Monday August 10, 2020
 

Grim Remembrance

It has been 75 years since Hiroshima was obliterated by a single atomic bomb.  In spite of the COVID-19 threat, city authorities held ceremonies to remember.  The use of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a permanent stain on America’s reputation.  In defense of President Truman, he did not understand the power or after-effects of fission.  He probably did not know what it was.  What he did grasp was the enormity of the predicted casualties if the US invaded Japan.  He didn’t want that.  America was tired of war on fronts around the globe.  So he gave the go-ahead to drop them.  We know now in retrospect how tragic that decision was.  Today nuclear weapons are deterrents — threats but not to be used except in the worst of circumstances.  Armageddon.  We don’t need the stockpile of nukes we have.  It can destroy a country and its people several times over. But we face nuclear proliferation among nations that are less restricted than the US.  We can’t get rid of this scourge.  We’re stuck with it.  

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Political Marketing

The Trump campaign is relying on traditional door-knocking to get out the vote in November.  The Biden campaign isn’t.  Biden’s people are relying on phone banks, email and social media.  If Biden wins, he might change the course of political marketing.  If he doesn’t, campaigners may well return to tried-and-true methods.  It’s a risk for Biden not to have a robust field staff, but then, he doesn’t have the money Trump has collected.  Biden is hoping Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic will make the difference, but he can’t count on that.  The disease might well be under control by the time voters go to the polls or mark their mail-in ballots.  It’s hard for a challenger to go against an incumbent, even if the incumbent has handled the job poorly.   Biden needs all the help he can get.                  

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Historic PR

Since PR is what you do, this is an historic example of it.  SpaceX completed safely the first commercial flight of astronauts to the space station and to a splashdown off the Florida coast.  SpaceX can now say with authority it is in the manned space business, and it will undertake operations on behalf of NASA into the future.  Many things could have gone wrong in the fiery travel back to earth.  None did.  Reentry was by the book except for an audience of small civilian craft gathered at the splashdown site.  The astronauts were comfortable throughout and all smiles when they exited the hatch.  Elon Musk, the owner of SpaceX, could breathe again, which he had trouble doing throughout the operation.  He of all people was intensely aware of why might go bad.  Musk is a high-profile entrepreneur and he has plenty to boast about now.  No one can begrudge him that.

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Progressive Mendacity

President Trump is a Napoleon-wannabe from the Animal Farm, Orwell’s satirical novel from the 1940s.  His lies are progressive from declaring voting by mail to be rife with fraud to now positing that the election should be delayed until the polls are made secure and fair.  The big lie has a natural evolution to a larger one, and if people accept the first instance of mendacity, they are likely to accept the next.  It is a principle on which propaganda is built.  Fortunately for the nation, Republicans rebelled against Trump’s suggestion immediately.  They have a spark of law and humanity left in them, albeit small.  There is little chance the election will be moved nor that Trump will remain in power for one day longer than is his due by law.  The shocking part of Trump’s idea is that he expressed it at all.  It reveals a self-referential person who believes he is beyond the constitution.  Whether or not Trump goes down in disgrace in November, he will be a case study for generations of what happens when a sociopath gains power.  

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Poetic Justice

A Texas Congressman who vowed not to wear a mask — and didn’t — has tested positive for COVID-19.  It serves him right but what good is that to thousands of voters who followed his example?  Politicians, whether they like it or not, have a leadership role.  That he refused to wear a mask jeopardized more than his colleagues in the House.  It is all so unnecessary.  The medical guidelines emphasized the use of masks and social distancing.  Politicizing the rules with eyes on likeminded voters was dumb.  He might get reelected but he also might lose some of them through death by virus. The myth of Texas has been exploded in the pandemic.  

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Trial By Fire

Jeff Bezos is getting his moment in the searing light of a Congressional hearing.  For his sake, he better hope he is ready.  Did he do a murder board with staff and lobbyists?  Did he prepare his initial statement carefully with the Congresspersons and the American public in mind?  Executives from the American tobacco and oil/gas industries can tell him how difficult such hearings can be.  One congressperson after another will play showhorse by berating him on national TV.  Hearings are theater for the political class.  They rarely are objective inquiries, especially in an election year.  In today’s case, the issue of monopoly will come to the fore.  Congress has heard the cries of the smaller players in Silicon Valley and members will take up their cudgel.  Will there be much fallout from the time in the spotlight?  It’s hard to say with a divided polity, but if Democrats win both Houses in November’s elections, the enormous tech companies should worry.  Meanwhile, sit back and evaluate Jeff’s performance.  

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On Notice

No company wants to receive a Wells Notice from the Security and Exchange Commission.  It is a statement of intent to conduct regulatory action against the business.  It is also a major PR and reputational challenge for the organization, and its stock will almost certainly take a hit as it did for Under Armor, the athletic clothing manufacturer.  Getting examined by the SEC is a serious business.  The agency doesn’t move unless there is probable cause for doing so.  In this case, it was accounting chicanery — moving sales from one quarter to another in order to look better.  Under Armor’s CEO and CFO say they are not guilty and they look forward to clearing the potential charge with the SEC.  Good luck on that.  

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When Will They Learn?

There is a type of executive who believes rules don’t apply to him.  And, it is a he rather than a she. Consider this case.  A president in charge of women’s magazines who degrades women in office situations.  Why hadn’t he been fired long ago?  There is an unspoken rule in such situations.  If a person can successfully operate, we will overlook his indiscretions.  That rule is changing by the day now as women come forward with tales of harassment and pressure put on them.  The top executive of the present must guard his tongue now and avoid off-color humor or anything that might offend subordinates.  It is no longer good enough to be one of the boys.  Executives direct a diverse population today that is easily offended by rough language.  It is safe to say most Fortune 500 executives are aware of the strictures on their speech.  The offenders are a minority, but they are at last being called out.  Still one must ask about the minority, “When will they learn?”

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Not True

Joe Biden has an excellent opportunity of becoming President according to the polls, but he does himself no favors when he makes this kind of statement publicly.  Biden helps no one, least of all himself, by stooping to the ad hominem invective of President Trump.  Biden’s PR strategy should be to stick to facts first.  The facts are that several US Presidents, including our Founding Fathers, were racist and kept slaves.  Most recently, Princeton University stripped the name of Woodrow Wilson from one of its buildings because of Wilson’s racist views.  Biden’s weakness has always been that he bungles facts and makes up his personal history as he goes along.  In that, he is not unlike the President.  The difference between the two is that Biden has a moral center and empathy, which are lacking in Trump.  Biden should strive to be accurate because that perception will set him apart along with his emotional link to the average American.

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Bugga-boo

If there is little one can say, fear is a good motivator.  Create a scenario in which people are in peril unless they do something.  Thus, messages about wearing a mask and keeping social distance to prevent COVID-19.  But there is another kind of fear that is ginned up and irresponsible.  Politicians use it regularly.  Consider Trump’s ads targeted at suburban dwellers.  If they vote Democratic, their lifestyles will be destroyed by radical left politicians.  The absurdity of the claim is evident, but some will believe it.  The question is how many?  Trump is lagging badly in the polls.  Biden is hoping the public will see through his chicanery.  So far, they are, but there are still 100 days until the election.

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