Tuesday, December 22, 2009

November Home Sales Soar 7.4 Percent

"Home resales surged last month to the highest level in nearly three years, reflecting an extraordinary level of federal support that has pulled the housing market back from the worst downturn since the Great Depression."

Read more at: The Associated Press

That's change I can believe in.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Good News of the Day

"PRINCETON, NJ -- The average amount of money Americans predict they will spend on Christmas gifts this season is now $743, up from last month's estimate and a healthy increase over Americans' Christmas spending forecast at this time a year ago.


The $743 Americans now predict they will spend on gifts this season is a substantial increase over the $639 they reported a year ago, and also higher than what they predicted in November of this year. Based on Gallup's model, this should translate into a significant swing in actual holiday retail sales. Instead of the 3.4% decline holiday retailers saw in 2008, they can likely expect a slight improvement in sales this year, on the order of 1%."

Read more at Gallup

Friday, December 18, 2009

Good News of the Day

I'm going to start posting one a day if I find the time since it appears nobody else is interested in doing so.

"The balance has shifted: More states reported declining unemployment in November than posted increases, according to a government report released Friday.

The national unemployment rate improved to 10% last month as joblessness fell in 36 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Labor Department's survey on state unemployment. The rate rose in eight states and held steady in six."

Read more at: 36 States Reporting Declining Unemployment/

Monday, December 14, 2009

Keep Things in Perspective Dems

I'm not asking Progressives to drop their convictions but rallying your peers to not vote in 2010 will have one result, and that is to never see any sort of laws coming out of Congress that remotely resemble something you would want enacted, because Republicans are going to trounce all over the Dems if enthusiasm is crushed beyond repair.

Carry on....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Increases in Consumer Spending According to Gallup

I was looking at Gallup's 14 day rolling averages of consumer spending since they noted this year was down %21 from last year last week and I noticed something that seems promising.

If you look at last December, starting in November, from the lowest spending to when it peaked in January, it went from $74 to $87. That's a 17.5% gain.

So far this year, the increase has gone from a low in November of $63 to its current $72. That's an increase of 14.2% in spending so far and we aren't even done with Christmas spending so far.

We'll know in a few weeks if spending increased at a greater pace than last year during the same period.

(Updated December 19)

This years spending peaked a little later. Last year we peaked on December 5th. This years peaked on December 13th. We went from a low of $63 mid November at the start of the increase to a high of $79 dollar on the 14 day average on Gallup. That's a gain of of 25.3% in spending. The three day averages seem to be spiking less during this Holiday season as compared to last year. Lastly, last year the U.S. peaked at $87 and this year we peaked at $79 on the 14 day average. This means at peak time spending, there was only a 9% drop in peak spending compared to the 21% previously reported by Gallup as I noted at the top of this post.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Message From our Troops in Afghanistan

Back in early October, Spencer Ackerman from his blog had linked to this blog requesting supplies for the soldiers who's forward operating base was destroyed during a twelve hour intense firefight with Taliban forces on the bordering region with Pakistan. Because of the quick response generated and due to people like Spencer Ackermann and others pointing to the blog, the troops were able to quickly resupply themselves with the goods they need to get back out there and finish the job they signed up to do.

I thought I'd share the letter of appreciation so others that may have played a part could read it.

Dear Black Knight Troop Supporters,

On behalf of the Black Knight FRG, 3-61 Cavalry, we want to thank you for your generous donation. Your support provides great strength for our soldiers in Afghanistan and the families back home.

October 3, 2009 is a day that we will never forget. The attack on Combat Outpost (COP) Keating and Observation Post (OP) Fritsche was a hard-fought battle and has changed the lives of so many of our soldiers and their families. We will always remember the lives of SGT Joshua Kirk, SGT Justin Gallegos, SGT Joshua Hardt, SPC Michael Scusa, SPC Christopher Griffin, SPC Stephan Mace, PFC Kevin Thomson, and SGT Vernon Martin. Their service to our country and their sacrifices will never be forgotten.

Each soldier in Black Knight troop is a true American hero. As the soldiers were focused on surviving during more than 12 hours of intense combat, more than 70% of their buildings caught fire. As you know, many lost everything they had. Please know that your donations and quick response helped our soldiers get back on their feet quickly. They are strong soldiers who have become closer through this very challenging time.

Your support has given all the families back home peace of mind that their soldiers are being very well taken care of. We appreciate your kindness and generosity. Thank you for your patriotism and support to Black Knight Troop, 3-61 CAV.

Black Knight FRG

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Show a Little Backbone America

The same party that is pushing for military tribunals to try and convict Khalid Sheik Mohamed rather than try him in Federal Courts in NYC are the same party that are now not confident to allow the military justice system enough time to investigate, try and convict Maj Hasan, the shooter that went on a rampage at Ft. Hood Texas.

The same party that breathlessly speaks of endless wars and the courage of our country is now trying to stoke fear in the minds of Americans when talk of housing Guantanamo detainees in a Supermax facility in Illinois comes up.


It's time for Democratic leaders to stand up to this petty fear mongering and let the American population know we won't cower to the fear terrorists hope to bestow upon us.

It appears President Obama and AG Eric Holder have done just that in an article by the Associated Press this morning.

In the article, Obama stated "I think this notion that we have to be fearful that these terrorists possess some special powers that prevent us from presenting evidence against them, locking them up and exacting swift justice, I think that has been a fundamental mistake." In the same article President Obama declared 'those offended by the legal privileges being given to Mohammed by trying him in a civilian court ultimately won’t find it "offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him."

Eric Holder echoed this sentiment when he said “We need not cower in the face of this enemy...Our institutions are strong, our infrastructure is sturdy, our resolve is firm, and our people are ready.”

That's what I'm talking about.

Cleaning out this legal mess left by the previous administration is going to be a cumbersome process since many of the detainees were treated in ways that violated both the Geneva Convention and The United Nations Convention Against Torture signed and championed by Ronald Reagan. I don't think many realize the legal minefield Cheney set. It could take decades to unwind this mess.

Trying and convicting these criminals is all part of it and every American should find the courage in them to stand behind the laws and courts of this country and have faith in our justice system to either put these cowards behind bars indefinitely or execute them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

When Did The Housing Bubble Start?

There has been plenty of blame to go around lately as to who is responsible for the burst. Conservatives seem quick to try and lay blame on a combination of obscure statements Barney Frank made while in the minority and had no control over which legislation came to vote in the committee and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 which encouraged lending agencies to lend to low to medium income individuals. Some even like to jump to the conclusion that Fannie and Freddie were primarily responsible when it's clearly reported they played a minimal role in the collapse.

One of the more accurate accurate depictions I've run across of exactly what happened to cause the final burst is this Jonathan Jarvis video, The Crisis of Credit. It explains how the large investment firms perpetuated the massive bubble by encouraging lending to just about anyone to keep the revenue momentum flowing.

There were some players that profited greatly off of the downturn as noted by Michael Lewis, the author of Liars Poker, who discussed the scandals of 1980's Wall Street bond market. Michael Lewis recently chronicled how Goldman Sachs and Deutche Bank worked to short housing markets overwhelmingly invested in by Merryl, Lehman and UBS in his Nov. 11, 1009 article in Portfolio.com, entitled The End.

On Nov. 1, 2009, McClatchy has reported that Goldman Sachs peddled more than 40 billion (that's 40 with nine of these 0). GS has been at the forefront of this crisis.

Just to wrap up these last two paragraphs. Goldman Sachs basically assisted in perpetuating the bubble then profited greatly on the crashing bubble. You've got to give it to them. They came out ahead of just about everyone. It's a shame they couldn't have given their ex-CEO Henry Paulson, head of the SEC during the crash, a heads up.

Maybe this fiasco could have been prevented.

Maybe they all really didn't realize just how much global exposure there was to CDO's and the AAA bonds they created that were being invested into from banks to individuals to firms managing retirement funds. But I doubt it. But this is not why I wrote this article. I wrote it because I wanted to get to the bottom of when did the housing bubble start.

At around the time of the crash, I got curious as to when this housing bubble began. I ran across this chart. It's clear the bubble began around 1997. I then used the trustworthy Google to see if there was any significant tax code passed or financial laws passed that may have accounted for this.

I ran across a law that fit my requirements to a T. A law that no doubt helped millions of Americans to sell their homes and upgrade to even larger ones at savings never seen in modern times. A law that changed the behavior of home owners from one of buying a home to live in to buying a home as a future investment, only to be sold years later at record profits. This was repeated over and over by millions of people across the United States. The law was the part of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. A certain provision of this law allowed for profits of home sales to be tax free at levels of 250k for individuals and 500k to couples.

I am not the first person to suggest this. After doing some research it appears others have come to this conclusion. Vernon Smith, a Nobel Laureate in Economics and Professor at George Mason University. Mr. Smith wrote an article for the WSJ calling this the Clinton housing bubble.

Now, I'm not saying I won't benefit greatly from this tax code in the event I choose to sell nor that this tax has undoubtedly benefited millions of Americans across the U.S. What I am saying in this. This tax code, unbeknownst to those signing off on it, created one of the largest bubbles in our economy in modern times that ended up turning into a crash so large it almost took the worlds financial systems with it when the bubble burst.

Crisis averted for now. Question is, will someone be watching for the next bubble?

Friday, October 23, 2009

The News Corporation Global Propaganda Network

I notice the Fox Propaganda Network decries any other network that doesn’t partake in their propaganda to take down this democratically elected administration as being in the tank for the administration.

Any time an organization pushes this administration for progressive reform the propaganda networks; Fox, talk radio and the right wing sites, call them the far left radical loons. Take note that when the criticism is directed back at organizations attacking this administration by calling them nazi’s, communist sympathizers and threats to the constitution, it’s an attack on every day American citizens. It’s all propaganda.

And here is where Murdoch’s danger lies. He’s managed to take control of media outlets around the world in every G5 member and many of the G12 members.

He’s implemented a global propaganda network with the intent to give the impression of global consensus on issues with the perspective he would like to be pushed forth.

If there was ever a time to be concerned about a one organization global power it would be to take note of what Newscorp has manged to do.

Some of the more influential media outlets that he owns are Fox, WSJ and New York Post. Often times, stories will be quoted from these as if they are independent organizations. Another prominent media outlet includes The Times in the UK. He owns satellite networks in nine countries around the globe. Owns cable channels in over seventeen Latin American countries.

NewsCorp is currently in a heated battle right now with the BBC to gain more control of the media markets there. They are complaining of BBC dominance. He is also in a heated battle with Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy over battles regarding his Sky Italia satellite network.

Next time you hear a foreign press service attacking this administration, check as see if its a Murdoch organization. You'll be surprised how this ends up being the case more often than not.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Birthers, the Deathers and the Tea-baggers.

The Birthers, the Deathers and the Tea-baggers. What do all three of these groups have in common?

They all invoke Godwin's Law in record speed.

This isn't just some fringe element associating themselves with these people invoking Godwin's Law so quickly. Think Progress has an article from the How To Take America Back right wing conference with speakers such as Rep. Tom Price, Michele Bachmann and Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Let me give you a rundown on what Godwin's Law is exactly, then you will see just how ridiculous these conservatives have become by embracing a faux pas bloggers almost unanimously make fun of.

According to Wikipedia, Godwin's Law is:

"is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 which has become an Internet adage. It states: "As a UsenetNazis or Hitler approaches 1." discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazi's or Hitler approaches one."

The problem is this, rather than waiting, (just for simplicity, I'll refer to The Birthers, Deathers and Tea-baggers as BDT) BDT'ers have decided to go full throttle Godwin on Obama and his administration right off the bat. As Godwin's Wiki entry states, Reductio ad Hitlerum refers to:

"The fallacy most often assumes the form of "Hitler (or the Nazis) supported X, therefore X must be evil/undesirable/bad. For example: "Hitler was a vegetarian, so vegetarianism is wrong." The tactic is often used to derail arguments, as such a comparison tends to distract and to result in angry and less reasoned responses."

The comparisons of Obama actions to Nazi action has turned into Reductio ad Hitlerum on steroids. Case in point. The previous Think Progress link I pointed to above, spoke of Kitty Werthmann, during her workshop, "How to recognize living under Nazis and communism, mentioned "They had Joseph Goebbels; we have Mark Lloyd, the diversity czar." This isn't the most obsurd claim. The BDT's have also pointed out similarities of his "indoctrination" of school children recently when he gave school children a speech on the opening day of school. The paranoia grew into a frenzy, even causing some parents pull their kids out of school that day.

Conservatives have managed to take one of the jokes of the internet and turn it into one of the driving forces to energize their base. I'm not sure exactly what that says about the conservative base.

I bet Mike Godwin never thought he'd be yelling Godwins Law every time he turned on the T.V. when a story about President Obama came up.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Jesus Camp Bush Worship - Talk About Throwing Bricks in a Glass House

It seems Fox News has decided to further the smear campaign against this president and coordinate with Drudge Report to push the story of school children singing a song about President Obama during Black History Month this past winter. Odd how this is brand new information to Fox since this tape has been out for some time now.

Here's what Fox News didn't tell you and is much more disturbing.

I'm sure everyone remember the Jesus Camp movie that came out some time ago where children were put into some sort of summer camp to train how to worship Jesus. Well, worshiping of Jesus wasn't the only thing going on.

Here is an excerpt from Jesus Camp that I'm sure most of you will find pretty disturbing.

This isn't the only example of Bush worship.

The Huffington Post recently linked to a story about how school children greeting Bush with a song in response to none other than his response to Katrina.

Anyways, before the propaganda machine Fox News decides to push a story to distract their viewership from the gains being achieved by President Obama at not only the U.N. meeting, but also at the G20 summit, they should probably do a little bit of research. Of course, those viewing Fox News will never know about these Bush worship videos because they aren't even a real news organization and never show both sides of a story.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cash for Clunkers and the Hypocrisy of Conservatives

Cash for Clunkers succeeded beyond anyone's imagination. In under a week, much of the $1 billion in the original CAR Allowance Rebate System (C.A.R.S) was used up.

This program benefits the buyers with a new fuel efficient vehicle at a discount. It benefits the dealerships by moving inventory. As inventories clear, factories will begin turning out more cars. The factories will require parts from parts manufacturers. At each step, workers will benefit and generate stimulus through pay to kick start this ailing economy.

According to a Bloomberg article the additional 2 billion approved today by the Senate, could increase GDP by .5 percentage points.

To find out if you qualify you can go to cars.gov .

You would think conservatives would be ecstatic when Americans are given some of those hard earned tax dollars back to go out and make purchases right? Wrong.

At every step of the way, conservatives have railed against this plan claiming we can't afford it. Of course, tax right offs to companies to do every day business is O.K. but when its American families that need a tax cut, its Socialism.

There is another program in the U.S. that is very similar to this program and you never hear a peep about it. That would be the Federal tax credits for energy efficient clients and home improvement upgrades.

When was the last time you heard Senators coming out against these tax credits? Are the right wing talking heads shouting out against this?

Never and no.

Why? Because when the tax credits came about, a Republican was in the White House. A bit hypocritical, don't you think? But now, since a Democrat is in charge and conservatives have a short memory span, this has now become generational theft.

Friday, July 31, 2009

America vs. Health Insurance Companies

Back on July 28th, I made note of the extraordinary misinformation being disseminated out there regarding the health care debate. I also brought to light that Rachel Maddow pointed out the night before The LewinGroup, funded by UnitedHealthCare (large insurance group) via a subsidiary Ingenix, as noted by The Washington Post back on July 23, has been quoted over and over as a source of statistics to try and crush health care reform. I had argued at the 538.com forum that "This is a fight between Americans and the insurance companies. Ask your congressmen on which side they stand."

Yesterday afternoon, I argued again "I think framing this as a battle of Americans and their future against insurance companies protecting their interests is the way to go personally.

Make people aware insurance companies are against lowering costs on their own. Then tie only those Republicans out there obstructing constructive debate using fear tactics and misinformation to the insurance companies."

Well, it looks like this might be the way Democrats have chosen to go and conservatives have taken note. Just today, a spokesperson for the Heritage Foundation, the far right wing (think tank? oxymoron) made the claim on Sean Hannity's radio show he doesn't think this line of attack will work. I'm not sure when the last time the Heritage Foundation was right about anything so I'm not fretting it.

This weekend the White House will be meeting with Congressional Dems to coordinate messaging a bit more. Lets see if they stay with the American's vs. Insurace companies route or chose a new one.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Could big job gains be just around the corner?

Nate Silver, in his post Healthcare Timeout is Fine posted a number of 250,000 job losses for this month that might be announced August 7th as one of the reasons not to fret about not getting health care reform out of both the Senate and House committee's by August recess.

Well for anyone that has been paying attention, that seems like an awfully low number. I had my doubts too until I did a bit of checking and low and behold, things may not be as bad as they seem.

In fact, we may be soon see the end of the job losses as soon as September with a projected job gain of 100k non-farm payroll jobs.

Below is a chart with values obtained from Bureau of Labor Statistics loaded into a scatter chart and trending the data five months out. As you can see, the trend for July crosses at the 250,000 job loss mark and if you continue to follow the trend line to November, there is a projected 600,000 non-farm payroll jobs gained.

Lets hope this comes out to be true. With job creation possibly just around the corner, both public trust and confidence in this Administration to successfully overhaul our ailing health care system and our deteriorating environment are sure to gain traction.


I've updated the graph with updated information from The Bureau of Labor Statistics. This included revised numbers for May and June.

Surprisingly enough, the July number was just about right. With the adjusted values, August looks to cross the Y axis value at somewhere around 80k non-farm payroll job losses.

This is nothing to celebrate. Each job loss out there means one more person having to come home and break the news to their family. It could mean another person losing health insurance coverage. Or another, having to go into foreclosure because they can no longer afford the payments.

For the situation to really turn around, consumer confidence is going to have to keep up the upward trend it had maintained until May as consumer spending is the major driving force behind economic growth. We will see near the end of this month what impact the good job news has.

Until then...

(update 9/10/09)

I thought I'd continue to update this. I'm including a new chart with both last months and the previous months numbers adjusted from 443,000 to 463,000 in June and 247,000 to 276,000 in July. Augusts numbers came out above the trend at 216,000, much higher than the projected 80,000.

It would be safe to say to not expect an exact linear regression of job loss reductions.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Obama and Health Care, Conservative Pundit Trolls and Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Has everyone been paying attention to the health care debate today following Obama's presser last night? What's that? You aren't hearing anything about it? Oh, all you hear is about Obama's statement regarding the police arresting a man in his own home.

The trolls have managed to derail the entire discussion that should be taking place.

Everyone familiar with blogging, most certainly has dealt with a troll or two. Trolls, according to Wikipidia is "someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or collaborative content community with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional or disciplinary response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion."

But, since people are misrepresenting what President Obama was saying, lets make this clear as day.

When Obama stated he did not know all the facts, it was in response to the what does this mean for race relations question. He stated he doesn't have all the facts to determine if it was a racial profiling incident.

Here is the question and statement for you viewing pleasure.

Reporter: "... What does that incident say to you and what does it say about race relations in America?"

Obama: "...I don’t know – not having been there and not seeing all the facts – what role race played in that"

He didn't say he didn't know the facts to have an opinion on the situation.

Furthermore, when he went on to speak of the history of racial profiling, he prefaced it with "what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, and that's just a fact."

Do you conservatives have some sort of selective listening device that ignores ends of sentences or other words or phrases that just don't fit into your argument?

Sure seems like it.

Second, if Republicans really want to rally behind this one, be my guest. The all white party railing against a President that stated it was stupid to arrest someone in their own home is a reverse Sister Soulja moment for them.

But I understand, it'll give the racists a reason to make a stink and hide behind the shield of nobility of defending a policeman.

So, now that we got that behind us, lets get back to discussing why it's politically corrupt for politicians to be setting medicare reimbursement rates in their local districts and how we should put the power into the hands of the suggestions coming down from the Medpac board of professional doctors and physicians, which I remind you, was a Republican idea, as noted by the President last night. There is where the real saving will come.

For more info on Medpac, please look HERE,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Republicans Catch-22

Democrats are fortunate to be on the side of history and also being on the side of where ideas progress. Republicans on the other hand, well, aren't, to put it bluntly.

Another thing going for Democrats is the electorate is slowly but surely in support gay marriage and pro-choice. Republicans, still use these two issues to get their base fired up and the fringe of the base chooses to throw these issues in the electorates face come election time. More so the issue of abortion than gay marriage.

Here is where the Republicans are in a losing battle.

The electorate doesn't want to hear it any longer....but don't tell them that.

It doesn't take much to bait the fringe and even main stream Republicans into debating these issues. Most recently, you had John McCain discussing abortion and using air quotes when speaking of the women's health.

Bad idea John, bad idea.

Until Republicans learn to tame the base to not make these issues front and center and turn off moderates and other on the fencers, the further they will continue to go into the abyss of irrelevancy.