Content Analytics – Site measurables, behavior, politics, environmental activism

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I’ll admit being a little late to the party about website analytics. How measuring what matters – traffic sources, interaction with content (ie. Clicks) signups, purchases, ROI, demographics (age), by channel (YouTube) searches, and the grail of TIME ON PAGE – and how customers use your site and what can be adjusted to increase impact are righteous nuggets.

The time-honored concept this follows is “You have to inspect what you expect,” and that includes surveys, checking yourself against other sites and traffic analysis, KEYWORDS,   website analytics, website terminology, tools, and RANKING.

If you’re not paying attention, or got wrapped up in the necessary creative efforts for business and doing RFPs without actually money-tizing your blogging, take credit for production, that always counts. 

GOP political events in D.C. showing a refusal to entertain actual facts aside, accepting those Google Analytics now is because you should know what you’re looking for in professional blog analytics. 

  • Predictive – Is using statistics and modeling to determine future performance based on current data. After Iowa unscrambles itself from an informational snafu, there will be extrapolating and predicting on the numbers au nauseum. Through Tuesday evening, the (62%) numbers looked like Mayor Pete slightly ahead of Sanders, Klobachar with 13% of the delegates.
  • Behavioral analytics – Geared toward providing insight into actions of humans. The Senate “trial” was brutally bad right off the rip. Activism has been re-engaged. 
  • Site Analytics – to make conclusions about information. What changes can- will move my rank onto Pg.3? What words are peers using in their being selected? 
  • Algorithms – Are a set of instructions for solving problems or accomplishing a task, like assembling the physical elements of ‘dinner for six mac n’ cheese’ recipes. Computer trading relies on algorithms to buy/sell at a pace humans couldn’t process. Users set the parameters and events go to resolution, with desired functional output, when securities meet specified “this AND this AND this…” criteria.

Engagement and what people do NEXT is the #1 measurable.

Reworking my site’s top fifty keywords, upping a click factor or checking what the using public thinks of my professional offerings is more productive in terms of time and effort than tuning in to DJT’s blather. Didn’t watch his or Bloomberg’s Super Bowl ads either.

While this was actually a short – only seven weeks – process from impeachment charge to today’s window on US process, with “four more years” political crowing during State of the Union event, it’s doubtful Trump will have any awareness of having dodged a well laid-out bullet of impeachable facts. Like fixing the environment, any next times will be tougher to deal with.

“Don’t confuse progress with results” is a reminder from my real estate days, and if you’ve signed on as “Blue No Matter Who,” then just keep working the process. Admitting to a measure of interest about “Mayor Pete’s” numbers in Iowa will only require – well,  they’ll be in New Hampshire, and Sanders just became the rhetorical 500 lb. gorilla, so we’ll see what Pete’s got for game.

Thanks for visual of how Iowa caucuses work, Katie

The analytics of how the Iowa caucuses worked was a journalistic gem done by MSNBC’s Katie Tur. She dove deep and enthusiastically with the people sitting courtside in candidate corral areas, showed candidate areas with on-screen balloons, explained ‘not viable’ (less than 15%) and moving to another group, a process that proved problematic in what was supposed to be a three-stage operation of moves. 

Knowing things didn’t work right, owning up to it and keeping the bright lights on the situation, how can there be anything less important, when data security is on everyone not named (insert GOP name) list re: upcoming electoral processes? Had a long time to make sure? Yep, yesterday’s news now. Today isn’t ‘Groundhog Day.’

NOTHING indicates this extended hoo-hah was due to hacking, just a newer, incredibly never stress-tested process. There was-is a paper trail, the results will be accurate, that’s the word from the guy at the mike, repeated again and again. This system was trying to improve over the caucus in 2016, when data from Bernie-Clinton split  49.6% to 49.4%. This time it went seven candidates deep.

Working it slower-right will mean looking hard at what clunked so badly. Fixing gaps and examining alternatives is what legitimately comes from post-event review, and like site reviews, the answers may not always be warm-fuzzies. Yeah, physical site-ing (cinder block basements) could’ve caused trouble, yeah the ‘Pubs will slap that “disorganized, just like…” thing around.

Whatever Dems might’ve put up with for three years, taking lumps your people brought on themselves definitely beats not having any, or just not regular, ‘circular firing squads’ thus far.

Duke Energy rate hike, environmental factor involved witnesses

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Using optical analytics between two events as something measurable and that matters, let’s consider the difference between “the fix is in, with full facial slaps for the Constitution” Senate white-wash, and a simpler, very American event many remember from earlier days – Civil protest against a monopoly regarding environmental badness and corporate economics. 

After going to an environmental meeting led by Sanders people on Sunday, Thursday involved going to a well-attended hearing about a proposed rate hike for Duke Energy and $8 billion in coal ash cleanup costs vs. THEM paying. There was more than a whiff of environmental activism in the air, and just like the first time around, lots of AMERICANS remember fighting for “better” and a fundamental right that might require even more effort this time, because the clock is ticking.  

Why is Sanders favored so heavily by first time voters? He’s got a long term streak of consistency about caring for the world they’re going to get handed. The analytics say they’re the biggest bulge in the snake now, but there were silver foxes aplenty at the Duke hearing, people swearing in about truth in testimony, about the public not getting tagged for previous bad management decisions by Duke being data to pay attention to. 

It seemed inevitable, when those Stoneman-Douglas kids amped a large chunk of America two years ago, to say the demographics of what’s likely a two-issue group – guns and the environment – which still hasn’t been seriously counted, may be announcing itself in Iowa. 

The Senate ‘trial’ chose not to pay attention to massive data about public support for witnesses – safe_image

79% of anything is a HUGE slice of plurality and common cause

in an impeachment trial. Both public knowledge and recognition of some particularly troubling FACTS should have gotten additional comment on. 

Duke rate protestors handled their public duty 

“Think global, act local” isn’t just about recycling, it IS the Bigger Picture

They did it three minutes at a time, as often as not with documentation, filling all the bench space in a room on the 5th floor of the County Courthouse, with cops at the downstairs entrances, a metal scanner, four or five TV vehicles, and directions to the correct room from those polite cops. 

People got there at 6:00 to sign in. I stayed until after 8:30, watching them make their thoughts 100% known in open court, hand on the Bible about the environment and that $8 billion in cleanup Duke Energy should be paying for, not regular people. 

The coal ash situation is big-time costly and un-legal, and people kept testifying after I left. That outside of Washington  we’re *talking* about genuinely BAD events, with a more desirable outcome, it made me feel things should STILL work a certain way in America. 

The audience waved strips of green paper, forty or fifty giving a good shake of approval for certain thoughts expressed  

There was a white-haired woman with a doctorate in Ecology, several had red armbands saying “Extinction Rebellion”; a long-haired and bearded (just a fact) deep-thinking guy had copies of a multi-page document. A gentleman spoke from a Presbyterian minister’s view, noting the taxes on the 100-year old family farm, and solar being an under-utilized asset by Duke Energy.

You had to pay attention to another gentleman, a past chair of the Sierra Club, who used Dicken’s “Best of times, worst of times” intro, and yes, especially to the one who stated straight up that the specific pipe breakage that caused the whole coal ash situation to lay waste along the Dan River when it failed, had been cited every couple years since 1988.

That, to put an extra fine point on it, is hard core “oppo-research” from people who care, and are willing to plant a flag about it. The behavior analysis looked like 100% against the rate increase, as the commissioners occupied the 10-12 seats in the middle of the area and listened.

“Think global, act local,” this is a situation to physically get involved with, especially when it’s a right here effective option. You can’t think one meeting with a five person panel of Sanders people and voting to ban plastic straws constitutes commitment. 130,000 tons of poisonous coal ash went into the Dan River-eastern North Carolina in 2014. 

Shining all possible light on this goes to the core of corporate environmental responsibility.

“In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do” a sentiment Senators could learn from

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It may seem simplistic to juxtapose the essence of what retiring Carolina Panthers linebacker legend Luke Kuechly said, and what will probably be an even less satisfying or happy result in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the US Senate, starting Tuesday.

Kuechly was known for extensive film-watching, which made his always being in the right place a source of awe. By most accounts, Republican Senators barely feel the need to review the evidence provided with the House of Representatives impeachment charges. They’ve opined, in the most partisan way, that a trial is a waste of time when they could just as easily vote to acquit now as later, without worrying about clear, voluminous evidence of abuse of power or malfeasance.

In football terms, they will seemingly wander around like they’ve been concussed, even when the ball is snapped to resume play.

Never a doubt they played their honorable best

After suffering several concussions the last couple years that curtailed his time patrolling the middle of the Panthers defense, yes, Luuuuuuke! is taking a route that’s best for his long term health. Whether his numbers – 1,092 tackles, 5-times 1st team All Pro, Defensive Player of the Year (2013) – make him Hall of Fame material will be a matter of debate for others, his place in the hearts of fans is definitely assured.

Long time Panther fans don’t have to look far to see the shadow of Dan Morgan, the U-Miami hitting machine who couldn’t stay on the field during his time with the Panthers.

The 11th overall pick in the 2001 draft, Morgan helped move the Panther ‘D’ from worst in the league to second. Although he was an essential part of their first Super Bowl team in 2003 – Morgan was credited with 18 tackles in the 32-29 loss that became the New England Patriots first Super Bowl win – he was essentially out of football after a fifth concussion in the 2006 opener.

“I mean, I go back to high school, and I remember hitting people and seeing shades of green. You know, that was probably one there.”

That was a 2010 quote in ProCanes.com magazine, and Morgan admits he sometimes faked his way to staying on the field at a time before concussion protocols prevailed.

While Kuechly may not get a statue outside the stadium beside team icon Sam “Keep on Poundin'” Mills, who died from intestinal cancer in 2005, only the best of long life wishes from all who witnessed his ability to search out and stop runners that made him almost unblockable, is legitimate.

Given owner David Tepper and new head coach Matt Ruhle’s attitudes, if “It’s the right thing to do” becomes part of Panthers lore, that will work fine.

The U.S. Senate has the ball now

While it seems almost a foregone conclusion that their oaths to be a jury willing to reach a verdict after careful deliberation – are worthless, our country is seeing this ultimate extra-judicial step for only the third time in its history.

It won’t be of any more use to flay the situation regarding GOP enabling than it was to continuously say how badly the Panthers defense was whipped all year, “but that McCaffrey guy has been outstanding!”

If owner David Tepper ruled the Senate instead of “Moscow Mitch” McConnell, well, Charlotte and the rest of the NFL have already witnessed how decisively bad news can be redirected.

(Me, after just a week of watching and listening to the Senate’s approach to witnesses and  impeachment during a genuine crisis.)

Tepper went after a new head coach – Matt Ruhle, whose 11-3 record in his third season at Baylor was more winning than Trump has produced in a similar period – and offensive ‘genius’ Joe Brady (only 30!) of national champion LSU, winner of the Broyles Award as the #1 assistant coach in the country, as offensive coordinator.

Okay, the problem of being next to last in scoring defense (470 points/29.4 ppg, ahead of only the Miami Dolphins 30.9 ppg) and performing more like a matador (an ole! 143.5 ypg. against the run) can’t actually be fixed until next season, but the spirits of everyone who cares about this particular team have clearly been soothed and uplifted.

Like the NATO leaders who cattily talked about Trump’s politically light-weight status as being up to previous world-class/US standards, we must rely on a change in management and leadership going forward to regain real respect.

If that doesn’t happen over the next few weeks, the country might have to wait until November to make the sort of change the “Vote ’em ALL out!” cry of previous generations was, although 2018 saw some extraordinary progress on that front.

Hey, even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went from worst to first in 1979, winning the NFC Central and advancing to the NFC Championship in their fourth year (the Panthers did it in their 2nd, with a legendary expansion team 12-4 record). Up until that point, the attitude of Bucs coach John McKay might have been echoed by many thinking outside the impeachment box.

When asked what he thought of his team’s execution in a post-game interview, the colorful McKay quipped:

“I’d be in favor of it.”

 Many would settle for Kuechly’s parting words, “In my heart I know its the right thing to do.” Pay attention U.S. Senate – the world is watching. We’ve got plenty of fond memories of Luuuuuke! here in Charlotte, but we need action from you.

And “Vote ’em ALL out!” is still legit.

 

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The best of thoughts for whatever comes next, Luke Kuechly.

 

Panthers, Ruhle’s attitude of truth-respect a great analogy to ‘imminent’ message suspicion

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According to new coach Ruhle, “Running and stopping the run, making big plays and stopping big plays” – meaning DEFENSE – will be part of sustained excellence in Charlotte.

Panther fans are obviously feeling soooo much better about how owner David Tepper handled matters of concern with his football franchise and new coach Matt Ruhle, compared to a different message on ‘facts’ coming from every direction about the how and why of a possible or averted Mideast confrontation between the US and Iran.

As a content creation professional, sports fan, and human being, an important part of everything I do relies on listening and hearing what others put forth as either facts or attitudes.  The idea our country was very possibly being thrust into a war over “imminent danger” was far too easy to question when honesty and straightforwardness has never been part of the Trump administration.

Regarding Mr. Tepper’s decisiveness, nobody questions the idea of “Trust the process” and that he’s actually gotten a “best and brightest”-type guy in the right place. Even if the price tag – over $60 million for seven years is the initial word – might seem exceptional for a guy whose career record in moving two college programs our of the doldrums is still only 47-43, its his money to spend.

Its doubtful that 40% of any Panthers ‘base’ wanted any less dramatic change. Tepper didn’t just ‘take a bad guy off the field’ in a reckless way, he made a guy with winner tendencies and a philosophical depth of belief in people an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Its an easy analogy to get your arms around

While its almost impossible to put politics totally aside after the stress of possible war after the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Solemani, most fans in Charlotte will – after tonight’s “Tiger Tussle” between Clemson and LSU for the national championship – be ready to consider impeachment and whatever else 2020 has in store. Most are hoping for fairness on both situations.

To say a lot of people won’t be happy with either outcome, be it win-lose or impeach-let a dangerous person continue as a leader, is a stark reality.  What we see on the stage from Democratic candidates Tuesday, or exactly what happens after Wednesday in the Senate, its going to be a start of a tougher, longer than 60 minutes process. That the latter is quite a bit more important, well, that *might* be true for Tiger fans, but as voters, millions will have more input about matters beyond what happens in Atlanta.

In a better focused set of circumstances for Charlotteans of all stripes, be it birth or just the adopted home of more recent arrivals, Matt Ruhle’s becoming the replacement to Ron Rivera as Panthers head coach counts bigly.

Charlotte lost its love for George Shinn (and Bob Johnson’s Bobcats) over matters of what they expected from the citizens beyond the economics of ticket support and the product on the court. The hometown crowd was also stunned at everything regarding Mr. Richardson’s situation that led to his selling the team to Tepper, and the two seasons since then were almost worse than the crash and burn 1-15 times that brought Cam Newton to town, fresh off a national championship at Auburn.

Give Mr. Tepper credit for believing in and leaving alone a management team already in place in Year One, trusting there could be a continuation of success (11-5) after what had been a trip to the Super Bowl and MVP year for Newton in 2015-16. Give even more credit to him for being just as dissatisfied with 7-9, 5-11 seasons that moved believers (there is still that “Buckle on the Bible Belt” factor) to wanting more and making positive changes on multiple fronts.

Charlotte isn’t Cleveland or Iraq – Reality counts

Sure, its easy to bust on Cleveland, even if my community group is counting on lots of people from there showing up again this Friday at our second pierogi dinner (over 700 served last year). Baker Mayfield has talked a lot, done plenty of commercials, but the most memorable night of their season was a vicious brawl with the Steelers, with Browns DE Myles Garrett clubbing QB Mason Rudolph with his own helmet.

The biggest changes for the 2020 Panthers are moving their training came from the

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Fans won’t need to make the sweaty pilgrimage to Wofford, but no word on #1 at this point.

brutal humidity of the Wofford campus in Spartanburg, SC during July, finally creating a necessary indoor practice facility, and elevating the super-productive Christian McCaffrey onto the national scene with his 1,000 yard rushing and receiving season (only 3rd player ever to accomplish), and the development of DJ Moore to anticipated elite receiver status.

At least now Ruhle gets to coach Moore, whom he recruited out of high school to attend Temple (Moore went to Maryland).

There’s no equivocating from either the owner or new coach about “Trust the process,” and while positive results are clearly expected sooner v. later, there are no “laws of armed conflict” or lives to be considered by Ruhle, aside from Cam Newton’s physical status and the overall defensive pulse, which has taken a beating for two seasons.

Tepper’s early assessment was that Ruhle has done “pretty amazing things with less” by turning a hoops school like Temple into 10-game winners his last two (of four) seasons there, and resuscitating Baylor from 1-11 to to 7-6 and 11-3 over three seasons at the helm in Waco. 2020 figures to be a beyond interesting year in America, and for Charlotte and the NFC South, “amazing” would be a grateful upgrade from continuing mediocrity.

Everything we’ve seen and heard from “our guy” here, including his purchase of an MLS soccer franchise and the (expected) cooperation of City Council in bringing development to that side of the city with the former Eastland Mall site, comes as straight up and positive. You did not hear “imminent” from Ruhle or Tepper, the rest is trust by the Panther faithful.

As for tonight, Geaux Tigers!

 

What JFK Meant with “Instead, ask what you can do for your country”

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When Rep. Adam Schiff gaveled the impeachment proceedings into recess last Thursday while invoking the late Elijah Cummings, “We’re better than this,” its my humble opinion that plenty of Americans would want a family member to conduct themselves as honorably, in such high pressure moments, as the US diplomatic personnel proved they could.

Many regarded President John F. Kennedy’s election as the second coming of Camelot, a time of exceptional promise. That cold, cold day of his Inauguration in 1961 couldn’t be more clearly juxtaposed to the shameless conduct described in the testimony about the Trump-Ukraine scandal, with tentacles that seem to have ensnared everyone it touched.

Kennedy’s January 16, 1961 speech was 14 minutes long, and that was the only part where he spoke about public service. The rest was primarily international, the Cold War. Vietnam was nowhere near a US problem – the French had that domino held steady, right?

They did their jobs, to the T

And yes, dammit, if the Lt. Colonel respectfully asks to be addressed by his rank, that shouldn’t be a three minute exercise in linguistics. A Ukranian immigrant at the age of four, he happens to have an identical twin, also a Lt. Colonel, who also serves in the White House.

That officer was on the call because of his expertise, including and especially, language. At NO point does that invite negative questioning,  any quibbling about loyalty from those pursuing nefarious political ends.

Should we be more in awe of Dr. Hill for stating that, having grown up poor, her working class accent – what most probably think most Brits sound like – would have limited her options dramatically in the UK, or should we salute her concise flaying of a GOP talking point (Ukraine, not Russian interference in 2016 elections) as repeatedly giving credence to such a false narrative and something Russia loves to hear?

Oh, third one – You do know that her expertise, literally, is because she wrote the book on it, right? “It” being Vladimir Putin. What, they didn’t mention that on FOX?

Powerful a witness as Sondhold became, was the Saturday Night Live! skit even better?

These people knew their words, and having them answer to counsel’s, “Right?” sure wasn’t automatic. As Dr. Hill and Ambassador Taylor stated, they were ‘fact witnesses,’ what they heard or knew about a situation, nothing about guilt regarding impeachment. Even if it was clarification of the timing tag of an e-mail as being sent local or Ukranian time, it was brought into agreement with known facts being discussed before saying, “Correct.”

If David Nolan wasn’t precise in showing how Amb. Sondland held a cell phone away from his ear while Trump was talking EXTRA loudly, is the operative word still, “Get over it?” When *every*single*one* of them takes notes constantly, documents situations with time and attendees, that is what a paper trail that’s meant to be followed looks like.

Oh, State Department has all the notes, because its government property? Sorry Amb. Sondland… Oh, you actually have e-mails that show everyone was in the loop? Good to know. Without taking anything away from Amb. Sondhold’s ability to both nurse a cold cup of coffee and deliver A-B-C, 1-2-3 points about whom “everyone” was, it was legitimate for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to note that his markedly different testimony was a third try at better describing things he recalled.

For those who think former NSC advisor John Bolton should  be as courageous as those who already testified, yep.

JFK and a character moment

Kennedy called out to a generation, and despite the tear United States down the middle issue of Vietnam, we – that would be the Boomers, ok – also made major strides in civil rights, and both put people on, and got them back from the moon.

Its not cherry-picking to use that event, it was a biggie.

Maybe ask someone about their time in the Peace Corp. Was there world respect for all those idealistic young Americans, striving to change the world somehow? You betcha. Those kids from Stoneman-Douglas are turning eighteen, ready to vote. Who wants them besides Beto, anti-gun marches and a huge percentage of America agreeing about it?

Yes, for sure, ask a young person what they think about the last three weeks over a fire pit on Thanksgiving. Learn what other people think – question authority (especially if it doesn’t pass the sniff test). Those diplomatic personnel who put their careers on the line, you KNOW you’d want them in the foxhole when doing whatever was necessary and right had to happen.

Some call it heroic,  but you certainly can’t ignore it. Nor should you disparage it.

Consistent content always beats old photos, denials, easily checked lies

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Fourth of  July fireworks are always appreciated (though not by dogs), but the explosions that your clients will face for presenting un-truths will not be a cheerful situation.

Many, perhaps even most, readers will assume the above title is directed at the political struggle being presented daily on TV over the extortion of a democratic ally, Ukraine.  Using vivid and current examples of “content” obviously makes the case well, with the bottom line point being how long term, verifiable information at the personal and corporate level makes a significant difference to the public.

Taking a quick side trip to old photos as content, we’ve seen Prince Andrew and 16-year old environmental activist Greta Thunberg being worth at *least* the proverbial 1,000 words, whether they are “real” or not.

In Thunberg’s case, a child gold-miner’s picture from about 1898 that bears an uncanny facial resemblance to the activist, including a single long braid of hair, has spawned the notion she is a time traveler.

For the Prince, its a weak denial that, relative to convicted (and now deceased) sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein providing under-aged girls to prominent figures, a “sex slave’s” assertion that they were intimate must be false because of his “inability to sweat” as badly as she described. Nobody in the Royal Family thought it was a good idea to even discuss it, let alone do a TV interview that opens the door for the sensationalist UK tabloids.

Clarity and Consistency are Legitimate

Has anyone ever tried to debunk a National Geographic story, which has been published continuously since 1888? How often is the NY Times sued for libel?  The answer is “not often,” because it has well-known and scrupulous standards for getting the facts right.

If your organization’s reputation is as squeaky clean about the material it presents, if or when it puts forth information that raises a question of right or wrong, it will almost always get the benefit of the doubt .

Conversely, the President’s recent unscheduled visit to Walter Reed Hospital, which was called “routine” by the White House, raised a ton of questions about his health, because  eight weeks of the impeachment process – let alone E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondholm’s testimony Wednesday, about a quid pro quo of “guns for dirt” – could make the average person’s head explode.

That White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham recently claimed, “There were ‘You will fail’ notes everywhere from Obama people when Trump came into office” was a glaring lie, even it might have been seen as typical of the current administration. While its a situation she has since retracted, having even one piece of proof might have made a big difference.

To say any organization will get painted with a very broad and negative brush after there is documented proof against assertions like that is an inescapable fact. Trump’s first press secretary *never* escaped the scorn of the national press after asserting that his Inauguration crowd was “the biggest ever,” because it was demonstrably false.

Only a small percentage of Americans believe much of anything that comes out of the White House as a result of the President’s 12,000-plus documented lies or serial misinformation. The changing rationale for many administration decisions, like betraying Kurdish fighters by moving U.S. troops to allow Turkish troops to attack them, is something that will be remembered for a very, very long time.

How long would it take anyone to check the assertion by highly regarded Levine Children’s Hospital (in Charlotte), or even the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to be blasted for saying they cure 96.5% of their patients?  They get praised for the quality of their efforts, not specifically their numbers.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Having recently been a blogger for a CBD oil manufacturer, and a user of products that have absolutely ‘fixed’ some physical problems, writing that it *cured* anything wasn’t allowed. There was plenty of documentation across many online resources and studies, but technically, helpful as it was to a range of ailments like anxiety, inflammation, and sleeping disorders, “cure” wasn’t a step we could state.

When it comes to corporate information, writing or otherwise projecting something that can be proven otherwise will never help.

Ask the tobacco industry how denying the link between smoking and cancer, or how major league baseball owners wound up paying a huge judgment regarding collusion in not bidding on free agents worked out. There are so many avenues to check information, doing anything but keeping to the facts is always going to be the best route.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taylor-Kent Ukraine testimony was content that counted, worthy of attention by all

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While all the heavy digging at the top of the street won’t look like a police station for quite a while, what we heard and saw from two diplomats yesterday became an unimpeachably important first step.

Understanding that mega-reams of copy have already been generated throughout the U.S., Ukraine, and rest of the world, over six hours yesterday, two U.S. diplomats presented precisely the sort of content many, many people were tingling with anticipation to know. If their testimony was the elementary start to a long campaign, those who hoped putting faces to specific and negative information (for some) would make a difference, were rewarded.

Compared to repetitive commercials or ‘witch hunt’ comments about a topic that many have almost given up listening to – and its NOT a four year old investigation, its the start of *another,* necessary one – those straight ahead, well-respected professionals held our attention most of the day.

While having an element of ‘homer’ cheering for the Charlotte Panthers after an intense loss against the Green Bay Packers Sunday was legitimate, over three hours of watching this first public session of impeachment hearings only disappointed because I’d missed a LOT of points being scored during the earlier hours.

The Prez said he didn’t watch any of it, so hopefully someone recorded it, because while everyone knows he won’t read even important stuff, yesterday was about content well worth hearing.

A sports analogy

The Minnesota Golden Gophers football team had lost 43 games in a row to Penn State up to last weekend, a string of negatives that seems unbearable, and many Americans felt this country had endured a similar series of thumpings under Trump.

On Saturday, Minnesota kept its unbeaten season (9-0) going, and rose to #8 in the polls with a 31-26 victory, with Gopher QB Tanner Morgan going 18/20 (90%) for *339 yards*, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His top receiver, Rashod Bateman, had seven catches for 203 yards and a TD, Penn State’s QB had three interceptions, and that’s really all you need to know for a righteous analogy.

To cop GOP interrogator Steve Caster’s best line during the impeachment hearings:

“It’s not as outlandish as it could be.”

That he tried to get more than simple agreement from Ambassador Taylor on “not as outlandish” brought a smile and head shake that spoke volumes.

There’s an old sports line that goes, “We knew they’d beat us at some point, I just never expected to be around when that happened.” Both Penn State boosters, who were campaigning for a spot in the year-end NCAA Final Four, and Trump’s enablers in Congress now have the remainder of this Fall (and 2020) to contemplate the pop in the chops that always comes as a huge surprise from an underdog.

Talking about “What happens if…” those Nittany Lions end the season with just one loss, much like LSU beating arch-rival Alabama, will be the subject of much scrutiny. No matter who else they beat, their aura of being too powerful has been trashed by teams that decided enough was enough of losing.

Of course, that was only the first day of these hearings, and if there were two surprising “plays” along the way, one was Ambassador Bill Taylor, Jr. stating that on July 26th, a staffer (David Holmes, counselor for political affairs in Kiev embassy) overheard a phone conversation between European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland – on an unprotected cell phone, while at dinner in a restaurant – and Trump.

How many regular people KNOW that’s the worst kind of exposure?

Call it an interception, but Trump apparently talked so loudly about “investigations” that Holmes will now be deposed behind closed doors on Friday.

Possibly the most incredible part of Day One was the recognition by many that the Democrats, like Minnesota, remained disciplined and did nothing to harm themselves all day long.  For the jaded among us, the Dems not forming a circular firing squad with the wealth of information they already had is worth mentioning.

Congratulations and sincere thanks to those dedicated public servants who stood straight and tall at a dark point in our current political history. Your country appreciates it, possibly even as much as those many others whose service and deaths we remembered on Veterans Day.

 

Trump’s ‘Do us a favor though’ is a memorable line, but (obviously) not great writing

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It’s a wall at Charlotte Ballet instead of Lady Liberty, how many consider that okay, not worth calling wrong?
  • “Four score and seven years ago…” Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
  • “I have a dream…” Dr. Martin Luther King at the Lincoln Memorial
  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  • “One small step for (a) man…” Neil Armstrong, just about to walk on the moon
  • “Play it again, Sam” and “Here’s looking at you, kid.” Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca
  • “You must be talkin’ to me, I’m the only one here.” Robert DeNiro as Travis Bick in Taxi Driver.
  • “Charlie, here comes the deuce, and when you speak of me, speak well.” Kevin Costner as Crash Davis in Bull Durham.

In the history of lines from movies, literature, sports, and politics, there are always going to be ones you remember clearly, but its safe to say Trump’s is one you’re going to hear ad nauseum the next couple months.

Just a suggestion, but juuuust maybe he should have gotten more pro forma help with some president-to-president talking points vs. freelancing.

I can almost guarantee a couple million tee shirts will immortalize it, and if you’re going to watch any of the impeachment hearings, using it in a drinking game is begging for trouble.

Content creation, and then there’s the Constitution

“I do” started a life together, “I did” should be a final affirmation” captured the idea of pre-need for a funeral home client, and there’s no problem tapping the Easy Apply button to send my LinkedIn profile to represent me, but that’s neither a one-liner or Shakespeare.

No matter what kind of a deadline I’m facing though, there would never be a moment that I’d consider rewriting (and bastardizing) the Statue of Liberty’s, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” with acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli’s, “who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

As a content creation professional, writing something that hits exactly the right chord still gives me a thrill. Michael Anthony Hall gives himself a little punch in the arm after writing a bite me! essay for the group in Breakfast Club – sort of like that.

  • “Ask not what your country can do for you…” John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address
  • “You can’t handle the truth!” Jack Nicholson as Col. Jessup, A Few Good Men
  • “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Muhammed Ali
  • “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” Al Pacino getting directions, The Godfather
  • “Thou shalt not…” (I guess) Moses gets the writing credit.
  • “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” (Wily Coyote?)

As for Trump and the Constitution, I’m recalling what I believe was a Dodge commercial from the early 70’s. It featured the arch-typical Southern sheriff, standing next to the drivers open window: “You in-a heap of trouble boy.”

Yep. The Constitution was written in long hand a loooong time ago, and yet the Founding Fathers managed to include a process called impeachment for *exactly* what came through in that call to the president of the Ukraine.  We may not be at another  Lindsey Graham moment yet, but that’s not a one-liner either.

 

This being a political blog aside, today is better than Recession or Kurds situation

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During the Recession, you didn’t sweat talking politics over the grill, we were all worried about the same things, and Trumpies hadn’t been invented.

Back in the early, terrible years of the Recession, I had several opportunities to have a cigar and some scotch with one of my brothers, the high caliber banking guy, while the Thanksgiving turkey was deep frying. He was an excellent person to bounce all the information I’d read and heard off, and I really felt smarter in other conversations after those talks.

If you weren’t trying to learn more then, all you could do was cower in fear that the Economics Gods didn’t body slam you any worse. Between a job I disliked and Trumpies though, I admit the below-my- abilities job was easier to deal with.

There wasn’t any difficulty about the facts of what we were going through then, and those who had jobs were mostly just a little happier than those on – or over – the hairy edge. Neither side was about Good or Bad, we were all struggling. There was an expectation that our government had its hand on the tiller, and nobody was seriously being dissed or crushed just because of their economic situation or heritage.

Sure, people abandoned pricey homes and took lifestyle hits while reducing ten days in an exotic locale to “stay-cations,” taking kids out of private schools with $20,000 a year tabs, holding on to cars “until things get settled a little better,” and not automatically going out to dinner three times a week.

Things aren’t anything like that now

Yes, the world seems stuck on the politics of things in 2019, and if the choices are “Love him or hate him,” LOTS of people – including me – are on the latter side of that with Trump.

Take an analogy of the high school bully-cretin who knocked the books out of your hands every time he saw you. Bet you didn’t think, “But he’s a helluva player when he’s on the court!”

Hell no. The aggravation and humiliation of having to pick up your stuff while others mogged along, maybe kicking your books, trying to get to their class in another wing of the school an over-arching consideration. You probably said, “Yeah, 23 points a game, but he’s still a d**khead” to your buddy.

You might keep your mouth shut after a buzzer-beater against an arch-rival, but day to day, he was a blot on almost any happiness you could imagine being in the same school could bring. No sense telling the cute girl in biology class your opinion, her friend was dating the guy, and Cutie was probably jealous of that.

What has that got to do with any concerns we have about education, immigration, the national debt, torquing the relatively naive President of the Ukraine, or shafting Kurdish allies in Syria in the most obvious and life-threatening way?

Expectations of what America stands for

Unlike back in those dark economic times, you didn’t stop caring about how the people down the street were doing. You didn’t walk away from them, muttering about their character because they rooted for the “wrong” team. It was legitimate to think they weren’t too smart to be a Browns fan, yet poking fun at stuff like that wasn’t taken to the Nth degree of thinking thugs from ICE should haul them away.

The question of “What happens after…?” is just as real today as during the Recession years. Yes, impeachment proceedings are going to tear this country up, but like we *knew* back then, the Biblical “This too shall pass” was something to believe in. As I told an Italian lady I tutored, this is still shy of the heart-breaking nastiness that Vietnam was for Americans, mostly because LOTS of (young) people died in those times.

When *every*single*person* that came into the current Administration was placed in a role that gave them the ability to sink an institution they HATED – and it seems many are face-first in the public trough – that sucks though. I often use DeVos – whose “expertise” for Education ends with her $1 million donation to Trump campaign – with her desire to kill public education funds, and Pruitt, the grifter from Oklahoma who opened the sewage gates wide on the environment, as examples. It was depressing to think the next day meant another humiliation, having their books (figuratively) slapped out of their hands, for that piece of America under their boots.

So now there appears to be light in the tunnel that ISN’T another damn train. While not the final word on things many, many, many don’t like – including former allies around the world who think badly of US actions – “we” don’t have to just take it. Walking the other way instead of trying to discuss ANY situation with a Trumpie doesn’t bring any real sense of calm, just that we can see *something* is finally being done that might change this long sled ride towards the bottom of the American soul.

Mostly I write about business, although some of the sports pieces have a lesson to them. Am I doing better than during Recession? Well, yeah, but how much of any piece of anything else in 2019 am I happier about, that seems a valid criteria to judge life on.

Hmmm… That knee replacement (God bless the ACA) at end of 2017 changed life pretty dramatically, I don’t have to skip across the street to avoid getting run over. It’s (finally, after 50 days) raining in Charlotte today, nothing wrong with that. I have a meeting about a next ‘gig,’ using my God-given ability as a “content creation person,” at about twice the $$$ I was making in retail back then is good, as is not being homeless in this rain.

And yes, knowing some real angst is is on the horizon for Trump and his enablers in Congress  – and even the schlubs for voted for him and think he’s doing a great job will have to stay quiet – is okay by me.

A cigar and some scotch at Thanksgiving, I’m looking forward to that. Doubt that we’ll be talking politics much though, and there’s nothing wrong with leaving that behind. That brother’s knowledge was superior about negative economics then, but knowing at least *something* is working towards Better Days, 2020 seems like sunshine in America time.

911, Mueller-Trump, or a Hurricane: Which one should have your attention?

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If you only have the attention span or ability to focus on a single subject at a time, what would be on your mind today? Many would say ‘Remember 9-11!’ and that would certainly be appropriate. A large number would undoubtedly select some sliver of the on-going saga of Trump cruelty/BS policies-Mueller investigation-possible impeachment-upcoming elections, and more than a few would point to (as of yesterday) a Category 4 hurricane named Florence that is bearing down on the Carolinas.

The anticipation of a Thursday landfall is a Reality, but it’s not necessary to forget about the other two.

9-11 of course, is a significant historical event, a devastating attack that was truly world-changing. The second has been a slow-rolling situation that has split this country in ways that only Vietnam or our incredibly bloody Civil War of nearly 160 years ago (‘The War of Northern Aggression’ in these parts), but that hurricane is almost here and very Now. Having seen the flooding and destruction from a close hurricane pass for eastern North Carolina a few years ago, yikes. Recognizing that when they say GET OUTTA THERE! so publicly to several million people, you reallllly should do something to prepare for the potential worst.

Last night I congratulated a gal-pal who bought her way out of a shared condo lease about a half-mile from the South Carolina shore just a month ago. It looked like a financial disaster then, more like a gift now.

Here in Charlotte, NC, almost 200 miles from the coast, nobody has forgotten Hugo (1989), and while there was a semi-freakish confluence of two pressure systems that essentially ushered-spun it this way after it hit Charleston, I’m not feeling immune to possibility it happens again. Back then, a good-sized tree came down along side of my brother’s house vs. on it, but more importantly, *I’M* here now, and current house is surrounded by large, OLD, oak trees.

Politically, I’ve checked my voter registration and will do my part to remove Trump from a position on the world stage that he’s deliberately butchered, starting with the House, but I’ve never had to dig out from under a natural disaster (or a bombing either), and yes, that brings a certain pause to all other parts of Life.

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Watching ‘The 2000’s’ on TV the other night, will praying do anything about 8-10 inches of rain an hour for several days that Katrina did to New Orleans or more recently, Houston? Here in ‘The Buckle on the Bible Belt’— and bless what the legendary late Billy Graham epitomized as a messenger of God plus over 1,100 churches listed on Google might mean—its going to be a tense week, considerably longer if we take a direct hit.

Last night I congratulated a gal-pal who bought her way out of a shared condo lease about a half-mile from the South Carolina shore just a month ago. It looked like a financial disaster then, more like a gift now. I still object to the kind of disaster relief that rebuilds homes in a place that will almost inevitably be destroyed again, but its not mine either, and that certainly counts in a significant way.

Right now it’s a terrific September morning, Carolina blue sky with a smattering of fluffy clouds. That’s probably how it looked to New Yorkers that evil, disastrous day 17 years ago. I’ll never forget how a co-worker hung up her phone and said, “An airplane just crashed into one of the Twin Towers!” and opining that was unbelievable accident, not knowing it was a BIG plane vs. just a two-engine Cessna or such. That a second plane hit the other tower and this country watched an almost surreal scene unfold all day—with three more planes-as-bombs elsewhere– was as big as anyone could imagine, a modern-day Pearl Harbor of fanaticism.

One group of passengers—and the memory of a ‘Let’s roll!’ final word of determination has produced goosebumps like I haven’t had in a long time– forced one terrorist piloted plane to crash in Pennsylvania instead of allowing it to continue on its murderous mission of crashing into the White House, and that’s something we should have a collective, ultimate respect for.

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It was related to helping my Dad vs. 9-11, but making spaghetti dinner (with modesty aside, great meatballs) once a month for three months at two stations, was my way of saying thanks.

It’s awesome that we have people who care about others enough to sacrifice themselves, which is how our military-police-first responders are somehow rigged mentally. Its almost hard to believe Nike chose an out of work QB vs. those cops and firemen of 2001 or a Pat Tillman, who left his job playing football in relative safety to give his life in Afghanistan- as worthy of an advertising campaign and rolling it out this time of year. Even knowing, and agreeing with, the reason Colin Kaepernick started kneeling in protest, its not like they didn’t know there were better examples.

The many who ran towards that disaster instead of away are justifiably held in awe, and if the NYPD and NYFD hats and shirts don’t come out as often as they did in the early years, that’s on us for forgetting.

In a simple, definitely personal and political thought, we can only hope those people we elected to represent our interests as a country, who SHOULD do something about the wrongness and despair caused by wrong-headed and often enabling inaction in Congress– based only on self-interest of a political party– somehow gets a similar ‘Let’s go” spine.

As for the hurricane, we have a spare bedroom…

Pooh-pooh a neighbors pie-in-the-sky & kumbaya, but MILLIONS of people showed up

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There’s always something wrong with the idea of one person gunning down a bunch of others, and an extraordinary number of those events have occurred in 2018. Since my earliest, formative years in a very effective Linton High School (Schenectady, NY) journalism program, I have always identified as a Writer, but I didn’t feel quite the same about those newspaper people being ‘more kindred souls’ killed. Simply because of volume, the slaughter in Las Vegas had to shake you, long and intensely.

It was apparently good (?) old-fashioned “crazy guy with a long-term grudge and a shotgun” killing vs. that ducks in a barrel, blazing away version of FEAR that carnage in Vegas was. Does it mean it was LESS mindless and more about the gun? On some bottom line, that guy thought about situation with a long ago article for YEARS before deciding *this* was the day to take revenge.

Being a periodista (journalist) brings no additional grief, although I have  a feeling that if we back off the idea any of it is acceptable, a piece of what so many died for comes into question. Watch ‘Gettysburg’ on PBS if you get a chance, *that* was a country in full-out hate for what the other half represented. And bloodshed…! Gettysburg is on record for 52,000-plus dead and wounded in three days, and makes what’s happening now seem like piddelisky.

Many months ago I told a language student that crazy bad as I think Trump and GOP  minions have ravaged this country, those high school kids from Stoneman Douglas didn’t set the bar on civil action and effectiveness, the Vietnam War protests did.

THE GOOD THING is, there were over  700 protest marches across the country this weekend regarding the mess with children being taken from asylum-seeking parents on the border. Thousands are being kept prisoner cages, and that’s not how we as a country would choose to roll.

Were deterrent tactics finally stopped? Great, and the world is still watching, America. The world cared about those Thai soccer players stuck in flooded caves for 18 days because they were KIDS.  Caring for children is a universal concept,  and if U.S. border fiasco is about changing focus on Russia, better let the World Cup lead.

MILLIONS of people showed up in *reallllly* hot conditions to make it known this is where the line was– and that ALWAYS counts.

Knowing LOTS of people still care about what comes between us 1-1 in this country also means win-lose on every stinking thing is unnecessary, and yes, civility could be part of that. No wedding cake for gays, no service for unpopular Sarah H.? Relax people, doctors tell you not to sweat the small stuff, and as the book says, it’s ALL small stuff. Save real indignation for your voting rights being curtailed.

Are exact numbers involved in marches required? Not by me, maybe because I still say, ‘great 11 or 12- mile bike ride’ without caring how far I rode in 94 degree heat lately. The people I talked to while getting gas, they seemed to feel a similar vibe—that this weekend showed we’re not being alone in thinking “We have to draw the line *somewhere* or this country doesn’t stand for what I was always taught it was about.”

It’s true that you only miss something when its gone, and that sense of living together instead of constantly trying to beat another faction into believing the same negative way- or more often fearing any and all others- I think I saw that again this weekend. It might have taken some prodding—and pooh-pooh a neighbors pie-in-the-sky, kumbaya crapola all you want– but MILLIONS of people showed up in *reallllly* hot conditions to make it known this is where the line was– and that ALWAYS counts.

Of the many gathered at a SouthPark orchestral concert in Charlotte Sunday evening, a sense of peace came with many picnic baskets and the ambiance of being together in relatively quiet circumstances, with family, friends, and potential friends, sharing a hot but joyful evening.

The people I spoke with seemed to have a similar vibe—that this weekend showed we’re not being alone in thinking “We have to draw a real line *somewhere*, now.

Watch Robin Williams and Maria Conchita Alonso in ‘Moscow on the Hudson’ —Being part of America, it still means something for those who come from all over. There’s ZERO chance of coming up with more workable immigration policy-wise when one half of this current House wants only their policies to stand while razing the other half. The choice isn’t MS-13 *or* wall at the border. America is still about dreams, even if for some that dream is as basic as keeping their children alive.