected debate, “[i]n comparison, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow pulled in about 2.5 million.”  So viewers who want political opinion have a strong and vibrant choice, one that will fade if a culture-war boycott prospers.

The boycott began with this tweet, apparently sent to Hannity’s advertisers by Angelo Carusone at Media Matters: “Good afternoon [advertiser]. You are currently sponsoring Sean Hannity’s show.  He defends child molester Roy Moore and attacks women who speak out against sexual harassment. Please reconsider.”

Though I just recently wrote an American Thinker blog post encouraging Roy Moore to pull out of the race until he can clear his name (and I personally was no fan of Moore even before the latest charge surfaced), I know that Carusone’s tweet is factually inaccurate (which is a nice way of saying “a pack of lies”) in two ways.  Moore’s not a child-molester until he’s proved to be a child-molester by admission or in court, and Hannity does not attack women who speak out against sexual harassment.  The closest he comes to that is to do what a reasonable person might ask: “Can you substantiate this charge, or do we just have to take your word for it?”  That’s a far cry from attacking women who speak out against sexual harassment.

Those advertisers who are caving in to the pressure, despite Hannity’s continued strong ratings, which reflect a loyal fan base, include coffee-maker Keurig, which is now facing a strong backlash (NYT story here).  They started the ball rolling with this tweet: “Angelo, thank you for your concern and for bringing this to our attention.  We worked with our media partner and FOX news to stop our ad from airing during the Sean Hannity Show.”

Others embracing the boycott based on Media Matters’ factually inaccurate tweet include:

  • Genetic testing firm 23andMe, which tweeted: “We’ve received inquiries RE: advertising on Hannity. We are not running TV advertising on Hannity.”
  • Plus-size fashion firm Eloquii, which tweeted: “Hi there! Hannity is blocked from our advertising list.”
  • Natural health products maker Nature’s Bounty, which tweeted, “We can confirm that we do not have advertisements running on this program.” 

Realtor.com, which had initially tweeted that it was joining the boycott, has announced that it will not join the boycott after all.  Reator.com realized that Hannity’s ratings are too strong, and his fans are passionate enough to individually act against those who pick sides in today’s cultural war by pulling ads from his show.  

When it comes to political coverage on cable news, there is room for everybody across the political spectrum.  Smart advertisers who want to reach committed “fans” who loyally support those who support their programs should buy across the board: Hannity and Maddow and whoever is straggling behind at ratings-challenged CNN.  Even CNN has loyal fans worth courting.

Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN together reach seven to ten million individual viewers in a given week.  In a world where even such old reliables as the NFL are seeing ratings slough off dramatically, reliable media outlets are an advertiser’s dream.  However, these are controversial (as is the NFL, if advertiser Papa John’s is any indicator).  Having decided to advertise on political commentary programs, advertisers should know this – they will generate far more controversies if they pull out to make a political statement than if they just ride out the controversy du jour.  It is controversy, after all, which brings those eyeballs to Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, and it makes little sense to punish those networks for their success in doing what advertisers want: live and engaged audiences.

Ned Barnett is a communications professional who has worked in advertising for 40-plus years.  He’s taught advertising at the university level, published books on advertising, and won a few ADDY awards for TV and print ads.  He is also a historian who has, among other things, appeared as an on camera historian on nine History Channel programs.  He brings these disparate experiences together to offer these insights into the fallacy of advertisers participating in boycotts.  He owns Barnett Marketing Communications (www.barnettmarcom.com) in Nevada.



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Justice for Bill O’Reilly


As Bill O’Reilly has just learned, America has become a nation that punishes men who are charged by women with inappropriate behavior.  Convictions based on proof are not necessary – the charges are sufficient.  Members of the Duke Lacrosse team lost a great deal – their lives were tarnished forever – before it finally became clear that their accuser was making up her charges out of whole cloth.  Since that time, college leaders – as well as corporate board room executives – have not learned the lesson of Duke – that men are entitled to their day in court.  An allegation should be different than a conviction.

However, Bill O’Reilly doesn’t need me to defend him, so I won’t.  O’Reilly himself charges that he was done in by “unfounded claims.”  Perhaps that’s true, but his saying so doesn’t mean he’s telling the truth.  I don’t know if O’Reilly is guilty of being a sexual harasser or just an arrogant Long Island jerk who became the easy target of some people who looked to cash in by blackmailing Fox News.  Neither do you. 

Which means we cannot know is whether Bill O’Reilly saw justice served for behavior that went way beyond legal bounds, or whether Bill O’Reilly was “lynched” by a mob powerful people at Fox who – in the wake of last year’s Roger Ailes sexual harassment scandal – were afraid of one more scandal.

I can see how each of these two completely different scenarios could be plausible, and I can make a case for either one of them.

First, justice served.  Bill O’Reilly has a reputation for low-level sexual harassment in the work place. Some years ago, he and Fox settled a claim with a woman who cried foul after O’Reilly supposedly committed unnamed but unacceptable acts in her presence, or on her person.  Since it was settled out of court and the terms of the settlement were sealed, those details are mere speculation.  However, in the spirit of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” O’Reilly’s decision to settle the case means he must have been involved in a sexual harassment case.

Bill O’Reilly has a reputation for his relations with women. In addition to that harassment claim, he married late, and fathered a couple of kids – but then he divorced early, amid gory charges and counter-charges – not exactly what a good Catholic boy is supposed to do in a culture where divorce is still unacceptable.  Not only did he divorce his wife, but he went after her, hammer-and-tongs, to the point of seeking a massive financial settlement from her.  This could suggest an attitude towards women that is, at best, not politically correct.

On the other hand, the Lynch Mob.  O’Reilly had a past legal claim against him for sexual harassment at work. And he wasn’t nice to his ex-wife. On the other hand, the sexual harassment suit was settled with no finding of fault.  In addition, that lawsuit O’Reilly filed against his ex-, he just won to the tune of more than $14 million dollars. That settlement that suggests he was the wronged party, instead of the “wrong party.”

Beyond that, the 2016 Roger Ailes sexual harassment debacle saw Fox settling with a number of women for tens of millions of dollars.   That Ailes case also directly or indirectly cost Fox three gifted on-air women: Gretchen Carlson, Greta van Susteren and Megan Kelly.  The Ailes case also opened the door to further claims from women with dollar signs in their eyes.  The O’Reilly case showed that, in the aftermath of Ailes, Fox’s Murdoch-clan owners were in no mood for facing down more sexual harassment claims.

The Murdochs reportedly had already paid multi-million dollar settlements to women who’d claimed to have been harassed by O’Reilly.  As with the Ailes settlements, those payments all came straight off the bottom line, which is something public companies strive devoutly to avoid. However, unlike the Ailes issue, Fox was also losing millions of dollars in ad revenue thanks to the rabid Left’s tidal wave of criticism, an orchestrated outcry which quickly evolved into a pressure campaign to punish O’Reilly and Fox News.  O’Reilly’s attorney claims that it was this Left-Wing smear campaign that did O’Reilly in, and the evidence suggests that he’s right.

In that post-Ailes environment, it became possible for women at Fox who wanted to cash in to make unsubstantiated – or at least unverifiable – claims against O’Reilly, then sit back, waiting for a seven-figure settlement offer.  O’Reilly, as the network’s biggest profit-maker, made an easy target – especially because of his brash, blue-collar chip-on-his-shoulder attitude.  It’s not hard to imagine O’Reilly saying and doing things in his usual style that – taken out of context – could have been used some hypothetical gold-diggers to stake their claims.

But those claimants need not be crass gold-diggers to go after O’Reilly.  In an era of “snowflakes” who melt in the face of even the mildest criticism, O’Reilly’s perpetual New Yorker attitude could legitimately – if not accurately – convince some perpetual victims they’d been harassed, if not overtly sexually, then at least because they were women.

So there are two possible scenarios.  Each one is plausible, based on the limited facts available. But one thing is clear. Bill O’Reilly lost his case before the Fox News Court of Last Appeal without facing his accusers, without even having his day in that court. He was charged, tried, convicted and executed while on a pre-scheduled Easter vacation, timing which seems awfully convenient for Fox News.

However, there is a larger issue here.  As I said, I’m not defending O’Reilly – he’s perfectly capable of defending himself.  But this action by Fox is very much in sync with what is happening on college campuses across America, as well as in other less public venues such as in corporate and non-profit organization boardrooms.

Using the campus example, if a male student is accused of rape or sexual harassment, he can and often is found “guilty as charged” without being given the opportunity to confront his accuser – that’s seen by the colleges as more “harassment” – or even getting his day in court.  These young me are kicked out of school, they lose scholarships, and perhaps worse, they lose reputations with no hope of being able to set the record straight.

Across America, lives are being ruined on nothing more than hearsay.  Certainly, some of those young men are guilty and deserve what they get – and more.  But just as certainly, some of those young men are innocent of all charges, except – perhaps – bad judgment for angering a vengeful young woman.

O’Reilly’s case is a microcosm of a trend in America that the “wronged” woman must always be right, and the “wronging” man must always be wrong.  What we need is a healthy dose of justice – real justice, not the Lynch Mob’s rush to judgment.

As Bill O’Reilly has just learned, America has become a nation that punishes men who are charged by women with inappropriate behavior.  Convictions based on proof are not necessary – the charges are sufficient.  Members of the Duke Lacrosse team lost a great deal – their lives were tarnished forever – before it finally became clear that their accuser was making up her charges out of whole cloth.  Since that time, college leaders – as well as corporate board room executives – have not learned the lesson of Duke – that men are entitled to their day in court.  An allegation should be different than a conviction.

However, Bill O’Reilly doesn’t need me to defend him, so I won’t.  O’Reilly himself charges that he was done in by “unfounded claims.”  Perhaps that’s true, but his saying so doesn’t mean he’s telling the truth.  I don’t know if O’Reilly is guilty of being a sexual harasser or just an arrogant Long Island jerk who became the easy target of some people who looked to cash in by blackmailing Fox News.  Neither do you. 

Which means we cannot know is whether Bill O’Reilly saw justice served for behavior that went way beyond legal bounds, or whether Bill O’Reilly was “lynched” by a mob powerful people at Fox who – in the wake of last year’s Roger Ailes sexual harassment scandal – were afraid of one more scandal.

I can see how each of these two completely different scenarios could be plausible, and I can make a case for either one of them.

First, justice served.  Bill O’Reilly has a reputation for low-level sexual harassment in the work place. Some years ago, he and Fox settled a claim with a woman who cried foul after O’Reilly supposedly committed unnamed but unacceptable acts in her presence, or on her person.  Since it was settled out of court and the terms of the settlement were sealed, those details are mere speculation.  However, in the spirit of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” O’Reilly’s decision to settle the case means he must have been involved in a sexual harassment case.

Bill O’Reilly has a reputation for his relations with women. In addition to that harassment claim, he married late, and fathered a couple of kids – but then he divorced early, amid gory charges and counter-charges – not exactly what a good Catholic boy is supposed to do in a culture where divorce is still unacceptable.  Not only did he divorce his wife, but he went after her, hammer-and-tongs, to the point of seeking a massive financial settlement from her.  This could suggest an attitude towards women that is, at best, not politically correct.

On the other hand, the Lynch Mob.  O’Reilly had a past legal claim against him for sexual harassment at work. And he wasn’t nice to his ex-wife. On the other hand, the sexual harassment suit was settled with no finding of fault.  In addition, that lawsuit O’Reilly filed against his ex-, he just won to the tune of more than $14 million dollars. That settlement that suggests he was the wronged party, instead of the “wrong party.”

Beyond that, the 2016 Roger Ailes sexual harassment debacle saw Fox settling with a number of women for tens of millions of dollars.   That Ailes case also directly or indirectly cost Fox three gifted on-air women: Gretchen Carlson, Greta van Susteren and Megan Kelly.  The Ailes case also opened the door to further claims from women with dollar signs in their eyes.  The O’Reilly case showed that, in the aftermath of Ailes, Fox’s Murdoch-clan owners were in no mood for facing down more sexual harassment claims.

The Murdochs reportedly had already paid multi-million dollar settlements to women who’d claimed to have been harassed by O’Reilly.  As with the Ailes settlements, those payments all came straight off the bottom line, which is something public companies strive devoutly to avoid. However, unlike the Ailes issue, Fox was also losing millions of dollars in ad revenue thanks to the rabid Left’s tidal wave of criticism, an orchestrated outcry which quickly evolved into a pressure campaign to punish O’Reilly and Fox News.  O’Reilly’s attorney claims that it was this Left-Wing smear campaign that did O’Reilly in, and the evidence suggests that he’s right.

In that post-Ailes environment, it became possible for women at Fox who wanted to cash in to make unsubstantiated – or at least unverifiable – claims against O’Reilly, then sit back, waiting for a seven-figure settlement offer.  O’Reilly, as the network’s biggest profit-maker, made an easy target – especially because of his brash, blue-collar chip-on-his-shoulder attitude.  It’s not hard to imagine O’Reilly saying and doing things in his usual style that – taken out of context – could have been used some hypothetical gold-diggers to stake their claims.

But those claimants need not be crass gold-diggers to go after O’Reilly.  In an era of “snowflakes” who melt in the face of even the mildest criticism, O’Reilly’s perpetual New Yorker attitude could legitimately – if not accurately – convince some perpetual victims they’d been harassed, if not overtly sexually, then at least because they were women.

So there are two possible scenarios.  Each one is plausible, based on the limited facts available. But one thing is clear. Bill O’Reilly lost his case before the Fox News Court of Last Appeal without facing his accusers, without even having his day in that court. He was charged, tried, convicted and executed while on a pre-scheduled Easter vacation, timing which seems awfully convenient for Fox News.

However, there is a larger issue here.  As I said, I’m not defending O’Reilly – he’s perfectly capable of defending himself.  But this action by Fox is very much in sync with what is happening on college campuses across America, as well as in other less public venues such as in corporate and non-profit organization boardrooms.

Using the campus example, if a male student is accused of rape or sexual harassment, he can and often is found “guilty as charged” without being given the opportunity to confront his accuser – that’s seen by the colleges as more “harassment” – or even getting his day in court.  These young me are kicked out of school, they lose scholarships, and perhaps worse, they lose reputations with no hope of being able to set the record straight.

Across America, lives are being ruined on nothing more than hearsay.  Certainly, some of those young men are guilty and deserve what they get – and more.  But just as certainly, some of those young men are innocent of all charges, except – perhaps – bad judgment for angering a vengeful young woman.

O’Reilly’s case is a microcosm of a trend in America that the “wronged” woman must always be right, and the “wronging” man must always be wrong.  What we need is a healthy dose of justice – real justice, not the Lynch Mob’s rush to judgment.



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Where and Why the MOAB Falls Flat


The recent deployment of the MOAB against tunnels and caves being used by ISIS fighters in Afghanistan is a perfect example of the right weapon on the right target at the right time.

First, it’s the right weapon.  That massive bomb’s “over-pressure” – its intense shockwave – is ideal for collapsing tunnels and caves.  When the MOAB’s huge pressure wave slams into the ground, everything below it is drastically compressed.

Next, it was dropped on the right target.  Those ISIS tunnels are in an area so remote that few – if any – innocent civilians were at risk, making it the right target for such an immense area-denial weapon.

Finally, it was dropped at the right time.  ISIS is still in the “getting established” phase of its move into Afghanistan.  Among other things, that means ISIS terrorists are still digging tunnels rather than focusing on reinforcing them.   Those tunnels were vulnerable to the level of destruction that only the MOAB can deliver.

Even though only about 20 MOABs were built – and several have been expended in tests prior to their use in Afghanistan – this weapon is easy to make.  Given the right targets in Afghanistan or other low-threat Middle Eastern target environments, the MOAB can remain a viable and devastating weapon against terrorist threats.

That is perhaps why media commentators – self-proclaimed experts who are ignorant of the way air combat works – think the MOAB can be seen as a deterrent against Iran or North Korea.  Certainly, if we could drop a MOAB on a WMD target in either of those countries, its explosive force could prove devastating.  But getting the bomb there – now, that’s the problem.

While the MOAB was the right bomb for Afghanistan, the MOAB cannot realistically intimidate Iran or North Korea, because we have no way of putting it on target in either of those well defended countries.  The MOAB is so incredibly large – more than 30 feet long and weighing in at 21,600 pounds – that it can be carried to its target only by a slow, vulnerable C-130 turbo-prop transport plane.  The bomb is loaded onto the plane on a pallet, like cargo.  Then it is pulled out of the plane by a drogue parachute instead of being dropped from an integral bomb bay.  Once dropped, the pallet and parachute are discarded, and the bomb is guided by GPS to its target.

Current U.S. heavy jet bombers have operational speeds above 600 mph and carry extensive air-defense suites that protect them against both heat-seeking and radar-guided missiles.  In addition, the B-2 Spirit is the stealthiest combat aircraft in existence, allowing it to fly in hostile airspace with few risks.  However, the decidedly un-stealthy MC-130J flies at half that speed and has less sophisticated defenses.  Over well defended Iran or North Korea, it would be a relatively easy target.

In the right low-threat air-combat environment, this modified cargo aircraft is a formidable weapon.  Today’s C-130 is based on a design that originally went into production in 1954.  It’s been updated many times to remain a viable combat-theater air transport and – with modifications – a superb Spec-Ops support aircraft.

The plane used over Afghanistan – the special operations MC-130J – was one of those specially updated adaptations of the most current production version of the venerable C-130 transport.  These Spec-Ops planes were designed to support combat in low-threat combat environments, such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq.  However, even in its defensively armed Spec-Ops variant, the C-130 is a relatively slow and vulnerable transport aircraft.  While the Spec-Ops aircraft carry flares and decoys designed to spoof SAM missiles, the MC-130Js remain vulnerable to any sophisticated anti-air systems, and especially to enemy fighter aircraft.

Unlike Afghanistan and Syria, both Iran and North Korea have sophisticated anti-air systems, creating high-threat air-combat environments.  These high-threat zones come complete with reasonably modern jet interceptors and decidedly modern SAM capabilities.  This means that any use of the MC-130J to deploy the MOAB would have to be supported by a massive air assault, known as the “Baghdad Package.”  This kind of shock-and-awe assault is so named because of its similarity to the devastating air assaults targeting Baghdad that began both the Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom air battles.

It would take a major Baghdad Package-level air strike to suppress either North Korea’s or Iran’s air defense capabilities.  High-speed fighters and bombers, supported by Tomahawk cruise missiles, would need to clear a path through enemy fighters and SAM systems long enough for a slow-moving C-130 to reach and destroy its target.  Such an attack would almost certainly be costly in terms of U.S. aircraft losses – as well as in combat aircraft crew members being taken prisoners. 

Despite the superb ability of our combat aircraft, there is no way to penetrate a well defended site without incurring such losses. 

In addition, because both North Korea and Iran callously build their most critical “targets” in or near residential areas, there would be a significant risk of massive “collateral damage” civilian injuries.  Following Vietnam, America has appropriately made avoiding collateral damage a high priority.  We’re supposed to be the “good guys,” and good guys don’t kill innocent women and children.

Bottom line: The MOAB can be the right weapon at the right time, but neither North Korea nor Iran is likely to be the right target for the MOAB’s slow, vulnerable delivery system.  The intimidating threat of the MOAB that news media “experts” have trumpeted is a paper tiger against targets like Iran and North Korea.

If we want to intimidate those countries into giving up their nuclear weapons development, we’ll need to come up with weapon systems that can destroy hardened targets without massive American or enemy casualties.  Whatever that weapon will be, it won’t be the MOAB.

Ned Barnett (ned@barnettmarcom.com) is a military historian, specializing in aviation and naval and ground-target combat technology.  He has appeared as a historian on nine History Channel programs and has written dozens of published articles on mil-tech.  Barnett is currently writing two books: one on surviving a Katrina-level disaster and the other a novel about a war correspondent in the Middle East who becomes the target of a vengeful terrorist.  Barnett is a professional communicator – often supporting conservative causes, businesses and candidates – and is based in Nevada.

The recent deployment of the MOAB against tunnels and caves being used by ISIS fighters in Afghanistan is a perfect example of the right weapon on the right target at the right time.

First, it’s the right weapon.  That massive bomb’s “over-pressure” – its intense shockwave – is ideal for collapsing tunnels and caves.  When the MOAB’s huge pressure wave slams into the ground, everything below it is drastically compressed.

Next, it was dropped on the right target.  Those ISIS tunnels are in an area so remote that few – if any – innocent civilians were at risk, making it the right target for such an immense area-denial weapon.

Finally, it was dropped at the right time.  ISIS is still in the “getting established” phase of its move into Afghanistan.  Among other things, that means ISIS terrorists are still digging tunnels rather than focusing on reinforcing them.   Those tunnels were vulnerable to the level of destruction that only the MOAB can deliver.

Even though only about 20 MOABs were built – and several have been expended in tests prior to their use in Afghanistan – this weapon is easy to make.  Given the right targets in Afghanistan or other low-threat Middle Eastern target environments, the MOAB can remain a viable and devastating weapon against terrorist threats.

That is perhaps why media commentators – self-proclaimed experts who are ignorant of the way air combat works – think the MOAB can be seen as a deterrent against Iran or North Korea.  Certainly, if we could drop a MOAB on a WMD target in either of those countries, its explosive force could prove devastating.  But getting the bomb there – now, that’s the problem.

While the MOAB was the right bomb for Afghanistan, the MOAB cannot realistically intimidate Iran or North Korea, because we have no way of putting it on target in either of those well defended countries.  The MOAB is so incredibly large – more than 30 feet long and weighing in at 21,600 pounds – that it can be carried to its target only by a slow, vulnerable C-130 turbo-prop transport plane.  The bomb is loaded onto the plane on a pallet, like cargo.  Then it is pulled out of the plane by a drogue parachute instead of being dropped from an integral bomb bay.  Once dropped, the pallet and parachute are discarded, and the bomb is guided by GPS to its target.

Current U.S. heavy jet bombers have operational speeds above 600 mph and carry extensive air-defense suites that protect them against both heat-seeking and radar-guided missiles.  In addition, the B-2 Spirit is the stealthiest combat aircraft in existence, allowing it to fly in hostile airspace with few risks.  However, the decidedly un-stealthy MC-130J flies at half that speed and has less sophisticated defenses.  Over well defended Iran or North Korea, it would be a relatively easy target.

In the right low-threat air-combat environment, this modified cargo aircraft is a formidable weapon.  Today’s C-130 is based on a design that originally went into production in 1954.  It’s been updated many times to remain a viable combat-theater air transport and – with modifications – a superb Spec-Ops support aircraft.

The plane used over Afghanistan – the special operations MC-130J – was one of those specially updated adaptations of the most current production version of the venerable C-130 transport.  These Spec-Ops planes were designed to support combat in low-threat combat environments, such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq.  However, even in its defensively armed Spec-Ops variant, the C-130 is a relatively slow and vulnerable transport aircraft.  While the Spec-Ops aircraft carry flares and decoys designed to spoof SAM missiles, the MC-130Js remain vulnerable to any sophisticated anti-air systems, and especially to enemy fighter aircraft.

Unlike Afghanistan and Syria, both Iran and North Korea have sophisticated anti-air systems, creating high-threat air-combat environments.  These high-threat zones come complete with reasonably modern jet interceptors and decidedly modern SAM capabilities.  This means that any use of the MC-130J to deploy the MOAB would have to be supported by a massive air assault, known as the “Baghdad Package.”  This kind of shock-and-awe assault is so named because of its similarity to the devastating air assaults targeting Baghdad that began both the Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom air battles.

It would take a major Baghdad Package-level air strike to suppress either North Korea’s or Iran’s air defense capabilities.  High-speed fighters and bombers, supported by Tomahawk cruise missiles, would need to clear a path through enemy fighters and SAM systems long enough for a slow-moving C-130 to reach and destroy its target.  Such an attack would almost certainly be costly in terms of U.S. aircraft losses – as well as in combat aircraft crew members being taken prisoners. 

Despite the superb ability of our combat aircraft, there is no way to penetrate a well defended site without incurring such losses. 

In addition, because both North Korea and Iran callously build their most critical “targets” in or near residential areas, there would be a significant risk of massive “collateral damage” civilian injuries.  Following Vietnam, America has appropriately made avoiding collateral damage a high priority.  We’re supposed to be the “good guys,” and good guys don’t kill innocent women and children.

Bottom line: The MOAB can be the right weapon at the right time, but neither North Korea nor Iran is likely to be the right target for the MOAB’s slow, vulnerable delivery system.  The intimidating threat of the MOAB that news media “experts” have trumpeted is a paper tiger against targets like Iran and North Korea.

If we want to intimidate those countries into giving up their nuclear weapons development, we’ll need to come up with weapon systems that can destroy hardened targets without massive American or enemy casualties.  Whatever that weapon will be, it won’t be the MOAB.

Ned Barnett (ned@barnettmarcom.com) is a military historian, specializing in aviation and naval and ground-target combat technology.  He has appeared as a historian on nine History Channel programs and has written dozens of published articles on mil-tech.  Barnett is currently writing two books: one on surviving a Katrina-level disaster and the other a novel about a war correspondent in the Middle East who becomes the target of a vengeful terrorist.  Barnett is a professional communicator – often supporting conservative causes, businesses and candidates – and is based in Nevada.



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