Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/10/2020: Freaking Out!

Good morning!

Oh! I nearly forgot!


1. This day in war ethics: The Allies completed the fire-bombing of Tokyo in 1945. Over 100,000, mostly civilians, were killed. The attack is less well remembered than the two nuclear bombs and the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, but more people died on March 9 -10 in Tokyo than in any other single air attack of World War II.

2. Coronavirus freakouts.  Stipulated: the news media and desperate Democrats want the public to panic over the virus, and to blame the President, obviously.

  • Two media doctors, “Dr. Oz” and Drew Pinsky, have been performing a public service of sorts by trying to inject some perspective into the escalating hysteria, and by pointing their fingers at a primary suspect for it, the news media. Pinsky, in an interview with LA’s CBS afiifilate: “A bad flu season is 80,000 dead, we have about 18,000 dead from influenza this year and 100 from corona. Which should you be worried about, influenza or corona. 100 vs. 18,000, it’s not a trick question. Everything going on with everyone using Clorox wipes and get your flu shot, which should be the other message… that’s good. I have no problems with the behaviors. What I have a problem with is the panic and that businesses are getting destroyed and people’s lives are getting upended. Not by the virus, but by the panic.”

Dr. Oz (Real name: Mehmet Oz), who was routinely featured on network news during the Ebola scare, was attacked yesterday as a “quack” by the left-leaning Daily Beast, which has a stake in promoting the panic. In fact, Oz is something of a quack, but he’s a popular one, and using his influence to stop people from being crazy is an ethical use of it.

  • “You know…morons!”  A United Airlines flight from Eagle County, Colorado, to Newark International Airport had to be diverted to Denver over the weekend  after a group of passengers freaked out when another passenger started  coughing and sneezing. He was suffering from allergies.  In Denver, the three hysterical morons were taken off the plane, while the innocent passenger continued on the flight.

Sneezing is not a symptom of Coronavirus. I guess I was on a smart flight from Atlanta to DC four days ago: I coughed a few times and sneezed twice, also due to allergies. Nobody paid any attention.

  • Now THIS is a freakout..Crew members aboard a Thai Airways plane tackled a female Chinese passenger who started deliberately coughing on a flight attendant because she became frustrated over a long a delay for a Coronavirus check. (The plane was held for about 10 hours. I would have become a bit cranky myself. )The woman apparently snapped and demanded to be let out, and when she was refused,  she coughed on a crew member. Another  crew member quickly put her in a headlock and shouted, “Come here! Help me put her down!” Six crew members finally subdued her.

The New York Post article about the incident described Covid-19 as “the deadly virus.” Are flus routinely called “deadly viruses”?

Who is doing this? You know who you are, and you’re the absolute worst people on earth. How could you take away your neighbor’s toilet paper and leave them with this sandpaper alternative, Scott tissue? What, in the name of God’s green earth, is wrong with you? Were you dropped on your head as a baby? Did you eat paint chips? Were you locked away from humanity in a closet where you developed darkness in place of a soul? What did anyone ever do to you that would make you subject them to one-ply toilet paper that chafes? …The coronavirus is not a diarrhea disease. There’s no reason why anyone needs enough toilet paper to fill up the basement, and yet every store in town is out. I didn’t get the memo that this was a thing, so now that I need to buy one package of toilet paper for my family’s regular use, I can’t—because YOU PEOPLE ARE EVIL AND STUPID.

…and it’s all President Trump’s fault anyway.

3. Now let’s take a break from a real virus to the human variety, the execrable Howard Dean (former governor of the state that gave us Bernie Sanders), one of the truly vile denizens of the political scene and a habitual ethics corrupter.  Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who was among the more effective and articulate of President Trump’s defenders when the House was engaged in its single-party impeachment, found a note on her car that read, “Rot in hell fascist pig.” In response, the one-time DNC chair tweeted,

“I don’t condone this, but ‘as ye sow, so shall ye reap’. There is no excuse for the note writer or for you. You are a shame to your district and to a democratic United States.”

Because opposing a contrived effort to misuse impeachment to undo an election is so undemocratic…

4.  Fake news, misleading headline division, from USA Today. The headline: “Midwest farmers face a crisis. Hundreds are dying by suicide.” The sentence in the story that supposedly justifies that scare title: “More than 450 farmers killed themselves across nine Midwestern states from 2014 to 2018, according to data collected by the USA TODAY Network and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.”

By what English language convention does “are dying” mean “died two to four years ago?” Answer: when the objective is to advance the resistance Big Lie #5, “Everything is terrible.” 

It is true that farmers are still suffering, and there is little doubt that suicide rates are still high. The article doesn’t show that, though.

5. Here’s one of those things that the  US doesn’t do like all those other civilized countries (Bernie Sanders just hates that!): This thing is “undermines freedom of speech.” In Great Britain, supposedly the nation most similar in its values and traditions to the U.S., London mayor Sadiq Khan  issued a call for misogyny to regarded  as a hate crime.  He’s running for re-election and was talking to a women’s organization, so naturally it was pandering time. “I want all women to feel safe in London, whether they are going to work or enjoying the culture and entertainment that London has to offer,” he said. “It is time for every Londoner to call out sexist and misogynistic attitudes wherever they encounter them – in the workplace, at school, on the streets or on public transport. I am proud to support calls to recognize misogyny as a hate crime.”

This would be great for Elizabeth Warren, whose supporters tell us that the only reason she’s no longer a Presidential contender is prejudice against women.

6. Related: Remember when, in one of his tweets about the biased news media and fake news, President Trump floated the idea of a government-funded news organization? Do you remember the overwhelming negative response, as the idea was attacked as another piece of evidence that the President is Hitler?

After Senator Sanders freaked out at MSNBC and other media organs for being unfair to his campaign, he suggested his own version of state sponsored media as a remedy, or in his terms, a media revolution. He wants to break up big media and tech conglomerates, increase funding for public media and empower journalist unions. One idea Sanders is “open to” is  the federal government provide a $200 “citizenship news voucher” to all Americans, who would then use the voucher to support public media outlets of their choosing, some of which would explain current events from a “populist” perspective. Despite the creepy echo of Soviet-style journalism in these proposals, New York Times media critic, far from expressing alarm, opined that they have “merit.”

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

57 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/10/2020: Freaking Out!

    • Remember kiddies, if you lose, the war crimes perpetrated upon you may be much more heinous than 100,000 dead you yielded with your firebombing and/or the 145,000 from the two nukes you dropped on them, too. For example, it might mean generations of servitude of entire sections of the globe to a fascistic xenophobic culture that started the war to begin with because they wanted to subjugate you.

      • America does not commit war-crimes! How could it? When you set out to do good, and you and the others know you intend to do good, what cynical person could ever misinterpret what you do as a *crime*?!

        It takes a twisted person to see a crime where there was only self-defensive fire-bombing of civilians.

        God, I am so frustrated with the way people twist things these days.

        Freddie Haff: a curse upon your house.

        • Seek help. And while you’re at it, ask the Manchurians how lovely Japanese rule was, you complete intellectual fool.

          • Ultra-patriotic Americanism, as a reflex to all criticism, is very destructive to understanding. That construct or edifice has to be confronted in order for there to be progress.

            • I was too kind with the intellectual portion of my comment.

              Perhaps you didn’t read my suggestion regarding using the atomic bomb before trying to show them what they would be receiving if they didn’t surrender. I directly contradicted Truman’s judgement on the matter, but you’re either not bright enough or honest enough to deal with reality here or anywhere as far as I can determine. Your world view is skewed and sick. I repeat, seek help.

              • I have a very bad habit of sacrificing, then eating, my therapists. Now no one will do house calls! and with Corona Virus (best termed Commie Virus) we can’t go out, except in the dead of night.

                The triad thesis, antithesis, synthesis (German: These, Antithese, Synthese; originally: Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis) is a progression of three ideas or propositions in which the first idea is followed by a second idea that negates the first, and the conflict between the first and second ideas is resolved by a third idea. It is often used to explain the dialectical method of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, but Hegel never used the terms himself, as instead his triad was concrete, abstract, absolute. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis originated with Johann Fichte.

                I said “Ultra-patriotic Americanism, as a reflex to all criticism, is very destructive to understanding. That construct or edifice has to be confronted in order for there to be progress”.

                The antithesis would be, perhaps, a radical anti-Americanism. But the synthesis is what most interests me. I have a critical function (and a critical mind) and these have their rôle within a total approach.

                I was too kind with the intellectual portion of my comment.

                You’re going soft!

    • Something I’ve run into both in Ken Burns’ documentary, “The War” and in a recent book on MacArthur called “Supreme Commander” is that the Japanese had Allied POWs in prison camps on the main islands. The POWs were told that, if the mainland were invaded, all the POWs would be killed.

    • Nonsense. You think a triumphant Japanese Empire or the German Reich was going to hold “War Crimes Trials” against the vanquished western nations to punish their leaders for “atrocities”?

      That’s ridiculously daft.

      No, they would just round up all the ethnic minorities and summarily murder them for the “crime” of not being Japanese or Aryan.

      It’s only a war crime if the bad guys lose.

      It’s just bad guy business as usual if the bad guys win.

  1. We don’t actually hoard toilet paper but for some reason my wife always has a lot of toilet paper on hand. We have about 70 to 80 rolls in the house right now. This stock isn’t from “preparing for the virus”. This is our normal supply and she also has about 3 – 12 packs of paper towels, not to mention the napkins. So, nobody going to have to worry about us going and buying up the toilet paper. There are several other items my wife buys in bulk. I use powder coffee creamer and when I put it on the grocery list, she comes home with 3 or 4 of the largest container.
    Me: “It’ll take me 4 or 5 months to use all this honey.”
    Her: “It’s good until 3/2022”

    • Good question. It’s one of GULLIBLE’S TRAVAILS (I may copywright that). Apparently some idiot joker announced that the same kind of paper … this makes me laugh so hard my stomach hurts, but bear with me … the same kind that was used for making toilet paper was ALSO needed to be used to make the special masks all the health care people needed for protection against the coronavirus so there was going to be a shortage.

    • There are a lot of things I am willing to do without for a few weeks. Toilet paper is not one of them.

      I always keep 6-10 dozen rolls, not because of coronavirus, but just because. After being in ice storms and hurricanes, I am a ‘disaster prepper’ in that I keep enough stuff to get by for 2-4 weeks in case ‘whatever’ happens.

      • 6-10 DOZEN rolls to get by for 2-4 weeks? Either you have a very big family or your bathroom habits differ from mine! 😉

  2. RE #5:

    I wonder how Saddiq Khan will feel about this when someone tells him that a great portion of the misogyny he’s condemning comes from the minority immigrant communities in his lovely city. If he thinks British culture isn’t suitably feminist, perhaps he should spend some time among London’s Pakistani, Congolese, Syrian, or Yemeni communities (to name just a few) and see what real misogyny looks like.

    • “You are an islamophobe and the police are on the way to ‘talk’ to you. You may be subject to an ASBO or jailed. You may not talk publicly about your treatment or punishments. You may be denied legal counsel in your legal proceedings.”

      THAT is how he will respond if someone tells him that. Well, that is what happened to the last guy.

      • It isn’t just England.

        In Canada, Ezra Levant is being investigated over the latest book he published.

        The police, per Breitbart News are not ruling out a raid on Rebel Media, a conservative outlet.

        Elizabeth Warren, if she had been elected President, would have sicced the IRS on the NRA.

        There is a pattern of Democrats in power seeking to use that power to silence dissent.

        Between the “For The People Act” and the Equality Act, they could get the tools they need to do so.

        The canaries in the coal mine were Elane Photography, Masterpiece Cakeshop, and Arlene’s Flowers.

    • “It is time for every Londoner to call out sexist and misogynistic attitudes wherever they encounter them – in the workplace, at school, on the streets or on public transport, or in Islam, which teaches that it’s okay to beat your wife.”

      Fixed it for him!

    • I see what you did there!

      But as a tireless booster of America’s Dairyland, I find it necessary to inform you that, while invented in Boston, Green Bay WESconsin (the #1 of # 2’s) is Tops in TP; the Keister Kingdom, the Crapital City, the Xanadu of Doo-Doo.

      And if you find yourself without appropriately comfortable facilities with which to…well…you get the picture, Kohler is just a short ~66 mile/10 km trip south on I-43!

      Long story short, when it comes to @$$e$, the Dairy State has you covered; come smell our Dairy Air…

  3. $200 news voucher to promote the news outlets that you personally like? Great idea. I’ve been telling my fellow comrades, for a long time now, that we’d be better off if there was a system where you could freely give your money to the organizations that produce your favorite product. Then we’d finally have real socialism!

  4. From what I understand, Coronavirus is killing about 3% of the known cases…

    Flu kills something like .06% (POINT ZERO SIX) of known cases.

    That’s 50 times more.

    Flu may *currently* kill less in total, but we don’t yet know how much Coronavirus will spread nor do we have any useful treatment for it.

    I think it’s worth far more concern than the nay sayers give it. I think it deserves far less concern than the freak outs give it.

    • 1) the 3%, as Trump “hunched” is almost certainly too high, maybe twice too high. Many people don’t get the symptom sufficiently to be symtomatic. The death rate in some places is likely to be higher than other places because of the level of care, not the disease itself.
      2) The language is also inadequate for our needs. If an illness will kill my 85 uear old neighbor with a lung problem but not me, then its only deadly to him. Do we describe bee stings as generally deadly? When I was a kid, Nobody called measles “deadly,” but it could be. Calling Covid-19 “deadly” when it kills even 3% is simply inaccurate and panic inducing. Is this like “one drop of black blood” makes you black? If “usually not fatal” is accurate, then why call it deadly? I’ll live with “dangerous,” but it’s not usually dangerous either, if you’re not likely to die from it.

  5. 1) There’s one thing the Japanese could have done to help prevent the deaths of some 36 million people (which includes the Tokyo fire bombing deaths).

    Not start the war.

    • I don‘t think the ordinary people had much to say about that. It was Tojo with the support of the Emperor. Even Yamamoto was pessimist about whether they could do better than a negotiated settlement.

      • “I don‘t think the ordinary people had much to say about that.”

        Ultimately they did. Perhaps not in an American democracy sort of way, but they still did. They may have been born into a system their ancestors built, but their ancestors ultimately built it through a complex cession of personal autonomy to central authorities.

        We could either kill them by the millions conventionally on the ground with similar losses of our own or we could show the Emperor that he was going to lose that many with minimal losses to our own.

        Then he’d be convinced the war would be lost.

        The fact that they didn’t beg for peace earlier is an indication that the whole civilization and founding principles on which they were built needed to be broken.

        And it really really is awful for the 100,000.

        Who would have probably died also after a ground invasion defending their emperor with bamboo spears and whatever else.

        War Crimes are an odd thing indeed. We’d rather not inflict atrocities, but if we don’t inflict them on the initial inflictors, the greater misery and scope of war may grind on.

        I don’t see anything inherently contradictory in putting on trial the *initiators* of these wars which are unnecessary for the advancement of human liberty and free commerce while we may have engaged in acts similar in character to the acts of our enemies which which they are on trial.

        Again, the Bad Guys started the Atrocious waste of human life. The Good Guys get a little bit of leeway in conducting operations to bring the greater Atrocity to an end.

        • (Not alot of Leeway…as that’s a rationalization laden road to becoming the monsters we’re fighting. But some leeway…but in war, Utilitarianism does become a partially valid ethical system to an extent)

        • I’m inclined to agree. At the end of the day all governments exist and exercise power with the majority consent of the governed. At all points in human history, when the majority of a people decided the government was no longer legitimate, it stopped being legitimate. The American Revolution, the French Revolution, the fall of the USSR. The Japanese people never revoked majority consent from the Emperor.

          • And I will condition my fervency here:

            While this is true, we certainly must take extra precautions when visiting war on a practically enslaved and brainwashed people who (while full partakers in the civilization they inherited) nonetheless inherited the civilization and are under strong compulsion not to buck the system they’ve always known.

            Yes they consent to their leadership, but it’s a very very poorly informed consent.

            Not saying that completely goes against all my analysis above, but it certainly requires the “Good Guy” nation to pause to think about the full ethics spectrum of visiting horror upon them to reduce the greater horror they are vicariously a party to.

            • Michael, you are aware that the Emperor was a virtually powerless figure-head before and during the war? You and I both know that he could not have prevented that war if he had wanted to.

              • Ok, yes, fair point. Use “Emperor” as a summary of the entire political system making decisions for that country.

                THEY could have avoided 36 million deaths by doing one thing.

                Not starting the war.

  6. “There is a lot more to fear than fear itself, and when the incompetence of the leader claiming otherwise is the primary source of the fear, it is he, not the public, that needs to change.” – Jack Marshall

    You seemed to think it was justified to panic about Ebola because Obama was the president. You’re feeling better about a disease that could kill thousands, maybe tens of thousands more people with this administration?

    • I didn’t think it was justified to panic about ebola, because panic is never justified, and always results in mistakes, ethical breaches, and more damage than was necessary. Obama was an incompetent President who, worse, was constantly being propped up bat a lapdog media. In general, Obama’s deficits as a leader were dangerous, and the ebola threat just highlighted his skill deficit that endangered us elsewhere. Ebola was worth being more frightened of because it was almost always fatal and liquidated ones internal organs, which this super-flu does not. The death rate for ebola is in the nineties. Given two incompetent Presidents, the one who everyone pretends is brilliant is by far the greater danger.

      Thanks for reposting that sentence: it was a good one! (I’ve missed you!)

      • aw, sweet that you’ve missed me 🙂

        “Given two incompetent Presidents, the one who everyone pretends is brilliant is by far the greater danger.” Agreed with the sentiment, though not of your assessment of the two presidents in question. I’ll certainly not give Obama blanket absolution, but lumping him & Trump into the same general bucket of incompetence seems akin to saying that Al Franken & Harvey Weinstein both harassed women.

        Ebola’s symptoms & fatality rate may have been scarier, but the threat never came close to what this virus poses. A virus that spreads easily and will likely result in thousands if not tens of thousands of deaths (not to mention he financial devastation) is the one worth being more frightened of.

        You spilled a decent amount of ink on Ebola saying that the public should be worried about it because of the administration’s response. I just think it’s disingenuous to go after democrats & the media on this when:
        1) people are dying
        2) the virus is spreading rapidly
        3) the president is lying at worst, clueless at best
        4) there’s been inadequate testing from the jump
        5) Mike “smoking doesn’t kill” Pence has been put in charge of the response

        I could go on but you get the point. This administration has not been doing a great job – and I think fear induced by the incompetence of dear leader is largely the driving force behind virus-related anxieties.

        • Honestly, I don’t know what a “great job” would be. It’s all consequentialism, right? If the thing causes less havoc than elsewhere,and abates within a tolerable time, fair people will take the “well, I guess they did all right” position. Others will find fault with what Trump does no matter what happens. Swine flu, which was milder than this one, perhaps,was handled by the Obama Administration as well as could be expected. From April 12, 2009, to April 10, 2010, in the United States, there were 60.8 million cases of swine flu, 274,304 hospitalizations and 12,469 deaths, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated. I have no doubt that if the President had been Trump, the news media would have been condemning the federal response.

          Trump, being a chaotic manager, certainly appears more incompetent than Obama in style, but your Al Franken & Harvey Weinstein comparison is fanciful. I have a “Obama Administration incompetence ethics train wreck” tag. The ACA website rollout? The Secret Service? The multiple defense department sexual harassment scandals? Syria? Libya? Benghazi? The IRS? The Iran deal? Fast and Furious? The admitted failure of the Obama administration to respond to the Russian election interference? The botched response to Trayvon Martin? The only way you can call President Obama competent is by just ignoring reality in favor of PR and style, as well as partisan bias.

          I’m serious about missing you, by the way. That wasn’t sarcastic.

          • Agreed that it’s hard to assess what a great job looks like in this context, but it’s already pretty clear that a number of things have been botched in this case – especially when we saw this exact scenario playing out in a number a countries before it hit here, and knew it would hit here eventually.

            I’m not too interested in arguing the merits and failures Obama’s presidency in detail, but again I don’t see how you can lump them together in any regard. I mean, Trump’s been too incompetent to even pull off most of the shady things he’s wanted to do! So in a weird way, I sort of appreciate his incompetence to a degree 🙂

            • It was interesting to see the Governor of California, of all people, praising Trumps’ handling of the pandemic so far. I think his motivation is obvious: he knows he can’t do much of anything to control things, so he’s making the point that even a competent response won’t work to hold off his own critics.

              • I’d be interested in knowing more about the context of Newsom’s comment as it seemed specific to the repatriation of cruise passengers. It’s great that Trump helped with this and did what he said he would – credit where credit is due. But last week my wife praised me for bringing home all the correct things from the grocery list – and I knew that praise was mostly given because I usually forget something or buy the wrong thing – and I’ll do it again in the future. Getting 100% on one grocery list one time doesn’t make me a good shopper in her eyes.

  7. One idea Sanders is “open to” is the federal government provide a $200 “citizenship news voucher” to all Americans, who would then use the voucher to support public media outlets of their choosing, some of which would explain current events from a “populist” perspective.

    So instead of simply sending the funds directly to a government-funded media organization, Sanders wants to give some of the money to Americans so they can give it back to the government via their subsidized news organ.

    How bloody Byzantine and ripe for abuse is that scheme? Seriously, I can see the news organizations paying people to “buy” the vouchers from indifferent proles for half their value in cash, then returning them to the “news service” employing them.

    The Democrats (and even some Republicans) just love schemes like vouchers and food stamps that can be turned into cash so they can claim they aren’t sponsoring drunks or drug abusers all while doing just that. As if Americans are too stupid to figure out how to game a system that simple.

    And the NYT sits back and cheerleads it. Wow.

      • True. Now imagine they were paid by government vouchers worth $200 and given for free to citizens. Think they might be willing to pay a citizen $100 cash to get that $200 voucher otherwise worth nothing to that citizen?

  8. We were in the middle east last month, and so were a surprising number of Chinese tourists at some places. Following CDC guidelines and local traditions, we stoned them.

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