Earlier today, Karl Frisch highlighted the interest of Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy in buying Newsweek. While Newsmax makes rich Republicans its target demographic -- according to Talkers magazine, 20 percent of its readership claims a net worth of $1 million or more -- it likely doesn't throw off enough money for Ruddy to purchase Newsweek without help.
Enter Richard Mellon Scaife.
Scaife, that longtime right-wing sugar daddy, has been Ruddy's benefactor for well over a decade, since Ruddy brought his Clinton conspiracy-mongering to the Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. When Ruddy started Newsmax in 1997, Scaife was among the original investors, and by 2002 he was the third-largest shareholder. Today, all the other shareholders have been bought out, and Scaife and Ruddy are the sole owners of Newsmax, with Ruddy holding a majority stake.
Ruddy and Scaife purchasing Newsweek is not as far-fetched as it sounds, actually. Newsmax already publishes a monthly magazine that, despite an unmistakable rightward tilt, is professionally designed. A Ruddy-operated Newsweek would likely look much as it does now -- but would definitely have a lot more right-wing content, with an additional focus (like its current magazine has) on two other areas of Newsmax interest, money and health. It may also give a bigger platform for longtime Ruddy buddy (and failed prognosticator) Dick Morris, who has a history of helping Ruddy shill for Newsmax' financial products.
If, say, George Soros had expressed interest in buying Newsweek, Fox News wouldn't be able to report on anything else for days. But two right-wing political activists looking into obtaining the number-two weekly newsmagazine is raising barely a ripple.
UPDATE: Newsmax has confirmed that it has made a bid for Newsweek, adding that if it succeeds in obtaining the magazine, "Newsweek would continue in its mission to objectively report the news and provide analysis from a wide spectrum of perspectives."
Newsmax financial-scheme spokesman Dick Morris turned his unique (read: incorrect) brand of political analysis to the results of Tuesday's election contests, making the observation that Sens. Arlen Specter and Blanche Lincoln, by the unfavorable results of their races, "are now reaping the harvest of their votes for healthcare."
That analysis might make sense if their Democratic primary opponents had made their votes for health care reform an issue in the election. But they didn't.
Lincoln's main opponent in the Arkansas primary, Bill Halter -- whom she will face off against in a June runoff after neither candidate got a majority of the vote -- not only supported health care reform but also claimed that Lincoln didn't do enough to improve the bill:
Congress and the President have done the right thing by reforming health care -- although I would also have supported a bill that would have allowed the public to buy into a system that would have also provided more competition and choice.
While the bill wasn't perfect, and it could have been improved with more decisive action instead of only-in-Washington tactics, it will prevent people from being denied health care insurance due to pre-existing conditions and it will begin to provide more than 450,000 uninsured Arkansans the health care they need.
We need to continue to make progress on health care – and that means standing up to the insurance industry and special interests who like the system the way it is. I supported the bill Congress recently passed to rein in health care costs and reduce our national debt. And it helps our seniors who need it most by ending the donut hole in prescription drug coverage and improving Medicare solvency. But Blanche Lincoln sided with the insurance companies and HMOs who gave her campaign more than $800,000 and voted against this effort to make health care reforms even better.
The man who defeated Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Rep. Joe Sestak, voted for the same reform bill Specter did, saying, "With this legislation, Congress is finally tackling the problem of ever-increasing health care costs and health insurance that doesn't protect those enrolled in plans from this growing burden."
It's hard for Lincoln and Specter to be "reaping the harvest of their votes for healthcare" when their primary opponents also supported it.
Undaunted, Morris went on to make this bold prediction about those races in the November election: "The new Senator from Pennsylvania will be Republican nominee Pat Toomey and from Arkansas it will be republican Congressman John Boozman."
Given Morris' abysmal history of political predictions, Toomey and Boozman might not want to rush to pack their bags just yet.
From an April 21 e-mail from Newsmax.com:
Would you consider taking a job with a government agency that does the following:
- Unnecessarily strikes fear into the hearts of tens of millions of your fellow citizens, causing such anguish and despair that some are driven to suicide each year
- Requires citizens to know 10 million words of rules and regulations because the failure to do so may result in draconian fines and even jail, while at the same time no one in the agency has a full understanding of all the rules and regulations it requires others to know
- Routinely ignores the constitutional protections against self-incrimination and the right to the presumption of innocence
- Seizes the assets of citizens without obtaining court judgments
- Penalizes marriage
- Discriminates against many of the nation's most productive citizens
- Destroys incentives to work, save and invest, and undermines job creation
- Routinely protects agency personnel who have engaged in citizen intimidation, misrepresentation or worse
No, I am not referring to the Nazi SS or the Soviet KGB, but the IRS, which is guilty of all of the above and more.
It is, of course, true that no one loves the tax collector and that taxes are the price we pay for a civil society. But, as with anything else, there are proper and improper taxes and tax collection procedures and methods.
According to news accounts, attacks and threats against IRS personnel are rising, and unfortunately, this trend is likely to continue until there is a fundamental change in our tax laws and collection methods.
People who do not have access to the media and cannot afford expensive tax lawyers sometimes reach such a level of frustration with the IRS that they resort to violent or irrational behavior.
IRS officials and workers will say the tax code is not their fault, and they are only doing their jobs.
It is unambiguously true that the tax code and IRS are creatures of Congress, with all of its self-dealing, corruption, ignorance, and incompetence. But it also is true, and was made explicit at the Nuremberg trials, that those who carry out orders that they know to be wrong or should know to be wrong are not absolved of personal responsibility.
From a March 26 Newsmax column by Dick Morris:
Scott Murphy of New York, Suzanne Kosmas and Alan Boyd of Florida, Betsy Markey of Colorado, and Dennis Kucinich and John Boccieri of Ohio -- a partial list of the traitors who switched their votes in the House from no to yes on Obamacare.
Another, Bart Gordon of Tennessee voted no when running for re-election and then switched to yes when he retired rather than face defeat, so he is beyond our reach.
We need to make a point of defeating these traitors in 2010! That is what democracy is for.
We know who they are. We know where their districts are located. And we will all come looking for them in November.
These deceitful men and women voted no when their votes didn't count in November of 2009, seeking to fool us into believing that they had our interests at heart. But, when push came to shove and their votes counted, they switched and ran their true colors up the flagpole and voted yes.
Morris' column links to a page on the Newsmax website that accepts donations to the League of American Voters, for which Morris is the chief strategist. Morris did not disclose his relationship with the group in his column.
From a March 14 Newsmax column by Richard Grenell, who "served as the spokesman for the last four ambassadors to the United Nations -- John Negroponte, John Danforth, John Bolton, and Zalmay Khalilzad":
If President Barack Obama gets his trillion dollar healthcare bill passed this week by the Democrats in Congress, parents will be required to pay for their unmarried kids' healthcare coverage until the age of 26.
And Generation Y will be enticed to continue slacking, without a job, well past college graduation. While ski bums everywhere are cheering the news that the federal government will be forcing parents to pay for their health insurance through age 26, parents are questioning why the federal government is enticing a whole generation to stay unemployed.
America has always been a place where hard work is rewarded regardless of one's age, family status or educational background. If you have an idea you are committed to and make sacrifices to further the idea, you can be wildly successful in our capitalistic system.
In America, you can launch a multi-billion dollar computer company from your garage, you can grow up homeless and make it to Harvard and you can create a worldwide social networking movement while still in college.
But you can also be a slacker if you have the means to slack. Spending a year skiing, hanging out on the beach and surfing or traveling the world are options for the few lucky ones who have parents wealthy enough to pay for such endeavors.
But should the U.S. government encourage college kids to become slackers? Does Generation Y need any more encouragement to feel entitled? And should society guarantee a 5-year hiatus from responsibility after college graduation for millions of college kids?
While it is true that many college graduates today will be self-motivated to find a career, make their own money and contribute to society, Generation Y has been the most entitled generation in history. Should the American taxpayer tempt these kids further into believing that the American dream is easy to fulfill?
Obama's healthcare bill is being celebrated on the slopes of Colorado and the surf shacks of California but is a dangerous precedent for future generations.
One could understand extending another entitlement program through age 26 in countries where the average workweek is 30 hours per week and vacation time is guaranteed at 8-10 weeks per year. But is this new proposal anti-American? We aren't supposed to reward people who don't work hard and make sacrifices to get ahead. And we aren't supposed to guarantee anything in America but a fair shot. America is a place where you prove your commitment to your family and your community through hard work and sacrifice. It is this ethic that we call American values.
It seems we spoke too soon.
Last week, we wrote that it appeared Newsmax had dumped Pamela Geller as a columnist, presumably in response to her repeated hateful rhetoric. But Geller has since published a new column at Newsmax, this time on the Rifqa Bary case.
This means it's clear that Newsmax has no problem with Geller's anti-Muslim hate-fest at CPAC a couple weeks ago or, apparently, with very little of the hate she spews. The column in which she smears President Obama as "jihad-enabling" and "President L-dopa," which Newsmax had deleted, remains off the website, however (it's still in Google cache).
Newsmax needs to explain why -- after dumping a columnist who advocated a military coup against Obama -- it continues to provide space to a writer whose hateful rantings it has had to remove at least once before.
Ronald Kessler, Newsmax's chief Washington correspondent, is nothing if not a committed conservative (perhaps a little too committed, if Kessler's creepy fixation on Mitt Romney's wife is any indication). So it's not surprising that one of his favorite sources is American Conservative Union president David Keene. Kessler has repeatedly provided Keene a platform for his views.
It's a relationship that recently paid off for Kessler. At February's Conservative Political Action Conference -- operated by Keene's ACU -- Kessler received the inaugural Robert Novak Journalist of the Year Award. The award, which was voted on by the 96 co-sponsors of CPAC, was presented by Keene himself. During his acceptance speech, Kessler asserted that Fox News "really is fair and balanced," which also shows just how committed a conservative he is.
Kessler reciprocated by penning a pair of fawning articles about CPAC. This was followed up by a March 1 article in which Kessler provided Keene with a platform yet again, this time to rebut complaints that CPAC isn't conservative enough, as allegedly evidenced by allowing the gay group GOProud to participate. "Keene sees the divergent views as being emblematic of the conservative movement and a sign of its health," Kessler wrote. He didn't mention, however, that he had just received an award from CPAC.
Kessler goes on to note that Keene "becomes president of the National Rifle Association in May of next year, in addition to heading the ACU." Look for Kessler to write a lot more about guns in the near future.
"Fatal Attraction," the Washington version is playing on a television near you as Obama's bipartisan summit on healthcare approaches. Like a possessed, rejected maniac the president refuses to allow the idea of a massive restructuring of our healthcare system to fade.
You're just not that into his healthcare bill? Too bad. He won't be ignored.
Obama is hoping that by rebranding and reworking the old, rejected versions of the House and Senate bill into an even scarier narrative coupled with a televised meeting, the pressure will be so intense that he can kidnap the handful of Republican votes he needs to catapult this monstrosity over the finish line.
To get our attention, Democrats attempted legislative suicide. After laying low, they're back again, and like any prey dealing with a psycho, Republicans are nervous.
They understand that this is a carefully calculated public relations gimmick designed to force their hand. They know that if they don't show up, the images of empty chairs across the table from their caucus will be used, repeatedly, to paint them as unwilling to govern and to target them in campaign ads as obstructionists. Forget alerting the wife, the White House is going to out your bad behavior on C-SPAN. In other words: this is blackmail, Beltway style.
Like any concerned observer frightened for my friend's life, as well as my own, I urged Republicans to set some terms and not accept the invitation to the president's gathering unless he agreed to start over. Apparently, Mr. Obama was in favor of a second chance for the relationship and demonstrated his willingness by crafting a more expensive and politically explosive version of the first health care bill -- just on his own terms (so much for bipartisanship).
With each passing week that the president ignores jobs, choosing to focus on his obsession and an unprecedented legislative trick to stalk the public into a submitting to a relationship they don't want, the more he looks like a lunatic who has escaped the asylum, just waiting to surprise you outside your window, in the rain on your fire escape until you relent.
What has become evident to everyone except the Democratic leadership is that the American majority has no interest in a relationship so dysfunctional, so unstable, so completely unhealthy.
Obama has stumbled many times trying to get his way. Act Two of heath care reform might be his biggest mistake on the issue yet. In an effort to hit a button to reset the process, he might have hit the one that just blew it up. Like any good horror film, the element that's most despised just won't die. Let's hope we can finish health care off before anyone gets hurt.
Earlier this week, Media Matters' Christine Schwen detailed the virulent Muslim-bashing at CPAC's "Jihad: The Political Third Rail" event, co-hosted by Pamela Geller and featuring one speaker's assertion that "[r]ape is also a part of" Muslims' efforts to convert non-Muslims in Europe and that and that "[d]emocracy is being deliberately removed" from the European Union by "incorporating Muslim countries of North Africa and the Middle East in the European Union." (Not to mention Geller's own charming description of Umar Abdulmutallab as "the Christmas balls bomber.")
It's worth mentioning that Geller has been a columnist at Newsmax for the past several months, where she regularly spewed her anti-Muslim and anti-Obama venom. Newsmax, you may recall, has had some issues in recent months with columnists going a bit over the top -- advocating a military coup against Obama, calling for a allegedly figurative "tenting" of the White House to kill the "varmints" inside, etc. -- prompting some hasty column deletions.
We were going to ask if Geller's CPAC hate-fest was acceptable to Newsmax, but it seems that question has already been answered. The latest Geller column in the Newsmax archive is from February 10 -- which means it removed a February 16 column in which Geller smeared Obama as a "weakling," "jihad-enabling," and, finally, "President L-dopa" because "Obama is to American people what L-Dopa was to Oliver Sacks' patients." (Here's the Newsmax column in Google cache, and here's a version of it at Big Government, which apparently has no problem with Geller's vicious insults.)
Anyone familiar with Geller's long record of inflammatory comments could have seen this outcome as inevitable. The question is why Newsmax believed that such hatred deserved to be enshrined in a column on its website in the first place.
The upcoming Newsmax cruise features the usual suspects as its "guest speakers" -- Christopher Ruddy, Dick Morris and Ronald Kessler among them. One name caught our eye, though: James Humes, who will give a talk about Winston Churchill.
Last March, Humes wrote a Newsmax column in which he asserted that President Obama said of a bust of Churchill in the Oval Office, "Get that goddam thing out of here." In fact, there's no credible record of Obama ever saying such a thing. Humes anted up with an ugly smear suggesting that Obama "took umbrage at Prime Minister Churchill's actions in 1953 of wiping out the Mau-Mau, the Kenyan terrorists who made a specialty of slitting throats of sleeping white and Black Kenyans."
After the fabrication was caught, Humes' column was quietly altered to concede that "the story was never fully substantiated, despite frequent repetition on radio talk shows." But Humes offered no evidence that any radio talk show forwarded the claim at all, let alone did so "frequently." (The Mau-Mau smear, meanwhile, remains intact.)
It says a lot about Newsmax that it has rewarded the purveyor of this kind of hate and mendacity with the honor of being a "guest speaker" on its cruise.
From NewsMax.com's January 31 "Insider Report":
1. 'Draft Kudlow' Movement Picking Up Steam
A rising voice is calling for CNBC talk host and supply-side economist Larry Kudlow to challenge liberal New York Sen. Chuck Schumer in this year's election.
And Kudlow said he is going to give a possible run "careful consideration."
Newsmax first disclosed that Kudlow could have political aspirations back in March 2009, reporting that he was mulling a bid for Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd's Senate seat from Connecticut. Kudlow announced several weeks later that he wasn't running.
But on Jan. 20, Newsmax reported that "the New York political scene is buzzing with talk of a movement to draft Larry Kudlow" to run as a Republican challenger to Schumer.
Several media outlets cited and/or linked to the Newsmax story in the days that followed, including Politico and The Village Voice in New York.
Then on Sunday, Jan. 24, the Buffalo News reported that Michael Caputo, who served as a speechwriter for Rep. Jack Kemp, is leading an online movement to draft Kudlow for the race, and has set up a Web site at www.draftkudlow.com.
"No one in New York State deserves to stay home more than Chuck Schumer, and I really believe Larry Kudlow is the one person who can send him home," he told the newspaper.
And Caputo told Newsmax: "It's time for Chuck Schumer to be sent packing."
Kudlow has served as chief economist for several Wall Street firms, and was an economics adviser to President Ronald Reagan. He now runs his own economics research firm, hosts CNBC's "The Kudlow Report" and "The Call" programs, and hosts "The Larry Kudlow Show" on WABC Radio on Saturdays.
Caputo and his group aim to collect 100,000 signatures online to help convince Kudlow to enter the Senate race.
Here is the actual headline from an actual story about an actual poll:
Newsmax/Zogby Poll: Scott Brown Could Defeat Obama in Presidential Race
Thus, we have a right-wing hotbed of inflammatory anti-Obama rhetoric -- remember the call for a military coup against Obama? -- teaming up with what poll maven Nate Silver describes as "the worst pollster in the world."
A week ago, Zogby didn't think Brown could defeat Martha Coakley. Now he's claiming Brown might be able to beat Obama?
These two deserve each other, it seems.
After Anti-Defamation League (ADL) national director Abraham Foxman criticized Rush Limbaugh for his January 20 statement that "a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish. So I wonder if there's starting to be some buyer's remorse there" -- remarks Limbaugh later lied to defend -- the right-wing media has rushed to defend Limbaugh and to attack Foxman. Foxman has been smeared as a "terrible Jew" and a "plague on his people," and described as a "disgusting, craven little twerp."
On January 24, Dick Morris wrote an article for Newsmax entitled "Pelosi and Reid Plot Secret Plan for Obamacare," and Fox Nation linked to it under the headline "Exclusive: Reid & Pelosi's Secret Plot to Pass Obamacare":
According to Morris, he found out through "highly informed sources on Capitol Hill" that Democratic leadership has a "plan to sneak Obamacare through Congress." Morris reveals that this is a "secret" two part plan. First, the House will pass the Senate's health care bill, despite ideological differences. Next, Congress will modify the bill after passage through a Senate process called "reconciliation" which requires a simple majority vote in the Senate and is not subject to filibusters. Morris claims that through putting pressure on "a core group of 23 Democratic Congressman," this "secret" plot can be averted.
Morris is correct that this is one plan that has been floated as a possibility for passing health care reform, but his assertion that this is a "secret" plot between Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid is laughable considering that this very approach to passing health care reform has been reported on extensively by left-wing blogs, right-wing blogs, and the mainstream media since the election of Scott Brown in Massachusett's January 19 special election. For instance, here's CBS on January 22:
Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate special election essentially obliterated any chance Democrats in the Senate had at passing a revised health care reform bill. In the wake of that blow to Democrats, two options for passing reform have emerged:
One option would be for House Democrats to pass the Senate bill -- on the condition that Democrats would make revisions to the legislation through a separate "fix it" bill passed in the Senate via reconciliation (a procedural step that only requires a 51-vote majority).
The Baltimore Sun on January 21:
Democratic leaders are still exploring whether the House could pass the health care bill approved by the Senate just before Christmas, obviating the need for another vote on major health care legislation in the Senate, where Democrats would no longer be able overcome a Republican filibuster.
The two chambers could then take up a separate package of changes to the Senate bill through a process known as budget reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority in the Senate.
The New York Times on January 21:
Another option considered by Democrats would be to use the procedural maneuver known as reconciliation to pass chunks of the health care bill attached to a budget measure, which requires only a simple majority.
You get the point.