Sunday, July 31, 2011

The President Surrenders


A deal to raise the federal debt ceiling is in the works. If it goes through, many commentators will declare that disaster was avoided. But they will be wrong.

For the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status.

Start with the economics. We currently have a deeply depressed economy. We will almost certainly continue to have a depressed economy all through next year. And we will probably have a depressed economy through 2013 as well, if not beyond.

The worst thing you can do in these circumstances is slash government spending, since that will depress the economy even further. Pay no attention to those who invoke the confidence fairy, claiming that tough action on the budget will reassure businesses and consumers, leading them to spend more. It doesn’t work that way, a fact confirmed by many studies of the historical record.

Indeed, slashing spending while the economy is depressed won’t even help the budget situation much, and might well make it worse. On one side, interest rates on federal borrowing are currently very low, so spending cuts now will do little to reduce future interest costs. On the other side, making the economy weaker now will also hurt its long-run prospects, which will in turn reduce future revenue. So those demanding spending cuts now are like medieval doctors who treated the sick by bleeding them, and thereby made them even sicker.

And then there are the reported terms of the deal, which amount to an abject surrender on the part of the president. First, there will be big spending cuts, with no increase in revenue. Then a panel will make recommendations for further deficit reduction — and if these recommendations aren’t accepted, there will be more spending cuts.

Republicans will supposedly have an incentive to make concessions the next time around, because defense spending will be among the areas cut. But the G.O.P. has just demonstrated its willingness to risk financial collapse unless it gets everything its most extreme members want. Why expect it to be more reasonable in the next round?

In fact, Republicans will surely be emboldened by the way Mr. Obama keeps folding in the face of their threats. He surrendered last December, extending all the Bush tax cuts; he surrendered in the spring when they threatened to shut down the government; and he has now surrendered on a grand scale to raw extortion over the debt ceiling. Maybe it’s just me, but I see a pattern here.

Did the president have any alternative this time around? Yes.

First of all, he could and should have demanded an increase in the debt ceiling back in December. When asked why he didn’t, he replied that he was sure that Republicans would act responsibly. Great call.

And even now, the Obama administration could have resorted to legal maneuvering to sidestep the debt ceiling, using any of several options. In ordinary circumstances, this might have been an extreme step. But faced with the reality of what is happening, namely raw extortion on the part of a party that, after all, only controls one house of Congress, it would have been totally justifiable.

At the very least, Mr. Obama could have used the possibility of a legal end run to strengthen his bargaining position. Instead, however, he ruled all such options out from the beginning.

But wouldn’t taking a tough stance have worried markets? Probably not. In fact, if I were an investor I would be reassured, not dismayed, by a demonstration that the president is willing and able to stand up to blackmail on the part of right-wing extremists. Instead, he has chosen to demonstrate the opposite.

Make no mistake about it, what we’re witnessing here is a catastrophe on multiple levels.

It is, of course, a political catastrophe for Democrats, who just a few weeks ago seemed to have Republicans on the run over their plan to dismantle Medicare; now Mr. Obama has thrown all that away. And the damage isn’t over: there will be more choke points where Republicans can threaten to create a crisis unless the president surrenders, and they can now act with the confident expectation that he will.

In the long run, however, Democrats won’t be the only losers. What Republicans have just gotten away with calls our whole system of government into question. After all, how can American democracy work if whichever party is most prepared to be ruthless, to threaten the nation’s economic security, gets to dictate policy? And the answer is, maybe it can’t.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Israel to grow medical cannabis to keep down prices

Health Ministry to launch new unit to oversee production in 2012; imports would be tenfold more expensi

Dr. Ronni Gamzi, director-general of the Health Ministry, decided on Thursday to establish a unit within the ministry to manage the supervision and supply of medical marijuana and to serve as an agency for this purpose according to the demands of an international agreement on the subject.

The unit will begin operating in January, 2012.

It was also decided that medical cannabis will continue to be grown in Israel for at least two years, because imports would be tenfold more expensive........


How The Revised Reid Amendment Compares To The Revised Boehner Bill

Friday, July 29, 2011

Buckethead - Soothsayer

Zakk Wylde & Slash - Voodoo Child

Media Matters Daily Summary 07-29-11

The Bigotry Of Pat Buchanan
Pat Buchanan wrote in his recent syndicated column that accused Norway mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik may be "evil," but when it comes to his reported belief that there's a coming "climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world ... Breivik may be right." Buchanan, who also serves as an MSNBC analyst, has a long history marred with bigotry and hostility towards non-whites. Read More

O'Reilly Can't Find The "Shadowy Figures" Behind The Tea Party
Bill O'Reilly made the argument to Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham that there are no "shadowy figures ... behind the tea party," unlike with progressive movements, which have "guy[s] like Soros and these MoveOn people" with "so much power behind the scenes." In fact, the tea party movement has been heavily funded by rich individuals such as the oil magnate Koch brothers. Read More

Conservative Media Myths About Fuel Economy Standards
Conservative media are promulgating the myths that higher fuel economy standards are unattainable with current technology, will cost consumers and will increase traffic deaths. In fact, automakers have said they will be able to meet the standards, consumers will net thousands in fuel savings, and safe cars in a variety of sizes will continue to be produced. Read More

Right-Wing Media Mount Last-Ditch Effort To "Hold The Line" And Risk Default
Days before a potential default crisis, right-wing media are engaged in a full-throated lobbying effort against a compromise to avoid default, urging Republicans to "hold the line" and act like "winners." Read More

Unto The Breach: Media Conservatives Uncover Obama's "Twitter War" On The GOP
After President Obama encouraged voters to "email" or "Tweet" lawmakers in order to "keep the pressure on Washington" to reach a compromise and avoid default, media conservatives announced that Obama had declared "Twitter War on Republicans." Read More

Media Matters Daily Summary 07-29-11

The Bigotry Of Pat Buchanan
Pat Buchanan wrote in his recent syndicated column that accused Norway mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik may be "evil," but when it comes to his reported belief that there's a coming "climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world ... Breivik may be right." Buchanan, who also serves as an MSNBC analyst, has a long history marred with bigotry and hostility towards non-whites. Read More

O'Reilly Can't Find The "Shadowy Figures" Behind The Tea Party
Bill O'Reilly made the argument to Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham that there are no "shadowy figures ... behind the tea party," unlike with progressive movements, which have "guy[s] like Soros and these MoveOn people" with "so much power behind the scenes." In fact, the tea party movement has been heavily funded by rich individuals such as the oil magnate Koch brothers. Read More

Conservative Media Myths About Fuel Economy Standards
Conservative media are promulgating the myths that higher fuel economy standards are unattainable with current technology, will cost consumers and will increase traffic deaths. In fact, automakers have said they will be able to meet the standards, consumers will net thousands in fuel savings, and safe cars in a variety of sizes will continue to be produced. Read More

Right-Wing Media Mount Last-Ditch Effort To "Hold The Line" And Risk Default
Days before a potential default crisis, right-wing media are engaged in a full-throated lobbying effort against a compromise to avoid default, urging Republicans to "hold the line" and act like "winners." Read More

Unto The Breach: Media Conservatives Uncover Obama's "Twitter War" On The GOP
After President Obama encouraged voters to "email" or "Tweet" lawmakers in order to "keep the pressure on Washington" to reach a compromise and avoid default, media conservatives announced that Obama had declared "Twitter War on Republicans." Read More

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rewind The Tape To 2008

Michele Bachmann today: Totally out of bounds to scrutinize my husband while I'm running for President.

Michele Bachmann in 2008: Michelle Obama has "very anti-American views."

— David Kurtz

Breaking: Water is Wet and No Vote Tonight

BREAKING NEWS—10:30 PM: no vote on boehner debt bill thursday night

Al Franken Unveils Sign During Senate Floor Speech On Debt Crisis: ‘Welcome Terrorists’

Boehner Debt Ceiling Plan Drops A 26-Year-Old Exemption That Protects The Poor From Budget Cuts


As the Republicans haggle over whether to support their own plan for raising the nation’s debt ceiling, an “unprecedented” coalition of religious leaders are urging President Obama and Congress not to sacrifice the needs of the poor in the name of debt reduction. Even the conservative U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops joined the effort, singling out House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) plan for its “disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.”

In scrutinizing the debt deals, some religious leaders praised the plans for at least exempting low-income “means-tested” programs from across-the-board cuts. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes today, however, that Boehner’s plan does not actually exempt programs like Medicaid and food stamps from such cuts. Instead, it does the opposite.

Breaking a 26-year policy of exempting basic low-income entitlement programs from across-the-board cuts, both of the House Republican plans — “Cut, Cap, and Balance” Act and Boehner’s debt-ceiling proposal — “drop all of the low-income exemptions that have been part of every previous across-the-board cut mechanism since 1985″:

For 26 years, all budget legislation that would trigger across-the-board cuts if Congress fails to meet a fiscal target has exempted the basic low-income (or “means-tested”) entitlement programs from those cuts. The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings laws of 1985 and 1990, the deficit reduction agreement of 1990, and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 — all bipartisan pieces of legislation — included that exemption. So did last year’s “pay-as-you-go” law, which requires Congress to offset the cost of new tax cuts or increases in entitlement programs so they don’t increase the deficit. Congress has never enacted a law with an across-the-board cut mechanism that subjects core assistance for the poor to these cuts.

But in the last few weeks, House Republicans have advanced two major pieces of legislation that would do just that. Both the “Cut, Cap, and Balance Act,” which the House passed last week, and the new Boehner debt-ceiling proposal drop all of the low-income exemptions that have been part of every previous across-the-board cut mechanism since 1985.

“In an exercise in political cynicism,” CBPP notes that both bills include an exemption for payments to Medicare providers that was not part of previous laws. This allows Republicans to avoid another hit from the senior community “even as they subject those living below the poverty line to the risk of automatic cuts that would push them even deeper into poverty.” Earlier this week, CBPP put out an analysis showing that Boehner’s debt ceiling plan “could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history.”

The Republican move to cut a long-standing bipartisan protection for the poor really brings into question exactly which Americans Republicans say they’re fighting for. Religious leaders should take note. If asked “What Would Jesus Cut,” it seems Republicans are determined to provide the wrong answer.

Clergey Members Arrested At Capitol Protesting Budget Cuts

Clergey Members Arrested At Capitol Protesting Budget Cuts

About a dozen religious leaders were arrested in the Capitol rotunda today after they refused to end their public prayers calling for “an equitable resolution to the debt ceiling debate,” according to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which organized the protest. The leaders noted that default would be catastrophic, but current plans to raise the debt limit would still include “severe spending cuts to the programs and services that support the poorest and most vulnerable people living in the U.S. and around the world.”......

Pelosi supports clean vote on debt ceiling increase

Pelosi supports clean vote on debt ceiling increase

During a question-and-answer session yesterday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “If we don’t come to a conclusion soon, Democrats in the House are saying, we must pass a clean debt ceiling bill while continuing our discussions, as we know we must to reduce the deficit.” The Congressional Black Caucus has also said that a clean vote is the path out of the current stalemate. Today, the Congressional Progressive Caucus announced its support of Rep. Peter Welch’s (D-VT) clean vote proposal to get out of the current crisis. Read our view on the need for a clean vote here.

Homophobe Pastor Knows Media Only Mocking Him to Get to Rep. Bachmann

Buried in the treasure trove of “Michele Bachmann eats homosexuals” brouhaha is the bizarre human-size skid mark Bradlee Dean, a self-styled “punk rock pastor” who wants everyone to know that the liberal media is only ridiculing him in order to derail Bachmann’s presidential campaign. He is by his own account kind of like “Jesus Christ up on the cross being crucified” by the media, which apparently makes Michele your new God. What has he done to deserve cruel mockery besides OMG THIS PHOTO?

The list is rather endless, but for example: he said that the Muslims have enough testicles to at least publicly call for the execution of homosexuals, unlike invertebrate soiled toilet paper wads the evangelical Christians. Cute! Rachel Maddow took time to laugh at him for this illiterate idjit comment on her show, and now he announced he is suing Maddow for a new $50 million drum set. READ MORE »

Report: Health care law has limited impact on spending

WASHINGTONThe 2010 federal health care law will have little effect on the nation's rising health spending in the next decade, a government report said Thursday.

The report by the Medicare Office of the Actuary estimated that health spending will grow by an average of 5.8 percent a year through 2020, compared to 5.7 percent without the health care overhaul. With that growth, the nation is expected to spend $4.6 trillion on health care in 2020, nearly double the $2.6 trillion spent last year.

Health care law critics said the report confirmed their concerns.

"Most of us understood the health reform law was about expanding coverage, not cutting costs," said Joseph Antos, a health policy expert at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

The 2010 law will expand health insurance coverage to 30 million Americans.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle said the report showed Americans were getting a good deal.

"The bottom line from the report is clear: more Americans will get coverage and save money and health expenditure growth will remain virtually the same," she said on the White House blog........

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Let's just call them the "Deadbeat Party"

GOP cultists occupy a metaphysical netherworld where basic arithmetic is scorned as an elitist tool


"In January 2009, just before President Obama took office," explained Teresa Trich, "the budget office projected a $1.2 trillion deficit for 2009 and deficits in subsequent years, based on continuing Mr. Bush's policies and the effects of recession. Mr. Obama's policies in 2009 and 2010, including the stimulus package, added to the deficits in those years but are largely temporary."

So when Speaker Boehner speaks of "the largest spending binge in American history," he's hiding who's responsible. The Obama administration has added a comparative fraction to the National Debt, almost all by necessity. Also due to recession, tax revenues are way down.

These are indisputable facts. GOP cultists, however, occupy a metaphysical netherworld where anything in the New York Times is false by definition, scorning arithmetic as an elitist tool. Much of the public simply doesn't know what to think; the Obama White House has been perversely reluctant to tell them.

Boehner's assertion that "the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today" is simply a lie.

See, Congress has already authorized Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; it's sent armies to Afghanistan and Iraq, authorized bond issues, built federal prisons, created the Department of Homeland Security, etc.

A budget default would give the White House unprecedented, arguably illegal power to pick and choose which laws it would obey. Then there's the 14th Amendment, stating that "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law ... shall not be questioned."

Hence the president would be on solid grounds, constitutional scholars argue, simply to raise the National Debt limit by executive order and dare Congress to do something about it. Sure, right-wing cultists would go even crazier, screaming about tyranny and threatening impeachment.

I'd like to see them try..............

Media Matters Daily Summary 07-27-11

"Healthy Meal": The Right-Wing Media Rages Against Healthier Happy Meals
Following McDonald's decision to offer "more nutritionally-balanced" Happy Meals and First Lady Michelle Obama's praise of its move, the right-wing media jumped to attack McDonald's for supposedly bending to the will of the "fat police" and making Happy Meals "less happy." However, numerous studies show that childhood obesity leads to significant health problems, and moreover, McDonald's reportedly made their decision in part so that parents could feel "less guilty" about buying their kids Happy Meals. Read More

Right-Wing Media Outraged Norway Attacker Accurately Labeled A Christian
After rushing to declare that the recent attacks in Norway were linked to Muslims, the right-wing media has now expressed outrage that the perpetrator, Anders Breivik, is being described accurately as a self-identified Christian. Read More

Ignoring Debt Limit Talks, Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim Obama Had "No Plan" To Reduce Deficit
Right-wing media have repeatedly claimed that President Obama had "no plan" about how to lower the nation's deficit and reach a compromise to resolve the default crisis. But Obama had reportedly agreed to specific reforms and spending cuts, including to entitlement programs, in talks with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) before Boehner walked away from those negotiations. Read More

Smog Screen: Conservative Media Contradict Health Experts On Air Quality
Conservative media claim stricter standards for ground-level ozone, the primary component of smog, are unreasonable and unnecessary. In fact, EPA is strengthening the standards because health experts, including the scientific panel that advised the Bush administration, have said that the standards set in 2008 are not sufficient to protect the public. Read More

Tea Party Rep. Joe Walsh sued for $100,000 in child support

Chicago Sun/Times

Freshman U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, a tax-bashing Tea Party champion who sharply lectures President Barack Obama and other Democrats on fiscal responsibility, owes more than $100,000 in child support to his ex-wife and three children, according to documents his ex-wife filed in their divorce case in December.

“I won’t place one more dollar of debt upon the backs of my kids and grandkids unless we structurally reform the way this town spends money!” Walsh says directly into the camera in his viral video lecturing Obama on the need to get the nation’s finances in order.

Walsh starts the video by saying, “President Obama, quit lying. Have you no shame, sir? In three short years, you’ve bankrupted this country.”

In court documents, after his ex-wife, Laura Walsh, asked a judge to suspend his driver’s license until he paid his child support, Joe Walsh asks his ex-wife: “Have you no decency?”................

Jon Stewart Blasts Fox News For Playing The Victim Card

McCain vs. the Tea Party

The Caucus


Mr. McCain mocked Tea Party-allied Republicans in the House for believing — wrongly, he said — that President Obama and Democrats will get the blame for a default if Republicans refuse to increase the nation’s debt ceiling.

By that flawed logic, “Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced budget amendment and reform entitlements and the Tea Party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth,” he said, quoting a Wall Street Journal editorial.

“This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into G.O.P. nominees,” he jeered, referring to two losing Tea Party candidates for the Senate in 2010..............

Hero Judge Mocks Orly Taitz For “Stupidity”

Famous birther drag queen Orly Taitz is so frustrated right now, because no one will listen to her important ideas about Barack Obama’s fake social security number. She can’t even get justice in the court, probably because everyone there is a secret Kenyan with a fake social security number, too.

Oh and also because she keeps “displaying her own stupidity,” by not knowing how to redact information. Maybe they don’t teach that sort of thing in Lunatic Dentist Lawyer College. But really, how can Orly Taitz be expected to properly redact a social security number when someone in the court is clearly sabotaging her case? READ MORE »

Murdochs were given secret defence briefings

The Independent

The extraordinary access that Cabinet ministers granted Rupert Murdoch and his children was revealed for the first time yesterday, with more than two dozen private meetings between the family and senior members of the Government in the 15 months since David Cameron entered Downing Street.

In total, Cabinet ministers have had private meetings with Murdoch executives more than 60 times and, if social events such as receptions at party conferences are included, the figure is at least 107.

On two occasions, James Murdoch and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks were given confidential defence briefings on Afghanistan and Britain's strategic defence review by the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox. A further briefing was held with Ms Brooks, Rupert Murdoch and the Sunday Times editor John Witherow..........

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Media Matters Daily Summary 07-26-11

Kilmeade Falsely Claims "51% Of The Country [Aren't] Paying Any Taxes At All"
On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade falsely claimed "51% of the country [aren't] paying any taxes at all." In fact, while the bottom 50 percent of wage earners pay little federal income tax, they still pay payroll and sales taxes, and in many cases, state and local taxes as well. Read More

Right-Wing Media Attack Obama For Calling For A "Balanced" Approach To Default Crisis
Right-wing media have repeatedly attacked President Obama for calling for a "balanced" approach to solving the deficit crisis. In fact, polls have repeatedly shown that the majority of Americans favor such an approach to lowering the deficit, which would involve a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. Read More

Predictable: Right-Wing Media Strain To Attack Obama's Default Crisis Address
Following President Obama's July 25 address on the default crisis, the right-wing media attacked Obama's speech as a "hard left" campaign speech, and complained he "blame[d] Bush" for the deficit. The right-wing media has a long history of attacking Obama's speeches and addresses. Read More

Following Norway Attack, Right-Wing Media Advocate For More Lenient Gun Laws
Following the July 22 attack on Norway's Utoya Island by Anders Breivik, right-wing personalities have begun to advocate for more lenient gun laws, claiming that "if somebody did [have a gun], they might have been able to take this crazy guy out before he did all of this damage." In fact, Norway, despite having stricter laws on handgun ownership than the United States, has a much lower rate of deaths related to gun homicides. Read More

Voter ID Law Passed, Scott Walker Moves to Close DMVs in Dem Districts

Evil corporate lackey Scott Walker recently got a memo on his desk from the fringe conservative Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that drafts bills for GOP lawmakers who are too stupid or too lazy to pen the enormous quantities of the Kochs’ slobbering hate for the poor into formal legislative proposals. The memo that Walker got sent him some instructions like, “there are too many minority people and students voting in your state,” along with the text of a voter ID bill pooped out by the typing monkeys from the Koch offices.

Thus a Walker “legislative priority” was conceived and excreted onto the people of Wisconsin. Hooray! Now, no one can vote without a state-issued ID. Can Scott Walker go it one further? He wants to pass another law ordering the Department of Transportation to shut down up to 16 DMV offices that a Democratic lawmaker says are located in blue districts, while it would extend hours at offices in GOP areas. READ MORE »

The Republican Wreckage


House Republicans have lost sight of the country’s welfare. It’s hard to conclude anything else from their latest actions, including the House speaker’s dismissal of President Obama’s plea for compromise Monday night. They have largely succeeded in their campaign to ransom America’s economy for the biggest spending cuts in a generation. They have warped an exercise in paying off current debt into an argument about future spending. Yet, when they win another concession, they walk away.

This increasingly reckless game has pushed the nation to the brink of ruinous default. The Republicans have dimmed the futures of millions of jobless Americans, whose hopes for work grow more out of reach as government job programs are cut and interest rates begin to rise. They have made the federal government a laughingstock around the globe.

In a scathing prime-time television address Monday night, President Obama stepped off the sidelines to tell Americans the House Republicans were threatening a “deep economic crisis” that could send interest rates skyrocketing and hold up Social Security and veterans’ checks. By insisting on a single-minded approach and refusing to negotiate, he said, Republicans were violating the country’s founding principle of compromise.

“How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries?” he said, invoking Ronald Reagan’s effort to make everyone pay a fair share and pointing out that his immediate predecessors had to ask for debt-ceiling increases under rules invented by Congress. He urged viewers to demand compromise. “The entire world is watching,” he said.

Mr. Obama denounced House Speaker John Boehner’s proposal to make cuts only, now, and raise the debt ceiling briefly, but he embraced the proposal made over the weekend by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, which gave Republicans virtually everything they said they wanted when they ignited this artificial crisis: $2.7 trillion from government spending over the next decade, with no revenue increases. It is, in fact, an awful plan, which cuts spending far too deeply at a time when the government should be summoning all its resources to solve the real economic problem of unemployment. It asks for absolutely no sacrifice from those who have prospered immensely as economic inequality has grown.

Mr. Reid’s proposal does at least protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And about half of its savings comes from the winding down of two wars, which naturally has drawn Republican opposition. (Though Republicans counted the same savings in their budgets.)

Mr. Boehner will not accept this as the last-ditch surrender that it is. The speaker, who followed Mr. Obama on TV with about five minutes of hoary talking points clearly written before the president spoke, is insisting on a plan that raises the debt ceiling until early next year and demands another vote on a balanced-budget amendment, rejected by the Senate last week. The result would be to stage this same debate over again in an election year. Never mind that this would almost certainly result in an immediate downgrade of the government’s credit.

We agreed strongly when Mr. Obama said Americans should be “offended” by this display and that they “may have voted for divided government but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.” It’s hard not to conclude now that dysfunction is the Republicans’ goal — even if the cost is unthinkable.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Arkansas High School Appoints Co-Valedictorian Because Top Student Was African American

Arkansas High School Appoints Co-Valedictorian Because Top Student Was African American

A high school student in Arkansas was blocked from receiving sole valedictorian honors this summer, despite earning the highest G.P.A. in her class and receiving only a single B in her four years at McGehee Secondary School. Kymberly Wimberly’s offense? She’s black. School administrators worried that Wimberly’s accomplishment would result in a “big mess” at the majority-white school, so Principal Darrell Thompson told the student’s mother “that he decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian,” even though the white student had a lower G.P.A. The matter is currently pending in federal court

Beck: Youth camp attacked in Norway ‘like the Hitler Youth’


Conservative radio host Glenn Beck said Monday that a Labour Party youth camp that was attack in Norway Friday “sounds a little like the Hitler Youth.”

“Saturday I was following the news of the shooting in Norway and the explosion in Norway, which happened what on Friday,” Beck recalled. “When we heard the explosion everybody was willing to say, it’s Muslim extremists, it’s Muslim extremists. I don’t think we made a comment on it because we didn’t know other than a bombing had happened, and as the thing started to unfold and there was a shooting a political camp, which sounds a little like the Hitler Youth or you know whatever. Who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing. But, anyway, so there’s this political camp and so crazy man goes and starts shooting kids.”

Politicususa noted that Beck’s 9/12 Project held its own political camp for kids this summer.

Listen to this audio from The Glenn Beck Program, uploaded by Media Matters July 25, 2011.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fox News pairs Norway attacks with NYC Islamic center


Friday night on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, guest host Laura Ingraham said the terror attacks in Norway that killed of at least 92 people appeared “to be the work, once again, of Muslim extremists.”

“In the meantime, in New York City, the Muslims who want to build the mosque at Ground Zero scored a huge legal victory,” she continued, after describing the attacks. “A Manhattan judge dismissed a lawsuit by former New York City firefighter Timothy Brown, who was trying to stop construction of the mosque.”

Although it was reported by one terrorism analyst that a jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attack, it was later revealed that the attack was carried out by a 32-year-old conservative Christian who was strongly opposed to multiculturalism and Islam.

Watch video, clipped by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters, below:

Oslo Suspect Wrote of Fear of Islam and Plan for War

OSLOThe Norwegian man charged Saturday with a pair of attacks in Oslo that killed at least 92 people left behind a detailed manifesto outlining his preparations and calling for a Christian war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination, according to Norwegian and American officials familiar with the investigation.

As stunned Norwegians grappled with the deadliest attack in the country since World War II, a portrait began to emerge of the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, 32. The police identified him as a right-wing fundamentalist Christian, while acquaintances described him as a gun-loving Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threats of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration.

“We are not sure whether he was alone or had help,” a police official, Roger Andresen, said at a televised news conference. “What we know is that he is right wing and a Christian fundamentalist.”

In the 1,500-page manifesto, posted on the Web hours before the attacks, Mr. Breivik recorded a day-by-day diary of months of planning for the attacks, and claimed to be part of a small group that intended to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.”

He predicted a conflagration that would kill or injure more than a million people, adding, “The time for dialogue is over. We gave peace a chance. The time for armed resistance has come.,,,,,,,,,,

Friday, July 22, 2011

As Oklahomans Die, Inhofe Mocks Killer Heat Wave


The heat wave now battering much of the nation is centered on Oklahoma, where record heat and drought have crippled the state for the entire summer. With August on the way, there is no end in sight. The prolonged heat — Oklahoma City has been above 100°F for 30 days this summer — has probably killed over a dozen Oklahoma residents:

The sustained heat has taxed local water systems and claimed at least five lives, with another eight deaths possibly being caused by the heat, authorities said.

The oil-rich state is also the epicenter of global warming denial, led by its senior U.S. Senator, Jim Inhofe (R-OK). The oil-funded senator has a long history of finding humor in the misery caused by extreme weather disturbed by greenhouse pollution, including the record snowstorms of this winter. This deadly heat wave is no exception. In a tweet on Thursday, Inhofe’s press office mocked the killer heat, arguing that Al Gore could cool it off:

Perhaps we need to hear a little more from Al Gore to cool things off!

The tweet links to the Wikipedia page on “The Gore Effect,” which is the climate-denier claim that weather and appearances by Al Gore are linked. The claim, of course, lacks any sense whatsoever, but that’s never been a burden for Inhofe.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


LOS ANGELES – Britney Spears announced she was diagnosed with a rare and deadly flatulence disease.

A former cop who worked for Spears claims the singer made his life a living hell — because of her excessive flatulence.

Fernando Flores, who worked as a bodyguard for the pop princess last year, has sued Spears’ conservators for $10 million alleging abuse of Spears non-stop farting.

Flores also...

Read More »

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Cult - She Sells sanctuary (Long Version)

News Corporation admitted in 2009 to hacking U.S. rival’s website


Former News International chairman previously claimed only one journalist involved in phone hacking.

News Corporation admitted at a trial in 2009 that computers at its U.S. marketing division, News America Marketing, hacked into the secure website of a rival U.S.-based company 11 times, according to Bloomberg.

The FBI is currently investigating allegations that News Corp, the parent company of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, attempted to bribe police and hack into the cell phones of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) wrote Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller to highlight the hacking allegation made by Floorgraphics Inc.

Floorgraphics claimed in a lawsuit that News America Marketing stole business from the company by hacking into Floorgraphics website between October 2003 to January 2004. The company agreed to dismiss the case after receiving a $29.5 million payment from News America Marketing.

A lawyer for News America Marketing admitted during that trial that someone hacked into Floorgraphics website “through a firewall at News America Marketing headquarters,” but that the company did not know who did it.

“As the Department of Justice and FBI examine the recent hacking allegations involving News Corp. and its subsidiaries more closely, I wanted to make sure that you were fully aware of the case of Floorgraphics and News America, as it may be relevant to your current investigation,” Lautenberg wrote (PDF)....................

Media Matters Daily Summary 07-20-11

O'Reilly Falsely Claims No U.S. Employee Of News Corp. Has Been Implicated In Hacking Scandal
Bill O'Reilly claimed that no American employee of News Corp. has been "implicated" in the company's hacking scandal and that "in the United States, there isn't any intrusion of this story thus far on News Corp. properties. None." In fact, Les Hinton, who is an American citizen, was the CEO of News Corp. division Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal until he resigned recently as a result of the scandal. Read More

Wash. Times' Wolf "Lie[s]" To Accuse Obama Of Lying On Health Care
In a Washington Times column, Dr. Milton Wolf, a blogger who purports to be a distant cousin of the president, accused President Obama of lying about aspects of health care reform in claiming that health care reform would lower the deficit and that "there are no death panels," among other things. In fact, most of Wolf's accusations are based on persistent, long-debunked right-wing myths about health care reform. Read More

Fox Distorts Clinton To Claim He Attacked Obama Over Default Crisis
Fox News claimed that in comments former President Clinton made about the pending default crisis and the associated negotiations over the issue, Clinton attacked President Obama for his handling of the talks. In fact, Clinton was sharply criticizing Congressional Republicans and said he was "proud" of Obama. Read More

REPORT: How Facts And Pressure Forced Fox News To Cover News Corp. Hacking Scandal
In the days after News Corp.'s long-simmering phone-hacking scandal reignited, a great disparity emerged in the amount of coverage given to the saga, with Fox News giving significantly less coverage to the story than CNN and MSNBC. But as other news organizations began to highlight Fox News' relative silence on the scandal, as calls for investigations into the corporation mounted, and as resignations and arrests of top News Corp. officials mushroomed, it became impossible for Fox News to ignore the crumbling of a global media empire. Read More

UPDATED REPORT: How CNN, MSNBC, And Fox Are Continuing To Cover The News Corp. Hacking Scandal
News Corp.'s long-simmering phone-hacking scandal has progressed rapidly since it reignited, throwing its global media empire into turmoil. Yet while Fox News has spent more than twice as many segments discussing the scandal in the days since its level of coverage first came under scrutiny, including five hours of live coverage of a British Parliament committee hearing where News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch testified, a Media Matters analysis has found a continued disparity in the amount of coverage given to the scandal by CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. Read More

Beck Fearmongers About Border Chaos To Attack Obama's Gun Policy
On his radio show, Glenn Beck fearmongered about violence along the U.S.-Mexico border to suggest that the government will confiscate Americans' guns. In fact, the Justice Department has simply issued regulations putting in place a reporting requirement for multiple purchases of certain kinds of rifles, and, furthermore, violence in areas on the U.S. side of the border is dropping. Read More

NY Times Piece Echoes Right-Wing Falsehood On Financial Crisis
The New York Times published a piece by Reuters' that attacked the Dodd-Frank financial reform law for not sufficiently regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the piece suggested were central causes of the economic crisis. This claim echoes a right-wing talking point, but as economic experts -- including Nobel Prize-winning economist and Times columnist Paul Krugman -- have explained, it has no basis in reality. Read More

Wasserman Schultz: Not Surprising That Allen West Would ‘Crack Under The Pressure’


DNC Chair and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) is responding to Rep. Allen West's (R-FL) Tuesday e-mail, in which he attacked her for her criticism of his vote on the House Republicans' budget proposals. West declared that she has supposedly "proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!" Appearing Wednesday afternoon on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell, Wasserman Schultz said that with West's position on Medicare, he clearly isn't able to deal with her response. Also, she noted, West is in fact one of her constituents, rather than living in his own district.

Indeed, considering West's having built his political career on his time in the military -- which ended due to an incident involving the torture of an Iraqi policeman -- Wasserman Schultz's response could possibly be viewed as questioning West's own vigor and stability.

"Well, I have to tell you I was unfazed by his e-mail. It's not surprising that given the pressure that the Republicans are facing," said Wasserman Schultz. "I mean, they're defending ending Medicare as we know it. Congressman West represents thousands of senior citizens, which is what I was pointing out, and they would face significant increased costs due to the Republicans' Medicare plan and the Cut, Cap and Balance Bill.

"So it's not really surprising that he would crack under the pressure of having to defend that."

Wasserman Schultz then referred to West as "a constituent of mine," prompting Mitchell to confirm that West lives in her district.

"He actually lives in my district, yes," said Wasserman Schultz. "As a constituent of mine, I think it's important for him to understand that when we're in debate on the House floor, members are gonna go back and forth. If he feels that concerned, and gets that churned up over having to defend his position, then he probably should reconsider his position."...........

Nearly 10 Years Ago Today, The U.S. Began Borrowing Billions To Pay For The Bush Tax Cuts


As debates about deficit reduction continued to be heavily tilted toward cutting spending, which threatens to undermine a fragile recovery, rather than raising revenue from those who can afford it, it’s important to remember the budgetary impact of the Bush tax cuts.

Nearly 10 years ago today, on August 1, 2001, the Associated Press reported that the Treasury Department was tapping $51 billion of credit in order to pay for the budgetary cost of the first round of Bush tax cuts’ rebate checks. The AP reported at the time that Democratic Party opponents of the tax cuts worried that they’d return government budgets to “red ink“:

The opponents of the tax cut turned out to be right. The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts combined have blown a $2.5 trillion hole in America’s budget and created deficits stretching on for years.

Tea Party Nation Sued For Dodging $640,000 Las Vegas Casino Bill

Would you bet over half a million dollars that a few hundred people would be willing to exchange actual currency for the chance to watch defunct hollering person Sharron Angle share makeup tips at a schmaltzy Las Vegas gambling resort? Are you insane? Would you sign a contract to certify you are that insane?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, a very tragic congratulations, you are one of the Tea Party Nation’s fiscal responsibility experts now on the hook for $642,144 to said Las Vegas hotel for nixing your Sharron Angle furry sleepover party and failing to pay the contractual cancellation fee. And now they are mysteriously being sued by the hotel! READ MORE »

Ronald Reagan on default

Remarks from a radio address by President Ronald Reagan delivered on September 26, 1987, discussing the severe necessity of the United States meeting it's obligations in regards to dealing with the national debt ceiling.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Road Not Taken ... aka ... Blowhards and show horses kicked away GOP's golden moment


Over the past months, Republicans enjoyed enormous advantages. Opinion polls showed that voters are eager to reduce the federal debt, and they want to do it mostly but not entirely through spending cuts.

There was a Democratic president eager to move to the center. He floated certain ideas that would be normally unheard of from a Democrat. According to widespread reports, White House officials talked about raising the Medicare eligibility age, cutting Social Security by changing the inflation index, freezing domestic discretionary spending and offering to pre-empt the end of the Bush tax cuts in exchange for a broad tax-reform process.

The Democratic offers were slippery, and President Obama didn’t put them in writing. But John Boehner, the House speaker, thought they were serious. The liberal activists thought they were alarmingly serious. I can tell you from my reporting that White House officials took them seriously.

The combined effect would have been to reduce the size of government by $3 trillion over a decade. That’s a number roughly three times larger than the cost of the Obama health care law. It also would have brutally fractured the Democratic Party.

But the Republican Party decided not to pursue this deal, or even seriously consider it. Instead what happened was this: Conservatives told themselves how steadfast they were being for a few weeks. Then morale crumbled.

This week, Republicans will probably pass a balanced budget Constitutional amendment that has zero chance of becoming law. Then they may end up clinging to a no más Senate compromise. This proposal would pocket cuts that have already been agreed on, and it would eliminate leverage for future cuts and make them less likely.

It could be that this has been a glorious moment in Republican history. It could be that having persuaded independents that they are a prudent party, Republicans will sweep the next election. Controlling the White House and Congress, perhaps they will have the guts to cut Medicare unilaterally, reform the welfare state and herald in an era of conservative greatness.

But it’s much more likely that Republicans will come to regret this missed opportunity. So let us pause to identify the people who decided not to seize the chance to usher in the largest cut in the size of government in American history. They fall into a few categories:

The Beltway Bandits. American conservatism now has a rich network of Washington interest groups adept at arousing elderly donors and attracting rich lobbying contracts. For example, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform has been instrumental in every recent G.O.P. setback. He was a Newt Gingrich strategist in the 1990s, a major Jack Abramoff companion in the 2000s and he enforced the no-compromise orthodoxy that binds the party today.

Norquist is the Zelig of Republican catastrophe. His method is always the same. He enforces rigid ultimatums that make governance, or even thinking, impossible.

The Big Government Blowhards. The talk-radio jocks are not in the business of promoting conservative governance. They are in the business of building an audience by stroking the pleasure centers of their listeners.

They mostly give pseudo Crispin’s Day speeches to battalions of the like-minded from the safety of the conservative ghetto. To keep audience share, they need to portray politics as a cataclysmic, Manichaean struggle. A series of compromises that steadily advance conservative aims would muddy their story lines and be death to their ratings.

The Show Horses. Republicans now have a group of political celebrities who are marvelously uninterested in actually producing results. Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann produce tweets, not laws. They have created a climate in which purity is prized over practicality.

The Permanent Campaigners. For many legislators, the purpose of being in Congress is not to pass laws. It’s to create clear contrasts you can take into the next election campaign. It’s not to take responsibility for the state of the country and make it better. It’s to pass responsibility onto the other party and force them to take as many difficult votes as possible.

All of these groups share the same mentality. They do not see politics as the art of the possible. They do not believe in seizing opportunities to make steady, messy progress toward conservative goals. They believe that politics is a cataclysmic struggle. They believe that if they can remain pure in their faith then someday their party will win a total and permanent victory over its foes. They believe they are Gods of the New Dawn.

Fortunately, there are still practical conservatives in the G.O.P., who believe in results, who believe in intelligent compromise. If people someday decide the events of the past weeks have been a debacle, then practical conservatives may regain control.

Michele Bachmann Tells Flood Victims That Blacks Are Stealing Their Money

Nut-flavored poopsicle Michele Bachmann was visiting flood-affected regions along the Missouri River when she was asked a very simple question about whether she thought proposed government cuts to the USDA should worry farmers needing help because of the damage.

Normally Bachmann would get going on her “government isn’t here to solve your problems” speech, but… oh, uh hey, everyone here is white, right? Yeah okay, so here’s the real problem, everyone: black farmers stole the money that Michele would have given you. If those black farmers would stop asking for government money, Michele would hand it right back out to some of the actually needy white farmers! READ MORE »

Michele Bachmann Also Obviously Huge Pill Popper, Constantly Suffers ‘Episodes’

So everybody remembers how Michele Bachmann is known to run away from other people screaming? This is apparently totally normal “Michele” behavior, who’d have guessed!

Conservative gossip tabloid The Daily Caller got the dirt from three anonymous people “close to Bachmann” saying she gobbles pills all day long, has, uh, “episodes” and mysterious insane “headaches” that require hospitalization when she gets stressed out, all of which she blames on those constant communications from outerspace wearing high heels.

All of this sounds so predictably close to the cartoonish vision of Michele Bachmann that most sane people already entertain when they think of this harpie dingbat that we are asking, is this really news? Oh right, she wants to be president. READ MORE »

Monday, July 18, 2011

Anonymous releases Rebekah Brooks’ email address and password

The Independent (UK)

Online activism group Anonymous has released a host of email addresses and passwords it claims belong to senior News International executives past and present, including the company’s embattled former chief Rebekah Brooks. The hackers said that they also have a collection of emails stolen from News International servers, which they say they are “sitting on”.

The hackers said that “anyone who can find (Ms Brooks') webmail account” could use the details to access her emails. In an attack apparently linked to the phone hacking scandal currently engulfing News International, the hackers also defaced The Sun’s website, redirecting visitors to a fake site, running spoof stories that News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch had been found dead.

The group released details it said belong to The Sun’s Editorial Manager for online content, Danny Rogers; former News of the World Managing Editor Bill Akass and another it claimed was a Sun staff-member, but whose identity could not be verified as of Monday night. It also released mobile phone numbers of three people it said were News International staff.

And in a further twist, one of the hackers responsible for the attack warned that media outlets, until now protected from attack, would become targets.............

Metallica - One

Metallica - Ride The Lightning (Live - Gothenburg, Sweden) - MetOnTour

Metallica - Am I Evil? (Live - Knebworth, UK) - MetOnTour

Media Matters Daily Summary 07-18-2011

Conservative Media Misled Light Bulb Consumers At Least 40 Times In 7 Months
In at least 40 instances since the beginning of 2011, conservative media outlets wrongly told consumers that the light bulb efficiency standards scheduled to take effect in 2012 will require them to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Read More

Right-Wing Media Cheerlead Default To Defeat Obama In 2012
Recently, right-wing media figures have advised congressional Republicans to refuse to compromise in the debt ceiling debate, even allowing the country to default, because, they argue, the consequences of a default could hurt President Obama in 2012. Economists agree that there could be severe consequences to the economy if the debt ceiling is not raised. Read More

Fox & Friends Spreads Slew Of Economic Falsehoods
Co-hosts and guests on Fox & Friends advanced numerous economic falsehoods, including the claims that half of Americans "don't pay any tax"; that President Obama wants to fix the deficit only by increasing taxes; that most Americans do not favor tax increases as part of a deficit deal; and that Obama wants to "use the rich to fix his spending problem."
Read More

Fox News Lobbies For Balanced Budget Amendment That Economic Experts Say Would Hurt The Economy
Fox News has aggressively supported a Republican plan to add a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. However, progressive and conservative experts alike have made clear that a balanced budget amendment would make future recessions worse and damage the current recovery. Read More

Big Government Downplays Concern Over Default Despite Warnings From Experts
A post on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government website downplayed concerns that the federal government could default if the debt ceiling is not raised by August 2, claiming that "the whole 'crisis' is as phony as a $3 Federal Reserve note." However, experts agree that if the U.S. were to default as a result of not raising the debt ceiling, it could have significant negative effects on the economy. Read More

Club For Growth To GOPers: Trigger A Default, Or Else!


To understand why Republicans won't raise the debt limit until after they hold a symbolic vote on a plan to squeeze the government down to a size that would require it to gut popular entitlement programs, it's important to realize it's not just because of the political perks. Powerful conservative interest groups are demanding they vote for it. And at the same time they're warning the GOP against voting for the only viable option currently on the table for avoiding a catastrophic debt default.

"Cut, Cap, and Balance will fix our fiscal mess. The McConnell-Reid plan does not," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement accompanying an alert that these votes will be counted on the group's scorecard. "McConnell-Reid simply punts our budget problem further down the road and is everything that's wrong with Washington. Congress has proven that they are unable to balance the budget without reform. Cut, Cap and Balance is the only plan that permanently handcuffs politicians from spending more money than they take in."

If you're a Republican, voting for Plan B means you're that much likelier to face a primary. By holding the test votes on Cut, Cap, and Balance, and the Balanced Budget Amendment, they can at least meet the Club for Growth, and similar groups half way.

Oklahoma Gov. Now Favors Rick Perry’s ‘Tell God To Fix It’ Crisis Policy

Lately God has been shooting firestorms at the wingnuts in the American South like a furious undersexed teenager holding a paintball gun, something that has left wingnuts a little confused.

Republican governors are the most mystified of all about this turn of events, because they are being asked to show something called “leadership in times of crisis,” which they have always put in the “God’s job” column of their state task lists. Republicans handle election campaigns and tax cuts and Kochsucking, that is what is on their list.

But to make this clearer, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin is the latest GOP governor to join Rick Perry in formally asking God “what the hell?” Fallin has a declared a public day of prayer on Sunday saying, “do a rain dance everybody.” Oh hey, Rick Perry tried that, but God didn’t listen. Will God be more impressed with Oklahoma’s prayers? READ MORE »

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Has Roger Ailes Hacked American Phones for Fox News?


That’s how began a post back in 2008, when a former Fox News executive charged that Ailes had outfitted a highly secured “brain room” in Fox’s New York headquarters for “counterintelligence” and may have used it to hack into private phone records.

All this week people have been looking for links between the Murdoch empire’s burgeoning phone-hacking scandal in Britain and News Corp.’s sprawling political/communications juggernaut in the United States. The links so far include a former New York City cop alleging that Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World offered to pay him to hack into 9/11 victims’ phone records, and a News Corp. US shareholders’ suit in Delaware already targeting the company for nepotism adding British phone hacking as evidence of a corporate culture “run amuck.”

But rumors have floated in the press and on the Internet about possible phone hacking in that special-security-clearance-only bunker at Fox HQ for years.

Dan Cooper was one of the people who helped create the Fox News channel with Roger Ailes, and was fired in 1996. In 2008, Cooper wrote on his website that David Brock (now head of Media Matters) had used him as an anonymous, on-background-only source for an Ailes profile he was writing for New York magazine. Before the piece was published, on November 17, 1997, Cooper claims that his talent agent, Richard Leibner, told him he had received a call from Ailes, who identified Cooper as a source, and insisted that Leibner drop him as a client--or any client reels Leibner sent Fox would pile up in a corner and gather dust. Cooper continued:

“I made the connections. Ailes knew I had given Brock the interview. Certainly Brock didn’t tell him. Of course. Fox News had gotten Brock’s telephone records from the phone company, and my phone number was on the list. Deep in the bowels of 1211 Avenue of the Americas, News Corporation’s New York headquarters, was what Roger called the Brain Room. Most people thought it was simply the research department of Fox News. But unlike virtually everybody else, because I had to design and build the Brain Room, I knew it also housed a counterintelligence and black ops office. So accessing phone records was easy pie.”

Media writer Jeff Bercovici, then at Conde Nast’s short-lived Portfolio, was skeptical of such claims, writing in early 2008 that Cooper was massively “disgruntled” (which appears to be true) and that “potentially the most explosive among Cooper’s many lurid claims, assuming anyone believes them” arose from his phone-records allegation. “A Fox News spokeswoman says there’s no truth to the claim that the network has the capability to snoop through phone records,” Bercovici noted, adding, “Leibner says it’s ‘not true’ and that he didn’t fire Cooper as a client.”

Cooper’s long post, called “Naked Launch,” which also served as a book proposal, is as much about him as it is about Fox News.

Tim Dickinson relays Cooper’s description of the brain room (though he doesn’t mention anything about phone records) in his fascinating piece on Ailes that ran in Rolling Stone two months ago. “In a separate facility on the same subterranean floor,” Dickenson writes, “Ailes created an in-house research unit–-known at Fox News as the ‘brain room’–-that requires special security clearance to gain access. ‘The brain room is where Willie Horton comes from,’ says Cooper, who helped design its specs. `It’s where the evil resides.’ ”

“If that sounds paranoid,” Dickinson adds, “consider the man Ailes brought in to run the brain room: Scott Ehrlich.” Ehrlich “had taken over the lead on Big Tobacco’s campaign to crush health care reform when Ailes signed on with CNBC.”......................