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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It’s Called Sacrificing Individual Rights For “The Greater Good.” Jefferson Would Hate It, And So Should Any Ethical American

Yet this is what progressives and Democrats increasingly argue for to solve problems.

Exhibit #1: David Brooks

It hard to believe that David Brooks was once considered to be a conservative. Spend enough time in the New York Times culture, apparently, at least if your character, principles and integrity are as weak as David’s seem to be, and you will emerge from your chrysalis as a new, collectivist, proto-totalitarian.

Here’s Brooks on PBS talking about what he’d like to see installed to address gun violence:

President Biden spoke about red flagging, that you would find somebody you think is potentially dangerous, and we would be able to — authorities would be able to go in and take guns away.

That would take a gigantic cultural shift in this country, a revamping of the way we think about privacy, a revamping of the way we think about the role government plays in protecting the common good. I think it’d be something I think would be good not only for — to head off shootings, but good to live in a society where we cared more intimately about each other.

And I would be willing to give up certain privacies for that to happen. But, for many Americans, that would just be a massive cultural shift to regard community and regard our common good more frankly, in a European style. I think it would benefit our society in a whole range of areas, but it’s hard to see that kind of culture change to a society that’s been pretty individualistic for a long, long time.

Observe what “conservative” pundit Brooks is advocating here. The government decides someone is “dangerous” and can then take away Second Amendment rights. What would stop the government from taking other rights away that it might believe are “dangerous” in the hands of someone it fears? This is pre-crime. This is open-ended government control over individual liberty based on subjective standards. And David Brooks says he’d “be willing to give up certain privacies for that to happen,” because he knows that he would probably not be a target of such government oppression. After all, he’s now on the “right’ side.

The United States, he says, is “pretty individualistic,” meaning too individualistic, by European standards. Yet the United States of America was created expressly to reject the limitations on individualism placed on its citizens by European cultures and governments.

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Ethics Dunce: NYT Columnist David Brooks

Compared to most of the mouth-foaming progressive activist and propagandists that make up the New York Times stable of pundits, I suppose you could call David Brooks a sort-of conservative, everything being relative. But he also poses as a public intellectual and “the adult in the room,” which is why his recent disinformation while serving as a guest on the PBS NewsHour last week is so damning.

In a discussion about gun control, Brooks responded to host host Judy Woodruff query, “You agree the likelihood of there being any more federal action on guns is very unlikely?” by saying,

I have never understood why an Australian-style gun buyback is an affront to anybody. It’s an open choice. You can sell your gun or not. But if we’re going to reduce 400 million guns, it would take something like that, not even just banning future purchases. I mean, we have got 400 million here!

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Abortion Wars: It’s The New York Times vs. The New York Times!

fetal development

Stockholm Syndrome liberal David Brooks, once the alleged conservative pundit in the Times far-left array, was in one of his “pox on both your houses” moods as he condemned what he claimed were equally unethical (my word, not his) arguments coming from the pro-and anti-abortion camps. “Many conservatives focus on the fetus to the exclusion of all else, ” he wrote. “A lot of the progressive commentary, on the other hand, won’t recognize the fetus at all.” False equivalency, David (and you know it). Since the fetus is the party that’s killed in an abortion, many conservatives and anti-abortion activists take the completely defensible and classic Kantian position that “deference to women who become pregnant in terrible circumstances” doesn’t and can’t justify taking a human life. On the other side of the divide, however, refusing to acknowledge the existence of a life at all is to deliberately rig the debate. And it isn’t “a lot” of the progressive commentary that tries to do this; it’s virtually all of it.

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Ethics Dunce: NYT Columnist David Brooks, Weaving A Web Of Conflicts

Weave-logo

I figured out a long time ago that David Brooks, one of the alleged conservative voices among the New York Times’ swollen gang of knee-jerk Angry Leftists, was a hypocrite and fraud with barely a hint of genuine integrity. Now comes the proof.

In 2019, Brooks introduced Times readers to his vision of “Weavers,” a movement to fight social isolation by “building community and weaving the social fabric” across the nation. In a Times column called “A Nation of Weavers,” Brooks wrote that he had launched Weave at the Aspen Institute, a prominent think tank based in Washington, DC. Brooks went on to author several columns to praise and promote Weave. He also had other columns mentioning, positively, Facebook, its founder Mark Zuckerberg, andFacebook’s products and activities.

Facebook, unreported by Brooks or his paper, had contributed $250,000 to the Aspen Institute to help launch Weave in 2018.

Now, thanks to Buzzfeed, we learn that Brooks has been drawing a second salary for his work on Weave, meaning that he is being paid at least in part through the largess of Facebook. He has not mentioned any of this in his columns. Thus, when David Brooks promoted the good work of Weave, he is using his Times column to do work that he is being paid for by someone else, and secretly advancing the interests of Facebook and the Aspen Institute, not because the columnist objectively has concluded that they warrant it, but because he benefits financially when they benefit.

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“There are way too many people who should know better who are stirring up the forces of chaos. The idea that these people are going to help if there’s new chaos as the vote is tabulated and fought over seems overly optimistic. We are already having a national nervous breakdown and if there are “sober people” who “see reality unblinkered by the lens of partisanship,” where the hell are they? Partisanship clouded the perception of reality quite a while ago, and it’s going to continue and get worse in the next 2 months. Who has the credibility to “preserve the order of our civic structure” so we can get through some creditable tabulation of the vote? Nobody. Nobody even wants it. The fact that the discussion is focused on the idea of big bad Trump refusing to leave makes it all too obvious.”

Blogger/ retired law prof. Ann Althouse, expressing dismay at David Brooks’ most recent outbreak of Stockholm Syndrome, as the pompous former conservative pundit continues his forced evolution into a pompous “resistance” columnist for the New York Times with “What Will You Do if Trump Doesn’t Leave?/Playing out the nightmare scenario” 

I don’t think Ann’s is an ethical quote, but it is an ethics quote, with ethical revelations contained in it. Some points:

1. The “Trump won’t leave office if he’s defeated” refrain is a Big Lie, and pure fearmongering and slander by the AUC. There is no hint of evidence that he is so inclined, except through  accepting the Big Lie that spawns this one, Big Lie #3, “Trump Is A Fascist/Hitler/Dictator/Monster.”

Biden has repeated this despicable claim, as have many of Brooks’ colleagues. I will say again: the only political party that has ever challenged the legitimacy of an election result in 150 years is the Democratic Party, and the only losing candidates who refused to honorably accept defeat were Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/2020: Examining The—OH NO! I TOUCHED MY FACE!!!

1. From the “Futile isn’t Ethical” files. The hectoring over face-touching is annoying at a time when we need less annoyances. Here’s a useless article that gives elaborate strategies for eliminating face-touching only to admit toward the end that you probably can’t stop. I’ll wager that nobody can stop, since we do it thousands of times a day, often for good reasons, and that with all the other things we have to think about, thinking about NOT doing something natural all day long—which is essentially the strategy the three professors of psychology credited with the article recommend—will do more damage than it addresses.

Here’s a typical passage:

“Now that you are aware of the behavior you want to change, you can replace it with a competing response that opposes the muscle movements needed to touch your face. When you feel the urge to touch your face, you can clench your fists, sit on your hands, press your palms onto the tops of your thighs, or stretch your arms straight down at your sides.”

Here’s another idea that I’m sure everyone will want to adopt while they worry about their jobs, their friends, and where their next meal is coming from:

Self-monitoring is more effective when people create a physical record. You can create a log where you briefly describe each instance of face-touching. For example, log entries might say:

—Scratched nose with finger, felt itch, while at my desk
—Fiddled with eyeglasses, hands tingled, frustrated
—Rested chin on palm, neck sore, while reading
—Bit fingernail, nail caught on pants, watching TV

2. Baseball ethics fix: While there’s no baseball for an undetermined period, baseball continues to spark ethics consideration. Continue reading

If I Had Been Able To Swing A Full-Time Impeachment News And Commentary Blog, These Kind Of Things Would Have Been On It…

I. In the House impeachment Report, Chairman Nadler really and truly says this:

“The question is not whether the President’s conduct could have resulted from permissible motives. It is whether the President’s real reasons, the ones in his mind at the time, were legitimate. Where the House discovers persuasive evidence of corrupt wrongdoing, it is entitled to rely upon that evidence to impeach.”

Such an attitude and approach is smoking gun evidence of a rogue process. The President, of course, has not been interviewed, questioned or cross examined. His “real reasons” can only be a matter of speculation, based on the confirmation biases of his prosecutors. In ethics, motives just confuse the issue, because all human actions have complex and interacting motives. In law, malum in re, that is, objectively bad intent, often defines a crime (such as murder), but a legal action does not become illegal because the actor has some wrongful intentions, just as an illegal action doesn’t become legal because the malefactor meant well. For leaders, those who deal in power, distinguishing between rightful and wrongful acts based on motives is particularly difficult, if not impossible.

I suppose Nadler should be praised for candor, but the state of mind of Trump’s inquisitors could not be less trustworthy or more irresponsible. They believe the President to be corrupt, thus they interpret conduct by him which literally any other President could have (and has) engaged in without criticism or condemnation (except on a policy prudence basis) as impeachable. This has been the presumption from the beginning of his Presidency. No leader can function properly in such an environment….which was the idea. Continue reading

David Brooks’ Stockholm Syndrome

We don’t blame you, David Brooks; it can happen to anyone.

David Brooks’ may be the smartest of the New York Times stable of columnists, and let that be a lesson to all of us. Intelligence, wisdom and erudition are not a sufficient bulwark against the often adverse influence of one’s culture, accurately described as similar to the relationship of water to a fish.  In this case, Brooks’ culture, his water, is defined by his almost unanimous Democrat, progressive, Trump-loathing colleagues, the corrupt and biased paper he works for, and its admitted partisan anti-President editor-in-chief, Dean Baquet.

Usually Brooks is careful about pandering to that culture or revealing how much his surroundings have marinated his brain and values; after all, his alleged role at the Times is House Conservative, a position that slowly but surely has devolved into “House Fake Conservative Who Enables The Times’ Progressive Agenda With An Occasional Sojourn Into Brooksian Pop Philosophy.  His column in today’s Times, however, pretty much blows that pretense away.

It is titled Impeach Trump. Then Move On: Stop distracting from the core issue, elite negligence and national decline.” (Only David Brooks would use a phrase like “elite negligence” that has no obvious meaning.) The piece outs Brooks as thoroughly under the power of his captors in its first three paragraphs:

Is it possible that more than 20 Republican senators will vote to convict Donald Trump of articles of impeachment? When you hang around Washington you get the sense that it could happen.

The evidence against Trump is overwhelming. This Ukraine quid pro quo wasn’t just a single reckless phone call. It was a multiprong several-month campaign to use the levers of American power to destroy a political rival.

Republican legislators are being bludgeoned with this truth in testimony after testimony. They know in their hearts that Trump is guilty of impeachable offenses. It’s evident in the way they stare glumly at their desks during hearings; the way they flee reporters seeking comment; the way they slag the White House off the record. It’ll be hard for them to vote to acquit if they can’t even come up with a non-ludicrous rationale.

Such an opening is not designed to make open-minded readers read on. If this junk were not under Brooks’ byline, I’d probably stop reading, as I often do with similar screeds by his deranged and dishonest colleagues like Charles M. Blow, Thomas Friedman, Michelle Goldberg, David Leonhardt, and others, who have spent three years stoking the hate of the Times’ overwhelmingly Democratic readership.

Let’s examine some of Brooks shared delusions: Continue reading

Mid-Labor Day Weekend Ethics Barbecue, 9/1/2019: Good Quotes, Bad Quotes, And Someone To Avoid Forever

Boy, it seems like everyone’s on strike this week. I can actually see tumbleweeds rolling across the Ethics Alarms traffic stats…

1. Ethics quote of the weekend: Former GOP House member Trey Gowdy, on the astounding gall of James Comey (and Rep Adam Schiff, who apparently lacks the embarrassment gene) to call on Gowdy to apologize for his criticism of Comey’s unquestionably unethical conduct, after it had been thoroughly confirmed by the recent Inspector General’s report.  Comey even said Gowdy “defamed” him, an inexcusable hyperbole for a lawyer—even he knows better. Gowdy said,

“I never said Comey would or should go to jail. I’m certainly not going to apologize to anyone who violated FBI and Department of Justice policy, who violated an employment agreement, who shared sensitive information about an ongoing investigation, who sent classified information to an unauthorized person and then had amnesia when the FBI came to his home to try to retrieve government property…I will give him a piece of unsolicited advice: You should aspire to more in life than simply skating by without having been indicted.”

Bingo!

2.  What is the proper societal response to this horrible, horrible human being? Because it was her last day on the job and she had given her two weeks notice, Donna Reneau, a 911 operator, decided she would take out all of her grudges and frustrations on emergency callers she didn’t know and was obligated to assist. After all, what could her employers do, fire her?

So, when a flash flood swept away  Debbie Stevens’ car, with her in it, a week ago in  Fort Smith, Arkansas and she desperately called 911, instead of the trained professional she needed,  she reached Reneau, suddenly an avenging operator from Hell.

“Please help me, I don’t want to die!”, Stevens pleads at the start of the  22 minute recorded call. “I can’t swim! I’m scared! I’m going to drown!” Reneau reponded by telling the terrified woman that rescuers would “get there when they get there,” and even told her to  “shut up” as Reneau’s hysteria grew.

As the water began filling Stevens’ SUV and she cried, “I’m scared! I’ve never had anything happen to me like this before,” the 911 operator jeered. “Well this will teach you, next time don’t drive in the water,! I don’t see how you didn’t see it, you had to go right over it…”

When police were finally able to reach the swamped car, Debbie Stevens was dead, drowned. Fort Smith Interim Police Chief Danny Baker, in a statement, acknowledged public outrage but said  Reneau had not  broken any laws nor “violated policy.” THAT’S got to be a mistake, unless the policy in Fort Smith is to razz citizens in crisis.

Now the question is what should be done with, to, and about Reneau. Her performance on the recording is signature significance: nobody behaves like that who is fit for human association. She can’t be trusted as an employee, a neighbor, a colleague or a friend. She lacks empathy and decency; if she isn’t a psychopath or a sociopath, she’s too close for comfort. I don’t want her in my cul de sac…do you? I don’t want her associated with my city, or anything related to me, and that’s how every resident of Fort Smith should feel…and behave toward her accordingly.

And if, because she can’t find a job and no one wants her in their establishment or business—there is no law preventing discrimination against individual blights on society—she ends up living in a shack somewhere in the Okefenokee Swamp with the company of  snakes and leeches,  if they’ll have her—GOOD.

Be on the look-out! Here she is…

Reneau had her chance at living with civilized Americans, and blew it. [Pointer: Reg Fife. Keep those ethics story tips coming, everybody!] Continue reading