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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