THE BILLION DOLLAR SINKHOLE….Via Tapped, I read this fascinating David Ignatius column yesterday about the Washington Times ? which, as you all know, is owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s cultish Unification Church. It turns out that there’s increasing friction between Moon and the Times over the paper’s support for a hardline foreign policy, and “rumors about a high-level power struggle have been swirling around the Times offices.” But here’s the part that really got my attention:

The Unification Church has bankrolled huge losses at the Times, which several sources estimated have totaled more than $1 billion over the past 22 years. The paper’s losses are running about $20 million annually, one source said; another source offered a slightly higher estimate. Insiders said that Japanese backers of the church had been especially unhappy with the Times’s huge losses and with its right-wing positions on global political issues.

A billion dollars!? What on earth does the church get for that kind of dough? Legitimacy and access are the usual answers, but after 22 years and a billion dollars is the Unification Church really any better regarded today than it was in 1982? It sure doesn’t seem like it.

On the other hand, it’s not every cult leader who can get a United States congressman to crown him emperor of the United States (or something) in a ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building attended by several other United States congressmen, is it? More details are here, if you have the stomach for it.

The problem here is that Moon has vastly overestimated the United States Congress. It doesn’t take nearly a billion dollars to buy access and influence, and some straightforward bribes campaign contributions would have served him far better than buying a newspaper that even conservatives only pretend to take seriously. I guess it’s a good thing he never figured that out.

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