China and its Discontents

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“There Is Only So Much I Will Do for the Atlantic”

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“I watched the O’Donnell-Coons Delaware “debate” last night. I started watching the Harry Reid – Sharron Angle Nevada version tonight. After the opening statements, I realize: I am not that brave. Where is my beer? Someone tell me how this turns out.” – James Fallows

From China, all of this seems so small. Seconding: where’s my Tsingtao? James Fallows is great.

Posted via email from williamyale’s posterous

Written by Will

October 14th, 2010 at 7:13 pm

This Man is Insane

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“What if Obama is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together his actions? That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”

— Newt Gingrich, quoted by the National Review, arguing that President Obama “is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works.”

From Political Wire.

Written by Will

September 13th, 2010 at 12:28 am

Obama’s Bad Analogy

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President Obama at a fundraiser for Patty Murray:

They spent almost a decade driving the economy into a ditch. I mean, think about it, if this — if the economy was a car and they drove it into the ditch. (Laughter.) And so me and Patty, and a bunch of others, we go down there and we put on our boots and we’re pushing and shoving. And it’s muddy and there are bugs and we’re sweating — (laughter) — and shoving, pushing hard. And they’re all standing there sipping Slurpees — (laughter) — and watching and — “you’re not pushing hard enough.” “That’s not the right way to push.” (Pretends to sip a Slurpee.) (Laughter and applause.)

So finally, finally, Patty and I and everybody, we finally get the car up on level ground. We’re about to go forward. And these guys come and tap us on the shoulder, and they say, “We want the keys back.” (Laughter.)

You can’t have the keys back. You don’t know how to drive. (Applause.) You don’t know how to drive. (Applause.) You can’t have them back. (Applause.) Can’t have them back. You can’t have them back. We are trying to go forward. We do not want to go backwards — into the ditch again.

You notice, when you want to move forward in your car, what do you do? You put your car in “D.” (Applause.) When you want to go backwards, you put it in “R” — (applause) — back into the ditch. Keep that in mind in November. (Applause.) That’s not a coincidence. (Laughter.)

And Ezra Klein’s response:

Maybe I’m just breathing too much of The Washington Post’s air, but that last bit bugs me. The driving analogy? Fine. It’s a colorful way of making a fair point about Republican mismanagement of the economy. But that bit about “D” and “R”? It doesn’t feel presidential. It’s more like the sort of joke that your liberal grandmother would forward you. It’s lame.

My instinctual reaction when I heard that was the same. Obama’s been using the driving analogy for a while, though.

Written by Will

August 18th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Bike Promotion is a New World Order Conspiracy!

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Enter Dan Maes, nutjob candidate for governor of Colorado:

“At first, I thought, ‘Gosh, public transportation, what’s wrong with that, and what’s wrong with people parking their cars and riding their bikes? And what’s wrong with incentives for green cars?’ But if you do your homework and research, you realize ICLEI is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty,” Maes said.

I’m not sure how that follows.

Written by Will

August 5th, 2010 at 2:01 am

Denying Right to Worship is a ‘Betrayal of Our Values’

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I agree – it is a categorical negation of the Constitution to bar the adherents of any religion the right to build a house of worship. From Michael Bloomberg:

The World Trade Center site will forever hold a special place in our city, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans if we said no to a mosque in lower Manhattan.

“Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11, and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values and play into our enemies’ hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists, and we should not stand for that.

That is a great speech. The archetypal speech on religious freedom, even.

Written by Will

August 4th, 2010 at 2:07 am

Senate Republicans Cry Over Donald Berwick

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Per Politico this morning, Senate Republicans are planning to obstruct the nomination of Donald Berwick to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services over Berwick’s previous statements in favor of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

“He is, as far as I am concerned, bad news,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “If he wants to turn America into the National Health Service in England — he thinks that is the model — he is going to find a lot of pushback.”

But what exactly are they opposing him for? What policies does he intend to pursue that the Republican caucus can’t support? The Politico article never makes it clear what Senate Republicans are actually against, beyond the amorphous bogeyman of the NHS. Berwick is clear, however, what he supports: “universal coverage, ‘centralized stewardship’ and guaranteed care regardless of income.” All of these things are goals of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I can’t tell whether the Politico article is not accurately representing Senate Republicans or whether Senate Republicans are simply making up excuses to obstruct. My guess is the latter.

The Crazy Have Arrived

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“I knew that we’d be buddies when I met her when she said, ‘Drill here, drill now.’ And then I replied, ‘Drill, baby, drill’ and then we both said, ‘You betcha!'”
— Sarah Palin, quoted by the Wall Street Journal, recalling a previous meeting with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). (from Political Wire)

Written by Will

April 9th, 2010 at 4:17 am

Obama’s Socialist Indoctrinaction Speech to Our Children

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“No, I don’t,” said Greer. “But I would anticipate, based on this President being so vocal and so aggressive about his vision of America, where government is in every aspect of our lives, I believe that the speech that he was gonna give, based on the lesson plans, is different.”

That was Jim Greer in response to a question asking for proof of his claims by CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux. Greer, the Florida GOP Chair, last week lambasted Pres. Obama’s upcoming address to schoolchildren as socialist indoctrination. He recently became more receptive to the speech when the full text was released.

I would have liked Malveaux to then respond, “Yes Jim, a belief that is completely divorced from reality befitting your absurd point of view.”

Written by Will

September 8th, 2009 at 1:35 am

Scarcity and Political Campaigns

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Chris Anderson’s recent article in Wired on the benefits of abundance versus scarcity got me thinking. Can treating processing power as abundant, and thus opening up creativity, innovation, and success, be something that I can apply to political campaigns? The prime question is: what should be considered the abundant factor in campaigns? Voters?

Tech Is Too Cheap to Meter: It’s Time to Manage for Abundance, Not Scarcity

Campaigns often treat voters as rather expensive entities. Millions are spent on direct mail, prime-time advertisements, and even telemarketing tools. In low turnout primaries, some candidates end up spending upwards of a $100 on each actual voter. One need only look at the last candidate I put energy into, Terry McAuliffe, who spent $90 per voter for the June primary. With all that money spent, how did his opponent Creigh Deeds turn the tide? What if (to the campaigns at least) every vote “didn’t” count?

The most surprising implication in this statement is that campaigns don’t need to work for every vote. This should have already been bored into me. Countless times, I’ve been told to drop a long phone conversation, or to not answer every obscure policy wonk, or not spend an inordinate amount of my time at any one door. Quantity rather than depth is bred into every campaign worker’s mentality because voter’s won’t remember more than two minutes of a conversation anyway.

This philosophy is not, however, worked into the macro level. Although you as an individual will not talk to that voter again, the campaign certainly will; through mass media and thousands of other volunteers, scarce voters will be hawkishly guarded. In the McAuliffe campaign, telemarketing calls were the communication mode du jour. This technique, meant to amplify the abilities of volunteers, instead magnified the problem. The more voters heard about Terry over the phone, the less sure they were about their support. Towards the end, we dropped telling people about Terry at all, focusing solely on Deeds. People don’t remember much about your particular conversation, but they do remember how you and everyone’s uncle called their house ten times.

Terry’s campaign had two key parts backwards. They treated voters as scarce and public patience and goodwill as abundant. This passage from Anderson’s article on cell phone companies and voicemail storage mirrors this:

They managed the scarcity they could measure (storage) but neglected to manage a much more critical scarcity (customer goodwill). No wonder phone companies are second only to cable TV companies in “most hated” rankings.

They also gave the most attention to what should have gotten the least attention. At the individual level, it pays to spend more personal time with a voter (as explained later). At the macro level, it doesn’t pay to push more contacts (i.e., spend more of the campaign’s time) with every voter.

Imagine a hypothetical campaign in which more voter contact was not always the end goal. What, instead of micro-targeting, would seed the campaign’s message across a wide swath of abundant voters? The voter’s themselves! A campaign that relied on an abundance of voters to spread its message becomes a movement, which is why campaigns rarely qualify.

In a scarce-voter world-view, the priority of campaigns is control – dictate the message, work directly through mass media, and don’t deviate. In an abundant-voter world-view, supporters would carry their personalized and human voice of support organically to exponentially growing numbers of people. In abundant-voter campaigns, there is a degree of trust and empowerment transferred between the campaign and the average supporter. Rank and file volunteers are encouraged to voice their support in as many diverse ways as possible because ultimately, personal relationships carry aboard more supporters than going off-message loses voters. Abundant-voter campaigns use phone tools to ensure name recognition and minimal tracking numbers, but ultimately put the most faith in long-lasting, in-depth, personal contact with campaign workers and volunteers. This starts with canvassing, but is fully realized in one-on-one meetings, house parties, and non-campaign socialization (which can all still be tracked quite effectively for accountability purposes). I only need to remember one piece of advice to re-affirm this idea: ‘They’ll come in for Barack, but they stay because of you.’ Finally, abundant-voter campaigns use television, mass-media, and stump speeches to engage voters in the same way campaign workers do in person: by treating voters, on a policy level, as intellectually-equal to the most senior campaign strategists.

It’s hard to change the prevailing philosophy solely in favor of statistics and ever-increasing numbers of voter contacts. This view is cemented in the minds of campaign strategists. Obama’s campaign took the abundant-voter philosophy. Many columnists would argue that since Obama’s campaign did not catapult an issue lasting Obama, it does not count as a movement. I disagree. A generational shift in organizational thinking is coming, and not just in campaigns. A new group of Americans, and many more born after them, who are inspired to organize government, business, and non-profits with the abundant-philosophy of the Obama campaign will radically transform society. I only hope that the administration lives up to the promise of its campaign.

Written by Will

July 13th, 2009 at 7:44 am

Parody on Fox Ads

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Actually, it’s real.

Written by Will

May 5th, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Politics

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