Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

“With a burst of flame and smoke, a Chinese rocket blasted off into orbit yesterday. But it was the state news agency that moved faster than the speed of light, publishing the transcript of an “in-space” conversation between the astronauts before they had even left Earth.

The Xinhua news agency posted an article on its website breathlessly describing the Shenzhou VII spacecraft in orbit and quoting exchanges between the crew, possibly during the most important part of the mission: China’s first spacewalk. The only problem was that the crew were still on terra firma.”

source (the Times)

This story reminded me of reports that a Russian TV channel was to show an Italian documentary that took the view that the September 11 attacks were an inside job. I remember too, that an American official once told how he was repeatedly asked by diplomats from foreign countries whether it was true that the US had attacked itself. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Chinese recorded this message in the belief that the Americans had done something similar when they first went into space. What is striking is how even government officials, closer to the centre of power in the world than any of us, can turn to conspiracy theories to explain the events they supposedly direct.

The EU has also fallen for the siren call of paranoia. Whispers have been heard in the institutions, given credence by the President of the ‘parliament’ Potterung, that the CIA funded the Irish ‘No’ campaign. One wonders if these people are quite right in the head. There is a very simple explanation for the failure of the Lisbon Constitution; it is unwanted. Even the generally pro-EU Irish spotted that this consitution would diminish democracy in the already opaque institutions. But there’s a more general reason that is true of the Irish as much as the French, Dutch and the British. People are happy with the EU as long as they can believe that it is what they want it to be – either a trading organisation, or something little more than one. That is what the Eurocrats told us they were building.

They were lying. And for a long while the lie worked – eurosceptics were seen as extremists, liars and conspiracy theorists. As the veil has been raised on what the EU was always intended to be – a federal state – the pretence can no longer be kept up. It is now the europhiles who appear as the extremists, and who are finding refuge in the bolt-hole of the extremist and the fanatic – conspiracy theories. Fanatics and extremists are prone to confirmation bias more than the rest of us. They only see what they want to see, and interpret everything in terms of their own belief systems. It is a well known psychological phenomenon, used to predict the success of psychics and astrologers amongst other things.

It is a 50/50 question whether EU officials really believe the CIA have been attempting to influence Irish referenda. When we want to believe something, we are capable of lying to ourselves. Sartre called this ‘bad faith’; it is the state of mind where one knows one’s beliefs aren’t true – where one both believes and doesn’t believe something. I suspect that the europhiles are finding it very hard to recognize that they are not wanted and not needed, that people are at best indifferent to them, and at worst outright hostile. Hopefully this stage will pass and they will bow to the democratic wishes of the vaious peoples of Europe. If it doesn’t, if they persist in this paranoid route of thought, believing that malevolent forces are against them and must be found and thwarted, nasty things could happen


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The Limp and the Damned

I was suspicious when I saw Nick Clegg announce to the Lib Dem conference an extensive sweep of tax cuts, while at the same time Vince Cable was proposing a merger of the party with ZaNuLab. If the Lib Dems wanted to move to the right to step onto the Tories’ turf, why would they moot a merger with the Labourites? Cable framed his suggestion as being designed to cope with a possible Labour meltdown, but to me it didn’t sound like the party had much confidence in its tax cutting proposals. Had they seen some worrying polls I thought?

Guido links to a Liberal Vision report suggesting that the party could lose up to two thirds of its seats. Oh dear, oh dear. What a terrible situation. The panicked nature of these measures are so obvious, they won’t be overlooked by voters or the other parties. Voters now know that the LDs will cast off each and every principle or position to keep their pitiful piece of the Westminster pie, and Labour now knows that the Lib Dems could be shot as a rival. And the idea that LD voters would just switch to a Lib-Lab party and run any risk of keeping the socialist gang in power for another five years! Ridiculous.

Best of all, the party that has defined itself as the home of the respectable europhile has resorted to ditching its policy of joining the Euro! Are we going to see a eurosceptic arms race between Clegg, Cameron and whoever replaces Mad Jock McBroon?

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going personal

Obama has decided to ‘take the gloves off’ and ‘go personal’ on McCain, we are told today. As someone pointed out, Obama must have had pretty cold hands, as he seems to have taken his gloves off a few times already. It seems that Obama’s attack will take the form of an ad mocking McCain as an old man who doesn’t understand the internet.

Here’s why it won’t work.

The Dems believe that it was the McCain team which brought the race down from the heady, pure, Olympian heights of statesmanship that Obama had graced the world stage with. They believe that by painting Obama as a celebrity and by mocking his campaign rhetoic as messianic the GOP ‘went personal’.

Now, this isn’t really true. Both those GOP charges were about who Obama was as a politician. The charge was that he represented style over substance. Mocking McCain as an out of touch old man is a little different. McCain’s lack of familiarity with the internet is very common among people of his generation, and they vote; in large numbers. It is not something about McCain’s political position, about his campaigning strategy, his policy or even his personal character. It is about being old. That comes across as nasty, and as an implied criticism of all old people.

This is a problem the Obama Democrats have. Because they actually are a bunck of arrogant elitists who think that people who disagree with them are stuck in the past, or are hicks, rednecks and rambo-wannabees, they frequently say such things. It’s pretty hard to win an election when you insult the voters.

This kind of attack is on a very personal level. It is similar to the attacks on Palin which have backfired so spectacularly. My girlfriend was complaining to me the other day that Obama supporters were so entrenched in their views and so extreme that she felt intimidated. She didn’t feel as if she, as someone who is not a conservative, and in fact almost certainly on the liberal side of the spectrum, was respected at all. She felt Obama supporters were arrogant and dismissive of anyone who disagreed with them even slightly. I was trying to console her with the fact that if she was feeling that way, so were a lot of others, and that elections are about votes, not who shouts the loudest or has the most signs. One thing she said to me was ‘I’m not a conservative, but I know when someone is just being nasty’.

Obama has tried to describe this attack (and presumably others will follow also) as being a response to Republican nastiness. However, as the polls show – not only the voting intentions, which are trending to McCain, but also polling on the widespread belief that the media was unfair in its attacks on Palin and actively trying to elect Obama – the public aren’t buying it. Only Obama supporters believe their candidate is the victim here.

I think this brings up the central problem of the Democratic campaign. They haven’t been playing to the centre – because they’re not in the centre. What I mean is, Obama represents the left of the party, and his staff and supporters have that insurrectionist mindset that goes along with being on the fringes. If you are on the extreme wing of a movement, you view even the moderates as deluded, or as a part of the problem. However, to win elections you need to persuade those moderates to vote for you, at the very least. After you have them in the bag, you need to get some of the moderates on the other side to vote for you. The Obama campaign took their big leads a few months ago as the sign this basic political truth no longer obtained. This is a sign of arrogance, and explains the weird revolutionary undertones of the early campaign rhetoric.

The situation is, that the attacks from Obama and his sympathisers on Palin have been seen as personal, sexist, unwarranted and nasty. And now Obama is starting to take the same approach against McCain. Not only is this to compound the recent impression he has given of being unpleasant, but McCain is personally well-liked amongst moderates and Democrats – because he is a moderate. This is a doubly stupid decision by Obama. And to wrap it up in complaints of ‘he started it’ just isn’t going to wash.

I have previously said that the attempt to link McCain to Bush was dubious, as if there is one thing the whole world knows about McCain it is that he is extremely controversial amongst Republicans, particularly the Bush-supporting social conservatives. The only people listening to such a comparison are the people on the left of the Democratic party who think all Republicans are essentially the same. Similarly, the only people who will buy the obvious falsehood that McCain started the personal attacks are committed Obama supporters. Because they are arrogant elitists on the left of their party, the Obama team aren’t playing to the centrists. It seems increasingly likely they will lose, and lose by some margin.

UPDATE: McCain can hardly type because of his war injuries. So Obama just insulted all senior citizens in the USA and the injuries a Vietnam War veteran received while being tortured. Great move, Spassky.

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New Poll: 42-42

CBS has just published a poll showing that the pick of Palin has brought the two candidates to level-pegging on 42, ending Obama’s convention bounce. For recent polls, try here.  Polling was conducted from the first to the third, so Monday to Wednesday – BEFORE last night’s speech. This is strong evidence that what I suggested would happen did happen: the Democrats have shot themselves in the foot by over-doing the attacks on Palin, making themselves seem nasty and setting up low expectations for her speech.

It’s going to get worse for the Democrats, they helped to stir up so much interest that the ratings for her speech were through the roof. She attracted 37.2 million viewers, only 1.1 fewer than Obama’s 38.3 Remember, she’s only the VP candidate. Even better – or worse – her speech was carried on only 6 channels compared to 10 for Obama. McCain bounce here we come!

I’m overcome with admiration for McCain’s strategists. In fact, I feel about them the same as I used to about John Barnes when I was eight. I just want to write and tell them how great they are. As for the Democratic ‘strategy’. Ace sums it up.

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Sarah Palin: 2

So Palin gave a good speech? Well, how could she fail to, after the liberal press painted her as a rube, small-town mayor, ignorant backwoods bigot, inexperienced hockey mom etc etc? I wish I had bet on Palin to be the choice a month ago when there were odds as good as 33-1, but I decided that my financial situation meant a blanket ban on bets was necessary.

Here are some reasons why she is a good candidate. After these, I’ll give my run-down of why I think it was a strategically excellent pick.

She has a proven track record of bi-partisan deals. She has a proven track record of attacking special interests. She has a proven track record of defeating favourites in the race, and of defeating incumbent politicians. She is in favour of drilling, and, as a resident of a state containing the natural beauty many fear will be tarnished by that drilling, she is perfect to explain why it is a good choice of policy. She has a proven track record of pruning government spending. And she is clearly a fine woman with a very likeable personality.

There are a number of reasons why I thought McCain would, and should, choose Palin. The reason that I came to latest was the most superficial – she shook up the race. Remember when McCain was the crotchety old man a steady way behind in the polls with nothing positive to offer but barbs at Obama? Remember when Obama’s was the exciting ticket and McCain was the safe choice? Well, that was a couple of weeks ago. That grumpy old man has gone, and the race is now full of energy and excitement on both sides. The outcry amongst the press corps has done McCain a great favour in that regard.

More substantially, her selection reminds people of who McCain really is, and makes it even harder for the Democrats to push their poorly thought out line of attack. Every Democrat knows McCain is not just a Bush clone. Even convinced Democrats don’t believe it when they mouth Obama’s choice of attack – ‘four more years of Bush’. Independents and moderates, presumably those whom Obama wants to target with his Bush attacks, know very well McCain isn’t just like Bush – they will have found themselves supporting McCain in his adherence to policies Bush didn’t support.

Furthermore, Obama needs to get the support of people who voted Bush last time. Consequently, he should be more subtle in the way he deals with Bush. Even if Bush’s ratings are at 30%, there are another 20% of people who liked what he said and did enough to vote for him after being governed by him for 4 years. Compare the Tories’ subtler paring away of Blair from Brown and identifying with the aspirations of Blair supporters with Obama’s flat-out rejection of Bush. It sounds like a judgement on those who voted for him in 2004, but they are the people who need to be wooed.

Palin’s pick puts McCain in a perfect position to capitalise: it is a glaring symbol of the falseness of the claim that McCain is McSame, whilst placing McCain in a good position to appeal to those who voted for Bush but don’t think he delivered on what they wanted.

Thirdly, and most importantly, she has energised the base. The importance of this could be huge. In 2004 Democrats complained that Kerry hadn’t managed to get out his vote, and Obama supporters believe that their base will be doubly keen to vote this time. They have devoted a great deal of resources to getting people to vote, and also, obviously, will be expecting a boost in black voting numbers. The support of the evangelicals was considered to be vital to Bush’s two victories: well, now they’re back in the game, and instantly,those Bush state that looked likely Dem gains are looking less ripe for the plucking.

Fourthly, she appeals to blue-collar voters. This could be crucial in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

A fifth benefit, which I didn’t foresee, is that she has drawn such a storm of vicious criticism and ridicule, that there is almost certain to be a backlash against the Democrats. All sorts of nasty misogynistic, judgemental, snobbish, elitist attitudes have been on brazen display for anyone who doesn’t share those attitudes (and most swing voters won’t) to see. Obama declared families off limits, and Biden came out with kind comments about McCain, both signs that the campaign recognises that there is a danger in them becoming tainted with the nastiness.

I’ve thought all along, that if Obama’s lead is within one or two points in the last couple of weeks, McCain will edge the victory. In my view, Palin’s pick has made a tight race much more likely. It’s certainly going to be an interesting two months.

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