Tag Archive: Chairman Mao


“In the darkness, we found the light. Introducing a new era of electronic driving.” – Volkswagen’s new advertising campaign tagline

“Hello, darkness, my old friend; I’ve come to talk to you again …” – Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s, “The Sounds of Silence”

Is the best defense a good offense?

Is the most effective present-day defense utilizing a Baby Boomer anthem and harkening back to the 1960s with its brightly colored Volkswagen Beetles and (Hippie) Microvans?

After being rightfully bashed and bloodied starting in the autumn of 2015 for deploying defeat software to deceive anti-pollution testing of its vehicles (Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche), heads rightfully started to roll at Volkswagen AG corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

On the line with “Dieselgate” was Volkswagen’s brand, but also the reputation of Germany’s legendary designers and engineers. Consider, there is probably no nation on earth that prides itself more than Germany for its commitment to the environment (note the recent electoral successes of die Grünen).

The Volkswagen cheating scandal was akin to catching a falling knife. Using another well-worn metaphor, the shocking story has legs and has been running unabated for nearly four years.

The scandal started in September, 2015 when the U.S. EPA charged Volkswagen with using illegal (air quality testing) manipulation devices. A related Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation was launched. Volkswagen’s chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn was fired.

A continuous chorus of charges, fines, lawsuits, increased governmental regulation, falling stock prices and recalls mounted against Volkswagen and its Audi and Porsche subsidiaries. Last year, German authorities indicted Winterkorn on aggravated fraud charges.

Almost DailyBrett noted that Volkswagen did not follow to the letter the four basic tenets of Crisis Communications: Tell The Truth, Tell It All, Tell It Fast and Move On. In many ways Volkswagen management was just hoping this mess would simply subside.

Volkswagen management, employees, shareholders and even Kanzlerin Merkel and the German government had to confront the metaphorical Scheisse-Sandwich … you don’t nibble.

Back To The Drawing Board

At some point, the world’s largest automobile designer/manufacturer would have to go back on offense.

In doing so, Volkswagen realized it could not assume a business-as-usual approach.

Ultimately, Volkswagen appreciated that it has to acknowledge its wrongdoing, beg for forgiveness, and somehow, someway commence the hard work of rebranding … essentially moving on.

Volkswagen of America hired New York’s Johannes Leonardo advertising agency, and secured the rights to “The Sounds of Silence.”

The question posed to VW management: Can a major ad buy (part of a reported $2 billion campaign) for its 1:45 second spot featuring a Baby Boomer/Yuppie anthem make everything right in the world for Volkswagen?

In and of itself, the answer is obviously: no.

Almost DailyBrett has always believed that Volkswagen is engaged in a marathon, not a sprint. Volkswagen’s story, which began in 1937, deserves another chapter.

Americans are credited for being an understanding people. They will not forget, but are they willing to forgive and give … even a corporate entity … another chance?

The Johannes Leonardo creative, which debuted with the NBA Finals and the NHL’s Stanley Cup last week, is edgy as it literally starts in the darkness with a news announcer directly referencing the Volkswagen scandal.

One suspects that securing VW’s management approval for an open acknowledgement of moral failure was easier said than done. As Chairman Mao found out, the long-march back starts with the first step.

In our world of advertising bombast and overkill, it’s the extremely clever advertisement that stops the viewer in his or her tracks and commands attention.

The dark Sounds of Silence images convey going back to the drawing board. The result is the coming resurrection of the VW microvan … a concept vehicle for now … with the message the company’s environmentally friendly electric vehicle does not contribute to climate change. Volkswagen envisions 22 EVs (electric vehicles) by 2028, and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Volkswagen has stumbled for nearly four torturous years. The questions are with its new ad campaign and beyond: Has the company finally learned its lesson, and are we as consumers willing to forgive, while certainly not forgetting?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEvNL6oEr0U

https://www.fastcompany.com/90359361/volkswagen-aims-for-feel-good-redemption-in-new-major-ad-campaign

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a27784322/vw-hello-light-commercial-column/

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/dieselgate-timeline-germanys-car-emissions-fraud-scandal

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/business/winterkorn-volkswagen-emissions-scandal.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkiley5/2019/06/06/vw-goes-back-to-the-future-in-new-ad-campaign-to-put-dieselgate-in-rear-view/#1026a00d3aa5

https://www.vw.com/

http://johannesleonardo.com/

“We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.” – Chelsea Clinton responding to vile remarks by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota)

“I’m so sorry that you feel that way. Certainly, it was never my intention. I do believe words matter. I believe we have to show solidarity.” – Chelsea Clinton apologizing to NYU students

There is a time-and-place for everything, including offering first-ever sympathy to a member of the privileged Clinton family.

There are some misguided souls who contend the First Daughter stepped in rhetorical excrement, when she dared to voice disapproval of Rep Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks.

When Chelsea subsequently went to a NYU commemoration service for the 50+ fatalities of the Christchurch mosque shootings, she was quickly disinvited by moral high-ground students.

These rocket scientists suggested that Chelsea with her condemnation of anti-Semitism actually aided-and-abetted the New Zealand mosque massacres by some crazy from Australia.

What?

Almost DailyBrett is missing the “logical” connection between Chelsea’s appropriate remarks against anti-Semitism and their supposed inducement of hate crimes directed at mosques on the other side of the planet. Maybe someone can explain the cause and effect … or maybe not.

Chelsea subsequently apologized for standing up for the long-oppressed-and-persecuted Jewish community, and having the courage to condemn Rep. Omar’s repeated anti-Semitism.

Meanwhile over at CNN, Democratic political strategist Paul Begala labeled President Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his converted-to-Judaism First Daughter, Ivanka, as “cockroaches.”

Reminds this author of Rev. Louis Farrakhan’s remarks, stating he was not anti-Semitic, but “anti-Termite.” Almost DailyBrett fully expects Begala to have both wrists slapped with a follow-up pat on the posterior by the anti-Trump hierarchy at CNN.

In direct contrast to Chelsea, Begala did not and most likely will never apologize for his cockroaches’ remark and will live to offend another day.

By defending Chelsea in this case Almost DailyBrett is proclaiming here and now, he is not going soft on the Clintons. Your author has a proud perfect record of voting against the Clintons: Bill in both 1992 and 1996, and Hillary in 2016.

If Chelsea runs for president as your author predicted in 2016, she will not want to be seen in any way, shape or form as being anti-Muslim by standing up against those who resort to anti-Semitism … thus the apology.

This blog has also taken issue with the outrageous $600,000 payments by Brian Williams’ NBC News for four “reports” produced by the First Daughter, even without the benefit of a Journalism degree or past experience in the field.

America’s “Cultural Revolution”?

“The air is full of accusation and humiliation. We have seen this spirit most famously on the campuses, where students protest harshly, sometimes violently, views they wish to suppress.” – WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan

Taking care not to be overly dramatic in her words, Noonan made comparisons to China’s Cultural Revolution of the 1960s/1970s in which Chairman Mao called upon China’s university students to weed out the nation’s intelligentsia, particularly those who were deemed to be not following the party line.

Is the same occurring on America’s college campuses, particularly those Hollywood-and-hedge fund manager types (e.g., Lori Loughlin of “Full House”) conspired to gain unjustified admission for their party-hard offspring?

Chairman Mao used students as the “Red Guards” to police and ultimately silence anybody not following the collectivist agenda.

In direct comparison, American universities have a record of disinviting accomplished women such as International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde (Smith College), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Rutgers University), and now Chelsea (NYU).

Are these students exhibiting misogyny and maybe in one case, demonstrating racism, or do social justice progressive principles negate any concerns that apply to sexism, racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism?

Do these students have any concerns about anti-Semitism?

CNN doesn’t seem to care, so why should these elite-university students?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/video/cnns-paul-begala-criticized-for-comparing-ivanka-trump-jared-kushner-to-cockroaches/vp-BBUMrRn

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny-news-lori-loughlin-hires-ex-enron-prosecutor-20190318-story.html

http://www.peggynoonan.com/get-ready-for-the-struggle-session/

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/cnn-paul-begala-slammed-for-referring-to-ivanka-trump-jared-kushner-as-cockroaches

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/chelseas-nbc-600k-tv-gig-and-aspiring-journalists/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/chelseas-presidency/

Remember when people were content to be unambitious, sleep until 11, hang out with their friends? You had no occupation whatsoever, maybe working a couple of hours a week at a coffee shop … Portland is a city where young people go to retire.” – Lyrics to the Portlandia theme song, “The Dream of the 90s Is Alive in Portland”portlandia90s

You don’t set an alarm. Why would you? You don’t need to. You wake up … whenever.

You reach over to your mobile device …Ahh, yes … your $2,555 + $642 for each dependent child monthly UBI (Universal Basic Income) check has been direct deposited into your communal credit union account.

Your minimal effort wage amounts to an annual salary of $30,660 for a single, $61,320 for a couple and $76,728 for a family of four.

Life is good. Life is always good. There are no more challenges.

Should you go back to sleep or do whatever?

What time is it anyway?

Since you don’t wear a watch, you really don’t know or care … You sleep comfortably knowing that you are — through your inaction — contributing to the end of welfare as we know it. The reason: The “safety net” extends to us all.UBI

Many support free education as a matter of right. But let’s pose an obvious question right now: Why do you need an education when a paycheck is heading your way regardless of what you know or don’t know?

Literally tens of thousands of Americans back extending Medicare benefits to everyone as a matter of right. Certainly Medicare-for-all will be an extension of Universal Basic Income (UBI). Right?

And how many on the left and on the right have complained vocally about our welfare system with its unemployment insurance, food stamps and disability programs?

Why not include everyone and be done with it?

Switzerland already voted on Universal Basic Income last month. It was nip-and-tuck, but UBI came up on the short-end, 77-23 percent.UBIBern

Fret not; every worthwhile movement endures character-building setbacks at the onset only to prevail. Didn’t Chairman Mao’s Long March begin with the first step? Besides, won’t we all eventually vote our self-interest for free-money from the government as a basic right?

Is There A Catch?

With any nifty proposition, there are always those naysayers who may raise some annoying questions about UBI.

What about the $20 trillion national debt and counting? Wouldn’t UBI become the ultimate entitlement program sending the stratospheric red-ink ledger out of the galaxy?

Wait a minute: Isn’t money simply a creation of capitalistic greed? And doesn’t the basic right to income trump (no pun intended) alles?

For example, the nattering nabobs of negativism will want to know how UBI will be financed. Easy, the ill-begot profits of publicly traded companies and related Wall Street transaction taxes will be redistributed to a fund for UBI payouts.

Instead of putting resources into new innovation, building a business, paying out dividends and rewarding stellar employees, the entrepreneurs/achievers at publicly traded companies and unicorns will redirect via the government the remainder (e.g., profit) between revenues and expenses to pay UBI recipients.

What would happen to corporations, companies, start-ups and small businesses, their employees and the products, we use on any given day? What would be their incentive to invest, meet challenges and overachieve?

Regardless of what you do or not do, a UBI check is going to be deposited into your checking account. So why make a fuss?UBI

Would global competitors (e.g., Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India) follow suit and provide UBI payments to their citizens? Or (gasp) would they continue to compete and work up-to-six-days-per-week to swiftly replace us as the leading economic power on the planet?

Maybe Almost DailyBrett is being a little too skeptical, and hopefully not cynical.

UBI proponents point to the end of capitalism as if that is a desirable goal. With UBI, we would all be grateful for (dependent on) the largesse of the nanny state. The much-vilified Clintonian welfare system would end. Conceivably, the leisure industry would prosper because everyone would be on permanent vacation.

And yet your blog author is primarily bothered by one overriding concern: Is it right to receive money for something I did not earn?

Let’s all compete to the best of our ability and see what happens. Hopefully, there will be more than a few shekels for us all instead of a paycheck we didn’t earn.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/03/technology/plan-to-fight-robot-invasion-at-work-give-everyone-a-paycheck.html?_r=0

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBt4HlcDUDw

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/universal-basic-income/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36454060

http://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-06-06/universal-basic-income-is-ahead-of-its-time-to-say-the-least

https://www.google.com/#q=625+Swiss+francs+to+dollars

 

 

 

 

 

Or is it Outsourcing to Insourcing?

Did I just buy a computer that was made in (gasp) Communist China?

Is this unpatriotic? Or is it patriotic?

Did Chairman Mao just turn over in his grave?

mao

These questions seem to suggest not only how much yours truly has changed, but how the world has shifted its attitudes and business practices in the past four decades.

One suspects that Henry Kissinger knew that his secret trip to China in 1971 had the potential to change the geopolitical balance of affairs, but the question is how much? And it is clear that Deng Xiaoping altered China for the better by coming to the obvious conclusion that Capitalism even with its well-documented flaws is still light years better than Cultural Revolutions and collective farms.

Having said that, it is Big Leap Forward from Kissinger’s sub-rosa journey and Deng’s landmark reforms to the significance of my purchase of a Lenovo Ideapad laptop for $600 (Best Buy) powered by an Intel Core i5 microprocessor (Santa Clara, CA) and controlled by Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system (Redmond, WA).

And now good ole boys and girls in Whitsett, North Carolina are hard at work producing more PCs, hybrid PCs/tablets (e.g, Lenovo Yoga) and servers for a company that was started in 1984 by a $25,000 state (Chinese Academy of Sciences) investment…the state that brought a chilling new meaning to the words, Tiananmen Square.

Yep, I bought a laptop from a company that was created by an investment made by Communist China and held its first meetings in a guard shack.

Back in days of the Evil Empire, I made my first trip overseas…and not to a place in which most post-college bachelors go for vacation: Russia. It was the 1981 Soviet Union of that fun-loving guy, Leonid Brezhnev.

Upon returning my maternal grandfather told me there were two places he never wanted to go to: One was hell; the other…you guessed it.

Just as if it was yesterday, I remember after a performance of the Bolshoi Ballet standing on the edge of Red Square with the onion-dome masterpiece, flood-lit St. Basil’s, on the opposite end…Ground Zero of the Cold War. Deep down inside I was hoping that this would be neither the time nor the place for a thermonuclear confrontation, particularly at that exact time.

Reflecting back on my visit to the country of 11 time zones, which is a must for any student of modern history and politics, I can see the average people packed like sardines into trolley cars, while the most equal-of-the-equals zipped on by in special lanes for their Zil limos. The USSR even took Diner’s Club, Carte Blanche along with Visa and American Express. When were the Reds coming back?

I didn’t like Communism before I made this trip. I liked it even less after my visit.

If you asked me at the time, if I would ever buy any product made by a communist country that treats its people as if they were sheep, the answer would be an emphatic, “nyet” or “het” in Cyrillic.

lenovoideapad

Serving as a director of corporate public relations for a Silicon Valley hardware innovator and later as a vice president for an international public relations agency, I wore out at least three IBM Think Pad laptops.

“What’s this blue screen?” I would ask one of our all-knowing IT managers. “Ah, did you back up your files?” I was asked. “What if I didn’t? I replied. Welcome to the “Blue Screen of Death.”

Little did I appreciate was that IBM (e.g., Itty Bitty Machines) was outsourcing a portion of its ThinkPad business to China’s Lenovo, and then Big Blue outright sold the its corporate PC business to Lenovo in 2005. I have been using a Chinese laptop for the better part of a decade, and last year I doubled downed on this bet.

Reading about Lenovo, I discovered that English is the $30 billion company’s official business language. It maintains two headquarters, one predictably in Beijing, and the other at IBM’s former PC hub in Morristown, NC. And just this year, Lenovo started manufacturing in the aforementioned Whitsett in the Tar heel State.

Let’s see…IBM outsourced a portion of its PC business to China, taking advantage of lower Chinese manufacturing costs and giving the company greater access to the world’s largest market. Eventually IBM (which invented the PC in 1981) sold the business to Lenovo. And now global market share leader Lenovo is outsourcing a portion of its PC business to the United States or insourcing the business in North Carolina, if you prefer that point of view.

Topping it off, China is becoming a more expensive place to manufacture with each passing day and the US is getting cheaper as demand for skilled Chinese labor is going up. The Pacific Ocean is just as big as ever and shipping costs are a major factor. Cost parity is expected in two years.  Lenovo is outsourcing PC production to the United States, bringing it closer to US customers and key suppliers including Intel and Microsoft.

Does this mean that buying a Chinese computer is patriotic? That seems like a stretch, particularly for a guy who saw the Evil Empire up close and personal.

If you agree that buying a Chinese computer is actually patriotic, then financing the nation’s $17.4 billion debt through China occasions playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

So why are we upset about outsourcing?

And what is the true meaning of outsourcing anyway?

Or is it actually insourcing?

Who the heck knows?

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21569572-after-decades-sending-work-across-world-companies-are-rethinking-their-offshoring

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21569398-how-did-lenovo-become-worlds-biggest-computer-company-guard-shack-global-giant

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/05/focus

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

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100651692

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

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

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

http://news.lenovo.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=1635

“You control the debt; you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.” – Actor Luca Giorgio Barbareschi as arms producer, Umberto Calvini, in The International.

luca

We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next 10 years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place.” – President Barack Obama on Good Morning America.

Guess the first quote in particular explains why Southwest Airlines sends me a sustainable Visa credit card application every week. And I thought Southwest just wanted to fly me to different places on the map.

It’s an airline, not a bank…Right? And yet, the “other” income line on Southwest’s annual income statement rose from $490 million in 2010 to $765 million in 2011 and to $835 million in 2012. Is there any doubt that credit card debt payments are included in LUV’s “other” income?

Can you say, “ka-ching?”

For a while it was Victoria Secret catalogues that were relentless. All they wanted was for me to admire the eye candy photography, and then to spend money for skimpy delightful things here and spend more money for skimpier delightful things there.

Southwest Airlines is using the prospect of two “free” tickets to entice a longer (month-to-month) commitment. They want servitude at 18 percent or higher interest. My Banana Republic card charges 24 percent interest, if I make the unfortunate decision to run a balance.

It would be easy to dismiss The International as just a 2009 film, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, which was either loved or panned by the critics. Looking deeper, the movie is based upon the Bank of Credit and Commerce International scandal (e.g., money laundering/financial crimes) of the 1980s. The now-defunct $20 billion bank with 30,000 employees was chartered in Luxembourg before it was shut down by regulators.

BCCI

The sinister bank in the movie is called The International Bank of Business and Credit…surprise, surprise…also based in Luxembourg. This is no coincidence.

One must wonder whether then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger actually knew what he was doing when he made his historic secret trip to the People’s Republic of China in 1971. Soon thereafter. his boss President Richard Milhous Nixon, was toasting Chairman Mao, relaxing tensions between American democracy and Chinese communism just a smidge.

Little did anyone know that this trip led to the unthinkable: Marxist China would become the credit card bank for the majority of America’s record $17.4 trillion debt (and counting). And yet this debt, which equates to more than 100 percent of the nation’s GDP,  is deemed “sustainable” by the leader of the free world.

As the ad by Citizens Against Government Waste suggests will our sons and daughters be working for China to repay the debt. Will China control everything? Will we as a nation become slaves to the debt? Have we already crossed this threshold?

Recently, CNBC reported based upon figures from the U.S. Census that debt-carrying U.S. households had “dropped” from 74 percent in 2000 to 69 percent in 2011 with a median debt load of $70,000. Does that mean that we should be popping champagne corks because Americans holding credit card debt “decreased” from 51-38 percent in those same years. For seniors, the average debt is $26,000.

Shouldn’t our seasoned citizens be safe and secure in their Golden Years?

If a debt plane slammed into a New York skyscraper or torpedoed a battleship in Hawaiian waters, we would certainly rally as a nation. The issue is that debt accumulation is stealth and silent. The sun comes up the next day. The birds chirp away. The bees buzz. Life goes on to the tune of nearly $1 trillion of new debt each year, let alone the mounting debt loads for states, municipalities, homeowners and credit card holders.

debtclock

Why should we worry?

The banks are happy. States (e.g., China) that serve as banks are happy. And we are mostly happy too. After all our slavery to debt is “manageable.”

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100582392

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_International_%282009_film%29

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

http://www.quotefully.com/movie/The+International/Umberto+Calvini

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/03/president-obama-there-is-no-debt-crisis/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LUumD0MwL8

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