I Kill My Times Subscription, And Suddenly The Paper Stops Burying Facts That Impugn Democrats…It Worked!

This time anyway…if I had known they cared, I would have done it years ago!

I jest. Still, it was a shock to see the article “Not Good for Learning: New research is showing the high costs of long school closures in some communities” in yesterday’s New York Times, and even a greater shock to see the author: David Leonhardt, who was one of the most indefensibly partisan of the Times op-ed stable when he was an editorial columnist. (Check his EA dossier, here.)

Yet Leonhardt reveals,

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Ugh. Masks Again. My Breaking Point Is Getting Nearer…

Last night in Northern Virginia, I waited to be served at a SubWay behind a young, apparently well-to-do mother and her two children, no more than 5 or 6 years old. All three were tightly masked, though in the cloth variety that are—yes they are— virtually useless. The two women behind the counter were masked, of course, for business and PR reasons. I wasn’t. Also in front of me was a young African-American woman (who ordered a BMT with cucumber, mayo, mustard, oil and vinegar) who also wore a cloth mask, while two young men behind me were unmasked.

For about the tenth time in recent weeks, I had to wrestle my tongue to the floor to avoid asking the masked women in line, “Pardon me, but why are you wearing those things?” and the mother “Why are you forcing those tiny children to walk around with half their faces covered? (I also wanted to ask the woman in front of me, “Mayo, mustard, oil and vinegar all on an Italian sub? What are you, nuts?” But that’s another issue.) Once again, I resisted the urge, but I can feel myself nearing the point where I’m going to do it. In fact, I’m nearing the point where I think it is the duty of Americans who care about the culture, societal values and future as a democracy to challenge the maskers, especially those who are abusing and warping their children.

These people should be made to defend their conduct. It’s not a private matter, not when masks carry a message and send messages to others. There appear to be two varieties of masked Americans, one pathetic and the other sinister: those who wear masks as a symbolic show of solidarity with the statist, totalitarian Left that wants the government to train the “little people” to do and believe what they are told, and those who have been turned into lifetime germaphobes and agoraphobes by media scaremongering, inflated death statistics and incompetent health officials. Every day, in tiny, incremental ways, these two, sometimes overlapping groups are tearing down American individuality, liberty, and the quality of life.

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Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quote Of The Week: Naomi Wolf”

The caravan of protesting truckers is, we hear, now on the way to Washington, D.C., after thoroughly disrupting Calgary, Canada, and perceptions of Justin Trudeau as a relatively harmless boob. He is now being seen as a harmful boob. D.C., meanwhile, has established itself as a locale where disruptive and even violent protesters are honored by a giant painted endorsement on a public street by order of the mayor when their alleged cause is sufficiently “woke,” and violent protesters from the other side of the ideological spectrum are charged with felonies and held in prison for many months.

This should be interesting, in the old Chinese saying sense.

Here is Ethics Alarms veteran Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quote Of The Week: Naomi Wolf”

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I think in the end, the best complaint available is the double-standards being applied. When protests are ostensibly in favor of a left-liberal position, they are protected speech no matter how much lawlessness is involved. That same protest involving the same level of lawlessness is considered worthy of an emergency act invocation if the protest is not favored by left-liberals.

I get your point about the trucks blocking traffic Jack, and I don’t disagree. I have always believed that interfering in lawful commerce is illegal (and tortious as well) and should be prosecuted both criminally and by civil action when it happens. The First Amendment, and whatever the Canadian equivalent is (however weakly codified) does not protect actions that interfere with lawful commerce or disturb the peace to the point of mischief. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Naomi Wolf

“It is alarming that our own President has not spoken out against Justin Trudeau’s militaristic power grab, or against his violence against peaceful protesters using their lawfully protected freedoms of speech and assembly. It is even more alarming that the Biden administration is seeking to extend our own state of emergency.”

Naomi Wolf, on her substack newletter, in a post called “The Fall of Canada, The Danger in the US.”

You should read it all. Wolf is troubled by the continuation of the “state of emergency” in the U.S. regarding the pandemic, which she weaves into her protest about the dangers of martial law and the risks when democratic nations start justifying dictatorial powers.

I ran across her piece as I was preparing to write a post titled, “Stop Making Me Defend Justin Trudeau.” The trucker protest may involve free speech, the right to protest and the right to assemble; I guess it is peaceful, or was until Trudeau called in the cops. However, no protest is lawful if it involves breaking laws, and using huge trucks to block highways and commuter access to where they need to go is not legal anywhere. Geraldo Rivera and Sean Hannity got into an angry tiff last week, which Hannity telling Geraldo that his criticism of the trucker protest was an affront to liberty and human rights, and Rivera responding that innocent people and businesses were being harmed by the protest, and it needed to end. For one of the first times in my life, I’m with Geraldo. Continue reading

“How Do You Respond When An Anti-Vaxxer Dies Of Covid?” I’ll Answer That…

I thought this op-ed, by a Jesuit priest, would have something profound to say about the ethics of schadenfreude. I was disappointed. His grand conclusion:

At this point I could run through a list of philosophers, theologians and wise voices from religions and traditions around the world to prove my point. Instead I will reclaim a word that has been largely lost from our discourse: mean. Crowing over someone’s suffering or demise is as far from a moral act as one can imagine. It’s cruel. Indulged in regularly, schadenfreude ends up warping the soul. It robs us of empathy for those with whom we disagree. It lessens our compassion. To use some language from both the Old and New Testaments, it “hardens” our hearts. No matter how much I disagree with anti-vaxxers, I know that schadenfreude over their deaths is a dead end.

Wow, stop the presses. A Jesuit recognizes the value of the Golden Rule. This is news that’s “fit to print?” Well, the obvious (I hope) conclusion turned out to be device to attack Wuhan vaccine skeptics and opponents on the way to reaching it. “After months of trying to convince anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and anti-social distancers that lifesaving measures are both for their own good and for that of others, frustration might get the better of people,” Father James Martin writes, finding an excuse for one side of the aisle while condemning without sympathy, for example, Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham, “a commentator who often expresses her belief in “Christian values,” gloating over the news that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had tested positive despite being vaccinated and boosted.

I expect more fairness and less deceit from the clergy, Lord knows why:

  • Opposing government mandated vaccinations does not make one an “anti-vaxxer.” That’s a slur on par with calling those who doubt the certitude of over-simplified climate change taking points “deniers.” Many oppose the mandated vaccines as an unconstitutional and unethical violation of personal liberty, and are not taking the shots to stand up for basic rights, not because they necessarily don’t believe in “the science.”
  • Calling masks, particularly the masks most people wear, “live-saving” is propaganda and misinformation. The CDC’s “experts” have, in sequence, said “mask aren’t necessary,” wear masks; no need to wear masks if you’re vaccinated; better wear masks, and if you don’t like what the advice is now, as they say about weather in New England, wait a bit. I know men of the cloth are suckers for faith, but if Jesus had been wrong as often as the health experts, we might be making offerings to Jupiter and Neptune today.
  • Don’t get me started on “social distancing.” I’m surprised the good Father didn’t also say we were killing people by touching our faces. Remember that edict?

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: The Stacey Abrams Campaign [Corrected]

I was going to comment on the photo above anyway, not realizing that it had set off an online controversy. Abrams is one of the most shameless power-seeking phonies among the many phonies America is inflicted with right now; the hypocrisy in the photo is hardly unique. President Biden had such an episode over the weekend; Democratic mayors, governors and other officials have made their “rules are for the gullible peons” photos and videos an art form. Most have had the sense to say, “I’m sorry,” or “I forgot,” or “I won’t do it again.” Not the Abrams campaign (she’s running for Georgia governor again).

It responded to criticism of the photo by—guess what!—accusing critics of being racist:

“It is shameful that our opponents are using a Black History Month reading event for Georgia children as the impetus for a false political attack, and it is pitiful and predictable that our opponents continue to look for opportunities to distract from their failed records when it comes to protecting public health during the pandemic.”

Wait, is there a law that says you can’t criticize a black politician during Black History Month? I did not know that! Boy, I wish that my people—you know, bald Anglo-Greek lawyers—had a month like that! Continue reading

Another Sunday Afternoon In The Ethics Park With Jack, 2/6/2022: Pence, Parties, Parents, Professors And Petards

I probably don’t pay enough attention to right-wing conspiracy theories, but I mostly find them so silly that it astounds me that anyone takes them seriously. Alex Jones? How could anyone take Alex Jones seriously, especially after he stated in court documents that he didn’t take his own stuff seriously? Long ago, I learned a lot from a fun tome called “Web of Conspiracy” by mystery writer/historian Theodore Roscoe. It was a detailed account of the evidence assembled by many Lincoln assassination conspiracy buffs, and I loved it, racing through its 800 pages or so and thousands of footnotes as fast as I could. But I was 11; my Dad warned me that the author was cheating, and I couldn’t see it. After the book was out of print, I paid a fortune to acquire a used copy and tried to read it again. I couldn’t get through the damn thing, it was so full of innuendo, and dishonest arguments.

I thought about that book when some well-meaning readers sent me a substack essay by Emerald Robinson asserting in Theodore Roscoe prose that Mike Pence was really trying to get Trump kicked out of office so he could take over. Let’s say I’m dubious, and I’m no Pence admirer. VP’s have been accused of that since John Adams; I walked out of “JFK”—and I’ll sit through almost anything—when Oliver Stone started telling audiences that LBJ was behind Kennedy’s assassination. Moreover, Robinson has long been on my “don’t waste time reading” list, as I view the tweet that got her fired from Newsmax as signature significance. She tweeted,

“Dear Christians: the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends.

Twitter removed the tweet as a violation of safety rules, which is the kind of stupidity that explains why I quit Twitter. Everyone needs to see tweets like that. Highlight them, don’t hide them. Otherwise you might take a nut like Robinson seriously.

Finally, her Pence theory contained arguments like, Continue reading

Unethical—And Ignorant!—Quote Of The Month: The Washington Post

“The air in humid, hotter environments contains more water, which can condense onto the virus particles, make them bigger and theoretically fall to the ground faster. Wu compares the particles to a rock in this case — the more mass, the faster it falls.”

—-Washington Post Reporter Kasha Patel, forgetting about Galileo and gravity in an alleged science article headlined,  “Covid-19 may have seasons for different temperature zones, study suggests.”

Her editors also seem to have missed 6th grade science. In truth, I believe I learned about Galileo’s experiment with the Leaning Tower of Pisa before the sixth grade, after Santa left a children’s book about “great moments in science” in my sister’s stocking. We shared it, and it ended up with me: it’s around the house somewhere. I think about the book every time I end up on Walter Reed Drive in Arlington, which is often. His story is also in it; I wish I could think of the title.

The full quote is… Continue reading

The Pandemic Post I Never Wrote

[This post is dedicated to Michael Ejercito.]

For months, veteran prolific Ethics Alarms commenter Michael Ejercito peppered the blog with various versions of the same question: “When are you going to finish “The Pandemic Creates a Classic and Difficult Ethics Conflict…”? He was referring to this post, which went up way back in May of 2020. The rest of the title was “…But The Resolution Is Clear.” It was designated as Part I, with a Part II supposedly coming soon that would explain what that resolution was and why. It never arrived.

Stalling, I posted a Prelude to Part II. It was so long and covered so much territory that I doubt anyone read it all the way to the end (except Michael). It didn’t inspire a single comment. Here’s a precis...

No, I am not satisfied with the current draft of Part II, but I trust it’s obvious what the resolution referred to is. The lock-down has to end, and before vaccines, cures, or adequate medicine are available….It is quite striking: the arguments for continuing the lockdown indefinitely are almost entirely authored by progressives, and are without exception characterized by bad logic, emotionalism, manipulated facts, biased analysis, fearmongering, and suspect motives. The majority of the arguments for opening up the economy soon are markedly more logical, unemotional, and based on sound statistics and analysis…

It is not “plausible” that the pandemic will continue forever; pandemics don’t. And indeed, if they did, it would be an irrefutable reason to open up now. Freedom has always had a price…

…As I discussed in Part I, health experts focus almost exclusively on health. Health is not the only priority involved in the policy trade-offs involving the lockdown. The health experts don’t care about the other issues—literally, they don’t care—because it isn’t their job to care about the economy, or unemployment, or ruined careers and diminished quality of life. They should care about increased suicides during depressions, and inadequate preventative health care, and the deaths those and other consequences of the lockdown will cause, [or]…the U.S. having a catastrophic expansion of its national debt… !

…Right: nobody knows how it will play out. We do know, however, how it will play out if we lock down the economy much longer, never mind until there’s a vaccine…On this 75th Anniversary of V-E Day, it shouldn’t be hard to understand that lost lives can be acceptable when the most rational, responsible policies involve unavoidable risk.

But “Part II,” when it arrived six months later, still didn’t deliver the promised resolution. Except for the (again, long) introduction, in fact, it was a dud, but a dud that illustrated the problem with the topic. I wrote about the non-media coverage of a Johns Hopkins study that seemed to indicate that the despite the daily lists of pandemic deaths, the total deaths had not varied significantly from the previous year. As it turned out, the study was flawed, and its conclusions were not supported, though the Ethics Alarms indictment of the bias and partisan agenda indicated by the news media’s lack of coverage still applies.

So what was going to be Part II was then going to be Part III, and again stalling, I wrote a prelude to that as well. This one was mercifully short, and endorsed a statement by then President Trump as the Ethics Quote of the Century. He had said via Twitter in October, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” The post concluded,

“President Trump is among the Americans I would view most unlikely to utter an ethical statement, much less a great one, but this was a great statement, essential, inspirational, and right. I assume this is sufficient notice of what the conclusion of Part III will be.”

But there was no Part III, much to Michael’s disappointment and annoyance.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/21/2022: Christmas’s And Meat Loaf’s End Edition

Meat Loaf has died. The hilariously theatrical pop singer with the big voice was responsible for one of the great ethics songs: “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.” It packed almost everything into one epic musical journey: temptation, non-ethical considerations vs. ethics, betrayal, consequences and cosmic retribution.

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Absent a last-minute reprieve or a relapse of whatever it is that I’ve been battling, this looks like the final day for our especially lovely, inspiring Christmas tree. I always feel like I’m making the world a little meaner and less hopeful when I take it down. This post, from three years ago, still stands.

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In U.S. ethics history, January 21 stands for one of the more significant pardons in American Presidential annals, because in 1977 Jimmy Carter pardoned all those young men, hundreds of thousands of them, who had fled to Canada rather than risk being drafted to fight in Vietnam. (Only half came back. I am tempted to say, “Good!,” but I won’t…) Those who left as a matter of principle and those who ran off because they wouldn’t have fought for their country under any circumstances (this was the era of “Better Red than Dead,” after all) were treated the same. It was a utilitarian trade-off, and whether the President’s decision was unethical (my Vietnam vet friends said it made them feel like suckers) or ethical (it definitely helped heal the national divisions over that misguided conflict), it was certainly brave and consequential. For example, that single act probably killed the draft as much as anything else.

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Feel free to debate that issue here; I’m not up to it today myself. There won’t be the usual Friday Open Forum because there was one just two days ago (and it’s still open!). Full disclosure: in my fevered state, I really thought it was Friday when it was Wednesday.

1. This video is worrisome if it’s genuine, and it may not be. A young woman freaks out after getting a positive Wuhan variant test result, and acts as if she’s been sentenced to die on the rack and wheel. I fear this is what two years of politically-driven pandemic hysteria is turning our rising generations into: cowards, whiners, phobics and weenies. Her tearful lament ““The coolest characteristic about myself is that I haven’t gotten it!” is particularly nauseating. Continue reading