Blogs

Homeowner Bailout Update

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 7:47 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.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

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

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 6:09 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 5:59 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 5:42 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 5:35 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."

Obama's Lead

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 3:57 PM EDT

OBAMA'S LEAD....I notice that a number of liberal pundits are starting to worry in public that maybe John McCain is making up some ground and that maybe, just maybe, he could end up pulling ahead by election day. And sure, anything is possible. But I suspect that this growing fear is due in large part to the fact that, even now, a lot of people really aren't quite sure why Obama is winning.

That includes plenty of conservatives, too, who are practically insane with frustration over what's going on. After all, they've pulled out all the usual stops. They've called Obama a traitor, a radical, an appeaser, a terrorist lover, an Israel hater, and a socialist. And that stuff usually does the trick. So what's wrong this time?

Obama himself is part of it. He's been pretty unflappable and, like FDR, uses humor and mockery effectively to deflect a lot of the fever swamp stuff. His campaign is part of it too. It helps a lot when your response includes not just humor and mockery, but four TV ads to every one of McCain's.

And then there's the X factor: for some reason, the public just isn't buying the old swill this year. Is it because of the economy? Because they're tired of Republicans? Because they think Obama is The One? Who knows? And because we don't really, truly know, we're afraid that maybe if McCain finds just the right pitch, just the right attack line, just the right dodge, the whole thing could come crashing down and the public will, once again, start buying the old swill after all.

But I think that's exactly the wrong way to look at it. If it were just personality, maybe picking Sarah Palin as his running mate really would have turned things around. If it were just ads, maybe a better ad from McCain might do the trick. But if the real problem is that public opinion has turned against modern, GOP-style conservatism in a big way — and that really does seem to be the case — then Obama has the strongest possible kind of lead. Like Adam Smith's invisible hand, it may seem mysterious, but it's no less powerful for all that.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

North Carolina Watch

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 3:01 PM EDT

NORTH CAROLINA WATCH....Liddy Dole airs an ad against Kay Hagan accusing her of being a pagan:

"Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras. Took godless money," the ad concludes. "What did Kay Hagan promise in return?"

This is like a spoof from Saturday Night Live or something. Godless money? Is the Republican Party really this bound and determined to give up what small shreds of credibility they still have left?

Watching this campaign has been sort of like watching The Office. (The Gervais version, anyway.) It's sort of excruciating, and you keep wanting to turn your head away in embarrassment, but you're mesmerized despite it all and you keep watching. And after each episode you think they really can't top that. But then they do.

Less than a week to go, though. It's longer than The Office, but the campaign still has to end eventually.

The Cutest News Report You Will See in 2008

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 2:44 PM EDT

I'm not sure what I like best: the line "Senator Biden is now my homeboy" or the fact that Biden talks so long the kid's arm gets tired.

From Partnership for Learning, via The Stranger.

Media Bias Explained....Finally

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 2:33 PM EDT

MEDIA BIAS EXPLAINED....FINALLY....You may have noticed that conservatives have gone absolutely ga-ga over the idea that the media has been not just biased against them during this campaign cycle, but virtually bought-and-paid-for chattel of the Obama '08 campaign. "The national media has become a feminized, electronic vote-for-Obama nagging machine," says Dan Perrin. "Will the Obamedia cover that?" sneers Andy McCarthy about the cost of Obama's plane trip to visit his dying grandmother. (Seriously.) "Michael S. Malone at ABC beautifully, if tragically, with shame, reports on the 'get-a-room' performance of the national media in this presidential election year," says Jules Crittendon.

Michael Malone? The right-wing tech writer? Yep. Malone, it turns out, has the usual litany of complaints: Why isn't the press interviewing Obama's drug dealer? Why aren't they staking out Bill Ayers' home? What's up with Joe the Plumber? Etc. Kinda tedious. But if you make it to the end, there's comedy gold when he finally explains why the media is so in the tank for Obama. The reason, it turns out, is because the press is run by a bunch of fifty-somethings working in a dying industry:

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe — and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway — all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself — an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career.

With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

That's the answer! It's not reporters who are the real problem, it's a cabal of middle age editors who are desperately trying to elect a president who will pay them back for their support by destroying blogs and rejuvenating the Newspaper Guild. Seriously. That's his theory. And, of course, it was worth a link from Instapundit.

But the big question is: how did he find out? Who leaked? Whoever it is, we need to find the bastard and make him pay. This could ruin everything.

Conservative PAC Holds Press Conference, Accuses Obama of Everything Ever

| Wed Oct. 29, 2008 2:21 PM EDT

stop_obama_tour.jpg

Earlier today, the Our Country Deserves Better PAC concluded its nationwide "Stop Obama" tour with a press conference at the National Press Club in downtown Washington DC. The speakers — who included a conservative talk radio host, a Marine mom, and the singer of a Sarah Palin tribute song entitled "Sarah Smile" — and their supporters gave voice to all of the paranoias that have come to grip the conservative base in the closing days of the campaign. Obama is an authoritarian thug who will deny First Amendment rights if he is made president; he attacks anyone who speaks against him; he will put the country at risk of terrorist attack; he will make America a socialist state; he wants to give American money to Africa; he himself may be foreign-born.

Herewith, a collection of all the things of which Barack Obama stood accused: