Today’s Housing Bubble Post — Hitting The Economy Now

Lots of stories in the news today:
Housing Market a Drag on Economic Growth,

Economic growth slowed to a crawl in the third quarter, advancing at a pace of just 1.6 percent, the worst in more than three years.
The latest snapshot of the economy, released by the Commerce Department on Friday, showed that the slumping housing market figured prominently in the economy’s dramatic loss of momentum. Investment in homebuilding was cut by the biggest amount since early 1991.
.. “The housing bubble burst and that really knocked down growth,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.

Bloomberg: U.S. Growth Slows to 1.6% Rate as Homebuilding Slumps,

The U.S. economy grew at a less-than- forecast 1.6 percent annual rate last quarter, the slowest pace in more than three years, as housing slumped and the trade deficit widened.
… Homebuilding declined by the most in 15 years. … Residential housing construction fell at a 17.4 percent annual rate last quarter, the biggest decline since the first quarter of 1991, after shrinking 11.1 percent in the previous three months. The decline in homebuilding subtracted 1.12 percentage points from third-quarter growth, the most in almost 25 years.

But wait, there’s more!

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Push Polling, What To Watch Out For

This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project

If you receive a call that you suspect is a push poll, Patriot Project wants to know about it. (Leave a comment following this post.)  We are tracking the use of this unethical campaign tactic.

People across the country are receiving calls from organizations claiming to be taking opinion polls, but then assaulting the listener with the most horrible, slanderous, nasty  smears about candidates that sometimes continues until the listener hangs up.  The recipients of such calls are victims of push polls.

A previous Patriot Project post, Push Polling – What Is It?, discussed what push polling is and why it is effective. 

Push polls are, unfortunately, effective.  The method bestows an impression of credibility on the information being passed to the caller.  Thinking they are participating in a legitimate public opinion poll, many people naturally assume they are being asked about something that has been in the news or is common knowledge.  People assume such information is valid and have no way to know that the call is nothing more than one more campaign commercial, inn disguise and arriving through an unexpected channel.

Another reason push polling is effective is that, by presenting the campaign message as an opinion poll, it reaches an audience that would otherwise tune it out, like skipping past TV commercials while watching TV.  As people become immunized against commercials it takes more and more exposures to the ad’s message before it begins to sink in.  But people are listening, paying attention, because they think they are being asked to respond to a “question.”  If voters understood that the call was coming from a campaign they would not only tune it out, it could backfire on the source.

A third reason push polls are effective is that they are conducted “under the radar.”  Large numbers of people can be reached with a push poll before word starts to get out that this is happening.  So campaigns do not have time to mount an effective response.

Where does push-polling come from?  According to SourceWatch,

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Today’s Voting Machines Story

Ars Technica is an online magazine for techies. They’re covering the voting machines fiasco.
How to steal an election by hacking the vote,

What if I told you that it would take only one person—one highly motivated, but only moderately skilled bad apple, with either authorized or unauthorized access to the right company’s internal computer network—to steal a statewide election?
[. . .] Thanks the recent and rapid adoption of direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines in states and counties across America, the two scenarios that I just outlined have now become siblings (perhaps even fraternal twins) in the same large, unhappy family of information security (infosec) challenges. Our national election infrastructure is now largely an information technology infrastructure, so the problem of keeping our elections free of vote fraud is now an information security problem. If you’ve been keeping track of the news in the past few years, with its weekly litany of high-profile breeches in public- and private-sector networks, then you know how well we’re (not) doing on the infosec front.

The article goes into technical detail on how to accomplish the theft of an election. But then,

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An Analysis Of That 650,000 Iraqi Deaths Study

Independent experts looked at the Lancet study’s method and the data and said it is valid — it could be as high as 943,000 — compared to up to 290,000 killed by Saddam in 20 years.
United Press International – Analysis: Disputed Iraqi bodycount,

President Bush has dismissed new statistics showing that more than 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. invasion and the continuing insurgency. But the U.S. military’s own estimates suggest that the casualty rate for Iraqis is five times what it was at the beginning of 2004.
And many scientists — including four experts who anonymously peer-reviewed an article for the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet — insist that the 654,000 figure, a measurement of what demographers call “excess mortality,” is derived by a scientifically valid methodology from a statistically valid sample.

The story continues,

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Today’s Housing Bubble Post – BIGGEST PRICE DROP IN 35 YEARS!

NOW it’s starting – but only starting. This kind of news will shake up sellers and wake up buyers. Home price drop is largest in 35 years,

The median price of a new home plunged in September by the largest amount in more than 35 years, even as the pace of sales rebounded for a second month.
The Commerce Department reported that the median price for a new home sold in September was $217,100, a drop of 9.7 percent from September 2005.
The weakness in new home prices was even sharper than a 2.5 percent fall in the price of existing homes last month, which had been the biggest drop on record. [emphasis added]

OK, think about this. You read that prices are now falling at about 10% a year nationally. Who would be dumb enough to borrow $150,000 or so to buy a house that will be worth, on average, $20,000 less a year from now? Right.
If you own a house in the SF Bay Area you just lost, on average, maybe $60,000. If you are thinking about buying a house here you are thinking about borrowing half a million dollars or more to buy in a market where you face $60,000 yearly losses. Nope, not gonna do it.
So you can see what is about to happen. Buyers are going to wait. (Well, the smarter ones are…) And sellers are going to worry that they’d better drop prices enough to sell before it gets even worse.
And then there’s all the people with “creative” mortgages with payments that are about to double.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Cold Hard Facts Staring Sellers In The Face

Realtors know that prices have to drop, but sellers can’t believe it – yet. So realtors are trying to get the message to the buyers. Stubborn sellers could harm housing sector,

At a recent meeting with her Las Vegas real estate firm’s 200 agents, Joanne Levy told them they needed to deliver a stark message to clients.
They would tell them that unsold homes are at a record level and sellers need to lower their prices.
In other words: the boom is over.
… With stubborn sellers refusing to relent on asking prices, many prospective buyers have kept their hands in their pockets.
Some industry observers fear that bull-headed home sellers could worsen a downturn by driving up the inventory of homes for sale and running off would-be buyers….
“There is a lag period between sellers’ expectations and the reality of the marketplace,” he said, and shaking them out of their high-price fantasy “is more psychology than science.”
But cold facts are staring some homeowners in the face. [emphasis added]

But because of those cold, hard facts, I don’t think just dropping prices a bit is going to make a difference. Why not? Read on.

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Global Warming – Serious

Salon has an article today, Calculating the global warming catastrophe, that I recommend everyone read. This is the most important subject. It is vastly more important than our election, except that our election offers a way to start doing something about the problem. We only have a few years to turn things around. (To see it I had to watch an ad for a car that doesn’t get good fuel economy…)
HOW serious is the problem? The article quotes one scientist who says it is already too late and makes a dramatic worst-case prediction,

Human beings, a hardy species, will not perish entirely, he says; in interviews during his book tour, Lovelock has predicted that about 200 million people, or about one thirtieth of the current world population, will survive if competent leaders make a new home for us near the present-day Arctic. There may also be other survivable spots, like the British Isles, though he notes that rising sea levels will render them more an archipelago. In any event, he predicts that “teeming billions” will perish.

Others, however, say that we are heading that way, BUT we still have 10 years to turn it around.
The article says – along with many scientists – that the only way to really address the problem is to start replacing our power plants with nuclear power plants right now.

It’s to the question of solutions to mitigate the effects of global warming that Lovelock eventually turns, which is odd since in other places he insists that it’s too late to do much. His prescriptions are strongly worded and provocative — he thinks that renewable energy and energy conservation will come too slowly to ward off damage, and that an enormous program of building nuclear reactors is our best, indeed our only, real option.

I believe the problem of where to put nuclear waste pales in comparison to what we face – and what we are doing now is just dumping the waste (CO2) from burning fossil fuel into the air.

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Christians Prevented From Praying!!

Or maybe not,

After threats by local police for attempting to peacefully express their faith in public, two Christians represented by an Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney filed a civil rights lawsuit today against city officials and the chief of police.

“The First Amendment protects Christian speech and forbids the government from censoring it,” said ADF-allied attorney Austin Nimocks of Austin R. Nimocks & Associates, a Biloxi-based law firm.  “Police and city officials cannot be allowed to disregard their citizens’ First Amendment rights.”

Of course, closer examination reveals what was really going on.  They were,

expressing their faith with signs and a voice amplification system on a public sidewalk

 Amplified, signs, etc…