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5:30 PM ET, February 19, 2009


 Top Items: 
Ralph Z. Hallow / Washington Times:
Steele: GOP needs ‘hip-hop’ makeover  —  NEWSMAKER INTERVIEW:  —  Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele plans an “off the hook” public relations offensive to attract younger voters, especially blacks and Hispanics, by applying the party's principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.”
Josh Gerstein / The Politico:
Rove testimony hangs in balance  —  A federal appeals court has agreed to give President Barack Obama a little more time—but only a little— to decide whether to support...  one of President Bush's most controversial uses of executive privilege.  —  The new administration had asked …
Discussion: TPMMuckraker
Adam Serwer / American Prospect:
I'M ONLY BEING REAL WHEN I SAY, NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR THEIR GRANDFATHER RAP.  —  Via Steve Benen, Michael Steele, the Republican Party's new black friend, continues the new black friendness in earnest: … Yesterday Gwen Ifill said that the Republican Party wasn't “so caught up with the idea …
RNC chair plans ‘off the hook’ campaign, tells critics to ‘stuff it’  —  (CNN) — Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says his party is going to launch an “off the hook” public relations campaign that will update the GOP's image by translating it to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.”
Karl Rove / Wall Street Journal:
Is the Administration Winging It?  —  Obama's reputation for competence is at risk.
Discussion: Big Brass Blog and Flopping Aces
Spokesman for embattled Sen. Burris resigns  —  (CNN) — A spokesman for Illinois Sen. Roland Burris resigned Thursday in the wake of new disclosures about requests that Burris raise money for disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich while seeking a U.S. Senate appointment.
Discussion: The New Republic and Say Anything
Larry Margasak / Associated Press:
Analysis: Democrats self-destructing over ethics
Bart Jansen / CQ Politics:
Burris' Lobbying Disclosures Don't Add Up
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias:
Greed is Not a Defense  —  I found Ezra Klein's defense of Politico to be pretty weak stuff.  —  Ezra's main point is that coverage that's utterly trivial and that poisons public understanding of crucial issues that effect the lives of billions of people is rewarded by the market …
Discussion: Eschaton
Ezra Klein / American Prospect:
THE PROBLEM OF THE POLITICO.  —  I love Mike Allen's Playbook.  Unabashedly.  I wouldn't even deny that it's “the 4chan of political reporting.”  But it's the best guide to the morning news, and Allen mixes “drive the day” trivia — and there is a lot of that — with a good eye for the substance in stories.
Ben Smith / The Politico:
Budget to kick off health care rewrite  —  At the end of the day last Wednesday, Obama aides and a handful of Senators hashed out the details of a $787 billion spending package in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office.  —  Larry Summers, the architect of the plan, was no longer in the room …
Jane Hamsher / Firedoglake:
Orszag Confirms Road to “Fiscal Responsibility” …
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
Discussion: Firedoglake, Open Left and Unfogged
Radley Balko / Reason:
Manufacturing Guilt?  —  Editor's Note: The following article contains graphic and disturbing photographs and video excerpts of an examination conducted on the body of a 23-month-old girl.  The images are the basis of claims that forensic experts fabricated evidence in a case that put a man on death row …
Byron York /
The RAT hiding deep inside the stimulus bill  —  The far-reaching — and potentially dangerous — provision that no one knows about.  —  You've heard a lot about the astonishing spending in the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, signed into law this week by President Barack Obama.
Sacramento Bee:
Budget plan goes to Schwarzenegger after Legislature's OK  —  The deal is done.  —  The California Legislature voted early today to approve a massive budget package of tax increases, spending cuts and borrowing to close a $40 billion deficit after granting major concessions to one holdout Republican senator.
Jennifer Steinhauer / New York Times:
Budget Clears Legislature in California After Scathing Battle
Discussion: DownWithTyranny! and TalkLeft
Joe Stephens / Washington Post:
Valenti's Sexuality Was Topic For FBI  —  Under Pressure, LBJ Let Hoover's Agents Investigate Top Aide  —  When Beltway insider Jack Valenti died two years ago at age 85, he was playing the role of intermediary between Washington and Hollywood as the theatrical, snowy-haired president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Michael Wolff / Off the Grid:
Chimp Cartoon Makes Murdoch a Chump  —  Well, yes, it would require quite a contortion to find that Rupert Murdoch's New York Post had not compared the first black president to a monkey in an editorial cartoon.  —  Now, it is true that the Post has a certain vernacular involving public figures …
Discussion: protein wisdom and Salon
The Moderate Voice:
Kill “Qwerty”!  (Guest Voice)  —  FOR GOD'S SAKE, THIS IT THE 21ST CENTURY - LET'S GET RID OF “QWERTY”!!  —  by Marc Pascal  —  Why do computers still have keyboards?  They represent a quaint vestige of their predecessor typewriters that were invented 130 years ago.
Ben Evans / Associated Press:
Democrats strike different tone on Katrina  —  Featured Topics: - Barack Obama - Presidential Transition  —  WASHINGTON - The economic stimulus signed by President Barack Obama will spread billions of dollars across the country to spruce up aging roads and bridges.
David Weigel / The Washington Independent:
Alberto Gonzales: I'll Cooperate with Leahy Truth Commission  —  Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared at a forum on Republicans and the Hispanic vote at the Capitol Hill Club this morning, getting a standing ovation from the crowd when he was pointed out by the moderator.
The Politico:
Obama eases Canadian trade worries  —  In his first foreign trip as president, President Barack Obama agreed with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the need to boost trade across the border — even as the two men seemed to part ways on the importance of sending more troops to Afghanistan.
Discussion: The Swamp
Jim Treacher / Mother, May I Sleep with Treacher?:
TOP 10 REASONS PRESIDENT BARACK H. OBAMA IS NOTHING LIKE TRAVIS THE CHIMP  —  10. Travis understood TurboTax  —  9. Obama somewhat less likely to attack Biden  —  8. Travis never lied  —  7. Obama's smile not quite as genuine  —  6. Travis could get through entire day without teleprompter
Michelle Malkin:
Gimme, gimme, gimme: More scenes from the anti-Obama entitlement backlash  —  So, a CNBC host is calling for a new “tea party” to protest Barack Obama's out-of-control spendulus/entitlement culture?  We've been doing it all week.  Seattle, Denver, Mesa.  Kansas this weekend.  And more outbreaks to come.
Natasha Korecki / Chicago Sun Times:
Patti targeted by feds' subpoena  —  Federal authorities have hit former first lady Patti Blagojevich with a federal subpoena dealing with recent charges lodged against her husband, raising new questions over whether she will become part of a grand jury indictment expected by early April.
Martina Stewart / CNN:
Republican wants White House e-mail plan  —  WASHINGTON (CNN) - A California Republican congressman has called on President Obama to put in place a system that ensures all White House emails be preserved even if official business was done through private e- mail accounts.
Discussion: Washington Monthly
Carol E. Lee / The Politico:
Biden outlines dangers at Panetta oath  —  At a swearing-in ceremony for CIA Director Leon Panetta, Vice President Joe Biden outlined the dangers facing the United States and emphasized the government's need for intelligence that represents “unvarnished truth.”
Discussion: The Swamp
Marcus Baram / The Huffington Post:
Christopher Hitchens Beat Up By Lebanese Thugs During Street Brawl  —  Huffington Post/  —  UPDATE: Hitchens is still in Beirut and went ahead with a scheduled lecture entitled “Who are the revolutionaries in today's Middle East?” at American University in Beirut on Wednesday night, Huffington Post has learned.
Discussion: Guardian and FP Passport
Ali Frick / Think Progress:
Megyn Kelly: ‘Addressing Racial Ills...Strikes Fear Down The Spines Of Many Conservatives’  —  Speaking to the Justice Department in honor of Black History Month yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder said that “we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”
Erik Wemple / Washington City Paper:
WaPo Working with Roger Black  —  The Washington Post is undergoing a remarkable shrinking act, with some sections folding and others taking on more complicated identities.  Making it all happen will require some tweaks to the paper's design.  The paper's Web site, …
Amanda Terkel / Think Progress:
Rep. Cao Faces Potential Recall Petition For Toeing GOP Line And Voting Against The Stimulus  —  Earlier this month, New Orleans's new congressman Joseph Cao (R) stated that he would vote for the economic recovery package.  “I believe that more likely than not, I will vote …
Jeremy Page / Times of London:
Google Earth reveals secret history of US base in Pakistan  —  The US was secretly flying unmanned drones from the Shamsi airbase in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan as early as 2006, according to an image of the base from Google Earth.  —  The image — that is no longer …
Andrew Sullivan / The Daily Dish:
The Beast With Red Cheeks … So does Ross: … But what if, in fact, there is no actual “choice” to destigmatize?  What if the cruelty of some social norms - such as the way in which illegitimate children were once treated - leads to a gradual and irreversible social change?
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 More Items: 
Megan McArdle:
Do you mind if I rant a minute?
Discussion: Dean's World
Chris Cillizza / The Fix:
A Fix Note: Of Baby Fix and the Future
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias:
The Government Makes the Stuff We Need
Discussion: Hullabaloo and Megan McArdle
Eugene Volokh / The Volokh Conspiracy:
“Hate Speech”: From a UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center study …
Nicole Gatz / Daily Nebraskan:
Santorum speech excites crowd
Discussion: Think Progress and PoliBlog
 Earlier Items: 
Charles Mahtesian / The Politico:
GOP governors clash over cash
Discussion: The Swamp and The Moderate Voice
Andrew Sullivan / The Daily Dish:
“Humane Alternatives”
Discussion: Salon
Matt Corley / Think Progress:
Washington Post runs George Will's newest column without issuing …
Discussion: Washington Monthly and TalkLeft
George F. Will / Washington Post:
Drowning by Fire Hose
Discussion: Reason
Howard Kurtz / Washington Post:
How Low Will Newspapers' Ad Revenues Go?
Discussion: The Other McCain