Tales from the Trail

Warren sees dark times if financial reform fails


Elizabeth Warren paints a disturbing picture of the realities facing the United States and the Obama administration as Americans claw their way clear of the worst recession since the 1930s.

Lobbyists for the financial industry have put the kibosh on market reforms that would aid the recovery. Banks, saved from Tartarus by¬†taxpayer money, are using a free government guarantee against failure to rebuild profits and credit ratings, while either not lending to business or trying to milk American consumers of every dime they’ve still got.

“That’s our plan to rebuild the American economy. Think about it,” says the bespectacled Harvard professor who chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel set up to investigate the $700 billion banking bailout.

“What the government is doing right now is, it’s permitting a set of rules that says, in effect: ‘Hey, banks. We will lend to you at zero and you go out there and figure out what you can squeeze out of every American family. No new rules’,” she told MSNBC.

Why have the rules not changed? “There are very powerful interests that believe that they can profit from keeping status quo.”

GOP’s Steele – political elite has been blind-sided

Recent electoral wins have pulled the Republican Party out of a tailspin that started at the height of its power in 1994, but it will be well-selected local candidates, more than the national party, that drives the agenda in November’s mid-term elections.

So says Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSMost political pundits expect the GOP to pick up many House and Senate seats in the fall as part of a backlash against the incumbent Democrats and frustration over the weak economy and high unemployment.

“This fall I think you’ll see much more reliance on the candidates carrying the water in their states,” rather than the national party apparatus, Steele said during a lively exchange with students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Obama to engage in beer diplomacy

Over the decades, we’ve had ping-pong diplomacy, shuttle diplomacy and cowboy diplomacy. And now we’ve got beer diplomacy.

President Barack Obama is going to sit down for a beer on Thursday night at a picnic table outside the Oval Office with the two main players in a racially charged case — Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge, Massachusetts, police Sergeant James Crowley.BASKETBALL/

The first diplomatic task may be in selecting the beer for each attendee.

Crowley told Obama he wants Blue Moon, a Belgian-style white beer brewed by Molson Coors. Gates is said to prefer either Red Stripe or Beck’s. Nothing fancy for Obama, who was criticized on the campaign trail for musing about the price of arugula. He is sticking with the good old American brand, Budweiser.