Mojo - November 2008

A Report From the Economy

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 12:57 PM EST

panic-button.jpg

Something called the Institute for Supply Management's factory index "plunged" to 38.9% in October. In an email, economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research tells us why this matters:

[The ISM index] is a pretty good measure of the direction of change in output in manufacturing. The current reading indicates that manufacturing output is falling sharply. That likely means many more layoffs and plant closings. It's pretty bad news.

The index, which used to be called the purchasing manager's index, is now at its lowest level since September of 1982. Numbers below 50% indicate that the economy is contracting. Newly minted economics Nobel winner Paul Krugman says the latest ISM number means "We need a government of national unity to deal with the economic crisis, starting at, oh, around 8:45 PM tomorrow."

Photo from flickr user zengrrl used under a Creative Commons license.


Advertise on MotherJones.com

Is The "Cell Phone Effect" Lowballing Obama's Numbers?

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 12:35 PM EST

Do pollsters who don't call cell phones make the election look closer than it actually is? Polling maven Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com thinks so. The traditional assumption is that young, cell-phone-only voters probably lean heavily toward Obama. It turns out that the four national polls that include cell phones in their samples are also the four polls that have him with the largest margins of victory. He charted it for you, too (after the jump):

Gun Manufacturer's President Asked to Resign Over Support for Obama

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 11:25 AM EST

Apparently supporting Barack Obama is enough to cost you your job if your job happens to involve making guns. When Dan Cooper, the co-founder and president of Montana-based Cooper Firearms, told reporters he supported Obama, he probably didn't expect he would be forced to resign. But an internet-fueled uproar and the threat of a boycott led to the Board of Directors asking for Cooper's resignation late last week. Hearing the story, Montana's Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer (who also supports Obama) interrupted an elk-hunting trip to offer his help:

"I said, 'Look, I will support Cooper Firearms in their sales promotions. I will go to vendors. I will go state to state. I will help you sell the firearms, if you think the governor of Montana can help you close some deals,'" Schweitzer said.
The governor said Friday he will do what he can to help the company and its 40 employees overcome any lingering backlash.
"For the couple of weeks that lead up to an election, it's almost like Halloween, a lot of the goblins are out," Schweitzer said. "Things will cool down, they always will."

Cooper Firearms better hope "things cool down." Many gun dealers, including Cabela's and Sportsman's Warehouse, are already canceling orders after being threatened with boycotts. The canceled orders mean Cooper is now in very serious trouble: losing Cabela's and Sportsman's Warehouse, its two biggest accounts, could threaten the very existence of the 38-employee company. So it's no surprise that the company's board felt it had to ask Cooper to resign.

Gun owners, pushed along by the NRA, have leaned Republican for decades. Obviously they think that protecting their Second Amendment rights is very important. But the attack on Cooper seems like a big overreaction. Second Amendment activists just won a huge Supreme Court case, District of Columbia v. Heller, that will make it very hard to implement any meaningful restrictions on guns, no matter who is President. And Obama, for the record, has said he believes the constitution grants an individual right to bear arms. And even if Obama does secretly want to ban handguns, it seems highly unlikely that it would be anywhere near the top of his agenda. It's just too politically risky. Dan Cooper probably realized all this. But realizing that his Second Amendment rights are more than likely safe under an Obama administration will come as cold comfort to Cooper if his choice for President ends up costing 38 people their jobs.

Obama Brings the Hood to Montana

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 8:32 AM EST

A conservative white guy from the South canvasses for Obama and breaks my heart. From the Christian Science Monitor (via Andrew Sullivan):

At the Obama headquarters, we stood in a group to receive our instructions. I wasn't the oldest, but close, and the youngest was maybe in high school. I watched a campaign organizer match up a young black man who looked to be college age with a white guy about my age to canvas together. It should not have been a big thing, but the beauty of the image did not escape me.

Read the whole thing. It's beautiful.

In the same vein, WaPo's Wil Haygood went to Montana, where blacks are nearly non-existent, to see how these whitest of white folks are reacting to the thought of a black man as President.

Wil is an excellent, excellent writer (and a good friend) but I have to wonder how Montanans would have responded to a white reporter. Their comments sound a tad...careful to me. Not that they should be assumed to be Kluxers, but I just wonder. There are a few lovely images though:

Are You a Reservist With Job Trouble? The Asst Secretary of Defense Awaits Your Call

| Sun Nov. 2, 2008 10:01 PM EST

According to the Pentagon at least 10 percent of returning reservists and national guardsmen and women have reported problems with their jobs, lost pay, demotions, loss of employment altogether after deployment. This despite the fact that they are protected under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which guarantees their jobs upon return. A 60 Minutes piece tonight detailed this growing problem citing employment lawsuits pending against Wal-Mart, UPS, and American Airlines, among others.

And with regular deployments for guard and reservist platoons now scheduled for every five years, 1.2 million guard and reservists, 45 percent of the military, are now in regular rotation. Military leaders are calling this a more appropriate use of military services, in other words, a bargain. Business owners in turn are asking why they should be heavily subsidizing the military. Really this is another way of outsourcing our military. This time it's the businesses employing the reservists who are footing the bill for non-full time warriors who need to come home to benefits and open jobs deployment after deployment. Without a draft, and unless we're going to turn over operations to Blackwater, such outsourcing is becoming the norm in our deficit- and war-ridden situation.

Still, if you are a national guard or reservist and you are having a problem with your employer, the assistant secretary of defense, Thomas Hall, pledged on 60 Minutes tonight that he'll see to it that your case gets the proper attention. His number is 703-697-6631.

Snakes on Obama's Plane?

| Sun Nov. 2, 2008 6:25 PM EST

Why did Obama boot reporters from the New York Post, the Washington Times, and the Dallas Morning News last week? It's not quite the uniting move, but at this stage the demand for seats is at a premium so some folks just had to go. All of these papers' editorial boards have endorsed John McCain, so it may or may not be a coincidence, but either way, Drudge pounced on the move to swap reporters out for "network bigwigs," instead of adding a second plane. The Obama campaign insists that the move was strategic, to "reach as many swing voters as we can."

It may not matter a lick in the long run, but Fox et al are outraged. At this point the angry right is grasping at everything, like Obama's press conference comment that inspired the RNC's Audacity Watch this morning. Is this not the same "arrogance" shown when the candidates are introduced as the "next president of the United States" at their conventions and rallies? What voter wants to support a candidate who doesn't think he'll win?

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Quote of the Day, Barack Obama Edition

| Sun Nov. 2, 2008 11:52 AM EST

Barack Obama, on the fact that Dick Cheney has come out for John McCain:

"With John McCain you get a twofer: George Bush's economic policy and Dick Cheney's foreign policy."

Oh snap, as they say.