Andy Stern Is Not Happy
December 17, 2009

Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, just put out a statement on health care reform. There are few players in the health care debate whose judgment I respect more than his. And he is not happy with what's transpired in the last week. I wonder if the White House understands the very serious problem emerging on its left. Keep in mind that insiders won't be able to dismiss Stern the way they do Howard Dean. Stern is seasoned. He is shrewd. And he has serious clout. I'll have more to say soon.

Why Are The Himalayas Melting? Blame Soot.
December 16, 2009

One of the biggest unpleasant climate shocks in recent years has been the discovery that the Himalayas are heating up much faster than the global average—a trend that most climate models had failed to predict, and something that's difficult to explain by pointing to greenhouse gases alone. And it's a critical issue, seeing as how Himalaya's glaciers provide water for more than 500 million people in countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and they're expected to shrivel away by 2035 or so.

Planet Worth
December 11, 2009

Of all the different industry groups scrambling to shape climate policy in Washington--from electric utilities to Detroit automakers--one stands out as a bit unexpected: Wall Street. Financial giants like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have enlisted, all told, more than 100 lobbyists to roam the Capitol and influence the debate over how to curb greenhouse gases. There’s a reason for that: Any cap-and-trade bill that puts a limit on emissions and allows polluters to buy and sell permits will create a vast carbon market.

Science 0, Politics 1
December 03, 2009

After nearly three days of deliberation, the Senate finally cast its first vote to pass the Mikulski amendment to provide for women’s preventative services. The amendment, which passed 61-39, would prohibit insurance companies from charging co-pays for a range of women’s preventative services as decided by an HHS agency. While the unamended reform bill would have covered most preventative services with little to no cost-sharing, it wouldn’t have necessarily included some services specific to women.

Baltimore Bets on Port Privatization
December 03, 2009

Frank Sobotka never delivered on his dredging in Season 2 of The Wire, but it appears like Baltimore is finally one step closer to getting a much improved Port of Baltimore. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced last week that the state signed an agreement with Port America to operate the port for 50 years. The deal is contingent on Port America, the nation’s largest port operator, to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the facility.

Life Just Got a Lot Harder for Arkansas Inmates
November 30, 2009

The most obvious tragedy of the Washington police shootings is the deaths of the four police officers. The fact that the suspected gunman is a convicted felon from Arkansas whose 95-year prison sentence was commuted by then-Governor Mike Huckabee in 2000 is a tragedy for anyone currently in prison in Arkansas who might hope to one day receive executive clemency. Just consider what happened in Massachusetts after Willie Horton.

Reid Is Ready to Go (Updated)
November 18, 2009

Multiple sources on and around Capitol Hill say Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is ready to go. At 5 p.m. today, he'll present the his full health care reform bill, complete with a Congrssional Budget Office score, to a meeting of the Democratic caucus. A press conference may follow. The Democratic message machine is already hard at work.

Census NOT as easy as 1-2-3…
November 10, 2009

There has been much talk lately about how politics complicates the 2010 Census. (See this, this, and this.) Politics aside, it’s a daunting task to count each of the nearly 308 million residents of the United States once and only once. Some people are inevitably missed, while others are counted twice. The 2000 census actually double-counted (about 11.6 million) more than it undercounted (10.2 million). Duplicates included “snowbirds” who spent part of the year in a second home, as well as college students and those in the military or prison.

Will Rick Perry Get Away with Murder?
October 14, 2009

Not murder in the literal sense, of course, though in this case the metaphor is less distant than one would prefer.

Revenge of Maryland's Porn Police
October 08, 2009

Well, I had thought the University of Maryland's whole porn saga from this spring--in which piety-minded state Sen. Andrew Harris vowed to withhold funding if the campus allowed the student union to screen the skin flick "Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge"--ended when the school announced that the show would indeed go on. How wrong I was. That priggish little nanny Harris couldn't let the matter go.