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

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

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: #8 “Trump Only Cares About Himself, Not The Country”

When I combined the seven previous “Big Lies of the Resistance” posts I though I had collected them all. What a mistake. Not only had I complied an incomplete list, I had managed to miss the most egregious, unfair and, for the impeachment effort, the most useful Big Lie of all. I’m sorry. It’s time to remedy my error.

I’ve been feeling the need to add Chapter 8 to the Big Lie record since the midst of the Democrats’  ostentatiously unfounded impeachment claims over the President’s dealings with the Ukraine. Their entire argument was built on an assumption: President Trump sought further information regarding the suspicious activities of Joe and Hunter Biden while the elder Biden was Vice-President and the younger was somehow pulling down big bucks from a Ukrainian corporation only to “find dirt” on his likely opponent in the Presidential election. This description was repeated over and over again by the news media, like a mantra or a hypnotic suggestion. Hearing it so often and repeated with such certitude, one might almost forget that the President of the United States has a legitimate purpose in finding out whether a high elected official in the previous administration was influence peddling, sacrificing the interests of the nation for a wayward son.

The President’s attackers and those who have been searching for a way to remove him without having to prevail at the ballot box have framed the controversy as if there was no reason on earth to suspect Joe Biden of wrongdoing–after all, he’s a patriot—so Trump’s waving a Congressional aid package as a carrot that could turn into a stick was an attempt to “interfere with the election.”

The funny part is that there was never any evidence that this was Trump’s motive. It was assumed that this was Trump’s motive because “everyone” knows he’s a bad guy.

We heard this during the Russian conspiracy investigation constantly: Trump “colluded” with the Russians because of course he did—he’s that kind of guy. The Trump haters who slowly devolved into the Trump Deranged came to regard the President’s character as one and the same as guilt of the dastardly acts they attributed to him. This is called, I remind you, bias. Bigotry. Prejudice…the intellectually indefensible assumption that someone is guilty of unethical acts because of who and what they are, rather than what we know they did. Continue reading

Ten Ethics Observations On The President’s 2020 State Of The Union Message

The text of the speech is here.

1. As I mentioned at the end of the previous post, my professional assessment, as a speech coach and a stage director, is that Trump’s delivery–timing, pacing, energy, focus, expressiveness, emphasis, technique–was excellent. Like other politicians (and me, frankly) the President is best, most relaxed, most persuasive and likable, when he is speaking extemporaneously. This time, though the speech was obviously scripted, he delivered it like his more familiar riffs.

And he has improved over his term in office. So many POTUSes have not.

2. As for content, I saw the speech described as “Reaganesque.” That’s high praise, but not far off. There were no ringing catch phrases, but the most important feature was that the speech was positive, optimistic, and upbeat. This was especially remarkable because many expected the President to be combative and defiant, and to directly address his impeachment. Not doing so was wise, and indeed ethical. Living well is the best revenge, and the President’s recitation of his administration’s achievements, no matter how the factcheckers spin them—it’s Trump, so we assume hyperbole—was a virtuoso dismantling of Big Lie #5: “Everything is Terrible.”

It’s not terrible, of course, far from it, and the false narratives constantly repeated by the Democratic candidates about how the middle and lower classes weren’t benefiting  were belied by Trump’s statistics asNancy Pelosi stared.

3. The repeat stunt of having all the female members of Congress on the Democratic  side wear white  was juvenile, incoherent and dehumanizing. I was reminded of the sperms in Woody Allen’s “Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask.” Whatever their chant was, it didn’t work. The President deserves ethics points for specifically condemning late term abortion in front of this group, and featuring a little girl born at 23 weeks was a powerful visual aid.

Most Americans do not approve of late term abortions, and the device of making Democrats explicitly show their disapproval of Trump’s vow to stop it exposes a gaping ethics black hole on the Left.

4. At times I wish Ronald Reagan had never introduced the manipulative technique of using guests in the audience for applause and heart-rending moments, but I have to admit President Trump used it like no one before him, shamelessly but effectively.  I just hope nobody tries to top it, because that was my limit, and perhaps a bit over.

There was the African-American boy who wants to join the Space Force, and his 100 year-old Tuskegee airman great-grandfather, in uniform, having just been promoted to  general by Trump. There was the young African American girl who had been denied her application for a tax credit scholarship to attend a private school in Philadelphia because the state’s Democratic governor had vetoed a funding bill. The President told her she would get her scholarship after all, as she and her mother beamed. There was the new President of Venezuala, symbolizing a capitalist rescuer for a nation wrecked by socialism. Rush Limbaugh, recently diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, appeared genuinely overcome when Mrs. Trump awarded him the Medal of Freedom on the spot. Also on the spot was a surprise reunion between a military wife and her soldier husband, back from deployment.

Great drama, great sentimentality, great showmanship. It was a combination of Oprah, Maury, and “Queen for a Day,” but schmaltz works, and the President proved himself a master of it.

5. Pelosi’s guests included Fred Guttenberg, the father of a high school freshman killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He got himself removed from the audience by shouting something about his daughter as the President pledged to preserve the Second Amendment. Using the victim of tragedies as political props is an objectionable stunt (Trump did this too, with Kelli Hake and her son;  Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake, was killed  in Iraq, a victim of the late Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani. Another guest was the brother of Rocky Jones, the victim of an illegal immigrant in Tulare County, California, and the parents of an ISIS victim, but Trump’s guests didn’t disrupt the event. They had also lost loved ones to bad people, just like Guttenberg, but do not advocate taking away law-abiding people’s rights in their grief. Continue reading

Urgent Notice Of Correction: Chuck Schumer’s Apparently Non-Existent “Unethical Quote Of The Century,” And My Abject Apology Because Bias Made Me Stupid

Last evening, I posted an Unethical Quote allegedly made by Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer that “Donald Trump’s impeachment acquittal will be meaningless because we never accepted the results of the 2016 election in the first place. Anyone who accepts an acquittal is a danger to our democracy.” I originally titled it the Unethical Quote of the Day, and later, as I read it again while responding to the predictable shocked comments, I upgraded the comment to Unethical Quote of the Century, a designation I was prepared to defend.

This morning, momentarily awake and planning to go back to sleep, I decided to check the Ethics Alarms comments, and saw this, from frequent commenter Here’s Johnny.

Re: Unethical quote:
I would think that, for the unethical quote of the century, I would be able to find a few references to it in the news media. My best Google search efforts have turned up reports from Ethics Alarms and The Sacramento Brie. The Brie does not appear to be a legitimate news site, and their reference to this quote appears to show a Fox News screen grab. Searching at Fox News did not turn up the quote. The quote does not appear in the Senate Democrats text of Schumer’s comments at the press conference where he supposedly made the comment.
So, what is going on here? Is there evidence that Schumer actually said what is in the quote? I could not find it.

This was disturbing. The post had no link, which is unusual, and I couldn’t tracj down where I got it from, though I believe the pointer came from a Trump Deranged friend on Facebook who quoted it approvingly. I’ve checked my browser history to no avail. After reading HJ’s comment, I listened to every YouTube clip I could find from Schumer yesterday. He made a number of disingenuous and hyperbolic statements about a trial with no witnesses not being a trial (The Clinton impeachment had no witnesses, and Democrats seemed to be happy with that), but nothing as outrageous as the alleged quote I posted.

Like Johnny, I cannot believe that if Schumer said something that irresponsible, it wouldn’t have been widely reported. Thus I am suspending the post pending verification, and as of this moment, assume that it was false. I also deleted the tweet that the blog generates for every post. I will continue to  look for the quote and the source, and to identify exactly how this happened.

To some extent I know the latter: the news media and other Democrats have been foaming at the mouth for days, and many of the quotes are no less head-exploding than Schumer’s, except that they were not made by the leader of the party in the Senate. Assuming that there was no such Schumer quote, I was bitten by fake news that triggered confirmation bias. I have written for years that the Democrats/”resistance”/ mainstream media alliance have denied the legitimacy of President Trump’s election, and that conclusion is objectively unavoidable. Though I was stunned to see Schumer say so out loud, it was not as if what the quote indicated was out of line with reality. The second part, about “the danger to democracy,” echoed many of the irresponsible statements made by Rep. Schiff and others during the House impeachment managers’ presentation, and similar rhetoric by pundits and other Democrats. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), for example, tweeted yesterday,

“The Senate’s abdication of responsibility to the rule of law represents a much deeper threat to our democracy, our institutions, and our republic. The GOP knows that its agenda is incompatible with democracy, so their larger project is to dismantle it.”

That statement is as inflammatory and absurd as the alleged Schumer tweet, but not as shocking because OAC is, after all, an idiot. Schumer, however, is not.

I cannot apologize sufficiently for this. My attention has been even more divided than usual this past week—that’s not an excuse, but a partial explanation—and I’ve been bouncing around two computers and two many news sources to count, and, apparently, keep proper track of. I should never post a story or commentary with out verified links to the source, and, frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t this time.

Facebook is unreliable; I know that. There were plenty of aspects of the quote that should have set off my own ethics alarms, but I let my emotions take over: the quote really infuriated me, because as I suggested by noting the Schumer was “playing with fire,” that kind of rhetoric—and there has been a lot of it— rips at the connective tissue that holds this republic together. However, publishing unverified inflammatory rhetoric is just as wrong as saying such things.

Readers here have to be able to trust me; an ethics blog without trust is like a—oh, you can make up your own metaphor, I’m too upset to be clever—and this time I failed their, your, trust by not following my own procedures, and apparently being fooled  because I didn’t heed my most important rule, to avoid bias making me stupid. I apologize to everyone reading this, everyone who passed along what appears to be Ethics Alarms fake news, and everyone who might have been misled by the fact that the invalid quote was passed along. I apologize to the commenters whose reactions are vanishing with the essay: I’m so sorry. I wasted your time. I also apologize to Senator Schumer.

I am going to have to do better, and I will.

I could say that I hope I can find that the quote was accurate after all, but I don’t. I am relieved that it appears to have been fabricated. I felt, when I read it, and foolishly believed it, that this was a tipping point, and a dangerous one.

Now, before I go back to bed and dream of self-flagellation,  I am going to add the portion of the banned post that I know was accurate, because it had value. Indeed, another reason I accepted the quote impulsively, I think, is that it gave me a pwoerful lead-in to content I had already written. That will teach me.

I hope.

Here’s the remaining section of the now zapped post, and one more time, I am so sorry: Continue reading

Verdict: Worst Candidates Debate Ever, Part III: “Oh, The Hypocrisy!”

OK, it’s not exactly on point, but this is my favorite meme, and I hadn’t used it this year….

The debate seems like old news now, I know, but I’m going to finish this ethics review if it kills me. There was valuable, if depressing, ethics revelations throughout.

A. No, really, the economy is terrible. Really. Trust us.

Let’s begin Part III with this exchange:

My question to you, Mr. Vice President, is what is your argument to the voter watching this debate tonight who may not like everything President Trump does but they really like this economy and they don’t know why they should make a change.

BIDEN: Well, I don’t think they really do like the economy. Go back and talk to the old neighborhoods and middle-class neighborhoods you grew up in. The middle class is getting killed. The middle class is getting crushed. And the working class has no way up as a consequence of that.

Well, which is it: is Biden lying here, or is he completely ignorant of what is going on?

The question is particularly timely now, after the Christmas season was a smash hit. So called “Super Saturday” had the most money spent by consumers ever. Amazon  had record-breaking holiday season drove its stock up 4.5% and helped lift the Nasdaq composite index above 9,000 for the first time ever. This doesn’t happen, Joe (Bernie, Liz) in an unpopular economy, and what’s not to like? Unemployment is the lowest it can go; wages are rising across the board. Black employment is up, jobs generally are up. It isn’t just the stock market. Obviously consumer confidence is high.

Do the Democrats really believe they can convince the public that the economy is bad by just lying over and over again, and saying it’s bad, like Biden did? Apparently. Buttigeig, Yang, Sanders, Steyer and Warren followed Biden claiming that the middle class—you know, all those people who spent that money on Christmas gifts, was “hollowed out” in Warren’s words. “[We should beat Trump] on the economy where he thinks he’s king and where, in fact, he’s a fraud and a failure,” said Steyer.

Because they know that good economies almost always re-elect Presidents, the Democratic candidates are adopting the Sanders-Warren, or Marx-Lenin, definition of what a “good economy” is. As Sanders keeps saying, the problem is income inequality: if there are people making a lot more than you, you should be miserable, and it’s time for a revolution.  This was the justification for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez saying last week that the U.S. was a fascist country. Her comments , noted John Daniel Davidon of the Federalist, were characteristic of what he called the Left’s “economic illiteracy” and their belief that some people don’t have money because others are simply hoarding wealth. He said,

“She complained about America not being an advanced society, because it doesn’t matter how much gold you amass, you know, if people aren’t taken care of. It was a perfect illustration of the the economic and historical illiteracy of the left. Nobody is amassing gold. GDP doesn’t stand for gold deposit pile. That’s not how the economy works…Wealthy Americans are investing [their money]. They are creating jobs. That is why wages are going up, that is why unemployment is down. That is how the real world works. These people are out to lunch on the stuff.”

And the candidates for President, based on their debate performance, desperately want to keep them “out to lunch” as well. Continue reading

Verdict: Worst Candidates Debate Ever, Part II: Everything Is Terrible!

  • The most publicized statement during the debate that has been described as horrifying by conservative pundits was this one, by Joe Biden, after he was asked, “As president, would you be willing to sacrifice some of that growth, even knowing potentially that it could displace thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of blue-collar workers, in the interest of transitioning to that greener economy?'”

Biden answered immediately, “The answer is yes.”

“Displace,” of course, is a euphemism for “put out of work.” The relative nonchalance with which Biden, who is supposed to be the practical, sensible candidate, immediately said he was willing to disrupt hundreds of thousands of middle class lives in order to “transition” to “that greener economy,” whatever that means, reveals Biden as a first-rate panderer. He has also endorsed the ridiculous “Green New Deal,” which also means nothing.

  • The climate chance section of the debate was an ethics trap for several of the candidates. Amy Klobuchar, who was generally praised for her performance, said,

“And the problem right now is that this climate change is an existential crisis. And you are seeing it here in California with the fires that you just had. You saw it in Northern California, as was mentioned with Paradise. And the most moving video from that to me was the 30-second video of that dad driving his little girl through the lapping fires with his neighborhood burning behind him and singing to her to calm her down.”

Every time one of the candidates uses doomsday rhetoric regarding climate change, he or she is laying the foundation for government control, and totalitarian measures. Rep. Octavio-Cortez’s political Svengali admitted as much, and had to be fired for his candor. A candidate who says climate change is an existential crisis and then follows that hysterical assessment  with stating that the California wildfires are proof has told us that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but is pretending she does. Then she pivots to a single “moving” video, as if it proves anything at all. Message: I’m talking to emotion-driven ignoramuses now. I’m betting there’s enough of them.

Then Amy kow-towed to the Green New Deal too, endorsing draconian regulations, including the mind0blowingly expensive “upgrading” of existing buildings. I did like the transcript’s typo that quoted her as wanting to build a “fridge to the next century.” Now there’s a solution for global warming. But I’m pretty sure she said “bridge.” Continue reading