“I don’t want to be here. I was made to be here. This is a terrible inconvenience to me… Obviously I just want to get this over with and get on with my life.” – British supermodel Naomi Campbell about how much trouble it is for her to appear as a prosecution witness in the trial of African warlord Charles Taylor. Ms. Campbell testified that she was anonymously given a small bag of diamonds which she then gave to someone else seemingly for no reason whatsoever. Taylor, former leader of Liberia, is charged with trading weapons for blood diamonds with rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone. More than 100,000 people died in Sierra Leone’s civil war.
"I would not describe any section of our site as ‘sex related,’ " [Craigslist CEO Jim] Buckmaster wrote in response to a series of e-mailed questions from the Globe. He acknowledged that Craigslist offers an "erotic services" section that should not include more than "legitimate escort services, sensual massage, exotic dancers, etc.," but said that offers to exchange sexual favors for money are "strictly prohibited" and removed from the site.
What’s that Capt. Renault? You are shocked, shocked to find out there is gambling in the casino? I don’t blame you at all. And here are your winnings.
This is exactly the wrong PR approach. Don’t proclaim that there is such a thing as “legitimate escort service.” What you say is, “Have you looked in the Yellow Pages under ‘escort’ or ‘massage’? How is what we are doing different from that?” Look in any alt-weekly and you’ll see more of the same but with explicit pictures.
Buckmaster is caught up in a frenzy of outrage created by media companies that have had their revenues devastated by Craigslist. They would have done this to anyone but I suspect they are enjoying this a bit more than usual. Does anyone actually think that people who advertise their services in other media are any more or less at risk than those who do so via Craigslist? The hypocrisy is all this self-righteousness is astounding. The advertising alone makes it clear society views prostitution about as seriously as it does the speed limit.
The story that has yet to be examined on this topic is whether Craigslist is actually cutting down on pimping by making it easier for women and men of negotiable morals to run their own businesses. Of course that would also beg the issue of whether the prostitutes and the people who pay them wouldn’t all be safer if it were a legal and regulated activity. The other option is to vigorously and effectively enforce the laws against – and we have proved we have no interest in doing that.
Yeah, there’s a lot more than 10 here. What can I say? It was a very good year for very bad things.
GRAND PRIZE FOR SUSTAINED ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORT
The John McCain Presidential Campaign
- “Our economy, I think, is still — the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
- Has no idea how many houses he (or his wife) owns.
- Picks Sara Palin, the Broad to Nowhere who couldn’t find Russia or Africa on a map.
- Campaign adviser and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina says Palin couldn’t run a major corporation.
- Campaign adviser and former senator Phil Gramm says Americans are whiners about economic problems.
- “Shutting down” his campaign to fix the bailout.
- “Lipstick on a pig”
- Egregious attack on Dungeons & Dragons that clearly cost him the election. (OK, maybe not so much the last one).
- June: with gas heading to $4-a-gallon, company announces it is trying to sell the Hummer brand. As of today, sale is still pending.
- August: with gas at $4-a-gallon, company announces it will take the bold move of investing “$500 million to build a new fuel-efficient, small car the automaker says will show it can make money in head-to-head competition with its Japanese rivals as it fights to return to profitability.”
- October: Asks Treasury Dept. for $10 billion to pay for proposed merger with Chrysler
- Early November: car company that already isn’t selling cars argues it can’t file for bankruptcy because “people won’t buy cars from a bankrupt car company.”
- Late November: leads troika of Detroit CEOs to DC to ask for taxpayer money to balance the books. Each flies in on wings of attitude and three separate corporate jets.
- December: runs weasel-word mea culpa in Automotive News: “While we’re still the U.S. sales leader, we acknowledge we have disappointed you. At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lackluster. We have proliferated our brands and dealer network to the point where we lost adequate focus on our core U.S. market. We also biased our product mix toward pick-up trucks and SUVs. And, we made commitments to compensation plans that have proven to be unsustainable in today’s globally competitive industry.“
- Ford features “Space Oddity” — a song about astronaut suicide — in new car campaign.
- Framingham State College uses the word blah 137 times in a 312-word fundraising letter.
- Disney (multiple entries): Bans kids from DisneyWorld restaurant; Changes “It’s A Small World” to “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America”; and Sells “High School Musical” panties for tween girls with the phrase “Dive In” on them.
- Woolworths (UK) launches Lolita brand of beds for young girl
- JetBlue lives up to Southwest’s parody ad by charging for pillows.
- Russia uses smiling kids in tourism ad for war zone
- Residents of Lesbos sue those other lesbians over brand name
- Motrin gets headache from viral moms video
- Butcher’s ads feature “Meat Products, Fresh Service” on naked woman
- Hershey asks if you’ve found Mr. Goodbar
Special Jury Awards
Co-Branding That Shouldn’t Have Been
- Windows Vista toilet paper
- The Muppets appear on DVD for Law & Order: SVU
- Barbie® Rice Krispies® Treats
- P&G starts hip-hop record label (Bounce® and Beyonce? Jay Z and Oral B®? 50 Cent and Febreze®? Snoop Dogg and Eukanuba®? Ghostface Killah and Ghost®? Lil Wayne & Pampers®?)
The Alpha & Omega of Over-reaching
- God’s chosen racing team loses at the Indy 500
- “Pope’s Cologne Provides Solace to Grieving Widow”
- “Can Batman Teach Spiritual Truth?”
- Email service lets you taunt friends after The Rapture
- McDonalds compares Ray Kroc to Martin Luther King Jr.
- LifeLock ID protection service fails to protect CEO’s identity
- Anti-shark device found to attract sharks
The Penguins Of Irony “Oh NO You Din’t” Awards
- Publisher says bankruptcy puts magazine chain in “a position poised for wonderful growth
- WaMu continues to send credit card offers after going out of business
Previous years’ lists
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (pronounced: U-r-kid-ing-me) and his chief of staff have been arrested for trying to shake down various people and institutions. While the lead in the news is how it is related to naming a successor to our president-elect, what really got me is this:
According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper’s editorial board who had been critical of him fired.
OK, so the risk for an elected official doing this sort of thing is what will happen if the press finds out about it. Don’t really have to worry about that “if” in this case, do you Rod?
As someone who grew up in Chicago and then Rhode Island (Motto: We’re not as corrupt as Louisiana but we’re trying), I am curious to know if there is a corruption index for government in the US?
UPDATE: The interwebs is democratizing satire: For bid on eBay: 1 Ill. Senate seat, slightly worn
ANOTHER UPDATE: TOTALLY BIASED LIST OF MOST CORRUPT STATES: Louisiana is the most corrupt state in the nation. That’s according to an analysis of government data released today by Corporate Crime Reporter. Louisiana (1), Mississippi (2), Kentucky (3), Alabama (4) and Ohio (5) are the top five most corrupt states in the country, according to the analysis. Rounding out the top ten are Illinois (6), Pennsylvania (7), Florida (8), New Jersey (9), and New York (10). Corporate Crime Reporter looked at the 35 most populous states in the nation. (The fifteen states with population of under two million were not included in the analysis.)
No list that doesn’t have Rhode Island in the top 5 is worth its palm grease.
Joe Winiecki, of Largo, Fla., boarded a Southwest flight in Columbus, Ohio, wearing a T-shirt for a fictional dishing shop which featured the words, “Master Baiter.” Winiecki said he was in his seat when an employee told him he had to change his T-shirt, turn it inside out, or get off the plane.
Earlier this year a Southwest flight attendant/waiter told a woman in a tank-top that she must either cover her cleavage or get off the plane.
Just a note to Southwest: Fashion police is a good brand differentiator if you’re the Queer Eye guys, not if you’re an airline.
Wonder if my readers from Trout Underground know which bait shop this is?
Left Behind Games, makers of (somewhat controversial) religiously themed real-time strategy games … apparently isn’t happy that its video games were reviewed negatively across the blogworld. So, they did what any video game company would do: they improved their game. Oh… no, they didn’t. … They simply pulled out the lawyers and threatened to sue a bunch of bloggers for posting “false and misleading” content about the games. Of course, opinions can’t be either false or misleading, so they’ll have quite a case on their hands.
So guess what story/opinions are now being spread far and wide across the interweb? A text book case in how not to do this.
Allow me to take this opportunity to thank the legal system for protecting providers of false and/or misleading opinions … a/k/a me.
China Security and Surveillance Technology, a fast-growing company that installs and sometimes operates surveillance systems for Chinese police agencies, jails and banks, among other customers, has just been approved for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s listing and the recent appointment of Li Runsen, the powerful technology director of China’s ministry of public security, to the board of the company, are just the latest signs of ever-closer ties among Wall Street, surveillance companies and the Chinese government’s security apparatus, The New York Times noted.
Isn’t this basically the same as putting money into the company that sold Zyklon-B? Can you imagine the PR implications if this is in your stock portfolio?
A study published in Nature Neuroscience showed that
Conservatives tend to crave order and structure in their lives, and are more consistent in the way they make decisions. Liberals, by contrast, show a higher tolerance for ambiguity and complexity, and adapt more easily to unexpected circumstances.
Consider this in the light of Mr. Craig’s behavior: First, there’s the Hamlet-like debate over resigning (if Hamlet were really, really, really creapy). Then his lawyer William Martin said on the Today show (today!) that Craig didn’t “knowingly and intelligently enter a guilty plea” and so would be changing his mind on that one, too.
Perhaps the soon-to-be-former senator is bisexual, because other than his plea & the resignation, he has yet to change his mind about any other facts in the case:
Martin said Craig will argue that he was under too much stress to knowingly plead guilty.
And you KNOW Mad Annie Coulter is going to have a field day with this. This is the person who wrote:
Assuming the worst about Craig, the Senate has not held a vote on outlawing homosexual impulses. It voted on gay marriage. Craig not only opposes gay marriage, he’s in a heterosexual marriage with kids. Talk about walking the walk! Did Craig propose marriage to the undercover cop? If not, I’m not seeing the “hypocrisy.”
God love her. Someone has to.Personally I think the Democrats should offer to pay Craig’s legal fees. He’s the best thing to happen to them since whatever that last GOP sex scandal was.
(Aside from the issue of the study’s implications for the Man Behind Door #2, I have to say I had my doubts about the science of this study. I’m always uneasy when I hear of science “proving” a social contruct. It reminds me too much of the bogus studies that have been done to “prove” this or that racial group or people with a particular sexual preference are always X — with X being a value that is not considered positive by the ruling class at the time. But from what I’ve read this was a legit double-blind study. I wonder what it would show about people who describe themselves as libertarians?)
Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza “inadvertently sent an e-mail intended as an internal memo to a Spirit Airlines staff member to a couple who had e-mailed Baldanza a complaint about bad service on his airline.”
The customers had written what has been characterized as a “long but polite” letter asking for a $376.84 refund to cover a trip ruined by a three-hour delay to their Spirit Airlines flight. In an email meant instructing a staffer how to respond Baldanza wrote: “Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny. ”
He then hit “reply all.”
BTW, Aviation.com (from whence I got this story) said that the customers “were more angry over the rudeness and bad service they felt they had experienced at the hands of Spirit Airlines staff during the three-hour delay than at the fact of the delay itself.”
(I am late to the story, it broke a couple of weeks ago when one of the customers in question posted the story to another blog and then it went into WIDE circulation.)
Aviation.com also quotes the Orlando Sentinal who got the following amazing quotes from one Alison Russell, Spirit Airlines’ director of corporate communications in North America:
- “No, we really don’t believe we have anything to apologize for regarding Ben’s e-mail.”
- “I can tell you that Ben cares enormously about our customers and our customer service. Ben said what is exactly true: that we don’t owe the customer anything. People can and do post whatever they would like on the Internet. But it cannot alter your adherence to your company policy or your procedures.”
- “Truthfully, I’m genuinely not concerned,” she said. “People are going to have a blog for good things or bad things. We are very pleased with our customer service, we are very pleased with what we do.”
It’s always been my understanding that when it comes to customer service, it’s the customer who should determine whether or not a company is pleased with what it does.
Repeat after me, Mr. Baldanza & Ms. Russell, “I’m sorry. We screwed up. This is not how we want to operate. This kind of attitude starts with the top leadership and I clearly need to take full responsibility.” Then you list the concrete actions you are taking to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
There’s a simple lesson that spies and journalists learn early on: Don’t write anything down unless you’re comfortable with it appearing on the front page of the New York Times. Fortunately for spies and journalists, very few people learn that lesson.
Hmmm, seems to be airline theme week …
The wonderful writer for the New Yorker and legal affairs analyst for CNN was thoroughly in the wrong place today — caught covering the Michael Vick non-event on the same day as Alberto Gonzales resigned. Watched Toobin briefly on CNN and could tell by the look in his eyes that he knew he was missing THE story.
I am fascinated to see who the White House comes up with for a replacement for Gonzales. It has been a post continually filled by the 2nd dimmest bulb in the administration. One person on meeting Mr. Ashcroft was shocked at how dumb he was, to which another person said, “Well, don’t forget he did lose an election to a dead guy.” To give Mr. Ashcroft his due, though, the more we find out about his refusal to renew secret wire-tapping efforts the more he seems like a truly stand-up guy.
In Re: Mr. Vick
Gotta say the most irritating thing about his little non confession was the literal “come to Jesus” moment.
Even if he has done so there’s no way this announcement made on the day he is pleading guilty to a felony can be perceived as anything but spin. I hope Mr. Vick has indeed found a moral guide, whomever that may be. But a suggestion to all those celebs who are seeking actual redemption and not just redemption in the public eye: keep it to yourself until we can see actions that show you really are practicing what He preached.