Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jack Abramoff- A Symbol Of How Money Corrupts Washington


Needless to say, the crooks in Congress have done nothing to substantively change the Beltway business model described by Abramoff on 60 Minutes Sunday night. Watch it above. Now that he's out of prison, he joked that he's thinking of writing a book about his former life, The Idiot’s Guide to Buying a Congressman. No doubt there would be plenty of lobbyists who would line up at the Barnes and Noble on 12th Street to buy it. It's still as useful today as it was when Tom DeLay was running the House as a crime syndicate. We should have learned long ago that Congress shouldn't be allowed to police itself and shouldn't be allowed to write the regulations that define criminality in respect to their own behavior. That's why blatant bribery is excused under the law.

Lesley Stahl got him to give away some of his top tricks of the trade, like offering high-level staffers jobs for three times there salaries "when you're done working" for the taxpayers. Abramoff: “When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him or her at some point, ‘You know, when you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.’ Now the moment I said that to them or any of our staff said that to ’em, that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna do. And not only that, they’re gonna think of things we can’t think of to do.”

Several of Abramoff's partners in crime are as integral to the Republican Party today as they were back in the glory days, particularly Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. And several of the most corrupted congressmembers have gone on to bigger jobs, like Roy Blunt (R-MO), once an Abramoff bagman, Roger Wicker (R-MS) and sleazy former Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, all now U.S. senators and Eric Cantor (R-VA), now the Majority Leader. Among the Members who were most corrupted by Abramoff were several who were forced into retirement, like John Doolittle (R-CA), Tom DeLay (R-TX), J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), Tom Feeney (R-FL), Dick Pombo (R-CA), Bill Archer (R-TX), Ernest Istook (R-OK) and Conrad Burns (R-MT). Bob Ney (R-OH) went to prison. Others are just serving out their terms-- in Congress, not in prison-- like Don Young (R-AK) , Thad Cochran (R-MS), Pete Sessions (R-TX), and David Vitter (R-LA).

UPDATE: Jack Abramoff On The Grill

Lawrence O'Donnell is more a legitimate interviewer than what the puff piece hosts of 60 Minutes have devolved into. Last night he had Abramoff on this show. He gave Abramoff a harder time, though Abramoff is as shrewd, sly and deceptive as he ever was and knows how to avoid answering questions, even when not pleading the 5th... it's worh watching.

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