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The pros and cons of netbooks

Reader Tom writes: What can you tell me about the “mini-laptops” or netbooks that seem to be popping up all over the place? My wife saw one that sold for about $350 with built-in Wi-Fi and she says she wants one now. I have yet to see one in person, so I have no idea if they are worth the money.

 

Yeah, what’s the deal with all the netbooks?

If you’re unfamiliar with the devices, here’s the pitch: You get a small, cheap laptop with a basic set of features, limited performance, and often a small hard drive (or an even smaller amount of flash storage). Some netbooks run Windows (usually XP), some don’t. And that’s the sell. The emphasis: cheap.

Prices typically range from about $300 to $500, but there are exceptions on either side. As with standard laptops, the more you pay, the more you get… but at some point you get into the realm of those regular laptops, and the appeal of the netbook fades considerably.

There are numerous pros and cons to the netbook phenomenon that should impact your decision whether to buy one. First, some pros: They’re cheap. Oh, I mentioned that. But they’re also very portable and generally more rugged than you’d expect, which makes them great for people looking for a second laptop to use as a “getaway” computer. Just toss it in your bag and head out for that adventure weekend. If it gets lost, stolen, or broken, you’re out a much smaller investment than if it had been your $2,000 Mac that you dropped into a ravine.

Now for the flipside. Netbooks are, again, cheap. To get prices down, sacrifices must be made. That means dog-slow processors, no graphics ability, (usually) no optical drive, and minimal RAM. Netbooks won’t work as an emergency DVD player for the kids. Battery life is often poor (with a few exceptions). Many netbooks look more like toys than real laptops, so they aren’t appropriate for business users. And the smaller the keyboard gets, the harder it is to type. On machines with an 8.9-inch screen (the smallest and typical standard among netbooks), touch-typing is pretty much impossible. Then there’s the OS issue. While some netbooks run Windows, many run Linux. Whether that’s a pro or con depends on your opinion of Microsoft, but many users dislike having to learn a new operating system and instead prefer the familiarity of Windows.

Should you buy one? Tough question, but I highly recommend that if you do, you consider a model with a 10-inch screen, which will give you a less cramped experience on both the eyes and the fingers (thanks to the bigger keyboard). My two favorite models: The Asus Eee PC 1000H and the new Lenovo IdeaPad S10, both with 10.2-inch screens and Windows XP. Both are available for under $500. The Eee has much longer battery life (but weighs half a pound more), while the IdeaPad has better performance and a larger hard drive. Take your pick.

http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/null/108513

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November 1, 2008 Posted by | Lifestyle | , , , | 1 Comment

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama

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November 1, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Colin Powell Eviscerates McCain’s Negative Smear Campaign

November 1, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Palin Claims The Vice President Is ‘In Charge Of The U.S. Senate

Yesterday, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) sat for an interview with KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Colorado. In response to a question sent to the network by a third grader at a local elementary school about what the Vice President does, Palin erroneously argued that the Vice President is “in charge of the United States Senate“:

Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, “What does the Vice President do?”

PALIN: That’s something that Piper would ask me! … [T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

Watch it:

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Indeed, while Palin suggests that questions about what the Vice President does is something only her daughter Piper would ask, Palin herself asked this very question on national television in July. Apparently, she still hasn’t learned the correct answer.

Article I of the Constitution establishes an exceptionally limited role for the Vice President — giving the office holder a vote only when the Senate is “equally divided”:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

Moreover, the U.S. Senate website explains that the modern role of Vice Presidents has been to preside over the Senate “only on ceremonial occasions.” ThinkProgress contacted Senior Assistant Paliamentarian Peter Robinson, who also disputed Palin’s characterization of the Vice President’s role:

In modern practice the Vice President doesn’t really control the Senate. … If anyone has a responsibility to try to govern the Senate, it’s the responsibility of the two leaders.

http://thinkprogress.org/2008/10/21/palin-vp-senate/

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

John McCain has lost his way in 2008 Presidential Campaign

 

Written By: Shawn Williams
I like John McCain.   I do.  

Why do I like John McCain?  For the reason that he states in his stump speech.  Because he has taken on his party.  Because in the past, he has tried to shake up Washington.

Remember the Gang of 14?  You know, the seven Republican and seven Democratic Senators who came together to break Democratic filibustering of George W. Bush judicial nominees.  McCain wasn’t very popular for “reaching across the aisle” in this case, but he did it and it got something accomplished.

John McCain won the Republican nomination for reasons such as that.  True dyed-in-the-wool Republicans split their votes between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.  It was McCain’s centrist tendencies in areas like immigration and campaign finance reform that helped him pull the upset in the Republican Primary.

Now, McCain spends his days pandering to the very base of the Republican Party that is at a 15 year low in popularity.  A base that comes out to his rally’s saying they want to “kill” his opponent.

I can forgive McCain for (repeatedly) voting against the MLK Holiday, but I let him slide for catering to the racist wing of the Republican Party and waiting until Friday to even say one word about the tone of his audience.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

Romney: Joe The Plumber Better Than Colin Powell

Neil Cavuto’s interview with Mitt Romney today was largely unremarkable in the annals of campaign shillery, save for one moment where Cavuto asked Romney to compare having the support of Joe the Plumber to that of General Colin Powell:

CAVUTO: If you had your druthers and could pick between Colin Powell or Joe the Plumber, who would you pick?

Read the whole story here. 

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jon Stewart Clarifies Palin Remarks, Expands To ‘F%ck All Y’All’

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November 1, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Angry McCain falters down the stretch

Written By: Shawn Williams

John McCain came out swinging in the third and final Presidential Debate. He seemed intent on his promise to “kick Obama’s you know what” at Hofstra Wednesday night.

But somewhere between hello and goodnight, Senator McCain let his temper get the best of him. Maybe his campaign didn’t tell him about the split-screen that would capture his every move. He had a bad case of the Al Gores through the second half of the debate, huffing and rolling his eyes quite a bit.

In CBS Poll, fifty-three percent of uncommitted voters surveyed said Barack Obama was the winner of Wednesday’s debate. Twenty-two percent said McCain won. Twenty-five percent saw the debate as a tie. A CNN poll taken after the debate found the same thing.

McCain never really recovered from Bob Schieffer’s turning the debate towards the candidates’ views on attack politics. Obama really turned the corner there with his explanation of who he “pals around with,” Republicans who have served on boards with Bill Ayers, and rising above the fray. McCain drove the low road express right into the gutter and where people aren’t willing to go this time.

Read the whole story here.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pfriend or Pfoe? | The Daily Show | Comedy Central

Nancy Pfotenhauer argues for the real Virginia, and Eugene Jarecki says true security is impossible.

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November 1, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicago Tribune Endorses Barack Obama for President

Written By: Shawn Williams

 

The Chicago Tribune has endorsed Barack Obama to be President of the United States. As you will see, it is a historic move for the storied daily newspaper. If anyone would know about Barack Obama’s associations -whether Bill Ayers or Father Pfleger- it would be the Chicago papers. And with its political history, the Chicago Tribune would be more than happy to blow the whistle. But like so many others have had to conclude, this is the best candidate, and Barack Obama is ready to lead.

To read the Tribune’s long and thoughtful endorsement in its full context click here.  Here are a few excerpts.

We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.

We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.

This endorsement makes some history for the Chicago Tribune. This is the first time the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. The Tribune in its earliest days took up the abolition of slavery and linked itself to a powerful force for that cause–the Republican Party. The Tribune’s first great leader, Joseph Medill, was a founder of the GOP.

We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus. He was most effective in the Illinois legislature when he worked with Republicans on welfare, ethics and criminal justice reform. He worked to expand the number of charter schools in Illinois–not popular with some Democratic constituencies.

Obama is deeply grounded in the best aspirations of this country, and we need to return to those aspirations. He has had the character and the will to achieve great things despite the obstacles that he faced as an unprivileged black man in the U.S.

He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Voters say they were duped into registering as Republicans

"I am not a Republican," insisted Karen Ashcraft, 47, a pet clinic manager from Ventura who said she was duped by a signature gatherer into joining the GOP. "I certainly . . . won't sign anything in front of a grocery store ever again."

YPM, a group hired by the GOP, allegedly deceived Californians who thought they were signing a petition. YPM denies any wrongdoing. Similar accusations have been leveled against the company elsewhere.

SACRAMENTO — Dozens of newly minted Republican voters say they were duped into joining the party by a GOP contractor with a trail of fraud complaints stretching across the country.

Voters contacted by The Times said they were tricked into switching parties while signing what they believed were petitions for tougher penalties against child molesters. Some said they were told that they had to become Republicans to sign the petition, contrary to California initiative law. Others had no idea their registration was being changed.

FOR THE RECORD:
Voter registration: An article in Saturday’s California section, about voters who said they were duped by a company called Young Political Majors into registering as Republicans, incorrectly referred to eight workers for the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, who pleaded guilty to election fraud in Missouri this year. They were temporary employees trained by ACORN to register voters, not officials of the nonprofit group. —


 

 

“I am not a Republican,” insisted Karen Ashcraft, 47, a pet-clinic manager and former Democrat from Ventura who said she was duped by a signature gatherer into joining the GOP. “I certainly . . . won’t sign anything in front of a grocery store ever again.”

Read whole story here.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reporter Kicked To The Ground At McCain-Palin Rally

Newspaper stories from Palin’s rally from myself and Joe Killian.

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Update: Bloggers note: there is editing throughout this post at 10 a.m. or so this morning to clean up grammar and spelling errors committed at the end of a 16 hour day. As well, some fixes have been made with regards to quote marks that did not publish correctly. My apologies to the English teachers in the audience.

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There are certain things that get me really concerned when I hear them from someone I’m working with. Joe Killian (who blogs for the paper here and on his own time here) added a new one to my list:

Joe was working with me on a package for tomorrow’s newspaper covering Gov. Sarah Palin’s visit to Elon and Greensboro.

“Dude,” he says when I called to check on him. “Some guy just kicked me in the back of the leg.”

Let me just digress for a second. I sometimes supervise people. Much more often, I work in teams with folks. I’m usually the old fart in the group so I feel responsible for them. The last thing I ever want to hear is that one of my people got hurt on assignment. Usually the worry has to do with covering a traffic accident along a highway or a natural disaster like a flood, where conditions are inherently dangerous.

What I don’t expect is for some troglodyte at a campaign rally to decide that the proper way to express his frustration with Democrats, Barack Obama or the “left-wing liberal media” is to commit assault on a colleague.

Here’s the back-story:

As you probably know, the crowds at McCain-Palin events have gotten, um, saucy as of late. My bossblogs about that here.

Covering Sen. John McCain’s appearance in Wilmington Monday, you could definitely sense some of that vibe.

Read whole story here. 

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fact check: McCain tax cuts give $200 billion to corporations, $4 billion to oil companies?

The Statement:
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, speaking in Canton, Ohio, on October 27, referred to Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s tax plans and said, “It’s not change when he wants to give $200 billion to the biggest corporations or $4 billion to the oil companies.”

Get the facts!

 

The Facts:
Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said the numbers cited by Obama come from two studies analyzing McCain’s tax proposals, including cuts in the corporate tax rate. The two studies were done by unrelated organizations. LaBolt also said that Obama’s remarks do not refer to two separate tax cuts — the $4 billion in purported cuts to oil companies is part of the larger $200 billion.

Both studies project the effects of McCain’s proposal to cut the corporate tax rate from the current maximum of 35 percent to a maximum of 25 percent in a phased reduction over the next seven years.

One analysis, published in March by the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund, predicted how large oil companies would fare under McCain’s proposed corporate tax reductions. Based on taxes that the five largest American oil companies paid in 2007 and calculating what the study called “savings under McCain plan,” the study concludes that those five companies would realize a total tax cut of $3.8 billion a year under McCain’s plan to cut the corporate rate.

On its Web site, the organization refers to the tax reduction as “nearly $4 billion.” LaBolt said the Obama campaign uses the $4 billion figure because the study included only the five largest American oil companies, and the total tax cut to all American oil companies would be bigger. Also, 2008 earnings for oil companies are expected to be higher than earnings in 2007.

The other study — a detailed analysis of both McCain’s and Obama’s tax plans — was done by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That study predicted the impact of McCain’s tax proposals on revenue in several categories. The Obama campaign arrived at its $200 billion figure by combining various categories in that study. Roberton Williams, principal research associate for the Tax Policy Center, said the Obama campaign’s calculation of $200 billion from McCain’s proposed reduction in corporate taxes was an accurate conclusion.

The McCain campaign contends that lowering the corporate tax rate will enhance business development and create jobs in the United States. In an interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Oct. 22, McCain cited lower tax rates in other countries as being a key reason American companies move business overseas. “We should be cutting corporate tax for every business in America,” he said. “To somehow allege that a company or corporation that can be international is not going to go where they pay the lowest taxes and create the most jobs is just foolishness.”

The Verdict: 

TRUE! Obama’s statement accurately reflects two studies of McCain’s tax proposals.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , | Leave a comment

Fact Check: Did Albright agree Obama would ‘invite’ an international crisis?

The Statement
Speaking on Fox News’s “Hannity & Colmes,” Republican vice-presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin expanded a GOP attack that Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s running mate said his presidency would invite international trouble. “And it wasn’t just Biden making that comment,” Palin said. “That was confirmed by former Secretary Madeleine Albright, where she said yes, she believes that Biden was just stating fact. Now, I don’t want a president who invites that kind of testing.”

Get the facts!

 

The Facts
On Sunday, October 19, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden was speaking at a fundraiser in Seattle, asking for support in the event Obama is elected. “Watch — we’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy,” Biden said. “I don’t know what the decision is going to be, but I promise you it will occur. As a student of history, and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it is going to happen.”

The McCain campaign seized on the comment to argue Obama is not experienced enough and that a lack of experience will encourage nations like Russia and groups like al Qaeda to challenge his resolve. The Obama camp has responded, arguing that Biden meant to say that the next president will be tested regardless of who is elected.

Speaking Wednesday, October 21, on CNN’s “American Morning,” Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state and an Obama supporter, was asked about the statement. “Well, I think it is — it’s just a statement of fact, frankly. And in my book, I talk about the fact that … something unexpected, you always have to be prepared for that. And that’s why, I actually think that Senator Obama is a terrific person to be president because he has this capability of assessing the situation in a calm way, of listening to a lot of different opinions … .”

She continued, “Well, I think that what you see is the fact that there’s something happening in the world all the time. … So, I think that it’s a statement of fact, and I think Barack Obama is a terrific person to handle it.”

The Verdict:

MISLEADING! Palin takes out of context part of a comment by Albright, who was actually praising Obama’s ability to handle a crisis

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fact Check: Obama’s plan offers ‘no help’ for the unemployed?

The Statement
At a campaign speech Friday, October 24, in Denver, Colorado, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain criticized Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama for how his policies would impact the jobless. “Just yesterday, we received news that jobless claims increased by 15,000,” McCain said. “Yet, just this week, Senator Obama announced that his plan would have a work requirement, meaning that those unemployed receive no help under the Obama plan … .”

Get the facts!

 

The Facts
Campaign spokesman Brian Rogers confirmed that McCain’s comment is a reference to Obama’s universal mortgage credit plan, which Obama says is intended to give tax relief to homeowners who don’t itemize their taxes. An Obama advisor said on October 21 that the plan had been changed — adding a work requirement in order to receive the $500 credit.

While McCain accurately describes that single aspect of Obama’s tax plan, the Obama campaign Web site lists several proposals it says will create jobs and help unemployed people find them. Obama says he would spend $210 billion on a 10-year plan to create jobs in construction and environmental industries –
plans he estimates will create millions of jobs. He also proposes spending $1 billion over five years in job training with “transitional jobs” and “career pathway” programs.”

As recently as this week, the McCain campaign criticized the earlier version of the mortgage credit plan, calling it “welfare” because some of the homeowners that would receive the credit are unemployed. The Obama camp said those people amounted to merely “a sliver” of the 10 million homeowners who would get the credit. The October 21 change, an advisor said, was meant to eliminate the McCain campaign’s argument against it. McCain then criticized Obama for changing the plan so close to the election. And then on Friday, he attacked it for not helping the unemployed — essentially the opposite of the argument he’d made earlier in the week.

The Verdict: 

MISLEADING! Narrowly applied to Obama’s mortgage tax credit, McCain’s statement is true. But to say “unemployed receive no help under the Obama plan” is inaccurate.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , , | Leave a comment

Fact Check: Would Obama’s tax policy harm people with special needs?

The Statement:
During a speech Friday, Oct. 24, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gov. Sarah Palin noted that parents of children with special needs often set up trusts to help ensure long-term assistance. “Many families with special needs children or dependent adults” are concerned that Sen. Barack Obama “plans to raise taxes on precisely these kinds of financial arrangements,” she said. “They fear that Senator Obama’s tax increase will have serious and harmful consequences, and they’re right.”

Get the facts!

 

The Facts:
Some parents create special needs trusts in order to help ensure that their children with disabilities or other special needs will have help well into the future, after the parents retire or die. The Federal Citizen Information Center Web site explains that the primary advantage of a trust, rather than a
gift or inheritance, is that the assets are owned by the trust, not the beneficiary. So, funds will be available to the person with special needs, but will not cause that person to be disqualified from the government-run Medicare program. The trust funds typically provide for such things as glasses,
independent checkups, transportation, equipment, training, education, and other programs, the Web site says.

The way most of these trusts are structured, the interest they gain is taxed as part of the parents’ income. Palin, in her remarks, suggests that Obama will increase taxes on these trusts in general, thereby reducing the funds in them. The McCain campaign did not respond to requests to explain or comment on the record.

Obama has pledged to increase taxes only on individuals with incomes over $200,000 and families with incomes over $250,000. He is not offering an exception for interest in special needs trusts — that income counts toward the total. So, if someone’s taxes go up under Obama, the interest in a trust fund is part of what will be taxed at a higher rate.

But Obama does not have a plan to increase taxes on special needs trusts in general. And Jason Furman, economic adviser for the Obama campaign, noted that Obama has vowed to fix his plan if any individual making less than $200,000 or family making less than $250,000 is left paying higher taxes. So, if Obama’s tax plan, unintentionally, forced taxes up on a special needs trust for someone
at a lower income, the tax plan would change, and the person’s taxes would not go up, Furman said.

Sen. John McCain is promising across-the-board tax cuts, so no one with a special needs trust would see a tax hike under his plan. As the CNN Truth Squad has reported, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says Obama’s tax cuts would be larger for people in middle and lower income ranges.

Before Palin launched this attack Friday, the McCain campaign told the Wall Street Journal that it was coming. The newspaper, in an article published online Friday, quoted Andy Imparato, president of the nonpartisan American Association of People with Disabilities, saying he has not heard any complaints
from constituents about Obama’s tax plan. It was not clear what Palin’s evidence was that “many families” were concerned about Obama’s plan.

The Verdict: MISLEADING! Obama’s plan would increase taxes on individuals making more than $200,000 and families making $250,000, and it would include the income on interest in special needs trusts. But Obama does not have a plan to raise taxes on special needs trusts in general.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , | Leave a comment

Fact check: Did Joe The Plumber say Obama’s comment ‘sounded like socialism’?

 

Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the fictional character "Joe the Plumber"

The Statement:
Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, speaking at an October 27 rally in Leesburg, Virginia, referred to Barack Obama’s October 12 conversation about tax policy with Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the citizen now known as “Joe the Plumber.” She said Obama said he “wants to spread the wealth” and that “Joe the Plumber said to him, it sounded like socialism.”

Get the facts!

The Facts:
Obama met Wurzelbacher at a campaign stop outside Toledo, Ohio, on October 12, Wurzelbacher told Obama he was getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year and asked, “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” Under Obama’s plan, taxes would rise for individuals who make more than $200,000 a year and families with incomes above $250,000.

Obama went into a lengthy explanation of his plan. He said he wants to cut taxes “a little bit more for the folks who are most in need; and for the 5 percent of the folks who are doing very well — even though they’ve been working hard and I appreciate that — I just want to make sure they’re paying a little bit more in order to pay for those other tax cuts.”

He argued that if consumers had more money to spend, it would be good for enterprises such as a plumbing business. “Right now everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody, and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

Wurzelbacher invoked a common small-business concern with Obama: that higher taxes compromise hard-earned profits. “I’ve worked hard. I’m a plumber. I work 10-12 hours a day and I’m buying this company and I’m going to continue working that way. I’m getting taxed more and more while fulfilling the American dream.”

He never told Obama at the time his idea “sounded like socialism.” But two days later, in an interview on Fox News, Wurzelbacher said, “he wants to distribute wealth. I’m not trying to make statements here. That’s kind of a socialist viewpoint.”

In an interview with CNN that aired October 16, Wurzelbacher clarified that the company he wants to buy makes well less than $250,000 a year — which, under Obama’s plan, means his taxes would not be increased.

McCain and Palin frequently refer to “Joe the Plumber” on the campaign trail. Since his encounter with Obama, Wurzelbacher has received much notoriety and has signaled his support for McCain.

Wurzelbacher told conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham on October 24 that he’s considering a run for Congress in 2010. That would pit Wurzelbacher against longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur for Ohio’s 9th District on the state’s northern border, which includes Toledo and Sandusky.

“I’ll tell you what, we’d definitely be in one heck of a fight, Marcy Kaptur definitely has a following in this area,” he said of the possibility. “But, you know, I’d be up for it.”

Wurzelbacher was expected to campaign with former U.S. Rep. Rob Portman in Ohio on October 28 on behalf of the McCain campaign.

The Verdict: True. However, while Wurzelbacher has said Obama’s plan comes from a “socialist viewpoint,” he did not say that directly to Obama.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fact check: Obama, Biden ‘creeping down’ on who gets tax cuts?

The Statement
In a campaign speech Tuesday, October 28, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain accused Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, of being inconsistent on taxes.

“Senator Obama has made a lot of promises. First he said people making less than $250,000 would benefit from his plan. Then this weekend he announced in an ad that if you’re a family making less than $200,000, you’ll benefit,” McCain said. “But yesterday, right here in Pennsylvania, Senator Biden said tax relief should only go to middle class people, people making under $150,000 a year …. It’s interesting how their definition of rich has a way of creeping down.”

 

The Facts
Obama has said throughout the campaign that families making less than $250,000 a year will not see a tax increase. Those making less than $200,000 will get a tax cut, he says. “If you make less than a quarter of a million dollars a year, you will not see a single dime of your taxes go up,” Obama said during an October 7 presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee. “If you make $200,000 a year or less, your taxes will go down.”

The campaign ad McCain refers to, titled “Defining Moment,” does have a graphic appear on the screen that says, “Families making less than $200,000 get tax cut.” Obama says, “If you have a job, pay taxes and make less than $200,000 a year, you’ll get a tax cut,” which is, again, consistent with the plan he has
laid out.

Biden was speaking Monday, October 27, in an interview with WNEP in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He said, “(An) $87 billion tax break doesn’t need to go to people making an average of $1.4 million. It should go like it used to. It should go to middle class people — people making under $150,000 a year.” Biden never
says that tax breaks should “only” go to such people. The Obama campaign says he was merely using that figure as an example and that the statement does not represent a change in policy.

The Verdict: FALSE! What McCain is doing here, in part, is comparing apples and oranges. He compares two different aspects of Obama’s tax plan as if they were the same. And Biden never said people making less than $150,000 are the “only” people who would get a tax cut under Obama’s policies.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fact check: Is Columbia professor Khalidi a ‘political ally’ of Barack Obama?

The Statement: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, speaking on Oct. 29 in Bowling Green, Ohio, said Barack Obama “spent a lot of time with” Rashid Khalidi. “Rashid Khalidi, he, in addition to being a political ally of Barack Obama, he’s a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization,” she said.

Get the facts!

 

The Facts: Rashid Khalidi is Arab studies professor at Columbia University in New York.

His university profile says he specializes “in the history of Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt; the growth of nation-state; nationalism in the Arab World; problems of modern Middle East historiography” and is an expert on Palestinian issues.

He has authored scholarly works on Palestinian issues, has been an activist for Palestinian causes, and has been a critic of U.S. foreign policy toward Israel.

In a 2004 Washington Times story, he denied ever being a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Sen. Obama, on his Web site, described Khalidi as “a former neighbor and university colleague.” But their relationship has sparked questions about Obama’s stance on Israel and what Obama calls “ugly insinuations.” Obama has said he has been a “clear and consistent” supporter of Israel and doesn’t share Khalidi’s views.

ABC News on May 22 aired comments Obama made at a Boca Raton, Florida, synagogue, where Obama faced questions from Jewish voters and addressed the issue. He said he knew Khalidi and had conversations with him in Chicago, where both men taught at the University of Chicago. And, he said, their children went to the same school.

“He is not one of my advisers; he’s not one of my foreign policy people,” Obama said. “He is a respected scholar, although he vehemently disagrees with a lot of Israel’s policy.”

“To pluck out one person who I know and who I’ve had a conversation with who has very different views than 900 of my friends and then to suggest that somehow that shows that maybe I’m not sufficiently pro-Israel, I think, is a very problematic stand to take,” Obama said. “So we gotta be careful about guilt by association.”

An April 10 Los Angeles Times story that explored the Khalidi-Obama relationship said Khalidi and his wife lived near the Obamas in Chicago and “the families became friends and dinner companions.”

“In 2000, the Khalidis held a fund-raiser for Obama’s unsuccessful congressional bid. The next year, a social service group whose board was headed by Mona Khalidi (Khalidi’s wife), received a $40,000 grant from a local charity, the Woods Fund of Chicago, when Obama served on the fund’s board of directors. At Khalidi’s going-away party in 2003, the scholar lavished praise on Obama, telling the mostly Palestinian-American crowd that the state senator deserved their help in winning a U.S. Senate seat,” the Times reported.

When asked about these details, the Obama campaign pointed to the May 22 comments aired by ABC News. Khalidi, asked by CNN to respond to Palin’s assertions, declined to comment.

In a New York Daily News story published March 6, 2007, Khalidi said he hosted the fund-raiser because he had been friends with Obama in Chicago. “He never came to us and said he would do anything in terms of Palestinians,” Khalidi is quoted as saying.

The Los Angeles Times report said, “though Khalidi has seen little of Sen. Obama in recent years, Michelle Obama attended a party several months ago celebrating the marriage of the Khalidis’ daughter.”

The Verdict: MISLEADING! While Khalidi eight years ago hosted a political fund-raiser for Obama, the two men strongly disagree over the Israeli-Palestinian issue and there’s no evidence of a continuing political relationship.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fact Check: Does Obama’s ‘tax calculator’ show what an individual’s tax cut would be?

The Statement: On its Web site and in a television commercial, the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama is featuring a “tax calculator” that the campaign says voters can use to see how much their tax cut would be under Obama’s plan.

Get the facts!

 

The Facts: Obama’s tax calculator asks users to input information, ranging from an approximate income range to mortgage balance and number of dependents. If the user qualifies for a tax cut under Obama’s plan, the calculator produces a specific dollar estimate for “tax savings” and compares that with any estimated tax change for that user under McCain’s plan.

For incomes over $250,000, where there would be a possible increase under Obama’s plan, the calculator does not provide dollar estimates and tells the user, “You will probably not get a tax cut under the Obama-Biden plan.”

McCain supporters and conservative groups such as Americans for Tax Reform criticize the Obama calculator, saying it fails to spell out how tax hikes in Obama’s plan would affect a given individual and excludes corporate taxes in its calculations.

In a question-and-answer section, the Obama Web site says it “calculates only how individuals’ income taxes change” and does not deal with proposed changes in corporate tax rates by either Obama or McCain.

Robertson Williams, principal research associate for the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, said that, while his group has not checked all of the calculator’s results and was not involved in creating it, the numbers it produces for individual tax cuts “look reasonable” given that they are for income estimates — not specific amounts — and that not all tax factors are included.

“It generally appears to give accurate estimates of the tax savings under Obama’s tax proposals — for those who get tax cuts,” Williams said, adding that the calculator avoids pointing out possible tax increases or giving estimated amounts of increases. “That clearly focuses attention on the tax cuts rather than the tax increases. But it does not appear to give incorrect results, given very basic assumptions about other factors influencing tax bills,” Williams said.

The Verdict: TRUE! While the Obama tax calculator gives what a nonpartisan authority describes as generally accurate estimates for taxpayers who would qualify for tax cuts under Obama,.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , , , | Leave a comment