Tag Archive: Rene Descartes


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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” – Winston Churchill

It (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speech) called into question the efficacy of any deal the administration might strike with Iran over its nuclear program; it likely renewed momentum for another round of Iranian sanctions on the Hill; it positioned the GOP politically as the party more worried about Israeli security, and, despite the White House’s best efforts, made the president appear petty and churlish.” – James Oliphant, National Journalbibicongress

To Almost DailyBrett, it appears to be a new dawn of pettiness.

What happened to taking the high road?

How about some Churchillian “tact”?

Seems like all the above is in short supply these days.

Drifting Further Apart

Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.” – Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry”

Let’s face it: There are 7 billion+ inhabiting our planet and everyone has a derriere and an opinion too.

Some we don’t want to hear; there are just as many that we don’t respect.

In the case of President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the former made it absolutely clear that he tuned out the speech of the latter. Aren’t the U.S. and Israel strategic, democratic “allies”?

The reason for the presidential tune-out? The former (e.g., executive branch) didn’t invite the latter to speak before a joint session of Congress (e.g., legislative branch). They (e.g., Obama and Netanyahu) also don’t like each other … pass the sand shovels and plastic buckets.

Is the White House’s behavior “petty and churlish?” The answer is “yes” according to one major publication and presumably others think so as well.

There is the far more important global issue of Israel’s survival and whether or not the warm-and-fuzzy Mullahs of Iran gets their hands on nuclear bombs.

There is also the mounting inability-to-converse behavior that is being exhibited as we seemingly grow further apart, even as technology is rapidly improving our ability to instantaneously “communicate.”

“Alone Together”

The Economist in its cover story this week, “Planet of the phones,” reported the 2 billion smart phones in circulation right now will grow to 4 billion in just five years-time. The stately British newspaper also projected that 80 percent of adults will have smart phones by 2020 as Moore’s Law holds sway and the number of apps/features doubles each-and-every 18-24 months.

The computing/communicating power of these hand-held mobile devices is awesome. What is not so fantabulous is how these devices in far too many ways help us in avoiding each other. M.I.T. Professor Sherry Turkle wrote her latest book: “Alone Together, What We Expect From Technology and Less From Each Other.”turkle

Taking a page from Rene Descartes and moving it to the 21st Century, Turkle told a recent TED Talk Conference (Technology, Entertainment and Design) that the new mantra very well could be: “I connect, therefore I am.”

And while we are digitally connected, we can avoid analog interaction (e.g., actual conversation) with others … and best of all, we conquer our fear of being alone. Yes we are in the presence of our fellow humans, but alas they have their faces buried in their smart-phone screen just as we do.

Is the barista taking too long making your grande no-whip mocha?

Do you feel alone?

Do you feel exposed?

Quick: Pull out your smart phone.

Turkle also said the smart-phone obsessed have a solution for being in the same room with those, who they may not want to know. It’s called the Goldilocks Effect for the Alone Together crowd, all present, but at the same time not there: “Not too close. Not too far. Just right.”

Maybe President Obama could have stopped by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress, and brought along his Blackberry? He could have texted, surfed golf course websites for tee times, checked his approval ratings etc. He would have been there, and yet not been there at the same time. Perfect.

From a public relations standpoint, his press secretary could proclaim the president while irked by the proceedings and the message was big enough to be there … even though he was mentally elsewhere.

Aren’t there executives who claim to be listening at board meetings, while they are texting at the same time, the ultimate in multi-tasking? Why can’t the über-chief executive do exactly the same thing?

At least the National Journal would not be accusing him of being petty and churlish.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/white-house/netanyahu-delivers-just-what-obama-feared-20150303

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/obama-aide-calls-netanyahu-visit-destructive-to-relations/2015/02/25/1f1d5b0c-bce6-11e4-9dfb-03366e719af8_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/netanyahus-churchillian-warning/2015/03/05/60ae7fd4-c366-11e4-9ec2-b418f57a4a99_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/33365-tact-is-the-ability-to-tell-someone-to-go-to

 

 

 

Is “clueless” male, redundant?

How about “disrespectful” man?

And to top it off, I have been labeled an “attention seeker.”

All of the above occurred in just one week as a result of a post that I wrote a little more than one year ago: The Trouble with Widowers.

These are just some of the joys of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Presumably, legions of women upset with widowers went to the web. They found my blog. They wrote to me. I wrote to them. The Internet bots recorded it all. My Trouble with Widowers blog is listed in the first and second positions on Google.

Can we do that again?

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Life is so short.

And yet there is so much that one has to read for work, for school, for personal improvement.

And then there are the relatively few-in-comparison precious items that one actually wants to read.

A blogger needs to keep these essential truths in mind when composing a post. A blog is the most discretionary of all reads. No one makes you read her or his blog. If your blog is lame, no one will read it. If your blog is boring, the reader will simply stop reading after a few paragraphs. If your blog is predictable, then why keep on reading?

After posting 201 blogs…some obviously better than others…there are lessons that come from blogging, which allows me to offer my humble commentary to an imperfect world.

Many immediately start thinking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and how to entice the “bots” to visit their pages…and one should contemplate these strategies. It is all so binary code or digital ones-and-zeroes.

Having said that, some of the lessons that emanate from blogging are actually analog in nature. Some of these do not originate in digital high-tech environments, but instead they are taught in conventional Journalism school. These include catchy headlines, inverted pyramids, the use of familiar (e.g., celebrity) names, breaking news stories, controversial debate points and even subjects that pertain to matters below the waist line…that would be sex for those of you living in Springtucky.

Headlines Matter: Just as in conventional magazine and newspaper journalism, a catchy headline will draw the eye and entice the reader to take a gander at the first few paragraphs. Besides The Trouble with Widowers, my other heavily read blog posts include: Competing Against the Dead, Men and Their Schlanges, Magnanimous in Victory; Gracious in Defeat, Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility; It’s Not You; It’s Me; Taxing the Fab Four; Exiling the Stones; and A Smile on the Lips Before a Tear in the Eyes.

Leads Matter: Not every blog has to start out with the classic inverted pyramid, outlining the what, when, where, who, why and how of the story in rapid order. After all a blog is not a hard-news story, more of a feature or “thumb sucker” for those in the profession. Having said that, the reader should not be left wondering for long what the subject is about. Get to the point.

My blog about Lindsay Lohan, Hugh Hefner and $1 million to pose au naturel (Lindsay, not Hugh) did not take long for the reader to comprehend: The Decision to Pose for Playboy. I am still amazed by how many are still searching for information about skating superstar Katarina Witt’s sold-out 1998 nude spread in Playboy.

Tags Matter: What do blog readers care about? How about Katarina Witt and the word, “nude?” So far, I have posted more than 1,750 different tags to entice eyeballs and search engines. An Oregon football fan cares about Uncle Phil, Phil Knight, Nike, Autzen Stadium, Chip Kelly, Rose Bowl etc. Write your blog with tags in mind and review it to make sure you are fully taking advantage of what tags can do for your personal brand, SEO, individual visits and page views.

Stakeholders Matter: The number of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, LinkedIn groups all equate to higher SEO. Every blog should be shared on these sites. Search engines are important, but they are far from the only way to drum up attention to your blog and better Google placement.

Credibility Matters: The lawyers call it “standing.” Do you have the bona-fides to write about a given subject? Why should anyone listen to you? I teach public relations at a Top 10 journalism school. I know a thing or two about communications, but virtually nothing about math and science. I write to my strengths and avoid my obvious weaknesses.

Respect Matters: One cannot be a successful blogger without being provocative. That is different from being notorious. As a former press secretary, I am not afraid of mixing it up. At the same time, I try to be respectful of others and want the same. I have thick skin to a point. Let’s dispense with name calling, slurs or foul language. The key is to be offensive without being offensive.

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All of the above do not require an advanced geek degree in writing algorithms for Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google (all tags for this blog). The knowledge of effective journalistic writing and persuasive public relations all come in mighty handy in writing an effective blog.

Who said that analog skills are dead?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes

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

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

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

https://www.google.com/search?q=Search%20Engine%20Marketing&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#hl=en&gs_rn=9&gs_ri=psy-ab&gs_mss=The%20Trouble%20with%20Wid&pq=search%20engine%20marketing&cp=25&gs_id=ma&xhr=t&q=The%20Trouble%20with%20Widowers&es_nrs=true&pf=p&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial&sclient=psy-ab&oq=The+Trouble+with+Widowers&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45512109,d.cGE&fp=b3ed9e4baad5b678&biw=1680&bih=946

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