Daniel Stone

Stories by Daniel Stone

  • Presidential Vacations Depend on Who Takes Them

    Only a few days into his weeklong getaway on Martha's Vineyard, President Obama has shown he can stretch his vacation muscle. He was photographed this morning playing a round of golf with a plan to squeeze in some tennis in the afternoon. In response to a question about what the first family has planned for the rest of the week, a White House spokesman says that even Obama himself doesn't have a ─schedule─the true shaking of the organizational leash that comes with the presidency. We're also told he won't be making any public appearances.All presidents take some time off this time of year, but in decidedly different ways. Some have used August to have surgery, while others try to reconnect with their families and home towns. We bring you the more colorful, contrived or just plain peculiar presidential vacations on which Secret Service has had to tag along. A president might be able to keep a low profile on vacation, but it's an uphill battle to completely...
  • Impossible? Commerce Secretary Locke Appeases Both Environmentalists and Industry Heads

    It's a tough, even mythical thing to do, to find middle ground for both environmental and business interests in one fell swoop. But both groups seem to be approving a move made late last night by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Addressing issues of collapsing fisheries and the decline of ocean health that is leading to and being caused by climate change, Locke made a sweeping move to limit the expansion of commercial fishing in U.S. waters in the north Pacific. Set to go into effect as soon as next year, the plan would halt increased industrial fishing over a 200,000-square-mile area in the icy waters of the Beaufort Sea as scientists can further research local species like Arctic cod and snow crab currently over sought by commercial vessels.Issues of commercial fishing often come with intense economic undertones. Demand for scaled creatures currently stands at a worldwide high, especially for the species that humans eat most, like Atlantic cod and Bluefin tuna. But populations...
  • Kennedy’s Absence Unfortunate for Democrats

    February 10 of this year was a big day in the United States Senate. It was the day the full body voted to approve President Obama’s $787 billion economic-stimulus package, the biggest amount of money attached to a single bill in Senate history. But it was also the last time that Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts appeared on the Senate floor. Only once since has Kennedy been seen in public, for a White House forum on health care in March. And he was noticeably missing from the funeral of his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, earlier this week. The reason, of course, traces back to Kennedy's private fight with a malignant brain tumor that doctors diagnosed last fall as terminal.It’s certainly a difficult time for Kennedy and his family, and his colleagues seem to have cut the lion of the Senate a pass for as long as he needs. But legislative calculus is far less forgiving. And Kennedy’s extended leave can be felt in the chamber. After some party-switching early this year and a late...
  • Guns at Obama Rallies: Where's the Outrage?

    It was surprising the first time it happened. Last week, Secret Service officials discovered a man carrying a concealed semiautomatic weapon at a town-hall meeting hosted by President Obama. "How could that happen?" was the question that followed, at one point from the lips of Chris Matthews, who scolded the flippant offender in a nationally televised interview. The whole episode would be worthy of a nervous head shake if it was the only instance. But over the weekend, a different protester attended an Obama rally in Arizona, this time with an assault rifle in plain view over his shoulder. What followed─a few wire stories and some Web video─was the equivalent of a truncated, national yawn. The reasoning that quelled any spark of alarm or display of concern, was that technically, it's legal. In a state like Arizona (and more than a dozen others) carrying a weapon is perfectly permissible. Our hands are tied, said local police, who had the arduous duty of explaining to...
  • Cheney Shopping Tell-All Book (But What Will He Tell?)

    Loyalty is everything in Washington, a town in which it's most elusive. The White House survives and thrives on it; staffers both high level and low tend to fall in line directly behind the president during an administration. But after it ends, do the rules change? They do if you're Dick Cheney, who's made it very clear in recent weeks that his loyalty, and even friendship, with his former boss were far less than cuddly in the latter years of the Bush administration. An account last month in Time detailed an 11th-hour spat between Bush and Cheney over the lack of pardon for the vice president's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, in the Plamegate scandal. But there was apparently more to their eroding relationship than just that episode. Now Cheney says he plans to open the floodgates, offering a full and largely uncensored account of what actually happened in the Bush White House. "The statute of limitations has expired," Cheney has told his biographer,...
  • Obama Preps for Protesters

      Until now, President Obama has taken a relatively hands-clean approach to health-care policy, holding press conferences at times of his choosing and sending his frontman, Robert Gibbs, to respond to criticism about the president's proposal for reform. But today Obama heads into the trenches to do a town-hall meeting on his own, the first of four that the White House has planned this week. Later this afternoon, Obama will speak to residents of Portsmouth, N.H., inside a high-school gym, addressing some of the latest concerns surrounding his vision for expanding the American health-care system.Debates on the topic across the country have been far less than civil in recent weeks. Angry mobs of people, first on the conservative side and then on both sides of the issue, have been disrupting congressional town halls with loud rants. Those people know the president's town hall today will be heavily covered, which nearly guarantees vocal displays. The Tea Party Coalition, a...
  • We Read It So You Don't Have To: What Can We Glean About Obama's Sense of Humor?

    Holding the reins of the federal government means walking a fine line. You can't be seen as too stoic and stiff, lest you be branded as arrogant and out of touch. On the other hand, even just one moment of unfiltered goofiness could paint you as an unfocused dunce horsing around on the job. Such is the challenge facing President Obama, which Matt Bai picks apart in this week's New York Times Magazine. And Obama, contrary to his predecessors, has taken a new approach to humor in the White House. "The president, it turns out, is quite funny—and sometimes a little reckless," writes Bai.Indeed, Obama's stuck his foot in his mouth more than a couple times, trying to lighten the mood. Before his comment last month about how a Cambridge, Mass., police officer "acted stupidly," the president made an almost squirm-worthy joke about how, if he weren't president, he'd probably be shot trying to get into the White House. That came after an incident...
  • Are Any Pols More Popular Than They Were Six Months Ago?

    President Obama has been learning lately that politics is a zero-sum game. When someone wins, someone else always loses. For a while, it was Obama doing the winning; his 53-46 percent victory in November came at the expense, of course, of John McCain and GOP voters. Lately, though, Obama has been slipping. His approval rating now sits at 56 percent, down from a high of 69 back in January, according to Gallup. But here's a question: if Obama's losing, who's winning? Certainly not members of his administration, who have also taken minor hits. Vice President Joe Biden started at a 52 percent rating earlier this year but has since lost about five points, says a CNN poll. Same with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (in the same poll), who dropped from 66 percent several months ago to 61. Not even health-policy purveyor Sen. Ted Kennedy, who has taken leave from the Senate to fight a malignant brain tumor, has escaped without losing a few points of support.It's fair...
  • Resigners Anonymous? We Compare Paula and Palin

    We here at the Gaggle do politics, but we couldn't help take note of Paula Abdul's recent departure as a judge on American Idol after eight seasons. The staging of her leave looks oddly familiar, we thought to ourselves. After all, it was only a month ago that we witnessed an equally bizarre and sudden exit of another big player in her own field: Sarah Palin. It turns out both women and their resignations are far more similar than they are different. Let's pick apart the comparison:...
  • Sotomayor Wins Confirmation by Full Senate

    Conservative groups and lawmakers, many of which opposed Sotomayor from the beginning, conceded in recent weeks that barring extraordinary circumstances, the judge would have little difficulty winning confirmation. Sen. Orrin Hatch, who cast one of the votes against Sotomayor, said after the vote that he hoped the new justice would adhere to the rule of law and not shape her record as a judicial activist. But despite the confirming vote, some conservative leaders looked on the bright side. The right-leaning group Committee for Justice put out a statement after the vote calling Sotomayor's confirmation a "conservative victory." "Those of us committed to restoring the rule of law to the federal judiciary have many things to be happy about in how Sotomayor's confirmation battle played out," said Curt Levey, the group's director, which, he explained in detail, included the mounting of a formidable opposition and the signals conservatives sent to the W...
  • Graham Redeems Himself, Sotomayor Sails to Senate

    If the road to becoming a Supreme Court justice is paved with obstacles, then Sonia Sotomayor just jumped over the penultimate one. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted this morning to approve Sotomayor's nomination, which puts the only thing now standing between her and the high bench is a full vote in the senate. Predictable, yes, especially after weeks of speculation that she'd have no problem being seated. But what was surprising was Sen. Lindsey Graham, who delivered a thoughtful statement before the vote about Sotomayor's qualifications and the significance of her nomination as a Latino woman. This is the same Lindsey Graham, forget not, who berated the judge and condescended her by reading anonymous reviews of her fierce questioning style on the bench. "Do you have a temperament problem?" he asked flatly at one point, opening himself to heavy criticism as he became the news of the day, rather than Sotomayor.Today, though, he was singing a different...
  • Bunning Quits, Makes 2010 Race Harder (Not Easier) for Democrats

    Things haven't looked too good for Sen. Jim Bunning for a few months now. In April, the Kentucky senator's approval rating sat just under 30 percent and at the end of June, he had raised a mere $500,000 for his re-election bid a year and a half away--measly compared to the multiple millions that serious candidates have raked in by now. Which is exactly why the two-term senator announced today that he wouldn't be seeking another term. "To win a general election, a candidate has to be able to raise millions of dollars to get the message out to voters," Bunning said in a statement. "The simple fact is that I have not raised the funds necessary to run an effective campaign for the U.S. Senate. For this reason, I will not be a candidate for re-election in 2010."In the echo chamber of Washington chattering, it's a good day for Democrats, who are already invigorated with a supermajority of 60 seats. Now Bunning is out of the picture, taking with him...
  • 'Wise Latina' Debate Put to Rest

    For four days now, Judge Sonia Sotomayor has been asked and answered dozens of questions, some about her record, some about her personal history. Though no issue has been the topic of as many questions as Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comment, a remark the judge made in speeches on more than half a dozen occasions, suggesting that her life experiences as a Latina woman would lead to better judicial conclusions than conclusions by white men. The members questioning her on the Senate Judiciary Committee─all of whom are white, most of whom are men─have taken the comment as evidence that Sotomayor would be a judicial radical on the bench, legislating the will of the demographic groups she represents. So everyone in the hearing room took notice when Sen. Lindsey Graham (who's led the way, by far, in condescending questions) tried to put the issue to rest. As his time to ask questions was winding down, he gave Sotomayor the floor. "Last question on the 'wise...
  • Top 5 Moments from Sotomayor's Third Day

    Sonia Sotomayor knows exactly what she must do to be confirmed, and that's very little. If she doesn't say too much, she can't muddy the wide respect across party lines that all but guarantee her a spot on the high court. But even if legal experts aren't learning much about what kind of justice Sotormayor may be, members of the judiciary committee (as well as Sotomayor herself) are doing their best to keep the mood light. Here are the top five moments so far from the judge's third day under the lights....
  • Long Throat-Clearing from Committee Before Sotomayor Speaks

    We knew that today would be a day of scripted formalities on the Hill. The time line for the confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor label today, Monday, as a day for opening statements, meaning that all of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee would get to exclaim her virtues or air their concerns before she even said a word. First it was committee chairman Patrick Leahy, who exalted the sheer fact that Sotomayor was sitting in front of him as "historic." Then ranking GOP member Jim Sessions accused her of being an activist judge who would ignore the law to rule from her own instinct. "Can we limit opening statements to 10 minutes?" Leahy politely asked the committee--but was really telling them. Several more members of the committee made opening remarks, many of them echoing each other, then the body took two breaks, one for recess and one for lunch. Now, considering it's been almost six weeks since we've heard Sotomayor speak publicly, we...
  • List of 11: Who Didn't Sotomayor Meet With?

    Since President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor six weeks ago, the judge has met with a whopping 89 senators, more than any other previous SCOTUS nominee. Yet as high as that number is, that still leaves 11 members of the senate who Sotomayor didn't talk with before her hearings. Who are they? Meetings were deemed futile with Sens. Pat Roberts of Kansas and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, both of whom have adamantly opposed Soyomayor's nomination, promising to vote against it. She was also unable to meet or talk with senate elders Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, who have both taken time off to deal with health ailments. That leaves Wyoming Senators John Barrasso and Michael Enzi, Kit Bond of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana, John Ensign of Nevada and Arizona's John McCain. Bob Corker of Tennessee initially called off his meeting with the justice-in-waiting after she called to say she'd be 10 minutes late,...
  • Obama Makes Early, Unflattering Appearance on Mount Rushmore

    Mount Rushmore is the kind of monument reserved for only the best U.S. presidents. The likenesses of only four—Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Lincoln, and Jefferson—appear on the South Dakota rock structure. But environmental-activist group Greenpeace, both famous and notorious (depends who's asking) for its bold environmental protests, figured Barack Obama deserved to be there. Yet not quite for the reason you might think. Right next to the Lincoln sculpture, Greenpeace climbers unveiled a face-sized banner (65 by 35 feet) of Obama's face with the words "America Honors Leaders, Not Politicians: Stop Global Warming." The message was crafted to call out Obama for dragging his feet on global climate policy as he heads into the G8 policy conference this week in Italy. “While President Obama’s speeches on global warming have been inspiring, we’ve seen a growing gap between the president’s words and his actions,” Carroll Muffett, who heads Greenpeace campaigns, said...
  • LA Officials Irked Over Jackson Costs

    Michael Jackson's memorial might have brought closure and catharsis today to his thousands of fans in Los Angeles, but the real man looking in the mirror? L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The cost of producing the event was covered by production company AEG, but securing the Staples Center and the surrounding area fell in the lap of the LAPD. Even though only 11,000 tickets were granted, more than 250,000 people were anticipated in the area (grossly overshot, only about 1,000 ticketless people actually showed), which led city officials to expect the cost of securing the event to hit $4 million, all billed to the city's taxpayers. It has created quite a rift among city council members in L.A.—a city currently with more than a $520 million deficit. Not to mention the state's struggles; California faces a potential shutdown of public services this summer for being so low on cash. "There was never any doubt in the mayor's mind that this event needed to happen,...
  • Franken Hugs It Out On First Day

    You've got to hand it to Al Franken. It's pretty hard to become the most popular kid in school on the first day, but Minnesota's newest senator had no problem making friends on day one in his official capacity. Since arriving on Capitol Hill yesterday, Franken has been surrounded by reporters -- dozens of notepads and sound booms at every corner. He's been noticeably disciplined not to answer questions and has managed to keep impressively composed--tough for a former SNL cast member and career comedian. Senate camaraderie usually plays out most visibly, and with maximum showiness, on the senate floor. Minnesota's other senator Amy Klobuchar introduced Franken. "I always told Al his third year of campaigning would be his best," she quipped to huge laughs from the gallery. (Minnesota, we never knew this side of you!). Franken, on arrival, gave a few awkward-looking hellos before the cool kids -- Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer and a few others -- surrounded him for several...
  • How Lobbyists Will Break In Franken

    Call him what you will—ridiculous, heroic, a clown—but beginning next week, Al Franken will officially be known as Senator. Despite the disadvantage of getting a late start, having a fresh face will make him the newest object of attention on Capitol Hill. Other members will want to meet him and anxious staffers will ask for photos. But that's small peanuts. For lobbyists, there are few things more valuable than pushing a crisp business card into the palm of a new member with a blank slate.Lobbying by nature is a competitive sport—there's only so much time and money to be divvied out. In Washington, the value is highest, where national legislation or federal contracts can translate into big money for interest groups that have an issue to push. Add to the equation Franken's untimely arrival in the midst of huge debates on climate change and health care and the price for Franken's ear will be high. So how does Washington's massive lobby machine break in the...
  • John Taylor: Set Regulations "Other Countries Can't Thwart"

    Our D.C. politics wonk, Dan Stone, normally resides over at the The Gaggle, but is making an appearance here after checking in with former economics adviser John Taylor on the state of global regulatory developments. --KP It's still up in the air whether the worst of the financial crisis has passed. In the here and now, the undeniable--and more immediate--question is over how to strengthen the lax financial regulations that toppled the first domino.Economists say when recovery eventually comes, the resulting growth will likely be a product of a new regulatory structure devised by the world's governments. But the world's a big place. Government leaders may generally agree on a broad global framework of investing and trade restrictions, but getting each national government to play ball in actually setting and enforcing the regulations makes for tricky business."A lot of the financial institutions now are global, they're multinational. If the treatments are too...
  • A "Suppressed" EPA Report? Not Exactly

    Congress is on recess this week for the July 4 holiday. But the quiet in Washington has only amplified a flap between some members of congress and administration officials over an allegedly "suppressed" report from the Environmental Protection Agency. The document, which hasn't been released in its entirety (an incomplete draft is here), supposes that global temperatures have actually decreased over the past decade, essentially undercutting the key cause of global warming. Al Carlin, the EPA employee who authored the report, has only fanned the flames. He appeared twice on Fox News (which has been covering the story regularly according to media watchdog Media Matters) to not-so-subtly suggest an EPA internal conspiracy fueled by the environmental movement. Sen. James Inhofe, the ardent climate-change denier from Oklahoma, immediately jumped on the story, seeing an opportunity to validate all those years he railed against the "faulty science" of global...
  • Climate Bill Passes House, Uncertain Future in Senate

    After six and a half hours of debate Friday afternoon, the house passed the American Clean Energy & Security Act, the broadest piece of climate legislation ever considered by congress. The measure, in short, would set up a cap and trade system to regulate carbon, aiming to cut emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by the end of the century. Republicans broadly opposed the measure for the inevitable rise in taxes and energy prices that providers would pass along to consumers. But Democrats argued it would create new industry and jobs, allowing American energy innovation to lead the rest of the world. (Under the bill, electric companies would have to pull at least six percent of energy from renewable sources within three years).Nearing the end of the afternoon's debate, minority leader John Boehner took to the floor for his allotted two and a half minutes to speak. He extended his remarks over an hour in the style of a filibuster, usually a senate...