GOP Presidential Hopefuls Bend Over Backwards To Please Donor Sheldon Adelson

GOP Elephant  - Caricature by DonkeyHotey, flickr (CC BY 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ ## If you can, hire DonkeyHotey for caricature work! ##
GOP Elephant – Caricature by DonkeyHotey, flickr (CC BY 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ ## If you can, hire DonkeyHotey for caricature work! ##

It is no secret that as part of every American presidential election campaign in recent times, presidential hopefuls seek to court the Jewish vote as part of their coalition. Speeches given by candidates at the usual lobby organizations, such as AIPAC, can typically be summed up like this: “I am the super best friend of Israel, support me!” So far, so good. Support of Israel has been a long-term position of the U.S. which I am generally in favor of. Of course it is a matter of dispute what exactly ‘friendship’ and ‘support’ mean in specific contexts.

This brings us to the long run-up to the 2016 presidential elections

Sin City brings huge GOP campaign donations

Last week, GOP presidential hopefuls traveled to Las Vegas to meet with GOP mega donor Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, at the Republican Jewish Coalition—an event inofficially dubbed “the Sheldon primary”.

Among them were Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Adelson, who is Jewish, has spent “$90 million to political candidates and super PACs in the last election cycle” and is known for his extreme right-wing positions on Israel (more on those below).

As far as reports go, all potential candidates voiced their unconditional support for Israel. So far, so predictable. But then something went wrong. In one of those statements, Chris Christie used the phrase “occupied territories.”

I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across and just felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand, the military risk that Israel faces every day.

That phrase has been frequently used by the United Nations Security Council, George W. Bush, by the U.S. government, then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and the Israeli Supreme Court —not a bunch of anti-semitic Israel haters in particular. So what is the big deal?

Stuff Sheldon Adelson says

Adelson is part of a tiny ultra-right Zionist fringe (as opposed to less extreme supporters of Israel) that sees any sort of compromise in the Middle East as betrayal. And from time to time, he does and says some truly ignorant and hateful things.

Some examples: In a 2013 speech at Yeshiva University Adelson

  • argued for a preemptive U.S. nuclear strike on unpopulated areas of Iran as a negotiating tactic: “Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business.’”
  • admitted that he is ignorant of Muslims: “I don’t know the difference between the Shia and the Sunnis.”
  • argued that Palestinians as a group do not exist: “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian. Do you know what they are? They call themselves southern Syrians.”

According to the New Republic, Adelson also bankrolled some propaganda movies that sought to cause paranoia about Muslims in general, not just religious extremists, and funded a lobby group that attempted to stop a Muslim Indian American nominee for Superior Court judgeship that had been selected by Chris Christie—supposedly because if that happened, Shariah law would take over New Jersey.

Here is a 2008 portrait of Adelson, and here is a 2012 Op-Ed from the New York Times.

Chris Christie kisses the ring

Because New Jersey Governor Christie (and the others, too) wants Adelson’s campaign dollars, he apologized for the use of the common term occupied territories in connection to Israel a boot-licking, subservient manner that can only be called a disgrace for American democracy. What matters, apparently, is not any diplomatic consensus, any long-standing U.S. foreign policy position, but the will of just one uber-rich donor who happens to be a bigoted hawkish nutjob. Here we see a politician lying prostrate, saying “Buy me, I will do whatever you please!”

Support for Israel can manifest itself in various forms apart from supporting the ultra-right fringe positions that not even the majority of people in Israel endorse. But the 2014 edition of the GOP thinks otherwise.

My two cents

Since unlike the aforementioned politicians I am not dependent on Mr. Adelson’s campaign donations, I am free to tell him what I think of his antics (although I doubt he reads this or would care). Here are a few suggestions: read more books to educate yourself about the Middle East and its inhabitants, stop funding asinine propaganda demonizing all Muslims, and quit your annihilationist fantasies.

Dreaming about mass murder is no better coming from you than when it is coming from djihadists, Nazis, or other unruly figures.

Read more:

The Line to Kiss Sheldon Adelson’s Boots.” (David Firestone, NYTimes.com, 2014/03/31)

Wall Street Threatens To Cancel GOP Fundraising

Wall Street firms are threatening to cancel GOP fundraising over banking tax proposal

Image: "Wall Street sign on Wall Street" by JSquish, Wikimedia Commons (CC_BY-SA_3.0) http://bit.ly/1kvyKWi
Image: “Wall Street sign on Wall Street” by JSquish, Wikimedia Commons (CC_BY-SA_3.0) http://bit.ly/1kvyKWi

Wall Street firms are threatening to turn off the money hose that fuels Republican election campaigns, according to a recent article in Politico. One GOP lobbyist told Politico that “commitments for big-dollar fundraising have been “canceled for the foreseeable future.”

What happened? Rep. Dave Camp had proposed a tax bill that would cut into the profits of large private equity firms.

Lobbyists from the big banks, among them Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan, are trying to stop the proposal in its tracks.

And they seem to be quite successful. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) backpedaled and told lobbyists that Camp’s proposal was just a “draft.”

At the same time, Democrats are rubbing their hands over potential campaign funds coming their way. The head of the Consumer Bankers Association put it this way:

[T]here’s no doubt some champagne corks were unleashed in Democratic circles last night. They got an early election gift

Democracy in America, 2014.

The RNC Implies That Racism “Ended” with Rosa Parks, 58 Yrs. Ago

On Twitter, the RNC implies that racism in America “ended” with Rosa Parks, fifty-eight years ago

Fifty-eight years, ago (counted back from 2013), on December 1, 1955, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, a black woman from Montgomery, Alabama, refused to step to the back of a bus to sit down in the ‘colored section,’ marking the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott to end segregationist laws in the U.S.

Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (ca. 1955) Original caption reads: "Mrs. Rosa Parks altered the negro progress in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, by the bus boycott she began. National Archives record ID: 306-PSD-65-1882 (Box 93)." Source: Ebony Magazine Source: USIA / National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group 306 This work was obtained from the now defunct United States Information Agency. In 1999 the agency was merged into the Bureau of Public Affairs which is the part of the United States Department of State. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of 17 U.S.C. § 105. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rosaparks.jpg
Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (ca. 1955)
Original caption reads:
“Mrs. Rosa Parks altered the negro progress in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, by the bus boycott she began. National Archives record ID: 306-PSD-65-1882 (Box 93).”
Source: Ebony Magazine
Source:
USIA / National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group 306
This work was obtained from the now defunct United States Information Agency. In 1999 the agency was merged into the Bureau of Public Affairs which is the part of the United States Department of State. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of 17 U.S.C. § 105.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rosaparks.jpg

The Civil Rights Movement according to the RNC

This year, the Republican National Committee sort of stepped in it with a tweet that suggested racism in America ended after Rosa Parks. As Politicususa reports, the tweet said:

Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.

That statement is very questionable, to say the least. The pronouncement of the end of racism in America is premature today, and would have been even more so by orders of magnitude almost sixty years ago.

Racism is alive and well

I would like to mention just a few issues to illustrate this reality: The Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case, the level of hostility against President Obama that goes way beyond any reasonable (and deserved!) criticism of his administration’s policies, and countless stories about harassment and excessive use of force by the police, in particular against people of color.

We, ahem, misspoke

The RNC then deleted the tweet above and replaced it with this one:

Previous tweet should have read “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.”

To be fair, everyone can make mistakes in social media. But the GOP and the RNC are not just “Joe Sixpack” who happens to have a smartphone to tweet from.

Ending racism with voter ID laws?

In the past election cycles, the GOP has been actively working to make voting harder for (poor) people of color and other demographic groups who would likely support Democrats by implementing various voter ID laws (see here, here, and here). In this light, the RNC’s honoring of Rosa Parks and their very loose interpretation of civil rights history might be seen much more cynically.

You can watch a discussion of the issue from the progressive talk show Majority Report with Sam Seder here:

Read more:

RNC Tries to Cover Tracks Over Tweet Saying Racism has Ended.” (Justin Baragona, Politicususa, 2013/12/02)

Rape Culture: Merely A Public Relations Problem For Some Politicians

Rapesploitation in American Politics

Among the many loathsome things that humans are capable of inflicting upon each other, rape is way up there. That, however, does not stop some politicians from exploiting the issue while demonstrating a complete lack of empathy for rape victims, most of whom are women. In the US, the ultra-conservative wing of the ever more conservative Republican Party has infamously been filling that niche for some time now.

Rape comments were common in the past election season

Throughout the past election season, several GOP politicians have stirred up controversy with insensitive, misogynistic comments about rape. Typical commentary contained elements such as downplaying rape, or arguing for (and proposing bills designed to) limiting women’s access to abortion in the context of rape.

Predictably, remarks of that sort have created a public relations disaster for conservative politicians, as huge chunks of women voters tend not to like being lectured by old men on what constitutes rape and how they should feel and act about it.

Shut up, those pesky TV cameras are pointed at you!

So what is the solution to all that horrible bad press? Well, one anti-abortion group has decided that it is workshops for conservative politicians teaching how to keep their beliefs on rape but tone down the rhetoric just a notch while speaking in public so that nobody will notice. According to that logic, ‘rape culture’ and the underlying desire to control women’s bodies is not the problem, but the public figuring out some politicians’ extreme positions is.

I am not so sure that women in the US will buy into this. Say what you will about people’s short attention spans. On the Internet, all those comments are still accessible. And if the past election season has shown anything, it is that the wackier politicians can’t help themselves but say outrageous things all the time.

Read more:

GOP looks for ways to stop the rape comments.” (Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico, 2013/01/11)

The real Republican rape platform.” (Jill Filipovic, Guardian, 2012/10/25)

The Republican Rape Advisory Chart.” (Bruce Wilson, Alternet, 2012/10/24)

More comments about women by prominent GOP figures:

[Conservative talk radio host] Rush Limbaugh: ‘You Know How to Stop Abortion? Require That Each One Occur With a Gun’” (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 2013/01/17) – In essence, this highly influential talk radio host says that women who seek an abortion should be killed.