Mid-Day Ethics Mitigations, 9/8/2020: Flip-Flops, Trust, China, And Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah [Corrected]

1. Stipulated: President Trump contradicts himself, misrepresents facts and exaggerates routinely. But how can Biden supporters use that as their rationalization? Biden and Kamala Harris repeatedly promised to ban fracking during the primaries; now, campaigning in Pennsylvania where fracking means jobs and business, both are suddenly pro-fracking.

On August 13, Biden said that he would call for a nationwide face mask mandate. “Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months, at a minimum,” Biden said . “Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives.” Kamala Harris, like Biden a lawyer, agreed. “That’s what real leadership looks like,” Harris said. “We just witnessed real leadership. Which is Joe Biden said that as a nation, we should all be wearing a mask for the next three months, because it will save lives.”

Biden reiterated his vow in his acceptance speech on the final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. “We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask — not as a burden, but to protect each other,” Biden said on August 20. “It’s a patriotic duty.” Of course, any second year law student and probably some astute college freshmen could have told the Democratic ticket that the government can’t require citizens to wear anything, and that the two were talking Constitutional nonsense aimed at the Bill of Rights-challenged members of the Democratic base, which is most of it.

Then over the weekend,  Biden admitted that his mask edict would probably be unconstitutional. “Here’s the deal, the federal government…there’s a constitutional issue whether the federal government could issue such a mandate, I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate,” Biden said.

Didn’t he and Harris already know this? If not why not; in fact, why the HELL not? Why wasn’t the news media “factchecking” Biden when he made a manifestly impossible pledge?

There is no advantage or ethical superiority in saying things that are untrue some of the time as opposed to doing it more often. Any politician who shows a lack of integrity, whose words can’t be relied upon and who changes his supposed views depending on what audience is listening to him or her is untrustworthy, and untrustworthy is untrustworthy. You are either worthy, or you’re not. Two instances like the fracking and mask reversals are enough to know Biden and Harris are not candidates who mean what they say. (You should have figured that out already, though.)

And, of course, sometimes if they DO mean what they say, it’s disturbing. Continue reading

Wednesday Ethics, 9/2/2020: Faking Here, Faking There, Faking, Faking Everywhere!

Good Wednesday!

It will probably not surprise you to learn that I have been a huge Charles Addams fan since I was a child, when I borrowed every one of  his collections from the Arlington Public Library. My two favorites, I think: the unicorns on a rock gazing sadly after the Ark as it floats away in the rain, and the butchers and his sons being attacked by links of sausages, mirroring the famous statue of Laocoön and his sons being devoured by serpents.

Laocoön’s fate is an ethics fable: Troy’s priest tried to warn the Trojans that the huge wooden horse was a trap, but instead of heeding his warning, the Trojans, having convinced themselves that the thing was a gift from the gods, assumed that the priest and his sons had been killed because the warning was blasphemy. In truth, the serpents had been sent by Poseidon, who was rooting for the Greeks all along. Historian Barbara Tuchman used the story of Laocoön in her book “The March of Folly,” a frequent topic on Ethics Alarms.

I was just depressed to discover, as I searched for a picture of Wednesday online, that the one above is only one of two out of hundreds that were genuine Addams drawings of her. What does that tell us?

1. More manipulated media. Yes, Twitter should flag these sorts of deceptions as long as they are non-partisan about it. In addition to the Steve Scalise fake I wrote about here, Twitter pointed out two more, also from the Republicans. White House social media director Dan Scavino posted a 2011 Joe Biden interview from California-news outlet KBAK that was altered to make it falsely appear as if Biden had fallen asleep—“Sleepy Joe,” get it? The fake was pointed out by John Dabkovitch, KBAK’s co-anchor at the time, who noted that the interview was actually with singer Harry Belafonte, not Biden. (I always get those two mixed up too.)

Then the Twitter account @TrumpWarRoom, which is the Trump campaign, posted a tweet that lifted Biden’s words out of context so it seems like Joe said “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” when he was quoting what Trump was suggesting in his remarks.

Like the Scalise tweet, both of these are embarrassingly stupid, and mandate firings. How can anyone tolerate a social media director who does something like this? He probably cheated on his SATs…[Pointer: valkygrrl]

2. I hereby volunteer to be the President’s 24-7 Ethics-sitter this kind of  stuff  doesn’t happen.... During his visit to peaceful protest-ravaged Kenosha,  the President wanted to have a photo op in front of the century-old Rode’s Camera Shop, which was peacefully burned out a week ago. The owner, Tom Gram, is not a fan, however, and he declined President Trump’s request to participate in the damage tour yesterday.  So the Trump flacks tracked down the previous owner and descendant of the original owners. He sold the shop eight years ago to Gram, yet President Trump  introduced him as “John Rode III, owner of Rode’s Camera Shop.” Rode went on to praise the President. Rode does own the property where the camera shop had been. [Again, pointer: valkygrrl]

3. Why do they keep doing this? First it was the Mayor of Chicago who violated her own pandemic edicts to have her hair done, and now it’s Nancy Pelosi, caught below at a salon, maskless…

…(“You must wear your mask!” she commanded Americans earlier last month) as she sought beautification at a San Francisco hair salon  this week despite local ordinances keeping salons closed. This is hypocrisy and entitled behavior, plus “laws are for the little people,” personified. Continue reading

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

Saturday Ethics Depression, 8/8/2020: Irresponsible Parents, Irresponsible Voters, Irresponsible Troll-Makers

This is my state of mind today.

I began today driving for two hours to find a meeting for which I had been given the wrong address, and, like the fool that I have always been, didn’t bring along the phone number of anyone who could help me. It is during ordeals like this that I begin to reflect on what a failure and underachiever I am, and how I really don’t have enough time left for turnaround. All that privilege,  and good fortune, wasted. And I have no one to blame but myself.

Then I had to write about the stuff you’ll find below, and I got really depressed.

1. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias, and why aren’t you agreeing with what I say?” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got angry when PBS NewsHour” anchor Judy Woodruff dared to ask a question that cahllenged the Democratic Party position in dispute with Republicans on over the content of a “Phase 4” Wuhan Virus aid bill.

When Woodruff asked Pelosi about the “flexibility” GOP lawmakers are showing in terms of allocating more money for state and local governments, as well as Republican arguments that “much of the money” allocated in the CARES Act “has not even been spent yet,” Pelosi snapped,  “Well, if you want to be an advocate for them, Judy, if you want to be an advocate for them, listen to what the facts are.”

In other word, “Hey! You’re supposed to be on our side!”

Actually, ethical journalists are not supposed to be on anyone’s side, but that quaint ethics  concept has been abandoned by virtually all journalists, including  Woodruff.

“I’m playing devil’s advocate here,!” Woodruff protested. You know, the devil, Republicans—same thing!

2. Better yet, don’t ride the subway! Here is a Wuhan virus safety sign from the New York City subways.

In addition to telling people they should wear masks, it goes to the next level and wants people to avoid interacting at all. This is incompetent messaging and  shows a basic misunderstanding of humans in general and American in particular. It also makes me suspicious: Big Brother is still working to make as all compliant automaton. If we can’t talk, we can’t resist.

It reminds me of the early “don’t touch you face!” warnings. People touch their face thousands of times a day. That message made me skeptical of all the advice from “experts” and governments, and indeed, you hardly hear it any more.

Social interaction is essential to life. Continue reading

Fire These Free Speech-Chilling School Administrators

Hannah Watters, a sophomore at North Paulding High School outside Atlanta, took a cell phone photo of her school’s crowded  hallways showing few students wearing masks.  She posted it to social media, and the school suspended her.
Then Hannah’s mother, Lynne Watters, spoke with the school’s principal by phone. The school immediately backed down, and said her daughter  would not be suspended, nor would a suspension  appear on her daughter’s record. That’s nice, but it’s too late. You can’t undue blatant intimidation designed to crush basic rights. The fact that she would be suspended at all, regardless of how long, because the school was embarrassed by its own conduct shows an administration that will abuse its power to cover up its incompetence.

Time to clean house. Fire them all. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/7/2020: Writing The Morning Warm-Up While In A Foul Mood Is Like Grocery Shopping When You’re Hungry..

In other words, a bad idea…but I don’t have much choice.

1. Let’s see if talking about two ethics movies helps. In honor of Wilfred Brimley’s death last week, I watched “Absence of Malice” from the beginning for the first time in decades. The film is shockingly relevant. It deftly exposes both the culture behind unethical journalism and the abuse of government investigations, and in both cases the arrogant “the ends justify the means” mentality that infects both professions at fault. I venture that it is impossible to see the movie now and not think about Mike Flynn, the Times and CNN, fake news, the Russian collusion investigation, Adam Schiff  and the weaponization of leaks.

The main difference between the movie and what we have watched in real life over the last nearly four years is scope: “Absence of Malice” is about a local investigation, and there is an implication that what we see isn’t typical, but a single instance of a system going wrong because of a couple of “bad apples.” Now we know, or should, that the film was a harbinger of things to come.

All of the ethics points are made the Assistant US Attorney General James Wells, played by Brimley, when he gathers the involved parties at a courthouse in the movie’s climax. The whole scene isn’t on YouTube, which is too bad, but two of Brimley’s speeches stand out:

To the ambitious and arrogant reporter played by Sally Field:

“You know and I know that we can’t tell you what to print, or what not to. We  hope the press will act responsibly. But when you don’t, there ain’t a lot we can do about it.”

And referring to his subordinate, an ambitious and arrogant prosecutor played by Bob Balaban:

“We can’t have people go around leaking stuff for their own reasons. It ain’t legal. And worse than that, by God it ain’t right.”

The other ethics film I watched was “Hondo,” a John Wayne movie based on a Louie L’amour novel. Somehow I had missed it, even though I have seen almost all of Wayne’s “A” films, and quite a few of his “B” and “C” efforts as well. “Hondo” was a product of Wayne’s own production company. There are ethics themes in many Wayne movies, but perhaps this one qualifies more than the rest as an ethics film.

The movie has honesty and integrity as its main themes, and is especially interesting in the light of efforts by the cancel mob to paint Wayne as a racist. In “Hondo,” he plays a wandering gun-fighter who is part Indian, and whose respect for the tribes and sympathy for their plight in America is palpable. It’s an excellent and thought-provoking film; picking the Duke’s top ten is impossible, but “Hondo” is easily in his top 20.

2. The awful Senator Hirono. Hawaii Senator Maizie Hirono repeatedly refused to specifically condemn Antifa, retreating to “all violent extremists are bad” rhetoric. She ultimately walked out of Senator Ted Cruz’s hearing on “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence” after he asked her to clarify whether she included Antifa in her definition of violent extremists. She refused, and then walked out of the hearing, taking six other Senators with her, and for the life of me I can’t find out their names because our news media is hopeless.

3. More on Cruz: Senator Cruz’s statement on Black Lives Matter during his hearing warrants circulation, and I’d love to hear all the lazy and craven Black Lives Matter shills respond to his points. He said this after Hirono said that “Defund the police” wasn’t intended literally:

What else does BLM the organization support? On its website it is called for a “boycott of white capitalism.” In 2017, they called on people not to spend any money with white corporations. And not only that, the BLM website says that one of their objective is dismantling the “patriarchal practices and disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family.” That’s what they say their objectives are. Now the reason that matters is right now corporate America is desperate to demonstrate their virtue as we see great racial dissension.

So Black Lives Matter, BLM the group, raises money on ActBlue, the fundraising mechanism for virtually every elected Democrat in Congress. Among the donors to BLM the organization, according to public reports, include the company Ubisoft, which has given between $50,000 and $100,000. DoorDash, which has given reportedly $500,000. Amazon, which has given an unidentified portion of $10 million. Gatorade, which has given an unidentified portion of $500,000. Nabisco, which has given an unidentified portion of $500,000. Deckers, which has given an unidentified portion of $500,000. Microsoft, which has given $250,000. Dropbox, which has given $500,000 and Fitbit, which the amount given is not identified.

I would note Microsoft, the largest individual shareholder is Bill Gates. It’s more than ironic that Microsoft is funding an organization calling for boycotting all white corporations. Bill Gates is white. Microsoft is literally funding an organization calling for Microsoft to be defunded. Jeff Bezos, the largest owner of Amazon, who likewise is funding this radical Marxist group. Jeff Bezos is white too. And he’s funding an organization that is calling for the boycotting of Amazon.

This is dangerous and it’s worth understanding that when corporate America floods millions of dollars into explicitly Marxist terrorist organizations that glorify cop killers, that glorify violence, that the violence and terrorism that flows from that should not be surprising.

Bingo. Continue reading

Nice Try, Charley…But You Still Struck Out

I usually skip the New York Times Sunday Review section now. By mid-2017, it had become so partisan and such a nest of rabid Trump Derangement that it was not unusual for 75% of the content to consist of anti-Trump screeds. I finally got bored with it; the stuff was predictable and too often completely bats. If I read it at all, I did so to check how fanatically the Times was supporting the various coup efforts.

Charlie Warzel is one of the less hateful of the Times op-ed writers, though based on his Ethics Alarms file he is also one of most juvenile. He was the author of a New York Times editorial  titled “Open States, Lots of Guns. America Is Paying a Heavy Price for Freedom,” or in my print edition, “Will We Get Used To The Dying?” that I had fun shredding—it wasn’t hardhere. I was curious to see if he’s gotten any better since May in his Wuhan virus hysteria. His title seemed promising:  “How to Actually Talk to Anti-Maskers: You cannot force public trust; you have to earn it.”

I think “anti-maskers” are jerks. It is still unclear to me how much good masks do, and the information from the “experts” has been inconsistent. I still see no reason to wear the things outside when nobody is going to come within ten feet of you, and I don’t. However, the ethical reasons to wear them are still valid:

  • They might make a difference.
  • Wearing them demonstrates good will and that one is trying to be responsible.
  • It places those at enhanced risk at ease.
  • It can’t hurt. The recent claim of Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) that his mask probably infected him was spectacularly dishonest and irresponsible, but you know, that’s Louie.

I also regard fanatic pro-mask hysterics as ridiculous and will say so when pressed.

However, I was interested to see if Charlie, having gotten himself on the Ethics Alarms Naughty List with his previous screed about the pandemic, would redeem himself. For writing op-eds is all about trust too: if I know you shade the facts, omit relevant information, engage in bias and cheat in your logic, I really don’t care what your opinion is. It’s not worth reading.

Charlie begins with an anecdote about how health officials gained the trust of the public in Senegal during an Ebola outbreak. OK—as long as the idea is to make a point about trust. Ebola isn’t the Wuhan virus, and the United States’ culture isn’t remotely like Senegal’s. Then he writes,

Taiwan is welcoming baseball fans back into stadiums. As of June, more than 20 other countries have begun the process of bringing children back to school. Thailand, a country of 70 million, hasn’t had an instance of local coronavirus transmission in seven weeks, as of last Thursday. And yet Americans are staring down nearly 150,000 virus deaths while governors and health officials pleading with citizens to wear masks are starting to sound like substitute teachers who’ve lost control of the classroom.

One indicator of how bad things are: Last week, Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious-disease doctor, felt compelled to reassure his audience during an online talk, “You can trust respected medical authorities.” He added, “I believe I’m one of them, so I think you can trust me.”

Ah! So Charlie trusts Dr. Fauci on the topic of masks., and thinks we should to. And my immediate reaction to this is.. Continue reading

Waning Sunday Ethics Embers, 7/26/2020: Madness! Hopeless! Stupid! And…Inspiring! [Corrected]

1. I don’t understand this behavior at all. Who are being more irrational and anti-social, the fanatic mask police, or the renegade maskless? Clearly the latter.  Take this story, for example :near El Paso, Texas, customers retaliated after they were asked to put their face masks on inside Dapper Doughnuts at the Fountains at Farah. Surveillance footage shows an unmasked  couple  arguing with Dapper Doughnut staff, then throwing a box of doughnuts at the woman for asking them to comply with the City of El Paso’s mandate that anyone over the age of two must  wear face masks inside public buildings or public outdoors spaces if social distancing is not an option. Sure, I think it’s quite possible that we’ll eventually learn that the whole mask fiasco was hooey, but, 1) if it makes others feel safer, fine, and 2) a business has every right to require them. There is no ethical argument for not wearing masks around others in public, and absolutely no excuse for throwing tantrums over it.

Yet I am reading about this kind of incident virtually every day.

In the silliness above, the people who snapped like twigs in the wind demanded a refund—for the doughnuts they threw away?—and when that demand was refused, they stole the change mug.

2. Unfortunately, I don’t have a clip of someone saying, “Hopeless! Hopeless!” Polls on the Presidential race have now reached maximum absurdity. In the same day, last week, I saw one poll showing Trump behind Biden by 12 points, and another one with him within two. When the “science” is that unreliable, it’s time to stop feauring polls as “news.” You might as well interview psychic. The news sources, naturally, treat whichever poll they want to be true, as true.

However, until Joe Biden comes out of hiding, gets questioned routinely by interviews not tossing softballs,  and picks a Vice-President, no poll relating to him has even passing credibility. He is essentially that always popular candidate called “anyone other than Trump” at the moment, even though  whoever he chooses as VP will be a) presumed to be the real Presidential candidate by much of the electorate, since about half think he’s one or two ticks from wearing his shoes on his face, and the other half will come around once they see him trying to speak without a teleprompter. Did you read about Joe saying that most people don’t distinguish between Asian nationalities? If Dr. Seuss were alive, he’d write a kids book called, “Oh, the Gaffes You Will See!” and b) will immediately alienate a significant group of voters. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 7/19/2020: And The Hits Just Keep On Coming!

1. Final plug, as the bat above (and in my hands) reminds me: If you are set up with Zoom (it’s free, you know), you still have time to register for the Smithsonian Associates program  tomorrow evening (at 6:45 pm, EST) wherein I hold forth on how baseball has influenced American culture, values and history. Yes, it’s $35 bucks, but it goes to a good cause, and may help the Institute hire more competent employees who don’t peddle junk like the chart on “whiteness.” You’ll be able to ask questions, and I’m storing these experiences for the Ethics Alarms Zoom experience to come. Read all about it here…

2. If a left-wing dim bulb like Jonathan Chait can figure this out, surely more are to follow. He writes in New York Magazine…you know, where Andrew Sullivan was regarded as too conservative?

The ideology of the racism-training industry …collapses all identity into racial categories. “It is crucial for white people to acknowledge and recognize our collective racial experience,” writes [ Robin DiAngelo, of temporary White Fragility” fame,] whose teachings often encourage the formation of racial affinity groups. The program does not allow any end point for the process of racial consciousness. Racism is not a problem white people need to overcome in order to see people who look different as fully human — it is totalizing and inescapable. Of course, DiAngelo’s whites-only groups are not dreamed up in the same spirit as David Duke’s. The problem is that, at some point, the extremes begin to functionally resemble each other despite their mutual antipathy…. In some cases its ideas literally replicate anti-Black racism.”

Ya think??? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Website Of The Month: Etsy”

Commenter Benjamin has a supple metaphorical pen, and this Comment of the Day, on the previous post regarding the open market platform Etsy selling facemasks as porous as cheesecloth is a blast. I’ll be back at the end to explain why it’s also a crock, but for the nonce, here is Benjamin’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Unethical Website Of The Month: Etsy”:

I oppose that modern compulsion to demand oversight of every man, woman, and child which blames every proximate business or municipality for every loophole it can find not as though a new opportunity has been found but as though this was malfeasance not to have thought to cover every possible route of escape. Etsy likely sees itself as a platform for individual sellers who found a way out of their over-managed corporate bureaucracies, not as an over-managing corporate employers of every seller on its platform. I applaud this model, knowing that other one from the inside with no realistic hope of escape. I could imagine an argument that Etsy must become this wretched, undesirable other thing which creeps throughout the world looking for life and happiness to strangle, but arguments from the presumption that it already is that thing are arguments from an untrue premise. Continue reading