Ethics Dunces: The Hypocritical Conservative Media

The  conservative media does itself and its cause no favors when it indulges in the same kind of warped and biased logic, as well as shameless appeals to emotion, that it–rightly–accuses the Left-leaning media of inflicting on the public.

This story is stunningly simple from an ethics perspective.  Walt Disney World has a rule that all visitors must wear masks at all times. A careless father who didn’t bother to do his research and preparation for a family trip to the theme park arrived to find that his 7-year-old daughter, who cannot wear a mask due to a disability, would not be allowed in. That was the correct call by Disney. It doesn’t matter whether the rule is excessive or extreme: this is a pandemic-related health  rule for the safety, peace of mind and security of Disney’s guests. If everyone doesn’t wear masks, then no one will regard the rule as fair or serious. There can’t be exceptions to such rules, especially, “Aw. just this once, after all, the kid has a disability and has really been looking forward to this” exceptions. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Mid-Day Ethics Stimulus, 3/31/2020: Dunces, Heroes, Hacks And More”

Veteran commenter Michael  Erjecito’s comment on another post about the pandemic included the line, “When this emergency ends, we will give back all powers, without exception.” Chris Marschner used that statement as his departure point in this Comment of the Day on a separate EA post, Item #4 under the title above, which involved Governor Ralph Northam’s “order” restricting the freedoms of  Virginians. Since I had started a post on the topic of draconian government restrictions that are Constitutionally questionable, I was grateful to see Chris had attacked it with his usual verve.

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Mid-Day Ethics Stimulus, 3/31/2020: Dunces, Heroes, Hacks And More”:

I am beginning to believe this event is a government dress rehearsal for a much more draconian event later on. One must test the limits of what the public is willing to endure from governmental decrees lest we see the people charging the statehouses with torches and pitchforks.

Ok, enough of my melodrama. But the quote above is indicative of the risk of a different type of loss well after this virus disappears.

I keep hearing that Trump ignores science or that he relies on hunches and not data to make quality decisions. Well at 8 pm yesterday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) issued the stay at home order or face fines of $5,000 and/or a year in jail. In that decree, there is absolutely no mention as to the scientific data that he used to trigger the order and thus there is no data to indicate when he would lift the order.

 There is also no specific data-driven rationale for a Stay At Home order when all types of recreational activities are allowed as long as they are in groups of 10 or fewer. How exactly does the data suggest that grocery stores filled with hundreds of people crowding the aisles will cause less of a problem than a non-essential service like a mom and pop jewelry store or a scuba shop that usually have fewer than 10 people in it any given time? Why is it that the data supports Home Depot and Walmart being allowed to sell non-essential goods because they are allowed to stay open because they offer other essential goods such as repair items, food, and medicine but a comic book bike shop or video-store must shutter its business?

My point is that for all the claims that decisions are data driven I would wager most decisions are driven by political calculus not necessarily on epidemiological considerations.

Furthermore, if we are to use data to drive decisions, that data must be understood by all in order to ensure that the people subject to the restrictions imposed will know if the government is abusing its governing powers. The terms of these orders should spell out specifically the triggers that cause regulatory restrictions and when those restrictions MUST be rescinded; these restrictions cannot be open ended and without definition.

The only data that we hear is the 2.2 million deaths that could have occurred had nothing been done, and Dr. Fauci’s equivocating statement that maybe as many as 200,000 might die – but don’t hold him to that—and, the ongoing death watch clocks prominently displayed on all the network news shows and web search engines. We never hear why this decision is made or why we are not doing something that some believe might be helpful. Tell me: are the anti-malarial drugs something to be considered as a treatment or a prophylaxes; neither or both? I suppose drugs are worthwhile and can be used off label with some effectiveness so long as they are not suggested by Donald Trump.

We cannot use infection growth rates as growth rates as a trigger because they may be much higher initially with low absolute numbers. Going from 10 cases to 30 cases an increase of 20 cases is a 300% increase but going from 100 cases to 120 cases is only a 20% increase. Then the issue is where are the cases occurring? Should a county with few infections be subject to the same restrictions as a highly populated hot spot?

I do wish the media would stop confusing the public by switching between growth rates, absolute numbers and per capita values. When the press states that on a per capita basis the US lags other nations in testing, that suggests we are not doing enough even if we have tested three times the amount of others. Growth rates don’t mean beans if you don’t have a basis from which to measure. Growth rates and absolute values must be used in tandem to make them meaningful.

Many in the media and some within our commentariat believe there has been an abysmal failure at the federal level to adequately plan for such a pandemic. NO, the Governors and legislatures of the respective states have been an abysmal failure at preparing for such an emergency. In my state, Maryland, we have the Office of Emergency Preparedness.  (https://preparedness.health.maryland.gov/Pages/About.aspx)

How prepared is Maryland Governor Hogan?

On the Resources page there is not one mention of the Covid-19 virus under infectious threats. We are still mentioning Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Ebola, and Zika but all is quiet on the Chinese Flu front.

Is the reference to MERS a bigoted and racist term? I did not consider the others to have racist connotations because how many Americans know Ebola is named after a river in the sub-Saharan Africa and the others after other places in Africa. Our governor seems to be at odds with his own departments. We are prepared for any eventuality according to our state team. They say so!

https://preparedness.health.maryland.gov/Pages/Resources.aspx:

IS THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH PREPARED? Yes! The Department of Health Office of Preparedness and Response prepares in a variety of ways:

• Maryland Influenza Plan and Pandemic Influenza Plan
• Pandemic influenza exercises for emergency personnel
• Partnering with local, state, federal, and private agencies to prepare for, prevent, and lessen the impact of a flu pandemic
• Maintaining a stockpile of antiviral medications and medical supplies ( WHERE ARE THEY?????)

From their web pages we find that their preparedness program is merely a funnel for federal funds.

The mission of the Hospital Preparedness Program is to support and enhance the ability of hospitals and health care systems to provide effective care and save lives during emergencies. The Office of Preparedness and Response receives annual federal funding to advance these goals and objectives. The Maryland Department of Health awards these funds in the form of grants to our health care system partners across the state (including hospitals, free-standing emergency departments, emergency medical services, community health centers, and home care and hospice agencies). Health care system partners utilize the Hospital Preparedness Program funds to enhance their ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies that pose a threat to the health and safety of the community. Continue reading

Stop Making Me Defend Joe Biden!

Once again, the accountability concept is eluding Democrats.

Joe Biden is many things, few of them admirable, though he has been bolstered by either gullible or complicit journalism for decades, He is not, however, responsible for the gruesome state of the current Democratic Presidential field, nor is it Joe’s fault that Democrats are facing the prospect another defeat at the hands of Donald Trump, this one worse than the first.

In the wake of the impending collapse of Biden’s campaign, accelerated by his embarrassing showing in New Hampshire, the memo has already gone out, it seems, recruiting pundits and others to blame Joe for the current mess.

Jonathan Chait has always been one of the less impressive progressive mouthpieces in the news media, with “think pieces” that seldom show much quality thought and advocacy skills that would fail a First Year law student moot court competition. Chait was in typical form, which is to say “poor,” with this essay  titled “Biden’s Campaign Was a Disaster For Liberalism and the Democratic Party,” which concludes,

Right. It’s Joe’s fault. The fact that the Democrats tossed away all the traditions of minimal cross- party comity and attempted a never-ending coup for President Trump’s entire term: that’s on Joe. The fact that three anti-Jewish, anti-American, far, far Left women prone to saying vulgar, stupid and bigoted things, handicapped by varied ethical problems have become prominent symbols of the Democratic Party: Biden’s fault. That the Dracula-like romance between disaffected members of the Left coalition and government dominance over the economy and personal liberties has once again risen from the dead…it’s that damn Biden again! The contrived impeachment was botched so badly that it made the President more popular rather then less? That’s Joe’s doing too. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Respite, 2/5/2020: On Accountability, Karma, Never-Trump And Mookie

What a delightful afternoon!

It never fails. After a stretch where I am especially pleased with the quantity and quality of Ethics Alarms content, I lose followers. Occasionally someone has the courtesy to contact me and tell me why they are dropping Ethics Alarms, but usually not. I know I obsess about such things, but it is like being defriended: I deserve the courtesy of a direct contact and an explanation. One well-remembered exit was by a woman who was very active the comments but always regrading formal ethics theory. I know that stuff, I studied it, and it bores me to tears. I also view the academic approach to ethics as substantially responsible for the public’s general disinterest  in ethics generally. When I finally told the ethics enthusiast that this wasn’t the kind of ethics blog she was looking for, she sent me an email that announced her departure.

1. Of course, the big news yesterday…was that the Boston Red Sox traded their best player, Mookie Betts, to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two young players and the willingness to take on the ridiculous contract of an aging, injury prone ex-ace, David Price. Boston being Boston, this was a story of much more consequence in the Hub than the State of the Union, the Democrats continuing inability to run  caucuses in Iowa, or the resolution of the impeachment washout. This shows, as I have always known as a born and bred Bostonian, that the city has its priorities straight.

Betts is that rarity, a young, great player who can do everything well, and do it with charm and modesty. He should be the face of the franchise for the next decade, but there’s a problem: Mookie wants to test the free agent market after this season, when he is eligible to do so. The Red Sox have offered him a long term deal in each of the last two seasons, and he recently rejected an offer in excess of 300 million dollars for ten years. On the open market Betts might get 30% more than that, and the Sox are loath to get into a bidding war. Thus, to avoid the fate of the Washington Nationals, who allowed their similarly young superstar Bryce Harper to flee without getting more than a draft choice in return (Mookie is better and nicer that Bryce), the Red Sox swallowed hard and traded him to the Dodgers.

Ethics notes:

  • In the trade, Boston gave up the best African American player in its long prejudice-stained history as well as its single African American starting pitcher. It says something about the team’s progress in this area that nobody has seemed to notice.
  • In trading Betts and Price after firing Alex Cora, the team’s manager implicated in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, the Red Sox just happened to bid farewell to the three most vocal boycotters of President Trump’s invitation to the team to be honored at the White House for the its 2018 World Series victory. Red Sox cohesion was never the same after the grandstanding “Orange Man Bad” explosion that split the squad down the middle. Mookie never seemed quite as nice after that; Cora never seemed as wise, and Price always was a jerk.
  • Betts has told anyone who would listen that he wanted to stay in Boston, that he loves the city and fans, and that the Red Sox were just proving that baseball is a business. That’s disingenuous spin, and clearly so. If you really want to stay with a team, then you accept the paltry wages of more than 30 million dollars a year to do so.

2. Since there seems to be a strong disagreement among the commentariat on this question, I need to poll it:

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/30/2019: “Happy Birthday Little Sister!” Edition

Good Morning!

Today marks the birthday of my younger sister, whom I have referred to here frequently. Growing up with her and following her life and career imbued me with an early and ongoing appreciation of the effects of sexism and pro-male bias in society, and I’m indebted to her for that. She has always equaled or surpassed me in ability and enterprise, yet often watched me receive more credit or praise for the same things she could do and did without similar acclaim. I know she resented me for that (probably still does—she won’t read Ethics Alarms, for example), and it frequently bruised our relationship over the years. She also taught me about moral luck: in general, I have been persistently  lucky, and she has not, and the difference was so evident that I learned very early in life not to congratulate myself for how the dice fell. She is finally happy in retirement, is about to welcome the first grandchild for this generation of Marshalls, her two adult children are healthy and prospering, and her beloved Nationals just forced a Game 7 in the World Series. She will have a happy birthday. Good. She deserves it.

1. Tales of the double standard, and the imaginary double standard. MSNBC and much of the progressive noise machine has decided to paint Rep. Katie Hill as a victim of a “vast right wing conspiracy,” in Hillary’s immortal phrase, and a vicious husband. If he indeed was the one who shared the salacious photos of Hill involved in various sex acts,  vicious he certainly is. But how can anyone say, as lawyer Carrie Goldberg does, that  “Katie Hill was taken down by three things: an abusive ex, a misogynist far-right media apparatus, and a society that was gleeful about sexually humiliating a young woman in power…None of those elements would be here if it were a male victim. It is because she is female that this happened’? Nonsense, and deceptive nonsense.

Hill resigned because a House ethics investigation was underway regarding her admitted sexual affair with a Congressional staffer and an alleged affair with her legislative director. She was not going to be kicked out of Congress for either or both; she probably resigned in part because she knew the investigation was going to turn up more and worse. The Naked Congresswoman Principle also played a part, as I discussed here. Does anyone really believe that equivalent photos of a male member of Congress displaying his naughty bits in flagrante delicto (my late, great, law school roomie loved saying that phrase) with both sexes would be shrugged off by his constituents and the news media? Who are they kidding?

Hill was arrogant and reckless, and is paying the predictable price, though she was not smart enough to predict it. Trail-blazers—I’m not sure being the first openly bi-sexual member of Congress is much  of a trail to blaze, but never mind—are always under special scrutiny and have to avoid scandal at all costs. Did Hill ever hear of Jackie Robinson? Allowing those photos to come into existence showed terrible judgment; using her staff as a dating resource was hypocritical for a member of the  #MeToo party and workplace misconduct too.

The fact that she is being defended tells us all we need to know about the integrity of her  defenders. Continue reading

The Naked Congresswoman Principle Is Confirmed, Rep. Hill Resigns, And She Refuses To Accept Responsibility

Of course she does.

Democratic Rep. Katie Hill of California has resigned. from the House of Representatives. Ethics Alarms examined Rep. Hill’s plight in the recent post, Just What We Needed: The Naked Congresswoman Principle. It concluded,

“The Naked Teacher Principle, Naked Congresswoman Variation, rules. The fact that these photos became public undermines trust in Hill’s judgement, competence, and trustworthiness, if not her physical fitness. It doesn’t matter how or why they got online. The person ultimately responsible is Hill. If you want to have a career based on respect and trust, don’t pose for naked pictures, sex photos, or pictures that make you look like you’re employed by an escort service. That shouldn’t be so hard.”

The lesson of the Naked Teacher Principle and most (though not all!) of its variations held true for Hill: once there are photos out there of a professional holding a position requiring dignity and trust behaving like or looking like a porn star, a drunken frat date, Kim Kardashian or a Sports illustrated swimsuit model, that professional’s ability to do her (or his) job has been seriously wounded, perhaps mortally. It would have been nice, and admirable, if Hill acknowledged this fact of life, the workplace and politics, but as you can see from her resignation letter below, she did not:

Ugh.

Hill appears to be taking no responsibility for her fate at all. This was a “rising star” in the Democratic Party firmament? Yechh.  Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/25/18: Your School Shooting Ethics Train Wreck Update [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1  Addendum to the “Weapons of War” post: I almost included this in the post itself, but it was long enough. During the debates here over the Confederate statue-toppling orgies and the Charlottesville riot, we often heard the defense that Robert E. Lee, et al., were unworthy of statues, monuments and memorials because they were traitors. I always viewed this as a rationalization for the real reason the Confederates are being airbrushed out of our public history, which is that their political and social beliefs don’t measure up to 21st Century ethics. The “traitor” argument is a neat way to distinguish Robert E. Lee from slave-owners like George Washington.  However, as the post explains, the United States was founded on the principle that it is not treason for citizens to seek to create a new government when they concluded that the current one has abused its power and cannot be reformed. That is certainly what the Confederacy believed. Under the Founding documents, they had every right to leave the Union, and would have done so peacefully had Lincoln allowed it. Robert E. Lee was wrong, and he was a racist, but he was no traitor. By Jefferson’s formula that was ratified unanimously by the Continental Congress, he was a patriot.

2. Everybody’s flailing. President Trump floated the much-mocked “arm teachers” suggestion, and then used the cultural DeLorean to retrieve the “popular culture is too violent” explanation. The gun violence in the U.S. is very much driven by our culture, and pop culture both reflects and affects it. Hollywood made some efforts to tone down the violence last year; it also had the worst year at the box office in a quarter of a century, so we’ll see how long that lasts. The President just doesn’t understand the Constitution very well: the government can’t force video games, music, TV shows and movies to be less violent, but it can launch efforts to build a public consensus to dial back the fictional killing.

You know, like Tipper Gore’s effort to get the sex, obscenity and violence out of rap music. That sure worked well. The Obama approach would be to send out a menacing letter saying something like, “We recommend that you tone it down, but of course we can’t make you, but you know there are a lot of ways we could make your life miserable if you displease us, not that we would ever try to muscle you or anything since it you have the right of free speech. Just a word to the wise between friends. Nice little business you have there; it would be a shame if anything were to happen to it…”

The President’s critics sneered that he is “flailing” on the issue. I don’t see that he is flailing any more than anyone else. To the zealots, “flailing” means “not advocating the repeal of the Second Amendment.”

3. At least Vox is honest. In this article, left-wing Vox argues that the solution to gun violence “isn’t a big mystery,” but then only uses innuendo to explain what the solution is. Guess! here’s the biggest clue (emphasis mine): Continue reading

Monica Fails Another Accountability Test

This is the graphic the Times used above the Lewinsky op-ed. You didn’t know that the whole Clinton-Lewinsky scandal was staged by Roger Ailes, did you? Yes, it was all his fault. Really. And since he’s dead, this is the perfect time for the Times to say so.

In an New York Times op-ed prompted by the death of Fox News founder Roger Ailes, Monica Lewinsky demonstrates that she sees herself as a pathetic victim, and blames others for what happened to her after a President of the United States decided to indulge himself and use a star-struck White House intern as his sex toy. Yet Monica’s others barely include Bill Clinton (he is mentioned just once in her screed), who did victimize her. Instead, she is accusing  Ailes and Matt Drudge, who committed the sin, Lewinsky implies, of preventing the mainstream news media from burying the story, as it was in the process of trying to do.

Monica’s attack on Ailes is just the latest in the hate-fest from the Left in reaction to his death. His primary crime, in their eyes, was  interfering with the left-wing media’s ability to spin the news to recruit the public in uncritical and ignorant support of all things liberal. Many of the vicious tweets from reporters (When Al Sharpton stands out for being fair, you know something is amiss) focused on Ailes’s sexual harassment, but it is fair to assume that Clinton, another serial harasser, will not be memorialized by these critics in the same way. Ailes was a sexist, power-abusing pig, but these people work with and cover  and vote for sexist power-abusing pigs all the time. They revile Ailes because he broke up their monopoly.

The Times can only have decided to publish Lewinsky’s jaw-droppingly obtuse and self-serving column as part of its own post-mortem smear of  Ailes, even though it makes Monica look deluded and juvenile. Yes, she is being used again.

She writes in part: Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Financial Massacre Of The Aurora Massacre Plaintiffs

James Holmes’s 2012 attack on the Century Aurora 16 movie theater showing “The Dark Knight Rises” killed 12 people and wounded 70 others. Many of the survivors and relatives of those killed sued Cinemark, the theater’s owner, in state and federal court, arguing that lax security was the cause of the attack. Cinemark’s defense was that the shooting was unforeseeable. Two suits went forward, one in state court and one in federal court, with different plaintiffs. Cinemark prevailed in both. After the recent jury verdict for Cinemark in the state court case this summer, the company had sought nearly $700,000 from the victims under the “loser pays” Colorado law, which directs that the winning side in a civil case is entitled to recover its legal costs from the losing side. This is the predominant system in England and Europe. The litigation costs of Cinemark in the federal case are likely to be more than $700,000, maybe a lot more.

What’s going on here (the best question to begin any ethics inquiry)? Well…

1. The law suits were a terrible idea. This was the result, in part, of the increasingly popular ideological virus in our society that is slowly reprogramming previously functioning brains to believe that nobody should have to pay for their misfortunes, and that somebody with deeper pocket and more resources should always be obligated to pay instead. This is increasingly a staple of leftist thought: the government, insurance companies, corporations, people with more money, all of them should be potentially on the hook when misfortune strikes others, because that’s fair.

2. It’s not fair, though.  It is profoundly un-American and unethical.

If those parties have caused the damage, or had the power and responsibility to mitigate it, or promised to pay for it, then there are ethical arguments to support them paying some or all of the expenses. But if something terrible happens to you, those people should have no more obligation to be accountable for your harm than you should have responsibility for taking care of them. That’s not the message sent by the culture though. Lawyers love the message that if you are harmed, somebody else can be found to ease your pain. They love it, because they can share in the bounty if a lawsuit seeking damages prevails, and this attitude guarantees more lawsuits. Continue reading

A Bobby Jindal Critic Asks, “Would I Be Uncivil If I Were To Suggest That Somebody Punch This Man Right In His Dick?” Why Yes, I Believe You Would…

By all means, this should be our model for political discourse...

By all means, this should be our model for political discourse…

Gov. Bobby Jindal, desperately trying to stay relevant in the Republican race to be the party nominee in 2016, weighed in on the Oregon community college shooting with an extensive blog post that shows, if nothing else, that the Fifties live. It’s pretty awful, designating as “root causes” of the violence such Oldies but Stupidees as “glorifying violence” in popular culture (Actually, this one is closer  to 1650), movies, TV shows, music (Run, Tipper! This is your chance!) the decline of religion ( “…we flaunt the laws of God and common decency”—I think you mean “flout” there, Bobby), the decline of the family…you know the list. The problem with Jindal’s rant—other than its exaggerations, poor writing and hysterical tone— is that taking any single event and attributing it to generic causes is demagoguery, and as intellectually dishonest as  blaming the NRA every time someone is murdered with a gun.

The Huffington Post, mocking Jindal’s eminently mockable screed, asked “What about gun violence?” as if Jindal left out the one obvious “root cause.” Is it really necessary to point out that gun violence is responsible for gun violence? But that’s anti-gun code for guns, you see. Guns are responsible for the shootings. Take the evil guns away, and nobody dies! That this facile and deceitful dead end reasoning is so accepted among progressives and liberals that it is considered an obvious truth is depressing, but I digress.

Jindal is also depressing, since the only remedy for violent movies, TV shows and video games is censorship of one kind or another, and you know what the Right will do if it gets that started: TV couples will again be sleeping in twin beds like Rob and Laura Petrie by edict. His lack of logic is depressing too—how does someone like this get elected a governor?—when he attributes alleged conditions like “the family is a mess” to a rampage by someone who might have been raised like Opie Taylor but whose mind just snapped, as they have a tendency to do. Again, a single incident has specific causes. Jindal’s main argument is exactly as exploitative and dishonest as using the Oregon shooting to lobby for gun regulations that wouldn’t have stopped the shooting. Continue reading