Gamblers around the world have made Sheldon Adelson not just rich, but super-rich. Forbes ranks him 8th wealthiest in the U.S. and 14th in the world. Having greased a few palms along the way in Macao and Las Vegas helped him build his monuments to greed, avarice and addiction. Now, Adelson proposes to shower a bit of that manure on the American political process. I say “a bit” only because the $100+ million he’s whispering about donating is such a paltry part of his overall $25-billion fortune. In fact, a $100-million gift by Adelson would be equivalent to a $400 gift from an American of more modest means ($100,000 net worth). Gives you an idea of what sort of wealth we’re talkin’ about here.
The Huffington Post has the latest numbers on Adelson’s gifts and pledges to Gingrich, Romney and the Republican super-PAC machine. We’re now at $71-million and counting. There was the roughly $20 million that he’d already sunk into pal Newt Gingrich’s failed imitation of a Republican Don Quixote. Now, Republican operatives have bruited gifts and/or pledges to Karl Rove’s super-PAC ($10-million) , Romney’s ($10-million), Eric Cantor’s ($5-million), John Boehner’s ($5-million), and the Koch Brothers ($10-million). The Chamber of Commerce is raising $50-million in campaign contributions for a pro-business Republican push of which Adelson is expected to give a sizable portion. He historically gives a few mil each election cycle to the Republican Jewish Coalition, which says it plans to spend at least $5-million.
All told, the current sum is $71-million, but that’s not all. Not by a long-shot. The campaign is young, and Citizens United has been very, very good to men like Adelson, who wish to remake the American political landscape into a mirror image of their own particular mix of avarice and extremism.
The talk is that he’ll give $100-million “at least,” by the end of the campaign. That’s what I used to think and wrote here a few months ago when he’d only given $20-million. But I think Adelson is a bit like his own gambling customers. Not only is he addicted to far-right politics, he’s gonna sink more money into this campaign as it sucks him in even deeper, in order to prevent an Obama victory. All of which is likely to have been in vain since it appears fairly likely at this point (barring any possible Obama screw-ups) that Romney will lose. I wouldn’t put my money on it (Shelly might take my bet!), but it appears likely. Adelson isn’t putting all his money on one horse though. Just in case Romney tanks, he’s going to sink a lot of dough into turning Congress even redder than it already is (‘red’ as in Republican, not as in socialist, God forbid).
Frankly, I think we’re now talking north of $150-million, maybe even $200-million for Adelson.
How many rubes are there out there who actually believe that any of this embarrasses the SCOTUS solons who brought us this new sort of politics as casino gambling? And do Americans even care that this is prostituting our political process? I guess they care, but not enough to do anything about it.
The biggest zinger of today’s news is that John McCain (remember that Oldie, but goodie the McCain-Feingold Act?). He called Adelson’s donations “foreign money.” At first, my anti-Semitism meter was deep in the red zone, thinking he was calling Jews a foreign element in American political life. Of course, given that McCain comes from a ramrod straight, WASP military family, there might be a healthy dose of anti-Semitism creeping in his closet.
But after reading the Washington Post version of the story, I realized McCain was attacking the origin of much of Adelson’s wealth–Macao and China’s nouveau riche. In this, he has a valid point. Imagine that China has an urgent interest it needs addressed in its relations with the U.S. Why wouldn’t it turn to Adelson as its water carrier? If, like me, you’re deeply suspicious of Chinese motives on a variety of issues, it’s not at all far-fetched to see Adelson as an agent of a foreign power. Can he afford not to carry water for China when it’s the moving engine of his gambling empire?
Regarding Adelson’s obsession with Israel, McCain’s comments are also dead spot on. He is an ardent supporter of Bibi Netanyahu and his maximalist ultranationalist political agenda. He will bend any Republican candidate he backs into an abject, slavish supporter of such an uber-Israel agenda. Not that the Republicans have ever been lacking in fealty to Aipac. Just that for Adelson, even this isn’t enough. He doesn’t just want support for Israel, he wants support for a Pax Israeliana in the Middle East. That is, a Middle East in which Israel dominates the region and sets the military and economic agenda. Any power that threatens Israeli hegemony, whether it be Iran or Turkey, will be swatted down viciously. That’s the sort of Middle East Adelson imagines.
Today’s political news brings a further reminder of this. Speaking to Ralph Reed’s new evangelical political vehicle, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Romney said that given a choice between an Iranian bomb and an Israeli attack on Iran, he’d gladly choose the latter:
Romney got applause when he said he would be “the opposite” on U.S. relations with Israel and Iran to President Obama. “He’s [Obama] almost sounded like he’s more frightened that Israel might take military action than he’s concerned that Iran might become nuclear,” Romney said.
And John McCain has the temerity to think that Republicans might have a few other valid items on their agenda that might depart from this obsession of Adelson’s!
On one thing McCain and I agree: Sheldon Adelson does have an agenda that involves promoting the interests of a foreign power (two, actually) inside the American political system. But unlike a lobbying group that might be required to register as an agent of a foreign power, Adelson will eventually own the entire political discourse (if we’re not careful). Of course, what’s hypocritical in this is that if McCain were running for president this year, he’d be crawling hat in hand to Adelson’s suite at the Las Vegas Sands, just as Romney has done. As Jess Unruh said decades ago: “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Sheldon Adelson may not have breasts, but he sure has the money and the power.
Deïr Yassin says
“Adelson’s obsession with Israel”
Excerpts from a speech by Adelson earlier this year in Israel:
“I’m not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF…..
Our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he’ll come back – his hobby is shooting – and be a sniper in the IDF.”
“All we care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel because even though I’m not an Israeli, Israel is in my heart”
Last I looked it up, Sheldon Adelson was the 16th richest man in the world.
Le speech by Adelson is embedded.
Deïr Yassin says
Another reason to reform campaign finance law. If it wasn’t bad enough when Ross Perot tried to buy his way into the White House, Adelson makes Perot look like a piker.
Adelson’s motivations are clear enough – he wants to buy a servant who will make Israel more important than the US, to back any candidate whom he can make into an Israel Firster. First Adelson chose Gingrich, but when that horse went lame, he put his money on Romney. You can bet that if the devil himself were running for POTUS, Adelson would be waving money in his direction.
Because Adelson’s motives are so transparent, this alone should raise the eyebrows of all people who are concerned with rich guys running the country. In other words, it should raise the eyebrows of all people, period.
Bob Mann says
So the fact that there is foreign money coming in from China does not concern you? Do you not worry that Adelson might be China’s water carrier as suggested by this piece?
He is carrying water for Israel, just as he says.
Reading McCain’s genuine concerns in conjunction with Adelson’s quotations (as given by DY above), should worry every American, and seriously scare American Jews.
Perceived grossly disproportionate power wielded by a distinct small minority to promote their own distinct agenda is a recipe for a major disaster.
Given the fickle nature of American public opinion, the widespread unconditionally pro-Israeli sentiment is no warranty against such disaster.
Bob Mann says
McCain was talking about money coming in from China. What does that have to do with American Jews? Romney’s position with respect to Israel was already in line with Adelson’s. That’s one of the reasons he was so keen to give him money once Newt was out of the picture. Good thing more reasonable people like George Soros who do not hold Adelson’s views can donate liberally to the Obama campaign. Although it seems that some here aren’t particularly happy with Obama either with respect to his position vis-a-vis Israel and the region in general. Is there a third party candidate worth looking at?
Yes there is.
Since Adelson supports the settlements, and does nothing for peace, he and his agenda should be declared ‘foreign influence’. I’m less concerned about the Chinese influence, than his influence on Likud and settler agenda. The reason, being since the US is deep in debt to China, China must be keeping an eye on the US, since her own economy depends on it. Sheldon (along with others) probably is, an agent for China too. Remember, if Obama wins, then Sheldon knows that Israel shouldn’t put all her eggs in one basket.
He is a nefarious character, with his ill gotton gains..compare him to George Soros and weep.
Is there a third party candidate worth looking at?
Yes. How about a new star, like Max Blumenthal. I think the US needs someone like him, new blood, new party, and ass kicking attitude.
He’d be ideal to lead a new party, he knows the Christian Right very well, in fact I think he is America’s best authority on the Republican Party. He’d be ideal for Middle East peace, too.
Plus, because of his father, he already has connections. He’s ideal. What sayeth ye?
Richard Silverstein says
Max will die laughing! On his behalf though, I’ll thank you for wishing a thankless job on him.
Indeed it’s a thankless job, but the ideal people to lead are usually those who are not inspired by the reasons politicians go into politics, (power, wealth, status).
You never know, if Max ever decides to run, he’ll have hugh backing..people are longing for a new party instead these two parties, wayyyyyyyyy past their sell by date 🙂
It’s 2012, time for new blood, fresh innovative, realistic to take over.
Anyone know where Sheldon Adelson’s roots are from? He’s a bit strange looking with his orange hair, and squinty eyes
Deïr Yassin says
Maybe you should read his wikipedia page….
1. RS — I am astonished that your “anti-Semitism” meter was in the red, i.e. that it is so sensitive just like ADL or Israel Firsters would calibrate it! AMCHA co-founders recently established an “investigative Taskforce on campus anti-Semtism”. Their idea of anti-Semitism, would you believe, is any criticism of Israel. I asked them to provide information on students being beaten up because they were Jewish, or barred from joining this or that club because of their ethnicity, etc. Good old fashioned anti-Semitism, you know. They haven’t answered. Anyway — you need to recalibrate your “AS meter” to stop these false readings.
2. Adelson gives me the willies! All that money (from sleazy business) to subvert American democracy and promote the Jewish land grab in the WB! He is the best advertisement for US campaign reform yet to come along and should be used as such. Just a picture of him, as someone says here, that orange hair and beady eyes, that should do the trick. He is unambiguously BAD. (Or is your AS meter redlining yet again?)
I think Richard meant it in the sense that WASP’s (who were anti semitic till recent times) wouldn’t want a Jewish President. it’s the same flak Obama got, for being a half black, and a half Muslim. In any case, he only gave the benefit of the doubt.
Remember it was McCain wasn’t it who said he’d rather see a Christian President, or was that Bush who said that? I can’t remember, but the Republican party is the party of bigotry, pettiness and meaness.
REad Max Blumenthals book, “Republican Gomorrah”
As Roseanne Rosannadanna said: “Never Mind!”
Right actress, wrong character: you are thinking of Emily Litella.
It makes you wonder how long ordinary Americans will go on supporting a political system that they have been priced out of.
Sheldon Adelson is a disgrace. You’d think he’d use his wealth wisely, and try to end the conflict. Why doesn’t he support and help the peace process? It’s one thing for the illiterate ignorant Armeggeddon cult to fund settlements because they think Jews will blow up in a HOlocaust while they are raptured, but he doesn’t believe this.
Does he see so much gambling in his casinos that he thinks real life will be like his gambling?
Maybe he doesn’t support the peace process because he knows it’s bullshit. If that’s so, then he’s only being realistic.