Category: Social Media


“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, 1961

“Economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.” – FAQ for the “Green New Deal,” 2019

“Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.” – Grateful Dead, Truckin,’ 1970

Almost DailyBrett remembers those who said same-sex marriage would never happen.

There were those who said that recreational marijuana would never be legal, let alone pot shops on virtually every street corner.

And that states (i.e., Virginia, New York, Vermont) would never adopt up-to-the-nanosecond-of-birth (and beyond), abortion.

They are all now reality.

Will the next breakthrough come in the form of Universal Basic Income (UBI), or income redistribution from those who achieve to those … who voluntarily do … nothing?

Call it the ultimate in cradle-to-grave dependency: The government taxes entrepreneurs/job creators up the wazoo to pay living-breathing recipients for the privilege to sleep-in-to-noon, play video games, binge watch, smoke dope, drink beer and repeat the cycle the following day.

Seems a long way from the days of JFK, once a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, calling for nationwide patriotism to Ed Markey, a present-day Democratic senator from … you guessed it … Massachusetts, advocating taxpayer payments to those “unwilling” to work.

To be fair, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Markey and other Green New Dealers, claimed it was a “mistake” for the plan’s FAQ to be distributed to the media … who in turn reported the details of the proposed give-away to those who just don’t want to work.

How did the word “unwilling” end up on a draft FAQ, if Universal Basic Income isn’t a part of the thinking of the Green New Dealers?

Talk about a public relations disaster.

Announced Democratic presidential aspirant and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, has actually dug into his own pocket to pay one family in New Hampshire and another in Iowa $1,000 per month to demonstrate the benefits of UBI.

The vast majority will rightfully ask ‘Andrew Who?’ but give him credit for having the courage to introduce Universal Basic Income into the Democratic presidential primary season social justice debate.

Will UBI be part of the party platform at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Your author will take the “under” … for now.

If there are millions of people voluntarily not working (e.g., approximately 32 percent of working age males, source American Enterprise Institute), maybe the government can give them a hand as the face the repetitive boredom associated with doing and accomplishing … nothing.

Paying People To Do Nothing?

Almost DailyBrett never thought he would be compelled to ask: Is it moral for the government to take money from hard-working taxpayers to give it to those … who decide on their own to do nothing, achieve nada, and give zero back to society?

The debate about whether or not to establish a “safety net” for those adversely impacted by deep economic cycle downswings has long been decided. The questions remain about the extent, costs and durations of these assistance programs.

UBI is the ultimate public assistance cocaine dressed up as a basic right. The recipients are forever hooked to the green drug. The government is now obligated to forever keep providing this largesse to those who unwilling to work.

The pressure will always be present to increase UBI payments to keep pace or even exceed inflation, regardless of the consequences to the annual deficit or the rapidly accumulating national debt. The insatiable demand for more redistribution tax dollars for the do-nothings will accelerate.

Any efforts to curtail or reduce Universal Basic Income will trigger a cold-turkey effect (see “Yellow Vests” or gilets jaunes on the streets of Paris). The “program,” once launched will be eternal and unreformable.

Eventually, who is going to say “no” to free money from the government? Isn’t it in the recipients’ “best interest” to stay on the government gravy train? Don’t they as Americans have a right to not work … and get paid for it too?

Despite the obvious moral questions, the public policy fight over Universal Basic Income is closer to the beginning rather than the end. Those who worry out loud about the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – a good example is Elon Musk – have already pointed UBI as another tool in the safety net.

Universal Basic Income is not a safety net, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.

UBI is a shameful governmental give-away pure and simple.

Strong Almost DailyBrett opinion to follow.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/07/ocasio-cortezs-green-new-deal-offers-economic-security-for-those-unwilling-to-work.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/right-wing-media-attacking-alexandria-ocasio-cortezs-green-new-deal-2019-2

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/the-green-new-deal-and-a-universal-basic-income/

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/10/andrew-yang-universal-basic-income-to-protect-jobs-from-automation.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/universal-right-to-a-paycheck/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/deadbeat-boyfriends/

 

 

 

“I can understand wanting to have millions of dollars, there’s a certain freedom, meaningful freedom that comes with that. But once you get much beyond that, I have to tell you, it’s the same hamburger.” – Bill Gates speaking to university students

There are 25.7 million Google results of an image of a middle-aged dude standing all alone with his hands in his pockets.

He is patiently waiting in line for his cheeseburger, fries and a coke.

The maroon pullover guy is patronizing the original Dick’s (1954), which unofficially serves as a gateway to the upper class Wallingford neighborhood in Seattle.

Is the pale dude (gasp) … privileged?

What gave him the right to buy a “Deluxe,” fries and a coke in Wallingford?

Did his parents dote on him? Where did he go to school? Where did he go to college?

Did he ever invent anything of value to society? Did ever provide a living to people?

Did he ever give back to make our world a better place?

And if the answers to these questions do not meet communal approval – Privilege? Family? College? Inventions? Philanthropy? – should we as a collective society even the score in the name of social justice?

It may seem silly to some to have this public good discussion, and yet 25.7 million Google results are triggered in 0.28 of one second, when one inquires about the guy in the sweater standing all alone in line at Dick’s.

Our Obsession With Wealth?

How many billionaires — members of the three comma club — would stand-in line all alone for a burger and fries?

And yet there was Microsoft founder Bill Gates, 63, waiting in line at Dick’s on Sunday evening, January 13.

In our always-on digital imaging world, it did not take long for the celebrity dude doing normal things to go viral, generating stories and impressions about Gates and his love of hamburgers.

The latest estimates place his net worth at $96.5 billion. Couldn’t Gates simply buy Dick’s as opposed to standing in line for a burger? Where was his entourage? Couldn’t he feed the homeless with Dick’s burgers?

And how did he make that money? Did he take full advantage of his privilege? Did he inherit the money?

As many Almost DailyBrett readers know, Gates and the recently departed Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1975. Their entrepreneurial spirit and those that followed (i.e., Steve Ballmer and Satya Nadella)  resulted in the ubiquitous Windows operating system, X-Box gaming console, Microsoft Surface PC, Microsoft Cloud and so much more.

Microsoft is one of the three largest competing companies in market capitalization (share price x number of shares) at $814.5 billion, generating $96.5 billion in total revenues and employing 134,944 around the world.

After departing the daily operations of Microsoft, the guy in the maroon sweater with his spouse established The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The charitable organization bearing their names has given a reported $36 billion to date to alleviate third world poverty and suffering. They are without any doubt the most generous philanthropists in America.

And yet …

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” – Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

In her quest to become the 46th President of the United States, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed a 2 percent surcharge on net assets – not annual income – exceeding $50 million, and another 1 percent on billionaires.  Is Warren’s  “wealth tax” really confiscation in disguise?

There are questions about whether a confiscatory surcharge of assets – not an income tax – is permissible under the U.S. Constitution. This legal question is above the pay grade of Almost DailyBrett.

Having said that, your author must ask: Why do so many Washington elites want to punish achievement, service and philanthropy?

Some rationalize this obsession with wealth as a quest to reach some far-reaching social justice nirvana when the solution is the same-old tired remedy: wealth redistribution targeting those who provide great products, create jobs and give back to the less fortunate.

The answer always comes down to new and more burdensome taxes, but in Senator Warren’s case she calls for outright confiscation of assets. One thing is certain is the redistribution does not stop there. There will also be increases in tax rates, most of all the top rate from 39.6 percent, hiking it to 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent or beyond.

Once you have raised taxes and confiscated assets is that the end … or worse … is that just the beginning?

What’s next? Fees on stock and mutual fund transactions? Surcharges on bank accounts? Is the sky the limit?

How about a wealth tax/surcharge on Bill Gates’ hamburger?

https://www.geekwire.com/2019/billions-served-bill-gates-photographed-standing-line-burger-dicks-drive-seattle/

https://www.ddir.com/

https://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenews/article/Billions-served-Bill-Gates-photographed-standing-13539669.php

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/01/24/senator-warrens-plan-tax-ultrawealthy-is-smart-idea-whose-time-has-come/?utm_term=.251e17e49629

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/Investor/earnings/FY-2018-Q4/press-release-webcast

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

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

https://www.businessinsider.com/biggest-projects-of-generous-philanthropists-bill-and-melinda-gates-2018-8

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/138248-the-problem-with-socialism-is-that-you-eventually-run-out

 

“Did the (Dodge Ram) company really just use Dr. King’s words about the value of service to sell trucks?”New York Times, February 5, 2017

The unfortunate answer was … “Yes.”

Did somebody … anybody … at Chrysler suggest that its Super Bowl LII advertisement shown to 103.4 million viewers (Nielsen Ratings) may not be the best idea? One would hope the executive management at Chrysler is not exclusively composed of yes men and yes women.

If a viewer watching next Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII advertisements takes a sip of tequila every time a cause marketing spot comes across the screen, would that person be smashed by half time?

Based upon last year’s Super Bowl and the trend so far this year, Almost DailyBrett will take the over.

Even weighing Chrysler’s public relations/marketing disaster last February, it seems the trend toward questionable cause-marketing advertising is growing, not subsiding.

Razor Blades and #MeToo?

“Razor blade commercials aren’t supposed to make national headlines, but these aren’t ordinary times. Last week’s Gillette commercial playing on the #MeToo movement became the latest piece of corporate messaging to berate and belittle men.” – Karol Markowicz, New York Post

For Almost DailyBrett, it seems the growing use of cause-marketing advertising with predictable somber music and societal images are mostly lame corporate attempts to attach product brands to a public policy push or cultural icon.

The question remains: Are cause marketing advertising practitioners, who recommend paying $5.1-$5.3 million per 30-second Super Bowl LIII spots to their corporate clients, playing with fire works in the forest with a company’s hard-earned reputation and brand?

Consider Nike’s cause marketing folly of tying its “Swoosh” athletic apparel to Colin Kaepernick, who in many quarters is persona non grata for taking a knee on the flag, the Star Spangled Banner and America.

Is Colin playing in the Super Bowl next week? Will he ever play again? Almost DailyBrett will take the under.

We all know that Chrysler was burned big time for attempting to link the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King’s sermons to the sale of Dodge Ram trucks.

Who thought this poor taste linkage was a good idea?

Ditto for Gillette tying razor blades to the #MeToo movement or Nike taking a knee on Old Glory.

Almost DailyBrett must ask: Were the ads submitted to focus groups (qualitative research)? What was the input of in-depth interviews from African-American respondents (Dodge), women (Gillette) and veterans and their families (Nike)? Was any random quantitative research conducted to validate or contradict the focus group reactions?

Tying the sale of muscle trucks by a publicly traded company to the words, works and deeds of a renowned assassinated civil rights leader/legend sounds risky at best.

The national response to boorish men continues to this day. Is Gillette taking a stand against the #MeToo movement? Hope not.

Does Nike management have a problem with the Star Spangled Banner?

Infamous Or Notorious Brand?

Defenders of dubious cause marketing ads, which draw justified rebukes, will predictably respond that millions of viewers now identify with the (tarnished) brand/product. They will piously state that nothing is worse than spending $5 million-plus for a 30-second spot and the viewers don’t remember the sponsor of the advertisement. Okay, but …

Your author is not carte blanche taking aim against all cause marketing ads.

For example, Verizon cleverly tied its wireless services to first responders running toward the flood, the fire, the earthquake … ensuring they receive the urgent call for their life-and-depth services.

What are Almost DailyBrett’s rules for cause marketing spots, whether or not they are intended for the Super Bowl of Advertising?

  • Appreciate that tribalism is rampant in America, and the warring camps simply do not care, let alone in many cases tolerate each other. Avoid taking sides (e.g., Nike). The predominant views in your locale (e.g., Beaverton, Oregon) are most likely not a reflection of the country as a whole.
  • Contemplate that movements are based upon redressing grievances. They have leaders. They have organizations. They have a determined cause. Don’t try to hijack a movement to sell your products (e.g., Gillette).
  • Invest in qualitative (i.e., focus groups, in-depth interviews) and random quantitative research (e.g. surveys). Don’t prejudge the results. If the respondents essentially question or even revolt against the proposed ad … don’t argue, don’t rationalize … drop it (e.g., Dodge Ram).
  • Embrace honesty with company management about the possible repercussions in terms of reputation, brand, sales, stock price, market capitalization, P/E ratio.
  • Consider that viewers are smarter than you think. They may not respond kindly to clumsy ads that attempt to sell trucks with the words of a slain civil rights leader. How about using puppies or horses to sell beer (just as long as no animals were injured making the ad)?
  • Know that cause marketing is overdone, and is almost becoming cliché. That statement does not preclude cleverly tying a relevant product (wireless communication) to first-responders (e.g., Verizon).

And most of all, follow the Almost DailyBrett Golden Rule: When in doubt, throw it out.

https://www.boston.com/sports/super-bowl/2019/01/24/super-bowl-ad-prices

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/nike-takes-a-knee/

.http://superbowl-ads.com/cost-of-super-bowl-advertising-breakdown-by-year/

https://adage.com/article/super-bowl/2019-superbowl-liii-ad-chart/315605/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/business/media/mlk-commercial-ram-dodge.html

https://nypost.com/2018/02/04/dodge-ram-under-fire-for-using-mlk-speech-in-super-bowl-ad/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/02/05/its-been-a-tough-year-america-these-7-super-bowl-commercials-tried-to-give-us-hope/?utm_term=.3dc3a75c7cc3

I’m not anti-Semite. I’m anti-termite.” – Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

“The persistence of anti-Semitism, that most ancient of poisons, is one of history’s great mysteries. Even the shame of the Holocaust proved no antidote. It provided but a temporary respite. Anti-Semitism is back.” – Washington Post Columnist Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018)

“I am dismayed. I can’t understand any reluctance, black or white, to respond to someone like Louis Farrakhan. He has shown the world that he is an international ambassador of hate.” – Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Rabbi Hier expressed his puzzlement about the lack of sustained outrage against Farrakhan to the Washington Post in … 1985.

Fast forward more than three decades and we find:

Anti-Semitism is back. The caring, caressing and cuddling of Louis Farrakhan is still with us.

The list of public officials and leaders rationalizing and apologizing for Farrakhan mirrors his long list of anti-Semitic and homophobic statements.

The litany of anti-Semitic remarks made by the 85-year-old Farrakhan stretches back for decades, including Judaism is a “gutter religion,” Hitler was “wickedly great,” the world is “infected” by “Satanic Jews,” and Israelis had advance knowledge of September 11.

Why is Almost DailyBrett bringing up this seemingly old news, now?

Some  — not all — of the organizers of Saturday’s Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere steadfastly refuse to publicly condemn the continuous, never-ending stream of vile, anti-Semitic remarks emanating from Farrakhan.

At least one organizer goes as far as awarding a new acronym for Farrakhan … Greatest of All Time or GOAT.

Even as Farrakhan grows older, his gruesome act continues to be tolerated with a long list of excuses, rationalizations and “what-aboutisms” to deflect attention away Farrakhan’s message of hate.

Disinviting Farrakhan To California

Can you imagine the governor calling me a bigot? Mr. Deukmejian, I hope you are not as ill-informed about state matters as you are about me. We need a new governor, maybe Tom Bradley.” – Louis Farrakhan

Reading about Farrakhan’s undeniable impact on the Women’s March, Almost DailyBrett was brought back in time to the Nation of Islam leader’s speech at the “Fabulous Forum” in Los Angeles, Saturday, September 14, 1985.

My boss and California’s Governor George Deukmejian with a demonstrated strong record on human rights publicly disinvited Farrakhan on behalf of the people of the Golden State, and called upon others to do the same.

Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley dithered. Did he not want to upset African Americans? He certainly drew the ire of the Westside Los Angeles Jewish community. Ostensibly, the mayor was working “behind the scenes” to moderate Farrakhan’s message.

Nice try.

After his angry speech, Farrakhan asked why Deukmejian was criticizing him instead of worrying about the problems of a state “filled with homosexuals and degenerates.”

Appeasing Farrakhan Then and Now

What is it with decades-long appeasement of Farrakhan?

Here’s the lead of Judith Cummings New York Times coverage of Farrakhan’s 1985 speech:

“The cars parked at the Forum sports arena, Chevrolets and Toyotas, Mercedes-Benzes and BMW’s, family sedans and clunkers, represented the whole spectrum of southern California incomes and lifestyles. They were driven by people who turned out Saturday night to hear a speech by Louis Farrakhan, the leader of a Black Muslim sect.”

The types of cars parked in the Forum parking lot earned … top billing? Seriously? Farrakhan’s previous denunciation of Judaism appeared in paragraph six.

Just this week, Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory repeatedly refused to condemn Farrakhan’s message under repeated pressure from Meghan McCain on The View.

Looking back, Almost DailyBrett is proud of Governor George Deukmejian for having the courage to disinvite Farrakhan to California, and yes condemn his message.

The question still remains to this day: Why are way too many in the public arena appeasing Farrakhan, and refusing to condemn his anti-Semitic and homophobic message of hate?

Will we ever learn?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/will-jewish-women-attend-the-womens-march-amid-allegations-of-anti-semitism/2019/01/15/54bd5ee0-15c7-11e9-b6ad-

https://insider.foxnews.com/2019/01/16/democrats-louis-farrakhan-problem-anti-semitic-preacher-hugs-maxine-waters-five-reacts

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/the-view-grills-womens-march-co-founder-tamika-mallory-over-ties-to-louis-farrakhan-why-call-him-the-greatest-of-all-time

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/minister-louis-farrakhan-in-his-own-words

https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/chelsea-clinton-slams-farrakhan-for-comparing-jews-to-termites-1.6572123

https://www.nytimes.com/1984/06/29/us/tape-contradicts-disavowalof-gutter-religion-attack.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1984/04/12/second-farrakhan-controversy-caused-by-calling-hitler-great/b3b4ed46-8263-4875-a793-5789a29f74ab/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6c69819dc1bf

https://www.upi.com/Archives/1985/09/15/Mayor-Tom-Bradley-Sunday-condemned-a-speech-by-Black/3161495604800/

http://articles.latimes.com/1985-09-13/local/me-22471_1_local-black-leaders

http://articles.latimes.com/1985-09-17/local/me-20160_1_black-people

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1985/09/11/planned-speech-by-farrakhan-proves-divisive-in-los-angeles/33280835-992b-4bed-8db4-5b1e69a14e83/?utm_term=.aa920528fe67

https://www.nytimes.com/1985/09/16/us/diverse-crowd-hears-farrakhan-in-los-angeles.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00J1kJE2M6g

 

Pass the Maalox!

The Dow lost 651 points on Xmas Eve.

The Dow gained a record 1,066 points the day after Christmas.

The Dow lost 611 points Thursday morning only to finish up 260 points in the very same afternoon.

What’s the lesson for retail investors competing in an unfair market?

Don’t go all wobbly over the Dow Jones.

More to the point: Never panic.

And let’s not forget: Don’t morph into Gloomy Gus or Negative Nancy when the market gyrates downward.

Just as important, never become a Pollyanna when the markets surge. Stay grounded.

Since October 3, the ever-downward market psychology has resulted in traders selling the rallies as opposed to buying the dips.

Buy Low, Sell High has been redefined … at least for now.

Algos Giveth; Algos Taketh Away

Almost DailyBrett clearly recognizes the Wall Street playing field is not level; it tilts downward to the “institutions,” the Buy-Side and the Sell-Side traders.

Similar to Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) in “Money Ball,” the Charles Schwab retail investor (e.g., me) is competing in an unfair game.

Isn’t the easy solution to simple not invest in Wall Street, stick your money in a bank with pathetic interest rates or maybe even under the mattress?

Having said all of the above, the markets remain the choice investment vehicle for the 54 percent of Americans who constitute the Investor Class. These optimists about America’s future devote discretionary revenues in stocks and stock based mutual funds to pay for retirement, health care, children’s education or that dream vacation.

There is a ton of advice out there about taming the markets – some counsel is sound, other “advice” is dubious.

What is the humble advice from Almost DailyBrett, who has invested in markets for 25 years and who taught Corporate Communications and Investor Relations at two major universities?

There are Bulls. There are Bears. And Pigs Get Slaughtered

 “Know what you own, and know why you own it.” – Investor Peter Lynch

  • Your author believes in building your own mutual fund, instead of always paying a fee for someone else (e.g., Fidelity) to manage your money. And when you do structure your very own mutual fund make sure you know why you own each stock (thank you Peter), and make sure you diversify these holdings (everything can’t be tech).

For example, Almost DailyBrett presently owns Apple, McDonald’s, Nike and Salesforce; just sold Boeing. Two are differing tech stocks, one feeds 1 percent of the world each day, and the swoosh just does it as the leader in athletic apparel.

  • Passive investing is a loser. Building wealth is work. Far too many just purchase mutual funds at work through pensions and 401Ks or IRAs at home and literally forget about them. Really? This is your money. What is being done with your money? What are your returns? Forget passive. Be active.
  • Use or consume the product/service of the companies you own (i.e., Apple iPhones, McDonald’s Big Macs, Nike running shoes …). Understand very clearly how a company makes money. If you can’t comprehend why shares are increasing (e.g., Bitcoin), don’t invest. There is a world of difference between investing and gambling.
  • The harder mental gymnastics is not when to buy, but when to sell. Think of it this way: On Wall Street, there are bulls, there are bears … and pigs get slaughtered. Set upside-and-downside sell targets for your stocks. When they reach these points, ring the register. Sure wish your author always followed his own advice.
  • Accept the algorithms. The big institutions (not you) have pre-programmed servers with instruction algorithms that automatically to the nanosecond buy or sell large blocks of stocks whenever certain market price points are triggered. The game is not fair. Accept it.
  • For the longest time the bulls have been running (e.g., November 2016 – October 2018), and corresponding market psychology has been optimistic (bad news discounted). Since the start of the bear market on October 3, the psychology has dramatically shifted to the negative (good news is irrelevant). If you invest, you will experience both moods.
  • Most of all: Don’t panic. Stay active. Remain calm. Sometimes strategic retreat is necessary. Sell underperformers and convert to liquid. Cash is always king. There will be a bottom. There will be a day to buy low with the hopes of selling high.
  • Know your level of risk. If you can’t accept gaining $10,000 one day, and giving $9,000 back in the next day (a $1,000 gain for those scoring at home), you shouldn’t be investing in markets. Pathetic bank interest rates or under the mattress is right for you.

Yes there will be a day when it is time to buy the dip, while those who try to sell the rally end up losing their … fill in the blank.

The liberal networks were not cutting it across the fruited plain.

The front page of the New York Times always dictated the topics for their evening newscasts.

What played on Madison Avenue was not resonating for millions in the Basket of Deplorables west of the Hudson.

For years, the Nielsen reports for the legendary “Big Three” ABC, CBS, NBC and their ideological cousins, CNN and MSNBC, were consistently going down to the right (from a ratings chart point of view).

As America was becoming a more moderate-conservative nation, the media elites in Manhattan and within the confines of the Beltway were moving further to the left.

There was — and still is — an economic disconnect: pure and simple.

And yet there was an unrecognized-in-plain-sight-new-source-of-money to be made in the always tough media business.

The much-vilified duo of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes recognized a vast unmet need for a “Fair and Balanced” network resonating with the good folks in the so-called “fly-over states.”

Fox News Channel (FNC) was born in 1996, and just this year garnered its highest-ever ratings.

The Nielsen Ratings race was not even close.

FNC became the first cable news outlet to lead all networks, including the big three, in total audience for a November midterm election, beating second place NBC by 7.78 million to 5.64 million viewers. FNC even commanded a two-to-one lead over once powerful, CBS.

Legendary chief executive Jack Welch repeatedly said any business should either be number one or number two in its given market. Fox News is without doubt numero uno.

The unanswered question that must be posed: Is why is Fox News still unchallenged in serving the moderate-conservative psychographic, the one which elected Donald Trump to the presidency two years ago?

The self-anointed elites at the liberal networks, the all-knowing think tanks and the academic types at journalism schools denigrate the Fox News audience as uneducated racist dolts. They don’t seem to realize through their intemperate scolding and actions, they are contributing to the reciprocal scorn of the NYC/DC political class.

Almost DailyBrett to this day has never and will not ever understand the “political wisdom” of lambasting and making fun of hard-working people, who alas did not win the biological intellectual lottery.

It must suck to live, work hard and go to church on Sundays in impregnable Blue Wall states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The End of Fox News?

The communal Schadenfreude of the political class celebrating the career ending capers of Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, coupled with the departures of Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren, augured for the inevitable ratings/influence decline of Fox News Channel.

Using football parlance, it was next man (woman) up for Fox News. Sean Hannity vaulted to first place among all cable news programs. Martha MacCallum, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham successfully launched their own opinion programs.

On the news side, superb Bret Bair and MacCallum anchored the aforementioned industry leading midterms’ newscast with solid pros Chris Wallace and Brit Hume by their sides. Almost DailyBrett will always miss the insightful commentary of Charles Krauthammer. His toe-to-toe exchanges with O’Reilly were must-watch television. Krauthammer could have made Fox News’ industry leading Midterm election coverage even better.

The real question that must be asked: Is Fox News merely winning a ratings battle, or the actual media war as well?

Almost DailyBrett argues for the former: Fox achieved a major marker of its success. The network serves 2.5 million prime-time viewers, a 3 percent increase compared to 2017. MSNBC sports 1.8 million prime-time viewers, a 12 percent hike when measured against the preceding year.

Did MSNBC gain share against Fox? Or did MSNBC strengthen its position at the expense in the form of an epic decline by the other 24-7-365 anti-Trump network, CNN? Nielsen reported that CNN draws only 990,000 prime-time viewers, a decline of 6 percent compared to 2017.

What did Welch say about being number one or two in a given market (e.g., cable news)? This blog could easily be focused on what went wrong with CNN, founded 16 years before Fox News?

There was a time when Ted Turner’s network was the authority when it came to breaking news around the world. Remember Bernard Shaw? Those days have been replaced by Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon.

In the meantime Fox News moves forward as the only moderate-conservative oriented network, the television outlet serving the other side of America’s divide.

If Fox remains the only network for the fly-over states, and the liberal networks cannibalize each other for left-of-center crowd … is there any reason to question that Fox News will retain its ratings dominance?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markjoyella/2018/11/07/fox-news-has-highest-rated-midterm-coverage-in-cable-news-history/#262c5105c867

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markjoyella/2018/12/12/fox-news-channel-has-highest-ratings-in-22-years-but-msnbc-is-growing-fast/?utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_content=1994079623&utm_campaign=sprinklrForbesMainTwitter#20dfce6a6124

https://deadline.com/2018/11/fox-news-wins-midterm-elections-ratings-cnn-msnbc-donald-trump-1202497745/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/nine-fox-blondes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/dan-rather-father-of-affirmational-journalism/

 

 

 

 

“If the Earth slammed into the Sun (or vice versa), what would the president do?” – CNN correspondent

“Guess, we would all fry and die.” – White House Trade Hawk Peter Navarro

Couldn’t believe that Navarro would answer CNN’s hypothetical question Friday about whether President Trump would impose $200 billion in even more tariffs on China, if the next 90 days of trade negotiations go nowhere.

Instead of bobbing, weaving and ducking the question, Navarro answered in the affirmative.

Why Peter, why?

American markets tanked Friday, led by a 558-point decline on the Dow.

The psychology on Wall Street is so negative right now. Traders are selling the bounces instead of buying on the dips. Forget about Buy Low, Sell High.

Why did the White House Press Office allow Navarro take an interview with CNN? Isn’t “prevention” one of the key components of effective crisis communications?

The liberal network openly despises … being nice here … Navarro’s boss (see Jim Acosta antics), and will not do the administration any favors whatsoever (e.g., benefit of the doubt).

Were you media trained, Peter?

Obviously, not.

Why didn’t you coordinate your talking points with Larry Kudlow?

Instead it was administration bad cop, trade hawk (Navarro) contradicting an administration good cop, trade dove (Kudlow), resulting in the media and markets seizing upon … Navarro’s negative response to a hypothetical question (e.g., more tariffs on China).

Shocking or more of the same from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue … or both?

It’s now painfully obvious the happy talking points/tweets emerging from last weekend’s G20 Xi-Trump summit over Argentinian steak were over-done … way over-done.

Earth And Sun Collide?

Can’t tell you how many times Almost DailyBrett has been asked hypothetical questions, posed by the media to generate headlines particularly on slow news days.

If asked by a member of the Capitol Press Corps in Sacramento what my boss would do if the earth did indeed slam into the sun, your author would without doubt take the following approach:

“The earth and the sun vary between 91 million and 94 million miles a part each year, and the earth has been around for 4.543 billion years. We are confident this trend, which is our friend, will continue.”

Always remember, conditions can and most likely change between now and later. If that is indeed the case, why answer a hypothetical?

Here’s an even better answer:

“As a policy, we do not answer hypothetical questions. We will say is that we are cautiously optimistic about our trade negotiations with China. We are not going to prejudge this process.”

Boring? Sure. That’s the point.

Do the markets sell off, putting more pressure on the U.S. negotiators? Not likely.

Are the reporters/correspondents disappointed? Oh well …

Should an administration speak in one voice? Always.

Kudlow and Navarro should not be separate spokesmen with conflicting philosophies on the same question. The Alexander Hamilton-Aaron Burr duel would have gone viral in the 21st Century with the NASDAQ dipping into correction territory.

Kudlow mentions the potential of extending the moratorium on tariffs for another 90 days Friday, if the negotiations are making progress … markets go up.

A little later Friday Navarro confirms the possibility of raising $200 billion in additional tariffs, if the negotiations go nowhere … and the markets are pounded.

Who’s on first?

Maybe, Mr. Art of the Deal wants to deliberately send confusing, ambiguous signals to the Chinese to keep them off guard … Good Cop vs. Bad Cop?

Unfortunately, this latest market selloff and the related overly negative market psychology could have been avoided by simply refusing to answer hypothetical questions, and by an administration speaking in one voice.

Is that too much to ask?

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/hypothetical-question.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/07/investing/stock-market-today-navarro-kudlow/index.html

https://www.space.com/17081-how-far-is-earth-from-the-sun.html

https://astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/19833/about-how-many-revolutions-has-the-earth-made-around-the-sun

 

 

 

Wednesday is the National Day of Mourning in America for President George H.W. Bush.

Tomorrow will be the day we celebrate the life of an exemplary American, who maintained and enhanced a sense of dignity to the greatest executive office on the globe: The Presidency.

It will also be a time to reflect on a time when it was truly “Morning in America” as exemplified by the most admired positive political advertisement that ever crossed the nation’s broadcast airwaves.

As Time Magazine reflected on the 1984, 60-second Reagan-Bush ad, Morning in America, the spot was “simple, patriotic and inspirational.”

For Almost DailyBrett, the passing of President Bush – 14 years after the loss of one of our best presidents, Ronald Reagan – officially brings to a close the greatest decade in American history, The 1980s.

Your author as many of the readers of this blog already know was serving as the campaign press director and later press secretary for another former California Governor George Deukmejian, when President Reagan and Vice President Bush were transforming America.

It was indeed: Morning in America.

Even though this level of praise may be seem to be overgenerous to some, your author fondly remembers the Reagan-Bush years (1980-1993) as a simply wonderful time to be an American.

Were the 1980s, perfect? That toughest of all standards is unachievable for any decade. Having acknowledged the obvious, when was the last time that America elected, re-elected and then elected again a president-vice presidential team as it did when Bush became president in 1988?

The answer was four decades before when Harry S. Truman followed another renowned president, FDR.

An integral building block of Ronald Reagan’s legacy is the undeniable fact that Americans overwhelmingly elected George H.W. Bush as his successor, continuing the successful path set by his administration. The greatest peactime economic expansion in American history ensued under Reagan’s watch with the creation of 19 million new jobs.

Some pundits predicted with certainty during the desultory 1970s that America would never again elect a two-term president, let alone three terms of the same party, the same philosophical-political direction.

Whatever happened to these Brady Bunch rocket scientists?

Among the many achievements of Bush’s presidency, today’s pundits are pointing to his discipline to literally not dance on the collapsed Berlin Wall in 1989. That heavily criticized decision played a huge role in the Cold War ending without a shot being fired two years later.

Can We Say Today: “It’s Morning Again In America … “?

“It’s morning again in America. Today more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history.” – Reagan-Bush 1984 television campaign spot

“In today’s fractured media universe, it is unlikely that a single paid TV spot (Morning in America) will again approach that kind of influence.” – Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss

As we approach the upcoming and expected vicious 2020 presidential cycle, can any campaign credibly champion the notion of a happy dawn across America’s fruited plain? “Make America Great Again” with its implied criticism is catchy, but it is not the universally positive, “Morning in America.”

Even more to the point, will the most remembered campaign ads in the two years actually be positive in nature? Almost DailyBrett will take the “under.” Expect reptilian spots to dominate the airwaves/social media until they mercifully come to an end on November 3, 2020.

In the meantime, it is “Mourning in America.”

It is also a great time to reflect on a much better era — The 1980s — when it was truly “Morning in America.”

“It’s morning again in America

Today, more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history

With interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980

Nearly 2,000 families today will buy new homes

More than at any time in the past four years

This afternoon 6,500 young men and women will be married

And with inflation at less than half what it was just four years ago

They can look forward with confidence to the future

It’s morning again in America

And under the leadership of President Reagan

Our country is prouder, and stronger, and better

Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?” 

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/business/the-ad-that-helped-reagan-sell-good-times-to-an-uncertain-nation.html

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1842516_1842514_1842575,00.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/back-to-the-1980s/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/roosevelt-and-reagan-for-rushmore/

 

“I must be a mushroom because everyone keeps me in the dark and feeds me bullshit.” – Urban Dictionary

The rocket scientists at General Motors made the decision to close five factories in the United States and Canada, impacting 14,000 workers/15 percent of salaried employees. Meanwhile the GM truck production lines would keep on humming … in Mexico and China.

GM tenderly issued a Monday news results about these Ohio, Michigan and Maryland facilities/people … saying they will be unallocated in 2019.” 

Unallocated?

Hard to believe that any PR pro worth his or her salt could actually write these words, and with a straight face actually advocate for their approval with management.

Almost DailyBrett concurs with CBS Money Watch in its designation of “unallocated” as one of the worst corporate euphemisms ever employed, if not the absolute worst.

No one is laughing, General Motors.

Before going further, Almost DailyBrett will remind readers of the four tenets of Crisis Communications:

  1. Tell The Truth
  2. Tell It All
  3. Tell It Fast
  4. Move On

There is little doubt that GM’s corporate PR types toyed with the idea of dumping this dead-dog factory closure announcement on the ultimate bad news distribution day of any year – Black Friday or the second day of the long Thanksgiving Weekend.

Nice way for big bad GM to give thanks to its affected workers during the holidays?

Ultimately, the folks who used the ridiculous, twisted in knots verb – “unallocated” – couldn’t bring themselves to drop this bomb the day after Thanksgiving, so they opted for the following Monday, November 26.

And yet, there was the little matter of the resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, who carried Ohio and Michigan.

The Fifth Tenet of Crisis Communications

There may even be a fifth tenet of Crisis Communications: Never Blindside The Boss.

Could GM inform Donald Trump concurrently with the factory closures/14,000 layoffs announcement? Not a chance.

Even at the risk of a leak/premature disclosure, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra had no choice but to pick up the phone and call the president this past weekend.

The alternative of the mushroom treatment, keeping POTUS in the dark and feeding him fertilizer, was clearly not an option. The resulting Trump tweets about being disappointed could well have reflected that he was furious, if he was not informed in advance.

In a series of wrong calls, give GM credit for getting this one right … there was absolutely no upside in blindsiding the president.

Seven Layoffs in Three Years

When the Internet Bubble burst in March 2000, the technology business – particularly semiconductors — crashed into the wall … and there were no skid marks.

For Almost DailyBrett’s employer, LSI Logic, we enjoyed a post-split share price of $90 in 2000, full-running factories, $2.7 billion in revenues, and about 7,700 employees.

Within three years, our stock price plunged to $3, we eliminated two factories, revenues sank to $1.8 billion, and our workforce was reduced to 3,900.

In short, we did everything we could … to survive.

Included in this effort was the issuance of seven news releases, announcing a cumulative series of job cuts and factory curtailments-closures (i.e., Gresham, Colorado Springs, Santa Clara). Eliminating jobs and closing factory gates does not get better with age.

We also instinctively knew there were certain audiences, who needed to be briefed in advance, preferably hours before the news release crossed the wires. Predictably, they (i.e., governors, city council members, county supervisors …) were disappointed, but they understood the economic imperative of our decisions.

The GM case is much trickier. The company received a $39.7 billion taxpayer bailout in the dark days of 2009. Is this “unallocation” of factories and people the way GM says thanks to America during Thanksgiving?

At least Mary Barra picked up the phone and called the big boss.

Can you imagine being a fly on the proverbial Oval Office wall?

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=treat%20em%20like%20a%20mushroom

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/worst-corporate-euphemism-ever-gms-unallocated-factories-a-contender/

https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2018/11/28/General-Motors-layoffs-factory-shutdown-Lordstown-Ohio/stories/201811280038

 

 

 

Whatever Donald Trump does on any given day, on whatever issue, for whatever reason … he loses.

Win the presidency … Trump loses.

Expand the GOP’s Senate Majority … Trump loses

Respond in kind to the dangerous taunts from Kim Jong Un … Trump loses.

Make nice to Kim Jong Un in Singapore … Trump loses.

Cut a trade deal with China’s Xi Jinping … Trump loses.

Champion a blow-out economy … Trump loses.

Extol the virtues of tax reform … Trump loses.

Raise his approval rating … Trump loses, loses and loses.

Never in recorded history have so many so-called journalists dumped so much detritus on any one president with so much speed and relish.

And with this unprecedented and unlimited exercise of Lose-Lose Journalism, any pretext of real or supposed objectivity (i.e., CNN, NBC, NYT, WaPo) has been relegated to First Amendment history books.

Almost DailyBrett didn’t mention the commentariat at MSNBC because one expects drip-drip way-left-of-center rhetoric from those who pass all the required liberal litmus tests to become a talking polemic on the network.

This humble analysis is not suggesting in the least that other presidents –, particularly Republican chief executives, have been denied a given smidgeon of the benefit of the doubt (i.e., Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41 and 43). The level and intensity of today’s scorn – sometimes jumping the line to outright hatred of the president – is unprecedented in its sadness about what was once an admired profession.

Your author has written before about Affirmational Journalism (e.g., Dan Rather), Impact Journalism (Rolling Stone UVA rape story) and Oppositional Journalism (e.g., CNN), but Lose-Lose Journalism is a new phenomenon.

Whatever Trump does or doesn’t do … he is instinctively, instantly and vitriolically regardless of the outcome, judged to be … the loser.

Reminds one of the story of Richard Nixon gathering reporters to San Clemente, and then walking on water.

The New York Times headline the following morning: “Nixon Can’t Swim.”

Becoming Part of the Story

Is there a barely concealed desire by oodles of correspondents and reporters to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, bringing a Republican administration to its knees?

Is the Pope, Jesuit?

Many media psychologists have diagnosed Donald Joseph Trump as a narcissist. Does he bask in the glow of standing behind the podium with the presidential seal? It’s obvious.

What also seems to be undeniable are journalists-turned television personalities, who hog the limelight – one in particular refusing to yield to other reporters — to interrupt and challenge the president … violating the long-held journalistic standard about not becoming part of the story.

Do any media shrinks want to analyze the self-aggrandizing behavior of CNN’s Jim Acosta? Does he crave his own CNN program? Does he even more want to be responsible for bringing down the president? Does he hate the president as has been suggested elsewhere?

More important, does narcissistic Acosta cover the news or is he a vital and integral part of the news? If you want to know how important Jim Acosta is to the survival of our Democracy, maybe you should ask him.

He is now a cause-celebre as his White House media credentials have been pulled. His colleagues – whether they despise him or not – will circle the wagons on his behalf. Listen: You can hear Journalism lectures, equating out-of-control Acosta with the First Amendment.

Sure.

Moving away from the briefing room to the editorial pages, one must ask after scanning all the WaPo pundit headlines since 2015, who is actually reading these screeds?

The answer is the same elitist crowd that always consumes these epistles. Maybe even they are becoming bored with the same, predictable rhetoric?

How many times can Trump be labeled as a racist, misogynist, privileged, homophobic, transphobic … before each and every one of these once-explosive words becomes cliché?

We even heard angry rhetoric this week, suggesting that America is composed of non-racist and racist states. Guess which ones voted Democratic and which basket-of-deplorable states voted Republican?

When the racist, misogynist, homophobic cards are indiscriminately overplayed and overhyped in the media, does each of  every one of these loaded words lose at least a portion of their impact? Maybe we need new and improved pejorative words for our public vocabulary … or maybe not?

Almost DailyBrett is wondering whether lose-lose Journalism is the new norm for the Fourth Estate. Barack Obama feasted in a cavalcade of Win-Win Journalism. Trump is counterpunching daily via Twitter and other devices against Lose-Lose Journalism.

Will President #46 bask in Win-Win Journalism or endure another round of Lose-Lose Journalism.

Guess it depends on who is elected president.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/11/07/donald-trump-jim-acosta-white-house-news-conference/1920107002/

https://nypost.com/2018/11/07/jim-acosta-violated-one-of-the-oldest-rules-of-journalism/?utm_source=facebook_sitebuttons&utm_medium=site%20buttons&utm_campaign=site%20buttons

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/impact-journalism/

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/dan-rather-father-of-affirmational-journalism/

 

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