Mortgage Rates Going Up

Mike Murphy was just on Meet the Press talking about the status of the stimulus and the economy. He said two “kitchen table” numbers are going the wrong direction: the unemployment rate and mortgage rates.

Well, I’ll give him the unemployment rate with the caveat that we’ve not yet reached the 14% that was predicted in the absence of a stimulus. But mortgage rates are not as simple. When mortgage rates go down, it is an indication of the weakness of the market: supply and demand, less people buying houses means lower prices for the mortgage.

Thus while mortgage rate increases do put a pinch on the recovery of the housing market – and with it, the breath of relief for middle class families watching their neighborhoods turn into ghost towns – they are the natural reflection of positive signs in that market. And by the way, more interest income means maybe we tax payers can start getting some of that TARP money back.


Newt Gingrich’s All-in Fear Mongering

This is absolutely amazing. Newt Gingrich is being taken seriously on the issue of national security on Meet the Press today. I’ll have to update this post when the video becomes available, but I suspect Crooks and Liars will doubtless already have something up before then.

Newt actually said on the air that “you should be afraid.” Well, that’s a wonderfully nuanced policy position. Exactly the kind of thing you want out of a loyal opposition party.

But most amusing of all is that, in two sentences, Newt managed to both insist that President Obama is practically identical to the Bush Administration on most matters associated with national defense, and then when asked by Dick David Gregory if the nation is less safe with President Obama, he answered, “Yes.” Seemingly devoid of any sense of irony, too.

Another note on the meme building up on Military Commissions: we’ve used military commissions since we’ve had a military, starting with George Washington. And it was George Washington who set the precedent against torture in US military tradition. Just because they’re called the same thing that they were under the Bush Administration doesn’t make them wrong: people arrested on the field of battle, as most of those in Guantanamo were picked up literally on a field of battle in Afghanistan, should be tried in military courts. That’s the right way to do it, and there’s no reason to think that military courts are unjust, unless we’re really going to rethink our relationship with our military.

The problem with the Bush-era military tribunals was the mechanics of those tribunals which were pretty clearly contrary to the Constitution and the history of military justice in this country for two centuries. That’s rather significant in the discussion, not that you’re going to hear it much.