Distracted Ethics Warm-Up, 11/24/2020: “A Website, Two Governors And An Actress Walk Into A Bar…”


I’m writing this while simultaneously watching an Ethics Rock Extreme Zoom replay and answering typed-in questions from participants. Boy, I hate watching and listening to myself….

1. Unethical website? www.everylegalvote.com is labeled by the New York Times as “promoting claims of fraud, built on fantasy.” I’d call the big map showing Biden with 214 Electoral votes and the President with 232 misleading. I also find the Times’ constant refrain in headlines and stories that the President is “trying to subvert a free and fair election with false claims of fraud” an outright lie.” The 2020 election was not “fair” because of biased and manipulated reporting by the Times and most of the media, and there is no question that many of the allegations of fraud are accurate, with legitimate reasons to suspect broader corruption.

The site is also serving valid purpose since the news media isn’t reporting the current controversies objectively.

2. And this is why most celebrities and actors should shut up, because they make people stupid. Here is actress Kristen Stewart’s response to a interviewers question on how she feels about gay activists demanding that only gay actors should be allowed to play gay characters (Stewart decided she was gay mid-career. Whether she stays gay —think Ann Heche—is an open question. It’s all about branding…) :

I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who’s lived that experience. Having said that, it’s a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I’m going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law. I think it’s such a gray area. There are ways for men to tell women’s stories, or ways for women to tell men’s stories. But we need to have our finger on the pulse and actually have to care. You kind of know where you’re allowed. I mean, if you’re telling a story about a community and they’re not welcoming to you, then fuck off. But if they are, and you’re becoming an ally and a part of it and there’s something that drove you there in the first place that makes you uniquely endowed with a perspective that might be worthwhile, there’s nothing wrong with learning about each other. And therefore helping each other tell stories. So I don’t have a sure-shot answer for that….Sometimes, artfully speaking, you’re just drawn to a certain group of people. I could defend that, but I’m sure that somebody with a different perspective could make me feel bad about that — and then make me renege on everything I’ve just said. I acknowledge the world that we live in. And I absolutely would never want to traipse on someone else’s opportunity to do that — I would feel terrible about that. So my answer is fucking think about what you’re doing! And don’t be an asshole.

Thanks for that clarification, Kristen..

3. When bias becomes ridiculous: Yesterday, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded its International Emmy Founders Award to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his daily coronavirus briefings earlier this year.

“The Governor’s 111 daily briefings worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure,” the academy’s president and CEO, Bruce Paisner, explained in a statement last week announcing the decision. “People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and New York tough became a symbol of the determination to fight back.”

As the Governor allowed the subways to run, spreading the pandemic and helping to make New York City a wasteland, and as he sent infected seniors to nursing homes, killing thousand. But hey…that’s entertainment!

I’m just grateful the Emmys didn’t think of this stunt while Obama was in office.

4. “I’m shocked–shocked!”

An CNBC poll claims that few Trump voters consider Biden the legitimate 2020 election winner. concluding, “A mere 3% of voters for President Donald Trump think President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 election, while 73% think the incumbent was the victor, according to a CNBC/Change Research poll.” The story blames “Trump’s unsubstantiated claims,” of course.


  • You know: polls.
  • The main reason nobody trusts the current election results is that what was predicted if mail-in ballots were widely used occurred.
  • Another reason is that the mainstream media, like NBC, seems to be so incurious about reported irregularities, in stark contrast to hwo they covered Al Gore’s challenges to the Florida vote totals.
  • Yet another reason are the extravagant claims of the Trump campaign’s lawyers, which, if not backed up by evidence, warrant disciplinary sanctions.

5. Unethical…and stupid…Quotes of the Week: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Republican, said: “There’s no constitutional right to walk around without a mask.”

We’ll just see about THAT. More idiocy from Hogan, who blathered on social media:

“It’s sort of like saying I have a constitutional right to drive drunk. I have a constitutional right to not wear a seat belt, or to yell fire in a crowded movie theater, or to not follow the speed limit…We’re talking about a quarter of a million people dying already. You know, more than, you know, the Korean War, the Gulf War and the Vietnam War added together. Which part don’t you understand?”

This is the quality of mind we elect to high executive positions in America. We are the incompetents.

26 thoughts on “Distracted Ethics Warm-Up, 11/24/2020: “A Website, Two Governors And An Actress Walk Into A Bar…”

  1. That Kristen Stewart. She started off strong, kind of got muddled up in the middle, but really stuck the landing with this:

    “So my answer is fucking think about what you’re doing! And don’t be an asshole.”

    Words to live by.


  2. Reading a book about the hunt for John Wilkes Booth and lamenting the days when actors were literate…even if they were murderers.

  3. 2. And this is why most celebrities and actors should shut up, because they make people stupid. Kristen Stewart’s response is a variation of Authentic Frontier Gibberish which deserves its own designation. The Woke Dialect, perhaps.

    • It’s the call of the tufted high-flying influencer, notable for the lack of sufficient education and self-awareness to know that its opinion is uninformed and worthless, and that its decisions are made with the approximate precision of analysis required to flip a coin.

      • Don’t forget that it is also highly influenced by a deep fear of singing the one wrong note that will cause the woke mob to descend in all its fury. Thus, the noise weaves back and forth and circles itself, never actually imparting any useful opinion or information. It’s a sort of place-holder for actual thought. To those not listening, it sounds like a person is speaking, but upon closer inspection, it’s mostly just filling time until the interviewer asks the next question. At its heart, it’s just a mindless call-and-response performance.

  4. #3: Cuomo catching heat as it was learned that he invited his 89 yr old mother, and two daughters, to travel for Thanksgiving dinner with him. He’s now supposedly rescinded the invite.

  5. #1. How does the Times classify the unsubstantiated claim that voter ID suppresses minority voters. I have yet to see any direct concrete evidence that the claim is valid and even if true would such a suppression be large enough to affect the outcome of an election. The last part of this seems to be the reasoning for denying Trump’s petitions in that any evidence of fraud is so small that it would not change things yet I have not seen scores of people unable to produce a photo ID.

    #3. Cuomo gets an Emmy for a remake of Resident Evil.

    #5. Thank you for exposing Hogan’s idiocy on this matter. He also wasted 10 million dollars trying to out do Trump in getting tests rolled out. None of the tests could be used because our labs were not set up to perform the Korean tests. Message to Hogan stop trying to showcase your ties to South Korea and don’t let your wife Yumi drive spending decisions.

    On a more positive note:

    Given that this is Thanksgiving week perhaps we should all reflect on the sentiments expressed below.

    [New York, 3 October 1789]

    By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

    Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

    Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

    and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

    Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
    Go: Washington

    Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789 (archives.gov)

  6. I’m going to take a slight step back from politics, because what I’d like to talk about shouldn’t be political, but probably is, because it’s 2020 and everything is political. Apologies, this has absolutely nothing to do with the topics at hand, but the last Open Forum was long enough ago that I’m not sure if anyone would read this if I posted it there.

    I’d like to talk about that fickle bitch, time, and the concept of risk appetites.

    It’s been four years since the death of my father, I’ve related the details of his battle against that other fickle bitch, cancer, before and I won’t rehash the details again for the group, but I’d like to talk about what happened to me during and after the last week of his life.

    My father was 62, I was 31, and I was the CFO for a corporation that does about $750 million in sales per year. I worked ten hours a day, six days a week, and had a cell phone in my pocket I called “The Bat Phone” (Only For Use in Emergencies Only or I Fire You). While my father was dying I was able to spend his last week basically beside him, running triage for the family members that wanted to see him. I’ll never forget his sister, who read him the entire Canadian Tire flier while he was comatose.

    Regardless, I realized that I hadn’t seen many of my extended family members in years. I hadn’t seen one of my aunts in almost 15 years. Time, you see, is deceptive. My father died young, but how many years do we actually get to walk around, and how many of those years are “good years”? My mother is now 60, I have, what? 30 years on the outside to see her? 20 good years? Well, that sounds like a lot of time, doesn’t it? But if you only see your mother at Christmas, you don’t have 20 years… you have 20 visits. You have maybe 40 days to spend on your mother. My aunts and uncles on my dads side are older than he was. and I don’t even see them every Christmas, I have what? five, ten, visits with them left in the tank? One? None? There are people you know, maybe even like, that are alive, but you will never see again anyway. It’s a daunting thought. I’ve had maybe three life altering epiphanies in my life, and that was one of them.

    The hell do you do with that? I suppose it depends on how much you like your family. I mean that. If the idea that you only have five visits with your aunt doesn’t bother you, that’s fine. Have those five visits. Maybe the scarcity of those visits makes them special, go over the top, treat yourselves. But what if you want more? Well…. you do something about it. In my case, I resigned, oriented my replacement, moved two provinces over to a small city a 45 minute drive from most of my family, where I manage a much smaller, but *much* less stressful office. I get that that’s a pretty privileged thing to be able to do, so your mileage may vary, but if you don’t do something, nothing happens.

    Why is this topical? Because we’re being told not to attend Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings, or in the case of people intelligent enough to understand that people are going to ignore that advice, but not self-aware enough to understand how utterly ridiculous what they’re saying, to wear masks even outside, to not play music so people don’t have to raise their voices, not to hug, or blink too loud. One of my Twitter friends said today: “I love my parents enough not to see them this year, because I want to see them for the next 10”.

    That’s fair. I mean it. People who have compromised immune systems, or other underlying conditions, could very well get sick and die from Covid. And you could bring it to them. I can’t imagine what that would feel like.

    In risk assessment, we use a matrix, on one axis of the matrix we measure likelihood of something happening, and on the other, we measure severity. If something is unlikely to happen, and not severe if it does happen, it’s usually ignored. If something is unlikely, but catastrophic if it occurs, we insure against it, if something is likely to happen, but isn’t materially impactful, we plan for it, and if something is likely to happen and catastrophic, we actively mitigate it.

    Your parents are going to die. My father would not have lived a day longer if he also had Covid. Three days after you leave your parents to eat dinner alone, perhaps after an awkward phone conversation, they could have a coronary, get in an automobile accident, or fall down a flight of stairs. In fact, three times as many people die from those three things in a year than died of Covid in 2020.

    That’s the risk. You don’t have ten or twenty years, you probably have ten or twenty visits. Maybe even less than that. Maybe one. The number of people dying in nursing homes crying into iPad screens because they can’t hug their loved ones one last time is callous and cruel to the extent that it borders genuine evil. And in this time of petty tyrants, no one, No One, is better able to make those risk assessments than you. You know your family, you know your health, you know your risk appetite.

    Do what is best for you and the people you love, no matter what that is.

    • Great thoughts, HT. I remember, sadly, driving on the arterial closest to my mother and father’s place and not stopping in to see her/them and wondering why I didn’t. They were both in their 80s at the time and had moved across the country to be with one of their sons and two of their grandchildren in their last years. Why didn’t I do that?

      As someone once said, obviously not a big firm partner, “No one ever died regretting they hadn’t billed more hours.”

    • Well done. Time is fleeting, ¿no? It’s kind of like that horrible word, “if”. For instance, if I had known that my father only had six months to live, I would never have moved him from his home to Houston to live with me. I would have gone home to help out my younger brother. If . . .


    • Blargh….

      “My father died young, but how many years do we actually get to walk around” Should have been “My father died young, but even so, how many years do we normally get to walk around”, and

      “My father would not have lived a day longer if he also had Covid.” Should have been “My father wouldn’t have died a day earlier if he also had Covid.”

      I don’t know why, but every now and again I write the exact opposite of what I mean.

    • “I’m going to take a slight step back from politics, because what I’d like to talk about shouldn’t be political, but probably is, because it’s 2020 and everything is political.”

      “You know your family, you know your health, you know your risk appetite. … Do what is best for you and the people you love, no matter what that is.”

      As I see it, what you are describing is the basis for politics, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s just that humans keep neglecting to learn how to conduct politics in a healthy manner. Part of healthy politics is people rediscovering and keeping in mind the things that are really most important to them, as you demonstrate.

      In any case, thanks for being a voice of perspective, as always. That’s probably the most valuable role there is right now.

  7. Maryland’s Republican governor Hogan also set up a snitch line. I think the number is 1 800 tattletale. He is also using the state police to enforce his declarations.

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