Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Prices Down

Yesterday’s bad news was about new homes. Today’s bad news is about existing homes. Home prices fall for 9th straight month,

Sales of existing homes fell by a larger-than-expected amount in April while the median price of a home sold during the month fell for a ninth straight month as the troubles in the subprime mortgage market acted as a further drag on housing.
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The National Association of Realtors reported Friday that sales of existing homes fell by 2.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.99 million units. That was the slowest sales pace since June 2003.
… Sales were weak in all parts of the country. The Northeast experienced the biggest decline, a fall of 8.8 percent in April from the March sales pace.

And the news is only going to get worse:

The drop in sales was accompanied by a big jump in the number of unsold homes left on the market.

The Right’s Power Over Minds

Update – OK, stupid title. Should have been something like “The Power Of Words”
I don’t see how any rational person can think that a plan to set timelines for withdrawing our forces and turning things over to the Iraqis themselves is in any way “abandoning the troops” but there you have it — the power of the right to influence people’s minds.
I have been telling anyone who would listen (and shouting at the backs of the rest) that the battle for this country is nowhere near over yet — that just because the Republicans no longer control the House and Senate our problems are not solved. And I have been saying that taking the White House in 2008 is no where near a sure thing — the right is strong, organized, has all the money in the world and is capable of saying and doing anything to keep power. The more their backs are to the wall the more dangerous they are.
Today we have some evidence of their power over minds. They were able to twist the plan to turn the occupation over to the Iraqi government into an almost universal acceptance – in Washington – that this would mean “abandoning the troops.”
The 2008 election is not going to be pretty. Watch your backs.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – HUGE Price Drop

The headline masks the real story: Home sales soar by record amount. But in the story, this:

However, the median price of a new home sold last month fell to $229,100, a record 11.1 percent decline from the previous month. The big price decline indicated that builders are slashing prices in an effort to move a huge overhang of unsold homes.

ELEVEN PERCENT PRICE DROP IN A MONTH???

The drop in median prices in April compared to March was a record one-month decline. If the April sales price was compared to the sales price a year ago, the decline was 10.9 percent, the biggest year-over-year drop since 1970.

So is it a good idea to buy a house when prices are ropping eleven percent a month?
So where should prices be before you think about buying? Well, take the price before the bubble – maybe 1999 or 2000 – add in inflation, and there you are. In other words, they have to fall at least 50%, more in many areas.

Gore on Fire

I saw Al Gore talk at a book signing for his book, The Assault On Reason, in Marin County (north of San Francisco) this evening. He was supposed to talk for a short time, take questions and sign books, but he just got going an gave one of the most inspired, intelligent and I think historically important articulations of the current threat to the American experiment and our democracy that I have heard. He was just on fire.
Gore says our country’s problems go beyond the manipulations and corruptions of Bush and Cheney. He talks about what has happened to this country that we could have ever allow a Bush and Cheney and their lies and evasions and incuriosity to take the reigns of our government – and allowed them to stay there after it became clear what they are about. And he has some very insightful things to say about the historical forces that brought us where we are, and how they might guide us through this.
At times he sounded like a guru, talking about “truthforce,” about how honesty enables us to see clearly without the distortions and distractions that come from constant TV exposure to trivia like gossip about Paris Hilton and Britney and work to push deadly situations like the Iraq war and global warming from our discourse. This is a man who has thought about what is happening to us, and who has the vision and experience to come up with some answers.
He asked how could not just the President, but the Congress, the media and the rest of our system of checks and balances and watchdogs have let Iraq – which he called the worst strategic blunder in our history – happen? How could he public have been fooled into thinking that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11? It’s not just Bush who did that – it’s all of us. Bush is just a symptom. We are ALL responsible for the decisions our country makes. So we all have to get involved and start fixing this broken system. Democracy is not a spectator sport.
I have only had time to read excerpts from Gore’s book, The Assault On Reason, but I predict that the conversation it fuels will be fundamentally and historically important. Buy this book! And listen for news of Gore coming to your area, or appearing on TV, to talk about this subject. The guy is just on fire and I think that fire could catch and spread and help bring about the changes we need.
It’s late or I would write more. I am inspired. (does it show?) I hope that a video of this evening’s talk surfaces soon. I’ll post about it if I learn of one.

A Good Statement On War Funding

Bob Borosage says this in not a poker game:

President Bush forced Democrats to “fold,” the press reports. He vetoed the Iraq funding bill that set a deadline for getting U.S. troops out of the war. The Republican minority blocked any effort to overturn the veto. Now Congress is about to vote on a funding bill the president will accept, one that doesn’t offer a path out of the mess. Bush wins, the Republicans exult, the Democrats “flinch.”
But this isn’t poker. This is life and death. The president insists on escalating the catastrophic occupation of Iraq. He scorned the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Commission that offered a way out. He scorns the American people who voted in 2006 to bring the debacle to an end. He scorned the majority of both houses of Congress that voted to start bringing the troops home on a date certain. He sustains an occupation opposed by a majority of Americans, a majority of Iraqis and a majority of the Congress.
He is aided and abetted in this folly by the Republican minority in Congress, which votes en masse to sustain his vetoes and continue the war. They murmur their concerns, clear their throats, profile their independence, but with rare exceptions, they vote en bloc to support the president’s ruinous course.

Continue reading

Smoking Politics Radio Show – Wednesday May 23 Noon EST

Please join James and Ime today at Noon Eastern, live on BlogTalkRadio, as we discuss Tony Snow’s attack on Al Gore and the irony of the Bush Administration asking something to be “fact checked.” We also will continue our coverage of John Edwards’s hair cut story – the smear that just won’t die. We will be taking calls at (718) 508-9604. Of course, if you miss the show live, it will be archived here and you can listen at your convenience.

Comment On The Gore Call

So a bunch of bloggers were on a call with Al Gore. James Boyce called later and pointed out that every single question was about the book or about important issues facing the country. The questions on this call were is stark contrast to how “professional journalists” are covering Gore’s book.
James related another story. He had set up a blogger call with Governor Blanchard of Michigan, who was thinking of entering the race of DNC Chair. (I was on that call.) After the call Blanchard called James and said,

“Those are the most astute political questions I have ever been asked in all my years in politics.”

(Of course he was referring to my questions, not those other bloggers.)

Notes From A Call With Al Gore

I participated in a call between a few bloggers and Al Gore today, talking about his new book, The Assault On Reason“.. Following are a few of my notes.
The rule of reason is the balancing wheel at the center of self government.
Without reason at the center of public discussion we fall back on repetition and propagandistic messaging techniques.

Asked if maybe he is saying that reason was used in the past more than it really was, he responded that there was never a golden age of reason but for all the faults in the past we did have a larger role for reason and the truth. The relative role of reason has been diminished.
Today, a determined well-funded special interest can be so successful in distorting the public’s understanding.

Bloggers are in the vanguard. What you are doing represents the new wave. How many times have you written about a mistake in the media, until a brush fire starts and the media is forced to correct their story?

On torture: George Washington prohibited torture during the revolutionary war. He said no to this because part of the “new way” represented by the United States included a new respect for the individual. This has been America’s policy since. It has never been condoned much less promoted by the executive branch before now. It violates these ideas at the core of the new idea called America.
Torture is one symptom of decay of the core values that led to the creation of America.

On the Internet. When information is more than a one-way flow, when individuals can join the conversation and challenge conventional wisdoms and present facts as they see them from their unique situation in life, and share their point of view, this changes the conversation. If what they are saying resonates with others who have reached the same conclusions but have not been able to articulate or frame their insight, this is what inspires changes.
We must protect the freedom of the the Internet from those who would control the flow of information.
Update – Taylor Marsh was on the call and writes about it here and includes a recording of the entire call.

Gore Responds to White House

I am on a call with Al Gore. Gore just responded to White House press secretary Tony Snow, who said, “I don’t know if they’re going to do a reprinting of the book to try to get the facts straight. The fact-checkers may have to take a look at it.”
Gore said,

“This book, unlike the President’s State of the Union Address, has been fact-checked.”

Back to the call now…
My call notes are here and a comment here.
Taylor Marsh was on the call and writes about it here and includes a recording of the entire call.
Jerome Armstrong writes here.

Starving the Hurricane Center of Needed Funds

Mary at The Left Coaster points out that,

while starving the Hurricane Center of needed funds used for tracking hurricanes, the top administrators find millions to hold a party to rebrand the division and agency.

Bush has put in place people who think the treasury is their privat party fund. We’re going to be paying for these kinds of things for the rest of our – and our children’s – lives.