By- Suzie-Q @ 2:45 PM MST
Daily Kos- by dengre
Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 10:11:35 PM PDT
I’ve written about the McCain/Abramoff link often (like in this Diary).
John McCain is not a reformer, a “maverick” or even a honest man. ALL of this is a carefully crafted myth!
And now McCain has a Mini-Me—a younger version of himself. The Republican Party has manufactured yet another “reformer with results’ in the mold of McCain and his patron, George W. Bush and now she is on the ticket.
I’m talking, of course, about the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. And to become Governor, she defeated the only Republican ever to oppose Jack Abramoff BEFORE the Abramoff scandal became news.
Like McCain, Palin’s reform credentials are built on a carefully constructed myth. On closer examination, her record is all hat and no cattle. And yet, we can count on McCain’s well trained sycophants in the media to sing her praises and believe whatever line of BS Curveball John and his cadre of lobbyists feed them.
Palin, McCain and their Republican Party are mired in corruption. They can not clean up Washington or anything else. They are the problem.
To the jump…
- dengre’s diary :: ::
This week will be a news cycle of high content and hype. Another hurricane, a Republican Convention held in the shadows, an energized Democratic party and a world situation that is desperate for change on so many levels. Many stories and details will be lost in such a news cycle.
In the fast moving news cycle, I hope that one story can filter through:
Jack Abramoff will be sentenced for his crimes on September 4, 2008.
This is important. In September 2006 it became clear that the November Election would turn on the issue of corruption. All signs point to the same thing happening this year.
I’ll try and put this in the simple language of politics:
It’s The Corruption, Stupid
That is what we need to understand if we wish to elect Barack Obama and defeat John McCain. It is what we need to understand if we wish to increase our margins in the House, Senate and State Capitals across our Nation or to have any hope for progressive legislation in 2009.
Corruption is the tipping point!
It helps undecided voters decide who to vote for.
Since August 2007, Rasmussen Reports has been polling voters about their top Issues of Concern. As you might expect, the Economy and the never ending Wars are always at or near the top. What may surprise you is that Corruption is always at the top as well. In some months it has even been ahead. Now that makes sense because voters know that corruption prevents any progress from being made. From health care to energy to foreign policy to taxes to the budget and more, the corruption in Washington is a clear problem to most voters.
The good news for Democrats is that voters trust us to clean up this mess. The latest numbers from Rasmussan give us a 16 point advantage over the Republicans on this issue. Other polls show that Obama leads McCain on the issue of reform as well.
Face it, the Republican brand and Party is tainted by corruption and there are more scandals in the wings.
In fact, I expect that another wave of Republican Scandals will erupt this fall—I suspect that there are some shoes about to drop. Reporters, campaigns and others are digging and there are various Federal investigations are underway. The public perception of Republican corruption must give GOP operatives ulcers.
Rumors are flying and more bad news could break at any moment. Among the worst scandal for the GOP is the ongoing Abramoff investigation.
A major development in the Abramoff Scandal was all but lost in last week’s news cycle. Fortunately, the Washington Post ran a story that Abramoff’s lawyers and the Department of Justice had filed papers in advance on his upcoming sentencing hearing this coming Thursday (emphasis added):
Since his conviction on fraud and conspiracy charges, former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has spent more than 3,000 hours helping more than 100 law enforcement agents in an ongoing federal corruption probe that has implicated “scores of other persons not yet charged,” lawyers said in court filings yesterday. [snip]
If a federal judge in Washington accepts the recommendation from the Justice Department, Abramoff would serve no more than an additional three years and three months in prison, not accounting for credit for good behavior awarded by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Abramoff’s attorneys are seeking more leniency, which could have him released from prison by 2010. [snip]
They also noted that Abramoff has helped convict more than a dozen people, in addition to admitting guilt himself, and that his case has prompted reforms that the lawyers said are known as “Abramoff Ethics Rules.” [snip]
The court papers indicate an extensive ongoing probe by referencing a document that is sealed because it contains grand jury information. Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and retiring Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.), among others, are still under investigation.
TPM Muckraker was also on the case and added more stories to their Abramoff collection. The quick headline is that the investigation is still moving forward and that Abramoff is singing like a bird.
I went and got copies of the Court documents. There are a lot of tea leaves to read, but I think it is clear that some more indictments are coming and that they may come soon—before November. Here are a few finds from the Court documents. First, Abramoff is cooperating in ongoing investigations:
As mentioned previously, there remain several ongoing or completed investigations of Abramoff and the relationships that he had with various public officials. Because Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) prevents us from publicly revealing details about closed grand jury investigations, and because both Rule 6(e) and the law enforcement privilege preclude public dissemination of information about ongoing investigations, those matters are not further described here. Rather, with the consent of Abramoff, the government is filing a sealed, ex parte submission with the Court providing specifics regarding the ongoing or closed investigations and describing Abramoff’s role in those matters.
Second, he has been giving up Members of Congress. For example, the documents shed light on Abramoff’s role in John Albaugh, a key aide of former Rep. Istook of Oklahoma, pleading guilty in the scandal:
Abramoff first suggested that agents look into the relationship between a
lobbyist working for him and Albaugh and provided information regarding their
The Albaugh guilty plead moves the investigation closer to John Doolittle, Don Young and John Ashcroft. The court papers also disclose the way that Abramoff worked for Foreign Governments and how he hid that relationship:
The investigation also developed information that Abramoff may have also failed to file reports under the Foreign Agent Registration Act [FARA] for the purpose of obscuring any representation of foreign interests.
This is a crime that Abramoff shares with many working in the world of Republican lobbyists, including several weasels connected to John McCain like Wes Gullett, Randy Scheunemann and Stephen Payne. It would help clean-up Washington if the DOJ would get serious about enforcing FARA disclosure laws. Perhaps that is another shoe about to drop.
There are many other hints these Abramoff court documents and I expect that more details will come out next Thursday when Abramoff has his sentencing hearing. Perhaps he will even testify on his behalf. The one thing we can be certain of is that the Abramoff Investigation is ongoing and that more indictments are coming.
Some targets may still be in office, but others may already be out or on their way out. The rumors I’ve heard mention that Tom DeLay and Karl Rove are the big fish. Then there are various other players below them—a list made up of current and former Congressmen, staffers and lobbyists—who are the building blocks to get to the top. I hope these rumors are true and that this is a broad inquiry. I want to trust that the wheels of justice are still grinding. I think that they are. Sure, Justice is moving slow, but all signs point to real movement.
And this is all the more amazing because of an unprecedented effort to obstruct Justice and slow down and/or misdirect any investigation of the Abramoff scandal.
And leading the efforts to slow down a real investigation has been John McCain.
During a November 17, 2004 Hearing on the Abramoff Scandal, John McCain made a promise to the representatives of the Tigua Tribe of Texas:
I pledge, as a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs, that we will not stop until the complete truth is told.
It was a promise—like all John McCain promises—that McCain quickly broke. Before the same hearing was over, it was clear that McCain had little interests in exposing the truth.
Instead, he spun a narrative of gullible Indians, greedy lobbyists and the straight talking Senator who took them on.
The recent Ralph Reed ad from the Obama Campaign pointed out that McCain never called Reed to testify under oath. Another Abramoff co-conspirator given a pass by McCain was Grover Norquist. In fact, the extremely corrupt Grover Norquist is now one of McCain’s advisors on tax policy. And then there was McCain’s promise to NOT INVESTIGATE any elected Republican involved in the Abramoff scandal.
At the heart of McCain’s cover-up are 750,000 plus pages of Abramoff Scandal documents that McCain has sent to the National Archives stamped with a Do not open until 2056 sticker on each box. Less than 5,000 pages of these documents have been released to the public. There are a lot of uninvestigated crimes in those files.
Oh, and McCain’s chief foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunermann, was hired by Abramoff’s old lobbying firm to “advise” Greenberg Traurig on how to “work” with McCain’s “investigation”. Since then the lobbying firm has given McCain over $160,000.
McCain’s active cover-up of the scandal made the following details in the Abramoff Court papers stand out (emphasis added):
His speedy acceptance and cooperation have played a significant part in the Government’s assessment and understanding of possibilities for change in public integrity rules and enforcement. Further, his cooperation has lasted and consumed nearly four years of his life and continues today (and will continue in the future). His cooperation has not endeared him to many, including those at the correctional facility where he is located. His cooperation has involved more than 3,000 hours of his time, including interviews with approximately 100 Government officials, as well as searches and reviews of well over 500,000 documents.
So the DOJ only has 500,000 pages of documents for Abramoff to review. Hmmm, it looks like McCain hid up to 250,000 pages of Abramoff documents from the DOJ. Perhaps somebody should open those documents in the National Archives up for review. At the very least, they should be shared with the task force investigating the Abramoff Scandal. More than that, there should be an independent investigation into the way McCain conducted his Abramoff
John McCain and his Party have a corruption eruption problem. He needs to distance his campaign from his Party in Washington and the lobbyists who run it. Americans everywhere know that McCain and his party can not clean up Washington.
To compete with Obama (especially after that amazing Democratic Convention), McCain needed a head fake play and that is where the recently elected Governor of Alaska comes in.
There have been many, many Diaries about Sarah Palin since this novice was elevated to McCain’s ticket. Her resume is thin and those who know her in Alaska are among the most skeptical voices about her readiness to be Vice-President. And yet, she is being sold to the lower 48 as a “Reformer with Results” (they are even using the same tag line they used to use for George W. Bush to sell her). The myth is that she is willing to take on the corruption in her own Party. To hear the spin it sounds like she road a wave of reform to election in 2006. The hype tells the story of a reformer who led the fight to take on Ted Stevens, Don Young and that famous bridge to nowhere. Of course the spin does not survive a fact check.
Both Young and Stevens supported her in 2006 and Ted Steven even cut a campaign commercial for her:
Somehow, once again, history is being rewritten by the Republican Ministry of Truth. We should not let them get away with it.
Like McCain, Palin is a Corruptionist. Sure, she is a small town corruptionist with a small town grifter’s view of power, but now that John McCain has elevated her to the big leagues she is being schooled by Super-Corruptionists like Charlie Black, Randy Scheunemann and Karl Rove. Palin is a fast learner and we can expect Agnew-like scandals from her in the future. In fact she may already have a few in her closet. The big one is most likely the recent Gas Line license awarded to TransCanada. Yeah, of course it is potential scandal about fossil fuels—we are discussing Republicans after all.
In 2006 Frank Murkowski was running for re-election as Alaska Governor. After four years in office, he had become a very unpopular Governor. It was his arrogance that brought him down. In 2002 he left the Senate to become Governor and proceeded to move forward his agenda without building support. He compounded his troubles by appointing his daughter to replace him in his old Senate seat. As we all know these days, the Alaskan Republican Party was and is a cesspool of corruption. Easy access to money from fossil fuels without oversight will do that.
As Murkowski took office there were several competing factions within the Alaskan GOP for control of the oil/gas wealth. Murkowski was one faction seeking control and he did not play well with others.
The big issue facing Alaska was how to build a pipeline to move natural gas from Alaska, through Canada to the lower forty-eight States. Murkowski had a plan and he tried to force it through. In June 2006, Stateline.org wrote that the Gas pipeline dispute fuels wild Alaska race. This dispute was the key to Murkowski’s downfall:
The wildest race for governor of Alaska in 20 years shares center stage with the state’s thorniest political issue over those same two decades: a proposed contract for a natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope through Canada to the Midwest. [snip]
But the natural gas pipeline issue is extremely controversial. Although there’s a legal dispute about whether the Legislature must approve, Murkowski wants lawmakers to sign off on a proposed contract he has negotiated over the past two years with the proposed pipeline developers: the three major oil producers on Alaska’s North Slope — BP, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips.
The contract sets fiscal terms for development of the project, although it does not actually commit the producers to construction, one of the most controversial elements of the package. Also, the state would be a 20 percent owner in the pipeline and take its royalty and production tax as gas, rather than cash — other positions that are being hotly debated.
Murkowski also wants to provide “fiscal certainty” for the project by fixing oil taxes for 30 years. [snip]
The controversial $19 billion-to-$27-billion gas line, under discussion since a treaty with Canada was signed during the Carter administration three decades ago, often is described as the largest private construction project in North American history and widely is seen as Murkowski’s best chance for political redemption.
Various pipeline construction ideas have been floated over the years, but it was not until the price of natural gas spiked in the winter of 2000-2001 that planning became serious. Critics accuse the oil companies with leases on the natural gas of “warehousing” the gas, but they responded by saying such a vast project had not been economically feasible until gas prices increased.
All of the other candidates for governor have opposed Murkowski’s proposed gas line contract partly on grounds its terms tie the hands of legislatures for 30 years on oil and 45 years on gas taxes.
In the end, Murkowski lost the fight to control oil revenue in Alaska. In the run-up to the Republican Primary it became clear that he would loose a November election to the Democratic candidate, Tony Knowles. By early August, Republican conservatives like Bob Novak had written Murkowski’s political obit:
Murkowski, who has paid the price for cutting government programs and for appointing his daughter to the U.S. Senate, will come in third on Tuesday in the primary against conservative former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin (R) and businessman John Binkley (R). Palin will come in first, and she is also the most likely to keep the seat. Leaning Palin.
A conservative wave carried Palin to victory in a hotly contested Republican Primary. Signals went out from Washington to ditch Murkowski and go with the young fundamentalist Mayor.
Murkowski was soundly defeated.
Now perhaps Frank Murkowski was a jerk as Governor. I do not know. But I do know that Frank Murkowski was the only Republican willing to take on Jack Abramoff when Jack was at the top of his power. Murkowski may have been arrogant as Governor, but as a Senator he was the only Republican willing to stand up for the workers and victims of abuse on the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. He was the only Republican to be outraged by the labor abuse, human trafficking and the forced abortions protected by Abramoff, DeLay and their allies in Congress—weasels like Congressman Don Young of Alaska.
A July 2000 article in the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska allies at odds over U.S. Islands abuse) told the story of Murkowski’s heroic effort to do the right thing and face down the corruptionists in his Party:
When Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski traveled to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands four years ago to investigate alleged human rights abuses, he found what he was looking for. Speaking on the Senate floor a year later, Murkowski said he ”visited a garment factory and talked with some Bangladesh workers who had not been paid and who were living in appalling conditions.”
At a more recent hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that he chairs, Murkowski heard from a young woman who had been taken to Saipan as a minor and was forced into prostitution.
”This was occurring under the U.S. flag and supposedly with the protection all U.S. citizens enjoy under our Constitution,” Murkowski said in his Senate speech.
Based on this evidence and more, Murkowski pushed legislation through the Senate in February to correct some of the conditions in the Mariana Islands that many people believe have turned the island territory into a haven for foreign sweatshops that ship more than $1 billion worth of duty-free clothing to U.S. stores.
Murkowski’s bill sailed through his committee and was unanimously approved by the Senate. There was not one dissenting vote along the way. But there it died, stopped cold in the House by his Republican colleague Alaska Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Resources Committee.
Young said he simply doesn’t believe such abuses have taken place.
”I’m not going to move anything,” Young said of Murkowski’s bill.
History has shown that Young was in the pocket of Abramoff and his sweatshop-owning Hong Kong based clients. Murkowski was the ONLY Republican willing to confront this abuse.
Murkowski had made powerful enemies by not playing along with the system of Republican corruption in Washington. In the end they took him out and replaced him with somebody they could get along with, the easily marketed Sarah Palin. And now she is the running mate to the favorite “reformer” of Republican corruptionists everywhere: John McCain.
She will be a center of scandal for years to come whether she stays in Alaska or comes to Washington. When he was running against Palin, Murkowski ran an ad that:
describes Palin as a scandal waiting to happen because of ethics issues.
I think he is spot on with that assessment.
McCain and Palin are wrapping themselves in a mask of reform. Republicans know that more scandals will break soon. The GOP brand is in for more indictments and bad news. Some will come out of the Abramoff scandal. Some will come from other sources. Their only hope is to fool voters into believing that they can clean up the mess they made.
investigation cover-up of the Abramoff scandal has shown that he is a failure at reform (and then there is his campaign ran by and for lobbyists. Palin is the fresh face designated by the Right Wing to defeat the only Republican who ever challenged Abramoff at the height of his power in Washington. She is a bush league corruptionist but she is now being trained by the professional corruptionists running McCain’s campaign. More scandals are certain to follow her.
And the biggest one may be the recent contract she signed to build that gas pipeline. This strikes me as a deal where one should follow the money and the differences between her deal and the one pushed by Murkowski. I’ll bet that an examination of the money as well as the winners and losers in the deal will lead to scandal.
We must defeat these Republicans weasels and take this Country back!
Visit your neighbors. Talk to them. Work together. Organize your neighborhood for change and you will make connections that will last long pass November.
We have a Country to take back and now is the time to do it.