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  • How Will Gulf Spill Affect Energy Debate? A Chat With Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter

    Politics is nothing but the art of timing and opportunity. Opponents of drilling are hoping that now, in the wake of a worsening environmental catastrophe, might be their best opening to make a credible and convincing case that the time to shift to renewable energy is now, and there are 200,000 barrels' worth of reasons currently spewing in the Gulf of Mexico. The White House said late last week that it would be reevaluating its drilling policy articulated last month with a potential pivot to be announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. In the meantime, the Blue Green Alliance, a top Washington environmental advocacy group, hopes to make the case at a conference on green energy (coincidentally timed) that the spill underscores the imperative of moving quickly.Kicking off the conference was Bill Ritter, Colorado's cowboy-boot-clad governor, who says his state's recent investments in clean natural gas and renewables could be—and should be—the model for the country. And that while...
  • Why the U.N. Nukes Conference Is Already Bad for Iran

    After a week of oil spillage and Times Square terrorism, Barack Obama could probably use a breakthrough. He might have gotten a glimpse of one yesterday at the United Nations.More than 180 countries are convening this month for the eighth review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Cold War agreement that determines the world's nuclear haves and have-nots. Predictably enough, such gatherings are usually rife with friction. Nonnuclear states argue that major powers have used the treaty to develop a "nuclear caste system," as Colum Lynch has dubbed it; they see it maintaining the nuclear prowess of existing powers and their allies (India, Israel, and Pakistan), while leaving vulnerable the overwhelming majority of NPT signatories. On the other side, nuclear states have shown little eagerness to voluntarily curtail their own power. At the last NPT review conference in 2005, the Bush team, lead by John ...
  • Sestak Torpedo Aimed at Specter: The Word on Grant Street

    Grant Street is where politics is practiced in my hometown of Pittsburgh, so when I need to get my bearings on Pennsylvania politics—or politics in general—I call the people I know who work (or used to work) in the City-County Building or the Allegheny County Courthouse. With the Democratic primary fast approaching on May 18, the buzz is rising on Grant Street, a thoroughfare ruled by Democrats since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt.County Executive Dan Onorato is miles ahead of his competitors for the gubernatorial nomination, so the focus is shifting to the increasingly vicious U.S. Senate primary. It's between two Philly-area Democrats: Sen. Arlen Specter (until last year a Republican) and Rep. Joe Sestak, who, before he won a House seat four years ago, was a Navy admiral.The consensus: Sestak seems to be gaining ground, both in the polls and in the for-background-only opinion along Grant Street. No one seems to much like Sestak—they don't know him—but even though the...
  • Dick Cheney's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

    Poor Dick Cheney. Ever since George W. Bush's presidential term ended, all the former veep has wanted to do is spend some time at home, kick back with his grandchildren, and publicly criticize and undermine the authority of our current commander in chief as often as possible. And yet, it seems that no matter what he does, he can't stay out of the headlines. Specifically, the terrifying and tragic headlines dominating today's news. First, Alex Pareene at Salon's War Room notes that the giant, toxic, seemingly unstoppable oil spill headed toward the fragile and vulnerable Gulf Coast could be construed as kind of Cheney's fault. The Wall Street Journal reports...
  • Quote of the Day: Joe Arpaio

    "I don't want to be egotistical, but I could be the governor if I ran. My polls are very high. I got the money. I got the polls. I got the support." —Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa Country, Ariz., during his announcement today that he will not run for the Republican nomiation for governor
  • The Meaning of This Weekend's Immigration Marches

    On Saturday, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in more than 70 cities across the country to call on Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. But let's be clear on what triggered these marches. They weren't as much a call for immigration reform as they were an angry cry against Arizona's new immigration law. The distinction is important. In the absence of the controversial new measure, the rallies—which had been planned long before the Arizona bill became law—would have drawn far fewer participants. Why? Because what really galvanizes Hispanics in big numbers (and it's mostly Hispanics we're talking about) isn't a desire to legalize the undocumented, but a feeling that the undocumented are being demonized....
  • Arizona’s Immigration Law May Become Model for Other States

    By McKay Coppins Critics throughout the country are decrying Arizona’s tough new immigration law as “misguided,” “racist” and just plain “stupid”—but not everyone hates it. A voter poll in Utah published Thursday shows that a whopping 65 percent of Utahans would support their state modeling its immigration laws after Arizona’s. With such strong support, it’s not surprising that a local politician has already pledged to craft a bill and bring it to Utah’s 2011 legislative session.The Beehive State isn't alone: activists in California are calling on lawmakers to adopt an Arizona-inspired immigration policy, and a state representative in Texas said she will introduce a similar measure to the legislature come January. Utah is unique, however, in that it’s not a border state, and substantial immigration reform was just implemented there less than a year ago. So why so much support for the law?For one thing, Utah is about as red a state as they come, and the national immigration...
  • Gulf Oil Spill: Prognosis Looks Grim; Obama Speaks in Louisiana

    An already bad situation seems to be turning worse in the Gulf of Mexico. News over the weekend suggested the effects of the growing oil spill will be worse than expected, and the leak may not be stopped any time soon. BP officials said Monday they were preparing to install a shutoff valve on one of three leaks, while work to stop the others continues. ...
  • Video: Surveillance Shows Suspect; Taliban Vid Shows Mehsud Alive

    A potential suspect in the May 1 attempted Times Square car bombing is tall, thin, white, and in his 40s, police say, after analyzing tape captured from NYPD surveillance cameras. The man removes a dark shirt about half a block from the Nissan, which was left running, and stuffs the shirt into his bag while glancing over his shoulder multiple times. In response, two videos from the Taliban's sect in Pakistan were posted online: the first claimed responsibility for the attempted attack, and the second featured the country's Taliban leader, long thought to have been killed by a U.S. drone strike.  Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud appears healthy in the video footage, which looks to have been filmed in early April. Per The Washington Post's Foreign Service, "That development was hailed as a huge blow to a militant organization that has carried out a steady campaign of attacks inside Pakistan over two years, and whose previous leader was killed by a U.S. drone last summe...
  • Quote of the Day: Rush Limbaugh

    "What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig? I'm just noting the timing here." —Radio host Rush Limbaugh, subtly implying that the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico just might be a liberal conspiracy. (h/t Kevin Drum)
  • Will Baseball Teams Boycott Arizona?

    Opposition to Arizona's controversial new immigration law continues to spread. First, it was the civil-rights and immigrant-advocacy groups that howled. Then elected officials around the country chimed in. Now the celebs, including Shakira and Linda Ronstadt, are piping up. But one voice of protest could be more resonant than all of these. Pressure is now building on Major League Baseball to boycott the state....
  • Lady Gaga's 'Telephone' Has Company: Some of the Best Military Music Videos

    If you've been anywhere near a computer for over the past week, you've probably caught a glimpse of the "Telephone" video created by military members stationed in Afghanistan. What first looks like goofing off by two bored soldiers is later revealed to be a big production, complete with costumes, elaborate choreography, and not-bad editing....
  • Will Oil Spill Give Momentum to Energy Reform?

    The news media and public can only see current events through the prism of the past. So we're all looking for a Katrina replay in the oil-spill story. David Axelrod was on Good Morning America tamping down any suggestion that the White House had been tardy in reacting. But history doesn't repeat itself exactly, so some new political storyline is sure to come out of this disaster (quite possibly the biggest non-Washington story of the year once the oil hits land and we see Exxon Valdez–style pictures of oil-soaked ducks). What will that angle be? "Drill, baby, drill!"—the battle cry of the 2008 GOP convention—is already sounding lame, as is President Obama's statement earlier this year that today's oil rigs don't cause spills. Is making politicians look like fools the only medium-term political outcome? Only if we lack any ability to turn crisis into opportunity. After the immediate crisis passes and the cleanup is well underway, we should look to...
  • I Was a Male Weight Watcher

    In which the author touts his radical three-pronged weight-loss plan to save America: eat less, exercise more, and be ashamed of yourself.
  • Quote of the Day: Lindsey Graham

    "They said, 'You would vote against your own bill?' And I said yes. I care equally about immigration and climate change. But if you stack them together this year you'll compromise climate and energy." —Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, to The Washington Post's Ezra Klein
  • Can Crist Win by Running Up the Middle?

    Is there a middle in American politics? Charlie Crist's decision to run as an independent will test that proposition in the ultimate testing ground of American politics: the I-4 corridor in Central Florida. The Congress Crist is seeking to enter is more divided along partisan lines than at least a century. In the states, the parties (especially the Republicans) are being pulled in opposite directions by grassroots anger and ideology. Even President Obama—who ran on a theme of unity, colorblindness, and a new harmony in Washington—is talking in partisan, pointillist terms about rallying his base (and not much else) this fall.The consensus among people I talked to in Florida is that Crist had NO hope of winning the GOP primary against conservative tyro Marco Rubio. "This is the only way Crist has any kind of shot," said Mitch Ceasar, a lawyer and well-connected Democratic activist in Palm Beach County.It's clear that Crist, while nominally a Republican, has prospe...
  • As Oil Spill Worsens, Questions Emerge on Obama Policy

    Earlier this week, the working estimate on leakage from the BP rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico was 1,000 barrels of oil each day. That changed Wednesday night, when Coast Guard and BP officials announced they had discovered a brand-new leak, upping the estimate to 5,000 barrels a day gushing into the water off the coast of Louisiana. Depending on the wind patterns, the 100-mile-wide slick could push into the coast as soon as Friday night, hitting the environmentally sensitive Mississippi River Delta....
  • Son of Hamas Shows How Israel Recruits Informers

    During the second Palestinian uprising, which I covered from 2001 to 2005, I often found myself wondering how Israeli intelligence officials knew so much about the inner workings of Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The groups, instigators of dreadful violence against Israel, operated in small cells in utter secrecy. Yet on more than 200 occasions during the intifada, Israel managed to find and kill their top operatives in pinpoint strikes, often by firing airborne missiles at their cars as they traveled from one safe house to another. "Targeted assassinations," as Israel described the killings, required real-time information from people high enough in the ranks of these organizations to know the whereabouts of the most sought-after fugitives. How could Israel have recruited so many well-placed informers? I had a chance a few years ago to put the question to a senior official in Shabak, the Israeli security agency in charge of maintaining order in the West Bank. The...
  • Unions, Activists Convene March on Wall Street

    One day after Republicans agreed to allow debate on financial regulatory reform—and two days after Goldman Sachs executives were pilloried on the Hill—protesters will try to bring their fight to New York this afternoon. In a rally organized by the AFL-CIO and activists, protesters will march on Wall Street itself. They're calling for "Wall Street accountability, the creation of good jobs now, and an end to predatory lending practices." ...
  • New Defense Deal Signals Brazil's Growing Might

    Foreign-policy experts sat up and took notice in mid-April when Brazil and the United States signed a broad-ranging defense treaty--their first in three decades. Lately the two hemispheric giants have been feuding over just about everything else. Brasília is currently weighing measures to retaliate against U.S. cotton subsidies, while Washington is manifestly unhappy about President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's cozy relations with nuclear scofflaw Iran--as well as Brazil's opposition to a planned U.S. air base in Colombia.But with the new U.S.-Brazilian defense treaty, Washington is recognizing that its cosigner has grown too big to ignore or bully. Washington is all too aware of rising competition with Russia and China over aid, trade, and arms deals in its backyard. Though U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates praises the treaty, which calls for technical assistance and shared training, as a step to "deepen cooperation," the bottom line may be much more basic. In...
  • A Love-Hate Relationship With Birds

    Turkeys, cardinals, bald eagles—love ’em! It’s those darned starling/crow look-alikes—not to mention those maddening finch/robin sound-alikes—that ought to be stuffed.
  • The Vanishing Role of Women in Church Readings

    By Lisa Miller  Response to my April 12 article "A Woman's Place Is in the Church" was overwhelming. Maureen Dowd cited it in her New York Times column. Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, critiqued it in an op-ed. But one of the questions most often asked in e-mails from readers concerned the last paragraph, which asserted that Bible stories about women have slowly disappeared from the Sunday lectionary. Regular women who go to mass only on Sundays rarely have the opportunity to hear stories of women from the Bible. If they don't see or hear themselves reflected in church, I argued, they will leave: and they'll take their children with them. People wanted to see proof. Which stories have been left out? Over what period of time? A good place to start is this article from a 1996 issue of Liturgy magazine, by Ruth Fox, OSB, which explains how women have been revised out of the readings.
  • On Banking Reform, Time for a Deal

    For the last three days I've been checking in with Senate sources in both parties about the financial-services bill and been told the same thing: ignore the cloture votes, there's gonna be a deal.Well, after three such votes, it now seems like it's time to make a deal—which was the plan all along, and why I predicted in the magazine this week that there will ultimately be a bill.Here's why:The big banks are willing to accept the bill, as long as they can nip and tuck it enough to suit their tastes, which is happening. "We know it's going to happen, and we'll figure out how to live with it," a top banking lobbyist told me on condition that I not identify him. If there are too many intrusive reporting requirements in it for the smaller banks to bear, well, too bad. "Not all the stuff in the legislation is that unreasonable. We'll survive," he said.The new consumer agency will be created, but it won't be a fully independent...
  • Quote of the Day: Gordon Brown

      "She was just a sort of bigoted woman. She said she used be Labour. I mean it's just ridiculous." —U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, providing an example of how not to campaign for politicians everywhere, not just Britain. He made the remark after speaking with a constituent, apparently unaware that he was on microphone.
  • Financial Reform Cloture Votes: When Losing Is Good Politics

    For the third time in as many days, Democratic senators failed to garner enough votes to bring a financial-regulator-reform bill to the floor of the Senate for debate (UPDATE: GOP senators have just decided to allow the bill to move to the floor and will attempt to change it in open debate). Both parties' blustering notwithstanding—GOP senators say they're concerned about preventing further "taxpayer-funded bailouts" of firms deemed too big to fail, while Democrats railed against the opposition for refusing even to allow a bill to come to the floor—the strategy of putting the legislation up for a cloture vote day after day only to see it fail every time seems, at first blush, like mere short-term political theater to force the GOP's hand. Will calling for a daily vote really put enough pressure on Republicans to get them to relent? It's certainly possible that Democrats are bashing their heads against that wall to try to force GOP senators to engage in...
  • Today in 'Be Careful What You Wish For': McCain's Message Is Heard

    John McCain insisted to us that he is not a maverick, and never claimed to be one. Being in a tough primary fight in his conservative home state of Arizona, McCain wanted to be sure that his constituents back home get the message that he is a loyal Republican, uninterested in working with Democrats to solve the nation's problems that he once professed to care about, such as immigration and climate change. Well, the message has been received. Via Greg Sargent:  A fascinating...
  • Et Tu, Lindsey?

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed on Tuesday what our own Howard Fineman had here first: he is not going to push immigration reform to the top of the Senate's agenda. So, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is the person to watch once again on climate-change legislation. The House has already passed it, but the Democrats will need some Republican support to break the filibuster. Graham was playing that essential role, but threatened to take his toys and go home when the Democrats were rumored to be pushing immigration ahead of climate change. Graham has stuck his neck out to make a deal with Democrats on both climate change and immigration. As Ezra Klein notes, with energy legislation more likely to actually become law, Graham is right to demand that Democrats push it through, shifting political advantage for them notwithstanding. So Graham had his reasons to back off the tough job of energy reform. And he could blame it on the Democrats rather than just being a shameless...
  • Rick Perry to Coyote: 'Eat Lead'

     In last week's cover package, "Don't Mess With Texas," my NEWSWEEK colleagues Evan Thomas and Arian Campo-Flores compared Lone Star State governor Rick Perry to the "Marlboro Man," and looking at the cover image, I could sort of see why: the creased face, the squinty eyes, the windswept mane. But it turns out that Perry's similarities to that paragon of tobacco-fueled cowboy masculinity are more than skin deep—and, predictably enough, he wants the voters of Texas (and perhaps America as a whole) to know all about it. I'm referring, of course, to a shared affinity for shooting stuff dead.In a new interview with the Associated Press's Jim Vertuno, Perry seems to have launched, unprovoked, into a yarn about how he recently took out a coyote while exercising near his home in Austin. The details: Pistol-packing Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a message for wily coyotes out there: Don't mess with my dog. Perry told The Associated Press on...
  • Cape Wind Gets the Green Light, Enviros (Finally) Revel

    America's first, and most promising, offshore wind project was finally given the go-ahead this morning by Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The project includes 130 turbines over 24 square miles off historic Nantucket Sound with a public and private price tag of $1 billion. Salazar just gave this statement in the Massachusetts State House in Boston:“After careful consideration of all the concerns expressed during the lengthy review and consultation process and thorough analyses of the many factors involved, I find that the public benefits weigh in favor of approving the Cape Wind project at the Horseshoe Shoal location. With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our nation’s energy future, ushering in America’s first offshore wind-energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region.”The U.S. lags far behind other countries in Western Europe and Asia on offshore wind, many of which have robust development off their coasts. But the...
  • Raina Disapproves: How Police Handled the Roethlisberger Rape Allegations

    I'm warning you now: do not read this post if you've just eaten or you may lose your meal. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveals the truly vile (in my opinion) actions of the police on the evening Ben Roethlisberger allegedly raped a young woman. (No charges have been filed, and Roethlisberger has said he is innocent of any allegations.) Basing its story on the official report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the paper says: After hearing the young woman’s story, Blash quickly notified Roethlisberger and his group of her allegation. The sergeant, who has since resigned amid an internal investigation into his behavior, approached two of the quarterback’s associates ... and told them what had transpired. Barravecchio, a Coraopolis, Pa., officer assigned to a federal Drug Enforcement Administration task force, said Blash told them: "We have a problem, this drunken [expletive], drunk off her ass, is accusing Ben of rape." Now, I never went to any polic...
  • Reaching Out to Russia

    There's no love lost between Moscow and NATO. Over the past two decades, nine former Soviet states and satellites have joined the U.S. led alliance, and others have hinted at following suit. This expansion has fed a deep distrust between Moscow and the West, and even contributed to Russia's decision to invade Georgia in 2008.But NATO seems to be following President Barack Obama's lead and attempting to "reset" relations with the Kremlin. At last week's NATO meeting in Estonia (itself once part of the empire), Secretary General Anders Rasmussen suggested that Russia be included in NATO plans to build a missile defense system. Although thick with irony--President Reagan first proposed a missile shield in 1983 as a safeguard against the Soviets--the overture was a clear attempt to ease Kremlin concerns that the antimissile system is targeted at Russia. Also last week, four key NATO countries called for removal of the last U.S. tactical nukes on the...