Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 30 Oct 12 (Updated)

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell a steep 6.7 points to 80.6, as investors’ risk appetite plummeted.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index in July showed a 0.5% monthly gain On a year-over-year basis, the index rose 2.0%.

In weekly retail sales, Redbook is still delayed, but ICSC-Goldman reports a 0.5% weekly sales increase, but the year-on-year pace fell to 2.7%.

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Dale Franks
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Gallup does some myth busting

What is spin and what is fact out there right now? Well, if I had to guess, we’re in the 80 to 90% factor when talking about spin. Both campaigns are heavily engaged in trying to convince the public that the election is as they say it is.

One of the more persistent bits of spin has been “early voting has heavily favored Obama”.

I’m not sure how those who were tossing that little nugget out there were so sure, but that’s been the story. And obviously, it’s intent was to calm the waters, make it appear that Obama was in control and that his base was enthusiastic and out supporting him at the voting booth.

Except it seems it may have been just that – spin.

Gallup weighs in today with this:

Hmmm.  That doesn’t at all track with the Obama spin does it?  In fact, it’s not even close.   The report says 15% of registered voters have voted.  And at this point, at least according to Gallup, Romney leads 52 to 46.  If true, that points to two problems for the Obama campaign (beside the fact that their claim seems to be hogwash) – 1) enthusiasm and 2) GOTV effort.  Not so hot in either category, huh?

Yes, I know, there are all kinds of things that can be said about this, with “whys” and “wherefores”, caveats and whatever.

However, given this, one thing should be clear – when the Obama campaign again claims they’re leading in early voting, they’ll have to come up with something to counter this, won’t they?

And, speaking of spin, one could argue that perhaps … perhaps … the early voting indicates the possible outcome and it’s percentage.

Heh …

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 29 Oct 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

Personal Income rose 0.4% in September while personal spending rose 0.8%. The PCE price index jumped 0.4%, while the core rate was more modest with a 0.1% rise. On a year-over-year basis, the PCE price index rose 1.7% at the core and headline levels.

The Dallas Fed general business activity index in October rose 0.7 points to –0.9, indicating a slightly slower rate of contraction.

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Dale Franks
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Benghazi: Cowardice and incompetence

A deadly combination. If this election is about “trust” as Obama likes to say, then I trust him about as far as I could throw him.

This lady does about as good a job as you’ll see laying it all out:

Interesting footnote and something the Obama campaign has apparently forgotten:

A strikingly similar story from across the pond proves that honesty in the wake of terrorist attacks matters to voters.

On March 11, 2004, an al-Qaida terrorist cell bombed the commuter train system in Madrid, Spain. Nearly 200 people were killed.

The attack came just three days before Spain’s prime ministerial election. At the time, incumbent Jose Maria Aznar was enjoying a small lead in the polls. But the attack changed everything — and Aznar ended up losing to challenger Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero by five points.

Today, the consensus is that Aznar lost the election because of his mishandling and misrepresentation of the Madrid bombings. Aznar and his party claimed the bombings were the work of a Basque separatist organization, despite evidence to the contrary. The theory is that because Spain had recently entered the Iraq War — something that was unpopular with the Spanish electorate at the time — Aznar believed that admitting al-Qaida was behind the attack would damage his re-election chances.

The parallel between the Madrid bombings and the Benghazi attack is obvious. Like the Madrid bombings, the Benghazi attack happened in the midst of a heated campaign season and was followed by confusion, false assertions, and — worse — misrepresentations by the very political leaders asking for the electorate’s trust.

At the very least, the Obama administration bungled its response to the Benghazi attack. And the more information about the attack that surfaces, the worse President Obama looks.

Indeed. Keep this alive, because it illustrates explicitly why Obama is not someone this country can trust.

~McQ

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Why I don’t believe the polls

It’s rather simple really. And the Washington Post provides the answer today:

In the last three releases of the tracking poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, Obama has trailed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among independent voters by between 16 and 20 percentage points.

That’s a striking reversal from 2008, when Obama won independent voters, who made up 29 percent of the electorate, by eight points over Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

And if Romney’s large margin among independents holds, it will be a break not just from 2008 but also from 2000 and 2004. In 2000, Texas Gov. George W. Bush won independents by 47 percent to 45 percent over Vice President Al Gore. Four years later, Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts essentially split unaffiliated voters, according to exit polls — 48 percent for Bush to 49 percent for Kerry. (Independents made up 27 percent of the vote in 2000 and 26 percent in 2004.)

It is more than a “striking reversal”, it is an indicator of what other major demographics are demonstrating as well. A big shift away from Obama. So one of two things has to be true – the polls showing these big demographic shifts away from Obama are wrong, or the polls showing this to be a tight race with Obama slightly ahead or behind have to be wrong. They can’t both be right.

When you add in the “atmospherics”, it is hard to believe this is a tight race. The enthusiasm for Obama isn’t there (and certainly not at all like it was in 2008), apparently the major demographics aren’t there and finally, even in the polls that do show a close race, the trend continues to be up for Romney.

It still isn’t clear what demographic model the polls are using, but as I said in the podcast last night, if it is skewed with D+ anything, it is likely wrong.  If I had to guess I’d say a poll that isn’t skewing at least R+1 isn’t even in the same galaxy as this election.  The atmospherics, demographics and momentum, whether the left or MSM wants to admit it or not, are on the side of the GOP.  My guess is this doesn’t end up being a close election and that Democrats are not going to be happy with the outcome.

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 28 Oct 12

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the upcoming election, Hurricane Sandy’s possible effect and the debacle in Benghazi.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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Benghazi – OK, this is serious and it’s bad

Leon Panetta wants to dismiss all of this as “Monday morning quarterbacking”. I beg to differ.

Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later was denied by U.S. officials — who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

If true, and there is a shred of evidence to support this, this is malfeasance of the worst type. You have an ambassador in danger in an unsecured location that is basically indefensible and is calling for help and those who could help are told to “stand down?”

Seriously?

Of course two of the former SEALs disregarded that order and went.

But according to Fox it wasn’t just the CIA Annex that was told to “stand down”. The CIA Annex then came under attack:

At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound.

The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Spectre gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.

So we have a 4 hour gun battle going on at an obviously sensitive installation, we have drones on site, F/A 18s an hour away, a C-130 Spectre gun ship about an hour and a half away and they’re denied support?

Yup:

A Special Operations team, or CIF which stands for Commanders in Extremis Force, operating in Central Europe had been moved to Sigonella, Italy, but they never told to deploy. In fact, a Pentagon official says there were never any requests to deploy assets from outside the country. A second force that specializes in counterterrorism rescues was on hand at Sigonella, according to senior military and intelligence sources. According to those sources, they could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours. They were the same distance to Benghazi as those that were sent from Tripoli. Spectre gunships are commonly used by the Special Operations community to provide close air support.

According to sources on the ground during the attack, the special operator on the roof of the CIA annex had visual contact and a laser pointing at the Libyan mortar team that was targeting the CIA annex. The operators were calling in coordinates of where the Libyan forces were firing from.

Why?

Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that there was not a clear enough picture of what was occurring on the ground in Benghazi to send help.

“There’s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on here,” Panetta said Thursday. “But the basic principle here … is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on.”

Let’s try this again … you had your people under attack, you had drones on site, you had a spec ops guy on the roof lasing the mortar team and Panetta claims they “didn’t know what was going on?”

That says a hell of a lot more about Panetta and Obama than anyone else.  Anyone worth their salt goes for over kill, not “wait and see” in a situation like that. Situations like this are why you have contingency plans and units designated as Quick Reaction Forces (QRF).  You can always recall your forces.  And, if you give even a stinking whit about force protection you go in and secure the area and personnel who were under attack anyway.

That should be SOP and, as you can tell, they had the forces available to do that.   Panetta is full of exactly what Obama accused Romney of.

This is a farce.  A deadly farce that was mishandled from the get go.

U.S. officials argue that there was a period of several hours when the fighting stopped before the mortars were fired at the annex, leading officials to believe the attack was over.

Anyone know what this is considered in the military?  A groundless assumption.  We don’t operate off groundless assumptions.  We react and do what is necessary based on reality and in order to secure our personnel and facilities.  And, what “U.S. officials” are arguing is a steaming pile of BS and anyone with an ounce of sense knows that.

And what did their utter and incomprehensible incompetence cause?  Death.  Death to OUR people, that’s what:

Tyrone Woods was later joined at the scene by fellow former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was sent in from Tripoli as part of a Global Response Staff or GRS that provides security to CIA case officers and provides countersurveillance and surveillance protection. They were killed by a mortar shell at 4 a.m. Libyan time, nearly seven hours after the attack on the consulate began — a window that represented more than enough time for the U.S. military to send back-up from nearby bases in Europe, according to sources familiar with Special Operations. Four mortars were fired at the annex. The first one struck outside the annex. Three more hit the annex.

But you know, the Prez was late for a date in Las Vegas, so … no time for that sort of nonsense.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 26 Oct 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

The Commerce Department reports that the initial estimate for 3rd quarter GDP was that the economy grew at a  lackluster 2.0% annualized pace. The GDP price index rose more than expected, to 2.8%. Government spending was surprisingly positive for the report, as were personal consumption expenditures, led by durable goods. Still, growth is below normal, so the outlook for employment growth is not good.

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index posted an October reading of 82.6.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 25 Oct 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

Last month’s huge 13.1% drop in durable goods orders rebounded with a 9.9% increase for September, and a 2.0% rise ex-transportation. On a year-over-year basis, orders are up 2.5%, but ex-transportation orders are down –1.6%.

Initial jobless claims for last week were down a sharp 23,000 to 369,000, while the 4-week average rose slightly to 368,000. Continuing claims  fell 2,000 to 3.254 million. Obviously, the weekly claims have been very volatile, and the seasonal adjustment factors haven’t been smoothing that out very well.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index rose to 0 from –0.87 last month, indicating an economy that is neither expanding nor contracting, but balanced in a perfect equilibrium. Which is, of course, a practical impossibility.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to -34.6 from -34.8 the prior week.

The pending home sales index rose a minimal 0.3% in September, following last month’s big –2.6% drop.

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Dale Franks
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