"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
Chicago Boyz is an Amazon affiliate and earns money from any Amazon purchases you make after you click on an Amazon link on this blog.
Chicago Boyz is also a BlogAds affiliate and earns money from advertising placed on this blog through the BlogAds network.
Some Chicago Boyz advertisers may themselves be Amazon affiliates who earn money from any Amazon purchases you make after you click on an Amazon link on their ad on Chicago Boyz or on their own web sites.
Chicago Boyz will consider publishing advertisements for goods or services that in the opinion of Chicago Boyz management would benefit the readers of this blog. Please direct any inquires to
Chicago Boyz is a registered trademark of Chicago Boyz Media, LLC. All original content on the Chicago Boyz web site is copyright 2001-2014 by Chicago Boyz Media, LLC or the Chicago Boyz contributor who posted it. All rights reserved.
My profession is much in the news at the moment, so I thought I would pass along such insights as I have from my career, mostly from a multibillion-dollar debacle which I and several thousand others worked on for a few years around the turn of the millennium. I will not name my employer, not that anyone with a passing familiarity with me doesn’t know who it is; nor will I name the project, although knowing the employer and the general timeframe will give you that pretty quickly too.
We spent, I believe, $4 billion, and garnered a total of 4,000 customers over the lifetime of the product, which was not aimed at large organizations which would be likely to spend millions on it, but at consumers and small businesses which would spend thousands on it, and that amount spread out over a period of several years. From an economic transparency standpoint, therefore, it would have been better to select 4,000 people at random around the country and cut them checks for $1 million apiece. Also much faster. But that wouldn’t have kept me and lots of others employed, learning whatever it is we learn from a colossally failed project.
So, a few things to keep in mind about a certain spectacularly problematic and topical IT effort:
Large numbers of reasonably bright and very hard-working people, who have up until that point been creating significant wealth, can unite in a complete flop. Past performance is no guarantee, and all that. Because even reasonably bright, hard-working people can suffer from failures of imagination, tendencies to wishful thinking, and cultural failure in general.
Morale has got to be rock-bottom for anybody with any degree of self-awareness working on this thing. My relevant moment was around the end of ’99 when it was announced, with great fanfare, at a large (200+ in attendance) meeting to review progress and next steps, that we had gotten a single order through the system. It had taken various people eight hours to finish the order. As of that date, we were projecting that we would be doing 1,600 orders a day in eight months. To get an idea of our actual peak rate, note the abovementioned cumulative figure of 4,000 over the multi-year lifespan of the project.
Root cause analysis is all very well, but there are probably at least three or four fundamental problems, any one of which would have crippled the effort. As you may infer from the previous bullet point, back-office systems was one of them on that project. Others which were equally problematic included exposure to the software upgrade schedule of an irreplaceable vendor who was not at all beholden to us to produce anything by any particular date, and physical access to certain of our competitors’ facilities, which they were legally required to allow us into exactly two (2) days per year. See also “cultural failure,” above; most of us were residing and working in what is one of the most livable cities in the world in many ways, but Silicon Valley it ain’t.
Not to overlook the obvious, there is a significant danger that the well-advertised difficulties of the website in question will become a smokescreen for the fundamental contradictions of the legislation itself. The overall program cannot work unless large numbers of people act in a counter-incentived (possibly not a word, but I’m groping for something analogous to “counterintuitive”) fashion which might politely be termed “selfless” – and do so in the near future. What we seem likely to hear, however, is that it would have worked if only certain IT architectural decisions had been better made.
This thing would be a case study for the next couple of decades if it weren’t going to be overshadowed by physically calamitous events, which I frankly expect. In another decade, Gen-X managers and Millennial line workers, inspired by Boomers, all of them much better at things than they are now, “will be in a position to guide the nation, and perhaps the world, across several painful thresholds,” to quote a relevant passage from Strauss and Howe. But getting there is going to be a matter of selection pressures, with plenty of casualties. The day will come when we long for a challenge as easy as reorganizing health care with a deadline a few weeks away.
UPDATE: I posted this as much for myself as for others to read. Today, Peggy Noonan weighs in. In case this is behind the paywall, here is her conclusion.
Even though it’s huge, and those who are reporting the story every day are, by and large, seasoned and have seen a few things, no one seems to know how it will end. Because it’s new territory. Does anyone believe the whole technological side can be fixed quickly? No. The president may eventually accept a brief delay in implementation—it is almost unbelievable that he will not—but does anyone think that the economics of the ACA, the content as set out and expressed on the sites, will flow smoothly, coherently, and fully satisfy the objectives of expanding health-insurance coverage while lowering its cost? You might believe that, but early reports of sticker shock, high deductibles and cancelled coverage are not promising. Does anyone think the president will back off and delay the program for enough time not only to get the technological side going but seriously improve the economics? No. So we’re not only in the middle of a political disaster, we’re in the middle of a mystery. What happens if this whole thing continues not to work? What do we do then?
This is the Titanic, folks.
I have watched the failed rollout of Obamacare this past three weeks and wondered where it was going. I have some suspicions. There is a lot of talk about delaying the individual mandate, as Obama did with the employer mandate. Megan McArdle has a post on this today. I think it is too late to fix or delay Obamacare.
With Nov. 1 storming toward us and the health insurance exchanges still not working, we face the daunting possibility that people may not be able to sign up for January, or maybe even for 2014. The possibility of a total breakdown — the dreaded insurance death spiral — is heading straight for us. The “wait and see if they can’t get it together” option no longer seems viable; we have to acknowledge that these problems are much more than little glitches, and figure out what to do about them.
Am I exaggerating? I know it sounds apocalyptic, but really, I’m not. As Yuval Levin has pointed out, what we’re experiencing now is the worst-case scenario for the insurance markets: It is not impossible to buy insurance, but merely very difficult. If it were impossible, then we could all just agree to move to Plan B. And if it were as easy as everyone expected, well, we’d see if the whole thing worked. But what we have now is a situation where only the extremely persistent can successfully complete an application. And who is likely to be extremely persistent?
Very sick people.
People between 55 and 65, the age band at which insurance is quite expensive. (I was surprised to find out that turning 40 doesn’t increase your premiums that much; the big boosts are in the 50s and 60s.)
Very poor people, who will be shunted to Medicaid (if their state has expanded it) or will probably go without insurance.
Levin points out: It is now increasingly obvious to them that this is simply not how things work, that building a website like this is a matter of exceedingly complex programming and not “design,” and that the problems that plague the federal exchanges (and some state exchanges) are much more severe and fundamental than anything they imagined possible. That doesn’t mean they can’t be fixed, of course, and perhaps even fixed relatively quickly, but it means that at the very least the opening weeks (and quite possibly months) of the Obamacare exchanges will be very different from what either the administration or its critics expected.
The insurance industry is already reacting to Obamacare and this will quickly become irreversible. This article is from September.
IBM, Time Warner, and now Walgreens have made headlines over the past two weeks by announcing that they plan to move retirees (IBM, Time Warner) and current employees (Walgreens) into private health insurance exchanges with defined contributions from employers.
The article calls it “maybe a good thing” but that supposes the exchanges will function. What if they don’t for a year or more ? What will health care look like in November 2014 ?
What happens next — as we’ve seen in states such as New York that have guaranteed issue, no ability to price to the customer’s health, and a generous mandated-benefits package — is that when the price increases hit, some of those who did buy insurance the first year reluctantly decide to drop it. Usually, those are the healthiest people. Which means that the average cost of treatment for the people remaining in the pool rises, because the average person in that pool is now sicker. So premiums go up again . . . until it’s so expensive to buy insurance that almost no one does.
Will that be apparent a year from now ? I’m sure the administration, and the Democrats, will do almost anything to avoid that. What can they do ? They’ve already ignored the law to delay the employer mandates. It’s too late to delay the individual mandate because individual policies are being cancelled right now.
If all goes well, I will be arriving at MIA on American 1665 from Port-au-Prince at 3:35 PM local time this Saturday. The plan, such as it is, is that I call Jonathan once I am through customs. I somewhat inappropriately made reservations for lodging much closer to FLL, just because I like the place (Villa Europa in Hollywood) and haven’t had the chance to stay there in a while. So anyway, southern Floridians interested in a probable wide-ranging and somewhat ethanol-assisted discussion (#civilsociety #crisisof2020 #statefailure #younameit) are encouraged to contact Jonathan and … figure something out. Hey, I have people for that.
(Just for fun, from out of my NCOBrief archives, an essay from July, 2010.)
You know, out of all of the things that I was afraid might happen, after the presidential coronation of Obama, the Fresh Prince of Chicago . . . I never considered that race relations might be one of those things which would worsen. Hey – lots of fairly thoughtful and well-intentioned people of pallor voted for him, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, or at least in some expectation of him being a fairly well adjusted and centrist politician, or at least a fast learner. Wasn’t that what all the top pundits, and the mainstream media were insisting, all during the 2008 campaign . . . well, once they got up from their knees and wiped the drool off their chins. Read the rest of this entry »
The Department of Defense requires that the labor time and materials used in building defense items on a “time and materials” basis, which is the great majority of all such items, be documented in excruciating detail. The costs of doing this are themselves allowed as expenses, so that the government ultimately pays for the costs of this proof. Therefore, when lurid accounts of $600 hammers procured by the Pentagon surface in the press, what is actually happening is a hammer whose functional equivalent might cost $20 in a hardware store is purchased in the Pentagon system, the actual time and materials cost of the hammer might be $60, with an additional $540 in documentation costs to ensure that the government is not being over¬charged for the item.
I admit, I am not Kafka.
But if that isn’t a snake biting its own tail arrangement, I don’t know what is.
What can I say?
Interesting, btw — I’ll bet there’s a story behind the decision to switch book covers from the one proposed earlier (at the top of the post, left) to the one the book now carries (right)!
There are opportunities, but they require a deep understanding of risk and security. A livelihood with day-to-day low-level insecurity and volatility is actually far more stable and secure than the cartel-state one that claims to be guaranteed.
The burdens of Fed manipulation and the cartel-state rentier arrangements will come home to roost between 2015-2017. Those who are willing to seek livelihoods in the non-cartel economy will likely have more security and satisfaction than those who believed that joining a rentier arrangement was a secure career.
There is a price to joining a parasitic rentier arrangement, a loss of integrity, agency and independence. Complicity in an unsustainable neofeudal society has a cost.
Jim Bennett and I went back and forth with our publisher, Encounter, on this cover. We are grateful for their diligent work, and we are very pleased with the final version. Encounter had the original idea of three bands depicting America 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. The original picture for 1.0 was different, but this one works nicely. It shows a farmer plowing with animal muscle power. That is precisely the image that captures the A1.0 era. It was a time of family-scale farms, and it was before the introduction of mechanical power. The second image is of an industrial era auto assembly line. This is the epitome of A2.0. It is mass production, motor power, wage work not independent business ownership, big business, big labor and in the background, big government. It was a great world in many ways, but it is a past that will never come back. Of course, it is impossible to photograph the future, and unless we had the budget to make a “science fiction” picture, the top band, A3.0 could only be a rough approximation. Still, this pictures captures much of the story. It shows an exurban landscape, with a highway but lots of green. We anticipate that there will be much more dispersion of the American people across the landscape, for reasons we describe in the book, especially in Chapter 1: America in 2040. Also, the color scheme shows increasing brightness, indicative of the hopeful future we foresee for America.
Overconcentration of political belief systems by geography and especially by vocation, notably in journalism; the corresponding threat is misdiagnosis of motivation and identity of perpetrators.
This was on full display over the past week, and although the most prominent examples were instances of the amazingly robust narrative about a supposed right-wing fundamentalist Christian underground, the persistence of which reveals a great deal about the mindset of the “liberal” bien-pensant, they’re not the only ones who have this problem. Claiming that people in Boston are cowering under their beds and wishing they had AR-15s, or casually accusing various (and singularly unimpressive) American politicians of being Communists, isn’t much better than fantasizing about entirely nonexistent WASP terrorists. And there has already been at least one wild-goose chase in recent years, the nationwide Federal investigation to find the co-conspirators of Scott Roeder in the assassination of George Tiller. He didn’t have any, and was known very early on to have acted alone. Your tax dollars nonetheless went to work; see also “memetic parasitism,” below. Read the rest of this entry »
Intrade was the Breitbart of political prediction makers. Many bookies take political bets but Intrade, the offshoot of a sports betting shop, was the only one to specialize in politics and the only site to quote political odds in financial-market terms that speculators are comfortable with. There are alternatives to Intrade but none of them is quite as good.
Intrade’s closing doesn’t come as a complete surprise. It was long under pressure from a tacit coalition of domestic financial exchanges and gambling interests, operating indirectly through US regulatory agencies, the Justice Dept. and Congress. The untimely death a couple of years ago of Intrade’s founder and CEO may have left Intrade fatally vulnerable to political attack.
Maybe someone will eventually set up another site like Intrade in a country remote from US jurisdiction, but that is a tall order. Intrade’s closing is a big loss.
UPDATE: Possible financial irregularities. I have no idea if the insinuations of corruption at Intrade have any merit. Perhaps we will find out. Clearly, Intrade had few US friends other than its customers and quite a few other people who relied on Intrade for information unavailable elsewhere. In any event Intrade performed a valuable service and will not easily be replaced.
I recently reviewed Chris Anderson’s book Makers. What 3 D printing needs is the affordable, user-friendly, versatile device to move 3 D printing from the arcane realm of techno-hobbyist geeks to the general population’s “early adapters”, which will put the next “consumer model” generation on everyone’s office desk; eventually as ubiquitous as cell phones or microwaves.
Formlabs should send one of these to John Robb and Shloky for a product review.
3D printers, driverless cars, nanotech: the 21st century looks to be even more different from the 20th century than the 20th was from the 19th. American politics and institutions are going to change much more rapidly than most pundits and politicos can yet understand.
Walter Russell Mead’s wicked good blog Via Meadia has many posts which track closely with the arguments Jim and I are making. I am sure all this great material will end up in a forthcoming book by him about the demise of the Blue Model (a term he invented) and what is coming next.
I am going to shamelessly recycle this: “the 21st century looks to be even more different from the 20th century than the 20th was from the 19th.” This is a very pithy observation which captures our vision of America 3.0, which of course we cannot really predict with a lot of detail. As Bruce Sterling wisely said:
Nothing obsolesces like “the future.” Nothing burns out quite so quickly as a high tech avant-garde. Technology doesn’t glide into the streamlined world of tomorrow. It jolts and limps, all crutches and stilts, just like its ancient patron, the god Hephaestos.
Still, we have to imagine the future, not so we will be correct then, but so we can plan, think, and act now. We also have to imagine the future so we don’t think today’s setbacks, as serious as they may be, are the apocalypse. Everyone reading this will be dead in 100 years, but our descendants will be alive, and they will have in part what we passed on to them. They will see us as living in a patch of history with a label and summed up in a few paragraphs. This is a phase, as is every other period in history.
I will confidently predict, as Mead does, that the pace of change will be faster than ever before. Moore’s Law will be in force for a long time to come, I hope.
What is particularly cool about the Mead quote, almost suggesting some kind of brain-meld via the astral plane between Mead and Bennett-Lotus, is the reference to “3D printers, driverless cars, nanotech” — each of these figure prominently in our first Chapter, America in 2040. One muse, three authors?
I was a teenager when the Manson murders went down, in the autumn of 1969 – of course, the cruel and inexplicable murder of a movie star and several of her friends made all the headlines, and had lots of law-abiding citizens looking over their shoulders and being very careful about locking the doors and windows of their homes at night. It wasn’t until some time later that the associated murders of an elderly retired couple also hit the headlines of the LA Times, and other national newspapers. A blood-drenched, hippy cult with a weirdly charismatic leader had committed those murders in order – so they claimed – to trigger a devastating racial war, which they termed ‘helter-skelter’ from a Beatles song moderately popular at the time. Read the rest of this entry »
UPDATE: An an article at Belmont Club describes interest in alternative money creation as a way of anticipating inflation. It also goes further into a discussion of general competence.
The idea that Virginia should consider issuing its own money was dismissed as just another quixotic quest by one of the most conservative members of the state legislature when Marshall introduced it three years ago. But it has since gained traction not only in Virginia, but also in states across the country as Americans have grown increasingly suspicious of the institutions entrusted with safeguarding the economy.
What has changed is faith in the federal government, not just in Virginia but in a growing number of places. The lack of faith in the competence of government — and the soundness of the dollar — has been growing leading some states to create contingency plans in case the currency goes bust.
There may be a natural evolution to our fractionally reserved credit system that characterizes modern global finance. Much like the universe, which began with a big bang nearly 14 billion years ago, but is expanding so rapidly that scientists predict it will all end in a “big freeze” trillions of years from now, our current monetary system seems to require perpetual expansion to maintain its existence. And too, the advancing entropy in the physical universe may in fact portend a similar decline of “energy” and “heat” within the credit markets. If so, then the legitimate response of creditors, debtors and investors inextricably intertwined within it, should logically be to ask about the economic and investment implications of its ongoing transition.
Certainly “growth” seems to be fundamental to our economic health. That, of course, presumes a growing population but it also would be affected by a stagnant population with a growing age disparity. The obvious example of the latter is Japan.
The creation of credit in our modern day fractional reserve banking system began with a deposit and the profitable expansion of that deposit via leverage. Banks and other lenders don’t always keep 100% of their deposits in the “vault” at any one time – in fact they keep very little – thus the term “fractional reserves.” That first deposit then, and the explosion outward of 10x and more of levered lending, is modern day finance’s equivalent of the big bang. When it began is actually harder to determine than the birth of the physical universe but it certainly accelerated with the invention of central banking – the U.S. in 1913 – and with it the increased confidence that these newly licensed lenders of last resort would provide support to financial and real economies. Banking and central banks were and remain essential elements of a productive global economy.
The effect of asset bubbles on such a system is worrisome as the history of Japan and the recent history of the US have shown. The Panic of 1907 was largely responsible for the creation of the Federal Reserve. That financial crisis is thought, by the authors of a recent book, to have been a consequence of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, which destroyed a large amount of real assets and the insurance costs that were associated. The immediate cause was financial speculation but the real losses had added to the fragility of the system.
I don’t think George Will meant to be cruel when he wrote his recent article “The Time Bomb in Obamacare?” but he was and it is a recurring conservative mistake. Will focused on the law and the constitution. He found a bomb and he imagines he is a good bomb squad officer by analyzing the bomb and figuring out how it is going to blow up. What he missed, and it is crucial, is the vital step of clearing away the civilians. That is a cruel oversight and hurts the conservative cause. You have to make sure that people understand that there is a bomb and which direction to run so they do not get blown up.
The immediate threat for ordinary people is not Obamacare’s constitutional status, but what it will do to ordinary american’s access to care. Institutions that are caught in the payment squeeze will triage because otherwise they go broke and close, which would maximize suffering. Triage means that the lack of funds will cause them to try to maximize who they can save and cut off who they can’t afford to save. If you are going to be triaged, you need to know and you need to make alternate arrangements to pay cash, figure out how to live without needed care, or get your affairs in order. The later people figure this out, the more pain, suffering, and death Obamacare is going to cause.
Nothing George Will said about the law is wrong. By focusing on the Constitution and the law to the exclusion of the upcoming suffering of the people he ended up reinforcing a pernicious stereotype, one conservatives would do well to lose. Ultimately, the conservative focus on the law and the Constitution has the effect of reducing suffering and increasing the happiness of the people. This approach would be greatly increased in effectiveness if conservatives would directly say so instead of assuming people already knew. A great many people do not know and the conservative brand is suffering for it.
In our upcoming book, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century – Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come (available for pre-order here), Jim Bennett and Mike Lotus paint a word-picture of America in 2040, which is less a prediction and more an exercise in hopeful and forward-looking thinking for conservatives and libertarians. We include predictions regarding the impact of distributed manufacturing.
Right now we think of manufacturing as happening in China. But as manufacturing costs sink because of robots, the costs of transportation become a far greater factor than the cost of production. Nearby will be cheap. So we’ll get this network of locally franchised factories, where most things will be made within 5 miles of where they are needed.
It is a safe bet that the highest-earning professions in the year 2050 will depend on automations and machines that have not been invented yet. That is, we can’t see these jobs from here, because we can’t yet see the machines and technologies that will make them possible. Robots create jobs that we did not even know we wanted done.
It is important to remember that technological change destroys categories of jobs, and creates new ones that literally cannot be imagined yet.
We are going to be facing a tidal wave of creative destruction in the years immediately ahead.
Our book offers some ideas about why we are well suited to benefit from these changes, and how to navigate the rapids to get from here to there.
All such early orders would be very greatly appreciated.
The book is coming out in May. Promotional plans are chugging away. Any ideas anyone may have would be very much appreciated, and can be left in the comments on this post or future posts related to the book.
A friend asked for a three sentence summary. This is what I came up with:
America’s greatest days are yet to come. Just as the world of family farms and small businesses, America 1.0, gave way to the industrialized world of big cities, big business, big labor unions and big government, America 2.0, we are now moving into a new world of immense productivity, rapid technological progress, greater scope for individual and family-scale autonomy, and a leaner and strictly limited government. The cultural roots of the American people go back at least fifteen centuries, and make us individualistic, enterprising, and liberty-loving, equipping us to prosper in the upcoming America 3.0.
We will be posting frequently in the months ahead (both here and on the book’s own blog) about the America 3.0 and its arguments, and how the themes in the book relate to current events, to efforts to devise a long term strategy for the political Right in America, or to other writers or books which interest us or influenced us.
We anticipate setting up a Facebook and Twitter account for the book as well.
1) Refuse to negotiate with the Republicans on taxes and spending. If the economy recovers he will take credit for blocking the Republican attempt to destroy the middle class and benefit the rich. If the economy tanks he will blame the Republicans.
2) Use the Connecticut murders to rationalize more govt spending on Democratic constituencies in govt social service bureaucracies.
3) Use the Connecticut murders to bully Republicans, whom he humiliated in the budget negotiations and who therefore will go out of their way to cut bad deals to make themselves seem relevant, into going along with some kind of anti-gun legislation (perhaps a national licensing scheme or sales ban on semiautomatic rifles).
Obama may not succeed in these efforts, but it seems to me that they form his short-term political road map. Never let a crisis go to waste and all that, and so much the better if you can work another crisis into the mix.
What do you think it looks like Obama will do? Feel free to contribute your ideas in the comments.
(Note: Comments mentioning Benghazi, Syria, Fast & Furious or the word “debt” may be subjected to extreme mockery.)
(This line comes from the commenter “desiderius” at Hooking Up Smart, though a Google search reveals, with a bit of irony, earlier use at democraticunderground.com in connection with some George W. Bush controversy or other.)
Not even the cleverest among us knows the future. Perhaps we should temper our unhappiness over the election results by recalling the past. Who accurately foresaw 2012 from 2005 or even 2010? Who foresaw 1940 from 1928, or the moon landings from 1940, or the twenty-year Reagan boom from 1979? America’s future looks a bit bleak at the moment, but it is human nature to extrapolate too much from the present and to prefer confident predictions, even of bad outcomes, over the reality of constant uncertainty. Things are rarely as good or bad as they seem, and the only safe bet is on more surprises. Not all of these surprises will be bad. The election was a kick in the gut and it may take us a few days to get our bearings, but, going forward, we should resist the urge to indulge our negative feelings or to accept the comfortably gloomy scenarios as inevitable.
The country appears to be in the midst of a major transition, possibly moving from the top-down social, business and political framework whose effectiveness peaked after the Second World War, and which has been declining ever since, to a more decentralized America that is more consistent with the Founders’ vision. This is one of the main themes of the book that Lex and Jim Bennett are working on. I think that their America 3.0 is an attainable goal so long as there are enough citizens who see the possibilities and do not give up.
The short run seems likely to be difficult, but there is much to look forward to if we maintain our focus and constructive attitude.
My typing may be a bit off today as my dog bit me last night. It was partially my fault because he snapped at me as I was taking off his leash and I smacked him in the nose. He was faster than I was and bit my hand. Bassett hounds are supposed to be mellow but I got the one exception.
I voted a week ago by absentee so that is done. California has a bunch of state propositions and I voted no on all of them except 32, which would constrain union fund raising, but it will probably lose. I was disappointed to see NRO come out against it because of some footling concern about something. I have been disappointed by NRO several times this year, first when they fired John Derbyshire. His writing is funny and wise at the same time. You probably all know the story of the dispute, in which I believe that Derb was completely correct.
We also have this small matter of a presidential election today.
So a few days to go until Election Day; I guess we can call this the final heat. Texas is pretty much a red state stronghold, although there are pockets of blue adherents throughout. Yes, even in my neighborhood, there are a handful of defiant Obama-Biden yard signs visible, although outnumbered at least three to one by Romney-Ryan signs. It amounts to about three or four dozen, all told; I think that most of my neighbors prefer keeping their political preferences this time around strictly to themselves. Read the rest of this entry »
After watching the 2012 Presidential Debates, I’ve come to the conclusion we are now seeing a new branch of “President Debate Forensics” being established that is utterly different in objective than traditional one concerned with scorning points. Instead, it is concerned with communicating the candidate’s PRESIDENTIAL demeanor through visual media.
That it has been successful in communicating that demeanor can be seen in this Michael Barone piece. Barone says the public’s break towards Romney is happening with affluent suburban voters and particularly college educated women.
That tends to validate my alternative scenario that Mitt Romney would fare much better in affluent suburbs than Republican nominees since 1992, running more like George Bush did in 1988. The only way Pennsylvania and Michigan can be close is if Obama’s support in affluent Philadelphia and Detroit suburbs has melted away.
This also helps explain why Romney still narrowly trails in Ohio polls. Affluent suburban counties cast about one-quarter of the votes in Pennsylvania and Michigan but only one-eighth in Ohio.
A pro-Romney affluent swing is confirmed by the internals of some national polls. The 2008 exit poll showed Obama narrowly carrying voters with incomes over $75,000. Post-debate Pew Research and Battleground polls have shown affluent suburbanite Romney carrying them by statistically significant margins.
In particular,college-educated women seem to have swung toward Romney since Oct. 3.He surely had them in mind in the foreign policy debate when he kept emphasizing his hopes for peace and pledged no more wars like Iraq and Afghanistan.
At this point, my gut says that the Romney campaign bet it all on the debates to get past the Pro-Obama media filters to voters and prepared accordingly.
Romney’s debate performances moved the focus groups so consistently. I have to think that his debate preparation firm was coaching him through his debate preparation with multiple primary and general election focus groups. Focus groups that were providing video performance feed back to Romney through out both the Republican Primary and General Election campaigns.
Romney just set a new and very high bar in American Presidential campaigning by founding a new “Presidential forensics” branch of debate. One that isn’t intended to “win” debates in the traditional debate forensics sense of “scoring points.”
“Presidential forensics” Romney-style is intended to showcase the candidate’s ability to project a PRESIDENTIAL demeanor to a visual media audience past media gatekeepers, whatever the debate format or moderator bias.
Presidential debates are public demonstrations of leadership ability, not policy, and are THE place where the arguable majority of voters who rely on “non-verbal intelligence” decide who to vote for. The more PRESIDENTIAL a candidate looks, the better he does. As I did with the 2nd Debate, I watched this one with the sound off and a text crawl line to try and understand what the debate was communicating to those “non-verbal intelligence” voters.
General impression — This was Obama’s best debate. The CBS moderator Bob Schieffer played it straight. Romney looked Presidential, which was both his goal and his outstanding success.
These are my notes in rough time order.
1. The visuals with Obama and Romney have been more of the same from the previous debates. Romney is more polished and Obama lectures and glares. Romney smiles and engages. Obama seems angry, but has less head up, nostrils showing, arrogance in his visuals. Rinse and repeat.
2. The visuals on Romney as he speaks of serious issues is a engaged, serious face. He is talking to the moderator and through him to the American people. Obama’s posture is more hunched over than Romney. Obama points _at_ the moderator where as Romney points in another direction. It is a subtle thing, but is makes the point for Romney without the…threat?…Obama seems to have with his pointing gestures.
3. Ohhh… There is Romney’s constipated smile. That has to be the worse TV angle he has had. This seated format limits his playing the camera angles like the first two debates. If this seated format had been the first one, Romney would not have scored as big a win.
4. Romney seems to have a conscious effort going to keep his chin tucked when speaking to avoid even a hint of the head up head pose Obama had in the previous two debates. The seated format gives Obama and the camera men more lee way to video Obama in a less visually arrogant pose while seated or speaking.
5. There are the Obama death glares and the Romney constipated smiles going back and forth.
6. Now Romney talking to the moderator. Chin tucked. Romney’s gestures seem smaller and less expressive than the last two debates while his facial expressions have grown more intimate. This will play VERY STRONGLY with women voters. Obama just lost the election by 7% or more. I can see a practiced before the television screen expression for “Q” rating effect and Romney is doing it well, over and over again!!!
7. Both candidates are wearing American flag pins. The red-blue visuals of the ties from the first two debates between the two men have changed. Romney went for a Red tie with Blue stripes…again subtle, but powerful imagery. Romney is also using expressive hand gestures, those in the intimate close up are not seen, but the pull back they provide exclamation points. Read the rest of this entry »
Presidential debates are public demonstrations of leadership ability, not policy, and are THE place where the arguable majority of voters who rely on “non-verbal intelligence” decide who to vote for. The more PRESIDENTIAL a candidate looks, the better he does. If you want to understand what “non-verbal intelligence” voters responds to in a debate, watch it with the sound off and take notes.
The following are my impressions from doing just that.
1. Obama did better, Romney scored points, Crowley cut off both Romney’s Fast and Furious and Benghazi responses. Crowley gave the impression she was a debate participant supporting Obama, rather than a moderator. This diminished Obama, in terms of the non-verbals, by making him seem less PRESIDENTIAL.
2. There were several Bush-Gore 2000 like moments of confrontation between Romney and Obama.
3. Romney’s non-verbals were more polished, non-threatening, and he had a consistent standing physical stance the pick up artist community calls “measured vulnerability” used by those affecting relaxed Alpha male dominance with women. (The stance is when your body is at a slight angle to those you are speaking too, your legs are apart and feet at an angle.)
4. Obama had a stance that was more squared up with those he was speaking with. Obama also used a lot of pointing gestures early, like a professor trying to affect physical dominance with a student. He then changed his non microphone hand to a loose fist, and using a full chopping motion rather than pointing later.
5. Romney kept his non-microphone hand flat, moved it side to side or above his head and down when the ABC text crawl line mentioned “deficit” or “taxes”. Romney seldom used pointing. When he did it was at the ground or himself.
6. The “split-cam” was not good for Obama (on ABC) due to a head up, nostrils visible, sitting stance. It was sometimes bad for Romney, who occasionally had a constipated look watching Obama. There were other camera angle shots that were more flattering to Obama, but a couple of times that ABC flashed them, Romney was in the foreground fouling the shot of Obama. The number of times ABC went to the bad camera angle on Obama had me thinking Romney was playing to camera angles by positioning himself where that was the only “good” shot of Obama. Later in the debate ABC went to downward camera angles on both Obama and Romney.
I see no real change in the pre-second debate momentum of the race. Democrats will claim Obama won and people who don’t like Obama will still dislike him.
The fact that Romney spoke forcefully about jobs, energy prices and the economy are much less important that the fact he looked PRESIDENTIAL.
Looking PRESIDENTIAL means Romney gives people who don’t like the economy permission to vote Obama out. The preference cascade that Romney kicked off with the first debate — by establishing that he is a man who can take command — will accelerate.
We have a Romney electoral college rout of Obama in the making.
Today, the Sunday morning TV shows on politics demonstrated the response of the Obama campaign to Romney’s debate win last week. Paul Krugman, who looks more and more like a political cheerleader and less like an economist, led the charge. The topic was the “five trillion dollar tax cut.”
This “five trillion dollar tax cut” figure is arrived at by taking his statement that he will cut rates by 20% and limit deductions. Multiple the total tax revenue per year by 20% and you get five trillion. This same reform was done in 1986 and the result was a 15 year economic boom. The results are discussed here.
Twenty years ago today (2006), President Ronald Reagan signed into law the broadest revision of the federal income tax in history. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 — the biggest and most controversial legislative story of its time — had lawmakers, lobbyists and journalists in Washington in an uproar for two years. Despite nearly dying several times, the measure eventually passed, producing a simpler code with fewer tax breaks and significantly lower rates. The changes affected every family and business in the nation.