Category: Media Relations


Ever wonder how Venezuela became … Venezuela?

Almost DailyBrett at one time expected that Amazon would announce Austin, Texas as the recipient of HQ2 with its estimated $50 billion total investment and upwards to 50,000 technology positions with full benefits.

As a major technology hub, Austin offers a well-trained workforce, the capital of a right-to-work state, no state income taxes, and politicians’ favorably predisposed to corporate capitalism. In addition, Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion, which is based in … Austin.

Instead, Amazon selected Northern Virginia with it well-educated workforce and proximity to the infinite wisdom emanating within the Beltway. The other choice, which raised more than a few eyebrows, was heavily unionized and über-taxed Long Island.

The original thinking was Amazon would be welcomed with the prospect of providing 40,000 real positions with annual salaries averaging $150,000 and full benefits – not strip mall jobs – and $27.5 billion in new tax revenues during the course of 10 years. Yes, there were $3 billion in tax incentives from the State of New and New York City and these are always controversial.

Let’s see $3 billion in exchange for $27.5 billion in new revenues and 40,000 direct high-paying positions, not counting all the indirect economic activity supporting Amazon HQ2 in terms of suppliers, vendors and utilities.

Buy Low, Sell High?

Alas the United States is a divided nation, not just Democrats vs Republicans … but more to the point: Socialism vs. Capitalism.

Some wish to punish Amazon and its wealthiest dude on the planet boss, Jeff Bezos, for pioneering digital retail, employing 613,300, generating $232 billion in annual revenues, and stimulating $798 billion in investor market capitalization.

Amazon was greeted to Gotham by a buzz-saw of those who disdain capitalism in favor of command-and-control socialism.

As a former gubernatorial press secretary, the author of Almost DailyBrett imagined what it would be like to be relaying really bad news to the boss – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – and answering the flood of media calls.

The alternative of a root canal is looking real attractive right now.

Ever hear the one about banging your head against the wall?

It only feels good, when you … stop.

Is Amazon Serious?

Is Amazon just firing a shot across the bow?

“It (loss of Amazon investment) would certainly undermine confidence in governance. You can’t empower anti-capitalist ideologues and expect the capitalists to embrace them. I still think they will work this out, because the embarrassment would be severe.” – Joel Kotkin, Chapman University professor of Urban Studies

“You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.” – New York Mayor Bill de Blasio

“Threw away” constitutes fighting words.

These provocative words make it more difficult for the City of New York and Amazon to “work this out.” Why did da Mayor challenge Bezos’ manhood (we know it exists) in the first sentence of his prepared statement, and then charge the company with throwing away an opportunity in the concluding sentence.

Hey Mr. Mayor ever heard of the words … “disappointed”? … “concerned? … “let’s talk”?

If New York bids adieu to 25,000-to-40,000 Amazon positions and $27.5 billion in tax revenues in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ congressional district, will those who are cheering today be demanding social justice from New York state and city tomorrow?

Even China with its brand of authoritarian capitalism figured out that buying low and selling high is the best way to provide prosperity for its people.

New York had the prospect of becoming a lucrative technology hub … but it “threw away” that opportunity.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/nyregion/amazon-hq2-queens.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alyyale/2019/02/13/leaving-long-island-city-what-losing-amazon-hq2-would-mean-for-nycs-future/#18d48f01127c

https://nypost.com/2019/02/14/de-blasio-amazon-threw-away-great-opportunity-in-nyc/

 

 

“Nancy Pelosi needs to come back from Hawaii. Less hula, more moola for the Department (of Homeland Security) and Customs and Border Patrol, funding our border security.”  — Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway

The optics were awful.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi headed to Hawaii for resort time at the $1,000-to-$5,000 per night Fairmont Orchid, while the U.S. government was partially shut down.

In contrast, President Trump cancelled his Xmas and New Year’s planned vacation time at the Mar-a-Lago resort.

The story was covered by Fox News and the New York Post among others. For some reason, the New York Times, Washington Post and the big networks did not report Nancy’s between Xmas and New Year Kona spa days on the Big Island.

Reminds Almost DailyBrett of the adage: If Nancy swam in the Pacific and the New York Times passed on the story, did she still get wet?

Despite the fact her ideologically aligned media gave her a Mulligan, was it smart public relations/politics for the honorable speaker to depart for “Spa Without Walls” Hawaii with the rival president managing les affaires d’état from the Oval Office?

The Time-and-Place Rule

Every president is roundly criticized for playing golf (e.g., Trump), shooting baskets (e.g., Obama) or bike riding (George W. Bush). The implication is that presidents should have zero hobbies or interest in staying fit, while also blowing off some steam.

As a former press secretary, your author would gladly confirm my chief executive is indeed playing golf, shooting baskets bike riding etc., and would question the political motivation of those who had a problem with these healthy recreational activities.

Having said that, Almost DailyBrett contends presidents and congressional leaders need to practice The Time-and-Place Rule. The rhetorical questions: Is this the time? Is this the place?

For example, first-time-around California Governor Jerry Brown, who opposed Proposition 13, immediately befriended Howard Jarvis and became a born-again tax cutter. He remained in toasty Sacramento that summer, and directed the state in subvening $4 billion to the state’s 58 counties.

His Republican opponent Attorney General Evelle Younger immediately left for Hawaii. The contrast could not have been greater. Brown working to implement Proposition 13. Younger basking in the islands. The predictable Jerry Brown negative campaign ads featured … you guessed it … Evelle Younger and hula music.

Younger never recovered from violating the Time-and-Place Rule, losing by more than 1 million votes in the fall 1978 general election.

“There Will Be No Hula Music”

Fast forwarding four years later, my boss then-Attorney General George Deukmejian had just won a hard-fought GOP primary for Governor of California.

When a reporter posed a seemingly benign question about his vacation plans, the Duke’s political instinct went into overdrive. “There will be no hula music.”

Translated, he was going to take a welcome vacation in California with his family. Hawaiian music would not played in his opponent’s radio and television ads.

George Deukmejian paid homage to the Time-and-Place rule and went on to win in November.

Did Nancy Pelosi violate the Time-and-Place rule? Yes.

Does it matter to her liberal media sycophants? No.

Does it undermine her faux concern for the 800,000 federal employees, who are not being paid? Yes.

Very few of them have the resources to listen to hula music real time, and enjoy the trappings of a $5,000 per night Hawaiian resort.

They would just like to have grocery money, let alone enough to indulge in a “Spa Without Walls.”

http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/ID/22833/Nancy-Pelosi-Vacations-at-Fairmont-Orchid-During-Government-Shutdown.aspx

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/nancy-pelosi-is-vacationing-at-hawaii-resort-during-shutdown

https://nypost.com/2018/12/30/kellyanne-conway-mocks-nancy-pelosi-over-hawaii-vacation-amid-shutdown/

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/im-not-allowed-to-talk-about-that-nancy-pelosi-office-wont-comment-on-her-shutdown-vacation-in-hawaii

 

 

 

Remember the Oakland Raiders and their “Commitment to Excellence”?

The Silver and Black catch-phrase was quietly buried along with its originator, Al Davis.

Is it time, actually past time, for the Pac-12 Conference to drop its divorced-from-reality tag: “Conference of Champions”?

Consider that only 35,000 (assuming you believe the “announced” official attendance) bothered to show up for the conference football “championship” game this past November 30. The game was an absolute non-factor in deciding which four teams made the College Football Playoff (CFP).

Why would any conference commissioner hold its football championship game on a gridlocked Friday night in a pro-football Mecca, while the real Power Five conferences play their championship games on Saturday?

The literal oceans of empty seats in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara sent an unmistakable signal to the sports world: If Pac-12 fans don’t care, why should you? What ya think Pac-12 boss Larry Scott?

Weigh that only two times has the Pac-12 qualified its teams for the College Football Playoff (i.e., Oregon in 2014 and Washington in 2016) out of a potential 20 spots over five years.

In bowl games, the conference is 4-12 in the past two years: 1-8, 2017-18; 3-4 2018-19.

The last time a Pac-12 team won the national title in football: USC in 2004.

The last time a Pac-12 team won the national title in men’s basketball: Arizona in the previous century,1997.

The last time a Pac-12 team won the national title in women’s basketball: Stanford, ditto for the 20th century, 1992.

The conference is fond of championing its NCAA Director’s Cup standings as tantamount to “athletic success,” most notably Stanford, UCLA, USC, Cal and Oregon. Does anyone really care about college sports outside of the aforementioned football, men’s and women’s basketball?

Yes, Oregon State is the current champion in baseball. Oregon won its seventh track-and-field championship in 2015 … but other than piling up Director’s Cup points, do these championships really matter to the sports public?

From Love to The Embarcadero

In 2009, the Pac-12 presidents hired Larry Scott away from the women’s tennis circuit (where love means nothing) to run the conference, which was falling behind the other Power Five conferences (i.e., SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12).

To Scott’s credit, he took the lead in creating the Pac-12 Network. He also brought in the Denver and Salt Lake City media markets into the fold with the expansion of the 10-school contiguous state balanced conference to include non-contiguous Colorado and Utah.

The aforementioned conference championship game was added to the mix, but for some reason Scott and his lieutenants can’t seem the figure out the Levi’s Stadium dog just won’t hunt after five tries.

When was the only time the conference championship ever sold out? The first game in 2011 held at the venue of the team with the best record, Oregon’s Autzen Stadium. Why not persist in awarding the championship game to the team with the best record?

Sure beats an empty tarped stadium with an “announced” crowd of 35,134 on a Friday night.

The conference’s men’s basketball tournament is held in Las Vegas. There are zero Pac-12 teams in Nevada. Are gambling tables and shows with lots of skin, the secret to drawing fans to watch the conference’s best?

John Canzano of the struggling Portland Oregonian penned a four-piece mammoth series essentially asking if the Pac-12 is getting the bang for its buck. The conferences pays Scott $4.8 million per annum and devotes $6.9 million yearly for its offices near the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco.

Pac-12 members receive $31 million annually from the conference. By contrast, SEC members receive $41 million and the Big 10 universities garner $37 million from their respective conferences.

Certainly geography is not Scott’s fault, but it still must be his concern. The majority of Pac-12 members are situated three hours west of Bristol, Connecticut, the home of ESECPN. What Almost DailyBrett does not understand is the surrender implied in “Pac-12 After Dark.”

In order to provide ESPN and Fox with late evening “sports programming” for insomniacs in the Eastern and Central time zones, our fans and teams must sometimes wait until 7:45 pm to kick-off or tip-off our games. The alternative is 11 am kickoffs, fostering 8 am tailgates. Pass the orange juice.

Hey Larry instead of the networks deciding the times of our games, let’s team with Pac-12 presidents and athletic directors in courageously insisting the majority of our games be held between 12:30 pm and 5 pm local time for our fans on Saturdays.

As for the tagline: “Conference of Champions,” let’s shelve/deep six it until Pac-12 teams once again actually win some real championships.

https://www.oregonlive.com/sports/oregonian/john_canzano/index.ssf/2018/11/pac-12-larry-scott-leftout-part1.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/pac-12-after-midnight/

 

 

“If the Earth slammed into the Sun (or vice versa), what would the president do?” – CNN correspondent

“Guess, we would all fry and die.” – White House Trade Hawk Peter Navarro

Couldn’t believe that Navarro would answer CNN’s hypothetical question Friday about whether President Trump would impose $200 billion in even more tariffs on China, if the next 90 days of trade negotiations go nowhere.

Instead of bobbing, weaving and ducking the question, Navarro answered in the affirmative.

Why Peter, why?

American markets tanked Friday, led by a 558-point decline on the Dow.

The psychology on Wall Street is so negative right now. Traders are selling the bounces instead of buying on the dips. Forget about Buy Low, Sell High.

Why did the White House Press Office allow Navarro take an interview with CNN? Isn’t “prevention” one of the key components of effective crisis communications?

The liberal network openly despises … being nice here … Navarro’s boss (see Jim Acosta antics), and will not do the administration any favors whatsoever (e.g., benefit of the doubt).

Were you media trained, Peter?

Obviously, not.

Why didn’t you coordinate your talking points with Larry Kudlow?

Instead it was administration bad cop, trade hawk (Navarro) contradicting an administration good cop, trade dove (Kudlow), resulting in the media and markets seizing upon … Navarro’s negative response to a hypothetical question (e.g., more tariffs on China).

Shocking or more of the same from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue … or both?

It’s now painfully obvious the happy talking points/tweets emerging from last weekend’s G20 Xi-Trump summit over Argentinian steak were over-done … way over-done.

Earth And Sun Collide?

Can’t tell you how many times Almost DailyBrett has been asked hypothetical questions, posed by the media to generate headlines particularly on slow news days.

If asked by a member of the Capitol Press Corps in Sacramento what my boss would do if the earth did indeed slam into the sun, your author would without doubt take the following approach:

“The earth and the sun vary between 91 million and 94 million miles a part each year, and the earth has been around for 4.543 billion years. We are confident this trend, which is our friend, will continue.”

Always remember, conditions can and most likely change between now and later. If that is indeed the case, why answer a hypothetical?

Here’s an even better answer:

“As a policy, we do not answer hypothetical questions. We will say is that we are cautiously optimistic about our trade negotiations with China. We are not going to prejudge this process.”

Boring? Sure. That’s the point.

Do the markets sell off, putting more pressure on the U.S. negotiators? Not likely.

Are the reporters/correspondents disappointed? Oh well …

Should an administration speak in one voice? Always.

Kudlow and Navarro should not be separate spokesmen with conflicting philosophies on the same question. The Alexander Hamilton-Aaron Burr duel would have gone viral in the 21st Century with the NASDAQ dipping into correction territory.

Kudlow mentions the potential of extending the moratorium on tariffs for another 90 days Friday, if the negotiations are making progress … markets go up.

A little later Friday Navarro confirms the possibility of raising $200 billion in additional tariffs, if the negotiations go nowhere … and the markets are pounded.

Who’s on first?

Maybe, Mr. Art of the Deal wants to deliberately send confusing, ambiguous signals to the Chinese to keep them off guard … Good Cop vs. Bad Cop?

Unfortunately, this latest market selloff and the related overly negative market psychology could have been avoided by simply refusing to answer hypothetical questions, and by an administration speaking in one voice.

Is that too much to ask?

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/hypothetical-question.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/07/investing/stock-market-today-navarro-kudlow/index.html

https://www.space.com/17081-how-far-is-earth-from-the-sun.html

https://astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/19833/about-how-many-revolutions-has-the-earth-made-around-the-sun

 

 

 

“I must be a mushroom because everyone keeps me in the dark and feeds me bullshit.” – Urban Dictionary

The rocket scientists at General Motors made the decision to close five factories in the United States and Canada, impacting 14,000 workers/15 percent of salaried employees. Meanwhile the GM truck production lines would keep on humming … in Mexico and China.

GM tenderly issued a Monday news results about these Ohio, Michigan and Maryland facilities/people … saying they will be unallocated in 2019.” 

Unallocated?

Hard to believe that any PR pro worth his or her salt could actually write these words, and with a straight face actually advocate for their approval with management.

Almost DailyBrett concurs with CBS Money Watch in its designation of “unallocated” as one of the worst corporate euphemisms ever employed, if not the absolute worst.

No one is laughing, General Motors.

Before going further, Almost DailyBrett will remind readers of the four tenets of Crisis Communications:

  1. Tell The Truth
  2. Tell It All
  3. Tell It Fast
  4. Move On

There is little doubt that GM’s corporate PR types toyed with the idea of dumping this dead-dog factory closure announcement on the ultimate bad news distribution day of any year – Black Friday or the second day of the long Thanksgiving Weekend.

Nice way for big bad GM to give thanks to its affected workers during the holidays?

Ultimately, the folks who used the ridiculous, twisted in knots verb – “unallocated” – couldn’t bring themselves to drop this bomb the day after Thanksgiving, so they opted for the following Monday, November 26.

And yet, there was the little matter of the resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, who carried Ohio and Michigan.

The Fifth Tenet of Crisis Communications

There may even be a fifth tenet of Crisis Communications: Never Blindside The Boss.

Could GM inform Donald Trump concurrently with the factory closures/14,000 layoffs announcement? Not a chance.

Even at the risk of a leak/premature disclosure, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra had no choice but to pick up the phone and call the president this past weekend.

The alternative of the mushroom treatment, keeping POTUS in the dark and feeding him fertilizer, was clearly not an option. The resulting Trump tweets about being disappointed could well have reflected that he was furious, if he was not informed in advance.

In a series of wrong calls, give GM credit for getting this one right … there was absolutely no upside in blindsiding the president.

Seven Layoffs in Three Years

When the Internet Bubble burst in March 2000, the technology business – particularly semiconductors — crashed into the wall … and there were no skid marks.

For Almost DailyBrett’s employer, LSI Logic, we enjoyed a post-split share price of $90 in 2000, full-running factories, $2.7 billion in revenues, and about 7,700 employees.

Within three years, our stock price plunged to $3, we eliminated two factories, revenues sank to $1.8 billion, and our workforce was reduced to 3,900.

In short, we did everything we could … to survive.

Included in this effort was the issuance of seven news releases, announcing a cumulative series of job cuts and factory curtailments-closures (i.e., Gresham, Colorado Springs, Santa Clara). Eliminating jobs and closing factory gates does not get better with age.

We also instinctively knew there were certain audiences, who needed to be briefed in advance, preferably hours before the news release crossed the wires. Predictably, they (i.e., governors, city council members, county supervisors …) were disappointed, but they understood the economic imperative of our decisions.

The GM case is much trickier. The company received a $39.7 billion taxpayer bailout in the dark days of 2009. Is this “unallocation” of factories and people the way GM says thanks to America during Thanksgiving?

At least Mary Barra picked up the phone and called the big boss.

Can you imagine being a fly on the proverbial Oval Office wall?

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=treat%20em%20like%20a%20mushroom

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/worst-corporate-euphemism-ever-gms-unallocated-factories-a-contender/

https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2018/11/28/General-Motors-layoffs-factory-shutdown-Lordstown-Ohio/stories/201811280038

 

 

 

“Richard Nixon came back from his loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960 and won the presidency in 1968. He will be the model for winning again.” – Mark Penn and Andrew Stein, Wall Street Journal op-ed

“You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.” – Richard Nixon’s “last news conference” after losing the California governorship in 1962

Ready For Hillary 4.0 knows the history of The New Nixon 3.0.

For Nixon, 1968 was the charm.

If the American electorate missed its opportunity in 1960 (Nixon 1.0).

And California voters didn’t get it in 1962 (Nixon 2.0).

Perhaps America would appreciate the new and improved “Nixon’s The One” six years later?

After two crushing defeats, Richard Milhous Nixon (3.0) became POTUS #37.

Conversely, Hillary was “inevitable” in 2008 … until #44 Obama won.

And Hillary was “inevitable” in 2016 … until she lost to # 45 Trump.

And now she is gearing up for her third “inevitable” #46 campaign/election next year.

As some things change in the Democratic Party, others remain the same.

Don’t bet against Nancy as “Madam Speaker,” and “Madam Secretary” Hillary as the nominee.

Will we be treated to the inevitable Clinton Restoration four years later than originally planned?

Hillary Now More Than Ever

“True to her name, Mrs. Clinton will fight this out until the last dog dies. She won’t let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House.” – Penn and Stein, November 11

 “Dear God, please, yes.” – Trump campaign advisor Kellyanne Conway

The massive public relations/marketing challenge facing Hillary’s 2020 campaign team will be how to repackage an inferior 2008 and 2016 product and offer her as new and fresh for the upcoming 2019-2020 presidential cycle?

Reminds one of the 2009 eye-brow raising Domino’s Pizza advertising campaign in which the company confessed to its crust “tasting like cardboard,” and its sauce “tasting like ketchup” and worst of all, Domino’s was selling an “imitation pizza.”

The company pivoted off this act of contrition and promised to do better … and more than survived.

Penn and Stein implied the Hillary First Lady years constituted Hillary 1.0. Her tenure as an ostensibly positioned moderate senator served as Hillary 2.0. Her progressive campaign in 2016 represented Hillary 3.0

And Hillary the 2020 “firebrand,” taking Trump by storm, will be Hillary 4.0.

The real question is not whether Hillary will run, but will Sturm und Drang Hillary be able to flip any red states, regardless of whether or not she reassembles the Obama coalition?

Following In Nixon’s Footsteps

Two years are a political lifetime.

The economy is strong, now. The country is at relative peace. Divided government usually translates into little chance of turbo partisan legislation ever getting through both houses, let alone to the president’s desk.

Impeachment? Hillary understands impeachment, and there is little, if no chance, that Trump will be convicted in the GOP expanded Senate.

Why bother?

What happens if the economy starts going south and the markets are no longer volatile, but instead are heading straight down? What about unforeseen exogenous events overseas, possibly requiring a U.S. military response? What about Donald Trump’s act wearing thin after all these years?

In 1968, there were zero torch-light parades demanding the return from exile for Richard Nixon.

Having said that, the Vietnam War and the popular revolt against this quagmire prompted #36 Lyndon Johnson to resign. The Democrats were a hot Chicago mess. There was an opening for the Old Nixon to become the New President Nixon.

Hillary is not a new, exciting commodity (e.g., second-place Beto), having lost not once, but twice. And yet, no one knows the exact political landscape one year from now, let alone on November 3, 2020.

Will Hillary successfully recalibrate her brand, persona and reputation to prompt Democrats and independents to once again back Hillary with new ingredients? If Nixon could be successfully repackaged even with his legendary paranoia, doesn’t that mean that Hillary could be The One for 2020?

Or maybe: “Hillary Now More Than Ever”?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-will-run-again-1541963599

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/12/clinton-aide-2020-run-983684

https://twitter.com/hashtag/hillary2020?lang=en

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/10/24/hillary-2020-trump-better-hope-not/?utm_term=.a374f8034d09

https://www.inc.com/cynthia-than/dominos-admitted-their-pizza-tastes-like-cardboard-and-won-back-our-trust.html

Whatever Donald Trump does on any given day, on whatever issue, for whatever reason … he loses.

Win the presidency … Trump loses.

Expand the GOP’s Senate Majority … Trump loses

Respond in kind to the dangerous taunts from Kim Jong Un … Trump loses.

Make nice to Kim Jong Un in Singapore … Trump loses.

Cut a trade deal with China’s Xi Jinping … Trump loses.

Champion a blow-out economy … Trump loses.

Extol the virtues of tax reform … Trump loses.

Raise his approval rating … Trump loses, loses and loses.

Never in recorded history have so many so-called journalists dumped so much detritus on any one president with so much speed and relish.

And with this unprecedented and unlimited exercise of Lose-Lose Journalism, any pretext of real or supposed objectivity (i.e., CNN, NBC, NYT, WaPo) has been relegated to First Amendment history books.

Almost DailyBrett didn’t mention the commentariat at MSNBC because one expects drip-drip way-left-of-center rhetoric from those who pass all the required liberal litmus tests to become a talking polemic on the network.

This humble analysis is not suggesting in the least that other presidents –, particularly Republican chief executives, have been denied a given smidgeon of the benefit of the doubt (i.e., Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41 and 43). The level and intensity of today’s scorn – sometimes jumping the line to outright hatred of the president – is unprecedented in its sadness about what was once an admired profession.

Your author has written before about Affirmational Journalism (e.g., Dan Rather), Impact Journalism (Rolling Stone UVA rape story) and Oppositional Journalism (e.g., CNN), but Lose-Lose Journalism is a new phenomenon.

Whatever Trump does or doesn’t do … he is instinctively, instantly and vitriolically regardless of the outcome, judged to be … the loser.

Reminds one of the story of Richard Nixon gathering reporters to San Clemente, and then walking on water.

The New York Times headline the following morning: “Nixon Can’t Swim.”

Becoming Part of the Story

Is there a barely concealed desire by oodles of correspondents and reporters to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, bringing a Republican administration to its knees?

Is the Pope, Jesuit?

Many media psychologists have diagnosed Donald Joseph Trump as a narcissist. Does he bask in the glow of standing behind the podium with the presidential seal? It’s obvious.

What also seems to be undeniable are journalists-turned television personalities, who hog the limelight – one in particular refusing to yield to other reporters — to interrupt and challenge the president … violating the long-held journalistic standard about not becoming part of the story.

Do any media shrinks want to analyze the self-aggrandizing behavior of CNN’s Jim Acosta? Does he crave his own CNN program? Does he even more want to be responsible for bringing down the president? Does he hate the president as has been suggested elsewhere?

More important, does narcissistic Acosta cover the news or is he a vital and integral part of the news? If you want to know how important Jim Acosta is to the survival of our Democracy, maybe you should ask him.

He is now a cause-celebre as his White House media credentials have been pulled. His colleagues – whether they despise him or not – will circle the wagons on his behalf. Listen: You can hear Journalism lectures, equating out-of-control Acosta with the First Amendment.

Sure.

Moving away from the briefing room to the editorial pages, one must ask after scanning all the WaPo pundit headlines since 2015, who is actually reading these screeds?

The answer is the same elitist crowd that always consumes these epistles. Maybe even they are becoming bored with the same, predictable rhetoric?

How many times can Trump be labeled as a racist, misogynist, privileged, homophobic, transphobic … before each and every one of these once-explosive words becomes cliché?

We even heard angry rhetoric this week, suggesting that America is composed of non-racist and racist states. Guess which ones voted Democratic and which basket-of-deplorable states voted Republican?

When the racist, misogynist, homophobic cards are indiscriminately overplayed and overhyped in the media, does each of  every one of these loaded words lose at least a portion of their impact? Maybe we need new and improved pejorative words for our public vocabulary … or maybe not?

Almost DailyBrett is wondering whether lose-lose Journalism is the new norm for the Fourth Estate. Barack Obama feasted in a cavalcade of Win-Win Journalism. Trump is counterpunching daily via Twitter and other devices against Lose-Lose Journalism.

Will President #46 bask in Win-Win Journalism or endure another round of Lose-Lose Journalism.

Guess it depends on who is elected president.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/11/07/donald-trump-jim-acosta-white-house-news-conference/1920107002/

https://nypost.com/2018/11/07/jim-acosta-violated-one-of-the-oldest-rules-of-journalism/?utm_source=facebook_sitebuttons&utm_medium=site%20buttons&utm_campaign=site%20buttons

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

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/dan-rather-father-of-affirmational-journalism/

 

“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/

 

 

 

 

With all due respect to the memory of LBJ and his colorful comment about FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover, American politics has been turned on its head.

Way back in the 20th Century, the conventional wisdom was to take the time to provide quality TLC to your electoral base, reach out to independents, and be extremely anal about your political enemies.

The rationale: Your friends can change, but your enemies will always be there for you.

Some contend the ageless adage: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” … is attributable to Chinese militarist Sun Tzu or maybe Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli or even Al Pacino in Godfather II.

We may never know for sure.

The Economist’s Lexington this week examined the prospects of the “Never Trump” movement within the Republican Party to possibly mount a primary challenge against Donald Trump when the 2020 presidential cycle immediately commences after the November midterms.

Considering that Trump’s approval rating is 90 percent among Republicans (i.e., two Supreme Court picks, tax reform, regulatory relief, strong economy, no wars), the chances of beating him right now in the GOP primary appear to be slim and none with Slim being out-of-town.

Ready for more GOP primary punishment, Ohio Governor John Kasich? Been there, done that?

Almost DailyBrett also is mindful of the time period between now and 2020 is a political lifetime.

What Do Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama All Have in Common?

Even though the philosophical gap among these former presidents is wide, they all enjoyed not having primary opposition when they successfully ran for their respective second terms in 1996, 2004 and 2012 respectively. They also focused their GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts on enticing millions of their close friends to vote on election day.

The aforementioned Lyndon Johnson (1968, Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy) along with Jimmy Carter (1980, Ted Kennedy) and George H.W. Bush (Pat Buchanan) all faced credible primary opponents. They all failed re-election, big time.

Trump’s enemies are not going anywhere. They will intensify their rhetoric, ferocity and protests (if that is even possible) between now and November 2020.

The question remains: What will Trump’s friends do in two-years-time?

Donald Trump – whether you adore him or detest him (there is literally no middle ground) – he knows how to play the “us” vs. “them” game better than ever before.

The editorials and op-eds in the New York Times and the Washington Post and the commentary from the talking heads on CNN and MSNBC are consumed by people who didn’t vote for Trump before, and will never vote for him in two years or ever.

As former coach Dennis Green once said: “They are who we thought they were.”

Barring the political fantasy of the 12th Amendment (e.g. Electoral College) being overturned, Trump needs to focus on keeping the red states, red or … keeping his friends, his friends.

One of the ways, he is doing exactly that is by fulfilling promises (e.g., steel and aluminum tariffs for Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania).

Another is the almost by the minute denigration emanating from the political class, questioning the cerebral capabilities of those in the fly-over states that provided Trump with his Electoral College majority.

When all is said (there will be a ton of pontificating and bloviating between now and the next 27 months), the number that still matters is 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

Trump delivered a relatively comfortable 2016 winning margin of 36 electoral votes above the 270 threshold. And if he holds his 30 states. Game, set and match.

The eventual Democratic nominee must peel away at least two red states. A good place to start would be Florida and its 29 electoral votes.

For Trump, it’s in his best political interest to keep close his friends in Florida.

Maybe even invite them over for some fun in the sun at Mar-a-Lago.

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

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/389068855293185830/?lp=true

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2018/08/11/never-trump-republicans-could-have-their-revenge

http://www.startribune.com/he-was-who-we-thought-he-was-the-best-dennis-green-quotes/387948942/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/07/19/electoral-college-blues/

 

 

 

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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