March 31, 2009
— Slublog The spin on this one starts right in the lead:
WASHINGTON - The number of Americans who believe that the nation is headed in the right direction has roughly tripled since Barack Obama's election...Okay. Let's stop there and go further down the story, to paragraph four.
The percentage of Americans in the new poll who said the country is on the right track still stands at just 42 percent...Wait...42 percent? In the era of hope and change? That's pretty solidly below a majority. Maybe it's a plurality out of right track/wrong track/don't know. Let's see:
but that is the highest percentage saying so in five years and marks a sharp turnabout from last fall, when as many as nine in 10 said the country was heading in the wrong direction. Fifty-seven percent now consider the nation as moving on the wrong track.Once you get past the 'yeah, but...yeah, but...' explanations helpfully provided by the reporters, the headline should really be, "Majority still believes country on wrong track, despite Obama election." The reporters spin valiantly, pointing out that the 'right track' number is higher than it's ever been but that doesn't change the fact that the candidate of hope, change and optimism has yet to convince a majority of Americans that the country is on the right track.
The story mentions that independents are "less solidly" behind Obama than they once were, but here's what that really means:
Obama's overall approval rating among independents has dipped six points, to 61 percent, and fewer than half, 45 percent, said he is doing a good job of handling the deficit...This could provide an opportunity for the GOP, if they're smart enough to take it. The poll does show that GOP attempts to paint Obama as just another tax and spend liberal are being crushed under the steamroller of the president's rhetoric. People want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt.
...after two months of vigorous debate about his stimulus package and ambitious budget blueprint, confidence has decreased by 13 points among independents...
...the percentage of independents siding with Obama has dropped 12 points, to 50 percent. Many of those independents in the new poll said neither has the upper hand in the economic debate. About a quarter of independents align with the Republicans on this question.
Still, the overall numbers look pretty good for Obama, right?
Well, yes. Until you consider the partisan split of the poll, found in the data.
Even with an 11-point advantage among Democrats, Obama cannot convince a majority that the country is on the right track or that his approach to spending and the deficit is correct. Even with that huge advantage, only 27% say the economy is getting better, while 36% say it's getting worse. There is improvement in those numbers, but nothing like what should be expected given the lopsided partisan split. The relative softness of these numbers show that Obama is having trouble convincing people of his own party that his policies are correct.
Keep that partisan split in mind the next time you hear a journalist proclaim that Obama still has strong approval ratings in the country. Ask yourself how many of those statements are based upon Potemkin village polls like this one. Obama is doubtless still more popular than the Republicans, but the press is doing him no favors by trying to paint rainbows over dark clouds.
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A Newsweek profile headlined "Is Ilyas Kashmiri the New Bin Laden?” said he "has the experience, the connections, and a determination to attack the West – including the United States—that make him the most dangerous Qaeda operative to emerge in years.”
A Pakistani intelligence official said Kashmiri was among nine militants killed in the strike. While identifying individuals killed in such attacks can be difficult, a fax from the militant group he was heading – Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami's "313 Brigade" – confirmed Kashmiri was "martyred" in the strike.
Described by U.S. officials as Al Qaeda's military operations chief in Pakistan, he was one of five most-wanted militant leaders in the country, accused in a string of attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai massacre.
Kashmiri also has been linked to last month's assault on a Pakistani naval base in Karachi.
He is also accused of masterminding several raids on Pakistan police and intelligence buildings in 2009 and 2010, as well as a failed assassination attempt against then-President Pervez Musharraf in 2003. The US Department of State says he organized a 2006 suicide bombing against the US consulate in Karachi that killed four people, including an American diplomat
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They are making contingency plans, of course, because the time when sponsors and advertisers must make decisions on how loyal they can be to pro football is rapidly approaching.
"We're not at an Armageddon date. We not staring that in the face this week," Eric Grubman, NFL executive vice president of business operations for the NFL, told The Associated Press during the owners' meetings last week. "The demand is good, I think strong. The platform of being with the NFL remains very valuable and healthy.
"We have had losses (of potential new sponsors) that won't return immediately. With some of those, people have said they are not signing with us because of the labor situation. Those dollars have moved on forever, but those partners have not, I think. I think when we get back to (playing) games, I like our chances to get them back.
"We're scratching and clawing to show them this, the value is still going to be there."
On the other side, NFL Players, the marketing arm for the players association, says it has not lost any marketing partners. Keith Gordon, the organization's president, believes the worth of its players to advertisers and sponsors could actually grow should the lockout continue into the fall.
"While sponsors are hopingAdvertisement // that football resumes in the fall, they're also positioning themselves to maximize player involvement without games being played," he said. "The lockout provides greater access to players at a time when they would normally be inaccessible.
"While unfortunate, it creates an opportunity for players that would otherwise not be present."
But those players already are in danger of losing money—aside from what they currently are spending for medical coverage and what they potentially will lose in salary and bonuses if training camps, the preseason and real games are lost.
"In general, the most costly part of the lockout has been the contraction of the commercial opportunities for players with NFL sponsors," Gordon said. "In particular, those (sponsors) who have either decided not to renew or those who have shifted dollars elsewhere.
"Sponsors usually spend the summer months working with players and integrating them into creative (campaigns) for their season-long marketing campaigns."
One sponsor, Procter and Gamble, has said it's making alternate plans. Others surely are, as well.
"Of course, we hope that an agreement is reached soon and the season commences as scheduled," P&G spokeswoman Anne Westbrook said. "But we are planning with many contingencies in mind."
So are the league's broadcast partners, who might have the most to lose without a new collective bargaining agreement soon. The last thing ESPN, NBC, Fox or CBS wants is the loss of the cash cow that comes with regular-season telecasts.
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