Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/1/2020: I See Bad People And Penis-Talkers

1. This may not be the most trustworthy advocate for the President’s favorite Wuhan virus medicine…President  Trump’s supporters among the punditry and conservative bloggers briefly celebrated the endorsement of  hydroxychloroquine, despite recent studies questioning its effectiveness and safety, by Dr. Stella Immanuel. Support for her was redoubled after her posts were taken down by both Facebook and Twitter as “misinformation.” That’s censorship, of course, and arguably partisan.  Immanuel has an opinion. However, her response to the censoring of her posts does not enhance her credibility. She tweeted,

2.  I see…he shouldn’t be honored because he was white, right? I have reached the point where I have to conclude that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez just isn’t very bright, and those who support her passionate—but stupid!—pronouncements have a similar basic competence problem. Take this example: AOC complained in a video,

Even when we select figures to tell the stories of colonized places, it is the colonizers and settlers whose stories are told — and virtually no one else. Check out Hawaii’s statue. It’s not Queen Lili’uokalani of Hawaii, the only Queen Regnant of Hawaii, who is immortalized and whose story is told. It is Father Damien. This isn’t to litigate each and every individual statue, but to point out the patterns that have emerged among the totality of them in who we are taught to deify in our nation’s Capitol: virtually all men, all white, and mostly both. This is what patriarchy and white supremacist culture looks like! It’s not radical or crazy to understand the influence white supremacist culture has historically had in our overall culture & how it impacts the present day.

I’ll have to do a full post on the entire “white supremacy” canard, which is basically linguistic game-playing. Culture, everywhere, is primarily determined by the majority.  In a majority white population, white people, their habits, preferences, interests and values, have the strongest effect on the culture. Because there are more of the majority than other groups, they also will tend to have the greatest visibility and participation in that area’s history. Framing this rather obvious and universal situation as something sinister is silly as an argument, and evidence of impaired critical thinking skills if one is persuaded by it. Continue reading

Wuhan Virus Ethic Train Wreck Update

1. Dr. Fauci told ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton yesterday, “If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it…You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye. Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield you should use it.”

Now you tell us!

Though Fauci is in a high-risk demographic, he has never been shown wearing goggles. Or are glasses like he wears (and I do), good enough? If that’s true, he should say so, NOW. Then again, he didn’t wear a mask when he wasn’t social distancing at the Nats game last week.

2. Explain to me again why Fauci is so beloved and sucked up to by the same news media that claims President Trump has “blood on his hands” from his handling of the completely unpredictable pandemic. Fauci has been inconsistent; he has been flat out wrong on many occasions, and then we get head scratchers like a recent interview with PBS NewsHour, where he lauded New York’s disastrous response to the Wuhan virus.

“We know that, when you do it properly, you bring down those cases. We have done it. We have done it in New York,” he told PBS’s Judy Woodruff. “New York got hit worse than any place in the world. And they did it correctly.”

Really? Doing nothing to curb the obvious virus-encouraging subway travel at the peak of the outbreak…

was “doing it right”? Governor Cuomo dumping infected seniors into nursing homes was “doing it right?”

Lest we forget.. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/30/2020: Fact Checks, Fear-Mongering, The Emmys, And Another Cancellation

Yes, it’s time again for Gene, Debbie and Donald to begin the day with the level of enthusiasm that I wish I could muster. A Jack Russell Terrier would also help.

1. “Nah, there’s no news media bias!”The New York Times costs the Marshalls $80 a week. The last two editions were essentially anti-Trump campaign brochures, front to back. Even the sports sections had gratuitous anti-Trump vibes. The Washington Post is worse than the Times, but it’s much cheaper, being a home town paper. Nonetheless, I feel badly enough paying Jeff Bezos for digital access. At least the Times didn’t smear Catholic school boys because an established Native American propagandist told them to.

Yet these are, really and truly, the best newspapers in the country. Think about that. One close relative of the hard-left persuasion subscribes to no papers, and the holes in her basic knowledge of what’s happening would fill the Albert’s Hall. (She relies on MSNBC.)

Newspapers… can’t live without them, can’t have a functioning democracy any more with them. And progressives still tell me to my face that I’m imagining it: the claim that the news media is partisan and biased is a “conservative conspiracy theory.”

2. Fact check! I saw this “fact check” of Barr’s testimony two days ago in my Times today, knew what was coming, decided I didn’t feel well enough to have my temperature raised, and then commenter Dr. Emilio Lizardo was cruel enough to send me a link and a precis.

As with so much of the news media’s fake news and biased analysis, I’d assume that savvy readers can smell the stennch of these things, but maybe not. The good doctor writes,

“This is misleading” – 4 occurrences
“This is exaggerated” – 2 occurrences
“This is false” – 1 occurrence
“This lacks evidence” – 1 occurrence

Nothing like using subjective terminology to demonstrate your objectivity.

Here was my favorite:

What Mr. Barr SAID:  “According to statistics compiled by The Washington Post, the number of unarmed Black men killed by police so far this year is eight. The number of unarmed white men killed by police over the same time period is 11. And the overall numbers of police shootings has been decreasing.”

This is misleading. Mr. Barr accurately cited a database of police shootings compiled by The Washington Post. But the raw numbers obscure the pronounced racial disparity in such shootings. (The statement was also an echo of Mr. Trump’s technically accurate, but misleading claim that “more white” Americans are killed by the police than Black Americans.When factoring in population size, Black Americans are killed by the police at more than twice the rate as white Americans, according to the database. Research has also shown that in the United States, on average, the probability of being shot by a police officer for someone who is Black and unarmed is higher than for someone who is white and armed.Nationwide, the number of police shootings has remained steady since independent researchers began tracking them — declining in major cities, but increasing in suburbs and rural areas.When Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana, took issue with Mr. Barr’s presentation of the data, Mr. Barr responded, “You have to adjust it by, you know, the race of the criminal.” But some research has shown that even when controlling for the demographics of those arrested, there are still racial disparities in the use of police force.

In other words, “misleading” means “contrary to the narrative Democrats and activists want to push.” Got it. Continue reading

Tuesday Dusk Ethics Musings, 7/28/2020: Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

I had a friend who was sure the lyrics were about “ducks in the wind.” Dust, ducks, dusk…whatever. Never liked the song, but it suits my mood after today’s farewell to an old friend, maybe the sweetest person I’ve ever known or ever could know, at Arlington. Here were old friends, many who hadn’t seen each other in many years, standing around, six or more feet apart, trying to talk through masks and to recognize each other.

This is no way to live.

1. I have to say this: At a time when Gilbert and Sullivan is being “cancelled” by the sick combination of hyper-sensitivity to fantasy gender stereotypes and the ignorant belief that “The Mikado” is racist—morons!—I should not be forced to listen to Lifelight’s badly set, forced, incompetent parody of “The Major General’s Song.” I could write better lyrics than that, yes, even about vegetable meat substitutes, with half my brain tied behind my back. There’s no excuse for such lazy, lousy writing, especially for compensation. Was the writer the company CEO’s 12-year-old niece?  Gilbert and Sullivan were geniuses; their work shouldn’t be desecrated like that.

2. Shut up, David. David Price, who couldn’t be bothered to play baseball and help relieve the public’s stress for a paltry 10 million dollars, is home and sniping at Major League Baseball for not shutting down after 14 members of the Florida Marlins tested positive for the Wuhan virus. Well, some of his colleagues need their salaries, unlike Price, who has a 150 million or so in the bank unless he has a gambling habit, and baseball, to its credit, is determined to gut it out, much as it did during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Good. Thank-you.

3.  How can anyone take an award seriously that does something like this? On the other  hand, it’s comforting that after all these years, the Kennedys are still hyper-partisan, hypocritical, and silly. 2020’s Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Awards, which supposedly honors “changemakers” who are advancing human rights, equality and justice, have been awarded to, among others, Dr. Fauci and Colin Kaepernick. The Kennedys’ game could not be more transparent if they admitted it. Kaepernick, whose questionable contribution  to human rights has been kneeling where he shouldn’t and cashing in with Nike, but he’s a walking Black Lives Matter ad, and so it’s a poke in the President’s eye. As for Fauci, the message is that he’s brilliant, so Trump is the reason why the pandemic has raged.

Here are some recent award winners: Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Nancy Pelosi. 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 Batting Practice, 7/21/ 2020: Baseball Zoom Hangover Edition.

Isn’t that only TWO feet??

Last night’s Smithsonian Associates presentation on baseball and American culture went well, I guess. Presenting on Zoom is like acting in a closet: no connection to the audience, no way to gauge what is working and what isn’t, or whether the invisible viewers are engaged. It did give me  a chance, during the section on baseball cheating, to read one of my favorite passages from Philip Roth’s baseball allegory/satire,”The Great American Novel.” Roth’s narrator, mad sportswriter Word Smith, tells the sad tale of the legendary “Spit” Baal, a master of the spitball, the mucous-ball and other trick pitches aided by surreptitiously applied substances. After such adulterations of the ball were banned in 1920, Baal found his career in tatters, since he could no longer use his signature pitch. (In the real world, the National league and American league allowed acknowledged spitball specialists to continue to throw the pitch legally under a grandfather clause, but Roth’s fantasy  is about a third major league, wiped from history and record books in the Fifties following the discovery that it had been infiltrated by Communists.) One day, again seeing his dry pitches clobbered and realizing that he could no longer get batters out legally, “Spit” has a psychotic break on the mound that ends his career in spectacular if unsanitary fashion:

And so before twenty thousand shocked customers  including innocent children — and his own wide-eyed teammates, the once great pitcher, who was  washed up anyway, did the unthinkable, the unpardonable, the inexpiable. He dropped the flannel  trousers of his uniform to his knees, and proceeded  to urinate on the ball, turning it slowly in his hands  so as to dampen the entire surface. Then he hitched  his trousers back up, and in the way of pitchers,  pawed at the ground around the mound with his  spikes, churning up then smoothing down the dirt  where he had inadvertently dribbled upon it. To the  batter, as frozen in his position as anyone in that  ball park, he called, “Here comes the pissball, shithead — get ready!”

For years afterward they talked about the route that ball took before it passed over the plate. Not  only did it make the hairpin turns and somersaults  expected of a Baal spitter, but legend has it that it  shifted gears four times, halving, then doubling its  velocity each fifteen feet it traveled. And in the end,  the catcher, in his squat, did not even have to move  his glove from where it too was frozen as a target .Gagging, he caught the ball with a squish, right in  the center of the strike zone…

1. So this graph would seem to indicate that the news media is scare mongering, right? Continue reading

High Noon Ethics Showdown, 7/14/2020

“High Noon” is an ethics movie to be sure, but a very strange one. I put it on a list of ethics movies in 2016, but as I wrote then,

“High Noon” is a Western that shows the American people at their worst, refusing to help a single law man threatened on his wedding day, and cringing in fear and denial when their values need to be fought for.

I have long felt that the movie is like a “Twilight Zone” episode, or a Western version of “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers.” What’s wrong with those people? However, it feels less like a Rod Serling parable now, when I find myself thinking “What’s wrong with those people?” several times a day as I surf the news feeds.

It is reported that John Wayne was offered the role of the desperate law man, eventually played by the Duke’s friend, Gary Cooper. Wayne, who was always protective of the heroic character he had created over the course of his career, hated the script, and turned it down. I cannot imagine John Wayne running around a town begging for help as four gunfighters are on the way to seek revenge, and apparently neither could he. In response to “High Noon,” Wayne and Howard Hawks made “Rio Bravo,” about a sheriff who keeps refusing assistance as a rancher hires gunfighters to free the sheriff’s prisoner, his brother.  At every turn, people keep saving the sheriff anyway.

I think one reason Wayne wanted to star in “True Grit” so much is that Rooster Cogburn, old and fat, takes on four villains by himself, charging them on horseback with the reins in his teeth and guns blazing.

1. It’s amazing that everyone isn’t sick of this yet. The latest Times “fact check” of President Trump, like so many others, relies on an interpretations of the notoriously sloppy-speaking POTUS that nobody fair and attentive could possible  think was his intended meaning. The statement at issue was that “99% of which are totally harmless.”

By “totally harmless,” the hyperbole addicted President meant “aren’t fatal.” The game, however, is to pretend the Presidents words, whatever they are, are lies. (The Washington Post just updated its hilarious Trump lie database. I challenge anyone to pick ten entries at random that even include a majority of “lies.”)

The Times even writes, “Studies that have calculated the death rate based on broader antibody testing that takes these silent cases into consideration suggest an infection death rate of less than 1 percent, said Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the faculty director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.” 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

Unethical Website Of The Month: Etsy

I haven’t had an unethical website to feature for a while, once I decided that sites like the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN shouldn’t be considered. Today’s choice, however, really deserves the honor, because this is really, really stupid.

Etsy is a website that sells products from other producers, often small, home-based operations. During the Wuhan virus outbreak, Etsy merchants have been doing a booming business  marketing masks made out of mesh, lace, and other materials that have visible holes in them. These masks are advertised as fashionable, comfy, and “breathable,” none of which are features related to the purpose masks are supposed to serve. Continue reading