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September 26, 2005


The money is going not just to Abramoff... it get filtered where? Swift Boat Veterans For Truth? Ordinary People Against [fill in Dem candidate]? Is this Watergate writ corporate? Is this "silence your political enemies with skimmed off funds"?

As they famously said so many years ago with the last slush fund scandal in DC, "follow the money." Where does it go and who controls it? Abramoff works for who?

'Administration'. Nice euphemism.

Josh Marshall has that beat. But you're on the right track, I think.

If I had to guess, I'd say the money gets split up among two, maybe three dozen (or more) operations, but those operations are controlled by one dozen (or fewer) key players. Modeled on "Newt, Inc.," there exists an interlocking directorate of "lobbying" (read: astroturf) groups, list dealers, advocacy organizations, etc. with which the key players can both push an agenda, and double dip.

jonnybutter, you're so right. And all these complaints about Bush administration incompetence are sooo misplaced. They use FEMA as the turkey farm, but the skilled players work for and with Abromoff.

So this is "The Rethuglican Mafia."

The lefty blogosphere could start up a pool... everyone submits the number and names of "key players" and the number and names of henchmen. Closest to the correct answers gets lots of traffic to his/her blog.

So Abramoff is the bagman, but who is in control of this scheme? To me it looks like DeLay, Norquist and his allies such as Reed, and some shadowy corporate group. Are they really Christian conservatives like the Dominionists? Probably not, given Norquist's ties to various Islamic groups and Abramoff and other's ties to Israeli groups. Some group of corporate protofascists led by Cheney? The Mafia? What about Abramoff's ties to some rather shadowy Russians that Josh Marshall has posted about? Is it just about money? What is really going on here? Finally I think we are on the right track.

What's fascinating is between the Abramoff protection racket and the AIPAC influence racket, the really sordid sides of BushCo "lobbyists" is being revealed.

I'd like to begin to find a way to describe the damage that occurs in such instances, so when we try to regulate some of this and are told it's a freedom of speech issue, we can find a way to combat that claim--or a way around it.

If we make it through the Bush fiasco (no bets on the table from me, at this point), we're really going to have learned we need to severely curtail the access industry in this country.

Well, perhaps we can borrow a framework from the Internal Revenue Code's prohibitions against self-dealing, at least as a place to start.

Progress. We have come so far from the days when Union Pacific's "lobbyists" passed out $100 bills on the very floor of Congress.

Perhaps we should all just start referring to Abramoff as "Karl Rove's bag man" from now on. I like the phrase, myself -- short, to the point, concise, and it spells out the disgusting level of criminal pyramid scheming these jerks have put together for bilking everyone who needs anything from government. Indictments couldn't happen to a nicer crew.

My takeaway reading of Marshall's post was different from yours, Kagro, in that I'm wondering at the volume of money flowing through the machine and what it's for. I don't think it's for personal enrichment, though that happens too; I worry that this is how they're funding their whole ideological operation, or at least all the parts of it that the big business families are too shy to put their names to. What kind of money goes to black preachers, and where does it come from? What kind of money went to that phone bank in New Hampshire? What kind of money paid the Swifties? I don't really have any inkling of what they do with their dirty money, but when I look at Abramoff I don't see a breathtakingly bold shakedown; I see them raising money for campaigns, just as clearly as if it were the RNC. Except there's the campaigns you can have Mehlman's sticky fingerprints on, and those you can't; and for those you can't, you have Tyco give money to Abramoff who gives it to whoever gets the dirty stuff done these days.

I think it's a fully political operation though, with political purposes, paid for by shaking down random groups who have business before DeLay's House or Rove's regulatory agencies. Not venal or corrupt, because it's not for financial gain. It's to build the machine that maintains their power.

I'm now afraid that I've stated the obvious as if you hadn't seen it. But I think the item of first importance is not how scandalously he raised the money. If anything, it's that none of it went to anything like real lobbying at all; it all went to GOP black-Ops, programs which most "clients" were unaware of and which other clients (Tyco) will pretend they didn't know about. That probably is uncommon.

Yes, Texas Dem, that was indeed (I think) the point of Josh's post. I think it was his intention to focus on the money and the slush fund.

My intent was to demonstrate how little daylight there is between what they're doing and what criminal racketeers do -- complete with abscontion to Israel!

Once you realize that the actions are entirely the same, you stop feeling hesitant about calling them "lobbyists," and affording them all the niceties and benefit of the doubt that keep them in Brooks Brothers suits and out prison stripes.

It's my hope that one day we'll all recognize the same formula at work when we take an honest but more detached look at the Bush "administration" -- if that's what you choose to keep calling it.

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