Friday, September 02, 2016

The recriminations are already starting

I can always sense the moment when a campaign turns sour and becomes nearly unrecoverable. So can many of you, I'm betting.

Hillary will probably lose this election because she cannot seize the narrative and she cannot rewrite the story that was written about her. A couple of posts ago, this blog predicted that the polls will turn against her before another week has passed. If -- when -- that happens, she may not be able to bounce back.

If this site were more widely-read I would not say these words, for fear of depressing the Democratic vote. But a niche site can afford brutal honesty.

The recriminations have already started. I've seen 'em, mostly in various comments published on left-wing sites. (The formal "blame Hillary" articles will not appear until September 6 or 7.) Sorry, but I can't provide you with any links; didn't bookmark. Here's the gist, from memory: Hillary ran a bad campaign in 2008, and she's doing it again. The money she's raising is going to television commercials and ground game, neither of which are going to affect the narrative.

There is both truth and untruth in this.

The untruth lies in the characterization of the 2008 effort: When the entire media decided in favor of Obama, when everyone smeared her character, when every talking head on teevee shouted "Fall down, you bitch!" -- Hillary found her inner populist firebrand. Suddenly she kept winning and winning and winning.

The last stretch of the 2008 primary season was a marvel, a come-from-behind near-victory that most of our pundit class has always refused to acknowledge. They had pegged Obama as The People's Choice and they didn't like any challenges to their preferred narrative. More than that: They could not confess that just a girl could fight. Hillary refused to fall down. She proved that she could stay on her feet no matter how many punches slammed into her.

We need more of that 2008 fighting populist underdog spirit right now, not less.

Nevertheless, it is true: The money Hillary has raised is being spent in the wrong places.

(Side note: Why are people bragging about the amount she raised? Yep, the total comes to $143 million. But only $62 million will go to her own campaign; the rest will seep downticket. Trump raised $80 million and it's all his, baby.)

We've entered a new campaign age. Unfortunately, too many "pros" remind me of the old saying about generals preparing to fight the previous war.

You know why Trump hasn't spent on teevee or ground game? Because those things no longer matter the way they used to. What matters is social media. What matters is mounting a troll army that launches a coordinated message relentlessly -- and not just on lefty websites.

The palpable lack of Clinton trolls is one of the reasons why I'm predicting a Trump win. In the internet age, the battle is my troll army versus your troll army.

What matters most of all is regaining control of the narrative.

Yes, Hillary needs to mount a proper refutation of the Foundation and email smears. But more than that, she needs to attack. Attack attack attack. If you're defending, you're losing.

My suggestion? Trump's mob ties. Focus on that.

Those ties are quite real; anyone who looks into the matter will have a hard time crying "smear." And no-one can claim that the issue is not legitimate. If Clinton had those kinds of mafia links in her background, we'd be hearing about them every time we turned on cable news.

Surrogates and trolls and fellow Dems should spend at least three days pounding that message no matter what: Trump is mobbed up. Trump is mobbed up. Trump is mobbed up. It's sexy, it's significant, it captures the imagination, and it can be easily understood by even the dumbest dummies in Dummyland. That message ties into every southerner's stereotyped view of corrupt New Yorkers.

Don't let up. The opposing team will smirk. They'll try to refute. They will say "You're desperate." When you hear that nervous laughter of derision, you're winning. Don't let up.

Dems in Congress should talk about investigating Trump's mob ties. Signal that if Trump wins, he'll face incessant probes -- and unlike the Whitewater debacle, these probes will have a basis in reality. Even Trump's fans know, deep in their hearts, that this guy has engaged in a lifetime's worth of chicanery. Let the public understand just what kind of hell awaits.

Every time Trump says "Crooked Hillary," Democrats should call him "Mafia Don."

Teevee should be a part of the mix, but only a part. And for chrissakes, the ads should not be slick. No After Effects, no color correction, and no swooshy transitions between shots. Straight cuts; raw footage; white text on a black background. The ads should be as fast, cheap, thuggish and primal as a hundred-dollar hit man.

The Putin factor. The Russian leader denies hacking the DNC even as he winkingly offers a between-the-lines confession:
"Listen, does it even matter who hacked this data?’’ Putin said in an interview at the Pacific port city of Vladivostok on Thursday. “The important thing is the content that was given to the public."
Imagine if Khruschev had said in 1963: "Listen, does it even matter who killed Kennedy? The important thing is that we now have a chance for a fresh start." That statement would be tantamount to a signature, right?

Putin understands this, and he understands that we understand. He's no dummy.

Now, Donald Trump is a dummy: When he says something that reveals more than intended, he remains unaware of the message he has conveyed via subtext. Hell, Trump doesn't even know what the word "subtext" means. But when Putin denies responsibility for the DNC hack (and for the upcoming October Surprise, which will consist of made-in-Russia forgeries), he is not only lying, he knows that we know he is lying.

And so he winks at us. In essence, he is saying: "I DEFINITELY DID not do IT."

If you can't decode his real message, you're an idiot.

Putin underlines his signature when he makes a transparent play for sympathy from the BernieBots who are still high on Hill-Hate, and who still believe that the "liberated" DNC emails revealed a plot against Bernie. In fact, nothing in that hack provided any evidence that those BernieBro fantasies had any basis in reality. Did we see any emails regarding those imaginary plots concerning debate scheduling? No. Did we see anything to buttress those ludicrous allegations that Bernie suffered from election fraud? No.

(There probably was election fraud during the primaries -- in Michigan and in Brooklyn -- but since the evidence strongly suggests that Hillary was the victim, we are never allowed to discuss the data.)

Yes, the DNC hack revealed a couple of emails in which individual workers at headquarters expressed support for Hillary and frustration with Bernie. So the fuck what? There was no evidence of institutional wrongdoing. None. Nada. Zero.

I say that Putin's remarks are just another indication that the entire Bernie Sanders movement was part of the Trump/Putin conspiracy all along. Never forget: Bernie's eminence grise, Tad Devine, is a partner of the disgraced Paul Manafort. They worked on the same project in Ukraine.

Let the implications sink in: Tad and Paul worked together on Putin's behalf in Ukraine.

Remember all those stories the "mystery money" that was earmarked for Manafort?

Remember how the Bernie campaign became suddenly flush with cash?

Remember when our under-funded and nearly-comatose FEC asked the Bernie campaign "Hey, where did these millions of bucks come from?"

Remember my earlier posts which demonstrated that small donations are completely unaccountable and thus more likely to have a corrupt source? Whenever a candidate brags that his donations are mostly under the $50 mark, listen closely for the whirr whirr whirr of a money laundry in operation.
Did you know that "The Don" was exactly what Ivana Trump used to call her husband?

Source: Jonathan van Meter's "investigative tribute" to Ivana Trump in the May 1989 issue of "Spy" magazine. It was the subeditors, not van Meter, who wrote the words "The Donald", which later became a popular epithet for Trump thanks to the Washington Post and other media organs. If you read what van Meter says that Ivana called her husband, it wasn't "The Donald". It was "The Don".

East European social climbers love the mafia. They think it's really stylish and cool.

Hillary's lead is already down to 1.4% in the TPM poll aggregate. it's been dropping a point or two a day for the last week or so. At this rate, she'll be tied by the end of the day today, maybe a few hours later. And she'll be behind by the time the next polls come out. Do they release polls on the weekend? Because if they do, that's when Trump will take the lead.

It's absolutely astonishing that we are where we are. I'm as pessimistic as they come, but this blows my mind. Everything we know about Trump, and he's still going to get elected.

He would probably have won even if Hillary had a real 5 or 6 point lead, given all the shenanigans Trump and the GOP will pull. But if Trump is actually ahead in the polls on election day, even by just 1 point, he will win in a landslide, when you combine his real votes with whatever bullshit and rigging are factored in.
Leaked email

From: Mike Pence
To: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump
Cc: Vladimir Putin

Well done both of you! Just to recap, neither of you will go to jail. You're both doing great. Hardly anyone has twigged that I'm going to seize the US imperial throne just as smoothly as my brother Jesuit Jorge took over the papal throne in Rome. Everything's going to plan.

Clinton will win - the slight tightening this last week is normal. National polls are not predictive.

Bernie's trolls didn't help him and the Breitbart brigade are all talking to themselves.

I still don't think Trump wants to win. He wants to be a media mogul. He'll throw this in a big way if it indeed looks like he might win.
In the spirit of imagining we are advising Clinton in realpolitik...

Another thing she could do is to to bring in Gary Johnson.

She could say "I have no time for Mr Johnson's politics, but I respect him as a sincere opponent, unlike Donald Trump whose politics deserve no respect whatever from decent people of any persuasion - they are the fascist politics of the gutter, of Jim Crow, of alt-right, of Adolf Hitler, of Vladimir Putin".

Then watch Johnson make 15% in the polls, get into the TV debates, starting on 26 September, and take a chunk out of Trump's support.

Dangerous, for sure. But a possible winner. Something similar worked for the British Tories in 2010. ("I agree with Nick".)

I don't think this will happen, but I'm getting into the spirit.

E.Pax -- "slight tightening"? "Normal"? Hillary went from a seemingly insurmountable double-digit lead to a 1.4 percent lead at a time when Donald Trump made mistake after mistake after mistake. NORMAL? SLIGHT?

I don't mean to be insulting, but if I were the sort to take drugs, I'd like to sample whatever it is you've been toking. I'd feel a lot less nervous.

Jack -- finally. Someone who reads this blog GETS IT.

It's happening faster than predicted. The flip may occur by Monday; the Blame Hillary posts will appear later that day. Salon will have a field day.

My one consolation is that I will be able to write a big fat I TOLD YOU SO post.
And by the way, Paax -- David Cay Johnston, who knows Trump better than you or I do, says that Trump is in it to win it. All the way. No hidden plans.

The only way to fight what's about to happen is take off the fucking rose-colored glasses and face reality straight on. DO NOT LIE TO YOURSELVES.
Anon -- I like it, I like it. Right now, it looks as though Johnson is swiping from both Hillary and Trump equally. (I TOLD you people that the BernieBros would swing from "socialism" to Ayn Randism. Consarned young idjits don't know nuthin' about economics.) But let's proceed under the presumption that there's a limit to the number of BernieBros who hate Hillary so much that they want to see Trump become president. It may in fact be the case that any further votes for Johnson will come out of Trump's tally.

As for imagining we are advising Clinton -- why not? Campaigns do read what people say on blogs. Sometimes they even glance at blogs as humble as this one. At any rate, the people who read this blog also comment elsewhere, and that is how ideas spread.
At the age of 50, I am finally sick and tired of liberal denial. I have been listening to liberals tell me that the GOP is dead now for sure, this time! Or any minute! Liberals simply refuse to face reality when it comes to national politics. The confident declarations even today that Hillary will win in a landslide is maddening. I guess Democrats are going to be as shell shocked on Nov 9 as the Republicans were after Romney's loss in 2012.
Yeah. This nonsense about "oh, he doesn't even want to win!" is the raving of crazy people. Have you watched the man on the stump? Have you listened to him speak? Obviously anyone saying he's in this to lose has not. The man is determined to win.

It's just more liberal denial. I have spent a lifetime listening to liberals say shit like "Oh, Rush Limbaugh, he doesn't really mean that stuff. He's just in it for the money." That has been said countless times about Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Liberals simply cannot fathom that these people are real. Their ideas seem so outlandish and crazy that liberals refuse to admit people really believe it. It never seems to occur to them to wonder - "why pretend?" The reason to "pretend" is that there are scores of millions of people in this country who are devoted to the ideas of Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, and Trump.

We might have had a chance to stop them if it wasn't for all the fucking liberals with their fucking heads up their asses.
Jack, I like you. Want to run this blog for a while? I'm sick of looking at Trump's face and listening to his voice. It makes me ill. I need a vacation. (I've made this offer in all seriousness to a couple of people behind the scenes.)
Why do you keep doing this, Joseph? It has no bearing whatsoever on reality. You are not dealing in reality. Neither are many of your commenters. What you are doing is really not helpful at all for Democrats. Johnson is a total non-factor. Ditto for Stein.

She is NOT--repeat NOT--going to lose. The demographics are simply not there for Trump to pull off a win, and he knows it. She has numerous avenues to pull off an EC win, which is impossible for Trump.

I find it highly insulting that you are trying to tell Hillary Clinton of all people how to run her campaign.
Do you think the U. S. national security establishment wants Putin's puppet in the White House?

Do you think this country is an actual democracy, so that a majority of deluded DAWBs (Dumb Ass White Bigots) can put Putin's puppet in the White House over the objections of the national security mavens, if the mavens don't want him?

The Orange Grifter wins only if Putin's gremlins are more skilled than our national security counter-gremlins.

However, I agree that the Clinton campaign should bring up the Orange Grifter's Mob connections.

This should make you feel warm and ?
susan, come back in a week.

Hey, if it makes you feel better, when the polls favor Trump, you can blame ME.
I can't speak for anyone else, Joe, but I don't blame you for anything.

I merely think you spend so much time researching conspiracy culture, living on the Internet, and living, compelled by economic misfortune, among DAWBs--which might explain why you spend so much time on the Web, since your chief alternative would be spending more time with the DAWBs--that you have come to overestimate the importance of conspiracy believers, trolls, and DAWBs (three overlapping, though not identical, groups).

Why will the seek-the-DAWB-vote strategy which only barely gained the GOP the White House in 2000 and 2004, probably needing the help of election chicanery--and which FAILED in 2008 and 2012--turn around and start working again, in a country which elected an African-American, a member of the ultimate outsider group in this country, to be its President twice--just because the current employer of the seek-the-DAWB-vote uses a bullhorn instead of a dog whistle?
Obama "smeared her character" when he ran ads which among other lesser things hinted she voted for the Iraq War out of calculation?
Okay, Joe-she had a worse character-- and actually believed the war was a risky bet and worried, unlike the harder core neocons, that a resilent insurgency would ensue, many more losses resulting, but an enemy of Israel would be eradicated even if a long term still unresolved quagmire resulted with jihadists running amok.
For starters, Trump does not get all the $80 million. That was raised on a joint arrangement with the RNC,and they are due their share, which is at least a third and may be nearly half of it. The lookback at the July split is instructive.

Hillary's campaign has defensive strength in depth from investing a lot of money earlier. There is a very stout GOTV ground game in place that will be called into play late. They have pre-paid and pre-scheduled a massive air campaign at the lower rates available early for the coming months. Trump's failure to buy ads until recently was as much a financial decision as a strategic decision, in my view. He's even tried to make it a virtue that he has no ground game in place, saying he isn't sure it's required (shocking the political pros on that side). His ads will be bought at far higher rates, yielding a lower bang for the buck, IF THE INVENTORY IS EVEN AVAILABLE.

Meanwhile, the RNC has to divert money for that, beggaring their own other financing needs. The result got a headline treatment saying 'Trump bankrupts the RNC.' They're sitting with no more than half the cash as last cycle, while still needing to augment the skeletal ground operation.

Now, am I whistling past the graveyard a bit? YES! As a lifelong D, I have seen enough to panic easily, and this site is scaring me. I am kept from bed-wetting by hearing Plouffe say she has 269 EVs now (and he says, really, well over 300, but for argument's sake he talks about the lower number).

Ds should not, and must not, be complacent, and fear is a strong motivator. Nothing wrong with dire warnings if they encourage D action. If the fundamentals prevail, so will she. Money is the mother's milk of politics, and that remains in her favor strongly. The worry is the asymmetric 4th generation warfare coming into play, and the power of dirty tricks. Not that Trump's domestic circle is that good at it. But Mr. Putin?


Joseph, you are on fire! By all means, invite people you like, such as Jack, to do guest posts and takes a break...get it set up for right after your told-you-so post. However.

"What matters most of all is regaining control of the narrative."

What a shining crown jewel of a sentence.

And susan, to me what Joseph is talking about makes sense. In 2008,as he notes, Hillary ignored (even bucked) the narrative and kept winning. But, as Barney Frank once explained to me and one of his constituents, you can't buck the narrative, the most you can do is get one point made. So the narrative MATTERS. In the end, the narrative always wins.

Joseph's ideas are not insulting. They are not typical mansplaining what the little lady should do. The fact that he pinpoints what she did right shows this, but past is not present and this is urgent. We, and I say we, not just she, need to disrupt the narrative.

I have seen this work in real life just last week when I wrote a letter regarding a meeting I could not attend and three of my neighbors went at my urging. One of them, using this information, shut the entire agenda down and redirected it.

Keep putting out ideas, Joseph! You can inspire others to implement this much needed disruption of the national narrative.

I just want to note some things I've seen on social media that are going right.

"I'm with Her" That is so elegant, and men especially seem to love it.

And recently social media has seized on Trump's warning that there will be "taco trucks" on every corner unless he's elected and people are having a ball with that one. Some are even calling the election "Taco Tuesday."

My favorite quote of all time, my guiding principle and life goal, really, is from EB White “A despot doesn't fear eloquent writers preaching freedom---he fears a drunken poet may crack a joke that will take hold.”

Joseph, after your told-you-so post, why not just use your drawing skills to further ideas like rebranding election day as National Taco Tuesday?

My other guiding quote is from the I Ching: you can not fight evil head on, you can only make energetic progress in the good. More on this later.

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