Incompetence Saturday’s Grand Finale: The Most Incompetent Story Ever Told!

The promise (L) and the reality (R)

I have now read about ten articles about the collapse of the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, and I still find it hard to comprehend.

The Fyre Festival was conceived by rapper Ja Rule and associate Billy McFarland in the Bahamas, and promoted by pop celebrities (I barely, just barely, know these people) Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Baldwin and Bella Hadid, In a promo video posted January, the Fyre Festival promised..

“The best in food, art, music and adventure…on the boundaries of the impossible, Fyre is an experience and festival…A quest to push beyond those boundaries!”

I have no idea what that means, but it sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

“You’ll be flown roundtrip on a custom, VIP configured Boeing 737 aircraft between Miami International Airport and Exuma International Airport on Great Exuma,” said the festival’s website. “Guests will be staying in modern, eco-friendly, geodesic domes. … Unplug from the everyday and ignite your flame in the Exumas!” Among theacts scheduled to perform were Major Lazer and Blink-182, as well as a DJ “who specializes in producing ’70s and ’80s rock remixes for clients that include Middle Eastern and European royalty.”.

Celebrities with ties to the organizers  tweeted and Instagrammed, building buzz about Fyre.  Ja Rule tweeted just a month ago, “This is where the cool kids will be April 27-30 May 5-8!!! #fyrefestival #fyre.”

Ticket packages to experience the self-proclaimed “cultural event of the decade” included accommodations and chartered flights from Miami, with a low price of $900 and a luxury tag of $399,995 for access to the performers.  Days before the festival was to begin, @fyrefestival  was still ginning up anticipation.

Then the festival-goers arrived on the first day to find…nothing. Well, worse than nothing: chaos. Those who had  paid $500 apiece for what the festival’s promotion described as “villas” found that the only shelter provided were FEMA-style refugee tents. There was no food, except some hastily packaged cheese sandwiches. All of the scheduled performers canceled.

The festivalgoers who hadn’t arrived by private yachts found themselves confused and stranded, with luggage but nowhere to sleep for the night. Some paid festival employees $100 to return them to the airport in a flatbed truck, but when they arrived at the airport gate, they were told that they couldn’t access the airport, requiring more bribes to get to a plane, if they were lucky. The stampede of shocked glitterati desperately trying to flee backed up the local airports, stranding many attendees in deplorable conditions, like understaffed kitchen tents with  pots of uncooked food.

And where were the organizers during all this? Nowhere near the “festival,” in Ja Rule’s case. (McFarland was  either partying on a yacht the first night of the festival, or he actually showed his face and tried to assist the victims of his ineptitude. I tend to the first account, because if he did show up, I would assume that he would be chum by now.)  Ja Rule was performing… in Chicago. He later issued a ridiculous statement, saying in part,

“I’m heartbroken at this moment. My partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event, it was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting. I don’t know how everything went so left but I’m working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded … I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT … but I’m taking responsibility I’m deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this.”

Comments:

1. If you organize and promote an event and it turns out like this one, it IS your fault. You idiot.

2.  If it was a scam, at least the results could be explained as something other than someone persuading many people to trust and rely on him when he had no idea what the hell he was doing.

3. Inconvenienced? INCONVENIENCED? Selling tickets to an event in the Exumas that requires people to fly there and be met with a total fiasco is a lot more than an inconvenience.

His partner, Billy McFarland, had equally jaw-dropping comments, which included these gems..

We started this website and launched this festival marketing campaign. Our festival became a real thing and took [on] a life of its own. Our next step was to book the talent and actually make the music festival. We went out excited, and that’s when a lot of reality and roadblocks hit. 

The Exumas didn’t have a really great infrastructure – there wasn’t a great way to get guests in here – we were a little bit ambitious. There wasn’t water or sewage. It was almost like we tried building a city out of nothing and it took almost all of our personal resources to make this happen, and everything we had, to make this festival go on. We thought we were ready and built two different festival sites….The morning of the festival, a bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes. Guests started to arrive and the most basic function we take for granted in the U.S., we realized, “Wow, we can’t do this.” We were on a rush job to fix everything and guests were arriving and that caused check-in to be delayed. We were overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problems….We thought we were making timeframes that were correct. We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves. Next year, we will definitely start earlier. The reality is, we weren’t experienced enough to keep up.

KABOOM!

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Kaboom!, Leadership, Marketing and Advertising, Social Media

Incompetence Saturday’s Unethical Quote Of The Day: NBC News Reporter Daniel Arkin

“President Donald Trump returned to one of his most derogatory insults Friday, referring to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” — a jab at her Native American ancestry.”

—-NBC reporter Daniel Arkin, reporting on the President’s speech to the NRA in Atlanta this week.

Now, you might argue that this is very competent smearing by Arkin, abetted by NBC. But let’s assume, just to be nice, or naive, that Arkin wasn’t intentionally falsely suggesting that the President was engaging in racial denigration of Warren’s ancestry. This would mean that he either has done no research on his subject or that he credulously accepts whatever Democrats say.

Now, I will stipulate that calling the Senator playground-level names is unprofessional, uncivil, obnoxious, un-presidential and an ad hominem attack by President Trump. This is one of his many terrible and apparently unalterable habits. Nevertheless, calling Warren “Pocahontas” is not Trump denigrating her “Native American ancestry,” but rather a reference to Warren’s well-documented false claims of having Native American ancestry, claims that she used to get the benefit of affirmative action when she was seeking a position in academia. Warren has no actual Native American ancestry to mock. What is worthy of mockery—though not by the President of the United States–is her fake assumption of a minority personal to benefit her career at the expense of others.

Arkin misrepresented the facts—Warren can produce no evidence that she is even a smidgen Cherokee, as she maintained for years—either to make the President appear to be racist, or because Arkin is a completely incompetent journalist, influenced by confirmation bias to the detriment of his readers.

Dishonest or incompetent? The result is unethical journalism and fake news either way.

_____________________

Pointer: Instapundit

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race

Incompetence Saturday Continues: Those News Stories About President Trump Claiming That Protesters Have No Right To Protest or Violated His Rights Are Fake News

Over 29,000 views, every one making the viewer more ignorant…

This is also cross-filed under “Bias makes you stupid,” a file (and tag) now stuffed to overflowing by the anti-Trump-obsessed, members of “the resistance,” and journalists—but I repeat myself—who are meticulously destroying their credibility and trustworthiness with every manufactured outrage. (For an amusing related video, look here.)

Over at Popehat, First Amendment specialist lawyer/blogger Ken White dutifully defends the President from incompetent and biased reporting, not for the first time, regarding Nwanguma v. Trump, the case pending in federal court in Kentucky where plaintiffs, protesters at a March 1, 2016 Trump rally in Louisville, claim that Trump incited his fans to assault them. Writes Ken, in a statement that echos what has been written on Ethics Alarms many, many times:

“It is not necessary to make things up to paint him as censorious and uninformed about free speech values. Yet here we are again.”

He goes on…

Previously I lawsplained that no, a federal judge didn’t rule that Trump had incited violence, and no, it’s very misleading to say that one of the allegedly violent rally-goers sued Trump for inciting him to violence.

Now, says Ken ruefully, we are seeing stories like this one in Politico, headlined,

Trump lawyer: ‘No right’ to protest at rallies

(The similar headline over my post comes from Charles Johnson, the blogger who exposed Dan Rather’s attempt to use a forged letter in a CBS News report, essentially ending Rather’s career as a legitimate journalist)

This, Ken explains, is untrue. This, Jack explains, is also fake news. Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society

Incompetence Saturday Begins: That Annoying “Ten Concerts, One’s A Lie” Facebook Game

It’s a relief to know that I occasionally pay attention to what I teach.

When so many of my Facebook friends started rushing like lemmings to play the viral “Name ten concerts you attended, with one phony one” game yesterday, I hesitated, and not just because listing Al Jolson, Enrico Caruso and  Jenny Lind would reveal my true age. I had just been explaining to a group of Pennsylvania lawyers that they probably weren’t as competent in using technology and social media as they thought they were, and that if there was one thing of value to extract from the last Presidential campaign, it was a searing lesson in the consequences of being naive, lazy and gullible while using the internet. (Yes, I’m looking at you, John Podesta!)

By purest coincidence, yesterday also marked my four hour efforts, involving four phone calls, three phones, two websites, three passwords and a consultant (my son), to switch my e-mail address from Verizon to AOL, since AOL has purchased Verizon’s e-mail business. As I neared the finish line of this ordeal, I encountered AOL’s list of “Secret Security Questions.” One of them was “What was the first concert you attended?

Hmmmm… Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Facebook, Marketing and Advertising, Science & Technology, Social Media, The Internet

Ethics Dunce: Annie Peguero, Defiant Breast-Feeding Mom

Ah, yet another feast from the legal/ethical divide, with seasoning from the minority/majority ethics balancing dilemma, and a side-dish of favored group arrogance and entitlement! The beverage? Why breast milk, of course!

Yum!

Annie Peguero’s 19-month-old baby became unruly during the service at the Summit Church in Springfield, Virginia, so she nursed her, right there, in the church. She was quickly asked to move the operation to a private room, but Peguero refused.The church staff told her that it does not allow breast-feeding without a cover because the activity might make members of the congregation uncomfortable.

The mother of two left the church, and soon posted a livestream video on Facebook telling viewers her side of the story and urging women to stand up for breast-feeding.

“I want you to know that breast-feeding is normal,” she said.

Is it normal without any cover in a church? That church? Peeing is normal, but I wouldn’t rely on the “normal” categorization take a whiz in a pew. Farting is normal, but if I felt a big one coming, I would excuse myself. Eating is normal, but chowing down on a huge Italian sub during the hymns would be in bad taste. Sex is normal, but…well, you get the idea. Annie doesn’t.

To complicate the matter, breast-feeding is a legally protected right in Virginia thanks to badly written 2015 law that says women have a right to breast-feed anywhere they have a legal right to be. Dumb law, overly broad, and probably the result of pandering to the mommy lobby while assuming that mothers wouldn’t try to stretch the law to absurd limits. But Virginia also has a Religious Freedom Preservation Act, § 57-2.02, which says,

No government entity shall substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is (i) essential to further a compelling governmental interest and (ii) the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Do we really think that churches shouldn’t be allowed to have dress and decorum codes and policies? Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Q & A On Obama’s Speaking Fees

Former President Barack Obama received a $400,000 speaking fee for an appearance at an A&E Network event  yesterday, just as controversy was building over Obama accepting the same fee to appear at a Wall Street firm’s conference.

What’s going on here?

The ex-President is cashing in, that’s what’s going on here. This has become standard operating procedure for former POTUSes, beginning with Gerald Ford, who was showered with criticism by Democrats and the news media for signing with the William Morris agency and picking up what was at the time considered obscene speaking fees from corporations and foreign governments. Ford’s fees are dwarfed by Obama’s, but then Barack is a much better speaker than the late President Ford was. (Almost anyone is.)

Jimmy Carter showed admirable restraint by not devoting his post-Presidency to enriching himself off of his years in office, but Ronald Reagan took some mega-fees to speak abroad. The Clintons, as we know too well, instantly went from rags to riches by selling their celebrity, an exercise that was especially dubious because Hillary was on the rise. Obama’s speaking fees are just one more step along the cashing-in path that both he and Michelle had already begun traveling with the astounding 65 million dollar deal the couple signed to write their biographies.

Some questions and answers on the ethics of Obama’s payday:

1.  Is Obama ‘s acceptance of all this money ethical?

In a vacuum, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t. He set a fee, and someone is willing to pay it. Hillary’s fee was $250,000; if she can get that much for her dry-as-toast delivery as a former Senator, Secretary of State and First Lady, Obama’s a bargain at $400,000. As a private citizen, he has the same right any of us do to sell his books and speeches at whatever the market will bear.

I, for example, get $37.56 for an hour long speech, and am glad to get it..

2. But it isn’t in a vacuum, right?

Right. Obama still has power and influence; he still promises to be a voice in the Democratic party. He’s not exactly a private citizen, and no ex-President is. Taking such a large payment from a Wall Street firm, after all of Obama’s rhetoric (and that of Bernie Sanders, the non-Democrat now being paraded as a leader of the Democratic party) condemning Wall Street has the decided whiff of hypocrisy about it. Not only, that, but as with Hillary Clinton and Bill, the payment of such jaw-dropping amounts for minimal service natural raises questions of pay-offs. Obama’s administration famously sought no criminal sanctions for Wall Street executives despite their  role in what Obama called “driving the economy into a ditch.” How do we know this wasn’t part of an installment payment to Obama for services already rendered, a quid pro quo? We don’t.

It is also hard to make sense out of those fees if they aren’t paying for something more than an hour long speech.

3. So these fees create “the appearance of impropriety?” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Finance, Government & Politics, Leadership

What, No Riots? No Protests? No Heckler’s Veto? What’s The Matter With Conservatives Anyway?

Prolific commenter Other Bill just sent me a provocative link, with an implied question. The link covered an event this week sponsored by ‘Democracy Now!’ in which legitimately credentialed linguistics expert and professional America-hater Noam Chomsky answered questions from interviewer  Amy Goodman  at the First Parish Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The topic was President Trump’s first hundred days.

Chomsky has been sowing the same anti-U.S. bile since I had hair, and his targets–capitalists, businesses, conservatives, whites, Republicans, the military, anyone who doesn’t reflexively barf at the sound of the Star-Spangled Banner—are on notice what to expect, and have been for decades. Sure enough, Chomsky delivered: his theme this week was that the Republican Party is “dedicated to the destruction of organized human life on Earth.” No, seriously. This is the kind of thing Chomsky fans have feasted on forever.   “Is the Republican organization—I hesitate to call it a party—committed to that? Overwhelmingly. There isn’t even any question about it,” he says at the outset. Later he says the the Republican Party is “the most dangerous organization in human history.” More dangerous than the German Nazis, more dangerous than the Soviet or Chinese Communist Parties, more dangerous than all of the organizations, cults, religions and radical groups that murdered and tortured innocents, engaged in genocide, spread terrorism and launched wars. and

Sure, Noam. Whatever you say. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Rights