Happy holidays from Ozean Media! May you be blessed with a better 2014 than this guy!
In all seriousness, Happy Holidays and we hope you all are blessed with a better 2014!
I am a sinner, a practicing Catholic (because I have not perfected it in any way, shape or form), and I think Rush Limbaugh is wrong about the Pope.
In fact, Rush Limbaugh is so wrong in relation to what he said about the Pope’s words, he should apologize.
It is always dangerous to discuss politics, let alone religion in such classy company; however, when one combines the two, one can get in real trouble.
Before we start, here are my biases: I am a practicing Catholic – that is I’m trying. In no way do I hold myself out to be a perfect Catholic or Christian. I am a highly flawed individual that attempts to strengthen his relationship with God, Christ and his teachings, and at times fails miserably. Please, do not accept this blog post as preachy or holier than thou.
I simply like this Pope. I like his style, and I am not the first to mention it.
In case you don’t want to click, these many articles – all with similar titles – are making the basic same points:
The Pope has the goal of building a church by appealing to people, the GOP should have the goal of building the party by doing the same.
However, last week in the midst of Black-Friday and the commerce surrounding it, the Pope released another document. This document is called the “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), a 50,000-word statement that calls for church reform and addresses a myriad of issues. It is a remarkable document that ranges from money to the role of women in the Church, and yes, I am such a nerd that I read it.
I have listened to Rush Limbaugh off and on since I was in college, and I fully realize he is in the rating business.
However, I think his reading of the document (if he read it at all) is wrong. He went so far as to put his comments online: here is a link to Rush’s rant about the Pope.
Here is an excerpt from his rant:
Now, if government wants to deregulate and get out of the way, then job creation will take place. What is capitalism? The value of anything is established in the private sector. That’s where the value of money is established. That’s where the value of work is established. The value of whatever it is you want to buy or trade, the private sector, capitalism, is where that value is established, not by government proclaiming it.
Here is the problem, Rush is flat wrong.
In my opinion, Rush never quotes from the document, but instead quotes from a press story about the document and then goes on to make a political statement.
In Rush’s own words, he states:
But the pope here has now gone beyond Catholicism here, and this is pure political. I want to share with you some of this stuff.
“Pope Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as ‘a new tyranny’”
The problem with Rush is fact: If you read the document, you will see that the word “capitalism” is never mentioned in the entire 50,000 words. Not once. Do a search, and I will wait.
So, I ask you, “who is making the pure political statement?”
He is speaking, not of capitalism, but of those of us who place consumption and markets above all else.
As you may recall, I have written a strong critique of Libertarianism and why it is wrong, and I think, in my humble opinion, the Pope is saying some of the same things in a more eloquent way.
Here is some of what the Pope actually wrote:
56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
60. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric.
Markets are a relentlessly efficient way of allocating resources and maximizing profits. They are ruthless, merciless, and cold-hearted. There is no value judgements being made by markets, just allocation.
The Pope is NOT critiquing capitalism per se, but how human ideologies and human behavior react to markets. The Pope is warning those who place free-markets above everything else that it may be time for a tune up.
Before you start calling me a commie, I believe in free-er markets, just not absolute unfettered, unregulated markets. There is an important difference.
I think this Pope is offering a PhD level course on how to change a large institution steeped in tradition and values. As many have said, I think the GOP could learn a lot from this Pope – especially when it comes down to how to chose what to talk about and more importantly humility.
I would urge Mr. Limbaugh to actually read the document and not a press story about said document. Please don’t fall into the trap we accuse many liberals of falling into. Why trust a press article, when the source document is there for all to read?
Mr. Limbaugh you made a mistake, you should NOT twist or trust a press article to make a political point, and frankly I think you should apologize.
Happy Holidays to all. As you shop, keep in mind the Pope’s words regarding unbridled consumerism, you may just have a happier holiday!
PS. You should follow the Pope on Twitter! (I find it tremendously amusing that one can follow the Pope on Twitter!)
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, during a Tofurkey induced political-nerd Internet session, I came across a copy of the CIA’s Training Manual & Handbook written for their analysts entitled: Analytic Thinking & Presentation for Intelligence Producers. Analysis Training Handbook.
The handbook was originally published in 2000, and I was enthralled with the document. After all, in a sense, political consultants are producers of Intelligence. It just happens to be political consultants trade in mostly open-source intelligence.
At first, I felt I was being respectfully subservient. I was going to go behind the door and learn the secrets to being a great CIA analyst.
However, as I read the document, it became apparent that what I had stumbled upon was the government’s version of Strunk & White.
It is a good read, but you will learn no secrets, only helpful hints such as:
Again, there is nothing earth shattering, but it is an interesting read.
The part that I found most interesting is the section entitled “Developing Analytical Objectivity.”
In a world filled with talk radio and infotainment, it is an important point to raise awareness about.
We have talked extensively about the cognitive nature of our brains and some of the fallacies and tricks our brains play on us – especially in the political arena.
This warning given to some of our country’s brightest thinkers acts as a reminder that if the smartest person in the room must protect against biases, so must we.
While there are no state secrets in the document, we all can use a refresher on how to write and think more clearly. I strongly urge you take a quick read.
Read and enjoy for yourself.
I got myself into a little trouble yesterday with some comments on Senator Harry Reid’s redefining of the cloture rule so that a mere majority of the Senators present is needed to limit and debate and move on, the so-called “nuclear option.”
I hate that he did it, and I think my Democratic friends will rue the day they did it, when they return to the minority shortly.
For me it was a case of the Democrats not being able to win, so they changed the rules. Straight up Kobayashi Maru! (warning: that was nerd talk, look it up!)
However, none of that got me in trouble. Later in the evening, I was thinking about it and wrote on facebook:
If I am truly being honest, I hate what Harry Reid did with the nuclear option, but I kinda respect that he found his cojones. I hope the GOP finds theirs. Reid is straight up gangster politics. #respect
Yes, it was a flippant comment, but I was completely unprepared for the backlash from my conservative friends. There were expressions of strong dislike for Senator Reid, accusations were thrown out, but I was completely unprepared for one comment.
One went so far as to say that me and people ‘who think like u r causing the downfall of our country.”
Really, the downfall of our country? Come on, you give me way too much credit.
However, instead of writing “You, Sir, are feeble minded person located smack dab in the middle of the bell-curve when rating intelligence!”, I thought I would explain myself more.
Again, let’s start with it was the wrong move. I want to make that clear before I get blamed for the Kennedy assassination today.
When we do both of those things: We must congratulate the Democrats on their raw, Machiavellian political calculation. Remember, one of the biggest sins you can commit in politics is to under-estimate your opponents.
Here is the calculation:
BOTH sides at one time or another have flipped flopped and threaten to use the nuclear option; therefore, the Republicans can’t do jack squat about it without hurting ourselves or looking like big babies.
Yes, Republicans could STILL use the Senate rules to slow the Senate to a crawl – make them read each bill and that kind of crap. Problem? Republicans would only look spiteful.
However, here is the REAL danger and Machiavellian calculation: the move that both parties have discussed, but the Democrats actually had the cajones to do – could “work”.
When I say “work”, I mean the Senate starts confirming people. We may hate the nominees’ values, etc, but they will get confirmed. The American people see this movement and re-act favorably to the movement. After all, people are tired of a gridlocked nation, and deep down most reasonable people will admit a President should have his choice of people unless they are disqualified due to scandal, etc.
This leads to the biggest danger for the GOP – when things start moving, obstructionists will realize they can’t just obstruct, leading to the biggest horror of them all:
The US Senate moves to a reasonable, sound, common sense, bipartisan Chamber that it was designed to be.
So, when you are honest and you look at just the politics as Niccolo would, one must reluctantly tip their hat to Senator Reid.
We have heard your request, and we are making some small changes to our website.
As you may know, we love the science of politics. We are true political nerds, and we embrace that aspect of our personalities.
Many of our blog posts are driven by what political studies, political research, or political books we are currently reading. Some are even driven by Ozean Media’s original research.
Over the past year, we have been asked repeatedly to create a central library of our research.
You asked for one place for all political research, and we listened.
Today, we announce the opening of the official Ozean central repository of all political information & political library.
On one convenient page, you will find Ozean’s Political Case Studies, Ozean’s Original Political Research, and links to any political science studies that Ozean discusses or cites in our political blog.
BTW, did you know Ozean’s blog was listed by Campaigns and Elections Magazine as a must read? You do now!
The political libray is a work in progress, and Ozean hopes you will bring any errors to our attention by contacting Ozean.
Enjoy the homework.
No need to thank us, you’re welcome!
Link to: Ozean’s political library
It was my absolute pleasure to be a guest lecturer at the University of Florida’s graduate political science program.
I was extremely impressed with the engagement and intellect of the students.
My only concern is 90% of the students in the graduate program self identified as Democrats.
Come on fellow Republicans, don’t fear SPSS. We need you!
As you can from the photo above, I was aiming for Guest Lecturer of the Year!
Knowing my fellow Gators, I believe the probability of me winning has increased dramatically……just saying!
Let’s address this first: I love Jon Stewart. I think he is a borderline genius and just damn funny.
I don’t get to watch as much as I would like, but occasionally I go on a Hulu binge.
When I came across this clip this past week, I couldn’t stop laughing.
It is pure gold. Go ahead, watch it. I’ll wait………
See? Pure gold!
However, between my fits of laughter, I remembered a ‘serious’ scientific study performed on the incivility in political media that I read a short time ago.
It is an interesting study looking at Blogs, Talk Radio, Newspapers, and Cable News and their use of outrage and incivility. The researchers selected three examples from each media and then coded 10 weeks of content looking for outrage and incivility.
Interestingly, Jon Stewart was not one of the content providers chosen for study’s review.
The coders identified 13 different manifestations of outrage language and behavior.
They are coded in the following categories:
Ideologically extremizing language
Use of obscene language
Now, I am pretty sure Jon Stewart would hit all just about every one of these researcher’s categories in a half hour show. In fact, he just about hits every one of them in the above segment alone.
However, the skeptic in me must question the research.
Here are the content providers they used to garner their conclusions and how they viewed their political perspective:
1. The Glenn Beck Show / Conservative
2. Countdown with Keith Olbermann / Liberal
3. Hannity / Conservative
1. Mark Levin / Conservative
2. Michael Savage / Conservative
3. Rush Limbaugh / Conservative
1. Moonbattery / Conservative
2. Orcinus / Liberal
3. Wonkette / Liberal
1. Cal Thomas / Conservative
2. Charles Krauthammer / Conservative
3. Leonard Pitts / Liberal
Bottom line, the research’s conclusions will only be as good as the input and the coding. And at both input points, it is fairly subjective.
However, it did not stop the researchers from stating a strong conclusion! And guess what?
From this study’s sample and coding decisions, the researchers arrive at the following conclusion:
When it comes to inflammatory media shenanigans, the right insists the left is worse, and the left insists the right is worse. Claiming persecution by the other side, and detailing how inaccurate and vindictive they are, is standard fare. Table 2 demonstrated that extensive out- rage language and behavior come from both the left and the right; is one side really worse than the other? In a word, yes. Our data indicate that the right uses decidedly more outrage speech than the left. Taken as a whole, liberal content is quite nasty in character, following the outrage model with emotional, dramatic, and judgment-laden speech. Conservatives, however, are even nastier. (emphasis added)
In fairness, the researchers in their final paragraphs acknowledged the weakness of their research:
We recognize that this research raises as many questions as it answers…..
1. Read the Study From Incivility to Outrage: Political Discourse in Blogs, Talk Radio, and Cable News
2. Re-watch the Jon Stewart clip. Laugh because it’s funny.
3. Ask yourself, if Jon Stewart were included in the sample, could you possibly reach the same conclusion?
In closing, this serves as a reminder that just because some “science” is published in a journal, doesn’t mean it is law.
In fact, the scientific method demands we question research.
This is the perfect example of why we must use our brains, and it has the added benefit of being funny!
This post started as a smart-alec facebook status, but the more I think about it, I’m not too far from being serious!
You are a magnificent country!
I am an American Republican political consultant from Florida, and I want you to hire us, more specifically me.
I’m serious, Republican politics in American is currently in a state of disarray, and I think the only way through this mess is to let it play out.
Some people feel that by shrinking a political party by purging those “less clean” than an arbitrary yet undefined set of standards is a path to victory. I disagree, but I’ve come to realize they aren’t listening to reason, succumbing to a hysteria that is griping some in the conservative movement.
I am becoming further resigned to the fact that there is significant pain ahead for the Republican party and conservatives in America. It seems some people must touch a hot stove in order to be reasonable!
In my opinion, Republicans have an increasing probability of allowing Hillary Clinton the Presidency because of this hysteria, and I want to be prepared.
I face a choice : stay and plow through it OR embrace a grand adventure.
Let’s try a Hail Mary for adventure: we are going to throw this appeal up on the Internet and see what happens. It could land with a THUD, but hey, I can tell my wife I tried.
1. I attended high school in what was Western Germany leaving weeks before the Berlin wall came down in 1989. You see, I leave a trail of freedom and economic growth where-ever I go.
2. I have been to Ireland : Dublin, The Rock of Cashel, Cahir, stayed at the Carrigeen Castle, Kenmare (my personal favorite), Kerry, Dingle, drove a car through the Gap of Dunloe (my favorite story), the Ring of Beara, kissed the Blarney stone, Cobh, Waterford, and countless pubs in-between!
2.4 My grandmother emigrated from the UK leaving from Cobh. I have a desire to do additional research!
3. I love Ireland: the people, the country, the pubs, and the food. (those who think Irish food needs improvement, don’t know Ireland! That is just old thinking!)
3.5 I think the lawn by the cricket pitch at Trinity College is one of the finest napping places in all the world after an international flight.
4. Having lived in Europe, I am somewhat familiar with a parliamentary system of Government. I have a working knowledge and can hit the ground running.
5. I think by importing some of the American political techniques, I can help drive a larger message that helps distinguishes between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.
6. I think having fresh eyes – without being weighed down with too much history – can help craft a plan for the future regardless of past entanglements.
7. Since there seems to be little ideological difference between to two major center-right parties in Ireland, I see the largest opportunity with Fianna Fail. I am confident that I can assist in researching, testing and creating messaging to return the Republican Party back to the largest party status.
8. Of course, I am open to Fine Gael placing me on retainer to NOT help Fianna Fail.
9. I drink Guinness because I truly believes it makes one strong.
10. I own a hurley AND a sliotar. I think the sport is AWESOME! I am a fan!
11. It is a 4 for 1 deal. I have a wonderful wife with an advanced degree who loves Ireland. Two wonderful children that would treasure my experience of living in a different country and having their horizons expanded past American borders (physical and intellectual).
12. My favorite band of all time is U2. Currently, I love Kings of Leon, but U2 is still the goto band!
13. I am out to prove that not all Americans who are conservative are crazy. Consider me an ambassador for American conservatives.
Okay, you should know exactly what you are getting.
So what do you say Ireland? Can you find a place for this American who would rather undertake an adventure than watch his party shoot themselves in the foot?
Let’s get Ireland moving again, seize Ireland’s rightful place in the world, and celebrate all that is Irish….together!
PS. This is a humorous (some may say not so humorous) way to indirectly ask my party to get their act together….unless you are serious Ireland. Fine Gael or Fianna Fail, please call me!
References are available upon request.
I am feeling energetic today, and I thought I would tackle an issue that I have been thinking about for weeks now. As with many deep discussions, it started with a beer between friends.
Maybe it is the contrarian in me, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I think the Libertarians’ philosophy is wrong.
Before we begin, there are some ideas from Libertarians that I find attractive – I like the idea of a smaller government, and I like the idea of allowing markets to operate more freely; however, when you take a Libertarians at their word, I think the entire philosophy starts to break down.
First let’s define Libertarian as I see it:
Again, we are going to take Libertarians at their word, and we are going to set aside the contradictory notion that people who think everyone should live their lives as they want, attempt to make the world operate under their philosophy.
I also do understand there are different strands of Libertarianism ranging from Chomsky to Paul – but for this blog post, we are going to work with the definition above.
Let’s start with the light lifting:
1) At its heart Libertarianism is incredibly selfish. Libertarians won’t call it that, but at its core, Libertarianism is indulgent, narcissistic, and just plain selfish.
2) The current Libertarianism coalition will split among social issues. Libertarians are cool kids at the moment.
When I attend Libertarian meetings, I see friends. Some of these friends I KNOW for a fact are conservative Christians. At the moment, economic issues are more salient to them; therefore, they are willing to caucus with the Libertarians to work on those issues.
However, as a country, we don’t have the luxury of working only on fiscal issues. Social issues will come up and they will matter – when that happens the current libertarian coalition will splinter.
That is a problem with breaking away from the GOP – when you are forced to put on paper what it actually means to be a Libertarian, it fractures the current Libertarian club.
3) Libertarianism is cruel. Markets fail and markets are unfeeling and damn right cruel. Here is a thought exercise: If someone is in the process of making a terrible decision that will result in their immediate death, do we watch them die or intervene?
4) There are some societal functions that do not respond to markets. Example: Pollution. If totally unregulated, corporations will pollute. Okay, if you assume eventually the market will correct it, ‘eventually’ may take 20 years and in the meantime an entire generation of children have jelly for brains.
5) If markets are completely unregulated, then all market segments will naturally move towards monopolies. There will be collusion to maximize profits. Humans cheat, that is what we do. So in the end, if you take Libertarians at their word, we all end up slaves to large monopolies and are at their whim. Ironically, the effort to decentralize has the result of centralizing power and economic wealth.
6) When disputes arise, who decides? If you are on your property blaring Lawrence Welk music at 2 am in the morning declaring your Liberty, am I not harmed? Yes, you have the right to your property and I have the right to sanity? Who wins? Who decides? Is it just the strongest person able to force their will? Is it Lord of the Flies? You just can’t say we have a court – someone wins – who is it? Who decides the restrictions on rights?
Ok, but here is some heavy lifting:
7) In my opinion, humans are not wired for Libertarianism, and the philosophy does not make sense with my understanding of the human condition.
If you read anything about human decision making, it is highly irrational.
When given unlimited choices, humans suffer from the paradox of choice. In the face of unlimited choice humans freeze, become anxious, and indecisive. We just don’t know what in the hell to do with ourselves.
8) Finally, in my biggest criticism, from all of my reading of modern psychology, absolute freedom is not good for humans.
Again, if we take Libertarians at their word – everyone decides what is good for themselves and retreats to their plot of land. If that happens, there is no community, no common bonds.
PLEASE do not mistake me for some collective liberal, I’m not.
But in its purest form, there is nothing binding people together. There is no core.
This is in conflict with our natural tendencies to form groups.
What we are talking about is achieving anomie, the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community.
Humans are just not wired for Libertarianism.
For example, if everyone retreats to their acre and we have nothing in common, we no longer have a country. Even our founding fathers (who were Libertarian leaning) realized there must be something that binds us together.
In summation, there must be something MORE that binds us together other than roads, military, and courts.
9) No Libertarian can make a coherent argument of HOW to get to a Libertarian vision.
However, even over beer, no one has been able to express to me the HOW. They can tell me what is currently wrong, they can tell me their vision for the future, but they can’t tell me HOW.
Most just selfishly say “BLOW IT UP.” The irresponsibility to humanity that comes with BLOW IT UP is mind blowing.
Every time I end up taking a path down Libertarianism, I end up in treacherous landscape.
Choice? Yeah, well if the South wants slaves, then so be it. (Rand Paul, later retracted)
Nothing but roads, military, and courts? What about currency? Multiple currencies and bit coins for all and when something goes wrong? Markets baby!
Education? Private schools for all? But difficult students who require more attention, time and effort? There will be little profit in that! Do we not educate them and turn them lose in society with no skills? Do they not then commit crimes? OK, home school everyone? What if the parent can barely read? Do they get to homeschool? If not, who regulates?
Again, it is interesting, but for me, it just breaks down the more you think. The more you move away from bumper stickers, Libertarianism collapses when it meets with the human condition.
There is always tension between freedom, rights, protection, security, and fairness. There should be.
In my opinion, most Libertarians I have discussed this with seem to have an overly simplistic worldview and simplistic understanding of the human condition.
As you may know, I reject absolutism to any philosophy. For me, these philosophies (Libertarianism, capitalism, etc) are a little like simplified economic models. They have little basis in reality, but are helpful for learning concepts and testing.
When we place the philosophies next to each other, for me the truth lies some where in-between the pure forms. The right answer lies in the tension between the choices.
The entire key is to keep things in equilibrium. My equilibrium is leaning towards Libertarianism, but with nuance and conditions.
The problem is there is not an ideologue in the world that would agree with me on that and have a discussion on the location of the line.
PS. As a final thought – Isolationism is plain wrong.
I have become that guy. You know THAT guy that likes to discuss politics on Facebook. I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself. I’m curious and I want to try and figure put how people think.
What I am finding is that people are fighting and not arguing, in the classical definition of the word, which is to seek understanding.
I got myself into a heated discussion because I questioned a fellow conservative on their black/white thinking. I am constantly aware of people expressing an opinion as 100% true with no room for discussion.
This was my final comment that I placed on Facebook when trying to exit the conversation:
Here is all that I really know and it is something that will put me at odds with a lot of people : I reject absolutism. I am almost envious of those who know an answer to any question with 100% certainty. I think the world is easier for them. Unfortunately, my brain does not work that way. Maybe it is the political scientist in me that sees all “facts” “laws” etc must be submitted for testing and attempted to be disproved. I can’t out of hand reject anyone’s thoughts as non-virtuous. I also feel that a lot of people are not arguing to understand, but rather are just fighting. Just because I question something does not make me a traitor, a RINO, a liberal, a moderate or any other label you may wish to place on me. What I am is curious, a sinner, and as I age more willing to question my own brain and thoughts. Again, my brain is messy, Im trying to find my own way, and I envy those who are 100% certain in their views. PS You must have missed my comment on Grayson being no better than those he disparages.
Political professionals MUST raise their eyes from the horizon and cross-study psychology, economics, decision making theory, neuroscience, statistics, and really anything that may give us an edge.
In my years of attempting to get better, I have come to strongly believe in two things:
In fact if you do much reading at all into predictions you find people are just plain awful at them – and experts are the worse.
Early in my career, I found myself making such nonsense statements as:
Great for talk radio and when talking to a homogeneous group! However, I dare you track such statements and measure the accuracy of them.
Experience and wisdom has taught me a valuable lesson – often by beating me over the head – but the lesson is this:
I no longer make binary predictions. They are for fools. I now watch my language very closely so that I make more accurate statements.
This is more than just a re-framing statement. It actually leads to a much better discussion and ultimately a much better understanding.
When I say “I think they have a low probability of winning”, we move the discussion from agreement or disagreement with me to a discussion of my assumptions and basis for my conclusion.
The other thing that happens is we leave open the ability to revise the prediction – when and if the underlying assumptions change.
Overall, we now have a much deeper understanding of the situation.
“When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”
Some of you may recognize it as Bayes statistics, and it is exactly.
When you start to think in probabilities based upon assumptions that may change over time, you become keenly aware of your mental limitations.
You also become astutely aware there are very few predictions that you can make with a 100% probability. You simply must allow for a probability of a Black Swan – no matter how small.
Next time someone boldly states a claim that “X is true”, ask them how certain they are of “X claim.” The discussion will change.
When you start adjusting your thinking to a Bayes’ model, you immediately become a little more humble and in the end more accurate.
And there is a 100% chance that I am 100% correct about this.
Hierarchical Bayes models free researchers from computational constraints and allow researchers and practitioners to develop more realistic models of buyer behavior and decision making.
(Yes, it is dense with math, but it is an interesting look at how this applies in Marketing.)
Fine, here is the Wikipedia page on Bayes.