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 “I have nothing but love for the brotherhood and thank my teammates and everyone associated with the program. Duke will always have a special place in my heart and will always be a part of me.” — Small Forward Jalen Johnson announcing he is leaving Duke to prepare for the NBA after playing only 13 games

Guess there are limits to “love” and “brotherhood.”

Almost DailyBrett was born at night, just not last night. Your author instinctively knows PR-speak when he sees it, reads it, hears it and smells it.

Jalen Johnson cleaned out his locker, left his special place Duke team in the lurch after about 90 days, took away a college scholarship from another deserving player, and then preached love and kisses to his team to mask his selfish action.

Was Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke basketball team a means to an end? Johnson only cared about the end (e.g., NBA) not the means (Duke issuing a nice PR statement) to mask the fact that Jalen was not getting enough PT (playing time). He quit, he quit big time to work on his game for the June NBA draft.

Many get all warm and fuzzy in early spring about one-and-done March Madness. One loss in the tournament is all it takes to end this year’s dreams and start moving on to next year for the 68 teams that qualify for the NCAAs.

One-and-done also has a much more sinister connotation, when it comes to players suiting up for universities for only one year. The NBA prohibits players from entering the league’s draft until a year has passed since high school. A young stud decides to attend a university (maybe even take a semester or two or a quarter or two) to stay eligible and then moves on to the two-round draft (e.g., 60 players selected).

Almost DailyBrett contends under One-and-Done, there is very little opportunity to experience university life, let alone develop cherished love and brotherhood. Your author detests football players not playing in their team’s bowl game after three seasons, but a 19-year quitting and clearing out his locker after the 13th game is a new low.

What about making a commitment and honoring that pledge? Jalen signed a letter or intent. Is the letter just a bunch of words for you to ignore at your convenience? Can’t you see it through until the end of the NCAA tournament? Guess not.

The madness of this one-and-done scheme is that elite teams are stocking up on NBA quality freshmen, who don’t give a damn about matriculating to college degree. Isn’t the purpose of tertiary education universities and colleges to educate students, enabling them to achieve credentials and experience the best of student life?

As long as the NFL and NBA do not develop real minor leagues — such as those formed and operated by their MLB and NHL cousins — then the football and basketball leagues will rely on the universities as their minor leagues.

Forget about the academic missions of universities and colleges. The real question for NFL and NBA teams: Can NCAA coaching staffs prepare players for professional field turf or parquet?

Winners Never Quit; Quitters Never Win

“That guy (Jalen Johnson) was hurting them so they actually are much better now without him. He was just doing some things and keeping other people from playing that are good.” — Former Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim

“Jalen Johnson does not have a ‘camp,’ ‘people in his ear,’ or a ‘posse.’ He has a family. He has a mother and father helping him, with his best interests in mind, making decisions. We can differ with the decision, but the undertones of the criticism of Johnson are concerning.” — Sanctimonious ESPN Basketball Commentator Jay Bilas, who by the way played at Duke

Almost DailyBrett is concerned that college basketball has reached an even lower nadir. The first One-and-Done player has quit his team in mid-season to pursue the NBA draft, establishes a horrible precedent. Jalen Johnson and others to follow are making a mockery out of the term, “student athlete.”

Johnson was an athlete, who had zero interest in being a teammate, much less being a student. He was there at Duke, simply to bide playing time.

Your author has always contended the most important public relations of all is personal public relations. Your family should be the first to teach sons and daughters about the importance of making good decisions and protecting one’s personal reputation.

When it comes to an NBA team making its precious two draft selections, and paying out literally millions for each one, does it want to take a huge gamble on a quitter? Does it want to overlook the character of someone who left his team in the lurch?

And when it came to Jalen Johnson’s alleged love and brotherhood, there was little brotherhood and much less love.

“Are you kidding me?” — President Barack Obama upon winning the Nobel Peace Prize

“In recognition of his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.” — International Emmy Founder’s Award for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

“The Governor can personally attack me all he wants in an effort to distract us from his incompetent management; but these facts are not going away because they are the facts and are unacceptable.” — New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens)

A Summer of Love has turned into A Winter of Discontent for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Almost DailyBrett and others have taken note that even CNN and MSNBC have finally reached the point they cannot continue to ignore, and are now actually covering the Andrew Cuomo nursing home scandal.

Wonder if the Emmy Award committee is internally questioning its wisdom in presenting its high honor to a New York governor directly linked to 1,000 nursing home deaths, withholding politically unfavorable Covid-19 stats from the U.S. Department of Justice, and intimidating and threatening to “destroy” New York Assembly Democrat Ron Kim?

The Heisman Trust forcefully took back the Heisman Trophy from Reggie Bush. Will the Emmy folks display the same courage about rescinding the award mistakenly given to the notoriously grandstanding angry governor?

Mistakes Were Made

“It’s Journalism 101. We tell our students, you shouldn’t interview your family and friends.” – Syracuse University media law professor Roy Gutterman

When the ultimate political expression in the passive tense (no subject is identified) is employed, you know the governor’s office is finally acknowledging — but never apologizing — that something is wrong, seriously wrong.

Complicit with the governor’s cover-up and ordering Covid-19 infected patients to be placed in nursing home with sensitive receptors (vulnerable senior citizens) is an American Media Industrial Complex (AMIC), which couldn’t get enough of Andrew Cuomo and glorified him for so long.

And then story turned out to be simply not true.

Chris Cuomo became even more notorious for his aiming of an oversized Covid-19 testing Q-Tip directly at his brother’s legendary nostrils. The antic may have made great television and Nielsen ratings for struggling CNN, but does anyone think the media stunt is funny today?

Wonder what the relatives of those who lost their lives in New York nursing homes are laughing?

How about the news judgment call by CNN to providing a national platform for its hyper-partisan anchor Chris Cuomo to heap joking praise on his brother? Will CNN ever admit it was wrong journalistically and professionally to promote family-fun fluff interviews, when the life-and-death stakes are so high?

Are the two liberal networks suggesting that universally despised Senator Ted Cruz’ ill-advised Cancun vacation (“Snowflake” the poodle may not have been served his dinner) in the midst of a record winter storm in Texas trumps 1,000 dead nursery home residents?

Almost DailyBrett loves animals, but bravely contends the Cuomo nursery home scandal is a bigger story than Cruz leaving Texas residents and his dog at home in a snow storm. More power to you, Snowflake.

And finally, what about the award industry and its preoccupation with giving its trophies to those left of center, even before they have earned these recognitions? Obama asked out loud, “For what?”

Former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev also won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Cold War, but didn’t he have a partner in the first-time elimination of an entire theater class of nuclear weapons?

Where was Ronald Reagan’s Nobel Peace Prize?

Life is not fair. Emmy-winning Governor Andrew Cuomo must feel persecuted and betrayed.

Wasn’t he a national hero last summer? Yes, indeed he was.

That was then. This is now.

“Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.” — Warren Buffett, “The Sage of Omaha.”

 “Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.” — Chinese Philosopher Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC)

It’s nobody’s business what you decide to do with your $1,400 stimulus payment.

Exercise your economic freedom: It’s your money, it’s your decision.

Yes we all need to recognize that way-too-many are living paycheck-to-paycheck, desperately trying to make ends meet. They can’t invest. Others have astronomical credit-card or student debt payments. Maybe the stimulus windfall can reduce the principal owed, if not eliminate the total?

There are those who want to provide that money to their favorite charity, and that very well could be their own household. And still others are better off and can afford to stimulate the economy with the stimulus.

If not already participating in the markets, how about becoming a retail investor? Your stimulus payment may serve as your personal catalyst to the world of ‘Buy Low Sell High.’

Almost DailyBrett taught Corporate Communications/Investor Relations to millennial public relations students at both the University of Oregon and Central Washington University, including leading debates whether Wall Street was indeed, gambling.

Learning how to invest and succeed on Wall Street is a lifelong skill. As they say on every flight: “Put on your own mask first before assisting others.” How can we help other, if our own fiscal state of affairs is not in order?

Lately, some elites from The Citadel of Infinite Wisdom (e.g., Washington, D.C.) seem to be getting their collective bowels in an uproar about young retail investors, digital trading platforms (e.g., Robinhood) and internet communications (e.g., Reddit) to invest and trade in stocks.

They should be protesting and marching not trading and investing. Right? Nope. It’s their decision.

The Democratization of Wall Street

One of the first moves toward democratizing Wall Street for those with just a shekel or two to invest was the establishment of retail trader, Charles Schwab Corporation in 1975.

Long before PCs, widespread digitization and the Internet, Schwab was offering retail investors an opportunity to compete against the Buy Side (e.g., mutual funds and pensions) and the major investment bank Sell Side (e.g., Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley).

The explosion of disruptive technologies led to where we are today: Instantaneous global commission-free digital trading platforms where the Buy Side (e.g., PERS), Sell Side (investment banks) and Retail Traders (Charles Schwab) can all invest and prosper.

There are more than a few Washington D.C. types, who are concerned about the emergence of Millennial an Z-Gen retail traders. ‘These inexperienced traders could lose money. We must regulate. We must tax individual trades. We must save these young investors from joining the investor class or worse — becoming libertarian and (gasp), neo-liberal-oriented, Republicans.’

Almost DailyBrett must counter these glass-half-empty naysayers: These millennial retail investors can also make money and start building lifetime wealth. They may not need or want the “assistance” of government, save Social Security. They can do it all on their own, thank you very much.

Will every trade be a good trade? Of course not. Will they learn from their mistakes? If they do, they will get better.

If the DC elites must regulate — its their raison d’etre, — then go after $1 trillion market cap Bitcoin. As Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen said it’s speculative. Translated: There are zero income statements, balance sheets, cash-flow statements, annual reports, quarterly earnings, absolutely nothing that makes for a smart investor.

And heaven forbid, if non-transparent Ponzi Scheme Bitcoin is being used for money laundering. Isn’t secrecy the point? How does the investor know where his or her money is going and why? It’s a ‘crypto-currency.’ What does that mean? Is it the Euro in ones-and-zeroes? Don’t think so.

We have hard-won economic freedom in the United States of America. After all the hue and cry about about T. Boone Pickins and his hostile corporate takeovers, some dared to say: “Let the raiders,, raid.”

Now that the calendar has flipped to here-and-now in the 21st Century Almost DailyBrett says to all those receiving $1,400 stimulus checks: ‘It’s your money. It’s your decision. We have economic freedom in America. If you wish to invest in our markets to stimulate our economy, go for it.’

Buy Low Sell High.

The ‘Rule of Stupids:’Don’t do stupid things, in stupid places, at stupid times, around stupid people.” – ESPN football analyst Trevor Matich

Will Gavin Newsom become the second California governor to be recalled in less than three decades?

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

As a former press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian, Almost DailyBrett had absolutely no problem sleeping if our administration was facing a periodic perception problem. If there was a genuine ‘what was the governor thinking’ reality that would keep any lead spokesperson/message developer up all night.

Most of all your author knew his boss, Governor Deukmejian, was home nearly every night with his wife, Gloria, three children and three beagles. The governor’s nocturnal vice was jamoca almond fudge.

Granted, there was not a worldwide scourge during the 1980s (AIDS was deadly serious, but not a global pandemic) that even remotely compares to today’s Covid-19. There was simply no way that Governor Deukmejian would order statewide social distancing, wearing masks and eating outdoors in very small groups, and then personally do exactly the opposite.

If you looked up the word, “hypocrisy,” the definition would be a picture of Gavin Newsom.

In the case of California Governor Gavin Newsom his ill-conceived Friday, November 6 visit to the French Laundry (e.g., wrong place, wrong time, wrong image) is making an off-year special recall election a virtual certainty. It’s debatable whether the recall will succeed, but this campaign could have been precluded, if the governor would have spent a November evening in Sacramento rather than the most expensive restaurant in the Napa Valley, if not the country.

Why were the optics just so wrong? The governor was entertaining his lobbyist friend, Jason Kinney, and the leadership of the California Medical Association at the French Laundry. The Yountville restaurant is famous for its $350 or more per person, eight-course menu, not including a most excellent 1991 Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru at $10,500 per bottle.

Last November (and now), the Covid-19 pandemic was ravaging California, requiring diners to eat outdoors, practice social distancing and wear face masks. Governor Gavin and the lobbyist party of 10 indulged indoors, did not practice social distancing, and did not wear masks.

Not The Brightest Bulb In The Chandelier

“The spirit of what I’m preaching all the time was contradicted, and I’ve got to own that. And so I want to apologize to you, because I need to preach and practice, not just preach and not practice.” — California Governor Gavin Newsom.

To his credit, the embattled governor of the Golden State admitted: “I made a bad mistake.”

Even if Governor Gavin survives the recall, will he be ready for the tender mercies of Vice President Kamala Harris in 2024?

Does anyone for a nanosecond believe she would pull any punches regarding the French Laundry debacle or how Gavin as the mayor of San Francisco made love to the wife of his chief of staff-campaign manager-best friend, thus breaking the man code?

The organizers of the recall have already reached the 1.5 million required signature mark, and have one-more month to ensure a sufficient number of valid signatures. Conceivably, the recall would be held as an off-year special election. The same scenario applied to recalled Governor Gray Davis in 1993, paving the way for Davis to be shown the door and for Arnold Schwarzenegger to become governor.

Considering that Almost DailyBrett is now part of the growing California Diaspora residing in Eugene, Oregon, your author will refrain from making any absolute predictions about what-was-once-his-favorite state. California is now firmly a single-party state with its political military industrial complex (Democrats controlling all state offices) ready to go to war for Gavin.

If Gavin is recalled, who will be the alternative (i.e. Arnold, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya …)? Even though California is the bluest state in the union, periodic political earthquakes are the norm (e.g., Proposition 13, 1978; Gray Davis recall, 2003).

If the California political landscape quivers and shakes in 2021, will it be aided and abetted by one ill-advised, hypocritical Gavin Newsom conflict-of-interest dinner at the ultra-pricey French Laundry?

Bon Appetit!

“We always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own. Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy.” — President Jimmy Carter, Crisis of Confidence (‘Malaise’) Speech, July 15, 1979

If his (Carter) administration had been a novel, a book, you would have had to read it from the back to the front to get a happy ending.” — President Ronald Reagan, October 29, 1984

As the final chapters are being recorded of Jimmy Carter’s eventful life, Almost DailyBrett is impressed by the sheer number of supporters of the former president. They cite his impressive post-presidency humanitarian works and deeds including his support for Habitat for Humanity, guarding against third-world voting fraud, and meeting with Kim Il Sung in North Korea.

These accolades are all true. Jimmy Carter has been a great ex-president. The problem with this avalanche of praise is the simultaneous whitewashing of his sad presidency.

For Carter’s apologists, they have ventured past denial and anger and appear anchored in the bargaining phase. Will they ever make it through the depression and finally acceptance, when it comes to confronting the reality of his presidency?

Jimmy Carter was the Martin Van Buren of the 20th Century. Maybe that comparison besmirches the legacy of our nearly forgotten 8th president, historically wedged in-between “Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson and “Tippecanoe” William Henry Harrison.

As certain as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, a revisionist history campaign is being planned for the inevitable passing of the 39th president. Critics, particularly those who lived through and vividly remember Carter’s desultory tenure, will be effectively silenced upon the eventual passing of a former president.

One must not speak ill of the deceased.

In this light, we will be compelled to celebrate his presidency and extol Jimmy Carter’s commitment to good works as an ex-president. The problem with this campaign are the optics of Carter’s presidency, and the painful memories they harken to those who were alive from 1977-1981.

Unlike Harry S. Truman, Jimmy Carter’s presidency will not look any better with the passage of time.

“It’s all over, it’s gone!”

“The main asset any Republican candidate brought to this race for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was that he wasn’t Jimmy Carter.” — Former MSNBC anchor and Carter aide Chris Matthews, “Tip and The Gipper”

 “Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago?” — Ronald Reagan presidential debate closing statement, October 28, 1980

Carter Pollster Patrick Caddell relayed the final polling tracking to White House Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan on the wee hours of election day, November 4, 1980. Never in Caddell’s career had he ever witnessed such a massive shift of public opinion in the last days and hours of the campaign from one candidate (Carter) to another (Reagan.)

Never in recorded (and unrecorded) American history has an incumbent president been beaten as badly as Carter’s loss to Reagan. The final count: Reagan, 489 electoral votes, Carter 49. Reagan captured 44 states, Carter 7 including DC. The popular vote favored Reagan 50.7 percent to Carter’s 41 percent.

The “It’s all over, it’s gone” conversation was recounted in Jordan’s aptly titled book about the Carter presidency: “Crisis.”

Carter is credited with introducing Arthur Okun of the Brookings Institute’s “Misery Index” (e.g., the combination of the national unemployment rate and the measure of inflation), using it effectively against President Gerald Ford in 1976.

Ford completed his presidency with 12.66 misery index. Carter’s presidency finished with a 19.72 misery index. Oops. Was Carter hoisted on his own petard?

Shortly after the malaise speech (the actual word was not used, but the president’s unfortunate remarks live on), Senator Ted Kennedy (1932-2009) decided to wage a primary challenge against his own party’s incumbent president for the Democratic nomination.

The months long fight was bitter and ultimately Carter won the nomination. Your author still remembers Carter standing on the convention stage on the final night waiting for Kennedy to come down and join him in the traditional unity hand grasp. He waited. He waited. And he waited. And he waited some more.

Finally Kennedy appeared, but the political damage was done. There was no warmth. Kennedy did his duty. It seemed the convention wanted “The Lion of the Senate” instead of its own nominee.

Now there are those who equate Carter’s ex-presidency with his presidency. Almost DailyBrett poses the question to those engaging in Carteresque revisionist history: ‘Did you support Jimmy Carter or Ted Kennedy in 1980?’

If it was the latter and you are now engaged in Carter bargaining and revisionist history, you have some explaining to do.

“We don’t set out to be anti-Trump. We set out to be pro-truth. We are just there to ferret out the truth.” — Outgoing CNN president Jeff Zucker

“The war is over. Jeff was a war-time president. We are about to enter peacetime with the Biden era.” — Former CNN Digital Producer Steve Krakauer

Donald Trump’s Senate trial begins today, it may be over with predictable acquittal as early as Saturday.

Does that mean the Big Apple Trump era ist kaputt? Will the media now have to focus exclusively on Delaware Joe Biden?

It’s just not the same. It can’t be the same.

Almost DailyBrett must ask: Does that mean CNN will be going cold turkey as the hyper-partisan network’s boss, Jeff Zucker, heads to the exit at the end of the year?

Can CNN transition from the smash mouth journalism of the Trump era to “soft ball” coverage of the wonderous works and deeds of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris?

Does the world really need two MSNBCs? Likewise does the world really need two Fox News Channels?

Many individuals and organizations throughout history could not successfully transition from all-out war to the breakout of peace. Fox News is facing the same question, only in reverse.

The ultimate irony in this story is Jeff Zucker as the former CEO of NBC Universal is largely responsible for at least a portion of the meteoric rise of Donald Trump through the latter’s hosting of “The Apprentice.” The Donald served as the hit NBC reality show’s host for 14 seasons.

Is Money Life’s Report Card?

The story of Mr. Trump and Mr. Zucker is a kind of Frankenstein tale for the late television age, about a brilliant TV executive who lost control of his creation. ” — Ben Smith, New York Times media columnist

“He’s (Zucker) a ratings whore — and I’m telling you that as a ratings whore. But it’s one thing to be a ratings whore in prime time and it’s another thing to be a ratings whore when it comes to news.” — Preston Beckman, former NBC executive vice president

“It’s not personal, it’s business.” — Marlon Brando, The Godfather

Donald Trump interviewed on Larry King Live on Oct, 7, 1999. Trump said he had formed an exploratory committee to help him determine whether he could win the White House as a Reform Party candidate

Under Zucker’s guidance CNN moved away from the straight-news format personified by its nighttime anchor Aaron Brown (the epitome of melba toast boring) and easy questioner Larry King (may he rest in peace) to an increasing reliance on editorial opinions masquerading as “interpretation.”

Beginning with Zucker the lines between editorial and journalistic coverage presented during news programming hours at first blurred and then eventually were wiped away. The losers were the viewers.

Was it interpretation? Was it journalism? Does CNN really care as along as the ratings are up? Is the overreliance on editorializing, not backed by solid reporting, good for ratings but bad for journalism?

CNN’s ratings went up at the expense of professional integrity. If one only employs the metric of the acquisition of advertising dollars as CNN’s report card, then Zucker was successful.

If the standard was quality news reporting that was the case when Bernard Shaw was the lead anchor and Wolf Blitzer arrived on the scene, then obviously CNN failed, it failed big time.

Almost DailyBrett wonders whether CNN scorched earth approach to all-things Trump was based solely upon business (e.g., Nielsen ratings) or was it a personal (post-Apprentice breakup between Zucker vs. Trump)?

Maybe it was a combination of both? It certainly wasn’t objective journalism.

“Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me. Other times, I can barely see. Lately, it occurs to me. What a long, strange trip it’s been.” — ‘Truckin,’ Appreciative Deceased, 1970

Aging hippies are easy to spot, they’re the ones in the drum circle who refuse to grow up.

Having matriculated — matured in the 1960s and 1970s — Almost DailyBrett to this day appreciates two-out-of-three when it comes to sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. That would be in order: hell yes, hell no and rock on.

Buying a Haus 10 years ago in the Southeast Hills of Eugene, Oregon your author comes in repeated contact with way too many poor souls, who wax nostalgic for a time that was not even remotely as good as it was made out to be.

If Woodstock in 1969 was the thrill of victory, Altamont later that year was the agony of defeat.

It was a repeated bummer when Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix (played Woodstock), Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin all bought the same ranch for essentially the same reason.

Macht nichts, the aging counterculture crowd is still valiantly trying to get the Hippie (correct spelling) lifestyle to work. All they are accomplishing is getting even older, reveling in communal poverty, community gardens, and setting themselves up for brutal no legal tender retirements.

Give them credit for being — stubbornly poor and destitute. Cool man? Not.

You almost want to shake them: ‘Dudes or Dudettes, Woodstock was a half century ago. The Hippie ‘communes’ didn’t calibrate in the Socialist countries of yesterday (e.g., USSR), and they are not working in the Communist countries of today (e.g., PRC).’

Heck China is now authoritarian capitalist (Buy Low Sell High) with brisk trading on the Shanghai and Hang Sang (Hong Kong) Stock Exchanges. Alibaba has a better future than Bernie.

Some seem to think that even though democratic socialist revolution didn’t work in reality from 1917 to the present day, the theory is still the wave of the future. Sorry to say, that old Marxist dog with mittens just won’t hunt.

What can we do with aging hippies? Are we out of hope? Should we care?

“Are They Going To Skinny Dip Again?”

You’re sick of hangin’ around and you’d like to travel.” — ‘Truckin,’ Grateful Dead

A 1994 Pepsi Super Bowl XXVIII commercial brought former Hippies back to Woodstock 25 years later. The hilarious spot depicted the Country Joe (McDonald) not remembering what happened. The-once-Hippie-turned-Yuppie crowd are now driving nice cars, lining up for valet parking, practicing their golf swings and imaging the upstate New York hillsides with condos.

Young boys, all drinking Pepsi (of course) speculated the Baby Boomers were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the biggest event of their lives — Watergate. Asked if the former hippies would skinny dip again, one boy replied: “I hope not.”

The vast majority of Woodstock era Hippies grew up or at least they matured and moved up in society during the 1980s, when it was Morning Again In America.

There were a few, who resolutely clung to the past and brought it clear way for more than 50 years to the present. They have even succeeded in convincing some in younger generations, who should know better, to adopt their lifestyle.

Does misery love company? Movements die without disciples. What if the drum circle gets repetitive? What else is new?

Can they Ramble On when the “stimulus” payments stop? What if they would like to travel after being sick and tired hangin’ around for so long because of Covid-19? Travel requires legal tender. Having a nice lifestyle requires an investment portfolio. They don’t have FOMO as they are simply missing out.

And if you want to revisit Alvin Lee and Ten Years After at Woodstock playing a great rocker “I’m Going Home,” all you need is YouTube.

Hippie attire and lifestyle are not required.

“Poor old Germany. Too big for Europe. Too small for the world.” — Henry Kissinger

Frau Dr. Angela Dorothea Merkel (CDU) does not view herself as a woman, who just happens to the chancellor of the 4th largest economy in the world.

Kanzerlin Merkel sees herself as Germany’s head of state, who just happens to be a woman.

There are those who sadly project the United States will never elect a woman president because of the campaign failure of Hillary Clinton four years ago. Was it us or was it Hillary?

Almost DailyBrett asks these skeptics (cynics?) how they explain initially elected and then three times re-elected Frau Merkel as one of the most popular leader of the Vaterland?

How about European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and ECB president Christine Lagarde? Is Germany/European Union (EU) more enlightened or just early in comparison to the United States?

Looking back at Germany during Merkel’s 15+ years as Kanzlerin, there has never been a country that needed and benefited more from soft power (i.e., culture, language, influence). Today’s Germany projects a superior quality of life, successful family Mittelstand businesses, and a beautiful nation for tourists to visit.

During Merkel’s nearly two-decade tenure as chancellor, Gallup reported that global esteem for Germany has risen from 42 percent in 2006 to 62 percent now. Is all of this increase, attributable for Frau Merkel? She deserves her fair share of the credit.

People around the world want what Germany has to offer. As Deutschland’s head of state, we should contemplate that Merkel is an unlikely chancellor, not because she resides on the feminine side of the gender divide.

Merkel, 66, is the daughter of a Protestant Lutheran pastor, an Ossi raised on the wrong side of the Wall, and a holder of a doctorate in quantum chemistry. She is brilliant, but is reticent in championing her achievements. As Der Spiegel noted, Merkel is more process and less project.

Her center-right predecessor Helmut Kohl is know for great projects (e.g., reunification and Euro introduction). Merkel is at peace with running Germany effectively and efficiently.

She has no problem telling the world that she makes breakfast for her husband, chemist and professor Joachim Sauer, or that she shops on Friday afternoons for their evening dinner. She is at peace with who she is and what she has accomplished.

This past week marked the 76st. anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, once again reminding the world of the horrors committed on behalf of Germany — hard power Nazi Germany — not that long ago.

Has Angela Merkel or “Mutti” served as an antidote? She is a calming, unexciting, competent and reluctant hegemon of Europe’s most important and successful country. Germans may never exhibit happiness, but they satisfied and contented.

While others are enduring/endured bouts of nationalistic demagoguery (i.e., Vladimir Putin, Russia; Donald Trump, USA; Boris Johnson, UK), Merkel has stumbled only once (2015 immigration issue). Nonetheless, she would be the odds on favorite to win re-election this year if she chose to do so.

She may be the only Federal Republic of Germany (BRD) chancellor, who is leaving office based upon her own decision and at a time of her choosing.

Kanzler, Not Kanzlerin

This coming September will mark the beginning of another era as a much softer era will come to the end. German voters will elect its 9th Federal Republic of Germany Chancellor closing out Merkel’s nearly 16 years of as the chief executive of Europe’s largest nation/economy.

Three Herren (gents) are the most likely successors to Angela Merkel: Nordrhein-Westphalia Minister-president Armin Laschet, 59, leader of the Christian Democrats (CDU), Bavaria Minister-president Markus Söder, 54, of the sister Christian Socialist Party (CSU), and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, 62, of the Social Democrats (SPD).

The first order of business will be for the CDU and the CSU to decide in either March or April whether Laschet or Söder will carry the banner as The Union’s chancellor candidate against Scholz in the fall.

Almost DailyBrett will resist the temptation as a Germanophile located nine time zones to the west from offering any definitive predictions. Germany is a fascinating nation, just not your author’s country.

After daily watching of ARD1’s Tagesschau and German and English news reports, it would surprise no one if Söder and Scholz will square off against each other in the fall. And the winner will have to negotiate a coalition partner. Could Scholz serve once again in a Grand Coalition as one of Söder’s cabinet ministers?

Foto: Peter Kneffel/dpa | Verwendung weltweit

Whoever prevails, whether it be Bavaria’s Söder or Hamburg’s Scholz, the winner needs to be mindful of the extremely competent Chancellor Merkel they are following onto the world stage. Germany has pulled off a public relations miracle (Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder) since World War II in many ways attributable to Frau Merkel.

If she decided to run again, she would win a fifth term mainly because of her confident and skilled handling of the Covid-19 epidemic. Alas, she is not vying for the chancellorship. Someone — ein Herr — will have some accomplished footsteps to follow.

“Here come the short apologists. Give them no respect. Get Shorty.” — Elon Musk

Remember being asked in the 1990s, if Almost DailyBrett had a minimum of $500,000 to invest.

The question was answered with a question: “Did you ever see ‘Bull Durham?'”


Your author was the Durham Bulls, not the New York Yankees.

As a relatively young corporate public relations director at LSI Logic back in the Alan Greenspan “irrational exuberance” 1990s, Almost DailyBrett was learning about markets as a Charles Schwab retail investor. That quest for knowledge to responsibly invest persists three decades later and never stops.

It seems that so many are getting their collective bowels in an uproar or knickers in a twist over the insane hedge fund 144 percent shorting of GameStop (NYSE: GME) and the massive buying of the same stock by Millennial and Z-Gen retail investors.

The initial wave of borrowing of GameStop shares came from hedge funds (e.g., Melvin Capital) literally shorting the stock, betting the stock would plummet. Alas for Melvin Capital (53 percent loss), Millennial and Z-Gen retail investors using Reddit social media and commission-free Robinhood and other trading/investment platforms were bidding up the stock.

Melvin Capital ended up holding the bag being forced to cover its short position at a huge loss. Damn those Millennials and Z-Gens. Retail investors are not supposed to control Wall Street that’s the job for Buy Side and Sell Side institutional investors, including Melvin Capital.

If you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett just ask the hedge funds.

David vs. Goliath Story?

Some may quickly learn that just because investing is commission free does not mean that all social media/smart phone trading will end well. Social media (i.e., Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) may all be free, but Wall Street commission-free trading comes with risk — and it may not be calculated risk but pure speculation (e.g., Bitcoin crpyto-“currency”).

When society was shut down because of Covid-19, many digital native Millennials and Z-Gens turned to video games and streaming video as a release. Others wisely used the very same digital platforms to trade (good) and invest (better) in their futures.

Millennial investor Keith Gill, 34, is drawing gobs of media attention from transforming his $54,000 trade in GameStop two years ago into a $48 million gain last week. Your author must ask: ‘Where is the harm?’ Are we upset because hedge fund Melvin Capital took it in the shorts (pardon the pun) and Keith Gill won?

Shouldn’t we be cheering for the underdog or should we call upon big government to put an end to the alleged Wall Street playification party? Former Facebook executive, now Social Capital CEO, Chamath Palihapitiya, celebrated on CNBC this week Millennials and Z-Gens learning through the real-time experiences about investing, trading, and (others) shorting in global markets.

Almost DailyBrett remembers all the hue and cry about T. Boone Pickens (1928-2019) and his corporate raiding (e.g., hostile takeovers) in the 1980s. Some called for increased regulation. Others were at peace with open markets: “Let the raiders, raid.”

When The Cure Is Worse Than The Disease

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) called for stricter SEC enforcement of market trades on CNBC. She was unsure whether the GameStop trades was a David vs. Goliath story. Her solution is always her remedy: more regulation, federal preemption and higher taxes.

She repeated her call for the establishment of am unconstitutional “two-cent” federal wealth tax on already taxed assets (i.e., investment portfolios, real estate, cars, boats and planes) on America’s makers and achievers. If entrepreneurs opt to leave America to avoid the tax, they would lose their citizenship.

“Asking them to step up and pay a little more and you’re telling me that they would forfeit their American citizenship … I’m sorry that’s not going to happen.” — Elizabeth Warren on CNBC’s Closing Bell.

If it isn’t going to happen, why are you talking about it Senator?

Capitalist — Not Socialist — Millennials and Z-Gens

“There are bulls. There are bears. And pigs get slaughtered.” — CNBC’s “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer

“There are two paths to go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” — Jimmy Page, Robert Plant

In the second iteration of your author’s career, the task at hand as a college professor was to teach corporate communications and investor relations to Millennial students. Some even wondered if the class was oriented toward learning how to day trade.

It wasn’t, but these optimistic students were learning to buy low and sell high. None of them had any interest in being poor. By taking corporate communications and investor relations they were embracing economic freedom.

Will they make mistakes as investors/traders during the course of their careers? Is the Pope Jesuit? Will they learn from their errors and become better at using due diligence to evaluate the fundamentals of companies, including their income statements, balance sheets and price/earnings ratios? One would hope that is indeed the case.

According to Business Insider, Millennials are oriented toward stocks not bonds and self-directed investing using Robinhood to trade and Reddit to communicate.

Should the government clamp down on Millennial/Z-Gen trading through imposing stifling regulation, doubling capital gains taxes on positive returns and introducing taxes on what are now commission-free trades?

Is nothing, sacred?

How about enticing and encouraging successful citizens to give back to society? Remember to put on your own airplane mask first before assisting others.

And most of all, let’s teach our Millennial and Z-Gen leaders of tomorrow the wonders of economic freedom including the tried-and-true ‘Buy Low Sell High.’

“Don’t be afraid. Take to the streets, not for my sake, but for your own sake and your future. The only thing to be scared of is your own fear.” — Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader after being arrested by Vladimir Putin

Is Alexei Navalny crazy or crazy like a fox?

Russian leader Vladimir Putin poisoned Navalny with Novichok, a lethal nerve agent five months ago. Navalny miraculously emerged from a coma and recovered in a German hospital in Berlin.

After using up eight-of-his-nine lives, Navalny returned to the Rodina last week only to be arrested by Putin’s goons at Moscow’s Shermetyevo Airport. He was immediately imprisoned. Why would he take such a risk? Did he deliberately end his exile and force the issue by placing himself as close as possible to his mortal enemy, Putin?

Before departing Germany, Navalny posted a two-hour video with architectural drawings of Putin’s $1.35 billion, 17,700-meter palace secretly located on 30-square miles of a warm beautiful peninsula facing the Black Sea.

Almost DailyBrett has always been a fan of Ian Fleming’s 007 novels with exciting plots of diabolical villains poised to unleash widespread unpleasantness on the denizens of Planet Earth. Whether James Bond was played by Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig, the bad guys always resided in heavily defended sinister compounds of enormous wealth.

Don’t remember any of the novels or movies reaching Putin’s extreme of secure opulence (e.g., no fly zone, military barracks) and over-the-top luxury. Besides an Italianate palace, Putin’s pad includes two helipads, a subterranean hockey rink, a vineyard, an amphitheater, a casino, a plush lounge with a stripper’s pole and a lap dancing couch.

There is also a cavernous bath tub for two or more, and of course an ornate four-poster bed.

Even though there is the aforementioned no-fly zone, a camera-equipped drone captured images of Putin’s dazzling compound. In he meantime, the average Ivan or Anastasia is barely making enough rubles to get by week-in and week-out Back in the USSR.

Sense Of His Soul?

“I looked the man (Putin) in the eye. I found him very straightforward and trustworthy. I was able to get a sense of his soul.” — President George W. Bush, Slovenia Summit, June 16, 2001

Care to take those words back Mr. President #43?

Has Navalny already performed his public service for the world with his 120-minute video of Putin’s answer to Versailles? The YouTube video has already garnered 90 million+ plus views, particularly within Russia itself.

Almost DailyBrett will make the call: Putin is dirty. Most suspected as much. Now we know for sure.

Considering that Putin almost succeeded in carrying out a “wet work” hit on Navalny as he attempted against other enemies, Navalny had to suspect he was a sitting duck wherever he was on the planet (e.g., Germany). If Putin murdered Navalny outside of Russia, Putin would simply shut down Russia’s media. There would be zero coverage of the story within the friendly confines of the Rodina.

By returning to Russia, Navalny knew he would be arrested or worse. Returning home in a conspicuous way, he forces Putin’s hand. As The Economist contended, if Putin continues to imprison him then Navalny becomes a modern-day Nelson Mandela. If Putin murders him in prison, then Putin is no different than a Mafia-style boss.

Putin has to know that imprisoning or worse murdering Navalny will generate an angrier mob on Russian streets and universal condemnation. Does he lose control? Is the lion’s share of the pressure on Navalny or on Putin?

James Bond movies always have happy endings with the villain finally facing justice. Will this real-life Russian suspense thriller finish with good (Navalny) prevailing over evil (Putin)?

One can only hope.

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