Morning Report: Powell soothes the markets

Vital Statistics:

  Last Change
S&P futures 4,511 6.2
Oil (WTI) 68.94 0.35
10 year government bond yield   1.31%
30 year fixed rate mortgage   3.07%

Stocks are higher this morning after Jerome Powell’s speech on Friday contained no negative surprises for the markets. Bonds and MBS are up.

 

The big takeaway from Powell’s speech on Friday is that tapering (or the reduction of asset purchases) is on the horizon, but rate hikes are not.

We have said that we would continue our asset purchases at the current pace until we see substantial further progress toward our maximum employment and price stability goals, measured since last December, when we first articulated this guidance. My view is that the “substantial further progress” test has been met for inflation. There has also been clear progress toward maximum employment. At the FOMC’s recent July meeting, I was of the view, as were most participants, that if the economy evolved broadly as anticipated, it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year. The intervening month has brought more progress in the form of a strong employment report for July, but also the further spread of the Delta variant. We will be carefully assessing incoming data and the evolving risks. Even after our asset purchases end, our elevated holdings of longer-term securities will continue to support accommodative financial conditions.

 

The timing and pace of the coming reduction in asset purchases will not be intended to carry a direct signal regarding the timing of interest rate liftoff, for which we have articulated a different and substantially more stringent test. We have said that we will continue to hold the target range for the federal funds rate at its current level until the economy reaches conditions consistent with maximum employment, and inflation has reached 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time. We have much ground to cover to reach maximum employment, and time will tell whether we have reached 2 percent inflation on a sustainable basis.

Interestingly, MBS spreads remain surprisingly tight given that language. During the 2013 “taper tantrum” MBS spreads widened to 150 basis points as mortgage rates rose 120 bps ahead of the first reduction. I think we are sitting around 70-ish. I am not sure what that implies, however my guess is that in 2013, the markets were anticipating that the Fed could actually sell its portfolio into the market. They never did that, and couldn’t even go as far as to let prepayments do the job. This time around, sales are probably off the table, and the Fed will probably re-invest maturing proceeds from MBS as well, so the anticipated future shock is much l0wer. That is probably the reason why MBS investors are sanguine this time around.

 

The Fed Funds futures bumped up the probability of no change in rates in 2022 from 39% to 48% on Powell’s speech. Here is the latest handicapping in the markets:

 

The trend is looking dovish. Note the Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now index is turning down sharply as well. The index is much more bearish than the Street right now.

 

The upcoming week will have a lot of data, with home prices on Tuesday, ISM on Wednesday and Friday and the jobs report on Friday. The Street is looking for 740,000 jobs to have been created in August.

 

The Biden Administration’s end-around extension of the eviction moratorium was shot down by SCOTUS last week, so the issue goes back to Congress. It doesn’t look like Congress has the votes to pass legislation on it, so we are at the posturing and finger-pointing stage.

 

Pending home sales fell in July, according to NAR.

“The market may be starting to cool slightly, but at the moment there is not enough supply to match the demand from would-be buyers,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “That said, inventory is slowly increasing and home shoppers should begin to see more options in the coming months. Homes listed for sale are still garnering great interest, but the multiple, frenzied offers – sometimes double-digit bids on one property – have dissipated in most regions,” Yun said. “Even in a somewhat calmer market, a number of potential buyers are still choosing to waive appraisals and inspections.”

 

 

 

55 Responses

    • I recognize he was using it the sense of “good old Louisiana boy”. It’s easy enough to figure out from context—although how a Republican doing the same thing would be covered is radically different.

      The right-wing media is doing some of the same stuff they bitch about the left-wing media doing but I guess what’s good for the goose …

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  1. There’s that word again…”equity”.

    https://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/Health_Equity.html

    The brainwashing continues unabated.

    As an aside, if our military leadership’s recent performance is any indication of what happens when a government operation prioritizes all of this woke nonsense instead of focusing on its core purpose, we should definitely be very concerned about the way the CDC is handling COVID.

    I was going to end with a sarcastic “Thanks Biden!”, but at this point I’m not sure that he is actually responsible for anything at all. Do we have any idea who is actually running the Executive branch at the moment?

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    • A committee of leftover hippies and millenial wokesters. Primarily people who have come up through elite academia and never held a job in the private market in their lives. Also folks with non-tradition family backgrounds who have never directly experienced church, Boy Scouts, 4h clubs and the like. And whose history professors taught entirely from the books of Howard Zinn.

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    • “As an aside, if our military leadership’s recent performance is any indication of what happens when a government operation prioritizes all of this woke nonsense instead of focusing on its core purpose, we should definitely be very concerned about the way the CDC is handling COVID.”

      I was thinking about this last night and really it all started to go down hill in terms of not winning wars when the War Department was renamed to the Defense Department.

      That was really the first act of “political correctness” for Cold War propaganda purposes that started the whole ball rolling.

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    • The left’s interest in the military has largely revolved around the social engineering aspect. The left gets more agitated over trans people in the military than whether we win or lose wars.

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  2. From the WSJ:

    Eyewear maker Warby Parker Inc. last week became the latest company to file paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a direct listing, illustrating the staying power of the alternative path to public markets for companies that don’t need to raise money.

    The still relatively small group of companies that have made their debuts on U.S. exchanges through direct listings have, on average, outperformed the S&P 500 and a key broader index for initial public offerings during the same period, according to an analysis by University of Florida finance professor Jay Ritter.

    Of course, IPOs are necessary for most businesses intent on going public, because the funding mechanism works well and quickly for the entrepreneur. I suspect the key to the finding that direct listings do better is not the elimination of the middle man brokerage but the underlying financial health of the company going public.

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    • It is interesting how much the investment banking model has deteriorated over the past 30 years. It started with brokerage commissions dropping to zero, and now this…

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    • Washington Post said the same thing.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-meeting-fallen-americans-families/2021/08/30/07ecff7c-09ac-11ec-a6dd-296ba7fb2dce_story.html

      I thought this was a good take:

      ““When he just kept talking about his son so much it was just — my interest was lost in that. I was more focused on my own son than what happened with him and his son,” Schmitz said. “I’m not trying to insult the president, but it just didn’t seem that appropriate to spend that much time on his own son.”

      “I think it was all him trying to say he understands grief,” Schmitz added. “But when you’re the one responsible for ultimately the way things went down, you kind of feel like that person should own it a little bit more. Our son is now gone. Because of a direct decision or game plan — or lack thereof — that he put in place.””

      I’m starting to feel a bit bad for Biden in that he’s really catching a lot of flack not just for his own mistakes in how the withdrawal was handled but he’s become the scapegoat for the whole disaster in Afghanistan and he’s the one who opposed the nation building part during the Obama administration.

      I also give him points for actually meeting with the families and taking the criticism and anger directly, even if he didn’t handle it the best. Leaving aside his politics, from a capacity issue he’s lost a step from when he was VP and watching him get yelled at in this state is a bit off putting, even if he did put himself in the situation by running in the first place.

      Ross Douthat had a good piece today, and this sounds right to me:

      “My cynicism consisted of the belief that the American effort to forge a decent Afghan political settlement failed definitively during Barack Obama’s first term in office, when a surge of U.S. forces blunted but did not reverse the Taliban’s recovery. This failure was then buried under a Vietnam-esque blizzard of official deceptions and bureaucratic lies, which covered over a shift in American priorities from the pursuit of victory to the management of stalemate, with the American presence insulated from casualties in the hopes that it could be sustained indefinitely.”

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  3. The will to fight was clearly on the Taliban side. This sounds almost like dialog from Independence Day:

    ““Today is the day we won our freedom,” said Raz Muhammad Zarkawi, a Taliban fighter celebrating by handing out the group’s white flags along a main thoroughfare.

    “This is the result of 20 years of sacrifices,” he said.

    The 27-year-old from Farah province had never been to Kabul before the group took over the city just over two weeks ago.

    “This will be a great capital city, and we will make it even better,” he said. “Kabul will soon be one of the most beautiful cities in the world.””

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/31/afghanistan-kabul-taliban-live-updates/#link-OE32YFFNAFGSDDS7SB7KXRFCUA

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  4. This was linked at Ace. Also long, but really interesting article:

    https://richardhanania.substack.com/p/woke-institutions-is-just-civil-rights

    Thus, we see that every one of the main pillars of wokeness can be traced to new standards created by regulators and courts, mostly in the 1960s and 1970s but updated over time.

    1) The idea that disparities mean discrimination is simply disparate impact.

    2) Speech restriction is a hostile work environment.

    3) The HR bureaucracy was created to enforce (1) and (2), in a world of vague and consistently shifting government standards to root out discrimination.

    Recent controversy over Critical Race Theory training, like the debate about whether standardized tests are racist, misses the larger point that the entire concept of a full-time bureaucracy having to micromanage people’s work lives is a creation of government…

    …This demonstrates two points. First, the power of government to shape culture is quite extensive if it can create identities out of thin air. AAPI is a reductio ad absurdum of this idea; I still can’t believe anyone can utter the phrase with a straight face, much less emotionally identify with the category. Second, there can be a delay between a time a policy is enacted and when its cultural influence is felt in full. Like Scott Alexander, I think it’s clear that the proximate cause of the Great Awokening is the rise of the internet and social media. Yet the ground had been set by generations of government bureaucracy making sure that almost every major institution was subject to the rules of disparate impact, hostile work environment, and the HR revolution.

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    • Another really interesting article from the same guy, linked in the above article. It touches on a lot of observations that we have mentioned here, such as the obvious intolerance of the left to opposing points of view, but it delves a bit deeper and draws some not exactly optimistic conclusions.

      As an aside, reading it suggested to me an alternative explanation for why ATiM has lost all of its explicitly left-of-center participants, which is essentially a variation on the old rule of thumb that any organization not explicitly on the right will eventually become explicitly on the left. By preventing the latter, perhaps we have as a consequence unavoidably caused the former.

      Anyway, below is an extensive excerpt, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.

      https://richardhanania.substack.com/p/why-is-everything-liberal

      There’s a great irony here. Conservatives tend to be more skeptical of pure democracy, and believe in individuals coming together and forming civil society organizations away from government. Yet conservatives are extremely bad at gaining or maintaining control of institutions relative to liberals. It’s not because they are poorer or the party of the working class – again, I can’t stress enough how little economics predicts people’s political preferences – but because they are the party of those who simply care less about the future of their country.

      Debates over voting rights make the opposite assumption, as conservatives tend to want more restrictions on voting, and liberals fewer, with National Review explicitly arguing against a purer form of democracy. Conservatives may be right that liberals are less likely to care enough to do basic things like bring a photo ID and correctly fill out a ballot. If this is true, Republicans are the party of people who care enough to vote when doing so is made slightly more difficult but not enough to do anything else, while Democrats are the party of both the most active and least active citizens. Yet while being the “care only enough to vote” party might be adequate for winning elections, the future belongs to those at the tail end of the distribution who really want to change the world.

      The discussion here makes it hard to suggest reforms for conservatives. Do you want to give government more power over corporations? None of the regulators will be on your side. Leave corporations alone? Then you leave power to Woke Capital, though it must to a certain extent be disciplined and limited by the preferences of consumers. Start your own institutions? Good luck staffing them with competent people for normal NGO or media salaries, and if you’re not careful they’ll be captured by your enemies anyway, hence Conquest’s Second Law. And the media will be there every step of the way to declare any of your attempts at taking power to be pure fascism, and brush aside any resistance to your schemes as righteous anger, up to and including rioting and acts of violence.

      There’s a way to interpret the data discussed above that is more flattering to conservatives than presenting them as the ideology of people who don’t care. Those who identify on the right are happier, less mentally ill, and more likely to start families. Perhaps political activism is often a sign of a less well-adjusted mind or the result of seeking to fill an empty void in one’s personal life. Conservatives may tell themselves that they are the normal people party, too satisfied and content to expend much time or energy on changing the world. But in the end, the world they live in will ultimately reflect the preferences and values of their enemies.

      And a follow up post:

      https://richardhanania.substack.com/p/2016-the-turning-point

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      • By preventing the latter, perhaps we have as a consequence unavoidably caused the former.

        Before ATiM, Mark invited me into a group of progressives (I really don’t feel like many on the modern left deserve the label “liberal”, though they often give it to themselves). Aside from Mark, the conversation there was always nothing but tripwires (and I don’t think this is necessarily a conscious thing on their part), so every expressed opinion was filtered through a lens of “that’s somehow racist”, and certain arbitrary and innocuous (and common) phrases were verboten because they were triggering to some members and the response to their use was as if I should have naturally known that without having been told–and of course required a struggle session. The left and their fucking struggle sessions.

        So I left because, from my point of view, conversation was not really possible in that environment.

        Of course, had the reverse been true and there had been a dozen of me on there, I expect most of them would have left for the same reason–because without the struggle sessions, the rules against anything “triggering”, the inability of all these different versions of me to not understand how everything that was in disagreement with them was racist in some way–they would feel there could be no conversation.

        Which tends to make me feel ideology is often married at the hip to manners and traditions and a sort of quasi-unspoken protocol. At one point in time–and one ideological side is always going to tend to be the Puritans, and one ideological side is always going to have a tendency to be the hippies or the libertines.

        The right is now the counterculture–the hippies, basically.The left are now the puritans. If someone wearing a MAGA hat says America is the greatest country in the world, the effrontery of such a statement gives a progressive the vapors and they have no choice but to desperately clutch their pearls.

        I’ve just recently watched Downton Abbey and it struck me that the British nobles, watching their culture wither and be replaced, bore a striking similarity in their puritanical views and insistence on proper decorum to the left–which is populated by elites–today.

        Anyway, I find the number of people who actually want dialog, who actually are willing to challenge their assumptions, who truly want a good faith back-and-forth . . . there aren’t many, on the right or left. Bubbles are more comfortable, and that’s where most people seem to gravitate.

        And there is a certain easy mob mentality online. So when there’s 3 of you and 7 of the other, one side gangs up on the other and it becomes exhausting. And most people’s instincts are kind of to respond to something they consider politically ignorant–but is of importance to the person stating in, or deeply believed–with rude deconstruction at best or ridicule at worst, not always aware how different it sounds to the recipient than it sounds to the speaker. And so they eventually avoid those conversations, because they are unpleasant for them.

        And if you believe something but aren’t in a great position to defend it against an onslaught of facts and hard data–your speciality–the prospect of having to actually dive deeply into the subject to defend your comfortable position, or face the fact that you don’t have and never had the data to justify your position, can be daunting. Again, often easier to abdicate and just continue to believe what you believe without substantial foundation.

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        • I’m curious if there are no go discussions zones here at ATiM? What are the taboo subjects? I’m sure that there are, or at least some left leaning members (well, former members) would say so. Any ideas?

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        • McWing:

          I’m curious if there are no go discussions zones here at ATiM?

          For a short time in the long distant past, I think abortion became one, or at least got close to being one. But now? I don’t think anything is a no-go area.

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        • Brent’s effusive love for the “rock” group Boston certainly should be a no-go zone. Also, the hatred on here expressed for the Star Trek reboot should also be a no-go zone. Hell, it should be a ban-able offense

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        • lol!

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        • The Star Trek reboot sucked, especially Into Darkness. My God what an awful movie.

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        • I agree that Darkness sucked, but the first one, it was genius.

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        • It was okay. Too much lens flare for me but also too much deviation from the source. On the positive side I thought the Kobyashi Maru in into darkness was well done—a lot of critics of that. But resetting the timeline never really worked for me. Eh, just not my bag.

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        • I would avoid over-personalizing things in a general group, which I think we sometimes did–I would avoid (at least in the old days, if I could remember to) turning the conversation into a critique of the other person’s strategy or hypocrisy, at least directly. Sure I didn’t always, I said lots of stuff I have no memory of now, I’ve found.

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        • “Also, the hatred on here expressed for the Star Trek reboot should also be a no-go zone. Hell, it should be a ban-able offense”

          Still hatin’

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        • I am so triggered right now, I can’t even…

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        • That group pretty much disbanded because its left wing was so shrill that its right wing [people who had voted for Rs in the last decade, but no movement conservatives] just left. Kev, you were not the first to go – I thought inviting you might restore some balance. The guy who thought you should not say “he who has the gold rules” asked me to “expel” you and of course I would not, so he quit.

          Meanwhile, there is a show on Netflix called The Chair about a private east coast university with a failing English Department. One of the professors in an attempt to make fun of Fascism after calling it the state control of your mind and your very being did a heil salute to the word FASCISM written on the blackboard. Some students got it on video on their cell phones and in the next episode he will face a termination proceeding for his verboten Nazi salute.

          In real life, someone I know used a still from Monty Python’s “No One expects the Spanish Inquisition” skit in a meeting and is now faced with an EEOC complaint apparently about his denigrating Catholicism. The still, uncommented upon by my friend, was just used to silently suggest that lots of stuff is unexpected.

          Glad I ain’t practicing in this environment.

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        • That group pretty much disbanded because its left wing was so shrill that its right wing [people who had voted for Rs in the last decade, but no movement conservatives] just left. Kev, you were not the first to go – I thought inviting you might restore some balance. The guy who thought you should not say “he who has the gold rules” asked me to “expel” you and of course I would not, so he quit.

          You’ve got a better memory than me–I had literally forgotten what I said that set him off. That being said, I also forgot the dude left. And there were other troubles (I’m sorry, I forget the lady’s name, but she definitely had a problem with me) and it began to seem pointless to me to try and have conversations, so I left, too. But a good lesson in why it’s hard to have groups of people ideologically oppositional sit down to reasoned conversation.

          The still, uncommented upon by my friend, was just used to silently suggest that lots of stuff is unexpected.

          We have given birth to the next generation of puritans (or Victorians, whatever), apparently. May their reign be brief.

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        • Mark:

          Glad I ain’t practicing in this environment.

          It’s just a cost of no more mean tweets.

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        • Well, that’s more than “no more mean tweets”. The present environment is a whole cultural phenomenon, anchored to social media and the left’s capture of academia and the foundations and the non-profits and the media and entertainment and . . .

          Had Trump won all the rest of this stuff would still be going on. Some of his admin’s initiatives might have helped reduce some of it in the future, at some point, but this new Victorianism would have still been moving full speed ahead. The creation of and eventual (fingers crossed) destruction of cancel culture and hyper-sensitivity and triggering and the general thrust to collectivism transcends Trump.

          And it will transcend whatever excuse the left and the neocons give for hating on the next person who stands against CRT and big tech censorship and all the rest of it.

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        • KW:

          The present environment is a whole cultural phenomenon, anchored to social media and the left’s capture of academia and the foundations and the non-profits and the media and entertainment and . . .

          …and first and foremost government policy, specifically government policy promoted and championed by the left/Democrats. Again, I encourage you to read the articles I linked to the other day. They were quite insightful about how government policy has led to the present environment.

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        • I will–but to be clear, I’m not at all disputing that. Although I think it tends to be symbiotic–part of creating government policy involves elements of institutional and cultural “capture”–think tanks and foundations authoring white papers that are used to craft policy, messaging comes through the media but also entertainment, softening up the voters or providing cover so policy can be hidden or spun . . . It’s kind of war on all front, IMO.

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        • You overlook the assault on the common law from the other side, as well. Texas just invested persons with no claim of damage to themselves as civil litigant plaintiffs with standing to sue anyone they suspect might be connected with an abortion. Standing is an old common law concept that requires the plaintiff to show some harm to himself arising from the defendant’s action. Blow up standing by legislation and the courts eventually will fail completely from the weight of through the looking glass litigation.

          My point is fuggedaboutit. Kevin is right. Puritans are everywhere and they have no sensohumero.

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        • This is all because despite various times where it could have been done, the legislative branch has assiduously avoided passing a specific law legalizing abortion and protecting abortion rights.

          I am not intimately familiar with the Texas law but it does not sound good. Clearly meant to discourage anyone from performing abortions or renting to someone who does or even providing services. While establishing what I find to be an unappealing precedent.

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        • KW:

          This is all because despite various times where it could have been done, the legislative branch has assiduously avoided passing a specific law legalizing abortion and protecting abortion rights.

          A couple of points:

          First, legislatures don’t pass laws legalizing something. Everything is legal unless and until a law is passed making it illegal.

          Second, by legislative branch I assume you mean Congress. But under the Constitution abortion regulation falls under the power of states, not the federal government. Even if Congress attempted to establish a national regime for regulation of abortion, there is nothing it could do to stop individual states from passing their own, more restrictive, regulations. The only part of the federal government that can stop states from passing their own restrictions on abortion is the Supreme Court, by declaring that any such state laws are unconstitutional. That is precisely why supporters of legal abortion have used SCOTUS to achieve their political ends. It is the only way in which a national policy of legalized abortion could have been achieved within our federal system.

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        • First, legislatures don’t pass laws legalizing something. Everything is legal unless and until a law is passed making it illegal.

          Apologies, poorly said on my part. But I would still think the congress could pass a specific law (arguing that it constitutes or involves interstate commerce in some way, maybe) setting forth a federal framework for the legality of abortion. Which states could contest or append but put as a positive as a defense of (or establishment of) certain rights, I think that would provide a basis in actual law rather than a basis in penumbras and emanations.

          But under the Constitution abortion regulation falls under the power of states, not the federal government. Even if Congress attempted to establish a national regime for regulation of abortion, there is nothing it could do to stop individual states from passing their own, more restrictive, regulations.

          But if the law guaranteed certain levels of access, such as with the ADA, or sought to characterize abortion access as a safety issue, I would think they could indeed set parameters as to how restrictive the states could get–which, of course, the states could challenge in court. But (and it may be my ignorance), I don’t see why access to abortion could not be federally guaranteed by legislation, just as equal access is, just as handicapped access to public buildings can be mandated (I understand these are apples to oranges comparisons, I’m just saying if the government can prevent states from establishing building codes that don’t ensure or even discourage handicapped access, there would seem to be legal precedent to prevent that).

          In any case, I still don’t think that would be as hotly debated or problematic as having Roe find the right to abortion by fiat.

          But of course, I may be mistaken. But my sense is that it would be legally possible (isn’t the legalization of abortion codified nationally in the UK? Or am I mistaken about that) and that Roe and SCOTUS have been used as the path to legalized abortion in the US because there was never the will, nor the votes, to craft or pass some kind of “Women’s Healthcare and Equal Access Act” that would codify “access to abortion” as a “right” or something with some kind of legally (federally) protected status.

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        • KW:

          But I would still think the congress could pass a specific law (arguing that it constitutes or involves interstate commerce in some way, maybe) setting forth a federal framework for the legality of abortion.

          It did. It passed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2003. Outside of that, abortion is perfectly legal in the US as a matter of federal law. As a matter of state law, it is more tightly regulated, although SCOTUS has made it significantly less so than it otherwise would be in many states.

          I’m just saying if the government can prevent states from establishing building codes that don’t ensure or even discourage handicapped access…

          That is not what the federal government does. Federal building codes are enforceable against private actors, not states. They do not “prevent” states from doing anything. They simply require private actors to do things that state laws may not require of them. This is not analogous to the type of federal action you are suggesting re abortion, ie somehow making it illegal for a state to pass a certain kind of law. That is not something the federal government can do, unless it is doing so in order to enforce a Constitutional prohibition against the states. Which, again, is why SCOTUS ultimately has to be involved.

          isn’t the legalization of abortion codified nationally in the UK?

          It is, but the UK is neither a federal nor a constitutional system.

          …and that Roe and SCOTUS have been used as the path to legalized abortion in the US because there was never the will, nor the votes, to craft or pass some kind of “Women’s Healthcare and Equal Access Act” that would codify “access to abortion” as a “right” or something with some kind of legally (federally) protected status.

          No, I don’t think that is right. SCOTUS has been used as the path to legalized abortion because all regulation of abortion that has ever existed in the US has always been at the state level (at least prior to Roe), and the only way to invalidate such laws is through a SCOTUS declaration that such laws are unconstitutional.

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        • That is not what the federal government does. Federal building codes are enforceable against private actors, not states. They do not “prevent” states from doing anything.

          So to be clear, if a state wanted to pass a law saying the businesses within could just ignore the ADA or (even better!) eviction moratoriums issued by the CDC, could they do that? That said, nothing comes to mind off the top of my head but I feel like federal has imposed limitations either on private actors (that the states could not contradict) or defined protected classes that the state could not say “they aren’t protected here”. Perhaps a topic I do not know as much about as I should.

          So what you’re saying then is that there is no legislative remedy for federally “legalizing” abortion? Outside of perhaps enshrining abortion as a right via constitutional amendment?

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        • KW:

          So to be clear, if a state wanted to pass a law saying the businesses within could just ignore the ADA or (even better!) eviction moratoriums issued by the CDC, could they do that?

          It could, I suppose, but it couldn’t stop the Federal government from enforcing its own law, so it wouldn’t have any effect. If someone violates that ADA, they will get sued in a federal court, and state law is irrelevant to the action. (Also, again, laws do not make things legal. They make things illegal.).

          So what you’re saying then is that there is no legislative remedy for federally “legalizing” abortion? Outside of perhaps enshrining abortion as a right via constitutional amendment?

          Correct. If the federal government wants to establish a national abortion policy, it can do so legitimately only by amending the Constitution, in the same way it did in order to establish a national policy on the sale of alcohol. The alternative, which is what has happened, is to do so illegitimately via the courts by placing judges on SCOTUS that are willing to pretend the Constitution says something it plainly does not say.

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        • Mark:

          You overlook the assault on the common law from the other side,

          I wasn’t talking about an “assault on the common law”. I took you to be lamenting the current cultural atmosphere in which a facetious Nazi salute or a reference to a Monty Python sketch can jeopardize one’s career. (What does the story in The Chair have to do with an assault on common law?)

          My point is fuggedaboutit. Kevin is right. Puritans are everywhere and they have no sensohumero.

          I know you automatically default to the “a pox on both their houses” approach, and just assume that objectionable behavior is a function of human nature and therefore manifests itself equally across the political spectrum. But this assumption flies in the face of pretty demonstrable correlations between the embrace of certain ideologies and certain kinds of behaviors, and the failure to recognize the correlation makes it much harder to address. The treacherous professional waters in which you are lucky enough to no longer have to swim is not the result of some non-ideological, always existing puritanical lack of a sense of humor. It is purely the result of ideology, an ideology that has been embraced by the Dems in general and the Biden administration in particular.

          Empowering this ideology even more than it already has been empowered was an easily predictable consequence of the election of Biden. NeverTrumpers chose this nefarious nonsense over Trump’s boorishness. If they think it was worth it, that’s fine, everyone makes their own trade-offs. But I think they should own, not deny, the trade-off they made.

          As for the new topic you raise…

          Texas just invested persons with no claim of damage to themselves as civil litigant plaintiffs with standing to sue anyone they suspect might be connected with an abortion.

          I am aware. And to whatever extent this represents an assault on the common law, it is the direct consequence of SCOTUS’s near 50-year assault on the Constitution and the sovereignty of the states via its own abortion jurisprudence. It takes a lot of chutzpah for supporters of Roe to complain about an assault on the law.

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        • I know you automatically default to the “a pox on both their houses” approach, and just assume that objectionable behavior is a function of human nature and therefore manifests itself equally across the political spectrum.

          I am sort of in this camp, too. Although my nuance is specifically that bad-to-awful things don’t automatically know a party or even ideology (although there may be more affinity on one side or another, I think even that affinity can change–progressives of the 18th century were the very lights of the Western enlightenment, at least some of them). But at different times and places, you have different levels of puritanism, or censoriousness, or humorlessness, or disinterest or actual hostility to individual rights–generally affiliated more strongly with one side or the other, and typically with the side that holds the most cultural and institutional power. And right now in America, and more than ever, that is the left.

          The problem frequently with any ideological side is they are okay with limiting individual rights and liberty–they can believe in the “benevolent dictator” concept–when they sense their side is in charge. Because they are affiliated but aren’t operating on principles other than power, and that’s a kind of corruption that can happen on any side.

          That said, the left–especially the elite let, the academic left–has a very long history of being hostile to individual rights for those not enlightened like themselves. But we’ve also had times when the ostensible left has been very pro individual rights, civil liberties, integration, assimilation, equal access and the right was . . . you know, not so much. A lot of that stuff was wrapped up with policy I consider poisonous, like most of The Great Society or The New Deal–because the left has pretty much always been in favor of centralization and the belief they can micromanage both the economy and society, although often the political right buys into that argument as well.

          At present, however, it seems clear the left generally and in America in particular is: pro-censorship, anti-self-determination, pro-bigger-government-than-ever, anti-dissent, pro-Balkanization, pro-equity (which is anti-equality), pro-segregation, increasing pro-racism (under the Orwellian moniker of anti-racism), and pro-fascist by any honest definition of that word.

          I am of the opinion that if the “right” were to capture the institutions and the culture the way the left has now, there is a strong possibility they would begin to reflect those sensibilities (because now the correct people were in charge). Historically, that wouldn’t be that unusual. But I see the risk of that happening to be, at present, very slight.

          Would also know that I believe a non-trivial people have an ideology that is about power, control, enforcing conformity, etc. If the right were culturally and institutionally in power, they would become “of the right”. If the left were culturally and institutionally in power, then they would become “of the left”. A lot of ideologues are, IMO, less principled than they appear, and other incentives are at work.

          Thinking of NeverTrump here presently. Jen Rubin went from a “right-of-squishy” pundit to basically a Stalinist in the space of a few years. Could point to Bill Kristol or any number of NeverTrumpers–whomst I think follow the amassing of power of cultural relevance much more closely than conservative or liberal principles.

          So . . . a lot of the “pox on both their houses” could be because both houses often have a lot of people at the top that are neither principled conservatives nor progressives, but those wanting power and position and thus working by a set of incentives only tangenetially related to their ostensible political affiliation.

          IMO.

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        • But this assumption flies in the face of pretty demonstrable correlations between the embrace of certain ideologies and certain kinds of behaviors, and the failure to recognize the correlation makes it much harder to address.

          There are clear correlations but I think ignoring the number of people–non-trivial, especially at the top of institutions and dominant in culture–are just about power and control. So they will present as left or right and maybe even feel an affinity for the dogma . . . but the affinity follows the cultural and institutional power rather than a deep-seated belief in principles.

          I would agree the left is far more tolerant (and actively embraces) the wielding of power and the belief that they know better than the whole the human population . . . but I’m a fan of lefties (like Matt Taibbi) who rarely sound like lefties because they are always arguing for freedom of the press, freedom of expression, civil liberties, and all the other stuff that I actually like that liberals were all for 40 years ago.

          It takes a lot of chutzpah for supporters of Roe to complain about an assault on the law.

          I don’t support Roe or the Texas law–but it’s a chain of “unintended” consequences, one leading logically to the other.

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      • Also, I was struck when we first started ATiM by Shrink especially. He showed up and just detonated . . . or did not. I decided to go back in the archives and review Shrink’s arrival, and . . . it’s very strange. Everybody was down with the stated goal to be a constructive dialog, generally, and I would have to go through more posts and comments that I thought to get to the critical moment so I’m abandoning that idea for now.

        But we had a ton of people, everybody was talking reasonably . . . sigh. That was nice.

        Eventually, though, I guess people take something “the wrong way”, and then it becomes a debate over that . . . and then it’s nothing but tears!

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        • I’m pretty sure it was when that dude who was from Florida, can’t remember his nickname, but he would tell everybody all the time that he was in Vietnam. Anyway, he commented that something like 25%, at a minimum, of the Republican party were inveterate racists. It really pissed me off and I went off on him. He may or may not have meant to accuse us here of being racist but I perceived it as such and really resented it. I take full responsibility for blowing things up. Also, part of the dialogue involved some of the left of center people saying that all people are racist is some way and me constantly asking, badgering really, in what way they were racist.

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        • QB and probably Scott’s relentlessness were probably factors as well. That being said, I miss QB as much as any of the lefties that left us.

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        • To be fair to Shrink, he was only here for a couple weeks, and I don’t think his departure had any significant impact on ATiM. If I had to point to a single episode that marked the beginning of the end of a critical mass of left-wing contributors, it would be the epic abortion thread in which some of us were accused of endorsing “state-mandated rape”. It took a while after that, but I think a lot of goodwill was destroyed by that discussion, and things progressed (no pun intended!) from there.

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        • I just found Shrink’s sudden reversal bizarre, as I recall. I remember the abortion thread. Again, it comes to verbotten subjects. You can’t have your opinion on X because of reason Y, in my lexicon, and if you don’t accept that the discussion is over.

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      • Ultimately, the value of being in charge of the institutions is a function of public trust in those institutions.

        And that will be the left’s Achilles Heel. They are systematically destroying public trust in academia, media, the judicial system and the government for half the population via their ham-handed hypocrisy.

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        • Brent:

          And that will be the left’s Achilles Heel.

          I hope that is true. But the destruction of public trust in those institutions comes with its own set of not insignificant problems.

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        • Agreed. While trust in institutions can be rebuilt, I don’t see that happening without an actual draining of the swamp that produces the barnacles that now populate those institutions, especially at the tops of them, and I don’t know how that kind of recapture of those institutions can ever happen.

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        • Things can always get worse.

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        • The thought of the day – every day.

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        • jnc:

          Things can always get worse.

          As NeverTrumpers should surely understand now!

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