Sunday, January 17, 2021

Billionaire, Destroyer of Two Countries, Schondeh von der Goyim dead at 87

The Obituary Page of The Massachusetts Spy

By Luke Reschuss
Obituary Writer

With the torrent of grim news about insurrection, disloyalty, plague, and economic calamity raining down upon us, aren't you ready for some good news?

Here it is:  Sheldon Adelson is dead.

Harsh, you say, recalling his undoubtedly beneficent charitable contributions to senior housing in Boston and exposing American Jewish youth to Israel?  

We think not.  

Adelson rose from humble origins by screwing
workers like these
Let us consider the other side of the ledger: the billions he spent to variously influence and bully two nations into screwing their most vulnerable residents: the poor and powerless in the United States and the Palestinians living in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

Adelson at his death was, to use the technical financial term, rich as s***, with a fortune estimated at not less than $35,100,000,000  (down from its high point of $40,100,000,000).  Despite that insane stack of gold bars, he devoted himself to screwing the poor and powerless workers at his two Vegas casinos and, unlike most other casino moguls, adamantly resisted their efforts to form a union, as is in fact their right under federal law.

In an effort to stop union protests outside his flagship Venetian casino on the Las Vegas strip, Adelson battled the culinary workers’ union in court for a decade, all the way to the supreme court. The battle ended with a loss for Adelson in his effort to silence the protests – but there’s still no union inside the casino.

Union leaders say that Adelson’s willingness and ability to wage scorched-earth legal and publicity campaigns against unions – not his generosity – are what have kept unions out of his properties. 

So what was he doing with the billions he trousered from exploiting his workers and capitalizing on the suckers feeding their life savings into his casinos?  

Spoiler alert: it wasn't pretty.

He spent more than $500,000,000 in the past decade to elect Republicans, including $25 million to the Traitor-in-Chief and $210 million in the 2020 election alone.  But for Adelson, a shrewd hard-nosed businessman, the dough wasn't a contribution; it was an investment with a handsome return.  Our economist friend Robert Reich explains what the dear departed got from the 2017 tax cut:

Republican donors will save billions — paying a lower top tax rate, doubling the amount their heirs can receive tax-free, and treating themselves as “pass-through” businesses able to deduct 20 percent of their income . . . .

They’ll make billions more as their stock portfolios soar because corporate taxes are slashed.

The biggest winners by far will be American oligarchs such as the Koch brothers; Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor; Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate; Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets football team and heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune; and Carl Icahn, the activist investor.

The oligarchs are the richest of the richest 1 percent. They’ve poured hundreds of millions into the GOP and Trump. About 40 percent of all contributions for the entire federal election came from the richest 0.01 percent of the American population.

No one ever said Sheldon was bad at spotting promising investments, and the Republican Party, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American plutocracy, has been one of his best.  He trousered the huge tax cuts, fought off a wealth tax that would have forced him to ante up a tiny portion of the untaxed gains from his casino billions, and blocked online gambling, a competitive threat to his neon and stucco palaces of legal grift.

Indeed, his loss is felt most keenly by the Republican politicians and mouthpieces he bought and paid for:

“The corporate giving backlash, along with the tragic passing of Sheldon Adelson, leaves a real void in the fund-raising plans for the 2022 cycle,” said Scott Reed, a veteran Republican strategist who has worked with the Adelsons and other major G.O.P. financiers.

Part of the concern for Republicans, Mr. Reed added, is that the Adelsons have been so singular a force in the party that there is no replacement. “A next generation of Sheldon-level giving does not readily exist,” he said.

The 2020 cycle was the biggest yet for the Adelsons. Together they gave about $217 million, with the largest portion, $90 million, going to a super PAC that supported President Trump’s re-election. They donated another $70 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, which was devoted to maintaining Republican control of the Senate, and $50 million to the main House Republican super PAC. 

In the words of freelance snowplow driver available for overnight work between Nashua and Concord Corey Lewandowski, “womp-womp.”

There's no doubt that the evil Sheldon perpetrated in his home country was awful.  At that, it was only a tablespoon of schmaltz compared to the toxic effect he had on the country he took over, Israel.  

Although not especially frum, Sheldon had decided to express his Jewish identity by supporting Israel, or more precisely, the cruel expansionist racist variety that envisions a Jewish state including all of the Occupied Territories, with the indigenous Palestinian population either exiled or living forever subject to dictatorial rule administered by hate-fueled settlers.

The reality-based pro-Israel organization J Street said in 2018:

To the president, what appears to matter far more than peace is the support and praise of billionaire backers like Adelson. It’s an open secret Adelson was feeling frustrated that, after almost a year in office, Trump had not yet fulfilled his promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It’s also widely known that, while Adelson sometimes is described as a “strong supporter of Israel,” his political leanings and loyalties in Israel are almost exclusively with the Likud and other right-wing Israeli factions that fiercely oppose a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Adelson has consistently been a loud supporter and source of funds for expanding West Bank settlements and for holding on permanently to the occupied territory.  

Rejecting a two-state solution leaves Israel with but two options: a democratic state which will shortly lose its Jewish majority, or an undemocratic garrison state in which Palestinians are denied their right to vote (among others).   Guess which option Sheldon chose?  According to that well-known anti-Semitic hate sheet, the Forward:

Remember that Washington conference where, in November 2014, Adelson said, “[God] didn’t talk about Israel remaining as a democratic state… Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state — so what”? Still not convinced? Recall his constant warnings that the two-state solution would be “suicide” or “a stepping stone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.” . . .

Yet Adelson’s rejection of a two-state solution is on its face a rejection of Israel’s democratic characteristics. What else can one call the plan of holding millions of Palestinians as stateless subjugates in perpetuity?

Adelson's legacy to Israel is easy to see
You can call it the official policy of Netanyahu, his fellow Likudniks, and the late Sheldon Adelson.

Here as well Sheldon put his money where his mouth was.  He extracted the parole of Jonathan Pollard, who passed on vital military secrets to the Israelis to be used as they saw fit and flew him back to Israel on Adelson's private jet.  He spent millions on a free Israeli newspaper used to promote Netanyahu and eternal subjugation of Palestinians.  He lavished $67 million to buy the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel to make it harder for future American administrations to limit the fallout of hanging a sign on a consular building in Jerusalem that said “Embassy.”

At the very end of his life he broke with crooked Bibi, but his devotion to fighting a just and fair resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict never wavered, leaving peace as distant a prospect as at any time since the birth of the Zionist movement.

Condemning the American poor and working class to a crooked Republican plutocracy and Israelis and Palestinians to endless conflict, hatred, and justice is ample reason, we submit, to celebrate his death.

It's too bad that Adelson wasn't just a tad more interested in what God actually said.  He might have read the Yom Kippur Haftorah portion written by a well-regarded Jewish fellow named Isaiah:

They ask Me for the right way,

They are eager for the nearness of god:

“Why, when we fasted, did you not see?  When we starved our bodies, did you pay no heed?”

Because on your fast day you see to your business and oppress all your laborers!

Because you fast in strife and content and you strike with a wicked first! . .  . 

No this is the fast I desire:

To unlock fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of “the yoke”

To let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke.

It is to shared your bread with the hungry and to take the wretched poor into your home; . . .

Then shall your light burst through like the dawn and your healing spring up quickly; . . .

Then, when you call, the Eternal One will answer; . . .

Isaiah 58:3-9 (JPS Translation).

To which we can say “Amen.”  

But only if we the living dedicate ourselves to undoing the evil Sheldon Adelson has wrought.

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