Etiquette Breakdown

With the "Tea Party" protesters descending on Washington last week, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank had to try to shut his office door on one who followed him from the committee room.

Speaking at a policy conference on Friday, the Massachusetts Democrat reminded people of the run-in he had last summer at a health-care town hall where he upbraided a woman who compared President Obama to Hitler. He said he had thought that was the debate's low point — until he saw Thursday's protest.

He then took a shot at Rep. Michele Bachmann, a member of his committee who has been a vigorous opponent of health-care reform and an outspoken right-wing critic of the Obama administration.

"I didn't know how good I had it," he said. "I had a feeling at some point yesterday that I was trapped in a furniture warehouse … . Some of the people arguing with me were the losers in the 'Are You Smarter than Michele Bachmann?' contest."

Just a Game?

Far from dissipating, the public's hatred of bankers appears to be building to a murderous rage — at least if a new iPhone game is anything to go by.

"Bailout Wars," from the French publisher Gameloft, features cash-hungry bankers trying to raid the White House for bailout cash; it's up to the player to stop them.

Players can fling bankers into the air, blow them up, slam them down, or shake them so hard their clothes fall off.

Given the pace of the onslaught, however, these measures are not enough. Players earn gold for each banker slain and eventually can use this wealth to buy and upgrade a sniper, tank or satellite laser-wielding Uncle Sam to help fend off the horde of bankers.

The body count can be high. In one session, more than 700 bankers kicked the bucket; 424 day traders, 185 stock brokers, 79 vice presidents of acquisitions, 78 high-risk investors and 29 chief executive officers died in less than 10 minutes.

Aside from the dubious morality of distributing a game that involves a wholesale slaughter of bankers, the game is addictive. As the game progresses, the bankers get faster and more plentiful, and upgrades grow ever more impressive. Firing a tank shell onto a field full of bankers is sick fun.

The game appears popular. It has gotten 95 reviews since its release on iTunes last month — most of them positive — and was a featured selection from Apple last week.

"I won't see my banker the same way now," wrote shizuka123 at the iTunes Web site.

The only criticism was that many players want to take the fight to bankers directly.

"We should be able to attack the banks and confiscate CEOs' private jets to recoup money!" wrote Game Reviewer.Com.

"Bailout Wars" is not the only iPhone app to play off of Tarp. "Bailout Ben," released in May, involves helping Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke lower cash to failing companies. "Bailout America," released in February, has the player moving obstacles out of the way to help Uncle Sam funnel more money to greedy bankers.

"Bag the Bankers," meanwhile, also released last month, requires dragging bankers into a bag and clawing back some cash.

It turns out there really is an iPhone app for everything.

Wall St. More Equal

Just when it seemed that the industry's image could hardly get worse, reports emerged last week that Wall Street firms have received swine flu vaccines despite the shortage nationwide.

"It is hard to believe that, at a time when even the most vulnerable in our society are unable to obtain H1N1 vaccinations, the government is sending doses to private firms on Wall Street," Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd said in a press release Thursday.

"People are frustrated by the government's response to this crisis, and with news like this, who can blame them?"

The Connecticut Democrat, who is in a tough reelection campaign amid charges that he has lost touch with his constituents, said the news was particularly hard to swallow considering the swine flu's impact on his state.

"Every day, I am receiving phone calls and letters from constituents in Connecticut about the difficulties they are facing with obtaining the H1N1 vaccine," Dodd wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, also on Thursday. "It is shocking to think that private firms would be prioritized ahead of hospitals when the vaccine supply cannot meet the demand."

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