February 16, 2012

Anti-Romney Dog Show News Boomlet Dem Activist-Driven

It’s bad enough when items which should so obviously be leading the news aren’t. It’s worse when you realize that one of the reasons for the deliberate avoidance is that the press is allowing itself to be coopted into treating insignificant orchestrated political stunts to chew up scarce time and resources.

Readers who are wondering why outfits like CNN (covered yesterday by Matt Hadro at NewsBusters), the New York Times (as noted by NB’s Clay Waters) and the Associated Press (caught Tuesday by yours truly) would bother to prepare reports on a dozen-person anti-Mitt Romney demonstration at the Westminster Dog Show can stop wondering. At Polititicker, Hunter Walker and Colin Campbell report that Americans United for Change (home page; Facebook page), a Democratic Party-connected group, is driving it (bolds are mine):

… while much of the coverage of Dogs Against Romney characterized the group as a purely grassroots movement, its recent notoriety got a substantial boost from the behind-the-scenes support of Americans United for Change, a super PAC-like group with extensive ties to the Democratic establishment.

Dogs Against Romney spokeswoman Kitty Hendrix admitted the group’s much talked about protest outside the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in Manhattan last Tuesday was planned and executed with a discreet push from AUC.

“They basically wanted more grassroots people with dogs to talk about this issue, because it just made sense. It’s always suspect when someone is a professional political operative getting in front of the camera trying to pull emotional content out of anyone,” Ms. Hendrix said. “People are always a little more suspect of that.”

Dogs Against Romney does indeed have grassroots origins. …

… AUC, on the other hand, is hardly a grassroots operation. Its Executive Director Tom McMahon was previously the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee, and its Deputy Executive Director Caren Benjamin was an aide to Nancy Pelosi during her time as Speaker of the House. FactCheck.org describes AUC as a “liberal group whose message closely mirrors that of the Obama White House.” According to its website, AUC aims to use “aggressive earned and paid media outreach, grassroots and online organizing” to “build broad public and congressional support for policies that move America in a new, better direction.”

Members of Dogs Against Romney said AUC encouraged them to hold the Westminster protest and aided with media outreach. Kitty Hendrix, a spokeswoman for Dogs Against Romney, said AUC “was definitely interested in us having a little demonstration.”

“They knew this organization existed and it could be a powerful organization,” Ms. Hendrix said. “They got the ball rolling and, certainly, the press probably paid a little more attention, but this is very much an organic organization that was created by dog lovers who felt it was important for people to understand what kind of man Mitt Romney is.”

AUC’s media efforts on behalf of the protest were an unqualified success as more reporters attended the event than protesters.

Indeed. An 11:30 p.m. Google News search on “Romney Westminster dog” (not in quotes, sorted by date with duplicates) returned 456 results.

When AUC, with likely Obama campaign coordination, throws the establishment press a bone, its reporters can be counted to salivate at the opportunity to take a shot at a conservative or Republican with greater likelihood than Pavlov’s canines before their food arrived.

What a pathetic, irresponsible pack of lapdogs.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Santorumentum Update, Nationwide and Buckeye State Editions

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:59 pm

Nationwide, per Rasmussen:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters finds Santorum with 39% support to the former Massachusetts governor’s 27%. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich follows from a distance with 15% of the vote, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul runs last with 10%. Three percent (3%) like some other candidate in the race, and six percent (6%) are undecided.

Perhaps more tellingly, Santorum now trounces Romney 55% to 34% in a one-on-one matchup among likely GOP primary voters.

Ohio Primary, per Rasmussen:

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum continues to ride his polling momentum into Ohio where he leads Mitt Romney by nearly two-to-one in the first Rasmussen Reports survey of Republicans in the state.

The new statewide telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary voters shows Santorum picking up 42% of the vote to Romney’s 24%. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich draws 13% support, while Texas Congressman Ron Paul picks up 10%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and eight percent (8%) are undecided.

Santorum leads Romney by an even bigger margin – 58% to 30% – when the race is down to a one-on-one matchup in Ohio.

See what a coveted BizzyBlog endorsement does? (/kidding)

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (021612)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 12:30 pm

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Unemployment Claims: 348K SA, 361K NSA; Year-to-Year Seasonal Factor Changes Caused Improvement From Last Week (Update: Impacts So Far This Year)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:11 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending February 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 348,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 361,000. The 4-week moving average was 365,250, a decrease of 1,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 367,000.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 361,928 in the week ending February 11, a decrease of 39,328 from the previous week. There were 424,400 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.

Last year’s seasonally adjusted figure for the comparable week was 420,000.

Seasonal factor adjustments accounted for the entire reported improvement:

  • Last year’s factor (confirmed by going to the interactive table here) was 1.010 (424,400 above divided by 420,000)
  • This year’s is 1.040 (361,928 divided by 348,000).
  • If last year’s factor had been applied to this year’s data, SA claims would have been 358,000 (361,928 divided by 1.010), the same as last week’s 358,000 figure before this week’s report upwardly revised it to 361,000.

As I’ve noted similarly in other circumstances, in the case of  both 2012 and 2011 we’re looking at work weeks in early February unaffected by holidays. The only reason the seasonal adjustment factors are so different is that the past almost four years of recession-driven and weak “recover”-driven data entering the seasonal adjustment machine have been so volatile and atypical.

Though I probably won’t do it because of time constraints, it almost seems worth it to run a shadow report on this year’s raw claims using last year’s seasonal factors to see if DOL is consistently using higher ones to reduce reported seasonally adjusted numbers, and to see what their longer-term impact is.

After filtering for seasonal factor chances, and though the doubts about how many people are still out there to get laid off persist — because, as explained last week, covered employment has barely moved off of its low last year, and is still down about 5% from where its 2007 peak — today’s result was decent, but not the spectacular improvement the press will probably portray.

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UPDATE: An interesting observation about how the nation’s good luck in avoiding serious winter weather has affected things –

The numbers, he says, indicate that fewer construction workers and others lost their jobs because the weather was good. In fact, he says, only 206,000 people were unable to work because of the weather last month, compared with an average of 425,000 the previous five Januarys, according to the BLS household survey.

“You have to look at these numbers with a grain of salt,” says Mr. Brown. “If this hiring continues in February, March, and April, that would be really something.”

The luck we’re having this winter is being at least offset, possibly moreso, by the horrid, deadly winter in Eastern Europe (“European cold snap has claimed more than 650 lives”).

UPDATE 2: Well, here’s a partial look at the seasonal adjustment issue, namely a graphic of the raw factors for last year vs. this year thus far accompanied by an evaluation of their impact —

UnempClaimsSeasonalFactorDiffs2012and2011toWeek6

Only one difference inflated claims, and it was the one affected by the New Year’s holiday, which received relatively little attention because everyone understands that week’s volatility. Three weeks’ year-over year claims were significant (enough to deflated reported seasonally adjusted claims by 10,000 or more), and the other two had a negligible impact.

As they say, “developing …”

Positivity: Adult stem cell institute undertakes ambitious campaign for cures

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Iowa City, Iowa:

Feb 15, 2012 / 03:56 am

With pro-life ethics and a patient-driven paradigm, the John Paul II Stem Cell Research Institute hopes to save lives and shape the future of medicine.

“Medical research is becoming too expensive and taking too long. It’s not transformative enough, or impacting patients at a fast enough rate,” institute founder and director Dr. Alan Moy told CNA on Feb. 10, explaining the motivation behind his ambitious “Collection For Cures” project.

“It’s more than just doing ethical research. We had to come up with a new paradigm,” Moy said of his institute’s focus on patients and their immediate needs.

Both the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic bishops of Iowa are backing the “Collection For Cures,” which aims to raise $10 million for research into rare diseases, regenerative medicine, and personalized cancer treatments.

After he founded the adult stem cell provider Cellular Engineering Technologies in 2005, Moy became aware of key research areas neglected by both the government and the marketplace. He saw the need for a nonprofit enterprise that could fill these scientific and technological gaps.

In 2006, Moy established the John Paul II Stem Cell Research Institute in Iowa City, as a grassroots effort of Catholic laity and others concerned with the future of ethical biotechnology.

“The goal of the institute is to identify and solve some of the major deficiencies in this country – one of which is the ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem cells,” he noted.

In addition to its pro-life ethical basis, Moy’s work stands out in the field for other reasons.

Another distinguishing mark is his interest in treating and curing “orphan diseases.” The term denotes thousands of serious but rare ailments that fail to attract research dollars, because of the relatively small number of sufferers.

Many of these rare diseases may be treatable with existing FDA-approved drugs. But drug companies have little commercial incentive to discover these applications, particularly when extensive regulatory burdens are factored in to the equation.

Moy, however, wants to use disease-specific, non-embryonic stem cell lines to test the effect of existing drugs and therapies on these unusual ailments. The method saves both money and time over research protocols that would involve testing on animals before moving on to human tissue.

This approach streamlines the research process, often using patients’ own cells to investigate possible cures and treatments. In 2010, the National Institutes of Health reported progress toward treatment of the fatal disease Niemann-Pick Type C, based on work with cells from the institute.

Along with its work on “orphan diseases,” the John Paul II Stem Cell Research Institute is also using adult cells to investigate new methods of cancer treatment, and ethical forms of the regenerative possibilities more often associated with stem cell research. …

Go here for the rest of the story.