Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sheldon and Miriam Go Shopping

Sheldon Adelson wants Newt Gingrich to be the president of the United States of America and he is ready to put his money where his mouth is. Actually he all ready has. He first funneled $5 million to the pro Gingrich Super Pac, Winning Our Future. Then, apparently thinking that wasn't enough, his wife, Miriam turned around and wrote a check for another $5 million the other day. The gifts are thought to be the largest contributions made by individuals to a political campaign in US history.

This was all made possible by a conservative supreme court who ruled there shouldn't and won't be any limit on contributions by organizations or individuals to political action committees. The committees are not controlled by the candidates, but by their supporters. In short it is an end run around federal laws that limit individual campaign contributions put in effect to curb things like influence buying, which is a genteel term for bribery. Not to mention they can turn loose a barrage of advertising sludge and attacks so scurrilous that they border on being comparable to North Korean propaganda. And all the while the candidate can shrug and say something like, "Hey, I wasn't the one who said it."

According to Wikipedia, Adleson is a self made man. The son of Jewish Ukrainian immigrants, born and raised in Dorchester, a neighborhood at the southern end of Boston. He is CEO of, Las Vegas Sands Corp. which operates hotels and casinos in Las Vegas and Macao among other places. His worth is estimated at $23.3 billion, yes, that is with a "b" and that makes him the 8th wealthiest man in America and the 16th in the world. He also owns an Israeli newspaper which has the largest circulation in that country.

He doesn't like organized labor and has clashed with unions on more than one occasion at his properties. After a couple of these run ins he became a major contributor to the Republican National Committee and now, our man, Newt.

Gingrich has promised that his first act as president will be to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is a promise that probably has nothing at all to do with those contributions. Yes, and I have some ocean front property to sell you in New Jersey.

US News quotes Fred Wertheimer, the president of the campaign watchdog group, Democracy 21 as saying, "The bottom line (the supreme court super pac ruling) is that it creates the potential for one person to have far more influence than any one person should have." Parenthesise are mine.

It is good to be rich and a good time to be rich. Never has the ability to swing an election in favor of one individual by another been easier. Newt was losing in South Carolina pre Sheldon Adelson. He won going away post Sheldon Adelson.

Now Florida is up for grabs and the Adelsons have pitched in another five million.

Sheldon Adelson may not want to be president of the United States, but he certainly wants to own one. The question republicans and perhaps later this fall all of us should be asking is, what exactly does he want from his newest employee?

We may call this a democracy and we all still get to vote. However with guys like Adelson behind relentless and sometimes questionable television, print, radio, and telephone campaigns it is starting to seem less and less like one.  It is starting to appear the presidency will go to the highest bidder, rather like some sort of prize hog at a state fair.

The Iranians are scary dudes, but honestly I'm more frightened by the Sheldon Adelsons of the world. He and Miriam are here right now and they are spending like drunken sailors on leave. Like all good business people they are going to want a healthy return on their investment. And that return would appear to be the soul of the president of the United States.


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