Pandemic Ethics Overflow, Including The Funniest Story So Far, And Newly Certified Big Lie #9

1. The funniest pandemic-related story comes out of Australia, and it goes in the “Scientific incompetence” files. Or maybe the “Sure, we should always trust the judgment of scientists” file. From The Guardian:

An Australian astrophysicist has been admitted to hospital after getting four magnets stuck up his nose in an attempt to invent a device that stops people touching their faces during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr Daniel Reardon, a research fellow at a Melbourne university, was building a necklace that sounds an alarm on facial contact, when the mishap occurred on Thursday night.

The 27 year-old astrophysicist, who studies pulsars and gravitational waves, said he was trying to liven up the boredom of self-isolation with the four powerful neodymium magnets….“I had a part that detects magnetic fields. I thought that if I built a circuit that could detect the magnetic field, and we wore magnets on our wrists, then it could set off an alarm if you brought it too close to your face…

So he made millions of people around the world slap their foreheads in amazement.

2. About those idiots who drank the fish tank cleaner: The emerging facts, after so many headlines blamed the husband’s death on the President’s misinformation, show this was more fake news. The Arizona woman who said that she and her 68-year-old husband ingested a substance used to clean fish tanks after hearing President Donald Trump enthuse about the potential value of chloroquine (but not fish tank ccleaner constaining the chemical)  as a cure for the Wuhan Virus is a Democrats, opposes Trump, and has given thousands of dollars to Democratic groups and candidates over the last two years. In late February, she gave to a Democratic PAC, the 314 Action Fund, that is part of the  “pro-science resistance.”It has even used the death of her husband to attack the White House.

Now the surviving fish tank-cleaner gourmet admits that she and her husband were both Democrats, not Trump supporters. But she  told NBC News that she took the fish tank cleaner to follow Trump’s advice.  “We saw Trump on TV—every channel—and all of his buddies and that this was safe,” she said last week. “Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.” Naturally, nobody checked her story: it was too good an opportunity to get Trump.

Now the women admits that she heard about the potential benefits of chloroquine, an antimalarial drug, in news reports, and decided at the “spur of the moment” to try  it “We weren’t big supporters of [Trump], but we did see that they were using it in China and stuff,” Wanda told the Free Beacon. “And we just made a horrible, tragic mistake,” she said. “It was stupid, and it was horrible, and we should have never done it. But it’s done and now I’ve lost my husband….We didn’t think it would kill us. We thought if anything it would help us ‘cus that’s what we’ve been hearing on the news.”

But at least she was able to spin the story so the  the news media would falsely say that the President was responsible for them drinking fish tank cleaner, so it wasn’t a total loss. Continue reading

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

I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is “Asshole”

That graph above dominates the New York Times front page this morning, but not in a normal way. The graph is at the bottom of the page and covers its entire width. The long bar representing current unemployment page runs up the entire right margin; it’s a full 18 inches. This wasn’t necessary to convey the information. It was necessary to alarm readers as much as possible. The Times publisher and editors are assholes.

I have been criticized for using that vulgar word here. I think the first time I used it, ironically enough, was to describe Donald Trump when he first said he was running for President in 2012. I used the word to describe the Christian minister who announced that he was going to burn the Koran at a time when Muslim crazies were murdering Christians in retribution for every perceived insult to their religion. I don’t use the word lightly. I use it when more socially acceptable descriptors like “jerk” are obviously inadequate.

An asshole is a person who willfully and often gleefully defies positive social norms for personal gain or just because he or she can, indulging the basest human motivations and non-ethical considerations to the detriment of society. Jerks can reform; usually assholes cannot. When someone acts like an asshole but is not one, often the simple device of  calling them what they are acting like will shock them back into more responsible behavior. This is why the word must remain among our ethics enforcement tools, like a gun, usually holstered, but still available when needed.

It is needed a lot right now.

As I keep reminding readers, in 2015 I wrote a post declaring that if Donald Trump were elected President, he would turn America into a nation of assholes. I was right about that, but completely mistaken about the process. I thought that Trump’s reflexive lack of ethics and civility would poison the young, who typically adopt the values and manners of prominent role models in the culture, and historically no individual exercises more powerful influence over our culture than the President. However, what we have witnessed over the past three years is an epidemic of asshole conduct by those who oppose President Trump, who actually despise him. I didn’t see that coming. The Wuhan virus emergency has especially brought their assholism (“assholery?” “assholicity?” ) into focus.

Ann Althouse said it nicely (without using the word) reacting to Joe Biden’s current strategy of tossing off incoherent insults and second-guessing regarding the President’s handling of the epidemic. She wrote in part… Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/26/2020: Feeling Like Inigo Montoya

Good morning and I’m ticked off…

I know I ran that same clip recently. Never mind; when it’s appropriate, it’s appropriate. (The segment of “The Princess Bride” above is one of the top 6 ethics movie clips used on Ethics Alarms, the others being Otter’s declaration that it’s time to do something really stupid and futile (“Animal House”); “You know: morons!” (“Blazing Saddles”); the Devil speech (“A Man For All Seasons”); the Duke busting a bully in the face after saying that he wouldn’t (“McClintock”); and the Caine mutineers’ lawyer explaining that it is the duty of a crew to support their captain whether they like him or not (“The Caine Mutiny.”)

1. Do people know what “We’re in this together” means? I don’t think it means what they think it does. I just was sent an email copied in to 25 other people who I do not know, touting a 2015 Bill Gates TED Talk  about the dangers of viral contagions (as if his point hadn’t been made more vividly and earlier by Tom Clancy , Michael Crichton, and Stephen King. ) The letter also alluded to the “denier in chief” and once again flogged the Big Lie that the President  claimed that the virus was a hoax. The Pavlovian Deranged on the list immediately responded with short messages all echoing the theme of what an idiot Trump is.

I’ve had enough of this. I replied to all: Continue reading

It Isn’t Easy Being FDR, And Other Early Morning Musings…

FDR at State Capitol, Topeka KA 9.14.42. Source: FDRL

After the requisite grandstanding and obstruction that the Democratic Party’s hard left base demanded, a deal was finally struck for a Wuhan pandemic rescue bill. Some complexities in getting it done remain, but it looks like there will be vital government support for the most vulnerable in this bizarre disruption.

Observations:

  • Nobody is going to talk about it now, but this is why the irresponsible spending presided over by both parties throughout the past many administrations was spectacularly wrong. The nation will suffer for it too. The debt was already unsustainable; the reason political leadership has to address that problem when there isn’t a crisis is because it’s impossible to address it when there is one. The new “stimulus” bill now inflates that debt by 2 trillion dollars. It isn’t that the amount may not be worth it: sure it is, psychologically if for no other reason. The problem is that we can’t afford it. Nor will any party have the guts to raise taxes to pay for the bill any time soon.

Meanwhile, our roads, bridges, waterways, railroad tracks, sewer systems and water pipes need urgent repair and expansion that will also cost a couple of trillion dollars or so. Adding Medicare for All, college loan forgiveness and free tuition to that…well, it’s fiscal fantasy land, and wildly dishonest and irresponsible for any political leaders to imply it can be done without making a dire situation worse. Continue reading

Well What Do You Know! The New York Times Decided To Play It Straight This Time And Passed An Integrity Test….Well, For A While, Anyway. [UPDATED]

Maybe they decided they had arrived at a moment when unified resolve was essential and the national interest was at stake, and the paper had no choice but to stop spinning for the Democrats.

Tonight’s just breaking story is headlined, Coronavirus Live Updates: As State Pleas Mount, Trump Outlines Some Federal Action; Senate Democrats Block Stimulus Package.

It says in part,

Senate Democrats on Sunday blocked action on an emerging deal to prop up an economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, paralyzing the progress of a nearly $2 trillion government rescue package they said failed to adequately protect workers or impose strict enough restrictions on bailed-out businesses.

The party-line vote was a stunning setback after three days of fast-paced negotiations between senators and administration officials to reach a bipartisan compromise on legislation that is expected to be the largest economic stimulus package in American history — now expected to cost $1.8 trillion or more. In a 47-to-47 vote, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes that would have been needed to advance the measure, even as talks continued between behind the scenes between Democrats and the White House to salvage a compromise.

The failure to move forward shook financial markets and threatened an ambitious timeline set by the Trump administration and leading Republicans to move the rescue package through the Senate on Monday and enact it within days.

In voting to block action, Democrats risked a political backlash if they are seen as obstructing progress on a measure that is widely regarded as crucial to aid desperate Americans and prop up a flagging economy.

Continue reading