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Posted at 9:21 AM ET, 12/12/2010

Sunday Open Thread

By Greg Sargent

Who's winning?

By Greg Sargent  | December 12, 2010; 9:21 AM ET
Categories:  Miscellaneous  
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Next: The Morning Plum


Republican's Austerity Drive gets shifted into high gear, as the Lachrymose John Boehner tells Sixty Minutes that his first bill, as the new Speaker, will be to bar congressional members from taking a penny at local store counters, and to also never leave one. That should convince people that Republicans are sincere about getting our fiscal house in order.

Posted by: Liam-still | December 12, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Who's winning?

Answer: China.

In case some people missed it, China, while complaining about other countries interferring with their domestic affairs, actually bullied several nations into not sending representatives to the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony.

If Right Wingers did not like having the UN making decisions, for other nations, then why are they so eager to ship all our jobs to China. It is going to end up, dictating to the USA, Europe, Japan, and South Korea, what the can and can not do, on the world stage. You are just seeing the tip of the China foreign policy iceberg.
Thanks a lot Chamber Of Commerce, for continuing to weaken America, and build up China, as the emerging global dictator.

Posted by: Liam-still | December 12, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

- Who's winning? -

That's easy, the filthy stinking rich and their partners and enablers in the White House, Congress and Federal Courts are winning.

And the rest of America is losing.

Oh, and Greg, you should tell your co-worker Dana Milbank his pants are on fire with regards to how the so-called health care reform law was passed.

Posted by: unymark | December 12, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Who's winning?

The Bears, later.

Suck it, tao!

Posted by: BGinCHI | December 12, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Since I am interested in the health of the U.S. stock market, headlines like this catch my attention.

"A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives"

Apparently a nine bank committee controls who can and more importantly, who can not, trade derivatives. There is some suspicion, probably on the part of the "can nots", that this committee functions, in part, as a barrier to more competition. This is a long article, but a snippet is:

“When you limit participation in the governance of an entity to a few like-minded institutions or individuals who have an interest in keeping competitors out, you have the potential for bad things to happen. It’s antitrust 101,” said Robert E. Litan, who helped oversee the Justice Department’s Nasdaq investigation as deputy assistant attorney general and is now a fellow at the Kauffman Foundation. “The history of derivatives trading is it has grown up as a very concentrated industry, and old habits are hard to break.”

The Justice Department has launched an investigation.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | December 12, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the larger point in the closed derivatives trading market, is the lack of transparency. There is a need for central clearing and disclosures of prices (and fees) for all participants to see. There is also a need to standardize many derivative contracts.


"The precise amount that banks make trading derivatives isn’t known, but there is anecdotal evidence of their profitability. Former bank traders who spoke on condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements with their former employers said their banks typically earned $25,000 for providing $25 million of insurance against the risk that a corporation might default on its debt via the swaps market. These traders turn over millions of dollars in these trades every day, and credit default swaps are just one of many kinds of derivatives.

The secrecy surrounding derivatives trading is a key factor enabling banks to make such large profits.

If an investor trades shares of Google or Coca-Cola or any other company on a stock exchange, the price — and the commission, or fee — are known. Electronic trading has made this information available to anyone with a computer, while also increasing competition — and sharply lowering the cost of trading. Even corporate bonds have become more transparent recently. Trading costs dropped there almost immediately after prices became more visible in 2002.

Not so with derivatives. For many, there is no central exchange, like the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq, where the prices of derivatives are listed. Instead, when a company or an investor wants to buy a derivative contract for, say, oil or wheat or securitized mortgages, an order is placed with a trader at a bank. The trader matches that order with someone selling the same type of derivative.

It would be like a real estate agent selling a house, but the buyer knowing only what he paid and the seller knowing only what he received. The agent would pocket the difference as his fee, rather than disclose it. Moreover, only the real estate agent — and neither buyer nor seller — would have easy access to the prices paid recently for other homes on the same block."

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | December 12, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse


Western MA raised, & then Boston for 23 years...But Young Gentleman of a "certain" age in Olde New England were encouraged by their Dads to eschew the ragged and fey upstarts of the American Football League.


Therefore: Go2DaBears!!! {{{Perchance a smashed Brady nose?}}}


nb.: See 1963 in above link...Grrrrr. Heard there's 50mph gusts coming off the lake today...priceless!

Posted by: tao9 | December 12, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse


Talgo pulling out of Milwaukee in 2012
Train-maker cites end of high-speed rail project

"Talgo Inc. will shut down its Milwaukee train manufacturing operations in 2012, leaving only a maintenance base, because plans for a high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison have been abandoned, the company announced Friday.

The Spanish-owned company acted after the federal government withdrew nearly all of the $810 million in stimulus funding for the rail project, which Governor-elect Scott Walker had vowed to kill. Talgo had hoped to land contracts to build two trains for that line.

Talgo is in the process of hiring 125 workers to build two trains for Amtrak's existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line and two trains for Oregon. Those contracts will keep the company's north side plant open through the spring of 2012, said Nora Friend, a Talgo vice president.

The company will keep a maintenance base in Milwaukee to service the two Hiawatha trains after manufacturing ends, Friend said.

"In our view, this is even more tragic for the state of Wisconsin than it is for Talgo," Friend said in a written statement. "This is the rejection of creation of direct and indirect jobs, of added tourism, of the increase in state income taxes with permanent employment and . . .  lost opportunities (from) the establishment and growth of the vendor supply chain, among many other benefits."

State projections show rail-related employment would have peaked at 4,732 jobs in 2012, counting those in direct construction, at supply companies and in government.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | December 12, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it's crazy windy and horizontal snow.

Old Tyme Football.

I hope Brady didn't shave that raggety beard he had going.

Did you see that Jaimy Gordon's novel Lord of Misrule won the National Book award? Just got it and going to read it over the holiday. Big victory for a small press and a deserving writer.

Here's the page at McPherson:[0]=shh&pdID=177

Posted by: BGinCHI | December 12, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

sue, that's stunning.

GOP blames the Spanish "foreigners" in 3, 2, 1....

Posted by: BGinCHI | December 12, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse


Old Tymie: Huff has a couple of fingers that are permanently 45degrees at the knuckle.

Reading y Gassett's "The Modern Theme" (trying it in the orig. Spanish w/ an Eng. trans alongside) so I'll probably get back to a novel by 2014.

But I'll remember the Gordon...thanks cousin!

BTW: Saw RPI smoke BostonU in puck last night in Troy, best ticket in town this winter is college hockey.

Posted by: tao9 | December 12, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"Actually, the larger point in the closed derivatives trading market, is the lack of transparency. . ."

Interesting stuff. Just wanted you to know I'm paying attention even though I have nothing to add.

Posted by: Brigade | December 12, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Interesting stuff. Just wanted you to know I'm paying attention even though I have nothing to add.
I have heard soundbites about the secrecy of the derivatives market and how the secrecy itself contributed to the 2008 crash. But that was reading financial blogs and trying to equate words like "opacity" to mean "secrecy". Don't you just love the spin on semantics?

I don't have anything to add either, but it is interesting, isn't it.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | December 12, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse


And here's the rest of the story:


WASHINGTON -- California's high-speed rail plan will receive up to $624 million in additional federal funds, Transportation Department officials announced Thursday.

The new funding adds to the $715 million in federal funds previously awarded to California. It arrives courtesy of Ohio and Wisconsin, two states where recently elected Republican governors decided not to accept their own allotment of high-speed rail dollars.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | December 12, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

lmsinca--Thanks for yor comment on the last thread. I do think a lot of us are after the same thing but with different approaches. And I think we may all have our pet peeves. Mine date from the Civil Rights and Vietnam era. There were always people who could see only one way forward and ended up grandstanding and making everything about them. I see some voices like that in the political arguments of the day, which triggers an old unease.

Posted by: AllButCertain | December 12, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

tao, Revolt of the Masses was ginormous for me as an undergrad.

Haven't cracked it many years though.

Good winter reading.

Posted by: BGinCHI | December 12, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse


Yeah, there are 13 states that will be the beneficiaries of OH and WI governors-elect short-sightednes. CA is the big winner, but FL is also getting a chunk. So far, Rick Scott has not said no. Interesting...

Posted by: suekzoo1 | December 12, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse


Looks like California is using its high speed rail money to build the first segment in the Central Valley. Since the Central Valley is in extremely dire circumstances employment-wise, they are dancing. There's no doubt it will be good for that region. Actual construction on this segment will start late 2011 and go for about six years.

Politically, that's interesting as the Central Valley tends to be somewhat Republican.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | December 12, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse


Did you see this editorial in the LA Times?

The last sentence:

"Thanks a billion, cheeseheads."

Posted by: suekzoo1 | December 12, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse


I'll predict that the federal money being lost to Wisconsin, and worse, being given to CALIFORNIA, will cause a lot of political problems for the GOP in Wisconsin.

Human nature is a funny thing. In the stock market, there is a hierarchy of perceived losses and how investors react to them.

1. The lowest level of pain is connected to unrealized losses.

2. There is more pain connected to taking a realized loss.

3. But, the greatest amount of pain is connected to selling a stock at a gain, and then having it go up more.

Back in the days of full service brokers, investors would change brokers for #3, but not for #1 or #2. Go figure.

Wisconsin voters will seethe that "their" money went to other states' projects much more than they would have seethed over simply losing the money.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | December 12, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse


"Wisconsin voters will seethe that "their" money went to other states' projects much more than they would have seethed over simply losing the money."

Oh, no doubt. The comments by the locals in the State Journal story are bearing that out. The "lost our money" coupled with the manufacturer pulling up stakes and moving elsewhere is not an auspicious start for a governor who hasn't been sworn in yet. That's quite a trick!

Posted by: suekzoo1 | December 12, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

That's quite a trick!
Not that this measures up to Wisconsin's governor losing thousands of jobs for his state, the Ahnold proposed what I would call the worst idea ever, not once, but twice.

Ahnold proposed that lost pets in shelters be euthanized in 3 days instead of 5, to save money. In the world of impolitic ideas, this has to top on the hit parade. I thought Berkeley was going to spin right off the map.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | December 12, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Federal funding of these wasteful rail projects is absurd. It's just more Democrat pork and patronage abuse. It's downright criminal for the feds to be spending our money for local rail projects that can't pay for themselves because they make no economic sense.

Posted by: quarterback1 | December 12, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious when GOPers like QB moan about pork.

No idea about useful job creation or investing in infrastructure projects of any kind. No plan. No ideas.

Hard to argue with that.

Posted by: BGinCHI | December 12, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious when Dems like BG pontificate without substance about economics they know nothing about.

The GOP has a wealth of ideas and plans for economic growth. What economic illiterates like BG will never get is that they start with simple ideas like the government doesn't create jobs, least not with make work projects and boondoggle "investment" in "infrastructure" that can't be justified on its own economic merits.

Ask yourself some simple questions. If these local rail projects were going to serve such a vital economic need, and there were so much demand for them, why do they need billions in government "investment"? Why the federal government? Why should other states fund a boondoggle project for the liberal wreck of a state called California? Have you ever looked at how much auto traffic these vaunted rail projects actually eliminates? Not much.

But common sense has nothing to do with Dem economic thinking. For these illiterates, all they care is that the government do something -- almost anything, to spend more, tax more, plan more, regulate more, unionize more.

Posted by: quarterback1 | December 12, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

who's winning?
the top 1% to 2% of income earners
same old same old

Posted by: matt_ahrens | December 12, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Who's winning? China and the "US" Chamber of Commerce--

--as Mike Allen (Politico) reports, " In a sign of the new order, a newly elected Republican senator, Wisconsin's Ron Johnson, paid a personal visit last week to U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue to thank him for the chamber's unsolicited support of his candidacy."

Posted by: dozas | December 12, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Dems don't like the CoC but they sure love corporate welfare for high-speed rail, battery, and solar panel corporate panhandlers.

Posted by: quarterback1 | December 12, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Isn't there a state component for these transportation boondogles, er, investments?

For example, the Feds borrow $800 million from China (not counting interest), and give it to, say, California. California then has to come up with, at the begining, say $4 billion, which ends up being $8 billion by the end of the project. Finally, the passenger tickets have to be subsidized ad infinitum because there is not enough riders to keep the system afloat? Though in this scenario, the subsidy will be somewhat offset with a yearly Federal contribution.

As an example, Boston's Big Dig, when proposed in 1982, was expected to cost $2.6 billion. As of 2006, $14.6 billion had been spent with another $7 billion expected to be spent in interest, for a total of $22 billion.

I can see why citizens would vote for a candidate who promised to stop, or not start, such horrifically expensive boondogles.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | December 12, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

#cablegate WikiLeaks cables: Kim Jong-il son's idol Eric Clapton asked to perform in North Korea #wikileaks

Posted by: bernielatham | December 12, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Let's just hope that everyone in Washington took the weekend to re-think the COSTS of the Compromise deal - and got a hold of themselves.

A package that cost about half would do the SAME for the Economic Recovery,

AND not fuel the OBAMA DEBT SPRIAL as much.

We don't need the Social Security tax holiday.

We do need less borrowing.


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 12, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

The democrats in Congress are correct to be angry at Obama -

Obama makes a deal with the Republicans on his own - does not include the democrats in the negotiations -

AND then Obama adds $112 Billion worth of spending to the deal - the Social Security tax holiday - AND THEN OBAMA GOES TO THE PRESS LIKE IT IS ALL A DONE DEAL.

Pretty obnoxinous.

So Obama thinks he can make a phone call, and everyone is just going to agree to $112 Billion in ADDITIONAL SPENDING/tan breaks/ deficit ????


Someone should keep an eye on this guy Obama - his spending is OUT OF CONTROL.


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 12, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Uh-oh. I hope Senator Sanders will be more careful with his words in the future.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | December 12, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

We have to cut the cost of this Compromise package.

The deficit is already 1.3 Trillion Dollars

and then Obama has a hissy-fit over the extending the tax cuts to Everyone, which is the American thing to do, and all of a sudden Obama is demanding more money for other groups.

All of a sudden, $150 Billion of discussions turns into $350 Billion of OBAMA DEBT.

That is NOT a compromise - they can't agree so the American People get DOUBLE THE BILL ?????

This has to stop.

Bernie Sanders is right - stop with these ridiculous tax cuts - and pay someone's heating bill.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 12, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

"No economic sense" = logical

Public transport pays for itself handily, I guess qb objects, as usual, to "foreigners" getting American contracts. I guess the highway system was "pork," cops and firemen are "pork," but the military? Hands off!

QB, I bet you have a crank sticking out your back.

Posted by: caothien9 | December 13, 2010 12:47 AM | Report abuse

"The GOP has a wealth of ideas and plans for economic growth. "



oh, ho hoo ho hoo hoo

*gasp*, ah hahhahha, ha ha, (puff puff)

stop, you're killing me

Posted by: caothien9 | December 13, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

"But common sense has nothing to do with Dem economic thinking. For these illiterates, all they care is that the government do something -- almost anything, to spend more, tax more, plan more, regulate more, unionize more"


Oh if only government WOULD do these things, instead of listening to the prescriptions of a bunch of shamans and witch doctors.

Economics is an infantile field of study that was centuries away from qualit\fying as a science before it was strangled in the cradle. In real sciences hypotheses are subject to tests and those that fail are rejected. Economics doesn't do that; when arithmetically absurd notions like supply side fail to deliver they grow in esteem, their proponents continue to get tenure, and their advocates like this quarterback clown repeat their claims with more and more conviction.

Economics is much more like a religion, with competing sects who burn each others' churches, belief systems immune to falsification, and America is destroying itself listeing to this junk.

You're better of studying phrenoliogy or the phlogisten model than economics.

Posted by: caothien9 | December 13, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

As an example, Boston's Big Dig, when proposed in 1982, was expected to cost $2.6 billion. As of 2006, $14.6 billion had been spent with another $7 billion expected to be spent in interest, for a total of $22 billion.


And Iaq was supposed to be a walk in the park, with Iraqis instantly turning into embezzlers, er, I mean, entrepreneurs as soon as they were "economically liberated."

I'm sure you're against that invasion, right?

And we never should have built the highway system, right? We should leave things like that to "the marketplace," right?

Posted by: caothien9 | December 13, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

"You're better of studying phrenoliogy or the phlogisten model than economics. "

When it's done by Dems and liberals, that's very true. Especially dimwits like Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Sherrod Brown, who, typically, have no real world experience of any kind but spend their lives trying to impose socialist schemes on everyone who does.

Glad you admit that liberal economics is akin to phrenology or astrology. Just like you unwittingly admitted that liberal rights theory is LSD-induced nonsense. Now, again, mind your own business. You are not part of this country any more.

Posted by: quarterback1 | December 13, 2010 6:17 AM | Report abuse

Bill Clinton is winning.

He's back in the game he loves.

My prediction:

Barack Obama/Bill Clinton...........2012

That would blow their socks off!

Posted by: battleground51 | December 13, 2010 6:25 AM | Report abuse

What we won't see on the teevee or read in the traditional press...

"Now a new field of systematic study is opening within research centers, the Pentagon and intelligence institutions. It assumes that the 21st century will be shaped not just by competitive economic growth, but also by potentially disruptive scarcities — depletion of minerals; desertification of land; pollution or overuse of water; weather changes that kill fish and farms.

National security experts have begun to label such factors threats to “natural security” and to study them, often alongside environmental or advocacy groups..."

What we won't see is DeMint or Inhofe or Bachmann or Cantor or Limbaugh in any public conversation or even half-serious debate with these Pentagon and intel people researching and preparing for future turmoil scenarios arising from global warming.

And we won't see Donahue of the Chamber of Commerce in any similar and half-rigorous debate with these researchers on how national security, future or present or past, is impacted by increasing resource demand and extraction and resultant pollution.

And we will not because 1) the traditional media now have little, if any, capacity or interest in addressing complex matters or getting into a fight with powerful players who will come after them; and because 2) those players are not interested in anything other than gaining and maintaining a position of dominant power.

But such honest and rigorous conversations should be happening and out in the open, shouldn't they?

Posted by: bernielatham | December 13, 2010 7:09 AM | Report abuse

More gems of wisdom from the Vietnamese communist on the previous thread:

"The more taxes are lowered and business deregulated, the worse the economy performs."

"The free market is a scam. It's an immature centuries-out--of-date model and its advocates belong in prison."

This person is an enemy of humanity and an enemy of America -- a wannabe totalitarian who would according to his own boast send all of us to the gulag for defending freedom. Perhaps he is one of those coffee shop revolutionaries who is too feckless and stupid to do anything but fantasize about revolution, but prison camps and mass murder are at the core of his malignant being. He considers a communist, one-party state to be an ideal paradise.

You attract some real sages, Greg. Interesting how he finds a comfortable home among the liberals.

Posted by: quarterback1 | December 13, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Another conversation we won't be hearing...

"No other state has produced more guns seized by police in the brutal Mexican drug wars than Texas. In the Lone Star State, no other city has more guns linked to Mexican crime scenes than Houston...

*... the identities of U.S. dealers that sell guns seized at Mexican crime scenes remain confidential under a law passed by Congress in 2003.*

A year-long investigation by The Washington Post has cracked that secrecy and uncovered the names of the top 12 U.S. dealers of guns traced to Mexico in the past two years.

Eight of the top 12 dealers are in Texas, three are in Arizona, and one is in California...

*Drug cartels have aggressively turned to the United States because Mexico severely restricts gun ownership."*

I'm guessing that we won't be reading about or watching on Hannity or Hardball any dialogue between Rick Perry, Jan Brewer, the head of the NRA and police chiefs from border cities on the consequences of American gun legislation on the drug trade and the power/violence of the Mexican drug cartels. Or on, one can be certain, the consequences of that congressional legislation which mandates confidentiality re weapons sources.

Posted by: bernielatham | December 13, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

A headline (on the front page of today's Ha'aretz) that will never be seen on the front page of the Washington Post...

*"Fight the racist rabbis by opening doors to Arabs"*

Posted by: bernielatham | December 13, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

All, Morning Roundup posted:

...and thanks for that link about scarcities, Bernie, hadn't seen...

Posted by: Greg Sargent | December 13, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

hey, quarterback.

It's *okay* to cry.

Need a hanky?

"This person is an enemy of humanity and an enemy of America "

Hysterical much?

Posted by: caothien9 | December 13, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

"Glad you admit that liberal economics is akin to phrenology or astrology."


Oh, so free markets are an invention of "liberal" economics? Who knew!!

I'll take your deliberate misrepresenting my positions as a clearly spoken concession of defeat. Unable to rebut (STILL waiting to hear how we had such prosperity with a steeply progressive income tax; clearly this historical contradiction requires you to bind your head with duct tape), yo resort to cheap histrionics, hysteria, and, the envelope please! lies.

Why don't you call me a child molester, terrorist, and Satanist as long as you're making crap up?

Too bad I can get on the Internet here as easily as from the Land of Shareholder Value I just left. Perhaps for your next trick you can threaten to hold your breath until you turn blue.

Posted by: caothien9 | December 13, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Hey John Boehner:

Don't Cry For Me, Nicotina!

Posted by: Liam-still | December 13, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

You win some and you lose some. It is good it has not been lost altogether. The system needs revisions and to be reviewed and overhauled. How long will it be before it fails and it will cost more. So, centuries have gone by without looking into the problems in healthcare. It is like patching something for years and then one day it falls apart and all the money spent on patching the problems seemed foolish and wasteful when one could have paid and fix it from the beginning.

Posted by: Scar1 | December 14, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

We still have hope. And sometime hope is all one needs to get the job done. God keep us in Hope. For it is the evidence of things unseen. What some may not see now down the line they will get a clue.

Posted by: Scar1 | December 14, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

China or any country is winning. No entity needs monetary control. There needs to be shared control. If one takes over then all may or may not suffer. The idea that a Nation is super over another is real but, it need not be in a world that helps one another. The cold war and wars going on are the result of power and money struggles to be number 1. So, hopefully-the word hope again we will eventually get the point we cannot survive alone on a planet that will die according to the Word of God. So you either get along or be alone.

Posted by: Scar1 | December 14, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

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