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.

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Unethical? Uncivil? Unprofessional? I’m Not Sure What This Is, But I Am Sure No Competent Mayor Would Do It..

mayor_of_charlottesville_03-24-2021-1

Walker is the Mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia.

And they said Donald Trump posted inappropriate tweets…

After that delightful ditty was taken down by Facebook, the Honorable Mayor posted the whole poem, of which she is apparently proud, on Twitter:

mayor_of_charlottesville 2

Either she is having a nervous breakdown, of the citizens of Charlottesville are the most incompetent voters in the nation. I’m desperately searching to find another example of an elected official publicly announcing that he or she hates the city she has vowed to serve. It is a per se breach of loyalty and civic responsibility.

She is ethically obligated to resign. I’m sure she can support herself with her poetry…

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/3/2021: Twitter Makes You Stupid, But So Many Other Things Will Too…

Mount Vernon morning

This isn’t worth a post, but it drives me crazy. Movies, which are primary cultural fodder, especially when the government is forcing the public into solitary confinement, have an obligation not to make society stupid. This is especially important when society’s educational system is dysfunctional, as ours is. Thus I find it both annoying and insulting when a supposedly serious film deliberately abandons all logic and expects audiences to swallow it.

My wife wanted to watch “The Pelican Brief” again, so we did. The film of the John Grisham legal thriller is pretty good, and it has a scene that is supposedly in Georgetown Law Center (it’s not), and has my colleague and sometimes partner Paul Morella in the role of a sinister lawyer. The ending, however, is ridiculous and insulting. Juilia Roberts is a law student at Tulane who ends up being hunted and shot at because she has stumbled upon the reason two Supreme Court Justices were assassinated and who orchestrated it in conspiracy involving law firms, the White House and a billionaire. She ends up bringing down all of them with the help of courageous investigative reporter, then leaving the country for her own safety. Her name, Darby Shaw, is on the reporter’s bombshell news story that exposes the plot. Yet the movie ends with the reporter (Denzel Washington) being asked in a TV interview (by real news anchor )Edwin Newman, who looks like a fool)whether she really exists. The woman is 24 years old. The news media has her real name. She was enrolled at Tulane. She’s paid taxes. The slightest effort by any news organization would have uncovered her entire life history.

1. Neera Tanden (cont.) The divisive, dishonest, hyper-partisan and uncivil nominee for Budget Director was a dead nominee walking since February 18, when Sen, Joe Manshin broke ranks and said he would vote against her. The responsible move would have been for Tanden to withdraw then, but instead she waited two weeks, finally pulling her name (or being forced to) yesterday. I guess this gave Democrats a chance to claim Republicans were against her because she was “of color” and a “strong woman,” which indeed they did, but the fact is she should never have been nominated.

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When Factcheckers Go Bad…

foot in mouth Xray

Here’s the First Law of Factcheckers: “Never make a public statement that shows you haven’t checked the facts.”

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s longtime factchecker, broke that law today, and spectacularly.

After former President Trump chided Biden for not opening the schools by saying in his CPAC speech today,

“America’s children must get back in the classroom, and they must get back now. Joe Biden’s anti-science approach sold out America’s children to the teacher’s unions.”

Kessler, who is actually called “The Factchecker” by his paper, tweeted,

Kessler tweet

January 28? That would be Joe Biden, Ace.

The significance of this lazy, Twitter-driven botch is that Kessler is eager  and inclined to find fault with what Donald Trump says or does, and primed to protect Democrats, like Joe Biden. But we knew that, did we not?

Bias makes you stupid; Twitter makes you stupid. Bias and Twitter make you incredibly stupid.

Why should anyone trust Kessler’s objectivity and professionalism after this?

Ethics Observations On Neera Tanden’s Chickens Coming Home To Roost [Corrected]

Chickens attack

On December 1, 2020, you were able to read here that not-quite-elected-yet President Biden had signaled that he intended to nominate Neera Tanden as his Director of the Office of Management and Budget. That’s an important position that heads a supposedly non-partisan department, and Biden knew that she was about as far from non-partisan as they come:

Tanden was one of numerous Democrats to join the plot in 2016 to encourage electors in the Electoral College to ignore their states’ votes and refuse to elect Trump as President. Tanden endorsed fanatic NeverTrump lawyer Richard Painter’s argument that Trump’s violations of the Emolument Clause disqualified him from being President.Tanden also spread the false but effective conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton lost because of Russian interference, claiming the “Russians did enough damage to affect more than 70k votes in 3 states.” Four days after the 2016 election, Tanden began implying that Russian hackers changed the vote totals.

“This,” I wrote, “is the nominee by an apparent President-elect whose allies are attacking Trump for challenging the current vote totals in court, rather than through rumors and contrived fantasy.”

Biden did in fact nominate Tardren, which rendered this pledge, the cynical, “I’m lying and there’s not a thing you can do about it!” tweet, null and void, as several other Presidential actions have:

Biden tweet4

Tanden is the president of The Center for American Progress, which is one of those public policy research institutes that lies to you in the first sentence of its description, saying it is “non-partisan.” It is a far-left advocacy organization, and if you could find a single Republican on its staff, I’d be gobsmacked. Tanden, however, the organization’s president, doesn’t even pretend to be non-partisan, being addicted to tweeting insults to the non-Democrats only, including Senators. But really, what’s the risk? After all, are Democrats in the Senate going to care that Biden’s nomination of a hyper-partisan to head OMB proves what a joke his pledge to end divisiveness is?

Doh! Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Friday he will not support Neera Tanden’s nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget, citing her “overtly partisan statements.” Now THAT’s an understatement. Tanden deleted more than 1,000 insulting tweets ahead of her nomination, but the internet is forever, so Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) read some of the juicy ones on the Senate floor. “You wrote that Susan Collins is ‘the worst,’ that Tom Cotton is a fraud, that vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz, you called Leader McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch’ and Voldemort,” Portman said.

Manchin said in a statement that should doom Tanden, since the Democrats can’t afford any defections in the evenly divided Senate,

“I have carefully reviewed Neera Tanden’s public statements and tweets that were personally directed towards my colleagues on both sides of the aisle from Senator Sanders to Senator McConnell and others. I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget. For this reason, I cannot support her nomination.”

Observations:

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Comment Of The Day: “Oppressing The Twitter Troll”

censorship cartoon

This is Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Oppressing The Twitter Troll”:

I always like to look at the law, and at the charges, to see if they are particularized and actually allege a violation.It seems to me the particular law at issue is 18 U.S. Code § 241 – Conspiracy against rights. The relevant text would seem to be paragraph 1:

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; orIf two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—

What the government is alleging here, apparently, is essentially a conspiracy to cyber-bully. Attempting to convince others to vote a certain way or not to vote at all is called “electioneering” and is not only legal in the United States, but protected speech under the First Amendment, as well as widely practiced by all political parties 24-7-365, legally and peacefully. The law criminalizing conspiracies to deprive persons of rights was passed during the civil rights era and was plainly directed at the Klu Klux Klan and similar organizations.

As we all know, those groups would intimidate voters of all races, but primarily black people and their sympathizers, by burning crosses, lynchings, threats, and other violent actions to suppress or affect voting against the groups’ interests. Most of their methods were illegal under state and federal law to begin with, but the law in this case provided an additional tool to attack those who plannedlawless actions against the rights of others as well as those who carried them out. It is a bit like the Civil RICO laws, which were primarily aimed at those who directed corrupt mob actions but almost never participated in overt criminal activity.

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Oppressing The Twitter Troll

Twitter troll meme

Federal prosecutors accused Douglass Mackey, 31, described in news reports as a “Twitter Troll,”of coordinating with co-conspirators to spread misinformation on Twitter in 2016 that Hillary Clinton’s supporters could vote by sending a text message to a specific phone number.

Mackey was arrested a week ago in the first criminal case in the country alleging voter suppression through the use of false tweets.

Seth DuCharme, the acting United States attorney in Brooklyn, whose office is prosecuting the case, said, “With Mackey’s arrest, we serve notice that those who would subvert the democratic process in this manner cannot rely on the cloak of internet anonymity to evade responsibility for their crimes.” The alleged crime is a conspiracy to “oppress” or “intimidate” anyone from exercising a constitutional right, such as voting. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Prosecutors allege that 4,900 really gullible and lazy Hillary Clinton supporters were fooled by Mackey’s scheme into trying to vote for her using a phone number publicized on social media. Mackey and his co-conspirators joked online about about tricking “dopey” liberals.

There is no question that what Mackey et al. did was unethical, dishonest, unfair and sinister. However, I find it hard to understand how he can be prosecuted while the deceptions of others whose efforts to mislead voters and either dissuade them from voting or get them to vote for a candidate they otherwise would not have were far more widespread and had far more impact on election results. My guess is that this charge is harassment, and harassment based on partisan intimidation.

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It’s A Shame That Twitter Is Such A Deliberate Enabler Of Single Party Rule, A Hypocritical Speech Censor And An Enemy Of Democracy, Because There Is A Lot You Can Still Learn There….

evil_twitter_bird

1. For example, you can learn that CNN is just as untrustworthy as Twitter is….

CNN tweet3

Only occasionally I wish I had the complete absence of a life necessary to hang around Twitter and make trenchant, witty and withering responses to something like that tweet, which show either an epic lack of self-awareness by the tweeter, or a deep, deep belief that its consumers are complete idiots. I vote for the latter.

Here are some of the responses:

  • “It’s a show where they just run the @CNN logo for the hour”
  • “It’ll be a useless conversation if you fail to examine the role of @CNN in fueling and sustaining the division for ratings and profits”
  • “Any final shred of CNN sense of self-awareness was apparently surgically removed years ago.”
  • “Your fucking network, that’s what!”
  • “Here’s a good place to start: CNN covered up the mass killing of thousands of NY seniors because it has an anchor who is brother to sociopath.”

2. You can learn that many conservatives don’t comprehend the concept of “ethics”…

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Does Anyone Understand How Twitter Could Post This?

Twitter Tweet

Twitter has been on a banning binge, including the President of the United States, and it chooses now to grandstand about open internet principles?Forget hypocrisy; this is closer to satire. What’s going on here?

Some theories:

  • Twitter Public Policy missed a crucial memo.
  • Some rogue intern is trying to make Twitter look ridiculous.
  • Twitter is gaslighting us.
  • The company is incompetent.
  • The company thought it would be funny to post a misleading tweet that would, under its own policy would mandate suspending Twitter’s account.
  • It literally believes that Donald Trump is an exception to all standards and principles.
  • Emulating the President it just helped elect, it has concluded that the American public only pays attention to what you say, not what you do.

Anything else?