Obama’s New Act

AP reports on Obama’s new act as he campaigned prior to the Nevada caucus. It’s part humor, and part a serious commentary on why we do not want to go back to the Clinton years:

With a high-stakes match on the line Saturday, Obama embraced local traditions by debuting a biting political standup routine Thursday night that mocked his rival.

Obama began by recalling a moment in Tuesday night’s debate when he and his rivals were asked to name their biggest weakness. Obama answered first, saying he has a messy desk and needs help managing paperwork – something his opponents have since used to suggest he’s not up to managing the country. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said his biggest weakness is that he has a powerful response to seeing pain in others, and Clinton said she gets impatient to bring change to America.

“Because I’m an ordinary person, I thought that they meant, ‘What’s your biggest weakness?'” Obama said to laughter from a packed house at Rancho High School. “If I had gone last I would have known what the game was. And then I could have said, ‘Well, ya know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don’t want to be helped. It’s terrible.'”

“Folks, they don’t tell you what they mean!” he said. Obama chuckled at his own joke before riffing on another Clinton answer in the debate, when she said that she is happy that the bankruptcy bill she voted for in 2001 never became law.

“She says, ‘I voted for it but I was glad to see that it didn’t pass.’ What does that mean?” he asked, again drawing laughter from the crowd and himself. “No seriously, what does that mean? If you didn’t want to see it passed, then you can vote against it! People don’t say what they mean.

“You know what I’m saying is true,” he said, then addressed his routine directly at audience members who don’t know who they will vote for yet. “Undecideds, remember now, remember what I’m saying.”

He continued by responding to a new Clinton radio ad that accused him of having financial ties to supporters of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site that most Nevadans are loath to come to their state.

“I have said over and over again I’m against Yucca,” Obama said. “I’m against Yucca Mountain. I think the science is not there. I’ve never, I’ve never been for Yucca. Never been for it. Never said I was for it.

“Suddenly you’ve got the Clinton camp out there saying, ‘He’s for Yucca.’ What part of I’m not for Yucca do you not understand?” he said, then laughed along with his audience.

As the laughter subsided, Obama drove home the broader point he’s been trying to make against Clinton the entire campaign.

“Those kinds of tricks, that kind of approach to politics is what has to stop because what happens is then nobody believes anything,” Obama said. “The voters don’t believe what politicians say. They get cynical. Folks in Congress, they’ll tell you they’re looking out for you – they’re looking out for somebody else. We have to change that politics and that’s why I’m running for president.”

SciFi Friday: Torchwood; Sarah Connors; Jericho; and Building the Enterprise

Despite the strike, two new genre shows premiered this week, with one coming from the UK and not being affected by the strike. Torchwood began its second season on the BBC. The show also premiers in the US on BBC America on January 26, and I’ll avoid spoilers for those planning to watch but who haven’t seen it in the UK or downloaded it elsewhere. The second season starts soon after the first season ended, with Jack returning in the nick of time after being off with The Doctor. Another time agent, who will be a recurring character, comes to Cardiff which reveals a little more of Jack’s past (future?).

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles premiered with two episodes. The show starts shortly after Terminator II and, as we were warned, takes of on a different time line from Terminator III and the planed movie sequels. Desiring to have the series take place in the present, they had a creative means of moving from the end of Terminator II to present using time travel. I do hope that they don’t fall back too often on getting out of trouble by using methods sent back from the future. I’ll have to see more episodes to determine how worthwhile the show is. Hopefully the show won’t continually come down to repeated chase scenes along with Cameron fighting another cyborg, but they have provided the groundwork for additional plot ideas. Besides, with the strike on there’s not very much competition so I’ll continue watching for now. I am curious as to who is stronger, Cameron or Jamie Sommers, as well as whose show can last longer.

Jericho returns next month with plans to tell a complete story. All of a sudden, a seven episode season isn’t looking that unusual considering how many shows have been cut short. SciFi Wire obtained some information from executive producer Carol Barbee:

“We get into Jericho and reconstruction has begun,” Barbee said. “The Cheyenne government is in town. They’re rebuilding. People are getting jobs, people are getting cell phones, life is coming back to Jericho. But it’s changed, because now there’s this government, Cheyenne, and they have contractors who are working for them named Jennings & Rall, and … this company … [has] set up a storefront on Main Street. And they’re going to be a big presence in our lives for the next season.”

Barbee said that the new season will take the show into new territory thematically. “The headline is [that] the first season was about surviving the nuclear attack and saving the town,” she said. “The second season is about saving the country and our way of life, our system of government. And then the natural progression is to have that be save the world for the third season.”

Two different endings for the second season have been filmed, with one written to lead into the third season if the show is renewed.

The initial reviews of Cloverfield have not been very good but the movie does include the first trailer for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek movie. Here is a picture of the USS Enterprise under construction:

Clintons Escalate Smear Campaign Against Obama, This Time Lying About Reagan Quote

After almost eight years of George Bush, it is disappointing to see that one of the front runners for the Democratic nomination is revealing herself to be just as dishonest. Ever since Hillary Clinton has been challenged for Barack Obama for the nomination, she has resorted to a series of attacks based upon intentionally distorting Obama’s record and statement. We’ve seen this in the “fairy tale” claims about his opposition to the Iraq war, the distortion of the meaning of voting “present” in the Illinois legislature, and his Social Security policy. Clinton is again lying about what Obama has said, this time about Ronald Reagan.

In a recent interview, Obama compared himself to presidents such as Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy who “changed the trajectory of America.” He has similarly used FDR as a similar example in other interviews. Obama spoke of how the Republicans “were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time over the last 10 or 15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom.” What is significant is that Obama also criticized the Republican ideas and laid out a set of policies quite different from what Ronald Reagan would have approved of.

Many liberal bloggers have attacked Obama merely for mentioning Reagan. Clinton has now attacked by lying about what Obama said:

I have to say, you know, my leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last ten to fifteen years. That’s not the way I remember the last ten to fifteen years.

That is actually pretty much the opposite of what Obama was talking about. Bill Clinton also repeated the same lie as he said, “Her principal opponent said that since 1992, the Republicans have had all the good ideas.”

An Obama spokesman responded by noting that there was one bad Republican idea which Hillary Clinton did go along with:

It’s hard to take Hillary Clinton’s latest attack seriously when she’s the one who supported George Bush’s war in Iraq, the most damaging Republican idea of our generation. While others were triangulating and poll-testing their positions, Senator Obama has been fighting for progressive ideals for over two decades.

If one wanted to criticize Obama for what he actually said, as opposed to these gross distortions, one possible criticism would be to accuse him of a sort of hubris for believing he can have the effect that Reagan and John F. Kennedy had. Sam Stein discussed the comparisons between Obama and Reagan with former Reagan advisers. Charlie Black’s answer might best apply to the Clinton attacks as he said, “He is a very doctrinaire liberal and Reagan was the father of the conservative movement, so the differences are quite vast.”


Factcheck Reviews Voodoo Economics

Some see the world as it is. Conservatives often live in their own alternative reality which denies science and denies sound economics whenever they conflict with their ideology. The mind set is easy to understand. Those whose interpretation of the bible tells them that evolution did not occur believe any and all of the bogus attacks on evolution and pretend that the vast amount of supporting evidence simply does not exist. Those who do not want to consider any changes in their lives to reduce global warming ignore that the consensus of all the scientists working in the field is incorrect. Some people who both want tax cuts and don’t want to make the hard decisions on spending cuts defend the Laffer curve despite all evidence to the contrary.

Last fall I posted on how Megan McArdle found that a conservative publication was not willing to publish an article which questioned the Laffer curve because it “because it violated their editorial line on taxation.” George Bush Sr. once laughed at the belief that you can cut taxes and not spending as “voodoo economics” until he found it was easier to stick to conservative group think. Factcheck.org looks at the Laffre curve today:

Q: Have tax cuts always resulted in higher tax revenues and more economic growth as many tax cut proponents claim?

A:No. In fact, economists say tax cuts do not spark enough growth to pay for themselves.

This economic theory is what George H.W. Bush called “voodoo economics.” We called it “supply-side spin” when we wrote about Republican presidential contender John McCain’s claim that President George W. Bush’s tax cuts had increased federal revenues. We found that a slew of administration economists from the Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury Department, the Joint Committee on Taxation and the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers all disagreed with that theory, saying that tax cuts may spur economic growth but they lead to revenues that are lower than they would have been if the cuts hadn’t been enacted.The supply-side theory that tax-cut proponents often espouse was demonstrated by the Laffer curve, named for economist Arthur B. Laffer. The curve suggests that a higher tax rate can generate just as much revenue as a lower rate. But most economists are not Laffer-curve purists. Instead, while they may believe in the power of tax cuts to create an economic boost, they don’t say that growth is enough to completely make up for lost revenue. For example, N. Gregory Mankiw, former chair of the current President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, calculated that the growth spurred by capital gains tax cuts pays for about half of lost revenue over a number of years and that payroll tax cuts generate enough growth to pay for about 17 percent of what is lost.

Corporate income taxes, however, may be an exception. There is some evidence that cutting the corporate tax rate can produce more revenue than was projected under the higher rate in the special case of multinational corporations, which can move their money and operations around to take advantage of lower taxes in certain countries. Economists with the pro-business American Enterprise Institute came to that conclusion in a study released in July 2007. They found that lower corporate rates attract enough growth in corporate income to produce higher government revenues. However, one of the authors, Kevin A. Hassett, told FactCheck.org that small countries, such as Ireland, had the most success and that “it may or may not be correct” to apply the study’s results to the United States.

-Lori Robertson

United States Congressional Budget Office. “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal years 2008 to 2017” Jan. 2007.

United States Council of Economic Advisers. “Economic Report of the President.” U.S. Government Printing Office. Feb. 2003.

United States Joint Committee on Taxation. “Estimated Budget Effects of the Conference Agreement for H.R. 1836” JCX-51-01. 26 May 2001.

United States Joint Committee on Taxation. “Estimated Budget Effects of the Conference Agreement for H.R. 2 The ‘Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003.’ ” JCX-55-03. 22 May 2003.

United States Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Analysis. “A Dynamic Analysis of Permanent Extension of the President’s Tax Relief.” 25 July 2006.

Mankiw, N. Gregory and Matthew Weinzierl, “Dynamic Scoring: A Back-of-the-Envelope Guide,” 12 Dec. 2005.

Revenue-Maximizing Corporate Income Taxes: The Laffer Curve in OECD Countries,” American Enterprise Institute, AEI Working Paper #137, 31 July 2007.

Ron Paul Just Doesn’t Learn

When you’re a politician facing problems due having written racist articles in the past and over your association with white supremacists, what do you do for damage control? If you are Ron Paul, nothing. Instead you go to Bob Jones University.

Posted in Ron Paul. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Feingold Finds Edwards the “Most Problematic” Candidate

Russ Feingold on why he would not support John Edwards:

The one that is the most problematic is (John) Edwards, who voted for the Patriot Act, campaigns against it. Voted for No Child Left Behind, campaigns against it. Voted for the China trade deal, campaigns against it. Voted for the Iraq war … He uses my voting record exactly as his platform, even though he had the opposite voting record.

When you had the opportunity to vote a certain way in the Senate and you didn’t, and obviously there are times when you make a mistake, the notion that you sort of vote one way when you’re playing the game in Washington and another way when you’re running for president, there’s some of that going on.