Category: PR Miracles


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

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

Is the best defense a good offense?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To The Drawing Board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.vw.com/

http://johannesleonardo.com/

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

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

Germany is not a chill place.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feminizing The Fatherland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wrong Tyres; The Right Driver

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

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

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

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

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

Not this time.

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

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

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

“Cool Runnings”

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

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

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

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

One reason is the two brothers are very close.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.formula1.com/

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

 

“Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you (ministers) — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.” – Catholic Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kennedy speaking to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, Sept. 12, 1960

Kennedy was the second of three Catholics to be nominated for the presidency, and the only one to be elected. Joe Biden was the one-and-only Catholic to be elected as vice president.

To its credit, the Democratic Party nominated all three Catholics for president: Al Smith (1928), JFK (1960) and John Kerry (2004).

That was then, this is now.

The difference in the electoral climate in 1960 compared to today is not only a political lifetime, it’s an eternity.

Kennedy assuaged through his words to the ministers in Houston and through his sincere behavior that he would never take direction from Rome. Instead he would to the best of his ability, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. … So help me, God.”

Based upon his enduring legacy and his ability to reach across party lines … similar to Ronald Reagan in the other political direction … Kennedy tempered the spoken and unspoken concern in many quarters about “Papists.”

Today as the Party of Kennedy launches its primary campaign for president, there are tangible signs that being a Catholic may actually be a negative … even a big time game changer.

Has Catholicism remained the same? How much has the Democratic Party changed?

The mere fact that Catholics supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton 50-46 percent in 2016 exit polls has not been overlooked by party brass. Keep in mind Hillary lost Protestants by a larger margin, 59-36 percent. She won in a landslide with agnostics/atheists, 67-25 percent.

Secularism über alles?

It’s one thing to preach tolerance and diversity; it’s another to politely disagree and coexist those who dare go against ingrained party orthodoxy (e.g., up-to-the-nanosecond-of-birth abortion … see Cuomo, Andrew).

And here comes the rub, the party abortion litmus test vs. the long-term teachings of the church. Pope Francis may be cool, but the party’s position on the Mother of All Issues has intensified.

Anti-Catholicism Raising Its Ugly Head … Again?

“I’m thinking of finding every one of these shitty kids and giving them a large piece of my mind.” – Recode editor Kara Swisher tweeting about the students at Covington (KY) Catholic High School

“When online mobs attack unknown kids, we’ve got a problem.” – Howard Kurtz, Fox News Media Buzz anchor

Almost DailyBrett does not attach much significance to anecdotes … except when they accumulate and become a discernible pattern.

When it comes to the revival of anti-Catholic bias/bigotry as a result of a litany (no religious pun intended) of anecdotes, every practicing and even non-practicing Catholic needs to take note.

The same is true with those of the Jewish persuasion, when so many Women’s March organizers openly refused to condemn Louis Farrakhan and his vile anti-Semitic views.

Whatyathink Kamala?

 “Since 1993, you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus, an all-male society composed primarily of Catholic men … Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?” – Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Kamala Harris, to Federal District Court nominee Brian Buescher

What should be done with these “all-male societies” of “Catholic men,” including one that has existed for a mere 136 years with 2 million members? Wonder if another Catholic charity, The St. Vincent de Paul Society, has the same view on Roe v. Wade?

And what was the instinctive political elite reaction to a group of chaperoned Catholic school boys (e.g., Covington Catholic High School), who visited Washington, D.C. and wore MAGA hats and calmly observed a Native American pounding a drum in their collective faces? They fired off their tweets first and asked questions of themselves later.

NBC Today Show reporter Savannah Guthrie demanded an apology of Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann (see photo above) for the mere act of living and breathing. He was accused of … smirking.

Death threats were made. Their school was closed. Must suck to be young, male and worst of all, Catholic in the eyes of the political intelligentsia?

And let’s not forget another Catholic male, now Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh. One of his favorite pass-times is coaching his daughter’s Catholic Youth Organization basketball team. Could he coach any longer once he was accused of high-school sexual misconduct, none of which was ever corroborated to this very day?

Justice Kavanaugh endured weeks of living hell, part of the reason is the simple fact that his faith collides with those advocate for abortion under any circumstances including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who happens to be also … Catholic.

Will there be even more anti-Catholic anecdotes in the run-up to 2020. Almost DailyBrett will take that bet.

Will it be necessary for a Democratic nominee to be both anti-Semitic on Israel and anti-Catholic on abortion in order to win over the secular crowd to secure the nomination?

Catholics Kerry, Biden and Cuomo are all vying to be the titular head of the party. Do any of them realistically have a chance in this hostile intra-party political climate?

Will the Democratic orthodoxy ex-communicate one or all three of these gents before they have the opportunity to compete to wear the golden ring and drink from the chalice as the Democratic nominee for President of the United States?

Don’t be surprised if all three are out of the race by the time the votes are counted in New Hampshire.

Almost DailyBrett note: Your author is a product of 12-years of Catholic School. Even though the personal halo has shifted downward from time-to-time, The Baltimore Catechism is still in the bloodstream.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16920600

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/dec/30/kamala-harris-mazie-hirono-target-brian-buescher-k/

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/01/kamala-harris-knights-of-columbus-religious-test/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2018/10/05/brett-kavanaughs-nomination-fight-is-dividing-his-dc-catholic-church/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/01/18/appeasing-farrakhan-then-appeasing-farrakhan-now/

https://usatodayhss.com/2018/is-brett-kavanaugh-right-that-he-can-no-longer-coach-girls-basketball

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/media-must-learn-covington-catholic-story/581035/

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/covington-students-journalists-mired-in-twitters-toxic-stew

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bobcook/2018/09/05/one-thing-we-know-about-brett-kavanaugh-hes-a-girls-basketball-coach/#1aff8d393946

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

For Nixon, 1968 was the charm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hillary Now More Than Ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following In Nixon’s Footsteps

Two years are a political lifetime.

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

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

Why bother?

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

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

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

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

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

Or maybe: “Hillary Now More Than Ever”?

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

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

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

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

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

“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 approach 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. The seven-year’s of research that went into History Professor Magnus Brechtken’s, “Albert Speer: Eine Deutsche Karriere” proves without any doubt that Speer was not, “the good Nazi.”

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/

 

 

 

 

“She kind of likes my sense of humor. Anybody who likes my sense of humor, I immediately like.” — Former President George W. Bush.

“Bush’s friendship with Obama, a confident, smart and elegant woman whose integrity is impeccable, gives him credence. Around her, he is humble, playful and comfortable. She allows him to be the lighthearted person he is, without judgment.” —   Chicago Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton

Almost DailyBrett has heard all of the rhetoric about championing diversity and accepting other points of view.

Sounds good … until it’s time for most people to practice what they preach.

Turn on any of your devices – from first screen digital television to second screen social media – and it won’t be long until the talking heads start name calling, literally screaming at each other.

Your author has written blogs – many which have not been read — and yet the respondents troll each other on Facebook about a headline and/or a photo.

Long-time friendships and relationships quickly come to an end. Many are blocked; others are outright unfriended. People who hold different points of view are inwardly or outwardly regarded as Unmensch.

Forget about passing candy (or throat lozenges) to any of them.

Some will claim all of this vitriol began in 2016. Almost DailyBrett begs to differ, pegging the beginning of the end of civility to the 1998 Clintonian impeachment process. Instead of attacks against Robert Mueller, the arrows and barbs were directed against Kenneth Starr.

And now some are talking about impeaching yet another president (i.e., Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton before) only with the Senate most likely failing to muster the two-third-votes required to convict.

What’s the point?

Instead, shouldn’t we all reflect upon the public examples exemplified by two prominent individuals – hailing from opposite parties — who not only continue to talk the talk, but walk the walk?

Wasn’t it Michelle Obama who said: “When they go low, we go high”?

And wasn’t George W. Bush one of the most consequential, and as a result one of most reviled presidents in history?

And yet starting with the peaceful transfer of power in fall 2008 through the present day, Michelle Obama and George W. Bush have demonstrated to the world how we should treat each other, regardless of competing philosophies.

Maybe we should be doing less competing, and more understanding of other points of view.

Back to Jefferson/Back to Lincoln

The world’s most successful Democracy features two competing political parties with proud histories.

The Democrats hail from the days of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. Besides the aforementioned, the party has provided America with great presidents including James K. Polk, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy.

The Republicans were born as an abolitionist party and fielded giants including Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

Almost DailyBrett has made this suggestion before and will make it again: Try reading two straight-forward books featuring a prominent Democrat and Republican.

For your author most recently, it was David Axelrod’s Believer and Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence. These two gents served as presidential campaign managers, electing and then re-electing Barack Obama and George W. Bush respectively to the White House.

Both lost parents to suicide. Both tell harrowing tales of state politics, Illinois and Texas. Both share candid insider looks into the strengths and all-too-human weaknesses of their bosses. Both provide solid commentary today on CNN and Fox News.

#Candygate?

Some may want to simply dismiss the Michelle Obama/George W. Bush relationship to protocol.

Time and time again, Michelle and Dubya sit next to each because protocol dictates that the spouse of #44 (Barack Obama) sits next to #43 (George W. Bush), who in turn is paired with Laura Bush.

The ever-present cameras caught Laura asking her hubby to pass a throat lozenge to Michelle during the Memorial Service for the late Senator John McCain. The mistaken candy-for-lozenge exchange/return smile instantly received a Twitter hashtag: #Candygate.

What should be the national normal (e.g., civility) has become the extraordinary (e.g., genuine Michelle/Dubya friendship) in today’s divisive, polarized society.

Does the national reaction to this unlikely friendship between a former First Lady and a former POTUS say more about them, or does it point to our own widespread lack of respect and decency for any view that conflicts with our own?

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/politics/a22979284/george-w-bush-michelle-obama-friendship-history/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/glanton/ct-met-dahleen-glanton-michelle-george-friendship-20180903-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/page/ct-perspec-page-mccain-funeral-michelle-obama-george-bush-donald-trump-0905-20180904-story.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/lets-all-pull-one-punch-this-week/

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/

“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

 

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