This one is giving Orson Welles' 1938 radio production of The War of the Worlds a good run for the money.
For the seventh consecutive year, phony messages are filling up email inboxes around the world warning that on August 27th Mars will approach Earth and grow to the size of a full Moon. "NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN," the email declares--all in capital letters.
And no, it's not true.
But the Mars hoax has reached such epidemic proportions that NASA saw fit to send out an email late Tuesday night, reminding people that come Aug. 27, Mars will be "314 million km from Earth, about as far away as it can get."
As with so many pop culture bromides, there's a grain of truth to this one. In 2003, Mars actually did swell to unusual proportions and on August 27th of that year, the Red Planet came within 56 million kilometers of Earth. That was nearest it has been in 60,000 years. That's when the emails began - and they show no sign of stopping this year. Get your delete key ready, just in case.
The controversy over plans to build a mosque in lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center site continues into yet another week. If this was a black-and-white movie, a cinematic hero in the Gary Cooper-Jimmy Stewart mold would ride into the picture just about now to dispense a dose of American common sense and stamp out our fears.
Too bad the real world can't borrow a page from the silver screen. Still, we are the inheritors of a rich tradition of political pragmatism. That counts for a lot in uncertain times. Or it should. Over the decades, when things threatened to get out of hand, that shared common good sense has usually been enough to help us keep our bearings.
But I wonder whether we're going to remain true to our better angels this time around. Instead of Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, the media pulpit is being hijacked by the shrill and the stupid, exploiting the moment for predictably pedestrian political or financial gain (or both).
As Bob Dylan wrote, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. The timing was surely coincidental but the faux controversy ginned up over the proposed mosque - planned on the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory outlet - came as a Gainsville, Fla., church said it still plans to burn copies of the Quran even after local city officials denied a burn permit. Repeat: They want to burn copies of the Quran.
This may be a fringe group but the ugly motive they embraced didn't materialize in a vacuum. Politicians are, well, politicians and from Murphy Brown to the Terry Schiavo case, there's a contemporary history annotated by the use of the latest "outrage" to work up passions for political gain. One assumes that the few grown-ups left in the GOP leadership know what's going to happen if they let the hacks continue to fan the flames. Nearly one in five Americans now believe that that President Obama is a Muslim. For coming attractions of this fall's "Obama-as-alien" theme, check out this innuendo-filled piece by Byron York. See how this works: Obama - make that Barack Hussein Obama - is a secret Muslim and the Muslims, as Newt Gingrich has pointed out are "trying to make a case about supremacy" by building a mosque "right next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists."
Gingrich, mentioned as a possible 2012 presidential candidate, also had no problem reaching for the Nazi analogy to argue against the mosque:
"Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a sight next to Pearl Harbor. There's no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center."
Another out-of-office politician, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who also is mentioned as a potential future presidential candidate, picked up on the same theme, casting this as part of a larger offensive on the part of political Islam to advance Shariah law.
"...what we have is an Imam who believes not only in the "religious" part of Islam, the faith and the relationship with Allah. What he is trying to accomplish is political Islam, so he has a political agenda which is Shariah. That's the most important thing for people to understand. That unlike Christianity which is a faith that is about the next world, the next kingdom, the relationship between you and your maker. And that while there certainly are moral components to Christianity that apply to living your life like the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments, there is not a political code, there is not a governmental structure ... there is not the kind of detailed structure of how to run a worldly kingdom in Christianity that there is in Islam and that's what Shariah is, and that's what this man is advocating. So you have not just someone who's advocating a religious doctrine but he is also advancing a political doctrine under the guise and protection of religion, and that is problematic.Santorum doesn't have the guts to spell it out too bluntly but his reading of Islamic jurisprudence points to the conclusion that Islam's fundamental charge is to force the submission of the Dar al Harb which exists here in the U.S. So if this religion-cum-ideology is fundamentally hostile to American pluralism, why indict this one imam - they're all part-and-parcel of the same conspiracy. Call it a Muslim version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
In this sort of atmosphere, is it any wonder that political pygmies are tempted to play for short-term gain? The New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio is now out there hammering Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind the mosque construction as a terrorist sympathizer. ( For the record, the New York Police Department last week told the Associated Press that it had "identified no law enforcement issues related to the proposed mosque"). As usual, the Democrats don't have a stomach for this fight. Harry Reid, facing a strong challenge for his Senate seat, this week broke with the president this week and said the mosque should get built elsewhere. At least he had the good grace not to paint them as the enemy.
Even if they apparently represent the other for so many "real" Americans.
In what had to a thoroughly discouraging exercise, Daily Kos impresario, Markos Moulitsas, issued a statement accusing Research 2000 of polling fraud and that a lawsuit would follow.
I have just published a report by three statistics wizards showing, quite convincingly, that the weekly Research 2000 State of the Nation poll we ran the past year and a half was likely bunk....
We contracted with Research 2000 to conduct polling and to provide us with the results of their surveys. Based on the report of the statisticians, it's clear that we did not get what we paid for. We were defrauded by Research 2000, and while we don't know if some or all of the data was fabricated or manipulated beyond recognition, we know we can't trust it. Meanwhile, Research 2000 has refused to offer any explanation. Early in this process, I asked for and they offered to provide us with their raw data for independent analysis -- which could potentially exculpate them. That was two weeks ago, and despite repeated promises to provide us that data, Research 2000 ultimately refused to do so. At one point, they claimed they couldn't deliver them because their computers were down and they had to work out of a Kinkos office. Research 2000 was delivered a copy of the report early Monday morning, and though they quickly responded and promised a full response, once again the authors of the report heard nothing more.
While the investigation didn't look at all of Research 2000 polling conducted for us, fact is I no longer have any confidence in any of it, and neither should anyone else. I ask that all poll tracking sites remove any Research 2000 polls commissioned by us from their databases. I hereby renounce any post we've written based exclusively on Research 2000 polling. ...
I want to feel stupid for being defrauded, but fact is Research 2000 had a good reputation in political circles. Among its clients the last two years have been KCCI-TV in Iowa, WCAX-TV in Vermont, WISC-TV in Wisconsin, WKYT-TV in Kentucky, Lee Enterprises, the Concord Monitor, The Florida Times-Union, WSBT-TV/WISH-TV/WANE-TV in Indiana, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Bergen Record, and the Reno Gazette-Journal. In fact, just last week, in an email debate about robo-pollsters, I had a senior editor at a top DC-based political publication tell me that he'd "obviously" trust Research 2000 more than any automated pollsters, such as SurveyUSA. I didn't trust Research 2000 more than I trusted SUSA (given their solid track record,) but I did trust them. I got burned, and got burned bad.
For the record, Research 2000's president deniedMoulitsas' allegations. Until the facts get sorted out, we're left with a he-said, she-said scenario. To his credit, Moulitsas issued the disclosure without anyone first outing him. But with the story already taking on a life of its own, this much is clear: the Kos folks are going to eat a fair amount of public crow for an indeterminate period. As Moulitsas himself notes:
Sure, our friends on the Right will get to take some cheap shots, and they should take advantage of the opportunity. But ultimately, this episode validates the reason why we released the internal numbers from Research 2000 -- and why every media outlet should do the same from their pollster; without full transparency of results, this fraud would not have been uncovered. As difficult as it has been to learn that we were victims of that fraud, our commitment to accuracy and the truth is far more important than shielding ourselves from cheap shots from the Right.
Yoo, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department, is perhaps most familiar to the public for the legal opinion the Bush administration used to rationalize the harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists.
Since returning to the private sector - he currently teaches law at the University of California, Berkeley - Yoo has made the rounds of the lecture circuit to pump a new book and counter critics who have accused him of twisting the U.S. Constitution to justify torture.
After the Obama administration released seven more secret opinions written entirely by Yoo (or in conjunction with fellow Bush lawyer Jay Bybee, now a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) Yoo was eviscerated by scholars and journalists.
Some of the best included Gary Kamiya in Slate and with David Cole's more in-depth piece in the New York Review of Books. After that sort of public shellacking I assumed Yoo would be refrain from stoking the partisan embers for a while.
I was wrong.
study just published in the journal Biology Letters.
"By their very nature, vocalizations containing nonlinearities may sound harsh and are somewhat unpredictable," the study found.
The researchers tested whether film soundtracks could evoke similar emotions in a range of film genres. They came up with the perhaps unsurprising conclusion that Hollywood film-makers since D.W. Griffith have known: Sound tracks can manipulate human emotions.
Among other findings:
Dramatic films suppressed noise of all types, featuring more abrupt frequency transitions and musical sidebands. They also included fewer noisy screams than expected.
Horror films suppressed abrupt frequency transitions and musical sidebands. The also featured more non-musical sidebands, and noisy screams than anticipated.
Adventure films had more male screams than expected.
Apple's contract manufacturer building the next iPhone plans to ship 24 million units by the end of this year, according to a new report.
The report from Digitimes on Monday said Taiwan-based Foxconn will ship 4.5 million next-gen iPhones by the end of June, and 19.5 million by the end of 2010.
Apple sells a lot of phones, but 24 million is a big number even for them. For comparison, Apple has sold a little over 50 million total since the original iPhone's debut in 2007. So how to explain the supposed sudden surge in iPhone supply? Digitimes could be wrong of course, though it does have some good sources in the contract manufacturing world.
Other possible explanations could be that Apple is planning big price cuts on this model, which could move more units. Or, and this would jibe with reports that the company's building a CDMA phone, it could be planning to add more carrier partners. More outlets to sell the phone would mean more supply.
You can read the rest of this article at CNET News.com.
Never would have figured on this one: Pat Buchanan going to bat for affirmative action:
"Not since Thurgood Marshall, 43 years ago, has a Democratic president chosen an African-American. The lone sitting black justice is Clarence Thomas, nominated by George H. W. Bush. And Thomas was made to run a gauntlet by Senate liberals."
Actually, Buchanan was less interested in making the case for diversity than he was in sounding a new alarm:
"If (Elena) Kagan is confirmed," he wrote, "Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats."
"If Kagan is confirmed," he went on, "three of the four justices nominated by Democratic presidents will be from New York City: Kagan from the Upper West Side, Sotomayor from the Bronx, Ruth Bader Ginsburg from Brooklyn. Breyer is from San Francisco."
Well, Katie bar the door before the kreplach cabal busts through the gates.
Buchanan didn't say it but he didn't have to: The real danger is that too many Jews will wind up sitting on the highest court in the land. And that would be a bad thing for the republic.
Not individual Americans, mind you.
So much for Buchanan's past criticism of identity politics as a betrayal of the broader "American" narrative (when, it goes without saying,) the nation was overwhelmingly an Anglo-Saxon, Christian republic.
But there's an obvious political context for Buchanan's remarks.
In the upcoming Senate confirmation hearings, Republicans may have a hard time giving Kagan a hard time. Not because they plan to rubber-stamp her nomination, but, as others have noted, the former Harvard Law dean and current solicitor-general, hasn't left much of a paper trail to this point. So in the absence of a "wise Latina" quote, what are they to do? Buchanan obviously did the math and didn't like the answer. A yes vote for Kagan means the Supreme Court would then be only seven seats away from a full minyan. And you can't have that.
Buchanan's qualms notwithstanding, the Senate's going in a different direction. Kagan may face tough questioning but it won't be about her religion or ethnicity. During her "Face the Nation" appearance on Sunday, California Senator Dianne Feinstein did the right thing and politely dismissed Buchanan's complaint as irrelevant.
"Does that bother me?" she said. "The answer is no. Each one of the Catholic justices are very different in how they approach the law, and I don't believe it's necessarily related to their religion. And I think they are total people, the products of their learning, their backgrounds, their experiences in life, and that's the way it should be."
(Of course, she's one of them so what would you expect?)
At this stage of his life, Buchanan reminds me of the proverbial cranky uncle. Every family's got one. You expect the guy to get worked up over small stuff; but he eventually calms down. Not so, though, with Buchanan, where any change to the culture, post-"Leave It to Beaver," has been a very big deal. And when it comes to the Jews, the man's pursued by a dybbuk. He says he's not an anti-Semite, so I'll take him at his word. But the controversy keeps making Lazarus-like revivals because well, Buchanan keeps saying obnoxious things.
Everyone's got their pet theories about why he keeps goading the Jews. Here's another.
But for this, you need to go back more than four decades, when the counterculture was rocking America and the nation was divided over the war in Vietnam. This was the thick of the culture war and there were fears the country was coming apart. Conservatives were outraged by Hollywood and "the liberal elite" (and we all knew who that meant.) It was not accident that most Jews were Democrats and they didn't back Richard Nixon or the war. Strike One. But they did support military aid to Israel. Strike Two. Buchanan was understandably sore about the opposition to Nixon and what later happened to his president. Buchanan was also communications director under Ronald Reagan, when he again faced off against a critical liberal opposition. Strike Three. Is he still nursing a grudge? You bet your bippy.
Fast-forward to the present and Buchanan's living in an America led by a black liberal president and a population marked by an outsized representation of Jews in culture, politics and finance relative to their numbers. You can Google "Buchanan" and "Jews" for the full list but some of his greatest hits include the following:
"There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East -- the Israeli defense ministry and its 'amen corner' in the United States."
Hitler was "an individual of great courage...Hitler's success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path."
- "Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody."
- "If U.S. Jewry takes the clucking appeasement of the Catholic cardinalate as indicative of our submission, it is mistaken. When Cardinal O'Connor of New York seeks to soothe the always irate Elie Wiesel by reassuring him 'there are many Catholics who are anti-Semitic'...he speaks for himself. Be not afraid, Your Eminence; just step aside, there are bishops and priests ready to assume the role of defender of the faith." (Writing in response to Cardinal O'Connor criticism of anti-Semitism during the controversy over plans to build a convent near Auschwitz)
"Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the truth that makes men free."
None of this necessarily makes the man an anti-Semite. Unfortunately, it also doesn't make him a mensch, either.
Watch this amateur video of an aerial view of the mess in the gulf narrated by an Alabama resident.
Speaks for itself.
Speaking with the "Beeb," Hayward rejected calls for a ban against off-shore oil drilling and then suggested this howler.
"I don't believe it should [result in a ban], in the same way as Apollo 13 did not stop the space program nor have serious airline accidents from time to time stopped people flying."
I'll let this good professor take the lectern in response:
"Except that greedily destroying the environment with offshore petroleum drilling is not actually very much like flying to the moon. And flying to the moon, for all the pollution it causes on the way up to the stratosphere, won't destroy the earth. And the problems on Apollo 13, when the three astronauts barely got back to earth alive, weren't anything like the gargantuan viscous black monster that Hayward's incompetence has unleashed on the Gulf coast. And finally, for some posh arrogant foreign twit to invoke the heroism of James A. Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise to excuse the greatest corporate SNAFU of the twenty-first century just about makes my blood boil."
To quote the great Smokey Robinson, I'll second that emotion.
But Hayward wasn't finished. The interview he granted to the Guardian featured this remarkably tone-deaf assertion:
""The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume."
A very big ocean?
The Guardian reporter described Hayward's demeanor during the interview as being very "bullish." Here's your Saturday puzzle, boys and girls: Transpose that word's last three letters and add a missing "t"and you have a more fitting description.
Meanwhile, this continues.
Last month was the 14th hottest April on record, according to the latest climate data issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In its monthly survey, NOAA said that 31 states reported above-normal temperatures. Just California, Nevada and Oregon registered cooler-than-average Aprils.
NOAA has been tracking monthly temperature since 1895.
Separately, NOAA said that the average temperature in the United States mainland was 54.3 degrees F, or 2.3 points above the long-term (1901-2000) average.
Other highlights from the report:
- Most states east of the Rocky Mountains experienced above-normal temperatures
- The Northeast and the East North Central Region posted its second warmest-ever April
- Illinois, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey each had their warmest Aprils on record.
- The cooler-than-usual weather which prevailed in the South and Southeast continued into spring.
Serving as a very capable kvetcher-in-chief, Salon's Glenn Greenwald, has assembled a Continue »
Watching the unfolding horror show taking place in the Gulf of Mexico, what can one say that hasn't already been said?
The pandering politicians and greedy industrialists justly deserve our fury and disgust. Their crocodile tears and bogus platitudes inspire contempt and then boredom. We've heard it all before.
Remember this? Yeah, that was a good call. One small blessing: With the exception of her latest musings on Facebook - "accidents still happen" - Palin and the rest of the "Drill, Baby, Drill" contingent have largely stayed out of the limelight while the clean-up crews attempt to deal with this mess. Can't say the same about Rush Limbaugh.
The only surprise during Tuesday's day-long hearing to probe the cause of the financial crisis was Sen. Carl Levin's potty mouth - who knew?
But as therapeutic as it might have been to watch smug bankers get gob smacked in public, it wasn't really all that illuminating. Not when you consider that the structural roots of the Great Recession - which almost became another Great Depression - are complicated and point blame in many directions. Not that you'd know it from the gleeful reaction of Democrats, who viewed the spectacle as a way to put the Republicans on the defensive. "Republicans will have more opportunities to show whose side they are truly on," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada,.
Fair enough, but if Goldman was carrying on like a morally-compromised Vegas bookie, let's also remind ourselves how all this came to be. Wall Street got out of control but its reckless behavior didn't take place in a vacuum. The investment banks were only taking advantage of the rules regulators had put in place. And nowhere in the day's narrative did any of the Democrats want to revisit decisions they took a decade ago - decisions which would contribute to the ensuing economic crisis. Specifically, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act by Bill Clinton in 1999.
Democrats are now pushing the so-called Volcker Rule to erect a wall between commercial banking interests and investment banking interests. The irony is that Clinton's top economic advisors back then - Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers - convinced the former president to do away with that separation by burying Glass-Steagall. (Here's what Summers, then Treasury Secretary, said at the time: "Today, Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century...This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy." Looking back, Clinton now acknowledges that he got bad advice. (His mea culpa comes at the end of the quote below.)
Clinton: I feel very strongly about it. I think it's important to have vigorous oversight. Now, on derivatives, yeah I think they were wrong and I think I was wrong to take it, because the argument on derivatives was that these things are expensive and sophisticated and only a handful of investors will buy them. And they don't need any extra protection, and any extra transparency. The money they're putting up guarantees them transparency. And the flaw in that argument was that first of all sometimes people with a lot of money make stupid decisions and make it without transparency.
And secondly, the most important flaw was even if less than 1 percent of the total investment community is involved in derivative exchanges. So much money was involved that if they went bad, they could affect a 100 percent of the investments, and indeed a 100 percent of the citizens in countries not investors, and I was wrong about that. I've said that all along. Now, I think if I had tried to regulate them because the Republicans were the majority in the Congress, they would have stopped it. But I wish I should have been caught trying. I mean, that was a mistake I made.
Another week, another crisis in the latest installment of "Perennially Pissed Off Nation, 2010."
This time the sensitive souls expressing outrage went ballistic over the warm-up joke that the president's National Security adviser made during a presentation to a pro-Israel Washington think tank last week.
Here's a link to the offending clip of General James Jones, trying to do shtick. (OK, I can understand some of the ire; the routine does need a little work.)
In order to set the stage for my remarks I'd just like to tell you a story that I think is true. It happened recently in southern Afghanistan. A member of the Taliban was separated from his fighting party and wandered around for a few days in the desert, lost, out of food, no water. And he looked on the horizon and he saw what looked like a little shack and he walked towards that shack. And as he got to it, it turned out it was a little store own by a Jewish merchant. And the Taliban warrior went up to him and said, 'I need water, give me some water.' And the merchant said, 'I'm sorry, I don't have any water but would you like a tie. We have a nice sale of ties today.'"
"Whereupon the Taliban erupted into a stream of language that I can't repeat, about Israel, about Jewish people, about the man himself, about his family, and just said, 'I need water, you try to sell me ties, you people don't get it.' The merchant stood there until the Taliban was through with his diatribe and said, 'Well I'm sorry I don't have water for you and I forgive you for all of the insults you've levied against me, my family, my country. But I will help you out. If you go over that hill and walk about two miles there is a restaurant there and they will have all the water you need.' And the Taliban, instead of saying thanks, still muttering under his breath, disappears over the hill, only to come back an hour later, and walking up to the merchant says, 'You're brother tells me a I need a tie to get into the restaurant.'"
That's it? OK, Henny Youngman, he's not. But we're not talking about the second coming of Haman, either. After reading the reactions to Jones' joke, though, you would have thought that the beleaguered soldier-diplomat had shook up the crowd with a few gratuitous references to Shylock, the Elders of the Protocol of Zion - or, at the very least, a disparaging comment about my personal hero, Sandy Koufax. Still, more than a few critics projected onto Jones - and by extension, the Obama White House - positions that one normally associates with your garden-variety anti-Semite.
The most interesting takeaway from this eminently forgettable affair was the reaction from the familiar roster on the right. Turns out that this crew, which can be depended upon to issue scarifying denunciations of political correctness was, well, as priggishly politically correct as their left-wing counterparts. A representative sample:
That didn't seem in the realm earlier ithis week with both sides appearing resigned to yet another stalemate - maybe not as bitter as the fight they waged over health care, but clearly, it was not shaping up to be a love-fest. Republicans had mocked the Democrats' $50 billion wind-down fund as a "permanent bailout." Democrats returned the favor with Harry Reid coming close to describing the Republican Senate Leadership in a letter - co-signed by Banking Chairman Chris Dodd - as corrupt.
"With 1,500 Wall Street lobbyists trying to water down our bipartisan efforts to hold Wall Street accountable, it is past time for (Minority Leader) Senator McConnell to come clean regarding the nature of his closed-door meetings with Wall Street executives," the letter said. "It's been 12 days since he and Senator Cornyn met secretly with two dozen Wall Street executives to scheme about killing reform. The public deserves to know who attended this meeting and what promises were made by Republicans to big banks."
But verbal pyrotechnics notwithstanding, the respective leaderships seem to be standing down. Indeed, McConnell said he thought that an agreement may be within reach. Speaking Tuesday on the Senate floor, McConnell described himself as "heartened to hear that bipartisan talks have resumed in earnest." At a meeting later with reporters, he said that despite some remaining flaws in the proposed legislation, "I'm convinced now there is a new element of seriousness attached to this, rather than just trying to score political points. . . . I think that's a good sign."
Meanwhile, Dodd and Richard Shelby, the respective leaders of their parties in the Senate banking committee, also reported progress in the latest round of negotiations. Shelby came out to describe the session as "the best environment since December...I think we're going to get there," Shelby said. "I'm optimistic because I think we've got a few days to negotiate, and the spirit is good."
So what changed? Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has been working the phone lines and it may be bearing fruit. After meeting with Geithner, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) offered praise for the work done on the bill. Are the Democrats ready to trade the $50 billion fund, which was supposed to be funded by the financial services industry, in return for GOP support? If so, they probably can afford to negotiate that one away. Right now they're in a better bargaining position than they were during the healthcare debate. A poll commissioned by the White House and Senate Democrats found overwhelming public support for tougher financial regulations. (And now two Republican senators, Maine's Olympia Snowe and Tennessee's Bob Corker, may be ready to vote for passage. As Democratic pollster Geoff Garin told the Los Angeles Times. when it comes to this issue, "the only people who see benefit in maintaining the status quo are the higher-ups on Wall Street."
But after meeting with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner Monday afternoon, one half of the Maine option apparently is back in play.
While Susan Collins appears to be out - at least for now - Olympia Snowe said she was optimistic that Democrats would modify their current bill to make it more palatable to moderate Republicans. She added that there wasn't "that much of a gap" between the sides.
"I encouraged [Geithner] on the issue of bipartisanship and he was optimistic on that issue. I don't think it will be impossible, but as I urged the Secretary today, it is vital we ensure that the broad strokes of a bipartisan agreement are reached prior to debate on the Senate floor. We need to address the proposed consumer protection bureau and the best way to avoid another taxpayer-funded bailout, among other things. I also shared my deep concern that we push the vast derivative trading market onto transparent exchanges and we eliminate any chance that taxpayers money will be used to support misplaced bets.Snowe also repeated the standard Democratic line about the need to take "drastic steps to rein in reckless Wall Street practices" to prevent a repeat situation where financial institutions again wind up at the brink.
A bi-partisan charade or an expression of serious intent to cross party lines? Left wing Dems still nurse bruised feelings incurred during the health care reform battle. That's when Democrats thought they had won Snowe's support and they remain convinced she played them. But considering Wall Street's plunging public popularity, it might be easier for Snowe to trade her vote in return for winning a compromise that Democrats can still live with.
That's assuming, of course, she can hold out against Mitch McConnell and his posse. Deja vu all over again, as the immortal Yogi Berra was reputed to have put it? We'll see.
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