More Number Crunching
Whilst I am on my latest fetish of comparing journalistic wisdom and the creation of the common bank from which people draw common sense with actual adventures in numberland, let's have a look at a few recent examples of number crunching.
First, Let's look at the press-inspired swoon over Hillary Clinton's 'comeback' last week. There are plenty of sites that do this a little better than I will, which you can find here or here or here, if you are interested. They all depend on highly optimistic interpretations of numbers.
Headlines such as 'Hillary reverses Obama's Momentum', 'Hillary Comes Back' or 'Clinton Recovers' may have convinced you that Mrs Clinton won Texas, or that she won a majority of delegates last week.
However, Barack Obama is very likely to win a majority of Texas delegates and probably won the Texas caucuses, which have not reported back yet.
So Actually, 'Hillary wins Texas primary but does badly when people actually have to admit being associated with a vote for her and maybe even loses'--a headline which shows why I will never be a sub-editor--is actually more honest.
Let's also have a look at 'John McCain will be unstoppable in November'. The price of petroleum gas at the pumps under an administration that McCain has embraced is now around $4 in the United States. The Republican primaries have seen an electoral turnout of roughly 28% less than the Democrats have enjoyed. The Republican candidates have raised far less money than the two major Democratic candidates individually and severally.
Things have got so bad that the national head of Republican fundraising efforts has took to abusing his party's 'dead asses'.
John McCain won an average vote of around 25-30% if you add up all the Republican primaries and caucuses, and is liberally hated by the soi-disant forces of American 'conservatism'. He thinks the USA should stay in Iraq for 100 years if necessary, and actually has a campaign promise about taking the weakened hyperpower to 'the gates of Hell', which he presumably is going to borrow more money to find somewhere under Washington DC.
As an aside, I saw the McCain campaign 'churchill video' today and noted that they have an audio clip of Teddy Roosevelt talking about leadership. I am fairly sure that the audio clip comes from a reprise of the 1912 campaign and that the McCainiacs have left out the last line of the standard campaign speech that TR used in 1912; they don't use--'we stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord'. Funny that.
Perhaps he will find it by reference to this anti catholic Fifth Monarchist, 'Pastor' John Hagee, who has also been embraced by Mr McCain. Or maybe he might just return to snapping at reporters and service staff, which he did last Friday and for which he is famous in his home state and in Congress, where no one endorsed him until they had to. However, I take the last point as being to his credit.
Seriously, how hard would a half-competent campaign have to try to beat this?
Let's try again. Here is America's current national debt. Here are the money supply figures that suggest, along with the debt repayment in dollars and the trade deficit and the ongoing budget deficit, why any interest rate cut will just further devalue the dollar and feed stagflation.
One of the major problems in America, and it is not invisible here, is the media industry. Competitive pressures create not extremism or creativity but extreme caution, group thinking, and an emphasis on very deferential, very confidential, and very nepotistic journalism which really is a form of PR.
The level on which American journalists function has ever been both pompous, whiny and low, but recently has proved incapable of reporting the decision to start wars, throw away the budget surplus, throw away moral capital, endanger the world, antagonise Europe, promote torture or conduct military operations in such a way as shows even a basic respect for the troops fighting it. I have referenced many of the notes to this blog with American journalism for the numbers, mostly from blogs ; but how many draw anything but short-term lessons?
No, of course, it's much better to write silly teenage stories about 'character'. It comes to something when King Rat himself, Dick Morris, actually talks sense, as he does for utterly transparent anti-Hillary reasons here.
The thing is though, that America seems to be manifesting its best and worst this year. The skullduggery and mendacity of American nineteenth century politics, which Jefferson and Jackson had so much to do with, is evident. So is the corruption and wilful blindness of the gilded age.
To give Obama and McCain their due, however, the half-remembered heights of America's glory days between 1932 and 1968, and the truly republican tone of politics then that critics of the 'Imperial Presidency' failed to grasp, are what they seem to strain towards too.
What I now hope is that the pundits, pollsters, political 'scientists', 'professional' politicians, lobbyists, and breathless silly journalists are all heartily embarrassed and sidelined by the coming campaign. Some hope really, but I am enjoying how just about everyone is wrong about everything and now spinning like crazy to try and deny it.