The first ethics take-away from President Biden’s attack on Facebook for “vaccine disinformation” is that the Left’s totalitarian tendencies and embrace of censorship become more obvious and less hidden every day.
The second ethics take-away is that Joe Biden, of all people, has a lot of gall complaining about social media disinformation when he is in the White House in large part because of it.
The third is that the entire Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck has been dominated by outright propaganda and intentional manipulation of public opinion by the news media, federal agencies, medical organizations and “experts,” and Democrats are particularly ethically estopped from complaining about the same process that they have been employing for more than five years to their advantage.
As he boarded Marine One for a weekend at the ol’ Presidential hide-out at Camp David in Maryland, President Biden was asked what his message was to social media platforms regarding vaccine disinformation.
“They’re killing people,” he said. “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that — and they’re killing people.”
This date in 1972 witnessed one of the more egregious examples of liberal judges using political ideology and capriciously-applied ethics to avoid following the law. In Furman v. Georgia,the remnants of the Warren Court, now under conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger, who dissented, prevailed in a narrow 5-4 decision that ruled the death penalty to be “cruel and unusual” under the Eighth Amendment. This was about as far away from “originalism” as the Court could get, since the Founders obviously did not regard executions as unusual at all, and cruelty has always been a subjective concept. But the Court left the metaphorical door open for new Congressional legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again if it included standardized guidelines for juries that would ameliorate “arbitrary” applications of capital punishment. Four years later SCOTUS reinstated the death penalty, which was overwhelmingly supported by the public, and in 1977, Gary Gilmore, a career criminal who cruelly and unusually murdered an elderly couple who refused to give him their car, faced a firing squad in Utah, a fate he definitely deserved.
1. I wish I had the time and fortitude to detail just how bad this New York Times Magazine article is, but I don’t, and maybe nobody with a life does. So I’ll just leave it to you to read it: “What if American Democracy Fails the Climate Crisis?” in the New York Times “Climate Issue.” Despicably, the Times handed the article over to openly and egregiously Left-biased journalist Ezra Klein, the founder of Vox and a dedicated practitioner of journalism as progressive propaganda. This means that only one point of view pervades the exercise, differing only in degrees and minor details. Even the title is loaded with assumptions that poison fair discourse, and I hope I will not be spoiling the suspense by pointing out that the “solution” Klein and his of-one-mind panelists (including one of the authors of the risible so-called “Green New Deal”) is a Leftist take-over of the U.S. and preferably capitulation to world government. I was going to list the most outrageous and dishonest quotes, but that would have taken up the whole post. The “I mentally checked out here” moment was in the introduction, in which Klein writes, being “hopeful,” “A rising generation understands the urgency of the moment, even if their elders do not.” That rising generation understands nothing about climate science, much like their “elders,” but have been indoctrinated into thinking they do. That’s “hopeful” for a nascent totalitarian like Klein. The rest of the issue is substantially deceit and propaganda, like the article about how climate change is already ravaging islands like the Bahamas, focusing on Hurricane Dorian as if there is any way to trace its origins to the topic of the issue.
On June 25, 1876, Sioux and Cheyenne forces led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull wiped out the U.S. Army troops of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn near southern Montana’s Little Bighorn River. Custer had been asking for such a fate for sure: he had long been crippled by hubris, ambition and arrogance, despite other compensating positive leadership traits and one extremely important success, which I’ll write about again in about a week. The U.S. Army had also firmly established themselves as the bad guys in this true life Western. After gold was discovered in South Dakota’s Black Hills, in the previous year, the U.S. Army ignored previous treaty agreements and invaded the region. Custer and some 200 men blundered into the Little Bighorn Valley where his battalion was overcome by 3,000 angry warriors. Custer and every last one of his soldier had been killed within an hour. The Battle of the Little Bighorn, better known as “Custer’s Last Stand,” was the most decisive Native American victory and the worst U.S. Army defeat in the long Plains Indian War. It was a classic Pyrrhic victory, of course. Custer was elevated to undeserved martyr status, and the U.S. Government redoubled its efforts against Native Americans. Within five years, almost all of the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne were confined to reservations.
It took a while for history, popular culture and public opinion to catch up with reality regarding Custer. More than 20 movies and too many television shows to count portrayed him as a hero right into the Sixties. Among the actors who played the doomed and dashing cavalry leader: Ronald Reagan, Errol Flynn, Leslie Neilson, Robert Shaw, and Sheb Wooley, who sang the hit ’50’s ditty “Purple People Eater.” The tide turned against Custer for good after some critical biographies and when Richard Mulligan played him as preening idiot in the dark Western satire “Little Big Man” in 1970.
There was cosmic justice for Custer, if not for the Indians he persecuted.
1. Perhaps the greatest IIPTDXTTNMIAFB we will ever see! I really jumped the gun earlier this month when I marked a ridiculous lie out of the mouth of President Biden as an “IIPTDXTTNMIAFB for the ages.” ( The initials stand for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.”“Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.”) That doesn’t come within miles of Biden’s extemporaneous tough guy blather during his recent “all of the recent increase in crime in Democrat-run cities is caused by guns” speech, when he began with a historical gaffe, saying that a citizen couldn’t buy a cannon in Revolutionary times (citizens could buy cannons and did well into the 20th Century—the crazy publisher of the Los Angeles Times had one mounted on the hood of his car) and then really jumping the responsible Potus shark with this:
“Those who say the blood of lib- — “the blood of patriots,” you know, and all the stuff about how we’re going to have to move against the government. Well, the tree of liberty is not watered with the blood of patriots. What’s happened is that there have never been — if you wanted or if you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons.”
This has been discussed a bit today in the Open Forum, so I will just add that if Trump had said anything like this, Democrats and the news media would be screaming that he was psychologically unfit to be President, and that the 25th Amendment should be put into action immediately. But Trump never said anything that crazy or threatening. In addition to the statement being bellicose and offensive, it also evinces that understanding of the Second Amendment of the average 14-year-old. The Second Amendment like the rest of the Bill of Rights, was created to ensure that the Federal government knew its place, and also knew that like the colonies, American citizens would not surrender their liberties without a fight. The Founders never thought local groups of armed citizens could prevail in combat against the full resources of the Federal government, even in a world without AR-15s, nukes, and tanks. But they knew that the prospect of substantial numbers of armed citizens would deter government tyranny, assuming sane leadership. For example, an attempt to go houise to house confiscating guns would be unacceptably bloody and risk turning a majority of the public against the government.
Even though the news media is already trying to memory-hole Joe’s stupid threat, it is destined to haunt him, and should.
It is unusual to call an organization’s decision to follow its own rules heroic, but I have low expectations of the Roman Catholic Church. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 168-55 to draft a document on “Eucharistic coherence,” because the Church has been anything but coherent regarding the status of allegedly devout Catholics who support abortion.
Catholics are forbidden from participating in the ritual of the Eucharist if they are in a state of sin. Abortion is considered a very serious sin in the Catholic Church, which holds that life begins at conception. Thus a public figure, indeed an elected official, indeed a President, who openly supports abortion cannot take holy communion, because he is endorsing and enabling a serious sin. This isn’t hard. The much publicized “controversy” over the Bishops’ decision to follow their own Church’s ancient rules ( and those of the New Testament: “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” — 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 ) resembles the current controversy in baseball over the MLB decision to enforce the hundred-year-old rule against pitchers doctoring the ball.
I know, everything reminds me of baseball, which has played a much greater role in my life than religion. But this is the same situation at its essence. The Catholic Church ducked, weaved and looked the other way while many U.S. politicians professed their belief in Catholicism as they openly and directly contradicted and actively undermined the Church’s core beliefs. They sought to have the benefit of appealing to the religious while simultaneously advocating a practice that their own Church condemns.
The New York Times—my wife keeps asking me why we pay 80 bucks a month for this shameless propaganda device, and I am running out of reasons—says that the Bishops’ vote is a “move to target a president, who regularly attends Mass and has spent a lifetime steeped in Christian rituals and practices, is striking coming from leaders of the president’s own faith, particularly after many conservative Catholics turned a blind eye to the sexual improprieties of former President Donald J. Trump because they supported his political agenda.”
I can’t let this pass. For four years, every hyperbolic President Trump boast about having “the best economy” was duly mocked and added to the contrived “Trump Lies” lists. What would the news media have done with Biden’s outrageous whopper? No jobs have been “created” by the process of allowing people to go back to work again after Biden’s party, with his endorsement, championed locking down the economy and killing jobs, businesses, recreation and whole industries.
In case you have forgotten, IIPTDXTTNMIAFB is Ethics Alarmseese for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.”
Let me know if any mainstream media source has the integrity to call BS.
It will be interesting to see if the news media discusses the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 any more this May 31 than it has in the past. Discussing this horrible mass murder of blacks in Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend has always been seen as sufficiently tasteless that the story has suffered the equivalent of a historical airbrushing. When did you first learn about it? I didn’t encounter the episode in elementary school, high school, college or law school. I was 50, and furiously researching the life of Clarence Darrow so I could churn out a one man show (that was already in rehearsal) after Leslie Nielsen pulled the rights we had paid for on the Darrow show performed on Broadway by Henry Fonda. I was looking for the context of Darrow’s epic closing argument in the Sweet case (1925), in which he referenced examples of white mob violence against blacks. That was my introduction to the tragedy. How was this possible? I was and am a voracious consumer of American history, movies, and television. Yet the facts of the Tulsa Race Massacre never entered my consciousness.
Here’s one useful resource…there are many others available online. A brief summary: After World War I, Tulsa’s African American community was notable for its affluence. The Greenwood District was known as “Black Wall Street.”But on May 30, 1921, an incident between a white woman and a black man on an elevator—nobody knows exactly what happened—was reported in the Tulsa newspapers as an attempted rape. The young African-American, Dick Rowland, had been arrested, and members of the community believed that he might be lynched. When an angry white mob gathered in front of the courthouse, a group of over 70 back men, some of them World War I veterans with weapons, confronted them. A gun went off in a struggled, and chaos descended on Greenwood. A white mob of thousands overran the Greenwood District, shooting unarmed black citizens in the streets. It burned an area of some 35 city blocks, and more than 1,200 houses, numerous businesses, a school, a hospital and a dozen churches. It is estimated that 300 people were killed in the rampage, though official counts at the time were much lower. 300 is the same death toll as the 1871 Chicago fire. I knew about that tragedy by the time I was 8.
1. IIPTDXTTNMIAFB! That’s short for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden…”, introduced here. The current example: during a speech at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Langley,Virginia two days ago, President Biden began spontaneously complimenting a pre-teen girl who had joined her parents and two older brothers on the stage after her mother had introduced Biden to the crowd. Biden said, inappropriately and creepily, “ I love those barrettes in your hair, man. I tell you what, look at her. She looks like she’s 19 years old sitting there like a little lady with her legs crossed.” Republicans pounced, as the MSM cliche goes whenever Democrats are legitimately criticized. The episode was barely mentioned by the media dedicated to propping up Biden—that is, almost all of it—at all. IIPTDXTTNMIAFB…and President Trump didn’t even have a photographically preserved series of encounters like this:
2. AHHHH! It’s a virus ! Get a gun!!! The headline on the front page of the NYT website yesterday read, “Pandemic Fuels Surge in U.S. Gun Sales ‘Unlike Anything We’ve Ever Seen.'” Incredible. People bought guns for the first time because rioting was going on all over the country, and in many places the police were doing little or nothing to stop it. Buildings were burning and being looted; citizens were being threatened. Who gets a gun to fight a pandemic? (There was never any threat of the kind of civic breakdown from the virus like that portrayed in the movie “Contagion.” Toilet paper riots?)
The degree to which the Times—the “paper of record’!—continues to distort reality to mislead the public and warp public opinion is astounding. Later in the same article, the Times said, “While gun sales have been climbing for decades — they often spike in election years and after high-profile crimes — Americans have been on an unusual, prolonged buying spree fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, the protests last summer and the fears they both stoked.”
Well, I’ve solved the annoying traffic problem on Ethics Alarms: I’m not checking the traffic any more. It doesn’t affect anything but my ego and enthusiasm. My ego is a lifetime problem, but my enthusiasm is important, and there’s no reason to deliberately upset myself. I kicked the traffic in the metaphorical solar plexus by being such a health-weenie the last couple of weeks, but I have to just focus on content, trying to maintain variety, and staying dedicated to the mission here. William Saroyan, with whom I have more in common than is good for me, liked to say that an artist has not lived in vain if one human being sings his song. I’ve always tried to act as if I believed him, and it’s high time that I really did.
1. President Biden and I agree on this, at least. The President put the kibosh on President Trump’s half-baked—maybe 25% baked—National Garden of America Heroes project. Good. I explained why this was bad history and a waste of time and money here.
In Trump’s defense, at least his worst ideas didn’t cost trillions of dollars…
2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Most media outlets are parroting this, from NASDAQ:
“Consumer sentiment in the U.S. has unexpectedly decreased in the month of May, according to preliminary data released by the University of Michigan on Friday.The report showed the consumer sentiment index dropped to 82.8 in May from 88.3 in April. The decrease surprised economists, who had expected the index to rise to 90.4.”Consumer confidence in early May tumbled due to higher inflation–the highest expected year-ahead inflation rate as well as the highest long term inflation rate in the past decade,” said Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin.”
Unexpectedly? After the new administration has behaved as if the national debt was in Monopoly money,the Left slow-walking the opening up of the economy when it should never have been shut down, and the enthusiastic socialists who write the checks paying Americans not to work? Are economists that stupid, or do they just think the public is that stupid?
Ethics Heroes: The Houston Astros. When I forgive them for cheating their way to the 2017 World Championship, they might be worthy of a full post the next time they do something exemplary. The Astros are providing furnished apartments to minor-league players across all levels this season. According to The Athletic, they are the only club doing this. Minor league players are obscenely underpaid, and have to find desperation lodging on salaries that aren’t much better than minimum wage. What the Astros are doing should be the industry standard. Is this an attempt by a bad actor to prove it has come into the light? Maybe. It’s still admirable.
In the category of “It isn’t what it is,” we have a bizarre statement from New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. The Yankees have confirmed eight cases of the Wuhan virus this week, with shortstop Gleyber Torres the first player to test positive. The other seven cases had been among the Yankees’ coaching and support staffs, including pitching coach Matt Blake, third-base coach Phil Nevin and first-base coach Reggie Willits. Something is clearly amiss, either in what the team has been doing or in the effectiveness of the Johnosn and Johnson single shot vaccine, which is what the Yankees provided to the team. Cashman said, in a longer statement to the press,
“The one thing I take from this is I believe the vaccine is working. We can take great comfort, thankfully, that all who were vaccinated with the J&J, provided from two different states, the one batch in New York, the other batch in Florida, at various different times, one in March versus obviously earlier in April, we believe it has protected us from obviously something severe or something much more difficult to be handling than we currently are.”
Or, the fact that so many Yankees who were “fully vaccinated” got the virus anyway might suggest that the vaccine involved isn’t that great. I would come to that conclusion before “the vaccine is working.” Baseball players are young, athletes, and as far removed from high risk as one could find. Before the vaccine, only one player who contracted the virus last season became seriously ill, and that was from aside effect of the illness rather than the illness itself.
2. Explain those rules again for me, please? In today’s Arts section of the New York Times, we have this note:
1. CVS, our oasis of responsible health care...This really happened to me. At my local CVS this morning, waiting in line for the pharmacy, everything broke down when the trainee clerk couldn’t locate the prescription of the woman in front of me, who said she had received a call telling her to pick it up. The clerk and the supervisor insisted that they had no such prescription, and the supervisor even printed out a sheet showing her last five pick-ups. “Uh, that one on the top—the one with a red circle around it? That’s what I’m here to pick up,” she said, with less venom than I would have used. This completely confused the staffers, who caucused, and asked her to verify various dates. “Why don’t just look in the bin labeled “O” (her surname initial) and see if it’s there?” the woman suggested. They did, and sure enough, there were her pills. I started giggling, and she looked at me and said, soto voce, “Isn’t this scary?”
Then it was my turn. While waiting out this drama, I had noticed three printed signs reading that “The Coronavirus Vaccine is not currently available at any CVS locations. Check cvs.com for updates.” I asked to speak to the pharmacist, and told her that the signs were wrong: my sister and other people I know had been vaccinated at CVSs, and months ago. “Yes, but this CVS doesn’t have the vaccines,” she said. “But that’s not what the signs on your area say,” I pointed out. “They say that NO CVS locations have the vaccine. That is demonstrably untrue, and I would expect CVS staff to know that.”
“Oh,” she shrugged. “Well, it’s easy to change the signs…”
2. Yesterday I saw…
An 8 year-old boy, running in a field, completely alone, wearing a mask.
A man leaving his home maskless, then putting a mask on as he got into his car.
A teacher (we live next to an elementary school) outside with her class. She wore a mask, and so did half of the children.
A woman walking her dog on a windy day in Virginia. She had a mask. (The dog did not. Dogs are smart…)
The good news is that I’m back at the keyboard, though at a ridiculous hour. The bad news is that I’m here because I’m out of pain-killers, and my mouth is killing me. [UPDATE: I started this post at 3 am, couldn’t continue, and now it’s after noon. I’m clearly a weenie. I’m pretty sure my father endured worse pain than I am dealing with all through his life and repeatedly after his foot got blown up in the war, and he never complained once…]
Yesterday marks a great moment in ethics, and my plan was to mention it on time. On that date, April 24 in 1863, Francis Lieber, a Prussian immigrant whose three sons served in the Civil War, created what became General Orders No. 100. Reflecting his many writings on the topic, it was a code of conduct for Federal soldiers and officers when dealing with Confederate prisoners and civilians. The code was subsequently borrowed or adapted by many European nations, including influencing the Geneva Convention. Unique when it was written, Lieber’s code was the product of a committee of four generals and Lieber, who were tasked by Union General Halleck to draft rules of ethical combat. The the 157 articles established regulations and standards for the treatment of prisoners, exchanges, flags of truce, and much more. The document was written almost entirely by Lieber, and there was nothing like it.
Good. Any President since 1916 (that’s Woodrow Wilson through Trump) could have made official the historical reality, but keeping our Turkish allies happy by enabling their long denial was deemed more pragmatic. Of course what the Ottoman Empire did to its Armenians was genocide. An estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million Armenian men, women, children, elderly and ill Armenians were marched to the Syrian desert in 1915 and 1916, with many thousands killed on the way. There they were placed in concentration camps. After another wave of massacres in 1916, only 200,000 of those deported survived. Many of these were forcibly converted to Islam and integrated into Muslim households. Still more massacres and ethnic cleansings of Armenian survivors were carried out by the Turkish nationalist movement after World War I. Naturally, the Armenians’ property was confiscated in the process. The genocide reduced the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire by an estimated 90%
2. And yet, ironically, the same administration refuses to use the word “crisis” to describe the current illegal immigration mess at the Mexican border, a crisis entirely created by Biden’s implicit invitation to aliens to break our laws and eventually benefit from doing so. Thus Politico, part of the Left’s propaganda and disinformation apparatus, sent out a memo to staff telling them not to use the term “crisis,” and to “avoid referring to the present situation as a crisis, although we may quote others using that language while providing context. While the sharp increase in the arrival of unaccompanied minors is a problem for border officials, a political challenge for the Biden administration and a dire situation for many migrants who make the journey, it does not fit the dictionary definition of a crisis. If using the word ‘crisis,’ we need to ask of what and to whom.”
The situation indeed fits the dictionary definition of “crisis.” Politico also doesn’t seem to be troubled at all that it and every other news source referred to a similar but far less massive wave of children showing up at the border when Trump was President as a “crisis.”