Morning Ethics Warm-Up: The “I Should Be At The Beach” Edition…

Good Morning!

Is everyone vacationing this week but me? I can detect such things from blog traffic—this week has been sparse. Unfortunately this is the legal ethics CLE busy season, so I have been furious preparing materials for three new three-hour programs: “The Legal Ethics Mine Field,” “Legal Ethics Squeeze,” and a new musical ethics seminar for the New Jersey Bar Association, “Ethics Blues,” with the talented Esther Covington. It features legal issues-stuffed parodies of such songs as “Copacabana,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Piano Man,” “You Made Me Love You,” “Isn’t It Romantic” and “Let it Be,” among others. I’ve been writing parody song lyrics since I was 9, and much as I enjoy it, it is mentally exhausting in a way nothing else is.

1.  The anti-Trump news media is all a twitter because former GOP Congressman Joe Walsh might challenge President Trump for the nomination. Joe Walsh!  He’s the only member of Congress ever designated a fick by Ethics Alarms, in this post, about how Walsh, a Tea Party fiscal responsibility hawk who once lectured Barack Obama about how he was placing a burden on the backs of Walsh’s children, owed  $117,437 in unpaid child support to his ex-wife and those already burdened, kids, three of them. For this and other transgressions he was defeated for re-election, and Joe’s now a talk show host, presumably with the same audience that took guidance from former radio bloviators Ollie North and Gordon Liddy.

2. On the innocent until proven guilty front…there has been a spate of defamation lawsuits lately in which priests accused of sexually molesting boys accuse the Catholic Church of ruining their reputations based on publicizing unsubstantiated accusations of pederasty.

A Fresno, California priest,  Craig Harrison, who is facing multiple allegations of sexual abuse, is suing an established  Catholic watchdog group Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF). seeking “unlimited” damages as a result of RCF President Stephen Brady’s “appearance at a press conference in Bakersfield” that addressed “allegations of sexual misconduct” made against Harrison. The lawsuit and summons were filed this month after the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) concluded an investigation that it said  exonerated Harrison. Brady says that the lawsuit may be intended to discourage other ongoing RCF investigations.

Another defamation suit is challenging the diocese of Corpus Christi, which  published a list of “credibly accused” priests in January. Of the 20 clerics named, three maintain their innocence and sued Bishop Mulvey and the diocese over their inclusion on the list.  According to the suit, “Defendants knew the statement was false and acted with reckless disregard for the truth. The publication of the statement was made with malice.”

Stay tuned.

On a related note, this priest probably will not be suing. Father Joseph McLoone, a Chester County (Pennsylvania) priest, has been charged with  stealing over $98,000 from his church to pay for a beach house, travel, dining and for men to have sex with him.

On the plus side, he apparently left the boys alone. So there’s that.

3. I’d say this suggests that something is ridiculously  wrong with the health care system, wouldn’t you?...From Kaiser Health News:

Donna Ferguson awoke in the resort city of Cancun before sunrise on a sweltering Saturday in July…later that morning, a surgeon, Dr. Thomas Parisi, who had flown in from Wisconsin the day before, stood by Ferguson’s hospital bed and used a black marker to note which knee needed repair. “I’m ready,” Ferguson, 56, told him just before being taken to the operating room for her total knee replacement. For this surgery, she would not only receive free care but would receive a check when she got home. The hospital costs of the American medical system are so high that it made financial sense for both a highly trained orthopedist from Milwaukee and a patient from Mississippi to leave the country and meet at an upscale private Mexican hospital for the surgery.

Ferguson gets her health coverage through her husband’s employer, Ashley Furniture Industries. The cost to Ashley was less than half of what a knee replacement in the United States would have been. That’s why its employees and dependents who use this option have no out-of-pocket copayments or deductibles for the procedure; in fact, they receive a $5,000 payment from the company, and all their travel costs are covered.

Serious health care reform policies need to address costs, not just insurance. Insurance, as it has for decades, reduces the incentive to keep costs low, as well as the incentive of users to minimize non-essential procedures. Back in the Eighties, policy-makers were at least trying to come up with ways to keep costs down with such (failed) innovations as HMOs. Who is trying to reduce costs and over-use of the medical system now?

4. More on the New York Times’ leaked declaration of its planned full-frontal race-baiting assault on President Trump and Republicans, from John Kass of the Chicago Tribune:

What was the embittered left — Democratic presidential candidates and their media allies — supposed to do when their hopes of Russia-Trump collusion crashed on the boulevard of broken dreams? Pivot….after a brief spasm of despair, the left pivoted to their default position: race. Race. Race. Race. Race. Race…. The newspaper said it hopes “to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”

…The story of slavery in America is compelling and worthy of such attention. But reducing the whole of America to the sin of slavery and racism that America has tried so hard to reject — by shedding blood in the Civil War, by passing the Civil Rights Act, by twice electing Barack Obama to the White House — is absurd. But revealing….

“What happened to just reporting the news, as (Real Clear Politics) columnist)Carl Cannon says  without fear or favor?”[Tom Bevan, co-founder of Real Clear Politics] asked. “The New York Times is a for-profit institution and must cater to the whims of their readers or they’ll cease to exist as a business. Their readers are upper-class white liberals … the Times felt like it had to be part of the resistance to succeed with their readers. That strategy succeeded. But they’re caught in this cycle. They’re no longer the paper of record.” The short-term benefits of defining America by race may help Democrats and soothe subscribers at the New York Times. But what it does long term, to journalism, to the republic, doesn’t concern the left, just as it doesn’t concern Trump.


34 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: The “I Should Be At The Beach” Edition…

  1. I am NOT on vacation this week, but will be next week. I am traveling to Atlanta to see all the historical sites and add the Chattanooga/Chickamauga Battlefield sites to my collection of Civil War Battlefield visits (that already includes Gettysburg and Antietam)

    I can still sing your song parody of “Bridge of Spies” to the tune of “Copacabana”.

    1. Of course, they’re all a-Twitter. I’m sure Twitter is all a-Twitter. And they will be until he actually becomes the candidate (unlikely, I realize), then will go full throttle on him because of his character issues just like they did with Trump. They want the Republicans to put someone else in the spot besides Trump, then do everything they can to defeat that guy.

    2. Among my hobbies is reading about life in Nazi Germany – life for ordinary people, you know – and of great assistance are two books, Erika Mann’s (daughter of Thomas Mann) “School for Barbarian: Education under the Nazis” and Gregor Ziemer’s “Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi” (which was made into a Disney animated short during the war).

    Among the subjects discussed is the attempt by the Nazis to undermine religious organizations by discouraging parents from letting their children attend church to scheduling Hitler Youth activities on Sundays and other times that would conflict with church attendance and religious study. There’s also a snippet that discusses how the newspapers prominently feature articles about priests and nuns accused of sex crimes. Clearly, of course, the implication is that these accusations are trumped up to cause citizens to mistrust the Catholic Church.

    The last few years, I have wondered about how much of that was trumped up.

    3. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve read that some insurance companies will pay to fly insureds to India for surgery and still come out ahead because of high medical costs here in the U.S.

    4. Why don’t they just start in 1590 with the Lost Colony of Roanoke? Or 1492 with the arrival of Columbus? They could just make our whole history about mistreatment of indigenous peoples. The Left is determined to make the whole of history about race the same way the Communists make human history about class.

    • AM if you haven’t already, check out Hitler’s Monsters by Eric Kurlander. It depicts popular occultism connected to Nazi power and how the people responded to it. Lots of footnotes too.

      • Thank you very much. I just found my local library carries it and will put it on hold for reading after vacation. I appreciate the recommendation.

    • I’m proud of that song, and I have no idea what spawned it. My wife claims that therein lies the solution to the mystery of my mind. I am sitting here wondering, “What pop song would be good for telling the story of the Cold War spy exchange involving Gary Powers in East Berlin, and “Copacabana” pops into by head. Either I should have made a lot more money with a brain like that, or I should have been institutionalized.

  2. 2. I wonder how going out of country compares to using places like the Surgery Center of Oklahoma. It may be still cheaper for people who already have passports.

    Note that one step in the process of letting price pressure affect costs is to actually reveal pricing. Which the Trump administration is pushing.

    • I don’t know how the medical community is allowed to get away with their billing practices. When I ask a typical hospital what a procedure will cost, they generally can’t tell me. They don’t know. They just make it up as they go along. I had a high deductible plan last year where I had to pay for significant amounts of my healthcare. One of the most difficult things to do was to find out what anything costs. Even at the doctor’s office, they couldn’t tell me what an office visit cost. They told me to pay $80 and they would let me know how much it was the next day or so.

      • That’s ridiculous. No other industry operates this way. I can’t imagine going into a grocery store and finding no prices on anything or going to buy a car and not finding out how much it’ll cost until after I’ve bought it.

      • One tactic hospitals now do is tell you they take your insurance, take whatever your plan says you owe, get the insurance to pay what they owe… then send you a balance bill for thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands… This is technically illegal. Very like a bait and switch scheme. However…

        If you don’t navigate a VERY specific set of governmental bureaucratic guidelines outlined in law, they can make it stick, too. If they can even get you to make a token payment, you are screwed. Even a recording of you saying it is your debt is enough.

        They can go crash your credit rating, sue you, you name it.

        My company is self insured, and this got so bad (we started losing employees) that they hired a firm that specializes in this specific area, as in “all they do.”

        So frustrating…

  3. I’m a little mystified by the last clause of Kass’s last sentence:

    “But what it [dividing the country by race] does long term, to journalism, to the republic, doesn’t concern the left, just as it doesn’t concern Trump.”

    How is Trump dividing the country by race? He’s against illegal immigration. He doesn’t think every person who is against tearing down Confederate statues is a white supremacist or a racist. Black employment is robust. Why did Kass slip in that big lie in at the end?

    • Because he has to prove his anti-Trump creds. The Big Life infiltrates even people observant enough to recognize what the Left and its allies are doing to the country.

  4. Not absent this week; just horrendous deadlines. Supposed to see the Twins yesterday, but we had voir dire. But, they lost, so not too bothered to have missed it.


  5. OB
    I believe the point made about the long term effect on journalism relating to Trump referred to his calling fake news the enemy of the people. The irony is that the editor just made that exact claim when he wrote the Times is no longer the paper of record as it tries to write that which is acceptable to its well connected liberal white readers.

    • Followup

      To get a full understanding you have to read the entire Kass editorial. He seems to think Trump needs to be more introspective and less transactional. How that relates to the long term issues in journalism I dont know.

  6. 2: I’m probably weird, but I don’t think seeing a hooker should be that big a deal if it’s straightforward service. (they may be trashing what should be a more important relationship- but even that may not be a given) But it’s not a threat to the republic in itself. I’d offer to pay for my brother, if it would slow down his rushing into bad relationships that cost far more in pain and money in the long run, even if the sex is free.

    If the priest paid for sex with a consenting adult, that’s mostly between him and God. Stealing money that was needed for other things is the bigger sin.

    3: I get so aggravated at the inefficiency and waste in the current mess. I was once prescribed a cream. Note, while this cream is not carried by every pharmacy, grocery stores and Amazon carry it.

    My HMO required I get it from a particular pharmacy. (you see for some reason the tube of ointment was classified as durable medical by the HMO) Okay, I’ll be a good patient and get it from that pharmacy. I got it. Surprised it came by airmail. Bet you won’t be surprised the HMO didn’t want to pay the inflated costs due to airmail, but that was the only way their pharmacy would ship it. I sure didn’t want to pay 39$ for a tube of cream, and they were just unwilling for me to get it from my grocery store pharmacy where I already get meds for chronic aging… I guess the grocery store charges more? I argued back and forth for months- now I save the receipts for end of year tax paperwork.

    Note the tube was about 7$ at both the grocery pharmacy and Amazon at the time. An ointment got misclassified and they were unwilling to fix it. Perhaps they preferred the condition worsen? The HMOs were once an improvement but they ossified into nickel and dime outfits.

      • Dang it. Meant to post that after Jack above. Not sure how this happened.

        Marie, I think paying for sex is a really awful thing. It’s exploitative and demeaning to the professional, so called. For a person of the cloth to engage in it is cynical and hypocritical to the max. He’s supposed to minister to people, not barter with them for the most wonderful thing on earth. This is the kind of thing that drove me out of the RC Church as a teenager.

  7. 3) After being quoted $37,000 for simple, same day surgery (seriously, in by 8:00, home by noon) I asked the hospital to give me the billing code they were going to submit to my insurance company as I had to pay a percentage of the total cost. Using that billing code, I began to call around. Four hospitals later, same procedure, same billing code, I managed to get that $37K down to $6k. I’m not sure what I would have gotten for an extra 29 grand but a certain, world famous, mid-west clinic sure has a lot of beautifully curated art-work hanging on its walls; art work that I’m sure the purchase of is contributing to the cure for AIDS, or cancer, or Parkinson’s…..

  8. #2 Idle curiosity…do the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches have this problem? Is celibacy required of the priests of either religion?

    #3 The problem is that we never see the entire bill. The insurance companies (or Medicare/Medicaid) get what’s left after we pay the deductible. There’s no public outcry because we aren’t informed as to what the cost actually is. Case in point…my beloved wife went to a physician on her own before she turned 65. Her insurance would not cover the visit, so the Physician only billed her$35 (she was a specialist). I asked what a patient WITH insurance would be charged, and was told $125.00. Your honor, the defense rests.

    • 2. I think the rules are different, but that some marriage is allowed among some of the ranks. But, does it really matter? Do married men never molest children?

      3. You would be shocked what some prescriptions cost without insurance. Just go up to a pharmacy and ask them how much it would be for a common rx like lipitor. Many times, your copay costs more than what you would just pay for it outright.

      • AM, I’m not sure celibacy has ANYTHING to do with it. My initial question still stands…do the Greek or Russian Orthodox priests have this problem?

        On drug costs, I have COPD and, hence, use a lot of Albuterol inhalers. Fortunately, I only pay $24 for 4 of them through the VA. However, I have had this condition for a while, so I know EXACTLY how much a single inhaler costs.

        • In the Orthodox churches, I’m aware of a few cases of misconduct or accusations toward/from adults, and spiritual abuse by fringe groups with fuzzy affiliations to the church itself. These have a lot of do with micro-level issues.

          Clergy below the bishop rank can marry before they get ordained, which has its own complications.

          • So now we have the question “What’s the difference between the Orthodox Churches and the Roman Catholic Church?”

            • As an Orthodox Church member, I think the difference in hierarchical structure plays a key role here. In other words we’re too damn disorganized to keep anything secret for long.

              • Now THAT actually makes sense. BUT, going deeper, does the very structure of Catholicism mean that errant priests feel safer transgressing? Or does it mean that selection of priests is done by favoritism or nepotism? I don’t know. It is even possible that Catholicism’s rule on celibacy may be the driving force. The comparisons are stark, and, as far as I know, nobody has ever looked into this, least of all the highly structured Catholic Church.

  9. 3: I worked with some people who were employed by a company which offered this type of medical travel as an option in their health coverage. IIRC, it completely paid for the surgery (no deductible), airfare, a nice hotel, meals, etc. for the patient and a companion, including necessary pre and post operation stays (and maybe a week extra) + cash ($500?) for incidentals. Don’t remember if it include a later cash bonus. Several locations were offered, such as Costa Rica, India, Singapore, etc., and supposedly used hospitals and doctors that met American standards and qualifications, and had English speaking staff. Don’t think they guaranteed a U.S. doctor. The plan itself was offered and administered by a third party insurer (there are several of these, apparently).

    Surprisingly, to me, I was told that there were a good many people who would not take advantage of this program…preferring higher personal costs to risking an unfamiliar process. To be fair, there are some inherent atypical risks, such as increased difficulty in dealing with a malpractice issue, but they can be mitigated. Maybe, though, this hesitancy is partly why these programs have not become more common

  10. 3) The free market has consistently proven to drive costs DOWN (even after inflation adjustments) in relation to overall purchasing power for individuals.

    I wish we’d actually try out a free market in medical care. And yes, that means reforming, not the medical industry, but the insurance industry…perhaps to a point where it almost doesn’t exist.

  11. John Kass of the Chicago Tribune:

    What was the embittered left — Democratic presidential candidates and their media allies — supposed to do when their hopes of Russia-Trump collusion crashed on the boulevard of broken dreams? Pivot….after a brief spasm of despair, the left pivoted to their default position: race. Race. Race. Race. Race. Race…. The newspaper said it hopes “to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”

    …The story of slavery in America is compelling and worthy of such attention. But reducing the whole of America to the sin of slavery and racism that America has tried so hard to reject — by shedding blood in the Civil War, by passing the Civil Rights Act, by twice electing Barack Obama to the White House — is absurd. But revealing….

    It is very difficult to sort through the events of today and arrange them in a way that makes sense. It is also as difficult to ‘interpret’ them. And it is also very difficult to grasp causation: what has led to the fruition — in the sense of fleurs du mal — we observe in our present. I have concluded that the hardest task is to try and understand these causal chains.

    Historically, the New York Intellectual Establishment has made use of African American anger as that ultra-liberal class, sometimes containing revolutionary elements, has made its ascent within the American structures: the ‘institutions’ as they are called. Hyper-liberalism is responsible for all of the dramatic cultural innovations that we now live with.

    Progressive civil rights, Gay rights and activism, a shift away from what are called ‘traditional moralities’, and in general an undermining of the metaphysical tenets which have undergirded — literally — our various cultures and our civilization. By altering and or destroying the metaphysical anchor, the vessel so to speak goes adrift. The metaphor is a sound one. The place where this happens is in the lone individual. That is where it begins. Then, it spreads. Eventually it reaches a point where an entire culture and its ‘temporal modality’ — the way it conducts itself and the way it understands itself ontologically — is undermined. In that situation, I assume, war will develop. It starts in internal war. Family war. War between woman and man. Social war. And then it leads — if history is a guide — to war between nations.

    This is why it is wise, and also why it is problematical, to name that Hyper-liberal faction. To locate it and them and to begin to call it and them out. Simultaneously, there has to be something proposed to counter Hyper-liberalism. This is immensely difficult and also troubling because it has to do with reclaiming and re-positing metaphysical values which are in decay. One might do that brusquely and rudely — out of desperation as I call it, that is, as an act to ‘preserve the self’ — or one might do it philosophically and more ‘intellectually’. A desperate person might resort to some sort of quick ‘conversion’ that enables them, seemingly, to ground or anchor themselves. But this only works up to a point if it is not a firm ground. A firm ground cannot be in mere emotionalism. It has to be in a foundation rediscovered and re-inhabited.

    I assert that to understand the present we have to better understand causation and the *causal chains*. We have to understand ‘insidious influence’. This is beyond any doubt extremely difficult because to name what is ‘insidious’ is to name things with which we are ourselves deeply involved. Nevertheless I assert that we are in ‘spiritual war’. The essential thing being fought over really has to do with the ‘soul’. But I inflect that with a Thomist understanding.

    The nature of the time — this I assert with some trepidation — is one in which it is close to impossible to know who and what to trust. Why? To answer even is problematical. Everything is infected, everything is tainted. We are the infected vessels, we are the sick vessels. Meaning, the sickness plays itself out as much outside of us as inside of us. Or the interior sickness, to one degree or another, externalizes itself.

    Here is why I think things are especially difficult, and why those things that appear to be necessary and helpful to arrest decay, will themselves prove problematical. For example, we assume that the advent of Donald Trump represents a genuine renewal of more conservative trends which will help to reestablish the nation of America on a more solid ground. We desire that (the ‘we’ I use is demagogic), we ‘hope’ for that. But it can’t really be (I assert).

    To all appearances there is no intercession, no counter-movement, no political movement, no restraining influence, that can or will come to bear on the present current-of-things. I guess i would be forced to follow my own assertions to their logical conclusion: there are far too many ‘disordered souls’ and their influence is one of madness, unrestraint, uncontrolled appetite, emotionalism and sentimentalism: hysteria.

    All this is (in my opinion) a necessary preamble to begin to address the condition that John Kass is describing. That is, why it is that *they* are pushing so hard on the weaponizing of America’s minority community and why they are setting up — to all appearances — a dramatic battle. But the following must be held in mind: there is no faction now that can be trusted. Even the counter-resistance to the Hyper-liberal putsch, to use a strong word, is infected by various levels of perversion (and I use this term not so much in reference to sexual issues, but not exclusive of them).

    Rotting things — so said Waldo Frank in Rediscovery of America (1929) — are in no sense dead. A dead organism begins to light up with each putrid cell as it inflames. Each interior element ‘goes its own way’. The unity dissolves but singularity assumes precedence. A rotting organism is vibrant with life! But that life is going in the direction of decay and then death. This sounds more pessimistic than I had intended. But not really: because the essential issue has to do just with one self, one solitary person. Myself, ourselves.

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