Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/29/17: What’s Really Wrong With Single Payer, Incompletely Remembering Charles Kuralt, And Dana Milbank Boards The Ethics Train Wreck

(This is my favorite Arthur Sullivan hymn, even more than “Onward Christian Soldiers”…)


1 CBS’s “Sunday Morning” had a feature today on the late Charles Kuralt, the original host of the show, famous for his feature “On the Road” in which Kuralt visited “the real America,” meeting locals and revealing regional lore to the rest of the country. At the end of today’s segment, CBS bemoaned the fact that Kuralt, who died 20 years ago, was virtually forgotten, even among journalists if they had no grey in their hair.

This is an example of a larger crisis, cultural illiteracy, that often occupies my thoughts. The blame lies with our inadequate schools and its under-educated teachers, as well as popular culture. Barely knowing anything about George Washington, the root of the previous post, is an existential problem, but only slightly more dangerous are the multiple generations whose member can’t name ten U.S. Presidents, don’t know the dates of the Civil War or who the US defeated in World War II, and who have never heard of Jackie Robinson, Clarence Darrow, Brown v. Board of Education, Eugene McCarthy, Ingrid Bergman, or Lucille Ball.

CBS, however, was indulging its own special breed of disinformation by lionizing Kuralt. Yes, I remember well his plummy voice and avuncular style. I also remember, as CBS would have us forget, the fact that after his death it was revealed that being “on the road” allowed Kuralt to maintain one family in Montana and another, his official one, in New York City. His innovative proposal to CBS to fund his trek back and forth over the contiinent facilitated his betrayal of his family. Kuralt was a sociopath.

2. The most significant ethics story of recent weeks that I have thus far neglected was the announcement that Great Britain’s National Health Service will ban patients from surgery indefinitely if they are obese or smoke. Non life-or death operations, like joint replacements, will be put on hold  until such patients conform to the governement’s life style requirements

Obese patients “will not get non-urgent surgery until they reduce their weight” unless the circumstances are exceptional. Smokers will only be referred for operations if they have stopped smoking for at least eight weeks, with such patients breathalyzed before referral.

When the newly radicalized and Bernie-ized Democratic Prty going all-in for single-payer next year, this cautionary tale needs thorough debate. When the government controls health care, it has the power to constrict personal liberty. The British were horrified by this latest development, which can only be described as the other shoe dropping. What did they expect?

Of course, a party that controls a government that can withhold surgery until citizens conform to mandated life choices would never use that same power to demand other behavior from citizens. Or  assign priorities for surgical procedures to favored groups and constituencies.

Keep telling yourself that. You’ll feel better.

3. I greatly enjoyed Ann Althouse calling out Dana Milbank, one of the Washington Post’s most blatantly partisan and dishonest reporters (and that’s saying something), for his self-serving half-mea culpa upon learning that multiple women have accused Leon Wieseltier, the magazine’s  literary editor as well as his mentor and boss at the New Republic—when Milbank was just a tiny little self-righteous left-biased journalist, just beginning to slant the news…I detest the guy: can you tell?— of being a flagrant sexual harasser. He writes in part,

“How could I have been so stupid?….this week I learned that, earlier in my career, I worked in a place that was the very definition of a hostile work environment — a place that is now one of the most visible examples of the Harvey Weinstein fallout. Worse, one of my dearest friends was a victim — indeed, the one who first went public.”

Althouse writes, in evident disgust,

Milbank purports to have seen only a gender-neutral problem:

“I knew that Wieseltier could be a bully. At editorial meetings, he would harshly cut down those he didn’t like. I was advised before I took the job that if I wanted to get ahead at the New Republic, I needed to be on his good side. He would protect those he held in favor and sink those he didn’t. I was one of those he protected. I think he liked me. I liked, and greatly admired, him.”

Milbank denies that he was part of “a conspiracy of silence.” Rather, it was “a cone of ignorance.”

Come on, Mr. Milbank. Give me a break. How did you get into a “cone of ignorance”? You’re supposed to be a journalist, and yet you lacked basic awareness of the environment in which you worked, and you claim to know nothing about the precise matter that would make you look bad now that you know you got the advantage of the favor of this man who was (allegedly) making the workplace unequal for women?

Why should we believe that? I can see that you want us to believe that because it is powerfully in your interest, but that’s a reason not to believe you. You say you “knew that the magazine was a boys’ club.” You took advantage of the boy’s club and, at best, you pulled a cone of ignorance onto your head* so you wouldn’t have to think you were wrongfully benefiting. Today, you have a lovely platform at The Washington Post. Why do you deserve that, you with the Cone of Ignorance?

“My friend Franklin Foer, a former editor, recalls being uncomfortable with Wieseltier’s lewd comments when he first arrived at the magazine. But “they just seemed accepted. I said nothing — and certainly didn’t think hard enough about how those remarks would be suggestive of private behavior or created a hostile environment….Maybe this is because Foer and I were both members in good standing of the same boys’ club. “One of the byproducts of benefiting from male privilege is that it blinds you to the costs of the system,” Foer continues. “I abstractly understood this and even tried to combat it. But the toll wasn’t evident to me until now.”

Oh, bullshit. The “toll” is that you now are experiencing a burden — exposure as a man who knew or willfully blinded himself and not only did nothing to help, but accepted benefits for yourself at the expense of others. So now, when it is in your interest, you’re doing what you can, which seems to be to accept a carefully designed form of blame, which is no more blame than the story that has broken is forcing upon you.


A hostile work environment for women is obvious to all in that workplace, and only the willfully ignorant pretend it doesn’t exist.

4. On this story, commenter valkygrrl asks, “One incompetent elected official or innocent dupe?” This is about a suspicious computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials that was wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed by the NAACP and others.

Oh, I’d bet that the wiping was intentional, and thus criminal destruction of evidence: an example of spoliation, a la Enron and Arthur Andersen…and Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. This article supplies the background.


8 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/29/17: What’s Really Wrong With Single Payer, Incompletely Remembering Charles Kuralt, And Dana Milbank Boards The Ethics Train Wreck

  1. Wow!!!

    The words of Bob Dylan came to mind as I read #3

    “What good am I then
    To others and me
    If I’ve had every chance
    And still failed to see

    AND if my hands have been tied
    Must I not wonder within
    “Who tied them and why
    And where must I have been?”

    (From the amazing song What Good Am I)

    We all have the ability to change our morals or justify them when we are benefiting.
    Which is why this blog constantly gives me examples to look at my own life and where I’m doing the same.

    Thank you Jack for your commitment to truth as you see it and willingness to find and support it.

    You continually challenge me to examine my life and shift where I too am being “ignorant” and wow.


    The whole post is fabulous.

  2. Good morning to you as well, Jack!

    Re: No. 1:

    I remember Kuralt, and used to watch Sunday Morning many years ago. I didn’t know about his familial abuse, though. Some of his segments were interesting, some were not.

    It’s funny how it’s okay to remember Kuralt with his problems as a human being, but uncool to remember George Washington the same way. I guess the airbrushing works both ways, depending on who’s ox is being gored.

    I share your concern at the ignorance of our young people about history and American culture. To me, it seems the obvious outcome of the indoctrination camps which have replaced our schools.

    Re: No. 2:

    Of course, a party that controls a government that can withhold surgery until citizens conform to mandated life choices would never use that same power to demand other behavior from citizens. Or assign priorities for surgical procedures to favored groups and constituencies.

    Well, we do this all the time. The sugary beverage taxes and laws, laws forbidding vaping in public places, laws mandating seat belts on pain of citation. All these laws are in place mostly to protect ourselves from ourselves, and shape our behavior. That’s what this is, as well — demanding behavior modification by coercion. It just seems worse, but it’s the identical impulse.

    Your critique is exactly right, and if the government gains full control of health care, they can use it as a vehicle for all sorts of demands. It’s not hard to imagine refusing surgery to gun owners because of their “contributions” to violence and injury or potential risk to their children, or refusing medical care to people deemed “racist.” Given enough time, I’m sure they can find a medical nexus for everything in the Bill of Rights.

    The left sees medical care as a right — for every leftist conformist.

    Re: No. 3:

    I have loathed Dana Milbank for so long, I had put him completely out of my mind. Finding out he has all the situational awareness of Rick Pitino makes me laugh out loud. His mea culpa is a transparent attempt to avoid criticism from his own peeps for being a milquetoast go-along-to-get-ahead creep. The Washington Post, if it had a modicum of ethical integrity, would investigate the matter and not accept his word that “he didn’t know.” Maybe he really didn’t but I agree with you and Althouse that is … unlikely.

  3. 3. Why write anything at all? Wouldn’t it been better just to not say anything? Or does he really believe his readers are stupid enough to excuse his drivel?

    • Probably got pushed into a corner by some former co-worker or a writer who knew all about the whole thing and Dana thought he’d better get out in front of the situation and try to minimize the damage.

      • And let’s not forget all these guys were the ones telling us over and over that Bill Clinton’s behavior was just peachy keen. “The French wouldn’t even bat an eye at any of this. Ho ho ho.”

  4. Re: #4: Servers exist to store data, and sometimes operating systems, from other machines. It is virtually impossible to delete that data accidentally, and certainly not from a satellite machine. Most especially since a competent IT department backs the server up daily. I did say competent.

  5. 2) This post from years ago is relevant

    “Then in a generation our hospitals will be convenient works-around for courts and prisons. Just deem certain viewpoints to be illnesses, which doctors (pseudo-judges) can diagnose (pseudo-conviction) and send you to a mental health facility (pseudo-prison)” -me in a comment.

    Control of the medical industry has ALWAYS been about control of everyone’s lives behind the easy to use veneer of “we care about everyone’s health, it’s a RIGHT!”.

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