Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/25/2020: “Snap Out Of It!”

This is applicable to so many aspects of today I don’t have space to list them. Prime among them are the apparent re-runs of the George Floyd riots in various cities, this time tied to the death of Breonna Taylor and the fact that the cops who didn’t murder her weren’t charged with murder.  Hmmm…are these more stupid than the St. George riots, less stupid, or exactly as stupid?

1. I wonder…has the NFL killed more innocent black men than police over the years? Gale Sayers, the legendary Chicago Bears running back, died this week from “complications of dementia,” almost certainly meaning he was another victim of CTE suffered from playing what a friend calls “Concussionball.”

Well, as much as NFL fans might resent having players pollute entertainment with half-baked politicsal grandstanding, you can bet they would rather watch meaningless kneeling during the “Star-Spangled Banner” than forfeit the fun of watching human beings destroy their brains for cash.

2. This guy isn’t helping...Officer John Goulart, Jr., reported that at a shopping center in Pineville, La, Goulart was shot once in the leg and anotherbullet hit the back door of his patrol car. However, investigators determined that Goulart  fired those shots, including the one that hit him in the leg,  himself.  Now he’s under arrest. [Pointer: valkygrrl]

3. Well, now we know what the penalty is for attempted cannibalism. 23-year-old Joaquin, Texas resident Alexander Nathan Barter, aka the “Dark Web Cannibal”, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison after his plot to murder, have post-mortem sex with and then eat a teenage girl was foiled. Barter pleaded guilty to child exploitation charges in December of 2019, then this week received his sentence, which also included permanent supervision following his release from prison when he’s 63 years-old.

In October of 2018, Barter posted an web ad that read “I’d like to try necrophilia and cannibalism, and see how it feels to take a life. If you’d be willing to let me kill you, are in the US (preferably in the south) and can travel by car, contact me.” An  undercover officer saw the disturbing ad and contacted Barter, pretending to be the father of a yummy 13-year-old girl in Florida. Barter repeatedly told the officer in messages that he wanted to rape, kill, and eat the child . Officers arrested Barter at the pre-arranged meeting place where the aspiring cannibal expected to get his lunch date.   Federal Agent Mark Dawson told reporters,  “In my 23-year-career in law enforcement, this is among the most morally depraved and appalling criminal conspiracies that I have come across. Without the quick and decisive actions of special agents from HSI Cocoa Beach and HSI Beaumont, this disturbed predator would still be out there looking for potential victims to carry out his sick and demented fantasies.”

4. I’m shocked—shocked!—that so-called “kinder capitalism” is a crock! Decades ago I was involved in research and various studies at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce regarding what was called “corporate responsibility” then, and “kinder capitalism” today.  The studies were always filled with exalted references to “stakeholders” and other jargon from consultants. My conclusion at the time was that corporations flogging the theme of their dedication to the good of society were engaged in what we now know as virtue signalling, and it was almost always a deceitful PR ploy. This observation became a conviction when I worked as an ethics consultant for a well-known tobacco company that gave large grants to cancer research organizations. The current rush to endorse fad movements like pandemic isolation and Black Lives Matter are just the current manifestation of the same phenomenon. Corporations serve society best when they do what they are designed to do, which is to provide necessary goods and services of quality and reliability at fair and affordable prices, and to employ as many people as possible while making money for investors and stockholders. Charitable contributions are always appreciated.

Now a new study by a consulting firm concludes that so-called “stakeholder capitalism” is mostly talk, which hardly required a study to discern. The New York Times sums up the findings:

The Business Roundtable’s statement of a purpose of a corporation, released last year, was touted by prominent executives as a landmark in the evolution of corporate governance. But its signatories have done no better than other companies in protecting jobs, labor rights and workplace safety during the pandemic, while failing to distinguish themselves in pursuit of racial and gender equality, according to the study.

5. Fake News! How many people realize it? The New York Times headline, “Republican Inquiry Finds No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Biden, is false. Not misleading, not ambiguous. False. Get a few paragraphs into the article and you will see that…

….financial records obtained by the senators…showed Hunter Biden receiving large sums of money — sometimes as large as seven figures — from foreigners in China, Russia and elsewhere while his father was in office.

Elsewhere, the Times states,

[The report] was also filled with details that emphasized the unseemly appearance created by the younger Mr. Biden’s involvement with Burisma, given his father’s position. Section 8 of the report was entitled “HUNTER BIDEN: A SECRET SERVICE PROTECTEE WHILE ON BURISMA’S BOARD.”

And yet the article adopts the defensive position of Democrats, who

…accused Republicans of cherry-picking their findings. All 10 witnesses interviewed by investigators, they noted, had testified that neither Mr. Biden nor anyone else had altered American policy because of his son. “Every witness stated that Hunter Biden and his associates had no role in the formulation of U.S. policy, that Hunter Biden’s role did not influence U.S. foreign policy decisions, and that Vice President Biden carried out U.S. foreign policy in the interest of the United States,” the Democrats wrote.

How does anyone know that? Biden had responsibilities regarding U.S. policies toward nations and entities that were financing his son. That’s a textbook conflict of interest, and the unaddressed existence conflicts of interest (and their automatic byproduct, “the appearance of impropriety”) constitute wrongdoing by public officials and government officers. The President and Vice President are immune from punishment for such wrongdoing under government ethics regulations, but that doesn’t mean ithe conduct isn’t wrong.

Biden was obligated to recuse himself from any matters involving his son and his son’s influence peddling.He didn’t. The Times spin is pure misrepresentation and a pro-Biden cover-up.

17 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/25/2020: “Snap Out Of It!”

  1. You are underestimating the swamp. If you say “financial records obtained by the senators…showed Hunter Biden receiving large sums of money — sometimes as large as seven figures — from foreigners in China, Russia and elsewhere while his father was in office” to anyone at the New York Times or any Democratic (and most Republican) politicians, they would just say “aaaand?”. They don’t understand that this is wrong. They don’t understand it because this is how they live their lives. That is why Hunter Biden admitted that he couldn’t have gotten the money and deals he got if his father hadn’t been Vice President. This is his whole life and the life of everyone he knows. I have brought this up with some of the Democrats that I know and they don’t see what the problem is. They think you are supposed to use family influence to get jobs and deals. If you say, “The wife of the mayor of Moscow gave Hunter Biden $3.5 million” they will just think that is great for Hunter Biden.

    This is why the Democratic Party seems to be the party that takes care of the rich, the criminal, and the indigent. The people in the middle are left to vote Republican or independent in the hope that someone will listen to their needs.

  2. I wonderhow the Times would have reported it if Hunter was the guy from #3.

    I can see the spin that at least Hunter preferred to eat only white meat. Rationalizing ” There are worse things”.

    Sorry There are times I get pulled to the dark side.

  3. It’s a curious thing that various Russian and Chinese entities are so eager to engage the services of unqualified kicked-out-of-the-navy cokeheads when they don’t benefit at all from it. Must be a cultural thing.

    • I didn’t see your comment in the other thread till today. If you tell me what recent stuff you’ve liked or show me your Goodreads list I’ll see what I can come up with.

      • 😉

        I started a Goodreads list, but haven’t maintained it…It’s under the same name I use here.
        Was it you who recommended the Murderbot set? Liked those, but too short. Right now, sweeping up the last few Terry Pratchett things I hadn’t gotten around to (e.g., Long Earth series). Often binge read if I find a new author or good series (most recently, Pendergast novels). Some other recent and not-too-distant favorites, in no particular order: Neal Stephenson, Tim Powers, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Bernard Cornwell, Michener, David McCullough, Crichton, Patrick O’Brian,…and waiting, with everyone else for George Martin to cough up “Winds of Winter”, although I’m not sure it will be worth the bother trying to recall enough details of what came before. Sometimes veer into things like the “Jack Reacher” or “Dexter” stuff, or even some of the books my wife likes, if I’m desperate.

        Back in the day, went through most of the “classics”, like Bradbury, Clarke, McCaffrey, Ellison, Norton, Farmer, Azimov, Tolkien, etc. Heinlein’s “juveniles” probably started it, along with reading Poe and “Dracula” in the 4th or 5th grade, and seeing the original “Godzilla” in my footie pajamas in the back seat of my parents’ car at the drive-in. Warped for life…oh well…

        • I can work with that. Gibson and Stephenson say you’re good with long books and don’t mind if the author is overly wordy–I swear you could cut a couple hundred pages out of Seveneves and not miss anything and I like Seveneves. Gaiman and Pratchett mean you like fun and funny and don’t mind some fantastical. Murderbot–The fifth book Network Effect is novel-length BTW and features the return of ART–means you don’t mind non-hetrosexuals or non-western standards of family or gender expression. And nothing you listed is niche so I don’t need to worry about something fairly popular putting you off.

          I’ve been recommending to right-wingers who don’t mind something YA-ish, J A Sutherland’s Alex Carew books because he’s librarian leaning right winger but not a Trumpy one and who doesn’t enjoy Hornblower innnnnn spaaaaaace

          The recently released To Sleep in a Sea of Stars might work for you. I’m only half finished with it myself. Fron the author of Eragon it’s very referential of other media. It has a very strong The Guyver vibe going on. The Manga, not the movie.

          I suggested to Jack and to anyone who liked Starship Trooopers, The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley. It’s Starship Troopers meets Slaughterhouse-Five. And before that I was pushing John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War to the same people.

          If you’re in the mood for funny space opera go with Terminal Alliance (Janitors of the Post-Apocolypse) By Jim C Hines.

          If you like Jack Reacher books try Kristine Smith’s Jani Kilian stories starting with Code of Conduct.

          There are other goodies out there but you didn’t list anything similar to my recent favorites like Ancillary Justice or Gideon The Ninth.

          • Thanks for that; I’ll follow up on your suggestions.
            Assuming a dispensation from Jack to spend more of his blog’s electrons on EA Book Club, I agree on Seveneves. Stephenson spent way too much time in the first half producing more heat than flight, then ended the book when things had started getting interesting again. I appreciate the detail that obviously comes from significant research and effort, but he sometimes tends to wander off into lengthy and pedantic detours.

            Don’t really mind what types of characters an author provides as long as they produce an engaging story and don’t sacrifice the narrative to flog the reader with their social views. Think Ken Folett a few books after Pillars of the Earth. Even professional reviewers noted the deterioration.

            Some YA stuff can be quite good (some is pretty bad, granted)…e.g., Jonathan Stroud (Bartemaeus trilogy…You’d probably like it if you haven’t read it already). Actually, the Pratchett books I’m finishing up right now are the Johnny Maxwell set.

            I can only take so much Jack Reacher without taking a break. The character, as written, while an inventive paladin, is too much of a borderline sociopathic ass to be enjoyable for long stretches.

            Not sure what I can offer in return. I didn’t mention Douglas Adams, previously, but I’d bet you’ve already been there. If you occasionally want something light, but a bit different in its genre, Lindsey Davis and Steven Saylor do some entertaining Roman (as in ancient Rome) mysteries. I may be unduly influenced to appreciate those. My wife taught Latin & we visited Italy frequently. (Although she was also in Girl Scouts with Charlaine Harris, but I could never get into the True Blood thing.) We’re from the south; you can’t throw a Moon Pie around here without hitting some author or another 😉

            • I’m not sure how I missed it in the past but I’ve recently found a YA gem in The Invisible Library. It’s fantasy though not scifi. Specifically, it’s portal fantasy, step through a door and into another world. The library connects to pseudo-Victorian world with vampires and fae, it connects to 80’s Miami Vice word (Books six), it connects to the world where Jane Austen wrote cozy mysteries. Great fun.

              Now, I have fulfilled my end of the bargain, we require your oath.

              You, your allies, agents, vassals, or anyone whose actions you can control shall not kill me, my family in the first degree of consanguinity, or my direct vassals or through inaction allow our immediate deaths (you may decline to donate organs.)

              Do you so swear?

              • I’ll honor my part of the agreement, and extend it to everyone over whom (I imagine) I have influence. I exempt the cat. He spends a lot of time in the basement, and may know the combination to the gun safe. God alone knows what he might do; you’re on your own with him.

  4. 5. From a reliable source: The radical abortion rights group All Catholics Are Barretts is planning to storm the grounds of the White House and erect a sign at the entry doors that says “You must be White, Male, over age 75, and sexually excited by little girls to live in this house.”

  5. Item #2 is the sort of stupidity I have seen before. The guy accidentally shoots himself in the leg, then stupidly rolls the dice and fakes the rest of the story to try and avoid the consequences of the negligent firearm discharge. There are usually numerous holes and inconsistencies in such stories and the truth comes to light soon enough. The guy has revealed his true nature and rightfully is separated from his employment. No other responsible police agency will touch him.
    Years ago an officer I knew socially pulled a similar stunt but wasn’t injured. He was outside his vehicle, handling an unfamiliar handgun he had just bought. He accidentally fired a round through his windshield. His coverup involved shooting more rounds through the windshield, then moving the car to another location and claiming he was fired upon by someone in a passing vehicle. It was quickly noticed that the angle of the shots fired was inconsistent with his statements about where the shots came from, It was also noticed that the front of his uniform was free of glass particles which literally covered the front seats of the car, including the seat he was allegedly sitting in. When interviewed and confronted, he confessed to the hoax. He no longer works in law enforcement.

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