Tag Archive: Punditocracy


Who do reporters, editors, correspondents and pundits respect the most?

The answer: Fellow reporters, editors, correspondents and pundits.

And seemingly all of them are thinking alike.

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Especially during my tenure as a gubernatorial press secretary, the author of Almost DailyBrett was often flabbergasted by the theories developed out of thin air by the media about why A. occurred or why B. happened.

Keep in mind we are talking about the late 1980s, long before ubiquitous mobile devices and 140-character Twitter president-elect proclamations.

In Sacramento, many of these postulations and theories were developed at Frank Fat’s or some other watering hole. Seemingly, the more drinks consumed the closer the media bonded, and a consensus was eventually reached about a budding theory.

The reason this dubious habit is important, is that press secretaries need to be aware of what the media are saying to themselves, and what conclusions they are collectively making. There is better than a 50/50 chance these theories will be brought to your governor’s attention for a response in a news conference or media briefing.

Fast forward to the present day and the insular habit has not changed, but the way these theories and postulations are transmitted among the media has shifted radically … namely Twitter.

Yes, Donald Trump is not the only one using/misusing social media Twitter for 140-character-or-less pontifications and bloviations.

“If Everyone is Thinking Alike, Then Someone Isn’t Thinking.” – General George S. Patton

Gotta love General George.

The conventional thinking to date was that President Harry Truman’s come-from-behind victory over New York Governor Thomas Dewey in 1948 was the greatest upset in presidential campaign history.

Scratch that thought. Last month’s victory by Donald Trump over prohibitive favorite Hillary Clinton shocked the nation, and particularly confounded the-everyone-is-thinking-alike elite media/punditocracy.

Considering that most of them habitat a skinny island east of the Hudson River or are confined within the Beltway, it is easy to understand how prevailing sentiment and conventional wisdom becomes exactly that: prevailing sentiment and conventional wisdom.

As Otto von Bismarck was famously quoted, those who appreciate sausage and the law should see neither of them made. Maybe the same is true for how the elite media/punditocracy reaches consensus of their version of reality.

First: the political class virtually ignores digital democratization. For example, the second (town hall) debate between The Donald and Hillary drew a record 17 million tweets and 92.4 million Facebook likes, posts, comments and shares.

during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. This is the second of three presidential debates scheduled prior to the November 8th election.

Town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. This is the second of three presidential debates scheduled prior to the November 8th election.

Conceivably, the elite media had access to a treasure trove of digital input from the public. True not all of it is accurate and relevant, but turning it all aside is a manifestation of arrogance. In their defense, the elite media may ask: ‘Where do you start?’ Almost DailyBrett opines the media should not ignore the anxiety of John and Mary Q. Citizen from Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania. Angst Matters.

Second: The elite media/punditocracy engages in restricted collusion. Instead of using digital media to access outside sources, they instead employ Twitter and networked laptops and mobile devices to talk exclusively to each other. The most egregious case is when news aggregator Buzz Feed announced the winner of the first 2012 Obama vs. Romney debate, 45 minutes before the closing statements.

And once the debate was over, the media pile-on session ensued to the detriment of President Barack Obama.

Third: The digital democratization crowd contends that more public input via social, mobile and cloud will result in a continuous weakening of Agenda Setting Theory or the notion that elite media (i.e., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC …) not only frame the national agenda, but they actually provide intellectual guidance to a grateful nation.

As it turns out, the opposite was true. Media collusion via digital media actually strengthened, not weakened Agenda Setting Theory.

Fourth: And probably the most important point of all, the Real Clear Politics Right Track/Wrong Track barometer has been consistently below the Mendoza Line. You do not run a “Morning in America” stay-the-course campaign when 32.1 percent believe the country is on the right track and conversely 55.7 percent contend the country is on the wrong track.

Did the elite media really pay attention to the Right Track/Wrong Track barometer? Did they ask the real folks across the fruited plain why they are so disappointed, frustrated and downright angry? Did they question why Hillary Clinton ran a status-quo campaign in a change year?

msnbcelection1

This is not the first time the author of Almost DailyBrett picked a fight with those who buy ink-by-the-barrel. Let’s face it, the elite media/punditocracy needed to open up their collective ears and listen to the chorus from the hinterland. Instead they mounted their ivory towers and proclaimed that Hillary was the candidate with all of the experience, all of the endorsements, most of the money, and the GOTV operation to win the presidency in a cakewalk.

Upon quiet reflection in the aftermath, these elite reporters and prominent pundits may want to drop the arrogance for a nanosecond or two, and consider the reason why each of them was given two ears and only one mouth.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/drinking-their-own-bath-water/

http://www.thewrap.com/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-presidential-debate-twitter-facebook/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-trending-on-twitter-groupthink/2012/10/23/130f6208-1d54-11e2-9cd5-b55c38388962_story.html

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/

As a young cub reporter, I cut my teeth on Proposition 13.

The political class and Punditocracy were steadfastly aligned against California’s tax-revolt initiative in 1978.

The electorate would not vote in their self-interest (e.g., their homes) and “devastate” the state’s infrastructure (i.e., schools, libraries and fire stations). Surely, not.

Surely, yes.presspass

We were told the sun would not rise on Wednesday, June 7, if Proposition 13 was approved the day before.

El Sol did indeed rise over the east hills of the Golden State that very morning. The birds were chirping. The bees were buzzing. Love was in the air. And Sacramento subvened its $4 billion surplus to the state’s 58 counties.

Homes were saved. Libraries remained open. Fire houses were not closed. Life moved on … as it always does. Fiscal Armageddon did not occur.

The author of Almost DailyBrett learned a valuable lesson: The voters are not as unaware as the political elites believe.

They will vote in the interest of their homes, families, wallets and purses.

As Jean Baptist-Colbert, French Minister of Finances under Louis XIV, said:

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.”

There was plenty of hissing to go around in the late spring of 1978.

The Initiative, The Referendum, The Recall

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The name Hiram Warren Johnson would probably stump everyone except the most avid player of political Trivial Pursuit.

The progressive Republican Governor of California from 1911-1917, who also served as the running mate for Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, will go down in history as the man who introduced to the Golden State and the world: the initiative, the referendum and the recall.

These three political equivalents of nuclear weapons would remain in virtual hibernation until the days of the Great Inflation in the 1970s, which plagued the subsequent administrations of Nixon, Ford and Carter. With annualized inflation running between 15-18 percent per year, county assessors (e.g., Alexander Pope in Los Angeles) were sending property tax bills that were around 30 percent higher every two years.

You don’t have to be a math wizard to realize that 15 percent compounded annualized inflation-driven property-tax increases were threatening the ability of literally millions to pay their property tax bills. And what did the virtual one-party state Legislature do about it?

Nothing.

It was only a matter of time for two former gadflies, Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann, to become heroes and villains at the same time with one vehicle, the initiative, namely Proposition 13.

Anxiety, Apprehension, Anger

“Despite a torrent of horror stories from teachers’ unions, politicians, newspapers and corporate lobbyists in Sacramento about the potentially devastating effects of Proposition 13, more than 60 percent of the voters took a gamble and approved the ballot measure.” – Stephen Moore, Cato Institutenewsweekprop13

The author of Almost DailyBrett vividly remembers that Californians were disgusted with politicians and everything Sacramento in 1978. They voted for Proposition 13 to send an unmistakable message to the political class: We are not as unaware and ignorant as you think we are.

Exactly 25 years later, another generation of Californians brought to the forefront another of Hiram Johnson’s reforms, the recall. The target in 2003 was Governor Gray Davis, who magically transformed a $14 billion “surplus” into a $38 billion deficit.

The net result was the election of charming media-celebrity, body-builder-turned-movie-star-turned Gubernator, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Fast forwarding to today, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer used three “A”s to describe the political mood of the electorate. He could have easily added another “A” with a Teutonic twist: Angst.

Just as the California electorate was volatile and unpredictable in 1978 and 2003 and willing to take matters into their own collective hands, the same seems to hold true this year on a national scale.timejarvis

To date, Almost DailyBrett has been totally wrong on which parties delegate race would conclude first, and how a celebrity candidacy would end once the electoral calendar moved from the Silly Season to the Serious Season.

There are plenty of polls and Electoral College projections, but in the end analysis the two respective parties are nominating candidates with unprecedented nearly 60 percent unfavorable ratings at a time when the nation’s right track/wrong track barometer is two-to-one in the wrong direction.

Not only are we politically gridlocked at home, we are seen as nation in decline overseas. And heaven forbid – how will an exogenous event striking the homeland upset the scant political equilibrium that does exist?

If you were serving as the head of communications or press secretary for either of the two candidates with nearly 100 percent name identification (not necessarily a good thing), sleep is going to be a precious commodity between now and November.

Strap on your seat belts for a rough ride. And don’t forget the electorate. The voters are not as dumb as everyone in Washington D.C., and Midtown Manhattan thinks they are.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-hillary-and-the-bernie-factor/2016/05/19/cc594044-1de6-11e6-9c81-4be1c14fb8c8_story.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/golden-state-handcuffs/

http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=j000140

http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1984.html

http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/proposition-13-then-now-forever

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/04/04/tax-tree/

 

 

 

 

 

As a former gubernatorial press secretary, the author of Almost DailyBrett was always concerned when reporters, editors, correspondents and pundits had too much time on their hands, and were bored.

That’s when the media pack starts to form. That’s when the “theories” are born. That’s when vacuums are filled. That is not always a good thing.

And that is precisely what is happening right now in the dog days of the 2015-2016 presidential cycle.

Welcome to the Silly Season.

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 28:  Chairman and President of the Trump Organization Donald Trump yells 'you're fired' after speaking to several GOP women's group at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino April 28, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Trump has been testing the waters with stops across the nation in recent weeks and has created media waves by questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States.  (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 28: Chairman and President of the Trump Organization Donald Trump yells ‘you’re fired’ after speaking to several GOP women’s group at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino April 28, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump has been testing the waters with stops across the nation in recent weeks and has created media waves by questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

The real action at this point of time, 16 months before the November 8, 2016 general election pertains to fundraising and organization.

This week, we learned that Jeb and related PACs raised $114 million in the first six months of this year. Hillary’s fundraising machine brought in $69 million. Marco Rubio secured $32 million.

As former California speaker of the House Jesse Unruh once said: “Money is the Mother’s Milk of Politics.”

Alas, the easily distracted ADD political media does not want to suckle on that nipple for too long. Fundraising and organizing are akin to watching paint dry and grass grow.

Instead, the Punditocracy and even mainline reporters are hyperventilating on Donald “The Comb Over” Trump on the right and Senator Bernie Sanders on the left, even though their individual chances of winning their respective party nominations are less than zip.berniesanders

There are 97.8 million Google searches related to demagogic Trump and his daily insults against undocumented aliens from Mexico, and another 46.3 million on Sanders, who swoons to the tune of a 90 percent highest federal income tax rate and even a death tax surcharge.

Can either capture the popular vote and the more than 270 electoral votes needed to be the 45th president of the United States? Well, no. However, they both provide ample fodder for political science fiction.

Political Science Fiction?

For as long as the Almost DailyBrett author can remember there were at least two major political fantasies that crop up every four years: 1. The prospect of a brokered convention and 2.The general election being thrown into the (Republican controlled) House of Representatives.

The last real examples of brokered conventions go back to the 1924 Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden, which lasted from June 24 to July 9, and took 103 ballots to nominate John W. Davis. There was also the curious decision by Adlai Stevenson to leave the vice presidential nomination to the 1956 Democratic National Convention with no advance warning.

Davis went down to defeat to Calvin Coolidge, and Stevenson lost for the second time in succession to Dwight D. Eisenhower.

For sure, the Republican convention in 1976 (Ford vs. Reagan) and the Democratic convention in 1980 (Carter vs. Kennedy) were donnybrooks, and in both cases the presidential incumbents lost reelection. Nonetheless, they were not “brokered” conventions even though there was plenty of smoke in the backrooms.carterkennedy

Does anyone in the Punditocracy really believe that the presence of The Donald and/or Bernie will result in a “brokered” convention on either side of the aisle? Conventions have become über-scripted, mostly dull coronations with very little suspense … and the parties like it that way.

The next question concerns whether Trump and his reported $4 billion in personal assets will refuse to accept defeat next winter/spring and mount a third-party challenge, thus hurting the GOP nominee?

Or how about “independent” Bernie Sanders also rejecting the inevitable and mounting a socialist campaign on the far left and denying Hillary the 270 electoral votes she needs to be the first woman president of the United States?

Or … (as long as we are engaged in political science fiction) what if both run simultaneous third-party campaigns with Bernie capturing a state or two (e.g., Vermont), and Donald taking a state or two (e.g., Idaho) and not enough electoral votes remaining for either the Democratic or Republican standard-bearer?

And while we are at it, let’s factor into the equation the “Big One” earthquake/tsunami as portrayed in San Andreas with California, Oregon and Washington slipping into the Pacific, taking 74 blue electoral votes into the abyss.sanandreas

It seems far too many reporters/commentators are getting their collective bowels in an uproar about the latest of years of incendiary remarks from Trump, and growing crowds for Sanders (George McGovern and Walter Mondale drew large crowds in 1972 and 1984 respectively and won a grand total of two states between them).

They all should know better. In the end, it comes down to electability, fundraising, organizations and campaigns. Yes, campaigns matter.

The Donald and Bernie will not be accepting either party nomination in the summer of 2016. There will be no “brokered” conventions. The election will not be thrown into the House of Representatives.

Get over it.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/jeb-bushs-campaign-raised-11-4-million-in-two-weeks-1436466491?mg=id-wsj

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/09/politics/bush-fundraising-second-quarter/

http://rove.com/articles/594

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/10/us/politics/donald-trump-republican-party-debate.html?_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/upshot/class-or-ideology-my-conversation-with-bernie-sanders.html?abt=0002&abg=1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1924_Democratic_National_Convention

http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/adlai-stevenson%E2%80%99s-second-run

http://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trumps-appealand-its-limits-1436479851

 

 

 

 

Declaring Victory

Compromise is so easy, when you leave all the heavy lifting to the other side.

In reality, it doesn’t work that way … and it never will.

Unilateral good nature, masochism and altruistic virtues will not do the trick.

The answer always comes down to how can both sides can “declare victory” and pass the giggle test at the same time. Each must be able to make the sale to the majority of their followers on their side of the aisle.

nixon1

Keep in mind: Your enemies will never change; your friends can run for the exits if you sell your soul.

Consider the oncoming 5 percent of national GDP “fiscal cliff.”

All the Republicans in the House of Representatives have to do is go against their ingrained philosophy, accept a tax hike for those making $400,000 or more annually (or possibly less) in exchange for no spending restraint by the federal government in the face of a record $16.4 trillion national debt. On top of that, they are expected to raise the debt limit, reportedly reached next Monday, to accommodate even more borrowing from China and more red ink (double entendre not intended).

Let’s say that House Speaker John Boehner can convince his reluctant caucus to go along with this “deal” to preclude the January 1 expiring George W. Bush tax cuts for middle-class taxpayers 1. You can count on the Washington Press Corps. and the Punditocracy on prime-time cable to declare the president and Democrats as the winners and the Republicans as the losers.

In historical terms, the Third Reich was deemed the winner at Munich in 1938 as it was given the permission to gobble up Czechoslovakia, while loser Neville Chamberlain came home with a worthless signature on a worthless piece of paper. After Mitt Romney’s defeat last November, do the Republicans want to be the Neville Chamberlain’s of December?

neville

Even though Howard Schulz and Starbucks are getting into the act with DC baristas scribbling “Come Together” on the cups of upscale coffee, you can hardly expect the Republicans to be moved…or to move…without some real progress from the self-proclaimed progressives.

Can Social Security be indexed to inflation in the form of the Consumer Price Index? Can the age limit for Medicare eligibility be raised from 65-years-old to 67-years-old? More than 60 percent of federal spending is directed toward to the “entitlements” even before the full-impact of Obamacare is felt.

MoveOn.org is threatening primary challengers from the left for any Democrat that votes to reform the entitlements. The Republicans are demanding entitlement spending concessions in order to declare victory. To the Democrats, these demands are seen as leverage…and they are.

The recipe for both sides and their respective media spokespersons to declare victory require raising tax rates on high-income folks, including small businesses (Democrats claim victory), while at the same Social Security is indexed and the eligibility age for Medicare is increased (Republicans claim victory). It sounds simple, but it’s not.

One thing is certain: There will be no deal until the 11th hour on the 365th day of the calendar year. Legislators are akin to bats: They only come out at night.

And if there is no deal?

The sun came up in the Golden State on June 7, 1978, the day after Proposition 13 passed with 65 percent of the vote. Reportedly, the bees were still buzzing and the birds were still chirping.

There was a next-day after the Y2K “crisis” came and was quickly forgotten after January 1, 2000. Talk about much ado about nothing.

And if the leader of the Free World and Congress cannot make amends and allow both sides to declare victory, the ball will still drop in Times Square next Tuesday and the bowl games will still be played on Tuesday.

The nation’s credit rating may plunge yet again. The country may default. The next recession will be on the horizon. These (un)pleasantries may be upon us.

Or we can get down to figuring out how both sides can claim victory.  I saw this practice work in Sacramento in the 1980s. It can work in Washington DC in the teens of the 21st Century. Let “Victory” ring.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmcquaid/2012/12/26/starbucks-come-together-fiscal-cliff-misfire/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-will-hit-debt-limit-on-dec-31-treasury-department-says/2012/12/26/0e8e3738-4fa2-11e2-839d-d54cc6e49b63_story.html?wpisrc=al_comboPNE_b

http://www.starbucks.com/blog/lets-come-together-america

 

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