Category: Crisis Communications


Almost DailyBrett’s super-smart tax accountant moved from California to … Nevada.

Wonder why?

How many other wise people did the math, followed in her footsteps, and made a move in their best lifestyle and financial interests?

Let’s see, the state income tax in California is the nation’s highest, maxing at 13.3 percent … for now. Yikes.

The state income tax in Nevada is … nada.

Hmmm … given a choice … what action will a clever tax accountant with disposable income make? Ditto for anyone else with a brain and a pulse.

Growing up, your author read countless accounts about people for decades pulling up stakes in the rust belt and setting sights for the sun belt.

That trend continues unabated today except when it comes to one sun belt state in particular, California.

After the upcoming 2020 decennial Census, the Golden State is projected to lose a seat in Congress (and a corresponding electoral vote) for the first time in its 171-year history.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and other Sacramento rocket scientists are desperately trying to ensure an accurate count to avoid the indignity under their watch associated with losing an electoral vote.

Let’s see, California with 12 percent of the nation’s population is the “home” to 22 percent of the nation’s homeless. Can California count those who don’t have a home — even newly arrived homeless — as residents? What about those who came across a Southern border … ? Count the names on the tombstones?

Oh heck, let’s just slap on a few more social engineering regulations (e.g., rent control, solar panel installation requirements) and raise taxes again and again … and pretend what’s happening is not happening.

Which State Gains From California’s Diaspora?

We know from CNBC’s Robert Frank that population outflows are costing New York $10 billion in revenues (largest hit in the nation), and Florida is gaining $16 billion in increased revenues as a result of in-migration.

The same report indicated that California is losing $8 billion in state revenues. Those lost souls are no longer in the gravitational pull of the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and Golden State regulatory social engineers.

California and Alabama (two peas in a pod?) appear to be the only sun belt states slated to lose congressional seats after the next Census.

Conversely, there are nine states in the union with zero state income taxes, and none of them will lose a congressional seat. In fact, Texas is set to gain three congressional seats from 36 to 39, and Florida is expected to add two more from 27 to 29. These two red states are getting politically stronger.

Should we assume that no state income tax Texas or Florida will benefit from California’s lost congressional seat?

Considering that California lost 700,000 residents in 2018 alone, and 86,000 of this number moved to Tejas … the red Lone Star State could be the beneficiary of the blue Golden State’s electoral college loss.

Late last year, retail investment pioneer Charles Schwab announced it will move its corporate headquarters from San Francisco to Dallas. Can you blame them?

Let’s see, the corporate tax in San Francisco is 8.84 percent, Dallas, 0.75 percent. San Francisco also imposes a 0.38 percent payroll tax, and a 0.6 percent gross receipts tax. Typical monthly rents in The City are $3,870 and only $1,200 in Big D.

Looking North, Looking East …

Keep in mind that no sales tax Oregon is expected to gain one congressional seat, raising its number of electoral votes from seven to eight for the 2024 general election. The Grand Canyon State anticipates adding another seat to its congressional delegation, increasing Arizona’s electoral votes from 11 to 12.

To be fair, this Almost DailyBrett analysis needs to acknowledge that California with its gorgeous weather and picturesque coastline, not to mention Silicon Valley, will still have the largest electoral count just with 54 votes, instead of 55.

As a former press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian (two terms, 1983-1991), your author noted the Golden State’s Electoral College count was 45 in 1980, 47 in 1984 and 1988, and 54 in 1992. California’s electoral college number jumped nine congressional seats in those heady days, when the state was not raising taxes and not burdening it’s citizens and businesses with onerous regulations and social engineering schemes.

Taxes and rising expenses/burdens are not the only reasons for the flight of California’s Growing Diaspora. Congestion is becoming unbearable with 2 million more joining the commuting ranks since … 2010.

Housing costs are prohibitive, not to mention the property taxes that go alone with these rising market values. The sweet two-bed, one-bath 960-square foot Oakland fixer-upper (see photo above) is on the market right now for … $988,000.

Nice curb appeal.

Some may want to sweep the lost congressional seat under the proverbial rug and recite tired stats about California being one of the largest economies in the world. Almost DailyBrett sees the loss of an electoral vote as the canary in the mine.

People are voting with their feet, and California is the loser … Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon are the winners.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-31/la-me-ln-california-apportionment-2020-census

California likely to lose congressional seat for first time in history after 2020 Census

https://www.dallasnews.com/business/real-estate/2019/12/10/almost-700000-californians-moved-out-of-state-last-year/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/schwab-leaves-san-francisco-for-texas-11574900348

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

California’s inept central planners

Meteorology is above the pay grade of Almost DailyBrett.

The study of weather also seems to be beyond of the collective wits of the NFL and its partners in climatic crime, the national networks.

Let’s state the obvious: January is a cold winter month across the vast majority of the fruited plain.

Indoors are always heated and dry. Outdoors can be cold, wet, icy and even, snowy.

Southern climes tend to be warmer than northern climes.

The days start three hours later on the west coast than on the east coast. Generally, the west coast is warmer.

With the above preamble, one has to ask: Why did yesterday’s “Wild Card” game held in a climate controlled rectractable roof dome in Houston serve as the day game, and why was the outdoor “Wild Card” (40 degrees and foggy) played at night (kickoff at 8:15 pm local Foxborough, MA time?

Today’s early game … you guessed it is being played in a climate controlled dome in New Orleans, and the nightcap starts at 4:40 pm local time (e.g., dark) in Philadelphia.

Next week’s “Divisional” round is no better, in fact the times and venues may be worse.

The schedule was next Saturday calls for the early game … you guessed it … to be played at 1:35 pm PST in Santa Clara, CA.  The evening game is set for an 8:15 pm EST in Baltimore.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the NFL to reverse the order?

The Sunday, January 12 schedule makes no sense whatsoever. The early game is kicking off in Kansas City at 2:05 pm CST, and the night game (better have more than one for proper insulation) is set for the Frozen Tundra of Green Bay, Wisconsin at 5:40 pm CST.

Isn’t Green Bay way north of Kansas City? Why not reverse the order of these games?

Does The NFL Care About The Health And Safety Of The Fans?

Similar to major universities with football programs, NFL teams have lost control of their franchises to the major networks (i.e., ABC/ESPN, CBS, Fox, NBC).

What is only important is eyeballs, lots of eyeballs. And what is better is to have all these eyeball pupils focused on never-ending ads during prime time.

And what prime time is the most equal of the equals, the time zone of the Eastern seaboard (e.g., New England playing at night)?

Almost DailyBrett must ask here and now: What about the fans enduring super cold temps? Drinking all day waiting for the game? Driving home at ridiculous hours through fog, rain, ice and/or snow?

And what about the players, who must attempt to play one-and-done playoff games in frigid conditions, such as the “Frozen Tundra” of Green Bay?

Ever wonder why the attendance of NFL games (derrieres in overpriced seats) is down?

Certainly, fans will show up for playoff games … at least for now … but HDTV is HDTV. Our national pastime, which baseball long ago lost to football, may become suitable for TV studios with all of us watching on television or our mobile devices from comfortable venues with beer in the fridge and bathrooms down the hall.

Do you think the collective brain trust of the NFL and the networks could take into account weather and geography (e.g., warm places vs. cold places or indoor vs. outdoor games).

Assigning early kickoffs to outdoor games in colder climes and later games to domed stadiums and warmer climates makes perfect sense to your humble author.

For the NFL to make this simple change, does not affect the seeding for playoff games. In addition, the league would be making a positive statement about how its views loyal fans (e.g., season ticket holders), and its players (e.g., relations with the NFL Players Association).

Even though Almost DailyBrett is not and never will be an attorney, wouldn’t removing the specter of drunken or not fans being seriously hurt on a foggy, wet, snowy or icy roads reduce potential liability for the NFL?

And most all, the NFL would proclaim to the world that it really does understand the true meaning of the word, January.

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/28390167/2019-nfl-playoff-schedule-bracket-super-bowl-liv-coverage

https://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2019/01/07/how-the-nfl-gained-back-viewers-but-lost-attendance/#2d3b9cfc5bb7

 

 

 

“Let’s lob one into the men’s room of the Kremlin.” — US Senator Barry Goldwater

United States Senator and nominee for president, Barry Goldwater (1909 – 1998) speaking at an election rally in Madison Square Garden, New York City, USA, 28th October 1964. (Photo by William Lovelace/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

When Almost DailyBrett was touring the Kremlin in 1981, presumably using the men’s room at some point, your author was particularly not in favor of lobbing one into Moscow’s most infamous venue … just then and there.

Nearly 40 years later that position has not changed.

What has shifted — somewhat — is our national view of Russia. The Cold War is over, even though relations from time-to-time between the US and Russia can range from chilly-to-frosty.

As Winston Churchill once described Russia: “A riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

Are the Russians our enemies? Are they our adversaries? Are they our competitors? They certainly are not our friends. What gives?

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin give all the impressions they are pals, but are they really? Guess talking and making nice is better than the nuclear alternative. Considering that Russia reportedly is working on a hyper sonic weapon, which can evade our missile defenses, maybe detente will become fashionable again.

As mentioned by Almost DailyBrett before, you can take Putin out of the KGB, but you can’t state the KGB out of Putin. How many Russian enemies have been poisoned and attacked overseas? Did Putin know? Of course, he did.

“There Is A Bear In The Woods … “

” … For some people the bear is easy to see. Others don’t see it at all. Some people say the bear is tame.. Others say its vicious and dangerous. Since no one really can be sure, who’s right, isn’t it smart to be as strong as the bear? If there is a bear.” — President Ronald Reagan 1984 “Prepared For Peace” re-election ad

The prose above, which were written and recorded by ad-man extraordinaire Hal Riney (1932-2008) were described by some as ambiguous, but the spot was memorable nonetheless.

Considering the relationship between tiny Finland and Superpower Russia with its nukes and 11 time zones, it has been suggested: “When you sleep with the bear, you do not snore.”

America with its four continental time zones does not worry about making nocturnal sounds.  Nonetheless the relationship with Russia, regardless of the state of affairs, still needs to be managed … and considered.

Almost DailyBrett  and many others contend that Russia is the most xenophobic country on the planet with good reason.

How many times has the Rodina been trampled and invaded (i.e., Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler)?

Despite being the largest nation on earth geographically, Russia sees itself as surrounded on all sides: NATO to the west and north, the Muslim world to the south (they haven’t forgotten the misguided 1980 Afghanistan invasion) and China to the east.

Russia’s collective paranoia is understandable. The nation is notorious for decades of disinformation and meddling in the political affairs of democracies (e.g., Nuclear Freeze movement).

Similar to Churchill, Kremlinologists have been puzzled in how to interpret the constantly shifting attitudes of Russia to the world around here from the Czarist, Communist and now the ultra-nationalist times.

Your author even though he went Back in the USSR during the days of the “Evil Empire,” still has a return visit to Russia on the “Bucket List.”

And when Almost DailyBrett is there again, your author certainly doesn’t want a hyper-sonic “one” being lobbed into the Men’s Room of the Kremlin.

Pozhaluysta! Please!

https://time.com/4875093/donald-trump-goldwater-rule-history/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/russia-on-my-bucket-list/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/09/20/the-daisy-ad/

“The mayor (Pete Buttigieg) just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave, full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine. Think about who comes to that? … Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.” — $12 million net worth Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren

“According to Forbes Magazine, I’m literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire … This is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass.” — South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg

Guess Almost DailyBrett has been drinking cerveza way too long.

The term beer cave projects the image of a bunch of guys downing bottles, tapping a keg, and binge watching football.

Some may simply envision and label the grunting, belching and scratching venue as a … ‘man cave.’

The very notion of a Napa Valley wine cave connotes a more upper-crust distinction.

A $900 bottle of Hall Winery fine cab (actually $185) on the house? S’il vous plait!

Always excitable Warren took issue with the image of people enjoying expensive vino in a plush wine cave in California’s Napa Valley. More to the point, she particularly doesn’t condone wealthy individuals attending a fundraiser on behalf of a pesky political rival, Mayor Pete.

Isn’t this the same Democrat senator who owns a $3 million home in Cambridge, MA. and a $800,000 DC condo?

Her political soul mate, $2.5 million net worth Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, even purchased the web domain name: peteswinecave. Sanders may presently lead Warren in the polls (Real Clear Politics average), but he trails her nearly five-to-one in net income.

Should latte sipping senators living in glass condos throw rocks?

Where was the invitation for Almost DailyBrett?

Guess one has to be a limousine liberal to be invited to a trendy wine cave to sip super-expensive cabernet sauvignon in crystal goblets on onyx tables.

Reminds your author of the infamous joke of USSR party leader Leonid Brezhnev inviting his mommy to drink Moskovskaya vodka in the Kremlin, cruise around in his Zil limo, and consume caviar in his private dacha.

Mother Russia proudly looked at her most equal of the equals son and said: ‘What happens when the Reds come back?”

A quote more apropos for this discussion is the infamous one by former California Speaker of the Assembly Jess Unruh’s (1922-1987): “Money is the Mother’s Milk of Politics.”

Your author’s boss first Attorney General/later California Governor George Deukmejian (1928-2018) raised $8.3 million in 1982 to be elected to the corner office in Sacramento. The Duke was outspent in the primary and the general election, and still won the governorship.

That amount is almost quaint by today’s standards, and downright puny in comparison to the $125 million Donald Trump’s re-election campaign raised in the last three months.

In some respects, Trump’s fundraising prowess is just the tip of his earned (media interviews/coverage), paid (advertising) and owned media (Twitter) communications juggernaut.

Revisiting An Ancient Argument 

Warren suggesting out loud that Mayor Pete is somehow being bought by billionaires sipping pricey cab in a wine cave is the latest twist on an age-old assertion.

Are the billionaires buying your fidelity? Did you sell out? Did they buy in?

Here are more germane questions: Are you going to award an ambassadorship to the Court of St. James or the Vatican for the federal campaign contribution maximum, $2,800?

How do you propose funding your campaign at 2019-2020 advertising rates, if you don’t raise dough from wealthy people … unless you are already a billionaire (i.e., Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer)?

Billionaire celebrity Trump was outspent and out-organized three-plus years ago, and overcame this deficiency by absolutely dominating earned media, thus sucking the air away from every other candidacy including Hillary Clinton’s.

Even though the knives are out for #45, he still rules every utensil and appliance in the mass communications kitchen.

He is not invulnerable. The time between now and November 3 is a political lifetime. No one, including Almost DailyBrett, predicted his election.

Do presidential incumbents have an advantage? Not always (i.e., Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush in rotten economies).

Presidential elections are not referendums, they are choices.

Both the incumbent and his inevitable challenger are going to need green manna from heaven to ensure their respective messages get to the electorate, particularly in swing fly-over states. Campaigns are expensive.

There will be even-more fundraisers in the coming months, hosted in a wine cave near you.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/21/about-that-wine-cave-dinner-i-was-there/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelatindera/2019/08/20/how-elizabeth-warren-built-a-12-million-fortune/#2b85f493ab57

https://www.forbes.com/sites/chasewithorn/2019/04/12/how-bernie-sanders-the-socialist-senator-amassed-a-25-million-fortune/#1d4107fb36bf

https://nypost.com/2019/12/22/elizabeth-warrens-wine-cave-comments-spark-questions-about-her-donors/

 

“Oregon is the new Usc on the West Coast … back in my day no one dared recruit So Cal. Now it’s open season and Oregon is hunting.” — National Letter of Intent Day Tweet by USC Heisman Trophy winning QB and now Fox Sports analyst, Matt Leinert

Presumably, these words were mighty difficult for Leinert to write, but the truth is … indeed the truth.

For Almost DailyBrett, Oregon signing Southern California’s best high school football player in 2018 (e.g., DE Kayvon Thibodeaux from Westlake Village) was simply amazing.

For the Ducks to achieve this same distinction two years running (e.g., OLB Justin Flowe from Upland) is beyond comprehension.

Some may contend that Oregon is somehow, someway lucky, and normalcy will eventually return with USC — presumably with a new coach — regaining its rightful place as The Program on the West Coast, if not the nation.

As a former head football manager at USC (BA in Broadcast Journalism) and a former assistant football manager at Oregon (MA in Communication and Society), your author knows a thing or two about these great universities and their football programs.

Your author’s initial observation as a former Baby Boomer Assistant Professor of Public Relations, teaching Millennials for five-years-plus is that tradition doesn’t really matter to Y-Gens born between 1980-2000, let alone the Z-Generation born after the centennial.

Leinert won his Heisman for USC in 2005. The recruits of today were entering kindergarten or first grade when he was hoisting the most famous stiff-arm.

Time flies.

One can argue whether Oregon’s latest five-star stud recruits — Kayvon Thibodeaux, Justin Flowe, Noah Sewell — are Millennials or Z-Gens.

Does it really matter?

What they care about most is what they are experiencing. Their inherited digital native world of social media, smart phones, bitmojis leads to insurmountable interest about what is cool now and better yet, in the future.

Oregon is going to the Rose Bowl … now. Oregon won the Pac-12 … now. Oregon produced the Outland Trophy winner (e.g. LT Penai Sewell) … now. Oregon generated the academic Heisman winner (e.g., Justin Herbert with a 4.01 GPA in science) … now.

Oregon was heading the wrong way just three years ago. Seems like an eternity. Oregon is cool today under the guidance of Coach Mario Cristobal, and most likely Oregon will be cool tomorrow.

The Future Is Now

“They want to play the best teams in the country all the time, and there is no way they are going away from that mentality just to appease … These guys deserve to find out how good they are by playing against the best, so we’re going to continue doing that.” — Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal

Next year, Ohio State, Washington, Stanford, Arizona State … and yes, USC … are all making house calls to Autzen Stadium.

The Ducks held serve seven times at Autzen this past season. It will be extremely tough to run the table at home (let alone the road slate) at Autzen in 2020.

Bring it on.

Cristobal is 49-years-young; he looks about 35-years young. He is a former offensive lineman at the University of Miami. Buffed Cristobal appears as if he could play today. He understands beef on both sides of the ball. He is a player’s coach and obviously a masterful recruiter.

Is it any wonder that Oregon’s offensive line produced three All Americas this past season (Sewell, first team, Shane Lemieux, second team, Calvin Throckmorton, third team). Oregon is more than customary speed, the Ducks are bulk as well.

Another under evaluated factor on behalf of Oregon: The Ducks are more than a one-sport school … much more.

The men’s basketball team (e.g., Payton Pritchard) and the women’s basketball team (e.g., Sabrina Ionescu) are both ranked in the Top #10, competing for the respective national championships. The Track and Field program at Oregon is legendary with Hayward Field being upgraded for next year’s Olympic Trials.

And no one can contemplate Oregon these days without mention of billionaire alum Phil Knight and the world’s greatest athletic apparel company, Nike. Reportedly, Washington tried to coerce Nike into paying them more than Oregon. It took two nanoseconds for Nike to decline.

The Huskies are wearing Adidas gear today in the Las Vegas Bowl. Oregon will be sporting Nike swooshes, Just Doing It in the Rose Bowl. Guess that must be the “Washington Way,” watching the Ducks in Pasadena on HDTV.

The Coolness of Pete Carroll

Almost DailyBrett can’t believe that Pete Carroll is 68-years-young, particularly with his always bubbling optimism and his infectious enthusiasm.

Your author will go out on a limb and proclaim no school will ever win the Pac-12 Conference seven years in succession, a feat the USC Trojans under Carroll achieved from 2002 thru 2008, including two national championships.

Alas, USC is no longer cool. Trojan Tradition matters to USC alums, but does it factor with 17-18-year young Z-Gens?

There is no doubt that Oregon is cool.

Can USC be cool again? Can USC be now again? Can USC project the future, again? Can USC lock up Southern California recruiting again?

Will USC ever change its uniforms? Will it put the players’ names on the back of their jerseys? Will the team always wear black shoes?

Alumni may care (too much). Millennials and Z-Gens want cool change.

Coaching matters. USC has not been the same since Carroll left (see Almost DailyBrett blogs on Lame Kiffin) for the Seattle Seahawks after the 2009 season.

Oregon is not the only school, which sports Nike uniforms. The same is true for USC.

Is there another Pete Carroll out there, a special coach that can turn around a program in a single bound? Almost DailyBrett believes that USC will be in the market for just this kind of dude after the 2020 season.

It can be done. Just ask Mario Cristobal and Oregon.

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2865862-mario-cristobal-says-oregon-wont-schedule-easier-games-in-pursuit-of-cfp-berth

USC loses out on five-star LB Justin Flowe to Oregon on Early Signing Day

“Bigger, tougher, stronger, faster and meaner than Barney.” — Vladimir Putin bragging about his female black lab, “Koni,” compared to George W. Bush’s Scottish terrier

“You’re lucky he (Putin) only showed you his dog.” — Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Barney at the White House.

What happens when you cross unrestrained pulsating testosterone with canine comparison, when it comes to global superpower leaders?

Are those fighting words? Can a thermonuclear exchange be far behind?

According to the old adage: ‘You can take Vladimir Putin out of the KGB, but you can’t take the KGB out of Putin.’

The same seems to be true when it comes to employing big powerful dogs as a metaphor for a present day Russia, once again flexing its muscles.

When it was time for a summit between Putin and German Kanzerlin Angela Merkel, Koni made an unscripted cameo appearance. It’s well known that she suffers from cynophobia or a serious fear of dogs. Putin pretended not to know and offered his “dearest” apologies, but Merkel wasn’t accepting his contrition or buying his explanation.

“I understand why he has to do this — to prove he’s a man. He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.” — Merkel responding to Koni’s entrance at their 2007 summit in Sochi, Russia.

Both Barney (2001-2013) and Koni (Кони) (1999-2014) achieved doggie immortality, serving as first pets to the heads of states of the United States of America and Russia respectively.

Almost DailyBrett must pause here and rhetorically ask: ‘Does size really matter?

One Nation Under Dogs

“If you need a friend in Washington, D.C.,  get a dog.” — Former President Harry S. Truman.

Every president gets pilloried every nanosecond by political enemies, questioned by the punditocracy, psycho-analyzed by the media, and made the butt of jokes by late-night TV comedians. Regardless of the thickness of skin there has to come a time for any chief executive, when too much is too much. That’s where Truman’s friend comes into play.

There was a particular time when former President Bill Clinton really needed a “Buddy,”an unquestioning through thick-and-thin chocolate lab. The thin came with an intern named … Monica … in 1998.

Sadly, Buddy was only a short-part of presidential or canine history, born in 1997 and buying the kennel in 2002.

Many are fixated on the prospect of Yuletide impeachment. Your author is more concerned with the fact that Donald Trump is the first president in more than a century without the companionship of … man’s best friend.

“How does the president not have a dog? He’s the first president in 120 years that does not have a dog in the White House.” — Presidential scholar Barbra Streisand

“I wouldn’t mind having one honestly, but I don’t have any time. How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?” — President Donald Trump

Your author contends that Putin would not give a shekel about Trump walking a dog on the White House lawn. Instead, he would zero-in with a laser-like focus on what canine breed was parading beside the leader of the free world. If the First Canine didn’t measure up, there would be predictable Putin judgment and scorn.

Presidential Poop Scooping?

For the record Putin has four dogs — Pasha, Verni, Yume, Buffy — presumably each a large canine strutting and projecting power and strength. Seems that a Scottie dog would not make the cut with the leader of the Rodina.

Maybe Trump does not want to engage in a doggy-dog fight with Putin?

And for all superpower leaders, there comes a time when the vestiges of power inevitably expire. What comes next?

Just ask former President George W. Bush.

“Shortly after we moved to Dallas, I took Barney for an early-morning walk around the neighborhood. I hadn’t done anything like that in more than a decade. … Barney spotted our neighbor’s lawn, where he promptly took care of his business. There I was, the former president of the United States, with a plastic bag on my hand, picking up that which I had been dodging for the past eight years.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201302/the-passing-barney-bush-first-dog

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/23/americas-extreme-obsession-with-dogs-and-what-it-means

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/02/12/trump-first-president-century-with-no-dog-explains-why-i-dont-have-any-time/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pets_of_Vladimir_Putin

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

 

 

 

 

 

This week begins the most dreaded time of the year … the holidays.

And to spice up the “excitement,” Donald Trump is widely expected to be impeached by Democrats right before … Xmas.

And what will most families sooner or later discuss over spiked eggnog, hot toddies and all the fixings?

The Donald.

And you thought tolerating difficult-at-best relatives and in-laws in short doses was tough enough.

Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly opined that families are overrated, and that obviously includes relatives and in-laws (outlaws are wanted).

Even though Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation attempted to portray the magic of joyous families gathering for the holidays, we all know better.

Maybe being Home Alone is a better deal?

During the holidays, we can detect the collective raising of blood pressures, the need to count to 10, and the anxious double checking of smart phones or watches.

When is the pace car going off the track, so we can blow this taco stand?’

It has always been wisely counseled to avoid conversations with family members about politics and religion, and that prod particularly applies to the holidays.

Aren’t the recounting of embarrassing stories at your expense, perpetrated by vindictive family members, bad enough?

And then there is Trump, Nancy and impeachment.

The polling firm FiveThirtyEight this past week reported that 46.3 percent of Americans support impeachment, 45.6 percent oppose impeachment. Four-out-of-five Democrats favor impeachment (80.3 percent), four out 10 independents (41 percent), and slightly more than one out of 10 Republicans (12.2 percent).

How’s that for a polarized country, and a perfect conversation to further divide even the most tribalistic of families?

Before Trump, we could always discuss Uncle Charlie’s drinking problem, our own bed wetting at four, atheism vs. Christianity, pro life vs. pro choice, NRA and gun rights, open borders vs, border walls and maybe come away from the family table detesting each other just a smidge more than even before … if that is still possible.

Ahhh … the holidays!

Is It Best To Make Trump Conversations Out Of Bounds For The Holidays?

There are those who want Donald Trump to simply go away, somehow without Mike Pence sitting behind the Oval Office desk and running for his own terms as president.

There are those who support Trump’s re-election and envision of four more years of buy low sell high.

And there are those who are duly frightened of a carnivorous government digging even deeper into their wallets … advocated by the present field of Democrats. The list of sensitive political topics goes on and on and on.

Are any or all of these subjects conducive to Happy Yuletide memories among families, including the in-laws?

‘Would you like a little nitro to go with your glycerin?’

Instead of que sera, sera and turning of the other cheek, how about actively managing the family and in-laws?

How about setting and adopting rules of engagement?

Give everyone something to do. Similar to a functional family, everyone has a chore.

Think about group activities to blow off negative energy, such as multi-player video games with customary gratuitous violence.

Close your eyes and imagine a family member(s) disappearing magically into thin air.

Feel better already, don’t you?

Most of all, declare certain topics including all political subjects verboten for the holidays.

Trump and impeachment sounds like a swell place to start.

Why engage that annoying (insert “liberal” or “conservative” in this space)? If you can’t change anyone’s mind via social media, why would you think you can sway face-to-face an irksome relative or in-law, particularly when booze is involved?

Almost DailyBrett remembers vividly a passionate friend railing against the NRA in the presence of a gun nut. After your author attempted to mercifully calm down the discussion, the same individual quickly revisited the subject, raising the pissed-off barometer to critical. There was almost a fusion meltdown in the form of a fist fight in a bucolic public setting.

Your author decided then and there it was a good time to go out for a breath of fresh air.

Sure wish that was an option when it comes to family gatherings in which gifts are judged (and returned), faults accumulate, embarrassments are revisited, and the precious nanoseconds until family events are over count down to zero.

Here is a novel idea your author has suggested in earlier iteration of this humble blog:

Can we simply hit the fast forward button on the remote and make it New Year’s morning at Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena? We will all be happily tailgating with friends under sunshine and warm temps.

And what will we discuss? Politics? Family?

Hell no, the Rose Bowl baby.

What time is kickoff?

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/impeachment-polls/

 

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” — UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

If a private sector position with full benefits isn’t the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised … what on earth is?

In order to avoid saying she will raise taxes on the middle class for “Medicare For All,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is proposing federal confiscation of all pretax employer paid Medicare health care benefits for literally millions of working achievers.

Her plan will eliminate private health insurance for 150 million Americans or more, and nationalize the $530 billion private health insurance industry.

Isn’t the termination of $8.8 trillion in cherished pretax employer-paid health care benefits for millions of employees, the equivalent of a middle class tax increase on steroids? Keep in mind, the annual federal budget is only … $4.45 trillion.

Instead of Starbucks paying $20,000 for this benefit to each of its 291,000 employees for private insurance (e.g., Blue Cross, Kaiser …), the legendary coffee roaster would be compelled to turn-over a similar amount to the federal government. In turn, these employees would lose their Starbucks offered pretax Medicare benefits and choice of private health insurer, only to forced into government paid … and only government paid … DMV-style insurance.

The Bernie Sanders “Medicare for All” bill (which Warren supports) calls for a 4 percent federal income tax increase for middle class workers. In order to avoid saying she is raising middle class taxes, Warren proposes instead federal confiscation of pretax employer paid health care benefits.

“In practice this (redirection of employer-paid health benefits to the government) would be a tax on employment, which seems likely to hurt middle-class Americans.” — The Economist, November 9, 2019

Deciding which plan (Sanders or Warren) is worse is just as difficult as deducing which is better.

How about keeping and retaining private health insurance, and our ability to choose our own doctors, dentists and optometrists?

Almost DailyBrett has always exhibited a libertarian streak. If we empower our $4 trillion behemoth federal government to confiscate pretax employer-paid health insurance, and eliminate private health insurance for 150-million-plus souls, the obvious question is:

What’s next?

Tax On Billionaires

” … if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us?” — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commenting on the spectre of a Warren presidency to the company’s 35,000 employees.

The public relations spin by Bernie and Elizabeth has focused squarely on the likes of Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon and Leon Cooperman, including Warren mocking the latter for his tearful concern about the future of our country.

Consider the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $36 billion to fight third-world poverty. Does no good deed go unpunished?

The centerpiece of the billionaire vilification campaign is a 2 percent wealth tax on those with assets exceeding $50 million (how many folks in blue states California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts … are included in this tax?), and 6 percent for those with $1 billion or more. We are not just talking about giving “two cents” (on each dollar) more.

How would the federal government determine the amount of wealth to be taxed and confiscated? When would it be paid? How much stock will needed (needlessly?) be sold (maybe even at loss) and how much will be immediately bought back? What’s the algorithmic multi-billion dollar impact on the 52 percent of the country investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds for their retirement or children’s education?

Is this tax, constitutional? Are we talking about double taxation? More to the point, do we want as a nation to empower … there’s that verb again … our massive government to punitively confiscate wealth and with it, achievement? How about a tax on lower upper class wealth? Ditto for a levy on upper middle class wealth? And how about … ? The possibilities are limitless.

Three European nations still impose wealth taxes: Norway, Spain and Switzerland. How’s Spain doing?

Eleven European nations have rescinded their wealth taxes: Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Sweden.

That’s right, wealth taxes didn’t work in Denmark and Sweden, why should it fly in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?

According to the stately The Economist, Warren’s all-government all-the-time programs include requiring Amazon, Facebook and Google to be regulated as platform utilities (before or after their breakups?), 40 percent of all board seats held by “public reps” (read, unions), bans on nuclear power and fracking, 75 percent lobbying taxes, 37 percent taxes on capital gains, and the imposition of taxes on unsold stocks (employing Enron-style mark-to-market accounting or MTM) … and the list goes on and on and on.

Warren supporters caution America’s Investor Class (52 percent of the entire nation) not to worry; her plan will eventually be watered down or not approved. If so … what’s the point?

Are Warrenites and Sandernistas supporting Republican control of at least one house to serve as a check and a balance to radicalism? Didn’t think so.

Some see Warren as a Socialist champion against Capitalism or buy low sell high.

Instead, Almost DailyBrett sees Bernie and Elizabeth as two peas in the same pod.

They are threatening our economic freedom. They will dip into our wallets, and deny us benefits and physician choices we already enjoy. The only winner? Big government.

Instead of wisely controlling the size and scope of government, some will be cool with a greatly empowered … there’s that verb again … carnivorous federal bureaucracy with even more power over our individual abilities to chart our own financial futures.

Be afraid … be very, very afraid.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/elizabeth-warren-wealth-tax-european-nations/

https://slate.com/business/2019/11/elizabeth-warrens-health-care-medicare-for-all-single-payer-unfair.html

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/10/24/elizabeth-warrens-many-plans-would-reshape-american-capitalism

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/07/how-would-elizabeth-warren-pay-for-her-health-policy

https://slate.com/technology/2019/10/mark-zuckerberg-said-elizabeth-warrens-presidency-would-suck-for-us.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/how-blue-cross-saved-my-bacon/

During the course of your author’s life there have been four seminal events, each prompting the question: ‘Where were you when you heard … ?’

For Baby Boomer Almost DailyBrett, these were the four history changing news stories of a lifetime: JFK’s assassination (1963), Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon (1969), the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the September 11 attacks (2001).

Ironically, it was a fatal PR mistake 30 years ago that triggered the final inevitable fall of the Wall, and with it the ultimate demise of Soviet Union-style Communism.

East Germany’s Günter Schabowski was tasked with announcing the planned travel policy easing of the so-called German Democratic Republic’s (Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR). When he was asked if the changes applied immediately … his assumed “as far as I know” response without reading the policy paper …  was affirmative.

Unintentionally he ignited the storming of the DDR’s borders, and most of all the toppling of the Berlin Wall.

Today ein Stück der Mauer prominently sits beside the elbow of your author, accompanying the futile search for the appropriate English words to recapture the global significance of this epochal event.

Tomorrow will mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the monstrous Berlin Wall (1961-1989), leading directly to the reunification of Germany and the end of the Communist menace in Russia and Eastern Europe. The world is a safer place as result of overjoyed Ossies walking and driving with their sputtering Trabants  across East Germany’s borders to freedom, one of them being a woman by the name of … Angela Merkel.

She started the evening consuming a beer in a sauna east of the wall, and ended the evening drinking a celebratory brew from a bottle with a label she had never seen before on the west side of the wall. Today, she is the Chancellor of the reunified (Wiedervereinigung) Federal Republic of Germany.

Giving Proper Credit For The End Of Communism

“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” — President Ronald Reagan speaking before the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall

If you ever travel to Berlin to touch the remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall, be sure to take the time to check out The Checkpoint Charlie Museum. The visitor can stand without fear on the very spot on the Friedrichstrasse in which American and Soviet tanks went eyeball to eyeball with each other. A critical miscalculation could have triggered a nuclear World War III.

Former Wall Street Journal Berlin bureau chief Frederick Kempe’s “Berlin 1961, Kennedy, Khrushchev And The Most Dangerous Place On Earth” vividly recounts the tension of the superpower standoff. The museum also recounts these days, and the ingenious plots to escape East Germany and its hideous wall.

A separate wing of the museum is devoted to Reagan, his Tear Down This Wall speech on continuous loop, and his pivotal role in ending the Cold War.

And yet there is a debate to this day about who should take the lion’s share of the credit for putting together the plan, which led to the demise of the wall and the end of Communism.

The names in alphabetical order of Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl, Pope Paul II and Margaret Thatcher all played a role in this transformation, and each should take a bow.

For Almost DailyBrett and those who despise historical revisionism for purely political purposes, Ronald Reagan will always take center stage in the eyes of history. He rejected detente or merely accepting Communist domination from Berlin to Vladivostok. Instead his policy was simple: “We win, they lose.”

The USSR lost.

Another winner was Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1930-2017), who skillfully linked and achieved feared German reunification with the success of the European Union.  “German and European Unification are two sides of the same coin.” („Deutsche und europäische Einigung sind zwei Seiten einer Medaille.“)

Today, Germany along with France are the de-facto leaders of Europe … regardless of when Britain leaves the EU. Germany has acknowledged, addressed and atoned its dark past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), particularly the 12 horrid years of Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust.

“The thought that a great nation (Germany) that had run amok should repent its crimes to the world. What other country has ever done such as thing?” — The character “Ed” quoting himself in John le Carré’s Agent Running in the Field

And “Ed” speaking about yesterday leading to today:

“Germany was the cat’s whiskers. It’s citizens were simply the best Europeans ever. No other nation holds a candle to Germans, not when it comes to understanding what the European union is all about.”

Naturally, the point of emphasis is made by literary master John le Carré.

And it all started The Night The Wall Came Tumbling Down.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://www.forbes.com/profile/angela-merkel/#71bd54c022dd

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/cool-calm-and-collected-germany/

Hell knows no fury like a Hillary scorned.

Bitter Hillary was rejected by her own party in 2008, and eight years later she lost to (gasp) … Donald Trump.

And to top it off, her husband was less than semper pi. His name is … Bill.

What’s a Hillary to do? How about getting into a public spat with Tulsi?

Tulsi Who? “Favorite of the Russians”?

Are we talking about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) an after thought in the Democratic presidential nominating contest … until now? Her RealClear Politics average stands at 2.0 percent. That’s it.

Almost DailyBrett must pause here to ask:

Why is Hillary providing Tulsi (“holy basil” in Hindu) with manna from publicity heaven, an amazing public relations gift of a nationally covered food fight with a notorious and reviled party stalwart?

Considering that Hillary has a long-track record as the nation’s first lady, a U.S. Senator from New York, the nation’s secretary of state and the first woman presidential nominee in the country’s history, why isn’t she using her record to project herself as a senior stateswoman? She could be a modern-day Richard Nixon.

With all due respect, Tulsi should not be on Hillary’s personal radar. Baring a political miracle, Tulsi is not going to win the party’s nomination for president.

Somehow, someway Tulsi got under Hillary’s thin skin and triggered an inappropriate response. Why is Hillary providing Tulsi with a new platform? When you are seen as an enemy of Hillary that designation instantly attracts attention and new friends.

Worse yet Hillary believes the Russians are behind Tulsi’s campaign, maybe even as a third-party stalking horse. Another vodka, Madam Secretary?

It’s obvious that Hillary isn’t going away … quietly. Is this screed, Hillary’s definition of ethos? 

Tulsi’s 15 Minutes of Fame, And Then Some?

Almost DailyBrett counsels employing social media strategically, but not the above tweet, which goes far … way too far.

“Great! Thank you @Hillary Clinton” was probably all that was needed. Tulsi’s joyful and grateful response is more than appropriate.

As Michelle Obama once famously said: “When they go low, we go high.” There’s no reason for Tulsi to race Hillary to the bottom, just bask off the glow of windfall media attention, and fully exploit a fantabulous public relations opportunity.

Your author suspects there is more that inexplicably prompted Madam Secretary without any forewarning to go after a mere member of Congress of her own party.

Telegenic and fearless, the 38-years-young Tulsi is a fourth-term member of Congress (e.g., Hawaii’s 2nd District) and the nation’s first Samoan-American representative. She is an accomplished major in the Hawaii National Guard having served two tours in the Middle East: Iraq in 2004-2005 and Kuwait in 2008-2009.

As such she projects reasonable gravitas, her views on foreign policy should be respected.

Tulsi exhibits a strong anti-interventionist streak. opposing “regime-change wars” and wanting the U.S. out of Syria and Afghanistan. She is a moderate, putting her at political and maybe personal odds with Hillary.

Why Hillary chose to elevate Tulsi at this time, when the nomination is crystalizing around bumbling former Vice President Joe Biden and confiscatory Senator Elizabeth Warren, is inexplicably beyond the pay grade of Almost DailyBrett. 

Guess it must be time: Tulsi Time.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/10/24/what-feud-between-tulsi-gabbard-and-hillary-clinton-about/4082268002/

https://www.businessinsider.com/who-is-tulsi-gabbard-bio-age-family-key-positions-2019-4

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1101/holy-basil

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/us/2020_democratic_presidential_nomination-6730.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/11/13/the-new-nixon-and-the-newest-hillary/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/what-happened/

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