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.

***

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.

***

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.

***

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

Observations On The Rasmussen Poll Showing Trump Crushing Biden If The Election Were Held Today

First of all, polls.

The one in question is Rasmussen, which is the among the few polling organizations that do not have a perpetual left-wing bias, and that may have a conservative political bias. It is also worth noting that the election will not be held today, or even this year. Thus it is in the category of fake news that Ethics Alarms calls “future news.”

Many doubt, with some justification, that Joe Biden will last as President until 2024. He’s 79, and before this year is out will turn 80, what my father called the threshold to “the red zone,” when anyone that ancient or older faces a not insubstantial daily risk of dropping dead with little or no warning. Dad made it to 89 before dying—unexpectedly—during a nap, but he looked and seemed a lot healthier and less on the decline than Joe these days. Comedian Bob Saget was just 65 when his time ran out last week, also without warning, and he wasn’t even in the yellow zone.

Trump is no spring chicken either. He’ll be 76 this Spring: would you want to bet the farm that he’ll make 78 sufficiently hale and hearty to run a vigorous campaign, hold chatty rallies, and insult everyone who disagrees with him daily? The life expectancy of a 78-year-old male now is less than 10 years. That’s cutting it close. I’ll keep that farm, thanks.

Oh yeah, about the poll. A new Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey concluded that if the election were held today, 40% of likely U.S. voters would vote for President Biden, and 46% would vote for the previous POTUS, a large advantage.  10% say they would choose some other candidate in a Biden-Trump rematch, which doesn’t mean much: nobody knows who those other candidates might be, or if there will be any worthy of attention. If the also-rans are no better than the pathetic alternatives who were on the 2016 ballot, 10% is a highly inflated number.

Trump would get 81% support from GOP voters—that’s against Biden, remember: he’d get almost 100% when if he ran against, say, a piece of cheese. Biden would get 75% of Democrats, which is low for a party’s incumbent President.  With  independent voters, however, Trump would win today by a 16-point margin,  45% to Biden’s 29%.

Other observations that flow from this data… Continue reading

Let’s Check That “Echo Chamber”…

[ If you want to skip my explanation, you can start with paragraph #5.]

It’s a new year, and the last one had several outbreak of complaints here, some fair, some contrived, and some obnoxious, about Ethics Alarms being an “echo chamber” that either had insufficient diversity of opinion, discouraged diversity of opinion, inevitably favored one political/partisan end of the political spectrum over the other, or artificially tilted its analysis and reader reactions to my personal biases.

The analysis here should be consistent, and I expect readers to blow a whistle when it is not or seems that way. I also furiously reject the concept of ethical relativity, or that “you have your truth and I have mine.” A society needs to settle on its values and objectives, and those decisions need to be based on linear constants, or the result is chaos. It is also important, however, that those values and objectives be subject to constant analysis and reexamination. We learn by experience and debate: that’s the nature of ethics, as opposed to morality. It is also why diversity of viewpoint is valuable on an ethics blog. Different perspectives are invaluable in helping us cut through the underbrush of bias, conventional wisdom and lazy assumptions that impede our ability to distinguish right from wrong.

But there are structural flies in this buttermilk, the prime among them being human nature. People tend to want to see, hear, read and believe things that they find comforting and confirm their world views; being open minded is uncomfortable, even painful. Sometimes, it can be dangerous, or at least scary. One reason I spend the time I do on Ethics Alarms is that it forces me to read and consider opinions and examine topics that I normally would not.

The goal here has always been to promote a colloquy of thoughtful and articulate readers to focus on ethics and sharpen our habits of analysis while avoiding the jargon, excessively abstract navel-gazing and mind-numbing theoretical intellectualizing that has killed ethics as a topic the general public has any interest in or sufficient competence in applying. Whatever the reasons for it, the perceived trend, at least in the comments, for opinions to run in the same general direction (when there are valid and legitimate positions that point elsewhere) is “concerning” (as Prof Turley would say.)

This is all prelude to asking readers to place themselves on the ideological/political beliefs spectrum/world view spectrum. Before WordPress went to a hopelessly complicated system, I would have used a poll for this purpose, but none of the Ethics Alarms polls attracted more than a couple hundred participants out of the thousands that visit the blog every day. Now I’m going to give you a range of choices to answer the question, and I’ll be very grateful to those who take the time to answer it.

You can…

  • Just describe where you see yourself fitting.
  • Use a ten point scale with #1 being knee-jerk extreme Left on all matters and #10 being the opposite.
  • Take this online survey, which is dated but appears to be pretty good based on my own experience.
  • Or this one, which is also pretty good, by the Pew people.
  • Or you can try this one.

I’d like to hear from more of you than just the regular commentariat, so for this purpose only, I will accept submissions labeled “anonymous” or the equivalent. I will also relent and accept submission from readers who have been banned from commenting, as long as they stick to the topic.

None of the online tests are perfect, and many of the questions or propositions are too general (or specific. But I’ve taken all of them more than once, and have been surprised to find that they were remarkably consistent in their findings, and, at least in my case, perceptive. For example, here is where the Political Spectrum Quiz places me:

That’s not only where I think I am, it’s where I think I should be, as opposed to where the same survey places the average participant, which is where the green pointer resides:

I eagerly await your assistance.

RETRACTED! “The Guardian’s “Person Of The Year” Poll Disaster” [Updated]

Well, once again, I was lied to, fooled, and made an unwitting accomplice in a fake conservative news scam. Worse, I was led to the fake story by three sites I already have had bad experiences with, and thus should have been wary. ( Though memeorandum also pointed me to the story, and that is a reliably non-partisan aggregator.) As is usually the case in such situations, confirmation bias, mine, was at the heart of the mistake.  In the end, this is my responsibility, and thus my fault. I know better.

If I were Al Sharpton or Dan Rather, I might argue that what I wrote about the Guardian could have happened this way, so the article is accurate, though not true. I’m not, though. Here’s what really happened: the Guardian closed down not a poll on “The Person of the Year,” but reader nominations. It is true (maybe) that J.K. Rowling received the most nominations, but the nominations were closed because it was time to close them. She’s still on the slate of candidates.

I apologize to Ethics Alarms readers, commenters, the Guardian, J.K. Rowling, oh, everyone. And if I ever trust those sources again, hit me over the head with a brick when I’m not looking.

Thanks to Phlinn for catching this when I did not.

UPDATE: None of the sites that have run this botch have clarified or retracted it, except this one, as of 7:30 am the next day.

And there it is, right at the bottom in tiny print. The British paper “The Guardian” ran an online poll to determine readers’ 2021 “Person of the Year,” and then suddenly pulled the plug. Why would they do that?

They did it because J.K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” books, was winning the poll handily.  Rowling is currently a pariah with transgender activists for her quite reasonable assertions like insisting that human beings with penises cannot accurately be called “women” just because they want to be, and that the movement to recast what have been called women as “persons with uteruses” is ridiculous. She has refused to grovel an apology like most public figures threatened with “cancelling” because of views that differ from Leftist cant, and instead has doubled down repeatedly. Earlier this month she mocked Scotland’s law enforcement policy that allows accused rapists to self-identify as female, tweeting, “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman.” Continue reading

Ethics Workout, “Get In Ethics Shape For 2022 Edition,” 12/27/21: No Pain, No Gain!

1. On second thought, who needs work? The United States has been a nation that embraced work as a value and a mark of character as no other. Naturally, this core value has been under assault from the Left as part of its cultural overhaul strategy. The pandemic created an opining that has been brilliantly exploited politically, leading to a large part of the work force now unwilling to work. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, the biggest bloc of liberal lawmakers in Congress, has endorsed a bill proposed by Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., which would seek to implement a four-day workweek. Americans work far more than people in most other affluent countries, and we also produce more without using, as some countries do that I might mention, slave labor. But the work ethic is weakening.

The anti-work ethic is the goal on one of Reddit’s fastest growing sites — r/antiwork. The subreddit is “for those who want to end work, are curious about ending work, [and] want to get the most out of a work-free life.” It is up to 1.4 million members, ranking among the top subscribed-to subreddits.

Members discuss tactics workers can use to slack off, cheat, sabotage, and steal from their employers. You would learn there, for example, that April 15th is “Steal Something From Work Day.” [Pointer and source: Linking and Thinking on Education]

2. Observations on the Gallup Poll on public approval of Federal leaders (You can find the poll here).

  • Yes, I know, polls. But Gallup is straighter than most, and while the specific numbers should be ignored, the relative values are interesting.
  • The big finding, and what has been attracting all the headlines, is that Chief Justice John Roberts is way ahead of anyone else on the list, with a bipartisan 60-40 favorability split. This undercuts the pro-abortion strategy of warning that the Supreme Court can’t afford to make its decision on Roe v. Wade cases without considering the potential harm to the Court’s legitimacy. The Court seems to have the most trust of any of the branches, which means that it can (and should) be courageous if legal principles require.
  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is second. How many Americans know who he is or what he does? 20%? Less? What is it they approve of?
  • Dr. Fauci is third at 52% approval, which shows you can fool a lot of the people all of the time.
  • Mitch McConnell is dead last, even behind Nancy Pelosi. Good.

Continue reading

‘Values? What Values?’ The Most Admired People In The World

This depressed and discouraged me, so you might as well be discouraged too. Here’s the list of the 20 most admired men and women worldwide, according to a YouGov.com survey.

The  study surveyed “more than 42,000 people” in 38 countries and territories, and who knows how accurate it is. I would assume that the relative standings are pretty meaningless. However, I offer these observation based on the fact that we are supposed to admire people based on what they have accomplished that we regard as good, right and beneficial to humanity, and the values they exemplify in their lives. Envy is something entirely different. Thus my first observation is that the lists demonstrate that a decisive number of those surveyed do not comprehend the distinction between admiration and envy.

My second is that I see little evidence that values played a major role in the choices at all, and maybe any role.

Others: Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: NYT Pundit Nate Cohn

“The disconnect between Mr. Biden’s popular policies and his personal unpopularity is a little hard to understand.”

—New York Times columnist Nate Cohn, either actively trying to gaslight his readers or demonstrating the after effects of a lobotomy.

I hate to pick on Cohn, because this is just the most recent example of what appears to be the latest progressive/news media tactic to somehow rescue Democrats from the accountability at the ballot box they so rightly deserve. Just as the Big Lie used as part of the battle plan to remove President Trump was Big Lie #5: “Everything is Terriblewhen everything obviously wasn’t (too many things were good under Trump, see, and that was terrible for Democrats), the new Big Lie is “Joe is doing a great job!,” which is ridiculous. The mystery with Cohn and others who are publicly scratching their heads and wondering out loud, “Gee, what is it that the public doesn’t like?” is whether they really are so biased that they have become too stupid to be let alone to cross the street, whether they think the public is so stupid that they can be convinced by repetition,, Orwell-style, that Ignorance is Strength and Inflation is Good, or if they are really engaged in mass gaslighting, relying on the Jumbo, “Total policy failures? WHAT total policy failures?”

Continue reading

A Second Introduction To “Thoughts On What An Ethical Solution To The Abortion Ethics Conflict Might Look Like, Part 2: A Solution”

ViewsOnAbortion_v02_KA_1637005673621_hpEmbed_1x1_608

I decided that it was finally time to complete and post Part 2, having promised it way back in September. The impetus is two polls on the subject released today and yesterday. But having read the polls, I feel like a second introduction to Part 2 is necessary. (The first introduction, posted a day after Part I, is here.)

The first introduction closed, “Absent something that causes a tipping point in public opinion on the same level of influence as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” [on the public’s perception of slavery] the approach to abortion I offer in Part 2 is, and will ever be, impossible.” The two polls purport to tell us what the public’s current perception of abortion is. At least, that’s how they are being presented in the news media, which, as we all know, is completely unbiased on this topic as well as others.

I’m joking. Most of the media is ignoring the second poll, by Marquette, which makes the Washington Post-ABC poll that is more positive toward abortion incoherent. The Marquette poll found that more of those polled favored a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy than opposed it. Survey respondents were asked if they would favor or oppose a ruling to “uphold a state law that (except in cases of medical emergencies or fetal abnormalities) bans abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.” This is a direct reference to to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which SCOTUS will hear oral argument regarding on December 1. The case turns on the constitutionally of a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after….. 15 weeks of pregnancy. Allowing the law would, if not overrule Roe v. Wade, significantly limit it. Yet 37% of those polled approved of a decision upholding such a law, while 32% opposed such a result. The remaining 30% said they didn’t know enough to make a decision.

In most polls on other topics, that group that pleads ignorance are apathetic slugs, but on this topic, maybe they are the wise ones. How many Americans really know what Dobbs is about, or even what Roe v. Wade really says? My guess is considerably less than 50%. Maybe less than 25%. 10%?

The Post-ABC poll that is being waved triumphantly in the public’s face is the one summarized in the diagram above (the data is here) and claims that large majorities of Americans “support maintaining Roe v. Wade, oppose states making it harder for abortion clinics to operate and see abortion primarily as a decision to be made by a woman and her doctor, not lawmakers.” How can that be the case if a majority also believes that woman and doctors should not be able to decide to abort an unborn baby after only 15 weeks?

It can’t.

What’s going on here?

Americans, except for small numbers of activists on both sides, haven’t thought carefully about the issues in abortion sufficiently to have an informed opinion about it. That’s what.

I would like to have the groups polled by Marquette and ABC/Washington Post pollsters asked if they have read Roe. What’s your guess: how many would say they have? 5%? Less? How many have thought about when a fetus should have the right to live? If they were shown a photo of a fetus at 8 months, would they support aborting it? Six months? Three?

Of those who say they support abortions in the case of rape or incest, and were asked why how a human is conceived should change its right to live, how many could answer intelligently? How many have thought about it? How many have the education and critical thinking skills to analyze the problem competently?

If you asked if a man who killed a woman who was three months pregnant should be prosecuted for killing one human being or two, what would the majority answer? If they answered “two” and then they were asked, “How can it be murder if an unborn child is killed by anyone else, but no crime if the killer is the mother?,” how many would mutter “Huminahumina”?

The vast, vast majority of Americans thinks about abortion so shallowly as to be ethically useless, simply following their peer groups, or joining one team of the other who band together under deliberately misleading labels: “pro-life,” which ignores on of the crucial interests in involved in abortion policy, and “pro-choice,” which ignores the other. Or they don’t think about abortion at all.

No political, legal or societal acceptable solution to the abortion ethics conflict is possible when the public remains this ignorant and apathetic. A condition precedent to any solution, therefore, is to bring about a dramatic shift in public consciousness and commitment—that tipping point I mentioned before. That’s what “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” did: it forced people who had never thought seriously about slavery and what it meant to think, and once they did, they opposed it.

Polls are easily manipulated and generally do more harm than good, but these two, taken together, show us a way out. The public needs something or someone who will make its members think about abortion and its issues, honestly and without the spin, obfuscation, emotionalism and bullshit. If a metaphorical slap in the face could be found for slavery, one can be made for abortion.

So getting to that slap is the first part of any solution.

Got it.

Now I’m finally ready to finish Part 2…

Ethics Observations On President Biden’s Crashing Poll Numbers [Corrected]

todd-poll

The mainstream news media and progressive gaslighting aficionados were shocked–-shocked!—when habitually left-biased and incompetent NBC talking head Chuck Todd went on Democratic propaganda organ MSNBC and revealed that the most recent NBC poll showed public trust and regard for President Biden and Democrats plummeting like Icarus.

What was shocking wasn’t that Biden was polling horribly, but that he was polling so horribly that MSNBC would report it. Not only are polls unrelaible at best, they are manipulated to confuse and mislead the public by left-biased media contractors (only the Fox News polling is showing Terry McAuliffe trailing Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, for example, which he is, and badly). Moreover, the news media routinely buries or misrepresents polls that carry bad portents for Democrats.

The poll found that 42% of U.S. adults surveyed approved of Biden’s job performance and 54% disapproved, despite a 49%-48% split as recently as August. The survey was conducted jointly by Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies.

Observations:

Continue reading

Most Damning Poll Results Yet: Only 43% Of Registered Voters Have Minimally Adequate Knowledge Of The Constitution, Law, Democracy, and Reality [Bad Link Fixed!]

This is even more depressing than the number of people who think Joe Biden is doing a just dandy job as President.

43% of those asked in a Morning Consult- Politico poll responded that the 2020 election should definitely not be overturned. That means that 57% are not certain that the election shouldn’t be overturned. Some think it probably shouldn’t be overturned—12%. 35% responded that the election results should definitely or probably be overturned. Morons. Since the election can’t possibly be overturned under any law imaginable or any sequence of events, and since even attempting such a thing would cause total chaos, the only answer that indicates that a respondent was taught civics by a fully functioning primate is: “Of course the 2020 election shouldn’t be overturned. What are you, nuts? Why are we wasting time even discussing this? Why don’t you ask if “Imagine” should come true?”

Continue reading