Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/14/2020: Only One Pandemic Note Out Of Five!

Good morning!

I am disgusted with this brain-dead talking point: perhaps my most Trump Deranged Facebook friend posted a rant–at least he wrote his own this time rather than searching the web for the latest from established “resistance” pundits (Dana Milbank, Paul Krugman, Joe Scarborough, about a hundred others)—making the “point” that President Trump wasn’t “elected to do heart surgery,” so the argument that Dr. Fauci’s opinions on the Wuhan virus shouldn’t dictate policy because “he wasn’t elected” were foolish. How did people like my friend get this way? He is obviously amazingly receptive to Democrat-crafted narratives, and probably hypnosis as well, so I guess I should be glad he doesn’t think he’s a chicken.

We elect leaders to consider and weigh many opinions of advisers, experts and specialists in narrow fields to balance those among other considerations in deciding what is in the best long and short term interests of the nation. That’s why, among other reasons, the we have a civilian in charge of the armed services. This increasingly popular (and tiresome) claim from the Left that if the recommendations of scientist aren’t followed, it is proof of ignorance and recklessness is logically, historically and politically unsupportable. If it’s sincere rather than a partisan tactic, it is ignorant  as well.

Scientists aren’t accountable to the public for their opinions; if they are wrong, they just come up with new theories and conclusions.  Scientists and health care specialists also, as we have said here many times, operate within the tunnel vision and priorities of their own specialties. All Dr. Fauci focuses on is the likely (as they appear at any given point) health consequences of national policy. Economic, security, political consequences are not his concern, nor should they be. Arguing that his position on the best national policy must be accepted by the President is irresponsible as well as incompetent, and this is true without even considering the fact that Fauci and the “experts” have been repeatedly wrong about the pandemic already, as Senator Paul pointed out this week.

1.How sports teaches character. I am going to have to take two hours out of my day because the MLB channel, improvising like crazy to come up with programming without any baseball games to cover, is replaying the 1975 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds, best known for Game 6, when Carlton Fisk hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning of arguably the most exciting World Series game ever played. I was at Game Six and two more in that seven game series (thanks to the generosity of my late law school friends and classmates Mitch and Myron Dale, whose father was then president of the Reds), but it was one I didn’t see in person, Game 4, that was the Ethics Game.

Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant, with his team facing a daunting three games-to-one deficit if it lost, pitched a nerve-wracking, complete game 5-4 victory, protecting a one-run lead for most of it despite lacking his best stuff against the toughest line-up in baseball. Nearly every inning, the Reds had men on base and threatened to take the lead; over and over again Sox manager Darrell Johnson trudged out to the mound to replace Tiant, only to have his ace shake his head, insist that he would get the job done, and demand that his boss return to the dugout. TV closeups of the Cuban’s grim and sweat-covered face showed pure determination as he took the fate of the team on his own back fearlessly and without hesitation. Tiant, an old man in baseball years, threw over 180 pitches that night in the era before they counted pitches; today, starters are seldom allowed to throw more than 100. Even more than the famous Curt Schilling “bloody sock” game in 2004, that athletic performance epitomizes for me the ethical virtues of professionalism, honor, perseverance, accountability, fortitude, courage and sacrifice. I have pictured Luis Tiant’s face  many times since when I have been under pressure to succeed, or facing a challenge while not feeling at my best. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/13/2020: The Muppets And The Sausage King, Covidiots In A Drive-By, And Trump Still Isn’t Hitler

Good morning!

The nice thing about a miserable rainy day like the one we’re getting in Alexandria is that it makes one glad to be stuck at home…

1. Book reviews I didn’t finish reading…In fact, I never got past the first sentence of the review of “Hitler’s First 100 Days” by Peter Fritzke. The title of the review is “How Hitler Transformed a Democracy Into a Tyranny,” so I suspected this would be in the metaphorical wind” the review begins, “How does the rise of Hitler look since the rise of Donald Trump?”

The Times book reviewer is an Oxford professor of history.  This is a particularly asinine opening for a book review now, when the President is being regularly criticized for not being autocratic enough. One would think that of all the Big Lies the news media has been broadcasting since November 2016, “Trump is Hitler” would have  revealed itself as the most contrived. The “resistance,” however, is at war with reality as well as democracy.

I’ve got the online version of the review right here—let me skim it quickly to see if the actual book contains any discussion of the Trump administration at all. Let’s see…apparently not, which isn’t surprising since this is a book entirely about Germany. Nonetheless, the reviewer—what happened to the British?—makes this observation toward the end:

“This use of theatrical choruses was innovative 90 years ago, but making such agitprop sound snappy to a contemporary ear is tricky. As Fritzsche describes a rally where the speaker railed against the Weimar system and its politicians, he translates the audience’s chorus as “Hang them up! Bust their ass!” The pre-echo of “Lock her up!” is audible.”

Audible to you, perhaps, you jackass. First, the use of crowd chants in political rallies and during speeches was ancient and a standard device when the Nazis employed it. Second, there is no similarity at all between the ominous Nazi chant and “Lock her up!” The Nazis were advocating executing and beating up those who opposed them, and they did just that.  “Lock her up!,” while still ugly, was a direct reference to that fact that Hillary Clinton had deliberately broken national security policies for her own benefit, and was counting on, as usual, skating clear of punishment—which, in fact, is exactly what happened. Continue reading

Pandemic Ethics Potpourri: Spring Cleaning, Chapter 1

My files of potential and ongoing ethics stories and issues involving the Wuhan virus outbreak are stuffed to overflowing. I’m not going to have time to do the full posts many of these deserve, and the rest risk dropping into oblivion. Here is the first of several collections that will at least flag issues while allowing me to keep current…

1. Golf and the virus…

  • Three Massachusetts golfing enthusiasts, blocked from the links in their own state , were charged with misdemeanors in Rhode Island after going to extraordinary lengths to sneak into that state to hit the little white balls around. Rhode Island has issued a directive requiring all travelers to quarantine themselves for 14 days after entering the state. Gregory Corbett, 51, Tyler Pietrzyk, 22, and Nye Cameron, 22, determined to make it to the Meadow Brook Golf Course drove from Massachusetts to the smallest state, changed cars in a McDonald’s parking lot, and proceeded to the golf course with Rhode Island-issued plates to the club.
  • Right: right, we’re all in this together. Here’s Michigan Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel in two tweets:

2. When the going gets tough, the tough get race-baiting. Black Americans are experiencing a significantly higher percentage of infections and deaths than other demographic groups, especially in big cities. There are many likely reasons for this, but this one is infuriating: Continue reading

April Fools Free Zone Ethics Warm-Up: Everything You Read Here Is Real, Unfortunately.

Happy Day Like Any Other Day.

Well, not “happy,” exactly…

I’m on record on Ethics Alarms as detesting April Fools Day, as well as regarding April Fools stunts by professionals, like lawyers and journalists, unethical though usually not sanctionable. It should be a children’s day, like Halloween, but adults are determined to co-opt all such days, ruining it for everybody.

1. I lost a good friend yesterday. It’s more than that really: the human race lost one of its finest representatives. His name was Dennis Nollette; he was a lawyer, a writer and a bon vivant, but most of he was one of those amazing people who made you feel good just by being around him. I knew him in laws school, where he was my room mate for a year; he also was a member of the casts of the three productions I staged when I was a student. Since graduation, I think I saw Dennis six times, never for long, but with him it seemed like the time melted away: he was always the same, always emitting his powerful positive energy, optimism, and love for those around him, and I always felt as close to him as ever.

And just like that, he’s gone. There was no warning; it all happened so fast. All I have now is an overwhelming feeling of loss, along with an acknowledgment of my duty to let as many people as possible know that he was here, that he made the world a better place by being here, and that those of us who remains should follow his example by making the best out of life, and encouraging others to do the same by our example. That was Dennis’s genius, and attention must be paid.

2. Maybe the Constitution IS a suicide pact…Justice Robert H. Jackson’s  famous line in his dissenting opinion in Terminiello v. Chicago, a 1949 free speech case, has come to mind many times in the past few weeks, as the news media and online sources have churned out some of the most irresponsible and outrageous essays in memory, many of them about how this period will “change America forever,” usually in undesirable ways.  90% of these screeds are nonsense and based on flawed reasoning. My current leader for the worst idea is this piece, by conservative gadfly Roger Simon: “Should We Postpone the Presidential Election One Year?”

It’s an incompetent question. Not only shouldn’t we, we can’t, and any suggestion from Republicans that we ought to even think about it would be instantly condemned as the attempted dictatorship by Donald Trump that Big Lie #3 has warned us about.  We also know that if the President did get an extra year, it would spent all of it defending himself against one impeachment attempt after another. Continue reading

Mid-Day Ethics Stimulus, 3/31/2020: Dunces, Heroes, Hacks And More

I’m stimulated!

And you?

1. Maybe not the wisest move, but ethical… Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn) shared  his cell phone number on Twitter for anyone who needed to discuss their fears about the impact of the Wuhan virus. “If [you’re] feeling overwhelmed or scared and just want to talk to somebody give me a call,”  said. “We will get through this together.”

He added, “I know everybody’s under a lot of pressure with what’s going on with the Coronavirus. If you’re feeling all that pressure and it’s getting to you…I know in the last little bit here we’ve had nine people in our community taking their life. That’s a horrible, horrible thing, somebody taking their own life. If you feel like you’re going to hurt yourself or maybe hurt somebody around you, why don’t ya’ll just call me. Let’s talk.”

2.  I know this is an unpopular position, but it’s not the first time I’ve explained it. CNN’s Brooke Baldwin was overcome with emotion as  she interviewed a woman who’ had been unable to say goodbye to her mother in person before she died of the Wuhan Virus. Baldwin is an unprofessional hack. In recent years, alleged professional journalists, especially on CNN, have allowed their emotions to influence their reporting. This results in a form of editorializing, and the practice demonstrates how much today’s journalists see themselves as performers rather than objective communicators of information.

Admittedly, this kind of interview is designed to bring out the Kleenex,  but CNN lets its hosts display grief when a favorite candidate loses (like Hillary Clinton), glee, when a figure they don’t like is abused (Carol Costello chuckling at a recording of Sarah Palin’s daughter breaking down)  or anger when a political figure  doesn’t toe the progressive line. (Don Lemon, more or less constantly.) It’s hackery.

3. And today’s Covidiot is...Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of The River Church in Tampa, a so-called “mega church” that held a service over the weekend in which over a thousand worshipers  were “squeezed in like sardines,” as one reporter described it. Howard-Browne had said that he would defy the restrictions imposed by the state and county to stem the threat of the  worldwide pandemic. “We are not stopping anything. I’ve got news for you, this church will never close. The only time the church will close is when the Rapture is taking place,” the reverend said.

Following the service, a warrant for his arrest was issued. He is now in custody.

4.  Hmmmm...Here are Governor Ralph Northam’s exceptions to his “order” regarding the stay-at-home restrictions in Virginia:

a. Obtaining food, beverages, goods, or services as permitted in Executive
Order 53;

b. Seeking medical attention, essential social services, governmental
services, assistance from law enforcement, or emergency services;

c. Taking care of other individuals, animals, or visiting the home of a family
member;

d. Traveling required by court order or to facilitate child custody, visitation,
or child care;

e. Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals
comply with social distancing requirements;

f. Traveling to and from one’s residence, place of worship, or work;

g. Traveling to and from an educational institution;

h. Volunteering with organizations that provide charitable or social services; and

i. Leaving one’s residence due to a reasonable fear for health or safety, at the direction of law enforcement, or at the direction of another government agency.

Aside from the fact that some of this would be vulnerable to constitutional challenges—those will come later—why is traveling to and from churches permitted, if church services are per se prohibited? Why is traveling to and from schools an exception, if all schools have been ordered to close? Why is visiting a relative permitted, but not a close friend? A best friend? Your only friend? Do only blood relatives count? In-laws? Seventh cousins twice removed?

The order seems arbitrary and hastily composed. Laws that infringe on civil rights cannot afford to be like that, if they want to withstand eventual court challenges, or even if they just want to be coherent.

5. Ugh. Mike Lindell, the My Pillow infomercial hustler whose TV ads have been banned at my house, was a guest at the White House Task Force press briefing yesterday.  He explained that his company was  devoting 75% of its manufacturing capacity into making face masks. Then he asked if he could add something, and President Trump said “Okay.”

Well, what choice did he have? The guy has volunteered to do a public service. He has cultivated the image of a nice person. If the President had said, “No, Mike. Sorry. We’re moving on,” he would have looked ungrateful. However that is exactly what Trump should have said. It’s not worth the risk.

Embodying a worst case scenario, Lindell said,

God gave us grace on November 8th, 2016, to change the course we were on. God had been taken out of our schools and lives. A nation had turned its back on God. And I encourage you: Use this time at home to get — home to get back in the Word, read our Bibles, and spend time with our families. Our President gave us so much hope where, just a few short months ago, we had the best economy, the lowest unemployment, and wages going up. It was amazing. With our great President, Vice President, and this administration and all the great people in this country praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that’s stronger and safer than ever.

Ethics foul. It was not Lindell’s place to engage in religious grandstanding and a political endoresment, however sincere it might be. This wasn’t a political rally, nor a time for religious proselytizing. It also, once again, painted a target on the President, who responded,

That’s very nice. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mike. Appreciate it…. I did not know he was going to do that, but he’s a friend of mine, and I do appreciate it. Thank you, Mike, very much.

At that point, I don’t know what else he could say.

 

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/28/2020: Well, In At Least One Respect, WW II Must Have Felt Like This…

“This” being that almost every single news item and media article related in some way to a single topic, the war then, the pandemic today. That’s one reason President Roosevelt asked major League Baseball to keep playing on, despite the fact that most of the game’s stars had enlisted or were about to,  leaving the teams to field old players, players who came out of retirement, minor leaguers, and such curiosities as Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder. 

Wait: the baseball season was supposed to start two days ago, and is postponed at least until May. In that regard, at least, this is worse than World War II…

1. Speaking of baseball: Red Sox ethics! Major League Baseball approved a pool of 30 million dollars (That’s $1 million per club) to compensate ballpark employees during the enforced suspension of games. That left out the employees of subcontractors like Aramark, the company that supplies Fenway Park with food services, among other things. The Sox announced that it would add a half-million dollars to the $1 million for Aramark, a move that is expected to shame the other 29 clubs into similar moves.

2. You wonder why America’s children are growing up to be Marxists? Well, this doesn’t help: The following articles appeared this week in Teen Vogue:

3. From the front page of the Boston Herald:

I’m not going to track down the article; it would just ruin the wonderful picture in my head. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Cody Pfister, The Mad Licker

What does one do with someone this stupid?

Cody Pfister, 26, of Warrenton Missouri, was arrested after he filmed himself licking various items at Walmart. Apparently he was under the misapprehension that Walmart is a licker store.

HAR!

But enough levity. In the video he posted to social media, this cretin is seen boasting “Who’s afraid of the coronavirus?” as he sticks his tongue where no tongue should boldly go, especially during a pandemic.

The video, which was apparently made on March 11,  went viral, as they say, circling the globe. The Warrenton police were contacted by residents of the Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

“We take these complaints very seriously and would like to thank all of those who reported the video so the issue could be addressed,” the police said in the statement. Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring (Or Were Never Installed): The Covidiots

Once again, one has to ask:

What’s the matter with these people?

The Beach

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a shelter in place order for the Golden State’s  nearly 40 million residents to stay at home from March 20 to the foreseeable future. California is third among the states in number of Wuhan virus cases. So, naturally, people went to enjoy themselves at the beaches, hiking trails and parks.

The Hosts

New Jersey police arrested  Eliyohu Zaks last week after a neighbor notified law enforcement that a large crowd had been observed at his home. It was a wedding. Police dispersed the crowd of at least fifty and charged Zaks with “maintaining a public nuisance.”  Earlier in the week, police broke up two other weddings in the same neighborhood, and the day before, a fourth homeowner, Shaul Kuperwasser, was also charged with “maintaining a public nuisance” by hosting more than fifty friends at his residence.

This is something of an epidemic of its own. “The Lakewood Police is asking that its citizens be responsible and obey the directives set forth by the State of New Jersey for the safety and health of all,” local law enforcement said in a statement. “Those that choose not to will be subject to criminal prosecution.” Continue reading