More Geekenfreude

Adding to the picture of the Obama tech-group’s cyber-campaign edge over Romney’s people, here are a few more details on the GOP’s Project ORCA  — you know, the GOTV system that failed more or less completely. From  Commentary:

The system had never been stress tested and couldn’t handle the crush of traffic all at once. Thousands of man-hours went into designing and implementing a program that was useful on one day and one day only, and on that day, it crashed. My source familiar with the campaign described it this way, “It was a giant [mess] because a political operative sold a broken product with no support or backup plan…”

Just to belabor the obvious.  Big data and robust software take a lot of time to get right…

…but the Romney side began only began to grasp the need for such a system well into the heat of the campaign [Powerline link]:

In the primary, we learned it was difficult to be working from Boston and really affect voter turnout in the states. It was disappointing to receive data later and realize if we had access to that data earlier, we could have done something differently and affected the outcome.

We have tweaked and improved Project ORCA throughout primary, so going into the general, we had several ideas and more time to incorporate those ideas into a system that would work nationally.

[ETA — via Ars Technica, building ORCA took place over just seven months, leading up almost to the point of the general election]

By contrast, as the Michael Scherer’s piece I quoted yesterday describes, the Democratic cyber-team spent 18 months just to build the essential infrastructure of a usable meta-database and developing the software tools that would allow the Obama team to exploit that information for use in different settings throughout the active campaigning season.

And then there’s this, by Steve Lohron the NYT’s Bits Blog:

Another truly important change was in the technology itself. “Cloud computing barely existed in 2008,” Mr. Slaby said.

This time, the Obama campaign’s data center was mainly Amazon Web Services, the leading supplier of cloud services. The campaign’s engineers built about 200 different programs that ran on the Amazon service including Dashboard, the remote calling tool, the campaign Web site, donation processing and data analytics applications.

Using mainly open-source software and the Amazon service, the Obama campaign could inexpensively write and tailor its own programs instead of using off-the-shelf commercial software.

“It let us attack and engineer our own approach to problems, and build solutions for an environment that moves so rapidly you can’t plan,” Mr. Slaby said. “It made a huge difference this time.”

[ETA: by contrast, the Romney development process, again, as reported by Ars Technica’s Sean Gallagher [h/t commenter dmislev]:

To build Orca, the Romney campaign turned to Microsoft and an unnamed application consulting firm..

[But there were] a series of deployment blunders and network and system failures. While the system was stress-tested using automated testing tools, users received little or no advance training on the system. Crucially, there was no dry run to test how Orca would perform over the public Internet.

Part of the issue was Orca’s architecture. While 11 backend database servers had been provisioned for the system—probably running on virtual machines—the “mobile” piece of Orca was a Web application supported by a single Web server and a single application server. Rather than a set of servers in the cloud, “I believe all the servers were in Boston at the Garden or a data center nearby…]

Open source.  Build it yourself.  Don’t had over your wallet to a consultant and take (allegedly) turnkey delivery days or weeks before chequered flag goes down.

Lots of folks here have more experience with this kind of work than I ever will, but my friends in the open source camp always emphasize:  if you build the tool and know the tool, and do so in an environoment that’s easy for others to inspect, critique, and improve, you get good software.  You certainly can get fine software from conventional proprietary approaches — but not always, and you suffer most when you have a glitch:  fewer people know what’s going on, and the code itself can be much more opaque.  Commenters here can flesh that cartoon out with much more bitter experience, I’m sure — but I think we all know the eternal truth that you really, really don’t want to be testing critical new components on the night.

A last point:  One of the benefits of demanding extreme effort in our Presidential campaigns is so that they can serve as stress tests, a way to see how well each side handles pressure and complex tasks.  And here,  you can see a lot in the different approaches the two teams took to building technology intended to address essentially the same problem.  You get a sense of their respective management cultures, their analytical skills, their capacity to master their emotions and organize themselves against the specific tasks they face.

Or, as our friend John Hindrocket asked just a week ago,

Whom [sic]* would you count on to organize anything, Mitt Romney or David Axelrod?

Heh.

*per resident BJ grammar constable Smithneus, to whom I offer thanks.

Image:  Titian, Allegory of Time Governed By Prudence, c. 1565.

203 replies
  1. 1
    Gordon, the Big Express Engine says:

    Frist!

  2. 2
    gogol's wife says:

    That last question is a reference to tailoring, I’m sure. They really think that if somebody is “rumpled” that means they’re somehow not as smart. Usually goes the other way, in my experience.

  3. 3
    aimai says:

    The entire Republican attitude towards the Presidency is based on “looks good”–that’s what they thought of Reagan and that is what they thought of Mitt. “He looks like a President” though true of Obama is not the reason he won, or the reason he needed to win. The campaigns both men ran–and both men ran them, not subordinates–are typical expressions of their intellectual and governing styles. Mitt has always been in it for show. Obama’s relatively brief political history before becoming President shows a man who was in it to do something with power, not merely to acquire power and enjoy its trappings.

    aimai

  4. 4
    smintheus says:

    ‘Whom’ is grammatically correct…just about the only thing that fool gets right.

  5. 5
    LanceThruster says:

    But he would have been the razor-sharp deciderer on Benghazi, eh?

  6. 6
    Thoroughly Pizzled says:

    2012’s election has been more satisfying than 2008’s so far. The Republicans really have no excuse this time for sucking so much.

  7. 7
    Jay C says:

    Whom [sic] would you count on to organize anything, Mitt Romney or David Axelrod?

    So what’s the old saw about “don’t ask a question you already know the answer to…”??

  8. 8
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    HuffPo:

    Peter Morrison, treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party, wrote a column … this week calling for an “amicable divorce” from the U.S., the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
    __
    Morrison went on to express anger at the “maggots” who backed Obama …

    Y’know, somehow I get the feeling that Morrison isn’t really sincere about being amicable.

    .

  9. 9
    lahru says:

    Alot of people got fleeced and they were all Conservatives, you know people with money. Funny how life goes when hate clouds your mind. They HOPED but they did not CHANGE.

  10. 10
    kindness says:

    You really only needed to allude to the debate threads here at BJ (cough cough). The first one was a problem. After that they got much better.

  11. 11
    dmsilev says:

    Ars Technica also had a nice post-mortem:

    Instead, volunteers couldn’t get the system to work from the field in many states—in some cases because they had been given the wrong login information. The system crashed repeatedly. At one point, the network connection to the Romney campaign’s headquarters went down because Internet provider Comcast reportedly thought the traffic was caused by a denial of service attack.
    __
    As one Orca user described it to Ars, the entire episode was a “huge clusterfuck.” Here’s how it happened.

  12. 12
    smintheus says:

    Maybe the point’s obvious, but it’s always worth restating: The Republican Party national apparatus is beset by grifters. It almost seems to exist nowadays to enable its grifters. The Democrats used to be burdened by their own grifter class until about 2004. Maybe Howard Dean deserves much of the credit for freeing the Democrats of the grip of so many hapless consultants. Obama was able to build two highly functional campaigns in an environment partly cleansed of the grifter mentality.

  13. 13
    Keith says:

    They use the same devs who couldn’t spell “America” to code a massive data analysis tools? Wouldn’t have been wise to use glorified shareware authors for such a project.

  14. 14
    aimai says:

    That Hindrocket article and the commentary below it is a scream–almost literally a scream, like listening to someone jump off a building and count off the floors shouting “still looking good!!” just before they go splat.

    aimai

  15. 15
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Open source. Build it yourself.

    Mitt Romney, you didn’t build that.

  16. 16
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    smintheus:

    Maybe the point’s obvious, but it’s always worth restating: The Republican Party national apparatus is beset by grifters.

    They’re not grifters! They’re job creators!

    .

  17. 17
    Fax Paladin says:

    @smintheus: Hmm. I wonder if that accounts for the remarkably small number of establishment Democrats who had Obama’s back the first term — annoyed that he wasn’t using their pet grifters?

  18. 18
    gwangung says:

    Maybe the point’s obvious, but it’s always worth restating: The Republican Party national apparatus is beset by grifters. It almost seems to exist nowadays to enable its grifters. The Democrats used to be burdened by their own grifter class until about 2004. Maybe Howard Dean deserves much of the credit for freeing the Democrats of the grip of so many hapless consultants. Obama was able to build two highly functional campaigns in an environment partly cleansed of the grifter mentality.

    Or Obama is a good enough manager to cut through the crap and be focussed like a laser on functionality.

    We’ll see in 2016.

  19. 19
    Aet says:

    It shows a fundamentally different culture.

    Ds went with open-source, public tools, run by accountable experts. They hadn’t just invested in the system, they had invested _with_ the system. It’s the kind of culture you get from a community organizer, where you succeed or fail based on the collected efforts of all.

    Rs went with closed-source private tools run by someone getting a check when the work was ‘done’. All profit motive, no emotional investment. It’s the kind of culture you get from corporate office, where your success is yours alone and your failures are those of your underlings.

    I wish I had heard of ORCA six months ago. Its exactly the sort of software development train wreck I love to study.

  20. 20
    srv says:

    Lockheed’s incoming CEO could not keep his pants on either:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....74924.html

    Always two there are.

  21. 21
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    FlipYrWhig:

    Mitt Romney, you didn’t build that.

    Heh. It is gleefully ironic, though, that the man who complained about not getting enough credit for building that, screwed his own GOTV effort by not building that.

    .

  22. 22
    Redshift says:

    Heh, indeedy.

  23. 23
    horatius says:

    The ongoing Indian fascination with Barack Obama continues.

    Barack Obama has an Indian nickname – Bhau. (aka elder brother)

    http://www.facebook.com/photo......038;ref=nf

  24. 24
    srv says:

    The IT field has so many glibertarians.

    No you know just how untalented they are.

  25. 25
    Redshift says:

    @Aet: And yet they will continue to believe that the free market can solve all problems, because the profit motive is the only effective one.

  26. 26
    lol says:

    Most of the Obama campaign’s Houdini pollwatching system crashed almost instantly in 2008. They obviously learned alot from the experience.

    Even then though, they didn’t screw up basic organizing pieces like actually providing poll watching credentials to their pollwatchers.

  27. 27
    RaflW says:

    Proof for the one millionth time that Republicans suck at actually, y’know, doing anything. They only know how to skim, con, grift and mooch.

  28. 28
    MikeJ says:

    @dmsilev:

    At one point, the network connection to the Romney campaign’s headquarters went down because Internet provider Comcast reportedly thought the traffic was caused by a denial of service attack.

    I once had a marketing department go to a trade show and give out the address to the hpux machine sitting on my desk, unbeknownst to me or to the guys in the NOC. Hilarity ensured.

    This is the funniest error I’ve heard about in this debacle.

  29. 29
    Ash Can says:

    Once more this nation dodges a bullet. Last time it was by not putting the Gramps and Mooselini Show in charge, this time by not putting the Keystone Kops and their empty-headed chief in charge.

  30. 30
    Geoduck says:

    And again, the Romney campaign apparatus was the competent one out of all the GOP candidates in the primary.

  31. 31
    Suffern ACE says:

    @gwangung: God I hope they don’t come back. Every time I see Dick Morris or Pat Caddell on Fox, or Penn writes some stupid “I’m a Democrat. Obama needs to stop campaigning for the good of our country.” or Schoen goes off wasting money for “Americans Elect” I realize that at the very least, those losers aren’t being paid by democrats any longer to lose elections.

  32. 32
    MikeJ says:

    @srv:

    Lockheed’s incoming CEO could not keep his pants on either:

    But he’s going to get three and a half million dollars for not becoming CEO.

    Who do I have to fuck?

  33. 33
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    Ars Technica (via dmsilev @ 11):

    To build Orca, the Romney campaign turned to Microsoft …

    I guess Romney was impressed with Microsoft’s consistent track record of bug-free software like Windows Vista and successful first day roll-outs of innovative products like Microsoft Bob.

    .

  34. 34
    El Cid says:

    I think it takes a businessman like Mitt Romney in order to have the skills of leadership, planning, and organization to reform our entire educational system, greatly expand our military, and rewrite our tax code.

  35. 35
    RosiesDad says:

    Hubris defined.

    These people are so dumb it is scary how close they got to the White House.

  36. 36
    hilts says:

    OT

    Charles Darwin gets 4,000 write-in votes in Athens against douchebag Paul Broun
    h/t http://onlineathens.com/electi.....-rep-broun

  37. 37
    gwangung says:

    @Suffern ACE: New blood, new ideas…but take advice from folks like Axelrod and Plouffe, who seemed to know what the hell they;re doing.

  38. 38
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    RaflW:

    Proof for the one millionth time that Republicans suck at actually, y’know, doing anything.

    No, no, you don’t understand, you gayislamofascistcommielibtard!

    ORCA worked perfectly! It was intended to force our volunteers not to rely on government, but on their individual initiative and personal reponsibility!

    .

  39. 39
    Michael says:

    I worked for Obama in 2008, and we had something similar to Orca, called the Houdini project, and its text/phone-in function crashed within in hour of poll closures. HOWEVER, we had a few backup plans. (1) we had volunteers come in and enter the data into computers at the campaign HQ, which let us update our call and walk lists for a 2nd/3rd pass in the afternoon and evening without hitting doors of voters who already voted. And it worked; our lists were much cleaner, even if the process was bumpy. (2) We had people counting raw voter turnout by precinct, which gave us a pretty safe way to model the electorate and figure out where to send canvassers later on.

    So, I think that’s a pretty good illustration of the differences in how well the two campaigns were run. We had multiple backup plans, and we went to them, and they worked.

  40. 40
    Paul M says:

    @aimai: Boy, no fucking kidding. This is comedy gold (I love the “0” as the first letter of “Obama” — nice touch):

    Rick Turner · Top Commenter · Photographer at Rick turner
    The big lie from Axelrod and his mobsters that they have the great ground game is balderdash. Firstly, paid staffers galore vs Republican volunteers. Who is more persuasive?
    The release to media lap dogs that it is game over for 0bama with early turn out lead a lie, the Republican ground game is top notch.
    Momentum the past few days is Mitt’s and that will excite and turn out the ground game even more.
    Does a 0bama freeloader with his free phone who does not know hard work show up or a hard working conservative?

  41. 41
    JustMe says:

    @gogol’s wife: Mitt Romney all his life has gotten the benefit of the doubt because he’s tall and has nice hair. Alexrod isn’t my favorite media spokesperson, but the man is a campaign organizing genius. But he’s precisely the sort of genius that the Powerline folks sneer at before getting their asses kicked by him.

  42. 42
    Robin G. says:

    @dmsilev: I cackled like a hyena over that article. As a former IT girl, I almost — almost — felt bad for the people at the command center. But not quite.

    What an epic level fuck up. What was the pricetag of the system?

  43. 43
    Kent says:

    @Thoroughly Pizzled:

    Oh no….2008 was delicious. The outdoor convention speech in Denver. The energy of the primary. Sara Palin. 2008 was a once in a lifetime election. This one was much more businesslike.

  44. 44
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Maybe the point’s obvious, but it’s always worth restating: The Republican Party national apparatus is beset by grifters. It almost seems to exist nowadays to enable its grifters.

    In other words, ideologues. True believers — in money.
    When you worship money, the grift is a sacrament, a holy thing.

    Purity of heart is to wish one thing — being filthy rich.

  45. 45
    gwangung says:

    @Paul M: OMG. That is RICH.

  46. 46
    gwangung says:

    @Michael: Jeez. That sounds….competent.

  47. 47
    jharp says:

    “there is reason to believe that the Democrats’ efforts will be equaled, if not exceeded, by those of the Romney campaign. …The Romney campaign is not only well-funded, but is run by one of the best organizers and managers of his generation, the candidate himself.”

    Also at the Powerline link. Effing hilarious.

  48. 48
    PeakVT says:

    Remember this classic bit of Republican arrogance:

    “Democrats love to use that metric,” says a frontline GOP operative. “The Obama campaign is a byproduct of the president—big government.”

    I guess the big government approach can work. Who knew.

  49. 49
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @JGabriel: Reading The Fine Article it looks like MS was used to provide the server side of things, probably MS Server 2008 plus Hyper-V. Everything else was hand-rolled in just 7 months and they never beta-tested it before the election. They also don’t seem to have specified nearly enough server capability — a single mobile Web server for 30,000-odd users? Huh?

    In contrast the Obama team started coding eighteen months out and they ran at least two full-dress full-stress rehearsals a few weeks before the election which gave the dev team a chance to spot fatal bugs and also allowed the GOTV teams to play with the system and break it in inventive and illuminating ways.

    Both the Democratic and Republican parties need to realise that these GOTV tools can’t be left to individual campaigns to set up ad-hoc; in 2016 both parties will have primaries and will be working within the same sort of pressure timescale that was a major factor in the failure of ORCA. The smart thing to do is for the national party organisations to develop these tools and make them available to the candidates after they are chosen. How that would sit with the FEC and funding rules I don’t know though.

  50. 50
    El Cid says:

    @hilts: Yeah, well, Darwin might have done better if he hadn’t spent valuable campaign season time sailing around the Galapagos Islands just looking at birds and lizards and whatnot.

  51. 51
    eemom says:

    Romney Shellshocked By Loss

    I think this already has been FP’ed here, but please: can we have some more posts FPing it? Like every post between now and the end of time?

    Because I really, really, love this headline and article. No — as Woody Allen said, love is too weak a word. I luuufff them, luuuurv them, long to marry them, bear their babies, grow old with them, and, finally, die in their arms.

  52. 52
    Nerull says:

    The closed or open source backends used almost certainly had precisely nothing to do with the success or failures of the projects and the focus on them is a sign of someone who hasn’t the slightest idea what he is writing about. Shitty software ran on IIS or Azure will still be shitty if you move it over to Apache or Xen.

    WordPress is a great example of open source software that is a complete clusterfuck. It’s not Apache’s fault that wordpress sucks. It wouldn’t be better on another platform. PHP may be a pretty crappy language, but not everything written in it ends up like WP. WordPress sucks because WordPress sucks.

  53. 53

    […] the Romney development process, again, as reported by Ars Technica’s Sean Gallagher [h/t commenter dmislev]: To build Orca, the Romney campaign turned to Microsoft and an unnamed application consulting […]

  54. 54
    LanceThruster says:

    As the dust settles in the aftermath, it’s totally frightening to realize that a person demonstrating this much arrogance and incompetence could have quite conceivably won the election.

    Rather than a vetting process to weed out the unqualified, it instead seems to distill the worst characteristics in the highest concentration.

  55. 55
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Tom, as a fellow geek, let me add …

    November 5, 2012 at 5:22 PM EDT –
    Romney Campaign Enlists Help of ‘Killer Whale’ Project to Get Out the Vote

    Romney for President Communications Director Gail Gitcho proudly described it
    “At 5 o’clock when the exit polls come out, we won’t pay attention to that,” Gitcho said Monday. “We will have had much more scientific information just based on the political operation we have set up.”

    So, then early in the day when the sole tool your entire “political operation” is depending upon FAILS, the prospective leader of the free world and his team is all over that. They understand and…wait. What?

    “We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory,” said one senior adviser. “I don’t think there was one person who saw this coming.”
    They just couldn’t believe they had been so wrong. And maybe they weren’t: There was Karl Rove on Fox saying Ohio wasn’t settled, so campaign aides decided to wait.

    Like 2008, we not only got a President ready to do the job, we dodged another bullet.

    Gekko/Galt – EPIC FAIL

  56. 56
    Chris says:

    @PeakVT:

    I guess the big government approach can work. Who knew.

    I find it ironic that as much as Americans distrust “big government” when you phrase it like that, the thing that’s consistently cited year after year as the institution most trusted by the American people – the U.S. Armed Forces – are a Federal Government run bureaucracy and monopoly. Not a private corporation, not a religious organization, and certainly not one of those state or local government offices we should totally be returning the power to.

    Americans hate the word socialism, but God damn if they don’t love it when they see it.

  57. 57
    NotMax says:

    Shorter version: GIGO.

  58. 58
    Svensker says:

    Totally OT:

    Anybody have a connection to Josh Marshall? We’re getting virus notifications on 2 different computers when we try to go on TPM.

  59. 59
    Richard says:

    I’m guessing that the “the unnamed application consulting firm” was the type of loathsome GOP connected company that doles out hefty doses of incompetence and fraud with their products when payed from government contracts.

  60. 60
    mclaren says:

    Not buying it.

    Mitt Romney was trying to sell the American people a dog turd (the Bush economic and social policies) and you’re telling us that the problem was the point-of-sale system designed to handle the transactions broke down? That was the problem? That’s what you’re telling us?

    Um…no. The problem for Mitt Romney was that he was trying to sell the American people a dog turd.

    He was trying to get John Q. Public to buy 4 more years of tax cuts for the superrich and 4 more years of financial deregulation and 4 more years of massive military buildup and 4 more years of slashing social services for the poor as the solution to our post-Bush problems.

    Hint: those aren’t solutions, those are the problems.

  61. 61
    MaxxLange says:

    …hundreds of volunteers in Colorado and North Carolina couldn’t use either the Web-based or the voice-based Orca systems; it wasn’t until 6:00 PM on Election Day that the team running Orca admitted they had issued the wrong PIN codes and passwords to everyone in those states, and they reset them.

    Yeah that’s not really what to do

  62. 62
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Nerull: I’m not sure you read what I wrote carefully: the difference I highlight between the two approaches is the degree of direct vetting you can do when you choose either option 1, open source development in house, or option 2, turnkey products produced in a closed development process, to be delivered to an end user. Add the different time lines — and you have, I think, a pretty clear comparison.

  63. 63
    Aaron says:

    In fairness to republicons who don’t deserve it, Obama had four years perfecting the D’s system. Mitt had only how many months?
    I suppose the other side is that mitt has been running for pres for 7 years, didnt they do this shit before?

    Also, who gets to use this on the D side at the next election? will this be one of those, only the ones who are anointed by the local party get to use it and if you are running as an outsider D then you are screwed?

  64. 64
    Roger Moore says:

    if you build the tool and know the tool, and do so in an environoment that’s easy for others to inspect, critique, and improve, you get good software.

    And one of the key things is that you can’t put together a system and expect it to work perfectly the first time it’s tried. You have to test it as it’s being developed, ideally by actual users who can catch critical flaws before they’re baked too deeply into the system to be easily changed. If you need your system by election day, you need to have a testable version with some of the people who will be using it well before then. If the developer can’t do that, you need to scale back your requirements so they can deliver on time; on the big day, correct but reduced functionality beats full featured but buggy.

  65. 65
    El Cid says:

    The other problem is that if Republicans were to send out their volunteers and campaign staffers to meet with as many voters as the Obama campaign did, they would be as likely to recruit a voter as horribly insult and offend people.

    Really, this year, how do you see that going?

    Taking your average, enthusiastic, grassroots Republican and actually exposing the general public to them on a face-to-face basis.

    What makes anyone think that this would result in more, rather than fewer, Republican votes?

    Confronted with skeptics or people of all sorts of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, etc., how have we seen the last few iterations of exuberant grassroots Republicans reacting?

  66. 66
    jharp says:

    @Svensker:

    No problem for me. Josh came right up.

  67. 67
    Felonius Monk says:

    Whom [sic]* would you count on to organize anything, Mitt Romney or David Axelrod?

    It would be oh so satisfying to jam that question down up Mr. AssRocket’s missile silo!

  68. 68
    Roger Moore says:

    @Robert Sneddon:

    How that would sit with the FEC and funding rules I don’t know though.

    IIRC, the party isn’t allowed to gift the service to the candidates, but they are allowed to provide it for a reasonable price. As long as the party recoups its costs, they should be OK. I think something similar would work with OFA transferring their system to the Democratic Party; it’s fine as long as they are charging enough that it doesn’t count as an in-kind gift.

  69. 69
    mai naem says:

    Not to go all schadenfreude on Mittman and Lyin’ Ryan’ but didn’t they just get a massive heaping helping of a Baining, Ayn Randing and Da Free Market? Nobody held a gun to their heads to use stupid consultants with crappy products. Sheet, they shouldn’t delayed Liz Warren’s Consumer Commission and then screwed around with her nomination to head it. She may have been able to help them with getting screwed with a crappy consumer product. Furthermore, Pink Short man may have still had his Mass seat. I find it hilarious they used Microsoft, Microsoft the company of whose employees were one of the biggest funders of Obama. Should have gone to Oracle or the Sun Systems guy whos a wingnut. I just wonder how long before Microsoft gets blamed for sabotaging Mittman’s electoral prospects?

  70. 70
    Roger Moore says:

    @El Cid:

    Taking your average, enthusiastic, grassroots Republican and actually exposing the general public to them on a face-to-face basis.

    But that’s not what you’re supposed to be doing. You don’t send these people out to talk to whomever. You send them to do two things:

    1) Persuade people you’ve identified in advance as potentially reachable,

    2) Excite people who agree with you but may not vote.

    You aren’t sending them out to accost random people on the street and tell them about the evils of Kenyan Islamofascist Socialist Atheism.

  71. 71

    I would just like to point out that the Messina air punch right after introducing the re-elected POTUS is THE BEST THING EVAH!

    http://twitpic.com/bbre91

  72. 72
    Tony J says:

    Beware, Redstate Link, but talking of Republican failure and inevitable back-stabbing, it’s – really – worth getting out of the boat for this one. Wear waders, but do treat yourselves.

    Here’s a few tasters;

    “They say that the truth is the consultants essentially used the Romney campaign as a money making scheme, forcing employees to spin false data as truth in order to paint a rosy picture of a successful campaign as a form of job security.”

    and

    “Sources also said that arrogance played a big role, saying that the Romney campaign was a hostile battlefield of egos in which these consultants viewed any opposition to their world view as coming from an enemy. This apparently led to the ORCA program “receiving no stress test, no usage during super saturdays and no ability to have a Plan B or C when everything hit the fan. The brain trust of the Romney campaign was so arrogant that they refused to change strategy. It was clear in June were SOL,” said one email.”

    Second beware – I may have forgotten how to embed links. We will see.

  73. 73
    dmsilev says:

    More schadenfreude: RedState blames the debacle on a ‘Consultant Con Job’:

    So what caused the breakdown and why didn’t it get fixed in time? Well according to sources who worked closely with the program, the blame is at the feet of consultants.
    __
    Specifically Targeted Victory, FLS Connect, and The Stevens and Schriefer Group. While the Romney campaign did work with other consultants, they were apparently not part of the problem.
    __
    They say that the truth is the consultants essentially used the Romney campaign as a money making scheme, forcing employees to spin false data as truth in order to paint a rosy picture of a successful campaign as a form of job security.

    Slowly, oh so slowly, our wingnuts is learning.

    And the whole post is filled with oh-so-hilarious infighting and score settling. I like this:

    Stu Stevens of the Stevens and Schriefer Group was said to not be chasing poll numbers with the media buy strategy and appeared instead to be doing little more than “throwing darts at a dartboard.” At best using false numbers provided by ORCA; at worst milking the cash cow of the Romney campaign.

    Mmmm, sweet sweet wingnut tears.

  74. 74
    delosgatos says:

    @smintheus:

    Wouldn’t “Upon whom would you count…” be more correct?

    (Is a preposition something with which one should never end a clause?)

  75. 75
    dmsilev says:

    @Tony J: Great minds think alike.

    Really folks, go read the entire article. It’s hilarious.

  76. 76
    NotMax says:

    Just a passing observation re: Romney/Ryan’s in-house software.

                     They built that.

  77. 77
    PeakVT says:

    Guess which side had the best ROI among outside groups?

  78. 78
    Tony J says:

    @dmsilev:

    Don’t you just hate it when that happens? 8-)

  79. 79
    Roger Moore says:

    @dmsilev:

    Well according to sources who worked closely with the program, the blame is at the feet of consultants.

    Because the people who hired them had no responsibility to keep an eye on what they were doing and make sure they were competent. No siree Bob.

  80. 80
    MikeJ says:

    @Roger Moore:

    And one of the key things is that you can’t put together a system and expect it to work perfectly the first time it’s tried.

    “Plan to throw one away, because you’re going to.”

  81. 81
    Emma says:

    @Felonius Monk: Recent events already have.

  82. 82
    MikeJ says:

    @Robert Sneddon:

    Both the Democratic and Republican parties need to realise that these GOTV tools can’t be left to individual campaigns to set up ad-hoc

    The Democratic party *had* a system (actually they had at least two). Everybody who ever touched them hated them, and of course they weren’t as complete (or as modern) as Obama’s.

  83. 83
    chopper says:

    @jharp:

    yeah, that post is a hoot, innit? i’m surprised he hasn’t taken it down yet.

  84. 84
    Gwangung says:

    @MikeJ: which is what the Obama team seemed to have done in 2008, leading to the success it had in 2012.

  85. 85
    LanceThruster says:

    So…what have we learned today?

    The Rmoney campaign machine has all the sophistication of soap box derby racers who paint flames on their entries to make them “faster.”

  86. 86
    Yutsano says:

    @MikeJ: Personally I miss the days when voter contacts were sung in Viking saga.

  87. 87
    SatanicPanic says:

    Stop, please stop! All this glee at their pathetic failures is starting to upset my stomach.

  88. 88
    redshirt says:

    I have rolled out half a dozen huge internet based databases, and my FSM! The amount of time we spent trying to break it BEFORE we rolled it out could be measured in years of my life.

    That these clowns would put all their eggs in this basket? Perfect Republicans. Incompetent ideologues.

  89. 89
    GxB says:

    @Yutsano: Oh but they still are… Spam, direct mailers, spam, targeted phone banking, spam, spam, spam, canvassing and spam.

  90. 90
    Roger Moore says:

    @Gwangung:
    I think this ties in to Joel Spolsky’s rule that you should always work to improve the system you have rather than restarting from scratch. Even if the existing system is clunky and hard to develop for, it contains all the lessons you learned in the process of making it work. If you throw it away and start from a clean sheet, you’ll make most of the same mistakes again the second time. Now that the Democrats have a working system, they need to build on it rather than trying to go from scratch again.

  91. 91
    Yutsano says:

    @GxB: No baked beans? I call foul good sir!

  92. 92
    WarMunchkin says:

    Hm. As a programmer trainee, I’m actually interested in getting involved with and learning about Big Data projects. Anyone have any hints?

    My degree is in Physics, I work on solar cells and learn programming in my off-hours.

  93. 93
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Open source?

    But…but…that’s socia1ism!

  94. 94
    redshirt says:

    @WarMunchkin: You’ll come to love the data/code and hate the people using it. :)

  95. 95
    Roger Moore says:

    @Yutsano:

    No baked beans?

    Baked beans are off.

  96. 96
    GxB says:

    @Yutsano: Baked beans are off!

    eta: Goddamn it Moore! Don’t you go a new movie premier to go to or something…

  97. 97
    RareSanity says:

    The main problem is not even being smart enough, to at least hire people for your team, that at least know what a third party vendor is supposed to be delivering.

    It’s fine if you want to outsource, it’s fine if you want to use closed source, proprietary solutions….but you’d better damn well have someone on your team, that is technically competent enough to know exactly what the requirements for the project are, and if the third party is on track to deliver it.

    This is why MBA types are the bane of an engineer’s existence. They tend to think that just because a third party says that they can deliver something, it also means that they are actually capable of delivering it. They don’t possess the required expertise to make any substantive assessment of a vendor’s capability. Nor, can they assess the actual progress being made, along the way, or if the project has no hope of being completed.

    It is only when the business types accept that the technical types are just as important to business success, in the information age. Until then, they will continue to experience spectacular failures at the hands of high-tech, snake oil salesmen.

  98. 98
    Darkrose says:

    @JGabriel: I’m about ready to tell the seccessionists, “By all means, let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.” Make them pay to relocate anyone who doesn’t want to go, and go with your God.

  99. 99
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Because the people who hired them had no responsibility to keep an eye on what they were doing and make sure they were competent. No siree Bob.

    Consultants exist to take the blame for fuckups. That’s their role…to provide CYA for the CEO and his cronies.

    Mitt Romney…incompetent sack of shit.

  100. 100
    Ruckus says:

    @Redshift:
    Had a discussion once with a employee who stated that the only motivator was money. Told him that off the top of my head I can think of one major group of people for whom money is not the major motivator. The Marines. This may have changed in the last few years but 45 yrs ago everyone was considered an infantryman first and some sort of specialist if any second. They were generally the first on shore, their casualty rates were high and they made the same shit money that I made as a sailor. They sure weren’t fighting and dying for the money.

  101. 101
    redshirt says:

    I think we should all use some variation of “If you don’t love America, then move to X” with our Wingnut acquaintances. My “X” will be Canada, as is traditional, but you could choose whatever country you like!

  102. 102
    magurakurin says:

    @delosgatos: Indeed, that is a difficult point in English grammar. Is the “on” in “count on” a preposition or a particle? Phrasal verbs are a sticky widget. Some say that if the verb and particle can’t be separated then it is clearly of verb and a prepostiton. We count on him not We count him on. But “run up” as in, We ran up the bill, can be, We ran the bill up, or, We ran it up. But, We ran up the mountain, well, that’s a different animal.

    Still, “count on” is pretty much a phrasal verb since it’s meaning is clearly idiomatic. So, others say that there are in fact two kinds of phrasal verbs. The rule that a sentence can never end in a preposition is hard to maintain. As Winston Churchill is supposed to have most famously said in response, “That is the sort of nonsense up with I will not put.”

    All of this is most likely why the word “whom” is pretty much destined for the dustbin of language. We don’t need it anyway.

  103. 103
    Rosie Outlook says:

    I never did have much faith in computers (she said on the Internet). Seriously, I do feel many people are over-reliant on them. To include the Romney campaign, evidently.

  104. 104
    gelfling545 says:

    @El Cid: Or if he weren’t, you know, dead and all, which is not to say he would not be an improvement over the other candidate.

  105. 105
    Yutsano says:

    @Ruckus: Nope. Dawgs do it for the women. Or the men. :)

  106. 106
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @RareSanity:

    It is only when the business types, accept that the technical types are just as important to business success, in the information age,

    Unpossible. No one is as smart as an MBA. If you’re not an MBA, you’re shit. It’s that simple.

  107. 107
    lawnorder says:

    @Michael: So, I think that’s a pretty good illustration of the differences in how well the two campaigns were run. We had multiple backup plans, and we went to them, and they worked.

    GW Bush’s School of Government. Baghdad was invaded with no backup plan either. To have a backup plan would be to show you doubted success..

    From Seymour Hersh’s Stovepipes article

    There was also a change in procedure at the Pentagon under Paul Wolfowitz… In the early summer of 2001, a career official assigned to a Pentagon planning office undertook a routine evaluation of the assumption, .. that the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group headed by Ahmad Chalabi, could play a major role in a coup d tat to oust Saddam Hussein.. ..The official said, It was a what could go wrong study. What if it turns out that Ahmad Chalabi is not so popular? What s Plan B if… The people in the policy offices didn t seem to care. When the official asked about the analysis, he was told by a colleague that the new Pentagon leadership wanted to focus not on what could go wrong but on what would go right. He was told that the study’s exploration of options amounted to planning for failure

  108. 108
    JGabriel says:

    @Darkrose:

    I’m about ready to tell the seccessionists, “By all means, let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.”

    I think I like another, Skyrim-based, idea of yours better.

    .

  109. 109
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Consultants exist to take the blame for fuckups. That’s their role…to provide CYA for the CEO and his cronies.

    I think there’s more than one role for consultants. Taking the blame for fuckups (or just for the unpleasant side of a manager’s responsibilities, like layoffs) is definitely one. In my area, it seems as if a big job of consultants is to pretend they’re the source of plans that actually come from management, in the vain hope that their employees will accept them. I think of it as idea laundering.

  110. 110
    RareSanity says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I am reminded of this “fact” daily.

    It’s funny how the recent uptick in hearing “I told you so”, over recent years, has done nothing to dispel this particular myth.

  111. 111
    Maude says:

    Romney has always had things done for him. He has no experience in doing practical stuff. He doesn’t know anything. This is why he was such a failure in more ways than one.

  112. 112
    Roger Moore says:

    @Ruckus:
    Most academics aren’t in it for the money either. I’m sure I could boost my salary a lot by going into industry, but I like the intellectual freedom of my job too much to go somewhere I’d just be a brain for hire. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. I think that’s a big part of the reason the academy is so resistant to, and unpopular with, conservatives. They have a huge problem with any group that puts curiosity and intellectual freedom over money.

  113. 113
  114. 114
    MikeJ says:

    @WarMunchkin:

    Hm. As a programmer trainee, I’m actually interested in getting involved with and learning about Big Data projects. Anyone have any hints?

    Everything’s map/reduce these days so you aren’t actually dealing with big data in the nodes. Split the problem up, feed it to the farm, await the results.

    You can get a feel for big data problems with a book like like Hadoop in Practice, and of course you can install hadoop on one machine instead of one hundred.

  115. 115

    The Ars piece is fascinating, and the most fascinating thing it discusses is the lack of support the Rmoney team gave their campaign volunteers. Perfunctory “training” (which apparently consisted of slick marketing-style videos rather than any useful information), lack of hands-on training or even a willingness to trust users with advance knowledge of the app, unwillingness to answer questions, expecting users to happily print 60+ pages of PDF files the night before the election, expecting non-computer-literate volunteers to even know how to do that…

    It really starts to look as if Rmoney and team had no understanding or appreciation for workers, or the human element…funny thing that, coming from a guy whose core competence is designating huge blocks of workers expendable so he can fire them in the process of enriching himself.

    …also gibes nicely with making his staffers pay for their own cab rides home after defeat. Nothing but contempt for the helpers from these guys.

  116. 116
    BarbCat says:

    @dmsilev:
    Thanks for the delicious compilation. This part, “…the consultants essentially used the Romney campaign as a money making scheme”. Oh irony, I love you so hard.

  117. 117

    first comment on Commentary piece is a classic: “Romney suppressed his own vote. Splendid, beautiful irony.”

  118. 118

    How many people think that the people cutting the checks actually checked the bills that the “consultants” were sending in to the campaign. I can see it now “Statement ending 10/31/12, creation of GOTV software and implementation of such = 160 hours x 4 consultants @ $300 per hour per consultant total amount due $192,000” these rubes were just ripe for the picking.

  119. 119
    redshirt says:

    Here’s some assumptions:

    The participants of “Project Orca” were some of the most die-hard Republican supporters.

    They were all royally screwed by the incompetence of the Romney campaign.

    Some small percentage of these die-hards will renounce Winguttia as a result of this experience.

    Losing die-hards is how a brand dies.

  120. 120
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @lawnorder:

    the new Pentagon leadership wanted to focus not on what could go wrong but on what would go right. He was told that the study’s exploration of options amounted to planning for failure

    This is totally contrary to everything I was taught as a military staff officer.

    Fucking neocon dilettantes.

  121. 121
    redshirt says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Heh. With all this Orca talk, your example made me think of a whale shark (the main grifter) with a bunch of ramora eels (the sub grifters) attached to him, everyone living in wondrous synergy.

  122. 122
  123. 123
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @dmsilev:

    The thing here is, the morons at RedState are among the marks, and they don’t even realize it.

    The entire thing is a con. Every last bit of it. “Movement conservatism” itself is a con. Guys like Nordquist, Viguire, and Reed are getting richer on it, and milking the masses like cows.

    These people are natural serfs. They’re being treated as such by their “leaders”.

  124. 124
    kay says:

    @lawnorder:

    The Romney campaign told the volunteers to “project confidence” on election day when the system didn’t work. They didn’t tell them to improvise, they didn’t help them, they told them to swagger around as if everything was going GREAT!

    It’s just such a weird way to look at the world. It’s child-like. “No one will ever find out!”

  125. 125
    Ruckus says:

    @Roger Moore:
    They have a problem with anyone that values anything above money.

  126. 126
    RareSanity says:

    @Ruckus:

    You just summed it up perfectly…

  127. 127
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @Tony J:

    They say that the truth is the consultants essentially used the Romney campaign as a money making scheme . . .

    Jesus. The GOP’s entire philosophy is that *everything* should be used as a money making scheme. What the fuck did they think was going to happen?

  128. 128
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @Aaron: Yes, but if Mitt had studied the enemy, as he should have, wouldn’t he have known the Obama team had problems with their version of Orca, and thus been alerted to potential problems in his own version?

  129. 129
    Ecks says:

    @Tony J: Comments at that RedState article are just gold. Pure comedy gold. I had to pause half way to make more popcorn. If it had been any longer I would have had to make a grocery run to REALLY stock up.

  130. 130
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @PeakVT:

    Planned Parenthood kicks ass!

    On the other side, the NRA is fail, fail, FAIL!

  131. 131
    Baud says:

    @kay:

    The Romney campaign told the volunteers to “project confidence” on election day

    Generally, not bad advice, but confidence is not a substitute for infrastructure.

  132. 132
    NotMax says:

    @magurakurin

    All of this is most likely why the word “whom” is pretty much destined for the dustbin of language. We don’t need it anyway.

    For Who the Bell Tolls and Who Gods Destroy just don’t project the same heft.

  133. 133
    RSA says:

    @Roger Moore:

    And one of the key things is that you can’t put together a system and expect it to work perfectly the first time it’s tried. You have to test it as it’s being developed, ideally by actual users who can catch critical flaws before they’re baked too deeply into the system to be easily changed…

    Amen. And this has been understood for over 25 years.* Then again, Romney’s crew didn’t seem to understand statistics either.

    * John D. Gould and Clayton Lewis (1985). Designing for usability: key principles and what designers think. Communications of the ACM 28 (3), 300-311.

  134. 134
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And at the worst time.

  135. 135
    Roger Moore says:

    @redshirt:

    Some small percentage of these die-hards will renounce Winguttia as a result of this experience.

    I think this is overly optimistic. The diehards will double down on Wingnuttia and claim this just proves that Romney isn’t a True Conservative(TM). Conservatism can never fail, only be failed.

  136. 136
    bemused says:

    Everything the GOP touches turns to crap although they are very proficient at lining their own pockets.

    Booman “As Goes California….” links to Meyerson’s piece “The Future of the White Man’s Party”. California’s Republican party is basically irrelevant with Dems’ supermajorities. They saw it coming and couldn’t or wouldn’t stop their own downfall. I think there’s good odds this is going to be repeated across the country.

  137. 137
    scav says:

    That whole “boss you hated” vibe is just turning out to be more and more prescient.

  138. 138
    WarMunchkin says:

    @MikeJ: Thanks for the tip =)

  139. 139
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ruckus:

    Murphy…he rules our world.

  140. 140
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @dmsilev: I got out of the boat for the first time ever and checked out that Redstate link.

    Sweet, sweet schadenfruede. I need a cigarette.

  141. 141
    Baud says:

    @Ruckus:

    Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And at the worst time.

    The WordPress motto.

  142. 142
    redshirt says:

    @Roger Moore: “A small percentage?” 5, 10% I mean, put yourself in one of their shoes. You’re die-hard – you’ve put your money into it, and your willing to put your time into it. You believe! And then you just get screwed by the very people you want to help, despite your every effort to workaround it. That’s gotta upset a few Wingnut apple carts, especially in comparison to the smooth workings of Obama 2012.

    Maybe just 10 people? But you win 10 people and with them you can win a hundred. With that hundred, a thousand, and so on and such, also too.

  143. 143
    Ecks says:

    @Baud:

    The WordPress motto M.O.

    FTFY

  144. 144
    gex says:

    @J. Michael Neal: This. The thing I hate most about business majors is they aren’t interested in doing anything or making anything. No interest in providing something that society needs. All they know how to do is spreadsheet manage every penny out of workers’ pockets.

  145. 145
    Roger Moore says:

    @Rosie Outlook:

    Yes, but if Mitt had studied the enemy, as he should have, wouldn’t he have known the Obama team had problems with their version of Orca, and thus been alerted to potential problems in his own version?

    No, he’d just wind up even more overconfident than usual, convinced that Obama had problems that could never happen to MOTU Mitt and The Best Consultants Money Can Buy(R).

    It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
    __
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War

  146. 146
    Huggy Bear says:

    The whole thing played out like Waikiki Hockey. Start to finish.

  147. 147
    Stooleo says:

    So I saw this post from one of my more wingnut Facebook friends and I was wondering if anyone in the BJ community had heard this line as well.

    well he said, generally speaking, that he would raise the Taxes on the rich. well he’s talking about Global standards, even the poor in the United States are considered rich in Global standards. There you have it! His sneaky ass way to tax the Hell out of ALL of us! so sad too many people dont read the small print and believe his deceiving, lying, corrupt JOKE job of Presidency! Im still pissed and frankly ….scared!

    I have never heard of this global standard thing and of course it is total BS but I’m wondering if this will become some sort of winger meme. Has anyone else seen this?

  148. 148
    lawnorder says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Oh you will hate this old classic then :p

    Seymour Hersh | The Stovepipe

    goes well with a chaser of Fallows

    Blind Into Baghdad

    Whenever you feel Obama is not doing enough… read those 2 old articles about the new republicans he defeated.

    Nate Silver and Math wasn’t the only thing GOP repudiated in the past decade. They are basically unlearning all that hard sciency, study and strategy thingies.

    With hilarious results :D

  149. 149
    Roger Moore says:

    @Baud:

    confidence is not a substitute for infrastructure.

    Confidence is not a substitute for competence. A lesson the Republicans would do well to learn.

  150. 150
    MikeJ says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    This is totally contrary to everything I was taught as a military staff officer.

    Ooo, ooo, I’ve got another one for you. The favourite saying of fuckups the world round, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

    I was never in the military, but I would guess that even among people who believe that saying, they don’t take it to mean that you just shouldn’t bother planning.

  151. 151
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @redshirt: Reminds me of a railroad man I met in a previous career, Chicago commuter lines:

    “We could run a really good railroad here if it weren’t for all of these passengers.”

    Said tongue-in-cheek of course, but with feeling.

  152. 152
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    You know, the Republicans really need to play an MMO, to get an appreciation for what a massive software project is like, and what goes into making it stable and as bulletproof as it can be made.

    But they won’t, because it’s childish and freaky to do so.

    Lok’tar Ogar, assholes!

  153. 153
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Hell Murphy is my invisible, identical twin brother. Fucker sits on my shoulder all day looking for ways to fuck with me.

  154. 154
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @Baud:

    Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And at the worst every conceivable time.

    The WordPress motto.

    More accurate.

  155. 155
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MikeJ:

    As one of my battalion commanders once commented to a company commander reporting a fuckup during a field training exercise, having a bad plan is much better than having no plan at all.

  156. 156
    NotMax says:

    @Stooleo

    Always someone (not you, the blockquoted one) eager to grab on to a concrete depleted uranium life preserver.

  157. 157
    lawnorder says:

    @kay:

    They are toddlers.. All of them!!

  158. 158
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Roger Moore:

    [Conservatives] have a huge problem with any group that puts curiosity and intellectual freedom over money.

    Then why are so many of my fellow engineers conservatives? FSM knows we aren’t in it for the money, we’re just glorified semi-intelligent wage slaves.

  159. 159
    bemused says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    One said Romney/Ryan were LIED to, iow, victims. No questioning how a brilliant business man and an economic guru got conned so easily.

  160. 160
    redshirt says:

    @Stooleo: That’s fairly clever for a Wingut. Cuz yeah, sure, compare the poorest American to the poorest Ethiopian, and damn! American poor haz it so very good.

    It’s a completely ludicrous example, of course, but when did that stop a Wingnut?

  161. 161
    NotMax says:

    But, but – they had binders full of coding.

  162. 162
    kay says:

    @Baud:

    I think that’s why they crashed so hard. No one was straight with them. Republicans here were 100% confident of victory WELL before the 1st debate and the “unskewing polls” nonsense. I think I heard “Obama is toast” 10 times. They were all telling me “no President gets re-elected with 8% unemployment” which is just… beside the point to me. It doesn’t really mean anything. I don’t know what I was supposed to do with that. Start quietly weeping? Run away? It was just all bluster and CERTITUDE.

  163. 163
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Rosie Outlook:

    Yes, but if Mitt had studied the enemy, as he should have, wouldn’t he have known the Obama team had problems with their version of Orca, and thus been alerted to potential problems in his own version?

    Wingnut ‘logic’: Sure, those people might’ve had problems with their crappy little Democrat system, but our volunteers will be implementing an inherently much more wonderful system, as clearly proven by the fact that it cost a lot more money and was sold to us by good-looking consultants in high-priced suits!

  164. 164
    Anoniminous says:

    @NotMax:

    Win

  165. 165
    gex says:

    @redshirt: Now if those poor Americans would only live someplace where the cost of living was similar to the third world, the idiot might have a point.

    Of course, give the GOP enough time and we will have a bifurcated economy, and there could be third world standards for 90% of us.

  166. 166
    Baud says:

    @kay:

    I don’t know what I was supposed to do with that. Start quietly weeping? Run away?

    That’s the same reason I stopped paying attention to polls and pundits a long time ago.

  167. 167
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Furthermore, we can attribute the Obama team’s problems, without the slightest hesitation, to melanin overages. It’s really rather simple.

  168. 168
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @kay:

    Plus, UNLIMITED CORPORATE CASH! Take it to the bank, libs! Get used to seeing “President-elect Romney”!

  169. 169
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    …the difference I highlight between the two approaches is the degree of direct vetting you can do when you choose either option 1, open source development in house, or option 2, turnkey products produced in a closed development process, to be delivered to an end user.

    My impression from the articles (and the CV of Rayid Ghani, the lead for the analytics) is that a big part of the story here is an effective and flexible data mining, modeling (and simulation) and perhaps machine learning (other than the data mining) effort. Though the good tools/platforms in these areas are open source or derived from open source.

  170. 170
    MaxxLange says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: A bad plan is better than no plan is an old piece of chess folklore. It was probably said by the very quotable Tarrasch, who also said “the threat is stronger than its execution”, which is a very interesting kind of Sun Tzu like idea.

    I believe, sadly, that there exist plans so bad that no plan would, in fact, be better.

  171. 171
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Emma: You are right. I had not thought of it that way. However, he seems a little too arrogant and self-serving to realize it.

  172. 172
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MikeJ:

    It means that you’d better have plans B, C, and D on hot standby, and plans E, F, and G in process.

    I was the G1 plans officer for an infantry division. This meant that my colleague, the G1 operations officer, was concerned with executing plan A, B, C, and D (that I had worked with him on) while I was concentrating on plans E, F, and G.

    Three years after I left that job, some of my plans templates were still being used by the division staff, word for word.

  173. 173
    mainmati says:

    Mitt Romney ran for president for SIX YEARS, folks and his operation not to mention himself was incompetent, politically deaf and deep into the right-wing echo chamber at the end of the race. ORCA was symptomatic of a larger system-wide failure that was above all a failure of the candidate (and his choices for staffing and strategy and the right wing media).

    We have heard a lot about how Romney had to get more money instead of campaigning in May-June. The overwhelming majority of his funding came from a tiny group of billionaires. That should have been an immediate indication of a lack of true commitment among the wider populace. Also, the ground game was poor, reportedly.

    So, the fail of ORCA is really just more symptomatic of a wider systemic failure than anything decisive.

  174. 174
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    This is totally contrary to everything I was taught as a military staff officer.

    It’s not even conservative. Conservative is having a plan B, and a plan C, or better, a fully worked tree. I’m not in any way military; what were you taught?

  175. 175
    Anoniminous says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Two words: General Pickett.

  176. 176
    kay says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I can report they’re recovering today.

    They want to run John Kasich in 2016. He’ll be in his 2nd term as governor if all goes as planned.

    I don’t even talk anymore. I just let them talk. They tell me HOW IT’S GONNA BE.

  177. 177
    gwangung says:

    It means that you’d better have plans B, C, and D on hot standby, and plans E, F, and G in process.

    Does that make me a liberal if I think, “Duh.”?

  178. 178
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @dmsilev:

    Like others, I’m struck by the denial in the comments there about the very nature of their movement. For example, claiming that the GOP is the party of logic and reason.

    Right. Sure.

  179. 179
    eemom says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Plus, UNLIMITED CORPORATE CASH! Take it to the bank, libs! Get used to seeing “President-elect Romney”!

    It’s…..hard to believe we’ll…..never see it again. [sniff]

  180. 180
    gex says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: The Romney campaign as victim is a hoot too. So you want him to run the country when he can’t even run his campaign?

    I’ve had far too much of this arrangement where the guys who run things make the big bucks because they have a lot of responsibility, who then get to claim they had no idea what was going on when things went to shit. Graham Spanier, Ken Lay, etc. etc.

    At some point, people need to realize that the top dog claiming he’s not to blame because he had no idea what was going on is an admission of neglecting to do their job.

  181. 181
    redshirt says:

    @gwangung: No doubt. I sometimes go to backup plan Z or even… AA. Sometimes you can have too many contingency plans, though!

  182. 182
    Ferd of the Nort says:

    Complexity breeds complications.

    My experience using a database system created by consultants that works with 3 very different business centres, doing more than 3 critical tasks with significant legal ramifications.

    We wail about the fail and fantasize of electromagnets and dynamite.

    Time critical, must be able to work in the field, synchronizing to allow updates of the field data, often over satellite data connections (bankshot of the moon really kills your ping times – 2000 millisecond latency), legally enforceable documents that have to be produced in a time-sensitive manner. That is just my section.

    Usually fails. They took a failed database system and simply based the architecture on that failed system.

  183. 183
    Mike G says:

    The system had never been stress tested and couldn’t handle the crush of traffic all at once. Thousands of man-hours went into designing and implementing a program that was useful on one day and one day only, and on that day, it crashed. My source familiar with the campaign described it this way, “It was a giant [mess] because a political operative sold a broken product with no support or backup plan…”

    I am so not surprised by this. Corporate America is stuffed with shallow Romney/GW Bush types, full of arrogance and ignorance; who think making snap decisions, doing no real research and “going with their gut” makes them look powerful and awesome. Buying crap from slick-talkers because they are cronies or because they “look sharp” and project such certainty when giving their spiel, which to the authoritarian is perceived as “strength”. And never get the opinion of those dirty hippies in IT who actually make everything work — if they were so smart, they’d be rich execu-dicks like him; they’d never fit in at his country club.

  184. 184
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    Basically, you’ve present several alternative plans, with a set of assumptions for each, to the commander for his consideration.

    Then, you wargame out variants on these plans (instead of a main thrust here, you weigh the wing more heavily, etc.)

    On defensive plans, you have to make assumptions (what would I do in this situation on the offensive?) and state them out in the open. Will the enemy come right down this obvious valley, hi diddle diddle, or will the movement you assume is a feint be the actual main attack? How do you reallocate your forces to do that? Then you make movement plans (battalion A falls back to here, battalion B moves over there).

    This process is reiterated at every echelon, based on what the higher headquarters plans for them to do.

    You have to come up with contingencies to react to, and make plans (which may never be implemented, but might be…) to react to a dynamic situation.

    I’ve read that one of the flaws in the MBA mindset is that they’re trained on fixed situations, not dynamic ones, so when they go out into the real world they make assumptions that are fixed in nature. They can’t handle the fluidity of the actual marketplace, where multiple variables are moving around, not just one, which is how they seem to be trained.

    The military assumes that all hell is breaking loose, and you need to have plans in place to deal with it.

  185. 185
    PreservedKillick says:

    First of all, I have no doubt these guys are going to blame ORCA, but if you look at the margins (i.e., Romney could have taken Ohio, Florida, NC and VA and *still* lost), it probably didn’t make a meaningful difference.

    That said, the ORCA thing, speaking as a techy, stinks of an outsourced (Ahem.) project which wasn’t overseen correctly, built on a tech stack that was just stupid.

    So they failed.

    Thank your lucky stars that these fucknuts aren’t running our country. Then thank them again. They ooze incompetence.

  186. 186
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    I had to climb out of the wingnut hot tub of tears that I’ve been luxuriously basking in since the election (did you know that heated infighting combining with tears of a devastating loss make for a heated bath suitable for a progressive to bask in?) to say that Redstate has erupted into Shitslinger Central on the right. Banning, management insults, intolerance and comment deletion will continue until morale improves!

    Or else!

    Some of the comments are fucking hilarious… OK, most of them are hilarious. Batshit crazy doesn’t even begin to describe it. One idiot is trolling there about how Mexicans, I mean Amerindians, are too stupid to change their corrupt government in Mexico and thus this makes them the perfect Democrat party member. This idiot is couching his racism in wordy descriptions that sound acceptable to the members there probably because the long words he’s using are confusing them in to thinking that he’s saying something substantive.

    Here’s another idiot thinking he’s found one of the problems with getting women to understand that abortion, I mean MURDER!, is evil:

    Every single one of the women’s magazines have a leftist agenda. Every one of the magazines on the Right is nothing but politics…politics…politics..
     
    So why is it that there is no conservative counterpart to Glamour that offers a healthy dose of CONSERVATIVE politics along with tips on makeup and relationships?

    Just fucking WOW. If you want to bask in fucking stupid that makes you feel like a genius in comparison then be sure to hit Redstate!

  187. 187
    Darkrose says:

    @JGabriel: Oh, in Skyrim? Line em all up and let out a couple of Unrelenting Force shouts. Bowling for wingnuts.

  188. 188
    PurpleGirl says:

    @JGabriel:

    BOB. I remember seeing it on a machine at a kiosk at CompUSA. I played around with it for maybe ten minutes then went off to find the friend I was with and brought him back to the kiosk. He looked at it briefly and walked away. (He was working on operating systems for IBM at the time.) We basically joked about it on the way home. It didn’t last very long. (Belinda Gates was one of the designers of BOB.)

  189. 189
    Tonal Crow says:

    The Romney campaign are the same kind of morons who tell us that electronic voting is perfectly safe and secure.

  190. 190
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @WarMunchkin: Three keys to handling Big Data: Volume, Velocity, Variety.

  191. 191
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @PeakVT: Planned Parenthood.

  192. 192
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    …the MBA mindset is that they’re trained on fixed situations, not dynamic ones…
    One of the biggest mistake they do is to figure that profits only come when you cut costs. And what is one of the largest costs(also not a totally fixed cost)? Employees. Both wages and benefits. Cut those costs and Profit!
    Do I need to explain what happens to output, both quantity and quality? I didn’t think so.

  193. 193
    HelpThe99ers says:

    192 comments in, about a failed IT system that Microsoft helped produce, and no one’s come up with the Clippy reference yet:

    “It looks like you’re running for President. Would you like help with that?”

  194. 194
    Nutella says:

    From Ars Technica’s Orca article:

    The bitter irony of this entire endeavor was that a supposedly small government candidate gutted the local structure of [get out the vote] efforts in favor of a centralized, faceless organization in a far off place (in this case, their Boston headquarters). Wrap your head around that.

  195. 195
    trollhattan says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:
    Have decided to go all in and brine my Thanksgiving turkey in lacrimal secretion d’Wingnut. It’s going to be soooo tender.

  196. 196

    […] campaigning and governing are different in some fundamental ways. But Project Orca seems to have been to the data-driven Obama outreach and GOTV effort roughly as the handling of […]

  197. 197
    Danack says:

    This Joel Spolsky article is probably the most relevant one possible.

    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/.....00007.html

    In Defense of Not-Invented-Here Syndrome

    The Not-Invented-Here Syndrome is considered a classic management pathology, in which a team refuses to use a technology that they didn’t create themselves. People with NIH syndrome are obviously just being petty, refusing to do what’s in the best interest of the overall organization because they can’t find a way to take credit. (Right?) The Boring Business History Section at your local megabookstore is rife with stories about stupid teams that spend millions of dollars and twelve years building something they could have bought at Egghead for $9.99. And everybody who has paid any attention whatsoever to three decades of progress in computer programming knows that Reuse is the Holy Grail of all modern programming systems.

    If you outsource fulfillment, and your fulfillment partner has a different idea about what constitutes prompt delivery, your customers are not going to be happy, and there’s nothing you can do about it, because it took 3 months to find a fulfillment partner in the first place, and in fact, you won’t even know that your customers are unhappy, because they can’t talk to you, because you’ve set up an outsourced customer service center with the explicit aim of not listening to your own customers. That e-commerce engine you bought? There’s no way it’s going to be as flexible as what Amazon does with obidos, which they wrote themselves. (And if it is, then Amazon has no advantage over their competitors who bought the same thing). And no off-the-shelf web server is going to be as blazingly fast as what Google does with their hand-coded, hand-optimized server.

    The best advice I can offer:

    If it’s a core business function — do it yourself, no matter what.

    Pick your core business competencies and goals, and do those in house. If you’re a software company, writing excellent code is how you’re going to succeed. Go ahead and outsource the company cafeteria and the CD-ROM duplication. If you’re a pharmaceutical company, write software for drug research, but don’t write your own accounting package. If you’re a web accounting service, write your own accounting package, but don’t try to create your own magazine ads. If you have customers, never outsource customer service.

    If you’re developing a computer game where the plot is your competitive advantage, it’s OK to use a third party 3D library. But if cool 3D effects are going to be your distinguishing feature, you had better roll your own.

    The only exception to this rule, I suspect, is if your own people are more incompetent than everyone else, so whenever you try to do anything in house, it’s botched up. Yes, there are plenty of places like this. If you’re in one of them, I can’t help you.

  198. 198
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @trollhattan:

    I’ll swim in it but hell if I’m going to ingest it! I hear that it also makes a good substitute for toilet water.

    The toilet water you flush, not wear.

  199. 199
    Bart says:

    @Nerull: Exactly. I’ve seen solids apps that were built on flimsy software and crap apps that were built on solid platforms. It’s the resulting code that is the biggest factor. Hence StackOverflow runs on a couple of machines without a hitch whereas other websites require a gazillion mirror servers all over the world and still barely stay up.

    Perhaps the Obama folks used open source software, but that doesn’t mean THEIR code was open. They had just as much chance of failure, except they worked on it longer, did multiple real world tests, and did a lot of stuff in-house.

    Romney’s idiots outsourced it to a consultancy firm who most likely outsourced it to India, couldn’t be arsed to really test it before go-live, and of course did not have a fallback plan in place nor support, because those arrogant aholes assumed it wouldn’t fail. Unbelievable.

    And before someone gets upset about “outsourced it to India”: I have to work with those guys regularly, and by jove they are an incompetent bunch. The genius bosses we (= the team I’m in) have recently outsourced one of our divisions to India, which means there’s now TEN people doing the work that used to be done by THREE — and actually we’ve mostly stopped asking them to do what they’re supposed to do and found ways to do it ourselves because a) it took those guys DAYS what used to be done in MINUTES and b) half the time they couldn’t do it anyway without us guiding them through or they completely botched it.

  200. 200

    @Danack: Cool post, and great advice!

    Years ago, when I was a computer journalist, I interviewed Michael Cowpland, founder of Corel. He built the company from $10MM to around $250MM in a little over a decade. I asked how he did it, and I never forgot his answer, “We focused relentlessly on our core value add.” In his case it was the ability to do vector graphics, esp. on Windows. (He wound up on the stage with Gates during the Windows 3.1 premiere.)

    The other thing I remember about him is that he had a smallish office with glass walls right on the same floor as many of his workers. He could see them, and they could see him. He was accessible and knew everything that was going on.

    Of course, he was an honest-to-gosh, self-made entrepreneur, not a spoiled, entitled rich kid like Romney who was handed everything.

  201. 201
    sfHeath says:

    If I were religious, I’d call it karma: the only voter-suppression that actually made a difference was the Republicans’ own GOTV operation. Now I know why the election wasn’t close enough for them to steal; their own incompetence. I’ll sleep easier at night.

  202. 202
  203. 203
    stormhit says:

    @HelpThe99ers:

    Presumably, that’s because people know what they’re talking about and are aware that MS didn’t produce anything here, they were just using MS’s cloud server services. Which doesn’t sound like was at all the issue.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] campaigning and governing are different in some fundamental ways. But Project Orca seems to have been to the data-driven Obama outreach and GOTV effort roughly as the handling of […]

  2. […] the Romney development process, again, as reported by Ars Technica’s Sean Gallagher [h/t commenter dmislev]: To build Orca, the Romney campaign turned to Microsoft and an unnamed application consulting […]

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