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Friday, October 07, 2005

Control Fraud 

From the AP wire (via Josh Marshall):
Timothy E. Flanigan on Friday withdrew his nomination to be deputy attorney general amid a delay in his confirmation because of his dealings with indicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Flanigan, a senior lawyer for Tyco International Ltd., wrote to President Bush that he was withdrawing because of "uncertainty concerning the timing of my confirmation."

Meanwhile, the Bush administration's former chief procurement official pleaded innocent Friday to charges that he made false statements and obstructed investigations into Abramoff.

David H. Safavian entered the plea at a brief arraignment in U.S. District Court in Washington.
The new Molly Ivins column was obviously written before Mr. Flanigan made the decision not to discuss his connections to Mr. Abramoff under oath, but her jaundiced take on Bush administration S.O.P. is no less apt in light of today's events:
It seems to me what we are looking at was put best by noted journalist Billy Don Moyers, formerly of Marshall, Texas, who was home last week and observed that the Republican right came to Washington to start a revolution and stayed to run a racket. It has become a game of ideological flim-flam, a scam in which all manner of distracting hoo-hah -- abortion, judicial activism, even "the war on terra" -- is used to obscure the fact that the government has been taken over by people who are using it to make money for themselves and their friends.

In the business world, this is called "control fraud," and it refers to an organization, like Enron or Tyco, that is rotten at the head. One of the key figures in this web of malfeasance is Jack Abramoff, the super-lobbyist, top fund-raiser for Bush's re-election and close buddy of Rep. Tom DeLay, himself the architect of the "K Street Strategy" to convert the entire business lobby into the fund-raising arm of the Republican Party in return for whatever legislative favors the major donors want. Abramoff is also the close ally and former college roommate of Grover Norquist, a key right-wing political activist and major leader of the "movement conservatives" in Washington. Abramoff has also bragged that he contacted Karl Rove on behalf of Tyco.

Tim Flanigan, Bush's nominee to be deputy attorney general, left the White House Office of Legal Counsel in December 2002 to become the top lawyer for Tyco. Flanigan hired Abramoff to lobby for Tyco. He was to work against proposed legislation that would take away tax breaks from "Benedict Arnold" corporations that locate in tax havens outside the United States in order to get out of paying corporate taxes. Tyco is based in Bermuda.

Abramoff told Flanigan he would use his contacts with both DeLay and Karl Rove, "Bush's Brain," to lobby for keeping the tax breaks for Tyco. Think about it. Bush now proposes to put in as second in command of the Justice Department, which is investigating this whole mess, the man who is Tyco's lawyer and who hired Abramoff. If Flanigan is confirmed, that will mean the five top appointees at Justice have zero prosecutorial experience among them. But Flanigan does have the only quality that truly matters in a Bush appointee: absolute loyalty to the administration.

Washington, D.C., is theoretically covered by the largest concentration of journalistic talent anywhere in the world. This is just a straight, old-fashioned corruption story of the sort theoretically uncovered by many Washington reporters earlier in their lives at various city halls. Did everyone forget how it's done?
It's not that everyone forgot -- just that it's sometimes hard to recognize corruption when, as Madge the manicurist used to say, you're soaking in it. Forget the neocons and PNAC and their dreams of unchecked American hegemony; when a Bush is in power it is first, foremost, and always about the Benjamins (not to mention the Madisons, the Wilsons, and the Salmon P. Chases). The top priority of every Republican administration since 1980 -- during, that is to say, the Bush Years -- has been "the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands."

That last bit quote is attributed to GHW Bush in a 2002 article by Al Martin, the former naval intelligence officer turned wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, who added this concise explanation of the Bush family creed:
The Bush idea was (I remember Jeb used to say this) that, "Look, you hit them in every single hat they wear." That was the idea. He used to call them fodder. You hit the fodder in their hats as Taxpayers. You hit them in their hats as Investors and Savers. You hit them in their hats as Insurance Policy Owners through all these insurance scams his brother was involved in. Then there was, of course, Jeb's International Medical Corporation. Jeb also liked health care scams. But that was the idea the Bushes had, that you take the American taxpayer (which they called "One Fodder Unit," or OFU) and you hit them in every single hat they wear.

I don't know where the term came from, but "One Fodder Unit" became a popular term on the Republican cocktail party circuit in 1985. According to them, each individual American citizen equals One Fodder Unit.
Although we find ourselves inexplicably compelled to reread the article above every six months or so -- strictly for entertainment value!! -- we always find ourselves hoping, for the good of the nation, that Mr. Martin is a harmless dithering kook. If even half of the stories he tells -- about the reasons why Alan Greenspan cut Bush Sr. off at the knees in 1992, and the incomprehensible mess Clinton discovered upon taking office -- are true, then the next occupant of the oval office, whoever he may be, is in for one hell of a bumpy ride.

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