An Unethical Quotes Of The Week Cornucopia!

So many people are saying so many irresponsible, dishonest and stupid things in the throes of the Wuhan Virus freakout that I can’t possibly run all of them, or even a representative percentage, but I can’t let these pass.

1. President Trump, yesterday…

“This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

Sometimes I think the President is actively trying to make people’s heads explode. As the New Yor Times quickly documented (on the front page), this is historical revisionism, gaslighting, or insanity.

  • On Jan. 22, asked by a CNBC reporter whether there were “worries about a pandemic,” President Trump replied: “No, not at all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
  • On Feb. 26, at a White House news conference, he said,  “We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.”
  • On Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”
  • On March 7, when asked if he was concerned that the virus was spreading closer to Washington: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job.”

As I have written here before, I refuse to make a big deal out of Trump being Trump, and those who do are simply being self indulgent. Some irresponsible statements are worse than others, and yesterday’s was especially outrageous. It’s in the category of lies that are almost not lies because no one could possibly believe them, like if the President said he was a Stegosaurus. However, if the public knows that whatever he says might be a temporary fantasy, his leadership ability is seriously handicapped. The problem with this kind of statement isn’t that it’s so obviously untrue, but that saying it is so spectacularly self-destructive and stupid.

2. MSNBC Analyst Glenn Kirschner, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, in a tweet:

“Hey All. Can we talk about 1 of the few topics I may actually know too much about: homicide? Specifically, whether Donald Trump may have criminal exposure for some level of negligent homicide or voluntary/involuntary manslaughter for the way he’s mishandled the Coronavirus crisis”

I’m going to offer this one as an Ethics Alarms Challenge: let’s see who can compose the most vivid and appropriately denigrating rhetoric to describe this hack’s inexcusable exposition of State 5 Trump Derangement at its worst. Never mind that the evidence that the President has “mishandled” a public health crisis that absolutely no one knows how to handle, or that non-partisan experts like Dr. Fauci and some partisan critics alike have refused to take such cheap shots. Let’s try to concentrate on the fact that criminalizing high level policy decisions is such an irresponsible and dangerous concept, and that such a prosecution would be a breach of prosecutor ethics from the outset.

What an asshole.

3. Former Obama NSC staffer Beth Cameron:

  “I ran the White House pandemic office. Trump closed it.” 

I’m just picking her because ex-Obama officials have been especially vicious lately. Joe Biden made the same false assertion on March 1.  Along  with the related lie that the President cut the CDC budget, this one has taken on the character of a Big Lie. Naturally the news media picked up the refrain without checking the facts. The Washington Post alone pushed the accusation in five other op-eds or stories. The false claim was repeated over and over.  DNC chairman Tom Perez said on CNN that President Barack Obama “created an office of preparedness in the White House. And what does this president do? He eliminates it.” The DNC Twitter account tweeted that Trump “eliminated the government’s pandemic response team.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) said on Twitter, “Would be good to have a pandemic response team at the NSC right now. Like we did before Trump eliminated it,.” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) tweeted “Two years ago, President Trump fired the entire global health security team at the White House. Their job? Managing pandemics.”

You want to know why the President won’t stop tweeting? This is why the Presient won’t stop tweeting.

Then on Monday, the Post ran an op-ed that should have not have had to be run at all. I just watched “All the President’s Men” again: when did the Post stop confirming allegations before it ran them as fact?

“No, the White House didn’t ‘dissolve’ its pandemic response office. I was there,” wrote former National Security Council adviser Tim Morrison. “It has been alleged by multiple officials of the Obama administration, including in the Post, that the President and his then-national security adviser, John Bolton, ‘dissolved the office’ at the White House in charge of pandemic preparedness. Because I led the very directorate assigned that mission, the counter-proliferation and biodefense office, for a year and then handed it off to another official who still holds the post, I know the charge is specious…”

He went on to explain that as part of an effort to slim down the bloated National Security Council, the directorate of global health and biodefense was merged with two other positions, not eliminated.

“It is this reorganization that critics have misconstrued or intentionally misrepresented… If anything, the combined directorate was stronger because related expertise could be commingled,”  Morrison wrote.

I dunno…sound like negligent homicide to me…

34 thoughts on “An Unethical Quotes Of The Week Cornucopia!

    • I just reread the statement Trump made, “This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

      That statement might actually be a statement of fact, we don’t actually know what President Trump felt.

      He literally said he felt it was a pandemic” but of course we know that what he said publicly was not inline with that feeling. I think it’s become pretty clear that the things he publicly stated regarding the pandemic was potemkin rhetoric. Why do I say that; I say that because it’s become pretty clear that behind the scenes President Trump was trying to do the things he could to slow the pandemic here in the United States. I think President Trump was trying to be “Presidential” and promote calm over panic before the pandemic broke out here. If you look back at some of those earlier press conferences, you can hear the President’s demeanor, he was choking out those words – I noticed Trump’s uncomfortable demeanor at those earlier press conferences and it just clicked why – he was uncomfortable knowing lying to the American people to prevent panic.

      It may be rationalizing (King’s Pass?) but I’m giving the President a pass on this one.

      Okay, discuss.

      • Steve,
        People forget it was the Director of the WHO that criticized Trumps travel ban in February and stated that the virus was not a problem and Trump was fear mongering and stigmatizing those affected.

        So if Trump places a travel ban when the WHO say such bans are unnecessary that suggests Trump did feel that there could be a pandemic before the WHO recognized it as a pandemic irrespective of Trumps public statements designed to play down fears.

        • If I remember correctly, the left leaning media was actually attacking Trump and calling Trumps shut-down of flights into the USA “xenophobia” and now that same media is saying that Trump hasn’t done enough and should be blamed for the spread in the United States. The left doesn’t even try to hide their hypocrisy and double standards anymore.

        • People forget it was the Director of the WHO that criticized Trumps travel ban in February and stated that the virus was not a problem and Trump was fear mongering and stigmatizing those affected.

          When did this criticism happen and do you have a citation?

  1. 1. Exactly why Trump should not be President, but is because his opponents are so much worse on every policy issue and I’m going to vote for him to add on 4 more years of his sometimes dangerous non-sense. Necessary ick.
    2. Assistant US Attorney for what, utterly biased morons? How about we bring him up on treason charges for his misstatements…just to join his dumbass club?
    3. Lying liars lying some more. Enemies of civilization just doing their jobs.

    • #2. I would have asked him what he thought about charges for the people who put infected people on a trans-Pacific plane flight with uninfected people despite orders to the contrary from the President. Intentionally infecting a bunch of people in the air and on the ground in defiance of your lawful orders should expose you to more legal consequences, correct? Also, why can’t we get the name of those State Department employees? Are they the same ones that complained to the press that ground personnel in the US were put at risk because they were not given training or equipment to deal with infected people when the planes landed?

    • NYT’s Tommy “totalitarian states are way much better” Friedman educates us with this insight in today’s OpEd:

      Our political culture may also change before this is over. My friend Prof. Michele Gelfand from the University of Maryland is the author of “Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire the World.”

      In an essay in The Boston Globe last week, Gelfand recalled that in a paper she and her colleagues published in Science several years ago, they classified countries in terms of how much they prioritized rules over freedom as either “tight” or “loose,” writing: “Tight societies, like China, Singapore and Austria have many rules and punishments governing social behavior. Citizens in those places are used to a high degree of monitoring aimed at reinforcing good behavior. Loose cultures, in countries such as the United States, Italy and Brazil, have weaker rules and are much more permissive.”

      These differences in tightness and looseness, she argued, were not random: “Countries with the strongest laws and strictest punishments are those with histories of famine, warfare, natural disasters, and, yes, pathogen outbreaks. These disaster-prone nations have learned the hard way over centuries: Tight rules and order save lives. Meanwhile, cultures that have faced few threats — such as the United States — have the luxury of remaining loose.”

      It’s been pretty obvious, said Gelfand, that “famously ‘tight’ societies like Singapore and Hong Kong … have demonstrated the most effective response to Covid-19.”

      Well done, Tommy boy. You’ve attempted to rationalize China’s inexcusable actions by giving us a history lesson – your pals in Beijing will certainly appreciate your efforts since it supports their ongoing narrative of China as both victim and savior.

        • This is factually correct. What she calls a “loose” society does have people who don’t follow rules. Also, such societies tend to have loose rules: late rules, silly rules, light rules, debatable rules, and rules with holes big enough to drive a stagecoach through. What is needed for the loose society is a public that understands when a rule is important (because it can trust where it’s coming from) and will comply without understanding it at first in its entirety (if not without question and complaint), and a media that will back up the source of the rule. This is what we need: neither loose nor tight, but (when needed to be) just right.

  2. #3 The left is mindlessly spewing anti-Trump propaganda at every turn they don’t give a shit whether the propaganda is based on truth or lies and the anti-Trumpers are salivating for more and more!

  3. #4 The DNC held their Arizona, Illinois, and Florida Primaries in the middle of an epidemic.

    Because of course they did. While everyone and their dog is preaching the gospel of social distancing Tom Perez couldn’t find it in himself to postpone the primaries or change the format to mail-in. This caused a record-low voter turnout for these primaries, but that’s OK, there was record low turnout for people running the booths too, so people, including Florida’s disproportionate senior population, stood in lines for upwards of eight hours to cast their votes for Statler or Woldorf.

    I never want to hear about social responsibility from a DNC shill ever again.

    • #4 The DNC held their Arizona, Illinois, and Florida Primaries in the middle of an epidemic.

      Not so much. The DNC doesn’t hold primaries.

      In a couple places that aren’t Illinois Florida or Arizona, the state-level parties hold caucuses, and in Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, and North Dakota they hold something called a firehouse primary. Everywhere else the primary elections are held when the law says they are.

      Who exactly is it you think is empowered to just delay or cancel an election? Hint, it isn’t Tom Perez.

      • I learn a new thing every day. It blows my mind that the DNC and RNC have forfeited so much of their self-determination to the states. This is in stark contract to Canadian parties, which hold leadership conventions on their own, pursuant to party rules.

        In light of this, I’d like to correct my Previous statement, with apologies to Tom Perez:

        #4 Arizona, Illinois, and Florida held Primaries in the middle of an epidemic.

        Because of course they did. While everyone and their dog is preaching the gospel of social distancing, The Republican Governments of Florida and Arizona, and the Democratis government of Illinois couldn’t find it in themselves to postpone the primaries or change the format to mail-in. This caused a record-low voter turnout for these primaries, but that’s OK, there was record low turnout for people running the booths too, so people, including Florida’s disproportionate senior population, stood in lines for upwards of eight hours to cast their votes for Statler or Woldorf.

        I never want to hear about social responsibility from any of these idiots ever again.

        • You already blamed one innocent person. Don’t you think it behooves you to discover if there is even a legal way to cancel or delay primaries in Illinois, Arizona, and Florida?

          Ohio did it, but there’s a good chance that it wasn’t legal.

          • The funny thing about legislative bodies is that they can legislate. Even if there were laws on the books setting primary dates, there’s nothing saying an emergency bit of legislation couldn’t have been pushed through to change that.

            And then, as you pointed out, they could just have ignored their laws. Right now, rights are being trampled across the board. For States to dictate that businesses can’t operate and that they can’t assemble in groups larger than whatever arbitrary number of people they’re currently using almost certainly flies in the face of the first amendment. And while I don’t particularly like it, I at least understand it, and this seems like a really weird line to draw in the sand.

  4. Hey, lets use the progressive tactic to avoid responsibility by distinguishing the difference between what Trump says and what he feels. Obviously, because he himself is a germaphobe, he felt there was a pandemic but he had to put aside his personal fears and repeated what all his experts were telling him otherwise he might have caused a panic leading to toilet paper shortages across this great land (sarcasm alert)

    We must remind ourselves that we criticize presidents when they speak without considering the effect their words carry. Criticizing the following public statements because he played down the pandemic initially is hypocritical at best for had he made a big deal out of the handful of cases at the time and caused what we are witnessing among the populace now he would have been condemned as a leader that instilled fear in the public.

    As stated:
    On Jan. 22, asked by a CNBC reporter whether there were “worries about a pandemic,” President Trump replied: “No, not at all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

    It was at that time that Trump stopped travel from China and was blasted by the media for his racist policy.

    On Feb. 26, at a White House news conference, he said, “We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.”

    If the number infected on Feb 26 was not quite five that is not exactly epidemic proportions requiring virtual martial law as we have now. The second part which includes “. . .could be at just one or two people . . . we have had good luck”, is simply guesswork “could” and “should” are substantially different that “will” or “shall”.

    On February 26, would it have been wise to create widespread panic given that health officials had little understanding of virus’ infectiousness or even its lifespan outside the body? I don’t think so. Remember when everyone put tremendous distance between themselves and gays in the early 80’s because of fear.

    On Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”

    For non-medical professionals that is an accurate statement. The flu season simply disappears without any massive interventions like those that contained the spread of yellow fever. The flu season comes and the flu season goes. It is LIKE a miracle.

    On March 7, when asked if he was concerned that the virus was spreading closer to Washington: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job.”

    Again, all the pundits were saying Trump is no comforter in chief and often fails to give people a sense of hope and security.

    Every leader will attempt to play down events that could lead to panic. I do wish Trump had closed the markets to trading after the markets lost 20% of its value. The SEC should have put a temporary halt on stock futures contracts which I believe is fueling the panic selling. We pay attention to those hoarding hand sanitizers and reselling them at astronomical prices but no one is watching the stock manipulators as the short the market.

    Point 2
    “Hey All. Can we talk about 1 of the few topics I may actually know too much about: homicide? Specifically, whether Donald Trump may have criminal exposure for some level of negligent homicide or voluntary/involuntary manslaughter for the way he’s mishandled the Coronavirus crisis”

    Obviously this is a partisan cheap shot because we never hold Justice department officials criminally liable because of the way they handle repeat criminal defendants (Kate Steinley anyone).

    However, the damages of Covid 19 are more aptly handled by tort law given the economic damage that has occurred. Perhaps, Glenn Kirschner will get his buddies at Justice to bring suit against China for unleashing this virus on the world. If we succeed we will agree to take recovery of costs in the form of cancelling some or all of our debt to China.

    Point 3.
    I trust the factual validity of Democratic attacks on this president less than I do many of Trump’s actual statements. As for the WAPO, until they begin legitimately to fact check statements made by Trump’s opposition I cannot trust any fact check they provide.

    • Apologies, Chris. I hadn’t read your post before I wrote about the Feb. 27 “disappearing flu” Tweet being accurate (however adventitious). Some flu “seasons” are longer than others, but they do go away and to a certain extent, we have to wait them out.

      That’s what my friends in Berlin are doing (aged between late 20s and 52): they have a light cough for two or three weeks, then some have already recovered and others are not coughing so much. They also have to remember to continue the prevention techniques. One of the emails suggested that even foreigners living there follow the rules more strictly than they would “at home.”

  5. As I have written here before, I refuse to make a big deal out of Trump being Trump, and those who do are simply being self indulgent. Some irresponsible statements are worse than others, and yesterday’s was especially outrageous. It’s in the category of lies that are almost not lies because no one could possibly believe them, like if the President said he was a Stegosaurus. However, if the public knows that whatever he says might be a temporary fantasy, his leadership ability is seriously handicapped. The problem with this kind of statement isn’t that it’s so obviously untrue, but that saying it is so spectacularly self-destructive and stupid.

    By the standards of the New York Times, what Trump said was wrong, but accurate, like the 1619 Project.

    “Hey All. Can we talk about 1 of the few topics I may actually know too much about: homicide? Specifically, whether Donald Trump may have criminal exposure for some level of negligent homicide or voluntary/involuntary manslaughter for the way he’s mishandled the Coronavirus crisis”

    Did this same logic apply to Barack Obama?

    http://pjmedia.com/trending/did-obama-botch-the-response-to-the-h1n1-outbreak-heres-what-media-fact-checks-arent-telling-you/

    Barack Obama Department of Health and Human Services declared the H1N1 pandemic a “national health emergency” on April 29, 2009, but didn’t declare it a “national emergency” until October–two months after the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic. A thousand Americans had already died due to the virus at this point. It can’t be a coincidence that Obama finally declared H1N1 a national emergency just days before a congressional oversight panel slammed the government’s response to the pandemic as inadequate and incomplete. In addition to being ill-prepared, the Obama administration failed to achieve its vaccine production goals. The New York Times reported in January 2010 that the Obama administration “predicted in early summer [2009] that it would have 160 million vaccine doses by late October,” but that “it ended up with less than 30 million,” leading to a public outcry and congressional investigations.

    • But the whole argument is stupid. There are multiple redundant functions in the government. Pretending that moving around functions and eliminating a named group, committee or task force is equal to eliminating the function is an argument aimed at morons. Why defend it? At best the accusation is deceitful. I once did a study of how many groups and task forces had the same assignments and purposes, in areas all over the map. It was astounding, and that was some time ago: you know it’s worse now. Acting as if moving around—or even eliminating—-a single group actually has any deleterious impact on the ability to cover the issue is either dishonest or uninformed.

      • You have no idea whether that’s true or not in this case. At my company when functions get “streamlined”, sometimes it works & makes sense, and sometimes it doesn’t and the multiple functions/responsibilities that get combined suffer as a result (and are often split back out).

        My job is a perfect example. When I started working at my company it was it’s own highly specialized role. At some point management figured it would make more sense to “streamline” the work we did by shifting our various responsibilities into different existing roles. Made sense on it’s face – but in the end it didn’t work. The roles that absorbed our functions still had all of their old responsibilities, and those were top priority. Their new responsibilities were an afterthought, and either didn’t get done or were done poorly. They had neither the time nor the knowledge to do the job that needed to be done – so the role was recreated and the job functions were reallocated to where they rightfully belonged. This experiment was based on faulty assumptions made by our leadership in an effort to save money both for us and our clients. But in the end, our clients suffered because of it and we earned a years long reputation in the industry for not being able to deliver in this area.

        I have no idea whether in this case the changes had a direct impact on our country’s ability to respond to this crisis, but I would not at all be surprised if it did because I’ve seen it happen first hand. And the admin certainly seems to have been caught flat footed. Does pointing that out make me dishonest, uninformed, deceitful or a moron? Do you not realize that for every experience you’ve had that supports a stance you’ve taken, there’s almost always going to be examples that support the opposite – even if you’ve never experienced them personally?

        • I have a pretty good idea. The Federal bureaucracy is unimaginably huge, and expanding constantly. This kind of function—preparing for a contingency that is well known—is exactly the kind of activity that gets duplicated, usually many times. We also have an idea unless you choose to completely discount the statement by Morrison.Why would you do that, since it jibes with what we know about the government? There’s no special reason such a task force would have to be located in the White House. The claims of Biden et al. suggest that nobody had this issue among his or her responsibilities. Unlikely to the vanishing point. Hence it’s deceit.

          • I’ll grant you that due diligence is not being done to adequately describe what happened – like I said there’s a long of nuance, and nuance doesn’t make make for good sound bites or political attack ads. Whether that’s the fault of the person conveying the message, the unwillingness of an audience to want/take the time to understand the complexity of an issue, or some combination of both…I dunno.

            When our customers started escalating issues due to the scenario I described – someone could have said this is happening because we eliminated that role and they would not have been wrong. Someone else could have said this is happening because the people who were newly tasked with these functions didn’t do their jobs – and that also would not have been wrong. Of course whoever had proposed and implemented the change would have been on one side of that argument, and the ones against it from the start would be on the other side – but the truth would lie somewhere in the middle. Of course Bolton & Morrison are going to support the decisions they made and claim no responsibility. But the technicality of whether they eliminated or simply consolidated a function misses the important question entirely – did the decision make use more or less prepared to anticipate and respond to this crisis? ultimately even THAT doesn’t matter all that much – because in the end it doesn’t matter whether a particular configuration of bureaucrats worked better than another configuration may have worked. If the response sucks, it sucks!

            • If the response sucks, it sucks!

              Exactly, JS. And the problem is that we’re forced into consquentialism. If it worked, it didn’t suck even if a pinhead and a monkey were the team, or at least that will be the verdict. 50 Nobel Prize winners could divise a response, but if the results are bad, it won’t matter how “brilliant” the planing was.

  6. 2. Clearly, the lesson being taught here (for the millionth time) is this: if you beat a decrepit candidate like Hillary Clinton, the world has permission to blame you for anything or accuse you of everything.

  7. This one is true (just like the broken clock is correct twice a day):

    “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”

    Quite accurate: the virus, like any virus (think of the common cold) would/will weaken and disappear on its own whether it still had victims or not. That’s what happened after the 1918 epi(pan)demic. Prevention, treatments and vaccines are of course what we’re aiming for, but the virus would expire on its own. So, one day, will people who say dumb things.

    p.s. bacteria are a different story:

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