Friday, April 14, 2006

THE GOP: AN ETHOS OF PERVASIVE AND INSIDIOUS CORRUPTION

"MEET MR. REPUBLICAN: JACK ABRAMOFF"

Ken sent this astounding and well researched piece on Abramoff's insatiable greed and corruption and how his poisoned tentacles reached far within our government. Abramoff bought lawmakers, journalists and used charities and non-profits to hide money. Mr. Matt Taibbi wrote this article for Rolling Stone Magazine on 3/24/06. LS

Excerpt:

Once Congress was conquered, Abramoff, Norquist, et al., apparently discovered a means for turning it into a pure engine for profit. The game they may have discovered worked like this: One lobbyist (Abramoff, say) represents one group of interests -- for example, the Malaysian government. Then, a lobbyist friend of Abramoff's (say, Norquist) represents an antagonist to Abramoff's client, in this case, let's say dissident leader Anwar Ibrahim. Ibrahim asks Norquist to press his case against the Malaysian state in Washington; Norquist complies and uses his contacts to raise a stink on the Hill. Abramoff's client, unnerved, turns to Abramoff to make the problem go away. Abramoff dutifully goes to the same friends Norquist applied to in the first place, and the problem does indeed go away. In the end, everyone is happy and both lobbyists have performed and gotten paid. Abramoff apparently pulled this kind of double-dealing scheme more than once, as he and Ralph Reed appear to have run a similar con on the Coushatta and Tigua Indian tribes, who were on opposite sides of a gaming dispute.

Everyone sold themselves on the cheap. They apparently got Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), and many others in the House, to lie back and open their legs all the way for a few thousand dollars in campaign contributions. In the Third World, corrupt politicians at least get something for selling out the people -- boats, mansions, villas in the south of France. If you offered the lowest, most drunken ex-mobster in the Russian Duma $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 in soft money for his vote, he would laugh in your face; he might even be insulted enough to shoot you. But Jack Abramoff apparently got any number of congressmen to play ball for the same kind of money.

They paid journalists to change their opinions; as it turns out, the right to free speech is worth about $2,000 a column to America's journalists like Doug Bandow of Copley News Service. And now it comes out that Diebold, the notorious voting-machine company, paid some $275,000 to Abramoff's firm, Greenberg Traurig, with the apparent aim of keeping legislation requiring paper trails in the voting process from getting into the Help America Vote Act. Conveniently, Abramoff pal Bob Ney, one of the HAVA architects, blocked every attempt to put paper trails into law, even after the controversial electoral debacles of 2000 and 2004.

They targeted Congress, the courts, the integrity of elections, and the free press, and in every corner they found willing partners who could be had for a few bucks and a package of golf tees. That doesn't mean Jack Abramoff was so very smart. No, what that says is that America is no longer trying very hard. And when Jack Abramoff hears his sentence, ours will certainly be made plain soon after. Jack Abramoff was the Patient Zero of Washington corruption. He's the girl at school that everyone got a piece of, including two janitors in their forties. It strains all credulity to think that he's been talking to the Department of Justice for months and yet prosecutors still have to "encircle" a lone congressman, Bob Ney, as has been reported. If Ney is the big target the government made a deal with Abramoff for, we'll know we've been had again.

"If you're venal and cunning enough, like him, you can do it," says Slaughter, when asked if the American system has become easy to beat. "But he had a lot of help."

MEET MR. REPUBLICAN: JACK ABRAMOFF

BUSH: LIAR-IN-CHIEF

"THE SLOW MOTION TRAP"

This is a wonderful and insightful article written by Sidney Blumenthal on Salon.com
He writes that Bush's presidency, built upon secrecy and now we know, mired in lies, is doomed. The more Bush tries to free himself the more his past deceptions bind him, according to Mr. Blumenthal. How so very true! LS

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL'S "THE SLOW MOTION TRAP"

"WHITE HOUSE WHOPPER BECOMES AN INSTANT CLASSIC"

Very witty and wonderful article written by one of my favorite Texans, Molly Ivins for Truthout.org. about the non existent mobile bio weapons trailers.

MOLLY IVINS: WHITE HOUSE WHOPPER BECOMES INSTANT CLASSIC

MORE ON THE NEW HAMPSHIRE GOP CRIMINAL PHONE JAMMING SCHEME

From The Washington Post.com

WAPO'S "2002 N.H. SCANDAL SHADOWS GOP ANEW"

BUSH PUTS THE MIDDLE EAST ON BOIL

The source of this piece, firedoglake.com is an extremely informative and well-researched blog.

65,000 Iraqi families have had to flee from their homes to safer parts of the country because of the fighting. They are urged to leave immediately with no belongings except for a few clothes. It is horrible to think we are responsible for this humanitarian cataclysm. I have never been more ashamed of my country. Thank you, GOP, and Democrat lawmakers who allowed Bush to go nuts. Thank you. LS

FIREDOGLAKE: BUSH PUTS MIDDLE EAST ON BOIL

AT LEAST SIX RETIRED GENERALS WANT RUMSFELD TO GO

One has to be retired to speak out against the Bush people. Otherwise they will be instantly fired, their retirement pensions will be shot to hell, their reputations will be smeared unmercifully; they will be accused of committing crimes they did not commit; they will be ostracized on a number of levels: e.g. blackballed from GOP clubs and organizations. In short, the Bush people set out to destroy their critics in any way, shape or form they can. The sick and twisted devils enjoy doing it, too. LS

By Mr. Thom Shanker of The New York Times on 4/13/06.

THE NEW YORK TIMES: "MORE RETIRED GENERALS CALL FOR RUMFELD'S RESIGNATION

ANOTHER OPINION ON RUMMY'S RESIGNATION: "IT'S THE PRESIDENT, STUPID"
Very interesting observation by Mr. Greg Palast on the U.K. Guardian.com

Desert Rats Leave The Sinking Ship
Why Rumsfeld Should Not Resign
The Guardian - Comment
Friday, April 14, 2006
By Greg Palast

Well, here they come: the wannabe Rommels, the gaggle of generals, safely retired, to lay siege to Donald Rumsfeld. This week, six of them have called for the Secretary of Defense's resignation.

Well, according to my watch, they're about four years too late -- and they still don't get it.

I know that most of my readers will be tickled pink that the bemedalled boys in crew cuts are finally ready to kick Rummy in the rump, in public. But to me, it just shows me that these boys still can't shoot straight.

It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who stood up in front of the UN and identified two mobile latrines as biological weapons labs, was it, General Powell?

It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who told us our next warning from Saddam could be a mushroom cloud, was it Condoleezza?

It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who declared that Al Qaeda and Saddam were going steady, was it, Mr. Cheney?

Yes, Rumsfeld is a swaggering bag of mendacious arrogance, a duplicitous chicken-hawk, yellow-bellied bully-boy and Tinker-Toy Napoleon -- but he didn't appoint himself Secretary of Defense.

Let me tell you a story about the Secretary of Defense you didn't read in the New York Times, related to me by General Jay Garner, the man our president placed in Baghdad as the US' first post-invasion viceroy.

Garner arrived in Kuwait City in March 2003 working under the mistaken notion that when George Bush called for democracy in Iraq, the President meant the Iraqis could choose their own government. Misunderstanding the President's true mission, General Garner called for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. "It's their country," the General told me of the Iraqis. "And," he added, most ominously, "their oil."

Let's not forget: it's all about the oil. I showed Garner a 101-page plan for Iraq's economy drafted secretly by neo-cons at the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon, calling for "privatization" (i.e. the sale) of "all state assets ... especially in the oil and oil-supporting industries." The General knew of the plans and he intended to shove it where the Iraqi sun don't shine. Garner planned what he called a "Big Tent" meeting of Iraqi tribal leaders to plan elections. By helping Iraqis establish their own multi-ethnic government -- and this was back when Sunnis, Shias and Kurds were on talking terms -- knew he could get the nation on its feet peacefully before a welcomed "liberation" turned into a hated "occupation."

But, Garner knew, a freely chosen coalition government would mean the death-knell for the neo-con oil-and-assets privatization grab.

On April 21, 2003, three years ago this month, the very night General Garner arrived in Baghdad, he got a call from Washington. It was Rumsfeld on the line. He told Garner, in so many words, "Don't unpack, Jack, you're fired."

Rummy replaced Garner, a man with years of on-the-ground experience in Iraq, with green-boots Paul Bremer, the Managing Director of Kissinger Associates. Bremer cancelled the Big Tent meeting of Iraqis and postponed elections for a year; then he issued 100 orders, like some tin-pot pasha, selling off Iraq's economy to U.S. and foreign operators, just as Rumsfeld's neo-con clique had desired.

Reading this, it sounds like I should applaud the six generals' call for Rumfeld's ouster. Forget it.

For a bunch of military hotshots, they sure can't shoot straight. They're wasting all their bullets on the decoy. They've gunned down the puppet instead of the puppeteers.

There's no way that Rumsfeld could have yanked General Garner from Baghdad without the word from The Bunker. Nothing moves or breathes or spits in the Bush Administration without Darth Cheney's growl of approval. And ultimately, it's the Commander-in-Chief who's chiefly in command.

Even the generals' complaint -- that Rumsfeld didn't give them enough troops -- was ultimately a decision of the cowboy from Crawford. (And by the way, the problem was not that we lacked troops -- the problem was that we lacked moral authority to occupy this nation. A million troops would not be enough -- the insurgents would just have more targets.)

President Bush is one lucky fella. I can imagine him today on the intercom with Cheney: "Well, pardner, looks like the game's up." And Cheney replies, "Hey, just hang the Rumsfeld dummy out the window until he's taken all their ammo."

When Bush and Cheney read about the call for Rumsfeld's resignation today, I can just hear George saying to Dick, "Mission Accomplished."

Generals, let me give you a bit of advice about choosing a target: It's the President, stupid.

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