9/27/2005

Daily Kos: Abramoff is no lobbyist, and this is no administration

Abramoff is no lobbyist, and this is no administration
by Kagro X
Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 12:14:55 CDT

(From the diaries -- Plutonium Page.)

Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo yesterday examined the burgeoning Abramoff scandal from a refreshingly wide angle.. It's a sentiment echoed by our own Daily Kos diarist dengre, who summed it up thus: " Jack is a 25-year GOP bag man."

But it's more than just that. Jack hooks his clients up with what amounts to a GOP protection racket. As in, "Nice business you got there. Be a shame if something tragic -- something regulatory -- happened to it." And then, as Josh notes, the spoils are divided among the players in the movement right's seamy underbelly. "Lobbying" work is performed by dealers either too shady (see Grassroots Interactive -- who just had two employees abscond for Israel, a la Myer Lansky!) or too concerned with their false image of piety (see the use of the Christian Coalition to run interference on behalf of Indian gaming outfits) to be contacted directly. And, of course, Abramoff takes a cut of the fee. In fact, perhaps more than just a cut, since Grassroots Interactive, for instance, is "controlled" by Abramoff.



But the self-financing aspect of the bagman operation doesn't end there. We also find out more each day about Abramoff's vertical integration scheme, involving the "rental" of his luxury skyboxes at the DC area's premier sports arenas to clients seeking to curry favor with legislators, for whom they hold fundraisers in the rented space, and the use of the floating tab at his now-infamous Signatures restaurant.


Abramoff gets you coming and going. Look carefully at that wikipedia link above, referencing the use of the Christian Coalition -- the charges there go further than I was aware of. The accusation there is, "The lobbyists are accused of orchestrating lobbying against their own clients in order to force them to pay for lobbying services." Let's say that again: lobbying against their own clients in order to force them to pay for lobbying services! On what planet is that not a straight mob-style shakedown? Who wouldn't call that a protection racket?


Then, of course, once you find you need a lobbyist, you hire Abramoff, because he says he has the connections to make your problem go away. And of course, in the case of the Indian casinos, he does! Because he's creating the problem! So he signs you up for a "grassroots" lobbying campaign, and "outsources" the work -- only he's outsourcing it to himself, and charging you a marked-up "brokerage fee," plus collecting the fee for "services" on the other end! And when it comes time to schmooze the legislators, he has you "rent" his luxury skybox to host a fundraiser for select Congressmen, but "forgets" to pass the bill on to the beneficiary of the event, as required by law. Cool by Jack, though, because now the Congressman owes him a favor -- both for the checks collected and for the freebie on the skybox -- and he still gets paid for the venue rental by the client! Perfect!


So, kudos to Josh and dengre, for helping us to break out of the absurd frame in which Abramoff can give himself the sheen of being a real, but sorely misunderstood and persecuted "lobbyist."


Today, of course, we learn that Abramoff had the juice to get a federal prosecutor demoted once he caught onto his racketeering activities. Protection rackets, self-dealing, profit skimming, obstruction of justice, associates fleeing the country to avoid prosecution -- where's the daylight between this activity and mobsterism?



And of course, the Bush team is complicit in the racket -- slowing investigations, sucking up the slush funds, and generally looking the other way for "a friend of ours." The same frame-shattering that helps us see the fiction of Abramoff as "lobbyist" can help us see through the fiction of the Bush "administration." Ask yourself: Are you still sure the Bush team has as its first priority the actual administration of the United States federal government? I'm not so sure.



Daily Kos: Abramoff is no lobbyist, and this is no administration

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