Paul Ryan’s Battle of Kasserine Pass

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General George S. Patton arrived in North Africa with a single mission: lead the Allied forces to victory over the Hun.

But Patton’s assignment was also in response to a miserable and deadly failure of leadership. The failed leadership of General Lloyd Fredendall.

Fredendall was a Francophobe and an Anglophobe ill-suited to wage coalition warfare; a micromanager who bypassed the chain of command – giving orders as far down as company level; a coward, he allowed animus with subordinates to affect his judgment and undercut their authority; and finally, staring defeat in the face at Kasserine, he tried to pin the blame on others.

Abolishing Obamacare was to be the first battle of the new Republican government. For this battle, Republican forces had trained for nearly a decade. But, as we learn so often in history, peacetime generals and commanders mostly fail when the bullets start flying. For example, every US submarine commander in command on Pearl Harbor Day was relieved of command within a year. Mostly because they failed as wartime commanders.

When Trump won and the GOP retained the Senate, America transitioned to a political wartime footing. But Ryan’s boots aren’t up to that rugged turf.

Over on the news channels, the House of Representatives is about to kill Paul Ryan’s failed, horrible healthcare plan. I admit I was wrong yesterday. I expected the bill to pass. And I was okay with it passing. Yesterday.

Today, seeing Paul Ryan scramble, panic, and retreat, I’m glad the bill is failing. Like General Fredendall, Ryan arrived in his position with high expectations. Before his epic failure at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, Eisenhower wrote of Fredenall: “I bless the day you urged Fredendall upon me and cheerfully acknowledge that my earlier doubts of him were completely unfounded.”

Borrowing the words of Dwight Von Zimmermann who chronicled Fredendall’s failure, consider this:

Paul Ryan is a Trumpophobe and a populophobe ill-suited to wage populist warfare; a backroom conspirator who bypassed the House order, crafting a failed bill with lobbyists and cronies; a coward, he allowed animus with the Republican President to affect his judgment and undercut Trump’s authority; and, finally, staring defeat in the face at AHCA, his establishment cronies will try to pin the blame on the tea party.

It’s time for House Republicans to show the humility, wisdom, and leadership shown by Dwight Eisenhower. After Fredendall’s epic failure, Eisenhower ordered him to return stateside and occupy a desk until the end of the war. Fredendall might destroy the desk, but at least he wouldn’t be in a position to get people killed.

I call on the House Republicans, beginning with Missouri’s delegation, to move immediately to replace Paul Ryan as Speaker. Replace him with a leader in the mold of George Patton. Replace Ryan with a Speaker of character and strength equal to this historical inflection point.

Now, on to tax reform.

Neediness

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President Trump is teaching the world a huge lesson. That valuable lesson goes something like this:

Don’t be needy.

Jim Camp is a world-famous negotiation coach. Jim has led some enormous negotiations: labor disputes, huge multi-national buys, and mergers. This is is what Jim says about neediness in his book Start With No:

It is absolutely imperative that you as a negotiator understand the importance of this point. You do NOT need this deal, because to be needy is to lose control and make bad decisions.

Yesterday, I pointed out that most politicians, especially Republican politicians, need every deal. And they use time to get “some deal done.” They delay. They move deadlines (which were never really deadlines.) They change positions.

To politicians,  any deal is better than no deal. 

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.

That’s an achievement worth celebrating.

Obamacare Repeal Vote Results (Prediction)

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Today, President Trump changed the game. He changed the Prisoner’s Dilemma (coordination) into a game of Chicken (competition).

Lifer Republicans have no experience with games of chicken. They were raised on coordination games.

By changing the game to Chicken, Donald Trump greatly increased the chances that phony Paul Ryan’s healthcare will PASS.

Here’s why briefly.

Psychologically, people always think they have more time. Republicans, in particular, believe time is limitless. Lifelong Republicans think they can delay any decision until the decision they want is a given.

But Trump said in effect, “vote tomorrow. I’m moving on.”

That’s a very strong move. And it scared the shit out of Republicans. Even Freedom Caucus snowflakes who accused the President of ignoring them. (Not all Freedom Caucusers are snowflakes. But the pansies who complained about their lack of access to the President should be driven out of the caucus and out of the Congress. They’re weak.) Enough Republicans believe that it’s this or nothing. It’s this or Obamacare forever. It’s this or total failure of the last 8 years of Republican politics.

So my prediction is that this pathetic bill will pass.

I hope, but don’t predict, that House Republicans will remove Paul Ryan from the Speakership. Paul Ryan is a weak and failed Speaker. This bill should have been ready on January 20. Ryan’s selfishness caused this crisis. 

For the record, I also hope the bill passes. Not that I like the bill. But I think it can be improved with future legislation. If it fails, we will live with Obamacare for the next 100 years. Too many people worked too hard for too many years to let that happen.

Strategy, not hyperventilation.

P.S. Nothing in this post should be construed as an endorsement of Paul Ryan. I think Paul Ryan is a disgusting, weak person. But I believe Trump. He walks away from negotiations that are going nowhere. When he says “take it or leave it,” he means. He has a history.

Healthcare Strategy: Ignore Government Diet Advice

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Yesterday, I established an end: great health care that ordinary people can afford.

You remember I talked about John Braddock’s explanation of strategy: choose the end and work backward. Then forword.

And Braddock’s first step after choosing an end: what comes immediately before. That’s where we are today.

A few weeks back, I wrote several posts about diet (here and here). I warned you that the government and doctors and, especially, dieticians have been poising us for years. The government’s recommended diet leads to expensive diseases: type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, obesity, hip and knee damage, and many forms of cancer.

Some people think that deadly diet advice is on purpose. Big medicine and big government benefit when a lot of people suffer from terrible diseases. That’s hard to dispute. Imagine if the incidence of all those diseases I just listed dropped in half. How many people would be thrown out of work?

Other people think the government and big medicine are just misguided. And afraid. I know people who know that eating egg white omelets and lots of sugars and starches will kill them. But they do it anyway because of the social stigma of eating food that actually keeps you healthy. It’s possible, then, that the government and doctors are just afraid of telling you the truth. That’s understandable.

But cowardly leaders is no excuse for us. We believe in personal responsibility. And we want to live long, healthy lives free from expensive diseases like diabetes and cancer.

While eating a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet won’t guarantee freedom from bad diseases, eating the opposite diet will almost guarantee an expensive and life-limiting diagnosis for you some day.

So what do we find just before that end state? We find a lot of people eating right, which causes a huge drop in bad diagnoses. (Did you know you can reverse type 2 diabetes (video below) and arrest the progression of Parkinson’s Disease with a low-carb, high-fat diet and fasting?)

Eating right a strategy. And it’s completely in your control. Watch.

Healthcare Strategy Beats Hyperventilating

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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:

  1. Strategy
  2. Tactics

Most of the hyperventilation from the right this week was unstrategic and anti-tactical. This post will fix that. If you follow it.

Strategy

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.

[The Spy’s Guide to Thinking is the #1 Best-Seller on Kindle Singles]

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.

Never

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.

[The Spy’s Guide to Thinking is the #1 Best-Seller on Kindle Singles. I do not ]

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.

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.

To be continued. Don’t jump to conclusions.