Mojo - December 2008

Popular Vote Trivia

| Fri Dec. 5, 2008 12:26 PM EST

CrossingWallStreet.com has a neat catch.

Total Democratic Presidential Votes Since 1932: 745,407,082
Total Republican Presidential Votes Since 1932: 745,297,123

That difference, 109,959 votes out of 1.5 billion cast, is 0.00733 percent. Next time a conservative tells you we're a center-right country, tell them numbers exist. And they say we're pretty well split.

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Equal Opportunity Opprobrium

| Fri Dec. 5, 2008 11:27 AM EST

We point out when Republicans abuse their power in ways that ought to get them kicked out of office, so we have a responsibility to do the same for Democrats. Time to go, Charlie Rangel.

New Palin Expenses Are... Curious

| Fri Dec. 5, 2008 11:17 AM EST

Politico reports that the RNC spent an additional $30,000 on clothes and accessories for Sarah Palin and her family late in the campaign, in addition to the $150,000 previously reported. Take a look at where the money was spent:

The RNC's post-Election Day report documented another $30,000 at outlets that read like a suburban shopping directory.
Dick's Sporting Goods, The Limited, Foot Locker, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and Victoria's Secret are all listed in between the expected payments for media buys, direct mail and polling.

Sporting goods? Toys? Lingerie? In what conceivable way could these expenses be related to the campaign? I think it's a bit excessive that Palin's traveling makeup artist got paid $68,400 for roughly three months of work, and that her hair stylist got paid more than $42,000 for about two, but at least those expenses have a bearing on how Palin looked in rallies, interviews, and other campaign-related activities. What does Victoria's Secret sell that was relevant to the campaign?

Note to Fashion World: Michelle Obama Is Black

| Thu Dec. 4, 2008 5:50 PM EST

Womens' Wear Daily commissioned top designers to 'dress' Michelle Obama in her role as First Lady. I'm with Slate's Julia Turner: Why'd so many draw her as a shiksa?

I get that these drawings are stylizations but, to design for someone individually sorta requires you to deal with their skin tone, right? Would they drape a 'winter' in 'summer' colors? A few of the drawings make her downright Nubian, but a suspicious few too many have re-imagined her no darker than a color best described as "geisha".

Why? When they design for white folks, do the skin tones in the drawings vary far from alabaster? One hates to get all psychological on a Thursday, but are these artists 'helping' her by making her whiter (and thus 'capable' of beauty) or are they so squeamish in imagining a sister in couture that they have to whitewash her to make her 'worthy' of high fashion?

Check out the drawings yourself. Maybe I'm overreacting.

Nah. We're looking at some Freudian slips here.

Fiddling While Our University System Burns

| Thu Dec. 4, 2008 5:10 PM EST

The conservatives over at The City Journal are mourning the death of the classical university education:

...in recent decades, classical and traditional liberal arts education has begun to erode, and a variety of unexpected consequences have followed. The academic battle has now gone beyond the in-house "culture wars" of the 1980s. Though the argument over politically correct curricula, controversial faculty appointments, and the traditional mission of the university is ongoing, the university now finds itself being bypassed technologically, conceptually, and culturally, in ways both welcome and disturbing.

It's no big deal though. Our kids won't be able to afford to go to college. From NYT:

Why Obama Should Replace Larry Summers With Eliot Spitzer

| Thu Dec. 4, 2008 3:42 PM EST

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It's easy to snicker at Slate magazine for signing up Eliot Spitzer, former New York governor and onetime john, as a regular columnist. But judging from Spitzer's first outing, it was a master stroke.

The manner in which Spitzer crashed and burned has essentially wiped out the pre-prostitution portion of the Spitzer tale, which included his longtime stint as a critic of corporate excesses. But Spitzer's opening column in Slate is a reminder that in these days of multi-billion-dollar bailouts, there are few powerful and knowledgeable figures in government raising the appropriate questions and challenging the save-the-rich orthodoxy.

From his Slate piece:

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Sugar Daddy Redux

| Thu Dec. 4, 2008 3:09 PM EST

Nearly a year ago, Mother Jones covered the employment opportunities available to hot young hookers via websites like SugarDaddy.com. Today a college senior tells the Daily Beast all about her own arrangement with one such sugar daddy, who made her a sexy proposition she couldn't refuse. After all, she had "tried working, but in retail, surrounded by temptation all day, I spent more than I made. Waiting tables was exhausting."

Seriously, you guys, working and spending within your means is HARD. And certainly all of the sex workers I know would disagree with the implication that sex work isn't physically and emotionally demanding, too. Not that this classy college student considers her "relationship" sex work. The most she'll concede is that it's "maybe even the distant cousin of—dare I say it?—prostitution."

No, please, you best not dare say that, since having sex with somebody you wouldn't have sex with if they weren't throwing loads of money at you for it is not so much a faraway relative of prostitution as it is rampant prostitution. Listen. When the great depression of aught eight kicks in to full gear, we may all have to start screwing old rich guys for money. But let's call it what it is. There ain't no shame in the sex-work game, but there is something sad, and alarming, about smart men and women saying that keeping or being a 20-year-old call girl on a personal payroll is simply a natural, apolitical, magnanimous situation all around.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Is Made of Steel

| Thu Dec. 4, 2008 11:50 AM EST

Guess who'll be joining us in the unemployment lines? This South Florida rep who hung up on Obama, not once, but twice. Then she hung up on Rahm Emanuel. Presumably before he could curse her and the horse she rode in on.

Tough chick. She wasn't getting punk'd like Palin and she's got the best Barack anecdote of all to boot. Finally, the Prez had to get one of her homies to call and convince her to stop hurting his ear drums. But of course, our Negro Cary Grant remains too cool for school; he ain't mad at her.

Now, all I want to know is why he was calling her.

Seriously Bad News Week for KBR

| Thu Dec. 4, 2008 11:31 AM EST

Yesterday, we mentioned that a KBR subcontractor is storing 1,000 workers in a warehouse in Baghdad. Today, there's this:

The lawsuit also accuses KBR of shipping ice in mortuary trucks that "still had traces of body fluids and putrefied remains in them when they were loaded with ice. This ice was served to U.S. forces."

If you think that's bad, read the full story at Army Times. There's more, and it's all horrifying.

A Good Day for Al

| Wed Dec. 3, 2008 2:55 PM EST

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Jim Martin lost Tuesday night in Georgia, dashing the Democrats' hopes of getting to 60 seats in the Senate. But the Dems' hopes of getting to 59 were looking a little better Wednesday on the strength of some good news for Al Franken, who is in a recount battle in Minnesota with incumbent Republican Norm Coleman. Franken, who Jonathan profiled for Mother Jones in 2007, entered the recount trailing by over 200 votes. According to the Minnesota Secretary of State's office, he now trails by around 300. That seems like bad news. But all is not as it seems.

In all likelihood, Coleman's actual lead is in the low single digits, writes polling guru Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com. The Franken campaign estimated on Tuesday morning that it was only 50 votes behind using the assumption that all vote challenges will be rejected (more than 6,000 challenges have been filed so far). That estimate was before Franken netted 37 votes from a batch of 171 previously uncounted ballots that were discovered in Ramsey County. But why doesn't the way the Secretary of State reports ballot totals make sense? Nate Silver explains: