Free Markets, Free People

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Recovery? Maybe it is time to use the “D” word

Market Watch writer Al Lewis opines:

The Great Depression that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke claims to have averted has been part of the background radiation of our economy since at least 2008.

It’s just that like radiation — it’s invisible.

Uh, no.  It’s no.  It is simply a word, a description, that most of the media refuses to use.

Here, try it out.  “Depression.”  See, it’s not so hard.

In fact anyone who takes an objective look at what we’ve been suffering has concluded that while our current condition may not fit the arbitrary definition of whatever is considered a depression today, our economy certainly isn’t in any condition to be called recovered or even “recovering”.  In fact, it is a disaster:

 

073112recovery1

 

In a new research note, JPMorgan points out that since 1970, Japan, Finland and Sweden have all gone through what the U.S. is currently going through. And all three of them had recoveries stronger than America’s. The above chart compares the economic recovery — as measured by real GDP per capita — of each nation at different points after the trough of their recessions. And the U.S. is in dead last after 12 quarters from the bottom.

Take a particular look at Japan.  That is the economy during the “lost decade” that we’re currently underperforming.  Says JP Morgan’s Michael Feroli:

The poster child for slow growth coming out of a debt-fuelled financial crisis has to be Japan, which ever since the early 1990s has had trouble getting a head of steam. The recession which kicked off Japan’s “lost decade” lasted from 1991 to 1993. Including the recovery experience from that recession is sobering: we are currently faring worse than Japan at the same point in their lost decade.

So what’s the plan?  How are we going to work ourselves out of this position?  What policies will we institute to begin the actual, not pseudo, recovery?  Well, it’s an election year.  Don’t expect to hear the hard truths from this administration.  Instead, prepare to be reminded “its working”.  That in spite of reality:

As the economy reels, the national debt approaches $16 trillion, and we hear fears of Congress jumping off a fiscal cliff by year-end. Many states and local governments are struggling with massive deficits, too. Three California cities have filed bankruptcies.

U.S. companies are warning of slower growth amid Europe’s meltdown, yet the Dow Jones Industrial Average has crossed the 13,000 mark, and some observers are predicting new highs for the index soon.

The rising stock market is as counterintuitive as interest rates falling to new lows after the U.S. lost its triple-A debt rating last year. It isn’t that investors aren’t wary. It’s just that every place else makes them more wary. This isn’t the definition of a recovery.

No, it’s not.  But then Lewis doubles down with stupid:

The cure for our battered economy has been to allow our disasters to occur more slowly through taxpayer bailouts and extraordinary interventions from the Fed. So far, this strategy has worked. We have averted a sudden crash in favor of a depressingly slower one.

As we said from the very beginning, you can either let the economy takes its course and suffer the results quickly, get over it and recover, or you can find a way to extend it to where the effect may not be as dramatic but will linger and linger and linger.

We chose the latter path and it hasn’t at all worked out the way it was predicted (remember, at this point, unemployment was supposed to be in the 5% area if the stimulus was approved and 8% area if it wasn’t – so it’s hard to say “it worked”, isn’t it?).

The spin says the downturn was softened.  But again, I point to the promises vs. the reality.  We are no better off in terms of unemployment than it was claimed we’d be if we didn’t go an additional trillion dollars in debt.

And the economy isn’t recovering, it’s bouncing along the bottom of a trough with the possibility of going even lower if Europe implodes.

Yet the only plan I’ve seen or heard about is to repeat what failed previously with the Fed talking about a QE3 while we’re already awash in about 10 trillion dollars in funds it has already injected.  I don’t know about you but I simply haven’t much confidence in Ben Bernanke’s assurances that he can wring all that cash out of the system without triggering another economic downturn or hyperinflation.  History is not on his side.

I think Ace points to the truth of the matter that the media and politicians simply won’t touch:

This is the worst "recovery" by any nation since 1970, and it could be partly due to a category error: We’re not recovering from a recession, we’re still in the depths of a depression.

That’s right, it isn’t the “worst recovery”.  There hasn’t been a recovery. There have been “bright spots” here and there which quickly faded, but overall, we’re in the same place economically we’ve been for months and years.  And it isn’t an “invisible” depression to the unemployed and those who’ve given up hope and dropped out of the job market.  It is very visible.  And most likely they remember the promises and the results.

Of course, instead of facing this and holding politicians accountable, our media will continue to play to the distractions, the nonsense and the irrelevant instead of asking the hard questions, demanding answers and informing voters.

Unfortunately, such is life in America today.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Ice melt in Greenland exposes different ways media treats the story (Update)

According to the Atlantic’s Rebecca Rosen, Greenland is in the middle of an “extreme ice melt”.  You can read the article and consider the point.  I’ll give her credit.  She reports it pretty objectively including this as a reason for the melt:

NASA says that it is normal for Greenland’s ice to melt a bit in the summer; what is abnormal is the extent. Normally, only about half of the ice sheet’s surface sees any melting. This year, that proportion just about doubled. NASA additionally said that its satellites were recording uncharacteristically high temperatures over the island. Those warmer temperatures were brought by a bubble of warm air (a "heat dome"), the latest in a series of such ridges that have moved over Greenland this year.

In other words, a regional event.

She also mentions:

The last such melt event occurred in 1889, according to data from ice cores, and scientists say they would expect such an event about every 150 years. They’ll be monitoring the ice closely in the years ahead to see if this turns out to be a regular aberration, or an irregular one.

Got it.  Thanks for noting the event which appears to have a history (I’ll cover how much of a history below).

The UK’s Guardian kicks it up a notch with the use of the word “unprecedented” in their title.

“Greenland ice sheet melted at unprecedented rate during July”

No.  It didn’t. As we see from the Atlantic’s treatment,  this event isn’t at all “unprecedented.”  In fact, if I have any gripe about the Atlantic’s coverage is it stopped short of noting a longer history of Greenland’s ice melts:

greenland

 

Greenland, as you can see, has seen periods as warm or warmer than now in its history. One could logically assume then that it would have had the same sorts of weather events during those periods as it experienced during the recent week in early July. 

BTW, here’s an explanation of the numbers you see above:

greenland temp history

“Unprecedented” is obviously a incorrect characterization of the event.  Why did the Guardian seize on the word?
Because some scientist conveniently used it:

However, scientists were still coming to grips with the shocking images on Tuesday. "I think it’s fair to say that this is unprecedented," Jay Zwally, a glaciologist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told the Guardian.

Again, no, it isn’t “unprecedented”.  And obviously the Guardian didn’t take the time to find out if it really was.  A simple Wikipedia check would have produced the above graph.

So why the acceptance of the scientist’s characterization without checking?  I think that too is obvious – it’s scarier than admitting it has a long history of occurring,  many times prior to the industrial revolution.  It lends more immediacy to the story.   The fact that throughout its history Greenland has seen a cycle of warmer and colder weather is “inconvenient” to the scare factor related to AGW.  Certainly the Guardian is careful not to come right out and scream global warming, but by noting this “unprecedented” event, it certainly is clear that global warming, and specifically AGW,  is the dot to which they want you to connect this to.

The NY Times, on the other hand, notes the melt and takes a different approach.  While noting the melt and the high pressure ridge, the Times throws this into the mix:

Nonetheless, the scientists said, the melt was significant because Greenland’s ice sheet is unequivocally shrinking as a result of the warming of the world’s oceans, and the event could help broaden their insights into climate change and earth systems.

While they don’t claim that AGW is the cause for warming oceans (don’t worry, there are plenty of others out there that do), they don’t endeavor to explain why oceans have been warming for the past 100 years.

Here’s a pretty significant clue.  It’s a 2,300 year Hallstatt solar variation cycles graph:

800px-Carbon-14-10kyr-Hallstadtzeit_Cycles

Anyone notice what has been rising for the last 1,000 or so years?

In fact, says Sami Solanki, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany

The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures… the brighter sun and higher levels of so-called "greenhouse gases" both contributed to the change in the Earth’s temperature, but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact.

As it is turning out, it appears it may be the Sun.  CO2 has always been a lagging indicator in warming history until it was recently elevated by some “scientists” to a leading cause.  It has not shown the effect on temperature predicted by warmist models, however.  In fact, it hasn’t even been close even while the ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere has continued to rise. 

The point of all of this?  It appears that those traditionally associated with the AGW scaremongering are toning down their rhetoric even while still attempting, through half-truths, incomplete reporting and implication, to push the AGW agenda, albeit much more subtly now. 

Don’t let them get away with it.

UPDATE: And then, of course, there are those who don’t have a clue and don’t care, especially when they can use this to club the GOP.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Media Appearance Today (Updated)

If you live on Florida’s Space Coast, I’ll be on AM 1300 WMEL around 3PM Eastern, to talk about the economy and stuff. If you’re not on the Space Coast, you can listen live, worldwide, here.

UPDATE: If you’d like to listen, here is the whole interview I did on WMEL today. I cut out all the commercial breaks and whatnot, but even so, it’s still 36:20 long, so consider it an extra podcast for the week.

I don’t consider myself a "renowned economist", however. Or even an economist at all. I mean, I got me the book learnin’ in it, and I know my ciphers and my figurin’ and whatnot, but my work in the field has been in economic journalism, rather than formal work as an economist.

But the WMEL guys were very nice to me, and I appreciate it.

~
Dale Franks
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Obama’s lies and the media’s betrayal

How little interest has the media show in the actual facts of Barack Obama’s history?

The simple answer is “very little”.  For instance I expect a minute and basically negative examination of the Mormon religion when Mitt Romney is officially nominated.  That’s already being set up by numerous of those type articles already beginning to surface.

But Obama’s 20 years in a church with a reverend who basically preached anti-Americanism and black liberation theology? Meh.

A great example of what I’m talking about is covered by Jonathan Tobin in Commentary’s “Contentions” blog.  It is about the story oft repeated by Obama.  It is his version of his mother death of cancer because those nasty old insurance companies wouldn’t pay.

It’s a lie.  Again, I use the word “lie” much less frequently than do many in the press or around the blogosphere.  A lie is a knowing falsehood. I try to restrict my usage to that tight definition.  As it turns out, the story Obama has told repeatedly as the truth about his mother’s death is, in fact, a lie.  Oh, and the mainstream media knows it. 

Proof?  Well, they said so.

Never let it be said the New York Times is afraid to tackle an unflattering story about President Obama, even if it’s often a delayed reaction. The paper’s political blog The Caucus deigned to notice today that the new biography of the president by David Maraniss uncovered the fact that much of Dreams From My Father, the highly praised Barack Obama autobiography, is either fabricated or exaggerated. The Times’s Michael Shear opines that having its author now sitting in the White House has brought Dreams more scrutiny than its author could have envisioned when he wrote it in 1995. But the problem with contemporary analyses of the questionable personal history in the book is not so much the peril associated with being a famous political author but whether the book provides proof of a pattern of falsehoods and distortions about his past that has been one of the hallmarks of the president’s public career.

The answer to that question is contained near the bottom of the piece in which Shear lets drop that proof of such a pattern was already provided by his own newspaper last year. Though the Times buried the story when it broke and then never followed up or editorialized on the scandal, it was their own reporter Janny Scott whose research on the life of the president’s mother Ann Dunham revealed that the oft-told story of her dying because of the failure of her health insurance company to pay for her cancer treatment was a flat out lie. But while Shear is right that this year’s election will not turn on how Maraniss’s book is received, the unwillingness of the Times and other mainstream publications to call out Obama for writing fiction and calling it autobiography gives us a good indication of how much of an advantage having a quiescent media is for an incumbent president. [emphasis mine]

You know the standard line here: imagine them discovering something like this about someone on the right.  Do you suppose it would not be followed up or be editorialized?  Do you suppose they’d skip pointing out it seems to indicate a pattern?

As to that pattern and the specifics of his mother’s death:

The fables Obama seems to have told about his alienation, his girlfriends and the rest of his over-intellectualized voyage of self-discovery actually pale in comparison to the whopper he told when running for election in 2008 that his mother died because she had been denied coverage and treatment of her disease. Scott revealed that in fact the expenses relating to her cancer had been paid by her insurance. Though she had a separate and totally unrelated dispute relating to disability coverage, Scott’s research proved that Obama’s statement during the 2008 presidential debate was fiction:

“For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.”

It bears repeating that the president knew this account was false because he served as his mother’s attorney in all her dealings with the insurance company. [emphasis mine]

And where did the Times run this revelation?  What was the White House reaction?

When the Times ran that story (on page 14 rather than on the front page), the White House chose not to deny the truth of Scott’s reporting. But that didn’t stop the Obama campaign from  refloating the same falsehoods about Ms. Dunham having perished for lack of insurance coverage in an autobiographical campaign film narrated by Tom Hanks.

So the Times discovered what would be a bombshell revelation were it anyone else, they plop it out on page 14, the White House denies it and that ends it?

Now that’s journalism isn’t it?  Duty fulfilled, even halfheartedly, and now safe to ignore.  Meanwhile the lie lives on and no one even bothers to address the fact that’s what it is.  It is pure political propaganda designed to demonize an industry in order to gain popular consent to all but wreck it and have government take its place.

Yet, it’s only worth page 14 in the “paper of record” and zero followup. 

Not only has the president never apologized for lying to the American people about his mother’s plight, he rightly assumed that even though the truth was uncovered by the New York Times, neither that paper nor the rest of the mainstream media would follow up on it as they undoubtedly would had a Republican ever tried to sell the voters such a transparent whopper.

There’s the bottom line.

Another example of how poorly a biased media is serving the public.  Yet they wonder why the public’s confidence in them continues to drop and newspapers all over the country are dying.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


MSNBC and “Wawa-gate”

As anyone who follows politics knows, MSNBC “leans forward” or, has all but publically announced it is the liberal news network.

Fine.  I have no problem with that.  In fact, I’m comfortable with it because it allows me to put into context anything they say or report.

However, a disturbing trend has emerged with the network.  It’s one thing to have a particular bias to your reporting.  It is another thing to report things dishonestly.  And MSNBC has been caught red handed doing that at least twice here fairly recently.  Ed Shultz edited a tape of Rick Perry in such a way as to make what he said sound like a racial slur.   Then there was the edited George Zimmerman tape.

Now we have the “Wawa” tape.  In it, Mitt Romney is made to appear “amazed” by some technology in the store with the obvious intent of recreating the George H. W. Bush grocery store scanner moment.  The point, of course, was to make Romney look like Bush who, the left contended, was so out of touch that he hadn’t been in a grocery store in so long he was unaware they used scanners.

Of course, as with most things, context is key.  In the case of Bush, he indeed hadn’t been in a grocery store and was indeed amazed by the scanner.  The “out-of-touch” claim had some validity.  And, politically, it also hurt him.

That last sentence is key.  And the MSNBC logic seems elementary as well as obviously transparent.  If that hurt Bush, let’s gin this up to hurt Romney.

But there were multiple problems with MSNBC’s attempt to smear the presumptive GOP presidential candidate.  First and foremost, what they were trying to portray wasn’t true.   Secondly, they seem to have forgotten that there are an army of watchdogs in the new media that inspect everything they say or do.  Third, they seem unaware they aren’t the only organization with video of the event in question.  And finally, they’re arrogant and believe they can pull off crap like this despite one through three.

So how did it go down?  Well, in a short clip shown by MSNBC, Romney, who had visited a convenience store named Wawa, talked about ordering a sandwich:

“It’s amazing," Romney said, as the Pennsylvania crowd appeared to laugh. Then viewers saw Romney say, "You have a touchtone keypad, and you touch that, touch this, go pay the cashier, there’s your sandwich.”

It was presented as a Bush moment with both Andrea Mitchell and Chris Cillizza laughing at how out-of-touch Romney was.  And, as expected:

Mitchell invoked an old perceived campaign stumble by George Bush, who supposedly marveled at a supermarket scanner at a grocers’ convention during his failed 1992 re-election bid.

But that wasn’t at all the context for Romney’s remark.  Here’s what he said prior to that line:

What viewers didn’t see or hear was nearly three minutes of Romney discussing the nightmare of paperwork faced by an optometrist he’d talked to in trying to get the post office to change his address. He expressed mock amazement at Wawa’s efficiency to underscore how the private sector often runs circles around the clumsy bureaucracy.

"We went to Wawas and it was instructive to me, because I saw the difference between the private sector and the governmental sector. People who work in government are good people and I respect what they do, but you see, the challenge with government is that it doesn’t have competition,” Romney said in a portion edited out of the segment.

Wow … that sort of context seems pretty important to the story if you’re actually a reporter and not a hack.

And that’s sort of the point of all this.  MSNBC continues to damage itself (self- inflicted wounds) to the point that no one is going to take them as a credible news source anymore (many of us already dismiss what they say unless vetted by a more reliable source).  Instead, they’ll be considered a propaganda outlet.  What they did with the Romney and Perry tapes certainly seem to be attempts at propaganda vs. news.

By the way, it’s not like other cable networks don’t have their own credibility issues (the left views Fox as the right views MSNBC).  But MSNBC seems to be the worst of the lot, at least at this point.   But, as someone recently said, as their viewership shrinks in the wake of these scandals, the only demographic that may be increasing for them is conservative and GOP viewers.  MSNBC has become an entertainment channel for them.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Interrupt this President? Terrible. Throw a show at a President? Hilarious.

Today a reporter for the Daily Caller interrupted the President in a Rose Garden announcement about his decision to selectively enforce the law of the land based on his whim (and pure political calculation not to mention a flip-flop).

The guy who saw fit to interrupt twice the President’s address in the Rose Garden on his new immigration policy, which was being carried live by the cable nets, was actually a reporter for The Daily Caller named Neil Munro.

The left is appalled by the reporter’s behavior (apparently deciding what parts of laws you’ll enforce, though, is ok).  The Emperor President was not amused.

Good thing he didn’t throw his shoes at  Obama. I’m sure, as they did the last time that happened to a President, the left would have found that hilarious.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


A sterling example of that “world class temperament” we’ve often been told about

It’s amazing, though, how much “world class temperament” resembles the behavior of an irritable, spoiled four year old:

 

Details on this reporter, Neil Munro, actually trying to be a reporter are here.

This episode was, naturally, followed by the usual panties-in-a-wad bleating from our legacy media, 95% of whom are far too cowardly and biased to challenge Obama on anything at any time. So naturally, they declared Obama a holy personage, and designated Munro’s questions as blasphemy. Well, something like that; when these guys get into high dudgeon, it always sounds to me like they’re talking about their religion.

I do believe I detect some serious frustration in our noble President. Not to mention frustration in his legacy media acolytes. Though I have no enthusiasm whatsoever for Romney, I must say that watching the sour phiz that Brian Williams might have to wear this November would be fun.

Of course, some of us had this guy’s number from pretty early on. And some others, such as the last commenter on that thread, were determined to be fooled by Obama indefinitely. Some still are. No names needed, I think; examples abound.

(Found via Ace and Insty.)


A Primer on polling

As I’ve mentioned any number of times, you have to be careful about what polls you consider as worthy of believing and what polls are likely not particularly accurate.  Jay Cost has a great article about that with the added point that the media doesn’t understand what he tells you and so doesn’t understand the races in the various states.

He points to this from the Hill as an example:

President Obama is retaining his commanding lead over Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania, topping the Republican presidential nominee by 12 points in a poll released Wednesday by Franklin & Marshall College. Obama would win the favor of 48 percent of Keystone State voters, versus just 36 percent for Romney, according to the poll.

First:

1. The president is under 50 percent in most swing state polling averages. It’s not an ironclad rule that Obama cannot rise in the polls, but common sense suggests that it will be tough. He’s been the president for three years – if you’re not inclined to vote for him now, what will five months of a campaign do?

That’s an important point – if you’re the incumbent and polling under 50%, you’re in trouble regardless of the type voter the poll uses.  Also note that the Romney candidacy isn’t even official yet.  He would likely see a rise in preference once he is officially the GOP candidate.

Another point I’ll expand on later – favorability.  Cost says this:

It’s worth noting as well that most of these polls show the president getting roughly his job approval, which is all we should expect him to receive in the general election (maybe a little less). And his job approval rating has consistently been under 50 percent for two-and-a-half years.

Not good.  Not insurmountable, but certainly not an indicator of a strong candidate.  More on favorability later.

2. Most polls are of registered voters. This matters because the actual electorate will only be a subset of registered voters, and will probably be more inclined to vote for the GOP. So, these polls probably overstate Obama’s “lead,” such as it is.

With a state like Pennsylvania, using registered voters, you most likely get an oversampling of Democrats.  Which side is most likely to be motivated this time?  The GOP.  So the number quoted in the Hill story is probably considerably lower than claimed (remember Wisconsin?  A state carried by 14 points in 2008 is now showing 7 points).

3. There is no “blue wall.” This is a common point pundits will make – the list of states that have not voted Republican since 1988 amounts to a “blue wall” for the president. Nonsense. It’s better to say that these states have Democratic tilts, some of them pretty minimal.

We’ve seen evidence of that in landslide elections.  There’s no “red wall” either.  It’s all about tilts.  Some states tilt more than others but all states, at some point, are in play.  Think preference cascade.

Says Cost:

The states with a Republican tilt of at least 1 point total up to 253 electoral votes, based on the 2008 results. The states with a Democratic tilt of at least 1 percent total up to 257 electoral votes.

In other words, it’s a wash.

And this is key:

4. The “horse race” metaphor has its limits. Take this from the guy who used to write the Horse Race Blog: The concept of a horse race does not capture the idea of voter psychology very well at this point. Roughly 85 percent or so of the electorate is locked in – though they may not be admitting it to pollsters – while the final 15 percent has barely started the decision-making process. So, the idea that Obama has a “lead” in the polls is really a non sequitur. The gettable voters are not yet engaged, so there really is no race going on at the moment

The fight is for the 15% and they’re not even really paying attention yet.  My guess is the 15% probably have a preference, but can be swayed.  But for the most part, the majority of the electorate is already engaged (and again, this is one reason WI has national implications).

Finally, favorability.  Obama supporters like to point to his favorability rating vs. Romney.  That’s pretty much useless as Morris Fiorna explains:

Over all, in the 13 elections between 1952 and 2000, Republican candidates won four of the six in which they had higher personal ratings than the Democrats, while Democratic candidates lost four of the seven elections in which they had higher ratings than the Republicans. Not much evidence of a big likability effect here. In most elections, however, the electorate did not give a large personal edge to either candidate. In four elections they did.

So it is a very mixed bag concerning favorability or likeability.  The most pertinent recent example:

Jimmy Carter’s 1980 job approval was flirting with lows established by Harry S. Truman, Nixon and later, George W. Bush, but the electorate rated Carter’s personal qualities as the highest of the Democratic candidates between 1952 and 2000. The same electorate rated Ronald Reagan as the lowest of the Republican candidates. The Ronald Reagan of October 1980 was not the Reagan of “morning again in America” in 1984, let alone the beloved focus of national mourning in 2004. Many Americans saw the 1980 Reagan as uninformed, reckless, and given to gaffes and wild claims. But despite their misgivings about Reagan, and their view that Carter was a peach of a guy personally, voters opted against four more years of Carter.

Fiorna sums it up this way:

“Voters didn’t like my personality” is a loser’s excuse.

As the campaigns progress, we’re likely to hear how Obama’s favorability rating is higher than Romney’s and that such a rating is “significant”.  Don’t buy into that.  It is likely not that significant at all. 

In summary, if the candidate is under 50% in a state in which registered voters are polled, he’s not as strong (or weak) as the polling might indicate.  If the poll is of registered voters, take it with a grain of salt.  All states are in play and the fight is for the uncommitted 15%.

Favorability?  Disregard.  It’s about job performance. (That said, here’s POLITICO trying to make something of Obama’s favorability rating).

Hopefully this will help you navigate the worth of the umpteen polls you’ll have thrown your way in the next few months.  You should be able to quickly get their measure and then just as quickly figure out if the media has any idea of what it is talking about. 

Most likely you’ll find they don’t.  But then, that shouldn’t particularly surprise you, should it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Has Peggy Noonan finally recovered from her Obama swoon?

Perhaps.  It certainly seems so.  She’s out with a column calling the Obama administration a “house of cards”.  I’ll get to that in a minute, but there was something else she said in the column that caught my attention:

Political professionals now lay down lines even before a story happens. They used to wait to do the honest, desperate, last-minute spin of yesteryear. Now it’s strategized in advance, which makes things tidier but less raggedly fun. The line laid down by the Democrats weeks before the vote was that it’s all about money: The Walker forces outspent the unions so they won, end of story.

Two points – one, that “line” has been debunked, but Democrats continue to try to make that conventional wisdom (which is fine by me, because the CW hides the real truth that it was their message).  But more importantly, point two, Noonan is right – political professionals try to shape the story before it happens, with their spin already being generated so that if they win their positive spin becomes CW and if they lose their negative spin becomes CW.  In Wisconsin, the negative spin or excuse was Democrats were outspent and being outspent means losing.

That takes us to the part where Noonan talks about Obama:

President Obama’s problem now isn’t what Wisconsin did, it’s how he looks each day—careening around, always in flight, a superfluous figure. No one even looks to him for leadership now. He doesn’t go to Wisconsin, where the fight is. He goes to Sarah Jessica Parker’s place, where the money is.

There is, now, a house-of-cards feel about this administration.

It became apparent some weeks ago when the president talked on the stump—where else?—about an essay by a fellow who said spending growth is actually lower than that of previous presidents. This was startling to a lot of people, who looked into it and found the man had left out most spending from 2009, the first year of Mr. Obama’s presidency. People sneered: The president was deliberately using a misleading argument to paint a false picture! But you know, why would he go out there waving an article that could immediately be debunked? Maybe because he thought it was true. That’s more alarming, isn’t it, the idea that he knows so little about the effects of his own economic program that he thinks he really is a low spender.

For more than a month, his people have been laying down the line that America was just about to enter full economic recovery when the European meltdown stopped it. (I guess the slowdown in China didn’t poll well.) You’ll be hearing more of this—we almost had it, and then Spain, or Italy, messed everything up. What’s bothersome is not that it’s just a line, but that the White House sees its central economic contribution now as the making up of lines.

Any president will, in a presidential election year, be political. But there is a startling sense with Mr. Obama that that’s all he is now, that he and his people are all politics, all the time, undeviatingly, on every issue. He isn’t even trying to lead, he’s just trying to win.

There’s so much packed into those few paragraphs.  Apparently Noonan has shed the blinders that had her backing Obama in 2008 and sees him for what the rest of us saw him to be all along.  An empty suit.

She talks about the fact that his campaign has been “laying down the line” that it is Europe’s fault our economy is in trouble.  Typical Obama.  He’s failed miserably and, perfectly in character, is trying to blame it on another entity.

Everything is political.  Obama petulantly claimed that it was offensive to be blamed for the national security leaks that have been coming out of his administration.  Question: who the hell else should be blamed?

Most ominously, there are the national-security leaks that are becoming a national scandal—the "avalanche of leaks," according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, that are somehow and for some reason coming out of the administration. A terrorist "kill list," reports of U.S. spies infiltrating Al Qaeda in Yemen, stories about Osama bin Laden’s DNA and how America got it, and U.S. involvement in the Stuxnet computer virus, used against Iranian nuclear facilities. These leaks, say the California Democrat, put "American lives in jeopardy," put "our nation’s security in jeopardy."

But everyone of them served to burnish the Obama “Commander-in-Chief” record.  Even DiFi recognizes where they’re coming from.  As Noonan says, it has becomes clear that “he and his people are all politics, all the time” and those leaks simply serve that end.

Finally Noonan talks about the absurd article Obama was waving around touting the equally absurd notion that he was the president who had spent less than any other president.  You have to be a syphilitic inbred moron with a single digit IQ and totally unaware of what has happened these past 4 years to even begin to believe that.   Yet he’s out there presenting it as “fact”.

And then yesterday, he talked about the private sector “doing fine”. 

It is becoming increasingly clear the man has no grounding in or understanding of economics whatsoever.  And so, the claim he’s “smartest man in the room” seems to be only true if the room is empty.

What Noonan’s deconstruction of Obama signals though, in a larger sense, is the disenchantment of the big middle with Obama.  She’s one of the bellwethers. 

You know E.J. Dionne is an Obamabot.  You know Charles Krauthammer is anti-Obama.  Noonan was among those who were nominally from the right but who endorsed Obama last cycle.

It was cool to be for Obama last time.  It was hip.  It was in.  Our first black president.  A chance to show the world our racial differences have been put aside. 

And heck, what real damage could he do, right?  So she touted his candidacy over McCain’s.

Then reality bitch slapped her.

She’s finally now come to the point where the adage “if you voted for Obama in 2008 to prove you’re not a racist, you need to vote against him in 2012 to prove you’re not an idiot” is staring her directly in the face.  Credibility is in the balance.

Over the next few months, a whole lot of marginal Obama voters are going to come to the same conclusion and in November, the Obama house of cards will collapse.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Summary of election reporting by legacy media for the next seven months

I’m very busy these days*, so I doubt that I’ll have much time this summer to weigh in on the election. But I don’t think it matters much. We’ve seen enough of these elections, and we now have the measure of the legacy media. It’s not that hard to predict a trajectory in advance.

Insert usual disclaimers here: future is uncertain, who knows what will happen, blah, blah, blah – hey, if any of us could predict the future in detail, we’d be on the beach enjoying all the money we made in the stock market.

With those caveats, here, then, is my expected approximate trajectory of reporting, straight from my patented combination of cracked crystal ball, Ouija board, and leaky 8-ball. It includes short summaries of legacy media narratives at various points from roughly a month ago up until past the election. Along about December, we can see how close I came.

(April) Obama is almost certain to be re-elected. How could anyone think otherwise? Plus, did you know Romney has a weird religion and carries dogs on the top of his car?

(early May) Obama is very likely to be re-elected. Though he has challenges to meet as a result of the problems he inherited from Bush. Plus challenges from wingnuts who take things out of context from his books. Which we are absolutely not going to talk about, especially any stuff about eating dog meat.

(mid May) Romney is a strong candidate because he has so much money, but Obama has the hearts and minds of the people, so he’ll win. The economy is showing signs of improvement, which will help Obama.

(June) Romney’s well-funded right-wing henchmen are going all out, and according to polls this will be a close race, but Obama has the advantage because of his committed base. The economy is improving slowly, despite some negative indicators, and will probably peak just as Obama needs it to.

(early July) Romney’s rich buddies have spent millions to make this a toss up, but Obama’s incumbency and natural connection to voters still make him the likely winner. A lot depends on the continued improvement in the economy. By the way, doesn’t Obama look presidential at this 4th of July event?

(late July) The continuous unfair attacks on Obama have put him somewhat behind in the polls, but there’s still plenty of time for him to catch up as the voters realize who is behind the negative campaigning, and as hoped-for economic improvements kick in.

(early August) Obama seems to be losing his mojo, probably because he’s tired from fighting those nasty right-wing partisans who distort everything he says and denigrate his record by blaming him for things that were Bush’s fault. In other unrelated news, unemployment continues to be high because of the Bush recession and financial markets are jittery because of events in Europe, China, and the Middle East.

(mid-August) Obama has lost his mojo because he’s distracted with important matters of governance and frustrations of unfair right-wing attacks. Yes, we know it’s late summer and Congress is out. There are still important matters of governance. (Shift to tone of the guys at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark claiming “top men” were investigating the ark.) Important. Matters.

(late August) Polls show Romney ahead. Obama is fighting for his political life against great odds, as unscrupulous racist opponents level unceasing unfair attacks and as he continues to fight the Bush recession. By the way, did you know Romney believes in a weird, cult-like religion?

(end of August) Romney’s choice for VP at the GOP convention shows just how far right he is. Choosing such a far-right partisan for VP will benefit Obama. Voters will finally realize just how beholden Romney is to rich conservatives who own yachts. Pay no attention to the polls showing Romney with a large lead. It’s just a post-convention bounce.

(early Sept, after a mediocre speech done by Obama at the Democratic National Convention after a couple of days rest, in which he sounds a little like he did in 2008:) Obama has regained his mojo and is surging in the polls according to left-wing polling organization X, and a post-convention bounce has nothing to do with it. By the way, we have an exclusive, documented report that GOP VP candidate X once threw a candy wrapper out on the highway, and is therefore unfit to be vice president.

(late Sept) Obama has pulled almost even again or maybe a little ahead according to internal polls and has momentum that will eventually give him the edge. Due to the rapidly approaching election, we don’t have time to report anything about the economy. But here’s some more negative stuff about GOP VP candidate X.

(early Oct) Romney is a mean rich guy who hates dogs, with an uncaring wife who spends her money on expensive horses, and a VP candidate who is a litterer. We don’t understand how anyone with a brain could vote for him. Look at this thing we just dug up about him which is totally legit and makes him look really bad. Meanwhile, noble Obama is struggling with troubles in Europe and the Middle East, and continued economic problems inherited from Bush, and sure is doing a great job of acting presidential. The race is still very much in doubt. The polls suggesting that Romney has a large and growing lead don’t mean anything.

(late Oct) Obama has mismanaged his campaign by not attacking Romney strongly enough and exposing the fact that he’s a mean, rich guy from a weird cult who throws people out of work. As a result, he might lose the election, though it’s still a toss up according to some small-sample polls who over-sampled urban Democrats by thirty percent.

(early Nov) With voters going to the polls in 48 hours, Obama is embarking on a marathon with twenty speeches a day to remind voters of how wonderful he is. The limited time for planning is the reason the venues are not full to overflowing. Photos of half empty auditoriums are distortions taken while the stage was setting up. Pay no attention to the ones in which Obama is actually speaking to a half-empty auditorium. Those are not from an official media photographer, and are probably Photoshopped.

(election day) As voters go to the polls today, Obama’s campaign staff are quietly confident that the marathon campaigning has turned the tide, and he’s back in the race. Nasty right-wing partisans who will stop at nothing are trying to block him with voter suppression efforts in key states that are probably illegal. Pay no attention to the noble Obama minions at polls bravely fighting back against the wingnuts, even though some get a bit over-enthusiastic and hold billy clubs while standing outside polling doors.

(election day plus two) Obama looks like he has lost a close election, though recounts in several states could still win it for him. Republicans are trying to block all recounts, probably to cover up their own illegal election tampering.

(election day plus seven) Obama is pinning his final hopes on recounts in large state X, where he is 100,000 votes behind, but his staff has expressed confidence that they know about missing ballots that will close that gap.

(election day plus nine) Some of the missing ballots put forth by Democrats turn out to be shredded newspapers in cardboard boxes, but Democratic election officials deny any attempts to manipulate election results.

(election day plus ten) Obama has conceded to Romney. As we long predicted, Romney’s money and right-wing meanness were enough to dupe the electorate into electing him over the noble Obama. Though some doubts remain as to whether the election really should gone the other way and was only decided by throwing out Obama votes that were slightly irregular but clearly indicated voters’ intent, and were certainly not votes from dead people and illegal aliens no matter what those right-wing hacks at Fox say.

(late Nov) Romney is now choosing his cabinet. We can only hope that Romney chooses wise and moderate Republicans who will reach across the aisle to the Democratic minority to craft bipartisan legislation to fix our financial crisis which is still left over from the Bush years, and exacerbated by problems in Europe and China, and definitely was not Obama’s fault. Obama and Michelle have been gracious during the transition, and rumors of broken vases in the White House after Obama’s concession speech are just more right-wing rumor-mongering. Michelle has been working so hard with Ann Romney that she hasn’t been seen in public in weeks.

(early Dec) Romney has chosen a cabinet of right-wing partisans, and is off to a bad start. With a questionable election behind him, instead of healing the nation, Romney chose hard-line GOP insiders like Mitch Daniels and Lamar Alexander as advisors. He’s probably going to be worse than Bush.

 

(*) If you’re a software developer and want to see what I’ve been up to lately, my first video training course for online training company Pluralsight went up a couple of weeks ago. More info here. The course is basically me droning on for four hours about user experience design principles, so I doubt that very many of you would be interested, but perhaps a few would be.

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