Category: Out of the Box Thinking


“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.

Instead, 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 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/

“The Republicans have successfully persuaded much of the public they are the party of Joe Six Pack and Democrats are the party of Jessica Yoga Mat.” — Historian Mark Lilla in his book, “The Once and Future Liberal.”

All was quiet on the Electoral College front six years ago.

Barack Obama waxed Mitt Romney 332-206 in the Electoral College, easily winning a second term as the 44th President of the United States.

In particular Obama was victorious in critical swing states: Florida, 29 electoral voters, Iowa, 6; Michigan, 16; Ohio, 18, Pennsylvania, 20 and Wisconsin, 10.

Four years later Hillary lost all of these swing states: Florida, 29, Iowa, 6, Michigan, 16, Ohio, 18, Pennsylvania, 20 and Wisconsin, 10.

Was the problem four years later, the Electoral College or the message/candidate/campaign?

In 2012, Obama amassed 332 electoral voters. Four years later, Hillary garnered only 232 electoral voters, a delta of 100 electoral votes.

In 2012, Mitt Romney recorded only 206 electoral votes. Four years later, Donald Trump won 306 electoral votes, yep a differential of 100 electoral votes.

Once again, was the problem four years later, the Electoral College or the message/candidate/campaign?

Three of these critical swing states – Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin — were center pieces of the once-impregnable Midwest “Blue Wall”:

Alas, Hillary never stepped foot in Wisconsin during the June-November general election season.

Is the ultimate problem, the Electoral College or Electoral College user error by Hillary?

To The Electoral College Barricades!

“If you look at the map of the United States, there’s all that red in the middle where Trump won, I win the coast. … I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, ‘Make America Great Again,’ was looking backwards.” – Hillary Clinton, India Today Conclave

Never could understand the “political strategy” associated with arrogantly dismissing literally millions of people – “The Basket of Deplorables” – as the red in the middle or the fly-over states. Maybe a little more TLC for these people could have made a difference, a big difference?

Almost DailyBrett has already lost track of how many post-2016 complaints he has heard about the Electoral College. Likewise your author has endured an earful, championing the simple majority vote to determine the next occupant of the White House.

Before one goes any further into the debate, there is the lingering question of the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1804). The amendment codified the Electoral College: Two senators per state and the total number of House members per state based upon population – add them together – win the state and electors come along for the ride. The first to 270+ electors becomes the president-elect.

And for those who are blue – oh so blue – about the Electoral College, how difficult is it to eliminate the 12th Amendment to the Constitution?

Let’s see to amend the constitution – only 27 times to date – you need two-third votes in both houses of Congress followed by ratification by at least 38 states. Good luck.

Or there is the possibility of a Constitutional Convention proposed by two-thirds of the 50 state Legislatures. To date, precisely zero Constitutional Amendments have made it through this process. Forget it.

Just for conversation, the Electoral College requires candidates to devote an inordinate amount of resources to the swing states, the competitive jurisdictions that are persuadable in order to win the election.

If the 12th Amendment is overturned – just as the 19th Amendment (prohibition) was repealed by the 21st Amendment (amber ale please) – the emphasis on the swing states would be replaced by campaigns targeting the big states.

Candidates and the media pools would be flying over Iowa (6 electoral) votes and visiting California (won by Hillary), Texas (won by The Donald), New York (won by Hillary), and Florida (won by The Donald).

Does that mean the Democrats would win each-and-every time? Consider that Trump won seven or the 10 largest states by population in 2016. Hillary won the total popular vote by 1.9 million. She edged The Donald in California by 3.45 million votes.

Would changing the rules produce a different winner?

Maybe, maybe not.

First, there is the little matter of changing the pesky 12th Amendment.

Too bad the 12th Amendment didn’t outlaw IPAs. Whattaya think, Joe Six Pack?

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/07/12/americas-electoral-system-gives-the-republicans-advantages-over-democrats

https://www.economist.com/special-report/2018/07/12/donald-trump-is-causing-change-in-the-democratic-party-too

http://www.businessinsider.com/hillary-clinton-says-trump-won-backwards-states-in-2016-2018-3

https://www.politico.com/mapdata-2016/2016-election/results/map/president/

http://time.com/4486502/hillary-clinton-basket-of-deplorables-transcript/

https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/

https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution

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

 

Five years ago Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPE) was kicked off the Dow Jones Industrial Average, replaced by Visa.

Three years ago, AT&T (a.k.a., The Phone Company) was ingloriously removed from the index of 30 share prices, substituted by Apple.

And just last month, General Electric (NYSE: GE) was unceremoniously ushered off the exchange for Walgreen Boots.

Will Itty Bitty Machines (NYSE: IBM) be the next Dinosaur Tech heading for Dow Jones extinction?

Flintstones vs Jetsons

Under legendary CEO Jack Welch, GE was the most valuable (market capitalization) American company in 2000. The company was one of the founding companies of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896. General Electric was a consistent standard on the exchange since 1907, 111 years.

What have you done for us lately, Fred and Wilma Flintstone? GE was replaced on the Dow Jones two weeks ago by a drug store company? How embarrassing.

Almost DailyBrett earlier wrote about companies that are absolutely rocking (i.e.,  Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Google, Salesforce.com), metaphorically packing stadiums as opposed to those reduced to playing “greatest hits” at county fairs and desert casinos (i.e., Intel, Cisco, Dell).

These latter companies were/are directly tied to the mature PC market and thus became fairly valued with limited prospects for investor growth unless and until they credibly changed their story with compelling new information (e.g., Apple from Amelio to Jobs2 to Cook) & (e.g., Microsoft from Gates to Ballmer to Nadella).

Apple was on the precipice of bankruptcy in 1997; now the company is the world’s most valuable at $912 billion. The Wunder corporation may be first to ever to achieve a $1 trillion market cap (share price x the number of shares).

Microsoft has cleverly reinvented itself as the market leader in the cloud, even though the PC software company was late to the party. Macht nichts. MSFT has a $762 billion market cap.

Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix and Salesforce.com constitute the 21st Century version of the Jetsons.

Conversely, AT&T, GE, Hewlett-Packard and IBM are the Flintstones.

What Are Their Winning Narratives?

Having worked in corporate Silicon Valley public relations for more than a decade, Almost DailyBrett understands the virtue of championing a winning narrative.

What is your company’s raison d’etre?

How does it make the legal tender?

How is the company positioned in the marketplace against ferocious competitors?

What is its competitive advantage?

What is its legacy of results?

What are the prospects for reasonable and achievable expectations for shareholder joy?

For the record, Almost DailyBrett owns shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM).

Both companies have delivered. Both are leaders in their respective fields. Most of all, your author understands their business strategies – lead in consumer innovation and services; provide selected software via the cloud to business customers).

Investing or Gambling?

When you understand how and why a company makes money then markets are investing, not gambling.

What is the winning narrative for GE? The company is restructuring yet again. Give it up J.C. Penney. Forget it, GE.

Tell me more about the business strategy for AT&T. How will it beat Verizon? Your author doesn’t know either.

Your author loves his Lenovo Ideapad. Who commercialized the PC? IBM in 1981. Reagan was president. “Watson,” can you help?

HPites love the 1937 story of HP founders William Hewlett and David Packard and the Palo Alto garage.

If the two gents could see their creation in the post-Carly Fiorina era, they would most likely would be turning over in their respective graves.

When contemplating these four Dinosaur Techs – AT&T, GE, HP, IBM — in a Jurassic Park era, the hardest questions are also the most basic: How do these companies make money? What product defines their respective businesses?

In stunning contrast, Apple is the #1 company in the world, defined by game changing innovation (e.g., iPhone X) and services (e.g., Apple Music).

Amazon is the #1 digital-retailer in the world with 100 million Prime memberships.

Facebook is the world champion social media company with 2.19 billion subscribers.

Google is the #1 search engine and developed the smart phone Android OS.

Netflix is the #1 digital-streaming-video company (at least for now) with 125 million subscribers.

Salesforce.com pioneered SaaS (Software as a Service) and is a leading-business-software-via-the-cloud provider.

Quick: Can you name a signature product/service directly associated with AT&T, GE, HP or IBM?

Being a jack of all trades, master of none leaves investors will absolutely … nothing.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/19/walgreens-replacing-ge-on-the-dow.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/what-happens-when-the-music-stops/

 

 

%d bloggers like this: