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Add the Kennedy Center in Washington as another area that Katie Couric will have a conflict of interest problem if there's a story there. They've made a musical out of her children's book "The Brand New Kid," a tale of tolerance inspired by the school shootings like Columbine that came out in 2000. The Washington Times adds Valerie Plame was a big fan:



Maureen Dowd plays the false indignation card in her pay-per-view column of today, What’s in a Name, Barry?

The gist: those mean Republicans are trying to tar the rising star of the Democratic party [legally-mandated descriptor] by making malign associations with his moniker. The GOP's latest mischief - letting people know that the middle name of the junior senator from Illinois is "Hussein."



A November 30, 2006, article by Los Angeles Times staff writer Seema Mehta is entitled, "Evangelical pastor, Obama join forces to battle AIDS." In an unflattering passage on evangelicals, Mehta forwards the claim, "They [evangelical Christians] remain one of the religious groups slowest to respond to the pandemic [AIDS]."



In a Friday night story on criticism of Pastor Rick Warren, for inviting Democratic Senator Barack Obama to the evangelist's annual “Global Summit on AIDS and the Church” held at the Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, ABC's Jake Tapper relayed how “many conservative Christian leaders...were furious with Warren for inviting Obama. Why? Because the Senator supports abortion rights.” But on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, though anchored by Brian Wilson, reporter Anita Vogel added an extremist label: "Evangelist Rick Warren, famous for his best-seller A Purpose Driven Life, has taken a lot of heat from Christian conservatives and the far right for even inviting Obama to this conference because of the Democratic Senator's support for abortion rights. Pastor Warren says that kind of thinking won't solve anything."





I'm confused. Doesn't the MSM abhor the mixing of religion and politics? Isn't it quick to invoke the specter of theocracy and decry the crumbling of the [non-existent] "constitutional separation of church and state"? Well, yes, in general. But there is an exception to the MSM rule. Turns out it's OK to mix religion and politics, when it's Dems in general - and Barack Obama in particular - who are making the merger.

On this afternoon's Hardball, guest host David Shuster played a clip of Obama, in church, explictly calling for his Christian religious faith to "guide us to a new and better politics."

Asked Shuster of CNBC chief political correspondent John Harwood: "Your reaction - mixing religion and politics in that way?"

Harwood: "It's smart. Democrats need to do more of that."



NOTE: Skip to the last paragraph to get the media bias-related conclusion/speculation.

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The Institute for Supply Management's November report tells us that manufacturing's winning streak is over:

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector failed to grow in November for the first time following 41 consecutive months of growth, while the overall economy grew for the 61st consecutive month, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.

As I have noted periodically (here, here, and here, among others), the 41-month expansion streak we were in the midst of is one of the longest ever, and enters the record books with other expansions as follows (link is to ISM history going all the way back to 1948; parenthetical values are for the month following the end of each streak, the lowest value it went to during the subsequent contraction, and the number of months it took for the value to get back to 50.0 or higher):

-- October 1962 - December 1966: 51 months (49.1, 42.8, 8)
-- August 1975 - July 1979: 48 months (49.5, 44.8, 7)
-- February 1971 - August 1974: 43 months (46.2, 30.7, 12)
-- June 2003 - October 2006: 41 months (49.5, NA, NA)
-- August 1986 - April 1989: 33 months (49.3, 45.1, 12)



For the second time in two days, a CNN anchor asked Jimmy Carter to rank President Bush’s Iraq invasion on the scale of historical mistakes. Both segments minimized or ignored the serious errors that Carter himself made as Commander in Chief, such as his failed attempt at rescuing the Iranian hostages. And both mentioned his peace making efforts.



CENTCOM is one of the five geographically-defined unified commands within the Department of Defense. With responsibility for 27 countries including Iraq, CENTCOM is commanded by Gen. John Abizaid.



Actual caption:



Ever wonder what makes Keith Olbermann such a fine journalist? Well, according to the former sportscaster, it’s the fact that he doesn’t "make the facts up" like Rush Limbaugh does.

PBS host Jim Lehrer trumpeted his objectivity in a more creative way. Using a food analogy, the anchor deemed himself the "flavor of neutrality." (Just a thought, but where do the liberal flavors originate? Ben and Jerry's?)

Perhaps longing for the "good old days," NBC News chose no less an authoritative source than Matt Lauer to announce that the situation in Iraq is a civil war. Maybe NBC is attempting to recreate the famous "Cronkite moment"?

Interestingly, this same network that is so eager to declare a civil war, has, at times, been hesitant to label Hezbollah a terrorist group.



Starters: Air marshalls decry charges from imams that they were unduly detained based on racial animus. If people become "afraid of reporting suspicious individuals out of fear of being labeled a racist or bigot, then terrorists will certainly use those fears to their advantage in future aviation attacks."



It was surprising to learn from Byron York how little The New York Times and The Washington Post reported on Nancy Pelosi’s struggle over whether to appoint 14-year Representative (and impeached federal judge) Alcee Hastings to lead the House Intelligence Committee. It might be a little less surprising to report that a look at morning and evening shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC found the networks have so far skipped that House fight as well, with the exception of ABC’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."



Non-Californians probably haven't heard much about the case of a former Los Angeles firefighter Tennie Pierce's lawsuit against the city over an incident in which a colleague tricked him into eating dog food. According to Pierce, who is black, it was a racist act for which he is demanding compensation of $2.7 million.

That, however, isn't the full story. But if you're a reader of the Los Angeles Times, you'd never know it, despite the fact that the paper has covered the case with numerous reports.



'Evening News' story shorts personal responsibility and cost arguments.