Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lost Horizons

He was the numbers guy, but in the end his numbers were all wrong!

Sounds like the tagline from a forgettable SyFy Channel movie involving a Hollywood supercollider made from Christmas tree lights and low budget GCI, a physicist played by C. Thomas Howell, a buxom lab assistant with a pair of silicon enhanced God particles, and a portal to an evil alternate dimension of evil, doesn’t it?

Actually, it’s the tickler for John Dickerson’s excellent article on Slate today: Why Romney Never Saw It Coming.

Which, come to think of it would also make a good title for a movie starring C. Thomas Howell.  But I digress.

Dickerson begins:

Mitt Romney says he is a numbers guy, but in the end he got the numbers wrong. His campaign was adamant that public polls in the swing states were mistaken. They claimed the pollsters were over-estimating the number of Democrats who would turn out on Election Day. Romney’s campaign was certain that minorities would not show up for Obama in 2012 the way they did in 2008.

The Romney campaign, along with conservative leaders and the usual frothy red-faced pundits, reported a steady increase in Romney’s popularity beginning when they declared Mitt the “winner” of his first debate with President Obama.  By the day of the election they’d gone from mere optimism to rapturous predictions of certain victory personally endorsed by Jesus himself.

Meanwhile, polls not affiliated with either the Romney Campaign nor Rupert Murdock’s media empire continued to show Obama with a narrow, but measurable and decisive, lead. Those polls indicated that minorities would turn out in record numbers, and that they would vote overwhelmingly for Obama – along with a lot of white people.

We don’t believe the numbers, we don’t believe  your data, conservatives sneered dismissively.

We don’t believe those lazy shiftless minorities will get off their welfare dependent asses and actually vote. Mitt doesn’t need to worry about them, they don’t matter. What matters are real Americans. Real Americans like us. And we’re coming to take back our country!

We don’t believe the liberal media!

Which is too bad really, because it turns out the “liberal” media was right.  It was the conservative media that was padding the numbers – along with quite a few other things as it turns out, but we’ll come back to that.

So convinced were Republicans of their victory, that the Romney Campaign had already bought and paid for a huge fireworks display with which they intended to kick off their victory celebration.

Romney himself penned only a victory speech – never believing that he might have to concede. 

Sadly, the speech he ended up giving in his final moments as a presidential candidate was quite likely the first and only time during the entire campaign that we actually saw the real Mitt Romney, sincere and likeable, finally free of his party, a little humble, no longer pretending to be an extremist, no longer pandering to hardline conservative voters and TV personalities who really didn’t like him anyway, no longer the clockwork golem jerking to the bony clenched fist of the GOP. That man, that Mitt Romney who gave that off the cuff concession speech, that was a man who could have been president – if only he’d shown up during the primaries.  I honestly felt sympathy for him in that moment. Just as I did, briefly (very briefly) for John McCain four years before, when his mask finally crumpled and a tired beaten old man who had once been a hero stared out of our TV sets.  Unfortunately, McCain almost immediately returned to pretending at extremism in a pathetic attempt to remain relevant while the actual extremist monster he’d unwittingly unleashed continues to blunder randomly around the countryside roaring incoherently and attacking the villagers.  It remains to be seen if Romney will follow the same pattern, or if he will actually live up to his concession speech. I see his little hunchbacked assistant has already returned to the lab.

Conservatives were dumbfounded by Obama’s victory.

They just couldn’t believe it.

They still don’t.


As I’ve said elsewhere, gravity is a bitch.


It should have been no surprise at all. 

Of course, since the election, the pundits and the politicians and the political strategists and the prognosticators and the money people have, one and all, been scrambling to show why, in fact, they weren’t actually wrong.  It was the size of Obama’s war chest they say. It was rigged ballots. It was the hurricane. It was Satan.  It was some kind of mind bending Negro Mojo or Project HAARP. It was women and Hispanics and especially African Americans who didn’t stay home like they were supposed to.  It was ORCA. It was the forty-seven percent.  It was this and it was that and maybe it was C. Thomas Howell and his evil army of evil from beyond the portal of evil.

But you know what? The simple truth of the matter is this: conservatives have nobody to blame but themselves. 

They shouldn’t be asking themselves why they lost, they should be asking themselves what else have they got wrong?

When you base your strategy on what you want the intelligence to be instead of what it actually is, you end up with a flawed strategy.  Always.

And then you lose.

That’s how the universe works.

Gravity will kill you, whether you believe in it or not because the universe just doesn’t care what you believe.

If Romney’s advisors didn’t believe the polls, then they should have hired a non-partisan outside agency to validate the data one way or the other.  And if the results showed that they were behind, instead of denying it they should have adjusted their ground game accordingly. 

Instead, Romney had people blow smoke up his ass until his colon resembled beef jerky.

Hiring people who only tell you what you want to hear is a bad, bad, bad habit to get into.

It’s bad for business – because it leads directly to bankruptcy and the collapse of financial systems.

It’s bad for the average Joe – because it leads to signing an interest-only mortgage for nearly a million dollars on a house that is worth maybe a quarter of that.

It’s bad for a candidate and bad for the Republic – because it makes for ignorant frightened hysterical citizens.

And it’s bad, very bad, for national leaders – because, among other things, you could end up invading other countries on faulty pretexts and having to stand before seven thousand cold steel boxes at Dover Air Force base as a result.

You might get away with it for a while, you can maybe believe what you like for a time without consequence, but sooner or later reality tends to come roaring ashore and drown your whole damned city. It doesn’t matter if you believe in climate change or not, hurricanes don’t care what you believe.

Pilots call it spatial disorientation.

Sometimes spatial disorientation happens from damage to the inner ear, or from disease, or drugs, or a lack of oxygen. 

But more often it happens when you lose the horizon.  

It happens when you lose your reference points and your perception doesn’t agree with reality. You become disorientated, your inner ear spins, and you suddenly stop being able to tell up from down or if you’re diving or climbing.

A pilot can regain control – by trusting the instruments and disregarding scrambled human perception.

But it takes training.

Nearly half of all aviation accidents can be attributed in some manner to spatial disorientation, because many pilots aren’t instrument rated and they fly beyond their capability to recover. 

It takes training and practice to recover from spatial disorientation. It takes a deliberate effort.

Just as it takes training and practice and discipline to accept military intelligence, even when it contradicts the commander’s preconceived understanding of the battlespace.

Just as it takes training and practice and discipline and maturity of thought to accept emerging scientific evidence, to accept political reality, to accept changing demographics and changing attitudes and sampling data, especially when that information contradicts long held religious and/or political beliefs. Especially when it contradicts what we want to hear.

That’s why our public schools are so important, that’s why education itself is so very important – it’s not that we teach the next generation what to think, it’s that we teach them how.

If they know how to think, they’ll figure out the what on their own (of course, that’s really the rub, isn’t it? And why so many people fear education. And that’s really a whole other essay).

Now to be clear, a little healthy skepticism leads to better thinking.  Of course we shouldn’t always trust our instruments, not without cross checking and calibration and proper understanding of the data presented, that’s why pilots (and scientists, and engineers, and military commanders) perform preflight checks before they pull the wheel chocks. It’s a process, and it takes training to know if your instruments are operating properly, just as it take training to develop proper thinking habits and a healthy skepticism.

Automatic reflexive denial is not healthy skepticism.

And reflexive denial, this spatial disorientation, has became a habit with a significant portion of our nation, this refusal to face unpleasant truths because we don’t want to hear what the universe is actually telling us. I saw it over and over again when I worked in military Intelligence. I saw it in the business world. I saw it in the mortgage bubble and the economic collapse.  And I see it all around me now, in the recent election, in the public perception, this spatial disorientation, this denial of what our instruments are really telling us.

The dumbfounded state of the republican party today is a symptom of a much greater disorientation.

For the last two decades conservatives have increasingly indulged themselves in willful spatial disorientation, denying the reality of nearly every aspect of our world from evolution to climate change to the changing demographics of the United States. In the last four years it has reached a fever pitch of denial.

You can find a chart and a detailed list of Obama conspiracy theories here, it’s mind boggling.  Everything from the stock Oh Noes! Obama is a Mooooslim, to He wasn’t born here it’s twue! to Obama is gay, to Obama is really a space alien.  Go on, follow the link, it’s safe and it’s worth a couple minutes of your time.  Note who is saying this stuff, those are the people who shape today’s GOP, those people right there – and don’t pretend that they don’t because if you read the comments in forums where conservatives hang out, you’ll hear this stuff repeated almost verbatim.  Romney himself repeated some of it, and so did prominent members of his campaign, party, and financial supporters.

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Of course Obama couldn’t be all of those things. 

No ordinary human being could.

Exactly, that just proves he’s the superhuman demonic Anti-Christ!


This kind of nonsense, this faulty reasoning and hysterical panic, this kind of spatial disorientation, has very real consequences. It impacts our entire country, from education to the budget to those people who want to secede from the union right on down to the man in Florida who killed himself because Barack Obama won a second term.

It’s spatial disorientation.

Conservatives have lost their horizon.

When your perception becomes disconnected from reality, doubling down on the spin only gets you killed.

The way to save yourself is to ignore your inner ear, take a deep breath, look down, find your horizon, trust in your instruments, and calmly take corrective action. 

Reality, no matter how painful, no matter how disorientating, trumps illusion every time.

In the end, it wasn’t that the numbers were wrong, it’s that conservatives didn’t want to believe reality.

So they didn’t.

And that’s why they never saw it coming.


  1. It's been the GOP slogan since at least GWB and probably before that:

    "Reality is whatever we say it is."

    Someone asked me why I was calling Bush a moron. I said, "Because he brags about not reading newspapers, he says that his people will tell him whatever he needs to know, and he's surrounded himself with people who will tell him only what he wants to hear. That's moronic in the president of a company. In the President of the United States it should be grounds for impeachment."

    Maybe, just maybe, the GOP will finally wise up and decide that they need to pay more attention to the world as it IS (getting warmer, by the way, folks) and jettison the fantasists. If they do, we might have a more rational, functional government. If they'd stop filibustering everything that comes down the pike before giving it a chance to be discussed, that would be a big step forward too.

  2. McCain stared, not starred. Assuming I am reading your intent correctly.

    Very good description of the current condition of the Republicans. They are having a hard time trying to adjust to reality. We'll see if they manage or if they wander their way back into their own fantasy land.

    Love your blog though this is the first time I've commented.

    1. So, the first time you commented was to point out a typo? Oh you're going to fit in just fine around here. Just fine indeed ;)

    2. Grammar's a bitch, Jim.

    3. I can't help it, my wife is a self-proclaimed Spelling/Grammar Nazi and it kind of rubbed off on me.

    4. She's obviously not a punctuation Nazi!

    5. Well, you see, Jim, spelling is like gravity....

    6. "I can't help it, my wife is a self-proclaimed Spelling/Grammar Nazi and it kind of rubbed off on me."

      In that case, Anonymous, you need to change the comma after "help it" to a semi-colon, then add a comma after "Nazi".

      Otherwise, I'm going to go tell your wife on you. Jim is my god, and his typos are just as special as he is.

    7. Wasn't it Mark Twain that said; "It's a damned ignorant man who can only spell a word one way"?

    8. Cuppajava-I don't believe a comma is needed after the word "Nazi". But I am not a spelling or grammar Nazi. I am, however, the result of a fairly good public education!

    9. Or change the comma after "help it" to a period and start a new sentence with "My wife..."


  3. Holy pants, Jim. I take a break from class, turning, and elliptical chuck drawings for one second and you have another out of the park posting.

    I'm passing this one around - they never saw you coming.

    Awesome - again.

  4. So, if Obama won because he got a boost from the hurricane, does that mean that God ordained that re-election was the right choice?

    1. No, in Republicanland, it means he is a space alien with advanced technology and caused the hurricane, or he is in league with the devil and he caused the hurricane, take your pick. Also Nazis. My Brother-in-Law says he is going to move to Texas. I pointed out to him that in Texas he has maybe 8 years before the Hispanics, and the Tech sector around Austin, make it into a swing state.

    2. Absolutely. God chose the superhuman demonic Anti-Christ to be the hands down winner.
      Go God!
      What a bitter pill for christianist, black man haters to swallow.

  5. Jim, you make way too much sense. Thanks.

  6. Mayhaps I should just pour the Pepsi directly onto my monitor instead of spewing it with laughter when I read lines like: "It remains to be seen if Romney will follow the same pattern, or if he will actually live up to his concession speech. I see his little hunchbacked assistant has already returned to the lab."

    Good Gravy, man!

    1. PEPSI...apply *directly* to monitor...PEPSI...apply *directly* to monitor...


  7. I was pondering if their confidence was coming from belief in voter suppression and election fraud techniques. But Orca failed them, and the votes were so many and being watched so closely it would have been hard for them to tweak the numbers.

    In the end though, I think they watched Patton too many times, and decided that if they admitted they were losing, support and money would dry up, leaving them no chance.

  8. That song, is it actually entitled "gravity?" is running through my head now! I am so glad you succinctly put into words what I have been wanting to say. Problem is that the people who seem to need it most are battening down the hatches, stocking up on food, water and ammo, and only talking to one another. Beautiful work!

  9. It's called Epistemic Closure, that disease you're discussing: when the only criteria you use to judge a source is if it agrees with you or not.

    1. Oh, that is SOOOO good. And then there are "zombies - ideas that, on logic or evidence are intellectually dead - that can never be laid to rest because they are useful to some powerful interests." from Mired in the Health Care Morass, by Neil Davis, 2007

  10. Well said as always. Why should we be surprised that the same batch of GOP deniers that don't believe in science, history, evolution, global warming, etc. also don't believe in statistical analysis, and as President Clinton put it-mathematics?
    They do believe in anchor babies, and that they're going to lose their 2nd Amendment right to own a personal armory and that the Democratic Party is nothing but a bunch of communist socialists who do nothing but siphon welfare checks and food stamps out of the Gubment in between abortions...with thinking like that, it's likely most of them don't believe in horizons either.

  11. This. This right here is *literally* the only reason I can think of that Right-Wingers would be so dumbfounded and confused as to why their "rape so easily" and "legitimate rape, biological shutdown" guys got their asses kicked this last election.

  12. It didn't remain to be seen very long if Romney was going to fallow McCain back into the echo chamber. He's already done it: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/romney-blames-loss-on-obamas-gifts-to-minorities-and-young-voters/?hp

    Turns out the decent guy buried somewhere inside his personality(s), just as we saw during the campaign, too weak, and too overwhelmed by the 800 pound asswipe that takes up all the rest of the space.

    1. To quote Darth Vader: "There is no good."

      The moderate Republican we saw in Massachusetts was a fake. His remarks after the election are the real Mitt. His remarks in that Florida retreat were real. The 800 pound asswipe: It's really him. It really is.

    2. Which is one of the reasons the Salt Lake City newspaper, ground zero for Mormonism, supported President Barack Obama. Because they didn't know which Mitt Romney was going to show up at any time. They couldn't count on him.

    3. I'm actually wondering if Jim saw the same speach I did. Most of it was cut and pasted from what I assume his victory speach would have been. He's reverted to type. It's as they say, it's how someone behaves when he thinks no one is watching that tells you who they really are.

  13. "That’s why our public schools are so important, that’s why education itself is so very important – it’s not that we teach the next generation what to think, it’s that we teach them how.

    If they know how to think, they’ll figure out the what on their own (of course, that’s really the rub, isn’t it? And why so many people fear education. And that’s really a whole other essay)."

    Bring it on, sir, bring it on.
    Talk Education to us, please, Jim, and Fear also. Too.

    Your thinking and your writing make wrinkles in my brain, and I'm more than OK with that.


    1. What worries me education-wise is the trend in Louisiana, and other red states. Give the public school monies to charter schools that teach all sorts of nonsense about the Loch Ness Monster being a modern dinosaur and the KKK having some sort of respectability. And Bobby Jindal is positioning himself for 2016 so he can screw the rest of the country the way he has screwed Louisiana.

    2. Most of what I've seen from the GOP since the election, when it wasn't outright denial, was them saying that people just didn't understand their message. That they need to "repackage" it. As if polishing a turd will make it anything else. As Jim said, spacial disorientation. They can't or don't want to see that their message was heard just fine and rejected.

  14. Here's the thing. As you mentioned in an earlier post, the re-election has caused a run on guns. It doesn't even matter that there is no substantial proof that gun restrictions will even be *brought up,* they are still racing to their nearest dealer or gun show. Using that same logic, wouldn't just the *fear* of voter suppression cause people to run out and vote? So considering there actually was an effort at suppressing the votes of minorities and other groups, wouldn't that make them doubly want to go vote?

    1. Logic... We don' need no stinkin' logic! ;)

    2. But, but, they said they're going to consider the UN Arms treaty. Clearly that means that they're going to grab their guns. That is what I've been hearing from the right-wingers on blogs and FB. Most, if not all, have not ever read the treaty, but that's no surprise.

  15. Today is a good day for me. I found stonekettle. I love the writing..
    Up my way, Canada, we are happy that Obama won. I am looking forward to reading more of this blog.

    1. Go through the archives, especially the greatest hits pieces.

    2. Welcome to our world. It's pretty darn incredible in here.

  16. I'm going to say something not very politically correct (on this blog go figure ;) but very relevant. I worked with a bunch of Romney's people a bit ago, most of them Mormon. There was this peculiar thing about them most of us non-Mormons noticed which I can only describe as 3 second delay. It was this moment after you talked to them that there was a disconnect, almost imperceptible but there. I attributed it, at the time jokingly, to that moment when they tried to mesh reality to their carefully constructed make-believe Mormon one. After watching this campaign I'm not joking about it any longer.

    There has to be some serious brain wiring issues going on if you only watch edited versions of movies (no sex or swearing or excessive violence), can't drink hot beverages or caffeine, wear specific underwear, stock an end of world cellar, and believe that when you die you're going to your own planet (among a host of other oddities) to make actual reality fit with your constructed one. The same goes for people that think the world is 6k years old when all the evidence is telling you otherwise. This willful ignorance becomes a habit and that's what is happening now, it's quite clear to me, with his campaign and that wing of the Republican party. It's the same thing that happens to the "end of the world" folks when Jesus doesn't show up. You can't say "Maybe this entire belief is wrong" you have to say "Jesus changed his mind! He told me so/the scripture doesn't mean that/he was taken by aliens" anything but "maybe this entire thing is a crock". So watch what happens now, it will be the same thing as this wing doubles down on the "we weren't conservative enough" tripe. They can't say "the entire platform was a crock and the majority and the reality of the numbers prove it", they have to make up stories to get over the cognitive dissonance. And like you eloquently said, reality just doesn't give a ratsass. It's still going to be reality going into the next election. Just like Jesus still won't show up for the rapture the next time around either.

    1. OMG! Now I know what that was! And here I thought when I was talking to those Mormons that lived near here (they moved last year back to Utah -thank goodness - but I feel for their 9 kids!). And I thought they were just not hearing what I was saying but now I know they were "processing" and had to access the proper response. LOL!

    2. That's fascinating.

      Many religious have rules about clothing and food, so I don't make much of that. But the delay...that's not usual. I think you're right, and they're carefully editing and reviewing what is said to them, and guarding their words with outsiders.

      I wonder what the "inside" beliefs are?

    3. Well it's interesting actually. You should go to any of the Mormon "recovery" sites and check it out. They're actually pretty insular and their entire belief system is sort of loosely based on the "milk before meat" adage...you give people small does because they can't handle the whole "Jesus came from planet Kolob" thing and "you get your own planet with you relatives when you die" (ever wonder why they're so into genealogy? Well now you know.)

      Btw, if you knew how many of them are actually gay (and I mean children of very, very, highly placed Mormons) you'd find the whole anti-gay thing really funny. Not so much for their "wives" though.

  17. http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/obama-derangement-syndrome-(ods)

    It feels a little like this is a Stage 4 Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS-4): "Opposition to Obama becomes not just predictable, but a force of habit. Those afflicted use phrases like, “Anyone but Obama.” The diseased begin to take any position, so long as it is not Obama’s position. They begin to mock ideas like “hope” and “change” as naive, simply because Obama embodies them.

  18. As always, a perfectly wonderful read. But I fear this insanity is going to get much, much worse before it gets any better. The nuts are still assembling, and the deep belief and justification in their own actions is fanatical and you know what that means. They feel every bit as heroic and necessary and relevant as any terrorist. Their self-importance and need to defend their 'Traditional America' is only gleefully egged on by the pundits. I see the hate and stupidity all around me here where I live, even the bumper stickers are nauseating. 'Somewhere in Kenya a village is missing it's Idiot', with the O in idiot being the Obama symbol. That's a mild one. And then there's the ever popular one, the very large window sticker that shows our Commander in Chief dressed as Osama Bin Laden. There remain dozens of Romney/Ryan signs in yards, and in the town green area designated for the campaign signs, the oversized one is the only sign left. No, wait, the one that says 'Don't turn Left' on one side, and has an empty chair on the other side still stands. This town is still involved in a lawsuit brought on by a citizen who objects to the insistence of flying only a Christian Flag over the Public Veterans Memorial. I think the guy is a hero, and this area went fundamentalist nuts over it. I don't believe Mitt Romney is a good man at all, and have lost respect for Bob Scheiffer since he insists on calling him moral. I don't believe taking ever trumps giving. But would someone please take Trump and give him to a very distant galaxy?

    1. Regarding Trump. They already did, and we were it.


    2. That disconnect is the reason Romney never appeared to be "real". And as to "moral"? No one who says "I like to fire people" or walks a blind man into a blank wall is "moral"

  19. Jim, you have to follow your own advice: In Massachusetts, we wanted a moderate Republican and Mitt conformed to that ideal.

    It was fake. Mitt would commandeer the elevator near his office at the State House for his own use, and he had his own personal security detail at all times. (Not the state police, _his own_, one of which was caught trying to impersonate a real state trooper.)

    He flip-flopped even then, during his term here, on one occassion backing gay marriage, and on the next saying it was unlawful. He alienated the GOP in his own state, to the point where one of the GOP appointed governors, Jane Swift, made it a point to attend Democrat Deval Patrick's inauguration.

    His staffers would give "givers and takers" speeches, which he would later disavow, but I knew he was lying--they were all yes-men and would very well repeat and believe in what he said in private.

    The Mitt we saw on video in that function room in Florida was the real thing. That was really him. It really was.

    His concession speech was intended to give the impression of graciousness. But that's just an impression. The real Mitt was in that room on video.

    1. His claims of bipartisan ship while here in MA were also utterly without merit. He vetoed 800 bills and was overridden 700 times. That is eight hundred vetoes and seven hundred overrides, just to be clear that there was no typo. This is what passes for bipartisanship in RMoney's mind...

  20. Regarding the "liberal" media, there probably is some "liberal" bias because media types tend to be well educated and universities are full of "liberal" thinkers. So if "liberal" thinking is so bad, why do most parents want their children to go to college?

    1. Reminds me of a joke someone at work thought he was being clever to repeat on election day: "Obama will have a lead... until everyone gets out of work." You have no idea how hard I had to bite my tongue not to blurt out, "And he'll get it back once everyone gets out of school."

  21. Greg - ETC(SW) USN RetiredNovember 16, 2012 at 5:56 AM

    "For the last two decades conservatives have increasingly indulged themselves in willful spatial disorientation, denying the reality of nearly every aspect of our world from evolution to climate change to the changing demographics of the United States. In the last four years it has reached a fever pitch of denial."

    What do you think about the notion that this willful ignorance isn't as much ignorance as it is a Quixotic attempt to somehow bend actual reality to their desired reality? That maybe they just can't accept what's actually happening because of the strength of their conviction that it's somehow wrong.

    As always, thanks for all you do.

    1. Anyone who would doubt Romney's insincerity should Google 'Lying for the Lore."
      Anectote. My wife worked in a dental office wherein a female Mormon also worked. She bragged about the peaches her husband produced and brought ONE FOR EACH fellow employee in to savor. She did admonished all of them to never tell her husband because Mormons don't share with non-Mormons. She and her husband were assigned the task of monitoring another Mormon family and were in turn, monitored.

    2. Perhaps if we need to be afraid of "dark money", we need to take a very close look at Mormon influence in various elections.

    3. "What do you think about the notion that this willful ignorance isn't as much ignorance as it is a Quixotic attempt to somehow bend actual reality to their desired reality?"

      That's a more polite way to saying that they think if they lie often enough, enough people will believe it and it will therefor become the "truth". That is exactly what the GOP and Faux Noise has been up to for years. They're trying to "shape the conversation". Unfortunately I think what they've done is convince themselves more than anyone else.

  22. I couldn't agree more. Republicans invest outrageously into being right, and so blind themselves on what is wrong with their belief system. They lost because they were pushing for wrong solutions, wrong because they were based on their delusional perception of our society and world. Thus they become irrelevant for the people that were making a sincere effort to understand our reality. The votes they got mostly were the product of emotional reactions disconnected from the reality. That's the test that they will keep failing and I cannot see any chance for a meaningful change in their perspective. It already shows in the Congress that they will keep sticking to sabotage and negativity and misinterpreting the nature of the problems. We will survive them as we did in the recent past.

  23. Romney apparently did not believe his own numbers: once you dismiss 47% of the vote, that means you need to capture about 95% of the remainder to win a majority. Pretty high bar to reach!

    I think you are right about the spatial disorientation. It occurs to me that large swathes of our population suffer from something very like Alvin Toffler's "future shock" (i.e. "what we know is changing so fast I can't keep up"), coupled with a bit of defensive paranoia ("I can't admit that much of what I knew or believed is wrong, so I continue to believe it. My fragile ego is more important than - whatchcallit - reality").

    Just a thought.


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  25. Thumbs up Bruce (Anonymous). The Republican narcissism is their downfall. They are hatched that way, guaranteeing that they will be losers. The only thing that gives them a chance is that we let them steal the prize once in a while, something that we learned we shouldn't do.

  26. I have a friend, late 40's white guy, (who lives in Ga. - go figure) and works at Boeing. He maintains the jet engines. Climbs into the insides of these huge machines and makes delicate and precise mechanical repairs.

    He doesn't believe in global warming or evolution. So I said to him, you "believe" in the theory of gravity right? How can you trust the physics and science that go into the work you do daily that keeps these huge machines in the sky, but you don't accept these very important scientific facts?

    I just don't understand how they can get through a day sometimes.

    Too scary.

    1. Scary. What happens if he decides not to believe in the latest engine manual?

      But then, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" Jet aircraft are contributors to atmospheric CO2, though not major contributors, and if he accepted the theory of anthropogenic global climate change he might feel compelled to give up his very good job, or at least change the way he works at it.

  27. "Automatic reflexive denial is not healthy skepticism." <-- This times 1,000,000,000,000.
    I watched Mike Huckabee on the Jon Stewart show this week and this is all he did. Jon was really trying to point out to him some seriously flaws in Fox News and the GOP in general and he would not listen. Jon was wrong wrong wrong, no matter what. It was infuriating to watch.

    Also, this... "Instead, Romney had people blow smoke up his ass until his colon resembled beef jerky."

    I wanted people to read that again just in case they had not spit their coffee out the first time.

  28. Great article! I love the "lost the horizon" metaphor. Oh, the Republican failure was dramatic and foolish.

    But, you know, the rest of us are not all that much better off. *Earth in the Balance* was published 20 years ago. It advocated a crash program to respond to global climate change. You see any serious action on climate change, let alone a crash program?

    Keynes *The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money* was published 75 years ago. Hicks "Mr. Keynes and the Classics - A Suggested Interpretation," introducing a mathematical model based on *The General Theory*, was published in 70 years ago. No other macroeconomic theory has stood the test of time; we've had a 30-year test of the alternative neo-liberal model that has ended in disaster. You see any serious effort to implement Keynesian economics, anywhere but in--for some reason--Iceland?

    Well, "science advances, one tombstone at time." But it would be nice if we got *on* with it already.

  29. There has to be some sort of corollary to Godwin's Law, with regard to comparisons to events from Orwell's dystopian classic, 1984. I can't help but read the above article while running recent Republican statements on their platform in my head without immediately being reminded that "we have always been at war with Eastasia."

  30. And the morning news brings yet more examples. The claim that Social Security is in trouble because people are living longer. (Life expectancies of adults have not changed much.) The claim that people doing physical labor can work until they are are 70 without health problems.

    And then, of course, there's the idea that the Afghani war can somehow be won.

    Seriously, what are we to make of this?

  31. It was good to see that the "Good Mitt of Concession" was only a fig-newton of my imagination.
    I've been scouring the house trying to find where Mrs Bear hid all those "gifts" we received from Mr. Obama.
    Thanks for the conspiracy link - - I missed that one somehow.

  32. "Romney had people blow smoke up his ass until his colon resembled beef jerky."
    Thanks Jim...Now I have to reach for the Slim Jims instead of my favorite beef jerky...I sure hope you don't have anything about Slim Jims...

  33. I didn't know the president was gay. I learn something new here each time I visit.

  34. A friend, who I think has unfriended me, is so anti-Obama, it must have been very hard for her to vote for Romney because her oft stated opinion is "Mormon men are the laziest people on earth." I have also experienced the 3 second disconnect described by Skyman123, but hadn't focues on it until now.
    Oh, by the way, keep on buying those guns and ammo, makes the dividends from my gun/ammo stocks keep going up.

  35. I was thinking "another post on Stonekettle! Really, is Jim drinking coffee?" Yes, I guess he was. The good stuff too.
    The Republicans could have won if they chose not to be the 'dick' party. I talked to a lot of folks who identified as conservatives, and refused to validate the current envioroment. Not simply because Obama is a moderate, or the color of anyones skin. Because they were exasperated with the state of the GOP. They would shake their heads or look off into the distance and say they would be voting "D" this year.
    Does this tiny handful of people in Hamilton County represent a genuine trend in the American politic? I say it does. The media says so.
    The way it stands, too many republicans are proud of the 'will we cheat or lie this time; keep 'em geussing' strategy. Put something real on the table and watch conservatives rally. Until then prepare to be ignored. The kid who cried wolf has nothing on y'all.
    If I'm ever in Alaska I'll be stopping by for some of that coffee, Jim.

    1. I know at least half a dozen now-former Republicans who became Independents this year thanks to how far off the rails the GOP has gone. They looked at the party platform and were disgusted. It's not an isolated instance.

  36. The Republican Party has turned into Clint Eastwood.

    Go ahead and yell at the chair all you want to, Clint, if it makes you feel better. The chair doesn't mind a bit.

  37. Thanks for this most excellent essay. I recently discovered your blog and am now committed for the long term. Keep up the good work.
    (I will never be able to look at beef jerky the same as before.)


  38. I'd like to think that Republicans are just going through the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. However, I don't think they will ever get past steps 1 and 2. From everything I've read, they seem convinced it was not the message, but just the messenger.

  39. This just in today. The republicans have decided that it was not their message that was wrong it was just not delivered correctly. One of them stated that they just need a better salesman. Is not one of the definitions of insanity trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results from every attempt.

    It doesn't make any difference how you sell it if what your selling is a bag full of bullshit people are going to smell that it's bullshit.

    1. Forgot to add that unless of course they've been conditioned by their own to think that bullshit is actually a rose bouquet.

  40. I learned about this phenomenon about 25 years ago, when I worked for an engineering company that had just appointed their chief marketing guy to the President slot. The guy actually believed his own marketing projections, and so we based our product pricing on insanely inflated sales volumes. Naturally, we lost our shirt. I got out of there after 13 months, just after I learned that the company had negative cash flow of $26 million on sales of $106 million. Need I add that the company no longer exists?

    In any case, I learned then that you can't afford to believe your own press releases.

    In a related note, my friend Susan, who is an executive muckety muck at a high-tech company, is happy to warn against hiring yes-men and toadies. She says, "If you hire a yes-man who is only going to agree with you, then you've just made one of you redundant."

    Good post, Jim.

  41. A long time ago, when I was about 10 years into my IT career, I had a mental paradigm shift. I suddenly realized that the programmers of software on a project were perhaps not the best ones to be developing the front end functionality of the systems they were developing for other people. Time and time again, many of these systems fell by the wayside because they just weren't being used. I had the enlightened moment (since having been confirmed by many others smarter than me) that real development started by asking the user what they wanted, and how the user thought things should work. The RNC just recently huddled their sorry butts to lick their wounds and try to figure out what went wrong. They still haven't figured it out, nor will they, until they get their sorry asses out there and talk to the PUBLIC. ALL OF THE PUBLIC. The citizenry will tell them very clearly what they want, and what their priorities should be. But until they (The RNC) realize that they have to go outside their own box (as distasteful as that is to them), they will become as irrelevant as, say . . . Nazis!! MTC

  42. Pretzelogic in Philly, PANovember 16, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    "a pair of silicon enhanced God particles"

    Hee hee! Now that's a Theory with which I could get Grandly Unified!

    Another amazing entry from the Stonekettle... I can't wait to read your book. :D

    "The trouble with ignorance is that it picks up confidence as it goes along."
    - Arnold H. Glasow

  43. Sorry Jim, I can't fly with your premise that "we actually saw the real Mitt Romney, sincere and likeable, finally free of his party." IMHO Romney represents that rarified class of people who seldom expose themselves to the common man and the common American condition. He's occasionally held his nose and actually mixed with the unwashed masses to give the impression that he truly gave a shit about what Americans care about.

    And the Republican party is not even his party. This was only a candidacy of convenience cause Mitt was just the least insane of the 2012 GOP bullpen. Romney never seemed to settle on exactly WHY he wanted the Oval Office. I sensed that as a silver spoon, hyper-wealthy, entitled, life-long VIP, Romney assumed that POTUS was his due as his next and ultimate personal best. Like Dubya before him, Mitt had been born on third base and thought he had hit a triple.

    A life spent in a family bubble of wealth and privilege, with all about him bowing and scraping, convinced Romney that he actually was superior to all of us. He survived the primary process and his bubble was mated with the the manufactured GOP 'reality', fueled by billionaire funding set loose by Citizens United. He approached the election as a leveraged buyout, sustained by his 1% class who feel that anything and anyone can be bought, used and profited from. How could he possibly lose?

    Had Romney actually won the election, the Executive branch would have been sub-contracted out to the howling mob of lunatic neo-cons to attempt to destroy what they hate. And all the salable parts of the government, public services and national treasure would have been stripped and sold off. The Dubya years started that process, but the GOP, 1% and lunatic fringe saw 2012 as perhaps the final chance to seal the deal and take as much as they could before demographics finally caught up with them.

    Yes, Romney and the GOP were flying confused and without bearing in the end. They attempted to spread baseless fear amongst the common people to win the day for Romney. But, by election day the GOP leadership and their paymasters must have been terrified that possibly their last opportunity for plunder had passed. Sucks to actually have to work for something. Tommy D

    1. My take on the problem for the RNC was that their lunatic fringe was showing too much. That instilled _real_ fear of what they would do. That overroad the baseless fear they were trying to project.

  44. Interesting post, many good points. Here are two to which I take exception.
    First, I believe the 'real' Mitt Romney showed himself in the 47% video when he thought he was talking privately to his rich backers. He managed to come out and say a few inoffensive words on the night of his defeat, but that was just as stage managed as the rest of his events.

    Secondly, I feel (and I may be wrong) that you and some of the people who commented are saying that President Obama won because the Republicans were inept, didn't believe the data, etc. Remarks like 'it was theirs to lose', and 'they could have won...' which I have seen a lot lately, seem to take President Obama out of the equation. I think President Obama won because he is a brilliant, compassionate, centered, man of deep moral and ethical beliefs, which he has developed and refined over a lifetime, and who put together a brilliant team of independent thinkers, not yes-man, to whom he listened before making his own decisions. In the end, this was acknowledged by the electorate and put into sharper relief when compared to Romney. People saw that he had tried and accomplished much in his first term, even faced with the total intransigence of the Republicans. To say or imply that his victory was anything less than a total and positive victory is to sadly diminish him and give way more credit to the Republicans than they deserve. I apologize if this is not what you intended. I may be a bit sensitive on this, as I have been hearing it a lot lately.

  45. Not to sound all tin foil hat, but think Mittens had talked to Rove about rigging the voting machines. That's why he never prepared a concession speech, they didn't know Anonymous was watching.

  46. Sorry, that's Anonymous the organization, not "anonymous" the I don't want anyone to know who I am.

    1. I saw that letter the group Anonymous put out as well. If they did indeed stop a hijacking of the vote (which would explain Rove's freak out on Fox) then they should turn over the information on it to the DoJ, not to Assange of Wikileaks. It sure would explain so much of what Fox and the GOP "numbers guys" kept saying before the election.


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