The Colin Powell Ethics Problem

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The ethics news today begins with the death of Colin Powell, who died this morning, according to his family. He deserves the accolades for his service and leadership skills, but in the Ethics Alarms annals, he ranks as an ethics disappointment.

As the obituaries will certainly mention, Powell, the U.S.’s first African American national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of state, would have also been its first black President if he had been willing to run. Shades of Eisenhower, he was courted as a Presidential candidate by both Republicans and Democrats before deciding in 1995 that the challenge would take him away from his family, and acceding to his wife’s objections and fears (she was reportedly afraid he would be assassinated). Thus instead of the bi-partisan, unifying figure of Colin Powell, we got Bush, and then the hollow, racially divisive Barack Obama. And here we are.

Yes, I lay much of what has happened to the nation in the 21st Century at Powell’s feet. The majority of our Presidents sacrificed greatly to seek and accept the office; I do not forgive Powell for passing the buck when he was in a unique position to unify the nation and particularly the races at a turning point in our history. He was called: it is as simple as that. As a good citizen and soldier, when you are called, you have an ethical obligation to answer. Powell did not meet that obligation. America is much the worse for it.

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And Yet ANOTHER Progressive Hero Is Ambushed With Tough Questioning By A Mainstream Media Journalist! This Time, It’s Dr. Fauci…

Breakthru q

Good.

Nobody deserves this more.

On CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” host Sara Eisen confronted Fauci about the inconvenient phenomenon of breakthrough cases of the Wuhan virus, where fully vaccinated people get sick anyway, with some requiring hospitalization. She asked if the government is being “too casual about the limitations of the vaccine.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped tracking breakthrough cases in May. It has kept track of the vaccinated who have been hospitalized or died: as of Sept. 27, the CDC reported 22,115 such patients. However, as Eisen insisted, that’s just part of the story.

There’s nothing like personal experience to prompt a journalist to start paying attention: she was i9nfected despite being fully vaccinated, and claimed that the virus had recently spread through her “entire family.” Fauci’s answer was evasive: he cited data indicating that unvaccinated people still remain most vulnerable to hospitalization or death from COVID, and the vaccination protects most people from a severe outcome if they so get the Wuhan virus. He told Eisen she should not “confuse” the “overwhelming benefits of the protection of vaccines” with occurrences of breakthrough cases. That, however, wasn’t what she asked. What she asked was how the CDC can be so confident about the effectiveness of the vaccine if it doesn’t record how many vaccinated people still get infected.

It’s obvious, isn’t it? The CDC doesn’t want to have to deal with vaccine skeptics using the data to justify not getting vaccinated. As has been a recurring phenomenon during the pandemic, the government in general and Fauci in particular refuse to provide information when they think the public will refuse to follow their directives if they get the facts. In response to Fauci’s huminahumina dodge, Eisen asked, “How do we know that [breakthrough cases are] happening to a small proportion and how do we know that they are tending to be mild?”

The answer is “You don’t.” Maybe the accurate answer from Fauci would be , “That’s for me to know and you to find out!” But this is what he said:

So, in answer to your very appropriate question about if you get vaccinated and you get infected, is there less of a chance that you will be transmitting it to someone who is unvaccinated or someone who is vulnerable? The chances of doing that are diminished by being vaccinated and even further diminished, according to preliminary data we’ll wait to see the real fundamental core of the data, but it looks like that extra added of protection from a boost will be very valuable.”

Her question was indeed very appropriate, but that’s not what she asked! Even his evasive answer wasn’t accurate. The CDC has not said the chances of people transmitting the virus have “diminished” if you are fully vaccinated. The CDC says the opposite of that: fully vaccinated people can transmit the virus as readily as unvaccinated people, though not for as long a period.

Only sarcasm will suffice. I just can’t imagine why so many Americans refuse to trust the directives of health officials regarding vaccinations. What have they ever done to make us doubt them?

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Source: CNBC

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Dr. Mary Rudyk [Corrected]

“I think we have to be more blunt, we have to be more forceful, we have to say something coming out, you know you don’t get vaccinated, you know you’re going to die. I mean, let’s just be really blunt to these people.”

—-Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center Dr. Mary Rudyk, formerly the North Carolina’s Chief of Medical Staff, in a leaked Zoom discussion with a colleague about how to persuade vaccine resisters to get their shots. [ Notice of Correction: the original post included a shot from the Zoom recording that was not Rudyk, but the colleague she was talking with. Commenter Zanshin flagged the mistake. That is Rudyk above.]

In other words, lie and engage in fear-mongering! Oh, good plan. That’s surely the way to build back the trust the health care community has squandered during the pandemic.

Moron.

Rudyk says in the now viral two-minute video that  the hospital’s messaging needs to be “a little bit more scary for the public,” so she proposes including patients she characterizes as “post-COVID” in the hospital’s case count. Actually, as the hospital tried to explain later as it desperately attempts to address public outrage over the comments, that policy would be defensible, as patients hospitalized for conditions brought on by the virus are still in danger as a direct result of being infected. However, the ethical motive for making this choice is to be more informative, not to be “more scary.’

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Speaking Of Big Buts, The Unethical Quote Of The Month: Dr. Anthony Fauci

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“I know I respect people’s freedom, but…”

—-Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President

Fauci was talking about the need for everyone to get vaccinated, but it doesn’t matter what he was talking about. When government officials, whether they are elected or not, follow statements like “I respect people’s/personal freedom/liberty/rights with the word “but,” that’s all Americans need to hear to know that the speaker does not respect our freedom, liberty or rights, and that not only he or she cannot and must not be trusted, no government that continues to employ such an official can be trusted either. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘Theater Ethics Meets Pandemic Ethics…’”

It has been a hugely informative and entertaining knockdown, drag-out comment battle over vaccine hesitancy the last few days on not just one but two posts on the topic. It’s time to add another. One irony of long comment threads, which make me happy as a blog proprietor, is that many readers don’t have the patience to pick through them. I’m sometimes guilty of that myself.

This Comment of the Day by Ryan Harkins on Humble Talent’s own provocative (to understate it) Comment Of The Day on my post, “Theater Ethics Meets Pandemic Ethics: If I Were Still Running My Theater Company And We Had A Large Cast Show In Production…” deserves to be highlighted. Here it is (and I forgive Ryan for not calling the virus by it’s rightful, earned non-partisan name.)

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First, I want to take exception to conflating hesitancy to take the COVID-19 vaccines and anti-vaxxers. There’s a huge difference between being skeptical about one particular vaccine and being skeptical about all vaccines. And conflating the two blurs the issues and dismisses out of hand legitimate arguments and concerns.

I stand in an odd position, because I oppose getting any of the COVID-19 vaccines, and I have been vaccinated. I took the double doses of the Moderna vaccine when it became available at my workplace. Was it to protect my family (my wife is pregnant with our fourth)? Not at all. We’re all healthy, and the odds of the coronavirus having any effect other than a harsh cold for my household is surprisingly small. Was it because my workplace pressured me into it? No, though I will cite that the 14 days paid sick time goes away if I snag a sufficiently large batch of SARS-CoV-2 and I’m not vaccinated.

So why did I get the vaccine? At the time, I believed it the right thing to do to help the efforts of reaching herd immunity. So what has changed since then? Let’s consider my thinking, meandering as it is.

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Comment Of The Day: “Theater Ethics Meets Pandemic Ethics…”

I was getting ready to write about Sen. Rand Paul’s manifesto above ( he really is a libertarian, isn’t he?) when Humble Talent’s Comment of The Day, on the post “Theater Ethics Meets Pandemic Ethics: If I Were Still Running My Theater Company And We Had A Large Cast Show In Production…”

Perfect timing, and my favorite kind: it saved me the effort of writing a post. This should open up the pandemic and vaccine debate nicely, and get it out of the constricting limitation of live theater.

Heeeeeeere’s Humble…!

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I find these Covid threads just… really tedious.

I have found common cause with the American left on precious few issues in my lifetime, and I often find that even when I agree with them, they put the issue forward in the most obnoxious and useless way possible: They mock, they demean, they use bad arguments, and even when they’ve come to the right conclusion they rarely understand the source material. It’s frustrating.

But on this one discrete topic…. I understand mocking anti-vaxxers.

Sorry guys, if you’re in the vaccine skeptic group… You are being dumb. Your body your right, yada yada yada. Sure. You have the right to be dumb. Just because it’s your right to be an idiot doesn’t shield you from the consequences of being an idiot. And while telling you that you’re an idiot, pressuring you not to be an idiot, and there being consequences to being an idiot might harm your tender egos, America isn’t going to end.

The reason why I feel on this one discrete topic, mocking anti-vaxxers, particularly American anti-vaxxers is appropriate is because there was no convincing you. On this topic, more than any other in recent history, you are completely information resistant.

“Well Jeff! Look at Israel, they’re having a spike right now, and most of their cases are breakthrough cases, how do you explain that?!?!”

Because everyone is experiencing a spike right now, international travel isn’t completely locked down, the vaccines were never sold as being 100% effective and as new variants come out the efficacy is only going to lower, and because more than 95% of Israeli adults are vaccinated. So when anyone in Israel gets Covid it is orders of magnitude more likely that the case will be a breakthrough than a non-vaccinated case.

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Facts Don’t Matter: Charles Blow Says Vaccination Resistance Is Donald Trump’s Fault

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The New York Times has a lot of Trump Deranged op-ed writers, a lot of jackasses, and quite a few race-baiters in the mix as well. None scores as high in all three categories as the arrogant Charles M. Blow. His continued presence on the Times opinion pages is a continuing insult to black pundits everywhere. Blow obviously only has his job because he is black, and if this is the best the most prestigious paper in the country could do in seeking “diversity,” “The Bell Curve” was more accurate than we thought. But Blow isn’t the best, or even one of the best, black pundits the Times could employ, and he’s unbearably pompous to boot.

Yesterday Blow’s column was titled “Anti-Vax Insanity.” I have not read a Blow column for more than a year, but this made me think, “Gee, a column from Blow that doesn’t involve foaming at the mouth over Donald Trump!” Silly me. Here is how it starts:

“Nothing better exemplifies the gaping political divide in this country than our embarrassing and asinine vaccine response. Donald Trump’s scorched earth political strategy has fooled millions of Americans into flirting with death. And now thousands are once again dying for it.”

Later he writes,

Why were Americans turning away a vaccine that many people in other parts of the world were literally dying for? Many did so because of their fidelity to the lie and their fidelity to the liar. They did it because they were — and still are — slavishly devoted to Trump, and because many politicians and conservative commentators helped Trump propagate his lies.”

Blow managed to find one poll —you know, polls—that kind of backed his thesis if you squint hard and aren’t thinking clearly, except that it doesn’t mention Donald Trump at all. That’s a pretty big “except.” What the poll shows is that more Republicans than Democrats distrust the vaccine and object to the government telling them they have to take the shots. Well, that would have been the result if Donald Trump had never been born, and whether the vaccine was deadly or conveyed immortality.

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Theater Ethics Meets Pandemic Ethics: If I Were Still Running My Theater Company And We Had A Large Cast Show In Production…

LES_MISÉRABLES.

…the policy would be that every member of the cast, staff and crew would have to be vaccinated and show proof of it. They would, of course, be free to refuse, which is their right. But they still would have no right to work on the production, and to endanger the health of others essential to the show’s success. You can’t rehearse with social distancing, nor with actors wearing masks.

I’ve seen viruses run amuck through casts and ruin shows. Your rights stop when they start adversely and unnecessarily affecting my business and projects. Take your own risks and good fortune to you, but don’t impose them on me.

(Incidentally, I would never produce or direct the show you see above. I consider it unethical to put shows on stage that I can’t stand watching and listening to myself.)

Friday Late Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/30/2021: Pot, Bribes, “Advocacy Journalism,” Baseball’s Domestic Abuse Policy, And How Did A Woman Win The Gold In The Men’s Decathlon?

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I often check multiple websites to see what of ethics significance occurred on given dates. This July 30 isn’t a major ethics day, though the fiasco that resulted in 1864 when the serially incompetent Union General Ambrose Burnside made his third major blunder of the Civil War in the Battle of the Crater carries a crucial leadership lesson that apparently is impossible to learn: don’t give incompetent leaders second (or third) chances to lead.

However, on one of the sites, “This Day in History,” the headline on a note reads, “1976: Caitlyn Jenner wins Olympic decathlon.” That may be politically correct, but it’s cowardly (would the trans activist mob pounce if the event was stated straight?) and absurd on its face. Bruce Jenner won the Olympic decathlon, and it was a men’s event. Caitlyn was, as far as we know, not even a twinkle in his eye. Bruce fathered children after winning the gold; the event and the other events in his life when he was a he were not magically altered by his later transgender journey, like “Back to the Future.”

1. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias” note of the day. Frequent commenter and invaluable tipster Steve Witherspoon sent me a link to a Jonathan Turley column I had missed. The law professor covers a lot of issues we have discussed here as he notes that “Professional ethics, it seems, has become entirely impressionistic in the age of advocacy journalism.”

It seems? There is no question about it. Turley also points out the hypocrisy of the Times with several examples, writing, “If none of this makes sense to you, that is because it does not have to make sense. Starting with the [Senator Tom] Cotton scandal, the New York Times cut its mooring cables with traditional journalist values. It embraced figures like Nikole Hannah-Jones who have championed advocacy journalism.” He also notes that “while the Times has embraced advocacy journalism, its has not updated its guidelines which state that “Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively.”

Read it all, and I recommend sending it to any friend or relative who calls assertions that the news media is a left-wing propaganda machine at this point “conservative disinformation.”

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