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If he came from a bigger state, he would be mentioned as presidential timber, with his sharp wit and clean speaking style. If he came from a state with a Democratic Governor, he'd be mentioned as a vp possibility. But as it is, he's the sharpest policy strategist in the Senate, able to win big in Red State North Dakota with a combination of populism and budget mastery. He's also been itching to open fire on the Republican flank - last year advancing the idea that the Democrats could force votes on popular policy positions.

Now he's dropping the cross hairs on the toothless watch dog which is the Republican Senate, and is about to launch a plan that will cut into the flanks of the wholly-headed mamoth that is the Republican caucus. Once upon a time early Americans hunted small brained pachyderms in North Dakota, and now Senator Byron Dorgan is going to give us an updated version.

And he's going to do it alternating his "gee shucks" nerdy grin, and pounding out the very long list of "these are the facts" in a Sargent Friday demeanor that is going to make compelling television, no matter how hard cable tries to bury it.

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Mon Jan 23, 2006 at 07:41 AM PST

No More Schmoementum

by Stirling Newberry

The old warhawkolic is hitting the battle again. There he was, telling Face the Nation that he wanted the President to spy on Americans, just so long as he promised to stop flagrantly violating the law. But it got worse, Lieberman talked about how "the military option had to be on the table" on Iran. Lesson from someone who rarely walks away down from the table - never put chips down against someone who knows that you are drawing dead. You won't even get time to kiss them good bye before he cleans you out.

There's no nice way to say this: Schmoementum has settled on Connecticut's most famous Senator. He's an embarassment - with poor judgement, and an itching to become the next Zellout Miller of the Senate. It's time to ring down the curtain on this painful play at being a Democrat, and send someone to Washington that will represent the best interests of the American public, and not coincidentally, Connecticut's residents.

Here's five easy lessons on why Ned Lamont is getting coverage, and praise on his possible run for Senate.

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Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 10:34 AM PST

Standing on the precipice

by Stirling Newberry

The recent spate of smears from Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough aren't to protect the Republican Party. Certainly they are directed at Democrats, but the real threat to Bush doesn't come from the Democrats, but from John McCain, who is now on cruise control to be the next President of the United States. With Hillary having the nomination of the Democratic Party all but wrapped up - and with McCain towering over anyone who would be allowed near the Republican nomination, the Bushites have a big problem, or rather, several big problems.

This is why the top down media is eagerly doing bin Laden's work, and sowing acrimony within the American body politic - because they are almost out of time, and out of any other options. When the turbluent moment of the economy hits - and it is very soon that it will, either they hold all the power, or they will find themselves on the receiving end of a massive political shock.

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The Washington Post reports that Congress' own advisor body declares that the the Bush Administration (sic) violated the 1947 National Security Act, as amended. Let me repeat that: the Congress' own research arm has issued an opinion that Bush violated the law.

On the heals of the reverberations from Al Gore's indictment of Bush, and more poll data supporting impeachment in just such a circumstance - this means that there is now, if not a smoking gun, then GSR spattered all over Spygate.

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Wed Jan 18, 2006 at 12:12 PM PST

Handwriting, Meet Wall

by Stirling Newberry


The New York Times reports on the Tokyo stock exchange's early shut down. It is one of a string of trading scandals, many in Japan. It comes at a time when major market indexes are at or near post-crash peaks, and the economy, we are told, is doing just fine. In fact, we are at the edge of financial crisis, where a series of long term pressure points are going to test the economic management, not just by the US, but by the G-7 as a whole. The prognosis is not good - with a string of right wing governments grabbing power, and committed to creating more asset inflation - they are intent on pouring gasoline on the fire.

[Geekier version here.]

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The New York Times Reports:

An American helicopter crashed north of Baghdad this morning, apparently after being shot down by insurgents.

It was the third crash of an American helicopter this month. In a statement, the American military said that it had no information about the fate of the two crew members aboard, and that the cause of the crash was being investigated.

But officials at the Iraqi Interior Ministry said that witnesses reported seeing the helicopter being fired on before the crash.

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Sun Jan 15, 2006 at 06:16 AM PST

Justice Strangelove

by Stirling Newberry

Alito is good news for progressives. He is nearly the end of the ability of the old conservative Democratic Party to command a river of funding "protecting" an every shrinking list of programs and rights. When, under Reagan, the Republicans realized that they could borrow and squander, and thus keep the ocean of pork fat flowing, rather than tax and spend - which requires discipline - the old Democratic Party was doomed, since that river of pork fat was the form that liberal government arrived at people's door steps. They put up with social liberalism, because they were told, and believed, that it was some how tied up with the economic liberalism that they liked. As soon as the Republicans could spend like liberals, and engage in social thuggery like reactionaries, the core of the Democratic rank and file headed to the Republicans. The process became self-reinforcing - more jobs in less unionized industries, meant less labor power, more money in the hands of the privileged meant a media that marched, and finally charged, to the right.
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The press, as usual, is getting it wrong. But it is an important discovery anyway - that normal oxygen rich interactions have plants producing methane, rather than just as a bi-product of anoxic bacteria - shows that we have a great deal to learn about carbon's rich cycle, and cannot rely on hacks to simply sink the carbon. We have to face the fact that reducing carbon means reducing carbon input, not merely hoping to mop up.

So what does this study mean? Bottom line: we are going to have to remeasure how much carbon sinking trees do versus their methane output. We can't cut down tropical rain forests - they supply oxygen - but we can't simply believe that we can turn ashes back into wood to solve the Global Warming Problem.

[Yes, I'm an environmentalist, and global warming is a major deal. It's something that is in my writing, my economics and my music.]

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The Broken Triangle

I concluded that "if the netroots alone can't change the political landscape without the participation of the media and Democratic establishment, then there's no point wasting precious online space blasting away at Republicans while the other sides of the triangle stand idly by."

[Cross posted at]

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Carlson gets it right, and I don't mean Tucker.

Almost a year ago I stated that we had reached the "boom phase" of the current economic expansion - that point where growth is inflationary. Booms run until the pain from inflation gets to be more than the gain from go go expansion. Pain as measured by those actors who can do something about it. When central banks, where they have autonomy, feel pain, they make the economy take the medicine.

Right now the Federal Reserve is feeling some discomfort, but they aren't in pain yet. But the yield curve continues to march towards inversion, and we look back at something I've been writing about for some time: Greenspan's bet, what it is, and whether he has enough chips left as he hands over his seat to Cousin Ben - Ben Bernanke.

["In the year of storms" has been picked up for digital distribution by Music is here and should be available for download soon - Ask iTunes to carry it.]



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The New York Times has an interview with Kerry Emanuel a climatologist who shook the establishment with his Nature paper that argued for a statistical correlation between temperature and hurricane intensity. The Atlantic 2005, the most active season for storm formation, Accumulated Cyclone Energy and number of storms to reach hurricane status - topping records that had stood since the 1930's in one case - makes a powerful anecdotal argument that the link is not only real, but here.

[Science, economics and art do indeed meet from time to time, at the same time that Emmanuel was watching Katrina grow into the nightmare storm, I was composing a string quartet inspired by "The Year of Storms"]

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Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 05:50 AM PST

"Got Impeachment?" w/poll

by Stirling Newberry

People here know that I have written on impeachment, both the historical and political reasons for it. People may know that if there were a compass that points at legitimacy, it would point straight at me. Legitimacy is the issue that Democracies must face. Without the faith by an overwhelming segment of the population in the integrity and legitimacy of the government, there is no government. The Declaration of Independence declares that legitimacy is the issue that Americans set their division from the mother country on.

Within the Democratic Party there is an argument over whether support for impeachment will marginalize the party. It will not, but it has to be handled the right way.



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