Category: Germany


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

 

 

 

 

Or should we say the Pols are wrong?

The experts backed by polling originally told us: Britain will leave the European Union (EU).

Hold on. Wait … the polls and pols then said there would be no Brexit.

Global markets surged and the pound sterling gained strength against the greenback.

Ahh … the polls and pols were wrong once again. Can’t they get anything right?mobilelandline

Britain is indeed leaving the club. PM David Cameron resigned. The markets tanked along with the pound sterling and the Euro. It’s a mess.

What happened (again) to the “experts”?

Remember the elite pundits told us Donald Trump will flame out when the “Silly Season” turns to the “Serious Season.”

And then … The Donald will never win the Republican nomination. Certainly not.

Certainly, yes.

Why do we pay attention to the polls and listen to the pols?

“Two Nations Separated by Common Language” – Winston Churchill

Before we go much further, Almost DailyBrett will immediately acknowledge the political landscape of one nation does not necessarily equate to the state of affairs of another.

Some including the Daily 202 of the Washington Post are now hyperventilating that Brexit could very well mean that Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States.BREXIT ahead: UK leaves the EU

Let that thought permeate for a nanosecond or two.

Consider the contradictory news flashes from this morning:

Washington Post: New Post-ABC News poll finds support for Trump has plunged, giving Clinton a double-digit lead.

Wall Street Journal: Trump weathers stormy month on campaign trail, loses only two points versus Clinton — WSJ/NBC Poll.

What’s it going to be, political experts?

What may be certain in this most uncertain political environment is the electorates on both sides of the pond are anxious, full of angst and may be downright angry … and that makes them increasingly volatile and unpredictable.

The U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.5 percent for the past seven years, at least one full point under what it should be, is not and should not be accepted as the new normal.

Instead of celebrating globalization, free worldwide trade and technology breakthroughs (e.g., social, mobile and cloud) and having these all serve as symbols of progress, they are increasingly viewed as threats.

How long will it take for the machines to be cheaper than people (e.g., automated check-out, ATMs, robots, driverless cars …)? Each of these gadgets also has the added advantages of never whining, complaining, calling-in sick or demanding a pay raise.

The net effect: Far too many believe they are being left behind, and no one seems to care about them or that is their sense.

The U.S. unemployment rate is 4.7 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And yet only 38,000 new jobs were created in May and labor participation stands at just 62 percent. And how many of these “employed” are underemployed, working less than 30 hours per week for zero benefits?

Something is amiss and it is not just in the new world, but obviously in the old world as well.

Land Line Surveys vs. Internet Polls

“Never in recorded history have so many been so misguided by so few.” – With apologies to the memory of Winston Churchill, if he was still around to sound out his opinion about pollsters and their surveys.berniemichigan

Hillary was supposed to blow out Bernie in the May 8 Michigan primary by 20 points; she lost by nearly two points.

The folks in the UK were increasingly expected to vote to stay in the European Union. Instead, they are leaving.

The polls are particularly wrong this year. What seems to be the problem?

Let’s face it, quantitative analysis has always suffered from the being a snap-shot-in-time syndrome. Polls are scientifically accurate with a 3.5 percent margin of error, 95 percent of the time provided the random sample is large enough … let’s say 1,000 respondents.

The increasingly difficult proposition lies with how one gathers a random scientifically valid critical mass of respondents to participate in a nationwide poll. The traditional way is for polling firms is to call registered voters on their land lines.

There were days when everyone had land lines. Those days have obviously passed, leaving the only folks with land lines to be older, less receptive to mobile technology, but at the same time they have a greater propensity to vote. Translated: These folks need to be surveyed, but they are not representative of a changing electorate.

The alternative is to call mobile numbers of the CPOs (cell-phone onlys) or a combo of mobile dialing and/or internet surveys. The advantage: This is clearly the wave of the future. The disadvantage: the mobile and PC crowd are younger and more educated, but with a lower propensity to vote.

The net effect of this discussion is a changing, volatile electorate that is increasingly difficult to measure with any sense of accuracy.

Can’t anyone get anything right?

Seems like a germane question at this point of time.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2016/06/24/daily-202-stop-underestimating-trump-brexit-vote-shows-why-he-can-win/576c89e9981b92a22d2dd3dc/?wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/1978-all-over-again/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/why-do-we-listen-to-the-so-called-experts/

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

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/03/09/why-were-the-polls-in-michigan-so-far-off/

http://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-weathers-stormy-month-loses-only-2-points-versus-hillary-clinton-1466946000

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-new-poll-support-for-trump-plunges-giving-clinton-a-double-digit-lead/2016/06/25/0565bef6-3a31-11e6-a254-2b336e293a3c_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-high_poll-0904am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

 

 

Always charming Donald Trump thinks Angela Merkel is “insane.”

In contrast, Time Magazine dubbed Germany’s first Kanzlerin as its “Person of the Year” for 2015.merkelsyrians

Merkel’s polling numbers plummeted from about 75 percent approval just two years ago to below 50 percent now according to ARD Deutschland. Keep in mind, she was even lower in the same survey, touching 40 percent at the nadir of the Euro crisis in 2010. She was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2013.

She has received international accolades for Germany’s Willkommenskultur or opening up Germany’s borders to those fleeing death and persecution in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, she is blamed for threatening the European Union’s Schengen (Treaty) open-borders policy for its member countries.

Merkel has also faced serious questions as to exactly how many refugees can Deutschland reasonably absorb, an 80-million soul country about the size of Ohio. In 2015, Germany accepted 1.1 million, with another 1 million or more projected for this year based on the daily in-flows.

The issue literally exploded on New Year’s Eve in Köln as hundreds of immigrant men, ostensibly celebrating the arrival of 2016, forced women to run a sexual gauntlet as they groped, robbed and even raped. The German public reaction was predictable and enduring.

Does all of the above signal that Germany’s Öffentlickeitsarbeitswunder is over? Or if Germany’s public relations miracle lives on, is Angela Merkel after 11 years in office finally in trouble politically?

The immediate reaction by Almost DailyBrett from nine-time zones to the west is that Germany’s epic comeback from the ashes of World War II and the Holocaust is still intact However, Merkel may indeed be facing the strongest and potentially lethal political headwinds in her tenure as chancellor.

No More Walls

In America, there is the clamor by a noisy type to build a wall on the southern border and to have Mexico pay for it. Sure.

Germany has more than enough experience with Walls, in particular die Berliner Mauer. Nein Danke!

A good reason for Germany’s willingness to “manage” more than 1 million refugees per year steams undoubtedly from a collective guilt originating from World War II and the Holocaust. Germany is still performing penance.germanysatellite

Another is that Merkel is the unofficial titular head of the European Union. If Germany does not shoulder (more than) its fair share of the burden of welcoming and hopefully assimilating literally hundreds or thousands of refugees, then how can Deutschland reasonably expect other European nations to do the same?

There is also the issue that comes with Germany’s hegemony in the European Union. Deutschland wants to be seen as a normal country, but it is still das Land in der Mitte … and more. Germany is the world’s fourth largest economy, prolific exporter and is the home of legendary German engineering.

The problem with size and strength is this combination usually leads to jealousy and demands (see: the United States of America). Germany can never wipe clean the tarnish that comes with Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, the Third Reich and the Holocaust. Ironically, the memories and images of die NS Zeit may have been partially attributable to Merkel’s success as chancellor … her measured “Mutti” consensus-oriented style serves as a partial antidote to these horrific times.

Should She Run Again?

The next federal elections in Germany are due in 2017. By that time, Merkel will have served as chancellor for 12 years, just short of Helmut Kohl’s 16 years and Konrad Adenauer’s 14 years. One of the truisms of politics is that one can overstay her or his welcome in the center ring. With each decision no matter how popular comes disappointment, if not enemies.

How much disappointment (e.g., refugee policy) and how many enemies (e.g., CSU boss and Bavaria premier Horst Seehofer), will she trigger/ or has she triggered during the course of 12 years is the subject of conjecture.

Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Germany’s reunifier Kohl waited too long to exit stage right. Their departures were less-than-celebratory.ursula

Almost DailyBrett does not rule out that Merkel pulling out a Kaninchen out of a Hutte. At the same time, Germany’s first woman Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen is waiting in the wings. Will Merkel want to seed her seat to a fellow CDU minister (assuming the voters go along)?

If so, the Feminization of the Fatherland may produce yet another chapter in Germany’s Public Relations Miracle.

https://www.bundeskanzlerin.de/Webs/BKin/EN/Chancellery/Timeline_Federal_Chancellors_since_1949/timeline_federal_chancellors_since_1949_node.html

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21692916-under-pressure-reverse-her-refugee-policy-angela-merkel-faces-court-case-welcome?zid=307&ah=5e80419d1bc9821ebe173f4f0f060a07

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21688418-ultimate-victim-sexual-assaults-migrants-could-be-angela-merkels-liberal-refugee

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21685512-attacks-women-mobs-young-men-inflame-germanys-refugee-debate-new-year-new-fear

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8XUinVkCNk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7vMZYuWCsQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxJvXHu0Xf8

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/germany-from-holocaust-to-normalcy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/the-katarina-witt-brand-uber-alles/

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

https://www.bundesregierung.de/Webs/Breg/EN/FederalGovernment/Cabinet/UrsulavonderLeyen/_node.html

 

 

 

Glad we got that all cleared up.

Vielen Dank VW CEO Herr Matthias Müller (many thanks, Matthias).

We can now rest assured that Volkswagen is not a criminal brand.mueller

Richard Nixon told us he was not a crook.

And Bill Clinton did not have sex with that woman.

What is it with chief executives and their repeated association with the permanent stigma of a negative declaration with super-charged adjectives?

Criminal? Crook? Sex?

These are notorious words that stand the test of time. They are ominous and eternal. And once they are uttered, there is simply no way to take them back.

And yet this mistake happens again and again to the best and the brightest.

Words That Make You Wince

“We are not a criminal brand or group. We haven’t been that. We have made a huge default, technical default, but there was no intention against customers or authorities.” – Volkswagen AG Vorsitzende Matthias Müllervolkswagan

As Almost DailyBrett can attest, PR folks certainly love our metaphors:

You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

You can un-ring the bell.

You can’t put the bullet back in the chamber.

And sometimes we are guilty of drinking our own bath water.

And now you can’t separate German auto designer/manufacturer, “Volkswagen,” with the extremely unfortunate phrase, “criminal brand.” Thought those two words apply to the Mafia and North Korea, not a car conglomerate (e.g., VW, Audi, Porsche …) long associated with legendary German engineering.

The VW PR team accompanying Müller to Detroit for his first exchange with American media since the company’s “defeat” emissions-standards software scandal broke had to be cringing when he uttered these infamous words.

Müller also said: “We didn’t lie,” another negative declaration attached to a super-charged word.

Hopefully, he did not beat his wife … Please don’t ask him that specific question.

Was he coached to not repeat loaded, supercharged words contained in reporter queries?

Was he told to respond always in a positive vain, and to never use incendiary words?

Remember: When it doubt, declare victory.

For example, how about the following for Volkswagen: “We are a firm that will always be dedicated to observing all rules and regulations. We will overly comply. We will cooperate with authorities.”

Here’s another answer: “We are sorry. We pledge to adhere to all environmental regulations and standards, including those passed by the United States, European Union and other governing bodies. It will be hard to regain public trust, but we are beginning our quest to do just that.”

Americans are a forgiving people. We will give those, who deserve it, a second chance … but only one second chance.

To be fair to Matthias Müller, this debacle is not of his doing. He was the head of Porsche, when his predecessor Martin Winterkorn was shown die Tur. The media, regulators and lawyers are circling like a pack of vultures, looking to pick apart the legendary Volkswagen brand.

There will be even more screaming headlines in the coming weeks and months for Volkswagen as recalls start, lawsuits are adjudicated and fines are levied. Volkswagen will most likely survive, but the unfortunate linkage to a “criminal brand” will ensue.

“This Is the Worst Disaster Since My Election” — Pat Brown

Former California Governor Pat Brown (Jerry’s dad) was touring the flooding of the Eel River near the Northern California coastline in 1965.

We all know what he was trying to say, but the words didn’t come out quite right … worst disaster since his election. Was the Eel River flooding the disaster or his election?pat-brown

In some respects the late-Pat Brown can be excused even though those words haunted him for the rest of his governorship and life.

Volkswagen’s Müller is more of an engineer, who made an eternal mistake, forever attaching “criminal brand” to VW. He deserves his share of blame, but the same applies to his undoubtedly well-compensated PR, marketing and reputation management teams.

These are words that should never have been spoken.

Alas, they will live in infamy.

.http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/01/10/volkswagen-detroit-auto-show-naias-matthias-mueller-emissions-scandal/78603744/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthias_M%C3%BCller_(businessman)

http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/TheStrategist/Articles/view/11344/1120/In_the_C_Suite_Scandals_at_VW_and_Takata_Highlight?spMailingID=12579553&spUserID=ODkxMDgzMDgwMTkS1&spJobID=663351066&spReportId=NjYzMzUxMDY2S0#.VpaMhPkrLIU

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/11/462682378/we-didnt-lie-volkswagen-ceo-says-of-emissions-scandal

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

http://www.volkswagenag.com/content/vwcorp/content/en/investor_relations.html

http://articles.latimes.com/1994-01-19/news/mn-13310_1_human-suffering

 

 

 

 

 

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