Category: PR Train Wrecks


Whatever happened to Mr. Magnum, P.I.?

Whatever happened to“The Fonz?”

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember learning about predatory reverse mortgages on “Happy Days.”

Using celebrities in advertisements has been de rigueur since the Earth cooled.

Some of us remember O.J. slicing and dicing his way through airports on behalf of Hertz?

There is element of sadness when you learn that once-well-known and admired actors and entertainers are now lending what is left of their reputation and fame to extol … reverse mortgages to susceptible elderly people with life-preserver nest eggs.

Usually the “Has it come to this” questions apply to one-time headliners (i.e., REO Speedwagon, Grand Funk Railroad, Moody Blues, ZZ Top) being reduced to playing desert casinos or county fairs.

Guess, they can get out there and play “Sharp Dressed Man” just one more time.

From Magnum, P.I. to AAG

“I’ve done my homework. And I know how dedicated AAG is to helping retirees in a caring, ethical way. I trust them. I think you can too.” – Selleck reading the teleprompter during American Advisors Group’s (AAG) two-minute spot

“These companies (AAG, $400,000 fine, Reverse Mortgage Solutions, $325,000 fine, Aegean Financial $65,000) tricked consumers into believing they could not lose their homes with a reverse mortgage All mortgage brokers and lenders need to abide by federal advertising disclosure requirements in promoting their products.” — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray.

Hey Tom, did your “homework” include the 2016 $400,000 fine by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) against caring and ethical, AAG?

According to the bureau, AAG “tricked” seniors into thinking they could never default on a reverse mortgage loan. The truth is seniors still must pay their property taxes, hold insurance on the property and maintain their residences. These loans are NOT zero brainers.

Do you still “trust” AAG, Tom? AAG has been fined for “tricking” seniors, and the ads — starring little ole you — are still running.

Do you care?

Almost DailyBrett has natural admiration/affinity for Selleck based upon the fact he is obviously talented, served as a Navy Seal, and went to the University of Southern California … May The Horse Be With You.

This blog post is one of sadness. Everyone has to make a living. We trade upon what we do well and in many cases, who knows us. We also have a precious personal reputation to safeguard and protect.

Once your good name is gone, it’s gone. And that’s the issue here.

As a public relations counselor, your author would have asked Tom Selleck:

‘Has it come to this, Tom?’ Really, Tom?

‘There is no better way at this point in your successful career to make a buck? Does the indisputable fact that AAG was fined $400,000 for deceptive advertising mean anything to you? Do you really want to associate your good name with shameless false advertising?’

“Fonzie,” What Happened?

Henry Winkler, you were television’s answer to James Dean.

There you were, Mr. Ultra-Cool in your black bomber jacket and white t-shirt on Happy Days.

And here you are today in a standard light-blue colored shirt, a few belt sizes larger, pitching reverse mortgages for One Reverse Mortgage.

Seems like you and Tom Selleck caught the same dollar-driven disease.

Guess, coolness doesn’t matter anymore.

For the record, One Reverse Mortgage has not been fined by the CFPB. Does that really matter when it comes to Winkler’s image and reputation? Brands are indeed valuable.

Almost DailyBrett, who likewise is putting a few miles on the odometer (there is still plenty of gas in the tank) was shocked when he first saw Winkler in these reverse mortgage commercials. Getting old is a bummer.

This blog is already on the record about time shares, annuities and reverse mortgages. Each is a multi-billion business. The winners without a doubt  in each case are the salesmen/saleswomen, and most of all … the pitchmen to vulnerable seniors (e.g., Selleck and Winkler).

Former reverse mortgage advertising star, former Senator Fred Thompson, couldn’t line his casket with his AAG money.

Messrs. Selleck and Winkler, you won’t be able to take your earnings to the after life either.

When your respective days are done, future generations will be left to ponder about your diminished reputations, if they think about you at all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvAui0vUT88

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1eIIQ6s_u0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhhGparW6KQ

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/your-money/reverse-mortgage-lenders-fined-for-ads-that-tricked-older-borrowers.html

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-takes-action-against-reverse-mortgage-companies-deceptive-advertising/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/business/would-you-trust-tom-selleck-with-your-life-savings.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/your-money/reverse-mortgage-lenders-fined-for-ads-that-tricked-older-borrowers.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/hasta-la-vista-to-timeshares-annuities-and-reverse-mortgages/

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Flintstones vs Jetsons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Are Their Winning Narratives?

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

What is your company’s raison d’etre?

How does it make the legal tender?

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

What is its competitive advantage?

What is its legacy of results?

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

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

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

Investing or Gambling?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Almost DailyBrett offered commentary two years ago against the unwanted and unproductive practice of unloading unrestrained political diatribes upon friends and family via Facebook or some other digital venue.

What were the results of your author’s admonition?

Nothing, absolutely nothing … if anything the practice is worse, much worse.

The digital fusillades with attachments, JPEGs, emojis, Bitmojis and animated GIFs, aimed at friends and family, are actually increasing with intensity with each passing Trump-era outrage.

What happens when you as the target recipient grow weary of those, who eschew any restraint and let the politics rip … on a daily basis or even multiple times a day?

Worse, what is your reaction when your so-called friend drops political content on your Facebook wall and challenges you to a philosophical duel with no end, until you relent … and allow him or her to triumphantly have the last word?

Almost DailyBrett must ask: With “Friends” like these, who needs enemies?

Whatever Happened to Friends and Family?

Maybe your author is a tad naïve.

Always thought of Facebook as a digital venue to post short stories and JPEGs about a wonderful spouse, visits with friends and families, sharing photos and experiences about lands nine time zones away or closer and yes … cute animal photos.

Almost DailyBrett has found the greatest number of “likes,” “loves,” and “howls of laughter” emanate from family/friend/life/joy stories and photos. Even when your author succumbs to the temptation to offer commentary on anything even remotely political, the amount of traffic on the Facebook post goes through the floor.

There’s a lesson here.

And when it comes to outrage — there are so many-over-the top, out-of-control invectives out there — why do I have to add my two shekels and descend into the rhetorical muck and primordial ooze?

Even though the following pie chart, which is a tad outdated, unscientific and used by Almost DailyBrett  before, is there any doubt that political bombs aimed at family and friends changes no one’s opinion and results in everyone’s blood pressure going through the roof?

What should one do with a “friend” who violates this cardinal rule … way too many to count?

Do you really want to maintain your “friendship” with someone, who doesn’t give a rat’s derriere about how you feel? The answer may be too simply “unfriend” your “friend.”

And if you do not want to end the “friendship,” but are done with their incessant and undisciplined litany of political bloviations and pontifications, what course of action can you pursue?

The Simple Beauty of the “Unfollow”

There are more than a few who are paranoid enough to call you out, if you made the decision to “unfriend.” They will demand that you “re-friend” (assuming that is an actual word). Your author once actually did exactly that, until it was soon time … actually past-time … to unfriend for the final time.

In most cases if you “unfriend,” the former friend will remain clueless barely coming up for air in-between digital-political blitzkrieg campaigns.

And then … and then there is a magical button located right at the top of your “friend’s” Facebook wall … with a drop down … follow or unfollow.

Go ahead … Yes, go ahead to your “friend’s” Facebook page. He or she has been annoying you and driving up your tension level way too long … Find this wonderful button and click, “unfollow.”

Something magical just happened. Your Facebook feed is liberated at least for a few nanoseconds or maybe longer.

Think of Charles de Gaulle walking beneath the Arc de Triomphe in 1944. That annoying supposed “friend” is still a friend, you just won’t see their daily/hourly rants. As Martha would say, “That’s a good thing.”

Best of all, there is no fear of your Facebook wall ever being commandeered by someone who just wants to pick a political fight and ultimately have the last word.

http://www.bewebsmart.com/social-media/facebook/distance-yourself-without-unfriending/

https://www.facebook.com/help/community/question/?id=3349287071052

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/why-even-discuss-politics-on-facebook/

Can Amazon’s HQ2 become … HQ1?

Did the Seattle Politburo go too far?

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you … Do they really want to Bern down Seattle’s competitive advantage?

Amazon employs 40,000 in Seattle (headquarters, roasteries and stores).

Let’s see an ANNUAL $275 Seattle employee head tax x 40,000 local workers = $11 million per year … just from Amazonites. Add in Starbucks, Nordstrom, Vulcan etc. and the per-employee tax reaches $48 million

The money  joins the $68 million already ostensibly allocated to fight intractable homelessness in Seattle.

But what inevitably happens when that amount of money is not enough?

As Mrs. Thatcher said: “The Trouble with Socialism is Sooner or Later You Run Out of Other People’s Money.”

Amazon already announced a short list of 19 American cities and one Canadian venue for its planned $5 billion, 50,000 new-employee HQ2 or Headquarters 2.

Are any of these venues threatening to impose a punitive tax on Amazon, just for the privilege of maintaining and hiring the best and the brightest?

What is the incentive to invest in Seattle, if entrepreneurial spirit driving, product producing, employee hiring multi-national, publicly traded companies are hit by its home town city council with the collective backs of their hands?

Let’s see, the State of Washington has no income tax. Seattle has a well-trained workforce.

The Great State of Texas has no income tax. The capital city of Texas has a well-trained workforce too. Austin is also the home of Whole Foods. Jeff Bezos and Amazon bought Austin-based Whole Foods for $13.4 billion last year.

Austin, Texas is on the short-list for Amazon HQ2.

Why can’t Amazon put Seattle in its rear-view mirror? The number one digital retailer/cloud evangelist could simply announce HQ2 (e.g., Austin) and the relocation of HQ1 (Seattle) in the same news release.

As mumsy always said: “If you are in a bad situation, get out of it.”

98 Percent Effective Tax Rate

Seven years ago, Almost DailyBrett wrote about how the UK was Taxing the Fab Four/Exiling the Stones.

Approximately 750,000 Brits qualified for an effective tax rate of 98 percent (no typo) including four from Liverpool and five more from London.

The Beatles responded by writing Tax Man as the first cut, first side of Revolver. The Stones left the UK for the South of France, and produced Exile on Main Street.

At a 98 percent effective tax rate, when does taxation stop and confiscation begin?

Surely, the Stones will never be mistaken for anti-tax warriors. Nonetheless, they demonstrated circa 1971/1972 that achievers can and will move in the face of excessive, unreasonable taxation.

Repealing The Tax … For Now

In the face of a potential referendum, which had already gathered 45,000 signatures, the Seattle City Council reversed course this week, repealing the punitive employee head tax on a 7-2 vote.

How often are tax increases, even so-called “temporary” taxes, rescinded?

The tolls for the Bay Area bridges were originally ticketed to be repealed once the construction bonds were retired. Try driving toward San Francisco on any bridge without first paying $5 or more?

Regardless of the employee head tax repeal, what message has the Seattle City Council sent to the entrepreneurial dreamers, innovators, and job producers who are located (or plan to locate) within the boundaries of the city?

The mere fact that the city council was willing and able to impose an annualized employee head tax $275 on each-and every corporate hire speaks volumes about how publicly traded corporations are viewed by Seattle local government.

Instead of welcoming and embracing entrepreneurs, they are essentially driving them away, their employees and their tax dollars.

Maybe Amazon will take a hint and announce the $5 billion, 50,000 new job HQ2 venue as not only the winning city, but also the new HQ1.

Will the last Amazon employee leaving Seattle, please turn out the lights.

http://komonews.com/news/local/seattle-council-repeals-homeless-head-tax-on-big-businesses

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

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seattle-city-council-to-vote-at-noon-on-repeal-of-big-business-head-tax/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/seattle-head-tax-amazon-starbucks-repeal-today-2018-06-12/

https://www.king5.com/video/news/local/councilmember-talks-on-repealing-seattles-head-tax/281-8158550

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/12/technology/seattle-tax-amazon.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/business/dealbook/amazon-whole-foods.html

https://www.batolls.info/

http://komonews.com/news/local/amazon-starbucks-pledge-money-to-repeal-seattle-head-tax

 

 

 

 

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” – Winston Churchill

Relationships matter, now more than ever.

Tact also counts more than ever, even for those not known for gentile diplomacy.

It’s way too easy to obsess about our digital world with instantaneous global communication in mere nanoseconds, which was unthinkable three decades ago.

These “destructive” technologies have forever changed the world (note Facebook and Google privacy concerns).

Even more destructive is the ability to plunge the world into an unthinkable thermonuclear exchange.

And let’s not forget trying to deflect attention from the ubiquitous, addictive smart phone.

Despite all these seismic shifts in the form of digital ones-and-zeroes, personal relationships are more than ever taking center-stage, particularly in the global political arena.

Think of it as “The Art of the Deal” on steroids.

Not So Warm and Fuzzy

What are the most important public relations of all?

The answers are personal public relations and reputation management.

Do Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have the best personal PR, let alone Kim Jong Un?

This question seems almost silly, but the ability and willingness of these gents (and at least one Frau) to establish and maintain fragile bromances and romances in our scary digital world are absolutely vital for our survival.

Consider that Trump and Kim (dubbed by The Donald as “Rocket Man”) were bragging about the capability of their nuclear buttons a few months ago, yet they still may or may not meet in Singapore on June 12.

Despite the low expectations for lasting, meaningful success, the prospect of a Trump-Kim summit is far better than a potential nuclear war.

Arm-in-Arm gehen Francois Mitterrand (l) und Helmut Kohl (r)

When it comes to war and peace, bromances and romances matter. The longest sustained peace in Europe has been maintained by the establishment of The European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, followed by the European Community (EU) in 1993.

If you are scoring at home there has been peace for the most part on the European continent for 73 years and counting. The relationship between the two most influential EU members – Germany and France – has survived and prospered by means of the relationships between Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, and then Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand, and now Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

As the lone woman in this equation (all due respect is afforded to the UK’s Theresa May), Merkel is rightfully regarded as the most powerful woman on earth – a title she did not seek and obviously does not cherish.

Nonetheless, Merkel has proven she is more than a match for some of the most self-absorbed men on this planet including: Trump, Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and to a lesser extent, Marcon.

Merkel’s relationship to Messrs. Trump and Putin are not warm and fuzzy, but she has been an effective foil. She rolled her eyes at Trump and reportedly insists on speaking German to Putin, while Putin speaks Russian to her – even though they are fluent in their respective languages.

Macron has obviously concluded that Trump is the leader of the world’s largest economy and power. Some have scoffed at the bromance between the two, and questioned what Macron has received in return (e.g., US pulled out the Paris accord and the Iran nuclear deal). Keep in mind that Macron has Trump’s ear, and may be Europe’s closest confidant to POTUS.

Trump’s bromance with China’s president Xi, including a visit to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, is a complicated relationship including strategizing about Kim Jong Un’s nagging North Korea and the question of tariffs and intellectual property (IP) protection. A solid, even though conflicted, relationship between the world’s two largest economic and military powers increases – not decreases – the prospect for world peace and maybe even, harmony.

President Donald Trump talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with their wives, first lady Melania Trump and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan as they pose for photographers before dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Time will tell whether Almost DailyBrett is correct on this point; hopefully that is the case.

You Can Take Putin Out of the KGB …

But you can’t take the KGB out of Putin.

Russia’s leader will play games, including inviting his black lab Koni to a 2007 summit with canine-phobic Merkel (see earlier Almost DailyBrett blog on this Machiavellian topic). How will Putin exploit perceived Trump weaknesses? How will Trump counter?

And yet these two leaders appear to enjoy each other’s company, at least in front of the cameras.

Will Trump develop the same kind of rapport with Kim Jong Un?

Kim has already kibitzed with Xi and most recently on both sides of the most heavily fortified and dangerous border with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.  The overriding subject of their historic encounters: the prospect for a summit between Kim and The Donald, regardless of the potential for success.

In our increasingly dangerous world – in which the digital ones and zeroes work for us and hopefully not against us – Almost DailyBrett takes the humble view that talking is far better than fighting.

Bromances and Romances matter.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/33365-tact-is-the-ability-to-tell-someone-to-go-to

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/common-market-founded

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

“You guys are obsessed with Trump … You pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. … He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. – Michelle Wolf speaking to the White House Correspondents Association dinner

Michelle Wolf once again proved the old adage: A stopped clock is indeed right twice a day.

Supposedly, Alec Baldwin is getting “tired” always playing Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” Somehow, someway Alec makes a go of it, even bringing in the real Stefanie Clifford (e.g., porn “star” Stormy Daniels) to play herself as SNL ratings soar.

Speaking to media expert Howard Kurtz, former RNC chairman and Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus, pointed to the universal improvement of media business models and share prices, and proclaimed:

“Trump is Money.”

Whether you are a conservative switching on Fox News, a liberal watching CNN’s angry talking heads or a socialist getting his or her red-meat fix on MSNBC, all three of these news networks are virtually 24/7/365 Donald Trump … and their ratings are upwards to the right.

Everyone and anywhere, the conversations are about Trump. As Patrick Buchanan once said: “Worse than being misquoted, is not being quoted at all.” Trump never suffered from this malady.

Since June 2015, the media has been in a foaming-at-the-mouth state of Schadenfreude waiting to stomp on Trump’s political grave … and yet the news of his demise has been greatly exaggerated.

As Almost DailyBrett and others have stated, Trump is a walking-talking-breathing, daily-outrage via Twitter or his own verbal expression machine. He is catnip to the media, and the Fourth Estate felines are stoned.

Some have suggested the American media (e.g., Wolf quote above) created Donald Trump and made his presidency possible. The mediaQuant estimates are America media provided the wealthiest presidential candidate in history with $4.6 billion (advertising equivalent) in earned media coverage.

Like him or detest him, Trump — “The Apprentice” — knows how the media works and plays it like a violin. There is nothing the media animal loves more than a good fight or a sordid controversy. Trump delivers in spades.

Show Me The Trump Money

The stately Gray Lady, The New York Times, (“All the News That’s Fit to Print”) at one time set the national agenda, providing us mere mortals with the daily subjects to think about and discuss over the dinner table.

That all ended with Twitter, particularly Trump’s nocturnal tweets – most outrageous, some not. Instead of the NYT being the poster child of Agenda Setting Theory, Trump with his presidential bully pulpit is posing the questions of the day … even before the Times hits the streets.

The inhabitants of the New York Times ivory tower have been preempted and leveraged, and they hate it. Let’s … yes, let’s write another front-page editorial chastising this rogue in the White House. That’ll show him.

Here’s the rub. Counterintuitively, negative publicity actually helps Trump. And in turn, Trump sells newspapers, raises Nielsen Ratings and boosts book sales.

We are approaching the three-year anniversary (June 16) of The Donald descending the Trump Tower escalator to declare his candidacy. The media was laughing back then, and going to the bank today.

Shares of the aforementioned New York Times are up 62.48 percent in the same three-year time period. 21st Century Fox, the parent of the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, increased 11.62 percent. Comcast (NBC and MSNBC) is up 12.64 percent. Washington Post, 7.75 percent. Time Warner (CNN), 9.99 percent … How’s that for creating shareholder value?

The media is making money – lots of money – off Donald Trump. They can’t wait to collectively dance on his political grave, but just not now … pretty please with sugar on top.

Hold your collective ears New York Times Pharisees: When it comes to Donald Trump, you are only too eager …  yes, too eager … to buy low and sell high.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/06/arts/television/snl-stormy-daniels-donald-glover.html

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/30/17301436/michelle-wolf-speech-transcript-white-house-correspondents-dinner-sarah-huckabee-sanders

https://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/30/breakingviews-trump-cold-shoulder-for-tv-ads-may-set-the-trend.html

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13896916/1/donald-trump-rode-5-billion-in-free-media-to-the-white-house.html

 

 

 

 

“After the United States gobbled up California and half of Mexico, and we (Nazi Germany) were stripped down to nothing, territorial expansion suddenly becomes a crime. It’s been going on for centuries, and it will still go on,” – Hermann Goering at the Nürnberg Trials

The charges at the Nürnberg Trials focused on Nazi Germany’s conspiracy to wage global war, and as a result millions were left dead across devastated Europe, and more than 6 million perished in the Holocaust.

The 1945-1946 Nürnberg judicial proceedings had zero to do with the 19th Century US acquisition of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas following the Mexican War. Goering’s lame attempt at “WhatAboutism?” ultimately failed as a legal tactic.

And while Goering dodged the hangman’s noose via a cyanide tablet, the practice of “WhatAboutism?,” clumsily evading inconvenient subjects with rhetorical deflections, is alive and well in our 21st Century discourse.

If the subject is the #MeToo movement, why do more than a few Democrats say “WhatAbout Donald Trump (e.g., Stormy Daniels)?” and more than a few Republicans chime in with “WhatAbout Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky)?” Neither gent is a paragon of virtue. We all know that.

Isn’t the real subject about sexual harassment/abuse targeting women regardless of the perpetrator’s side of the political divide or profession (i.e., major networks, Hollywood …)?

Shouldn’t we address and endeavor as a civilized society to solve these widespread abuses targeting women? Or should we deflect attention (“What about … ?”) to avoid an uncomfortable subject, and better yet score political points?

Is “WhatAboutism?” the first-and-last recourse of the intellectually vanquished?

Does “WhatAboutism” Say More About The Perpetrator or The Receiver?

“He (Vice President Mike Pence) thinks abortion is murder, which first of all don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it—you know, you’ve got to get that baby out of there.” – Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents Association dinner

“Essentially a reversal of accusation, arguing that an opponent is guilty of an offense just as egregious or worse.” – Merriam-Webster definition of WhatAboutism

Every time, Almost DailyBrett hears a “WhatAboutism?,” a series of stages ensues in this order:

  1. Eyes roll (again); 2. Concludes that a nerve has been hit by the impulsive “WhatAbout?” reaction. 3. Realizes the “WhatAbout?” rejoinder is only intended to deflect attention/change the subject 4. Almost DailyBrett is even more determined than ever to stay on the subject, triggering a second “WhatAbout …?”

You can run Mr. or Ms. “WhatAbout?,” but you can’t hide.

If Hermann Goering can reference the Mexican War, why can’t we raise the “WhatAbout?” question about the Norman Conquest, and maybe even the Romans?

If a decent person with integrity questions Michelle Wolf’s absolutely hilarious abortion/tampon jokes at the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) dinner, does mere dissent instinctively draw a “What About” rejoinder from the defenders of “Oppositional Journalism”?

Hey just think. … Maybe … just maybe … Michelle Wolf’s lame attempt at below-the-belt, bathroom humor (e.g., cruelly directed at White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and others) was totally inappropriate for a black tie dinner of the objective Fourth Estate in Washington, D.C.?.

Instead of deflecting questions about the Wolf’s vile, hate speech with an “WhatAbout?” interrogative, why can’t the responder instead ask whether the WHCA actually vetted the speaker?

Why can’t the receiver of incoming rhetorical arrows actually make a stand, and put up a spirited defense? How about the tried-and-true response from your author’s Sacramento days:

When all else fails: declare victory.  Thinking: (“Yep, we won … And here’s why).

Instead of affixing our rhetorical bayonets and rallying all the ethos, logos and pathos at our disposal, way too many “WhyAboutists” are simply deflecting their responses to some other notorious example (e.g., Mexican War) – many times unrelated —  to return fire.

The “WhatAboutists?” think they are so smug, when in reality they are waving their intellectual white flags.

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hermann_G%C3%B6ring

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/whataboutism-origin-meaning

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/whataboutism-what-about-it/2017/08/17/4d05ed36-82b4-11e7-b359-15a3617c767b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6f53b84cac9f

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-dogs-breakfast-of-a-dinner-1525388174

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/oppositional-journalism/

 

 

 

 

 

“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal. Fuck outta here with your nice words.” – Fresno State English Professor Randa Jarrar in a tweet upon the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush

“I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.” – Another tweet by Creative Writing Professor JarrarThe body was still warm on Tuesday.

And shortly thereafter, the race card was played with the nasty labels of “war criminal” thrown into tweets filled with unmitigated hatred. This time the ugly words were uttered by a tenured Fresno State Creative Writing Professor Randa Jarrar.

To his credit, Fresno State University President Joseph I. Castro immediately disassociated the university from Jarrar’s stunning tweets.

FSU Provost Lynette Zelezny said the professor’s horrific comments are under review in accordance with the university’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA). She was asked whether Jarrar could be fired. Zelezny answered the subjunctive question with the affirmative.

When it comes to tenure, CBAs and academic freedom and Jarrar’s outrageous tweets, Almost DailyBrett will take the “under” when it comes to firing a tenured professor.

If Jarrar is not fired, does that mean that tenured professors can say whatever they want, no matter how vile? Are we better as an academic community as a result?

First Amendment Rights/Academic Freedom? 

“I will never be fired.” – Jarrar

We all have the First Amendment Right of Free Speech, regardless of the level of maliciousness.

And tenured professors have “academic freedom.”

The question remains how far does “academic freedom” and CBAs extend when it comes to termination with cause?

Jarrar is taunting the administration of Fresno State, and quite frankly universities and colleges across the country.

When is too much, too much … or is the sky the limit, if there are any limits at all?

Can a university simply proclaim that a tenured professor in question can speak for himself or herself no matter how destructive the comments?

Almost DailyBrett takes issue with this notion.

As the former Press Secretary for the California Office of the Governor (e.g., George Deukmejian), the author of Almost DailyBrett did not have the academic freedom protection enjoyed by tenured professors. Instead your blog writer was an agent of the state, serving at the express pleasure of the governor.

There was zero separation between my own personal comments and my official duties as press secretary. When the phone rang at home at 1 am and a reporter was on the line, yours truly was not a private citizen but a 24/7/365 representative of the Office of the Governor for the largest state in the union.

Likewise, Professor Jarrar is indeed a wealthy $100,000 per year agent of the State of California, and by extension Fresno State University.

She is teaching the leaders of tomorrow, which should make any decent person shudder.

Where Are The University Presidents?

“A professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish. We are all held accountable for our actions.” – FSU President Castro

Will there ever be a time when a rhetorical red line is crossed by a tenured professor?

Will President Castro eventually succumb to the pressure of his tenured faculty, simply slap Jarrar on the wrist, and let her back into her classroom with a big cat-who-swallowed-the-canary smile on her face?

Will he and others in the administration by omission send the image of an uncaring Fresno State University to students, parents and alumni? Will the university president essentially pardon a professor, who wishes for the quick deaths of a revered American family that produced two presidents?

The deciding question is not free speech, academic freedom and collective bargaining agreements.

The real issue is accountability vs. no accountability, when there is no doubt a red line has been trampled.

An agent of the state has betrayed her trust.

Will FSU President Castro and Provost Zelezny have the courage to stand up for decency in these vitriolic times?

Almost DailyBrett is hoping that is the case.

Don’t hold your breath.

Almost DailyBrett note: As predicted Professor Randa Jarrar was not fired because of her tenure. Her insensitive tweets and arrogant referral of critics to call a State of Arizona mental health hotline notwithstanding. President Castro wants to assure FSU donors that Jarrar doesn’t speak for the university. Let the checks be written.

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209227364.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/04/18/after-calling-barbara-bush-an-amazing-racist-a-professor-taunts-critics-i-will-never-be-fired/?noredirect=on

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-secrets-of-a-great-first-spouse-1524177700

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209752459.html

 

What happened to the days, when all men had pride?

The Baby Boomer author of Almost DailyBrett took it for granted that men instinctively wanted to build a career, support a family and bask in the glory of financial independence.

Those were the days when men couldn’t even contemplate being supported by a woman.

As rugged John Wayne once said: “A man is going to do, what a man is going to do.”

In way too many cases today, men are doing precisely … nothing.

Instead of having personal pride in a job well done, these testosterone parasites are being supported by women.

Worse yet, they don’t seem to have even one smidgen of guilt and/or shame.

Where is that video game controller anyway? Let’s load up our digital assault weapon and aggressively blow away literally dozens of people.

What time is it anyway? What day is it? Who cares?

Lost War of the Sexes

“Men who have chosen to not seek work are two and a half times more numerous than men that government statistics count as unemployed because they are seeking jobs.” – Washington Post columnist/author George Will

When it comes to the War of the Sexes, men are losing by two touchdowns … make that three touchdowns in this service-driven economy.

Many men are convinced it’s still 2008 … 2009 … 2010, when there were zero jobs across the fruited plain.

They threw up their collective hands eight-nine-10 years ago, and started living off the fruits of the labor of their girlfriends or wives.

Women are justifiably upset about making 80 cents on the dollar for the same job as the men, who are working. And then they are taking these unfair dollars home to support men, who are not working.

And you are wondering why women are pissed?

Actually, far too men became comfortable during the recession, waking up around noon, hanging out, and then waited for the fairer gender to bring home the bacon.

“When’s dinner, dear?”

Earth-to-recreational-by-choice men: The economy has completely rebounded. There is an acute labor shortage. The help-wanted signs are everywhere. It’s time — actually it’s past time — for you to put down the remote/video game controller and contribute to your loved one, your family, your country.

Do you really think your girlfriend, your soul mate, your wife is going to forever put up with your slovenly behavior?

Do you see yourself as a Hausmann, when in reality you’re not a man at all?

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

What would happen theoretically, if your girlfriend, soul mate, wife meets a thriving, accomplished man at work, the Trader Joe’s produce aisle or anywhere else?

She will then have a choice: Start dating a real man with a pulse or go back home to a flat-lined vegetative man? Tough decision?

Way too men have voluntarily made the decision to not be a man.

Women have choices too.

Does Almost DailyBrett blame women for contemplating dumping your collective derrieres?

More to the point, why shouldn’t women opt for men who work for a living, who have dreams, who have ambition and want the absolutely best for their girlfriends, wives and families?

Isn’t that what being a man is all about?

https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/10/nicholas-eberstadt-men-without-work-american-males-who-choose-not-work/

http://www.aei.org/publication/where-did-all-the-men-go/

https://www.amazon.com/Men-Without-Work-Americas-Invisible/dp/1599474697/ref=nosim/nationalreviewon

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/stoked-for-the-class-of-2018/

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Network_(film)

 

 

Is the Pope, Jesuit?

Do bears fertilize Yellowstone?

“Most of the literature supports that argument, which is incredibly destructive because professors are dumbing down their classes for better evaluations.” -University of Oregon Professor Bill Harbaugh

“Professors to some extent can ‘buy’ good evaluations by giving high grades, so the evaluation process is probably a major factor in grade inflation.” – Richard Vedder, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Dumbing down classes?

Buying good evaluations?

Why do SEOI (Student Evaluation of Instruction) results hold a disproportionate impact on whether an assistant professor achieves tenure at major universities or small colleges?

Sure there are other contributors particularly august, empirical research, but student evaluations are given so much weight that some professors may be prompted to go easy on their students.

Are these students ready for the reality of a boss? Have they become, the boss?

If tenure is the Holy Grail for academics, do college professors literally sell their collective souls to drink from the golden chalice?

Will professors avoid teaching difficult classes at unpopular times (e.g., communications research at 8 am) to protect tenure?

If they knew they had to bite into the forbidden apple by sweetening an undergraduate’s grade would they do so in order to earn tenure, making it nearly impossible to be terminated?

As the author of Almost DailyBrett prepares to exit the academic world stage right in two months and one day (who is counting?), there are thoughts that keep coming back about how to improve higher education … if that is still possible.

My sentiments are not based upon cynicism, but a realistic acknowledgement about how difficult it is too meaningfully change the culture on our campuses, particularly when the adversaries are powerful professor unions and their CBAs (collective bargaining agreements).

What Is The Purpose of College, Anyway?

“Student evaluations can be useful when they are divorced from tenure, retention and promotion evaluations.” – Former Duke University Professor Stuart Rojstaczar

Walking along faculty office hallways, your author has been repeatedly stunned by assertions that the purpose of a university is to ensure that a student succeeds in her or his chosen … major.

Is the major an end in itself? Finis? Endo Musico?

If that is true the onus is not on whether a student is preparing for a career, but how a professor teaches courses and advises these fledglings in order to simply graduate.

Faculty über alles?

Almost DailyBrett has a differing view:

The mission of a college or university should be to prepare students to land positions with full benefits – not just jobs – in their respective fields of study. The results should be a happy and lucrative professional careers.

The curricula for a Department of Communication or a School of Journalism and Mass Communication should emphasize real-world courses, which lead to a recognized profession including: Digital Journalism, Film and Public Relations.

Are parents envisioning their child prodigy with tons of theory stuck in between the ears moving back home at 22-years-young?

How about reducing the tenure impact of the Student Evaluations of Instruction (SEOIs), and instead introducing a measurement that weighs how many of a professor’s students actually land positions in their respective fields of study and build meaningful careers?

Some are entitled to dismiss the musings of Almost DailyBrett, considering that your author is retiring after four years as a tenure-track assistant professor. This writer will NOT achieve tenure. Believe it or not, there are more ways than tenure to measure a meaningful career and life.

What is more exciting is how many of my students have moved onto the professional ranks and are thriving. As the airlines instruct us: “Put on your own mask before assisting others.” These newly minted professionals can buy low and sell high with their discretionary income because they have been prepared by professional schools.

Let’s see how they are doing in their fields? How can a university measure career accomplishment?

Every university has a “development” arm in the form of alumni associations. Similar to the IRS, alumni associations without fail will always find you.

You can run, but you can’t hide from … alumni associations. Rarely does a day go by without a communication from the University of Southern California and/or the University of Oregon.

Practicing evolution and not revolution, let’s retain but lower the impact of student evaluations and academic research. Let’s add into the mix how well our students are doing in landing real positions and building happy careers.

As Sheryl Crow sings, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/09/17/professors-and-the-students-who-grade-them/student-evaluations-offer-bad-data-that-leads-to-the-wrong-answer

https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/student-evaluations-grade-inflationdeclining-student-effort/24926

https://www.dailyemerald.com/2017/07/18/uo-study-finds-correlation-grade-inflation-student-course-evaluations/

 

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