Imagine a world in which Americans weren’t remotely as susceptible to media manipulation as they currently are. Let’s call it “America 2.” In such a world, Americans would be more disposed to “think for themselves,” as we say, to think just a bit critically about the images and sound bites to which they are bombarded daily. The measured skepticism with which they would treat the media, especially its coverage of politics, would cultivate within them intellectual and moral virtues that, in reality, are sorely lacking among a good portion of the electorate. In this possible world, Americans would be far more fortified against intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy than are their counterparts in the real world.

 

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich earned at least $1.6 million between 1999 and 2007 in "consulting" fees from mortgage giant Freddie Mac, Bloomberg News reported November 16, even as Gingrich acknowledged for the first time that he had a larger consulting role than as a staff historian. The figure was more than five times the previously reported amount.

Gingrich, asked how he earned some $300,000 in consulting fees with Freddie Mac in a November 9 presidential debate, said his role was to offer advice as an "historian." Moreover, Gingrich denied acting as a lobbyist and claimed to advise the mortgage giant to end their practice of guaranteeing sub-prime mortgages. Freddie Mac and its sister organization, chartered by Congress, fueled the housing bubble in the last decade. "My advice," Gingrich said in that debate, "I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible."

The Bloomberg report countered Gingrich's debate claims about his dissent from Freddie Mac's policies. "None of the former Freddie Mac officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Gingrich raised the issue of the housing bubble or was critical of Freddie Mac’s business model." Gingrich told Bloomberg that he "offered them [Freddie Mac] advice on precisely what they didn’t do," but it's unclear during which stint as a counselor Gingrich offered this advice, if he offered the advice at all. Gingrich worked for Freddie Mac as a consultant from 1999-2002 and 2006-07 and his consulting firm, The Gingrich Group, earned between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees.

Newt Gingrich's lucrative $300,000 consulting contract with mortgage giant Freddie Mac in 2006 — during the height of the housing bubble it was fueling — was geared toward stopping Republican support for new restraints on the guarantee of sub-prime mortgages, according to a November 15 report by Bloomberg News.

The controversy went public again during the CNBC debate November 9, when CNBC Host John Harwood asked Gingrich: "Your firm was paid $300,000 by Freddie Mac in 2006. What did you do for that money?"

Gingrich responded by denying he'd been a paid "lobbyist":

I have never done any lobbying. Every contract was written during the period when I was out of the office, specifically said I would do no lobbying, and I offered advice. And my advice as a historian, when they walked in and said to me, "We are now making loans to people who have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that's what the government wants us to do," as I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible.

Of course, Harwood hadn't accused Gingrich of lobbying, and had only asked what he had done to earn the $300,000 contract. By knocking down the lobbying straw-man argument, Gingrich hoped to end the issue. But his "historian" remark only made those in the press more curious about what he'd done to earn this very substantial paycheck.

Writing in Business Week, Hans Nichols announced that with the improvement in the economy President Obama’s chances for reelection in 2012 are improving as well.  He noted that the unemployment rate fell last month (from 9.1 percent to 9.0 percent) while unemployment claims dropped (by 10,000). And the outplacement firm of Challenger Gray & Christmas noted that government layoffs have slowed as well. Then he reviewed several different polls that showed improvement in President Obama’s ratings (each still below 50 percent), and then concluded that this mass of positive data is improving the president’s “political prospects.”

 

A recent CNN/Opinion Research Poll has placed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich near the top of the polls, just behind frontrunner Mitt Romney, while a Public Policy Polling Survey shows Gingrich ahead of Romney. The results were somewhat surprising, as Gingrich has ranked extremely low in past polls, but seem to prove what The New American’s Thomas Eddlem predicted would be the next trend of the GOP presidential race. According to Eddlem, despite Romney’s steady frontrunner status, the GOP is not entirely enthralled with him and is on a never-ending quest for an alternative. It began first with Perry, followed by Cain, and now as the polls prove, it appears to be Gingrich.

According to CNN’s poll, Gingrich has garnered 22 percent of the vote, with Romney at 24 percent, Cain at 14 percent and Perry sitting at 12 percent. That same poll reveals that more Republicans agree with Gingrich on the issues, 76 percent, than with Rick Perry (53 percent), Mitt Romney (70 percent), or Herman Cain (61 percent).

According to the Public Policy Poll, however, Gingrich is comfortably ahead of Romney, with 28 percent support, while Romney earned just 18 percent. In that same poll, Cain earns 25 percent of the support.

The real scandal in the accusations against Herman Cain is the corruption of the law, the media and politics.  Let's start with the law. Some people may think the fact that the National Restaurant Association reportedly paid $45,000 to settle a claim made by one of its employees against Mr. Cain is incriminating.

Most of us are not going to part with 45 grand without some serious reason. But that is very different from the situation of an organization in the present legal climate.

The figure $45,000 struck a chord with me because, some years ago, my wife — who is an attorney — was fervently congratulated when her client had to pay "only" $45,000 in a jury award when the plaintiff was demanding a million dollars, in a case that was as frivolous a lawsuit as you could find.

The person who was suing was a drunk driver, whose car went out of control and slammed into a tree. After the sheriff's deputies arrested her, she sued them on dubious charges, and the sheriff's department was glad it had to pay "only" $45,000.

Despite being all but ignored or even outright maligned by much of the “establishment” media as recently as this past weekend’s CBS Republican debate, a new Bloomberg poll found GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul close to the top in the key state of Iowa.

According to the survey, the liberty-minded Dr. Paul is essentially tied with Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich in a four-way race. With about a four-percent plus or minus margin of error, 20 percent of likely caucus goers said they supported Cain, followed by Paul at 19 percent. Support for Romney was at 18 percent, while Gingrich came in at 17 percent.

The survey results provided even more encouraging data for Paul backers: His supporters are the most committed of any candidate’s. Paul actually leads in the poll among respondents who said their minds were made up — one-third of pro-Paul supporters say they won't change their minds. Less than 17 percent of Cain supporters, meanwhile, said their decision was final. 

With two-thirds of poll respondents saying they had been reached by his campaign, Paul is also leading in the number of Iowa voters contacted. And among voters who supported the Texas Congressman in 2008, about 70 percent are still backing him. Romney, by comparison, barely held on to 40 percent of his supporters from the last election.

The U.S. Supreme Court approved a petition on Monday to hear arguments in cases challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare.  The court granted certiorari (a petition submitted requesting that the court hear an appeal from a lower appeals court) in three of the several cases currently filed against the U.S. government. The announcement by the court indicates that the justices have set aside five and one-half hours to hear oral arguments from the parties.
 
 

The mainstream media is maintaining its reputation for deliberately providing minimal coverage to Texas Congressman Ron Paul during the GOP presidential debates. On Saturday, November 12, Paul — though he remains in the top tier of the Republican contenders — received a total of 89 seconds of coverage in the entire hour-long televised portion of the debate.

 

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee overwhelming approved a bill that would overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman. The 10-8 vote in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), marks the first time a committee in either the Senate or the House has voted to repeal the 17-year-old law, and represents a major step toward federal approval of homosexual marriage.

“Because of DOMA, thousands of American families are now being treated unfairly by the federal government,” declared Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “This unfairness must end.” But Republicans on the committee, reported Politico.com, “noting that the bill faces bleak prospects for passing the full Congress, said the measure was a waste of time and the matter should be left up to the states.” Thus far, Iowa, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, along with the District of Columbia, have passed state laws recognizing homosexual “marriage.”

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, pointed out that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would never allow the controversial bill to come to the Senate floor for a vote, given that the Democrats’ control of the Senate will be on the line in the 2012 elections. “Were he to schedule a vote on this bill before the next election, he would face a revolution in his own caucus,” Cornyn said.

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