Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Architect of t.v. political news coverage dies at 85

Those political junkies out there who still follow the convention coverage might be interested in the passing of Reuven Frank. Frank was one of the original NBC News producers. Under his watch the Hunley-Brinkley Report thrived and the networks started blanket coverage of the presidential conventions (this is back when the parties would actually select their nominee at the convention, rather than laud them as they do now).

The obit is an interesting look at t.v. news history as well.

A good passage:
"Our men are already on the job from coast to coast," Mr. Frank said in a news release issued by NBC on June 8, 1960, a month before the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. "They'll arrive at the conventions with their own assigned delegations or personalities. And when the conventions get under way, our men will belong to and be an integral part of their assignments."

He added, "It's a kind of aboveboard and perfectly ethical journalistic 'espionage,' if you will."

- Murphy

Truthiness beats newsiness?

Via Romanesko:
Do fake anchors grill newsmakers better than real journos?

Howard Kurtz: No, you've got plenty of company. Of course, these shows have the freedom to make stuff up, be insulting, put fake reporters in front of green screens and pretend they're in Iraq, etc. But they certainly do a great job of nailing hypocrisy in ways that much of the MSM doesn't even attempt.

- Murphy

Monday, February 06, 2006

If Clinton did it, it must be legal

The Republicans love to cite Clinton precedent.

The warrantless searches done by the Clinton administration that Sen. Orrin Hartch pointed to were committed before the FISA statutes were amended to prevent exactly the searches the Clinton administration took.

Sen. Feinstein just called him on it.

- Murphy

Think they don't know?

McClellan, the President's spokesman, and others have argued that they did not seek legislative changes to the FISA law to allow their type of warrantless searches because it would "open their playbook" to al Queda.

He then went on to cite al Queda's sophistication and ability to adapt. Given that Bin Laden and the entire network has relied upon non-technological methods of communication (coded messages sent with couriers, face-to-face meetings) since before
9/11, it would suggest that the terrorist network is quite aware of the dangers of using electronic communications.

Any group that is presumed to have the expertise to obtain and implement a suitcase nuclear weapon would have the tech savvy to know better than to focus on electronic communications.

Any Islamist who forgets that is likely to learn the lesson the Chechen rebel leader Dudayev learned in 1996, 10 years ago, when the Russians homed in on his satellite phone and took him out with a missile. The Chechen rebels are also in contact with the larger network of Islamist extremists.

- Murphy

Presidential Powers

The L.A. Times has an excellent piece describing the presidential powers under question during the Senate committee hearings.

At its core, the Administration argues that based upon a brief piece of legislation authorizing the President to go after Al Queda, the President has nearly unlimited powers as long as they can be construed as at least tangential to to his pursuit of terrorists.

During the hearings, Gonzalez cited the Hamdi case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the administration had the power to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens based upon the Use of Force authorization. He argued that the surveillance measures would be viewed similarly because they are "less intrusive."

- Murphy

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Higher wages are good for you, right?

One of the key passages in this illuminating article in the Los Angeles Times article is the one that describes the disconnect between real growth for working people and the mindset of the investor class (certainly a majority of workers in the U.S. are involved in some form of investment by this point, but they don't, as a rule, shift the market. If they did, their good fortune would be reflected in the market.)
The 3.3% annualized wage gain still lags behind the 3.4% yearly inflation rate, economist Bernstein said. And continuing pressures from globalization will subdue wage gains for some workers, he said. Employers in many industries still can shift production to countries with cheaper labor.

"If you are a white-collar worker in an occupation where information can be digitized, there is a good chance you are competing now with workers who are equally skilled but earn a tenth as much as you do," Bernstein said. "Of course that will have an impact."
Now compare that with this selection:
The bottom line: The labor market is tightening, which means more bargaining power and stronger wage growth for workers. Their earnings have failed to keep up with inflation during a five-year economic recovery marked by rising energy costs and growing competition with low-wage countries such as China and India.

But the prospect of better rank-and-file pay and lower joblessness spooked some investors Friday because it threatened to reignite inflation and limit corporate profit growth.

Investors fear that inflation pressures could force the Federal Reserve and its new chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, to boost interest rates more than hoped for. That, along with weakened profit growth, could halt what has been a promising 2006 stock market rally.
Real wage improvements for a majority of the population is looked upon with trepidation by the market? I've taken a few econ classes, I understand the reasoning from the investment angle, yet rarely is the gap illustrated so clearly. At the very least, the market should look at the increased purchasing power wage gains can represent.

A robust stock market does benefit everyone, yet a country made up of workers who are seeing their purchasing power steadily decline while their jobs go overseas doesn't sound like a recipe for a strong economy.

Focusing on corporate revenue and stock prices only tells you so much. If consumers are no longer able or willing to purchase your product, all the corporate restructuring and foreign borrowing will amount to nothing.

The market hasn't even seen the real shock. The energy crisis has been somewhat mollified due to a mild winter. What happens if we see weeks of serious cold? The reappearance of energy bills in the hundreds of dollars will put a serious dent in the economy. It will translate to higher revenue for energy companies, thereby guaranteeing a stock boost, but what will the real long-term effect be on the economy. No one seems to want to answer that question, especially in times when a state government is willing to allow gas companies to penalize its customers for installing energy-saving equipment in their homes.

- Murphy