Blogs

Economic Troubles Trickling Down to DJs, Up to U2

| Fri Oct. 31, 2008 6:47 PM EDT

mojo-photo-downarrow.jpgThis is what I get for gloating. I was just reassuring my family that my work area, DJing and various audio production gigs, is so specialized that it's generally immune from economic ups and downs. Plus, holidays can be good for DJs, and I typically pick up a couple well-paying gigs for company holiday shindigs. I'd already booked a few, but I just got this e-mail:

To: partyben@yahoo.com
From: [person at event planning company]
Subject: URGENT: [company] Holiday Party
It is with regret we advise you that [company] has cancelled their holiday event scheduled for [date]. We were really looking forward to it, but due to the current economic conditions, it couldn't be helped.

Things are so bad out there that our workplaces' annual celebrations of Jesus are being scrubbed, putting our nation's, uh, guys who are willing to throw on "Play That Funky Music White Boy" when the trashed sales exec demands you play it, out of work? Wow, this is a real recession!

After the jump: Bono feels my pain!

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A Black Voter Email Meme

| Fri Oct. 31, 2008 6:42 PM EDT

Just when you think the right/GOP/racists couldn't get any crazier (not to mention, sink any lower) in their hatred of Obama (not to mention losing), they do. Now (via Salon)...wait for it...Malcolm X is Obama's "real" father. (Ta-Nehisi Coates has lots of fun with the insanity of race on this.) Or maybe it's a "commie" named Frank Marshall Davis. He had a Honolulu 'hot dog stand' where baby Barack hung out and watched his 'dad' deal marijuana and cocaine, the real business behind the buns. Oh, also, 'decent' people couldn't really be choosing Obama. The brother is hypnotizing them. You just gotta read the post. Geez.

Many of my black relatives have called, terrified that whites will lose their minds if Obama wins and that the new Prez will be assassinated before the polls close, and we'll all be pogrom'd back into the cotton fields. I've chuckled, but insanity like this is somewhat troubling. Reminds me of the critical race theory of whiteness of property; some of y'all certainly are acting like non-whites have no right to be like, you know, Americans. Like we're stealing something—full citizenship—that's rightly only yours. Well, as my non-cussing sister would say: bump that.

So, here's a handy little guide that's been making the Negro email rounds. If Obama wins, here's how blacks should handle it. Enjoy:

The Super-Close Senate Race You've Never Heard Of

| Fri Oct. 31, 2008 5:40 PM EDT

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In 2002, Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss was running against Senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.), in one of the most bitter races of that election cycle. With 9/11 still fresh, Chambliss ran an attack ad featuring a photo of Osama bin Laden that accused Cleland, a Vietnam veteran and triple amputee, of not having the "courage to lead" on national security. The ad worked; Chambliss won. But even Republicans thought the attack on Cleland's patriotism was over the top: Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) called it "beyond offensive." This year, Democrats are looking to get their revenge by kicking Chambliss to the curb. And they think Jim Martin, a longtime state legislator and former candidate for lieutenant governor, is just the man to avenge Cleland.

Can Democrats really pick up a seat in deep-red Georgia? Until late September, it didn't look possible. Chambliss led by a 17-point margin in a poll released on September 16. But as the economy worsened, Chambliss suddenly appeared vulnerable. Now most polls have Martin within a few points. Martin has yet to show a lead in a major non-partisan poll, but Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com thinks the polls are "lowballing" Martin and the race is closer than it seems:

How to Protect Your Vote

| Fri Oct. 31, 2008 5:26 PM EDT

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Groups across the country are taking steps to prevent vote problems from marring the vote next Tuesday. Every year, both sides of the aisle let fly with allegations of voter fraud, voting machine problems, and improperly purged voters. Because of technological developments, voters seeking to publicize problems and groups seeking to address them can do so quicker than ever before.

Crying foul in elections is an American tradition. Instances from recent presidential elections are obvious — belief that Katherine Harris stole Florida in 2000 and Diebold stole Ohio in 2004 persist to this day — but allegations of malfeasance can be found in gubernatorial, Senate, and other downticket races. This election season, like any other, has seen its share of vote-based accusations. The Democratic Party has a younger and poorer base than the GOP, meaning that vote suppression tactics that target transitory or low information voters often succeed as a partisan tactic. In Michigan, the state GOP has been accused of seeking to use foreclosure lists to purge newly homeless voters from the rolls. In Virginia, a phony flier instructed voters that due to heavy turnout Republicans would vote on Tuesday and Democrats would vote on Wednesday. In Florida, voters were informed by an unknown caller that they could vote by phone. In multiple states, college students are being told they cannot vote in the state of their academic institution if their parents claim them as dependents somewhere else. And of course the community organization ACORN may be, in John McCain's words, "on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history," due to its imperfect but wildly successful voter registration drives.

The good news is, voters can use technology to protect the vote. Unlike in any prior election, everyday citizens have the opportunity to report and research problems via hotline, Twitter, blogs, and wikis.

The most conventional way voters can report a problem is through a voter hotline, of which there are several. Several television networks host hotlines because they give the networks an early look at voting irregularities that may become major stories. CNN, for example, is operating 1-877-GOCNN-08, which offers to patch a caller through to his or her local voter registrar if necessary.

Is it Delusion or Spin When McCain Camp Insists Palin Is No Drag?

| Fri Oct. 31, 2008 4:59 PM EDT

One of the duties of a campaign manager is to spin--that is, not tell the truth. I remember that on Election Day 1992, Mary Matalin, a top aide for President George H.W. Bush's reelection campaign, went on television throughout the day and said that the campaign was going to win. But its internal polls showed Bush I was heading toward a loss to Bill Clinton.

On Friday, Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager, offered a similar whistling-past-the-graveyard stretcher. In a conference call with reporters, he talked up Sarah Palin, claiming she was an asset to the GOP ticket. It was a tough day for doing so. The New York Times had front-paged a poll showing that 59 percent of voters believe that Palin is not prepared to be vice president--up 9 points since the beginning of October. A third of the voters polled said that her selection would be a major factor in picking a president--and those voters favored Obama. Can you say, "drag on the ticket"?

Davis couldn't. He told reporters:

Governor Palin's crowds are huge. In fact, she was in a location last night, the same general vicinity of Senator Biden. He had about 800 people at his event, she had 20,000. So, all the talk that we see on television and the newspapers about what a drag Governor Palin is on our ticket can't be further from the truth. She's electrifying crowds all across the battleground states, and we really appreciate the hard work she's putting in.

So Palin is helping McCain? Davis and the McCain crew seem to be alone among the politerati in believing this. No one should call the election before the votes are counted, but it does seem clear (assuming polls mean anything at all) that if McCain does manage to win it will be in spite of--not because of--Sarah Palin.

Friday Cat Blogging - 31 October 2008

| Fri Oct. 31, 2008 3:58 PM EDT

FRIDAY CAT KITTEN BLOGGING.... Last week I complained darkly of technical problems and feline noncooperation. This week those problems have been overcome and both Inkblot and Domino are taking the week off as a result. Instead, this week's catblogging features Lily, my mother's newest addition to the family.

My friends, this is a kitten you can believe in.

She is, of course, too young to run for president in 2012. But in cat years she'll be perfectly positioned to run in 2016, and she's practicing for the campaign by taking an executive position in my mother's house, where she apparently managed to take over completely within a few hours of her arrival. Poor Lucy didn't know what hit her.

Happy Halloween, everyone. Be sure to keep your cats indoors tonight.

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Ten Most Awesome Presidential Mudslinging Moves Ever

| Fri Oct. 31, 2008 3:45 PM EDT

Sure, this election's candidates have been called some names (lipsticked pig? terrorist? woman?). But however much we complain that this political campaign is sinking to a new low, it is, in fact, not even close to approaching old ones. The 2008 race's relatively unscurrilous insults would've had the 19th-century campaigners, and Karl Rove, calling even Ann Coulter—well, these days, it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word "pussy"…

Herewith, in the final ramp-up of negative ads, how far we have (or haven't) come in a couple hundred years of presidential contests:

Quote of the Day # 2 - 10.31.08

| Fri Oct. 31, 2008 3:42 PM EDT

QUOTE OF THE DAY #2....From Brad DeLong, trying to figure out what the hell has happened to the economy:

"A 3% decline in aggregate asset values should not be a big problem for the macroeconomy. Yet it is."

To me, the answer appears to be related to derivative speculation. But that is probably too simpleminded. My own personal simplemindedness aside, however, it scares me that the world's most sophisticated economists don't seem to know what the answer is either.

On the other hand, as near as I can tell, we still don't know for sure what caused the Great Depression or even the Black Monday crash of 1987. So maybe we'll never really know with this one either.

Quote of the Day - 10.31.08

| Fri Oct. 31, 2008 3:22 PM EDT

QUOTE OF THE DAY....From Sarah Palin, unclear on the concept of freedom of speech:

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

The First Amendment protects politicians against attacks from the press? I guess Palin's not an originalist after all. She's an Orwellian.

California Initiative Update

| Fri Oct. 31, 2008 3:01 PM EDT

CALIFORNIA INITIATIVE UPDATE....The latest Field Poll shows that Proposition 8, the initiative to ban gay marriage in California, is losing by five points, 49%-44%. That's closer than it was last month, when Prop 8 was losing by 17 points (55%-38%), which means the anti-gay forces are gaining ground and this is probably going to be close. On the bright side, undecided voters have a tendency to vote No on controversial initiatives, so there's a good chance Prop 8 will lose in the end.

By the way, I saw a No on 8 ad last night that actually mentioned the words "same-sex marriage." Only barely, mind you, but it's still something.

In other California news, Field says that both Prop 2 (decent treatment for farm animals) and Prop 11 (redistricting reform) are leading heavily. No news on Prop 1A, the high-speed rail bond.