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Jul 20 , 6:13 PM
Bush Legacy: God of War Goes to Space
by Stirling Newberry

NASA names new rockets after idiot god of war.

Is someone in charge down there with a sense of humor?

Ares for those who don't follow Greek mythology was the god of war, but he was drawn as cowardly, arrogant and stupid.

Great name for the rocket being created for Bush's plans for space. The only thing better would have been to name it the "Arbooster".


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Jul 20 , 12:39 PM
There may be writing
by Stirling Newberry


There may be writing on the wall, but it will still be written one letter at a time. The letters being the individual moments which are burnished in people's memories. The long dull days are past, and letters are appearing on the wall almost every day. With only weeks to go before the primary, Lieberman is behind Ned Lamont in a major poll. Lamont is ahead 51-47, after being behind 55-40 a scant 6 weeks ago. That is, the primary electorate has swung 3 points per week against Lieberman.

Some had thought that Lamont had failed to win the debate, the numbers show otherwise. This is a referendum on party loyalty and political judgement.


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Jul 20 , 10:34 AM
Wage Figures Out and Inflation Bites
by Ian Welsh

The BLS's wage figures for the second quarter are out(pdf):

Median weekly earnings of the nation's 105.9 million full-time wage and salary workers were $659 in the second quarter of 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. This was 2.5 percent higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 4.0 percent in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) over the same period.

In other words, after inflation the median worker is earning 1.5% less than the same time last year. And that is using an inflation number which underestimates inflation somewhat. It's not a huge decreaase, but when you consider that this is the boom period of this business cycle and that people have been taking on debt to increase spending and to pay the interest on loans, suddenly it doesn't look so good.


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Jul 20 , 8:01 AM
Economic Talking Points For Democratic Leaders
by Hale Stewart

To: Dem Leadership


From: Bonddad


Re: Economic Talking Points


Dear Dem Leaders,


You guys don't know how to talk about the economy.  Not at all.  In fact, you guys absolutely suck when it some to talking about the economy.


The American people want you to talk about the economy.  According to a recent ABC/Washington Post poll, 61% of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is handling the economy.  That means they aren't happy and would really like some leadership.  (Look that word up in your dictionary - it's been awhile since you've actually done it.)




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Jul 20 , 4:24 AM
The Economic Outlook - Short, Sharp and Ugly
by Ian Welsh


(Chart from FSU, figures up to late 2006. The Fed discontinued publishing M3 numbers in March 2006 since they were too embarassing.)

Here's the real short sharp economic picture. For the last deacade or so the Fed has been flooding the world with liquidity. Roughly the money supply has been increasing at about double the rate of GDP growth. In the late nineties that money was shoved into stocks (where it doesn't show up inflation numbers). In the early 2000's it went into the housing market (where it doesn't show up inflation numbers either, at least mostly), in the mid 2000's it had been going into commodity speculation (where it shows up in non core inflation which the Fed pretends doesn't matter) and into the hands of rich oilarchies, which has been a major cause of the run up in oil prices.

This is a problem that Bernanke inherited from Greenspan, who from the 1998 Asian crisis on, seemed to respond to every crisis (including crises like "Bad economic times will hurt Republican election chances in 2002 and 2004") by putting the pedal to the metal and releasing more gushes of liquidity, and then by tightening far later and slower than he should have (and yes, I said that at the time.)


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Jul 19 , 8:48 PM
Nation, Country, State
by Stirling Newberry

Lind is a repsected, overly respected, commentator on war. Several people who ought to know better elevate his work, and as a result, come to confused understandings of the world, because he seems to know what he is talking about, even when he does not.

This post reveals the babbling incoherency to his historical analogies and is replete with obviously false assertions. The opening, that a non-state actor has for the first time waged a war across an international boundary simply does not hold water. One of the best counter examples, which I am shocked that Americans don't seem to remember, is the American invasion of Canada during the American Revolution. The Continental Congress was not a state actor, nor was it recognized as such, and even it did not claim that Canada was part of its natural boundaries. And yet the colonials did attempt an invasion, and were soundly beaten back.

Hezbollah is a state, an unrecognized one, but still a state. It's conflict with Israel is a typical proxy war, where a proto-nation state apparatus is funded as a means of attacking another state. We have seen similar situations, notable the MPLA operating out of an area of Angola which they controlled across an international boundary to attack South African occupation of Namibia - which at the time was internationally recognized. Other examples include the situation in Western Sahara, which is officially not self-governing according to the UN, and has seen warfare across the internationally recognized boundary between Morocco and the territory, an boundary that Morocco and other Arab states do not recognize. But then, Israel and Lebanon do not have a settled border either. Another obvious counter example is the Kurdish Turkish dispute. And since Lind fancies himself a devotee of early 20th century history, he must know of Pancho Villa's attacks against Americans during his time as provisional governor of Chihuahua, including a full scale raid into New Mexico. So much for Lind's portentious, and pompous, assertion of uniqueness, and hence for his position as any kind of expert. The word fraud is correct.


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Jul 19 , 5:28 PM
The Sunset of the Pax Americana
by Ian Welsh

It started after World War II, as Britain, broken and bleeding red ink from two world wars, in full imperial overstretch, gave up its colonies one by one and likewise gave up the job both of keeping the world's sea lanes open, and of slapping around minor powers who bucked the system. The formal birth of the Pax Americana and the final grave of the old regime, was the Suez canal, when the US told Britain and France in no uncertain terms to withdraw from the Suez and threatened to cause a financial crisis for England by selling off the US's pound reserves. Britain and France were forced to withdraw and it was clear that the days of British supremacy (and French free action in the Med) were over.


History is indeed odd. When Bretton Woods was set up there were two competing plans - one British, one US. The British plan had mechanisms which considered a trade deficit a problem of both the country with the deficit, and the one with a trade surplus with that country. The US plan didn't - the US had such a huge trade surplus with the rest of the world that the US simply could not imagine that it would ever have the problem of a trade deficit. And the early years of the post war period had the US central bank holding large amounts of other people's currency. Now Bretton Woods is long gone, but what we find today is a situation where the US has both a trade deficit and a current account defict. And other countries, most especially Korea, Japan and China have large US reserves (although even countries we don't think of having large reserves, like the Europeans, have a lot. It's all relative.)


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Jul 19 , 1:46 PM
The Future of Book Publishing, Part 3
by Shaula Evans

Part 3 of my discussion with business guru David Maister about the future of book publishing, which orginally appear as a comment on David's blog. Part 1 of may be found here and Part 2 here. And yes, I have written Part 3 all by myself. [Full disclosure: David Maister is a client of my employer, stresslimitdesign.]



David Maister's post Writers and Peformers is right on the money—but I’m still disturbed by the cynical postmodern fatalism here.


The growing trend towards trained monkeys and dancing bears (cf Kaavya Viswanathan, the plagiarizing Harvard undergraduate novelist and the Spice Girl-ification of the publishing industry) worries me, and I don’t want to go gently into that slick, infomercial-populated night. I don’t know if this generation would recognize a Shakespeare unless he got a hair piece, received a thorough Queer-Eye treatment, and was willing to shake his booty on Americon Idol. Surely the end results is we wind up with more pap culture (sic) idols, and less qualified content producers. Quel dommage. How many Shakespeares, Momma Casses, even Peter Druckers might we be losing in the current system? I’ll take talent and ability over photogenics any day.


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Jul 19 , 1:25 PM
The Future of Book Publishing, Part 2
by Shaula Evans

Part 2 of my discussion with business guru David Maister about the future of book publishing, reproduced with his permission. Part 1 of this exchange may be found here. [Full disclosure: David Maister is a client of my employer, stresslimitdesign.]

The following article by David Maister, entitled Writers and Performers, originally appeared on his blog on July 18, 2006.




Shaula Evans, part of my tech team, spotted an interesting discussion with John Updike, which raised some concerns about the future of publishing. Since we discussed the future of writing books in this blog back in February, she thought we all might be interested.


Apologizing for her rephrasing [of Heather Greene's recap at Business Week Online’s Blogspotting], Shaula says:

In short, much of the advice to (published and aspiring) authors in the digital age boils down to: "Don't worry about monitizing books. Give books away, and make money through collateral revenue streams."


To which Updike responds that authors are writers, not performers, and not likely to succeed as entertainers.


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Jul 19 , 1:19 PM
The Future of Book Publishing, Part 1
by Shaula Evans

Business guru David Maister and I have been involved in an extended discussion about the merits of book publishing, promotions, and Long Tail Economics over on his blog, Passion, People and Principles. With his permission, I am reproducing that exchange here in a series of posts, and I look forward to your responses. [Full disclosure: David Maister is a client of my employer, stresslimitdesign.]

The following article by David Maister, entitled Should You Write A Book?, originally appeared on his blog on February 6, 2006.



Mike Schultz, publisher of RainToday.com , has sent me an email about his company’s new publication. For $149 you can get a downloadable version of The Business Impact of Writing a Book which surveyed 200 authors – all professional services providers – of over 590 business books. The report overview can be found here.


Some interesting results are that 84% of authors report either Very Strong or Strong improvement in their ability to differentiate their services as a result of publishing their book and 53% of authors report either Very Strong or Strong ability to charge higher fees for their services as a result of publishing their book. The report has loads of quotes from the authors interviewed (I was not one of them.)


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Jul 19 , 10:30 AM
The Revolution of the Sphere
by Stirling Newberry

at TPM Cafe

The Death of a Decade

I've read oceans of virtual ink on the conflict in the Levant, as if analyzing it in detail were the means of correcting the situation. But the war there is not a mis-configured text file on a Unix server, which will stop causing problems whenever it is found and fixed, but the flowering of deeper forces. The most simplistic way of putting it is that at $55/barrel, the Arab world can afford to wage one guerilla war against the US, and at $75/barrel, they can afford to wage two. The ur-reality is not Hezbullah, nor even the dynamics of Israeli-Arab relations, but the rattling loose of a good old fashioned dollar glut. The road to any solution in the Levant runs directly through the US Federal Reserve.

Instead it is important to recognize this moment for what it is: the death of a decade. It is not the end, but it is the beginning of the end. It is the Tet moment where elites told Bush, to his face, that he cannot go on as he has. That the battle might be won, but the war is lost.


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Jul 19 , 7:56 AM
Stagnant Wages Starting to Tick-Off Employees
by Hale Stewart
The average worker hasn't seen a meaningful pay increase in three years despite the economy's rebound, according to U.S. Labor Department data.

That may explain the findings of a national survey to be released Monday reporting a sharp jump in the number of employees who feel underpaid.

Nearly 40 percent of employees think their companies pay less-than-market-rate salaries, compared with 28 percent last year, according to an annual survey of workplace attitudes by staffing agency Randstad USA with Harris Interactive Inc.


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Jul 18 , 5:35 PM
Beryl Forms
by Stirling Newberry

Tropical storm off carolina coast.

No threat to oil.


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Jul 18 , 7:47 AM
Cost Keeps 600,000/Year From 4-Year College
by Hale Stewart
The Campaign for America's Future, a Washington-based policy group, estimates that some 200,000 Americans are being priced out of college education annually. Tuition at four-year colleges alone has climbed 40 percent since 2001.

``One in five students say student debt impacts their job choice,'' says Tamara Draut, author of ``Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead.'' ``It's an economic competitiveness argument. We need to continue to make progress on higher education.''

Instead of making a direct investment in human capital, Congress chose to cut student aid in the most recent federal budget by $12 billion while interest charged on student loans climbed 2 percentage points July 1 -- the largest increase in history.


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Jul 17 , 7:59 AM
Did the 2003 tax Cuts Kill Wage and Job Growth?
by Hale Stewart

What I am about to propose is theory.  There are several important events that have occurred at the same time; that does not mean one caused the other.  This is the classic "correlation does not equal causation" problem.  Anyone who has seen any research in this area, please point me in the right direction.


All that being said, there are several events that have concerned me for the last few years that I will advance below as a theory.


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Jul 16 , 10:16 AM
The Cracks in the facade
by Stirling Newberry

What is ripping apart the conservative movement is not the "economic/social" divide that liberal commentators saw, but the reactionary/conservative divide.

Inside the conservative movement there are those who desire theocracy combined with plutocracy - and for a very long time, these individuals were seen as the cutting edge of conservative values. More faithful, more devout, more law abidding, more willing to support the status quo. Now they are being seen as a threat to the values that conservatives hold.

A case in point:


"Let me make it clear. I would shed my last drop of blood to defend their right to hold that biblical worldview. They are absolutely entitled to believe that Anne Frank is burning in hell along with Dr. Seuss, Gandhi and Einstein," he says. "But I will not accept my government telling me who are the children of the greater God and who are the children of the lesser God. That's the difference. I will not defend -- I will fight them tooth and nail, and lay down a withering field of fire and leave sucking chest wounds -- if they engage the machinery of the state, which is what they're doing."


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Jul 16 , 8:25 AM
Income Inequality II: The Myth of Moving Up
by Hale Stewart

The primary argument Republicans advance regarding growing income inequality is anyone can grow up to be rich in America.  This is the classic "rags to riches" story of someone starting poor, working hard and eventually winding up a millionaire.  The question about this myth is simple: is this possible?  The reality is not really.



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Jul 16 , 1:02 AM
Is Hezbollah in the Sweet Spot?
by Ian Welsh

Billmon, in a typically good essay writes something I want to riff off of, about Hezbollah.

(In that sense, Hezbollah may have found the sweet spot in Fourth Generation War: It isn't a state and doesn't carry the political or defensive burdens of one, but it controls enough territory, commands enough popular loyalty and has enough allies to mount some fairly sophisticated military operations, using both conventional and nonconventional weapons. It's powerful enough to be successful -- and be seen as successful -- but not so powerful that state actors like Israel can fight it on equal terms. We may be looking at the New Model Army of the 21st century.)

Hezbollah is a state. One of the reasons that people have trouble analyzing situations is that see the forms, not the underlying reality. Because in our world a "State" is whatever other States recognize as a State, and because no country recognizes Hezbollah as a state, people treat it as if it isn't a State.


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Jul 15 , 8:14 AM
It Was a TERRIBLE Week for the Economy
by Hale Stewart

From TheStreet.com

After breaking through important technical barriers Wednesday and Thursday and sliding early Friday, the major averages attempted a minor rally late Friday, but still ended near their June 13 lows. The worst performer of the week was the Nasdaq Composite, which sunk to its lowest level since October. The Comp closed down 0.82% on the day, and 4.3% on the week to 2037.35, which is 1.6% below its June low of 2072.47.



The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 1% Friday and 3.1% on the week to close at 10.739.35, just 0.3% above its June 13 low of 10,706.14. The S&P 500 declined 0.5% Friday and 2.3% on the week, closing at 1236.19 or 1% over of its June 13 low of 1223.69.


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Jul 14 , 7:20 PM
The Myth of Lebanon
by Ian Welsh


Taylor Marsh has up links to some Lebanese blogs as well as a running compentary on the Middle Eastern open sore. They seem to all be blogs written by Lebanese Christians and at this point they're angrier at Hezbollah and they are at Israel. I would be careful, however, about reading too much into this. Some people seem to be taking this to mean "the Lebanese people are turning against Hezbollah". Unless the Shia base of Hezbollah turns against Hezbollah, even if everyone else does, that's only a slim majority.

Remember, the reason "Lebanon" hasn't disarmed Hezbollah, is that the Lebanese army would lose a confrontation against Hezbollah. If the other Lebanese factions cooperate with Israel in breaking Hezbollah, they'll start another 20 year internicine civil war in Lebanon. It's not possible to stop weapons from getting into Southern Lebanon from Syria (and thus Iran), the Shia are outbreeding the Lebanese Christians and Sunni, and they are poor and tough. They don't have nearly as much to lose as the northern Lebanese and they have no real liking for the rich Christians who abandoned them to Israel last time around. They know they won against Israel, they know it took a long time, and while weary, they probably think they can do it again.


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