The Pandemic Post I Never Wrote

[This post is dedicated to Michael Ejercito.]

For months, veteran prolific Ethics Alarms commenter Michael Ejercito peppered the blog with various versions of the same question: “When are you going to finish “The Pandemic Creates a Classic and Difficult Ethics Conflict…”? He was referring to this post, which went up way back in May of 2020. The rest of the title was “…But The Resolution Is Clear.” It was designated as Part I, with a Part II supposedly coming soon that would explain what that resolution was and why. It never arrived.

Stalling, I posted a Prelude to Part II. It was so long and covered so much territory that I doubt anyone read it all the way to the end (except Michael). It didn’t inspire a single comment. Here’s a precis...

No, I am not satisfied with the current draft of Part II, but I trust it’s obvious what the resolution referred to is. The lock-down has to end, and before vaccines, cures, or adequate medicine are available….It is quite striking: the arguments for continuing the lockdown indefinitely are almost entirely authored by progressives, and are without exception characterized by bad logic, emotionalism, manipulated facts, biased analysis, fearmongering, and suspect motives. The majority of the arguments for opening up the economy soon are markedly more logical, unemotional, and based on sound statistics and analysis…

It is not “plausible” that the pandemic will continue forever; pandemics don’t. And indeed, if they did, it would be an irrefutable reason to open up now. Freedom has always had a price…

…As I discussed in Part I, health experts focus almost exclusively on health. Health is not the only priority involved in the policy trade-offs involving the lockdown. The health experts don’t care about the other issues—literally, they don’t care—because it isn’t their job to care about the economy, or unemployment, or ruined careers and diminished quality of life. They should care about increased suicides during depressions, and inadequate preventative health care, and the deaths those and other consequences of the lockdown will cause, [or]…the U.S. having a catastrophic expansion of its national debt… !

…Right: nobody knows how it will play out. We do know, however, how it will play out if we lock down the economy much longer, never mind until there’s a vaccine…On this 75th Anniversary of V-E Day, it shouldn’t be hard to understand that lost lives can be acceptable when the most rational, responsible policies involve unavoidable risk.

But “Part II,” when it arrived six months later, still didn’t deliver the promised resolution. Except for the (again, long) introduction, in fact, it was a dud, but a dud that illustrated the problem with the topic. I wrote about the non-media coverage of a Johns Hopkins study that seemed to indicate that the despite the daily lists of pandemic deaths, the total deaths had not varied significantly from the previous year. As it turned out, the study was flawed, and its conclusions were not supported, though the Ethics Alarms indictment of the bias and partisan agenda indicated by the news media’s lack of coverage still applies.

So what was going to be Part II was then going to be Part III, and again stalling, I wrote a prelude to that as well. This one was mercifully short, and endorsed a statement by then President Trump as the Ethics Quote of the Century. He had said via Twitter in October, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” The post concluded,

“President Trump is among the Americans I would view most unlikely to utter an ethical statement, much less a great one, but this was a great statement, essential, inspirational, and right. I assume this is sufficient notice of what the conclusion of Part III will be.”

But there was no Part III, much to Michael’s disappointment and annoyance.

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Unethical Tweet Of The Month: The ACLU

I think it is fair to conclude at this point (if it was not already obvious) that the American Civil Liberties Union has abandoned its original mission of being a neutral and non-partisan guardian of individual rights to being one more activist political tool of the Left. Its hostility toward transparency for school curricula marks a 180 decree turnaround for the ACLU, which has traditionally  argued for government transparency in all its activities, including public school education.

One more time, the corrupting influence here is race and “social justice,” which increasingly are regarded as taking priority over all else. Enacting the racial agenda of Black Lives Matters and its allies (like the Democratic Party) now justifies tactics and activities that the ACLU once opposed consistently. Government indoctrination is no longer an offense to freedom of speech and thought, apparently. The ends justify the means.

Once upon a time, Nevada’s ACLU fought fought for transparency when The Silver State’s schools were establishing their sex education lesson plans. Staci Pratt, Legal Director of the ACLU of Nevada, said at the time, “The days of back door decision making are over. Compliance with the open meetings law is meant to secure the opportunity of parents, students, and community members to have a meaningful impact on the development of policy. We are all well served when decisions on the appointment of sex education advisory committee members is subject to public scrutiny, rather than the result of the presentation of a narrow range of interests.”  The ACLU of Kentucky used records requests to uncover curriculum plans in all of Kentucky’s 173 school districts, seeking to find evidence of religious instruction:

The ACLU-KY sent requests to all of Kentucky’s 173 school districts seeking policies and curriculum for “Bible Literacy” courses.  While most districts are not offering these courses, the ACLU-KY found many of the courses that are being offered do not fall within constitutional strictures, which require any use of religious text in the classroom to be secular, objective, nondevotional, and must not promote any specific religious view.

The investigation uncovered public school teachers using the Bible to impart religious life lessons (Barren, McCracken, and Letcher Counties), use of online Sunday School lessons and worksheets for course source material and assignments (Letcher and Wayne Counties), and rote memorization of Biblical text (McCracken County) — practices which fall far short of academic and objective study of the Bible and its historical context or literary value.

But that was baaad indoctrination, you see. Teaching Critical Race Theory-ish interpretations of American history that tar whites as intrinsically racist, blacks as handicapped by intransigent systemic racism, and, as a special bonus, that a person is whatever gender they decide to be are all good indoctrination, and if overly conservative, contrarian or controlling parents are inclined to interfere, well, the ACLU holds that schools are justified in making sure the Neanderthals don’t find out what’s being taught. Continue reading

From An Ethics Perspective, No Change Since 2015: Almost Anyone But Trump As The GOP Nominee In 2024

It’s too early, of course; many a Presidential candidate has emerged out of the primordial ooze to evolve from a near unknown to the nominee in three years. In the case of the Republicans (and the Democrats too) such an emergence is greatly to be wished. However, two objectives will remain constant: it is imperative that the lying, Machiavellian, totalitarianism-embracing Democrats be ejected from both branches of the government with sufficient force that they ponder their sins and reform, and that Donald Trump does not return to the Presidency.

Trump himself isn’t dangerous. If fact, in many ways he was an effective President, and his policies were more often reasonable than not; my objections to him as President involve character and style (and they are major objections that his accomplishments cannot counter-balance). However, the Left’s reaction to him is an existential threat. They have convinced themselves that eliminating him is a mission that must be accomplished by any means necessary, and they will continue to work to terrify the weak-minded, inattentive and gullible from now until the 2024 election…and, if necessary, after, no matter what the consequences may be.

They succeeded in convincing millions of Americans that he would destroy the country when he was elected the first time; he didn’t, but their tactics against him nearly did, and might yet. The nation cannot withstand another polarizing election with both sides claiming the other is trying to wreck all that is good about America, and with Trump as the Republican nominee.

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Saturday Ethics Jaunts, 1/22/2022: Feeling Much Better, Thanks!

Just a bit of fatigue hanging on from whatever it was that laid me low this week, so now I have no excuse at all for all these half-done posts lying around…

1. Here’s a Lack Of Self-Awareness classic from the Huffington Post: “My Gentle, Intelligent Brother Is Now A Conspiracy Theorist And His Beliefs Are Shocking.”

To begin with, writer Sue Manchester’s “intelligent brother” doesn’t sound very intelligent, since she says he believes that

“…there’s a tunnel from Washington, D.C., to LA that takes half an hour on a bullet train. There’s a whole fucking society that lives underground. In Australia, there’s [a tunnel] all the way around the continent and it’s being used for human trafficking and organ harvesting and basically using human beings like cattle. JFK found out about it 50 years ago, and it’s taken 50 years to drive them out”

Not to be nit-picky, but 50 years ago JFK had been dead for 9 years, and Bro sounds to me like he needs psychiatric help. Sis, however, uses him as a symbol of all conservatives, and after blaming his delusions on cognitive dissonance, tries to slip a cognitive dissonance trick by the reliably woke and deranged Huffington Post readers, writing that  “leaders who spread conspiracy theories to the ‘captive minds’ of their followers.. take[s] pleasure in both self-aggrandizement and the destruction of others….” like Hitler and Jim Jones and guess who? Yes, Donald Trump, of course, all who “appeal to masses of people who feel powerless, deprived and downtrodden…terrifying half of us but emboldening the other half.” It soon becomes evident that Manchester just subscribes to different imaginary theories than her brother, like the belief that the National Rifle Association employs “fear and conspiracy and hatred of ‘the other'” to “drive and win political races, as well as drive record sales of unhealthy firearms” like all those “automatic weapons” flooding the streets. Winchester tells us she (unlike her brother) is “balanced” because she’s a Libra…yes, she believes in Astrology. Her conspiracy addled brother, in contrast, believes that the news media hides things from the public! Continue reading

“Privilege Bingo”

Teachers at Oakton High School in he Fairfax County school district, Virginia’s largest, had students participating in a political indoctrination exercise dubbed “Privilege Bingo.” The idea was to convince students of the innate unfairness of an American society which bestows unearned advantages on white, middle class males, among others. The students were told to self-identify their “privilege” as, school administrators huminahumina-ed when caught CRT-handed, “an opportunity to reflect on their own experiences while building their critical thinking skills.”

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Baseball Integrity Flash! Automated Ball and Strike Calls Are On The Fast Track

If they ever play Major League Baseball again—the sport is in the middle of a lock-out over the distribution of billions of dollars between owners and players, among other contested issues—it looks like games being ruined by bad pitch calls will soon be history.

 MLB officials announced that computer umpires that use an automated system for determining ball and strike calls will now be employed in Triple-A baseball for the 2022 season. I had predicted that robo-umpires at home plate would arrive in five years, considering how resistant baseball is to change, but this puts the Automated Ball and Strike (ABS) system, which was used with success last season in some of the lower minor leagues,  just one level below the major leagues. Absent unforseen problems, this could mean that the days of batters being called out on strikes with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th by pitches six inches off home plate could end after the 2022 season.

This is a grand slam for integrity. Once games were universally televised and broadcasts could show exactly where a pitch crossed the plate (or didn’t), umpires’ mistakes, in some games with the worst umpires nearing 20% of all pitches, became intolerable. Replay systems already allow reversals of the most egregious calls on the bases, making far fewer games determined by “the human factor,” also known as “lousy umpiring.”

When there was no way to fix bad calls, it was fair to call human error “part of the game.” Now it’s just an unnecessary and annoying part of the game. There was no excuse for letting it continue.

I’m thrilled.

Comment Of The Day: “Fake News Watch 2: The Missing Mask”

What follows is Null Pointer’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Fake News Watch 2: The Missing Mask”.

The Introduction to it is here.

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The media transformation from relatively accurate reporting to lying about everything has been a sight to behold. It was an incremental process that started with bias and evolved into just making stuff up.

The media started out by omitting a fact or two they didn’t like from coverage. No need to confuse anyone with extraneous data that might be interpreted wrongly. The media has a duty to keep people informed with easily interpretable information.

This bias led to the next bias stage, which entailed neglecting to cover stories that were inconvenient to a narrative. People don’t need to know everything. They only need to know the important things. If you report unimportant things, people might get distracted from the important things. The media has a duty to keep people informed of all the important things and they cannot do that if people are distracted by unimportant things.

Then the media started adding opinions to straight news articles and presenting them as fact so people wouldn’t get confused. You have to explain to people why the facts they are looking at don’t say what a normal person would think they say, you see. It is important to be clear. Clarity is important when informing people of things! You cannot just tell people the facts, you need to explain them. Otherwise people might have opinions that conflict with the truth. Then they might question the truth, and questions lead to confusion and misinformation. Confused, misinformed people don’t know the truth. The media has a duty to inform people of the truth. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Fake News Watch 2: The Missing Mask” (Introduction)

This is a little different: I’m going to take up an entire post with the introduction to Null Pointer’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Fake News Watch 2: The Missing Mask.”

This is because the topic of his comment, the gradual devolution of American journalism into what he describes as a continuous slippery slope into complete fiction with an agenda, dovetails so conveniently with a post I was already in the process of writing. “Why not invent a source and say what you think they ought to say?” Null asks. “Then, once you are making stuff up, why not go one step further and just start printing whatever you can imagine? Who cares about the actual truth?”

The fact is that journalists increasingly do not care about “the actual truth.” They no longer see that as the mission of journalism. They see journalism as a tool for social change and political virtue, and feel justified and empowered in doing all all of what Null Pointer describes to that end.

Ted Koppel, the iconic host of ABC’s “Nightline,” has been one of the few voices from broadcast news to try to expose the damage being done by progressive media bias. His opportunities to do so to a large audience have been few: compare the number of times you have seen Koppel opine on the state of journalism compared to Dan Rather, an advocate for manipulated facts for “the greater good,” meaning Progressive Utopia. In 2019 Koppel declared that Trump was “not mistaken” in his belief that the liberal media is “out to get him”—hardly a “Eureka!” worthy observation, but one that Left continues to deny—while it holds one-sided hearings in an investigation designed to find some way to lock Trump up before he can run for President.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/21/2022: Christmas’s And Meat Loaf’s End Edition

Meat Loaf has died. The hilariously theatrical pop singer with the big voice was responsible for one of the great ethics songs: “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.” It packed almost everything into one epic musical journey: temptation, non-ethical considerations vs. ethics, betrayal, consequences and cosmic retribution.

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Absent a last-minute reprieve or a relapse of whatever it is that I’ve been battling, this looks like the final day for our especially lovely, inspiring Christmas tree. I always feel like I’m making the world a little meaner and less hopeful when I take it down. This post, from three years ago, still stands.

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In U.S. ethics history, January 21 stands for one of the more significant pardons in American Presidential annals, because in 1977 Jimmy Carter pardoned all those young men, hundreds of thousands of them, who had fled to Canada rather than risk being drafted to fight in Vietnam. (Only half came back. I am tempted to say, “Good!,” but I won’t…) Those who left as a matter of principle and those who ran off because they wouldn’t have fought for their country under any circumstances (this was the era of “Better Red than Dead,” after all) were treated the same. It was a utilitarian trade-off, and whether the President’s decision was unethical (my Vietnam vet friends said it made them feel like suckers) or ethical (it definitely helped heal the national divisions over that misguided conflict), it was certainly brave and consequential. For example, that single act probably killed the draft as much as anything else.

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Feel free to debate that issue here; I’m not up to it today myself. There won’t be the usual Friday Open Forum because there was one just two days ago (and it’s still open!). Full disclosure: in my fevered state, I really thought it was Friday when it was Wednesday.

1. This video is worrisome if it’s genuine, and it may not be. A young woman freaks out after getting a positive Wuhan variant test result, and acts as if she’s been sentenced to die on the rack and wheel. I fear this is what two years of politically-driven pandemic hysteria is turning our rising generations into: cowards, whiners, phobics and weenies. Her tearful lament ““The coolest characteristic about myself is that I haven’t gotten it!” is particularly nauseating. Continue reading

Fake News Watch 2: The Missing Mask

Compared to the above mass fake news about mass graves that have not, in fact, been verified, NPR’s bit of false reporting on Supreme Court intrigue seems trivial, and is. NPR’s longtime liberal-leaning Supreme Court reporter impugned Democratic Party boogie man Neil Gorsuch—He stole Merrick Garland’s seat!—by writing that Mean Neil was trying to kill Justice Sotomayor ( who “has diabetes, a condition that puts her at high risk for serious illness, or even death” from the Wuhan virus) or something, because he refused to wear a mask despite Justice Roberts “asking” him to.  Sotomayor, therefore, has to participate in the Court’s work via Zoom. Gorsuch is, apparently, fully vaccinated, and doesn’t have the virus. Continue reading