Morning Report: Housing starts hit a record

Vital Statistics:

 

  Last Change
S&P futures 3885 0.3
Oil (WTI) 53.24 0.04
10 year government bond yield   1.11%
30 year fixed rate mortgage   2.86%

Stocks are flat this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are flat as well.

 

Housing starts came in at 1.67 million, while building permits rose to 1.7 million. This is the fastest pace since the peak of the bubble years in 2006. For the full year of 2020, housing starts rose 1.38 million, which was 9% above the 2019 number.

You can see in the chart above that we are still kind of around historical averages, although they should trend upward with population growth. That chart goes back to 1960, when the US population was 181 million. We are at 331 million now. We will get existing home sales tomorrow, and the NAR has been reporting for-sale inventory is at record lows. The homebuilders have a lot of wood to chop in order to get inventory back to normal levels.

 

Initial Jobless Claims came in at 900k last week, which was a decline from the previous week.

 

The FHA said it will approve mortgages for DACA applicants. (or kids who’s parents are in the US illegally). It will be interesting to see how the government can push FHA lending going forward. They want the banks to do more of it, but the banks are understandably gun-shy after the Obama Admin used the False Claims Act to extract billions in settlements. I suspect we will be back to the Obama-era policy of cognitive dissonance: How hard can we kick the banks while simultaneously encouraging them to make more mortgages?

 

Homebuilder sentiment slipped on rising materials prices. “Despite robust housing demand and low mortgage rates, buyers are facing a dearth of new homes on the market, which is exacerbating affordability problems,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke. “Builders are grappling with supply-side constraints related to lumber and other material costs, a lack of affordable lots and labor shortages that delay delivery times and put upward pressure on home prices. They are also concerned about a changing regulatory environment.”

 

The Biden Administration is going to have to walk a fine line with respect to building more homes. Housing shortages are most acute in deep-blue urban areas where environmentalism and NIMBY-ism conspire to keep supply low. In other words, he is going to have to buck his own party’s base on this.

77 Responses

  1. Noting that Antifa attacked D HQs in Pacific NW while Proud Boys repudiated DJT as a failure, we have the confluence of anarchists.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Public schools are now required to allow boys/men to join girls/women’s sports teams.

    But hey, at least we don’t have to worry about the president tweeting insults at Rosie O’Donnell. Priorities!

    Like

    • I find it fascinating that the trans population, which is a miniscule part of the overall population, completely dominates D politics.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What fascinates me is that anyone thinks that a party dominated by this quite literally nonsensical ideology is less of a threat to the nation than Trump.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I imagine there’s a tipping point in which women pretty much lose all their own spaces to men-who-are-women where people change their minds. But a lot of people think all sorts of crazy shit is just fine until the moment it directly impacts them.

          There’s a lot of indications that the younger generations are a lot more narcissistic generally than older generations. All generations have narcissists, there are just a lot more. Narcissists can emulate empathy but they don’t actually have it, or very little of it. Ergo: they don’t care what the impact of a policy or regulation or anything is, unless and until it directly impacts them in a negative way.

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        • I imagine there’s a tipping point in which women pretty much lose all their own spaces to men-who-are-women where people change their minds.

          That is already happening. Trans versus TERFs.

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    • I am skeptical that the order you cited will permit either self proclaimed or surgically reconstructed females who were formerly known as biological males to compete in women’s sports.

      Of course George’s caveat that men make the best women must be kept in mind.

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      • The order itself won’t. The “promulgate new agency actions” part will.

        You are aware that this is currently going on in certain sections of the country? Biden’s goal is to make it nationwide through Title VII and Title IX enforcement actions.

        https://www.npr.org/2020/03/03/811504625/should-transgender-students-be-allowed-to-compete-in-womens-athletics

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        • I doubt it.

          Joe, I doubt it because I think I could win the lawsuit for the UT women’s teams to prohibit formerly known as [FKAs] biological males from competing. I would do it with overwhelming medical evidence showing that the “discrimination” is not invidious because of structural and hormonal differences in the bodies of the FKAs. I would be able to carry that case even more easily than prohibiting testosterone, steroids, and HGH.

          Let me add that I expect the litigation soon.

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        • Mark:

          Joe, I doubt it because I think I could win the lawsuit for the UT women’s teams to prohibit formerly known as [FKAs] biological males from competing.

          So Biden is promulgating policy that you think is easily provable to be against the law? Weird. I would have thought that such lawlessness from a chief executive would be a thing of the past now that the dreaded Trump is gone.

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        • It’s already happening. See the article.

          Edit: More history

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/01/21/biden-executive-order-transgender-lgbtq/

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        • I couldn’t care less if men compete in women’s sports. the identity politics left made their bed and they can lie in it for all i care.

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      • Mark:

        I am skeptical that the order you cited will permit either self proclaimed or surgically reconstructed females who were formerly known as biological males to compete in women’s sports.

        It’s already happening. And that is the whole point of it.

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        • As I wrote, I think I could win the lawsuit and I think the ultimate result will be that FKA biological males will not be allowed in women’s sports. I think the track and field federations and the IOC will join the massive litigation that is beginning and is sure to follow.

          I will be surprised if this initiative, apparently begun under Trump’s Administration, survives.

          Everything that Connecticut mother wrote is germane and true.

          Let’s see what the NCAA and AAU stances are. And let us follow the litigation.

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        • Mark:

          As I wrote, I think I could win the lawsuit and I think the ultimate result will be that FKA biological males will not be allowed in women’s sports.

          That’s fine, but the point is that this is a policy that Biden actually desires (entirely predictably) and is trying to foist upon the nation. If you are correct and it is so obviously not what the law requires, that just makes it even worse, ie that the chief executive of the nation plans on enforcing legal restrictions that do not actually exist in the law.

          …apparently begun under Trump’s Administration…

          I suggest you dispense with whatever information source told you that. This is akin to believing that a policy of open borders with Mexico originated with Trump.

          It began with Obama. A memo titled Questions and Answers on Title IX and Single Sex Elementary and Secondary Classes and Extracurricular Activities and issued by Obama in 2014 declared that “Under Title IX, a recipient generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity”. The memo itself avoided the obvious implications for athletics by claiming that athletics were governed by separate Title IX regulations, and so the memo did not apply to them. But the insane logic, such as it is, and the inevitable implications of it were put in place in 2014. In a 2016 Dear Colleague letter, the Obama admin further solidified the “rules” spelled out in the 2014 Q&A.

          Trump rather infamously and to much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the media/the left rescinded the Obama rules in 2017.

          And now the tomato juice can in the White House has not only reinstated them, but has doubled down.

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        • I will accept that history and I am sure you are correct. I think the Biden Admin is wrong about this narrow issue and will be proven so.

          I think if it comes to it the Supremes will narrow that ruling.

          We shall see.

          Scott, why in the world would you think that I would defend Biden on this? I was not sure at first that you were implying that I would, but it seems that you are.

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        • Mark:

          I was not sure at first that you were implying that I would, but it seems that you are.

          No, I wasn’t meaning to suggest that you would defend it. But it is what you voted for. You obviously prefer this kind of policy insanity to the alternative.

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        • You obviously prefer this kind of policy insanity to the alternative.

          I prefer this kind of litigation over the Trump alternatives, I guess. I prefer to disagree with a POTUS who is calm and rational then with one who is an apparently unstable con artist.

          Because I am never going to agree with more than 65% of policies of anyone, at most, I have to vote accordingly, but I would vote for someone I 90% disagreed with against a guy I thought perpetually dishonest and unstable. Ain’t no negotiating with the perpetually dishonest. If I were representing a business that was asked to bid on a Trump project I would suggest that the risk of being stiffed was too great, and that no contract could completely protect them. Same idea here.

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        • That doesn’t seem to make sense if you believe this, from Milton Friedman.

          What is important is not the particular person who is elected President or the party he belongs to. I have often said we shall not correct the state of affairs by electing the right people; we’ve tried that. The right people before they’re elected become the wrong people after they’re elected. The important thing is to make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. If it is not politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either.

          Republican base dynamics forced Trump to do the right things, that’s why his character didn’t matter. That’s the way the left’s played for years. Trump was honest with his base while most Federally elected Republicans are not.

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        • What is “the right thing”. Presumable “the right thing” is whatever gets you in office/wins an election. Often not clear to the people in the DC bubble until well after the fact, if ever. Most of them don’t seem good at blaming their losses on themselves. The GA senate loss wasn’t because they fielded shitty candidates–IT WAS TRUMP!!! It was LIN WOOD!!! IT was . . . you know, definitely not the shitty candidates the GOP fielded.

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        • They have good polling and know exactly why they won or lost, it never coincides with what they say. If elected Republicans desire reelection they should be afraid of their voters and right now they’re not. They’re more afraid of leftists for some reason. I’m guessing they fear for their physical safety.

          If that’s what it takes…

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        • Or fear for public shaming. Apparently, bad mouthing people on Twitter and CNN can work wonders.

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        • You cannot shame a politician. I admit I laughed at this though!

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        • You can indeed shame a politician, and pundits, although perhaps it’s the cancelling they are afraid of.

          But they don’t want to be ejected from the cliques and ostracized from their in-groups. Evicted from high society. They may not be capable of much shame but they don’t want to get canceled. Or otherwise marginalized.

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        • I feel Trump was uniquely visible in his many, many character flaws. I expect many politicians share them, perhaps are even worse, but don’t wallow in them and in fact often try to conceal them.

          But yeah I definitely wouldn’t get into business with Trump. That’s just asking to lose your money. Although, that being said, I wouldn’t get into business with Biden, either. Or Clinton. Not sure about Obama. Not Dubya. Reagan, absolutely.

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        • Mark:

          I prefer to disagree with a POTUS who is calm and rational then with one who is an apparently unstable con artist.

          If you genuinely think that Biden – along with virtually any other politician – isn’t a con artist, then you have been conned. Politics requires conning people.

          I would vote for someone I 90% disagreed with against a guy I thought perpetually dishonest and unstable.

          How many Biden lies will I have to detail here in order to convince you that he, too, is perpetually dishonest?

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        • False equivalence: Trump-the-con and garden variety pols as cons

          I played basketball. Michael Jordan played basketball.

          It’s like that.

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        • Is your position that Trump was better at conning people?

          Seems like you saw right through him and refused to vote for him. How effective a con artist could he be then?

          And you voted for Biden…

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        • Mark:

          False equivalence: Trump-the-con and garden variety pols as cons

          I don’t understand this. Perhaps if you give me an example, it will make more sense to me. What Big Con has Trump pulled off in his 4 years as president that, relative to other pols like Biden or Obama, makes them look like amateurs?

          Or let’s make it more concrete…which specific Trump con makes Obama’s “if you like your policy you can keep it” con look like a 70+ year old trying to match up with Michael Jordan on the basketball court? Or how about Obama’s “Russian Collusion” con?

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        • I think the issue with lies is their bald-faced nature with Trump. That and his sometimes annoying obsession about lying on non-political things. And just generally uncouthness.

          There is nothing to his instability that struck me as special compared to thinking it was a good idea to create a secret commission to nationalize American healthcare … or to the Queeg-like paranoia that had more Guard troops in DC than soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan or AOC and others saying they can seconds away from being murdered or the demands to turn the tools of the state immediately towards prosecuting critics and crushing places where critics could speak … and so on.

          Trump struck my as more consistent and predictable than most politicians.

          A lot of the appearance of instability came from how bad he was at hiring, IMO.

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        • My guess that it isn’t what a lot of people voted for. In fact I think a lot of people voted like Mark: no more Trump. That was the big part of the vote.

          That being said, I’m getting a sense that the overreach here is going to make Obama look like a piker. Not sure it will quite be Clinton’s secret healthcare initiative to turn all healthcare in America into a communist project (back in the days when the Democratic party wasn’t married at the hip to the corporatocracy).

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        • There won’t be a consequence to the over reach however. Ballot harvesting is hear to stay.

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        • The only consequence to the overreach, at least definitively, can be in the house. Ballot harvesting was dominant in big urban centers, who would likely send Democrats to congress anyway. Not saying they can infiltrate a sufficient number of counties/districts to do the same but I expect it will be considerably harder, and almost certainly not done by 2022.

          I think Republicans may be shit out luck for the presidency and the senate, at least for awhile, and unless they do something to make ballot harvesting/fudging/”ajudicating” and otherwise gaming the system a lot harder. Which I don’t know how likely that is.

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        • Payback to Russia for stealing the election!!!

          Oh, wait, that was the previous election. Never mind!

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        • KW:

          My guess that it isn’t what a lot of people voted for.

          Sure it is. It isn’t like Biden’s EO is a big shock. His party has been been pushing the envelope on this topic for years, he campaigned on doing this kind of thing, and lo and behold, he’s doing it. No person paying a reasonable amount of attention can be surprised by this. If you voted for Biden, then you voted for this kind of policy.

          It is perfectly fine to make a calculation that, while objectionable in a vacuum, putting up with this kind of policy is preferable to some predicted alternative. That is, in fact, what we all do in virtually every election. I prefer this to that. Doesn’t mean I like this, but it does mean I am voting for this in order to avoid that.

          There were lots of ways to vote for Not Trump. I voted for Not Trump in 2016 by writing in Barry Goldwater. Lots of other people voted for Not Trump by voting for Gary Johnson. If you wanted to vote for Not Trump in 2020, you could have voted for Jo Johnson or written in any random name from the phone book. If instead, however, you voted for Biden, you were not just voting for Not Trump, but you were also voting Yes Biden. Biden voters are responsible for every predictable, reality defying, culture destroying, Constitution-violating policy that he puts forth. They chose him, they own him.

          #Priorities

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        • I meant more as a “in their own mind”. I expect a lot of Biden voters don’t know that much about Niden’s policy positions, or Trump’s, or politics, or civics, or what Biden is actually doing now unless it shows up in their Facebook or Twitter feed. Lots of voters are low-information, I think. And remain so.

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        • The Trump administration was hostile to it and DeVos tried to roll it back.

          It got a new boost from a SCOTUS decision that discrimination based on gender identity was prohibited as tantamount to sex discrimination.

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        • And sex discrimination does not include and never has included segregating sports by sex. And it will not now, IMHO.

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        • “And sex discrimination does not include and never has included segregating sports by sex. And it will not now, IMHO.”

          Sure, but they now read sex to mean gender and people can pick their gender. So if you are transgender woman and they refuse to allow you to play for the women’s team, it’s now illegal discrimination.

          A detailed rundown:

          https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/01/joe-biden-lgbtq-bostock-executive-order.html

          But the Biden bashing is misplaced. This really does flow directly from the holding in Bostock v. Clayton County, as was pointed out in the dissents. Biden is just implementing the SCOTUS ruling.

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        • jnc:

          Biden is just implementing the SCOTUS ruling.

          Come on, jnc, you don’t really believe that. The Biden announcement doesn’t mention the Bostock ruling even a single time. Even Biden claims to be doing it on his own authority, not SCOTUS’s, prefacing the order with “By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows…”, not with “In order to comply with the ruling in Bostock v Clayton…“. And it is also prefaced with all the usual leftwing PC BS about “respect” and “dignity” and “fear”. This is something Biden is doing for political/ideological reasons, not legal reasons.

          Besides which, despite the claims in your Slate article, it is not at all clear that Bostock is relevant to this issue at all. When it comes to Title IX, the literal incoherence of the transgender ideology and terminology is relevant in ways that it is not in cases like Bostock.

          In Bostock the court was ruling on whether so-called gender discrimination is encompassed by sex discrimination, ie whether any law that explicitly outlaws sex discrimination implicitly outlaws gender discrimination. But the relevant question with regard to title IX is not whether gender discrimination is included under the term sex discrimination, but rather whether the type of discrimination that is exempted from Title IX prohibitions is gender discrimination instead of sex discrimination.

          Biden, like the left more generally, presents his policy using the language of anti- discrimination, but not surprisingly this is a semantic deception. On its face, the language of Title IX outlaws the existence sex-segregated sports teams. But because this is an obviously idiotic application of the the non-discrimination principle, an exception from the law for bathroom and changing facilities, as well as for competitive sports teams, has always existed. It is only because of this exception that boys/mens and girls/womens sports teams are allowed to exist. And the Biden policy does not end this long-allowed form of discrimination. It simply applies the exception on the basis of gender identity rather than sex. So despite Biden’s claims to the contrary, his policy doesn’t prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity as well as sex (which is what Bostock mandates), his policy allows for discrimination on the basis of gender-identity instead of sex.

          Another way of putting is that, in Bostock the case revolved around the meaning of the word/concept “sex”. For Biden’s policy, the relevant issue is the meaning of the words/concepts “boys/men” and “girls/women”. The logic of Bostock (if it can be called that) stands regardless of how one might determine what the words “boy” and “girl” actually refer to. With regard to Title IX’s exception for scholastic sports, what those words refer to is the entire issue.

          So no, Biden was not just implementing the SCOTUS ruling.

          Like

        • From the Slate article:

          The executive order notes that transgender students may not be denied access to bathrooms or school sports.

          This is a good example of how Biden, and the left more generally, lies about what is actually going on. No one is being “denied access to bathrooms or school sports”, and that isn’t what the controversy is about, nor is it what the executive order prevents. The question is whether segregation in – not access to – bathrooms and school sports will be on the basis of sex, or on the basis of gender identity.

          Ironically, although not surprisingly, Biden’s executive order actually does the complete opposite of what it purports to do. It imposes, rather than prevents, discrimination on the basis of gender identity. If I say “Only females are allowed to play on this team”, that is an example of sex discrimination. If I say “Only those who identify as girls are allowed to play on this team”, that is an example of gender-identity discrimination. Biden’s EO mandates the latter and prohibits the former.

          Like

        • I tend to feel 98% of what I read in Vox, Slate, Daily Beast, Huffington Post, WaPo, NYT, or see on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox (I’ve never actually watched OANN or Newsmax) is a good example of lies, narrative shaping, or propaganda. The vast majority of journalists now clearly see their job as shaping the narrative and acting as gatekeepers over facts the public can’t be trusted with and “reporting the story in such a way” that people get the real “context”. Why you see so many frackin’ adverbs and adjectives in the reportage and opinion pages. Nothing about potential election fraud could be reported without appending “baseless” (it wasn’t) and “without evidence” (highly debatable; depends on what your threshold for evidence is, I suppose)–which is narrative-shaping I find objectionable even if I agreed with it. I read a modest amount of stuff off the big conservative sites, primarily opinion, but when the material gives an air of pretend objectivity while peppering things with unnecessary modifiers so I know how to think about it . . . that gets old. Make your case.

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    • “But hey, at least we don’t have to worry about the president tweeting insults at Rosie O’Donnell.”

      This isn’t a serious argument. Trump’s downside was far worse than mean tweets, but if you want to pretend otherwise, than so be it.

      Like

      • Let’s elaborate on Trump’s bad side.

        Tweets, obviously.

        Presidential speeches were generally not great.

        Terrible at articulating what he was doing or why. He had the bully pulpit but was largely incapable of persuasion with that megaphone.

        Early on: travel ban, John Bolton, the first few press secretaries, lobbing missiles in Syria, etc. I’d call those negatives.

        Basically listening to the big tobacco companies on the dangers of vaping. That was dumb.

        Didn’t really deliver on the wall.

        Ukraine call. Inappropriate. But probably more unusual in that it was leaked than that it happened.

        COVID response was to be bored by it and confuse things.

        Should have conceded much earlier, spent his last time trying to initiate some future election security stuff.

        A lot of his pardons are questionable.

        ….

        I’m okay with his approach to China, even though I know: tariffs. I’m fine. Try things.

        Abraham Accords good. Getting out of the TPP was good. Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords was good, IMO. Trying to bring troops home, good. No new wars, good.

        Vaccine push. Good. Worked by all appearances.

        Deregulation push: good, IMO.

        Overall, the economy was going gang-busters pre-COVID. That’s not all or even primarily the president, but clearly he didn’t hurt it.

        On the whole, Trump was a good president–maybe a great one, compared to other presidents in recent history–if you strip away the tweets and his personal spats with people and how hard it was for him to get good people in his staff and cabinet. His personality was the outstanding problem, IMO. And it is important, ultimately.

        Like

        • Basically listening to the big tobacco companies on the dangers of vaping. That was dumb.

          I’m convinced that was more Melania catching Barron vaping and having a shit fit over it. Dude’s married after all. I can forgive that.

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        • “Should have conceded much earlier, spent his last time trying to initiate some future election security stuff.”

          I view his behavior after the election as worse than that. More to the point, he was getting progressively worse as things went on.

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      • jnc:

        Trump’s downside was far worse than mean tweets

        Like what? The worst thing about Trump has always been his persona and presentation. Which I admit is pretty bad. But as threats to the nation goes, it pales in comparison to what the left has done, and quite predictably will do under a Biden presidency, with policy. As we are seeing even after day 1 of it. As the old joke goes, relax and enjoy it.

        Like

  3. Mayor of DC announces that DC restaurants can resume indoor dining the day after Biden is inaugurated. What a coincidence!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good take on the Capitol riots/insurrection by Jacobin:

    “How the QAnon Cult Stormed the Capitol

    By
    Daniel Bessner
    Amber A’Lee Frost

    Perhaps the strangest thing about the media coverage of the Capitol Hill rally was how little of it focused on the visible presence of QAnon. What’s behind the Q cult, and how can we confront it?”

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2021/01/q-anon-cult-capitol-hill-riot-trump

    Like

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