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Monday, August 12, 2019
Bill Donohue's Bogus Double Standard
Topic: Newsmax

The Catholic League's Bill Donohue complains in an Aug. 2 Newsmax column:

Imagine the following scenario.

A cardinal in the Catholic Church knows that for 20 years a priest in his archdiocese has sexually abused hundreds of young persons, yet he never once reported his crimes to the authorities. When this is disclosed to the public, the cardinal stands fast, refusing to budge. When a protest of angry Catholics forces him to resign, he is allowed to teach at a local Catholic college and is awarded the title "distinguished professor."

There's more. Imagine the cardinal being charged by prosecutors with two felonies and with lying to the police. Imagine further that the archdiocese agrees to award him $2.45 million over three years; he is also given medical and dental coverage. But he has to agree not to sue the archdiocese first! He agrees.

Contrast this with what happened on July 30 when the Board of Trustees at Michigan State University awarded former president Lou Anna Simon about $2.5 million (of taxpayers' money), plus benefits, after she was forced to resign. According to the Detroit Free Press, she is charged with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of lying to the police about Dr. Lawrence Nassar. Nassar is in prison for sexually abusing young athletes when working as a sports doctor at the university; hundreds of young girls are believed to have been molested by him.

Simon's payout follows her refusal to resign — she did so under protest. The school then awarded her the title "distinguished professor."

Does Donohue really want to go there? OK, let's go there.

Bernard Law was the cardinal of the Boston diocese for 18 years. Over that time, he was found to have extensive knowledge of sexual abuse committed by priests in the diocese, but he simply moved the offending priests to other parishes rather than contacting authorities. Unlike Simon, Law never faced criminal charges. But after he resigned fro the Boston diocese in disgrace, Law was awarded what is argably better than being named "distinguished professor": a ceremonial position at the Vatican. When he did, he was given a funeral Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

In other words, Law appears to have been treated better than Simon.

When Law died, Donohue praised him as a "theological conservative" and virtually ignored his central role in the sexual abuse scandal. He didn't complain about a disgraced cardinal being given a funeral service in the revered St. Peter's. No wonder Donohue thought this was a good example to cite against Simon.

Instead, he whined that the Simon story didn't get the media attention the overall Catholic abuse scandal -- though he ignores the massive media attention given to Nasser, and despite the fact that even if Simon is foound guilty of lying to police (Simon's attorneys deny it, according to the article Donohue cites), it was only for a period of two years, compared with the 18 years Law mishandled numerous abusive priests and the 20 years in his hypothetical example.

This is ultimately just another example of Donohue trying to downplay the severity of the Catholic abuse scandal.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:22 PM EDT
Thursday, August 8, 2019
Newsmax Pushes Ex-Employee As New DNI DIrector
Topic: Newsmax

When President Trump was in search of a new director of national intelligence in mid July, Newsmax helpfully suggested a replacement, in the form of a July 15 column by Peter Pry:

President Trump, according to recent press reports, is thinking of firing Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and replacing Coats with former National Security Council Chief of Staff — Fred Fleitz.

If it happens, and I pray it does, it will be a giant step toward making America’s Intelligence Community great again.

[...]

Fleitz has extensive national security experience with the executive and legislative branches of government. His work for the CIA included serving as a political analyst, military analyst, analyst of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and intelligence collection officer (spy).

[...]

Fred Fleitz appears frequently on TV and has the gift — crucial in a DNI — of being able to easily and eloquently explain complex strategic and technological concepts to policymakers and the American people.

Perhaps most importantly, having known Fred Fleitz for many years, he is the worst enemy of “political correctness,” utterly unafraid of facing facts, and a lion for truth.

What Pry didn't mention: Fleitz used to work for Newsmax.

As we've noted, Fleitz used to head something called LIGNET, Newsmax's attempt to create a "global intelligence and forecasting" operation to which Newsmax readers could subscribe for a fee. It didn't last long; according to Fleitz's Wikipedia profile, he ran it from 2011 to 2013, when he jumped ship to the Center for Security Policy, and LIGNET apparently didn't survive much longer beyond that.

Anyway, Trump ended up choosing someone else as DNI, Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe -- but that nomination collapsed in a few days amid concerns about his lack of intelligence experience and charges that he padded his resume.For Newsmax, that meant it could once again push Fleitz as the next DNI.

An Aug. 2 article by John Gizzi touted how "Fleitz’s resume, several supporters told Newsmax, presents a striking contrast to that of Ratcliffe" and that Fleitz "was increasingly heard on Capitol Hill and at the White House as the likely successor" to outgoing DNI Dan Coats.

The same day, Newsmax posted a column by C.R. Anderson gushing over Fleitz, calling him an "ethical professional" and adding, "It doesn’t take Fox News, National Review, or Lou Dobbs Show excerpts to glean Fred Fleitz has the depth in service to assume the role of Director and hit the ground running. He has no learning curve; policy catch-up isn’t required."

Then, Ken Timmerman -- a onetime Newsmax regular who dabbled in Obama birtherism -- weighed in with an Aug. 3 column aggressively touting Fleitz:

The president doesn’t need someone who will grow the DNI, or who will become its defender in the White House. He needs someone who will tell him the truth about the perils our nation faces.

After its horrible — and possibly, treasonous — behavior during the 2016 election, the intelligence community needs to earn the trust of this president.

Fred Fleitz is someone this president knows he can trust. He is the best man for the job — not just for the president, but for our intelligence professionals who through him will have a chance to rebuild their reputation.

None of these writers disclosed that Fleitz used to work for Newsmax.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, Fleitz has also been popping up on Newsmax TV -- we counted three appearances in the past month.

Oh, and Fleitz also has one more quality that should make him an attractive candidate: he's a Trump sycophant. We've noted a January 2017 Newsmax column in which Fleitz effectively demanded that the intelligence community should be loyal to Trump over the good of the country.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:08 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, August 8, 2019 2:33 PM EDT
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Newsmax Hands Dershowitz Even More Space To Defend Himself
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax has an odd habit of giving Trump-friendly lawyer Alan Dershowitz space to defend himself (and offering its own defense of him) regarding links to convicted pedophile and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, for whom he served as a defense lawyer. That hasn't stopped.

In his first Newsmax column since January, Dershowitz spent a July 12 column complaining that "The View" co-host Meghan McCain said he shouldn't be allowed to appear on  TV until the Epstein sex-related allegations against him are resolved. Needless to say, Dershowitz spun this comment into a complaint that he was being "censored" and going into full victim mode: "Imagine what America would be like if McCain’s rule became the norm. Every accused person would be presumed guilty and shut down. Our traditional presumption of innocence would be reversed and a presumption of guilt would be substituted. That is the norm in today’s China, Iran, Venezuela, and other totalitarian nations that do not operate under the rule of law."

Dershowitz penned a July 17 column that was essentially a prebuttal to a longform piece the New Yorker was doing on him, insisting without evidence that editor David Remnick commissioned the "hit piece against me for the explicit purpose of silencing my defense of President Trump, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the State of Israel." As he has before, he vehemently denied allegations that he had sex with an underage girl in Epstein's orbit.

Of course, he didn't mention his admission the previous week that he did indeed receive a massage at Epstein's mansion (though he insisted he was massaged by an adult woman and he kept his underwear on).

After the New Yorker article came out -- which included revelations such as his advocacy for reducing the age of consent and his history of discrediting any sexual assault accuser that passed in front of him -- Dershowitz cranked out another lengthy defense in the form of a letter to the New Yorker that Newsmax published on July 26, once again denouncing the "hit piece" as an attempt "to silence my voice on issues – Trump, Netanyahu and Israel – on which we disagree." He didn't address the age-of-consent stuff.

Dershowitz concluded his column with this appeal: "Finally, a word to my readers: if you read The New Yorker article, please compare it to this letter and see what they included and excluded. Please also ask yourselves how you and your family would feel if you were falsely accused with no evidence of horrible crimes of which you were entirely innocent.

Newsmax also gave Dershowitz space on its TV channel. In a July 18 appearance, Dershowitz repeated an attack on the lawyer representing the woman accusing him as "a genuinely evil man" who "has a very questionable sexual history himself, while ""I have never done anything wrong sexually. During the relevant period of time, I had sex with one woman: my wife."

On July 29, Dershowitz was given a nearly 6-minute-long segment on Newsmax TV to repeat his attacks on the New Yorker piece, whining: "If they falsely accuse me and I never met them, I'm the victim now, they're not the victims. I'm going to continue to call them liars and perjurers. That's the truth. It's not victim shaming. It's criminal shaming. They are criminals. They belong in jail."

In between his two New Yorker-related pieces getting published on Newsmax, Dershowitz appeared on Newsmax TV in an 18-minute segment discussing Robert Mueller's congressional testimony, in which he served up a reliably pro-Trump talking point that "a "radical Democrat" winning the White House could go after Trump like a "banana republic." (Nerver mind that Trump indicated he would act in the exact same way against Hillary Clinton.) Dershowitz was never asked about his connections to Epstein during this segment.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:26 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2019 10:54 PM EDT
Monday, July 22, 2019
Newsmax Columnist Somehow Blames Obama For HIV Among Gay Black Men
Topic: Newsmax

Former NFL player Jack Brewer goes on a weird little tirade in his July 12 Newsmax column:

I’m all for equal rights for gays and lesbians, but I think the large campaign donations hypnotized Obama to prioritize gay marriage over bringing quality education and criminal justice reform to the ancestors of our ailing former slave population. I’m sure both were important issues to him at some level, but in politics you have to prioritize as all presidents know they are on a short timeline.

The debate is still out there as to whether the Obama years brought the country farther from our Christian foundation.

I applaud President Obama for openly saying Jesus and quoting powerful scripture on many occasions. I was just a little bothered by his policies, which too often went against the word of God.

Obama stuck to his commitment to the LGBTQ community when he backed unprecedented legislation that expanded the sacred biblical “marriage” characterization to gay and transgender couples. I just think we could have given all Americans their deserved equal rights without challenging the biblical definition of marriage. Now homosexuality is on super speed in the black community where you see a surge in gay black males particularly in urban communities like Atlanta, LA, and throughout the south.

The CDC recently reported that 50% of black gay men will contract HIV, which is scary given the growing gay lifestyle promotion as a result of the Pride movement. Despite being only 12% of the population, blacks make up 43% of those infected with HIV in America. This epidemic can’t be ignored and we can’t deny the results of a culture that promotes sex and homosexuality as things that are publicly glorified.

In short: Brewer is mad that Obama didn't hate the LGBT commmunity as much as he does, and he offered no evidence that ceasing to hate gay people has created more of them or caused an increase in HIV infections. Also, allowing gays to marry does not "challenge the biblical definition of marriage"; it expands it. Further, there are numerous reasons that gay black men are at a higher risk of HIV that don't involve "promotion" of the "lifestyle."

Brewer also complained:

The Obama administration chose to pour food stamps on our most underserved with few effective programs to incentivize our impoverished to go to work. Obama ironically boasted about giving out more food stamps than any other president in U.S. history. You can’t make this up.

Brewer didn't mention that the country was recovering from a recession for much of Obama's presidency, and he doesn't explain how cutting off food stamps to those who needed them would have helped things.

Though Brewer proclaimed himself to be a "lifelong Democrat" who supported Obama (until he stopped hating gays, apparently), he's basically a pro-Trump shill here. In praising Trump for signing the First Step Act, he bashed Bill Clinton and Joe Biden for supporting the "evil" 1994 crime bill, ignoring that the bill had the support of many black officials at the time, as well as bipartisan political support. He also didn't mention that the First Step Act had bipartisan support too.

And, lo and behold, on July 21 Brewer tweeted thanks to Trump "for taking so much time to meet with me this weekend to discuss tackling the critical issues affecting blacks in America." If the reason Brewer sucked up to Trump was to get a meeting with him, he succeded.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:39 PM EDT
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Newsmax Columnist Takes 'True Name' Credit Cards From LGBT to Terrorism
Topic: Newsmax

Lauren DeBellis Appell began her June 24 Newsmax column complaining that Mastercard will it will do away with legally binding names on cards, and instead let customers pick the name that goes on their card" through the True Name card "to affirm the LGBTQ community by offering a card that reflects their true identity."

Appell managed to avoid gratuitous LGBT-bashing in her column, which is a refreshing change. She did express concerns about security:

Problem solved -- not so fast. While that all sounds lovely and affirming and sensitive to one group of people, in the race to be politically correct we’re ignoring the glaring elephant in the room. One that has the potential to, at best, raise several serious, unaddressed questions and, at worst, breed a whole other litany of problems.

What are the safety and security implications? What about the potential for fraud? How about ID theft? Has anyone thought any of this through at all? Bueller… Bueller… anyone? All signs point to no, they have not.

After a detour about the legal hurdles she faced in changing her name (adding her married name and dropping a first name she didn't use and that "felt completely foreign and didn't represent me"), she concluded by leaping to the worst-case scenario:

Mastercard’s eagerness to show they’re sensitive to the LGBTQ community with the “True Name” card begs the question: when people are allowed to use differing forms of conflicting personal identification, what could possibly go wrong?

Has anyone thought through the obvious temptation for organized crime? Has anyone thought through the obvious temptation for terrorists — either those from abroad or people here who’ve been radicalized; all of whom are hell bent on destruction?

We shouldn’t, in the interest of being politically correct, wait until it’s too late to find out.

As if credit card companies wouldn't be fully thinking through security issues before implementing the card.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:27 PM EDT
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Drag Queen Story Hour Derangement Syndrome
Topic: Newsmax

No child should be forced to confront radical ideas and controversial social movements before they are able to use the potty by themselves. We are talking about children who are settling in at the library to hear about Peppa Pig and Horton hearing a Who. This is a time when the little ones should be held in their mothers’ laps, sipping chocolate milk or juice from their sippy cups as they become mesmerized by the magic of carefully chosen words.

This is not a time when some man in spandex, tulle, and glitter should be confusing them with the sight of a dude with an Adam’s Apple and well-developed biceps touching up his makeup and hitching up his brassiere.

There is a concerted effort afoot to normalize the whole idea of gender fluidity.

[...]

Bill Lorraine, a physician and resident of Haverford Township, said he became very concerned when he first heard of Drag Queen Story Hour.

“Gender dysphoria is a serious psychological condition. It is not genetically determined, but rather is influenced by environmental factors,” Lorraine said. “Therefore exposing young children to something like drag queen story hour can predispose them to the development of gender dysphoria and the many negative consequences that go with it.”

[...]

Reading the web page of Drag Queen Story Hour, it is clear that this whole program is designed to normalize gender fluidity and make “drag queens” just one of many accepted expressions of our “identity.” To me, that is nothing more than adults trying to shove their agendas down the throats of little kids.

-- Christine Flowers, June 10 Newsmax column


Posted by Terry K. at 9:35 PM EDT
Monday, June 17, 2019
Newsmax Gives Dershowitz More Unchallenged Space To Defend Himself
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax has defended lawyer Alan Dershowitz in the past over his involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking scandal. It serves up another defense in an anonymously  written June 8 article is essentially a rewritten, one-sided version of Dershowitz's attempt to remove the lawyers of a woman who has accused him of having sex with her while she was underage:

Harvard Law professor and well-known trial lawyer Alan Dershowitz asked a New York federal court Friday to remove Boies Schiller Flexner LLP from a case in which the firm is representing a woman who claims Dershowitz sexually molested her as a child.

Dershowitz has been accused of being involved in billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's alleged sex-trafficking ring by an attorney for one of Epstein’s victims. The lawyer who represents the woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, in early March claimed in federal court that testimony from other witnesses will show Dershowitz's involvement in the alleged trafficking of "his close friend Jeffrey Epstein."

[...]

In a recent blog on Newsmax, Dershowitz wrote that for him the experience of being falsely accused of sexual misconduct was actually worse than being falsely accused of murder.

“In my case, two women I never met were put up to falsely accusing me for obvious financial gain,” he wrote. “They both had histories of making up stories about famous people for money, and of committing perjury.”

This was followed by a full version of Dershowitz's statement. No opposing view was permitted, even though there the Miami Herald has stood by its reporting on the Epstein case and pointed out that in a meeting with the Herald, Dershowitz "read select passages from voluminous documents that he said vindicated him. He declined to let the journalists examine the documents or take copies." Not exactly the behavior of someone who's completely innocent -- after all, Dershowitz was Epstein's attorney and helped put together a plea deal that got Epstein just a year in prison for his crimes, meaning he's no peripheral player.

Further, Newsmax never followed up on the fate of Dershowitz's motion: it got quickly thrown out because it broke the judge's rules of requiring a pre-motion conference limiting supporting documentation to 20 pages.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:51 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, June 17, 2019 9:04 PM EDT
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Newsmax Columnist Not That Big on Diversity
Topic: Newsmax

In a June 3 Newsmax column complaining about a court ruling that allows transgender students to use the bathroom that fits their gender identity, Christine Flowers complains that we now have to consider theneeds of people who are different than her:

Now, we’re all about celebrating identity and diversity. Some people are elated that we’ve left behind what they think of as prejudice and intolerance, while others are nostalgic for a past when children were allowed to be children and didn’t have to deal with who they were, who they loved, and what “Drag Queen Story Hour” is all about.

Increasingly, the people who long for a simpler time are called bigots, and their voices are silenced by social ostracism, and sometimes lawsuits.

Well, yes, if you try to frame bigotry as "longing for a simpler time," there's a good chance you'll be called a bigot. She concluded by huffing:

Here’s the reality: Some children are still figuring out their identities, and need to be treated compassionately. But, in my opinion, tending to their needs should not come at the expense of kids who don’t deserve to be called bigots just because they want to go to the bathroom without making a political statement.

Flowers doesn't understand that transgender students would also like to go to be bathroom without making a political statement, and sometimes lawsuits are the only way to accomplish that.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:47 PM EDT
Monday, June 10, 2019
Newsmax's Kessler Keeps Shilling For Trump
Topic: Newsmax

In April, Trump-fluffing author Ronald Kessler wrote for Newsmax a defense of President Trump over Robert Mueller's investigation, insisting (falsely) that Trump really didn't mean it when he said "the Russia thing" prompted him to fire then-FBI director James Comey. Kessler took another crack at it in his May 30 column, raging at Mueller:

With his confusing, contradictory, and ever-changing comments about the results of his investigation of President Trump, Special Counsel Robert Mueller made a mockery of the criminal justice system.

In that system, there is no place for concluding that the subject of an investigation is not criminally charged but is not exonerated. To say, “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so” makes as much sense as saying, “The moon could be made of blue cheese, we just don’t know.”

In fact, Mueller very clearly explained that because of the Justice Department's policy against indicting a sitting president, he did not  consider whether the evidence rose to a crime but pointed out that the evidence was not exculpatory.

Most of the rest of Kessler's column is devoted to rehashing his bogus insistence that the "counterintelligence investigation that specifically targeted Trump after he fired James Comey as FBI director was based on false pretenses," complaining that "by unfairly impugning President Trump, Mueller ended his otherwise sterling career with a travesty while ignoring an abuse of the FBI’s authority the likes of which we have not seen since the Hoover days." A bigger travesty than Kessler starting out as a journalist and ending up a right-wing, pro-Trump shill?


Posted by Terry K. at 9:28 PM EDT
Monday, May 20, 2019
Trump-Fluffer Kessler Goes Into Full Apologist Mode
Topic: Newsmax

Ronald Kessler is a Trumpophile from way back, and while he was a full-time writer for Newsmax, he promoted Trump's presidential ambitions as early as 2011. Kessler is still a Trump apologist, as he demonstrates in an April 23 column complaining that the FBI opened an investigation into Trump because he said in an interview that the "this Russia thing" was why he fired FBI Director James Comey. Commence apologist mode:

With those confusing words, it sounded as if Trump was saying he fired Comey because the FBI director was pursuing the Russia investigation and Trump wanted to stop it.

But Trump made it clear to aides afterward that he meant quite the opposite — that he was aware that firing Comey could prolong the Russia investigation. What Trump said in the interview immediately after his comment about “this Russia thing” confirms that and exposes [Andrew] McCabe’s rationale for opening the investigation of Trump as a fraud[.]

Trump went on to say to Holt that he supported a full investigation into Russian interference in the election. He said he never tried to pressure Comey into dropping the existing FBI probe of Russian interference in the election — a legitimate investigation that never specifically targeted Trump.

[...]

The media largely ignored Trump’s statement making it clear that he realized that by firing Comey, he was probably prolonging the existing FBI investigation rather than obstructing it. Nor, in all the endless stories about the Russia investigation did the media point out that Trump never actually interfered with the FBI investigation, that he was not a target of an FBI investigation when he fired Comey, and that he did not corruptly cover up, destroy evidence, or make false statements to mislead investigators, all of which happened during Watergate when President Nixon clearly obstructed justice.

But as the Mueller report made clear, "the Russia thing" did clearly play a role in Trump firing Comey. Trump was angry that Comey would not publicly say that Trump was personally not under investigation, and Comey's alleged behavior during the FBI investigation, as stated in Ron Rosenstein's letter providing justification for the firing, was never the main factor.

Kessler, like a good apologist, was still mad that Comey's firing did commence an FBI investigation into Trump, ranting that "Not since Hoover opened FBI investigations into anyone who criticized the government and blackmailed presidents and members of Congress has the FBI so outrageously abused its authority."

(Photo: Ron Kessler and his wife, Pamela, with Trump, from Kessler's 1999 book "The Season," about the Palm Beach social scene.)


Posted by Terry K. at 6:29 PM EDT
Monday, May 13, 2019
Horowitz Repeats Hoary Right-Wing Tropes To Brand Obama As 'Anti-Christian'
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax is the publisher of right-wing activist David Horowitz's new book on "the war to destroy Christian America" (not that Newsmax wants to admit that in its heavy promotion of said book). On May 2, Newsmax gave Horowitz a column that comes straight from right-wing fever swamps circa 2012, in which he explains why President Obama was the "most anti-Christian president":

Which American president changed the White House Christmas cards from being about Christmas or faith to cards featuring the family dogs and similar non-Christmas related subjects?

Which president decorated the White House Christmas tree with ornaments that included figures such as Mao Zedong and a drag queen?

Which president excluded pro-life groups from attending a White House-sponsored healthcare summit?

Which president nominated three pro-abortion ambassadors to the Vatican?

Which president speaking at Georgetown University ordered a monogram symbolizing Jesus’ name covered while he was delivering his speech?

Which president made a practice of deliberately omitting the phrase about “the Creator” when quoting the Declaration of Independence?

Which president opposed the inclusion of President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous D-Day Prayer in the WWII Memorial?

These things were all over right-wing circles back in the day -- and most are distorted or outright false. Let's summarize:

  • The Mao image in on Christmas ornament was actually an image of Andy Warhol's mocking portrait of Mao; that an an ornament featuring the drag queen Hedda Lettuce were apparently part of a program in which the Obama White House sent ornaments to community groups across the country to decorate for placement on the tree.
  • Horowitz never explains why it was so horrible for Obama to follow the secular traditions of Christmas and expanding the cards to cover other holidays around the same time instead of pushing a strictly religious interpretation.
  • Theh complaint about "pro-life" groups being excluded from a summit apparently stems from a 2009 complaint by anti-abortion website LifeNews, which seems to ignore that anti-abortion groups are political activists that do not provide health care.
  • Obama didn't actually nominate any of those "pro-abortion" ambassadors to the Vatican; those people were simply on a list of potential nominees that the Vatican said it didn't like. Two other people served as Vatican ambassadors under Obama, about whom neither the Vatican nor right-wingers complained about.
  • We covered the manufactured Georgetown monogram controversy at the time. In summary: Nobody has ever proven that Obama or anyone else "ordered" the religious monogram to be covered up.
  • Obama has left out "the Creator" when paraphrasing the opening of the Declaration but has used the word in other instances.
  • Obama never personally opposed the addition of FDR's D-Day prayer to the World War II memorial; the Bureau of Land Management opposed the addition of a plaque containing the prayer because it was not part of the original design.

Horowitz's old-school ranting continued:

Among Obama’s more serious crimes was his support for the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which gave a green light to that infidel-hating organization to murder thousands of Coptic Christians simply because they were Christian.

Even worse, Obama abandoned America’s military base in Iraq and withdrew America’s troops, creating a vacuum which gave rise to ISIS and the creation of the Islamic state.

The jihadists then set out to murder hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians without a protest from Obama or a serious military effort to stop them.

Actually, Obama was more supportive of the democratic process in Egypt post-Arab Spring, in which Muslim Brotherhood-tied Mohammed Morsi was elected, than to the Brotherhood itself. Does Horowitz really think that Egypt's current rule under a repressive military dictatorship (which overthrew Morsi in a coup) is an improvement?

Also, Obama and the Iraqi government failed to agree to terms to continue operating a military base in Iraq; the Iraq parliament refused to approve a status-of-forces agreement that gave U.S. troops immunity from Iraqi law.

And, of course, no right-wing attack on Obama, however belated, can be complete without a reference to Benghazi:

And it was the direct responsibility of a president who went to the United Nations after the attack in Benghazi to protect the Islamic jihadists responsible for the murder of four Americans — including the American ambassador.

Although he knew the claim was false, Obama blamed their deaths on an obscure filmmaker whose offensive video no one saw. Obama then proclaimed to the world in the strangest words ever uttered by an American president: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet Mohammed.”

The blood on Obama’s hands was more than a betrayal of the Iraqi Christians and the heroes in Benghazi.

It was a betrayal of every American and every Iraqi who gave their lives to keep that country out of the hands of the terrorists.

It was a betrayal of America itself.

Horowitz ripped Obama's statement out of context. Here's the full statement from Obama:

The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt — it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted, “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” The future must not belong to those who bully women — it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons.

The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country’s resources — it must be won by the students and entrepreneurs, the workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people. Those are the women and men that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support. 

The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.

Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims and Shiite pilgrims. It’s time to heed the words of Gandhi: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies, that’s the vision we will support.

Horowitz is simply recycling ancient anti-Obama claptrap for one more trot around the right-wing track. If his entire Newsmax-published book is like this, don't bother buying it.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:35 PM EDT
Monday, May 6, 2019
Newsmax Pushes Speculation That Notre Dame Fire Was Intentional
Topic: Newsmax

An April 25 Newsmax TV report by John Bachman -- hidden behind a "Platinum" paywall on the Newsmax website but also posted at its YouTube page -- tries to push the idea that the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral was intentionally set.

Bachman's "cutting-edge" report by first getting the name not quite right -- using the English prounciation of Notre Dame instead of the proper French one -- then touting speculation challenging the "unusual immediate declaration of an accident when almost no investigation had been thoroughly conducted," then conceded that "many of the most radical theories have been debunked." He then took a huge, distracting logical leap, declaring that "one can make a clear case that Christianity is clearly under attack from extremists" and first citing ... the terrorist attcks in Sri Lanka. Bachman offersd no evidence whatsoever that terrorist attacks in non-French locations, or even any of the church vandalism incidents inside France, have any thing to do with what happened at Notre Dame. Still, he insisted that "it's easy to understand why many people are wondering and questioning French authorities as to why they were so quick and how they were able to declare the Notre Dame fire an accident without a full investigation."

Notre Dame fire conspiracy theories are expected from the likes of conspiracy-happy WorldNetDaily, but with the Media Research Center and now Newsmax leaning into it, there must be some right-wing narrative being built.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:35 PM EDT
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Newsmax's Kerik Defends Saudi Arabia in Bezos Controversy
Topic: Newsmax

Bernard Kerik has become a reliable right-wing ranter for Newsmax, while hoping that people forget he's a convicted felon (whom Newsmax spent some time doing a little image rehab). Now he's rushing to defend Saudi Arabia regarding its alleged role in a scandal involving Amazon.com chief Jeff Bezos.

Kerik began his April 18 column by declaring, "I’m normally not interested in tabloid gossip, or someone’s personal affairs, but the recent scandal involving Jeff Bezos, the Amazon chief executive and the National Enquirer, reeks of another political attack on President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia by the establishment media." He then declared that "Having lived and worked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and as someone that was critical of the Kingdom after the killing of [Jamal] Khashoggi, I feel I’m fairly insightful and objective on the Bezos matter." Kerik then claimed:

This is why I find the mind-blowing international espionage conspiracy involving the Trump administration, Saudi Arabia, and the National Enquirer, laid out by Bezos’ long-time private investigator, Gavin de Becker, preposterous and a bit comical.

According to de Becker, the “Saudi government has been intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of (Jamal) Khashoggi’s murder.”

He said, “Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone, and gained private information.”

Who exactly are these experts?

Consider that numerous reports indicate that digital forensic analysis turned up “no evidence of a hack” and that theory was quickly discounted.

Meanwhile, the Trump-Saudi-Enquirer narrative set off a media firestorm making Bezos the victim of an international conspiracy.

Kerik is apparently referring to a Daily Beast article from January that quoted "three people familiar with the probe" in which the "no evidence of a hack" claim was made (not by "numerous reports," as Kerik claims). Since then, de Becker wrote in a March Daily Beast column that "the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone" -- which does not necessarily involve hacking.

De Becker also pointed out, where Kerik did not, that the National Enqurier's proposed blackmail contract with Bezos demanded that de Becker agree with the statement that the Enquirer had not relied on "any form of electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their news-gathering process," even though the possibility of hacking had never been discussed publicly. De Becker also found it curious that the Enquirer -- which normally protects the sources of its salacious information -- quickly made public its claim that Michael Sanchez, the brother of Lauren Sanchez, with whom Bezos was having an affair, was the source of the compromising photos and texts it was trying to blackmail Bezos over. Further, de Becker noted, the Saudi surveillance effort that led to the death of Khashoggi included hacking.

Kerik then complained: 

Why, then, is Bezos pushing this baseless Saudi theory?

One reason is he may want to turn the public focus away from embarrassing marital issues and put the spotlight on the Saudis, who The Washington Post has sought to paint as the ultimate bad guy. (No matter that the Saudis have been America’s longtime allies since World War II.)

Given that Bezos himself wrote an article revealing those "embarrassing marital issues" and the blackmail attempt involving them, it seems clear that Bezos is beyond embarrassment on the issue.

Kerik then tried to frame the Bezos controversy as a possible "hoax":

So herein lies the problem for de Becker and Bezos, and what makes this case so complex for prosecutors reviewing the matter in the Southern District of New York.

If it is established that Bezos’s people conspired to create a Trump-Saudi-Enquirer hoax, it could be quite problematic if the prosecutors believe they were misled and provided a false narrative.

For their part, The Enquirer and its top brass have been raked over the coals for what Bezos characterized as blackmail and extortion. The SDNY will have plenty of questions about that too.

But before the public or the Southern District buys into claims of a Saudi connection, Bezos team must “put up or shut up” — provide hard evidence that proves their allegations and justifies a federal inquiry.

Kerik offered no evidence that a "hoax" is in play, and surely he knows that no detailed evidence will be made public until the SDNY makes a decision on prosecuting the case.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:38 PM EDT
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Newsmax Touts Trump's Not-Yet-Existent Donation to Notre Dame
Topic: Newsmax

John Gizzi proclaims in an April 17 Newsmax article:

President Donald Trump is soon expected to make a personal contribution to the rebuilding of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Two White House sources told Newsmax on Wednesday afternoon the president "was seriously considering" sending his own money to repair the storied Cathedral that sustained a major fire two days ago.

The same sources said the president had a long conversation Wednesday morning with Pope Francis and assured him there would be American assistance in its rebuilding. So far, French citizens have pledged what in U.S. currency would be more than $750,000 to refurbish the famed cathedral.

Since becoming President in 2017, Trump has declined the President's annual salary of $400,000 and donated it to various charities, including government entities.

The headline on Gizzi's article reads "Trump Will Make Personal Donation to Notre Dame" -- which is inaccurate because at no point does Gizzi claim that the donation will actually happen. While he claims Trump "is soon expected" to make a donation, his anonymous sources said only Trump "was seriously considering" it.

Gizzi, meanwhile, didn't tell his readers about Trump's highly dubious record on charitable giving. The Washington Post reported in 2016 that of a list of 4,844 alleged charitable donations by Trump provided to the media during the 2016 presidential campaign, precisely none of them involved Trump's own money -- they were made by Trump's charitable foundation to which Trump himself donated relatively littie of his own money, many of them were free rounds of golf at Trump-owned courses, and the largest "donations" were land conservation easements.

Gizzi's story reads like a "beat sweetener" -- a flattering story written with the goal of getting a methphorical foot in the door for future access to the Trump White House.


Posted by Terry K. at 7:52 PM EDT
Monday, April 8, 2019
Newsmax's Hirsen Cheers On The Myth Behind The 'Unplanned' Movie
Topic: Newsmax

James Hirsen spent his March 25 Newsmax column gushing over the then-upcoming movie "Unplanned," cheering on the story it tells:

The movie boldly tells the true story of Abby Johnson, one of the youngest individuals in the country to ever have served as a Planned Parenthood clinic director.

After working at an abortion clinic for eight years and winning an “Employee of the Year” award, Abby had the enormously disturbing yet incredibly enlightening experience of having to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. What she witnessed was absolutely horrendous: a tiny baby inside the womb, who was in the struggle of his or her life, having to suffer through the gruesomeness of dismemberment.

Following the experience, Abby summoned up the courage necessary to leave her financially lucrative position and extensive employment stint. She walked away from the nation’s largest abortion provider and set out to launch a ministry that would help other former Planned Parenthood employees to transition out of abortion related work.

Except that's not the "true story" at all. As we documented, Planned Parenthood has stated that there were no ultrasound-guided abortions on the day that Johnson claims, Johnson did not assist on any abortion that day, and the only abortion patient that day who comes closest to the person described in Johnson's story was too early in her pregnancy to require the use of ultrasound. (Johnson stands by her version of the story and suggested Planned Parenthood doctored records to make her look bad.)

The rest of Hirsen's column is straight PR for the movie as well, parroting the producers' complaints that the film got an R rating for graphic scenes and complaining that "a teenage girl can obtain an actual abortion without her parent’s permission, but the same teenage girl is not allowed admission into a theater, minus the supervision of an adult, to view a film that includes a scene that merely depicts the real life procedure." Sticking to the script, Hirsen doesn't dare ask why the producers couldn't simply make cuts to the scene to achieve a PG rating.

Hirsen concluded his column with an over-the-top endorsement: "In honor of all the babies who have had to endure the procedure that Abby witnessed and worse, let’s all go see 'Unplanned,' and perhaps we can escort some teens and other youth who are secondary victims in this whole abortion tragedy."


Posted by Terry K. at 2:53 PM EDT

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