Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a journalist based in New York.

Recent Articles

Waiting on the New York Senate to Come Around

It's painful how close New York is to passing a same-sex marriage bill. The governor supports it; the state assembly supports it. Exactly half of 62 state senators support it. If one more senator would sign on, it would pass. But [after a four hour meeting]( ) discussing the bill this afternoon, Senate leaders would still not commit to bringing the bill to the floor. The bill in question has made a particular effort to keep religious institutions out of the issue: it ensures that any religious leader who does not want to marry same-sex couples would not legally have to. The bill makes it illegal for the government to discriminate against same-sex couples when issuing marriage licenses. I don't believe that all 31 of the remaining state senators think that same-sex marriage is an abomination that has no place in society. But they know a vote for this bill could hurt them in the next election: the Conservative...

Charisma and the Candidate

As a campaigner, [**Mitt Romney** is awkward]( ). It's surprising that he's as awkward as he is, because he made his career in business, where charisma is valued as an X factor that makes CEOs great. A quick search on Forbes reveals a wealth of tips to cultivate charisma, and it seems like someone as ambitious as Romney must have spent hours reading these sort of how-tos. [This definition]( ) from Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor is helpful in understanding what Romney lacks: > "[Wiseman] says every charismatic leader shares three qualities: He or she feels emotions very strongly, excites them in others and is impervious to the influence of other charismatic people." Romney might be impervious to the charms of someone like **Barack Obama**; he might excite strong feelings (must they be positive feelings?) in others. But...

House Republicans: See, We Do Support Renewable Energy!

House Republicans might hate climate change but apparently they support renewable energy projects, as long as they're being built on public lands. The House Committee on Natural Resources, the same group of people that led the charge against the Obama administration's wild lands policy, this afternoon [put forward a different vision]( ) for what those lands should be used for: they released a set of bills designed to speed development of wind and geothermal power in places like the Outer Continental Shelf, South Dakota, and Idaho. These bills are part of the Republican's American Energy Initiative, [the iconography for which]( ) reminds me of nothing so much as Obama '08 ads, dyed in orange. Of course, this being a Republican initiative, its policies don't end with wind and geothermal: [it also includes bills](

Light Bulbs and Last-Ditch Climate Solutions

[Via Andrew Sullivan]( ), I'm reminded that a lot of conservative-minded people are annoyed about the impending switch away from incandescent bulbs. Their argument is that the government is taking away small freedoms and the power of the market by restricting bulb choice. At Bloomberg Views, [Virginia Postrel suggested]( ): > What matters, from a public policy perspective, isn’t any given choice but the total amount of electricity I use (which is itself only a proxy for the total emissions caused by generating that electricity). If they're really interested in environmental quality, policy makers shouldn’t care how households get to that total. They should just raise the price of electricity, through taxes or higher rates, to discourage using it. I believe that when policy makers tried to do just that by implementing a...

The Campaign to Cut Government Waste: Efficiency Theater

Ah, waste, fraud, and abuse. Nobody likes those, do they? Of course not! That's why the Obama administration is going to eliminate it. A lot of it. Just don't ask exactly what. Or how. The White House [rolled out]( ) its Campaign to Cut Government Waste this morning with a video that might have been advertising the most boring reality TV show ever. Quick cuts! Candid shots! Multiple angles of the president's head! (Seriously, what's with the action shot, at 2:59, of VP Joe Biden's body moving towards a fancy chair? Oh, what's that Mr. President? "Nobody messes with Joe"? I'm totally convinced by the power in his stride.) The video is cute. It begins with Barack Obama being honest with you about the Federal Register. "No one reads this thing," he says. He doesn't mean the content of the Federal Register, though, but the actual paper copies that the government sends out each day. People read it on the Internet,...