Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Amazing what $100K can buy you

Posted by Charles II on August 4, 2014

If you hadn’t heard, Richard Mellon Scaife is dead. Scaife bankrolled The Arkansas Project.

Democrats lost the Congress in 1994 not so much because of gun control legislation pushed by the Clinton White House, nor because of union disaffection with NAFTA, nor because of Hillary Clinton’s incompetence in putting together healthcare reform, although all of these contributed, but because of right-wing money used to corrupt elections and the media. The most effective of those efforts was right-wing talk radio, demagogues like Rush Limbaugh, who could never have remained on the airwaves had the FCC continued to enforce the laws that required that the airwaves must be of benefit to the community. Indeed, Limbaugh was in part a creation of Republican operative and Fox Noise chief Roger Ailes:

…Ailes’ most important contribution to the covert campaign involved his new specialty: right-wing media. The tobacco giants hired Ailes, in part, because he had just brought Rush Limbaugh to the small screen, serving as executive producer of Rush’s syndicated, late-night TV show. Now they wanted Ailes to get Limbaugh onboard to crush health care reform. “RJR has trained 200 people to call in to shows,” a March 1993 memo revealed. “A packet has gone to Limbaugh. We need to brief Ailes.”

But demagogues are of little use unless they are fed talking points. Joe Coors bankrolled the Heritage Foundation to produce laughably false talking points precisely so that these lies could be spread through conservative propaganda outlets like the Limbaugh show. Heritage became a Scaife property, along with countless other institutions devoted to undermining the ability of the American people to govern themselves.

The American Spectator was funded by Richard Mellon Scaife. The American Spectator used pseudo-investigative reporting to unearth gossip and rumors about Bill Clinton. His alumni and/or funding is behind such credits to the journalistic profession as WorldNet Daily and Newsmax.

Scaife left a small fraction of his fortune to the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art. His inherited assets go to the conservative Sarah Mellon Scaife and Allegheny Foundations to carry on his work of scarring America. And the rest to the Scaife Revocable Trust.

Scaife donated $100K to The Clinton Foundation. And Bill Clinton, ever desperate for approval, not only forgave his old enemy, but gave a eulogy at his funeral.

As someone who spent countless hours defending Bill Clinton, I am sorry I wasted the time. Richard Mellon Scaife tried to destroy democracy in this country. He largely succeeded. It is not enough to fight fiercely for what you believe, as Clinton eulogized. Every vulture, every jackal, every shark does the same. What matters is a commitment to truth and to justice. Bill Clinton has eulogized savagery, and spit on truth and justice. I cannot but wonder whether Clinto would have reconciled with Scaife if Scaife had not donated to the Clinton Foundation.

One need not hate Richard Mellon Scaife–I do not–to recognize that he was the enemy to everything good and decent about America. One need not hate Bill Clinton–I do not–to recognize that he is indeed amoral, though not in the ways his enemies said.

“The evil that men do lives after them, while the good is oft interred with their bones.” —Marc Antony in Julius Caesar
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Update. Christopher Reed, The Guardian:

Then came his [Scaife’s] curious London adventure. His father had become an officer in the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, in second world war London, and Scaife maintained an interest in clandestine activities. In 1973 he bought Kern House Enterprises, a US firm that ran Forum World Features, a London-based supplier of articles to dozens of newspapers around the world.

However, in 1975 a CIA memo from seven years earlier came to light. It described Forum as a propaganda unit sponsored by the CIA to combat communism and to further conservative politics. Scaife quickly withdrew his money amid widespread unfavourable publicity about the syndicate.

8 Responses to “Amazing what $100K can buy you”

  1. Forgiveness, for better or worse, has always been a cornerstone of the Clinton world view. He and Hillary forgave Scaife long before the hundred gees.

    Rahm Emanuel stayed on as long as he did, despite constantly doing things that made Bill want to fire him, by the simple expedient of hiding for a few minutes or hours until either Bill or Hill had simmered down, because he knew that neither of them carried LBJ-style grudges.

    I think in part it was for health reasons. If the Clintons carried around even a tenth of the wrongs done to them over the years, they both would have died of heart disease sometime around 1996. (Bill himself has become vegan because of heart problems, and he used to put away the red meat and grease like crazy.)

    • Charles II said

      You sure about the timing of forgiveness? Mark Hosenball, Newsweek:

      Last July [2007], the former president sat down with a billionaire impressed with the William J. Clinton Foundation’s campaign against AIDS in Africa. The two men chatted amiably over lunch for more than two hours, and the visitor pledged to write Clinton’s foundation a generous check. But there was something unusual, if not plain weird, about the meeting. NEWSWEEK has learned that the billionaire so eager to endear himself to the former president was Richard Mellon Scaife—once the Clintons’ archenemy and best-known as the man behind a “vast, right-wing conspiracy” that Hillary Clinton said was out to destroy them.

      Whatever the reasons for Scaife’s change of heart, it’s not hard to figure out why the Clintons would embrace a former nemesis. As they prepared for Hillary’s presidential run, the Clintons made quiet attempts to disarm, or at least neutralize, some of their most vocal opponents.

      Naturally, what happened in Clinton’s spiritual heart is something only he and God knows. But the timing of this forgiveness is interesting. Hillary reconciled with Rupert Murdoch just before running for president. And, interesting to me, their politics have swung far to the right.

      Forgiveness against serious wrongs is difficult. Political expedience is not.

      If you have some source that indicates that the Clintons forgave before the 2007 meeting, I would be interested.

      • Well, this passage from a Newsweek piece by Mark Hosenball (quoted from here:
        http://www.rigorousintuition.ca/board2/viewtopic.php?t=15527&p=158248
        ) might offer a hint:

        Whatever the reasons for Scaife’s change of heart, it’s not hard to figure out why the Clintons would embrace a former nemesis. As they prepared for Hillary’s presidential run, the Clintons made quiet attempts to disarm, or at least neutralize, some of their most vocal opponents. Last year Hillary accepted an offer from Rupert Murdoch (who always hedges his bets) to host a fund-raiser for her Senate campaign. The New York Times reported that the Clinton camp has also made efforts to open a line of communication to blogger Matt Drudge, who has served as a conduit for anti-Clinton GOP leaks.

        Ruddy, who accompanied Scaife to the Clinton lunch, says the peacemaking meeting came about after former New York City mayor Ed Koch offered to put the two together. (Koch declined to comment.) Clinton, pouring on the charm, greeted Scaife like an old friend. “President Clinton believes in redemption and moving forward,” says spokeswoman Jennifer Hanley. Ruddy says they talked about Clinton’s charitable work and avoided opening old wounds. After receiving the full Bill treatment, Scaife left with a new outlook on the man he had once set out to crush.

        To me, it would seem to show that this wasn’t about quid pro quo for the Clinton Foundation so much as it was about what Lincoln talked about when he was asked by a lady why he didn’t ‘destroy’ his enemies but instead tried to befriend them: “Madam, do I not destroy them when I make them my friends?”

        As for the ability of the Clintons to make their peace with conservatives, remember that Bill Clinton (to the surprise of many) gave the eulogy at Nixon’s funeralback in April of 1994. And Nixon hadn’t given him a cent.

        The sad thing is that Scaife was by no means the first right-wing rich guy who was out to get the Clintons by hook or by crook. Throughout the 1980s, Jerry Jones and his coterie did such nasty things to them (and with the backing of most of the state’s major media outlets) that the Clintons actually looked forward to the presidential race as they felt it would be far less sleazy than the snake pit that was Arkansas politics. (Little did they know.) They routinely sat down with Chelsea when she was growing up and carefully exposed her to some of the worst things thrown at them – so it wouldn’t throw her for a loop later.

      • Charles II said

        Right. Same Hosenball article.

        Well, ok. So perhaps reconciling with Scaife was making a deal with the devil to promote Hillary’s career, not for $100K. But in Hosenball’s telling, it sounded like the reconciliation and the $100K occurred at the same meeting. So, who really can tell?

        In any case, it was a deal with the devil.

        And, yes, maybe Clinton gave the speech at Nixon’s funeral to curry favor with Republicans. (How mealy-mouthed it sounds to say “…he knew great controversy amid defeat as well as victory. He made mistakes….” ) Bill Clinton is always trying too hard to please people, especially the wrong ones.

  2. Another thing is that (rightly or wrongly) very few people would agree that Scaife and his allies deserve all of the blame for 1994, as the evidence for their culpability hasn’t exactly been promoted assiduously by our mass media, in part because they’re in on the con.

    If one doesn’t think that Scaife et al are the key culprits, and that all the other factors cited are of far more importance, then any forgiveness given is going to be for personal injury, not for injuries to the body politic.

    • Charles II said

      Scaife does not deserve the blame for 1994. Ultimately, that falls to the Democrats who failed to pass healthcare reform, failed to pass campaign finance reform, failed to do a serious stimulus to end the recession, failed to call Newt Gingrich to account, and systematically offended their base with deals like NAFTA without environmental and wage safeguards. People like Scaife are to politics the way cockroaches are to a house. Even the cleanest house has them, but they can only really get established in the household that doesn’t attend to them.

      • “Scaife does not deserve the blame for 1994.”

        That’s not what these paragraphs would seem to say:

        If you hadn’t heard, Richard Mellon Scaife is dead. Scaife bankrolled The Arkansas Project.

        Democrats lost the Congress in 1994 not so much because of gun control legislation pushed by the Clinton White House, nor because of union disaffection with NAFTA, nor because of Hillary Clinton’s incompetence in putting together healthcare reform, although all of these contributed, but because of right-wing money used to corrupt elections and the media. The most effective of those efforts was right-wing talk radio, demagogues like Rush Limbaugh, who could never have remained on the airwaves had the FCC continued to enforce the laws that required that the airwaves must be of benefit to the community.

        […]

        But demagogues are of little use unless they are fed talking points. Joe Coors bankrolled the Heritage Foundation to produce laughably false talking points precisely so that these lies could be spread through conservative propaganda outlets like the Limbaugh show. Heritage became a Scaife property, along with countless other institutions devoted to undermining the ability of the American people to govern themselves.

      • Charles II said

        Fair enough, PW.My phrasing was poor. Let me phrase it this way:

        There are always evil people trying to do mischief. Often they have disproportionate advantages in money and power. In a reasonably fair system, they cannot succeed as long as the people who oppose them are sincerely in it for the good of the whole. In 1994, all too many Democrats were in politics as a career and a stepping stone toward making big money. Therefore, when they were faced by a powerful right-wing machine, instead of protecting the country, they protected themselves.

        Democrats lost not because of specific issues like the general unpopularity of gun control and NAFTA or Hillary Clinton’s bungling of healthcare, but because people stopped believing that Democrats were sincere in their concern for the country. They were willing to listen to demagogues because their leaders responded to high unemployment and falling wages and benefits with corporate nostrums like NAFTA and HMOs. Since Democrats could easily have done what their constituents wanted and disarmed the demagogues, morally they are to blame. Scaife, too blind to be morally culpable, was nevertheless the proximate cause of the Democratic defeat of 1994, since without his demagogues, right-wingers would have been just as discouraged and confused as the center-left.

        I know. That’s way too complicated a formulation.

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