An April 15 column by Morris attacked a plan to move away from the Electoral College and toward a popular vote to elect the president as a scheme to elect Republicans:
Why are Democrats pushing this plan?
Democrats usually see a smaller percentage of their people go to the polls than Republicans do.
Under the electoral vote system, they figure why beat the drums to get a high turnout in New York City when the state will go Democrat anyway? But, if its the popular vote that matters, the big city machines can do their thing -- with devastating impact.
And think of the chances for voter fraud! Right now, the biggest cities, the ones most firmly in Democratic control (e.g. Washington DC, New York, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, etc.) are all solidly in blue states. Not only does this make it unnecessary to maximize turnouts there, but it also makes it unnecessary to promote double voting, fraudulent voting, and all the other tricks of the trade at which Democrats excel.
But if the popular vote determines who will be the next president, we can bet that the machines will be out in force lining up voters, real and phony, to pad their statistics.
This was followed by an April 20 article by Todd Beamon touting how "Conservatives and leading liberals slammed the campaign to effectively end the Electoral College's role in presidential elections, saying that the National Popular Vote Compact Law circumvents the Constitution, saying it resembled President Barack Obama's abuse of the law through his extensive use of executive orders." Beamon added that Morris "charged in an exclusive Newsmax column that the effort is ripe for voter fraud and would guarantee that Democrats win the White House every four years."
But we don't recall Morris having anything to say about a Republican attempt to change the Electoral College. Last year, Republicans in Pennsylvania tried to change the electoral vote there from a winner-take-all system to one apportioned by the vote in congressional districts, which would create more Republican electoral votes.
That's vote-rigging at least as egregious as what he claims the popular-vote plan does. What's his position on it?
Newsmax publisher Christopher Ruddy has become a good buddy of former President Clinton, so it became a bit of an issue when Newsmax radio host Steve Malzberg went on a tirade about Chelsea Clinton's pregnancy on his April 17 show:
Pardon the skeptic in me ... but what great timing! I mean, purely accidental, purely an act of nature, purely just left up to God. And God answered Hillary Clinton's prayers and she going to have the prop of being a new grandma while she runs for president. It just warms the heart. It brings a tear to my eye. It really does. Wow!
It was enough of an issue that Newsmax distanced itself from the words of its employee in a statement to Mediaite: "Steve Malzberg’s comments were intended to be humorous not hurtful. They were clearly inappropriate and do not reflect the views of Newsmax."
Strangely, there's no mention of the Malzberg controversy on the Newsmax website, even though it did publish a clip of the Media Research Center's Tim Graham complaining that "Chelsea Clinton's pregnancy proves Democrats get royal treatment while Republicans are snubbed."
Newsmax's Hirsen Tries To Portray 'Noah' As A Failure Topic: Newsmax
"Noah" was the biggest-grossing movie in the country on its opening weekend, so Newsmax's James Hirsen had to figure out a different way to attack it. His answer in his March 31 column: Market research!
The much-talked about, biblically questionable big-screen release “Noah” finished its debut weekend with a better than expected $44 million in box-office take. But when it comes to the movie’s long-term success, there are some dark clouds lurking on the horizon.
CinemaScore is a highly regarded market research firm that polls film audiences and rates their viewing experiences with letter grades. The firm reports its results and forecasts box-office receipts based on data collected.
CinemaScore’s representatives routinely survey opening-day audiences in 25 of the largest movie markets in North America to determine a grade ranging from A+ to F for the respective film. Most movies receive a minimum of “B+” as a CinemaScore grade, with anything less being cause for concern for the studio and filmmakers involved.
The controversial “Noah,” which was delivered to the screen by Paramount and director Darren Aronofsky, received a dismal CinemaScore of “C” from moviegoers.
Despite the buoyant box-office showing, the “C” CinemaScore rating seriously jeopardizes the movie’s chances in the all-important weeks to come.
If “Noah” should take a precipitous fall in the weeks to come, it may turn out to be an unprofitable venture for Paramount. According to the studio, the budget for the movie was $125 million, a relatively modest number for a current studio blockbuster.
However, several reports indicate that a significant additional sum was spent on marketing and distribution, so it remains to be seen whether the movie will be in the black months from now.
Well, perhaps not. Box Office Mojo notes that "Noah" is very popular outside the U.S. -- as of this writing, it has taken in $73.6 million in the U.S. but more than $106 million overseas for a total gross of $179.8 million. That means the film has made back its production costs and at least a part of its marketing in less than two weeks of release.
Newsmax Columnists Come to Pollard's Defense Topic: Newsmax
WorldNetDaily is not the only place where Jonathan Pollard apologists have come out of the woodwork.
An April 1 Newsmax article promotes the views of one apologist:
The U.S. government's release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is justified, says prominent attorney Alan Dershowitz.
"You have to remember that he made a plea bargain, and in exchange for giving up his right to trial [by] jury, he agreed to plead guilty in exchange for the government making a solemn promise that they would not seek life imprisonment … The judge, however, gave him life imprisonment and so the position of the United States government back then — and it should be the same position now — is that life imprisonment was not warranted considering the amount of damage that was done by this spy," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman, J.D. Hayworth, and Morgan Thompson on "America's Forum" Tuesday.
The former U.S. Navy analyst was convicted of spying for Israel in the 1980s and has spent 25 years in an American jail.
"He's only a year away from his next parole date where he'll probably be released, so the United States is not being asked to give up very much. Israel, on the other hand, is being asked to release hundreds and hundreds of terrorists who might go back to commit new crimes. Pollard's an old man. He's not going to do anything to hurt America."
As we documented, prosecutor John L. Martin -- in a Newsmax artile by Ronald Kessler responding to Dershowitz's previous defense of Pollard -- has said that the classified documents Pollard gave Israel access to would fill a space 10 feet by 6 feet by 6 feet, and the law makes no distinction between spying for an ally or an enemy. Former prosecutor Joe diGenova pointed out that Pollard received about $500,000 a year plus expenses for giving intelligence documents to Israeli agents, and that it "cost between $3 billion and $5 billion to fix because of what he compromised."
The Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman went even further in an April 1 Newsmax column:
When the Pollard affair surfaced 28 years ago, there were claims by some that the sentencing of Pollard to life imprisonment was tinged with anti-Semitism. We at the Anti-Defamation League took that charge seriously, made our own investigation, and concluded there was no basis for such an accusation.
But as the years pass, and the world has changed many times over, and with more and more prominent Americans, including individuals from the intelligence community, saying "enough already," Pollard remains in prison.
Pleas for his parole are raised on a regular basis, but go unheeded. The whole thing at this late date makes no sense.
There surely is no information that Pollard possesses after all these years that can be harmful to American interests. The fact that Pollard shared information with an ally — Israel — was no reason for him not to be punished. But after this long imprisonment, the fact that it was such a close ally who received his information should have influenced a positive response when the subject of parole arose.
Foxman then plays the anti-Semitism card:
I am not one to equate what Pollard did, to betray his country, to the recent revelations that the United States has been spying on top Israeli leaders. Here too, however, these revelations add further context to the absurdity of the ongoing vendetta against this one man.
Yes, I use that word because that’s what it seems like at this point. If it were only a vendetta against one individual, it would be bad enough. But it has now become one against the American Jewish community.
In effect, the continuing imprisonment of this person long after he should have been paroled on humanitarian grounds can only be read as an effort to intimidate American Jews. And, it is an intimidation that can only be based on an anti-Semitic stereotype about the Jewish community, one that we have seen confirmed in our public opinion polls over the years, the belief that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country, the United States.
In other words, the underlying concept which fuels the ongoing Pollard incarceration is the notion that he is only the tip of the iceberg in the community. So Pollard stays in prison as a message to American Jews: Don’t even think about doing what he did.
I come to this conclusion with much sorrow and, as noted, as someone who resisted efforts early on to connect the Pollard affair to anti-Semitism. It is harder and harder to do so any longer.
But it seems the problem is not that Pollard was more loyal to Israel than the United States, it's thathe wasn't loyal to the U.S. at all. The ChristianScience Monitor's Peter Grier reports:
Pollard peddled secrets that included details of US spy satellites, analyses of foreign missile systems, and the extent of NSA surveillance of foreign governments.
He reportedly offered material to South Africa, Argentina, and Taiwan, and was in touch with officials in Pakistan. Then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger testified in court that the US national security community suspects that much of what Pollard stole ended up with the Soviet Union, through the USSR’s own network of spies and moles.
The US intelligence community has not forgotten or forgiven Pollard for his actions. Any move to release him will surely spark a furious internal reaction.
Grier also notes that Thomas Brooks, former chief of naval intelligence, says that the extent of Pollard's spying is exceeded only by Edward Snowden, and that much of what Pollard took did not involve Israel at all.
Newsmax Blames Liberals For Criticism of Columnist, Ignores His Threats Topic: Newsmax
In a March 30 Newsmax article, Elliot Jager tries to portray a writer as a victim for daring to criticize global warming:
Statistician Nate Silver, who became a darling of Democrats for his accurate predictions that President Barack Obama would win re-election, continues to face flack from liberal critics for hiring University of Colorado environmental scholar Roger Pielke to write on science and climate for his new FiveThirtyEight website.
Michael Mann, writing in The Huffington Post, said he was "crestfallen" and disappointed that Silver "parrots" the "false arguments" of climate skeptics in his own writing on climate change, which Mann characterized as "marred" and "misguided."
The Daily Kos said that Nate Silver was "pushing a new phase of Global Warming denialism."
Dan Satterfield wrote on the American Geophysical Union blog that "shameless self promotion" motivated Silver to hire Pielke. "Look at all the free publicity he got by announcing the hire, and even more after Pielke's first piece on the new website."
Blogger Peter Sinclair described Pielke's essay as so "catastrophic" that it may have undermined the credibility of Silver's site "right at the start."
But Jager didn't mention that Pielke has been accused of threatening his critics with legal action for criticizing his FivethirtyEight piece. Silver has issued an apology to the critics.
Newsmax's Fleitz Denounces Investigation Into CIA Abuses As "Unnecessary" Topic: Newsmax
In a March 21 Newsmax column, Fred Fleitz is unhappy that Senate Democrats are still investigating CIA abuse allegations the Bush administration:
First, why in 2014 is Congress still investigating the Bush administration and preparing a $50 million, 4,200-page report on the enhanced interrogation program?
Waterboarding, the controversial technique of this program that led to numerous calls to end it, was last used in 2003. President Barack Obama shut down the enhanced interrogation program shortly after he was inaugurated. House Intelligence Committee Democrats completed their report on the enhanced interrogation program in 2010.
Shouldn't the Senate Intelligence Committee be using its resources to address the challenges of today and not alleged misdeeds by the Bush administration that took place 10 years ago? To borrow a Democratic phrase from the Clinton era, it's time to move on.
The fight over the Senate Intelligence Committee's report of the $50 million Bush-era enhanced interrogation report is distracting the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee from their work and recently caused the committee to cancel hearings on Syria and Iran.
It is imperative that Feinstein and the CIA quickly put this unnecessary partisan report behind them so they can focus on the serious security threats facing this country today instead of the problems and misdeeds of the last administration.
Fleitz did not say whether he considers current ongoing Republican investigations of the Obama administration to be "partisan" and "unnecessary."
No, Brad Blakeman, Obama Is Not Giving Away The Internet Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax gives space for Republican operative Brad Blakeman to rant:
Republican strategist Brad Blakeman is slamming plans by the U.S. government to open up the body that manages Internet names and addresses to the global Internet community.
Blakeman, who warned in a Newsmax column in 2010 that President Barack Obama was surrendering control of the Internet, told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Monday, that the administration's decision has been a long time coming.
"I gave a factual account of what the president was going to do and sure enough now in 2014, safely re-elected, our internationalist president is seeking to give our most important precious asset, the Internet, to basically international control. The United States developed it with taxpayer dollars at DARPA, which is at the Pentagon, as an open architecture networking. We didn’t keep it for ourselves, we monetized it and were able to make countries a lot smarter, a lot freer and now the president seeks to be beholden. It does not make any sense. It's not in our interest," he said.
Asked whether he would agree with a foreign policy expert who over the weekend likened the move to the giveaway of the Panama Canal in the 1970s, Blakeman replied, "No, it is more dangerous than that. The Panama Canal is certainly important to us, but nowhere near important as the Internet, which touches every American household. Our military uses the Internet now, our other government agencies as well as our private sectors rely on it.
"We created it. Nobody has ever made a complaint about America not being free and open and giving access to those who wanted it either through the registration of domain names or the giving out of IP addresses."
Blakeman said it is just another example of Obama's strategy of appeasement.
In fact, the plan to transfer ICANN, the body that manages Internet names and addresses, to international control has been in the works since 1998, and it was always the plan that the U.S. would eventually relinquish control over ICANN.
Newsmax Hauls Out 'D.C. Super Lawyer' To Defend Republican Senator Topic: Newsmax
David Patten uses a March 15 Newsmax article to haul out "D.C. super lawyer Cleta Mitchell" to vociferously defend Republican Sen. Mike Lee against suggestions of corruption -- necessary because the claim was reported by a conservative newspaper, the Washington Times:
“I think this is a smear,” Mitchell told Newsmax, “and you can quote me on that. I think this is a smear. Mike Lee is as honest as the day is long.”
A well-known figure in conservative politics, Mitchell advised Lee on the short-sale of his former Alpine, Utah home. That transaction is at the center of what she sees as a transparent attempt to impugn Lee’s reputation.
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“He talked to me at the time to make sure that he didn’t break any rules, that whatever he did was done completely in accordance not just with the rules and the law, but to make sure there was no appearance of impropriety,” she stated.
Brian Phillips, Lee’s communications director, issued a one-sentence statement Friday regarding the latest developments as reported by Washington Times editor and vice president John Solomon.
"The article doesn't present any new information about the senator and, as it relates to his house, the senator filed all the required documentation,” Phillips stated.
Although Solomon stated that a common pool of witnesses is providing leads about each senator, Mitchell maintained Friday that the issues affecting Reid and Lee “are absolutely unrelated.” She added that she has confirmed this “with sources,” and believes the source of the smear is someone in Utah.
“There’s no relationship between Harry Reid and Mike Lee on this,” Mitchell told Newsmax. “… These are two completely different scenarios that have somehow gotten reported as the same thing, when they’re absolutely unrelated.”
As someone who worked with Lee on the matter in question, Mitchell is essentially advocating for a client. Did anybody think she wasn't going to defend Lee?
Newsmax Suddenly Interested In Webb Hubbell, Too Topic: Newsmax
WorldNetDaily isn't the only right-wing website with a sudden interest in Webb Hubbell's doings.
Hubbell popped up on Steve Malzberg's Newsmax radio show, as detailed in a March 10 Newsmax article. Newsmax appears to portray Hubbell's views on health care more honestly than WND, which seized upon his criticism of one proposed aspect of Medicare reform to use him as a tool to bash Obama. By contrast, Newsmax writes:
Hubbell said he supported the concept of the Affordable Care Act but lamented that it had been altered drastically from its original form.
"It was a good attempt that got manipulated by the insurance companies to where it's not what it could be," he said.
"I'm personally a very strong supporter of a single-payer system . . . and I don't think [Obama] went far enough in that regard.
"The country as a whole needs to go where everyone has universal healthcare . . . There are people who are being denied coverage, there are people who are having to pay a lot more because they're being covered for things they don't need and those things are fixable."
Newsmax also lets Hubbell get in a plug for his upcoming novel, which we suspect is the only reason he's playing to these right-wing outlets in the first place.
Flashback: Newsmax's First Foray Into TV Topic: Newsmax
So Newsmax has been getting attention for the upcoming launch of its new TV news channel as a rivel to Fox News for the conservative audience. But we remember Newsmax's first attempt to get into the TV business.
In 2001, Newsmax produced a show called "NewsMax.com Reports." As we detailed at the time, it starred Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy and then-columnist Barry Farber (now with WorldNetDaily) and promised to be "the start of a new effort to reach millions of Americans with news and information the major media won't report."
It was also essentially an infomercial, airing as paid programming on CNBC on a Saturday. Newsmax also created something called the "Off-The Record Club," designed to "help NewsMax to buy national TV air time to expand our reach." For $25 a month, members were promised a monthly "special audio tape briefing from a top expert, insider or VIP – giving you an insider's perspective you won't get from the major media."
We don't know if more shows were produced beyond the one that aired, or if anyone actually signed up for the club. We assume not, because we never heard from either again.
Meanwhile, in its article on the new TV venture, Bloomberg Businessweek offers some interesting tidbits about Newsmax:
It had revenue of $104 million in 2013 -- $46 million of it in subscription revenue from its 17 newsletters and $6 million more from the sale of vitamin supplements.
The average age of Newsmax’s audience is 54.7, which makes it a prime target for things like newsletters and vitamin supplements.
It was Amway founder Richard DeVos who suggested to Ruddy that Newsmax could sell supplements to his middle-aged audience.
Newsmax has 260 employees, with plans for 300 by summer. It's moving into a new 50,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Boca Raton.
Ruddy's friendship with the Clintons could pose issues down the road: “I’m already torn by a Hillary Clinton candidacy,” he says. “I actually think she would make a good president. Generally, I would align myself with the Republican candidate, so there could be some bumps coming down the road.”
Newsmax Still Shilling For 'Son of God' Film Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax's lovefest for the film "Son of God" hasn't quite ended, though the film's advertising at the website has.
A March 2 article declared, "'Son of God' Blows Away Expectations With $26M Box Office Weekend." It touted how the film had "a staggering $26.5 million box office take" (though not so staggering that it wasn't surpassed by another movie that weekend).
A March 3 article by Matt Bendell tried to take a shot at the religious-film competition:
While the movie "Son of God" had a blockbuster opening weekend at the box office, the next biblical big-screen production on Hollywood's horizon, "Noah," is taking heat from some Christians for departing from the scriptural account of the Old Testament story.
The article goes on to promote some evangelicals' attacks on the film's supposedly "revisionist message," with one lamenting that "young people have a hard time deciphering reality from fiction and don't often take the time to form their own educated opinions."
Imagine: American soldiers aim their rifles and handguns at enemy fighters running toward them across the battlefield. But when they pull their triggers, none of the weapons fire. Within moments our troops are shot down by the onrushing enemy.
Border patrol agents under attack by a Mexican drug gang likewise find their handguns suddenly inoperative, as if turned off at a distance by the criminal gang advancing and firing on them.
Could this be the future, if the advocates of "smart guns" get their way?
A California smart gun start-up named Yardarm, reports the Post, has developed a technology so that "Users can even remotely disable their weapons." If owners can do this, who else can?
The inevitable question: Given this potential to turn off smart guns at a distance, thereby de facto disarming the users, will the politicians who require us to have smart guns also require that these same "safer" smart firearms be used by our soldiers in combat, by the Border Patrol, and by local and state police?
This columnist has long said that progressive presidents eager to impose gun control should lead by example. Presidents who say Americans need no guns to defend themselves should first disarm their own heavily armed Secret Service bodyguard.
Newsmax's Editorial Content Promotes An Advertiser Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax is pulling out all the stops to promote the new film "Son of God" -- and it couldn't possibly have nothing to do with the fact that the film is being advertised on Newsmax.
A Feb. 26 article by Melissa Clyne carries the hyperbolic headline "'Son of God' Set to Blow Away Box Office Projections."
Newsmax has also posted a Feb. 26 Reuters article featuring Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman claiming that "Son of God" will be "the antidote to the poison that 'Passion of the Christ' became" due to claims of anti-Semitism and excessive violence.
Note the sponsor line "See the Son of God and Watch the Story of Jesus Come to Life in Theaters" at the top of both of those articles. The producers of "Son of God" has apparently bought that strip, which appears at the top of all Newsmax articles -- the link goes to a website promoting the film.
Whether it may or may not actually be the case, Newsmax has created the appearance that it has adjusted its news content to be complementary to its advertising.
Michael Reagan Plays the Benghazi Card to Defend Christie Topic: Newsmax
As manyother right-wingers have done before him, Michael Reagan uses his Feb. 11 Newsmax column to deflect from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's bridge-closing scandal by invoking Benghazi:
The emphasis the media has put on two events that occurred in September gives a clear insight into journalists' thinking and the priority they give events that involve Republicans as opposed to the priority given events that involve Democrats.
The event involving a Republican occurred in September of last year and resulted in four days of traffic jams in Fort Lee, N.J. The event involving a Democrat occurred in September 2012 and resulted in four American deaths. Yet a comparison of the energy and resulting coverage of these events can only lead one to the conclusion that Republican errors that result in traffic jams are far more consequential than Democrat neglect that ends with an ambassador and three other Americans dead in Benghazi.
Now there is a daily drumbeat of congestion coverage as the media announces subpoenas of Christie aides, the New York Times invents an email that “proves” Christie knew, and other reporters follow Christie around the country as he attempts to raise money for the Republican Governors Association.
Without the determined efforts of GOP investigators in the House of Representatives and coverage from The Washington Times, the Benghazi attack and cover-up would have faded from memory. Maybe if Ambassador Stevens and the other three Americans had been killed in that traffic jam in New Jersey the mainstream media would be interested in getting to the bottom of their deaths and holding the Obama administration responsible.
Reagan offers no evidence that "Democrat neglect" was responsible for what happened in Benghazi, and he apparently can't tell the difference between a story that's more than a year old about which nothing significant has been revealed, and fresh breaking news about an apparently attempt at political payback by disrupting traffic, something the vast majority of Americans can directly relate to.
Newsmax Columnist: To Be More Inclusive, Chevy Should Exclude Gays Topic: Newsmax
Ronn Torossian uses his Feb. 13 Newsmax column to have a conniption about same-sex couples appearing in a Chevrolet ad:
Sometimes silence really is golden. If there was a list of brands that would be considered the most likely to stay out of the progressive culture war, conventional thinking would argue that Chevrolet would be high on that list.
Chevy is an all-American brand, popular with NASCAR-loving conservative values voters, and demographics that may not think favorably of liberal change in cultural mores. That’s what “conventional wisdom” may argue. But apparently conventional wisdom is wrong.
With its new Chevrolet Traverse commercial, Chevy has jumped feet first into the hornet’s nest of America’s ongoing debate on gay marriage, and made a commercial sure to alienate some — on an issue which no one asked for their opinion. There’s no right or wrong answer — but as a PR agency CEO I ask, why would an iconic brand get involved in this no-win discussion?
How is it strategically advantageous to Chevy to enter any divisive political debate? No one is asking the company to take part in the gay marriage discussion, so why call attention to itself on this issue? It’s unnecessary and could be detrimental. Sometimes less (or none at all) is more. Is this really their issue?
Rather than rushing into a debate which they think the media will appreciate, brands may want to pay more attention to considering potential outcomes and repercussions before getting into any kind of public conversation.
Torissian goes on to contradictorily argue that to be really inclusive, Chevy should exclude gays from its ads:
Chevy wants Republicans and Democrats to buy their brand, those for and opposed to gay marriage — so why touch this discussion? Wouldn’t they want everyone to be loyal Chevy fans, buying Chevys, and cheering for Chevy drivers on the circuit?
Torossian seems to have missed the fact that inclusiveness is part of Chevy's current ad campaign. From the Associated Press:
Chevy, a unit of General Motors Co. that is not an official sponsor, didn't comment on the Russian laws specifically, instead saying in a statement that "these ads ... are not intended as any political commentary."
One ad, called "The New Us," for the Chevrolet Traverse crossover SUV, shows quick shots of many different families, including a gay male couple with a son and a daughter. "While what it means to be a family hasn't changed, what a family looks like has," a voiceover states. "This is the new us."
Another ad, an overall Chevrolet brand spot, features a pastiche of different images of America, including a shot of a gay couple getting married. "Like the old love, the new love starts with a kiss," a voiceover states. "Like the old community, the new community still keeps us connected. ... A whole new lineup for a whole new world."
And Torossian seems also to have missed the fact that numerous major companies have expressed their support for same-sex marriage, which means Chevy isn't exactly ahead of the curve on the issue.