Daniel Stone

Stories by Daniel Stone

  • Obama Supports Conan, According to Conan

     The melee continues at NBC, where late-night hosts continue to slam each other and the network as executives try to rearrange the late-night line-up. No one’s happy, least of all being Conan O’Brien, who was asked last week to bump his Tonight Show to midnight to accommodate a half-hour program hosted by Leno at 11:35. Conan said Tuesday he wouldn’t do it.But now Conan’s got support, or at least he created high-level support for himself and his staff. In a bit on last night’s show, Conan showed a CNN interview featuring President Obama praising him as a "good friend" and “stalwart champion.” At the bottom of the screen, the caption read “President Obama stands firm: I’m on team Coco.”To be clear, folks, this is fake stuff, typical late-night fodder. President Obama didn’t endorse Conan. The footage was taken from a CNN interview with Obama talking about Harry Reid, excusing his controversial comments on race and defending the man he said has always been “on the right side...
  • Obama Approval vs. Disapproval Hits Even Split

    Six of one, a half dozen of the other might be the best way to sum up the president’s latest shift in popularity. For the first time in his administration, those who see Obama’s first year as a success versus failure are split evenly at 45 to 45 percent, according to a new Quinnipiac poll released today.“It’s a passing grade, not exactly the marks his mother would want to put on the refrigerator, but still a passing grade,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac University's Polling Institute, who spoke to reporters this morning at an event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.The shift continues a slow downward slide of Obama’s approval, which hit a high of 60 percent last summer. Such a slide is not entirely unusual after presidents leave what many call the “honeymoon” phase with voters and the public. But hovering in the 40s is also not worthy of derision. Most presidents one year on the job find themselves in similar territory, or even lower. After Ronald...
  • Palin Lands a Talk Show─Well, Kind Of

    Several weeks ago, we published a gallery of GOP contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination. Logical candidates like Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin were on the list, and also dark horses like Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney. But we mused then, and still do now, why someone like Palin, with such a lucrative brand, would even want the job. A talk show or radio program would allow her to keep her privacy, deny interview requests, and earn much more than a paltry presidential salary of just $400,000. Well, not to boast that we called it, but we totally called it.The New York Times reported today that Palin recently signed a deal with Fox News to become an occasional host and contributor to the network. Finances were not disclosed, but the contract outlines an occasional feature that Palin will host and that she may fill in for absent anchors. The formal deal has yet to be announced by Palin and Fox spokespeople.It’s a nonexclusive deal, meaning she can take Brand Palin elsewhere,...
  • Why the GOP Has More Than Just Fundraising Woes

    Will 2010 be the year of the outraged conservative? It depends who you ask, but most on the right agree that any party─the GOP or a new one yet to emerge─will be able to tap into populist anger toward the Democrats at the polls this year. Of course, any mention of electoral politics is incomplete without a dissection of money, which has been known to win or lose an occasional election.The GOP is having its share of money problems, which on its face is unusual for the minority party in a midterm year. But it's not just lackadaisical fund raising; it's a fragmented call to arms. According to the National Journal, the RNC’s cash stash lags more than $4 million behind the DNC’s $13 million. The problem isn’t that conservative donors have disappeared. They still exist, they’re just not writing checks anymore, partly because of the antics of RNC chair Michael Steele, who recently wrote a book that has been controversial in his own party and has made unflattering headlines for...
  • Obama Rushed in Dramatic Motorcade While Vacationing in Hawaii

    Barack Obama might be president, but he’s also the nation's top dad, underscored by the latest episode to unfold on the island of Oahu, where the first family is vacationing this week. One hour into a round of golf, Obama and several friends left the course and dramatically rushed back to the family’s rental home on the north side of the island. Considering the speed of the response and mobilization of the lengthy motorcade, reporters initially imagined a severe health concern within the first family.In actuality, the son of one of Obama’s golfing partners, Eric Whitaker, a doctor with the University of Chicago Medical Center, was injured on his chin and required stitches, according to the White House. Wanting to unite the father with his son as soon as possible, the president asked for a speedy return to the compound. The extent of the injury is unknown, in addition to what caused it, but the boy had not been taken to the hospital, reported a White House spokesperson. The...
  • Obama: 'People Are Justified in Being Disappointed About Copenhagen'

    Earlier today, President Obama sat down with NewsHour's Jim Lehrer to talk policy. Lehrer pressed Obama for his thoughts on the Senate health bill awaiting passage tomorrow and on the Afghanistan troop surge the president ordered last month. The sit-down, though, was the first time Obama had been quizzed about his involvement at last week's U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen. Climate watchers might recall that Obama spoke at the conference on its last day and met with other heads of state to hammer out an agreement, but the result was a loose and nonbinding agreement to consider agreeing at some undetermined future date. Lots of folks left the talks sorely disappointed. Here's what Obama had to say:LEHRER: Copenhagen.OBAMA: Yes.LEHRER: Here was a situation where there were many things that you and others wanted done.  OBAMA: Right.LEHRER: None of them got done—OBAMA: Yeah.LEHRER: —and yet you’ve said, well, it was a success anyhow. Is that a loaf? Did you get—OBAMA...
  • Our Non-Wonky Guide to Merging the Senate and House Health Bills

    After another early-morning vote today, the Senate edged closer to passing it’s hard-fought health-care package. At this point, calculus doesn’t matter anymore. Barring a late-in-the-game surprise from an attention-seeking member of the Democratic caucus, the bill is on schedule to pass by Christmas. But excitement among progressives will be short lived. Early next month, leaders from both houses will convene a conference committee for the tedious task of merging the Senate bill with the reform package the House passed last month. The problem is, the proposals look mighty different. Where might the bargaining lines be drawn? We offer our simplified, not-for-wonks comparison of the two proposals: It’s worth pointing out that negotiating, in this case, won’t be as simple as splitting the difference and calling it a day. Leaders from both houses will be at the table, but the upper house certainly has the upper hand. After conference, the agreed-upon bill will return for final votes in...
  • Obama: A Foosballer to Be Reckoned With

    One side of Pennsylvania Avenue may be intensely focused on passing a historic health-care bill by Christmas, but at the other end it was an afternoon full of surprises and holiday cheer. During a slow and snowy day in Washington, President Obama took a field trip to the Northeast quadrant of the city to meet some kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Washington and distribute cookies.The trip was planned but not publicized, one of Obama’s off-the-record outings he occasionally takes, similar to an impromptu burger run the motorcade made back in May.The president’s main focus was to read to the students the holiday-themed warmhearted picture book The Polar Express, about a boy meeting Santa at the North Pole. It's nice to be read to by the president, but it didn't hurt that Obama had with him a box of cookies—gingerbread, all shaped like first pooch Bo, we're told by the pool reporter on scene.There was also room for some fun banter with the students. When he asked...
  • Senate on Deadline: The Timeline to Pass Health Care by Christmas

    It’s fairly ironic that while the city of Washington has screeched to a halt under a mountain of snow, the usual glacial-paced Senate has kicked into high gear. For several months, Democrats have set Christmas as the deadline for passing health-care reform—an effort to stamp it in 2009 and, more trivially, not to have to work the week before New Year's when the chamber would normally be on recess. The nonnegotiable deadline has Senate leaders scrambling to meet it by the end of next week. The process to pass such a massive bill isn’t simple. Republicans will mount a filibuster to the bill and also to the major amendments packaged with it. The Democrats will hold cloture votes to cut off debate, but Senate rules require there to be 30 “legislative hours” between each cloture vote, hours counted only when the Senate is in session. So from now until Christmas, the senate will be in session virtually around the clock.Here’s the timeline Democrats have set. Lest this be considered...
  • Obama Dramatically Interrupts Meeting, Negotiators Reach Final Agreement

    Late in the afternoon on Friday, with the clock ticking down to zero, a rather dramatic scene unfolded that surprised even several top leaders at the climate negotiations in Copenhagen. In a secret meeting between Chinese, Indian, and Brazilian heads of state, the door swung open revealing President Obama, who hadn’t been invited but had arrived to crash the meeting. Several diplomats protested the intrusion, but Obama simply informed them he wouldn’t accept them negotiating in secret. He sat down and started talking.The result of that discussion is the outcome of the Copenhagen climate talks—a political agreement that gets something on paper but lacks several of the components that many had expected to be finalized at the meeting. Under the agreement, developed nations would scale back their greenhouse-gas output 80 percent by 2050, a vague target that many who wanted stronger action see as insufficient. China’s main sticking point was that it would make domestic cuts but didn’t...
  • Grading Obama's Copenhagen Speech

    While most Americans slept, President Obama spoke to delegates Friday morning in Copenhagen on the final day of the U.N. climate conference. We reported yesterday that Obama’s speech would matter, not just because of the symbolism of the U.S. head of state addressing the world but also because until now U.S. negotiators have been unable to reach an agreement with other countries that have demanded larger steps on emissions cuts and mitigation funding.Obama’s address was brief, an eight-minute declaration that bold action is needed and that the U.S. would be part of that action. And it went over decently—it was neither stellar nor awful—because of the incredibly high tension that has built up at the end of talks. How did Obama do? We grade the different parts:Taking the lead. No U.S. president has ever squarely confronted the U.S.’s impact on global climate, currently responsible for about a quarter of the world’s emissions. Obama humbly took his knocks, admitting that his country is...
  • Wait! Roland Burris To Withhold Vote Until He Gets What He Wants, Too

    After Joe Lieberman laid down on the train track and actually made the train stop this week, several of other Democratic senators have taken license to threaten to withhold their vote if Harry Reid doesn’t give them what they want. Earlier this week, Sen. Roland Burris went to the floor with an impassioned speech, threatening a "no" vote unless Reid put back in something resembling a single-payer or public option. "My colleagues may have forged a compromise bill that can achieve the sixty votes that will be needed for it to pass, but until this bill addresses cost, competition, and accountability in a meaningful way—it will not win mine," he said from the lectern....
  • Obama's Most Creative Speech Yet

    One of the greatest things about being president is the ability to paint broad strokes. The man in charge can usually get by with expounding large themes like “vision” or “hope” or the “challenge of humanity.” Less visible executive staffers are the ones who sort out particulars of a new policy or diplomatic agreement after the motorcade departs.But that won’t cut it for President Obama when he speaks to delegates Friday at the U.N.-sponsored climate conference in Copenhagen. When Obama agreed to attend the negotiations last month, he planned his speech to be the icing on an otherwise bland cake. Or, at the most, give one final push to an agreement hammered out by delegates. That, however, was before talks nearly deteriorated this week, hitting a stalemate just days before finishing. (Large countries have agreed only to small steps, while small countries refuse to accept anything less than giant leaps.) The result is an Obama forced to transform rather dramatically from America’s...
  • Our Political Predictions for 2010

    Over at NEWSWEEK’s 2010 project, we’ve been recapping the decade of the aughts—a formative pack of years if there ever was one. Today, though, we take a look forward and offer our 10 political predictions for next year, and the decade that will follow. Things like the fate of Sarah Palin, the outlook for gay rights, and Nancy Pelosi's hold on the House in 2010. Here’s the full list. For our reasoning behind each (and for more predictions in the tech and business worlds) visit the politics page of the 2010 experience here.10. After a messy primary between Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rick Perry, Democrat (and Houston Mayor) Bill White will win the Texas governor’s mansion.9. Obama will do nothing on gay rights, wary of giving ammo to already fired-up conservatives during an election year.8. Reeling from battling cancer, Ruth Bader Ginsberg will retire from the Supreme Court. Our suspected replacement? Seventh circuit Judge Diane Wood.7. Aftrer becoming a symbol of corporate greed...
  • Climate Talks Heat Up as Activists Erupt

    Last week, delegates in Copenhagen were concerned that the leaking of an unfair climate-mitigation proposal would cause a rift between rich and poor countries and derail talks. Today increased tension brought negotiations even closer to the brink.With the end of the conference just two days away, thousands of activists and credentialed advocates turned up the heat, storming Copenhagen's Bella Center, the venue hosting the talks, to protest the lack of a foreseeable agreement between top emitters by the week's end. Conference organizers went into scramble mode, cracking down with something resembling martial law. Representatives from NGOs had credentials revoked midday Wednesday and were told they no longer had access to conference events. "We have sat down in front of the U.N. sign in the registration area despite instruction not to," one NGO spokesperson told NEWSWEEK. Another source inside the building described the scene as "incredibly tense" and...
  • Obama Calls Insulation 'Sexy' -- But Is It?

    President Obama took his green jobs message on the road this morning, to Alexandria, Va., where he spoke at a Home Depot. Why? To underscore the benefits of green jobs. White House aids furiously curated the scene so that Obama could speak in front of a wall of heating and insulation products with strategically placed signs saying “tax credit eligible.” Obama also used the venue for some good humored fun, telling reporters that the store would be good for Christmas shopping—he wanted to get Energy Secretary Steven Chu a few million energy- efficient light bulbs and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs something to prevent leaks.Obama took plenty of veiled shots at critics, arguing that the choice between saving the economy and working to save the planet was in fact a false choice. “With the debate that’s going on about climate change right now, a lot of people say we can’t afford to deal with these emissions to the environment. But the fact of the matter is, energy efficiency is a perfect...
  • U.S. vs. China: The Rest Is Just Details

    To recap thus far, the U.S. and China have been staring squarely at each other for the better part of this year, vowing not to blink until the other does. Both are large economies, of course, but want very different things out of any deal that gets inked in Copenhagen. U.S. negotiators seek emissions cuts at a slower than usual pace, with tightly focused obligations to fund mitigation in developing countries. Despite being a large economy, China is classified as one of those developing countries that have won so much sympathy, and will agree to cuts only if developed countries make it worth its while.Diplomacy usually happens on paper or in low-level circles, so it’s rare to see fireworks among senior officials. But late Friday, tension boiled over. In a briefing with Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei of China, David Corn of Mother Jones informed the Chinese leader that Todd Stern, top negotiator for the U.S., had said two days earlier that he couldn’t imagine U.S. money going to China...
  • Petraeus Recommends Newsweek to Senate Committee

    While testifying on Capitol Hill yesterday, former Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus, who now heads U.S. Central Command, had some stern advice for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Since the Taliban has been disrupted in 2001, many of its members have dispersed over new areas in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. But between the two, it's reasonable that the U.S. focus more effort in Afghanistan, primarily because “we can go in those areas,” he told them. Petraeus then pointed toward some required reading on the topic that surprised us pleasantly: the pages of NEWSWEEK. Here’s the exchange with Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman:...
  • Will Obama Be Undercut By Republicans in Copenhagen? Probably Not.

    A handful of Republicans are finalizing plans to arrive in Copenhagen at the beginning of next week when the talks take on a level of seriousness in their final stretch. Why? To paraphrase their motivation, they hope to ally with other countries that might also doubt the gravity of climate change in a way of countering—one report called it "undermining"—Obama’s message of urgency he’ll deliver in his speech on the final day. Among them are climate-change skeptics Sen. James Inhofe, Rep. Joe Barton, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, and Rep. Darrell Issa, all of whom plan to attend negotiating sessions with plans to poke holes in the science and argue that now, in the midst of a global recession, is not the time to make industrial or industrializing countries rearrange their economies.They’re likely to find some allies, but little overall influence. Delegations from 192 countries are attending the talks, along with 5,000 journalists and thousands of looky-loos from NGOs and...
  • The Bumpy Road to Middle Ground in Copenhagen

    When it first leaked yesterday afternoon, the contents of the secret "Danish text" seemed scandalous. The draft proposal—drawn up in collaboration with several developed countries including Denmark, the U.K., and the U.S.—outlined a power play that would give them considerably more power to regulate global emissions than would be granted to developing countries, such as China, India, and a host of small nations in Africa or Latin America. Those small players argued that this was a prime example of the big guys almost pulling a fast one. But Denmark, which drafted the text, sheepishly claimed that it was just one proposal of many leaked too early, and that it was far from being ready for widespread, and certainly not public, review.Fortunately for both sides, the whole episode will be archived in history right alongside all the insignificant second days of other large international conferences. It’s not the text that matters so much; some reports have even alleged that the...
  • The ‘Danish Text’ Disrupts Copenhagen: What You Need to Know

    You might call it a modest setback to the climate talks. Or you might call it the puncturing of a lung in Copenhagen that has left negotiations wheezing on the floor.On day two of the two-week conference, attention focused late in the day on what’s been dubbed the Danish Text, a document devised by several parties—including Denmark, the U.K., and the U.S.—that would hand most regulatory control to rich nations and would replace the U.N. as arbiter of global cuts with the World Bank’s more financially minded eye. Small players at the table, specifically the developing nations that have sought to pin large countries to the mat on making cuts, interpret the Danish proposal as a deeply troubling attempt by the biggest emitters to maintain control over their emissions…and the rest of the world's.The proposal (document here) is essentially a reversal of the main principle of the Kyoto Protocol, which provided that large countries make sweeping steps to curb their emissions, but excludes...
  • Climategate Hullabaloo at Copenhagen Misses Larger Point

    On the streets of Copenhagen, Keith Schneider of Grist offers a fairly candid look at how the release of those e-mails at the Climate Research Unit in England are affecting the talks this week in Denmark. Those who allege conspiracy see the hacked messages as a smoking gun after years of alarm about rising temperatures. Such assumptions are most hurtful, Schneider argues, to the smaller countries at the bargaining table, some of which are already seeing the effects of climate change and aren't debating anymore whether it exists. On the city's metro, Schneider meets a man named Isakwisa Mwamukonda, a ranking government leader from Tanzania, who asked him if he ever heard of Mount Kilimanjaro. Schneider signaled he had. “The ice is melting," said Mwamukonda. "It won’t be there in a few years. The animals are dying from drought. Our land is changing. How can anybody doubt that climate change is real?”Heart-wrenching, perhaps, but that won't stop the e-mails...
  • EPA Ruling Steps Up Pressure on Congress

    Science, and especially government science, isn’t supposed to be political, but it certainly can be strategic. So when the Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday its latest findings—that greenhouse gasses threaten public health and the environment—it at first seemed an odd precursor to the bigger news on carbon and global climate happening this week in Copenhagen. Except this was no coincidence. Rather, it was a well-timed maneuver to boost the U.S.’s voice in Copenhagen, and more important, a stunningly effective way to pressure the Senate to get moving on climate legislation.On the eve of President Obama’s trip to speak in Denmark, the White House knew that the president’s plea for action would be anemic without even a modicum of commitment from the U.S., one of the world’s largest emitters. It would be ideal for Obama (and certainly appear more democratic) if Congress had already taken the reigns on domestic policy, but with that looking as unlikely as the polar...
  • Which Countries Are Missing From Copenhagen Talks?

    Climate change may be a global problem to confront, but the number of countries invited to the talks in Copenhagen this week—192—leaves out a few significant players that may be relevant to the discussions. Who are they, and why are they sitting this one out? The list of bench-warmers:The Vatican: The smallest internationally recognized country isn’t an official U.N. member, and with its influence over more than a billion Catholics, it doesn’t need to be. When it comes to climate, the Vatican isn’t a problem. Both Benedict XVI and his predecessor have taken environmental issues very seriously, even positioning the Vatican to be the first carbon-neutral country in the world. Impressive, yes, but even with peripheral participation in the conference, its small size precludes it from being a large part of any solution. Except maybe in one way: if the talks are headed for a stalemate, we may see negotiators turn to religion.Taiwan: Much of the world considers Taiwan an independent...
  • Five Things to Watch at U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen

    After a year of expectation, today officially kicks off the international climate conference known as COP15 in Denmark. The name comes from an acronym for Conference of Parties, the highest and most official assembly of United Nations member nations—192 in total. All will convene in Copenhagen this week and next to hammer out agreements on the risks posed by climate change and the cuts in greenhouse gasses necessary to mitigate them.Most countries are onboard to reach an accord, but this week will be the first time negotiators from the biggest polluting countries—U.S., China, and India—meet publicly to discuss sweeping cuts. The expectations for the conference have oscillated wildly over the past two months, but it’s clear that with so many global leaders involved, both the political and scientific stakes are high. Here’s a primer on five of the biggest issues coming out of Copenhagen:1) The political agreement. After negotiators gave up on a legally binding treaty this fall, Danish...
  • In Reelection Fight, Should Reid Speak Softly, Or Carry a Big Stick?

    The holiday season may signify the end of the year, but for Sen. Harry Reid, it marks the beginning of a long and enduring fight he’ll be waging into next November. New poll numbers this morning from a Mason-Dixon Poll show the Senate majority leader with a dangerously low state approval rating of just 38 percent. In potential match-ups with both candidates currently vying for the GOP nomination, Reid loses to both.It would be regular horse-race politics in advance of an election year. Except with Reid, the added layer of complexity is his role as the senate’s presiding member. And more specifically, his role as broker of the health-care debate and the climate legislation that will come next. During an election year, most pols, especially ones entering a tough race, hunker down and work on their image. They toe the line of their state’s public opinion. They sit for interviews that make them glow, and they plant op-eds on populist issues that paint them on the right side of history....