ThinkFast: October 27, 2009

Hundreds of protesters from the Service Employees International Union and National People’s Action picketed the offices of Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo yesterday, calling for strong regulatory reform and the breaking up of big banks. The protests coincided with the annual meeting of the American Bankers Association, the trade group of the banking industry.

After “nine months of being nearly invisible,” President Bush spoke to nearly 15,000 people yesterday at a motivational seminar in Forth Worth, TX. Bush “used much of his 28 minutes onstage to talk about lighter topics such as picking out a rug design for the Oval Office that reflected his “optimism.” Attendees said they enjoyed his speech, although they acknowledged that he “wasn’t the best speaker.”

Foreign Service officer Matthew Hoh has resigned in protest over the continuation of the Afghan war. “We want to have some kind of governance there, and we have some obligation for it not to be a bloodbath,” Hoh told the Washington Post. “But you have to draw the line somewhere, and say this is their problem to solve.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) decision to include an opt-out public option in the health care bill headed to the floor “means that he will need the votes of all 60 members of the Democratic Caucus to move it forward.” Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) said in a statement, “I am deeply disappointed with the Majority Leader’s decision to include a public option as the focus of the legislation.”


Despite its aggressive attempts at green marketing, Toyota has stated that it refuses to join other companies and leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over the alliance’s refusal to recognize global warming. A Toyota spokeswoman also said the company opposes a cap-and-trade program. Political Action has launched a campaign to tell Toyota to stop opposing clean energy.

Refuting conservative claims about global cooling, the AP’s Seth Borenstein “gave temperature data to four independent statisticians” in a blind test and “the experts found no true temperature declines over time.” “Saying there’s a downward trend since 1998 is not scientifically legitimate,” said retired Duke University professor David Peterson, who criticized “people coming at the data with preconceived notions.”

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) has proposed “freezing interest rates and fees on existing credit card balances” until some key provisions of a credit card law take effect next February. The bill is necessary because banks are raising rates “to squeeze customers,” Dodd said, adding, “At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet, jacked-up rates can quickly create crushing debt.”

“The F.B.I.’s collection of wiretapped phone calls and intercepted e-mail has been soaring in recent years, but the bureau is failing to review ‘significant amounts’ of such material partly for lack of translators,” a new Justice Department report found. “Not reviewing such material increases the risk that the F.B.I. will not detect information in its possession that may be important,” said the report.

And finally: It may not be surprising to most people that President Bush was a “Jack Bauer kind of guy.” The UK Daily Express reveals that a few years ago when Bush ran into Carlos Bernard, one of the stars of the show “24,” Bush was dying to know if Bernard’s character, Tony Almeida, was a goner. Bernard said that while at a baseball game, “A big guy came up to me and said, ‘Excuse me, the President would like to speak with you.’ I went over, and it was George W. Bush, and he said ‘Hey Carlos, when are you coming out of that coma? All I can do is watch that show of yours. Are you coming back?’ I was like, ‘You don’t have anything better to do?’”

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