Tales from the Trail

Think brussels sprouts and cauliflower are agricultural commodities? Think again.

While the financial bailouts tossed to automakers, banks and other groups during the recent economic crisis left a funny taste in the mouth of some Americans, one former U.S. regulator hopes efforts to prevent another panic doesn’t go rotten.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is immersed in drafting dozens of rules to assist it in increasing oversight of the once opaque over-the-counter derivatives market, widely blamed for exacerbating the recent financial crisis. USA/

Among the rules it must craft is what the definition of an agricultural commodity is? Of course, corn, cotton, soybeans and livestock, among other items, fall into this realm.

 But what about those “other foods” such as brussels sprouts, artichokes, cauliflower, or anything with curry? A former CFTC chairman says they are “abhorrent to American sensibilities” and should be banned.

“Like every U.S. citizen, there are certain agricultural commodities that are abhorrent to me,” said Philip McBride Johnson, who is now with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Calm before the storm: Does silence on Warren signal decision soon?

An eerie calm has descended over the blogosphere after the feeding frenzy that broke out earlier this week on whether President Barack Obama was poised to name Elizabeth Warren to lead the new consumer financial agency.

The week started with an avalanche of stories and blogs speculating on the possibility of Obama naming Warren, a Harvard law professor, as an interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The move would have allowed Obama to avoid what would likely be a heated confirmation battle.

Lighting a fire off the campaign trail

Politicians rarely take a break from the campaign trail, but when they do they tend to choose mainstream R&R, unwinding on the golf course or tucked away on a private estate.

Not so John Mertens, a third-party candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Attendees of the annual Burning Man festival parade around a 50-foot effigy of a man at the annual event held in the Nevada desert August 30. The festival is an 'anything goes' event that's been described as "Mad Max meets Woodstock" and is expected to draw 20,000 free-sprited people.

The engineering professor turned candidate is off to Burning Man, a counterculture festival held each summer in the Nevada desert that ends with the burning of a 40-foot tall wooden sculpture. It will be his sixth time at the festival, which features extensive art exhibits but is also known for drug use and nudity.

Republicans savoring election prospects after Democrats drop out

Let the countdown begin.

USA/The 2010 election year has officially started and Republicans can barely contain their glee after two senior Senate Democrats announced they would not run again and a House Democrat switched to the Republican Party.

Right out of the New Year’s gate, Senate Democrats Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said they would not seek re-election in November.

Democrats control the Senate 60-40 which is just enough to overcome procedural hurdles and pass legislation without a single Republican vote. Republicans are expected to pick up seats, but not enough to win back control.

Lieberman likely to back some Republicans in 2010 election

Senator Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat-turned-independent, is at it again — comforting Republicans and irritating Democrats.

This time Lieberman is doing it by saying, “I probably will support some Republican candidates” in next year’s congressional election –  even though he’s still a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus. OBAMA/

“I’m going to call them as I see them,” he said in an interview with ABC News that the network posted on its web site on Friday.

No matter what, one White House hopeful will return to the Senate

WASHINGTON – When all is said and done with the 2008 presidential election, one of the contenders will be returning to the U.S. Senate,  a harsh reality after coming so close to the White House.

For the first time in 48 years a senator will capture the White House, either Republican Sen. John McCain or Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, while the other will go back to being one of 100 in the deliberative body.

But over 48 years, it has happened many times, most recently in 2004 when Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry lost to George W. Bush.