Category: Out of the Box Thinking


“In the darkness, we found the light. Introducing a new era of electronic driving.” – Volkswagen’s new advertising campaign tagline

“Hello, darkness, my old friend; I’ve come to talk to you again …” – Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s, “The Sounds of Silence”

Is the best defense a good offense?

Is the most effective present-day defense utilizing a Baby Boomer anthem and harkening back to the 1960s with its brightly colored Volkswagen Beetles and (Hippie) Microvans?

After being rightfully bashed and bloodied starting in the autumn of 2015 for deploying defeat software to deceive anti-pollution testing of its vehicles (Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche), heads rightfully started to roll at Volkswagen AG corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

On the line with “Dieselgate” was Volkswagen’s brand, but also the reputation of Germany’s legendary designers and engineers. Consider, there is probably no nation on earth that prides itself more than Germany for its commitment to the environment (note the recent electoral successes of die Grünen).

The Volkswagen cheating scandal was akin to catching a falling knife. Using another well-worn metaphor, the shocking story has legs and has been running unabated for nearly four years.

The scandal started in September, 2015 when the U.S. EPA charged Volkswagen with using illegal (air quality testing) manipulation devices. A related Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation was launched. Volkswagen’s chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn was fired.

A continuous chorus of charges, fines, lawsuits, increased governmental regulation, falling stock prices and recalls mounted against Volkswagen and its Audi and Porsche subsidiaries. Last year, German authorities indicted Winterkorn on aggravated fraud charges.

Almost DailyBrett noted that Volkswagen did not follow to the letter the four basic tenets of Crisis Communications: Tell The Truth, Tell It All, Tell It Fast and Move On. In many ways Volkswagen management was just hoping this mess would simply subside.

Volkswagen management, employees, shareholders and even Kanzlerin Merkel and the German government had to confront the metaphorical Scheisse-Sandwich … you don’t nibble.

Back To The Drawing Board

At some point, the world’s largest automobile designer/manufacturer would have to go back on offense.

In doing so, Volkswagen realized it could not assume a business-as-usual approach.

Ultimately, Volkswagen appreciated that it has to acknowledge its wrongdoing, beg for forgiveness, and somehow, someway commence the hard work of rebranding … essentially moving on.

Volkswagen of America hired New York’s Johannes Leonardo advertising agency, and secured the rights to “The Sounds of Silence.”

The question posed to VW management: Can a major ad buy (part of a reported $2 billion campaign) for its 1:45 second spot featuring a Baby Boomer/Yuppie anthem make everything right in the world for Volkswagen?

In and of itself, the answer is obviously: no.

Almost DailyBrett has always believed that Volkswagen is engaged in a marathon, not a sprint. Volkswagen’s story, which began in 1937, deserves another chapter.

Americans are credited for being an understanding people. They will not forget, but are they willing to forgive and give … even a corporate entity … another chance?

The Johannes Leonardo creative, which debuted with the NBA Finals and the NHL’s Stanley Cup last week, is edgy as it literally starts in the darkness with a news announcer directly referencing the Volkswagen scandal.

One suspects that securing VW’s management approval for an open acknowledgement of moral failure was easier said than done. As Chairman Mao found out, the long-march back starts with the first step.

In our world of advertising bombast and overkill, it’s the extremely clever advertisement that stops the viewer in his or her tracks and commands attention.

The dark Sounds of Silence images convey going back to the drawing board. The result is the coming resurrection of the VW microvan … a concept vehicle for now … with the message the company’s environmentally friendly electric vehicle does not contribute to climate change. Volkswagen envisions 22 EVs (electric vehicles) by 2028, and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Volkswagen has stumbled for nearly four torturous years. The questions are with its new ad campaign and beyond: Has the company finally learned its lesson, and are we as consumers willing to forgive, while certainly not forgetting?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEvNL6oEr0U

https://www.fastcompany.com/90359361/volkswagen-aims-for-feel-good-redemption-in-new-major-ad-campaign

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a27784322/vw-hello-light-commercial-column/

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/dieselgate-timeline-germanys-car-emissions-fraud-scandal

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/business/winterkorn-volkswagen-emissions-scandal.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkiley5/2019/06/06/vw-goes-back-to-the-future-in-new-ad-campaign-to-put-dieselgate-in-rear-view/#1026a00d3aa5

https://www.vw.com/

http://johannesleonardo.com/

“Poor old Germany. Too big for Europe, too small for the world.” – Henry Kissinger

“It is for the rising German generation … unanimously announcing their desire: not for a German Europe, but for a European Germany.” — Thomas Mann

Germany is not a chill place.

Don’t get Almost DailyBrett wrong, you certainly can have a great time in Germany (e.g., beer gardens in München, wine in castles along the Rhine).

Having said that: There is no que será, será; in Deutschland.

Since 1945, the Germans have transformed their once-devastated, occupied and divided land and through their legendary industriousness into the #4 GDP ($3.68 trillion) in the world, and the nation with the second largest trade surplus at $274 billion.

The question for today’s discussion: Why is today’s Germany cool, calm and collected compared to its once three Western occupying allies: United States, United Kingdom and, France?

Watching ARD’s Tagesschau night-after-night, your author is struck by the absence of angry talking Teutonic heads. Certainly, Germany has its share of weighty issues and political power pontificators, but there are no discussions of glorious defeat impeachment, broken down Brexit negotiations or roaming gilets jaunes (yellow vests) in the streets.

Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche promised to reform France. He quickly found out the reality of how difficult it is to change the nation that has turned defending the status quo into an art form.

Some have questioned whether the United States will ever have a woman president, three years after the stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton. Almost DailyBrett is confident the answer will eventually be “yes,’ just not Madam Secretary or any reasonable facsimile.

Theresa May serves as the U.K.’s second woman prime minister for another week, but she was eventually beaten down by as The Economist’s cover proclaimed, “The Mother of All Messes.”

Moving one time-zone to the east, one finds Kanzlerin Angela Merkel finishing her fourth term … no later than 2021 … as the first woman leader … and most likely not the last for das Vaterland.

Even though her decision to allow 1 million or more asylum seekers into Germany in 2015 was obviously too much, too fast and … let’s face it … a mistake, she will nonetheless go down in history as one of the country’s best chancellors.

Feminizing The Fatherland

Merkel has turned down the temperature in Germany. The nation even in the face of its horrific recent history (e.g., 1933-1945) has seemingly completed its Vergangenheitsbewältigung or dealing with the past.

Germany has finally become a normal country, and serves as the rock in the middle of the wobbly European Union. Britain may eventually leave the EU, but Almost DailyBrett expects the German-French leadership duopoly to endure.

Your author was amazed about the Tagesschau (Daily Show) news coverage of the resignation of the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) Andrea Nahles in the wake of the party’s poor results in the European Commission and Bremen election.

BERLIN, GERMANY – DECEMBER 07: Malu Dreyer (L) and Manuela Schwesing (R), vice-chairwomen of the of the German Social Democrats (SPD), attend the federal party congress on December 7, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

She was replaced for now by two women: Manuela Schwesig, Malu Dreyer and one hombre Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel.

Germany’s other parties were quick to offer commentary and respect to Nahles, and their leaders were for the most part women: Merkel and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Christian Democrats: Annalena Baerbock, The Greens; Linda Teuteberg, Free Democrats; Katja Kipping, The Left and Beatrix von Storch, Alternative for Germany.

Other than Baby Boomer Merkel, 64, these women for the most part are Gen Xers or Millennials. The baton is being passed to the next generations of German leadership.

Almost DailyBrett is treading cautiously in suggesting the obvious (and desperately needed) softening of Germany’s scorched earth image has been greatly assisted by the presence of calm, confident women (e.g., Merkel).

After the world’s worst disastrous explosion of testosterone fueled über-nationalism, Germany needed to turn down the temperature and start the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding its brand.

However history judges Angela Merkel, there is zero doubt that she has bolstered the country’s image by softening it.

Today’s headlines reported The Greens within one percentage point of Merkel’s Christian Democrats. At some point there will be a new chancellor.

Almost DailyBrett is betting that Deutschland’s next leader will be another strong Frau with Merkel’s competence and calmness.

https://www.investopedia.com/insights/worlds-top-economies/

http://www.worldsrichestcountries.com/trade-surplus-by-country.html

https://www.politico.eu/article/german-social-democrats-nominate-trio-for-interim-party-leadership-manuela-schwesig-malu-dreyer-thorsten-schaefer-guembel/

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1137200/angela-Merkel-news-latest-poll-popularity-results-cdu-spd-coalition-germany-politics

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

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

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/06/06/why-angela-merkel-wouldnt-feel-awkward-d-day-celebrations/?utm_term=.ad3708e74e7d

Almost DailyBrett has always fretted about the plight of the “boat people” of Monaco.

After all, who can blame them for seeking a better life?

They always seem to be able to guide their respective yachts into the right slip.

There each of them floats, reminding one of a can of expensive sardines.

Who has the biggest yacht? The most expensive bubbly? The cutest “niece?” The best view of the F1 Monaco Grand Prix?

Never was terribly concerned about ultra-cool Brit Lewis Hamilton and his Formula 1 Mercedes.

This past Sunday, Hamilton was always in the lead right in front of Holland’s frustrated-for-78-laps Max Verstappen of the Red Bull team.

Hamilton, the reigning five-time Formula 1 (F1) champion, always appears to have everything under control.

He even told Ellen that he never “goes” in his racing suit during the course of a two-hour race.

Consider that it only takes two-seconds for his 22-member Mercedes crew to change his four tires.

During the one-and-only caution this past Sunday on lap 11 in Monaco, Lewis’ team affixed four medium compound “tyres” (as the Brits spell it) to his super high-tech Mercedes.

Soon it became apparent that Hamilton was driving on the wrong “tyres,” and it seemed like an eternity to the checkered flag.

During this tense, nerve-wracking endurance contest around the 19-turn, two-mile through-the-streets course, Mr. Hamilton was not amused.

The Wrong Tyres; The Right Driver

“Bono … he’s right on my arse. Can you not see, that? ” – Lewis Hamilton on the radio to Mercedes race engineer, Peter Bonnington

Talk about the infamous British stiff upper lip, quivering just a tad.

The closest it ever seemed for Lewis Hamilton “losing it” was his complaining to “Bono” (not the U2 singer) about Verstappen’s tailgating while racing lap-after-lap on the wrong tires.

Who would win the dispute? The driver asking to come into the pits to change tyres or the Mercedes team reassuring him – hope against hope – that his obviously failing medium compounds would make it to the checked flag.

Back in 2015 under similar conditions, Hamilton came into the Monaco pits to change tires. He lost the race.

Not this time.

Somehow, someway Hamilton fought off Verstappen … even through their respective tires actually came in contract (it was indeed that close) during one of the last laps. In the end, Hamilton was the one accepting the Monaco Grand Prix award from Prince Albert II and his bride, Princess Charlene.

Considering that Mercedes devotes an estimated $300 million annually and employs 1,300 talented souls to assemble, maintain and steady improve two high-precision cars (e.g., Hamilton and Valteri Bottas of Finland), one can easily conclude that F1 is not a sport of the people.

But for Hamilton, it has not always been this way.

“Cool Runnings”

Even though he lives in tony Monaco, Hamilton directly relates to the Disney movie about Jamaica’s 1988 Olympics bobsled team.

Hamilton was the first black to drive on the 21-race Formula 1 circuit. He said his arrival triggered a similar “Cool Runnings” reaction that eventually ended with acceptance.

He was born into very modest circumstances in England, living in Stevenage, Hertfordshire just north of London. Very early, Lewis demonstrated his superb hand-eye coordination and started go-cart racing.

His father, Anthony, worked as many as four jobs to provide enough funds for Hamilton to pursue his hobby and his passion. His younger brother, Nicolas, was born with cerebral palsy and yet he exhibits no jealousy to his famous brother.

One reason is the two brothers are very close.

Almost DailyBrett has always been a huge fan of rags-to-riches stories. Lewis Hamilton is reportedly worth $285 million. And yet, it has not always been that way.

From a Cool Runnings start to an amazing Monaco on severely worn tyres, Lewis Hamilton has risen from humble beginnings to become without any doubt: The Coolest Cat on the Track, and the best Formula 1 driver in the world.

http://www.espn.com/f1/story/_/id/26825854/lewis-hamilton-flustered-monaco-grand-prix-radio-messages-full

http://www.espn.com/f1/story/_/id/26832734/the-story-hamilton-monaco-masterclass

https://www.formula1.com/en/drivers/lewis-hamilton.html

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZREYYxEcfx4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei4uWo5B_9U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZVMTuSsEX4

https://www.formula1.com/

https://www.palais.mc/en/princely-family/h-s-h-prince-albert-ii/biography-1-5.html

 

“A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.” – Ronald Reagan

There are no trigger warnings at the front door.

Arguably there are more aging hippies per square inch in Eugene, Oregon than any other town in America. Berkeley may have a free-range beef against this claim. So be it.

And yet, there is a framed “Reagan Country” 1980 campaign poster in the living room of Almost DailyBrett’s Eugene residence.

Sometimes an aging hippie or wanna-be hippie will be enjoying one of Oregon’s craft beers or a glass of one of the Willamette Valley’s now legendary – and expensive – Pinot Noirs right under the smiling portrait of The Gipper.

Maybe out of politeness, guests neither mention the image of America’s 40th president nor ask to be moved to another venue in the house. Are they just being polite or have they somehow, someway reached the acceptance stage of Reagan’s legacy?

Either stance is just fine with your author.

As Nancy once said about her husband: “Ronnie appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.”

Making no aspersions either for or against the present leader of the free world, Almost DailyBrett would bring back Ronnie from the grave in a nanosecond. Alas, only one reportedly has risen from the dead.

“The man who beat communism”

Some historical revisionists have debated with your author about the roles that Harry Truman, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II and maybe others played in ushering in the downfall of the Soviet Union and the end of Communism.

Indeed, they all contributed and deserve their respective shares of the credit.

The Reagan deniers are entitled to their opinions, but deep down we all know the truth: Reagan played the pivotal and primary role in ending the Communist menace and bringing down the ghastly Berlin Wall … therefore Reagan hangs proudly on your author’s living room wall.

“By defeating communism, Ronald Reagan ended one of history’s most violent centuries and opened the door … (that) democracy might become available to more of the people who wanted it.” – The Economist, June 12, 2004

“Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; he won the Cold War – not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.” – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s eulogy for Ronald Reagan, June 11, 2004

An entire wing of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum on the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin is dedicated to Ronald Reagan with his infamous, “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall” speech on continuous loop. The ich bin ein Berliners know the truth.

Walking freely and without fear underneath the Brandenburg Gate, your author appreciates the impact of these monumental words delivered a few feet away when the gate was closed, seemingly forever by the so-called Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR).

The Tax Cuts Worked

“There were two great triumphs, two things that I’m proudest of. One is the economic recovery, in which the people of America created – and filled – 19 million new jobs. The other is the recovery of our morale: America is respected again in the world, and looked to for leadership.” – Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address, Jan. 12, 1989

Some have tried to convince Almost DailyBrett that tax cuts and tax reform (Reagan did both) simply did not, will not, and never will work. Sorry but your author must respectfully disagree.

The 19 million new jobs created  during Reagan’s presidency is a peacetime record in the history of the United States. Inflation plunged from 13.5 percent in 1980 to 5.1 percent two years later. Interest rates dropped from 21.5 percent in 1980 to 10 percent five years later.

As a campaign press director/gubernatorial press secretary for then-California Attorney General/later Governor George Deukmejian, we prevailed in the closest gubernatorial election in the history of the Golden State during a deep recession in 1982. Four years later during the Reagan economic boom, we won by the largest landslide in California’s history.

Yes, Governor George Deukmejian did a great job as the Golden State’s chief executive. We were also helped immensely by the success of Ronald Reagan’s economic policies.

Reagan was not perfect; perfection as always is in short supply.

The Gipper summed up best in his farewell address to the nation:

“All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.”

Not bad, not bad at all, Mr. Poster Man on the living room wall.

http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/reagan-tear-down.htm

https://www.reaganfoundation.org/ronald-reagan/reagan-quotes-speeches/farewell-address-to-the-nation-2/

https://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/12/news/transcript-of-reagan-s-farewell-address-to-american-people.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/when-reagan-walked-into-the-room/

”I could say … that I ran a small grocery store on the corner (e.g., State of Arkansas), therefore I extrapolate that into the fact I can run Walmart. That`s not true.” – Ross Perot debating Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and President George H.W. Bush

Perot labeled Clinton’s 12-year public sector experience as the chief executive of the “Natural State” as “irrelevant.”

The famous 1992 debate exchange reminds Almost DailyBrett of today’s deep-state/elite media practice of automatically and terminally disqualifying anyone aspiring or even holding the presidency – including the present office holder – who does not have public sector experience.

Public sector über alles?

Some have suggested that seven-year South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg, 37, is more qualified to run the nation than billionaire entrepreneurs, who build, create breakthrough products, employ thousands and manage global business enterprises.

Let’s see, Mayor Pete’s South Bend has a $368 million city budget, 1,285 employees and 101,168 residents including thousands of Notre Damers who need their garbage picked up and their streets swept.

Okay …

In contrast, the $9.5 billion, The Trump Organization LLC, is the 48th largest privately held company in the world. Trump and his family manage 500 affiliated property development and marketing companies with 22,450 employees operating in 25 countries.

According to the New York Times, Trump’s business has been required to take losses and declare bankruptcy from time to time. Phil Knight in his book, Shoe Dog, recounted how Nike almost went under … nine times.

How’s Trump doing today? How’s Nike doing today?

And then there is Starbucks founder and chairman (political villain) Howard Schultz.

Sorry Howard … you can’t play this (presidential) game either … even though you created and turned Starbucks into the largest coffee roaster in the world. Let’s see … the company reports $24.7 billion in annual revenues, manages than 27,000 stores and hires 277,000 baristas et al. around the globe.

Kathleen Sebelius vs. Jeff Bezos For CIO

All kidding and snickering aside, the political class seemingly would rather hire as its CIO Kathleen Sebelius with her infamous crashing Obamacare website with its pathetic non-working calculator.

Conceivably the alternative would be private sector Amazon with its track record of successfully and accurately processing 1 million digital transactions per hour.

The millionaire Bernie and Elizabeth types rail daily against billionaires (i.e., Trump, Schultz, Knight, Bezos …) and their privately held/publicly traded corporations (i.e., Starbucks, Nike, Amazon), seemingly as the sources of all that is wrong in the world. The Massachusetts senator even talked about breaking up the most successful and useful of these companies.

If digital retail pioneer Amazon was forced to breakup, wouldn’t the company in an aw shucks moment, simply spin-off Amazon Web Services (AWS)? Considering Amazon’s marketing for AWS’ cloud services capability, don’t you suspect Jeff Bezos and company are already thinking about AWS as a separate publicly traded company?

How about the prospect of (NYSE: AWS)? Victory for the government? Victory for investors? Whattyathink Elizabeth?

Wasn’t there a movie actor/union president, who with the exception of a stint in the military, never spent a nanosecond in the public sector and became the governor of the largest state in the union, California?

How did that experiment turn out?

Not only was Ronald Reagan wildly popular in blue state California, he was one of our greatest presidents and the only one to ever hold a union card while serving as the nation’s chief executive.

Which Is More Important: Public or Private?

For Almost DailyBrett, your author served 14 years in the public sector (i.e., California press secretary and Central Washington University assistant professor). The same four-decade career also included 25 years in the private sector (i.e., LSI Logic Corporation, Semiconductor Industry Association, Edelman Public Relations, newspapers).

Which sector was more important in the development of your author’s institutional knowledge base?

Don’t know. Inclined to conclude that both are nice to have, and each is equally important.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1992-10-20-9204050015-story.html

https://money.cnn.com/2016/12/15/investing/trump-organization-48th-largest-private-company/

https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=344985

http://www.city-data.com/city/South-Bend-Indiana.html

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/13/politics/bernie-sanders-millionaire-book-sales-tax-returns/index.html

 

 

“Not only had @realDonaldTrump become a mass-media juggernaut, but Twitter had for the first time become a primary outlet for the views of a major American politician. With Trump’s election, the transformation was complete: The social network had become the new public square.” – Nicholas Carr, POLITICO

Without a shred of doubt, nothing on this planet drives the media crazier than Twitter use by one Donald John Trump.

Within the friendly confines of 280 characters coupled with the always-on powerful bully pulpit of the presidency, Trump can set the agenda and be a part of any breaking story regardless of subject.

Wait.

Under Agenda Setting Theory, the big masthead media (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post) supposedly establish the agenda about what grateful everyday Americans should be thinking about.

As they say in political circles the big mastheads have been, preempted.

The very dragon they are attempting to slay, is spewing counter-punching fire right back at them any time, all the time.

“Beware of the overnight tweet.” — CNBC NYSE reporter Bob Pisani

Most of the Trump Tweets are … provocative (outrageous?) and thus are newsworthy. The ensuing conversation is about Trump, always about Trump.

Does the sun ever set on Donald Trump’s Twitter account?

With the Müller Report destined to be a non-factor by the end of this year – let alone next year – the media/entertainment elites in Manhattan, within the confines of the Beltway and Hollywood are facing the prospect of a re-elected Twittering Trump.

Columbia Journalism Review worries about whether journalists are correcting all of Trump’s tweets and statements.

Will they eventually interrupt Trump during the State of Union, the same way MSNBC’s Brian Williams cut off Senator Lindsey Graham?

When it comes to always telling the truth, nobody does it better than Brian Williams.

Will the media at some point — kicking and screaming — be forced to stop pretending the no-further indictments/actions Müller Report is the death knell of a president they detest (putting it mildly)?

Even though they torched Joe Biden’s last days as a non-candidate, will they line up behind him if he somehow captures the Democratic nomination?

Whoever emerges as the Demo nominee, will be their standard bearer.

The Never-Ending, Always-On News Cycle

Campaigns are not happy places.

Familiarity always breeds more than contempt.

Sleep is a precious commodity, and there is never enough to go around.

There was a time when there was only one news cycle per day.

As Almost DailyBrett commented two years ago, White House “death watch” is not what it used to be. Translated: Reporters stationed in the White House briefing room while the president sleeps were Journalism’s answer to graveyard shift. No more.

Trump’s nocturnal tweets (does he ever sleep?) have changed the game. Just ask Wall Street.

Every campaign in the 2020 cycle will have to compete effectively in a digital-is-eternal atmosphere with a minimum of sleep. With digital social media – particularly Twitter – every campaign and every media outlet is an always-on, 24-7-365 wire service.

Trump tweeted (fill in the blank). Respond within the fewest nanoseconds possible.

Biden tweeted (fill in the blank). Democratic rivals answer within the fewest nanoseconds possible.

Bernie tweeted what? Man or Woman the Twitter barricades!

Almost DailyBrett remembers the days when wise pundits (oxymoron?) lamented about how policy debates were being reduced to 30-second bites.

How about 280-character tweets? Used to be 140 characters.

With more than 20+ would be Democratic nominees, how many pithy responses will immediately jump from their keyboards. More to the point how many mistakes, which can’t be recalled, will emerge from these Twitter accounts?

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” – Vince Lombardi

Even though early Baby Boomer Trump is 72-years-young, he seems to have the energy and stamina to keep the Twitter stream coming, even accelerating and intensifying the flow. There are no signs of fatigue.

Will the next president (or the same president) be the one who best utilizes the Twitter characters? Should social media be the penultimate factor in determining who will be the leader of the free world?

Let the Twitter debate commence.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/26/donald-trump-twitter-addiction-216530

https://www.cjr.org/covering_trump/twitter-media-trump.php

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/death-watch-aint-what-it-used-to-be/

It’s been 15 years – three presidential cycles – since the Democratic Party selected an old white privileged male as its standard bearer.

Seems like eons ago since patrician Senator John Kerry “reported for duty” at the 2004 quadrennial convention of the Democratic Party in Boston. His VP choice was another old white privileged guy, former Senator John Edwards.

Whatever happened to John Edwards?

As former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, joins Senator Bernie Sanders, 77, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg – the Killer B’s — as front runners to secure the party’s crown, will there be a sense of diversity regression if the culture of “toxic” white masculinity once again controls the party?

Will it be déjà vu all over again?

Consider that 44 of the first 45 presidents have been old white privileged males, some clean-shaven, some with mustaches, some with beards and one follicly impaired (e.g., Ike)

The April 19 edition of the New York Times brought this troubling spectre to the forefront when it openly questioned whether an old white privileged man could actually be the 2020 face of the Democratic Party.

Will the celebratory progressive trend toward minority and women candidates slam into a moral- high-ground brick wall, if the party ultimately succumbs and selects an old white privileged male nominee to run against the GOP’s old white privileged male president?

Considering that Barack Obama won the nomination in 2008 and 2012 (and the presidency as well) and Hillary Clinton captured the nod in 2016, would the party be stepping back in its fight for diversity if a white hombre – regardless of qualifications and electability – emerges from the primary/caucus gauntlet to mount the podium in July 2020 as the nominee in Milwaukee?

Almost DailyBrett wonders whether progressives would sit out the campaign, mount their own third-party candidate or simply hold their noses and stand behind the old white privileged male party nominee because the re-election of Donald Trump is simply unfathomable.

The large field of would-be presidents includes prominent women (i.e., Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand), minority candidates (i.e., Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro) and a worldly candidate who speaks seven languages (e.g., Mayor Pete Buttigieg).

“Circular Firing Squad”?

 “One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States is the kind of rigidity where we say, ‘Ah, I’m sorry, this is how it’s gonna be.’ And then we start sometimes creating what’s called a circular firing squad where you start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying from purity on the issues. And when that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens”  — former President Barack Obama

Does the openly progressive New York Times on its news and editorial pages (redundant?) fear the party is swaying away from its portfolio of women and minority candidates? Wonder if the shocking revelations of Biden smelling the hair and kissing the heads of multiple females of the species has anything to do with the unchangeable and undeniable fact … he is at his core, an old white privileged male?

Was he too rough with Anita Hill 28 years ago? Is it time — past time — for his nationally televised apology?

Guess it’s time for opposition research. Wonder what other “oppo” is in store for Messrs. Biden and Sanders in particular? The knives are out.

Would Biden as the reluctant party’s nominee have to avoid college campuses in the fall 2020 campaign because his toxic white masculinity would generate microagressions, necessitate trigger warnings, and the reinforce the need for safe spaces?

Would his nomination be seen as an institutional form of “racism” and “sexism?”

Let’s imagine that either Biden or Bernie secure the nomination. Would the victor be required to select a woman and/or minority (Kamala Harris represents a two-for) in order to partially placate Justice Democrats … if that is indeed possible?

There is one other issue … and Almost DailyBrett will tread lightly on this subject: What about old white privileged males? Your author is one of these poor saps.

Charges of sexism or racism do not apply to them. There is no old white privileged male equivalent of misogyny. Fire away with impunity any invective or slur that comes to mind.

Never in 21st Century history has so much vitriol been leveled against one group of people with so little individual consequences.

No one cares. No one feels sorry.

One thing is certain: This particular demographic time-and-time-again wipes the mud out of their collective eyes, and votes.

They are motivated. They are high-propensity. And they represented 34 percent of the electorate in 2016, casting 62 percent of their votes for Donald Trump and only 31 percent for Hillary Clinton … two-to-one … Game, Set and Match.

If Democrats are actually interested in beating another old white privileged male, Donald Trump, they may want to consider fighting fire with fire … or maybe not.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/us/politics/democrats-2020-white-male.html

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/new-york-times-says-white-maleness-may-be-a-2020-albatross

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/culture-of-toxic-masculinity/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/what-happened-to-the-exceptional-nation-that-twice-elected-barack-obama/

 

“This is the greatest generation any society has ever produced.” – Tom Brokaw

“To whom much is given, from him (or her) much is expected.” – Luke 12:48

Every day is a gift.

For my mother Marjorie, April 4, 2019 is day #36,500 … to be exact.

Please feel free to double-check the math: 365 days x 100 years = 36,500.

Even though a critical mass of our extended family celebrated her birthday during spring break (March 23), today marks 100 years since my mom came into the world.

For Almost DailyBrett it’s extremely difficult – if not impossible – to make a third-person singular assessment of the woman who provided the ultimate first-person singular experience: My own birth.

Therefore your author has to acknowledge right here and now: The following epistle is woefully biased, and there is no remedy in sight.

Let’s get to the point: Marjorie M. Brett is without doubt, a superb representative of the “Greatest Generation.”

Her father, Randolph Myers, lived to his 100th birthday and beyond. He was as sharp as a tack at the community celebration of his century birthday in 1989. Ditto for Mumsy. Longevity runs on the Myers side of the family … and follicly challenged dudes too.

She may have slowed a tad here and there, but that didn’t stop California DMV from renewing her driver’s license for another five years.

And what a century it has been. We are now blessed to join her as she embarks on her second 100 years.

An Amazing Century For The Ultimate Go-Getter

Que será, será; Whatever will be, will be; The future’s not ours to see; Que será, será; What will be, will be.”

Sorry Doris Day: Que será, será is NOT my mother’s motto … not even close.

Similar to her father, Marjorie Myers Brett, is a supreme doer and an impressive achiever.

As Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reportedly said: “Life must have purpose.” My mother’s life has purpose in spades.

It’s simply amazing to ponder what she witnessed, endured and celebrated during her incredible tenure on the earth from 1919 to 2019 … and counting.

Growing up as the daughter of a Western Pennsylvania lawyer, my mother witnessed the Great Depression, World War II, gave birth and raised three Baby Boomers; marveled as man walked on the moon, and now watches her AI vacuum cleaner “Rob” beautify her floors with more technology horsepower than NASA possessed when Neil Armstrong descended to the lunar landscape.

Without doubt, she did not approve of everything that transpired during the past century … she cared too much. Her laser-like focus does not permit nuances. She assesses white from black, good from bad, useful from irrelevant. She calls ’em as she sees ’em. She leaves diplomacy to others.

Her over-achieving worldly father did not have patience for those who wasted time. There was no teenage wasteland with “Pappy.”

The same is true with mother, one of the few liberated women of her time who earned a college degree, who taught classical piano to musicians, and who spoke confident French in the cafes on the Île Saint-Louis. There is no reverse gear with my mom’s transmission, let alone neutral. It’s petal to the metal, all the way.

One can argue that much was given to my mother, but at the same time much more was expected. She responded with an overachieving life, confronting and surmounting every challenge thrown her way to our fast-changing increasingly complex digital world.

Today’s widespread male parasite plague of doing nada, exhibiting zero pride and leaving it to women to take care of them, was not even remotely fathomable for any son of Marjorie M. Brett.

Even though the punitive word “privilege” raises the blood-pressure of your author, my mother provided me with winning biological lottery advantages (much is given), but she also was strict, demanding … yet understanding (much is expected).

It was sink or swim.

Your author would not be the person he is today without the caring, guidance, encouragement and love provided by my mother.

Mumsy will never admit to this statement, but it’s nonetheless true: The world is a better place because of the century-long contributions … both large and small … of one Marjorie M. Brett.

I am not worthy, but eternally thankful.

Love you, mom. Always have. Always will.

 

 

 

 

Governor Newsom Calls for Nation’s First Air Tax On California’s Wealthiest

Proceeds To Fund New Air Quality And Climate Change Programs

April 15 To Become A State Holiday 

SACRAMENTO – Following up on his proposed “digital dividend” levy on data usage, California Governor Gavin Newsom today called upon the state Legislature to approve the nation’s first surcharge on the consumption of air by the Golden State’s wealthiest households.

Privileged Californians with assets (i.e., homes, cars, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, savings accounts, furniture … ) exceeding $500,000 will be assessed an annual surcharge of 1 percent of their total gross wealth. The yearly progressive surcharge will escalate to 2 percent for those with more than $1 million in total assets, eventually capping at 10 percent for those with accumulated wealth exceeding $1 billion or more.

“California’s new Rarefied Air Tax (RAT) is initially projected to raise approximately $3 billion in additional revenues to enhance air quality, combat climate change, and to establish a complementary agency to the California Air Resources Board (CARB),” said Newsom.

“The Golden State is the recognized leader in the usage of progressive revenue schemes to extract and redistribute literally billions from California’s achievers by means of income, sales, property, gas, vehicle, water, corporate, payroll, liquor, and weed taxes and soon a surcharge for those who choose to consume O2.  If the wealthy wish to avoid the Rarefied Air Tax, they can simply opt out of oxygen usage,” Newsom said.

According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, California has fallen from the top to second in total taxation among states. New Jersey is now #1, California #2 and New York #3.

“We intend to restore our rightful place as the number one state in terms of progressive redistributive taxation,” said Newsom. “The appropriate annual total assets surcharge for O2  usage by those with wealth reaching and exceeding six-seven-eight figures is recognition of their moral obligation to pay their fair share for the rarefied California air they breathe and consume.”

To recognize and celebrate California’s nationwide leadership in taxation, Newsom signed a proclamation declaring that each April 15 (or following Monday if tax day falls on a weekend) as a paid public holiday for all Golden State public employees. Newsom urged the federal government and all other states to follow suit.

Fully anticipating constitutional challenges by mean-spirited, hateful, racist, sexist, homophobic and unpleasant non-profit tax foundations, Newsom called upon the state Department of Justice to prepare a vigorous defense against expected questions about the legality of RAT total asset surcharges for California’s wealthiest … those with assets exceeding $500,000 in riches.

California telegenic governor will hold a news conference in Room 1190 of the State Capitol today at 1 pm PDT to provide more details about the RAT tax. Tax-free air will be provided to all media attending the event.

Following the news conference, Governor Newsom will be available for photographs and to autograph full, medium and wallet-size glossy images of himself for adoring reporters and correspondents.

https://taxfoundation.org/individual-income-taxes-2019-state-business-tax-climate-index/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/golden-state-handcuffs/

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/california-goes-tax-wild-eyes-levies-on-everything-from-water-to-tires

 

 

“Viewed by some as a nation of square-jawed robots whose language sounds like something awful in the drains, whose cars outperform all others and whose football team seldom loses, the Germans seem unassailable.” – Xenophobe’s Guide to the Germans

How does Almost DailyBrett square the ingrained stereotype of the industrious unsmiling Germans with the idea of München with its famous umlaut being a romantic venue for newlyweds?

My beautiful Fraulein Jeanne — now lovely Frau Jeanne — was more than curious, if not downright skeptical — when she first heard your author’s suggestion about beginning our August 2015 honeymoon in München or how the Yanks spell it, Munich.

Besides the romance of summertime beer gardens, wine bars, outdoor markets, jaw-dropping churches, great shopping and Medieval cobble-stone streets, München is perfectly located in the geographical center of Europe.

Why is that important? Jeanne also wanted to visit artistic Florence, Italy for a week as part of our honeymoon. Kein Problem.

Germany is indeed das Land in der Mitte (or the country in the middle of Europe), and München is a great place to have a Wunderbare time in Germany.

Consider the difference between fun-loving Bavarians in the south, and the image of goose-stepping, monocle-sporting Prussians to the north.

Bavaria with its story-book fairy-tale towns (e.g., Rothenburg ob der Tauber), its snow-capped majestic Alps, Mad King Ludwig’s castles and traditional folk in lederhosen and dirndls is very familiar to most Americans.

There was also the lure of Neuschwanstein (Disneyphiles instinctively know this castle), which was a must see for our Honeymoon. Mad King Ludwig’s most famous of his four castles belongs on anyone’s Bucket List.

The Best European Point of Entry

There are very few words in the English language more frightening than … Heathrow.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

London Heathrow airport code (LHR) ranks up there with Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD) or New York’s Kennedy (JFK) as the most desultory, frustrating and disorganized airports in the world.

When you land at Heathrow, nine times out of 10 there is no jetway. Instead, you walk down the stairs to a waiting bus to take you across the tarmac to the terminal … and then up another flight of stairs to baggage reclaim, customs and the transit hall.

Travelers to Europe have alternatives for the continent’s initial point of entry: Frankfurt (FRA) or Paris (CDG) with their own individual horror stories.

Just as important, if one pulls out a map of Europe, München lies right smack dab in the middle.

Instead of flying to jammed Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle or Frankfurt, ultra-modern Munich (MUC) offers immediate air transfer or high-speed rail connections to all points on the continent, and quick and efficient subway ties to downtown München.

One can arrive at the MUC airport and literallybe  drinking beer at the Augustiner Keller (founded by the Augustinian monks in 1328) in downtown München one hour later. Trust Almost DailyBrett: It can be much Wurst, arriving and enduring other airports.

An American traveler may be inclined to make the obvious observation that English is spoken at London’s Heathrow or Gatwick. The argument: Why not start a honeymoon or any vacation in Europe at a venue that speaks your own language, English, the world’s Lingua Franca?

Many make this choice, and who can blame them? Almost DailyBrett, an admitted Germanophile with nearly 10 visits (lost count) to München for business and holiday, urges travelers to live a little and experience different cultures and languages. Even though English and German are related Germanic languages with about 25 percent of their combined vocabularies serving as cognates, Deutsch is totally different and distinct with its own (cringe) difficult grammar rules.

Keep in mind that English is compulsory in the German schools. With few exceptions they can speak your language, but can you speak any German? Knowing a few German words and even trying to speak their language — before asking them if they speak English — is more times than naught appreciated in München and other towns in Germany.

Will you make mistakes with the language? Natürlich.

For Jeanne and yours truly our honeymoon consisted of two languages and cultures: Bavarian dialect German (e.g., Grüss Gott instead of Guten Tag for the standard greeting) and Italian in Firenze.

We learned when it was time to ask for the check at a restaurant, it was die Rechnung bitte in Germany and il Konto prego in Italy.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with honeymooning in traditional tropical venues such as Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean.

However, if a loving newlywed couple is seeking a non-traditional venue to celebrate a marriage and to explore the best of storybook Europe, München is a great launching (and ending) point.

Almost DailyBrett note: Jeanne and your author are heading off for our fourth trip to Europe as a couple this summer including Paris and Salzburg. And our point of entry to the continent: München!

 

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