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NY Times Comment "Political Planks Win Elections"

by John Jazwiec

There has always been changes within both political parties. But the idea that they make a difference, assumes the wrong causation affect. Rather winning presidential candidates define the party and pundits read in too much about the electorate 

Lets start with Nixon. His two presidential victories (the second by a landslide of 520 electoral votes) were supposed to be an ushering in of a conservative working-class coalition. When in fact Nixon was an economic and social liberal. We forget this because of Watergate and his impeachment 

Reagan won two elections, with the second being an electoral landslide, because of the man himself. All of his conservatism was attributed to a more conservative electorate. When in fact the electorate hadn't changed. They liked the man. And his conservatism was a secondary by-product. 

Spin forward to the Obama's two large presidential victories. They were the largest electoral college victories since Nixon and Reagan. Pundits misread his victories as a return of liberalism. When in fact, all the electorate was signaling, was the the relative trust in the man himself

Which brings us to the 2016 presidential election. There is no Nixon, Reagan or Obama on the horizon. The winner will simply be a candidate - like Carter, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 - who squeaks by. Even with such a small mandate. there will be be volumes written about the success of the winning party's platform. 

The electorate hasn't changed. Most voters are in the middle. Who wins them, wins by changing their hearts and minds. Not centrists sense of logic.

The center also votes by the pluses of the winner and the minuses of the loser. 

Nixon won large in 1972 against a horrible liberal candidate McGovern. Reagan beat a failed Carter presidency and was reelected in a landslide (every state but Minnesota) against Carter's VP.

Bush 41 against a weak NE liberal Dukakis.

Clinton won because of Perot's independent candidacy in 92. He was reelected by a weak Dole campaign.

Bush 43 was the weakest of all. Close elections against the stiff candidacies of Gore and Kerry.

Obama won big because of Sarah Palin in 08 and big against a stumbling Romney.

The center continues to hold. Their hearts and minds - without ideology - are swayed by who they think they can most trust.

The political planks don't matter to the center. They might matter to the right and left. But what matters to the center is the trust of a one candidate vs the risk of the other candidate. 


Chicago Cubs By The Numbers

by John Jazwiec

In a way, you have to feel sorry for the Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein. He got sold a bill of goods. He has one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. He can't buy better players. Instead he has to sell his best players.

Under the owners purchase of the Cubs from the Chicago Tribune; The Ricketts' family patriarch Joe Ricketts, required him to commit to liquidate TD Ameritrade stock, and his four children, led by Tom, paid $171 million and financed the remaining $674 million. $674 million in debt is a large number. And requires a large amount of interest to be paid ever year. 

One of the things I like most about Epstein is his candor. Last November he admitted the Cubs ranked 14th in on-base percentage -- an admitted critical category.

On the same day, he hired his next manager, who was the bench coach for the San Diego Padres. 

http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/20500/epstein-admits-to-mistakes-in-rebuilding

The Cubs this year have not improved their on-base percentage. Instead they are 29th out of 30 for having the lowest on-base percentage. Guess who is dead last? The San Diego Padres. 

While the finances of the ball team are out of Epstein's control; on-base percentage is not. The latter is not a goal but a process that begins in the minor leagues and holds the major league manager responsible for quality at bats (on-base percentage combines batting average and walks). The Cubs still have players who ignore this statistic. And the manager doesn't bench the players who consistently show they don't work the pitch count. 

The Cubs have regressed this year; not improved this year as to on-base percentage. 

And I am sure Epstein would be the first to admit it.


The Next Adaptation of Von Clausewitz

by John Jazwiec

Von Clausewitz was (a) a realist and (b) understood the danger of the fog of war.

He is most remembered by his quote "War is the continuation of politics by other means"

The next adaption of Von Clausewitz - in the 21st century - under the umbrella or realism and the fog of war - calls for a reevaluation of "war". 

The current meme is that President Obama is the worst foreign president since WWII.

But that assumes that methods of warfare are static. 

Boots on the ground has been displaced by two new methods of warfare

The military using drones AND "fighting" being done through financial weapons

Take Germany. They are fighting WWII with modern means. It's called the Euro. The Euro makes Germany stronger because the Euro artificially deflates their currency for exports instead of the Deutsche Mark. And when its fellow Euro members get into fiscal trouble; Germany demands austerity. Effectively controlling its neighbors w/o a single gun shot being fired.

The US is using economic warfare. And it knows it's the 21st century method of choice. Using it in Iran and Russia for example

The sizzle of 21st century warfare selling the steak isn't compelling

But 21st century warfare's book end; is a part of a larger acknowledgement that 20h century warfare is a complete waste of time in un-winnable theaters of crisis with a complex set of antagonists

Syria has Assad, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Sunni freedom fighters and a genuine Assad resistance group. How can the US win in such a complex place

Iraq is made up of Sunni, Shia, Iranians and Kurds. Now they have ISIS. Again how does the US win in such a complex place

Afghanistan has the Northern Alliance, the Pashtun tribe, other disenfranchised tribes and the Taliban. Again how does the US win in such a complex place

Finally Iran's nuclear proliferation is an impossible seek-and-destroy mission.

Leaving financial weapons as the only option


So Where Did That Runaway Inflation Go?

by John Jazwiec

The Federal Reserve - through the last five years of the Great Recession -maintained an unprecedented expansionary policy. Its balance sheet has grown to more than $4 trillion, up fivefold since the start of the crisis.

Ben Bernanke was grilled every quarter by Congress. While many congressman agreed with his policy; a lot lambasted him for it.

The latter mirrored the "common man's view" - "all this printing of money" would lead to runaway inflation.

When in fact the opposite occured. The inflation rate stands today at 2.1%. 

The disconnect from the Fed, is the Fed "prints money". The Fed doesn't print money; all it does is increase the money supply through banks.  

The Fed's actions have allowed US banks to build up their reserve requirements. This was especially important at the beginning of the banking crisis. But as banks have been increasing their reserves; they have been freed up to make loans. (Banks "create" money supply through loans. How much it can loan depends on its reserves). 

The US was lucky Bush 43 nominated Bernanke as the Fed chairman. Bernanke spent his life studying the Great Depression. What he found was, FDR's government spending helped. But the 1930's Fed did not. They too modestly increased money supply. And they contracted money supply in 1936; which led to negative economic growth in 1936 though 1937. Then the Fed reversed course and increased the money supply leading to enough economic expansion - to reach 1929 levels - before Pearl Harbor. 

Job growth comes from banks making loans. Be it car loans which increase automobile manufacturing jobs. Be it making mortgages which increase construction jobs. Or be it making loans to small business which create small business jobs. 

Having said that, why has the inflation rate remained low?

The "common man" sees an increase in money supply leading to too many dollars chasing too few goods. That might have been the case when the US economy was mostly isolated; but now the US competes in a world-wide economy. 

And in a world-wide economy, where every sovereign nation's businesses are under stress the sell goods and services at the lowest price; the concept of inflation is no longer relevant. Meaning in the past, a US business could sell goods and services at any price; now every business on the planet has to sell goods and services at the lowest price. 

The Fed's expansionary policies shored up bank reserves and created economic growth and jobs. This increased demand, but within a world-wide economy; US businesses still have had to compete based on price.  

So where did that runaway inflation go? Nowhere. But it did help banks make loans, created jobs and increased demand. Meaning more dollars have been chasing unlimited goods and services.  


US World Cup - Again Killed By The Counterattack

by John Jazwiec

When a team pushes forward, it is always subject to a counterattack

Again the US failed and were eliminated from the World Cup by not being able to defend the counterattack. 

Both Belgium goals came from the US attacking and Belgium counterattacking. The attack/counterattack dynamic, it the very nature of the sport.

I was watching the game and I saw both counterattacks happening with almost the entire pitch (field) to be counterattacked. I boastfully (or was it whistling-in-the-graveyard) told fellow fans that Belgium would score the first goal. Duly noted was their response.

Where upon the second counterattack, I again said Belgium would score. This time the fans were pleading with me to change my mind. As if I was some kind of deity? Belgium indeed scored. 

I don't have magical powers :) But (a) I can see a team attacking with too many players near the goal (note Clint Dempsey - he is a defender) and the US defensive backs not marking up in time. 

This problem was illuminated in the US-Portugal match. Either the players didn't break down the tape, are not athletic-enough or their coach failed to point out this problem. 

Either way the US is a long way from having a chance to win the World Cup. 

I only hope that Americans - those get-on-the-bandwagon fans - appreciate the sport and it's nuances and become real soccer fans. 


America - Now You Know How Far Away We Are From World-Class Soccer

by John Jazwiec

The US lead Portugal with a brilliant goal by Clint Dempsey to go up 2-1 at the 81-minute mark. 

If you watch European soccer (football) or the English Premier League, you know the tactics change at this late stage.

You get 3 points for winning, 1 point for tying and 0 points for losing. Hence there is no reason a team, up by a goal, should do anything but control the ball. You don't get more points by trying to win by two goals. 

But with inexperienced substitutions and a lack of world-class football mentality; the U.S. didn't control the ball. They gave it up too many times. But most critically they pushed forward too many times. And their last push forward cost them the match. 

When a team pushes forward, it is always subject to a counterattack. That is the price of trying to score a goal. That's not a price to pay when there is less than a minute to go in a match and you are winning. 

You can see from this screen shot the US defenders racing back with their backs turned - 

6-23-14CounterAttack 1

Then a few seconds later watch the defender - you see the white player at the top of the screen of the final four defenders above - not match up with the his man (the top red jersey) below - 

6-23-14not matching up

The result may have been surprising to a pedestrian World Cup fan. But not to someone who watches world-class football. If you let a world-class player like Cristiano Ronaldo too many chances without your defense aligned; he is going to hurt you. And he delivered during the final minute of stoppage time. That doesn't happen in the big leagues. 

Now instead of guaranteeing the US passing the group stage and surprisingly eliminating Portugal in the group stage; the US will have to tie or beat Germany (asuming Portugal beats Ghana). That's going to be difficult. And the US coach - German Jurgen Klinsmann - who made the coaching mistakes in the last 9 minutes of regular time and 5 minutes of stoppage time - knows it. 

Until the US, its starters and its reserves play in European leagues, especially the EPL, the US is going to be far away from being a world-class football team. Until the US has their own indigenous coach that has played/coached in Europe; the US is going to be far way from having a chance to win a World Cup.

The score - take basketball or American football - tells a difference in ability that is easier to quantify. Soccer (football) not so much. There is a lot of difference between 1-1, 2-1 and 2-2. 

And being up 2-1, with 14 minutes to play, and finishing 2-2 in the last seconds speaks volumes. 

Now Americans know how far away they are from belng a world-class soccer (football team). 

Not just a little, but a lot. 


FX Fargo: Groundbreaking Television/The End Of The Anti-Hero

by John Jazwiec

The movie "Fargo" is considered one of the greatest movies of all time.

FX took a big risk adapting the movie to a 10-episode television show. And the risk was worth it. The show "Fargo" finished last Tuesday night. I consider it the best show of all time. 

The show was groundbreaking.

There were two antagonists. Lester Nygaard taking on a similar role as William Macy's Jerry Lundegaard. A husband who is complicate in his wife's murder(s). And Malvo, played by Billy Bob Thornton, who is a crazed hit man. 

The protagonists are a reluctant Duluth policeman turned mailman Gus with a daughter to care for after his wife's death. A deputy police chief, Molly, from Bemidji who investigates Lester and Malvo, who ends up marrying Gus, carrying his baby and becoming a step-mom to Gus's daughter. Molly's dad, an ex-state policeman, played by Keith Carradine. And the Bemidji police chief played by Bob Odenkirk (who played "Better Call Saul" in the show "Breaking Bad").

The show is groundbreaking for three reasons. Molly is not model-like. She is heavy and more heavy after becoming pregnant. And all of the protagonists are simple and good people. And they end up being winners and the antagonists losers. Finally the ten-episode format - coming to a conclusion - is akin to watching a great movie for an hour a week for ten weeks. 

Since the Sapranos, the best television, has revolved around anti-heroes. Tony Saprano and Walter White of Breaking Bad come to mind. 

In the case of Fargo, the antagonists are pure evil and the protagonists are pure throwbacks that harken back to more simple times where good values matter. In this way, the antagonists exist, simply to show a contrast between the complexity of evil and lack of complexity of being good. 

I highly recommend the show. If you have not watched it; you should download the show and binge watch it over a weekend. 

It's so good, so well written. so well acted and so well shot, that I don't want to ruin the story and its ending in this blog. 

I can promise watching all ten episodes, will leave the reader, highly satisfied and perhaps better people for having watched good triumph over evil.  


California Chrome - Didn't Even Pass The Smarty Jones Test

by John Jazwiec

The Triple Crown of horse racing is daunting for a reason. 

The first leg, the Kentucky derby, is a crowded field of 2.0 kilometers. The second leg, the Preakness is a short field of 1.9 kilometers. And the final leg, the Belmont Stakes, is a more crowded field, with many of the Kentucky Derby horses skipping the Preakness to rest, for a staggering race of 2.4 kilometers. 

California Chrome finished fourth. The other three horses - Tonalist (1), Commissioner (2) and Medal Count (3) - all skipped the Preakness to rest. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGaNCWZLyWc

There were three tests for California Chrome. The Secretariat/Seattle Slew test by winning by more than one length. The Affirmed test by winning by a nose. And the Smarty Jones test by losing by a nose.

California Chrome thus didn't even pass the Smarty Jones test. Just as all the rest of the potential Triple Crown winners - except for Smarty Jones - he wasn't close. 

But at least all the horses ended the race unhurt. So this Belmont Stakes race passed the Barbaro test. And that was always the most important test in my mind. 

For all the reasons I stated in my past blog, winning the Triple Crown is daunting and nearly impossible. And will continue to be so for many years to come. 


Thoughts On The Triple Crown

by John Jazwiec

The Triple Crown of horse racing is daunting for a reason. 

The first leg, the Kentucky derby, is a crowded field of 2.0 kilometers. The second leg, the Preakness is a short field of 1.9 kilometers. And the final leg, the Belmont Stakes, is a more crowded field, with many of the Kentucky Derby horses skipping the Preakness to rest, for a staggering race of 2.4 kilometers. 

Thus winning the Triple Crown is akin to having the ability to win a sprint AND a long-distance race. Most people and horses only have the DNA and training to excel at one; not both. 

Horses that have won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness are racing for glory. The other horses are racing for enhancing the value of their offspring. Which means all the horses at the Belmont Stakes have the same amount of motivation to win. 

If you go back and watch the last 11 horses, since Affirmed (who only won by a nose), that have attempted to win the Triple Crown, only Smarty Jones looked like he was in a position to win in the homestretch at the Belmont Stakes. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuLGsOjnGmo

Time is a fickle thing. It's hard to remember how much the public wanted Smarty Jones to win. California Chrome will have the same impact on the public by June 7th. 

If you watch the less-than-3-minute video of Smarty Jones, see him breaking away in the homestretch, listen to the sound of an excited crowd and how close he came to glory; you can see an almost-best-case scenario for California Chrome. 

California Chrome has to first beat the odds to race like Smarty Jones. Then he has to beat the greater odds to actually win by a nose like Affirmed. And the greatest odds to win convincingly like Seattle Slew (a few lengths) and Secretariat (31 lengths). 

It's somewhat of a mystery why horse racing brings about such passion with the public. But it does. Seabiscuit and Secretariat as movies were successful. Perhaps it's not so much the horses that captivate us, as it is the long-odds of winning the Triple Crown. 

As for this writer, I am a sucker for internalizing the last leg of the Triple Crown. After watching the Smarty Jones video, again, after remembering how I felt at the time; I am hoping for one of two things to happen on June 7th. Either California Chrome fades early or he wins. 

The worst outcome would be a Smarty Jones-like race.

Or is it?

Which gets us back to why the Triple Crown captivates us. I believe it's because these three-year old horses become our surrogate children. Surrogate children who are at their most innocent and vulnerable.  

And when you look at it like that, you instantly remember the real worst outcome of a Triple Crown horse race. And that was Barbaro. While watching Smarty Jones not winning the Triple Crown by a nose was very disappointing; stone-cold gamblers and the public cried when Barbaro came up lame in the Preakness. 

It's one thing to watch a surrogate child almost win glory; it's a whole different thing to see a surrogate child injured. 

And that brings us full circle back to Smarty Jones. He was beat by a horse who's jockey - Edgar Prado - felt bad he had won. Prado would go on to be Barboro's jockey. And he was devastated. Reminding us that it's not just the horses that are our surrogate children; but it's the jockeys that are our surrogate child's coach.  

Let's wish California Chrome the best on winning the Triple Crown. But let's also not forget to wish for the well-being of the horse and the jockey. They risk life and limb for our entertainment. And we need to put this historic horse race in June within that context. 


The Great Recession's Cause And Affect Problem - Rebuttal Of NY Times

by John Jazwiec

The Great Recession, its roots and the relative merits of its mitigation; are greatly misunderstood.

The popular meme - because it simplifies - is that banking practices were the cause and subsequent banking/fiscal practices are to blame

The central problem with this meme, is it gets cause and affect backwards. The roots of the Great Recession lie within the imbalance of the supply and demand of labor within the context of the tectonic changes - just as disruptive as the Industrial Revolution - from economic globalization and the commoditization of information.

The former shifted the source of labor demand. The latter reduced the price of labor. Leaving the US with three kinds of workers. Manufacturing, white-collar and creative labor. While manufacturing labor's demise is understood; white collar is not. A white-collar laborer relies on information arbitrage. With ubiquitous information - from the internet and software to process - information arbitrage has been eliminated.

It takes two parties to form unsafe banking practices. Desperate consumers needing a life-raft; driving up loan demand. With banks adjusting their practices to meet said demand. By 2008, this house of cards, came to an end

The problem after 2008, has been, that there is no solution to systemic unemployment. There is too little creative labor and too little willingness for labor to change.

Banking/fiscal policies can't change a generational labor market problem. Only time and people can.


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From athletic scholar and satirist to computer programmer to CEO success, John Jazwiec brings a unique and often eccentric perspective to business and supply chain challenges. Exploring how they can be solved through the leadership and communication insights found in untraditional sources. This CEO blog demonstrates how business insights from books on history to the music of Linkin Park can help challenge and redefine “successful leadership.” Read Jazwiec’s Profile >>

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