Three bits of news for JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) this week.

First, although not breaking news, note that JPMorgan shares are now up over 15% over the past year. Not three months. Not six months. But the past year. When you think of everything that's happened since -- the collapse of Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE), Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM), Lehman Brothers, AIG (NYSE:AIG), the housing market, and the American consumer -- it's an impressive feat. Part of the gain likely reflects synergies and prospects of the Washington Mutual acquisition, but when you think how pitiful the WaMu book was -- with forecasts of a 24% credit card default rate -- it's still remarkable.

Second, Chase announced plans to issue a premium card aimed at breaking American Express's (NYSE:AXP) grip on the affluent. The card, called Sapphire, will target households with incomes over $120,000, won't have a pre-set spending limit, and will earn the standard one point for every dollar spent.

Will it work? Frankly, I've always thought of cards as being somewhat commoditized. Consumers want a card with a low rate and good rewards. I've never met anyone who cares whether it says Visa (NYSE:V), MasterCard (NYSE:MA), AmEx, or anything else on their card. As long as it swipes and gives me periodic subscriptions to Time magazine, I'm happy. Thus, I question how much any of these companies can infiltrate each other's territory by creating identical products.  

Third, JPMorgan will lend California $1.5 billion so the state can redeem IOUs that it's paid vendors and creditors with since July. California hopes to repay the loan next month by issuing short-term debt.

Bailing out small governments is nothing new for the bank: In 1895, J.P. Morgan (the man) corralled a gold-backed loan syndicate to lend $65 million (big bucks back then) to the U.S. Treasury.

The irony of issuing debt to repay your bank loan that paid off your IOUs is impressive, but whatever. California's gubernatorial races have been between the Terminator, a porn star, and Gary Coleman. It's long past the point of doing what makes sense.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel calls himself a resident of the Golden State, but owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. American Express is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.