Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Brutal Op-Ed in NYTimes on Romney's So-Called Mormon "Values"

By Dartagnan    Tue Aug 07, 2012       Original

Far be it for me to challenge the man's professed "values." Instead I'll just let Thomas Edsall's op/ed in the New York Times speak for itself:

So what was this ever-so-guarded, moralistic (“I want to clean up the moral pollution on TV and the Internet”) politician doing at a $50,000-a-couple fundraiser in Jerusalem with Sheldon G. Adelson — proprietor of one of the largest, if not the largest, gambling and casino operations in the world — seated in the honored position at his side?

There seems to be a reluctance about directly challenging a political candidate's professions of morality, particularly when they are assumed to be a product of religious belief. We don't see so-called conservative "Christians" taken to task for their blatantly unChristian votes in Congress, for example. It's only when they're caught in some horrific sex scandal that their moralizing or morality are ever brought up, and even then usually as an afterthought.  Even in the wake of a disastrous Presidency that directly and unnecessarily caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands (if not millions), we still, amazingly, don't hear people question what type of "Christian" George W. Bush was supposed to be.

But Edsall, a professor of Journalism at Columbia, is not simply waxing rhetorical when he asks exactly what "values," in fact, are driving Mitt Romney when he stoops to crawl in front of creatures like this:

Adelson and his company are under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice on allegations of foreign bribery. In addition, the United States Attorney’s office in Los Angeles is investigating whether Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corporation failed to alert authorities to millions of dollars transferred to casinos in violation of money-laundering laws, the Wall Street Journal reported on August 4.

In its 2011 Annual Report, the Sands Corp., of which Adelson is chairman and C.E.O., disclosed that

    On Feb. 9, 2011, L.V.S.C. received a subpoena from the S.E.C. requesting that we produce documents relating to our compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. We have also been advised by the Department of Justice that it is conducting a similar investigation. Any violation of the F.C.P.A. could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.

Of course, the last is just banal, boilerplate legalese, akin to anything you'd read in a company prospectus.  The "Foreign Corrupt Practices Act" --just another pesky legal bump in the road to unchecked corporate profits. And if anyone in the media ever dared to call him on this, Romney's campaign would likely respond with similar evasive boilerplate, just the way he's responded to sensible requests that he show Americans whatever career-dooming revelations are cleverly buried in his Income Tax returns.

Or then again, he might send his wife out again with something like this:

“We give 10 percent of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person who is trying to hide things, or do things? No. He is so good about it. Then, when he was governor of Massachusetts, didn’t take a salary in the four years. . . We’ve given all you people* need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life.”

You probably never heard of Sheldon Adelson before this campaign. I didn't.  He wasn't exactly a household word. It's likely he preferred it that way, much like certain creeping things prefer to remain hidden under rocks.   There's one answer, and one answer only, why Romney would--ahem--associate himself to Sheldon Adelson. Money. And specifically, money that Romney would not have to spend out of his own vast personal coffers.

There is a succinct answer to the question of why Romney would take the risk of closely associating himself with the immensely controversial Adelson: 10 million dollars — the amount Adelson and his wife have contributed to the super Pac supporting Romney, Restore Our Future.

The Adelsons are the largest donors to the Romney PAC. They have providing just over 12 percent of the $82.2 million Restore Our Future has raised so far

Here, Edsall dispenses with the journalistic taboos and takes Romney's professed Mormon "values" directly to task.  I hope he is not the last to do so:

The source of Adelson’s huge campaign contributions would appear to create a conflict with Romney’s Mormon convictions. The official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints states: “The Church opposes gambling in any form, including government-sponsored lotteries.”

Nor does Edsall let go, and again, I'm glad he doesn't:

What Mormons Believe, an unofficial web site explicating the positions of the Church declares:

The Mormon Church has always opposed gambling in every form, including government-sponsored lotteries. Mormon prophets and leaders have counseled the members over time, to avoid gambling of any type. Doing so, leads one away from righteousness and into the hands of Satan. The Mormon belief is that it is an addictive behavior and leads only to destructive habits and practices. It undermines the value of work and motivates one to think that they can get something for nothing. In time, the gambler will deny themselves, as well as their family the basic needs of life. They will oft times steal from others to finance their addiction, which in turn leads to stealing, robbery, etc.

Of course, as Edsall points out, if the rest of the U.S. media did its job (God forbid)  we wouldn't have to spend inordinate amounts of time finding all of this out about Adelson:

Romney has been fortunate that the reporting on the inquiries into Adelson’s finances by the S.E.C. and the Justice Department has been limited in scope. Most coverage of Adelson’s contributions has not included any reference to either of these investigations.

Perhaps this is just too complicated for USA Today or CNN:

Emails and other documents posted by ProPublica on July 16 raised questions about the role of Leonel Alves, a legislator and lawyer in Macau who was hired as an outside counsel to Las Vegas Sands.

*  * 

These emails revealed concerns among Adelson’s legal advisers that a large payment for legal services to Alves would set off warning bells in the sections of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department that watch out for violations of  the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

*   * 

In a Sept. 30, 2009 email, Alves wrote to Jacobs that at the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China “someone high ranking in Beijing approached me before the official dinner and invited me 2 handle issues related to the Venetian’s projects in Macau.” Alves wrote Jacobs, “There is an amount to be agreed by Mr. Adelson to settle the 2 issues. The amount to be paid to resolve the serviced apartments issue will be paid to a mutually accepted escrow agent and delivered to the gentleman upon official approval in the Official Gazette authorizing the sale of the serviced apartment.”

On Dec. 10, 2009, in another email to Jacobs, Alves wrote that he was returning to Beijing the next day and “will have chance to talk with my friends there.” Alves warned, however, that “what they request is extremely expensive (US300 m, which includes closing the Taiwanese case).”

There's more, and Edsall discusses it all. But if fellating a gambling mogul isn't enough to pique Romney's conscience, how do we really expect him react to a potential bribery investigation in violation of Federal Law?  The point is not Adelson's guilt or innocence, but what is Romney--a candidate for the American Presidency--doing hanging around with this guy in the first place? Are these the kind of "principles" we should expect from a Romney Presidency?

Again, Edsall doesn't  let go:

The toughest charges leveled against Romney as a politician have been distinctly personal: that he lacks authenticity; that he is “a phony”; that “there are two Mitt Romneys”; that he is duplicitous; that he is a hypocrite and a flip-flopper, even on the most serious issues.

Edsall's last point barely needs to be expressed. By the time you've reached the end, it's self-evident:

At a minimum, Romney could tell us how he reconciles the values he says he stands for with the basis on which Adelson’s fortune is built.

That won't happen--"at a minimum" or to any other degree. The only morals or values that Romney has are the ones that conveniently serve

his own interests.