Waning 2020 Ethics Warm-Up


A reader reports that he can’t pull up Ethics Alarms on Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. Is anyone else having this problem?

Wasn’t it nice when we naively assumed that such things were just technical glitches and not part of Big Tech’s increasingly intrusive alliance with the totalitarian-minded forces of the extreme Left?

1. Embrace the narrative. “Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow dies with COVID-19” is just one of many headlines announcing that the 41-year-old Representative-elect died from the Wuhan virus. So far, every headline I’ve seen is some version of this. Letlow died of a heart attack, in fact, during some un-named procedure related to his treatment for the virus. People die of unexpected heart attacks with some frequency during hospital procedures for other problems, and the cause of death is usually listed as “heart attack.” Maybe the virus caused his death and maybe it didn’t, but the headlines stating this as fact is more pandemic fearmongering, and. yes, fake news.

2. Good. You will recall that Twitter censored The New York Post’s account of the incriminating Hunter Biden laptop being found because it claimed that the business memos, photos of a Hunter using illegal drugs, and other disturbing photos came from a “hacker,” when Twitter’s real objective was, it seems fair to conclude, to keep as many people as possible from learning about matters that might cause them not to vote for Hunter’s father. Now the computer repair company’s owner is  suing Twitter for $500,000,000.00 for libel, defamation, and ruining his business, claiming that the social media giant disparaged him.

3. One more reason to distrust the election results: President Donald Trump topped former President Barack Obama for the title of most admired man in America in Gallup’s 2020 survey. Trump had tied with Obama in 2019 while Obama beat him in 2017 and 2018. President Joe Biden came in third. Obama had been #1 since 2008.

Don’t you find this strange?

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/7/19: Fleeing The US, Exploiting The Golden Globes, Spinning The Shutdown, And More

Best wishes for an ethical week ahead!

1. They just can’t help themselves. Golden Globe hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh went out of their way before the show to sell the idea that last night’s Golden Globes Awards would avoid political grandstanding, but sure enough, there was Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical winner Christian Bale, who plays Dick Cheney in “Vice,” accepting his honor by saying that he was “cornering the market on charisma-free a—holes … What do we think, Mitch McConnell next?” [Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!]

If I were the producer or on the Golden Globes board, I’d ban him from future ceremonies. Bale, who is probably the best actor still acting now that Daniel Day-Lewis has retired, was just virtue-signaling to the left-biased Hollywood crowd, and willing to annoy a lot of his audience to do it. There’s nothing productive or profound about calling two public servants, one of them retired, “a-holes” on national television; it’s just uncivil and rude. Not only that, but Bale is a genuine hypocrite: Less than a month ago, the actor spoke glowingly about Cheney, telling Fox News, “He was a wonderful family man — he’s a great dad, he’s an avid reader, he has a brain like a vice and he constantly reads history.” It sounds to me like Bale cuts his opinions and words to fit the audience he’s addressing.

2.  From the Ethics Alarms “How Dare You Make Me Act Like A Jackass?” Files: The mainstream media has been using a Gallup poll showing that 16% of Americans polled say they want to leave the country as an indictment of President Trump. The spin is based on the narrative that anything negative is Trump’s fault, and anything positive that occurs is dumb luck, a late result of Barack Obama’s brilliance, or because Trump’s real objectives were foiled. In truth, the uptick in citizens saying they want to leave is a direct result of non-stop anti-American propaganda, in the schools, the colleges, in the news media, and from activists who pretend that the nation is an oppressive, autocratic, Fascist Hell where every woman is at risk of being raped, white supremacy is rampant, and African Americans are hunted down and shot on the streets for “living while black.” This state of mind has been seeded and cultivated entirely by “the resistance” and the ideologues who created it.

As several others have pointed out, Gallup’s summary that “a record number of Americans want to leave the U.S.” is fake news, and in multiple ways. There is no “number,” just a percentage of the group Gallup polled. That percentage, moreover, represents the alleged pollees who say they want to leave the U.S., not the ones who really want to, which would be demonstrated by some proactive steps to accomplish that objective. Women, under-30s and the poorest Americans make up the bulk of the 6% jump from the 10% of Americans who said they wanted to flee while Obama was President. I  attribute the result to 1) the despicable, constant fear-mongering by Democrats, as in the ridiculous claims that Brett Kavanaugh would send the nation’s women into “A Handmaiden’s Tale”-style sexual slavery; 2) the general civic ignorance of millennials, too many of whom who get their knowledge of national affairs from Stephen Colbert and social media, and who have been conditioned to think that trading liberty for nanny state socialism would be a rational trade;  3) the false narrative, pushed by the news media,  that President Trump is a racist; and 4) the fact that it is traditionally the progressives who threaten to leave the country whenever the Democrats aren’t in power, not conservatives when their star is waning. (Why is that?)

Ethical and civically literate Americans recognize that they are responsible for changing their nation for the better, whatever “better” is. Leaving is a cowardly and unpatriotic act, and my position is that if someone thinks losing an election is justification to leave for foreign shores, the U.S., its society and its politics are better off without them.


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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, New Years Day, 2018: The Year On Ethics Alarms, The College Sports Scam, And A Poll That Is Less Than Meets The Eye

1 Stats and things. For the first time, Ethics Alarms had less traffic than the year before, down almost 10%. I was expecting at least a 10% jump, so this is disappointing, though I probably should have seen it coming. The 2016 campaign drew a lot of interest to the site, and that year was a major jump from the previous one. The blog ends the year with more followers than it had at the beginning, and the number of comments were up over 2016. I would also say that the quality of comments was dramatically better, with the most Comments of the Day ever.

The post that had the most comments in 2017 was a COTD, in fact: Comment of the Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/17: Rushing In Panic Around My Boston Hotel Room Because I Didn’t Get My Wake-Up Call Edition” with 324, among the most ever.

The author? Zoltar Speaks!

It’s just vanity and ego to worry about traffic fluctuations. I’m competitive by nature; it’s a flaw. I’d love Ethics Alarms to have sufficient name recognition and exposure to have a measurable influence in public discourse, but that’s always been unlikely, given the subject matter. What I should care most about, and do, when I’m being rational, is that the discussions here are uniformly of high quality, avoid the idiotic “Yeah, well what about Bush, you repug?” back and forth threads of most websites, and that there is a daily colloquy here that I can be proud to host. Besides, if Ethics Alarms were widely quoted, I’d have to put up with being called a “self-proclaimed ethicist” more often.

I also banned far fewer commenters this year than last year. That’s a good thing.

Next to the search engines and WordPress, the most referrals came through the Washington Post and the New York Times. The Althouse blog sent more readers here than any other blog, which is nice, especially since Ann still doesn’t bother to include me in her blogroll.

Not counting stand alone pages, like the About page and the Rationalizations List, the top viewed posts in 2017 were 1) the 2016 anti Snopes post; 2) the 2013 workplace ethics post, 3) “Wanetta Gibson is Worse Than I Thought” (2014); 4) the initial VW scandal post from 2015;  5) the 2015 post about ventriloquist Jeff Duham’s marital problems (Don’t ask me why; it’s a mystery); 6) the Listerine and alcoholics post from way back in 2010; 7) the Foundation for a Better Life post (2011); 8) The anti-“What Would You Do?” post, also from 2011, and it is depressing that the thing is still being broadcast; 9) finally a 2017 post, The Naked Teacher Principle, Ex-Porn Star Variation, and 10) also from last year, my take-down of Sally Yates.

That last was also the first politics-related post to turn-up on the list, which tells you something, though I’m not sure what. The Ethics Alarms post that I have most linked to in 2017 was buried deep on the list at 136: 2015’s, A Nation Of Assholes: The Ultimate, Undeniable And Crucial Reason Donald Trump Must Never Be President.

As in every year, I think, none of the posts that I thought were the most important or my best work were among the most read.

Thanks to all the readers and commenters who have made this past year a rewarding and challenging one.

Next year will be even better.

2. While you watch those Bowl games, think about this...College sports critic Mike McIntire explains the absurd status of big money in college sports in his article, “The College Sports Tax Dodge.” An excerpt: Continue reading

Observations On The Illegal Immigration Ethics Train Wreck, The Ugliest Of Them All


Nobody, literally nobody, has managed to stay off this Ethics Train Wreck by now. The over-flowing passenger list includes…

Democrats, who cynically want to encourage law-breaking to tilt the nation’s demographics toward what they think will be a permanent electoral advantage

Law enforcement, which has ducked its duty to keep our borders secure

Big business, which wants to preserve an underground economy that provides cheap and frightened labor that allows it to pay unconscionably low wages;

Conservatives, whose refusal to consider any path to citizenship for the millions we have already allowed to stay here by our non-enforcement of our own laws is irresponsible in the absence of any other realistic plan (mass deportation being too repulsive to contemplate);

Democrats, who have foolishly heralded policies, like the Dream Acts, that  provide an incentive for illegal immigration;

U.S. citizens who happily accept the benefits of services provided by illegals while claiming to oppose the process that allowed them to tend their gardens and care for their children

Hispanic-Americans, who have chosen heritage over country by continuing to support continued law breaking by relatives, friends, and others with whom they may share a language or a country of origin;

Congress, which as been lazy and cowardly and avoided its responsibility for decades;

The Justice Department, which has fought to prevent states from taking action to stem the illegal tide that is overwhelming their social services;

Illegal immigration advocates, who have deliberately clouded the issue by calling anyone who doesn’t advocate open borders (that is, sovereign suicide) as racist, and have used deceitful euphemisms to confound immigration, which the U.S. public unanimously supports and has done so for a century, and illegal immigration, which it has not and should not;

The mainstream news media, which has aided and abetted this confusion, supported the race-baiters, encouraged the deceptive use of euphemisms like “comprehensive immigration reform” (which means, “let’s stop enforcing immigration laws”) and outright deception, like calling “illegal immigration” “immigration, ”  while consistently misrepresented the issue as a humanitarian problem rather than a matter of sovereignty, law enforcement and common sense;

The illegals themselves.

The American public, which despite overwhelmingly opposing “amnesty,” whatever it thinks that is, remains inattentive, feckless and ignorant regarding the issue.

Have I left anyone out? Sure I have: President Obama, who has booked a luxury berth on this train. Continue reading

Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck Update: The Wreckage So Far, and The Wreckers

The "George Zimmerman Is a Racist" segment in Clinton Mitchell's high school ethics class.

Gallup released a poll yesterday, showing:

  • African-Americans are nearly five times more likely to be convinced that gunman George Zimmerman is “definitely guilty” of a crime than non-blacks.
  • 75% of African-Americans believe that racial bias led to Martin’s shooting, whereas less than half of non-blacks do, though a majority of the public believe that race was a factor in the tragedy.
  • 73% of blacks, about twice the percentage of the rest of the population,  believe that Zimmerman would have been arrested if the person he shot was white.

What we now have, clearly, is  significant, dangerous, and festering racial distrust, not created solely by the Trayvon Martin incident but exacerbated by it. This can only harm race relations, law enforcement, and the nation generally, and yet it is beyond argument that this divide has been encouraged and nurtured. Obviously the potential already existed, and one would think that responsible figures in public life, the civil rights establishment, elected office and the media would take the responsible course and attempt to minimize the shooting’s potential for increasing racial divisiveness in America.

They did not. Once again, they ripped the scab right off racial healing, and did so recklessly, cruelly, ineptly, and in some cases, maliciously. They are still doing it, or passively allowing it to be done by others. This is wrong, and shockingly so. Rational and fair analysts and observers all along the ideological spectrum should be saying so, but they are not. Fairness and honesty should not partisan issues. Playing the politics of hate and divisiveness is a threat to the fabric of the United States of America and in this case, risks unraveling decades of progress in race relations and understanding. There can be no excuse for it, and yet the primary culprits reside among the most influential and prominent institutions in the country. Journalists. Congress. Civil rights organizations. Pundits. Educators. And the President of the United States. Continue reading

Our Untrusted Professions: Another One Bites The Dust…Or Should.

Come to think of it, Mr. Gower would have put poison in a boy's medicine if it hadn't been for George Bailey...

America’s trust crisis, which has seen virtually all its institutions decline precipitously in public trust, hasn’t left the professions unscathed. Far from it: Gallups’ annual poll of the public’s regard for the professions, the most recent of which was released last December, showed accountants trusted by only 43% of the public (abysmal for a profession whose only mission is to accurately determine the truth and to relay it—funeral directors are trusted more), journalists at just 26% (which is more than they deserve), bankers at 25%, lawyers at an insulting 19% (for a profession that includes honesty as a core ethical requirement), business executives slightly less at 18% (but no lower than those champions of the 99%, labor leaders, also at 18%). Stockbrokers, who figure to have fallen even lower after Greg Smith’s anti-Goldman Sachs diatribe, came in at a “can’t be trusted to deliver the water bill payment” 12%, and then we’re really in the pits of utter distrust, with lobbyists, used car salesmen, and members of Congress, all tied for last place at 7%.

In contrast, one of the professions that always is on top of the list or near it is pharmacists. In 2011, the friendly neighborhood druggist scored a trust rate of 73%, better than doctors and second only to the perennial champs of the last decade, nurses.

Well, all that trust in pharmacists appears to be misplaced. Continue reading

Gallup’s Trust Survey: Congress in Freefall

Gallup’s just released annual survey of public attitudes toward various professions held few surprises this year. As has been the case for over a decade,nurses and pharmacists topped the list as the  professions regarded as the most honest and ethical. I find the presence of high school teachers fourth (ahead of police officers)  a triumph of public relations, nostalgia and wishful thinking, but the other top rated professions were predictable. In general, the professions we are forced to depend upon the most are the ones we trust the most—because we have little choice. The ones we trust the least tend to be those with whom we can be in conflict with or see as having differing interests from our own. Doctors are always going to rank higher than lawyers, for example, because there are no doctors trying to make us sick.

Of the 21 professions in the survey, only seven—including funeral directors!—had positive numbers, meaning that more people regarded them as ethical than unethical. The seriously distrusted professions, with a percentage of very low ratings significantly higher than the proportion of very high ratings, begins with lawyers, business executives, union leaders, stock brokers, and advertising execs in order of trustworthiness; bankers, interestingly, avoided this group and had about as many supporters as detractors. But the bottom four is where the really dishonest professionals dwell, according to the poll. With single digit positive ratings compared to negative ratings of  more than 50% are telemarketers, car salesmen, lobbyists, and at the very bottom, Congress, with 64% of the public regarding the institution as dishonest and unethical. That, Gallup says, is not only the lowest rating for Congress since the survey has been taken; it is the worst rating for any profession.

That Congress has sunk so far is not a surprise. It is just depressing.

Here are the results:

Chris Plante and the Cupcakes: Why You Can’t Trust Talk Show Hosts

A new Gallup poll shows that the public’s trust in news media has plunged to discouraging new (but completely deserved) levels. One of the side effects of this, the inevitable and correct result of  the incompetence, arrogance and bias of journalists and editors every single day, is that the public has begun to trust even less trustworthy sources. For example, a large proportion of twenty-somethings get their primary news information from the Daily Show, which is today’s equivalent of using Bob Hope’s monologues as a current events resource. This is foolish beyond words, because Jon Stewart’s professional obligation is to be entertaining, provocative and funny, not fair, accurate, or responsible. Indeed, if he has an opportunity to make a hilarious joke and doesn’t do it because it would require distorting the truth, he’s breaching a professional duty. He’s accountable to no one; he has no ethical standards to meet. It is unfair to rely on Jon Stewart for the news. He doesn’t want your trust: don’t trust him.

Others…older, but no wiser…go to public issue talk shows as their primary news sources. These people are not journalists either. They may be lawyers, former military men, spooks, authors, agitators, stealth political candidates,  or pundits; they may also be comedians, satirists, blowhards, ignoramuses, idiots, misanthropes, radicals, cynics, phonies or bigots. Among their ranks are too many agendas to count, in addition to those they all share: they want you to listen to them and adopt their views of the world. Those agendas are not conducive to truth either.

Some of the talk show hosts are less trustworthy than others. Take Chris Plante, for example—a B-list conservative talk show host whose primary tools are smugness and mockery. Continue reading

Gallup Poll: Trust in Freefall

The Gallup poll has released its survey of the public’s trust in various institutions, and also shows whether the public’s trust has increased and decreased over the past year. No surprises: virtually every institution has lost public trust, with only the medical system and big business (which hit a historic low in 2009) improving more than a percentage point.

The bottom of the barrel? Why Congress, naturally. You had to ask?

And the biggest drop in trust since last year, by far, goes to the institution of the Presidency, down 15%. No other institution declined half as much.

For a system of government uniquely dependent on mutual trust, this poll is more than bad news. It is a warning. Continue reading

Try the “Ethicability” Test!

British “corporate philosopher” Roger Steere has developed an on-line “Ethicability” test that is worth the time to take. (I know…I hate the title too.)  Of course, self-evaluations of ethical conduct are notoriously suspect, as the Gallup Poll proves every year. (Most Americans think they are the most ethical individuals they know.) This one focuses on integrity, however, and the computer-generated scores and the personal assessment are thought-provoking. I took it; I think anyone who knew me well would have been more accurate, but it wasn’t wildly off the mark.

See how you do, and if you have a couple more minutes, post your reactions at Ethics Alarms. Is this sort of thing useful?

The test is here.