Tag Archive: Back in the USSR


“You say you want a revolution; Well, you know, We all want to change the world; You tell me that it’s evolution; Well, you know, We all want to change the world.” – The Beatles, Revolution

Sometimes it’s hard to provide PR advice to an accomplished hombre, who is 74-years young.

What do they say about: “Teaching an old dog new tricks”?Bernierevolution

Now before you accuse Almost DailyBrett of making aspersions about seasoned citizens, please weigh the fact that your author is on the cusp of this rarefied age group.

This particular epistle pertains to Senator Bernie Sanders (S-Vermont) not once — but actually twice — invoking a call for “revolution” during the course of his losing debate performance against Hillary Clinton, October 13.

And then this past weekend, Sanders doubled down on his summons for a citizen uprising with an airplane pulling the following streamer: “REVOLUTION STARTS NOW! FEEL THE BERN!”

The Saturday event was the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner in first-in-the-nation caucus state, Iowa, to be held next February. Hillary Clinton brought along her beau, Bill, and conceivably he brought along Katy Perry.clintonsperry

In contrast, Bernie invoked visions of a Great October Socialist Revolution. Wonder what he will do for kicks on November 7? Are TJ and Old Hickory turning over in their respective graves?

Why even assess Bernie’s call for “revolution,” when conventional media wisdom points to Hillary winning the nomination in a cakewalk? Maybe, there’s something out there, which cannot be taken for granted, no matter how many times the word “inevitable” is employed. And that is the fact that the folks in retail states, Iowa and New Hampshire, are notoriously fickle, similar to herding cats.

What will actually happen in February, four months from now (a political lifetime), is not preordained. Let’s ask: Why is Bernie still conjuring up visions of Great Leaps Forward, little red books, collective farms, re-education camps and all-expense-paid, one-way trips to Siberia?

Honeymoon in the Rodina

Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case; Honey disconnect the phone; I’m back in the U.S.S.R. You don’t know how lucky you are boy,” – The Beatles, Back in the USSRcoopersanders

CNN’s anointed Wunderkind Anderson Cooper rubbed a few liberal … err progressive raw nerves with Bernie’s disciples when he asked during the debate whether Americans would actually elect a president, who honeymooned in the bucolic Soviet Union in 1988.

In response, the Daily Kos harkened back to the McCarthy-era (not Eugene) memory lane accusing the Clinton News Network anchor of “red baiting” Bernie about how he took his then-new bride, Jane, on a honeymoon beside the banks of the Kotorosi in Yaroslavl.

How romantic: hearing the balalaikas ringing out; keeping your comrade warm.

Cooper’s question envisioned a potential Republican attack ad against Sanders, which could “write itself,” conjuring up his support for the Sandinistas, opposition to capitalism and the couple’s romantic honeymoon behind the Iron Curtain.yaroslavl

Sanders didn’t even blink, pivoting to his tried-and-true attack on the system being “corrupt” and “rigged” against the middle class. Later he boldly called for revolution.

From a public relations standpoint does “revolution” work in Iowa and New Hampshire, let alone South Carolina and Nevada? Is Sanders a P.T. Barnum press agentry circus act with an aerial streamer buzzing overhead? Could he actually win the Democratic nomination and if he did, how could he put together a coalition that leads to 270+ electoral votes?

Asking Sanders to comb his hair (as opposed to the Donald Trump comb-over) is probably not in the cards. How about toning down the rhetoric, but not enough to aggravate his always excitable followers? What did Nixon say about running to the poles in the primaries and to the center in the general election? Sanders is taking the former to the extreme.

This exercise brings us to the heart of the question: Can one actually provide public relations, branding and reputation management to larger-than-life personalities including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Bernie Sanders?

Trump doesn’t seem to care what you think or say about him, just as long as you are thinking and talking about him 24/7/365. Be sure to spell the name right.

Ketchum Public Relations shamelessly received at least $55 million in fees from Putin’s Russia even as the dictator occupies the Crimea, his compatriots shoot down jet liners and props up an evil despot in Syria. Ketchum is way past the point of worrying about selling its collective soul (not referencing the band). That relationship was terminated by Russia this past March.

Back to Bernie: Is there a pragmatic bone in Sanders’ body? Does he really think that Revolutionary Democratic Socialism will sell in Peoria? His message may have a chance in Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Portland, but alas for Sanders there aren’t enough of these collectivist societies to propel the senator to the White House.

Pass the borscht.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clinton-sanders-rally-their-iowa-supporters/2015/10/24/ce6b1216-79d3-11e5-a958-d889faf561dc_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clinton-sanders-rally-their-iowa-supporters/2015/10/24/ce6b1216-79d3-11e5-a958-d889faf561dc_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3l_2m8l8Aw

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

http://russiatrek.org/yaroslavl-city

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/the-politics-of-inevitability/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/the-silly-season/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/russia-doesnt-give-a-particle-about-public-relations/

 

 

 

 

Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” – Winston Churchill

My maternal grandfather never wanted to go to two places: Hell and Russia.

He lived to the century mark and slightly beyond. I doubt he went anyplace, but heaven. I’m certain he never stepped foot inside Russia.

kevinrussia

The author of Almost DailyBrett visited the USSR in 1981, when Leonid Brezhnev and the Politburo were calling the shots. That was 33 years ago.

Today, the Soviet Union is an unpleasant Cold War memory. Nonetheless, Russia remains a difficult and perplexing nine-time-zone nation on the geopolitical map, stretching from Belarus in the West to Vladivostok on the Pacific … and is just as fascinating as ever.

Putin or no Vladimir Putin, I want to go back and check out the changes before I meet Anastasia (“screamed in vain”) in the after-life.

Honeymoon in Stalingrad?

Even though I married Rachel Weisz’ twin, or at least Jeanne could easily be mistaken as Rachel’s sibling, we are not heading to the banks of the Volga for our belated honeymoon. The castles of Bavaria and the phallic symbols of Tuscany in summer are a smidge more romantic.

This is not to suggest that Enemy at the Gates was not a love story. Heck, you have all the elements of a great Casablanca love triangle: Jude Law (sniper Vassili Zaitzev), Joseph Fiennes (Commissar Danilov) and Weisz (Tania), the rubble of Stalingrad and the Wehrmacht and the Red Army in a battle to the death.lawweisz

Nonetheless Russia is calling, and it is a bucket list kind of summons. Some may want to jump out of airplanes. Others may swim with dolphins or sharks (hard to keep them straight) or march with the penguins in Antarctica.

Yours truly wants to walk across Krásnaya Plóshchaď (Red Square) one more time. The same applies to St. Petersburg (it was Leningrad back in 1981) with the Hermitage Museum (Czar’s Winter Palace) and the Summer Palace.

And of course, this time there must be a visit to the aforementioned Stalingrad, now named Volgagrad. It will never be Volgagrad in my mind; it will always be Stalingrad, the most decisive battle of World War II. Germany was finished after Field Marshal Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Paulus surrendered his surrounded Sixth Army in January 1943.

Looking down at the Russian steppes 33 years ago from an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Vilnius, Lithuania, I could imagine the majestic Cossacks, Napoleon’s Grand Armee and Hitler’s Panzers all charging deeper and deeper into Russia.

Reflecting back on the trip, I was repeatedly asked when I was going “in and out” of Russia, not “to and from.”

A Trip Like No Other

“Take me to your daddy’s farm; Let me hear your balalaika’s ringing out; Come and keep your comrade warm; I’m back in the U.S.S.R.; Hey you don’t know how lucky you are boys; Back in the U.S.S.R.” – The Beatles

Living in Eugene, Oregon for four years, I was always amused by the city’s “community” gardens. These are patches of land where like-minded folks under the tender, loving guidance of the City of Eugene plant their sustainable and organic crops (if you don’t believe me, just ask them) and maybe even dream of a communal environment where everyone is truly equal.

Regularly driving past this garden on Amazon Parkway, I would reflect back more than three decades to my trip to the Soviet Union. Certainly, Russia was a “social” society at the time (e.g., prefab apartment blocks, jammed fossil-fuel emitting buses, foreign currency-only outlets, and empty store shelves), but I am not certain about the “justice” part.

There was this problem with the “most equal of the equals.” They were the ones in the fancy limousines being whisked to-and-from the Kremlin in their special lanes. These were the same “simple” folks in the fancy boxes at the Kremlin Hall of the Congresses for the opening night of the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake. Something tells me that the working Ivan never made it to the intermission buffet of caviar and Moskovskaya vodka.

collective

Coming back closer to home: Do the overly educated of Eugene and other cerebral towns really want to emulate the USSR and its collective farms and communal poverty? What is the attraction? Maybe the author of Almost DailyBrett is not smart enough to comprehend.

When asked if I have ever seen real poverty, I think back to my trip to at best, second-world Russia. As my friend and colleague who made the trip with me said” “They treat their people like (insert your favorite fecal material word here).”

Spending any amount of time in the USSR and contrasting it with 1980s Morning in America completed my own political metamorphosis.

Would I recommend Russia as a vacation destination? It all depends what you want to accomplish for your precious time away from the demands of the workplace? If you are looking for romance and your Corona con limon playa, go elsewhere.

If you are a buff on history, politics, suspense (e.g., LeCarre, Forsyth, DeMille novels) and intrigue, Russia may be just your brand of vodka.

Next time, I will remember to keep my eyes open for my photo in front of the onion domes of St. Basil’s in Moscow.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enemy_at_the_Gates

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Square

http://www.excursions-volgograd.ru/en/excursion/museum_battle_stalingrad_tour

http://listverse.com/2012/09/17/top-10-facts-about-the-battle-of-stalingrad/

http://www.eugene-or.gov/communitygardens

 

Edward Snowden

Dear Edward:

Something tells me the Sheremetyevo Airport Transit Zone room service menu is getting old.

How many different ways can one prepare bowls of borscht and/or cucumber sandwiches?

Think of it this way, a prison cell with room service and a view of the parking lot with birch trees is still a prison cell without the iron bars. There is a bar in the hotel lobby with plenty of Stoli, but are you allowed to go there?

For the record, it has been 18 days since your arrival in Russia and counting…and counting…and counting…

Pretty soon, you will forget what day of the week it is. You may satisfy yourself by sending out media statements from the WikiLeaks folks, but soon you will have nothing new to say and the media will cover the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial instead.

One Latin America government after another (e.g., Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia) has extended a welcome to you, but how will you get there? Will Scotty “beam” you up? You can imagine the tropical drinks with umbrellas and the wind-swept beaches (okay not in Bolivia), but you are still stuck Back in the USSR.

Napoleon and Hitler were stranded in Russia as well with winter approaching. It’s amazing how history repeats itself…not that I am comparing you with Bonaparte or der Führer. Maybe you can visit the Stalingrad Museum? Strike that, your passport is not valid.

Bummer.

Another bowl of borscht?

To some in America, you are a whistle-blower and a hero including a collection of voices who together make for very strange bedfellows indeed (e.g., Michael Moore, Glenn Beck, Oliver Stone, Michael Savage).

Maybe one or all of them or the WikiLeaks gang can shell out a few shekels to arrange for a private jet to transport you to a socialist paradise? The sponsoring country could issue you a passport, once you renounce your U.S. citizenship of course. Are you willing to take this step with the knowledge you will never see your native North Carolina or adopted State of Hawaii ever again?

Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, conceivably could welcome you to their island gulag with palm trees, but is that where you want to spend the rest of your life? Keep in mind; you are only 30 years young. Venezuela may be more inviting, but what happens if there is a government coup d’ ‘etat and the new management honors an extradition agreement with the United States? Ditto for fun-in-the-desert Bolivia?

You may end up Back in the USSA anyway.

Maybe you should think out of the proverbial box, and follow in the footsteps of Martha Stewart?

What if you accept Vice President Joe Biden’s offer of a one-way, fully escorted trip home?

Okay you don’t want to go to prison, but aren’t you effectively eating prison food right now? And how long is Putin going to allow you to stay in Russia anyway?

moscow

Do you think that you couldn’t receive a fair trial back the states? Didn’t O.J. receive a fair trial? Maybe we could fit you with a bloody glove, forcing the jury to acquit? Or maybe not.

One thing I can guarantee you, there will be lawyers galore clamoring to represent you before the glare of the television lights. Greta is always in need of a new trial to micro-analyze. You will set in a motion a nationwide debate about what is the proper amount of government surveillance in this era of global terrorism.

If you head off to Bolivia never to be heard from, let alone ever seeing your homeland again, what have you accomplished? Aldrich Ames is serving out his life in prison. No one cares about him. Who will care about you in Venezuela? Isn’t publicity and attention what you ultimately crave?

Reportedly, you are facing up to 30-years in the slam. Do you really think that is going to be the outcome? Maybe you can strike a deal, preserving your rights to your autobiography and upcoming made-for-television movie?

And just as one Clinton in the White House pardoned the dearly departed tax-evader-rogue-trader Marc Rich, maybe a future Clinton in the White House could pardon you too?

Anything is possible. Come home Edward to the land of hot dogs, college football and apple pie…before you are forced to endure yet another cucumber sandwich.

P.S. You may want to contemplate saying you are sorry for your actions instead of being self-righteous. Americans are a forgiving people.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57593011/edward-snowden-likely-to-pick-venezuela-for-asylum-journalist-glenn-greenwald-says/

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/10/19389337-venezuela-is-most-likely-asylum-option-for-edward-snowden-leak-journalist-says?lite

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Snowden

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/05/opinion/obeidallah-snowden-suggestions

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldrich_Ames

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Rich

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