Monday, April 26, 2010

Rush Limbaugh, No Psychic

January 6, 2010 is not a day which will live in infamy. It was just another day, one in which the gloom and doom economics of Rush Limbaugh proved less than prescient, and in which Limbaugh’s cheery-eyed climate observations proved terribly false.

On his website, in a section entitled “November Pending Home Sales Drop 16%,” Rush is quoted as saying:

"The number of people preparing to buy a home in November fell sharply in the latest sign that the housing market, which had been rebounding strongly," it has not, "may be headed for a 'double-dip' downturn over the winter." This is from the State-Controlled Associated Press….

“The figures echoed what homebuilders saw in November and showed how dependent" get this "the housing market is on government programs to lower interest rates and lure buyers with tax credits." Yet we know that all of these mortgage programs, the re-doable mortgage, are not working. They have not been made available to most people. The lesson here is the housing market may be headed for a double-dip because the government won't get out of it.

Inconveniently, The New York Times reported on April 23

The Commerce Department said that sales of new homes rose in March to their highest levels since last summer. Over all, the sales of new single-family houses in March were up nearly 27 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 411,000 units, the Commerce Department reported. The increase, which was against a revised rate of 324,000 for February, exceeded expectations....

Economists said the figures suggested that buyers were taking advantage of an $8,000 government tax credit that was scheduled to expire at the end of the month.
But there were other factors beside the tax credit, like an increase in builder optimism and housing starts, that helped push sales higher.

The magic of the government gives way to the impact of the federal government, and the housing sector rebounds dramatically

The same day, Limbaugh exclaimed, under the heading “Global Warming? Record Cold Weather Grips World,”

There have been 1,246 United States winter weather record events since last Wednesday, 1,246 winter weather record events. Snowfall: 454 records. Low temperatures: 233. Lowest maximum temperature: 559. There have been 1,246 US winter weather record events since last Wednesday, and still I can show you stories in the Stack of Stuff about we gotta act fast on climate change and global warming.

The winter numbers now are in, and these also are inconvenient for Limbaugh and his right wing. For the 131-year period of global land and sea temperatures it has studied, The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association now reports: January, 2010 was the fourth warmest January; February, 2010 was the sixth warmest February; and March, 2010 was the warmest March. Overall, the January-March period in 2010 was the fourth warmest January-March period in the 131-year history.

And as for Limbaugh’s excitement over record snowfall and a spate of “winter weather record events” in a short period in January, the Chicago Tribune in February reminded us that

scientists have been warning for at least two decades that global warming could make snowstorms more severe. Snow has two simple ingredients: cold and moisture. Warmer air collects moisture like a sponge until it hits a patch of cold air. When temperatures dip below freezing, a lot of moisture creates a lot of snow.
A rise in global temperature can create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species.

The bad news is that unpredictable (and extreme) weather events will only grown in frequency. The good news, however, is that Rush Limbaugh remains predictable, rarely getting it right.

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