12/2/2019 Ethics Update, So I’m Not One Day Behind Forever: Hospital Stay Observations, And Other Things

I’m not going to make a habit of it, but today I’m doing a second short form post. First, I’m backed up, thanks to losing a day; second, There was no warm-up for this date, since I posted yesterday’s overview this afternoon; third, I’m not feeling so hot, after all the tests, anxiety, and no sleep at all.

1. Hospital items.

  • What’s the ethical way to handle people like this? My night nurse, whom I saw a LOT of and who was terrific, saw me watching “Jurassic Park III” on the hospital room TV and commented that she loved dinosaurs. Then she said that it must have been hard for the people living in caves to survive with all the raptors running around, and that it was a good thing the Great Flood killed the dinos off.

In the past, I have tried to explain—nicely—that this kind of fake natural history is nonsense and impossible in too many ways to count, discussed the timeline and the fossil record, and tried to bring them into something approaching enlightenment. This has never done any good at all if my audience was over 30, and usually just made them angry and convinced that  I’m the idiot as well as a pagan.

Yet ignorance is a social disease, especially this particular variety. I don’t think it’s responsible or kind  to enable the spread of misinformation.

  • That picture above is part of the NIH stroke protocol, which I now know by heart having been subjected to it several times. When was it drawn, 1958?

Could it be more gender stereotyped?

  • About half the hospital personnel under 35 had unpronounceable foreign names, recalling this article which I read last week, Once upon a time, immigrants coming to the U.S. wanted to have American-sounding names. It signaled a desire to commit to the culture, just like learning the language and adopting American values. My mother’s bothers and sister had Greek first names, but outside the home the family used the Anglicized versions of them. My mother was Helena, and called herself Eleanor.

This was, culturally, a much healthier tradition than what we have now—unifying, respectful, responsible. I see ostentatiously foreign-sounding names as defiant, and signaling a determination to avoid assimilation, to enjoy the rights and privileges here, without fully committing to them. I definitely regard any problems and inconvenience resulting from keeping the names Ngongsa or Ijeoma entirely self-inflicted. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Dinner Ethics Appetizers, 11/28/2019: Boing Boing, Boeing, And Bears In The Woods

Have a gentle, loving Thanksgiving, everyone.

And thanks so much for visiting and participating.

Tangential question: Does anyone watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade any more, with the lip synced musical numbers in the street, the inflatable balloons of anciet cartoon characters, the floats that are virtually identical every year, and the phony blather from the B-level celebrities in the booth? Isn’t this spectacle now something that people watch out habit, like the Miss America pageant, “Peanuts” holiday specials and the Oscars, even though it has the entertainment value of styrofoam?

1. Tucker Carlson endorses the Julie Principle! Last night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson made the shocking statement that President Trump has been less than truthful with the American people.

“We’re not gonna lie to you, that was untrue,” Carlson said. “The crowd at the 2017 inauguration was not the largest ever measured at the National Mall. Sorry, it wasn’t. Why did the president claim that it was? Well, because that’s who he is. Donald Trump is a salesman, he’s a talker, a boaster, a booster, a compulsive self-promoter. At times he’s a full-blown BS artist.”

Observations:

  • NOW Carlson is enlightening us about this? Every sentient being knew this about Donald Trump ten years ago, before the Presidency was a twinkle in his eye.
  • Has there ever been an irrelevant fabrication by any U.S. President as harped upon incessantly by critics and the media as Trump’s silly claims about his inauguration crowd?
  •  The Washington Post, aping the New York Times, manufactured another one of those compilations of Trump “lies.” As of last month, the Post says, Trump had told over 13,000 false or misleading statements since taking office, including, of course, including the Inauguration boast. If I didn’t have a sock drawer crisis to deal with, I’m sure I would find that at least a third of those “lies” are in fact nothing of the sort, but mistakes, off-the-cuff exaggerations, and obvious puffery, as in, “Trump said X was ‘the —-est,’ but Y is actually  —-er.”
  • Here is what I wrote almost exactly three years ago, before that Inauguration, in a post called, “Trump, His Critics, and The Julie Principle”:

Yesterday, many, not several but many, of my Angry Left Facebook friends posted links to stories attacking Trump’s silly tweet about him really winning the popular vote and there being millions of fraudulent votes for Hillary Clinton. “Is he going to do this sort of thing his entire administration?” one friend asked.

YES! YES HE IS! OF COURSE HE IS! DON’T YOU KNOW THIS ALREADY? ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO FLIP OUT AT EVERY SINGLE  INSTANCE WHEN TRUMP SAYS OR TWEETS SOMETHING STUPID LIKE THIS?

If so, then you are going to go nuts, and you will just become irrelevant and annoying.

Which, of course, they have. Including the Post and Tucker Carlson. Continue reading

Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ethics Wrap-Up, 11/27/2019

Be thankful tomorrow, everybody.

There’s always something…

1. On unethical misleading language, Part A: Today’s “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias” note: I was suddenly struck after reading one, two, three, four impeachment-related stories in a row in four separate news sources that they all used the phrase “dirt on Joe Biden.” Isn’t that strange? “Dirt” isn’t a description, it’s a characterization, and a deliberately  pejorative one that assumes that Biden is a victim of a dastardly action. It’s widespread use is one more smoking gun that demonstrates mainstream media bias aimed at smearing President Trump. The term “dirt” presupposes that if the President sought to persuade the Ukraine to aid the U.S. in an investigation, something it is obligated by treaty to do, it was only to assist his re-election chances. When the term “dirt” has been used in conjunction with a politition seeking damning information on Bill Clinton, either George Bush, or Trump himslef, it was always in the context of an election campaign. Few wrote that the Mueller investigation was a “dirt” seeking operation (though in truth it was). But it’s always “dirt on Joe Biden” that the Ukraine was allegedly asked/forced/extorted into looking for. When Jeffrey Epstein was being investigated, nobody said the FBI was seeking to smear him with “dirt,” because news sources accepted that an investigation was appropriate.

Yet there are many reasons and strong evidence suggesting that an investigation of Joe Biden’s alleged machinations to benefit his son by abusing his office and misusing his influence was (and is) also appropriate. The United States should not just shrug off corruption in its highest offices because a complicit individual is running for President, but that is the thrust of the current impeachment push by House Democrats. For the media to intentionally choose terminology—and slang, which is usually not in a newspaper style-book— to lead readers away from the argument that an investigation of Joe Biden was necessary and valid whether he was running for President or not shows a disturbing disinterest in fair reporting, and a preference for anti-Trump propaganda. Continue reading

Observations On The Latest Democratic Candidate’s Debate

1. The futile, meandering, preaching to the choir debate this week, played against the backdrop of the Democratic Party’s disastrous impeachment hearings, should have made the purpose of the latter clear as crystal for anyone not in denial.

The hearings, like Mueller’s unprofessional and unethical statements after his report was submitted, are designed to “soften” up the President and wound him before the campaign, so he can be bested by one of the stunningly weak options the party has gathered for itself.

This is a misuse of the impeachment process, and was devised as one long, long ago. Thus Rep. Al Green admitted last week that impeaching Trump has been his long-time quest. And Atty. General Barr, to his great credit, made the soft coup plot explicit in his recent speech, saying,

“Unfortunately through the past few years we have seen these conflicts take on an entirely new character. Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called ‘The Resistance’ and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver to sabotage the functioning of the executive branch and his administration. The fact of the matter is: that in waging a scorched earth, no holds-barred war of resistance against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in the systemic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law. . .

“This is a very dangerous and indeed incendiary notion to import into the politics of a Democratic republic. The fact is, that, yes, while the president has certainly thrown out the traditional beltway playbook and punctilio, he was upfront about what he was going to do and the people decided that he was going to serve as president.”

The discussion of Barr’s speech (and Prof. Turley’s misguided criticism of it) in the Open Forum was excellent. Had I been get to a keyboard, Barr would have received an Ethical Quote Of The Week honor. He articulated exactly what Ethics Alarms identified as the undemocratic process under way since the first “Not My President!” protests, when the “Resistance” disgraced their ideology and our history. Barr didn’t mention it, but Hillary Clinton has explicitly said that she considered herself a member of “the resistance.” The defeated opponent of a legally elected President of the United States has allied herself with a movement to erase the results of the election that defeated her by any means possible—and now so has her party.

And may I say, the FOOLS. You can’t trust polls, but the indications are that, as expected by the non-Trump deranged, the impeachment charade has hardened support for the President and public resentment of Democrats.

The transcript is here.

2. Also in the Fools category: continuing to have a mob on stage for a “debate.” Twelve is far too many people to have a useful or coherent debate, or even whatever these things are.

3. MSNBC talking heads should not be permitted to moderate these things. The bias was so thick you could hardly see the stage. The moderators carefully set out not to ask  questions that would make the candidates have to thread any policy needles. Where were questions about whether teachers and professors should be dismissed for using “the N-word” to discuss “the N-word”? What is the position of these candidates on censoring speech?

Why weren’t the candidates asked to explain why the large number of children detained “in cages” by the Obama administration, as revealed again when Obama’s 2015 statistics were falsely publicized this week as Trump administration counts,  didn’t trigger any outrage at all in their party, and now its mentioned as groundz for impeachment? Why weren’t they asked to explain what their solution is be to  waves of children being used as sympathy-drawing pawns by illegal immigrants?

How about, “Beto O’Rourke recently withdrew from the race. He had received criticism for openly admitting that he favored gun confiscation. What is your position on gun confiscation, especially in light of the recent news that New Zealand’s efforts have fallen far short of what the nation expected?”

Instead, we got Rachel Maddow asking Elizabeth Warren  if she  would she try to convince other Senators to convict President Trump in a Senate impeachment trial.

Indeed, the whole night was disproportionately devoted to Trump-bashing, as if this would distinguish any candidate from another.

4. As Joe Biden appears more and more of a liability, doesn’t the claim that President Trump was only seeking an investigation of the ex-VP to eliminate a feared rival for his office look like more and more of a contrivance? Why wouldn’t Trump want to run against this boob?

Defending his record with black voters during the debate, Joe Biden called Sen. Carol Moseley Braun the “only” black female Senator (she was the first), and invoked her name like being endorsed by Braun is a badge of honor. Braun was clumsily corrupt; only the fact that Bill Clinton was pulling the strings of the Justice Department stopped her from being indicted.  A 1993 Federal Election Commission investigation found that she never accounted for  $249,000 in campaign funds. The IRS twice requested that the the Justice Department investigate her further, but it refused. After all, you couldn’t have the “first black President” turning on the first black woman Senator. Continue reading

Saturday Leftover Ethics Candy, 11/2/19: The Spy In My Hotel Room, And Other Scary Tales

Yum.

1. OK, I want to see all of the Facebook trolls who mock every single careless or foolish thing President Trump has ever said to be fair and consistent, and make an appropriately big deal over this astounding quote from the Governor of New York:

“[A]nyone who questions extreme weather and climate change is just delusional at this point. We have seen in the State of New York and we have seen — it is something we never had before. We didn’t have hurricanes or super storms or tornadoes,.”

Now, I’m relatively certain Cuomo doesn’t really mean that New York never had  big storms before the climate started warming, but the President’s critics in social media and the mainstream media never give him the benefit of the doubt, because they just know he’s an idiot…or lying.

In related news of the media double standard and its bash-Trump obsession, this article was given a three-column spread on the New York Times front page: “The ‘Whimpering’ Terrorist Only Trump Seems to Have Heard.” It is a breathless report of the results of a Times investigation into whether ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi really was wimpering, crying and screaming before he was killed by U.S. forces, as President Trump colorfully told the nation.

Let me be blunt: I..Don’t…Care.

Do you? This is like a fish story; it’s a non-material, unimportant fib at worst. Putting such a story on the front page is an exposé all right: it exposes the Times’ complete loss of all perspective regarding the President.

2. AI ethics. As my wife and I were checking out of our New Jersey shore hotel this week, I noticed an Alexa on the desk. Does that mean that our wild midnight orgy with the Mariachi band, the transexual synchronized swimming team and the goats was recorded and relayed to the Dark Web. I don’t know.  A hotel has an obligation to inform guests that these potential spies and future SkyNet participants are  in their rooms, and guest should have the option to say, as I would have, “Get that thing out of there!” Continue reading

Friday Night Ethics Lights, 10/25/2019: Signs Of The Coming Apocalypse?

Good Evening!

1. More evidence of ethics rot and educational malpractice at Harvard. The Harvard Crimson covered an “Abolish ICE” protest on its campus last month. The fact that the supposedly most prestigious college in the nation would have something as idiotic as an anti-ICE protest attended by more than a few unfortunates with closed head injuries is troubling enough, but behold:   student activists attacked  the daily student-run paper  for “cultural insensitivity” and of “blatantly endangering undocumented students on campus.” because it contacted the immigration enforcement agency for comment after the protest had ended.

The Horror.

Now hundreds of America’s alleged best and brightest have signed a petition demanding that the newspaper operate as if ICE didn’t exist.

 Crimson editors Angela N. Fu and Kristine E. Guillaume defended its practices  in the paper this week, protesting that asking for comment is a standard journalism device, arguing in part, “We seek to follow a commonly accepted set of journalistic standards, similar to those followed by professional news organizations big and small. Foremost among those standards is the belief that every party named in a story has a right to comment or contest criticism leveled against them.”

Forget it, Angela and Kristine. You’re supposed to be partisan activists, like the mainstream media.

Ethics experts from the Student Press Law Center and the Society of Professional Journalists supported the Crimson, citing the  SPJ’s Code of Ethics. That’s nice, although I would call the gesture “lip service.”

2. SkyNet is listening. Because of loopholes in their security software, hackers can use  Amazon Alexa and Google Home virtual assistants to eavesdrop on user conversations without their knowledge, and even trick users into handing over sensitive information.

Gee-what-a-surprise….

For once, the American Bar Association got comparatively ahead of looming legal ethics risks created by developing technology by issuing a resolution in August urging bar associations and the legal profession to develop guidelines addressing the risks posed by attorney use of artificial intelligence. It’s a long document, undoubtedly missing many issues on the horizon, and regarding those personal assistants, it lacks an essential sentence: “Don’t let those things get within ten miles of your legal work.” Continue reading

Three Reasons Why We Can’t Have An Honest And informative Debate About Immigration Policy

 

You already know Reason 1: both sides of the issue have resorted to the lowest level of debate, appealing to fear, name-calling and emotion as a substitute for general principles of law, ethics and common sense. The pro-illegal immigration forces engage in cynical sentimentality, romanticizing of law-breakers, and false characterizations in order to demonize principled opponents of open-boarders (Hate! Racists! Xenophobes! Children in cages!) Those who believe immigration laws must be enforced resort to fear-mongering, stereotyping illegal immigrants as disproportionately populated by dangerous gang members, felons, killers and rapists.

Reason 2: Nobody reads all the data, and few are interested in the factsA 2016 report by the National Academies of Science (NAS), a generally progressive-biased but fair and non-political organization, since this is the tilt of academics generally,estimated that the cost to American workers. For example, on page 171 of its September 2016 report, the researchers  suggested that immigration, legal and illegal, imposes a 5.2 percent income tax on Americans:

Immigrant labor accounts for 16.5 percent of the total number of hours worked in the United States, which . . . implies that the current stock of immigrants lowered [Americans’] wages by 5.2 percent.

NAS panel member George Borjas, a Harvard economist, calculated the value of the tax at $500 billion a year. The NAS also found that immigrants (legal and illegal) currently create a net fiscal deficit (taxes paid minus services used) that is as large as or larger than the economic benefit to the nation. The immigrants themselves do benefit by coming here. Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, said at the time the study was released, Continue reading