Morning Ethics Warm-Up I Expected Not To Get Posted In The Morning, 3/26/2021: “Ouch!” Edition

Dentist

Therein lies a tale

I arrived at the appointed time for my triple tooth extraction to be told that I would be required to pay the entire cost of my surgery on the spot, and the amount was a cool $4000. This, despite the fact that I had been told (by the doctor) that I could wait before deciding on the various treatment options, and having not received clear (to me, at least) information that the office took no general medical coverage at all, just dental insurance, and my dental insurance was not among the blessed. (Raising the related issue of why my dentist would refer me to an oral surgeon who did not accept the insurance that the dentist did, without alerting me in advance. “We tried to call you,” the snotty desk staff said. Really? I had no messages on my home or office lines. “We only call our patients on their cell phones,” I was told. Then why do you ask for the other numbers? If you have essential information to convey, and you can’t reach a patient by cell, why wouldn’t you try the other contact options? Where on the form does it say that the only number you will use is the cell phone? I only included the cell number because it was asked for: I use cell phones when traveling, period, and during the lockdown it is usually uncharged. If I am going to be expected to hand over 4 grand on the spot, I need to be told, and the information I provided gave an easy means to tell me. What I suspect is that the 20-somethings behind the desk, living on their smart phones themselves, would never dream that anyone wouldn’t do the same. It wasn’t a policy, it was an unwarranted and incompetent assumption.

I informed the staff that its conduct was unethical and unprofessional, and that its attitude was arrogant and obnoxious. Then I walked out. I don’t care if the next oral surgeon costs as much or more: I don’t trust people who treat me like this. Screw ’em.

1. It’s a banner day in the history of “the ends justifies the means” medical ethics! On this date in 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announced on national radio that he had successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes polio. Salk had conducted the first human trials of his vaccine on former polio patients, on himself, and his family. The general consensus among ethicists is that self-experimentation is ethical: as one scholarly paper put it, “Organizational uncertainty over the ethical and regulatory status of self-experimentation, and resulting fear of consequences is unjustified and may be blocking a route to human experiments that practicing scientists widely consider appropriate, and which historical precedent has shown is valuable.” But using one’s family as guinea pigs? Unethical, absolutely. The researcher, in this case Salk, has undue influence over such subjects, and consent cannot be said to be voluntary.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2020: Sir Paul, Fauxahontas, #MeToo, The Flying Ace, And The 2016 Ethics Villain Of The Year

good morning.

my college freshman dorm room was where e.e. cummings spent his freshman year too. never liked ol’ e.e.’s poetry much, but admired his clever stunt to avoid having to worry about upper case letters, presenting laziness as style.

i wonder if i could do the same thing with basic spelling?

1. You don’t necessarily have to blame the victim, but you shouldn’t give him gifts for being irresponsible either. Pitching ace Roy Halladay had only been retired for three years when he died in the crash of a private plane he was flying. After his death, he was elected by baseball writers to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ahead of the mandatory five -year waiting period, an honor that was given posthumously to Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder who died in a plane crash in 1972 while trying to deliver relief supplies from Puerto Rico to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua. Clemente was a no-arguments Hall of Famer; Halladay was not, though he was certainly a valid candidate. He was elected by sympathy and emotion as much as by careful evaluation; this is one reason the Hall makes players wait at least five years. Now the  National Transportation Safety Board’s report on the investigation of his death is coming out.

This week it reported that Halladay had a  mix of amphetamine, morphine and other prescription drugs in his system while he was doing aerial acrobatics and stunt flying. It was a miracle that he didn’t kill anyone else, as he was flying dangerously close to boats before his amphibious sport plane  plunged into the Gulf of Mexico  on Nov. 7, 2017.

The 13-page report says Halladay had 10 times the recommended level of amphetamine in his system, as well as an antidepressant, a muscle relaxant, a sleep aid and morphine. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Rachel Maddow

“If Hillary Clinton can’t win when she gets the nomination and you can’t get the nomination and neither can Kamala Harris, and neither can Amy Klobuchar, and neither can Kirsten Gillibrand. I mean, I think part of what’s going on today is women around the country are like, ‘OK, honestly!’ If it’s not going to be any of them, let’s get real. Is it just that it can’t be any woman ever?”

——The allegedly intelligent MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, making a statement with stunning disregard of facts and logic, indeed reality, in order to advance a divisive and false narrative.

This was an irresponsible argument in the midst of a generally irresponsible and dishonest discourse by Maddow while interviewing Elizabeth Warren following the end of her campaign. She was attempting to bolster Warren’s ethically bankrupt claims that it was sexism that doomed her campaign, just as Hillary Clinton claimed the same, among all the excuses and rationalizations she assembled (and is still assembling) to duck accountability for her own upset loss to Donald Trump, who was generally dismissed as a pushover.

If she wanted to educate her viewers, which Maddow does not—she wants to push an ideological agenda—she would explain that none of the women she mentioned were successful state governors, and that state houses and military command, not Congress, have been the launching pad for the majority of Presidents.  She could explain that the failed candidates she mentioned all had thin resumes for a White House run, including Warren, who is a former university professor and lawyer barely into her second term as a U.S. Senator.

Hillary had the most impressive experience of the group, but there is no avoiding the conclusion  that the only reason she was in a position to get the nomination was by coasting on her husband’s resilient popularity. She had not been an especially outstanding Senator, and her tenure as Secretary of State was marred by many dubious episodes, not the least of which was the email scandal that she persisted in lying about. Moreover, Clinton disproved Maddow’s theory by getting a plurality of votes cast in 2016, an achievement that will elect a candidate President approximately 90% of the time. She was unlucky, that’s all. Hillary  nearly won despite more adverse baggage and dubious character than any Presidential candidate other than  Richard Nixon. Continue reading

Post Flight Ethics Landing, 3/5/2020: Goodbye, Liz, And Good Riddance

I’m blotto, my friends.

It’s been a long day. But I still have some items to review in my waning moments of clarity…

1. Again, movie Bowdlerizing. Why does this keep happening? I know it was routine in the Sixties to bleep  and cut vulgar words out of movies on TV,  but even then it was a practice that marred films great and small, ruined the directors’ and the screenwriters’ craft, and warped character, humor and intensity. Now, when Congress  members spit out charming epithets like “motherfucker” at will,  the sensitivity to tender ears makes no sense at all. Why don’t studios and directors stand up for the integrity of their work? All the “Forget you!” exclamations are bad enough, but sometimes memorable exchanges are lost to dumb Puritanism.

Last night I watched the end of “Stand By Me” before I went to bed. In the climactic scene where Ace and his gang of hoods tries to take the dead body from the four 12-year-old protagonists, young Gordie LaChance (Played by a pre-“Star Trek” Wil Wheaton) points a revolver at the gang leader ( Kiefer Sutherland). When Ace accuses Gordy of bluffing, the mild-mannered kid  cocks the gun and says, with chilling intensity, “Suck my fat one, you cheap dimestore hood.” That line was excised completely, as was the humorous retort by Chris (River Phoenix) after the gang retreats, “Suck my fat one? Who told you you had a fat one, LaChance?” To which Gordie replies, “Biggest one in four counties.”

2. More on Schumer… I’m desperate to find a full transcript of Schumer’s Senate remarks today defending himself against Mitch McConnell’s absolutely fair and accurate condemnation of Schumer’s threatening rant against the two Supreme Court justices yesterday. I heard it live this morning, and I thought, “Wow! This may be the most impressive array of non-stop rationalizations to try to excuse the inexcusable that I’ve ever heard!”

I know this: it culminated in #64, Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is, ” when the Senator said, “Of course, I did not intend to suggest anything other than political and public opinion consequences for the Supreme Court, and it is a gross distortion to imply otherwise.” Of course! It’s a gross distortion to imply that Schumer meant what the clear meaning of his words conveyed, rather than something that his words didn’t suggest at all. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/4/2020: Marching To Georgia Edition

Hello, I must be going…

Desperately trying to get this post out before the walls close in. I’m doing a program for an always receptive BigLaw firm in Atlanta, and its a program I know well, and I’m still anxious about it. It doesn’t help that I have some kind of cold, but the show must go on…

1. Super Tuesday musings…

  • Last night, I stumbled on  a Fox News panel discussing the Julie Principle at length regarding Joe Biden’s brain farts and Trump’s Tweets! They didn’t use that term, of course, but it would have helped explicate what they were trying to say, which was that once you’ve decided to accept the flaws of a candidate, more evidence of those flaws won’t change your support.
  • Speaking of… Joe Biden got his sister and his wife mixed up during his victory speech. If there was ever a question of how much the country doesn’t want socialism, the fact that so many Democrats preferred to vote for this sad husk than capitulate to Bernie should answer it.
  • How proud I am of my home state, which told the world that even voters who know  best, and presumably support to some extent, Elizabeth Warren don’t think she should be President. Thus they validated Abe Lincoln’s rule: you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Warren was the 2020 field’s worst demagogue and biggest hypocrite, as well as one of the most shameless liars. As I write this, she hasn’t dropped out yet, perhaps because she doesn’t want to help Sanders, whom she still resents for saying that a women couldn’t be elected President. Well, he was right as far as she is concerned. Good.

Warren was easily my least favorite of the Democratic contenders from an ethics standpoint. After I posted on Facebook about one of her many deceptions, a friend, apparently seriously, commented that I seemed to have a real bias against her. It reminded me of one of Martin Short’s brilliant improvs as idiot celebrity interviewer “Jiminy Glick,” when he cracked up Mel Brooks by asking, “Now what is it that you have against Hitler?”

2. Wait, he did WHAT??? Cedric Sunray, a college recruiter from Oklahoma Christian University,  visited Harding Charter Preparatory High School in Oklahoma City last month and met with 110 juniors and four teachers in the gymnasium to talk about opportunities at the college. He then asked the students to line up from darkest to lightest skin complexion, and then line up from “nappiest” to straightest hair.  As the students lined up, some of the teachers left to report the request to school administrators, who intervened. Sunray was quickly fired.

Sunray later wrote that the exercise was meant to be an “icebreaker” and that he has made the same presentation dozens of times at other institutions. Really? And nobody complained?

The president of Oklahoma Christian University, John deSteiguer, visited the prep school to apologize to students and staff members. Too late, I’d say. Any school that would let someone like Sunray represent it is too inept to be trusted. Continue reading

Elizabeth Warren, The Presidency, And The Female Leadership Problem

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for President is reportedly running out of money, and the other woman in the race for the Democratic nomination is counting on prevailing as the “none of the above” candidate, a long-shot at best. Meanwhile, the party that pronounced itself “the party of women” in 2012—with Bill Clinton as its star convention speaker!—now seems to be looking at a battle among three white men in their late seventies. This is not where progressives thought they would be at this point in the giddy summer of 2016.

Naturally, feminists and the news media are determined to explain this as the result of plain old, typical, anti-female bigotry.  The explanation is simpleminded, hypocritical and incoherent. From the Times:

[I]n dozens of interviews with Democrats over the past several months, at events for Ms. Warren, debate watch parties and polling places, many professional, college-educated women say they have been enraged by the obsession with electability in the 2020 race. These are women who see themselves in Ms. Warren and argue that simply by asking whether a woman can be elected, pundits and voters who fancy themselves as such, are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. For mothers, this moment includes the difficulty of speaking about gender to school-age girls who do not care about the finer points of policy details, but are happy to declare, “I want a woman president.”

Let’s look at the components of that statement, from a piece about how women allegedly feel that her gender has kept Elizabeth Warren from being a strong contender for the nomination.

  • It is the Democrats and progressives, specifically the “resistance,” who have made “electability” the primary factor in choosing the blue party’s nominee in 2020. Such minor items as policy, experience and character have been thrown aside by constant repetition of the myth that anyone, literally anyone, would be preferable to having President Voldemort in the White House. The members of the Facebook Borg constantly say that they will vote for whoever the Democratic Party nominates, which means that they have surrendered any discretion regarding qualifications for leadership. All they care about is winning. In that context, of course electability is essential.

Saying so isn’t sexist. Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: A TIE!

No, not THEIR tweets! Tweets ABOUT them…

Yes, the Democratic Presidential hopeful field’s #1 pandering jerk and it’s leading  shameless demagogue both exploited the birthday of  the late Trayvon Martin to engage is race-baiting, false narrative peddling, and near-defamation. Buttigieg and Warren also recently referred to the “murder” of Mike Brown, whom a grand jury and an Obama Justice Department investigation itching to find evidence of a crime both determined had charged the police officer who shot him, and thus was legally killed in self defense. I fault Warren a bit more here, since she is a law professor and knows damn well that both the evidence and the law say that Martin was not the victim of racism and that but for his possession of a legal firearm, it might have been Zimmerman who was killed.  Yet Buttigieg’s “white supremacy” buzz-wording is  unforgivable, as it literally had nothing to do with the deadly confrontation between a black teen and a Hispanic-American. Continue reading

Seven Ethics Observations On The Las Vegas Democratic Candidates Debate

The transcript is here.

This was certainly the most entertaining of the debates so far, not that entertainment should be the purpose of such things. The substitution of Trump-obsessed billionaire Michael Bloomberg for Trump-obsessed billionaire Tom Steyer appeared to alter the chemistry of the entire group, rendering everyone nastier and antagonistic, and to each other, not President Trump. Steyer, after all, was always a pure vanity candidate, and like Stephen Yang, irrelevant, taking up space, and clogging the pipeline for voters to figure out who might be the best candidate. Bloomberg, incompetently and hypocritically, was considered a leading contender by “experts” (incompetently) and Democrats (hypocritically) as he entered his first debate.

1. Bloomberg, as I expected but far more spectacularly than I expected, proved that he isn’t a top contender no matter how much he spends. The former NYC mayor stood there with a perpetual ‘why do I have to put up with these peasants?’ look on his face, and though he had to know he would come under fire, appeared to be unprepared.

Elizabeth Warren’s (and to a lesser extent, Joe Biden’s) crushing attack on his (terrible) responses in defense of his stop-andfrisk policies in New York City (a utilitarian toss-up, but not for a party in which racial profiling is considered per se evil) and accusations of allowing a hostile work environment in his business reminded me of Chris Christie’s merciless humiliation of poor Marco Rubio in 2016. In particular, Bloomberg was a deer caught in the headlights when challenged on his transparency and asked to release women who had made complaints in his workplace from their non-disclosure agreements. His answer– “I’ve said we’re not going to get — to end these agreements because they were made consensually and they have every right to expect that they will stay private”—was nonsense of the sort I particularly detest. No one who understands what a non-disclosure agreement is could respond to that with anything but, “Huh? How stupid do you think I am?” Bloomberg, however, was counting on the ignorance of the public.  Releasing  women from the deals they made doesn’t affect their privacy: if they don’t want to talk, they don’t have to. All it means is that they get to keep their hush money, and not lose it if they don’t hush.

Competent moderators would have and should have  pointed that out, but you know—Chuck Todd. NBC.

Bloomberg started out with deceit—“I knew what to do after 9/11 and brought the city back stronger than ever.”  He didn’t become mayor of New York until four full months after 9/11.  His performance went downhill from there. Anyone who got excited at the prospect of him being the nominee after last night needs to see a neurologist. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The ABC Pre-New Hampshire Primary Democratic Candidates Debate

I just spent 20 minutes or so trying to find a complete transcript of last night’s debate, and I failed. If I can find a link or someone sends me one, I might revisit the post, but probably not.

It was a dull and repetitive debate; I, at least, didn’t learn anything I hadn’t observed before.

  • Yang was irrelevant, occasionally making obsrevations a politician never would make, but too passive to stand out: he spoke about half as long as Joe Biden, and the moderators barely noticed him.
  • Steyer continued to concentrate on race-baiting and diversity virtue-signaling.
  • Warren, as usual, made promises of passing sweeping laws she knows are impossible.
  • Klobuchar is still playing the long game, holding her niche as closer to sane than anyone else in the field and hoping that centrist voters migrate to her once Joe Biden drops out.
  • Buttigieg employs his supposed prodigious intellect to appear to take multiple sides of issues simultaneously; how anyone who can remember Bill Clinton would be fooled by his act escapes me.  Chris Christie, now reduced too being a “contributor” to ABC, said after one of Pete’s answers, “My goodness, he uses more words to say nothing than anyone on that stage!”
  • Sanders repeats his socialist talking points relentlessly while using “climate” like priests use “God.” I want that transcript to check the number of times he did this last night.
  • Biden, as he did in the very first debate, has the stench of metaphorical death about him. Anyone serious and honest knew he wouldn’t make it from the day he announced he was running. Joe was never a viable Presidential candidate even when he was younger: too transparently dim-witted, too smarmy. Now, in addition to those features, he is enervated, washed out, seemingly on the verge of full-fledged dementia. As a group, the seven show how tragically devoid of talented aand compelling leaders of character and courage both parties are.

So this won’t be too long. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/31/2020: A Man’s Home Is His Box, And More…

Hello, Ethics Alarms, Good-bye January…

Between the nauseating impeachment charade and baseball’s cheating scandal (and the largely ethically ignorant commentary regarding it),  the bias of the mainsteam media reaching critical mass in episodes like this and the Don Lemon panel’s mean girls mockery of those dumber than dumb Trump supporters, mounting evidence that Democrats are going nuts based on the rise of a superannuated Communism fan in the race for the party’s Presidential nomination, and, of course, my wife doing a face-plant into some asphalt,  it was a not a happy 31 days at The House of Ethics.

Amazingly, it has been a very good month for the President, becoming the first POTUS to unequivocally endorse the anti-abortion movement by appearing at the March for Life, cutting a partial deal with China, ridding the world of Qasem Soleimani (and in doing so, prompting  his domestic foes, including the news media, to publicly sympathize with a terrorist and a nation that habitually calls for America’s destruction), releasing a Mid-East peace plan that is garnering support everywhere but from Iran, the Palestinians, and, of course, the U.S. media, and seeing economic figures so good even the New York Times has been forced to acknowledge them, all while being called every  name in the book and an existential threat to democracy on C-Span by the Democratic House impeachment managers.

1. “Dolemite Is My Name” We finally watched “Dolemite Is My Name,” (on Netflix), Eddie Murphy’s homage to comic Rudy Ray Moore and  his 70s Blaxploitation film “Dolemite.” So much for my proud claims of cultural literacy: I never heard of  Moore or his film, which is apparently a genre classic. Moore is regarded as the Father of Rap; how did I miss this for so long? Murphy’s movie tells the mostly true story about how a group of complete novices, led by Moore, made an exuberantly idiotic movie (faithful to Moore’s formula for success with black audiences: “Titties, funny, and Kung-Fu”) for $100,000 that grossed 10 million.

The movie is fun as a black version of “Ed Wood” (same screenwriters, I discovered later) and won some awards. For it to be make any 2019 Ten Best lists, however, is blatant race pandering by critics. Continue reading