Daniel Stone

Stories by Daniel Stone

  • Will Health Care Really Come Down to One Vote?

    Outgoing Democratic Rep. Eric Massa spent the weekend giving a fiery rant about how he was being ousted from office. On a radio show in his New York district, Massa admitted that his intent not to seek reelection was tied to an inappropriate comment he made to a House aide at a cocktail party. From there, he says, House leadership circled like vultures, trying to get rid of him over his avowed “no” vote on health care. “Mine is now the deciding vote on the health-care bill,” Massa said. “This administration and this House leadership have said, 'they will stop at nothing to pass this health-care bill, and now they’ve gotten rid of me and it will pass."Privately, Democratic House aides adamantly deny Massa’s claim that he’s being pushed out over his health-care opposition. Publicly, they’re content to stay away from Massa’s self-implosion. One staffer tells me that even if House leaders were out to get Massa (which they say they're not), they couldn’t possibly do more damage than...
  • Alaska: A New 'Polar-Bear Defense'?

    When Congress all but dropped the idea of broad, national emissions limits, the fight against global warming appeared to be lost—at least for 2010. But there may be reason for environmentalists to hope. Later this year a federal judge will decide if the protection of polar bears can justify a cap on greenhouse gases—clearing the way for lawsuits nationwide against the country's worst polluters.This backdoor legal strategy stems from a 2008 Bush administration declaration that labeled the polar bear's habitat "threatened" by global warming—and, at the same time, added a "special rule" excluding that threat from forming the basis of a legal fight against climate-change regulations. Environmental groups sued to have the rule removed, while the oil-dependent state of Alaska sued to strip the polar bear of protected status altogether.Now a repeal of the special rule could come as early as this spring. And since the Endangered Species Act requires protecting any animal on the list,...
  • Sarah Palin Does Stand-Up—And Not Badly, Either

    Keeping the publicity train moving swiftly, Sarah Palin sat on Jay Leno’s couch last night. The interview didn’t break any news, but it did raise both parties' boats, allowing Leno to show he can still attract the top guests while Palin proved she can handle a giggly late-night interview. What came after the chat, though, was the better part. Leno announced that Palin would be making her “comedy debut” (wait, didn’t she do Saturday Night Live?) with a stand-up routine that turned out to be, well, actually pretty good. Comedy can be fleeting in politics, trust me, but Palin had some good zingers. Like about how in Alaska it’s so cold the weather is 5 degrees below Congress’s approval rating. Or about how she took a new gig at the Legends hotel in Las Vegas as an impersonator of Tina Fey.Palin’s got her share of wild speculation about her next step. President? Talk-show host? Author? Until now, comedian never factored in. But for someone like Palin, who can write her own tick...
  • Why the EPA Struggles With Water Regulation

    State and federal debates over which rivers and lakes should be regulated have left some bodies of water full of pollution, and with little hope of a mandate to clean them anytime soon. The starkest diagnosis of the breakdown of water regulation comes from EPA lawyer Douglas Mundrick. “We are, in essence, shutting down our Clean Water programs in some states,” he told the Times. The main snag is big industry, which has argued—successfully—that it should be exempt from any cuts, so long as it dumps pollution into small waterways and not big ones, which the act covers.Yet the entire debate over jurisdiction in water regulation hopelessly ignores one of the inherent qualities of water on Earth: that it works in a cycle. When lawmakers argue that only "navigable" waterways—a fancy way of saying major ones and not the small ones that trickle through rural communities—should be regulated, they’re neglecting to note where that “navigable” water comes from (usually smaller streams...
  • David Paterson: America's Sleaziest Governor?

    The New York Times dropped a bombshell today that has not only turned Albany upside down, but leaves New York Gov. David Paterson in a tight spot. According to the piece, state officials are now investigating whether Paterson acted improperly in the handling of a domestic-violence incident involving one of his top aides. The aide, David Johnson, had already come under fire earlier this month when the Times suggested that his rise to the top of the governor’s staff may have been influenced more by friendship than merit, but this whacks the ball a whole lot further, putting Paterson on the spot for some explanation. (The governor hasn’t denied any of the claims, saying he’ll wait for state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to launch an inquiry.) But even before he talks, this latest development lands Paterson high in the running for the sought-after title of being America’s sleaziest governor.He's got some competition. First there's former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich,...
  • Health Care Summit Seating Chart

    For those of you watching on TV and unsure of who's addressing who, here's a handy seating chart, compliments of the White House.   
  • Health-Care Summit Starts With Discussion of Facts, Not Policy

    It used to be a bumper sticker, but lately the phrase “You’re entitled to your opinion but not your own facts” has become a mantra for partisans on health care, especially among Democrats accusing conservatives of twisting facts to support their priorities. President Obama started this morning’s health-care summit emphasizing that he wanted to put everything on the table, and discuss good ideas. But not even 40 minutes into the discussion, Democrats lobbed their first challenge. As GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander criticized the proposal the White House put online on Monday, Reid retorted, on script, when it was his turn. "Lamar, you're entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts."Indeed, in the first hour, Republicans, especially Alexander, have been on the defensive about where to start the discussion. During another statement, Alexander noted that the CBO’s latest numbers supported his and the Republicans’ notion that the costs are too simply high, and that Obama’s...
  • With DADT Repeal, Lieberman Pursues Progressive Redemption

    Sen. Joe Lieberman is a man who likes to parade his conscience. It’s why he made such a splash last summer as he made demands that gutted large provisions of the Democrats health-care-reform bill. It’s also the same reason that the Connecticut senator is now leading the charge on repealing the military’s policy limiting gays from serving in the armed forces.His reason for doing it is the same reason as everyone else’s: restricting homosexuals from service undercuts the entire military, both morally and physically. “When you artificially limit the pool of people who can enlist then you are diminishing military effectiveness,” he said in a statement posted to his Senate Web site. But for Lieberman, the stakes are higher. By getting out in front of an angry, bipartisan, pack that realizes it’s time for repeal, the crafty senator further fortifies his credentials as a true unbeholden independent. Of course he can’t claim to be a moderate─fighting to axe DADT and opposing a public option...
  • Environmental Group Hits Back at Climate Skeptics

    Earlier this week, recognizing that climate science has lost considerable perceptive momentum, New York Times columnist Thomas Freidman called for a time-out. Stop everything, he told the science community, step back, and collect your thoughts. Then, top climate scientists should come together to write a single and concise paper entitled “Here’s What We Know.” At the same time, he suggests, “they should add a summary of all the errors and wild exaggerations made by the climate skeptics—and where they get their funding.”Not a bad idea in order to stop the bleeding. Climate researchers have been wounded with several scandals of late, but they’ve also been the victim of hefty and unabashed hyperbole from their critics, who have argued disingenuously that the recent errors that don’t actually change the fundamental research have in fact been a “game changer.”So who to take on the task of explaining climate science (or reexplaining, depending on what circles you run in)? As the world’s...
  • Virginia to Challenge Obama's 'Individual Mandate'

    As hard as the health-care fight has been for Democrats, the greater challenge may come if their bill is made into law. At issue is the "individual mandate," a statute that would require all Americans to buy insurance or face a penalty tax. It has presidential backing, a green light from both houses of -Congress—and it's expected to survive the legislative compromise process given that the alternative is either higher premiums or higher taxes.But legal scholars have questioned its constitutionality for months. And now the debate has shifted from theory to reality: Republicans in at least 30 states have launched bills that would reject the mandate. Earlier this month Tennessee enacted legislation that would require its attorney general to defend people who refuse insurance, and Virginia, pending the governor's expected signature, may soon be the first state to tell residents they would not need to comply. "We're ready to go," says Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has...
  • Battle of the Televised Policy Summits

    President Obama campaigned on bringing openness and transparency to the grotesque process of policymaking. And now, in his second year, he’s certainly getting it. Frustrated with Republican claims that their ideas aren’t being listened to, Obama called their bluff, inviting them to a televised summit next week—the very thing they had demanded all of last year. He even went to lengths to reserve a neutral setting—the Blair House across the street from the White House—to ensure no one got home-court advantage. With their backs against the wall, Republican leaders did a two-step, at first saying they wouldn’t show up unless the White House published the text of a proposed bill online in advance and then threatening not to come because the White House agreed to publish the text online in advance.Point, Obama.But in a city known for its cloakroom deals and closed-door brokering, lawmakers know that the cameras of C-Span are a powerful thing. Recall the president’s chat with House Repub...
  • Bill Clinton Hospitalized in New York

    President Bill Clinton has been hospitalized at New York-Presbyterian Hospital this afternoon after complaining of chest pains. The former president, who is 63, had checked himself in for a routine opening of a heart stent that was installed during an angioplasty surgery in 2004. He has not since talked publicly of any complications.UPDATE, 5:25 p.m: Douglas Band, an aide to Clinton, said in a statement that "President Bill Clinton was admitted to the Columbia Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital after feeling discomfort in his chest. Following a visit to his cardiologist, he underwent a procedure to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries. President Clinton is in good spirits, and will continue to focus on the work of his Foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts."
  • America, Meet the OPM Web Site

    Ever wonder if your tax dollars are working for you? Then check out the Office of Personnel Management's Web site, which declares whether the federal government is open for business, or buried under four feet of blizzard snow.Inside the Beltway, this site is a big deal─by which I mean refreshed repeatedly, sometimes neurotically. It dictates the pulse of the federal machine. And since government is Northwest Washington’s biggest industry, most think tanks, policy houses, and nonprofits follow suit. On a day like today, one might imagine, the status is “closed,” leaving the folks who usually dole out your money or process your taxes at home watching movies on Lifetime, or in the streets throwing snowballs at strangers.A breakdown of society, really.
  • Dems Lead Handily in Congressional Fundraising

    There are few places where money speaks louder than it does in electoral politics. And the latest fundraising numbers highlight a clear advantage for House Democrats, who so far have outraised their Republican counterparts nearly six to one.According to numbers released this morning, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (the electoral arm for the House GOP) raised $4.3 million in January for House races later this year, a substantial uptick from the $3.2 million it took in during December. But sizable as the increase is, House Democrats have still bested Republicans in fundraising over the past year—a point made clear by the bank accounts of both parties' electoral machines last month. Dems started the year with $16.7 million in the bank, compared with Republicans’ $2.6 million.During such a promising year for Republicans, it’s curious why the raking of campaign dough has been so sluggish. "Nobody's happy about the spending disparity,” GOP Rep. Jeb...
  • Forget the Crib Notes, It’s Palin’s Unsavvy That Really Worries Republicans

    Palin 2012 buzz is again in the air, this time after her punchy and oft-replayed address to the national Tea Party Convention on Saturday. The fallout from the speech has been predictable. Her base unified firmly while the left calculates just how big a threat she’ll pose in November and 2012. Meanwhile, the cable and Web echo chambers have honed in on the delectable story of some crib notes that Palin conspicuously wrote on her hand to remind herself of prepared talking points.Embarassing, perhaps, especially after Palin knicked Obama in the same hour for also trying to appear candid by reading from a teleprompter. But it’s far from a fatal gaffe. There was much more included in Palin’s speech and her general self-promoting strategy to pick apart, and Republican politicos aren’t happy with any of the above.Since Palin appeared on the national stage, her strategy has been Palin First, promoting herself and firing up her base without much regard for paying her dues to the rest of the...
  • Photos From the (Tea Party) Revolution

    The revolution may not be televised, but it has been photographed by your humble man on the ground. Photos from the trenches at tea-party HQ.
  • Tea Party Organizers Lash Out at Convention Critics

    In the weeks leading up to this weekend’s National Tea Party gathering, organizers caught flack for the choices they made about how to put on the movement’s first-ever convention. It was at too nice a hotel, said some. Others claimed it was too expensive. The for-profit status posed problems for some speakers, who pulled out last week....
  • Tea Party Advice for Beating the Media

    At one of this mornings breakout sessions at the tea-party convention in Nashville, a gentleman in the audience asked how such a relatively small and blooming movement can overcome big media organizations that he says are telling a different story. He named a few organizations, including NEWSWEEK, as being part of the problem. Author Steve Milloy, a conservative thinker and anti-environmentalist, took the issue head on. Fox News has been very useful, he said. "But the left is well-entrenched. They own almost every university in this country. We have a battle because the left has become entrenched and it's because we let it happen. But we need to get active on the local level and get in schools. Don't let your schools show An Inconvenient Truth unless they show the other side too. We just need to get involved in every institution."
  • Has the Tea Party Gone Global?

    Probably not. Some of the movement's detractors might argue that it hasn't even gone national in a formidable way. Yet as the debate stirs, there's a bit of surprising news at the national tea-party convention this week in Nashville. This time, it's the news itself. Organizers claim to have credentialed 111 media organizations that requested to cover the event. All of the usual suspects—the networks, national publications, and prominent Web sites—were approved, but also some unlikely candidates.TV stations from France, Brazil, the U.K., Switzerland, Japan, and even Croatia sent reporters to cover the strategy weekend. Lots of the tea-party folks are very proud of their foreign media roster, eager to suppose that their size and impact have been heard, and not just in Washington but far beyond. One activist told me that all of those countries want to be here to capture what a peaceful political uprising actually looks like.It's possible. The reporter from...
  • The Revolution Kicks Off—In Style

    The first-ever National Tea Party Convention is getting underway here in Nashville, where delegates plan to discuss and plan the future of the burgeoning movement. But the first item of import isn’t what’s being discussed but where the event is being held.For a movement that bills itself as grassroots and ultra-inclusive, the choice of the Gaylord Opryland Resort has struck many more than just yours truly as odd. The complex is without dispute the swankiest hotel in Nashville. The most basic room regularly starts at $199, but only the more expensive ones have indoor balconies looking over landscaped gardens and cascading waterfalls. Outside, there’s a full-service outlet mall, a 20-screen movie theater (with an Imax) and an auditorium that hosts Nashville’s famous Grand Ole Opry. It’s so big, in fact, that the complex is on the outskirts of Nashville, far from the older and quainter downtown row of honky tonks.Then you step inside. It’s not often I write while sitting on a leather...
  • Obama Deconstructs the 'Axis of Evil'

    Of all of the political buzz terms with unusually long half-lives, none has lingered quite so notoriously as President Bush’s “axis of evil,” a construction he used to describe Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as states that sponsor terrorism in his 2002 State of the Union address. It was noticed immediately for its bizarre hyperbole, and it will likely appear in books deconstructing political eras for decades to come.But not without an epilogue to the phrase. Earlier this evening, President Obama sent a brief letter to Congress purporting that one member of the axis, North Korea, might well be delisted. According to the letter, a classified administration report that examined the “conduct of the People’s Republic of Korea [a.k.a. North Korea]” found that the rogue state “does not meet the statutory criteria to again be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.” Phew.That still leaves a lot of open questions, like what the report actually says North Korea is doing, or what kind of...