Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for August 2010


  • Bimbo
  • August 1, 2010
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image d

What a target-rich environment! We have BIMBO comments from the White House spokesman, Whoopi Goldberg, NBA commissioner Stern, The Rev. Jesse Jackson and a school district. This month it seems as if Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., have the same adviser. Vice President Biden falls into saying the wrong thing as does Real Housewives star Kelly Bensimon, Turkey’s Minister for European Affairs and several lawyers who should know better. Return guests to the memo include BP, Sarah Palin, Lindsay Lohan (so sad) and Tiger Woods. You’ll also see Oliver Stone, Coach Nick Saban, a SocGen trader and a Pentagon memo. Secretary Vilsack is recognized as our “Apology of the Month” example. We have good examples from (hold your hat) Daily Kos founder Moulitsas, the Atlanta Braves and Yahoo. Dubai goes Dallas, and Maritz Research publishes a sobering study for executives to ponder.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“New Jersey Doesn’t Stink” is the state’s campaign slogan to fight back against stereotypes like MTV’s popular “Jersey Shore.” (We applaud Gerry Wilson, CEO of High Point Insurance and the founder and sponsor of the idea, for trying to show people that New Jersey is – in the words of their website, “a beautiful melting pot state with mountain scenery, tourist attractions from the Atlantic City boardwalk to colonial Princeton.” However, they’ve put billboards up in the state. Surely, they should be putting them up in neighboring or other states? And the campaign has spawned parody, with one columnist suggesting the slogan, “New Jersey: We’re FBI Friendly.” Our bottom line assessment? Great way to get attention, but we wonder if the positive message will get through.)

The Washington Times, “New Jersey Doesn’t Stink: State out to deodorize Garden State image,” June, 28, 2010

THE RUNNERS-UP

“We are not saying we know cell phones cause cancer,” is again the cry of the Environmental Working Group that has managed to get San Francisco to pass a requirement that stores selling cell phones post warnings. The “Cell Phone right-to-know ordinance,” was passed 10-1.  (While it’s certainly true that prolonged cell phone use is a recent development, we doubt that the San Francisco City Council is equipped to set the standards for what’s called specific absorption rate or SAR that involves watts per kilogram of body weight and is set by the FCC. This is also an example of why businesses and industries need to rev up their speakers’ bureaus and get out and engage the public. One person, a woman whose husband has a brain tumor she is absolutely sure was caused by cell phone use, has made this a crusade. She has teamed with far-left EWG, which is introducing similar resolutions in other cities. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said he’ll introduce a bill in Congress.)

Bloomberg Business Week, “A Health Warning for a Wireless Age” July 12, 2010

“Rangel did not dispense any political favors, that he did not intentionally violate any law, rule or regulation, and that he did not misuse his public office for private gain,” was the statement issued by Rep. Charlie Rangel’s office, D-N.Y., after the House investigative panel formally charged the 20 term congressman, who was head of the House Appropriations Committee which writes the nation’s tax laws, with 13 ethics violations. (Subsequent news reports indicated that Rangel had turned down a deal that required that he admit committing the violations, some of which could rise to a felony, and accept a “reprimand.” We predict the word “reprimand,” if that’s all the congressman gets, will figure prominently in the fall elections. Some of the most serious allegations involve non-payment of taxes.)

USAToday, “Rangel faces 13 ethics charges,” July 30, 2010

“This is not ‘flip a coin and randomly choose an option,’”  said White House economist Jared Bernstein, author of the stimulus, reacting to criticism of President Obama’s appearance at an electric battery plant in Michigan, which was partly funded by stimulus funds. (It is, however, a policy of D.C.-based folks picking which industries they want to back. An expert noted that the capacity to produce advanced automotive batteries just from stimulus funded U.S. plants will be three times greater than global demand in the next few years. “Build it and they will come” may have made a great movie, but it’s a risky industrial policy. It also turned out the plant was owned by a South Korean company.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Plant Opening Reignites Industrial-Policy Row,” July 16, 2010

“I know Mel, and I know he’s not a racist,” said Whoopi Goldberg as the controversy that he punched his girlfriend continues. (This is a sorry episode. The actor is heard apparently acknowledging that he hit the mother of his 8-month-old daughter while holding her, using the ‘n’ word and telling her it would be her fault if she were raped because she dressed provocatively. A Gibson spokesperson could only say, “They got into it, but he absolutely did not injure her.” He’s another celebrity who needs to associate with a higher caliber of lady, refrain from alcohol and remember that everyone records everything today.)

US Magazine, “Whoopi Goldberg: ‘Mel Gibson is not a racist,’” July 13, 2010

“This is not tampering or collusion that is prohibited,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern during the controversy over how superstar LeBron James announced his departure from the Cavaliers and his move to Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. (Much has been written about ESPN’s hour-long edutainment feature where James announced his move. For us, it only confirms that news merged with entertainment a long time ago. The Rev. Jesse Jackson saw an opportunity for publicity and weighed in criticizing Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert who fired off an ill-conceived comment about James’ departure after Cleveland fans had mobilized to urge him to stay. Jackson said, “He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave.” Appalling to say the least. This isn’t a case of what he “should have said,” it’s a case of where he shouldn’t have said anything.)

USAToday, “Irked Stern fines Cavs Owner $100K,” July 13, 2010

“I don’t believe we’re going to get first-graders asking for a condom,”  said Pete Grosso, chairman of a council committee in Provincetown, Mass., which backed the school district’s announced policy that it would give all students access to free condoms regardless of age without parental notification. (Another casualty for common sense. Grosso defended the policy saying that school officials can’t know when students are starting to have sex. The resulting outcry sent the committee back to the drawing board. While we certainly know the facts of life, it’s strange that a parent has to give permission for a teenager to have his or her ears pierced, but can be shut out of the discussion and a decision about sex.)

Washington Times, “Too much even for Massachusetts? Town backpedals on condom plan,” July 5, 2010

“I have to tell you, this is not dead,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., about the prospects for a climate change bill. (Sen. Kerry explained that after the November elections, Democrats might feel “liberated” and vote for a broad, comprehensive bill that would tax carbon emissions and create a market where companies would sell, and presumably buy, credits. Our concern is that he may be correct. Sen. Kerry also made the news during the month because his $7 million “yacht” – a term made infamous by BP CEO Tony Hayward – was located in Rhode Island. If the yacht was located in Massachusetts, he owed $500,000 in taxes. When the Rhode Island location was known, Sen. Kerry announced he would pay the tax, “whether owed or not,” adding “Legally, I’m not compelled.” Looks like Sen. Kerry has the same adviser as Rep. Rangel. In fairness to Sen. Kerry, he did say that he intended to pay the tax.)

The Hill, “Kerry eyes lame duck climate fight,” July 23, 2010

“It is not a racist organization,” Vice President Joe Biden said about the Tea Party movement. (This took place during the dust-up with the head of the NAACP basically saying that Tea Parties were heavily defined by racist elements. For us, the best article on the Tea Parties is the Weekly Standard’s June 28 cover story, “The Two Faces of the Tea Party,” by Matthew Continetti. Of course, by framing the “not a racist” comment, the vice president kept the argument alive.)

The Associate Press, “Tea party not a racist movement, Biden says,” July 19, 2010

Following a report that she behaved beyond badly on the island of St. John, “Real Housewives of New York” star, Kelly Bensimon, said, “I am not crazy.” (Stars misbehave all the time. We’re more uncertain about her advice to her young daughters, “Your mom gets paid to engage in inappropriate behavior.” She justifies this as illustrating that “being mean is not OK.” But we’re not sure that young children are going to pick up the nuance. Better if she had said, “I’m a character, like Lady Macbeth. It’s a privilege to play her. She did awful things, but that’s the character, not the actress.” Of course, too many reality show stars today are – well, just being themselves.)

Harpers Bazaar, “Exclusive: Kelly Bensimon: ‘I’m not crazy, not in therapy,” July 13, 2010

“That’s not his task, and that’s not the task of NASA,” said White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, disavowing the claim from NASA administrator Charles Bolden that one of the Obama Administration’s top priorities for the space agency was to “find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more dominantly with Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.” (Is it just us or is there one tone-deaf comment after another coming out of Washington? NASA has enough controversial policy debates underway. We’d like to know who wrote the talking points, or if administrator Bolden had a brain freeze moment.)

Reuters, “White House corrects NASA’s Muslim comment,” July 12, 2010

“We have no hidden agenda,” said Turkey’s minister for European Affairs, Egemen Bagris, as news reports linked the Turkish “charity” that sponsored the flotilla challenging Israel’s blockade of Gaza with the ruling Turkish party. “The I.H.H. (the charity) has nothing to do with the AK Party,” he said. (We include this to demonstrate that the tendency to repeat and deny negatives is a global phenomenon. The reaction to denials is the same around the world. There is too much protesting.)

The New York Times, “Sponsor of Flotilla Tied to Elite of Turkey: officials say Party Backed Gaza Trip,”

July 16, 2010

“I wouldn’t say that the judges are biased toward workers,” says Yasmnine Tarasewicz, a Paris lawyer who actually represents employers. A French labor tribunal ruled that contestants on the French version of “Temptation Island” were entitled to overtime and benefits.  (We can’t say if the “Temptation Island” couples were overworked, but it’s a cautionary article for people who want to turn the U.S. into Europe. Tarasewicz said that French labor laws are so complex that employers trip over technicalities. The conseils de prud’hommes rule against the employer in most cases. Joel Grange, another lawyer, points out that inflexible labor arrangements make companies reluctant to hire.)

Bloomberg Business Week, “France’s Guardian of Aggrieved Workers,” July 12, 2010

“My client never admitted to smoking marijuana that night. He admitted to smoking cigarettes,” said Tennessee Titans’ backup quarterback Chris Simms’ lawyer, Nathan Semmel. Simms was stopped by police and told them he had been smoking marijuana earlier. (“There’s nothing in his record, whatsoever, that suggests he would be that reckless,” Semmel said. This is another reminder for lawyers that repeating and denying a negative, especially if it’s caught on the squad car’s video, hurts credibility. He should have said, “Chris understands the requirements of leadership and looks forward to clearing this up as quickly as possible.”)

The Associated Press, “Titans’ Simms arrested in NYC for driving while stoned,” July 1, 2010

THE WRONG THING TO SAY

“A sex obsessed, tax cheating boor,” was how lawyers for David Brooks, CEO of a company making body armor for the U.S. military, characterized “irrelevant evidence” in a trial where Brooks was accused of using taxpayer funds for a variety of personal expenses including a $100,000 belt buckle. “The accumulation of titillating and scandalous evidence has become a centerpiece of the trial and has incurably prejudiced the jury,” wrote the lawyers. The same lawyers defended Brooks’ hiring of prostitutes for employees and board members as a legitimate business expense, saying the cost was legitimate “if Mr. Brooks thought such services could motivate his employees and make them more productive.” (We’re pretty sure that Bryan Garner, president of LawProse and author of many books on how to write legal briefs, would not approve. The article does not record the judge’s reaction to the lawyers’ argument. Brooks sold his stock in 2004 when the share price was $20. It fell to $2 a year later when the company admitted to accounting fraud.)

The New York Times, “At Military Contractor’s Trial: Telltale $100,000 Belt Buckle,” July 27, 2010

Lindsay Lohan showed up – finally – for a court hearing with “F—U” on the middle fingernail of her left hand. Her latest claim is that “the judge hates me.” (This is so sad. The immensely talented teenager has turned into a self-centered party girl who abuses alcohol and makes all kinds of excuses. The only winners are the entertainment magazines.)

People.com, “Lindsay Lohan: My F-Word Manicure Was Only a Joke,” July 7, 2010

 “Why the f---- did you do that?” said Tiger Woods, ostensibly to himself at the British Open after missing a put. (Surely Tiger knows that the microphones will pick up even words whispered to one’s self, and that the camera is always on with a legion of lip readers standing ready. As we recall, it was the actual act of the word that got him in a lot of trouble last year. And, to our knowledge, he still has the same group of enablers around him. Tiger – start learning to say “Jiminy Cricket!”)

US Weekly, “Tiger Woods Drops F-Bombs on Live TV,” July 18, 2010

“Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than to the Jewish people, 25 or 30 [million killed]” said Oliver Stone, noting that the reason we don’t hear more about that is due to the “Jewish domination of the media. There’s a major lobby in the United States” (Following an international outcry, Stone apologized, first using the tentative “he was sorry anyone took offense,” and then more directly. The Anti-Defamation League accepted his apology. The real question is why would any reputable network hire Stone to do a historical documentary?)

The Sunday Times, “Oliver Stone: Hitler An Easy Scapegoat” July 25, 2010

“BP digitally alters press photo, confesses it’s a fake: Amateurish use of Photoshop causes yet another BP embarrassment.” (The headline says it all. Poor BP. What else can go so wrong? Note that it was a blogger who spotted the Photoshop work. This is a lesson of how everything will be scrutinized in a high-profile event, and how a story will migrate from the blogs to the mainstream press.)

MSNBC, “BP digitally alters press photo, confesses it’s a fake: Amateurish use of Photoshop causes yet another BP embarrassment” July 20, 2010

Sarah Palin used “refudiate” twice on Fox’s “Hannity” and in a Tweet about the proposed mosque at Ground Zero. (While we admire Palin’s feistiness, we don’t think her attempt at humor made it. She tweeted, “’Refudiate’. ‘Misunderestimate.’ ‘Wee-weed up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!” But we all make mistakes.)

The Herald Sun, “Sarah Palin creates word controversy, compares herself to Shakespeare,” July 19, 2010

Nick Popaditch, a retired Gunnery Sergeant wounded in Fallujah and a recipient of a Silver Star, is running for Congress in California. He wears an eye patch because of a war wound. A political cartoon makes fun of him as a ‘pirate’ or a ‘James Bond super villain.’ (The Imperial Valley Press should be ashamed of themselves.)

Blackfive.net, “When the media attacks a veteran’s wounds,” July 12, 2010

Lady Gaga says the biggest misconception about her is, “That I am artificial and attention–seeking.”

Dallas Morning News, “Lady Gaga, in our own words,” July 21, 2010

POWER OF A WORD

“Agents who do this, I hate to say it, but how are they any better than a pimp?” said Alabama football coach Nick Saban about the news that some college players had relationships with rule-breaking agents. (We agree with Coach Saban.)

USAToday, “Saban; Exploitive agents must pay price,” July 22, 2010

“Moronic,” was the word SocGen trader Jerome Kerviel used to describe his actions that ended up with $61 billion of unhedged market positions which led to a $6 billion loss. (“Moronic” seems a fairly modest description of the act. Kerviel also made the point that his superiors were aware of his actions and looked the other way. One thing we haven’t heard from Kerviel or his supervisors is “I’m sorry.” Notice that the negative word makes it into the headline.)

Bloomberg Business Week, “Kerviel Says He Was ‘Moronic’ and Innocent,” July 4, 2010

In the wake of Stanley McChyrstal’s immolation with Rolling Stone Magazine, the Pentagon issued a memo about “Interaction with the Media” but it’s not a veto. (Of course, it’s a veto.)

NBC, “Pentagon tightens media controls,” July 6, 2010

APOLOGY OF THE MONTH

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack ate crow over the flap about the video of Shirley Sherrod’s speech to the NAACP. (We thought he looked credible, and we really felt for him. The one sour note was his claim that the White House hadn’t influenced his decision or comments. That isn’t credible, and it wasn’t necessary. All he had to say was, “We had a candid discussion and I thought I was the right person to make this apology.”)
MSNBC, “Vilsack apologizes, offers ousted official new job,” July 21, 2010

DOUBLESPEAK MENTION OF THE MONTH

Boeing’s Stephen Oswald described the problems of the $1.1 billion “virtual fence” on the border as a “nontrivial systems-integration problem,” The translation: “It’s not working.” (Apparently the efforts have failed to secure the 53 miles of border the fence covers. A good analogy was offered by Mark Borkowski, executive director of the Secure Border Initiative (SBI), who explained, “Have you ever bought a printer that didn’t connect to your computer the way it’s supposed to?” And while that paints a good picture, it’s still not reassuring.)

The Washington Times, “Official concedes ‘virtual’ border fence has been a failure,” July 5, 2010

GOOD EXAMPLES

Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas retracted polls which were found to be faulty. He gets high marks for responding quickly, being straightforward, and explaining that he found out on Friday but released it Monday so he would not be accused of trying to bury bad news. Although it was undoubtedly embarrassing to Mr. Moulitsas, he enhanced his credibility.

The Washington Times, “Kos and Effect,” July 5, 2010

Take note of the terrific use of Twitter by the Atlanta Braves! Their organist, Matthew Kaminski, invents musical cues to announce Braves players and the opposing players. Kaminski has built a following around the country, including many new fans who tweet him suggestions during a game. This is a great example of using new media to enhance a traditional game – and innovating along the way!

NPR, “Baseball Organist Keeps Tradition Alive,” July 10, 2010

Yahoo has a new ethics initiative. “We wanted to use the animation and interactive technologies to get the employees in, catch their attention and make it a fun experience,” said David Farrell, Yahoo’s chief compliance officer. (Yay! We totally agree that the more a company makes something “fun,” the more engaged employees will be and the higher the buy-in.)

Workforce Management, “Yahoo takes new ‘road’ on ethics training,” July 2010

If imitation is the highest form of flattery…we’re all invited to the “Oil Baron’s Ball” in Dubai. (If you’re not in Dallas, you may not have caught this – Dallas invented the Cattle Baron’s Ball!)

Maritz Research has published a disturbing report about trust in the workplace, and found “There’s a trust deficit in the American workplace.”  It’s a “must read” for business leaders who may think that employees are so glad to have a job that they’ll be filled with gratitude toward their corporate leaders. The study finds that only 11 percent of employees “strongly agree” that their managers show consistency between words and actions. This is important to us because it touches the area of “alignment,” which brought companies like UBS and BP big problems. They have wonderful ads, great marketing material, but the material is disconnected from the actual corporate culture. Only seven percent of employees trust their leaders or coworkers to look out for their best interest.

Human Resource Executive, “No Trust,” June 2010 


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