Friday, December 18, 2009

Morning Hijinks

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for December 18th, 2009


1) The missing political roundtable from yesterday was basically today’s entire show. The subscriber needed closure on the caravan of disparate thought flying around like the Karamazov brothers yesterday, and the show neatened things up today by taking a very deliberate tempo and making every attempt to sound out what’s out there. Remember the discussion of yesterday’s missing roundtable likely would’ve been ‘what’s next, given current events’.

Lawrence O’Donnell continues to be the best guest for the what’s next conversation, and it’s disturbing that his answer is I don’t see the end game clearly. It’s an honest appraisal given that when it was his playoff march in 1994 he was already showered and done with a loss in the books and starting the post game analysis, so he doesn’t really know the look and feel of completion. It’s not inevitable that we’re at a point of completion, we don’t know, the nation doesn’t know, and the uncertainty is killing us. But at least by having the closest thing to experience in your cast you can appropriately show the stakes and mechanics of the outcome.

One key misinterpretation is the shoehorning of the Howard Dean position as a kill the bill and start over analysis from Joe Scarborough. I agree Dean might’ve said those exact words on television and made a sound bite error that has given John McCain some new material, but it’s not the Dean position. Dean wants the process to play out in conference, he would prefer that the Senate strip out a lot of what’s in its bill and just take the things that don’t qualify for reconciliation. Care centers, no pre-existing cancellations or bans, and the like stay in. He then would hold out hope that the post-conference bill is closer to either reform or a two step process involving reconciliation.

It’s a flawed strategy for the simple reason of double cloture. If you put any of the Lieberman antagonizing hallmarks back in or allude to a two step strategy, he gets to double Lieberman you. As humiliating as it is, at least we know that cloture is going to go the way of the dodo bird in our lifetimes now that a real news cycle has been forced to bear witness to its tendency to favor obstruction in a nations time of need for reform and need to move on and govern elsewhere. The nation spoke by putting 60 in the democratic caucus, but to be told that that’s not enough and that it would take 65 to be able to disregard the holdouts in their own party, is shocking.

So there it is, the bill will have to pass and stay fairly tame, maybe some architecture could be adjusted to make it more defensible to the fiscal scalpel in future budget battles, but become a juggernaut that over time whittles it’s way to a single payer system.

I would not be surprised to see Dean come around to this in the next day or so, now that he is re-established himself to be the equivalent of Elizabeth Warren in this forum: the guy telling you the lucid truth now that both sides have gone robotic.

2) It’s polling that is the hijinks I refer to. There were how many guests on your show today? 15? Of the guests and hosts, how many used the phrased “the polling shows” in a sentence? The answer is 3: the hosts and Chuck Todd. What does that tell you: one monumental weakness on the show is it’s credit bestowed on polling. I know that in some cases the science of politicking includes the use of polling, but those cases normally center around a project or campaign with assets being deployed and measured for effectiveness. No one is doing that in regards to health care, financial reform or Afghanistan. The polls seeking sentiment on all of these current events are deemed useless by so many of the people your looking at for consensus, you should really be taking it as a sign.

Let’s look at it another way: (hypothetical) “in the latest Fox News Poll, that terrorist fist bump we showed you between Barack and Michelle Obama was troubling to 64% of you and 36% only felt he should be deported”. OK, first the use of the word terrorist was a distortion limiting the ability of the audience to be measured on a factual basis, and the polling no matter how widely sampled still suffers from a preaching to the choir segmentation because non Fox subscribers just hang up on the survey, and lastly the questions are never a complete set of outcomes.

Now bring it home: the weakness of today's poll on health care was specifically the lack of a factual basis amongst the sample. There is no requirement that the sample be able to define the debate in at minimum consensus terms and likely many still think the Senate is voting on single payer. Further how many feel that if they say yes to the poll they will be stripped of their employer based coverage? And lastly, how old is the 75% number that Joe Scarborough referred to five times today, (like 3 months?) and it too was a daily tracking number during the death panel campaign. I think your subscribers want more than that.

Sure, these pollsters that your show uses are respectable bunch of meaningful prognosticators. But in any poll if there is little connectivity between the results and what 12 of your guests are deeming the predictable future or real sentiment. I continue to attribute what I’m seeing en masse from polling as a darkest before the dawn phenomenon, but if you borrow science from the closest cousin of the poll, the stock market, Mark Haynes wouldn’t touch anything short of a 200 day weighted moving average. This makes what you do with polling a denigration to the conversation you’re trying to have. Stop taking static results as a sign of anything and try harder to understand the real weight of momentum and the psychology of cycles. Therein lies an answer that will separate you from the pack going forward.

3) Copenhagen is an unneeded distraction. I really had a hard time even watching the speech, and was really pleased it was short. In my line of work, if the world had been betrayed at this level previously and even Barack Obama came promising to make good, I would require full prepayment prior to signing anything further. The argument they are having is a tired futile attempt to shame all the nations into compliance.

I really think the debate amongst nations has no bearing on the debate the show should be having. I think the micro economic debate is where it all is heading. The kind of equations like leaving an incandescent light bulb on overnight costs one bucket of coal. If we are 50% coal in this country and coal is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels, it seems fair game to make every transaction in a person’s typical day, week, or month a transaction on that basis to emphasize conservation. You spend so much, and what do you do to neutralize what you spend? Plant a tree a week? It’s the micro economics that would bring this home.

A funny side effect is with the decentralization of employment, Tina Brown refers to it as gigs rather than jobs, a micro economic discussion is a very pertinent shortcut in the formation of green jobs and industry because if you have a problem like neutralizing your own personal carbon footprint being pondered worldwide, you have a lot more entrepreneurs. In Scotland there is a personal electric windmill company that sells a garage top windmill that generates enough electricity to offset that bucket of coal we talked about. That would sell here, but I can’t buy one in this country yet. Do you think that a machinist in Detroit could use that information?

That’s all for today, see you Monday.

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