Monday, April 9, 2012

The Politics of: Admit The Horse

"Trust not their presents, nor admit the horse."
-- John Dryden, 18th Century Poet
I read Admit The Horse by P.G. Abeles. This is an account of the 2008 Obama-Hillary-McCain election told through a paper-thin lens of "fiction" that exposes the situation behind the events. Done as a roman à clef, every player in real life gets their own character. In this case, you need no "key." Senator Okono is Obama. Clair McCracken is Hillary. And so on.

The title comes from a translation of The Aeneid and refers to the Trojan horse which, as we know, the city was unwise to admit.

The Book
Admit The Horse opens in 2007 with an office worker in Hawaii who is unlikable, thinks she's better than her co-workers, and is highly ambitious (at least when it comes to money). She has been hired by parties unknown to create a birth certificate. She dies shortly thereafter of some kind of contact poison placed on the steering wheel of her car. This tells you quite a bit about the book right there.

I do not know where the author herself stands on the material but I can say with what I feel I feel is some certainty that the audience for this book is expected to believe it.

Admit The Horse is written for PUMAs.

Mechanically, the book is meant to inform first and foremost. In this kind of fiction there are only a few ways to do this: have an investigator (a detective or journalist or both) interview or discover material in the text, show us the events happening as the enemy works, and so on. Abeles has decided to simply have the narrator explain things to us. We learn about Cloward and Piven's strategy to destabilize the US by having every potential welfare recipient demand as much welfare as they could get. We learn about the caucuses and how (allegedly) Obama supporters dominated them.

We learn a lot--including things about, for example, about peanut farming--that breaks up the action.

There are many characters who are not part of the historical stage: Chicago homicide detectives, a retired DEA agent who thinks women are just plain better human beings than men, a naive Obama supporter, a naive Hillary blogger, and so on. A few of them die. Some of them get smeared as racist. By the end we're in the Obama administration and, so far as I can tell, no one has an arc. Even the naive Obama supporter doesn't really come to any life-changing revelation. Whether or not the characters are two dimensional will ultimately be up to the reader but where'd I come down? Each of these characters is a specific tool in Abeles' tool kit. Each of them is meant to explain something to us or fill a specific spot in the emotional framework of the story. So far as I can tell they never go beyond that. I found them missing a dimension.

Along these lines the political figures are almost all one dimensional. Hillary is nothing short of heroic. Obama is a psychopath. McCain is a reasonably respectable war hero. Sarah Palin is, so far as I can tell, missing. I think there's a reason for that. Granted: these people are not the book's primary characters--but 2008 was shaped by their powerful personalities. To ignore the multiple dimensions of these people seems to me like leaving a great deal of money on the table.

The narrative itself is reasonably interesting. We see things from the perspective, more or less (and I would guess authorially) of a Hillary supporter who felt pretty beat up by the 2008 campaign. Whatever the truth of the material here, it is good conspiracy fodder and is well researched enough to provide food for thought. I'll discuss the content of the material in a moment--but I think I can say I found it interesting enough and I did learn things. So that's good.

On the whole, you should buy this if you are interested into a deep-dive of the 2008 primary. If you felt that Obama stole the election and, especially, if you supported Hillary Clinton this book will speak to you. If not--if you are just looking for a topical conspiracy thriller? I wouldn't choose Admit The Horse as my top choice.

Let's do the politics!

The Politics of Admit The Horse
In the basic anti-Obama narrative a few things are true:
  1. Obama is the ultimate empty suit. Although charismatic, he is lazy, undisciplined, and while (maybe) somewhat bright, he has no accomplishments because it isn't in his nature to do anything. 
  2. He relies entirely on help: script writers, teleprompters, handlers, and so on. He is a creation. Everything from his narrative to his life's story, to his place of birth is a smokescreen. 
  3. He is Marxist at his core--Black Liberation Theology ... possibly Muslim. He hates American and wants to see her humbled--but his passion for destruction isn't driving him--it's just how his controllers use him.
Depending on whether you are a McCain or Hillary supporter these may be differently emphasized (many McCain voters saw Obama as a dangerous adversary where Hillary voters were continually amazed that he managed to win anything. Admit The Horse focuses on the first two while leaving his real aims a bit ambiguous. We never see the inside of his mind--or even have him "on screen" for any of the scenes--but we discover:
  • He is gay. He does drugs.
  • He is indebted to powerful super rich members of the Saudi royal family who got him into Harvard.
  • He is a psychopath who will have people killed at any time. He can't stand "common people"--he is ultimately arrogant.
During the book we learn:
  1. ACORN was responsible for the housing crisis melt-down due to an implementation of the Cloward Pivin plan which had low income people getting risky mortgages until the whole thing collapsed. As planned.
  2. The Obama campaign hired a group of hackers who disrupted email, flamed Hillary supporters online, took down their blogs, and put in meta-tags that were racist or sexual to discredit the bloggers. They also confused Google with their elite skills (or maybe that's just what Google said--were they in on it too?)
  3. Team Obama and their supporters were absolutely cut-throat and illegal in the caucus states. Doing things like intimidating old-lady Hillary voters, calling Obama voters to the front of the line and then closing the voting, and so on.
  4. The mainstream media and the DNC were totally in the tank for Obama from the word go. Hillary never stood a chance. They changed the rules, quashed stories, and otherwise arranged things from the top to ensure an Obama victory. Some members will even call bloggers racist and publish their names and phone numbers.
  5. A combination of ACORN and soldiers for Jeremiah Wight are willing to kill people, use fairly sophisticated toxins, and can reach people in Hawaii.
  6. Edward's love-child was well known to Team Obama: he was kept in the race as a stalking horse against Hillary.
What Does This Mean?
I think that for Hillary supporters the predominant sense of the 2008 campaign was one of crushing unfairness. To start with Hillary was historic and inevitable--the first woman president. Suddenly, in Iowa, she lost and Obama was a contender. Then the money started pouring in--the most raised by a candidate ever--and to Hillary voters the narrative that a superiorly credentialed woman (which Hillary unquestionably was) was passed over for a man was played out on the national stage with added misogyny.

To say this was brutal was an understatement. But it got worse.

Reagan's "Teflon" charisma frustrated his foes badly. Obama's did the same for Hillary voters. How could his Spread-The-Wealth-Around not hurt him? How could he survive Jeremiah Wight? What about the "unanswered" questions about him? Why did no one check into him?

Then came the racist angle. For Hillary--a civil rights supporter, whose husband was "The First Black President" this must have been especially galling. For women being told they were racists for not supporting Obama this must have been both painful and terrifying. Republicans really, really don't like being called racists. I think it's not only just as bad--but new for Democrats.

And forget a minute about the gender-gap. There were age-gaps and wealth gaps in play in the 2008 Democratic primary. This hit just about every possible fault line that it could. Maximum pain.

The good news (for the Democrats) was that if you were not especially partisan (and not especially engaged) it looked like you had two great candidates to choose from. Add to that that Hillary did her part in healing the party and became a historic Secretary of State for it and the Democrats came out of the bloodletting stronger rather than in tatters.

But if you were a middle-aged Hillary partisan? You came out of it beat to hell. Many are still bitter. A lot of them voted for McCain.

I think this is the driving emotion behind the PUMA legacy. It's the emotional engine for Admit The Horse.

Is It Real?
The book is meant to be read, as I said, as fact. I can't tell if it is or not or, specifically, I can't tell where moves from fact to supposition to outright fiction to conspiracy theory. This is partially because the author doesn't give us a full bibliography (which would be helpful with this book). It's partially because what I have been able to research (here is a list of "incident reports" from a Texas Caucus) is simply not convincing. It's not even that I can't say if the web-page is fabricated or not--it's that it's hard to tell if this is a pattern (many swear it is) or not. If this sort of thing was widespread ... was it coordinated? If so how? By who? How many people were involved. It would take dozens of individual units coordinating. Probably using at least three or four people at a minimum. Over several states? Someone, probably several someone's would talk.

Let's go down the list, starting with that.

Coordination Is Risky
I do not believe you could coordinate this easily--as a plan--without it coming out. For comparison, see Ron Paul's (legitimate) caucus plans: this has all come out in multiple places. The extent of the effect isn't known--but the plan is. We would know, from people inside the campaign, what Obama's plan was.

This is not to say that the listed incidents in the report above are fabricated: my 'nose' suggests those are real reports, reported by real people. Whether or not the incidents happened as reported is, of course, impossible for me to confirm--but I lean towards the idea that they did. I can believe that Obama supporters practiced malfeasance during the caucuses to some degree or another. What I question was:
  1. How effective this was, ultimately. We know things like Operation Chaos usually don't work. If Ron Paul's supremely orchestrated caucus-plan is not winning it for him, I doubt this would swing things.
  2. Whether it was coordinated "from the top." If this is local/opportunistic it does not require conspiracy. My belief is that if this was coordinated we would know: the circle of trust would simply be too big. People would talk.
  3. It is not clear to me that the combined "mass" of reports (nation wide) are the result of objective reporting. As caucuses are timed, information flows can create confirmation biases. If you expect problems you are more likely to find them.
This is not to say that individual supporters didn't do these things. Maybe they did--but there is a difference between autonomous action and a massive political machine. It also, I think, speaks volumes that, if this was going on to any large scale, Hillary and her team being unable to address it should be carefully examined. Hillary is painted as a victim when, by any stretch of imagination, she is an extremely skilled political operator with years of experience. Surely having a trusted team of observers would not be beyond a million-dollar campaign. Caucus events are few compared to primary voting: if I thought I was losing caucus states due to clear and obvious fraud no price would be too high to send in observers to either prevent it--or document it--with clear repercussions against my opponent.

Why Obama?
Another problem that she does not address is "Why Obama?" To be sure, he's charismatic--but if you planned to execute your 15+ year long-game plan with a presidential run would you, one year before launch, go with a guy you needed to fake a birth certificate for? 

You only really get one shot at this. Everyone--everyone--you have to kill astronomically increases your chances of dying in jail. If you fail your whole change-the-world plan is shot. Why go with such poor raw material? Remember: presidential campaigns--even well funded ones--are brutal. The people who win have to want it. In the Anti-Obama mythology, Obama does not want anything.

Would you risk it? On this guy? Who needs a teleprompter to do anything? No.

Wither Palin? Whither McCain?
As far as anti-Obama narratives go there are two main directions as to who must stop him. The PUMAS / Hillary supporters saw the DNC as the primary opponent to Obama. For McCain / Palin supporters it was the Republicans. This makes some basic sense but looking a little deeper I think that it's also revealing. If you believe that the DNC is essentially behind Obama (as per their changing the rules on how delegates count) then the Democrats seem an unlikely agency to put a stop to him. On the other hand, if you see the Republicans as basically in chaos then they're hapless victims--just like Hillary--the only people with moral credentials to reverse course are the ones who went bad in the first place.

Remember that in both cases you are looking at a multi-million dollar political machines. If you start admitting conspiracy theories then the book's Hillary was part of a group that engineered the assassination of Vince Foster and various high-level illicit real estate frauds. Obama is also up against the ice-cold architect of the Iraq invasion and one of the owners of Halliburton--complete with Darth Vader helmet and, presumably, elite 'private contractor' hit-squads all his own. The Republicans also ran their own puppet, George Bush--remember: he was supposed to be a moron (a jet-piloting, Yale graduating moron, but still ...). If you open the door to all the conspiratorial thinking--instead of just the ones that currently serve you, there's no good guys--and no good answers.

The big problem with the conspiratorial background of Obama is that you have to believe that McCain and the RNC are so bad at opposition research that they can't penetrate anything. They have millions of dollars. They have (in theory) access to the same kind of true-believers that the other side does (maybe just not as many). They can buy anything that can be bought. If there was so much that was unknown about Obama they would mine it mercilessly and conclude either (a) there is nothing worth taking there or (b) that it's impenetrable in which case that would be their narrative.

I can only conclude that Team McCain researched Obama's birthplace, concluded beyond a reasonable doubt it was Hawaii and moved on from there. They probably checked to see what they thought of his Harvard career, concluded it was not enough to disqualify him, and moved on--and so forth. I do not believe that there are linkages to Obama and Nigerian warlords that have any significance or that Obama's Chicago beginnings are part of a multi-decade directed conspiracy that, Hari Seldon-like, planned "all of this."

It's also telling that, in the book, Palin is invisible or nearly so. I think this is because for a lot of people the narrative was about the destruction of women--by the media--by blacks--by former allies. The feeling, I think, was one of betrayal. Palin casts a shadow over all of this: she was on the opposite side. She was a strong woman--and also a historic candidate--but not in the right mold (Republican--and, to be fair, not much like Hillary either, other than her gender). Being as pro-life as you can get, Palin was not an in-the-trenches advocate for what most Hillary voters saw as feminism.

This is also reflected in the especially nasty treatment Michelle Obama gets in the book: she is singled out for being mean--and vulgar. In one scene Axlerod begs her not to wear diamonds to her husband's election-night speech: the country is suffering, the diamonds are extravagant. She sneers that 'every dog has his day--and on this day, this dog, is wearing diamonds.' Indeed, she did wear diamonds to the election night speech--and has, since then, been criticized for her wearing of them (just as Palin was criticized for her wardrobe)--but given that the alleged conversation, even in fiction, only happened between insiders, it is, even in the context of Admit The Horse entirely made up. I think that, just as Palin didn't fit the Hillary-voter idea of what a feminist heroine should look like, neither did Michelle--and that was difficult to reconcile.

Killing People With Zyklon-B and DMSO
The Obama Assassins kill people with skin-absorbent chemicals and HCN--the same toxin Hitler used to gas the Jews. On this count, it also doesn't help that the book refers to Obama-supporters literally as "brown shirts" (and that they are sent to psychologically sophisticated brain-washing camps). It will be no surprise to my readers that I am skeptical at best of cadres of assassins with long reaches and fairly obscure ways of killing. Even if we assume it's one guy we have to wonder who is controlling him (or her?) in this narrative. It's not Obama--he's not controlling anything. It has to be the guys controlling him--and we have to ask where do they get these ultra-loyal, competent assassins (who also have sufficient support groups and, presumably, a variety of unusual skills such as chemistry, lock-picking, surveillance, and so on). 

There are more conventional assassins who work for Wright. They use bullets to the back of the head (which is fine by me). I think exotic assassination techniques are good for conspiracy thrillers but don't work well in real life. Killings are messy things. Hiring people to do a job (such as forging the birth certificate) and then killing them is something The Joker does--it is not something careful planners do. The risk level is simply too high. 

So I don't buy that. I'm not saying it never happens--but I think political killings are acts of desperation, not standard operating procedure.

Anything Else?
Does she get anything just plain wrong? The only thing I would specifically call out is the housing crisis. Even if ACORN was stuffing low income people into questionable loans as fast as the laws allowed that would not cause the melt-down. What caused the meltdown was (a) the use of complex new Derivatives based on Mortgage-based Equities and (b) the fact that the ratings agencies rated those Mortgaged Based Equities good-as-paper when they should not.

The proposed conspiracy does not account for either of these. The fact that bank's appetites for mortgages was so high made whatever ACORN was or was not doing incidental: EVERYONE who was buying a house was being offered a loan that was more than they could afford. By every player involved. In other words, what brought down the financial system was not a conspiracy but rather a systemic catastrophic combination of factors that came from multiple directions.

Admit The Horse is a great look at a specific take on the 2008 election: from the perspective it is written it gets the feel right. It is loaded with what, in this realm, will pass for facts and if you want to understand why some Democrats really, really hate Obama you can't do better than this. It isn't overly exciting and it lacks the pageantry of Game Change. I wish she'd given us more of the candidates or followed a narrative path of fewer characters. Given its pacing (a long look at the primary, very little at the general, and then a confusing wrap up where she backs off from speculating on what the Team-Obama end-game was supposed to be) I thought perhaps it would be a trilogy (book 1: the Primary. Book 2: The General. Book 3: The aftermath). It isn't and the end feels compressed. It has good material and manages to fit a great amount of it in--but it feels slow in places and shallow in others. I cannot recommend it unless the material grips you by its nature. If that's the case--if you are the target market--I think you'll love it.


  1. "Hillary Backers Decry Massive Obama Vote Fraud" by Ken Timmerman (October 27, 2008, Newsmax)

    "But Obama's victories in the caucuses weren't the result of better organization, Long insists. "It was fraud." In state after state, Hillary was leading Obama in the polls right up until the last minute, when Obama won a landslide victory in the caucuses. The descrepancies between the polls and the caucus results were stunning, Long told Newsmax. The most flagrant example was Minnesota. A Minnesota Public Radio/Humphrey Institute poll just one week before the Feb. 5 caucus gave Hillary a 7-point lead over Obama, 40-33. But when the Minnesota caucus results were counted, Obama won by a landslide, with 66.39% to just 32.33% for Hillary. "No poll is that far off," Long told Newsmax. Similar disparities occurred in 13 of 14 caucus states..."

    1. This is irrefutable proof that Newsmax claims a Hillary backer complained about Obama. Irrefutable.