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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Stop Pushing Chinese Propaganda: Giving A Chinese Name To The Virus Is Appropriate And Ethical

Incredibly, reporters asked President Trump multiple times yesterday to account for a rumor that one of his aides had referred to the Wuhan virus, aka “Century 21”,  or something like that, as the “Kung Fu Flu.”  (Heh. )

A. It isn’t “racist” if someone, or many people, did use the quip, and B. Why is that even worthy of discussion? I may be wrong, but as the news media’s efforts to use Big Lies to impugn the President are based on slimmer and more trivial excuses, I expect the majority of the public to eventually figure out what’s going on.

Axios just released a time line, based in part on a new study of how the virus took hold in China. It introduces its work this way:

Axios has compiled a timeline of the earliest weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in China, highlighting when the cover-up started and ended — and showing how, during that time, the virus already started spreading around the world, including to the United States.

Why it matters: A study published in March indicated that if Chinese authorities had acted three weeks earlier than they did, the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95% and its geographic spread limited.

This timeline, compiled from information reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the South China Morning Post and other sources, shows that China’s cover-up and the delay in serious measures to contain the virus lasted about three weeks.

The study, by Southhampton University, is here.

The information indicates clearly that China is accountable. China is responsible for the severity of the pandemic. China deserves to have that responsibility recognized, and those trying to use race-baiting and linguistic stunts to assist in the cover-up are assisting a brutal totalitarian regime. Those who are doing this out of animus for the President are beneath contempt.

No, China should not be asked to pay reparations for its unfortunate role in the crisis, though a recent poll asserts that 42 percent of Americans “feel that China should pay at least some of the world’s coronavirus bills.” This kind of disaster could happen to any nation, though, as you can see in the chart above, it keeps happening to China. It is more likely to happen in a nation like China, that obstructs the free flow of information. It still didn’t intend to infect the world.

I assume.

However, China should accept responsibility, as well as the shame of having a pandemic named after a Chinese starting point.

Ethics Observations On The Latest Gallup Poll On Public Approval Of Congress

From Gallup, released today:

More Americans approve of the job congressional Republicans are doing than of congressional Democrats’ performance — 40% vs. 35%. The rating for Republicans in Congress has risen six percentage points since late October, before the impeachment of President Donald Trump in the U.S. House of Representatives. Over the same period, congressional Democrats’ approval rating has edged down three points and disapproval has climbed five points, from 57% to 62%…

The latest readings for these measures, from a Feb. 17-28 poll, are Gallup’s first since the Dec. 18 impeachment of Trump in the U.S. House of Representatives and his subsequent acquittal in the U.S. Senate on Feb. 5. The votes in the House and Senate broke largely along party lines, with only a few exceptions. This split is similarly reflected in rank-and-file partisans’ approval ratings of Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Although majorities of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, as well as Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, approve of the job their own party’s members of Congress are doing, there is a significant difference between the two groups. Republicans’ approval of congressional Republicans has jumped 13 points to 76% since October, but Democrats’ 65% approval of congressional Democrats is virtually unchanged from October…

Republicans’ and Republican leaners’ more positive evaluations of their own party’s congressional caucus are the major reason Republicans in Congress receive higher ratings than Democrats in Congress overall.

Observations:

1. I was tempted to just post the quote and the link under the headline, “Res Ipsa Loquitur”and leave it at that.  I was also tempted to post both on Facebook, with the comment: “See what happens when you live in the Facebook bubble? I bet you’re shocked at this. (PS: I’m not.)” I decided that would be taunting, which is unethical, and when one of the usual suspects wrote that I was just repeating Fox News talking points and was a “Trump supporter,” I might have gotten angry. I can be very mean when I’m angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/8/2010: Daylight Savings Time Edition

Well, It SHOULD still be “Good Morning!”, but it’s not…

1. The most unethical Presidential campaign in recent history.  This profile of in Wisconsin, nicely illustrates the central ethics rot at the core of the Sanders campaign and his appeal. Michelz, we learn, is desperately in debt. He is therefor banking on Sanders to solve his problems by taking money from other people and giving it to him.

This is where the hyping of “income inequality” leads, and it is the basis of Sanders’ unethical message. It is inherently unfair that other people make more money than you do, so the government should use its power to “equalize” income and wealth. We learn in the course of the piece that in last week’s California primary, 47 % who said income inequality was their most important issue picked Mr. Sanders. 13% voted for Joe Biden.

How do individuals brought up in the United States, a nation built on the belief in personal liberty and the responsibility for choosing and making one’s own path in life, come to believe that there is an intrinsic right to a level of wealth and success, regardless of personal choices, industry, talent and character?  We don’t need to ask how we came to have a Presidential contender whose strategy is to appeal to such people and exploit their unhappiness with their current state in life. That is a market-tested approach to acquiring power that has been effective around the world, with disastrous results.

2. Thank you, 1960s! From the res ipsa loquitur department: A new Pew Research Center study of 130 countries and territories shows that the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households. From the study:
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Who Killed “Judith’s” Baby?

This is a terrible and tragic story, but I don’t want to focus on that. I want to focus on accountability.

NBC tells the true story (I assume it is true, exactly why, I don’t know, since this is NBC. It’s not related to politics, I guess.) of “Judith” who  worked at a flower shop. On her long daily drive to work and back, she listened to podcasts, and when she got pregnant, she listened  to “The Birth Hour” and “Indie Birth,” podcasts about childbirth stories, which ranged from hospital to home births.The “Free Birth Podcast” excited her particularly.

The podcaster is Emilee Saldaya,  a Los Angeles freebirth advocate and founder of the Free Birth Society that has 46,000 followers on Instagram. The podcast promotes the experiences of women who give birh without assistance, in  bathtubs, fields, or in their own beds, surrounded by their partners loved ones. Doctors were not welcome.

Judith listened to around 70 episodes, some multiple times. A particular favorite was an interview with a woman who had given birth by candlelight in a yurt in the California mountains with only her husband and her dog she called her a “midwolf.”

I’m having a flashback to 1967.

The podcasts began with advertisements for the Free Birth Society’s online courses and private consultations; this is often the tell-tale sign of a cult.  Judith dutifully paid $299 for the group’s 10-module video guide on how to freebirth babies at home. None of the “experts” and “consultants” the group sponsored have medical credentials or experience; that’s the point. Judith didn’t like doctors, so she was a vulnerable target for the group’s message, which emphasized that hospitals were scary places, and hospital births were full of trauma for mother and child.

NBC reports that distrust of the medical profession regarding childbirth is on the rise. A  survey conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families claims that while in 2002, 45 percent of mothers surveyed agreed that “giving birth is a natural process that should not be interfered with unless absolutely medically necessary, the number had increased to 74% by 2018.

Could this possibly be accurate? When did giving birth by squatting and biting on a stick  become cool again?

When she got past to her due date and Judith’s pregnancy approached its tenth month, she relied on the Free Birth Society course’s episode on “long pregnancies” for guidance. That podcast  warned against inducing a pregnancy, a process it referred to as “eviction from the womb.” It insisted that the idea that “babies must be born before 42 weeks is nonsense.”

Judith had her amniotic fluid checked at a local hospital, and though there were no causes for alarm, a doctor thee urged her to schedule an induction. She made the appointment,  but canceled it the next day. She sought, NBC says, a second opinion on Facebook.  “43+1 today, politely declining hospital induction. They think I’m crazy,” Judith posted on Ten Month Mamas in January 2019. “I really feel like this baby wants a home birth too but we are definitely being tested. What would you mamas do?” Hundreds of comments supported her desire for a home-based freebirth.

No one told her she should do what the doctor had advised, and there was a reason for that. Several of the groups had rules forbidding members from suggesting that another member resort to a doctor or a midwife.  “Unassisted Pregnancy & Childbirth,” for example, instructed its  4,600 members,

“This means we don’t want to hear about the tests your midwife wants you to take, or how your OB thinks baby is breech or ‘too big’ or whatever other shit they say. Just don’t. This is not the place. No induction discussion. We do not advocate for induction of any kind, as no induction is natural.” 

Egged on by Facebook extremists, Judith told NBC that she became determined resolved to freebirth alone, “no matter what.”

When the day she had decided to freebirth arrived, Judith “walked and danced for hours through contractions and floated in a pool that her husband filled with water.” She listened to music as a friend massaged her back. She took short naps between contractions…everything she had learned from  the podcasts.  But the pain increased and the breaks between contractions shortened. After 10 hours of labor, Judith started vomiting.  The contractions were coming too fast and violently for her  to monitor the baby’s heart rate with the fetal stethoscope she had bought. Her water broke, and there was dark brown in it, fecal matter that would kill the baby if it was inhaled.  Her husband drove her to the hospital, doubled up in pain. Once there,  Judith got the medical assistance she had vowed  to avoid, but too late. Her baby was dead.

Stipulated: This should not have  happened.

Who’s primarily responsible? For this poll, I’m going to allow multiple voting, because I don’t think there is a single answer.

 

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/15/20: Dresden, Bloomberg, Snopes, Climate Change, And “The Chalkening”

Good Morning…

1. Dresden bombing ethics. February 13-15, 1945 witnessed the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany, with the resulting deaths of between 22,000 and 135,000 civilians. depending on whose propaganda you choose to believe. Regardless of the number, the destruction of the German cultural center and questionable military target so late in the war—after its loss in the Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s defeat was just a matter of time—was instantly controversial, and is still intensely debated today.

The attack, which dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city, destroyed more than 1,600 acres. By all accounts, the human toll was horrific. Lothar Metzger, a survivor, wrote,

We saw terrible things: cremated adults shrunk to the size of small children, pieces of arms and legs, dead people, whole families burnt to death, burning people ran to and fro, burnt coaches filled with civilian refugees, dead rescuers and soldiers, many were calling and looking for their children and families, and fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from.

Was the firebombing of Dresden a war crime?  If the Allies had lost the war, it would have become a war crime. As we have discussed here before, the concept of war crimes is confounding and hypocritical at best. If the attacks were deemed essential to ending the war as soon as possible, then they were ethically defensible.

Much of the debate over the years has focused on whether the bombing was terrorism. Of course it was, as were the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and General Sherman’s March to the Sea. Terror is a legitimate weapon in warfare, when the objective is to destroy the enemy’s will to fight. Attacks on civilians for revenge and to inflict gratuitous death and pain for no legitimate strategic purpose are unethical . The distinction is usually in the eye of the beholder.

Wikipedia has an unusually thorough article on the Dresden attack, and I found this paper interesting as well. Continue reading

Never Mind Coronavirus, It’s Time To Declare Trump Derangement Syndrome A National Health Emergency.

This isn’t a Babylon Bee joke.

The University of Massachusetts-Lowell Center for Public Opinion surveyed Democratic primary voters at the end of January, and someone had the inspiration of asking a question designed to gauge the extent of Trump Derangement Syndrome.  The survey found that nearly two out of three would prefer that a massive meteor collide with Earth, triggering an extinction-level event  “extinguishing all human life,” than for President Trump win re-election.

I thought the irrational Trump Hate deliberately and unceasingly promoted by the “resistance” and mainstream media false narratives, conspiracy theories and Big Lies was dangerous, but I didn’t expect this.

Caveats are in order: the YouGov poll used a relatively small sample of just 400 people and had a large margin of error of 6.4 percentage points. I also assume that a number of respondents would choose a dinosaur death over the Bad Orange Man as a symbolic expression of their opposition to the President rather than as a genuine conviction. (It they are anything like me–or my instinctively perverse son—they would.)

On the other hand, it does seem that the Democratic Party has been following a strategy of encouraging Trump Derangement as its best, and perhaps only , route to victory next November. If the economy holds, the party will be asking voters to vote against their self-interest and for one of the unattractive alternatives now compeeing for the role out of pure, blinding, hysterical hate. A political analyst was widely quoted around the web and social media this week based on an opinion piece in which she argued Trump would lose because so many voters would go to the polls to express their personal revulsion of the President, and that issues and the opposition won’t matter. Continue reading