Wednesday, November 03, 2004

G-Man's pre election thoughts

G-man sent to me a very long piece right after the debates in which he was arguing that there is a good possibility of what did happen last night would happen. We kept the piece off the blog because it needed a little bit of work, but here it is, retrospectively. I am also attaching an addendum that he sent to me this morning. I have made no changes from this point onwards:

The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be
untrue. And then when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts
so as to show that we were right." -- George
Orwell

A Sweep that Meant
Little

After three debates in which John Kerry not only
displayed presidential timber, but also seemingly dismantled much of the GOPs
attempt to frame him as a waffler and a war coward…after three debates in which
Bush shocked and awed his base with a horrible first outing, and then followed
up with two other performance which, if improved, were still peppered with the
sort of inexplicable mental and linguistic farts that no federal candidate for
any office but W. would ever get away with, I score the debate perception game 3
to 0 for Kerry, with one big win followed by two very small
ones.

His reward? In the immediate aftermath of the debates
national polls revealed a boost (or at least a maintained lead) for Bush where
it counts.

· USATODAY/CNN/GALLUP had
Bush up by eight in likely voters.

·
NEWSWEEK had Bush up by six for likely
voters.

· ZOGBY which I trust the
most based on past performance, has Bush up by two (but four just a little while
ago.

· Washington Post Tracking Poll
had Bush up by 4.

· Rasmussen, which
is a tracking poll, has Bush by two.

First, for you Kerry
partisans, spare me the results of polls paid for by the party okay? Yes I
know that across the battleground states, in aggregate, Kerry has a lead.
But you don’t win based on aggregate sets of states, you win state by
state. And yes I know the “cell phone only” folks aren’t counted, and I
know all polls are just samples, and that despite the fact that a lot of them
are in agreement, this could be due to inherent bias in the sampling
methodologies they share. And of course, I know that it’s not over yet and
Kerry might still win.

But I don’t think so. Look, he
basically won 3-0 and the polls did not respond, and because of this, I believe
we are going to lose this election. And given our current national polling
results, I don’t know why anyone thinks that after the Waffle House and Swift
Boat initiatives, and the upcoming “Stolen Honor” initiative at
Sinclair
that anyone believes that Rove is out of tricks to continue to chip away at
those at dullard-or –just-dishonest undecided voters

A
Possible Reason Why


The main mechanism responsible for the
race’s latest turn appears to be that “grotesque process of self-deception” that
Mark Twain so aptly described in the
Mysterious
Stranger
. To me the post-debate poll results were a resounding “clack”
certifying the completion of the furious activity of gears and wheels in the
minds of undecided or uncertain GOP voters; allowing them to finally rationalize
their continued support for another term for a man they love to love, in a way
that will enable to sleep comfortably after election day. Considering the
constant stream of information on the failures of the administration in terms of
its assessment and subversion of intelligence about the threat of Iraq, the lack
of post invasion planning, the collapse of the case on WMD, the yet to be
admitted zero relationship between the Baathists and al-Qaeda, an eroding
security situation on the ground, and the constant casualty reports, it must
have been a Herculean effort, or perhaps a Triumph of the Will.

In
wondering about what the true nature of this process, I sometimes fancy that it
has a lot to do with religious undertones. After all why would a person at
the bottom of the income scale knowingly support policies that will advantage
the rich with little, zero, or negative benefits for themselves? I suppose
some folks are “one issue wonders” and, for example, “just hate taxes.”
Others may support the GOP in order to ensure jobs in certain sectors – i.e.
oil, coal, and military/industrial production in their state. And for some
I’m sure it’s just a “sports” thing, where the voter has all the objectivity of
a die-hard NFL fan. But these items can’t account for everything,
especially among female and black voters with which Bush has made gains.
So what could it be then? Just his personality? Actually, I think
religion has a lot to do with it.

If you are poor, the idea that
there is a better life after death is appealing, especially if you have few
options available to improve your current one. Perhaps the process,
rational in its own way, goes something like this. I could benefit myself
economically now by voting for Kerry, or I could save my soul from eternal
damnation (or at least achieve eternal life) by voting for Bush. Assuming
one’s life is really eternal in heaven, and assuming one enjoys an eternal
stream of benefits from being in a heavenly state, that kind of position is hard
to argue with from a cost-benefit standpoint, with or without the time value of
money (is heaven timeless).

But of course, to exploit such a belief
politically, you have to attach your political positions to the pearly gates in
way that serves, but does not interfere with your interests. An economic
policy designed directly and comprehensively on the quotations of Jesus would be
extraordinarily inconvenient to the interests that support the GOP. Better
to choose or manufacture less threatening issues from religion – like requiring
school kids to begin their day mechanically mumbling a generic prayer,
triumphantly installing faux iron plaques of the ten commandments on federal
buildings, providing an alternative to evolution in science class, banning
abortion, and banning stem cells. Issues that will tangentially but
effectively harness the holy aura of Jesus, rather than acknowledge what he said
about Caesar, the poor, and the meek.

Whether you really
believe that W. attempts to channel the Lord
earnestly or cynically
(read and judge for yourself), his administration works this angle well.
As for me, I happen to believe George W. Bush believes in God, while at the same
time I in no way believe that Dick Cheney does, although I think he finds
religious conventions useful. If any reader doubt this encourage them to
read up on one of Cheney’s favored philosophers,
Leo
Strauss
. I think rationalizing Strauss with the New Testament would be
rather difficult.

My Preferred “W win”
Scenario

So here is my idea to preserve the
republic. If W. wins, let’s hope for a GOP sweep. Let’s hope the
retain sole possession of control and responsibility. Let’s keep our name
off this project.

Let us then bear witness to what Bush/Cheney
would accomplish unfettered by an uncooperative Senate or House, allied with a
friendly Supreme Court (4 slots are expected to be up for grabs in the near
future). Let Bush/Cheney continue what they started, the mighty
transformation of this great nation to their own libertarian ideal, perhaps
coated with a thin veneer of religiosity.

Now of course,
such a transformation would involve the continued shifting of economic income
and wealth away from the poor and middle class, and to the upper deciles of our
economy, and to offshore economies as well. But I actually don’t think
that will cause the GOP any serious political problems as long as enough of
their base voters stay carefully tuned to their preferred propaganda providers,
as long as the holy aura is maintained, and as long as employment and income of
the middle and lower classes in key states doesn’t fall too
far.

But on the other hand, no one likes surprises, and unpleasant
surprise will be this nation’s eventual salvation.

Because we
should expect Bush/Cheney to *continue* to heap enormous health, security,
environmental, and economic risk on the individual heads of the non-rich.
This shifting of risk will be even less detectable than the shifting of wealth
and income…at first.

And I say, if W. wins, let them do
it. Let the country find it’s inner 19th century. Neuter the
EPA. Neuter the Highway Safety Administration. Neuter the Energy
Department. Neuter the FDA. Cancel the unfair cost burden of local
restaurant inspections on the small business man.

But don’t
stop there. Dismantle the social safety net – public health insurance for
the aged and poor, regulation of private insurance policies, unemployment
insurance, old age insurance, and disability. Get rid of it all, it’s completely
incompatible with the core principles behind the W. façade. Let the
“compassionate stuff” be handled by the governments new helper, The Church, via
a stream of funds with no accountability for use or results.

Let
the risks pile up. And then, sit back in a chair with some popcorn, and
watch them eventuate with me. Because folks, that’s the only way this
public is going to learn. As J.R.R. Tolkien’s Gandalf once said, “The
burnt hand teaches best, after that, advice about fire goes to the heart!”

Surprise!

It will take a wide scale
loss of blood, money, and life for the public to really understand the
implications of Bush/Cheney-style “freedom.” If the choice is between a
long slow political defeat over 50 years with millions of economic (and actual)
casualties occur over and the dissipation of some of the most precious
foundations and institutions of this country vs. a total political defeat
followed by a collapse, followed by the restoration of the great things that
underpin this nation, then I prefer the latter -- a principled sacrifice to
ensure that future generations can enjoy what’s best about our
nation.

And no, I’m not looking to score some snotty sense of
Schadenfreude, too many innocents would actually suffer, and of course many of
those responsible would not – there is no grim satisfaction in that, only
sadness.

My preferred scenario has come true, and then some. Not only did theyhold power, they increased the margins of power. This will lead to anincreased margin in the SC as well. To me any idea of a revolution within the GOP against Bush is now dead.There will be no alliances between "moderate wings" now. Bush andcompany stand supreme. So expect the following over the next fouryears: (1) The continued dismantling of the social safety net, governmentregulations, and the shrinking of the public sector in general. (2) The erosion of rule based, institutional, and traditional checks andbalances holding such policies back. Ex: funding cuts for the GAO. (3) A new thought last night - the elimination of publicly producedinformation -- i.e. the scope and coverage of the census, the economic,and employment statistical programs of the BLS, and especially (actuallythe canary in the information coal mine for me), the collection ofenvironmental protection data. These will be axed in the name ofcutting costly bureaucracy -- one by one, our ability to gauge what'shappening will go out. As I pointed out to you during our hour longconversation, information is not useful for those who already feel theyknow what is right. It is an inconvenience to idealogically baseddecision making.


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