Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 14, 2009

WEDNESDAY'S MINI-REPORT.... Today's edition of quick hits:

* Someone's making money: "A year after accepting a bailout from Washington, a resurgent JPMorgan Chase reported another round of surprisingly strong profits on Wednesday, strengthening its position at the pinnacle of American finance. Morgan's results -- $3.6 billion in profit for the third quarter -- fanned hopes on Wall Street that, despite lingering troubles, the nation's banking industry was entering a new period of prosperity."

* Kevin offers a valuable rejoinder: "There's an insanity here that's almost beyond analysis. Wall Street can spark an economic slowdown that misses destroying the planet and causing a second Great Depression only by a hair's breadth -- said hair being an 11th hour emergency infusion of trillions of taxpayer dollars -- and then turn around and use those trillions to return to bubble levels of profitability within 12 months. And they can do it even though the rest of the economy is still suffering through the worst recession since World War II. It's mind boggling."

* Given that Social Security is not expected to get a cost of living increase next year, this sounds like a good idea: "President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to approve $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors to make up for no increase in Social Security next year. The White House put the cost at $13 billion."

* Even during two wars: "For the first time in more than 35 years, the U.S. military has met all of its annual recruiting goals." The economy is cited as the main factor.

* Rep. Bobby Wexler (D-Fla.) announced that he will resign in January to become president of the Washington-based Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation. Seems like an odd move.

* Blue Cross fires at health care reform. The White House fires back.

* Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) was asked whether he would vote for a bill that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) opposes. "I don't know," he said. "That's a good question."

* If Snowe is swayed by her constituents' concerns, she may find it interesting to know Maine residents want a public option.

* As negotiations continue, Jonathan Cohn has a terrific piece on the "Top Ten Things Worth Fighting For" in health care reform.

* Unions do not want to see reform watered down.

* David Roberts: Seven reasons for optimism about the Senate climate bill.

* RNC Chairman Michael Steele changed the name of his new blog. Good move.

* Speaking of Steele, I don't think he understands what happens when cows and moving trains intersect.

* Making Pell Grants work.

* The group bidding on the St. Louis Rams franchise has reportedly parted ways with Rush Limbaugh.

* MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan got pretty impatient today with Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donahue. I can't say I blame him.

* It's always good to see breakthroughs: "President Barack Obama has nominated a Minnesota policewoman to become the first openly gay person to serve as a U.S. marshal."

* Air America gets a redesign. Looks good.

* Cake Wrecks is a brilliant idea, executed beautifully.

* As a rule, Glenn Beck should just steer clear of Nazi comparisons.

* If I didn't know better, I might think Pat Buchanan is a racist.

* And finally, Townhall's Ben Shapiro explains why he feels comfortable saying he hates America: "So yes, I hate Obama's America. Because Obama's America isn't America -- it's the European view of America, implemented from high office. Opposing the total redefinition of America isn't anti-American; it's patriotic."

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Comments

Chris Matthews on Hardball just now let a loony Tea Bagger get away with saying that over 2,000,000 were at that September Washington rally, when the real number was about 75,000! He really should have challenged him.

I assume by just letting the speaker and a second Tea Bagger spout their nonsense, Matthews thought the audience would see how insane these two are. I just wished Matthews had challenged them....

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on October 14, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Opposing the total redefinition of America isn't anti-American; it's patriotic.

He had to destroy the village to save it.

Posted by: Jon on October 14, 2009 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Wall Street can spark an economic slowdown that misses destroying the planet and causing a second Great Depression only by a hair's breadth ... and then turn around and use those trillions to return to bubble levels of profitability within 12 months.

Maybe Wall Street is still in a bubble.

Posted by: qwerty on October 14, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

The thing that is really beginning to worry me about HCR is the way these small state senators have decided to be so stingy on the subsidies. Maybe $88k a year for a family seems like a lot in Montana, but it certainly isn't in California.

It seems like they are setting the stage for making a lot of people very angry. If the subsidies aren't enough to keep people in their insurance, are they likely to decide to take the hit on a penalty? And if so, does that send the whole program spiraling out of control? Not trying to regurgitate Republican talking points, maybe I'm missing something. But it seems like finding the right mix of mandates and subsidies is tough to do federally if you don't take into account the cost of living in the states and cities.

Posted by: enozinho on October 14, 2009 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Susan Collins of Maine sounds like she's full of it on Mathews right now..my guess is she's not gonna budge..she doesn't like reference of the public option made by Pelosi "That's a non-starter" she says (threatens)...

We need to go for the Public Option big time and we need to use people like Howard Dean.

Posted by: Susan Collins is a no go on October 14, 2009 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

* Speaking of Steele, I don't think he understands what happens to cows and moving trains intersect.

Probably not. At the same time, my image of the results wasn't the same as that of Think Progress, either. Given that all the GOP "achievements" seem to be firmly tied to the 19th century, in my mind's eye I saw a steam engine, with one of those gizmos -- meant to push the cattle out of the way -- attached in front. Like this, for example:
http://www.cs.nott.ac.uk/~ef/MagicLantern/CanadianPacific/SteamLocomotive.jpg

Posted by: exlibra on October 14, 2009 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Bobby" needs a new web site, then. I suggest

wexlerreallyonlywantedyouremailaddress.com

Posted by: Forrest on October 14, 2009 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Rep. Bobby Wexler (D-Fla.) announced that he will resign in January to become president of the Washington-based Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation. Seems like an odd move."

Not odd really. A lot of money can be made shilling for Israel's interests. Lobbyists and spokespeople are necessary and good additions to a pluralist democracy. As long as think tanks like AEI, Brookings, and CMEPEC aren't treated as objective, honest entities, all is well.

Posted by: flubber on October 14, 2009 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

No, I do not think it is a good idea to pay seniors $250 because social security will not have a cost of living increase. The reason social security recipients are not getting a cost of living increase is that the cost of living has not gone up. Now if you want to give seniors $250 because you are a politician and you want to pander to seniors, be my guest, but do not try and hide what you are doing by spouting nonsense. How about sending me $250 because my 401K is still down 30% from its high? How about giving everyone in Wisconsin $250 because it was a very short and cool summer and now it looks like winter is coming early and we did vote for you? If there is a problem with the computation of cost of living increases for social security then fix it and make the necessary adjustments to payroll taxes to pay for the fix, but do not use the single best run government program which is not broke to justify the spreading of political patronage money. This is Chicago machine politics. I thought/hoped Obama was above it.

Posted by: Terry on October 14, 2009 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Kevin is wrong about the wall street insanity. It isn't that hard to analyze, and he should know this: WS can get away with that because the government, not even Obama, pushes back against them hard enough. The worst of the crowd on Capital Hill (not all Republicans by far) aren't just flabby but active conspirators in making it worse.

We have to push back real hard, and press for reforms. You've heard of the usual regulatory ones, but a sales tax on all financial trades would really bring the bubble down to earth but fast.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on October 14, 2009 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Confucius say: When cow and train collide, you get MOOTRIN (non-generic form of Ibuprofen formulated for udderache).

Posted by: Chopin on October 14, 2009 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

I hope Rachel Maddow is doing alright.. She's been calling in "under the weather" a good number of days..hope she's O.K.

More significantly, I wonder if she thinks she has to be at the top of her game before doing a show...when I was depressed, I used to think that way...

I suppose never realized how much I anticipate her shows..I hope she doesn't feel she needs to be in perfect form each time..this T.V. stuff and moving about from rural Mass. to a tiny NY studio has to be taxing on her..

Posted by: Best Wishes Maddow..we are rooting for you! on October 14, 2009 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

...Because Obama's America isn't America -..." Ben Shapiro quoted by Steve Benen.

So, Mr. Shapiro feels that he, and only he, can decide what constitutes "America"? Modest, isn't he?

Posted by: Doug on October 14, 2009 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Oh man I've been a fan of cake wrecks for ages. Since I enjoy Ace of Cakes so much I can't help but snicker at the polar opposite.

Posted by: Matt on October 14, 2009 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

JPMorgan Chase can report huge profits not because they are making loans, but because they are jacking everyone's credit card interest rates through the roof while congress sits with its collective thumb up its ass.

That's not the way to end a recession.

Posted by: bdop4 on October 14, 2009 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Riddle me this. If unemployment, bankruptcies, and, foreclosures are up and lending, consumer confidence and retail sales are down, where is the money for the bank profits coming from?

Posted by: Winkandanod on October 14, 2009 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

You can also tell who hates America by those who link to fucking Andrew Sullivan. Is it really worth the link to that racist fuckweasel? He's a war cheerleading asshole who truly believes that by sponsoring a book that claims that people with more melanin in their skin are inherently more stupid than those with less melanin he's advancing dialogue. Fifty thousand great bloggers and writers out there and we get links to that asshole.

Posted by: BellCurveBetty on October 14, 2009 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

I hope Rachel Maddow is doing alright.. She's been calling in "under the weather" a good number of days..hope she's O.K.

She posted a Twitter message today about how bad her cooking is (she's cooking for herself while she's home sick), so I wouldn't worry too much. But I agree, I miss her; I hope she's better soon.

Posted by: Redshift on October 14, 2009 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

So, Mr. Shapiro feels that he, and only he, can decide what constitutes "America"? Modest, isn't he?

Especially since he's part of the crowd who had no compunction about calling us unpatriotic for objecting to "Bush's America" dismantling the Constitution back to its foundations in the Magna Carta.

You lost, dickhead. That means you get to complain, but it doesn't mean that you get to declare that a duly elected president carrying out entirely Constitutional actions that you don't happen to like "isn't America."

Posted by: Redshift on October 14, 2009 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

The sudden profitability of banks, et al, can have nothing to do with the fact that the administration allowed them to use Mark to Book (What they say it's worth) rather than Mark to Market (What you can get for it) to value their assets. Of course, they'll all be surprised by the wave of defaults caused by the coming year's reset of Option ARMs. It will again become necessary to put Federal dollars behind bad wagers in order to enable the bankers and Wall Street folk to continue their magic.

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on October 14, 2009 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Buchanan a racist? I was a kid when Bill Buckley declared him a racist. And that was a long time ago.

Posted by: fostert on October 14, 2009 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Making Pell Grants work.

I went to college on a Pell Grant in the early 80s, and I was eligible for the max at the time, approx $3,000 per year. I was laid off from a software company that was a go-between for colleges and the Fed for Pell Grants and student loans. In the last 25 years, the max Pell Grant has gone from $3000 to approx $4500. That's not even keeping up with inflation, and I know tuition rates have gone up much more than that, even for public colleges.

There is definitely something wrong with this picture.

Posted by: Michael W on October 14, 2009 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Dennis-SGMM: so next the banks will hand out those "profits" to the executives and also deal in more crap swaps, then when it all crashes again, waaaaah, we need more money from the taxpayers? Is that the deal? AFAIC, they can go to hell.

As someone who deals in "real" accounting (based on true value of services and products) every single day, and with business entities who:
1) do not get bailouts
2) rely on donations and sponsorships by people and businesses who also deal in "real" accounting
3) are struggling to stay afloat or have already gone under
and
4) also know many who are out of work, have lost businesses, homeless, hungry, have no health care, and are suffering,

this makes me extremely angry. To say the least.

Posted by: Me on October 14, 2009 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Terry,

"No, I do not think it is a good idea to pay seniors $250 because social security will not have a cost of living increase. The reason social security recipients are not getting a cost of living increase is that the cost of living has not gone up."

The cost of living "has not gone up" within the general economy. However, within the senior citizen demographic, the cost of living has continued to rise, as they have a different mix of out-of-pocket expenses.

Posted by: Joe Friday on October 14, 2009 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm, so is Air America not a money pit anymore?

Posted by: MNPundit on October 14, 2009 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

But they wanted tongue kissing

Benen: It's always good to see breakthroughs: "President Barack Obama has nominated a Minnesota policewoman to become the first openly gay person to serve as a U.S. marshal."
Actually I thought the real breakthrough was when he said this to the nation:
Obama Human Rights Campaign speech on gay rights: Together, we will have moved closer to that day when no one has to be afraid to be gay in America. (Applause.) When no one has to fear walking down the street holding the hand of the person they love. (Applause.)
That was huge. Never thought I'd hear a president risk saying that. Certainly the times they are changing, but that still took political courage. That moment deserved far more appreciation than it got...


Posted by: koreyel on October 14, 2009 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

It's mind boggling.

It's not mind-boggling -- it's Goldman-Sachs.

Posted by: Disputo on October 14, 2009 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

No shit, Sherlock. The bankers are taking your much-vaunted stimulus home. What the fuck did you expect?

Posted by: Department of obviology on October 14, 2009 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

No shit, Sherlock. The bankers are taking your much-vaunted stimulus home. What the fuck did you expect?

Um, you seem to be confusing the TARP bailout with the stimulus...Sherlock. And the only reason there aren't all sorts of limitations on the TARP money so the banksters can't steal it is because Republicans went all out to block those measures.

Please think before trolling next time. Thank you.

Posted by: trex on October 14, 2009 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

"And the only reason there aren't all sorts of limitations on the TARP money so the banksters can't steal it is because Republicans went all out to block those measures."

Prove your depth, the scope of your expertise, your brilliance. Cite something for once.

You can't.

By the way, better the banksters get all the cash than one budget dollar to a Congressional lib idealogue with a dream and a Gini Coefficient up his ass.

Posted by: tao9 on October 14, 2009 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

Your feckless stimulus is but a pimple on the massive hairy ass of the multitudinous Federal guarantee progams that will soon be crowding out investment and with it, any hope of sustainable job growth. Lack of concern for transparency and integrity has poked a big fucking hole in that bucket you're pissing money into.

Clearly you're another of those hopelessly naive one-course macrofetishists who never had a corrupt regime pop your ISLM cherry. I was saying the same monotonous fucking thing when Bush set up the policy, & I will shut up with pleasure when anything changes. But not a single fucking thing has changed, Has it?

Posted by: Department of Obviology on October 14, 2009 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Your feckless stimulus is but a pimple on the massive hairy ass of the multitudinous Federal guarantee progams

Sorry you were revealed to be a blithering idiot, and right out there in public, no less. That's gotta sting. Drop the bravado and take it like a man.

Posted by: trex on October 14, 2009 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, sounds like some pompous ass has decided to take on the Man one WashingtonMonthly.com commentator at a time.

Go man, go!

Posted by: mryoureonfiremister on October 14, 2009 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Prove your depth, the scope of your expertise, your brilliance. Cite something for once.

Well, I cite things all the time, which is clear if you do a google search of my postings. But since you asked:

1) Republicans objected to limitations on executive bonuses in exchange for tax money. Perhaps you missed the couple thousand articles about it in the papers?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/18/flashback-it-was-bush-gop_n_176442.html

2) Another measure Republicans objected to was cramdown legislation, which would have given bankruptcy judges power to modify mortgages and keep people in their homes in exchange for banks getting taxpayer money.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MjU0MGQwNzA5YTJiZjQzMjNjNjdkOGI2ZmMyZDRiNDA=

Posted by: trex on October 14, 2009 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

" ... fanned hopes on Wall Street that, despite lingering troubles, the nation's banking industry was entering a new period of prosperity."

And the nation? Not so much. But what does that matter. There's a party on Wall Street.

Posted by: SRW1 on October 15, 2009 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

-- Townhall's Ben Shapiro explains why he feels comfortable saying he hates America: "So yes, I hate Obama's America. Because Obama's America isn't America -- it's the European view of America, ..

So, what's the American view of America?

Some of us would really love to know.

Posted by: Goldilocks on October 15, 2009 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

If Obama does in fact send 45,000 more to Afghanistan, you can flush his presidency down the toilet. Once, again, a democrat following the military into hell with his tail between his legs.

Posted by: rbe1 on October 15, 2009 at 4:13 AM | PERMALINK

Re the health care vote, as usual Lieberman will be a snake in the grass, Reid will protect him as usual. He should be stripped of the seniority he managed to keep after voting for McCain.

Posted by: JS on October 15, 2009 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

The $250 should help repair Obama's poor standing among older Americans, along with the improved condition of their 401k's.

Posted by: bob h on October 15, 2009 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

Opposing the total redefinition of America isn't anti-American; it's patriotic.

Funny; that's the attitude we take in opposing the Republican Party's embrace of torture.

Posted by: Gregory on October 15, 2009 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

We can't afford a public option for health care, but we can sure as hell have a "public" option for bankers.

Wall Street may hit 11,000. Whoopdee doo, the rest of us are hurting.

Corporate socialism? Nah. But public option for health care.?..oh my god nazisocialistic liberal facist pigs!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on October 15, 2009 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK
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