January 9, 2008

Marc Ambinder: Romney Dark in FL, SC

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:03 pm

From Ambinder’s blog at The Atlantic:

Romney Goes Dark In FL, South Carolina

Up on television in Florida and South Carolina through yesterday, Mitt Romney is not running any television ads in those states now, according to a Republican with knowledge of the traffic purchases in the state.

Romney’s campaign hasn’t booked any television time in those states, either.

And it’s probably for a good reason: Romney needs to focus all of his resources in Michigan.
But opponents will wonder: is Romney hedging his bets? Does he not want to spend money in South Carolina and Florida unless he wins Michigan and has a reason to stay in the race?

I don’t get this. Michigan is an open-primary state. McCain beat Bush in 2000 in Michigan on the strength of indie voters, and I would think, on the heels of his NH win, that he should be favored to repeat that performance. The latest MI poll at Real Clear Politics (the others are too old to matter) has Huckabee-Romney-McCain at 23-22-18, but that will change very quickly. Romney’s reliance on memories of his family’s political heyday 30-plus years ago helping him next Tuesday seems misplaced.

And what good is a Michigan squeaker if Romney finishes third, or even fourth, in South Carolina?

I’m not one for premature e-celebration, but I guess things are worse in Objectively Unfit Mitt’s camp than I had thought.

Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney’s Campaign ‘at Death’s Door’? Doubtful

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:21 pm

I surely don’t think so, though you will currently see that claim near the top of the home page at Human Events Online:

Romney Campaign at Death’s Door

For many Republicans, Romney was simply the “electable conservative.” Once he lost to Huckabee, that title vanished.

Here’s the detail at the underlying Evans-Novak’s Political Report:

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Romney’s second loss puts his well-financed campaign at death’s door.

  1. Romney’s core tactic in New Hampshire of attacking McCain on immigration fell flat partly because McCain reduced the issue to a squabble over the definition of “amnesty.” Also, the negativity seemed to hurt him here as it did in Iowa. Finally, as a well-off corporate raider, it’s hard for voters to believe Romney really cares about the issue. It comes across as opportunistic and purely political. Immigration has not proved a winning issue in recent years.
  2. Iowa doesn’t determine New Hampshire, but this time it certainly had an effect. For many Republicans, Romney was simply the “electable conservative.” Once he lost to Huckabee, that title vanished. Also, Huckabee’s attacks on Romney were effective. Finally, Iowa emboldened the other Republicans in Saturday night’s debate, and he looked bad.
  3. While Romney can dig into his own massive fortunes to stay alive, it’s hard to imagine where he can win if he can’t win in two states where he has spent huge amounts of money and time. The voters who know him best — including those in his neighboring state of New Hampshire — aren’t quite sold on him.
  4. On the upside, Romney leads in the delegate chase, and his two second-place finishes were convincingly ahead of the third place finishers. Still, a loss in Michigan probably ends his run.

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I think Bob Novak’s assessment of Objectively Unfit Mitt’s situation is way too pessimistic. Though it would be nice if I felt otherwise, I believe that a string of “decent” second-place showings leading up to Super Tuesday would preserve Romney’s viability (it all depends, of course, on what you mean by “decent’). Winning Super Tuesday will involve fighting an expensive air war instead of a retail ground war. Romney, if he opens the purse strings, is in much better financial shape to do that than the other major candidates.

Still, Novak’s take is a refreshing alternative to the sky-is-not-falling mantra at Hewitt’s place, which isn’t even worth linking to today. I mean, which sugar-coated pile-of-manure post would you pick? Besides, Hugh got all uptight over my use of the word “objectively” on the day of “The Speech” and didn’t link back, so I’m not exactly carrying a lot of guilt.

Carnival Barking (010908)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 7:16 am

The 99th Carnival of Ohio Politics, assembled by Lisa Renee of Glass City Jungle, is here.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (010908)

Denial over Iraq is apparently a deeply embedded river that runs through the Democratic Party. That there is not one word of credit for Petraeus is disgraceful, and should not be lost on the men and women of the US military when they vote.

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Federal tax collections in December appear to have been pretty good, based on December’s last Daily Treasury Statement:

UStreasRecs1207Dailies

About $10 billion of the reason why December 2007 looks like it will come in about 10% better than December 2006 is because the 31st was on a Monday (vs. on a Sunday in 2006). Withholding tax collections that day were a very high $20 billion (vs. $10 billion on December 29, 2006). Fiscal year-to-date receipts are running just over 6% ahead of last year, but if you take out the $10 billion timing difference, it’s more like 4.5%, which is mediocre.

The Monthly Treasury Statement for December comes out Friday afternoon.

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The previous item swings nicely into a column at IBDeditorials.com from Larry Kudlow: “Tax, Rate Cuts Would Perk Up The Slowdown.” Well of course they would. If Congress doesn’t pass any cuts, it will be for purely political reasons — the equivalent of saying “let the economy eat cake” and then blaming the situation on someone else.

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The recession has arrived, say analysts (link probably requires subscription). Pretty remarkable statement, given that it takes two consecutive quarters of negative growth for a recession to exist. So these geniuses know that the economy is going bad now, and KNOW that it will stay that way for the next six months? I call BS. I say that these clowns are just trying to get noticed, and are hoping nobody remembers when the likely-positive first-quarter GDP reports start coming out in late April.

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Google the Destroyer?

….. concern about Google is justified, not because of potential to take over the whole information business, but because of its potential and incentives to destroy the ability of the providers of the other components of the info system to perform their functions of creation, distribution, and organization. These components were already under severe stress as the forces of digitization, interconnectedness, and P2P wrecked their familiar business models, and Google is both profiting from these forces, and thus happily encouraging them, and making it difficult to develop new business models.

The concern about Google is based on a fear that it does not share this concern with restoring the viability of business models other than those based on advertising. Indeed, the concern goes further – that Google understands perfectly that the lack of property-rights based business models enhances its market power as the alpha dog of the ad biz, and that it will exercise its political and PR clout to prevent the development of alternatives. Hence its support for the academic communitarians, its hostility to proprietary software, its endorsement of net neutrality, its foot-dragging on YouTube filtering, its development of Android.

Boiling it down: Anything a person or company creates as an online service can be cloned by someone else, thrown up on the web for free with advertising, and make the paid alternative not worth having bothered with. So why create anything of meaningful value? (yes, I know that has media-related implications that I’ve never been totally at peace with)

Perhaps it’s overwrought, but it’s also worth keeping an eye on. The company is not that far from having control of a critical choke point in the information economy. And this is a company whose “do no evil” mantra covers up several serious ethical shortcomings. Remember that Google was among those that wanted, and still want, the protection of so-called Net Neutrality, and didn’t seem to think much about its censorship agreement with Communist China until after the deal was done.

Positivity: Fast-food worker returns $185,000 check

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Norwich, Connecticut:

McDonald’s employee returns check to bank after finding it on sidewalk

Reggie Damone just wanted to jot down a phone number when he picked up what he thought was litter on a sidewalk this week. But what he found was an envelope containing a $185,000  check.

Damone, who receives government-issued food stamps for low-income workers and works at a McDonald’s fast food restaurant, said he did not think twice about trying to cash it. Instead, the 47-year-old took a bus Monday from his Jewett City home to a bank and returned the check to the niece of the landlord to whom the check was written.

Go here for the rest of the story.