Guess Who Leads the Bribery World?
The USA is the most corrupt country in the world and I have 10,000 posts that point heavily to that fact…

How Fox News is helping Barack Obama’s re-election bid | Jonathan Freedland December 14, 2011

Whoever wrote the political rulebook needs to start rewriting it. It used to be an iron maxim that voters’ most vital organ was neither their head nor their heart, but their wallet. If they were suffering economically, they’d throw the incumbents out. Yet in Britain a coalition presiding over barely-there growth, rising unemployment and forecasts of gloom stretching to the horizon is holding steady in the opinion polls, while in the US Barack Obama is mired in horrible numbers – except for the ones showing him beating all-comers in the election now less than 11 months away. Even though the US economy is slumped in the doldrums, some of the country’s shrewdest commentators make a serious case that Obama could be heading for a landslide victory in 2012.

How to explain such a turnaround? In the United States, at least, there is one compellingly simple, two-word answer: Fox News.

By any normal standards, Obama should be extremely vulnerable. Not only is the economy in bad shape, he has proved to be a much more hesitant, less commanding White House presence than his supporters longed for. And yet, most surveys put him comfortably ahead of his would-be rivals. That’s not a positive judgment on the president – whose approval rating stands at a meagre 44% – but an indictment of the dire quality of a Republican field almost comically packed with the scandal-plagued, gaffe-prone and downright flaky. And the finger of blame for this state of affairs points squarely at the studios of Fox News.

It’s not just usual-suspect lefties and professional Murdoch-haters who say it, mischievously exaggerating the cable TV network’s influence. Dick Morris, veteran political operative and Fox regular, noted the phenomenon himself the other day while sitting on the Fox sofa. “This is a phenomenon of this year’s election,” he said. “You don’t win Iowa in Iowa. You win it on this couch. You win it on Fox News.” In other words, it is Fox – with the largest cable news audience, representing a huge chunk of the Republican base – that is, in effect, picking the party’s nominee to face Obama next November.

This doesn’t work crudely – not that crudely, anyway. Roger Ailes, the Fox boss, does not deliver a newspaper-style endorsement of a single, anointed candidate. Rather, some are put in the sunlight, and others left to moulder in the shade. The Media Matters organisation keeps tabs on what it calls the Fox Primary, measuring by the minute who gets the most airtime. It has charted a striking correlation, with an increase in a candidate’s Fox appearances regularly followed by a surge in the opinion polls. Herman Cain and Rick Perry both benefited from that Fox effect, with Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, the latest: in the days before he broke from the pack, Gingrich topped the Fox airtime chart. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney cannot seem to break through a 20-to-25% ceiling in the polls – hardly surprising considering, as the league table shows, he has never been a Fox favourite.

But it works in a subtler way than the mere degree of exposure. Fox, serving up constant outrage and fury, favours bluster over policy coherence. Its ideal contributor is a motormouth not a wonk, someone who makes good TV rather than good policy. Little wonder it fell for Cain and is swooning now for Gingrich – one of whom has never held elected office while the other messed up when he did, but who can talk and talk – while it has little interest in Romney and even less in Jon Huntsman, even though both have impressive records as state governors. The self-described conservative journalist Andrew Sullivan says that the dominant public figures on the right are no longer serving politicians, but “provocative, polarising media stars” who serve up enough controversy and conflict to keep the ratings high. “In that atmosphere, you need talk-show hosts as president, not governors or legislators.”

Fox News and what Sullivan calls the wider “Media Industrial Complex” have not only determined the style of the viable Republican presidential candidate, but the content too. If one is to flourish rather than wither in the Fox spotlight, there are several articles of faith to which one must subscribe – from refusing to believe in human-made climate change, and insisting that Christians are an embattled minority in the US, persecuted by a liberal, secular, bi-coastal elite, to believing that government regulation is always wrong, and that any attempt to tax the wealthiest people is immoral. Those who deviate are rapidly branded foreign, socialist or otherwise un-American.

Some wonder if it was fear of this ultra-conservative catechism that pushed a series of Republican heavyweights to sit out 2012. “The talent pool got constricted,” says David Frum, the former George W Bush speechwriter who has been boldest in speaking out against the Foxification of his party. Fox sets a series of litmus tests that not every Republican can or wants to pass.

This affects those who run as well as those who step aside, setting the parameters within which a Republican candidate must operate. What troubles Frum is that it pushes Republicans to adopt positions that will make them far less appealing to the national electorate in November, with Romney’s forced march rightward typical. Even if Romney somehow wins the nomination, he won’t be “the pragmatic, problem-solving Mitt Romney” of yore, says Frum, but a new Foxified version. It was this process that led the former speechwriter to declare last year: “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us – and now we’re discovering we work for Fox.”

So far, so bad for the Republicans. Why should anyone else care? Because the Fox insistence on unbending ideological correctness turns every compromise – a necessary staple of governance – into an act of treachery. The Republican refusal, cheered on by a Fox News chorus, to raise the US debt ceiling this summer, thereby prompting the downgrading of America’s credit rating, is only the most vivid example. The larger pattern is one of stubborn, forced gridlock, paralysing the republic even now, at a moment of global economic crisis.

The problem is compounded by a wilful blindness towards the facts. Ari Rabin-Havt of Media Matters says Fox has created a “post-truth politics”, which is happy to ignore and distort basic empirical evidence. To take one example, Fox pundits constantly repeat that “53% of Americans pay all the tax”. In fact, 53% pay all the federal income tax – but many, many more pay so-called payroll taxes. It’s hard for a nation to make the right policy decisions if the public is misled on the basic facts. And misled they certainly are. A series of surveys has proven that Fox viewers are woefully ignorant of current affairs, the latest study revealing that it is actually better to consume no news than to watch Fox: you end up better informed.

The extremism, anger, paranoia and sense of victimhood that Fox incubates are all unhealthy for the United States. But it’s inflicting particular damage on the Republican party, which could well lose a winnable election because of its supine relationship to a TV network. It turns out it is not liberals who should fear the Fox – it’s conservatives.

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Military a Growing Terrorist Target, Lawmakers Warn December 7, 2011

December 7, 2011

by legitgov


Military a Growing Terrorist Target, Lawmakers Warn 06 Dec 2011 There is growing evidence that homegrown terrorists see military personnel and bases as legitimate, high-value targets, lawmakers said ahead of a joint session of the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees on Wednesday. “People in uniform are symbols of the United States. They’re symbols of America power, symbols of America might,” Rep. Peter King of New York, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News. King said there is also evidence that extremists have joined the services.

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Herman Cain: Up like a rocket, down like a stick December 4, 2011

Herman Cain‘s decision to quit the race to be the GOP presidential nominee – don’t be fooled by his talk of “suspension,” in presidential politics you’re either in or you’re out – means Cain will quickly fade into the marginalia of political history, a mere footnote of the 2012 campaign.

Because Cain didn’t even making it to the starting line of the Iowa and New Hampshire votes, the traditional graveyards of presidential careers, he won’t even rank alongside the likes of Pat Buchanan, Steve Forbes or Pat Robertson.

Instead he sits next to those who put their toes in the water and caught pneumonia. Remember Morry Taylor, the blundering businessman of the 1996 Republican race? No? Well, Herman Cain is 2011′s Morry Taylor. (Although Taylor actually ran in some primaries before pulling out.)

Other than a slot on Fox News it’s hard to see how Cain can hold any national attention. His whole campaign appeared to be a book tour that took its inspiration from The Producers, and delivered as a piece of performance art. He had nothing to say other than his ludicrous 9-9-9 tax plan, and even that he patently did not understand. His gaffes were so monumental that they could have launched their own presidential bid. No wonder the Twitter hashtag #cainwreck took off.

According to the most recent polls, what killed off Cain’s chances wasn’t so much the multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, or the 13-year-long affair, as it was his incompetence. He simply couldn’t run a campaign, couldn’t keep control of his tongue or ego, couldn’t do the hard work to grasp weighty matters of policy or background. Bill Clinton could brush off multiple affairs because he didn’t also stutter his way through his responses on foreign policy.

In any other year, Cain’s campaign would never have made it this far. The fact that he got on stage in the major debates, and – future political trivia question – even led some national opinion polls, is a testimony to the weakness of the rest of the 2012 Republican contenders.

In any normal year Cain wouldn’t have made the longlist. But 2012 isn’t a normal year. There are complex multi-strand reasons why the Republicans are struggling to find a solid candidate. That Cain was a frontrunner is a symptom of the unhappy and unusual position the Republicans find themselves.

There was one important outcome from Cain’s decision to run. Here was an African-American running as a serious contender for the Republican nomination. Prior to this year, the conventional wisdom would have been that a black GOP presidential candidate would have received a racial backlash from inside the Republican party, and that race would have been a considerable obstacle to winning the nomination. But there was – so far as I can see – no backlash against Cain, or at least none of any substance. That suggests that the Republican party and its core supporters have taken a huge psychological stride. When some of the party’s new generation of leaders are taken into account – Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez – the lazy charge of racism against the GOP is starting to be outdated.

For a brief moment, when Cain was riding high in the polls, there was the exciting prospect of a black GOP nominee running for the presidency of the United States against a black Democratic nominee. Cain showed that it could be more than just a pipe dream.

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US deficit cut talks ‘difficult’ November 13, 2011

The committee is assessing a number of options dear to both parties

Talks designed to cut the US deficit have reached a “difficult point”, but a deal is still possible, say members of a special super-committee.

With a deadline of 23 November fast approaching, Republican Patrick Toomey told Fox News, “the clock is running out, but it hasn’t run out yet”.

Democrat James Clyburn said he was hopeful a deal could be struck.

The committee has to find $1.5tn (£930bn) in savings over 10 years. But members are split on party lines.

Republicans are reluctant to concede tax rises unless Democrats agree to reduce social entitlements, correspondents say.

President Barack Obama plans to cut the US deficit by more than $3tn (£1.9tn) in the next decade.

His proposals – unveiled in September – include an overhaul of the tax code that would raise $1.5tn.

They also form part of the work of the congressional super-committee, which is not obliged to accept the president’s ideas.

Faced with an election next year, Mr Obama has had a battle in Congress over how to reduce the ballooning deficit while the economy remains stagnant.

Closing gap

“We still have time, but we have no time to waste,” Republican Senator Patrick Toomey said on Fox News on Sunday.

“It’s at a difficult point. I think we’ve got a ways to go, but I hope we can close that gap very quickly,” he said.

House of Representatives Democrat James Clyburn told Fox News: “I am not as certain as I was 10 days ago, but I think that we can.”

The US owes more than $14tn in debt and runs an annual budget deficit of more than $1.4tn.

The bipastisan super-committee was set up in August. Its plan is to be submitted to both houses of Congress for an up-or-down vote by the end of the year.

If the committee fails to issue a recommendation, a series of painful spending cuts will automatically occur, split evenly between defence and domestic programmes dear to Republicans and Democrats, respectively. Those automatic cuts are described as an enforcement mechanism to encourage bipartisan co-operation.

Polling has indicated most Americans see a mix of tax increases on the wealthy accompanied by some spending cuts as the best way to trim the US budget deficit.

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Cain denies sex harassment claims November 1, 2011

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Herman Cain: “I have never sexually harassed anyone… A thorough investigation concluded these claims had no basis”

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has strongly denied allegations of sexual harassment against him dating from the 1990s.

“Never have I committed any sort of sexual harassment,” he told Fox News.

Politico reported that two female employees complained of sexually suggestive behaviour from Mr Cain when he led a restaurant lobby group.

It said the National Restaurant Association paid the women to leave the group and not speak on the allegations.

Mr Cain told Fox News: “I’ve never sexually harassed anyone.”

“And yes, I was falsely accused while I was at the National Restaurant Association, and I say falsely because it turned out after the investigation to be baseless.”

He said he had no idea whether the trade association provided financial settlements to the women who complained.

“If there was a settlement, it was handled by some of the other officers at the restaurant association,” he said.

‘Witch hunt’

The National Restaurant Association said it did not comment on personnel matters.

Mr Cain kept to his campaign schedule on Monday.

He did not discuss the issue when addressing the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC about tax reform.

But later in the day, he told the National Press Club in the city the allegations were “totally false” and a “witch hunt”.

His campaign also denied the reports.

“Let me tell you that Herman Cain has never sexually harassed anybody, period. End of story,” Mr Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, told MSNBC on Monday morning.

Mr Block said top officials at the National Restaurant Association thought Mr Cain was “a man of total integrity”.

A statement on Sunday attacked the story.

“Dredging up thinly sourced allegations stemming from Mr Cain’s tenure as the chief executive officer at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumours that never stood up to the facts,” spokesman JD Gordon said.

The Cain campaign also responded on Twitter. “From Team HC: Sadly we’ve seen this movie played out before. Mr. Cain and all Americans deserve better,” @THEHermanCain tweeted.

‘Sexually suggestive’

Mr Cain, who was CEO of Godfather’s Pizza before heading the restaurant lobby group, has taken a lead in opinion polls of Republican voters in recent weeks, despite never having held public office.

Politico said it had confirmed the identities of two former female employees of the National Restaurant Association who made sexual harassment complaints to colleagues and association officials about Mr Cain, but was not publishing their names out of concerns for their privacy.

The website said the allegations included conversations “filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature” at association events.

Mr Cain also allegedly gave “descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual, but that made women who experienced them or witnessed them uncomfortable”.

Politico said its report was based on multiple sources and documentation, including the recollections of close associates of the two women.

When asked by Politico on Sunday about the allegations, Mr Cain said he has “had thousands of people working for me” at different businesses over the years and could not comment “until I see some facts or some concrete evidence”.

A poll on Saturday placed Mr Cain ahead of his main rival, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, in Iowa, which holds the first of a series of state-by-state contests to choose the Republican candidate.

The hopefuls are vying to become the party’s nominee to challenge President Barack Obama for the White House in November 2012.

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Rick Perry ‘may miss US debates’ October 28, 2011

Mr Perry raised $17m (£10.5m) in one quarter of campaign fundraising

Rick Perry may skip some upcoming Republican presidential debates, according to campaign officials.

Mr Perry is confirmed for a debate on 9 November, one of more than half a dozen scheduled before the end of the year.

His performance at previous events has hurt his standing in the nomination race – he has said they are more about “stirring up” than true debate.

A recent poll of Republican voters saw the former governor of Texas fall to fifth place among the candidates.

“We haven’t said no, but we’re looking at each debate,” campaign spokesman Mark Miner told the Associated Press on Thursday, adding “while debates are part of the process, they’re just one part”.

Mr Perry does not hide his distaste for debating, preferring direct appeals to voters and an up-close style of campaigning that lead to his successful gubernatorial campaign.

“These debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidate,” he told Fox News on Tuesday.

“So, you know, if there was a mistake made, it was probably ever doing one of the [debates] when all they’re interested in is stirring up between the candidates instead of really talking about the issues that are important to the American people.”

This week, Mr Perry released a tax proposal that included a 20% flat rate and cuts to business taxes.

Former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, seen as a leading candidate because of his polling and fundraising numbers, is also not confirmed for any of the debates beyond 9 November.

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Former SC Gov. Mark Sanford Hired By Fox News As Political Commentator Through 2012 Elections October 25, 2011

October 25, 2011

by legitgov


Former SC Gov. Mark Sanford Hired By Fox News As Political Commentator Through 2012 Elections 23 Oct 2011 Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is joining Fox News as a political commentator through the 2012 presidential elections, a Fox Channel spokeswoman confirmed Saturday. The network spokeswoman told The Associated Press the two-term Republican governor has been hired as a contributor, though she declined to give any details on his pay or when he would start.

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Maroon 5′s Adam Levine goes to war with ‘evil’ Fox News October 21, 2011

Maroon 5‘s Adam Levine has entered a war of words with US broadcaster Fox News, which has been using the band’s songs as background music. Levine described Fox as an “evil fucking channel”, prompting Fox to question Levine’s right to describe his work as “music”.

“Dear Fox News,” Levine tweeted. “Don’t play our music on your evil fucking channel ever again. Thank you.” It’s unclear what set the singer off. Although he’s a host on the talent show The Voice, on rival network NBC, Maroon 5 songs such as This Love and She Will Be Loved have soundtracked a thousand TV montages.

Fox supporters and pundits were quick paint Levine’s remarks as a liberal smear. Writing on her popular blog, the Fox contributor and conservative journaist Michelle Malkin referred to the tweet as “bigotry”. “[It's] irrational, self-defeating, blanket hatred,” she said.

Greg Gutfeld and Adam Levy, hosts of Red Eye on Fox News, seemed even more offended. “Fun joke: why did Maroon 5 cross the road? Because crappy music is legal there,” Gutfeld tweeted. Levy compared Maroon 5′s work to the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques”. Shortly after, while recording Red Eye, they deliberately played a clip from Maroon 5′s Sunday Morning. “If you go to iTunes and search under the category called crap, that comes up!” Gutfeld said.

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U.S. Predator Drone Fired on Qaddafi Convoy, Official Says

October 20, 2011

by legitgov


U.S. Predator Drone Fired on Qaddafi Convoy, Official Says 20 Oct 2011 A U.S. Predator drone, along with a French fighter jet, fired on the convoy said to be carrying Muammar Qaddafi in the moments before his death, a U.S. defense official told Fox News on Thursday. The official said the drone and French jet fired on a “large convoy” leaving Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte. A French defense official earlier said about 80 vehicles were in the convoy — the official said the strike did not destroy the convoy but that fighters on the ground afterward intercepted the vehicle carrying Qaddafi.

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Sarah Palin: the end of an error October 6, 2011

Long past the time many had ceased caring, Sarah Palin announced on Wednesday night that she was not running for the presidency in 2012. Fox News alone of America’s cable networks thought her announcement was more significant than the death of Steve Jobs. Everyone else reacted with a quick shrug and moved on.

It had become obvious that Palin was not going to be a candidate. The reality is that Palin didn’t stand a chance, so badly has she squandered her political capital within the Republican party over the past year with cheap stunts, such as an on-again, off-again grandiose national bus tour. Her career in national politics as a candidate is over.

The most straight-forward implication of Palin’s decision – along with the announcement by New Jersey governor Chris Christie that he would not be running – is that the Republican field is set. There is now no prince across the water. That means Republican voters will either have to come to terms with Mitt Romney or the alternative, most likely Rick Perry.

But for Palin and her supporters, the announcement ends any serious opportunity Palin may have had. The weakness of the 2012 Republican field was such that had Palin chosen to make a serious effort, she could have done well. She could have won the nomination. Now she almost certainly never will.

Even if Republicans don’t regain the White House in 2012, the GOP has a rich crop of potential candidates in 2016: Christie, Perry, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker. By 2020, Palin will be a distant memory, just as if Al Gore was running for the Democratic nomination in 2012.

In reality Palin’s career was effectively killed off when she decided to quit midway through her term as governor of Alaska back in 2009. From that moment on her unfavourability ratings climbed to toxic levels. When the Tea Party movement arose she quickly embraced it, backing herself further into a shrill corner of the Republican party, speaking in the code of talk radio and appealing to an ever-shrinking fan base.

What beckons instead is a career as a political quasi-celebrity on the conservative right, alongside the Oliver Norths, Ann Coulters and J Gordon Liddys. But without the attraction of being a potential presidential candidate, Palin will find the spotlight and the crowds have moved on.

Over on her supporters’ websites, there is much gnashing of teeth and a good deal of denial. No wonder, because only a week ago her supporters were being solicited for donations to help convince Sarah to run.

On Mark Levin’s radio show, where she made her announcement, Palin was full of perky plans for helping elect conservatives in 2012. Like a Broadway show that lost an audience, she plans a tour of the provinces.

Many Republicans will be glad to see her go since she drives away the moderates and independents that the GOP needs to win over to hold the White House. In a memorable recent blog, RedState’s Erick Erickson described Palin’s cult-like supporters as “unhinged” and saying of Palin’s prevarication: “Enough is enough”.

Finally, it was.

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Justice Department Gave CIA Approval to Kill Al-Awlaki October 3, 2011

October 3, 2011

by legitgov


Justice Department Gave CIA Approval to Kill Al-Awlaki –Official: Secret memo between DOJ and CIA placed al-Awlaki on kill or capture list 02 Oct 2011 The U.S. Justice Department gave the approval to the CIA to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, the charismatic U.S.-born cleric who orchestrated Al Qaeda recruitment from Yemen, by justifying his killing as an act of self-defense, a U.S. official told Fox News. The official said Sunday that a secret memo between the DOJ and CIA placed al-Awlaki on a kill or capture list, which laid out the case that al-Awlaki was not entitled to the same protections as a U.S. citizen, but rather a combatant targeting U.S. citizens.

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Don’t Write Perry Off Just Yet September 30, 2011

The past two weeks haven’t been kind to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his dreams of becoming the Republican nominee for president. Weak performances in the debates and a surprising loss in the Florida straw poll has left Perry reeling. Despite an early run of strong polls, a recent Fox News poll, taken from September 25 to September 27, has Perry trailing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 19 percent to 23 percent. And Republican Party elites have been anonymously questioning his readiness for prime time in the media.

Despite his floundering, it may be premature to write Perry’s political obituary just yet—if only because he’s proven himself in the past to be a political survivor. Perry is the longest-serving Texas governor in history, winning re-election three times in races that were hardly cakewalks. Most recently, Perry defeated former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, even though she had strong support from Texas icons such as former president George H. W. Bush. Here are some ways that Perry could rebound in the 2012 race.

Study up on policy

Maybe Perry can improve his debate performance, maybe not. Debates are important, but not critical to success in a primary. But Perry isn’t going to improve his chances of victory unless he gets specific on policy—and fast. So far, Perry has yet to articulate clear plans on the economy or entitlement reform, the two most important domestic issues in the race. On Social Security, Perry has mainly focused on what he isn’t in favor of—changing benefits for near-retirees or turning it into a program run by the states. And while he blasted the program as an illegal Ponzi scheme in his book, “Fed Up,” he now insists that was an historical assessment, not indicating he would scrap the program if he were president. Perry’s lack of clarity on this issue has left him tongue-tied when faced with attacks from Romney

Perry’s biggest weakness right now isn’t any one of his positions. It’s a growing sense among Republicans that he isn’t ready for prime-time. Articulating clear policy proposals can address that.

[See cartoons about the GOP.] 

Play the underdog

Taking a hit this early in the campaign may be a blessing in disguise for Perry. The underdog status can be a gold mine in the Republican Party, allowing Perry to blast the media and D.C. elites for trying to push him to an early exit. It’s a role that John McCain used in 2008, when his campaign was nearly finished before an unlikely resurrection carried him to the nomination. And so long as Romney is perceived as the front-runner, the focus will be on him and his weaknesses as a candidate. It’s worth remembering that, at the start of this election cycle, many believed Romney to be a fatally flawed candidate. The state-wide healthcare overhaul during his time as governor, so similar to the healthcare plan passed by President Obama, is tough to explain. He still has a history of moderate social positions which he’s had to walk his way back from. Romney has done wellsidestepping those issues , but an increased spotlight on Romney might remind Republicans why they turned to Perry in the first place. 

Focus on the grassroots

Perry’s path to the nomination remains pretty straightforward. Win the Iowa caucuses, put up a respectable fight in New Hampshire, crush Romney in South Carolina, and carry enough momentum to win the big states. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who captured an early lead in the Iowa, has been floundering. Her loss has been Perry’s gain. Romney has been doing well in Iowa, too—a recent poll from the American Research Group has him leading in the state—but his campaign has chosen not to campaign in Iowa, making victory for him unlikely. Winning the Iowa caucuses requires a combination of devotion from followers and top-notch campaign logistics. Let others worry about who is winning the media day—Perry should focus on convincing Iowans that they need to find their way to the local caucus meeting room and vote.

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The daily grab bag #2 | Ana Marie Cox

Petulant Floridians join irritated New Hampshire residents in thinking Michele Bachmann should pay more attention to them, because she needs them to win the nomination. They are totally going to not sit next to her at lunch.

• Congressional members can’t stop poking each other.

Here is a picture of a Chia Pet in the likeness of Rick Perry.

Rick Santorum recently compared Fox News’ obsessive Perry coverage to “a dog following the squirrel” (the guy has a dog thing), leaving out the lucrative role he’s played as a part of Fox’s kennel.

Dunkin Donuts survey suggests correlation between coffee consumption and sitting in front of a computer monitor. I assume the scientists on this list are working on an IV.

• “Nothing good comes from hitting ‘Reply All’”, and other words of wisdom.

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The Right Word: Fox News fights class war | Sadhbh Walshe September 23, 2011

Bill O’Reilly

Class warfare is the word on everyone’s lips this week, ever since President Obama made the shocking announcement that millionaires, billionaires and corporations will be called upon to pay their fare share in taxes. Bill O’Reilly was so distressed about the presidents attempts to “punish achievement” that it looked as though he might burst into tears on Monday night. Fortunately, he managed to hold it together. He did set the blogosphere on fire however by suggesting that if President Obama does go through with the tax increase on super-rich people, like him, then he may actually quit his job rather than hand over any more of his “sweat equity” to the federal government (view clip).

He played a clip of President Obama saying to a journalist in 2009 that raising taxes in a recession was not a good thing to do. (Actually, the same clip has been playing on a loop on Fox News), and he bemoaned the fact that the president has since changed his mind.

Correct. So let me ask you: what’s changed in two years? The economy is still awful and unemployment’s even higher. So why have you changed your mind about a tax increase on the affluent and business?

O’Reilly may have inadvertently answered his own question. The rich have had their tax cut since 2001, the same tax cut that was supposed to trickle down all sorts of wealth and opportunity on the rest of us, but instead, the opposite has happened. Unemployment is growing, the deficit is growing; indeed, the only thing not growing is the economy.

Perhaps this is why the president has revised his stance and decided just to give tax cuts to the middle class, which needs them, and roll back the cuts to the wealthy, who don’t. Alternatively, the president may be doing his best to accommodate Republicans, who have made deficit-cutting their top priority, by proposing revenue-enhancing measures. O’Reilly does understand that the federal government needs additional revenue; he just doesn’t want it coming from him.

I must tell you, I want the feds to get more revenue. I don’t want to starve them, as some people do. We need a robust military, a good transportation system and protections all over the place. But if you tax achievement, some of the achievers are going to pack it in. Again, let’s take me. My corporations employ scores of people. They depend on me to do what I do so they can make a nice salary. If Barack Obama begins taxing me more than 50%, which is very possible, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to do this. I like my job, but there comes a point when taxation becomes oppressive.

He added that he was sick to the teeth of this “fair share” business and was cynical of the president’s motives dismissing his proposals as “basically a campaign vehicle that sends him up with the folks against the rich bad guys”. He discussed this with Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, who added that taxing the rich has become a moral issue with many Democrats, who are worried about the rising inequality in American society. (The United States is one of the most unequal countries in the world, with the top 10% controlling more than two thirds of the wealth.) The Democrats, Hume claims, want to use taxation to reduce inequality because “they believe it will lead to a more just society.” Hume is scornful of this notion, saying that “if inequality is at a very much higher level, who cares?!”

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh was also deeply depressed by the latest attempt by the president to take his money from him and has spoken of little else all week (listen to clip). On Monday, he despaired that the rich would never fight back against the ongoing abuse of their privileges because, as he put it, “a) they don’t want you to know who they are; and b) there’s no winning.”

Considering that, according to a recent census, there are now 46.2 million Americans living in poverty, one could understand why the rich might prefer to stay quiet about their wealth, if only not to rub it in. But Limbaugh was pleasantly surprised to find that the rich have no such qualms. He was cheered to find that other than the liberal MSNBC, every news channel including CNN and, of course, Fox “got it right” (as in they oppose the Buffett Rule tax). Limbaugh, particularly, singled out Bill O’Reilly for his brave stance.

I don’t feel like a lone wolf any more. I don’t feel like a lone voice because the whole point of all this is to defeat it; the whole point is to see to it that people are educated and informed and understand exactly what a total joke Obama has become; how meaningless his remarks yesterday were; how destructive, if implemented, they are. And more and more people are seeing it, and more and more people are willing to say so. I mean, even O’Reilly last night was admitting that he was rich. When I said it’s a shame the rich aren’t fighting back, the rich were fighting back. O’Reilly was admitting being rich and he was putting in context of what all he pays and how much it’s gonna cost him and what’s fair and everything, and I was sitting [clapping] all night.

Limbaugh still despairs of the man behind all his recent woes, however – the billionaire, Warren Buffett, whom he sees as little better than a whistle-blower for letting the world know that because of favorable taxation laws, many billionaires are paying lower rates of taxation than their secretaries. Limbaugh wishes that instead of drawing attention to this issue, Buffett would just have paid his secretary more and have done with it that way.

Why don’t you just give her a raise, Mr Buffett? For crying out loud, what are we talking about here? Here’s a guy, a trillionaire, who is running around talking about how his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does, which isn’t actually true. Give her a raise, for crying out loud. This poor woman is being paid to sound like she can barely get through the day because the government’s taking so much of what she earns. The top 1% of taxpayers already pay 40% of all income taxes.

That is a hardship on the top 1%, no doubt, who must be finding that controlling 36.4% of the nation’s wealth has its drawbacks.

Sean Hannity

Needless to say Sean Hannity does not want to pay higher taxes either, and he noted with disgust that Warren Buffet is not the only rich traitor; another billionaire, Mark Cuban, also made the shocking pronouncement this week that paying higher taxes is patriotic (view clip).

This upset Hannity because he believes that the rich pay loads of taxes already and the poor pay virtually nothing. In fact, he quoted a figure that has been bandied about on pretty much every Fox News show for some time now that 51% of Americans pay no federal taxes. This figure is, in fact, entirely misleading, which I’ll get to in a moment, but it might explain why Hannity launched this particularly vicious attack on the president.

Here’s my theory: I think he (Obama) is mentally … intellectually exhausted. I think he’s out of … completely and utterly out of … think about this, you’re giving me a “Woo, Hannity” – no, I think he’s out of ideas. He’s been pampered his whole life! I think he has his Messiah complex that people gave him – well, hear me out here – I think now that it’s all coming apart, he’s angry and he’s becoming unhinged!

Perhaps if Hannity’s researchers looked into it, they could reassure the disturbed host that, in fact, only 14% of Americans paid no taxes in 2009, mostly comprising the elderly and unemployed. The remainder of that 51% (a figure that comes from 2009 alone, because of special circumstances in the recession; the usual figure is 35-40%) did not, it is true, pay federal “income” tax. That would be because, while a majority of them was working, their income was too low to qualify for income tax. They did, however, pay federal payroll tax, which funds social security and Medicare.

On second thoughts, that might not be so comforting to Hannity.

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The Right Word: Beck’s back | Sadhbh Walshe September 16, 2011

Bill O’Reilly

President Obama’s job creation bill was greeted with alarm by conservative TV and radio hosts who unanimously pronounced it dead on arrival. Bill O’Reilly was particularly dismissive of the bill and wondered why the president would put the American people through the trauma of watching it be torn apart by the republican-led Congress (read transcript of show). O’Reilly is, of course, aware that something must be done about the ailing economy but he doesn’t believe that offering hiring incentives to businesses, investing in infrastructure and cutting taxes for the middle class is the way to go, if it means his taxes will go up.

Surely the president knows the Republican-dominated House will not pass the legislation because it includes an income tax increase to pay for it – or at least, we think so. The president will announce that next week. So why is Mr Obama putting us through all this? I don’t – as it stands now, you know, he is saying that the corporations and the wealthy Americans have to pay their, quote, “fair share”. I mean, that’s just code for, “look, I’m going to raise taxes” – and, you know, the House isn’t going [to]. So why, why are we on this merry-go-round?

O’Reilly is correct that the president has proposed some measures that would increase his personal tax bill, such as limiting the itemised deductions that wealthier tax payers can claim and treating capital gains income, which is currently taxed at 15%, as ordinary income, which is taxed at 35% – a loophole that allows billionaires like Warren Buffet to, in his own words, enjoy a lower tax rate than his secretary.

O’Reilly discussed the issue with Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, who didn’t agree that the president just put the bill forward for his own amusement or for political gain. While he was certain that Republicans will and should block the jobs bill, they must be careful not to be “too defiant about it”, lest they be seen as scoring a victory over President Obama at the expense of the American people. That said, he thought if Republicans could sell the bill as “another failed stimulus”, then the political danger of opposing it was minimal.

No, and they won’t. And they won’t. So the die will be cast again. President Obama will tell the nation these people are obstructionists: they don’t care about jobs. They don’t care about you. And the Republicans will say to the folks, “He doesn’t know what he’s doing. Why would we throw more bad money after the stimulus failed in the first place? That’s insane.” And the folks will have to decide who is right. That’s what it comes down to, correct?

Hume wasn’t sure it was quite that simple, but replied, “That’s certainly one way of looking at it.”

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh also opposed the job creation bill because taxes on people like him would have to go up to pay for it (listen to show). He is concerned about the potential political fallout, however, and thinks the bill was deliberately designed to ensure Republicans look really bad when they refuse to pass it.

“What Obama has proposed is not a jobs plan. And, by the way, it is not designed to pass. It is not designed to pass! It is designed for the Republicans to oppose this thing. I mean, every tax increase Obama’s ever dreamt of, wet or dry, that he’s been trying for three years to get passed, is there – tax increases that even the Democrats, when they ran the whole House and Senate, when he had super-majority, couldn’t get passed. It’s the same tax increases. He wants to punish the people that create and produce energy for us in this country. He wants to punish them with higher taxes.”

Like O’Reilly, Limbaugh never mentioned that the bill actually contains a tax cut for the middle class. In fact, this central component has been so overlooked by the rightwing media that the watchdog group Media Matters went so far as to suggest that there has been a deliberate attempt to spin the jobs bill as being “all about tax hikes”. Limbaugh must have been aware of the provisions in the bill to give both employees and employers with a payroll tax cut (from 6.2% to 3.1%), as he had a copy of the bill in his possession.

In fact, I have a PDF copy of the thing there. It’s 155 pages. There are 235 mentions of the word “tax” in the 155-page bill. At any rate, what Obama wants to do is limit mortgage deductions, as well as the deductions for charitable contributions and state tax deductions. He’s been trying to get these same exact tax increases passed for more than three years.

Presumably, among the 235 mentions of the word tax, there was something about the cuts, but maybe Limbaugh chose not to mention them to avoid stoking class warfare. It is a delicate issue for conservatives like himself who supported no-strings-attached tax cuts for the wealthy to now oppose tax cuts for the middle class on the grounds that we can’t afford them.

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck doesn’t like the jobs bill either, though it took him longer than usual to articulate why. This week, he launched his new internet venture, GBTV, and the 230,000 paid subscribers will no doubt have been glad to find that other than the program being three times as long, little has changed. Conspiracy theories abound, there are chalkboards aplenty and Beck wept his way through much of the inaugural episode.

The tears were for 9/11, but by 9/13, they had subsided and he was able to turn his attention to his opposition to the jobs plan. He seemed to think that if we engage in any more spending in America, we will end up like Europe, where tensions are rising because the industrious, BMW-producing Germans are having to bail out the do-nothing Greeks who lounge around on beaches all day wearing speedos and retire at 45. Beck fears that the conflict between the hardworking European nations (Germany) and the lazy ones (everyplace else) will lead to a rise of what he calls the “old right” (fascism) and the “old left” (communism). But he clarifies that the right wing in Europe still comprises socialists because they are for “big government”.

The Germans work hard. They will push back. This will cause the beginning of the rise of the old right. Remember that’s the socialist right; it’s not the American right. It’s the socialist, big-government right, the spooky Nazi right. Greeks are going to push back, which will be the rise of the old left. This is already happening. The Greeks are already saying wait a minute the Germans can’t tell us how to spend our money.

So Europe is struggling to cope with tensions between rightwing socialists and leftwing socialists, and Beck believes that the only way to avoid the sort of problems they are having (high unemployment and mounting debt) is to make sure that socialism doesn’t creep into America’s backyard. This is why he doesn’t like the jobs bill because he thinks it’s just another attempt by President Obama to level the playing field and bring about a Marxist utopia – like they have in Europe.

What you have to be aware of the president is spending us into oblivion because you have to equalise the rest of the world. If the rest of the world is going down and your desire is to fundamentally transform – remember, in his campaign promise, he said we will start with the United States and then we will transform the world? You can’t have anybody with a white horse to ride in on, not that we even own our own horses – we’d be borrowing them from China. But you can’t have anybody to ride in on with a capitalist horse.

The studio audience looked a little alarmed (and confused) at this point, but Beck reassured them that Republicans will never pass a bill that increases taxes on the rich, and as long as they are willing to volunteer in soup kitchens to help the growing numbers of unemployed, all will be well.

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