David Brooks, A Trump Derangement And “Bias Makes You Stupid” Case Study

New York Times opinion columnist David Brooks should have that famous epitaph tattooed on his forehead.

He was once an independent, erudite, interesting essayist of conservative leanings. Then he accepted big bucks to be the New York Times’ token conservative pundit. Soon, after forced contact with Charles Blow, Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman, the Times version on the Stockholm Syndrome took over shortly before the election of Donald Trump, whom, to be fair, the tweedy and classist Brooks surely would have regarded as icky even before his re-education by the Times. Today’s model of David Brooks is incapable of objective analysis, He serves a neon-bright cautionary tale of what happens when bias eats away at one’s analytical abilities and credibility.

Take his latest column…please.

It is called “The Sad Tales of George Santos,” but it quickly devolves into one more gratuitous attack on Donald Trump. What it most reveals, however, is how far David Brooks has fallen.

Halfway through this mess, Brooks writes, after stating the obvious about Rep.-elect George Santos,

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What Shannon Epstein Does Is Not National News And It Is Unethical Journalism To Pretend It Is

From The Blaze:

On Thanksgiving Day, Shannon Epstein, 25, climbed aboard a Spirit Airlines flight headed from New Orleans to New Jersey. However, after the plane left the gate but before it could take off, Epstein allegedly began causing a scene, accusing a Latina family seated near her of “smuggling cocaine.”

Because of the wild accusation, airport officials decided to redirect the plane back to the gate so that Epstein could be removed. However, she refused to cooperate, reports say. When deputies tried to force her to deplane, she became “extremely combative,” said Capt. Jason Rivarde of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

During a scuffle with six deputies at Louis Armstrong International Airport, Epstein supposedly caused several injuries. She has been accused of biting one officer in the arm to such an extent that she broke the skin. She has also been accused of kicking another officer in the groin.

Many other news sources including NBC News, Yahoo! and The New York Post are headlining this story and giving it far more circulation and attention than the typical “wacko goes nuts on an airplane” tale.

Why do Shannon Epstein’s antics matter? They don’t. She’s irrelevant to the nation, national security, the economy and the culture. Thousands of more substantive crimes have been committed by similarly insignificant people since she had her meltdown.

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A Non-Election Day Ethics Special! An Ethics Test For Baseball Hall Of Fame Voters

The major League Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown released its eight-player Contemporary Baseball Era ballot yesterday, as part of its revamped enshrinement process. A 16-person committee including of Hall of Fame players, baseball executives and veteran sportswriters will vote on the candidates at baseball’s winter meetings in December. A player must receive 12 votes to be elected.

All of the eight players failed to get enough votes through the regular voting process. The players on the list, limited to distinguished players who made their greatest contributions from 1980 to the present era, include…

  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Curt Schilling
  • Albert Belle
  • Don Mattingly
  • Fred McGriff
  • Dale Murphy, and
  • Rafael Palmeiro.

A clearer ethics test for the voters would be hard to imagine. The threshold question is whether last year’s admission to the Hall of Red Six icon David Ortiz, who once tested positive for an unidentified performance enhancing drug according to test results that were illegally leaked, will be regarded as sufficient precedent to admit Bonds, Clemens, and or Palmeiro. That Bonds was a long-time steroid cheat who did great damage to the game is undeniable. The evidence against Clemens is weaker, but still damning. Palmeiro had the distinction of going before Congress and proclaiming that steroids were the bane of the game and he would never sully himself by using them, and quickly thereafter testing positive himself. None of those three should be admitted to the Hall, and the presence of current Hall of Fame members, I hope, may ensure that they are not. Continue reading

The Times Promises To Explain “How the NFL Stays So Popular, Despite Its Many Scandals”

It doesn’t. But I can.

As the football season approaches, the New York Times muses about why television viewership for the NFL last season was its strongest in six years, the television networks committed about $110 billion for the rights to show the league’s games for the next decade, and how the NFL can be on track to meet Commissioner Roger Goodell’s goal of earning $25 billion in revenue annually in 2027. After all, the game and its players were once again engulfed in scandals during the off-season:

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Labor Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/2022: Which Are The Pod People And Which Are The Fascists?

1. More on Biden’s speech…I finally read the text of President Biden’s speech; it was even worse than I expected. What kind of advisors would let a President make such a speech? What kind of President would deliver it rather than fire the speechwriter and whoever advocated saying such stuff in public? It says something significant about the distribution of partisan extremism in the media that CNN and MSNBC would be the only networks to broadcast it, yet, ironically, as true blue propagandists, they should have embargoed the speech for their party’s own good. Fox News should have wanted to broadcast it. It’s the best marketing for the Republican Party I’ve ever seen.

Because there is, as the saying goes, no reason to re-invent the wheel, I’m going to send you over to Althouse for her section-by-section analysis, which is close enough to mine to make a parallel post here a waste of time. A sample:

There are far more Americans, far more Americans from every background and belief, who reject the extreme MAGA ideology than those that accept it.

His version of the soul of America represents what “far more” Americans think, so — what? — screw those other people? Something like 47% of voters voted for Trump, but even if the Trump voters were more dramatically overwhelmed by throngs of more “normal” people, they are still part of the population. Or maybe it’s not about excluding everyone who’s not in the majority. Maybe it’s about rejecting them because they have “extreme MAGA ideology.” What is “extreme MAGA ideology”? Desire for a secure border? Pro-life? Really, what are the elements that Biden envisions as not worthy of debate but justifying denouncement as not normal and not mainstream?

And folks, it’s within our power, it’s in our hands, yours and mine, to stop the assault on American democracy….

It seems to me that it’s within our power to participate in democracy and vote. Where is this “assault”? Why in the name of all that is normal and mainstream is he conjuring up violence — an “assault”? It’s going on right now. Don’t you see it? The “assault” I see is the effort to keep Donald Trump from running again. If the overwhelming majority of Americans reject his “extreme MAGA ideology,” what’s the problem? Let him run and he will be defeated.

Ann calls the speech “disturbing and incoherent.” I’d call it dangerous and irresponsible. Continue reading

Cognitive Dissonance Also Makes You Stupid: Now NeverTrump Conservatives Are Offended By “1776”

Anti-Trump madness, aka. Trump Derangement, is causing some Republicans and conservatives to support Democrats, progressives and anti-American totalitarians on the rise in their gradual rejection of all traditional American institutions, heroes, symbols and images. On the Left, the reason for the push to kick them into the dustbin of history is a basic dislike of the nation and its values generally: it’s always been racist, sexist, and imperial, you see, essentially bad, so it needs to be torn down. Everything American became unbearable once slavery was strategically accorded a position so deep and low on the cognitive dissonance scale that the United States’ historical connection to it drags literally everything American below the center line.

Here’s Dr. Festinger’s essential scale again:

The idea is that what we associate with something or someone inevitably affects how we feel about them. If, for example, I am positively inclined toward a character on a TV show—let’s say that character has a plus 4 score on my scale—and that character states admiration for someone whom I detest, say Megan Rapinoe (at least a minus 20 in my estimation), that obnoxious opinion would pull the once-admired character well below zero, which indicates neutral regard. Dr. Festinger’s theories argue that Megan would also improve her ranking by being connected to that character. Continue reading

Founders’ Are Denigrated In Their Own Homes …And An Organized Protest Is Required

Apparently the Mad Left’s historical air-brushing mania that began with toppling statues of important American figures from the Confederacy such as Robert E. Lee, moved on to removing statues of Teddy Roosevelt and banning benign college mascots that evoked the Revolutionary era (like George Washington U’s “Colonial”), and generally has sought to “cancel” any American patriot or President who owned slaves, is now turning tours of Thomas Jefferson’s and James Madison’s homes in Virginia into attacks on the two essential figures in our democracy.

At Monticello, Jefferson’s self-designed home that is a tourist attraction in Charlottesville, Virginia, the non-profit operating the site is using its progressive political agenda to make a visit less a pilgrimage of respect than indoctrination into anti-Jeffersonism. A recent visitor described the experience as “depressing and demoralizing and truly upsetting,” with Jefferson-hostile tour guides claiming that his reputation is “wildly overblown.” Of course, this is all because Jefferson was a slave-holder, in direct contradiction of the values and rights he espoused in the Declaration of Independence. Arguably, Jefferson’s slave-holding was more revolting than that of other men of his time, as it included treating one of his slaves, Sally Hemings (and his dead wife’s half-sister) as his concubine. Ick. But Jefferson was a weak and conflicted man with a brilliant and perceptive mind; his slave-holding and other personal flaws, and there were many, are not why he must be celebrated and honored as one of those most responsible for the nation’s existence.

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Woke Derangement Symdrome-Infected Conservatives Board An Ethics Train Wreck To…Hungary??

This was late crossing my consciousness, perhaps because I do not trust Tucker Carlson and will not watch his allegedly sincere rants because we know, or should, that he is more interested in ratings than principles. The idea of prominent conservatives suddenly deciding the the U.S. can learn from Hungary, of all places, is ridiculous on its face, but I did not realize the extent to which the current wokeness epidemic has driven many conservatives and Republicans into the mouth of madness.

Carlson has been broadcasting nightly from Budapest, as he has interviewed and celebrated Hungary’s corrupt and authoritarian leader, Viktor Orban.There is no excuse for this, but Carlson thinks Fox News viewers will approve of his: Orban has defied the European Union on the issue of accepting illegal immigrants and refugees, and has installed harsh measures against trans individuals and LGBTQ people generally. He also has taken action to intimidate and control the news media. In embracing such a leader, Carlson (and others—I’ll get to them shortly) is realizing the worst stereotypes of conservative Americans.

Orban is a central-casting anti-democracy thug. Last year, he pushed the Hungarian parliament, which his party controls, to pass laws creating a state of emergency without a time limit, granting him the ability to rule by decree, suspending elections to fill positions that have become conveniently vacant between regular elections, and permitting prison sentences for spreading “fake news.” But his real appeal to Carlson and the Cro Magnon subspecies of conservatives is his persecution of gays and trans individuals. In 2020, Orbán’s government ended legal recognition of transgendered people, and his party has proposed legislation to ban “LGBtQ positive content” in movies, books or advertising.

Gee, what a great guy! Do conservatives comprehend the cognitive dissonance scale at all? This autocratic creep is so underwater on the scale, I’d say a minus hundred or more…

Cognitive Dissonance-SMALL

…that he would drag the Puppies Are Adorable Party below zero if it endorsed him. But on their own currently warped scale, conservatives’ terror over losing such culture war battles as the same-sex marriage debate and illegal immigration restrictions has wokeness so low on the their scale that an aspiring dictator who opposes gays and illegals appears to be in positive territory.

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For Ethics Alarms, The Controversy Over The Unmarried Pregnant Art Teacher Is An Easy Call

pregnant teacher

I lost an ethics training client over the issue now raising its ethically-muddled head in New Jersey. Several years ago, during a day long seminar I taught for a teachers association, I stated that a teacher who taught grade school, middle school of high school students while pregnant and unmarried was harming her students, and that responsible school were ethically entitled to make pregnancy outside of marriage grounds for dismissal. Literally all of the attendees were outraged (even the two men in the group), though none could articulate a valid argument against what I said. (“The right to choose!” is not a valid argument in this context.)

I was right, they were wrong. The controversy now over a Catholic school art teacher who is demanding that she should have been able to keep her job despite being pregnant is much easier, or should be.

Victoria Crisitello was an art teacher at the New Jersey’s St. Theresa elementary school in Kenilworth. In the course of negotiating for a raise, she mentioned that she was having a baby. Weeks later, she was fired by the principal, a Roman Catholic nun, who explained that she was being terminated “because she was pregnant and unmarried.” “Sex out of wedlock violates a fundamental Catholic belief that the school in this instance felt it could not overlook,” lawyers for St. Theresa’s wrote in a petition to the state Supreme Court. Crisitello’s lawsuit was tossed out by two trial court judges, only to be restored each time when an appeals court sided with the ex-teacher. Now the state’s highest court, acting on an appeal by the school, has agreed review the case, which raises the continuing thorny question about the relationship between the government and religion.

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From Garry Wills, A “Bias Makes You Stupid” Cautionary Tale

aristotle-at-university-of-thessaloniki-greece

                                     Abortion authority, Aristotle…

“Bias Makes You Stupid,” an Ethics Alarms slogan so perpetually relevant that it has its own topic category, has seldom been so tragically demonstrated than by Garry Wills’ embarrassing op-ed in today’s New York Times titled “The Bishops Are Wrong About Biden — and Abortion.” Wills is one of America’s most prolific and provocative public intellectuals. Now an emeritus professor of history at Northwestern, he has written more than 50 books on such diverse topics as Richard Nixon, John Wayne, and the Gettysburg Address. I’ve read those three and a couple of others; he’s an unusually good writer for a historian, rigorous in his scholarship and fair in his selection of references. But Wills is also a Roman Catholic and an academic liberal and progressive, so he is apparently plagued by guilt and cognitive dissonance. It is most depressing to watch this man whose analysis I have so often admired descend into the most hoary of logical fallacies, rationalizations and worst of all, intellectual dishonesty in order to defend, of all people, Joe Biden, who in a game of Scrabble with Wills would be placing words like “CAT” on the board while the historian was laying down SYZYGY on a triple word score.

Progressives feel they have to defend abortion to stay on “the team,” and frequently get themselves into the worst logical traps when they try to do so. Here’s how desperate Wills is: he actually wrote this: “The opponents of abortion who call themselves “pro-life” make any form of human life, even pre-nidation ova, sacred. But my clipped fingernails or trimmed hairs are human life.” A lie AND a ridiculous analogy! Only the most extreme and radical of “pro-life” activists argue that a fertilized egg that fails to adhere to the uterus is the equivalent of a human life; that is not a mainstream position of opponents of abortion, since such pre-fetuses are self-aborting. And as Wills well knows, his fingernails and hair will never develop into a human being if nature is allowed to take its course. That argument is signature significance for a biology ignoramus or a con artist, yet Wills is neither…or wasn’t, until his pro-abortion bias made him stupid.

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