Category: Mortality


Whatever happened to Mr. Magnum, P.I.?

Whatever happened to“The Fonz?”

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember learning about predatory reverse mortgages on “Happy Days.”

Using celebrities in advertisements has been de rigueur since the Earth cooled.

Some of us remember O.J. slicing and dicing his way through airports on behalf of Hertz.

There is element of sadness when you learn that once-well-known and admired actors and entertainers are now lending what is left of their reputation and fame to extol … reverse mortgages to susceptible elderly people with life-preserver nest eggs.

Usually the “Has it come to this?” questions apply to one-time headliners (i.e., REO Speedwagon, Grand Funk Railroad, Moody Blues, ZZ Top) being reduced to playing desert casinos or county fairs.

Guess, they can get out there and play “Sharp Dressed Man” just one more time.

From Magnum, P.I. to AAG

“I’ve done my homework. And I know how dedicated AAG is to helping retirees in a caring, ethical way. I trust them. I think you can too.” – Selleck reading the teleprompter during American Advisors Group’s (AAG) two-minute spot

“These companies (AAG, $400,000 fine, Reverse Mortgage Solutions, $325,000 fine, Aegean Financial $65,000 fine) tricked consumers into believing they could not lose their homes with a reverse mortgage. All mortgage brokers and lenders need to abide by federal advertising disclosure requirements in promoting their products.” — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray.

Hey Tom, did your “homework” include the 2016 $400,000 fine by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) against caring and ethical, AAG?

According to the bureau, AAG “tricked” seniors into thinking they could never default on a reverse mortgage loan. The truth is seniors still must pay their property taxes, hold insurance on the property and maintain their residences. These loans are NOT zero brainers.

Do you still “trust” AAG, Tom? AAG has been fined for “tricking” seniors, and the ads — starring little ole you — are still running.

Do you care?

Almost DailyBrett has natural admiration/affinity for Selleck based upon the fact he is obviously talented, served as a Navy Seal, and went to the University of Southern California … May The Horse Be With You.

This blog post is one of sadness. Everyone has to make a living. We trade upon what we do well and in many cases, who knows us. We also have a precious personal reputation to safeguard and protect.

Once your good name is gone, it’s gone. And that’s the issue here.

As a public relations counselor, your author would have asked Tom Selleck:

‘Has it come to this, Tom?’ Really, Tom?

‘Is there no better way at this point in your successful career to make a buck? Does the indisputable fact that AAG was fined $400,000 for deceptive advertising mean anything to you? Do you really want to associate your good name with shameless false advertising?’

“Fonzie,” What Happened?

Henry Winkler, you were television’s answer to James Dean.

There you were, Mr. Ultra-Cool in your black bomber jacket and white t-shirt on Happy Days.

And here you are today in a standard light-blue colored shirt, a few belt sizes larger, pitching reverse mortgages for One Reverse Mortgage.

Seems like you and Tom Selleck caught the same dollar-driven disease.

Guess, coolness doesn’t matter anymore.

For the record, One Reverse Mortgage has not been fined by the CFPB. Does that really matter when it comes to Winkler’s image and reputation? Personal brands are indeed valuable.

Almost DailyBrett, who likewise is putting a few miles on the odometer (there is still plenty of gas in the tank) was shocked when he first saw Winkler in these reverse mortgage commercials. Getting old is a bummer.

This blog is already on the record about time shares, annuities and reverse mortgages. Each is a multi-billion business. The winners without a doubt  in each and every case are the salesmen/saleswomen, and most of all … the pitchmen to vulnerable seniors (e.g., Selleck and Winkler).

Reverse mortgage advertising star, former Senator Fred Thompson, couldn’t line his casket with his AAG money.

Messrs. Selleck and Winkler, you won’t be able to take your earnings to the after life either.

When your respective days are done, future generations will be left to ponder about your diminished reputations, if they think about you at all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvAui0vUT88

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1eIIQ6s_u0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhhGparW6KQ

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/your-money/reverse-mortgage-lenders-fined-for-ads-that-tricked-older-borrowers.html

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-takes-action-against-reverse-mortgage-companies-deceptive-advertising/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/business/would-you-trust-tom-selleck-with-your-life-savings.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/your-money/reverse-mortgage-lenders-fined-for-ads-that-tricked-older-borrowers.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/hasta-la-vista-to-timeshares-annuities-and-reverse-mortgages/

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were zero Vietnam Wars for this Nordic trio.

“This Country … “

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sure beats bitching, moaning and bemoaning.

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

 

… With this election, my heart is filled with the greatest hope, because I know this man (George Deukmejian) … I say the man with the experience, the knowledge, the integrity to do the job is the man that’s here on the platform with us tonight, George Deukmejian. Elect him Governor.” – President Ronald Reagan

It was the summer of ‘82.

Attorney General George Deukmejian two months before prevailed in a rough Republican gubernatorial primary.  The contested issue: Which candidate was closer to Ronald Reagan.

Now the focus shifted to the fall campaign.

The date was August 24. The scene was a $500 fundraising reception at the Beverly Wilshire, The guest of honor, Ronald Reagan.

A voice announced: “Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of the United States.”

Walking through the door was a smiling, handsome 71-year-old man with a full black mane of hair. He was at the time the oldest president in American history.

Just 17-months earlier, he almost succumbed to an assassin’s bullet.

But on this particular Tuesday evening … he looked like a million bucks.

For the author of Almost DailyBrett, it was a life-changing, transformational moment.

For a 27-years young campaign press director, seeing the president of the United States up close and personal for the first time, Reagan came across as a kind man with a radiant demeanor.

Reagan approached the podium, awaiting his introduction by my boss, George Deukmejian.

Even though Reagan was the most powerful man on earth, there was not even the merest glimmer of arrogance, let alone someone who saw himself as a counter-punching street fighter.

Reagan commanded the room, even with an ever-present an aw-shucks grin on his face.

Many argue about Reagan’s place in history, but there’s no debate in your author’s mind about his persona and presence. He will always be The President of the United States of my lifetime.

Born a Democrat

Just like Ronald Reagan, your author was born into a Democratic family.

Could have sworn that Nixon’s first name was “Damn.”

As Almost DailyBrett wrote on the sad occasion of the passing last month of George Deukmejian, he was the governor who changed my life.

What also drastically altered my view of the world was a 1981 two-week trip to the Soviet Union.

The magnificence of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s in Moscow, the Hermitage and the summer palace of the Czars in St. Petersburg are worth the trip itself. The coverage of the World Cup by Fox Sports is bringing back memories of that game-changing trip.

There was also the comment of my best friend who made the trip with me: “They (Soviet leaders) treat their people like caca (different word than the actual).”

Communism did not work then, and will not work now. Get over it.

Reagan was labeled as a “Cold Warrior” as if that term was a pejorative. He saw it as a badge of courage. His vision was simple: the U.S. wins and the Soviet Union loses.

Looking back at the confluence of the 1981 trip in-and-out of the Soviet Union, my job as the press director for the Deukmejian Campaign Committee, and the magnetic presence of Ronald Reagan, your author made the decision to become a loyal Reaganite Republican.

Under the Cognitive Dissonance Theory, the only way someone will change entrenched philosophical positions is with the presence of COMPELLING NEW information. Reagan was the completion of that philosophical shift.

Visiting The Reagan Library

Politics was just as rough in the 1980s as it has been since the birth of a nation in the late 18th Century.

The difference was a sense of civility as Chris Matthews wrote in his book, “Tip And The Gipper, When Politics Worked.”

Last year during a second visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and factoring in the present political climate even with a Republican in the White House and leading both houses of Congress, your author kept on looking toward heaven quietly asking …

Could you come back?’ ‘Please!’

https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/research/speeches/82482d

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LwOCanMkAY

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/the-governor-who-changed-my-life/

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking Money Away From The Generous?

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

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

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

Or is there another way?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relationships matter, now more than ever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not So Warm and Fuzzy

What are the most important public relations of all?

The answers are personal public relations and reputation management.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Can Take Putin Out of the KGB …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bromances and Romances matter.

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

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

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

We all lost a great one today.

He was one of the most popular governors in the proud history of California.

George Deukmejian was much more than the 35th chief executive of the Golden State.

For Almost DailyBrett, a former cub reporter with a fascination of all things political … and a little hair at the time (see photo above), meeting and working for George Deukmejian changed my life.

Instead of taking and keeping an eternal vow of poverty as a reporter, your author was serving as the press director of the Deukmejian Campaign Committee at 27-years-very-young.

My salary was $18,000 annually, but quite frankly I would have worked for nada for the experience. My transformation from a registered Democrat to a proud Reaganite Republican began in 1982. More importantly, my three-decade-plus career in public relations ensued with the gubernatorial primary and general election campaigns; we almost lost both until we won.

Sacramento was a hostile place in 1983. The other party controlled literally everything with the exception of the corner office. We needed the “Iron Duke” more than ever.

Feb. 26, 1983: California Gov. and Mrs. Deukmejian, left, watch as Mrs. George Finlayson, wife of the British Consul General, curtsies before Queen Elizabeth II in a reception line at the Broadway Street Pier in San Diego. This photo was published in the Feb. 27, 1983 LA Times.

Our friendly adversaries in the Capitol Press Corps, who were not predisposed to our way of seeing the world, deep down respected “The Duke.” They would state that George Deukmejian was a little dull (his favorite color was … “gray”), but his team was well-organized. The Deukmejian administration spoke in one voice from the first day to the last day eight years later.

It was well known that others were offering their champions as press secretary when the job came open in 1987. There was little secret that I wanted the job, primarily based upon my institutional memory about everything and anything George Deukmejian.

The governor had faith in me, and gave a chance so many others would have denied me. For three years, I served as his spokesperson and a chief message developer. The first day became the next day. The first week became the second week. The first month …

Looking back on his years as governor, your author still remembers pushing the media horde back just to give him a glimpse of the horrifically damaged Cypress Structure the day after the October 17,1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

LOS ANGELES – JUNE 07: Governor George Deukmejian campaigns for George Bush on June 7, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Grecco)

Each year after leaving the Office of the Governor in December 1989, George Deukmejian never missed sending a holiday card or a note now and then. When my first wife, Robin passed away, (he attended our wedding as governor), he called me to offer his condolences. That is the George Deukmejian I knew, kind and considerate right up to today … this sad, last day.

“We”, “Us”, “Our”

George Deukmejian always spoke in first-person plural, never wanting to draw undue attention to himself even though he was the chief executive of the largest state of the union. In a rare occasion in which he would employ the first-person singular, he once said: “my tear ducts are close to my eyes.”

His lifelong campaign was for public safety. He bravely called for California’s assault weapon ban when little Korean children were murdered by an AK-47 on a Stockton schoolyard. The NRA went crazy. What else is new?

The suffering endured by his ancestors in the 1915 Armenian Genocide always brought sad memories every April 24, and opposition to the Reagan administration’s stance on Turkey.

Many focus on his judicial appointments (yours truly wrote the vast majority of these news releases), his expansion of the state prison system, and his support for highways to get people to work … but seem to forget his lifelong dedication to human rights.

Then California Attorney George “Duke” Deukmejian and wonderful wife, Gloria at the Deukmejian for Governor headquarters opening in Manahattan Beach sirca 1982.

George Deukmejian was a committed fiscal-integrity, public-safety conservative. There were no flip-flops with the governor. He was at total peace with his philosophy.

And when the day was done, it was done. He went home to Gloria, his children, the noisy beagles and his one consistent vice, jamoca almond fudge.

Almost DailyBrett sensed this day was coming. My only regret is that I wished for the time and at least one more opportunity to be with him in these last years … just to say hello, and goodbye.

Your author will sign off with a tear from the ducts close to his eyes. He will make a promise to only use the first person plural. He will always remember the man who gave him a chance, when others would not.

George Deukmejian was the Governor, who changed my life.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-george-deukmejian-20180510-story.html

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

“If I had an unattainable ideal, it was leading Europe out of her darkness toward a new age of reason. I have it still.” – George Smiley in John le Carré’s 24th best-selling novel, “A Legacy of Spies”

John le Carré’s net worth is $100 million.

His beautiful house perched over the Atlantic in Cornwall’s Land’s End is stunning.

His earned place as a premiere story-teller in the cultural history/spy genre is assured.

John le Carré (pen name for David John Moore Cornwell) is one of the greatest authors during the last two generations, regardless of category.

He projects ethos having served in Britain’s international Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), stationed in Bonn – “The Little Town in Germany,” and gravitas based on his institutional memory.

His command of die Deutsche Sprache provides him with even greater credibility, when it comes to writing about the Cold War stand-off between the Federal Republic of Germany and the so-called German Democratic Republic.

“To possess another language, Charlemagne tells us, is to possess another soul. German is such a language. Once you have it in your head, you can go there anytime, you can close the door, you have a refuge.” — John le Carré

Jawohl mein Autor!

And after more than five decades of success and praise, there are no signs of closure.

He told Steve Croft of “60 Minutes” that he already is penning his 25th English spy novel. He confessed that he becomes sad and disconsolate when one of his novels is signed, sealed and delivered (Novelist postpartum depression?). Eventually, he is born anew and refreshed when he commences work on another tome.

He still uses his well-worn pen, a pair of scissors and scotch tape to write and revise. Intel’s MPU and Microsoft’s Windows OS are not required, and presumably never will be as far as le Carré is concerned. Why change at this point of his amazing life of writing?

His wife of 46-years, Valerie Eustace, employs the humble PC to convert the le Carré prose and thoughts into binary code. Digital is indeed forever.

Some see life in one’s 80s as an afternoon nap, a cane, a walker, forgetting what day it is, merely running out the clock on life. For le Carré, it seems that his celebrated life is heading for a next chapter.

Looking Back At History; Trying to Make Sense of the Present

“If this is truly the denouement of the mystery of George Smiley and indirectly of Mr le Carré himself, there is something odd about it. It does not have the feel of closure.”The Economist review of John le Carre’s 24th novel, “A Legacy of Spies”

Re-reading and re-watching the novel/movie “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” (1963), no one questioned the urgency of standing up to the USSR just two years after the erection of the evil Berlin Wall. The death of Alec Leamas, played by Richard Burton, and British Communist Liz Gold at the base of the blasted wall, leaves the reader/viewer hoping for a better ending … one that did not come for another generation.

“A Legacy of Spies” questions what was the noble purpose that left Alec Leamas and Liz Gold prostrate in the death strip just a few climbs up the ladder to freedom. These interrogatives are easily posed in the form of a deposition. The answers are not as easy, particularly since the Soviet threat (or at least that version of the Russian menace) went into the history books nearly three decades ago.

The author of Almost DailyBrett has re-read/re-watched le Carré books and movies, learning even more from his command of detail and projection of British thought/culture as the UK has moved on from the Loss of Empire, Cold War to Brexit.

The movies based upon his books … even some that vaguely follow the actual text (e.g., BBC adaptation of the “Night Manager” ) are a further testament to the author. Besides Burton, two James Bonds have even stepped up in leading roles including Sean Connery (e.g., Russia House) and Pierce Brosnan (e.g. The Tailor of Panama).

Le Carré proves that voluminous reading and writing is a profession/hobby/source of joy that we all can enjoy until that final day arrives … Just one more paragraph, please.

More power to you, John le Carré. You’re an inspiration to all of us.

https://www.johnlecarre.com/

https://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21728611-old-masters-john-and-george-puzzle-their-watchers-legacy-spies-john-le-carr-s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4bnUHVhrjI

https://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/authors/john-le-carre-net-worth/

https://www.sis.gov.uk/

 

 

“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal. Fuck outta here with your nice words.” – Fresno State English Professor Randa Jarrar in a tweet upon the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush

“I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.” – Another tweet by Creative Writing Professor JarrarThe body was still warm on Tuesday.

And shortly thereafter, the race card was played with the nasty labels of “war criminal” thrown into tweets filled with unmitigated hatred. This time the ugly words were uttered by a tenured Fresno State Creative Writing Professor Randa Jarrar.

To his credit, Fresno State University President Joseph I. Castro immediately disassociated the university from Jarrar’s stunning tweets.

FSU Provost Lynette Zelezny said the professor’s horrific comments are under review in accordance with the university’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA). She was asked whether Jarrar could be fired. Zelezny answered the subjunctive question with the affirmative.

When it comes to tenure, CBAs and academic freedom and Jarrar’s outrageous tweets, Almost DailyBrett will take the “under” when it comes to firing a tenured professor.

If Jarrar is not fired, does that mean that tenured professors can say whatever they want, no matter how vile? Are we better as an academic community as a result?

First Amendment Rights/Academic Freedom? 

“I will never be fired.” – Jarrar

We all have the First Amendment Right of Free Speech, regardless of the level of maliciousness.

And tenured professors have “academic freedom.”

The question remains how far does “academic freedom” and CBAs extend when it comes to termination with cause?

Jarrar is taunting the administration of Fresno State, and quite frankly universities and colleges across the country.

When is too much, too much … or is the sky the limit, if there are any limits at all?

Can a university simply proclaim that a tenured professor in question can speak for himself or herself no matter how destructive the comments?

Almost DailyBrett takes issue with this notion.

As the former Press Secretary for the California Office of the Governor (e.g., George Deukmejian), the author of Almost DailyBrett did not have the academic freedom protection enjoyed by tenured professors. Instead your blog writer was an agent of the state, serving at the express pleasure of the governor.

There was zero separation between my own personal comments and my official duties as press secretary. When the phone rang at home at 1 am and a reporter was on the line, yours truly was not a private citizen but a 24/7/365 representative of the Office of the Governor for the largest state in the union.

Likewise, Professor Jarrar is indeed a wealthy $100,000 per year agent of the State of California, and by extension Fresno State University.

She is teaching the leaders of tomorrow, which should make any decent person shudder.

Where Are The University Presidents?

“A professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish. We are all held accountable for our actions.” – FSU President Castro

Will there ever be a time when a rhetorical red line is crossed by a tenured professor?

Will President Castro eventually succumb to the pressure of his tenured faculty, simply slap Jarrar on the wrist, and let her back into her classroom with a big cat-who-swallowed-the-canary smile on her face?

Will he and others in the administration by omission send the image of an uncaring Fresno State University to students, parents and alumni? Will the university president essentially pardon a professor, who wishes for the quick deaths of a revered American family that produced two presidents?

The deciding question is not free speech, academic freedom and collective bargaining agreements.

The real issue is accountability vs. no accountability, when there is no doubt a red line has been trampled.

An agent of the state has betrayed her trust.

Will FSU President Castro and Provost Zelezny have the courage to stand up for decency in these vitriolic times?

Almost DailyBrett is hoping that is the case.

Don’t hold your breath.

Almost DailyBrett note: As predicted Professor Randa Jarrar was not fired because of her tenure. Her insensitive tweets and arrogant referral of critics to call a State of Arizona mental health hotline notwithstanding. President Castro wants to assure FSU donors that Jarrar doesn’t speak for the university. Let the checks be written.

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209227364.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/04/18/after-calling-barbara-bush-an-amazing-racist-a-professor-taunts-critics-i-will-never-be-fired/?noredirect=on

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-secrets-of-a-great-first-spouse-1524177700

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209752459.html

 

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