News Updates

Breaking Points: 9/20/22 FULL UNCUT SHOW housing market trends, Puerto Rico hurricane, Biden 2024, 2022 campaigns, civil war rhetoric, Pentagon psyops, lab leak, & midterm forecasting!

Krystal and Saagar discuss housing market trends, Puerto Rico hurricane, Biden 2024, 2022 campaigns, civil war rhetoric, Pentagon psyops, lab leak, & midterm forecasting! Merch:

Chicago Tickets:…

J. Miles Coleman:…

Timestamps: Economy: 0:0026:50 Puerto Rico: 26:5137:53 Biden: 37:5448:26 2022: 48:2758:53 Civil War: 58:541:07:51 Krystal: 1:07:521:16:11 Saagar: 1:16:121:24:54 J. Miles Coleman: 1:24:551:40:04

9/20 NEWSLETTER: Economic Trends, Puerto Rico, Biden 2024, Pentagon Psyops, Lab Leak, & More!
Welcome to the September 20th, 2022 Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar newsletter. Look out for content from the Atlanta live show being sent to you on Wednesday. Please send any comments about the live show to so we can make the next one even better.
On that note, Chicago live show tickets are now available to the general public. If you did not purchase tickets during the presale period, here is a link to get yours: Other live show dates will be announced soon so stay tuned! If you are a lifetime member, we will refund your ticket purchases through Supercast if you email the receipt.
There are multiple economic trends to highlight at the top of the show. The first is in the housing market, where monetary tightening has pushed mortgage rates to record highs. On average, the thirty year fixed mortgage rate is at its highest level since 2008 and these numbers are greatly affecting home buying demand. Prices for homes are beginning to drop in regional housing markets across America as the market starts to reflect less demand. Sellers have begun to notice and have opted to wait out the market downtown shown by the reduction in listings online. This drop in the housing market has yet to affect the rest of the American economy as it did during the 2008 financial crisis. Lower demand for home buying creates lower demand for home appliances and other retail products. Additionally, A decrease in the demand for homes will lead to more prospective buyers opting to rent, giving landlords the ability to further raise rent in response to higher demand. This is a major factor as to why rent inflation in August was red hot and is showing no signs of slowing down. Year to year, monthly rent prices have gone up 12.3% compared to 8.3% across the board last month. The rent index jumped 0.7% from July to August fueling the historic rise in shelter prices. As tenants sign leases at the rent levels we are seeing now, inflated rent prices will become entrenched in the economy for the near future. The level of demand for housing has vastly outpaced the supply of new units because of broader supply chain issues, labor shortages, and construction delays. A combination of temporary covid discounts and remote work initially created a surge in demand during the pandemic. However, economic factors such as push back from renters and supply increases could scale back the increase in rent prices. Government data is lagging on the rent statistics because it only takes into account existing rentals instead of factoring in the prices of new leases. As inflation reporting catches up to the market, rent inflation could show signs of slowing down and greatly influence future decisions by the Federal Reserve.
The possibility of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes generating a recession has been a major theme of this show. But the trend is not solely confined to the United States, as a new World Bank paper demonstrates the chances of a global recession due to central banks increasing rates across the globe. It comes at the same time as growing reports of an economic crisis in China primarily due to a historic crash in property values. President Xi Jinping’s covid zero lockdown policy and an extreme heatwave have added to the downward trajectory of China’s economy. The timing comes right before Xi is set to be sworn in for a third term as president, effectively entrenching his power as China’s ruler for the rest of his life.
The island of Puerto Rico is facing another devastating hurricane. Its name is Hurricane Fiona and it is wreaking havoc by wiping out power across the island and doing untold damage to urban areas. Intense rain is leading to overflow and flooding from rivers while landslides destroy billions worth of infrastructure. Puerto Rico’s electrical grid has not recovered since Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017 and did similar amounts of damage. Blackouts have been common in Puerto Rico ever since, despite $5 billion in spending by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A combination of red tape and private sector foot dragging have hindered the long term effort to rebuild the country’s grid. Many of the projects announced by Puerto Rico’s private power management authority have hardly gotten underway and congressional funds allocated to the projects have been left untouched. Decades of underinvestment left the grid extremely vulnerable before Hurricane Maria and it has been unreliable ever since. Once again, The New York Times’ coverage of the storm has not captured the full story, instead placing blame entirely on the Trump administration for Puerto Rico’s problems.
BIDEN 2024
When asked about whether he will run for president again in 2024, Joe Biden did not offer a definitive response. Speculation about whether Biden would run for office again has been a consistent theme of his term, especially when his approval rating cratered a few months ago. Democrats had been very dissatisfied with his administration before a string of legislative victories and campaign momentum restored Democrats faith in him. This has not tampered down on the re-election whispers because worries about Biden’s age have been persistent. He told 60 minutes it is his intention to run again but that a firm decision remains to be seen. Biden would be the strongest Democratic candidate against Donald Trump and generally polls higher than various prospects who could succeed him. If not Biden, Gavin Newsom has emerged as a leading Democratic option if Biden does not run again and he will reportedly launch a presidential campaign if Biden steps aside. He has elevated his national profile by passing a series of major pieces of legislation and feuding with Florida GOP Gov. DeSantis. There are many problems plaguing Newsom’s state that could hobble his ambitions if the opportunity for him to run for president arises.
Vice President Kamala Harris has ramped up her national schedule to ramp up younger voters and minority voters ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. She will be in Wisconsin and South Carolina to engage with key constituencies on important issues. Her role is to talk with supporters about issues such as climate change, student debt, and abortion. Most notably, Harris will not appear with top Democratic candidates running in key midterm races. Her approval remains underwater with only 36% favorability rating among voters. Democrats in swing states have been conflicted about campaigning with Biden and Harris because of their low poll numbers. Candidates have gone out of their way to distance themselves from the administration and focus on advantageous issues. Another strategy the party has deployed has been boosting more extreme right wing candidates in GOP primaries. Six out of 13 candidates they boosted were successful in their primaries and now their general election races look unwinnable for Republicans.
A strange yet growing trend of civil war rhetoric has become commonplace on cable TV and online publications. Hardline Democrats and Republicans, particularly those with high news consumption, perceive their political opponents as enemies to be defeated at all costs. Democrats see Republicans as being anti-democratic fascists obsessed with strongmen leaders and Christian dogmatism intent on stripping away people’s fundamental rights. Republicans see Democrats as authoritarians obsessed with climate and identity zealotry and an ideological commitment to destroying America via corporate power, government overreach, and cultural hegemony. In an interview, CBS reporter Major Garrett warned that America is 85% of the way to a civil war, without giving any formula for determining his figure. His provocative claim and subsequent warnings on cable TV are part of his campaign to sell a book. It exemplifies the real and growing cottage industry of academics and pundits on both sides warning about civil war as the next step in America’s political polarization. Never considered are the opinions of those not invested in politics or the feasibility of a grueling war in a nation where military recruitment has hit all time lows.
In her monologue, Krystal dissects the psyops used by the United States government to little scrutiny compared to other nations. To begin with, we have been subjected to endless accounts of how Russian bots are destroying America. Reporters blame troll farms for Bernie, Trump, backlash to black lives matter, and everything else happening the media did not like. Americans were helpless puppets dancing to Putin’s drum and any left or right critics were deemed traitors. A new addition to the genre comes from the New York Times’ examination of how Women’s March activists became divided since feminists came together in 2017 to oppose Trump. Infighting was centered around online attacks of progressive activist Linda Sarsour being a terrorist, which were picked up by right wing activists. The general conceit of the article is attacks of this nature are not normal in American politics so they must be coming from a shadowy foreign adversary. Another problem is that because Russian trolls did stuff, it’s safe to assume an outsized impact. It relies on a slight of hand and dishonesty on the timeline of Russian bot activity.  Instead of inquiring about national division, The New York Times creates a convenient excuse for what is going on.
Now to the US government, which just got caught doing the same activity online as Russia. Bots, misinformation, and propaganda by the military are now being audited because of how widespread and poorly run the effort has been. The Pentagon is auditing its activity online and not the drone strikes or coups it has carried out. The review was based on a report from Stanford’s Internet Observatory that documented a massive network of accounts removed from Facebook and Twitter connected to the US government. This network is the most extensive case of western influence operations online to date according to researchers. Social media giants called out the US government for poorly run psyops on their platforms so bad that they got caught. The key concern of the government’s review is the ineffectiveness of the operations, not the ethics of a mass psyop. Pentagon bots have not been great posters to date and the vast majority of their posts only received a handful of likes. When the US conducts an online psyop, the media downplays the results and when Russians do it, the media focuses on the biggest social media posts. Just like the news, it’s hard to go through online propaganda to figure out the truth.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar look at how the Pentagon is bad at psyops and the laws preventing US government officials from running psyops on Americans. Propaganda targeting foreigners online can definitely have a blowback here and influence people. Contrasting the media coverage of this, they make Russian psyops into a major story that can be blamed for almost everything. The women’s march was an organic movement in opposition to Trump that turned out not to stand for much. It’s an example of progressive organizations turning inward and focusing on grievance politics instead of what their stated purpose is. Russian bots are not doing this to the entire landscape of progressive groups falling apart.
In his monologue, Saagar gives an update on the lab leak theory of coronavirus origin. It remains a stunning cover up by the powers that be, and now a damning timeline of it has been constructed. On January 27th, 2020 Fauci was reminded his organization had funded research in the Wuhan lab. Two days later a researcher discovered gain of function techniques with coronaviruses were being used in the lab. Two other researchers told Fauci the virus characteristics were inconsistent with natural origin. In the next few days, the coverup started among the scientists involved after another virologist circulated an analysis of the virus showing it most likely came from the lab. Fauci and a team of scientists went on to publish a paper in Nature declaring that covid did not come from a lab. The paper has since been redacted and called into question because evidence pointing to a lab leak was selective redacted, but its objective of setting Fauci’s policy was complete. Tech companies, the media, China, and the WHO followed suit and suppressed lab leak at every turn. The aforementioned researcher who first talked to Fauci flipped his position because he thought it was his responsibility to suppress lab leak. The paper accepted by nature served as a messaging document right at the beginning of lockdowns and set the tone for the next year of discourse. Over the next year, information emerged about Peter Daszak’s coordinated campaign against lab leak and how Harvard experts were paid off by a Chinese company to change their tune. Fauci had been talking to Harvard’s experts to obtain information requested by the Chinese government. Both parties had much to gain from the lab leak being covered up because one could avoid blame for the pandemic and the other would avoid scrutiny of the policy decision to fund gain of function research in the lab. It is a story about how a well connected media hero can get away with almost anything, especially if you control funding for an entire field of research. Top medical journal Lancet is finally acknowledging the plausibility of the lab leak because of terrible safety practices at the Wuhan lab. Even though China has destroyed the necessary evidence, we have full proof the scientific community knowingly worked with the media to suppress lab leak.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar go over the smears of lab leak theory and the confusion between a bioweapon and an accidental leak. It’s one more instance of the narrative suitable for the public instead of the truth. China intentionally engineering a virus is much different from a research mistake in the lab and people should have been trusted to make the connection. Rather than following the science, the medical establishment tried to manage and shape public opinion leading to failures throughout the covid era.
Krystal and Saagar bring elections analyst J. Miles Coleman back to the show to discuss how Democrats should feel about the midterms. Data has greatly improved for Democrats in the past few months but there are definitely signs the momentum has been exaggerated. Turnout data in primaries is one metric the GOP has going for it that has been overlooked by the obsession with polls. Such polls could be undercounting Republican support for the same reasons they missed the elections in 2020 and 2016. Even in 2018, mistakes in senate polling were present in similar ways to the methods used this time around. Democrats have pointed to over performance in special elections and Biden’s improving polling numbers while the big picture looks more like a strong year for Republicans. Metrics of primary vote turnout have performed well in predicting past elections such as 2006 and 2010. It shows that this cycle is a Republican leaning year less than 2010 or 2014, which Democrats should take considering where they were. In close races, high turnout can swing races like the Glenn Youngkin election in Virginia. Nothing suggests this year will be low turnout in the way the Republican waves were under Obama. Abortion will greatly help Democrats with their turnout as shown by primary voter turnout going up after Roe was overturned. Higher Democratic enthusiasm in key races because of abortion could help them in the general election. Polling misses have underestimated candidates going back to the Obama years in the industrial midwest. When polls might be somewhat inaccurate, other factors like spending in states and candidate quality can help predict election outcomes. Trump being off the ballot could enable polls to revert back to the mean or his two elections could mark turning points in the polling industry.
Thank you for reading the 9/20 Breaking Points newsletter. The next full show will be on Thursday and look out for live show content tomorrow!

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