Category: Lifestyle


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is the bloom off the rose?

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Half-Dead Wreck”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Caravan Is Coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.” – President-elect Barack Obama

America did it.

Ten years ago — the anniversary is a week from tomorrow, Sunday, November 4 — Americans performed the once unthinkable political/societal miracle: They overwhelmingly elected an African-American as the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Americans were once again globally seen as an exceptional and extraordinary country. We seemingly put aside our deep-seeded divisions to elect a visionary with a unifying message of hope and change.

Sorry for those who refer to America as “This Nation:” — your favorites, Denmark, Norway and Sweden — all monarchies — are not exceptional nations and never will be. Once again the USA proved to the world it’s the Land of Opportunity, and yes an extraordinary country.

Two months later, a record crowd turned up in Washington D.C. to watch Obama put his hand on the Bible. Sorry Donald, the size of your inaugural crowd was not even close.

Looking back one decade later, Almost DailyBrett must rhetorically ask:

What happened to the Hope? What happened to the Change? What happened …?

To many it seems that racism and hatred has steadily increased and mutated since 2008, when 69.4 million Americans cast their votes for Barack Obama (e.g., 365 electoral votes).

Ditto four years later, when 65.9 million Americans re-elected Obama (e.g., 332 electoral votes) to the White House.

Maybe Obama’s comfortable election/re-election against War Hero U.S. Senator John McCain and successful former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney respectively were not championed in all quarters … some on the right … some on the left.

Those with ongoing political agendas, based upon leveling charges of racism to intimidate dissent, were seemingly perplexed when an African American was elected to the highest office of the land.

Were the North vs. South battles over, and the war… won?

Some may have rhetorically asked: “How can we continue to charge, accuse and allege racism when 60 million-plus Americans – the majority of these voters were not black – went to the polling place or by mail and twice elected Obama by wide margins?”

Consider what happened to NASA when First Man Neil Armstrong was successfully placed on the Moon and safely returned?

Ponder what happened to the Anti-War Movement when American pulled out of Vietnam?

Weigh what happened to the Civil Rights Movement when Obama was elected president?

What’s next?

Wars Intensified To The Glee Of Some

“Race relations have arguably become more polarized and tenser since 20 January 2009. Though smaller in scale and scope, the demonstrations sparked by police shootings of unarmed black men were reminiscent of the turbulence of the 1960s.” – Nick Bryant, BBC New York correspondent

Polarization pervades our politics.

Obamacare passed with precisely zero Republican votes.

Tax reform passed with precisely zero Democratic votes.

Tribalization spread to our streets and ball fields. Mobs are roaming. They are angry and way too many times, violent.

The unfamiliar became familiar: the names/places including Treyvon Martin, Ferguson, Flint, Baltimore, Dallas, Antifa, Colin Kaepernick … became topics for the dinner table and even fighting in the streets.

More than ever, those who dared offer a different opinion, are/were labeled as “racists,” “misogynistic,” “homophobic,” “privileged,” “transphobic” …

Many on our hyper campuses became venues in which Unmensch with other points of view were charged with “micro-aggressions,” requiring “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces.”

The November 4, 2008 Spirit of Hope and Change is long gone after just one short decade, compelling one to ask: “Did it ever really exist?”

Many of these subsequent events (e.g., Treyvon Martin shooting) listed by Almost DailyBrett came before Donald Trump.

Did the lost promise of Hope and Change/corresponding rise of über Political Correctness prompt many of the 62 million to go to the polls and cast ballots on behalf of change agent, Donald Trump?

Hatred: The New Norm?

“I really worry that someone is going to be killed and that those who are ratcheting up the conversation … they have to realize that they bear some responsibility if this elevates to violence.” — Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)

Senator Paul was on the same local baseball diamond when bullets flew and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) was shot, and almost killed. And just this past week, pipe bombs were sent to former and present Democratic office holders. Shots rang out today in a Pittsburgh Synagogue. Don’t even want to think, what’s next?

In the meantime, Almost DailyBrett has seen and experienced negative media before … but never to this extent. We are in unchartered waters, bringing into question what legacy/digital journalism means anymore?

Any positive news from the White House – no matter the subject or how it’s presented — is immediately turned in a dark direction by Oppositional Journalism.

The two tribes are polarized as never before. The other side of the aisle can’t cross the street to have a bite to eat without drawing ferocious protesters.

Civility? What civility?

How can we get back to the best hopes and eternal optimism, which characterized the legacies of Kennedy and Reagan?

We went to the moon. The wall came down. Kennedyesque and Reaganesque hope and change worked regardless of party.

Were we better citizens back then? Maybe so.

More to the point: Can we ever get back to the glimmering hopeful moments on November 8, 2008, when even politically charged allegations of “racism,” were given a rest …  at least for one evening?

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/11/04/obama.transcript/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-the-left-cant-let-go-of-racism-1503868512

https://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/us/politics/05campaign.html

http://www.pewresearch.org/2008/11/13/postelection-perspectives/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38536668

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/410610-rand-paul-on-political-climate-i-really-worry-that-someone-is-going-to-be

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

 

 

 

 

There is time-tested simplicity and beauty that comes from boy meets girl.

Take Harry Burns played by Billy Crystal and Sally Albright portrayed by Meg Ryan. The 1989 romantic comedy was “When Harry Met Sally,” and the 12th time (or more) watching this film is just as good as the first time.

It took 12 years in screen play time to fully debate whether “men and women can ever be just friends,” the real question of this landmark film.

We all wondered, when would Harry and Sally finally realize they were more than friends, but actually they had morphed into soul mates who truly loved each other?

Why is Almost DailyBrett writing now about a movie filmed almost three decades ago? Keep in mind, “When Harry Met Sally” did not produce an Academy Award, and produced a decent gain at the box office (e.g., $92.8 million) compared to the production cost ($16 million).

Consider that Nora Ephron was nominated for “Best Original Screenplay,” and the movie was directed and produced by the legendary Rob Reiner.

Interposed with the travails and fragilities of Harry and Sally were commentaries by couples recalling how they met and how they fell in love.

For Almost DailyBrett the movie depicts the 1980s as a much better time. Perfect? No. There has always been issues between men and women since the Garden of Eden.

Having said that, the film celebrates boy meets girl, indirectly extols marriage, and does not make any aspersions against anyone else.

In 1989, we saw the Berlin Wall come down, freedom on the march in Eastern Europe foretelling the collapse of Communism, a new world order, and maybe even a “Peace Dividend.”

Some even dared to suggest it was “Morning in America.”

Compared to our present day culture of hatred, taken offense and grievance is Almost DailyBrett taking a risk by reflecting on the beauty of boy meets girl, a notion no one would even think about challenging three decades ago?

They say that we can’t go back. We can’t roll back the clock. All true.

However, we can reflect upon a time when we seemed to enjoy each other’s company, and even to fall in love and proudly exit the wedding with our happy brand new spouse.

“Castrate Their Corpses And Feed Them to Swine? Yes.”

Where does all the hatred come from?

Georgetown Professor Christine Fair, why are you so unfair about millions and millions who were born white and male?

It seems by your loving tweet, you have no regard for or regrets about: “entitled white men,” “deserving miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps … “

And there is more: “castrate their corpses,”  and “feed them to the swine.”

As a Georgetown associate professor in security studies for America’s oldest Catholic university, are you practicing Christian kindness to literally millions, who were born through no fault of their own into their respective ethnicity and gender?

What happened to random acts of kindness and diversity?

And to Georgetown, which acknowledges your right to a private Twitter account, but states categorically that you were not speaking for the university, is a professor wishing for the horrific murder of innocent people consistent with “academic freedom?”

BTW, Twitter suspended Dr. Fair’s social media account. Does that mean that Georgetown has a lower standard for decency than Twitter?

Can Associate Professor Fair expect a slap on the wrist from Georgetown in her near future? Bet on it.

Are their absolutely no bounds and strictures for privileged professors when it comes to vitriol and hatred against one group of fellow human beings?

“When Harry Met Sally”

There is absolutely no doubt there were issues between men and women back in the 1980s. Almost DailyBrett acknowledges it would be naïve to think all was well. The contentious Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process revolves around what happened or did not occur during the … 1980s.

Having recognized this point, there are assertions of a better and more peaceful time in the 1980s. There is also the undeniable conviction that American was happier back then.

Your author has always celebrated men and women of goodwill growing old together and yearning for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Harry and Sally recognized their good fortune, fell in love, married three months later and conceivably lived happily ever after.

Wish all couples, ethnicities and genders could do the same.

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

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/02/how-i-when-harry-met-sally-i-explains-inequality/283517/

https://www.foxnews.com/us/georgetown-professor-says-white-gop-senators-deserve-miserable-deaths-after-kavanaugh-hearing

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/05/06/what-about-whataboutism/

https://www.thepatriotbrief.com/twitter-removes-georgetown-prof-who-called-for-castration-of-white-men/

 

 

“No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.” – Henry Kissinger

To Almost DailyBrett, it seems that “too much fraternizing” has resulted in way-too-much trouble for way-too-many men and has spawned (no pun intended) a global movement: #MeToo.

Should your author apologize when he dares to admit that he is indeed stricken with the Y-Chromosome?

More to the point: Are men born guilty?

Do the adjectives “creepy” and “pervy” always modify the nouns, “man,” “men” and “male(s)”?

The Genesis for this blog goes far beyond the litany of once successful men, who are now-and-forever relegated to the sidelines of life. Did their actual/alleged “fraternizing” maybe or actually go too far to be dubbed sexual assault/harassment?

Reportedly, the foibles of men originate from the Garden of Eden to 20th Century high school/college activities right up to the present day.

John Wayne’s “A man is going to do what a man is going to do” or “Boys will be boys” has been ushered into oblivion. Responsibility and accountability should reign for everyone.

Far too many women have experienced/suffered boorish (and at times criminal) behavior by way too many men. The #MeToo movement is predicated on a basis of hurt and pain for literally millions of women.

Even though Almost DailyBrett can state with impunity the vast majority of men are not saintly and pure – even Jimmy Carter “lusted in his heart” on the hallowed pages of Playboy – they are not automatically guilty because they came into the world as baby boys.

Not every male is the “Midnight Rambler.” It just may seem that way listening to the 24-7-365 talking heads on the partisan networks.

And yet if it always seems to come down to “he said/she said.” Your author will always take the “over” for the female of the species. Men can have their careers ruined based upon a charge whether the allegations are true or not.

Remember Rolling Stone Magazine’s December 2014 report on the rape culture, targeting University of Virginia’s Phil Kappa Psi fraternity. The only problem with the story, it was determined to be 100 percent untrue. “A Rape On Campus” was fake news before “Fake News” became in vogue.

For the university and the fraternity, the damage has been done. Forget about due process.

Does it suck to be a male?

“I Don’t Hate White Men … “

“I don’t hate white men. Actually, I’m so personally and emotionally invested in changing the culture of toxic masculinity that we made a little white man of our own.” – Former Grad School Classmate

Almost DailyBrett’s graduate school classmate actually does not hate white men … Ahhh, that’s refreshing.

Congrats on attempting to raise a “little white man of your own.” Hopefully, you can relate to scores of other mothers, who tried to tame these testosterone infested/infected creatures.

Maybe, you will understand the agrarian-turned-industrial-turned-service economy is working against men. Can you assist in educating these tadpoles to be successful gentlemen of the 21st Century?

Even though men have a plethora of issues, contributing to a culture of toxic masculinity, one must admit that men play an un poquito role in promulgating the human race through the provision of essential nutrients.

Pointing to the obvious: Many men are faithful, bring home the bacon, help raise children and assist in building our society. Yes, these hombres do indeed exist.

And yet, if they are charged … If an accusation is leveled … If they become collateral damage in a political fight, their worlds will change for the worse in mere digital nanoseconds.

When popular media discuss a “gender gap,” the term is automatically assessed as to only include the gulf between women and men. What about the other way around? Irrelevant?

Not so fast. According to national 2016 general election exit surveys, Hillary Clinton won the women’s vote, 54-41 percent, a 13 percent margin. Game, set match?

Oops, men favored Donald Trump over Hillary, 52-41 percent, an 11 percent margin. Misogyny?

Wait: White women voted for Trump over Hillary, 52-41 percent.

Maybe, the issue as noted by University of Virginia Political Science Professor Larry Sabato was the presence on the ballot of a “particular woman” with a ton of baggage.

The 2016 result does not preclude a women someday serving as America’s chief of state (see Teresa May in Britain and Angela Merkel im Deutschland).

Almost DailyBrett must reinforce here and now that an undefined number of bad Herren have inflicted pain and suffering on more women than those who actually courageously reported these transgressions.

Each and every case is inexcusable.

And yet to mothers raising male babies, toddlers, kids, teenagers, young men, these males are not guilty by birth. Agree?

The automatic presumption of guilt is never fair. America is governed by the Rule of Law. That basic precept applies to everyone, including those with testosterone coarsening through their bodies.

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/henry_kissinger_105144

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culture-mind-and-brain/201802/the-real-problem-toxic-masculinity

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/19/not-all-men-are-creeps/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/millions-of-active-women-supporting-millions-of-idle-men/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/deadbeat-boyfriends/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/impact-journalism/

 “San Francisco has many charms, but it is not particularly salubrious. People regularly encountering used drug needles, human excrement and sidewalks full of homeless people when they arrive home late at night at their $4,000-a-month one-bedroom flat in San Francisco sometimes think they might just prefer it elsewhere.” The Economist cover story, “Peak Valley, Why startups are going elsewhere.”  

A median-priced home in the SF Bay Area, including the Silicon Valley, costs $940,000. Where can one find this mid-range beauty?

Scenic Milpitas? Bucolic Sunnyvale? Hip Hayward? Utopia in Union City?

HUD considers a family income of $120,000 in San Francisco to be “low income.” Six figures is “low income”?

The traffic in the Bay Area, let alone Los Angeles, is beyond mind-numbing.

If you like taxes, California is your redistribution nirvana: Income, sales, corporate, property, gas, tobacco, liquor, special assessments, fees, surtaxes, bridge tolls … If it tastes good, it’s taxed.

The Bay Area Council quantitatively revealed that 46 percent of regional respondents want to move elsewhere compared to one-in-three just two years ago.

And where do many consider moving? Portland, Eugene, Bend, Lake Oswego, Ashland … all in Oregon.

The desire of Californians to adopt and embrace Oregon’s superior quality of life at saner prices (e.g., zero sales tax) is not new. What is notable is the disappearance of the term, “Californicators” from the vocabulary of Oregonians.

Are Californicators going extinct?

What happened to this threatened species, which at one time was feared and loathed by Oregonians?

Driving Housing Prices; Compounding Traffic; Polluting Campgrounds

“I urge them to come and come many, many times to enjoy the beauty of Oregon. But I also ask them, for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.” – Former Oregon Governor Tom McCall

When the author of Almost DailyBrett first moved to Portland, Oregon in 1990, it was a good idea to remove the California plates from a vehicle as quickly (e.g., two nanoseconds) as possible.

As a former “Californicator,” your author was immediately responsible for all the sins that ailed Oregon. The state’s timber industry was heading in the wrong direction and the national recession hit Oregon hard.

Let’s face it, Oregonians exhibited a pronounced inferiority complex vis-à-vis California with its glorious weather, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Hollywood entertainers and yummy wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

What Oregonians didn’t seem to appreciate was that times were-a-changing. California was becoming more image than reality. The estimated 9 million more souls (about the size of Michigan), who were projected to move to the Golden State by 2010, actually established residence … and then some.

Californians started commuting longer distances as traffic intensified and as taxes and tempers rose. California is more than Los Gatos, Los Altos, San Francisco, Tiburon, Malibu and La Jolla. The state is also home to hopelessness in Central Valley foreclosure communities including Stockton, Modesto, Fresno, and Bakersfield.

California used to be divided by north (e.g., San Francisco) vs. south (LaLaLand). Today, it is west (e.g., Palo Alto) vs. east (e.g., Visalia).

Doesn’t It Rain in Oregon?

Sure does and Oregonian loved exploiting the rain, dampness and gloom for their own purposes.

And then all the inferiority stopped cold, replaced by a smugness, even a sense that Oregon is superior to California.

Portland as evidenced by Portlandia became the place in which the Dream of the 90s survived.

JASON: “Remember when people were content to be unambitious? Sleep to eleven? Just hangout with their friends? You’d have no occupations whatsoever. Maybe you work a couple of hours a week at a coffee shop?”

MELANIE: “Right. I thought that died out a long time ago.”

JASON: “Not in Portland. Portland is a city where young people go to retire.”

Oregon became synonymous with the Nike Swoosh. The Ducks played twice for the national title, and won their last two Rose Bowls with Marcus Mariota accepting the Heisman Trophy.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley quickly became recognized as the home of some of the best Pinot Gris’ and Pinot Noirs in the world.

The state’s microbrews are literally second to none including: Widmer Hefeweizen (Portland), Deschutes Mirror Bond Pale Ale (Bend), Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (Eugene), Full Sail Amber Ale (Hood River).

The state diversified away from timber to become a leader in high technology, cancer research, and a whole host of service oriented businesses.

The departure of the figurative Californicators from the local nomenclature is both a reflection of the decline of California, but more importantly the growing coolness of Oregon.

https://www.opb.org/artsandlife/article/former-governor-tom-mccall-message-visitors/

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/09/01/silicon-valley-is-changing-and-its-lead-over-other-tech-hubs-narrowing

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/the-death-of-californication/

https://genius.com/Carrie-brownstein-and-fred-armisen-dream-of-the-90s-lyrics

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population

 

 

 

 

“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

 

 

 

 

 

Almost DailyBrett has never dunked a basketball, and never will.

Not enough height, hops and hand-circumference.

Palm a basketball? Forget it.

There are many people for a wide variety of endeavors, who just can’t.

And many times they bravely try anyway.

Which leads your author to those, who won’t.

They have the talent. They have the knowledge. They have in many cases extraordinary opportunity …Some even won the biological lottery.

But … their attitude. Their stubbornness. Their lack of motivation. Their gaming of the system are all symptom of … won’t.

The Best Economy in 20 Years

“It’s the economy, stupid.” – Successful Political Campaign Consultant James Carville

The help wanted signs are everywhere.

According to the U.S. Depart of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate stands at 3.9 percent or about 0.4 percent above full employment.

We have a labor shortage — not for just jobs with wages — but positions with salaries, a full array of benefits and maybe equity opportunities.

Our service oriented economy is in full gear with GDP growing at 4 percent and inflation hovering around 2 percent.

And yet there are so many out there (particularly lame males of the species), who still pretend the economy is mired in the 2007-2010 “Big Short” crash-and-burn mode.

Jobs did not exist back then, not even tasks (e.g., fast food) that many men type believed then and contend now were/are below their pride.

Fast forward to the present day, and these men still act as if jobs/positions do not exist. According to the American Enterprise Institute, up to 32 percent of working age males (20-54 years young) are voluntarily not working.

As Almost DailyBrett has mentioned before, these hombres are typically sleeping in until 11 am or noon, playing video games/binge watching for an average of 5.5. hours per day (e.g., Fortnite, Dungeons and Dragons … ), before happy hour/evening intoxication.

Do you think that someone obsessed with video games/binge watching could quite possibly be adept at software coding for a major publicly traded technology company?

Sure … but …

Ten years ago when the nation was mired in its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the national labor participation rate was 65 percent. Today during a boom, its 62.9 percent.

Yep, the economy went from depressing recession to robust economic expansion and the percent of Americans working went down … 2.1 percent or about 3.2 million workers.

Can you imagine the increased productivity and tax revenues if 3+ million workers entered the workforce en masse?

In-lieu of an increase or decrease in tax rates, what would be the impact be on the nation’s bottom line if all of these people were filing tax returns under existing rates each spring?

Instead of never-ending arguing about tax legislation wouldn’t it be more productive to focus on increasing the number of taxpayers?

Scared Of The Service Economy?

As America has matriculated from an agrarian-to-manufacturing-to-a-service-oriented economy brute strength, ignorance and testosterone has lost value. The upswing has been enjoyed by the fairer gender, albeit pay rates are not at parity.

As a result way too many hard-working women who can are supporting far too many sedentary men who won’t.

What would happen if these women realized they would be better off without these parasitical men?

What if they threatened to drop the hydrogen bomb and declare to their young retirees: “you can and you must” learn to add value to the service economy.

Yes, there are some who can’t … but not all of the record 9 million souls on disability. Is there really nothing some of these recipients can do to participate in society to make a difference? Are all of them just waiting for that day when they can’t operate the remote or video game controller?

In some cases for idle men, it’s just plain old arrogance. They appear to be rising out of their respective chairs to go out and find a job, but for some reason … that dog just won’t hunt.

These men can, but they won’t. There is always an excuse.

“I have to sign a document.” “I have to urinate in a cup.” “I have to …

How do you spell the word, F-R-A-U-D?

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/labor-force-participation-rate

 

“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/

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