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Aug 9 , 8:42 AM
Possibility of Recession? Pretty Damn High - Here's Why
by Hale Stewart

The talk of recession is increasing. The recent slowdown in GDP – which included a slowing consumer sector, a large slowdown in housing investment and an uncomfortable increase in inflation – increased these predictions. The slowdown in establishment hiring added to the concern. Below are excerpts from three economists – Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong and Nouriel Roubini – who are all concerned about the possibility of a recession.

It’s important to point out no one is making a 100% prediction for a recession. Economists are essentially odds players; they look at various facts and figures and attempt to draw conclusions from the data. However, all three economists point out the data is becoming increasingly bearish for the economy.


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Aug 8 , 11:54 PM
The Lesson of Joe
by Ian Welsh


In the cold days of November 2004, as Kerry went down to defeat with a whimper rather than a roar, my friends and I reeled with despair. Kerry hadn't been any of our first choices for President, but it was clear then that a fateful step had been taken by America in ratifying the stolen election of 2004 by voting for torture and for illegal war. As one friend noted, Kerry, having voted for the war had never been a good candidate to run against Bush.

"Given a choice between a fake Republican and a real one, people will vote for the real thing."

And so we huddled together and we talked. Nothing came of all those talks, and yet over the years much of what we discussed has begun to happen. Today one of the first and most important things happened - Joe Lieberman went down to defeat at the hands of a man no one had even heard of a year ago - Ned Lamont.

Joe was always the obvious target. Despite checking off the boxes needed to keep organizations like NOW and NARAL off his back, Joe was never there when it mattered - at Alito, or impeachment, or in Florida in 2000 Joe could always be counted on to provide covering fire for the Republicans - to repeat their talking points and to allow them to speak of bipartisanship. Joe never got that, as Grover Norquist memorably put it, bipartisanship, to Republicans, was just another word for date-rape.


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Aug 8 , 7:46 PM
Reverend Jackson's Remarks at Lamont HQ
by Stirling Newberry

Reverend Jesse Jackson made an apperance at the Lamont HQ, and gave an interview in the bloggers room. Looking thoughtful, and like a senior statesman who is not yet finished with history, he laid out an argument that the goals of the Lamont campaign are "the moral center" and that a war of choice, and corporate tax policies that have cost jobs represent "the right".

"The war without justification, the first strike, is not democratic."

"We overthrew the taliban, and them made a detour because of a predisposition to Iraq. We cannot handle Hezzbollah, because we are hampered militarily and politically."

Jackson repeated the same points in different forms, with varying degrees of passion depending on the audience - whether old friends, or unknown - is that minimum wage, universal health care, fair tax policies and sound foreign policy represent the core of a new political center.

He also argues that his work in 1984 and 1988 expanded the party, and that the divide between white progressives and african americans work in different political mileus, but that they are coming together on more and more issues.

Lamont up 60/40 with 4% reporting.


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Aug 8 , 5:30 PM
Ignore this boring post about Connecticut
by Stirling Newberry

After meetings early, I've spent a good deal of time driving around the state and talking to - gasp - ordinary voters. The internet scam has not crossed their consciousness. Joe's people have been invisible, and not one person who talked to me offered support for him. In fact Destafano got a good deal more in the way of "yeah, I do need to vote" mentions. The only "vote joe" signs are saw were outside a dilapadated, and closed, gas station, with weeds every place. Meanwhile Lamont signs were lined along well groomed streets in the hilly suburban towns.

Connecticut has pockets of african americans scattered in all of its minor cities and big towns. There was no Joe in evidence in the ones I drove through or saw. If he hopes to with with his "Reverand Doctor Joe Lieberman King" act, it isn't showing, or moving. The only person of color who I saw politically active in the Senate race had a Lamont sign.

The race however, generates heated discussions in coffee houses and truck stops. One thing that is killing Joe is the cost of gasoline - ranging between 3.13 and 3.25 along my route. And that is why the right wing is really terrified - these were once the "white flight" voters, the people who ran from cities to get away from bussing and other "liberal" urban programs out into the subs and exurbs - they are deserting Joe, and by extension, the Republican program for keeping gasoline cheap. If Lamont wins - powered by a combination of top level disconent about the war, and ground level discontent about the state of cities and towns - it will drive a stake through the Reagan coalition of suburban voters and rural resource extractors.

This race isn't really about the war - it is about lying. People feel they have been lied to - about the economy, about how sound the housing market is - one rural route was packed with for sale signs for homes - but it is the war that they have proof positive they were lied about. They want someone who can stand up to Bush - who is not "the President" but "that President" - and someone who won't lie to them any more. Lieberman's campaign, desperate to keep the election close, or even win under depressed turn out - has lied about Lamont's past, about his own record on the war - and now about their site being hacked.

But the internet tempest over Joe2006.com isn't going to change the results of the race. If out of the way connecticut shows up to vote, it will be to send Joe Lieberman back to private life.

Just count the yard signs.


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Aug 8 , 1:35 PM
Three Words: Alito and Roberts
by Ian Welsh

For years whenever you'd bring up the Christian Right and the Republican party people would sneer, "oh, they never get anything from the Republicans. They're just getting used."

I still hear that sometimes and I turn to the person and I reply with three words, "Alito and Roberts."

If they're smart, that's the end of the conversation.


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Aug 8 , 8:45 AM
Housing Update: Uglier and Uglier
by Hale Stewart

While the housing market has not garnered a great deal of attention over the last few weeks (there have been a few other stories of import, like the war in Lebanon and this Lamont guy in Connecticut), it continues to deteriorate.  The stories below are from a variety of sources and locations, but all have one central theme: the once buoyant housing market is slowing.  


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Aug 7 , 10:53 PM
Micah's state of the blogs
by Stirling Newberry

technorati data on doubling time and posting rate

Fascinating.


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Aug 7 , 10:45 PM
Decimalize the Fed
by Stirling Newberry

Now do you understand?

Some time ago I called for a rolling interest rate policy and moving the fed to movements of one basis point on a daily basis. Part of the reason for this was to prevent precisely such thresholding paths through the markets.

Decimalize the fed, or start feeding the hedge funds.

Your choice.


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Aug 7 , 7:54 PM
We're Liebermaniacs
by Stirling Newberry

It's time for Liebermaniacs
And we're crazy to the max
So just sit back and relax
You'll bleed 'til you collapse
We're Liebermaniacs!

We're Liebermaniacs!
Dubya's cute and Joey yaks.
Condi backs away from facts
While Bill Clinton plays the sex sax.
We've got wisecracks by the stacks.
We waste tons of income tax.
We're Liebermaniacs!

Meet Rummy and the Brain who want to rule the universe.

Goodfeathers flock together; Miers whacks 'em with her purse.
Browni chases Katie, while Rita sings a verse.
We're all flipped; we have no script
Why bother to remorse?

We're Liebermaniacs!
We have pay-for-play contracts.
We're crazy to the max
There's baloney from our flacks.
We're meglomanie,
Totally insaney

Liebermaniacs!

So we respect your right to disagree you lying racist hippie peace cult scum!


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Aug 7 , 6:18 PM
Bush now back at 40%
by Stirling Newberry

After a long 6 months below 40, Bush has now scored that number - exactly - in three national polls. The key reason is probably the violence in the Levant - people rally around the President, even if, in this case, it isn't many people. Inflation pressure is still here, but so far, it seems to have stabilized, and while there aren't many new jobs, the older ones are beginning to pay a bit better for employee retention. In short, Bush has recovered a few of his hard core supporters.

He can also count on his most important supporter - Bernanke - not to upset the economic apple cart over the next few months.


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Aug 7 , 1:38 PM
Listening as I work
by Stirling Newberry

A varied assortment of excerpts and downloads, but the old time early 20th century post-Romantic string quartet of Strahan reminds me of all of the old Korngold movie scores and has a lovely lush sound.


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Aug 7 , 10:27 AM
Investors Pray to the Inflation God, Ben
by Stirling Newberry

When an unexpected outage on the north slope of Alaska can drive crude oil prices to nearly $78/barrel - you know the world is awash in dollars. The effects of a dollar glut are seen in Lebanon where Hezbollah has fielded a sophisticated light infantry force capable of inflicting painful fatalities on Israel's army, while still maintaining its terror blitz of missiles - all supplied by Iran's oil money.

In this environment, investors are betting that Ben Bernanke will prove to be soft on inflation. After all corporate profits are growing at double digit rates, they aren't paying the inflation tax, or the stagnation tax.

It sets the stage for the first decisive moment of Bernanke's tenure.


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Aug 6 , 10:54 PM
Flip-Flop Flip-Flop Flip-Flop:
Lieberman Caves on Iraq, sort of kindof, maybe, not exactly,
and fuck you if you disagree, who cares how you vote
by Stirling Newberry

Lieberman's last ditch.

He wants "troops out as fast as anyone" but thinks "leaving now would be a disaster", and sides with Bush. And here is the killer:


“I not only respect your right to disagree or question the president or anyone else, including me, I value your right to disagree,”

But he isn't going to listen to the primary voters - but will instead run as an independent if he loses.

In short, Lieberman wants to end the war, but won't because he agrees with Bush that it is either Bush's way or "cut and run". And he values your right to disagree, but he isn't going to listen to you.

Lieberman - a bleeding heart Bushite to the end. Who cares what you think? Who cares how you vote? And Lieberman just makes mistakes, he doesn't fix them.


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Aug 6 , 12:43 PM
Post: CT Democrats losing faith in Lieberman
by Stirling Newberry

Their man on the ground sees it.

The Post and its outlets tried to make a last ditch gaffe, and it failed to ignite - this means they see the handwriting on the wall. Even if Lieberman wins, he's lost, in that there will be a drive to make sure the next nominee is more in step with Connecticut Democrats.

This is a big torpedo in the nascent Presidential ambitions of Senator Dodd, and a hit to the entire establishment which backed Lieberman despite his consistent selling out. The base backlash could take on untold dimensions if Lieberman runs as an independent. Even more so if he loses.


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Aug 6 , 12:19 PM
The Writ of the State in India
by Ian Welsh

One of the more interesting insurgencies in the world is the Naxalite insurgency of India. It exists in tribal forest land in northern India and has become a significant problem to the Indian government, not least due to the fact that the lands include a great deal of iron ore and the Naxalite guerillas have a tendency to attack the new smelting operations and mines.

The Naxalites have set up a parallel administration in the region, with their own courts, schools and so on. There are some complaints about the Naxalites, especially with regards to their attempts to to manipulate the price of Tengu leaf higher, the way they tend to dictate to the villagers and their redistribution of land from the larger landholders to smaller landholders. (If you can't work it by yourself, you have too much land, as far as the Naxalites are concerned.)

The government response to the Naxalites is a classic counterinsurgency response. They created what they call the Salva Judum (SJ) in the province of Chhattisgarh. The SJ hires local youths to be constables, pays them very well in local terms, and gives them exceptional police powers to detain and question fellow villagers. The second thing the SJ has done is create camps and force villagers to relocate to them - at this point 45,000 villagers in 17 camps. Villages that resist, are burned out and their grain stores destroyed. Informants are used to find out Naxalite sympathizers and they are killed immediately. Retaliation killings then start up. The most extensive report indicates the following:


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Aug 6 , 9:07 AM
Complete Refutation of New GOP Economic Talking Points
by Hale Stewart

Raw Story is claiming it has obtained a copy of the GOP election playbook.  All of the points made therein are crap -- as in pure crap.  Assuming this is the true playbook, here are the basic rebuttals to the economic claims made therein.  This information is free to all to use.  


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Aug 5 , 9:35 PM
Chris? Is that you?
by Stirling Newberry

While officially dissipated...

That looks at least worth an look - one can't write that convection off as being day heating over Cuba.


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Aug 5 , 2:49 PM
Explains A Lot?
by Ian Welsh

Via Taylor Marsh I see this article:

In a meeting, held late last month, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim militia called on Tehran to "accelerate and extend the scope of weapon shipments from Iran to the Islamic Resistance, particularly advanced missiles against ground and air targets."

Hezbollah's representatives pressed for "an array of more advanced weaponry, including more advanced SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems," Jane's said Friday.

"Iranian authorities conveyed a message to the Hezbollah leadership that their forces would continue to receive a steady supply of weapons systems,"it added....

...According to Jane's Defence Weekly, Iranian authorities have supplied the militia with Iranian-made Noor radar-guided anti-ship cruise missiles and Chinese QW-1 (Vanguard) shoulder-launched SAMs.

Russian-made SAMs will reportedly be supplied at a later date.


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Aug 5 , 10:08 AM
Class War: It's Time pt. III
by Hale Stewart

This is the last weekend of "Ned Mania."  Well, maybe not if he wins.  But whatever happens this weekend, it's time for the Dems to really hit home with a message.  I realize that Iraq probably the most important issue out there.  However, the economy is a close second.


According to Polling Report, the economy ranked second in priorities in polls by Harris, ABC News, CBS/NYT and Fox news.  All of these polls were conducted in the last month.  So, why are people so concerned about the economy?  Isn't it doing great?  Aren't GDP numbers awesome?  Yes they are.  But the central question of this recovery is "who's getting a bigger piece of the economic pie?"  And the answer there is corporations and the top 20% of income earners are all disproportionately benefiting.  


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Aug 4 , 4:15 PM
The Revolution is not being televised
by Stirling Newberry

On truthout


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Aug 4 , 12:37 PM
Right Wing Bias at Gallup
by Stirling Newberry

Gallup shoes its trunk

"The once solidly liberal state senator and Connecticut attorney general has adopted a more moderate image since he's been in the U.S. Senate"

No, he's adopted the neo-con hard line on foreign policy and the sell out line on the supreme court while ignoring bread and butter issues back in Connecticut. That's not moderate, nor even centrist. Joe Lieberman is a conservative Democrat who joined with other conservative Democrats to allow Bush to pack the courts with extremist nominees, has backed an illegal, ineffectual and inconclusive occupation in Iraq, and has consistenly attack - not the just the left wing of his own party, but anyone in his party not part of the beltway crowd. This is why Liberal, but insider, Barbara Boxer went out hard for Lieberman, even though Boxer's voting record and stances make her among the most "left" of the Senate Democrats.

Pervasive bias in polling organizations, which are supposed to be neutral measures, is one of the many ways in which the news which reaches us is slanted. One of the most basic points in any political environment is where people are on the spectrum. Joe Lieberman votes left on the little issues - which is why the various micro-issue groups all endorsed Lieberman, including the AFL-CIO and NARAL - while slagging the wing of the party that seeks political and ideological coherence. This isn't moderate, but instead what Mark Schmidt calls "check box politics".

The people who Lieberman has angered aren't necessarily liberals, but they are Democrats. Why wouldn't Republicans like neo-Zellout politics? It's not about ideology, it is about date rape bipartisanship, to use the Republican's own charming phrase.


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Aug 3 , 9:25 AM
Fallows on the Victory over Terrorism
by Ian Welsh

James Fallows has an article in the Atlantic on how the US should declare victory on the War in Terrorism and step down from some of the larger pieces of hysteria driven policy that it has engaged in. He wrote the article by interviewing a bunch of experts, who all pretty much thought the same thing, then wrote the article. Most of it is behind a subscription wall, but if you have a paper copy, or a subscription, it's worth your while to read.

It's in the light of it being a group interview that the article should be read, as a monument to current elite groupthink, not as a startling work of great insight. Indeed the piece has what I consider a number of problems.


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Aug 3 , 8:30 AM
Corporate Profits Up; Pay Still Isn't
by Hale Stewart

It's earnings season on Wall Street.  Here are some of the resultsfrom Bloomberg:


Through yesterday, 71 percent of S&P 500 members that reported posted second-quarter earnings beat analysts' estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That's higher than the 68 percent figure for the first quarter and the 57 percent average since 1992.



Analysts estimate profit growth in the April-to-June period of 14.8 percent, which extends the S&P 500's stretch of 10 percent-plus quarterly increases to three years, according to Thomson Financial. Earnings will climb 14.7 percent this period and 14 percent in the final three months of 2006, based on Thomson data.



``This streak of above-average corporate earnings has been going on for a long time now,'' said Eric Thorne, who helps oversee $2.3 billion at Bryn Mawr Trust Co. in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. ``The underlying strength is there from the economy and the earnings picture.''


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Aug 3 , 6:59 AM
TS Chris update
by Stirling Newberry

Overnight the "convection" - that is the big thunderstorm activity - got sheared away from the "circulation" - that is the spinning low. This is because of winds, and dryness - Chris always had to cross the dry gulf of air, and it looks now like it may or may not do so. The next 24 hours will tell the tale. If the circulation is strong enough, it will suck the convection back in, and Chris is a growing tropical storm again. If not, it will become a remnant low and a tropical depression.

But even then we aren't out of the woods, becuase that remnant low could reacquire convection on the other side of the dry air. The other solution is to have the circulation get pulled south toward the convection.

However, there is a good chance we've dodged the bullet here.


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