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  • Why Karl Rove Agreed to Cut a Pro-Census TV Spot

    As the Obama administration prepares to dispatch U.S. Census Bureau head counters on their decennial door-to-door rounds, right-wing Web sites are feverish with conspiracy theories about how the census is the first step toward communism, totalitarianism, and other isms. But today the census received a strong endorsement from one of the Obama administration's most outspoken critics: Karl Rove....
  • The Spring of Obama's Content

     Washington, a city built upon a swamp, doesn’t get many nice days. Today, however, is one of them. For President Obama, it’s a day centered squarely on ceremony. Earlier this morning Obama hosted 30,000 visitors at the White House Easter egg roll. And this afternoon, he’ll deliver the first pitch to start the baseball season at Nationals’ Park.Both events happen annually and have been done by presidents for almost a century, so Obama isn’t in any way forging new ground (although rarely do both happen on the same day). But today’s line-up is symbolic in other ways. After a brutal winter for the administration and Democrats in Congress, during which their signature issue was on a respirator, Obama and his presidency may well be turning a corner, appearing to finally be comfortable in the powerful and highly scrutinized role.By now, Obama has been in office for just over 14 months, and it might just be an issue of timing. “It takes a year to learn how to be president,” says Stephen...
  • Tea Partiers: They're Just Like Us!

    Gallup released it's latest research into the demographics of tea-party supporters this morning, and some of the results are a little surprising. For all the talk of tea partiers being older and whiter than the rest of the country, Gallup's findings show that the demographics of tea-party supporters largely align with the rest of the country on several socioeconomic categories. The 28 percent of Americans who identified themselves as tea-party supporters do tend to be whiter, but not older. And on most things, they reflect American culture more broadly.There are of course a couple of exceptions. Predictably, tea-party supporters are significantly more conservative than the rest of the country. Only 8 percent of Democrats say they support the tea party, even though Dems make up 32 percent of the adult population. Men are more heavily represented than women. And tea partiers also tend not to be in lower income brackets: 55 percent earn more than $50,000 each year, compared...
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    China's Governor in Tibet on the Dalai Lama

    Two years ago on March 14, rioting in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa left at least 22 people dead. China's leaders have since scrambled to restore normalcy in the area. In January, Padma Choling (also known as Baima Chilin) was appointed the new chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, making him the most senior ethnic Tibetan in the regional government. Baima, 58, recently met with Newsweek's Melinda Liu in Beijing—his first exclusive interview with foreign media since his promotion. Excerpts: ...
  • The Hutaree Arrests and the New Militia Movement

    Even in a subculture where outlandish conspiratorial thinking is common, the Hutaree militia of southeast Michigan is on the fringe. The group's leaders invented their own theology--the "doctrine of the Hutaree"--in which former NATO secretary-general Javier Solana is believed to be the Antichrist. The Hutaree's exalted commander is called a "radok"; deputies and lieutenants are known as "boromanders" and "zulifs." The secretive group was virtually unknown until last week, when the FBI arrested nine members of the Hutaree, including alleged leader David Brian Stone, on charges of "seditious conspiracy" and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction. Their alleged objective: to spark a war against the government by targeting its foot soldiers--local cops, whom the Hutaree referred to as "the brotherhood." Federal investigators say an 18-month probe revealed deadly plots in the works, including an alleged plan to kill a...
  • Who Is Obama's Next Supreme Court Pick?

    While much of Washington has been preoccupied with health care, a small group of White House lawyers has been focused on another perennially contentious issue: naming the next Supreme Court justice. Although there are no guarantees, most court watchers expect John Paul Stevens, the 89-year-old longtime liberal lion, to announce his retirement soon, perhaps as early as next month, after the court holds its last oral argument of the current session. (Update: On April 9, John Paul Stevens announced his retirement, expected sometime this summer.) One leading frontrunner to replace him: Solicitor General Elena Kagan. A former Clinton White House lawyer and Harvard Law School dean, Kagan has certain advantages over U.S. appellate court Judge Diane Wood, another shortlist candidate, especially to White House aides looking to avoid a confirmation battle. At 49, she is 10 years younger than Wood and, never having been a judge, lacks the lengthy paper trail that could be picked apart by...
  • The World’s Best Eye on the Cosmos Goes Dark in Maryland

    Next week President Obama is slated to deliver his first speech on the administration's NASA policy, which calls for transferring routine space travel to private companies. The proposal has sparked fears of government layoffs and questions about the wisdom of ceding cosmic flight to Russia, China, and corporate America. But another likely consequence has been overlooked: the irrevocable end of the Hubble Space Telescope, hailed as the greatest eye on the cosmos since Galileo.None of Hubble's work—including the first images of planets orbiting another sun—would have been possible without the shuttle, which launched the device in 1990 and ferried astronauts up on five different occasions for crucial repairs. Last year's maintenance trip left the orbiting camera more powerful than ever. But no more U.S. spacecraft, at least for the foreseeable future, means no more service trips—and a permanent sleep for the iconic machine the next time it breaks down, or when its batteries die around...
  • Why Obama Can't End Nukes

    This Spring, Barack Obama will push toward his goal of a nuclear-free world. But the stiffest resistance may be at home.
  • A New High Bar for School Reform In Florida

    The White House recently crowned its first Race to the Top winners, awarding Delaware and Tennessee millions of dollars to overhaul their public-school systems. The states beat out dozens of others by passing laws that tie teacher evaluations to student performance and make it easier to fire bad educators. Bold as they sound, however, the reforms feel almost timid next to what Florida—which didn't win any federal money in the first round of the grant contest—has cooking for its next proposal.Late last month, the Senate approved a bill that would make Florida the first state to abolish tenure and replace seniority-based pay with a system that pegs each teacher's annual raise to a performance review—half of which will be based on test scores. It's an "all-out assault" on educators, according to the state's largest school union. But with support from the governor and a Republican majority in the house, the bill appears destined to become law. It may also become a benchmark for Race to...
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    Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda

    In only its first year, Sean Hannity argues, the Obama administration has been radical, even tyrannical, in its “socialist” policies. But rather than whine about it, conservatives should focus their anger strategically. Calm down and think smart, warns Hannity. And above all, keep saying no to Democrats wherever possible.
  • Hutaree Suspected Former NATO Chief of Being the Antichrist

    The Hutaree Militia of southern Michigan, whose recently arrested leader and members consider themselves to be Christian warriors, evidently feared that a little-known (to most Americans) European politician and bureaucrat might be the antichrist. A lengthy posting on the Hutaree.com Web site, headlined "10 Horns of the European Super State; Mr. Europe and 7 years of peace in Israel," discusses at length—exhaustive length—a theory that Javier Solana, the former secretary-general of NATO and also a former senior official of the European Union, could be the antichrist. Part of the evidence for this notion, which seems to be popular among millennialist Christians and militia adherents, is the fact that most Americans have never heard of Solana—the reason for this being, according to the treatise's author, a conspiratorial "media blackout" on Solana's existence and activities....
  • Why the Democrats Are Saying, 'Drill Baby, Drill!'

    President Obama's decision to open up vast tracts of ocean off the Atlantic coast and eastern Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling is making big waves. What's most interesting is that after eight years of George Bush and Dick Cheney, it's the Democrats who will end up lifting a longstanding moratorium on exploration off the East Coast. ...
  • What Obama's Predator-Strike Policy Tells Us About Bush's Covert Attacks

    Current and former U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials say they see little difference between Barack Obama's policy on remote-control drone attacks as articulated last week by a top administration lawyer and that of George W. Bush. As we reported, in a speech before a legal group last week, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh called it the "considered view of this administration ... that targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war." ...
  • The Numbers Don't Lie

    A Democratic senator I can't name, who reluctantly voted for the health-care bill out of loyalty to his party and his admiration for Barack Obama, privately complained to me that the measure was political folly, in part because of the way it goes into effect: some taxes first, most benefits later, and rate hikes by insurance companies in between. ...
  • Violent Video Clip May Give Insight Into 'Hutaree' Mindset

    A grotesque and violent homemade video posted on YouTube may offer some insights into the mindset of the Michigan-based Hutaree Militia, nine of whose members have been arrested by the feds for allegedly plotting to kill an unidentified local cop and then attack other police officers who gathered for his funeral....
  • Can the Democratic Party Capture Formerly Uninsured Voters?

    The biggest political reason for health reform is the Democrats' base. Leaders will be relying on the bill's passage to reenergize many of the voters—and prevent a disastrous erosion of support among young voters. How well that works will become clear in November and, probably, again in 2012. As fellow Gaggler Katie points out, there's good news for Dems on that front. It looks like the the so-called enthusiasm gap has closed between Republican voters, who have been motivated en masse by the tea-party movement and opposition to the bill, and Democratic voters, who were put off by the slow pace of reform....
  • Michigan Militia Group Has Bizarre Views

    Members of the Michigan and Ohio-based Hutaree Militia, nine of whom were indicted today on federal terrorism-related and sedition charges, appear to follow bizarre principles that sound like something out of a Ku Klux Klan handbook or fantasy novel....
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    Huey Long and Alan Grayson—Separated at Birth

    Fiery populist Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida is in the news for reporting death threats and comparing the right wing to Nazis who burned the Reichstag. But another comparison from the 1930s may be more apt, at least visually.
  • Wyoming: The Sage Grouse Could Cripple the Economy

    President Obama wants to double production of renewable energy by 2012, but a chicken-sized ground bird is tripping up progress. In the last century, the sage grouse—known for its iconic spiked tail -feathers—has been decimated by mining, ranching, and, most recently, the development of the rural West for wind farming. The bird won't mate near turbines, say biologists, and it's trapped on particular parcels of land by something of a mental block on crossing roads and under power lines. But since the grouse is concentrated in parts of the country's windiest states, an unusual green-vs.-green face-off is occurring, with the alternative-power lobby clashing with bird lovers like the Audubon Society.Now the fight may be entering a new stage. The Department of the Interior has moved to protect the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, casting doubt on wind development across the West. While specific restrictions won't be announced for at least a year, states are making preemptive...