Nick Baumann

Nick Baumann

Senior Editor

Nick is based in our DC bureau, where he covers national politics and civil liberties issues. Nick has also written for The Economist, The Atlantic, the Washington Monthly, and Commonweal. Email tips and insights to nbaumann [at] motherjones [dot] com. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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Fox News Asks: "Who Would Usama Want as Prez?"

| Fri Feb. 22, 2008 4:32 PM EST

The results are in from the latest FOX News survey, and we now know the answer to the most important question of the race: "Who is Usama Rooting For?":

Who does Usama bin Laden want to be the next president? More people think the terrorist leader wants Obama to win (30 percent) than think he wants Clinton (22 percent) or McCain (10 percent). Another 18 percent says it doesn't matter to bin Laden and 20 percent are unsure.

This is not a joke.

The SEIU Picks Obama

| Thu Feb. 14, 2008 8:53 PM EST

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The national executive board of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) endorsed Barack Obama Thursday evening. The members of the board voted electronically following a conference call that was scheduled for 6 p.m. A high level union official tells Mother Jones there was "overwhelming support" for Sen. Obama during the call. The endorsement doesn't become official until union locals representing 60 percent of the SEIU's members actually email in their vote, the official said. The locals have until 7:00 a.m. on Friday to do so, but given the results of the conference call any change in course seems highly improbable. An email from the union confirmed it will make a "major political announcement" on Friday at 1:00 p.m.

The SEIU has stayed neutral in the national contest until now, allowing its state affiliates to endorse any candidate. Many of the state organizations backed former Sen. John Edwards. But Edwards dropped out of the race shortly after a poor showing in South Carolina, where where he was born.

The SEIU's endorsement comes at a crucial time. Hillary Clinton, who has lost eight straight contests since Super Tuesday, is leading in the polls in Ohio and Texas, two delegate-rich states that will vote on March 4. Wins there could conceivably help her narrow the lead Obama has recently opened up in the delegate count. But the SEIU endorsement could alter the balance.

The Three Trillion Dollar War

| Wed Feb. 13, 2008 5:40 PM EST

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The Bush administration has spent a lot of money in Iraq since White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey was fired in 2002 for daring to predict the war might cost as much as $200 billion. An estimate issued last August by the Congressional Budget Office suggested the war will have cost at least $1 trillion before it's over. A September report (PDF) by the Democratic staff of Congress's Joint Economic Committee pegged the cost at $1.3 trillion. Now a new book by a Harvard professor and a Nobel Prize winner in economics claims the true cost could be more than twice that—as high as $3 trillion dollars. If you wanted to pay that off with a single wad of $1,000 bills, your billfold would have to be almost 240 miles wide.

The Continued Absurdity of the Missing White House Emails Case

| Mon Feb. 11, 2008 5:23 PM EST

Regular MotherJones.com readers may recall that last spring, the White House reported that it may have lost some 5 million emails. Later last year, two non-profits, the National Security Archive (NSA) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), sued to ensure the preservation of the emails. (That suit is still pending, and you can read about the whole story on our missing White House emails index page).

During the course of the legal proceedings, CREW filed Freedom of Information Act requests for documents prepared by the White House Office of Administration (OA) that analyzed the scale of the missing email problem. But the White House denied the FOIA requests, making the unique and unprecedented legal argument that the OA is not, in fact, a federal agency and therefore not subject to the FOIA. CREW sued, citing OA's previous treatment as an agency and history of responding to FOIA requests as obvious evidence that the White House argument was ridiculous. That brings us to today, when a DC district court ordered (PDF) limited discovery in order to find out whether OA is, in fact, a federal agency.

You read that right: CREW had to get a court order to gather information to prove that a government agency is, in fact, a government agency.

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