Late Night Open Thread: Is This the End of Sheldon Adelson?

Doubtful, very doubtful, but, per the Guardian:

A judge in Las Vegas has ruled that a lawsuit involving accusations of graft and organised crime ties to casinos owned by the multibillionaire and Republican party funder, Sheldon Adelson, will be heard in the US.

The decision raises the prospect of Adelson facing difficult questions about his business practices following allegations by a former chief executive of his highly profitable casinos in the Chinese enclave of Macau that a well-known triad crime figure was used to bring in high-rolling gamblers and of influence peddling with Chinese officials.

The case potentially has implications for Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands casinos because evidence of ties to criminal organisations could cost them their gaming licences.

It could also have a bearing on the 81-year-old billionaire’s considerable political influence. He is estimated to have spent $150m in a failed bid to secure a Republican victory over Barack Obama in the last presidential election and is being vigorously courted by Republican candidates in the next race.

Friday’s ruling follows a court battle earlier this month over jurisdiction in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit by the former chief executive of the Macau casinos, Steven Jacobs. He alleges that he was fired in part for blocking hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to a Macau legislator and lawyer because they may breach US anti-bribery laws. Jacobs also alleges Adelson opposed his attempts to break links to the triads…

Adelson is also likely to face difficult questions about his denial that his company had links to a senior Chinese official, Ng Lap Seng, who was described in court as “a courier” for Sands Macau and a link man to the Chinese government.

Ng is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee, a political advisory body in China dominated by the Communist party.

Adelson’s four days on the witness stand during the jurisdiction hearing were marked by combative answers and testimony that contradicted his own executives. He accused Jacobs of “squealing like a pig to the government” with the allegations.

Sheldon Adelson is a GOP macher because he’s got Macao casino money. Macao exists, officially, as a “safety valve” for social refugees from the puritanical Chinese government — and, more importantly, because “gambling winnings” are a great way for Chinese politicians and businessmen to disguise otherwise inexplicable cash holdings. (Ask Whitey Bulger, lucky liquor store owner & multiple lottery winner!)

Adelson’s lawyers can probably continue to drag this case out indefinitely, but a public trial would certainly be embarrassing to the various GOP candidates soliciting his pecuniary favor in 2016 and beyond. Dubya might even be inspired to ask for his painting back, although Murphy knows the Bush family is no stranger to cooperating with totalitarian regimes…








Saturday Horrorshow Open Thread

Mandatory serious, constructive links:

At Patheos’ Love, Joy, Feminism blog, Libby Anne — who grew up in a “large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right” — discusses “What You Need to Know about the Josh Duggar Police Report“.

In the Washington Post‘s “Acts of Faith” column, “How do evangelicals view the Duggars? It’s complicated.“:

On Thursday, one of reality TV’s most enduring household names became embroiled in scandal, with news that Josh Duggar, the eldest of 19, had molested several youths when he was a teenager. For a show built around the concept of a wholesome family, and with Josh a high-level staffer with a prominent social conservative D.C. advocacy group, the news triggered a quick plunge from public grace.

For many evangelicals, however, the revelation felt more personal and complicated. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who reflected an evangelical faith in their lifestyle – from limitless children to homeschooling to a father-dominated home – had always stirred debate about what it means to be a Christian family and to live out your faith. It was as if their extreme family pushed the question even harder…

As the Duggars became huge celebrities and eventually high-profile advocates for politicians including Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, evangelicals debated whether it was crazy to keep looking at them as ideals of modest Christian living…








Squeezing Blood From A Particularly Poor Stone

Arizona is one of 22 states facing a budget shortfall for fiscal year 2016 (surprise, most of them have Republican governors and/or legislatures) and in tried and true tradition, the Grand Canyon State’s billion-dollar budget hole is going to be plugged by tossing in those awful Poors.

Facing a $1 billion budget deficit, Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature has reduced the lifetime limit for welfare recipients to the shortest window in the nation.

Low-income families on welfare will now have their benefits cut off after just 12 months.

As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state’s federally funded welfare program on July 1, 2016.

The cuts of at least $4 million reflect a prevailing mood among the lawmakers in control in Arizona that welfare, Medicaid and other public assistance programs are crutches that keep the poor from getting back on their feet and achieving their potential.

“I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don’t ever let them face those consequences, they can’t get back on the path to rewards,” Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, said during debate on the budget. “As a society, we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them.”

I wonder which red state will be the first to eliminate TANF altogether, since we’re busy freeing the Poors from their plight of dependency. Also, $4 million in saving achieved, and $996 million to go. Certainly Arizona can find some more ways to punish people for the crime of being impoverished in a red state.

Cutting off these benefits after just one year isn’t fair, said Jessica Lopez, 23, who gave birth to her son while living in a domestic violence shelter and has struggled to hold onto jobs because she has dyslexia and didn’t finish high school.

“We’re all human,” said Lopez, who got $133 per month for about a year until she qualified for a larger federal disability check. “Everybody has problems. Everybody is different. When people ask for help, we should be able to get it without having to be looked at wrong.”

There are millions of angry Real Muricans out there who openly dispute Ms. Lopez’s status as “human” and don’t believe she and her son qualify for a myriad of reasons.

Arizona’s Legislature cut the budgets of an array of programs to meet the governor’s no-tax-increase pledge. The bill that included the welfare cuts received overwhelming support earlier this spring from Republicans, with just one Democrat voting in favor.

The Legislature also passed a law seeking to force anyone getting Medicaid to have a job, and cutting off those benefits after five years. And Republican leaders are suing their own state to block a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health care law, which expanded Medicaid to give more poor people health insurance.

If they prevail, more than 300,000 poor Arizonans could lose their coverage.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s office called all these cuts necessary to protect taxpayers and K-12 classrooms — even though the source of the money is the federal government.

And of course Republicans want to abolish the Department of Education and end that federal money going to states for schools. And 300,000 people losing health insurance certainly won’t be a long-term problem for an aging state like Arizona.

After all if those awful Poors die or move somewhere else, they’re no longer Arizona’s problem, are they?



Freedom By Fiat, Or Who Will Save The Bigoted Bakers?

Louisiana’s version of Indiana’s now infamous”Religious Freedom” bill has died screaming in legislative committee, so Gov. Bobby Jindal is just going to declare it law anyway because EAGLE and MURICA.

“We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will accomplish the intent of HB 707 to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman,” he explained. “This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Proponents of the bill, including sponsor Rep. Mike Johnson (R), claimed that it had nothing to do with enabling discrimination against LGBT people. Nevertheless, he specifically cited the cases of florists, bakers, and event venues that have been punished in other states for refusing to serve same-sex couples as the reason the bill was necessary. Stephen Sabludowsky of Bayou Buzz highlighted some of other examples of discrimination that the provision seems to open the door to. “A doctor working at a state institution could not be fired by the state if the doctor refused to treat a same-sex couple,” he explained, nor could the state “take action against a teacher who refused to visit with the same-sex parents of a student.”

If your argument is literally “Well, we can’t allow the state to do anything about hating the gays because God,” then good luck winning the White House in 2016. Not that Bobby here had a chance in hell anyway, but he went ahead and made good on the threat late yesterday.

Please note that just a few months ago, Jindal attacked President Obama for issuing executive orders on immigration, calling the president “lawless”.  I guess that makes Jindal just as bad, but nobody in Republicanland will point that out.

No wonder that Jindal’s approval ratings in Louisiana are tanking hard, he’s down to that magic number of 27%, which actually puts him below President Obama in the state.

Funny how that works.








Late Night Clown Show Open Thread: “America’s got talent, but the 2016 Republican field doesn’t”

Ed Kilgore, at the Washington Monthly:

With Rick Snyder and John Bolton backing away from presidential candidacies, I guess there’s now a sense of more elbow room. So today we learn that Lindsey Graham will announce for president on June 1; Bobby Jindal’s setting up an exploratory committee and announcing when the Louisiana legislative session—a source of little other than pain for Jindal—ends on June 11; and John Kasich has decided to run and will announce in late June or July.

We’re really getting to the point where the only proto-candidates who might still pull up short of the starting gate are those nobody takes seriously anyway, like George Pataki and possibly The Donald. I mean, yeah, Chris Christie ought to take a pass, too, but I don’t know if his ego will allow it. Carly Fiorina has exactly zero chance of winning the nomination, but the whole party wants her to run so she’d be nuts not to exploit months and months of rapturous conservative media attention she can bank for whatever else she wants to do…

Jeb Lund, at the Guardian:

If you are over 35 and a Republican, you are allowed one (1) free presidential campaign announcement. It’s like the coupon for a free waxpaper cup of Pepsi at a church picnic: you just get one for showing up. These are the rules, which is why, in the next few weeks, everyone else in the Republican Party will launch their campaign to not become president of the United States, because it is their right…

If you at any point in your life took a civics course, you are probably tempted to say that these are serious people who see the challenges facing America and are committed to making a positive difference for everyone… Unfortunately, here is an updated, realistic list of reasons why these remaindered-bin people from the Republican Party are running for president:

* They’re auditioning for a seven-figure commentator’s contract at Fox News.
* They’re going through an elaborate, performative book tour for a ghost-written paperweight they spent all of three hours dictating vague material for, to be sold at $24.99 a pop.
* They’re auditioning for a senior cabinet position.
* They’re driving up their speaker’s fee for corporate conferences.
* They’re raising a giant war chest for some other future project.
* They’re trying to drive the presidential election discussion further toward the fringe.

Those last two probably apply to Lindsey Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina… He doesn’t have a chance at the nomination… Instead, he’s doing what he always does, drive American bellicosity further right into blood-streaming-down-the-walls crazy. Sunday morning, for instance, Graham said that if you’re even “thinking about joining al-Qaida or Isil, I’m not gonna call a judge. I’m gonna call a drone and we’re gonna kill you.” Graham has always been someone who gives you the impression that the name he asks the barista to put on his cup at Starbucks is just a unilateral statement of American military aggression, but this most recent pronouncement was an insane first for him: we reserve the right to murder you for your thoughts

Bobby Jindal is running. Bobby Jindal is also polling worse in the (very) red state of which he is governor than Barack Obama… Bobby is probably angling very hard for a six-figure consultant salary from a think tank named The Values Liberty Tradition Foundation for America, USA. Read more