Friday, March 10, 2006

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The chief of an Indian tribe represented by the lobbyist Jack Abramoff was admitted to a meeting with President Bush in 2001 days after the tribe paid a prominent conservative lobbying group $25,000 at Mr. Abramoff's direction, according to documents and interviews.
The payment was made to Americans for Tax Reform, a group run by Grover G. Norquist, one of the Republican Party's most influential policy strategists. Mr. Norquist was a friend and longtime associate of Mr. Abramoff.
The meeting with Mr. Bush took place on May 9, 2001, at a reception organized by Mr. Norquist to marshal support for the president's 2001 tax cuts, which were pending before Congress. About two dozen state legislators attended the session in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds. The meeting was called to thank legislators for support of the tax-cut plan, an issue on which the tribal leader had no direct involvement.

The above, noted by Charlie, is from Philip Shenon's "$25,000 to Lobby Group Is Tied to Access to Bush" in this morning's New York Times. Norquist? Remember John Byrne and Ron Brynaert's "Washington nonprofit where Abramoff was director wrote articles favoring Abramoff clients" (Raw Story):

Several months later, the National Center's name appeared in another Saipan Tribune article. This time, Ridenour's group was supporting a coalition of Marianas garment manufacturers who bemoaned U.S. efforts to impose tighter labor laws.
Ron Sablan, chairman of the Western Pacific Economic Council trade group, lauded Ridenour’s group.
RAW STORY has discovered that Sablan also praised three other nonprofits, two of which would later work with Abramoff on Indian gaming issues.
"Fortunately with the help of our public affairs firm others have joined to argue against this intrusion into our economic sustenance. The Americans for Tax Reform, the Council with Citizens Against Government Waste, the Traditional Values Coalition, and the National Center for Public Policy Research supported the WPEC's stance," Sablan said.
Americans for Tax Reform, led by conservative maven Grover Norquist, is already under scrutiny in the Abramoff scandal, and the new revelation that they abetted a Marianas concern may further raise questions about their relationship with Abramoff. ATR
got $25,000 at Abramoff's direction from an Indian tribe to set up a meeting with Bush. The Traditional Values Coalition, meanwhile, was paid $25,000 at Abramoff's instruction to lobby on Indian gaming in 2000.
In August 1999, Ridenour
attacked the Clinton Administration's Interior Department for using federal resources to aid Democratic efforts to impose federal labor standards on the islands. The islands are a haven for sweatshops, as they enjoy the privileges of a U.S. territory but do not have to follow laws enforced on U.S. states.
Ironically, Abramoff would use Bush Administration Interior Department officials just a few years later to thwart measures that would jeopardize the well-being of his Indian tribal clients.

On lobbyists, Martha notes Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and Charles Babington's "Senator Resumes Lobbyist Huddles" (Washington Post):

After saying in January that he would end his regular meetings with lobbyists, Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), the third-ranking GOP leader in the Senate, has continued to meet with many of the same lobbyists at the same time and on the same day of the week.
Santorum, whose ties to Washington lobbyists have been criticized by his Democratic challenger, suspended his biweekly encounters on Jan. 30. His decision came as Democrats named him as their top target in November's Senate races, and after the guilty plea of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff to charges of conspiring to corrupt public officials.

But in the month since his announcement, Santorum has held two meetings attended by the same core group of lobbyists, and has used the sessions to appeal for campaign aid, according to participants. Both of those meetings were convened at the same time as the previous meetings -- 8:30 a.m. -- on the same day of the week -- Tuesday -- and they lasted for about as long as the earlier meetings -- one hour.

Why keep your word? Bully Boy didn't keep his oath to uphold the Constitution. Which is a nice way to note, again, the Center for Constitutional Rights's new book: Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush.

He also didn't keep his eye on Afghanistan, a war he started, and not just in terms of Tora Bora.
Brooke notes Christian Parenti's "Afghanistan: The Other War" (The Nation):

Only ninety-eight US troops died in Afghanistan last year; but the ratio of US casualties to overall troop levels makes Afghanistan as dangerous as Iraq. While Iraq's violent disintegration dominates the headlines, Bush touts Afghanistan as a success. During his recent visit, the President told Afghans that their country was "inspiring demand their freedom."
But many features of the political landscape here are not so inspiring--for example, the deteriorating security situation. Taliban attacks are up; their tactics have become more aggressive and nihilistic. They have detonated at least twenty-three suicide bombs in the past six months, killing foreign and Afghan troops, a Canadian diplomat, local police and in some cases crowds of civilians. Kidnapping is on the rise. American contractors are being targeted. Some 200 schools have been burned or closed down. And Lieut. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the senior American military officer here, expects the violence to get worse over the spring and summer.
Even in the once relatively stable northern and western regions of the country, foreign military bases and patrols are coming under sporadic attack, while civilian traffic faces a sharp rise in violent banditry. One security monitoring organization said they had seen a fourfold increase in such crimes over the past year.

We started with the corrosive power of money and we'll close with it. Billie notes "T.D. Jokes" is the subject of this week's Radio BC (note you can listen, for free, or you can read the transcript). Here's the opening of "Is T.D. Jakes Deal Going Sour?" (The Black Commentator):

The Black mega-preacher T.D. Jakes is perturbed, feeling let down by President Bush, by Bush's father, the former President, and former President Bill Clinton. Bishop Jakes and other clergy had been promised that $20 million in privately-raised Katrina aid would be distributed through their faith-based institutions. George W. Bush himself chose Jakes as a co-chairman of the group that would distribute the money, part of $110 million raised by Bush's father and Bill Clinton. That was right after the hurricane hit. Now, six months later, these Black preachers haven't gotten a dime. Bishop Jakes, who flirts endlessly with the Republicans, says he is annoyed, frustrated, and angry -- his way of saying, "Show me the money!"

Democracy Now! finishes it's London broadcasts today, be sure to listen, watch or read (transcripts).

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