February 28, 2012

Romney Wins MI (by 3 Points) and AZ (Without a Majority)

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:38 pm

This is nowhere near as problematic as things seemed just four weeks ago.

Mitt Romney avoided utter utter humiliation in his “home” state by what appears to be three points. We’re supposed to be impressed that this is a momentum change? I don’t think so.

And in Arizona, where I understand the other three candidates did very little, Romney still couldn’t win a majority.

This means that Rick Santorum is still the only candidate to win a clear majority in a statewide election (Nevada was a caucus, and Romney won a majority by less than 100 votes in a heavily Mormon state; and don’t bring that “Missouri doesn’t count” garbage in here).

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UPDATE: Via a Gregg Jackson email, relaying a message from a Michigander — “Santorum won 56 of our 83 counties, and the 27 that Romney won led us in abortion and high crime.” Also this, in a different email: “After running for president for the past half decade and outspending all his opponents combined by at least 10-1, Romney got 10% less of the vote in his “home state” than he did 4 years ago.”

UPDATE 2: Erick Ericksen, who is also not a Santorum fan –

Mitt Romney continues to run an uninspiring campaign only able to win by massively outspending his opponents to tell voters how much worse the other guys are. That may work in the primary, but it will not work in a general election where the President of the United States won’t be outspent 5 to 1.

Three percentage points. In his home state. In his wife’s home state. In the state his father served as Governor. Three percentage points against a guy few took seriously two months ago and who just three weeks ago no one expected to give Romney a run for his money in Romney’s home state.

And this is our nominee — a guy who can only win in states with a home state advantage, New Englanders and New England transplants, and Mormons.

Richard Who? AP, NYT, Others Ignore UK Speech by MIT’s Lindzen As He ‘Pwns’ the Globalarmists

GlobalWarmingAs is the case with so much that is being reported in other countries about how much of the rest of the world is walking itself back from the extreme statist agenda supposedly necessitated by “climate change,” a presentation at the British House of Commons made by Professor Richard Lindzen, whom James Delingpole at the UK Telegraph describes as “one of the world’s greatest atmospheric physicists: perhaps the greatest,” has gone virtually unreported in the U.S. establishment press.

There’s a reason for this. As Delingpole notes (“Lindzen totally pwns the alarmists”): “… even if you’d come to the talk he gave in the House of Commons this week without prejudice or expectation, I can pretty much guarantee you would have been blown away by his elegant dismissal of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming theory.” Here are excerpts from the PDF supporting Lindzen’s appearance, followed by proof that the self-described outlets of record in the America have ignored it (bolds are mine):

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‘Incendiary’?

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:42 pm

You might have missed this from the 2008 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton:

You know, it’s very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments. We’ve seen throughout the campaign if you’re willing to say really outrageous things that are accusative, attacking of President Bush, that you’re going to jump up in the polls. I’m not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support. I am who I am.

I’m a person with extensive experience in government. I understand how government works from a personal standpoint and from a theoretical standpoint. I want to use those skills to help the country. And if I get selected, great, and if I don’t, I can live with that too. I’m putting myself out there because I think I can do a better job getting America back on track. I think this president has taken us in a very dangerous direction, and that we’ve got to get him out of the White House. But I’m not willing to say anything to get that nod.

The reason you missed it is because (of course) it didn’t happen.

But the following did, courtesy of (who else?) …:
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More Crud From AP’s Crutsinger: Failure to Cite Seasonality in Steep Durable Goods Drop

At the Associated Press, covering today’s durable goods report from the Census Bureau, Martin Crutsinger wrote that “Orders for durable goods fell 4 percent last month.”

No they didn’t. They fell by a seasonally adjusted 4%. The raw data before seasonal adjustment says that they fell by over 15%:

DurableGoodsActualDropJan12

No variation on the word “seasonal” is in Crutsinger’s report. Anyone reading or hearing his crummy content has every reason to believe that the reported drop of 4% is what actually happened. Obviously, it isn’t.

Seasonality is supposed to smooth out large variations in monthly numbers to give news consumers and number crunchers the ability to quickly evaluate the direction in which the data is headed, and then to attempt to discern reasons why things are looking better or worse. A 4%, one-month drop after seasonal adjustment demands intense scrutiny, especially when consensus expectations (which Crutsinger didn’t note) were for a drop of 1%.

So what happened? If you believe Crutsinger, the decline occurred because of what he described as a December 2011-exiring “tax break” once and as a “tax credit” twice

Businesses slashed spending on machinery and equipment in January after a tax break expired, pushing orders for long-lasting manufacturing goods down by the largest amount in three years.

… Economists attributed much of the decline in January to the end of the tax credit. They noted that demand for core capital goods hit an all-time high in December as most companies raced to qualify for the tax credit. Many said the underlying trend remained strong and predicted further business investment in the coming months.

“We see no evidence of underlying slowing in the industrial economy so we look for a rebound in February and the re-emergence of the upward trend over the next couple of months,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at High Frequency Economics.

Bloomberg’s “economists” weren’t as sure of themselves, as its Timothy R. Homan reported:

The expiration at the end of 2011 of a tax incentive allowing full depreciation on equipment purchases may have prompted a slowdown in investment at the start of this year. At the same time, a strengthening auto industry may help keep factories at the forefront of the expansion that began in June 2009.

… Last month’s decrease in capital goods orders extends a pattern of declines early in a quarter that are typically reversed later. Demand for non-military capital goods like computers, engines and communications gear have dropped in the first month of a quarter in all but three instances since the end of 2005.

Three things are annoying about what Bloomberg noted:

  • There’s a race to buy capital equipment to pick up a degree of depreciation or full write-off almost every year. Was December 2011 really so very different from the norm?
  • What Bloomberg describes as a “tax incentive” is a deduction (reducing taxable income) and not, as Crutsinger reported, a credit (directly reducing income taxes owed). Does he understand the difference? If there’s a unusual “credit” unique to 2011 which would have influenced year-end capital goods purchases beyond normal, I’m not aware of it, and I don’t see it in this list of expiring tax breaks prepared by a CPA in late December. Yet according to Crutsinger, “most companies raced” to get this alleged “credit.” Exactly how does he know this?
  • Seasonal adjustments are designed to smooth out typical declines, meaning that the January 2012 decline, the worst in three years must have been far from typical. As noted, leaning on tax-driven behavior to explain the drop isn’t at all satisfying.

Back to the post’s titled topic: Business reporters, especially it would seem at the AP, focus on seasonally adjusted data and almost always ignore the underlying raw results. That’s bad enough, and barely tolerable as long as they properly label what they deem to report. But when the “seasonally adjusted” label drops off completely and it “just so happens” to make a 15% decline look like it was really 4%, that’s completely unacceptable — but perhaps expected behavior between now and November from what yours truly has taken to calling the Administration’s Press.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (022812)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:15 am

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

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Positivity: Watch What This 90 Year Old Couple Does at a Clinic

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

An Internet sensation — and it should be (HT GodVine):