High Noon Ethics Showdown, 4/2/2020: Reality Dawns

Yyyyyyup!

Interestingly, the usually busy street bordering on our cul de sac looks just like this right now, except Gary Cooper isn’t anywhere to be seen…

1. What? The U.S. does NOT have more Wuhan virus cases than China? How can that be??? Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), hardly a knee-jerk Trump apologist, who sits on the Senate committee that deals with classified intelligence, said the Chinese Communist Party continues to lie about the death toll from the virus. He has said information he has viewed shows the United States does not surpass China in terms of deaths. This was obvious to anyone not actively trying to use the spread of the illness for partisan advantage, but it’s nice to have confirmation.

“The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false,” Sasse said yesterday. “Without commenting on any classified information, this much is painfully obvious: The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime. Beijing’s garbage propaganda shouldn’t be taken seriously by the World Health Organization, by independent journalists, or by the American epidemiologists who are going to beat this terrible virus.”

This, of course, further impugns the news media. Stephen Kruiser wrote,

“Every day, they find new ways to reinforce the “Enemy of People” status that they have been earning every day in the Trump era. They’ve routinely scolded anyone who accurately refers to the virus as being of Chinese origin, screaming “RACISM!” as if they were getting paid each time they uttered or typed the word. What has been most insidious has been the parroting of whatever China reports about the virus. Almost everyone in American media has been acting as ChiCom public relations lackeys, taking everything that the Chinese government says and passing it along without questioning any of it.”

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Mid-Day Ethics Stimulus, 3/31/2020: Dunces, Heroes, Hacks And More

I’m stimulated!

And you?

1. Maybe not the wisest move, but ethical… Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn) shared  his cell phone number on Twitter for anyone who needed to discuss their fears about the impact of the Wuhan virus. “If [you’re] feeling overwhelmed or scared and just want to talk to somebody give me a call,”  said. “We will get through this together.”

He added, “I know everybody’s under a lot of pressure with what’s going on with the Coronavirus. If you’re feeling all that pressure and it’s getting to you…I know in the last little bit here we’ve had nine people in our community taking their life. That’s a horrible, horrible thing, somebody taking their own life. If you feel like you’re going to hurt yourself or maybe hurt somebody around you, why don’t ya’ll just call me. Let’s talk.”

2.  I know this is an unpopular position, but it’s not the first time I’ve explained it. CNN’s Brooke Baldwin was overcome with emotion as  she interviewed a woman who’ had been unable to say goodbye to her mother in person before she died of the Wuhan Virus. Baldwin is an unprofessional hack. In recent years, alleged professional journalists, especially on CNN, have allowed their emotions to influence their reporting. This results in a form of editorializing, and the practice demonstrates how much today’s journalists see themselves as performers rather than objective communicators of information.

Admittedly, this kind of interview is designed to bring out the Kleenex,  but CNN lets its hosts display grief when a favorite candidate loses (like Hillary Clinton), glee, when a figure they don’t like is abused (Carol Costello chuckling at a recording of Sarah Palin’s daughter breaking down)  or anger when a political figure  doesn’t toe the progressive line. (Don Lemon, more or less constantly.) It’s hackery.

3. And today’s Covidiot is...Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of The River Church in Tampa, a so-called “mega church” that held a service over the weekend in which over a thousand worshipers  were “squeezed in like sardines,” as one reporter described it. Howard-Browne had said that he would defy the restrictions imposed by the state and county to stem the threat of the  worldwide pandemic. “We are not stopping anything. I’ve got news for you, this church will never close. The only time the church will close is when the Rapture is taking place,” the reverend said.

Following the service, a warrant for his arrest was issued. He is now in custody.

4.  Hmmmm...Here are Governor Ralph Northam’s exceptions to his “order” regarding the stay-at-home restrictions in Virginia:

a. Obtaining food, beverages, goods, or services as permitted in Executive
Order 53;

b. Seeking medical attention, essential social services, governmental
services, assistance from law enforcement, or emergency services;

c. Taking care of other individuals, animals, or visiting the home of a family
member;

d. Traveling required by court order or to facilitate child custody, visitation,
or child care;

e. Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals
comply with social distancing requirements;

f. Traveling to and from one’s residence, place of worship, or work;

g. Traveling to and from an educational institution;

h. Volunteering with organizations that provide charitable or social services; and

i. Leaving one’s residence due to a reasonable fear for health or safety, at the direction of law enforcement, or at the direction of another government agency.

Aside from the fact that some of this would be vulnerable to constitutional challenges—those will come later—why is traveling to and from churches permitted, if church services are per se prohibited? Why is traveling to and from schools an exception, if all schools have been ordered to close? Why is visiting a relative permitted, but not a close friend? A best friend? Your only friend? Do only blood relatives count? In-laws? Seventh cousins twice removed?

The order seems arbitrary and hastily composed. Laws that infringe on civil rights cannot afford to be like that, if they want to withstand eventual court challenges, or even if they just want to be coherent.

5. Ugh. Mike Lindell, the My Pillow infomercial hustler whose TV ads have been banned at my house, was a guest at the White House Task Force press briefing yesterday.  He explained that his company was  devoting 75% of its manufacturing capacity into making face masks. Then he asked if he could add something, and President Trump said “Okay.”

Well, what choice did he have? The guy has volunteered to do a public service. He has cultivated the image of a nice person. If the President had said, “No, Mike. Sorry. We’re moving on,” he would have looked ungrateful. However that is exactly what Trump should have said. It’s not worth the risk.

Embodying a worst case scenario, Lindell said,

God gave us grace on November 8th, 2016, to change the course we were on. God had been taken out of our schools and lives. A nation had turned its back on God. And I encourage you: Use this time at home to get — home to get back in the Word, read our Bibles, and spend time with our families. Our President gave us so much hope where, just a few short months ago, we had the best economy, the lowest unemployment, and wages going up. It was amazing. With our great President, Vice President, and this administration and all the great people in this country praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that’s stronger and safer than ever.

Ethics foul. It was not Lindell’s place to engage in religious grandstanding and a political endoresment, however sincere it might be. This wasn’t a political rally, nor a time for religious proselytizing. It also, once again, painted a target on the President, who responded,

That’s very nice. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mike. Appreciate it…. I did not know he was going to do that, but he’s a friend of mine, and I do appreciate it. Thank you, Mike, very much.

At that point, I don’t know what else he could say.

 

New Media Gaslighting Update, And An Insufficiently Inflammatory Rant

As the majority of Americans gradually come around to appreciating the President’s efforts and leadership in the uncharted metaphorical waters of a strange and still infuriatingly under-understood pandemic, the Get Trump media has shifted into pure propaganda and fiction to claim otherwise. Here’s David Leonhardt, arguably the most rabid and untrustworthy of all the op-ed writers in the Times “resistance” stable, claiming, Trump Is Hurting His Own Re-election Chances: Don’t be fooled by snapshot polls.” That should be, “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” Even worse is The Atlantic, which is literally a full time Trump Derangement publication now. Peter Wehner is the prime balladeer of the magazines fantastic songs: two weeks ago, he wrote, “The Trump Presidency Is Over: It has taken a good deal longer than it should have, but Americans have now seen the con man behind the curtain.”

This kind of hysteria-mongering is even worse: “How Donald Trump Could Steal the Election.” The First Amendment allows publications to publish such vomit, but that doesn’t mean its ethical for them to do it. Like earlier article about how the President might just refuse to leave office if defeated, or use the epidemic to declare himself dictator, such fever-dreams are based on nothing but clinical obsession and hate. The author The Atlantic dredged up is a professor of political science at the University of Maryland named Jeffrey Davis. He, his university, and The Atlantic should all be discredited in the future, as their judgment is stunningly awful and their trustworthiness is non-existent.

Then there’s this: In an open letter to Vice-President Pence, British journalist Mehdi Hasan writes in The Intercept that he must  invoke 25th Amendment and have the President removed as “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Yes, it’s good old Resistance Plan E (on the list that goes up to S.) And what triggered the resort to this oldie but goodie? The President was mean to a reporter, Hasan is a journalist, so that settles it! Cementing the total lack of seriousness in his article, Hasan cited Bandy Lee as authority—you know, the discredited Yale psychiatrist who has breached her profession’s ethical standards by diagnosing the President from afar, and who is thus the go-to guest any time CNN or MSNBC has another “How do we get rid of this guy without beating him in an election?” panel. (She also exposed her integrity and motives recently by refusing to diagnose Joe Biden’s cognitive problems.) It’s another embarrassing article. Why would anyone publish such garbage? 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

Ethics Quiz: The Billionaire’s Tweet

David Geffen, the American businessman, movie producer, film studio executive, and philanthropist, is perhaps best known for creating Dreamworks Studios with fellow billionaire Stephen Spielberg. I mean, the guy is rich. How rich is he? He’s so rich, no one can make a “How rich is he?” joke that makes him laugh, because they all are true applied to him.  Anyway, Geffen just got in trouble because of this Instagram message:

..showing his $400 million superyacht, Rising Sun,  off the coast of the Grenadines, a chain of small Caribbean islands in the lesser Antilles.

Indignation and anger erupted on the Left and Right. Here’s Market Watch snarking,

If ever there were doubts about how the superaffluent are faring amid a pandemic for the ages, media mogul David Geffen wants to make it abundantly clear that, for his part, he’s doing just fine — and he wishes us all the best… The self-made billionaire doesn’t owe the rest of the world anything, presumably, but his tweets and tone may underscore the yawning chasm between how the 1% can cope with isolation amid a pandemic that has deeply altered the normal patterns of society — perhaps, permanently. A recent New York Times article published on March 5 highlighted the lifestyles of the rich and famous amid the pandemic, which featured the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow en route to Paris Fashion Week wearing a pricey black face mask, while many health-care workers are struggling to obtain lifesaving masks for their jobs.

“The rich are sparing no expense when it comes to minimizing their experience with the coronavirus,” the Times story observed. The Guardian wrote that the wealthy are taking to private jets to escape the virus, while other affluent folk are fleeing to places like the Hamptons and Cape Cod, taking refuge in their posh summer homes or ensconcing themselves in luxurious rental properties…The expanding distance between the haves and the have-nots, however, isn’t sitting well with many.

“The View’s  Meghan McCain said, “David Geffen is worth 8 billion dollars! For God’s sake help this country get ventilators, our health workers masks and the medical supplies they need! Or no, just stay on your fucking yacht instagramming. This is just shameful and grotesque.” “David Geffen could have donated that yacht to NYC to be used as a makeshift hospital,” New York Times columnist Wajahat Ali tweeted. Film producer Robby Starbuck  tweeted, “David Geffen’s thought process: ‘Hey you know what, millions are losing their jobs, can’t pay their rent and they’re worried about a deadly pandemic, I bet they’d love to know how I’m doing. Fire up the copter so we can take some more pics of my yacht! They’ll love this!!!”

Geffen is a progressive and a contributor to Democratic candidates, so he got no passes from conservatives either. “David Geffen tacitly tells the rest of the world to get bent,” wrote conservative pundit Ed Driscoll. A commenter on Instapundit wrote,

Dear Mr. Geffen: Marie Antoinette voiced a similar tone during the French Revolution (although there is debate wether she said, “let them eat cake” or not) and she literally lost her head. Best you stay on your boat for awhile…..

Geffen has made his Instagram account private.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day…

Does David Geffen deserve all the abuse for his message and photograph?

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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'”

Nice!

Mollie Hemingway, editor at the National Review, had an admirably understated reaction to this tweet from Mrs. Clinton, saying,Fully acknowledge I’m biased here, but my advice would be that if your politics are giving the impression that you’re rooting against your fellow Americans and for a deadly virus attacking them, you might want to reassess.”

My observations are not quite as understated:

  • What an asshole! But we knew that. By “me” I mean everyone who has observed this awful, awful human being’s behavior and statements since at least 1992.
  • The actual form of assholery that the spectacularly failed aspiring  first female President models here is not a variety examined in the post referenced in the title above, but in this post, item #4, in which I noted, “You can mark down any pundit (or Facebook friend) who gloats about the official U.S. tally of Wuhan virus cases making it the most infected nation in the world as fitting neatly into the topic of this recent post.” She’s not a pundit, of course (nor my Facebook friend, thank god); she is, by about 20 laps, the most ungracious, unethical, whiny, nasty, divisive and pathetic losing political candidate for national office in American political history…and she just happens to be the only woman to be on the ballot for President. Continue reading

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

Good afternoon.

Stop blaming my favorite animal, the pangolin, or the so-called “scaly anteater,” for the pandemic!

That’s a tree pangolin above in a defensive posture. Ever since the nexus for the outbreak of COVID-19 was traced back to a wet market in Hubei province, scientists have been looking for the virus’s heritage.  It’s possible that the virus emerged in a colony of horseshoe bats in Yunnan, a province that borders the south-east Asian country of Myanmar. But some fingers are also pointing at the pangolin, which was once believed to have bats in its ancestry. The animal, like others that American wouldn’t recognize, is the most trafficked beast in the world due to the supposed health benefits of its scales, with most of that traffic ending in China. A search for the “missing link” in the chain of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has uncovered two close cousins of the variety of coronavirus that started the pandemic in Wuhan in pangolins smuggled into China. Not THE virus, however.  Here’s a photo of a pangolin unfurled:

1. It is outrageous that a U.S. newspaper would include this sentence…From an article about the joys of Randolph Scott Westerns by Times film critic Ben Kinegsberg: “The depiction of Native Americans as horse-eating, husband-killing savages doesn’t sit well in modern eyes, and the name of Henry Silva’s character in “The Tall T” is so offensive it cannot be printed.”

Well, it has to printed somewhere, or the information itself has been permanently erased! If a newspaper is going to start  purging words, names, history  and facts, where does it stop? I’ve been trying to imagine what name could justify the Times refusing to reveal it, other than “Voldemort.” What could it be? Let’s check the Internet Movie Database (the film is “The Tall T“)… Continue reading