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Jack Abramoff’s ‘Cesspool of Corruption’

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Posted on Jan 3, 2006

By Robert Scheer

Update: links to stories about Abramoff’s funneling of charity funds for inner-city youths to ultra-left-wing Jewish groups fighting the Palestinian uprising.

Or, jump straight to the constantly updated list of Abramoff-related news stories.

Column

Top Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff is set to sing, and his long list of former buddies in Congress and the Bush administration are quaking in anticipation of possible indictments stemming from the consummate Beltway hustler’s crass reign as the king of K Street.

“Casino Jack,” a former head of the College Republicans and a “Pioneer”-grade fundraiser for the Bush 2000 campaign, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion in D.C. yesterday and is set to appear in Florida today to plead guilty to fraud and conspiracy on separate charges. Abramoff and other defendants also must repay over $25 million to defrauded clients and $1.7 million to the IRS.

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But most important for the nation is that Abramoff is now detailing the massive web of corruption he spun inside the Beltway which has already snared a top Bush official, procurement chief David H. Safavian, on charges of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation, and reportedly threatens dozens of other D.C. players.

“When this is all over, this will be bigger than any [government scandal] in the last 50 years, both in the amount of people involved and the breadth to it,” Stan Brand, a former U.S. House counsel who specializes in representing public officials accused of wrongdoing, told Bloomberg News. “It will include high-ranking members of Congress and executive branch officials.”

Some of the Wild West feel of this Beltway corruption was captured in Saturday’s Washington Post expose, “The DeLay-Abramoff Money Trail.” It documents in chilling detail how, among other scams, Abramoff funneled a portion of the millions he had been skimming from Indian casino operators with a cool million from two Russian energy moguls through a shell organization called the U.S. Family Network—and from there into the coffers of politicians in a position to help his clients.

Ironically touting its commitment to “moral fitness” for the nation, the front group with the multimillion-dollar budget had a single staff member housed in the backroom of a capital townhouse it owned and rented out to other organizations linked to Abramoff and Tom DeLay—the latter’s staffers called it, ominously, DeLay’s “safe house.” This is apparently why DeLay felt the need to tout the U.S. Family Network in a 1999 fundraising letter as “a powerful nationwide organization dedicated to restoring our government to citizen control.” 

It was run by Edwin A. Buckham, DeLay’s former chief of staff, whose lobbying firm, the Alexander Strategy Group, carried DeLay’s wife Christine on its payroll. But the moral “fitness” of such cronyism pales in comparison to the scandal of how Abramoff drummed up support for his varied clients under the cover of conservative morality.

For example, in order to block the ambitions of a rival tribe to the Choctaw Indians, who had paid Abramoff millions, the U.S. Family Network sent a mailing to Alabama residents warning shrilly: “The American family is under attack from all sides: crime, drugs, pornography, and one of the least talked about but equally as destructive - gambling. We need your help today to prevent the Poarch Creek Indians from building casinos in Alabama.” The letter conveniently failed to mention, however, that the U.S. Family Network had received at least $250,000 from the gambling proceeds of the Choctaws.

In another scam detailed in the Post story (which could be quickly optioned by Hollywood for a thriller), players in the mafia-dominated Russian energy industry slid a cool $1 million payment through a now-defunct London law firm into the U.S. Family Network’s account - which was, de facto, a slush fund for the Abramoff-DeLay network.

Citing the Rev. Christopher Geeslin, who served as a titular leader of the U.S. Family Network, the Post reported that Buckham told the reverend the payment was intended to secure DeLay’s support on legislation forcing the International Monetary Fund to bail out the faltering Russian economy without demanding the country raise taxes on its energy and other profitable industries. Right on cue, DeLay found his way onto Fox News Sunday to take up the Russian’s viewpoint: “They are trying to force Russia to raise taxes at a time when they ought to be cutting taxes in order to get a loan from the IMF,” he said. “That’s just outrageous.” The IMF backed down.

This is just an initial peek into the sordid world being revealed by Abramoff and two of his key cronies now spilling the beans to federal investigators. But in the bigger picture, what we are witnessing is the death throes of the GOP “revolution” which once promised to restore morality to Washington but instead sank far deeper into the cesspool of corruption.

More Truthdig Opinion by Robert Scheer

Tonto’s Revenge
Dec. 07, 2005 | “The outrageous rip-off of Native American tribes by a top Republican lobbyist is leading inexorably to a reckoning for the allegedly morally superior religious and political right.” more

A Prediction
Dec. 02, 2005 | “It’s the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, not Iraq, that will unravel the Bush empire.” more

Mr. Abramoff Goes to Washington
    The White House has tried hard to distance itself from Abramoff in the wake of the allegations against him.  White House spokeswoman Erin Healy told the Associated Press in May that Bush did not consider Abramoff a friend. “They may have met on occasion, but the president does not know him,” she said.
    That may be, but, as the AP reported, Abramoff’s cultivation of President Bush dates as far back as 1997, when the lobbyist secured the then Texas Governor’s support for an issue related to the Marianas islands. Abramoff was also a $100,000-plus fundraiser (a so-called “Pioneer) for Bush, and the AP noted that Mr. Abramoff and his lobbying team logged “nearly 200 contacts with the new administration.” According to the AP, those contacts included:
  • Cheney policy advisors Ron Christie and Stephen Ruhlen
  • Former Attorney General John Ashcroft
  • White House intergovernmental affairs chief Ruben Barrales
  • U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick
  • Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles

In addition, at least two people who worked for Abramoff “wound up with Bush administration jobs: Patrick Pizzella, named an assistant secretary of labor by Bush; and David Safavian, chosen by Bush to oversee federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget.”

 

Plea

Jack Abramoff’s Plea Agreement (pdf)

 

Timeline

Jack Abramoff’s Career Overview
Timeline | The Washington Post’s timeline of Abramoff’s career. more


Clippings

Lobbyist’s Downfall Leads to Charities’ Windfall
Jan. 06, 2006 The “New York Times” allows you to follow the money on Abramoff and the folks he scammed and corrupted. | more

Abramoff Reached Beyond the Limits
Jan. 04, 2006 | The Los Angeles Times chronicles Abramoff’s early years, stretching as far back as 1972, when, in his high school’s race for student council president, Abramoff was disqualified for exceeding an election spending cap. more

Abramoff Pleads Guity To Second Set of Fraud Charges
Jan. 04, 2006 | “Once-powerful lobbyist Jack Abramoff completed the second half of his plea deal with the government Wednesday by admitting to conspiracy and wire fraud charges stemming from his 2000 purchase of a gambling boat fleet,” the Associated Press reports.

The Money Trail: Many Millions in Kickbacks From Tribes
Jan. 4, 2006 | The New York Times details how Abramoff amassed over $20 million from Indian tribes in five states over just three years. more

Abramoff Pleads Guilty, Will Make Deal
Jan. 3, 2006 |  Abramoff pleads guilty to federal charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud, agreeing to cooperate in a corruption investigation that could rock the Republican Congressional leadersip. more

The DeLay-Abramoff Money Trail
Dec. 30, 2005 | Details emerge about how Abramoff helped Russian energy executivess funnel $1 million to Delay-linked organizations. more

The Fast Rise and Steep Fall of Jack Abramoff
Dec. 29, 2005 | Profile piece by the Washington Poston how Abramoff amassed his influence, and then fell from grace. more

Lobbyist Nears Terms on Plea Deal
Dec. 22, 2005 | Anne E. Kornblut reported for The New York Times: “Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist under indictment for fraud in South Florida, is expected to complete a plea agreement in the Miami criminal case, setting the stage for him to become a crucial witness in a broad federal corruption investigation, people with direct knowledge of the case said.” more

Making Sense of the Abramoff Scandal
Dec. 20, 2005 | Geov Parrish of Alternet provides an excellent overview of the Abramoff lobbying scandal and the people involved. more

Lobbyist’s Ex-Associate Pleads Guilty to Fraud
Dec. 16, 2005 | John-Thor Dahlburg of the L.A. Times wrote: ” A former business associate of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty Thursday to fraud and conspiracy charges related to a deal to buy a fleet of Florida-based gambling boats, the latest twist in a federal inquiry that has reached to Congress.” more

President Says DeLay Is Not Guilty of Money Laundering
Dec. 15, 2005 | Jim VandeHei reported for the Washington Post, “President Bush said yesterday he is confident that former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) is innocent of money-laundering charges, as he offered strong support for several top Republicans who have been battered by investigations or by rumors of fading clout inside the White House.” more

Plea Deal Near With 2nd Abramoff Associate: Kidan Has Agreed to Cooperate in Probes
Dec. 9, 2005 | Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi of the Washington Post reported: “Federal prosecutors have all but finalized a plea agreement with a second business partner of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for cooperation in the ongoing criminal investigations of Abramoff, congressional aides and Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), lawyers in the case said yesterday.” more

Records Show Burns’ Abramoff Meetings
Dec. 7, 2005 | The Associated Press reported:  “Sen. Conrad Burns and his staff met Jack Abramoff’s lobbying team on at least eight occasions and collected $12,000 in donations around the time that the lawmaker took legislative action favorable to Abramoff’s clients in the Northern Mariana Islands, records show.”
more

In a Season of Scandals, Ethics Panels Are on Sidelines
Dec. 5, 2005 | Jeffrey H. Birnbaum of the Washington Post reported: “The House ethics committee, the panel responsible for upholding the chamber’s ethics code, has been virtually moribund for the past year, handling only routine business despite a wave of federal investigations into close and potentially illegal relationships between lawmakers and lobbyists.” more

Senator Byron Dorgan, Leader of Indian Lobbying Investigation, Admits to Collecting Gifts from Abramoff Client
Dec. 3, 2005 | John Solomon and Sharon Theimer of the Associated Press reported: “The Democrat helping to lead the Senate investigation into Jack Abramoff’s Indian lobbying had his own connections to the controversial lobbyist’s team and clients, including using his sports arena skybox to raise money.” more

Doolittle and Abramoff Connections
Dec. 2, 2005| The Sacramento Bee reported: “The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post have reported that investigators and prosecutors in the U.S. Justice Department’s public integrity and fraud divisions are looking into disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s dealings with four lawmakers. One of them is Rep. John Doolittle, a Republican from Rocklin, Calif. (The others are former House Majority Leader DeLay, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, and Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.)” more

Lobbyist’s Role in Hiring Aides Is Investigated
Dec. 2, 2005 | Anne Kornblum reported for The New York Times: “With a federal corruption case intensifying, prosecutors investigating Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist, are examining whether he brokered lucrative jobs for Congressional aides at powerful lobbying firms in exchange for legislative favors, people involved in the case have said.” more

The Plot Thickens
Nov. 28, 2005 | Karen Tumulty and Massimo Clabresi of CNN report: “How far will it go? That’s what many nervous officials in Washington are wondering as they brace for what is showing signs of becoming the biggest influence-peddling scandal in decades. An investigation that began nearly two years ago into whether lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associate Michael Scanlon bilked six Indian tribes out of $80 million now looks as though it could touch dozens of lawmakers, their current and former staff members and Bush Administration officials.” more

Under Scrutiny in Probe of Lobbyist
Nov. 26, 2005 | Ney, DeLay and the Abramoff connection. Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi of The Washington Post report: “The Justice Department’s wide-ranging investigation of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has entered a highly active phase as prosecutors are beginning to move on evidence pointing to possible corruption in Congress and executive branch agencies, lawyers involved in the case said.” more

Questions on Campaign Fundraising
Nov. 25, 2005 | Carl Hulse of The New York Times writes: “The American system of underwriting political campaigns is often derided as legalized bribery. Now the Justice Department is contending that it can amount to illegal bribery as well.” more

Lawmakers Who Wrote Letters, Got Money
Nov. 17, 2005 |  The Associated Press reported: “The 33 lawmakers who wrote letters urging the Bush administration to reject a Louisiana Indian casino as they collected political money from rival tribes, their lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates between 2001 and 2004.” See the list

Lobbyist Sought $9 Million to Set Bush Meeting
Nov. 11, 2005 | Philip Shenon of The New York Times reported: “The lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of a West African nation to arrange a meeting with President Bush and directed his fees to a Maryland company now under federal scrutiny, according to newly disclosed documents.” more

Abramoff Indicted in Casino Boat Purchase
Aug. 12, 2005| James V. Grimaldi reports for The Washington Post: “Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a business partner were indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, charged with five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy in their purchase of a fleet of Florida gambling boats from a businessman who was later killed in a gangland-style hit….” more

Controversial lobbyist had close contact with Bush team
May 6, 2005 | The Associated Press reported: “In President Bush’s first 10 months, GOP fundraiser Jack Abramoff and his lobbying team logged nearly 200 contacts with the new administration as they pressed for friendly hires at federal agencies and sought to keep the Northern Mariana Islands exempt from the minimum wage and other laws, records show….The records from Abramoff’s firm, obtained by The Associated Press from the Marianas under an open records request, chronicle Abramoff’s careful cultivation of relations with Bush’s political team as far back as 1997.” more

Possible Defense: “Don’t Scapegoat My Client”
May 5, 2005 | A preview of the defense? Abbe Lowell, attorney to Jack Abramoff wrote this opinion piece for USA Today back in May 2005 relating to his client’s dealings with Indian tribes and SunCruz casinos. (Hat tip to reader John Stevenson for pointing out this piece)

Jack Abramoff: The friend Tom DeLay can’t shake
April 7, 2005| James Harding writes for Slate: “Where to begin examining the extraordinary career of Jack Abramoff? His work trying to secure a visa for the great Zairian kleptocrat Mobutu Sese Seko, perhaps, or the bilking of an estimated $66 million out of Native American tribes, clients he described as “monkeys,” “troglodytes,” and “idiots”? Or his leadership of a 1980s think tank financed, unbeknownst to him apparently, by the intelligence arm of South Africa’s apartheid regime?” more

Foundation’s Funds Diverted From Mission
Sept. 28, 2004 | R. Jeffrey Smith, writing in the Washington Post, details how Abramoff channelled nearly $6 million into a charity for purportedly inner-city youths, and spent the money on unrelated political causes, a short-lived religious school and an overseas golf trip, among other things. more

 

  • Related: In May of 2005, Newsweek‘s Michael Isikoff reported that the FBI had learned that Abramoff diverted more than $140,000 from the sham charity to help Jewish settlers mobilize against the Palestinian intifada. “Among the expenditures: purchases of camouflage suits, sniper scopes, night-vision binoculars, a thermal imager and other material described in foundation records as ‘security’ equipment.”
  • At $500 an Hour, Lobbyist’s Influence Rises With G.O.P.
    April 3, 2002 | David E. Rosenbaum reported for The New York Times: ” In the last six months of 2001, the Coushatta Indians, a tribe with 800 members and a large casino in southwest Louisiana, paid $1.76 million to the law firm of Jack Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist here. Last month, the Bush administration handed the tribe a big victory by blocking construction of a casino by a rival tribe that would have drained off much of the Coushattas’ business.” more

     

     

    INDICTMENTS, PLEA BARGAINS AND LEGAL DOCUMENTS

    Senate Office of Public Records: Abramoff Lobbying Clients and Related Documents

    Michael P.S. Scanlon Plea Agreement
    Nov. 21, 2005| Plea Agreement (pdf): Pete Yost of the Associated Press reported: “Michael Scanlon, a former partner to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to bribe public officials, a charge growing out of the government investigation of attempts to defraud Indian tribes and corrupt a member of Congress. Scanlon, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle and agreed to pay restitution totaling more than $19 million to the tribes. Scanlon, who is expected to cooperate in the investigation of Abramoff and members of Congress, could face up to five years in prison.” more

    Adam R. Kidan and Jack A. Abramoff Indicted on Charges of Conspiracy and Wire Fraud
    Aug. 11, 2005 | Press release: “R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael S. Clemens, Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced today the return of an Indictment by a federal grand jury sitting in Ft. Lauderdale charging defendants, Adam R. Kidan and Jack A. Abramoff, with Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and five (5) counts of Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. The Indictment also seeks criminal forfeiture in the approximate amount of $60 million. The statutory maximum penalty for each of the six (6) counts contained in the Indictment is five (5) years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.” more

    Evidence for the Comittee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Lobbying Practices
    Collections of emails, scanned checks, letters and facsimiles entered as evidence in the corruption and bribery investigation and hearing on lobbying practices.

  • Exhibits Nov. 17, 2005
  • Exhibits Nov. 2, 2005
  • Exhibits June 22, 2005 part 1
  • Exhibits June 22, 2005 part 2
  • Exhibits Sept. 29, 2004
  • Exhibits Nov. 17, 2004
  • Oversight Hearing on the In Re Tribal Lobbying Matters, et al.
    June 22, 2005 | Witness List, View hearing, PDF Transcript

    Oversight Hearing on the In Re Tribal Lobbying Matters, et al.
    Nov. 2, 2005 |Witness List, View Hearing

    Oversight Hearing on the In Re Tribal Lobbying Matters, et al.
    Nov.17, 2005 |Witness List, View Hearing

     

    WEB RESOURCES

     

  • Jack in the House
  • JackintheHouse.org explores the world of GOP super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who spent years trading money for influence in the halls of Congress. The site provides a road map to Abramoff’s unscrupulous backdoor deals with ethically challenged members of Congress and provides a means for visitors to urge the chairman of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to take action against those who have worked for Jack’s interest, rather than the public interest.” JackintheHouse.org is a project of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington: The Abramoff File
  • CREW’s coverage and to-the-minute clippings of news articles relating to Jack Abramoff’s “Web of Corruption.”

  • SourceWatch: Jack Abramoff
  • SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, is an open-access database of people, issues and groups shaping the public agenda.

    GRAPHICS

     

  • The Abramoff Galaxy

  • Info-graphic by the Washington Post on how Abramoff set up myriad “interlocking political and business entities to raise money, pay for lawmakers’ trips and other favors, fund his pet projects, and gain influence for himself and his clients.”

    How Abramoff Spread The Wealth

  • Info-graphic by the Washington Post on how Abramoff collected millions in fees from Indian tribes and distributed it to Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

  • Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
    “The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


    Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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    If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

    By bob bauer, January 12, 2006 at 2:35 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    like president bush thinks, tom delay thought he was above the law. it will be refreshing to see him in handcuffs on his way to jail saying he didn’t do anything wrong or influence others to do wrong.

    Report this

    By Steven Domingos, January 9, 2006 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I propose: we all throw in a dollar. The one who can outline all of the points in Bob Scheer’s Abramoff scandal report and related materials—wins the pot.

    “Scooter” has volunteered to judge the contest for 10% until his new job kicks in.

    Here’s my dollar now…boing!! (Dollars go boing when they hit the pot.}

    (By the way, I am not cheating; I haven’t even started the reading.)

    Report this

    By Connie Nowe, January 9, 2006 at 12:41 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Beware of those who preach Morality and Religion, because it is usually a front for the “Worst Kind of Ethics” known to man.  G.W.Bush said, we will clean up the White House, bring families together and make this, the “Holier than thou” ADM.  In his first speech to the U.S., he indicated war would be on the docket..“Preplanned” before he even got the nomination…..Tho’ it has never been declared, legally, we’re at war….He said the economy would go higher with a Republican staff, and thus far, we are about to “tank!’  He said jobs would be plentiful and yes, they are, but not here in the U.S.  You would have to travel across the seas to get them, pennies for wages…...He changed the Blue rug in the Oval room to take the scandal out, and added his own White Rug scandal of “Corruption!”  From Blue, to White but the name remained the same.  He kept repeating and repeating the same thing, and hoped it would resignate amongst those nonbelievers, but, along the way came a few who thought the people ought to know what was really going on behind the scenes, and are now singing like “cuckoo birds!’ We’ve only hit the surface, and it is what lies below that dark layer, that will bring this Republican Party down….  Had this been a Democratic Congress, G.W. Bush and ADM would have been long gone by now, but because it is all Republican, those in charge, are too afraid to slice the meat….There is more ‘blood’ dripping, and we have only begun to scrape the top layer…more to come as the birds chirp….Surprise!!!  The sleepless nights are returning to the GOP…..You play, you pay!!  It appears a few got a little too “cocky” and thought life stood still for them…...

    Report this

    By Jan Lentz, January 8, 2006 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    That has been the hallmark of this terrible, terrible pack of jackals, going back to George’s governor days in Austin:  unspeakable arrogance in their agenda to turn the constitution (both Texas and U.S.) upside down and ride roughshod over any and every law they had a hankering to break!  They took the concept of “ruthless” to another level than any of us could imagine, and are still wreaking their havoc, this very moment!  No wonder George’s voice cracked recently—“as long as I am Commander in Chief.”  He KNOWS his, Cheney’s, the whole nasty bunch’s culpability in this lawlessness!  Earth to GOP:  IT—IS—OVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!  You didn’t get your lackey’s installed at the Supreme Court quickly enough to indemnify your crimes.  No more teflon George!  Now, for once, behave like a MENSCH, and resign, and spare our country another moment of your treasonous betrayal!

    Report this

    By Steven Domingos, January 8, 2006 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Speaking of Susan Block again—you don’t want to miss this:

    http://www.drsusanblock.com/editorial/terror/bushcondoms.htm

    Report this

    By Mark Andresen, January 7, 2006 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    And yes, beware the prince.
    Somethings never change, just the players…

    Report this

    By handsignals4the Blind, January 7, 2006 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Do you really think your going to get a full investigation of this?(like the discredited and limited 9-11 Commission)

    The tentacles of deceit spread much further and have more worrying implications.

    Abramoff is also connected to the Imelda Marcos faction competing for GUAM based telecommunications company, which if they get their way will be used as a portal for WORLD wide INternet gambling- a great way to launder money.

    Jack ABramoff African- Gabon client-President Omar Bango-served on an Islamic Bank tied to Al Queda- Bongo is connected to Viktor Bout-weapons smuggler

    The other scandal- Randy Duke Cunningham bribery scandal- connected with Brent Wilkes, who, dispensed large amounts of money to Abramoff. Both these guys worked for a Honduran company accussed of cocaine trafficking—-World Finance corp- IRAN CONTRA scandal—EXPOSE THESE RELIGOUS HYPOCRITES!

    Report this

    By Steven Domingos, January 4, 2006 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Now that I have come down a little bit, (by all means see Susan Block’s website:)...

    http://www.drsusanblock.com/blog/blog.asp

    ...I must say that the Republicans do indeed appear to be on the way down—‘the tubes’ as they say where I come from. However, let’s be realistic: somesone wrote (Bob Scheer?), that while although we don’t exactly have only one political party in this country, the two that we do have are parties for the top tier of the U.S. population.

    Presumably that would nean, no lower that about the top 20% financially, maybe higher. you guys tell me what you think. (I think that the article I read said top 1 or 2 %!)

    So, who’s interests do the political parties in this country represent? And, are the dems. really better at representing the middle and lower financial tiers?

    I think that the question to ask is, what would we get with a White House team of Hillary and Bill again? (And maybe one house of Congress.} I know, it gives a warm fuzzy feeling, but come on! What, as progressives, are we hoping for this country? What does that really mean? Will we just go to sleep again if the Dems. come back?

    By the way, I know that there is more to hope for from politics than economic and social justice. But, I want to know how patriotism and reverence for our Country’s Heritage are used by politicians as covers behind which they implement and facilitate the fleecing of the U.S. citizenry.

    Report this

    By Sylvia Barksdale Morovitz, January 4, 2006 at 9:21 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Once again Robert Scheer has hit the nail on the head!
    The corruption oozing from the Bush administration resembles a killer virus and none are exempt.
    Other than Bush’s war on Iraq, the Abramoff crimes are very close to the tip of the iceberg.  Personally, in my studies of American history, this is also close to the worst to ever take place in a patroitic democracy.  Actually, it makes a mockery of the idea.
    One sometimes believes that the shock and awe of this administration couldn’t possibly hold more surprises for Americans.  How terribly naive we are to believe it could be over; that at last we will have something resembling an honorable government.
    As President Bush has denied any wrondoing in any of the uncountable scandles to emerge from his administration, he denies also, any involvement with Abramoff.  How then did Patrick Pizzela become assistant secretary of labor and David Safairan, our Federal Procurment Policy Management office of budget?
    As with the Plame act of treason being protected by Bush, because every finger points to him, he continues also to protect Tom DeLay for the same reasons.  His denial of knowing Abramoff smells of the lie that has guided him throughout his tenure in the Oval Office.
    We have here a devastating display of unbridled greed; robbery of the Indian Casinos and the purchasing of seats in our Senate and Congress.  Whomever they may be, republican or democrat, one thing is certain, they must go.
    Our democracy was not built through crimes.  Our Constitution does not permit a president to claim unchecked power over its citizens nor criminal activity by anyone who deals, even in the smallest way, with our process of government.  A Declaration of Independence demands the removal of a president who is party to and sometimes, the sole perpertrator of information that misleads the people and the bodies of government that make up our democracy.

    Report this

    By James Freeley, January 4, 2006 at 7:55 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    How much connection is there between the corrupt Abramoff -Delay debacle and the Ukraine-Russia oil dispute? It is no wonder that we as a nation have lost all respect for politcal leadership. All these crooks stand for is a culture of greed! Shame on us for electing them and allowing the erosion of any moral standing we may have thought we had.

    Report this

    By James McCutchan, January 4, 2006 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    New congressional and presidential elections are in order for Fall 2006. It’s time to get our houses and branches in order and to return to the rule of law.

    Report this

    By Susan Block, January 4, 2006 at 6:27 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Once again, the moralists have been jerking us off.

    It’s an old story of sanctimony and thievery. We Americans never seem to learn our lesson that the worst crooks are the moralists among us. Like I’ve said before….

    Beware of Those Who Are Holier Than Thou,
    For Often They Are Fleecers of Their Own Flock

    I was refering to Adelphia Censor-in-Thief John J. Rigas who had censored my show and robbed his stockholders. But the verse seems to fit Jack Abramoff and his Biblically corrupt buddy Tom DeLay like that telltale glove.

    Jack and Tom are both powerful Men of Religion. And not just any religion, none of that Native American stuff like the tribes Jack bilked out of millions. We’re talking Real Men’s All-American Religion: The-One-and-Only-Accept-No-Substitutes Judeo-Christian Brand, Jack Abramoff being an orthodox Jew and Tom DeLay a committed Christian. Both wear their religions on their sleeves, as badges of honor, piety and trustworthiness: the quintessential Men of Family Values.

    And now, just like the devoutly Christian Rigas Family before them, Jack and Tom are showing us what “family values” are really all about, with their money-laundering “U.S. Family Network” which, of course, supported “family values,” and “moral fitness,” railing against pornography and gambling even as it funneled multiple millions of stolen greenbacks, much of it from gambling casinos. Yes indeed, Mr. Scheer, the hypocrisy is breathtaking.

    The unvarnished truth about Abramoff and Delay Family Values is that they value the Abramoff and Delay Families, as well as a few cronies, and to Hell with everybody else.

    “Family Values” has bilked a million times more cash and destroyed many more lives than the pornography it pretends to be above. When will we Americans learn to take Ethical Hedonism over Unethical Puritanism? Or are we some kind of weird masochists? Do we get a charge out of being ripped off by religious charlatans? Do we enjoy being jerked off by prudes?

    “Morality is a venereal disease. Its primary stage is called virtue; its secondary stage, boredom; its tertiary stage, syphilis.” .Karl Kraus (1874-1936)

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    By John, January 4, 2006 at 2:36 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Here’s the original (outline) case for the defense:
    ——————————————————-

    Don’t scapegoat my client By Abbe Lowell
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2005-05-22-oppose_x.htm

    Comment escapes me.

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