Category: Germany


Angela Merkel is not a feminist.

There is no need for her to talk about breaking through any glass ceilings. In her own characteristic quiet and unassuming way, Merkel smashed it 12 years ago, and just did it again for the third time.

For maybe the first time since the end of occupation in 1949 Germany is a quiet, normal and happy nation, an obvious contrast to the Brexit Brits or the Trump-era Americans.

Today she is the thrice re-elected Chancellor of the patriarchal Fatherland, who just happens to be a woman … a great woman.

The soft-spoken Merkel is the most powerful voice in Europe. Some refer to her as the leader of the free world, a designation she does not want and a role that is simply too big for Germany and its 82 million people. The Economist accurately portrays Merkel’s Germany as the “reluctant hegemon.”

Merkel is on track to becoming one of the longest serving and most likely one of the greatest Kanzlers in the history of the Federal Republic of Deutschland (Bundesrepublik). Her only historical rivals are the memories of Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl.

Best of all, there is no need for Merkel to speak in the first-person singular: Ich, Mein, Mich. She prefers to talk about das Land, Deutschland.

Her campaign motto: “A Germany where we live well and gladly.” To Almost DailyBrett, this wordy mantra conjures pleasant memories of “Morning in America.”

Missing The Real Story … Again

Alas, despite Merkel’s historic accomplishments the media seems preoccupied with the initial third-place entrance of the anti-EU, anti-refugee Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) into the legislative Bundestag with about 13 percent of the vote.

With all due respect to the all-knowing and hyperventilating Fourth Estate, that’s not the story. Think of it this way: 87 percent of German voters opted for other parties, while re-electing Angela Merkel.

Maybe Merkel has unintentionally taught the world an answer to unfortunate/systemic misogyny and sexism:

Undoubtedly influenced by her Ph.D in quantum chemistry, Merkel scientifically examines the issue at hand, seeks input from a variety of sources, prepares soundly, and announces a reasoned decision. There is no place for high oratory about glass ceilings in a nation that no longer wants oratory and political symbolism/pageantry. Instead her secret is to get the job done and to do it well.

Indeed, good government is good politics.

Dealing with Germany’s past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), the nation now more than ever seeks order (Ordnung).

Merkel does not rattle the collective cages of the Fatherland’s patriarchy. She has been pejoratively labeled “Mutti,” a German diminutive of “mother.” Merkel wears this soft-sounding invective as a badge, once proclaiming that Germany is in good hands (and care) with her leadership.

Despite being labeled as the leader of the Western world, the center-right chancellor wants to work within the framework of the European Union and NATO. Since the founding of the EU, Europe has enjoyed the longest period of sustained peace in the continent’s history.

In her victory speech — that didn’t sound like a victory speech – Merkel said that she will examine why some Germans voted for the AfD, and explore how her CDU/CSU party can appeal to these poor souls.

The immediate task is the formation of a coalition government, most likely a Jamaica coalition that mirrors the colors of the island nation’s flag: CDU/CSU (black); Free Democrats (yellow) and Die Grünen (naturally … green).

After the coalition building process is done, Merkel will go back to systemically addressing issues at home and throughout Europe in her time-tested consensus building approach. There will be no time to talk and muse about her place in history.

And when it comes time for an assessment about “What Happened” during her tenure, Merkel will gladly leave that task to others.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41376577

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/24/world/europe/germany-election-merkel.html?mcubz=1

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/bundestagswahl-im-sz-liveblog-bundestag-waechst-wohl-um-mindestens-sitze-1.3671253

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/sunday-review/angela-merkel-feminist-germany.html

https://www.economist.com/blogs/kaffeeklatsch/2017/09/next-bundestag

https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21728641-assessing-leader-inscrutable-sphinxes-divas-and-queens-how-angela-merkel-changing

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

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

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The BMW Museum and BMW World are located directly across from each other at the headquarters of the luxury auto/motorcycle designer/manufacturer in München.

Bayerische Motoren Werke (e.g., Bavarian Motor Works or BMW) adopted the tag, keeping faith with the “Rule of Three”: The Ultimate Driving Machine.

Based upon the company’s expert use of the English language and conceivably the home German Sprache as well, BMW achieved the much desired marketing goal of less is more.

Translated, BMW was able to deliver a compelling message to its target audiences (i.e., customers, media, shareholders, suppliers) using an economy of words. At the same time, each word has purpose with a powerful amplifying adjective to enhance the corporate brand and to drive sales (no pun intended).

And for the most part there is little repetition of words and no clichés (see “solutions”).

Here is how BMW at its museum describes its legendary design and engineering prowess:

 

Let’s breakdown BMW’s 101-word statement by sentence with a focus on carefully selected nouns and powerful modifying adjectives. The Almost DailyBrett (ADB) commentary follows each sentence.

“At BMW, designs are created by people for people.

ADB: The brand is immediately identified. Short, punchy attention-grabbing opening.

“In an inspiring culture of dialogue, a wide variety of disciplines, expertise and experience are combined to become an unrivaled creative force.

ADB: Skillful use of the Rule of Three: disciplines, expertise and experience. Powerful adjectives modifying concluding noun – unrivaled creative force.

“The common goal is to achieve the perfect harmonious development process for designing a vehicle.

ADB: BMW designers and engineers work as a team, using “the perfect harmonious development process … .” All organizations seek out skillful team players.

“The unique feature of this process is the internal design competition.

ADB: The “unique” feature is “competition” in internal design. As Martha would say, creative tension is a ‘Good thing.’

“It ensures the power of innovation is always present.

ADB: “Power” and “Innovation” are two of the most vibrant words in any language

“Only a strong team with a professional approach can successfully complete this demanding competitive stage.

ADB: This statement misses no opportunities to present compelling nouns with enhancing adjectives: Strong before team; Successfully before complete; Demanding and competitive before stage.

“Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection and a passion for every single detail are the key elements in producing a successful design.”

ADB: Rule of Three once again – Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection. Pathos or passion for every single detail. Key modifying elements. Strong verb: producing. Successful before design.

Let’s face it. Marketing in the 21st Century is far too many times subject to clichés or lazy combinations of buzz words.

For example, FedEx shamefully took the overused “Sustainable” and the mind-numbing “Solutions” and came up with … you guessed it … “Sustainable Solutions” for its ad about how the package carrying company’s planes and trucks protect the critters in the forest.

Gag!

How’s that for green washing on steroids?

Less is More

“The way in which information is exchanged so quickly has forever changed the way in which people want to consume information. They demand that things be condensed into 20-second sound bites. With complex problems, this is exceedingly difficult, but to be an effective communicator and leader you need to be able to condense complex items down to the core and be able to do this quickly.” – Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister.

Certainly, BMW is not the only company on the planet that makes the most out of the least number of words. Having said that, BMW is mindful of Prime Minister Blair’s admonition, which is particularly relevant in our microscopic-attention span, texting culture.

 

Here are the nouns that BMW chronologically chose to tell the story: Designs, Culture, Dialogue, Disciplines, Expertise, Experience, Force, Goal, Development Process, Features, Competition, Power, Innovation, Team, Approach, Commitment, Enthusiasm, Perfection, Passion.

Now let’s examine the adjectives – once again in chronological sequence – to amplify the nouns to present BMW’s engineering culture: Inspiring, Unrivaled. Creative, Perfect, Harmonious, Unique, Internal, Strong, Professional, Demanding, Competitive, Successful.

Almost DailyBrett is fired up after reviewing that list.

As an assistant professor of public relations, investor relations and integrated marketing communications, your author knows the bottom line is to tell the story, and to tell it well.

BMW achieved this worthy goal in just 101 skillfully chosen words and bolstered the legendary, iconic brand as well.

Wunderbar!

Are the Germans finally – after all these years — happy?

If they are for the most part smiling about life, doesn’t that mean good news for the incumbent-chancellor-running-for-re-election, Angela Merkel?

Doesn’t good government translate into good politics?

And yet there’s so much for her to fear.

The Governor George Deukmejian Laws of Politics are two-fold: Always run as if you are running behind; and never take anything for granted.

Consider that two years ago, a national F-U movement led to Brexit, and the U.K.’s upcoming departure from the strictures of the EU.

Last year America’s fly-over states pointed their collective middle fingers into the sky, and elected Donald Trump as president.

How are Brexit and Donald Trump working out?

During the past three weeks, the author of Almost DailyBrett has been informally sounding out das Volk on trains, in Bier Gartens, in hotel lobbies (all very unscientific and anecdotal) about their views about the state of their country.

When asked if they are truly happy, they seem a little startled by the sophomoric question from a simple blog author. After devoting more than a few brain cells, they come back to the conclusion that Germany is successful (e.g., low unemployment rate of 3.9 percent).

If James Carville was correct in 1992 that “It’s the economy stupid,” then the prospects are good for Frau Merkel on September 24. As The Economist reported last month, Germany has the largest trade balance in the world at $300 billion.

The nation’s budget is not only balanced, it reflects a surplus. Inflation is low at a microscopic 0.4 percent. Personal savings are high. German engineering is legendary. Alles ist in Ordnung.

Has Germany’s Standard of Living Passed America’s?

When the author of Almost DailyBrett visited divided Germany for the first time 30 years ago, the question of German happiness would seem silly. In fact, one would not even imagine, posing that interrogative.

Sitting on the terrace of the Burg Hotel Auf Schönburg in Oberwesel on the Rhine River, one can easily imagine the DAX equivalent of the Dow Transports are easily going upwards to the right. Passenger and freight ships glide northwards on the Rhine or swim similar to salmon against the currents.

Trains emerge and disappear into tunnels. Passenger cars move along the two shores or just miles away race along the no-speed limit autobahns.

German cities including Berlin, Nürnberg and München are bustling with shoppers in the stores. Spaces in the sidewalk cafes are hard to find. The large beer gardens (e.g., München’s Viktualien Markt) are jammed from happy hour into the night.

The smaller tourist towns (i.e., Heidelberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bacharach) are luring visitors seeking out castles, half-timbered houses, gardens and the white wine fruit of the vineyards.

Virtually everywhere are solar panels, modern windmills and soon electric cars from BMW and Tesla. Recycling is the rage, and clear demarcations lead to largely harmonious co-existence between walkers and bike riders.

Many have ruminated about Germany’s angst about Vergangenheitsbewältigung or dealing with the past, namely the Hitler era between 1933-1945. The Germans have addressed these horrific years by acknowledging responsibility, building monuments to the past (e.g., Holocaust Memorial in Berlin) or “Documentation Centers,” such as the one near the former Nazi parade grounds in Nürnberg or a Bunker Museum in Berlin.

Nothing has been forgotten. Everything has been acknowledged. History is all there in broad daylight. The Reichstag dome is transparent to signal a change in the national approach to governance.

Is It Truly Morning in Germany?

Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1984 under the banner, “Morning in America.”

The message was patriotism, good times, and a promising tomorrow. Reagan won 49 of 50 states that November.

Merkel is courageously embracing the German flag – the black, red and gold tricolor – as she presents her three-term administration for another four years next month. Germans proudly wave their democratic flag in Deutsche Fussballbund games. The message is love of land, not nationalism. Those unfortunate days for the latter are gone, and for good reason.

Will Angela Merkel win in September embracing the flag, and essentially saying it is indeed “Morning in Germany”? Her latest campaign ad reflects that strategy.

Almost DailyBrett was wrong about Brexit and the same about Trump. These undeniable points need to be acknowledged. And yet, there are no strident middle fingers to be seen in today’s Germany.

The collective mood points to the prospect of a smiling Angela Merkel on September 24. If so, Germany will continue to be in Mutti’s sure hands.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/germans-are-learning-to-love-germany-again-and-merkel-takes-note/2017/07/20/28951bbe-68a8-11e7-94ab-5b1f0ff459df_story.html?utm_term=.147da70955c9

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/the-new-german-problem/

http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/ronald-reagan/videos/morning-in-america

https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21724810-country-saves-too-much-and-spends-too-little-why-germanys-current-account-surplus-bad

https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21724801-germany-admired-its-stability-derided-persistent-trade-surpluses-good-and-bad

 

 

It’s not whose army wins, it’s also whose story wins. And we have to think more about narratives and whose narrative is going to be the most effective.” – Harvard Kennedy School Political Science Professor Joseph Nye, 2010 TED Talk

The U.S. ranks No. 1 for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at $18.56 trillion, and holds the top position in The National Brand Index.

When it comes to “hard power,” including its military and its economy, the U.S. has no rivals … at least for the immediate future.

Despite these clear hard-power advantages, the U.S. reportedly spent $670 million for “public diplomacy” in 2014, according to George Washington University professor of political science David Shambaugh.

In contrast, China spends $10 billion annually to project itself as a “soft power.”

China as a soft power? In essence, the answer is affirmative. China recognizes it needs more than the collective power of its 1.37 billion people, its second-ranking $11.39 trillion economy, and its growing military strength. China is trying to promote its distinct culture, its language and market its country as a place to invest and visit.

The aforementioned Professor Nye is widely credited with formulating the notion of “soft power” or projecting what you have in terms of culture, language, business, tourism etc. to those who may want the same.

Some contend as mentioned in the stately The Economist that a totalitarian state (e.g., China) may not effectively exhibit soft power as it may be interpreted as single-party propaganda. And yet China created The Confucius Institute in 2004 to entice the appreciation of its culture, to lure hundreds of thousands to study its difficult language and visit and invest in China.

Is the Politburo in Beijing trying to buy love?

From The Devastation of War, Occupation, Division and the Holocaust

The activities of the Goethe Institut improve Germany’s reputation abroad, enhance the quality of German-language teaching, contribute to the development of the German language, promote German artists worldwide, and attract talented youth and professionals to Germany.” – Tatiana Lanshina, “The Goethe Institute and Soft Power”

Germany experimented twice in “hard power” in the 20th Century … and lost big time, both times.

In 1951, Germany’s public relations (Öffentlichkeitsarbeit) were understandably at an all-time low … most likely the deepest nadir experienced by any country at any time. Interest in German Kultur, Sprache and Land was close to nil.

These facts did not stop Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the German government from creating the Goethe Institut in 1951. The mission of this 350-Euro non-profit organization, drawing the majority of its funds from the German foreign ministry, was to use the forgiveness of time to eventually and systematically regain interest in Das Land in der Mitte (The country in the middle of Europe).

Fast forward to today, Germany is No. 2 in the National Brand Index trailing only the United States. The country’s transformation from an international pariah to revered is nothing less than a public relations miracle (Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder).

The author of Almost DailyBrett has a framed Goethe Institut Zertifikat B1 for German language study in his office at Central Washington University. Is the Goethe Institut solely responsible for Germany’s resurrection? Of course not.

There are many other determinants including the reunification, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Economic Miracle, the Marshall Plan, Made in Germany, four World Cup wins, German business success, Germany’s hegemony in the European Union, the popularity of Angela Merkel and many other factors.

Germany understands more than other nations that hard power is not the answer. China obviously appreciates this fact as well. Ditto France with its Alliance Francaise, Italy with its Societa Dante Alighieri, Great Britain with its British Council, Spain with its Instituto Cervantes and Portugal with its Instituto Camoes.

All of the above brings up the obviously question: Who and what projects “soft power” for the United States? One other question: Are we satisfied with the answers?

Donald Trump, Hollyweird, American Media?

Certainly, the U.S. is nowhere near the lousy image that Germany endured – and still suffers – as a result of the 12 years of Hitler and the Nazis. Nonetheless, the U.S. image at home and abroad is less than ideal regardless of the nation’s military and economic hard-power advantages and the country’s number one ranking in the National Brand Index.

Who sets the tone for the United States of America?

Try traveling abroad and see how many times you are asked about Donald Trump once it becomes known that you reside in the Land of Uncle Sam? Does the intemperate, nocturnal Tweeter-in-Chief send the best of image of the red, white and blue across the fruited plain and across the ponds?

How about Hollyweird and the denizens of the TMZ?

The entertainment industry can’t even deliver the right envelope for its biggest announcement of the year (e.g., Oscar for Best Picture) at its most celebrated venue (e.g., The 2017 Academy Awards). Do we really want to entrust our soft power to this motley crew?

When it comes to our elite media, the American public sold the stock and voted them out of office. According to Gallup, the Woodward & Bernstein media of 1976 enjoyed a 72 percent approval rating. Last year, the same polling firm recorded a 32 percent approval rating for the boys and girls of the Fourth Estate, a 55.5 percent decline in the last 40 years.

If the American public is turned off by our nattering nabobs of negativism, why would those beyond our borders respect their interpretations of American soft power?

Maybe the time has come for a non-profit, soft-power Mark Twain, Will Rogers or some other American literary giant institute to celebrate American culture (e.g., baseball, hot dogs and apple pie), our unique take on the English language, and the USA as a wonderful place for investment and tourism?

Or maybe we can instead just leave the task to Donald Trump, Hollyweird and the failing American elite media?

https://www.economist.com/news/china/21719508-can-money-buy-sort-thing-china-spending-billions-make-world-love-it

http://www.ted.com/talks/joseph_nye_on_global_power_shifts

http://www.demdigest.net/tag/soft-power/

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

https://www.goethe.de/en/index.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/25/enemy-of-the-american-people/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx

 

 

“ … The old divide between left and right is growing less important than a new one between open and closed.” – The Economist, March 4, 2017

During the Cold War, the communism vs. capitalism divide was referred to as a contest of wills between “East and West.”

Even today, we use directions to describe the dangerous world of dark-and-foreboding North Korea and the bright lights of cosmopolitan-industrial powerhouse South Korea.

For more than 100 years, there were the Democrats from the left (e.g., Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and Republicans from the right (e.g. Ronald Reagan).

Reagan just turned over in his grave.

Reagan will be forever remembered for his controversial call, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this (Berlin) wall.” The eternally optimistic Republican president embraced neo-liberal open markets, globalization and free enterprise.

In contrast, Reagan’s “Republican” successor Donald J. Trump wants to build a wall. He implores American governments and businesses to his brand of populism, calling for them to “buy American” and “hire American.” There is open talk of “border adjustment taxes,” a taxing concept which would be an anathema to Reagan.

Against this backdrop, guess who is coming to visit The Donald this Tuesday? Frau “Open” (Offen) Angela Merkel, the chancellor of the nearly $300-billion world’s largest account surplus, export-powerhouse Germany.

Making the proceedings even more tender and sensitive is the fact that Americans buy 107 billion Euros worth of German goods each year, while Germans purchase 57 billion of American output per annum.

Translated: Americans consume German cars (e.g., BMW, Mercedes, Audi, VW) and down German beer, while Germans favor their own automotive companies and refuse to drink “dishwater” (e.g., Anheuser Busch products).

Using old thinking, one would conclude that moderate-conservative Christian Democrat Angela Merkel would be to the left of a right-wing Republican president. Instead, we need to recalibrate how we view our divided world with Merkel serving as the neo-liberal (open) and Trump as the isolationist (closed).

Global F.U. Votes?

“Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘fuck you’ ever recorded in human history — and it will feel good.” – Liberal film-maker Michael Moore.

International public relations pros, journalists, pundits and campaign managers need to change their ways of thinking. Left vs. right used to be so simple – oh so simple. Those thoughts are no longer operative as a populist “Human Molotov Cocktail” took over the Republican Party and the White House and dared the party (and Wall Street too) to follow in his protectionist footsteps.

No respectable elite on the Old-World side of the pond saw Brexit coming, until it did. The Midlands overwhelming sent an F-U message to London, Brussels and Berlin. Score a major win for the “closed” crowd.

Surely, the same would not occur in the United States or so we were told our Harvard-heads pundits and pollsters? They missed the F.U. vote with the “Blue Wall” falling in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Looking forward to the next month, France will be making a similar choice between “open” Emmanuel Marcon of the En Marche! Neo-liberal, pro-trade, pro-competition, pro-immigration and pro-EU stances and “closed” Marine LePen of the National Front, who not-so-secretly wants an exit referendum on the EU and the reintroduction of the French franc.

Will France be the third industrial economy F-U vote in a little less than one year?

Undoubtedly, this undeniable trend is on the radar screen of Angela Merkel. Will she enter the White House this week from a position of strength or weakness?

Keep in mind that Almost DailyBrett and many others originally thought she was a shoe-in to be elected for her fourth term as Kanzlerin this coming September. The same thinking applied to the inevitability of Hillary Clinton becoming the first Frau President of the United States.

Merkel’s decision and subsequent pull-back to welcome (e.g., Willkommenskultur) more than 1 million Syrian refugees to Deutschland appears to be a political loser. Her re-election after 12 years in office is anything but secure now as she trails Martin Schulz of the Social Democrat Party, and the (closed) Alternative für Deutschland is gaining strength.

Could France and Germany be the latest in a string of F.U. votes? Will that mean the end of the European Union as we know it? Is this trend the end of traditional left vs. right?

Welcome to a new way of political thinking.

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21717814-why-french-presidential-election-will-have-consequences-far-beyond-its-borders-vote

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/merkel-prepares-for-difficult-visit-with-donald-trump-a-1138244.html

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21716641-not-reasons-donald-trump-thinks-it-germanys-current-account-surplus-problem

http://www.salon.com/2016/10/26/michael-moore-people-will-vote-for-donald-trump-as-a-giant-fk-you-and-hell-win/

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/766256/Angela-Merkel-Martin-Schulz-SDP-CDU-German-election-polls

The dog does not bother you, does she? She’s a friendly dog and I’m sure she will behave herself.” – Russian President Introducing “Koni,” the black lab, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007

“It (Koni) doesn’t eat journalists, after all?” – German Chancellor Angela Merkel

putinmerkelkoni

Even though the canine caper happened 10 years ago, Almost DailyBrett contends that Vladimir Putin’s Machiavellian ploy was clearly intended to intimidate and embarrass Kanzlerin Merkel. And considering the recent seismic shifts in global politics, the incident is more relevant than ever.

The most powerful woman on the planet has a well-documented case of cynophobia. She was attacked by a dog in 1995. She clearly does not relish any contact with man’s best friend, including Putin’s best canine.

During the January 21, 2007 summit with Merkel at his summer residence in Sochi, Putin’s eight-year-old Labrador retriever, Koni, made a cameo appearance during their negotiations. Even though she tried to appear cool, calm and collected, Merkel was clearly uncomfortable and unnerved by the sniffing dog.

When asked about the incident last year by the German periodical Bild, Putin insisted he did not know about Merkel’s fear of dogs.

“I wanted to do something nice for her (Merkel). When I found out that she doesn’t like dogs, of course I apologized.” – Russian President Vladimir Putin

“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.” – Kanzlerin Angela Merkel

putinmerkelkoni1

Putin Exploiting Donald Trump’s Weaknesses?

At some point, at some venue, at some pre-determined time, Donald Trump is going to meet Vladimir Putin. Will the Russian leader try to do something “nice” for the new American president?

Russia’s legendary xenophobia, coupled with its record of hacking and espionage, will certainly encourage Putin to seek out and fully exploit Trump’s personal weaknesses.

Who would have thought that a fear of dogs would be a weak point for the chancellor of the fourth largest economy of the world and the de-facto leader of the European Union? Putin obviously knew this fact, and used his Labrador to get inside of Merkel’s head.

If the tenets of military strategy are to capitalize on one’s advantages and exploit the weaknesses of an adversary, then it’s safe to assume that Putin is carefully studying Donald Trump.

trumpputinhorse

In many ways Trump and Putin are similar, but Almost DailyBrett takes issue with any discussion of a “Bromance.” Heck, they have not even met each other.

Having taken care of that silly reference, one can safely conclude they are both demagogic, alpha males with a craving for public attention and reverence. In particular, Trump is known for his thin-skin and is quick to take offense, particularly via Twitter. Will this failing be an opening for Putin to exploit?

At the same time, it is well known the Soviets took note of President Ronald Reagan publicly firing the members of the striking Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) in August, 1981. The president knew he was jeopardizing thousands of vacations and even worse risking the possibility of mid-air collisions in the skies. Putin was a key operative in the Soviet Union’s KGB at the time.

reaganpatco

Reagan was roundly criticized for exhibiting strength, and the same applies to Trump. Putin is becoming aware of Trump’s demonstrations of bravado, while at the same time finding out more about Trump’s weaknesses. Call it “opposition research” or “oppo.”

One “nice” thing that Trump does not need to worry about when he finally meets Putin, “Koni” will not be making a cameo appearance. Alas, Koni lived for 15-years, before finally buying the kennel in 2014.

The new president would be wise to remember what Harry S. Truman once said: “If you need a friend in Washington, D.C., get a dog.”

http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/wladimir-putin/interview-mit-dem-russischen-praesidenten-russland-44091672.bild.html

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/12/europe/putin-merkel-scared-dog/

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/20/world/europe/germany-merkel-profile/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/12094074/Vladimir-Putin-denies-setting-his-dog-on-Angela-Merkel.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/vladimir-putin-says-he-didnt-intend-to-scare-dog-phobic-angela-merkel-when-he-brought-his-labrador-a6805801.html

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/germanys-angela-merkel-afraid-one-thing-its-not-david-cameron-1482159

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

http://time.com/4139802/time-person-of-the-year-angela-merkel-surprising-facts/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konni_(dog)

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/03/opinion/reagan-vs-patco-the-strike-that-busted-unions.html

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time in the planet’s history, women are poised to serve as heads of state for three-of-the-five largest economies of the world: Angela Merkel, Kanzerlin of Germany; Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Hillary Clinton, President of the United States.hillarytheresaangela

And let’s not forget the head of the U.S. Bank is Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

It’s great news for women as yet more glass ceilings are finally being broken on both sides of the pond … but the question needs to be asked: What’s not-happening with far too many men?

Is the rising tide for women raising all boats? The answer is far too men are up a creek without a paddle or at least that would seem to be the case.

Do these men even care?

Should they care?

What’s to become of this now troubled gender demographic?

The author of Almost DailyBrett grew up during the Pleistocene fully anticipating that he would support his spouse and assist in the raising of a family.normanrockwell

As a GEICO ad suggests, “It’s what you do.”

Or should we now say, “It’s what many of us used to do?”

Columnist and über-brain George Will recently wrote about the “quiet catastrophe” of one-third of working-age American men who are by choice “economically inactive.” The vast majority of these underachievers are idly sitting around day-in and day-out watching a daily average of 5.5 hours of TV, playing video games, and checking out digitally streamed movies.

In the meantime, the so-called “little woman” is out there working not to just “Stand By Your Man” as Tammy Wynette would suggest, but to fully support her idle spouse and her family too.

Almost DailyBrett was downright surprised to hear about women justifiably complaining about being required to support not only their children, but their lay-about husbands/boyfriends as well. According to the OECD, the United States leads all industrialized nations in inactive 25-54 men with the exception of Italy (Le Dolce Vida).malevideogames

The official Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics first-Friday-of-the-month “jobs report” released for October 2016 reported a 4.9 percent unemployment rate, 4.6 percent for adult men and 4.3 percent for adult women.

These somewhat-positive numbers are unfortunately deceptive, unintentionally painting a rosier picture particularly for men. These results reflect only those who are actively participating in the labor force (e.g., employed, underemployed or out looking for a job) … and those numbers are declining.

Since 1948, the proportion of men 20-and-older without paid work has doubled to nearly 32 percent or one-out-of-every-three-working-age-males.

How many men aged 25-54 are not pounding the pavement? What’s their future? Are they merely running out the clock until the Grim Reaper arrives?

What’s on Netflix anyway?

“Economically Inactive”

“In America today, compared with 50 years ago, three times as many working-age men are completely outside the work force … Feeling superfluous is a blow to the human spirit. It leads to social isolation and emotional pain, and creates the conditions for negative emotions to take root.” — The Dalai Lama and Arthur C. Brooks

“Donald Trump is perhaps perverse evidence that some of his army of angry men are at least healthily unhappy about the loss of meaning, self-esteem and masculinity that is a consequence of chosen and protracted idleness.” – Washington Post Columnist George Will

Nicholas Eberstadt’s new monograph “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis” points to Social Security Administration stats that revealed one disabled non-worker for every 134 workers in 1960. Fast forward five decades and the number falls to one disabled non-worker for every 16 workers in 2010.couch-potato

Worse, in just seven years the number of those on disability has risen from 7.4 million in 2009 to a record 8.9 million now, a 20 percent increase. As a result of government assistance and support by other family members (e.g., women), Eberstadt said these non-working men between 25-54 years of age “appear to be better off than tens of millions of other Americans today, including millions of single mothers who are either working or seeking work.”

Almost DailyBrett does not want to be charged with merely stating the problem without offering a solution. The first point in developing a strategy to entice these males to get off their derrieres lies with the fact that the world does not value brute strength, ignorance and testosterone as it once did. Get over it.

The second is the service-driven economy is technology driven. If women can learn software and hardware, so can men.

The third is that men have been known to be competitors. It’s time to take a step back … yes, a step back and pick up the skills they need to succeed in this changing world.

As a college professor, the author of Almost DailyBrett arrives each morning and is greeted by women majority classrooms. They have rightfully chosen to compete and engage in lifelong learning. There is no reason why men can’t pull themselves away from the TV or video game console and do the same.

It’s no longer a “Man’s World,” but that should not mean the Battle of the Sexes has been won by one side at the expense of the other.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americas-quiet-catastrophe-millions-of-idle-men/2016/10/05/cd01b750-8a57-11e6-bff0-d53f592f176e_story.html?utm_term=.d5320fbd3c83&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/social-security-disability-depleted/2013/12/17/id/542390/

https://www.tammywynette.com/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jobless-by-choice–or-pain/2016/11/27/7075c720-b189-11e6-840f-e3ebab6bcdd3_story.html?utm_term=.7abf606ef0ef&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

 

 

 

 

Has it come to this?

Is it November, yet?colbertswastika

If the polls are to be believed:

The majority of Americans don’t like Hillary.

And they really detest The Donald.

Yes, it’s the worst choice in the history of the republic.

That’s a strong summation, but does anyone doubt this statement is true?

Almost DailyBrett has publicly implored for a third-choice, for a third-way.

Your author voted for John Kasich in the primary, and was thinking about writing in his name in the fall.

Now, I am not so sure.

In June, Stephen Colbert of CBS tried to be funny by drawing a swastika on a chalk board to describe Donald Trump’s political philosophy in the aftermath of terrorism against an Orlando LGBT nightclub.

And Kasich resorted to an Internet ad last November essentially making a similar comparison. How’s that for “positive” campaigning?

John, you were smart to stay away from the convention (see Ted Cruz reaction), but his ad was beneath you … way beneath you. kasichtrump

If you are going to compare America to Nazi Germany at least understand a little history first.

This Is Not a Casual Subject

Evoking memories of Hitler, the Nazis, the Gestapo, the Concentration Camps and the Holocaust for pure political purposes is the public relations equivalent of handling dynamite in a dark room.

First, this practice is insensitive to the very few remaining souls, who survived this horrific period of time (1933-1945) and their families.

Second, politics have always been as Mary Matalin described a “contact sport,” but once you bring up Hitler where do you go from there?

Third, these sorry comparisons are made without total comprehension of the eras, politics and government between the two nations.

Germany following World War I was a defeated nation under the auspices of the Versailles Treaty. The resulting Weimar Republic was weak with a myriad of political parties.

Inflation rates were out of control including a hotel room for 400,000 DM, dinner for 1.8 million DM and a half-liter of milk, 250,000 DM … and then came the Depression.

Hitler seized upon this widespread misery to gain power, never winning the majority of the popular vote. Upon becoming the leader, his party suspended (and burned) the parliamentary Reichstag and passed enabling laws making Hitler the supreme dictator of a police state on steroids. The German media was totally controlled by Joseph Goebbels’ propaganda machine. It was a well-documented nightmare from there.nazirally

In comparison, America is an exemplary nation and an enduring democracy that has stood the test of time for 240 years and counting. We won both World Wars; Germany lost two of them. We defeated Communism and helped bring down the Berlin Wall. We are the only nation to put a man on the moon.

We have a strong, if not polarized government, with two powerful political parties. We have a system of checks and balances that modulates the activities of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. We have a free, independent akin to herding cats media, representing virtually every point of view.

Inflation has not been an issue since the mid-1980s. In fact, it is running at approximately 1 percent this year potentially tipping into deflation territory. The unemployment rate stands at 4.9 percent with 287,000 jobs created in June, albeit many of these positions are part-time without benefits.

Seemingly, terrorism and police shootings du jour  give one the sense of a dark new normal. To describe Donald Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday night as dystopian is accurate. Having said that, trying to compare Trump with Der Führer strikes this humble writer as extremely careless and irresponsible.

There are oodles of reasons to oppose Trump, but the ugliest of name calling and association reduces the reputation and brand of the one making this vile comparison. Stephen Colbert doesn’t care, but John Kasich should care.

Our system of government celebrates its division, but not gridlock. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews wrote a great tome entitled “Tip and The Gipper: When Politics Worked. Ronald Reagan and the Republicans ran the executive branch. Tip O’Neill was the speaker of the house and the Democrats controlled Congress.TipGipper

Even though they saw the world very differently, these two Irish-ancestry pols respected and liked each other including frequent 6 pm adult-beverage sessions. When Reagan was shot in 1981, it was Democrat Tip O’Neill who prayed at the bedside of the Republican president.

Last week was the GOP convention in Cleveland and the rhetoric at times was white hot. This coming week is the Democrats turn in Philadelphia and the rhetorical cannons are aimed and ready to return fire.

After the last gavel comes down, one would hope we could chill for the remainder of the summer, realizing the ultimate testing ground will be the presidential debates beginning on September 26 at Hofstra University. Almost DailyBrett would gladly pay a pretty penny to sit in the first row for the ultimate political theatre: Hillary vs. The Donald.

It’s incredibly sad the world’s worst-ever human being, Hitler, is being invoked in July. One can only imagine what will follow in August … September … October … November and beyond.

Can we go any lower in terms of political invective?

It may not be Morning in America any longer, but it is not midnight either.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/did-a-perfect-storm-lead-to-the-gathering-storm/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/11/24/the-ad-in-which-john-kasichs-campaign-seems-to-compare-donald-trump-to-hitler/

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/15/entertainment/stephen-colbert-donald-trump-swastika-nazi/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/15/stephen-colberts-brutal-takedown-of-donald-trumps-orlando-response-includes-a-swastika/

http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/current-inflation-rates/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/in-search-of-a-third-option/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/back-to-the-1980s/

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If a man says something in a forest, and there is not a woman to hear him, is he still stupid?” – No Attribution Necessary

“What’s the difference between men and government bonds? Government bonds mature.”

“How can you get a man to do sit-ups? Put the remote control in-between his knees.”

Last December, Time named German Kanzlerin Angela Merkel as its “Person of the Year.” And if Merkel does not stand for re-election next year, her most likely successor for the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is … Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.merkelursula

Just this week, Home Secretary Theresa May became the second woman to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Her main competition came from Energy Minister Andrea Leadson.

And in November …

The United States of America may indeed elect Hillary Rodham Clinton as its first woman president, vanquishing über-male, Donald Trump. And her running mate very well could be Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Two women could be at the vortex of American government for their very first time.

If you are scoring at home, Clinton’s election would result for the very first time in global history, three-of-the-top five economies in the world (U.S., #1; Germany, #4 and UK #5) with women heads of state. theresamay

Despite these breakthroughs for women, there is no denying there are some very important metrics in which men still exhibit hegemony.

According to the stately Economist, men constitute 97.6 percent of Forbes self-made billionaires; 95.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs; 92.8 percent of all the heads of governments (note before May and Clinton) and 91.4 percent of central bank governors (takes into account Janet Yellen serving as the head of the Federal Reserve).

The Economist also offers a flip-side to this equation. Men comprise 93 percent of the prisoners in the United States. They are 79 percent of the global murder victims. And they are exactly two-thirds of all the suicides worldwide.

Oh How the Pendulum Swings

“You see, man made the cars to take us over the road; Man made the trains to carry heavy loads; Man made electric light to take us out of the dark; Man made the boat for the water, like Noah made the ark.” – James Brown, It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World

There were days when agrarian economies held sway. Next up, there were industrial days of manufacturing and big iron: Advantage Men.

Welcome to today’s global, technology-driven service economy: Advantage Women.

Graduates react after being recognized for their degree during the University of Wisconsin-Madison spring commencement ceremony ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

Graduates react after being recognized for their degree during the University of Wisconsin-Madison spring commencement ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

Brute strength, brawn and testosterone-drive ignorance need not apply. Instead, life-long learning, attention to detail, and critical thinking are the necessary components to succeed for at least the remainder of the 21st Century.

And who is better prepared to meet these present-day challenges and realities? The jury is getting ready to render a verdict. Your author will take “the over,” women.

As a relatively new college professor, the preponderance of women students comes as no surprise.

Consider that women outnumber men on college campuses around the world, bar South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In OECD nations (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), men earn only 42 percent of university degrees. And boys are 50 percent more likely than girls to flunk math, reading and science, ominous indicators for men in our rapidly changing global economic landscape.

One could attempt to undermine Almost DailyBrett’s argument by correctly pointing to the fact that your author teaches public relations, integrated marketing, corporate communications and investor relations – all fields that are increasingly dominated by women. It has been reported that women now make up at least 70 percent, and maybe as high as 85 percent, of public relations practitioners.

Yes, there is still latent sexism and the gender pay gap has not yet been closed in public relations, but strategies abound to do just that (see Almost DailyBrett for one view). All is not perfect for women as at least one publication describes public relations shops as a Pink Ghetto.

Let’s state here and now, and not trivialize the reality: Women’s grievances about the past are warranted.

Having said that, the future direction is the friend of women. Can’t say the same for men.gender10

If brawn is less in demand …

If manufacturing is not coming back to our shores anytime soon (sorry Donald, you are wrong on this one) …

If global competition is here to stay …

If technology gadgets continue to replace humans …

If digital reigns supreme …

If the provision of essential services with a smile, rather than a grunt, is required …

Increasingly educated-and-talented women are winning and are going to continue to win.

This realization has resulted in the angst, anxiety and anger by literally millions of men (particularly older men), faced with limited futures and scant attention from women, who (not surprised) do not want to attach their respective futures to going-nowhere-fast men … just another mouth to feed.

Besides public relations, integrated marketing, corporate communications and investor relations, women now dominate accounting, real estate, local government, retail, nursing, food preparation, education … and the list goes on.

Almost DailyBrett must state the obvious: In the present Battle of the Genders, women are winning; men are losing.

Are there still issues and inequalities for women? Yes.

However, the wind is billowing in their sails. Men for the most part are dead in the water.

When Fall rolls around, I will greet three new classes and the majority of the students … will be women. Shocking.

For older men, who are pretty beyond the age of retraining let’s face it, your life is bleak.

For younger men, you have time to get with it, namely get into the classroom, throw off your macho chains and learn, learn and learn some more.

The life-long learning global economy should ultimately benefit all of us, but first everyone must prepare themselves for our always-on, technology-driven, service-delivery world.

http://www.economist.com/news/essays/21649050-badly-educated-men-rich-countries-have-not-adapted-well-trade-technology-or-feminism

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/brexit-referendum/theresa-may-bloody-difficult-woman-be-u-k-prime-minister-n608001

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36737426

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/addressing-the-gender-pay-gap-in-public-relations/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/karma-alone-wont-cut-it-for-women-in-the-workplace/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/pr%e2%80%99s-endangered-species/

http://www.oecd.org/about/

http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/07/why-do-we-treat-pr-like-a-pink-ghetto.html#

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

 

 

 

 

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