Category: International Public Relations


The national Twitter Bull-in-a-China-shop champion may not be the one you suspect.

Would you allow Elon Musk to baby-sit your retirement nest egg?

REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi

Consider the following:

In the last three months, Tesla common shares (NASDAQ: TSLA) are down $69.59 or 19.74 percent.

Tesla confirmed today the Department of Justice (DOJ) is launching a criminal probe into les affaires at Tesla.

Earlier, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its own civil investigation following Tesla founder Elon Musk’s August 7 tweet, proclaiming “funding secured” for taking Tesla private. Is Musk guilty of selective disclosure of material information (e.g., “Funding secured) in violation of SEC Reg FD (Fair Disclosure)?

There was also the inexplicable video of Musk smoking dope on television.

Why Elon, why?

Musk charged not once but twice that one of the heroes, saving the Thailand boys’ soccer team from a flooded cave, is a “Pedo guy.”

Nomura Securities downgraded TSLA from “buy” to “neutral,” reducing the company’s price target from $400 to $300, concluding that Tesla shares are “no longer investable.”

“Notwithstanding improving fundamentals, we believe that Tesla is in need of better leadership, an about face, and are moving to the sidelines until we see what happens with management. “ – Nomura Securities analyst Romit Shah

Does Elon Need His Own Mad Dog Mattis?

The best-and-brightest public relations counselors in the world can do absolutely nothing with Elon, if and until he is willing to ponder sage advice for even a nanosecond.

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk takes a drag from a cigarette laced with
marijuana in this screenshot from the Joe Rogan Experience podcast on
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

Some have suggested shaking up the Tesla Board of Directors to include strong-willed  independent hombres and mujeres willing to practice tough love with Elon (e.g., no public smoking marijuana for whatever reason).

Elon ‘Musk’s brother and board member, Kimbal, is not a candidate for his job. Did you see his CNBC interview this week from the floor of the venerable NYSE wearing a cowboy hat?

Why Kimbal, why?

Besides trying to run both publicly traded Tesla (EVs/solar) and privately held SpaceX (rockets) at the same time and thus needing more sleep, maybe the biggest issue is way too many sycophants kissing Elon’s derriere for way too long.

Remember the gushing CBS 60 Minutes Scott Pelley interview of Elon back in 2014? Musk was hailed at the time as the second coming of … Steve Jobs including  Almost DailyBrett. Your author repeatedly bought and sold Tesla shares for a nice profit, except the last time, selling for a modest loss.

The CNBC pundits were asking out loud circa 2014 whether Tesla was 1.) An electric vehicle company, 2.) an energy company or 3.) Elon Musk’s company?

The issue now is what would happen if a stronger, independent Board of Directors took the helm at Tesla? Would they have the cojones to fire Elon Musk? Would that stunning action be the 21st Century equivalent of John Sculley firing Steve Jobs at Apple? How did that move play out?

Most of all, what would happen to Tesla’s stock? The shorts have already gone crazy; they presumably would have a field day.

Maybe what Elon needs is his own version of a chief operating officer Mad Dog Mattis or some other chain-of-command George S. Patton type to knock off the nonsense?

Until there is some sense of consistent operating discipline (see Tim Cook’s management of Apple following the 2011 passing of Steve Jobs), the shorts will continue to bet against Tesla and its common shares.

Anybody want to “short” Apple? Didn’t think so.

Most of all, Elon Musk should be precluded from even going near Twitter. These 280 characters can lead to a heap of trouble, including twin probes by the DOJ and the SEC.

Audi today unveiled its $75,000 luxury EV SUV. There is considerable competition because electric cars are not going away.

Static photo,
Colour: electric green

Tesla still maintains considerable advantages: Market leadership, pure-play, first mover, visionary company.

Even with its present cash burn and convertible notes coming due next March, Tesla can more than survive and continue to drive technology leadership.

All Tesla needs is for a Mad Dog to put a discipline leash on one, Elon Musk.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimcollins/2018/09/05/elon-musks-increasingly-erratic-behavior-comes-at-a-price-for-tesla-shareholders/#1058c7323944

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/09/11/elon-musks-erratic-behavior-continues-to-rattle-wall-street/

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/18/tesla-stock-drops-after-company-reportedly-to-face-us-criminal-probe-over-musk-statements.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/13/business/dealbook/tesla-elon-musk-saudi-arabia.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/only-in-america/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/donate-to-united-way-or-invest-in-tesla/

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/09/17/kimbal-musk-says-his-brother-elon-is-doing-great.html

 

“She kind of likes my sense of humor. Anybody who likes my sense of humor, I immediately like.” — Former President George W. Bush.

“Bush’s friendship with Obama, a confident, smart and elegant woman whose integrity is impeccable, gives him credence. Around her, he is humble, playful and comfortable. She allows him to be the lighthearted person he is, without judgment.” —   Chicago Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton

Almost DailyBrett has heard all of the rhetoric about championing diversity and accepting other points of view.

Sounds good … until it’s time for most people to practice what they preach.

Turn on any of your devices – from first screen digital television to second screen social media – and it won’t be long until the talking heads start name calling, literally screaming at each other.

Your author has written blogs – many which have not been read — and yet the respondents troll each other on Facebook about a headline and/or a photo.

Long-time friendships and relationships quickly come to an end. Many are blocked; others are outright unfriended. People who hold different points of view are inwardly or outwardly regarded as Unmensch.

Forget about passing candy (or throat lozenges) to any of them.

Some will claim all of this vitriol began in 2016. Almost DailyBrett begs to differ, pegging the beginning of the end of civility to the 1998 Clintonian impeachment process. Instead of attacks against Robert Mueller, the arrows and barbs were directed against Kenneth Starr.

And now some are talking about impeaching yet another president (i.e., Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton before) only with the Senate most likely failing to muster the two-third-votes required to convict.

What’s the point?

Instead, shouldn’t we all reflect upon the public examples exemplified by two prominent individuals – hailing from opposite parties — who not only continue to talk the talk, but walk the walk?

Wasn’t it Michelle Obama who said: “When they go low, we go high”?

And wasn’t George W. Bush one of the most consequential, and as a result one of most reviled presidents in history?

And yet starting with the peaceful transfer of power in fall 2008 through the present day, Michelle Obama and George W. Bush have demonstrated to the world how we should treat each other, regardless of competing philosophies.

Maybe we should be doing less competing, and more understanding of other points of view.

Back to Jefferson/Back to Lincoln

The world’s most successful Democracy features two competing political parties with proud histories.

The Democrats hail from the days of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. Besides the aforementioned, the party has provided America with great presidents including James K. Polk, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy.

The Republicans were born as an abolitionist party and fielded giants including Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

Almost DailyBrett has made this suggestion before and will make it again: Try reading two straight-forward books featuring a prominent Democrat and Republican.

For your author most recently, it was David Axelrod’s Believer and Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence. These two gents served as presidential campaign managers, electing and then re-electing Barack Obama and George W. Bush respectively to the White House.

Both lost parents to suicide. Both tell harrowing tales of state politics, Illinois and Texas. Both share candid insider looks into the strengths and all-too-human weaknesses of their bosses. Both provide solid commentary today on CNN and Fox News.

#Candygate?

Some may want to simply dismiss the Michelle Obama/George W. Bush relationship to protocol.

Time and time again, Michelle and Dubya sit next to each because protocol dictates that the spouse of #44 (Barack Obama) sits next to #43 (George W. Bush), who in turn is paired with Laura Bush.

The ever-present cameras caught Laura asking her hubby to pass a throat lozenge to Michelle during the Memorial Service for the late Senator John McCain. The mistaken candy-for-lozenge exchange/return smile instantly received a Twitter hashtag: #Candygate.

What should be the national normal (e.g., civility) has become the extraordinary (e.g., genuine Michelle/Dubya friendship) in today’s divisive, polarized society.

Does the national reaction to this unlikely friendship between a former First Lady and a former POTUS say more about them, or does it point to our own widespread lack of respect and decency for any view that conflicts with our own?

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/politics/a22979284/george-w-bush-michelle-obama-friendship-history/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/glanton/ct-met-dahleen-glanton-michelle-george-friendship-20180903-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/page/ct-perspec-page-mccain-funeral-michelle-obama-george-bush-donald-trump-0905-20180904-story.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/lets-all-pull-one-punch-this-week/

“I’m not a car person. Three years after ‘The Da Vinci Code’ came out, I still had my old, rusted Volvo. And people are like, ‘Why don’t you have a Maserati?’ It never occurred to me. It wasn’t a priority for me. I just didn’t care.” – Dan Brown

If Dan Brown is not a “car person,” why does he write as if he is indeed a “car person?”

For years, Almost DailyBrett has been an avid Dan Brown fan having plowed through Digital Fortress, The Lost Symbol, Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and Inferno. Your author also consumed the last three as movies with Tom Hanks playing an unlikely hero, Harvard University Professor of Religious Iconology and Symbology (as if there is such a discipline) Robert Langdon.

The 24-hour plots incorporate landmark buildings and masterpiece art with Langdon racing against time with the recurring theme of science against religion, notably Catholicism.

Predictably and understandably, Brown uses the Vatican, Louvre, Capitol Hill, Firenze, Barcelona as the backdrop for his find-the-clue suspense novels.

Has Brown mentioned a commercial establishment/business in his previous books? Affirmative.

No trip to the piazza (Piazza della Signoria in Florence) was complete without sipping an espresso at Caffè Rivoire.” — Robert Langdon in Inferno.

 

The author of Almost DailyBrett asked the manager of Caffè Rivoire in 2015, if Dan Brown visited the restaurant. The manager pointed to Brown’s favorite spot for espresso.

Give Brown credit for sipping espresso at favorite place just steps away from Michelangelo’s “David,” and likewise for actually driving a Tesla X.

The question is why is Robert Langdon driving the exact same model of Tesla, so gloriously described in Dan Brown’s latest novel, Origin?

Robert Langdon Driving A Tesla?

 “The windshield on Edmond’s Tesla Model X was expansive, morphing seamlessly into the car’s roof somewhere behind Langdon’s head, giving him the disorienting sense he was floating inside a glass bubble.

“Guiding the car along the wooded highway north of Barcelona, Langdon was surprised to find himself driving well in excess of the roadway’s generous 120 kph speed limit. The vehicle’s silent electric engine and linear acceleration seemed to make every speed feel nearly identical.

“In the seat beside him, Ambra was busy browsing the Internet on the car’s massive dashboard computer display …” Dan Brown’s Origin, Chapter 49, Page 217

The gushing references to Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk’s SUV EV reads more like shameless marketing spin than the text of a suspense novel.

Expansive windshield?

Silent electric engine?

Linear acceleration seemed to make every speed feel nearly identical?

Browsing the Internet?

Massive dashboard computer display?

Almost DailyBrett knows marketing copy when he reads it in Origin.

If Elon Musk gave Dan Brown one heck of a deal on his own $80,000 Tesla Model X or even compensated him for the gushing praise for the EV, shouldn’t Tesla be required under SEC and FTC rules to fully disclose the monetary/in-lieu relationship as an operating expense?

Just as important — if not more so — did Dan Brown sell his personal brand and reputation for the highest dollar? Will all his future novels also include references to chosen companies such as Tesla and Uber in Origin? If Brown did sell Robert Langdon for product placement, who blame him? … But what about the rolling eyes of his faithful readers?

Or is the blatant Tesla plug just a coincidence?

Is Product Placement Ever Wrong?

“Once you give up integrity, the rest is a piece of cake.” – Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing

Some product placement is actually clever. An example is Julia Roberts jumping on board a Fed-Ex truck as Richard Gere chases in vain in The Runaway Bride. Wherever she was going, Mizz Roberts was guaranteed to be there by 10:30 in the morning.

NBC is not so subtle with its promo for Sunday Night Football with Verizon repeatedly and shamelessly mixed into the Carrie Underwood title song.

Our world has degenerated into product placement on baseball stadium outfield walls, hockey boards, soccer and (gasp) basketball jerseys.

And now … yes now, it appears the novels that we read, and more importantly purchase, are including thinly disguised product placement.

It’s one thing for NBC to shamelessly plug Verizon; it’s another for Dan Brown to appear to be incorporating Tesla marketing spin into his latest Robert Langdon  novel and presumably more to come.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/30/books/dan-brown-origin.html

https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/origin-book-by-dan-brown.99753/

http://theweek.com/articles/730426/dan-brown-bad-writer

http://www.rivoire.it/en/#

https://www.florenceinferno.com/caffe-rivoire/

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

 

 

 

 

 

“As far as I know, I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that’s required Secret Service protection.” – Sarah Huckabee Sanders

As a former press secretary – albeit one who served a mere state (e.g., California) – your author only once had concern about personal safety (e.g., anti-South Africa demonstrators at UC Berkeley).

As a message formulator/chief spokesman for a Republican governor, there were many in Sacramento (e.g., Maxine Waters) who did not care for the politics of my boss (Governor George Deukmejian).

Nevertheless, the author of Almost DailyBrett never worried about going to a California capital restaurant with family.

Presidential Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders can’t say the same, and that is a vivid commentary on our sad state of affairs, very sad.

Sanders was viciously attacked for her physical appearance and gender at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. She was asked to leave the Red Hat restaurant in Lexington, Va., because she speaks for the president and holds a related political philosophy.

Some chastise Sanders for serving the United States. She is the last in a long line of presidential press secretaries, originating with Amos Kendall (worked for Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren) starting in 1829.

Each and every press secretary since (Kendall, slavery) has been embroiled in contentious issues of the day and adversarial relationships with the Fourth Estate. Having said that, none before Sanders needed Secret Service protection for her, her spouse and three young children.

There is no doubt the stakes are high and the vitriol is out of control (see CNN’s Jim Acosta storming out of the White House briefing center), but is the rhetoric worse than the fight over slavery?

Don’t think so.

Some may remember Reagan presidential press secretary Jim Brady being in the line of fire during John Hinckley’s assassination attempt against the president in 1981. Neither Brady nor his successors Larry Speakes and Marlin Fitzwater needed Secret Service protection.

Can’t Sarah Huckabee Sanders be free to joust with the media without any threat to her personal safety?

Praise From An Unlikely Source

“Would it be better if that (Red Hat incident) didn’t happen? I think it would.” — Bill Clinton

William Jefferson Clinton knows something about the job of press secretary.

Speaking to Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah, Clinton said he has “a lot of respect” for how Sanders deported herself in the wake of her and family being shown the door for purely political reasons by a restaurant owner.

There are some, including the aforementioned Maxine Waters, who urge activists to get into the face of public officials harboring different political philosophies and Weltanschauung.

Is the net effect of smash-mouth, in-your-face confrontation in public places against Sanders and others, unprecedented in American history? Maybe in modern times. At least we don’t have a latter-day Aaron Burr challenging Alexander Hamilton to a duel.

At least not yet.

Sanders last tweeted words about her banishment from the suburban restaurant should be required reading for all:

I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”

Sanders appears to have her heart in the right place, and yet she is the first press secretary to require round-the-clock Secret Service protection.

Does the fact she needs Secret Service officers at her side, and that includes her family, speak to Sarah Huckabee Sanders or does it represent something fundamentally wrong with our violent society (e.g., Rep. Steve Scalise shooting)?

Maybe we can embrace the notion of treating people respectfully, regardless of how they come down on the great philosophical divide.

http://fortune.com/2018/06/26/secret-service-sarah-sanders/

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jun/26/sarah-huckabee-sanders-get-secret-service-protecti/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/business/media/sarah-huckabee-sanders-jim-acosta.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/sympathy-for-sarah-huckabee-sanders/

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/08/02/sarah-sanders-blasts-trump-hating-media-and-exposes-their-blatant-bias.html

https://www.thedailybeast.com/bill-clinton-defends-sarah-huckabee-sanders-i-have-a-lot-of-respect-for-her

http://faculty.buffalostate.edu/smithrd/pr/pioneers.htm

 

 

Mark Parker of Nike is also one of my mutual fund advisors.

Ditto for Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com

Let’s not forget of Dennis Muilenburg of Boeing.

Can’t tell you how many times Almost DailyBrett has been told to invest anything and everything into mutual funds.

For the record 70 percent of your author’s Charles Schwab portfolio is held in mutual funds, the largest amount managed by William Danoff of the Fidelity Contrafund.

Having made this point, let’s take a contrarian stand.

Why can’t investors create their own mutual fund comprised of individual and diversified stocks within their own portfolios?

Whoa … aren’t you the investor taking on too much … risk? Shouldn’t you diversify?

The humble answers are “not necessarily” and “yes.”

As legendary investor Peter Lynch once said: “Know what you own, and know why you own it.”

When it comes to investing and in the spirit of Lynch’s axiom, Almost DailyBrett follows these self-formulated rules:

  • Never invest in a stock in which you personally detest/loathe the lead executive (e.g., Oracle’s Larry Ellison)
  • Buy shares in firms you personally use or have a 100 percent understanding of how the company makes money (e.g., Apple).

For example, ever cutesy Scott McNealy of extinct Sun Microsystems once labeled Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates as Ballmer and Butthead. McNealy would have been funny, if his company stock wasn’t trading at the very same time at $3 per share.

Whatever happened to Scott McNealy? His company was devoured by Oracle.

Another example: your author won’t touch Bitcoin because even though it is the choice of money launderers around the world, the crypto currency is not associated with any country and there is zero logical explanation of how it makes money.

Isn’t Tim Cook A CEO?

Why is Tim Cook my mutual fund portfolio manager?

Doesn’t Cook run the largest capitalized – $1 trillion-plus – publicly traded company in the world? Absolutely.

Almost DailyBrett clearly understands that Apple is not a mutual fund, but still it offers the complexity, confidence and diversity of a mutual fund.

Apple plays in the hardware (i.e., smart phones, tablets, wearables, PCs) space. Ditto for software (e.g., iOS) and services (e.g., iTunes). Think of it this way, Apple has as many if more investors as any mutual fund … including mutual funds themselves – both buy side and sell side institutional investors – and 75 million shares recently bought by Warren Buffett too.

And who runs this diversified enterprise with the expectation of $60 billion to $62 billion on the top line in the next (fourth) quarter? Revenues grew 17 percent year-over-year. Gross margin remained steady at 38 percent. EPS jumped year-over-year from $1.67 to $2.34 and dividends grew from $0.63 to $0.73.

The dilemma for every Apple investor, particularly today, is when is it time to ring the register at least for a portion of the shares? Almost DailyBrett does not hear very many bells clanging.

There is little doubt that Apple is tearing the cover off the ball. Apple has proven it is not necessarily the number of smart phones sold – even though these mobile devices are an absolute must for our lives – in many ways it is the average sales price, climbing closer to four figures for every unit.

Back to Danoff and Fidelity Contrafund. Today it has a reported $130 billion in assets under management. Cook counters with $1 trillion in investor confidence in Apple’s shares.

Which “mutual fund” manager would you choose, if you could only select, one?

And for diversification, you package Apple with Boeing (U.S. commercial airliner and defense aircraft innovator and manufacturer) …

And Nike, the #1 athletic apparel manufacturer in die Welt.

Finally, Almost DailyBrett has bought Salesforce.com nine times and sold eight times for a profit. To describe Salesforce.com as business software company seriously understates its business strategy.

With all due respect to Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Salesforce.com is THE Cloud pioneer selling software as a service (SaaS) to enterprises around the world.

Let’s see: Apple, Boeing, Nike and Salesforce.com in the Almost DailyBrett mutual fund.

Is your author right? Only time will tell. Will this “mutual fund” adjust and change its holdings? No doubt.

Here’s the point: As Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments would say, it’s time to “graduate” from pure mutual funds.

There is risk associated with selecting stocks for your portfolio, but isn’t that also the case for mutual funds? Some think that mutual funds are no brainers. Not true, and let’s not forget the fees.

When it comes to my “mutual fund” portfolio — AAPL, BA, NKE, CRM — the only fees yours truly pays are $4.95 per trade.

Not bad, not bad at all.

https://fundresearch.fidelity.com/mutual-funds/summary/316071109

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2018/07/apple-reports-third-quarter-results/

“My country tried to kill me” – An Anonymous Baby Boomer Source

The Vietnam War has been over for 43 years … It’s time, actually it’s past time, to get over it.

Almost DailyBrett has run into more than a few fellow Baby Boomers, who are always stubbornly angry, refusing to even acknowledge anything positive about the United States of America.

In almost each and every one of these cases, the culprit was the seemingly never-ending war slowly starting in the early 1960s and ending with the visions of overloaded helicopters departing the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1975.

The Vietnam misadventure was truly the nation’s first television war. Just like other scenes of mortal combat it was not a pretty sight. For the record, the conflict reigned during the administrations of two Democratic and two Republican presidents: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford.

There are those who lost loved ones in the rice paddies and jungles of Southeast Asia. Their eternal bitterness is understandable.

And there are those who could have gone, but for one reason or another missed the plane to Saigon.

In way too many cases, these folks (e.g., Baby Boomers) were not posting the red, white and blue on July 4 … or any other day of the year.

Some are nostalgic or still engaged in the communal poverty of the hippy movement. Everything from bras, draft cards and college administration buildings were publicly burned.

When in doubt, take to the streets. There are those who protest. There are those who invest.

The Vietnam Aggrieved has next-to-zero to say positive about living in an exceptional country.

How about Denmark? How about Sweden? How about Norway?

There were zero Vietnam Wars for this Nordic trio.

“This Country … “

Whenever a sentence begins with or/includes the phrase, “This country …,” don’t you instinctively know the dependent clause depicts a better life somewhere else/anywhere else.

Can’t tell you how many times, the author of Almost DailyBrett has mentally suggested a one-way ticket for the Vietnam Aggrieved to that somewhere else.

A man walks next to empty shelves in a supermarket in Caracas on January 22, 2012. According to the Central Bank (BCV) shortage of goods reached 16.3% in December 2012, the highest number in the last four years. AFP PHOTO / Leo RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

“Venezuela has social justice … “ ‘Ticket to Caracas?’

“Denmark is a happy little country … “ ‘Did the Danes put a man on the moon?’

“Vietnam is so much better off …” ‘You didn’t want to go there in the late 1960s/early 1970s … do you want to go there now?’

Almost DailyBrett has zero issues with the Nordic countries, but still must ask what major role each played in defeating Nazism (there were resistance efforts for sure in Norway and Denmark) and Communism?

The United States is the global beacon for both opportunity capitalism and individual freedom … not bad, not bad at all.

The quality of life may be just swell among these Scandinavian countries, but collectively they are not even close to the productivity and influence of the world leading $20.19 trillion GDP generated by the United States of America.

Denmark has a beckoning mermaid in Copenhagen harbor. The United States has Lady Liberty in New York Harbor, who serves as an icon of freedom and a better life for literally millions and millions.

Is the United States perfect? Absolutely not. Stanford provost and former National Security Advisor/Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labeled slavery as America’s “birth defect.” Guilty as charged.

And yet, she took full advantage of her awesome skills and opportunities provided  to her. Condoleezza is  to be wonderful example about what each of us can potentially achieve.

Instead of Baby Boomers bitching, moaning, bemoaning and watching Ken Burns’ documentary about a war that ended almost five decades ago, they would be better off using these last years on the planet to embrace America and make it better for their presence on the fruited plain.

Sure beats bitching, moaning and bemoaning.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/09/vietnam-war-ken-burns-us-imperialism

 

Can’t tell you how many times this familiar admonition has been heard in classes taught by Almost DailyBrett.

Even though the pre-flight instructions are boilerplate, mechanical and dull, this one statement always gets your attention.

Put on your own air mask first … before assisting others.

The point is how can you help anyone else, if you are gasping for air? You can’t.

Americans are recognized as the most generous and giving people on earth. That’s part of the reason we are an exceptional country.

Please feel free to argue in favor of Norway, Sweden, Denmark or any other über-government nation of choice.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), charitable giving by individuals as a percentage of GDP: America led the way at 1.44%, New Zealand 0.79%, Canada 0.77% and the UK 0.54%.

If you are scoring at home that means that Americans are contributing nearly 2x more than their nearest competitor.

Is generosity based upon heredity and examples of kindness demonstrated by parents? These are certainly factors.

There is another reason: Many Americans have bought low and sold high. They have invested in their own education. They have used their discretionary income for their retirement, their children’s education, the dream vacation, that new business they always dreamed about starting.

They have put on their own mask first by building personal/family wealth and prosperity.

They have realized that taking care of No. 1 is not selfish, but selfless. They are now in a better position to assist others, to write checks, to give back, to volunteer time to make a difference.

Taking Money Away From The Generous?

There is an unfortunate movement calling for ever-expanding governments in the name of the “public good” to penalize societal achievers with redistributive taxation. In return, there is the vision of guaranteed public sector jobs, free college, healthcare for all and maybe even the ultimate in entitlements: universal basic income.

Who needs college, a job or frankly anything else, when one has direct deposit for governmental largesse and the option to sleep until noon?

Will these souls be willing to part with even a small portion of their entitlement money for little or no work performed to assist others? Is it selfish or selfless to receive government subventions for simply breathing, eating, sleeping and performing biological functions?

Or is there another way?

How about coming up with a great idea? How about becoming an entrepreneur? How about having a dream? And if your vision is realized, then how about giving back big time to those less fortunate?

A great example is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which donated $41.3 billion so far to fight extreme hunger and poverty in developing nations. Bill Gates through his dreams, the creation of Microsoft, the unveiling of the ubiquitous Windows OS, and earning $92.9 billion in accumulated wealth, has made sure his air mask is tightly bound.

In return, he has assisted literally millions of others through his philanthropy and generosity.

Gates and his co-founder Paul Allen actually created Microsoft in 1975, not government.

Almost DailyBrett can’t stop thinking about how the Obamacare website repeatedly crashed and even its calculator didn’t work. “If you like your doctor or health plan … “

In contrast, how many tens of thousands transactions do Microsoft, Amazon, Apple … process per hour? And they overwhelmingly get these calculations right thanks to ingenious algorithms.

Shouldn’t the mission of a wise government be to foster an environment in which entrepreneurs can continue to dream, to build wealth and to give back to society?

The United States did not become the most generous nation on earth by accident. Our exceptional distinction was powered by those who put on their own mask first, and then … they assisted others, millions upon millions of others.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/america-new-zealand-and-canada-top-list-of-world-s-most-generous-nations-a6849221.html

https://www.donnaschilder.com/articles/life-coaching-articles/put-your-oxygen-mask-on-first/

https://thedijuliusgroup.com/put-your-own-mask-on-before-helping-others-your-best-is-unacceptable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/universal-right-to-a-paycheck/

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/Who-We-Are/General-Information/Foundation-Factsheet

https://www.forbes.com/profile/bill-gates/

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” – Winston Churchill

Relationships matter, now more than ever.

Tact also counts more than ever, even for those not known for gentile diplomacy.

It’s way too easy to obsess about our digital world with instantaneous global communication in mere nanoseconds, which was unthinkable three decades ago.

These “destructive” technologies have forever changed the world (note Facebook and Google privacy concerns).

Even more destructive is the ability to plunge the world into an unthinkable thermonuclear exchange.

And let’s not forget trying to deflect attention from the ubiquitous, addictive smart phone.

Despite all these seismic shifts in the form of digital ones-and-zeroes, personal relationships are more than ever taking center-stage, particularly in the global political arena.

Think of it as “The Art of the Deal” on steroids.

Not So Warm and Fuzzy

What are the most important public relations of all?

The answers are personal public relations and reputation management.

Do Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have the best personal PR, let alone Kim Jong Un?

This question seems almost silly, but the ability and willingness of these gents (and at least one Frau) to establish and maintain fragile bromances and romances in our scary digital world are absolutely vital for our survival.

Consider that Trump and Kim (dubbed by The Donald as “Rocket Man”) were bragging about the capability of their nuclear buttons a few months ago, yet they still may or may not meet in Singapore on June 12.

Despite the low expectations for lasting, meaningful success, the prospect of a Trump-Kim summit is far better than a potential nuclear war.

Arm-in-Arm gehen Francois Mitterrand (l) und Helmut Kohl (r)

When it comes to war and peace, bromances and romances matter. The longest sustained peace in Europe has been maintained by the establishment of The European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, followed by the European Community (EU) in 1993.

If you are scoring at home there has been peace for the most part on the European continent for 73 years and counting. The relationship between the two most influential EU members – Germany and France – has survived and prospered by means of the relationships between Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, and then Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand, and now Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

As the lone woman in this equation (all due respect is afforded to the UK’s Theresa May), Merkel is rightfully regarded as the most powerful woman on earth – a title she did not seek and obviously does not cherish.

Nonetheless, Merkel has proven she is more than a match for some of the most self-absorbed men on this planet including: Trump, Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and to a lesser extent, Marcon.

Merkel’s relationship to Messrs. Trump and Putin are not warm and fuzzy, but she has been an effective foil. She rolled her eyes at Trump and reportedly insists on speaking German to Putin, while Putin speaks Russian to her – even though they are fluent in their respective languages.

Macron has obviously concluded that Trump is the leader of the world’s largest economy and power. Some have scoffed at the bromance between the two, and questioned what Macron has received in return (e.g., US pulled out the Paris accord and the Iran nuclear deal). Keep in mind that Macron has Trump’s ear, and may be Europe’s closest confidant to POTUS.

Trump’s bromance with China’s president Xi, including a visit to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, is a complicated relationship including strategizing about Kim Jong Un’s nagging North Korea and the question of tariffs and intellectual property (IP) protection. A solid, even though conflicted, relationship between the world’s two largest economic and military powers increases – not decreases – the prospect for world peace and maybe even, harmony.

President Donald Trump talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with their wives, first lady Melania Trump and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan as they pose for photographers before dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Time will tell whether Almost DailyBrett is correct on this point; hopefully that is the case.

You Can Take Putin Out of the KGB …

But you can’t take the KGB out of Putin.

Russia’s leader will play games, including inviting his black lab Koni to a 2007 summit with canine-phobic Merkel (see earlier Almost DailyBrett blog on this Machiavellian topic). How will Putin exploit perceived Trump weaknesses? How will Trump counter?

And yet these two leaders appear to enjoy each other’s company, at least in front of the cameras.

Will Trump develop the same kind of rapport with Kim Jong Un?

Kim has already kibitzed with Xi and most recently on both sides of the most heavily fortified and dangerous border with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.  The overriding subject of their historic encounters: the prospect for a summit between Kim and The Donald, regardless of the potential for success.

In our increasingly dangerous world – in which the digital ones and zeroes work for us and hopefully not against us – Almost DailyBrett takes the humble view that talking is far better than fighting.

Bromances and Romances matter.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/33365-tact-is-the-ability-to-tell-someone-to-go-to

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/common-market-founded

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

“You guys are obsessed with Trump … You pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. … He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. – Michelle Wolf speaking to the White House Correspondents Association dinner

Michelle Wolf once again proved the old adage: A stopped clock is indeed right twice a day.

Supposedly, Alec Baldwin is getting “tired” always playing Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” Somehow, someway Alec makes a go of it, even bringing in the real Stefanie Clifford (e.g., porn “star” Stormy Daniels) to play herself as SNL ratings soar.

Speaking to media expert Howard Kurtz, former RNC chairman and Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus, pointed to the universal improvement of media business models and share prices, and proclaimed:

“Trump is Money.”

Whether you are a conservative switching on Fox News, a liberal watching CNN’s angry talking heads or a socialist getting his or her red-meat fix on MSNBC, all three of these news networks are virtually 24/7/365 Donald Trump … and their ratings are upwards to the right.

Everyone and anywhere, the conversations are about Trump. As Patrick Buchanan once said: “Worse than being misquoted, is not being quoted at all.” Trump never suffered from this malady.

Since June 2015, the media has been in a foaming-at-the-mouth state of Schadenfreude waiting to stomp on Trump’s political grave … and yet the news of his demise has been greatly exaggerated.

As Almost DailyBrett and others have stated, Trump is a walking-talking-breathing, daily-outrage via Twitter or his own verbal expression machine. He is catnip to the media, and the Fourth Estate felines are stoned.

Some have suggested the American media (e.g., Wolf quote above) created Donald Trump and made his presidency possible. The mediaQuant estimates are America media provided the wealthiest presidential candidate in history with $4.6 billion (advertising equivalent) in earned media coverage.

Like him or detest him, Trump — “The Apprentice” — knows how the media works and plays it like a violin. There is nothing the media animal loves more than a good fight or a sordid controversy. Trump delivers in spades.

Show Me The Trump Money

The stately Gray Lady, The New York Times, (“All the News That’s Fit to Print”) at one time set the national agenda, providing us mere mortals with the daily subjects to think about and discuss over the dinner table.

That all ended with Twitter, particularly Trump’s nocturnal tweets – most outrageous, some not. Instead of the NYT being the poster child of Agenda Setting Theory, Trump with his presidential bully pulpit is posing the questions of the day … even before the Times hits the streets.

The inhabitants of the New York Times ivory tower have been preempted and leveraged, and they hate it. Let’s … yes, let’s write another front-page editorial chastising this rogue in the White House. That’ll show him.

Here’s the rub. Counterintuitively, negative publicity actually helps Trump. And in turn, Trump sells newspapers, raises Nielsen Ratings and boosts book sales.

We are approaching the three-year anniversary (June 16) of The Donald descending the Trump Tower escalator to declare his candidacy. The media was laughing back then, and going to the bank today.

Shares of the aforementioned New York Times are up 62.48 percent in the same three-year time period. 21st Century Fox, the parent of the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, increased 11.62 percent. Comcast (NBC and MSNBC) is up 12.64 percent. Washington Post, 7.75 percent. Time Warner (CNN), 9.99 percent … How’s that for creating shareholder value?

The media is making money – lots of money – off Donald Trump. They can’t wait to collectively dance on his political grave, but just not now … pretty please with sugar on top.

Hold your collective ears New York Times Pharisees: When it comes to Donald Trump, you are only too eager …  yes, too eager … to buy low and sell high.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/06/arts/television/snl-stormy-daniels-donald-glover.html

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/30/17301436/michelle-wolf-speech-transcript-white-house-correspondents-dinner-sarah-huckabee-sanders

https://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/30/breakingviews-trump-cold-shoulder-for-tv-ads-may-set-the-trend.html

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13896916/1/donald-trump-rode-5-billion-in-free-media-to-the-white-house.html

 

 

 

 

“After the United States gobbled up California and half of Mexico, and we (Nazi Germany) were stripped down to nothing, territorial expansion suddenly becomes a crime. It’s been going on for centuries, and it will still go on,” – Hermann Goering at the Nürnberg Trials

The charges at the Nürnberg Trials focused on Nazi Germany’s conspiracy to wage global war, and as a result millions were left dead across devastated Europe, and more than 6 million perished in the Holocaust.

The 1945-1946 Nürnberg judicial proceedings had zero to do with the 19th Century US acquisition of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas following the Mexican War. Goering’s lame attempt at “WhatAboutism?” ultimately failed as a legal tactic.

And while Goering dodged the hangman’s noose via a cyanide tablet, the practice of “WhatAboutism?,” clumsily evading inconvenient subjects with rhetorical deflections, is alive and well in our 21st Century discourse.

If the subject is the #MeToo movement, why do more than a few Democrats say “WhatAbout Donald Trump (e.g., Stormy Daniels)?” and more than a few Republicans chime in with “WhatAbout Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky)?” Neither gent is a paragon of virtue. We all know that.

Isn’t the real subject about sexual harassment/abuse targeting women regardless of the perpetrator’s side of the political divide or profession (i.e., major networks, Hollywood …)?

Shouldn’t we address and endeavor as a civilized society to solve these widespread abuses targeting women? Or should we deflect attention (“What about … ?”) to avoid an uncomfortable subject, and better yet score political points?

Is “WhatAboutism?” the first-and-last recourse of the intellectually vanquished?

Does “WhatAboutism” Say More About The Perpetrator or The Receiver?

“He (Vice President Mike Pence) thinks abortion is murder, which first of all don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it—you know, you’ve got to get that baby out of there.” – Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents Association dinner

“Essentially a reversal of accusation, arguing that an opponent is guilty of an offense just as egregious or worse.” – Merriam-Webster definition of WhatAboutism

Every time, Almost DailyBrett hears a “WhatAboutism?,” a series of stages ensues in this order:

  1. Eyes roll (again); 2. Concludes that a nerve has been hit by the impulsive “WhatAbout?” reaction. 3. Realizes the “WhatAbout?” rejoinder is only intended to deflect attention/change the subject 4. Almost DailyBrett is even more determined than ever to stay on the subject, triggering a second “WhatAbout …?”

You can run Mr. or Ms. “WhatAbout?,” but you can’t hide.

If Hermann Goering can reference the Mexican War, why can’t we raise the “WhatAbout?” question about the Norman Conquest, and maybe even the Romans?

If a decent person with integrity questions Michelle Wolf’s absolutely hilarious abortion/tampon jokes at the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) dinner, does mere dissent instinctively draw a “What About” rejoinder from the defenders of “Oppositional Journalism”?

Hey just think. … Maybe … just maybe … Michelle Wolf’s lame attempt at below-the-belt, bathroom humor (e.g., cruelly directed at White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and others) was totally inappropriate for a black tie dinner of the objective Fourth Estate in Washington, D.C.?.

Instead of deflecting questions about the Wolf’s vile, hate speech with an “WhatAbout?” interrogative, why can’t the responder instead ask whether the WHCA actually vetted the speaker?

Why can’t the receiver of incoming rhetorical arrows actually make a stand, and put up a spirited defense? How about the tried-and-true response from your author’s Sacramento days:

When all else fails: declare victory.  Thinking: (“Yep, we won … And here’s why).

Instead of affixing our rhetorical bayonets and rallying all the ethos, logos and pathos at our disposal, way too many “WhyAboutists” are simply deflecting their responses to some other notorious example (e.g., Mexican War) – many times unrelated —  to return fire.

The “WhatAboutists?” think they are so smug, when in reality they are waving their intellectual white flags.

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hermann_G%C3%B6ring

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/whataboutism-origin-meaning

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/whataboutism-what-about-it/2017/08/17/4d05ed36-82b4-11e7-b359-15a3617c767b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6f53b84cac9f

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-dogs-breakfast-of-a-dinner-1525388174

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

 

 

 

 

 

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