Tag Archive: Barack Obama


“Donald Trump is like a vampire; he never sleeps.” – Bill O’Reilly

To be accurate he does sleep a tad, and nocturnally he tweets a ton to 40.6 million-plus recipients.

During a late-1980s visit of Almost DailyBrett to Sardine City (a.k.a. The White House Press Briefing Room), there were wire-service reporters, who drew the short straws, and were assigned to Presidential “Death Watch.”

Translated these graveyard-shift members of the Fourth Estate were expected to be poised and ready to report, if the president passed away in his sleep. Fortunately, the media was never required to write/broadcast about a president expiring in the White House living quarters.

It was quite simply one of the most boring jobs on the planet … until 10 months ago.

The “Death Watch” reporter now has to be glued to her/his mobile device/laptop for the next 140-character-or-less epistle(s) from the Tweeter-in Chief @realDonaldTrump. In the last two years, his Twitter handle has generated 36,100 tweets, ranking the president at #22 worldwide, ironically one place in front of … The New York Times.

As it turns out the political class now needs to be aware of what Trump is tweeting at 3:20 am EDT, and there appears to be little if any advance warning for even his allies (e.g., Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) or objective/non-objective adversaries.

Trump has introduced widespread insomnia to the denizens of the Potomac, and also media/pundit types east of the Hudson. At the same time he has usurped the elite media’s role in setting the agenda for America’s national conversation.

It’s time to state the obvious:

Instead of the elite-media (i.e. NYT, WaPo, Big Three nets) framing national issue discussions under Agenda Setting Theory, Trump has stolen this mantle through his frantic and many times undisciplined tweeting.

For better or worse, Trump is setting or preempting the agenda and the elite media doesn’t like it one little bit.

The First Social Media President?

“Think of Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats or Ronald Reagan’s television addresses. More recently, presidents have used the internet to directly reach the public, making journalists increasingly irrelevant … “– Northeastern Associate Communication Studies Professor Greg Goodale

“Increasingly irrelevant”? Those are fightin’ words.

Considering that Twitter was founded only 11 years ago, it stands to reason that President Barack Obama was the first chief executive to dabble with tweeting. Having said that, did Obama’s tweets ever rise to the level of newsworthy stories, much less threatening elite-media Agenda Setting?

There is a new sheriff in town and part of the reason he is occupying the White House is directly linked to his provocative and disruptive tweets. Not only does Trump set the agenda, he can also shift, preempt and deflect the 24/7 news cycles with subjects of his choosing.

Some contended the elite-media’s cherished role in Agenda Setting would be eroded by widespread public participation in social media (e.g., 10.3 million tweeted during the first Obama vs. Romney debate in 2012).

Instead, research has demonstrated that reporters/correspondents/pundits use Twitter to silently collude with each during a 21st Century presidential debate. Instead of weakening Agenda Setting Theory, the media role in setting the agenda was actually enhanced through second-screen group think.

Whether the elite media should be charged with deciding what issues should be the subject of national conversation is debatable. What is not the subject of dispute is the fact that Twitter has become Trump’s most reliable bully pulpit.

Is Trump provocative in his tweets? Absolutely.

Has he interrupted the elite media setting of the national discussion? With relish.

Has Trump stepped on his own legislative/political agenda with his tweets? No question.

Has Trump in far too many cases to count been undisciplined in his use of Twitter, attacking both friends and foes? The case is closed.

Does the elite media absolutely grind their collective teeth and literally hate Trump’s Twitter use most of all? Is the Pope Catholic?

Will the 46th President of the United States use social media? Did FDR hold radio “Fireside Chats”? Did Kennedy and Reagan excel on television?

Social media tools are here to stay. As Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen coined, they are game-changing “destructive technologies.”

And similar to nuclear devices, Twitter is at the fingertips of one Donald John Trump.

http://news.northeastern.edu/2016/12/how-donald-trump-is-changing-presidential-communication/

https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/curtis-houck/2017/08/07/

https://techofcomm.wordpress.com/tag/donald-trump/

https://twittercounter.com/realDonaldTrump

http://politics.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228637-e-46

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Not exactly, Cogito, ergo sum.

In 1988, your Almost DailyBrett author had the privilege of spending a lovely Sunday Valentine’s Day lunch with Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters.

There was nothing romantic about our encounter. Dan was very interested in what was in my folder: a copy of the Democrat majority’s plan to conduct a Kangaroo Court hearing the following day to justify voting against former Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Long Beach) as state treasurer.

Each Democratic senator, one-after-another on the committee, was to serve as a “prosecutor” on an assigned issue (e.g., Lungren voting against reparation payments for families of Japanese WWII internees). Nobody who had successfully negotiated the riggers of second grade expected a fair-and-objective state Senate confirmation hearing. The memo made it clear the proceeding was indeed a “prosecution” in a stacked court case, meant to provide political cover for Democrats voting against Lungren.

And why was the majority so aligned against a mere member of Congress?

Five-term congressman Lungren was telegenic, articulate and represented an electoral threat to the Democrat majority in Sacramento. He was appointed to the state Treasurer position in 1987 by my boss, Governor George Deukmejian, after the passing of legendary former Speaker Jess “Big Daddy” Unruh.

Dan Walters naturally already had another column teed-up for Monday, February 15. Nonetheless, he instantly could appreciate how the publication of the infamous “Forsyth Letter” could result in collective knickers being in a twist at stormy state Senate confirmation hearing the following morning.

Almost DailyBrett compared the Forsyth letter – named after Senate Pro Tempore David Roberti’s press secretary and author, Robert T. Forsyth – to the Oklahoma Sooners game plan being published in the Lincoln Journal Star the morning of the big contest against Nebraska.

Walters’ piece was entitled, “A Game Plan for Democrats.”

Dan Lungren was outraged at the hearing, waving a copy of the Walters’ column at the Senate Democratic majority members on the panel. Lungren and by extension my boss, Governor Deukmejian, won the PR battle that day.

Alas, we were not ultimately successful. The Assembly confirmed Lungren. The Senate voted against Lungren. We did not prevail before the California Supreme Court on whether one house was sufficient for confirmation. Finis.

True to his battling form, Lungren recovered from the non-confirmation going forward to serve two terms as California’s attorney general, running for governor, and returning to Congress for another eight years. He is now lobbying on The Hill at 70-years young.

Number of People Knowing + Time = Leak

“If you don’t want to read about it in the Sacramento Bee, don’t put it down in writing.” – Often heard admonition in the State Capitol building

The Forsyth memo was prepared. Xerox machines started to hum. Copies were made. At least one of these game plans found its way to your author. Gasp, I leaked it to Dan Walters. The only stipulation: there would be no direct reference to me or my position in the Office of the Governor in his copy.

The column greeted Democrats the following day.

As the press secretary for Governor Deukmejian, my job in many cases was to deflect leaks targeting my boss and our administration. In this particular case, I was the leaker.

Every leak has a purpose. The practice is not new. And as long as the written word exists, particularly in digital form (e.g., leaked 2016 John Podesta campaign emails), leaking will remain intact until Armageddon.

As the New York Times defines the practice: “Generally, a leak is an intentional disclosure of secret information, often by an anonymous source whose goal is to make the information public.” Yep.

For example, the British provided a copy to President Woodrow Wilson of the secret 1917 (German foreign Minister Arthur) Zimmermann Telegram. The telegram was meant to entice Mexico to enter World War I on the side of Germany in exchange for U.S. territory. The subsequent publication of the telegram in March 1917, helped fuel the flames for the U.S. to declare war on Germany one month later.

Donald Trump has been known to fire off intemperate tweets condemning the widespread leaking in his administration, including one ironically posted on  Valentine’s Day 2017: “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?”

His predecessor Barack Obama conducted a “war on leaks” and yet these unauthorized disclosures continue.

Let’s face it, Washington D.C has always leaked like a sieve and always will. Ditto for state Capitals (e.g., Sacramento) and highly covered publicly traded companies. Putting this genie back in the lantern is simply not going to happen, particularly in our Big Data world.

As an admitted leaker, the author of Almost DailyBrett has also been on the receiving end of unflattering leaks on more than one occasion. My advice to any political or business entity: Practice discipline. Remember: Good government/good business is indeed good politics/good business.

And to the leakers/aspiring leakers, there is a responsibility to always ask yourself whether you are hurting the country, you purport to love with your leaking?

If the answer is “yes,” the end does not justify the means. There are legitimate reasons for confidentiality particularly in our increasingly dangerous world.

Almost DailyBrett notes: Belated congratulations to Dan Walters for his 8,000 columns for the Sacramento Bee during the past 33 years, and 57 years in service as a journalist … Still miss Bobby Forsyth, one of the nicest and funniest guys I ever met. He passed away in 1999. May Bob continue to rest in peace.

http://articles.latimes.com/1987-11-26/news/mn-24766_1_state-treasurer

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/dan-walters/

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/

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

https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/?year=1988&country=1

http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-24/news/mn-5908_1_senate-democrats-position

http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-24/news/mn-5912_1_state-supreme-court

http://newlearningonline.com/new-learning/chapter-7/descartes-i-think-therefore-i-am

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/business/media/are-leaks-illegal-explaining-history.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/10/obama-leaks-aggressive-nixon-report-prosecution

https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/zimmermann

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/dan-walters/article154087854.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If he (Trump) took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.” – CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewing Trump supporter, Jeffrey Lord

Do you think Anderson Cooper has reached the point (and beyond) in which he can’t cover Donald Trump objectively and fairly let alone his network, CNN?

According to Harvard University, the answer following empirical research of media coverage by CNN and several other major outlets during the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency is a resounding, “no.”

Let’s pretend Donald Trump did something really good for the country … and didn’t nocturnally crow about it on Twitter?

Before answering this interrogative, let’s first pose a relevant side question: Who do reporters, editors, correspondents respect more than any other living creatures on this planet? The answer is other reporters, editors and correspondents.

Taking this essential and undeniable truth into account, Almost DailyBrett must ask:

Can a reporter — any reporter, editor or correspondent — outside of the friendly confines of Fox News – write or produce a totally objective piece about Trump without triggering the wrath and disdain of his or her precious media colleagues?

Would that journalist be willing to take the risk of enraging the pack mentality, and maybe even jeopardizing a career?

It appears to be seemingly impossible for a CNN or NBC reporter/correspondent in particular to provide positive coverage of Trump as evidenced by new data harvested by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. Harvard reported that 93 percent of CNN and NBC’s first 100 days of Trump coverage have been overwhelmingly negative.

Seven percent of CNN and NBC Trump coverage has been positive? It doesn’t seem that high.

Right behind in the race to the bottom is CBS at 91 percent negative coverage, surprisedly beating even the New York Times with 87 percent and Washington Post with 83 percent respectively thumbs-down coverage of The Donald and his administration.

Conservative media outlets tilt to the negative on Trump, but they simply cannot compete with the Clinton News Network (CNN) or the networks of Meet the Depressed or Deface the Nation. The Wall Street Journal’s coverage is 70 percent to the negative, and even Fox News is 54/46 percent to the downside.

MSNBC was not even measured.

The only Trump story that was covered in a positive manner by the newsies was the launching of cruise missiles at poison-gas Syria with 80 percent of the media on the Trump side of the ledger. Guess the remaining 20 percent may be secretly siding with Bashar Assad or more likely … can’t bring themselves to say anything remotely positive about Trump.

As a result, Trump hates the media. The media hates Trump. And Sean Spicer was last seen in the bushes.

The Donald claims he is not being covered fairly compared to his predecessors. Conservative bastion Harvard backs up this contention. Barack Obama’s coverage during the first 100 days was 59 percent positive; George W. Bush’s was 43 percent affirmative; Bill Clinton’s was 40 percent positive … Donald Trump, 20 percent to the positive.

Is the media not-so-secretly rooting for Trump to be impeached, while trying to implicate Mike Pence as well? Consider the instant parallel to Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” with James Comey’s firing.

Almost DailyBrett always thought that a massacre required more than one person.

Below the Mendoza Line

The media feasts on Donald Trump’s record 54 percent negative approval rating. According to the same Real Clear Politics average, Trump has a 39.6 percent positive approval rating.

Gallup reported last fall the nation’s approval of the work provided by the media stands at only 32 percent or 8 percent behind Donald Trump.

The same polling firm reported that 72 percent of Americans approved and admired the media’s standing and coverage in 1976, right on the heels of the Watergate busting Pulitzer Prize work of Messrs. Woodward and Bernstein. Since that time, public approval of the media has dropped 40 percent in as many years.

Could it be, the media has become more partisan, more “interpretive” and less objective (i.e., CNN, NBC, CBS, NYT, WAPO)? Do the media feed our nation’s divisiveness? Do they regale in the internecine warfare and bickering, while being above it all?

What’s next: Streaming video of the 21st Century version of a fatal Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton duel with tisk-tisk anti-Second Amendment commentary by Rachel Maddow?

If the media was a stock with a 40 percent sustained decline during four decades – essentially down to the right – a wise investor would have dumped these shares a long time ago. Putting this metaphor aside, does it sound like the American public with only 32 percent support (e.g., 14 percent among Republicans) has rolled their eyes in unison and washed their collective hands of the media?

Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America in 1972 in an era when the media informed the public. Today, the likes of Maddow on MSNBC and Sean Hannity on Fox News essentially affirm philosophies of entrenched political populations segments. Ditto for social media.

Anderson Cooper’s disgusting metaphor about presidential defecation can be dismissed as an unprofessional verbal assault in the heat of battle. CNN’s and NBC’s 93 percent negative coverage of Trump and his administration points directly to the fact the newsies have reached a point they can no longer be fair and objective to the president.

And who are the ultimate losers?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/05/20/anderson-cooper-apologizes-for-conjuring-image-of-trump-defecating-on-his-desk/?utm_term=.a458d852d72c

https://heatst.com/culture-wars/harvard-study-reveals-huge-extent-of-anti-trump-media-bias/?mod=sm_tw_post

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

http://www.edelman.com/executive-summary/

 

 

 

 

“One hundred and forty characters are suitable to expressing an impulse, but not an argument. It is the rhetorical equivalent of a groan, a shriek, a sneer or a burp. If reason and persuasion are what our politics lacks and needs, Twitter is not the answer.” — Nationally Syndicated Columnist Michael Gerson

At 71-years young, Donald John Trump is the oldest to take the presidential oath of office.

One would suspect a man of his age would be next-to-clueless about social media/digital technology — (remember out-of-touch George H.W. Bush and his amazement about the supermarket scanner?) — but one would be wrong.trump-twitter

Just as FDR used the radio-and-its-widespread-network for his fireside chats; Ronald Reagan five decades later repeatedly went before the cameras to go directly to the people and bypass Congress. Why should we be surprised that Trump is using Twitter to go around the media?

Agenda Setting Theory means that elite media (i.e., NYT, WAPO, ABC, CBS, NBC) pose the topics for the grateful masses to think about. Trump’s Twitter posts are usurping this cherished interpretive media role, and the ladies and gents of the Fourth Estate are not amused.

Have the Nixon days of the “nattering nabobs of negativism” returned with a daily war being waged between the elite media and the White House? Is the media appalled or secretly thrilled to have such an adversary to bring crashing to the earth?spicer

Sean Spicer is the present press secretary for the 45th chief executive. How long will he hold this job? Obama had three press secretaries (i.e., Robert Gibbs, Jay Carney, Josh Earnest) during the span of eight years. Almost DailyBrett will take the over on the question of whether this president will have three-or-more press secretaries.

One of the daily problems facing Spicer is pleasing his insatiable boss, while at the same time not getting eaten alive by the piranha covering the White House. Serving as press secretary may ultimately be rewarding in the form of a best-selling, tell-all book, but for now it is most likely the supreme thankless job on the planet.

Digital Is Eternal

“Are you insinuating that I am a purveyor of terminological inexactitudes?” – Winston Churchill

As California Governor George Deukmejian’s press secretary (1987-1989), the author of Almost DailyBrett never worried about whereabouts his my boss (e.g., the governor went home to Gloria, the kids and the beagles). Your author was never concerned about what he was going to say in response to media questions (e.g., The Duke’s political judgment was superb/his message consistency was outstanding), and what he did at night … presumably he slept soundly.

Spicer and the Trump communication team always need to worry about political judgment/discipline, and particularly what the energizer-bunny president is doing at 3 am … namely his love affair with Twitter’s 140-characters.trumptwitterhillary

Are the Trump communicators tempted to program their smart phones to send S-O-S signals every time the boss fires off another tweet? Heck, sleep is way overrated anyway. Think of it this way, when a POTUS tweet is sent from God’s time zone (EST), it is already 8 am in London, 9 am in Berlin and 11 am in Moscow.

For the media on presidential “death watch” (those who must stay up in the White House briefing room as the president ostensibly sleeps), they now have something to do: Monitor the POTUS Twitter account.

Is there any way to mitigate and moderate what The Donald decides to tweet, save being in the president’s living quarters at 3 am (EST)? Would he listen to his communication pros anyway? The hardest part of the job for Trump’s  press secretary may be responding to wire service calls at all hours of the morning to add color to a tweet that he saw at the same time as the reporters.

Some of the 140-missives may make perfect sense and will be consistent with the policies and the programs of the administration. Others … well, they could be about almost anything including inaugural crowd sizes or “alternative facts.”

Considering the government’s record of telling the truth has been less than stellar over the decades (e.g., LBJ’s “Credibility Gap” during Vietnam, Nixon’s “I am not a crook,” and Jody Powell’s “Right to Lie” during the Iran hostage crisis), are we surprised an administration is resorting to terminological inexactitudes?

What is breathtaking is the number in the first week alone, but more noticeable is the speed, namely through 140-characters or less Twitter.

How many tweets will POTUS fire off its cyberspace in four years or maybe eight years? Will there be any political-and-editorial discipline imposed?

Don’t count on it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-a-tweeting-president-is-so-bad-for-our-politics/2017/01/26/9a6892a8-e3f0-11e6-a453-19ec4b3d09ba_story.html?utm_term=.06b7a51ec1ce&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://uspolitics.about.com/od/presidenc1/tp/List-Of-Obama-Press-Secretaries.htm

http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/33875.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/the-right-to-lie/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/the-other-side-of-the-story/

 

 

 

 

There is good news and not-so-good news for Edward Snowden.

First, the good news: A weak morning sun came up over Russia’s Eastern horizon this morning, revealing the legendary frozen tundra steppes.

Maybe Snowden has a comrade he can keep warm or maybe not.snowdenbook

Snowden is being provided tender-loving care under the KGB’s successor, the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Snowden can check in anytime he likes, but can he ever leave?

Second, the not-so-good news: Despite the all-out PR campaign, epitomized by Oliver Stone’s epic movie and a massive media pardon effort, former President Barack Obama boarded a helicopter Friday and left Snowden Back In The (former) USSR.

Sorry Edward, Donald Trump is now president.

What are the chances of a pardon from The Donald? How about none and less than that.

Similar to Napoleon’s Grand Armee and Hitler’s Panzers, Snowden is stranded in Russia in winter.russianwinter

What’s a whistle-blower/traitor to do?

The Legacy of Marc Rich

Almost DailyBrett has to categorically state this blog was wrong, thankfully wrong.

Last February, this post predicted that Snowden’s name would be a last-minute add to the pardon list, as a new president was being inaugurated and all of the attention would be on the incoming administration.

To his credit President Barack Obama did not pardon Snowden, despite intense pressure to give the high-school drop-out, a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Bet ya, Obama remembered Bill Clinton’s last day in office 2001 pardon of the late Marc Rich.marcrich

Über-wealthy Rich was wanted for more than 50 counts wire fraud, racketeering, massive income tax evasion and trading oil with Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, Khadafy’s Libya, Milosevic’s Yugoslavia, Kim Il Sung’s North Korea and Apartheid South Africa. He even renounced his U.S. citizenship.

Clinton pardoned him, triggering a firestorm of criticism from both sides of the aisle, and leaving the memory of his last act in office as an enduring chapter in his legacy.

Undoubtedly, Obama did not want pardoning Snowden to among his last actions as president. He was smart to take a pass, leaving Edward to the tender mercies of Putin’s Federal Security Service.

Snowden on the Chess Board?

“Chess is the gymnasium of the mind.” – Blaise Pascal, mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher (1623-1662)

There appears to be a standoff.

Snowden faces up to 30-years in the slam Back in the USSA for at least two violations of the Espionage Act of 1917.

He is now working on his fourth year in the Rodina as a “guest” of the Russian government.

There is a ton of speculation about the coming relationship/non-relationship between two of the largest egos on the planet: President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin.trumpputin

Will they get along? Almost DailyBrett will take the “over.”

Will they wheel-and-deal? Didn’t Trump write a 1987 book titled, Trump: The Art of the Deal?

And if there is going to be a deal or deals, what about the 32 pieces on a chess board? The Kings are obvious, The Donald and Vladimir. And then there are the vital pieces: queen, bishops, knights and rooks … which brings us to the lowly pawns.

If Donald Trump wants Snowden back in the custody of the United States of America, wouldn’t one think that Putin would trade a pawn (e.g., Snowden) for another piece or pieces on the board?

Think of it this way, Snowden remains in Russia at the unpredictable pleasure of Vladimir Putin. If trading away Snowden pawn fits into the strategic plans of the 11-time zone nation, wouldn’t one surmise that Putin would do just that in a nanosecond?

There is the possibility that Snowden becomes a permanent Russian citizen. He is 33-years-young, giving him plenty of time to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and to take side trips to Siberia.

He could also wait until 2021 to determine if a new incoming president of the United States would pardon him – assuming there is no second term of Donald Trump. The question remains would a new president among his or her first acts in office want to pardon Snowden?

What if Snowden-the-pawn is simply part of a Trump-Putin deal? Or maybe Snowden reads the writing on the wall, and voluntarily (assuming he can) asks to be returned to the United States?

Conceivably, there could be a C-130 waiting for him at Sheremetyevo Airport. The destination could be the United States or …

Is Guantanamo still in business?

https://www.yahoo.com/news/russia-says-snowden-stay-two-more-years-081707423.html?.tsrc=fauxdal

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/world/europe/edward-snowden-asylum-russia.html?_r=0

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/was-snowden-hero-or-traitor-perhaps-a-little-of-both/2017/01/19/a2b8592e-c6f0-11e6-bf4b-2c064d32a4bf_story.html?utm_term=.76f7eb553ea8&wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21714318-damning-account-devastating-intelligence-breach-how-edward-snowden-changed

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/the-coming-presidential-pardon-of-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/pr-advice-for-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/is-snark-ever-smart/

https://fas.org/irp/world/russia/fsb/

 

 

 

 

“It’s a great photo that demonstrates genuine bipartisanship. At one time they were political enemies, but they came together for a good cause. In the midst of a nasty election season, people are hungry for anything that can unify us.” — Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics

A great photo can be worth a 1,000 words, and can go viral too.michellebush

The best part about First Lady Michelle Obama hugging former President George W. Bush is what it says about what could be as opposed to what is today’s reality.

Last September was the opening ceremony for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Bush signed the legislation creating the museum. Obama was there to formally open its doors to the public for the first time.

As the Obama presidency comes to a close with disparate interpretations of the 44th president’s legacy, and Donald Trump prepares to take the Oath of Office Friday, the nastiness of the partisan divide has seemingly never been greater.

Some would argue that Aaron Burr outdueling Alexander Hamilton was worse, but only by a smidge.burrhamilton

What should be seen as a celebration of our enduring democracy (inaugural of #45) – the peaceful transfer of power – is degenerating into a cavalcade of boycotts by politicians/entertainers and demonstrations – some of which will almost-certainty, turn violent.

For a prelude, just take a stroll through the digital world of social media. For some reason so many of us are compelled to inflame Facebook and other sites with partisan broadsides … even though most are already fully aware of the sender’s political predilections.

Almost DailyBrett has already rhetorically asked why we choose to fire off these salvos on a social media platform intended to our family and friends. Is this the way we treat our family and friends, when we see them face-to-face?

If so, do you still have any family and friends? Guess, mumsy will always love you.

“Forgive Your Enemies, But Never Forget Their Names” – John F. Kennedy

A great read is “The President’s Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity” by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.

The 2012 book tells the story about how presidents and former presidents from Truman to Obama were able to repeatedly work together (e.g., Bush 41 and Clinton 42 on Tsunami relief), putting aside the proverbial political hatchet for the greater good.

The repeated examples catalogued in this book do not suggest that everything is forgotten, but many real-and-perceived transgressions are eventually forgiven.

Does this mean that Bush 43 and Obama 44 see eye-to-eye on the body politic? Absolutely not.

Having said that, can they set aside differences, work together and actually develop a real friendship? Michelle’s sincere embrace of George W., and his very real expression of gratitude, serve as a great symbol for the country.

With this example in mind, could incoming President Donald J. Trump give his Twitter handle a rest? Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly been exposed to the Big Apple world of insults and never apologizing, but are we going to endure daily Twitter broadsides for the next four-to-eight years?

trumptwitterbird

Whatever happened to the notion of being a statesman, someone who can literally reach across ponds to represent America as an exceptional nation?

Whatever happened to political discipline, having the strength and courage to fight off coarse instincts and emotions, and to stick to the script on behalf of a presidency, but more importantly for our Republic?

Whatever happened to never forgetting the names of your enemies, but eventually forgiving them instead of trying to even the score?

The viral hug between First Lady Michelle Obama and former President George W. Bush produces 2.6 million results on Google and more than 4,000 videos on YouTube. That’s relevant.

What have we learned here? Almost DailyBrett will offer that the nation understands advocating and defending our principles, but civility still matters. If the 100 million-plus political animals in this country could pull one punch this week … that would be 100 million instances of less political invective on blogs, social media or verbally.

What a beautiful thought.

Maybe a great photo is indeed worth a million words.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp2JZH1sfiM

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/michelle-obama-embraces-george-w-bush-why-photo-was-so-n654451

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/theoval/2016/09/26/first-lady-michelle-obama-displays-genuine-affection-george-w-bush/91124646/

http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/24/politics/michelle-obama-george-w-bush-friendship/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-lewis-feud-could-be-harbinger-of-new-round-of-hyper-partisanship/2017/01/14/f72db5a2-da8d-11e6-9a36-1d296534b31e_story.html?utm_term=.9c86ee86bb59&wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

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

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn103659.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/books/the-presidents-club-by-nancy-gibbs-and-michael-duffy.html

 

“There’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation. I’m not sure what else one would do. That’s what I think would happen.” – Tesla and SpaceX Founder Elon Musk

“It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.” – Benjamin Franklin

“To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.” — Buddharobots2

As a small-time shareholder in Tesla, the author of Almost DailyBrett is reconsidering his investment.

Have I’ve been foolish?

Should I be more diligent to be wise?

Don’t get this blog wrong. These posts have always supported and admired entrepreneurs (e.g., Musk) as job creators, dreamers of great new products, and economic forces for good (e.g., reducing dependence on fossil fuels).

Nonetheless it’s shocking to note that Musk’s (i.e. PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX) answer to the prospect of increased robotics/automated services (i.e., check-out machines, ATMs, robotic assembly lines) is too simply put all of these future displaced employees – maybe even millions of workers – on a politically acceptable dole (at least to some): Universal Basic Income or UBI.

Elon Musk, CEO of US automotive and energy storage company Tesla, presents his outlook on climate change at the Paris-Sorbonne University in Paris on December 2, 2015. / AFP / ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

Elon Musk, CEO of US automotive and energy storage company Tesla, presents his outlook on climate change at the Paris-Sorbonne University in Paris on December 2, 2015. / AFP / ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

Let’s face it: The shrinking middle class during the past 30 years is a major cause of serious political disruptions with populist causes taking hold on both sides of the Pond.

Pew Research revealed that 62 percent of Americans were categorized as middle class in 1970, falling to 43 percent in 2014.

Conversely, 29 percent of Americans were upper class in 1970, rising to 49 percent in 2014.

Lower class was essentially flat from 10 percent to 9 percent during these 44 years.

Almost DailyBrett is concerned that aggressive moves toward ever higher minimum wages may entice even more potential employers to seriously explore using even more machines, which don’t require the payment of benefits (e.g., medical, vision and dental), and don’t demand days off.robots1

And who would be most impacted by displacement by machines and robots? The middle class? The lower class? Both?

Under the failed Universal Basic Income (UBI) plebiscite in Switzerland earlier this year, displaced workers would have received an annual salary of $30,660 for a single, $61,320 for a couple and $76,728 for a family of four … placing them in the higher echelons of middle-income America … but without exerting any effort.

How does UBI square with the Protestant Work Ethic?

Funding A New Leisure Class

“People will have time to do other things and more complex things, more interesting things. [They will] certainly have more leisure time.” – Elon Musk

“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” – President John F. Kennedy

“Given the crisis that we are in and the hardships that so many people are going through, we can’t allow any idle hands. Everybody has to get involved, everybody has to pitch in and I think the American people are ready to do that” – President Barack Obama

Earlier, Almost DailyBrett wrote about the record number of working-age men (e.g., 20-54), who are voluntarily not seeking a job … any job. Instead, they are averaging 5.5 hours per day playing video games, accessing streaming video and watching HDTV. That’s a shocking loss of brainpower and manpower, the type that President Kennedy said could be in service to the country.

Would UBI exacerbate this unacceptable trend, essentially making it politically acceptable to displace able workers with even smarter machines? The net result would be even more wards of the state with little or nothing to do. Idle hands will indeed rule.

The question still persists: Should millions of able-bodied people be paid to do nothing? Will they earn their paychecks? How will UBI be funded, if America becomes a donut with a huge whole in the middle — little or zero middle class?

Will the majority of these recipients ultimately become miserable on the certain road to death?

If all one is doing is running out the clock (e.g., playing video games and checking out social media) until that inevitable day arrives, then what is the purpose of life?

Maybe UBI is not so smart after all? Whattyathink Mr. Musk?

http://mashable.com/2016/11/05/elon-musk-universal-basic-income/#dmtbn21mkmq8

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

http://www.voanews.com/a/a-13-2009-01-20-voa6-68822097/413577.html

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/idle.html

http://fortune.com/video/2016/11/07/elon-musk-wants-universal-basic-income/

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/millions-of-active-women-supporting-millions-of-idle-men/

 

 

 

 

 

“ … You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘Basket of Deplorables’. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.” – Hillary Clinton, Speaking at a Democratic-oriented fundraiser, Sept. 9, 2016hillarydeplorables

“ … There are 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it … And so my job is not to worry about those people.” – Mitt Romney, Speaking at a Republican-oriented fundraiser, Sept. 18, 2012

A gaffe is a gaffe is a gaffe … You name it! … Uttered by two electoral losers and separated by four years, plus a week or two.

It is never a good idea to insult literally millions of potential voters with a series of unfortunate and intemperate fighting words. So why engage in name calling just because the immediate audience is friendly and having a great time at the expense of others?

As Nancy Reagan would say: “Just say no.”

In our digital age, the microphones are more sensitive and effective than ever. The tiny cameras and video recorders are disguised as smart phones, and they’re first rate. They are always ‘on,’ which means the candidates too must be always ‘on.’

Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly and consistently counseled that it is always wise to be offensive without being offensive. Advance and advocate your point of view, but always be respectful of all voters. They are more than mere demographics to be hunted down with search engines guided by algorithms.

There are many shaking their heads and washing their hands wondering why Hillary Clinton is not forming an administration today. The same was true, questioning why Mitt Romney was not preparing his inaugural address four years ago.romney47

The simple answer is both were seriously flawed candidates, who twice embarked upon a presidential campaign odyssey (Hillary, 2008 and 2016; Mitt, 2008 and 2012) and came up short.

Breaking the Blue Wall

“Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard-working people. I think it will cost her at the Polls!” – President-elect Donald Trump Tweet about Hillary’s ‘Basket of Deplorables’ comment

There were so many political experts who wondered out loud for weeks whether The Donald had a realistic Electoral College road-map to the Presidency. They used Poker analogies to suggest that Trump had to run an unlikely, inside-straight to win.

Pundit thinking and conventional wisdom revolved around the conjecture that all of the Barack Obama states from 2008 and 2012 were safely tucked away behind the Blue (State) Wall (e.g., Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa).bluewall

As it turned out, Trump did not have a perfect poker hand as he lost Virginia and Colorado, but did manage to hold Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. The real damage occurred as die blaue Mauer crumbled, overturning the Keystone, Wolverine, Dairy and Hawkeye States and their collective 52 electoral votes and placing them into Trump’s red column.

As the ballots are still being counted, Trump won more than 60 million votes. How many of these people were offended about being pigeonholed as racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic Deplorables? The fundraising audience laughed at her description and answered affirmatively to Hillary’s question, “Right?”

To be fair, Almost DailyBrett must point out that Hillary subsequently apologized for this unfortunate stereotype, but the toothpaste was already out of the tube, the bell had already been wrung, the bullet was already out of the chamber …

Was the ‘Deplorables’ remark the only reason that Hillary lost the presidency to a seriously flawed alternative? The answer is obviously negative, and all of the post-mortems will point to a litany of reasons, some valid, some not.

This blog on several occasions (e.g., Outrageous Al Smith Memorial Dinner remarks) scored Trump for time-after-time failing to demonstrate political discipline.

As it turns out he was not the only one, who strayed off script and may have caused a wall to crumble and for a new era to begin.

One must wonder whether Hillary is waking up in the middle of the night and thinking: ‘What could have been …?’

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/09/09/clinton-half-of-trumps-supporters-fit-in-basket-of-deplorables/

https://newrepublic.com/article/138615/deplorables-got-last-laugh

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/full-transcript-mitt-romney-secret-video

 

 

In military terms, is it ever wise to launch a frontal attack from a position of weakness?

What happens if the Oliver Stone-directed political offensive … not to be confused with his offensive-to-many movie, “Snowden” … fails to convince a lame-duck Barack Obama in his final days, if not the last day, to pardon Edward Snowden of Russia?

Wouldn’t you then expect the Clemency-4-Snowden crowd to shift the focus of its public relations thrust toward the new administration of one, Hillary Clinton?

Wait a minute. Didn’t Snowden use Twitter’s 140 characters last June 1 to essentially contrast himself with Hillary in a very unflattering and politically damaging manner? Was that smart? Do you think he would like to take those words back?snowdentweet2

Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly contended that Digital is Eternal. Heck, maybe even Donald Trump’s handlers are trying to keep him away from Twitter before he infuriates, bloviates and pontificates once again.

Your author has already predicted a fawning Snowden blockbuster movie – check – an epic New York Times bestseller – still to be checked –  university commencement addresses – still to be checked – and most importantly of all, the presidential pardon – still to be checked.

The pardon question comes down to three people: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.snowdenmovie

Probable? Improbable? NFW?

“Mr. Snowden has been charged with serious crimes, and it’s the policy of the administration that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States and face those charges. The fact is the manner in which Mr. Snowden chose to disclose this information damaged the United States, harmed our national security, and put the American people at greater risk.”White House press secretary Josh Earnest

As a former gubernatorial press secretary, Almost DailyBrett knows that a categorical statement uttered by the press secretary – “… it’s the policy of the administration … “did not arise from spontaneous generation. The question of Snowden’s pardon was anticipated, and the official response was preordained and preapproved.

Does that mean the case is closed? Absolutely not. Any administration can simply disavow a prior statement by reciting that was then, and this is now.

Is it right? Of course not, but these rhetorical gymnastics are a fixture of political life.

Back to Obama, Hillary and The Donald, not necessarily in ascending order.

Will anything involving a Snowden pardon occur before November 8? Nyet.

If Donald Trump is elected the 45th president of the United States on November 8, is there any chance that he would pardon Edward Snowden? Two chances: Zero and less than zero.snowdentweet

A Trump election would result in a frantic push by the Hollywood, ACLU, academic and progressive crowd, who celebrate Snowden as a patriot without quotation marks, exhibiting relentless pressure on Obama. He may relent; he may not. Almost DailyBrett is taking the “over.”

If Hillary Clinton is elected the 45th president of the United States on November 8, is there any chance that she would pardon Edward Snowden, especially in light of his snarky Tweet against her? The Clintons never forget. Period. Almost DailyBrett takes the “under” on Hillary pardoning Edward Snowden.

This exercise brings us back to Barack Obama. If Hillary is a likely “no” and The Donald is a “hell no,” then the hopes of the Oliver Stone-crowd lies solely and squarely on Obama.

Was it smart for Snowden to publicly insult Hillary Clinton at a time he needs friends and not more enemies? Let’s ask the question another way: Does it ever help your cause to be snarky and sassy, particularly when you are living “free” in Russia at the unpredictable pleasure of Vladimir Putin?

Do the words, “gulag” and “Siberia” ring a bell?

The rest of your life is a long-time Mr. Snowden. Wonder how many more Russian winters you will endure? Maybe you should think about that before firing out even more intemperate social media missiles.

http://www.popsci.com/edward-snowden-tweets-photo-his-own-hillary-clinton-protest-tweet

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/can-oliver-stones-snowden-convince-the-world-that-its-subject-is-not-a-traitor/2016/09/14/61e88768-79b4-11e6-bd86-b7bbd53d2b5d_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/09/15/republicans-and-some-democrats-fight-back-against-snowden-clemency-campaign/?wpisrc=nl_politics&wpmm=1

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3774114/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/the-coming-presidential-pardon-of-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/pr-advice-for-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/apples-indefensible-september-10-attitude/

“We had an enormous, world-historic campaign catastrophe.” Matt Bennett, former Michael Dukakis presidential campaign volunteer

I didn’t give it another thought.” – Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

You don’t put stuff on your head if you’re president. That’s Politics 101.” – President Barack Obama

Does anybody remember Michael Dukakis wearing a combat helmet, riding around in an M1A1-Abrahms Main Battle tank in September 1988, to prove he was tough enough for the presidency?

**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** **FILE*** This Sept. 13, 1988 file photo shows Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as he gets a free ride in one of General Dynamics' new M1-A-1 battle tanks at its land systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich. (AP Photo/Michael E. Samojeden, FILE)

**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** **FILE*** This Sept. 13, 1988 file photo shows Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as he gets a free ride in one of General Dynamics’ new M1-A-1 battle tanks at its land systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich. (AP Photo/Michael E. Samojeden, FILE)

He just didn’t look right in the way-too-big battle helmet for a candidate who was a little guy … literally.

Dukakis looked even worse riding around in a battle tank circle-after-circle in front of 90 laughing reporters. The tank photo op was a bad idea in which someone … anyone with authority … on the Dukakis campaign needed not only to say, “no,” but “hell no.”

It was only a matter of nanoseconds before the tank footage found its way into the tender mercies of Bush media Meister Roger Ailes and campaign director Lee Atwater. They leapt like coiled vipers and quickly came up with a devastating advertisement, questioning Dukakis’ record on national defense and using the “goofy” tank footage to drive home the point.

What is really sad is that Dukakis advance dude Bennett had put on the very same helmet, looked into the mirror and concluded he looked silly in it. He was convinced it would come across even worse on the diminutive governor.

He called the Boston headquarters to warn them to cancel the event. No one listened. The rest is political history.

When Almost DailyBrett reflects back on this avoidable public relations disaster, one needs to contemplate that Twitter was still a bird, Facebook was a scrap-book, and the name “LinkedIn” would draw blank expressions. And what was a YouTube in 1988?

Today, Web 2.0 (e.g., blogging and social media) would take the tank catastrophe and spread to all corners of the globe within five minutes.

“Which Ever Way the Wind Blows”

Facebook was just being hatched in a Harvard dorm room in 2004. Twitter was two years away from being born. And yet there were millions chatting away on the Internet.kerrywindsurf

Some were discussing John Kerry going one way on his wind-surfing board, and then going the other way, before turning around and then heading in the other direction once again. The footage was set to the Blue Danube Waltz, courtesy of President George W. Bush’s campaign.

The point, which John Kerry’s unfortunate photo-op aided and abetted, was that Kerry was a flip-flopper, particularly in this voting pattern on the Iraq War. The Nantucket windsurfing image, the resulting ad and other factors helped convince the electorate that Kerry was not ready for the White House.bushmission

This is not to suggest that Bush was totally adept at photo opportunities. The “Mission Accomplished” banner on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln to declare the end of the Iraq War in 2003 was quickly and repeatedly mocked as the Iraqi insurgency inflicted years of casualties on American troops in the region.

Hillary, the Subway and Five Swipes of the Metro Card

“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.” – English Idiom

All of this Almost DailyBrett reminiscing brings us to the question of Hillary and the New York Subway platform. That damn electronic MetroCard (sorry Bernie the NYC Subway doesn’t use “tokens” anymore) took five agonizing swipes to finally work for Madam Secretary Clinton.hillarycard

Alas, it was only a matter of time before Saturday Night Live (SNL) would turn the subway platform snafu into a skit, also reminding everyone that Hillary has lost seven-out-of-her-last-eight contests to Bernie.

Was the temperamental subway scanner a metaphor of the state of the Clinton campaign?

Wasn’t the advance team supposed to “grease” the card scanner to make damn sure it always worked for Hillary? Isn’t that the job of the advance dudes and dudettes?

Politicians using props and photo opportunities to provide images for campaigns goes back to kissing babies and whistle-stop speeches.

And yet the rules have changed, where the little gets magnified and the catastrophic becomes digitally viral in nanoseconds.

Hillary’s ultimate electoral fate most likely will not be decided because of the humorous Hillary-on-the-subway platform goof-up (Has the former senator from New York ever ridden the subway before?). The “reset button” with now recalcitrant Russia may be more egregious. Guess Hillary knows a thing or two about symbols that go wrong.hillaryreset

Having said that, American political history is riddled with stories of photo-ops gone wrong (e.g., Nixon walking the beach in San Clemente in dress slacks and wingtips). Now with mobile devices and social media the tender-loving-care needed to stage these events is greater than ever.

And if a campaign tanks, the pain will not be felt within hours, but in seconds instead.

http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/presidential-elections/videos/tank-ride

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/dukakis-and-the-tank-099119

http://archive.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/09/23/bush_ad_plays_on_kerry_windsurfing/

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwQkBfBs958

http://time.com/4285452/hillary-clinton-new-york-subay-metrocard-turnstile/

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/04/10/snl-hillary-clinton-subway-newday.cnn/video/playlists/snl-politics/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/michele-bachmann-nyc-subway_us_5707d7bce4b04bf520ff4da0

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-new-york-saturday-night-live_us_570a58a9e4b01422324940ef

 

 

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