Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Yes, the Thought Police are After Librarians Again

One of my consistent favorite sources for stories everyone should know about but which get little or no play in the mainstream US media is a skinny little print newsletter called The Washington Spectator. Just four pages per issue, but tremendous content. It’s also available online.

The current issue features a horror story of some Connecticut librarians who received one of the dreaded “national security letters”–FBI fishing expeditions with no safeguards, and severe penalties if the recipients make these letters known. But these folks fought back, got the ACLU involved, and eventually–no thanks to the courts, not even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who turned down the request. In this situation, the FBI itself lifted its own gag order for reasons not made clear in the article.

I actually did know about this awful law, and I remember when librarians banded together to fight it, and were assured by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft that it wasn’t going to be used against librarians.

Well, that isn’t exactly how it turned out.

While two FBI agents waited in Christian’s office, he read a paragraph of his national security letter, which cited a statute and certified that the information the agent requested was “relevant to an authorized investigation against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, and that such an investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Christian had never heard of a national security letter. By his calendar the date was July 8; the letter was dated May 19. Almost a week had passed since the FBI had called his office. “This didn’t look like the FBI was in hot pursuit of anyone,” Christian said. The letter wasn’t addressed to him, but to the employee the FBI initially contacted. Its third paragraph prohibited the recipient from “disclosing to any person that the FBI has sought or obtained access or information to records under these provisions.”

“I told the agent I didn’t think the statute was constitutional,” he said. “And that I was going to discuss it with my attorney.”

Every freedom-loving American ought to be deeply concerned about the potential for abuses of power under this little-known provision of the Patriot Act. This is, after all, supposed to be a democracy.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Free BBC Reporter Alan Johnston

Kidnapped in Gaza. They’ve got a petition campaign and also this button:

Alan Johnston banner

No journalist should ever be kidnapped (nor anyone else, for that matter)–yet more and more of them face horrifying situations.

Fitrakis/Wasserman: Are Rove’s Missing E-Mails the Smoking Gun of the Stolen 2004 Election?

This article crossed my desk last night, from Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis–long-time crusaders in the quest for truth about what really happened in Ohio on Electin Night, 2004. It doesn’t seem to be on the Web yet so I’m posting the whole thing.

If this is true it would shatter any thin remaining claim of legitimacy that the Bush Administration might make (though to my mind, there has never been any legitimacy to this Administration, neither through its theft of the elections of 00 and 04 nor through its consistently illegal, arrogant and just plain idiotic behavior).

I have known about Harvey Wasserman since the 1970s, when he was active in the fight to prevent a nuclear power plant from going up in Montague, MA–for which I am extremely thankful, since I moved to that area in 1981 and still live within the “danger zone.” Later he did a spiffy little progressive-viewpoint book called Harvey Wasserman’s History of the United States.

The rest of this post is by Bob and Harvey:

Are Rove’s missing e-mails the smoking guns of the stolen 2004 election?

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

April 25, 2007

E-mails being sought from Karl Rove’s computers, and recent revelations about critical electronic conflicts of interest, may be the smoking guns of Ohio’s stolen 2004 election. A thorough recount of ballots and electronic files. preserved by a federal lawsuit, could tell the tale.

The major media has come to focus on a large batch of electronic communications which have disappeared from the server of the Republican National Committee, and from White House advisor Rove’s computers. The attention stems from the controversial firing of eight federal prosecutors by Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales.

But the time frame from which these e-mails are missing also includes a critical late night period after the presidential election of 2004. In these crucial hours, computerized vote tallies may have been shifted to move the Ohio vote count from John Kerry to George W. Bush, giving Bush the presidency.

Earlier that day, Rove and Bush flew into Columbus. Local election officials say they met with Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in Columbus. Also apparently in attendance was Matt Damschroder, executive director of the Franklin County (Columbus) Board of Elections.

These four men, along with Ohio GOP chair Bob Bennett, were at the core of a multi-pronged strategy that gave Bush Ohio’s twenty Electoral College votes, and thus the presidency. Bennett and Damschroder held key positions on election boards in the state’s two most populous counties, with the biggest inner city concentrations of Democratic voters.

There were four key phases to the GOP’s election theft strategy:

1. Prior to the election, the GOP focused on massive voter disenfranchisement, with a selective reduction of voter turnout in urban Democratic strongholds. Blackwell issued confusing and contradictory edicts on voter eligibility, registration requirements, and provisional ballots; on shifting precinct locations; on denial and misprinting of absentee ballots, and more. Among other things, election officials, including Bennett, stripped nearly 300,000 voters from registration rolls in heavily Democratic areas in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo.

2. On election day, the GOP focussed on voter intimidation, denial of voting rights to legally eligible ex-felons, denial of voting machines to inner city precincts, malfunctioning of those machines, destruction of provisional ballots and more.

In Franklin, Cuyahoga and other urban counties, huge lines left mostly African-American voters waiting in the rain for three hours and more. A Democratic Party survey shows more than 100,000 voters failed to vote due to these lines, which plagued heavily Democratic inner city precincts (but not Republican suburban ones) throughout the state. The survey shows another 50,000 ballots may have been discarded at the polling stations. In addition, to this day, more than 100,000 machine-rejected and provisional ballots remain uncounted. The official Bush margin of victory was less than 119,000 votes.

3. After the final tabulation of the votes, and the announcement that Bush had won, the GOP strategy focussed on subverting a statewide recount. A filing by the Green and Libertarian Parties required Ohio’s 88 county boards of election to conduct random precinct samplings, to be followed by recounts where necessary.

A lawsuit was filed to delay the seating of Ohio’s Electoral College delegation until after the recount was completed. Among other things, the plaintiffs sued to get access to Rove’s laptop. But Blackwell rushed to certify the delegation before a recount could be completed. The issue became moot, and the suit was dropped. In retaliation, Blackwell tried to impose legal sanctions on the attorneys who filed it.

But two felony convictions have thus far resulted from what prosecutors have called the “rigging” of the recount in Cuyahoga County (where Bennett has been forced to resign his chairmanship of the board of elections). More are likely to follow.

The practices that led to these convictions were apparently repeated in many of Ohio’s 88 counties. The order to violate the law—or at least tacit approval to do so—is almost certain to have come from Blackwell.

4. Ultimately, however, it is the GOP’s computerized control of the vote count that may have been decisive. And here is where Rove’s e-mails, and the wee hours of the morning after the election, are crucial.

Despite the massive disenfranchisement of Ohio Democrats, there is every indication John Kerry won Ohio 2004. Exit polls shown on national television at 12:20am gave Kerry a clear lead in Ohio, Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico. These “purple states” were Democratic blue late in the night, but, against virtually impossible odds, all turned Bush red by morning.

Along the way, Gahanna, Ohio’s “loaves & fishes” vote count, showed 4,258 ballots for Bush in a precinct where just 638 people voted. Voting machines in Youngstown and Columbus lit up for Bush when Kerry’s name was pushed. Rural Republican precincts registered more than 100% turnouts, while inner city Democratic ones went as low as 7%. Warren County declared a “Homeland Security” alert, removed the ballot count from public scrutiny, then recorded a huge, unlikely margin for Bush.

These and many more instances of irregularities and theft were reported at and then confirmed by U.S. Representative John Conyers and others who researched the election.

But the most critical reversals may have come as exit polls indicated that despite massive Democratic disenfranchisement, and even with preliminary vote count manipulations, Kerry would win Ohio by 4.2%, a margin well in excess of 200,000 votes.

The key to that reversal may be electronic. It has now become widely known that the same web-hosting firm that served a range of GOP websites, including the one for the Republican National Committee, also hosted the official site that Blackwell used to report the Ohio vote count.

This astonishing conflict of interest has been reported at the on-line investigative service. Cross-postings have come from luaptifer at Dailykos and blogger Joseph Cannon’s They all confirm that the RNC tech network’s hosting firm is, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. SMARTech hosts, and among other Republican web domains, in a bank basement.

Furthermore, the same hosting site that handled redirections from Blackwell’s “official” site also handled the White House e-mail accounts that have become central to investigations of the Gonzales purge of eight federal prosecutors, some of whom were themselves involved in vote fraud investigations.

Conflicts of interest in programming services and remote-access capability appear throughout the RNC’s computer networks, Rove’s secret White House e-mail, and the electronic vehicles used by Blackwell to finally reveal his “official” presidential vote counts for Ohio 2004.

One factor may be Ohio’s electronic touch-screen voting systems, on which were cast more than 800,000 votes in an election decided by about one-seventh that total. Such vulnerabilities, among other things, have been confirmed in exhaustive reports by Conyers’s Committee, by the Government Accountability Office, by the Carter-Baker Commission, by Princeton University, by the Brennan Center, and by others.

But overall, the electronic record of every vote in Ohio was transmitted to the Secretary of State’s office, and hosted in real time in Chattanooga. Under such circumstances, the joint hosting of the White House e-mail system and accessibility by Blackwell and Rove to the same computer networks linked to the Ohio vote count, takes on an added dimension.

Mike Connell, a Republican computer expert, helped create the software for both Ohio’s official 2004 election web site, and for the Bush campaign’s partisan web site during the 2000 election. The success of Connell’s GovTech Solutions has been attributed by Connell to his being “loyal to my network,” including the Bush family.

Blackwell shared those loyalties. Like Connell, he worked for the Bush-Cheney campaign, serving as its Ohio co-chair. He was also in control of the vote count that was being reported on software Bush loyalist Connell helped design.

It was in a crucial period after midnight on election night 2004 that these paired conflicts of interest may have decided the election. As exit polls showed a decisive Kerry victory, there was an unexplained 90-minute void in official reporting of results. By this time, most of the vote counts were coming in from rural areas, which are traditionally Republican, and which, ironically, usually report their results earlier than the Democratic urban areas.

In this time span, Kerry’s lead morphed into a GOP triumph. To explain this “miraculous” shift, Rove invented a myth of the greatest last-second voting surge in US history, allegedly coming from late-voting fundamentalist Republicans. No significant evidence exists to substantiate this claim. In fact, local news reports indicate the heaviest turnouts in most rural areas came early on election day, rather than later.

According to a January 13, 2005, release from Cedarville University, a small Ohio-based Christian academy, Connell’s GovTech Solutions helped make the shared server system run “like a champ…through the early morning hours as users from around the world looked to Ohio for their election results.”

After 2am, despite exit polls showing very much the opposite outcome, those results put Bush back in the White House.

In January, 2005, the U.S. Congress hosted the first challenge to a state’s Electoral College delegation in our nation’s history. At the time, the compromised security of the official Ohio electronic reporting systems was not public knowledge. But the first attempt to subpoena Karl Rove’s computer files had already failed.

Now a second attempt to gain such access is being mounted as the Gonzales scandal deepens.

Congressman Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) has raised “particular concerns about Karl Rove” and his electronic communications about the Gonzales firings.

Rove claims both his own computer records and the RNC’s servers have been purged of e-mails through the time the Ohio vote was being reversed. Rove’s attorney, Robert Kuskin, has told a Congressional inquiry that Rove mistakenly believed his messages to the RNC “were being archived” there.

But the RNC says it has no e-mail records for Rove before 2005. Rob Kelner, an RNC lawyer says efforts to recreate the lost records have had some success. But it’s not yet known whether communications from the 2004 election can be retrieved.

Nor is it known whether the joint access allowed to top GOP operatives Rove and Blackwell was responsible for the election-night reversal that put Bush back in the White House.

But there remains another avenue by which the real outcome of Ohio 2004 could be discovered. Longstanding federal law protected Ohio’s ballots and other election documentation prior to September 3, 2006. Blackwell gave clear orders that these crucial records were to be destroyed on that date.

Prior to the expiration of the federal statutory protection, a civil rights lawsuit was filed in the federal court of Judge Algernon Marbley, asking that the remaining records be preserved. The request was granted in what has become known as the King-Lincoln Bronzeville suit (co-author Bob Fitrakis is an attorney in the case, and Harvey Wasserman is a plaintiff).

Thus, by federal law, the actual ballots and electronic records should be available for the kind of exhaustive recount that was illegally denied—or “rigged,” as prosecutors in Cleveland have put it—by Blackwell, Bennett and their cohorts the first time around.

Ohio’s newly-elected Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, has agreed to take custody of these materials, and to bring them to a central repository, probably in Columbus.

This means that an exhaustive recount could show who really did win the presidential election of 2004.

It may also be possible to learn what roles—electronic or otherwise— Karl Rove and J. Kenneth Blackwell really did play during those crucial 90 minutes in the deep night, when the presidency somehow slipped from John Kerry to George W. Bush.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available at and, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, from the New Press. Fitrakis is publisher, and Wasserman is senior editor, of, where this article first appeared.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Forced Psych Disorder Discharges: Is THIS How the Military “Support Our Troops”? For Shame!

I don’t shock easily–but I am deeply shocked. I m outraged. I’m enraged. I’m bloody furious!

We hear all the time from the Bill O’Reillys, Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs of the country that any criticism of the Iraq “mission” is unpatriotic and goes against supporting our troops.

And then this–The Nation reports on numerous cases of soldiers injured in the war, pressured to accept a psychiatric discharge for a “pre-existing condition” that they never had, being told by their military doctors that this way they’ll get to keep their benefits and get a much quicker discharge–when in actuality these brave young men and women are hung out to dry, stripped of their medical benefits, and left holding the bill for any enlistment bonus they haven’t yet earned out.

This lowest of lowball tactics is saving the Veterans Administration millions of dollars–and is yet another betrayal of these many-times-betrayed soldiers.

Here’s a longish quote from the article:

He was standing in the doorway of his battalion’s headquarters when a

107-millimeter rocket struck two feet above his head. The impact punched a piano-sized hole in the concrete facade, sparked a huge fireball and tossed the 25-year-old Army specialist to the floor, where he lay blacked out among the rubble.

“The next thing I remember is waking up on the ground.” Men from his unit had gathered around his body and were screaming his name. “They started shaking me. But I was numb all over,” he says. “And it’s weird because… because for a few minutes you feel like you’re not really there. I could see them, but I couldn’t hear them. I couldn’t hear anything. I started shaking because I thought I was dead.”

Eventually the rocket shrapnel was removed from Town’s neck and his ears stopped leaking blood. But his hearing never really recovered, and in many ways, neither has his life. A soldier honored twelve times during his seven years in uniform, Town has spent the last three struggling with deafness, memory failure and depression. By September

2006 he and the Army agreed he was no longer combat-ready.

But instead of sending Town to a medical board and discharging him because of his injuries, doctors at Fort Carson, Colorado, did something strange: They claimed Town’s wounds were actually caused by a “personality disorder.” Town was then booted from the Army and told that under a personality disorder discharge, he would never receive disability or medical benefits.

Town is not alone. A six-month investigation has uncovered multiple cases in which soldiers wounded in Iraq are suspiciously diagnosed as having a personality disorder, then prevented from collecting benefits.

If it weren’t already obvious, this “treatment”–which ought to be the subject of immediate Congressional investigation AND ACTION is the very opposite of supporting the troops. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–the best support we can give our troops is to bring them home safely and SOON. To which I’ll add that bringing charges against the barbarians carrying out this deeply inhumane and vicious policy that victimizes the very people hurt in carrying out their orders is also a way of supporting the troops.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Earth to McConnell and Lieberman: Telling the Truth is NOT Dissing the Troops

In a rare act of almost blunt truth-telling–ok, so I’m being facetious–in a mouthful of weasely gobbdelygook–Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated the obvious:

“I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and — you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows — (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday,” Reid said Thursday.

Give me a break–is this the best the Democrats can do? How about some straightforward honest language like “We never should have been in this war in the first place and we’re losing. Time to get out–starting right now.”

Still, even mild-mannered Mr. Mealy Mouth was instantly attacked as unpatriotic. The same article reports this idiotic response from Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell:

I can’t begin to imagine how our troops in the field, who are risking their lives every day, are going to react when they get back to base and hear that the Democrat leader of the United States Senate has declared the war is lost.

And this from that darling of the neocons, the once-Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman:

This is exactly the wrong time to question our strategy in Iraq, or that our new strategy has failed.

All I can say to McConnell and Lieberman is to quote Ronald Reagan: “there you go again!” The insidious right-wing attack on the patriotism of anyone who questions this illegal, immoral, and incompetent war continues–and we on the left have the obligation to call the scoundrels on it. Last time I read the Constitution, that very freedom to dissent was a big part of what set the United States apart from other more repressive governments in the 18th century.

Oh, and Lieberman got one thing right: unquestionably, our Iraq strategy has failed.

If our troops (and I respect them enormously, even if I have zero respect for the mission they are forced to perform) are attempting to defend the idea of democracy, that idea starts with the freedom to dissent. And calling us unpatriotic will not get us to shut up.

$400 Haircuts: A Shopping Lesson for John Edwards

Hey, Senator Edwards, if you think a haircut should cost $400, I’d be glad to give you some shopping lessons. After all, I’ve written books and operated websites on frugality for years. I’ll even give you a copy of my e-book, The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant’s Pocketbook. It’s got a whole chapter on frugal shopping.

Not only did you pay $400 each for two Beverly Hills haircuts, but you got your campaign to pay for it! Guess which campaign I’m NOT contributing to?

And the funny thing is, you’ve got hair any barber could manage. If you looked like, say, Cher, there might be some justification for spending $100 (though not for getting the campaign to pick up the tab).

BTW, I go to stylist, not a barber, and I get great haircuts. I get them two or three times a year, and pay $20 or $22 (I forget). I’d be glad to introduce you to my hair guy. He’s even a Democrat.

Yes, it’s a legitimate campaign function to look properly groomed. But using other people’s money for a $400 haircut, twice, is shameful. Let the campaign pay the first $20 or $30 of each–and you should reimburse for the balance.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fedco Seeds Takes Moral High Ground Against Monsanto

Fedco, a cooperatively owned seed company–founded in Maine back in 1978 and specializing in serving organic growers–found itself facing an ethical dilemma when Monsanto, a company known for its experiments in genetic engineering and aggressive filing of intellectual property claims (criminalizing farmers for saving seed, even) announced it was going to buy its and best largest supplier, Seminis.

Noted for its aggressive advocacy of genetically modified crops and its dominance in biotechnology, Monsanto will now have a major presence in the vegetable seed business for the first time. No one knows if or when they will incorporate transgenes into their vegetable varieties.

The Monsanto buyout presented us with a serious ethical dilemma. In striving to carry the best possible varieties at reasonable prices, we have based our selections largely on the merits of the varieties, rarely on our supplier preferences. Could we be purveyors of Monsanto products and still sleep well at night? Many of our customers have depended upon Seminis’ good genetics. However much we may think we require these varieties in the short run, they come at a devastating social cost, ultimately the complete alienation of sower from seed.

Fedco explained a bit about Monsanto and asked its customers to choose among several options, ranging from coding the Monsanto products in its catalog to eliminating them entirely. The membership overwhelmingly voted for immediate withdrawal. So, before the merger was consummated, Fedco bought a year’s worth of Seminis seeds and announced that there wouldn’t be any more.

Will this cause a hardship? Yes. But the company has taken a principled position that I suspect will ultimately help–and the year of product it bought will buy time to experiment with different suppliers, different seed varieties.

The company’s statement on this is well worth reading. I hope to get permission to post the whole thing, but in the meanwhile, just follow the link.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Reframing HuffPost’s Terrible Advice to the Democrats

Doug Schoen writes in the usually sensible Huffington Post that the Democrats should roll over, as usual, and give GWB the blank check he’s looking for in Iraq: no limits on dollars or on deployment.

I think this an extremely wrong-headed and ill-advised idea–some of the worst advice I’ve heard anywhere in quite a while, in fact.

Here’s most of the public comment I made:

The Democrats need to hold fast, and to frame the dialogue thusly:

“We gave GWB a very reasonable bill that funds the war for the time being but begins a phased withdrawal. we are exercising our Constitutional authority as controller of the purse strings and a check on unbridled Presidential power. But Bush wanted a blank check, and that would be negligent–perhaps even criminally irresponsible. We do not want this crime on our hands, and we will not be a party to it. We absolutely refuse to abdicate our responsibilities by bringing forward any kind of blank check bill. Bush is the one who will not negotiate, and who is trying to usurp the power we were granted back in 1787″.

I’m using “framing” here as George Lakoff would use it: to wrap the debate around a construct that brings the public’s reference into focus–just as a black frame on a white wall allows the eye to differentiate elements in the white-background picture hanging within that frame.

The frame I’m proposing above is one that paints the Democrats as patriotic, as responsible–and GWB as overreaching his authority. This frame was not much in evidence in mainstream media during the run-up to the war, and if it had been, perhaps it would have slowed or stopped that unfortunate tide.

For far too long, the Democrats have allowed the right wing to create the frames. We have to take them back, and this is a great place to start.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Got My First Press Release as a Blogger

Found in email in my spamfilter this morning that said, in part,

You are part of a select group of blog owner/publishers that we are inviting

to take an early “sneak peek” at lyro. We see your blog as a major

delivery vehicle for news and information and hope you’ll have a

willingness to cover our launch (good or bad).

Well…that’s certainly flattering! I think that’s the first time I’ve received a press release because I’m a blogger. I receive plenty as a newsletter publisher, book reviewer, etc. It would be nice to think that people are actually reading what I write here.

Lyro turns out to be a database of business cards. It presents a rather rigid format, but by putting one URL in the company field and another in the URL field, and by using the address2 line to talk about what I do, I made it marginally more useful. Still, there’s a lot more I’d like to say. And I find it absurd that there’s no way yet to upload a photo so everyone will have the same blank silhouette in the photo field.

No line for e-address, but on a searchable Web-based database, that’s a good thing–spambots would otherwise make this site a nightmare instantly. And there *is* a message system (hope it’s better than the awful one at MySpace).

I figure, what the hey–it’s links to two of my sites, it’ll probably get some viral traffic, and it took about three minutes to fill out. As long as they’re not charging, I’ll give it a whirl.

You can see mine at

Oh, and what else would I have put on the card?

My two or three most recent book titles (Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishersand Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World) as well as more of my nine URLs.

Is this Absurd? $1.25 Million for the Bio of a Library Cat?

I kid you not–here’s the NY Times article.

Much as the cat may have been darling, and much as its authors ight do a great job, I find this absurd. And yet another indicator of the dumbing down of the American public via the media that controls what we see and read (except for those adventurous enough to seek their own sources).

Where are the big advances for books that shape how we actually think and act? that give us a lens to understand some of the craziness in the world.

OK, I like sweet stories about cats and might actually read this book (in a library copy) at some point. It’s not a book I expect I’ll need to own. But good heavens, most books that could change the culture receive paltry advances and paltry publicity, if they sell at all.

If this were now instead of then, would books like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “Silent Spring”, or “Unsafe at Any Speed”–three among dozens of books that actually changed the world–have even been published, or found any significant audience if they had?

I hope one day to see my own Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First in someone’s list of books that changed the world. I didn’t even try for a mainstream publisher, figuring I’d go create an audience and then sell rights to a second edition.

But seriously, isn’t a book about how we got into the Iraq mess and are heading for trouble in Iran (not the subject of my book but of several recent ones) worth more attention than a book abut a cat? Or for that matter, the sordid and tawdry life of Anna Nicole Smith?

Priorities! As a society–we need to look at ours..

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Intersting Argument for Eliminating Copy Protection

I’m quoting a short bit from Adam Sutton’s article in Mequoda Daily, an often-provocative marketing newsletter emphasizing fairly advanced concepts and products. I have felt this for many years but they articulate it so smoothly and well:

Supporters are law-abiding citizens that pay for products because

they love the company and want it to prosper.

Samplers get free products from Supporters or other Samplers. They

do not immediately buy a product, because they are unsure of the

product’s worth or do not have enough money. Samplers typically get a

free product, and if they like it, pay for others when cash is


Thieves will happily pirate products and break DRM systems forever.

They consciously never pay for products and have no desire to support

artists. This group is best ignored because their will to circumvent

DRM–or any copyright protection–is unbreakable.

If you’re a Sampler who found this worth while, the link above to the full article presents the option to subscribe, no charge.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Mainstream Media Ignores Wal-Mart’s Vast Spy Scandal

You might have missed this story in the mainstream news; on the first two pages of Google results for Wal-Mart spy, AOL, MSN, and CNN were the only U.S. mainstream sources listed; they picked up the story from the Reuters wire, which means it was accessible to every news outlet in the world.

You can read the original WSJ piece, as reproduced on MSN, here.

But most of the returns were from places like Huffington Post,, and–the “usual suspects” on the Left.

Nothing wrong with those news sources; after all, I found the story by listening to Democracy Now yesterday. And DN’s interviewee was one of two Wall Street Journal reporters who broke the story, so this one actually started in the mainstream media.

Personally, I think that when the world’s largest retailer, a force considerably larger and more powerful than many national governments, illegally wiretaps phone calls with a New York Times reporter, intercepts employee e-mail sent over networks other than its own corporate system and records their correspondents’ addresses (e.g., Hotmail and Yahoo), infiltrates opposition grassroots groups, digs up a private unlinked archive of an activist’s vacation photos in order to identify him if he tries to go to a shareholder meeting–the list of shockingly inappropriate activities goes on and on–it should be a huge story in every print and electronic medium that calls itself a news organization–and government agencies should be investigating NOW.

I even searched the New York Times site to see if that august paper had deemed that such a story–its own reporter’s telephone was tapped when he called the company–was worth a line or two in print. But a search for wal-mart spy and another for wal-mart spying brought up nothing relevant or recent (this story began to reveal itself within the last few weeks, with the most important revelations coming just this week).

Oh yes, and Wal-Mart’s wimpy statement about future behavior:

This group [the spy unit] is no longer operating in the same manner that it did prior to the discovery of the unauthorized recording of telephone conversations.

Not “we have disbanded this group.” Not “we shouldn’t have spied on people.” Just a statement that the group is reorganized (the whole letter is included in the DN article). For shame!

But don’t you think when a story like this breaks across a major newswire and originates from one of the most respected media in the world, that other media would sit up and take notice? Papers in Taiwan and Belfast thought so, but not most of the US press.

Shame on Wal-Mart, yes–but shame as well on the major media outlets who ignored this story.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Great Article by Michel Fortin on Creating Memorable Names

He touches on three of the eight crucial factors in choosing a name for a product or business, and focuses particularly on creating a name that people will remember easily–with lots of examples from the corporate successes, as well as the story of how he transformed his own business identity.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Have I Found the Bush-Cheney-Fox News Playbook?

I always thought they were using Orwell’s “1984,” since it’s so much easier to read than Machiavelli’s “The Prince” or even Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” But here’s a disinformation primer so digestible that it wouldn’t tax the brain of His Imperial Delusional Majesty.

It’s on the right hand side of this page.

Here are the first five. In the original page, if you click on the little number at the beginning of each in the list, you get a detailed explanation.

1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

2. Become incredulous and indignant

3. Create rumor mongers

4. Use a straw man

5. Sidetrack opponents w name calling, ridicule

Sound familiar?

My thanks to my friend and colleague Mark Joyner, who quoted this list in his remarkable new book, Simpleology.

Even “Marketing Gurus” Can Be Dumb Sometimes–Look What I Did

In which Shel gets to laugh at himself. I’ve written five books on marketing, and I make my living as a marketing copywriter and consultant. So of course I posted to my blog in advance of my book signing last week for the launch of my just-released Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers.

Except that I never realized I clicked on “save” instead of post. So the event came and went, and there was my nice little announcement still waiting for me to release it to the world. I just noticed it today under saved drafts.

Duh! (Sound of hand slapping forehead).

Oh well–there’s always New York in May. I’m trying to work out an event at Book Expo America, and hopefully I’ll hit the correct button when I have the details.

PS–Am I really a marketing guru? See what other gurus think about my services and about my award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First.