Tuesday, September 28, 2004

This does not impress me,

President Bush starts to pull ahead in the polls.

Good news for Bush in two new polls
President has solid leads over challenger Kerry

MSNBC

Updated: 11:11 a.m. ET Sept. 28, 2004

A pair of new polls released Tuesday show that President Bush is maintaining a healthy lead over Sen. John Kerry as the first of their three nationally televised debates approaches.

In a Washington Post-ABC News Poll, Bush has a six-point lead over Kerry — 51 percent to 45 percent — among likely voters while independent Ralph Nader garners 1 percent. Bush's lead is seven points — 51-44 — among registered voters.

A new poll from USA Today/CNN/Gallup showed similar results. Bush leads Kerry by eight points — 52-44 — among likely voters and by 11 points — 53-42 — among all registered voters. Nader claims three percent in both cases.

In conducting their poll, the Post and ABC found that Bush has built his lead by through "relentless attacks on Kerry" that have "badly damaged the Democratic nominee. ... Voters routinely describe Kerry as wishy-washy, as a flip-flopper and as a candidate they are not sure they can trust, almost as if they are reading from Bush campaign ad scripts."

"But Kerry's problems are also partly of his own making. Despite repeated efforts to flesh out his proposals on Iraq, terrorism and other issues, he has yet to break through to undecided voters as someone who has clear plans for fixing the country's biggest problems."...


it's the electoral vote, apportioned mostly through winner-take-all contests in the 50 states, that will determine who is the next president. In that contest, NBC News currently projects that Bush is likely to win 222 electoral votes to 200 for Kerry with the remainder in states too close to call. To win, 270 electoral votes are needed.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted Sept. 23-26 among 1,204 adults, of whom 969 said they were registered to vote. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.

The USAToday/CNN/Gallup Poll was based on interviews with 1,006 adults conducted Sept. 24-26. The margin of error was also three points.

But Kerry's support declining among women voters and among "Gen-Next" voters is disturbing.
John Kerry’s lead among younger voters has vanished as they become increasingly inclined to see the country as headed in the right direction, according to the first GENEXT poll conducted since the Republican National Convention in late August.

If the election were held today, the two main candidates would be neck-and-neck among under-30 voters, with 45 percent of them voting for Kerry and 44 percent for President George W. Bush. Independent candidate Ralph Nader draws 6 percent of the youth vote. Last month Kerry had the support of 50 percent of young voters, Bush had 41 percent. (In the most recent NEWSWEEK poll of all registered voters, taken between Sept. 9 and 10, Bush led Kerry with 49 percent of the vote versus the challenger's 43 percent.)

The increased support for Bush is also reflected in the narrowing spread between younger voters who believe the country is headed along the right track or in the wrong direction. Last month, 54 percent of those polled felt the country was headed in the wrong direction, compared to 42 percent who saw it as being on the right track. In the new poll, nearly as many people felt it was on the right track (47 percent) as felt it was heading in the wrong direction (51 percent).

Let's consider this rationally for a moment out of the perspective of self-interest. I think intuitively most people assume that Bush, simply because he's stubborn, won't call for a draft. I also think that most people assume intuitively that John Kerry, because he's more responsible, might impose a draft. Emotionally drafts are just something people associated with Democratic Presidents. So it makes perfect sense from the perspective of self-interest that younger-voters would swing towards Bush.

That's the next generation for ya, America is headed in the right direction just so long as it's the underclasses that go to die in national quagmires because they can't afford to opt out of a military career track.

You could almost call it the invisible hand of the market at work.

Note that I don't actually believe that President Bush getting a second term would make us less likely to get a draft, but the subjective reality on the ground is that this is what people are thinking. Being clueless about what people are thinking on the ground must be a Democratic political specialty, because it would explain why Kerry is losing women to the "security mom," affect to a President who has increased the danger to America, and why Kerry is losing Catholics to a non-Catholic opponent, and why Kerry is losing young people to a President more likely to create foreign wars in which they will have to become drafted to die.

Now I think it's about time for Democrats to stop being in denial. If they still want to win that is. "Mr Smith goes to Washington," is not a prescription for victory in the real world. I think many Democrats thought "If we show up, they will vote for us." (Because Bush is so awful) Well the answer is, no.

This impress me,

This is an example of dignity and stoicism, qualities generally to be prized.

Floridians worn out by hurricanes' wrath
Jeanne's aftermath is déjà vu all over again

By Janet Shamlian
Correspondent
NBC News
Updated: 9:51 a.m. ET Sept. 28, 2004

PALM BAY, Florida - Dewey Cuthbertson knew there would be damage to his mobile home in the aftermath of Hurricane Jeanne. But he was not prepared for this. No one could be.

Cuthbertson drove to Orlando to escape the storm’s wrath. He slept in his car for two days and then decided it was time to come home. But there was no home here anymore.

The place had been destroyed. All four walls were blown away by Jeanne’s fierce winds, and his belongings were tossed about like children’s toys. Everything was wet and almost nothing could be saved.

“I‘ll be all right,” the 74 year old veteran said. “I’m doing a lot better than some of my friends in the Navy who never returned home from duty.”

Rain-soaked keepsakes
Cuthbertson walked to the home where he lived by himself and took a look. There in a corner was something he treasured. It was a scrapbook detailing his two decades in the Navy. There were newspaper stories from his time in Korea and Vietnam and pictures and letters he treasured. The book was badly damaged, every page was wet.

“This is what I did with my life. I was a stenographer for admirals. They moved around a lot to different ships, so I did, too,” Cuthbertson said. “I thought I was done moving, but I guess I’ll have to move again.”

A neighbor from the Palm Bay Estates mobile home park saw Cuthbertson’s car arrive and came to comfort him. “We’ll help you Dewey,” she told him. “Take a look around and tell me if there’s anything here you want to keep.”

The reality of the situation was starting to sink in. Cuthbertson pointed out a chair, a small waterlogged suitcase and the scrapbook.

“I guess that’s it,” he said. “I’m a relatively healthy person. Money and possessions are not that important.”

Talk about a stiff upper lip.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Euroschlerosis: Coming To An America Near You,

Here is something interesting from Daniel Gross (Slate)- how 'free market' ideology is turning America into a euroschelrotic country.

In the roaring 1920s, when other highly profitable companies began to emulate Ford, welfare capitalism began in earnest. Companies built cafeterias and health clinics, sponsored baseball and bowling leagues, and granted days off for the opening of deer season. Corning Glass Works began providing health insurance in 1923. The same year, U.S. Steel slashed its workday from 12 hours to eight. In 1927, International Harvester began offering two-week paid vacations. All this was all done without government mandates and largely without the influence of unions.

Welfare capitalism proved a phenomenal success—socially, economically, and politically. America's industrial complex was ultimately unionized, but with relatively little upheaval. Even with the rise of the welfare state in the '30s, corporations continued to assume responsibility for the well-being of their employees. It was part of a grand bargain between labor, capital, and government that allowed for remarkable growth, innovation, and rising standards of living for decades. It also served as a bulwark against socialism. By endowing labor with dignity, welfare capitalists made industrial work a ticket to the middle class.

But just as the New Deal Coalition started to fray in the 1960s, so too did welfare capitalism. American businesses—and workers—increasingly began to face competition from all over. They began to have difficulty competing with companies from countries where more robust welfare states bore the burden of providing pensions and health insurance (like Germany and Japan). They began to have difficulty competing with low-wage competitors in countries where welfare capitalism had yet to take hold, like Mexico, China, and India. And they began to face competition from newer domestic companies that never bought into the ideas of welfare capitalism.

In the 1920s, competitive pressures led companies to become more paternalistic to unskilled workers. But now, the pressure is all in the other direction. With each passing year, more and more retailers have to compete with Wal-Mart, and more and more manufacturers have to compete with China. Even enlightened employers like Starbucks can't ever hope to offer the sort of programs that International Harvester and Ford did back in the 1920s. And so welfare capitalism is slipping away. Health care insurance has increasingly become decoupled from work. According to this Kaiser Family Foundation study, 61 percent of workers are covered by employers' health insurance, down from 65 percent in 2001. And pension plans, which guaranteed a retirement income to employees, are being replaced by 401(Ks), which offer no such certainties.

Most free marketeers would argue that this is simply the price of progress. Now that we're competing in global markets, welfare capitalism as practiced in the mid-20th century is simply untenable. And companies that aren't burdened with expensive benefit programs can be more agile and thus more profitable. But it isn't just the workers of Lucent and US Airways who are going to pay for the long goodbye of welfare capitalism. We all will.

When companies decide they no longer want to—or can't—meet the promises they made to employees, they push them wherever possible onto the federal government. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has been remarkably busy taking over the pensions of bankrupt textile, steel, and other manufacturers. The PBGC closed last year in its worst shape ever, with an $11.2 billion deficit, and will doubtless require a large taxpayer bailout. The establishment of the new drug program entitlement for Medicare will similarly relieve many older companies of meeting the obligations they made—and impose massive costs on the rest of us. And as companies providing health care become the minority, the Fords and General Motors of the world may increasingly agitate for a larger federal role in health insurance.

The more welfare capitalism declines, the more the federal government will have to fill the gap, and the more America will look like Europe.[emphasis added]

This is one of the reasons why I oppose the current Administration. Free markets will bring us nationalized and socialized corporations - and who the heck wants socialism?

Note: As one final note, I would like to clarify something - from some reader's responses it seems that there is some sort of confusion about what I wrote. First I would like to note that in 2000, many Republicans were helping out Nader and working behind the scenes in Florida. That you should meet someone who was involved in some way with those operations, and should feel some personal responsibility for helping Bush come to power shouldn't be a surprise to you.

Second of all, it is not hard to build up influence. I call it the "free sample" theory. The first step is to build up a network of contacts. If you want to influence somebody important, you find a contact who knows them but is not important themselves. You then develop timely, accurate, precise, and highly valuable information sources and analysis. This is something I more or less do by being awake.

You then provide this information, sporadically, gratis to the people who you have cultivated. This information, because it is valuable, percolates. Lather, rinse, repeat. After you've built up a reputation as a valuable source, you then begin feeding information - never disinformation - but timely, unexpected, and important information to your consumers that they were not aware of but at crucial points will tip their judgement one way or another.

Furthermore you trade in information, and you begin fixing for people. You offer, spontaneously, to fix a problem they complain about. You offer to hook them up with someone who can fix it for them. You become known as a "go to" kind of person. You become known as someone who is in the know, and who will reward information.

Once you've established yourself as that kind of person, and it can be done through second hand informal social networks you then begin extending your scale and type of operations. There are two basic rules: "There is no limit to what a person can accomplish as long as they let the credit go to someone else." and "Money is always the last thing people ask for."

Information, access, and influence can be had - if you are simply willing to help other people discover the truth and help them out with their problems. It's probably stunning to consider this as a possibility, but as a matter of fact simply by being informative and friendly I've developed networks that stretch throughout the world. Call it a six-degrees of freedom kind of thing, but it works.

People are trained in this culture to be consumers and employees. This is a very limiting perceptual set. What I have outlined from above is within the grasp of every person reading this blog, if they are willing to step outside the paradigm that getting money is the important thing and that interacting with people through business-market consumerism is the way to reach and influence them. I have had people agree to do incredible things for me, out of simple "backscratching" or service barter. What's better is that it can operate completely under the radar of people who think Bank accounts and credit transfers are how people convince other people to do things.

Is money important to me? Sure. But I am constantly amazed at how individual people limit their potential influence by constraining themselves to a consumerized and employee mentality. Each person here has potentially valuable information or services that they could barter for access or influence or return services, but you simply don't fully capitalize upon your intrinsic assets.

Sales fundamentally are about relationships. Learn to relate to people, and then learn how to deliver for them, and you will be amazed at what doors and opportunities open up for you.

We Didn't Object Until They Came For Us,

From WWII era:
First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by then there was no one left to speak up for me.”

--Lutheran minister and German war veteran Martin Niemoller

Here from a op-ed for the CSM on the Cat Stevens bruhaha.

I have argued vigorously before on these pages and in other international media that our responsibility to stand up as citizens in a time of war and crisis takes precedence over enjoying the civil rights afforded us by the sacrifices of those who have given their lives so we can live free. But when the type of global citizenship displayed by Mr. Islam, which goes to the very heart of what humanity is about, is struck down by artificial and arbitrary implementation of US antiterrorism statutes, it's time to reexamine those laws, and to reexamine the license to practice of those who are charged with protecting our civil liberties.

Yusuf Islam is a beacon of light and hope in a sea of fear, chaos, and uncertainty that was extinguished this week out of fear and paranoia that seemingly have no end. If Mr. Ashcroft is willing to take Yusuf Islam off that plane, then next time he'd better be willing to take me off as well.

It is time to take back America's civil rights from those who would abuse it for their own narrow political agendas. [emphasis added]

Translation: It was okay with me that they imprisoned someone indefinitely without charges and without legal counsel while they had no evidence against, until I realized they would be willing to do it to someone like me.

Every time I start to think I've reached the limits of cynicism in my opinion of people, I am surprised - because something happens to take that opinion to a new low.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Outsourcing: Technology will not save us,

Read her in the Boston Globe about how start-up tech firms are outsourcing functions.

High-tech start-ups feel push to outsource
By Beth Healy, Globe Staff | September 23, 2004

Venture capitalists have a pressing new question for high-tech entrepreneurs who come looking for money: What's your India plan?

While large American companies have drawn the most attention for shifting jobs to cheaper overseas markets, the practice has quietly taken hold among start-ups as well. It's a trend that financiers of young technology companies say is inevitable. But they also admit it's controversial, and likely to rock a sector that Boston relies on for jobs and a vibrant economy.

''It's the invisible hand," said Ramanan Raghavendran, a managing director of TH Lee Putnam Ventures, a $1.1 billion dollar venture fund, referring to the corporate world's inexorable search for low-cost labor. But, he acknowledged, ''That's not a compelling answer for the 35-year-old software engineer who's out of a job."

Speaking to a group of venture capitalists and business executives at a Harvard Club dinner on Tuesday evening, Raghavendran said that Boston-based TH Lee is urging the companies it invests in to ''build offshoring into the business plan from day one." If management doesn't ''get it," Raghavendran said, ''venture firms need to drive the thinking" about hiring offshore.

Increasingly, young companies are getting it. Many say they have no choice, if they want to be competitive in selling software, telecommunications equipment, and services. They can get an Indian employee for $21,000 in Bangalore or Hyderabad who would cost three or four times as much in Cambridge, Waltham or Silicon Valley. And the foreign workers are highly productive, people who manage them say.

Sort of says it all doesn't it? Another nail in the coffin of the tech optimists hanging over from the neo-liberal (actually post-liberal just as neo-conservatives are actually a post-conservative philosophy) delusions from the ninety. Wake up and smell the coffee, and welcome to the real world. They're not just offshoring present jobs, here in no nonsense completely unmistakable terms they are directly shipping job growth itself overseas from the beginning. Expect a stagnant or declining job market in the face of a growing population.

Welcome to the new normal, and don't you wish that it was legal to jail for fraud all those who have made you such pretty promises about how it was all going to work out for the best?

Theocracy American Style,

Let me state for the record, while I am not a fundamentalists Christian, being a reluctant Theist, that I was raised in a community of them and have the greatest sympathy for their kindness, generousity, and moral example to this day. Any deviance I may have displayed is entirely of my own choice or destiny in life, and as such I still respect the moral authority of the truly righteous.

However precisely because I liked these people, I think that this is rather a bad idea all around. (CSM)

Does US law mute voices of churches?

By Jane Lampman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Religion is striking a high profile in the 2004 campaign. But there are those eager to see it take on a much larger role - both now and in the future.

More than 130 members of the US House of Representatives want to amend the law that prohibits partisan activity - such as political rallies, fundraisers, distribution of political literature, and direct endorsements from the pulpit - by pastors and houses of worship. They hope to do this by inserting a provision into a bill that is already before a House-Senate conference committee - thus avoiding public debate or votes in either body.

Supporters say the provision is needed to restore free speech to religious leaders. Barring political endorsements from the pulpit curtails the First Amendment rights of pastors, they say.

There is a strong tradition of activism by American religious movements. Billy Graham has had a great deal of influence over several Presidents from Nixon to Bush43. The Catholic fundamentalist movement has a great deal of influence now, and is openly banning or supporting various candidates and positions. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as Malcolm X were religious leaders as well as proponents of social movements. Several popular figures from the religious establishment such as Pat Robertson have actually run for the Presidency. President Wilson's father was a theologian, and Thomas Jefferson edited his own version of the Bible which is still in use by some churches today.

The separation of church and state in America, has always been merely but importantly pro forma. The only thing that has been barred from religious activity is open attempts to organize and form governing coalitions. De facto many laws on the books reflect already an imposition of morality by certain groups on all others, and it is entirely legal for them to advocate the expansion of such public morality laws (repealing Roe v. Wade, etc.). Whether or not you agree with the present legal state of abortion legality, it is entirely legal to attempt to advance your point of view including if it is based purely on the idea of imposing your morality upon others.

The only thing that is barred is a divisive endorsement of the state of specific sects and the legitimization of the imposition of morality per se as a raison detre for legal authority. That is while you can impose your morality legally if you can find a governing political coalition willing to impose that regulation, you cannot claim that your specific morality and its imposition is the proper and sole legal basis for government to impose regulation.

And that is the essence of theocracy as opposed to political activism, that it advocates a dogmatic sectarian monopoly upon the monopoly of violence of the state in the governing of society. To prevent this, formal political organization and the formation of political coalitions that can take direct political power are banned. This has been enforced by civil rather than criminal consequences, effectively creating an economic incentive to respect the pro forma seperation of church and state. In the past, religions have consented to this principally because to allow any one of them to enter the political struggle for direct power would incite a socially Darwinian struggle for survival amongst them all.

These are the desperate game board rules that we see the Iraqis maneuvering in, on one hand hoping to avoid such a death struggle and on the other feeling forced to participate in it because to do otherwise is to ensure one will end up on the losing end of a theocratic power struggle.

It is for this reason that wars in Europe erupted for centuries as tiny differences in the practice of a monotheistic religion that for all intents and purposes was identical to outsiders, wracked all of Europe, and sent variously in turn Germany, France, and England into prolonged bloody civil wars. It also was a factor in inciting international wars, and an egregious insult on top of injury rendering foreign occupations even more unstable than they usually are. It is for this reason that Europe is more secular than America today, because even as Americans fled here to get away from religious controversy or persecution, the ones left behind had to live with the consequences and so became soured on the whole proposition.

This change in legislation cannot be emphasized in importance. It is an act of historical and monumental proportions, ranking with the Iraq War, 911, the fall of Russia in dictatorship (again), etc. as acts of trauma in the world history. Arguably, with all due respect to those who suffered because of 911, this is bigger than 911. A little religion is a very good thing, and more is generally advisable, but if it is too much then it is fatal.

You've Got To Be Joking Me,

For the record, I am completely against the forced trafficking of human beings for any purposes. For the record, I mildly lean toward sex-worker rights and unions as well as regulation, taxation, and conceivable controlled legalization of prostitution. For the record, I have never availed myself of the purposes of a prostitute - merely because I'm too proud and I have a hard time lying to myself into believing that such a woman would have interest in myself when I have to pay for her company.

That and the oldman has a slightly paranoia about sexually transmitted diseases.

However this is just plain silly.

U.S. troops stationed overseas could face a court martial for patronizing prostitutes under a new regulation drafted by the Pentagon.

The move is part of a Defense Department effort to lessen the possibility that troops will contribute to human trafficking in areas near their overseas bases by seeking the services of women forced into prostitution.

Gen. Leon LaPorte, commander of the 37,000 U.S. troops in South Korea, said another initiative started on the peninsula has been to “make on-base military life a more desirable experience, and attempt to diminish the seductive appeal of many of the less wholesome off-duty pursuits.”

Additional recreational opportunities
That effort includes offering expanded evening and weekend education programs, band concerts, late-night sports leagues and expanded chaplains’ activities.

From a pragmatic view, keeping soldiers on extended deployment in foreign countries and completely cutting off access to sexual relief is a bonehead move. They must really be planning a draft, because it seems every single move they make is designed to make military service more miserable. The term hookers infamously came from the "camp followers" of General Hooker in the Civil War.

If this is what Rumsfeld and his boys are spending their time on instead of working on Iraq, then they A) have way too much time on their hands and B) really need to be removed from office badly. I'm not championing the exploitation of women, but I would suggest that more important issues to the national interest loom for Pentagon thinkers to be earning their salary working on than this one.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Karma: Shades of the Past,

Once in what seems like several lives ago I was somebody different. I was ambitious beyond measure, contemptuous of authority, certain in my convictions. I entered in the top fifty of a Freshman class in a ivy league school, and that was while blowing off trying to do it. I was good, I was one of the best, and I helped change the world- and ruthless beyond your imagination. I destroyed lives the way some people spray herbicide.

However in what one of my friends once called the 'shriveled black thing' I called my heart and soul there was only emptiness, and no matter what victories I won and no matter what unsung deeds I accomplished it meant nothing to me. So I turned away and walked away from it all. I became a small town university lecturer. I practiced swordsmanship and played at consulting and market management, moving money more as a game than anything just to see how much I could make but always for someone else. Money held no interest for me, except as a game chip to mark success or failure.

This is not to say the world left me alone however. From time to time I came out of the hinterlands to work on various projects. My exile was never entirely secure, for there were always those that remembered me and wanted revenge or wanted me for what I could do for them.

What did I do exactly? Col Lounsbury mentions that a friend of his said that the victory of the Democrats in the election may hinge upon what he called the 'black arts'. I am a practitioner par excellance of the 'black arts' a man whom even those are his close friends call cold or claim that I have a shriveled black heart.

I have done good, and that was always the original goal. I helped worked under Reagan and Bush 41 on several projects involving the ending of the era of Communism. In the Clinton era I roused myself several times, including working on the campaign to urge an intervention in the former Yugoslavia. Since then I've worked the back end of the diplomatic effort to stop the US obtaining Turkish access to invade Iraq, against the UN resolution authorizing war, back alley Middle-eastern work, and grass roots Democratic mobilization against Bush.

However I've made terrible personal mistakes as well the most spectacular one being the anti-Gore campaign of 2000. That involved helping prop up Nader as a wedge candidate to split the left, and work here in Iowa and with associates in Florida. You could ask how I could do it, and you have to understand I got involved with the understanding that the deal would be that McCain would become the candidate.

Once Bush knocked him out, I became highly uneasy with the work of helping to work behind the scenes on the Gore-discreditation campaign and the pro-Nader campaign. Let us remember before we shed tears of pity for Gore, that Bradley was the far better candidate by far and Gore utterly destroyed him to such an extent that Bradley never recovered and withdrew from public life. If my side, the Republican side which at that time I had been disinformed was lining up for McCain, was going to win the necessity was going to require being even more ruthless.

So I helped do my part to set up the discreditation of Gore and stealing of votes from the Democrats by helping out the Nader stalking horse.

But I wavered, and in the closing weeks of the campaign decided definitely that I couldn't support a complete incompetent like Bush. Indeed I ended up voting Gore, a truly heart wrenching decision which at the time almost made me puke. However the damage was done, and on election day I got information that something was going down in Florida quite well before the media networks had it.

The rest, shall we say, is history. I guess you could say I have a lot of karma.

If you ask how I could have done it, remember that all this occurred while I was trying to stay out of it as much as possible and only dabbling as a hobby more or less while trying to live the idealistic life of a ascetic and science teacher. This was supposed to be my retirement from the 'biz'. In fact that's how I got into trouble, if I'd been fully involved instead of only periphially I'd never have been taken in for a moment by the bait-n-switch they played me with to get me to do what I obviously wouldn't have agreed to outright from the onset.

Since then I've been trying to atone for my mistake, of helping be a lever in the machine that helped bring a right-wing neo-fascistic government to power, by relentlessly working behind the scenes to sabotage this Admistration. It has not been without some success. Not that this Administration needed any help tripping over it's own feet, but I did a few things to help make it more apparent and obvious.

As Kerry attempts to struggle back from behind, and GWB presses home the advantage to demoralize the other side's base while mobilizing his own it has occurred to me that there is perhaps one flaw in Rove's game plan which I may be able to set something up to exploit. It's a long shot, but so is this whole 'manufacturing consent' business or as I like to call it 'cheating' and 'string pulling'. My signature is overkill, so I rather like the utterly devastating nature of this idea. It also has the advantage of being a Deus ex Machina salvation, so that Democrats won't hopefully become complacent - it should be apparent to them that something out of the blue saved their hides.

Of course there is no guarentee that it will work at all, but that's why I've been so silent. I've been working on this plot of mine to dethrone el Bushco. If it works the election will be over, in Kerry's favor. If it doesn't, nobody will ever know. It's one of those all or nothing things.

Monetary Policy: Why rates are REALLY rising

Bard Delong is a nice guy, but he sometimes is a bit dense. He wonders why the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates.

I have a hard time imagining a world next summer in which the Fed is sorry that it did not raise interest rates today. But I have an easy time imagining a world next summer in which the Fed is sorry that it did raise interest rates. So I'm having a hard time understanding their thinking.

Which is interesting because he answers his own question in a previous post, but he doesn't seem to connect the two issues.
The late Rudi Dornbusch said that the collapse of unsustainable currencies and other wrong-headed policies invariably took place in four stages:
    Enthusiastic investors and speculators chasing immediate short-term returns cause the anomaly to last for longer than economists expect.

    Puzzled by the failure of prices to return to fundamentals or of unsustainable policies to generate a crisis, highly-intelligent economists evolve theories explaining that *this* time it really isn't unsustainable.

    Fortified by these theories, yet more investors and speculators chasing short-term returns flood into the market, causing the anomaly to last for *much* *much* longer than economists had originally expected.

    The supply of greater fools comes to a sudden end; the crash comes; the crisis comes.

Now that the highly intelligent Catherine Mann of IIE has formally stated that the U.S. current account deficit is not *that* unsustainable, this episode of the U.S. dollar cycle has officially reached stage (2).

This is the inevitable conclusion of expanding systematic and structural accounts deficits. Ian Welsh at BOP summarizes this:
That's it. That's all. Sell goods, sell your country or sell your future.

To Brad's note I had this to say:
Debt finance I'm afraid. There have been several sticky points in auctions recently. The buyers are increasingly becoming speculaturs and foreign exchange intervention like the BOJ. In order to finance spending, interest rates have to go up in order to make Treasuries more attractive. If the Fed refused to do this, there could actually be a debt sale crisis.

While economic management has become the raison detre of much theory and speculation about Fed action, first and last they are in the business of selling paper. No paper get's sold, and nothing else happens. The Fed has built up incredible institutional market-moving power by being able to dictate the terms and environment that it markets its paper in- but in the end even it cannot through management techniques wish away the fundamental unsoundness of escalating deficit spending.

Many things have been written about the US debt, but the most obvious point is that someone else must be willing to buy it. If you were looking at US debt, would you consider it an attractive investment purchase? Would you like to bet against long term US inflation in this environment of energy price escalations?

If not, then it shouldn't be a wonder that the Fed is raising rates. It knows it will kill the economy Brad, but it's a simple matter of flogging goods at an outdoor market. The price of that paper must be what the market will bear, and the market is decidely not interested in a declining yeild environment as a purchase.

To which others such as Winslow responded:
Oldman you mix the Treasury with the Fed.

Even as short term rates (set by Fed) are increased, long-term rates (set by the "market") are falling.

But as Bento notes:
True, the oldman may have been speaking a little loosely, but I can't imagine Greenspan is indifferent to the financing of US debt. We had a big shortfall in 5-year note purchases by foreign banks a couple of weeks ago, which was made up by some masked man, who rode in out of nowhere and untied Polly from the tracks. Seems we've been skating close to crisis here.

To which Khariss noted:
It is very hard to see any real problem with demand at any recent Treasury auction. There was, in fact, a shift from indirect to direct bidding at the most recent 5-year auction, but it is anybody's guess what caused it. One prominent guess among Treasury traders is that an account that typically goes through dealers instead went through the Treasury's new and improved on-line TAPS system. If that's true, notes went pretty much to the same buyers as always, but the statistics reported after the auction showed a marked shift in the path the notes took.

Bid-to-cover ratios at recent auctions have been higher than average. Demand for Treasury paper is quite good.

But as Anne noted:
KHarris

"Demand for Treasury paper is quite good."

Agreed. What puzzles me is whether a 4.04% 10 year Treasury Note should be comforting or worrying. Essentially we are still moving through the bull market in bonds that began in December 1981. The Vanguard Long Term Bond Index fund is up about 5.70% this year.

Which brings the oldman to his point. The oldman is not blind to the institutional difference between the Federal Reserve Banking system and the Treasury, but nonetheless the core fact is that the Federal Reserve has to act to keep the Treasury in business but has no leverage over Treasury. Therefore The Fed is always cleaning up after Treasury.

In this case, we can see a simple answer to these different POV's in this article on the markets:
Short-term bond prices fell after the Fed announcement, but longer-term bonds rose and yields fell slightly, with traders apparently reassured the Fed has inflation in check. Long-term bond prices have risen in recent weeks, while long-term rates have fallen.

The people objecting to the oldman's assertion are partly correct, but also partly wrong. They aren't thinking in long term time scales, and if you take the long view it explains perfectly the Federal Reserve's action. The Federal Reserve is acting to prop up Treasury paper being issued on the long end of Treasury bonds. The reason why is that the Federal Reserve knows that a financial crisis in America is not imminent, but that the long term - as in a decade or more - estimated balance sheet is deteriorating. Between trend energy price increases, continued capital flight, a lack of political will to reform the fiscal structure of the government, etc. there is a strong trend toward the rates drifting upwards. In order to counter this, the Federal Reserve has to make their paper more attractive, and leverage the short end against the long end. If they were to allow market momentum to create a pop in yeilds on the long end, it would undo their ability to control the short end.

A banker once told me that one of the most difficult things for most people to understand about bonds was that the yeild traded inversely to the price and the factor of time in both things. The same thing applies here.

All the above commentators are correct, but they don't see the big picture. For the Federal Reserve to maintain its institutional leverage it has to make sure there are no disruptions in Treasury market. The factor of time and the way that prices and yields tend to trade inversely means that sometimes it has to do counter-intuitive things. Such as raise interest rates now, in order to keep them from rising ten years from now.

Part of the success of the modern Federal Reserve management history has been to understand and work across time successfully to keep yeild bubbles from building up momentum. If you combine this with the increasingly tenuous buyership of short term debt, then you can understand perfectly why to preserve its institutional power the Federal Reserve must raise interest rates at least in the short term. The Federal Reserve is not the owner, issuer, or seller of the paper from the Treasury - but it is effectively the auctioneer. To maintain its institutional power to leverage interest rates, it has to ensure the basic liquidity of Treasury auction sales and secondary markets. It must also act across time to prevent momentum bubbles from erupting, as they often do in equity markets that aren't managed - like the stock market.

Hence why demand can be quite good while at the same time in trouble. The Fed does not create this demand, but it does manage it. From managing it, comes its power. But in order to manage it, sometimes it must take actions for no other reason than to continue its management. Hence the current move, which is based less on economic fundamentals in the US economy than the Fed looking for excuses in the economic picture to do what it needs to do to maintain its long term institutional influence over the market. This is the nature of a meta-credit agency.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Politics: Krugman Thinks Kerry Should Fire Clinton,

According to his NYT op-ed column, Krugman declares that Kerry should fire Clinton. Really.

"If Senator John Kerry really has advisers telling him not to attack Mr. Bush on national security, he should dump them. When Dick Cheney is saying vote Bush or die, responding with speeches about jobs and health care doesn't cut it."

Except of course, that it was Clinton himself who told Kerry to talk domestic issues and don't go negative on Bush. And he's got his aides and staffers pushing the idea too. No Democrat I've talked to denies that this is highly uncharacteristic advice from the Clinton team, the team of red-meat Carville and others.

Of course Krugman doesn't want to piss off a lot of Democrats who form his public support base, so he uses the canard "really has advisers". We all know which advisers are telling him that - the Clinton crew. We know it cause it's been widely reported and Krugman must have read the same reports. So Krugman is saying "fire them," and I for one agree. If John Kerry doesn't know his real friends, the people who are almost desperate to get him elected, and puts his trust in an obvious jedi-mind trick then he's doomed.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Outsourcing: The Economist a Lefty Shill?

The publication commonly known for its left wing socialist rantings, The Economist, comes out with the accusation that IT Departments are now getting shipped to India as part of corporate offshoring practices.

After the call-centre, now the IT department is off to India

IN A shiny new building in the drab construction site that is Noida, a Delhi suburb, teams of young Indian engineers are, in a manner of speaking, managing the world. A number of America's best-known companies have entrusted the remote running of part of their global computing networks to HCL Comnet. This information-technology services firm is at the crest of what Gartner, a consultancy, has called “the next big wave” of Indian outsourcing deals, covering remote “infrastructure-management services”.

India's outsourcing boom started with software development and has expanded into a whole range of business services that can be handled a continent away, of which the country's hundreds of call-centres are just the most prominent examples. This takes that trend one stage further, and shifts offshore much of the administration and maintenance of a firm's IT systems. Gartner's Partha Iyengar divides remote IMS work into three categories: monitoring global network operations; providing helpdesk support and maintenance; and administering databases.

It is as yet a small part of India's IT business. According to NASSCOM, the Indian industry's lobby, the country's exports from the software, other IT services and business-process-outsourcing industries grew by more than 25% to $12 billion last year, of which infrastructure services accounted for just over $300m.

But the potential is huge. A report by Deutsche Bank puts the entire size of the global infrastructure-management market at $86 billion. Firms have been outsourcing infrastructure management for years. Arno Franz, of TPI, an outsourcing consultancy, describes it as an industry created in the 1970s and 1980s by EDS, an American giant that came out of efforts by General Motors to automate its car plants. Along with IBM, EDS still dominates the business. Often these firms would actually buy their clients' computer systems. Or they would have annual maintenance contracts. Either way, their customer had fixed their information-technology costs and were free to concentrate on their “core competencies”.

Of course, The Economist is not a left-wing publication but they really did post the above article admitting that the information technology infrastructure jobs - the bread and butter of sysops and sysadmins - was going to get shipped overseas starting at a firm nearby you. That's the good news. The bad news is that academics in the US are still lying to people about what is going to happen to them - more on that supporting my position later.

Healthcare: Straws and Camels,

Heh, this news just in about premiums.

News-Medical.Net
Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose at about five times the rate of inflation
Posted By: News-Medical in Miscellaneous News
Published: Sunday, 12-Sep-2004

Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums increased an average of 11.2% in 2004 -- less than last year’s 13.9% increase, but still the fourth consecutive year of double-digit growth, according to the 2004 Annual Employer Health Benefits Survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET).

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose at about five times the rate of inflation (2.3%) and workers’ earnings (2.2%).

In 2004, premiums reached an average of $9,950 annually for family coverage ($829 per month) and $3,695 ($308 per month) for single coverage, according to the new survey. Family premiums for PPOs, which cover most workers, rose to $10,217 annually ($851 per month) in 2004, up significantly from $9,317 annually ($776 per month) in 2003. Since 2000, premiums for family coverage have risen 59%.

The survey also found that the percentage of all workers receiving health coverage from their employer in 2004 is 61%, about the same as in 2003 (62%) but down significantly from the recent peak of 65% in 2001. As a consequence, there are at least 5 million fewer jobs providing health insurance in 2004 than 2001. A likely contributing factor is a decline in the percentage of small employers (three to 199 workers) offering health insurance over this period. In 2004, 63% of all small firms offer health benefits to their workers, down from 68% in 2001.

“The cost of family health insurance is rapidly approaching the gross earnings of a full-time minimum wage worker,” said Drew Altman, President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

I think it speaks for itself, don't you?

There's a situation called "the straw breaking the camels back". The American family is mostly loaded up with two jobs, high mortgages, a lot of debt, and now they're being pressured because better paying jobs are harder to find and health-care costs to them are skyrocketing. People have been whinging about how this has been no big deal for a long time, but I think the staying capacity of the situation is just about exhausted. A lot of families are alreadying, quietly, folding. In the future it's going to get even tougher as the economi situation get's marginal.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Kerry Sold Out Part III: Clinton's Backstab,

Look at these graphs from the NYT:

These friends and former aides ... are agitating for the candidate himself to answer what they called the character-assassination attacks ... They are pushing for Mr. Kerry to make a dramatic statement of his own to settle voters' doubts about Mr. Kerry's Vietnam War period.

Officials in the campaign, however, including both longstanding consultants like Bob Shrum and new additions like Joe Lockhart and other veterans of the Clinton administration, have balked at such a move, saying it could be a disaster and alienate too many swing voters who would view such an approach as mean-spirited. They said Mr. Kerry would do better to concentrate on issues where he outperforms Mr. Bush in polls, like jobs and health care. [emphasis added]

One thing about Clinton I have good to say about him, he never hesitated to attack someone, though he was generally smart enough to distance himself from it. Remember during the impeachment scandal when Henry Hyde's old and very messy affair with a married woman came out? Or the number of people who just mysteriously dropped dead conveniently. I have to say, the man was a master.

Just as now he's clearly putting the dagger in the back of Kerry. One of the things that's true in politics as in life, you have to remember who your friends are - your real friends. Easy to say, but hard to do in the heat of the moment. On the balance the expertise of the Clinton handlers is outweighed in this case by their divided loyalties.

Anyone who remembers Carville, the real Carville please, has got to know that this is a complete setup. That man never backed down a day in his life, he's part bulldog - and looks it too. And let's remember he's married to Mary Maitlan, and what it takes to be a man in that marriage with that woman - no there's no way in hell this is anything other than a setup.

What about Shrum? He's just a loser. He should do sell insurance or something. But the Clinton people, they know better than this.

Look at this NYT review:
The Democrats cried foul, but of course there's no referee in politics. And neither party has a monopoly on ruthless, unscrupulous campaigning. It just seems that the Republicans are, today at least, more adept at the black art of attack politics, according to historians and flummoxed Democratic partisans.

"I don't think there's any question they're better at it than we are," said James Carville, the Democratic warrior-consultant who admitted to being envious of his Republican counterparts' merciless brand of campaigning. "But I'm fixing to do what I can to change that slightly."

As I said, let the real Carville step forward. Still Carville is clearly being handicapped. Not selling out Kerry exactly, just going less all out than his full wily cunning bulldog normal. Sad to see it and sad to see Kerry falling for it, but if he's not smart enough to listen to his real friends then there ain't nothing that can be done for him. As a friend of mine said unsolicited on the phone last night to paraphrase him, "It's impossible to discuss real stuff in a campaign. He should just say whatever it takes to get elected. If he won't, then I wish he wouldn't get my hopes up." Heh. "Help is on the way," - first help yourself John Kerry.

In life you just gotta know what people's interest are before ya trust them. For instance the oldman's interest is that he pathologically hostile toward fraudulent authority, he despises it. The second thing about the oldman is that he makes sure he's ready to go all the way before he puts the dagger in someone's back. So when I'm taking the government to the woodshed over GDP you can be sure that the oldman has dotted his i's and crossed his t's, because he's a cunning ruthless sob who's got it in for anyone caught fibbing from a podium.

I'm not your friend, but I hate it when the powerful lie and that's reason enough to know what I'm bringing you is on the up and up. More on that later. To be honest, I haven't presented it all yet because it's so blatant it's so egregious that it's shocking. Just been damned depressed over what it means for our current economic state. Had my own Soilet Green, moment - remember I used to be a proponent for the technology/IT revolution and relied on GDP numbers a fair bit in the past. What a waste. But that's life, knowing your wrong and learning from it.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Why Kerry is Losing Part II: Real War-mongering,

The conventional wisdom is usually wrong. It's not that I'm a contrarian as much as ontologician. People in the aggregate are usually simply too misinformed, too underprepared, and too easily swayed by their individual prejudices to be right most of the time. If you think about it, if this weren't true there wouldn't be a need for leadership. Leadership mostly entails cajoling large numbers of people to do exactly what they have no intention of doing, because it's the right thing for them.

No matter what else one can say about them, Republicans understand this. Democrats look in horror as Republicans dupe Americans in the aggregate into accepting policies against their direct interests. However Democrats have then expressed this revulsion by rejecting the very means of persuasion that the Republicans have employed. What they have failed to understand, is that they have failed to pay attention to their basic Classics courses.

It was first Plato, whose nickname could probably be best translated as "The Rock" in modern parlance because of his prowness in gymnasium wrestling (Yes, it's true. Before there was "The Rock" of WWWF fame, there was Plato.), who defined democracy as demagogery. Aristotle followed this up with a definitive text on the subject, dispassionately analyzing the means to seizing and securing power. You may have heard of one of Aristotle's students, his name was Alexander son of Phillip of Macedonia also known as "The Great,". This line of reasoning was reprised by both Dante and Machiavelli, of the later who bore a great notoreity as a wicked man for simply refining what the great masters before him had noted including Master Kong commonly known as Confucius.

Democracy it must be remembered is the worst system of governance, except for all others. It is not a beautiful and honorable thing. If only it were. Each of the Founding Fathers and the other great men in our history were crafty aggressive men of ruthless and cunning disposition. If they hadn't been, their opponents would have eaten them alive. Even as Democrats are being eaten alive.

The genius of democracy is to substitute social dominance conflicts for violence in power struggles. Many species have adapted this instrumental process for determining the allocation of resources such as mates and food in stylized and ritualized mannerisms that minimize but do not eliminate aggression and violence: Cocks fight, rams butt heads, giraffes whack each other with their long necks, and Presidents debate.

A truly successful Democratic President would look in tactical efforts almost indistinguihsable from the Republicans. The only distinguishing factor is that he would of necessity have to be better at it than the Republicans since they have momentum on their side. The strategic difference however would be that he too would gull the public into accepting policies they had no intention of ever embracing, but these policies would be good for the whole country. The disgust that Democrats have felt is leading them to discard the tactics because they hate the strategic goals that their opponents have chosen to pursue.

In this they have played directly into their opponents' hands. Let me wake everyone up to the harsh truth, but there was never a golden age of genteel politics. What chivalry existed, existed because of mutually assured destruction - MAD - on a political level. There were certain rules, such as the old rule that it took either a dead girl or a live boy in a politician's bed to get him into trouble. These rules didn't exist because everyone was so discrete and jolly chivalrous. It was because they were deathly afraid of being exposed in return. As a matter of fact throughout the history of American politics they did break down upon occassion, by accident or when one side became too weak to create a deterrence through potential retaliation.

Gentlemen's agreements are borne when everyone lives in glass houses. In the Feudal age, there was much about Ransoming and Yielding on the field of battle between knights. Actually, the reason why this practice existed is because family economic feudal units invested far too much time, effort, political capital, and money into the development of heirs upon whose success the entire extended family would literally rise or fall in order to risk them dying out of mutual annihilation in resource competition with other family economic feudal units. It would have destroyed the entire fabric of the social structure. So that's why the peasants were all killed out of hand, but the heirs were ransomed.

It is therefore oddly enough those who advocate a more gentle approach to politics, in what amounts to unilateral political disarmanent, that are as equally responsible for the degradation of politics as those that take advantage of their political pacificism. This is why the central argument of gun-control is not morality but compliance - if you get rid of your guns but the other side doesn't ... well in Yugoslavia the military and armed forces were overwhelmingly Serbian. And we now know what that led to after the breakup of Yugoslavia.

If someone tells you that all you need to do is explain the facts, and present the truth, and let the people decide and that the Iraq war and the economy will swing the electorate to vote for you ... well they may be a nice person, but you should also look for a big "L" on their forehead. That strategy so often advocated by so many Democrats I have heard from, is the mark of a group of losers. Furthermore these losers, as a reward for their niceness, in the future will be rounded up after the "jewification" of liberals and the rise of the psuedo-theocratic nationally socialized corporatized state that was America emerges and needs a scapegoat to justify these changes.

Do my readers think that is harsh? Do they think that is wrong?

Kindly recall that the Christian Science Monitor is not a partisan newspaper and is well regarded in general for their reporting, and they are saying the very same thing the oldman is only in much nicer terms.

from the September 09, 2004 edition

Slow shift in campaign's Iraq factor

Despite a rising death toll, the war - framed as a global defense of democracy - may be tilting in Bush's favor.

By Liz Marlantes | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON – Just a few months ago, Iraq looked like President Bush's albatross. Facing a violent insurgency, bodies of contractors being dragged through the streets of Fallujah, and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, polls showed public opinion turning sharply against the war, dragging down the president's approval ratings.

Today, however, while the violence in Iraq continues, the war has become less of a political negative - and by some measurements a positive - for Mr. Bush. Even as the US passed the 1,000-casualty mark this week, the number of voters saying it was a mistake to send troops into Iraq has dropped, and Americans now say they trust Mr. Bush on the issue more than his rival, Sen. John Kerry.

Wednesday Senator Kerry attempted to refocus the debate, linking the high cost of the war to the budget deficit. Speaking at the Cincinnati Museum Center, where Bush made his case for war back in 2002, Kerry accused the president of making "the wrong choices" in Iraq, forcing America to bear too much of the burden, and leaving fewer resources for domestic needs.

Yet for a variety of reasons, Kerry now faces an uphill battle in turning Iraq to his advantage on the campaign trail. In part, he's contending with waning public attention, as Iraq has moved out of the headlines. In recent days, for example, amid coverage of hurricane Frances, the Russian hostage crisis, and former President Clinton's heart surgery, the deaths of US soldiers got relatively little notice.

But Kerry has also struggled to clearly differentiate his position on Iraq from the president's, which has made it difficult for him to go on the attack - and made him vulnerable to charges of inconsistency when he does.

"The news from Iraq hasn't been any better [since the transfer of power]. But there has been less public attention, and that's benefited Bush," says Carroll Doherty, editor of the Pew Research Report. "The other part of the story is that Kerry was never able to exploit the issue." [emphasis added]

Part of this issue is that Kerry has never been able to publicly evince the courage of his convictions. That he has them, I have no doubt, but I also have no doubt that he has been completely incapable of communicating them. To paraphrase an old-saying, if the choice is between incompetent war-mongers and second rate imitators the American public will choose the real incompetent war-mongers every time. It's nice that Kerry is thoughtful enough to share with the nation, that if as President he would like to get the troops back in time for his 2008 re-election effort - but this is hardly a prescription to win votes because it just makes him a second rate hack at running a quagmire.

However Americans when faced with the choice of one political party who is weak enough to assent to an illegitimate war and too weak to punish the political party that pushed it, and the political party strong enough to do these henious and wastefully wrong actions will pick the political party that was strong and wrong rather than weak and wrong. It is simply human nature. In the same way, even though Bush has been grossly incompetent on the war on terror, Americans will favor him on that subject as well simply because he's shown the willingness to bully the intelligence agencies and therefore might conceivably lash them into shape.

The reason why is simple. If you are scared of someone, like UBL, and you want someone to protect you then who will you find convincing as a leader? Someone who cannot scare you or someone who can? If you are scared of someone like UBL, if a potential leader can't make you scared - then what hope does he have of making UBL quake in his boots?

It is this form of reasoning, however capricious, that inevitably leads people victimized by outsiders to pick and support otherwise odious and nasty leaders. Need we cite Sharon and Arafat? If you want to lead a people, if you want to convince them that you can make their enemies fear them, then you've got to be one nasty customer - an "our bastard," sort of thing.

The same thing on the economy. The American people aren't completely clueless. But who are they going to believe has greater ability to rein in and control ruthless corporate interests? Bush who demands tribute from them in taxes and is willing to control their purse strings with obvious rewards and punishments (and Bush has punished certain corporate interests of that have no doubt - Enron and the airplane industry are two of them)? Or John Kerry who appears so wishy washy that he couldn't even hit back when Zell Miller got up and called him a traitor for running against Bush? When you're in a lawsuit, you want the meanest nastiest most selfish lawyer you can get your hands on. Even if you know he's going to rape you on charges or cut himself a piece of the action on the side. Because it's better than getting a nice lawyer who will be nice to you but you'll end up with nothing in the end.

Obviously in the best of all worlds, people would like to have a Perry Mason on their side. But people will take what they can get.

It is for this reason, just as the sentiment on the war is turning against Democrats that people will fail to use to economy's troubles to oust Bush. If you are waiting for "the facts" to rescue you, don't hold your breath. Either you are willing to do what it takes to win, and by which I do not mean emulate the incompentent fumbling modern Republican movement, or you are not.

That is what matters, because if you don't have power you can't do any good at all. This is a lesson that the oldman has learned late in life, after foolishly turning away from power himself, and all it did was let unscrupulous and wicked fools get it for themselves. Don't make the same mistake. I thought I was doing something good by turning my back on ruthless competition to be an idealistic science teacher. As it turned out, I merely ceded the field to idiots and dupes and confidence men. Now, late in life, I must turn back to do my part to prevent some truly terrible history from happening.

Life is tough, so get tougher and win.

Reader Update: Former Technical Difficulties,

As it turned out, I did take some time off from posting to redigest and reanalyze my data. It is always worth an extra notch of caution in order to review one's forecasts, because they are inherently subject to blindspots. The final result however is identical to the original in the main respects of everything I have laid out, because inevitably the corrections began canceling each other out. It is this tendency for random-walk issues and fine grain resolution details to cancel each out or converge tightly to mean values that makes stochastic analysis possible. When it does not, then one certainly has non-linear and potentially chaotic mathematical conditions.

However the current situation out into the foreseeable future of several decades is in its main points still stochastically predictable as regarding basic economic and financial truths. It is therefore in the domain of the actuary and the CPA, if they were brave enough to be honest, and knowable enough that one could write insurance policies against it if one were cynical enough to make a profit on it. I look forward to sharing these details with you all.

My return to posting has been delayed for technical reasons as well. Blogger did not let my Tuesday post get updated to my weblog until today. I am not sure if the technical difficulties with blogger publication will continue, as episodes such as this have happened in the past. I may if publication interruptions from technical reasons continue, move this blog to "movable type-pad" which I understand is a major competitor as a blogger venue.

Rest assured however that in the next few days the content I've been composing will barring technical difficulties and acts of God or terrorism or national security be once again streaming to your web-browser.

I also humbly ask the forgiveness of all the persons I have tongue-lashed or will tongue-lash in coming days, some of them quite good people and readers of mine. It is tough love, or at least the oldman's version of it. If you guys are going to put together a winning coalition and save this country, someone has got to help getting you into shape to govern. Because Democrats and liberals aren't there yet. So I hope you'll continue reading, even if it's you I'll be critiquing.

Yours,

oldman

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Kerry is losing, and so he's getting sold out

Hi all,

Sorry for the extended break from posting but work matters have come up with a vengeance and in addition while I am rather pleased with the information I have come up with on GDP accounting fraudulence it is not an easy matter to compose accessible posts from it. Composition design and layout with this new subject is therefore of necessity greater than previously. While you all take a break from the oldman however, I thought that I'd let you know that I was still alive and state something that should be obvious if it were only not for the emotional baggage we bring to this issue.

That issue is simply that Kerry is losing. I'm not just talking about the new polls. As a matter of fact, they are only the tip of the iceberg. A more important factor is tracking the sell-outs. In the history of any organizational endeavour, there is a goal if not a vision. There are also the core group of true-believers and the coalition of those allied out of convenience. At any given stage, when the endeavour begins taking on water there are always those who begin hedging their bets or switching their allegiances or ensuring their escape routes.

The defection of the allied coalition weakens the support of the endeavour and hastens its final demise. The sell-outs of course, are not always correct. Anyone who walked away from Bill Clinton after Gennifer Flowers or GWB after New Hampshire or GHWB after Iowa would have been making a drastic mistake. It is therefore important to distinguish a few paniced defectiosn from a major deterioration of support. On the other hand, hesitating to recognize such a mass defection of support when it occurs is a death kneel, because it is only in the early stages of such a defection that it is reversible.

In addition, a mass defection by itself need not even if unstaunched need not predict accurately failure. For instance, Truman came back to win from Dewey. However there are certain rules. The rules include that a comeback from behind can be made when one does not require the support of those who defect to achieve victory. The fact that Albert Einstein did not get a mainstream academic posting after his education was no bar to his later victory over those that had passed over him as a lackluster student.

If one does come back from behind, it is necessary also to build momentum and to close the gap. It is possible to come back from behind, and a hair's breadth from the finish line pass over the lead runner. It is not generally possible to come back from behind and pass by the leader when one is at the absolute rear of the pack and the gap is too great to be humanly closed in time. And it is always helpful if you face an opponent who does not finish you when they have the chance.

Machiavelli wrote, men must be cajoled or they must be crushed. For men will avenge themselves for even slight injuries, but having been ruthlessly destroyed they have no ability to affect revenge in return. So therefore if one engages in a campaign with an opponent, one must either bring him to capitulate completely or one must annihilate them. In such a manner the Romans conducted their foreign policy when it was successful, not attempting to evade a conflict today that would come to them unawares tomorrow but trusting in their own resolution and strength of arms over fortune.

So wrote Machiavelli, and his words ring true today as ever. This was Dean's great mistake. Remember at one point, Dean was riding high in the polls and he chose to stay the course and attempt to husband his lead. It was a failed policy, for the other candidates joined in concert to bring him down. I remember being in the local Iowa Dean campaign headquarters and listening to the young, and foolish, individuals there. They told me that the Kerry supporters were the nastiest, and I knew that Kerry would start gaining on Dean. I saw the Dean commercials, which were truly awful, and I knew Dean would lose ground. I heard from people was I was canvassing houses for promises to vote for Dean, and I saw that he wasn't reaching people outside his base and I knew that Dean's level of support had hit a ceiling. I came back with news that Kerry and Edwards were being talked up and there was a lot of energy out there for them, and in the campaign headquarters I was treated like a pariah for telling them the unpleasant truth.

I did not hesitate then to see the truth and recognize it, and I do not hesitate now. Dean's mistake is that he failed to crush and finish off his opponents when he was high in the polls. I think the Iowa example is misleading for Democrats because they tell me that Kerry is a closer, that he sprints at the end. It is true, but it is also a disasterously bad habit. Because you can not always come back from behind to upset your opponnent. If you are behind then you must do it, but it is better to crush your opponent early and leave him in turn unable to come back from his defeat to upset you.

It is also not to be forgotten, and many Democrats have forgotten this, that GWB himself is a "closer". He too is used to coming back from behind. He came back from behind to destroy McCain. He came back from behind, to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat from Gore. And here Kerry is not Kerry, Kerry is Dean and Bush is Kerry. Bush was behind. Bush then reconsolidated his base of support.

It was something I watched with forboding as far back as Reagan's passage. That point was the nadir of Bush's fall in his support, and since then he has moved upwards. The lead was Kerry's. It wasn't a large lead, but it was a lead. Then Kerry failed to destroy his opponent, to press home his advantage, while he had the chance. I wish to hear no excuses, because I can tell you that Bush will not fail to press home his advantage. Now that he has gained the upper hand, he will do absolutely everything in his power to destroy Kerry.

It is for this reason that the players, the elites of the world, have shifted their bets. While Bush was under, they were happy to hedge against him. They noted with dispassion, even as I have noted it, that Kerry failed to consolidate his lead by being utterly ruthless enough to destroy Bush while he had the advantage. Now the pendulum has swung in the other direction, and they like I for at heart I have always been and always will be one of them in gut and sinew and twitching nerve, well we all know that Bush will be utterly without mercy in finishing off Kerry.

It has begun already.

It is for this reason that publications like the Economist have begun shifting their tone, even printing outright unfactual propaganda. While they thought that Bush was weakened, they did not hesitate to criticize him. Now that he is become ascendent once more, they know they must live after the election in a world where power and authority and access will be controlled by an utterly rabid Republican party machine. Therefore they must safeguard their future by getting in good now with the guy who looks like he will come up on top.

Perhaps Democrats will find my statement rather repugnant and that the Economist is not after all a liberal orgnaization, so how representative could it be? Well the article above is not the only example from the Economist, and any doubters should consider that PBS is now positioning itself for a Republican victory. Yes, PBS.

These were not themselves the first warning signs. There has been much comment about the strangeness of McCain's, literal, embrace of GWB and throwing his support behind GWB's reelection campaign. Since McCain is highly regarded among moderates and independents, this was a blow for the Kerry campaign. However we must look at the details to suss out the exact degree of the damage. You see McCain could have offered many varying shades of support. The support he chose to offer publicly was full bore literal embracement of GWB.

What is going on here? Well the logic is simple. McCain still wants to be President. In 2008, the Republicans do not have a clearly defined national leader capable of ascending to the Presidency. In 2000, McCain tried to run as an outsider and was beat by the candidate supported by the party machinery against the establishment candidate Bush. He has already tried winning as an outsider, and could not. The price of the party support in 2008, was his unmitigated embrace of GWB now. The RNC in turn felt that supporting McCain in 2008 was necessary to consolidate Republican political controll in the fall of 2004 and therefore they needed McCain enough to assent.

This is all very well, except that McCain is not a simple partisan hack or power hungry politician but a man of real depth and accomplishment. He is also friends with John Kerry. This move could have only been made in the calculation that Kerry would be unable to win, because both I and McCain knows that the RNC would not honor any deal that left them losers in November. They're not that honorable.

Furthermore, I have seen Clinton position himself for a Kerry loss recently. I will not bore you with the details, but in a classic Clintonian split-hedge manuveur he is simultaneously positioning himself for a possible Kerry victory by sending his aides to dominate Kerry's campaign and therefore his possible future Presidency but coolly calculating that Kerry will not win and therefore holding back his personal support. The reason is simple. Clinton is no Al Gore. He is a winner. And he knows to embrace the loser is to lose face. Just as Al Gore embraced Howard Dean just in time to destroy even more of his political capital, and just as McCain is embracing literally GWB we can see the conspicuous absence of Clinton embracing Kerry or even campaigning hard for him.

Some would argue however that Clinton is merely honoring Kerry's wishes as he did Gore's or merely being Presidential. Why is it then that Clinton purposely dropped a poison pill in Kerry's ear? Well you see, Clinton like McCain must look past 2004 to 2008. In 2008, Hilary can run against McCain and after another four more disasterous years of a Bush Presidency the country might be sick of enough of Republicans to embrace even Hilary Clinton who has zero personal charisma. I'm not suggesting that Clinton is willing to sell out his party just to get his wife into power, though some would. I'm merely suggesting that Clinton is ready to deep-six a weak Kerry Presidency in favor of a strong Hillary Presidency, and according to the rules of the game if Kerry is stupid enough to take such poison pill advice he's not strong enough to be President anyway.

If any of you doubt my interpretation, let us remember Bill's own words. People prefer a leader who is strong and wrong, rather than one who is weak and right. Clinton in his classic uber-competitive fashion is testing John Kerry's fitness to be President. He is on one hand, providing assistance to Kerry through his former aides and on the other putting in a trap of bad advice. If Kerry is foolish enough to listen to the advice, he is doomed to fail anyway. At the same time, he is positioning Hillary for a 2008 run. This sort of split response between public action and private motivation and discrete hedging is not just limited to Bill Clinton.

The same has been true about leaders around the world. While in private they might tell John Kerry they might prefer him, in public they are positioning themselves to be on the right side of a Republican November victory. Most of the moves have taken place in the last few weeks, but Kerry's coalition is fracturing and the rats are leaving the sinking ship. It is fracturing domestically and it is fracturing internationally. While they might all like John Kerry, they must go on living in a world that is increasingly to their estimation dominanted by the probability of a Republican victory - and these calculations for the most part were conducted and acted on before the convention.

Most Democrats were taken by surprise by the convention shift in the poll standings. I was not. The convention did not give GWB a boost. The convention a showcase to show the public that GWB's star was rising again, and therefore the weak or marginally committed began to understand that they had better switch their allegiance to the winner. Whomsoever counts on popular support courts a fickle mistress, for like many women she will cling to the stronger though the weaker seek to please her more. There are things that can make a leader lose popular support, but the cardinal sin is weakness.

It is not too late for Kerry to win, but he must understand that he is now again the underdog. He must also understand that Bush and co. will not relent until he is totally discredited and politically destroyed. The Republicans are positioning themselves not just for a tight November victory, but pushing for a relative "landslide" - a Democratic vote thrown back onto just core states.

When Dean fell from grace, many withdrew their support from him which accelerated his loss. By tightening his belt and reorganizing his campaign he battled through long after many thought he would concede. Yet he was never able to make a comeback, and one of the reasons was that Kerry did not make the mistake of relaxing. He pushed hard to defeat Dean again and again, denying him any victory whatsover until Dean was crushed and forced to effectively give up. GWB will seek to do the same to Kerry, now that Kerry has missed his chance to do in GWB in turn.

When I spoke up, rather more discretely, about these factors in the local Dean campaign headquarters I was instantly turned into a persona non grata. What Democrats have to understand is that what makes you an elite, a true elite, is knowing what it takes to win. One can call it gaming the system, being a power player, or whatever. I believe we have a lot of selfishly short-sighted and policy-wise idiotic elites. However, they do know what it takes to win. They also happen to be mostly backing Bush.

And the shift for some has been rather recent. Yes, they will tell you that they are distancing themselves from the Bush campaign. Yes, some may be disgusted with the Bush policy implementation domestically or overseas. But they know that if they want to stay players, at the very least they must not support Kerry and some know they will have to embrace Bush.

So far what these past two years have taught me personally, is that Democrats are not yet ready to win. There are a few, like Ian, but most just aren't ready. Part of the reason why they're not ready is that they can't conceive of any other way to be ruthless other than being like the Republicans. Frankly I wish somebody like Johnson was running on the Democratic ticket.

As Johnson once said, he didn't trust a man unless he had that man's pecker in his pocket. The best blackmail is always the truth. The fact that the Republicans are having to resort to made up lies to crush their opponents is part of why I oppose them - because they clearly aren't competent enough to destroy their opponents fair and square. I look down on the modern Republican party because I think it is weak and incompetent, and therefore has no other resort than to run on lies and fabrications.

However it has become clear that while well intentioned the Democratic party is even weaker which is why they're still losing. If you're one of the Democrats out there who still believe that merely focusing on facts and policy will win you this election, and you can't think of any way to go nuclear on your opponent except by emulating the Republicans then you're unfortunately one of the well intentioned but not ready to win Democrats I'm talking about.

I'm not stating that to be cruel, but because I want you to be winners. I think you can be winners. But first you have to grow up. It used to be said that the Republican party was the party of grown-ups. That is no longer true. They simply have become weak-minded fools who will win at any cost. However the only way to beat them is for the Democratic party to become the party of grown-ups. Being grown-up means living in the "real world" which is the world of competition and unfair bosses or electorates and knowing that someone who is not nearly as good as you are can win out by gaming the system - and then learning how to crush them utterly and ruthlessly all so you can merely get what was rightfully yours in the first place.

This is the real world. Get used to it. Learn how to be winners, and send GWB back to Crawford.

If Kerry does pull things together, be sure that I will acknowledge his come back. However at this point, I'm not seeing what it takes to win and I'm not afraid to say it - just as even I wasn't afraid to say it when the Deanites were losing their campaign.

In the meantime I look forward to presenting my GDP fraudulence results, and hope to convince doubters using information culled directly from government releases that it really is that blatant and obvious. I will for those truly interested in learning how to be truly ruthless and win, be posting some more of my philosophy of the "real world". Until then, I hope the rest of you enjoy a very nice Indian summer.