“ARRGH!” [Translation: “Here Are Some Oct. 1 Ethics Notes Before I Snap After A Horrible Day!’]

And, to make the day perfect, WordPress is forcing me to use its damn new “block” system, which I do not have the time of patience to fool with. In the immortal words of Basil Fawlty,

1. JAMA says that it’s important to help people with dementia vote.

Nearly 6 million people in the US have some form of the condition, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, and they represent almost 2.5% of the 253.8 million US residents who are of voting age. The oldest voters, those aged 60 years or older, are more likely to vote than younger age groups, according to the United States Elections Project; the lion’s share of people with dementia fall into that demographic….having dementia doesn’t revoke a person’s fundamental right to cast a ballot.

“Alzheimer’s disease is progressive, and it evolves over many years. A person in the early stages, and even into the more moderate stages, still has the capacity to vote,” Beth Kallmyer, MSW, vice president of care and support for the Alzheimer Association, said in an interview.

They may have the capacity, but it unethical for them to exploit that capacity if their cognitive functions are impaired. Anyone with diagnosed dementia should voluntarily decline to vote. Such individuals are, of course, invitations for voter manipulation and fraud.

It should go without saying that it is also unethical to run for office when one is suffering from dementia,

2. I don’t understand this at all. The Commission on Presidential Debates has chosen Steve Scully, C-SPAN political editor and host of the network’s “Washington Journal” call-in program, to moderate the second presidential debate on October 15 in Miami. The puzzling part: When he was in college, Scully worked as an intern for  Joe Biden in the Senate. Later, he was  as a staff assistant in the late  Sen. Ted Kennedy’s communications office.

The background doesn’t mean Scully is necessarily biased, but how hard can if be to identify a qualified moderator who has no ties at all to either candidate? Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/26/2020: Having Flashbacks To When Saturdays Were Fun

That’s the late, great, Vito Scotti as “Pasta.” He played Italians in drama, comedies, stage plays, movies and TV shows, but he also played Mexicans and other ethicities  when required.  Was he in “The Godfather”? Of course he was. “Columbo”? Sure. Did he drop in on “Gilligan’s Island,” “I Love Lucy,” and “The Addams Family.” Absolutely. He was on “Batman” twice as one of The Penguin’s henchmen.

And he really was a professional caliber chef. “Andy’s Gang,” meanwhile, was completely chaotic, just as kids like it. No educational value, no political indoctrination, just lots of running jokes and nonsense.

Sublime.

I had a rubber “Froggie the Gremlin” bath toy. “Twang your magic twanger” was a catch phrase for years after “Andy’s Gang” went of the air.

1. Professional incompetence. One almost certain casualty of the lock-down will be live theater, in part because the people who run it, on average, just aren’t very smart. I have been reading about how New York theaters are or will be streaming plays. Morons.

Theater that isn’t shown in a  theater with people sharing the experience isn’t theater, it’s crude TV. The problem has always been to get people into a  theater to experience what is so dynamic and unique about a live performance. If the theater community promotes video versions of theatrical performances as a viable substitute, and that’s exactly what it’s doing, they have surrendered.

Well, at least we’ve probably seen the end of $500 Broadway tickets.

2. Maybe they’ll appreciate Citizens United now. Showtime is featuring an anti-Trump screed disguised as a movie called “The Comey Rule.” I wonder if those who, like all the Democratic candidates for President during the primaries that played to the crowd by promising to get the Citizens United case reversed (as if they could), understand its significance. They condemned the SCOTUS ruling upholding the First Amendment, and  Showtime’s bit of campaign agitprop is exactly what the overturned campaign contribution law would have allowed the government to ban.

Since the film at the center of the original case, however, was a conservative attack on Hilary Clinton, Democrats were (are?) all for censorship. Continue reading

Noonish Ethics Quickies, 9/23/2020: Still More Weird Tales Of The Trump Deranged!

1. Senator Murkowski has the integrity of a shack made of cream cheese. She thought she could get cheap virtue signaling points by announcing that she would refuse to vote to confirm President Trump’s nomination to fill the SCOTUS vacancy, but now that it looks like her stand will be futile, she says she might vote to confirm after all. Throughout her nepotism-built career, Murkowski has repeatedly demonstrated that if you don’t like what she advocates, wait a minute. She’s untrustworthy, and the fact that Alaskans keep re-electing someone like her strongly suggests that they just don’t give a damn.

2.  A good friend just wrote on Facebook that 200,000 Americans would still be alive if Donald Trump wasn’t President. He really wrote this, and there was no joke attached. He cannot possibly believe that. What was he doing? Sucking up to his many Trump Deranged friends? Having a stroke? I was temped to respond, but decided to let it go. The post was embarrassing: even the average Trump Deranged citizen who now has the IQ of a winter squash could tell THAT claim is nonsense.

The social media narrative, echoed by the news media and Democrats, that somehow the deaths from the pandemic in the U.S. would be fewer, or far fewer, if only President Trump had “followed the science” and done something different that no one can quite identify, is , in my assessment, signature significance for either a fool or a liar. Every other day I mark a shift in the “scientific” consensus or some new theory, because the health community still doesn’t understand what it is dealing with.  The New York Times, simultaneously with pushing the “blood on his hands” Big Lie (that’s #9, if you’ve lost count), regularly includes items that contradict the narrative. On August 24, for example, it noted in a column in the Business Section–nicely buried!— that the CDC didn’t advocate wearing masks until April, after saying in January that wearing masks wasn’t necessary.

If Americans allow this ongoing and self-evident lie to influence their vote in November, they are as incompetent as the idiots, if there were any, who voted against Hillary Clinton because they believed that she was operating a child sex trafficking operation out of a D.C. pizza joint. Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/2020: Welcome To The No Nervous Breakdown Zone!

Apropos to this morning’s post: I just read a thread on Facebook entirely populated by people I knew, some of whom have defriended me. They are mostly lawyers, and after reading what was written, I could only comment that their conversation was deranged. I didn’t feel like arguing with people who could really write that if the Democrats didn’t win in November, Americans would lose their civil rights (when it is the ideological compatriots of these individuals who are stripping away the rights of free speech and association, championing race-based policies, and condemning the President for insisting that universities observe due process when a student is accused of sexual misconduct. How can they write that? What happened to them? Then there was the section of the thread in which they discussed that the President was certain to refuse to leave office if he is defeated, and my personal favorite, the assertion that those defending Kyle Rittenhouse are racists.

These are lawyers. They were taught about the requirement that every individual has a right to a fair trial, which means that he or she must not be pronounced guilty in the court of public opinion before all the facts are known, and proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They should know, as I do, D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 (b), which says, “A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social, or moral views or activities.” Moreover, it is very likely that Rittenhouse, if he is ever tried, will be found not guilty. Did these deranged lawyer watch the video? I hope not, or they have really lost it. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, and appears to be in the process of being railroaded by a racially biased justice system in Wisconsin, driven by the media and uninformed public opinion. I’ve seen the video. I’ve also been a prosecutor. I would not charge him, just as would not charge the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. I’ve also been a defense attorney, and  I would take on Rittenhouse’s defense confident that I had a winning case.

I also was struck by the snide comment about those who object to “Black Lives Matter” signs being obvious racists. I flagged that group as being a racist hate group when it first raised its ugly, divisive head, and damn right I object to seeing signs extolling a group responsible for riots, arson, and terrorizing diners in D.C. by demanding that they raise their fists.

Finally, these formerly rational professionals—who were once even as you or I! —-had the gall to talk about how Republicans and conservatives were promoting violence and a civil war. Yes, the end of the spectrum that includes the antifa, the rioters, and a party that has worked for four years to undermine our democratic processes, is really accusing others of seeking division and violence. This warrants FOUR standard Ethics alarms clips: This one,

…this one, of course,

…I have to use this one, though these people one were not morons…

And finally,

Get well quick, friends. Please. Continue reading

Labored Ethics, 9/4/2020: Insanity, Desperation…And Poll Answers!

Happy Labor Day Weekend,

for those of you who don’t run your own business and will be working the whole time, because ethics never rests…

1. I guess it’s nice that Shaun King and Rachel Dolezal have another friend, but…I really don’t care about Jessica Krug, the suddenly “trending” professor and PhD who has, she now says, been pretending to be black her whole professional life, though she is a white, Jewish woman. According to George Washington University, she is an associate professor  and  a historian of politics, ideas, and cultural practices in Africa and the African Diaspora, with a particular interest in West Central Africa and maroon societies in the early modern period and Black transnational cultural studies.”

So either she’s a calculating con artist, like Elizabeth Warren, or she’s a nut. Either way, what she says now can’t be trusted, and beyond a a voyeuristic fascination with lunatics or the sight of someone engaged in extravagant self-flagellation ( “I am a coward. There is no ignorance, no innocence, nothing to claim, nothing to defend. I have moved wrong in every way for years….”), a can’t imagine any sock drawer more worth my time than reading about or thinking about this fraud.

We shall see if the next step is a book (“Fake Black Like Me”), a movie, or a series of interviews on NPR.

Meanwhile, it has been more than 24 hours since her confession was posted, and I assume—but who knows with a cheat or a lunatic?_-she gave her employer a heads up. Whether she did or not, she should have been fired by now. Why hasn’t she been?

2. The desperation continues. As the mainstream media and their political favorites finally admit that President Trump is increasingly likely to win in November, the signs of desperation and panic become palpable. A few days ago the rumor was that the President had three strokes, amazingly without anyone seeming to notice or leak to the news media. Who do they think he is, Grover Cleveland? It was ridiculous, and a Big Lie, but Trump felt he had to deny it (he did a good job, actually, with a funny tweet) , which is what Big Lies are supposed to make you do. He should not have. There will be rumors like this treated by the news media as genuine right up to the election. I predict there will be several that the New York Times runs front page stories about immediately, unlike, for example, the way it treated the still plausible accusation against Joe Biden of sexually assaulting a staffer. 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

Monday Ethics Nightcap, 6/29/2020: Fake Blackface, Fake News, Mississippi Stalling [#3 UPDATED ]

Good night!

1. Well, there’s blackface, then there’s dark make-up, then there’s stuff that idiots might think is blackface, as well as what someone may get offended over because they think it’s kind of like blackface—oh, what the hell, let’s ban it all. In a 1988 episode of “The Golden Girls,”  Dorothy’ son, Michael, who is white like his mother (played by the imposing, also white, Bea Arthur) is planning on marrying Lorraine, a much older black woman. Dorothy objects to the love birds’ age difference while Lorraine’s mother disapproves of Michael’s race, saying, “No daughter of mine is marrying some skinny white boy.” Then flighty  Rose (Betty White) and sex-obsessed Blanche (Rue McClanahan) interrupt the potential in-laws show-down by walking into the room wearing their mud facial masks.

Rose stammers: “This is mud on our faces; we’re not really black!”

“The Golden Girls” was a consistently liberal-tilting show, and the episode was obviously making fun of racial sensitivities. Never mind. Hulu has pulled it.
Continue reading

Nah, I’m Not Getting Royally Sick Of Writing “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!”!

Imagine how much we would benefit as a nation from knowing that news organizations were telling us about real events and conveying objective facts without concern about who or what they might hurt or benefit.

That doesn’t quite fit the music of John Lennon’s fatuous song, but it’s a much more useful hypothetical to consider than “Imagine there’s no countries.”

Yesterday, a thoroughly Trump-Deranged relative who is otherwise reasonable, informed and perceptive, was telling me that one reason he was convinced President Trump had mishandled the current virus threat is that “he doesn’t read his briefings.” This is a press-driven trope, as I tried to explain, and like so much fake news, designed to undermine trust by people who are ignorant. My relative isn’t ignorant. He just wants to believe what he already had decided before the election; it’s confirmation bias.

I pointed out that 1) the briefings smear came from unidentified leaks in the Administration, from those who by definition were attempting to damage the President. 2) The sources have been anonymous, and of the same level of trustworthiness that led to so many false reports and headlines during the Russian collusion investigations. 3) A lot of people, including very successful executives, process information better aurally than visually. I worked for one. Reading was hard for him; he was dyslexic. I would send him a long, detailed memo on an issue, and he would call me into his office, hand the memo back, and say, “Tell me what it says—the important stuff.” He was, by furlongs, the best manager I ever worked under. My relative, a lawyer and a manager himself, gets all of his information from reading (and based on our arguments, isn’t all that hot at processing it aurally.)

He also believes what he’s told by his fellow Deranged, and they told him yesterday that  the Washington Post had reported , in a story titled, “President’s intelligence briefing book repeatedly cited virus threat,”  that…

U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat, according to current and former U.S. officials.The repeated warnings were conveyed in issues of the President’s Daily Brief, a sensitive report that is produced before dawn each day and designed to call the president’s attention to the most significant global developments and security threats.
For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus’s spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion’s transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.

No sources were given, just “sources”—you know, like those sources during the Mueller investigation. A month ago, the same Post reporters submitted  virtually the same basic story, headlined  “U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic.” It was also essentially the same story the New York Times had run earlier, “He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus,” and that ABC ran around the same time, “Intelligence report warned of coronavirus crisis as early as November: Sources.

You know: “sources.” Those “sources” were immediately debunked by none other than the Director of DIA’s National Center for Medical Intelligence , who sent this out: Continue reading

The Dumb Ad-lib/Malicious Reporting/Confirmation Bias/Big Lie Cycle, ‘Inject Disinfectant’ And ‘Shine Light In The Body’Chapter

Boy, am I ever sick of these stories.

The pattern is so familiar its completely familiar and would be boring if it weren’t so annoying. President Trump ad-libs something that popped into his head, using his unique stream of consciousness/if James Joyce had a 1000 word vocabulary version of communication. The news media rushes to interpret it in the most negative way possible, and reports that as what he both said and meant. Democrats, “the resistance” and especially social media addicts who barely have vocabularies over 1000 words themselves rush to say and write that the President is a Nazi, or racist, or moron, based on the deliberately misleading reports by people starting from the assumption that he is all three….the essence of confirmation bias.

Then people like me, being  reasonable, public spirited and unbiased,  point out that this is not a fair interpretation of what he said, whereupon such people are attacked as enablers of Nazis, racists and fools. Even after the original report is shown to be malicious fake news or close to it (my position is that if it’s almost fake news, it’s fake news), politicians, and unscrupulous pundits like Joe Scarborough, and your Trump Deranged friends and mine continue to repeat them. The President said that the white supremacists were “good people.” He said that Mexicans were rapists.  He said the Wuhan virus was a hoax. Now, thanks to yesterday’s blather, they will be saying that he told people to “inject” or drink bleach and disinfectant as a cure for the virus. Continue reading

Pandemic Ethics Overflow, Including The Funniest Story So Far [Updated]

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