Beating His Own Head Against the Wall

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Trump threatens to do exactly what Chuck Schumer wants.

By The Editorial Board. Tha Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump is sore at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for saying recently that the President sometimes has “excessive expectations” for Congress. But Mr. Trump proved Mr. McConnell right Tuesday when he told a rally in Phoenix that he’s willing to shut down the federal government this autumn to get funding for his border wall with Mexico.

“We’re going to get our wall,” Mr. Trump said. “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”

The crowd loved it, but this is the political equivalent of holding a gun to his own head and saying that if Congress doesn’t do what he wants Mr. Trump will shoot himself. Don’t expect Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to try to talk Mr. Trump out of it. As the minority party, Democrats will be only to happy to test Mr. Trump’s dare since voters will blame a shutdown on Republicans who run both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Senate Democrats are vowing not to spend a dime on the wall and Mr. Trump will need 60 Senate votes to pass a funding bill.

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill know they’ll take the political blame for a shutdown, so they don’t want to press wall funding too far. All the more so because the border wall isn’t all that popular even with Republican voters, who have higher priorities like tax reform and a more robust military.

With an approval rating well under 40%, Mr. Trump isn’t in a strong political position to win a fight with Congress unless he is pressing for something that is already popular. It’s never clear with Mr. Trump how much of his rhetoric is real or bluster, but the shutdown over the wall is one threat he’d be wise to abandon.

Your Editor Notes: This is NOT The New York Times NOR -The Washington Post . It’s the Wall Street Journal

HOW MARKETERS MISREPRESENT AMERICANS

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By Carla Eboli, Chief Reputation Officer, Dieste

There is something interesting about the discrepancy in how marketers see America and its population and how everyone else sees it. Looking at the profiles of Americans featured on TV and in print ads, it’s clear that we are living in two very different worlds. It seems we are still far from a good balance between what is real and who the fashion & beauty industry represents.

Here are the top three discrepancies I find intriguing in how marketers see America and how Americans really are:

1.) Plus Size Fashion

I struggle with the concept of plus size quite a bit and here’s why. According to the CDC, the average American woman’s waist measurement is 38.1 inches. I decided to visit some of the most iconic American brand websites to see where the majority of women fit in the size charts. Below is a table of several brands and their respective sizing.

Levi’s Wal-Mart Ralph Lauren J Crew Wrangler Old Navy
18 2X 2X N/A XXL XXL

So, what does plus size mean in a country where the majority of women wear 14+? 

Some brands such as Christian Siriano get it. The designer has always approached fashion in an “all type of women” way and recently had five plus size models in his runway show in New York. JCP, an iconic American brand, also recognizes that their customers go beyond sizes 2 and 4 and a year ago, launched the #HEREIAM initiative which, contrary to what critics have said, does not glorify obesity but helps women accept their bodies with dignity.

YouTube channel “Boldly” is killing it with videos such as “Plus-Size Women Re-Create Fashion Ads” – more than 4MM views or the even better What It’s Really Like To Model Victoria’s Secret Swimsuits with over 10MM views.

2.) Flawless*** Everything

I love the concept of flawless – mainly when it is work related – but it bothers me to think how hard it is to achieve the so coveted “flawless look” that we all see on TV and print ads. Motivated by the relentless search for perfection, “cosmetic surgery online games” are becoming more popular among children and young adults while parents debate about the risks of being targeted by such games when their children are only 8 years old.

What is the impact of the unrealistic standards of beauty ad campaigns on women?

The pressure of looking perfect from top to bottom has long lasting, negative effects on women according to studies conducted by Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Assistant Clinical Professor Harvard Medical School, Director of Program in Aesthetics and Wellbeing, MGH Department of Psychiatry. “Increasing pressures from advertising and media is a key force in driving appearance anxiety,” says one of the studies recently published by Dr. Etcoff.

Dove took a very important first step in our industry when they launched the “Dove Self-Esteem Project” around the world generating a lot of positive PR. American Eagle was also very bold when they vowed to release ads without any photoshop or retouching of the model’s bodies.

They not only got thumbs up from the industry but also from consumers. Since they launched #AerieReal in 2014 the brand has seen continual growth: In the 4th quarter of 2015 alone, the brand’s sales rose 26% and in 2016 sales went up 20%.

3.) Multiracial Families

“The eyes are useless when your mind is blind” is one of my favorite sayings. Simple, yet profound, it seems to summarize the approach that some companies and brands are taking regarding interracial marriage.

Every year, 2.1MM marriages are celebrated in US, according to the federal government. And while the traditional “will you marry me?” question might remain the same over decades, the composition of these new couples and families has changed dramatically since it became legal in United States in June of 1967.

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau data in 2015, 17% of all recently married couples in the U.S. had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity vs. 3% in 1967. In metro areas, almost one-in-five marriages are interracial. The number of interracial or interethnic couples is even higher for unmarried partners (18%) and for same-sex partners (21%)

Why is it taking so long for advertising campaigns to reflect the reality of American families?

Brands that are truly embracing what I call “America’s New DNA” are seeing very positive results. Cheerios, an American brand focused on family nutrition, helped pave the way for other companies to embrace the fact that interracial families are the new normal.

Tiffany’s “Will you?” ad features several couples getting ready to propose to their partners. Pretty straightforward, it shows that we all feel the same way about love, regardless of our sexual orientation, skin color or age. Even more traditional brands such as J&J/Tylenol understood the importance of inclusivity and the need to be representative of the new American DNA with their #HowWeFamily program.

This matter is by far the one that gets more visceral reactions (good and bad), but it appears that overall Americans want to see more diverse ads and campaigns that are more inclusive and relatable.

The path to becoming and being a brand that is representative and inclusive of this new America has obstacles, of course, but there are simple steps that can be taken:

  1. Be authentic.If your message and/or representation doesn’t feel real, it can backfire on your brand.
  2. Be reflective of your own consumer.You, better than anyone else, know who your consumer is. Make sure to represent them in your communications.
  3. Make sure your team and agency understand diversity from the inside out. Diverse teams have a better understanding of different types of consumers and how to approach each one of them in a relevant and long lasting way.

Your Editor is Biased:  Dieste is one of our favorite marketing sources

Chelsea Clinton Defends Barron Trump

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By Samantha Schmidt

Once again, Barron Trump has become the target of online criticism. And once again, political figures, celebrities and others on social media are standing up for the 11-year-old, imploring the media to keep the youngest Trump out of the negative limelight.

On Monday night, conservative news outlet the Daily Caller published a story attacking Barron for the T-shirt and shorts he wore while boarding Air Force One on Sunday. The headline read, “It’s High Time Barron Trump Starts Dressing Like He’s In the White House.”

In a barrage of angry tweets, many described the story as “mean spirited,” “shameful,” intrusive and irrelevant. The reactions shared a common understanding that the president’s children are supposed to be off-limits.

And former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, who has come to Barron’s defense before, weighed in with a tweet: “It’s high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves.”

In Monday’s Daily Caller story, entertainment reporter Ford Springer wrote that “while the president and first lady traveled in their Sunday best, young Barron looked like he was hopping on Air Force One for a trip to the movie theater.”
As the President Trump and first lady Melania Trump departed from Morristown, N.J., to Washington on Sunday, Barron joined them wearing khaki shorts, loafers and a bright red T-shirt with the words, “On your mark tiger shark.”

“What am I missing here? Is Barron just better than I ever was at rebelling against my parents?” Springer wrote. “His dad is always looking dapper and his mom has become a worldwide fashion icon since becoming first lady. The youngest Trump doesn’t have any responsibilities as the president’s son, but the least he could do is dress the part when he steps out in public.”

It wasn’t the first time Chelsea Clinton has come to Barron’s defense. In January, a slew of jokes circulated on social media about the boy’s appearance at his father’s inauguration ceremony. “Saturday Night Live” writer Katie Rich was suspended indefinitely after a tweet she posted about Barron received angry backlash and calls for her firing.

In response to the earlier attacks against Barron, Clinton wrote a Facebook post that was praised and shared widely:

“Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does — to be a kid,” Clinton wrote. “Standing up for every kid also means opposing POTUS policies that hurt kids.”

On Monday afternoon and evening, Twitter users questioned why the Daily Caller writer, and the public, should care about “what an 11-year-old boy wears,” as journalist Yashar Alitweeted. “How is it your business?” he added.

“Poor Barron,” tweeted comedian Chelsea Handler.

Some complimented the first son’s outfit: “Barron was rockin a good look today,” tweeted Jesse Lee, who served as a special assistant under President Barack Obama.

And others tracked down Barron’s shirt, apparently a $24.50 boys’ T-shirt from J. Crew. A similar shirt in lime green on J. Crew’s website included a note: “We’re sorry. This item has been so popular, it has sold out.”

 Your Editor Applauds: White House children, Unite

Ryan Becomes Highest Republican to Criticize Arpaio Pardon

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By Maggie Haberman, NYTimes

The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, on Saturday criticized President Trump’s pardon of the former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, making him the most prominent Republican to voice concern about the message the president had sent regarding his commitment to the rule of law.

“The speaker does not agree with this decision,” a spokesman for Mr. Ryan, Doug Andres, said in a statement. “Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”

Mr. Trump’s end-of-the-week pardon of Mr. Arpaio, a campaign supporter who had been convicted of defying a court order intended to halt racial profiling of Latinos, touched off a political outcry that did not abate on Saturday even as much of the nation was focused on a hurricane that pummeled Texas.

Democrats joined in condemning the president’s decision, which was made public by the White House on Friday night as Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, churned toward the Texas coast. Some Republicans praised the move, but most remained silent about a decision that further entangles the party in racial controversy.

Mr. Trump ran on a message of curtailing immigration, and his message dovetailed with Mr. Arpaio’s. Republicans who were caught by surprise by Mr. Trump’s victory have been grappling with how to stand up against racism while making sure they do not alienate the older, whiter demographic of the party’s base.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said that the president’s pardon “undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law, as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his action.” The state’s other Republican senator, Jeff Flake, who has been attacked by Mr. Trump and who is facing a primary challenge, was more muted.

“Regarding the Arpaio pardon, I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course,” Mr. Flake wrote on Twitter.

Representative Trent Franks, another Arizona Republican, said he saw it as a just end to the saga of Mr. Arpaio’s legal entanglements.

“The president did the right thing — Joe Arpaio lived an honorable life serving our country, and he deserves an honorable retirement,” Mr. Franks posted on Twitter.

Outside Arizona, most Republicans stayed quiet. But Democrats laced into the president.

Jesse Lehrich, a spokesman for Organizing for Action, the political group that grew out of former President Barack Obama’s campaigns, said the pardon “signals a disturbing tolerance for those who engage in bigotry.”

He added: “It sends an unsettling message to immigrants across the country. And it’s a repudiation of the rule of law. As a massive hurricane is hurtling toward the southern United States, the White House is focused not on saving lives, but on pardoning a man who committed unlawful acts of racial discrimination.”

The White House announced the pardon amid preparations for the storm, but the federal government said it was on top of the looming natural disaster.

Mr. Arpaio had become a symbol of anti-immigrant sentiment, a staple of cable television for his roundups of people suspected of being in the country illegally in the heavily Latino state. After the Republicans lost the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee conducted what came to be known as an election autopsy on what went wrong. The report concluded that the party needed to promote comprehensive immigration reform and do better outreach to Hispanics — guidance that Mr. Trump tossed aside during his campaign.

Many presidents have issued controversial pardons. Gerald R. Ford pardoned Richard M. Nixon. Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, one of his donors, in his final days in office. By definition, pardons absolve someone of having broken the law.

But Mr. Arpaio, who had yet to be sentenced in his criminal case, has long been accused of abuses against minorities, including repeated violations of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. His pardon struck a different political chord.

Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist who advised the main “super PAC” supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016, suggested that Mr. Trump was offering a different type of signal — one to people who might be approached by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as possible obstruction of justice by the president when he fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey.

“The Arpaio pardon was awful in and of itself, but I also think it was a signal to the targets of the Mueller investigation that ‘I got your back,’” Mr. Begala said on Bill Maher’s HBO program on Friday night.

David Axelrod, who was a senior adviser to Mr. Obama in the White House, saw a different motive at play. Mr. Trump, he argued, was sending a signal after removing his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, a nationalist who is an icon among segments of the president’s base.

“I think this was a nod to the base, post-Bannon, that he’s still with them,” Mr. Axelrod said.

Mr. Arpaio was an early admirer of Mr. Trump. He appeared with him at a rally in Phoenix in 2015, and he vocally supported Mr. Trump’s interest in raising false questions about whether Mr. Obama, the first black president, was born in the United States.

Mr. Trump hinted at a rally in Phoenix this past week that he planned to pardon Mr. Arpaio, but said he would not do it that night to avoid controversy.

“I’m very appreciative of what the president has done,” Mr. Arpaio, 85, told NBC News. “Right now, I have to thank the president for standing by me and standing by law enforcement. And I’m very humbled.”

Ari Fleischer, who was a press secretary under President George W. Bush, said that pardoning Mr. Arpaio did not “break new ground” in a decades-long debate over immigration.

But, echoing Mr. Begala, he said the concern was the message it sent to others who might receive pardons.

He said Mr. Bush used to wonder why presidents had the pardon power to begin with. “It does strike me as a constitutional anachronism,” Mr. Fleischer said.

“One should not be able to break the law thinking they have a protector in chief,” he added. “If mischief is connected to the White House and the president can pardon those who engaged in that activity, it leads to unlimited power.”

Your Editor Marvels: Checks and Balance still exist

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