Republicans need to get any deal done leads to disasters. Big-league negotiators know this.
I’ve written many times about Chris Voss. Chris was the FBI’s lead hostage negotiator for years. Chris is also a big fan of Jim Camp’s methods. Here’s what Chris says about neediness in his great book Never Split the Difference:
NO NEEDINESS: HAVING THE READY-TO-WALK MINDSET
We’ve said previously that no deal is better than a bad deal. If you feel you can’t say “No” then you’ve taken yourself hostage. Once you’re clear on what your bottom line is, you have to be willing to walk away. Never be needy for a deal.
To Donald Trump, no deal beats a bad deal.
Trump told Congress to vote on Friday. Pass or fail, he’s moving on.
That is leadership. And it teaches a lesson. It teaches people that the days of American neediness are over. Like when Ronald Reagan fired the PATCO workers.
If the bill passes, we have something to celebrate. Celebrate the fact that our President isn’t needy. Because the world now knows that Trump will walk away from a bad deal.
Paul Ryan unveiled a health care bill two weeks ago. Ryan’s favorite lobbyists wrote it. They wrote it in secret. They dumped it on the House GOP caucus.
A lot of my friends on the right went hermatile. “Shoved down our throats!” “Obamacare two-point-oh!” “Obamacare Lite!” “Tyranny!” “Entitlements!” “Worse than Obamacare!” The most frequently used key on the keyboards of tea partiers was the exclamation point!
It’s easy to get spun up over the way Speaker Ryan handled the bill. He violated several of his own promises. He acted a lot like Nancy Pelosi.
No one should be surprised by Ryan’s behavior, though. Paul Ryan works for big corporations. He does their bidding.
Or maybe he’s a master strategist.
I want you to keep in mind two important things about replacing Obamacare:
Most of the hyperventilation from the right this week was unstrategic and anti-tactical. This post will fix that. If you follow it.
You can’t be strategic if you don’t know what strategy is. Most people have no idea from strategy. The people who say “strategy” a lot in business meetings understand it the least. So let’s begin with the simplest, most brilliant explanation of strategy every written.
John Braddock was a research fellow at Washington University. He worked with Murray Wiedenbaum. Then he quit academia and became a CIA agent. He wrote a great about thinking like a spy: The Spy’s Guide to Thinking. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re lucky to survive. If you go up against someone who has read it, they’ll eat your lunch.
Braddock is working on his second book: The Spy’s Guide to Strategy. He’s released some excerpts from strategy book, and one of those excerpts provides the best definition of strategy ever.
If you’re a strategist, you start at the end.
You think about where you want to be. What will be there. Who will be there.
You start at the end.
Then, you think backward.
Braddock shows us how most people think: forward.
Then he shows us how strategists think: beginning at the end.
If you’re a strategist, the first step is choosing the end. You make the end certain. Which makes the now flexible.
If you’re a strategist, you think about the end first.
Then, you think about the rest.
If you’re a strategist, you think like this:
Finally, he tells us exactly why we need to think about healthcare reform like strategists.
Here’s one thing about thinking like a strategist: You’re never hopeless.
You should read those excerpts again right now. Then read them again. Look at those graphics. Those are world-class visualizations. They’re genius. You’ve probably never seen a better example of genius visualization. You want to memorize that entire excerpt. You also want to bookmark Braddock’s website. The first thousand people who read The Spy’s Guide to Strategy will probably rule the world.
Health Care Strategy
Let’s take Braddock’s advise. Let’s choose the end we want.
The end is not “repeal and replace.” That’s a slogan, not a strategy. “Repeal and replace” makes us feel good. It’s intentionally vague. It gives people a lot of latitude in implementation. Almost anything can be called a repeal. And literally anything can be a replacement.
If our end is “repeal and replace,” we should all support Ryan’s bill 100 percent. It’s better than nothing, and saying you’re for “repeal and replace” is another way of saying “I’m for anything.”
I’m not sure anyone on the right has actually defined our end. So I will.
Our end is the best health care system in the world that ordinary people can afford. We believe that the free market is the best tool for achieving that end. We are open to considering other means (other than free markets), but we’re like doctors. We must see evidence some other method works better than free markets. People who’ve looked hard haven’t found any yet. So we’ll stick with free markets for now.
That’s our end: the world’s best health care system that ordinary Americans can afford. When you think about it, that’s not too much to ask for, is it?
What Comes Immediately Before That?
Before we get the world’s best healthcare system at prices we can afford is 60 votes in the Senate and a majority in the House. The Republicans have 52 votes. Let’s assume all 52 will vote for some bill. That’s eight votes short.
Braddock also asks “who will be there?” Paul Ryan will be there. Paul Ryan is the Speaker of the House, and nothing gets a vote in the House without Paul Ryan’s permission. Nothing. He literally owns the House. And big medicine owns Paul Ryan.
That means the bill has to appeal to eight Democrat Senators and one bought-and-paid-for Speaker of the House. And that’s the reality you need to deal with.
In Braddock’s first book, he lays out a formula: DADA.
Data –> Analysis –> Decision –> Action
Everybody wants action. But action, as Braddock points out, is expensive. Action eliminates options. If we want the best healthcare system in the world at prices ordinary Americans can afford, we better have great data, excellent analysis, and great decisions first.
Some of the data is the reality I pointed out above: 8 Democrat Senators and a bought-and-paid-for Speaker of the House.
Now for the analysis.
At least eight Democrat Senators will do what their big medicine handlers tell them to do. So will Speaker Ryan. Those big medicine executives, like all executives, prefer the devil they know. And the devil they know best is the devil some call “the administrative state.”
Free market reforms in medicine and insurance will disrupt that administrative state. Big league. That panics those candy-ass corporate MBAs. Spooks them, I tell you.
I’ve written before that most executives would rather know for sure they’re going out of business than be surprised by a $20 billion profit. They spook easily, and they wouldn’t recognize leadership if Patton slapped them in the face.
If you want free market reforms, you better persuade big medicine execs that free markets will provide predictable growth and substantial cost savings in the near term. If those execs come to believe the free market can be predictable and cheaper, they’ll instruct eight Democrat Senators and their Speaker to vote for the bills that deliver it.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. We’ve introduced another “who.” Big medicine execs. They represent new data. We need to feed that new data back into the analysis loop.
Big Medicine Execs
Imagine that you’re a big corporate executive. Your company is in medicine. Pharma, hosptials, insurance, devices, whatever. You have a big office. And huge income. You get paid based on your company’s current stock price. Your pay and prestige have nothing to do with the quality of your company or the quality of your products. You can sell poison to kids and be treated like a hero in the business world. You can go bankrupt nineteen times in a year and get a trillion-dollar bonus. Just so your stock price stays inflated. You can cook the books, evade prosecution, and replace all your American workers with foreigners and be hailed as a Great American if your stock price goes up. In other words, there is no honor among execs.
You get paid based on your company’s current stock price. Pretend you’re a CEO. About 80 percent of your CEO pay comes bonuses and incentives mostly tied to stock performance, according to Salary.com. Your pay and prestige have nothing to do with the quality of your company or the quality of your products. You can sell poison to kids and be treated like a hero in the business world. You can go bankrupt nineteen times in a year and get a trillion-dollar bonus. Look at Wall Street after the crash. Just don’t let your stock price falter. You can cook the books, evade prosecution, and replace all your American workers with foreigners and be hailed as The Great American Leader if your stock price goes up. In other words, there is no honor among execs.
There’s no point in appealing to a business executive’s honor. They’ve been trained since childhood that the measure of a man is his total compensation relative to his peers in business. These execs have compensation plans based on stock price, and that’s the only thing they care about. That compensation is more important than anything, including their families, including their country. You can’t shame them into doing the right thing. There’s no class on shame at Harvard Business School.
Big business runs on imaginary predictability, and everyone in business knows it. Before becoming a famous cartoonist, Dilbert’s Scott Adams worked in that business-modeling world. Here’s how he describes his old job:
By the way, my educational background is in economics and business. And for years, my corporate jobs involved making complex financial projections about budgets. In other words, I was perpetuating financial fraud within the company, by order of my boss. He told me to pretend my financial projections were real, and I did. But they were not real. My predictions were in line with whatever my boss told me they would be. I “tuned” my assumptions until I got my boss’s answer.
Nothing has changed since Adams left the corporate world. Believe me.
That’s why hyperventilation about Obamacare 2.0 does no good. The most important lobbying group in the country doesn’t care. They just want stability. They want to know that they can continue to rely on their erroneous and fraudulent economic models and projects. They know their projections are bullshit. But the corporate world has spent decades erecting a facade around their fraudulent modeling techniques. They will fight like dogs to prevent those facades from coming down. Because, if the facades fall, we’ll see that they’re all naked.
So my analysis: stop shouting “no” to Ryan’s bill. Look ahead to our end, the world’s best health care system that ordinary Americans can afford. Then reason backward. What will be there? Who will be there? What happens just before that? And before that? And again until we get all the way back to now?
Once we get back to now we will know our next step. And by working backward, we can see only one future: the future we chose.
Almost every time Donald Trump says something crazy, something so outlandish and wrong, he later turns out to be right.
I know his critics can’t read my blog. (Literally, they can’t. They have a psychological problem that prevents their brains from processing information that’s inconsistent with their beliefs.) But for those of you who want to be right with the truth instead of just right with your own opinion, this will be a great post to forward to your friends. I’ll make it easy with clickable Twitter boxes like this one.
I googled “Trump was right.” I got a lot of links back. I was embarrassed to realize I had forgotten most of these cases. Maybe you remember these now. Before you decide Trump’s crazy wiretap story is, well, crazy, you will want to recall all the other times Trump’s crazy assertions were true.
When Trump said it was too early to tell who was behind a string of threats against Jewish centers, the Anti-Defamation League, and others attacked Trump, some accusing Trump supporters of the threats. But the arrest of far-left St. Louis journalist Juan Thompson, a Bernie supporter, proved Trump was right to withhold judgment until all the facts were in.
General Motors flatly denied Trump’s allegation that GM was moving Chevy Cruze production to Mexico. The media jumped in on GM’s side. But on January 19, CNN Money admitted Trump was right. GM was laying off 1,200 Americans because of its move to Mexico. GM lied, Trump was right.
Remember when Trump said he would save thos Carrier jobs in Indiana? Everyone said he was nuts. He saved most of them, didn’t he?
Trump called himself a conservative person. Professional conservatives howled and called him a charlatan. Yet, so far, Trump has been the most conservative president since Calvin Coolidge. (Sorry, Mr. Reagan.) And he’s just getting started!
Trump said he’d appoint a conservative to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Pundits and professional conservatives said he’d pick a liberal. Cruz said he’d pick Merrick Garland. But Trump picked Neil Gorsuch, a favorite of Ted Cruz.
Nobody believed Trump when he said he could win the Republican nomination as late as April 2016. I was in DC in April hanging out with political friends. They all expected the GOP to find some way to dump Trump and appoint Cruz or Rubio as the nominee. Trump wrapped up the nomination less than a month later.
None of the major media, major pollsters (save for Rasmussen), political pundits, or Hollywood celebs gave Trump a snowball’s chance in hell at winning on November 8. But Trump divested all of his stock holdings in June of 2016 because “I felt very much that we’d be winning.” As the Dallas News put it: “Trump was right, we were wrong.” Showtime calls the election the biggest political upset of all time. And until November 9th, so many people called Trump’s confidence a sign of craziness.
Look, there are probably another 100 cases where Trump said or tweeted something “crazy” that turned out to be right. You’re probably thinking of several that I missed. But I’m tired of writing. Almost every time Trump says something outlandish, he’s right and everyone else is wrong. I’m used to it. You might want to just start nodding your head at everything Trump says. He’s usually right. And always right about the important stuff.
John McCain may have done some heroic things, but he is a hero no more.
Imagine how you’d feel.
A knock on your door.
Through the deadlights around your front door, you see a car with government stencils on the side. When you get close enough, you look out and see a man in uniform. An officer. You know. You know why he’s here. Your throat tightens. You want to turn around and walk away. You can’t. You must open the door. You must let this officer recite his grim script.
“The Secretary of the Navy has asked me to inform you that your son was killed in action . . .”
You can imagine that parents of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines pray every day that they never hear those words. Yet we never forget that we might.
If it happens to you, your greatest hope is that your son or daughter gave his or her life for the highest purposes. That your child’s death will lead to some greater good. That they did not die in vain.
The gravest sin one can commit against the fallen fighter and the fighter’s family is to denigrate the nature of their child’s service and death. Shooting a grieving parent would be more merciful and holy than telling them their child’s death was meaningless and useless.
John McCain told Ryan Owens’s family that Senior Chief Owens died in vain. McCain repeatedly called the Yemen mission a “failure.” He refused to apologize to Owens’s family. And he clumsily attempted to cover his tracks with an absurd assertion that any military operation that results in a loss of life is a failure.
By implication, McCain called D-Day a failure. By his logic, every American fighting man and fighting woman who died in combat died in vain.
The press, of course, celebrated McCain’s idiotic assertions. Yet, we know now that the “failed” raid resulted in actionable intelligence:
I hope Senior Chief Owens’s family now realizes that Senator McCain was wrong. Ryan Owens is a hero whose life and death gave material, measurable assistance to a better world and a higher purpose. He did not die in vain.
In 2012, Barack Obama got caught telling Russian Prime Minister Medvedev that he’d have more “flexibility” after the election.
Later in 2012, during a debate, Obama accused GOP candidate Mitt Romney of stoking Cold War fears against our new friends in Moscow. Obama said, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because…the Cold War’s been over for 20 years!” In fact, in 2012, the whole pantheon of pantsuit partiers mocked warnings about Russia.
Now, of course, Obama won’t be satisfied until Trump goes to condition 1SQ for strategic launch (spin up all missiles) against the Russians. Warmongers.