Bad News and Good News -- On the one hand, these are the days when those of us who are anxiety prone have our buckets full of worrisome news. On the other hand, is one looks just a bit further into each of the following cases, there is also more positive news to be found.
- Yesterday's primary elections upset incumbents, but incumbency alone may not alone be enough to assure defeat this year.
- British Petroleum's drill rig disaster in the Gulf is spreading oil further east, but Congress and the Obama administration are already looking to re-regulate this out of control industry, as well as fully hold it financially accountable.
- Senate financial regulation reform legislation was blocked by Wall Street's influence on Tuesday, but already this bill has had a much easier path towards a successful outcome that did the health care reform legislation.
- Ash still discharges from Iceland's volcano, but a number of UK and European bound airline passengers were able to complete their journeys.
Congressional approval ratings are at all-time lows and there will always be surprises, but with 31 of 50 state filing deadlines now passed and primary season heating up, the fact is that there are very few members who have much to fear from a serious intraparty challenge. And several who do make the list are defending themselves against attacks on ethics or other special circumstances rather than criticism of their years in Congress. . . Other serious primaries appear to have more to do with circumstances surrounding the Member than they do with a general anti-incumbent mood.
Gulf's loop current is drawing BP oil disaster towards the Florida Keys -- And Congress is increasing its pressure for tighter regulation of the oil and gas industry. And Congress is attempting to remove the ceiling on the amount of damages BP will be required to pay claimants. Such change is very likely to follow as more is discovered. To quote Reuters:
Congressional pressure on federal agencies, especially the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, is likely to lead to tighter rules for the oil and natural gas sector. . . Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson are scheduled to answer lawmakers' questions regarding the rig disaster on Tuesday.
Executives from BP Plc and Transocean Ltd will also face more congressional grilling this week.
BP is already facing legislation that would make the company pay more for the economic damages resulting from the rig accident. Meanwhile, the White House last week offered its own legislative plan to pay for the spill.
'Volker Rule' amendment blocked by Senate Republicans using procedural tactics on Tuesday -- The Merkley-Levin amendment "would toughen the Dodd bill's language on the so-called 'Volcker rule' to bar banks from proprietary trading for their own accounts, get them out of the hedge fund business, and limit their future growth," according to Reuters. However, the Washington Post reported a couple of days ago that the President's terms for financial regulation reform legislation remain surprisingly intact. To quote the story's opening paragraphs:
In the air over Iceland: Michael J.W. Stickings, editor of The Reaction will be spending some time in Great Britain. His Email upon arrival in the UK illustrates that it was possible to actually make the trip on a day when it was very "iffy" for all passengers traveling across the northern Atlantic. To quote:
The Senate this week could hand President Obama his second major legislative victory of the year, both on administration priorities that seemed in doubt not long ago.
Passage of a 1,400-page bill to overhaul the nation's financial regulations would come just two months after Obama signed a landmark health-care overhaul. But in the case of financial regulation, much more so than with health care, the Senate bill largely reflects the administration's initial blueprint, despite the fervent efforts of lobbyists and lawmakers of all stripes to alter it.
It was an interesting trip . . . in Iceland, they told us they were trying to get the plane out ASAP, as there were concerns the airport in Reykjavik would be shut down. But we had also heard that the departure time for our connecting flight to Heathrow had been moved up prior to our arrival there. And then, as we were waiting to board, we heard that Heathrow was closing. So we honestly had no idea what was awaiting us when we got on the plane . . . we got to Iceland on time . . . We had to wait a couple of hours before they got us out to London, as they were preparing to shut down, but we made it.
By nature I am an optimist, but as a consumer of television news, I am challenged to look for silver linings in an extremely cloudy political atmosphere as portrayed by the mainstream media's 24/7 news cycle.. The world wide web is the perfect antidote to a relatively poisonous and pessimistic news climate.