Daniel Stone

Stories by Daniel Stone

  • Expletive in Arnold’s Veto an 'Odd Coincidence'

    California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may have built his reputation on being a tough guy, but some odd looks were exchanged around the Internet this morning when a letter the governor wrote to the state’s legislature was thought to have been decoded. In the five-sentence note, Arnold politely explained why he wouldn’t sign into law a fairly routine spending bill to finance the Port of San Francisco. But some astute folks noticed a far less courteous message lined up vertically along the left margin: "f--k you."We checked with the governor’s staff, who denies the expletive was deliberate. “It was just a weird coincidence,” says a senior staffer. To deflect attention, he pointed us toward other, what he calls “veto messages,” from this year, like “ear” and “poet” and “soap,” that are equally as random, albeit a bit more G-rated.If the message was indeed written by an angry staffer (or an angry Arnold) on purpose, it would have been an impressive feat of semantics. But if...
  • Environment Committee Republicans Ditch Climate Hearing

    Senate Republicans have made little secret of their intent to oppose cap-and-trade legislation. Last week Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe—possibly Congress's most vocal climate change skeptic and opponent of climate legislation—threatened that if environment committee chair Sen. Barbara Boxer tried any funny business before the markup of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, such as not giving members enough time to review it, he would lead a boycott of the meeting among all Republicans on the committee, on which he is the ranking member. It would have been a brazen move to slow the committee’s debate by simply not showing up, thus causing the body to not make quorum. But for a party impotently in a 7-12 minority, Inhofe recognized that his options are limited. “The only leverage we have is the quorum leverage,” he told The Washington Post late last week.Inhofe hasn’t yet had to make good on his promise. In fact, this morning when Boxer opened the first of several high...
  • Obama Won't Go to Copenhagen for Climate Conference

    Capturing a bit of news already rankling environmentalists, The Times Online is reporting that President Obama will not be speaking at the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December. For several months, Obama’s presence was considered possible, even likely, but after the president won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month, the White House discovered a small scheduling problem. Since the Nobel award ceremony, which Obama will attend, is on the second day of the conference, senior advisers figured Obama would just convey the U.S.’s climate and global-energy goals from his pulpit in Oslo—a city about 300 miles north that an unnamed administration official described as “plenty close” to Copenhagen.It wouldn’t have been very hard or expensive to make a side trip to Copenhagen on the way from or back to Washington, but one additional reason Obama will skip the conference likely has to do with the present state of negotiations, which have stalled over the past several months....
  • A Stimulus by Any Other Name . . . Would Probably Smell the Same

    Nancy Pelosi proved again today that members of Congress are no strangers to euphemizing. At a meeting this morning on Capitol Hill, Pelosi discussed a second round of stimulus spending that could soon be in order. But cognizant of growing aversion to additional federal spending, the speaker tiptoed around what it would be called.Speaking before reporters and other members of Congress, Pelosi called upon the thinking of several economists, including Decision Economics chief Allen Sinai and Economy.com’s Mark Zandi, to vouch for the need for more spending. This time, some of them have affirmed, federal dollars would be best directed toward states—especially broke ones like California and New York—to keep them from raising taxes or laying off public employees. Pelosi’s main talking point, and her reasoning for considering a second round of spending, has been that the recession has caused employers to think about ways to do more with less, and with fewer people. So even when the...
  • Mustached American of the Year?

    Now, we know what you’re thinking. Trust us, we’re thinking it too. (And no, it’s not the shocking fact that America apparently considers growing a mustache a competitive sport, which already blew our mind this morning.) But Eric Holder? The country’s leading mustache? Come on, people. He’s nice-looking and affable and all, and yeah, he deals with some pretty sexy political issues, but the country’s model ’stache? This is the person who represents American mustaches to the rest of the world. He’s our upper-lipped ambassador. Our dimple-fuzzed diplomat. Our . . . our . . . ’stached superintendent? OK, we’re done. But seriously, has the nomination committee even seen this guy, or this guy, or even, wait, is that a woman? Yep, sure is. Now that’s impressive.All we’re trying to say is, if Holder wants to compete in a competition that any postpubescent boy can reasonably enter, he’s really got to pick up his game. We’re thinking handlebar loops with little curlicues.Defending the presti...
  • Chamber of Commerce Hits Back at Apple

    Midday yesterday, we reported over at the Gaggle that Apple was the latest company to break its ties to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce due to the business association’s stance on climate policy. Before then, four other large companies, including PG&E and Nike, had also severed all or part of their relations with the chamber, blaming the organization’s lobby efforts and rigid opposition to the cap-and-trade legislation making its way toward the Senate, which it claims would be a job killer....
  • At Chamber of Commerce, Member Exodus on Climate Issue a Big PR Problem

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hasn’t exactly minced its words in opposing the cap-and-trade legislation winding its way from the House to the Senate. The measure, it says, will kill jobs and lead to a slowing of business and thus, the economy. The national business group has used the same reasoning to lobby heavily against the Environmental Protection Agency’s additional efforts to limit emissions.Yet it’s becoming increasingly clear that not all of the organization’s members agree with that stance. It has about 3 million dues-paying businesses, but a growing number of large companies have jumped ship, canceling their subscriptions to the chamber’s business associations and lobby services. The slide started with utility giant PG&E lamenting the chamber’s "obstructionist tactics" on cap-and-trade. Two more large utility companies, PNM and Exelon, followed suit, along with Nike, which resigned its spot on the chamber’s board. Then, just as Silicon Valley was buzzing about...
  • Washington’s Funniest Celebrity? Hard to Say.

    Each year, Washington organizers put out a call for the district's funniest celebrity. And each year, what comes back is something of a groaner. It’s nobody’s fault, really. I mean, let’s be honest, D.C. isn’t exactly fertile ground for hilarity. Seriously, when was the last time you laughed uncontrollably about … health care? (“Go ahead, take end-of-life counseling! Really, take it!”)Last night was this year’s contest, an annual gathering of politicos, media types, and lobbyists exchanging a few homemade one-liners. The whole production is what might charitably be given an “A for effort." The lineup included Rep. Jackie Speier, U.S. News's Anna Mulrine, and chef Geoff Tracy. We don’t need to name names of who cracked jokes to crickets. We know it’s tough to get in front of a crowd and poke fun at yourself, especially when your job is to make people take you seriously. And plus, the event actually is designed as a charity benefit, so it’s all apparently for a good...
  • In Policy Toward Honduras, U.S. Government at Odds With Itself

    Manuel Zelaya speaks to a Venezuelan TV reporter on Tuesday. The deposed president sees an end approaching to the political crisis in Honduras. (Clip in Spanish)The political environment in Honduras remains deadlocked, with deposed president Manuel Zelaya holed up inside the Brazilian Embassy in Honduras with little food and no medical attention, still demanding his right to return to power. The situation has become so dire that the Organization for American States and other international groups have decried violations of human rights and a lack of press freedom instituted by the de facto government.The U.S. has been a big player in parsing out the mess. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Zelaya in early September when he visited Washington, after which she cut off $30 million in aid to Honduras until Zelaya was restored. Her position, and thus the official U.S. position, has been that Zelaya was democratically elected and was therefore illegally...
  • Climate Legislation Could Actually Spur Economic Growth

    If you’ve paid attention to the debate over cap-and-trade legislation, which has already begun its run through the Senate this week, you can easily spot the partisan arguments. Democrats and the liberal environmental groups that follow closely behind claim that in order to adequately mitigate climate change, we need to change how we think and what we do, starting with monitoring and taxing carbon emissions. Republicans, on the other side, see any departure from the current energy policy as an economic stop sign—an unnecessary burden that will reduce the incomes of the lower and middle classes.Over at Worldchanging magazine, executive editor Alex Steffen has some number crunching that seems to bunk some of the structure of the current debate. Critics of any form of climate bill argue that carbon-monitoring legislation would stunt economic activity. But could climate action, he asks, actually accelerate the growth of the economy? Through some nifty economic reasoning, the answer is...
  • Why Green Czar Van Jones Didn't Have to Resign

    Van Jones, the administration’s “green czar,” made news early Sunday after announcing he was resigning from his post at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. It’s normally a strategic move to announce unflattering news during a long holiday weekend, but Jones’s timing seemed to be at the behest of his critics. In recent weeks, several Hill Republicans have lobbed accusations that Jones was unfit to serve in the administration because of incendiary comments he made before assuming office in February. They also cited a questionable petition he signed in 2004 alleging that the 9/11 terrorist attacks may have been the work of the government. Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri called for a congressional hearing into Jones’s qualifications to serve. In his resignation statement, Jones took a swipe back. "On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me,” he wrote—then he left the building.Jones’s...
  • Zelaya's Well-Funded Tour of Washington: the Express Lane Back to Power

    In a large suite in Washington's Mayflower Hotel, Manuel Zelaya is surrounded by his brain trust. Several top advisers and diplomats drink coffee and talk strategy with the titular Honduran president, who was overthrown in a coup in late June and was removed from the country. But Zelaya isn't dwelling on the past. What matters to him now is getting his old job back, or at least winning back enough standing to return to his country. After he was denied reentry in early July, he made the rounds of Latin America to be seen with presidents and high-level ministers. It was helpful, but not enough. This week, he took his case to Washington. As others before him have learned, it is here that friendly chats with policymakers and earnest pleas for the rule of law can actually produce results: only yesterday, three days after Zelaya landed and immediately following a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the State Department announced that it would cut off $30 million in...
  • News You Can Haiku: End of Summer Recess Contest

    If we’ve learned anything over the past few weeks, it’s that even during congressional and presidential vacations, you can never completely pull the plug on politics. From those crazed town-hall meetings to new revelations about enhanced interrogations to a showy vacation on the Cape capped off by a sad public funeral, it’d be enough to fill a volume. But no, that would be too easy. Instead, here’s the challenge: help us sum up the August recess in a simple haiku. That’s right, just 17 syllables broken up into three lines, five-seven-five. Here are a few examples:Health care, climate, oy!At least Barack played some golfHats off to you, TedTown halls, loaded gunsA dynasty passes onBut will health reform? New torture detailsWhere is our leadership now?Appalachian TrailThink you can do better? Give us your best shot in the comments section below. We’ll profile the best ones in this space on Friday. And for first place, we’ll find you some NEWSWEEK swag.
  • Jean Kennedy Smith: The Last Kennedy Standing

    After the passing of Ted earlier this week, only one of the nine Kennedy siblings remains. Jean Kennedy Smith, the second-youngest and last daughter, is now the sole survivor of a family shrouded in perhaps equal parts of triumph and heartbreak. Jean was just 16 when her brother Joseph Jr. was killed in World War II. But less than two decades later, she saw her other brother Jack sworn in as president. She also traveled the country with another brother, Robert, as he nearly clinched the Democratic nomination in 1968, although she was with him the night he was slain in Los Angeles. After losing her other siblings in tragic ways─a plane crash and a botched surgery that left her sister Rosemary incapacitated and isolated─she and her brother Ted, along with their older sister Eunice (who died earlier this month), have carried the family's legacy of public service. Jean has often been recognized as the shy Kennedy, the quietest of a very public family. Less vivacious than her limel...
  • Boxer and Colleagues Feel the Heat on Cap and Trade

    There will be plenty of time next month for the Senate to debate a cap-and-trade policy, but some groups have already decided that the bill currently on the table is not an adequate solution to national energy and environmental concerns─and they're making sure to speak up early. Later today, more than 320 environmental and energy groups plan to deliver a letter to Calif. Sen. Barbara Boxer and her colleagues on the Senate Environment Committee that she chairs, arguing that the climate bill that the House narrowly passed in June is too diluted to reasonably curb carbon emissions and spur growth in renewable energy.Letters of support or opposition constantly fly through the halls of Capitol Hill, but this one is bound to turn some heads for the sheer number of names on it. The broad collection of signatories─form the Center for Biological Diversity to the Southern Energy Network and a whole host of municipalities, faith groups and social justice organizations─lays out in short...
  • Liberals' Lion: Photos and Analysis of Ted Kennedy's Life and Record

    News broke early this morning that Massachusetts Sen. Edward (Ted) Kennedy had died, succumbing to a battle with brain cancer he started waging a year ago. He was 77. Kennedy first entered the U.S. Senate in 1962 as one of the body's youngest members (he was 30) after his brother ascended to the presidency. Since then, he crafted for himself one of Washington's highest profiles─not just because of his longevity, but also his legislative brokering on issues like health care, immigration, and education.Kennedy was no stranger to the pages of NEWSWEEK, having appeared on our cover close to a dozen times, the last time in July, when the senator drafted a cover essay on his fight for health-care reform. But NEWSWEEK reporters and editors have captured Kennedy's bumps and milestones for decades. Our team has pulled together this collection of photos as a look back at some of those markers.NEWSWEEK's Evan Thomas also has a colorful and in-depth look back at Kennedy's life as the youngest...
  • 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...