I have to go build a wall along the Venice shore to keep out the inevitable oil spill now, so here’s your consolation prize:

• Paul Volcker sounds optimistic (contra Bob Corker) about financial reform happening this year. And he’s still focused on shrinking the financial sector as a key to really making the system safe. If too big to fail remains in the lexicon after this year, Congress has failed. More here.

• 1994 redux? Stan Greenberg, top Democratic pollster, says maybe. Actually, he says “We’re on the edge of it, but we’re not there.”

• Along with today’s offshore drilling statement came an announcement about greening the federal fleet. In fact, the Administration announced today that they would buy the first 100 Chevy Volts off the assembly line as part of the federal transportation infrastructure. Of course, the Nissan Leaf plans to sell cheaper. Liberal spenders!

• Mental health experts love the new health care law, because it expands mental health parity – the mandate of coverage of mental health on par with physical health – to an entire new subset of individuals. It could be a step forward – but watch out for lobbyists trying to attack it.

• Atul Gawande sees a long road for health care reform to rescue it from those who would see it fail, but he’s particularly interested in using the cost-control mechanisms to prove the concept of things like bundling payments.

• Look at that, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, thought to be allied with banking interests, just came out for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, essentially calling the criticism that consumer protection would conflict with bank safety and soundness a bogus argument.

• Expect the rumbling about Michael Steele to grow louder, but I don’t think he’ll be fired because Republicans seem to value optics more than Democrats. If Steele is fired, they’d basically have to admit that something is wrong. And GOPers don’t like to do that (see the six-year reign of Donald Rumsfeld).

• The Administration keeps digging on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Honestly, why did the President bother to say he would end the policy this year in the State of the Union if they were not prepared to carry it out with any strategy in the months following? Why intentionally shoot yourself in the foot?

• Democrats appear to be coming back a bit in Ohio, one of a few Senate races where Dems could pick up a seat if the environment becomes more favorable.

• The climate denialist groups are happy today because of the offshore drilling decision, and also because of the millions and millions of dollars they get to fund their operations from Koch Industries. Remember the last time you saw “Koch Industries,” one of the biggest funders of the conservative movement, in a major US newspaper? Yeah, me neither.

• This deficit commission bears some serious watching. Social Security absolutely looks like it will be in the center ring. If the President wants to finally break the entire Democratic Party against him, he can endorse benefit cuts.

• Marcy’s more of an expert on this, but Judge Walker’s judgment for Al Haramain in an illegal wiretapping case looks quite important. She follows up here, suggesting that the Justice Department will give in and settle the case (I don’t see what choice they have).

• The SEC sounds like a regulator, probing banks on their use of the same “Repo 105” loophole that Lehman Brothers used to hide their true financial picture.

• Really, we’re giving more money to the makers of the propagandistic Education Department videos from the Bush years?

• The criminal investigation for former Florida GOP Chair Jim Greer actually hurts both Senate candidates there; Greer is a longtime Charlie Crist ally, but the charges involved – lavish spending and personal aggrandizement – are the same allegations being lobbed at Marco Rubio.

• Check out the charter school that doubles as a nightclub in West Philly – or, if you prefer, Arne Duncan’s vision of paradise. (UPDATE: they shut down the nightclub.)

• And a Sharia court in Nigeria just banned Facebook and Twitter because users were improperly debating decisions made by the court. Reading certain Twitter feeds – Chuck Todd’s comes to mind – I can’t say I quibble with the whole “banning” thing.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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