Sunday, January 29, 2012

There’s more than meets the Eye with Newt

Why the hell would anyone want to back an extremely unpopular, formerly censored Speaker of the House, for the presidency?

I admit that I was puzzled by Newt’s Phoenix-like comeback in the GOP primary race…for awhile.

Then I discovered one of the richest men in the United States, with an agenda a mile long, became Gingrich’s sugar daddy to the tune of $10 million dollars.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson shook the dice and decided Newt would further his aims. In essence, Gingrich hit the jackpot.

There really couldn’t be a more appropriate name for the Super PAC supporting Newt than what it is:

“Winning our Future.”

Whose future? Not yours or mine. We’re worried about more mundane things than America’s continued relationship with Israel.

You know,little things like the stagnant economy, outrageous medical bills causing bankruptcies, home foreclosures, dwindling quality of public education, and so on.

But enough of my yapping…

Here’s a recent article on the subject:

Newt Gingrich's agenda-setting big donor

By donating $10m to the pro-Newt Gingrich Super Pac campaign, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, one of the richest men in the US, and his physician wife, Dr Miriam Adelson, have kept Gingrich in the Republican primary race, and given him the resources to win in South Carolina and, potentially, in Florida, without having to build a large donor base.

This ignored the fact that the Adelsons use their wealth to fund rightwing groups in Israel and anti-Muslim campaigns within the US, causes that are also strongly supported by Gingrich. In Israel, Sheldon Adelson has been accused of using his newspaper Israel Hayom to promote support for his friend, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is also a political ally of Gingrich. In addition, Adelson is a financial backer of the One Jerusalem group, which opposes peace negotiations that would lead to parts of Jerusalem coming under Palestinian sovereignty. The couple's Adelson Family Foundation donated $4.5m to the founding of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem, headed by Likud party former minister Natan Sharansky (pdf).

Adelson has also funded the leading pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac). Aipac is known for its strong and effective advocacy of Israel's interests in Washington, but four years ago, Adelson reportedly complained to its director that it was too supportive of the Palestinians. He has called the two-state solution a "stepping stone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people". He also reportedly supports the Clarion Fund, which produces scare-mongering films advancing the conspiracy theory that Muslims seek to impose sharia law in America.

The power of corporate money in American politics is nothing new. But the rules set by the US supreme court in its Citizens United decision – that money is speech and corporations are people protected by the first amendment – have undone the limits set by Congress in the 1970s, allowing, in this case, one family to transform the Republican primary race.

Of course, like all private funding of politics, there is no way of knowing with certainty what the Adelsons expect to achieve with their money. And the mainstream US media has been coy about referring to the Adelsons' political views. The New York Times story on the latest $5m donation to the Gingrich-supporting Super Pac merely described Sheldon Adelson as "a longtime Gingrich friend and a patron".

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