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.”
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!]
3. And today’s deranged bit of contrived anti-Trump hate is...in a Times interview with rising singer Lana Del Ray, who says,
One portion of the dots that people are connecting is: “Is it possible that this presidency is engendering this idea that it’s O.K. to be more violent?” And a lot of people are saying yes. Someone who says “grab ’em by the pussy,” that does make someone else feel a little bit more entitled to bring his rifle to school. If there wasn’t a time for protest music, there absolutely is now.
Good point, Lana! An old over-heard and taped conversation of the future President engaging in macho trash talk with a second-string media host, used against Trump in 2016, encourages people to shoot up schools! Brilliant!
Frankly, I don’t care to hear any protest song sentiments issuing from someone who finds that to be a useful insight, and neither should anyone else. Or, as Donna Reneau might say if you were drowning: “Shut up!”
4. Knowing how I love double standards and am enjoying how the news media and its pundits are no being so reckless with their partisan bias that their influence in the next campaign will be somewhere between zero and that of Jim Carrey, Other Bill found this wonderful bit from the PBS News Hour, out of the two mouths of David Brooks:
BROOKS: That’s sort of par for the course for G7 summits. But I think what struck me this week was how the debate changed around Donald Trump. There has been whispering, is he mentally not as fit as he was? Are impairments rising?
That somehow seemed to rise and now become public conversation. When he said his father was with born in Germany, when your father was born in the Bronx, that’s not something you normally get wrong. That his wife is good trends with the North Korean leader, when she had never met him.
I mean, there are just a lot of things coming out of his mouth. And this has always been the case, but the verbal patterns — psychiatrists are not allowed to judge people they haven’t met, but there are certainly a lot of people out there raising a lot of red flags.
So, that — to me, among the tumult of — the political tumult the G7, the psychological tumult is almost one of the key takeaways.
Now Brooks explains why Joe Biden is not “going nuts”…
I mean, Biden may be aging, and maybe that’s an issue. I think it is a legitimate issue for voters to think about. But he is not mendacious, he is not irresponsible. He may embellish a story to improve its dramatic effect. And he may be forgetting things.
Our memories are just much more fallible than we think. Every memory expert will tell you that. And when you’re on the campaign trail doing thousands of events traveling everywhere, things get jostled in your mind.
So, it could be just the normal jostling of campaign. And for some reason, we have gotten into a pattern where a Biden gaffe is the story. So he will do eight good things in the campaign, tells one mistake, and that’s the story, because that’s the story we associate with Joe Biden right now.
But it is something for voters to monitor. I don’t think embellishing that kind of story is like something that is necessarily a sign that he is over the hill.
Ironically, making these two assessments back-to-back without any ethics alarms pinging suggests that Brooks is the one who is “over the hill.”