Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/29/2019: Updates, Coincidences And Suspicions [CORRECTED]

The same as what?

I heard this song yesterday for the first time in many years, and immediately wondered how many people  my son’s age (he’s 24) or even older would know what “Spanky and Our Gang” referred to. Then I made the mistake of briefly watching HGTV’s “A Very Brady Renovation” and saw to my horror that all the “Brady Bunch” kids are senior citizens. “Who’s that old lady? OHMYGOD It’s JAN!!!!”

1. Well, it was nice while it lasted...Traffic here increased by about 30% over three days last week after Facebook slipped up and allowed a link to one Ethics Alarms—it violates Facebook community standards, don’t you know— post to be circulated on among users.

2. Here’s a poll on the previous post, about a controversial joke related to the Texas governor’s disability that was made by a female judge. Governor Abbott has been in a wheelchair ever since he was struck by a falling tree almost 40 years ago. Noting that Texas Republicans have opposed proposed environment-minded legislation, “even local tree ordinances,”  the judge quipped to her partisan Democratic crowd, “Governor Abbott hates trees because one fell on him.”

While we’re on the subject of polls, the Ethics Alarms readers were strongly opposed to the course of action discussed here, here, and here, with about 88% holding that a Swedish man should not have allowed a doctor to euthanize his sister despite her past consent to the procedure, because she was resisting.

3. If you question whether this is a coincidence, you’re just a wacko conspiracy theorist, or so I’ve been told…[Notice of Important Correction: Go here.] The intelligence community quietly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings that had existed since May, 2018. The revised version of the whistleblower complaint form was not made public until after the transcript of the President’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky It had eliminated the first-hand knowledge requirement, allowing government employees to file whistleblower complaints even if they lack direct knowledge of underlying evidence and only “heard about [wrongdoing] from others.”

The newly revised “Disclosure of Urgent Concern” form, which must  be submitted under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA), show that the document was uploaded on September 24, 2019, at 4:25 p.m., only days before the anonymous complaint was declassified and released to the public. The markings on the new version of the document state that it was revised in August 2019, with no specific date of revision is disclosed.

The previous version of the whistleblower complaint document, which the ICIG and DNI  provided to potential whistleblowers before this August, declared that a complaint must contain only first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoing and that complaints that provide only hearsay, rumor, or gossip would be rejected.

“The [Intelligence Community Inspector General] cannot transmit information via the ICPWA based on an employee’s second-hand knowledge of wrongdoing,” the previous form stated under the bolded heading “FIRST-HAND INFORMATION REQUIRED.” “This includes information received from another person, such as when an employee informs you that he/she witnessed some type of wrongdoing. If you think that wrongdoing took place, but can provide nothing more than second-hand or unsubstantiated assertions, [the Intelligence Community Inspector General] will not be able to process the complaint or information for submission as an ICWPA,” the form concluded.

The Federalist’s Sean Davis revealed this two days ago. Has anyone seen mention of it in the news coverage by the mainstream media?

4. “And now, the rest of the story…” as the late Paul Harvey used to say. In August, I posted an Ethics Quiz and poll about Charles Anderson, a Michigan police officer who was placed on administrative leave and investigated after a black family touring Anderson’s home as potential buyers reported on Facebook that the officer had a framed application to the KKK hanging on the wall as well as some Confederate flags.

While holding that it was unfair for Anderson to be punsihed professionally for what he kept in his home, I also posited the  “Racist Home Decorations and Memorabilia Principle,” similar to the Naked Teacher Principle Ethics Alarms frequently discusses. The RHDAMP states that while you have a right to display and collect whatever you want, but if your tastes appear objectively racist and your memorabilia somehow becomes known to the public, you can’t complain about the  adverse consequences. You accepted the risks.

Anderson has now been fired.

5.Nah, there’s no “Deep State”! Someone just recalled that after president-elect Trump criticized U.S. intelligence agencies. Chuck Schumer told MSNBC’s host Rachel Maddow.“Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

Tweeted pariah journalist Sharyl Atkinson (she’s not part of “the reisistance”)…

39 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/29/2019: Updates, Coincidences And Suspicions [CORRECTED]

  1. 3. I’ve seen no coverage. But this will eventually get out – especially when Pelosi launches her impeachment debate. If the Republican leadership is remotely competent, this will be brought up time and time again, until the media will have no choice BUT to address it.

    Then again, the Republican establishment did let themselves get so out of touch with their base that Donald Trump ended up as the GOP nominee – a successful one.

    5. I wonder if the media would have been as sanguine about such “Deep State” action if the resistance of our professional national security apparatus had been against President Obama for the purposes of preserving the following:
    a) The enhanced interrogation program.
    b) A continued American military presence in Iraq.
    c) Maintaining the military tribunal system
    d) Overturning/ignoring Supreme Court rulings that dismantled the policies of the George W. Bush administration.

    Would they be celebrating the “whistleblowers” as patriots defending the country? Would these people be heroes? Or would it just be a racist resistance to the first African-American president, with their actionsa threat to the Constitution?

      • They want to minimize hearings to prevent having the impeachment trial taking place in the middle of the presidential election. They think they can mitigate the impact of a negative public response as long as they have the time, but if it’s too close to the election and doesn’t go as they hope, it could be dispositive in favor of Trump.

        Honestly, I don’t think Pelosi really wants to go here, but she fears outright rebellion if she doesn’t. The timing has too much potential to blow up in the face of the Democrats and their election prospects.

        • Speaker Pelosi is in a bad spot, though a self-made one. She could reign in the hard left members pushing impeachment for ever little thing Trump has done. How many articles of impeachment have been filed by Rep. Al Greene (D-Tex.)? Every week he files new articles. Pelosi understands the political components of impeachment and that, while the House may vote for impeachment, any such impeachment would go down in the Senate. She also understands the publc’s Trump Impeachment Fatigue and the results of Clinton’s impeachment. Pelosi, being a shrewd politician understands what most Speakers of the House want: they want to keep that position and will protect that position for as long as she can.

          jvb

          • Yeah, I think that’s right, but she’s in a tough spot right now. It’s either go along and hope the effort loses steam or risk an even more damaging uprising in her caucus.

  2. 3. No, only the Federalist article. There will be no coverage until some Republican raises this point in the media, because it’s a sure thing neither the Democrats nor the media will raise it themselves.

    5. Good question, but again, one that we’ll never know the answer to. Schumer is nothing if not intelligent, and he wouldn’t have expounded on it. Anyway, I doubt he had anything specific in mind. If you think about it, as a general proposition, he has a point.

    The problem is, what sort of functioning intelligence community is set against the President of the United States? The very idea strikes at the fears raised by the US Congress in during the Watergate scandal, only in reverse. Back then, the Congress feared the CIA might be used by the President against his political opponents.

    Now, we are seeing the CIA potentially used by Congress against the President. I am becoming more and more convinced that representatives and senators have a hand in this “whistleblower” scandal, or at least had advanced knowledge of it.

    Combined with the likely soon-to-be-revealed reality that the Obama administration abused the intelligence community to try to influence a presidential election, and then to bring down Trump after his election, we are quite possibly seeing exactly what the Federalist described as a “slow-motion coup d’etat” way back in 2017.

  3. I have wondered about Schumer’s comment since he said it. Only now is it being replayed.

    Now the fired prosecutor submits an affidavit stating he was forced out for being UNWILLING to drop the case against Burisma. Wibur Ross then appeared to suggest that the affidavit is suspect. So which is it?

    I am beginning to believe that people are reacting to the framing of the information rather than what the information says.

  4. Are you trolling me? Maybe a troll, maybe not but in any case, if a lot of people want to ignore the standards of consent when it comes to crazy people, that’s a great fact but it doesn’t make them right.

    “Our society rightly says that in matters of serious consent the insane do not get a choice. The order of shot callers is clear: the stated will of the person when they were sane, the opinion of those to whom the insane person has placed themselves in trust (i.e. lawyers of other legally empowered care takers), the immediate family, the government. Start from the top and work your way down. If at any point you find yourself defying the stated will of the sane individual and instead allow the insane person to call the shots in some self righteous nanny-esque “I know better, fuck what they actually want” kind of way you are in the wrong.”

    For the thousandth time: the insane do not have power of consent.

    Sane Person: I want serious thing X, even if I go crazy make it happen!
    *Sane person goes insane*
    Now Insane Person: I want the opposite of that, I want Y – make it happen and pass me a bowl of corn husks to wear.
    Jack and a lot of people here: Better give em Y he knows what he wants! Someone get me some cornhusks!

    To date, I don’t think anyone has actually addressed the ethics of consent side of this outside of what I would say is a poorly phrased poll question. To be honest I think you’ve largely ignored it because it makes your argument fall flat – the ethical hierarchy of consent for those who cannot reasonably give consent in matters of consequence is clear and insane people do not have that power. Defying the wishes of a sane person for the wishes of an insane is self-evidently giving them the power of consent to the insane person. I get that you like the insane persons choice and approve of it, that doesn’t change the ethics of who can ethically make that call.

    • *Edited for clarity*
      To date, I don’t think anyone has actually addressed the ethics of consent side of this outside of what I would say is a poorly phrased poll question. To be honest I think you’ve largely ignored it because it makes your argument fall flat – the ethical hierarchy of consent for those who cannot reasonably give consent in matters of consequence is clear and insane people do not have that power. Defying the wishes of a sane person for the wishes of an insane persons is self-evidently giving the power of consent to the insane person. I get that you like the insane persons choice and approve of it, that doesn’t change the ethics of who can ethically make that call.

      Additional note, I’d also that that the scope of the power of consent reduces the further away you travel from the source (the individual in their right state of mind). I.e. the family can consent to a wider range of things than can, say the government.

    • Your argument makes sense if the issue is between sanity and insanity. I do believe their is a major difference between one who is insane and a person that is cognitively impared.

      What if A says I don’t want to live in a world where people hate each other. Does that rise to the level of capcity to allow another to kill them. I would not think so. Your argument is predicated on the idea that a person should have full agency to end their own life along with the subjective implication that suicide for one reason is ok but perhaps not for others. Why does cognative impairment rise to a level in which assisted suicide is required when any other codicile in an advanced directive like “kill me if Trump gets a second term” would not be acceptable. You are using the reason for suicide as the justification for the taking of agency. I could make the argument that anyone seeking suicide as a solution to calamaties in life are insane and thus legally incompetent to demand assisted suicide.

      To make valid your argument no one considering suicide should be enjoined by authorities from doing so through involuntary commitment. If a sane person cannot have their agency overruled because of an advanced directive why should an otherwise sane person have their agency withheld when they are considered a danger to themselves?

      • To make my argument valid the only things that needs to be true is the traditionally accepted hierarchy of who can consent for the mentally impaired. Fortunately that hierarchy is true – insane people do not have power of consent in matters of consequence, full stop.

        To extend it to this circumstance specifically and to address what I think you were grappling with in the your response: does electing to kill yourself automatically mean that you’re crazy (and should therefore mean an automatic loss of agency), and if it doesn’t, is it an act that harms other people so much that society has a legitimate interest in preventing your from doing it (which would again deprive you of agency)?

        I say, the answer to both in clearly, no. Sane people can want to die, full stop. If you’re 90 and falling apart and you want the pain to stop but medical technology has effectively extended your livable state of decay for many years then I don’t fault you one bit for not wanting to suffer through that or to put your family through it. Likewise, suicide in and of itself does not infringe on the rights of others and is therefore not ethically subject to the public’s control. The only way that suicide can infringe on the rights of others is through what you leave behind – for example your body if you leave it in a place that causes harm to the public (e.g. rotting in an apartment) or if you suddenly leave behind people who depend on you (e.g. just bailing on your wife and kids). Provided you’ve ethically taken care of those concerns, for example by going to a medical facility to die and by waiting until your wife has past and your children are grown and settled as adults, then society has no ethical mandate by which to take your agency.

        • Cognitive impairment and insanity are not the same. I can go along with the idea of following the written wishes of another when they are unable to communicate and not expected,to recoverm. My stepson who was cognitively impaired (TBI) before he had a massive stroke would fought euthanasia if he could have communicated. When he suffered his initial brain injury we were told that it was unlikely he would recover enough to ever live alone. He remained in a totally vegetative state for four months and did not know who we were for another year. He eventually recovered enough to lead a reasonably fulfilling life for 15 years until the combination of anti-epileptic drugs resulted a massive drop in BP which wiped out 90% of his brain.

          The original conditions established the person claimed they did not want to die . Ergo , sanity – full stop.

          • Cognitive impairment and insanity are not the same.
            Literally true, but for the purposes of consent it’s a distinction without a difference – in both states you lose the power to ethically consent to matters of consequence.

            As for the rest:
            Sure, for your case, it doesn’t sound like there was a statement of will so the power of consent flowed down to the most appropriate party – you and your family. You and your family then exercised that power ethically by acting consistently with what you believed your step son would have wanted. I dont really see how “The original conditions established the person claimed they did not want to die . Ergo , sanity – full stop.” but, generally, it doesn’t really sound like we disagree either.

    • Let us make two generous assumptions for the purpose of discussion that euthanasia and assisted suicide are equivalent and ethical is an ethical options.

      If euthanasia were an ethical option, the order of consent above would be reasonable, in theory.

      In practice, we simply cannot ignore the fact that “insane” has historically meant whatever was convenient. Unwed pregnant teens, epileptics, developmentally disable, and/or the mentally ill could be labelled “insane” and involuntarily committed. The original hypothetical even alludes this dismal reality, that the sister would be sent to an institutional “hell hole” when the family’s resources ran out.

      Given this extremely probable and historically proven outcome, any option that allows a person who says, “DON’T KILL ME” to be legally killed is a dangerous and preposterous policy.

      If someone elects suicide or euthanasia, it must be done voluntarily when the person while the person can actively consent at every step of the way. Saying “DON’T KILL ME”, whatever their mental faculties, must halt the process. This is the barest condition to minimize the potential for abuse.

      And, importantly, is only applicable if euthanasia, etc, are ethical options. It they are not ethical options, any consent to being euthanized by a first or third party is ethically void.

      • So your argument is basically two very weakly supported opinions.

        1) We were bad at diagnosing legitimate issues of mental disorders in the past and therefore you don’t trust modern medical professionals and they’re ability to accurately and reliably diagnose real mental illnesses. You go so far as to bring up obvious ethical failure of the profession and I’m happy to recognize those as failures. Fortunately, like most complex and worthwhile professions our understanding of the subject and the ethics surrounding it have advanced leaps and bounds. To wit, literally none of the example you cite are still problems. I’m stoked to let you know that modern medical doctors are in fact very very good at diagnosing many forms of mental illness using diagnostic procedures and ethical checks and balanced honed by a large community of incredibly smart and experienced people working very literally over generations of data. Your opinion on modern medicine and it’s diagnostic ability is interesting but hardly reflective of reality.

        2) Euthanasia is at the absolute worst, not unethical at best it’s clearly ethical. The only way it isn’t is if you substitute religion for ethics. Once more for the people in the back: In the truest sense of the word freedom, what you do with your life and body is entirely your choice so long as you do not infringe on the rights of others. If you want to die, and you’re of sound mind and not hurting anyone else, then there is literally no ethical mechanism by which your choice can be made unethical.

        • You go so far as to bring up obvious ethical failure of the profession and I’m happy to recognize those as failures. Fortunately, like most complex and worthwhile professions our understanding of the subject and the ethics surrounding it have advanced leaps and bounds.

          And yet, institutional abuse is rampant. To pretend it isn’t is willful ignorance. I could post a dozen stories, but any reasonable web search would make that redundant. Anywhere that people are entrusted to the custodianship of another, there is almost unavoidable potential for abuse.

          You are arguing that these institutions can be trusted to kill a patient, despite that patient shouting “No, don’t kill me!”

          That is a preposterous notion.

          • Were talking about reliable diagnosis not nstitutional abuse .

            To address what I think youre getting at with institutional abuse: fortunately we can build in safe guards to ammelorate the risks of human error. Say two seperate doctors need to sign off on a statement of sanity. Hell whatever number floats your boat.

            The point is that we can accurately diagnose mental issues in the modern era and pretending like we cant is sinply an embarassing, conspiracy theory esque, position to take fam.

            • Admittedly, this is anecdotal. I have a friend who has a son, currently a patient in a locked ward at San Antonio State Hospital. She has had many difficulties with him for the past 18 years. He has been diagnosed as Autistic, Mentally Retarded ( when that term was in vogue), Developmentally Disabled Defiant Personality Disorder. Currently, he is carrying a diagnosis of PTSD, Bi-Polar Disorder and Schizophrenia. My friend describes symptoms congruent with Paranoid Schizophrenia. So saying that we can make accurate diagnoses is rather far-fetched.

              • Hardly, a) it sounds more like your friends son sits on a confluence of symptoms that makes diagnosis difficult which sucks but rough edge cases happen in every profession (including high confidence ones) and b) in this context the diagnosis we’re talking about is simply a determination of mental faculties for purposes of ethical power of consent – I’m not gonna make a call about your friend’s son but there’s a big difference between hoping around a group of similar disorders and making a call about whether or not someone is mentally capable of making serious decisions for themselves. We might mess up the specific disorder sometimes but full fledged failure to distinguish between mentally competent and incompetent is rare.

  5. 3: The Federalist is just literate Breitbart.

    • Thanks for this info—I’ll try to explain it all in a follow-up post. Your characterization is grossly unfair, however. So you went searching for a credible source to debunk inconvenient info, and kind of succeeded, but an assumption of intentional misrepresentation by The Federalist is unwarranted. The form WAS changed. It was changed at the same time the complaint was made. That is still suspicious on its face, whether the standards were themselves changed—apparently not—or the form was changed to make a second-hand complaint look more acceptable, with the standards themselves not, in fact changing. The article I cited was obviously in good faith, and the photos showing the change are accurate. The Federalist just confused the form with the law. Then I, in turn, passed on this confusion to others. Which I will now fix. You know, flagging a mistake doesn’t have to be snotty.

    • The Federalist is just literate Breitbart.

      It’s an interesting assertion but is rhetorical smoke unless you define what you mean. You would have to first define what ‘Breitbart’ is and means. You use it in much the way that people use terms like fascist and that whole group of terms whose function is to smear.

      Here is the staff page at The Federalist.

      I was drawn to one more or less at random: Gracy Olmstead: Who has written for The American Conservative, The Week, Christianity Today, Acculturated, The University Bookman, and Catholic Rural Life.

      I just want to refer to this one example to show how your ‘smear’ functions. Like this: to write for these publications, and to share the concerns that are expressed in these journals, is in your mind to put forth ideas equal to that of literate Breitbartism. What you are saying is effectively non-different from HRC’s term ‘the deplorables’. But what do you mean?

      Yet the greater shame is that you won’t come out and explain what is wrong with Breitbart or The American Conservative, The Week, Christianity Today, Acculturated, The University Bookman, and Catholic Rural Life. Are you capable of articulating your ideas? Do you have any ideas? I do not think you have ever expressed a coherent structured idea. Why? What holds you back?

  6. This from Wikipedia:

    Our Gang (known subsequently to television syndication as The Little Rascals or Hal Roach’s Rascals) is an American series of comedy short films chronicling a group of poor neighborhood children and their adventures. Created by comedy producer and studio executive Hal Roach, the series was produced in various forms from 1922 to 1944 and is noted for showing children behaving in a relatively natural way. Roach and original director Robert F. McGowan worked to film the unaffected, raw nuances apparent in regular children rather than have them imitate adult acting styles. The series broke new ground by portraying white and black children interacting as equals.[1]

    The franchise began in 1922 as a series of silent short subjects produced by the Roach studio and released by Pathé Exchange. Roach changed distributors from Pathé to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1927, and the series entered its most popular period after converting to sound in 1929. Production continued at the Roach studio until 1938, when the series was sold to MGM, which produced the comedies until 1944. Across 220 short films and a feature-film spin-off, General Spanky, the Our Gang series featured over 41 child actors as regular members of cast.

    As MGM retained the rights to the Our Gang trademark following their purchase of the production rights, the 80 Roach-produced “talkies” were syndicated for television under the title The Little Rascals beginning in 1955. Roach’s The Little Rascals package (now owned by CBS Television Distribution) and MGM’s Our Gang package (now owned by Turner Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros. Television) have since remained in syndication. New productions based on the shorts have been made over the years, including a 1994 feature film, The Little Rascals, released by Universal Pictures.

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