The Answer To The Gulf Spill Is... Corn?
May 06, 2010

Since environmentalists are all trying to pivot off the Gulf disaster to make the case for climate and energy legislation, I suppose you can't really blame the ethanol industry for wanting to join in the fun, too.

What's Haley Barbour's Angle?
May 06, 2010

[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] That's the first question you want to ask yourself any time you see something that makes little public-policy sense go down in Mississippi. The reason is that, as Brad Plumer and I documented in this piece several years ago, Barbour has never convincingly demonstrated that he severed ties to the lobbying firm he founded, Barbour, Griffith, & Rogers (BGR), when he became governor of Mississippi in 2004.

Who Pays For The Oil Cleanup?
May 03, 2010

So who pays for an oil-spill disaster like this one? Matthew Wald offers some context. Big, wealthy oil companies like BP are usually expected to pay to the cleanup costs themselves. But that still leaves the cost of all the indirect damage to fisheries and wildlife habitats in the area. In that case, under current law, an offshore rig operator is liable for up to $75 million in damages.

The Boss Hogg Oppo Research Continues!
April 20, 2010

Thanks to some great tips from several readers, the Boss Hogg file has expanded. While our official policy at Jonathan Chait is to refer to Haley Barbour exclusively as "Boss Hogg," a reader points out his striking resemblance to Sheriff Stuckey from "Mississippi Burning" (see above). As I've said before, I can't imagine Republicans would be crazy enough to nominate a White southerner who keeps a flag signed by Jeff Davis in his office. But the same reader makes an interesting case for why Barbour could likely be the nominee.

Eyjafjallajökull: Bad, But Could Be A Lot Worse
April 19, 2010

Setting aside all the questions about air travel and global cooling, have there been any other environmental consequences from the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull? As best I can tell from trawling around various news sources, the effects have actually been pretty mild—though they could get a lot worse if Eyjafjallajökull's sister volcano Katla erupted (the two have a storied history of blowing up one after the other).

The Boss Hogg Oppo Research Project Begins
April 19, 2010

In response to my latest item expressing bewilderment that Haley Barbour is considered a plausible Republican presidential candidate, a reader sends along this Newsweek profile from January: The Republican governor of Mississippi keeps a large portrait of the University Greys, the Confederate rifle company that suffered 100 percent casualties at Gettysburg, on a wall not far from a Stars and Bars Confederate flag signed by Jefferson Davis. Then there's the man himself.

Neo-Confederate History Month
April 08, 2010

As most readers have probably heard, Virginia’s Republican Governor Bob McDonnell got himself into hot water by declaring April “Confederate History Month,” in a proclamation that did not mention the rather pertinent fact that the Confederacy was a revolutionary (and by definition, treasonous) effort to maintain slavery against even the possibility of abolition. After the predictable firestorm of criticism, McDonnell allowed that it must have been a mistake not to mention slavery in his proclamation.

What's the Matter With Arkansas (and Idaho, and Oklahoma, and…) With Maps!
March 20, 2010

I noted in a previous post that wavering House members represent districts that have the most to gain from health reform. Thanks to my colleague Louis Woynarowski, we can see this in mapped form. He mapped uninsurance rates for every district represented by a wavering House member, as listed in FiredogLake's invaluable whip count. Each district is shaded to represent the percentage of nonelderly people who lack health coverage. The data comes from the Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey, as reported by Genevieve Kinney and colleagues.

What's the matter with Arkansas (and Idaho, and Oklahoma, and….)
March 17, 2010

Harold Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and a Special Correspondent for The Treatment. The New Deal was famously described as an arrangement whereby the South was forced against its will to accept billions of dollars every year. Something similar might be said of the current health reform. Washington is on pins and needles waiting to discern the votes of Blue Dog Representatives whose constituents have the most to gain from health reform.  I was reminded of this fact by Michael Tomasky's recent column.

Nuclear Standoff
March 12, 2010

As is often the case with tales of great discovery, the details of how buried treasure came to be found beneath the rolling countryside of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, have grown a little gauzy over the last 30 years. But here is the story as the prospectors tell it. One day, in March 1979, a man named Byrd Berman, a geologist by training, was driving down a road through cattle pastures when the scintillometer sitting on the dashboard of his Hertz rental car began to beep. The device, similar to a Geiger counter, was designed to detect the gamma radiation naturally emitted by uranium.