Archive for May, 2020


Comparing one year to another in a different era is always an inexact science.

It’s easy to poke holes in any comparison and thus attempt to render the point meaningless, but this author will not go down easily.

The “perfect storm” of volatile factors in 2020 reminds Almost DailyBrett of a terrible year … 1968.

Certainly, there are no direct equivalents of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy (and let’s keep it that way).

Neither is there a similarity to the eye-opening Tet Offensive nor directly related deaths of US soldiers, which exposed that America was systematically misled and deceived about the Vietnam War.

Consider that 2020 and 1968 will always be remembered as election years with flash-point incumbents.

Americans have been cooped up indoors for months, way too many losing their livelihoods in a provoked recession, and then the weather grew hotter and George Floyd was senselessly murdered by a Minneapolis criminal cop.

And similar to 1968 (e.g., Chicago riot), legitimate protesters had their voices and actions drowned out by organized anarchists (sounds like an oxymoron, but sadly it’s not) who want to hurt people, steal, burn and create havoc. If one Googles “Antifa Portland,” 619,000 results pour back in 0.33 of a second.

Reflecting back on 1968 — your author was 13-years-very-young — it literally took another decade-plus until America settled down again in the 1980s. Will it take that long after what is setting up to be a rotten, 2020?

There were more than a few, who detested the violence on university campuses and in the streets back in 1968. They became a political force of their own: “The Silent Majority.”

Is it deja vu all over again?

The Rebirth of the Silent Majority?

What about the overwhelming majority of Americans, who are sickened by what happened to defenseless George Floyd … begging for the right to breathe on Memorial Day? They want the officers responsible, particularly one in particular, to face severe music. Justice must be done.

Having said that, the preponderance of Americans are staying away from the streets. They are incredulous by what they’re seeing on television and social media.

Didn’t the overwhelming number of voters elect and re-elect the first-ever African-American president, Barack Obama, in 2008 and 2012? We were internationally celebrated for being open and fair-minded. Are Obama’s historic elections now irrelevant?

The George Floyd murder comes across as an exploited opportunity by many who just want to destroy communities. They are looters, stealing from expensive stores. There are trigger-happy Yahoos with assault weapons — allegedly protecting places of business — just looking for any excuse to open fire.

Cable television and the Internet in 2020 are delivering these horrific videos and placing them in our collective faces. Didn’t television in 1968 bring the carnage of Vietnam into our living rooms on a nightly basis? At the time, the U.S. military drafted literally thousands to fight in rice paddies in a war, which was never explained, much less declared.

Then-candidate Richard Milhous Nixon called for a restoration of “law and order” on the 1968 campaign trail. Do we want another officer putting his knee on the neck of an unarmed man? The answer is an easy, ‘no.’ This abominable practice must stop now and forever.

At the same time, a riot usurping a protest is still a riot.

Can we conclude that a 21st Century equivalent of the 1960s Silent Majority detests and loathes rioters breaking windows, looting stores, burning vehicles, assaulting police officers, fire fighters, security personnel, chasing and intimidating reporters, and destroying Starbucks … just because it’s corporate Starbucks?

The Silent Majority wants to turn down the sound, cancel out the noise and return to some sense of normalcy.

Almost DailyBrett will be the first to admit making the wrong call in the 2016 election. This year started with rising markets, the best economy in one-half century, a positive atmosphere for any disciplined incumbent … assuming the incumbent is capable of political discipline.

Oh what a strange trip it has been: The Covid-19 outbreak, the unprecedented lock down, the forced recession, masked people fighting unmasked people, and then and now … the George Floyd murder and out-of-control chaos.

What’s next? There will be more. It’s not Morning in America, more like Midnight on the Streets.

Just as a turn of events spiraled out of control in 1968, the same seems to be true in 2020.

Who benefits and who does not — we need to be honest — no one knows.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/what-happened-to-the-exceptional-nation-that-twice-elected-barack-obama/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at thus chorus of entitled white men, justifying a serial rapist’s (e.g., US Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh) arrogated entitlement. All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to the swine? Yes.” — Georgetown University Professor Christine Fair

“Bias against women as political leaders has clearly diminished in modern times, and women have been elected to state governorships (e.g., Nikki Haley) and other executive offices with some frequency. But the presidency is the ultimate executive office, and there are still many men, and some women, who have hidden (or not so hidden) gender prejudices.” — Professor Larry Sabato, UVA Center For Politics

What is the male equivalent of the word, “misogyny?”

Are you ready for … “misandry?”

Haven’t heard the term, misandrists or women who hate men? The same was true for Almost DailyBrett until recently.

In our advanced 21st Century civilization there seems to be only public dialogue of the unfortunate practice of misogyny and evil misogynists, which is appropriate but is that the end of the discussion?

As former Vice President Joe Biden contemplates, which woman he will add to the ticket (too bad he closed the gender door to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo), the always excitable resistance journalists will hyperventilate about how his running mate choice will impact THE Gender Gap (Democrats vs. Republicans and the women’s vote).

Translated: Who will better assist Biden in firming up and expanding his base with women: Stacey Abrams? Kamala Harris? Amy Klobuchar? Catherine Cortez Masto? Elizabeth Warren?

Your author fully anticipates the predictable absence of pundit bloviation of what is another valid factor, if not an equally germane discussion: What will be the impact of the chosen woman running mate on the forgotten gender gap: Republicans vs. Democrats and the vote by men (assuming all American males don’t suffer miserable deaths, while feminists laugh in the meantime).

Looking back at 2016 exit polling, we find not surprisingly that Hillary Clinton carried THE gender gap by a 13 point margin (54 percent-41 percent).

Conversely, Donald Trump won the forgotten gender gap by 11 points (52 percent-41 percent).

This assessment of the women vs. men voting tendency divide is not the end of the story, just the end of the beginning.

Digging deeper into the numbers, we find that inconceivably Hillary Clinton actually lost the white women’s vote to Donald Trump (52-43 percent). White men in numbers with high propensity, voted for Trump over Hillary by two-to-one landslide, 62 percent to 31 percent.

Three times in the past 48 years, Republican nominees have captured 50 percent or more of the total vote among women (Nixon, 61 percent in 1972, Reagan, 56 percent in 1984 and George H.W. Bush, 50 percent in 1988)

Only once in the last 48 years has a Democratic nominee won 50 percent of the total vote among men (Jimmy Carter with 50 percent in 1976).

‘Don’t Want This Particular Woman’

“Throughout the campaign, an observer could not miss an assertion made frequently by women young and old: ‘I want a woman president, and I’m sure we’ll have a woman president soon, but I don’t want this particular woman (e.g., Hillary Clinton).'” — Larry Sabato

Donald Trump’s two-for-one victory among men in 2016 should not be dismissed particularly as it applies to the fly-over swing-states including: Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin … White men and Midwest swing states still matter in 2020.

Should Joe Biden pay attention to the forgotten gender gap? How will his choice of running mate, a bleeding heartbeat away from the presidency impact the men’s vote?

Trust Almost DailyBrett on this point: The good folks at CNN, MSDNC, NBC and CBS will pay scant attention to the shave-their-faces in the morning demographic. They will focus on how a shrill Elizabeth Warren fires up progressive women base or how an angry Kamala Harris will perform in a debate against cool customer, Mike Pence.

Even as apoplectic Warren clearly unnerves Wall Street and America’s Investor Class (more than half of the country), how will she play with men in must-win-for-either-side, Florida?

Considering Biden’s rhetorical struggle against himself, could an oratorically gifted Governor Cuomo have been a wiser choice as a running mate?

Let’s also weigh Biden’s “… you ain’t black” gaffe with the African-American community. Will adding Georgia governorship loser Stacey Abrams or “I don’t believe you (Biden) are a racist” Kamala Harris solve the nominee’s problems with blacks in particular, and American men in general?

Maybe making the premature announcement that he would only consider a woman for the VP slot was political malpractice? Why close out one gender so early, when your party has historical major political problems with that very same gender, men?

Are progressive women going to vote for Trump, if an Andrew Cuomo or Cory Booker is selected? Forget about it.

Men are relevant. Men matter. They vote. They don’t appreciate being placed in a “basket of deplorables.” They will not be the forgotten gender gap.

Most of all, they will be there in November.

https://www.lexico.com/explore/what-is-the-female-equivalent-of-a-misogynist

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/10/02/when-boy-meets-girl/

“Check out pressure washer George, he knows-all the chords; Mind, it’s strictly noise, he just wants to make it spray and waste.

“And leaf blower Paul doesn’t mind, if he ruins the neighborhood; He’s got a daytime job, screw everyone else.

“And then the chain-saw man he steps right up to starter rope; And says ‘at last’ just as the tree rings zing.

The motto of Eugene’s “Symphony” Orchestra: “Climate Change For Thee, Not For Me.”

The orchestra — pressure washers, leaf blowers, chain saws, wood chippers, grass edgers, lawn mowers — anything and everything that uses gas-powered internal combustion engines to waste gallons of water, emit dangerous pollutants into the air, and inflict noise pollution outdoors and indoors — is on tour this summer.

And best of all, the orchestra plays in your neighborhood with special all-day performances starting before 7 am on Sundays and holidays … or until the pressure washer, leaf blower, chain saw … is returned to the rental dude.

For Memorial Day, the Eugene Symphony Orchestra (ESO) submitted the following set list:

Come On, Hear The Noise

Mowers On The Storm

Leaf Blowing In The Wind

We’re Not Going To Rake It

Pressure Washer Blues

Think Globally, Forget Locally

Down The Drain

Screw The Polar Bears

Never Heard Of A Broom

What’s Your Problem?

Climate Change Hypocrites

Before 7 am, We’re Going To Let It All Hang Down

What The … ?

You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave

2020 Overture With Wood Chipper

Encore

Behind Red Eyes

You Got Fooled Again

One would think that a city (e.g., Eugene), which prides itself for its green consciousness (for everyone else), would take a stand against environmental degradation.

You would be wrong.

In Eugene … The “Band” Plays On … and on … and on.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/California-s-latest-pollution-push-Banning-14951305.php

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/pressure-washers-wood-chippers-leaf-blowers-oh-my/

California Cities and State Regulators Are Coming for Your Gas-Powered Leaf Blower

 

 

 

 

 

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” — US General George C. Patton (1885-1945)

“The Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him (her Presbyterian minister father) to vote. The Republicans did.” — Former U.S. Secretary of State and present Stanford provost Condoleezza Rice

“I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.” — President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

Some have suggested that we have never been so divided; some seem to be skipping over the Civil War.

Having made this necessary clarification, your author is reminded of a quote from an Auburn football fan about the annual Iron Bowl.

“In Alabama, it’s either ‘Roll Tide’ or ‘War Eagle,’ and once you choose, you are branded for life.”

‘You are either for me or you are against me.’ How many times have we heard that quote?

In reality, life is not that simple. It’s not always black and white. As citizens — not subjects — with free will, we don’t have “own” everything that goes along with political orthodoxy. In fact, we don’t need to forever embrace a particular political philosophy.

Having grown up in a Roman Catholic Democratic household in which John F. Kennedy was our family patron saint and Nixon’s first name was “damn,” it seemed that Almost DailyBrett would be relegated to lifelong subordination to the Democratic Party.

“It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low, and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the tax rates.” – President John F. Kennedy, Economic Club of New York, December 1962.

Kennedy’s quote and his strong military “quarantine” against Soviet missiles in Cuba, not the advocacy of a never-ending shutdown of the American economy, serves as a perfect example of the difference between the Democratic party then and the Democratic party now.

No Lightening Bolt Out Of The Sky

“Democrats, when they’re feeling alarmed or mischievous, will often say that Ronald Reagan would not recognize the current Republican Party. I usually respond that John F. Kennedy would not recognize the current Democratic Party, and would never succeed in it.” – Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan

Ronald Reagan didn’t transform your author into a “Reagan Democrat,” but instead a “Reagan Republican.” The Gipper’s celebrated epiphany occurred in 1962. For your author it was 20 years later. With time, Almost DailyBrett has grown to be even more neo-liberal and libertarian.

Buy Low Sell High.

There is a 100 percent correlation with your author leaving the ranks of those an eternal vow of poverty (e.g., political press corps) and joining the ranks of the well-compensated “dark side” (e.g., public relations … press director for the Deukmejian Campaign Committee). As George C. Scott in “Patton” said, “I love it. I love it, so.”

As an aforementioned Catholic your author expected a lightening bolt to strike me out of the sky, falling off the horse on the road to Damascus, and voting for Reagan that first time. As James Brown celebrated: “I Feel Good, So Good … “

Becoming a proud Reagan/Deukmejian Republican does not mean, yours truly buys into each and every policy position on the right side of the aisle. To this very day, Almost DailyBrett can state ex-cathedra, he doesn’t like guns, never did, never will. Bad people with guns, even those playing violent video games, are not good things.

Assault weapons are the worst. George Deukmejian said he saw absolutely no reason why anyone needed an assault weapon. We banned assault weapons in California. The NRA went fruit cake. Almost DailyBrett as press secretary strenuously defended that position; and supports that stance now.

There is no reason to be … predictable.

Voted Against The Clinton Restoration

Four years ago your author voted against the specter of a Clinton Restoration in the White House. Some believe in their hearts today they cast a good vote on behalf of a now increasingly bitter Hillary. There was zero chance of your author making that choice.

At the same, Almost DailyBrett was deeply troubled by Donald Trump’s decided lack of Reagan/Deukmejian political discipline. There was never any doubt about the philosophical direction of Ronald Reagan and George Deukmejian. You could agree with them or not agree with them, but there was no doubt where they stood.

As Reagan said in his last Republican Convention speech in 1992: “Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts.”

Reagan and Deukmejian were eternal optimists, not utopian and decidedly not dystopian.

Your author did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016 (writing in former Speaker Paul Ryan), the first time since the 1980s not supporting the GOP nominee.

Fast forward, Donald Trump is not any more politically disciplined now compared to four years ago (see TMI on Hydroxychloroquine), another self-inflicted public relations damage control fire drill.

Having said that, there is the president’s record including tax and regulatory relief, standing up to China, strengthened border controls, strict constructionalist judicial nominees, increasing military preparedness and no new wars. And let’s not forget the Covid-19 response and the reopening of America’s economy.

Alas, the Democrats have settled on Joe Biden. Not being the hated Trump apparently is good enough for them. Deep down, they really want New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Democrats can’t get what they want. Republicans are getting what they need.

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1894529_1894528_1894518,00.html

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1894529_1894528_1894522,00.html

https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/library/convention/chome/nreagan.html

 

 

“This is someone (President of the United States) whose grasp of science is at the third-grade level.” – New York Times science and health “beat” reporter Donald McNeil, Jr. during his May 12 CNN interview. He also called on the CDC’s Dr. Robert Redfield to resign.

“Donald McNeil went too far in expressing his personal views . His editors have discussed the issue with him to reiterate that his job is to report the facts and to not offer his own opinions.” — New York Times management rebuking McNeil

Reporters should not be part of the story, let alone be the story.

The acceleration of the decline in public esteem in elite media is not solely attributable to the Fourth Estate’s collective hatred of the president, and ensuing pack mentality that ensures that any reporter, correspondent, anchor can never be seen as being even a tiny bit sympathetic to Donald Trump.

It was the same pack mentality that unofficially declared any positive discussion of Trump’s 2016 electoral chances (exception: FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten) was strictly verboten in print, digital format and broadcast. In effect, the media became a major part of the story and may have unintentionally suppressed Hillary Clinton’s GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts, thus aiding and abetting Donald Trump’s narrow upset victory.

Almost DailyBrett noticed a disturbing trend years ago, even before Trump’s Apprentice days: Reporters interviewing reporters.

Wait. Aren’t reporters supposed to be covering news makers, the important achievers in our society? As a member of the great unwashed, your author wants to hear from Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx when it comes to virology, not Donald McNeil, Jr., who graduated summa cum laude from Cal Berkeley with an undergraduate degree in …  rhetoric.

And yet instead of a credentialed medical expert, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour was interviewing McNeil about the Covid-19 outbreak and America’s response.

On what basis of fact does McNeil conclude that President Trump’s grasp of science is at the “third grade level,” “sycophant” Vice President Mike Pence should not be serving as the chair of the Corona Virus Task Force, and CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield (MD, Georgetown University, 1977) should resign.

Should we all be wearing masks even outdoors, Dr. McNeil?

It’s a rare day when Almost DailyBrett totally agrees with the editors at the New York Times, but McNeil expressed his obviously biased political views and did not even attempt for even a nanosecond to report any facts. The rebuke from the New York Times was essentially a slap on the wrist.

Your author believes that if McNeil was to appear on one of the many ubiquitous reporters interviewing reporters shows, he should stick to his coverage based upon facts learned. Now that he has called for Redfield to resign from his leadership at the Centers for Disease Control, how can McNeil cover the agency fairly?

McNeil is now jaded and exposed. He needs to be taken off the beat. He is not impartial. All of his subsequent copy is now and forever suspect. The fault is McNeil’s, and McNeil’s alone.

The next time McNeil editorializing occurs (Almost DailyBrett is taking the “over”), the blame will be directed to the management of the New York Times.

Taking A Vow Of Poverty

“It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.” — CBS Anchor Walter Cronkite, Feb. 27, 1968

Your author remembers J-School back in the Stone Age (1975-1978).

We learned how to gather facts and report the news professionally, fairly and objectively with the views of both sides represented regardless of our personal expression.

As we all took a vow of poverty, our opinions were irrelevant and most of all … should not enter into our copy or scripts.

What mattered were the ex-cathedra statements and fallacies of our elected leaders. We were there to cover them … not to preach, pontificate or bloviate. Right, Jim Acosta of CNN?

And there it is, Washington Week In Review on PBS with panelists enlisted from more than 100 reporters (curiously none from cable market leader, Fox News). Each Friday night, if you didn’t have anything better to do, reporters kibbutz and provide you with their hallowed personal opinions. The “interpretation” disease is now widespread and mutating.

One commenter pointed to Almost DailyBrett’s admiration of the professionalism and demand for both sides of any story to be covered by revered former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite. It was the very same Cronkite, who based upon years of coverage including on the ground in Southeast Asia declared the Vietnam War as a “stalemate.

Wasn’t Cronkite offering his opinion?

He was making a conclusion based on the on-the-ground facts immediately following the Tet Offensive, which made it clear the Communists had grabbed the upper hand in Vietnam. Declaring the Vietnam War as a “stalemate” was actually a mild description. America lost the war. The end came with helicopters on the roof of the collapsing American embassy in Saigon in 1975.

Isn’t Cronkite’s Vietnam declaration the same as McNeil’s opinion making?

Incorporating Cronkite and McNeil in the same sentence, besmirches the good name of 1972’s “Most Trusted Man In America.”

https://www.cnn.com/videos/health/2020/05/12/donald-g-mcneil-jr-senate-hearing-coronavirus-sot-amanpour-vpx.cnn

https://www.pbs.org/weta/washingtonweek/panelists

https://www.usnews.com/news/ken-walshs-washington/articles/2018-02-27/50-years-ago-walter-cronkite-changed-a-nation

“Yes, most likely.” — Boeing President and CEO David L. Calhoun asked if one of his airline customers will go out of business

Three little devastating words.

What is one of the Golden Rules of Public Relations? Don’t answer hypotheticals.

“What happens if the sun slams into the earth?

You can think we would all fry and die and the markets would close early, but you have the right to keep your thoughts to yourself and to deliver a boring response to a reporter, anchor or correspondent.

Today’s Savannah Guthrie asked Calhoun if an airline (e.g., one of Boeing’s customer) could go under, and he uttered those three little words starting with “Yes.”

Guess what? The entire airline sector took a dive (pardon the poor Almost DailyBrett pun) as well as one of their chief suppliers … that would be … Boeing. The company’s PR department reportedly tried to “walk back” Calhoun’s gaffe, but as they say … ‘You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

Almost DailyBrett must first ask: Why “Today”?  Why now?

Even before Covid-19 sell-off, the company was responsible for two Boeing 737 Max-8 failure airplane crashes. As a former shareholder, your author knows the airline passenger market is on its back. Boeing turned into a ‘sell.’ It’s still a ‘sell.’

What’s the “great” news to bestow to the aeronautics rocket scientists at Today. Considering that Boeing is the ultimate B2B (business-to-business) is Today’s audience, your audience? Wouldn’t CNBC, Fox Business, Wall Street Journal or even Aviation Week be more appropriate media for Boeing?

Your Mother Always Told You To Tell The Truth

So did Immanuel Kant.

A former Silicon Valley colleague made a valid point that Boeing boss Calhoun should be given credit for telling the truth, and nothing but the truth.

True, but Calhoun went too far. Questions about the financial health of each and everyone of Boeing’s airline customers should be left to the … carriers themselves.

What was the alternative (besides declining the Today interview request)? How about not responding to the question, simply acknowledge the interrogative, say you can’t speak for individual airlines and pivot the discussion back to Boeing. The technique is known as Acknowledge-Bridge-SOCO (Strategic Operating Communications Objective).

SOCO is the answer, which coincides with predetermined before the Today interview Boeing’s agenda, not the wishes of Mizz Guthrie.

As a former press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian, your author and our press office staff parried each and every hypothetical question. It was our rule. It was our political discipline.

Consider one of the many questions that we received about legislation pending in the state Legislature, and whether the governor would sign or veto a bill? Unless it was one of the rare cases in which the governor deliberately wanted to send a discouraging message in advance — the bill would be DOA — we implemented our sacrosanct rule about not responding to hypotheticals.

Reporters would often voice their displeasure, but our answer made sense … bills are often amended. They are shelved in committee. They fail on the floor of one or the other house. You can’t make a judgment on a bill if and until it reaches the governor in its final form.

In governance, it’s sound public policy to plan for the future — California 2010 project in 1987. The Golden State foresaw the equivalent of the population of the State of Illinois moving to California. That prediction turned out to be true.

Having said that, there is zero upside with thinking out loud in the on-the-record presence of a reporter. Unless you have the internal green light from your management to float a trial balloon, the practice of speculating about the future is inherently dangerous.

And if you do venture into the hypothetical minefield, mind your own knitting (one metaphor following another),

Calhoun’s greatest sin in the eyes of Almost DailyBrett was conjecturing out loud about the business future of one of Boeing’s customers. That’s the carrier’s prerogative and responsibility, not Boeing, the B2B supplier.

Boeing’s PR department deserves more than its fair share of blame for this gaffe. Today was a bad choice at the worst time possible.

Calhoun was not adequately media trained, particularly when it comes to never answering hypotheticals.

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/coronavirus-pandemic-could-force-major-u-s-airline-out-business-n1205036

http://www.boeing.com/company/bios/david-l-calhoun.page

 

 

Which Californian would you rather have running your business: Tim Cook or Gavin Newsom?

Taking into account that Covid-19 indiscriminately hit both Apple and the State of California at the same time in the same place, which entity performed better under nearly identical circumstances?

Under Governor Gavin Newsom’s watch, California with the nation’s highest income taxes (13.3 percent at the apex) and an average sales tax of 8.66 percent recently reported its record $21 billion surplus is now an unprecedented $54.3 billion deficit … that’s a staggering $75.3 billion switch if you are scoring at home. Nonetheless, the state found $75 million in the form of a pander payment to California illegal aliens.

Will they be eligible to vote … some day?

As the chief executive officer of $260 billion Apple with $44 billion in cash reserves, Tim Cook just announced the reopening some of Apple’s national stores this week with many more to follow. The company achieved a 37.8 percent gross margin and 14.3 percent to the bottom line in FY 2019, returning quarterly dividends of $0.82 per share for its shareholders.

As a member of the growing California Diaspora and a best-in-breed investor, who would Almost DailyBrett choose as a responsible fiscal steward?

Hint: Apple shares are up 7.25 percent this year, despite the Corona virus. As CNBC’s Jim Cramer repeatedly has proclaimed, he is only interested in a stock’s future. Share prices are a leading … not trailing … indicator of future performance.

Apple is a leader. California is a laggard.

The same is true with other best-in-breed publicly traded companies including Salesforce.com, Gilead Sciences, Lululemon Athletica, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Nike, NVIDIA and Starbucks. Is the present iteration of California anywhere close to … best in breed?

If California was publicly traded, would a responsible investor select the Golden State or no state income tax Texas and/or Florida?

As the former press secretary for the former Governor of California George Deukmejian (1928-2018), my love for the Golden State is true … your author loathes the present crew in Sacramento. Just ask Tesla boss Elon Musk.

Peddling A False Choice

The bull statue on Wall Street and the True Value hardware store on Main Street are not mutually exclusive.

The countless suggestions of a Berlin Wall type of divide between the two streets is a false choice. Even the stately The Economist fell into this trap.

The reason is simple, millions of investors who live on Main Street, the side streets and the suburbs. Gallup reported that 55 percent of Americans own stocks and/or stock based mutual funds … before Covid 19. America’s Investor Class certainly took a hit with the virus, but there are tangible results indicating without any doubt that investors are coming back, money is coming off the sidelines … heck the NASDAQ is up for the year.

Those who project the end of Capitalism may even be the same to predict the Republicans were the Whigs of the 21st Century, heading for extinction. Whatever happened to these rocket scientists?

Many in America’s investor class are fond of ETFs or Exchange Traded Funds and other versions of mutual funds. Your author is an investor in Fidelity’s Contrafund with $112 billion assets under management (AUM). The fund invests in large caps including Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway (think Warren Buffett), Adobe, Google …

Cash needs to be a significant portion of any responsible portfolio, which should include a mutual fund or two.

Almost DailyBrett must pause and ask the investor class (anyone who would care to listen), how about being the manager of your own mutual fund (no fees or commissions)? Why not build a portfolio with your own selection of best-in-breed stocks (e.g., Apple)?

To some, this approach may be too risky. To others, do you really need a paid-by-you investment advisor to tell you that Nike is the number athletic apparel manufacturer in the world? Why not buy the stock when the next inevitable dip comes around?

Buy Low Sell High.

For the most part, America’s Investor Class radiates out from Main Street. To suggest that Wall Street needs to be reined in and economic freedom should be curtailed by those who determine the so-called Public Good is contrary to the best interests of millions investing for retirement, a child’s education, a dream house or a new business.

It takes a free market to raise a child.

Wall Street is Main Street.

P.S. Be careful about investing in The State of California.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/05/07/the-market-v-the-real-economy?

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/07/california-faces-a-staggering-54-billion-budget-deficit-due-to-economic-devastation-from-coronavirus.html

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/10/apple-reports-fourth-quarter-results/

State and Local Sales Tax Rates, 2020

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/15/california-to-give-cash-payments-to-immigrants-hurt-by-coronavirus.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/06/20/californias-growing-diaspora/

What Percent Of Americans Own Stocks?

State Individual Income Tax Rates and Brackets for 2020

“Mr. Biden’s word is insufficient to dispel the cloud. Any inventory should be strictly limited to information about Ms. Reade and conducted by an unbiased, apolitical panel, put together by the D.N.C. and chosen to foster as much trust in its findings as possible.” — New York Times editorial,  May 1, 2020

“I thought it was an ‘Onion’ headline, not a New York Times headline. They should be embarrassed for themselves for even suggesting that idea.” — Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders

The Democratic National Committee should be tasked with oversight of an “unbiased, apolitical” into sexual dalliances to restore “trust” in its presumptive nominee for President, Joe Biden?

Almost DailyBrett must stop right here and ask: How can anyone combine DNC — let alone the RNC — and the words, “unbiased” and “apolitical” in the same sentence? The national committees of the two respective parties are the most political beings on this planet.

That’s why they exist.

Take for example the self-described “abortion access” reporter for CBS News, Kate Smith. She’s on the front lines with Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and other abortion providers/advocates. CBS has to know that Smith is a fully committed advocate posing as reporter.  And yet the “Big Three” network tolerates this masquerade?

Why doesn’t Planned Parenthood simply hire Smith as its lead spokeswoman … and cut out the middle man?

Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks played the roles of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee in the heralded movie, “The Post.” The plot line revolved around the decision of the Post management to publish “The Pentagon Papers,” a former Secretary of State Robert McNamara authorized study by Rand Corporation about the conditions on the ground in the Vietnam War.

It wasn’t pretty.

There were political threats. There was the prospect of a failed IPO for the Post on Wall Street. There were those who simply thought Katherine Graham couldn’t do the job. The Washington Post asserted its independence, and published the Rand Report.

CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, went to Southeast Asia, and came back with the truth. The Vietnam War was indeed, a “stalemate.”

Mass Media, An Oxymoron?

I always say mass media is now an oxymoron, because there is no mass media, really. Everyone’s getting their information and their content from different places, often those that affirm their preexisting beliefs.”  — Veteran television host/anchor Katie Couric

Some apologists may be tempted blame the media’s obvious loss of cherished independence and corresponding decline in public trust and approval as simply a reflection of the national divide in the Age of Trump. Too easy.

Consider the media’s record when it comes to the linkage between political philosophy and zippers. Your author has always contended that once the zipper comes down … it will always come down.

In chronological order there was the media belief in Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas (1991); the “It was consensual” mantra (1998);  The Me Too pile-on against Brett Kavanaugh (2019) and now … the call for the Democratic National Committee to serve as the Praetorian Guard of the Biden-raided hen-house.

There is a obvious pattern here, and more importantly there is the loss of professed independence of the media. Sides have been taken, and the loser is the general public, which has a right to know.

If the media ever regains its vaunted independence, it could go back to providing the nation and the world with news and information without stenographic interpretations. Will it cost a few shekels? Whattyathink CNN?

There were decades when CBS was fiercely independent when Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite held sway. Alas, next came disgraced anchor Dan Rather, who could not and would not suppress his partisan sympathies.

The rest is history. CBS and the vast majority of its brethren have changed their missions, seeing their new job to simply affirm preexisting viewpoints. And the result?

As General George C. Patton once said: “If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.”

https://thehill.com/homenews/media/495989-sanders-mocks-ny-times-urging-dnc-to-investigate-biden-allegations-i-thought

https://www.foxnews.com/media/katie-couric-says-americans-watch-news-for-affirmation-not-information-seek-to-confirm-preexisting-beliefs

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/04/donald-trump-media-journalists-dont-bother-to-hide-partisanship/?

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/oppositional-journalism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/dan-rather-father-of-affirmational-journalism/

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/04/planned-parenthoods-ambassador-to-cbs-news/?

 

Remember the opening scene of “Basic Instinct”?

The boiled bunny? Wrong movie.

Sharon Stone was the ultimate femme fatale in that movie and countless others, and drew an inordinate amount of attention from the male of the species in particular during her incredible career.

Judging from recent headlines and the cavalcade of Internet images, the queen-in-waiting of Democratic Socialism North Korea’s Royal Family is drawing more than her share of publicity. And who would have thought that was possible, when it comes to murderous North Korea?

It all started with Kim Yo Yong’s appearance at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang South Korea. North Korea’s charm offensive obviously worked (she is the head of North Korea’s propaganda) as the media was falling all over themselves trying to take one more still or record one more video of the leading lady of the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The fact that Vice President Mike Pence gave her the cold shoulder, added a juicy element of conflict to the story. The fascination with Kim Jong Un’s sister intensified, transforming the snub into an international incident.

Almost DailyBrett will attempt to be charitable, her big brother is her mirror opposite. Chubby Kim Jong Un is a dork, extremely unpredictable and dangerous … but still a dork. And that hair cut? Who would cop to being his hair “stylist”?

A follicly challenged male in a glass house should not be throwing rocks, but your author cannot resist the temptation.

And yet even the intellectually stuffy magazine, Foreign Affairs, acknowledged what it describes as the prurient global interest in the Supreme Leader’s sibling. From a public relations standpoint, telegenic women have a proven track record of successfully softening a nation’s image. The ultimate challenge is moving the public relations dial when it comes to optics of he world’s most abrasive, repressive and desultory state, North Korea.

Just as the beautiful and mysterious, almost covered by her long hair siren Lorelei mythically led sailors on the Rhine to their deaths, a consumer warning should be attached to 32-years-young Kim Yo. Those who ruminate in their sleep about a first date with her in Pyongyang, should consider that encounter may be very quickly become the last date. North Korea does not stop being North Korea.

Besides, she’s married.

A Little Family Feud?

“She’d probably have to shoot a lot of people to assert her authority.” — Peter Ward, writer and researcher on North Korea, University of Vienna

Even Kim Yo Jong’s ascendancy to the red throne of North Korea, assuming the untimely potential passing of her stressed-out, hard drinking, heavy smoking “supreme leader” brother, reportedly she has other family members to fear (e.g., including her repeatedly passed over uncle). But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves.

Keep in mind even in ultra-macho North Korea, she is the grand daughter of communist state founder Kim Il Sung and the daughter of his first son, Kim Jong Il … and as mentioned the sister of Kim Jong Un. Reportedly, lineage matters in Korean culture, and it may even usurp … sexism.

Could North Korea crown a woman chief of state before the United States of America? There have been others (i.e. Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Israel’s Golda Meir, Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto … ), but none triggers the intrigue and outright danger of Kim Yo Yang (think nuclear missiles and legendary paranoia).

Some have contended that men en masse have misgivings about strong assertive women. Okay. At the same time, many men were fond, if not transfixed with the risk and danger associated with the parts played by Sharon Stone. She came across as the ultimate babe in total control of herself.

Right, Michael Douglas?

Is Kim Yo Jong is control of herself? Would that be the case, if she wasn’t born into a particular family? Are her life prospects long or relatively short? What we don’t know about North Korea could fill volumes.

What we do know is, Kim Yo Jong has grabbed the attention of the world.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/01/why-we-shouldnt-rule-out-woman-north-koreas-next-leader/

https://www.businessinsider.com/kim-yo-jong-kim-jong-un-sister-life-bio-photos-2018-2#like-many-of-kims-family-members-kim-yo-jongs-exact-age-is-difficult-to-pin-down-but-shes-believed-to-be-in-her-early-30s-likely-born-in-1989-1

https://nypost.com/2020/04/29/kim-jong-uns-sister-has-been-gaining-power-in-north-korea-report/

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/statue-of-loreley

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/feminizing-the-fatherland/

The Internet Likes Kim Yo Jong a Little Too Much

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