2008 - %3, October

Infobama-mercial Changing Hearts and Minds?

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 11:16 PM EDT

There were no celebrities in tonight's 30-minute Obama short, but there were cameos by political somebodies, governors (Bill Richardson: "He can heal this country."), senators (Claire McCaskill), and vignettes featuring real people in key states and regions: the South, New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, covering key demographics: the elderly, white, black, and Hispanic families (though no Asian family was profiled). Overall, it was a montage to remember, one full of specific promises made in a wood-paneled room that looked a little like the Oval Office 2.0.

The key question, of course, is how many people will be moved to vote for Obama after watching him for 30 minutes, watching him detail the specifics of his commitments to health care and education, seeing pictures of his mother, learning that he calls his daughters every night, and hearing him admit he "won't be a perfect president." Some might be swayed (certainly the Harry Potter demographic has reason to believe) but while change may be on the march, it's unclear how many minds this $5 million endeavor actually changed.

My opinion at least. What did you think?

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Why Wright Happens

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 11:06 PM EDT

How come white folks can consort with racists but blacks can't? Not that I'm conceding that Rev. Wright is a racist. But let's stick to the point.

Jonathan Stein's post gives me the perfect opportunity to kvetch about something that's been driving me crazy about the attacks on Obama via Wright.

Stein's right that vicious ads like this one will give a great many cover to vote against Obama. But here's the thing: What about the racists and loonies who helped raise most of us? My father was bitter beyond belief about white racism, even though he had white friends and volunteered to fight in WWII. I can separate his horrific life experiences (Jim Crow sharecropper) out from my own (post-Civil Rights Movement) world view, as do most other Americans. When the elders got together and ranted and raved about the white man, I didn't go upstairs, write a formal denunciation, and secede from my family. I considered the source and was grateful to have been born later. How dare you demand that we have no complaints? Church, and to a lesser and more troubling extent, certain forms of rap 'music', are places we go for catharsis. And catharsis ain't usually a pretty sight.

Jason Whitlock, whom I blogged about earlier, summarized this notion perfectly:

Getting What We Paid For With Sarah Palin

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 8:39 PM EDT

I just read one of the most refreshing, clear-eyed appraisals of Sarah Palin—and, more importantly, a breeze-clearingly fresh analysis of just how depraved the GOP has become—over at HuffPo.

Jason Whitlock, a self-proclaimed apolitical sports writer, found himself bemused by the Palin Veep selection, so he gorged himself figuring out who she was. The more he found out, the more suspicious he was about her selection and subsequent success among "certain" segments. Then, as only a Negro with what we call 'mother wit' can, he nailed it: Heifer's getting over on no-money-down easy credit, shored up by the same corrupt old insiders who gave us our current depression (tho some GOPers are taking up arms):

Obama Benefits from Record Turnout of Early Voters

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 7:12 PM EDT

As CBS reports, early voting has been increasing nationwide for some time, from 7% of all votes cast in 1992 to 20% in 2004. But this year, excitement over the "change" election has broken many state records for early voter turnout. In Colorado, for instance, early voters amount to more than 31% of registered voters. One woman in Georgia reported waiting more than eight hours to vote early.

And how are early voters voting? The AP reports that early voters are overwhelmingly breaking for Obama. Here's their breakdown by party in several key states:

Florida: About 2.6 million people have already voted in a state where absentee ballots overwhelmingly favored President Bush in the razor-thin 2000 election. Among those voting so far this year, 45% are registered Democrats and 39% Republicans.
North Carolina: About 1.6 million people have already voted — 54% are registered Democrats and 29% are Republicans. About 100,000 newly registered voters have signed up and voted at North Carolina's one-stop voting centers. Among them, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by about 2-1.
Iowa: About 340,000 people have already voted — 49% are registered Democrats and 29% are Republicans.
Colorado: About 815,000 people have voted — 39% are registered Democrats and 37% are Republicans.
Nevada: About 342,000 people have already voted in Clark and Washoe Counties, which contain nearly 90% of the state's population. Among those voters, 53% are registered Democrats and 30% are Republicans.
New Mexico: About 111,000 people have voted in Bernalillo County, the state's largest. Among them, 55% are registered Democrats and 33% are Republicans.
Georgia: Black voters make up about 35% of those who have already voted — a big increase from the 2004 election, when 25% of the state's electorate was black. Blacks voted for Obama by ratio of 9-1 in Georgia's Democratic primary this year.

Digital Trainwreck

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 7:07 PM EDT

It seems the recession is spreading in the art world, too. Yesterday, "worry-free" photo storage provider Digital Railroad sent a notice telling its subscribers they had 24 hours to get their images off the DRR server, or lose them. Then they pulled the plug.

Photographers flooded DRR's servers as they tried to salvage their archives, but not everyone was able to download their work in time. Even photographers with back-ups in other locations stand to lose big from DRR's shutting down: Re-archiving images and setting up shop somewhere else takes time. And as we all know, time is money.

Hit just as hard (if not harder) by DRR's closure are powerhouse photo agencies like VII, Noor and Redux, which lost the interface from which they do business.

If this reliable business for photo agencies and stock photographers can fold, who's next?

Homeowner Bailout Update

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 6:47 PM EDT

HOMEOWNER BAILOUT UPDATE....The Washington Post reports that the White House is getting ready to announce a plan that would help up to 3 million homeowners avoid default:

Under the program being discussed, the lender would agree to reduce borrowers' monthly payments based on their ability to pay. The reductions could be achieved by lowering the interest rate, slashing the amount owed or extending the repayment period.

....In exchange, financial institutions that agree to participate in the program would receive a government guarantee for a portion of any losses occurring if borrowers default on the reconfigured loan.

For what it's worth, a Treasury spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that media reports about the program are "simply inaccurate," so take this with a grain of salt. Still, I'll bet it's not too far off the mark, and it sounds like a decent plan. It would be nice to see a chunk of that $700 billion being put to use helping someone other than a bunch of bankers.

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Your Future Dream is A Shopping Scheme: Christie's to Auction Punk Memorabilia

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 5:09 PM EDT

mojo-photo-christies.jpgAs the Sex Pistols once snarled, if you don't know what you want but you know how to get it, then you'll want to head to an upcoming sale in New York to be held by venerable auction house Christie's featuring tons of rock and punk stuff. From the AP:

The event, announced Tuesday, includes more than 120 records, photos and promotional pieces for such punk, garage rock and new wave legends as the Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, the Ramones, David Bowie, Blondie, the Cure and the Smiths. The auction is Christie's first to focus on punk mementos, signaling the collectible status of a brash, anti-authoritarian rock movement that largely thumbed its nose at posterity. "We understand that tastes change, tastes mature," said Christie's pop-culture chief Simeon Lipman. "Ten years ago, punk memorabilia probably wouldn't be something we'd be auctioning here. But now, people of a certain age have a certain ability to splurge on this material."

A certain age? Are you saying I'm old? Well, whatever my age, my ability to afford any of this stuff is very uncertain: a signed Ramones test pressing is estimated at $5,000-$7,000, and a Sears bass guitar used by Kurt Cobain on early demos is estimated to fetch up to $80,000. For those of us living a more, er, punk rock lifestyle, $200 might get you a set of Sex Pistols buttons. That's right: buttons. Jeez, why haven't I been saving those?!

It's not really "punk," per se, but if anybody wants a hint for an early Christmas gift for your dopily-named DJ and blogger, this New Order poster would look great on my wall. Thanks in advance.

Quote of the Day #2 - 10.29.08

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 4:59 PM EDT

QUOTE OF THE DAY #2....From George Newman, arguing that it's the prospect of a Barack Obama victory next week that's caused the stock market to collapse and the economy to go into recession:

Have you thought of how a Treasury Secretary George Soros would engineer the double taxation of the multinationals' world-wide profits, and what this would mean for investors (to say nothing of full-scale industrial flight from the U.S.)? The market now has.

Have you thought of how an Attorney General Charles J. Ogletree would champion a trillion-dollar reparations-for-slavery project (whittled down, to be fair, to a mere $800-billion, over-10-years compromise), and what this would do to the economy? The market now has.

....Have you thought of how a Health and Human Services Secretary Hillary Clinton would fix drug prices (generously allowing 10% over the cost of raw materials), and what this would do to the financial health of the pharmaceutical industry (not to mention the nondiscovery of lifesaving drugs)? The market now has.

This is from — of course — the Wall Street Journal editorial page. But will even their loyal readers swallow something this inane?

Via Brad DeLong.

Thanks, Wal-Mart: AC/DC Scores First #1 Debut

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 4:42 PM EDT

mojo-photo-chartbeat1029.jpg

Well shut my mouth. A couple months ago, news emerged that AC/DC's new album, Black Ice, would be a Wal-Mart exclusive, and I, being a cynical sort, mocked the idea as forcing fans to "jump through hoops." It turns out that people like hoops, since the album (also available at Sam's Club and through the band's web site) debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts this week, selling 784,000 copies. That's second only to Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III for best opening-week sales all year. AC/DC topped the U.S. album charts once before back in 1982 with For Those About to Rock We Salute You, but this is their first #1 debut.

Elsewhere in the Top Ten Albums this week, High School Musical, Kid Rock, and other things that make me hope that suicide barrier at the Golden Gate Bridge will get installed soon prevail. But there are a few glimmers of hope further down the list. Georgia avant-popsters in crazy costumes Of Montreal landed at #38 with their 9th full-length, Skeletal Lamping, an album that critical consensus says isn't quite as spectacular as last year's Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer, but is still pretty good. Recent Riff feature Brett Dennen's Hope For the Hopeless debuted at #41, although he may just be riding some hope coattails. Hopetails?

Remembering When McCain Was Accused of Class Warfare

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 4:35 PM EDT

In the final weeks of the 2008 presidential campaign, Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin have accused Senator Barack Obama of being a socialist bent on taking money from hard-working folks to finance hand-outs to others. At the last presidential debate, McCain declared, "the whole premise behind Senator Obama's plans are class warfare—let's spread the wealth around." This line of attack has been the centerpiece of McCain's closing blast against Obama: because Obama wants to tax the well-to-do to pay for middle-class tax relief, he's an untrustworthy, divisive, redistributionist who cares more about controlling wealth than creating it. He's an enemy of the American dream.

But eight years ago, in January and February 2000, McCain was on the receiving end of similar criticism, as conservatives and Republicans accused him of engaging in class warfare by opposing tax breaks for the rich while advocating tax cuts for middle- and low-income Americans. That is, McCain was denounced in much the same way as he is now denouncing Obama.

Back then, McCain was locked in a fierce fight with George W. Bush for the GOP presidential nomination. Bush had proposed a massive tax-cuts package. At the time, McCain said, "Sixty percent of the benefits from [Bush's] tax cuts go to the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans--and that's not the kind of tax relief that Americans need….I don't believe the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans should get 60 percent of the tax breaks. I think the lowest 10 percent should get the breaks….I'm not giving tax cuts for the rich." On Meet the Press, he maintained, "There's a growing gap between rich and poor in America….I think that the people who need [tax cuts] most and need the relief most are working middle-income Americans." At a campaign rally in February 2000, he declared, "I don't think Bill Gates needs a tax cut. I think your parents do." The New York Times described McCain's tax plan as "apportioning the spoils of the nation's current prosperity."

For taking this stance, McCain was walloped by Republicans.

* On Hardball, former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp said, "John McCain is waging class warfare, and he should stop it."

* On Meet the Press, Representative David Dreier, a California Republican supporting Bush, said of McCain's stance, "The idea of engaging in class warfare is not a pro-California thing."

* On CNN's Crossfire, co-host Mary Matalin huffed, "John McCain has been running on…class warfare."

* Texas Republican party head Susan Weddington excoriated McCain for engaging in a "shameless kind of class warfare."