“This feels good being back in Michigan. You know, the trees are the right height, the streets are just right. I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles. I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs.” --Mitt Romney (There’s no need to even mock him. Just using his own words presents the message).
Lisa Chan, the actress who appeared in Pete Hoekstra’s racist Superbowl ad, has apologized for her role on Facebook:
“I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities. As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions.”Lisa Chan
CEO/ President, The Strive
Vice President, Sparxo Inc.
Although the conventional wisdom has been that Mitt Romney is the probable Republican nominee, he is certainly having a hard time establishing himself as a front runner. Before today’s poll came out, Nate Silver listed ten previous front-runners in alphabetical order, including some Republicans who led in the polls without being a declared candidate: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. Today, Public Policy Polling makes Rick Santorum the eleventh. Santorum leads at 38 percent. Romney trails at 23 percent, with Gingrich at 17 percent and Ron Paul at 13 percent.
Rick Santorum does even better if he does not have to divide he conservative vote with Newt Gingrich. If Gingrich were to drop out, the poll shows that 58 percent of his supporters would go to Santorum. In a such a three way race, Santorum get to 50 percent, while Romney would be at 28 percent and Paul at 15 percent.
Leadership in the GOP race has not meant very much to date, but falling behind at this stage does create problems for Romney. He might go negative against Santorum as he did against Gingrich, but his negative ads are starting to backfire. Some suggest that instead of going negative against Santorum, Romney must convert to a positive campaign. I’m not sure how a man who lacks any core beliefs or convictions can do this. His strongest pitch is that he can make up the biggest lies about Barack Obama.
The Maine caucuses conclude tonight with a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. There is speculation that Paul might be able to pull an upset victory. If you cannot beat a crackpot like Ron Paul, it is hard to see victory for the nomination as inevitable.
There’s another potential embarrassment for Romney. Public Policy Polling is also seeing the start of a surge for Santorum in Michigan. A loss in Michigan would be devastating to Romney, both for losing his home state and because of reinforcing Santorum’s dominance over Romney in the Midwest. Perhaps Romney will try to flip-flop on having been born and raised in Michigan. Would Mitt Romney’s birth certificate then become an issue?
CPAC is also conducting their straw poll. To paraphrase Jay Leno, Romney is promising to change his views to whatever views CPAC members desire. Romney pandered before them, claiming to be “severely conservative.” The word severe might sound out of place here, unless you see it as an honest admission from Romney, such as “I am severely insane” or, at very least, “I am severely out of touch with the voters of this country.”
Republicans have hoped that the economic downturn they created could help them win mid-western states should voters blame the incumbent for the state of the economy. Despite all their effort to slow economic recovery, Bloomberg shows signs that Obama might wind up benefiting from recent economic improvement in the region:
From northern Michigan’s iron mines to Pennsylvania’s natural-gas fields, the industrial heartland of America is humming with jobs again as a region once left for dead recovers faster than the rest of the U.S.
The turnaround may shape this year’s race for the White House as President Barack Obama seeks to reverse Republican gains in the Midwest. The title of his State of the Union address, “An America Built to Last,” evoked a theme of manufacturing’s revival meant to resonate on the campaign trail.
The economies of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania — all states Obama won in 2008 — have improved faster than that of the U.S. since the recession’s depth in April 2009, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. Michigan is expected to lead all 50 states during the next six months, the Fed data show.
“We’re going back to a region we abandoned a long time ago to get energy again from rocks that were already drilled a thousand times,” said Clay Williams, chief financial officer for Houston-based National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NOV), which started in Oil City, Pennsylvania, in 1862. “We’re going back to our roots.”
Economic recovery in so-called Rust Belt states may bolster re-election chances for Obama, who pushed the U.S.-backed bailout of General Motors Co. (GM) and Chrysler Group LLC, both based in Michigan. He visited the state in a three-day campaign swing following his speech, and was greeted by guest editorials in Detroit newspapers from Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus and Michigan GOP Chairman Robert Schostak criticizing his record on the economy…
Michigan, Ohio and Indiana all ranked among the top eight performers for improvement of economic health in the Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States from the third quarter of 2009 through the third quarter of last year, the most recent period available.
Automakers are increasing production after U.S. light- vehicle sales rose at least 10 percent for two straight years for the first time since 1984. This month, GM announced it had regained the title as the top-selling global automaker, which it lost to Toyota as it slid into bankruptcy.
The Obama campaign is banking on the U.S. auto industry’s comeback to damp the appeal of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Michigan, where his father was a popular governor, as well as to reverse Ohio’s swing to Republicans in the 2010 mid-term elections.
One reason Republicans are often successful in getting people to vote counter to their interests (as well as counter to the interests of the United States) is by promoting a false impression of the views of others. Republicans have been mischaracterizing Democratic objections to their policies to transfer wealth to the ultra-wealthy as class warfare, when it has actually been the Republicans who have been practicing (and winning at) class warfare. Therefore I was happy to see that Barack Obama is directly responding to these false Republican arguments, such as at his recent speech at the University of Michigan.
After a call out to Denard Robinson and going for the easy applause line (“Go blue”) Obama talked about education and reviving the economy. The end of his speech presents a strong response to all the nonsense on the economy we have been hearing at the Republican debates:
THE PRESIDENT: Now, in the longer run, we’re also going to have to reduce our deficit. We’ve got to invest in our future and we’ve got to reduce our deficit. And to do both, we’ve got to make some choices. Let me give you some examples.
Right now, we’re scheduled to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was intended to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: That’s not fair.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s not fair. A quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.
AUDIENCE: Booo –
THE PRESIDENT: Not fair. Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. I know because she was at the State of the Union. She told me. (Laughter.) Is that fair?
THE PRESIDENT: Does it make sense to you?
THE PRESIDENT: Do we want to keep these tax cuts for folks like me who don’t need them? Or do we want to invest in the things that will help us in the long term — like student loans and grants — (applause) — and a strong military — (applause) — and care for our veterans — (applause) — and basic research? (Applause.)
Those are the choices we’ve got to make. We can’t do everything. We can’t reduce our deficit and make the investments we need at the same time, and keep tax breaks for folks who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them — well, some of them were asking for them. I wasn’t asking for them. (Laughter.) We’ve got to choose.
When it comes to paying our fair share, I believe we should follow the Buffett Rule: If you make more than $1 million a year — and I hope a lot of you do after you graduate — (laughter) — then you should pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent. (Applause.) On the other hand, if you decide to go into a less lucrative profession, if you decide to become a teacher — and we need teachers — (applause) — if you decide to go into public service, if you decide to go into a helping profession — (applause) — if you make less than $250,000 a year — which 98 percent of Americans do — then your taxes shouldn’t go up. (Applause.)
This is part of the idea of shared responsibility. I know a lot of folks have been running around calling this class warfare. I think asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes is just common sense. (Applause.) Yesterday, Bill Gates said he doesn’t think people like him are paying enough in taxes. I promise you, Warren Buffett is doing fine, Bill Gates is doing fine, I’m doing fine.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Koch Brothers.
THE PRESIDENT: They’re definitely doing fine. (Laughter.)
We don’t need more tax breaks. There are a lot of families out there who are struggling, who’ve seen their wages stall, and the cost of everything from a college education to groceries and food have gone up. You’re the ones who need that. You’re the ones who need help. And we can’t do both.
There have been some who have been saying, well, the only reason you’re saying that is because you’re trying to stir people up, make them envious of the rich. People don’t envy the rich. When people talk about me paying my fair share of taxes, or Bill Gates or Warren Buffett paying their fair share, the reason that they’re talking about it is because they understand that when I get a tax break that I don’t need, that the country can’t afford, then one of two things are going to happen: Either the deficit will go up and ultimately you guys are going to have to pay for it, or alternatively, somebody else is going to foot the bill — some senior who suddenly has to pay more for their Medicare, or some veteran who’s not getting the help that they need readjusting after they have defended this country, or some student who’s suddenly having to pay higher interest rates on their student loans.
We do not begrudge wealth in this country. I want everybody here to do well. We aspire to financial success. But we also understand that we’re not successful just by ourselves. We’re successful because somebody started the University of Michigan. (Applause.) We’re successful because somebody made an investment in all the federal research labs that created the Internet. We’re successful because we have an outstanding military — that costs money. We’re successful because somebody built roads and bridges and laid broadband lines. And these things didn’t just happen on their own.
And if we all understand that we’ve got to pay for this stuff, it makes sense for those of us who’ve done best to do our fair share. And to try to pass off that bill onto somebody else, that’s not right. That’s not who we are. (Applause.) That’s not what my grandparents’ generation worked hard to pass down. That’s not what your grandparents and your great-grandparents worked hard to pass down. We’ve got a different idea of America, a more generous America. (Applause.)
Everybody here is only here because somebody somewhere down the road decided we’re going to think not just about ourselves, but about the future. We’ve got responsibilities, yes, to ourselves but also to each other. And now it’s our turn to be responsible. Now it’s our turn to leave an America that’s built to last. And I know we can do it. We’ve done it before and I know we can do it again because of you.
When I meet young people all across this country, with energy and drive and vision, despite the fact that you’ve come of age during a difficult, tumultuous time in this world, it gives me hope. You inspire me. You’re here at Michigan because you believe in your future. You’re working hard. You’re putting in long hours — hopefully some at the library. (Laughter.) Some of you are balancing a job at the same time. You know that doing big things isn’t always easy, but you’re not giving up.
You’ve got the whole world before you. And you embody that sense of possibility that is quintessentially American. We do not shrink from challenges. We stand up to them. And we don’t leave people behind; we make sure everybody comes along with us on this journey that we’re on. (Applause.)
That’s the spirit right now that we need, Michigan. (Applause.) Here in America, we don’t give up. We look out for each other. We make sure everybody has a chance to get ahead. And if we work in common purpose, with common resolve, we can build an economy that gives everybody a fair shot. And we will remind the world just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)
The Republicans have a real problem. Mitt Romney has been running for the nomination, and sometimes has even led the race, since before Barack Obama became president, but the Republicans just don’t want him. Conservatives have been trying to find an acceptable candidate to promote their beliefs but it is just not possible to find a sane leader for a movement which has become outright bat-shit crazy. To demonstrate my point, at the moment they are stuck with Newt Gingrich. I’ve speculated in the past that that this could lead to none of the current candidates winning and the race going to the convention. The possibility of someone else winning the nomination received further attention after Nate Silver wrote a post today on this topic.
This possibility exists because of the problems with the candidates and the structure of the primaries. Republican caucuses and primaries held before April 1 cannot be winner-take-all, but afterwards they can. This means that it will be hard for anyone to take an overwhelming lead early, making it possible for a candidate with momentum late to win winner-take-all contests and win a larger number of delegates. Theoretically this could be a candidate entering late, but I wonder if this is really possible as anyone not currently in the race will lack the campaign infrastructure and will miss many of the filing deadlines to enter the contests. I suspect that if some of the other candidates recover it might be possible for different ones to win in different states, preventing anyone from clinching the nomination prior to the convention.
Once caucuses and primaries begin they create a new atmosphere and the previous pecking order might be meaningless. If someone wins convincingly in the early contests they should be able to lock up the nomination. The lack of a conventional campaign infrastructure creates doubt as to whether Newt Gingrich can win despite his current lead in the polls, but if the conservative movement, including the Tea Party, line up behind him this might be enough to beat Romney. It certainly doesn’t look good for Romney to be trailing Gingrich in Michigan as he is at the present. A loss in Michigan would probably be the end for Romney, but on the other hand the Michigan polls, as most other states, will probably shift based upon the results in the early states.
If none of the Republican candidates please conservatives, there are a couple of names being raised as potential independent candidates. Donald Trump, angry that only Gingrich and Rick Santorum are attending his debate says, “I am unwilling to give up my right to run as an independent candidate.”
Trump is particularly angry at Michelle Bachmann:
“She came up to see me four times,” Trump said. “She would call me and ask me for advice. She said if she wins, she would like to think about me for the Vice Presidency.”
As I’ve suggested in the past, it makes more sense for Trump to run as an independent than in the Republican primaries as it allows him to continue on Celebrity Apprentice this season. That said, there is a strong likelihood that Trump is only talking about running to attract more publicity. Ron Paul, who has declined to offer support to any other winner of the Republican nomination, is also increasingly being discussed as a possible independent candidate. Paul has been on an upward trajectory, but there is also a low ceiling for his potential support. He will suffer the same fate as candidates such as Bachmann and Cain when his views and past receive greater scrutiny. Speaking of Cain, he never had a chance to become president, but one organization is interested him–Fox.
Voters across the country rejected Republican views, hopefully foreshadowing the 2012 election results. This includes the defeat of an amendment on the Mississippi ballot to place the state in control of every woman’s uterus. If this measure couldn’t pass in Mississippi it is unlikely to pass anywhere, but I would love to see the Republicans try to nationalize this issue next year. The anti-union law in Ohio and the attempt to restrict voting in Maine were also defeated. A recall effort against a Republican state representative in Michigan was also successful, giving hope that Michigan will once again go blue. If only voters had paid more attention to what the Republicans stood for before voting for them in 2010.
It was a great weekend for television, with an excellent episode of Doctor Who, the season finale of Torchwood: Miracle Day, and a Michigan vs. Notre Dame football game which not only once again wound up being settled by four points scored in the last thirty seconds, but also had three touchdowns in the last seventy-two seconds. In the final second Notre Dame also lost the ball and I believe that if the Michigan player pushing it into the end zone had actual possession it would have been counted as a fourth touchdown in the last seventy-two seconds.
The Girl Who Waited was the economy episode of Doctor Who, having less of the Doctor and minimal use of other cast. While not as great as another Doctor-lite episode, Blink, it was an excellent episode with an interesting timey-whimey idea. A planet with a plague, which killed beings with two hearts, including Time Lords, in one day, set up a Two Stream facility. Those infected with the plague lived in one time stream where they could live out their entire life in one day, while family could watch them from the other time stream over twenty-four hours. After their arrival to the planet, Amy ran back to the Tardis to get her phone. The Doctor, who so far thought they were just at a recreational facility, had the first of two great lines during the episode: “I bring you to a paradise planet two billion light years from Earth and you want to update… Twitter?”
When Amy caught up, she pushed the wrong button and wound up in the wrong time stream. She had to beware of being killed with kindness as medications from this planet would be fatal to her. There were certainly a number of holes in this setup, and a bit of timey-whimey technobabble to try to explain it, but that didn’t prevent enjoyment of the show. After all, as the Doctor explained, “Come on Rory, it’s hardly rocket science, it’s just quantam physics.”
This setup provided for an interesting look at the character dynamics, and gave Karen Gillan the opportunity to play an older version of herself.
It was not surprising to see Amy Pond become bitter about her raggedy man after being left behind for thirty-six years. It was logical for her to prevent the Doctor and Rory from saving the younger version of herself, making her disappear, but in the end there were stronger arguments to the contrary. There was never any doubt that Rory would choose the younger version of Amy over the older, but Rory did realize the cost as he told the Doctor, “You’re trying to turn me into you.” We also saw again that the Doctor lies. I bet that will be important when we see how the Doctor avoids his impending death.
The episode appeared to be totally stand-alone (with it continuing to be strange that Amy and Rory so easily gave up on the idea of rescuing Melody as an infant). I wonder if a show which dealt so strongly with the relationship between Amy, Rory, and the Doctor might wind up having ramifications to be seen later this season.
The Blood Line, the finale of Torchwood: Miracle Day, was a pretty good episode, but still it didn’t have enough payback for a ten-episode story. Considering that there is no real explanation, they did a fair job of explaining how the Miracle came about, using Jack’s immortal blood. I wasn’t clear on why this would make Jack (and cancer cells) mortal, or why they brought Oswald Danes along. The episode did leave a couple of plot threads open, including the tree families moving on to their next plan, with Jilly Kitzinger helping with public relations. A transfusion of Jack’s blood allowed Rex to recuperate as quickly as Jack. I hope that this is a temporary effect of the transfusion, possibly aided by occurring at the same time as the Blessing was reset. Otherwise it wouldn’t be realistic to have Torchwood continue with some many people close to Jack getting killed.
It was a good idea to take a high concept and attempt to make a single-season arc. Children of Earth worked as a third-season story over five days, but ten episodes was too long this year. The writers tried to get around this problem by having a number of subplots. This did not work as the show was set up around solving a single problem, and the subplots often felt like needless distractions.
Sooner or later I also hope to see Torchwood reestablished as a real organization with additional characters. Torchwood might work better modeled somewhat after how Dexter or Fringe have been handled. I would like to see a fifth season in which Torchwood is reestablished. Episodes could deal with building a new team and solving some individual mysteries, while also having a “big-bad” to contend with all season. That way it is not necessary to come up with a monster of the week every week, but individual stories could be mixed with the season-long arc.
We know that Doctor Who will have another thirteen-episode season, but it won’t start until next fall. The future of Torchwood is unknown, despite a tag at the end of the final episode in Australia saying Jack will be back in four months. There is, however, hope of seeing another Tom Baker episode of Doctor Who. Shada, the 1980 Tom Baker episode of Doctor Who written by Douglas Adams, has finally been completed, with a couple of twists:
Given that it has been three decades since the cameras last rolled on the story, the actors involved would never have been able to convincingly play the same age, so Shada has been completed via animation, using only their voices.
The other twist is that this hasn’t been paid for by the BBC, nor even their commercial arm 2|entertain (responsible for the Doctor Who DVD releases). The animation has been privately funded by record producer and fan Ian Levine, and as things stand, the wider public might never get to see it.
Which isn’t Levine’s intention, of course; now that Shada has been finished, he’s hopeful an agreement can be reached with 2|entertain and the story released into the public domain.
Wait a minute. The Doctor and Romana are Time Lords and would hot have aged. The real problem is that they have regenerated into different forms.