Settling up campaign debts

The AP is suing Shepherd Fairey for illegally using one of their images for his now-famous “Hope” illustration of Barack Obama. As my favorite journalism professor at UMass used to say, you can’t spell “cheap” without AP. The Associated Press wants compensation for the use of their photo.

The compensation claim is difficult. Fairey has clearly benefited from the exposure gained through his portrait, but received little if any compensation from the image itself – since Fairey’s goal was to elect Barack Obama, he allowed the image to be used freely. The biggest benefactor of the image was Barack Obama.

If there’s any cash left in his $750 million campaign coffers, it might be nice to use some to help Fairey out – especially since the image was the basis for the official inauguration poster and buttons designed by the Obama transition team.

Of course, they might wonder – as I do – why the AP is bringing up the controversy now when the image saw its heaviest use months and months ago during the campaign.

Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the online home of Hope and Change

Hours after his inauguration, Barack Obama has already re-launched Whitehouse.gov. The site features a blog, facts about the executive branch, and other informational links. It also includes an indexed policy agenda and a page for the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs. These two items will, in all likelihood, operate hand-in-hand in the new administration: as the President pursues the agenda, look for the Office of Public Liaison to mobilize public support to publicly lobby Congress. This office may also act as a way to run instantaneous focus groups to identify agenda items that will resonate most among the President’s “standing army” of supporters.

Bookmark and Share

Is DC ready?

Your Nation’s Capital has been scrambling to prepare for Tuesday’s inauguration day. Restaurants are getting ready for crowds, the homeless have been swept under the rug, and Metro is issuing more expensive fare cards and telling people to walk.

Nope. This is what the Farragut West Metro platform looked like on Thursday night, without the crush of people who will be in town today through Tuesday. And those are just people waiting to get on a westbound train heading out of the district at 6:00 p.m.

Earlier that day, I picked up Metro’s guide to getting around during the inauguration. Tips included looking for alternate means of transportation – including walking.

In a December WTOP interview, Metro’s head conductor, General Manager John Catoe, said the system can move up to 1 million people but that “a million and a half is not a number we can physically move.” Metrorail handles about 750,000 commuters daily, and the disctrict is expecting an influx in the millions. So do the math: Metro cannot handle the crowds they know are coming.

Bookmark and Share

Is DC ready?

Your Nation’s Capital has been scrambling to prepare for Tuesday’s inauguration day. Restaurants are getting ready for crowds, the homeless have been swept under the rug, and Metro is issuing more expensive fare cards and telling people to walk.

Nope. This is what the Farragut West Metro platform looked like on Thursday night, without the crush of people who will be in town today through Tuesday. And those are just people waiting to get on a westbound train heading out of the district at 6:00 p.m.

Earlier that day, I picked up Metro’s guide to getting around during the inauguration. Tips included looking for alternate means of transportation – including walking.

In a December WTOP interview, Metro’s head conductor, General Manager John Catoe, said the system can move up to 1 million people but that “a million and a half is not a number we can physically move.” Metrorail handles about 750,000 commuters daily, and the disctrict is expecting an influx in the millions. So do the math: Metro cannot handle the crowds they know are coming.

Bookmark and Share

Merchandising! Merchandising!

The countdown to the Obama inauguration is in its final week. Your nation’s capital is getting more excited by the day about the opportunity this presents to make a few extra bucks.

It started after the election with street vendors selling random items – t-shirts, prints of Obama and his family, and things like that. Then, while Christmas shopping, I started to notice that stores in the Pentagon City Mall are selling cardboard cutouts and other Obama-themed novelties. Metro is even offering a commemorative fare card that is twice the price of a normal fare card.

Now businesses are getting into it who would otherwise not comment on politics – the picture here is from the Farragut North Metro station, which is currently awash in Ikea ads touching on the theme of “change.” (Apparently, the historic events of the next week should inspire us all to look to a future with brand new bedroom furniture.)

Of course, none of these money-making efforts are commissioned by the Obama transition team, which offers an important lesson for discussion of stimulus packages and other economic policies. The Obama White House should similarly recognize the innovation and opportunism of business owners.

Bookmark and Share