Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue –
1. Mortgages. Stupid idea of the week award goes once again to the Harris – Xiden regime, which has come up with an idea to punish prospective mortgage borrowers with good credit and use those proceeds to subsidize high risk borrowers, all in the name of equity, of course. The change comes courtesy of a new rule published by the Federal Housing Finance Agency that goes into effect today. Basically, those with credit scores over 680 will pay more per month on their mortgages, about $40/month on a $400,000 mortgage, over $14,000 over the length of the mortgage. Applicants putting 15 – 20% down will be hammered with higher interest rates for their loans and a 1% surcharge on their loans, increasing the old fee of 0.25% to a whopping 0.75%. This free money from those with good credit will be used to subsidize buyers with credit scores below 679. Buyers with poor credit will not only get to pay less down, 5% or less, and get a fee discount on that payment of 1.75%, a 50% decrease from the previous fee rate for that bracket. Over the life of a mortgage, that translates into a 0.4 – 0.5% discount. The new rules apply to all Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, along with all new purchase loans, limited cash out refinances, and cash out refinance loans. The new rules also include a new charge for buyers with debt-to-income ratios above 40%. Last year, the FHFA eliminated upfront fees for first-time buyers at or below 100% of their area’s median income. 15 years ago, mucking around with mortgage rules created a market in poorly backed mortgages given to people who could not afford them. Trading in that market created the housing bubble and was the last straw triggering the 2008 financial crash. The Smart Guys are back at it again with this change. Note the transfer of resources from one group of Americans to another without the benefit of actual legislation. This is a terrible idea for many reasons. First and worst, because the housing market is already struggling due to irrational increases in the Fed’s interest rates to fight diminishing inflation. We are well past the peak of inflation. Continuing tightening by the Fed will serve only to crash all markets, housing, stock and bond. Second, the rule makes responsible people pay for irresponsible people. Finally, like the Housing Bubble of the second half of the 2000s, it encourages people to buy houses they can’t afford.
2. Blinken. It is always instructive to find out why the various idiots working for this administration got their jobs. DHS Secretary Mayorkas appeared to get his job with the promise to blow up the border, allowing millions to enter the US over the last two years. Secretary of State Blinken, who has presided over the limpest foreign policy since the O’Bama years was not so obvious, that it, until last week when testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee fingered Blinken as the Biden campaign official who put together the infamous letter signed by 51 intel officials calling the Hunter Biden laptop story Russian disinformation. Not only did Blinken put the letter and its signatories together, but he must have worked closely with the FBI and intel community to lay the groundwork for social media companies to get on the Russian disinformation bandwagon, actively censoring the laptop story when it broke. His contacts also prepared the moderator for second presidential debate Oct 22, 2020, for the topic to come up. The moderator chimed in with the letter, describing it clean as driven snow. This was a dirty trick of thermonuclear proportions, not unlike the Hillary campaign’s Russian Dossier dirty trick of 2015. As an aside, have we finally gotten to the point where democrats are singularly unable to win any national race without election fraud or world class dirty tricks? The testimony came courtesy of former acting CIA Director Mike Morrell who appears to be angling for a job in the next Republican administration. Why else would he be telling the truth now? With this revelation, I slot Blinken as the second target for impeachment and removal from office not far behind DHS Secretary Mayorkas.
3. CBC. One of the fun follows today is anything connected with Elon Musk, who is doing his level best to clean up Twitter, make a profit, and at some small level, starting to tell the truth with about a sixth of the employees he had when he purchased the company. One of his efforts is to label government funded media outlets as such. This triggered significant pushback from government funded / controlled media outlets in the west, including Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) here in the US, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Canada, and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Great Britain. What a surprise (/sarc). Since this started, hilarity ensued, with screams of outrage, demands to rescind the labeling, and promises to quit using Twitter. Having made his point, Musk relented and started removing or modifying the newly assigned labels. The funniest reaction came out of the CBC which published a chart of its funding sources that conveniently hid $1 billion of its revenue from Canada. PowerLine a couple weeks ago published both the CBC original and accurate graphs. If the CBC is so proud of their funding stream, why hide it? Why, indeed.
4. Climate. The regulatory onslaught on the US economy by this regime continued apace last week, with a story out of the EPA and the SEC. Before those, the political right needs to be careful in its dalliance with RFK, Jr as a rational democrat presidential candidate. While he sounds good on COVID and the awful government response to it including the vax, he is not all that sensible on most other things, especially climate, where he is the functional equivalent of a lunatic, up to and including calling for jailing of so-called climate deniers. Be careful. Be very careful supporting this guy.
- The EPA is back at it again with new power plant emissions standards after their previous attempt was slapped down by the SCOTUS. The last attempt used mercury emissions as their excuse to impose an unobtainable level of emissions, particularly aimed at coal-fired generation. Now that natural gas is replacing coal, natural gas becomes the new target. The goal is complete decarbonizing of the generation sector in 12 years. While final details are still in flux, it appears to rely heavily on mandates to use carbon capture technology, which as usual is neither economical nor technically feasible today. Note that the SCOTUS slapped down previous emissions standards for generation by a 6-3 majority authored by Chief Justice Roberts.
- In parallel, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is pushing investment rules that will bureaucratically impose Net Zero Emissions policy. The economic restructuring relies on executive orders and agency rulemaking in defiance of any guidance from congress. The more Biden judicial appointees that end up infesting the federal judiciary, the more difficult it will be for anyone else to fight this tyranny. The new SEC rules require corporations to disclose a newly defined dumptruck full of climate related information describing CO2 emissions. Over 40% of all financial executives report they are not ready to implement the new rules. Given the continuing lawfare conducted by climatistas attempting to impose their goals via judicial fiat, the new reporting requirements are little more than an attempt to provide fodder for future lawfare aimed at corporations who have not gone belly up to the climatista demands. Reporting requirements include greenhouse gas emissions made by the company directly, indirectly and finally, all the greenhouse gas emissions not associated with the company itself, rather emissions from all its suppliers, their suppliers, and contractors, companies that are even less able to track this stuff. Primary justification for the new rule is a Biden Executive Order signed Jan 27, 2021, a week after entering office.
5. Trans. It should be no surprise that the so-called scientific foundation for the ongoing trans hysteria is at best, junk science, at worst, intentional fraud perpetrated on the public. An analysis of one of the most influential studies supporting health treatment of transgender individuals forced its authors to retract its primary conclusions first published in 2019. The original conclusion stated that there was improvement in mental health outcomes after surgical treatment and hormone treatments. The revised conclusions forced by the review went on to state that at best, there was no improvement at all. There is plenty of data out there that concluded that such care results in vastly worse outcomes, with anxiety, depression and suicide at 19 x the rate of the general population. One of the reasons for the wrong conclusions was that the population being tracked was biased from the beginning. Vast numbers of people receiving treatment simply dropped out of the data pool afterwards. Nobody knows (or cares) why. It is highly improbable that people who require lifelong medical care after transitioning (one of the real reasons for support of this by the health care community) would simply disappear. It is far more likely that these dropouts have detransitioned or met a worse, unhappy end. Still, even with the biased sample used in the original paper, analysis shows no positive benefit to providing puberty blockers, hormones or surgery to gender dysphoria patients. The real problem is that the truly horrific outcomes are time delayed, happening years after transitioning, and by the time they happen, the circus has moved on to another town, playing to another group of marks, having pocketed the ticket money from the town they just left.
6. Gerrymander. Our worst governing problem here in Alaska is a fully politicized, fully unaccountable Alaska Supreme Court. A couple weeks ago, they finally got around to issuing a 144-page opinion explaining last year’s ruling on redistricting. In it, they declared that the newly drawn boundaries were politically gerrymandered by the Alaska Redistricting Board in favor of a particular political party (Republicans, who held the majority on the Board). They emphasized that such partisan gerrymandering goes against the equal protection clause of the Alaska constitution. In it, the Alaska Supremes effectively installed itself as the new redistricting board, now that it can define whatever it wants to define as gerrymandering. During its review, it consistently sided with partisan democrat challenges to redistricting maps. While Republicans here in Alaska do pretty well, outnumbering democrats 141,000 – 74,000, and having just reelected a Republican governor with 51% of the vote (the rest was split between a democrat and a democrat – friendly indy), the court’s new maps led to a 21 – 16 Republican majority in the House and a 11 – 9 Republican majority in the Senate, two of whom flipped to caucus with democrats giving them the majority. Two of the five justices deciding this were retired due to age but allowed to serve anyway. There is an age restriction in the state constitution, but no matter to this court. The court gave the Redistricting Board 90 days to appear in court to defend its rejected map. Otherwise, the court will declare its own gerrymandered map as the law of the land. I predict this ends up in federal court and if properly litigated, will get the Alaska Supremes slapped nicely down. The problem is the phrase properly litigated, which hasn’t happened a lot up here in recent years. Somewhere, sometime, we are going to have to do something serious about the Alaska Supreme Court.
7. Lander. Japan’s attempt to make the first commercial moon landing ended in failure last week as iSpace’s Hakuto-R Mission 1 (M1) lander lost communications during its automated landing attempt on the lunar surface. The lander came within 90 m of the surface before losing contact. The lander was carrying a rover built by a company in Dubai. Had the landing been successful, it would have been the first private company to land on the moon, and the rover the first Arab piece of equipment on the moon. Space continues to be hard. But commercial interest and success will continue to grow as long as governments stay out of the way. Congratulations to the team. Better luck and better engineering next time. And there will be a next time.
More later –