GIGO in the OODA loop

Brad Delong has a good precis on how a functional political system performs quality control on its information and decision system:

(1) Loss of position, (2) loss of informal influence, (3) loss of cushy life, (4) loss of liberty, and (5) loss of life–those are the five forfeits that can be imposed on the losers in any game of high politics. Systems that impose only (1) and (2) tend to cause substantially fewer human and policy disasters than systems that impose (4) and (5).

As Khrushchev once said, of all his achievements the one that he was proudest of was that starting in his reign the losers in the game of Soviet politics were no longer shot or sent to the concentration camps–instead, they were sent off to manage some small-town factory somewhere.

This is why I want to procreate a good mischief on any Cheney family member who is running for office.  They should be kept as far away from power as possible both because they are dangerous in and of themselves and more importantly as a signalling mechanisms to people who would choose to emulate Cheney.

Our national OODA loop is failing because there is minimal cost to being wrong.  Hell, being wrong in the right way can be profitable and career enhancing.

74 replies
  1. 1
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Why does everyone call it the OODA loop these days? Is Boyd out of favor?

  2. 2
    sharl says:

    Here’s a direct link to DeLong’s specific post.

    When I saw “OODA loop” at first I was sure this was a post by Adam. (Wikipedia link for that, with – I hope and assume – links to Boyd’s original writing)

  3. 3
    Mike J says:

    Liz Cheney isn’t a horrible human because she is a Cheney. She’s a horrible person who had horrible parents.

    Every single black person in this country has been told to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and living in poverty for generations since slavery isn’t any excuse. Liz Cheney is a rich white woman who could pull herself up and has refused to do so.

  4. 4
    beltane says:

    @Mike J: So far, W’s daughters seem to be an improvement on their father. Liz Cheney, on the other hand, has made it her mission to actively strive for evil.

  5. 5
    DivF says:

    GIGO in the case of the GOP means “garbage in, gospel out”.

  6. 6
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Open thread, it says? I have three hours to kill at the airport, and I’m too tired to concentrate on much of anything.

  7. 7
    Peale says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I think that’s how we got puppymonkeybaby.

  8. 8
    Peale says:

    Systems that never do (3) end up electing demagogues, I assume.

  9. 9
    beltane says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Which airport?

  10. 10
    beltane says:

    @Peale: People who aren’t made to forfeit a cushy life will almost by definition enjoy a degree of informal influence.

  11. 11
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @beltane: SLC

  12. 12
    beltane says:

    @Gin & Tonic: That’s too bad. I recently had a 3/12 hour layover in Healthrow mostly spent browsing the shops.

  13. 13
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @srv: “Hit a bar…” You been to SLC?

    And Alta is closed at night. But my time there is why I am tired.

  14. 14
    beltane says:

    I’ve just learned that mentioning shopping opportunities while travelling will put you in moderation.

  15. 15
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @srv: Brewpubs I know. Had a sandwich and a couple of cold ones at Squatter’s before coming out to the airport. Still the land of 4% beer, though, and Byzantine rules about spirits.

  16. 16
    rk says:

    Apparently Rubio Bot has malfunctioned again! Sorry no link.

  17. 17

    @rk: Gawker has video. Poor, stupid robot boy.

  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mingobat f/k/a Karen in GA: He really just memorizes and recites. Holy shit.

  19. 19
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @srv: Drinking at 11,000 feet will do that.

  20. 20
    SiubhanDuinne, Annoying Scoundrel says:

    @Mingobat f/k/a Karen in GA:

    That’s just painful and sad.

  21. 21
    rk says:

    @Mingobat f/k/a Karen in GA:

    Amazing! He really has nothing in him. I guess the sudden spotlight was too much for him. I’d feel sorry for him if he wasn’t such a moron. Funny how quickly the greatest threat to democrats (Scott Walker) and now Rubio just collapsed under pressure. I honestly cannot imagine who’s going to emerge from this mess.

  22. 22
    NotMax says:


    That’s not even lightweight.

    Nor flyweight.

    More like bacteriaweight.


  23. 23
  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mike J: I’ve heard so little GBV since I left Ohio.

  25. 25

    @rk: No idea. In ’08 when McCain was at 10%, I knew he’d get the nomination, only because every frontrunner collapsed so quickly that people would fall back on McCain, the known quantity who inspired no passion in anyone other than the media.

    This year they have the weak candidates collapsing under scrutiny, but I can’t figure out who the safe fallback could be.

  26. 26
    ruemara says:

    It looks like I get to leave this place after August. I just need to figure out the what comes next part.

  27. 27
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Actually, doctrinally, it was replaced with PMESII and then PMESII crosswalked with ASCOPE. Someone’s been reading some out of date versions of FM 3.

  28. 28
    Mike J says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I only ever saw them live once. I got high with them at some bar on 6th in Austin.

  29. 29

    I still bet on Rubio if Cruz and Trump both implode. Kasich is too bland, like Huntsman, and Jebezel fucks up like this EVERY DAY. I place no bets on what will happen with Trump and Cruz. We’ll have more data soon.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: You win. I was just a simple gunner officer.

    @Mike J: I once drank with Paul Westerburg (pre-concert), does that count?

    I suppose booze or drugs with either is sort of commonplace. Bella Q is friends with Bootsy Collins, so I think she wins.

  31. 31
    Redshift says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: The weird thing is that this had already been noticed a while back by the portions of the media that weren’t busy fluffing him. It took viral video to make it impossible for them to pretend not to know.

  32. 32
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @sharl: I’m not sure how to take that. I think I’ve been typecast.

    I don’t think I’ve ever written anything including OODA loops, other than a critique in a memo for record for TRADOC G2 (that’s the Intel section) of a crank named John Stanton who made a bizarre presentation on human terrain to inaccurately characterize and criticize our work (he also had someone on the inside leaking info to him) where he 1) claimed that Moses, Jesus, and Thomas Jefferson were all practitioners of human terrain fieldwork and analysis and 2) had an OODA loop diagram that he had overlaid on a 50% faded out human brain cross section and connected the points on the diagram, which formed a pentagram.

    By the time I started working for the Army OODA loop was still occasionally referenced, but had been replaced in doctrine by PMESII.

  33. 33
    Nate Dawg says:

    Wow this Rubio clip is priceless.

  34. 34
    Mike J says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:Bootsy always wins, but I think half the world (including me) ties you with Westerburg. Drinking with the ‘mats would have been harder to avoid back in the day.

  35. 35
    Mike J says:

    James PindellVerified account
    Dixville Notch Results

    Kasich 3
    Trump 2
    Others 0

    Bernie 4
    Clinton 0

  36. 36
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Okay, I doubt that is the John Stanton who was president of my fraternity my junior year. He’s a banker in Geneva now. Please tell me it wasn’t him.

  37. 37
    Nate Dawg says:

    Dixville Notch results are in: Sanders 4, Clinton 0.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mike J: I’ll concede the win since I was in the scene in Ohio and never drank with Pollard.

  40. 40
    rk says:


    Trump and Rubio both cannot implode. I just cannot see that happening.

  41. 41
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @rk: They can and likely will all implode. And yet someone will win.

  42. 42
    beltane says:

    @rk: The things he says are odious, but Trump’s stump speech is lively and entertaining. He is not a robot.

  43. 43
    sharl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Hah, no slight intended, just a hmm, military strategery and tactical…stuff~~~~~~> probably Adam. So, y’know, sophisticated deductive logic ‘n’ shit on my part.

  44. 44
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Basically, FM 3/Operations teaches that analysis of the enemy should be subdivided (binned) according to Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information, and Infrastructure. The original idea here was to catalogue in each category what was known about the enemy for each category. Moreover, subsequent revisions essentially assert that PMESII is culture; so that if you can account for these things you can account for the enemy’s culture. I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole, but the bigger issue is that PMESII was never intended as an analytical tool. It was a data sorting concept prior to analysis. Unfortunately, it has become an analytical concept, though no one can actually delineate a methodology for this form of analysis. I have copies of at least three School of Advanced Military Studies theses that pick this apart. Nevertheless, this is what is taught at the captain’s course at US Army Field Artillery School (USAFAS). And I got a migraine from arguing with the captains assigned to be instructors of the course who really had had enough of anything but learning to pull lanyards because they were pissed that Field Artillerists had been turned into planners for OIF and OEF because we needed planners, not lanyard pullers. The warrants got it though – those guys were sharp. And I say this as someone who’s office, when Temporary Assigned Control at III Corps as the Cultural Advisor, was in Joint Fires and served as a deputy to the Fires Coordinator in addition to Cultural Advisor for the Corps Commander and the Corps.

    Now I can resolve the PMESII is culture issue, and I did for two weeks while helping out at USAFAS, because the Joint/DOD definition of culture is the late 19th Century socio-culture of Tyler. That definition is broad enough to encapsulate PMESII. But the real problem is still that Soldiers want to use PMESII as an analytical tool and methodology, when it isn’t designed for that.

    ASCOPE is from Civil Affairs doctrine and is basically the data/informational categories from the CA toolkit. Areas, Structures, Capabilities, Organizations, People, and Events. The Civil Affairs community has cross walked it with PMESII to create a data category of categories concept. PMESII becomes the columns and ASCOPE the rows allowing one to situate information collected at a more granular level than either PMESII or ASCOPE by itself.

  45. 45
    Peale says:

    @Mike J: thank god that’s over.

  46. 46
    Peale says:

    @srv: oh. Bill. Like that’s not going to be taken out of context.

  47. 47
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: No he was routinely writing attack pieces on the original Army culture program for one of the websites that posted leaked documents (cryptome). At the same time he was going to meetings and conferences and trying to pitch himself as an authority on what we were trying to actually do (he wasn’t) in an attempt to get work doing it himself (which he was neither qualified to do, nor capable of doing). I think he writes for one of the online news sites now, but its a pretty common name, so it could be a different John Stanton.

    The program had issues, no one will deny it. Some of them were self inflicted, some were inflicted by requirements from the Joint Force to provide bodies for OIF and OEF. Some were just growing pains. But what Stanton was writing was largely self serving crap in order to build himself up without actually understanding what he was actually on about. And I know who was leaking information to him and to others.

  48. 48
    Mike J says:


    thank god that’s over.

    I worked for (got paid) a campaign that won Dixville Notch. And six weeks later I was working for the nominee (not the same guy).

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I was a simple company grade officer. OTOH had I stayed in, FAO was my secondary specialty of choice. I’ve never really been a doctrine guy. My undergrad adviser was a Realist. Me, I am too idealistic to accept that. As a result, I find myself a vaguely liberal interventionist. Ultimately, just war theory fits my views.

  50. 50
    danielx says:

    (1) Loss of position, (2) loss of informal influence, (3) loss of cushy life, (4) loss of liberty, and (5) loss of life–those are the five forfeits that can be imposed on the losers in any game of high politics. Systems that impose only (1) and (2) tend to cause substantially fewer human and policy disasters than systems that impose (4) and (5).

    I agree about the 4 and 5, although there have been and are some Villager types who should be behind bars and even more who should be employed in no capacity higher than shoveling shit at a stable*. Unfortunately, there’s no place like the Imperial City for making a comeback once you’ve reached a certain level, become one of the Grey Men (or Women) or the like. If you can live a cushy life, you have enough resources to have influence of a sort, depending on how you define cushy. (Going way out on a limb, my definition of cushy and Donald Trump’s are likely very different.) Examples are high in number, one of the most obvious being Bill Kristol. Has been associated with virtually every political/foreign policy fuckup of the last two decades, yet continues to appear as an honored(!) and well paid guest just about every Sunday, when simple justice would seem to dictate…oh, never mind. But nothing ever really seems to happen to these people. Unless they have the misfortune to be caught standing whenever DC requires one of its periodic witchburnings. Otherwise, I can’t think of a single major figure associated with any of the various disasters of the past thirty years or so who had, or ever will have to, worry about how to finance retirement or college educations, etc, no matter how often they fuck up.

    *C’mon, admit it – you know you want to see Bill Kristol trying to handle a manure fork.

  51. 51
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @efgoldman: Funny. But I’d challenge you to find a sentient being in RI who didn’t recognize that schmuck.

    Have they had the funeral yet?

  52. 52
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: doctrine is great for what it is, structure upon which/around which to organize what one is doing. But its also written by committee and the staffing process for approval is too often broken. Where doctrine is very important is when delineating concepts and for providing structures for more junior officers. Once you reach the strategic level, you’re worrying about much different things and need much different organizing concepts.

  53. 53
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Fuck, man. I worried about getting my firing data accurate. And feeding my guys. In my next job, I worked with the local German population and had to be charming.*

  54. 54
    Adam L Silverman says:

    SRV: I deleted the first of your two comments that went into moderation. Not because of the quote, but because of the term you used to refer to Secretary Clinton. If I see you do that again I will take it to Cole and have you banned. If you want to repost that comment, and refer to Mrs. Clinton in a more appropriate manner, I will make sure it makes it out of moderation if it winds up there.

  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’m tracking.

  56. 56
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @danielx: If you click over you’ll find that this is actually about what’s going on in the PRC. Its said that it is so easy to see parallels to our own politics and economics.

  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: FWIW, I can be charming. Despite evidence here.

  58. 58
    Ruckus says:

    Any ideas at all?

  59. 59
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman: It is its own language. That’s why I tried to write everything out and then put the acronym in parentheses.

  60. 60
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: My soul is not destroyed. It is merely sprained.

  61. 61
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Adam L Silverman: You might want to check upstairs. But there is one word that FYWP has objected to forever, and makes it difficult to discuss a women’s musical and political action group from Russia.

  62. 62
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: I’ve a shitload of ace bandages.

    ETA: I did play rugby.

  63. 63
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: that wasn’t it. And I approved that one. That was part of a quote, was in quotation marks from the original source, and made sense in context. So despite the vulgarity, I approved it. The reference to Secretary Clinton was simply unacceptable, despite it not being a vulgarity. It was not part of a quote, but rather how he set the quote up.

  64. 64
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Check with Mayhew. It may be covered under the ACA.

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I have a silver plan: it doesn’t cover soul sprains.

  66. 66
    David *Rafael* Koch says:

    @Mike J: Wouldn’t Styx – Mr. Rubioto be more appropriate.

  67. 67
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Can you buy a supplemental policy at Hobby Lobby?

  68. 68
    mclaren says:

    Our national OODA loop is failing because there is minimal cost to being wrong.

    No, our national OODA loop is failing because there is a huge reward for being wrong and harsh punishments for being right.

    People who were right about the 2003 Iraq invasion paid a heavy price for it. Journalists got fired, generals got demoted, politicians were run out of office.

    People who were right about the looming financial apocalypse were brutally savaged. They lost their jobs, got hounded out of their appointed positions, got ridiculed and smeared and became unemployable.

    The people who were wrong about the 2003 Iraq invasion are still welcomed on foreign policy roundtables on prestigious news shows and still get treated with deference and deep respect. They still give lavishly-compensated speeches to audiences who ooh and ahh with awe and applaud until their palms are raw.

    The people who wrecked the world economy in 2008 gave themselves bonuses and became even wealthier than they were before the crash.

    Shithole America is a lost culture because failure is now the main requirement for honor, wealth, and prestige.

  69. 69
    bin Lurkin' says:


    No, our national OODA loop is failing because there is a huge reward for being wrong and harsh punishments for being right.

    It’s so much easier to forgive someone for being wrong than being right. No one likes a smartass and being right is prima facie evidence that you are a smartass.

    Phil Donahue had the highest rated program on the network at the time but was fired because he made a good case for being against the Iraq invasion.

    Our political culture has gone a long way downhill since those heady days.

  70. 70
    chris m says:

    @Peale: Indeed, the US may be on the way to proving your point in 2016.

  71. 71
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:


    It took viral video to make it impossible for them to pretend not to know.

    Viral videos are the holy grail of “news” reporting. If there’s no video, it didn’t happen.



  72. 72
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @danielx: St. General Savior Genius David Petraeus no longer is the golden boy whose Obvious Brilliance and American Way-iness didn’t save him. /snark

    He’s not in jail, but I don’t think he’s sought out in serious society any more. Even St. John McCain doesn’t mention him any more, AFAIK.

    Similarly with Rumsfeld.

    The pundits don’t fall very far no matter how wrong they are, but they were always just useful tools to those with the real power.


  73. 73
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: Er, there should be a period in that first run-on sentence. “… boy. His Obvious …”


    (Who hopes the New Comment Engine will let one edit posts in a time window longer than 5 minutes, and will let edits happen without throwing the post in the Dungeon.)

  74. 74
    gvg says:

    Obama was right about Iraq and look at him now. He is the President. so sometimes we do care and we do get it right.
    W is still in hiding and even though Cheney mouths off once in awhile, he isn’t listened to that much. In fact most people just note, guy who was really wrong dares to criticize someone else.

    Journalists and “pundits” however aren’t paying the price that I have noticed anyway.

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