Rusty Cage

muse to the renaissance of medieval times

Election Marketing 101

Fred Barnes writes in the WSJ:

Had Mr. Romney won half the Hispanic vote, he’d probably be president-elect today. As it was, billions of dollars were spent, millions of people enthralled, and the politics of Washington and the nation dominated—all by a presidential campaign that led to nowhere. The survivor in chief was the status quo.

While most of the piece engages in wholesale denial of your very own markets and marketing, it’s stunning to see , on ostensibly the premier business publication, such a sloppy business argument.

Look at it this way: if Mr Barnes were CEO of a soap company, he is basically saying that he spent billions on advertising to a market he fails to understand . Even worse, when rationalizing the poor financial return to his investors, he bemoans that he could not get 50% market share of the very demographic his soap company ignores. It’s like reading a bad business plan — if we just get 30% of the market, we’ll be successful. Of course, the challenge is getting the 30% or in this case, the magical 50%.

I encourage Mr Barnes to keep spending a lot of zeroes on advertising and just don’t worry about the marketing or the product– you’ll show them next time — 60%.


Post-Election Thoughts 2012

A few thoughts on Election 2012, in no particular order:

1) Tea Party — with the defeat of Allen West, Joe Walsh and almost Michelle Bachmann, the Tea Party brand seems a bit toxic to voters. That doesn’t mean that they will cede , I expect them to amplify — the question is how the GOP responds to that.

2) Pundits — from George Will to Dick Morris, the influential pundits unquestionably prove themselves as nothing but ideologues masquerading as thoughtful analysts. And what is the consequence for this epic fail: absolutely nothing. They’ll still write columns and appear on the Sunday political shows as they represent the ‘balance’ our media so desperately craves. Remember: the point is not to work toward knowledge and truths — that is not the role of the media — but to simply enable a point/counterpoint with facts and reason secondary to the exercise.

On a local level, we get nothing better– ideologues telling us stuff not from thoughtful analysis or consideration but what fits with their ideology.  And their consequence?: radio time.

3) Science– somehow we allow a political conversation as valid regardless of how willingly it defies basic principles of science. So if I run a set of statistics to support my argument, you can merely claim that my data is ‘skewed’ with no underlying counter analysis and in our warped political theater, that becomes good enough. Or, I can claim that global climate change simply does not exist, not based upon a reasoned scientific argument but indeed as a counter to overwhelming scientific evidence.  Or I can fabricate how female anatomy works to accommodate my ideological views. Or a party whose orthodoxy requires you to dismiss evolution.

4) Equality — the issues of marriage equality are moving very fast, faster than I certainly expected. What had been a social wedge issue helping the right now looks to be a social edge helping the left. I consider myself progressive as this issue, like most issues over the past centuries, progresses toward more openness and more equality. In my view, that’s what defines progressiveness: you adapt with the world and your understanding of the world around you.

5) War on Drugs — what has been a disastrous policy in cost and lives now seems to be moving in a different direction; and I daresay, a progressive one as states like CO and WA now legalizing. Again, the trends are toward a shift away from policies that fail on a cost/benefit side.

6) Mandates and Bipartisanship — I simply find it remarkable that the framework for bipartisanship is ceding liberal policies and principles to those of the right. My hope and expectation is that Obama can shift the framework and the narrative of this ingrained expectation. Based upon Mitch McConnell’s press release, bipartisanship means the president ceding to the House. I think the President should directly and aggressively challenge the House leadership because if you want to strike a deal, you don’t give up all your cards before you get to the table.

7) Epistemic Closure — I know this is viral but it is the distillation of the many things wrong with our political discourse and the notion of ‘balance’ and the unwillingness to see what is plainly in front of one’s eyes:

8) Money — I’ve been critical of the Citizens United decision but it appears that the barrage of money may not have marginally shifted the playing field on a national level.  I’m not sure of the effects in downstream races so that will be interesting to see.

9) Demographics — the demographics continue to shift so if you want to build a viable party you need a more viable platform to appeal to Hispanics/Latinos. The shift will only accelerate and of the strategic errors of the Romney campaign, the hard right stance, so dear to the Tea Party, likely cost him the election.

10) Donald Trump — for showing that the culture of CEO celebrity is as vacuous as the celebrity culture surrounding The Situation and Snooky. At least, Snooky does not get a political platform

11) Hillary 2016!

Mitt Romney’s 3 AM Call

Scene: Master bedroom in Romney household. Mitt Romney and Ann Romney asleep. A digital clock displays 3:02 AM

[phone rings, Mitt Romney , not fully awake, answers]

Romney: Hello?

Caller: How could you?!

Romney: I’m sorry, who is this?

Caller: I stood on stage in Tampa telling people what a good man you were and why you should be the next president, and you do this to me!

Romney: Who is this?! What are you talking about?

Caller: Colin just told me all about you. How could you keep that from me?

Romney[pauses]: Condi? Is this Condi Rice?

Caller[sarcastically]: Nooo, it’s Hillary. Not only can’t you keep your colors straight but you can’t keep your Secretaries of State straight either! You’re unbelievable!

Romney[more alert now]: What are you… [pauses with realization] Is this about the Sununu thing? I never said I was black, gee golly, we’ve met many times , how could you not know? You’re joking right? [forces chuckle]

Caller[voice rising]: Joking!! Why else would I endorse you?! Don’t you see I’m  black, a black woman!?

Romney[shaken]: Umm, I don’t know … I mean , yes, umm, you are black and a woman but it doesn’t matter to me. I mean, you matter because of your public service and foreign policy , but I never thought it was about you thinking me black. I don’t see how you would think me as black [hurriedly scribbles note” Be black? Discuss with team”] I mean, you don’t think I’m a woman ,too, I mean that would just be strange [chuckles and hurriedly scribbles “Be woman?” on note]

Caller[sarcastically]: Well then, let’s see what Marco Rubio has to say when I tell him you’re not Cuban or even Hispanic. We’ll see Mitt, we’ll see. [laughs uncontrollably]


Romney: Hello?, hello?

[cell phone rings, caller ID displays “Cain, Herman”. ROmney runs and exits]

[scene ends]


“Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama,” Sununu said.

Asked what those might be, Sununu pointed to race.

“Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him,” Sununu said.

By George

A while back, in the midst of a visit to the barber, I was deemed to be suffering from a rather serious case of white guilt given my vote for Obama in 2008. I was taken aback by the realization that my rather thoughtful approach to candidates and policy had been subconsciously subverted by an overwhelming sense of white guilt. In hindsight, I now see that my opposition to the foreign policy, the financial policy, health care policies and almost every policy of McCain/Palin were not driven by rigorous analysis, consideration or dichotomy of values but merely by my white guilt overtaking my sense of reason.

Who knew?

Apparently, George Will does as he rightly calls me out this election cycle:

Obama’s administration is in shambles, yet he is prospering politically. This may not, however, entirely be evidence of the irrationality of the electorate. Something more benign may be at work.


Perhaps a pleasant paradox defines this political season: That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up. Instead, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president. If so, the 2012 election speaks well of the nation’s heart, if not its head.

By George, he’s right!

I mean it’s utterly irrational to vote against Romney/Ryan given their view on health care, on foreign policy and on their fiscal policies. Indeed, to point out that the Ryan budget and policies are wholly implausible from an economics perspective is utterly irrational and actually driven by that crushing guilt , no thanks to President Obama.

As I considered the brilliant insights of one of conservatism’s leading intellects, I began to reassess my guilt in a more reasoned way and I experienced a near epiphany:

I never really liked Jimi Hendrix as a musician given his virtuosity on the guitar or his impact on guitar playing: I just felt guilty — purple haze all in my brain apparently.

I never found Richard Pryor to actually be funny while simultaneously offering a satirical view of society at a time of transition on race: I was just guilting myself to laugh.

I don’t think LeBron James is actually that talented; I just think the white guys on the opposing teams play down to bring LeBron up. You can see the guilt in their eyes every time LeBron slams it down; or Durant; or Westbrook; or Howard; or Jordan; or Griffin. Oops, sorry about Griffin. Damn you, guilt, their eyes scream as their opponents sail overhead.

I don’t actually like to read Ta-Nehisi Coates or enjoy his writing style; I just have this overwhelming guilt to read stuff black people write. Or listen to Jay-Z: if only he were white, I wouldn’t have to listen to it. My conscience would be clear and I could share my iTunes list with George Will.

And to my wife, who was a bit taken aback by my overzealous response as to my opinion of Beyonce’s attractiveness, I can now say with a straight face and with the conviction of my guilt, that I simply have all this guilt which makes me say things I don’t really mean .  Could I actually say that she is hideous : of course not, my guilt overwhelms me to do and say things I really don’t mean.

Damn you to hell, lever finger on election day!

Thanks George. It all makes sense now.

Summer Camp Journal – Day 2

Up at 5; line up with other campers outside. No one laughs at my observation that we look like a J Crew ad for khakis and polo shirts. Keep ironic question to myself: how do we value individualism when mandated to wear khakis?

Dirty looks in breakfast line when asking for Canadian bacon. Really craving a croissant.

Looking forward to swimming or canoeing later.


Summer Camp Journal

What follows are entries from my journal at conservative summer camp 2012. The names, places and events have been changed so any resemblance to historic or present day places, people. events is wholly random, or at least, part of liberal conspiracy.

I’ll be posting entries and insights from my journal over the next few weeks.

Day 1 

Get to camp and it’s pretty nice — well manicured grounds, beautiful view of Lake Concoctitikaka , counselors seem friendly.

Meet my roommates: George, Charles & Ted. I learn that while we sleep and hangout in one room, we don’t “share” the room but own our bunks and lease the room — most of the night spent reviewing and negotiating legal documents to define bunk boundaries, rights of ways and a lease-purchase agreement for the “common area”.

End up getting a swirlie for using the term “common area”; trying to memorize the more apropos “chamber of liberty and freedom”.

Second swirlie for using “apropos” — French apparently a no-no.





From the New Yorker profile on Michelle Bachmann in terms of her influences: 


Schaeffer, who ran a mission in the Swiss Alps known as L’Abri (“the shelter”), opposed liberal trends in theology. One of the most influential evangelical thinkers of the nineteen-seventies and early eighties, he has been credited with getting a generation of Christians involved in politics. Schaeffer’s film series consists of ten episodes tracing the influence of Christianity on Western art and culture, from ancient Rome to Roe v. Wade. In the films, Schaeffer—who has a white goatee and is dressed in a shearling coat and mountain climber’s knickers—condemns the influence of the Italian Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Darwin, secular humanism, and postmodernism. 

I think my thesis in terms of this blog’s tag line “muse to the renaissance of medieval times ” gains some validity.

What would Jefferson do?


From the Economist (not much I can add):

Of course, the previous underuse of countercyclical policy suggests that it’s more important than ever to get policy right now. Unfortunately, Washington is failing miserably on this score. Policy stances that were inadequate before now look dangerously tight. The Federal Reserve should have all the excuse it needs to reconsider its decision to halt purchases of government assets. Despite all the warnings about inflation, the core Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, which the Fed follows closely, rose just 1.3% in the year to the second quarter. That’s far too low.

Meanwhile, Congress’ behaviour looks incredibly reckless in light of new figures. This publication has argued consistently that while America needs to address its medium- and long-run fiscal challenges, immediate austerity would be a mistake. The dire economic situation undergirds this point: Washington should delay immediate fiscal cuts. Indeed, it ought to be spending more now and revisiting the possibility of a payroll tax cut.

The Maverick Narrative

If you want to look at the power of political narratives, you need to look at this post from The Fix:

McCain the maverick (again)

Arizona Sen. John McCain’s floor speech on Wednesday denouncing the negotiating tactics of some tea party-aligned members of Congress raises the question as to whether the famed maverick is back to his old tricks.

McCain derided the idea — pushed by some tea party-affiliated members like Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)— that raising the debt ceiling should be tied to adding a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, a proposal that lacks majority support in the Senate. (McCain supports the idea.)

He called such an argument “foolish” and bizarro”, adding that to portray the balanced budget amendment as a possibility amounted to “deceiving many of our constituents.” He also quoted extensively from aWall Street Journal op-ed that compared tea partiers to “hobbits”.

How the push back against the tea party contingent from the GOP establishment can be deemed ‘maverick’ is absurd. Senator McCain is voicing the establishment, there is nothing maverick about it. Furthermore, the maverick sheen is long evaporated since the 2008 election where maverick became synonymous with rashness and pandering.  Or his recent senate race where any policy approaching maverick ,a  strictly relative concept as it relies on variance from the republican orthodoxy, was jettisoned to garner the tea party votes so dissatisfied with his maverickness.

Do words have meaning any more or is simply calling something a ‘duck’ make it a duck? Or, more aptly, calling something a ‘maverick’ make it a maverick. Or a ‘hobbit’, a hobbit.


I’m awestruck at the headline using ‘Journalist’. The former titles “Executive Editor” and “Chief Executive ” apparently were less than apt.