Category: Germany


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Checks. No Balances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heroes are hard to find in Sacramento these days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is the best defense a good offense?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To The Drawing Board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.vw.com/

http://johannesleonardo.com/

“Poor old Germany. Too big for Europe, too small for the world.” – Henry Kissinger

“It is for the rising German generation … unanimously announcing their desire: not for a German Europe, but for a European Germany.” — Thomas Mann

Germany is not a chill place.

Don’t get Almost DailyBrett wrong, you certainly can have a great time in Germany (e.g., beer gardens in München, wine in castles along the Rhine).

Having said that: There is no que será, será; in Deutschland.

Since 1945, the Germans have transformed their once-devastated, occupied and divided land and through their legendary industriousness into the #4 GDP ($3.68 trillion) in the world, and the nation with the second largest trade surplus at $274 billion.

The question for today’s discussion: Why is today’s Germany cool, calm and collected compared to its once three Western occupying allies: United States, United Kingdom and, France?

Watching ARD’s Tagesschau night-after-night, your author is struck by the absence of angry talking Teutonic heads. Certainly, Germany has its share of weighty issues and political power pontificators, but there are no discussions of glorious defeat impeachment, broken down Brexit negotiations or roaming gilets jaunes (yellow vests) in the streets.

Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche promised to reform France. He quickly found out the reality of how difficult it is to change the nation that has turned defending the status quo into an art form.

Some have questioned whether the United States will ever have a woman president, three years after the stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton. Almost DailyBrett is confident the answer will eventually be “yes,’ just not Madam Secretary or any reasonable facsimile.

Theresa May serves as the U.K.’s second woman prime minister for another week, but she was eventually beaten down by as The Economist’s cover proclaimed, “The Mother of All Messes.”

Moving one time-zone to the east, one finds Kanzlerin Angela Merkel finishing her fourth term … no later than 2021 … as the first woman leader … and most likely not the last for das Vaterland.

Even though her decision to allow 1 million or more asylum seekers into Germany in 2015 was obviously too much, too fast and … let’s face it … a mistake, she will nonetheless go down in history as one of the country’s best chancellors.

Feminizing The Fatherland

Merkel has turned down the temperature in Germany. The nation even in the face of its horrific recent history (e.g., 1933-1945) has seemingly completed its Vergangenheitsbewältigung or dealing with the past.

Germany has finally become a normal country, and serves as the rock in the middle of the wobbly European Union. Britain may eventually leave the EU, but Almost DailyBrett expects the German-French leadership duopoly to endure.

Your author was amazed about the Tagesschau (Daily Show) news coverage of the resignation of the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) Andrea Nahles in the wake of the party’s poor results in the European Commission and Bremen election.

BERLIN, GERMANY – DECEMBER 07: Malu Dreyer (L) and Manuela Schwesing (R), vice-chairwomen of the of the German Social Democrats (SPD), attend the federal party congress on December 7, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

She was replaced for now by two women: Manuela Schwesig, Malu Dreyer and one hombre Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel.

Germany’s other parties were quick to offer commentary and respect to Nahles, and their leaders were for the most part women: Merkel and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Christian Democrats: Annalena Baerbock, The Greens; Linda Teuteberg, Free Democrats; Katja Kipping, The Left and Beatrix von Storch, Alternative for Germany.

Other than Baby Boomer Merkel, 64, these women for the most part are Gen Xers or Millennials. The baton is being passed to the next generations of German leadership.

Almost DailyBrett is treading cautiously in suggesting the obvious (and desperately needed) softening of Germany’s scorched earth image has been greatly assisted by the presence of calm, confident women (e.g., Merkel).

After the world’s worst disastrous explosion of testosterone fueled über-nationalism, Germany needed to turn down the temperature and start the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding its brand.

However history judges Angela Merkel, there is zero doubt that she has bolstered the country’s image by softening it.

Today’s headlines reported The Greens within one percentage point of Merkel’s Christian Democrats. At some point there will be a new chancellor.

Almost DailyBrett is betting that Deutschland’s next leader will be another strong Frau with Merkel’s competence and calmness.

https://www.investopedia.com/insights/worlds-top-economies/

http://www.worldsrichestcountries.com/trade-surplus-by-country.html

https://www.politico.eu/article/german-social-democrats-nominate-trio-for-interim-party-leadership-manuela-schwesig-malu-dreyer-thorsten-schaefer-guembel/

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1137200/angela-Merkel-news-latest-poll-popularity-results-cdu-spd-coalition-germany-politics

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/the-right-leader-for-the-fatherlandeurope-just-happens-to-be-a-woman/

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

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/06/06/why-angela-merkel-wouldnt-feel-awkward-d-day-celebrations/?utm_term=.ad3708e74e7d

“A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.” – Ronald Reagan

There are no trigger warnings at the front door.

Arguably there are more aging hippies per square inch in Eugene, Oregon than any other town in America. Berkeley may have a free-range beef against this claim. So be it.

And yet, there is a framed “Reagan Country” 1980 campaign poster in the living room of Almost DailyBrett’s Eugene residence.

Sometimes an aging hippie or wanna-be hippie will be enjoying one of Oregon’s craft beers or a glass of one of the Willamette Valley’s now legendary – and expensive – Pinot Noirs right under the smiling portrait of The Gipper.

Maybe out of politeness, guests neither mention the image of America’s 40th president nor ask to be moved to another venue in the house. Are they just being polite or have they somehow, someway reached the acceptance stage of Reagan’s legacy?

Either stance is just fine with your author.

As Nancy once said about her husband: “Ronnie appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.”

Making no aspersions either for or against the present leader of the free world, Almost DailyBrett would bring back Ronnie from the grave in a nanosecond. Alas, only one reportedly has risen from the dead.

“The man who beat communism”

Some historical revisionists have debated with your author about the roles that Harry Truman, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II and maybe others played in ushering in the downfall of the Soviet Union and the end of Communism.

Indeed, they all contributed and deserve their respective shares of the credit.

The Reagan deniers are entitled to their opinions, but deep down we all know the truth: Reagan played the pivotal and primary role in ending the Communist menace and bringing down the ghastly Berlin Wall … therefore Reagan hangs proudly on your author’s living room wall.

“By defeating communism, Ronald Reagan ended one of history’s most violent centuries and opened the door … (that) democracy might become available to more of the people who wanted it.” – The Economist, June 12, 2004

“Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; he won the Cold War – not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.” – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s eulogy for Ronald Reagan, June 11, 2004

An entire wing of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum on the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin is dedicated to Ronald Reagan with his infamous, “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall” speech on continuous loop. The ich bin ein Berliners know the truth.

Walking freely and without fear underneath the Brandenburg Gate, your author appreciates the impact of these monumental words delivered a few feet away when the gate was closed, seemingly forever by the so-called Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR).

The Tax Cuts Worked

“There were two great triumphs, two things that I’m proudest of. One is the economic recovery, in which the people of America created – and filled – 19 million new jobs. The other is the recovery of our morale: America is respected again in the world, and looked to for leadership.” – Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address, Jan. 12, 1989

Some have tried to convince Almost DailyBrett that tax cuts and tax reform (Reagan did both) simply did not, will not, and never will work. Sorry but your author must respectfully disagree.

The 19 million new jobs created  during Reagan’s presidency is a peacetime record in the history of the United States. Inflation plunged from 13.5 percent in 1980 to 5.1 percent two years later. Interest rates dropped from 21.5 percent in 1980 to 10 percent five years later.

As a campaign press director/gubernatorial press secretary for then-California Attorney General/later Governor George Deukmejian, we prevailed in the closest gubernatorial election in the history of the Golden State during a deep recession in 1982. Four years later during the Reagan economic boom, we won by the largest landslide in California’s history.

Yes, Governor George Deukmejian did a great job as the Golden State’s chief executive. We were also helped immensely by the success of Ronald Reagan’s economic policies.

Reagan was not perfect; perfection as always is in short supply.

The Gipper summed up best in his farewell address to the nation:

“All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.”

Not bad, not bad at all, Mr. Poster Man on the living room wall.

http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/reagan-tear-down.htm

https://www.reaganfoundation.org/ronald-reagan/reagan-quotes-speeches/farewell-address-to-the-nation-2/

https://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/12/news/transcript-of-reagan-s-farewell-address-to-american-people.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/when-reagan-walked-into-the-room/

“Liberals believe America is not good enough for the world; conservatives believe the world is not good enough for America.” – Washington Post Columnist Charles Krauthammer

“I do think that America was born with a birth defect; it was slavery.” – Stanford Provost Condoleezza Rice

After losing two world wars and killing 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, Germany has been struggling from Zero Hour 1945 to the present with its horrendous history. The Germans have a special word for it – die Vergangenheitsbewältigung — or dealing with this past.

Does this 25-letter-jaw-breaking-compound-noun also apply to the nearly 250-year history of the United States of America?

After listening to so many Baby Boomer colleagues and friends complain about “this country” for years-and-years, who could blame Almost DailyBrett or any other American with a sense of patriotism for thinking that we have to deal with our past? The question is, how?

The sun never set on the British Empire and Britannia indeed ruled the waves. Look at the mess they left to dozens of these former colonies, and yet English is the world’s Lingua Franca. The scoresheet for the United Kingdom over the years is … mixed with a positive lean.

Have Americans ever been perfect? Are we perfect? Will we ever be perfect?

The responses to all three of these questions are the same, and obvious. The answers are, “no.”

Perfection is an impossible standard for any nation to achieve, including the USA.

Is the answer to these fallibilities – slavery, expulsion of Native Americans, Japanese internment camps – to truncate the teaching of American History? Is revisionist history to the downside inevitable?

There is an ongoing – and maybe never ending fight over whether and how Advanced Placement (AP U.S. History) should be taught, and more to the point: The level and extent of negative reinterpretation of American history.

For example, McGraw Hill stepped in deep doo doo when its history books described a migratory path of millions of “workers” from Africa. Err … they were slaves.

A related question has been raised among the 21+ would-be Democratic presidential nominees (i.e., Harris, Booker, Warren, Castro): Should we pay reparations (particularly slavery) to those who were wronged by America?

If so, where do we start? What precedent are we setting? More importantly where do we end? Can we end? Which descendants of those wronged should we pay? How much should we pay?

Should we apologize for being … Americans? Should we stop embracing any and all red, white and blue patriotism?

The Vietnam War Is Over; Get Over It

The helicopters took off from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in South Vietnam on April 30, 1975 or more than 44 years ago, if you are keeping score at home.

There are those who cannot or will not get this unfortunate period of American history out of their systems.

Almost DailyBrett has noted that way too many of these tortured Baby Boomer souls do not like their country, and take issue with America being labeled as an exceptional country.

They point to socialism in Denmark, Norway, Sweden – all monarchies – as “happy little countries,” suggesting America should do the same.

Some of these people actually teach at American universities and schools and harbor reservations (putting it mildly) about the positive side of American history. But wasn’t the first act in U.S. history a rebellion against authority, telling what England’s King George III what he could do with his royal scepter?

Didn’t America fight a bloody Civil War from 1861-1865 to eliminate slavery? Didn’t Abraham Lincoln’s 13th Amendment end slavery once and for all?

And wasn’t it America that played a monumental roll in terms of blood and treasure to end Nazi and Fascist tyranny in Europe and the Pacific?

The United States was the first and to this date the only country to put a man on the moon. It was America, which gave the world Silicon Valley and with its pioneering entrepreneurs with break-through innovations that made the conveniences of our digital world possible.

And let’s not forget that America defeated Communism and made our imperfect world, safer.

Almost DailyBrett championed a bi-partisan action – one can dream – to add Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (won World War II) and Republican Ronald Wilson Reagan’s (beat Communism) busts on Mt. Rushmore.

With all due respect, what has Denmark given to the world? Hans Christian Andersen and The Little Mermaid.

If the royalists in Norway, Sweden and Denmark wish to examine their collective navels in the sauna, who are we to stop them? It’s their humble collection of socialist monarchies (not an oxymoron).

Those who don’t like America and never will, have the freedom of movement. Almost DailyBrett will happily visit them in Scandinavia … in the summer.

America can learn from its past. When it comes to America’s over/under, your author will take the “over” in a nanosecond.

The United States of America remains an exceptional nation. No amount of revisionist history can change that fact.

https://nypost.com/2017/01/22/why-schools-have-stopped-teaching-american-history/

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/the-history-class-dilemma/411601/

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/who-should-decide-how-students-learn-about-americas-past/385928/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/12/support-reparations-grow-so-does-pushback-some-black-americans/?utm_term=.427e54c28480

https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/charles-krauthammer/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4d651db9a0c6

https://thehill.com/homenews/news/332307-condoleezza-rice-says-america-was-born-with-a-birth-defect-slavery

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/roosevelt-and-reagan-for-rushmore/

“Viewed by some as a nation of square-jawed robots whose language sounds like something awful in the drains, whose cars outperform all others and whose football team seldom loses, the Germans seem unassailable.” – Xenophobe’s Guide to the Germans

How does Almost DailyBrett square the ingrained stereotype of the industrious unsmiling Germans with the idea of München with its famous umlaut being a romantic venue for newlyweds?

My beautiful Fraulein Jeanne — now lovely Frau Jeanne — was more than curious, if not downright skeptical — when she first heard your author’s suggestion about beginning our August 2015 honeymoon in München or how the Yanks spell it, Munich.

Besides the romance of summertime beer gardens, wine bars, outdoor markets, jaw-dropping churches, great shopping and Medieval cobble-stone streets, München is perfectly located in the geographical center of Europe.

Why is that important? Jeanne also wanted to visit artistic Florence, Italy for a week as part of our honeymoon. Kein Problem.

Germany is indeed das Land in der Mitte (or the country in the middle of Europe), and München is a great place to have a Wunderbare time in Germany.

Consider the difference between fun-loving Bavarians in the south, and the image of goose-stepping, monocle-sporting Prussians to the north.

Bavaria with its story-book fairy-tale towns (e.g., Rothenburg ob der Tauber), its snow-capped majestic Alps, Mad King Ludwig’s castles and traditional folk in lederhosen and dirndls is very familiar to most Americans.

There was also the lure of Neuschwanstein (Disneyphiles instinctively know this castle), which was a must see for our Honeymoon. Mad King Ludwig’s most famous of his four castles belongs on anyone’s Bucket List.

The Best European Point of Entry

There are very few words in the English language more frightening than … Heathrow.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

London Heathrow airport code (LHR) ranks up there with Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD) or New York’s Kennedy (JFK) as the most desultory, frustrating and disorganized airports in the world.

When you land at Heathrow, nine times out of 10 there is no jetway. Instead, you walk down the stairs to a waiting bus to take you across the tarmac to the terminal … and then up another flight of stairs to baggage reclaim, customs and the transit hall.

Travelers to Europe have alternatives for the continent’s initial point of entry: Frankfurt (FRA) or Paris (CDG) with their own individual horror stories.

Just as important, if one pulls out a map of Europe, München lies right smack dab in the middle.

Instead of flying to jammed Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle or Frankfurt, ultra-modern Munich (MUC) offers immediate air transfer or high-speed rail connections to all points on the continent, and quick and efficient subway ties to downtown München.

One can arrive at the MUC airport and literallybe  drinking beer at the Augustiner Keller (founded by the Augustinian monks in 1328) in downtown München one hour later. Trust Almost DailyBrett: It can be much Wurst, arriving and enduring other airports.

An American traveler may be inclined to make the obvious observation that English is spoken at London’s Heathrow or Gatwick. The argument: Why not start a honeymoon or any vacation in Europe at a venue that speaks your own language, English, the world’s Lingua Franca?

Many make this choice, and who can blame them? Almost DailyBrett, an admitted Germanophile with nearly 10 visits (lost count) to München for business and holiday, urges travelers to live a little and experience different cultures and languages. Even though English and German are related Germanic languages with about 25 percent of their combined vocabularies serving as cognates, Deutsch is totally different and distinct with its own (cringe) difficult grammar rules.

Keep in mind that English is compulsory in the German schools. With few exceptions they can speak your language, but can you speak any German? Knowing a few German words and even trying to speak their language — before asking them if they speak English — is more times than naught appreciated in München and other towns in Germany.

Will you make mistakes with the language? Natürlich.

For Jeanne and yours truly our honeymoon consisted of two languages and cultures: Bavarian dialect German (e.g., Grüss Gott instead of Guten Tag for the standard greeting) and Italian in Firenze.

We learned when it was time to ask for the check at a restaurant, it was die Rechnung bitte in Germany and il Konto prego in Italy.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with honeymooning in traditional tropical venues such as Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean.

However, if a loving newlywed couple is seeking a non-traditional venue to celebrate a marriage and to explore the best of storybook Europe, München is a great launching (and ending) point.

Almost DailyBrett note: Jeanne and your author are heading off for our fourth trip to Europe as a couple this summer including Paris and Salzburg. And our point of entry to the continent: München!

 

“Been dazed and confused about walls for so long it’s not true
Wanted a border barrier, never bargained for you
Lots of people talk and few of them know
Soul of the Berlin Wall was created below” –
With Apologies to Robert Plant and Jimmy Page

There’s a whole lotta of confusion about walls.

Not just a brick in the wall, but the whole wall.

Many seem to equate the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall or barrier (if you wish) with the toppled Berlin Wall (1961-1989).

There are some who contend the proposed wall from Texas to California is “immoral.”

Does that mean they believed the Berlin Wall was “moral”?

Hope not.

Having twice visited Berlin and consumed oodles of history books and novels about the Cold War and the Berlin Wall, Almost DailyBrett may be able to throw some light on this subject, not a Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) floodlight.

The basic premise is that not all walls are created the same.

The Berlin Wall along with the western and southern borders of the German Democratic Republic was strictly intended to keep its citizens within the not-so-friendly confines of the Soviet satellite state.

For movie buffs, Sir Richard Burton (Alec Leamas) was shot at the base of the Berlin Wall in John le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.  Tom Hanks watched in terror from a subway train as brave souls were being mowed down at the wall in Bridge of Spies … they were trying to get out, not in.

The Berlin Wall and the entire elaborate border fencing system between West and East Germany was the only place on earth in which two nations’ border guards faced the same direction.

The Berlin Wall symbolized the Cold War division to between Freedom in the west and Communism in the east.

President John F. Kennedy delivered his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963. President Ronald Reagan called upon Soviet boss Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” 24 years later. The both spoke at approximately the same spot in front of the Brandenburg Gate with die Mauer in the background.

For Almost DailyBrett a piece of the DDR’s “Antifascistischer Schutzwall” sits next to the PC composing this hopefully helpful blog.

Most of all, when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989. There was a global celebration as the Cold War came to an end.

The Intended Purpose of Most Border Walls

In contrast to the Berlin Wall, the intended purpose of most barriers throughout the course of civilization is border security.

Starting in the 221 BC, China built the first pieces of the 5,000-mile (or even longer) Great Wall with “border controls” to keep out unpleasant neighbors.

Ditto for Roman emperor Hadrian’s Wall, designating for 300 years the northern border of the empire, in present day Britain.

Closer to the present time, Israel has been concerned about its existence since its birth in 1948. Starting in 2000, Israel built a wall/fencing along the “Green Line” separating the Jewish state and unfriendly neighbors.

Could this successful wall be a model for the United States’ proposed barrier between itself and Mexico?

What do the Great Wall, Hadrian’s Wall, Israel’s Wall and the planned American wall/barrier all have in common: They were/are all intended to protect citizens and provide security against illegal entry, particularly those with nefarious intents.

The America-Wall is not meant to keep citizens in, but to keep non-citizens and related contraband out.

To be quite frank, Almost DailyBrett is dazed and confused why so many so very intelligent people for whatever reason are making historically ill-informed comparisons between the Berlin Wall and the U.S.-Mexico border barrier.

Repeat: the former was to keep people in, the latter to keep people out.

Some have made the leap to suggest that since the Berlin Wall ultimately failed, therefore the U.S.-Mexico border wall will not prevail. The Berlin Wall was breached because East Germany collapsed under its own weight. In contrast, the United States is preparing for its 250th anniversary as an exceptional nation.

When the Berlin Wall came down, thousands were dancing, chiseling the wall, taking pieces of the despised wall as historical souvenirs.

If the U.S.-Mexico is ultimately constructed and properly enforced, Almost DailyBrett suspects that not everyone will celebrate in our divided country.

Nonetheless, your author is hopeful that everyone will some day at least comprehend the major differences between the Berlin Wall and the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/04/28/penning-his-25th-novel-at-86-years-young/

https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2017/09/20/build-trump-border-wall-learn-israel-first/678600001/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/brandenburg-gate-revisionist-history/

 

 

Wednesday is the National Day of Mourning in America for President George H.W. Bush.

Tomorrow will be the day we celebrate the life of an exemplary American, who maintained and enhanced a sense of dignity to the greatest executive office on the globe: The Presidency.

It will also be a time to reflect on a time when it was truly “Morning in America” as exemplified by the most admired positive political advertisement that ever crossed the nation’s broadcast airwaves.

As Time Magazine reflected on the 1984, 60-second Reagan-Bush ad, Morning in America, the spot was “simple, patriotic and inspirational.”

For Almost DailyBrett, the passing of President Bush – 14 years after the loss of one of our best presidents, Ronald Reagan – officially brings to a close the greatest decade in American history, The 1980s.

Your author as many of the readers of this blog already know was serving as the campaign press director and later press secretary for another former California Governor George Deukmejian, when President Reagan and Vice President Bush were transforming America.

It was indeed: Morning in America.

Even though this level of praise may be seem to be overgenerous to some, your author fondly remembers the Reagan-Bush years (1980-1993) as a simply wonderful time to be an American.

Were the 1980s, perfect? That toughest of all standards is unachievable for any decade. Having acknowledged the obvious, when was the last time that America elected, re-elected and then elected again a president-vice presidential team as it did when Bush became president in 1988?

The answer was four decades before when Harry S. Truman followed another renowned president, FDR.

An integral building block of Ronald Reagan’s legacy is the undeniable fact that Americans overwhelmingly elected George H.W. Bush as his successor, continuing the successful path set by his administration. The greatest peactime economic expansion in American history ensued under Reagan’s watch with the creation of 19 million new jobs.

Some pundits predicted with certainty during the desultory 1970s that America would never again elect a two-term president, let alone three terms of the same party, the same philosophical-political direction.

Whatever happened to these Brady Bunch rocket scientists?

Among the many achievements of Bush’s presidency, today’s pundits are pointing to his discipline to literally not dance on the collapsed Berlin Wall in 1989. That heavily criticized decision played a huge role in the Cold War ending without a shot being fired two years later.

Can We Say Today: “It’s Morning Again In America … “?

“It’s morning again in America. Today more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history.” – Reagan-Bush 1984 television campaign spot

“In today’s fractured media universe, it is unlikely that a single paid TV spot (Morning in America) will again approach that kind of influence.” – Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss

As we approach the upcoming and expected vicious 2020 presidential cycle, can any campaign credibly champion the notion of a happy dawn across America’s fruited plain? “Make America Great Again” with its implied criticism is catchy, but it is not the universally positive, “Morning in America.”

Even more to the point, will the most remembered campaign ads in the two years actually be positive in nature? Almost DailyBrett will take the “under.” Expect reptilian spots to dominate the airwaves/social media until they mercifully come to an end on November 3, 2020.

In the meantime, it is “Mourning in America.”

It is also a great time to reflect on a much better era — The 1980s — when it was truly “Morning in America.”

“It’s morning again in America

Today, more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history

With interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980

Nearly 2,000 families today will buy new homes

More than at any time in the past four years

This afternoon 6,500 young men and women will be married

And with inflation at less than half what it was just four years ago

They can look forward with confidence to the future

It’s morning again in America

And under the leadership of President Reagan

Our country is prouder, and stronger, and better

Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?” 

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/business/the-ad-that-helped-reagan-sell-good-times-to-an-uncertain-nation.html

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1842516_1842514_1842575,00.html

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/roosevelt-and-reagan-for-rushmore/

 

A simple little phrase is ultimately bringing down one of the longest standing and most influential global leaders in the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The final demise of German Chancellor Angela Merkel after 13 years in office, most likely next year, comes three years after she grabbed and clutched the new highest voltage Third Rail of Politics: Asylum Immigration.

In 2015, Merkel unilaterally decided to allow approximately 1.2 million asylum seekers (about the size of metropolitan Portland, Oregon) from the Middle East into a country of 82 million.

From a public relations standpoint, there was very little explanation and preparation by Merkel and her government to garner public support for such a drastic upsurge of immigrants into the 4th largest economy in the world.

„Wir schaffen das,” proclaimed Angela Merkel. Simply translated: “We can do it.”

Die Kanzerlin, who is affectionately known as “Mutti’ or Mother, was widely seen for so many years as being a steady source of deliberate and reasoned decisions. Merkel deserves praise for her vital role in the completion of Germany’s public relations miracle (Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder), rising from the globe’s #1 pariah at Zero Hour 1945 to the most admired country in the world.

She has been acknowledged as the most powerful woman on earth, and yet the Ph.D in quantum chemistry was a steady hand for Germany’s now enduring and successful democracy.

At one time, Merkel was universally viewed as one of modern Germany’s greatest chancellors, comparable to her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) predecessors Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl.

Is the bloom off the rose?

Almost DailyBrett acknowledges that once she makes a major decision that Merkel is an influential leader.

When the ground shook Japan’s (e.g., 8.9 earthquake) Fukushima nuclear reactor in 2011, Merkel immediately announced that Germany would prudently exit nuclear power by 2022.

When the southern nations of the European Union were attempting to break the 2 percent budget deficit limitation rule (e.g., particularly Greece), Merkel imposed fiscal austerity, and by extension Germany’s will.

When a particular bully arrived on the scene and tried to push her around and intimidate with a large canine (e.g., Russia’s Vladimir Putin), she demonstrated her resolve.

No leader in the European leader has done more to get into the face of the former KGB chief, and yet her leadership always represented Germany as a reluctant hegemon.

Most of all because of Germany’s solid incorporation into the European Union and the passage of time, Germans now joyously wave their flag and are proud of their normal nation.

“Half-Dead Wreck”?

“I don’t want to be a half-dead wreck when I leave politics.” – Angela Merkel

In nations without term limits (e.g., Germany), leaders can overstay their welcome. More than a few in history failed to recognize the flashing lights about when it’s time to step down … usually at the 12-year-mark … from the bully pulpit (i.e., FDR, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl).

After inviting 1.2 million asylum seekers into Germany without any preamble, and worse women celebrating New Year’s Eve in Cologne being sexually assaulted and raped by asylum seekers, the tide was turning against Angela Merkel.

The optics — worse yet the reality — of the New Year’s Eve attacks became a metaphor for a decision that was too much, too fast with little societal preparation. Merkel’s chancellorship was coming to an end.

Even though her party was returned to power in 2017, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and her coalition partner, Social Democrats (SPD), repeatedly lost strength to the Greens on the left and the anti-immigrant/anti-EU Alternative for Germany on the right. This electoral trend intensified with breathtaking losses (i.e., Bavaria and Hesse) for the CDU and SPD during the course of this year.

Almost DailyBrett knows her legacy is somewhat tarnished. The question remains: Will history be good to her?

The Caravan Is Coming

Even though comparisons between two nations with two distinct cultures, located nine time zones apart, are difficult at best … one contentious issue ties both of them together: immigration.

In both countries, there are those who espouse completely open borders … come one, come all.

These souls advocate for the right of non-citizens to hold driver’s licenses, serve on public boards and commissions … and even vote.

Wasn’t the privilege of voting reserved for actual citizens?

And just as asylum seekers from Syria and other bad places became the catalyst for the political downfall of Angela Merkel, could an approaching caravan(s) of asylum seekers from Central America become the source of political peril here in America?

Before one touches the new third rail of politics … political asylum … America’s political class would be well advised to weigh what happened to Angela Merkel’s tenure as Germany’s chancellor, and most likely her legacy as well.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/opinion/in-merkel-europe-loses-a-leader.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/world/europe/angela-merkel-germany.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46020745

https://www.politico.eu/article/angela-merkel-drops-the-we-can-do-it-slogan-catchphrase-migration-refugees/

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/the-right-leader-for-the-fatherlandeurope-just-happens-to-be-a-woman/

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

 

“Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect and also minister of armaments … had always struck me as one of the more decent Nazis … Later in the (Nürnberg) trial Speer would distinguish himself by being the only defendant to show remorse for his crimes.” – CBS Pulitzer Prize Correspondent William L. Shirer

The Russians wanted to simply string up all 22 Nazi defendants at Nürnberg.

In direct contrast, the Americans and Brits insisted on staging a legitimate trial (1945-1946) in which guilt must be proven, with the distinct possibility that not all defendants would receive the same verdict.

The Anglo Allies were guarding against the perception of “victor’s justice/vengeance,” and more importantly setting a precedent for all subsequent war crimes tribunals – even to the present day.

Was this approach a legal strategy, a public relations plan, or a combination of both?

The basic question posed for all Nazi defendants was, whether each of them was part of a vast conspiracy to wage aggressive war?

Ultimately, 12 Nazi warlords made the long walk to the gallows. A 13th dodged the noose, Luftwaffe boss Hermann Goering, by taking cyanide.

Albert Speer was convicted on two counts at Nürnberg:  Violations of the laws of war; and crimes against humanity, including the slaughter of the Jews.

And yet the tribunal sentenced him to 20 years in at Spandau Prison instead of the gallows pole.

Some refer to him as a “fraud.” Others label him as the “Nazi who said sorry.” Historian and writer Gitta Sereny repeatedly asked him for the truth; what did he know particularly when it came to slave labor under the worst conditions possible, and more to the point, The Holocaust?

Did his deportment in court save him from the noose, and provide him with the opportunity to write two bestsellers while in prison and afterward: “Inside the Third Reich” (Speer’s memoirs) and “Spandau Diary” about his two decades behind bars?

Shirer described Speer as a “decent Nazi,” which sounds to Almost DailyBrett as the Mother of All Oxymorons.

Even as the global public revulsion against the Nazis grows and intensifies with time, the museum dedicated to the Nazi War Trials at the courthouse in Nürnberg segregates Speer from his Nazi defendant colleagues.

Movies about the end of the Third Reich (e.g., Die Untergang … The Downfall) and war trials (e.g., Nürnberg) both treat the memory of Albert Speer very well in comparison to his comrades.

Certainly he was not a saint … no Nazi can even come close to that characterization — but was he a monster?

The Most Important Public Relations of All: Personal PR

“After this trial, the German people will despise and condemn Hitler as the proven author of its misfortune. But the world will learn from these happenings not only to hate dictatorship as a form of government, but to fear it.” – Albert Speer, Final Statement at Nürnberg

What is your perception? What is your brand? What is your reputation?

Almost DailyBrett has always contended that Personal Public Relations is by far the most important and vital.

Speer took responsibility at Nürnberg. Speer showed remorse. Did he tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

Did he separate himself from his fellow defendants by not trying to denigrate the proceedings? Did he piously state he was only following orders?

Was Speer simply trying to save his neck? Did he exhibit real contrition and concern about the future? Both?

Albert Speer was a Nazi. He was close to Hitler. He was the Third Reich’s architect and armaments minister, using slave labor.

Game, set and match?

Consider that Speer was well-educated at Heidelberg. He was an accomplished architect. He was a renowned writer. He was good-looking with a calm personality, not a raving madman.

He defied Hitler’s “Scorched Earth” directive at the end of the war to destroy Germany’s ability to serve its people with the most basic provisions. Reportedly, he flew to the Berlin Bunker to tell Hitler, he had not followed his directive.

He walked out of the Bunker alive.

Speer claimed to have tried to kill Hitler as the Russians were moving ever closer to Berlin.

He was known for his evil friend (e.g., Hitler),  and also for his cutthroat enemies (e.g., Himmler and Goering).

The Verdict

“Twenty years. Well … that’s fair enough. They couldn’t have given me a lighter sentence, considering the facts, and I can’t complain. I said the sentences must be severe, and I admitted my share of the guilt, so it would be ridiculous if I complained about the punishment. — Speer After The Judgment at Nürnberg

After name after name was called by the judges with a corresponding sentence of death by hanging, Speer was given 20 years. He served the entire sentence at Spandau Prison in Berlin, tending to the gardens, taking long walks and secretly working on his memoirs.

History has already rendered a harsh judgment on Speer, but not as scathing as it could be. The seven-year’s of research that went into History Professor Magnus Brechtken’s, “Albert Speer: Eine Deutsche Karriere” proves without any doubt that Speer was not, “the good Nazi.”

Speer could have hanged, but he lived a full life, writing two best-selling books until he finally succumbed in 1981, 35 years after the conclusion of the Nürnberg Trials and subsequent executions.

Personal public relations could have saved even a Nazi, Albert Speer, from the hangman’s noose.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp1RXmM1-60

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB7wVl09c2c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyHWpubyv4I

http://www.go2war2.nl/artikel/4573/Final-statement-Albert-Speer.htm

https://www.famous-trials.com/nuremberg/1935-speercross

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvbaW6kG1Ow

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-candor-and-lies-of-nazi-officer-albert-speer-324737/

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: