The Complete “Slew of emails about my political postings” Arc

[[Note this is another blog arc, five posts long, all here for your reading pleasure. Thank The Mice who save you from going click-happy.]]

Slew of emails about my political postings (#1)

Several regular readers emailed me with their thoughts on my political postings. I’m going to share some of them over the next few weeks, starting with this one and offered without comment.

It’s the cover of The Economist from November 6th-12th, 2004:

Cover of 'The Economist', November 6th-12th, 2004

Slew of emails about my political postings (#2)

Obama/Biden vs McCain/Palin, what if things were switched around?…..think about it. Would the country’s collective point of view be different? Could racism be the culprit?

Ponder the following:

What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, including a three month old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?

What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?

What if Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after a severe disfiguring car accident, when she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married?

What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to pain killers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?

What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five? (The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)

What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

What if Obama couldn’t read from a teleprompter?

What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?

What if Obama was the one who was known to display publicly, on many occasions, a serious anger management problem?

What if Michelle Obama’s family had made their money from beer distribution?

What if the Obamas had adopted a white child?

You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?

This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

Educational Background:

Barack Obama:

Columbia University – B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in

International Relations.

Harvard – Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:

University of Delaware – B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.

Syracuse University College of Law – Juris Doctor (J.D.)


John McCain:

United States Naval Academy – Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:

Hawaii Pacific University – 1 semester

North Idaho College – 2 semesters – general study

University of Idaho – 2 semesters – journalism

Matanuska-Susitna College – 1 semester

University of Idaho – 3 semesters – B.A. in Journalism

Education isn’t everything, but this is about the two highest offices in the land as well as our standing in the world. You make the call.

Slew of emails about my political postings (#3)

The following was sent to me with the heading “Oldie, but particularly germane today, what with this whole ‘…spread the wealth around’ idiocy”. My response (letting you know ahead of time) was

Interesting read and completely erroneous. Many extra points to anyone who can pick out the flaws (I hope they’re obvious!) in this piece.

Also, please never send anything like this to someone in the field (


Something they don’t teach at Business School (or in Washington ).

Our Tax System Explained: Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. ‘Since you are all such good customers,’ he said, ‘I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.’ Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.

But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

‘I only got a dollar out of the $20,’declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, ‘but he got $10!’

‘Yeah, that’s right,’ exclaimed the fifth man. ‘I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I got’

‘That’s true!!’ shouted the seventh man. ‘Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!’

‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in unison. ‘We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!’

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
University of Georgia

For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

Remember folks, extra bonus points for people pointing out the flaws in this one.

Slew of emails about my political postings (#4)

Let me say before I go further that I’m not suggesting people vote one way or another. I am fascinated by what people are sending me, though, as it’s an indication of how people are thinking. The more that is sent to me that does lean one way or another, the number of people sending material, etc., does reveal a great deal about what and how people are thinking.

That’s what I’m sharing here; other people’s thoughts, not my own.

Let’s start with some of the artwork I received…

This one was entitled “Next Season on Dancing with the Stars!”

Also, I was offered the following note and interesting read:

Heard this mentioned on R. Limbaugh. Don’t think Rush knew who he was. I did.
BTW, OSC says he’s a Democrat. Nice compact piece, I thought.

[[There were a bunch of images in the original post, alas, now lost to antiquity…unless you have them and can email them to us.]]

Slew of emails about my political postings (#5)

One reader sent me Balls and Urns, which I thought a worthy read on many levels.

T’was the day before elections (Slew of emails #6, Adam Zand’s Big Shoe, Population Dynamics, …)

Lots to cover today, starting with

Adam Zand’s Really Big Shoe (Join in)
Host: Adam Zand – ThisDudeAbides (dot) Zand (at)

Episode: EPISODE23 – Adam Zand’s Really Big Shoe

The world will fundamentally change on Election Day – The Big Shoe talks to Joseph Carrabis for a preview and a review of political social media efforts and effects. Carrabis is Chairman and Chief Research Officer of NextStage Evolution, LLC, NextStage Global LTD, and a founder of KnowledgeNH, NH Business Development Network and the Center for Semantic Excellence. He’s a Senior Research Fellow and Advisory Board Member to the Society for New Communications Research and frequent contributor to You’ve heard the pundits and the pollsters but what does Joseph’s online predictive crystal ball tell about how close the election is (; how messages are being received and re-interpreted and if O.J. Simpson is really a factor – We’ll catch up on Joseph’s consulting business ( and share best practices for marketers in the fields of predictive intelligence, persuasion engineering and interactive analytics. On the day before the election, Joseph Carrabis and The Really Big Shoe will reveal what’s behind the voting booth curtain.

Call ID: 18410


Does your chosen candidate motivate you to vote? Then Be Careful…

Next a note from NextStage’s and others’ research: It seems that people who are best able to motivate others are also most likely to mislead them. NextStage did some research regarding how to motivate people to act favorably (for lack of a better term, “convert”) online and made an unexpected discovery. We then went looking through the literature to learn if others had discovered anything similar. Sure enough, two Colgate University researchers had learned much the same thing (Dominance and Deception in Children and Adults: Are Leaders the Best Misleaders?).

An Email Response to my Comment Exchange with Tex

Frequent reader Tex and I exchanged comments on Slew of emails about my political postings (#4), the gist of which was that I hadn’t received any emails that I could decidedly say were “con-Obama, pro-McCain”.

Someone was reading (and thank you for doing so) and sent me the following:

Subject: obama stealing the election
To: friends (at) foxnews (dot) com
Date: Sunday, November 2, 2008, 7:35 AM
Hi guys’s
I watch you every day. This morning while watching I decided to try to donate to Obama using my real credit card with a fictious name and address and it sailed thru, try it it is true this is how he is raising all his money

I have no idea if one can actually provide false information so on and so forth.

Finally, voting by population percentages…

I wrote in Governor Palin’s (and everybody else’s) Popularity that the Democratic ticket was doing a better job at getting its message across in a way that the largest population could respond to easily and rapidly.

While I’ll stand behind my statement I do need to qualify/quantify it a bit.

[[Alas, another image lost to antiquity]]

A party’s ability to capture a given age demographic is important, yes, and the population of that demographic, the likelihood of individuals within that age demographic to vote, …, all play a role. The chart here takes into account the populations (not how many individuals within each population will vote, only the populations within those demographics) and indicates that Senator Obama will win the election by just over 2.5% of the population.


The guestimates above are based on 2007 population projections that are, in turn, based on the 2000 national census. I don’t know how the population is divided (no pun intended).

I had thought I’d have time to do a state by state breakdown today and no, I don’t. Sorry, folks.

Links for this post:

Posted in , , , , , , ,

Governor Palin’s (and everybody else’s) Popularity

Yesterday I wrote about the candidate’s websites’ shifting communication styles in Me, Politics, Adam Zand’s Really Big Shoe, How Obama’s and McCain’s sites have changed when we weren’t looking[[Look for it. It’s in there, just down a ways]]. That post dealt with messaging — the Vs, Ks, As and {C, B/e, M} stuff that tells you a lot about how people think and not everything about how they share their thoughts.

A big predictor in the success or failure of any campaign — marketing, political, … — has to do with how messages are shared.

You could consider the “how” part as in how old, how well educated, and how easily.

Think of telling a sophisticated joke (one that requires some life experience to appreciate) to a child. They’re not old enough to understand it so the humor is lost on them. Now think of telling a joke that requires some knowledge of physics to the average person on the street. They don’t have the education so the humor, again, is lost on them. Lastly, think of telling a very sophisticated, very knowledge specific joke to an average person. You need to explain it, maybe more than once. They might get it, they might not. You might get someone who’s quick on the uptake and they guffaw or someone who just can’t get it and they laugh politely.

Messaging also has these components;

  1. Is the audience old enough to understand?
  2. Is the audience educated enough to understand?
  3. Can the audience easily respond to the message?

This is what is known colloquially as “The Gift of Gab”, what I often call “Talking their language” and is more correctly “communicating in a way your audience can rapidly and easily respond to”. Politicians more than anybody else need The Gift of Gab because the ability to communicate in a way people can rapidly and easily respond to equates to Popularity.

There is no doubt that Governor Palin is popular with her intended audience. There is also mounting evidence that the oomph! the Republican ticket got from announcing her has waned. I have heard on tv news and radio talk shows that both Independents and middle-road Republicans have more turned away than turned toward a McCain White House. Nor is there a question that Senator McCain can make himself understood.

[[There was an image here. We can’t find it. If anyone has a copy, please let us know, and thanks!]]

That offered, how well does the current Republican ticket get it’s message across to different age groups? It looks pretty good in this chart. The Republican ticket is capturing a very healthy chuck (30-43%) of the 20-44yo age group. That’s a serious piece of the voting public, don’t you think?

Before sharing the Democratic equivalent chart, I wanted to share a peek at Senator Obama’s popularity all by itself.

[[There was an image here. We can’t find it. If anyone has a copy, please let us know, and thanks!]]

Senator Obama’s “rock star” image may be due in part to his ability to speak directly (“gab”) to an amazingly large audience that spans Gen-Ys to Boomers. That broad an audience capture hasn’t been seen since Governor Dean’s early in his 2004 campaign. I noted during a presentation that Governor Dean’s audience capture had shrunk as the Iowa caucuses approached, that he’d lost his ability to appeal — to “gab” — to a broad demographic, and that this meant he was going to go down hard. That prediction along with several others came weeks if not months before the Iowa caucuses and other primary contests and proved NextStage’s methods accurate (see links below).

[[There was an image here. We can’t find it. If anyone has a copy, please let us know, and thanks!]]

Here we add Senator Biden’s “Gift of Gab” numbers to the chart and notice that Senator Biden’s no slouch either, especially with more youthful audiences. Perhaps he impresses people as a jovial father figure, perhaps and as he said in a Newsweek interview, “The very thing people like best about me at home is that I don’t have to pick every word and parse everything,” and “And if I say something politically incorrect, they know my motive is good.” Perhaps that longevity and his early campaigning for the Presidency in this cycle prepared people for his version of a “homespun” manner.

[[There was an image here. We can’t find it. If anyone has a copy, please let us know, and thanks!]]

But the real story is revealed here, me thinks. There only three age groups where the Republicans’ “Gift of Gab” outshines the Democrats’ and that’s with the 35-44, 65-74 and 75+ year olds, and even then the numbers are just 3.5%, 1.5% and 1% respectively in favor of the Republicans.

So looking at this and this alone, the Democratic Ticket wins if the voting occurs right now simply because a much larger population understands and easily and rapidly respond to their message. And let us remember what happened to Governor Dean. There’s still time for things to change, especially considering the number of firsts taking place in this election cycle (see Negative Campaigning for an explanation).

Links for this post:

Posted in , ,

Negative Campaigning

Several individuals and groups have contacted me during the past week or so regarding negative politicking. I commented and shared NextStage’s research with all of them (see Sticks and Stones for an example) and (I believe) much of what we shared has already been demonstrated in the (political) market.

Still, I thought this would be a good place to share my answers on negative campaigning:

1) Who started this and why?
It is doubtful McCain or Obama made this decision although they definitely accepted the advice of others. It’s worth noting that barbs were going back and forth for a while although the “barbs” were honorable in the sense that they were policy attacks, not character or personal attacks. Americans see a great difference between individuals and an individual’s acts, a kind of “I respect you but I don’t respect what you did”. Note that this person v act is a tough concept to sell to most people. They understand the concept it when it’s explained to them but most people won’t think of it on their own. So what to do? Up the ante to “You yourself are a bad person”. These are attacks on character and person and are much easier for the average person to understand and respond to. Because the concepts of “good/bad” are moral in nature they tend to be polarizing. People, once polarized, tend to stay polarized. This is good and not good. Polarized the “right” way, good thing. Not good is that once polarized people are like switches, flipping back and forth based on the latest information they receive. The hope is that they’re polarized the way you want them polarized when they have to act (vote).

2) If one candidate gets negative, does the other have to follow, or appear weak? Should they respond?
Unfortunately, yes, we are not a nation that appreciates “turning the other cheek” except in movies, novels, tv shows and the like. Also the time lag between being slapped and responding in kind, the nature of the attack, etc, are important elements. For example, if A is slapped and B responds with compassion. This is honored but not if A continues the attack. If A continues the attack and B continues to fail to respond, B is seen as weak, a coward, a victim or something similar. Again, the greater picture plays a part. Ghandi could get away with it because he wasn’t running for office (no personal gain for himself) but Presidential candidates can not.

3) Does negative campaigning work?
I wrote in Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History that, during the ’04 Race, people didn’t like candidates going negative themselves although they were willing to accept a candidate’s surrogate going negative (as Palin is doing for McCain in this cycle).

Will direct negative campaigning work this time out?
This time out it’s a tougher call because

  1. there’s a far greater disparity in the voter base than there was in the past,
  2. the amazing number of “firsts” in this election cycle,
  3. the current waning of America as viewed at home and by the world and
  4. the public’s disfavor and distrust of politicians in general.

Humans like to have someone to blame and few people like to have the finger pointed at them. I don’t think negativity per se will be a decider but being able to scapegoat a party or group within a party (“Republicans” v “John McCain”, “Democrats” v “Barack Obama”, etc) will do the trick because it gives people someone/group to blame for the current situation.

4) What can we expect in the next four weeks? What will — and should — each of the candidates focus on?
What will they focus on? No idea. What should they focus on? The candidate who can present a simple, verifiable plan for solving any three of Iraq/Afghanistan, Wall St Bailout, Fuel costs or Mortgage crisis will win the day. If one of the candidates can solve the latter three the win will be a landslide because those problems are touching people here, not “there”.

5) What do the American people want to hear?
People want to hear that they’re not to blame for what’s happening and that someone else is going to take care of the problem for them, hence my suggestion in #4 above.

6) Are there still many undecideds out there?
(at the time I originally responded to these questions) Lots. An amazing number, really.(Now) Growing fewer every day.

Links for this post:

Posted in , , , , ,

Sarah Palin

Note: this was originally posted to Susan’s “The Crofter’s Loft” blog. We’re resurrecting it here because J references it in his Reading Virtual Minds books

I’ve had a few days to think about the Republicans choice for a VP. This whole campaign has been about firsts and if nothing else has been interesting. Colleagues I’ve talked with share my opinions. They, and I, think that if it was done to draw the disgruntled Hillary votes then we hope that the republicans have greatly misjudged the voting women. We vote on more than the gender of a candidate. If the candidate feels the same way we do on issues and happens to be female, all the better. To think that the women voters would then switch to another candidate just because she is a woman and ignore the issues is shortsighted and not understanding women.

A few men I spoke with said that they’d vote for her just because of the way she looked, former beauty queen and all; then hastily said that they were kidding. Unfortunately, I realize that there are many who will vote only based on gender, race, looks or one issue. I think this was what started us down this current path. They couldn’t do anything to punish President Clinton for things they didn’t like, so they punished Candidate Gore by voting for Candidate Bush. Let’s also remember that this president was selected for his first term by the Supreme Court, not elected. I’m still amazed that he was then elected to a second term.

Hillary and Sarah have very different positions on the issues and I won’t go into them here. I don’t think that to describe someone as a “Trout fishing, moose hunting, and pistol packing mother of five” is a flattering way to get my vote. I know this may appeal to some, but not to me and those in the Northeast. I’ve had enough of this current administration’s “My way or the highway” attitude towards foreign policy. She has a great “pioneer” mentality that we needed in the old west days, but I don’t think it plays well in a global society. Our current administration has alienated enough foreign leaders already. We also don’t need any more people in the White House with ties to “Oil”. We need forward thinking people who won’t try and solve our nation’s problems with the same rhetoric.

I also feel that Hillary’s silence is hurting the Democrats chance to win this fall. She needs to come out strong and point out that just because she and Sarah share the same gender does not mean that they share the same values and positions on the issues. Unfortunately if Senators Obama and Biden say this the media will jump all over them as sexist and attacking her as a woman. Hillary needs to come out fighting and soon.

I always find it amusing when politicians, or any one for that matter, have the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. The Republicans were brow beating Senator Obama on his lack of experience. Most thought Senator Biden was a good choice as a running mate, a nice balancing. Then the republicans elect a Governor from Alaska as a VP choice. She’s not been in the position for 2 years yet. Her experience with foreign policy is very limited. She’s supposed to uphold the Republican ideal of family and abstinence, yet her 17yo daughter is pregnant and the father said on his web page he doesn’t want children, his close friends say they had no idea that they were planning on getting married. Interestingly enough that web page was hastily taken down. It will also be interesting to see if the weddings still takes place if the Democrats win in November.

Back to experience, the Republicans at the convention were bemoaning the fact that Senator Obama has no business experience; he’s never run a government nor a business. Let’s look at the current presidents experience, every business he ran, including being Governor, went bankrupt. He’s got our nation going that way as well. It seems that his business experience did us a lot of good. This lack of, or having experience comes and goes with the candidate. As I recall President Reagan and others only had minimal experience when they were elected. Experience is only an issue when some one makes it so.

Only a few more months to find out if the Republicans choice was a good one or an interesting experiment.

Posted in , ,