Rick Sentelli's rant for the ages (transcript here) on CNBC's Squawk Box yesterday criticizing the recently passed stimulus package and the Obama administration's mortgage modification program was marred somewhat by the studio hosts. Though their tone was semi-humorous, it's telling that their instincts were to characterize the traders present at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as a "mob," and to assume that Santelli somehow controlled them ("putty in your hands"). When Santelli suggested a Chicago Tea Party, one of the hosts warned that Mayor Daley and the National Guard would be mobilized.
In October of last year, in a memorable exchange on the day that history may decide was when American free-market capitalism entered the point of no return, CNBC reporters seemed somewhat amused that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson had "put a (figurative) gun to the heads" of major bank CEOs to force them to accept government "investment."
Well if you don't mind my asking, will we see any reaction out of CNBC's studio folks to an example of real mob rule in the mortgage marketplace?
In a story at WJZ in Baltimore whose headline and coverage almost seem deliberately understated ("ACORN Trains Citizens To Protest Home Foreclosures"), the station tells us that ACORN "protesters" had broken into and occupied a foreclosed home (HT Inside Charm City via Michelle Malkin):
A community organization breaks into a foreclosed home in what they are calling an act of civil disobedience.
The group wants to train homeowners facing eviction on peaceful ways they can remain in their homes.
Derek Valcourt reports their actions are not without controversy.
"The mortgage went up $300 in one month," said Hanks, former homeowner.
She says the bank refused to modify her loan and foreclosed, kicking her out of the house in September.
The community group ACORN calls Hanks a victim of predatory lending.
"This is our house now," said Louis Beverly, ACORN.
And on Thursday afternoon, they literally broke the foreclosure padlock right off the front door and then broke into the house, letting Hanks back in for the first time in months.
The group says it was staging similar demonstrations in six other cities nationwide while urging a moratorium on foreclosures.
The president set a bad example when, while still president-elect, he expressed solidarity ("they're absolutely right") with the actions of former employees who occupied the Republic Window plant in Chicago in mid-December. It's not unreasonable to contend that his support then has emboldened ACORN now.
A reasonable prediction would be that this lawlessness won't get a lot of notice from the Associated Press or other major establishment news organizations.
If the Obama administration and its assembled economic geniuses want to see the markets really dive, watch what happens if investors start to conclude that the rule of law doesn't matter any more.
What will the smug studio folks at CNBC have to say then?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.