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.

Continue reading

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

Four Unethical Post-Mueller Report Op-Eds (Part II)

The previous post continues with the worst of the worst…

3.  Charles M. Blow (New York Times): It’s Bigger Than Mueller and Trump”

18 out of Charles M. Blow’s last 20 columns have been anti-Trump screeds, his ratio since the election is about the same. Not only is this res ipsa loquitur for Trump derangement, it’s also mind-numbingly repetitious. In addition to being consumed with hate and anger over the election of America’s President for nearly three years, Blow was an established  pernicious race-baiter before that, when he assigned that label to anyone who criticized Barack Obama, among others.

Why does a highly-respected newspaper feel that “race-baiting hateful hyper-partisan”—Blow hates Republicans, though not as much as he hates the President—is a niche that needs filling on the op-ed page is a mystery.

In his latest anti-Trump column, Blow, as usual, is absurd as well as misleading. He writes,

“The report did not, however, exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice. I submit that we witnessed that Trump obstructed justice in open view, from the White House and on social media. And while Trump waged a two-year battle of slander and misinformation to defame the Mueller investigation, the majority of Democratic leadership did nothing to make the case that he had already reached the threshold of accountability, even without the report.”

I submit that Blow is a hack, writing to deceive the dim and the biased. Trump’s tweets constitute obstruction of justice? Good luck with that theory, Bozo: why don’t you ask a second year law student—or even George Conway— who would set you straight? And for any member of the news media to complain about slander when so many of his colleagues—and he himself—have routinely stated as fact that the President was a traitor and a criminal when no such facts existed…well, Blow has always excelled at gall.

This time, however, he found a way to combine his two passions in a single rant, while adding several “resistance” Big Lie talking points for good measure. Good job, Charles! Be proud, New York Times!

The best case against Donald Trump and the age of Trumpism has always been, and remains, the moral case. Criminality is only one facet of that, although it is the one that the courts and Congress can use to punish him….

As for the people, the voters, it is the moral abomination of having a racist, sexist, child-caging, family-separating, Muslim-hating transphobe as president that must remain front and center. That is the only way to move beyond Trump in 2020….

The very symbols of Trumpism — the MAGA hats, the wall, etc. — are more than merely physical objects. They have long since transcended their original meaning and purpose. They are now emblems. They are now the new iconography of white supremacy, white nationalist defiance and white cultural defense.

They are a form of white pride credentialing.

In much the same way that the Confederate flag became a white supremacist signaling device, wearing the MAGA hat and self-identifying as a “Trump supporter” now serves the same purpose. The symbols are tangentially connected to Trump, but they also transcend him. They are a way of cloaking racial hostility in the presentable form of politics….

In America, this recent rise of white nationalism follows a historical pattern: Whenever black people make progress, white people feel threatened and respond forcefully.

If you say so, Charles. Count the lies, Big and small, everybody, if you want an ethics tune-up That last bit is Blow’s default cover for Obama’s failure as a leader and a President: it isn’t Obama’s domestic and foreign policy ineptitude voters objected to, or his sanctimonious cons, it was the fact that he was black.

4. David Brooks (New York Times) We’ve All Just Made Fools of Ourselves — Again.”

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Saturday Ethics Warm-Up: “Important Ethics Stories That I Don’t Feel Like Writing A Lot About Or Am Thoroughly Disgusted With” Edition

Happy Weekend!

I hope you’re not working the whole time, like I am. However, the Red Sox have their first Spring Training game, they are playing the Yankees, and all is serene.

1. Another one of Trump’s “best people” bites the dust, or should soon.   Judge Kenneth A. Marra of Federal District Court in West Palm Beach ruled that accused serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s secret sweetheart plea deal agreed to by Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta when he was a federal prosecutor violated federal law.

The corrupt arrangement  protected the billionaire from serious jail time and also  protected his politically-connected  friends including, notably Bill Clinton, from accountability despite their visits to Epstein’s  infamous island resort via the so-called “Lolita Express,” the private plane where young girls allegedly provided sexual services to the passengers. Ick.

I wrote a post about this unfolding scandal here. At that time, last November, I wrote,

“I do not see how Acosta can remain as Secretary of Labor following these revelation, incomplete as they are. I don’t see how we can trust his judgment, and even if, somehow, he could justify the deal with Epstein on legal, technical or pragmatic grounds, I doubt that the general public would be reassured. He should resign.”

Hey, I beat Jonathan Turley by almost three months!

2. Is the media assault on Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) for being an abusive boss legitimate? I have to say, it sure looks like it. The moderate Democratic Presidential hopeful might also be the target of a leftist news media that favors her more extreme competitors, but most Americans don’t know much about Klobuchar and can’t pronounce her name. The news media needs to introduce her, but it also shouldn’t poison the well. Conservatives, who don’t like her but like her a lot better than the likes of Senators Warren, Harris or Booker, are defending Klobuchar by arguing that she is being subjected to a double standard, since so many male officials past and present have been equally unpleasant. That’s just an “everybody does it” rationalization. There are good reasons to worry about the judgment and temperament of leaders who treat subordinates disrespectfully and cruelly, as in yesterday’s Times story about Klobuchar demanding that an aide clean her comb.

The problem is that the mainstream news media is not applying similar scrutiny, at least not yet, to similarly dubious candidates like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.

3. Great. Just what we need.   “If Mueller is done, states could file their own charges — even against Trump,” says the Washington Post. So this is really the way it is: “the resistance” and its Democratic allies will continue to harass and obstruct the elected President forever, as their endless tantrum over losing the 2016 election. I have written that nothing could make me vote for someone with Donald Trump’s non-ethical approach to life as President, but I am beginning to think that only a Trump victory in 2020 will save the country from an endless cycle of partisan sabotage of Presidents, regardless of party, going forward. This unethical strategy has to fail, and fail hard. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/23/2019: Fame And Infamy

Good morning from Ft. Lauderdale!

This warm-up was supposed to be up yesterday, but our flight to Ft. Lauderdale was delayed for four hours, then after we were on the runway, a passenger had some kind of medical emergency, sending us back to the gate and causing more delay. We got to our hotel after midnight, and I wasn’t capable of putting up the post.  Not that I’m in that much better shape this morning…

1. Covington Catholic Students Ethics Train Wreck update.

  • I just listened to HLN’s shameless effort to change the subject and cover for the news media in the false narrative  pounded for more than a day regarding the students. Whether the chaperones were negligent of not is irrelevant to whether journalists and pundits were unprofessional and irresponsible in attacking the students., for example. Also infuriating is the “well, people have different reactions to the video” shrug. Yeah, bigots and race-baiters who have no concern for facts or fairness think it’s politically helpful to punish kids for wearing hats supporting a President they hate.
  • Then there is Sarah Beattie, a Saturday Night Live writer, who posted this:

Nice. Of course, an ethical network would discipline an employee who tried to incite an attack on a teen, and no, she may not have been serious, but this isn’t a joke.

These are bad people. Res Ipsa Loquitur. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/3/18: Museums And Victims And Brooks, Oh My!

 

Good Morning, bad night…

(and thank goodness it’s Saturday…)

1 Programming young victims to lie. In my mailbox today is a message from the Democrats.org, which, I must note, has ignored multiple requests to stop sending me their hackery. I have unsubscribed: it apparently makes no difference. This is both illegal and unethical, and only reinforces my previous conclusions about the House of Clinton, Perez, Pelosi, Wasserman Schultz, et al.

The message is allegedly authored by Sarah Imam, who announces herself as Parkland shooting survivor and writes in part,

On February 14th, I lost 17 members of my community in a mass shooting at my school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas. But we, the survivors, refuse to let their names be forgotten. We refuse to let their deaths be in vain. We have decided to take action to ensure that an event like this will never happen again. We are calling for stricter gun laws. We are calling for change.

Now, is Sarah lying, or is someone lying to Sarah, or to us? There is no “change” that will ensure that no mass shooting, in a school or anywhere else, will ever happen again. This is a false promise. Does Sarah know that, or is she just a puppet, being used to promote a dishonest message? Then we must ask, is Sarah smart enough to know that the only “change” that could even theoretically “ensure that an event like this will never happen again” is to ban and confiscate all guns. Is that what she means? Is that what Democrats really want to do, but can only express it that desire in code, and through the willing, naive mouths of grieving teens?

2. David Brooks doesn’t get it. Again. New York Times Stockholm Syndrome-addled formerly- conservative op-ed writer David Brooks nicely encapsulates the central delusion of “the resistance” and others, arguing that the gun control battle will be the tipping point for a progressive victory in the culture wars because…

“Progressives could be on the verge of delegitimizing their foes, on guns but also much else, rendering them untouchable for anybody who wants to stay in polite society. That would produce social changes far vaster than limiting assault rifles. Two things have fundamentally changed the landscape. First, over the past two years conservatives have self-marginalized. In supporting Donald Trump they have tied themselves to a man whose racial prejudices, sexual behavior and personal morality put him beyond the pale of decent society. Second, progressives are getting better and more aggressive at silencing dissenting behavior. All sorts of formerly legitimate opinions have now been deemed beyond the pale on elite campuses. Speakers have been disinvited and careers destroyed. The boundaries are being redrawn across society.”

This is essentially a Cognitive Dissonance Scale argument by an elitist who can’t distinguish between the public’s scale and his own. Donald Trump is President of the United States because he was elected, despite what Brooks calls his racial prejudices, sexual behavior and personal morality. Can’t Brooks see that he’s essentially making Hillary’s deplorables argument? He is saying that nobody who voted for Trump is a member of “polite society’! Incredibly, he’s also saying that supporting the President of the United States is marginalizing. Wow: get out of that echo chamber, David—RUN! No, you idiot, refusing to support the institution of the Presidency and the integrity of elections marginalizes Democrats, the “resistance,” the New York Times, and YOU. Then Brooks writes that progressives will win because they are getting “better” at totalitarian methods, like suppressing speech. Nah, this isn’t self-marginalizing, not at all! Americans love to have their freedoms disrespected, and to be told that only pre-approved opinions and viewpoints will be allowed when Democrats are in power. Continue reading