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Monday, March 17, 2008

The Village People and the Osmonds Were Narrowly Aced Out by Wham! 

From the April issue of Harper's (not yet online), a want ad plucked from the Federal Business Opportunities website:
Professional Celebrity Rock Music Band, sought for tour of Forward Operating Bases in Kuwait and Afghanistan. Musical repertoire should consist of Southern rock, pop rock, post-grunge, and hard rock. At least one member should be recognized as a professional celebrity. The Government will conduct a performance risk assessment based on the quality, relevancy, and recency of the Offeror's past performances as they relate to the probability of successful accomplishment of the required effort. Performers shall be wholesome and adhere to the standards of good taste; profanity, vulgarity, or connotations of sexual depravity and perversion will not be used. Female entertainers shall be displayed in ways not offensive to the host nation. Protective military equipment, such as Kevlar, body armor, and eye and ear protection, will be provided when the group is traveling on rotary or fixed-wing military aircraft. Any criminal conduct, unexcused tardiness, indecency or obscenity, drunkenness, use of narcotics or hallucinatory drugs, or damage to Government property will be grounds for termination of the contract.
UNRELATED SIDEBAR: A couple of items from the April Harper's Index (not yet online either):
UNRELATED SIDEBAR II: Good Lord. If you're going to sit there pissing and moaning about the fact that the April Harper's is not yet online, visit the damned website and read our wily colleague Scott Horton on the mysterious disappearance from our national consciousness of "the largest corruption scandal in American history":

Might there be a reason why the [Jack] Abramoff investigation ran out of gas and plummeted into the ocean in some undisclosed location? Well, the connections to Rove and Bush are obvious. But even more troubling are the Abramoff ties to the Justice Department itself, particularly in the form of Attorney General John Ashcroft. Here are just some of the interesting intersections:

  • in 1997, John Mashburn left his position as Legislative Director for Senator John Ashcroft and signed on to lobby for Preston Gates, where Jack Abramoff was the Government Affairs Counselor. Mashburn very quickly became enmeshed in the dirtiest of the Abramoff dealings, including the Northern Marianas, Mississippi Choctaw and Future of Puerto Rico accounts.

  • In 1997, a group called Toward Tradition, whose chairman was Jack Abramoff, hired Ashcroft as a guest speaker.

  • In 1997, another Abramoff client paid for a trip to the Pacific by another of Ashcroft’s legislative assistants.

  • In 1999, Ashcroft participated in the famous Abramoff-organized junket to the Tartan Tournament at St. Andrew’s, Scotland.

  • Jack Abramoff was a major contributor to Ashcroft’s 2000 re-election effort, in which Ashcroft was defeated by a dead man.

  • Kevin Ring, another key Ashcroft insider, who advised Ashcroft on judicial nominations among other things, quickly emerged as a member of Jack Abramoff’s inner circle.

  • As questions were raised about Abramoff’s illicit dealings in the Northern Marianas, and the U.S. Attorney there began a probe, he was promptly removed from office–a step which only Ashcroft could have implemented.

So John Ashcroft had no shortage of burning reasons to suffocate the Abramoff investigation. All of these points were cited in the demand for a special prosecutor to handle the Abramoff matter. Ashcroft denied these requests, and insisted that the Abramoff questions be handled in the normal course by his Justice Department. Then Ashcroft was succeeded by Alberto Gonzales, whose prime function was to stand as a guard dog for the White House, insuring that the criminal conduct that occurred at 1600 Pennsyvlania Avenue stayed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

So why did the Abramoff investigation run out of gas and disappear? Does anyone seriously question why? It’s another reason why the bread-and-circus tales of prostitutes in the Mayflower Hotel are so useful.


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