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.


At September 8, 2004 at 11:27 PM, Blogger orc said...

I'm not quite so sure Kerry is losing. He's not exactly _winning_, but the way the Bush junta is acting doesn't seem like they're facing a candidate they know is losing. They seem to be pulling out quite a lot of stops right now, from the Piranha brothers style protection racket threats coming from Cheney to bringing in the Pentagon; I'd think that if Kerry was losing, what they'd want to do is to let his support attrit, then bring out the mega-smears as a closer when it's much closer to the election.

The risk of seeming to go full-out (like it looks now) is that they might invite a press backlash, which would not exactly help them out in the parts of the United States that get their news from someone other than Fox.

At September 8, 2004 at 11:31 PM, Blogger Oldman said...

Perhaps it's a difference in terminology. What you describe I would say is someone who has already lost. While losing to me connotates that they're behind but not yet lost the contest, and thus the need to pull out all the stops to destroy one's opponent and ensure their defeat. You're quite right, Kerry isn't finished yet. However he is behind, and Bush will try to finish him off.

At September 9, 2004 at 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to disagree, although maybe it's because I have 48 hrs. hindsight over this post (will read more above). Remember that Clinton and Kerry represent opposite factions within their party, so I think you're completely misreading this issue. If anything, Kerry's reorganization shows that these two factions are joining forces.

And PBS has already been bought out.

But let's look at the numbers: Bush's bounce came mostly from states he was never going to lose anyway. At his peak, he still wasn't pulling in 270 EV (never got above 220 in the bank), and his numbers have already begun to snap back.

Most tellingly, Bush got a negative bounce in all but two battleground states, which means he turned people off at the convention. Go figure. In 2000, Bush survived a late surge by Gore (or didn't). Now, Bush has to worry about his base and is turning off moderates.

GOP add buys are 10 times bigger than Dem.'s, but are almost entirely in states not in play. Kerry and Edwards continue to campaign in states Bush should win.

This, more than any one slice of how the story's playing today, tells me Bush is at a high ebb, unless history repeats itself at the debates.

Now the Dem.'s have begun to attack Bush's mythological qualities that play so well with his base. That's easy, since he is literally the opposite of his image. Also, this kind of targetted negative campaigning might not have the usual effect of depressing turnout, except in the South and West.

Bush simply has too many weaknesses, and his guys can only sit on the press for so long.

At September 9, 2004 at 5:15 PM, Blogger Travis said...

The Daily Show evicerates Bush every night. They evicerate Kerry every other day. And they don't need to make shit up - aside from jokes, of course. No one can smell weakness like a good comedian. If a TV show on basic cable can do that four nights a week, why can't Kerry's campaign be as effective. It doesn't have to be funny but it can be angry. Humor is proactive. Anger is proactive. Passiveness is great if your a Jedi. They didn't make very good politicians though. I think we all know what happens to all of them in Episode III.

At September 10, 2004 at 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not happy with the Kerry campaign, but I still think Kerry can pull it out. He's a dangerous man who knows how to fight and the people he's brought on from the Clinton camp are exactly the people he needs. I'd be happier if he was to go nuclear. Now. There isn't a lot of time left and he needs to come from behind and then burry Bush.

In warfare they call it "having the initiative". Kerry needs to get the initiative - to force Bush to react to what Kerry is doing, rather than the other way around.

At September 12, 2004 at 4:26 PM, Blogger J Thomas said...

When I look back at the main theme here, the examples seem to fit it but they could fit other interpretations too. Like, Clinton might give Kerry bad advice whether Kerry is winning or not. Economist and PBS might give in to Bush blackmail if there's a rasonable chance that Bush will win, provided that Kerry doesn't threaten them too. And Kerry wouldn't be in as good a position to threaten them even if he was ahead. Maybe Bush's people ratcheted up the threats recently.

I don't know much about politics, but couldn't the Bush regime go after McCain with threats as well as promises? If McCain does too little for Bush and Bush loses, the Bush people could make a big deal about how he was disloyal and lost us the presidency, and make it hard from him to win the nomination in 2008. It makes sense to me that they'd offer threats and call in past favors than promise him the nomination. They probably have somebody else in mind for the nomination. And if they were going to give him that, why not let Cheney plead health reasons to resign and put McCain in as vicepresident? That would mean a lot more than a promise, and it would have helped the ticket too. Either Bush didn't want McCain for vicepresident or McCain didn't want the spot. Maybe he figured 4 years as Bush's vice wouldn't help him win in 08?

So McCain playing along doesn't have to mean he thought Bush was very likely to win. None of it does, though it could be true.

What event would get important people to change their minds about the chances before the convention? The only public one that comes to mind for me is the Najaf fiasco. The US army failed. Sadr is alive and loose, his murder warrant is withdrawn, and he's been offered a place in government. Everything he asked for except all the american troops out of the country. The US is seen by shiites around the world as the country that destroyed a big part of the holy city of Najaf and that came very close to ordering attacks on the shrine. For those costs, all we got was the chance to kill a few thousand insurgents (voters) who wanted to protect the shrine from us.

And it didn't cost Bush anything. Maybe that persuaded important people that Bush couldn't lose?

Or maybe some secret VIP somewhere simply told the other secret VIPs that he'd made up his mind, and that decided it? No connection to public events?

Let's say that Oldman has a finely tuned detector for defeat, and over time we might learn to recognise the signs too. What does it tell us (or Kerry) to do now? Kerry should be smart and aggressive and mean and ruthless -- but he shouldn't be ruthless the same exact way as the republicans. If he's behind he should hit hard and get ahead. If he's running mostly even he should hit hard and get ahead. If he's ahead he should hit hard and crush the opposition.

So if there's something he should do different depending on whether Oldman thinks he's ahead or behind, it's something subtle. The main thing is he should hit hard and not act the way he's been acting.

At September 13, 2004 at 1:09 AM, Blogger calmo said...

Of course, I'm hoping that the ball game is not over for Kerry.
Not over despite the Republicans owning the major media outlets, not merely PBS.
I'm hoping that the political and economic events in the next month will deteriorate to the point that more newspapers like The Boston Globe can tell us like it is: Bush has to go.
Count on an escalation of fighting in Iraq. Count on an escalation in the price of crude. Count on continuing downward pressure on the stock market. Count on continuing 'soft spots' in consumer demand and constrained shoppers.
Maybe the corporate sponsorship is leaving Kerry, I don't know. The sagging car sales are telling me, at best, folks are not confident, now . And at worst, that they don't see how they could possibly afford a new car under present circumstances.
Let's say we have a different opinion about the recent course of events.

At September 13, 2004 at 10:19 AM, Blogger J Thomas said...

Calmo, I'm sure the fighting will escalate in iraq but the media don't have to report it much.

The price of crude oil may keep going up, but the price of gasoline will probably hold steady or keep going down.

There was a story that the saudis promised Bush they'd bring oil prices down for the election. Unless they're sure he'll win anyway, why should they? He's broken every promise he made them except to move most of the troops out of SA. They complained about the pictures of israeli airstrikes on palestinian towns; he promised to settle things there. Instead saudi TV shows pictures of american airstrikes on iraqi towns in between the palestinian pictures.

So instead, our refiners are producing more gasoline and less heating oil. They can keep gas prices down until the election, and then when there's a heating oil shortage next winter the election will be over. (Unless we get an unusually cold October.)

I don't think there's much of any way to make the economy look healthy for the next two months. But there's a war on, and Bush can claim it isn't his fault, and some voters will believe him.

I dunno. It looks close to me, barring vote fraud. Maybe if Kerry did a better job it wouldn't be close and he'd have coattails that could bring in more senators and representatives. We'll see.

At September 20, 2004 at 8:40 PM, Blogger calmo said...

J --Do you have any idea how much more gasoline is consumed than heating oil? Maybe you live in Alaska and think that it might be close.
It ain't. And the crude supply is beset with political problems. No, I see a dip into the reserves to just meet the supply problem. The economic numbers like Iraq can be spun or ignored but the reality is a different ball game. Those folks who were counting on their house appreciating another 15% are being dissappointed. We are seeing that disappointment in the spending numbers. Is it a soft spot? Or the beginning of a soft line? Another month of these trends should be enough to wake the apathetic vote up to vote for change.

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