Thursday, January 14, 2010

Athena, On Parade

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for January 14th, 2010


1) Mika, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Valerie Jarrett, Erin Burnett, Kathleen Sebelius, Today’s Ann Curry: every guest of consequence was female today and with all of the talk of Anne Kornblut's book documenting the glass ceiling, it appears Mika Brzezinski has other ideas. The powerhouse performance by Valerie Jarrett, shows an administration evolving and brings us hope that 2010 will have a new face to replace the 2009 sit on the sidelines and let the vacuum rule version. Hillary Clinton is always a powerhouse, and the tapping of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, is an important step, even if artificial, to help the shouting men in opposing camps take a breath for a second, and remind a country what unity feels like.

This guest parade is not by design, but it’s a telling coincidence especially in the face of a disaster that the face of leadership today of all days had a female lead.

2) It can be said that real reform in our country has happened maybe twice in our generation’s adult life, since LBJ. Once when Ronald Reagan reformed how our income taxes worked, and once when George W. Bush reformed another country, Iraq. Some may want to argue about welfare reform, but we won’t see the effect of that reform until this first real recession since it’s inception plays out and see if we made life during difficult times better or worse.

That Bush wants to call prescription drug revisions on his watch reform, and that Obama is trotting out the word reform on his revision of health services should fall under FCPA “truth in advertising ” statutes. The reason that this is germane towards today’s conversation is the mandate in Massachusetts. Those people aren’t scaring the daylights out of Democrats because they want a Republican. It’s a referendum on the bait and switch that’s gone on for two years now by the Obama administration. The progressives feel baited by a promise of real reform, and are stunned that the Obama camp conceded the high ground without a fight.

There is some of the misleading activity still going on, with the anti trust repeal threats, the national exchange endorsement, the union meetings. But the verdict win or lose in Massachusetts is that Obama is wolf boy until proven otherwise. The ball is in your court.

2) The Warren interview appeared to be a fraction of its possible outcome. The chief missing element was not connecting the dots from the prized Andrew Ross Sorkin statement yesterday about “the greatest transfer of wealth in our lifetime". Let me remind you that part of the show’s mission has to be about finding consensus. That criticism for the ARS statement yesterday was about 6 months of omission of an obvious megatrend being very disturbing, to omit it again with both Warren and Jarrett today, I feel like you should give your paycheck back.

And this thing that Erin Burnett brought up about the scapegoating of the banks by the administration is indefensible. That’s like going to a Miami bank with Tony Montana standing outside with a machine gun, and saying you guys are fine laundering, its that drug dealer that’s the whole problem. The banks provided a necessary vehicle to the hedge funds in the market collapse that was a violation of their fiduciary responsibility by any version of universal law. The fact that they had lobbied our legislative bodies to legalize portions of the crime doesn’t make it OK, especially given the disastrous outcomes. The message at the end of the day is that there will always be Tony Montanas and hedge funds, but by being a bank you are expected by custodial provision to be high enough on the food chain to not make a problem exponentially worse for profit.

Erin’s usually the sharpest in the room on financial matters, but a great amount of care has to be levied to counterbalance what will be a white noise war coming from people on her right in the coming days, as they crouch into fox holes and will apparently try to put a lipstick anywhere that might help or at least distract their foes.

At the end of the day, Obama will win if the next bank is scared into saying we better get some proportion of all loans to domestic growth industries else we appear to be in need of rehab. I’d call it reform, but let’s keep expectations bounded by facts on the ground.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow

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