Tag Archive: Angela Merkel


It’s not whose army wins, it’s also whose story wins. And we have to think more about narratives and whose narrative is going to be the most effective.” – Harvard Kennedy School Political Science Professor Joseph Nye, 2010 TED Talk

The U.S. ranks No. 1 for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at $18.56 trillion, and holds the top position in The National Brand Index.

When it comes to “hard power,” including its military and its economy, the U.S. has no rivals … at least for the immediate future.

Despite these clear hard-power advantages, the U.S. reportedly spent $670 million for “public diplomacy” in 2014, according to George Washington University professor of political science David Shambaugh.

In contrast, China spends $10 billion annually to project itself as a “soft power.”

China as a soft power? In essence, the answer is affirmative. China recognizes it needs more than the collective power of its 1.37 billion people, its second-ranking $11.39 trillion economy, and its growing military strength. China is trying to promote its distinct culture, its language and market its country as a place to invest and visit.

The aforementioned Professor Nye is widely credited with formulating the notion of “soft power” or projecting what you have in terms of culture, language, business, tourism etc. to those who may want the same.

Some contend as mentioned in the stately The Economist that a totalitarian state (e.g., China) may not effectively exhibit soft power as it may be interpreted as single-party propaganda. And yet China created The Confucius Institute in 2004 to entice the appreciation of its culture, to lure hundreds of thousands to study its difficult language and visit and invest in China.

Is the Politburo in Beijing trying to buy love?

From The Devastation of War, Occupation, Division and the Holocaust

The activities of the Goethe Institut improve Germany’s reputation abroad, enhance the quality of German-language teaching, contribute to the development of the German language, promote German artists worldwide, and attract talented youth and professionals to Germany.” – Tatiana Lanshina, “The Goethe Institute and Soft Power”

Germany experimented twice in “hard power” in the 20th Century … and lost big time, both times.

In 1951, Germany’s public relations (Öffentlichkeitsarbeit) were understandably at an all-time low … most likely the deepest nadir experienced by any country at any time. Interest in German Kultur, Sprache and Land was close to nil.

These facts did not stop Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the German government from creating the Goethe Institut in 1951. The mission of this 350-Euro non-profit organization, drawing the majority of its funds from the German foreign ministry, was to use the forgiveness of time to eventually and systematically regain interest in Das Land in der Mitte (The country in the middle of Europe).

Fast forward to today, Germany is No. 2 in the National Brand Index trailing only the United States. The country’s transformation from an international pariah to revered is nothing less than a public relations miracle (Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder).

The author of Almost DailyBrett has a framed Goethe Institut Zertifikat B1 for German language study in his office at Central Washington University. Is the Goethe Institut solely responsible for Germany’s resurrection? Of course not.

There are many other determinants including the reunification, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Economic Miracle, the Marshall Plan, Made in Germany, four World Cup wins, German business success, Germany’s hegemony in the European Union, the popularity of Angela Merkel and many other factors.

Germany understands more than other nations that hard power is not the answer. China obviously appreciates this fact as well. Ditto France with its Alliance Francaise, Italy with its Societa Dante Alighieri, Great Britain with its British Council, Spain with its Instituto Cervantes and Portugal with its Instituto Camoes.

All of the above brings up the obviously question: Who and what projects “soft power” for the United States? One other question: Are we satisfied with the answers?

Donald Trump, Hollyweird, American Media?

Certainly, the U.S. is nowhere near the lousy image that Germany endured – and still suffers – as a result of the 12 years of Hitler and the Nazis. Nonetheless, the U.S. image at home and abroad is less than ideal regardless of the nation’s military and economic hard-power advantages and the country’s number one ranking in the National Brand Index.

Who sets the tone for the United States of America?

Try traveling abroad and see how many times you are asked about Donald Trump once it becomes known that you reside in the Land of Uncle Sam? Does the intemperate, nocturnal Tweeter-in-Chief send the best of image of the red, white and blue across the fruited plain and across the ponds?

How about Hollyweird and the denizens of the TMZ?

The entertainment industry can’t even deliver the right envelope for its biggest announcement of the year (e.g., Oscar for Best Picture) at its most celebrated venue (e.g., The 2017 Academy Awards). Do we really want to entrust our soft power to this motley crew?

When it comes to our elite media, the American public sold the stock and voted them out of office. According to Gallup, the Woodward & Bernstein media of 1976 enjoyed a 72 percent approval rating. Last year, the same polling firm recorded a 32 percent approval rating for the boys and girls of the Fourth Estate, a 55.5 percent decline in the last 40 years.

If the American public is turned off by our nattering nabobs of negativism, why would those beyond our borders respect their interpretations of American soft power?

Maybe the time has come for a non-profit, soft-power Mark Twain, Will Rogers or some other American literary giant institute to celebrate American culture (e.g., baseball, hot dogs and apple pie), our unique take on the English language, and the USA as a wonderful place for investment and tourism?

Or maybe we can instead just leave the task to Donald Trump, Hollyweird and the failing American elite media?

https://www.economist.com/news/china/21719508-can-money-buy-sort-thing-china-spending-billions-make-world-love-it

http://www.ted.com/talks/joseph_nye_on_global_power_shifts

http://www.demdigest.net/tag/soft-power/

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

https://www.goethe.de/en/index.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/25/enemy-of-the-american-people/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx

 

 

“ … The old divide between left and right is growing less important than a new one between open and closed.” – The Economist, March 4, 2017

During the Cold War, the communism vs. capitalism divide was referred to as a contest of wills between “East and West.”

Even today, we use directions to describe the dangerous world of dark-and-foreboding North Korea and the bright lights of cosmopolitan-industrial powerhouse South Korea.

For more than 100 years, there were the Democrats from the left (e.g., Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and Republicans from the right (e.g. Ronald Reagan).

Reagan just turned over in his grave.

Reagan will be forever remembered for his controversial call, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this (Berlin) wall.” The eternally optimistic Republican president embraced neo-liberal open markets, globalization and free enterprise.

In contrast, Reagan’s “Republican” successor Donald J. Trump wants to build a wall. He implores American governments and businesses to his brand of populism, calling for them to “buy American” and “hire American.” There is open talk of “border adjustment taxes,” a taxing concept which would be an anathema to Reagan.

Against this backdrop, guess who is coming to visit The Donald this Tuesday? Frau “Open” (Offen) Angela Merkel, the chancellor of the nearly $300-billion world’s largest account surplus, export-powerhouse Germany.

Making the proceedings even more tender and sensitive is the fact that Americans buy 107 billion Euros worth of German goods each year, while Germans purchase 57 billion of American output per annum.

Translated: Americans consume German cars (e.g., BMW, Mercedes, Audi, VW) and down German beer, while Germans favor their own automotive companies and refuse to drink “dishwater” (e.g., Anheuser Busch products).

Using old thinking, one would conclude that moderate-conservative Christian Democrat Angela Merkel would be to the left of a right-wing Republican president. Instead, we need to recalibrate how we view our divided world with Merkel serving as the neo-liberal (open) and Trump as the isolationist (closed).

Global F.U. Votes?

“Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘fuck you’ ever recorded in human history — and it will feel good.” – Liberal film-maker Michael Moore.

International public relations pros, journalists, pundits and campaign managers need to change their ways of thinking. Left vs. right used to be so simple – oh so simple. Those thoughts are no longer operative as a populist “Human Molotov Cocktail” took over the Republican Party and the White House and dared the party (and Wall Street too) to follow in his protectionist footsteps.

No respectable elite on the Old-World side of the pond saw Brexit coming, until it did. The Midlands overwhelming sent an F-U message to London, Brussels and Berlin. Score a major win for the “closed” crowd.

Surely, the same would not occur in the United States or so we were told our Harvard-heads pundits and pollsters? They missed the F.U. vote with the “Blue Wall” falling in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Looking forward to the next month, France will be making a similar choice between “open” Emmanuel Marcon of the En Marche! Neo-liberal, pro-trade, pro-competition, pro-immigration and pro-EU stances and “closed” Marine LePen of the National Front, who not-so-secretly wants an exit referendum on the EU and the reintroduction of the French franc.

Will France be the third industrial economy F-U vote in a little less than one year?

Undoubtedly, this undeniable trend is on the radar screen of Angela Merkel. Will she enter the White House this week from a position of strength or weakness?

Keep in mind that Almost DailyBrett and many others originally thought she was a shoe-in to be elected for her fourth term as Kanzlerin this coming September. The same thinking applied to the inevitability of Hillary Clinton becoming the first Frau President of the United States.

Merkel’s decision and subsequent pull-back to welcome (e.g., Willkommenskultur) more than 1 million Syrian refugees to Deutschland appears to be a political loser. Her re-election after 12 years in office is anything but secure now as she trails Martin Schulz of the Social Democrat Party, and the (closed) Alternative für Deutschland is gaining strength.

Could France and Germany be the latest in a string of F.U. votes? Will that mean the end of the European Union as we know it? Is this trend the end of traditional left vs. right?

Welcome to a new way of political thinking.

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21717814-why-french-presidential-election-will-have-consequences-far-beyond-its-borders-vote

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/merkel-prepares-for-difficult-visit-with-donald-trump-a-1138244.html

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21716641-not-reasons-donald-trump-thinks-it-germanys-current-account-surplus-problem

http://www.salon.com/2016/10/26/michael-moore-people-will-vote-for-donald-trump-as-a-giant-fk-you-and-hell-win/

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/766256/Angela-Merkel-Martin-Schulz-SDP-CDU-German-election-polls

The dog does not bother you, does she? She’s a friendly dog and I’m sure she will behave herself.” – Russian President Introducing “Koni,” the black lab, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007

“It (Koni) doesn’t eat journalists, after all?” – German Chancellor Angela Merkel

putinmerkelkoni

Even though the canine caper happened 10 years ago, Almost DailyBrett contends that Vladimir Putin’s Machiavellian ploy was clearly intended to intimidate and embarrass Kanzlerin Merkel. And considering the recent seismic shifts in global politics, the incident is more relevant than ever.

The most powerful woman on the planet has a well-documented case of cynophobia. She was attacked by a dog in 1995. She clearly does not relish any contact with man’s best friend, including Putin’s best canine.

During the January 21, 2007 summit with Merkel at his summer residence in Sochi, Putin’s eight-year-old Labrador retriever, Koni, made a cameo appearance during their negotiations. Even though she tried to appear cool, calm and collected, Merkel was clearly uncomfortable and unnerved by the sniffing dog.

When asked about the incident last year by the German periodical Bild, Putin insisted he did not know about Merkel’s fear of dogs.

“I wanted to do something nice for her (Merkel). When I found out that she doesn’t like dogs, of course I apologized.” – Russian President Vladimir Putin

“I understand why he has to do this — to prove he’s a man. He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.” – Kanzlerin Angela Merkel

putinmerkelkoni1

Putin Exploiting Donald Trump’s Weaknesses?

At some point, at some venue, at some pre-determined time, Donald Trump is going to meet Vladimir Putin. Will the Russian leader try to do something “nice” for the new American president?

Russia’s legendary xenophobia, coupled with its record of hacking and espionage, will certainly encourage Putin to seek out and fully exploit Trump’s personal weaknesses.

Who would have thought that a fear of dogs would be a weak point for the chancellor of the fourth largest economy of the world and the de-facto leader of the European Union? Putin obviously knew this fact, and used his Labrador to get inside of Merkel’s head.

If the tenets of military strategy are to capitalize on one’s advantages and exploit the weaknesses of an adversary, then it’s safe to assume that Putin is carefully studying Donald Trump.

trumpputinhorse

In many ways Trump and Putin are similar, but Almost DailyBrett takes issue with any discussion of a “Bromance.” Heck, they have not even met each other.

Having taken care of that silly reference, one can safely conclude they are both demagogic, alpha males with a craving for public attention and reverence. In particular, Trump is known for his thin-skin and is quick to take offense, particularly via Twitter. Will this failing be an opening for Putin to exploit?

At the same time, it is well known the Soviets took note of President Ronald Reagan publicly firing the members of the striking Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) in August, 1981. The president knew he was jeopardizing thousands of vacations and even worse risking the possibility of mid-air collisions in the skies. Putin was a key operative in the Soviet Union’s KGB at the time.

reaganpatco

Reagan was roundly criticized for exhibiting strength, and the same applies to Trump. Putin is becoming aware of Trump’s demonstrations of bravado, while at the same time finding out more about Trump’s weaknesses. Call it “opposition research” or “oppo.”

One “nice” thing that Trump does not need to worry about when he finally meets Putin, “Koni” will not be making a cameo appearance. Alas, Koni lived for 15-years, before finally buying the kennel in 2014.

The new president would be wise to remember what Harry S. Truman once said: “If you need a friend in Washington, D.C., get a dog.”

http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/wladimir-putin/interview-mit-dem-russischen-praesidenten-russland-44091672.bild.html

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/12/europe/putin-merkel-scared-dog/

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/20/world/europe/germany-merkel-profile/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/12094074/Vladimir-Putin-denies-setting-his-dog-on-Angela-Merkel.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/vladimir-putin-says-he-didnt-intend-to-scare-dog-phobic-angela-merkel-when-he-brought-his-labrador-a6805801.html

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/germanys-angela-merkel-afraid-one-thing-its-not-david-cameron-1482159

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

http://time.com/4139802/time-person-of-the-year-angela-merkel-surprising-facts/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konni_(dog)

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/03/opinion/reagan-vs-patco-the-strike-that-busted-unions.html

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time in the planet’s history, women are poised to serve as heads of state for three-of-the-five largest economies of the world: Angela Merkel, Kanzerlin of Germany; Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Hillary Clinton, President of the United States.hillarytheresaangela

And let’s not forget the head of the U.S. Bank is Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

It’s great news for women as yet more glass ceilings are finally being broken on both sides of the pond … but the question needs to be asked: What’s not-happening with far too many men?

Is the rising tide for women raising all boats? The answer is far too men are up a creek without a paddle or at least that would seem to be the case.

Do these men even care?

Should they care?

What’s to become of this now troubled gender demographic?

The author of Almost DailyBrett grew up during the Pleistocene fully anticipating that he would support his spouse and assist in the raising of a family.normanrockwell

As a GEICO ad suggests, “It’s what you do.”

Or should we now say, “It’s what many of us used to do?”

Columnist and über-brain George Will recently wrote about the “quiet catastrophe” of one-third of working-age American men who are by choice “economically inactive.” The vast majority of these underachievers are idly sitting around day-in and day-out watching a daily average of 5.5 hours of TV, playing video games, and checking out digitally streamed movies.

In the meantime, the so-called “little woman” is out there working not to just “Stand By Your Man” as Tammy Wynette would suggest, but to fully support her idle spouse and her family too.

Almost DailyBrett was downright surprised to hear about women justifiably complaining about being required to support not only their children, but their lay-about husbands/boyfriends as well. According to the OECD, the United States leads all industrialized nations in inactive 25-54 men with the exception of Italy (Le Dolce Vida).malevideogames

The official Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics first-Friday-of-the-month “jobs report” released for October 2016 reported a 4.9 percent unemployment rate, 4.6 percent for adult men and 4.3 percent for adult women.

These somewhat-positive numbers are unfortunately deceptive, unintentionally painting a rosier picture particularly for men. These results reflect only those who are actively participating in the labor force (e.g., employed, underemployed or out looking for a job) … and those numbers are declining.

Since 1948, the proportion of men 20-and-older without paid work has doubled to nearly 32 percent or one-out-of-every-three-working-age-males.

How many men aged 25-54 are not pounding the pavement? What’s their future? Are they merely running out the clock until the Grim Reaper arrives?

What’s on Netflix anyway?

“Economically Inactive”

“In America today, compared with 50 years ago, three times as many working-age men are completely outside the work force … Feeling superfluous is a blow to the human spirit. It leads to social isolation and emotional pain, and creates the conditions for negative emotions to take root.” — The Dalai Lama and Arthur C. Brooks

“Donald Trump is perhaps perverse evidence that some of his army of angry men are at least healthily unhappy about the loss of meaning, self-esteem and masculinity that is a consequence of chosen and protracted idleness.” – Washington Post Columnist George Will

Nicholas Eberstadt’s new monograph “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis” points to Social Security Administration stats that revealed one disabled non-worker for every 134 workers in 1960. Fast forward five decades and the number falls to one disabled non-worker for every 16 workers in 2010.couch-potato

Worse, in just seven years the number of those on disability has risen from 7.4 million in 2009 to a record 8.9 million now, a 20 percent increase. As a result of government assistance and support by other family members (e.g., women), Eberstadt said these non-working men between 25-54 years of age “appear to be better off than tens of millions of other Americans today, including millions of single mothers who are either working or seeking work.”

Almost DailyBrett does not want to be charged with merely stating the problem without offering a solution. The first point in developing a strategy to entice these males to get off their derrieres lies with the fact that the world does not value brute strength, ignorance and testosterone as it once did. Get over it.

The second is the service-driven economy is technology driven. If women can learn software and hardware, so can men.

The third is that men have been known to be competitors. It’s time to take a step back … yes, a step back and pick up the skills they need to succeed in this changing world.

As a college professor, the author of Almost DailyBrett arrives each morning and is greeted by women majority classrooms. They have rightfully chosen to compete and engage in lifelong learning. There is no reason why men can’t pull themselves away from the TV or video game console and do the same.

It’s no longer a “Man’s World,” but that should not mean the Battle of the Sexes has been won by one side at the expense of the other.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americas-quiet-catastrophe-millions-of-idle-men/2016/10/05/cd01b750-8a57-11e6-bff0-d53f592f176e_story.html?utm_term=.d5320fbd3c83&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/social-security-disability-depleted/2013/12/17/id/542390/

https://www.tammywynette.com/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jobless-by-choice–or-pain/2016/11/27/7075c720-b189-11e6-840f-e3ebab6bcdd3_story.html?utm_term=.7abf606ef0ef&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

 

 

 

 

“If a man says something in a forest, and there is not a woman to hear him, is he still stupid?” – No Attribution Necessary

“What’s the difference between men and government bonds? Government bonds mature.”

“How can you get a man to do sit-ups? Put the remote control in-between his knees.”

Last December, Time named German Kanzlerin Angela Merkel as its “Person of the Year.” And if Merkel does not stand for re-election next year, her most likely successor for the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is … Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.merkelursula

Just this week, Home Secretary Theresa May became the second woman to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Her main competition came from Energy Minister Andrea Leadson.

And in November …

The United States of America may indeed elect Hillary Rodham Clinton as its first woman president, vanquishing über-male, Donald Trump. And her running mate very well could be Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Two women could be at the vortex of American government for their very first time.

If you are scoring at home, Clinton’s election would result for the very first time in global history, three-of-the-top five economies in the world (U.S., #1; Germany, #4 and UK #5) with women heads of state. theresamay

Despite these breakthroughs for women, there is no denying there are some very important metrics in which men still exhibit hegemony.

According to the stately Economist, men constitute 97.6 percent of Forbes self-made billionaires; 95.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs; 92.8 percent of all the heads of governments (note before May and Clinton) and 91.4 percent of central bank governors (takes into account Janet Yellen serving as the head of the Federal Reserve).

The Economist also offers a flip-side to this equation. Men comprise 93 percent of the prisoners in the United States. They are 79 percent of the global murder victims. And they are exactly two-thirds of all the suicides worldwide.

Oh How the Pendulum Swings

“You see, man made the cars to take us over the road; Man made the trains to carry heavy loads; Man made electric light to take us out of the dark; Man made the boat for the water, like Noah made the ark.” – James Brown, It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World

There were days when agrarian economies held sway. Next up, there were industrial days of manufacturing and big iron: Advantage Men.

Welcome to today’s global, technology-driven service economy: Advantage Women.

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

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

Brute strength, brawn and testosterone-drive ignorance need not apply. Instead, life-long learning, attention to detail, and critical thinking are the necessary components to succeed for at least the remainder of the 21st Century.

And who is better prepared to meet these present-day challenges and realities? The jury is getting ready to render a verdict. Your author will take “the over,” women.

As a relatively new college professor, the preponderance of women students comes as no surprise.

Consider that women outnumber men on college campuses around the world, bar South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In OECD nations (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), men earn only 42 percent of university degrees. And boys are 50 percent more likely than girls to flunk math, reading and science, ominous indicators for men in our rapidly changing global economic landscape.

One could attempt to undermine Almost DailyBrett’s argument by correctly pointing to the fact that your author teaches public relations, integrated marketing, corporate communications and investor relations – all fields that are increasingly dominated by women. It has been reported that women now make up at least 70 percent, and maybe as high as 85 percent, of public relations practitioners.

Yes, there is still latent sexism and the gender pay gap has not yet been closed in public relations, but strategies abound to do just that (see Almost DailyBrett for one view). All is not perfect for women as at least one publication describes public relations shops as a Pink Ghetto.

Let’s state here and now, and not trivialize the reality: Women’s grievances about the past are warranted.

Having said that, the future direction is the friend of women. Can’t say the same for men.gender10

If brawn is less in demand …

If manufacturing is not coming back to our shores anytime soon (sorry Donald, you are wrong on this one) …

If global competition is here to stay …

If technology gadgets continue to replace humans …

If digital reigns supreme …

If the provision of essential services with a smile, rather than a grunt, is required …

Increasingly educated-and-talented women are winning and are going to continue to win.

This realization has resulted in the angst, anxiety and anger by literally millions of men (particularly older men), faced with limited futures and scant attention from women, who (not surprised) do not want to attach their respective futures to going-nowhere-fast men … just another mouth to feed.

Besides public relations, integrated marketing, corporate communications and investor relations, women now dominate accounting, real estate, local government, retail, nursing, food preparation, education … and the list goes on.

Almost DailyBrett must state the obvious: In the present Battle of the Genders, women are winning; men are losing.

Are there still issues and inequalities for women? Yes.

However, the wind is billowing in their sails. Men for the most part are dead in the water.

When Fall rolls around, I will greet three new classes and the majority of the students … will be women. Shocking.

For older men, who are pretty beyond the age of retraining let’s face it, your life is bleak.

For younger men, you have time to get with it, namely get into the classroom, throw off your macho chains and learn, learn and learn some more.

The life-long learning global economy should ultimately benefit all of us, but first everyone must prepare themselves for our always-on, technology-driven, service-delivery world.

http://www.economist.com/news/essays/21649050-badly-educated-men-rich-countries-have-not-adapted-well-trade-technology-or-feminism

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/brexit-referendum/theresa-may-bloody-difficult-woman-be-u-k-prime-minister-n608001

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36737426

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/addressing-the-gender-pay-gap-in-public-relations/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/karma-alone-wont-cut-it-for-women-in-the-workplace/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/pr%e2%80%99s-endangered-species/

http://www.oecd.org/about/

http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/07/why-do-we-treat-pr-like-a-pink-ghetto.html#

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

 

 

 

 

Always charming Donald Trump thinks Angela Merkel is “insane.”

In contrast, Time Magazine dubbed Germany’s first Kanzlerin as its “Person of the Year” for 2015.merkelsyrians

Merkel’s polling numbers plummeted from about 75 percent approval just two years ago to below 50 percent now according to ARD Deutschland. Keep in mind, she was even lower in the same survey, touching 40 percent at the nadir of the Euro crisis in 2010. She was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2013.

She has received international accolades for Germany’s Willkommenskultur or opening up Germany’s borders to those fleeing death and persecution in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, she is blamed for threatening the European Union’s Schengen (Treaty) open-borders policy for its member countries.

Merkel has also faced serious questions as to exactly how many refugees can Deutschland reasonably absorb, an 80-million soul country about the size of Ohio. In 2015, Germany accepted 1.1 million, with another 1 million or more projected for this year based on the daily in-flows.

The issue literally exploded on New Year’s Eve in Köln as hundreds of immigrant men, ostensibly celebrating the arrival of 2016, forced women to run a sexual gauntlet as they groped, robbed and even raped. The German public reaction was predictable and enduring.

Does all of the above signal that Germany’s Öffentlickeitsarbeitswunder is over? Or if Germany’s public relations miracle lives on, is Angela Merkel after 11 years in office finally in trouble politically?

The immediate reaction by Almost DailyBrett from nine-time zones to the west is that Germany’s epic comeback from the ashes of World War II and the Holocaust is still intact However, Merkel may indeed be facing the strongest and potentially lethal political headwinds in her tenure as chancellor.

No More Walls

In America, there is the clamor by a noisy type to build a wall on the southern border and to have Mexico pay for it. Sure.

Germany has more than enough experience with Walls, in particular die Berliner Mauer. Nein Danke!

A good reason for Germany’s willingness to “manage” more than 1 million refugees per year steams undoubtedly from a collective guilt originating from World War II and the Holocaust. Germany is still performing penance.germanysatellite

Another is that Merkel is the unofficial titular head of the European Union. If Germany does not shoulder (more than) its fair share of the burden of welcoming and hopefully assimilating literally hundreds or thousands of refugees, then how can Deutschland reasonably expect other European nations to do the same?

There is also the issue that comes with Germany’s hegemony in the European Union. Deutschland wants to be seen as a normal country, but it is still das Land in der Mitte … and more. Germany is the world’s fourth largest economy, prolific exporter and is the home of legendary German engineering.

The problem with size and strength is this combination usually leads to jealousy and demands (see: the United States of America). Germany can never wipe clean the tarnish that comes with Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, the Third Reich and the Holocaust. Ironically, the memories and images of die NS Zeit may have been partially attributable to Merkel’s success as chancellor … her measured “Mutti” consensus-oriented style serves as a partial antidote to these horrific times.

Should She Run Again?

The next federal elections in Germany are due in 2017. By that time, Merkel will have served as chancellor for 12 years, just short of Helmut Kohl’s 16 years and Konrad Adenauer’s 14 years. One of the truisms of politics is that one can overstay her or his welcome in the center ring. With each decision no matter how popular comes disappointment, if not enemies.

How much disappointment (e.g., refugee policy) and how many enemies (e.g., CSU boss and Bavaria premier Horst Seehofer), will she trigger/ or has she triggered during the course of 12 years is the subject of conjecture.

Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Germany’s reunifier Kohl waited too long to exit stage right. Their departures were less-than-celebratory.ursula

Almost DailyBrett does not rule out that Merkel pulling out a Kaninchen out of a Hutte. At the same time, Germany’s first woman Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen is waiting in the wings. Will Merkel want to seed her seat to a fellow CDU minister (assuming the voters go along)?

If so, the Feminization of the Fatherland may produce yet another chapter in Germany’s Public Relations Miracle.

https://www.bundeskanzlerin.de/Webs/BKin/EN/Chancellery/Timeline_Federal_Chancellors_since_1949/timeline_federal_chancellors_since_1949_node.html

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21692916-under-pressure-reverse-her-refugee-policy-angela-merkel-faces-court-case-welcome?zid=307&ah=5e80419d1bc9821ebe173f4f0f060a07

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21688418-ultimate-victim-sexual-assaults-migrants-could-be-angela-merkels-liberal-refugee

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21685512-attacks-women-mobs-young-men-inflame-germanys-refugee-debate-new-year-new-fear

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8XUinVkCNk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7vMZYuWCsQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxJvXHu0Xf8

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/germany-from-holocaust-to-normalcy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/the-katarina-witt-brand-uber-alles/

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

https://www.bundesregierung.de/Webs/Breg/EN/FederalGovernment/Cabinet/UrsulavonderLeyen/_node.html

 

 

 

Ich bin ein Berliner.” – President John F. Kennedy address beside the Brandenburg Gate in 1963

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” – President Ronald Reagan address in the shadow of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987

Berlin is the testicles of the West. Every time I want to make the West scream, I squeeze Berlin.” – Soviet leader Nikita KhrushchevJFKberlin1

There is no place on earth that is more emblematic of the Cold War than the Brandenburg Gate in the geographic center of Berlin. For almost 30 years, absolutely no one could walk through its arches because of the ugly scar of the Berlin Wall (Die Mauer).

The author of Almost DailyBrett travelled to Germany’s capital nearly 20 years ago to walk through the Brandenburg Gate and to secure his piece of the wall (mein Stück der Mauer). Those mature enough remember exactly where they were when the magic word spread in 1989 that the Wall had come down and East Germany’s (a.k.a. German Democratic Republic) repressed citizens were now free and the end of the Cold War was near.brandenburggate

One of those citizens was the daughter of a Lutheran minister and a Ph.D in quantum chemistry, Angela Merkel. Today, she is the third-longest serving Chancellor of Germany and Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” The periodical described her as the “Chancellor of the Free World.”

As the most visible leader of not only Europe’s largest economy, Germany, and the European Union, even Merkel cannot avoid consternation.

One such controversy involved a young American Senator by the name of Barack Obama, running for president in the summer of 2008. His aides suggested a Kennedyesque/Reaganesque campaign speech beside the Brandenburg Gate.

Her response was nein. True to form of American politics, not everyone remembers the dispute that way.

A Little Bid “Odd”?

When Barack heard about this plan, he was incredulous. ‘You think we’re setting expectations a little high? Let’s find another spot.’” – Campaign manager David Axelrod recalling Barack Obama’s reaction to a proposed presidential campaign speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in his book, Believer

(German Chancellor Angela) Merkel has “little sympathy for the Brandenburg Gate being used for electioneering and has expressed her doubts about the idea.” – Merkel spokesman Thomas Steg in 2008.

Hmmm … the two above quotes contradict each other.

Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” cover story makes direct reference to Merkel’s government turning down the request of the Obama campaign to burnish the senator’s foreign policy credentials at the Brandenburg Gate on June 24, 2008. Die Kanzerlin believed the gate should be reserved for heads of state (e.g., Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, Kohl …). Sitting members of Congress did not rise to that level.

In this image provided by Time Magazine, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is featured as Time's Person of the Year. The magazine praises her leadership on everything from Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis. (Time Magazine via AP)

In this image provided by Time Magazine, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is featured as Time’s Person of the Year. The magazine praises her leadership on everything from Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis. (Time Magazine via AP)

The German magazine, Der Spiegel, understood the reason why the Obama campaign wanted the Brandenburg Gate as a backdrop. Very few places project the healing of the East-West divide and speaking at das Brandenburger Tor would project foreign policy gravitas for the young senator. Alas, Merkel’s office found the Obama campaign request to be a tad, “odd.”

Despite this decision, Time concluded the relationship between Obama and Merkel has improved since that time. Having said that, Time’s revisiting this issue brings into question Axelrod’s contention that it was Obama … not Merkel … who made the decision to move the speech two kilometers west of the Brandenburg Gate to the other side of the Tiergarten where the Victory Column (Siegessäule) is located.

A legitimate question posed by Almost DailyBrett is why does this case of faulty memories or worse, revisionist history, matter nearly eight years later? The answer is we are heading into a presidential election year and with it comes the pressures to exaggerate, to amplify and to engage in revisionist history.

Age of Pinocchios

The Washington Post awards Pinocchios for those in public life who utter as Winston Churchill would say, “terminological inexactitudes.” Using that standard, Axelrod (Believer, page 292) may be accorded at least one Pinocchio for this description of how Obama … not Merkel … decided against a campaign speech at the Brandenburg Gate.obamaberlin

As those enthrusted to build and enhance brands, guard reputations and be ready to prevent and respond crisis communications situations, public relations professionals must be on guard for terminological inexactitudes (an euphemism for a direct lie).

Sometimes they start as small, little fibs. Let the young senator in your own mind choose the Victory Column instead of the Brandenburg Gate.

But what happens when fibs escalate into bold unsubstantiated claims of Mexico flooding this country with murderers and rapists? Where’s the beef?

What happens when one candidate charges that ISIS is using another candidate’s speeches for recruitment videos? Where are the videos? They exist of they do not exist.

As we move from the presidential campaign Silly Season, defined by subjective judgments by the political class, to the Serious Season when real voters with real results get into the mix, the pressure will be on to push the envelope in terms of personal credentials or worse, the opposition’s perceived missteps.

A little terminological inexactitude here and a little terminological inexactitude there, pretty soon you are talking about whole boat load of Pinocchios.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/brandenburg-gate-controversy-obama-reacts-to-debate-in-berlin-a-565080.html

http://www.britannica.com/topic/Brandenburg-Gate

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/terminological-inexactitude

 

 

 

“In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl.” – Mark Twain in his 1880 essay, The Awful German Languagegermanbeauty

What do you call someone, who speaks three languages? Trilingual.

What do you call someone, who speaks two languages? Bilingual.

What do you call someone, who speaks one language? An American.

Not my favorite guy, but the last of the three rhetorical questions posed by deposed CBS anchor Dan Rather to the National Governor’s Association meeting in Chicago hit me right between the eyes.

The year was 1989. It was das Jahr die Mauer fällt. That was also the year the author of Almost DailyBrett made a resolution to learn another language, German. Die deutsche Sprache was one of the hottest languages in the world as the Berlin Wall came down and the soon to be reunified Germany started to project “soft power.” German was once again in vogue.

Certainly when it comes to romance, German with its guttural sounds (see Schmetterling above) will never qualify. The closest word in this category may be Gemütlichkeit, which conveys a sense of coziness, a warm fire, an Alpine meadow, a beautiful hike in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald).

I’m Happy That You’re So Sad

There is also Schadenfreude, which roughly translates, “I’m happy that you’re so sad.” Keep in mind that Schadenfreude is also one of the German language’s many compound nouns, making it virtually impossible to play Scrabble in German. How about Arbeitslosigkeitsunterstützung or unemployment insurance?

With a language as tortured as German in which all nouns must be capitalized, is it any surprise there is really no German word for public relations? The closest translation is Öffentlichkeitsarbeit or work with or in the public sphere. If you desire an even longer German compound noun, how about the word for Germany’s public relations miracle from 1945 to present day: Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder?

German is far from the hardest language on the planet to learn (i.e., Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese or even Hungarian), but it is certainly not the easiest. Der, die, das, die (nominative case); den, die, das, die (accusative); dem, der, dem, den (dative) and des, der, des, der (accusative) are all the ways Germans say the word, “the,” depending where and how “the” falls in any sentence.

In English, the word,“the” is “the.” Simple.

And let’s not forget irregular and separable verbs in which a prefix gets thrown to the conclusion of the sentence and with or without the prefix at the end, it changes the meaning of the sentence. For example, rufen means to call and anrufen means to call by telephone … rufen is conjugated, and an is placed at the end of the sentence.

Do you really want to make that phone call?

To get on the Autobahn with no speed limit in long stretches, you follow the Einfahrt, and to exit you follow the Ausfahrt. That’s a lot of Fahrting for one ride on the Autobahn (compound noun).ausfahrt

Similar to Spanish and French (and presumably many other languages), German articles (der, die, das) must be correctly placed before the corresponding masculine, feminine and neuter nouns.

As noted above, clever Mark Twain pointed out German is the only language on the planet that makes a turnip, feminine, die Rübe, and a young unmarried girl/woman neuter, das Mädchen and das Fraulein. Translated: the actual gender of the noun may not matter in determining the article that precedes it.

There is also the issue associated with the fact that many Germans do not believe you can ever learn their language. Go to Berlin or München and ask a question in (near) perfect High-German and more times than naught, you will receive your answer in English oder Englisch.

The good news: they understood your question. The bad news: they are still convinced you will never learn German.

Why Learn German?

“ … People know that you get further in a country if you speak the local and the official language and not just English. For networking and approaching clients, and partially also for business communication, knowing German gives you an additional advantage.Ulrich Ammon, author of The Status of the German Language in the World

Let’s face it, when it comes to learning German, many will instantly equate the language with charming memories, such as Blitzkrieg, Luftwaffe, Achtung, U-Boots, Messerschmitts, Fokkers and dozens of other militaristic terms that harken back to two world wars and the Holocaust.

That’s why it was all the more surprising to learn that German is being offered to 14-to-15 year-old students in Israeli schools or more than 20,000 Israelis have moved to Berlin, the once capital of the Third Reich.

What has changed, particularly when only 104 million of the earth’s 7 billion-plus inhabitants are native German speakers? One answer is these native speakers equate to the 4th largest economy in terms of GNP and the world’s most proficient export machine.

Germany will be eternally tarnished by memories of the Nazis and the Holocaust, but its leadership in the European Union, its popular and consensus-oriented Chancellor Angela Merkel, and its (soft power) powerful export driven economy has made it a land of opportunity. Partially as a consequence of its postwar guilt and its aging population and declining workforce, Germany has been more than generous in opening its borders to those fleeing from Iraq and Syria, and is expected to accommodate 800,000 refugees by the end of the year.schmetterling

Reportedly, there are 15.5 million present day students of die Deutsche Sprache, up 4 percent in the last five years.

Should you become one of them, you will soon be able to translate: Der kleine schöne Schmetterling hat durch den grünen Wald geflogen.

Yep, that is one beautiful little butterfly that flew through the green forest. Pass the schnapps!

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21663257-once-language-schiller-and-goethe-then-hitler-german-hip-again-sprechen-sie-power

http://www.dw.com/en/why-the-world-should-learn-german-and-why-germany-should-care/a-18236069

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlATOHGj9EY

https://www.cs.utah.edu/~gback/awfgrmlg.html

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

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/latest-3000-migrants-cross-austria-33650547

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21663228-refugees-germanys-chancellor-brave-decisive-and-right-merkel-bold

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/germanys-road-to-redemption-shines-amid-europes-refugee-debate/2015/09/10/00955630-57f0-11e5-8bb1-b488d231bba2_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_opinions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hillary’s election was “inevitable” in the 2007-2008 presidential election cycle.

As we all know, it didn’t quite work out that way.

hillaryobama2008

For months, we have been told once again that at least her 2016 Democratic nomination was “inevitable,” and quite possibly her election as the 45th president of the United States could be phoned in as well.

The plan commenced with the “Hard Choices” book tour, followed by ones-and-zeroes binary code video presidential candidacy announcement, and then bus tours to listen to average voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. The path seemed so easy … until it wasn’t.

Almost DailyBrett will refrain from taking a deep dive into the plethora of errors including declaring the first couple was “dead broke,” the myriad of allegations of conflict of interest regarding the Clinton Foundation and of course, the wiped clean private email server … that damned server.

We are 14 months away from 2016 election day, and the tenacity of the Clintons should never be underestimated. There is still time for the “inevitable” to once again be inevitable.

Maybe to understand why “inevitability,” which some could very well equate with arrogance, is not quite working, it is instructive to appreciate the profiles of two very powerful women: Madam Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Kanzerlin Angela Merkel.

Never Take The Electorate for Granted

“….It is for the rising German generation, for German youth, to dispel the mistrust, this fear, by rejecting what has long been rejected and clearly and unanimously announcing their desire: not for a German Europe, but for a European Germany.” – Author Thomas Mann

One is known as “Mutti” or a German term of endearment for “mother.”

The other is closer to being America’s mother in law.

This month, Angela Merkel will mark her 10th year as the second longest-serving Chancellor of the modern iteration of the Vaterland, the European Union’s strongest economy: Germany. Merkel bristles at the notion that she is the first female chancellor of Germany, preferring to be seen as the first German chancellor, who just happens to be a woman.

After the evil demagoguery that led to Germany’s eternal shame, most Germans want their nation to be seen as normal. They desire their country to be regarded as  an integral part of Europe, not for Europe to be an essential  part of Germany.

Ever compromising Angela Merkel has served as a calming influence for the 80 million inhabitants of Germany. Yes, she has ruffled feathers in rebellious Greece and other southern European nations, but that is a result of fiscal austerity policy not because of her personality.merkel2

She and her Union parties will be required to call an election in two years’ time. Certainly, there will be no proclamations of inevitability. Instead, the anticipated rhetoric will be along the lines of her earlier, Deutschland’s Zukunft in Guten Händen (Germany’s Future in Good Hands). Merkel will once again want to be seen as a strong mother figure, which seems to suit the Vaterland with no desire to flex its muscles ever again. Germany has been repeatedly described as the reluctant hegemon.

“Run as if you are running behind; Take Nothing for Granted”

The folks who attend the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses are notoriously fickle.

The same maybe even more true with the Live Free or Die crowd in no-state-sales-tax New Hampshire, the site of the country’s initial primary.

These are retail states. These are states that want to see the candidates in living rooms, coffee shops and factory gates. They are fiercely independent. They don’t want to be taken for granted. Their support is anything but inevitable.NHvoters

If elected, Hillary Rodham Clinton will make history as the first woman president of the United States. Her other half, William Jefferson Clinton, will be the nation’s First Man, a position he has previously held … albeit in another capacity.

From a public relations, marketing, reputation management standpoint is it best to campaign to be the first woman president of the United States or the first president of the United States, who just happens to be a woman?

If Angela Merkel was born in Hampton Roads as opposed to Hamburg, there would be no campaign focused on her inevitability. She would undoubtedly prefer to be the first president of the United States, who happens to be a woman.

Reflecting back on my days working on George Deukmejian’s successful California gubernatorial campaigns and also in his media office in the Office of the Governor, we always ran as if we were running behind (even when we won by a record 61-37 percent margin in 1986), and we took absolutely nothing for granted.

Do the folks in Iowa and New Hampshire believe they are being taken for granted, let alone residents of South Carolina, Nevada and the other states that will follow on the primary/caucus calendar?

Almost DailyBrett contends the electorate is much more tuned in than many of those within the confines of the Beltway believe, ditto many of those in the hallowed halls of academia.

Maybe Hillary and her trained spokespeople would be well advised to be a tad more humble, and focus on Hillary becoming America’s first president, who happens to be a woman.

The image of Mutti is far more endearing than America’s inevitable Mother in Law.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/09/02/what-hillarys-sinking-poll-numbers-really-mean-in-one-chart/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_popns

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/09/02/hillary-clintons-image-is-struggling-but-shes-no-donald-trump-or-jeb-bush/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_daily202

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-clinton-remains-yes-inevitable/2015/09/03/57de7cdc-5273-11e5-8c19-0b6825aa4a3a_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/01/angela-merkel-profile

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/09/why-is-merkel-still-so-popular/279887/

http://www.angela-merkel.de/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-sanders-vs-clinton-new-hampshire-replays-past-splits/2015/09/07/072ac4ec-5581-11e5-b8c9-944725fcd3b9_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_evening

 

 

 

 

 

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