The U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Affair

Captain Brett Crozier was the  commander of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt which had been docked in Guam following a Wuhan virus outbreak among the crew of more than 4,000. With about a hundred members of his crew infected, he decided to take the extraordinary step of sending a letter to the Navy pleading  for resources and to have the afflicted sailors quarantined from the rest. In the four-page letter sent via a “non-secure, unclassified” email that included at least “20 to 30” recipients in addition to the captain’s immediate chain of command, including some crew members.

Crozier wrote that only a small contingent of infected sailors had been off-boarded, with most of the crew remaining  on board the carrier, where following official guidelines for 14-day quarantines and social distancing was physically impossible. He wrote

“Due to a warship’s inherent limitations of space, we are not doing this. The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating…Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. … This is a necessary risk…We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors….Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”

Of course, the letter leaked to the press, and the situation became a news story and a subject of unwelcome controversy for the Navy. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly initially told CNN in response to questions about the appeal,

“I know that our command organization has been aware of this for about 24 hours and we have been working actually the last seven days to move those sailors off the ship and get them into accommodations in Guam. The problem is that Guam doesn’t have enough beds right now and we’re having to talk to the government there to see if we can get some hotel space, create tent-type facilities.”

Although the letter had the desired result, with members of the crew gradually being removed from the carrier, the Captain had broken the cardinal military rule never to go outside the chain of command. Crozier had multiple conversations with the chief of staff to Modly before his letter was publicized in the San Francisco Chronicle. The Navy had told Crozier to  “call us any time day or night,” and gave him  Modly’s personal cell phone number to update the situation and raise further concerns.

Then the e-mail leaked. Crozier was dismissed as captain by the acting Navy Secretary for what Modly called “extremely poor judgment,” going outside the chain of command, and  disseminating the memo over an unsecured system. President Trump backed his appointee’s unpopular decision. Continue reading

Pandemic Ethics Overflow, Including The Funniest Story So Far, And Newly Certified Big Lie #9

1. The funniest pandemic-related story comes out of Australia, and it goes in the “Scientific incompetence” files. Or maybe the “Sure, we should always trust the judgment of scientists” file. From The Guardian:

An Australian astrophysicist has been admitted to hospital after getting four magnets stuck up his nose in an attempt to invent a device that stops people touching their faces during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr Daniel Reardon, a research fellow at a Melbourne university, was building a necklace that sounds an alarm on facial contact, when the mishap occurred on Thursday night.

The 27 year-old astrophysicist, who studies pulsars and gravitational waves, said he was trying to liven up the boredom of self-isolation with the four powerful neodymium magnets….“I had a part that detects magnetic fields. I thought that if I built a circuit that could detect the magnetic field, and we wore magnets on our wrists, then it could set off an alarm if you brought it too close to your face…

So he made millions of people around the world slap their foreheads in amazement.

2. About those idiots who drank the fish tank cleaner: The emerging facts, after so many headlines blamed the husband’s death on the President’s misinformation, show this was more fake news. The Arizona woman who said that she and her 68-year-old husband ingested a substance used to clean fish tanks after hearing President Donald Trump enthuse about the potential value of chloroquine (but not fish tank ccleaner constaining the chemical)  as a cure for the Wuhan Virus is a Democrats, opposes Trump, and has given thousands of dollars to Democratic groups and candidates over the last two years. In late February, she gave to a Democratic PAC, the 314 Action Fund, that is part of the  “pro-science resistance.”It has even used the death of her husband to attack the White House.

Now the surviving fish tank-cleaner gourmet admits that she and her husband were both Democrats, not Trump supporters. But she  told NBC News that she took the fish tank cleaner to follow Trump’s advice.  “We saw Trump on TV—every channel—and all of his buddies and that this was safe,” she said last week. “Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.” Naturally, nobody checked her story: it was too good an opportunity to get Trump.

Now the women admits that she heard about the potential benefits of chloroquine, an antimalarial drug, in news reports, and decided at the “spur of the moment” to try  it “We weren’t big supporters of [Trump], but we did see that they were using it in China and stuff,” Wanda told the Free Beacon. “And we just made a horrible, tragic mistake,” she said. “It was stupid, and it was horrible, and we should have never done it. But it’s done and now I’ve lost my husband….We didn’t think it would kill us. We thought if anything it would help us ‘cus that’s what we’ve been hearing on the news.”

But at least she was able to spin the story so the  the news media would falsely say that the President was responsible for them drinking fish tank cleaner, so it wasn’t a total loss. Continue reading

We Must Defend To The Death The Rights Of A Minister To State His Interpretation of The Bible And Current Events. And The President Should Fire This Idiot, NOW [CORRECTED]

“This is the type and kind of person Trump surrounds himself with, in this case the President’s Cabinet Bible teacher,” writes perhaps the most hopelessly Trump Deranged of all my Facebook friends after linking to this nauseating story.

Of course, when a Presidential appointee or staff member expresses in public something as achingly stupid and gratuitously offensive as what Rev. Ralph Drollinger did, he is metaphorically holding his patron’s face up to foes and saying, “Hit this!”

Dollinger’s Pat Roberston nostalgia-fest came in a blog post titled, “Is God Judging America Today?” in which he blames the Wuhan virus pandemic on several groups, including those who have “a proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality.”

America “is experiencing the consequential wrath of God,”  the good reverend wrote on March 21 in his Capitol Ministries blog.  In addition to gays and lesbians, Drollingerlaid blame on people with “depraved minds,” environmentalists, and those who deny the existence of God. As a result, what we are now experiencing is “God’s wrath.”

Good to know. 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

How The Beautiful People Hate It When The King’s Pass Is Revoked! The Caroline Baumann Saga

Baumann and “the dress.”

Rationalization #11, The King’s Pass or The Star Syndrome, is more than a rationalization. For America’s celebrities, star performers and elite athletes, the super-wealthy and the politically powerful, it is a way of life. From the description on the Rationalizations List: “Celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.”

Most of the time, however, the King’s Pass is not rejected, and as long as the miscreant involved hasn’t dared to wind up on the wrong side of a political divide, his or her fellow “kings” will make the biggest stink since the skunk factory exploded when one of the elite club is forced to tow the lines drawn for their inferiors.

Two weeks ago, Carolyn Baumann was forced to resign as the director of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in Manhattan after a government  investigation found that she had engaged in conduct connected to her wedding that made inappropriate use of her position for personal  benefit. The Smithsonian’s inspector general had looked into irregularities regarding the procurement of her wedding  dress and the wedding space after a complaint was made by a museum staff member, and didn’t like what he found. Continue reading

Late Sunday Ethics Dump, 2/9/2020: Firings, Voting, A Holiday Swap, And Chris Matthews Breaks Ranks

I can’t believe I’m writing this at 8:30 pm.

(Who knows when I will finish it..)

No, I’m not watching the Oscars, because one political remark—we have been warned that Obama and Clinton speechwriter are ghostwriting winners’ acceptance speeches—might send me into the streets with a machete. Grace is still in a lot of pain and depressed in the aftermath of her fall  17 days, two hours and six minutes ago (the bouquet from the Ethics Alarms Commentariat is still beautiful); believe it or not, the Christmas tree is still not completely undecorated because I’ve been doing it, alone, in five minute increments, and really am in mortal fear that a drooling hoard of the Walking Trump Deranged will burst through the windows any minute now based on the crazy things I’m reading on social media. I believe that I have never lived through a period when so many smart people were expressing such astoundingly stupid assertions.

But the delayed Mookie Betts trade with the Dodgers finally got straightened out, so there’s that…

1.  On the topic of stupid positions adopted by smart people. Naturally, Trump Derangement is the culprit. All these people caterwauling about the President firing Lt. Col. Vinderman, his twin brother, and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in the aftermath of the impeachment trial have forgotten whatever they once knew about management, common sense, and accountability.

“This shows this President’s respect for TRUTH!” wrote one temporarily–I hope–lobotomized friend. Wow. This isn’t especially complicated. Once a President no longer trusts a subordinate, he not only is justified in firing him or her, he has to, or he is incompetent and naive. It doesn’t matter if the distrust is justified, either. If the subordinate or appointee has shifty eyes, or seems evasive in his answers, that’s enough. No President in our history has been so routinely betrayed and undermined by leakers, partisan moles and Deep State vigilantes. Continue reading