Comment Of The Day : “Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns”

Today’s wet market special: bats! Yum-yum.

Let me introduce the Comment of the Day by once again acknowledging the consistently excellent contributions to Ethics Alarms made every day by the commentariat here. I know a lot of people who don’t read the comment sections of blogs and websites; heck, I usually don’t, and the reason I don’t is that they are almost uniformly horrible and depressing. Horrible, because even in the cases of some superb blogs, they are reliable pits of name-calling and hackneyed talking points I have read elsewhere, full of poor reasoning and biased, lazy opinions lacking support or genuine understanding. Depressing, because I know they are representative of the general public, perhaps even positively so, since the real mouth-breathers don’t read about substantive topics at all, and couldn’t write about them literately if they did.

I know I complain too much about the traffic here. Since what has been called “The Great Exodus,” when those slowly succumbing to Trump Derangement left in a huff because I insisted on refusing to join what is tagged here as the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, and Facebook arbitrarily and mysteriously knocked the pins out of a major source of circulation and growth by banning links to the blog, my hopes of reaching a sufficient audience  to allow some income-producing activities here have been dashed. I don’t do this for profit (obviously), but some income would help–as you might expect, this is especially on my mind now. I was this close to topping the 5000 views a day level that is the minimum required to monetize a blog at the end of 2016, then our angry progressive friends left, and even 4000 a day is usually a faint hope. Still, I can’t complain about the quality of the comments, which, if anything, is stronger than ever, as is the variety of views and topics that arrives through them. I really should be grateful for that, and stop bitching. Together we have a superb product, getting better after a decade.

Humble Talent is one of the reliable stars here, with a unique outlook and a no-nonsense style. Before I started annually failing to deliver The Best and Worst of Ethics Awards (2019 was the third straight flop; maybe next year…), he had been a recipient of Commenter of the Year.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, : “Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns”:

We don’t have any conception under God how many people are actually affected. We don’t know the morbidity rates. We don’t even know the number of people who have died from the Wuhan Flu.

I used to say that we knew the numerator when it came to deaths, and that the percentages that we were hearing were worst case scenarios, because the denominator was always going to be much, much higher, so the rate was almost certainly artificially inflated. That remains true when talking about cases coming out of first world democracies… We know, roughly, how many people died from Flu related complications, but we don’t know how many people have had the Flu. For weeks now, Canadians have been told that if they’re experiencing symptoms, but those symptoms are not serious enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room, they need to stay home. Either they have it and we don’t want it walking around outside, or they don’t have it and we don’t want them bringing exciting new complications into our medical centers. The massaging in the states has been mixed, but there’s a lot of similar sentiment out there. The vast, vast majority of people who think they have the Flu won’t be tested, and there is a large slice of the pie that get the Flu but never develop symptoms.

And then you have third world, tin-pot communist dictatorships like China, Information Black Holes like Russia and places that don’t have sufficient medical facilities like most of Africa. Who knows what the numbers are out of places like this? I’ve seen chilling images and video coming out of China, pictures of of cremation packages stacked up outside of funeral parlors because they ran out of room inside. I don’t know if that’s representative, but I think it’s likely. 40 million cell phone users have been cut off from the rest of the world in the heart of China, and China has not reported a single Flu related death in a week. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Mid-Day Ethics Stimulus, 3/31/2020: Dunces, Heroes, Hacks And More”

Veteran commenter Michael  Erjecito’s comment on another post about the pandemic included the line, “When this emergency ends, we will give back all powers, without exception.” Chris Marschner used that statement as his departure point in this Comment of the Day on a separate EA post, Item #4 under the title above, which involved Governor Ralph Northam’s “order” restricting the freedoms of  Virginians. Since I had started a post on the topic of draconian government restrictions that are Constitutionally questionable, I was grateful to see Chris had attacked it with his usual verve.

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Mid-Day Ethics Stimulus, 3/31/2020: Dunces, Heroes, Hacks And More”:

I am beginning to believe this event is a government dress rehearsal for a much more draconian event later on. One must test the limits of what the public is willing to endure from governmental decrees lest we see the people charging the statehouses with torches and pitchforks.

Ok, enough of my melodrama. But the quote above is indicative of the risk of a different type of loss well after this virus disappears.

I keep hearing that Trump ignores science or that he relies on hunches and not data to make quality decisions. Well at 8 pm yesterday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) issued the stay at home order or face fines of $5,000 and/or a year in jail. In that decree, there is absolutely no mention as to the scientific data that he used to trigger the order and thus there is no data to indicate when he would lift the order.

 There is also no specific data-driven rationale for a Stay At Home order when all types of recreational activities are allowed as long as they are in groups of 10 or fewer. How exactly does the data suggest that grocery stores filled with hundreds of people crowding the aisles will cause less of a problem than a non-essential service like a mom and pop jewelry store or a scuba shop that usually have fewer than 10 people in it any given time? Why is it that the data supports Home Depot and Walmart being allowed to sell non-essential goods because they are allowed to stay open because they offer other essential goods such as repair items, food, and medicine but a comic book bike shop or video-store must shutter its business?

My point is that for all the claims that decisions are data driven I would wager most decisions are driven by political calculus not necessarily on epidemiological considerations.

Furthermore, if we are to use data to drive decisions, that data must be understood by all in order to ensure that the people subject to the restrictions imposed will know if the government is abusing its governing powers. The terms of these orders should spell out specifically the triggers that cause regulatory restrictions and when those restrictions MUST be rescinded; these restrictions cannot be open ended and without definition.

The only data that we hear is the 2.2 million deaths that could have occurred had nothing been done, and Dr. Fauci’s equivocating statement that maybe as many as 200,000 might die – but don’t hold him to that—and, the ongoing death watch clocks prominently displayed on all the network news shows and web search engines. We never hear why this decision is made or why we are not doing something that some believe might be helpful. Tell me: are the anti-malarial drugs something to be considered as a treatment or a prophylaxes; neither or both? I suppose drugs are worthwhile and can be used off label with some effectiveness so long as they are not suggested by Donald Trump.

We cannot use infection growth rates as growth rates as a trigger because they may be much higher initially with low absolute numbers. Going from 10 cases to 30 cases an increase of 20 cases is a 300% increase but going from 100 cases to 120 cases is only a 20% increase. Then the issue is where are the cases occurring? Should a county with few infections be subject to the same restrictions as a highly populated hot spot?

I do wish the media would stop confusing the public by switching between growth rates, absolute numbers and per capita values. When the press states that on a per capita basis the US lags other nations in testing, that suggests we are not doing enough even if we have tested three times the amount of others. Growth rates don’t mean beans if you don’t have a basis from which to measure. Growth rates and absolute values must be used in tandem to make them meaningful.

Many in the media and some within our commentariat believe there has been an abysmal failure at the federal level to adequately plan for such a pandemic. NO, the Governors and legislatures of the respective states have been an abysmal failure at preparing for such an emergency. In my state, Maryland, we have the Office of Emergency Preparedness.  (https://preparedness.health.maryland.gov/Pages/About.aspx)

How prepared is Maryland Governor Hogan?

On the Resources page there is not one mention of the Covid-19 virus under infectious threats. We are still mentioning Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Ebola, and Zika but all is quiet on the Chinese Flu front.

Is the reference to MERS a bigoted and racist term? I did not consider the others to have racist connotations because how many Americans know Ebola is named after a river in the sub-Saharan Africa and the others after other places in Africa. Our governor seems to be at odds with his own departments. We are prepared for any eventuality according to our state team. They say so!

https://preparedness.health.maryland.gov/Pages/Resources.aspx:

IS THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH PREPARED? Yes! The Department of Health Office of Preparedness and Response prepares in a variety of ways:

• Maryland Influenza Plan and Pandemic Influenza Plan
• Pandemic influenza exercises for emergency personnel
• Partnering with local, state, federal, and private agencies to prepare for, prevent, and lessen the impact of a flu pandemic
• Maintaining a stockpile of antiviral medications and medical supplies ( WHERE ARE THEY?????)

From their web pages we find that their preparedness program is merely a funnel for federal funds.

The mission of the Hospital Preparedness Program is to support and enhance the ability of hospitals and health care systems to provide effective care and save lives during emergencies. The Office of Preparedness and Response receives annual federal funding to advance these goals and objectives. The Maryland Department of Health awards these funds in the form of grants to our health care system partners across the state (including hospitals, free-standing emergency departments, emergency medical services, community health centers, and home care and hospice agencies). Health care system partners utilize the Hospital Preparedness Program funds to enhance their ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies that pose a threat to the health and safety of the community. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “A Brief But Significant Addendum To “I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is ‘Asshole’”

Steve-O-in-NJ has given us his thoughts on the continuing assault on the President of the United States as he does his best to deal with the unprecedented Wuhan virus crisis. (Reader Pennagain has expressed a preference for “Pangolin virus.” The prejudice against scaly anteaters is wide and deep, and when we start hearing reports of thugs beating up pangolins while shouting anti-pangolin slurs, we’ll know who to blame. )

The inspiration for Steve’s Comment of the Day was Hillary Clinton’s mocking tweet that put her on the current Ethics Alarms Asshole List, though I’m not sure she ever left it. I’ll also mention here that no less a luminary than John Kerry has apparently joined those of us who believe that “asshole” is sometimes the only description that will do.  Commenting on GOP House member Thomas Massie’s absurd stand temporarily blocking passage of the epidemic emergency legislation, the former Senator and Secretary of State tweeted,

Breaking news: Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an asshole. He must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity. He’s given new meaning to the term #Masshole. (Finally, something the president and I can agree on!)

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on the post, “A Brief But Significant Addendum To “I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is ‘Asshole’”:

I am not at all surprised. I’m also not surprised at Joe Biden’s recent tweet in which he said that when he was president he would put science first, implying what many have stated outright, that Trump disregards science and is afraid of smart people (which all liberals are, of course, they only wouldn’t be liberals if they weren’t). Basic decency went out the window on the left when Trump was elected, although it had been hanging out the window for a while.

A lot of the open rudeness and contempt seemed to start in the Clinton era, maybe together with the rise of the internet. Now anyone could say anything he wanted and send it around the world in a few seconds. A lot of people did just that, no matter how dumb, how rude, or profane, or how unfair what they had to say was. Then the refrain was that your character didn’t matter as long as you were successful and had the right views. The other side of that, though, was that if you had the wrong views you were beneath contempt.

As we moved into the administration of Bush the younger a whole “anger industry” developed. I know, because my bookshelves are groaning under the weight of a huge number of anger-based books that I gleefully devoured at the time to feed my contempt of the other side. I’m not just talking Ann Coulter, either.

David Horowitz’ “Left Illusions: An Unholy Odyssey” and “Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left,” Daniel J. Flynn’s “Why the Left Hates America” and “A Conservative History of the American Left,” John J. Miller’s “Our Oldest Enemy,” and a lot of similar materials have all made my night table. On the other side there’s Al Franken’s “Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them,” Michael Moore’s “Stupid White Men,” and so on. People paid money to have their anger stoked and their reasons for being angry confirmed. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All”

Reader JP, who is a minister, had a fascinating reaction to the post about the Australian cartoonist in the process of being “canceled” because he had the audacity to mock mothers who pay more attention to their cell phones than their infants. Australians, especially mothers and feminists, are furious…because he criticized conduct that nobody denies occurs.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All”:

“Is guilt driving the attacks on Michael Leunig? Is that it? They are punishing a truth-teller for using satire and humor to hold a mirror up to their faces like satirists and social commentators are supposed to do? If that cartoon sparks such anger, what would these people have done to Swift, Voltaire, Gilbert, Shaw, Parker, Wodehouse, Vidal, or even Dave Barry?”

A few years ago,  I was teaching this class on 1 Corinthians. It had been going on for about a month at this point where we got to the section on marriage, divorce, and adultery. Most of the class focused on the marriage part. Very little was said about divorce and adultery. I didn’t focus on it too much. In a class like this, I tend to let discussion stay with the interests of the class. I did address divorce and adultery as real problems of the church and  said they should not be ignored.

After class, a women came up to me and let me have it.  According to her, divorce and adultery were “none of the church’s business.” She was pretty passionate about it, so I let it go. She wasn’t at the next class  I assumed she was making a point because she thought that I would never agree with her.

A month later, her husband dragged her into my office, saying she been committing adultery. He wanted to know what he should do about it. She wouldn’t look a me. I suggested a professional counselor, and that was the last time I saw either of them. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: Comment Of The Day: “Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/2020: Examining The—OH NO! I TOUCHED MY FACE!!”

I may start calling these awkward “Comments of the Day on Comments of the Day” tag-team Comments of the Day. coming up is the tag section of Steve-O’s epic, a follow-up by Glenn Logan.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Comment Of The Day: “Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/2020: Examining The—OH NO! I TOUCHED MY FACE!!”…

Everyone these days is so … tribal. We fostered this thinking and romanticized it in fiction and documentary, the whole “brothers in arms” thing. This person is asking for America to abdicate to communism so they can be safer, and using the occasion to slander genuine camaraderie with his/her anti-capitalist grievances.

They don’t see the sacrifice of every day people who are out of work, out of money, and out of prospects for the immediate future of regaining the means to pay their mortgage or car payment or insurance or children’s clothing, needs and food. The government will step up and help, but to many that means a tiny portion of their salary or income, and not enough to keep all their needs funded.

Nobody is asking health workers to work for free. They get paid very well for what they do, and nobody can make them work if they don’t want to. So if you are afraid of catching the disease, then quit your job and join one of my bests friend in the unemployment line. That, at least, shows you are willing to sacrifice your livelihood for your safety — certainly understandable in some cases. In many other cases, it is simple cowardice, but I won’t even judge. Just stop demanding others sacrifice more on your behalf than you are willing to sacrifice yourself. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/2020: Examining The—OH NO! I TOUCHED MY FACE!!”!

This masterful epic by Comment of the Day auteur Steve-O-From-NJ needs no introduction, so I’m just going to say, here is Steve-O-From-NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/2020: Examining The—OH NO! I TOUCHED MY FACE!!”

I just read this on Facebook. Frankly it made me angry, but not for the reasons you might think. I don’t believe for a minute a real doctor wrote this. I have a few comments of my own to add, and then I’ll have more to add at the end.

“CDC recommending hospital staff use bandanas when masks run out. Hospitals are asking the public to sew masks. Here is a physician responding:

“Please don’t tell me that in the richest country in the world in the 21st century, I’m supposed to work in a fictionalized Soviet-era disaster zone and fashion my own face mask out of cloth because other Americans hoard supplies for personal use and so-called leaders sit around in meetings hearing themselves talk. I ran to a bedside the other day to intubate a crashing, likely COVID, patient. Two respiratory therapists and two nurses were already at the bedside. That’s 5 N95s masks, 5 gowns, 5 face shields and 10 gloves for one patient at one time. I saw probably 15-20 patients that shift, if we are going to start rationing supplies, what percentage should I wear precautions for?”

Comment 1: Your job is to save and treat patients, using whatever means necessary. If supplies run out in the middle of something, then you make do until they can get you more. If the single-use nature of things is no longer tenable, then get those that can be used repeatedly until the supplies can be replenished. Oh, and cut the drama. The Soviet Union went out of existence 29 years ago, maybe even before you were born. You don’t know what went on there, except maybe by what you read.

“Make no mistake, the CDC is loosening these guidelines because our country is not prepared. Loosening guidelines increases healthcare workers’ risk but the decision is done to allow us to keep working, not to keep us safe. It is done for the public benefit – so I can continue to work no matter the personal cost to me or my family (and my healthcare family). Sending healthcare workers to the front line asking them to cover their face with a bandana is akin to sending a soldier to the front line in a t-shirt and flip flops.” Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/21/20: I See Terrible People.”

I’m embarrassed that I didn’t come up with “Fu Manchu Flu”…

Yesterday, Chris Marschner set an Ethics Alarms record with two Comments of the Day in a single day. His riff on (yecchh!) “Imagine’ was #1, this more traditional COTD is #2. I’m equally grateful for this one, because I had eschewed mentioning the small matter of the Obama response to the 2009-2010 H1N1 virus and the press coverage of that response. Why? Well, I get tired of being accused of mouthing conservative talking points, even when they are only conservative talking points because the left-wing mainstream media unethically ignores them. It also seems like whataboutism, though it is not: if resistance-allied pundits are going to tell the public that President Trump’s response to the Wuhan virus pandemic is deadly and incompetent, then they are obligated to explain why the previous President’s unquestionable worse response to his virus challenge was considered just fine, thanks. Nonetheless, the “Wait, how can you square your criticism of Trump with your Obama cheerleading?” refrain has become a cliche, even though it has done so because it has been a legitimate question so often.

Thus, twice in a single day, Chris Marschner saved me from a task I was not eager to complete. His starting point was the note in my post about Joe Biden planning on a regular feature online second-guessing the President’s response to the Wuhan virus.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/21/20: I See Terrible People.”

We actually have a pandemic that Biden’s actions can be measured against. The 2009 breakout of the pH1N1 flu.

“Final estimates were published in 2011. These final estimates were that from April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010 approximately 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (8868-18,306) occurred in the United States due to pH1N1.”
https://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/estimates_2009_h1n1.htm Continue reading