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What We Can Learn from Tom Brady and the Patriots

I am not a Patriots fan. But I appreciate what they have accomplished.

Let’s start with Tom Brady. He re-negotiates his contract down every year. Making 14m/yr (against the cap, actual cash guaranteed was only 1m) instead of 24m/yr is the difference in the Patriots always having 2-3 more fundamental pieces. This is a part of their success.

Now, don’t feel sorry for Tom Brady he has received guaranteed bonuses and with endorsements, he is doing alright. But the question on everyone’s mind is always…why doesn’t my quarterback do this? If Flacco was a $14m hit instead of $24.5m, would they have had the one or two pieces that could have got them over the hump and into the playoffs? The answer is trust. Tom Brady isn’t just selfless.

Star players would be tempted to do this more but they are essentially making a 50-100m investment and bet in their front office. That is a LOT to gamble that the front office isn’t going to make a boneheaded move. But Brady trusts Bellichick and Kraft implicitly on this and it has paid off. Seven Super Bowls and five championships later and you see that this bond is the glue that holds their organization together.

There is a lesson in this for leaders. Does your team seem to want to soak every nickel out of your organization? That might be a “you” problem not a them problem. When employees sacrifice salary for other things (winning culture, fulfillment, benefits) they are making a bet on someone other than themselves.

I have been a part of winning cultures where shared sacrifice for a winning goal meant that money was just the cherry on top. I have also been a part of cultures where money was THE thing to paste over the misery.

You might have “greedy” employees or you might have a culture problem. There may be somethings to learn from the Patriots in this regard.

Presidents’ Day: My Annual Ranking of the Presidents

Everyone has their favorite and not-so favorite Presidents. I decided to rank the Presidents.

As in any ranking, the criteria for ranking them is important. I factored in, what they accomplished, what their legacy has been, and their overall governing philosophy and importance.

This, of course, is subjective. Let me know how you agree or disagree in the comments.

44. Ulysses S. Grant (#18)

Admittedly, a President in difficult times. His handling of reconstruction was dubious. His presidency created the solid democratic south which would last for over one hundred years. Economic strife was rampant. And his term was largely plagued by scandals. Yes, he helped win the Civil War, but this list doesn’t take into account life accomplishments. Unfortunately for him, he and Barack Obama will probably go down fighting for the worst two-term Presidents in US history.

43. Barack Obama (#44)

For the record, it is hard to really place an incumbent in history. But 8% unemployment is the new normal. The DC climate is a far cry from the uniting he promised. And his negotiation skills are best summed up as whiner-in-chief rather than solid leader. The ONLY reason he isn’t #44 is because he will always be remembered as the first black President. Therefore, he will always get a paragraph in every history book from here to the end of the United States. Assuming we make it to a 45th President (I kid. I kid.). IF this list took into account life accomplishments, he would be #44. But it doesn’t. So, he is #43.

42. Jimmy Carter (#39)

He is best known for malaise and a tepid response to the Iranian hostage crisis. The only thing good about Carter’s presidency is that it paved the way for Reagan. And his VP helped ensure that Reagan would be a two term force. But he is now building houses. Yeah him.

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Why I Support #CPAC UPDATE

There is a rather big uproar (mostly fabricated) regarding CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) and their decision to not accept GOProud as an sponsor again this year.

Most of the uproar is centered around how CPAC is “banning gays” from the conference. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. And this is really more about GOProud as an organization than it is about many conservative’s sexual orientation.

Of course there is more to the story.

GOProud burst onto the scene in 2009 promising peace, love, and per fiscal conservative happiness. They sold us on being an organization that would coalesce gay conservatives around fiscal conservative values that we all share. They said that they were going to eschew the typical “gay agenda” for more fiscal fare.

In short, they came in with such a flare that it was nothing but a giant eff you to the social conservative wing of the party. And it was touted as such.

Then they started in on gay marriage, don’t ask don’t tell, and DOMA.

Beyond that, they haven’t even really done that much for the movement.

Just take a look at their House endorsements in 2012. The incumbents whom they endorsed averaged a 62.26 on ACU’s scale in 2011. Out of the 17 incumbents they endorsed, only five (5!) scored above 70.

Which leads to an even bigger point. It is said that conservatism is a three-legged stool. With social, fiscal, and national security conservatives in each leg. But reading twitter you wouldn’t think it. You would think that all these fiscal conservatives can just run the movement on their own and get whomever elected without any help from Christian conservatives.

After GOProud burst in like a fifty ton elephant. Major players on the right jumped the CPAC ship. Heritage being among them. And several others. And it wasn’t just about GOProud, they were the proverbial straw. Many conservatives were tired of going through the many booths and finding many questionable sponsors and exhibitors with seemingly very little in the way of vetting.

So, the CPAC leadership decided to vet more closely. Last year, it wasn’t just GOProud who got the “axe.” The John Birch Society did as well. As far as I know, they haven’t been invited back either. I don’t hear a big uproar about how CPAC is banning birchers from attending. Why? Because. Just. Because.

When it comes to my general philosophy about the movement, I am a as long as people are shooting bullets at the enemy…they are on my side.

I have been dodging quite a few bullets from GOProud.

Pardon me if I don’t spend the day threatening boycotts or engaging in hysterics.

UPDATE 1:

I updated the link for the fabrication.

Trades, Trust, and Compromise

So, Obama is touting that Democrats are more willing to compromise than Republicans.

This actually isn’t as laughable as it appears. Why? Because I believe that he actually thinks this.

What is lost in all of this is the art of compromise. What actually composes a compromise?

On Facebook awhile back, one of my friends lamented why can’t people get on the compromise train? After all, we wouldn’t have a Constitution if not for compromise.

Let me start by offering an fantasy football anecdote.

In fantasy football, there are two types of trades: Fair trades and trades where one party gets trade-raped. Rookie fantasy football players are usually very reluctant to get involved in many trades because they don’t want to make a mistake.

In my super-duper dynasty league, the first year saw few trades. The reason being that the trust wasn’t built between owners to come to the table to make a fair and decent trade.

The point of all this is…trades only occur when there is trust. When I trust that someone is not just trying to get from me, but also willing to give me something of value…a trade will happen.

The same goes for compromise. You have to trust the person you are dealing with.

Obviously, there is a severe lack of trust in Washington, DC.

But let us examine the first question I asked…exactly what makes a compromise? Let us take a different approach.

Let’s look at political policy as a product. I will choose gas. Let’s assume that the average price for gas is $3. Let us assume that one party, the consumer would like gas for $1. Now, let’s assume that the other party, the gas station wants to sell the gas for $5. The goal in any “compromise” would be for the consumer to negotiate the cost as close to the low side of $3 as possible. This would be a “common sense” compromise.

The problem with what President Obama said is he is like the gas station. Undoubtedly, the Democrats have the upper hand in power. They control the Senate and the Presidency. So, they hold more leverage. I am sure that the gas station that is the Democrats in DC, are always willing to go down to $4.75. But that ain’t compromise.

Let’s take the fiscal cliff deal. You know where the GOP started out? $2.75. $1.00 would have been $1 for $1 tax increases to spending cuts. What did they offer? 1:4 (1 dollar in spending cuts for every $4 in tax increases). What did they get? Barely any spending cuts. Where was the compromise?

But, gosh darnit…those Democrats walked all over their principles to go down to $4.75 didn’t they? Let’s throw them a party.

This is why Republicans don’t trust President Obama. He is trying to negotiate several deals with them right now. Debt ceiling, gun control, and immigration. What does he do? Says his party is always willing to go down to $4.75 and lambasts Republicans for not agreeing to those terms. That isn’t leadership and that sure as heck isn’t compromise. This President has shown zero ability to negotiate compromise on ANY deal since he has been President. Healthcare? No compromise…shoved it through. Stimulus? He told the GOP that he had won and they deserved no seat at the table. Debt ceiling I? We know from Woodward’s book that Geithner had to talk the President into EVEN NEGOTIATING, he just wanted to go over the cliff and pin it on the GOP. Fiscal cliff? He didn’t even negotiate it. Vice President Joe Biden did. That is right…Joe Biden was the voice of reason (at least avoiding the dang thing).

So, what about this great immigration compromise? I would say it is about a $3.50. I am thankful for Senator Rubio’s presence because he was able to get some major goals put in the immigration reform. In fairness, we don’t know the complete details of the arrangement so I reserve the right to change my opinion. But as of now, it resembles something more like compromise than we have ever seen under President Obama.

Too bad that those Senators aren’t willing to tutor him on what real trust and compromise looks like.

Manti Te’o: Our Low Information Culture

Most of you, by now, have heard of the great hoax of Manti Te’o.

It is one of the most bizarre sports stories I can remember. But is this just a case of art (or in this case, sports personality) imitating life?

I mean should we be shocked.

Generation Irony. That is what this younger generation should be called:

Everyone has tons of Facebook friends, but feel more alone.

We have more relationships, but less of them are real.

We have more information at our disposal than at anytime in human history. But we choose to ignore it.

A term that is commonly used in conservative circles is the low information voter. The pejorative usage of this is “all those dumb people” who voted for Obama just because he was a nice guy.

But the fact is that low information voters are not owned by one party. Can’t the hundreds of conservative women who love Sarah Palin for no other reason than, “she is a strong woman to look up to,” be cast in this same category?

Herein is where we have failed in the conservative movement when it comes to educating our beliefs. Conservatism is based on logic, economics, and a pure understanding of human nature. But when our low information voters are espousing the virtues of our philosophy while simultaneously spouting off about Obama’s birthplace or religion…it doesn’t help the cause.

But culturally, what drives this? Every statistical category shows that our education system is failing. I don’t put too much weight on test scores that puts American schools up against the rest of the world. Most other countries don’t believe in universal education and they certainly don’t believe in universal testing. But SAT reading scores hit a four decade low. Over time, our overall test scores have dropped (again, we shouldn’t put too much weight on this, but surely some weight is justified). A record number of high school graduates are not ready for college.

This isn’t a post on education. But isn’t it amazing that in a world where most young people are prolific texters, reading scores have dropped. In a world where a simple google search will lead to 98% of all your answers, people just don’t seem care.

I think the problem is a matter of want to. I was recently asked why I would weigh in on subjects where I have little experience. The answer for me was I have more information at my fingertips than all the generations of human existence combined. I have a wealth of everyone’s experiences ripe for the taking. But I choose to tap into that. I choose to read and consume.

Too many young people don’t. They willfully ignore history and experience in order to maintain a suitable level of ignorance.

So what does this have to do with Mr. Te’o? He could have done the same google searches that Dead Spin did. He could have asked the questions. He had all the answers at his disposal. But he maintained a suitable level of ignorance. He is America’s low information boyfriend.

There are two types of voters. One group researches and studies. The other deliberately avoid information so they can maintain a suitable level of ignorance. That way, if things don’t turn out right, they have the ultimate hedge. “I was lied to by a politician.” What we have learned over the last few years is that even in the midst of a high profile campaign, the suitable level of ignorance only increases. It doesn’t decrease.

And this is, by no means, a reflection on liberal or conservative. The suitable level of ignorance was high for conservatives as well. While I voted for Mitt Romney because I believed that he possessed the tools necessary to turn our economy around. I was voting more against Obama than for Romney.

And the suitable level of ignorance on the left was astoundingly high as well. Let’s be honest, short of President Obama performing a satanic ritual on stage and exclaiming that he deserved to be king, he would have gotten 45% of the vote. (Even then, the media would have proclaimed it Joe Biden’s fault) Don’t believe me? Ask a random neighbor how the response to Sandy has been. Most will say good if not great. Most people will probably tell you they think it is mostly done. There are still people without power! Had this been a Republican President, we wouldn’t be hearing about Manti Te’o because the coverage of Baltimore Ravens players and how the east coast has been affected, begging us to root for them in the Super Bowl. (Exactly what happened with the New Orleans Saints over 4 YEARS after Katrina) It hasn’t been four months and the media care less.

We have the world at our fingertips. Get out there and study. Learn. Educate the low information voters from both sides. It is the only way America wins. Which probably means we are screwed.

Doing The Right Thing: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ethics

As many of you know, I am very fond of Chuck Colson’s Doing the Right Thing video series. It is a magnificent series on ethics and business ethics.

At one point in the series, they are talking about the ethics of laws. Most importantly, when is it acceptable to break the law because the law is immoral. One of the speakers brought up Martin Luther King’s letter from the Birmingham jail. He said that Martin Luther King had a brilliant theory as to the ethics of the situation.

We all know, if you are not familiar with his letter it is a great read, that Dr. King was upset at the lack of support of civil rights from white pastors. So, a majority of his letter is an explanation of why the church should care and fight for civil rights in America.

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Rational Discourse and the Future of Conservatism

Over at the Daily Caller, Matt Lewis posted about Jonah Goldberg’s new column.

Jonah’s column is an extremely well written critique by one of the movement’s better modern intellects:

For starters, the movement has an unhealthy share of hucksters eager to make money from stirring rage, paranoia, and an ill-defined sense of betrayal with little concern for the real political success that can come only with persuading the unconverted.

A conservative journalist or activist can now make a decent living while never once bothering to persuade a liberal. Telling people only what they want to hear has become a vocation. Worse, it’s possible to be a rank-and-file conservative without once being exposed to a good liberal argument. Many liberals lived in such an ideological cocoon for decades, which is one reason conservatives won so many arguments early on. Having the right emulate that echo chamber helps no one.

I despise people who don’t think through their ideology. Unfortunately, we have a whole movement that has memorized talking points without thinking about the deeper nuances.

It is why I have ripped Sarah Palin for her love of identity politics.

It is why I have argued for rational discourse HERE & HERE

Fought for civility amongst tragedy.

Sought serious reflection.

The problem is that the echo chamber is so warm. It feeds our narcissistic tendencies. We all want to be loved and right. So, to have a parade of people tell you that you are both just feeds the psyche.

And of course, there are also hundreds of thousands of sheep who will tune in at a certain time to listen to the echo chamber masters.

This, of course, isn’t meant to lump every host into this. There are hosts that, indeed, are intellectually astute. Who wrestle through their ideology and welcome the opposing viewpoints of others.

I try (emphasis on try) to spur rational discourse at every turn. As a medium, the internet is just not a place of rational discourse. For humans, over 80% of our communication is non-verbal. How is it then that new media can properly create and foster informative and thoughtful dialogue?

Unpopular Opinion Alert!

I always believe that we have a duty to self regulate our side of the movement. So, I say this in all love.

Tea Party meetings/rallies aren’t an adequate place to foster this dialogue either. In fairness, some groups are MUCH better at this than others. My question. Why aren’t they all? Too often, going back to Jonah’s point, these meetings devolve into non-stop GOP bashing and whining sessions.

I was at one such meeting which was of a more religious bent. They had discussed an anti-drinking proposal earlier (FTR I don’t drink and have no problems with this), but the meeting had devolved into a giant hem and haw chirping. When I was to give my presentation on grassroots organizing, I told them, “For a group that doesn’t like alcohol, there sure is a lot of whine in here. We have to get things done. We have to talk to our neighbors and persuade them. Whining won’t cut it.”

Forget trying to have a decent argument or disagreement with a liberal. IF you are so adamant that Obama is a muslim. Born in Kenya. Sandyhook didn’t happen. Or any of these other stupid theories and conspiracies. Don’t be shocked when your Facebook friends don’t take you seriously when you try to convince them that there are, in deed, members of the left that want to abolish weapons. They will just put you in the crazy bin.

Conservatism has roots in intellectualism. Education is vital. I get that. But a part of our education has to be…how will this sound to your neighbors?

Granted. Sometimes what we are selling is tough to sell. But what we need is better salesmen not new values. The problem comes when we have dingbats who are mere parrots and not thinkers. We need more Medveds and fewer Hannitys. We need more Ryans and fewer Bachmanns.

Unpopular Opinion Alert #2

We need more conservatives and fewer libertarians.

There is a definitive difference between limited government and no government. Here is a hint. Americans don’t like no government. That is a losing argument. I don’t care if you believe that somehow, with no rules, magically peace and happiness are going to exist like some sort of Ayn Rand wet dream. Thousands of years of human history have taught us that human beings will become tyrannical over other human beings (government or not). Beside the political theory…you just aren’t going to sell it. IF you do feel that government is not the answer, as I do, the way to persuade the addict is to not starve them of their substance. We need a methadone clinic approach. Slowly preaching self dependence and self appreciation. Policy by policy showing suitable options to a government first approach, understanding that we will often have to meet in the middle to see true policy realized.

The question then becomes. How? How do we spark the rational discourse necessary to champion our values? The answer is simple. Talk to your neighbors. Learn from your neighbors. And not just about politics. Everything. Same with your Facebook neighborhood. Can you name ten Facebook friends who will challenge you to think differently on certain things? Or do you just block whomever you don’t agree with?

I have a group of friends whom I thank, privately, for bursting the echo chamber. And they call me out when I disobey my rational discourse principles. (Social media brings out the worst in us sometimes) They are more valuable than the thousands of encouragers. Why? Because they cause me to think through my own beliefs. And we know that if we can persuade the other…then we can persuade our neighbor.

One last aside. When I ran for congress, I was having a heated discussion with two individuals. One was more conservative and the other more liberal. At the end, the conservative had to go somewhere else and the more liberal guy looked at me and said, “I don’t agree with a lot that you said. But I will vote for you because I know you are thinking through it and willing to listen.” That is what middle America cares about. And that is why we keep losing…because we haven’t shown we are willing to think through it and willing to listen.

UPDATE:

The Other McCain takes umbrage with Jonah

 

John Hawkins brings another vantage point and names names!

 

The twitter links

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