Friday, July 22, 2016

Republicans reward failure & then wonder why they lose.

Republicans love to say that only in government does someone get rewarded for failure.  However, an article in National Review makes the case that the Republican Party has its own share of trough-feeders who fail and fall upwards.   The author calls it the "Republican-industrial complex has turned missteps into millions" in an allusion to Ike's classic term.   Polijunkies and Democrats will enjoy reading this essay that is rather thorough in nature.  Matthew Sheffield writes:


 Republican consultants continue to thrive despite continued failures. Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, was famously criticized for his ability to convince others to believe anything he said through a combination of hyperbole and bravado. One Apple employee called the effect a “reality distortion field” in 1981 and the term has persisted ever since.

It’s quite clear by now that conservative philanthropists and grassroots donors have been living in a reality distortion field as well: the creation of a cadre of political consultants who have failed repeatedly at their jobs and yet manage not only to survive but thrive.

The ineffectiveness of television advertising and junk mail at actually changing people’s minds has been known for some time in academia and yet if I had to wager, I would bet that most conservative donors, small or large, have never even heard of any of the studies which have proven this.

The sad reality of conservative and libertarian politics is that the generous people who donate their hard-earned cash have been fleeced for years by greedy, incompetent people who have manipulated the system to profit regardless of the policy or electoral outcomes.

In order to prevent center-right donors from seeing the failures and demanding changes, the Republican Industrial Complex has offered false theories that (depending on who is listening) “the Establishment” or “the far Right” are responsible instead of leaders who could not deliver.

While the GOP certainly has run poorer candidates on average than Democrats, the office-seekers themselves have not been the only problem. For years, Republican politicians and donors have been tricked not just into purchasing ineffective ads, they have also been tricked into paying ridiculous commissions on placing these ads, usually 15 percent. It is no wonder that the consultants have been so eager to convince donors to go for the quick fix of a political ad instead of investing in media outlets or building up grassroots organizations.

Despite the fact that the Mitt Romney campaign did not pay exorbitant commission rates, in the 2012 election the Republican Industrial Complex was a huge reason why he and other GOP candidates nationwide went down to defeat. In a February 2012 story, the New York Times revealed an intricate web of insider dealing where consultants were enriching themselves and their friends:

When Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign needs advice on direct mail strategies for reaching voters, it looks to TargetPoint Consulting. And when the independent “super PAC” supporting him needs voter research, it, too, goes to TargetPoint.

Sharing a consultant would seem to be an embodiment of coordination between a candidate and an independent group, something prohibited under federal law. But TargetPoint is just one of a handful of interconnected firms in the same office suite in Alexandria, Va., working for either the Romney campaign or the super PAC Restore Our Future.

Elsewhere in the same suite is WWP Strategies, whose co-founder is married to TargetPoint’s chief executive and works for the Romney campaign. Across the conference room is the Black Rock Group, whose co-founder — a top Romney campaign official in 2008 — now helps run both Restore Our Future and American Crossroads, another independent group that spoke up in defense of Mr. Romney’s candidacy in January. Finally, there is Crossroads Media, a media placement firm that works for American Crossroads and other Republican groups.

Reacting to this report, former RedState.com editor Erick Erickson accurately described the situation as the GOP being “bled to death by charlatan consultants making millions off the party, its donors, and the grassroots.” He also provided more detail about how the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee had effectively become the personal piggy banks of a select group of political insiders via two companies, FLS Connect and Targeted Victory:

During the Bush era, the Republican National Committee developed Voter Vault, a database used to identify and mobilize voters to the polls. At some point a partner at FLS Connect, Rich Beeson, went to work at the RNC as Political Director. Also, the RNC sold its Voter Vault data to FLS Connect and then leased that data back from FLS Connect. By the end of 2008 activists and others were complaining that the voter vault data was no longer very good.


Likewise, according to friends at the RNC at the time, Rich Beeson gave the RNC’s phone vendor contract to FLS Connect without bidding to others. The rate was not out of line, but it was a multi-million dollar contract to Rich Beeson’s former firm, FLS Connect.

Fast forward to 2012.

Rich Beeson moved from the RNC to the Romney Campaign as its Political Director. Jeff Larson moved from FLS Connect to the RNC.

FLS Connect continued to get business from the RNC and also got business from Team Romney. But now Targeted Victory enters the picture. Targeted Victory, LLC’s principal office is the same office in St. Paul, MN that FLS Connect, LLC lists as its own principle office.

Targeted Victory’s manager is Tony Feather, who is the F in FLS Connect.


Rich Beeson, who used to work for FLS Connect, is now with Team Romney and Team Romney awards a contract to Targeted Victory, LLC for its digital work with Zac Moffatt as Digital Director of the campaign.

After taking his post with Romney HQ, Moffatt proceeded to steer more than $96 million to his former company. Between RNC and Romney expenditures, the Targeted Victory-FLS Connect axis siphoned away more than $150 million from Republican donors. FLS Connect made off with $56.3 million.

(KF Note: Here comes my favorite.  If this doesn't scream incompetence that deserves tar & feathering, or  heads on pikes, nothing does.)

Mitt Romney’s Beached ORCA

It should come as no surprise that the backroom deals that created the FLS Connect-Targeted Victory monopoly fostered incompetence as well. The best illustration of how insider dealing contributed to Romney’s loss is the campaign’s get-out-the-vote database system which it called ORCA.

The name was a playful reference to the Obama campaign’s database, Narwhal. Orca is another name for killer whale, the only known predator of the narwhal, another Arctic-dwelling cetacean. The Romney operation called its turnout database ORCA because it believed it had created a “killer app,” one that would enable it to surpass the detailed data operation that the Obama campaign had built up for the 2008 campaign.

With ORCA, the Romney campaign believed it would be able to know more about how the election was transpiring than anyone else.

“At 5 o’clock when the exit polls come out, we won’t pay attention to that,” Romney communications director Gail Gitcho boasted to PBS. “We will have had much more scientific information just based on the political operation we have set up.”

None of that proved true on Election Day. Despite the hype, ORCA was a complete and utter failure. Originally billed as “the world’s largest exit poll,” the volunteer coordination system was never tested on the large-scale computer system it was supposed to run on. Aside from a few people close to Targeted Victory, no one was even shown ORCA at all until right before Election Day. According to Romney volunteer John Ekhdahl, regular volunteers were not even able to familiarize themselves with ORCA until the morning of the election.

The situation was further exacerbated by the Romney operation’s apparent inability to comprehend that ORCA was not a smartphone application like Angry Birds but rather a website designed to be viewed on a smartphone. This created a massive confusion among volunteers who went desperately searching in the app stores of Apple, Google, and Microsoft unsuccessfully trying to find it. To make matters worse, the secured website that ORCA was operating under had no redirect functionality to assist people who had mistakenly reached the insecure version. As a result, according to Ekhdahl, many activists mistakenly believed the system had failed completely since their web browsers literally displayed nothing on the page when they attempted to view the default website.

Unfortunately for Romney, ORCA did actually crash just a few hours later as activists began inputting data about their local voting. This likely was because the website front-end of the database was powered by a single computer, not the half-dozen or more that serve content to high-volume database websites run by actual professionals. Had the Romney campaign been willing to listen to people with real-world experience in these matters, they would easily have realized this.

While Moffatt and others insisted afterward that ORCA continued to collect data, multiple reports suggest what the system did manage to collect was fundamentally wrong. “At the end of the day, they told us that every single swing state was looking either pink or red and the worst one was Virginia, where they were a little concerned,” one anonymous ORCA operator told Politico. “Of course, we know the opposite of that happened.” According to one Republican that Washington Examiner columnist Byron York spoke with, at 4 pm Eastern time, ORCA was predicting that Romney would win just under 300 electoral votes.

Whether it was because of corrupt data or an overly optimistic electorate model, there’s no doubt that ORCA got it wrong. Instead of being the “world’s largest exit poll” ORCA had turned into the Romney campaign’s biggest organizational disaster. Technology writer Daniel Tynan summed the debacle up well in a blog post for the enterprise computer publication InfoWorld:

Everything in the ORCA rollout went great, except for a failure to do any quality assurance, proof its documentation, or beta test in the seven months from conception to implementation. Whoever was behind ORCA apparently also failed to hire a competent Web designer, anticipate server loads, beef up its bandwidth, or notify its ISP to expect a bump in traffic.”

(Told you)

Fleecing the Right

The corruption and incompetence that are pervasive throughout all wings of the American Right is something that receives almost no attention whatsoever from conservative media figures. Besides Erickson, it seems to be something that is ‘just not done.’

Given how enmeshed many corrupt Republican consultants are within the party’s more centrist ranks, it’s not exactly a surprise that moderate conservative writers haven’t criticized them much. Strangely, however, the more fire-breathing columnists have not been too interested, either. Besides generic condemnations against “the Establishment,” only columnist Ann Coulter has ever really gone after the many consultants who are terrible at doing their jobs but terrific at keeping them.

That is terribly unfortunate because the reality is that there are scores of Republican campaign consultants and candidates who are serial failures and yet somehow manage to keep getting hired. This is in stark contrast to the Democratic party where failure is treated far more harshly. Liberals who lose a big presidential race are rarely, if ever, heard from again....

 Although Coulter is a poor strategist in her own right (she is a big booster of the nonsensical theory that somehow Republicans can win by getting only white Protestants to vote for them), she is completely correct that the Right has a much higher tolerance for failed leadership than the Left and that this is largely because conservatives do not know as much about politics:

The Republican Party has no natural defense mechanism against charlatans and saboteurs because politics is not what Republicans think about every second. Democrats love government.

They spend their lives trying to maneuver themselves into a position to run other people’s lives. Republicans don’t want careers in government and give little thought to how to get there.

Often they run for president only because they hope it will lead to more speaking gigs and TV appearances. […] Anyone who hurts the Democrats’ electoral prospects is dead. Not so, the Republicans. If John Edwards, Ned Lamont, and Bill Bradley were Republicans, they’d have radio shows, TV gigs, and bestselling books.

What ever happened to Wesley Clark? Where’s Mike Gravel? Mike Huckabee has a TV show. If you want to know what the other former Republican presidential candidates are doing these days, just turn on the radio or TV. […]

No one gets rich by sabotaging the Democratic Party. But a lot of people get rich off losing races for the Republican Party. […] There are no prizes in politics for caring the most, only for scoring the most. Devotion to the cause isn’t better than having a modicum of political savvy. If we’re serious about improving the country, we need candidates to be brutally honest about their own appeal. That’s if they really care about the team. ...

 Despite the continual corruption and ineptitude of the Republican Industrial Complex, conservatives have reacted with far less outrage to this incompetent cronyism than they have toward the Obama Administration’s equally corrupt doling out of big bucks to politically connected “green” companies like Solyndra or Fisker....
Rest of the essay. Mr. Sheffield actually names more names.  

Kingfish note: Looking past Trump's baggage and propensity to shoot off at the mouth, one can almost understand why he didn't start writing checks to these vultures.  

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Every single sentence of this can true and a contributing factor to the national failures of the Republican party...

But none of this addresses the problem that Haley Barbour's own staff noticed more than 8 years ago: Republicans need a bigger tent.

Yet they continue to ostracize, denigrate, and insult others.

Good luck with that. Keep it going, and let's see how that works for you.

Anonymous said...

There isn't any difference in democrats and republicans. They are both politicians.

Anonymous said...

Good article...... I guess. I'm not sure how relevant. The fact that Trump is the nominee proves that R. voters are tired of the way that their party has not deliver results. Not just in wins, but in many other ways as well. It's been bubbling for a long time.

How sad is it that "Jeb!" is throwing a fit because R. voters did not pick him?..... the way they were supposed to!!

Derrell Ray said...

After i read all this i got a terrible headache thinking about how it would sound with Mr Stokes reading it out loud!

Anonymous said...

"You're doin' a heckuva job, Brownie"

Anonymous said...

@ Kingfish

Thank you for having the wherewithal to share this!

The key point in the article - "The sad reality of conservative and libertarian politics is that the generous people who donate their hard-earned cash have been fleeced for years by greedy, incompetent people who have manipulated the system to profit regardless of the policy or electoral outcomes."

That is Mississippi in a nutshell. This past legislative session they gave a mighty blow to shrinking government, when the state is already operating at a bare minimum in regards to operational cost and workload per state employees. It's only going to get worst until they decide to focus on Mississippians and not corporations. Mississippi has never had an issue with spending or cost - Mississippi's infrastructure has a problem with being effective and productive.

Next legislative session they need to focus on two things - jobs and infrastructure. It's time to do some remodeling and house cleaning.

Put UP said...

... when the state is already operating at a bare minimum in regards to operational cost and workload per state employees.

Link?

Anonymous said...

No politicians care about the common people, either party. Common people do not donate millions of $ to politicians.
It is just common sense to know if you donate $100 to a candidate and another person donates a million $ that the politician is going to listen to the highest bidder. The common person is who elects the politician but the wealthy is who lines the pocket of the politician.

Anonymous said...

With all that is written about the Republicans here the same can be said about the Democratic party as well. Our "Voice of the people" parties have never represented us as we wish they would or should.....there's power forming in their ranks so don't be so shocked in your future.

Anonymous said...

"Yet they continue to ostracize, denigrate, and insult others."


Uh, "I'm proud to be gay! And I'm proud to be a Republican!"


--------------------------------------------------------------------

Sounds like you're a tad behind the times, skippy. But don't let cold hard facts deter you from your fervently held prejudices about people whom you obviously don't know a thing about.

And I'm sure you are blind and deaf to the vicious, nasty lies told by Hillary, Wasserman-Schultz, etc.....

Capt Wm said...

THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN A STINKIN' REPUBLICAN IS A DEMOCRAT!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I thought this article was going to be about the beef plant and Kemper and unbuilt highways for $158 million. Guess that's a different kind of failing and falling upward.

Anonymous said...

9:08 pm read what 10:49 am had to say.
When did we, as a people, forget that two wrongs don't make a right?
I hate it every time the lies are defended by saying " it was just as bad at the time of our Founding Fathers".
1. Shouldn't we become more civilized and better as a people?
2. The lies told in earlier centuries could not be repeated as often and as quickly as they can today.
3. Shouldn't we have learned something about the dangers of The Big Lie with Hitler's rise to power?
When a Nation is divided within, it fails. When a Nation is united because their leaders inspire the people to be their best and unite around the principles of ideas and innovation and accomplishment, they succeed. When leaders realize their goal is to make the entire Nation better and not just their friends, it works out much better. And, we prospered after WWII because the men who came home realized there were things more important than themselves. They wanted to build something lasting that would be a legacy of good.
My parents never bought the excuse " Everybody else is doing it" if I did the wrong thing. The good parents always said, " If everyone was jumping off the Empire State Building would you jump too?
You can't fix the other party but the loyalists in both parties sure as hell can demand better from their own!

Sienn said...

Thanks for the read.

Anonymous said...

From time to time the Republicans ask me for money.My question is what do they need money for? The Democrats are wrong on every policy. Make a list of the 5 or 10 biggest problems in the country, then try to find ONE that is less of a problem than it was 7 years ago. You can't. All the Republicans need is candidates who understand conservationism and can articulate it. Look at Trump. The media covers him. It costs nothing. He makes comments on twitter or twixt or whatever it is. That costs nothing. Not saying that Trump is a great candidate. Just that all the money that Jeb Bush had meant nothing. All the money that Hilary has means nothing. This is not 1960. You can get the message out for free. The trick is you gotta have the right message.

Anonymous said...

Hood loses in 2019. Period. [AND] he knows it.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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