Morning Ethics Catch-Up, 10/7/2021: Idiots, Crooks, Crazies…And Judges

Ketchup

I have at least 57 posts languishing…

1 Now this is “shouting ‘Fire!’ in a crowed theater!” Christopher Perez, 40, is heading to prison for falsely telling his social media followers that in 2020 he had paid someone infected with the Wuhan virus to lick food products at multiple grocery stores in Texas. His motive was to “scare people away from visiting the stores,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

The FBI launched an investigation that ultimately determined the claims were a hoax; Perez did not pay anyone, and nobody licked any groceries at his behest. A jury found him guilty of violating a federal law that criminalizes false information and hoaxes related to biological weapons. He was sentenced this week to 15 months in prison and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. His defense lawyers argue that the sentence is too harsh. Perez shook and trembled and wept in court, shouting, “I am not a terrorist!”

No, you’re an idiot, but you behaved like a terrorist, and under the law, that makes you a terrorist. The sentence is completely appropriate.

2. And while we are on the topic of criminals…We might be turning the ethical corner on looted antiquities from other lands. Nancy Weiner, the owner of a prominent Manhattan noted for its expertise in ancient Asian artifacts, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and possession of stolen property in connection with the trafficking of looted treasures from India and Southeast Asia. She sold items to major museums in Australia and Singapore, and others were auctioned off by Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The items ranged in value from $100,000 to $1.5 million, and they were stolen. But Weiner had created fake documents stating that they had all been purchased from private collections. Her rationalization: it was standard practice. “Everybody Does It.” “For decades I conducted business in a market where buying and selling antiquities with vague or even no provenance was the norm,” she said during her appearance in Manhattan Supreme Court. “Obfuscation and silence were accepted responses to questions concerning the source from which an object had been obtained. In short, it was a conspiracy of the willing.” Right. That doesn’t mean you had to join in, but we understand: $$$$$$.

The Times quotes Clinton Howell, a New York-based antiques dealer and president of the Art and Antique Dealers League of America, as stating that the tactics used by Wiener and others in past years “are not pardonable,” but that “the dealer of today is not the dealer of 40 years ago — there’s a very different attitude now.” We shall see. Most professions with unethical cultures just devise new ways to accomplish the same ends.

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POTUS Empathy Games”Hey, I’ve Got Problems Of My Own!”

Biden weeps

How long will Americans excuse Biden’s dead son sympathy ploy?

As noted by the New York Times, Biden once again evoked his deceased son Beau while addressing the families of Marines killed in the Kabul airport bombing He has been doing this for years. Even if it’s sincere, and it might me, it is a manipulative and unethical ploy. Al Gore was addicted to a similar routine, talking about his dead sister. Althouse nails the problem, writing,

Biden needs to show people that he’s focused on the problems that beset us now and that he can do something to help us. To stand there offering up himself as an example of a person who has suffered doesn’t send a message of focus and competence. It’s a message that can be read as Hey, I’ve got problems of my own. Faced with parents of marines who’d just been killed, he said, essentially, my son died too….You might be tolerant of an old man who came up to you at your child’s funeral and wanted you to know how much he still hurts from the death of his child 6 years ago. It might be difficult, but you’d probably think something like, that poor old guy. But this poor old guy is President of the United States. He asked to be President of the United States, and by some strange twists of fate, he got what he said he wanted. And now everyone’s problems are his. He needs to act like someone who can handle all that. If he’s swallowed up in grief over his lost son — if he’s “haunted,” as the NYT headline has it — perhaps he should resign. …But it’s no wonder he’s lapsed into the misconception that “Beau” is a magic word. The press has propped him up so much — including with this “Invoking Beau” article.

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Texas Abortion Law Freakout Friday Continues: Psaki And Althouse

Psaki

I. Psaki

The exchange yesterday that Biden White House paid liar Jen Psaki had with reporter Owen Jensen, of the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN), a Catholic news organization, raises this conundrum: if there is persuasive ethical argument for abortion and abortion advocates have been defending Roe v. Wade for half a century, why are they so bad at it?

“Why does the president support abortion when his own Catholic faith teaches abortion is morally wrong?” the reporter asked. It’s a fair question, of course, and one that Joe Biden has (badly) tap-danced around for decades, claiming that he accepts the teachings of his church but refuses to impose his religious beliefs on others. This means, of course, that he believes abortion is murder but advocates it anyway. It is not a serious, honest or ethical position.

Psaki’s answer, as many of her answers do, ducked the question, saying that the President “believes that it’s a woman’s right, it’s a woman’s body and it’s her choice.” It’s a woman’s right to kill a human being? That is what Psaki is saying Biden believes, if he is as faithful as he claims. Typical of her ilk, her answer pretends that the only issue is the woman’s body and rights. Then Jensen asked who Biden thinks “should look out for the unborn child?” That is also a fair question, since Psaki’s answer was a Jumbo: “Unbornd child? What unborn child?”

Her next answer was worse:

“He believes that it’s up to a woman to make those decisions and up to a woman to make those decisions with her doctor. I know you’ve never faced those choices, nor have you ever been pregnant, but for women out there who have faced those choices, this is an incredibly difficult thing.”

An unborn child is either a life, or it isn’t. Biden’s faith states that it is. Despite that, the President believes that a woman can magically make a life a non-life by choosing to do so, along with her doctor How does that work, Jen? Then she stoops to the “men have no right to have a position on abortion” cheat, which would be unnecessary if she had a reasoned, persuasive defense of abortion beyond “Roe v. Wade says it’s a right, so it’s a right.”

No, Jensen’s never been pregnant (but he could be, Biden’s trans constituency should remind her), but he has been a fetus, and so has Psaki. Thus both should recognize the importance of the fetus’s right to exist.

Ah, but the moral and ethical dilemma posed by an unwanted pregnancy is difficult, Jen says. Yes, it’s difficult. Difficulty is not an argument for taking an innocent life. Is this the best a devoted abortion advocate can do under focused questioning? Apparently it is, at least when the advocate is as incompetent as Psaki. Was Sean Spicer really any worse than this hack? I don’t see how, except that he was working for President Trump.

II. Althouse

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Reader Comments Safari: Revealing NYT Reader Comments, And Althouse Reader Comments On Those Comments

Biden meeting

Blogger Ann Althouse has gone full circle and now allows reader comments again. I must confess that the episode cooled much of my long-standing enthusiasm for her blog: her reasoning in banning them was so arrogant and dismissive of the loyal readers who support her that she crashed her cognitive dissonance scale with me. (And I still don’t forgive her for refusing to include Ethics Alarms in her links; eventually she stopped linking to any other sites at all, which, come to think of it, was similar to banning comments.) I assume her traffic was crashing, or maybe someone she pays attention to pointed out that her constantly changing the comment hoops to jump through (“No comments, but you can email me with a comment, and maybe I’ll quote it as a comment…”) did not put the former law prof. in a flattering light. I don’t know, and don’t really care. I just know that I don’t check her quirky posts as often as I once did.

I checked today, though, and Ann posted on “Miscue After Miscue, U.S. Exit Plan Unravels/President Biden promised an orderly withdrawal. That pledge, compounded by missed signals and miscalculations, proved impossible” , a an article that I had already read in the print edition. The Times story describes a disturbing meeting President Biden had with his military and other advisors about the plan to pull out in Afghanistan. Ann read the online comments from Times readers and reported herself,

“If you go into the comments over there at the NYT and you put them in order of “most liked,” you’ll see an unbroken chain of comments supporting Joe Biden: “It seems to me that the media is being less than fair to Joe Biden over this,” “Has it really gone wrong?,” “Did the Trump Surrender Agreement with the Taliban provide for evacuation? If it did, what did it say? If it didn’t, why not?,” “Frankly I’m dismayed that the media is now declaring this a disaster,” “Thanks President Biden for making this brave decision albeit flawed execution. When we end this if there are no US troop live lost and Americans evacuated with as much of our allies. It will be remembered as a very good decision and no one will care about execution like Vietnam withdrawal.”

Good research there, Ann! I would never do that; I detest “likes,” which I regard as lazy substitutes for serious consideration. But her discovery is useful: this is a major reason, along with the biases of its employees, why the Times has abandoned journalism for progressive propaganda. Of course, I could read pretty much the same sad reactions from my own Facebook feed, if my “friends” didn’t block me from reading what they know I’d take apart, ruthless and with glee.

Then Althouse’s commenters had a field day, reminding me again how foolish it was to silence them. Among the best responses,

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End Of Week Ethics Regrets, 5/14/2021: Trevor Noah’s Wit, The Yankees’ Great Vaccine Experience, And Other Puzzlements

regret

1. Baseball Ethics notes:

  • Ethics Heroes: The Houston Astros. When I forgive them for cheating their way to the 2017 World Championship, they might be worthy of a full post the next time they do something exemplary. The Astros are providing furnished apartments to minor-league players across all levels this season. According to The Athletic, they are  the only club doing this. Minor league players are obscenely underpaid, and have to find desperation lodging on salaries that aren’t much better than minimum wage. What the Astros are doing should be the industry standard. Is this an attempt by a bad actor to prove it has come into the light? Maybe. It’s still admirable.
  • In the category of “It isn’t what it is,” we have a bizarre statement from New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. The Yankees have confirmed eight cases of the Wuhan virus this week, with shortstop Gleyber Torres  the first player to test positive. The other seven cases had been among the Yankees’ coaching and support staffs, including pitching coach Matt Blake, third-base coach Phil Nevin and first-base coach Reggie Willits. Something is clearly amiss, either in what the team has been doing or in the effectiveness of the Johnosn and Johnson  single shot vaccine, which is what the Yankees provided to the team. Cashman said, in a longer statement to the press,

“The one thing I take from this is I believe the vaccine is working. We can take great comfort, thankfully, that all who were vaccinated with the J&J, provided from two different states, the one batch in New York, the other batch in Florida, at various different times, one in March versus obviously earlier in April, we believe it has protected us from obviously something severe or something much more difficult to be handling than we currently are.”

Or, the fact that so many Yankees who were  “fully vaccinated” got the virus anyway might suggest that the vaccine involved isn’t that great. I would come to that conclusion before “the vaccine is working.” Baseball players are young, athletes, and as far removed from high risk as one could find. Before the vaccine, only one player who contracted the virus last season became seriously ill, and that was from aside effect of the illness rather than the illness itself.

2. Explain those rules again for me, please? In today’s Arts section of the New York Times, we have this note:

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Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 5/5/21: Toyota, Patents, And The Cheating Homecoming Queen

Frozen-Jack-Nicholson

I don’t want to over-use the “This Date In Ethics” concept, but attention must be paid: this was the day, in 1961,that Navy Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. boarded the Freedom 7 space capsule to becoming the first American astronaut to travel into space.

In these times where so many aspects of our culture are working to imbue Americans with fear of living, when people wear masks in their cars and teachers are willing to cripple both the economy and children’s education to minimize their risk of catching a virus, it should be remembered that a young, healthy man risked his life and the chance of a fiery death to advance America’s science and the spirit of exploration.

1. For some reason (Cognitive dissonance?) I haven’t been checking Althouse as often since she decided that her readers were hogging too much attention on her blog by insisting on posting comments. She still has an admirable talent for cutting through the BS. Reacting to today’s announcement that Facebook’s “quasi-indepedent” board upheld FaceBook’s partisan and anti-democratic ban on Donald Trump’s posts. Ann writes, “I’m not surprised. If the decision had gone the other way, Facebook could have found some new offense and banned him again.”

Not could have, though; would have.

2. How is this fair or equitable? Once again, Toyota is giving a special discount to “recent college graduates.” This is, of course, ham-handed pro-college virtue-signaling, but wouldn’t you guess that non-college grads of the same age need such discounts more? In the TV ad, we see a nice, upper-middle class white girl from childhood to college—it sure looks like her parents can afford a car…or she can afford a full-price cheaper car. Interestingly, this is one of the relatively few TV ads running now that dares to feature a white character who doesn’t at least mitigate her ingrained evil by being part of a mixed-race family.

Special deals on products and services for special categories of Americans—yes, even veterans—are divisive and incoherent.

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Ethics Potpourri, 4/5/2021, Including, I Blush To Say, An Easter Weekend Lap-Dance for God

I hate potpourri.

1. Amateur poetry ethics. This has annoyed me for a long, long time. Althouse posted a notice from a local restaurant requiring patrons to wear masks. The thing suddenly devolves into verse, and in writing that, I am being generous. Here’s a sample:

I’ve been listening to and reading crap like that since I was ten, and when I was ten, I wrote better light verse by far. Since then, I’ve written song parodies and light verse for fun and profit, and still do. It’s a skill. It takes practice, and it requires care and detail, like most tasks. OK, I know that today’s nearly useless schools don’t teach little things like rhyme, meter and the basics of verse, but if you don’t know how to do something competently, don’t do it. Is this supposed to be a Dr. Seuss parody? I can’t tell, and the first rule of parodies is that they must clearly be parodies. Dr. Seuss has famous style and meter, and this whatever it is doesn’t match it. The problem is that people who author embarrassing junk like this don’t know they are incompetent. They think everyone will think they are clever, but anyone who regard something like this—that presents “forget” and “respect”as rhymes, for example— is clever is illiterate.

2. It takes one to know one. On ABC’s “This Week,” yesterday, former NJ Governor and once-rising GOP star Chris Christie correctly characterized the Democratic attacks on the Georgia voting reform law. “It expands early voting, George, and the president said it ended it. Listen, here’s what Joe Biden’s got to live with when he wakes up this morning on Easter morning. He is doing exactly what he sat around in the campaign and the transition and accused Donald Trump of doing,” Christie said. “He is lying to cause racial divisions in this country. That’s what he accused Donald Trump of doing, and he’s a liar and a hypocrite.”

Yes he is, but who cares what Chris Christie thinks? He’s also a liar and a hypocrite; he has no followers outside of his family, and he sold his integrity to grease Donald Trump’s route to the Republican nomination. This is another example of the unethical media practice of choosing a revolting advocate for the position a news organization wants to discredit. It’s Cognitive Dissonance Scale manipulation 101: make sure the “authority” opposing the dishonest Democratic talking point is widely regarded as toxic jerk.

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Blogging Ethics: Althouse Snaps!

I’d say, all things considered, Ann Althouse runs my favorite blog. The former University of Wisconsin law prof who insists that she is “fiercely” non-partisan has a much broader range of topics on her eponymous site, many of them quirky, but she shadows ethics and legal ethics related stories that are Ethics Alarms fodder, and her commenters have become very similar in perspective to the commenters here. Her reactions to the Trump years and the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck were usually very similar to mine, so obviously she is fair, objective, and perceptive. I keep sending links her way even though she resolutely refused to give Ethics Alarms a link before she eliminated links entirely, and it appears her weird obsession with drawing cartoon rats has finally abated.

But this morning, the blogger announced that she was unhappy with her readers’ comments, which she lightly moderates, and ran a poll to get feedback as she apparently considers eliminating them altogether. I don’t know what Ann dings, but the comments I see only includes a few that Ethics Alarms wouldn’t post. The vast majority of readers polled voted for either her current moderation standards to remains as they are, or for her to moderate everything but block very little. (I voted with 14% for “Comments must go through moderation, and Althouse selects the most readable for publication.” None of the choices mirrored my approach, which is to moderate initial comments strictly and give leeway to veteran commenters while suspending or banning those who violate the Comment Policies.

Althouse is apparently upset with commenter criticism. In response to the comments on her poll, she responded in a series of comments (Althouse, unlike me, seldom enters the commenting ranks on her own posts):

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Unethical Tweet Of The Week: Matt Zoller Seitz, With An Assist From Ann Althouse, Sliming Principled Whistleblowers

Stoller tweet

Let me preface this commentary with some disjointed points:

  • When tweets are involved, I should probably call this category “Unethical Tweet Of The Hour.” Minute, even.
  • Matt Zoller Seitz is a hard-left critic and screenwriter who sometimes opines for the proudly Left-Lunatic “Daily Kos.”
  • Ann Althouse’s reaction to this—she gets the EA Pointer for finding the tweet—puts me in mind of Captain Von Trapp’s rebuke to his friend, the venal and principle-free theatrical producer Max, in “The Sound of Music” film when Max tries to rationalize the Anschluss by noting that it was “peaceful”: “You know, Max. . . . . .sometimes I don’t believe I know you.”
  • She also professed ignorance at the tweet’s reference to “the Bruenigs.” See the note immediately above: it took me ten seconds to check the reference, longer than it must have taken Ann to write that she didn’t understand it. Matt Bruenig is a Socialist pundit, and Elizabeth Bruenig is a former columnist at the Washington Post of similar ideological sympathies, now with the New York Times. The Bruenigs have a podcast called “The Bruenigs.”
  • The “tweets” Althouse refers to relates to a re-tweeter of the Seitz tweet who added this shot from a film I couldn’t identify:

Preppy assholes

Sietz is scummily implying that criticizing the now obvious turn by the American Left to totalitarian-style speech suppression and the mainstream news media’s complicity in the process is the equivalent of Fifties-style, white prep school  conservatism mocked in films like “Auntie Mame,” Animal House,” and “Trading Places.” In fact, Greenwald, Sullivan, Yglesias and, though unsmeared here, Matt Taibbi are all left-leaning journalists or pundits of long standing who have had the integrity to break with their biased and unethical employers to blow necessary whistles on their former colleagues, as mainstream journalism has abandoned any pretense of doing its job while following its own ethics rules.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/12/21: Happy Birthday, Abe!

Lincoln film

Abraham Lincoln, born on this date in 1809, has had a bad year. The Republic he struggled…and died…to save has seen its core values under attack, and for the first time since he was alive, there is reason to fear its existence as a beacon of individual liberty for the world. Statues that honored his brilliant tenure as leader of the nation when it was challenged by a multiple crises have been torn down or removed by mobs and fools. Last week, The New Yorker ran an interview with San Francisco school board President Gabriela López, the former teacher behind the recent decision by the body to remove the names of Founders and Presidents, including our two greatest, George and Abe, from schools because they had not completely absorbed 2ist century understanding of racial equality in the 18th and 19th Centuries respectively. Lincoln is “not someone I see as a hero,” this head-explodingly stupid and ignorant woman said. Meanwhile, the NeverTrump political organization that bears Lincoln’s name is in the midst of a scandal that raises questions about the group’s own values and trustworthiness. When I was a child, Lincoln’s birthday was a holiday, but government bureaucrats decided that two holidays honoring the birthdays of the Presidents most responsible for the nation’s character and existence was too much, so Abe’s day was folded in to George’s, while both of their names were stripped away. Thus, rather than honoring Lincoln today, we honor Millard Fillmore on February 22. The “This Day in History” page I see most mornings has Abe’s birth listed 12th, after the death of…Sal Mineo. #1 is the founding of the NAACP, which deliberately chose Lincoln’s birthday for the landmark. The average student in the United States, including college students, can’t tell you much of anything about Lincoln’s life or character. The ignorance, ingratitude and lack of perspective is staggering.

1. “Nothing to see here! Move along!” The Georgia State Election Board voted unanimously this week to investigate U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock for his role, as board chairman of a voter registration organization founded by Stacey Abrams, in permitting the group to submit some 1,268 voter applications that did not comply with the law. Warnock’s election last month tilted control of the U.S. Senate to the Democrats.

2. Nauseating grovel of the week: Rachael Kirkconnell is a contestant on “The Bachelor,” competing for the heart of Matt James, the first black “Bachelor” in the fatuous reality show’s history, which would make them the first mixed race couple on that show. Which is weird, since according to TV, about 80% of American couples are mixed race. Anyway, the social media mob went looking for something, anything, they could find to cancel Racheal, and the best they could come up with is that she attended an Old South-themed fraternity party three years ago—you know, big Scarlet O’Hara dresses, beaus in tails. The Horror. Racheal’s “Manchurian Candidate”-style apology:

At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them. My age or when it happened doesn’t excuse anything,” she said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “There are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist. I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended…

Then the 24-year-old said she was ashamed”of her lack of education. Like saying “I am sorry to,” perhaps? She also encouraged others to use this as a “teachable moment” to prevent someone else from making the same mistake. You know, teachable: like intimidating and punishing anyone who doesn’t bow down to critical race theory and white guilt. “Racial progress and unity are impossible without (white) accountability, and I deserve to be held accountable for my actions,” she said

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