Thursday, May 16, 2013

Random Thoughts Blogging (Amy's Baking Co, Benghazi and More)

In the effort to unleash a few thoughts rattling through my head in the past few days, I thought it was high time to do a random thoughts post wherein I write about a few subjects instead my usual one long post.  So here goes:

Epic Internet Fail: In case you missed it, Amy's Baking Company had a few issues lately.  Hit the link and you will see what I can only call an epic public relations disaster.  After having Gordon Ramsey walk out on them during Kitchen Nightmares, the owners of said bakery went apparently went full-on crazy on their Facebook page, insulting customers and telling the kids at Reddit to bring it on.  I would link to one article, but honestly, the whole thing was crazy, and you can see the Google results for yourself. Now, the couple is saying they were hacked and did not go totally apeshit on their Facebook page.  I don't buy it, mostly because the couple has a history of going apeshit on Yelp reviewers who post bad reviews.

While this crazy episode continues, I should note that dealing with Yelpers through intimidation, or anger is definitely the wrong way to go.  A quick anecdote: about a year and a half ago, I had a cleaning service clean my apartment upon my moving out.  I found the service through Yelp, and it had 5 stars.  I paid $200 in cash to the service, and  received what I believed (and still believe) was substandard cleaning.  So, I wrote a review on Yelp detailing my issues with the company.  The head of the company responded by saying I was a liar, etc., and asked to "meet me in person."  This too was the wrong approach.  Instead, the right approach would have been to calmly explain his side of the story, and perhaps offer me a minor discount on a future cleaning.  Even if I didn't want the discount, other customers would see that he was reasonable.

Look, not everyone likes every product the same way.  We have different tastes in food, clothing, cars, etc.  That's why in a market economy there are different products to use.  So, not everyone will like your product, and some will express their opinion.  What the business owner has to do is make sure in that moment that he/she doesn't look like the asshole.

Benghazi: A few days ago, I tweeted that I didn't understand the whole hubbub about Benghazi.  Yes, there was an attack which killed four Americans.  The FBI investigated, and are still looking for the guys who did it.  Terrible stuff.  But I never understood the apparent "cover-up" involved with Benghazi.  I guess the argument was that the White House lied about the attacks immediately after the assault to make it seem less like a terrorist attack, and more like a spontaneous action.

Here's the problem with that argument: 1) a terrorist attack is an attack made on civilians to incite terror.  Attacking an embassy to damage American intelligence in the area is an act of war, not terrorism; 2) Nobody expects the first, second, or third reports out of any tragedy to be accurate, because nobody knows anything; 3) the thing worth covering up WAS THE ATTACK AND THE FOUR DEATHS, not whether the attack was "an act of terror" or a "terrorist act."  By the way, the recently released emails back up point number 2, as it indicates that the CIA, the Department of State and the White House were still trying to figure out what was going on.

The IRS Curfluffle: So, the IRS' Cincinnati office was targeting conservative and Tea Party groups in 2011.  The whole "scandal" reminds me of what a college professor once told us - the one thing that drives Presidents crazy is when a civil servant does something stupid that ends up biting the President in the ass.  This scandal is exactly that - these IRS employees are pretty far down on the totem pole - and the President can't fire them directly (normally a good thing, but a bad thing here).  The only guy he could fire, the Acting Director, actually was cleaning up the mess left by President Bush's appointee.  As I noted in a tweet that the U-T published (to my great ambivalence), this had the makings of a real scandal when the news first broke.  Now it doesn't.

Friday, May 10, 2013

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (San Diego Labor Council style)

For my friends in places other than San Diego, I am sad to say that I am writing again about the San Diego City Council District 4 Special Election.  Sorry.  I promise that I'll go back to writing about other topics soon - I have a few thoughts on Benghazi coming up - but with the election coming up, I thought I'd mention this article in the San Diego Union-Tribune. . . .yes, its owner does insist on people calling him Papa. . . .yes, its as creepy as it sounds. . . .and, yes, it does believe that Playboy naming its playmate of the year is "breaking news" - but that's besides the point.  What is interesting is who's spending what.

In this race there are essentially four major players - Myrtle Cole, Dwayne Crenshaw (my friend), the San Diego Labor Council (known locally as "Labor"for short), and the Tea Party/Downtown Special Interests types.  Cole and Dwayne are the candidates, and find themselves in the midst of what is essentially a proxy war between Labor and Downtown.  As I wrote in an earlier response to an article in Voice of San Diego,* Labor is trying to buy the election, and Downtown is trying to fuck with Labor because it can.

The fundraising numbers that came out today bear out a lot of what I have said.  Dwayne, who has a great deal of support in the District, doubled Cole's fundraising numbers.  This is despite the fact that Cole has the explicit backing of Labor, and of the entire Democratic Party establishment, from the mayor on down.

On the independent expenditure side, the Tea Party/Downtown establishment types have spent $60,000, more or less, on the race.  In the meanwhile, Labor has spent $200,000 so far.  Labor HAS SPENT $200,000 SO FAR.  In a voter universe of around 20,000 people.  Against a guy who the local liberal alternative weekly, San Diego City Beat, deems to be the true progressive in the race.  In other words, Labor has really fucked up here.

Let's take a look at what Labor had going for it going into this race shall we: (1) District 4 is, and has always been, a strong Democratic District; (2) With a few notable exceptions, the candidates were Democrats, and generally pro-Labor; (3) The two candidates in the run-off were definitely pro-Labor.
So, what if Labor had, after spending $70,000 to get Cole into the run-off, decided to back off the race, and let Cole and Crenshaw battle it out on their own? Their best case scenario would have been Cole winning, with their worst case scenario would be Dwayne winning - but since Labor backed off after the primary, he isn't pissed at Labor, and goes back to his natural constituency (progressive Democrats).  This race should have been the definition of a win-win.

But of course, Labor didn't do that.  Instead, it got rope-a-doped into believing that Downtown actually wanted Dwayne in office, and spent over $200,000.  Much of that spending has been on negative mailers. And some of which (as I noted in a previous post) attack Dwayne receiving money as a result of what appears to be a meritorious discrimination lawsuit, equating the lawsuit with "taking money from the community," and mocking what was one of Dwayne's most painful personal experiences.  Do you think that, post-election, Dwayne is going to be chummy with Labor?  Do you think that the San Diego LGBT community, which has seen one of its leaders ravaged unfairly, are going to be as supportive of Labor in the upcoming years?

So here we are.  Instead of having options, Labor is painted into a corner.  It has to, HAS TO, spend big to destroy Dwayne.  In the meantime, Labor is slowly poisoning its connections with the LGBT community.  Oh, and because Labor has relatively big pockets, and don't shift their money around like most PAC's, Dwayne wouldn't be entirely crazy to sue for defamation, especially given the conservative bent of the local judiciary.  This ramifications of this race could hang around Labor's neck for years.

Again, I can't stress enough how badly Labor has fucked up here.  They should never have been in this position. EVER.  And ultimately, that's the strangest part of this race.  I know the guys at the Labor Council. I've worked with some of them back in my political days.  Heck, one of the guys at the Labor Council was Dwayne's campaign manager not so long ago.  Labor's head, Lorena Gonzalez, who's now running for the State Assembly, is a goddamn political superstar who should be Speaker of the Assembly any day now.**  But this is just fucked up, and I have to think someone over at Labor has to wonder how they got here.

*Damn, I still need to give Voice of San Diego money.

**Lorena, if you're reading this, and I don't think you are, this is your floor.  Anything less would be a disappointment.