Category: PR Miracles


“Official statistics no longer countered this (Ossies) group — who were disproportionately young, clever, female and ambitious — as East Germans.” — The Economist’s “Thirty years after the Wall fell, ” November 2, 2019

“From adversity comes opportunity.” — Former Notre Dame Head Coach Lou Holtz

When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989, more than 1 million Ossies took advantage of their newfound freedom from Communism, immediately heading to West Germany and for the most part … thriving. More than one-quarter of East Germans aged 18-30 moved to the west, two-thirds of them … women.

They recognized there were two paths to go by, but in the long run, there was still time to change the road they were on … especially young, clever, ambitious females.

For those 16 million-plus souls adversely trapped for 28 years behind the borders of stultifying-oppressive-surveillance state East Germany, there finally was an opportunity to leave, begin a new life and build a lucrative career. Many took this new road to affluent Bavaria, Baden Württemberg, Hamburg … and never looked back.

Is moving to a more promising venue, the catalyst for success and building wealth?

Only one way to find out.

“I’m in Favor of Progress; It’s Change I Don’t Like” — Mark Twain

Ever meet Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer or Gloomy Gus?

Their cups are always half empty. They impress upon you what they can’t do rather then what they can do. Their little rain clouds follow them wherever they go … and in the most cases … they don’t go anywhere.

They settle for status quo mediocrity or worse. And soon it will be late … too late in their lives to make a change for the better.

They will choose neither path, and the road will soon be closed for good.

Almost DailyBrett was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The former steel town is a great place to be … from.

Fortunately your author’s family was afforded the opportunity to move to Southern California. For Almost DailyBrett, Sacramento, CA, Portland, OR, Pleasanton, CA Ellensburg, WA and now Eugene, OR followed.

With each move came a change of scenery, variables, superiors, colleagues, subordinates, issues to confront and problems to solve. There were always vexing adversities and intriguing opportunities, and most of all challenges to overcome.

In their coverage of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall earlier this month, most of the newsies focused on the disparity of those who reside and succeed in former West Germany, and those who remain mired in chronic poverty in former East Germany. For many, they could have moved to seek a better life, but for one reason or another … they didn’t.

Yes, there is income disparity even in a model European nation.

The story also needs to reflect the shift away from an agrarian economy, which is largely cosigned to the Stone Age. The following industrial revolution of Johnstown, PA is kaput. The world is now consumer dominated (e.g., 70 percent of the United States economy), digitized and service oriented.

Advantage women … particularly young, clever and ambitious women.

The service oriented consumer economy is right in their sweet spot. Public relations, marketing, advertising, event planning, local government, law, real estate, health care, hospitality … heck, even hardware stores … are dominated by the fairer gender or at a minimum … heading in that direction.

Can men, who once dominated the agrarian and industrial economies with their brute strength, ignorance and testosterone, succeed in this new service economy? Yes for some, but will they en masse? The evidence is not promising.

Not only have women passed men in terms of labor force participation, the same X-curve apply to women vs. men college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or above. And in the vast majority of cases, one must or want to move away from home to go to college. Universities and colleges should be a one-way ticket to independence, not back to mom and/or dad.

Graduates react after being recognized for their degree during the University of Wisconsin-Madison spring commencement ceremony ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

If professional women were a publicly traded stock compared to an equity for professional men, Almost DailyBrett would not hesitate to invest in the growth potential of the fairer gender. As your author has always noted, stocks are a forward rather than a lagging indicator … women are leading, men are behind and the gap is growing.

The wind is clearly in the sails of professional women, particularly those who are brave and smart enough to recognize there’s still time to change the road they are on.

And when their ship comes in they will be ready to board and set sail.

Alas way too many men will be killing time, playing video games at the airport.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/the-night-the-wall-came-tumbling-down/

“Billionaires should not exist.” — Millionaire U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont)

“Every billionaire is a policy failure.” — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York)

“Personal wealth is at best an unreliable signal of bad behavior or failing policies. Often the reverse is true.” — The Economist

Super talented and accomplished media superstar Oprah Winfrey is worth $3 billion.

Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan’s net worth is $1.9 billion.

Hip-hop star/investor Jay-Z just made into the three-comma club at $1,000,000,000.

Did government fail when Oprah, Michael and Jay-Z all succeeded and thrived, each because of their hard work, fortitude, perseverance and incredible talent?

Did anyone of them trade on their … privilege?

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember Oprah engaging in insider-trading.

Do you, Secretary Reich?

Ditto for Michael Jordan profiting from a monopoly unless Mr. Reich is pointing to Michael’s near-monopoly of talent against the competition he faced night-after-night in the NBA?

Is Jay-Z guilty of fraud, a political payoff or did he inherit his wealth?

Wonder if any of these “basically 5 ways” to accumulate a billion dollars in America apply to Nike founder/Philanthropist Phil Knight?

Have you read “Shoe Dog,” Professor Reich? Nike almost went under about nine times.

The former Labor Secretary’s “5 ways” Twitter screed is intellectually dishonest, and remarkably easy to discredit.

Alas, it is beneath the respect normally afforded to Robert Reich. Next time go high Mr. Reich instead of racing to the bottom. Talented and hard working people can earn their wealth on their own without resorting to nefarious deeds.

From a policy standpoint, we need to ask:

Should we punish Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Uncle Phil and so many others who worked their tushes off to legitimately make their fortunes with a punitive Elizabeth Warren 6 percent wealth tax (up from the original 3 percent proposal), and income tax rates reaching 90 percent or beyond?

Whattyathink Senators Sanders and Warren?

Class warfare — born out of jealousy — is not new.

The effective tax rate for achievers in the United Kingdom in the 1970s once reached 98 percent. If you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett, ask The Beatles … ask The Rolling Stones, who fled to France and recorded “Exile On Main Street.”

Can a near 100 percent confiscatory tax rate, which was thankfully eliminated in the UK by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, happen in the United States of America? Let’s hope not.

Celebrate Instead of Hate?

Almost DailyBrett remembers boys and girls practicing basketball, so they could be “Just Like Mike.”

Your author can imagine girls admiring and wanting to be the next Oprah.

You should check Ellen’s interview with Bill Gates. They discussed the works and deeds of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, donating a cumulative $50.1 billion to fight global childhood poverty and to improve public schools in our country.

According to Forbes, Gates is worth approximately $96.5 billion — give or take a shekel or two — making him the second wealthiest homo sapien on the planet. Virtually everyone in the first world is using Microsoft’s Windows Operating System, inspired and written by Gates. And his charitable foundation has contributed more than any other non-profit ever to make our world a better place (more than most governments).

His former company Microsoft is valued at $1.14 trillion, generates $96.5 billion in annual revenues, and employs 144,000 in well paying positions with full benefits and stock options. Taken together, the performance of Microsoft as a company and the generosity of the Gates Foundation, puts Bill’s wealth into perspective.

Can we have more “policy failures” just like Bill Gates, Phil Knight, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Jay-Z and so many more?

Instead of hating people who are wealthy, let’s celebrate and cheer for the achievers (e.g., Michael Jordan).

If we are concerned about billionaires, our policies should focus on stimulating competition (i.e., über-tough content streaming, video game, smart phone markets…), not limitless redistribution or punitive taxation.

If our political intent is to further divide, demonizing billionaires (as others have been publicly denigrated for ages) is a good way to engender one of the seven Deadly Sins: Envy.

If our goal is growth and prosperity, then let’s encourage Millennials and the generations, who will follow, to shoot for the stars. Let them become tomorrow’s Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Bill Gates and Uncle Phil.

And if they succeed financially, let’s celebrate them and at the same time root for competitors to keep them on their toes.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/09/billionaires-are-only-rarely-policy-failures

https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2019/11/07/have-billionaires-accumulated-their-wealth-illegitimately

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/who-we-are/general-information/foundation-factsheet

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/the-lonely-guy-standing-in-line-for-a-burger/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/taxing-uncle-phil-to-death/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/three-comma-club/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

During the course of your author’s life there have been four seminal events, each prompting the question: ‘Where were you when you heard … ?’

For Baby Boomer Almost DailyBrett, these were the four history changing news stories of a lifetime: JFK’s assassination (1963), Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon (1969), the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the September 11 attacks (2001).

Ironically, it was a fatal PR mistake 30 years ago that triggered the final inevitable fall of the Wall, and with it the ultimate demise of Soviet Union-style Communism.

East Germany’s Günter Schabowski was tasked with announcing the planned travel policy easing of the so-called German Democratic Republic’s (Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR). When he was asked if the changes applied immediately … his assumed “as far as I know” response without reading the policy paper …  was affirmative.

Unintentionally he ignited the storming of the DDR’s borders, and most of all the toppling of the Berlin Wall.

Today ein Stück der Mauer prominently sits beside the elbow of your author, accompanying the futile search for the appropriate English words to recapture the global significance of this epochal event.

Tomorrow will mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the monstrous Berlin Wall (1961-1989), leading directly to the reunification of Germany and the end of the Communist menace in Russia and Eastern Europe. The world is a safer place as result of overjoyed Ossies walking and driving with their sputtering Trabants  across East Germany’s borders to freedom, one of them being a woman by the name of … Angela Merkel.

She started the evening consuming a beer in a sauna east of the wall, and ended the evening drinking a celebratory brew from a bottle with a label she had never seen before on the west side of the wall. Today, she is the Chancellor of the reunified (Wiedervereinigung) Federal Republic of Germany.

Giving Proper Credit For The End Of Communism

“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” — President Ronald Reagan speaking before the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall

If you ever travel to Berlin to touch the remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall, be sure to take the time to check out The Checkpoint Charlie Museum. The visitor can stand without fear on the very spot on the Friedrichstrasse in which American and Soviet tanks went eyeball to eyeball with each other. A critical miscalculation could have triggered a nuclear World War III.

Former Wall Street Journal Berlin bureau chief Frederick Kempe’s “Berlin 1961, Kennedy, Khrushchev And The Most Dangerous Place On Earth” vividly recounts the tension of the superpower standoff. The museum also recounts these days, and the ingenious plots to escape East Germany and its hideous wall.

A separate wing of the museum is devoted to Reagan, his Tear Down This Wall speech on continuous loop, and his pivotal role in ending the Cold War.

And yet there is a debate to this day about who should take the lion’s share of the credit for putting together the plan, which led to the demise of the wall and the end of Communism.

The names in alphabetical order of Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl, Pope Paul II and Margaret Thatcher all played a role in this transformation, and each should take a bow.

For Almost DailyBrett and those who despise historical revisionism for purely political purposes, Ronald Reagan will always take center stage in the eyes of history. He rejected detente or merely accepting Communist domination from Berlin to Vladivostok. Instead his policy was simple: “We win, they lose.”

The USSR lost.

Another winner was Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1930-2017), who skillfully linked and achieved feared German reunification with the success of the European Union.  “German and European Unification are two sides of the same coin.” („Deutsche und europäische Einigung sind zwei Seiten einer Medaille.“)

Today, Germany along with France are the de-facto leaders of Europe … regardless of when Britain leaves the EU. Germany has acknowledged, addressed and atoned its dark past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), particularly the 12 horrid years of Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust.

“The thought that a great nation (Germany) that had run amok should repent its crimes to the world. What other country has ever done such as thing?” — The character “Ed” quoting himself in John le Carré’s Agent Running in the Field

And “Ed” speaking about yesterday leading to today:

“Germany was the cat’s whiskers. It’s citizens were simply the best Europeans ever. No other nation holds a candle to Germans, not when it comes to understanding what the European union is all about.”

Naturally, the point of emphasis is made by literary master John le Carré.

And it all started The Night The Wall Came Tumbling Down.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://www.forbes.com/profile/angela-merkel/#71bd54c022dd

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/cool-calm-and-collected-germany/

Welcome to America’s cul-de-sac: The Pacific Northwest.

There is no state in the nation’s contiguous states, which is located further away from a steady supply of stud football players, let alone media markets, than Oregon.

For the Oregon Ducks, geography could be an easy excuse. Instead, it is a challenge that must and is being surmounted.

Oregon has chosen to compete in terms of marketing, facilities, swagger and success.

Autzen Stadium is rocking on Saturdays, and yet there are some who cannot pronounce the name of the state correctly particularly those east of the Hudson and in bucolic Bristol, Connecticut. … It’s Or-ee-gun.

As a 30-year season ticket holder, Almost DailyBrett was rooting for the Ducks before it was cool.

Your author earned his bachelor’s degree in broadcasting journalism from USC and his master’s degree in communication from the University of Oregon. There is no game that tugs at the heart strings more than when the Ducks and Trojans come together as will be the case this Saturday at the LA Mausoleum.

The illustration of the GPS disparity (e.g., 858 miles) between Los Angeles, California and Eugene, Oregon cannot be minimized. Oregon is the home to 4.19 million souls. The Los Angeles area has 18.79 commuters.

Geography matters.

USC easily has greater access to more stud athletes within a 40-mile radius of its urban campus than Oregon has in a 400-mile radius of its college town setting. Historically, USC recruits and signs more decorated big men on high school campuses than Oregon.

What? Oregon is a 4.5 point favorite over USC in Los Angeles.

How can that be even remotely possible?

Oregon Chose To Compete

Can’t tell you how many times Oregon was confused in the 1990s with … the Beavers.

You can’t tell the difference between “The Jetsons” and “The Flintstones”?

The working pejorative by the lazy sports media was to simply lump the Ducks and Beavers together as … “The Oregon schools.”

Attempting to stay in the game with USC, UCLA, Stanford and Washington for a quarter or two was an accomplishment. If that was indeed the case, the next obvious question was … why bother?

Athletes in Oregon could not practice their game 24,7, 365 because of the state’s wet climate. The team would never prevail. Oregon would never win the conference crown. The Ducks would never go to the Rose Bowl. They would never play for the “Natty.” A Duck would never win the Heisman Trophy.

Whatever happened to all these modern-day Nostradamus,’ who uttered these ex-cathedra proclamations?

Since Almost DailyBrett first purchased his Oregon season tickets and made his initial donation to The Duck Athletic Fund in 1990, the Ducks have won six conference titles. They have played in Pasadena on New Year’s Day four times, winning two. They have competed in the “Natty” twice. And Oregon deity, Marcus Mariota, won the Heisman.

With each accomplishment, Oregon blew away each recruiting disincentive: Can’t work on your game, never will win, never play in a major bowl, never compete for the national championship, will never be in the conversation for the Heisman … let alone win the trophy.

Oregon Reign

It reigns in Oregon. It reigns big time.

Oregon is the ultimate overachiever, not just in football but men’s and women’s basketball and track and field as well.

What are the components of Oregon’s accomplishments?

Marketing: Oregon is forward-looking. Buy the stock. The school doesn’t concentrate on past tradition, but pivots off immediate success to project forward.  Oregon has identified its target audience (high school sophomore and junior studs) with fun football, cool uniforms, playing in ultra-loud Autzen Stadium on national television. The Ducks are cool, and everyone knows it (including those in Seattle and Corvallis). Maybe their images and likenesses of future Ducks will draw the attention of … Nike?

Facilities:  If you build it, will they come? Almost DailyBrett remembers the alumni tent in the gravel parking lot. That mental image was light years ago. Conservatively, Oregon has invested $15 million for the Moshofsky Center (indoor practice facility), $41 million for the John Jacqua (athletic academic support center), $68 million for the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex (football operations center) and $68 million for the expansion of Autzen Stadium.

Kudos for a huge assist from Oregon’s resident alum swoosh billionaire, Phil Knight.

Swagger: The Golden Era of Oregon football has returned. Former lineman Mario Cristobal has brought Alabama smash-mouth football with speed to the perceived soft Pac-12 conference. Cristobal’s energy is infectious. Every potential recruit coming to Eugene, leaves with photos of himself in Oregon football pads with the Nike logo prominently featured. Once again, Oregon is the hunted, not the hunter.

Success: As John Madden once said: “When you win, nobody can hurt you. When you lose, nobody can help you.” After the school’s best-ever results (46-7) during Chip Kelly’s tenure from 2009 – 2012, and recorded three straight conference titles, four BCS bowl games, Oregon fell back into the Pac. Coaching matters.

Oregon comes to the LA Coliseum this Saturday with the wind in its collective sails (5-0 in the Pac-12). The Ducks respect USC, but don’t fear the Trojans. As evidenced by the Washington and Wazzu games, the contest is expected to be close, real close.

One way or the other, Oregon will be competing for conference title on December 6.

Will our fine-feathered friends have a Rosey future? Expect the Ducks to compete like hell for Pasadena, because they can.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/the-conference-of-champions/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/rooting-for-oregon-before-it-was-cool/

 

“Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: ‘We the People.’”

“We did it. We weren’t just marking time, we made a difference. We made the (shining) city (on the hill) stronger – we made the city freer – and we left her in good hands.  All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.” — President Ronald Reagan Farewell Address, January 11, 1989

President Ronald Reagan was not a first-person singular leader: I, Me, Myself.

Even though he was completing one of the most successful presidencies in American history and was justifiably entitled to take a bow, he still for the most part gravitated toward first-person plural even in his farewell address: We, Us, Our.

These vital pronouns salute the team that makes it happen, the linemen who protect the quarterback, the pit crew changing the tires in less than three-seconds, the people who write the emails, send the letters and form the coalition that makes a politician and a movement successful.

Donald Trump is an über first person singular type of guy, and that is his greatest weakness. He could learn from Heisman Trophy Winner Marcus Mariota, Five-Time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, and most of all from Ronald Reagan.

Almost DailyBrett was privileged to devote two decades of his career, directly serving two first-person plural leaders: Former California Governor George Deukmejian and LSI Logic founder, chairman and chief executive officer Wilf Corrigan.

Did both of these overachievers have healthy opinions of themselves? Of course.

Did they have big egos based upon their proven records of self-made success? Naturally.

One was the most popular governor of California in the modern era; the other was a successful entrepreneur immigrant worth, $432 million.

But when push came to shove, it was about the people around them, the citizens and customers they served, the investors and their shares … we, us and our.

“I Have Returned”

Did you note MacArthur’s first-person singular is his most remembered quote, and his follow-up in first-person plural is forgotten?

Didn’t the collective strength of the U.S. Army and Navy facilitate MacArthur’s return to the Philippines?

MacArthur was later fired by President Harry S. Truman. Surprised?

Will Donald Trump be fired by the American people in 13 months time, despite a robust economy, no new military involvements in the Middle East (or elsewhere) and way too-far-to-the-socialist-left potential opponents? It can happen, but will it?

Under similar circumstances Reagan crushed Walter Mondale in 1984. Reagan won 49 states worth 525 electoral votes, capturing 58.8 percent of the vote. Mondale recorded his home state of Minnesota and DC for a total of 13 electoral votes, 40.6 percent of the vote.

Almost DailyBrett can state with impunity that incumbent presidents have decided advantages heading into re-election years (i.e., Obama, George W., Clinton, Reagan), but not certainty (i.e., Carter, H.W. Bush). Recent presidents with the tailwind of economic prosperity … “It’s the economy, stupid” … all were re-elected.

Your Enemies Will Always Be Your Enemies; Your Friends … ?

Having said that, Trump is his own worst enemy, and that is magnified by his first-person singular devotion on steroids.

Why couldn’t his own campaign quietly conduct opposition research when it comes to Hunter Biden being selected for the board of directors for Ukraine’s natural gas supplier – Burisma Holdings — while his father, Joe Biden, was vice president of the United States? This question is particularly magnified considering Hunter’s well-chronicled repeated problems with cocaine, and zero experience in energy.

For some reason, Trump decides that he … and only he … can conduct this oppo research directly with the leader of Ukraine … and as a result an impeachment proceeding was born. Will he join the ranks of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as impeached presidents, but not convicted in the Senate (if it goes that far)?

The larger question is whether he pulls defeat out of the jaws of victory when his friends (e.g., high propensity Republican fidelity) are still his friends? Will his personal embrace of first-person singular (I, Me, Myself) trigger mistake-after-mistake, and his friends stop being his … friends?

Maybe a little more Reaganesque first-person plural … we, us, our … and some good old fashioned humility would do the trick.

Don’t count on it with this president.

https://www.azquotes.com/quote/551270

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

Has the global image of Germany changed for the better?

Is the Feminization of the Fatherland, complete?

Has the nation’s brand been revitalized through softening?

And is Germany’s image stronger as a result?

Consider the remarkable optics of new Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer sitting with incoming European Union President Ursula von der Leyen and Kanzlerin Angela Merkel. The modern image of Deutschland above may indeed constitute the pinnacle of Germany’s 1945-2019 Public Relations Miracle (Öffentlichkeitsarbeirtswunder). 

These three Frauen hail from Germany’s moderate-conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) with its strong emphasis on free market capitalism and memberships in the European Union (EU) and NATO.

Compare the perception of these women, leading today’s Germany with three muscular populists in America, Britain and Russia with Messrs. Boris, Donald and Vladimir.

Which image inspires stability, confidence and security and which precipitates concern and worry?

Is Almost DailyBrett openly suggesting that a nation’s brand is benefited by simply putting women in charge?

Your author mentioned on more than one occasion that he is proud that his lifelong voting record is and will always be Clinton-free, both Bill and Hillary.

America’s Mother in Law Hillary will never be favorably compared with Germany’s “Mutti” (Angela Merkel).

Britain’s “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher certainly did not soften the U.K.’s brand in the 1970s/1980s, but she was the right woman at the right time.

Thatcher was not warm and fuzzy, and certainly recorded low scores on the “likeable” scale. The “likeable” question was posed with Hillary candidacies, and now with Elizabeth Warren. Drinking a beer on a poorly shot video probably will not solve this issue.

In contrast Angela Merkel in her portrayal as a solid reassuring leader, ran a re-election campaign based upon the concept of Germany safely in “Mutti’s” hands.

Does Image Softening Lead To Brand Weakening?

Some may be tempted to equate feminization and softening with brand weakness. Almost DailyBrett couldn’t disagree more.

Angela Merkel has learned and demonstrated her ability to parry the rhetorical thrusts of über competitive males, particularly Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and soon Brexiteer Boris Johnson. Far friendlier are her relations with France’s ambitious Emmanuel Macron, who is attempting to pull France even with Germany when it comes to the European Union’s governing duopoly.

Is there a nation on this planet that has placed its national defense of not just one talented woman, but two? Before leaving for her new post as president of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen served as Germany’s Verteidigungsministerin (defense minister). Her successor? The aforementioned CDU party leader and heir-apparent to Angela Merkel as Chancellor, Annegret Karrenbauer-Kramp.

The images of these two women reviewing a military honor guard are striking, coupled with the knowledge that Germany’s Sicherheit is as certain as ever.

As discussed by Almost DailyBrett, a nation can demonstrate “hard power” by the traditional means of its economy and military. Germany’s 4th largest GDP of $4.14 trillion and its greatly reduced military for obvious reasons, still matter.

Germany’s “soft power” represents the projection of a country’s culture, language and elements in demand by all countries (e.g., image, success, brand names). For Germany, these elements include its engineering prowess, four World Cup wins in Fussball, and legendary names such as Daimler Benz, BMW, Siemens and Bayer.

Can the Feminization of the Fatherland also be included in the elements of Germany’s soft power? There is zero doubt the presence of confident, measured, competent and talented women at the helm of its leadership represents a new way to approach the German brand and image.

What can other nations learn from Germany’s softening and strengthened global brand?

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

https://countryeconomy.com/gdp/germany

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/does-the-usa-need-its-own-soft-power-goethe-institut/

 

 

 

“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

 

 

 

 

 

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