Category: Big Markets Small Markets


“To liberals, the US is not good enough for the world. To conservatives, the world is not good enough for the US.” — Pulitzer Winning Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018)

My dear wife Jeanne and your author walked 125 miles, an average of 6.8 miles per day, during the course of 20 August vacation days, spanning three European nations: Austria, France and Germany.

We even dared visit  Paris in Verboten August, and were greeted by beautiful weather, easy access to restaurants and virtually no lines for Versailles and The Louvre. Wasn’t anything and everything supposed to be closed for vacation?

One never missed the living Renoir-style impressionism of the sidewalk cafes in France and the beer gardens in Austria and Germany, and could easily come away with the conclusion that all Europeans are happy, content and satisfied.

Touring the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, visitors are easily impressed with the union of 28 countries, speaking 24 separate languages, and serving as the home of 512 million people working together — sometimes in harmony — as members of the European Union (EU). Europe for the most part recorded almost 75 years of sustained peace since the establishment of the EU, rather than being at each other’s collective throats.

And yet there are storm clouds that won’t go away easily, namely Brexit.

A plethora of higher moral ground activists point to Denmark, Norway and Sweden as “happy little” royal countries. They rhetorically pose: ‘Why couldn’t the US be more like them?’ Almost DailyBrett must reply: We rebelled against monarchy (telling King George III where to put his royal scepter), so why wouldn’t we automatically reject monarchy, even constitutional monarchy?

If the expressed goal is true socialist justice, then how can one accept all the state-sponsored extravagance being bestowed upon the ultimate winners of a biological lottery, those born into a royal family? Versailles in France and Neuschwanstein in Germany are vivid examples of monarchial excesses, which ended with the King Louis XVI being guillotined and Mad King Ludwig II mysteriously drowning.

And yet dynastic monarchy is still being practiced in the three aforementioned Scandinavian countries, plus Belgium, Netherlands, Spain and of course, the United Kingdom. If the social justice types complain bitterly about the top 1 percent in America, how can they tolerate the birth-right exclusive … 0.000000000001 percent … in Europe?

Certainly, America has its own issues particularly when it comes to personal health, namely obesity, Diabetes, Opioids and more. Does that mean the vast majority of Europeans are better when it comes to waistlines and personal health? For the most part the answer is, yes.

However, the collective European commitment to the environment and public health abruptly ends with smoking. The deadly habit and its directly related second-hand smoke is right beside you in Europe, literally everywhere.

The warnings on packs of smokes are not mushy as is custom in the states. Even a non-German speaker can easily understand Rauchen kann ist tödlich sein (e.g., Smoking can be deadly), and still one can easily conclude the filthy practice is alive and dead on the European continent (some reportedly inhale to stay skinny). Most likely, they will have beautiful corpses.

Visiting Strasbourg in Alsace Lorraine in France and Baden-Baden in Germany’s Baden Württemberg, it’s easy to reflect on how many times these French-German towns have traded management teams at the point of the bayonet, particularly the former. The Germans took control in 1871, the French took it back in 1918, the Germans again in 1940 and then the French in 1944.

Is there any place in America that has been the subject of that many repeated wars in the 150 years? The answer is an obvious, no.

Let’s face it, a huge reason why Europe has remained peaceful for the past three generations has been the continued placement of U.S. troops and weapons systems in Western Europe during and after the Cold War. Europeans should write thank you notes to US taxpayers. Time for Europe to pay up in the form of their required 2 percent annual GDP equivalents to fund the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, otherwise known by the acronym, NATO

The French in particular were notorious (read: Charles DeGaulle) for not acknowledging our leadership in the liberation of France. Thankfully, French President Emmanuel Macron, gladly speaking English, has pointed to the countless U.S. GI graves in Normandy and recognized our role.

Sorry to say, Denmark did not liberate France and end Nazi and Communist tyranny in Europe. It was the United States in the forefront … of course.

Some complain about the presence of US corporate logos all over Europe, particularly Starbucks, McDonald’s, Apple, KFC, Amazon, Nike etc. The same concentration of European brands is not seen (exception: legendary German cars … BMW, Daimler, Audi, Porsche) other than French cosmetics and Spain’s Zara.

Let’s face it, there is no Silicon Valley in Europe and the entrepreneurial venture capital culture is not the same, maybe with the exception of Germany’s business software provider, SAP or Systemen, Anwedungen und Programmen (Systems, Applications and Programs).

When it comes to market performance you can’t beat America’s NYSE and the NASDAQ, sorry Britain’s “Footsie,”France’s CAC-40 and Germany’s DAX. And if you want to tie up your disposable investment income for 10 years in government bonds, which guarantee a certain loss … Europe (e.g., 10-year BUND) is at your beckon call.

Buy high and sell low?

Having traveled to Europe four times in the last five years for holiday, and many times before for business and pleasure (no one goes to Brussels for kicks), Almost DailyBrett qualifies as a spirited Europhile. Having said that, your author is a proud American.

Denmark may be happy. Good for the Danes and their lovely harbor mermaid.

When it comes to changing the world for the better, there is no contest. Europe en-masse cannot compete against the U.S. when it comes to being truly exceptional. This reality may drive certain elitists crazy, but your author has to call ’em as he sees ’em.

https://beta.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/charles-krauthammer-pulitzer-prize-winning-columnist-and-intellectual-provocateur-dies-at-68/2018/06/21/b71ee41a-759e-11e8-b4b7-308400242c2e_story.html

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/tradition/g12797004/current-monarchy-countries-in-the-world-list/

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/g19733989/happiest-countries-in-the-world-2018/

 

 

 

“Anytime. Any Place. Any Conditions.” — Former Oregon basketball coach Dick Harter discussing 4 am practices.

“I’d kick off at 6 a.m. When you wake up — if you’re a college football player or coach, you want to wake up and you want to play football.” — UCLA Football Coach Chip Kelly.

Does the “Anytime” motto really apply to long-suffering Pac-12 fans, including the select oh-so-few who chose to show up for the conference “championship” game last December?

Does anybody actually care about the good folks who make generous athletic department contributions and buy football season tickets?

For Almost DailyBrett, this fall will mark his 30th as an Oregon season ticket holder. Your author is therefore entitled to ask:

When is Oregon playing Stanford? To-Be-Determined, TBD.

When is Oregon playing Washington? TBD.

When is Oregon playing USC? TBD.

When is the kickoff for the Civil War game between Oregon and Oregon State? TBD

And who is doing the To-Be-Determining?

Are we waiting for the 12 university presidents and athletic directors to set the times for these games and hundreds more? Fat chance.

The universities have absolutely no say when it comes to answering the week-by-week TBD questions. Pac-12 universities in particular prostitute themselves to the sports networks.

The $5.3 million paid yearly Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is now exploring 9 am PDT/PST kickoffs in order to ensure conference teams make the football highlight shows in God’s anointed Eastern and Central time zones. Highlight shows?

What? Larry, you just received a $500,000 annual pay raise for that “outside the box” thinking?

Bloody Mary breakfast tailgates as the sun rises over the stadium parking lot? Middle of the night drives home?

Anybody consider the safety of the fans?

“We Don’t Control Our Schedule And When We Kick Off” 

(Washington Coach Chris Petersen) “should be thanking ESPN for actually having a relationship.” – ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit.

“The hardest thing with Saturdays is when you wake up and then you’ve got to wait until 7 at night. But we’re also big on we don’t control our schedule and when we kick off. So tell us where it is and when we’re kicking off, and we’ll be there.” — Chip Kelly

Who runs the Pac-12 universities? ESPN and Fox or the university presidents?

As a proud capitalist Almost DailyBrett understands that cash is king, and that obviously applies to contract broadcast fees.

Bur isn’t the money donated by alumni (e.g., Phil Knight), just as green? How about university athletic fund members and season ticket holders?

We know the university presidents and athletic directors are in bed with the networks, but what about the fans who fill up the stadiums and buy over-priced beer, snacks and trinkets?

Oregon’s first two-games against Auburn and Nevada are set for 4:30 pm(PDT) kickoffs. Sounds good.

Oregon’s next game against Montana is scheduled for a 7:45 pm start or 10:45 pm in the EDT and 9:45 pm CDT. What’s the point for such a late kickoff when virtually no one in the Eastern and Central time zones will watch the game?

Pac-12 (programming) After-Dark?

More importantly, why should Oregon fans wait until every other football game is played that day (September 14), and then be faced with a midnight drive back home. Heck, isn’t it easier to simply watch the game at home in high-definition comfort?

Maybe that is the point for the networks. Why not play these games in sterile studios instead of near-empty stadiums and forget about the fans?

Making The Pac-12 Great Again?

Don’t university administrators want to bring alumni back to campus for some school spirit, social inebriation, and some check writing too?

How about the energy that comes from the student section?

Why can’t the Pac-12 presidents huddle with overpaid and overrated conference commissioner Larry Scott and declare:

Our football games are going to be played between 12:30 pm PDT/PST and 5 pm PDT/PST, which are the best times for our fans whether they are attending in person or watching on television. We provide great content to ESPN, Fox, Pac-12 Network and others. They are welcome to cover our games.”

Undoubtedly Harvard-Head lawyer Scott will point to existing television contracts and the fact that every Pac-12 game is televised. Keep in mind that contracts expire. They are typically renewed. Let’s get better terms.

Almost DailyBrett has noted those  poor souls, who were born in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, lost the biological lottery. We are two-or-three hours behind the rest of the nation. That’s a fact of life, but not an excuse.

Why don’t we concentrate on Making The Pac-12 Great Again?

Let’s schedule our football games, particularly homecoming contests, at times and places, which are convenient for the vast majority of our fans, alumni and students.  If the East of the Hudson types want to believe we all exist in Baskets of Deplorables, we can only conclude that mindset says more about them than us.

The Pac-12 universities, their respective presidents and athletic directors need to declare their independence — or at least co-existence for the good people who matter — alumni, students and friends, those who actually go to the games.

https://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/2019/05/canzano-pac-12s-biggest-news-commissioner-larry-scott-got-a-raise-to-5300000-a-year.html

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/27259246/pac-12-commish-exploring-idea-9-games

https://goducks.com/schedule.aspx?path=football

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/pac-12-after-midnight/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/the-conference-of-champions/

 

The Dow Jones closed for the first time ever more than 27,000.

The S&P 500 recorded a record close exceeding 3,000.

The NASDAQ passed 8,000 and has been in and out of record territory.

America’s economy has been growing for 121 months, and the bull market is advancing at a record pace.

The combination of rising markets, nearly 3 percent annualized GDP growth, record low unemployment of 3.7 percent, inflation under 2 percent and interest rates set to decline under 2.25 percent will not last forever … but these factors are here right now.

Three years ago, Gallup projected that 52 percent of Americans own stocks and stock-based mutual funds. That 2016 figure preceded the election of Donald Trump and the corresponding rises in the Dow, S&P 500 and the NASDAQ.

Gallup also recorded that 37 percent of younger Americans under 35 are invested, reflecting overall cautiousness by millennials.

Earth to critics of Capitalism/advocates of Socialism: America’s investor class is not 1 percent, but more than half of all Americans (e.g., 170 million).

Almost DailyBrett is convinced these investor class market participation figures are low, reflecting the residual impact of the 2008 recession. They do not take into account our robust economic expansion, record low unemployment and un pequeno inflation.

In 2007, 65 percent of Americans invested in stocks and stock-based mutual funds. Your author will take the “over” that market participation number has now reached 60 percent, and continues to climb.

Whether they are active or passive investors, these Americans constitute a high-propensity-to-vote investor class. They vote on America’s future (and their own) through their investments mainly of U.S. based large caps.

Will America’s investor class, those who own stocks and/or stock-based mutual funds decide a continued or new direction of the nation?

Some poor souls seem to correlate America’s investors with a Monaco-sized sliver of our population. Woe is to those who do not invest.

Socialism and its media allies assert that those with greater discretionary funds are more prone to invest in markets. Why do they believe this undeniable fact is a revelation?

While some prefer to make a racket protesting before the cameras in the streets, others … millions of others … are quietly investing in living longer, their health care, their children’s education and their happy retirement.

As they say on the airlines: “Put on your own mask, before assisting others.” These Americans with discretionary income have the ability to contribute to charities and donate resources to make America a better place.

With every key stroke on a retail trading site (e.g., Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, eTrade) or making another contribution to their personal IRA or their 401K at work, these hard-working Americans are quietly making a stand.

They proudly believe in buying low and selling high. They have the economic freedom to earn a profit.

They are economic freedom loving individuals taking direct control of their futures.

Almost DailyBrett wonders why these good decent hardworking overachievers are being vilified simply by putting their hard-earned, already taxed discretionary dollars to work.

America’s Investor Class is the Salt of the Earth and the Backbone of America, if you don’t mind a few metaphors.

Defending Economic Freedom

Why is “profit” such a dirty word to so many?

Doesn’t profit or bottom line mean a business … can stay in business?

Don’t jobs, opportunities, security and yes, tax revenues, alight from successful enterprises?

And yet Almost DailyBrett is becoming increasingly troubled by the onslaught against America’s investor class, and the war on economic freedom.

As we continue into the “silly season” of American politics, we hear proposals to raise tax rates to 70 percent or more, impose a 2 percent “surcharge” on assets, introduce a 0.1 percent tax on each and every stock, mutual fund and bond trade.

There are those who want to eliminate private health insurance for 180 million, provide taxpayer health care for illegal aliens, introduce an 18 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) to fund Universal Basic Income (UBI) for those who want to play video games all day.

Heaven forbid, but these silly season proposals could become the laws of the land. The more capital that is redistributed by a predatory government is less money for America’s Dreamers, the Investor Class.

Some complain about income inequality, when 73 percent of college graduates (B.A. or above) and 83 percent of advanced degree recipients (M.A., M.S., Ph.D) invest in markets. One can make a compelling argument that education leads to a separation between the haves and have nots of discretionary income and thus, the investor class.

Should we shut off access to education to achieve social justice? Or should we teach students to understand and intelligently invest in markets?

Almost DailyBrett believes we should adopt policies to expand America’s Investor Class and defend Economic Freedom.

The nearly 170 million members of America’s Investor Class are high propensity. They will vote in 2020.

Wonder which party and candidates will earn their votes?

https://news.gallup.com/topic/stocks.aspx

https://news.gallup.com/poll/233699/young-americans-wary-investing-stocks.aspx

https://www.financialsamurai.com/what-percent-of-americans-own-stocks/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/03/10/my-congressman-wants-to-double-tax-our-retirement/

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/newt-gingrich-trump-democrats-pelosi-mcgovern

 

 

 

Walking along Berlin’s Tiergarten park trails, one must be wary of stepping in the Hundehaufen.

On virtually any street in the permissive sanctuary city San Francisco, one is hard pressed to avoid encountering Peoplehaufen as well as needles and refuse.

San Francisco has long been a donut with a hole in the middle. The multi-millionaires of Rincon Tower literally must negotiate homeless, druggies and poop droppings to enter and leave their trendy lofty pads. The middle class is nowhere to be found.

Has a stinking pile of human poop replaced the brown bear as California’s mascot?

Is the abandoned high-speed train from nowhere (e.g., Bakersfield) to nowhere (e.g., Merced) become another metaphor for a one-party autocratic state in which so much as gone so wrong, way too fast?

The Golden State with about 12 percent of the country’s population is the “home” to approximately 135,000 homeless or 22 percent of the nation’s total.

For the first time after the 2010 census, California did not gain a new congressional district (electoral vote). After the next census, the Golden State will contract by one congressional district, and actually lose an electoral vote.

Part of the reason is a serious undercount (unreporting undocumented folks) by the state’s population experts. The other reason is people are leaving (net 1 million or 2.5 percent of California’s American resident population outflow in 10 years ending in 2016), accelerating the growing Golden State diaspora.

California will move from 55 to only 54 electoral votes – still the most in the nation – and yet the 40-million person state has less sway over the presidential general election winner.

The blue state is in the bag. Republicans can still raise money in California – The Mother’s Milk of Politics – only to spend it in states that matter (i.e., Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida).

California can still brag about its fantabulous weather, the software and hardware geeks of Silicon Valley, and how its $3 trillion GDP places California only behind the U.S., China, Japan and Germany in business productivity (not business climate).

The only problem with these assertions is they were all true back in the 1980s, when the author of Almost DailyBrett served for eight years as a chief message developer and spokesperson for California Governor George Deukmejian.

California was a “Great State” with a “Great Governor” back then. You can’t make that assertion today, not even close.

In the following decade, your author served in a similar capacity for Silicon Valley’s largest industry, the microcircuit designers and manufacturers.

Being modest, Almost DailyBrett knows a thing or two about California. Alas your author, similar to so many others is viewing California with great regret across state lines (e.g., no sales tax, lower cost Oregon).

Speaking ex-cathedra, the chances are slim and none – and “Slim” is out of town – that your author will ever again reside in über-congested California with its stratospheric property values, staggering high taxes of every sort imaginable, and intractable problems including rampant homelessness, acute Central Valley poverty, illegal immigration and yes, poop on the streets.

Want to purchase for $840,000 or more a 1,000-square feet fixer-upper 1905-era bungalow with an annual $9,000 property tax bill in God-awful San Jose? Undoubtedly, it is freeway close to your work in bucolic Milpitas five miles away. It will only take 45-minutes to get there.

No Checks. No Balances

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – John Dalberg-Acton, English politician, historian and writer

California is in dire need of an “Iron Duke.”

Alas, the Duke passed away and undoubtedly resides in heaven. What could he be thinking as he looks down at what was once the greatest state in the nation on his watch, only to see it easily passed by no-state income tax Texas and Florida?

Governor George Deukmejian refused to raise taxes to close a $1.5 billion deficit, a going away gift from his predecessor Jerry Brown. California’s vibrant economy with all Golden State geographies contributing, retired that staggering debt (1980s dollars) in less than one year without demanding taxpayers dig deeper into their wallets.

Next month, California will once again increase its highest gas taxes in the country (an excise tax of $0.473 on top of a $2.25 per gallon state sales tax). The state income tax regime ranges from 1 percent to 13.3 percent. The sales tax in Los Angeles County is (gasp), 10.5 percent.

Believe it or not, San Francisco City County is lower at 8.75 percent.

In 10 days, California with its record $21.5 billion surplus will surpass New Jersey as the state imposing the largest tax burden on its citizens. Something is not working in California. Will another tax, another entitlement, another social engineering scheme save the day?

Similar to other one-party “C” states (i.e., China, Cuba), California needs a loyal opposition, a few brave souls to demand that homo-sapien poop on the streets is not an acceptable representation of what once was, The Golden State.

Heroes are hard to find in Sacramento these days.

Oh heck, let’s just enjoy another California $15 six-pack with 10.5 percent sales tax and mandated deposit fee. Cheers.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/06/california-third-world-state-corruption-crime-infrastructure/

https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-california-economy-gdp-20180504-story.html

https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-democrats-census-trump-2020-20180125-story.html

https://lao.ca.gov/laoecontax/article/detail/265

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

“Neutrality for the sake of neutrality doesn’t really serve us in the age of Trump.” – Jim Acosta, author of “The Enemy of the People”

“The (CNN) chief White House correspondent is saying out loud that Trump is so dangerous that he cannot be neutral, which is another word for ‘fair.’” – Howard Kurtz on Acosta’s “stunning admission”

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the least fair of them all?

Jim Acosta is the greatest correspondent in the history of the planet, and if you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett … just ask him.

His network and many others are invested in demise of one Donald Trump, never mind the 62 million Americans who voted for POTUS #45 in 2016 or more importantly, the 306 electoral votes he compiled.

Story ideas that are favorable to the president are discarded or damned with faint praise, and any morsel — no matter how sketchy the source — is seized upon by the frothing apex predators at CNN and other liberal networks.

They were certain that Madam Secretary would win the presidency.

They were counting on Robert Müller to produce a report that would end the age of Trump.

They are rooting and championing any Democrat with a heartbeat and pulse running for president.

Almost DailyBrett started his studies at the USC School of Journalism in the heady media days following the Watergate Scandal and the resignation of Richard Nixon.

The standard as enunciated by the Most Trusted Man in America, CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, was the imperative to secure and accurately present both sides of every story … whether you agreed with one side or the other.

The same applied to CNN’s universally respected anchor Bernard Shaw, who posed tough penetrating questions to leaders on both sides of the aisle.

Skepticism was essential. Cynicism was to be avoided. Objectivity was the Holy Grail. The goal was to follow the story to where it ultimately led, and then to present both sides clearly and succinctly. You were expected to be professional and neutral.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t analysis born out of the facts on both sides of a given issue. The commentaries of Erik Sevareid of CBS are still classic … even though by making this reference your author’s age is showing.

Reporters Decide Right and Wrong?

“ … He (Acosta) told Publishers Weekly there aren’t two sides to the story when it is a matter of right and wrong. Right and wrong in the opinion of journalists? Sure!” – Howard Kurtz

No one cares about the personal opinion of a journalist, even the chief White House correspondent for CNN.

As Clint Eastwood, playing the role of “Dirty Harry” so famously said: “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.”

There aren’t two sides to every story? Hello?

Sorry to mount the soap box: Almost DailyBrett totally, utterly and completely rejects that premise.

Remember taking Pro Seminar, an exhaustive review of communication philosophy, at grad school at the University of Oregon. Your author never took upon himself to determine the Kantian differences between right and wrong for consumers of mass communication. That lofty aspiration was simply above Almost DailyBrett’s pay grade.

Diva Journalism?

When you take an unhealthy mix of narcissism and combine with a nightly anti-Trump harangue, you come up with the ultimate White House Press Corps’ diva, Jim Acosta.

Jim Acosta may actually be besmirching the good name of … arrogance.

Acosta’s 354-page first-person-singular tome with 100 “I” references and 25 “me” mentions is a celebration of CNN’s chief White House correspondent’s service to the country, the planet, the galaxy and the universe.

Will Almost DailyBrett break down and shell out nearly 20 bucks and purchase Acosta’s, “The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time To Tell The Truth in America?”

Wonder how much the Acosta page-turner will cost a year from now at the discount book rack at Walmart?

Almost DailyBrett Editor’s Note: The credit for “Hero of His Own Book” goes directly to Howard Kurtz, who used these exact words during his Media Buzz review of Jim Acosta’s book. Kurtz is a long-time and widely respected critic of political media for the Washington Post, CNN and Fox News.

https://contemptor.com/2019/06/16/fox-news-media-analyst-jim-acosta-should-be-grateful-to-trump-for-raising-his-profile/

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/dan-gainor-media-obsessed-with-polls-and-trump-comments-on-campaign-aid-acosta-obsessed-with-acosta

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/09/the-death-of-objective-journalism/

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/03/26/oppositional-journalisms-victory/

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/11/08/lose-lose-journalism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/what-happened-to-bernie-shaws-cnn/

 

 

 

“In the darkness, we found the light. Introducing a new era of electronic driving.” – Volkswagen’s new advertising campaign tagline

“Hello, darkness, my old friend; I’ve come to talk to you again …” – Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s, “The Sounds of Silence”

Is the best defense a good offense?

Is the most effective present-day defense utilizing a Baby Boomer anthem and harkening back to the 1960s with its brightly colored Volkswagen Beetles and (Hippie) Microvans?

After being rightfully bashed and bloodied starting in the autumn of 2015 for deploying defeat software to deceive anti-pollution testing of its vehicles (Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche), heads rightfully started to roll at Volkswagen AG corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

On the line with “Dieselgate” was Volkswagen’s brand, but also the reputation of Germany’s legendary designers and engineers. Consider, there is probably no nation on earth that prides itself more than Germany for its commitment to the environment (note the recent electoral successes of die Grünen).

The Volkswagen cheating scandal was akin to catching a falling knife. Using another well-worn metaphor, the shocking story has legs and has been running unabated for nearly four years.

The scandal started in September, 2015 when the U.S. EPA charged Volkswagen with using illegal (air quality testing) manipulation devices. A related Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation was launched. Volkswagen’s chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn was fired.

A continuous chorus of charges, fines, lawsuits, increased governmental regulation, falling stock prices and recalls mounted against Volkswagen and its Audi and Porsche subsidiaries. Last year, German authorities indicted Winterkorn on aggravated fraud charges.

Almost DailyBrett noted that Volkswagen did not follow to the letter the four basic tenets of Crisis Communications: Tell The Truth, Tell It All, Tell It Fast and Move On. In many ways Volkswagen management was just hoping this mess would simply subside.

Volkswagen management, employees, shareholders and even Kanzlerin Merkel and the German government had to confront the metaphorical Scheisse-Sandwich … you don’t nibble.

Back To The Drawing Board

At some point, the world’s largest automobile designer/manufacturer would have to go back on offense.

In doing so, Volkswagen realized it could not assume a business-as-usual approach.

Ultimately, Volkswagen appreciated that it has to acknowledge its wrongdoing, beg for forgiveness, and somehow, someway commence the hard work of rebranding … essentially moving on.

Volkswagen of America hired New York’s Johannes Leonardo advertising agency, and secured the rights to “The Sounds of Silence.”

The question posed to VW management: Can a major ad buy (part of a reported $2 billion campaign) for its 1:45 second spot featuring a Baby Boomer/Yuppie anthem make everything right in the world for Volkswagen?

In and of itself, the answer is obviously: no.

Almost DailyBrett has always believed that Volkswagen is engaged in a marathon, not a sprint. Volkswagen’s story, which began in 1937, deserves another chapter.

Americans are credited for being an understanding people. They will not forget, but are they willing to forgive and give … even a corporate entity … another chance?

The Johannes Leonardo creative, which debuted with the NBA Finals and the NHL’s Stanley Cup last week, is edgy as it literally starts in the darkness with a news announcer directly referencing the Volkswagen scandal.

One suspects that securing VW’s management approval for an open acknowledgement of moral failure was easier said than done. As Chairman Mao found out, the long-march back starts with the first step.

In our world of advertising bombast and overkill, it’s the extremely clever advertisement that stops the viewer in his or her tracks and commands attention.

The dark Sounds of Silence images convey going back to the drawing board. The result is the coming resurrection of the VW microvan … a concept vehicle for now … with the message the company’s environmentally friendly electric vehicle does not contribute to climate change. Volkswagen envisions 22 EVs (electric vehicles) by 2028, and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Volkswagen has stumbled for nearly four torturous years. The questions are with its new ad campaign and beyond: Has the company finally learned its lesson, and are we as consumers willing to forgive, while certainly not forgetting?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEvNL6oEr0U

https://www.fastcompany.com/90359361/volkswagen-aims-for-feel-good-redemption-in-new-major-ad-campaign

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a27784322/vw-hello-light-commercial-column/

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/dieselgate-timeline-germanys-car-emissions-fraud-scandal

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/business/winterkorn-volkswagen-emissions-scandal.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkiley5/2019/06/06/vw-goes-back-to-the-future-in-new-ad-campaign-to-put-dieselgate-in-rear-view/#1026a00d3aa5

https://www.vw.com/

http://johannesleonardo.com/

Almost DailyBrett has always fretted about the plight of the “boat people” of Monaco.

After all, who can blame them for seeking a better life?

They always seem to be able to guide their respective yachts into the right slip.

There each of them floats, reminding one of a can of expensive sardines.

Who has the biggest yacht? The most expensive bubbly? The cutest “niece?” The best view of the F1 Monaco Grand Prix?

Never was terribly concerned about ultra-cool Brit Lewis Hamilton and his Formula 1 Mercedes.

This past Sunday, Hamilton was always in the lead right in front of Holland’s frustrated-for-78-laps Max Verstappen of the Red Bull team.

Hamilton, the reigning five-time Formula 1 (F1) champion, always appears to have everything under control.

He even told Ellen that he never “goes” in his racing suit during the course of a two-hour race.

Consider that it only takes two-seconds for his 22-member Mercedes crew to change his four tires.

During the one-and-only caution this past Sunday on lap 11 in Monaco, Lewis’ team affixed four medium compound “tyres” (as the Brits spell it) to his super high-tech Mercedes.

Soon it became apparent that Hamilton was driving on the wrong “tyres,” and it seemed like an eternity to the checkered flag.

During this tense, nerve-wracking endurance contest around the 19-turn, two-mile through-the-streets course, Mr. Hamilton was not amused.

The Wrong Tyres; The Right Driver

“Bono … he’s right on my arse. Can you not see, that? ” – Lewis Hamilton on the radio to Mercedes race engineer, Peter Bonnington

Talk about the infamous British stiff upper lip, quivering just a tad.

The closest it ever seemed for Lewis Hamilton “losing it” was his complaining to “Bono” (not the U2 singer) about Verstappen’s tailgating while racing lap-after-lap on the wrong tires.

Who would win the dispute? The driver asking to come into the pits to change tyres or the Mercedes team reassuring him – hope against hope – that his obviously failing medium compounds would make it to the checked flag.

Back in 2015 under similar conditions, Hamilton came into the Monaco pits to change tires. He lost the race.

Not this time.

Somehow, someway Hamilton fought off Verstappen … even through their respective tires actually came in contract (it was indeed that close) during one of the last laps. In the end, Hamilton was the one accepting the Monaco Grand Prix award from Prince Albert II and his bride, Princess Charlene.

Considering that Mercedes devotes an estimated $300 million annually and employs 1,300 talented souls to assemble, maintain and steady improve two high-precision cars (e.g., Hamilton and Valteri Bottas of Finland), one can easily conclude that F1 is not a sport of the people.

But for Hamilton, it has not always been this way.

“Cool Runnings”

Even though he lives in tony Monaco, Hamilton directly relates to the Disney movie about Jamaica’s 1988 Olympics bobsled team.

Hamilton was the first black to drive on the 21-race Formula 1 circuit. He said his arrival triggered a similar “Cool Runnings” reaction that eventually ended with acceptance.

He was born into very modest circumstances in England, living in Stevenage, Hertfordshire just north of London. Very early, Lewis demonstrated his superb hand-eye coordination and started go-cart racing.

His father, Anthony, worked as many as four jobs to provide enough funds for Hamilton to pursue his hobby and his passion. His younger brother, Nicolas, was born with cerebral palsy and yet he exhibits no jealousy to his famous brother.

One reason is the two brothers are very close.

Almost DailyBrett has always been a huge fan of rags-to-riches stories. Lewis Hamilton is reportedly worth $285 million. And yet, it has not always been that way.

From a Cool Runnings start to an amazing Monaco on severely worn tyres, Lewis Hamilton has risen from humble beginnings to become without any doubt: The Coolest Cat on the Track, and the best Formula 1 driver in the world.

http://www.espn.com/f1/story/_/id/26825854/lewis-hamilton-flustered-monaco-grand-prix-radio-messages-full

http://www.espn.com/f1/story/_/id/26832734/the-story-hamilton-monaco-masterclass

https://www.formula1.com/en/drivers/lewis-hamilton.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvcVvuPPnqI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZREYYxEcfx4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei4uWo5B_9U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZVMTuSsEX4

https://www.formula1.com/

https://www.palais.mc/en/princely-family/h-s-h-prince-albert-ii/biography-1-5.html

 

Oregon has long been a taxing problem for California.

Motoring south along Oregon 101 last March, your author noted the strategically located presence of “Stateline Cannabis” about 100 yards north of the California line … and 0.40 mile away the Golden State’s Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station.

Driving my Mazda Miata little green chariot with its Oregon “Pacific Wonderland” plates, your clean-cut Almost DailyBrett author and his wonderful spouse, Jeanne, were simply waved through the inspection station.

Had to think: ‘What’s the point of the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station, if they just send you on your merry way?’

The short answer is California is trying to protect its largest industry – agriculture — from dangerous pests. The question that immediately came to mind: What about Stateline Cannabis’ agricultural products?

Statewide Cannabis describes its business as a homeopathic pharmacy. Does the State of California agree?

Why should the Golden State care?

Oregon has zero sales tax.

In contrast, California has sales taxes up the wazoo, including an incomprehensible 10.5 percent in Los Angeles County.

Immediately germane to the Oregon 101 border region, California’s Del Norte County collects sales taxes of 7.5 percent and Humboldt County, 8.75 percent.

Oregon does charge a 17 percent tax on cannabis sales, including marijuana sold at Statewide Cannabis.

California in turn assesses the statewide sales tax, plus a given county’s portion of the sales tax, a 15 percent excise tax and a cannabis business tax. A $100 retail pot price results in a $124.20 total sales price.

Any which way you assess the question, cannabis is cheaper in Oregon than California.

More to the point, the export of cannabis from Oregon across state lines ist verboten, regardless of the fact that Mary Jane is also legal in Washington to the north and California to the south.

What if the Almost DailyBrett author was sporting a ratty beard and was driving a wreck on wheels with California plates … would he and his wonderful spouse, Jeanne, be merely waved through the Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station?

Don’t think so.

California Sales Tax + Interest for An Oregon Subaru?

Back in the 20th Century, your author purchased a new $16,000 Subaru Legacy as a lawful resident of Portland, Oregon. There were zero sales taxes charged or paid.

As Martha (Stewart) would say: “That’s a good thing.”

Two years later with a move to the Bay Area, there was the necessary evil in the form of an agonizing, mind-numbing and desultory visit to California DMV to register the Subaru and secure its plates and tags.

Houston we have a problem.

The State of California under the aegis of former Governor Pete Wilson’s Department of Motor Vehicles would not register Almost DailyBrett’s Subaru Legacy even though the car was bought legally two years prior in Portland, Oregon with no-sales-tax.

No amount of honey or vinegar was going to change a bureaucrat’s mind that day. It was pound sand all the way.

Pleasanton DMV flat-out refused to register the Subaru and provide the necessary plates and tags unless and until the applicable Alameda County sales tax was paid (presently 9.75 percent) applicable at the time of the sale (forget about depreciation) plus two years of compounding interest.

Your frosted author wrote a four-figure check on the spot in order to register the car. As the say in Avenue Q, it sucks to be me.

You can only imagine the surprise two years later when an unexpected envelope from California DMV arrived in your author’s mail box. California lost a lawsuit and was required to pay back the two years of improperly assessed sales tax, plus interest.

Thank you, Howard Jarvis Tax Association.

The Dynamic Effect of Tax Increases

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to procure the largest quantity of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.” – France Minister of Finance Jean-Baptiste Colbert

“Tax the rich. Tax the rich. Tax the rich. We did. Now, God forbid, the rich leave.” — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Almost DailyBrett is not making any aspirations against the folks at Stateline Cannabis, who are making a living selling a once-taboo product.

The inevitable issue is that many Californians will one way or another react and respond to ever-increasing taxes – call it the dynamic effect.

If a short drive over the California-Oregon border will result in paying less … plenty less … for homeopathic pharmaceutical products, don’t you suppose more than a few folks will be naughty rather than nice?

Something tells Almost DailyBrett the Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station is looking for more than hitch-hiking insects.

https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2018/12/31/oregon-pot-marijuana-exporting-weed-out-state/2415786002/

https://www.wweek.com/news/2018/04/18/oregon-grew-more-cannabis-than-customers-can-smoke-now-shops-and-farmers-are-left-with-mountains-of-unwanted-bud/

https://www.currypilot.com/csp/mediapool/sites/CurryPilot/News/story.csp?cid=4264302&sid=919&fid=151

https://www.salestaxhandbook.com/california/rates

https://www.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana/Pages/FAQs-Taxes.aspx

https://lumatax.com/blog/california-cannabis-sales-tax-everything-you-need-to-know/

https://mjbizdaily.com/legal-hurdles-interstate-cannabis-exports-oregon/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/mary-jane-supply-and-demand/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

 

It’s been 15 years – three presidential cycles – since the Democratic Party selected an old white privileged male as its standard bearer.

Seems like eons ago since patrician Senator John Kerry “reported for duty” at the 2004 quadrennial convention of the Democratic Party in Boston. His VP choice was another old white privileged guy, former Senator John Edwards.

Whatever happened to John Edwards?

As former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, joins Senator Bernie Sanders, 77, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg – the Killer B’s — as front runners to secure the party’s crown, will there be a sense of diversity regression if the culture of “toxic” white masculinity once again controls the party?

Will it be déjà vu all over again?

Consider that 44 of the first 45 presidents have been old white privileged males, some clean-shaven, some with mustaches, some with beards and one follicly impaired (e.g., Ike)

The April 19 edition of the New York Times brought this troubling spectre to the forefront when it openly questioned whether an old white privileged man could actually be the 2020 face of the Democratic Party.

Will the celebratory progressive trend toward minority and women candidates slam into a moral- high-ground brick wall, if the party ultimately succumbs and selects an old white privileged male nominee to run against the GOP’s old white privileged male president?

Considering that Barack Obama won the nomination in 2008 and 2012 (and the presidency as well) and Hillary Clinton captured the nod in 2016, would the party be stepping back in its fight for diversity if a white hombre – regardless of qualifications and electability – emerges from the primary/caucus gauntlet to mount the podium in July 2020 as the nominee in Milwaukee?

Almost DailyBrett wonders whether progressives would sit out the campaign, mount their own third-party candidate or simply hold their noses and stand behind the old white privileged male party nominee because the re-election of Donald Trump is simply unfathomable.

The large field of would-be presidents includes prominent women (i.e., Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand), minority candidates (i.e., Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro) and a worldly candidate who speaks seven languages (e.g., Mayor Pete Buttigieg).

“Circular Firing Squad”?

 “One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States is the kind of rigidity where we say, ‘Ah, I’m sorry, this is how it’s gonna be.’ And then we start sometimes creating what’s called a circular firing squad where you start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying from purity on the issues. And when that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens”  — former President Barack Obama

Does the openly progressive New York Times on its news and editorial pages (redundant?) fear the party is swaying away from its portfolio of women and minority candidates? Wonder if the shocking revelations of Biden smelling the hair and kissing the heads of multiple females of the species has anything to do with the unchangeable and undeniable fact … he is at his core, an old white privileged male?

Was he too rough with Anita Hill 28 years ago? Is it time — past time — for his nationally televised apology?

Guess it’s time for opposition research. Wonder what other “oppo” is in store for Messrs. Biden and Sanders in particular? The knives are out.

Would Biden as the reluctant party’s nominee have to avoid college campuses in the fall 2020 campaign because his toxic white masculinity would generate microagressions, necessitate trigger warnings, and the reinforce the need for safe spaces?

Would his nomination be seen as an institutional form of “racism” and “sexism?”

Let’s imagine that either Biden or Bernie secure the nomination. Would the victor be required to select a woman and/or minority (Kamala Harris represents a two-for) in order to partially placate Justice Democrats … if that is indeed possible?

There is one other issue … and Almost DailyBrett will tread lightly on this subject: What about old white privileged males? Your author is one of these poor saps.

Charges of sexism or racism do not apply to them. There is no old white privileged male equivalent of misogyny. Fire away with impunity any invective or slur that comes to mind.

Never in 21st Century history has so much vitriol been leveled against one group of people with so little individual consequences.

No one cares. No one feels sorry.

One thing is certain: This particular demographic time-and-time-again wipes the mud out of their collective eyes, and votes.

They are motivated. They are high-propensity. And they represented 34 percent of the electorate in 2016, casting 62 percent of their votes for Donald Trump and only 31 percent for Hillary Clinton … two-to-one … Game, Set and Match.

If Democrats are actually interested in beating another old white privileged male, Donald Trump, they may want to consider fighting fire with fire … or maybe not.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/us/politics/democrats-2020-white-male.html

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/new-york-times-says-white-maleness-may-be-a-2020-albatross

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/culture-of-toxic-masculinity/

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

 

 “Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?” – CNN anchor Bernard Shaw’s opening debate question to 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis

“No, I don’t Bernard. And I think you know I opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don’t see any evidence that’s it’s a deterrent and I think there are more effective ways to deal with violent crime …” — Dukakis’ answer to Shaw’s question.

How could Shaw have asked that question? More astonishingly, how could Dukakis have failed to explode at it?” – Jack Germond and Jules Witcover, “Whose Broad Stripes and Bright Stars”

The unthinkable and startling image of the first lady of Massachusetts being raped and murdered was offered up by a respected CNN anchor, Bernard Shaw, from your father’s CNN of 1988 … obviously not the hyper-partisan CNN of today.

Some reportedly accused Shaw of throwing a fast-ball right down the plate for Dukakis to angrily hit the ball out of the ballpark. Shaw emphatically denied this assertion.

Dukakis didn’t even swing. His wonkish answer without showing any vitriol or emotion about Shaw raising the spectre of a raped and murdered Kitty Dukakis, effectively ended the campaign of the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

The author of Almost DailyBrett distinctly remembers settling into his seat for the October 13, 1988 second presidential debate at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, when Shaw serving as moderator opened the proceedings with his provocative (understatement) question.

To most in the audience and millions more at home, Shaw’s question was shocking, one-sided as it did not apply to both candidates … Vice President George H.W. Bush and Dukakis.

Having said that, Dukakis and his campaign team had to know that a death penalty question was coming. Looking back, the Shaw question was a great opportunity for the Massachusetts governor to express outrage, thus firing up his supporters and maybe even the electorate.

Can you imagine one of today’s CNN anchor/correspondent asking that kind of question to a Democratic standard bearer in Donald Trump’s America?

Whattyathink Anderson Cooper? Don Lemon? Jim Acosta? Chris Cuomo? Jake Tapper?

Are There Any Objective Reporters Left To Moderate Presidential Debates?

“News people are no longer trained that they have to bury their personal views and bend over backwards to be fair. That concept went out the window a long time ago.” — Edwin J. Salzman, former Sacramento Bee Capital Bureau Chief

“ … If you have a son in the Marine Corps, and that you don’t trust the commander-in-chief (Trump)” – ABC Martha Raddatz, crying on 2016 election night.

Do you think Raddatz will ever be asked again to serve as a fair, objective and dispassionate presidential debate moderator?

How about noted-for-his-personal-integrity, Brian Williams of MSNBC?

More to the point, is there anyone at Jeff Zucker’s  CNN, who could be trusted to fill this critical role?

Almost DailyBrett has asked this question before and will pose it again: Where is this generation’s Walter Cronkite?

More to the point: Where is modern day equivalent of Bernard Shaw?

“Never laugh at Ted Turner too early …”

There was a time when America supposedly needed only three networks: ABC, CBS and NBC.

CNN (Cable News Network) was Ted Turner’s dream, which after initial scoffing and snickering became the first all-news, all-the-time network.

The network was there to cover live virtually any significant event regardless of its origin around the world … This was Bernard Shaw’s CNN. He served as the network’s lead anchor from 1980-2001.

When the San Francisco Bay Area was struck by the 6.9 Richter Scale Loma Prieta Earthquake on October 17, 1989, my boss California Governor George Deukmejian was sleeping in an airport hotel in Frankfurt, Germany.

By the means of a continuously open line from our office to the governor’s hotel room, and just as important through the reporting of CNN, Governor Deukmejian was able to direct the state’s response to the earthquake from nine-time zones away.

California’s Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy was in San Francisco, when Loma Prieta struck with no phone connections, zero television (including CNN) and literally no way to communicate.

This may seem like a stretch, but Almost DailyBrett appreciated at the time that Bernard Shaw’s CNN had become America’s go-to-network for news and information.

Alas, a shift to über-partisan journalism accelerated with the creation of MSNBC, serving the left, and Fox News, oriented to the right, both in 1996.

CNN continued with its emphasis on breaking news stories, but some concluded it was Melba toast, thus suffering in the Nielsen Ratings, compared to MSNBC and Fox News.

Today, CNN has morphed into the second coming of MSNBC with a 24-7-365 stream of angry talking-heads’ invective directed against a hated president. The country already has a MSNBC, it doesn’t need another one.

Does any CNN anchor today exhibit the professionalism, integrity and objectivity to dispassionately moderate a 2020 general election debate?

During Bernard Shaw’s era, the answer was an emphatic, “yes.”

Today the answer is “no,” … “hell no.”

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/lists/debatemoments/bernieshaw.html

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1844704_1844706_1844712,00.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/31/raddatz-media-watching-each-other-a-little-more-after-missteps-reporting-on-trump-378739

https://www.thewrap.com/donald-trump-president-martha-raddatz-tears-up-abc-news/

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