Musings On A Recent Entry In The Ethics Alarms “I Don’t Understand This Story At ALL” Files

Fontrell Baines, 31, a rapper who goes by the stage name of “Nuke Bizzle,” was arrested on three felony counts of access device fraud, aggravated identity theft and interstate transportation of stolen property, thus facing up to 22 years in federal prison. It’s not just that the evidence shows that Baines and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained at least 92 debit cards pre-loaded with more than $1.2 million on them and converted the cards into more than $700,000 of ill-gotten gains. The rapper was caught after he posted a music video about the scheme on YouTube, leading to his arrest last month while he had multiple debit cards in his possession with the names of people who weren’t him..  The catchy rap song,  in which he boasts about getting “rich off of EDD, amassed more than 400,000 views and also alerted authorities to his scheme.

“Unemployment so sweet,” Baines raps. “We had 1.5 land this week!” A cohort on the video joins in, “You gotta sell cocaine, I can just file a claim!”

Prosecutors say the stolen cards were sent to addresses in Beverly Hills and the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, where “Nuke” could get grab them. For inspiration….

Musings:

Continue reading

“If Someone Like Myka Stauffer Can Be A Paid ‘Influencer,’ What Does It Take NOT To Be Influential?” And Other Mysteries Of The 21st Century

Quick: guess which kid they “rehomed”….

Here’s a another one: What the hell am I doing wrong?

Myka Stauffer is a so-called “online influencer,” meaning that she has such a huge following on social media that companies pay her to promote their products. Apparently being a social influencer has nothing to do with being smart, wise, ethical or a benefit to society. We know that because such wastes of DNA like the Kardashians are paid influencers—imagine making life decisions based on the recommendations of Kyie Jenner—but at least they have a TV show and have also demonstrated the ability to become rich with no discernible talent whatsoever.  That’s something, at least.

Stauffer is a much bigger mystery. I read a profile of her, and am still flummoxed. She has around 700,000 YouTube followers and 200,000 Instagram followers because…why? Her mother had her when she was 16. “I got to go to some really cool parties [and] I got to go to a bunch of concerts, which is a perk of having younger parents,” she says. Otherwise  her childhood was “basic, regular,”  and she loved everything about it until her mom told  her that her  dad was not her biological father.  “The next day I lost my virginity. I had planned to save myself for marriage. It wasn’t even a question in my mind,” says Stauffer. “When my identity was flipped upside down, everything went out the window.” Then she was grounded for an entire year as punishment, which gave her “lot of opportunity for self-growth.”  Then Stauffer found religion…oh, never mind, you can read the whole banal story here if your sock drawer is in order. Her second husband is a car detailer, and she’s a vegan. And an inexplicably large, gullible audience of infantilized women with empty lives and the brain pans of grackles look to her for guidance about what to wear and buy.

This is the quality of character they now know they can expect: After documenting on YouTube and Instagram her successful efforts to adopt an autistic little boy, she and her husband decided to “rehome” him,  using the term typically reserved for rotten pet owners who decide to get rid of a  dog or cat. It’s a euphemism, of course. What she is doing is giving away her son, because he’s just too much darn trouble if you’re going to get all those Instagram posts and videos out. Continue reading

Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 4/28/2020: Ethics Clouds In My Coffee

Good evening.

1. Here’s an ethics quote I need to use more often…I was watching the 1941 film “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” about a jury trial to determine whether the Devil will get a farmer’s soul as contracted.  It reminded me of a quote by Kurt Vonnegut: “A soul is the part of you that let’s you know when your brain isn’t working properly.”

A better definition of an ethics alarm you could not devise.

2. So where were the souls of the judges who voted for this? Thousands of prisoners have been released from incarceration to protect them from the outbreak of the Wuhan virus inside jails and prisons.  The theory is that subjecting prisoners to this special peril is cruel and unusual punishment. The theory’s not wrong, but it’s a bit unbalanced. Their peril is not entirely  society’s fault, after all.

There are activists at the extreme end of the progressive spectrum —a division getting larger all the time, it seems—who seem to want to eliminate penal punishment completely.  Not letting a crisis go to waste, a group of them , Columbia Legal Services, began pushing for inmates over 50 years old in Washington state to be released as a compassionate act to save them from the virus.

Among the intended beneficiaries: Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, and Isaac Zamora,  serving a life sentence for going on  a shooting rampage and killing six  people. Ridgeway is one of the nation’s most frightening serial killers, eventually confessing to 71 murders. Over the three decades of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, Ridgeway captured women and girls, raped them, and  strangled them. He loved watching the life go out of their eyes as they died by his hand, though sometimes he used a  rope. Then he  would pose with the corpses. If he really liked his victim,  he’d have post mortem sex with her body. His first victims were found in the Green River, giving him a catchy name.

Ridgeway was sentenced to 500 years in prison with no possibility of parole. The victim’s families were promised that he would never be released. Ah, but poor Gary is 71 now, and thus at risk of succumbing to the pandemic, and presumed to be too feeble to be a threat. That, at least, is what Columbia Legal Services argued. (You know, I’m not much younger than Ridgeway, and I’m pretty certain I could murder someone. In fact, I’m getting ideas…)

Q13 News reported  that prosecutors protested that “the Petitioners [Columbia Legal Services] demand that 2/3 of the prison population be released into the community, a number which includes serial killers and capital murderers.” You would think that their argument would be a slam dunk. You would be wrong. Continue reading

“What? That Horrible Nancy Pelosi Kept Ripping Up The President’s Speech Again And Again?”

The video above was released by the Trump campaign, and tweeted out by the President. It made effective, if predictable, use of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s inexcusable stunt of symbolically ripping up the President’s State of the Union text at the conclusion of his address.

Immediately upon the ad’s release, the Speaker’s office demanded that Twitter and Facebook take it down. Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, tweeted, “The latest fake video of Speaker Pelosi is deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people, and every day that these platforms refuse to take it down is another reminder that they care more about their shareholders’ interests than the public’s interests.” But a Facebook spokesman replied on Twitter, “Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn’t make those remarks and the Speaker didn’t rip the speech?”

Hammill indignantly responded,  “What planet are you living on? This is deceptively altered. Take it down.” Facebook would not.  “I can confirm for you that the video doesn’t violate our policies,” said representative Andy Stone, pointing out that what Facebook called “unacceptable altered video” were those edited to make it appear that a person said something they didn’t say, or did something they didn’t do.

Ugh. The video was edited to make it appear ( though not fooling anyone with an IQ above freezing) that Pelosi ripped up the speech while the President’s various human interest salutes were unfolding. That’s something she didn’t do. Continue reading

After School Ethics Special, 1/6/2020: Stupidity On Parade

 

“Help?”

A grateful pointer to Althouse for finding this photo, which raises automatic ethics questions. I am viscerally opposed to putting sweater, clothes and costumes on dogs, in part because all of our dogs have hated it, and one, our feisty Jack Russell Dickens, would twist himself like a contortionist to get out of any garb, whereupon he would rip it to shreds. Several of her commenters make a great point, however: it is unethical to force dogs bred for warm and dry climates to live in wet, cold ones. I have dog-lover friends who insist that dogs are humiliated by being dressed up, like Ralphie in his bunny pajamas. That, I think, is a stretch.

1. Don’t blame Disney. Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley, California decided to raise money for the PTA by selling tickets to a screening of  The Lion King. CNN explains,

“One of the dads bought the movie at Best Buy,” PTA president David Rose told CNN. “He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules.” While the school doesn’t know how exactly the company discovered the movie was played, Rose said the school’s PTA will “somewhat begrudgingly” cover the cost of the screening. An email sent to the school by Movie Licensing USA informed Emerson faculty that the company had “received an alert” that “The Lion King” was screened during an event on November 15. Movie Licensing USA manages licensing for Disney and other major studios. And since the school does not have a license with the company, it’s been asked to pay $250 for the screening — and $250 per showing of the movie at any future events at the school.”

What? “Somewhat grudgingly”? They had “no idea” charging for tickets to see copyrighted material broke any rules? Those rules are well-displayed on any DVD, and any duty of reasonable intelligence should be able to figure out what’s illegal about doing what they did. There weren’t any lawyers among the organizers and attendees?

In its story about this episode, Boing Boing, an entertaining site with an annoyingly “woke” staff, implies that Disney is being an greedy old meanie, and that the PTA was an innocent victim of another evil corporation.  Wrong, and stupid. If companies don’t protect their copyrights and trademarks, they can lose them. Disney has been overzealous in this area, but not on this occasion.

2. KABOOM! Chris Matthews suggested yesterday that the Democrats should consider nominating Adam Schiff for President. Continue reading

Hello, August! Ethics Warm-Up: A Cheating Ex-Marine, An Athlete Who Cheats By Being Naturally Superior, The Cheating Media, And More

As if anyone needs “warm-ups” in August…

1. Here’s how you know a political candidate is an untrustworthy weasel: he places the official United States Marine Corps emblem on his campaign material. That would be Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican who has represented a conservative district near San Diego since 2009. This month, Hunter received a letter from the Marine Corps —that also had the official Marine emblem on it, but legitimately, unlike Duncan’s mailers—telling him he did not have permission to use the symbol and demanding that he stop immediately. The letter suggested that Mr. Hunter use an approved “Marine Veteran” emblem instead.

The man’s a long-time member of Congress, and he doesn’t know the basic fact that using any organization’s official emblem, logo or letterhead for an unrelated communication dishonestly suggests that that a communication has been endorsed by the organization? This isn’t an accident. This is misappropriation and intentional deception.

Or stupidity, of course. Any of the three ought to disqualify Hunter for Congress.

2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Part I. I no longer am going to be nice when someone tells me that liberal mainstream media bias is a myth, or that they aren’t routine purveyors  of “fake news.”

On Monday, as President Trump signed the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund extension, he mentioned being at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terror attacks, saying, “I was down there [at Ground Zero] also, but I’m not considering myself a first responder, but I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you.”  Immediately, members the media elite already working over-time to help Democrats defeat him accused the President of lying.

Kyle Griffin, a producer at MSNBC,  claimed there was no evidence Trump was ever at Ground Zero after 9/11. Then CNN’s Chris Cillizza, a progressive hack since his days at the Washington Post, described the statement as the President being “Walter Mitty,” the James Thurber character who imagined himself doing things he couldn’t and didn’t. “Business Insider”ran the headline, “Trump said he was ‘down there’ at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, but there’s no evidence he was ever closer than a few blocks away.” The New York Times  cited a retired NYFD deputy chief who said Trump was never at Ground Zero, because, apparently, he sees all and knows all.

It didn’t take long for someone to track down an NBC video of Trump being interviewed at Ground Zero soon after the attacks, whereupon social media’s anti-Trump hoard shifted gears and claimed that the President had said he was literally in among the rescuers at the disaster site. Yet the video is slam-dunk proof that he was closer than “a few blocks away,” and by any reasonable interpretation, was “at Ground Zero.”

This is a disease. Continue reading

KABOOM! YouTube Pulls “The Triumph Of The Will”—Hate Speech, You Know. Can’t Have That!

I would have included a clip of “Triumph of the Will” here, but apparently such a film never existed…

Well, I can’t complain too much; it’s been a while since a news story propelled my brains through my skull to the ceiling. However, the trigger this time demonstrates that several developments are even worse than I thought—or believed they would get—such as…

  • The Left’s embrace of historical airbrushing and censorship as part of its strategy of controlling thought and knowledge.
  • Social media’s meat-axe approach to policing online content.
  • The perilous state of the First Amendment as both the Left and its allied media seek to control art as well as speech.

YouTube released new policies regarding “hate speech” yesterday  to “reduce more hateful and supremacist content from YouTube.”  Since the new policies almost immediately resulted in the removal of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 Nazi propaganda epic “Triumph of the Will,”    I can confidently conclude the the policies are far too broad, and also that those executing them have the perspective of the average person who has grown up in a cave, and the judgment of the PTA scold who wants to ban “Huckleberry Finn.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Catch-Up, 10/19/2018: Digging Out

Good Morning!

My CLE circuit-riding adventure was completed when I returned home last night, and now I have the ethics equivalent of Augean stables facing me. So I’m grabbing my metaphorical shovel, and going to work…

1 Rationalization #22 approach: At least it wasn’t a tweet… During a rally in Missoula, Montana yesterday, President Trump endorsed Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte’s  May 2017 attack on Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs (Gianforte eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault), saying, “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy.”

I’m at a loss. This comment comes in the context of a Saudi journalist being vivisected and Democrats diving at the low road by encouraging incivility and harassment of conservatives. How aware does someone have to be—not just a President, but anyone—to figure out that it is no time to be praising thugs like Ginaforte, whom I wrote about (twice) here?

2. Pro tip: If you want to hide your status as a left-biased hack, don’t use PolitiFact as authority for your opinion. Those who can’t quickly discern that PolitiFact is a blatant example of that oxymoron, a biased media factchecker, are too biased themselves to be taken seriously. (Most of Ethics Alarms’ self-exiled progressive shills were addicted to PolitiFact). Here is yet another smoking gun: now that an election is looming, PolitiFact is barely even trying to appear objective.

First, PolitiFact awarded a “ mostly false” rating this week to former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., for a campaign ad that says of her Senate opponent, “While we were in harm’s way in uniform, [ Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.] was protesting us in a pink tutu and denigrating our service.” Even by the service’s own description of the episode, the ad is accurate. Here is PolitiFact’s argument, which is pretty typical of what the news media calls “fact-checking”:

McSally retired from the Air Force in 2010 after 26 years of military service. After 9/11, Sinema led protests against the war in Iraq. At a 2003 rally called “No War! A Celebration of Life and Creativity,” Sinema wore a pink tutu. Media reports of the rallies in 2002 and 2003 quote Sinema as opposing the war and the Bush administration’s policy, but we found no evidence of her disparaging troops. McSally’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.

Disagreeing over whether or not an anti-war protest disparages troops is not disproving a fact. This, however, is even worse:

The GOP’s Senate Leadership Fund released an ad this week, titled “‘Normal’ MO,” focusing on Senator Claire McCaskill’s penchant for traveling by private plane and alleging that Senator is out of touch with her constituents.

“Claire even said this about private planes,” the ad says, cutting to video of McCaskill saying, “That ordinary people can afford it.”

Responded PolitiFact: “Did Claire McCaskill say normal people can afford a private plane? No.”

The video highlighted in the GOP ad shows an August 2017 town hall in which a constituent asked McCaskill, “You know, that’s one thing the United States has that nobody else has, is the freedom to fly around and be affordable where a normal person can afford it.” McCaskill responded, “Will you remind them when they come after me about my husband’s plane that normal people can afford it?”

PolitiFact apparently never reviewed the whole exchange, falsely writing that “the audience member never said anything about private planes in the clip; he appears to be referencing the freedom and low cost of the overall U.S. commercial aviation system.” Finally,  Politifact took down its McCaskill story, announcing that it would “re-evaluate” it in light of “ new evidence.”  The new evidence is the full video which has been available for months.

“[A]fter publication,” says PolitiFact, “we received more complete video of the question-and-answer session between McCaskill and a constituent that showed she was in fact responding to a question about private planes, as well as a report describing the meeting … We apologize for the error.” But even after getting the full context and confirmation of McCaskill’s remarks, PolitiFact still only gave the GOP ad a “half true” rating, because, it said, the ad “exaggerated” the full context of what the senator was saying. PolitiFact argues that McCaskill’s comments “seem to refer to ‘normal’ users of private planes, not to ‘normal’ Americans more generally.” She said, “Will you remind them when they come after me about my husband’s plane that normal people can afford it?” You tell me: Is PolitiFact clarifying, or desperately spinning for its partisan purposes? [Pointer and Source: Washington Examiner 1,2] Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/24/18: Potpourri!

Good Morning!

Once again, I am prepping for a law firm training session (at 9 am!), and am rushing to get as much covered as I can.

1 More on how sports commentators make us stupid. I happened to be listening to the Sirius-XM MLB channel, as old Red Sox third-baseman Rico Petrocelli was holding forth on the luck factor in baseball. “I mean,” opined Rico,” a single missed strike or ball call by an umpire can change games, championships, seasons and careers! A single missed pitch by an umpire!”

Then he and his partner on the show noted that there have even been calls for balls and strikes to be called electronically, which, as I have pointed out here, is now completely feasible. “Ridiculous!” spat Rico, as his sidekick vigorously agreed.

Let me get this straight: he just (correctly) talked about how a single mistaken call can have momentous consequences, but says it’s ridiculous to eliminate mistaken calls when the technology is available to do so.

That’s even less logical than the defenses of illegal immigration. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms “I Don’t Understand This Story At ALL” Files, Georgia’s Dancing Doctor Fick

YouTube is stuffed with videos like the one above, posted by Dr. Fick, aka Dr. Windell Boutte, a Georgia dermatologist who poses as a plastic surgeon and who has rafts of malpractice suits pending against her. Though she claims otherwise on her website, she is a board-certified dermatologist, but not certified as a plastic surgeon or general surgeon.

However, in the Peach Tree State, every licensed physician is allowed  to perform operations, even if they are not a board-certified. They are not supposed to be dancing while they do, however. Well, this is implicit. Apparently it isn’t made clear enough, at least for this doctor. Boutte posts videos of herself dancing during surgery, like the one above. There are many more.

Thus she is a fick, the first medical variety I have encountered. A fick is someone who is openly, shamelessly, even gleefully unethical. The fact that this hyper-narcissist films herself doing choreography and mugging for the camera while the only thing on her mind should be her patient’s care demonstrates that she is wildly unethical, reckless, irresponsible and unprofessional, and this would be the case if her record for safety was squeaky clean. It isn’t. At least seven malpractice lawsuits against Boutte include claims that she used unqualified staff during procedures that left former patients disfigured. Two additional lawsuit settlements are listed on the state licensing website. And then there is the dancing around unconscious, exposed, patients while performing renditions of popular songs, such as “Bad and Boujee,” “Building up Fat in the Booty” and “Gut Don’t Live Here Anymore, while her staff act like the back-up singers.

(I can’t believe I’m writing this.) Continue reading