Morning Report – JP Morgan exiting FHA? 7/16/14

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10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.56% 0.01%
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 106.3 -0.1
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 105.3 0.0
BankRate 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.25

Stocks are higher this morning on good numbers out of Apple and Intel, along with news that Fox approached Time Warner for a deal. Bonds and MBS are down.

Mortgage Applications fell 3.6% last week. Purchases were down 7.6% and refis were down .1%. Interestingly, the 30 year fixed rate mortgage increased by a basis point while the 10 year bond yield fell 11 basis points. Not sure what to make of that.

Some disappointing industrial data this morning – Manufacturing production increased .1% versus expectations of a .3% increase and May was revised downward. Capacity Utilization was flat at 79.1%, while the Street was expecting an increase to 79.3%.

Inflation remains relatively tame, although the headline PPI number came in a little hot. On a year-over-year basis inflation at the wholesale level remains under the Fed target. Janet Yellen gave relatively dovish testimony yesterday at Humphrey-Hawkins, which continues today. We will also get the Beige Book this afternoon.

JP Morgan is considering getting out of the FHA business. CEO Jamie Dimon said on the second quarter earnings conference call that the bank lost “a tremendous sum of money on FHA… So the real question is, should we be in the FHA business at all? We are still struggling with that.” Consider this a brush-back pitch to the government, who has been suing the banks left and right (which is one way to impose a financial surtax).

In merger mania, Rupert Murdoch is willing to pay more than $85 a share for Time Warner. Time Warner has rejected the approach. This is probably a function of the Comcast / Time Warner deal, where content providers need more negotiating leverage to deal with new cable giants. I have no idea if this deal will pass regulatory muster, although the story says that Fox is willing to sell CNN to appease antitrust regulators. Never mind the antitrust regulators – an Obama FCC would never allow Rupert Murdoch to own another news outlet. TWX is trading at $82.00 pre-open.

Speaking of mergers, the Administration wants to curb tax inversion deals through new legislation. Interestingly, the proposal would raise $17 billion over the next decade. For the record, in budgetary terms, $1.7 billion a year is peanuts. I guess the Administration must imagine that this is just a way for the government to say it did something, but it knows that there is a corporate work-around. Anyway, there is room for bipartisan agreement on corporate tax reform, but Republicans want to swap lower rates for closing loopholes and Democrats want to close loopholes only.

43 Responses

  1. Brent, thought you might get a kick out of this. I doubt you generally read Yves Smith (a very liberal economist) but she seems to agree with a lot of what you said re Yellen. Thought it was sort of funny. Couldn’t resist sharing it with you

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/07/yellen-tells-whoppers.html

    Like

  2. The Obama administration and its apparatchiks are corrupt and lawless, top to bottom. The trail of “crashed” hard drives and sadly “lost” email alone makes denials risible.

    http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2014/07/15/i-dont-understand-how-anyone-but-straight-white-men-can-vote-republican-n1862137#!

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  3. Hi Lulu, That was good. Yellen is basically Greenspan III, which I don’t disagree with.

    That said, he has a very left-wing take on what happened and gives the standard left-wing discussion of what went wrong – i.e.the Fed didn’t supervise the banks enough, which caused the crisis. The question over whether easy money caused the bubble to begin with is more or less dismissed. Like Krugman, he ignores the fact that Japan followed the Keynsian playbook to the letter and has had little to no growth since 1990.

    Also, his view that markets are inherently unstable is a minority view, to say the least. To get on my soap box for a second, there is nothing “free market” about the US residential real estate market – it is subsidized in a myriad of different ways, it is used as a vehicle for social policy, and the taxpayer bears almost all of the credit risk of new mortgages. It is in no way a “free market” – it is a “rigged market.” And rigged markets are inherently unstable. In fact, George Soros made his fortune playing the instability trade for rigged markets – i.e. breaking the Bank of England.

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  4. The Obama administration and its apparatchiks are corrupt and lawless, top to bottom. The trail of “crashed” hard drives and sadly “lost” email alone makes denials risible.

    I don’t care about them having political beliefs, but when they try and throw elections, I tend get pissed.

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  5. As far as not understanding why anyone but a straight white male would vote Republican, that’s identity politics at its finest. Not everybody subscribes to identity politics. Not every vote is based on race or sexual preference.

    Like

    • KW, Henry Cuellar [D] TX and Cornyn [R] TX have proposed a bill that would shorten the processing time for Central American minors. It should be combined with giving the ICE more lawyers/judges to do the processing.

      So what happens? BHO proposes more lawyers and judges, TEA doesn’t even like Cornyn-Cuellar, Reed says its the BHO plan or nothing, Pelosi who had backed Cornyn-Cuellar now reverses herself and says it is 180 degrees wrong.

      The politics of it seems to be the left actually doesn’t want to send the kids back and the right doesn’t actually want to process them to find out if any have legit claims to be here, or to be sent back to a safe haven, either by refugee status or by a claim to birthright citizenship. As I wrote earlier, fewer than 1/10 will qualify but for them processing is absolutely necessary. For the ones who have been earmarked for the sex trade, finding a safe haven in their home country [the original purpose of the statute before it got overrun by little wet feet] we also need actual processing.

      Maybe BHO’s processing plan is not the best possible one. Maybe the Cornyn-Cuellar plan is not perfect. Each is better than the status quo and together they would be still better. But no. Between the two parties who actually hate each other more than they love America, FUCK US.

      I’ll probably be gone til next Tuesday [Yosemite, from my bucket list]. Y’all have fun.

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      • Mark/Kevin:

        Between the two parties who actually hate each other more than they love America, FUCK US.

        I know Mark said he won’t be around, but Kevin, you seem to agree with the above sentiment, so maybe you can explain a couple of things to me. First, can you explain what makes you think that opposition to either plan (from left or right) derives from a hatred of the opposing party. Also, can you explain how the either/or embrace of both plans is indicative of more love for America than that held by those who do not embrace either plan?

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  6. Brent, I wasn’t expecting you to agree with “her” on much, just thought the Yellen part was funny considering what you said about her before she was picked. I like it when a woman picks on another woman anyway…………….that’s just me though. Glad you were able to resolve your posting issue………………still enjoy reading your morning report.

    I’ll check back in occasionally just so you guys know I’m still alive…………..I’m at that age you know!

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  7. I don’t care about them having political beliefs, but when they try and throw elections, I tend get pissed.

    Same. I am a bit ambivalent about the reach of the Hatch Act itself, in the same way I am ambivalent about the journalist ethic of not disclosing political and partisan affiliations: not disclosing them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    But these facts are egregious. April whatshername was tweeting like a deranged PLer from her FEC office. We can be quite confident her conveniently lost e-records would show it was a rabidly partisan operation, paid for by our taxes to do all they could to throw the election. FEC employees are quite aware of the Hatch Act. The violations were flagrant and defiant.

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  8. Yves is a she? okay. I always thought Yves was a male name

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  9. Naked Capitalism is a blog published by Susan Webber, the principal of Aurora Advisors, Inc., a management consulting firm, and author of ECONned. Webber authors the blog under a pen name, Yves Smith.

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    • Elizabeth Warren shows just how despicably shameless she really is.

      Remember last year’s government shutdown that nearly tanked our economy? That fight started with a GOP effort to hold the whole operation of the federal government hostage in order to try to force Democrats and the president to let employers deny workers access to birth control.

      I really don’t understand how any sensible person can possibly respect this woman in the slightest. She routinely insults the intelligence of her audience with blatant lies and mischaracterizations. (In that sense, I suppose, she is the ideal Democratic candidate.)

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  10. To wit:

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  11. NYT Editorial page decides that anyone who doesn’t support their preferred level of spending has blood on their hands. The body count argument from the Medicaid expansion fight is now being trotted out for everything.

    “About 10,000 motorists die each year because of inadequate road conditions”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/opinion/16wed1.html?ref=opinion

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  12. How many die do to overconfidence due to road improvements, hmmm?

    #IfItSavesJustOneLife

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    • An interesting history suggesting that progressive success in implementing “living constitution” theory is grounded in earlier, evangelical legal successes.

      Compton contends that the “living Constitution” idea arose much earlier in our history, an outgrowth the moral reform movement that swept across the United States from the 1820s until the early decades of the 20th century.

      Zealous champions of moral reform, then as today, thought that a proper function of the law was to eradicate vice and immorality. They were stymied, however, by the Constitution’s limits on governmental power. Compton explains, “For while the designers of the American constitutional order did not set out with the aim of inhibiting the moral development of future generations, they did envision a republic whose fundamental law would hinder efforts to interfere with settled property rights or restrict the flow of goods in interstate markets.” But that was exactly what the anti-liquor and anti-lottery forces wanted – for the law to declare that there could be no legitimate property rights in alcoholic beverages or lottery tickets and to block their flow in markets altogether.

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  13. Here’s my theory, Berdahl asked his dad what he thought about deserting and joining the Taliban and dad said to follow your conscience.

    Nobody likes or trusts traitors and Bergdahl’s stay with the Taliban was miserable. Bergdahl blames dad for giving him really SHITTY ADVICE.

    http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/BL-WB-47435

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  14. OT: Worth a read

    “The Coming Democratic Schism

    JULY 15, 2014
    Thomas B. Edsall

    There is a striking generational split in the Democratic electorate.

    This deepening division is apparent in a June Pew Research Center survey of more than 10,000 people, “Beyond Red vs. Blue.” The Pew survey points up the emergence of a cohort of younger voters who are loyal to the Democratic Party, but much less focused on economic redistribution than on issues of personal and sexual autonomy.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/opinion/thomas-edsall-a-shift-in-young-democrats-values.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

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    • I thought I was gone but JNC, if you read that closely, the “youth” seem little different than the rest of us and to me this looks like the same old same old. It’s not a schism – it is standard wanting to eat your cake and have it too. People like the idea of smaller government, but they also really like government spending in the areas where government spends most of its money (SS, Medicare, Defense).

      Bye now!

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  15. I have not read the Compton book, but, as presented in the Forbes column, it strikes me as very shoddy legal history and analysis. The Constitution reserved all powers not delegated to Congress to the states and people, and those powers undeniably included all police powers. Advocates of state laws against alochol sales in the 19th century were in no way progenitors of the living constitution. To the contrary, those who argued that the Constitution prohibited such laws would hold that distinction.

    The idea of the “living constitution” does not concern merely expansion of government power–regardless of the power and government in question–but distorting or ignoring the text and structure of the Constitution to reach desired political ends. As for the Champion case, interstate sale and transport of lottery tickets unambiguously is interstate commerce. Citing it as presaging Wickard etc. is an excuse at best.

    An argument has been around for decades that Lochner represented an earlier version of “substantive due process” later resurrected in different form in Griswold and Roe. Without commenting on the merits of that comparison, Compton’s argument seems focused on only on generic “government” power and goes pretty badly off course.

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    • QB:

      The Constitution reserved all powers not delegated to Congress to the states and people, and those powers undeniably included all police powers. Advocates of state laws against alochol sales in the 19th century were in no way progenitors of the living constitution.

      Good point. Although wasn’t there a significant movement seeking to outlaw alcohol nationally as early as the late 1800s? I seem to remember that from that PBS special on prohibition. I thought that the introduction of the income tax in 1913 allowed the prohibition movement, which had existed for quite some time, to garner a lot more political support because the excise taxes for alcohol sales was no longer needed.

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  16. “issues of personal and sexual autonomy”

    which translates into (1) nihilism, (2) mandatory conformity to their norms, (3) their making “choices” and others’ being obligated to pay for them.

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  17. “issues of personal and sexual autonomy”

    I think it has more to do with abstract notions of sexual freedom, availability of abortion and contraception, and privacy, based on the most active memes of the Twitter generation.

    They don’t want the NSA knowing how much Internet porn they watch, and they don’t want to worry about getting that cute chick at the bar pregnant. I think most of the actual issues are very poorly understood. I doubt most of them know what the Hobby Lobby case was about, just know that if they need it, they want to make sure the morning after drug is there. That the Hobby Lobby case wasn’t about banning it involves getting into too much detail.

    Same with pretty much everything else. What it comes down to is young voters are going to vote for younger candidates who know how to use Twitter and promote themselves on Instagram and post selfies.

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  18. @jnc4p: ““About 10,000 motorists die each year because of inadequate road conditions”

    I just did a 15 hour trip down, and then another 15 hour trip back, to and from South Florida. I didn’t encounter a single example of road conditions that could cause a motorist death, unless it was due to sheer incompetence or operator error, and then the mere existence of the road is the problem. This is just nonsense. Nonsense!

    There may be areas of egregious disrepair somewhere, but they don’t result in 10,000 motorist deaths. It defies logic.

    Expanded, the fact people are allowed to drive causes all traffic fatalities. Outlaw driving. Done!

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  19. @markinaustin: “Between the two parties who actually hate each other more than they love America, FUCK US.”

    And the describes the state of our politicians in DC quiet accurately. On far more than that issue.

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  20. I think most of the actual issues are very poorly understood.

    No argument there. The Mills tend to be adult children who were raised on the belief that they are special, the world must cater to them, and they can’t be bothered to understand issues responsibly. Feelings trump facts and logic.

    They aren’t all bad, but this is a common set of characteristics. We almost can’t blame them. America failed to teach them how to think. They were raised under the miasma of progressive stupidity and lies.

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  21. I watch the show and this broad has a very good chance of winning.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2014/07/16/video-the-lady-ninja/

    I just can’t figure out how she’s cheating.

    #NoWayADameCanBeatAMan

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  22. I saw that American Ninja clip on youtube. She’s a tremendous athlete. Her arm strength/endurance and her leap up the wall are impressive (at 5′ tall). Her light weight helps a bit on the upper body challenges, but it’s quite a performance.

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  23. Scott, there probably were such efforts. The prohibition and temperance movements certainly go way back. But I was struck by the fact that the review suggests that it was people like the advocates of the Maine prohibition statute who originated the living constitution, which pretty is obviously wrong.

    Prohibition laws would raise three main kinds of constitutional questions that I can see (or at least questions people could raise). If it is a state law, does it violate some constitutional right? If it is a federal law, does Congress have the power, and does it violate any constitutional right? Living consitution notions could be introduced on any of these questions, perhaps either way.

    An early case involved a state prohibition law challenged as violating the due process clause and as a taking of property. It does raise interesting questions. In 20th century terms, the taking argument would be referred to as a regulatory taking claim: you may no longer use your distillery. The Court rejected both the due process and takings claims, adopting more modest readings of those clauses. One could critique that decision as misreading or even as a “living constitution” decision (although I think that would be fanciful), but it is hard to see how the state prohibitionists in that scenario have anything to do with living constitution theory.

    If the argument were simply that Congress had commerce power to prohibit all manufacture of alcohol, use, and sale of alcohol, and a court held that the Commerce Clause’s evolving meaning justified that law, I would certainly consider that “living consitution” mischief.

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    • QB:

      To even further your point, I think, the national prohibitionists clearly weren’t “living constitutionalists” as they actually altered the constitution via the method explicitly approved by the constitution. If they were introducing a living constitution theory, they wouldn’t have bothered to pass an amendment.

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      • Scott, indeed, good point. I don’t recall the history very well. I think the Volstead Act came first, so perhaps its initial advocates could be accused of pushing the constitutional limits of federal power, but then came the amendment.

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  24. @ScottC: “To even further your point, I think, the national prohibitionists clearly weren’t “living constitutionalists” as they actually altered the constitution via the method explicitly approved by the constitution.”

    And this is my problem with both penumbras and the Living Constitution (as determined by the Supreme Court). We do not need the discovery of penumbras or new crenulations discovered in the igneous rock of the constitution. It is already a “living, breathing” document. It lives and breathes by the amendment process, and if it is not in there presently, and has not and cannot be amended to include it, it isn’t in there.

    Perhaps there should be a right to privacy in the constitution. This is a negative right, and appropriate for a constitution, I think, although how it would condone abortion per se I’m not certain, but the legality of abortion under a constitutional right of privacy seems technically acceptable: that is, one cannot assume the high court would accurately interpret all laws, or morally interpret them, but it would seem a reasonable, if bad, interpretation of a right of privacy. If such existed in the constitution.

    So, amend the constitution with the Right to Privacy amendment. Done!

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  25. @ScottC: ” First, can you explain what makes you think that opposition to either plan (from left or right) derives from a hatred of the opposing party.”

    I do, although I think the “hatred” is of a tribal nature. We use the same word, perhaps, but the oppositional impulse is probably distinct in many ways. Different from, say, how I hate the guy who ran over my dog or the boss who cheated me out of a promotion. This is an automatic and reflexive “hatred” or unbending opposition based on tribal loyalties, as one might find between opposing sports teams, only sans sportsmanship.

    Put simply, if the same legislation was proposed by a member of your party (while no truly similar legislation was being proposed by a member of the other party, or the other party generally, such that such legislation could be easily viewed as betrayal of the party line) it would at least be considered more objectively, and intraparty compromises could be found, even general support garnered, whether or not the legislation itself was ideologically pure. Similarly, the opposing party, seeing legislation that could have well come from them but had not yet, will likely oppose it reflexively, as it is automatically tainted as having come from the other party.

    Although the fact that the legislation was ever proposed by party A will be used against Party A as a cudgel when Party B proposes similar and worse legislation.

    I think there is a lot of party loyalty in both parties, and group loyalties shape responses, especially to other groups. The same inclination that makes us patriotic and loyal to country makes us partisan and loyal to party. I give my family much more credit and benefit of the doubt than my neighbor. If my neighbor has been hostile or offended me in some way, I extend him no credit, only hostility, even if in truth my immediate family is in the wrong, for reasons not based on the issue at hand but of familial loyalty, or collegiate loyalty if in the workplace, or pick your group affiliation.

    I get no sense (and I may be wrong) that either side is or, generally, has any tendency to, weigh the legislation before them based on the merits and work towards a compromise, or that wholesale obstruction of any given legislation is based on the merits of the legislation (or, indeed, that passage of legislation is based on the merits of the legislation, as there are numerous indications that our representatives don’t always read and are sometimes barely familiar with the legislation they are voting on). Not that the crafting of the legislation may not start based on the merits of the legislation as perceived by the crafters, but the eventual debate becomes one more similar to wrestlers trash-talking than to business partners attempting to hammer out differences or determine the best strategy for future direction.

    It’s not unique to the US, or the present day, or any one party. Indeed, both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson hoped to avoid party politics in the United States because of the tendency of party politics to put party before country. Of course, Jefferson also fantasized that congress would be populated by gentlemen farmers, doing their duty to their country for a term or two and then gladly returning to their farm, glad to be rid of their onerous obligation of governing the country.

    I don’t know that embrace of both plans would indicate anything specific, love of country wise. And I suspect there are many, perhaps most, on both sides who honestly feel that their plan is best, or that there are some or many elements of any opposing plan that are completely unacceptable, thus must be thrown out entire.

    But I do believe a great deal of that decision is made, though not consciously, based on party loyalty. Group loyalty is a powerful force, wired into us millions of years ago, in a time before the neocortex.

    You will find most flip-flopper in politics are flip-flopping in order to be consistent with the group they most strongly identify themselves with, be that Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, American or Southerner or Northerner or New Yorker or Technocrat or whatever. Mitt Romney governed as a liberal in Massachusetts. Because his tribe, at the time, was the Tribe of Successful Massachusetts Politicians.

    Why do some men and women almost flip ideologies when they form an intimate relationship (group of two) with someone of the opposite belief system? Their primary group identification has shifted.

    …. and I could go on and on and only become more incoherent. I’ll put it this way: I believe that people act on self-interest, and self-interest in a group dictates group loyalty at a level well below conscious-thought. This will be true whether or not the group is acting rationally or irrationally, in the interest of a broader, more abstract concept (such as country) or not.

    Thus, politicians act out of self-interest (as do we all), which includes a number of factors that limit the degree that their self-interest is connected to the interests of the country as a whole, or even the citizens in their own districts.

    Very prominently, in present-day politics, this features a sports-like system of scoring points against the opposition by denying them victories, while doing end-runs around them to score goals in a manner much like stealing bases (fake recess appointments, for example). Thus, scoring points against the opposition is more important than governing the country.

    This is not inherently horrible. I think it led the Republicans to do exactly the right thing when it came to the ACA. If Obama has proposed something less awful (of course, my subjective bias becomes a large part of what I’m saying here) such opposition might not have been warranted, but would likely have been present, anyway.

    Because this is a war of sports rivals, not bickering engineers trying to determine the best way to govern the country. Of course, Jefferson said it best when he said the government that governs best is the one that governs least. If the Republicans would pursue that thought when they were in power, one might argue that they were not motivated by their own personal fortunes and group loyalties.

    And it goes on down the line. It’s human nature, not some fault inherent to politicians (though it may be particularly egregious there). But just spend a day reading Plum Line comments and substitute the party affiliations and politicians names with sports teams and famous athletes. Most of the comments actually make more sense when you turn them into sports trash-talking than they do when you read them as written.

    The vast majority of discussion is vacant of data. It’s all trash-talking. Why do that? What’s the point? I argue that it’s a compulsion to express group loyalty with hoots and hollers and chest beating, showing out to your group mates to demonstrate how you belong in the group and are perhaps uniquely loyal and true to it, while putting the other group on notice that you will be tolerating none of their shenanigans, nor listening to any of their lies.

    I argue this tendency is human, is universal, and politicians are human, and thus the deeper their group affiliation is, the more anything they do in the interest of the country or their constituents is purely coincidental.

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    • Kevin:

      So what I get out of that is that there is nothing specific about this instance, but just a generic belief that this is what motivates politicians in general, and so it must be true in this case too.

      I’m trying to see how Mark’s (and your?) attempt to draw a contemptuous equivalence between the left and the right makes sense in this particular case. Mark mentioned Pelosi as someone who seemed to flip flop on support of Cornyn-Cuellar for political reasons. But apart from that example, by Mark’s own account we have a constituency (the left) that doesn’t want to send the kids back at all, and one (the right) that wants to send them all back without exception. I don’t see how either of these positions can be said to derive from hatred of the other side, nor do I see how a failure (from either side) to agree with Mark’s “moderate” position between the two is indicative of placing party above country.

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  26. “Maybe BHO’s processing plan is not the best possible one. Maybe the Cornyn-Cuellar plan is not perfect. Each is better than the status quo and together they would be still better. But no.”

    Mark, I don’t think the Democrats plan was ever offered in good faith to begin with. The whole attempt to blame the 2008 law was an exercise in “Not My Fault ™” from the administration as their counterargument against the President’s rhetoric on the DREAMer’s being to blame. They didn’t think that the Republicans would actually take them up on changing the law and now they are stuck having to backpedal because they don’t actually want to deport the illegals, any of them.

    They also don’t want them housed in their states (see Maryland & O’Malley), but that’s a separate subject.

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  27. Scott:

    No, it’s not specific, and I should say it varies. I think outside forces often evoke changes in the typical us vs. them group dynamic of our two-party system, such as an outside aggressor (then it becomes both groups vs. aggressor, changing, albeit temporarily, the emphasis of group affiliation) or outsized public opinion (thus, the larger group—the electorate—demands a conformity to the larger group that might alter opinion or self-identification).

    ” contemptuous equivalence ”

    Well, that much is our own tribal affiliation or group identification. Us regular folks vs. those worthless politicians, damn their slimy hides.

    The positions themselves are not the issue so much as the intransigence and inflexibility, and their fixity on polar opposite sides of the spectrum. Their goal is on one side of the court and their opponents goal is on the other. Replace hatred with reflexive opposition, perhaps.

    If each individual were somehow abstracted from their party affiliation and the issue was not one of current political contention, and they were surveyed with no immediate knowledge of how their fellow party members were responding, do we expect that all the Democrats and all the Republicans would have should identical viewpoints on the solution? And even if we grant that this is an issue where no compromise can be allowed (and, certainly, at least one side could find room for compromise, if the goal were a workable solution and not political victory) do we conclude that all issue with such lockstep conformity and polar opposition are similarly areas where no compromise can be allowed, because if the other side got anything they wanted in any form, the apocalypse would be forthcoming?

    The essence of the positions do not have to derive from group opposition, but party conformity and lack of compromise (not just Mark’s compromise solution, but any compromise solution) springs from politics and group identification, rather than the worthiness of the various positions, IMO. There is no compromise in football, after all. One team wins and one team loses, you do not negotiate for points.

    This is a matter of incentives and human nature, IMO. I expect, were I an elected representative, I’d do much the same. Unless I were a maverick, like John McCain, and my primary group identification were not with my party but another group, say, the media.

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    • Kevin:

      Replace hatred with reflexive opposition, perhaps.

      I don’t buy that, either. Why is it difficult to accept that the left and the right might genuinely hold sincere but irreconcilable positions on something? I think this is just a conceit of the “moderate” middle, that it alone is reasonable and everyone else’s motivations are questionable.

      If each individual were somehow abstracted from their party affiliation and the issue was not one of current political contention, and they were surveyed with no immediate knowledge of how their fellow party members were responding, do we expect that all the Democrats and all the Republicans would have should identical viewpoints on the solution?

      Of course not. But nor do I suspect that suddenly everyone would become a “reasonable” moderate, either. Ideology is a meaningful and significant thing. And often times competing ideologies are irreconcilable. To use an Ayn Rand analogy, how does one compromise between food and poison?

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  28. @jnc4p: “Mark, I don’t think the Democrats plan was ever offered in good faith to begin with. ”

    Thus, we can at least agree that the Democrats are acting from political motivations, i.e. partisan motivations . . . ergo, it would a political play, much as one team in football might mount a play against their opposing team.

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  29. Or, imagine debate teams being given topics to debate. The issues themselves are not products of the fact the debate teams are, indeed, teams, seeking to win a competition. But the manner in which the debate teams tackle the topic and argue their case and seek to prove themselves right, not critique their own positions for flaws or alternative perspectives, is directly related to the fact they are a team, with a team goal, and the incentives dictate that they win their competition.

    Simplification, of course, but isn’t everything?

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  30. @ScottC: “I don’t buy that, either. Why is it difficult to accept that the left and the right might genuinely hold sincere but irreconcilable positions on something?”

    On something, sure. On everything? And so often polar opposite positions? I may be wrong, but I am dubious that what usually goes on in DC isn’t primarily political. I do not mean to say sincere beliefs and ideology do not play a significant role, only I do not believe that is the primary motivation to folks on the Hill. Not just because it doesn’t appear to be so, to me, but because the incentives are wrong.

    “To use an Ayn Rand analogy, how does one compromise between food and poison?”

    We do, actually. It’s called alcohol. We moderate poisons all the time, to various effect: nicotine, a metabolic poison, being but one example. Indeed, a study was conducted amongst people with regular exposure to low doses of radioactivity and discovered, to their surprise, that those with regular exposure to low radioactivity showed lesser incidence of cancer, not more.

    One could also rephrase it as: how do you compromise between salt and sugar? In the same dish, it’s usually 80/20 or 70/30 or some balance that adds a little salt to the sweet or a little sweet to the salt. Sometimes it’s 50/50 . . . bbq, many hot and spicy Asian dishes.

    I am not arguing that ideology is not a meaningful and insignificant thing, at all. I often argue the opposite, as when folks on the left want to attribute the entire swath of right wingers in the country to the Koch brothers. Just that the structure and incentives inside the beltway demonstrate, to me, a lot more group identification and partisan motivation than principled or ideological efforts to advance a real world agenda (although, make no mistake, there is plenty of that in Washington . . . I tend to suspect the most active ideologues on the left seek appointments, cabinet positions, and hired positions in government that require no elections or confirmations, and advance the agenda thusly; because of the incentives, I think the judicial branch conducts more actual ideological warfare than the legislative). But, of course, I could be wrong. 😉

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    • Kevin:

      I may be wrong, but I am dubious that what usually goes on in DC isn’t primarily political.

      Of course there are politics at play. But it is politics in pursuit of particular goals. You and Mark seem to think the goal is nothing other than opposition to the other party for the sake of opposition. Or simple hatred. “Whatever they say, I oppose, because it is them.” I think that is a pretty facile view of what is motivating the politicians involved.

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  31. @ScottC: “I think that is a pretty facile view of what is motivating the politicians involved.”

    Perhaps, but it seems to accurate describe the observable behavior. 😉

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