Category: Out of the Box Thinking


“Been dazed and confused about walls for so long it’s not true
Wanted a border barrier, never bargained for you
Lots of people talk and few of them know
Soul of the Berlin Wall was created below” –
With Apologies to Robert Plant and Jimmy Page

There’s a whole lotta of confusion about walls.

Not just a brick in the wall, but the whole wall.

Many seem to equate the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall or barrier (if you wish) with the toppled Berlin Wall (1961-1989).

There are some who contend the proposed wall from Texas to California is “immoral.”

Does that mean they believed the Berlin Wall was “moral”?

Hope not.

Having twice visited Berlin and consumed oodles of history books and novels about the Cold War and the Berlin Wall, Almost DailyBrett may be able to throw some light on this subject, not a Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) floodlight.

The basic premise is that not all walls are created the same.

The Berlin Wall along with the western and southern borders of the German Democratic Republic was strictly intended to keep its citizens within the not-so-friendly confines of the Soviet satellite state.

For movie buffs, Sir Richard Burton (Alec Leamas) was shot at the base of the Berlin Wall in John le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.  Tom Hanks watched in terror from a subway train as brave souls were being mowed down at the wall in Bridge of Spies … they were trying to get out, not in.

The Berlin Wall and the entire elaborate border fencing system between West and East Germany was the only place on earth in which two nations’ border guards faced the same direction.

The Berlin Wall symbolized the Cold War division to between Freedom in the west and Communism in the east.

President John F. Kennedy delivered his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963. President Ronald Reagan called upon Soviet boss Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” 24 years later. The both spoke at approximately the same spot in front of the Brandenburg Gate with die Mauer in the background.

For Almost DailyBrett a piece of the DDR’s “Antifascistischer Schutzwall” sits next to the PC composing this hopefully helpful blog.

Most of all, when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989. There was a global celebration as the Cold War came to an end.

The Intended Purpose of Most Border Walls

In contrast to the Berlin Wall, the intended purpose of most barriers throughout the course of civilization is border security.

Starting in the 221 BC, China built the first pieces of the 5,000-mile (or even longer) Great Wall with “border controls” to keep out unpleasant neighbors.

Ditto for Roman emperor Hadrian’s Wall, designating for 300 years the northern border of the empire, in present day Britain.

Closer to the present time, Israel has been concerned about its existence since its birth in 1948. Starting in 2000, Israel built a wall/fencing along the “Green Line” separating the Jewish state and unfriendly neighbors.

Could this successful wall be a model for the United States’ proposed barrier between itself and Mexico?

What do the Great Wall, Hadrian’s Wall, Israel’s Wall and the planned American wall/barrier all have in common: They were/are all intended to protect citizens and provide security against illegal entry, particularly those with nefarious intents.

The America-Wall is not meant to keep citizens in, but to keep non-citizens and related contraband out.

To be quite frank, Almost DailyBrett is dazed and confused why so many so very intelligent people for whatever reason are making historically ill-informed comparisons between the Berlin Wall and the U.S.-Mexico border barrier.

Repeat: the former was to keep people in, the latter to keep people out.

Some have made the leap to suggest that since the Berlin Wall ultimately failed, therefore the U.S.-Mexico border wall will not prevail. The Berlin Wall was breached because East Germany collapsed under its own weight. In contrast, the United States is preparing for its 250th anniversary as an exceptional nation.

When the Berlin Wall came down, thousands were dancing, chiseling the wall, taking pieces of the despised wall as historical souvenirs.

If the U.S.-Mexico is ultimately constructed and properly enforced, Almost DailyBrett suspects that not everyone will celebrate in our divided country.

Nonetheless, your author is hopeful that everyone will some day at least comprehend the major differences between the Berlin Wall and the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/04/28/penning-his-25th-novel-at-86-years-young/

https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2017/09/20/build-trump-border-wall-learn-israel-first/678600001/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/brandenburg-gate-revisionist-history/

 

 

“Republicans and Democrats have come to view the other as threatening their way of life. They are increasingly unlikely to marry, work or socialize with each other.” — James Astill of The Economist

“Evidence abounds that Democrats and Republicans really do not like each other. Researchers have found that they avoid dating one another, desire not to live near one another and disapprove of the idea that their offspring would marry someone outside their party.” – Eitan Hersch, FiveThirtyEight

Could a Democrat with a clear sound mind, actually marry a Republican with a framed Ronald Reagan campaign poster on the living room wall?

And ditto for a Republican tying the knot with an admitted Hillary voting Democrat, particularly in these divisive times?

What would the in-laws think?

What about property values?

And think of the children being raised in split-registration homes?

Talk about a house divided.

Almost DailyBrett has noted that seemingly anything and everything of import around the world eventually is transformed into a heated discussion about one, Donald Joseph Trump.

Hold a funeral service for former President George H.W. Bush, and the resulting media commentary is less about the deceased #41, but instead more about the mere presence of a living, breathing #45 … even as he patiently sat in the first row of the funeral service in a House of God, and never uttered a word.

As America arguably faces the greatest division since immediately prior to the Civil War, the Red-State vs. Blue-State split has impacted the way we view each other.

Happily, the author of Almost DailyBrett has engaged in more than five years of marital bliss to my dear Democratic wife, Jeanne. We co-existed through two presidential elections and two mid-terms since we patriotically met each other on our one and only Match.com date on July 4, 2012.

There were no political fireworks at our first-ever Starbucks meeting.

Our respective politics did not stop us from falling love, living in sin and eventually marrying. Now, if one of us did not love felines (i.e., Kevin came with Percy; Jeanne came with Isaac) that would have been a deal breaker.

Believe it or not, there is more to life than politics.

Canceling Out Each Other’s Vote

I knew Mary was nuts a long time ago. But I loved her in spite of it, and probably because of it.” – Longtime Democratic Strategist James Carville

“I would not deny we were, and remain, off beat creatures.” – Longtime Republican Strategist Mary Matalin

Even though they may have political debates over dinner, James and Mary have demonstrated to the nation that mixed political marriages can actually survive, thrive and produce two daughters for a generation and counting,

Democrat-Liberal James Carville and Republican-Libertarian Mary Matalin have been married for 25 years … tying the proverbial knot on Thanksgiving Day, 1993.

Not bad, not bad at all when it comes to years in the Institution … The Institution of Marriage.

“I’d rather stay happily married than pick a fight with my wife over politics,” said Carville.

There is wisdom in this sentiment, even though it originated from an über Democrat.

Even though we can almost reach a crescendo of political passion, Jeanne and yours instinctively know when it’s time to take … a time out. Sometimes you need to appreciate that if a topic is not your circus, and likewise the results are not your monkeys.

Let’s get back to the pivotal question:

Should a staunch Democrat marry a committed Republican or vice versa?

And let’s have Almost DailyBrett offer an insight into this interrogative.

If party affiliation is a real breaking point about whether a couple pursues the blessed sacrament of Matrimony, then you obviously don’t love each other.

If politics do indeed Trump marriage, then it’s a good thing (as Martha would say) that a given couple is not tying the knot.

Single women have a high propensity for being Democrats, married women less so. Single and married men are more likely to be Republicans. Mixed political marriages are a distinct possibility, and they can indeed survive, thrive and endure.

Politics are increasingly contentious in this divided country, but they shouldn’t be that important.

Love should trump politics, and Donald Trump too.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/01/the-interesting-thing-that-happens-when-a-republican-marries-a-democrat/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.29fc54e20fc4

https://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/james-carville-mary-matalin-recall-finding-love-101333

https://www.dallasobserver.com/arts/james-carville-and-mary-matalin-will-show-us-how-right-and-left-can-get-along-9115438

https://www.pbs.org/video/one-one-mary-matalin-and-james-carville/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/04/not-my-circus-not-my-monkeys/

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-many-republicans-marry-democrats/

 

 

 

 

 

“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/

 

 

 

 

“Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect and also minister of armaments … had always struck me as one of the more decent Nazis … Later in the (Nürnberg) trial Speer would distinguish himself by being the only defendant to show remorse for his crimes.” – CBS Pulitzer Prize Correspondent William L. Shirer

The Russians wanted to simply string up all 22 Nazi defendants at Nürnberg.

In direct contrast, the Americans and Brits insisted on staging a legitimate trial (1945-1946) in which guilt must be proven, with the distinct possibility that not all defendants would receive the same verdict.

The Anglo Allies were guarding against the perception of “victor’s justice/vengeance,” and more importantly setting a precedent for all subsequent war crimes tribunals – even to the present day.

Was this a legal strategy, a public relations plan, or a combination of both?

The basic question posed for all Nazi defendants was, whether each of them was part of a vast conspiracy to wage aggressive war?

Ultimately, 12 Nazi warlords made the long walk to the gallows. A 13th dodged the noose, Luftwaffe boss Hermann Goering, by taking cyanide.

Albert Speer was convicted on two counts at Nürnberg:  Violations of the laws of war; and crimes against humanity, including the slaughter of the Jews.

And yet the tribunal sentenced him to 20 years in at Spandau Prison instead of the gallows pole.

Some refer to him as a “fraud.” Others label him as the “Nazi who said sorry.” Historian and writer Gitta Sereny repeatedly asked him for the truth; what did he know particularly when it came to slave labor under the worst conditions possible, and more to the point The Holocaust?

Did his deportment in court save him from the noose, and provide him with the opportunity to write two bestsellers while in prison and afterward: “Inside the Third Reich” (Speer’s memoirs) and “Spandau Diary” about his two decades behind bars?

Shirer described Speer as a “decent Nazi,” which sounds to Almost DailyBrett as the Mother of All Oxymorons.

Even as the global public revulsion against the Nazis grows and intensifies with time, the museum dedicated to the Nazi War Trials at the courthouse in Nürnberg segregates Speer from his Nazi defendant colleagues.

Movies about the end of the Third Reich (e.g., Die Untergang … The Downfall) and war trials (e.g., Nürnberg) both treat the memory of Albert Speer very well in comparison to his comrades.

Certainly he was not a saint … no Nazi can even come close to that characterization — but was he a monster?

The Most Important Public Relations of All: Personal PR

“After this trial, the German people will despise and condemn Hitler as the proven author of its misfortune. But the world will learn from these happenings not only to hate dictatorship as a form of government, but to fear it.” – Albert Speer, Final Statement at Nürnberg

What is your perception? What is your brand? What is your reputation?

Almost DailyBrett has always contended that Personal Public Relations is by far the most important and vital.

Speer took responsibility at Nürnberg. Speer showed remorse. Did he tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

Did he separate himself from his fellow defendants by not trying to denigrate the proceedings? Did he piously state he was only following orders?

Was Speer simply trying to save his neck? Did he exhibit real contrition and concern about the future? Both?

Albert Speer was a Nazi. He was close to Hitler. He was the Third Reich’s architect and armaments minister, using slave labor.

Game, set and match?

Consider that Speer was well-educated at Heidelberg. He was an accomplished architect. He was a renowned writer. He was good-looking with a calm personality, not a raving madman.

He defied Hitler’s “Scorched Earth” directive at the end of the war to destroy Germany’s ability to serve its people with the most basic provisions. Reportedly, he flew to the Berlin Bunker to tell Hitler, he had not followed his directive.

He walked out of the Bunker alive.

Speer claimed to have tried to kill Hitler as the Russians were moving ever closer to Berlin.

He was known for his evil friend (e.g., Hitler),  and also for his cutthroat enemies (e.g., Himmler and Goering).

The Verdict

“Twenty years. Well … that’s fair enough. They couldn’t have given me a lighter sentence, considering the facts, and I can’t complain. I said the sentences must be severe, and I admitted my share of the guilt, so it would be ridiculous if I complained about the punishment. — Speer After The Judgment at Nürnberg

After name after name was called by the judges with a corresponding sentence of death by hanging, Speer was given 20 years. He served the entire sentence at Spandau Prison in Berlin, tending to the gardens, taking long walks and secretly working on his memoirs.

History has already rendered a harsh judgment on Speer, but not as scathing as it could be.

Speer could have hanged, but he lived a full life, writing two best-selling books until he finally succumbed in 1981, 35 years after the conclusion of the Nürnberg Trials and subsequent executions.

Personal public relations could have saved even a Nazi, Albert Speer, from the hangman’s noose.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp1RXmM1-60

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB7wVl09c2c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyHWpubyv4I

http://www.go2war2.nl/artikel/4573/Final-statement-Albert-Speer.htm

https://www.famous-trials.com/nuremberg/1935-speercross

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvbaW6kG1Ow

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-candor-and-lies-of-nazi-officer-albert-speer-324737/

 

 

 

 

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

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

REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi

Consider the following:

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

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

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

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

Why Elon, why?

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

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

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

Does Elon Need His Own Mad Dog Mattis?

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

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

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

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

Why Kimbal, why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Static photo,
Colour: electric green

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are Californicators going extinct?

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

Driving Housing Prices; Compounding Traffic; Polluting Campgrounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doesn’t It Rain in Oregon?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Robert Langdon Driving A Tesla?

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

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

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

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

Expansive windshield?

Silent electric engine?

Linear acceleration seemed to make every speed feel nearly identical?

Browsing the Internet?

Massive dashboard computer display?

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

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

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

Or is the blatant Tesla plug just a coincidence?

Is Product Placement Ever Wrong?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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/

Oregon’s Mary Jane dispensaries are seemingly ubiquitous … They’re everywhere too.

Almost DailyBrett frequently wonders out loud how even über-liberal Eugene can support its preponderance of yoga studios and tattoo parlors.

Keep in mind that yoga mats and ink tats have nothing on Mary Jane.

What happens when a popular product, which was once Verboten and is now decriminalized (read: legal), loses its naughtiness and more than a tad of its hipness (e.g., demand side)?

And at the same time, what happens with the literal explosion of Mary Jane shops, sometimes two-or-more on the same street (e.g., supply side)?

Oregon is not Colorado.

Realtors will tell you that when the supply of houses goes up, the prices at best will stay flat or more likely, they will plunge (e.g., 2005-2010).

And when the supply diminishes and the number of buyers goes north, the prices most likely will go through the roof … no pun intended (e.g., the present).

Is the Mary Jane market a buyers’ market or a sellers’ market? Without a doubt: A buyers’ market.

Reportedly, the growing of Mary Jane in Oregon is three times the amount that legally can be sold.

According to the Bend Bulletin, there is more than 1 million pounds of Mary Jane in the supply chain.

Which brings us to the obvious supply chain question?

How long will it take for the weakest of all the Mary Jane shops (e.g., Economic Darwinism) to start going under?

Will they survive the calendar year? How many will remain? How many will enter the market?

Another question: How many prepared a business plan – yes, a business plan written by an MBA — before taking the plunge into the seven-point-leaf market?

Economies of Scale?

“No Industrialized Weed in the Neighborhood.” – Flatbed Bumper Sticker

Mary Jane may be the Wunder “medicine,” but the Laws of Economics still have this nasty habit of prevailing.

The average gram sale of Mary Jane ($4) is now less than a glass of wine ($8).

Does this price reduction mean that not only are the plethora of Mary Jane shops competing against each other (obvious result when the barriers-to-market-entry are so low), but will they also start cannibalizing the cannabis trade?

How many and who will prevail in an obviously overly saturated market?

Not that many, and those who can, benefit from economies of scale through sheer volume selling. Who will be the Philip Morris of the Oregon Mary Jane market?

Just as some low-barrier-to-market cigarette companies have still thrived by selling in volume even in the face of 400,000 of their customers dying each year, the same demands are placed on Mary Jane shops.

And when it comes to legal intoxicants, Oregon offers easy alternatives in the form of some of the world’s best microbrews – pales, ambers, IPAs, porters, stouts – from Deschutes, Full Sail, Ninkasi, Portland Brewing, Widmer and others.

Each of these brewers has also branched out into pubs, pairing finger-licking food with their own beers.

Did someone mention wine? Oregon has more than its fair share of wine bars and trendy restaurants.

Oregon’s temperate weather and terroirs are conducive to producing some of the best and yummy Pinot Noirs and Pinot Gris from the likes of, A to Z Wineworks, Adelsheim, Duck Pond, Firesteed, King Estate, Knudsen Erath, Rex Hill, Sokol Blosser, Sweet Cheeks, Sylvan Ridge, Willamette Vineyards, Youngberg Hill, and many, many others.

What is the lesson from this Almost DailyBrett epistle, and others that have been written on this subject?

Coolness is fleeting. Economics matter. Competition is inevitable. The Laws of Supply and Demand prevail.

In Oregon’s case, there are oodles and oodles of Mary Jane shops. Three-of-its-four neighboring states (i.e., Washington, Nevada, California) to the north, east and south have legalized cannabis. There is no Mary Jane Tourism to Oregon. That ship has sailed.

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you just may find, you get more than you need.

https://www.leafbuyer.com/blog/oregon-cannabis-market-in-trouble

https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-recreational-cannabis-supply-demand/

http://www.wweek.com/news/2018/04/18/oregon-grew-more-cannabis-than-customers-can-smoke-now-shops-and-farmers-are-left-with-mountains-of-unwanted-bud/

https://www.businessinsider.com/legal-marijuana-states-2018-1

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/nasdaq-weed/

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