Christmas Week Ethics Warm-Up, 12/21/2020: Clogging, Lying And Spinning

fireplace Xmas

Has anyone come up with a convincing theory about why there are more outside home decorations and Christmas lights than we have seen in a long while, if ever? Another trend, at least in my neighborhood: a welcome return to multi-colored lights after the (cold, boring) white lights appeared to take over years ago.

1. I finally figured out what’s been bothering me about that GEICO “clogging” ad. It’s racist. (In addition to being, you know, stupid.) I guess GEICO thinks that as long as it sticks an inter-racial couple in their ads, nobody will notice (Though according to Madison Avenue, almost every couple in America is inter-racial.)

Here’s the ad, if somehow you’ve missed it:

Ah, those weird white people and their weird activities! Now imagine if the noisy family upstairs was an African-American clan practicing their break-dancing. Or doing authentic African tribal dances.

2. Boy, those college administrators are quick. CNN was reporting this morning that a handful of colleges are finally reducing tuition. “A Princeton spokesperson said that the Covid conditions have “diminished the college experience.” Really? Not being on or near a campus, being isolated from classmates, not participating in clubs, social activities and late night “bull sessions,” not to mention only seeing one’s professors through a screen, isn’t as valuable as actually attending college?

I’m only speaking for myself, but I would have regarded my own college experience as little better than a correspondence course under today’s conditions. All colleges were ethically obligated to cut tuition substantially. They got away with not doing so because they are selling degrees, not education or personal growth.

3. With all the legitimate questions being raised about Hunter Biden, his apparent influence peddling abroad, and what his father’s role was, the Biden team allows him to be interviewed by…Stephen Colbert. Are even the most impenetrable Biden supporters not troubled by this? If not, do they even have ethics alarms any more? Even with a journalistic establishment filled with shameless pro-Democrat hacks, the toughest interview the President Elect was allowed to brave was by a comedian?

And not just any comedian, but a comedian who dedicated himself to anti-Trump, anti-Republican propganda for four years. Thus here is the type of question Joe had to answer—one that was phrased with the assumption that the Hunter Biden laptop matter was just another conservative conspiracy theory:

What are you going to do and how will you sustain each other for the attacks you know are coming your way?Case in point, I know you want to be as bipartisan and reach across the aisle, but as much as you don’t want it to happen, you know that the people who want to make hay in Washington are going to try to use your adult son as a cudgel against you. How do you feel about that, and what do you have to say to those people?

4. No, it’s not only Democratic mayors and governors who undermine trust in the legitimacy of the pandemic mandatesDr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Wuhan virus response, warned Americans before Thanksgiving to “be vigilant” and limit celebrations to “your immediate household.” Then, the next day, she traveled to Fenwick Island in Delaware where she has a vacation property, accompanied by three generations of her family from two households, including Birx, her husband, a daughter, son-in-law and two young grandchildren.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had also asked Americans not to travel over the holidays and discourages indoor activity involving members of different households. “People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households.”

The Associated Press wrote, “Birx’s own experiences underline the complexity and difficulty of trying to navigate the perils of the pandemic while balancing a job, family and health, especially among essential workers like her.”

No, they underline the hypocrisy and lack of seriousness exhibited by those with power and influence who think they should be able to do what they tell others not to do.

“To me this disqualifies her from any future government health position,” said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security. “It’s a terrible message for someone in public health to be sending to the American people.” Caught hypocrisy-handed, Birx refused to be interviewed but said in a statement that the purpose of the two-day visit was to deal with the winterization of the property before a potential sale, not Thanksgiving, though it conveniently coincided with Thanksgiving, and her family did dine together. She also insisted that everyone on her Delaware trip belongs to her “immediate household,” even though they live in two different homes.

While in Delaware, she even conducted an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” and criticized Americans who “went across the country or even into the next state” for the holiday weekend, adding that those who traveled should assume they were infected.

Kathleen Flynn, whose brother is married to Birx’s daughter, blew the whistle on Birx. “She cavalierly violated her own guidance,” Flynn said.

5. It is ridiculous and irresponsible for President Trump not to concede at this point.

31 thoughts on “Christmas Week Ethics Warm-Up, 12/21/2020: Clogging, Lying And Spinning

  1. RE #5: ???

    RE #1: When did Geico whiz in your cornflakes, Jack? You’ve been going after their ads for years. Look I get it with the inter-racial couple thing, but the ad isn’t inherently racist. Geico’s current series is based upon puns – this one, conflating the obvious homeowner’s problem of clogged pipes with a family of cloggers upstairs (for there to be break-dancing upstairs would be senseless, because the pun doesn’t work). Previous spots have included a “Ratt problem” (the 70s hair band Ratt as the noisy upstairs neighbors) and another with an “Ant problem” – playing off regional pronunciations of the word “aunt” and having a bunch of PITA ones show up. These spots may not be brilliant, but they are clever and well produced. And they obviously work, in that they continue. Geico’s spots are generally based on a comic premise, and some of them have been borderline brilliant. I really don’t understand why you find them so distasteful.

    • The argument is that it is ridiculous and irresponsible for Trump not to concede.

      Let us look into history, as Michael Tracey pointed out.

      http://mtracey.medium.com/the-most-predictable-election-fraud-backlash-ever-4187ba31d430

      Of course what happened subsequently was that even years after Trump had safely taken power, the corporate media’s top luminaries continuously used the phrase “hacked the election” to describe the purported actions of Russia on behalf of Trump in 2016. Supermajorities of Democratic voters came to believe not just that Russia “interfered” in the election, but directly installed Trump into power by tampering with voting machines. Now, though, journalists who fostered these blinkered beliefs will feign incredulity that their conduct could have contributed to widespread “doubt” as to the “legitimacy” of that election. And they’ll be aghast at any suggestion that this was inevitably going to generate yet another crazed anti-legitimization initiative in 2020.

      Again, to reiterate, refusal to concede is what these people, to quote the film Joker, “fucking deserve”.

    • Well, this wasn’t a “them” post but an “it” post. How can you not say a white family doing a classically white folk dance, unsmiling, absurdly, isn’t ridiculing the culture, the ethnicity and the race? Would you really want to argue that my reverse hypo wouldn’t get GEICO torched? One standard, fairly enforced. It’s not too much to ask.

      • Yes, the commercial makes fun of Irish cloggers, but who cares? The Irish can take it. (I’m half Irish, but don’t kiss me.) Plus, it’s funny. I only wish there were more people like Snoop Dog (who makes those hilarious commercials with Martha Stewart, among others) who have enough self-confidence to be self-deprecatory. Self-deprecation is one of the best forms of humor.

      • I would say that the answer is akin to your previous commentary about cartoons. Cartoons deliberately distort features for specific effect. In some cases, obviously, that can be used with malign intent (example: depictions of hook-nosed Jews promulgated by the Nazis and by certain Islamic actors). In others, they’re used for comic effect. That’s all that’s going on here (nobody actually clogs while eating spaghetti or brushing their teeth). The gag hinges on the WORD. If some clever copywriter were to come up with a word that permitted a breakdancing troupe to be upstairs making noise, it could be a very funny spot indeed. And certainly not a racist one. Skilled breakdancing is amazing to watch.

      • I think there could be a viable reverse commercial if a suitable pun could be devised.

        For instance, “Our new garage door is great, but it does break down…” –

        Cut to “Everybody dance now!”, with people breakdancing in the garage, with the a disco ball and/or strobe lights.

        Puns that you don’t have to think too hard about are the limiting factor.

    • I’m with you, AiM. I find the commercials mildly amusing and basically unobjectionably neutral, with the only obvious racial component being the unnecessary, but apparently obligatory, interracial couple . The clogging is just clogging.

      Now, if we want to go digging for a racial grievance in this group of ads, the ant/aunt one should be the choice, as a good percentage of black Americans don’t pronounce these two words the same.

  2. It is ridiculous and irresponsible for President Trump not to concede at this point.

    Again, let us review history. Michaerl Tracety makes this excellent observation.

    http://mtracey.medium.com/the-most-predictable-election-fraud-backlash-ever-4187ba31d430

    Of course what happened subsequently was that even years after Trump had safely taken power, the corporate media’s top luminaries continuously used the phrase “hacked the election” to describe the purported actions of Russia on behalf of Trump in 2016. Supermajorities of Democratic voters came to believe not just that Russia “interfered” in the election, but directly installed Trump into power by tampering with voting machines. Now, though, journalists who fostered these blinkered beliefs will feign incredulity that their conduct could have contributed to widespread “doubt” as to the “legitimacy” of that election. And they’ll be aghast at any suggestion that this was inevitably going to generate yet another crazed anti-legitimization initiative in 2020.

    Who in the media or the electorate took Democrats to task for pushing the “Russia hacked the election” meme, thus causing two-thirds of Democratic voters to reject the legitimacy of the 2016 election?

    Is this not what these people, to quote the film Joker, what they “fucking deserve”?

    While in Delaware, she even conducted an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” and criticized Americans who “went across the country or even into the next state” for the holiday weekend, adding that those who traveled should assume they were infected.

    Kathleen Flynn, whose brother is married to Birx’s daughter, blew the whistle on Birx. “She cavalierly violated her own guidance,” Flynn said.

    This reinforces the case against lockdowns.

    By the way, any progress on the grand fin ale of The Pandemic Creates a Classic and Difficult Ethics Conflict?

  3. 4. ““People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households.”

    College students returning home for the holidays often do so because they are living in dorms. Dorms very frequently shut down over the holidays. If a college student shouldn’t return home and is locked out of his or her dorm for a month, just where is he or she supposed to go?

    This kind of insane reasoning is why the so-called experts are not taken seriously.

    As for people like Birx who blatantly violate their own directives, this only sends a message that the risks of the pandemic are not as horrific as stated. It only provides fodder for pandmic critics who believe the situation has been overhyped and the measures taken too strict.

  4. 2) *It’s HAPPENING!!!!*

    For a decade now I’ve been guessing that by the time my kids hit college, the big education bubble will have burst and tuition would plummet. I didn’t think it would happen for another decade, but Covid market stress combined with Covid bringing down a lot of the curtain of academia is starting to show the signs of the burst possibly coming sooner.

    And I can’t think of a better salve for one of America’s greatest diseases than for big education to come crashing down.

    • We can only hope, Michael. I am worried it will bring another recession (obviously, the differences with the housing bubble are stark–you can’t discharge student loans, there’s no underlying collateral, and these aren’t “toxic” except that many probably would stop paying on them if tuition rock-bottomed all the sudden), but this bubble is absolutely crazy, and there is soooo much waste and even worse going on in higher education right now.

      • Tuition at my school doubled since I left. It’s insane.

        They also doubled the number of valedictorians, who coincidentally don’t have to pay tuition. The school is upping its prestige on the backs of the dumb kids.

      • I don’t know, while tangentially related, I don’t see why we wouldn’t still expect people to pay off their debts despite future pricing changes that occur due to natural market forces.

        Hell, the inflated costs are mostly due to unnatural impositions on the market by government intervention and other anti-competitive practices.

        While it may be unfair that the currently indebted became that way due to inappropriate government behavior – they were never forced to take massive loans to pursue degrees that would never pay off.

        • Agreed. In no way am I saying I think it would be legitimate, because they did in fact agree to pay whatever the tuition was when they attended.

          What I’m saying is that there would be widespread support for it, and the political capital required to, say, forgive the student debt of every American, would skyrocket.

          Kind of like how short sales became en vogue after 2008, even among well-to-dos who could afford the loss.

  5. Trump appears to simply be taking Hillary’s advice to not concede under any circumstances.

    Why, after four years, should Trump act presidential? What difference would it make? The country has survived four years of the AUC howling and screaming. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Trump skips Joe’s inauguration. (He could claim social distancing requires it.) Who cares? Or maybe he could attend and stand behind Joe. Once his speech is done, he could have Joe give him the script and he, Trump, could tear it up?

      • You can bet I’ll be watching, though I’m generally not a fan of Olympic competition that’s based on judging. I prefer those determined by a clock or a measuring tape.

  6. 2. Hey! I’ve got an idea for all those social justice people who think student debt should be charged off! Have the colleges and universities refund the tuition to the kids so they can pay off their loans! Huzzah! The kids get out from under the debt and the taxpayers don’t have to pay! And the kids get educations that are worth what they paid! Robert Reich will be all over this idea! He can take his salary at Berkeley in script with Janet Napolitano’s picture on it!

  7. 4)I listen to the pod cast of a late night show out of Arlington (Texas).They have talked about situations such as with Birx, and earlier with Gov. Newsom and many others. Their comment? These people simply do not believe the science. If they believed the science, they would not act this way. That seems fair to me.

    And, of course, it is especially sweet since one of the big talking points in the media has been ‘follow the science’ or ‘believe the science.’

    One alternative is the ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ Suspect when used to a human, it is more so when you are talking to a virus — do they expect deference from the virus? Guess so.

  8. Complete Tangent, sorry.

    If there was ever a piece of legislation that perfectly encapsulates legislative retardation, a lack of self-awareness, and olympic levels of pork barrel, it’s got to be this stimulus bill. They have, I wish I were kidding about this, but I’m not, they have legislated the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. It’s on page 5098 of this PDF:

    Click to access BILLS-116HR133SA-RCP-116-68.pdf

    SEC. 342. STATEMENT OF POLICY REGARDING THE SUC2 CESSION OR REINCARNATION OF THE DALAI LAMA.

    (a)FINDINGS.—Congress finds the following:

    (1)Tibetan Buddhism is practiced in many countries including Bhutan, India, Mongolia, Nepal, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, and the United States, yet the Government of the People’s Republic of China has repeatedly insisted on its role in managing the selection of Tibet’s next spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, through actions such as those described in the ‘‘Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas’’ in 2007.

    (2) On March 19, 2019, Chinese Ministry of Affairs spokesperson reiterated that the ‘‘reincarnation of living Buddhas including the Dalai Lama must comply with Chinese laws and regulations and follow religious rituals and historical conventions’’.

    (3) The Government of the People’s Republic of China has interfered in the process of recognizing a successor or reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including in 1995 by arbitrarily detaining Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a 6-year old boy who was identified as the 11th Panchen Lama, and purporting to install its own candidate as the Panchen Lama.

    (4) The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, issued a statement on September 24, 2011, explaining the traditions and spiritual precepts of the selection of Dalai Lamas, setting forth his views on the considerations and process for selecting his successor, and providing a response to the Chinese government’s claims that only the Chinese government has the ultimate authority in the selection process of the Dalai Lama.

    (5) The 14th Dalai Lama said in his statement that the person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over where and how he or she takes rebirth and how that reincarnation is to be recognized and if there is a need for a 15th Dalai Lama to be recognized, then the responsibility shall primarily rest with the officers of the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust, who will be informed by the written instructions of the 14th Dalai Lama.

    (6) Since 2011, the 14th Dalai Lama has reiterated publicly on numerous occasions that decisions on the successions, emanations, or reincarnations of the Dalai Lama belongs to the Tibetan Buddhist faith community alone.

    (7) On June 8, 2015, the United States House of Representatives unanimously approved House
    3 Resolution 337 which calls on the United States Government to ‘‘underscore that government interference in the Tibetan reincarnation process is a violation of the internationally recognized right to religious freedom . . . and to highlight the fact that other countries besides China have long Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and that matters related to reincarnations in Tibetan Buddhism are of keen interest to Tibetan Buddhist populations worldwide’’.

    (8) On April 25, 2018, the United States Senate unanimously approved Senate Resolution 429
    14 which ‘‘expresses its sense that the identification and installation of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders, including a future 15th Dalai Lama, is a matter that should be determined solely within the Tibetan Buddhist faith community, in accordance with the inalienable right to religious freedom’’.

    (9) The Department of State’s Report on Inter21 national Religious Freedom for 2018 reported on policies and efforts of the Government of the People’s Republic of China to exert control over the selection of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders, including reincarnate lamas, and stated that ‘‘[United States] officials underscored that decisions on the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should be made solely by faith leaders.’’.

    (b) STATEMENT OF POLICY.—It is the policy of the United States that—

    (1) decisions regarding the selection, education, and veneration of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders are exclusively spiritual matters that should be made by the appropriate religious authorities within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and in the context of the will of practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism;

    (2) the wishes of the 14th Dalai Lama, including any written instructions, should play a key role in the selection, education, and veneration of a future 15th Dalai Lama; and

    (3) interference by the Government of the People’s Republic of China or any other government in the process of recognizing a successor or reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama and any future Dalai Lamas would represent a clear abuse of the right to religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists and the Tibetan people.

    (c) HOLDING CHINESE OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ABUSES TARGETING TIBETAN BUDDHISTS.—It is the policy of the United States to take all appropriate measures to hold accountable senior officials of the Government of the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party who directly interfere with the identification and installation of the future 15th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, successor to the 14th Dalai Lama, including by—

    (1) imposing sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (22 U.S.C. 2656 note); and

    (2) prohibiting admission to the United States under section 212(a)(2)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(G)).

    (d) DEPARTMENT OF STATE PROGRAMMING TO PRO14 MOTE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOR TIBETAN BUDDHISTS.— Consistent with section 401 of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (Public Law 114–281; 130 Stat. 1436), the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom should support efforts to protect and promote international religious freedom in China and for programs to protect Tibetan Buddhism in China and elsewhere.

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