Nice Try, Charley…But You Still Struck Out

I usually skip the New York Times Sunday Review section now. By mid-2017, it had become so partisan and such a nest of rabid Trump Derangement that it was not unusual for 75% of the content to consist of anti-Trump screeds. I finally got bored with it; the stuff was predictable and too often completely bats. If I read it at all, I did so to check how fanatically the Times was supporting the various coup efforts.

Charlie Warzel is one of the less hateful of the Times op-ed writers, though based on his Ethics Alarms file he is also one of most juvenile. He was the author of a New York Times editorial  titled “Open States, Lots of Guns. America Is Paying a Heavy Price for Freedom,” or in my print edition, “Will We Get Used To The Dying?” that I had fun shredding—it wasn’t hardhere. I was curious to see if he’s gotten any better since May in his Wuhan virus hysteria. His title seemed promising:  “How to Actually Talk to Anti-Maskers: You cannot force public trust; you have to earn it.”

I think “anti-maskers” are jerks. It is still unclear to me how much good masks do, and the information from the “experts” has been inconsistent. I still see no reason to wear the things outside when nobody is going to come within ten feet of you, and I don’t. However, the ethical reasons to wear them are still valid:

  • They might make a difference.
  • Wearing them demonstrates good will and that one is trying to be responsible.
  • It places those at enhanced risk at ease.
  • It can’t hurt. The recent claim of Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) that his mask probably infected him was spectacularly dishonest and irresponsible, but you know, that’s Louie.

I also regard fanatic pro-mask hysterics as ridiculous and will say so when pressed.

However, I was interested to see if Charlie, having gotten himself on the Ethics Alarms Naughty List with his previous screed about the pandemic, would redeem himself. For writing op-eds is all about trust too: if I know you shade the facts, omit relevant information, engage in bias and cheat in your logic, I really don’t care what your opinion is. It’s not worth reading.

Charlie begins with an anecdote about how health officials gained the trust of the public in Senegal during an Ebola outbreak. OK—as long as the idea is to make a point about trust. Ebola isn’t the Wuhan virus, and the United States’ culture isn’t remotely like Senegal’s. Then he writes,

Taiwan is welcoming baseball fans back into stadiums. As of June, more than 20 other countries have begun the process of bringing children back to school. Thailand, a country of 70 million, hasn’t had an instance of local coronavirus transmission in seven weeks, as of last Thursday. And yet Americans are staring down nearly 150,000 virus deaths while governors and health officials pleading with citizens to wear masks are starting to sound like substitute teachers who’ve lost control of the classroom.

One indicator of how bad things are: Last week, Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious-disease doctor, felt compelled to reassure his audience during an online talk, “You can trust respected medical authorities.” He added, “I believe I’m one of them, so I think you can trust me.”

Ah! So Charlie trusts Dr. Fauci on the topic of masks., and thinks we should to. And my immediate reaction to this is.. Continue reading

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: #9 “Trump’s Mishandling Of The Pandemic Killed People”

 

Instapundit has a running “Jaws”-evoking gag, jointly favored by contributors Stephen Green and Ed Driscoll,  when they are introducing posts that highlight certain outrages. For example, the link to an article titled “Five Times Obama Abused His Power and Democrats Didn’t Care”  was introduced with their catch phrase,“You’re gonna need a bigger blog.” That would be an appropriate introduction for the latest addition to the Ethics Alarms list of the Big Lies launched in the ongoing effort to undermine Donald Trump.

[The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory has been updated, and can be found here.]

This one, the ninth (it replaces the previous #9, which is now subsumed in this one), is made up of hundreds, maybe thousands of smaller lies, fake news and deliberate misinformation, along with the now familiar sneering innuendos in virtually every report on the Administration’s efforts to respond to an ongoing health crisis.

The Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream media collective got overambitious with this one. It is simultaneously attempting to blame Trump for the Wuhan virus and the economic collapse that was the direct result of measures they claim he undertook too late. Meanwhile, they are advocating continuing damage to the economy in response to the virus now, while fearmongering about its risks. The internal hypocrisy and contradictions inherent in this is too obvious even for dimmer citizens to miss.

Big Lie #9 can stand as one of the most flagrant examples of unrestrained hindsight bias in world history. Leaders often have to act without perfect or even adequate information ; this was–is— especially the case with the pandemic. Even now, not enough is known about the virus, which may also have multiple strains and mutations. Whether any measures put in place by decision-makers are “good” decisions can only be judged by what is known at the time they are made;  to do otherwise is consequentialism, which is unfortunatley how most people think, but which is, upon reflection, moronic. Stupid decisions that work, they reason, are smart; well-considered decisions that don’t are incompetent. President Trump’s enemies are counting on this non-logic to carry the Democrats  to victory in November. It is a cynical and dangerous strategy, because it relies on undermining trust in the nation’s leadership.

The fact is that there may have been nothing President Trump could have done to make the effects of the virus any less devastating than they have been. Health organizations have been wrong; his experts have been wrong, China engaged in a deadly cover-up. One particularly hypocritical theme, which has also been employed as criticism in the wake of the George Floyd riots, is that President Trump has failed the test of leadership, that unlike President Roosevelt in his eloquent messages about the Depression and after Pearl Harbor, this President was unable to rally the nation through a crisis.

This criticism makes me particularly angry. Trump is no FDR, but the entire effort by the “resistance” and the news media since the President’s election has been to destroy his ability to be a bipartisan leader. They have withheld the respect for the office that all Presidents need to function effectively, and that all elected Presidents before this one were accorded as a matter of institutional tradition. They removed that crucial tool in their relentless efforts to destroy him, and now they denigrate him for not using it. The hypocrisy is loathsome.

One mistake Trump made, a typical one for him, was to say, early on, that he was not “responsible” for the outbreak. This is yet another example of how the President’s clumsiness in his rhetoric undermines his effectiveness and hands his foes metaphorical clubs to beat him with. He apparently thinks responsibility is synonymous with blame. It is not. Leaders are responsible for what occurs while they are in power. They are not, however, necessarily at fault. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn)

“The reason that we’re in the crisis that we are today is not because of anything that China did,  it’s not because of what the WHO did, it’s because of what the President did. He didn’t take this virus seriously. We weren’t going to be able to keep every case out of United States, but we didn’t need tens of thousands this of people dying.”

—Senator Murphy, in an appearance with CNN’s Anderson Cooper

The Democrats have decided, I presume in a conference call or something, that their best chance at winning the fall elections is to accuse Donald Trump of killing people. For an opposing party, indeed for any responsible citizen, to deliberately try to undermine trust in a President during a national emergency is unprecedented and irresponsible, as well as dangerous.This is what the Democrats have come to.

The statement was made in the midst of  comments in response to Cooper’s question, “You believe that the president made mistakes that ended up costing lives?” Maybe Murphy does believe that; like the rest of the “resistance” and his party, it is beneficial for him to believe that, so confirmation bias applies. Nonetheless, whatever he believes, the belief is unprovable, and as the death toll from the Wuhan virus appears to be falling not just short, but dramatically short of the models and “expert” projections, the accusation is transparently desperate. 80,000 Americans died of the good, old-fashioned flu virus in the winter of 2017. The estimates now for the Wuhan virus, more deadly, more easily transmitted with no vaccine or proven treatment, are as low as 100,000. It is obvious that the position of the Axis of Unethical Conduct (AUC),that is the Democrats, the “resistance” and the news media, is that whatever happens, it would have been better if Trump did something different than he did. The question is only how many Americans are either so hateful or so gullible that they will accept that.

“Absolutely,” Murphy replied to Anderson. “The fact that we didn’t start buying up medical supplies, masks, gowns, face shields early on, when we were begging for that funding in early February. The fact that the president didn’t put in place an effective plan to develop new tests. The fact that he didn’t work with governors and mayors to push social distancing measures earlier has cost lives.”

Earlier! Sooner! Continue reading