Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Update: Obama knows what's he's talking about

An article on the Washinton Post's website today shows that Senator Obama is the only one of the three presidential candidates who has seen first hand what repealing a gas tax for any amount of time can do. As an Illinois state senator, he helped pass a six month repeal of the state's 5% gas tax in 2001. During that six month period, the state lost $175 million in revenue. The overall average price of gas only fell 3% during that time, which means that in real terms, the gas prices still went up 2%. The tax repeal just didn't work.

This puts Obama on even more solid footing when it comes to opposing McCain's foolish plan. Illinois is suffering from a major budget crunch all around, but especially when it comes to infrastructure. That extra money that the gas companies ended up keeping back in 2001 would be mighty helpful right about now. Let's make sure that we as a nation don't end up with the same problem.

Interestingly, last night NBC Nightly News began a series of reports on the nation's crumbling infrastructure. You can see the video here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

How about rolling back the stupidity tax for the summer?

John McCain has said multiple times that he doesn't understand economics as much as he should, and after reading about his latest economic plan, I'm inclined to agree. A cornerstone of the plan is a three month repeal of the federal gas tax, which is currently 18.4 cents per gallon (and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel). There's a great article over at Wired that highlights the economic issues that this would create- it would short the government $9 billion in revenue (in a department which already has a $3 billion shortfall in funding), therefore killing highway improvement projects, which in turn means that even more people would lose jobs.

Wait- I see the genius of this plan now- more people out of work means fewer people on the roads, thus reducing the demand for gasoline, after which prices will naturally fall! My god, it's brilliant.

Sarcasm aside, this is one of the most ridiculous ideas to come out of Washington in some time. It provides no real tax relief to the average person, and as our transportation systems fall further and further into disrepair, it ends up creating more problems than it solves. Surely, no self respecting Democrat, representing a party that has said that fixing our national infrastructure should be a top priority, could support this entirely impractical political scheme? Right?

Not so fast, my friends! According to the Wall Street Journal, Senator Clinton indicated just the other day, “I would also consider a gas tax holiday, if we could make up the lost revenues from the Highway Trust Fund.” Of course, there's no chance that Congress would support increasing revenues in one area to fund a temporary tax cut in another. McCain has indicated that he would pay for this by increasing the debt, a measure Clinton would theoretically oppose.

Here's the thing though- despite her highly qualified support for McCain's idiocy, now she's attacking Obama for not throwing his support behind the idea. Obama, to his credit, is sticking to his guns:

“We’re talking about 5 percent of your total cost of gas that you suspend for three months, which might save you a few hundred bucks that then will spike right up,” Obama said. “Now keep in mind that it will save you that if Exxon Mobil doesn’t decide, ‘We’ll just tack on another 5 percent on the current cost.’”
To my mind, Clinton is starting to show her desperation. She's anxious to separate herself from Obama in some way, while trying to show Dems that she can draw in some of the same voters that McCain does. But she's picked the wrong issue here. For starters, it's something that Bob "Viagra" Dole tried to raise unsuccessfully during the 1996 election cycle against her husband, and then backed down from because it was so amazingly unpopular with Congress. Add to that the effect more driving has on our infrastructure, and the extra burden that a loss of federal revenues would have on the already strained and suffering budgets of public transit systems across the country, and this is a no-brainer. It's bad policy that's bad for America.

I've been waiting to see some real separation in the views of the two Dems that makes me feel like we're not choosing between two automatons who agree with each other on just about everything. And I think we're starting to see it- she's gone negative like never before, and she's questioning Obama's electability, while at the same time endorsing the ideas of her potential November opposition.

I still believe that Obama is the right one for the Dems, and the right one for the country. He's a leader, and he's not out there spouting the same old rubbish. I'm not sure what else we can ask for.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Street Art Thursday

Just discovered the Dirty Third Streets site, which covers a lot of street art down south. I love this piece, from Austin, TX:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Flashback Friday

Ladies and gentlemen, Superchunk.

"Watery Hands" from the album Indoor Living

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Oh jesus, not again.

So in my ever growing quest to Get The Hell Out Of The Apartment, a few months ago I shot an email off to the Champaign Urbana Theatre Company offering my services as a volunteer.

For the uninitiated, in one of my past lives, I spent a lot of time in the theatre; it was one of several reasons I dropped out of college, and then I served as Master Carpenter and then Technical Director for the Actor's Company of Pennsylvania (now part of the Fulton Opera House)waaaaay back in the mid 90's. Then there was a summer as Master Carpenter at Ephrata Playhouse In The Park, and an unsuccessful attempt to move to New York City. Anyways, long story short (and believe me, there's a whole lot of story there), I burned myself out. But I've always held a soft spot in my heart for theatre and theatre folk. Thus, to bring this full circle, I emailed CUTC and said I was more than willing to help.

I was welcomed with open arms, as every community theatre loves a volunteer who has been around the block a couple of times. Then they told me what the first show was- Jesus Christ Superstar. I'm not one to throw words like this around, but I'll be honest, I blanched a little. You see, back in college, my big set design debut was a student production of JCS. And just like every other student production, it was a bit of a fiasco. We ran out of money, had a lighting designer walk out, and I managed to have a seven foot tall ladder caddy fall on my heel, hobbling me for the three days of production. It was SO bad that my assistant on that show wrote a play about it. Lordy.

But enough about the past. This production has been quite a lot of fun to work on. The set construction was smooth as silk, and I got to stretch out my mad theatrical carpentry skills a little bit. Now we're ready to go live! The show opens this Thursday (April 3) at 7:30 and closes with a 2:30 matinee on Sunday (April 6). I was there for rehearsal last night, and I'll vouch for it- this isn't the easiest show to sing, but they've rounded up a really good cast that does it justice. I'll be backstage for the show, but if you get there early enough (doors open 1/2 hour before showtime), you might actually get to see me hamming it up. Tickets are available here or at the door. Come out and support local theatre!!!