Daniel Stone

Stories by Daniel Stone

  • 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...
  • Photos from Iran: Protesters Clash with Police

    The Boston Globe has assembled some of the best photos of the protests today and over the weekend in Iran, the biggest street demonstrations in the country since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The AP reported earlier that at least one protester was shot and killed by police. Some reports put the number as high as seven. Just a warning: these photos show some violent confrontations. Some, especially toward the bottom, are pretty graphic.
  • We Read it So You Don't Have To: NY Mag on Kirsten Gillibrand

    It's been a rough few months for Kirsten Gillibrand, the new senator from New York who took the reigns of Hillary Clinton's old seat. There were the umpteen state and senate colleagues who looked at her appointment by governor David Paterson with awe, and not the good kind. A handful of lawmakers from the state felt snubbed by Patterson's curve ball choice. One New York rep used the term "mind numbing" to describe Gillibrand's ascension to the senate.But six months in, she's trying desperately to turn things around and New York Magazine takes a good look at Gillibrand, revealing a fierce and complex woman. She runs at warp speed as the keeper of her own schedule -- public and private. Not to mention she's the only member of the U.S. Senate (although we can't be certain) who pumps breast milk for her toddler before heading to the capitol each morning.On the policy front, Gillibrand ran into some hurdles in her early days as a senator, just...
  • Unturnings: Intel reports under Bush sport biblical quote

    Our favorites this morning from around the web:Daily Intel briefing: bible quote need not applyDuring the Bush presidency, at least in 2003, when the war in Iraq had high casualties, bible quotes apparently targeted at supporting the war effort were put on the first page of Bush's daily intelligence briefings from the Pentagon. Of course likening U.S. soldiers to Christian crusaders didn't sit so well with at least one Muslim analyst and seemed inappropriate to others. (AP)Bill Clinton, who has focused his time since his presidency on philanthropic works, was named a United Nations special envoy to Haiti. Clinton had visited the island nation two months ago alongside the U.N. Secretary General to raise awareness about the massive damage left in the wake of harsh storms last year. (Miami Herald)Obama does not take stance on gays in militaryPresident Obama who campaigned on reforming the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military let the deadline pass...
  • Shining Light On Cheney's Hideaway

    This just in from Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, a frequent purveyor of political anecdotes. She bring us an enlightening one here regarding the (quote) undisclosed location (unquote) we heard lots about in the days after Sept. 11. Here's Eleanor:Ever wonder about that secure, undisclosed location where Dick Cheney secreted himself after the 9/11 attacks? Joe Biden reveals the bunker-like room is at the Naval Observatory in Washington, where Cheney lived for eight years and which is now home to Biden. The veep related the story to his head-table dinner mates when he filled in for President Obama at the Gridiron Club earlier this year. He said the young naval officer giving him a tour of the residence showed him the hideaway, which is behind a massive steel door secured by an elaborate lock with a narrow connecting hallway lined with shelves filled with communications equipment. The officer explained that when Cheney was in lock down, this was where his most trusted aides were...
  • Page Turner-The Enchanted Forrest

    The German sociologist max Weber once wrote that centuries of industrialization and secularization had influenced widespread "disenchantment" with nature—a view of earth and its wildlife as inert objects for the taking. In his new book "A Reenchanted World," sociologist James William Gibson identifies a growing social movement, arguing that human connections with the earth are the last hope to save an environment at risk of permanently disappearing. ...