Morning Report: Looking ahead

Vital Statistics:

 

  Last Change
S&P futures 3757 17.3
Oil (WTI) 50.57 -0.04
10 year government bond yield   1.07%
30 year fixed rate mortgage   2.81%

Stocks are higher this morning after Trump agreed to an orderly transfer of power. Bonds and MBS are down.

 

Now that the Democrats control 100% of government, the first order of business will be $2,000 stimulus checks. The other big item on the menu will be a bailout for the Big Broke Blue States of NY, CA and NJ. The left has been itching to raise taxes, however I see that as a long shot while the economy is still in a COVID weakened state. I don’t see a tax hike as something we need to worry about right off the bat. GSE reform will also go to the back burner. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the government re-instate the net profit sweep.

 

The bigger fear is that the bond market continues to sell off, which counteracts what the Fed is trying to do. The fact that TBA prices are lagging the move in Treasuries indicates that the Fed is still firmly in control of this market and that mortgage rates will stay low. The Fed realizes that the easiest way to get money into people’s pockets is to let them cut their mortgage payment or to get a cash-out refinance. I suspect the Fed will keep the refi boom going for the near term by supporting the TBA market.

 

The supply / demand imbalance in the housing market should guarantee that home prices keep appreciating. The one thing that worries me is an extended foreclosure and eviction moratorium. The left has zero sympathy for landlords, and they haven’t thought through the consequences of letting people live rent-free for an extended period of time. I wouldn’t touch a non-QM NOO mortgage with a barge pole right now.

 

The FOMC minutes were uneventful. Unsurprisingly, the Fed is worried about the economy, and low inflation. They didn’t say anything we didn’t already know.

 

Initial Jobless Claims came in at 787k last week, while the Challenger and Gray job cut report showed 77,000 announced job cuts in December.

77 Responses

  1. NoVa, what are the limits of the reconciliation power with regard to a revision of the Tax Code? Seems to me the Rs in 2017 made wholesale changes on a simple majority vote in the Senate. My concern with the Biden tax plan as it has been announced is with some awful details. Here is one:

    He suggests doing away with step up basis on estates. There is no way anyone will be able to prove adjusted basis for grandma’s house when she kept no records after her purchase fifty years ago. Freaking nightmare of an idea.

    And of course there are some other doozies because like the R plan in 2017 it is a wish list, not a carefully crafted plan by lawyers and accountants, after input from business, labor, the professions, agriculture, etc..

    In the past, before 2017, tax reform went through the committee process and every interest in America got to testify and what came out was a mixed bag but workable. Complicated statutory structures deserve lengthy vetting and debating, not a rush to make a Christmas tree with goodies for friends crafted by the “leadership” and crammed through reconciliation.

    This is exacerbated by the fact that once upon a time there were standing subcommittees on technical corrections. They simply don’t seem to give a shit about getting SNAFUs corrected any more.

    Or so it seems to me.

    Like

  2. Biden today:

    “No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very very differently. We saw a clear failure to carry out equal justice.”

    How is this different from what Trump was saying about a rigged election?

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    • So, If BLM stormed the Capital they’d be treated worse? What’s worse than dying from a gunshot wound Joe?

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      • This is a great example of the blatant double standard that is routinely applied to Trump (and more generally to the right).

        Please Mark, jnc, someone…tell me why this absurdity from your choice for President is any less objectionable than Trump telling his supporters the election was stolen?

        (And Mark, in a related matter, you seemed to be saying earlier that systemic racism exists in the US. I remain curious what systems in the US you think are systemically racist, and what evidence that belief is grounded in. Thanks.)

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        • …curious what systems in the US you think are systemically racist,…

          In Fed Court, until 2010, someone convicted of possessing one gram of crack would receive a sentence 100 times longer than someone possessing one gram of powder cocaine. What is the chemical difference between crack cocaine and powder cocaine that justified this disparity? None.
          The federal law was aimed at Blacks. White suburbanites use cocaine. Why?
          Crack cocaine’s lower price, ease of production, and manner of distribution (small quantities sold to individuals for personal use) was thought to have made it more accessible in poor, urban communities than powder cocaine.

          It has been an intended result that a lot of US District Judges have railed against. As a result, In a gesture, the differential was lowered to 18-1 in 2010.

          Unlike the U.S. government, most states never imposed different sentences for possession of the different forms of cocaine. They just screw over blacks and browns on pretrial detention and bail.

          Black and brown defendants receive bail amounts that are twice as high as bail set for white defendants for similar offenses, on average.

          In Austin, police average eight minutes longer to respond to calls in black neighborhoods.

          In an area I don’t have first hand anecdotal esperience with, see this:

          https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2020/01/racial-discrimination-in-mortgage-market-persistent-over-last-four-decades/

          Brent, do you have a view on this?

          BTW, If you lived in my neighborhood you would think there is no racial bias in America. We have engineers of every color. We have gay and interracial families. Everyone knows everyone else. But if you worked the job I used to you would know better.

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        • A lot of what you describe sound class based rather than race. The slow responses are to poor neighborhoods. I imagine responses are different to even majority black and brown neighborhoods that are middle class and/or low crime. And there are lots of incentives in play beyond “I don’t like people of that race, or the institution does not”.

          Likelihood of getting shot likely figures, as well as concern about what might happen if you shoot someone.

          Bail likely represents flight risk, I would think. Maybe not. But with more and more minority judges surely this should be going away, if racism is the cause.

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        • Mark:

          The federal law was aimed at Blacks.

          What is the evidence for believing that, when Senator Joe Biden voted for this law, he was motivated by a desire to imprison blacks for longer than whites?

          Crack cocaine’s lower price, ease of production, and manner of distribution (small quantities sold to individuals for personal use) was thought to have made it more accessible in poor, urban communities than powder cocaine.

          So was the law passed in order to imprison blacks for longer periods than whites, or was it intended to better protect “poor, urban communities”?

          In Austin, police average eight minutes longer to respond to calls in black neighborhoods.

          Why do you think that systemic racism can be evidenced by such a statistical analysis, but election fraud cannot be?

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        • I argue most of this systemic discrimination is evidence of class and not race. The racism is actually in the assertion that crack was only a black issue—lots of poor white people got into crack just like they do meth now. The primary difference between powder and crack cocaine users was poverty.

          If anything is systemic racism, it was in authorities attention to poor blacks versus poor whites or willingness to arrest in comparable cases. But systemic racism remains too simplistic and political an explanation, IMO, for increasingly complicated social dynamics.

          Tribal and class politics and bias are more informative but still simplistic.

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        • My guess is the difference in mortgage rejection is due to credit scores.

          Lending decisions in the mortgage market are based on automated underwriting systems instituted by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae.

          If the AUS gives a yes, the lender does the loan. No reason not to. The loan is guaranteed by the government, and the loan officer gets a nice commission and the lender gets a nice gain on sale to Fannie Mae. Rejecting a loan for racism is like not wanting to pick up a pile of money laying in the street.

          EDIT: one other reason is low loan values. A lender will lose money on a $100k loan. profit is capped by statute and it costs more than that to do the loan

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        • “Please Mark, jnc, someone…tell me why this absurdity from your choice for President is any less objectionable than Trump telling his supporters the election was stolen?”

          He’s not inciting a riot.

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        • jnc:

          He’s not inciting a riot.

          I agree that there is a difference in immediacy, but Biden’s (and the left’s more generally) incitements have the same effect in the longer term, as this past summer demonstrated.

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        • This is true. Indeed all politicians are prone to inflammatory rhetoric and Trump isn’t qualitatively more inflammatory than what was said by the Dems, re: collusion. Trump as a Russian agent who is “not my president” is less of an incitement?

          The primary difference seems to be that Trump is willing to tell actual rioters to respect law enforcement and go home. Whereas the Democrats tend to urge it on: Pelosi saying she doesn’t understand why there aren’t more uprisings, Harris saying there needed to be more demonstrations, etc.

          Incitement and rioting is, like so much, only bad when the wrong people are doing it.

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        • inciting a riot…

          what did he say?

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        • Trump? Let’s all march down to the Capitol, then he tweeted out about Pence betraying him.

          Here’s the transcript.

          https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/donald-trump-speech-save-america-rally-transcript-january-6

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        • Trump has handled the last several weeks terribly.

          Press is still worse.

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        • “In Fed Court, until 2010, someone convicted of possessing one gram of crack would receive a sentence 100 times longer than someone possessing one gram of powder cocaine. What is the chemical difference between crack cocaine and powder cocaine that justified this disparity? None.”

          The irony here being that I believe that Biden voted for the law that created those disparities.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Also, Scott see the reaction and size of the police presence at the Capitol during the BLM protests over the summer and yesterday.

          There’s a fair amount of accurate photos and videos circulating.

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        • Was that the initial police presence strong prior to the subsequent riots and had their been any prior BLM riots anywhere else that had received publicity prior to their own riot?

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        • jnc:

          Also, Scott see the reaction and size of the police presence at the Capitol during the BLM protests over the summer and yesterday.

          I would be very interested in the timeline from the summer. I have been looking for it, but haven’t been able to find anything good. My recollection was that the National Guard was brought in (over the objections of the mayor) only after violence had already broken out, but I may be confusing DC with other cities. And of course that was against the backdrop of riots that had already broken out in other cities on the back of BLM protests. Context matters.

          Large protests occur all the time in DC. I wouldn’t be surprised if security measures taken in preparation for the summer BLM activity were heightened relative to the normal DC protest security measures, again because of the context, ie arson, looting, and violence breaking out across the entire nation on the back of BLM protests. And I wouldn’t be surprised if security preparation on Jan 6 was more in line with normal measures than those taken during BLM (if indeed BLM measures were different). But I don’t believe that the Capitol police said to themselves on Wednesday morning “Oh, it’s just a bunch of white people, we don’t have to worry about them.” Do you?

          BTW, the picture that I have seen floating around that purports to show a difference in security measures is actually of the National Guard on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, not the Capitol, and I believe they were placed there after the memorial had already been vandalized over the summer.

          Again, I would like to see an accurate timeline of events. The BLM protests/riots took place over the course of several days. The Trump protest/storming of the Capitol took place over the course of a few hours. I’m not sure direct comparisons are meaningful with regard to security measures taken, especially if just comparing a single instance in time like a photo.

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        • I don’t have a timeline, but as I recall things were being actively destroyed and/or set on fire by the time the NG was deployed, and it was like several days or weeks into
          The protesting/rioting:

          https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/31/fires-light-up-washington-dc-on-third-night-of-george-floyd-protests

          Not an apples-to-apples comparison.

          Also always good to keep in mind Twitter has become a kind of vector for PsyOps. A way to manipulate the narrative or rewrite history. Almost anything on it needs to be heavily researched and contextualized before being considered data. 😀

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    • How is this different from what Trump was saying about a rigged election?

      So you think Biden is lying through his teeth and the National Guard would not have been called early to crack down on BLM, even before they entered the Capitol Building? Hopefully we will never know, but in DC this summer non-rioting blacks were handled roughly. The woman who was killed was shot breaking into the Capitol. While regrettable, I don’t think the cop gets indicted for manslaughter. Maybe excessive force, maybe nothing, his job was to secure that building.

      Very different, I think.

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      • well, did they burn anything? destroy anything? or just take a bunch of selfies in the rotunda?

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        • You can’t assume that while they are in the process of breaking in.

          Calling a “peaceful mob” is just as absurd as the CNN video of the riots in Wisconsin citing the ‘Fiery But Mostly Peaceful’ demonstrations with the video of the car lot burning behind them.

          The tendency of everyone to make excuses for the same behavior when the perpetrators are perceived to be on the same political side as them while condemning it when the perpetrators are perceived to be on the opposite side is one of the things that’s worsened considerably over the past four years.

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        • oh, well, everyone in the melee will get 10 years… that should keep the left happy

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      • I actually think both are making reasonable assertions but neither are advocating provable, definitively factual positions. More arguing on feelings than facts. And some hyperbole from both sides.

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      • Mark:

        So you think Biden is lying through his teeth and the National Guard would not have been called early to crack down on BLM, even before they entered the Capitol Building?

        Correct. BLM/Antifa took over entire sections of cities for weeks at a time this summer, without the National Guard being called.

        And apparently you are unaware, but the DC mayor brought in National Guard troops on January 5th, one day before the event, in preparation for the pro-Trump protest.

        …but in DC this summer non-rioting blacks were handled roughly.

        The BLM protests were hardly black people only. Indeed I suspect it was mostly white people protesting. So are you suggesting that the police ignored the “non-rioting” whites and targeted “non-rioting” blacks for rough handling? What is the evidence of this?

        The woman who was killed was shot breaking into the Capitol. While regrettable, I don’t think the cop gets indicted for manslaughter.

        Agreed. But if she was a black BLM rioter and was killed by a security guard while breaking into a Walmart to loot, what do you suppose the media – and Joe Biden’s – narrative would be?

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        • “Correct. BLM/Antifa took over entire sections of cities for weeks at a time this summer, without the National Guard being called.”

          I’d characterize that as an insurrection too. See also attacking the Federal courthouse in Portland.

          But at the moment I’d characterize Trump as the more immediate threat. The Democratic response was passivity in the face of the threat. Trump actively egged it on.

          It would be like the mayor of Seattle or Portland giving a speech encouraging the Antifa to occupy downtown or attack the Federal courthouse as opposed to just standing by so as not to “escalate the situation”. And in Portland at least the last mayoral election was between the Democratic incumbent and an actual Antifa candidate. Now that it’s over, the Democratic mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler has started to crack down.

          The problem with Trump is he has no bottom. He’s gotten worse since the election, which is what justifies my vote for Biden in my mind. I’ll concede that it’s the lesser evil and it is about the short term versus the long term because without fixing the short term problem there is no long term.

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        • Agreed, again.

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        • jnc:

          The Democratic response was passivity in the face of the threat.

          I disagree. The Dems created the threat. They have been egging it on for years, and Biden continues to with his absurd, divisive and inflammatory statement just the other day.

          He’s gotten worse since the election, which is what justifies my vote for Biden in my mind.

          I’d say he’s gotten worse because of the election…again I would go to the Captain Queeg analogy. (In which case your vote wouldn’t be justified.)

          I’ll concede that it’s the lesser evil…

          This is our fundamental disagreement. In fact, I think that the evil that is the left is what produced Trump in the first place. And Biden/Harris is going to make it worse.

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        • Some of that’s chicken-and-egg. But the left specifically, and certainly some Democrat politicians, were doing more than being passive, but were actively encouraging rioting and certainly justifying it.

          But . . . shifting goalposts. The number of Defund the Police folks who were now actively wanting the Capitol Police to shoot indiscriminately at Trump supporters was non-trivial. Turns out the police being abolished is only desirable when they do something wrong in the prevention of crimes that impact average people. They want more police to shoot the folks the disagree with politically.

          The Gravel Institute was out there DURING the Capitol Riot defending the tactic of revolutionaries raiding and even taking over the Capitol Building, just not Trump supporters because they were fascists. If leftwingers were doing the exact same thing it would be great! They have since deleted those tweets.

          I think Biden has been at least 10% better than Trump on this, and a couple of times almost 50% better (but not on Wednesday). Apropos of nothing, I’m hoping Biden remains president and Harris does not assume the mantle at any point.

          Trump has gotten worse because of the election and since the election–not a meaningful distinction for me. He could be handling this much better, and so could have much of his team, but c’es la vis.

          I don’t know if Biden/Harris will make it worse. That it will get worse seems likely, but I see YouTube and FaceBook and Twitter being primary catalysts, in addition to the mainstream press, USA Today, Politifact and just the general cultural domination of the left. But I’ve always thought too much emotional energy is invested in who the president is at any given time.

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        • The Democratic response was passivity in the face of the threat. Trump actively egged it on.

          I don’t feel like the Democrats and the left are just responding with passivity, although Trump is president so that puts him in a unique position.

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        • Also:

          https://www.newswars.com/flashback-democrat-leaders-incite-riots-violence/

          A lot more “fight ’em in the streets” language from a wide variety of Democrats, compared to Trump.

          I agree 100% with this: “The problem with Trump is he has no bottom. He’s gotten worse since the election”

          And he could have done much better before, during and after the Capitol Hill riot and should have conceded the election at least by mid-December. Definitely, he has gotten worse since the election.

          If he was a serious politician and ideologue, he would have conceded to Biden early, assert the election was stolen but he had tried all legal remedies and it was time to move on, and the important thing was to make sure that there is election reform going forward. But he can’t be an advocate for anything but himself, most of the time.

          But the Democrats did not just respond to the riots with passivity–and minimum, they responded with active approval and “moral support” or understanding and sympathy, and worst, they used Trump-like language about getting in people’s faces and fighting in the streets and punching Nazis, and certainly engaged in the kind of rhetoric that suggested the police actively hunt and murder black people for sport, so the only solution is to riot.

          And so forth. Trump shouldn’t be let off the hook but the Democrats generally do not have any kind of moral high ground there, IMO.

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  3. For those in Congress and around Trump who fear his instability, neither the 25th A nor Impeachment are workable. The real choice is for Pence to promise to pardon Trump as soon as he resigns. Convince him pardoning himself will not hold, but Pence can really give him a clean bill, and maybe that will work.

    The left will howl, but Ford was right to get on with it in 1974 and we can get on with it now.

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    • Using the 25th Amendment in particular sets a horrible precedent. Trump’s not incapacitated.

      And they already impeached him once and there’s still not enough Republicans to give a 2/3’rds majority to convict.

      I think it’s better at this point to ride out the next two weeks and not give him a pardon.

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    • For what does Trump need a pardon?

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      • He has publicly floated pardoning himself, so it may be something he wants.

        Of course, he was Michael Cohen’s unindicted co-conspirator. I do not know if limitations have run on that matter.

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        • I’ve googled and can’t find any public statements to that effect but I’ll take your word for it that he’s said it publicly.

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        • Lindsey didn’t think enough women were shot and killed yesterday.

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        • Bitch had it coming then.

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        • Bitch had it coming then.

          Arthur Chu–Jeopardy champ!–agrees! He posted a series of tweets on happy he was Ashley Babbit was killed, and how that meant one less Nazi in the world, and how she wasn’t human and deserved to be put down, etc.

          He deleted the Tweets, but not before the right-wing blogosphere got plenty of screen shots.

          Is his account going to be banned from Twitter? I think not.

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  4. Greenwald’s point about this being 9/11 for progressives is spot on:

    Escalation is a very bad idea right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “heinous domestic terrorist attack”

      Oklahoma City was a domestic terrorist attack. This was a bunch of yahoos taking selfies in the Rotunda.

      The left is so melodramatic.

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    • Very bad. I don’t know who Pelosi’s theatrics are for.

      I think Biden claimed authorship of that 1987 Crime Bill. And some blacks have not forgotten. And I think it haunts him, something like how the internment of Nisei haunted Earl Warren.

      Like

  5. Can anyone post the whole Op-Ed?

    “Insurrection Demands Forceful Response
    The politics of the mob don’t matter. Government must preserve civic order.

    By Tom Cotton
    Jan. 7, 2021 6:27 pm ET”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/insurrection-demands-forceful-response-11610062056

    I think he’s one of the few Republicans to come out of this with a better reputation. He was smart enough not to sign onto the effort by Cruz, et. al. beforehand:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/01/04/tom-cotton-gop-election-challenge/

    Like

    • Over the summer, as insurrection gripped the streets, I called to send in the troops if necessary to restore order. On Wednesday insurrectionists occupied the Capitol and disrupted the proceedings of Congress.

      These groups waved signs with different slogans, but our response must be the same: no quarter for insurrectionists. Those who use violence to advance their agendas must be stopped with the full force of the law.

      Mob violence exploded over the past year. Last May rioters and looters terrorized many cities following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Left-wing radicals capitalized on the chaos by attacking courthouses and tearing down statues of Washington, Lincoln, Grant and others.

      Local Democratic officials’ response to this outburst of violence was weak and conciliatory, perhaps because the perpetrators shared their beliefs.

      Mayor Bill de Blasio assailed the New York City Police Department for “provocations under cover of darkness,” while rioters were running over officers with cars and looters were going on smash-and-grab sprees in SoHo and the Diamond District. Mr. de Blasio called for “mediation and dialogue” to stop the unrest. Unsurprisingly, it was the NYPD, not Mr. de Blasio, that restored order to the city.

      The lessons from last summer’s insurrection are clear to sober-minded observers. When leaders indulge the mob, they embolden the mob. The best way to maintain or restore order is an overwhelming display of force, which often can prevent the use of force.

      Too few of our leaders learned these lessons. The president heedlessly goaded the crowd on the mall, while some Republicans had spent a week encouraging false hope that Congress could overturn the results of the election. Washington’s left-wing mayor, Muriel Bowser, insisted National Guardsmen come unarmed to the protest. Guardsmen would have to return to their armory to retrieve weapons if things spiraled out of control, which they did. The mob outnumbered and overwhelmed Capitol Police and Secret Service at the Capitol, despite their commendable efforts to maintain control.

      Some liberals appear to have shed their reservations about the use of force now that the mob carries different signs and chants different slogans. Some of the same pundits who called roughly half the country “fascists” last year for thinking troops may be necessary to restore order now ask where the troops were on Wednesday. Perhaps they’ve learned the lesson that political violence leads to more political violence. If the lesson doesn’t stick, they’ll soon learn another: Revolutions tend to eat their own.

      Mob rule contributes to a more general breakdown of public order. Our country suffered such a breakdown last year, as the number of homicides increased at the fastest rate on record. The victims of violent crime are the most tragic casualties of disorder. Other victims are never recorded in crime statistics, such as the elderly who are afraid to go outside their homes or mothers afraid to take their children to the park.

      While law-abiding citizens are the immediate victims of the mob, they aren’t its ultimate target. Mobs attack property like the Capitol and public monuments because they are symbols of civilization. Attacks on these institutions demoralize our people and shake their faith in our government and way of life. The final victim of what Lincoln called “the mobocratic spirit” is thus “the attachment of the people,” the very spirit of civic-minded patriotism that’s necessary to preserve our republic.

      Strong leaders maintain order not only to protect their people from criminal violence but also to preserve confidence in civilization. Too many leaders have failed in this foundational task over the past year.

      As Lincoln said, we must insist that “there is no grievance that is a fit object for redress by mob law.” Instead of cowering before the mob, we must support the police, arrest the perpetrators, and end the chaos.

      Mr. Cotton, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Arkansas.

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    • Depends on if he wants to run for POTUS or not.

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  6. Worth noting:

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    • the left will be having struggle sessions on the Mall in a few days

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      • I know a lot of them want to. I don’t think Biden wants that, so maybe the 25th amendment will be invoked for him!

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      • The contrast with the refusal to “dox” the Antifa by reporting on them and also their assaults on reporters and bystanders who try to film them is telling.

        Andy Ngo is the only one doing the reporting on who the Antifa actually are and he regularly gets death threats, even though he’s mostly reporting based on public police arrest records or public social media presence.

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        • The one good thing to come out of the Trump Administration is that the credibility of the media with at least half the population is gone.

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  7. & worth a watch:

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Volokh on whether Trump’s speech rises to the level of legal incitement:

    “Incitement and Ordinary Speakers; Duty and Political Leaders

    Eugene Volokh | 1.7.2021 11:09 AM”

    https://reason.com/volokh/2021/01/07/incitement-ordinary-speakers-duty-and-political-leaders/

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  9. Good take from a VA state delegate

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    • “If you claim that the system is irrevocably rigged, racist, sexist, bigoted, you do not get to then turn around and appeal to those processes and institutions for the peaceful adjudication of problems”

      winner, winner, chicken dinner.

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  10. I have argued in the past, with Scott, the media bias had become irrelevant. Due primarily to the vast number of channels that had grown up for conservatives, starting with Fox News and talk radio and ending with the Internet.

    I concede now that Scott was correct in his cynicism and I was mistaken. For a variety of reasons.

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    • KW:

      Scott was correct

      Blind squirrel!

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      • I meant to share that observation a few years ago. My belief the bias was universal and equal-access and would only become more so became clearly wrong as the MSM became more overtly propagandistic and clearly passively and actively colluding (Journ-o-list has not gone away, it’s just moved to Slack and they’ve become far more selective about who they invite). And especially as Big Tech stepped into the game and started actively censoring opinions they did not like, deplatforming people, and using algos or direct promotion to create trends and shape public interest.

        So I owe you a Coke.

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    • Kev – do you think any general news media is unbiased? I don’t and part of my skepticism, not cynicism, is fueled by links that I have read here, especially from Joe, and sometimes from you, Scott, and NoVa.

      However, I have always been skeptical. I try to distinguish the reportage from the editorializing and all the media has made it more difficult to do so beginning with the advent of 24/7 cable. The media, except for the specialized legal media, is underequipped to deal with legal issues. You, and my Austin friends who are engineers and tecchies, have disabused me of any notion that the media understands tech issues.
      Brent is a better source on many market issues than any but the specialized media. And so on.

      But I ask my question again: Do you think any general news media is unbiased?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Do you think any general news media is unbiased?

        CSPAN?

        And there is always some bias, and some outside influence (particularly government influence). I think it was probably a lot less biased back in the old days, where an overarching goal was to reach as broad an audience as possible. That would tend to keep you focusing on event reportage. There’s bias even in that, but I personally find the bias of news in the 1970s more palatable than the present day. Or CNN in the 80s–watch CNN in the 80s and compare to today, and I just don’t think there is any comparison in terms of the level of overt bias as well as hyperbole. It’s not just bias I object to as it is narrative shaping, hyperbole (Fox News in particular played an important rule in amping up the hyperbole and abuse of adjective and adverbs in trying to instruct viewers how to feel).

        When you get better reportage (IMO) from Al Jazeera and Russia Today (on stories not involving Russia, at any rate) there is something wrong, or missing, from the mainstream news, IMO.

        A lot of that is market incentives, where the news is no longer a prestige product or public service on the networks, but must be a profit center. And of course it has to be a product center on the cable news networks.

        I also get the sense that bias on a lot of networks has led to a sense of moral obligation to propagandize and to censor. Which does not improve the quality of the journalism.

        And there’s always the problem with “if it bleeds it leads”–and, of course, in the modern era that is often “if it isn’t bleeding, we will say it is”. Typically this dovetails with their bias, but even if you removed political and ideological biases, you’d still be getting distorted news because of incentives to garner ratings, focus on shiny objects, and not anger advertisers.

        So . . . CSPAN. Otherwise, I feel you have to treat it as entertainment and get any news via osmosis.

        That there’s no market for actual news amazes me. But there doesn’t seem to be. Reporting of what is observable and actually known about significant events. Seems like there would be a good market for that. But apparently not!

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      • I agree with Taibbi’s thesis from Hate, Inc. that the business model has changed from broadcasting to the most possible people to narrowcasting to specific demographics. Add to that the collapse of ad revenue due to the Internet and you have a brand new model that doesn’t prioritize even the appearance of objectivity.

        The polling of the correlation of partisan affiliation to news outlets is telling. NYT is now the same as MSNBC in terms of 90%+ correlation to Democrats.

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  11. Taibbi talks about Wikileaks and the press:

    https://email.mg1.substack.com/c/eJxVkkuPmzAUhX9N2AX5FUgWXkxniEpaGE2VeWSF_LgkDsQgbELJr6_TdFPp-i7OudbR9WclPBy7YeZ953x0b5Wfe-AWJteC9zBEo4OhMpqvVylLSRJpjlKiUhkZV9UDwEWYlkf9KFujhDedvQ9jxEh04mLF0ColbA01Exu5YTLVjBHMaMqUxvUjUYzagFXA4QrD3FmIWn7yvncL-rQg21BeGClN7EbpvFBNrLpLUPtwJtAWnBazW3b-BMPS-bDOgm5914Bd0BeYd1iRj_mLtE1-7li5V6i85eTn826StET_9Fuxz3B5zudinoz43KKg_S7P2VTsC1zc8jnM94oW5tXsJv2Z-2L_hAqTu9yW-GDyJLffroq-eXX5OB3or14SZuq32Nn8pViWyfCeGJYk9avYZ-PJX_P2_cdzlmWtWH71W_b90KPIcIIIRhit8YatGYlxbMTY1DLtxrNZMHQ54v_eIBr4ZNrWuMYF1ynXYBJ3w_FOowr-ZbTGzxVYIVvQ3A8jRP6B-i-26ggWhvAFdCU8x0nIpitKKKLkQSaQpBivEkJoFIJ1F25Z_qDxB3rOwIg

    The rise of Wikileaks introduced an uncontrollable variable into our drift toward authoritarianism. The WMD episode had shown again that our press, the supposed first line of defense against abuses, could not be relied upon. For every expose like Abu Ghraib, there were a hundred stories that either went uncovered or advanced official deceptions.

    Wikileaks anticipated a future in which the press would not only be pliant accomplices to power in this way, but where information itself would be tightly controlled by governments using far-reaching and probably extralegal new technological concepts, deploying misleading excuses for clampdowns.

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  12. test

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