Oct 13

Ridemakerz Makerz Me Happy

20141013_150604I’ve been known to (ab)use my social media platform to shine a spotlight on especially miserable customer service I’ve received. Today I’m happy to do the opposite and give some kudos for a truly exceptional experience.

Ridemakerz is a fun place where kids can build a car themselves, starting by picking a body and then wheels, rims, accessories, stickers and putting it all together. If you know ‘Build-a-Bear’ – same deal, but with cars instead of teddy bears.

Yesterday, my twins attended a birthday party at the Downtown Disney location and had a great time. Ryan did a Batmobile with add-on police lights; Dylan chose a Spiderman racer with working “web shooters”. All was joyous, until we got home and found that Dad and Mom had misplaced one of the “web” missiles. Much misery ensued as poor Dylan was crushed that his perfect car was no longer complete.

Seeking a replacement, this morning I checked for locations closer to me than Disney; besides the distance, that isn’t a place one gets in and out of casually. (One does not simply walk into Downtown Disney). No luck on store locations, but I noticed that Ridemakerz seemed to have an office location near my own office in Irvine. So, I did what any normal person would do: I emailed their CEO, Norman Pozez, and asked (begged) if there was any chance I could get my missing missile from that office.

A few hours later, I got an email response from Matt Elhadad, VP of Retail Operations. No, I couldn’t pick the part up in Irvine; the office actually moved to Anaheim closer to Disney. But they’d be glad to bring the part to me at my office!

And so Customer Service Manager Kim Nunley coordinated with me and soon enough, I was shaking her hand in my building lobby and receiving a new complete web-shooter kit. I offered to pay for it but she said of course not.

I can’t wait to get home tonight and be Hero Dad when I deliver the magic missing missile. And the thanks goes to the good folks at Ridemakerz. Sure, not every customer is going to happen to be within a few miles of their office so they can offer to drive stuff over (and I hope this post gets them plenty of positive attention, but doesn’t swamp them with delivery requests :-) ).  But I know plenty of organizations that in the same situation wouldn’t bother to help. As a Dad, I’m grateful, and as a professional, I’m impressed that they had the wisdom to see an opportunity to delight a customer and make a friend for life — and had the organizational nimbleness to execute on it.

Great job folks; I know I’ll be thinking of Ridemakerz for events and in general going forward…

spiderman_car

 

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Memorial Day Links: Support Veterans & Their Families

Quote

On this Memorial Day, take a few moments and give support to one of the many organizations that support our veterans, those serving, and their families. Listed below you’ll find many to choose from.

I have had the privilege of knowing and working with some of the fine men and women who have served in our military, and all the organizations I am highlighting came from their recommendations.

And yes, I know the difference between Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. But the best way to honor those who have fallen is to take care of those who returned, are still serving, and their families.

Semper Fi Fund (@SemperFiFund)
“The Semper Fi Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and its program America’s Fund, are set up to provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support for wounded, critically-ill and injured members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Since establishing the Semper Fi Fund in 2004, we’ve issued more than 71,500 grants, totaling close to $91 million in assistance to over 11,500 of our heroes and their families.”

Special Operations Warrior Foundation (@SOFWarriorFnd)
“The Special Operations Warrior Foundation is a top-rated nonprofit organization that supports the military’s special operations forces and their families through three programs:

  • College Scholarships for the surviving children of fallen Special Operations Forces
  • Family Services, including educational & family counseling and advocacy support
  • Wounded Special Operations Forces Support, including immediate financial stipends of $3,000″

Green Beret Foundation (@GreenBeretFound)
“The Green Beret Foundation provides unconventional resources to facilitate the special needs of our wounded, ill and injured and imparts unique support to the Special Forces community in order to strengthen readiness and uphold Green Beret traditions and values.”

Special Forces Scholarship Foundation
“The Special Forces Scholarship Fund (SFSF), is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. The purpose of SFSF is to award merit based post secondary educational scholarships to the Daughters and Sons of current and veteran Special Forces Soldiers.”

Fisher House (@FisherHouseFdtn)
“Fisher Houses provide military families housing close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.”

America’s Fund (@americasfund)
“America’s Fund is a program created to direct urgently needed resources and financial support to injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.”

Soldiers’ Angels (@soldiersangels)
“Soldiers’ Angels provides aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and their families and to improve the lives of a growing veteran population.”

Tunnel to Towers (@Tunnel2Towers)
“The mission of our Foundation is to honor the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller who laid down his life to save others on September 11, 2001. We also honor our military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country.”

Hope for the Warriors (@Hope4Warriors)
“The mission of Hope for the Warriors is to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty. Hope For The Warriors® is dedicated to restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit, and restoring hope for our service members and our military families.”

 

 

 

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Apr 20

New Dell Support Policy: Hang Up On Customers Who Ask to Talk To Your Supervisor

Rob's "refurbished" Dell

Feb 2011 - Apr 2011, RIP

Oh, Dell. I thought since Jeff kicked you around the block way-back-when, you had learned your lesson. I thought you had changed. But here you go, breaking my heart again.

I won’t bore our readers with the full saga. But the sketch, for those joining our drama late: after our long talks about my lemon of a XPS 1330, you finally agreed to send me a “refurbished” XPS 15 just a few months ago. It had trouble from day one, which your phone support suggested was likely faulty memory. Weirdly, with 15 month old boys and a business to run, I was a little busy and didn’t have time to lose with another round of let’s-try-to-fix-it, so I lived with it. Until this weekend: when the XPS 15′s hard drive hard crashed, and took some of my data with it.

So yesterday, I had a nice talk with one of your folks, which took about an hour, at the end of which I was promised a response in 24-48 hrs about receiving another replacement system, and an email documenting the call.

Didn’t get the email: first bad sign.

Today, I call, and tech number 1 can’t find any record of yesterday’s call. Fast forward fifty minutes of my life I won’t get back, and at long last I get to His Manager. I explain my frustration with the lost call, and then the fundamental root issue I was calling about. To which he says “I don’t buy it.”

That’s a direct quote. Sorta-kinda journalist, you know, I pay attention to such things.

Excuse me, I said? Did you just say you don’t buy my explanation? As in, like, um, you’re saying I’m lying?

Stammering.

“I’d like to speak with your supervisor, please” I said. And then… the line went dead.

Yup: His Manager-ness decided to hang up on the (justifiably) irate (but polite) customer rather than have his boss hear about how he called said customer a liar.

As the wise fellow said in that Indiana Jones movie: “He choose… poorly.”

So the good news for me is I’ve got a backup computer, and I’ve got Twitter, a blog, Facebook, and now… motivation. But Dell: none of this, I’m afraid, is good news for you, sweetie.

As a social media guy, I of course know Dell’s history with Mr. Jarvis and I hear tell they’re a bit more on the ball about such things these days. This won’t exactly be a hard test, but let’s give it a go, shall we? When someone from Dell who can be civil and won’t hang up on me would like to talk about the Dead Parrot system above (service tag 8L0B6P1), drop me a line at rob – at – neppell – dot – org.

Clock starts now. Ready, set: go.

Update 6:45pm: Manager called back, claimed telecom difficulties. I almost believe him, but that’s got to be the most coincidental phone outage I’ve ever encountered (happening, as it did, right after I challenged him for not believing me and immediately after I spoke the words “I’d like to speak to your supervisor”.) I emphasized my desire to have a resolution (i.e. commitment for replacement / refund, particularly given that’s what I was told was being worked yesterday morning) this evening, but he indicated that such an escalation simply couldn’t happen at this time; end of shift and all that. This means one of two things: he was BS’ing (which is not good for Dell), or he was telling the truth (which is not good for Dell — seriously? No Way At All to get a decision made right now for a single measly laptop? Heckofa way to run a railroad). Tune in tomorrow for our continuing saga…

Update 7:13 pm: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Now, Dell, hon: Glenn has gone and made this game hardly much of a challenge at all (thanks, Glenn!). This would be the social media equivalent of tossing aside the flare gun as an inadequate signal for help and lighting the entire forest on fire instead. You should more or less be able to see this particular pebble rippling across social media from orbit at this point. So my now-best-buddy manager that I spoke to a few minutes ago is on the case, and indicated he’s attempting to get the “highest escalation authority” involved. Anybody want to give him a hand and move this ball along a little faster so we can all move on with our lives ?

Update 9:00 pm: So this has become, obviously, about more than a laptop. It’s about how companies interact with their customers in a social media world, and that happens to actually be my business. So the intriguing thing about this incident to me is that in five years or so as a social media “professional” and a bunch before that as an enthusiastic amateur, this is really the first real world example that’s smacked me in the face personally that I could observe and comment on directly.

So, then: this is no longer just a customer support issue. It’s a tutorial! Class is in session, folks, so let’s talk about what should be happening around Dell right about now.

First, let’s be clear that in terms of social media monitoring and response, Dell’s resources are effectively infinite. By which I mean, the sum of money it costs to get absolutely top-flight social media monitoring is more or less a rounding error to Willy the Mail Boy’s expense account budget for a company the size of Dell. This is most certainly not the case for smaller businesses, nonprofits, and the like, but Dell is a Big Boy and as such they should be playing with the pros when it comes to social media.

So: I first started Tweeting my displeasure with Dell over three hours ago, and posted three Tweets total. I even used the #dell hashtag, making it utterly trivial for Dell’s social media team to pick up on my comments (and utterly inexcusable if they missed them). I then followed up with the blog post you’re reading now, which was soon linked by Glenn, who is of course a gentleman, scholar, and damned snappy dresser, aside from being a good friend who knows a fun story when he sees one.

At any rate, we’re a good three to four hours in here. By now, if Dell’s social media team is serious, they should have noticed my Tweets and my blog post. They should be looking into two things: first, is my complaint valid, or am I some jerk/nutcase who doesn’t have a legitimate beef but is just making noise? And second, who am I, and how much attention can Dell realistically expect to receive because of my issue? (short answers, admittedly biased: on the first, yup, it’s valid, and on the second, well, quite a lot, I’d expect.)

That second part — who am I and how much attention can I draw — may seem a bit, well, anti-democratic or something. But the reality is, from Dell’s perspective, they should be assessing whether I’m someone with a voice that will be heard, or… not. Ideally, you give all of your customers top-notch service, but back here in reality, you ultimately have to prioritize resources. These days, if you’ve got two equally deserving customers, one with a major social media presence and one with none, you’d be foolish not to address the former before the latter.

For myself, I do feel a slight twinge having taken a whack at Dell like this: have I used my social media powers for evil and not good, finally? But the answer is no, I don’t think so. I’m fortunate to have reached a point where, when I need to, I can draw serious social media attention to an issue — if that issue is real and legitimate. In terms of doing so for personal reasons, I think I can actually say this is the first time I’ve ever done so.

But the thing to recognize about whatever “power” I may have in social media is this: the fact that out of all their customers, every now and then one of them will turn out to be somebody like me is what keeps Dell — or any business — honest. If I make a big deal about the shoddy treatment they’ve provided me and light up the social media world for a brief moment with the dim glow of their stupidity, then that will make them institutionally more cautious the next time a customer has a beef. It’s just good business: when you don’t know which customer might have that nice big social media megaphone, you have to assume that every customer might.

So here we are, four hours in. The key question is what will happen on the overnight: it’s entirely possible that Dell’s social media folks are all over this and even ahead of my recommendations, but I don’t know because they (sensibly) aren’t going to try to call me at 9:30pm local time. By tomorrow morning, though, we’ll have the answer to the key question: did Dell really learn the lesson Jeff Jarvis taught them many moons ago? Are they paying attention? Or do they need to be taught it once again?

Day Three, 7:48 am, : Aha, so the social media team is on the case. @dellcares followed/Tweeted me at 1:30 am PT. Sadly, they requested my service tag, which means they didn’t actually read my Tweets/this blog post, as you can see it’s noted above. So we’re still at canned response level, I’d guess: they saw a negative Tweet and send a “can we help?” without actually reading all the info — as seems to be the process — , which is better than nothing but still minor leagues at best. And about an hour ago, @dell itself Tweeted me, noting “@rneppell Just saw your tweet… sounds like a horrible experience. Yikes, sorry to hear that. I see my buddies over @DellCares tweeted you.” Which I guess is kind of nice, if I was looking for emotional support. But I’m not really sure what it was meant to accomplish — other than invite me to reply and re-link to this blog post, thereby keeping my issue fresh in the Twittersphere (i.e., not an obviously helpful move from Dell’s issue management perspective).

What will the morning bring next? Stay tuned…

(In case you’re wondering how we’re counting, I’m calling this Day Three as my first extensive conversation with Dell was Monday morning — that’s the one that mysteriously vanished down the memory hole. If I was being really bitter, I’d call this Day Five, as the system crashed Saturday).

Day Three, 8:36 am: Exchanging a few tweets with @dellcares, who indicated they’ll have a tech call me and also asked me “For your protection, please remove post containing personal information”. By which they clarified to mean my service tag above. I do not think it has fully sunk in yet that even if I was paranoid enough to worry about my service tag as “personal information”, I do not intend to be in possession of that laptop for very much longer.

Day Three, 9:26 am: Oh dear. This is worse than I thought. So after @dellcares said they’d have a tech call, I emphasized I didn’t need a tech, I needed someone with authority to approve a replacement. @dellcares said “Understood, the Tech has authority to fully assist.” So I just spent fifteen minutes on the phone with Dell tech who called, and she made quite clear that she could only approve a replacement hard drive, and in fact did not have the authority to approve a system replacement (or refund). She did, however, very helpfully offer to send me a an email link to the Dell policy explaining why that’s all I deserve, so golly, that was nice. I’ll have to block out some time later today to curl up with that; I really needed some good reading material.

@dellcares: I really think (and hope) you know better than this. Do. Not. Mislead. Your. Customers. (Most especially the ones who are already irked at you.) If you say you’re going to send someone with full authority, you’d best make darned sure you do so. (And if you are even thinking about trying to weasel by saying “well, full authority was the authority to follow our brilliant policy as she stated”, hey, your call, but I think by now we’ve got quite the audience that will laugh rather hard at that answer.)

Day Three, 10:04 am: Good news, as even I found the last update depressing — the tech I spoke to was NOT the one dispatched by @dellcares, so my comments above should be disregarded with respect to them misleading me. (Not really my fault, though, as I told that tech @dellcares said they’d send someone with full authority and she didn’t correct me. We ended the call with her assuring me this was it and I’d get no further calls / different answers, and me assuring her that she really didn’t get it).

But good, means at least part of Dell hasn’t entirely lost its mind. @dellcares indicates their tech called me a few minutes ago and got voicemail (true, just missed grabbing the phone) and so waiting to connect with them now.

Day Three, 10:17 am: THIS JUST IN: Generalíssimo Francisco Franco is still dead — and so is my laptop! .

Franco's Tomb

Franco's Tomb

Rob's XPS 15

Rob's XPS 15

Day Three, 11:22am: Just got off the phone with one of the special @dellcares social media team reps, and we appear to be making progress (slowly). Dell is now committing to providing a new (not refurbished) replacement system. (Yay!) But, the rep indicated that it would ship in about a calendar week (Boooo!). I explained that to me, this meant they clearly still weren’t taking this issue seriously — after all this, they expect I’ll be happy to stare into the cold dead screen of my defunct system for a week or more patiently waiting?

The process, he said, usually it takes even longer but we’re expediting to get down to that week, blah blah blah. I pointed out that if Michael Dell walked into his office and said “Send someone to the production line, grab a new system that meets or exceeds his specs, and put it out FedEx Priority Overnight today” then that would happen — and it wouldn’t even be that hard. Shipping computers is, after all, kinda what they do.

He was polite and sensible enough not to argue much, and agreed to go talk with logistics to see what could be done to speed things up, committing to call me back shortly today. And so we abide…

Day Three, 12:22 pm: Given that it may take a week or so to receive a working system (although I’m hopeful my latest friend will convince folks to see the wisdom in Fedex Overnight) I thought I should share the waiting process with Dell and the world. I humbly give you the Live Dead Dell Webcam: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/live-dead-dell-cam . Tune in frequently, or just leave it on as a soothing screensaver. I will occasionally poke it with a stick and otherwise see if I can rouse it from its grim slumber, but don’t get your hopes up…

Day Three, 6:38 pm: Progress. Dell — and in particular, the superspecial @dellcares team — has committed to shipping me a new (not refurbished this time) system to replace the dead one. They unfortunately still insist that it could take 8-10 business days, which is maddening and I remain baffled by. But they did (eventually, after I reminded them of my time wasted and the history of this situation) agree to one particular upgrade that I specifically requested (and the overall system they’ll ship is an upgrade from the current one). I should in theory have an order number / real confirmation in the morning. So as I pretty much knew all along, the ultimate outcome of this issue looks like it will be a reasonable one.

But the process — oh, the process. But we’ll wait and see, and a full debrief / after-action report will be forthcoming. But as a preview, let us ponder for a moment how many times things I was assured by Dell reps Could Not Be Done are now, in fact, being done. Life’s full of possibilities when you open yourself to ‘em. And let us also ponder the time wasted in trying to avoid an outcome (a non-refurbished new system being provided to me) that was fairly obviously inevitable from the start. I know I’ve spent at least four hours on the phone. At this point I’d guess there have been at least ten Dell employees directly involved in this case. As I say, we’ll do a full debrief when we’re Done, but do begin the pondering of the cost of those employees time, plus the cost to Dell’s reputation given the visibility I’ve shown on this issue, and begin to weigh it against the cost of a new laptop (and remember to weigh it against Dell’s cost, not the price they sell it for).

In the meantime, the Live Dead Dell Webcam abides. Might not bother shining a light on the poor thing overnight, so forgive it if it goes dark, but I think we’ll leave it running, for now at least…

Day Four, 10:30am: Pleased to report that Dell has provided me an order number for the new system and it looks fine. While they are saying they’ll try to expedite, 8-10 business days remains the official estimate, which remains baffling and frustrating. But progress…

Day Nine: Could today be The Day? Dell says Order Status: Shipped. FedEx says “On FedEx Vehicle for Delivery.” Well knock me over with a feather…

Wrapup: Much belated, but the epilogue to our story is a satisfying one. I did indeed receive the promised system, and it has served me well. So props to the @dellcares team for making things that were alleged to be impossible possible, and for following through on their promises. Someday, perhaps I’ll write the full debrief / what-the-heck-went-wrong-here-and-what-should-have-happened, but for now, we abide…

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Jul 09

Happy 10th, Hugh and Duane

Today marks the tenth anniversary of my friend Hugh Hewitt’s radio program. (Tomorrow, July 10th, technically, but today is the closest broadcast day). Together with his Faithful Sidekick Duane “Radioblogger” Patterson, Hugh has been cranking out fifteen hours of on-air sanity and wisdom since 2000.

When I noted this happy occasion, what surprised me is that I’ve actually known Hugh for about half of that time. Our ‘blog for Katrina Relief‘ effort was, I believe, our first project together, and one that led to many more. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and get to know Hugh: he is as decent as they come, and I’m deeply grateful for his friendship, wisdom, and his valiant efforts to keep the howling winds of foolishness at bay for at least fifteen hours a week.

Today is the annual Disneyland show, where I believe Duane will be forced to ride the log flume fifty times in a row or somesuch, so have a listen from 3pm – 6pm Pacific online at KTIE, and be sure to sign up for podcasting and special stuff at the Hughniverse.

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Jun 30

A Short Open Letter to Christopher Hitchens

To: Christopher Hitchens
From: Rob Neppell
Re: Slacking

Mr. Hitchens:

At the risk of being morbid (although your memoir does a well enough job of going there), I simply wanted to make one thing clear.

You are not allowed to die.

Not yet, at least, and certainly not anytime soon. Your work upon this earth is not done, and frankly, your continued presence upon it annoys all the right people. Including me, at times.

I hope sincerely that your treatment is successful, and that your recovery is speedy and complete. Your voice remains needed, and I hope we shall not be without it for long.

See Also: Hot Air, Tom MacGuire

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Jun 23

Obama votes ‘present’ – and that’s a good thing

McChrystal is out, and Petraeus is in as commander of our forces in Afghanistan.

However, the bizarre part is that in making this choice Obama is also (reportedly, waiting for a source to link to) keeping Petraeus in charge of CENTCOM — thereby making him his own boss, and oh, yeah, assigning two 24/7/365 jobs to a single man.

On the one hand: this was a cowardly choice by Obama. Picking the closet thing we have to a saint in uniform per the American public’s perception is a safe choice for him — if it all goes to hell, how could anyone say he didn’t put the A team in? Nevermind that demanding a single man do CENTCOM and AFG is insane. Heck, why not just have him be Chair of the Joint Chiefs and hell, SecDef too? Way too much redundancy up there, Petraeus can do it all! It’s not like he’s been showing any signs of fatigue or need for rest.

But on the other hand: I’m starting to think this is a good thing. Because the real net effect will be that, with his CENTCOM responsibilities still intact, Petraeus is going to have to pick someone he trusts to actually be on point for Afghanistan. He’s got to have a second-in-command with undiluted focus on that single war if he himself is still going to be keeping one eye on the entire command.

So Obama has done what he does best: vote “present”, and punt. But in this case, he’s punted to someone who actually knows what they are doing. We may not agree with Petraeus’s exact personnel choices (of which I assume there will be many, not just the second-in-command I note), but I feel certain he’ll make them for better reasons and with better rationale than Obama.

The irony, of course, is that Obama just gave a speech noting how important civilian authority over the military is. But what he’s actually DOING is abdicating that very civilian authority and delegating it to a military man, Petraeus.

Bad policy/governance, generally. But in THIS case… thank God !!!

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Jun 20

First Father’s Day

My first Father’s Day as an actual dad. Twice over!

Bear Family PortraitI’ll spare you a treatise on the joys of fatherhood, and simply say: it’s joyful, especially when you are as lucky as I to have two wonderful, amazing, adorable cubs.

And a tip of the hat and happy dad’s day to all the other father’s out there…

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May 31

Remember and Honor

Why should anyone want to listen to what I, a civilian to the core, have to say on Memorial Day, when we honor those who have fallen in service of our country?

The answer, of course, is that they shouldn’t.

But you should listen to those who have served, and to whom this day is not simply one of general,  amorphous remembrance, but of personal memories, honor, and loss of those they stood next to, fought, served, and lived with.

Major Charles W. Zeigenfuss:

Many of our fellow citizens have no understanding of the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, other than it means a long weekend. Many people, especially those with no connection to the military, often confuse the two, citing Memorial Day as a day to thank those serving the nation in uniform. Recently, a friend of mine commented that “Memorial Day is meant to pay homage to those who gave their lives for this country and our way of life. It is a day to honor the dead. There is NO such thing as “Happy Memorial Day.”

Respectfully, I disagree, in part, anyway.

Memorial Day is a happy yet solemn, joyful yet tearful, partly sunny yet mostly cloudy kind of day.

We are living the days these men and women never will. Live them well, be happy, and enjoy the blessings of liberty their service and sacrifice have bought. Although we take pause today to remember their absence, we must also take this day to celebrate the very liberty they have secured.

Bruce McQuain:

I keep this photo as probably the most powerful reminder for me of what the real price of freedom looks like. Those that give their all as well as those they leave behind. We should remember both as we celebrate the freedom they’ve blessed us with and assured for us on this Memorial Day.

The Armorer:

They are the most egalitarian places in the nation…To gain entrance, one has only to ask.  Or, in times of extreme need, answer the call when delivered.

There are more. Go find them. And then, I will be presumptuous enough to believe I know how those who have fallen would want us to honor them on this day: by caring for those who still serve. Sign up to support a servicemember at Soldiers’ Angels, make a donation, or find some other (reputable) military support charity to devote your time and perhaps some of your funds to. If you, like I, haven’t worn our countries’ uniform, it is the least we can do.

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May 28

Congressional DADT Action: You keep using the word “repeal”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

So everyone is blaring headlines that say things like Senate panel and House vote to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ .

Um, no.

What they voted for is to sorta-kinda empower Team Obama to repeal DADT, if and only if he, his SecDef, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs promise Congress, in writing, that they’ll take all the blame if repeal screws anything up.

The actual “repeal” language (in the House action, at least) is in H.AMDT.672, proposed by Rep. Patrick J. Murphy to the overall Defense bill (H.R. 5136).

Since Thomas can be so annoying and still hasn’t really figured out permalinks, I’ll include the full text below. I am fairly sure this is the final language, but not certain, so take that as a slight caveat.

A few thoughts:

  • I think this should be titled the ‘Screw You Barry, It’s Your Problem Now Act of 2010‘. Congressional Democrats have quite effectively kicked the can down the road — explicitly prohibiting action until after the November midterms, which solves their worries. And even then, if he wants to repeal, he has to swear in writing to Congress that it will all go swimmingly.
  • If I were a passionate DADT opponent, I’d be pretty irked at this as rather weak tea indeed.

Full text follows…

H.AMDT.672 (A019)
Amends: H.R.5136
Sponsor: Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] (offered 5/27/2010)

AMENDMENT PURPOSE:
An amendment numbered 79 printed in House Report 111-498 to repeal Dont Ask Dont Tell only after: (1) receipt of the recommendations of the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group on how to implement a repeal of DADT (due December 1, 2010) and (2) a certification by the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and President that repeal is first, consistent with military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion & recruiting, and second, that the DoD has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to implement its repeal. It would also include a 60 day period after certification before the repeal took effect.

——————————————————–

79. AN AMENDMENT TO BE OFFERED BY REPRESENTATIVE MURPHY, PATRICK OF PENNSYLVANIA OR HIS DESIGNEE, DEBATABLE FOR 10 MINUTES

At the end of subtitle D of title V, add the following new section:

SEC. 5XX. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE POLICY CONCERNING HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE ARMED FORCES.

(a) Comprehensive Review on the Implementation of a Repeal of 10 U.S.C. 654-

(1) IN GENERAL- On March 2, 2010, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum directing the Comprehensive Review on the Implementation of a Repeal of 10 U.S.C. 654 (section 654 of title 10, United States Code).

(2) OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE OF REVIEW- The Terms of Reference accompanying the Secretary’s memorandum established the following objectives and scope of the ordered review:

(A) Determine any impacts to military readiness, military effectiveness and unit cohesion, recruiting/retention, and family readiness that may result from repeal of the law and recommend any actions that should be taken in light of such impacts.

(B) Determine leadership, guidance, and training on standards of conduct and new policies.

(C) Determine appropriate changes to existing policies and regulations, including but not limited to issues regarding personnel management, leadership and training, facilities, investigations, and benefits.

(D) Recommend appropriate changes (if any) to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

(E) Monitor and evaluate existing legislative proposals to repeal 10 U.S.C. 654 and proposals that may be introduced in the Congress during the period of the review.

(F) Assure appropriate ways to monitor the workforce climate and military effectiveness that support successful follow-through on implementation.

(G) Evaluate the issues raised in ongoing litigation involving 10 U.S.C. 654.

(b) Effective Date- The amendments made by subsection (f) shall take effect 60 days after the date on which the last of the following occurs:

(1) The Secretary of Defense has received the report required by the memorandum of the Secretary referred to in subsection (a).

(2) The President transmits to the congressional defense committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:

(A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.

(B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).

(C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

(c) No Immediate Effect on Current Policy- Section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect until such time that all of the requirements and certifications required by subsection (b) are met. If these requirements and certifications are not met, section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect.

(d) Benefits- Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to require the furnishing of benefits in violation of section 7 of title 1, United States Code (relating to the definitions of `marriage’ and `spouse’ and referred to as the `Defense of Marriage Act’).

(e) No Private Cause of Action- Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to create a private cause of action.

(f) Treatment of 1993 Policy-

(1) TITLE 10- Upon the effective date established by subsection (b), chapter 37 of title 10, United States Code, is amended–

(A) by striking section 654; and

(B) in the table of sections at the beginning of such chapter, by striking the item relating to section 654.

(2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Upon the effective date established by subsection (b), section 571 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 (10 U.S.C. 654 note) is amended by striking subsections (b), (c), and (d).

-

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May 25

I’m a Blogginghead: Bob Wright video interview with me on Tea Parties

I’ve been a fan of Bloggingheads.tv since it was created; heck, as I just told founder Bob Wright, I happened to have grabbed my Bloggingheads.tv t-shirt (which was given to me personally by sort-of co-founder Mickey Kaus) on the way to the hospital when my sons were born, so the very first pictures of me with them show (faintly, through the hospital gown) the goofball BHtV logo.

Bob is a good fellow but an unapologetic lefty, and so the site guests do tend to slant left. Recently, I noticed a few discussions on the site where the Tea Party was being discussed… by people who had no involvement with or real direct knowledge of the movement.

So I emailed Bob (who I’ve gotten to know) and gently pointed out that he was covering the Tea Party movement as if it were Uzbekistan. I explained my history working with Tea Party Patriots (I was a founding Board member, but stepped down in October before my twin sons arrived) and offered to put him in touch with somebody from TPP who could speak directly about the movement, but  despite my urgings, Bob said he really wanted *me* to do it, because he knows me and knows I am familiar with the format of the site.

So, I did. You can watch or download the 67 minute-long video here, with the embed also below.

Great fun, and I hope Bob will have me back on this or other topics. My only complaint was  he was probably too nice, and didn’t goad me into saying nearly as  many snarky things as I could have (although check the comments on the video closely for a few of those that I added post-facto).

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May 18

Flashback: Bloggers, The Musical

I warned you there might be nostalgia this week. Starting on the lighter side, from May 24, 2002, I give you Bloggers, The Musical:

Bloggers: The Musical

For no apparent reason, I hearby open nominations for the Bloggers: The Musical. Pick a blogger, find that perfect theme song that just sums ‘em all up, and send it my way. Yet another running list. Here’s a few to start:

Glenn “InstaMan” Reynolds - I Have The Touch (Peter Gabriel)

AsparagirlI’m Just a Girl ( No Doubt )

Amish Tech Support - I’m Going Slightly Mad (Queen)

Richard Bennett - Mr. Roboto (Styx)

The CornerBloody Well Right ( Supertramp ) Runner Up: Everybody Wants to Rule the World
(Tears for Fears)

Tapped - Left of Center (Suzanne Vega)

Kausfiles (independent)- Mickey (Toni Basil)
Kausfiles (Slate absorbed) – Welcome to the Machine (Pink Floyd) Runner up: Take the Money and Run (Steve Miller Band)

Ken Layne - Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pink Floyd)

Andrew Sullivan - I’m Too Sexy (Right Said Fred)

Eight years on, and a few names above will make folks go “who?”, but many are still kicking around…

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May 17

Eight Years On: N.Z. Bear and Beyond

From The Truth Laid Bear, May 16, 2002:

The news of the day (yesterday, to be precise) is the White House’s  minor little revelation that there was indeed some warning that Al Qaeda planned to hijack American airliners. Somehow this tidbit appears to have slipped everyone’s mind at 1600 Pennsylvania until just yesterday. Tip of the hat to Instapundit (5/15 at 10:31 pm and again 5/16 at 9:03 am) for providing the definitive debunking of the arguments why it’s OK that the FBI, CIA, INS and the rest of the federal government “couldn’t conceive” of this kind of attack ever occuring.

That’s the first blog post I ever wrote, right there: eight long years (and one day) ago. The Truth Laid Bear (subhead: A Bear, the World, and the Strong Urge to Hibernate) launched on Blogspot (natch) on May 16th, 2002 and… nobody noticed really. Not at first.

But here we are eight years later, and first, I have to say, Happy Blogiversary to me! The few and proud immediately pre- and post- 9/11 bloggers can claim longer tenure than I, as can those pioneers who had “personal journals” before the word blog even existed. (Doc Searls, I believe, ran his first site on a gopher server, and Dave Winer did what Real Men do, and coded every bit of text for each post in assembly language that had to be compiled on each readers’ computer.)

But other than those two groups, I can rightly claim that I’ve been around this rodeo longer than most. And to quote the cliche, what a long strange trip it has been. In 2002, I was a successful, but typical, technology exec, having learned my trade in the trenches of Andersen Consulting / Accenture. But I always enjoyed writing, so I figured I’d try this blogging thing as a hobby, and stretch my prose muscles a bit. A bit of writing here and there to soothe the soul: no big deal, and certainly nothing life-changing.

Whoops.

The slippery slope really began with a little idea called the Blogosphere Ecosystem which, believe it or not, was created in part simply because I wanted to avoid having to pick who to put on my own blogroll. After that, it never stopped. N.Z. Bear, as I was known then (and many still think of me as now), became a bigger and bigger part of my life. More blogging; more iterations on the Ecosystem, more projects, and more joyful discoveries of just what you could do with these blog thingies.

The New Blog Showcase. Porkbusters. Blog for Katrina Relief. The Victory Caucus. Top Conservatives on Twitter. ReadTheStimulus.orgTea Party Patriots. I was CPAC’s first ever Blogger of the Year. I’ve been on the teevee.  I got to shoot stuff at Blackwater. I got to meet the President of the United States and get my pic taken with him in the Oval Office. And perhaps most importantly, I have my own theme music on the Hugh Hewitt show, even if his slacker producer hardly ever actually remembers to use it for me anymore.

Through all of it, the pseudonym N.Z. Bear stayed intact. If you had asked me in 2002, I would never have believed I could have done practically anything without slipping up or having some nosie nellie actually bother to hunt down my real name. (Which, for the record, I never hid for any reason other than I just didn’t want coworkers at my Day Job bothering me about whatever annoying post I had just put up the night before).  But I managed to pull it off, oddly enough, and so on October 4, 2007 I ultimately had to out myself (on the Hugh Hewitt show)  as I launched Kithbridge. Five years, four months, and eighteen days: who says you can’t keep a secret on the Internet?

But now, of course, blogs aren’t just a hobby: they’re my business, as  I left the Day Job behind to found Kithbridge, which provides new media monitoring and consulting services for businesses, political campaigns, and nonprofits.

But a funny thing happened while blogs and new media were taking over my life: I stopped blogging. The deeper I got in, the more tools I developed and services I provided for projects and clients, the less time I seemed to have (or to make) for actually doing what got me into this in the first place.

So today, eight years (plus one day) after taking that first leap into the pond, I’m re-launching; re-committing; re-something to my own personal blogging. Don’t expect Glenn-like posting frequency, or the fascinatingly pedantic detail of Tom Maguire. This isn’t the best time in my life to re-focus on blogging, it’s arguably the worst, as I have a new family of my own (two new cubs!) that will most certainly take priority.

But here, at least, will be a place where you can find, if you so care, whatever thoughts come to me whenever I actually get around to posting them. Doesn’t exactly have the punch of “Live Free or Die” as a mission statement, but it’s rather more self-aware than “Don’t Be Evil”, at least.

This blog is a work in progress, as are all of course, but this one more than most. The theme is meh; I’m about halfway done with stuff that needs to go on the sidebar, and I’m sure there’s half a dozen other things wrong with it that will require deep tinkering over the coming weeks. But it’s here, and it’s functional.

TTLB hasn’t gone away, and yes, before anyone asks, I know full well that it and the Ecosystem are long overdue for a cleanup and tuneup itself. (Again, irony; the needs of the business side of the house (Kithbridge) have left little time for the more playful things like the Ecosystem). But I decided that my new blog needed a new home; N.Z. Bear, bless his fuzzy self, has retired, and it’s just Rob endeavoring to persevere onwards from here on out. For those who care, my blog post archives from TTLB are still over there, but they’re also here, and are far more accessible on this shiny new WordPress system.

So there you have it. This week, brace yourself for some nostalgia: going through this process has forced me to browse through some old archives, and there’s some fun stuff buried back there in ’02 – ’03, before the tectonic plates of the political blogosphere cooled and hardened into their current rigid forms. (Note, for instance, that in my first post above — and many after —  I was bashing Bush (and so was Glenn) — although those truly paying attention will realize that never actually stopped on either of our parts.) I may just have to dig some interesting tidbits up for re-examination through the lens of 2010 to kick things off in the new digs here.

And finally, to my clients who may look at this site and view it as an example to be followed: don’t! When you have an eight-year blogoversary, you can do a half-baked relaunch with a barely thought out and only mostly functional new blog. Until then, don’t screw around, talk to me, and we’ll get it right!

Here, however, I reserve the right to get it wrong: frequently, and with vigor. Hope everyone will drop by now and again to to see the show…

But And oh how the world has changed: I was bashing Bush (and so was Glenn) — and my post contains a spelling error, damnit.
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