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Diagnosis: Reform (Capital Eye)
For some individuals, how Congress aims to reform
America’s health care system is literally a matter of life and death. For some industries, it could mean the difference between weathering the economic storm or shuttering their businesses. Nobody knows yet what the shape or scope of the final bill will be. It may not even make it to President Obama’s desk. But one thing is certain: The American health care system is set to get a lobotomy and diverse special interests are spending big bucks to make sure they’re in the surgery room when it happens.

Just so you’ll know what the parasites are protecting by these donations to Congress:
CEO Compensation: Who Said Health Care is in a Financial Crisis?
 (by Doctor K at WebMD, thanks to DCblogger at Corrente)
Those of you who are struggling to pay for your generic medicines or wondering why the doctor is charging you a $5.00 co-pay, give some thought to these facts about how our health care dollars are allocated. At the end of this post, there is a list of 23 health companies I found on Forbes.com, what the CEO was paid in 2005, and the average paid to the CEO in the past five years. Imagine adding vice presidents, Board of Directors, stock holders and the other 200-300 other companies all cashing in on your health. [TOTAL 2005: 559.8 mil, TOTAL 5-Year: 14.9 billion]

Bill Clinton Sees Hope for Health Care Changes, This Time (New York Times)
As he watches the new Democratic president take on the issue that stymied him 16 years ago, Mr. Clinton has concluded that Mr. Obama has a better chance than he did, both because of the way the new proposals are structured and because of a national mood that is more supportive of major action. “He’s got a better Congress, a more receptive climate,” Mr. Clinton said in a recent interview. “He also has, frankly, a better — at least more politically saleable — set of proposals.”
So why is Obama listening only to Blue Dogs, Republicans, and, like Tom Daschle and Bob Dole, servants of the health insurance parasites who make so much money by taking our money and then denying us coverage and care?

Daschle Folds on Federal Public Health Care Plan (The Note, ABC News)
In an attempt at bipartisanship, three former majority leaders of the U.S. Senate, Tom Daschle, Howard Baker, and Bob Dole, offered their solution today to the biggest obstacle to achieving health care reform — a public option… In a blow to President Obama and many of his Democratic allies in the health care fight, the plan recommends that there be no federal public option, but rather state or regional public-sponsored networks that would compete with private health plans, according to the summary released today by the Bipartisan Policy Center. “If you want to stop this thing dead in its tracks, or dead on arrival, in my view you put the public plan in it,” Dole said when asked whether there were any non-negotiables to deal with when drafting the bipartisan recommendations.

Daschle beds down with the enemies of health care reform (by Alegre)
There’s absolutely no excuse for them to fail in getting at least a public option into a reform package.  This is the kind of thing we elected them to do – health care reform.  It’s what people have said they wanted in poll after poll after poll.  If the Democrats in Congress fail to push for a public option and push it hard – and if the WH fails to demand it – then it’s time we started asking the obvious question… What in the hell did we elect all of those Democrats for last November? [Emphasis added.] This should be a slam dunk dammit.  We don’t need high-profile Democrats bedding down with Republicans to scuttle reform. We need them to grow a spine and get this thing done and done right.

Republicans try to obstruct health care bill. (Think Progress)
[Wednesday], the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee began marking up Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) Affordable Health Care Act. Republicans, who pushed for the incomplete HELP legislation to be studied by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and then pretended that the agency scored the entire bill, tried to obstruct the effort by complaining that the CBO had not yet scored the full proposal. During the hearing, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) argued that the hearing be postponed until a full cost-analysis is available.

The GOP then maneuvered to introduce a host of amendments simply as a delaying tactic. Rather than offering constructive improvements that could lower costs and expand coverage, a good number of the GOP’s proposed amendments do nothing to solve the health care crisis. The Wonk Room has the run-down.

Senate Committee Delays Health Care Effort (Political Wire)
The Senate Finance Committee “has postponed the markup of its health care reform bill until after the Fourth of July recess,” Roll Call reports. The markup was expected to begin next Tuesday.

House Republicans Unveil Thin Health Care Plan (Political Wire)
Roll Call: “House Republicans presented a four-page outline of their health care reform plan Wednesday but said they didn’t know yet how much it would cost, how they would pay for it and how many of the nearly 50 million Americans without insurance would be covered by it.”

All Hat No Cattle

Taking the Hypocritical Oath (by Paul Krugman)
I know it’s a tough competition, but this just might be the most hypocritical thing I’ve seen in the past year: “On Monday, Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced the ‘Preserving Access to Targeted, Individualized, and Effective New Treatments and Services (PATIENTS) Act of 2009,’ a new bill prohibiting Medicare or Medicaid from using ‘comparative effectiveness research to deny coverage.’” How bad is it? Let me count the ways.

1. Politicians who rail against wasteful government spending are taking action to prevent the government from reining in … wasteful spending.
2. Politicians who warn that the burden of entitlements is killing the federal budget are stepping in to block … the single most painless route to reducing the growth of entitlements.
3. They’re doing it in the name of avoiding “rationing of health care” … but they’re specifically addressing taxpayer-funded care. If you want to go out and buy a medically useless treatment, Medicare won’t stop you.
4. These same politicians are, of course, opposed to efforts to expand coverage. In other words, it’s evil for government to “ration care” by only paying for things that work; it is, however, perfectly OK, indeed virtuous, to ration care by refusing to pay for any care at all.

The Bipartisanship of Fools (by E.J. Dionne)
Where did we get the idea that the only good health care bill is a bipartisan bill? Is bipartisanship more important than whether a proposal is practical and effective?… It’s one thing to compromise to pick up votes, which one hopes is what Baucus is doing. It’s another to compromise in exchange for nothing at all. The first is bipartisanship with a purpose. The second is the bipartisanship of fools.

This can’t be good:
Dem, GOP centrists meet in secret
(The Hill, thanks to Susie at Suburban Guerilla)
Centrist House lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are working together privately on healthcare reform.  The talks have been so secretive and politically sensitive that some members interviewed by The Hill refused to name other legislators involved in the bipartisan effort. 
“Centrist”, of course, means corporate bought hack.

New Poll Shows Tremendous Support For Public Health Care Option (Campaign for America’s Future, thanks to Susie at Suburban Guerilla)
Eighty-three percent of Americans favor and only 14 percent oppose “creating a new public health insurance plan that anyone can purchase” according to EBRI, a conservative business research organization. [Emphasis added.] This flatly contradicts conservatives’ loudest attack against President Obama’s plan to provide quality, affordable health care for all.

Obama Boost: New Poll Shows 76% Support For Choice Of Public Plan (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
New poll numbers from NBC/Wall Street Journal produce two major and potentially conflicting story lines when it comes to the Obama administration’s efforts for a health care overhaul. On the one hand, the American public overwhelmingly favors a choice between getting insurance coverage either through the private market or a government run option. Indeed, 76 percent of respondents said it was either “extremely” or “quite” important to “give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance.”

Poll: On Health Care, Public Trusts Insurance Companies More Than GOP Leaders (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Wow. With the health care debate gearing up, some new numbers from
Gallup suggest that the public doesn’t exactly have a tremendous amount of confidence in Republican leaders on the issue… Only 34% are confident that GOP leaders Congress will make the right decisions about health care reform — less than the insurance companies (35%) or the pharmaceutical companies (40%). By contrast, more have confidence in Dem leaders (42%), and even more trust Obama (58%).

So why do Republicans keep winning the day? How do we continue NOT getting what most of us want?
HOW WE STAY BAREFOOT AND PREGNANT:
(by Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler)
How does your nation discuss major issues? Very, very poorly. Consider two more reports about health cares costs, found in [Wednesday’s] Post and Times. The Post assembled a trio of scribes to compile its report. They spoke about mammoth possible costs involved in reaching full coverage… It might cost quite a bit, the trio of scribes report… There’s nothing “wrong” or inaccurate about this news report. But in accord with established Hard Pundit Law, this report omits the most significant Big Giant Fact about our health-care system: On a per capita basis, we’re already spending twice as much as comparable nations which get better health outcomes and already have full coverage! [Emphasis added.]

Surely, any sane person can see the enormous big-picture relevance of that Big Fact. But this Huge Giant Fact simply never appears in our discussions of health-care “overhaul.”… Nor have [Americans] heard any liberal journal or interest group telling them this in a disciplined way–or much of anything else, for that matter… Our big career liberals tend to slumber and doze. By contrast, pseudo-con “think tanks” and Republican pols aggressively push anti-government spins. [Americans] have heard from the right. From our side? Perhaps not so much.
For more than eight years now, I’ve tried to make the point that we on the left need a media strategy. How many times will we allow ourselves to be outflanked, out-strategized, and overrun by a small minority of right wingers, before we start fighting back in a smart and coordinated way?

Another kindred spirit:
The Bi-Partisan Repudiation of the Left
(by Peter Daou at Consider This News)
[I]f you look back at the Bush and Clinton years, rightwing hate found its biggest platform on major media outlets, who gladly provided national soapboxes to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and others, while elected Democrats said or did precious little about it and ran away from the ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ mantle like the plague… [Y]ear after year, the traditional media and political establishment, including Democrats, allowed a parade of liberal-bashers to poison the national dialogue and to demonize a large segment of the population. The results are manifested today. And it continues…

Reporters and pundits who chuckle at hate radio hosts or regurgitate their words, and Democrats who fail to mount a vigorous defense of progressive ideology – or worse, happily shun the left – should consider the ramifications. I took heat for disagreeing with the ‘elevate Limbaugh’ strategy orchestrated by senior Democratic strategists and assisted by the White House. But I feel more strongly than ever that haters like Limbaugh, Hannity and O’Reilly should be marginalized, not legitimized and elevated. After all, words can have deadly consequences. Anyone who thinks it’s helpful to mock the “far left” – especially when that term is used overbroadly to describe a wide swath of dedicated progressive activists – is ignoring the results of the unmitigated assault on liberals and liberalism, a campaign of hate that has calcified the kind of blind hatred that ultimately leads to violence.

Action Alert: June 25th demonstration Washington DC (by DCblogger at Corrente)
Can’t come to Washington DC on June 25? Could you visit the district office of your Senator or Representative? If you can’t take time off from work, see if you can get a lunch time appointment, assuming your office is near your representative’s office. Ask them to support single payer. In person visits are the gold standard of citizen action.

At least one Republican makes sense:
Sen. Johnny Isakson thinks a public plan competing against private health care programs is a ‘good system.’
(Think Progress)
On Monday, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) told the Georgia Public Broadcasting News that although he opposes a single-payer system, he would support a system where there is competition between public and private health care programs: “ISAKSON: Having private competition, facilities like Emory that are private, public like Grady competing with one another is a good system. What we have got to guard against is becoming a single-payer government system. You take competition out of health care and you’ll have less quality and a higher cost.”
Click through to listen to the audio.

Holy #*&%@$!!!!! ANOTHER Republican makes sense:
Frist On Using Reconciliation Process To Pass Health Care Reform: ‘It’s Legal, It’s Ethical’
(Think Progress)
On May 1, Congress passed President Obama’s budget, which included language allowing for the use of the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform with a simple majority in the Senate. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) said any use of budget reconciliation by Obama would be “regarded as an act of violence” against Republicans, and likened it to “running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the
Chicago River.” Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) made similar remarks, while Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) called reconciliation a “purely partisan exercise.”

But at least one Republican recognizes that the use of reconciliation — while rare — is not unprecedented or unethical, let alone “an act of violence.” On Bill Bennett’s radio show [Tuesday] morning, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said of budget reconciliation: “It’s legal, it’s ethical, you can do it.” Further, Frist said that he believed Obama would be able to get a health care package passed this year:

WATCH: Conservative Media Paranoia Over Health Care Reform (by Brian Frederick & Karl Frisch at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Boortz fear monging: “Obama’s health care plan is going to end up killing people” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

GOP Planning Televised Counter-Attack Against Obama And ABC News (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
The Republican National Committee, furious with ABC News for granting the Obama administration airtime to discuss health care, is planning to use its in-house TV studio to air a counter-attack starring GOP members of Congress, according to an internal RNC memo I’ve obtained. [Tuesday], after ABC announced that they would be broadcasting wall-to-wall coverage next Wednesday from the White House featuring Obama answering audience questions about health care, the RNC slammed ABC for planning to air “a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda.” ABC dismissed the criticism.

Now, however, the RNC is planning to respond — on the air. In a memo sent to GOP press secretaries on the Hill that a source sent over, the RNC wrote: “…The RNC TV studio will be available the entire day of June 24th. Please RSVP at your earliest convenience as space is limited.” Read the full memo here.

Bruce: ABC News “turned into Monica Lewinsky … no more is it interns servicing the president, it’s an entire network” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

FLASHBACK: When Fox News boasted about its “unprecedented” access to the Bush White House (County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Suddenly ABC News has become “state controlled” media because it’s working closely with the Obama White House on a primetime program. At least that’s how Michelle Malkin and her friends explain the world to their outraged readers. So if ABC News is now government controlled, what did that make Fox News in 2008? “FOX News’ Bret Baier was granted unprecedented access by George W. Bush as the president begins the final year of his extraordinarily consequential tenure. This historic documentary – shot in high definition – takes you inside the Oval Office, to the president’s
Texas ranch, aboard Air Force One and into his private sanctums in the White House residence.”

Urge to surge (by Paul Krugman)
So I’ve been reading stories about a “surge” in housing starts. And it’s true that starts were up 17 percent over the previous month. But here’s the thing: new-home construction has come to a virtual standstill, so even large percentage changes mean only a handful of extra homes started. If we’re building 6 homes a month nationwide, and that goes to 7, it’s a 17 percent rise — but makes almost no difference in real life. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit, but here’s what housing starts actually look like:

Only a Hint of Roosevelt in Financial Overhaul (by Joe Nocera, New York Times)
On Wednesday, President Obama unveiled what he described as “a sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system, a transformation on a scale not seen since the reforms that followed the Great Depression.” In terms of the sheer number of proposals, outlined in an 88-page document the administration released on Tuesday, that is undoubtedly true. But in terms of the scope and breadth of the Obama plan — and more important, in terms of its overall effect on Wall Street’s modus operandi — it’s not even close to what
Roosevelt accomplished during the Great Depression. Rather, the Obama plan is little more than an attempt to stick some new regulatory fingers into a very leaky financial dam rather than rebuild the dam itself. Without question, the latter would be more difficult, more contentious and probably more expensive. But it would also have more lasting value…

Everywhere you look in the plan, you see the same thing: additional regulation on the margin, but nothing that amounts to a true overhaul. The new bank supervisor, for instance, is really nothing more than two smaller agencies combined into one. The plans calls for new regulations aimed at the ratings agencies, but offers nothing that would suggest radical revamping. The plan places enormous trust in the judgment of the Federal Reserve — trust that critics say has not really been borne out by its actions during the Internet and housing bubbles.

More notes on the regulation plan (by Paul Krugman)
1. Cheers for the extension of regulation, including capital requirements, to all “Tier 1 FHCs” — which, in the report’s jargon, means any financial institution, whether or not it’s a conventional bank, that might have to be rescued in a crisis.
2. Damnation with faint praise for the 5% “skin in the game” provision: it’s just too weak. George Soros, who should know, says it should be at least 10 percent, probably more.
3. Cheers for the poke in the eye to right-wingers eager to blame the Community Reinvestment Act.

Some Lawmakers Question Expanded Reach for the Fed (New York Times)
Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said the central bank’s failure to be a tough-minded regulator over the last decade had left him and other lawmakers without “a lot of confidence in the Fed at this point.”… Representative Barney Frank of
Massachusetts, who until recently was publicly supportive of an expanded role for the Fed, said a significant number of lawmakers have raised concerns and that it would probably be one of the harder issues to resolve.

Banks Brace for Fight Over Consumer Protection Agency (New York Times)
On Wednesday, President Obama proposed creating a federal agency that would require banks, mortgage lenders and credit card companies to provide consumers with a more nutritious diet, financially speaking. But what is good for consumers may not always square with what is good for banks. And the banking industry — which says it stands to lose billions of dollars — is bracing for a fight as the administration’s plan to overhaul the way the industry is regulated heads to Capitol Hill.
Banks don’t need no stinkin’ nutritious diets!

Where Credit Is Due (by Ryan Chittum, Columbia Journalism Review, book review of Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe by Gillian Tett)
I can’t imagine there’s a better vehicle to tell the story of credit derivatives—the financial instruments that laid the groundwork for the financial crisis—than the one Gillian Tett uses in Fool’s Gold. The author, a top reporter and columnist for the Financial Times, views the whole mess through the prism of a single company: JPMorgan Chase. As Tett sees it, the firm essentially invented the credit derivative, proselytized for it, and then avoided most of the excesses it enabled, only to watch it send the entire industry into a free fall.

That Tett has written a readable book about credit-default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, asset-backed securities, and so on, is itself an accomplishment (though it ain’t exactly beach reading). But she has a good story here, too, taking us inside the genesis of the crisis.
Buy it here.

Why the official Iranian election results are suspect (McClatchy)
In American politics, it would be as if President George W. Bush won re-election over Sen. John Kerry in 2004 by taking Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts, doing surprisingly well in liberal New York City and besting his 2000 vote totals by 40 percent.

Matt Bors (thanks to The Brad Blog)

Thousands of Iranians march in defiance as death toll reaches 32 (McClatchy)
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flooded Tehran Wednesday in the fifth day of protests to demand the annulment of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election, and more nationwide protests appeared to be in store.

Rep. Rohrabacher: Obama Is A ‘Cream Puff’ For Not Interfering In Iran (Think Progress)
[Tuesday], President Obama explained his relative public silence with regard to the situation in Iran, saying, “It’s not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling, the U.S. president meddling in Iranian elections.” Later in the day, on Radio America’s Dateline Washington, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) responded to Obama’s measured statements on Iran by calling him a “cream puff” and predicting that under Obama’s leadership “things” will get “very bad, very quickly”:

Report: Hillary And Biden Want Obama To Talk Tougher On Iran (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
A fascinating detail from this morning’s New York Times piece on the debate about President Obama’s response to events in Iran: “Even while supporting the president’s approach, senior members of the administration, including Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, would like to strike a stronger tone in support of the protesters, administration officials said.”… [F]or now the tell seems to be that administration officials are leaking on such a sensitive matter. Republicans who’ve been hammering Obama’s handling of the Iran crisis and are persuaded it’s a political winner for them seem likely to grab on to this to give their criticism legs.

Someone in Iran (Probably the Government) Isn’t Good at Photoshop (by Gabriel Snyder at Gawker)
A picture that shows that some Photoshopping was used to make the crowd at a pro-Ahmedinejad rally look bigger is racing around the Internet right now. We have no idea where it’s from (anyone read Farsi?) but everyone’s screaming propaganda! Which it probably is! But the Internet is full of fake shit, which people mostly (if they’re smart) just ignore. Last July, when Iran docotored a missile test photo to make it look 33% scarier, it ended up on the home page of the New York Times, a place that has a general disregard for fake shit.

Is Obama’s ‘Prolonged Detention’ American? (by Nat Hentoff)
We may have to find out how strong a shelter the Constitution will be under a plan being considered by President Obama for “a new legal system” that can indefinitely confine – possibly in American “Supermax prisons” – certain terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, and not only there. They cannot be tried in our civilian courts because they have been tortured (preventing evidence against them being admitted) or because as NPR’s Ari Shapiro puts it, they “would compromise sensitive sources and methods.” Like, he adds, if they’ve been tortured, the assumption could be “they’re dangerous because they’ve been tortured.”

Holder: Indefinite Detention Will Include Measures Of Due Process (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Eric Holder asserted on Wednesday that terrorism suspects indefinitely detained by the United States would be granted opportunities for due process, both before and during their detention. But he declined to detail how and where such appeals could take place, telling members of Congress that such specifics had yet to be agreed upon by the administration.
Is getting some opportunities for due process anything like being a little bit pregnant?

Attorney General Holder reminds Sessions who’s boss. (Think Progress)
[Wednesday] morning, Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) slammed the Justice Department’s release of Bush-era memos authorizing the use of torture on terrorist suspects, telling Holder that his “predecessor, Judge Mukasey, and Mr. Hayden,” the former Director of National Intelligence, “didn’t approve of that at all.” Holder reminded Sessions that Mukasey and Hayden were no longer in charge.
Click through to watch the video.

Let’s hold Bush officials accountable for torture (by Anthony Romero and Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, Salon)
Torture is a crime and the
United States engaged in it. Those are two indisputable facts. Given the mountains of evidence already in the public domain, any effort to deny or soften that harsh and devastating reality is either disingenuous, uninformed or a result of the human instinct to avoid painful truths. But one of the things that allows our democracy to endure is that time after time, no matter the misdeed, we have been willing to look ourselves in the mirror, acknowledge our wrongdoing and hold ourselves accountable.

Both of the authors of this piece chose professions devoted to protecting democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law. One of us is an Army prosecutor who resigned from six pending Guantánamo cases due to ethical failings of the tribunal system, and the other is the leader of the premier civil liberties organization in the U.S. We both understand that the process of self-examination and accountability has been, and remains, the only way to move forward and regain our moral and legal grounding.

Holder Wants As “Complete A Report” On Bush Lawyers As Soon As Possible (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Attorney General Eric Holder restated his intention on Wednesday to release a comprehensive report, declassified to the fullest extent, on the legal advice provided by the Bush administration in its authorization of enhanced interrogation techniques. Speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder said that delays in releasing the findings of the Office of Professional Responsibility’s (OPR) investigation into former President George W. Bush’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) was the result of administrative obstacles and not political foot-dragging or objections from the CIA

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: “It’s the President’s Justice Department.” (by bostonboomer at The Confluence)
I’ve been waiting for the W.O.R.M, but so far nothing. In his daily press briefing [Wednesdy], Robert Gibbs responded to a question by Jake Tapper on the Justice Department’s brief supporting the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): “Q Does the President stand by the legal brief that the Justice Department filed last week that argued in favor of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act?… MR. GIBBS: Well, again, it’s the President’s Justice Department. And again, we have the role of upholding the law of the land while the President has stated and will work with Congress to change that law.” In other words, yes, the President agrees with the argument that essentially draws an analogy between incest and same sex marriage–the same argument used by the Bush Justice Department!

Limbaugh still littering discussion of Obama and DOMA with mockery of gay community (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Robertson: Countries that embrace homosexuality go “down into ruin,” end “up in the garbage heap of history” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Obama’s Ratings Remain High (Political Wire)
Despite the theme that President Obama’s honeymoon may be over, Political Wire has learned that a new Pew Research poll will be out shortly that shows President Obama’s approval ratings remain high despite some policy concerns. In addition, as global threats rise, Obama gets generally good marks on foreign policy.

CREW POSTS DETAILS AND COPIES OF THE MISSING WHITE HOUSE EMAILS RELEASED BY ADMINISTRATION (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)
Nearly two years after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued the Bush White House for both its refusal to restore the millions of missing White House emails and its failure to put in place an effective electronic record keeping system, the White House has finally released documents that support CREW’s allegations.

NSA analyst ‘improperly accessed’ Bill Clinton’s e-mail through domestic surveillance program. (Think Progress)
The New York Times reports today that members of Congress are increasingly concerned about the extent of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, particularly the overcollection of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans. An anonymous former intelligence analyst tells reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau that during much of the Bush years, the NSA “tolerated significant collection and examination of domestic e-mail messages without warrants.” Reportedly, one of the accessed domestic e-mail accounts belonged to former President Bill Clinton:

Six Democrats join GOP in overturning Obama administration’s efforts to cut F-22 funding. (Think Progress)
Last April, Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended capping production of the F-22 Raptor at 187 planes. Gates said the move was part of a series of changes in defense spending that he called “no-brainers.” (The F-22 has never seen action in either
Iraq or Afghanistan.) [Tuesday], the House Armed Services Committee “threw a wrench in the Obama administration’s plans to end” the F-22 program, voting 31-30 on a measure marking up the Defense Department spending bill that would “add $369 million in extra funding to keep production of the Air Force’s most advanced jet alive.” Six Democrats … joined 25 Republicans in voting for the amendment.

Lieberman Bounces Back (Political Wire)
“Seven months after nearly becoming politically irrelevant, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is working closely with a president he actively campaigned against and is playing a leading role in moving major pieces of legislation through the upper chamber,” The Hill reports. In the wake of Sen. John McCain’s loss in the presidential election, “many political analysts said Lieberman was done. Defying the pundits yet again, Lieberman survived a major effort to take away his Homeland Security Committee chairmanship. And his political stock has spiked.”
Joe Lieberman was Obama’s mentor in the Senate. Obama ASKED that the neocon Lieberman be his guide.

Senatorial Affair Revealed Thanks to Housing Crisis (by Pareene at Gawker)
Why did Republican Senator John Ensign’s sexual dalliance with a married former staffer get revealed now? Because of subprime mortgages and the Nevada housing crisis! Ensign’s affair was with Cynthia Hampton, his reelection campaign treasurer. Hampton’s husband was an administrative assistant [to Ensign], which is awkward. Even more awkward: the Hamptons are broke, and maybe defaulting on their shitty mortgage. “…A review of public records shows that the
Hamptons in 2006 took out a $1.2 million mortgage on their Las Vegas home, at an interest rate of 8 percent.”
I don’t see the connection.

Ensign Doubled Salary of Mistress (Political Wire)
“The one-time mistress and campaign treasurer of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) saw her salary double during the time of the affair,” the Las Vegas Sun reports. In addition, the woman’s 19-year-old son was paid $5,400 by a political operation controlled by Ensign.

Ensign quits Senate GOP leadership post (AP)
Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada has stepped down from his leadership post one day after admitting he carried on a marital affair with a woman who was on his campaign staff. Ensign conveyed his decision in a phone call with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who said he had accepted the resignation. Ensign was chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking spot in the leadership.
Shouldn’t he resign his seat, too? That’s what he demanded of Clinton—but not of Vitter.

Louisiana Democrats Use Ensign Affair To Go After Vitter (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Citing Sen. John Ensign’s resignation from his GOP leadership position after copping to an extramarital affair, Democrats are now calling on David Vitter — another Republican with past marital misconduct — to drop his own post within the party. Presented with the right news hook, the Louisiana Democratic Party put out a press statement on Wednesday afternoon, urging its home state Senator to drop his title as Deputy Whip of the Senate GOP… The press release is the furthest that any Democratic politician or institution has gone in trying to reap political advantage from Ensign’s marital difficulties. In the day since the news broke, fellow Nevadan, Majority Leader Harry Reid, has said that the matter is private

The Deal with God (Political Wire)
“The Republican Party didn’t make a deal with the devil,” the 
Las Vegas Sun observes in the wake of Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) admitted affair.  “It made a deal with God, or at least people who said they were God’s representatives — a certain class of very political and ideological preachers… The deal, engineered by Republican operatives such as Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, went like this: Be against gays and abortion and for prayer in the schools, and in return, those preachers would proclaim the GOP the party of God and deliver millions of suburban and rural voters — enough to win elections for three decades.”

“But the deal carried a risk: Any behavior by Republican officeholders or public figures that seemed at odds with a certain kind of Old Testament morality — a tryst in an airport bathroom, a painkiller addiction, a sexual harassment lawsuit — and voters might feel betrayed and manipulated. And the deal would collapse.”
Nonsense. When it’s a Republican who’s caught fooling around, the right wing bullies the media into leaving it alone. When it’s a Democrat, the right wing bullies get weeks and weeks of mileage on how immoral Democrats are.

Republican Senator Seeks Details on Possible First Lady Involvement in IG Firing (Fox News)
A top Republican senator is asking whether First Lady Michelle Obama’s office played any role in last week’s firing of former service program Inspector General Gerald Walpin. The concern, one of several surrounding Walpin’s sudden dismissal, stems from the timing of a staff switch in the first lady’s office. Just days before Walpin got the boot, the White House announced Michelle Obama’s chief of staff would be appointed senior adviser to the agency Walpin was responsible for monitoring. Michelle Obama said at the time she and her outgoing staffer, Jackie Norris, would work closely going forward. With accusations now flying that the Walpin firing was politically motivated, the personnel change only adds to the list of questions Republicans have for the president.
Yes, I know it’s Fox News. Is this their attempt to create a ruckus similar to Travelgate? I don’t know, but what I do know is that the steady drip, drip, drip of manufactured scandals on the foreheads of Americans during the 90s is a big part of what made it possible for George Bush to be given the presidency in 2000. And for Hillary Clinton to be mercilessly trashed by so-called progressive blogs in 2008.

Madigan Urged to Consider Senate Bid (Political Wire)
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) “is under pressure from top Democrats to abandon her long-expected campaign for governor and instead seek President Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat next year, a switch she’s seriously considering,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Madigan’s political director said she will probably decide “within four to six weeks” whether to run for governor, Senate, or a third term as attorney general.

[Madigan] Met With Obama on Senate Run (Political Wire)
Lynn Sweet reports that Illinois Attorney General List Madigan (D) “is getting more serious” about making a U.S. Senate bid “but has a few conditions. If Madigan is to get in the Senate race, she wants an endorsement from Obama when she announces and she wants the Democratic primary field to be cleared of rivals.” One sign Obama might be open to her conditions: The AP reports Madigan met with the president last week at the White House. Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) “is waiting to see what Madigan does before deciding to run for the Senate, governor or stay put. If Madigan runs for Senate, Kirk, if he seeks higher office, would consider governor. If Madigan goes for governor, the Senate race would look better.”

Bush Ends His Silence (Political Wire)
Apparently six months of staying quiet was long enough for former President Bush. The Washington Times notes that Bush fired a few shots at the Obama administration yesterday during a
Pennsylvania appearance. “Repeatedly in his hourlong speech and question-and-answer session, Mr. Bush said he would not directly criticize the new president… Several times, however, he took direct aim at Obama policies as he defended his own during eight years in office.”

Former SC official apologizes for racist remark aimed at Michelle Obama (McClatchy)
Former state election director Rusty DePass issued an apology Wednesday for his comments last week linking an escaped gorilla with the ancestors of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Schwarzenegger won’t agree to still more tax increases (McClatchy)
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told Democratic legislative leaders Wednesday that he will not sign the budget plan adopted by a joint legislative committee.

PolitiFact to take a closer look at TV/radio pundits’ claims (St. Petersburg Times via Poynter Online)
The St. Pete Times’ PolitiFact invites TV viewers and radio listeners to submit claims they’d like to see vetted. “It’s hard to know how well this may be received by fans, who seem mostly to watch pundits telling them what they want to hear,” writes Eric Deggans. “But I admire PolitiFact for trying to bring a little sense and accountability to an increasingly hysterical arena.”
Great, now we need scorecards for those same pundits. Americans need to know if Rush Limbaugh, for example, lies 99.9% of the time.

Current TV show aims to tell stories ignored by MSM
Stories on Current TV’s Vanguard program have highlighted kidnappings in oil-rich Nigeria, the Mexican drug war, the risks taken by Somali refugees and lessons that can be learned from this recession. Jailed journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling work for the show.

Garber calls Stewart’s attack on CNN “a rare misstep”
By criticizing CNN for using social networking sites to report what’s going on in Iran, Jon Stewart “turned himself into a caricature: he fashioned himself as the crotchety Luddite who opposes new media platforms not on their merits, but because they’re new,” says Megan Garber. Stewart’s attack on CNN was “a rare misstep for The Daily Show’s normally trenchant media criticism,” she adds.
I’m sure that Jon Stewart won’t mind in the least being called a caricature. Or a character. Or even a fake newsman, which is what he calls himself.

Kurtz explains why he didn’t mention his CNN job when defending the network
Eric Alterman recently scolded Howard Kurtz for not mentioning, while defending CNN, that he collects a paycheck from network. “That was an oversight and won’t be repeated,” Kurtz tells Andrew Alexander. “In the online chats, we often discuss my CNN role week after week, as readers ask about, and sometimes criticize, my program. So my impression is that the connection is well known.”

Obama: ‘I’ve got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration.’ (Think Progress)
During an interview with President Obama that aired on CNBC [Tuesday], chief Washington correspondent John Harwood said, “When you and I spoke in January, you said — I observed that you hadn’t gotten much bad press. You said it’s coming.” Harwood added that since then, Obama still hasn’t received much critical press and wondered if his administration isn’t being “sufficiently held accountable.” Obama, however, disagreed: “…It’s very hard for me to swallow that one. First of all, I’ve got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration.”
Click through to watch the video.

Fox Newser Arrested in Central Park Cyclist Incident (John Cook at Gawker)
Don Broderick, the Fox News Channel news writer accused of hitting a cyclist in Central Park earlier this month, dragging him four blocks, and fleeing the scene, has been arrested, according to an NYPD spokeswoman.

Next Time I’ll Rip Your F—ing Head Off’ and Other Charming Stories of Fox News’ Road Rager (by John Cook at Gawker)
We keep hearing more from people who once worked with Fox News writer Don Broderick. Even before he was accused of dragging a cyclist through
Central Park, former colleagues tell us, co-workers were afraid to be around him… “He’s a creep and a bully,” says one of three former Fox Newsers who spoke to Gawker. “He really is crazy. People are frightened to turn their backs to him. The fact that he still works there is mind-boggling.” Neither Broderick nor Fox News returned calls for comment.

Boortz dubs Obama “Hugo Obama or Barack Chavez” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Limbaugh declares “Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton … make millions of dollars trading off of imagined racism” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

WND’s Porter: If we don’t stop Obama “dictatorship … we’ll lose our lives” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)
In her June 16 WorldNetDaily.com column, radio host Janet Porter writes that the Obama “dictatorship must be stopped. And it must be stopped now. If we don’t, we’ll lose more than our strongest ally in the
Middle East and the free market – we’ll lose our lives.” 

Where are the conservative investigative journalism outlets?
Daniel Glover says it’s easy to take a potshot at the AP for liberal bias when it inks a deal to distribute the investigative reporting of what he calls left-leaning nonprofits. But, he points out, it’s hard to find conservative investigative journalism being produced on a consistent basis. “There are bright spots,” though, he says.
Huh? They’ve got stink tanks out the wazoo and a ton of oppo research that ALWAYS gets into the mainstream media.

Media Matters for America headlines

ABC Obama health care special brings out Fox News’ hypocrisy

Media revive Clinton-era smear, dub White House health care plan “ObamaCare”

Media trumpet Walpin claims without noting acting U.S. attorney’s allegations

Conservative media still promoting Obama birth certificate conspiracy theories

NY Times, John Fund omit McCaskill’s statement supporting White House removal of Walpin

Morris falsely claimed Obama favors “rationing,” eliminating certain medical procedures

NY Times selectively cited own poll results on Obama’s economic policies

Fox chyron asserted as fact that Walpin was “fired for protecting taxpayers”

After exclusive access, softball interviews during Bush admin, Fox News blasts ABC for White House exclusive

Kudlow let McCaughey claim health care bill “pushes Americans into low-budget plans”

In Iran, Fewer Journalists Each Day
The visas for many of the foreign journalists in Iran are expiring this week, depriving the world of independent sources of information about the violent protests that erupted after the disputed presidential election.

NPR editor: Iran wants journalists out so they can crack down
Many of the journalists who went to Tehran to cover last Friday’s election are there on one-week visas, and the country is rejecting requests for extensions, report Brian Stelter and Richard Perez-Pena. The visa for NPR’s correspondent in Tehran expires today, says NPR senior foreign editor Loren Jenkins. “I think they want everyone out of there so they can crack down.”

Dan Rather: Tehran, Twitter, and Tiananmen
Massive protests, government crackdown, and media blackout –
Tehran today sounds like Tiananmen Square two decades ago. But Dan Rather, who covered the China massacre, says the shift in the media landscape over the last two decades means there’s no comparison.

The Media Can Profit from Twitter’s Big Week (by Larry Kramer at The Daily Beast)
Raw, unfiltered, and without any known standards to follow, news on Twitter from nonprofessional journalists can be inaccurate and even dangerous. But even knowing that, the public is quickly gravitating toward interactive social networks and devices like Twitter.

“There’s a potential dark side to the Twitter revolution”
Jack Shafer wonders how long before the secret police start sending out organizational tweets — “We’re massing at 7 p.m. at the Hall of the People for a march to the Hall of Justice!” — and bust everybody who shows up?

Civic-Minded Chinese Find a Voice Online
Furor over a stabbing case has demonstrated the Internet’s potential as a catalyst for social change.

UK Gets Broadband Guarantee, P2P Clampdown In Big Govt Reforms (Paid Content)
The UK is getting new anti-piracy measures, a nationwide household broadband guarantee and reforms for its failing commercial public-service broadcasters in Digital Britain, a long-awaited and wide-ranging grand government policy paper. Amongst the interventions, unused cash from a digital TV switchover fund will encourage telcos to give 2Mbps to rural areas, while persistent illegal downloaders will get warnings and may have their internet connection throttled. But the BBC is unhappy that some of its funds will be used to fund the infrastructure roll-out and new multi-media news consortia. 

In Germany, Google Will Erase Street View Data on Request (Mashable)
AP writes: “Google had agreed to erase the raw footage of faces, house numbers, license plates and individuals in Germany who have told authorities they do not want their information used in the service.” This is important from the aspect of privacy. If the image is only blurred, and Google still keeps the unblurred imagery internally, it’s possible for Google to give the imagery to the court if ordered… This is a small victory for groups and individuals who are concerned over Street View invading their privacy, since courts in most other countries have been satisfied with Google’s policy of merely blurring the imagery upon request.

RadarOnline slapped with labor citations regarding octuplet watch
California’s top labor official Tuesday slapped four citations on the celebrity gossip website that has been chronicling the life of octuplets mom Nadya Suleman and her 14 children… [O]n Tuesday, the office of the state labor commissioner issued four citations against RadarOnline, alleging that it had not obtained an entertainment permit, filmed 2-month-old Noah and Isaiah Suleman outside hours approved by the state labor code, and did not have a studio teacher on site to ensure the infants’ health and safety… RadarOnline officials had no comment but said on their website: “Like any other news-gathering organization, Radar-Online.com is not required to obtain permits nor is it restricted to certain hours in its news-gathering operations.”

Vegas newspaper to comply with narrowed subpoena
A Nevada newspaper reported Wednesday it will comply with a narrowed federal grand jury subpoena seeking information about the identity of two people who posted Web site comments about a criminal tax trial. The Las Vegas Review-Journal said the U.S. attorney’s office in Las Vegas reduced its demand for information to “two comments that might be construed as threatening to jurors or prosecutors.”

Web beats TV, radio as preferred news source
The Internet is by far the most popular source of information and the preferred choice for news ahead of television, newspapers and radio, according to a new poll.

There’s too much negativism about journalism, says EveryBlock co-founder
“Frankly, I think it’s going to be great,” Daniel X. O’Neil said at last weekend’s Chicago Media Future Conference. “I swear to God we’ll look back ten years from now and we’ll all be making an insane amount of money and we’re going to look at each other and we’re going to say, ‘Hey, you were there that day! Remember, we all thought we were screwed?’ No, we’re not. Everything’s great.”

Why didn’t Temple do at the Rocky what he now says newspapers should do?
That’s what some people are asking, and John Temple admits it’s a good question. “Think of what I’m writing as lessons from being in the trenches for many years, wishing I could have done things differently,” says the former Rocky Mountain News editor and publisher. “I’m not pretending I have the answers. I am saying what I would try to do if I were in a situation where all forces could align.”

Media Sector Mergers Seen Few and Far Between
Takeovers in the media sector are likely to be few and far between until at least next year, especially given the high gearing and shaky cashflows of many firms in the industry, bankers and financiers said on Wednesday.

Meet The People The Knight Foundation Thinks Can Save Journalism (Paid Content)
One wants to build a database for public records. Another plans to launch street-corner newscasts. A third wants to develop a tool to turn numbers into something more visually exciting than charts. They are among the projects getting parts of the $5.1 million that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is disbursing to push the envelope on community reporting. It’s the third year of the foundation’s five-year, $25 million Knight News Challenge, an international contest to fund digital news projects.
Click through for more winners.

NY Times/ProPublica Team Wins $719,000 Knight News Challenge Grant
A project to build and maintain a crowdsourced database of primary source material for use by investigative reporters was awarded a Knight News Challenge grant of $719,000 Tuesday, pairing old media stalwart The New York Times and non-profit news upstart ProPublica.

Las Vegas Sun parent creates a “hip and fun” TV news show
“If ‘The Daily Show,’ the Travel Channel, the Food Network and E! were to try to do a daily local show in Las Vegas, this is what it might look like,” Greenspun Interactive editor Rob Curley says of 702.tv. “We’ll … tell you what the governor’s latest vetoes are in Carson City, doing it in a way that puts a smile on your face or makes you chuckle a little.”

Claim: Private equity firm didn’t buy Blethen Maine Newspapers for the real estate
“We bought it for the newspapers, we intend to operate the newspapers, and the investment thesis is that the upside will come from the newspaper assets,” says Peter S. Brodsky of HM Capital Partners. “However, the real estate aspect of the transaction helped us get comfortable with the downside. If all doesn’t go well, we felt there was some value to the real estate – it helped us secure financing, as banks certainly were interested in learning what downside was.”

Boston Globe Bidder Will Work With Union
Stephen Pagliuca, a managing partner at Bain Capital private equity firm and an owner of the Boston Celtics basketball team, has emerged as a potential buyer for the Boston Globe and is said to be willing to discuss working with union leaders.

What happens to Massachusetts State House coverage if the Globe is sold or closed?
Adam Reilly writes: “Answers to these questions depend, to a large extent, on whether you see the current State House press corps as a) diminished but still robust, or b) as a fatally compromised shadow of its former self. Take the latter tack, as plenty of political veterans do, and it’s hard to be optimistic about how State House journalism might weather a reduced Globe presence on the Hill.”

Possible Snag in Tribune Sale of Cubs
Nearly six months after Tom Ricketts, a billionaire corporate bond investor and member of the founding family of TD Ameritrade, submitted the winning bid to buy the Chicago Cubs from Sam Zell’s Tribune Company for $950 million, key parts of the deal remain open.

News Corp. Sells Weekly Standard (Paid Content)
Philip Anschutz’s Clarity Media Group is buying the conservative opinion magazine The Weekly Standard from News Corp., the LATimes reported. Terms were not disclosed. The magazine was started in 1995 and edited by Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes. While the project was close to News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch’s heart, the fact that The Weekly Standard had a circ of only 83,000, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, won’t mean that Murdoch will lose any of his influence with political decision-makers. After all, as owner of the Wall St. Journal, Murdoch has a much wider audience of influencers through the paper’s editorial pages than even more popular political magazines.

USA Today Publisher Says He Regrets Not Charging for Paper’s iPhone App (by Will Sullivan at Poynter Online)
Once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s hard to put it back in. That’s a lesson newspaper publishers have learned when it comes to the Web and one that USA Today Publisher David Hunke recently addressed in regard to mobile news. The Associated Press reported: “In fact, Hunke said he regrets that USA Today didn’t start by charging for the newspaper’s iPhone application, which is free to download. ‘I’m not sure we realized what we had,’ he said. ‘I think that’s a value readers will be willing to pay for.’”

Publication of Holden Caulfield Novel Delayed
A federal district judge in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday that Holden Caulfield, the querulous, precocious protagonist of J. D. Salinger’s most famous work, “The Catcher in the Rye,” will exist at least a little longer solely in a state of permanent adolescence, unburdened by the cares and recriminations of age. The judge, Deborah A. Batts, said a new book that contains a 76-year-old version of Caulfield cannot be published in the
United States for 10 days while she weighs a copyright infringement case filed by lawyers for Mr. Salinger. The lawyers contend that the new book, published in Britain, was too derivative and that Mr. Salinger’s most well-known character was protected by copyright.

Time is advised to spruce up its Kindle edition
“Why not hire a graphic designer, a programmer and an editor, give them a small budget, and put out the best damn Kindle newsweekly you can?” writes Paul Smalera. “Why not deliver the magazine to users not when the issue hits newsstands, but when it hits the printing press? For that matter, why not include a midweek update with the arts and culture essays that have already closed for the week, and a few Kindle only stories or sidebars? Call it Time Ahead.”

New Digital Distribution Network for Men’s Health?
Men’s Health has introduced an iPhone application that uses new software capabilities to sell additional content directly through the app itself. The approach, which Apple says appears to be a first for magazines and even media companies, could open up a new digital distribution channel.

PlanetOut, Here Networks Merge
Here Networks on Wednesday completed a merger with the struggling PlanetOut to create a new company called Here Media. Here targets the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender population through the Advocate and other magazine titles as well as through movies via Here Studios and Here Films.

“Planet Money” considers different revenue models
“One of many possibilities raised has been the possibility, like many not-for-profits, of having a for-profit fundraising arm,” says Adam Davidson, one of the “Planet Money” host/producers. But, he adds, “I can say with 100-percent assurance that our core goal is to be a not-for-profit, mission-driven company.”

Special effects outsourcing grows in India
Outsourcing to
India, long dominated by software engineering and back-office work, is expanding in new terrain: special effects for movies.

Johnny Depp and Universal Want You to Rob a Bank #bankraids (Mashable)
We’ve now seen a plethora of brands and businesses try creative social media marketing campaigns to get the word out about their products or promotions… Now the movie business is hopping on the social media marketing train and leveraging the viral elements of hit Twitter games like Spymaster. Universal Pictures has just launched Bank Raids, an online game and microsite that marries the 1930’s Chicago gang milieu with Facebook and Twitter to promote the upcoming movie Public Enemies.

Interview: Part II: Jeff Zucker: Live Streaming Top Events Devalues Olympics (Paid Content)
In the two years since Jeff Zucker became president and CEO of NBC Universal (NYSE: GE), he’s shifted the digital strategy more than once; played an important role in creating the joint venture dubbed “ClownCo” by doubters and transforming it into Hulu; approved putting thousands of Olympic hours on broadband; and stared down Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) over iTunes pricing. During the first part of his interview with paidContent, Zucker said NBCU will make more than $1 billion from its combined digital efforts. In this second installment of edited excerpts, Zucker goes into more detail about some of those efforts including Hulu’s future, why we won’t see live streaming of primetime Olympics events, international plans, his dislike of premiering shows online and more.

Weather Channel Plans Flurry of New Programs
The Weather Channel is trying to draw an audience in primetime, one of its lowest-rated time periods, with a slate of original shows. It is also banking on star power — in the form of widely recognized weatherman Al Roker — to boost ratings in the morning.

N.J. Housewives Are Ratings Gold for Bravo
The Real Housewives of New Jersey (3.5 million viewers, 1.9 adults 18-49 rating) was the highest-rated season finale for the network’s entire Housewives franchise to date. Housewiveswas higher rated than any show on cable or broadcast Tuesday night.
Vapidity, apparently, sells.

Worst Driver Set for Travel Channel
The Travel Channel has picked up reality competition show called The Streets of America: The Search for America’s Worst Driver. Based on an international format, the show puts bad drivers through a series of challenges to find the worst of the bunch.

Ad Rate Stalemate Freezes Usually Hot TV Network Sales Time
Declining audiences, an extremely fragile economy, and bankruptcy filings by cash-strapped U.S. automakers — traditionally among the biggest TV advertisers — have made it more difficult for network advertising executives this spring to sell commercial time.

NBC Taps Microsoft For Ad-Sales System
General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal will use technology from Microsoft Corp. to sell commercial time on its broadcast and cable-TV networks in a process similar to the sale of online advertising. The change marks the latest development in a broader effort to refine the purchase of TV ad time.

EA COO John Pleasants: ‘Going Digital’ Is Key To Returning To Profitability (Paid Content)
There was a time when Electronic Arts was the game-company stock to own—with the most cutting-edge games and tons of cash on the books. But over the past few years, it has lost much of that luster. EA posted a $120 million loss for the most recent quarter—its fourth consecutive quarter in the red—and has laid off about 1,100 employees in the process.

While some analysts argue that now more than ever EA needs to focus on what it does best—retail sales—the company is instead testing out a bunch of new and unproven distribution channels (like digital downloads) and business models (like micro-transactions). In an interview with paidContent, COO John Pleasants says EA’s emerging digital strategy, which includes social gaming, virtual goods and even distributing games via OnLive, will get the company back in the black. He offered some hard numbers on micro-transactions, pre-paid game cards and insight into upcoming social-gaming acquisitions, as proof of why EA’s plan to generate at least $500 million in digital direct-to-consumer revenue this year isn’t just wishful thinking:

Perez Hilton Toning Down To Cash In
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton plans to launch a kinder, gentler, and more advertiser-friendly new site in the next couple of months. That’s the hot gossip from Henry Copeland, founder and CEO of BlogAds.com, which handles operations and ad sales for the wildly popular site PerezHilton.com.

Huffington Post: Acquisition Bait, Now More Than Ever (by Ryan Tate at Gawker)
It’s official: Betsy Morgan says she was indeed pushed out as the ineffectual CEO of the Huffington Post. But to what end? The new regime is downplaying profitability in favor of revenue growth — the ideal ramp for a sale. HuffPo co-founder Ken Lerer tells the New York Observer that the new CEO, Eric Hippeau of HuffPo investor Softbank, “thinks this isn’t the time to be profitable-it’s the time to invest.”… Hippeau tells the Observer he’s “not here to fix” the publication, “I’m here to grow it… we’ll have deep partnerships with major players, which goes beyond content-sharing.” Maybe one of these “deep partnerships” will take the problem of making money as an independent business off HuffPo’s plate for good.

Bing Keeps Growing: Has Microsoft Finally Cracked Search? (Mashable)
In its second week since launch, Microsoft’s new Bing search engine has continued its steady growth, according to comScore. Bing is up about 3 percentage points in both average daily penetration among US searchers and their total share of search results pages (which indicates the percentage of all actual searches, though is not an exact measure), compared to the week prior to launch. Bing now has 16.7% searcher penetration and a 12.1% share of search results pages among all US workday searches. Those numbers are also both up compared to its first week in the wild.

Google’s paying attention:
Google to Bing: We’re a Decision Engine Too!
(Mashable)
If you visit[ed] the Google homepage [Wednesday], you will find, beyond the nifty Firebird ballet logo, a link that says “Discovering the web: Explore the world of Google search.” The resulting page, “Explore Google Search,” explains an array of Google’s blended search capabilities. It’s almost certainly a reminder by Google that it is also a “decision engine” with features to match. The “Explore Google Search” page itself is useful for novices and experts alike. It succinctly explains, with accompanying video, 16 different Google search features.

Add Context to Stories with Google Experimental Search (by Amy Gahran at Poynter Online)
When you want information, often the context of that information is as important as the content. That’s why lately I’ve been playing with Google’s Experimental Search options… For instance, last night a journalism student asked me when I’d first heard the term “entrepreneurial journalism.” I honestly couldn’t recall, but her question made me curious. So I activated the “alternate views for search results” experimental search, which includes a time line view option. I searched for the phrase “entrepreneurial journalism” and got [a] time line chart showing when that term started getting really popular online. (It appears to have been around the mid to late 1990s.)

Keeping a True Identity Becomes a Battle Online
Some well-known names find they have to work hard at keeping squatters from claiming similar-sounding Web addresses.

What Display Meltdown? Big Brands Actually Upped Their Spending In Q1 (Paid Content)
Spending forecasts for display ads have been particularly grim—but new ad sales data from Nielsen actually shows that some of the biggest brands actually spent 27 percent more on display ads in Q109 vs. Q108. And one of their primary spending targets was YouTube, as display ad impression volume on the site jumped by nearly 580 percent year-over-year.

Survey: Elderly, poor narrow broadband service gap
Some groups that have lagged in signing up for high-speed Internet service, like the elderly, the poor and rural residents, have started to gain on those who have had a head start, according to a new survey. Those conclusions come as the government is set to decide how to spend $7.2 billion in stimulus money on expanding the availability of broadband. Broadband usage among those 65 or older grew from 19 percent in May 2008 to 30 percent this April, the Pew Internet & American Life Project said Wednesday.

Apple Fills in Some Gaps With Latest iPhone
Succumbing to consumer demand, Apple will finally add basic features like voice dialing and an improved camera.

AT&T relents on iPhone pricing for upgraders 
AT&T Inc. will allow some current iPhone owners to upgrade to a new model at the same price as new buyers when it is released Friday. Wednesday’s announcement comes after AT&T took some criticism from iPhone owners who felt that its prices were unfair. 

iPhone 3.0 excels at Wi-Fi hotspots
Thanks to improvements in the iPhone OS 3.0 software update released Wednesday, connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot with your iPhone or iPod touch should become almost as easy as roaming on the cellular network.

Tennis ace Sharapova unveils blinking phone dress
Former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova presented a prototype dress to reporters that is designed to light up when the wearer’s mobile telephone rings.

Doh! Homer Simpson gives driving directions
“Woo hoo! You have reached your destination!” Homer Simpson, star character of
U.S. cartoon show “The Simpsons,” is ready to take you where you want to go.

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Media & Politics

Permanent link to MTA daily media news

Obama Extends Benefits To Gay Federal Employees (by The Cajun Boy at Gawker)
The AP [reported Tuesday] that the Obama administration plans to announce [Wednesday] that they’re extending the same benefits available to spouses of straight employees to the spouses of gay and lesbian federal employees… Interestingly, the move comes the day after two prominent gay men, activist David Mixner and blogger Andy Towle, announced that they would boycott an upcoming DNC fundraiser out of concern that the Obama White House was supporting policies detrimental to the gay rights cause. Coincidence?
And where did the idea come from? From Hillary, of course.

Obama OKs Some Benefits for Gay Federal Workers’ Partners (Truthdig)
It would take new legislation to extend full health coverage to the same-sex partners of federal employees, but President Obama, via presidential memorandum, will grant some benefits to them. The administration is already on thin ice with gay activists, some of whom are angry about a Justice Department brief defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, the very law that prevents the government from recognizing the rights of gay couples.

Daniel Politi is not impressed:
Obama Throws Gays a Crumb
(by Daniel Politi, Slate)
Due to this increasing disappointment in Obama’s administration, gay rights supporters couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for the news. An adviser to the
Clinton administration on gay issues tells the NYT that “more important now is what he says tomorrow about the future for gay people during his presidency.”

Discussing Obama and DOMA, Limbaugh litters monologue with anti-LGBT innuendo (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Reid Clarifies His Position On DADT: ‘We Would Welcome A Legislative Proposal From The White House’ (Think Progress)
During a press conference [Monday], Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) attracted attention when a reporter asked him whether the Senate will be pushing for a bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT): “…‘My hope is that it can be done administratively.’” The Obama administration has repeatedly resisted calls to suspend DADT by executive order. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs last month said that President Obama is looking for a “durable legislative solution,” and Obama himself has written that repeal of the policy “needs Congressional action.” Many LGBT bloggers immediately criticized Reid’s comments, saying that Obama and Congress were “playing hot potato over DADT.”

[Tuesday] in a statement to ThinkProgress, Reid’s office clarified the senator’s remarks, saying that what he is looking for is a “legislative proposal” from the White House. Additionally, while the Senate does not currently have a bill introduced, “a number” of senators are working on one.

…and your flag lapel pin, too! (by Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors)
When the whisperers and the naysayers try to appease the LGBTQ community that there is too much going on with two wars, the Great Recession, Healthcare reform, international tensions, and so forth, they need to be called on their bullshit… Right now, this very moment, the Dims have control of the White House, and the Congress, and enough of the Senate that they can make real change. By the midterm elections, they might not have it; hell they probably won’t have it if history is any guide. There is literally no better time than the present to make real progress. It will not happen on its own, the only thing that is missing is the political willpower and leadership…

What they are not willing to say (or put in writing) is that LGBTQ rights are not priorities. But let’s be honest for a moment: they are really saying that Human Rights are not a priority. I do not accept that, and I don’t think anyone else should either.

Some Media Reports Mischaracterize CBO Estimate of Senate “HELP” Health Reform Bill (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
The news media are widely reporting that, according to a partial and preliminary Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, health reform legislation that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) is developing would cut the number of uninsured by only 16 million people while costing $1 trillion over ten years. That conclusion, however, is incorrect… In essence, the CBO estimate covers only a part of the emerging HELP bill, and its findings about cost and coverage may differ substantially from what CBO finds when it analyzes the full legislation that the Committee issues. Observers would be well-advised to await such analysis before drawing conclusions about the legislation.

Health Care Reform Arithmetic for the Numerically Challenged (by Dean Baker)
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came out with preliminary projections of the impact of Senator Kennedy’s health reform bill. CBO had a projected cost of $1 trillion, with an addition 16 million people getting insured over this period. Republicans were quick to put the cost at $62,500 for each additional insured person. This is a good joke, but has no place in serious policy discussions. The relevant question is the cost per year ($6,250). If the projections were done over 20 years, then the cost would be $125,000 per insured person using the Republican methodology.

GOP Pushed For Incomplete Health Care Study, Then Politicized It: Hill Dems (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
On Monday afternoon, critics of a major health care overhaul seized on a report from the Congressional Budget Office showing that a Democratic reform bill could cost $1 trillion over ten years despite adding only 17 million Americans to the ranks of the insured. But the results are incomplete, and they know it. The CBO findings made for a traditional attack based around fears that the government would spend larges swaths of taxpayer money with minimum systematic change… The CBO’s findings, however, are for an incomplete piece of legislation, making the cost-per-coverage estimates much worse than they will ultimately be. Republicans on the committee knew this, according to Democrats. But they pushed for the bill to be studied by the CBO now. And when poor results came back, they ran with them.
I swear, it’s like Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football.

And who kicked the empty air?
After CBO Analysis, White House Distances Self From Kennedy Bill (by Jake Tapper at Political Punch, ABC News)
“This is not the Administration’s bill,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement following the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s health care reform legislation, “and it’s not even the final Senate Committee bill.”… Gibbs’ reaction was the second from the White House in a matter of a few hours… Why the pushback? Because the CBO reported in a letter to Kennedy that his bill will cost $1 trillion over 10 years, adding only a net increase of 16 million Americans to the ranks of the insured — leaving tens of millions uninsured (depending on how many Americans you think are uninsured).

Or is it even worse?
Sebelius says Obama is working to perm[ane]ntly block single payer
(by DCblogger at Corrente)
Health Justice[:] “Today, on NPR, Secretary Sebelius said that single payer is not only ‘off the table’ but that the President is considering measures to make sure it does not happen now or ever.” More than ever it is crucial that Congress pass no plan that prevents states from enacting their own single payer systems.
Joe Cannon says, “Obama has the balls to ask Americans to donate to his campaign for ‘real health care reform in 2009.’ I’m not making this up!

ObamaCare: A Non-Existent Health Plan That Begins with Cuts (by Glen Ford at the Black Agenda Report)
There is no Obama healthcare plan, “just mouthfuls of generalized rhetoric that changes with the moment, as Obama constantly woos the insurance, drug and hospital corporations.” However, Obama’s proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will take on lives of their own. That’s what Republicans have “been clamoring for for generations,” and Obama offered it to them, upfront. “In his rush to mollify the private healthcare profiteers, Obama has given away the pubic store.”

ZENO’S UNIVERSAL COVERAGE: (by Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler)
We’re already spending twice as much as countries which already have universal coverage—and PW [a letter writer to the New York Times] is willing to pay more to get what they already have! The oddness of this framework would occur to almost anyone in a different context. To wit: You buy a car for $40,000. Your neighbor buys a car for half that amount–and his car is better! Someone then says your car can be almost as good as his–if you spend six thousand more. Almost anyone would see the oddness of that situation. And yet, that’s the situation which obtains with our health care system. But so what! PW is eager to spend [more]. In all likelihood, he doesn’t know … that we’re already spending twice as much as the countries which have what we want.

Other countries already have what we seek–and they spend half as much as we do!… Your current car cost 40 grand. But in France, they have better cars–for 20. For sixty years, your big news orgs haven’t told you that fact.

Fox Nation wonders if “Obama nationalizing health care” will be “the last straw” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Health Care Rationing Rhetoric Overlooks Reality (by David Leonhardt, New York Times)
There are three main ways that the health care system already imposes rationing on us. The first … involves denying just about everything else. The rapid rise in medical costs has put many employers in a tough spot. They have had to pay much higher insurance premiums, which have increased their labor costs. To make up for these increases, many have given meager pay raises… So when middle-class families complain about being stretched thin, they’re really complaining about rationing. Our expensive, inefficient health care system is eating up money that could otherwise pay for a mortgage, a car, a vacation or college tuition.

The second kind of rationing involves the uninsured. The high cost of care means that some employers can’t afford to offer health insurance and still pay a competitive wage. Those high costs mean that individuals can’t buy insurance on their own…

The final form of rationing is … the failure to provide certain types of care, even to people with health insurance… The comparative-effectiveness research favored by the former Senate majority leaders and the White House has inspired opposition from some doctors, members of Congress and patient groups. Certainly, the critics are right to demand that the research be done carefully. It should examine different forms of a disease and, ideally, various subpopulations who have the disease. Just as important, scientists — not political appointees or Congress — should be in charge of the research. But flat-out opposition to comparative effectiveness is, in the end, opposition to making good choices.

“Health Care Rationing Rhetoric” (by Mark Thoma at Economist’s View)
I believe that when it comes to health care, equity is the dominant principle. Everyone should have the chance to go to a beach, or the redwoods, or the Grand Canyon if they want to, these places shouldn’t be locked up as private property and completely inaccessible to those without the means to buy their way in. Everyone should have access to education as well, and in the same way everyone should have the access to health care. Access to life-saving and life-improving technology and treatments should not depend upon having sufficient household income. But if we don’t use the price mechanism to allocate health care resources, what mechanism do we use?… [I]t’s a question we’ll have to find a way to answer:

Excluded Voices (by Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review)
Ask any pol or business exec how to lower the cost of medical care, and most will reply “preventive care.” Average Americans apparently agree. A new poll by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health found that more than three quarters of Americans believe funding for preventive care should increase. The reasoning goes like this: if you catch illness early, it saves treatment costs in the long run. What can be more straightforward? Problem is, there’s oodles of evidence that prevention costs more than it saves.

Few in the media have cast a skeptical eye on preventive care as a magic wand that will make expensive medical care disappear. More should. To help those wanting to give audiences the complete story on preventive care, Campaign Desk talked to Rutgers research professor Louise Russell, whose work is well known in academic circles but less well known in the popular press.
Click through to read the interview.

Small business divided over requiring employer health care (McClatchy)
With 68 million workers, small businesses will have big clout in deciding the fate of President Barack Obama’s effort to overhaul the health care system. In 1994, the small-business lobby, led by the National Federation of Independent Business, helped kill the
Clinton administration’s plan, partly because it included an employer mandate. Since then, health costs have risen sharply. The proportion of small businesses that offer coverage also has fallen precipitously, to 38 percent last year from 61 percent in 1993, according to the National Small Business Association. The result: Among small businesses, there’s more support than there was in the past for government action of some kind.

Limbaugh on health care: “There is no crisis. … The crisis in health care here has been manufactured.” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Obama’s Latest Miniseries (by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post)
The screaming Drudge headline makes it sound like a major network had become a wholly owned subsidiary of the White House: “ABC TURNS PROGRAMMING OVER TO OBAMA.” The reality: Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer will be interviewing the president about health care next week… The Drudge item was based on a letter of complaint from the Republican National Committee, which said the programming could become a “glorified infomercial. . . . I find it outrageous that ABC would prohibit our party’s opposing thoughts and ideas from this national debate, which affects millions of ABC viewers,” chief of staff Ken McKay wrote.
Did the RNC complain when the networks gave George Bush as much time as he wanted to sell HIS policies?

Doocy dubs ABC the “All Barack Channel;” predicts health care forum will be “Valentine” to Obama’s “health care agenda” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

The question Pete Peterson never gets asked (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Morning Joe … hosted Pete Peterson, giving him an opportunity to plug his book and spread his doom and gloom about “entitlement reform.”… Nobody … asked Peterson about his opposition to health care reform in the early 1990s (“The issue is whether we can afford it. We can’t.”) Since then, health care costs have skyrocketed, taking Medicare costs with them. So the failure of health care reform in 1993/1994 not only resulted in tens of millions of Americans going without health care for the past 15 years, it also contributed to the soaring Medicare spending that Pete Peterson insists is a crisis. All of which suggests a second question somebody should probably ask Peterson: Why should we listen to you?

WSJ continues crusade against health care reform (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
The Wall Street Journal continues its assault on health care reform, warning of “total government control of the health markets.” Along the way, the Journal editorial hits the standard conservative media talking points on malpractice “reform.” The Wall Street Journal claims “trial lawyers and their stratospheric jury awards and settlements have led to major increases in the medical malpractice premiums, thus driving up the overall cost of U.S. health care.” But, as Media Matters has previously noted…: “…[M]alpractice costs amounted to an estimated $24 billion in 2002, but that figure represents less than 2 percent of overall health care spending. Thus, even a reduction of 25 percent to 30 percent in malpractice costs would lower health care costs by only about 0.4 percent to 0.5 percent, and the likely effect on health insurance premiums would be comparably small.” [Emphasis added.]

The Journal then claims that as a result of lawsuits, doctors “practice defensive medicine, ordering unnecessary tests to immunize themselves if they do end up in court. Economists disagree on the precise burden of this legal fear, but some argue that it exceeds $100 billion a year.” Again, Media Matters has noted that these concerns are overblown: “…As FactCheck.org has noted, claims that ‘defensive medicine’ drives up medical costs — a principal Bush administration argument for tort reform — have been dismissed as inconclusive by the General Accounting Office and the CBO. The CBO went further, declaring that there is ‘no evidence that restrictions on tort liability reduce medical spending.’” [Emphasis added.]

More flawed AMA reporting (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Here’s how Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly describes the AMA: “The AMA, with about 250,000 members, is the nation’s largest physician group.” Connolly doesn’t give readers any context for that number. She doesn’t tell readers that 250,000 is less than a third of the 800,000 or so practicing doctors in America.  Or that the AMA membership figures include medical students and retired doctors, who account for about half of AMA’s members.  Connolly doesn’t tell readers that the AMA gets at least 20 percent of its budget from drug companies.  Nor does she tell readers the AMA has long opposed meaningful health care reform, and even opposed the creation of Medicare.
Ceci Connolly was demoted for her awful reporting on the 2000 campaign, especially making up demeaning stories about Al Gore. As you can see, she hasn’t changed her ways.

Obama: ‘Given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations,’ U.S. shoudn’t ‘be seen as meddling’ in Iran’s elections. (Think Progress)
Since [Monday’s] mass demonstrations in Iran over the disputed presidential elections, conservatives like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) have urged President Obama to “act” and make forceful statements against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s purported reelection. During a press conference today, Obama reemphasized his “deep concerns” about the election — but pointed out that, “given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations,” he wanted to make sure he did not appear to be “meddling” in Iranian affairs.
Click through to watch the video.

Obama rejects North Korea’s bid to be nuclear power (McClatchy)
Despite President Barack Obama’s assurance Tuesday that he won’t accept North Korea as a nuclear power, he has few options short of war and may have little choice but to find a way to live with the threat.

NKorea warns US of ‘thousand-fold’ military action (AP)
North Korea warned Wednesday of a “thousand-fold” military retaliation against the U.S. and its allies if provoked, the latest threat in a drumbeat of rhetoric in defense of its rogue nuclear program. Japanese and South Korean news reports said North Korea is preparing an additional site for test-firing a long-range missile that experts say could be capable of striking the United States. Russia’s deputy defense minister reportedly said it would shoot down any missile headed its way. The warning of a military strike, carried by the North’s state media, came hours after President Barack Obama declared North Korea a “grave threat” to the world and pledged that recent U.N. sanctions on the communist regime will be aggressively enforced.

The Three Essentials of Financial Reform (by Robert Reich, thanks to Economist’s View)
As the White House unveils its long-awaited proposals to prevent another Wall Street meltdown in the future, keep a lookout for three essentials. Without them the Street will revert to its old ways as soon as the coast clears…

1. Stop bankers from making huge, risky bets with other peoples’ money…
2. Prevent any bank from becoming too big to fail…
3. Root out three major conflicts of interest. (1) Credit-rating agencies should no longer be paid by the companies whose issues are being rated; they should be paid by those who use their ratings. (2) Institutional investors like pension funds and mutual funds should not be getting investment advice from the same banks that profit off their investments… (3) the regional Feds that are responsible for much bank oversight should no longer be headed by presidents appointed by the region’s bankers; non-bankers should have the major say, and the regional presidents should have to be confirmed by the Senate…

[T]he big bankers will fight every one of these with all guns blazing, and their lobbyists in full force. … Bottom line: Genuine financial reform will be almost as difficult to achieve as real universal health care. Immense private interests are amassed against the public interest in both cases because staggering amounts of money are at stake. …

The three steps to financial reform (by George Soros, thanks to Economist’s View)
Three principles should guide reform. First, since markets are bubble-prone, regulators must accept responsibility for preventing bubbles from growing too big… Second, … we must … use credit controls such as margin requirements and minimum capital requirements … to forestall … bubbles. Third, we must reconceptualise the meaning of market risk…

Markets are subject to imbalances… If too many participants are on the same side, positions cannot be liquidated without causing a discontinuity or, worse, a collapse… To avert a repetition [of the current crisis], the agents must have “skin in the game” but the five per cent proposed by the administration is more symbolic than substantive… It is probably impractical to separate investment banking from commercial banking as the US did with the Glass Steagull Act of 1933. But there has to be an internal firewall… The issuance and trading of derivatives ought to be as strictly regulated as stocks… Custom made derivatives only serve to improve the profit margin of the financial engineers designing them. In fact, some derivatives ought not to be traded at all.
That’s from a man who has made billions of dollars due to the market imbalances he talked about.

Steps to Financial market Reform (by Mark Thoma at Economist’s View)
[S]ocialist sympathizer Robert Lucas, the Nobel prize winning economist at the University of Chicago … also favors extending regulation to the unregulated banking sector: “The regulatory structure that permitted these events to occur will have to be redesigned… The regulatory problem that needs to be solved is roughly this: The public needs a conveniently provided medium of exchange that is free of default risk or ‘bank runs.’ The best way to achieve this would be to have a competitive banking system with government-insured deposits. But this can only work if the assets held by these banks are tightly regulated.”

Is skin in the game the answer? (by Paul Krugman)
According to the Washington Post, one part of the soon-to-be-announced financial regulatory reform will be a requirement that lenders keep some “skin in the game”: “Lenders would be required to retain at least 5 percent of the risk of losses on each package of loan pieces, known as an asset-backed security…” Is that going to do the trick? I’d be more convinced if I hadn’t read my colleague Hyun Song Shin’s piece earlier this year… Shin argues that financial firms actually used securitization to take on more risk, not to sell it to unknowing clients. This suggests that forcing firms to hold on to some of the securitized debt won’t make much if any difference.

Has Anyone Noticed the Housing Bubble? (by Dean Baker)
Even a perfect regulatory structure will not work, if the regulators do not do their job. They will not have an incentive to do their job, if there are no consequences for not doing their job. In this case, we have seen the most disastrous possible regulatory failure — this is like the drunken school bus driver who gets all his passengers killed driving into oncoming traffic — and no one is held accountable. The message to future regulators is therefore to simply go along with the powers that be (i.e. the financial industry) and you will never suffer any negative consequences. It is remarkable that this perspective is completely absent from the coverage of President Obama’s regulatory reform proposal. The media failed dismally in its coverage of the housing bubble. They appear to have learned nothing from this failure.

Consumer prices rise less than expected in May (AP)
Consumer prices rose less than expected in May, fresh evidence that the recession is keeping inflation in check.

GM Finally Drops Controversial Jets But Not Without Cost To Taxpayers (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Six months after General Motors pledged to get rid of its fleet of private jets, the company is poised to finally get the planes off its books. But not before the aircraft cost the beleaguered automobile company – and by extension American taxpayers – an additional hundreds of thousands of dollars, including more than $240,000 for an airport hangar to hold the planes it never used.

Obama blocks list of visitors to White House (MSNBC)
Despite President Barack Obama’s pledge to introduce a new era of transparency to
Washington, and despite two rulings by a federal judge that the records are public, the Secret Service has denied msnbc.com’s request for the names of all White House visitors from Jan. 20 to the present. It also denied a narrower request by the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sought logs of visits by executives of coal companies.

CREW SUES SECRET SERVICE OVER REFUSAL TO RELEASE WHITE HOUSE COAL EXECS VISITOR LOGS (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)
[On Tuesday], Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) [filed] a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security based on the refusal of the Secret Service to provide CREW with White House visitor records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

FLASHBACK: Obama Promised To End ‘Secret Meetings’ And Make The White House The ‘People’s House’ (Think Progress)
MSNBC reports that the Obama administration has denied its request for the names of individuals who have visited the White House since the Inauguration… [B]efore his election, Obama promised that he would end the Bush administration’s practice of holding secret meetings in the White House, which is supposed to be “the people’s house”… The day after the Inauguration, Obama issued a memo saying, “my Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.”… By opening up access to the White House visitor logs, Obama has an opportunity to fulfill his promise of making the White House the people’s house.

Key Obama Ally Says President Obama Did Not Follow the Law in IG Firing (by Jake Tapper at Political Punch, ABC News)
After being briefed [Tuesday] on President Obama’s firing last week of Gerald Walpin, Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said the president did not abide by the same law that he co-sponsored – and she wrote – about firing Inspectors General. “The White House has failed to follow the proper procedure in notifying Congress as to the removal of the Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service,” McCaskill said… “Loss of confidence’ is not a sufficient reason.”

White House Plays Hardball; Says Fired IG Walpin Was “Confused, Disoriented” Engaged in “Inappropriate Conduct” (by Jake Tapper at Political Punch, ABC News)
Norm Eisen, the Special Counsel to the President, outlined a number of reasons why President Obama fired Inspector General Gerald Walpin. “Mr. Walpin was removed after a review was unanimously requested by the bi-partisan Board of the Corporation,” Eisen writes in the letter, a copy of which was sent to Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., a key Obama ally who today expressed concern that President Obama did not abide by a law she wrote — and he supported as a senator — requiring 30 day notice to Congress before an Inspector General could be terminated… Eisen charged that at a May 20, 2009 board meeting Walpin “was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the Board to question his capacity to serve.”

Teachers File Racial Discrimination Suit Against Obama Administration’s School “Turnaround” Plan (by Bruce A. Dixon at the Black Agenda Report)
Public-private partnerships between Chicago’s City Hall, where two men named Richard Daley have ruled more than 40 of the last 55 years, and a gaggle of corporate bagmen from the Gates, Bradley, Walton and other foundations have honed a disastrous “education reform” agenda that is now national policy. In Chicago, where dozens of neighborhood public schools have been shuttered and hundreds of experienced, predominantly black teachers fired in mid-career, resistance is brewing and spreading.

Obama drive for immigration reform faces an uphill road (McClatchy)
President Barack Obama, Democratic congressional leaders and advocates of revamping the nation’s immigration laws say that developing a comprehensive immigration bill this year is a top priority, despite an already full legislative plate that includes a Supreme Court confirmation hearing, overhauling America’s health care system, addressing climate change and conducting two wars.

Holder: DOJ Will Do All It Can To “Deter Violence” Against Abortion Providers (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Attorney General Eric Holder offered his most forceful condemnation to date of the murder of George Tiller, a Wichita, Kansas doctor who ran a women’s clinic that provided late-term abortions, using the occasion to issue a broad warning about the rise of violent extremism. Speaking at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee conference on Tuesday, Holder pledged that the Department of Justice would do all it could to “deter violence against reproductive health care providers” and prosecute those who committed such acts.

FEMA Contracts Lost, Misplaced (The Note, ABC News)
With Hurricane season just over 2 weeks old the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General has released a report finding that FEMA needs to improve how it handles it’s disaster management contracts finding lost files, misplaced boxes and general shambles in the offices that oversaw billions of dollars of contracts. The DHS audit focuses on FEMA’s Acquisition Management Division (AMD) which oversees the contracting of services during a disaster ranging from shelter, to food and ice shipments and other essential services… According to the report, “A senior AMD management official said that ‘Lots of files are  missing—probably 30%.’”

New US climate report dire, but offers hope (AP)
Rising sea levels, sweltering temperatures, deeper droughts, and heavier downpours — global warming’s serious effects are already here and getting worse, the Obama administration warned on Tuesday in the grimmest, most urgent language on climate change ever to come out of any White House.

CIA’s Technology Arm Taps Open Source for Enterprise Search
The company in charge of providing technology to the U.S. intelligence community has invested in an open-source firm to provide enterprise-search technology to the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
Why does the U.S. intelligence community have a private company in charge of providing technology to it? Why are we paying that company a profit, instead of hiring government employees to do the work? And why is there only one company—shouldn’t we be getting bids on this stuff?

Missile defense cuts won’t threaten security, Pentagon tells Congress (McClatchy)
The Pentagon Tuesday reassured senators that cutting $1.2 billion from the nation’s missile defense budget wouldn’t diminish the country’s ability to defend against a rogue missile attack from North Korea or Iran.

House passes war-funding bill, despite reservations (McClatchy)
A divided House of Representatives Tuesday approved by 226 to 202 a $105.9 billion emergency spending bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and help curb flu outbreaks.

House panel moves to stop detainee transfers (The Hill)
A House panel has approved legislation to prohibit the transfer of military detainees from
Guantanamo Bay into the United States until the White House provides a plan.

Lawmakers ask Commerce Department to reject Gulf fish farms (McClatchy)
Citing environmental concerns and regulatory issues, Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., and 36 other U.S. lawmakers have asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to reject a plan to allow fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Lawmakers Controlling Government’s Budget File for Extensions on Personal Financial Disclosures (Open Secrets)
Members of Congress that control government spending and oversee the beleaguered financial sector are having a hard time getting their own finances in order, CRP has found. Forty of the 63 lawmakers who still haven’t filed their 2008 personal financial disclosure … reports, due May 15, sit on a congressional committee related to the federal budget, appropriations or financial sector oversight.

Ensign Admits to Affair (Political Wire)
Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) is admitting he had an extramarital affair with a member of his campaign staff, KLAS-TV reports. Said Ensign in a statement: “I deeply regret and am very sorry for my actions… An aide in Ensign’s office said the affair took place between December 2007 and August 2008, with a campaign staffer who was married to an employee in Ensign’s Senate office. Neither have worked for the senator since May 2008. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity.” Ensign has been testing the waters for a possible presidential bid in 2012.

Ensign Whacked Clinton For His Infidelities, Called Them “Embarrassing” For Country (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Sen. John Ensign’s admission late Tuesday that he had an extramarital affair with a campaign staffer over the course of nine months doesn’t seem likely to cause the type of wall-to-wall coverage that similar marital slip-ups have in the past. But it should, at the very least, re-open the longstanding debate over how much attention should be paid to a politician’s personal life. And when it comes to this topic, Ensign’s own record of denouncing the affairs and misconducts of other pols could come back to haunt him. During the height of the scandal surrounding Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, the Nevada Republican denounced the president’s conduct as “an embarrassing moment for the country.”…

Weeks later, Ensign would call on Clinton to resign. “I came to that conclusion recently, and frankly it’s because of what he put his whole Cabinet through and what he has put the country through,” he was quoted saying at the time. “He has no credibility left,” he added. At the time, Ensign was in a tight Senate race with incumbent Harry Reid, an election he would ultimately end up losing. And he didn’t shy away from trying to exploit the moral trip-ups in Clinton’s personal life to benefit himself and the GOP.

Sestak Staffing Up For Senate Race Against Specter (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
In yet another sign that Joe Sestak is dead serious about taking on Arlen Specter in the 2010 Pennsylvania Dem primary, Sestak has started building a campaign staff for a Senate race, according to a Democrat with direct knowledge of the conversations. Sestak has interviewed a number of people who would work for his statewide communications operation and online outreach effort, and has talked to candidates for his field operation, the Democrat says. Meanwhile, three chief media consultants on Sestak’s 2006 and 2008 House races — J.J. Balaban, Doc Sweitzer, and Neil Oxman of the Philadelphia-based firm The Campaign Group — have signaled to Sestak that they’ll work for him if and when he enters the Senate primary.

Deeds Edges McDonnell in New Poll (Political Wire)
An Anzalone Liszt Research (D) poll in Virginia finds Creigh Deeds (D) leading Bob McDonnell, 42% to 38%. The poll was conducted for the Democratic Governor’s Association. Deeds has a 48% to 14% favorability rating while McDonnell has a 43% to 19% rating.

The Left Flank (by Big Tent Democrat at Talk Left, thanks to Susie at Suburban Guerilla)
Right Wing activists wield more power than the Progressive activists. And the reason is, in my opinion, Right Wing activists put their issues first, their pols second. They remember what elections and politics are actually about – what the policy looks like in the end… George Bush LOST the 2000 election and barely won the 2004 election. His agenda was disfavored by the American People. And yet he got his agenda through the Congress… The American Presidency is only weakened on policy when Democrats hold the office. This is, in part, because the Left Flank of the Democratic Party is incredibly ineffectual.

I once thought that the Left blogs could help to change that. But it seems there is much more interest in being Charlie Cooks and Stu Rothenbergs or in engaging in food fights with the Right blogs and Glenn Beck than in shaping the policy of the country.

Cannonfire

As Furor Over Palin Joke Rages, Letterman Rises in the Ratings (New York Times)
Monday night, when Mr. Letterman offered his extended apology to Governor Palin and her family, he had his best night yet in the continuing late-night competition against NBC’s new “Tonight” show star, Conan O’Brien. In preliminary national ratings, Mr. Letterman pulled in 700,000 more viewers than Mr. O’Brien Monday night, 3.9 million to 3.2 million, his biggest margin yet over his new competitor. Mr. Letterman routinely trailed the former “Tonight” host Jay Leno by a million viewers or more. But as he has since his start on June 1, Mr. O’Brien was dominant among the younger viewers most television networks prefer — because most advertisers do —  winning by margins exceeding 100 per cent in categories like viewers between the ages of 18 and 34.

This is your progressive movement on 1935: (by Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler)
Last Thursday, Campbell Brown asked a panel to evaluate Letterman’s jokes about Palin. Twice, Jeffrey Toobin said he disapproved of the old coot’s “slutty” joke. “I have a problem with the slutty line,” Toobin said. “I think that was totally inappropriate.” The second time around, progressive thinker Sam Seder offered his own “analysis.” This is your progressive movement on the year 1935: “…[F]rankly, I don’t even think that joke was sexist, per se… [H]e didn’t [call the governor of
Alaska a slut]! He said–he talked about her slutty makeup!… There is a big difference there, because he is talking about appearance.”…

The cluelessness there is just stunning. Presumably, this resembles the way most white people “reasoned” in 1935. In that era’s majority entertainment, it was routine to subject African-Americans to standard forms of ridicule. People like Seder couldn’t see the problem with that. The jokes weren’t “racist, per se”–and everyone laughed! What was the fuss all about?… By the way: It’s great to see Seder has a daughter. As David Letterman once might have joked: What a lucky girl!

Glenn Beck declares: “I don’t care who the person is, we don’t make fun of their families” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Beck in April: Glenn Beck mocks Obama’s aunt’s “limp”

What’s 100,000 or so deaths “to retain political and professional credibility”? (by Will Bunch at Attytood)
A journalist named Michael Hastings has a must-read piece … analyzing what went wrong with media coverage in the run-up and then during the war in
Iraq. As Hastings deconstructs it, there were many factors, including lack of foreign policy expertise by the journalists covering the story, a focus on the story from the White House perspective and on the politics of it all, and not the actual policy. But Hastings focuses on the reason that I find the most chilling: That Beltway journalists felt that staying with “the pack” — avoiding what would be a contrarian, and thus uncool (my word) position — was the safest way to climb the well-paying and prestigious career ladder.
It’s exactly what many so-called progressive bloggers did in 2008 by trashing Hillary Clinton and making a god of Obama.

The US Mainstream Media: Selective Omission and Planned Misinformation (by Solomon Comissiong at the Black Agenda Report)
There is method to the maddening homogeneity and shallowness of the U.S. corporate media. “Keeping the public as dumbed down as possible keeps their corporate clients happy and their political partners in power.” Media corporations advertise that they sell “news,” but what they’re really marketing is a daily defense of imperial rule. That’s why, for example, “they won’t tell you how so-called ‘free trade’ policies create sweatshops, plunder, mass migration, and civil unrest.”

Gene Randall “Reporting,” Inc. (by Brad Jacobson, Columbia Journalism Review)
Former CNN correspondent-turned-PR consultant Gene Randall’s video “report” for oil giant Chevron might be unprecedented for how it blurred the line between public relations and journalism. But the Randall-Chevron production raises not only ethical questions, but also the question of whether a surge of newly pink-slipped reporters might go, as one media critic put it, “over to the dark side” and how that might further muddy the line between news and corporate advocacy…

60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley’s investigation presented multiple perspectives while Randall’s included only Chevron officials and consultants. Everyone interviewed in Randall’s piece, in other words, was paid by Chevron, including Randall himself. Randall’s video also clearly strives to resemble an authentic news report, employing classic stylistic TV news techniques, while never informing the viewer it’s a Chevron production. Most deceptive, however, is that Randall—looking like the consummate TV newsman—begins the video with the accompanying graphic “Gene Randall Reporting” and concludes with the voiceover: “This is Gene Randall reporting.”

PBS Blesses Old Religious Shows, But Bans the New (Washington Post)
The Public Broadcasting Service agreed yesterday to ban its member stations from airing new religious TV programs, but permitted the handful of stations that already carry “sectarian” shows to continue doing so. The vote by PBS’s board was a compromise from a proposed ban on all religious programming. Such a ban would have forced a few stations around the country to give up their PBS affiliation if they continued to broadcast local church services and religious lectures.

Jeffrey Rosen gets around to reading Sotomayor’s opinions; will other media notice? (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Jeffrey Rosen has, more than a month after writing “The Case Against Sonia Sotomayor” — gotten around to actually reading some of the judge’s opinions.  And the result is a much more favorable take on Sotomayor than he previously offered. Now, I don’t take Jeffrey Rosen seriously, and you shouldn’t, either.  Not until he corrects the factual errors that have been brought to his attention.  But the elite media doesn’t really mind that Rosen crops quotes to make it appear the speaker is saying the opposite of what he really said, or that he refuses to issue a correction, so they continue to take Rosen quite seriously.

So it will be interesting to see if Rosen’s more favorable assessments of Sotomayor get repeated and referred to in media coverage of her nomination as much as his critical assessments have been. But I won’t hold my breath.

Newsbusters falsely claims Bush would have won statewide Florida recount (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Newsbusters’ Mike Sargent pretends that George W. Bush would have won a statewide
Florida recount in 2000. In fact, the very study on which Sargent bases that claim found that Al Gore would have won had there been a full statewide recount.  As the Washington Post put it: “An examination of uncounted ballots throughout Florida found enough where voter intent was clear to give Gore the narrowest of margins.”

Report ties increase in hate crimes to ‘anti-immigrant vitriol.’ (Think Progress)
A new report by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund shows a close correlation between the increasingly volatile immigration debate and a growing number of hate crimes against Latinos and “perceived immigrants.” The report, “Confronting the New Faces of Hate,” calls out a number of restrictionist groups that consistently invoke anti-immigrant rhetoric as they try to make the case against immigration… According to the Washington Post, hate crimes against Latinos have been going up for four consecutive years, jumping from 426 to 595 incidents in the last year alone with a 40 percent overall increase between 2003 and 2007.

Army Officer: Bomb North Korea Before They Nuke Us, Like Iraq (by Ryan Tate at Gawker)
Who was that insane lieutenant colonel telling Fox News we should bomb North Korea? That would be Robert Maginnis, who fought the gay menace for the Family Research Council, then claimed Iraq had many horrible weapons. Maginnis [on Tuesday] warned Fox’s Shep Smith about how North Korea has Taepodong-2 missiles on the pad ready to launch, possibly aimed at the U.S… Keep in mind Maginnis’ track record. Eight years ago, he participated in the a Pentagon program in which generals shilled for war, even though he felt “manipulated” and “very disappointed” with the quality of intelligence, as he later told the New York Times.

Neo-Nazis are in the Army now (by Matt Kennard, Salon)
Since the launch of the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military has struggled to recruit and reenlist troops. As the conflicts have dragged on, the military has loosened regulations, issuing “moral waivers” in many cases, allowing even those with criminal records to join up. Veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder have been ordered back to the Middle East for second and third tours of duty. The lax regulations have also opened the military’s doors to neo-Nazis, white supremacists and gang members — with drastic consequences.

Georgia court ban on ‘exposing’ children to ‘homosexuals’ axed by state Supreme Court. (Think Progress)
In 2007, Eric and
Sandy Ehlers Mongerson divorced, and a Georgia trial judge awarded custody of their four children to Sandy and visitation rights to Eric. Inexplicably, the judge also held that Eric was “prohibited from exposing the children to his homosexual partners and friends.” Yesterday, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously threw out the trial judge’s ban.

Drugs Won the War (by Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times)
This year marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s start of the war on drugs, and it now appears that drugs have won. “We’ve spent a trillion dollars prosecuting the war on drugs,” Norm Stamper, a former police chief of Seattle, told me. “What do we have to show for it? Drugs are more readily available, at lower prices and higher levels of potency. It’s a dismal failure.”… Here in the United States, four decades of drug war have had three consequences:

First, we have vastly increased the proportion of our population in prisons. The United States now incarcerates people at a rate nearly five times the world average… Second, we have empowered criminals at home and terrorists abroad… Third, we have squandered resources. Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist, found that federal, state and local governments spend $44.1 billion annually enforcing drug prohibitions. We spend seven times as much on drug interdiction, policing and imprisonment as on treatment.

Media Matters for America headlines

NPR’s Zwerdling understated LGBT criticisms of Obama’s DOMA brief

Media deceptively claim stimulus funds going to “train station” that “hasn’t been used in 30 years”

Wash. Times minimized Princeton alumni group’s opposition to admission of women, minorities

Parroting GOP, media claim stimulus funding “guard rail to nowhere” — but project was cancelled

Ignoring ABC statement, Kudlow alleges ABC will devote programming to “help sell” Obama’s health care plan

More media misrepresent scope of preliminary CBO analysis of health bill

Blitzer did not challenge Boehner’s false claim that CBO scored “public option”

USA Today misleadingly described Judge Hamilton’s record in reporting Sessions’ attack

NY Times, Tapper misrepresent scope of CBO’s analysis of draft health reform bill

Politico did not note that it’s Luntz — not Obama — who’s talking about a “Washington takeover” of health care

The Kid at the State Department Who Figured Out the Iranians Should Be Allowed to Keep Tweeting
Jared Cohen, a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department, placed a call to Twitter Monday, inquiring about their plan to perform maintenance in what would be the middle of the day,
Iran time. Twitter then postponed their maintenance until the middle of the night Iran-time.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warns online media
Iran‘s opposition announced a third day of street demonstrations Wednesday as the country’s most powerful military force warned of a crackdown against online media in its first pronouncement on the deepening election crisis.

North Korea Says U.S. Journalists Admitted to Smear Campaign
North
Korea said that two U.S. journalists whom it jailed last week had admitted to a politically motivated smear campaign. Official media said they crossed the border illegally “for the purpose of making animation files to be used for an anti-DPRK (North Korea) smear campaign over its human rights issue.”

Analyst: Half of U.K. Local and Regional Papers Could Shut By 2014
Up to half of the U.K.’s local and regional newspapers could shut within the next five years, an analyst warned. Claire Enders, the chief executive of Enders Analysis, told committee that newspapers would close across Britain because revenues would collapse by 52% between 2007 and 2013.

UK News Bosses Tell MPs: Let Us Fight Google Together (Paid Content)
UK newspaper publishers, in their latest plea for regulatory reform, want to be allowed to collectively lobby Google for story payments. It was among a litany of woes Guardian Media Group CEO Carolyn McCall, Johnson Press CEO John Fry and Trinity Mirror CEO Sly Bailey—sitting at the same table together—reported to the House of Commons’ culture, media and sport select committee’s inquiry on the future of local and regional media on Tuesday. Newspapers have made the Google-should-pay case before but this is the first time publishers have publicly discussed collaborating to tackle the Google problem, and it says everything about how pressing their problems are.

China Communist Party newspaper to expand coverage
The ruling Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, is expanding its coverage as part of a reported multibillion-dollar drive to expand China’s international media influence. The staid daily that chronicles the activities of the party leadership and publishes editorials praising official policies plans to expand from 16 to 20 pages with more coverage of breaking and international news, it said in a notice on its Web site Tuesday. The newspaper’s 72 foreign and domestic bureaus will be upgraded, it said, without giving details.

China: Use of Controversial Software to Filter Web Is Optional, Official Says
An official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that while computer makers were required to supply an Internet filtering program on all new computers, they were not required to install it.

Vegas paper gets subpoena to ID online commenters
A Las Vegas newspaper says it has been served a federal grand jury subpoena seeking information about readers who posted comments on the paper’s Web site.

You Don’t Have a Right to Anonymity (by John Cook at Gawker)
A British court has ruled that the Times of London is free to unmask an anonymous British blogger, just ten days after the National Review caused [an] uproar by outing a left-wing blogger named Publius. This is a good thing… [T]he notion that anonymous publishers have a right, in perpetuity, to keep their identities a secret—or that people who learn their identities are honor-bound not to reveal them—is nonsense. In both Blevins’ case and Horton’s, the motive behind their anonymity involved the inconvenience to their personal lives that would be entailed if they were revealed as the authors of their own ideas. Horton risked the ire of his employers, not to mention the victims and their relatives involved in the cases he discussed. And Blevins wrote that he didn’t want his left-wing advocacy to interfere with his private law practice, his law-school classroom, or his relationships with conservative family members. There’s nothing noble in proclaiming the value of ideas that you don’t have the courage to advocate to your own family…

There’s nothing inherently wrong with blogging anonymously…, though some motivations are more cowardly than others. And much good can and has come from people who are free to write the truth without bearing the consequences. But the decision to do so carries with it certain exceedingly obvious risks, and when the jig is up, it’s best for anonybloggers to endure the scrutiny with dignity rather than complain that people who had no obligation or interest in preserving their anonymity have behaved as such.

Beta life (by Jeff Jarvis)
NYU student Cody Brown delivers a neat take on the discussion about process v. product journalism last week, making distinctions between batch and real-time processing of journalism (read: The New York Times as opposed to blogs)… Brown says that for print, the “gestalt” is “batch processing.” How should it develop its brand? “As the voice of god.” How should it publish information on a developing story? “Cautiously… Compare and contrast with his take on online. Gestalt: “”Real Time Processing. Information is processed on the fly.” Brand? “An open platform… How to publish? “Instantly. When a page is able to be updated at any frequency, corrections can be made just as fast. Rumors and gossip can be used as leverage to get sources, who otherwise wouldn’t, to spill what they know…

It’s not just the standards, tradition, and ego of the legacy press that prevents it from enjoying the benefits of beta, Brown argues, but the perception and value of its practices and reputation. That would seem to argue that it’s impossible for the legacy to update from product to process. I’m not sure I agree, but I do think that Brown put the challenge clearly through one end of the prism. The question is whether the legacy press – for the benefit of its staff even more than its audience – can issue enough caveats to enable it to work real-time. Forget blogs in this discussion. Will The New York Times ever be comfortable working on the standards and practices of 24-hour cable news? Can it afford to? Don’t they have to?

Study: U.S. Newspaper Biz Expected to Lose $25 Billion by 2013 
The newspaper industry in
North America will shed some $13 billion in revenue by 2013, according to new research from PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC). Total advertising will fall by a cumulative 32.7%. 

AP eyeing better deals with Internet heavyweights
The Associated Press hopes to negotiate more lucrative licensing deals with major Web sites while mining new revenue from advertisers and readers as the 163-year-old news cooperative adapts to Internet-driven changes in the media. Chief Executive Tom Curley touched upon the AP’s financial priorities in a Tuesday interview after a meeting with employees in which he discussed possible revenue opportunities and initiatives to protect online content… Without offering specifics, Curley said the AP expects its revenue to fall this year and next…

Curley identified new licensing contracts with the AP’s largest Internet customers as his top priority… Readers also might be asked to pay to read and see some of the AP’s content, either on mobile devices or on computers, Curley said.

Yahoo Newspaper Consortium Adds Five Members (Paid Content)
The possible sale of Yahoo’s HotJobs would be a huge blow for members of the Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Newspaper Consortium, as the alliance is the only source of help-wanted-ad revenue for nearly 200 papers. But that’s apparently not deterring papers from joining. The newspaper alliance announced five new members… The Yahoo alliance has been one of the few bright spots for newspapers in recent months. A recent estimate by AdAge found that the two-and-a-half-year-old consortium sold $50 million in Yahoo ad inventory, with about “several million” dollars in sales being added each week.

For Yahoo Newspaper Consortium Members, Targeting Is Now The Draw, Not Job Ads (Paid Content)
For websites still joining ad alliances like the Yahoo Newspaper Consortium and quadrantONE, the appeal is in the targeting and ad assistance—not the job listings. For the Yahoo Newspaper Consortium, HotJobs was initially a main selling point, but with unemployment currently at 9.1 percent, job ads aren’t so hot these days. None of the five new consortium members have signed on for the HotJobs service. Instead, the newspapers all cited a desire to access Yahoo’s targeted inventory and online ad saleforce training.

Newspapers May Want to Rethink How High to Build Pay Walls
Forecast: Digital Ad Revenue Expected to Grow Again in 2011

Musictoob Launches Linking Tool For Bloggers… (Paid Content)
Pop music news and gossip site Musictoob thinks it has found a way for some aggregators to get around accusations of stealing content. The site has launched a new tool that lets any blogger link to outside stories, which then show up under the blogger’s URL but are still hosted on the site of the original publisher. Musictoob says that both the blogger and the site he or she links to register page views (A small frame also shows up on the top of the page.)… “Everybody who comes to the party gets rewarded,” says Michael Rovner, the general manager of Musictoob. “It’s actually loading—it’s not us stealing page views.” Musictoob is using the service, which it calls the Tuna Platform, on its own site—and it’s also now giving it away for free.

‘Boston Globe’ Iran Photo Gallery Nets 750,000 Page Views in First 24 Hours 
The Big Picture blog on Boston.com posted a very popular photo gallery this week of photos from the election demonstrations in Iran. The photographs, all from wire services, offered graphic evidence of the severity of the protests, and generated tremendous attention on Twitter and current affairs blogs.

‘Buffalo News’ to Print ‘NYT’ National Edition
The Buffalo News reports that it will begin printing The New York Times national edition in fall for distribution as far as
Rochester and Toronto. The deal follows approximately $950,000 in press upgrades at the News, mostly for additional color capacity. The Times will be printed on one of the plant’s 5-year-old KBA Colora presses, the News on the other.

Hirschorn: The Economist Benefited From Being Semi Competent About the Web (Paid Content)
Michael Hirschorn writes an essay explaining why the British magazine is thriving while Time and Newsweek are in the inexorable state of decline despite their frenzied efforts… “By repositioning themselves as repositories of commentary and long-form reporting—much like [The Atlantic], it’s worth noting, which has never delivered impressive profit margins—the American newsweeklies are going away from precisely the thing that has propelled The Economist’s rise: its status as a humble digest, with a consistent authorial voice, that covers absolutely everything that you need to be informed about…”

But the more intriguing analysis…: “While other publications whore themselves to Google (NSDQ: GOOG), The Huffington Post, and the Drudge Report, almost no one links to The Economist. It sits primly apart from the orgy of link love elsewhere on the Web.” His point: by not whoring itself out completely on the Web, people value its print product more, while the opposite has happened at Time and Newsweek: they have succeeded to a larger extent online, as the print version declines.

MSLO Starts Selling Downloadable ‘How To’ Videos; Part Of `Martha University’ (Paid Content)
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia  has opened up Martha University, a section of the media company’s website that will sell “how to” videos covering recipes, entertaining, home decor and weddings. The videos, which are powered by iAmplify, a New York-based audio and video content distribution firm, will be sold for prices ranging from $5.95 to $12.95. Speaking at an industry event last month, Martha Stewart told paidContent that this new venture did not mean the company would be abandoning its ad-supported online model. Instead, it is meant to gauge consumers’ appetite for pay-to-download video. It will serve as a broader test of how much internet users will pay for content, something every media company is looking at right now.

Newsweek Pares an Issue in August
Newsweek typically skips a week of publication around Christmas, the Fourth of July and in August, printing a double issue to cover each two-week period. This summer, however, Newsweek readers will receive two double issues in August, on top of the one in July. 

Gisele Bundchen Mag Covers Strike Out at the Newsstand
Gisele, it turns out, doesn’t sell. Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar each put Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen on covers this year, and both promptly had their worst-selling issues off the newsstand in 2009. “It might be that she’s losing her looks,” quipped Vanity Fair spokeswoman Beth Kseniak.

Crowdsourcing comes to radio.
The emerging phenomena is being used to allow listeners to develop a station’s playlist in real-time. San Mateo, CA-based Jelli has developed a social music service that allows radio listeners — through online voting — to choose what should play next. CBS Radio’s “Live 105” KITS, San Francisco is the first station to deploy the technology.

Radio Hall of Fame to add three.
Three radio giants have been selected for posthumous induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame. The list includes Puerto Rican legend Jose Miguel Agrelot, who becomes the first Hispanic ever inducted into the NRHOF. Also being honored are longtime Phillies announcer Harry Kalas and Chicago talk host Studs Terkel.

Sorry, There’s No Way to Save the TV Business
It Should Take Its Cues From What Happened to Newspapers

Nielsen Concedes News Ratings Error 
Nielsen Media Research has conceded making an error and is performing a recount after the company’s ratings on Tuesday initially indicated that ABC’s World News most likely had its smallest audience ever.

Reception problems linger after DTV transition
The shutdown of
U.S. analog TV service on Friday appears to have gone relatively smoothly, but as expected, a lot of viewers are having problems getting the stations they want.

Analyst: Why The Bullish Forecasts For In-Game Ad Spending Are Justified (Paid Content)
Various reports are forecasting that marketers will spend billions of dollars on in-game ads over the next five years—with some even saying that spending could grow by almost 30 percent to top $1 billion next year(per ClickZ). Meanwhile, the IAB is proposing new standards to help make it easier for companies to buy, sell and quantify the value of in-game ads. But with all forms of advertising taking budget cuts, is this bullishness around in-game ads justified? Yes—according to Citi Investment analyst Mark Mahaney.

Guessing game: How much money is YouTube losing?
Internet video leader YouTube Inc.’s losses have been overblown by some analysts, but corporate parent Google Inc. doesn’t mind the misperception, according to a study to be released Wednesday… San Francisco-based RampRate reasons the perception of large losses at YouTube helps Google negotiate more favorable contracts with movie, TV and music studios licensing their video. What’s more, copyright owners also are less likely to go to court in pursuit of unpaid royalties and damages if they believe YouTube is a big money loser.

Microsoft To Scale Back Its YouTube-Rival Soapbox (Paid Content)
Two years after making a strategic decision to launch a user-generated video upload service of its own rather than buy another site, Microsoft is pulling back from the market. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Erik Jorgensen tells CNET that the company is rethinking the strategy around the service it launched—Soapbox. Rather than continue to offer a wide selection of uploaded videos, Microsoft wants to create a “forum where bloggers and citizen journalists can post videos relevant to areas in which MSN focuses, categories like entertainment, lifestyle and finance”—if it keeps the service up at all.

MySpace to cut 30 pct of jobs to boost efficiency
MySpace said Tuesday it is cutting nearly 30 percent of its work force in a bid to become more efficient, bringing its staffing level more in line with its more popular rival, Facebook. The move, the latest cost-cutting effort at the site, comes less than two months after the unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. hired former Facebook executive Owen Van Natta, 39, as its new chief executive. It also comes a day after data from tracking firm comScore show Facebook has caught up with MySpace in monthly
U.S. visitors for the first time.

FIM Layoffs Underway; Unlike MySpace, No Specifics (Paid Content)
Fox Interactive Media quietly is cutting corporate staff… Is FIM being dismantled? Not now but it sounds like a very real possibility. In the meantime, it will be as lean as they can make it. Currently, FIM includes MySpace, Photobucket, Fox Sports Interactive, IGN, Rotten Tomatoes, AskMen, the Fox Interactive Media Audience Network and the Digital Publishing Group.  The layoffs follow news that FIM has canceled plans to consolidate staff at a new Playa Vista office and is trying to get out of that lease.

Amazon Buys Mobile Product Search Startup SnapTell (Paid Content)
Amazon.com search subsidiary A9.com has purchased SnapTell, a startup that offers users a way to search for product information from their mobile phones. Its free iPhone and Android apps let people take a photo of a piece of media—like a DVD, CD, or video game—and then immediately see product information, including reviews.

Facebook Tests Twitter-Like Real Time Search (Paid Content)
Likely feeling left out of the real-time search craze, Facebook said Tuesday evening that it had started testing an update to its search service that includes “up-to-the-minute results” from status updates, notes, and links. The results are broken down into two groups: Those from the accounts of friends and those written by users who have made their profiles and content available to anyone.

Mac News Briefs: Daz 3D releases enhanced version of animation program
Daz 3D announced a new free version of its 3-D art and animation package Tuesday while rolling out an enhanced version of the application featuring professional-level tools.

DirecTV to offer targeted ads in 2011: WSJ
U.S. satellite television provider DirecTV Group is planning a new service allowing advertisers to reach viewers based on their locations, the Wall Street Journal said.

Cell Phone Execs Will Face Questions On Text Messaging Price Hikes
Over the last few years, telephone companies have been hiking up the price for text messages from as little as one-cent per message to 25-cents or more depending if the text is plain text or a multimedia text with photo, video, or audio.

Verizon and AT&T deny collusion on texting prices
U.S. wireless carriers Verizon Communications and AT&T took issue with assertions that they colluded in setting prices for text messages, saying on Tuesday that prices for most customers had fallen and the market was competitive.

IRS, Treasury want cell phone tax repealed
Company-issued cell phones might feel like a leash to some workers, a tether to the office even in their off-hours. They also are a taxable fringe benefit, something the Obama administration wants to change. The administration Tuesday asked Congress to repeal the widely ignored tax on the personal use of company cell phones, calling it outdated and difficult to enforce. The request comes a week after the Internal Revenue Service sparked an outcry when it sought ideas for how better to enforce the law.

Greeks to register prepaid cell phones
Greece’s prepaid mobile phone users will now have to register their identities in a bid to tackle illegal immigration and other crime, the communications minister said Tuesday.

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Sebelius explains to Matthews that private insurers already deny care “every day” (County Fair, Media Mattes for America)

Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recommends denial of care as a model (by DCblogger at Corrente)
Report: Medicare Expansion Would Not Solve Problems “To illustrate what it might take to save Medicare, the commission describes how primary-care doctors, specialists and hospitals could be reorganized into ‘accountable care organizations’ whose members would receive bonuses if the organizations met quality and cost targets. To ratchet up the incentives, health-care providers who fail to meet cost and quality targets could be penalized, the report says.” If we do not speak out the health insurance parasites denial of care model will be legitimized under the pretext of cost control.

Analysis: Doctors’ boos show Obama’s tough road (AP)
Barack Obama isn’t used to hearing boos. For all the young president’s popularity, the response he got Monday from doctors at an American Medical Association meeting was a sign his road is only going to get rockier as he tries to sell his plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system. The boos erupted when Obama told the doctors in
Chicago he wouldn’t try to help them win their top legislative priority — limits on jury damages in medical malpractice cases… Instead, Obama left the door open to some kind of compromise on malpractice…

Not long ago, doctors’ decisions were rarely questioned. Now they are being blamed for a big part of the wasteful spending in the nation’s $2.5 trillion health care system. Studies have shown that as much as 30 cents of the U.S. health care dollar may be going for tests and procedures that are of little or no value to patients…

[Obama] promised that Washington would not dictate clinical decisions. And he asked the doctors to imagine a world in which nearly every patient has insurance coverage and they can devote their full attention to the practice of medicine. “You did not enter this profession to be bean-counters and paper-pushers,” Obama said. “You entered this profession to be healers — and that’s what our health care system should let you be.” That line got him an ovation.
So let’s get out our calculators, shall we? If 30% of health care costs are attributable to unnecessary tests (see above), and another 30% of health care costs are attributable to profits, fat salaries for insurance company CEO, and paying clerks to deny coverage and claims (see here), that means ALMOST 60% OF HEALTH CARE EXPENDITURES ARE UNNECESSARY. Quite an eye opener, isn’t it?

So now are they going to tell us that if some of those testing companies close their doors, it will mean lost jobs? And that we’re just as obligated to keep them in business doing unnecessary tests as we are to maintaining insurance company profits and overhead? That it’s our duty?

You wouldn’t know it from news reports, but most doctors support national health care (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Mattes for America)
In the comments section of my column about media coverage of the AMA, a reader writes: “Do you think you are fooling people? In this entire article, you never once address what the FAR MAJORITY of Doctors believe. They believe that a nationalized program will be the downfall of coverage and care as we know it… Do your job as a jornalist…” Well.  I’m no journalist; I’m a media critic.  But the reader is correct that responsible reporters should report the facts.  And the facts are that, despite what media reporting about the AMA’s recent comments would lead you to believe, most doctors support national health care.

On  Dobbs,  Pilgrim falsely suggests AMA represents “the nation’s doctors” (County Fair, Media Mattes for America)

The AMA Does Not Represent Us (Dr. Margaret Flowers and Dr. Carol Paris, members of Physicians for a National Health Program)
[T]he AMA represents less than one-third of
America’s physicians, and half of those are retired. [Emphasis added.] In fact, the American Medical Student Association endorses universal health care reform. The AMA’s longstanding opposition to every effort to change health care financing, including Medicare in the 1960s, has resulted in decades of needless and countless morbidity and mortality. Sixty people die every day in this country simply for lack of access to health care. And instead of being an advocate for the only solution that accomplishes the goals of universal coverage and fiscal viability, the single-payer option, the AMA continues to be primarily a trade association looking out for the financial interests of its members… The AMA does not represent us.

Dean On Conrad’s Co-op Plan: Insurance Industry Licking Its Lips (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Sen. Kent Conrad’s proposal for a cooperative approach to health insurance coverage has created a unique challenge for progressive health care advocates who don’t object to the idea but find it inadequate… “This is a big mistake,” former Gov. Howard Dean told the Huffington Post. “These co-ops will be very weak. Many won’t have the half-million members that most experts think is necessary to influence the market… Insurance companies will be licking their lips.”… Added SEIU President Andy Stern through his active twitter account: “Health Care Co-op is distraction from need for real competition and cost control. Good idea and attempts to avoid important debate on costs.”

A health care flashback (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Mattes for America)
Look what I came across while researching my column about media coverage of the American Medical Association (note the date): “…August 25, 1994…
America‘s corporations – the biggest buyers of health benefits – have been forcing reforms on their own for years. [Emphasis added.] Regardless what happens in Washington they’ll keep cutting costs, reducing chances that drug companies, hospitals and other medical providers would seek to sharply raise prices.” Just something to keep in mind the next time you see a news report offer industry-friendly spin that things won’t be that bad if comprehensive health care reform doesn’t happen.

On CNBC, David Goodfriend notes that conservatives have been calling health care reform “socialism” since the 1930s (County Fair, Media Mattes for America)

Obama to single-payer advocates: “go fuck yourselves” (by vastleft at Corrente)
Naturally, he wasn’t talking directly to us “liberal bleeding hearts.” Instead, he delivered the message to the AMA: “‘What are not legitimate concerns are those being put forward claiming a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system,’ he said. I’ll be honest. There are countries where a single-payer system may be working. But I believe — and I’ve even taken some flak from members of my own party for this belief — that it is important for us to build on our traditions here in the United States.’”
Yes, well, slavery was once a tradition here in the United States, President Obama.

New Limbaugh argument against public health care plan: “[T]here’s no federal dog healthcare plan out there, and it’s working just fine” (County Fair, Media Mattes for America)

Senate GOP Blocking Obama Nominees In Attempt To Delay Health Care And Climate Legislation (Think Progress)
In April, ThinkProgress noted that Republicans were blocking an increasing number of President Obama’s nominees to pursue ideological witch hunts and to facilitate self-interested horse trades. Two months later, a number of key nominees are still waiting and Senate Republicans are bottling up dozens more of Obama’s nominees in order to delay action on key Obama agenda items like health care and climate change legislation by consuming one of the most precious resources in the Senate: floor time.

Why Progressives Have to get Serious about Health Care Reform (Democracy Corps)
We are convinced that the country will support comprehensive health care reform — if we respect how voters will assess our plans, provide key information about how reform will work (particularly to reduce costs) and if the president carries forward with his educative role. This conclusion is based on our most current survey, which shows a plurality for the Obama plan, but short of a majority — which gets larger after a robust debate. The survey replicates questions we asked in 1993 when President Clinton launched his health care reform plans, and I write about those findings in the latest New Republic.
It happens over and over and over again. The policies that will benefit the greatest number of people are derailed, leaving us with nothing or even less.

All Hat No Cattle

Obama: Iranian voters’ voices should be heard (AP)
President Barack Obama says the world is inspired by the outpouring of Iranian political dissent, but Sen. John McCain said Obama isn’t speaking out strongly enough.

Iranian Council Agrees to Limited Recount (Washington Post)
Iran‘s influential Guardian Council agreed Tuesday to recount some ballots from last week’s disputed presidential election, as pro- and anti-government demonstrators prepared to face off in a public square in the central part of the capital. The unusual step by the council, several members of which had supported President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s bid for re-election, was quickly rejected as insufficient by the opposition… Their supporters said it would be difficult — if not impossible — to request a recount comprehensive enough to overturn what the government has said was a landslide in favor of Ahmadinejad.

Could Ahmadinejad actually have won? Read the disputed poll (McClatchy)
The Center for Public Opinion, a nonprofit institute that researches attitudes toward extremism, and the New America Foundation conducted a poll in Iran May 11-20, interviewing 1,001 people. They found Ahmadinejad with a large lead over his rivals.

Fleischer Claims ‘Substantial Reform Movement In Iran’ Is ‘Because Of George W. Bush’s Tough Policies’ (Think Progress)
The Washington Post’s Al Kamen reports [Monday] that former Bush flack Ari Fleischer emailed fellow Post reporter Glenn Kessler before any results had been issued in Iran’s hotly-contested presidential election to give credit to his former boss for the “reformists’ surge” there. “[O]ne of the reasons there is a substantial reform movement in Iran — particularly among its young people — is because of George W. Bush’s tough policies,” Fleischer wrote… Aside from the fact that Fleischer’s claim cannot really ever be verified (a tactic former Bush administration officials use when defending their failed policies), it’s clear that Iran’s power in the region has grown significantly in the region since 2001 — a point one wonders if Fleischer will also give Bush credit for.

REPORT: Key Terror Detainee Acknowledged ‘I Make Up Stories’ In Response To Torture (Think Progress)
The Bush administration has long justified its use of torture by claiming that it obtained valuable information from torturing 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed… But according to documents released by the Obama administration in response to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, Cheney was lying. Mohammed told U.S. military officials that he gave false information to the CIA after withstanding torture… The torture of Mohammed, who we know was waterboarded 183 times in one month, “underscores the unreliability of statements obtained by torture.”

The Good Soldier: Hillary Clinton As Secretary of State (by Peter Keating, New York Daily News)
Clinton has steadily accumulated power while expending hardly any political capital. For one thing, she has stirred an effective mix of politicos and diplomats into the top tiers of the State Department… Further,
Clinton hasn’t made mistakes. There have been no Joe Biden–like gaffes, Tom Daschle–like embarrassments, or Judd Gregg–like turnarounds coming from Hillary. Or from her husband — these days, Bill Clinton would have us believe he spends his time shopping for trinkets, unable even to get Hillary on her cell phone.

Meanwhile, nobody else has developed an alternative foreign-policy power center within the administration… In public, Clinton has spent the last six months fundamentally realigning American foreign policy away from reliance on military force, toward what she calls (in a wise abandonment of the lefty academic phrase “soft power”) “smart power” — more diplomacy and international economic assistance. She has also been striving to ensure zero daylight between her and Obama on any issue, big or small, whatever positions she might have taken as a New York senator or presidential candidate. If Clinton minds toiling in Obama’s shadow, or representing her former rival as America’s best face to the world, she hasn’t shown it.
Hillary has always been a team player. That’s why the vicious attacks on her last year for being selfish were so infuriatingly unfair.

Bill Clinton, in new diplomatic role, urges help for Haiti (Truthdig)
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who has been appointed as United Nations Special Envoy to
Haiti, says one of his first orders of business to help the impoverished Caribbean nation will be to ensure that $353 million in promised pledges from the international community actually end up in Haiti.

S. Korea Seeks Assurances From U.S. of Nuclear Shield (Washington Post)
As state media in
North Korea continued to warn of possible nuclear war, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak flew to Washington for talks with President Obama at which Lee is expected to seek a written promise of continued U.S. nuclear protection. The United States has maintained a nuclear umbrella over South Korea since the Korean War and it periodically reaffirms that protection, although not at the level of a White House statement.

May housing construction jumps by 17.2 percent (AP)
Construction of new homes jumped in May by the largest amount in three months, providing an encouraging sign that the nation’s deep housing recession was beginning to bottom out.

Stimulus serves up Obama pork (Politico)
It became a sort of poster child for fiscal responsibility — a clean-coal power plant in Illinois that was one of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s pet projects. Democrats insisted they were so serious about keeping pork out of the stimulus bill that it was President Obama himself who blocked the FutureGen project from the massive spending package. “It shows that we’re serious about it,” Brendan Daly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman, said at the time. “The speaker said it, and the president said it: There will not be earmarks in this bill.” Earmarks? Perhaps not. But funding for FutureGen? Absolutely, to the tune of $1 billion.

The Department of Energy on Friday announced that the FutureGen project is on track after all, committing federal stimulus money to advance the project to its next stage. One reason: It was the only shovel-ready project that fits the requirements of the stimulus bill. Administration officials and the project’s other big backer, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), insist that’s not an earmark at all, as promised — because the stimulus bill doesn’t specifically name the FutureGen project as a recipient of the money. But others say that’s a distinction without a difference — that FutureGen is merely an earmark by another name.

Obama to create new agency (Politico)
President Barack Obama on Wednesday will call for the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency as part of his long-awaited plan for overhauling the nation’s market regulatory structure in response to last year’s meltdown, administration officials tell POLITICO. The promise to “re-regulate” the wounded financial system after the go-go years is one of the centerpieces of the president’s agenda, in a year when he’s taking on many of the nation’s most complex problems all at once. Officials call the overhaul by far the biggest since the 1930s.

The new independent agency – which Obama will begin talking up in a series of interviews on Tuesday afternoon — will look after consumers on matters like credit cards, with “a very clear line of accountability around products that they deem abusive of consumers, or misleading,” a senior administration official said.
Don’t know much about it yet, but it sounds like a good idea.

Barack Hoover Obama: The best and the brightest blow it again (by Kevin Baker, Harper’s, subscription required)
Much like Herbert Hoover, Barack Obama is a man attempting to realize a stirring new vision of his society without cutting himself free from the dogmas of the past-without accepting the inevitable conflict. Like Hoover, he is bound
to fail. President Obama, to be fair, seems to be even more alone than Hoover was in facing the emergency at hand. The most appalling aspect of the present crisis has been the utter fecklessness of the American elite in failing to confront it. From both the private and public sectors, across the entire political spectrum, the lack of both will and new ideas has been stunning.
Because with the elite of our country, it’s all “I, me, mine, I, me, mine, I, me, mine.”

Why not turn the banks into regulated public utilities? (by lambert at Corrente)
Fred gave Timmy and Larry some space on his Op-Ed page, and they finish up this way: “By restoring the public’s trust in our financial system, the administration’s reforms will allow the financial system to play its most important function: transforming the earnings and savings of workers into the loans that help families buy homes and cars, help parents send kids to college, and help entrepreneurs build their businesses…” Well, if that’s all the banks are good for, then why do we need the huge CEO salaries, and all the “innovation,” and the one-day-a-week jobs, and all the weasels pulling down commissions? If banking’s going to become boring again, why do we need banksters?
Same comment as above.

CIA head says Cheney almost wishing US be attacked (AP)
CIA Director Leon Panetta says former Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticism of the Obama administration’s approach to terrorism almost suggests “he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.” Panetta told The New Yorker for an article in its June 22 issue that Cheney “smells some blood in the water” on the issue of national security. Cheney has said in several interviews that he thinks Obama is making the
U.S. less safe. He has been critical of Obama for ordering the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, halting enhanced interrogations of suspected terrorists and reversing other Bush administration initiatives he says helped to prevent attacks on the U.S.

Intel officials ‘scrutinizing threats from the far right just as carefully as those from Islamic extremists.’ (Think Progress)
After the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leaked a report warning of the threat of right-wing extremists, mainstream conservatives went into a frenzy, demanding that Secretary Janet Napolitano be fired. According to Newsweek, some local intelligence “fusion” centers ceased their operations monitoring right-wing extremists because of the conservative outcry. Now, after a series of murders by far-right extremists, intelligence officials admit they are taking the threat seriously: “They may talk about it less in public now, but law-enforcment and intel officials tell NEWSWEEK they’re quietly scrutinizing threats from the far right just as carefully as those from Islamic extremists.”

Is Obama holding up E-Verify? (McClatchy)
Legislators and advocates are questioning President Obama’s commitment to enforcing immigration laws after, again, delaying when federal contractors need to adhere to an order to use an employment-verification system designed to identify illegal immigrants.

VA inspections show continued flaws (AP)
Fewer than half of Veterans Affairs centers given a surprise inspection last month had proper training and guidelines in place for common endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopies — even after the agency learned that mistakes may have exposed thousands of veterans to HIV and other diseases.

Mayors steamed by W.H. no-show (Politico)
America’s big-city mayors are steaming over what they view as “a very dangerous precedent” set by the Obama administration in its decision to shun the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting in Providence, R.I., this week. In its attempt to honor the picket line of a local firefighters union involved in a labor dispute with the city, the administration has inadvertently angered some of its staunchest supporters in urban America, who argue that by declining to send an official contingent to the three-day mayors’ conference, the administration is caving in to labor and snubbing local governments at a time of economic strife.
I think the administration made the right call on this issue.

Calif. Aid Request Spurned By U.S. (Washington Post)
The Obama administration has turned back pleas for emergency aid from one of the biggest remaining threats to the economy — the state of
California. Top state officials have gone hat in hand to the administration, armed with dire warnings of a fast-approaching “fiscal meltdown” caused by a budget shortfall. Concern has grown inside the White House in recent weeks as California’s fiscal condition has worsened, leading to high-level administration meetings. But federal officials are worried that a bailout of California would set off a cascade of demands from other states. With an economy larger than Canada’s or Brazil’s, the state is too big to fail, California officials urge.

Exclusive: House Dems Planning Major Changes To Secret CIA Briefings Of Congress (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
In a move that could spark another fight with the GOP over CIA intelligence and secrecy, House Dems are quietly preparing to make major changes to the ways the CIA briefs Congress on covert actions, by broadening the pool of members of Congress who will have access to such private briefings, a source familiar with deliberations says. Dems on the House Intelligence Committee have drafted a new bill that would strip the President of his authority to limit such briefings to the so-called “Gang of Eight” — the leaders of the House and Senate from both parties, and the leaders of the Congressional Intelligence committees — and allow a larger group of members of Congress to attend.

The move, which is being championed internally by House Intel chair Silvestre Reyes, would also compel the CIA to keep a far more detailed record of these briefings, though these details still need to be worked out.

Congress OKs More FDA Regulation Over Tobacco-Funded Senators’ Opposition (Open Secrets)
Big Tobacco is closely tied to the small group of lawmakers who opposed recent legislation allowing greater FDA regulation of tobacco products and advertising methods…. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), has received more money ($359,100) since 1989 than any lawmaker but one from tobacco companies, many of which are based in his Tar Heel State Burr spearheaded the effort to defeat the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act… Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is the all-time leader in reaping the tobacco industry’s contributions. Over the senator’s career, he has received $419,000 from PACs and individuals associated with major tobacco companies…

In addition to Burr and McConnell, 14 other Senate Republicans also voted against providing the FDA with more regulatory authority. They include: Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, who has received $228,700 from the industry over time and Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who has collected $194,150. One Democrat, freshman Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, joined them in opposing the legislation. Hagan received $19,200 from Big Tobacco during her 2008 cycle campaign. 

Ethics Panel Members Received Paltry PMA Contributions (Open Secrets)
Some members of Congress are currently drawing media scrutiny (and Justice Department subpoenas) as a result of their close financial ties to a defunct lobbying shop, PMA Group, which was raided by federal agents late last year. But the House Ethics Committee members who began an investigation into the firm’s activities last week have received relatively little in the way of campaign donations from PMA and its defense-contractor clients.  

Democrats Plan for Byrd “Contingencies” (Political Wire)
Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-WV) state of health “has prompted some quiet, behind-the-scenes discussions in the event the senator is unable to return to office,” the West Virginia Gazette reports. West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) met with state Democratic Party chairman Nick Casey last week, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on a conference call to discuss contingencies.” Casey “is generally regarded as the consensus choice to serve as a placeholder for Byrd’s Senate seat in the event Byrd would have to step down prior to the 2010 elections.”

How Congress Really Works (Political Wire)
This new book by Rep. Henry Waxman and Joshua Green is a must-read for political junkies.  It’s described as an “inside account of how Congress really works by describing the subtleties and complexities of the legislative process.” The authors give readers “a rare glimpse into how this is achieved-the strategy, the maneuvering, the behind-the-scenes deals” and show “how the things we take for granted (clear information about tobacco’s harmfulness, accurate nutritional labeling, important drugs that have saved countless lives) started out humbly-derided by big business interests as impossible or even destructive. Sometimes, the most dramatic breakthroughs occur through small twists of fate or the most narrow voting margin.”
Buy the book here.

US Supreme Court refuses “Cuban Five” spy case (AFP)
The US Supreme Court Monday refused to hear the case of five Cubans serving prison sentences for spying in the United States, effectively upholding their conviction by a lower court.

Dem Establishment’s Fundraising Machine Kicks Into Gear For Specter (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
It’s striking how swiftly the Dem establishment has lined up behind Arlen Specter, making Joe Sestak’s expected primary challenge to the newly-minted Dem a major uphill climb. Here’s the latest: The Dem establishment’s money machine is kicking into gear behind Specter, with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chief Robert Menendez set to help host a big fundraiser for Specter later this month at the swanky Regency Hotel in
New York… The DSCC had always said that it would back Specter in a primary, though it doesn’t go out of its way to advertise it. And Harry Reid and even President Obama are likely to help raise cash for Specter, too. That the Dem money machine is kicking into gear for Specter so fast is yet another sign of what Sestak is up against.
I hope Jose Sestak kicks Specter’s, and the poohbahs’, asses.

Bloomberg Cruising to Re-Election (Political Wire)
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg beats William Thompson (D) in the New York City mayoral race, 54% to 32%, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. Bloomberg sweeps the political spectrum, leading Thompson 49% to 40% among Democrats, 71% to 12% among Republicans and 59% to 26% among independent voters.

Pawlenty Will Explore White House Bid (Political Wire)
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who has decided against running for a third term in 2010, “will spend the next two years traveling the country to see if he can build enough support to run for president in 2012,” his associates tell Washington Whispers. “The Republican, who is expected to play up his humble roots and past in a populist bid against President Obama, will decide in 2011 if there is enough of a base on which to build his campaign. Those close to “T-Paw” said that his focus is the presidency, not a vice presidential nomination or an effort to raise his name recognition en route to a bid in 2016.”

Fundraising Begins for a Jindal Presidential Bid (Political Wire)
A group of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) political supporters, “including an uncle of the governor’s wife, Supriya Jindal, are forming a federal political action committee to support a presidential run by the 38-year-old Republican,” the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Though Jindal’s press secretary insists to the Baton Rouge Advocate that the governor, “does not support this effort,” an insider tells Political Wire that Jindal’s top aides manage their responsibilities “in the context of preparing Bobby for a 2012 run.”

Blago Attends the Theatre (by Pareene at Gawker)
Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe has a show called “Rod Blagojevich Superstar.” And because he is insane, the real Rod Blagojevich went to a performance of the show about how he was impeached as governor after being indicted for corruption.

WATCH Letterman Apologizes To Palin: “I Told A Joke That Was Beyond Flawed” (video)

Palin accepts Letterman apology (Politico)
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has accepted David Letterman’s apology on making a bad joke about her 14-year-old daughter. In a statement, Palin says she accepts Letterman’s apology “on behalf of young women like my daughters, who hope men who ‘joke’ about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve.”

State GOP staffer sends racist image of Obama. (Think Progress)
[A] racist e-mail was sent out by a legislative staffer for Tennessee GOP state senator Diane Black. The staffer, Sherri Goforth, e-mailed this composite picture of the country’s 44 presidents, which represents President Obama with only a set of eyes:

The GOP tries Social Networking! (by Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors)
Today we became aware that the GOP should have stopped with mastery of the Fax machine and pagers. It seems that there is something called Facebook that one of the more curious and adventuresome Elephants, South Carolina State Senate candidate Rusty DePass, decided to try his hand:

South Carolina Pol Apologizes for Obama Comment (Political Wire)
A former Republican party official in South Carolina “apologized after his posting on Facebook suggested a gorilla that escaped form a Columbia zoo was an ancestor of first lady Michelle Obama,” reports the Charlotte Observer… “The comment has since been deleted, but DePass confirmed to WIS-TV that he made it, apologizing and saying it was a joke about statements Obama has made about evolution.”

So Americans are moving away from considering themselves on the same side as these racists, right? Wrong:
“Conservatives” Are Single-Largest Ideological Group
(Gallup)
Thus far in 2009, 40% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This represents a slight increase for conservatism in the
U.S. since 2008, returning it to a level last seen in 2004. The 21% calling themselves liberal is in line with findings throughout this decade, but is up from the 1990s.
Despite the fact that Americans consistently support most of the same things as those of us who call ourselves progressives or liberals, they call themselves conservatives. The right-wing media machine is very successful in that regard, and liberals have failed miserably to get their message out.

Bad Predictions (Political Wire)
Ronald Brownstein: “To reread the major political books from the years around Bush’s reelection is to be plunged, as if into a cold pool, back into a world of Democratic gloom and anxiety. Those books were linked by the common belief that Republicans had established a thin but durable electoral advantage that threatened to exile Democrats from power for years, if not decades. Many books from that time assumed Democrats could avoid that eclipse only by adopting the tactics used by Republicans in general and Rove in particular… In fact, by the time most of these books were published, the Republican ‘fortress’ looked more like a crumbling sand castle.”
So just remember this when you hear stuff about Democrats now being invincible: most of these pontificators have no idea what they’re talking about.

Axelrod tells grads why he left journalism for politics (Chicago Sun-Times)
President Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod divulged a few secrets of his college days today as he told 1,300 journalism and other DePaul University graduates to “chase their passions” and not “succumb to the pull of the pull of the practical.”… Axelrod spoke of his start in journalism. “In those days, superb reporting played a historic role in uncovering the truth, shining a bright light on events like Vietnam and Watergate,” Axelrod said. “Journalists heped save the republic, and I wanted to be a part of that. But, over time, things changed. By the mid-1980s, journalism was becoming more business than calling. The front office began to take over the newsroom. The emphasis went from veracity to velocity, from reporting to receipts.” He said that’s when he went into politics.
Congratulations, David, for then helping to make politics more of a business than a calling.

Obama White House Woos New York Times (Politico)
Where George W. Bush’s team made a show of not caring about The New York Times, aides in this White House treat the paper with a deference that James Reston himself would have appreciated. Even routine news stories buried deep inside the A-section often quote high-level sources.

The Obama officials blocking accountability for Bush crimes (by Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory, Salon)
The battle against baseless, worthless grants of anonymity by journalists is, at this point, probably futile, since even many of the nation’s best and most valuable reporters — such as The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer — seem helplessly addicted to it.  In an otherwise solid and at times enlightening article on CIA Director Leon Panetta and his resistance to investigating past CIA abuses, Mayer includes this passage at the beginning of her article to explain how Panetta was chosen only after Obama’s first choice, John Brennan, was rejected:

“A friend of Brennan’s from his C.I.A. days complained to me, ‘After a few Cheeto-eating people in the basement working in their underwear who write blogs voiced objections to Brennan, the Obama Administration pulled his name at the first sign of smoke, and then ruled out a whole class of people: anyone who had been at the agency during the past ten years couldn’t pass the blogger test.’”

What possible justification is there to grant anonymity to someone to spout these clichéd and factually false insults? First, as I’ve documented numerous times and as Mayer herself well knows, the case against Brennan was not that he was “at the agency for the past ten years” or even that he had anything to do with the torture program, but rather that (as she herself documents later in the piece) he explicitly advocated and defended many of the worst torture techniques and other Bush abuses. Second, unlike the individual who is willing to spout these insults only while cowardly hiding behind Mayer’s shield of anonymity, the bloggers who led the opposition to Brennan (including myself and The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan) all attached their names to their views and — as Spencer Ackerman notes – are about as far away as one can be from the trite, adolescent cartoons spewed by Mayer’s anonymous insulter. Third, one of the principal points of Mayer’s long article is that the objections to Brennan have been vindicated, because — as Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser — he has led the way in urging Obama to keep past CIA abuses suppressed and Bush crimes protected from accountability.

Congressional Black Caucus says Sunday shows need more diversity (County Fair, Media Mattes for America)
Over the years Media Matters has released several detailed reports documenting the lack of ideological, racial and gender diversity within the media in general and on the all-important Sunday morning network political talk shows more specifically. Well, [Monday] The Hill reports that the Congressional Black Caucus is calling for increased diversity on the Sunday shows… In the past, the networks have contended that their guest line-ups reflect those in power despite the fact that little changed in 2007 after Democrats took control of Congress.  By their own standard one would expect things to look a little different on Sunday mornings these days.

Truthdig Wins 3 Journalism Awards (Truthdig)
Thanks to the LA Press Club for acknowledging the excellent work of our writers with three Southern California Journalism Awards. Congratulations to Chris Hedges, who won Online Journalist of the Year and Best Online Column, and Scott Ritter, who took home an award for Best Online Feature. Continue reading for the full list of 12 Truthdig finalists and links to the winning and nominated articles.

Carlos Watson Gets 11am Slot on MSNBC (TVNewser, Media Bistro)
Carlos Watson, who officially joined MSNBC as a dayside anchor in March, will be the host of the 11amET hour. His first day was [Monday]… Watson was recently asked not to promote his personal Website, The Stimulist, and although he didn’t mention the site by name, he did bring over one of the features. “Now we’re going to move on to my daily big thought,” said Watson, delivering his take in a segment called “The C-Note.” That name is used for his personal column on The Stimulist, and [Monday’s] topic was taken directly from his June 5th post.

O’Reilly still falsely suggesting he was only reporting that Tiller was “known” as “Tiller the baby killer” (County Fair, Media Mattes for America)

O’Reilly: Walsh’s position on late-term fetuses “has everything to do with destroying human life for trivial reasons” (County Fair, Media Mattes for America)

Did Scientologists Get Fox News Gossip Fired? (New York Daily News)
Did Fox News bow to pressure from Kelly Preston, Tom Cruise, and other members of the
Church of Scientology when it fired entertainment/gossip columnist Roger Friedman? That’s what the journo is expected to charge in a wrongful termination lawsuit this week.

Hannity claims Limbaugh didn’t make fun of Michael J. Fox (County Fair, Media Mattes for America)

Limbaugh proclaims events in “[t]he era of Obama” are “the kind of things that happen in totalitarian regimes” (County Fair, Media Mattes for America)

Limbaugh claims that “global warming is a lie; global cooling is in full swing” (County Fair, Media Mattes for America)

Boortz: People living in Katrina trailers, Section 8 housing and on welfare shouldn’t be allowed to vote (County Fair, Media Mattes for America)

National Review Online Is Sadly Losing Its Chief Source of Batshit Craziness (by John Cook at Gawker)
Kathryn Jean Lopez, who has in the past year led the National Review Online to ecstatic heights of tribal ululation free of reason and unhinged from political reality, is leaving. Going to picket abortion clinics full-time, we presume… Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review’s print edition, will take over Lopez’s duties… The fact that Lowry doesn’t appear to be hiring a replacement—it seems pretty clear from Lopez’ post that his new duties will not be temporary—is a further indication that the National Review is hurting for cash in the wake of Buckley’s death.

Gay rights ordinance up for discussion in Anchorage (McClatchy)
An ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation is again on the Anchorage Assembly agenda Tuesday with some last minute changes by the chairwoman, who is tweaking the controversial proposal to make it more palatable to both sides.

Fertilizer industry finds its alternative energy: corncobs (Truthdig)
American agriculture has become increasingly dependent on foreign sources of natural gas, a key ingredient in the nitrogen fertilizer that farmers use to get high yields of crops such as corn and wheat.

Media Matters for America headlines

Why doesn’t the NYT report AMA’s backtrack on public plan?

Wash. Times reverses meaning of Obama’s comments, falsely claiming he “admitted” doctors will bear brunt of spending cuts

Beck hosts “disenfranchised Democrat” … who’s also apparently an anti-Obama conspiracy theorist

NY Times article on Sotomayor property rights case tells only half the story

Fox News’ Bream ignored evidence undermining Long’s attack on Sotomayor as “extreme”

Beneath picture of Iranian election aftermath, “non-biased” Fox Nation asks if “Obama’s ‘Apology Foreign Policy’” is “failing”

Doocy twisted Biden remark to falsely claim administration backtracking on job creation

NBC’s Guthrie falsely suggests AMA represents “the nation’s doctors”

NY Times left out key facts in report on AMA

Hume, Will use Iranian election to promote long-standing opposition to engaging Iran

Iran bars foreign media from reporting on streets
Iranian authorities are restricting all journalists working for foreign media from firsthand reporting on the streets.

CNN Fail? Network Covers Iran Post-Election More than Any Other Cabler 
With Amanpour’s reporting from the ground and Fareed Zakaria’s heavy focus on the story during “GPS,” the Iran crisis was a major topic on air for the network. Still, as the New York Times notes, “It did not provide the kind of wall-to-wall coverage that some had expected.”

McClatchy almost didn’t send a reporter to Iran
“As the Iranian elections were approaching, we thought long and hard about whether we would send anybody, and for a long time we thought we wouldn’t because it simply costs a lot of money to send a reporter into Iran,” says McClatchy’s Mark Seibel. “Finally we decided that we needed to do it. They were giving out visas, and they aren’t easy to get. But to do that, what we did was cancel a trip for a reporter to
Afghanistan.”

China Orders Patches to Planned Web Filter
Efforts to improve a censorship application suggest that the government still supports its use.

Music cos. vow to show Minn. woman shared 24 songs
The recording industry began its second attempt at proving that a
Minnesota woman engaged in illegal sharing of copyrighted music on the Internet and should be held accountable.

Entertainment & Media Sector Recovery: Might Have To Wait Till 2011: PwC (Paid Content)
PricewaterhouseCoopers is coming out with its omnibus annual entertainment and media sector forecasts…, and the outlook is pretty grim worldwide, though Asia is looking much brighter than the North America and Europe, not surprisingly. According to its Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2009-2013: —The global entertainment & media market as a whole, including both consumer and advertising spending will grow by 2.7 percent compounded annually for the entire forecast period to $1.6 trillion in 2013.
Click through for more highlights.

WaPo’s Brauchli: Evaluating Online Fee Options ‘Prudently’ (Paid Content)
One question that inevitably comes up these days when a top newspaper exec talks online with readers: How can I pay you for online news? (Of course, that shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign that enough readers want to pay for online news to make it work.)  [Monday] was Washington Post Managing Editor Marcus Brauchli’s turn and, while the response didn’t move the needle one bit, it does offer a little insight into the way the paper is approaching the matter: “We’ve certainly considered whether it would be possible to charge for our content online. We fund our news operations from revenues generated largely by advertising. Online advertisers pay for an audience—the larger, the better. If we put up a wall that readers would have to pay to cross, and then readers didn’t cross it, our advertising revenues would probably suffer. So we are, you might say, evaluating our options prudently.”

But the rest of his answer sounds a lot less active in terms of options—and very uncertain that there is one: “That said, just about everybody in the news business is thinking about the question of whether or how to charge for news online. And if there were an answer that made sense for our readers, our advertisers and us, we’d no doubt weigh it seriously.”

Facebook and The Washington Post: More Than Meets the Eye (Mashable)
The Washington Post has pushed out Facebook Connect integration, allowing readers to login to the site using their Facebook credentials as opposed to a WashingtonPost.com account… Currently, The Washington Post uses Pluck to power a variety of social networking features on the site… However, all of these features, frankly, should be powered by Facebook. Facebook Connect would enable The Washington Post to import all of this data from the social network, instantly populating its community with vibrant content. Not to mention, The Post could gain significant traffic, as actions taken within its community – like commenting or chat – could be syndicated back into Facebook…

[O]ther papers should take note of what they could potentially be offering users and advertisers through Facebook Connect. It’s a strong alternative – or at least compliment – to a proprietary registration wall and social network. At present, there would seem to be both a lot of engagement and targeted advertising dollars being left on the table.

Murdoch had the vision to buy MySpace, but he didn’t know what to do with it
MySpace has become a textbook case of how quickly a digital juggernaut can become a has-been, writes Matthew Flamm. The head of a research firm tells him: “It may be that Rupert [Murdoch] is ultimately a newspaper guy. The idea [with MySpace] may have been, ‘We bought you, so make it happen for us.’”

Murdoch-Berlusconi Feud Plays Out in the Media
When Rupert Murdoch and Silvio Berlusconi clash, it is no surprise that the dispute plays out across multiple platforms. In Italy, Berlusconi, the prime minister, has used an interview on one of his own television channels to accuse Mr. Murdoch of mounting a personal attack.

Why Is NYT Editor Bill Keller Writing Front-Page Stories?
“[New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller] had long wanted to visit
Iran,” spokesperson Diane McNulty said, “and the occasion of the election seemed like a great time to do so, accompanying our reporter, Robert Worth. Bill had not planned to write articles, but when the story got so big, he did so.”

Village Voice Media to Launch Niche Ad Network
Village Voice Media, which publishes 15 alternative weekly newspapers across the U.S., is launching a niche online ad network comprised of local blogs and content sites — each of which mesh with the company’s demographics and indie sensibility.

Guild has an “offer of resolution” for Globe management
The Boston Newspaper Guild says it will bring its offer to a meeting Monday with Boston Globe management in an effort to come up with cost-cutting measures the union can support.

What’s The Boston Globe Worth? A Buck, More Or Less (by Ken Doctor, who analyzes the news business on his blog Content Bridges and for Outsell, an information-market analytics firm)
The potential upsides include buying an ad-based franchise at the bottom of a recession and being able to be a shiny, newly painted boat in a rising economic sea; 2010 ad numbers can’t be worse than this year’s… The potential downsides include inheriting a heavy-on-cost business model at a time when competitors from Huffington Post to Politico to local start-ups to emerging online initiatives of local broadcasters threaten to do further damage to daily newspapers. The new business models we’re seeing from the start-ups—small, editor-heavy, full-time staffs, growing legions of part-time reporters, columnists and bloggers, regional aggregation models—stand distant from the model of a paper like the Globe… Add, subtract, multiply, divide, though: the math still comes out pretty much to a buck.

Albany Times Union staffers reject outsourcing plan
By a 125 to 35 vote, employees of Hearst’s Albany paper rejected a plan that the Guild says would have given the company the power to outsource any and all jobs and lay off employees regardless of how long they’ve worked at the paper.

Seattle Times: Sale of Maine newspapers “does not solve the financial challenges we face”
The Seattle Times
Co. didn’t disclose the price paid for Blethen Maine Newspapers. (The Times borrowed $213 million in 1998 for the acquisition.) “We were very reluctant to sell and are very sad about it,” says a spokeswoman. “If it were not for the severe recession, we would not have done so.”

Forbes is being tested as it never before has been
Brother Steve and Tim Forbes “have never been through anything like this, and they will find out if they have the management talent on hand to publish a magazine in this environment,” says former managing editor Dennis Kneale. Forbes is fighting to hang on to its subscribers, reports David Carr.

BusinessWeek Tries Pay Model Online
BusinessWeek will create a special presentation of its print magazine content that will only be available to subscribers. Roger Neal, general manager of BusinessWeek.com, said that while the print content will be available on the site for all to see, subscribers will get a different experience.

MRI Launches First Ratings System for Magazine Print Ads
Mediamark Research & Intelligence (MRI), will begin to measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns that appear in those magazines. The system, called AdMeasure, is “designed to elevate magazine audience measurement granularity to the level of TV and the Internet.”

In Radio These Days, Small Is Better
In the near term, the best positioned radio broadcasters may be those exposed to smaller markets, where competition for ad dollars is less. Average revenue at stations in markets below the top 50 fell 6.6 percent last year compared with around 9 percent for bigger stations.

Clear Channel deal gives musicians Web channels
Artists like the Eagles and Christina Aguilera can now play DJ, at least online.

Virgin Media and Universal launch music service
Virgin Media, the cable TV operator owned by entrepreneur Richard Branson, launched a new kind of music download subscription service Monday with Universal, the world’s largest music company. The service, described by the companies as a world first, will allow Virgin Media’s broadband customers in Britain to stream and download as many songs and albums as they like from Universal’s catalog for a fee.

But entertainment lawyers said the service was unlikely to solve the global music industry’s problem of billions of dollars lost to music piracy, and would need to offer content from big-name entertainers to be attractive to consumers.

Universal To Give Away Unlimited MP3s Via UK ISP (Paid Content)
With 95 percent of the world’s music downloads still estimated to be illegal, the world’s biggest music label is pushing the nuclear-option button. Universal, which has already been offering its catalog through all-you-can-eat DRM’ed services, is now offering the whole thing for MP3 download through an upcoming new unlimited-music package from UK ISP Virgin Media… Virgin said its new offering will be accompanied by a range of measures against illegal file-sharers.

CBSNews.com Relaunches; Still Needs the Traffic Hose (Paid Content)
[CBS] has relaunched CBSNews.com…The new site takes cues from CBS Evening News’ own design overhaul which rolled out a month ago on TV, and from the previous predominatly white background, has moved to a blended white and grey, with a premium on visuals. It starts with the main rotating visual carousel of stories, which as a feature is now becoming standard on a lot of general news sites. The site has also added lot more original content from CBSNews reports and columnists and content partners (Politico, CBS MoneyWatch, Washington Post and WebMD), more robust destinations for each of its news programs, and access to live coverage of breaking news and special events, it says…

Despite all this, CBSNews.com has a big challenge ahead, as it is the smallest in terms of traffic, compared to other network news sites like CNN.com, MSNBC.con and FoxNews.com.

Why moving “Nightline” to 10 p.m. ET makes sense
It could solve the problems of how to make primetime cheaper and what to do with the flagging evening newscasts, says James Poniewozik. “I and plenty of other critics have speculated in the past that, with 6:30 news audiences aging and shrinking, we might eventually see a primetime newscast instead. Putting a show like ‘Nightline’ in primetime could just be a backdoor answer to that issue.”

MGM Touting Low-Cost Programming to Cash-Strapped TV Stations
Nearly eight months ago, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer created a low-cost programming service for television stations called This TV. Stocked with B-level films, the venture serves up vintage fare like Beach Blanket Bingo as well as TV shows such as The Addams Family and The Patty Duke Show.

CBS Walls Off Neighborhood for Reality Show
In the latest reality show “social experiment,” CBS has walled off eight homes in an
Atlanta suburb, forcing the neighbors inside to spend time with each other. “It will be a bizarre [experience] for all of them,” Producer Mike Fleiss said. “This is ambitious as it gets.”

Hollywood Hits the Stop Button on High-Profile Web Video Efforts
Big media’s attempt over the last two years to capitalize on the Internet video phenomenon embodied by YouTube and Saturday Night Live digital shorts has fallen victim to recession-triggered cuts and inflated expectations about the advertising revenue they would command.

YouTube Continues Hulufication, This Time With Ad Choices (Mashable)
YouTube has introduced the option for users to watch either a pre-roll ad (called a Promoted Video) or several in-stream ads. This will affect the longer, full-length content on the site (aka YouTube’s ever-growing number of shows). Essentially, before any ads or video start to play, the option now exists to choose to watch one longer commercial or to watch several smaller ads throughout your video. It’s currently only offered on a small percentage of video plays, but we can expect this to increase if the tests are successful.

Will Investors Leash Arianna Huffington’s Spending? (by Ryan Tate at Gawker)
It’s a bold new future at the Huffington Post: investors have installed their own CEO; a CBS producer will launch a Gotham edition next month. Nevertheless, insiders are murmuring about belt-tightening, starting at the top… The board of directors, nominally in charge of business operations, clashed regularly with Huffington, a HuffPo insider said. “There were moments when the board would say, ‘Absolutely no more spending and hiring,’ and that would be violated.’” “Arianna is always hiring tons of people — five people to do the job one expert could do.”

It doesn’t help matters that Huffington has repeatedly used employees for personal errands, according to former staff. Throw in the recession and the earmark on HuffPo’s recent $25 million capital round — it’s reserved for expansion — and it’s easy to see why costs might be an ongoing conern.

WordPress.com, SocialVibe Partner To Let Bloggers Run Ads—But Only For Charity (Paid Content)
WordPress bloggers who want to generate ad revenue from their content have tradtionally had to upgrade from the free version of the service, to a platform (and domain) that they pay to host themselves. But WordPress parent company Automattic is planning to loosen that ad restriction, so that free accounts can run small ads. The catch is that they’re SocialVibe widgets—meaning that the proceeds go to a charity, cause or community organization—not to the bloggers themselves.

Twitter Delays Scheduled Maintenence for Iran
A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. But, recognizing the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran, last night’s planned maintenance was been rescheduled to today between 2-3p PST (1:30a in Iran).

Google Maps for Android Gains Voice Search & Transit Directions
Google announced three enhancements for Google Maps for Android… 1. Voice search using English in American, Australian, and British accents… 2. Transit and walking direction… 3. Latitude Updates lets you communicate with friends and post messages. This seems to resemble the Dodgeball service Google bought and then let disappear. Note that this Google Maps for Android update needs to be manually selected and downloaded in the Android Market. It is not an automatic update.

Analyst: In Praise Of Yahoo’s Flat Market Share (Paid Content)
In a report [Monday], Citigroup Analyst Mark Mahaney presents Yahoo as a “turnaround story”—and his thesis is premised on the idea that in a “fluid” competitive landscape, flat market share is actually something to brag about for a big internet portal. Mahaney notes that Yahoo’s share of total time spent on the internet hasn’t changed much over the last three years, unlike Microsoft and AOL, which have both experienced a “pretty consistent decline.” So what sites have seen their share rise? Mahaney mentions Google… Mahaney notes that Yahoo has been able to retain its position in major categories, like sports, news, finance and mail—and has now held its share of the search market constant for much of the last year.
Click through for more highlights of the report.

How Yahoo Could Turn Third-Party Apps Into A Big Moneymaker (Paid Content)
So far, the introduction of third-party apps to Yahoo properties has been talked about mostly as a way for the portal to keep users on its own sites for longer. But in a report today, Citigroup Analyst Mark Mahaney raises the possibility that third-party apps could provide a new—and significant—revenue stream for Yahoo, a la the Apple App store. “To the extent that Yahoo is able to serve as a large platform for applications (free and paid), is able to highlight relevant applications to its users, and is able to make the purchase of the paid applications seamless … there is a potentially significant new revenue opportunity here for Yahoo,” Mahaney writes. He adds that app sales—which he refers to as “micro-transapptions” could be a “multi-billion dollar (profitable) revenue opportunity”—with other internet companies, such as AOL, Google and MSN cashing in as well.

About.com Bets On Celebrity ‘Experts’ To Boost Profile; Wolfgang Puck Gets His Image Buffed (Paid Content)
NYTCo-owned guide site About.com is formalizing the use of celebrities among its 800 “expert authors” who dispense advice on everything from acne to zoology. Over the past few months, About has offered a space to celebs like country music star Faith Hill, the New York Knicks’ point guard Nate Robinson, and Oscar-winning actress and author Marlee Matlin… The use of celebrity guest editors has been a popular way of getting some attention… About won’t be paying its celeb guest editors. Instead, it will give personalities who are probably in need of a image boost.

Facebook Chat: 1 Billion Messages Sent Per Day (Mashable)
[Monday], Facebook’s engineering team revealed that Facebook’s instant messaging (IM) system has grown like wildfire. Users now send 1 billion messages every single day. That impressive number becomes even more astounding when you consider that FbChat is barely a year old.

TweetPysch: Twitter Psychological Profiling Has Arrived (Mashable)
Dan Zarrella, a guest contributor to Mashable and a social and viral marketing scientist [has] taken two linguistic methods for unraveling the written word, combined it with the Porter stemming algorithm to reduce words to their base meaning, and created TweetPysch, a simple new service that derives a psychological profile based on a user’s last 1,000 tweets… The site is using the Regressive Imagery Dictionary (RID) and Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count(LIWC) methods to analyze every character and return primordial, conceptional, emotional, and cognitive content.

Microsoft Sues Three in Click-Fraud Scheme
About one in every seven clicks on an advertisement is estimated to be fraudulent, and Microsoft is trying to make that kind of deception more expensive for perpetrators.

Dead Grasshoppers Give Life to Social Media Marketing Campaign (Mashable)
Grasshopper, an 800 phone number provider for small businesses, decided to get the word out about their new name (they did a complete rebrand) by putting together a list of 5,000 of the most influential people in the US and sending them each a package of real chocolate covered grasshoppers with a simple message and video URL… The Grasshopper campaign proved to be very fruitful and buzz circulated on-air and across the web. To date, the company has seen a huge uptake in social media mentions, web traffic, and hopefully new customers. Here are a few notable stats from the campaign:

Turning the Masses Onto Mobile Broadband
Rapid deployment, and mounting Internet traffic, have caused many wireless broadband services to slow down from data overload.

Survey: Family time eroding as Internet use soars
The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California is reporting this week that 28 percent of Americans it interviewed last year said they have been spending less time with members of their households. That’s nearly triple the 11 percent who said that in 2006. These people did not report spending less time with their friends, however. Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the center, said people report spending less time with family members just as social networks like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are booming, along with the importance people place on them.

Opera Unite: Web Browser Becomes the Web Server (Mashable)
Opera has had great success with their mobile browsers, but when it comes to the desktop, their growth hasn’t been phenomenal, despite the fact that Opera, at times, has been the fastest and/or (arguably) the browser with most features. Today, they’re unveiling a new feature. Opera Unite is a web server within a web browser. Instead of just browsing the web, Opera now lets you share files and photos, communicate with other users, chat, and host your web site directly on your own computer.

Media & Politics

Permanent link to MTA daily media news

Elections – Iranian Style (Mario Piperni)

Barack Obama’s Psychology and Foreign Policy – Israel And Iran (Hillary Is 44)
We sympathize with the voters of
Michigan and Florida Iran who have witnessed what is clearly a crooked caucus election delegate court with the preferred candidate of powerful interests and American Iranian Big Media getting delegates in an election he never ran in gifted an nomination election.

Protests Flare in Tehran as Opposition Disputes Vote (New York Times)
The streets of Iran’s capital erupted in the most intense protests in a decade on Saturday, with riot police officers using batons and tear gas against opposition demonstrators who claimed that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had stolen the presidential election. Witnesses reported that at least one person had been shot dead in clashes with the police in
Vanak Square in Tehran. Smoke from burning vehicles and tires hung over the city late Saturday.
It’s too bad about the violence, but it’s good to know that there are places in the world where people don’t just give up and let the powers that be steal elections—or nominations.

Iran’s 2009 Election Results Suggest Massive Fraud…Just Like Ohio’s in 2004 (The Brad Blog)
It sounds a lot like Ohio 2004. A less than popular old-line incumbent facing massive public demonstrations against him and in favor of his main progressive challenger promising reform; polls that suggest a swell of support for the challenger; unprecedented turnout on Election Day; long lines at polling places; paper ballot shortages and names missing from voter rolls; widespread rumors, concerns and evidence of voter intimidation and vote-rigging, all accompanied nonetheless by a general feeling among the populace that the incumbent has been turned out, only to learn from officials, late on Election Night, that the incumbent has been declared the winner of a second term.

Iran supreme leader orders probe of vote fraud (AP)
Iran’s supreme leader ordered Monday an investigation into allegations of election fraud, marking a stunning turnaround by the country’s most powerful figure and offering hope to opposition forces who have waged street clashes to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Stealing an Election, Iranian Edition (Political Wire)
Juan Cole: “I am aware of the difficulties of catching history on the run. Some explanation may emerge for Ahmadinejad’s upset that does not involve fraud… But just as a first reaction, this post-election situation looks to me like a crime scene. And here is how I would reconstruct the crime.”

Iran reformists held after street clashes (BBC)
Up to 100 members of major Iranian reformist groups have been arrested, accused of orchestrating violence after the disputed presidential election.

Report: Defeated Ahmadinejad rival arrested in Iran (Haaretz)
Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was reportedly arrested Saturday following the reformist’s defeat at the polls by hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Supporters of Mousavi, the main challenger to Ahmadinejad, have responded to the election with the most serious unrest in Tehran in a decade and claim that the result was the work of a dictatorship.

Ahmadinejad Re-election a Blow to U.S.-Arab Allies (Wall Street Journal)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announced election victory Saturday could deal a blow to
Washington’s Arab allies, who have been alarmed by Iran’s regional ambitions and hoped his ouster might moderate them.

Iran election result makes Obama’s outreach efforts harder (McClatchy)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s highly disputed reelection victory will complicate President Barack Obama’s push for better relations with the Islamic republic.

Obama’s Iran dilemma (Politico)
The notion of an “Obama effect” sweeping the Middle East appeared to collide with the realities of the Islamic Republic of Iran Saturday, as the country’s confrontational, anti-American president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, celebrated a landslide victory in Friday’s election amid wide doubts about the honesty of the official vote count.

Netanyahu endorses Palestinian independence (AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu endorsed an independent Palestinian state beside Israel for the first time on Sunday, dramatically reversing himself in the face of U.S. pressure but attaching conditions the Palestinians swiftly rejected. A week after President Barack Obama’s address to the Muslim world, Netanyahu said the Palestinian state would have to be unarmed and recognize
Israel as the Jewish state — a condition amounting to Palestinian refugees giving up the goal of returning to Israel. Netanyahu, in an address seen as his reponse to Obama, refused to heed the U.S. call for an immediate freeze of construction on lands Palestinians claim for their future state. He also said the holy city of Jerusalem must remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Violence Up—Way Up—in Afghanistan (Think Progress)
Gen. David Petraeus announced Thursday that violence in
Afghanistan has spiked 59 percent in recent months, hitting its highest level since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. American troops in the country now number 56,000 and will increase to 68,000 in the second half of this year. Petraeus said a coming increase in U.S. military activity signals that the trend of rising violence and casualties will continue.

Pakistan declares war on Taliban leader Mehsud (McClatchy)
Pakistan announced late Sunday that it would fight warlord Baitullah Mehsud in Waziristan in a gamble that will see the Pakistani troops confront the fountainhead of Taliban and al Qaida extremism.

Defiant North Korea ‘to weaponize plutonium’ (CNN)
North Korea said Saturday it would strengthen its nuclear capabilities, a defiant protest against the U.N. Security Council’s move to tighten sanctions against it. North Korea officials said they were enriching uranium and would weaponize all plutonium, according to KCNA, the state-run North Korean news agency. When enriched to a high degree, uranium can be used for weapons-grade material. Plutonium can be used in atomic bombs. These moves are in response to Friday’s U.N. resolution, according to the news agency, which referred to the resolution as a blockade.

Medicare for All (by Mark Thoma at Economist’s View)
Clive Crook [of the conservative Financial Times] says “there are worse things than Medicare for all – and the present system might be one of them”:

Health firms paid Nancy-Ann DeParle $5.8 million (Politico)
The official overseeing White House health care reform efforts earned more than $5.8 million in the past three years from her work for major medical companies, according to a personal financial disclosure and other public records.

Obama’s Campaign on Health Care: Papering Over the Details (by Karen Tumulty, Time)
[A]t a certain point, the President won’t be able to remain so (deliberately) vague about what he wants to see in the final product, and the details of the plan will very much determine whether potential opponents will support him in the end. Nowhere is that clearer than on the controversial question of whether the health-care-reform scheme will include a “public option,” which would give people the choice of being covered under a government-financed program…

The AMA, which is the nation’s leading physicians organization, is not the political force that it once was, but its opposition could nonetheless complicate the push for overall reform. So as much as Obama is trying to stay with broad campaign themes emphasizing the larger need for health-care reform, he’s also going to have to spell out more clearly where he stands on some of its tougher questions. In fact, that kind of reckoning may come as early as Monday, when he reaches the next stop on his health-care campaign trail — a speech at the AMA’s 158th annual meeting in Chicago.

The healthcare war has officially begun (by Robert Reich)
A public option large enough to have bargaining leverage to drive down drug prices and private-insurance premiums is the defining issue of universal healthcare. It’s the only way to make healthcare affordable. It’s the only way to prevent Medicare and Medicaid from eating up future federal budgets. An ersatz public option — whether Kent Conrad’s non-profit cooperatives, Olympia Snowe’s “trigger,” or regulated state-run plans — won’t do squat. The last president to successfully take on the giant healthcare lobbies was LBJ. He got Medicare and Medicaid enacted because he weighed into the details, twisted congressional arms, threatened and cajoled, drew lines in the sand, and went to war against the AMA and the other giant lobbyists standing in the way. The question now is how much LBJ is in Barack Obama.

The big guns are out and they’re firing… Some congressional Democrats are willing and able to stand up to this barrage. Many are not. They need cover from the White House. The President can’t do this alone. You must weigh in and get everyone you know to weigh in, too. Bombard your senators and representatives. Organize and mobilize others. And let the White House know how strongly you feel. This is one of those battles that define a presidency. But more importantly, it’s one of those battles that define the state of American democracy.
Call your congresscritters (both representative and senators). Tell them we’re tired of all the caving to special interests. Tell them we demand what’s best for the most people. Tell them we want single payer.

Sherrod Brown: “I’d Have Trouble Voting For” Health Care Bill Without Public Plan (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
One of the leading progressives in the United States Senate left the impression on Friday afternoon that he would oppose major health care reform if it did not include a public option for insurance coverage… “I would have trouble voting for it without that,” he said of a bill without a public plan. “I would have difficulty supporting any health care plan that doesn’t keep the insurance companies honest.”
More like this, please.

Healthcare senators have industry ties (Boston Globe)
Members of both parties have industry connections, including Democrats Jay Rockefeller and Tom Harkin and Republicans Tom Coburn, Judd Gregg, John Kyl, and Orrin Hatch, financial disclosure reports showed yesterday.

Rangel proposes $600 Million to subsidize health insurance parasites (by DCblogger at Corrente)
Rangel: “Health-Care Reform Needs $600 Million in New Taxes and Will Cost $1 Trillion” Now more than ever it is necessary to write letters to the editor and alert the public that this money is not to expand access to health care, it is to subsidise the failing business model of health insurance parasites. HR 676, Medicare for All would save us $350 BILLION a year. Never let anyone forget that. The proposed new taxes are not for sick people, they are for parasites.

Obama Identifies $313 Billion for Health Care Through Medicaid and Medicare Savings (by  Sunlen Miller and Sarah Tobianski at Political Punch, ABC News)
The $313 billion savings is in large part made up of savings from three big areas:  $110 billion from incorporating productivity adjustments and Medicare payments, $106 billion from reducing disproportionate hospital payments and $75 billion from better pricing of Medicare drugs.

Would you rather have a plan that covers everyone… and doesn’t screw them out of services, while saving money? (by vastleft at Corrente)
Hell, no!  [Emphasis added.] “…Some outside analysts have said that Congress may have to spend $1.5 trillion or more over the next decade to extend coverage to all Americans.”

NPR and the Biggest Obstacle to Health Care Legislation (NPR Check)
Guess what the biggest obstacle to health care legislation is? Could it be the mountains of cash being being poured into Congress by the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies so that they can override public opinion [and physician opinion] favoring government run health insurance? Or might it be obstructionists like Senator Baucus and “moderate” Democrat, Senator Kent Conrad? (or Evan Byah or Ben Nelson or …) According to NPR and Mara Liasson (…and PhRMA) the option of a public (government-run) plan “has emerged as the biggest obstacle to health care legislation.”…

As if Mara Liasson’s Friday morning take on a public plan wasn’t enough, NPR followed her report with Julie Rovner and Steve Inskeep providing their slant on the matter. Inskeep repeats the Republican argument about “this government plan [that] is going to offer a very nice service, which is good, but it’s going to be cheaper than private insurers can manage” and is “actually going to damage, as Republicans say, damage my private insurance company.” Neither Rovner nor Inskeep offers the most obvious response to this argument: if the government can offer a more efficient, cost-effective program than the private sector, what’s the problem?

Co-op Compromise Gives White House a Health Option (AP)
With Republicans fighting the idea of a government-run health insurance plan, members of President Barack Obama’s team said Sunday that they are open to a compromise: a cooperative program that would expand coverage with taxpayer money but without direct governmental control… While supporters from Obama’s left have advocated a government-run insurance option … presidential aides and congressional leaders in both parties have sought a speedy compromise. Leading that pack: the cooperative approach, similar to rural utilities that have government financial support but operate independently.

Sen. Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat who chairs the Budget Committee, has offered the co-op idea as a way to avoid a bruising and protracted political wrangle on Capitol Hill. ”This really isn’t, to me, a matter of right or wrong,” Conrad said. ”This is a matter of: Where are the votes in the United States Senate?” That political situation has guided most of the talks. While Democrats control both chambers of Congress, they have only 59 senators — one short of the number needed to end a Republican filibuster. Even if Al Franken were seated as Minnesota’s second senator, Kennedy and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., are suffering health problems that could preclude them from casting votes to end the procedural delay.
I thought health care wasn’t going to be subject to filibuster. In which case, you don’t need Republican support, Democrats.

Tell your Gov. and state legislator, DON’T WAIT FOR OBAMA! (by DCblogger at Corrente)
“States are pushing ahead with their own reforms instead of waiting for the president to act.”

Something’s Got to Give in Medicare Spending (by Tyler Cowen, thanks to Economist’s View)
Drawing upon the ideas of the Harvard economist David Cutler, the Obama administration talks of empowering an independent board of experts to judge the comparative effectiveness of health care expenditures; the goal is to limit or withdraw Medicare support for ineffective ones. This idea is long overdue… Scholars have been applying comparative-effectiveness research to Medicare for years… If we are willing to take comparative-effectiveness studies seriously, we could make significant cuts in Medicare costs right now. We could cut some reimbursement rates, limit coverage for some of the more speculative treatments, like some forms of knee and back surgery, and place more limits on end-of-life-care.
You mean reduce the fraud? You mean reduce the number of unnecessary tests and procedures? But that would reduce PROFITS! Good idea, but it will take courage. Where is THAT going to come from?

COmmentary: Many health providers’ pledged savings actually boost spending (by Nina Owcharenko at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank)
Ideas such as expanding the use of electronic medical records and health information technology, greater investment in preventive and care management tools, and establishing best practice models are all commonly touted examples of delivery reforms. Unfortunately, most of these savings proposals are unproven and, ironically, some of them actually require more spending. Even the Congressional Budget Office, the score-keeper for Congress, cautioned against depending too heavily on these types of promised savings.

If the administration and Congress are serious about reforming the health-care system by rooting out waste and inefficiencies, their policies should be focused on empowering individuals and families.
How are individuals and families un-empowered now? By for-profit HMOs and insurance companies, which the Heritage Foundation wants to keep in business, so that they can keep contributing to the Heritage Foundation.

Commentary: Health providers can fulfill their pledge to cut costs (by Grace-Marie Turner at Galen Institute, funded by the pharmaceutical and medical industries)
Health spending can be reduced, but it won’t happen in meetings at the White House or in media events. It will happen only by engaging the power of competition and innovation in the private health sector. Market-friendly changes in public policy and countless innovations from the private sector have helped to moderate the rise in health insurance cost, create new models for care delivery and financing, and support the movement toward patient-centered health care.
Isn’t that what we’ve had? And isn’t that exactly what has failed? The Galen Institute also wants to keep the for-profit HMOs and insurance companies in business so that they can keep contributing to the Galen Institute. Are you starting to get the picture here? Our government is FORCING us to pay fees that include profits, some of which are used to support right-wing “stink” tanks that buy Congress to keep their profits going.

The American Empire Is Bankrupt (by Chris Hedges at Truthdig)
There are meetings being held Monday and Tuesday in
Yekaterinburg, Russia, (formerly Sverdlovsk) among Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other top officials of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The United States, which asked to attend, was denied admittance. Watch what happens there carefully… It is the first formal step by our major trading partners to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. If they succeed, the dollar will dramatically plummet in value, the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket, interest rates will climb and jobs will hemorrhage at a rate that will make the last few months look like boom times.

Do you see what I see? [or, what recovery?] (Econbrowser)
Do you see what I see? I’m still looking for, and still not seeing, the economic recovery that everybody is talking about. One bit of good news this week was the Census Bureau report that nominal seasonally adjusted U.S. retail and food services sales rose 0.5% in May. But of the $1.57 billion increase in total spending, almost $1 billion of it came from extra spending at gasoline stations.


Source: FRED.

Americans Get Poorer More Slowly (Barron’s)
According to just-released Federal Reserve data, U.S. household wealth fell by $1.3 trillion in the first quarter, blessedly less than the previous three months’ $4.9 trillion loss, the biggest quarterly decline since such records started being kept all the way back in 1952. But it was the seventh straight quarter of declines, also a record for the series. U.S. jobs rebound is expected to be long, slow and scattered

Projection: It’ll be years before jobs return to much of U.S. (McClatchy)
Unlike the labor market collapse that killed millions of U.S. jobs in a matter of months, the nation’s return to peak employment will not be nearly as uniform nor as swift. While signs indicate that the worst of the recession may be over, only six metropolitan areas across the country are expected to regain their pre-recession employment levels by the end of 2009, according to projections from IHS Global Insight, a leading economic forecaster… Only five areas are expected to see a similar jobs recovery in 2010… Most of the country – 286 of 325 metro areas covered in the IHS analysis – aren’t likely to regain their pre-recession employment levels until at least 2012.

Stay the Course (by Paul Krugman)
A few months ago the U.S. economy was in danger of falling into depression. Aggressive monetary policy and deficit spending have, for the time being, averted that danger. And suddenly critics are demanding that we call the whole thing off, and revert to business as usual. Those demands should be ignored. It’s much too soon to give up on policies that have, at most, pulled us a few inches back from the edge of the abyss.

You Don’t Get a Vote! (by James Kwak at The Baseline Scenario)
The administration’s style has been to float policy proposals in public, listen to the responses (from other politicians, from the private sector, and from the blogs that Obama does not read), and adjust accordingly. When it comes to the financial regulation proposal that Tim Geithner is scheduled to deliver on Thursday, there may be little left after all the adjusting.

[W]hen you are reforming the regulatory structure of an industry where the existing regulators got it horribly, embarrassingly, catastrophically, world-historically wrong, the last thing you want to do is strike a compromise between the positions of the existing regulators. Members of Congress get votes, and they already have enough ties to the banking industry to worry about; letting the regulators, who don’t have votes, shape the deal makes it more likely that the final result will be watered down into nothingness. Which, of course, is exactly what the industry wants.

Regulators Feud as Banking System Overhauled (New York Times)
Two of the nation’s most powerful bank regulators were once again at each other’s throats. At a public meeting three weeks ago, John C. Dugan, the comptroller of the currency, blasted a proposal to impose stiff new insurance fees on banks as unfair to the largest banks, which he regulates. The financial crisis stemmed in part from problems at small banks, he insisted. Sheila C. Bair, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the regulator for many smaller, community banks, could barely hide her contempt. The large banks, she said, had wreaked havoc on the system, only to be bailed out by “hundreds of billions, if not trillions, in government assistance.” She added, “Fairness is always an issue.”…

The long-running and deeply personal feud between Mr. Dugan and Ms. Bair, two Republican holdovers with similar career paths in Washington, is now helping to shape President Obama’s attempt to revamp financial regulation aimed at preventing the regulatory lapses that contributed to the economic crisis. Some of Mr. Obama’s advisers and some senior Democratic lawmakers have suggested creating a single bank regulator. But the administration’s current version, which could be announced as early as this week, would not combine the regulatory agencies. Instead, it would give Mr. Dugan and Ms. Bair significant new powers — and could intensify their turf battles.
Yup, let’s encourage more infighting. It’s a good way to keep anything from being done.

Making Financial Regulation Work: 50 More Years (by Mark Thoma of Economist’s View, writing at The Hearing, Washington Post)
Banking regulation imposed in response to the Great Depression and the recurrent panics of the 1800s and early 1900s gave us 50 years of stability in the financial system without impeding economic growth… What happened? Deregulation beginning with the Reagan administration combined with financial innovation and digital technology led to the emergence of what is known as the shadow banking system. These are financial institutions that, for all intents and purposes, function just like banks but are not subject to the same rules and regulations and, in some cases, are hardly regulated at all…

So what should we do? In very broad terms, we need:
• Regulations that limit both economic and political power and discourage the buildup of excessive risk.
• Regulators willing to assertively enforce existing regulation, think outside the ideological box and take an active role in identifying areas where regulation is inadequate.
• Regulators with the means and power to stand up to the biggest and most powerful financial institutions. Making financial institutions less powerful by breaking them up into smaller entities is one means to this end.
• A culture within regulatory agencies and their supporting institutions that reinforces and encourages the regulatory process.

US House to debate Ron Paul’s ‘Audit the Fed’ bill (The Raw Story)
After months of activism and lobbying by Congressman Ron Paul’s supporters, House Resolution 1207, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, will move out of committee to be debated by the full House of Representatives. In a show of cross-party unity, Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich became the bill’s 218th co-sponsor, pushing it over the threshold for debate in Congress… “The tremendous grass-roots and bipartisan support in Congress for HR 1207 is an indicator of how mainstream America is fed up with Fed secrecy,” said Congressman Paul in a Thursday media advisory. “I look forward to this issue receiving greater public exposure.”

Though the move from committee to full House is sure to hearten supporters, the Senate also has pending before it a bill which would have originally given Congress greater oversight of the Federal Reserve. But in its present form, notes Huffington Post writer Ryan Grim, a recent, ever-so-slight modification essentially ‘neutered’ the bill.
It’s what the powerful powers do every time: Yes, we need reform. We support reform. We support reform so much that we’ll make the rules for reform (which won’t really reform anything, but you won’t know that because the media we own will never tell you).

Fox on 15th (a.k.a. “The Washington Post”) Strikes Again (by Dean Baker)
Departing from normal news practice, the Washington Post put another editorial complaining about President Obama’s deficits on the front page. The subhead says it all: “Concern Mounts in White House as 2010 Elections Loom.” Who is concerned? The story doesn’t tell us. Who says that they are concerned? The story doesn’t tell us. But, the Washington Post wants to highlight the budget deficit, so it won’t let these details stand in the way, after all there were protesters in
Wisconsin calling President Obama a socialist. That’s enough for a front page news story in the Washington Post.

Needless to say, the Washington Post has no problem ignoring completely far larger protests that don’t agree with its editorial agenda, much less putting them on the front page. It is incredible that at a time when close to 15 million people are out of work that the Washington Post can continue to obsess about the deficit. Of course this is also a paper that highlights on the front page that it is now easier to hire nannies. There is no doubt which side the Washington Post is on.

Why a Maine GOP senator is taking on oil speculators (McClatchy)
Oil prices shot past $72 a barrel this week, and a growing number of experts point to Wall Street speculators as a key reason why Americans are suddenly paying a lot more for oil and gasoline. Although soaring oil prices threaten the fragile economic recovery, most Capitol Hill lawmakers have remained silent about them, but not Sen. Susan Collins… Collins has been one of the few on Capitol Hill and even fewer Republicans who blame the rising oil prices in part on Wall Street investors. She and her allies, mostly Democrats, are trying to limit speculative investments in oil and other commodities, but they say they need more support from President Barack Obama.

McClatchy has been reporting for 14 months that speculative investment — not simply supply and demand — has been helping drive oil prices higher.

US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive
Dozens of US cities may have entire neighbourhoods bulldozed as part of drastic “shrink to survive” proposals being considered by the Obama administration to tackle economic decline.
Lambert asks, “Couldn’t we bulldoze Versailles instead?” It’s tempting. It’s certainly tempting.

You’re on the Battlefield Right Now (by Arthur Silber at the Power of Narrative)
My head began exploding when I read the opening paragraph of this NYT article:… “Some administration officials have begun to discuss whether laws or regulations must be changed to allow law enforcement, the military or intelligence agencies greater access to networks or Internet providers when significant evidence of a national security threat was found.”… In other words, you’re on the battlefield this very minute, and your computer might be a deadly weapon. In these circumstances, it’s remarkably shortsighted and selfish of you to think your computer is yours and that you’re entitled to some nambypamby notion of “privacy.” What world are you living in? The Pentagon will decide what you’re “entitled” to. Or not…

[I]f the Obama administration is determined to consolidate and expand the scope and reach of the surveillance state, and it is, the fact that those who may wish to keep watch over a huge range of online activities, all in the name of “cybersecurity,” of course, know what they’re doing should not be a source of comfort for you. It should fill you with dread. And always remember: just as the government will never hesitate to manufacture an alleged justification for its overseas campaigns of terror, so too the government will find some reason, even if it has to concoct it out of less than nothing, if it decides to go after you.

Gays decry Obama’s stand on gay marriage case (AP)
Gay rights groups expressed dismay with the Obama administration Friday over its championing of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law the president pledged to try to repeal while on the campaign trail. The government filed a motion late Thursday to dismiss the case of Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, who are challenging the 1996 federal act. The law prevents couples in states that recognize same-sex unions from securing Social Security spousal benefits, filing joint taxes and other federal rights of marriage.

The Other Side of Justice (The Advocate)
Below are excerpts from an interview conducted with Harvard professor Laurence H. Tribe, who firmly believes DOMA is unconstitutional and would like to see it overturned, and yet is grateful that the DOJ filed a motion to dismiss the legal challenge posed by the ninth circuit court case, Smelt v. United States.

Why Smelt posed a weak legal challenge to DOMA: “As someone who wants to see DOMA dismantled and invalidated, I would love it if this ninth circuit case would evaporate into the ether. Even though I personally believe that DOMA is unconstitutional, I think that this particular lawsuit is very vulnerable; it’s not anywhere near as strong as the one that was brought in the federal district court in Massachusetts [a suit filed by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders]…  A strategic Justice Department interested in a litigation strategy that has some realistic chance of success certainly would not have taken [the Smelt] case as the one in which the constitutional vulnerabilities of DOMA should be explored.
But is that the reason for the Obama administration’s objection to this case?

Obama removes AmeriCorps’s IG in spat with [Obama] friend (Time)
Obama’s move follows an investigation by IG Gerald Walpin finding misuse of federal grants by a nonprofit education group led by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former NBA basketball star.

Enough with the Obamathon (by Bill Maher)
[W]e need to marry the good ideas Obama really believes in with that Bush attitude and Bush certitude. I’d love for Obama to come out one day and say, “Jesus told me to fix healthcare.” Or, “History will decide whether stopping the polar ice caps from melting and drowning us all was a good thing.”… I’m glad that Obama is president, but the “Audacity of Hope” part is over. Right now, I’m hoping for a little more audacity.
What are those “good ideas Obama really believes in”, Bill? I’ve never heard him state unequivocally that he believes in anything. He’s a many handed guy: On the one hand… and on the other hand… You helped to trash Hillary for this guy.

Bush Defends Sotomayor (Political Wire)
In a CNN interview, former President George H.W. Bush defended Judge Sonia Sotomayor: “Said Bush: ‘I don’t know her that well but I think she’s had a distinguished record on the bench and she should be entitled to fair hearings… And she was called by somebody a racist once. That’s not right. I mean that’s not fair. It doesn’t help the process. You’re out there name-calling. So let them decide who they want to vote for and get on with it.’”

Europeans to U.S. on taking Guantanamo inmates: You first (Los Angeles Times)
U.S. officials trying to relocate detainees face skepticism from EU nations, who want to know why the U.S. can’t taken them itself if they pose no risk.

Yoo, Bush Administration Lawyer, Must Face Torture Lawsuit (Bloomberg) – John Yoo, a ex-Justice Department attorney who wrote memos justifying harsh interrogations of terrorism detainees, lost his bid to dismiss a lawsuit blaming him for alleged violations of a detainee’s rights. Jose Padilla, convicted last year of supporting terrorists and conspiring to commit murder, was detained for three years as an enemy combatant in the U.S., where he claims he was subjected to physical abuse. He sued Yoo, who wrote in advisory memos for the Bush administration that terrorism suspects weren’t protected by Geneva Convention bans on physical abuse. Padilla claimed Yoo created a system of torture. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White denied most of Yoo’s motion to dismiss the case, saying even enemy combatants are protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“Like any other government official, government lawyers are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their conduct,” White wrote in the ruling [Friday]. “The specific designation as an enemy combatant does not automatically eviscerate all of the constitutional protections afforded to a citizen of the United States.”

McCollum kicks off Florida race attacking Obama ‘socialism’ (McClatchy)
In his first major speech as the Republican front-runner for governor, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum sought to link his likely Democratic opponent, Alex Sink, with the ”socialism” advocated by President Barack Obama.

Clinton Payback (Political Wire)
“Though it’s largely gone unnoticed — or at least as unnoticed as a former president can possibly go — Bill Clinton has jumped headlong into the 2010 election cycle, deploying his political star power to boost some of his family’s most steadfast allies — many of whom stuck their neck out on behalf of his wife’s presidential campaign,” Politico reports. “No request — or campaign — seems too local for
Clinton in his current loyalty tour.”
But the Clintons are all selfish, and everything. I know because the A-list, so-called progressive bloggers told me so. Oh, and who is Obama campaigning for?

Bush DOJ Failed to Enforce Federal Law Protecting Abortion Providers from Anti-Abortion Extremists (Think Progress)
After the 1993 murder of an abortion provider, Dr. David Gunn, Congress passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which made any use of “force, threat of force or physical obstruction” against doctors and patients a federal crime. The law was an attempt to put an end to the constant wave of death threats, acts of vandalism, and clinic bombings. According to the National Abortion Federation, the “FACE law has had a clear impact on the decline in certain types of violence against clinics and providers, specifically clinic blockades.” Under the Bush Administration, however, criminal and civil enforcement of the law by the Department of Justice declined dramatically

Holocaust Museum Attack Is an Excellent Media Opportunity For Deranged Racists (by John Cook at Gawker)
Why would a right-wing extremist shoot up the
Holocaust Museum? To get the message out. And it’s working—news networks are turning to neo-Nazi John de Nugent for background on James von Brunn. He’s thrilled about the publicity.. [As Rachel] Sklar notes, de Nugent has turned up on ABC News, CBS News, Fox News Channel, the Washington Post, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Bloomberg, the Associated Press, and the BBC to offer his insights into von Brunn and the vicious right-wing extremist views that the two men share.

De Nugent is reveling in his media moment. He even made sure that his interlocutors described him according to his own deranged taxonomy, as opposed to the truth: “I am also happy to say that most media more or less correctly called me a ‘white separatist’ and NOT a ‘white supremacist’ after I made that point crystal-clear.”… P.S. Along with being a right-wing extremist, it also appears that von Brunn was a Republican.

Jamiol’s World

Socially Unacceptable (by myiq2xu at The Confluence)
Remember a couple weeks back when Barack, Michelle and their media entourage flew to
New York City one Saturday night for dinner and a show?  Imagine what would have happened if the following week David Letterman did a “Top Ten” list of the worst moments of their trip and said this: “Number 2 – Finding out that the restaurant didn’t serve fried chicken and watermelon“ Not only would Letterman be retired right now, but so would the writers and producers of his show and the head of CBS would be offering profuse apologies to the Obamas… But it’s still permissible to call a woman governor “slutty,” at least as long as you pretend you were just joking.

Could Letterman benefit from his attacks on Palin? (by Alegre)
Seriously?  [An] AP writer found a new and offensive twist on Letterman’s attacks on Palin’s daughter.  I mean this guy actually thinks Letterman could come out ahead of the game after his offensive behavior… Unreal. Attack a woman on national television with vile and hateful “jokes” – laugh about her daughter getting knocked up and call her a slut and you’re everybody’s hero.  When are we going to stop rewarding people for sexist attacks on women?  

Fox & Friends Terrified of Ex-Gitmo Bartenders (by Pareene at Gawker)
The good people of Fox & Friends (which ones are Fox and which ones are the friends?) are outraged that their vacations might be endangered by four innocent men recently freed from years of wrongful imprisonment!… [W]e cannot send them back to
China, because they will be tortured and executed. We cannot send them to America, because America is scared of people it wrongfully imprisoned for years without cause or due process. We cannot send them to some random other country, because who would want them? What a pickle!

Well it turned out that we could just send a couple of them to Bermuda, a little island inhabited by tropical drink umbrella peddlers and cruise ships. Now Bermuda is a “dependency” of the UK but the UK’s mild objections to this little relocation are basically unimportant. Especially compared to the very reasonable and important points brought up by Steve Doocy, the lady, and the guy who isn’t Steve Doocy. “We better warn Geraldo they could be coming to Puerto Rico!” Sure!

“Do you want to go to a place where that guy over there, in the sombrero, was actually trained in a terror camp in Afghanistan?” What a good point! No, I don’t want to go to this weird Mexican restaurant in Bermuda, with the Chinese Muslim staff! I’d imagine the food would be terrible!

British Vogue Editor’s Lame PR Coup: No More Size Zeros! (by Foster Kamer at Gawker)
The ground zero of Size Zero is here. Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue, called out a bunch of prominent fashion designers for encouraging Size Zero models… How was this problem not in their control before? And why couldn’t Shulman extend her influence privately? She could’ve had conversations with these designers, who she can probably call up to her office whenever, rather than a poorly guarded, “leaked” letter. One aimed at winning a populism vote from an economically distressed public. Who could care less about fashion right now. Really, it’s a brilliant play.

Scarborough: “I also don’t think that we win the middle … by calling Barack Obama a communist or by calling Sotomayor a racist” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Media Matters for America headlines

Doocy twisted Biden remark to falsely claim administration backtracking on job creation

NBC’s Guthrie falsely suggests AMA represents “the nation’s doctors”

NY Times left out key facts in report on AMA

Hume, Will use Iranian election to promote long-standing opposition to engaging Iran

McLaughlin Group further crops NY Times clip of Sotomayor’s affirmative action comments

Disappearing Bush: WSJ falsely suggests Obama admin. took over Fannie, Freddie, AIG

Conservative media blast Krugman for column about right-wing extremism

Fox, MSNBC air NY Times’ cropped video of Sotomayor’s affirmative action comments

Responding to Krugman, Beck claimed of FEMA conspiracy theories: “Never said anything like it”

Cavuto again misleads on DHS report

Iran Cracks Down on Western Media as Protest Spreads
Iranian authorities criticized international media reports and took steps to control the flow of information from independent news sources as anti-government protests raged in the country for a second day Sunday.

CNN Debates Twitter’s Relevance While Ignoring Important World Events Being Reported on Twitter (by The Cajun Boy at Gawker)
Over the weekend CNN’s Howard Kurtz asked
America the burning question, “are we going overboard with this Twitter business?” Meanwhile, CNN virtually ignored an event overseas with the potential to alter world history, an event reported extensively by Twitter users… Twitter served as a vital mode of Iranian citizen communication and as a channel to the outside world after the government shut down much of the web and blocked virtually all cell phone communications… Meanwhile, Howard Kurtz had Rick Sanchez and sportswriter Gregg Doyel on Reliable Sources for an utterly useless but incredibly ironic debate over Twitter’s relevance.

#CNNfail: Twitter Blasts CNN Over Iran Election (Mashable)
Twitter users blasted CNN this weekend for a lack of coverage of the
Tehran protests, with Iranian citizens claiming ballot fraud and taking to the streets. Twitter has proven a powerful tool for spreading news of developing events in the country, but it has also taken on the role of media watchdog: thousands of Twitter users adopted the hashtag #CNNfail to highlight a lack of Iran coverage from the news organization.

World of Risk for a New Brand of Journalist
Freelancers and others on unconventional assignments for start-up news organizations may find fewer resources to help them when they are in danger.

Glitches seen in China’s web filtering software
The designers of controversial Internet filtering software that
China has ordered shipped with all new computers said they were trying to fix security glitches in the programme.

800,000 callers phone digital TV hot line
The Federal Communications Commission said that about 317,450 calls went into the help line, 1-888-CALL-FCC, on Friday alone, the day analog signals were cut off. Another 102,000 came in Saturday by
6 p.m. Eastern time. The total is still below the 600,000 to 3 million callers that the FCCexpected in early March would call on transition day.

Cross-ownership stay upheld.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals keeps its stay on the FCC’s revised media ownership rules allowing newspaper-broadcast ownership in the top 20 markets. On Friday, Chief Judge Anthony Sirica told attorneys to file status reports October 1. Critics expect the new Democratic FCC will reverse course.

NYT: Privacy may be a victim in cyber plan
The Obama administration’s plan to create a new Pentagon cybercommand is raising privacy and diplomatic concerns.

Accused Facebook Spammer Could Face Jail Time
An alleged spammer could face jail time in connection with a Facebook lawsuit after a judge referred him to the U.S. Attorney General’s Office for criminal proceedings.

Man accused of using Craigslist to arrange wife’s rape
A 39-year-old man was charged Friday with raping a woman through an arrangement police say he made with her husband on Craigslist. The victim’s husband is also in jail, also charged with rape.

Knight Foundation sets aside $15 million for investigative reporting
At a time when newsrooms are shrinking and enrollment at journalism institutions is declining, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced a $15 million initiative to spur investigative reporting.

AP Pilot Program Will Distribute Nonprofit Watchdog And Investigative Journalism (Paid Content)
Four nonprofit watchdog and investigative journalism organizations will have their work distributed by the Associated Press to its 1,500 members as part of a six-month pilot project that starts July 1. The project, [announced Saturday] at the 2009 Investigative Reporters & Editors conference, is meant to encourage “public service” journalism—being seen more often today as a way to combat the gaps in newsroom budgets and staffs—by expanding the nonprofits’ reach and providing members with articles for publication at no cost to either. The first four are the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Center for Public Integrity, the Investigative Reporting Workshop and ProPublica.

Being available via a dedicated section of AP Exchange, the content management system that newspapers use to receive content from AP, syndications and each other, literally should make it easier for the nonprofits’ work to be published, which in turn makes it more likely newspapers will use it. The project will be evaluated and, if extended, may include other nonprofits.

‘Globe’ Potential Buyer Has Been Subject of Paper’s Critical Stories
Jack Connors’ company, Partners HealthCare, was the subject of an in-depth, three-part Globe series in late 2008 that claimed Partners contributed to the rising cost of health care in the area. “Partners became what some called the ’800-pound gorilla’ of
Massachusetts healthcare, able to bend insurers to its will,” one story stated.

Kindle Joins a Literary Ritual: Authors Can Autograph It
At a recent reading in
Manhattan by David Sedaris, a reader presented his electronic-book device for the author to sign.

A New Entry Stakes Out Low-Budget Film
A group of entertainment professionals is establishing DF Indie Studios, a movie company that will focus on films with budgets of up to $10 million.

Porn industry healthcare clinic not cooperating, public health officials say
Public health officials said [Thursday] they have had no cooperation from the adult entertainment industry health clinic that recently confirmed a porn actress had tested positive for HIV, hampering their efforts to investigate how she contracted the virus.

Diary upgrades without rate hikes.
Arbitron has announced a series of steps to improve the diary methodology over the next year. They estimates it will cost $10 million to implement the changes, and so far the company’s is cutting costs instead of increasing rates. One factor: Nielsen’s return to radio.

FCC set to adopt AM on FM rules.
There’s been heavy lobbying over the last two months about whether AM stations using FM translators should be granted permanent status, and it appears the FCC will take action at its July 2 meeting. Broadcasters say it’s already making a difference in some markets — but LPFM activists worry it may mean fewer stations for them.

Clear Channel Launches Online Radio Player (by Rachel Kaufman at MediaJobsDaily, Media Bistro)
Clear Channel has launched iheartradio.com, an ad-supported online radio player that allows consumers to listen to 350 different am/fm stations and Clear Channel’s entire library of on-demand audio and video programming… [I]n the Sirius/XM/ITunes era, will anyone bite? And besides, won’t all the Clear Channel stations in the country be playing the same song? (Rim shot!)

Rumor: Facebook to “Undo” Twitter-like Homepage (by Adam Ostrow at Mashable)
Earlier this year, when Facebook moved towards a more Twitter-like homepage that focuses on status updates, the opposition was fierce – so much so that the company quickly responded to criticism and announced some changes they’d be making to bring back the features that users were missing… Why the change? Well, it turns out a lot of Facebook’s 200 million users aren’t like us – keeping the site open constantly or watching updates stream in real-time through a desktop client like TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop. In turn, the concern is that these less active users are missing out on a lot of updates from friends, which, means less value from the service.

Adobe’s Acrobat.com Collaboration Services Emerge From Beta
Adobe Systems on Monday will move its Acrobat.com Web-based productivity and collaboration services out of beta and offer for-fee subscriptions to provide what the company hopes will be a new way for business users to collaborate on document creation.

Is Google About To Introduce A Microblog Search Offering? (Paid Content)
The Google Operating System blog reports that the company will launch a search service that will index content from Twitter and other microblogging sites, similar to Google’s current blog search offering. Results would also be incorporated into Google’s main web results. Google Operating System (which is not associated with Google) does not cite sources for its story but does note a recent Google listing, which refers to “Google’s MicroBlogsearch” and mentions Twitter as “the popular service associated with this format.” As the blog notes, it also wouldn’t be too surprising for Google to launch a way to search Twitter, considering that Google’s Marissa Mayer has said that that the company is “interested in being able to offer … micro-blogging and micro-messaging in our search.”

Google Wants Artists to Work For Free, Is it Wrong? (by Stan Schroeder at  Mashable)
Google has called prominent illustrators to create new skins for Google Chrome, but there’s catch: they’re not offering them any money. Similar to how artists created artwork for iGoogle, Google is not planning to compensate them for the work they’ll do for Chrome; instead, they believe these projects are a good promotion for the artists. This has provoked a lot of negative comments from prominent illustrators, who think that a (very) profitable company such as Google should pay them for their work… However, even professional illustrators and designers should understand that they don’t get paid for these types of projects because Google is cheap, but because there’s a huge community of artists who have been doing it for free for years.
Yes, let’s destroy the possibility for artists to make a dime, TOO. Good idea. Everybody works for nothing, nobody can buy anything, economy is totally destroyed. Besides, how long will it be before the IRS catches on and starts taxing these bartering deals?

On Web and iPhone, a Tool to Aid Careful Shopping
GoodGuide is a Web site and iPhone application that lets consumers dig past the marketing spiel by discovering a product’s health, environmental and social impacts.

A World Without Local Car Dealer Ads?
Autos No Longer the Top Individual Spender on Spot TV

‘Bing’ Ballmer Says, ‘Don’t Drink That Poison Google Milk!’ (by Simon Dumenco at Advertising Age)
Five Ways to Find Meaning in Microsoft’s Branding of ‘Decision Engine’ Without Really Even Searching for It

Bigger Budgets Ahead For Viral Campaigns—Ad Nets, Not So Much (Paid Content)
Expect an influx of experimental social media campaigns (like Ford’s Fiesta Movement) to crop up over the next six months—as a majority of marketers recently told Forbes that they’d be increasing their viral marketing budgets at the expense of other tactics. About 42 percent of survey respondents said they’d spend more on viral campaigns later this year. Marketers were also bullish on SEO, with 40 percent saying they’d spend more. The one channel we’ll see a marked decrease in spending in is ad networks.

Providing Cellphones for the Poor
A federal program providing subsidized phone service now offers cellphones, showing how much society values them.

SingTel launches music service for mobile phones
SingTel,
Southeast Asia’s largest telco, on Sunday launched in Singapore a service that lets mobile subscribers download music files and videos which it hopes to introduce to other parts of Asia.

Mobile money to poor seen $5 billion market in 2012
The market of mobile financial services to poor people in emerging markets will surge from nothing to $5 billion in 2012, U.S.-based microfinance policy and research center CGAP said on Monday.

Nokia launches new touch-screen music phone
Top cellphone maker Nokia launched three new handsets on Monday, including a new touch-screen model to follow its successful 5800 phone.

Media & Politics

Permanent link to MTA daily media news

White House

Obama in Green Bay: Broke no new ground; said Medicare/Medicaid on course to breaking Federal budget (by jawbone at Corrente)
Alas, the speech is the usual Obama points about health insurance reform: His list of reasons for change lead inexorably to single payer, but he just can’t do it. Won’t do it. Would be “disruptive.”… Obama begins by discussing socialized medicine and, after a few sentences, says that single payer is not socialized medicine. Then he repeats his lament that since we have a different system in place, it’s impossible to go with single payer. Altho’ he has said in his answer that Medicare is an example of single payer!

COWARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Democrats hint compromise to win Senate health care deal
(McClatchy)
Senate Democrats are offering to scrap a controversial government-sponsored health insurance provision in an effort to win more than a dozen moderate and conservative Republican votes to extend health care coverage to nearly 46 million uninsured Americans.

Should Health Care Reform Be Bipartisan? (by Ezra Klein, Washington Post)
Are 10 Republican votes worth lowering the subsidies from 400 percent of poverty to 300 percent of poverty and leaving out, say, eight million Americans? Are five Republican votes worth leaving out eight million Americans? Two Republican votes? It would be nice if someone published a table or something.

Co-op Health Plan Emerging as a Senate Option (by Robert Pear at The Caucus, New York Times)
Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who is chairman of the Finance Committee … said Thursday that the public plan could take the form of an insurance cooperative, owned and operated for the benefit of its members. “I am inclined, and I think the committee is inclined, toward a co-op,” Mr. Baucus said. “It’s not going to be public, we won’t call it public, but it will be tough enough to keep insurance companies’ feet to the fire,” Mr. Baucus said of the co-op.
Isn’t that what Blue Cross and Blue Shield were supposed to be? Look how well that worked out.

“Strong public option” = “peace in our time” (by vastleft at Corrente)
Once you accept the “public option” frame, it’s “goodnight, nurse!” for real health-insurance reform. It’s only happening about everywhere in the liberal blogosphere. OTOH, maybe a compromise with the Blue Dogs, Republicans, and death-by-spreadsheet crowd will work out just fine. It would be irresponsible not to equivocate.

Going Postal: Reid’s New Defense of Public Health Care (The Note, ABC News, thanks to Alegre)
“I’m confident both private companies and the option of public plan can live in harmony,” Reid said on the Senate floor [Thursday]. “When you send a birthday present to a relative to — say I want to send something to one of my children in Nevada, the products that I choose can be sent by FedEx, UPS, DHL, or the United States Postal Service… The Postal Service may not be perfect, but the public option is there, and the private companies, FedEx, UPS, know they cannot rip you off or [be] slacking on their service,” Reid said.

Health Care Overhaul Opponents Use Selective Stats (All Things Considered, NPR)
It’s become one of the most commonly cited statistics by opponents of the health overhaul being put together by Democrats in Congress: Creating a new government-run public health insurance plan would result in 119 million people losing their private insurance… The point of the study was to show that the number of people who would eventually join a government-sponsored public insurance plan would vary — dramatically — depending on how that plan is designed… For example, Sheils says, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York “has a plan which would require the public program to pay private payer rates — the same rates that other private insurers have to pay — and under that scenario we get only between 10 and 12 million people dropping private coverage.”

Good Gravy. Grassley calls Schumer’s plan “obnoxious” (by Alegre)
At least Nancy Pelosi is standing up for the public option.  She’s taken a head-count and told HuffPo that she won’t have the votes to pass a reform bill unless it includes a public option.  She also said that Conrad’s compromise (a system of co-ops) won’t be enough.  It’s got to include a public option or no deal. Meanwhile Grassley continues to be the mouthpiece for the party of NO when it comes to health care reform:  ”No public option, no employee mandate to either provide insurance or pay a penalty, and nothing that leads to rationing of health care.”  If you stick to Grassley’s criteria here we won’t have ANY changes to our current (and messed up) system.  

Well I’ve got news for Grassley… we’ve already got rationing.  With nearly 50 million Americans living without access to health care services, I defy him to show us how anything they could do in Congress could make things worse than they already are. 

Obama Reasserts Support For Public Plan While AMA Backtracks On Opposition (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
[Obama’s remarks in Green Bay] came just several hours after the American Medical Association said it would oppose a public option for coverage. But in a reflection of just how delicate this debate has become, the 250,000 member physician group largely backtracked from its opposition later in the day. “Make no mistake: health reform that covers the uninsured is AMA’s top priority this year,” a clarifying statement from the group read. “Every American deserves affordable, high-quality health care coverage.

How much clout will labor have in health care debate? (McClatchy)
This should be labor’s big moment: a Democratic White House and Congress poised to overhaul the nation’s health care system. Despite spending more than $113 million to help elect their ideological allies last November, unions are having a challenging time getting their way on Capitol Hill.

Randall Terry’s Free Beer, Wings, and Hate Party Not Well-Attended (by Pareene at Gawker)
Anti-abortion radical Catholic Mullah Randall Terry threw a press conference with free chicken wings and Guinness for journalists, yesterday. It did not boost attendance, really.

NRO’s Andrew McCarthy doesn’t read too good (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Over at The Corner, McCarthy’s busy bashing the Department Homeland Security that warned about possible acts of anti-Semitic violence from lone wolf white supremacists, just like the one that struck the Holocaust Museum. Y’know, the report  that also warned about right-wing domestic terrorists, like the one who is accused of assassinating abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, and the right-wing gun nut charged with killing Pittsburgh cops. But McCarthy’s angry because despite that obvious trend of far-right attacks, he’s sure the DHS report, which warned about precisely that kind of violence, was somehow off the mark.

Limbaugh: Obama “thrives and needs chaos”; people on the left “excited” by Holocaust museum shooting (County Fair, Media Matters for America)
As always, accusing others of his own nefarious motives.

Limbaugh: Obama is “ramping up hatred for Israel, … Jewish people” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Limbaugh on Holocaust museum shooter: “This guy is a leftist if anything” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Limbaugh adds: “This guy’s beliefs, this guy’s hate stems from influence that you find on the left, not on the right.”

“Anti-Jew rhetoric … comes from the American left” and “circle of people close to” Obama (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Liz Cheney falsely claims Obama hasn’t said ‘I believe in American exceptionalism.’ (Think Progress)
Liz Cheney continued her seemingly unending campaign to flood the American media, and once again, she said something that isn’t true. This time, on CNN last night, she criticized the Obama administration for being “focused on the president’s popularity overseas.” “We’ve now seen several different occasions when he’s been on the international trips, where he’s not willing to say, flat out, ‘I believe in American exceptionalism,’” Cheney complained. But of course, Obama has said this.
Yes, and that’s one of the things I DON’T like about him. Click through to watch a video compilation.

Death Talkers (by William Rivers Pitt, Truthout)
Last March, Fox News personality Sean Hannity ran a poll on his web site asking readers what kind of revolution they’d prefer: military coup, armed rebellion or war for secession?… A month later, conservative radio host Glenn Beck accused President Obama of lifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research in order to begin genetic development of a new master race… Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has accused the Obama administration of actively seeking to destroy the country by aiding terrorism and embracing socialism…

Where is all the fear and violence gaining inspiration? The same places it has been for a while now. Those right-wing media people keep talking, and people keep getting killed. Coincidence?

The Big Hate (by Paul Krugman)
[F]or the most part, the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. haven’t directly incited violence, despite Bill O’Reilly’s declarations that “some” called Dr. Tiller “Tiller the Baby Killer,” that he had “blood on his hands,” and that he was a “guy operating a death mill.” But they have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House. And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.

Conservatives Attack Shepard Smith, Call For His Firing (by The Cajun Boy at Gawker)
Well you just knew that Shepard Smith’s off the reservation intellectual honesty at Fox News would backfire… Reporting [Wednesday] after the shooting at the Holocaust Museum, Smith credited the accuracy of a recent Homeland Security warning about violent, right-wing hate groups on the rise. He also mentioned an influx of nutty emails being sent into Fox. For this, he has drawn scorn… The conservative blog Atlas Shrugs went all the way in calling for Shep’s head in a post titled, .”Please Shepard Smith Out the Door”… And World Net Daily, the most widely-read conservative site online, launched a blistering attack, essentially insinuating that Shepard Smith is a closet crazy person capable of snapping just like James von Brunn did…

Meanwhile, Smith talked by phone to an ex-wife of James von Brunn on his show today, who said that his hatred for Jews and blacks began “in New York, when he worked there at an advertising agency.” Very fitting.

Holocaust Museum Shooter Von Brunn’s Digital Trail Disappears (Washington Post, via Democarcy in Action)
James von Brunn’s online presence began to vanish within hours after he was named as the suspect in the Holocaust Museum shooting.

DHS Urged To Expedite Updated Report On Right Wing Extremism (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Amid howls that it had politicized national security, DHS stepped back from a mid-April report it had issued on domestic threats from fringe right-wing groups… Several weeks later, the findings of the original study have been proven prescient, specifically in its warnings about violent acts from anti-abortion zealots and anti-Semites. Now, demands for that follow-up have grown more urgent.

AL QAEDA IS RECRUITING WHITE GUYS (The Stimulist, thanks to Gawker)
White guys are … playing an increasingly important role in Al Qaeda. Last January, an article in The Scotsman reported that “senior security sources” inside the British government claimed that Al Qaeda has recruited “as many as 1,500 white Britons.” Many of these new recruits were reportedly converted to Islam by radical fundamentalists while in prison. Some experts doubt the existence of this so-called “white army of terror,” but Al Qaeda is definitely embracing the powers of diversity.

Adding white men could make the group more dangerous than ever, says New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright, an Al Qaeda expert who wrote The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. “If Al Qaeda can transcend its stereotype,” he told us, “than they will become a lot more difficult to police.”

Matt Davies

Obama Bows on Settling Detainees (Washington Post)
The Obama administration has all but abandoned plans to allow Guantanamo Bay detainees who have been cleared for release to live in the United States, administration officials said yesterday, a decision that reflects bipartisan congressional opposition to admitting such prisoners but complicates efforts to persuade European allies to accept them.

Let’s Hear It for Fear (by Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
It’s not just that the Republicans are successfully fearmongering that has me so pissed off about this, or that the media didn’t challange them every step of the way. It’s that so many goddamned Dems helped them put the “bi” in bipartisan. Yes, let’s hear it for those Dems who live and die by the prevailing winds of public opinion – who would never dream of actually educating the voters instead of knuckling under to their uninformed emotions. You go, Weathervane Dems! Woo hoo!

Boehner: GOP Preparing Major Attack On Obama For Mirandizing Terrorists (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Buried in [an] interview that John Boehner did with ABC News is a preview of the Next Big And Very Scary GOP National Security Attack: A full-scale assault on the White House for Mirandizing terrorists. Boehner told ABC that national security was Obama’s Achilles heel, then added: “‘I think most Americans will be appalled that we’re providing Miranda rights to terrorists,’ Boehner predicted. ‘This thing is going to bubble up big.’”… Interestingly, Boehner’s call to arms came after it emerged that no less a national security luminary than David Petraeus said he had “no concerns at all” about the Mirandizing of terrorists. Not even Petraeus’ word can dissuade Republicans from taking this tack.

Robert Gates And Hillary To GOP Leaders: You’re Putting Our Security At Risk (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton are now thrusting themselves into the raging fight over the White House’s request for Congressional cash for the International Monetary Fund, demanding in a letter that GOP leaders back the funding or put our security at risk… In the letter, Gates, Clinton and a third signatory, National Security Adviser James Jones, say the IMF plays a key role in reducing the “security risks” the crisis “poses to our nation and the world.” The crisis, it says, risks destabilizing foreign economies, producing “unforeseeable reactions.”

U.S. Officials Say There are Indications North Korea is Preparing for a Third Nuclear Test (by Luis Martinez at Political Punch, ABC News)
U.S. officials say there are indications that North Korea may be preparing for a third nuclear test. A U.S. official tells ABCNews,“We can’t rule out the possibility that North Korea will detonate another nuclear device. There are signs that they may be considering this, but it’s unclear if ultimately they will go through with a test. All options appear to be on the North Korean regime’s table.”

Rivals in Iran both claim victory in election (AP)
Iran‘s state news agency is reporting that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has won re-election, but a reformist rival is also claiming victory. The rival claims came even before the close of polls on Friday. Official results are not expected until Saturday.

Stocks slip as investors await signs on economy (AP)
Stock are moderately lower as investors weigh recent signs of economic recovery and wonder what will be able to take the market higher

Wall Street’s Toxic Message (by Joseph E. Stiglitz)
[Among the legacies of the current economic crisis] … will be a worldwide battle over ideas—over what kind of economic system is likely to deliver the greatest benefit to the most people. Nowhere is that battle raging more hotly than in the Third World, among the 80 percent of the world’s population that lives in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, 1.4 billion of whom subsist on less than $1.25 a day… While there may be no winners in the current economic crisis, there are losers, and among the big losers is support for American-style capitalism. This has consequences we’ll be living with for a long time to come.

Geithner Said to Tell Bernanke Fed Gains Most in Rules Overhaul (Bloomberg)
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Chairman Ben S. Bernanke in a June 9 meeting the administration will call for the Fed to be the regulator of firms deemed too big to fail, one of the people said. While a council of regulators would share oversight of financial risks, Treasury officials describe it as weak, lacking power to make final decisions on intervening with the firms, the people said.

Bailout Bank Execs Get Payouts (by Paul Kiel at ProPublica)
[Wednesday], the Treasury Department released new rules  on how much banks that received TARP money can pay their executives. Among the rules is one that prohibits golden parachutes – defined as any payment to a departing exec simply because the exec is leaving. But an examination of public filings shows that a number of executives at banks that received TARP funds have received large payments just for resigning. It’s unclear if the new rules will apply retroactively.
Click through for a rundown of these execs and the payouts they received.

‘Compensation Czar’ to Oversee Exec Pay (Truthdig)
The Obama administration on Wednesday enthroned Washington lawyer Kenneth Feinberg as its “compensation czar,” whose job it will be to oversee the salaries and bonuses of 175 top executives of our beloved bailed-out financial firms, including AIG, Citibank, Bank of America and GM. The White House’s initial call to cap executive pay at $500,000 is no longer on the menu.

Scrutiny of Bank of America’s Merrill purchase intensifies (McClatchy)
Lawmakers blitzed Bank of America chief executive Ken Lewis on Thursday about why he didn’t alert shareholders to the deepening troubles behind his deal to buy Merrill Lynch and about whether he tried to pass blame to regulators.

Rove: Bush Administration Has ‘No’ Responsibility For Current Budget Deficits (Think Progress)
[Wednesday] night on Fox News, former top Bush adviser Karl Rove chastised President Obama for his economic recovery package Congress passed last February and criticized him for his new proposal to enact “pay as you go” budgeting rules — paying for spending increases by either raising taxes or budget cuts. “This is a cosmetic gesture. This guy is going to run up a $1.8 trillion deficit. That’s what it’s projected to be this year,” Rove complained. But when host Greta Van Susteren asked if the Bush administration is responsible for any of the deficit, Rove replied, “No.”
Click through to watch the video.

Power Problem (by Dean Starkman, Columbia Journalism Review)
We need to learn the lessons of the past eight years or so, even if the press doesn’t want to go along, and re-examine, from top to bottom, all the firewalls that were supposedly designed to protect us from precisely the financial catastrophe that has just occurred. These firewalls start with risk managers, officers, directors, etc., within the financial institutions, then extend outward to accounting firms, rating agencies, regulators, and yes, journalists.

Poll: GOP risks loss of respect if it goes after Sotomayor (McClatchy)
Republicans may have a window of opportunity to turn public opinion against President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee, but a new poll finds that such a campaign could hurt their party’s already weak standing with Americans, especially Hispanics, the nation’s fastest-growing voter group.
When did the right wing ever care about loss of respect? All they care about is scaring everybody into doing what they want.

Senate, 79-17, approves tough FDA regulation of tobacco (McClatchy)
Government would have broad new authority to regulate tobacco products, slash nicotine content and restrict advertising under historic legislation approved overwhelmingly Thursday afternoon by the Senate.

Senators who opposed tobacco bill received top dollar from industry (McClatchy)
Among the 17 senators who voted against allowing the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco are some of the top recipients of campaign contributions from the tobacco industry, which has donated millions of dollars to lawmakers in the past several campaign cycles.

Think of the Lobbyists (Political Wire)
Polls show New York Gov. David Paterson (D) as one of the least popular governors in the nation and the leadership revolt in the state Senate isn’t helping improve his stature. The governor has been “largely relegated to the sidelines” in the dispute, reports the New York Times.  However,
Paterson made “one of the more unusual pleas for sanity” when he asked lawmakers to “think of the lobbyists” in urging their return to the Senate. He went on to explain that they had worked hard “to persuade legislative leaders and legislators of issues.”

Following Joke, Palins Say ‘No Way’ to Letterman Invitation (USA Today)
The Palins will not be visiting The Late Show anytime soon. “The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show,” Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton said Thursday. “Plus, it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.”

Failing Up (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
What happens when you write an innuendo-laden hit piece on a prospective Supreme Court nominee without, by your own admission, bothering to read enough of her opinions or talk to enough of her colleagues to reach a fair assessment, in which you crop a comment by one of her fellow judges who described her as smart so that you can portray the judge as having said she is “not that smart” — a false charecterization you still have not corrected more than a month later? If you’re Jeffrey Rosen, and the target of your hit-piece is Sonia Sotomayor, Time magazine invites you to write more about her.

The goofiest Time cover panics from the past 40 years (Reason.com, via Poynter Online)
Drugs! Dirty words! Porn! Pokemon! “No publication has done a better (by which we mean worse) job of scaring the crap out of post-baby boomer
America than Time,” write Jeff Winkler and Radley Balko. They offer a Top 10 list of the most horrifying, silly, irresponsible, or downright ridiculous Time cover panics from the post 40 years.

O’Reilly Defends Gay Penguins: ‘God Made The Penguin That Way’ (Think Progress)
Last night, Bill O’Reilly discussed the “gay penguins” at a zoo in Germany with guest Dennis Miller. O’Reilly shocked Miller by being eminently tolerant of the penguins, saying the zoo should “leave the penguin alone” because “God made the penguin that way”.
Gay humans, too. Click through to watch the video.

Joe Scarborough: New Face of the GOP? (by Christopher Buckley at the Daily Beast)
We Republicans have a Face Gap with the Democrats, who — let’s face it — have the best one of all in Mr. Obama. Well, I think I’ve found the new face of the Republican Party. It’s been hiding out on national television every weekday morning from six to nine: Joe Scarborough.

Limbaugh: MSNBC is “hate 24/7″ (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Limbaugh claims “exercise freaks … are the ones putting stress on the health care system” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)
You mean George W. Bush, don’t you, Rush?

Media Matters for America headlines

O’Reilly baselessly claims troops are Mirandizing detainees

Nets ignore substance of health care town hall

Over two days, Hannity’s coverage of Holocaust museum shooting totals just one sentence

Scarborough revisionism: claims he didn’t fault DHS for “targeting right-wingers”

Liasson reports that AMA opposes any public plan, ignoring AMA’s inconsistency

Fox News’ Cameron ignores prior GOP votes for war spending bills with non-war spending

Stoddard falsely claimed DHS report lacked “evidence”

CNN’s Townsend — a former Bush adviser — attacks DHS report for claims made by Bush admin.

Savage falsely claimed CNN, Fox News did not cover his banning from the UK

Confusion expected as analog TV broadcasts end
TV stations across the
U.S. started cutting their analog signals Friday morning, ending a 60-year run for the technology and likely stranding more than 1 million unprepared homes without TV service.

Israeli Paper Has Authors and Poets Cover the News
On Wednesday a very serious Israeli newspaper conducted a very wild experiment. For one day, Haaretz editor-in-chief Dov Alfon sent most of his staff reporters home and sent 31 of Israel’s finest authors and poets to cover the day’s news in honor of Israel’s annual Hebrew Book Week.

Medill Students Help Create Database As Tool for Reporting on Pentagon Officials (by Matt Mansfield at Poynter Online)
The Medill School of Journalism’s Washington Program, which I co-direct, has taken on ambitious investigative projects for years, but the Pentagon Travel project unveiled Wednesday reflects how our new curriculum’s focus on telling stories across platforms helps shape work with data. Medill, with the help of adjunct lecturer Stephen Henn, acquired a decade’s worth of records listing trips Pentagon employees took that were paid by private interests. To make the information available to the public, we partnered with the Center for Public Integrity.

Why News Organizations Should Reserve a Facebook Vanity URL (by Amy Gahran at Poynter Online)
Despite its popularity, Facebook has several conspicuous usability issues. One that has long bugged me is how ugly the URLs of Facebook user profiles are… Along with being messy, the long URL makes it difficult for people to find and friend each other via Facebook. That will soon change. Starting Saturday, June 13, at
12:01 a.m. EDT, Facebook will begin issuing vanity URLs for user profiles and fan pages. The change marks an important move for news organizations.

Will the Editorial Cartoonist Vanish?
To be a newspaper staff editorial cartoonist these days is to live in dread that the next phone call is coming from the human resources department. Because their numbers were so small to begin with, the departure of cartoonists amid layoffs in newsrooms has had a huge impact on the craft.

What Salary Freeze? Newspaper Wages Are Actually Rising (Paid Content)
You may have heard about the salary freezes and wage cuts at media companies like the NYTCo, Gannett and Dow Jones. But that’s not the full story: A new report says that overall, newspaper salaries have actually been on the rise. E&P’s Jen Saba cites a study of 400 papers in the U.S. and Canada by the Inland Press Association that found that newspaper wages rose an average 2.1 percent from 2008 to 2009.

Any buyers for The Boston Globe?
The Boston Globe is back on the auction block, despite a potentially long and drawn-out labor dispute with its largest union… The Boston Newspaper Guild, the Globe’s largest union, has signaled that if a new owner were found, the Guild would be willing to negotiate wage and benefit cuts in exchange for an equity stake in the paper.

Potential Globe Buyers Emerge
Three Boston businessmen — a Boston Celtics owner, a former advertising mogul, and a member of the family that ran the Globe for generations — have emerged as prominent potential buyers of the paper, according to people knowledgeable about the situation.

Washington Post May Protect Favored Union Workers
Washington Post Co. union members approved a contract that will protect 25 percent of newspaper employees from future job cuts without taking their seniority into account. The publisher may identify 25 percent of employees it wants to protect from job cuts without regard to length of tenure.

New Edition of AP Stylebook Includes Twitter
Twitter has made it into the 2009 edition of The Associated Press Stylebook, along with complicated business terms such as credit default swaps and derivatives that have gained more exposure amid the global recession.

Simon & Schuster to Sell Digital Books on Scribd.com
Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS, plans to announce Friday that it will make digital editions of about 5,000 titles available for purchase on the site, including books from best-selling authors like Stephen King, Dan Brown and Mary Higgins Clark. It will also add thousands of other titles to Scribd’s search engine, allowing readers to sample 10 percent of the content of the books on the site and providing links to buy the print editions.

Tag Junior electronic book pal helps toddlers to read
Nothing beats having your child curl up in your lap to read a favorite book. But for those times when you can’t be the reader, or when you might want to introduce fun sounds and music into listening to a story, a new gadget called the Tag Junior can help.

OK! Not OK
Richard Desmond’s American version of OK! magazine is losing half a million dollars per week. It’s estimated the magazine’s losses will reach close to $130 million by its four-year anniversary in August, putting it on target to be one of the most expensive magazine launches in publishing history.

Magazine Cover Ads, Subtle and Less So
For its July issue, Popular Science has created a cover sponsored by General Electric. But the G.E. affiliation becomes obvious only when the cover is held up to a Web camera. Although other magazine publishers have used cover ads to generate cash, Popular Science did not charge G.E. for the cover.

US video game sales slide 23 pct in May
U.S. video gamers spent less on games, hardware and accessories in May compared with a year ago, a sign that this year’s release schedule couldn’t compete with Take Two Interactive’s “Grand Theft Auto IV” last spring. The NPD Group said Thursday that spending fell 23 percent from last May to $863 million. It was the first monthly tally below $1 billion since August 2007 and the third month in a row of year-over-year declines.

Mexico’s Televisa eyes mobile phone market
Broadcaster Televisa said on Thursday it wants to offer mobile phone services in
Mexico, elbowing into the market dominated by billionaire Carlos Slim.

Broadcasters promise plan to quiet TV ads by September
Lawmakers stepped aside Thursday and agreed to let broadcasters come up with a system for toning down loud TV ads.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, lawmakers!

Bing Pays to Fast Forward Commercials on The Daily Show (Mashable)
[Thursday night, Microsoft] is giving fans of The Daily Show that watch it when it airs (as opposed to recording it on DVR) a bit of a treat. Microsoft has purchased a full two and a half minute block of commercials, sponsored by Bing, and will use the time to “fast forward” the ads with a TiVo-like experience. While this should be an interesting ad to see visually, it also means two more minutes of content from Jon Stewart. Microsoft plans to use the same concept on ad buys across a number of shows over the next week.
I’m just not getting it. The ads I’ve seen for Bing are just plain annoying.

Microsoft V. Google: Two Opposite Approaches To Browser Advertising (Paid Content)
The first Google TV ad for Chrome plays up the browser’s simplicity—as easy to use as putting together some blocks, the ad basically claims. But Microsoft has settled on a different angle with Internet Explorer. In one of its inaugural pitches for the browser (featuring Superman Dean Cain), it highlights the chaos that it believes would exist without IE.

Europe Cool to Microsoft’s Offer on Browser
European regulators signaled that Microsoft’s offer to sell a browser-less Windows system on the Continent did not go far enough to enable competition.

Opera says Microsoft EU browser offer “not enough”
Norwegian browser maker Opera ASA said on Friday that Microsoft’s plan to ship its Windows operating system in Europe without its Internet Explorer web browser was not enough to restore competition.

Rivals Level Guns at IE in Enterprise Browser War
While Microsoft’s Internet Explorer faces healthy competition with other browsers among consumers, in the enterprise it has long remained the de facto standard. But that could soon change as rivals — particularly Mozilla and Google — add features to their browsers that make them better suited for use across corporate desktops.

Firefox 3.5 Features New Javascript Engine, Built-in Video
The next version of Firefox will include next-generation features Mozilla hopes will help the browser stand apart from competitors.

China take steps to deal with SMS spam messages
China will limit the number of messages that a mobile number can send per day to battle rampant spam messages clogging cell phones, state media said on Friday

Security Group Converges to Fight Internet Abuse
As cybercrime continues to proliferate on the Internet, one industry security group is hoping its work will help stem the tide of spam and scams.

Media & Politics

Permanent link to MTA daily media news

The Rise of Right-Wing Violence (by Pareene at Gawker)

When the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning of potential violence by “right-wing extremists,” the right-wingers of the internet were enraged. Then some right-wing extremists started killing people. Three—three!—political shootings by right-wing extremists does actually make a trend, mostly because it’s not accidental that the crazies are turning violent now. Right-wing domestic terror, weirdly, spikes when the right-wing media step up the intensity and violence of their rhetoric—which they happen to do when Democrats are in charge…

What happens is Scott Roeder, the Kansas resident who murdered Dr. George Tiller at church because he was an anti-abortion fanatic with ties to, hey, a right-wing extremist group. There was Jim Adkisson, who shot up a Unitarian church, killing two, because he hated liberals and gays. And now there is the White Supremacist who just shot up the goddamn Holocaust Museum. He is, of course, named “James Von Brunn,” and he is 89 years old! And, obviously, he writes crazy things, on the internet. He is also a World War II vet? For the Allies! [Emphasis added.]

James W. Von Brunn’s anti-Semitic screed (by Mark Benjamin, Salon)
The alleged
Holocaust Museum shooter published a book called “Kill the Best Gentiles.” Read selections here.

How Many Crazed Gunmen Is it Going to Take? (Truthdig)
President Obama said in response “we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism.” Sure, but how about getting a little vigilant against guns? The alleged shooter served six years in prison after showing up at a Federal Reserve meeting with a sawed-off shotgun among other weapons, but he obviously had no trouble rearming.
To stop the discussion from going in that direction, then, what kind of creativity can we expect from the right wing? See the following stories to get an idea.

On Fox, Jim Lacamp says Obama admin’s “class warfare” helps set “the stage for social unrest” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Fox News hosts “terror expert Bob Newman” to discuss Holocaust Museum shooting (County Fair, Media Matters for America)
[Wednesday], Neil Cavuto hosted Bob Newman — a Colorado radio host who Cavuto presented as a “terror expert” — to discuss the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. During the segment, Newman raised questions about whether President Obama’s recent visit to a concentration camp or his statement about Israeli settlements were factors in the shooting… Cavuto didn’t say anything else about Newman’s background, so here are a couple highlights from his radio show, The Gunny Bob Show. Newman called for all Muslim immigrants to the
U.S. “to be required by law to wear a GPS tracking bracelet at all times”… Newman said of “terrorist-hugging” Obama: “What are you gonna do, Obama, come to Denver and try … to whip my white ass?”

Newsmax.com publishes column, “Obama Breeds Climate of Hate Against Jews,” linking Obama to Holocaust Museum shooting (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Right-Wingers Blame Left-Wingers and Muslims for Holocaust Museum Shooting (by The Cajun Boy at Gawker)
First off, Beck went on his show [Wednesday night] and performed perhaps the most stunning feat of pulling one out of the old anus in the history of stunning pulling one out of the ole anus feats. Beck, with a straight face mind you, looked into the camera and said that America as it stands today is a “boiling pot” fueled by extremists groups like Al Qaeda and 9/11 truthers who are sowing the seeds of extremism and hatred in this country. Then, still with a straight face, Beck also warned his viewers that more violence is likely to come in the future, that “more nutjobs are going to coming out of the woodwork now,” that all of this is part of the “perfect storm” he’s been trying to warn everyone about, a “perfect storm” which will result in a “witchhunt” that will focus on two groups of people. Can you guess who they might be?

Jews and—Conservatives!

IT HAPPENED LAST TIME: (by Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler)
By “last time,” we mean the last time we had a Democrat president. As you may recall, that president was Bill Clinton–and crazy stories spread far and wide about his intolerable ways. The liberal world ran off and hid in the woods–and, to all intents and purposes, the “mainstream press corps” didn’t exist. And sure enough! By September 1994, a man name Frank Corder decided to act. This incident largely went down the memory hole, like most misconduct directed at
Clinton… Were unbalanced people driven to act by all the crazy talk about Clinton? Are unbalanced people being so moved by Obama’s rise today? By crazy and semi-crazy talk about him?…

Is it time for the mainstream press to come to terms with America’s underworld discourse? For decades, the mainstream press has tended to avoid the cauldron of craziness bubbling beneath the surface of our public discussions. In the 1990s, the insider press was closely involved with the spread of crazy talk about Clinton, then Gore. Today, the insider press is much less interested in spewing wild tales about Obama. But the mainstream press corps loves to avoid all such difficult, unpleasant regions. Isn’t it time to report it out straight? There are crazy areas of our discourse, in which people are encouraged to believe crazy things. Yes, we know: Powerful people are sometimes involved in these wild promulgations. But isn’t it time to report it out straight: That there’s lunacy inside our discourse?

The worm turns and turns… (by Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire)
From Joan Walsh in today’s Salon… “…[I]t’s hard not to think about the extreme right-wing rhetoric, especially about Barack Obama, and whether it could conceivably lead to more right-wing violence.” What about the tons of hate-talk offered by the pro-Obama forces during the campaign? What about the transformation of
Kos, D.U., AmericaBlog and TPM into festering cesspools of cyber-rage? What about the death-threats? Apparently, that genre of extremist rhetoric does not trouble Joan Walsh.

Fox’s Smith unloads on “frightening” e-mailers (by Alex Koppelman at War Room, Salon)
Wednesday afternoon, Shep Smith showed — and not for the first time — why he’s one of Fox News’ most valuable assets. Smith is, far more than some of his colleagues, always willing to call out both ends of the political spectrum for doing wrong, and he does it well and passionately.

Smith’s reaction to the shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Wednesday was one of those moments. He reminded his audience that so many people had been critical of a Department of Homeland Security report that warned about just these kinds of attacks, and defended the document. And he discussed some of the e-mails sent by Fox News viewers every day, some of which he termed “more and more frightening” for the tenor of their anti-Obama tone, especially in the wake of this attack and the murder of abortion provider George Tiller.
Click through to watch the video.

Fox News downplays the Holocaust Museum killing (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
You could almost see the moment yesterday afternoon when the Fox News team lost interest (or at least lost a lot of interest) in the breaking story about the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. That moment seemed to be when it was revealed that the alleged shooter, James von Brunn, was a white supremacist who, according to a CNN report last night, had strong ties to the Klu Klux Klan. For some reason, Fox News suddenly pulled back its coverage of the shocking shooting that had political overtones. In fact, the story virtually disappeared during Fox News’ primetime block. Nothing to see here people, just keep moving along.

O’Reilly Ignores Holocaust Museum Shooting, Wonders Whether It’s Even ‘Newsworthy’ (Think Progress)
Last week, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly went on a tirade against CNN for supposedly failing to cover the shooting of Pvt. William Long, an Army recruiter in Arkansas. Of course, O’Reilly’s claims were blatantly false — but that didn’t stop him from claiming to be “shocked” that he “can’t find any information about” the shooting in the mainstream media. Exactly one week later, after a white supremacist shot and killed a security guard at the
Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, O’Reilly never covered the shooting on his show. In fact, the only mention of the act of domestic terrorism came in a segment that, ironically, decried the media’s inadequate coverage of Long’s death.

Drudge Would Rather Not Dwell on Right-Wing Terrorism (by John Cook at Gawker)
A third murder committed by a right-wing extremist? Eh, worth a link, sure. Obama administration takes a “half step” to let shareholders have a say in executive compensation? Fire up the siren. Matt Drudge trotted out his favorite animated GIF this morning to sound the alarm about the White House’s plan to issue “guidelines,” according to the Associated Press, that “reject direct intervention in corporate pay decisions” and rely on allowing nonbinding shareholder votes on compensation. Or, as Drudge puts it, “ADMINISTRATION: REIN IN PAY ACROSS PRIVATE SECTOR.”

Warblogger finally figures out what the DHS report on extremism was about (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
[T]he enlightened Jawa Report, which in the wake of the Holocaust Museum killing announced: “When the DHS talked about right-wingers, I think this is what they had in mind.” Well, duh. Of course that’s what the DHS report was about. How did I, and every other rational person, know that’s what the report was about when it was released? Because that’s what the DHS warning reported. Meaning, that’s what the words on the page meant.

But for some strange reason the GOP Noise Machine, lead by Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh and the entire Fox News crew, decided that even though the DHS never once used the word “conservative,” and even though the DHS report was quite clearly about “domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups,” “terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks,” and “white supremacists,” despite all that, the Noise Machine went bonkers claiming the DHS report was about them. (Which begged the rather uncomfortable question of why conservative bloggers and pundits immediately saw themselves in a report about skinheads and right-wing terrorists. Yikes.)

Will Michelle Malkin walk back her “piece of crap” attack on the DHS report about right-wing extremists? (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
In light of the
Holocaust Museum shooting, where the suspect is reportedly a far-right white supremacist, will Malkin and her army of online bullies, who denounced the Department of Homeland Security for having the audacity to single out right-wing extremists for being potential terrorists, now concede that they were wrong? Will Malkin and company concede that perhaps the DHS knows more than partisan conservative bloggers do about home-grown “lone wolf extremists” and the danger they pose to America? (Malkin dismissed the report as a “piece of crap.”) We’re waiting, Michelle.

In Wake Of Shootings, Conservatives Rush To Defend Disparagement Of DHS Report On Right-Wing Extremism (Think Progress)
Following yesterday’s tragic shooting at the Holocaust Museum — reportedly carried out by white supremacist James von Brunn — two Fox News personalities, Shepard Smith and Catherine Herridge, suggested that critics of the Department of Homeland Security’s report on right-wing extremism should re-think their criticism. ” “The right went absolutely bonkers,” said Smith, adding that DHS was “warning us for a reason.” But later on Fox, New York Post columnist Ralph Peters attacked Smith and Herridge for claiming that the shooting “validated” the DHS report. “It had nothing to do with the Department of Homeland Security report,” declared Peters.
Click through to watch the video.

SPLC’s Potok slams Limbaugh, others for saying “they were somehow being defamed” by DHS extremist report “for being conservatives” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Liddy tweet: “maybe Rev Wright drove James W. von Brunn over the edge….” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Well, let’s let Rev. Wright speak for himself:
Wright: “Them Jews” won’t let Obama talk to me
(by Alex Koppelman at War Room, Salon)
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Obama’s former pastor, has gotten himself back in the news again, this time by commenting on his post-election relationship with Obama. He’s in Virginia for a conference with other ministers, and while there, he spoke with a local paper, telling them he has no regrets about the statements he made from the pulpit that turned controversial last year, and that he’s unable to speak with the president… Wright told the paper: “Them Jews aren’t going to let him talk to me.”

It Is Impossible to Convince the Bitters That Barack Obama Is Not a Muslim (by Pareene at Gawker)
10% of Americans still believe Barack Obama is a Muslim. And here is the fun bit: a new study suggests that attempts to correct that misperception only reinforce it. Blogger Brendan Nyhan conducted the study… [W]hen fellow typical white people tried to convince Republicans that Barack Obama is a Christian, it “caused a backfire effect in which GOP identifiers became more likely to believe Obama is Muslim and less likely to believe he was being honest about his religion.”

Savage hosted WND’s Klein to claim that in Cairo speech Obama “quoted from a section of the Qur’an that urges” jihad (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Let’s Profile the Right Wing (by Larry Johnson at No Quarter)
[I]f profiling is good enough for the carpet huggining, Allah praying sons of Mohammed then we ought to give it a whirl with the Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity Christian fundamentalists. Let’s include guys and gals who have served in the military too. Round em up and keep an eye on them. And I guess we ought to get any krauts still in Amerika… (Okay, this is a sarcasm, irony test. We will find out if you are smart enough to understand my true meaning.)… Maybe the rightwing, especially those who want to target “muslims,” might now realize the danger of the mentality that wants to punish a group of people for the actions of a few. What do you think?

Why is Tiller’s alleged killer doing press conferences? (by Gene Lyons, Salon)
Since when do imprisoned terrorists get to hold press conferences? I speak of Scott Roeder, the accused assassin of Dr. George Tiller… A classic Midwestern lone demento, Roeder appears to envision himself as a soldier in an avenging army. They always do, don’t they? Broke and alone, according to one of his ex-wives, Roeder ranted constantly against God’s enemies, as defined by him. Police arresting him found explosives in his car, a 1993 Ford Taurus listed as his only asset.

Meanwhile, hundreds of mourners attended Tiller’s funeral, where they heard him “eulogized as a loving father and friend, a regular guy, a lover of Elvis and old movies, of ice cream and axioms,” according to Fred Mann in the Wichita Eagle. Tiller’s son described his murder this way: “I believe that God decided, ‘You have done everything I asked a person to do here on earth. Now I will show the world what a loving, compassionate, courageous, selfless man you are.’ And so it happened.” To antiabortion absolutists who dubbed him “Tiller the killer,” this must be incomprehensible.

Free Hot Wings at Pro-Right Wing Violence Press Conference! (by Pareene at Gawker)
This is how you do press relations: journalists who attend right-wing nut Randall Terry’s upcoming “George Tiller’s murder is great news for the pro-life movement” press conference will get free beer and wings!

Just Don’t Call It Terrorism (by digby)
It’s pretty clear that the right wing has lost whatever restraint it had and that the ongoing paroxysms of violent, extreme rhetoric are having their effect. The crocodile tears of the anti-abortion forces after the Tiller assassination notwithstanding, it’s also pretty clear that they know this violence is effective. If you want to paralyze a society and force people to capitulate out of fear of random violence, nothing beats terrorism. And once the right gets everybody looking over their shoulders, they’ll misdirect the citizenry and run to the rescue with calls for “law and order.” (Recall that the violence of the 60s didn’t originate with the left — it originated with racist cops unleashing hell on non-violent protesters.) It’s working great with the deficit.

Thomas Frank disagrees, Digby:
Red State Story (by Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas?)
Pro-life leaders declared themselves shocked and surprised. How could this happen? And how could anyone associate them with this crime?… A larger reason for the shock and surprise — and this is true for the right generally — is this: The culture wars are not meant to be taken seriously. Yes, right-wing invective dabbles in nightmare visions of treason and conspiracy and rampant paganism and a homegrown holocaust right here on Main Street, U.S.A. Yes, it ritually denounces liberals as members of a class fundamentally alien to the American way of life. But these are the ingredients of entertainment, not politics.

Culture war makes you feel noble and heroic. It sells books, it drives up the ratings of “The O’Reilly Factor,” it brings in millions in direct-mail contributions — but everybody knows you can’t make Hollywood change its ways by walking the streets of Wichita carrying a sign deploring the “culture of death.” According to the unwritten rules of the culture wars, the “base” isn’t supposed to act on it when the performers describe a world gone crazy. They’re an audience; they’re supposed to hiss, applaud, donate, vote and go home.
It’s all meant to scare the bejeezus out of Democrats, too. And it’s been working incredibly well.

Conservative Group Still Promoting Proud-To-Be-A-Right-Wing Extremist Cards (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
The religious conservative, non-profit organization Liberty Counsel is still promoting on its website right-wing extremist ID cards as a way of protesting that very same DHS report. “I’m Proud to be a Right-Wing Extremist,” reads the card, “as described in the DHS Intelligence Assessment of April 7, 2009.”

Officers Involved In Von Brunn Shooting Were Union Members Who Had Pressed For Security Vests (Think Progress)
This morning on NBC’s Today Show, Sara Bloomfield, director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, commended the security police professionals who were able to so quickly take down shooter James von Brunn and save the lives of other visitors and staff members at the institution… However, according to SPFPA Washington DC representative Assane Faye, the union had been pressing Wackenhut for “company-issued protective vests,” as a result of a rise in anti-Semitic remarks directed at the museum’s officers. “I hammered this in our negotiations two years ago because of how sensitive that museum is,” Faye told the Washington Post. Wackenhut has not yet issued the vests.

The Great Debt Scare: Why Has It Returned? (by Robert Reich)
The Great Debt Scare is back. Odd that it would return right now, when the economy is still mired in the worst depression since the Great one… Odder still that the Debt Scare returns at the precise moment that bills are emerging from Congress on universal health care, which, by almost everyone’s reckoning, will not increase the long-term debt one bit… Even odder that the Debt Scare rears its frightening head just as the President’s stimulus is moving into high gear with more spending on infrastructure…

Why are the ostensibly liberal Center for American Progress and New York Times participating in the Debt Scare right now? Is it possible that among the President’s top economic advisors and top ranking members the Fed are people who agree more with conservative Republicans and Wall Streeters on this issue than with the President? Is it conceivable that they are quietly encouraging the Debt Scare even in traditionally liberal precincts, in order to reduce support in the Democratic base for what Obama wants to accomplish? Hmmm.

Same As It Ever Was (by Susie at Suburban Guerilla)
Notice how Obama’s all about “pay as you go” - except when it comes to bankers and wars? [After
Downing Street:] “As it happens, however, there is a perfect vehicle available right now for an expansion of PAYGO: the war supplemental cum IMF bailout now being debated in the House. Here’s an extra $97 billion for wars and military that was not included in the regular budget. This is an expansion of spending, and nobody has explained where the money can come from.”

Daily Pulse on Health Care Politics (Political Wire)
New York Times: “The lesson Obama’s team took from [the passage of the budget bill], and one that will no doubt inform its approach to health care, is that it’s fine for a president to stand back from the process — but not so far back that Congress thinks he’s trying to duck the consequences… If Obama is going to sign a transformative health care law this year, it will, at some point soon, have to become his plan, no matter how much autonomy he wants to confer on his allies in Congress.” Of course, it’s not always clear who Obama’s allies are — even in his own party. 

Between a Rock and a Health Reform (by David Broder)
The goal of the Obama White House is to come up with a health-care plan that can attract bipartisan support. The president has told visitors that he would rather have 70 votes in the Senate for a bill that gives him 85 percent of what he wants rather than a 100 percent satisfactory bill that passes 52 to 48. There is good reason for that preference. When you are changing the way one-sixth of the American economy is organized and altering life for patients, doctors, hospitals and insurers, you need that kind of a strong launch if the result is to survive the  inevitable vagaries of the shakedown period.
Bullshit, as usual from you, David. The best way to handle the broken system we have is to shake it up completely, and let the pieces fall where they may. And that’s what most Americans want.

Large Majority Backs Major Overhaul of Health Care (Political Wire)
The latest Diageo/Hotline Poll finds that 62% of voters support “the President enacting a major overhaul of the U.S. health care system,” with 38% of voters strongly supporting a major overhaul. Specifically, one-third (35%) of Republican voters, 64% of Independent voters, and 87% of Democratic voters support a major overhaul of health care. Among age groups, while a majority all age groups support reforming health care, senior citizens age 65+ are the least supportive, with 56% of them supporting reform. Likewise, a majority of income categories support reform, but those earning $100K+ in annual income are the least supportive, with 58% supporting reform.

Why So Scared of a Public Plan? (by Joe Conason)
Medicare has performed better at controlling costs than private insurance companies. One reason is simple and obvious: Eliminating profits for shareholders and management cuts out a major cost factor. Another is less obvious: Private insurers consistently spend more on overhead and administration than Medicare… The private insurers will complain that this is “unfair” competition, but if the private sector is truly the efficient solution to our costly, wasteful and unfair health care system, then why is it so frightened of a public plan?

Medicare Drug Plan Ought to Be Model for Health Reform (by Mort Kondracke)
As they work on comprehensive health reform, Congress and President Barack Obama ought to look to the most successful model yet: the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law. Passed amid rancor and predictions of catastrophe, the law has proved to be an enormous success – much cheaper than expected and overwhelmingly popular with seniors.
It would be even more successful if the administrators were allowed to negotiate for lower drug prices, Mort.

Reducing Medicaid and Medicare Drug Costs Could Help Pay For Health Reform (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
By lowering the costs that Medicaid and Medicare pay for prescription drugs, Congress could generate substantial savings to help pay for comprehensive health reform that achieves universal coverage.

American Medical Association Trying To Torpedo Health Care Reform Again (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Just days before President Barack Obama is set to address the American Medical Association to pitch its members on his vision for health care reform, the 250,000-member physician group announced it would oppose a major component of that effort. On Wednesday night, the New York Times reported that AMA was “letting Congress know” that it would resist a public plan for health insurance coverage. Politically, the revelation could be a potentially significant blow to progressive health care reform advocates, who contend that a public option is the best way to reduce costs and increase insurance coverage. AMA has the institutional resources and the prestige to impact debates in the halls of Congress.

In An Attempt To Criticize Health Reform, Coburn Smears Veteran Health Care As ‘Untenable To Most Americans’ (Think Progress)
[Wednesday] morning on C-Span, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) laid out his criticism of the proposed public insurance option in Obama’s health reform plan. Like other opponents of reform, Coburn repeated the empty Frank Luntz-engineered talking points that claim “bureaucrats” will be making health decisions. In doing so, Coburn derided the Veterans Health Administration, a program that boasts bipartisan support and has provided American veterans with some of the best health care in the world:

This Time, We Won’t Scare (by Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times)
Perhaps you’ve seen those television commercials denouncing health care reform as a plot to create a Canadian-style totalitarian nightmare, and you feel a wee bit scared. Back in the election campaign, some people spread rumors that Barack Obama might be a secret Muslim conspiring to impose Sharia law on us. That seems unlikely now, but what if he’s a covert Canadian plotting to impose … health care?
I hope you’re right, Nick. I hope Americans won’t scare on this. But the record of the right wing success in winning by intimidation is a mighty long one.

House Education Committee hearing on single-payer healthcare (by Alegre)
C-Span is covering a long-overdue hearing addressing something that the majority of Americans, nurses and doctors want – a single-payer health care plan here in the US. There’s a good panel of witnesses at this hearing with one exception – and Dennis Kucinich just got through ripping into a guy who’s sole purpose is to tear apart the Canadian style system of care.  He raced through wait times for elective surgery (4 weeks), the number of uninsured (nearly zero) and the nummber of bankruptcies due to medical bills in Canada (zero).  The witness couldn’t – and at one point – refused to try to provide answers to Kucinich’s questions / points.
Common Dreams has a great article “Debunking Canadian Health Care Myths.” Click through above for a link to the hearing video.

Your money or your life (by Avedon Carol at the Sideshow)
For millions of people in
America, losing your job means losing your health insurance, and that’s just when you are most likely to need it. People lose their jobs because they are ill, or become ill because they have been unemployed for a while, and that means that although you’ve been paying for years for expensive insurance, it will not be there when you need it. And that’s just leaving aside the fact that it may also not be there when you need it even if you still “have” health insurance, because your provider spends millions of dollars to try to prevent you from getting them to fork over for your healthcare. So it’s pretty simple: You’re already paying for healthcare. You deserve to get it.

Senator Calls Out Frank Luntz From Senate Floor (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
It’s not every day that a sitting senator takes to the floor to call out a GOP strategist. But on Wednesday, Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley did just that, whacking messaging guru Frank Luntz for writing a blueprint for demonizing health care reform and Republican officials for dutifully following his lead.
More of this, please. Exposing the tactics of the right wing will help reduce their effectiveness.

Snowe’s Ties To Health Care Industry Raise Concern As Reform Talk Heats Up (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
The Senate Republican who is front and center in the health care debate has received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the health care industry. Her staff, too, has ties to some of the biggest players in the private insurance, with major stakes in the reform effort… [O]ver the course of her career [Olympia] Snowe has received more than $400,000 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry; more than $400,000 in donations from “health professionals;” more than $135,000 in contributions from hospitals and nursing homes; more than $100,000 from pharmaceutical and health products companies, and more than $60,000 from health services and HMOs, according to records from the open-government group, Center for Responsive Politics…

The ties, however, do not end with campaign contributions. Several former Snowe staffers now serve as lobbyists for private industry groups actively trying to affect health care legislation… The revolving door, in addition, has worked both ways. Snowe’s current deputy chief of staff, Arran Haynes, was, until recently, a lobbyist with Cassidy & Associates. One of the biggest lobbying names in D.C., the firm’s first quarter clients in 2009 alone include TriHealth (which paid $50,000 in lobbying fees), Memorial Healthcare System ($70,000), the University of Massachusetts Health Care system ($140,000), and other health care providers.

Americans’ net worth shrinks $1.33 trillion in 1Q (AP)
American households lost $1.33 trillion of their wealth in the first three months of the year as the recession took a bite out of stock portfolios and dragged down home prices.

U.S. Economy: Trade Gap Grows as Exports Decrease (Bloomberg)
The U.S. trade deficit widened in April for a second month as some of the world’s largest economies continued to contract, pushing exports to the lowest level in almost three years. The gap between imports and exports grew 2.2 percent to $29.2 billion, in line with forecasts, from a revised $28.5 billion in March that was larger than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Foreign demand for U.S. goods dropped 2.3 percent, exceeding a decrease in imports.

America’s Sea of Red Ink Was Years in the Making (by David Leonhardt, New York Times)
Mr. Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the
Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000. Such policies — together with the Wall Street bailout, which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama — account for 20 percent of the swing. About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February. And only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas. If the analysis is extended further into the future, well beyond 2012, the Obama agenda accounts for only a slightly higher share of the projected deficits.
Oh yes, the tax cuts for people making LESS THAN $250,000 are breaking the bank, not the huge tax cuts for people making MORE THAN that. We’re told that the rich pay a huge percentage of total taxes, but it’s us little guys getting a small tax break that’s causing the huge deficits.

Telling the truth … once (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
[Wednesday], the New York Times’ David Leonhardt explains that “President Obama’s agenda, ambitious as it may be, is responsible for only a sliver of the deficits, despite what many of his Republican critics are saying.” That’s great — really, it is. But it will mean very little if the Times does not include that fact in every subsequent story in which it quotes Republicans blaming Obama for running up deficits. The Times told the truth today — and many other news organizations quoted it. Now let’s see if they’re satisfied telling the truth once, or if they are committed to telling the truth every time.

Treasury to Set Executives’ Pay at 7 Ailing Firms (New York Times)
A federal proposal to restrict executive pay has the potential to humble seven large institutions that have received billions of dollars in bailout money.

Lawmakers Invested in Bailed-Out Firms (Washington Post)
Top House lawmakers had considerable holdings in major financial institutions that took billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts at the end of last year, according to annual financial disclosure reports released yesterday. From stock holdings to retirement funds to mortgages, more than 20 House leaders and members of the House Financial Services Committee had large personal stakes in the Wall Street powerhouses whose collapse last year led to an unprecedented government intervention in the marketplace. In some instances those lawmakers, like millions of other investors, sold their holdings at steep losses while others retained the stocks at greatly diminished value.
Would the losses have been even steeper, had the government not bailed out these firms? There’s too much wealth in Congress, friends. How can our representatives make the right decisions for us ordinary folks, when they’re part of the financial elite?

Wall Street’s Greenbacks Fill Democrats’ Coffers (Open Secrets)
Although the economy didn’t show many signs of improvement in the first few months of 2009, Democrats were benefiting more from Wall Street than they had in any previous cycle, pulling in 58 percent of all contributions that the finance, insurance and real estate sector gave between January and March. The struggling sector has given a total of $12.6 million, which is far more than any other sector has given so far this year to candidates, party committees and PACs. 

Fed Would Be Shut Down If It Were Audited, Expert Says (CNBC)
The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet is so out of whack that the central bank would be shut down if subjected to a conventional audit, Jim Grant, editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, told CNBC. With $45 billion in capital and $2.1 trillion in assets, the central bank would not withstand the scrutiny normally afforded other institutions, Grant said in a live interview… Grant said he would support legislation currently making its way through Congress calling for an audit of the Fed. Moreover, he criticized the way the Fed has managed the financial crisis, saying the central bank’s target rate should not be around zero.

Russia military says needs 1500 warheads: report (Reuters)
Russia must keep at least 1,500 nuclear warheads after talks with the United States on a new arms treaty, Interfax news agency quoted the commander of Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces as saying Wednesday. If
Moscow’s final position reflects Colonel-General Nikolai Solovtsov’s view, it would mean Russia is not willing to cut its stockpiles by more than a few hundred strategic warheads – far less than some arms control bodies had hoped.

Pentagon Travel Policies Criticized by Watchdogs (Washington Post)
Pentagon personnel took more than 22,000 trips paid for by foreign countries, private companies and other nongovernmental sources over the past decade, raising conflict-of-interest concerns, according to watchdog groups that yesterday released the first public database of such travel… “The Pentagon itself should be paying for these trips,” said Bill Buzenberg, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity. He described the travel as being “riddled with conflicts of interest.”

America’s Foreign Policy Phobias Are Overblown (by William Pfaff at Truthdig)
[R]ecent developments in the Muslim Middle East and Central Asia challenge Washington’s conventional assumptions about Pakistan, the Taliban, Lebanon and Iran. The first is the revolt of tribesmen against the Taliban in part of
Pakistan’s northwest tribal area… The significance of all this is major: The Taliban with their religious rigor do not automatically win converts among their own people. However, a second lesson is that American bombing operations in the tribal areas remain the principal force behind the earlier Taliban successes. The important conclusion is that foreign intruders should let the Pakistanis settle their own problems, as they now are doing.

New GOP Phrase For Detainee Pictures: “Terrorist Propaganda Photos” (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Get ready to hear Republicans and conservative opinion-makers using a new phrase to describe the unreleased photos of detainees that are at the center of a white-hot political war right now: “Terrorist propaganda photos.” The House GOP leadership just used the phrase for the first time this morning in a statement they sent to me. The phrase was cooked up in hopes that it will catch on with other GOPers, and it probably will do just that… The new phrase is a reference to the GOP claim that such photos help terrorist recruitment, and signals that Republicans think they can milk this one for all it’s worth. Get ready to hear it again, and again, and…

An Obama Lever (by paradox at The Left Coaster)
[I]t still seems very hard to believe how Senate Democrats turned and ran over the latest Republican hissy fit of Guantanamo prisoners being on Homeland Soil… Related to that disgusting evolution was the laughable Obama birth of brand new jurisprudence, indefinite detainment without charge. Our dear over-confident President didn’t show he was strong against terrorists, only that he would compromise anything to any absurd lengths to make sure it seemed he was… [W]hat’s important for liberals, Democrats and progressives to know is that Obama will do anything not to be labeled weak on defense or terrorism. Everyone knows it, it’s a massive weakness and violation of many of our core values, and using Defense and terrorism tactics is the easiest way to manipulate him.
Yep, and most of the rest of the Democrats, too.

Vindication (by Michael J. Smith at Stop Me Before I Vote Again)
I usually don’t pay much attention to the Supreme Court — unlike my dear good liberal neighbors, who love it deeply. To my way of thinking, the Court was designed to be a reactionary institution, and if it behaves like one, blame the Founding Fathers. So I hope for little from it, and fear little from a reactionary president’s ability to appoint Thomases and Scalias, vile though these reptiles undoubtedly are. But I was pleased by Obie’s nomination of Ms Sotomayor to replace Mr Souter — one bland corporate centrist in place of another, keeping the existing complexion of the court intact.

It would be difficult to find a more perfect illustration of the Ratchet Effect. The Republicans have spent the last thirty years or so moving the Court back to its natural position on the Right. And when Mr Hope and Change gets an opportunity, quite early in his tenure, to nominate a justice, what does he do? He carefully keeps the court where the Republicans left it.

The Identity Dance (by Ellen Goodman)
I can’t help noting that in the Sotomayor drama, the charge of “identity politics” is leveled at relative newcomers. I have yet to hear a certified member of the Establishment derided as a practitioner of this dark art. For that matter, identity itself seems to be exclusively a matter of race, gender and minority status… [N]o one suggests that Chief Justice John Roberts is playing identity politics when, as Jeffrey Toobin wrote recently in The New Yorker, he reflects “a view that the court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society.”

Lobbyists Warned to Stay Away from GOP Meeting (Political Wire)
Top aides to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) called a “last-minute, pre-emptive” strike “with a group of prominent Democratic lobbyists, warning them to advise their clients not to attend a meeting with Senate Republicans set for Thursday,” Roll Call reports. Recounted one lobbyist: “They said, ‘Republicans are having this meeting and you need to let all of your clients know if they have someone there, that will be viewed as a hostile act… Going to the Republican meeting will say, ‘I’m interested in working with Republicans to stop health care reform.’”
I hated it when the Republicans played this kind of politics, and I don’t like it any better when Democrats do.

Norm Coleman Owes Al Franken A Lot of Money (by The Cajun Boy at Gawker)
[Wednesday] afternoon a Minnesota court ordered Norm Coleman to pay Al Franken close to $95,000 to compensate Franken for some of the legal costs he’s incurred during Coleman’s seemingly endless legal battle to win the Senate seat.
THAT will put an end to the controversy.

Crist Way Ahead of Rubio (Political Wire)
A new Quinnipiac poll in
Florida finds Gov. Charlie Crist (R) crushing Marco Rubio (R) 54% to 23% in a Republican U.S. Senate primary. On the Democratic side, the Senate race is far from settled. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) leads the primary field with 18%, followed by Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) with 12% and Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL) with 8%. However, 57% of voters say they don’t yet have a candidate in the race.

Corzine Trails Christie by 10 Points (Political Wire)
A new Quinnipiac poll in Virginia finds Chris Christie (R) leading Gov. Jon Corzine, 50% to 40%, among likely voters. Said pollster Clay Richards: “Don’t count Gov. Jon Corzine out just because he trails by 10 points less than five months before Election Day. But he certainly has his work cut out for him. Most
New Jersey voters say he does not deserve re-election; that things have gotten worse since he became Governor and that personally he is cold and businesslike, not warm and friendly.”

What’s behind Dobbs’ 29% drop in total viewers? (New York Observer, via Poynter Online)
“I don’t know if it’s true in Lou Dobbs’ case, but sometimes people just tire of acts,” says media reporter Ken Auletta. TV news critic Andrew Tyndall believes the CNNer’s cooling off is primarily attributable to the fading of immigration as a core issue of national concern.

AOL for GOP? (Air America)
Although PoliticsDaily.com, one of AOL’s daily political news suppliers, aims to offer “smart pieces from across the ideological spectrum,” it may be pandering, intentionally or not, to AOL’s increasingly conservative audience.

Krauthammer: Fox News has ‘created an alternate reality’ for its viewers. (Think Progress)
[Tuesday], Charles Krauthammer accepted the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism, an annual award given by News Corporation. In his acceptance speech, Krauthammer lauded Fox News channel, which he said has “done a great service to the American polity” and for “single-handedly breaking up the intellectual and ideological monopoly that for decades exerted hegemony (to use a favorite lefty cliché) over the broadcast media.” But his praise took a strange turn when he extolled the “genius” of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes for creating an “alternate reality” for its viewers…

Elsewhere in his speech, Krauthammer tried to explain why his award was more valuable to him than the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize is “awarded to those, from Yasir Arafat to Jimmy Carter, who give the most succor to the forces of terror and tyranny,” Krauthammer said.
Because what the world needs is less common ground and more irreconcilable differences.

News Corp. Forms Diversity Council After Cartoon (AP)
News Corp. has agreed to form an external diversity council after meeting with civil rights groups about a New York Post cartoon that critics said likened President Barack Obama to a dead chimpanzee. The council will meet with senior company executives twice a year.

Resource: New Facebook App Lets You Track Your Representatives’ Cash (Open Secrets)
If you’re already a fan of OpenSecrets.org, how about making it official on Facebook? Not only do we have a fan page where you can leave comments, ask questions and engage in money-in-politics discussions, now you can add our OpenSecrets app to your own Facebook page and follow the special interests trying to curry favor with your legislators. Just enter your zip code and your congressional representatives will show up in your profile, including the total they’ve raised in the 2010 election cycle and the name of their top donor… Here’s an example of what the app will look like on your Facebook profile:

California State Controller: Out of Cash in 50 Days (Calculated Risk)
California State Controller John Chiang wrote to Governor Schwarzenegger [Wednesday]. “In the absence of legislative action, the State will not have sufficient cash to meet all of its payment obligations on July 28. By July 31, the cash deficit will increase to a negative $2.78 billion.”

Gay New Yorkers Head to Greenwich for Weddings (New York Times)
Since same-sex marriages became legal in Connecticut in November, couples, many from New York City, have been flocking to Greenwich to wed.
Missing out on all that wedding business, New York, not very smart.

Rhode Island Senate passes medical marijuana bill (AP)
Rhode Island
would be the third state in the nation and the first on the East Coast to allow nonprofit stores to sell marijuana to medical patients under legislation approved Tuesday by state lawmakers. The state Senate voted 30-2 to adopt a measure permitting three stores to sell marijuana to more than 680 patients registered with the state Department of Health. It now heads to Gov. Don Carcieri, who has previously vetoed bills legalizing marijuana for medical use.

Media Matters for America headlines

Media conservatives claim Holocaust museum shooter a “leftist”

Fox’s Scott didn’t report Roberts hearings were also originally scheduled for 48-day mark

Carlson, Forbes misrepresent Obama position on executive compensation

Conservatives attack Shep Smith for his Holocaust museum shooting remarks, call for firing

NBC’s Luke Russert quotes Boehner pushing debunked cap and trade cost

Gingrich says it’s “unimaginable” to Mirandize suspects in Afghanistan, but Bush reportedly did so

Conservatives link Obama’s purported “class warfare,” positioning “America against the Jewish state” to Holocaust Museum shooting

Another memory lapse: Coulter claims “people didn’t go after Chelsea Clinton”

Fox News divided on whether Holocaust museum shooting validates DHS report

Fox attacks media’s Army recruiter shooting coverage, but didn’t carry survivor’s press conference

China defends net filtering software amid outcry
Chinese state media on Thursday issued an unprecedented defense of newly required Internet filtering software that must be packaged with every computer sold in
China starting next month, after a public outcry at home and abroad.

AP slaps newsman for criticizing McClatchy on his Facebook page
Richard Richtmyer wrote on his Facebook page: “It seems like the ones [at McClatchy] who orchestrated the whole mess should be losing their jobs or getting pushed into smaller quarters. But they aren’t.” AP put a reprimand letter in the Philly-based newsman’s employment file, and now the union is asking the news service to fine-tune its social networking policy and reverse Richtmyer’s reprimand.

Recession And Free Media Expansion Impact Further On Media Consumption Patterns, Research Shows
More than a quarter of consumers plan to reduce or cancel their satellite or cable TV subscriptions, according to the research, up from 15% six months ago.

Show Me the Spreadsheet for Online Revenues (by Erik Sherman at BNET)
Many people go on about the salvation for news media being sites that offer free content and find other ways — most often advertising — to pay the freight. But if you had numbers and a spreadsheet on hand, most of this talk would show itself for what it most often is: wishful thinking.

IAC’s Diller: The iPhone Is Our Crystal Ball
While much of the “new IAC” relies on advertising revenue, Barry Diller declared that strictly relying on advertising as a business model is not sustainable. “I absolutely believe that the Internet is passing from its free phase into a paid system,” he predicted.

USAT to Introduce Paid Digital Edition
USA Today is counting on new digital reading devices and mobile applications more than an online paid content strategy. Publisher David Hunke said the newspaper is being “extraordinarily bullish” on the move to wireless devices and mobile apps. 

ACA: Charging Sub Fees For Internet Content Could ‘Cripple’ Broadband Rollout
ACA, which represents smaller and mid-sized cable operators, says that companies like Disney are charging for Web-based content and “requiring” broadcasters to include those fees as part of basic Internet access for all subscribers.
The internet, so far, has proven to be the destroyer of middlemen and gatekeepers.

Digital downloads spell end for videogame stores?
Will digital downloads kill the videogames store? That’s the multibillion dollar question facing retailers from Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp to GameStop Corp, as Internet distributors continue to grow.

Listen Up, Old-School Journalists (by Laura Rich at Recessionwire)
After hearing a few of the folks at the Mediabistro Circus conference, I got a little hope back — journalism and writing jobs aren’t going away, but thanks to the recession, they’re undergoing a swift, head-spinning transformation, and the profession’s new iteration will take some hard work.

Newspapers Must Drop Elitism (by Jerry Lanson, Christian Science Monitor)
Conventional wisdom holds that newspapers have been crippled by the flight of advertising to the Web. But they’ve been crippled just as much by corporate profiteering, arrogance, elitism, and encroaching dullness that have driven away readers, sometimes in droves.

What NYT staffers should do differently, according to a “Daily Show” correspondent
“You could be acting more like the newsroom I know from movies,” says Jason Jones… “There is not enough harried people running around, there’s not enough papers piled on desks, none of that stuff.” || Jones’ impression of executive editor Bill Keller: “Talking to Bill, I realized how dumb I was. He’s a very well-spoken, cogent man. With no time for my juvenile fraternity humor.”

Murdoch’s Monster: The Journal of the Plague Years
For the past 19 months, since Rupert Murdoch got his hands on The Journal, he has been slowly, deliberately turning it into his newspaper. The Journal has become, the erudite, broadsheet expression of News Corp. America.

Alex Jones: Globe vote was like mouthing off to a cop
There’s momentary satisfaction, but you pay a severe price. Former Times reporter Alex Jones writes: “One can only imagine the conversations between spouses in the wake of the ‘no’ vote as the reality of what has been unleashed hit home.” The Globe’s unions have almost no leverage, he points out, and a strike would be suicidal.

Boston-based real estate firm in talks to buy the Globe
An Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. exec says the firm has been pursuing a Globe purchase for about ten weeks. “Intercontinental is interested in any good investment that offers superior returns for our investors, as well as opportunities for job preservation, and even job growth, for our union investors.” Boston-based Intercontinental manages real estate and some $2.5 billion in investment funds, including union pensions.

First Look: Kindle DX: Bigger Will Be Better For Some (by Staci D. Kramer at Mashable)
I now have three Kindles in the house—K1, K2 and the brand-new DX. The first two are my own, nifty little money-making machines for Amazon as I load them with newspapers, magazines, blogs and books, all paid for via the credit card linked to my account. I didn’t feel a compelling urge to own a DX; the device that arrived today is a 10-day loaner from Amazon with a promotional $30 added to my account for review purposes. Do I feel compelled to buy one now that I’ve been using it for a few hours? Far too soon to tell but it’s safe to say it’s a very different experience from its older, but smaller siblings.

New Online Mag About Jewish News Launches
Calling itself “a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture,” Tablet began publishing Tuesday. Tablet lists an impressive bunch of contributors and is edited by Alana Newhouse, the former culture editor of The Forward, along with Jesse Oxfeld, who serves as executive editor.

News Corp. in Talks to Unload Weekly Standard to Anschutz
News Corp. is near a deal to sell its right-wing political magazine, The Weekly Standard, to conservative media mogul Philip Anschutz. As the prospects for print media shrink, News Corp. may be reviewing all its assets and deciding what stays and what goes.

Magazine Researchers Explore New Ways to Weigh Ad Impact
On television, advertisers pay based on the ratings of a particular commercial. On the Internet, they pay according to a measurement like a click on an ad. And in magazines, advertisers choose where to run ads based on the results of door-to-door surveys done twice a year.

CBS Finds Sweet Ratings Surprise in Award Shows
Last Sunday, 7.6 million viewers tuned in to CBS’ broadcast of the Tony Awards, an increase of 1.2 million compared to last year. The network’s Grammy award telecast was seen by 19 million viewers, up 10 percent. And the Academy of Country Music Awards pulled 14.8 million viewers, the most in 11 years

Dave Beats Conan: Panic at NBC?
Boosted by a visit from Julia Roberts Tuesday, CBS’s Late Show With David Letterman scored its first nightly win over Conan O’Brien. The Letterman win ended six straight nights of O’Brien dominance in the ratings.

Broadcast TV Never Converted Its Digital Dream
After enduring loads of hassle — coupons! deadlines! converter boxes! — the net impact of the digital conversion will be a few more channels and the chance to see Mr. T again. The brave new world of digital broadcasting turned out to be modest because “broadcasters never really tried to innovate.”

CBS’ Moonves Reassures Stockholders
“We believe we have seen the bottom of the downturn” and things will get better as the year unfolds, Les Moonves said at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. “We are seeing early signs of improvement in the advertising marketplace, both in local and national.”

Craigslist Revenues: $100 Million — or $300 Million?
Craigslist is on track to make $100 million in revenues this year, according to a private study by the AIM Group/Classified Intelligence group. But there is evidence — on their own site — that the service’s annual revenues are actually a good deal more than $300 million.

Facebook to let users add names to profile addresses
Facebook on Friday will begin letting members use their full names in online addresses for profile pages at the popular online social networking service

WordPress 2.8 Now Available for Download (Mashable)
WordPress has just released the newest version of their installable blog software: WordPress 2.8 – Baker. The most notable addition would seem to be the ability to browse themes from within the WordPress Dashboard. With the Theme Browser, you can specify the color you want, how many columns there should be, and fixed or flexible width. You can then select and install themes match those criteria on-the-fly, without leaving the Dashboard. WordPress 2.8 also offers a re-designed widgets interface, improved speed, and has fixed a reported 790 bugs.

Massive Layoffs Coming to MySpace?
MySpace is about to have a major wave of layoffs, according to multiple sources close to the company. One source describes the number of people affected as “massive,” while another source says that the layoffs will likely affect between 300 and 500 employees.

U.S. Ad Spending Fell 14 Percent in First Quarter
U.S. ad spending on media such as TV, print, and online display ads fell 14 percent to $30.18 billion in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to TNS Media Intelligence, despite guardedly optimistic talk in recent weeks about a bottoming out in the market.

Mad Men, AMC Settle Two-Minute Dispute
AMC and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner have agreed to let the show’s episodes run over into the 11 p.m. hour so extra commercial time can be added without having to shorten the scripts to accommodate the ads.

Microsoft Adds TV-Style Game Show (Complete With Commercial Breaks) To Xbox (Paid Content)
With 1 vs. 100, the live game show it launched in open beta on the Xbox last week, Microsoft is also pushing another TV staple to the video-game console: The commercial break. The show 1 vs. 100 lets thousands of Xbox owners respond to questions while listening to a live host provide comedic commentary. And just like a TV show, segments are divided by 30-second ad spots… 1 vs. 100 is part of a larger initiative by Microsoft to broaden the appeal of the Xbox beyond its core young, male demographic.

Saving Grace With SavvyAuntie; TNT Tries Sponsored Tweets (Mashable)
Melanie Notkin, otherwise known as @SavvyAuntie and the founder of the social network by the same name, has been tasked with a very unusual role by a major cable television network. Turner’s TNT has hired the savvy auntie to officially live tweet on behalf of the Saving Grace program starting next Tuesday, June 16th at 10pm EST. These sponsored conversations will be hosted by Notkin (a prominent member of New York’s Social Media Hub) and use the hashtag #SavingGrace with [sp] to denote that the tweets are sponsored.

Air Writing: Next Big Thing in Cell Phones?
Forget fumbling with tiny cell phone keys.  A prototype of a new application allows cell phone users to write short notes in the air and send them automatically to an e-mail address… “By holding the phone like a pen, you can write short messages or draw simple diagrams in the air,” said Sandip Agrawal, an electrical and computer engineering student at Duke University in North Carolina. The air-writing app takes advantage of accelerometers already inside cell phones.
Sounds pretty awkward to me. And slow. How about, instead, a hologram of a keyboard that can sense where the fingers “tap”?

Review: New Intel chips power skinny laptops
Tiny, cheap laptops known as netbooks have been a big success. But not everyone likes their small screens and keyboards, and their processors aren’t powerful enough for some common tasks, like playing high-quality Internet video. Now, Intel Corp. is pushing slightly more powerful chips for slightly larger computers that still have key netbook qualities such as a light weight and long battery life. Could this be a Goldilocks moment for laptops – when we get machines that are just right?

Media & Politics

Permanent link to MTA daily media news

“All that is required is leadership.” (by Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors)
Gee, Rachel, maybe you shouldn’t have been such a Hillary basher last year. She’s pushing for State Department employees to receive the same benefits for same sex partners as for married spouses. Click through to watch the video.

Dismay over Obama’s Turnabout on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (Time)
The endorsement of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” by the Administration marks the latest rightward tack by Obama. The President denounced many of George W. Bush’s national-security policies during the campaign, but in office has adopted more conservative positions, including endorsing military commissions to try purported terrorists, and declining to release a second batch of photographs depicting alleged U.S. maltreatment of Iraqi detainees. His stance on “Don’t ask, don’t tell” may be more surprising, because Obama aides have made clear the President wants the ban lifted eventually.

Obama Not Being Trotsky in Disguise: Good or Bad? (by Pareene at Gawker)
Obama’s philosophy of government is all about, in Rahm Emanuel’s phrase, “the art of the possible.”… Kevin Baker’s essay in the upcoming Harper’s, “Barack Hoover Obama” [subscription required] … addresses the inkling of dissatisfaction we have each time we hear that [Rahm] Emanuel phrase repeated: don’t you have, right now, a rather historic opportunity to redefine what the “possible” means? “… “We are back in Evan Bayh territory here, espousing a ‘pragmatism’ that is not really pragmatism at all, just surrender to the usual corporate interests. The common thread running through all of Obama’s major proposals right now is that they are labyrinthine solutions designed mainly to avoid conflict… They bear the seeds of their own defeat.”

Annals of Worshipful Mindlessness (by Arthur Silber at the Power of Narrative)
In a story about the Obamas’ “date night” that included attendance at a Broadway play, we learn the following: “Then it was up to Broadway, where they had tickets at the Belasco Theatre for ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,’ a play by August Wilson about a man coming to terms with the history of slavery. ‘I’m nervous, excited, honored,’ said Andre Holland, who plays character Jeremy Furlow, before the show. ‘It’s like in Shakespearean times, when the king would come to the show.’”…

This is part and parcel of the undue reverence and obeisance offered to the U.S. president (“the biggest standing ovation of the night”), as the ultimate representative of authority, a notably mistaken and dangerous state of affairs. Given the actual behavior of almost all U.S. presidents for the last hundred years (and longer), including the numerous wars and interventions they have instigated and the millions of innocent people they have caused to be murdered, to say nothing of their actions on the domestic front, those presidents may be entirely deserving of many responses; reverence and obeisance are decidedly not among them.
Arthur gives the quote by Evan Thomas of Newsweek that I mentioned on Monday, comparing Obama to God.

Limbaugh: Obama has “god complex,” “imposing his values” on U.S. economy and “destroying it” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

The habit of skepticism (by John Caruso at The Distant Ocean, thanks to Arthur Silber at the Power of Narrative)
[T]here’s scarcely a sentiment in Obama’s
Cairo speech that wasn’t already spoken by George W. Bush.  And yet when Obama offers the same platitudes—sometimes in the exact same words—credulous liberals are seized by fits of swooning and enraptured praise just shy of glossolalia.  Obama’s speech wasn’t some epoch-defining moment of transformation from a “transcendent leader”; it was a moment of polished stagecraft from a consummate salesman for American empire and corporate capitalism.  It was the same old wine in a lovely new bottle, from someone who’s already shown us repeatedly that his words aren’t matched by his actions.  And had it been their arch-nemesis George Bush giving this speech instead of the Anointed One, they’d have had no trouble seeing that.

One can only hope that some day these people will embrace the habit of skepticism for all politicians, not just the ones on the other side, and finally and fully accept that fine words alone mean nothing at all—no matter who speaks them.

Bronstein on Obama and the press: “This guy is good. Really good. And, frankly, so far, we’re not” (SFGate.com, via Poynter Online)
“You can’t blame powerful people for wanting to play the press to peddle self-perpetuating mythology,” writes Phil Bronstein. “But you can blame the press, already suffocating under a massive pile of blame, guilt, heavy debt and sinking fortunes, for being played. Some of the time, it seems we’re even enthusiastically jumping into the pond without even being pushed. Is there an actual limit to the number of instances you can be the cover of Newsweek?”

Barack, It is time to CATCH UP (by J -SOM at Liberal Rapture)
Ted Olson is a conservative’s conservative. Listen to him on gay marriage below. Remarkable quote from the clip: “‘George W Bush’s Solicitor General is now more pro gay rights than President Barrack Obama.’ Olson: ‘Well, I hope he’ll catch up.’” From your mouth, Ted, to Barry’s ears.
Click through to watch the video.

Obama: Pay-as-you-go plan must become law (UPI)
U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday called on Congress to live within its means by giving a pay-as-you-go plan the force of law. Reining in deficits must be done in a fiscally responsible manner, Obama said in endorsing the so-call PAYGO plan, surrounded by members of the House Blue Dogs, a group of fiscally conservative Democrats supporting the rule of offsetting spending with revenue-producing initiatives.
Do you know what that means for health care, friends? It means we’re screwed.

Blue Dog Democrats could have major role in shaping health bill (McClatchy)
President Barack Obama is moving quickly to head off opposition to major health care legislation from fiscal conservatives in Congress by vowing to follow strict rules for paying for it without further driving up the already huge deficit.

Target Landrieu, Not Limbaugh (by Chris Bowers at Open Left, thanks to Susie at Suburban Guerilla)
Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu has backtracked, and no longer supports the public option… [P]rogressive organizations and media outlets need to be targeting the Landrieus of the world, not the Limbaughs. If the public option is defeated, it will be the fault of the Landrieus, and of Democratic leadership that either did not place enough pressure on her, or was ineffective in the pressure they placed. And, if that defeat happen, it will signal the end of any possibility of real progressive governance during the Democratic trifecta.
My comment: Absolutely. This business of ridiculing Limbaugh, which the DNC thought was such a good idea, won’t advance the progressive cause. Targeting Blue Dogs will.

Shorter NewsHour: Give up peasants, you have no power (by DCblogger at Corrente)
Check out this excerpt from a NewsHour report on the health care debate: “MITCH STEWART: I think having this face-to-face conversation happening across the country is something that’s never happened before. And I think our leaders in Washington are going to take note of that… BETTY ANN BOWSER: But congressional scholar Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution thinks the effort won’t have much impact on health care reform.”

No power, eh? We’ll see about that.
Flood ‘Em
(by Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
This is an emergency. In addition to contacting your own representatives, Sen. Max Baucus and Sen. Olympia Snowe are the ones we need to back off on their plans to eviscerate the public healthcare plan. Please take the time today to call or fax.

Kennedy releases health bill — without key sections (On Politics, USA Today)
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released its version of the health care bill — but without addressing some key, unresolved issues, such as employer mandates and a public option. The committee will meet tomorrow and Thursday “to discuss outstanding legislative options such as the public option and employer mandate,” the press release just issued by the committee says. ”We have a unique opportunity to give the American people, at long last, the health care they need and deserve,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said in a statement. 

Democrats’ draft health bill delays GOP confrontation (McClatchy)
Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions released their health care proposal Tuesday, but left out for now the two elements Republicans dislike the most — a new government-run insurance plan and a requirement that employers provide coverage or pay a penalty.
Interesting way to put it, McClatchy. I’d have said they were too chicken to put in the tough parts.

Third Way Memo On Public Health Care Stirs Progressive Outrage (by Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post)
A health care policy statement causing an uproar among progressives was drafted by three policy analysts, one of whom has longtime connections to the health insurance industry. The paper, which surfaced on Monday, is written by the organization
Third Way and rejects calls for a public health care option that would be available to anyone and would compete with private insurance on the grounds that it would be divisive and undermine broader reform goals.

The last taboo in the health care debate: The market’s FAIL (by lambert at Corrente)
Imagine the kind of world where a stenographer can write this paragraph, and the Very Serious People will nod in agreement: “But critics argue that with low administrative costs and no need to produce profits, a public plan will start with an unfair pricing advantage. They say that if a public plan is allowed to pay doctors and hospitals at levels comparable to Medicare’s, which are substantially below commercial insurance rates, it could set premiums so low it would quickly consume the market.” And you say that like it’s a bad thing! Because in health care, destroying the market is exactly what we want to do: It’s a massive FAIL, and what FAILs should die.

The pitting of doctor against doctor (by Stephen J. Bergman, a doctor and author, thanks to Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
The issue isn’t that primary-care doctors get paid less than cardiac surgeons, but that the system of healthcare rests on insurance companies and their CEOs making huge profits. No amount of cost-cutting can save enough money to support a for-profit system. The only solution is a universal, government-run healthcare system. Surveys suggest that a majority of Americans and doctors desire this. Any plan that puts private insurance in anything other than an optional, “concierge” system for the rich is just whistling past the graveyard of American healthcare.

The administrative cost for a private, for-profit health insurance system is approximately 33 percent ($300 billion annually); the administrative cost for the two government-run health systems, the Veterans Administration and Medicare, is about 3 percent. The level of satisfaction with these two nonprofit systems is high; that of for-profit is low. Why in the world should healthcare be for profit?
Why, indeed? I actually remember the days before for-profit health care. It didn’t cost nearly as much, even converted to today’s dollars.

Minority lawmakers to highlight health disparities (AP)
Black, Latino and Asian lawmakers want President Barack Obama to focus more on racial disparities reported in medical treatment as the White House works toward overhauling the nation’s health care system.

House Dems favor insurance requirement (AP)
Senior House Democrats drafting health care legislation are considering slapping an unspecified financial penalty on anyone who refuses to purchase affordable health insurance, a key committee chairman said Monday. In addition, officials said Democrats are considering a new tax on certain health insurance benefits as one of numerous options to help pay for expanding coverage to the uninsured. No details on the tax were immediately available, and no final decisions were expected until next week at the earliest.

Report: House Dems Angry With Reid For Caving To Centrists And GOP (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
There’s a choice piece of news buried way at the end of Matt Bai’s big New York Times magazine piece on the White House’s dealings with Congress on health care. To wit: House Dems are growing increasingly upset with Harry Reid for refusing to meaningfully challenge centrist Dem Senators and allegedly caving to threats of a GOP filibuster on issue after issue:

“Some House Democrats I talked to … accuse Reid and his lieutenants of repeatedly placating Republicans to avoid a filibuster, rather than taking a stand on principle now and then. Why not force centrist Democrats to vote against their party and let Republicans filibuster the agenda on national television? What would the voters think then?” A lot of folks would love an answer to this question.
Many folks have wanted the answer to that same damn question for many years now.

Obama’s summer jobs plan: work for 600,000 people (Los Angeles Times)
President Obama today promised to deliver more than 600,000 new jobs this summer with accelerated spending of some of the $787-billion economic stimulus that Congress approved at his urging earlier this year. The boost in employment will not offset the job losses of recent months — with more than 1.6 million jobs shaved from the economy since Congress approved the stimulus plan in February. Unemployment last month reached 9.4%, the highest since 1983.

Obama’s new stimulus plan same as the old (AP)
President Barack Obama is promising some exciting coming attractions for his stimulus plan. But it turns out they’re just summer reruns.

EMPIRICAL PROOF: Obama Stimulus = FAIL (by Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker)
Remember we had a graph trotted out with Obama’s economic team when they proposed their “stimulus”, and projected unemployment (and GDP!) with and without their stimulus? Well, another blogger has plotted that first graph against actual results… Employment is, in fact, everything.  It is payments on credit cards, it is payments on mortgages, it is ability to buy a new house, it is the ability to buy a car, pay for your iPhone and so on. Without employment – sustainable, high-quality, high-paying employment that provides at least a solid middle-class wage, there is no economic stability, say much less economic growth. Period.

Morris conspiracy theory: Recovery Act “designed to increase government spending and the recession was the excuse” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Limbaugh: Obama is redistributing money from private sector to unions, civil rights coalitions (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Banks to Repay Bailout Funds (Truthdig)
Some of the country’s major banks are prepared to pay back money they borrowed under the TARP program, but don’t get too excited. The initial repayment is expected to be a meager $50 billion, which Timothy Geithner wants to inject right back into other troubled banks. On top of which, the repaying banks will probably continue to draw financing from the Federal Reserve.

Bank bailout turns out to have been good business for U.S. (McClatchy)
When Congress passed the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package last fall, critics said it’d be a money loser. But when 10 banks returned $68 billion of the money on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said the government had realized a small profit.
McClatchy, McClatchy. I really expect better of you. How can a return of $68 billion on a $700 billion loan be considered a profit?

Market reacts coolly to bank bailout repayment (AP)
Investors reacted coolly to word that 10 of the nation’s largest banks can repay $68 billion in bailout money.

TARP Watchdog: We Should Have Semi-Regular Stress Tests (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
One of the five members of the TARP Oversight Committee said on Monday that the government would be wise to run regular stress tests of the nation’s banks, even during times of relative economic prosperity. Richard Neiman, who sits on the Congressional Oversight Panel, said that while he was confident in the model and result of the first stress test on the nation’s largest banks, he thinks the stress tests are an important measure of the solvency and stability of those institutions and should be continued.

Did Hank Paulson Use TARP as a “Ruse” to Rescue Citigroup? (by bostonboomer at The Confluence)
Be sure you’re sitting down before you read this, Okay? Barry Rithholtz speculates in his forthcoming book, Bailout Nation that the entire multi-trillion dollar boondoggle was “a giant ruse, a Hank Paulson engineered scam to cover up the simple fact that CitiGroup (C) was teetering on the brink of implosion. A loan just to Citi alone would have been problematic, went this line of brilliant reasoning, so instead, we gave money to all the big banks.”
And that would explain why the banks were pressured to take the money Anything is possible in our corrupt society. Order Ritholtz’ book here.

Bank Profits From Accounting Rules Masking Looming Loan Losses (Bloomberg)
Big banks in the
U.S. say they’re on the mend. The five largest were profitable in the first quarter, rebounding from record losses for the industry in the fourth quarter. Share prices have jumped, with the KBW Bank Index doubling since March 6… The revival may be short-lived. Analysts who have examined the quarterly profits and government tests say that accounting rule changes and rosy assumptions are making the institutions look healthier than they are…

Citigroup’s $1.6 billion in first-quarter profit would vanish if accounting were more stringent, says Martin Weiss of Weiss Research Inc. in Jupiter, Florida. “The big banks’ profits were totally bogus,” says Weiss, whose 38-year-old firm rates financial companies. “The new accounting rules, the stress tests: They’re all part of a major effort to put lipstick on a pig.”

Outrage — And Business as Usual (by Marie Cocco)
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that financial institutions and affiliated trade groups have spent $27.6 million lobbying to relax rules governing how they account for the value of securities they hold. Already, a loosening of accounting rule changes made in April — under pressure from sympathetic lawmakers — helped some banks through the Obama administration’s “stress tests” despite widespread assumptions that the banks are overstating their strength. The industry also is digging in — and doling out money for lobbying and campaign contributions — for a battle over how to regulate derivatives, the financial instruments traded in opaque ways that are among the core contributors to the financial crisis.

This is not an industry humbled. Not by its reliance on billions in taxpayer bailout money, not by its role in precipitating the economic crisis. “At some point the senators in this chamber will decide the bankers shouldn’t write the agenda for the United States Senate,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said as his colleagues prepared to vote against his bid for the mortgage relief provision. At some point, maybe. But not just now.

America’s socialism for the rich: Corporate welfarism (by Joseph E. Stiglitz, thanks to Economist’s View)
Rewriting the rules of the market economy – in a way that has benefited those that have caused so much pain to the entire global economy – is worse than financially costly. Most Americans view it as grossly unjust, especially after they saw the banks divert the billions intended to enable them to revive lending to payments of outsized bonuses and dividends. Tearing up the social contract is something that should not be done lightly… We need to break up the too-big-to-fail banks; there is no evidence that these behemoths deliver societal benefits that are commensurate with the costs they have imposed on others. And, if we don’t break them up, then we have to severely limit what they do. They can’t be allowed to do what they did in the past – gamble at others’ expenses.

This raises another problem with America‘s too-big-to-fail, too-big-to-be-restructured banks: they are too politically powerful. Their lobbying efforts worked well, first to deregulate, and then to have taxpayers pay for the cleanup. Their hope is that it will work once again to keep them free to do as they please, regardless of the risks for taxpayers and the economy. We cannot afford to let that happen.

Economist: Housing bubble caused Great Depression, too (McClatchy)
Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon Smith draws some disturbing parallels between the events that led up to the Great Depression of the 1930s and the severe economic slump of today.
When will we EVER learn?

Financial Community Norms (by Mark Thoma at Economist’s View)
Bill Easterly: “…[M]ost rules we live by in a free society are more the product of community norms than they are of formal laws…” There’s a lesson here for regulation. It’s not enough to change the rules. If the culture doesn’t change to support those rules, the rules won’t be effective. The current crisis wasn’t just because we had ineffective regulation and all we have to do now to fix things is to change the rules of the game. Attitudes must change as well… [W]e need new regulation, but the financial community also needs to establish new norms, and people who step outside of those norms must be socially ostracized in whatever sense is required in those markets. Rules and regulations are not enough by themselves, community attitudes must change as well.
Our whole wealth and celebrity adoring society needs to change. Let’s start celebrating the people who do the most to help others, rather than the people who do the most to help themselves.

Some Wall Street Interests Scale Back on Political Giving (Capital Eye)
As the economic crisis continued during the first three months of 2009, many institutions in the powerful finance, insurance and real estate sector have scaled back on contributions to lawmakers, CRP has found… For some companies in this troubled sector, contributions have fallen by many hundreds of thousands of dollars compared to the first quarter of 2005 or the first quarter of 2007.

Official: Obama wants shareholder say on exec pay (AP)
An administration official says President Barack Obama will ask Congress to give shareholders a nonbinding voice in how much corporate executives are paid. It’s an effort to link compensation to long-term performance rather than short-term gains. The official said the president also will seek legislation that requires corporate compensation committees to be independent from corporate management. The move would give the Securities and Exchange Commission authority to strengthen the independence of the panels that set executive pay.
Nonbinding? What good is that? Don’t the stockholders own the damn company?

A Republican to Save Us (by Robert Scheer at Truthdig)
[Sheila] Bair is the Republican whom President Obama reappointed to head the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but she is protecting the interest of taxpayers as no Democrat has in this administration, and she needs your support. Huge financial decisions are being made by this government, involving trillions in future obligations of U.S. taxpayers, and Bair has been a rare effective voice for the interests of ordinary folk… Bair, who has been insisting, over Geithner’s objection, that major changes occur in the leadership of Citigroup to give the taxpayers a better chance to get some of that money back…

Rest assured, if Bair loses out and [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner has his way, Citigroup’s CEO and the other Wall Street moguls will be thrilled. But the public will have lost its most effective advocate.

Bernanke Might Get Another Term (Political Wire)
Though convention wisdom had White House economic adviser Larry Summers as a Federal Board Chairman-in-waiting, the New York Times says current Fed chief Ben Bernanke might actually get reappointed. “Bernanke’s aggressive response to the crisis has so improved his reputation that people close to Mr. Obama increasingly suggest the president could well reappoint him in the interests of financial stability — just as Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton retained Fed chiefs who had been picked by predecessors of the other party.”

House Committee Subpoenas Federal Reserve (Bloomberg)
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said it had a subpoena served on the Federal Reserve to compel it to turn over documents related to Bank of America Corp.’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co.

Regulatory “Interagency Turf War” (by Mark Thoma at Economist’s View)
Small, fractured regulatory authority is no match for too big and too interconnected to fail institutions. The problem with multiple regulatory authority, or one problem anyway, is that firms can shop around for the lightest regulation, then do their best to redefine what they do through creative financial engineering until it fits under the less restrictive umbrella (and prior to the crash, firms did just that). In addition, they also put pressure on both legislators and regulators to support those redefinitions. The result is, essentially, regulatory capture through arbitrage and less than effective regulation.

Limbaugh: “[Obama] did not inherit a mess. He has created one” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Fiat closes deal to take bulk of Chrysler’s assets (AP)
Italy‘s Fiat is the new owner of most of Chrysler’s assets, closing a deal Wednesday that saves the troubled U.S. automaker from liquidation and places a new company in the hands of Fiat’s CEO.

Obama rewards AT&T warrantless surveillance CEO Ed Whitacre with chairmanship of GM (by lambert at Corrente)
Thank gawd — or the 11 dimensional chess player — that FISA [cough] reform gave the telcos retroactive immunity! Because otherwise Ed Whitacre, 17-year AT&T Chairman and CEO, would be in jail — since FISA violations were felonies, back when we had the rule of law — instead of being tapped to run GM! Online WSJ: “The 67-year-old Mr. Whitacre is known as a straight-talking, no-nonsense executive with a track record of cutting big deals and working closely with the U.S. government [in small matters like shredding the Fourth Amendment], skills that could prove critical for GM as it orchestrates a massive restructuring under close scrutiny [BWA-HA-HA-HA!] of the U.S. Treasury.”

Rush: Boycott GM so Obama fails (by Alegre)
Unreal… is this guy really so full of hate that he’d work to see one-third of this nation’s largest industrial base go belly-up, just to see the WH fail in their effort to save it? This nation needs to create more jobs and if GM shutters the rest o fits plants then its workers, suppliers, small businesses in the towns and entire communities will fail.  The ripples will turn into a tsunami and Limbaugh is telling his listeners to help make that happen.
My comment: But don’t we call for boycotts of Rush’s advertisers?

Lawmakers scramble to help auto dealers and consumers (McClatchy)
Responding to consumers and car dealers upset by the upheavals in the American auto industry, lawmakers in Congress moved quickly Tuesday to provide relief from dealer closings and sluggish sales.

Yet another review ordered of Afghan policy — fifth this year (McClatchy)
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Monday gave the new U.S. commander in Afghanistan 60 days to conduct another review of the American strategy there, the fifth since President Barack Obama took office less than five months ago.

Obama given some credit for Lebanon vote’s moderate turn (McClatchy)
Lebanon‘s pro-Western political parties turned their focus Monday toward crafting a stable coalition government hours after voters, prodded by the Obama administration to embrace moderation, soundly rebuffed efforts by Iran-backed Hezbollah politicians to secure more political power in Beirut.

Release of interrogation files would endanger security, CIA tells judge  (Los Angeles Times)
CIA Director Leon Panetta told a federal judge Monday that releasing documents about the agency’s terrorism interrogations would harm national security. Panetta sent an affidavit to New York federal judge Alvin Hellerstein, arguing that release of agency cables describing tough interrogation methods used on Al Qaeda suspects would tell the enemy too much. The CIA director filed the papers in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The suit has already led to the unveiling of Bush administration legal memos authorizing harsh methods and to a fight over releasing photos of abused detainees.

Cantor Falsely Claims There Are No ‘Judicial Precedents’ For The Prosecution Of Suspected Terrorists On U.S. Soil (Think Progress)
[Tuesday], Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Ghailani was transferred to New York to face trial for the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya… The right wing … has seized the opportunity to launch baseless, fearmongering attacks, with House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) leading the way: “This is the first step in the Democrats’ plan to import terrorists into America…” However, the Justice Department [on Tuesday] put out a lengthy fact sheet listing nine of major international and domestic terrorism cases that just the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York alone has successfully prosecuted since the 1990s. The release also responded to right-wing criticisms that U.S. prisons can’t handle terrorists… “[O]ther defendants in the embassy bombings were tried and convicted in New York.”

FBI director defends use of informants in mosques (AP)
FBI Director Robert Mueller on Monday defended the agency’s use of informants within
U.S. mosques, despite complaints from Muslim organizations that worshippers and clerics are being targeted instead of possible terrorists… “We don’t investigate places, we investigate individuals,” Mueller said during a brief meeting with reporters in Los Angeles… The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder after mosques and other groups reported members of the community have been asked to monitor people coming to mosques and donations they make. The FBI’s Detroit office has denied the allegations.

Von Spakovsky: Still Fabricating Facts, Still Suppressing Votes (Think Progress)
Further demonstrating that no conservative can be so disgraced that they cannot later be published in the Wall Street Journal, Bush-era vote suppression guru Hans von Spakovsky has an op-ed in today’s WSJ claiming that the Justice Department has “spent the last several months misinterpreting key voting rights laws for nakedly political reasons”… Both of Spakovsky’s exhibits have no basis in reality… [T]he Justice Department dismissed their claim against [two] Black Panthers not for some nefarious purpose, but because there wasn’t any reliable evidence showing that the Black Panthers violated the law. Now that Spakovsky no longer works there, the DOJ actually requires evidence before it brings a case.

Spakovsky’s claim that the DOJ “stopped Georgia from implementing a key provision of the Help America Vote Act” is also false. In truth the DOJ halted an illegal voter suppression scheme that systematically screened out “thousands of citizens who are in fact eligible to vote.”

Clinton honored for ‘18 million cracks’ in glass ceiling (Foreign Policy)
Yet again, Secretary Clinton receives an award. Today, she receives the Alice Award, presented annually to a woman who has made “an outstanding contribution in breaking barriers and setting new precedents for women.”
Clinton is being honored for putting “eighteen million cracks” in the glass ceiling.

Sotomayor fractures ankle at New York airport (USA Today)
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor broke her ankle Monday morning in an airport stumble on her way to Washington to meet with senators who will vote on her confirmation… Sotomayor [kept] her six appointments with senators despite the injury. 

I Feel Your Pain (by Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
Judge Sotomayor, I really do. But 1) your ankle is broken, not sprained – so it will be easier to fix and 2) you’re a federal employee, so you have GREAT insurance!!! So really, you’re much luckier than many people. Don’t forget that on the bench, okay?

Limbaugh: “Would a white male judge have fractured his ankle in the same circumstances” as Sotomayor? (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Limbaugh: “I hope [Sotomayor] can find a wise Latina doctor to set that ankle as opposed to an average white doctor” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Sotomayor Hearings To Begin on July 13 (Dissenting Justice)
Senator Patrick Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has announced that confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will begin on July 13. Republicans, however, argue that this date is too early and will not give the Senate enough time to evaluate her record prior to the August recess for Congress. Underneath the political rangling over the timing of the hearings, the Democrats want to complete the process before August because the longer Sotomayor’s nomination remains pending, the longer she will remain vulnerable to attacks from her opponents. Republicans want to keep things unresolved into September for the exact same reason.

Jonah “own goal” Goldberg strikes again (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Jonah Goldberg wonders: “Would judge Sotomayor be your first pick in a lawsuit against a Puerto Rican organization if your livelihood was on the line?…” Goldberg seems to think he’s won some sort of rhetorical point against Sotomayor by inviting readers to consider whether they would want her to preside over their hypothetical lawsuit against a hypothetical “Puerto Rican organization.” In fact, Goldberg has inadvertantly made the case for diversity in the courts.  After all, Goldberg’s question can easily be re-phrased: Would Judge Roberts or Alito be your first pick in a lawsuit against an organization run by white males if your livelihood was on the line?

Cal Thomas compares Sotomayor to ‘white supremacy’ advocate G. Harrold Carswell. (Think Progress)
On Fox News Sunday this weekend, conservative columnist Cal Thomas declared that “as usual,” Rush Limbaugh is “absolutely right” when he calls Judge Sonia Sotomayor a “racist.” Thomas complained that the media has a “double standard” when it comes to covering Supreme Court nominees accused of racism, citing two judges nominated by Richard Nixon — Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell.
Click through to watch the video.

Sotomayor: Crimebuster (by Karen Travers, Ann Compton and Sunlen Miller at Political Punch, ABC News)
[Tuesday] in Washington, eight national law enforcement organizations announced their support for Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court, including the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of District Attorneys and the National Latino Peace Officers Association. Sotomayor served as an assistant district attorney in New York City.

Laura Bush: ‘I’m proud’ of Obama’s pick of Sotomayor, she sounds like ‘a good nominee.’ (Think Progress)
In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, former First Lady Laura Bush offered her endorsement of President Obama’s pick of Sonia Sotomayor to sit on the Supreme Court. “I think she sounds like a very interesting and good nominee,” Bush said. She added: “As a woman, I’m proud there might be another woman on the Court. So we’ll see what happens, but I wish her well.”
Click through to watch the video. I always thought Laura was a liberal. She never seemed comfortable when they trotted her out to spout the party line.

Ana Marie Cox hasn’t read Sotomayor’s writing, but accuses her of “not performing at grade level” (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Ana Marie Cox, in today’s Washington Post online discussion: ”Successful judges tend to be good speakers and even better writers (Scalia probably writes the most entertaining decisions of the SCOTUS, tho Roberts is also good); Sotomayor’s ‘Latina line’ makes me think she’s not performing at grade level on either.” Wow, that’s a pretty harsh assessment.  How did Ana Marie Cox reach her conclusion that Sonia Sotomayor’s writing isn’t at the “grade level” of a successful judge?  Not by reading Sotomayor’s writing: “That said: Like 99% of the people weighing in on her nom, I haven’t read her all of stuff! Or most! Or any!” What “grade level” does suggesting someone’s writing is subpar without actually, you know, reading it qualify you for?  Third?

Like we said, it’s open season on Sotomayor at the New York Times (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
“Lightweight Sotomayor?” That’s a headline that quite literally could have been faxed over from the RNC and a headline that has no connection to reality or Sotomayor’s nearly two-decade career on the bench.

Attack On Sotomayor’s Political Ties Ignores Roberts’ Link To Bush (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
The current chief justice and pride of the conservative judicial movement was a member of Lawyers for Bush-Cheney, DC Lawyers for Bush-Quayle ’88, and the Republican Lawyers Association — an organization affiliated with the RNC. Roberts also donated $1,000 to the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign and started his career in a Republican administration, as special assistant to the U.S. Attorney General William French Smith during the Reagan years. The most serious charge of overt partisanship, though one never established, was that Roberts informally advised then Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his handling of the Florida recount [obstruction] effort during the 2000 election.

Court: Judges must avoid appearance of bias (AP)
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that elected judges must step aside from cases when large campaign contributions from interested parties create the appearance of bias.

Excellent (by Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
Now if only we could get the appointed judges to recuse themselves on similar conflicts.

Four Right-Wing Supreme Court Justices Argue That Buying Off A Judge Is No Problem (Think Progress)
When West Virginia coal overlord Don Blankenship’s company lost a $50 million verdict to one of its competitors, Blankenship set out to buy a judge. Rather than appeal his case to a fair tribunal, Blankenship spent $3 million to elect a friendly lawyer to the West Virginia Supreme Court, even running ads accusing the lawyer’s opponent of voting to free an incarcerated child rapist, and of allowing that rapist to work in a public school. Once elected by a Blankenship-funded campaign, the newly-minted justice cast the deciding vote overturning the verdict against Blankenship’s company.

[Monday], the Supreme Court held that this kind of justice-for-sale bribery has no place under the United States Constitution. But all four of the Court’s most conservative members voted that there is no problem when a wealthy businessman literally buys a judge. In a dissent joined by conservative justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts argued that this decision — on a case so egregious that John Grisham turned it into a legal thriller — would encourage “groundless” charges that other “judges are biased”.

Should Catholic justices recuse themselves on certain cases? (by Joyce Appleby at History News Service)
If Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, joins the court, she will turn its five Catholic members into a two-thirds’ majority. She will in fact be replacing one of the two Protestants who remained on the court.

Union Targets Democrats With Significant Online EFCA Campaign (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
The Service Employees International Union is, according to an aide, putting “well more than $100,000″ behind online ads and similar promotional activities designed to turn up the heat on members of Congress whose support for EFCA is tepid or non-existent… “Big banks and greedy corporations got our country into this mess,” reads the script, which is tailored to each individual Senator and state. “Now they want to fire or harass employees who want to join a union.” In addition to putting out the four web videos, the SEIU is also launching email campaigns targeting the five senators, with much the same message and aim.

U.S. war funding bill brims with unrelated extras (Reuters)
A $100 billion bill to fund
U.S. wars in Iraqand Afghanistan is rapidly accumulating extra items such as money for military aircraft the Pentagon doesn’t want and possibly a scheme to jump-start sagging auto sales. The cars and planes are not directly linked to the U.S. war effort. But they are typical of Congress’ penchant for loading bills with unrelated spending in hopes the funds will sail through on the strength of the main legislation.

Lieberman-Graham torture photo ban will be added to ‘every piece of legislation that comes down the pike.’ (Think Progress)
[T]he detainee photo amendment sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was stripped from the war supplemental in committee. The amendment would have allowed the Obama administration to suppress any “photograph taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained” after 9/11 by
U.S. forces. This afternoon, Graham and Lieberman held a press conference to register their objections to dropping the measure and announce that they had “added our original legislation as an amendment to the FDA regulation of tobacco bill that’s on the floor right now”:

Hastert Will Run for Father’s Seat (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Ethan Hastert (R), son of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R), has announced he’ll run for his father’s old seat in Congress, the Kane County Chronicle reports. Hastert, 31, said that he’s “forming a committee to begin his campaign and fundraising for the 14th District Congressional seat. He’s the first candidate to officially announce a run at the seat in 2010.”
Bill Foster won a surprise victory over the Republican candidate in the IL-14 special election. I haven’t looked at his voting record, but he was considered a progressive during the campaign.

Maloney Poll Shows Gillibrand Vulnerable (Political Wire)
Ben Smith reports on an internal poll conducted for Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) which found that she’d begin a race against Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) “with a small lead and could blow it open with attacks on Gillibrand’s ties to the tobacco industry and relatively conservative record.” The poll shows Maloney leading by a 34% to 32% margin and and that she leads 49% to 25% after voters have been read arguments against both senators.

Maloney Close to Hiring Trippi (Political Wire)
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) “is continuing to put the pieces together for a primary campaign” against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), “entering into serious talks with, among others, veteran campaign strategist Joe Trippi and Penn Schoen and Berland Associates to do her polling,” reports City Hall. “According to one person who spoke with her about Trippi over the weekend, Maloney was speaking about Trippi as if he had already been hired, noting that he had already offered her the advice of waiting until after July 4th to announce her candidacy, instead of by the end of the month, as had been the plan.”

Burris Has No Regrets (Political Wire)
“Amid a fresh round of controversy over the circumstances surrounding his appointment to the U.S. Senate, an unapologetic Roland Burris declared in a Chicago Tribune interview that he has ‘no regrets’ about the way he conducted himself in seeking the office or in the shifting explanations he has provided to the public.” Instead, Burris blamed the media. Said Burris: “There’s nothing to regret. I’ve been truthful in everything I’ve said. And I’ve got to say this, that it’s your colleagues, OK? … In the media, they have to look at what they’ve written.”

The Google Blast (Political Wire)
With Creigh Deeds (D) winning the Democratic primary in
Virginia by a wide margin, the story of [last] night — besides Terry McAuliffe (D) losing badly — might be the “Google blast” his campaign used in the final hours. Washington Post: “Starting at 3 p.m EST Monday, hours before polls opened across Virginia, Deeds’s campaign bought what’s called a ‘Google blast.’ Or, more appropriately, a Google attack. If you live in Northern Virginia (or, like many voters, work in D.C. but live in NoVa), Deeds has been almost inescapable on highly-trafficked sites such as washingtonpost.com, the blog Talking Points Memo and Oxygen.com, which is popular among women. Capitalizing on his Post endorsement, he peppered those sites with banner ads reading ‘The Washington Postendorsed one Democrat — Creigh Deeds’ until polls closed.”

Scott Murphy (D) used the same strategy in the final hours of his special election campaign earlier this year in New York‘s 20th congressional district.

The McAuliffe Story (Think Progress)
First Read notes that … the story [isn’t Creigh Deeds’ (D)] victory, but Terry McAuliffe’s (D) loss. ”Terry may have been a flawed candidate from the start. He gave the impression that he woke up one day and thought, ‘Hey, maybe I can win the
Virginia governorship.’ A few years back, he pondered a run for Florida governor, but the state has a seven-year residency requirement. If McAuliffe does come up short, his candidacy should serve as a reminder to anyone thinking about running for office — know why you want to run and lay the groundwork for years, not weeks or months.”

Smith Will Run for Senate in Florida (Political Wire)
We noted it two months ago, but now it’s official. Former Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH) will run for Senate from his new home in Florida, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Said Smith: “I can no longer sit on the sidelines in the fight for the soul of the Republican party.”

Paterson Remains Deeply Unpopular (Political Wire)
A new New York Times/Cornell/NY1 poll finds seven in ten New Yorkers believe New York Gov. David Paterson (D) does not deserve to be elected in 2010. In addition, voters “have also taken a personal dislike to Mr. Paterson, who now is less popular in the state than his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in disgrace after being identified as the client of a prostitution ring. Only 21% of New York voters say they have a favorable view of Mr. Paterson.”
So Charlie Rangel, why are you threatening Cuomo to stop him from challenging Paterson in the primary? Are you trying to lose the governorship for the Democrats? Are you starting to see the problem when party bosses try to control who gets to run for office?

GOP Coup Upsets Balance in NY Senate (NBC New York)
Democratic control of the state Senate appears to have ended after just five months after two dissident Democrats voted with the GOP to throw the Democratic majority out of power in a parliamentary coup. The decision by Senators Pedro Espada Jr. of the
Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens to join the coalition gave Republicans a 32-30 voting edge on hastily introduced measures that changed the leadership structure. Neither Espada nor Monserrate, who is facing charges of assaulting his girlfriend, changed party affiliation. The move gives Republicans a 32-30 voting edge in the chamber

Sinks Leads McCollum in Florida (Political Wire)
In Florida’s gubernatorial race next year, Alex Sink (D) holds an early lead over Bill McCollum (R), 38% to 34%, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. Said pollster Peter Brown: “Ms. Sink’s gender and the fact she would be the state’s first woman governor are working to her benefit.”

N. Carolina State fires wife of ex-governor as scandal erupts (McClatchy)
North Carolina State University’s Board of Trustees has terminated the contract of Mary Easley, the wife of former Gov. Mike Easley hours after it became clear that the governor had played a key role in arranging for his wife’s job… At the time, the university justified hiring Mary Easley without a job search by saying that she was “unique” for the speakers job and that her connections, many of them developed while her husband, Mike Easley, was the state’s attorney general and two-term governor, would help lure top names to campus. She had previously been a lawyer and then taught law courses at N.C. Central University in Durham. Mike Easley, a Democrat, was governor from 2001 until January.

Pawlenty: The GOP should be ‘just like Eminem.’ (Think Progress)
On Friday night, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) gave the keynote address at the College Republicans National Convention. Perhaps seeking cachet with his young audience, he referred to a stunt at the recent MTV Movie Awards, and suggested that the Republican Party should be “just like” the rapper Eminem: “‘Eminem was mad,’ he continued, to laughter and applause. ‘And so, just like Eminem getting dumped on, we’ve got to kind of regroup. We’ve got to continue to fight. And we’ve got some things worth fighting for.’” Considering Eminem has been criticized for sexism and homophobia, perhaps he is already serving as a model for the modern conservative movement.
Democrats showed themselves last year not to be free of sexism, either, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some buried homophobia, as well.

Video: Voight calls Obama ‘false prophet’ (On Politics, USA Today)
In case you missed it, here is the video of Jon Voight’s speech [Monday] night at the Republican congressional fundraiser — where the actor called President Obama a “false prophet,” “wildly radical” and “The One.”
That’s that leftist Hollyweird for ya.

Republicans Pull In More Than $14 Million (Political Wire)
Despite the back-and-forth over Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s attendance, Politico reports the NRCC and NRSC announced that [Monday] night’s GOP Senate-House Dinner raised a combined total of approximately $14.45 million.

Sarah Palin Didn’t ‘Plagiarize’ (by Pareene at Gawker)
Grow up, liberals. Sarah Palin gave a 15-minute introduction to Michael Reagan at some event last week, and the HuffPo has discovered that some of the words she used belong to Newt Gingrich! So you can go through her terrible speech and read some old Gingrich op-ed and painstakingly find every sentence or phrase that rings similar, if you want, and cry “plagiarism!” But we gave up on that once we read this bit of Palin’s speech: “Recently, Newt Gingrich, he had written a good article about Reagan….” She then goes on to summarize many of the things Newt Gingrich wrote about Ronald Reagan. So, yes, it is not by any standard a very good speech, and it is quite lazy, but to call it “plagiarism” is bullshit.

Barack Obama Orders the Shaving of Stephen Colbert’s Head (by The Cajun Boy at Gawker)
Stephen Colbert kicked off his week of U.S.O. broadcasts [Monday] night by attending boot camp to show solidarity with the troops stationed in Iraq, but that apparently wasn’t quite enough, as Barack Obama ordered that his head be shaved. Colbert, appearing on stage in a custom-made Brooks Brothers camouflage suit, is making history by being the first person in the history of the U.S.O. to film, edit and broadcast a non-news show from an active war zone. Besides going through a mildly simulated boot camp, Colbert took the liberty to declare victory in the Iraq War on his show last night, explaining his declaration to General Ray Odierno, commander of American troops in Iraq, by saying “we’re not hearing a lot of stories about the war back home.”

Chuck Todd to Write Book about Current Administration (New York Observer)
Chuck Todd — the chief White House correspondent and political director for NBC News — has sold a book proposal to editor Geoff Shandler of Little, Brown about the first few years of Barack Obama’s presidency.
I can already tell you that it will be a totally worthless book. Chuck Todd knows nothing about politics except whatever belching is going on in the Beltway.

Suddenly, Stu Rothenberg thinks Hardball has a “slant” (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Stuart Rothenberg has had enough, and isn’t going on Hardball again. Why? Because he has suddenly realized “it’s time to change the tone of our ‘politics’” coverage… Uh, when, exactly, was Chris Matthews’s Hardball a “straight political news program”? When has anything about Matthews ever been “straight”? When he was insisting that “everybody” likes George W. Bush, except “the real whack jobs”? (Bush’s approval ratings at the time were in the 30s.) When he was comparing Bush to Atticus Finch? When he said Bush “glimmers” with “sunny nobility”? Or when he gushed over Bush’s “mission accomplished” stunt, revealing what could only be described as a crush on the president?
Click through for more.

Because Politico is really just a GOP bulletin board (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
And so whatever hopes and aspirations Republicans might have, no matter how far-fetched, means Politico will cover it as news. Witness this week’s beaut: “Republicans hope General Motors is President Obama’s Hurricane Katrina”… Of course, professional Republican spinners are free to tell whatever kind of tale they want. But Politico ought to be embarrassed to the treat the fanciful scenarios as news. Also, please note that the Politico article basically consists entirely of quotes from Republican members of Congress criticizing the GM bailout.

O’Reilly defends torture: ‘Look, if it were illegal, Bush and Cheney would have been arrested.’ (Think Progress)
Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly has always been one of the most outspoken defenders of torture, declaring there’s “certainly no proof” that “mistreatment” ever happened at
Guantanamo, and insisting it’s “just bull” to say it’s ineffective to “dunk [someone] into water.” Trying to link abortion (which is legal) and torture (which is not) in an argument with Juan Williams last night, O’Reilly insisted that torture must not be illegal since Bush or Cheney were never arrested.
GODDESS, these people are frustrating. After doing everything they can to make sure Bush and Cheney aren’t arrested, they use the lack of arrest as proof of their innocence. Click through to watch the video and read the transcript.

Murdoch: ‘If we weren’t fair and balanced, we wouldn’t have the number one network in news.’ (Think Progress)
Today, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch sat down with Fox News host Neil Cavuto for a softball interview. At one point, Cavuto asked Murdoch if he feels like Rodney Dangerfield — “not getting that respect” — even though Fox is “pretty much the envy of the world right now.” When Cavuto asked about perceptions that Fox isn’t fair and balanced, Murdoch said that those allegations were “obviously not true”: “If we weren’t fair and balanced, we wouldn’t have the number one network in news — by a very wide margin. People believe we’re fair and balanced, and they love us.”
People who value truth, however, understand that it is the severe rightward tilt that makes Fox News popular. Click through to watch the video.

Fox News hires Steve Doocy’s son as ‘a general assignment reporter.’ (Think Progress)
Last year, Peter Doocy, the son of Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy, grabbed his 15 minutes of fame when asked Sen. John McCain on MSNBC’s Hardball if then-Sen. Hillary Clinton was “hitting the sauce.” The young Doocy followed it up with an appearance on Fox and Friends and “reporting” at the Democratic National Convention that included twittering with the Denver Broncos cheerleaders. Now, TVNewser reports that Doocy has been hired as “a general assignment reporter” for Fox News.

Radio hosts’ comments cost Sacramento station ads (McClatchy)
Reacting to critics, the leader of the KRXQ’s “Rob, Arnie & Dawn” show has posted a letter dated Sunday on the radio station’s Web site saying the trio will stop broadcasting live shows until Thursday, when they will “say what needs to be said.” Bank of America, Verizon, Chipotle and other companies have pulled advertising from the Sacramento station (98.5 FM) after talk show hosts referred to transgender people as freaks with mental disorders. During a May 28 show, one of the three hosts said he would hit his child with his shoe if the boy wanted to wear high heels. Another said he would tell a boy he was “a little idiot” if he asked to wear a dress.

Boortz jokes: You can fit 27 “illegal aliens” into a Ford Excursion, “roll” it, “and only kill 10 of them” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Limbaugh: “Snerdly thinks I’m going to be accused of talking down the economy. I hope so.” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

On Hardball , GOP strategist Laxalt says she doesn’t want Limbaugh as “part of my party” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Pro-Life Terrorism Chalks Up Another Success (by Ian Welsh)
The Tiller family has announced that it is closing Dr. Tiller’s clinic. The terrorists have won, and that assassination has succeeded in doing what it was meant to do. I’m sure the murderer is very happy tonight. The bottom line on right wing terrorism against abortion rights is that it’s succeeding and has been for some time. Take a good hard look at the chart [below] and try and tell me otherwise. And when it comes to late term abortions, well, Tiller was one of the very few who still provided the service. According to Tiller, speaking in March before his assassination, he was one of only three doctors left in the
US doing such abortions. Now there are two. If those numbers are right, one third of all abortion doctors doing these abortions were just killed.

Universal ’Rubik’s Cube’ Could Become Pentagon Shapeshifter (Danger Room, Wired)
Even by the standards of the Pentagon fringe science arm, this project sounds far-out: “programmable matter” that can be ordered to “self-assemble or alter their shape, perform a function and then disassemble themselves.” But researchers backed by Darpa are actually making progress on this incredible goal, Henry Kenyon at Signal magazine reports. One day, that could lead to “morphing aircraft and ground vehicles, uniforms that can alter themselves to be comfortable in any climate, and ’soft’ robots that flow like mercury through small openings to enter caves and bunker complexes.” A soldier could even reach into a can of unformed goop, and order up a custom-made tool or a “universal spare part.”

London’s Metropolitan Police accused of waterboarding suspects (The Times, U.K.)
Metropolitan Police officers subjected suspects to waterboarding, according to allegations at the centre of a major anti-corruption inquiry, The Times has learnt. The torture claims are part of a wide-ranging investigation which also includes accusations that officers fabricated evidence and stole suspects’ property. It has already led to the abandonment of a drug trial and the suspension of several police officers.
OUR police don’t need no stinkin’ waterboarding. They’ve got TASERS.

FM: World opinion Israel’s No. 1 problem (Jerusalem Post)
Although fireworks were expected during Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s first appearance in his current role before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the almost full roster of committee members maintained decorum on Tuesday as he pushed an agenda to re-market Israel. Lieberman told the MKs that world public opinion was
Israel’s No. 1 foreign policy problem during the meeting, which was one of a few rare instances in which the usually secretive panel held an open-door and televised session.
It’s not what you do that matters, as we know. The only important thing is what people think of you.

Media Matters for America headlines

NY Times ignored Sessions’ double standard in nomination timing

O’Reilly falsely claimed he didn’t call Tiller “Dr. Killer”

Media figures ignore facts to claim unemployment rate proves stimulus is “failing”

Fox’s Angle reports criticism of public plan, but not defense

Wash. Times fabricates stimulus contradiction between Obama advisers

WSJ publishes op-ed falsely equating “ObamaCare” with Canadian “single-payer” system

LA Times ignores Obama adviser’s explanation for initial unemployment projection

WSJ column’s falsehood: Bush admin did not make claims about jobs “saved or created”

Media don’t ask if Gingrich considered Reagan comment “intellectual nonsense”

Politico disappears Bush from GM bailout history

Probably No Hard Labor for Convicted Journos in North Korea
North Korea‘s sentencing of two American journalists to 12 years of hard labor draws attention to one of the world’s most unforgiving penal systems. But North Korea expert Andrei Lankov says “They will never be sent to a real prison camp, as they would see a lot of things an outsider is not meant to see.”

Great Firewall of China Winds Down; Censorship Battle Continues (by Ben Parr at Mashable)
According to The Wall Street Journal, Chinese Internet users have been regaining access to most social networking websites. However, it seems that the bans have not yet been lifted for YouTube and Blogger, both subsidiaries of Google… While the Great Firewall of China may be disappearing for the moment, the battle for freedom on the web is only beginning. There are plenty of workarounds to these blocks and now there is plenty of attention on the Chinese government’s practices. People will continue to fight censorship and oppression, even in the face of insurmountable odds because it’s just human nature. The battle over web censorship in China has only begun.

Friday is final curtain for analog TV signals
The last major TV stations that are still broadcasting in analog will turn those signals off Friday and go all digital.

U.S. Presses Antitrust Inquiry Into Google Book Settlement
The Justice Department has requested information from Google and groups representing publishers and authors, among others.

Minn. regulators drop bid to block online gambling
Minnesota regulators may have been outplayed when they bet a decades-old federal law would lend itself to anonline gambling crackdown. Following a lawsuit by the gambling industry, which considers the push a violation of federal commerce and free-speech protections, state officials said Monday they’ll withdraw a demand that Internet service providers block access to hundreds of sites.

APNewsBreak: Group says poker winnings are frozen
An advocacy group for online poker said Tuesday that the federal government has frozen more than $30 million in the accounts of payment processors that handle the winnings of thousands of online poker players. The Justice Department has long maintained that Internet gambling is illegal, a view that the poker group challenges.

Lawsuit may decide high school game rights online
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association sued The Post-Crescent of Appleton and parent Gannett Co. as well as the Wisconsin Newspaper Association after the newspaper carried the state playoff game on its site Nov. 8. The association said it believes it owns the rights to the online footage because it organized, supervised and sponsored the football tournament… Dan Flannery, executive editor of The Post-Crescent, said local sporting events represent the essence of local news coverage, and media outlets should be able to provide Internet coverage the same way they write stories or produce videos.
If high schools don’t own their games, do colleges and pro teams own theirs?

Rupe Predicts the End of Paper and Ink 
“I can see the day, maybe 20 years away, where you don’t actually have paper and ink and printing presses,” said Rupert Murdoch. “I think it will take a long time and I think it’s a generational thing that is happening. But there’s no doubt that younger people are not picking up the traditional newspapers.”

If the Journalism Business Fails, Who Pays for Journalism? (by James Poniewozik, Time)
Let’s assume newspapers fold en masse, and going online-only does not save enough money to pay people to do journalism as their chief source of income. That’s gone. What replaces it? And by that, I mean, who pays for what replaces it?

“Individually, newspapers don’t have the technological firepower to compete in the Internet world”
That’s what retired Cox Newspapers president Jay Smith says. “Collectively and on their behalf, AP does have the capacity to help newspapers develop new online businesses that can generate revenue, whether from subscribers or advertisers,” writes Smith, who sat on AP’s board. “More important, AP has access to a nation of newspapers. While few newspapers can gin up content on their own for which users will pay, there is content that, when properly collected and edited, does have real value.”

Google Tests Wikipedia Links With News—But What About Credibility Issues? (Paid Content)
The evolution of Google News (and its impact on the news industry overall) continues. The company is experimenting with attaching Wikipedia links to certain stories—essentially giving those entries the stamp of approval for readers searching for more info on the article’s subject. And it’s up for debate as to whether that’s a positive or negative thing for readers.
Click through for an illustration and a discussion on relative merits. Mashable also has a discussion.

Yahoo Nukes Man’s Photos Over Obama Comments (by Ryan Tate at Gawker)
Flickr user Shepherd Johnson was browsing the official White House photostream one night when he decided to post a politically-charged comment. Then another, then another. Soon, without warning, Yahoo’s photo-sharing service deleted his account, complete with 1,200 pictures. An unrepentant Yahoo won’t say what, exactly, Johnson did wrong. His comments were about Barack Obama’s support of a bill allowing the government to suppress torture photos… Users won’t feel safe moving their data into Yahoo’s “cloud” if it can vanish without a trace with no warning.
It’s an important point. Cloud computing not only needs to be very reliable, users shouldn’t have to worry about censorship. But if censored, the data should be available for download by the initial poster.

Gotta love the link (by Jeff Jarvis)
Through the power of the link, someone I’ve never heard of riffs on the discussion this weekend about product v. process journalism from an artist’s perspective, adding this:

“Think about the change from the camera in the 19th century to the projector in the 20th. The camera framed objects, alluded to three dimensions, stilled time. The projector blasted synthesis – one frame negating another and at eye blinking speed. We may think of blogging as the result of another technological frontier not unlike the camera and the projector. A newspaper by its very nature stills time; states the fact wrapped in the eternity of print – it is a moment of truth stilled. A blog is more akin to the projector: the movement itself. Recording the changes of truth over time. Revisionist, processing, excluding and incorporating.”

What The Ideal Newspaper Would Look Like (by Richard J. Tofel, author of “Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism,” and formerly the assistant publisher of The Wall Street Journal, writing at Paid Content)
What would happen if [Barney] Kilgore’s 32-page ideal became today’s norm? (To provide a baseline, The New York Times is averaging 78 pages these days on weekdays, The Wall Street Journal, 50, The Los Angeles Times, 94.)  If you had to cut back to 32 pages, what principles would guide you?… You would focus relentlessly on what your readers still wanted to know by the time they got to their morning paper in a real-time, broadband, wireless email, unlimited texting, all-news radio, cable TV news, Twittering world… Today’s newspaper should be about tomorrow’s events, not yesterday’s.
Click through for a very interesting discussion.

How Social Media is Radically Changing the Newsroom (by Leah Betancourt, digital community manager at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Minn., writing at Mashable)
Social networking sites are some of the newest tools for reporters to use in news gathering, networking and promoting their work. But many newsrooms are fuzzy on the usage. “It’s very much the issue of the day. Twitter and Facebook have exploded, and you can’t ignore them,” says Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, who gets a call about once a week from a television station or a newspaper with questions on the ethical issues involving the use of social media. She says journalists’ attitudes toward social media tools range from presuming nothing bad can happen to being terrified.

“You don’t want to be on either end,” says McBride. “You don’t want to be necessarily cautious, but you want to be informed.” In January, McBride worked with the Roanoke Times to help it hammer out newsroom guidelines for using social media tools… “It’s important for the entire newsroom to write that guidance down,” McBride says. “If you don’t write it down, it’s open to distortion.”
Click through for details.

Using Google Trends to Augment Coverage, Drive Traffic (by Amy Gahran at Poynter Online)
Web developer Antone Roundy posted an intriguing YouTube video on his blog last week about how he’s using the free Google Trends service to create online news content that draws massive traffic to his Net Pulse News project.

How to Make Your News Mobile-Friendly, Why It’s Important (by Amy Gahran at Poynter Online)
Since most news organizations crave new markets, I’m amazed that most of them seem to offer little beyond the basics in terms of highly mobile-friendly content and services. I’m talking about a lean and usable mobile-friendly presentation, suitable for simple phones that only have a stripped-down browser. You know, the kind of phone that the vast majority of Americans carry around daily and consider indispensable.

Newport Daily News charges more to read the paper online than in print
“Our goal was to get people back into the printed product,” says publisher Albert K. Sherman, Jr., who charges $345 a year for online access to his paper vs. $145 for home delivery. He tells Edward J. Delaney that some readers, when hearing about the plan, asked “why would they pay for it on the Internet when they can go buy the printed paper? And that’s perfect — that’s what we want.”

Daily is Redesigned for Advertisers First — Then Readers
Newspaper executives have been shouting a common refrain to anybody that will listen these days: The crisis is about revenue, not readership, they contend. So when the tiny 16,900- circulation Wilson Daily Times in North Carolina finally green-lighted a redesign, that refrain was top of mind. 

Plans Announced to Launch New Daily to Fill Home Delivery Gaps in Detroit
Mark Stern, 63, and brother Gary Stern, 67, said they hope to publish within 60 days the first issue of a newspaper serving the Detroit area. The Detroit Daily Press is expected to sell for 50 cents daily and $1 on Sundays. They said they were working to secure contracts with two printing plants and lease office space and were looking to hire department heads for the privately funded newspaper. Mark Stern said the Detroit Daily Press should appeal to older readers who prefer a print copy of the paper, and its primary niche will be those who want their paper home-delivered. The newspaper also will have a Web site with a brief summary of the news for nonsubscribers.

Globe’s Largest Union Rejects Cuts
The Boston Globe’s largest union tonight narrowly rejected $10 million in wage and benefit cuts, and about an hour later the paper’s owner declared an impasse in negotiations and imposed a 23 percent pay cut on the union’s members, effective next week.

‘Globe’ Staffers Ask Sulzberger To Help–Guild Asks Feds to Overturn 23% Cut–NYT Now Seeks Buyer 
A letter purportedly sent to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company, and signed only from “Concerned Reporters at The Boston Globe,” asks that he take a personal role in the ongoing Newspaper Guild dispute at The Boston Globe.

Boston’s alternative future (by Jeff Jarvis)
The Boston Glob Guild rejected The New York Times Company’s cutbacks. What the Guild should have done, I say, is reject The New York Times Company’s strategy. Rather than nickel-and-diming-and-dollaring their way to survival through cutbacks (though I wonder how saving $20 million when you’re losing $85 million can possibly do the job; it’s a Band-Aid on a gushing artery) the Globe should find its alternate future not as a newspaper but as a journalistic service online. The Guild should have demanded a strategy that transforms the Globe into a smaller but profitable venture that concentrates only on news and serving the community and not on printing and distribution, jettisoning huge costs but coming out with a sustainable plan.

‘Chicago Tribune’ Editorial Board, Post-Blago, Grows Stronger (by Mark Fitzgerald, Editor & Publisher)
Six months after the revelations that former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich allegedly plotted to get certain members of the Chicago Tribune editorial board fired, editorials have grown enormously in importance at the paper.

Denver Public Library gets Rocky’s archives
Other historical material has been earmarked for preservation by the Colorado Historical Society, reports Michael Roberts. “It’s good for
Denver that these two institutions share our commitment to maintaining the public’s access to these pages of history,” says Scripps CEO Rich Boehne.

‘Guerrilla drive-ins’ turn nostalgia on its head
Think the only way to see a big-screen movie is while slurping a 64-oz. soft drink, eating a $5 candy bar and shushing the wannabe film critic behind you? That’s not the case anymore, thanks to people like John Young, creator of the West Chester Guerilla Drive-In and part of a loosely knit network of celluloid renegades resurrecting the drive-in for a new age.

Save J.D. Salinger’s Archives
Ron Rosenbaum: The number of people who lose sleep over Salinger’s strange saga may no longer be enormous, but he still has a cult following, and there are also those of us who — without being cultists — think he’s an important figure in American literature whose work (and whose subsequent 45-year-long nonpublishing silence) are both worth paying attention to.

Public radio fights to preserve its footprint.
Public Radio Capital was formed eight years ago to preserve stations facing a never-before-seen push by religious broadcasters to secure full-power stations and translators. Undeterred by the recession, the battle wages on — and has even put some deals within reach.

With AOL Out, TBS Ascends at Time Warner
If Time Warner follows through on a plan to ditch troubled AOL, TBS will suddenly emerge from the relative shadows to become half of Time Warner, at least based on the profits TBS’ cable networks generate.

Hollywood actors agree pay deal
The main US actors’ union has agreed a deal with the major Hollywood studios after a year of acrimonious pay talks which almost led to strike action… The SAG said the deal raised actors’ minimum pay by 3% as part of a $105m package of improvements. But there appeared to be no significant pay increase for internet appearances – a key sticking point in the talks.

Summertime Prime Time Heats Up for Cable
Rash Report: Original Scripted Series Seize Pop-Culture Chatter

As Upfront Talks Stall With Broadcasters, Buyers Eye Cable
Agencies ‘Looking for Soft Spot’ to Get Lower Pricing on Ad Inventory

Reality TV Voting Troubles (Media Decoder, New York Times)
Decoder wants to hear from you: What has been your experience with voting on “American Idol” and other competition shows? Do you think the systems are fair? Most important, do you think your vote counts?

Recession Redrawing Local Media Landscape
Across the country, TV, and radio outlets are in the midst of a cost-cutting effort that is reshaping the industry and offering few hints of when — or if — it might end. Locally, TV stations are downsizing anchor desks, cutting overtime, and looking at new models of content-sharing as ways of coping with a harsh economy.

N.Y. Stations to Pool Video News Content
Four TV stations in the nation’s largest TV market announced Monday that they have formed a local news service to pool video newsgathering resources, a practice that is fast becoming standard operating procedure in major markets.

NBC News Launches An African American News Site
NBC News and Three Part Media LLC have teamed to launch TheGrio.com, a “video centric news site” aimed at the African American community. The site will aggregate related video and news stories from NBC News, O&Os, affiliates and msnbc.com, as well as feature contributors like Rev. Al Sharpton.

Cablevision, Yankees First With In-Market MLB Live Streaming Rights (Paid Content)
The New York Yankees may be able to claim another first: in-market live game streaming. MLBAM and the YES Network have agreed to a streaming rights package that would end the blackout under certain conditions; Cablevision added the in-market streaming rights as part of its latest carriage renewal with the regional sports net and, according to the Sports Business Journal, plans later this season to be the first operator to offer the service. After a false start last season, the deal also makes MLB the first major league with in-market streaming of live games.

But—and this is a capital “B”—this doesn’t end the “logjam” for local live streaming, as the NYT puts it. It’s the beginning of the end, though, for one of online sports’ thorniest issues: how to stream live in market without cannibalizing multichannel viewership and revenue. The solution appears to be a mix of subscriptions (cable and online) and authentication.

Analyst Survey: Why Cable Operators Should Fear Hulu Not YouTube (Paid Content)
With so many video aggregators, user-generated video sites and P2P file-sharing options, people can watch TV on the web in any number of ways—legal and illegal. But those vast options also make it hard to difficult to track viewing habits—and yet those patterns are critical to the future of broadcast and cable TV. In a report released [Tuesday], Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay, who has been surveying hundreds of consumers about their internet TV viewing habits, says traditional broadcasters should be fearing Hulu not user-generated sites like YouTube… The majority of respondents said they would be willing to pay for professional content—as much as $1 for a TV show and $5 for a movie. But most would not pay for user-generated content.
Click through for more.

Why YouTube Will Sink or Swim With Obama Girl
‘Midtail’ Content Safer for Advertisers Than User-Generated Fare

Video Capture and Upload Coming to iPhone Twitter Apps  (Mashable)
[The] iPhone 3G S announcement at Apple’s WWDC has huge implications for application developers. Because the new hardware will support video capture and trimming, that functionality can now exist within third-party applications, much the same way that photo capture does today.

Market7: Project Management and Collaboration for Video Creators (Mashable)
Video production is typically a collaborative effort that combines the creative talents of producers, directors, film editors, writers, and a whole host of other parties. Market7’s online product serves to bring these audiences together and make video production project management and group collaboration simple and efficient.

With Market7, users can create video projects that are subdivided with appropriate tools to support pre-production, production, and post-production. Tools include team setup, a comprehensive project brief, and script creation on the pre-production side, task assignment, even creation, and file sharing on the production front, and an annotative player to gather feedback during post-production.

Why VeVo Could Become The Hulu Of Music (Paid Content)
Universal Music has apparently seduced a co[ns]ortium of indie labels, A2IM, to join its video site Vevo. That follows last week’s news that Sony Music Entertainment has also signed up for VeVo, which Universal is launching with help from YouTube, the Google video site. Assuming it doesn’t run into some unforeseen obstacle, VeVo could easily become a mainstream digital platform for the struggling music industry, much like Hulu has become for the TV industry.
Click through for more.

Scribnia Helps You Discover and Rate Bloggers (Paid Content)
A blog’s content is only as good as its authors. They are the ones doing the research, finding the content, talking to companies, and creating the articles that you either love or hate. Most people, in fact, have not only favorite online publications, but favorite authors and bloggers as well. Scribnia is a social community based on that premise. Its goal: to help you discover new writers based on analyzing user ratings and your preferences.

Songkick’s Social Concert Database Chronicles One Million Events (Mashable)
Concert tracking and ticket listing site Songkick provides a great service for finding concerts near you. Today they’re taking concert tracking to the next level by turning user experiences at events into a social concert database. Now instead of just getting notifications of upcoming concerts and tours, Songkick users can use the site to create their own “gigographies,” which serve as online records of events where users can document their concert history with photos, videos, and set lists. All of this user activity is collectively harnessed to power the social concert database.

Google takes its map cam for a spin on biking, hiking trails
Meet the Google trike. It’s the sequel, of sorts, to the Google Maps-mobile, a specially rigged car with an antenna, GPS and camera that snaps 360-degree images of neighborhoods for display in the “Street View” section of Google Maps.

Bing Racks Up Some Strong Numbers In Week One (Paid Content)
It’s only one week, but Microsoft  can claim some new traction in the search market, courtesy of its Bing search engine relaunch, according to comScore [, which] says that both Microsoft’s “average daily penetration among U.S. searchers” and its “share of search result pages in the U.S.” showed substantial improvements.
Click through for details.

Google Quick Search Box released
Google Quick Search Box, which we covered when it was just a developer preview six months ago, has just been officially released. Press a configurable key combination, and the Google Quick Search Box appears. Not only does this box allow you to search Google, but it also searches your Mac and functions as an appliction launcher.

Fotopedia: An Online Encyclopedia for Photos (Mashable)
Fotopedia, a photo encyclopedia site that [launched Wednesday], hopes to become the Wikipedia for photos by centralizing the photo experience around user-created topics and subject matters. The sleek web interface is coupled with a desktop application for a community experience on site or off. With Fotopedia, users can create or edit pages, which are photo-driven articles, and can use the desktop application to add photos from their desktop library, or online libraries like Flickr, Picasa, and Facebook. Fotopedia articles can also include a Google Map and Wikipedia info, but the experience centers around the top photos that make the page slideshow.
There’s a real opportunity here. I’m often bothered by the lack of graphics in Wikipedia.

There’s an art to writing on Facebook or Twitter really
Not so long ago, people used to keep diaries to record their quotidian doings privately, of course. Now people keep Facebook and Twitter accounts, updating their status daily, hourly, even minute-by-minute, and almost nothing is private.

The Web in Numbers: Twitter’s Phenomenal Growth Suddenly Stops (Mashable)
It’s time for our monthly number-crunching, and the month of May definitely brought some surprising results. While YouTube is attracting an ever increasing audience, and Facebook is still growing fast, Twitter’s growth has suddenly stopped, at least according to the numbers from Compete.

Yahoo CEO Keeps Microsoft Deal Door Open, Shuts Out AOL
Yahoo Inc. chief executive Carol Bartz said Monday the struggling Internet giant can “take on” rivals Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc., and she dismissed the idea of striking a partnership with Time Warner Inc.’s AOL unit.

Travel apps may not be worth the download
Mobile applications promise instant travel help, from summoning a taxi to acting as a personal translator. They may be cheap (or free), but they may not be worth downloading.

Movie Rentals and Purchases Now Available on the iPhone (Mashable)
While you can already purchase or rent movies in the PC and Mac versions of iTunes, the ability to do so via iPhone was not previously available. Today, Apple announced the addition along with their iPhone 3.0 OS news. In addition, audiobooks are now available for purchase via the iPhone, as well as integration with iTunes U, which is a project to distribute educational and university content and lectures.

Broadcasters Compete to Put TV on Cellphones
The digital switch is the end of one TV era, but broadcasters and device companies hope it’s opening up another. Their vision for the future: a world in which we access live television not just on big screens in our living rooms, but also on cellphones and computers and in cars.

Ad Biz Optimism Vanishes
Although advertising and media executives have said they see signs that the ad market is bottoming out, none of that optimism is reflected in the latest numbers from Nielsen.
U.S. ad expenditures fell $3.8 billion, or 12 percent, to $27.9 billion in the first three months of 2009.

What Internet Ad Slump? P&G Pours Money Into the Web
Procter & Gamble, the world’s biggest marketer, is pouring more into Web ads than ever. Last quarter it increased its spending on display ads by nearly 150 percent. Those numbers are similar to outlays from rival Johnson & Johnson. Both companies are now spending about 4 percent of their ad bugets on online display.

Analyst: Online Advertising Market Is About To Get Worse (Paid Content)
The consensus as of late seems to be that while ad sales have been down, they are stabilizing. Benchmark Capital analyst Clayton Moran says not so fast. In a report [Monday] on Google, he says that his “channel checks” show that while there was indeed an upswing in sales activity in March through mid May, sales in the summer months will drop back again. “Street sentiment has turned positive as economic indicators and online ad trends stabilized in April, but more recent online activity indicates a further pull-back by large advertisers,”  he says.

Report: Many Local Businesses Are Disillusioned With Search Advertising (Paid Content)
Search engines are aggressively trying to entice local advertisers with new initiatives. The findings in a new report from research firm Borrell Associates shed some light on the reason for that urgency. While local businesses as a whole are increasing their search-advertising spending, they are nevertheless largely unhappy with that option, the research firm says. Roughly half of the local businesses that buy search advertising direct from search engines abandon campaigns after a year.

Thinking Beyond the Online Banner
Some Web publishers are moving away from a reliance on typical display ads and pricing methods as the linchpins of their ad efforts. Instead, they’re rolling out unique units and pricing systems, betting advertisers will find custom campaigns worth the extra time and effort.

Smartphone Rises Fast From Gadget to Necessity
The increasing popularity of BlackBerrys, iPhones and their kin owes as much to sociology as technology… For a growing swath of the population, the social expectation is that one is nearly always connected and reachable almost instantly via e-mail. The smartphone, analysts say, is the instrument of that connectedness — and thus worth the cost, both as a communications tool and as a status symbol.

US parents rearing a gadget generation: NPD Group
Research released Tuesday indicates that US parents are rearing a young gadget generation that is at home with smartphones, laptop computers, and videogame consoles.

Apple halves iPhone to $99 to galvanize sales
Apple Inc halved the price of its entry-level iPhone to $99 on Monday in a move that could widen the trendy device’s mass-market appeal as competition for smartphones heats up. The company also unveiled a new iPhone that takes videos and has voice features, matching offerings by rivals Palm and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry. Analysts said sales could double for the lower-priced iPhone.

Angry iPhone Owners Twitition for Lower 3G S Upgrade Prices (Mashable)
Following yesterday’s public unveiling, Apple’s forthcoming iPhone 3G S is the toast of the tech world. However, even though new users can get the phone at subsidized prices ($199 or $299 in the US) with new AT&T service contracts, the carrier has apparently not provided a way for existing iPhone users to upgrade at those lower prices. And many current iPhone owners are irate.

Monitor leader TPV aims low with cheap “nettop” PCs
Top global PC monitor maker TPV Technology on Wednesday said it is developing a low-cost, all-in-one desktop PC optimized for the Internet, in a bid to replicate the success of low-cost portable PCs known as netbooks.

Human ear inspires universal radio antenna
TV, radio, GPS, cell phones, wireless Internet, and other electronics all use different radio waves to receive and send information. Now scientists at MIT have created a tiny antenna capable of receiving any radio signal, based on the human ear.

Media & Politics

Permanent link to MTA daily media news

‘Max, You Work For Us’ (by Susie at Suburban Guerilla)
Demonstrators outside Max Baucus’s Missoula MT office.
Click through to watch the video.

Paying for Universal Health Coverage (Editorial, New York Times)
For Congress and the administration to keep the promise of comprehensive health care reform, they will have to find the political will to pay for universal coverage and other investments that are needed right away but will not produce quick savings.
WRONG, New York Times, Congress and the administration don’t HAVE to pay for universal coverage. After all, they didn’t HAVE to pay for giving away trillions to the bankers and the insurance companies, did they? Isn’t it strange that when it comes to helping the already rich keep their Picassos and their yachts, the money can be found, but when it comes to allowing ordinary families to keep their meager savings as opposed to losing it all to major illness, there’s no money?

Limiting the Tax Exclusion for Employer-Sponsored Insurance Can Help Pay for Health Reform (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
Universal Coverage May Be Out of Reach Otherwise
Same comment here. The only thing stopping us from getting universal coverage is the fact that to do it, we have to take the profit out of what we now call health care. The health insurance executives demand their entitlement, too. They must be able to keep THEIR Picassos and yachts.

So let’s start another us vs. them meme, shall we?
Will health insurance ’haves’ pay for ‘have-nots’?
(MSNBC)
As part of a health insurance reform package now before Congress, some of the 164 million Americans who are covered by employer-provided health plans could be asked to give up at least part of the longstanding tax exemption granted to such compensation. It’s an idea likely to be met with howls of opposition if it makes it into the final version of health insurance legislation that President Barack Obama is pushing. The idea of limiting the tax break for employer-provided insurance gained momentum last week, when Obama told senators that he’d consider it as one ingredient of the  health insurance reform bill he wants Congress to pass by early August, when the Senate starts a one-month recess…

Obama’s new openness to the idea stands in contrast to what he said six months ago as a presidential candidate, when he harshly criticized his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, for proposing that employer-provided benefits should be taxed.

Harry and Louise Need Health Reform (by E.J. Dionne)
Fifty million new customers. Those may be the most important words to remember as the health care reform effort hits its stride this week. Many have expressed amazement that the interest groups historically opposed to fixing the health system seem ready to work with the reformers. Their public-spiritedness reflects enlightened self-interest: The health system is so unstable that even the drug industry and the insurance companies are worried that it will crash on top of them. Health care reform could bail out these interests by adding the currently uninsured — fast approaching 50 million people — to their customer base, and by preventing more individuals and employers from dropping insurance altogether…

So by all means, let’s welcome the drug and insurance companies to the health care bargaining table. But let’s also remember that they are sitting at that table as a matter of urgent necessity. Negotiators should bear in mind that health care reform is as vital for them as it is for the now underinsured Harry and Louise.
Forever the naïve one, aren’t you, E.J.? Remember Krugman: 1. Don’t trust the insurance companies. 2. Don’t trust the insurance companies.

How DC Centrism Makes For Bad Politics and Bad Policy (by Mike Lux at Open Left, thanks to Susie at Suburban Guerilla)
There’s  been a lot of talk in Washington, DC lately of a “new, centrist compromise” gaining momentum in terms of how to fund health care reform, and that is taxing health care benefits. The problems? It’s not new, it’s only centrist in the bizarre inside-the-Beltway world of what qualifies for centrist, it’s one sure way to make health care reform incredibly unpopular, and it’s a bad policy idea. Remember how popular Ira Magaziner’s “health alliances” were in the Clinton health reform battle? This would be worse.

How Pharma and Insurance Intend to Kill the Public Option, And What Obama and the Rest of Us Must Do (by Robert Reich)
Big Pharma and Big Insurance are gaining ground in their campaign to kill the public option in the emerging health care bill. You know why, of course. They don’t want a public option that would compete with private insurers and use its bargaining power to negotiate better rates with drug companies. They argue that would be unfair. Unfair? Unfair to give more people better health care at lower cost? To Pharma and Insurance, “unfair” is anything that undermines their profits…

The concrete is being mixed and about to be poured. And after it’s poured and hardens, universal health care will be with us for years to come in whatever form it now takes. Let your representative and senators know you want a public option without conditions or triggers — one that gives the public insurer bargaining leverage over drug companies, and pushes insurers to do what they’ve promised to do. Don’t wait until the concrete hardens and we’ve lost this battle.

Robert Reich Sounds the Alarm (by Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
You can contact your congress members and senators here or here. Let’s fill those voice mail boxes, clog those fax machines, lead sit-ins in their offices. Surely you can afford to take a day off to save your country’s future!

Single payer silence will be broken in the House, 6/10 at 10:30 AM (by gob at Corrente)
My local single payer activist sends the following: “The Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing titled ‘Examining the Single Payer Health Care Option’ on Wednesday, June 10th at 10:30am in 2175 Rayburn House Office Building. You may be able to watch via webcast. She adds: “Contact C-SPAN and let them know we would like them to carry it. C-SPAN’s Main Number is: (202) 737-3220.”

Howard Dean’s Scream: ‘We Need Real Health Insurance Reform’ (Politics Daily)
Back in 2004, as a Democratic presidential hopeful, the former Vermont governor was outraged about the Iraq war. Now it’s the U.S. health care system – in particular, at a union hall here Friday, the tale of a breast cancer survivor who said she was denied chemotherapy for months because she didn’t have insurance. Without offering any details, she said she finally did manage to qualify for care – by divorcing her husband. “I had to get rid of him so that I could live,” the woman told Dean. “I’m proud to say we’re still together.” She added tearfully that she can’t get life insurance, “so if I die my family will pretty much be trying to figure out how to bury me.”

“First of all, let me say just one thing,” Dean said. And then, in the space of a tiny pause, he rocketed into high dudgeon. “There is not one other industrialized democracy on the face of this earth that somebody with that story would happen! Not one other country! Not one! How can America be like this? This is America for God’s sakes,” he shouted, to cheers and applause. “It just makes me furious.”… “This is a disgrace and that is why we need real health insurance reform.” This is Dean’s latest crusade, prodding Congress – and prodding Americans to prod Congress – to pass the type of health care reform President Obama proposed last year on the campaign trail. That is, health care that gives people a choice between private insurance and a competing government-run plan.

Howard Dean on Real Healthcare Reform (by Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
If Obama really cared about actual healthcare reform, wouldn’t he have picked Howard Dean to head it?

Kennedy Readies Health-Care Bill (Washington Post)
As expected, the ailing chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and his staff have crafted comprehensive legislation that would guarantee health coverage for every American — but would require the vast majority to contribute to the cost, according to a draft of the bill obtained last night by The Washington Post. Some small businesses and low-income workers would be eligible for subsidies… Perhaps its most controversial element is the creation of a new government-sponsored health insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.
So is old Max out on a limb all by himself?

Obama to Forge a Greater Role on Health Care (New York Times)
After months of insisting he would leave the details to Congress, President Obama has concluded that he must exert greater control over the health care debate and is preparing an intense push for legislation that will include speeches, town-hall-style meetings and much deeper engagement with lawmakers, senior White House officials say… Mr. Obama has grown concerned that he is losing the debate over certain policy prescriptions he favors, like a government-run insurance plan to compete with the private sector, said one Democrat familiar with his thinking. With Congress beginning a burst of work on the measure, top advisers say, the president is determined to make certain the final bill bears his stamp.

Is this part of Obama’s greater role?
“Do You Have a Moment for Barack Obama?”
(by MsExPat at Corrente)
I’m in Brooklyn for a month, in Park Slope. To give you some idea of what the political vibe of this nabe is, we are often referred to as “Berkeley East”. So, I’m walking down the main drag, and a fresh faced young college student comes up to me with a clipboard, saying, “Do you have a moment for Barack Obama?” I’m severely jet lagged. I’ve just stepped off a plane from
Hong Kong. So for a second, I am frozen, without words. Have I time-warped back to June, 2008, when similarly fresh-faced young students were hired to work this strip for candidate Obama?

But no. It turns out that this group of canvassers is working the hustings to build public support for Obama’s health care plan. What the $%$# is this about? Who is funding this? Or are these volunteers? Why is the approach scripted as “Do you have a moment for BO” instead of “Would you like to hear more about President Obama’s health plan?” Is the Obama campaign organization still paying independent workers to “build” his brand name? I find this all incredibly creepy. And I would like to know more about what this is, and who is paying for it. The workers would not give me any information.

Washington state health panel could be model for U.S. (by Harris Meyer, Kaiser Health News)
When it’s judging the value of medical treatments it pays for, Washington state imposes a tough standard, the kind that might save tens of billions of dollars a year if it were applied nationally. A panel of medical professionals compares the effectiveness and safety of new treatments and tests with standard alternatives, typically choosing the least costly if there’s no real difference. The panel’s decisions don’t apply to private health plans, but they’re binding on 750,000 residents: state employees; people insured by Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor; and those who are receiving workers’ compensation.
More industry PR. SEE? There’s absolutely NO NEED for a public option!

Many health insurers have their own assessment panels (McClatchy)
As many patients discover, doctors don’t have the last word on treatment. Insurers generally deny coverage for anything they think hasn’t been proved to work.
So do assessment panels reduce cost? Because costs are skyrocketing, despite “many” health insurers having them.

Who Went Bankrupt? (by Pat Racimora at No Quarter)
The stereotype of who goes bankrupt is hardly complimentary. The image comes to mind of irresponsible people spending more than they know they have on whatever strikes their fancy, and then look for easy outs when the shit hits the fan. But, you probably know the correct answer to the question posed in the title. Yet, did you know how startling it really is? “Nearly two-thirds of all bankruptcies have a medical cause.”
Just that there should be two who’ve been ill for every one that was profligate.

Health insurers want you to keep smoking, Harvard doctors say (Scientific American)
Health and life insurance companies in the US and abroad have nearly $4.5 billion invested in tobacco stocks, according to Harvard doctors. “It’s the combined taxidermist and veterinarian approach: either way you get your dog back,” says David Himmelstein, an internist at the Harvard Medical School and co-author of a letter published in [last] week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine… Why is it a big deal? “If you own a billion dollars [of tobacco stock], then you don’t want to see it go down,” says Himmelstein, “You are less likely to join anti-tobacco coalitions, endorse anti-tobacco legislation, basically, anything most health companies would want to participate in.”…

[W]ith $4.5 billion still invested in Big Tobacco, many insurers are reaping profits from a cancer-causing industry.  As Himmelstein puts it, “Is this who we want running our healthcare system?”

What the new Jim Comey torture emails actually reveal (by Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory, Salon)
[T]he real story here is obvious — these DOJ memos authorizing torture were anything but the by-product of independent, good faith legal analysis.  Instead, those memos — just like the pre-war CIA reports about The Threat of Saddam — were coerced by White House officials eager for bureaucratic cover for what they had already ordered.

This was done precisely so that once this all became public, they could point to those memos and have the political and media establishment excuse what they did (“Oh, they only did what they DOJ told them was legal”‘/”Oh, they were only reacting to CIA warnings about Saddam’s weapons”).  These DOJ memos, like the CIA reports, were all engineered by the White House to give cover to what they wanted to do; they were not the precipitating events that led to and justified those decisions.  That is the critical point proven by the Comey emails, and it is completely obscured by the NYT article, which instead trumpets the opposite point (“Unanimity at DOJ that these tactics were legal”) because that’s the story their leaking sources wanted them to promote.

What’s most ironic about what the NYT did here is that on the very same day this article appears, there is a column from the NYT Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, excoriating the paper for having published a deeply misleading front page story by Elizabeth Bumiller, that claimed that 1 out of 7 Guantanamo detainees returned to “jihad” once they are released.  That happened because Bumiller followed the most common method of modern establishment reporting:  she mindlessly repeated what her government sources told her to say… That is exactly what Shane and Johnston did with these Comey emails.

Liz Cheney Appeared On MSNBC And CNN Ten Times In Less Than A Month (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Media Matters runs the numbers on Liz Cheney’s over-exposure on the networks, and they’re startling: She’s had at least 22 on-air appearances in less than a month… It’s worth repeating that Liz Cheney is less a bearer of the GOP message than she is her father’s chief public defender.

Lack Of Coherent Dem Response On Torture Taking Toll, Helping Cheney (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Some striking new polling from Gallup suggests that the lack of a coherent response to Dick Cheney’s torture offensive is taking its toll on at least one high-profile Democrat while simultaneously helping Cheney begin to salvage his reputation. The 
Gallup poll finds that two of the leading officials on either side of the torture argument — Cheney and Nancy Pelosi — have equally poor favorability ratings. But here’s the key point: They are at parity because Cheney’s ratings have gone up and Pelosi’s have dropped during the period that both were heavily identified with the torture issue…

Top Dems (Obama aside) have taken Cheney about as seriously as a circus sideshow, chortling about his low approval ratings while rarely rebutting his actual arguments. Result: His claims have continually gone largely unchallenged, and he’s largely framed the debate.

Hillary Clinton demands China investigate and disclose its past abuses (by Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory, Salon)
On behalf of the Obama administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement this week regarding the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, and demanded that China do the following…: “A China that has made enormous progress economically, and that is emerging to take its rightful place in global leadership, should examine openly the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing, both to learn and to heal.”

Compare that moving defense of transparency to what the Obama administration — as I wrote about earlier today – is currently doing in Congress in trying to round up enough Democratic votes to vest the Pentagon with a new secrecy power, whereby it can unilaterally suppress all photographic evidence relating to our own abuse of detainees.  Or compare it to our current President’s repeated insistence that we Look to the Future, Not the Past and his fervent opposition even to a Truth Commission.
With this and with giving the same rights as married couples to State Department employees, I’m starting to think that Hillary is pushing Obama toward the liberal side.

U.S. May Permit 9/11 Guilty Pleas in Capital Cases (New York Times)
The Obama administration is considering a change in the law for Guantánamo military commissions that could let prosecutors avoid trials that would air details of interrogation techniques.

NYT Finally Runs ‘Editor’s Note’ Correction To Misleading Gitmo Detainee ‘Recidivism’ Story (Think Progress)
Last month, the New York Times ran a front page story titled “1 In 7 Detainees Returned to Jihad, Pentagon Finds.” Relying on a unpublicized DoD report, the article said that “74 prisoners released from Guantánamo have returned to terrorism, making for a recidivism rate of nearly 14 percent.” Critics pointed out that these statistics don’t take into account the possibility that released detainees were not terrorists to begin with and were radicalized by their detention. Seeming to take note of this criticism, the Times soon after changed the headline and lead of the web version of the story… [Friday], the Times finally got around to addressing the story’s inaccuracies in its print edition in an “Editor’s Note.”

Desanitizing Modern Warfare (Bill Moyers Journal)
In this week’s JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill about the role played by hi-tech weaponry and private military contractors in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Scahill argued that most American citizens have become so removed from the harsh realities of war that further conflicts are becoming increasingly likely:

“I think that this is sick, where you turn war essentially into a videogame that can be waged by people half a world away… It sanitizes war. It means that we increase the number of people that don’t have to see that war is hell on the ground, and it means that wars are gonna be easier in the future because it’s not as tough of a sell… The United States has created a new system for waging war where you no longer have to rely on your own citizens to sign up for the military and say ‘I believe in this war, so I’m willing to sign up and risk my life for it.’ You turn the entire world into your recruiting ground.”
Click through to watch the video or to read the transcript.

This is good news? Economy bleeds jobs at slower pace (McClatchy)
Better-than-expected May employment numbers Friday showed that the breathtaking pace of job losses is moderating, but experts warn that the unemployment rate will continue to climb for months and job growth could remain sluggish for years.

16.4% (by Richard Florida, thanks to Economist’s View)
That’s the overall rate of unemployment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ newly released U-6 measure which includes “marginally attached workers” as well as those who work part-time for economic reasons. That’s quite a bit higher than the widely reported 9.4 percent figure… And, unemployment continues to fall unevenly by gender, race, class, and occupation.

Consumer Bankruptcy Filings up Sharply (Calculated Risk)
From the American Bankruptcy Institute: Consumer Bankruptcy Filings up 37 Percent in May “U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings rose 37 percent nationwide in May from the same period a year ago, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), relying on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center (NBKRC). The overall May consumer filing total of 124,838 was roughly level from the April total of 125,618. Chapter 13 filings constituted 27 percent of all consumer cases in May, slightly above the April rate.”

Oil spikes above $70 for first time this year (AP)
Oil prices broke through the $70 per-barrel barrier Friday and more forecasters are broadening expectations for an upward swing in crude… Oil prices have been soaring for months despite a massive surplus of petroleum and natural gas. A large amount of speculative money has flowed into the markets, according to government reports, potentially taking advantage of a weak
U.S. currency.

Making the Case for Another Fiscal Stimulus
Although President Obama’s $787 billion fiscal stimulus is still working its way through the pipeiline, Berkeley economist — and former Clinton Treasury official — Brad DeLong makes the case for another round. In a draft of a letter he says he may send Obama next week, he said:

“At the end of 2008, when your incoming administration was preparing your recession-fighting strategy, your forecasts were that the recession would bottom out in August of 2009, with a peak unemployment rate of 7.9%. The unemployment rate in May was already 9.4%. 10% unemployment this year is a nearly foregone conclusion. 11% unemployment — a recession twice as deep as the one your incoming administration was forecasting at the end of 2008 — is not unlikely …. Even had the fiscal expansion plans of your administration not been cut back by roughly a quarter in their employment-generating effectiveness by the Congress, fiscal stimulus plans that appeared to be adequate and appropriate at the turn of the year now appear to be inadequate. Compounding the problem of inadequate fiscal expansion at the federal level is the problem of inappropriate and substantial fiscal contraction at the state level.”

Where’s the money coming from? (by Paul Krugman)
The huge borrowing by major governments, the U.S. government in particular, has confused many people — and not just Niall Ferguson. What I hear again and again is either the assertion that all this borrowing must drive up interest rates, or worries that the Chinese won’t be willing to lend us the money… [But according to data provided by] Brad Setser, … [we’re] actually borrowing less from foreigners than we were before.

U.S. to Propose Wider Oversight of Compensation (New York Times)
The Obama administration plans to require banks and corporations that have received two rounds of federal bailouts to submit any major executive pay changes for approval by a new federal official who will monitor compensation, according to two government officials. The proposal is part of a broad set of regulations on executive compensation expected to be announced by the administration as early as this week. Some of the rules are required by legislation enacted in the wake of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and they would apply only to companies that received taxpayer money.

Others, which are being described as broad principles, would set standards that the government would like the entire financial industry to observe as banks and other companies compensate their highest-paid executives, though it is not clear how stringent regulators will make them.

Has Wall Street learned its lesson? (Editorial,  Miami Herald)
Not to judge from current efforts in Washington to restrict, undermine or just plain thwart new efforts at regulation… The issue is the attempt in Washington to rein in all of these fancy and hard-to-fathom financial instruments like the … credit-default swaps. These derivatives played a crucial role in taking the economy to the brink of collapse, but they were bought and traded in largely unsupervised operations that yielded huge profits for Wall Street.

Some lawmakers believe that the way to make sure this doesn’t happen again is to trade these instruments on an open exchange, just like company stocks. This increases transparency – a synonym for “truth” in an economic context – so that customers know what prevailing prices are and can also measure the risk of investment. Banks want to avoid this at all costs, however, because this would cut into their profits.

We Had Our Perestroika. It’s High Time for Yours (by Mikhail Gorbachev)
The current global crisis demonstrates that the leaders of major powers, particularly the
United States, had missed the signals that called for a perestroika. The result is a crisis that is not just financial and economic. It is political, too. The model that emerged during the final decades of the 20th century has turned out to be unsustainable. It was based on a drive for super-profits and hyper-consumption for a few, on unrestrained exploitation of resources and on social and environmental irresponsibility.

But if all the proposed solutions and action now come down to a mere rebranding of the old system, we are bound to see another, perhaps even greater upheaval down the road. The current model does not need adjusting; it needs replacing. I have no ready-made prescriptions. But I am convinced that a new model will emerge, one that will emphasize public needs and public goods, such as a cleaner environment, well-functioning infrastructure and public transportation, sound education and health systems and affordable housing.
He’s more liberal than Barack Obama.

Doubts mount over US toxic asset plan (Financial Times)
The controversial US toxic asset clean-up plan, aimed at clearing bad loans from US banks’ books to enable them to raise capital and lend freely, has fallen behind schedule, and may never be fully implemented. The plan has fallen prey to concerns from potential investors and regulators and waning interest from the banks themselves. Investors fear that Congress may set caps on pay while regulators are beginning to doubt whether the plan is really necessary.

Fed hiring veteran lobbyist: source (Reuters)
The U.S. Federal Reserve is on track to hire a veteran lobbyist to help manage its relations with Congress at a time of heightened attention to its role in national affairs, a source familiar with the situation said on Friday… The Fed believes it will be useful to add to its resources at a time when there is great public and congressional interest in the institution, the source said… Members of Congress have chafed at the Fed’s bold use of its emergency powers and in particular its multibillion-dollar bailouts of investment bank Bear Stearns and insurer American International Group.

Chrysler Creditors Ask U.S. Justice to Stop Fiat Sale (Bloomberg)
Chrysler LLC creditors asked a U.S. Supreme Court justice to block the carmaker from selling its assets as early as tomorrow to a group led by Italy’s Fiat SpA. Indiana pension funds that lent Chrysler money said in papers filed late yesterday that they will seek a Supreme Court review of a ruling allowing the sale. The funds asked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for an order blocking the transfer until the high court decides whether to hear the funds’ appeal. “Absent a stay, the sale will close on Monday, June 8, 2009,” the funds said in their court papers, filed in Washington. They said they would suffer “irreparable harm” should the sale go forward.

Auto Dealers Favor GOP With Campaign Cash (Capital Eye)
With debate raging on the Internet about whether President Obama is targeting certain Chrysler dealerships for closure, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics decided to take a closer look at the numbers behind the donations of automobile dealers. As our industry profile clearly shows, car dealers are — and have always been — a GOP-leaning demographic.

Major problems found in war spending (AP)
In its first report to Congress, the Wartime Contracting Commission presents a bleak assessment of how tens of billions of dollars have been spent since 2001. The 111-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, documents poor management, weak oversight, and a failure to learn from past mistakes as recurring themes in wartime contracting…
U.S. reliance on contractors has grown to “unprecedented proportions,” says the bipartisan commission, established by Congress last year. More than 240,000 private sector employees are supporting military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands more work for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.

But the government has no central data base of who all these contractors are, what services they provide, and how much they’re paid. The Pentagon has failed to provide enough trained staff to watch over them, creating conditions for waste and corruption, the commission says. In Iraq, the panel worries that as U.S. troops depart in larger numbers, there will be too few government eyes on the contractors left to oversee the closing of hundreds of bases and disposal of mountains of federal property.

McHugh on DADT: I have no interest in excluding people ‘otherwise qualified to serve.’ (Think Progress)
After President Obama named Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) as his nominee for Secretary of the Army, progressives have been working to better understand McHugh’s current position on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on gays serving openly in the military. While McHugh still intends to refrain from publicizing his own personal view on the issue until his confirmation hearings, yesterday in an interview with Roll Call, he hinted that he believes it’s time to repeal the ban: “‘I have no interest as either a Member of Congress or as … secretary of the Army to exclude by some categorization a group of people otherwise qualified to serve,’ McHugh told Roll Call.”

White House won’t cross firefighter’s picket line to attend mayor’s conference. (Think Progress)
Vice President Biden and other key administration officials, who had been scheduled to attend the national mayor’s conference in
Providence, RI, have backed out because they refuse to cross a picket line. The AP reports that there is “a years-long conflict between the Providence mayor, David Cicilline, and local firefighters over contract matters. Cicilline is the host of the conference in his home city, and the firefighters, backed by the International Association of Fire Fighters, plan to stage a picket line at the event.” The White House said respecting picket lines is the administration’s policy.

US to ramp up intel efforts in drug war (AFP)
The United States will step up intelligence efforts aimed at stemming the illicit flow of drugs, guns and cash across the border with 
Mexico, according to a White House strategy paper soon to be sent to Congress. The strategy, drawn up by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, calls for wide-ranging improvements to intelligence gathering and analysis that can be used by law enforcement units. “Agencies should consider deploying additional intelligence analysts from headquarters-type roles into frontline operational organizations to facilitate the linking of intelligence to operations,” the report said.
Shouldn’t we stop digging that hole?

State Dept. Retiree Accused of Spying (Washington Post)
A former State Department official with top-secret security clearance and his wife have been charged with spying for Cuba over the past three decades, passing information by shortwave radio and correspondence exchanged in local grocery stores, federal prosecutors said.

U.S. couple spied for Cuba for 30 years, investigators allege (McClatchy)
Walter Kendall Myers spent more than two decades deep in the bureaucracy of the U.S. State Department until this week, when federal authorities accused him of a life of intrigue and espionage as a clandestine agent for one of the U.S.’s longtime antagonists: the communist government of Cuba.

George Tiller killing now a federal investigation (McClatchy)
A federal investigation has been launched in connection with the fatal shooting of George Tiller, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today.

Obama’s Flip-Flops for the Public Good (by Kenneth T. Walsh, U.S. News & World Report)
President Obama has been shifting gears, and reversing some of his policies, at a remarkable rate. But so far, he hasn’t paid much of a political price for it, a testament to his popularity and the willingness of Americans to give him a chance to get results.
Define “public good”, Ken. And define “political price”. See below.

Is Obama Starting To Take On Water? (by Sean Trende, Real Clear Politics)
That said, there are some signs that Obama’s approval ratings are beginning to come down to Earth.  This is unsurprising — every post-World War II President who has served a full term, save Eisenhower, has seen his approval rating drop below 50% at some point in his first term.  Regardless, Rasmussen has Obama’s net “strongly approve/strongly disapprove” ratings at zero for the first time in his term.  His net approval rating is tied for the lowest of his term.  At the same time, the percentage of people who classify Obama’s leadership skills as “Excellent” or “Good” is only 51%.  49% give him “Fair” or “Poor” marks.

Gallup has also shown a narrowing of his approve/disapprove, which is the lowest today it has been in months (though it is still a very healthy net +31%).  The RCP average has him at his lowest net approval rating of his term (again, a healthy +25.2%); it also has him below 60% for only the second time (the first time was in March)… Time will tell whether this becomes a long term trend, or is merely a blip.  But for the first time since the stimulus debate, we’re starting to get some signs that events are wearing away some of Obama’s glow.

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll (Rasmussen, Sunday, June 07, 2009)
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 35% of the nation’s voters now Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Thirty-two percent (32%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of +3… Overall, 53% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance so far. That’s his lowest level of overall approval to date. Forty-six percent (46%) now disapprove.

It’s so simple … (by Gail at Arizona Eclectic Blog, thanks to vastleft at Corrente)
In spite of all the hype about Obama being open to the ideas of those who do not agree with him, in actuality Obama’s solution to problems come from a very narrow set of solutions proposed by those in power; those who benefit, usually monetarily, from those very decisions. Those with alternate solutions, solution that may look beyond immediate gain of the Banksters and Robber Baron Corporatists are either shut our completely or allowed to voice their concerns after the decisions have been solidified.

TP’s Ian Millhiser debates Lou Dobbs on Sotomayor’s 2nd amendment record. (Think Progress)
[Friday] night on CNN, Lou Dobbs claimed there are “new concerns” about Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s rulings on our 2nd amendment rights. Dobbs tried to argue that Sotomayor may be hostile towards private gun ownership. But ThinkProgress’ legal research analyst Ian Millhiser set the record straight, noting that the only thing we truly know from Sotomayor’s jurisprudence on 2nd amendment issues is that she has followed the rule of law and Supreme Court precedent.
Click through to watch the video.

NTY continues to portray Sotomayor as a hothead on the bench (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
And more importantly, the Times continues to indicate how it, and the rest of the serious press, is going to tell whatever tale it wants about the judge. The coverage of Sotomayor has become so detached from legal reality, I think, that journalists no longer feel any compunction to reflect the facts. In other words, it’s open season.

Steele On Sotomayor: ‘God Help You If You’re A White Male Coming Before Her Bench’ (Think Progress)
Last week, while guest-hosting Bill Bennett’s radio show, RNC Chairman Michael Steele urged Republicans to stop “slammin’ and rammin‘” Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor with personal attacks. Instead, Steele argued that conservatives should “move on to the substance of the conversation about what this woman believes, why she believes it.” But just one week later, while hosting the same show, Steele couldn’t help but paint Sotomayor as a racist. “God help you if you’re a white male coming before her bench,” declared Steele before agreeing with a caller who … wanted the GOP to raise questions about her “character”.

Bias (by digby)
So the problem with female judges is that their different experience in life leads them to be biased… But the idea that women may inherently view the law differently on occasion is something that troubles even several female judges who believe it may be so… [W]hat’s interesting here is the notion that the way men see things is “normal” and that the way women see things is biased…

Sotomayor’s whole point in the “wise Latina” speech may have been that the experience of a woman living in a society which presumes this male privilege by default might actually be less biased than those who never question it. And after all the commentary this past week in which this privilege and experience is completely taken for granted as the standard to which she must be compared, I think I agree with that. Clearly, most people (perhaps most women too) don’t question the absurd notion that eight men on the Supreme Court ruling from their experience is a sign of their impartiality but that a woman ruling from hers isn’t. If a judge has knowledge of that inherent, social bias it actually would make her see things in a fairer light than someone who doesn’t.

ABC’s The Note lets slip the truth about the Sotomayor press coverage (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
From [Friday’s]edition of the CW-loving Note: “There’s plenty there to keep his attention:…a storyline is developing around Judge Sonia Sotomayor that can at least make the hearings more interesting.”… That, my friends, is the money quote of the last two weeks. Because in it, the Note acknowledges what other journalists will not, which is the entire point of the press coverage is make sure the hearings are interesting. That’s all the press cares about. Period. And will do whatever it takes to prop up phony “drama.”

How epically dishonest has the Sotomayor “Latina woman” coverage been? (by Eric Boehlert at  County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Bottom line: Reporters and pundits must avoid providing any kind of context for the “
Latina woman” quote in order for that storyline to survive even modest scrutiny. Well, mission accomplished because I just did a Nexis search and found that during the last ten days there have been more than 950 media mentions of Sotomayor and “Latina woman.” Then I looked to see how many of those 950-plus news reports included the word “discrimination” as a way to put that quote in context. Answer: Less than 20.

Or, approximately two percent of news reports have managed to do journalism’s most basic task, which is to provide all pertinent information. Instead of informing news consumers, the press has been actively misinforming them about Sotomayor. That’s how dishonest the coverage has been.

National Review Conflates ‘Wise Latina’ With Buddhist, Or Something (by Pareene at Gawker)
Hey, here is the new cover of The National Review, depicting “Wise Latina” Sonia Sotomayor as… Asian, for some reason.
I don’t get it, either. I like it, though. Being compared to the Buddha is a good thing, isn’t it?

White House Talking Points Blast Sotomayor Foes As Desperate Culture Warriors (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
I’ve obtained a set of White House talking points, privately distributed to outside liberal allies, that chart an aggressive counterattack against foes of Sonia Sotomayor, claiming that critics of a major ruling “wish to reignite the culture wars of the past” and are “grasping for attacks in the face of a strong nominee.” The new talking points — which hit back more aggressively than earlier ones — show the White House anticipates a fresh onslaught of attacks on her widely-cited ruling in Ricci vs. DeStefano when the Supreme Court rules on this case, perhaps this week. The talking points suggest the White House thinks the debate will shift to this case and that the attacks have some potential.
Click through for more.

Three More Bundlers Among Obama’s Ambassador Picks (Capital Eye)
President Obama’s picks for the new American ambassadors to the Bahamas, Canada and South Africa will not only share a new job title, but they have all shared a role raising funds for Obama’s presidential campaign. Donald Gips, the nominee to serve as ambassador to South Africa, bundled at least $500,000 for Obama’s presidential run. Nicole Avant, the nominee for the ambassador post in the Bahamas, also bundled at least half a million. David Jacobson, the nominee for the ambassador to Canada, brought in between $50,000 and $100,000.
U.S. presidents have long rewarded big campaign donors, fundraisers and other loyalists with ambassadorships, and Obama looks to be continuing that tradition.

Obama nominee withdrawing over interrogations (by Alex Koppelman at War Room, Salon)
President Obama has, reportedly, lost another high-level nominee. The latest to go is Philip Mudd, who was tapped to be under secretary of intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security. During the Bush administration, Mudd had served for a time as deputy director of the Office of Terrorism Analysis at the CIA. According to the Associated Press, in that position, he had direct knowledge of the administration’s interrogation program. Given the sensitivity of that issue, and the opposition to that program and the people who participated in it, it seems that the AP’s disclosure of Mudd’s peripheral role was enough to kill his chances.

Obama’s poor choice for faith leader (by Frances Kissling, Salon, thanks to Alegre)
President Barack Obama’s appointment of Alexia Kelley, founder of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, as director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives took the pro-choice movement by surprise… Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center … and others will want to know is why the post, which includes oversight of the department’s faith-based grant-making in family planning, HIV and AIDS and in small-scale research into the effect of religion and spirituality on early sexual behavior, has gone to someone who both believes abortion should be illegal and opposes contraception…

Kelley and other moderately progressive Catholic and evangelical groups owe their pull in the Democratic Party to the disappointment of 2004. They seized on the Democratic defeat in the 2004 elections as a means to push the party to the right on sex and reproduction. Democrats, stung by their near miss in Ohio, desperate to attract swing voters, eager to prove that they were “sensitive” to religion, took the bait.

With support from George Soros and Michael Kieschnick, the founder of Working Assets and Credo Mobile, groups like Sojourners, Faith in Public Life and Catholics in Alliance entered the electoral arena. Catholics in Alliance and its sister organization, Catholics United, were active in voter registration and organizing Catholic voters in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2006 and 2008… In part, Kelley’s appointment is the usual political payback.
I think I’ll give up my Credo long distance account.

Are House Democrats about to block Obama’s new secrecy law? (by Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory, Salon)
Earlier this week, I noted that the Senate had passed — with Obama’s support – a pernicious amendment to the spending supplemental bill, jointly sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman, that empowers Obama and the Pentagon, at their sole discretion, to suppress any “photograph taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained after September 11, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States.”

The amendment has no purpose other than to expressly allow the President to conceal evidence of war crimes (torture) and to block the Supreme Court from ruling (as two federal courts have already held) that the Freedom of Information Act compels disclosure of those photographs… But passage of Graham-Lieberman now appears much less certain because of what appears to be the refusal of some key liberal House Democrats — including Barney Frank — to support it.  The votes of liberal House Democrats actually matter (for once) because most House Republicans are refusing to support the overall supplemental bill.

House GOPers Say White House Measure Will Help Terrorists — But It’s Backed By Rice, Powell, And Kissinger (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
House GOP leaders Eric Cantor and John Boehner have waged an aggressive campaign against a measure sought by the White House and Dem leaders to provide funding for the International Monetary Fund, claiming the cash could end up funding terrorism. But I’ve learned that the initiative is strongly backed by none other than Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Henry Kissinger — not folks who are known for their terror sympathies.

The measure in question — meant to meet Obama’s vow to world leaders — would add $5 billion to the current war-spending bill to fund the IMF. Republicans oppose the IMF cash, forcing House leaders, who lack enough Dem votes, to scrap a vote until next week, setting up a big showdown over Obama’s war supplemental.

Senate poised to vote on sweeping FDA tobacco rules (McClatchy)
Sweeping changes in how the government controls tobacco content and marketing are likely to be approved by the U.S. Senate this week, despite a strong last-ditch effort by tobacco interests and skepticism from some experts that smokers won’t kick their habit.

Harry Reid Calls Immigration a Priority for U.S. Senate (Washington Post)
At a news conference with Hispanic leaders to tout Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court candidacy, Reid said a comprehensive immigration bill is “going to happen this session, but I want it this year, if at all possible.” [Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid(D-Nev.)] called it one of his three top priorities this year, along with health care and energy. His comments drew renewed attention to the immigration issue, which has been largely dormant on Capitol Hill since a comprehensive reform measure failed in the Senate in 2007. Despite the hopes of Reid and other advocates, however, with Congress and the White House preoccupied with a packed legislative calendar, immigration reform looks unlikely to pass this year.

House Democratic leaders have already said they want the Senate to move on immigration first, and the Senate can take weeks to process a major bill.

Inhofe Rips Obama As ‘Un-American,’ Suggests He’s On The Side Of Terrorists (Think Progress)
Reacting to President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world [Thursday], Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) decried the president’s speech as “un-American” and even suggested Obama might be on the side of terrorists.

All but over for Coleman, experts say (Politico)
Seven months after
Minnesota‘s Senate election, the state’s highest court hasn’t reached a decision but election law experts agree: Norm Coleman doesn’t have a prayer. These experts see almost no chance Coleman’s lawyers will prevail in their appeal to the state’s high court to count more ballots in a bid to erase Al Franken’s slim lead.

Sestak Confirms He’s Making Senate Bid (Political Wire)
Short of divine intervention, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) is running for the U.S. Senate and will challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in a primary, according to pa2010.com. Said Sestak: “It would take an act of God for me to not get in now.”

Schakowsky Will Not Run for Senate (Political Wire)
After exploring a Senate run, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) told Lynn Sweet that she instead will seek another term in the House. “Schakowsky had set today as her deadline for deciding whether to jump into the Democratic primary. She told me a statewide contest ‘would have been very exciting,’ but she wanted to take advantage of ‘this moment in history’ to use her House leadership position — she is part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s inner circle — to work on pending health care and energy legislation.”
Jan is one of the few true progressives in Congress.

Crist enjoys commanding lead in Fla. Senate race (On Politics, USA Today)
A Strategic Vision poll shows Crist picking up 59% of the Republican primary voters against former state House speaker Marco Rubio, who got about 22%. A potential match-up between Crist and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek shows the former state attorney general beating Meek, 59% to 29%, in the race to replace the retiring Sen. Mel Martinez, a Republican. The first-term governor “is the most popular politician in Florida with strong bipartisan support,” said David Johnson, the polling firm’s CEO. “It is conservatives who give the governor his lowest numbers.”

Split Decision in 2010? (Political Wire)
Charlie Cook says that “absent any national tide” Democrats could lose a dozen or so House seats next year and pick up a seat or two in the Senate. “Having gained 54 House seats over the past two elections, Democrats now represent 49 districts that GOP presidential nominee John McCain won last year. By comparison, Republicans represent 34 districts that Obama won. Simple arithmetic indicates that in the absence of overwhelming hostility toward the Republican Party, the GOP ought to gain a few, maybe even a dozen or so, House seats.”

“On the Senate side, the math is a bit different and is not driven directly by the results of the past two elections. In 2010, Republicans will be defending 19 seats, only one more than Democrats will.”

Deeds Grabs Solid Lead in Virginia (Political Wire)
A new Public Policy Polling survey in Virginia finds that undecided voters in the Democratic gubernatorial race have broken almost exclusively to Creigh Deeds (D), allowing him to open up a double digit before Tuesday’s primary. Deeds now leads with 40%, followed by Terry McAuliffe at 26%, and Brian Moran at 24%.

Rangel Warns of Primary Challenge to Paterson (Political Wire)
In an interview with NY1, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) warned New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) not to challenge Gov. David Paterson (D) in a Democratic primary next year, saying it could create “racial polarization” in the state and be “devastating” to New York Democrats.
Will there be blood, Charlie?

Plouffe to Advise Patrick on Re-Election Bid (Political Wire)
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is tapping David Plouffe, the architect of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign “to help run his bid for reelection next year, an indication of the type of political star power the governor may be able to utilize as he seeks another four-year term,” reports the Boston Globe. The announcement “is a sign the governor is beginning to build his campaign network and trying to put to rest doubts political insiders have raised about whether he is committed to running again.”

Palin Told She Won’t Speak at Fundraiser (Political Wire)
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s “on-again, off-again appearance at Monday night’s gala GOP fundraising dinner is off — again,” reports Politico. “After being invited — for a second time — to speak to the annual joint fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Palin was told abruptly Saturday night that she would not be allowed to address the thousands of Republicans there after all.” “The
Alaska governor may now skip the dinner altogether, and her allies are miffed at what they see as a slight from the congressional wing of the Republican Party.”

Rove: ‘Who Cares’ Whether Muslims ‘Approve Or Like The President Of The United States’? (Think Progress)
[Thursday] night, Karl Rove went on Fox News and lambasted President Obama’s speech in
Cairo, saying that he would give him a grade of “D minus” on the “important parts of the speech.” Host Bill O’Reilly then decided to play “devil’s advocate” and pointed out that President Bush’s approach wasn’t all that great since Muslim communities around the world “hated him.” Rove responded that it doesn’t really matter what they think.

Dean’s Next Battle: Beat The Conservative Book Industry (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Howard Dean’s appointment to the chair of the Progressive Book Club is being hailed as a major step on the part of Democrats to close one of the few remaining institutional deficits they have with Republicans. For years, progressives have watched with a mix of envy and wonder at the capacity of the conservative movement to nurture and promote its young writers. As the Democratic Party and like-minded institutions have matched their ideological counterparts in other organizational functions, that gap in book promotion has lingered.

Enter Dean. The former Vermont Governor is, among other things, known for his emphasis on party infrastructure and organization. His presidential campaign in 2004 helped set the stage for the online and grassroots activism that propelled Barack Obama’s candidacy four years later. His 50-state strategy as chair of the DNC was, likewise, based on the idea that strong roots made the party more formidable. Now, progressives are hoping he can help implement a similar philosophy when it comes to an important sliver in the battle of ideas.
Maybe Howard’s been reading my Progressive Media Strategy proposal.

In Iraq, Colbert Does His Shtick for the Troops (New York Times)
Stephen Colbert is taping four episodes of The Colbert Report in Baghdad this week. It’s the first time in the history of the U.S.O. that a full-length nonnews show has been filmed, edited and broadcast from a combat zone. The week of shows is called “Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando,” and its guest list includes
Iraq’s deputy prime minister.
Is there anyone better at capturing the spotlight than Stephen Colbert?

Filmmaker Ken Burns discusses national parks project (McClatchy)
The latest project of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and his longtime colleague Dayton Duncan is “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” The six-part series took six years to create and will air on PBS in the fall.

Olbermann Whacks MSNBC For Liz Cheney Exposure (Without Naming MSNBC) (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Since we’re on the topic of all the airtime MSNBC grants to Liz Cheney to act as her pop’s defense attorney and chief flak, it’s worth noting that the network’s own Keith Olbermann is also lampooning the constant platform granted to Ms. Cheney on the networks… Olbermann clearly wasn’t singling out MSNBC and was referring to all the culpable networks. [Thursday] night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow also noted this phenomenon without singling out MSNBC.

A side note: In the blogosphere, the convention is that writers are often allowed to take issue publicly with their bosses and/or the institutions they work for. If the Olbermann-Maddow wing of MSNBC is the kind of on-air version of the liberal blogosphere, it’s interesting that this convention hasn’t quite spread to those precincts, though it probably will soon enough.
My comment: Define “blogosphere”, Greg. On most blogs, even so-called progressive ones, disagreement with management (especially with regard to Obama) will get you banned. I believe you had your own problems at TPM due to your defense of Hillary Clinton during last year’s primary. Josh basically shut you up by taking your independent blog away.

A sheep in Wolffe’s clothing? (by: Ben Smith at Politico)
[Former Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe’s book about the 2008 campaign,] “Renegade” is billed on its cover as “based on exclusive interviews with Barack Obama.” The footnotes detail 21 such interviews. They were so exclusive, as it happens, that key elements of them apparently did not appear contemporaneously in Newsweek, which was footing the bill as Wolffe flew around the country with Obama for two years. Nor did they appear in the magazine’s own post-election volume. No matter the balance questions, Wolffe’s access did pay some dividends. He gets Obama accusing former President Bill Clinton of telling “bald-faced lies” – and the news that the candidate met secretly in
Chicago with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Those revelations have gotten the book noticed, and it’s received a favorable review from the New York Times.

All of that will be good for sales — for the book, but not for Newsweek, which Federal Election Commission records show reimbursed the Obama campaign nearly $170,000 for the cost of flying Wolffe around the country in the candidate’s bubble.
It wasn’t Bill Clinton doing the lying.

For journalists, how close is too close? (Political Ticker, CNN)
Author and former Newsweek journalist Richard Wolffe is refuting charges that he acted more like Barack Obama’s campaign spokesman than as a journalist covering Obama’s presidential campaign. It was Obama, himself, who suggested that Wolffe write his book Renegade: The Making of a President. Wolffe, however, denied that writing the book meant trading objectivity for access.

Newsweek’s Evan Thomas: Obama Is ‘Sort of God’ (Newsbusters, a right-wing site)
Newsweek editor Evan Thomas brought adulation over President Obama’s Cairo speech to a whole new level on Friday, declaring on MSNBC: ”I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above – above the world, he’s sort of God.”

Thomas, appearing on Hardball with Chris Matthews, was reacting to a preceding monologue in which Matthews praised Obama’s speech: “I think the President’s speech yesterday was the reason we Americans elected him. It was grand. It was positive. Hopeful…But what I liked about the President’s speech in Cairo was that it showed a complete humility…The question now is whether the President we elected and spoke for us so grandly yesterday can carry out the great vision he gave us and to the world.”
Newsbusters isn’t known for honesty, but I have to wonder if they would go so far to make up quotes. The transcript of Friday’s Hardball show should be available later today.

Why Starbucks Is Sponsoring MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ (Advertising Age)
CMO Terry Davenport Says Coffee Chain Sees Opportunity to Promote Ethical Commitments

Glenn Beck: The 23 Million Dollar Man (TVNewser, Media Bistro)
What list includes Angelina Jolie, Tiger Woods, and Glenn Beck? This year’s annual “ranking of the world’s ultra famous,” the Forbes Celebrity 100. Beck was the only TV news personality to make the list.

NARAL Rep on Why She Won’t Appear on O’Reilly’s Show (by Mary Alice Carr)
I made a personal pledge to no longer sit across from [Bill O'Reilly] after he called for people to converge on [recently murdered abortion doctor George] Tiller’s clinic. I realized that appearing on the show with him would only legitimize his speech and that no good would come of my efforts.

Pruden: Obama is “our first president without an instinctive appreciation of the culture… whence America sprang” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Pat Robertson on Beck : “Obama and his crew are taking advantage of this to insert socialism and government control” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

FNS panel spread false claim that Cairo speech indicated Obama has “given up” on stopping Iran from getting nukes (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Gingrich: Americans ‘surrounded by paganism.’ (Think Progress)
On Friday, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Oliver North visited
Rock Church in Hampton Roads, Virginia to give a three-hour long lecture on “Rediscovering God in America.” The speakers warned the audience about the “continuing availability of abortion, the spread of gay rights, and attempts to remove religion from American public life and school history books.” The Virginia-Pilot reported that Gingrich argued that, while Christianity is the foundation of American citizenship, Americans are experiencing a period where they are being “surrounded by paganism”.

“Czars” paranoia rampant on Cavuto ; he suggests calling them “evil despots accountable to no one” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Radio host Jennings declares Limbaugh “the most important conservative voice in America since Reagan” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Plan to sell off Calif. landmarks is questioned (AP)
San Quentin State Prison.
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The California State Fairgrounds. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to put some of his state’s biggest landmarks up for sale to help erase a $24 billion budget deficit is fraught with questions, chief among them: How can California taxpayers possibly get a good deal in this slumping real estate market? Schwarzenegger, who has also proposed deep cuts in education, health care, welfare and parks, wants to sell off some property outright, sell office buildings and then rent them back from the new landlords, and lease some state land to developers.
More important, what do they do next?

Most California lawmakers receiving full salaries (McClatchy)
Nothing in California law says legislators have to sink with the ship of state — and a forced pay cut this year is unconstitutional, so sacrifice is a person-by-person decision.

Voters steer Europe to the right (BBC)
Centre-right parties have done well in elections to the European Parliament at the expense of the left. Far-right and anti-immigrant parties also made gains, as turnout figures plunged to 43% – the lowest since direct elections began 30 years ago.

Hold Your Applause (by Chris Hedges at Truthdig)
Did they play Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in the prison corridors of Abu Ghraib, Bagram air base, Guantanamo or the dozens of secret sites where we hold thousands of Muslims around the world?… What do words of peace and cooperation mean from us when we torture—yes, we still torture—only Muslims? What do these words mean when we sanction Israel’s brutal air assaults on Lebanon and Gaza, assaults that demolished thousands of homes and left hundreds dead and injured? How does it look for Obama to call for democracy and human rights from Egypt, where we lavishly fund and support the despotic regime of Hosni Mubarak, one of the longest-reigning dictators in the Middle East?…

The expanding imperial projects and tightening screws of repression lurch forward under Obama. We are not trying to end terror or promote democracy. We are ensuring that our corporate state has a steady supply of the cheap oil to which it is addicted. And the scarcer oil becomes, the more aggressive we become. This is the game playing out in the Muslim world.

Lebanon Deals Hezbollah Blow as Moderates Hang On (Wall Street Journal)
A Western-leaning coalition of candidates appears to have held onto its parliamentary majority in
Lebanon’s Sunday polls, beating back a challenge by a Hezbollah-led bloc that some polls had indicated would come out on top. Official results weren’t expected until Monday. But unofficial results from some key battleground contests suggested the Hezbollah-led opposition did not capture enough votes to win a majority. The head of the Western-backed coalition announced victory early Monday.

The outcome came as a surprise because some had predicted a victory here for Hezbollah, which receives significant funding from Iran and is allied with Syria. A Hezbollah-led victory would have been deeply troubling for Israel and U.S.-allied Arab neighbors, who are loath to see Tehran boost its regional influence.

UN: Iran expands uranium efforts, is blocking monitoring (McClatchy)
Iran has expanded its uranium enrichment program and is impeding United Nations monitoring of its enrichment program, a confidential U.N. report said Friday.

Israel’s Premier Promises Major Peace Plan (New York Times)
Under mounting American pressure to define his intentions regarding peace efforts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Sunday that he would make a major policy speech next week mapping out the government’s “principles for achieving peace and security.”

“White Power” in Israel (by Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire)
Good god. Have you seen this video yet? I am stunned. I’m no Obama fan, but this is the ugliest damned shit I’ve ever seen…
[Click through to watch the video.] Believe it or not, the … video was censored from Huffington Post on the grounds that it “had no news value” and “did not move the conversation forward.” Most of the kids seen here hold American-Israeli dual citizenship. Some are American Jews doing the indoctrination tour of Israel. I hope that any American citizen who, on camera, has called for harm to befall the president will have to explain his or her words to the Secret Service.
My comment: Kinda reminds me of the Obots’ treatment of Hillary.

‘Birthright Israel’ (by Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
As I noted earlier, young American Jews are often encouraged to accept free trips to Israel which turn out to be pretty much fear-ridden and propaganda-based. There’s another group call “Birthright Unplugged,” founded last year by progressive American Jews. They bring those same kids to meet with Palestinians and see how they live. And guess what? If you plan on the second program, your invitation to the first one is rescinded.

Pakistani tribesmen, with government support, attack Taliban extremists (McClatchy)
Pakistan_Pakistani tribesmen, enraged by a suicide bombing of a mosque in their district, organized a traditional militia and attacked Taliban extremists this weekend — an action that government officials welcomed and western allies are likely to endorse.

Cuba could become U.S. oil supplier at embargo’s end (McClatchy)
Cuba has launched a bold policy of oil development that could turn the country into an important supplier of fuel in the Caribbean — and the United States, should the embargo be lifted in the future.

China explores buying $50bn of IMF bonds  (Financial Times)
China is “actively considering” buying up to $50bn of International Monetary Fund bonds, the country’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange has said. John Lipsky, IMF first deputy managing director, confirmed the Chinese proposal, which follows one by Russia to buy $10bn (€7.1bn, £6.2bn) in IMF bonds… The pledges by both countries seem to have some political motivations – both China and Russia make no secret of their desire to have a greater say in how the IMF commits money.

Media Matters for America headlines

Hill falsely claims Employee Free Choice Act “robs workers” of secret ballot

Fox News falsely asserted Obama claimed “there is no more terrorism”

Fox’s Napolitano mischaracterized NASA report to deny humans cause global warming

Hannity, Steyn misrepresent Obama’s comments on Hamas

Gingrich smear: Sotomayor made decision inRicci ”for clearly racial quota reasons”

Media promote claim that Bush administration’s Guantánamo policies “kept us safe”

Media note Obama did not say “terrorism,” but don’t discuss why

Media conservatives divided in reactions to Obama’s Cairo address

Now the NY Times tells us: “[A]cademic studies” undermine cramdown critics

Fox’s Hemmer sugarcoats reasons for opposition to Sessions’ judicial nomination

NKorea sentences 2 US journalists to 12 years jail
North Korea‘s top court convicted two American journalists and sentenced them to 12 years in a prison Monday, intensifying the reclusive nation’s confrontation with the United States.

The Great Firewall of China Goes Local (Mashable)
Last week we wrote about 
China’s blockade of most major social networks and search engines during the anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre on 4th of June. Now, the Chinese authorities want to take it a step further, ordering that all PCs sold in the country, starting with July 1, must come with software that blocks certain websites.

According to the Chinese government, which haven’t yet gone public with the announcement, but has warned PC makers about the deadline, this measure’s aim is to protect the Chinese from harmful content, primarily pornography. But since this same government has blocked sites like Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and Bing, it’s quite possible that this software’s primary aim is adding another layer of censorship over the existing Great Firewall.

Digital piracy looms over World Copyright Summit
Movie directors, composers, authors, legal experts, policy-makers and others are meeting here this week to discuss the “threats and opportunities” the Internet poses to copyright in the digital age.

Pirate Party Is Victorious, Joins European Parliament (Mashable)
[Sunday’s] European Parliament election results show that the Pirate Party has secured at least one seat in the body by receiving about 7 percent of the Swedish vote… In terms of influence, one or two votes is not much. But the fact that a party based almost exclusively on web piracy gained so many votes cannot by ignored by the Swedish political establishment. The web is a dynamic medium where people can share content and information. Attempting to stifle the flow with lawsuits has proven unpopular and ineffective.
Sadly, it’s the opinion of many netcentric folks that whatever content is created should be free or paid for only by choice.

British Government to Slow Pirates Down (Instead of Cutting Them Off) (Mashable)
The British Government seems to have given up on the dreaded three-strikes law, under which ISPs would be forced to completely cut file sharers off the Internet after two warnings. However, they’re now looking at other “technical solutions,” including limiting their ability to share files or reducing their bandwidth.

Japan explores using cell phones to stop pandemics
A few months from now, a highly contagious disease will spread through a Japanese elementary school. The epidemic will start with several unwitting children, who will infect others as they attend classes and wander the halls.

Slain Tigard woman met suspect on Craigslist in search of baby clothes
Heather Snively was a trusting and naive young woman who moved to Tigard from Maryland a few weeks ago to be with her boyfriend. She was also pregnant and looking for baby clothes, so she turned to Craigslist… That’s where the 21-year-old Snively, who was due in July, met the woman accused of killing her last week in Washington County, Snively’s family and a friend said Sunday. Snively’s body was found in the crawl space of a Beaverton rental home Friday. Her newborn boy died as well. Although police have not disclosed how either died, Snively’s meeting with 27-year-old Korena Elaine Roberts appears to have led to Snively’s death, relatives said.

Obama Urges Laggards to Get Ready for Digital TV
President Barack Obama warned Americans on Thursday who have not prepared for the June 12 transition to digital television that their TVs could go dark if they do not get a converter box soon. “I want to be clear: there will not be another delay,” he said in a statement.

Product V. Process Journalism: The Myth Of Perfection V. Beta Culture (by Jeff Jarvis)
Like the millennial clash of business models in media – the content economy v. the link economy and the inability of one to understand the other – here we see a clash over journalistic culture and methods – product journalism v. process journalism.

True/Slant boss: “We’re empowering journalists to develop their own brand”
True/Slant founder Lewis Dvorkin says his site is “tailored for the entrepreneurial journalist.” While some contributors receive a stipend for their work, others have an equity stake or a share in advertising revenue that they solicit. A writer’s contacts with advertisers will be disclosed, he says.

Blockheads Writing for Free (by Jeffrey Seglin at True/Slant)
My beef with agreeing to write for free is mostly that it can breed bad habits. Those who do it start making justifications about why they don’t need to put as much effort into the free stuff as they do for the paid stuff.

$10K Per Month to Twitter About Wine
California’s Murphy-Goode Winery is on a nationwide hunt for someone to fill its “Really Goode Job.” The successful applicant will earn $10,000 a month to tweet and use other social media skills to generate buzz about its reds and whites.

What ESPN the Magazine Is Doing Right With Its Online Pay Wall (by Nat Ives, Advertising Age)
“Why is it, in this business, we are apologetic when asking [consumers] to pay for what we give them online?” ESPN General Manager Gary Hoenig asked BusinessWeek’s Jon Fine, who broke the news today. “It’s not like people in the milk business who think, ‘We should give it away for free — we can make money on the cartons.’” Notice, though, that ESPN isn’t just building a pay wall around the magazine site; it’s moving the site into a gated community that has attractions of its own. Those attractions will probably remain the gate’s main justification even after ESPN The Magazine settles in.

That’s because most online content is way more like water than milk. It comes from the tap, basically for free. Try charging a quarter at public water fountains, and people will just stop using those fountains.

Temple: I’m not arguing that there isn’t a place for paid content, but…
“The idea that most newspapers have ‘unique’ content that people would pay for is questionable,” says former Rocky editor and publisher John Temple. “As is the idea that the money a paper would receive for its online content would offset its decline in print revenue or make up an adequate stream to pay for the continuing business.”

How the $0 Netbook Might Just Help Save the Media Industry (by Simon Dumenco, Advertising Age)
Hardware makers may have no choice but to turn their Internet devices into multi-tier-subscription-based media machines, because there will never again be enough margin in the basic price of the hardware. And the more we get used to the idea of essentially subscribing to media as a way to pay for hardware … well, the more hope there is for media.
Rent the hardware, rent the software, pay for the content. Just like cable television.

Boston Globe Union Attacks Management Before Vote
The president of the Boston Newspaper Guild has attacked the management of the Boston Globe’s owner, The New York Times Co. He says executives made “wretched” business decisions and forced deep concessions from workers while cutting little themselves.

Globe Drivers’ Union Approves $2.5M in Cuts
The union representing more than 200 Boston Globe delivery truck drivers today approved $2.5 million in wage and benefit cuts, leaving only one major union to ratify concessions that the Globe’s owner, the New York Times Co., says it needs to continue to operate the paper.

NYO Lays Off a Large Chunk of Its Editorial Staff
Just days after changing editors, The New York Observer laid off a significant chunk of its employes on Friday, including as much as a third of its editorial staff. The Observer did not disclose the number of people let go, but one person briefed on the matter said it was 15, including 10 in the newsroom, while another said the total was “in the low teens.”

Free Newspapers Faltering in the Downturn
Free newspapers have been hit especially hard by the economic downturn because they rely entirely on advertising, which is more volatile than revenue from newsstand sales and subscriptions. Analysts say ad revenue at many free newspapers has fallen by more than a third in recent months, compared with a year earlier.

Zell May Lose Control of Tribune
Tribune Co. and its creditors are in the early stages of negotiating a plan of reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that likely would transfer control of the troubled media conglomerate from Chicago billionaire Sam Zell to a group of large banks and investors that holds $8.6 billion in senior debt.

Berlusconi Lashes Out at Murdoch
Silvio Berlusconi, Italian prime minister and billionaire media mogul, lashed out on Thursday at Rupert Murdoch, accusing his business rival of using The Times of London to launch a series of personal attacks.

Troubles in Publishing? It’s Not Just the Web’s Fault (by Gary Andrew Poole at True/Slant)
While newspapers have thrown away their future, book publishers still have a chance to save themselves. They need to change the circa 1875 business model, stop flooding the market with poorly edited books, and learn modern marketing techniques.

California schools see distant digital future for textbooks
Teachers and textbook techies, take note. The state is reviewing digital versions of textbooks that could be used in high school math and science classes next year.
Distant? More likely soon. Think about how much more quickly digital books can be updated. A friend who graduated from Johns Hopkins many years ago told me that after freshman year, they didn’t use textbooks in most of his classes. Instead, they used the latest papers written on the topic. Digital textbooks could be updated every semester, could even be customized by each instructor by deciding what to include.

Nick, Nick Jr. Mags to Fold
The embattled kids magazine category is getting smaller. Citing the tough economic conditions facing magazines, Nickelodeon Magazine Group said it would fold Nickelodeon and sibling title Nick Jr., by the end of 2009. The staff of about 30 people will lose their jobs.

Static Getting Louder Between Clear Channel and Lenders
Clear Channel announced this week that the outdoor unit may borrow $2.5 billion which it would use to pay them back a similarly sized loan. Such an announcement is seen as a warning shot for the lenders to either fall in line or pay a stiff price.

Conan’s Tonight Wins First Week Despite Ratings Slide
Conan O’Brien’s first week behind NBC’s Tonight Show desk resulted in a strong overall ratings performance that dominated competitors and left critics generally pleased. But after debuting to record-setting numbers Monday, The Tonight Show audience has shrunk with each successive episode.

Media Buyers Fairly Frosty on Prospects for Prime-Time Leno
CBS, ABC Expected to Top Him in Ratings Even With Untested Shows

FriendFeed Follows Twitter to TV With Blade Runner-Inspired Show (Mashable)
It seems like it’s time for online conversations to move to television. First, we heard that Twitter might in some way be included in not one but several TV shows, and now there’s a new TV series in the works, called Purefold, which will partly be based on input from FriendFeed.

Movie Studios Unite, Create a Hulu for Films (Mashable)
Epix comes in two parts: a television channel and a Hulu-like website. The television channel will show recent and popular movies from Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM. This means you could watch Iron Man, Cloverfield, or even Raging Bull. Movies will air uninterrupted on the channel – no commercials. It may sound a lot like some premium movie channel offerings already on the market, but it differs from HBO and Showtime in one major aspect: they don’t want you to pay for it. Epix’s intent is to strike deals with cable and satellite providers to bring you the channel as part of your standard TV package.

Netflix Beware: Best Buy Adds Digital Downloads With CinemaNow Deal (Paid Content)
Best Buy wants a piece of the booming digital movie distribution business—and it has brokered a new deal with CinemaNow parent company Sonic Solutions to get it. Movie buffs will soon be able to download films directly from BestBuy.com, and through select devices the company sells in-store. This is the second major distribution deal CinemaNow has scored this year, since it’s supposed to power Blockbuster’s online movie service (which, coincidentally is supposed to launch this quarter).

Google vs. Bing: The Blind Taste Test (by Ben Parr at Mashable)
Does Bing have a better interface? Is it an improvement over Microsoft’s Live search? And most importantly, does Bing provide better results than Google? While there are a few tools out there that already compare the two search engines, none take the scientific approach quite like BlindSearch does… [It] takes your biases out of the equation by stripping away the branding and logos… Perform a search and three columns of results will appear. Each column has a button that allows you to vote for which set of results are the most accurate and useful. The logos will then appear to show you what you voted for. The system randomizes which column will have Google, Yahoo, or Bing results.
Click through to see sample results.

Mint Takes its Personal Finance Tools to My Yahoo (Mashable)
My Yahoo, the internet start page for millions of mainstream users, [now supports] a Mint application that includes a balance-free view of a user’s budget, spending trends, and account status with charts and graphics. The application will also show cash versus debt, investment performance, and categorized spending… [T]he relationship … benefits both companies. As of now, Mint’s app isn’t available to any other start page, so Yahoo has something they can offer that Google and Netvibes can’t. Mint, however, can now reach a broader audience with tools that make staying aware of one’s financial well-being all the more convenient.

Yahoo Adds a Number of New Apps and Widgets to Its Sites (Mashable)
Yahoo Mail is getting several new third-party applications, including Picnik, an app that lets you edit and share photos online, and Zumo Drive, which enables you to send files up to 100MB in size. These applications, however, are only available to a limited number of users during the beta period. Yahoo’s personalized portal My Yahoo has also been treated with several new widgets, including personal finance app Mint, a recipe app called What’s Cookin’ Food & Wine Pairing, as well as environmentally-friendly app Mokugift.

Owners of internet enabled TVs from Samsung and LG Electronics which support Yahoo TV widgets have several new widgets at their disposal, including YouTube and Showtime, and an eBay widget is in the works. Finally, Zimbra users will be glad to see several new Zimlets in their library.

Get the Tech Scuttlebutt! (It Might Even Be True.)
Scuttlebutt and rumor are the stock in trade of many blogs covering technology, as they compete with one another and the mainstream media for readers.

Will Pay Per Tweet Ruin Twitter? (Mashable)
IZEA, the company formerly known as Pay Per Post that pays bloggers to write about products, is moving into the realm of Twitter. According to AdWeek, Izea is planning to launch a program called Sponsored Tweets next month that will work much like its product for bloggers. Sponsored Tweets will “offer Twitter users the option of sending their followers messages about brands and products. Twitterers will get paid based either on the number of clicks they receive or on a flat fee per Tweet.”

Super Chirp: Making It Simple For People To Get Paid For Their Tweets (Paid Content)
The product of tech and software startup 83 Degrees, Super Chirp lets people set up PayPal-based subscriptions to their Twitter accounts. Celebrities, publishers and even ordinary Joes set a price between $0.99 and $9.99 per month, and 83 Degrees takes a 30 percent cut, according to TechCrunch. Subscribers get exclusive direct messages, which they can also sort through and view on the Super Chirp site—making it simple for someone to maintain subscriptions to multiple accounts. 

Twitter to Launch Verified Accounts (Mashable)
It looks like a lawsuit was the final push Twitter needed to announce a verification program to thwart celebrity impersonators on Twitter.

Computex Attendance Falls but Android Dazzles
The Computex Taipei 2009 electronics show ended Saturday after a week-long display of new gadgets, including netbooks, ultra thin laptops made with new Intel chips and several surprises surrounding Google’s Android mobile phone operating system.

Multi-touch Tablets Could Challenge Success of Netbooks (by Will Sullivan at Poynter Online)
The 18 mm thick CrunchPad features a touch screen and looks about the size of 8.5×11 piece of paper from the promotional video. Everything is touch-based, and it seems very Web-focused in that it boots straight to a browser. It will likely cost somewhere in the $200-300 range and feature a Linux-based operating system. Rumors have been swirling around another tablet contender, Apple Computers, launching a multi-touch tablet similar to the iPod Touch but bigger in size and price. The latest buzz is that these tablets, rumored to be called the “iPod Touch HD,” will be released later this year.

These new, lower cost tools present another exciting opportunity for media organizations to connect with readers, especially those who can’t afford top-of-the line gear. Besides distributing content, these new smaller, wired tools could also help journalists file faster and more regularly from the field.

Media & Politics

Permanent link to MTA daily media news

Special Report asks of Obama: “Islam or Isn’t He?” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

The Weekly Standard and its Arabic freak-out (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
If we’ve confirmed anything this week about the GOP Noise Machine it’s that its members’ heads pretty much explode at the mere mention of Islam or Muslims in the context of the Obama president… The sheer xenophobia though, and the blatant disdain for all things Islamic and Arabic, doesn’t get much more transparent that [a] kooky blog post at the Weekly Standard in response to Obama’s two-syllable response to the king of Saudi Arabia: “Shukrun,” which is Arabic for thank you… [A]t the Arab-hating Weekly Standard that set off all kinds of alarms bells.

Liz Cheney: Obama Wants To Hold Hands With Terrorists (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
That’s not really an exaggeration! On an appearance on MSNBC, Liz Cheney appeared to say that Obama’s speech in Cairo today showed that he wants to deal with terrorists by “hand-holding.”
Click through to watch the video.

Pagliarulo: Obama should do what Reagan would have, tell moderate Muslims “screw you,” love us or “live in your cave” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Limbaugh on Obama speech: “This is a call for the end of sovereignty” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Hannity airs Obama “apology tour” montage (County Fair, Media Matters for America)

ABC News thinks Sean Hannity’s anti-Obama screeds = news (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
We noted earlier that the news crew at ABC dashed to post a bulletin about how right-wing talker Sean Hannity hated Obama’s Muslim speech [Thursday]. Because at ABC, Hannity’s important and insightful. A couple hours later here’s how the Note summed up the reaction to Obama’s speech: “…‘This is an extension of what has become an apology tour, that America is an arrogant country,” Hannity said… The instant reaction from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, per ABC’s Jake Tapper: It was a ‘wonderful speech,’ she said.”

At ABC News, Sean Hannity’s reaction to a foreign policy speech is on par with the reaction of the United States’ Secretary of State. Behold your liberal media at work.

How Fox News Defies Ratings Gravity (by Jeff Bercovici at AOL Daily Finance)
In the just-ended May ratings period, Fox once again manhandled the competition, posting big gains in both primetime and full-day while MSNBC stumbled and CNN plunged headlong… It’s tempting to ascribe Fox’s surge to the change in administration. There’s something to this. Political media outlets, whether print, web or broadcast, tend to flourish in opposition. Certainly that was the case with MSNBC, which rode the crests of Obamamania to new highs last fall, only to settle to earth once campaigning gave way to governing. Even the network’s powerhouse, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, was down in May (a 20 percent drop among viewers 25-54), the first time that’s happened in almost three years.

But Fox has never fit comfortably into this mold. When George Bush took office, analysts and competitors predicted Fox would fizzle without Bill Clinton to beat up on. Instead, it merely opened up an ever-growing lead on CNN. Just a few months ago, the chin-strokers were thinking that maybe it was actually Bush and his War on Terror that had been propping up Fox and that the dawn of the Obama era would prove Fox’s undoing. That’s clearly not happening.
What Fox News gives its audience is a worldview that it reinforces every single day, many times a day. How else could almost 30% of the population still have believed, when he left office, that George Bush did anything worthwhile as president?

What so-called progressives like those on MSNBC have tried to do is mimic the us-vs.-them mentality that Fox News uses so successfully. But I don’t believe that reinforcing tribal hatred and propensity for exclusion is the way to build a more progressive, more tolerant, dare I say more moral society. But Obama’s kind of moralizing isn’t the way to do it, either.

Too bad we have so few voices explaining, convincing, teaching. Too bad so many people have bought in to the smartass model of social interaction that they don’t think teaching and being taught, convincing and being convinced, is worthwhile. Too bad for our social structures. Too bad for all of us.

Obama invites world’s Muslims to seek ‘new beginning’ (McClatchy)
Seeking “a new beginning” with an estimated 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, President Barack Obama on Thursday spoke more bluntly than any U.S. president before him about the chasms dividing the Middle East and the political double talk behind them. In a 55-minute address from Cairo University, Obama called Israel’s settlements in the predominantly Palestinian West Bank illegitimate and said they must stop. He chastised Arabs for crude caricatures of
America and conspiracy theories about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He also acknowledged that the United States sometimes “acted contrary to our ideals” in its initial response to 9-11.

Asserting that many Muslims privately recognize that Israel won’t go away and that many Israelis acknowledge the need for a Palestinian state, he called for peace. “It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true,” he said.

Using New Language, President Shows Understanding for Both Sides in Middle East (Washington Post)
There was no mention of “terrorists” or “terrorism,” just “violent extremists.” There was the suggestion that Israeli settlements are illegitimate and the assertion that the Palestinians “have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” There were frequent references to the “Holy Koran” and echoes of Muslim phrases…

In discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict, Obama was both resolute in expressing support for Israel and remarkably sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians. In an Arab capital, he spoke of America’s “unbreakable” bond with Israel and condemned anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, an apparent repudiation of the anti-Israeli rhetoric that periodically emanates from Iran. Yet he also seemed to draw an equivalence between Jewish and Palestinian suffering, noting “the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation.”
And as we all know, how you use language is vastly more important than what you actually, you know, DO.

Speech Therapy: Pretty Words in Cairo Hide Brutal Realities of Power (by Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque)
During the speech, we heard many nicely-turned phrases and heartfelt pieties from President Obama as he sought to “correct the misunderstandings” that Muslims have about America and its benevolent policies around the world. But what speaks far more loudly to the reality of those policies is a small story already being shunted aside by the tsunami of gushing press devoted to the empty flapping of presidential jaws in Cairo – the suicide of a Yemeni man held captive, without charges, in the Guantanamo concentration camp since 2002…

It would of course be superfluous in us to point out that the progressive president who [was] in Cairo telling Muslims how they misunderstand American values is himself a staunch supporter of “indefinite detention” and “preventive detention” and is seeking ways to entrench these unconstitutional (not to mention immoral) concepts into a formalized imperial law. But we would certainly not want the Muslim world to misunderstand America’s abiding commitment to justice, freedom, liberty and peace. We are sure the president made it all crystal clear in this “major speech” from the heart of a brutal, repressive, American-funded regime.

Pious hope (and no change) (by Michael J. Smith at Stop Me Before I Vote Again)
On Obie’s one hand, the Israelis. On his other, the Palestinians. Obie weighs, Obie judges, Obie sits on the throne and apportions the deservedness and destiny of nations. So let it be written! So let it be done! There would be a certain Cecil B DeMille grandeur in it if he could assume a Pharaonic manner, but the closest he can get is Pharisaical — the I-mean-business furrowed brow, the moralizing scowl, the hollow sepulchral voice of a Methodist parson with a secret vice. The qualities that his admirers admired him for — intelligence, moral seriousness, high purpose, the whole Eagle Scout package — curdle, it seems, once mixed with actual power, into a filthy foetid smarmy preacherly pustular effluvium worthy of Woodrow Wilson himself.

Let Women Wear the Hijab: The Emptiness of Obama’s Cairo Speech (by Peter Daou, political consultant, former Internet Adviser to Hillary Clinton)
“The
U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it… That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.”

Is that a joke? With women being stoned, raped, abused, battered, mutilated, and slaughtered on a daily basis across the globe, violence that is so often perpetrated in the name of religion, the most our president can speak about is protecting their right to wear the hijab? I would have been much more heartened if the preponderance of the speech had been about how in the 21st century, we CANNOT tolerate the pervasive abuse of our mothers and sisters and daughters. Enough with the perpetual campaign. True justice, true peace, these are earned through courageous decisions and bold actions. Real truth to power.

The Arab World Reacts (by Salameh Nematt at the Daily Beast)
Reaction to Obama’s
Cairo speech ranged from angry comparisons to Bush, praise for his balanced approach—and accusations that he’s an apostate. The Daily Beast’s Salameh Nematt translates today’s headlines from across the Arab world.

The multimedia presidency:
White House Touts Muslims In Government With Video
(by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
As part of broader effort to recast Muslim-American relations, the Obama White House released a new video on Wednesday night highlighting the work of Muslim-Americans in federal government.

Obama admits US involvement in 1953 Iran coup (AFP)
US President Barack Obama made a major gesture of conciliation to Iran on Thursday when he admitted US involvement in the 1953 coup which overthrew the government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. “In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government,” Obama said in a keynote speech to the Muslim world in Cairo. It was the first time a serving US president had publicly admitted American involvement in the coup.

Obama calls for new effort for 2-state solution (AP)
Prodding the international community, President Barack Obama called Friday “for all of us to redouble our efforts” toward separate Israeli and Palestinian states. “The moment is now for us to act,” he declared.

Some Congressional Democrats Are Undermining Obama’s Israel-Palestine Policy (Think Progress)
Politico reports this week that support for Obama’s message on Israel-Palestine among Democrats in Congress is starting to wane. “My concern is that we are applying pressure to the wrong party in this dispute,” said Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV). Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) complained, “I would have liked to hear the president talk more about the Palestinian obligation to cut down on terrorism.” [Thursday], the L.A. Times reports more dissent from congressional Democrats:

Write-Your-Own Obama Speech (by Benjamin Sarlin at the Daily Beast)
How does Obama keep up his hot streak of speeches? The Daily Beast analyzed his most famous speeches to crack the code behind the president’s rhetoric. Our step-by-step guide for turning even the most divisive debates into an inspiring call for unity.

A year later, Hillary wins (Politico)
A year ago today, the final set of primaries made official the foregone conclusion that Barack Obama had won the primary, and Hillary Clinton lost it. There’s far too much going on today to dwell on an anniversary, but it does seem worth noting one particular piece of news in its light: On the central health care policy debate of the Democratic Primary — which was, to be fair, conducted within a fairly narrow frame — Obama appears to have conceded today to a Senate plan likely to more closely resemble Clinton’s.

Obama lays out health overhaul (Boston Globe)
Laying out in the clearest terms yet what he wants in a healthcare overhaul, President Obama told Congress [Wednesday] that he strongly believes Americans should have the choice of a new public health insurance plan that would compete against private insurers. Obama said he is also “open” to requiring individuals to obtain insurance coverage – which he opposed during his campaign – as long as there is a hardship exemption for those who cannot afford it, an approach similar to the system in
Massachusetts. He said he supports forcing employers to contribute to their employees’ insurance but that there should be exemptions for small businesses.

Keeping Them Honest (by Paul Krugman)
A few days ago, major players in the health industry laid out what they intend to do to slow the growth in health care costs. Topping the list of AHIP’s proposals was “administrative simplification.” Providers, the lobby conceded, face “administrative challenges” because of the fact that each insurer has its own distinct telephone numbers, fax numbers, codes, claim forms and administrative procedures. “Standardizing administrative transactions,” AHIP asserted, “will be a watershed event.” Think about it. The insurance industry’s idea of a cutting-edge, cost-saving reform is to do what William Kristol — William Kristol! — thought it should have done 15 years ago.

How could the industry spend 15 years failing to make even the most obvious reforms? The answer is simple: Americans seeking health coverage had nowhere else to go… Without an effective public option, the Obama health care reform will be simply a national version of the health care reform in Massachusetts: a system that is a lot better than nothing but has done little to address the fundamental problem of a fragmented system, and as a result has done little to control rising health care costs. Right now the health insurers are promising to deliver major cost savings. But history shows that such promises can’t be trusted. As President Obama said in his letter [to Congress], we need a serious, real public option to keep the insurance companies honest.

Bankruptcies Due to Healthcare Costs up to 60% (by Ian Welsh)
And even more damningly, 75% of those had health insurance. This is up from 50% of bankruptcies just a few years ago. Meanwhile, in
Washington, Single Payor healthcare, which would end this, is “off the table” and a public insurance “option” is under attack, and even if it gets into the final plan, will probably be so crippled by restrictions that it is no better than private insurance… Health insurance costs are crippling America.  GM and Chrysler probably wouldn’t have gone bankrupt if there had been single payor universal healthcare, for example…

If the goal was to make a system which worked, the US would simply either copy a system which does work (Germany’s or France’s, say) or it would just extend Medicare to everyone, and allow private insurers to do top-up insurance.  Oh, and it would allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies, and to choose its own formulary. Instead, what will happen, is a program which amounts to a massive forced subsidy of the private insurance industry. None of this should be a surprise.  Obama never promised anything better during the campaign, and since he has a record of not even living up to his campaign promises, why would you expect this to be any better?

Liberal Rapture

Reporters With Pom-Poms (by Dean Baker)
Last week we got a whole series of bad reports on the state of the economy… These reports might have led to gloomy news stories, but not in the U.S. media. The folks who could not see an $8 trillion housing bubble are still determined to find the silver lining in even the worst economic news… The media have obviously abandoned economic reporting and instead have adopted the role of cheerleader, touting whatever good news it can find and inventing good news when none can be found. This leaves the responsibility of reporting on the economy to others.

Any serious examination of the data shows that recovery is nowhere in sight. The basic story of the downturn is painfully simple. We have seen a collapse of a housing bubble which has devastated the construction sector and also caused consumption to plunge.

Employment Report: 345K Jobs Lost, 9.4% Unemployment Rate (Calculated Risk)
From the BLS: “Nonfarm payroll employment fell by 345,000 in May, about half the average monthly decline for the prior 6 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. The unemployment rate continued to rise, increasing from 8.9 to 9.4 percent. Steep job losses continued in manufacturing, while declines moderated in construction and several service-providing industries.”

US consumer confidence falls in latest week-ABC (Reuters)
ABC News said on Tuesday its weekly index on U.S. consumer confidence, after reaching a seven-month high in early May, fell in the latest week. The Consumer Comfort Index dropped to -49 from -47 the prior week.

US retailers report May sales declines (AP)
Although consumer confidence may be increasing, it’s not showing up at the cash register yet. Many retailers posted disappointing May sales on Thursday, and food and necessities remained high on shoppers’ lists. According a Goldman Sachs/ICSC tally, overall same-store sales fell 4.6 percent, worse than the 3 percent drop predicted.

U.S. recovery hopes face doubts on jobs, mortgages (Reuters)
The United States may have hit a bump on the road to economic recovery, according to data released on Wednesday, with half a million private sector jobs lost in May and mortgage applications falling last week in the face of rising interest rates… One ray of hope, though, came from a report showing planned layoffs at U.S. firms fell for a fourth consecutive month in May, reaching the lowest level in eight months, suggesting the pace of future job cuts could slow. But other data showed the service sector, which accounts for about 80 percent of economic activity, contracted for the eighth straight month in May, even though the rate of deterioration slowed.

Bernanke Warns Deficits Threaten Financial Stability (Bloomberg)
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said large U.S. budget deficits threaten financial stability and the government can’t continue indefinitely to borrow at the current rate to finance the shortfall… Bernanke’s comments signal that the central bank sees risks of a relapse into financial turmoil even as credit markets show signs of stability. He said the Fed won’t finance government spending over the long term, while warning that the financial industry remains under stress and the credit crunch continues to limit spending.

Rising Interest on Nations’ Debts May Sap World Growth (New York Times)
As governments worldwide try to spend their way out of recession, many countries are finding themselves in the same situation as embattled consumers: paying higher interest rates on their rapidly expanding debt. Increased rates could translate into hundreds of billions of dollars more in government spending for countries like the United States, Britain and Germany… “It will be more expensive for everybody,” said Olivier J. Blanchard, chief economist of the International Monetary Fund in Washington. “As government borrowing in the world increases, interest rates will go up. We’re already starting to see it.”

Women-led firms coping better with recession (McClatchy)
A survey released Thursday shows women-led businesses are surviving the recession better than most other businesses, according to
Florida International University’s Center for Leadership and The Commonwealth Institute South Florida.

Suicide rates show more Colorado farmers losing hope (Denver Post)
In Colorado, the number of suicides among farmers and ranchers has risen in the past five years: Fourteen took their lives in 2008, twice the number reported by the state’s coroners in 2004. “The increase in calls really started with the change in dairy prices, as they fell last fall,” said Mike Rosmann, a clinical psychologist and farmer who heads the Iowa-based Sowing the Seeds of Hope help line serving farmers in seven Midwestern states. “We’re starting to see the stress mount. It’s a nationwide problem.” In the past year, economics and inclement weather have crippled operations, pushing countless farmers to the emotional breaking point, say industry experts.

Press may have to adjust its anti-union rhetoric in light of Toyota’s dismal sales (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
The Japanese car company’s sales in America fell 40 percent in May. The reason I highlight the showroom collapse is not to slight Toyota, but because I couldn’t help thinking back to the end of last year when the media debate about bailing out Detroit’s Big Three was raging, especially on cable TV, and hearing time and time again from experts about how the American car companies had been crippled by greedy unions (whose workers made $70 an hour!), and that if the Big Three were more like Toyota they wouldn’t need a bailout. Did I mention sales at Toyota, which has no labor unions, cratered 40 percent last month?

Angelo Mozilo, mortgage risk-taker charged with fraud (Reuters)
In two years, Angelo Mozilo, the son of a Bronx butcher and a rags-to-riches icon, went from the charismatic helmsman of America’s top mortgage lender to the badly burned face of the nation’s housing meltdown… On Thursday, securities regulators filed charges accusing the 70-year-old Mozilo of insider trading and securities fraud.

Financial regulator seeks powers to curb excess speculation (McClatchy)
Firing the opening shot in a likely battle with Wall Street, the federal regulator who’s overseeing the trading of oil contracts asked Congress on Thursday for broad powers to regulate the exotic private contracts that are thought to contribute to rising oil prices and the global financial crisis.

Obama Ordering States to Close 5,000 ‘Failing’ Schools!… Chicago Lies Go National (by George Schmidt at the Black Agenda Report)
The corporate narrative that public schools in minority neighborhoods are “failing” and must be replaced by unaccountable but often highly profitable “charter schools” is an inheritance from the Bush era that the Obama administration intends to continue and intensify.  Despite any proof of improved educational outcomes, and contrary to the democratic wishes of the American people the push to discredit and privatize public education appears to be a hallmark of the Obama era.

The Power of Robert Gibbs (Political Wire)
Vanity Fair…: “The Obamas may have the smartest, most finely calibrated press operation in White House history, parceling out scoops (The New York Times), partisan talking points (the Huffington Post), and First Family tidbits (the celebrity mags) to a desperate media. Just don’t ask them to admit it.”

Conservatives’ New Sotomayor Opposition Stategy Same As The Old One (Think Progress)
A spokesman for Gingirch told Politico, “nothing has changed in the structure of his argument, he is just retracting the word racist.” Given that the “structure” of Gingrich’s argument is that Sotomayor would allow her race to impact her rulings on the bench, it seems that he wants to paint Sotomayor as a racist — he simply doesn’t want to be held accountable for doing so. And neither, it seems, do Republicans in Congress.

Sotomayor a “racist”? Really? (by Gene Lyons)
“Could a white man get away with saying something comparable about a
Latina?” wrote conservative columnist Kathleen Parker. “Of course not. After Latinas have run the world for 2,000 years, they won’t be able to say it ever again either.” Parker’s a pragmatist who sees things from the perspective of the elected wing of the Republican Party. Conservatives like her understand that portraying Sotomayor as a racist hothead is a long-term losing strategy. Hispanics vote.

The GOP’s entertainment wing has a different agenda. For Coulter and Limbaugh, there’s money to be made playing to the right-wing id — stoking the fears of a minority to sell books and stimulate ratings. Increasingly, moreover, TV news networks and “mainstream” newspapers behave as if they think presenting news as melodrama is in their interest, too: the main reason Sotomayor’s inoffensive truisms were presented as incendiary.

Crackpots calling the kettle black (by Joe Conason)
Some race-baiting lowlights from the careers of Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan, two of the pundits who’ve labeled Sonia Sotomayor racist

Freedom Rider: The Sotomayor Hype (by Margaret Kimberley at the Black Agenda Report)
Blacks and progressives should prefer a “wise
Latina” to the usual Supreme Court fare, any day. “The white male perspective has ruled unchallenged for centuries and has done great damage to human beings around the world.” However, just because Sonia Sotomayor is under attack from raging racists, doesn’t mean she should get a free pass from the Left. “Sotomayor should not be allowed to escape scrutiny because of race pride and meaningless swooning from white liberals.”

Sonia Maria Sotomayor — She’s No Clarence Thomas, But No Thurgood Marshall Either (by Bruce A. Dixon at the Black Agenda Report)
What is and what should be the story around the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the high court?  Is the main story a celebration of how humble origins and hard work won out?  Should we spend all our time and energy refuting the racism of Republican talking heads, and none examining her record, and how she arrived at the door of the Supreme Court?  Is this a good time to explore what a just and democratic society must demand from its courts — more nonwhite faces in high places?  More rights for corporations?  Or more justice for people?  And if this isn’t a good time, is that time ever coming?

Sotomayor’s finance disclosures show a judge of modest means (McClatchy)
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor owns a condo valued at $1 million in New York’s Greenwich Village but otherwise is a woman of fairly modest means, a newly filed report shows.

Sotomayor Gets High Approval (Political Wire)
Led by large black, Hispanic and Jewish majorities, American voters approve 55% to 25% percent of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. Said pollster Peter Brown: “So far the Republicans have barely laid a glove on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. There may be disputes within the Beltway about her nomination, but she is still playing well in Peoria.”

DHS nominee faces questions about CIA tactics (AP)
The Obama administration’s pick for a top intelligence post at the Homeland Security Department is expected to face questions from senators about his ties to the CIA’s harsh interrogations of terror suspects. At issue is the extent of Philip Mudd’s involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program while he was a senior official at the agency during the Bush administration. Mudd was nominated to be under secretary of intelligence and analysis at Homeland Security. His confirmation hearing is expected next week.

Anti-Choice Nominee for HHS Post (by Alegre)
Bad idea – even worse timing.  The president is looking to reduce the need for abortion, but his anti-choice nominee has vowed to reduce ACCESS to abortions.  Disturbing doesn’t begin to describe this latest move from the White House – especially given the elevated role of this office now that we have a Democrat in the Oval Office.  One would think that – given his campaign rhetoric – he would do his best to remove barriers to women in accessing whatever legal health care services we care to seek out…

If the White House wanted to rub salt in the wounds of everyone who was shocked and angered by Dr. Tiller’s assassination, he’s just managed to do it with this nomination.  File this one under what was he THINKING?

Rep. Lamar Smith: ‘The greatest threat to America is a liberal media bias.’ (Think Progress)
[Wednesday], Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) launched the Media Fairness Caucus, made up of about a dozen House Republicans, aiming “to fight liberal media bias.” The group will “point out unfair stories, meet with members of the media, and write op-eds and letters to the editor to highlight media bias,” Newsmax reported. Appearing on Fox News…, Smith declared that “liberal media bias” is a bigger threat to the United States than the recession or terrorism.
Click through to watch the video.

GOP Budget Cuts Take Aim At Educational Opportunities For Women, Bike Paths, And Technology Innovation (Think Progress)
[Thursday], House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) sent President Obama a proposal with budget cuts that they claim could save taxpayers “in excess of $375 billion.”… First of all, Boehner and Cantor are inflating their cuts… Second, Republicans are planning to slash more than just “wasteful and unnecessary spending,” as Boehner and Cantor wrote in their letter to Obama.
Click through for a sampling of the proposed cuts.

Intel firestorm: GOP reveals briefing info (The Hill)
Republicans ignited a firestorm of controversy on Thursday by revealing some of what they had been told at a closed-door Intelligence Committee hearing on the interrogation of terrorism suspects. Democrats immediately blasted the GOP lawmakers for publicly discussing classified information, while Republicans said Democrats are trying to hide the truth that enhanced interrogation of detainees is effective… Both [Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)] and [House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas)] accused GOP members of playing politics with national security. “I think they are playing a very dangerous game when it comes to the discussion of matters that were sensitive enough to be part of a closed hearing,” Schakowsky said.

Graham: Approving Torture Techni[q]es That Are ‘Clearly Illegal’ Are ‘Not Criminal Mistakes’ (Think Progress)
This morning on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, a caller asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) why he would not support a possible criminal investigation into the Bush-era torture program. Graham defended the Bush administration by saying they “overreacted” “out of fear,” but insisted that Bush’s “mistakes” were “not criminal mistakes”: “…They took a view of the law that I think was aggressive, and I would not have approached it that way. Right after 9/11, we all thought we were going to be hit again. So as we go back and try to hold people criminally liable. I think we’re doing a lot of damage to the country, because their mistakes were not criminal mistakes. They were mistakes made out of fear.”

But wouldn’t that same argument excuse every police officer who has ever used excessive force, as long as he or she claims it was done out of fear? Of course not. Only the elite get this kind of treatment. Click through to watch the video.

Torture Accountability

Coleman Seen as Likely to Give Up Fight (Political Wire)
Roll Call reports Senate Republicans will defer to Norm Coleman’s (R) decision whether or not to pursue a federal lawsuit if he loses his Senate recount court case to Al Franken (D) in Minnesota. In addition, sources close to Coleman say he “would likely give up his legal battle and accept defeat if the Minnesota Supreme Court decides in Franken’s favor. That’s because Coleman anticipates that Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) would ultimately sign Franken’s certification papers.”

McCarthy Reverses Course, Will Not Run (Political Wire)
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) announced today that she will not challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in a Democratic primary, reports CQ Politics.  Citing personal issues, McCarthy said, “I’m not running.” However, it’s still expected that Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) will challenge Gillibrand.

Beware of Enforcement Agencies, Say Ex-Bush Officials (National Law Journal)
A group of former George W. Bush administration officials gathered at O’Melveny & Myers Wednesday evening to discuss the current enforcement environment… The panelists advised caution with regard to programs enacted to help financial institutions deal with the economic crisis… One message echoed by each panelist was that companies need to be proactive about putting compliance mechanisms in place, so if they do become the target of an investigation, they can at least demonstrate they made a good faith effort to obey the law. “It buys you protection,” said [Latham & Watkins partner Alice] Fisher.
So former Bush administration officials are running a protection racket?

South Carolina Supreme Court orders governor to apply for stimulus money (McClatchy)
The South Carolina Supreme Court has ordered Gov. Mark Sanford to apply for the disputed $700 million in federal stimulus money.

Alaska lawmakers have votes to override Palin’s stimulus veto (McClatchy)
Legislative leaders say they appear to have enough votes to override Gov. Sarah Palin’s veto of $28.6 million in federal stimulus money for energy cost relief. Alaska is the only state to have rejected these funds, and that’s not sitting well.

California contemplates ultimate reform – no welfare (McClatchy)
Could
California become the first state in the nation to do away with welfare? That doomsday scenario is on the table as lawmakers wrestle with a staggering $24.3 billion budget deficit. County welfare directors are “in shock” at the very idea of getting rid of CalWORKs, which has been widely viewed as one of the most successful social programs in the state’s history, said Bruce Wagstaff, director of the Department of Human Assistance in Sacramento. “It’s difficult to come up with the right adjective to react to this,” Wagstaff said. “It would be devastating to the people we serve.”
It’s choice #3—let the poor die in the streets, and step over the bodies.

Poll: Corzine still trailing Christie (On Politics, USA Today)
Yet another poll shows former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie — now the Republican nominee in the
New Jersey governor’s race — handily knocking off Gov. Jon Corzine in the November election. The Rasmussen Reports poll released today shows Christie defeating…

Deeds Surges in Virginia (Political Wire)
A new DailyKos/Research 2000 poll shows the momentum in the
Virginia Democratic gubernatorial race shifting. The race is now a statistical dead heat. Creigh Deeds (D) has jumped into the lead with 30% support, followed by Brian Moran (D) at 27% and Terry McAuliffe (D) at 26%. There are still 17% undecided. Analysis: “Whatever the opposite of ‘momentum’ is, McAuliffe has that.”

KTLA news boss: Anchor-mayor fling poses no conflict (Poynter Online, via the Los Angeles Times)
Jason Ball, news director at Tribune-owned KTLA, says “there is no issue” with anchor Lu Parker (left) dating Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “She is not a political reporter. She doesn’t cover politics generally. The mayor doesn’t work in our newsroom. There will be no conflict.” The news boss says KTLA has no intention of reporting the relationship; he calls it a nonstory.

“Planet Money” host scolded for meltdown during interview with TARP watchdog (Poynter Online)
Adam Davidson … badgered and interrupted TARP watchdog Elizabeth Warren during a “Planet Money” interview last month. NPR ombud Alicia Shepard writes: “It’s important for journalists to treat whomever they are interviewing with respect — and to keep their opinions to themselves. Davidson did neither.” The show host says he was “very, very tired” from traveling on an NPR fundraiser.

AP to Move Series on Natural Remedies (Editor & Publisher)
A four-day series that looks at the claims of natural remedies and alternative medical therapies is set to be launched next week by the Associated Press. A note to editors from Michael Oreskes, AP senior managing editor, declares: “An Associated Press review of dozens of studies and interviews with more than 100 sources found an underground medical system operating in plain sight with a different standard than the rest of medical care, and millions of people using it on blind faith. The journalism is likely to have considerable impact.”
Why do I suspect that the corporatocracy loving AP will find that natural remedies are bad and dangerous and should be kept from the public, and that instead we should be forced to pay high prices for side effect producing pharmaceuticals?

Don’t ever forget  that natural remedies are part of folk wisdom, which must be denigrated by the cognoscenti at every opportunity. Also, herbal remedies have been the province of female practitioners and, as we all know, women don’t and can’t know anything worthwhile or make any contribution to the world except as daughters, wives, and mothers, firmly under the domination of their fathers and husbands.

Media Matters for America headlines

·                                 Hannity crops clip to claim Obama “decided to give 9-11 sympathizers a voice” in Cairo speech

·                                 O’Reilly Factor still smearing Gore, misrepresenting his testimony on profiting from advocacy

·                                 FBN fails to disclose climate-change skeptic’s position in industry-funded organization

·                                 Media again stoke fears that Obama too close to Muslim world

·                                 O’Reilly still falsely claiming he only “reported” groups calling Tiller “the baby killer”

·                                 AP continues to ignore Sessions’ double standard

·                                 McClatchy misrepresents Quinnipiac poll on Ricci case

·                                 MSNBC v. MSNBC: O’Donnell, Buchanan dismiss “apology tour” rhetoric while Matthews set to discuss

·                                 O’Reilly falsely claimed that on CNN “only Anderson Cooper” covered army recruiter’s murder

·                                 Limbaugh again falsely claimed Obama said Court “hasn’t done enough on redistribution”

Japanese software regulator bans rape “games”
A Japanese software industry body has decided to ban computer games in which players simulate sexual violence against females, a spokesman said.

Botnet, spam provider unplugged at FTC’s request
An Internet service provider with links to Eastern Europe has been unplugged after it was suspected of being behind computer intrusions at NASA and sending massive amounts of malicious spam, the Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sues Twitter
St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is suing the social-networking site Twitter, claiming an unauthorized page that used his name to make light of drunken driving and two Cardinals pitchers who died damaged his reputation and caused emotional distress.

Judge: Media have no First Amendment right to be at crime scenes if public barred
A federal judge has dismissed a civil-rights lawsuit filed by Oakland Tribune photographer Ray Chavez, who said officers barred him from taking pictures at a crash scene, then handcuffed him when he persisted. The judge said the media have no First Amendment right to be at an accident or crime scene if the general public is excluded.

Niles: It’s a good time for journalists to reinvent the practice of their craft
“What should be newsworthy? What should be the impact of a news story?” asks Robert Niles. “As old newsrooms shrink, or close, journalists now can address these questions in the context of new opportunities, whether they be self-publishing or working with other journalists in new, online start-ups.”

Journalism, computer science students team up to develop news tools
The Northwestern students’ innovations include:
* a program that creates computer-generated sports stories from box scores and play-by-play;
* a Microsoft Word plug-in that allows reporters to speedily research and fact-check stories as they write them without switching to an Internet search engine;
* an iPhone web application that provides the daily news in five- 10- and 20-minute chunks for news-hungry readers with limited time to read; and
* two Twitter-based applications.
They’ll