January 3, 2006
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff has pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion, and will cooperate with Federal prosecutors by testifying against others. He and partner Michael Scanlon arranged a kickback scheme by which the clients of their public relations firm were defrauded. Abramoff admitted that money did not go to certain charities as had been intended, but rather paid for overseas junkets and other perks. Abramoff is known for his close ties to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist (head of Americans for Tax Reform), and Ralph Reed (former Christian Coalition leader). See CNN.com.
Since such plea bargains almost always involve the pursuit of "higher-up" individuals, this implies that members of Congress or the Bush administration are being targeted. Saturday's Washington Post had a background article by R. Jeffrey Smith, detailing the complex financial Web between various congressmen and Russian oil businessmen, Indian tribes, and other special interests, with Abramoff serving as the intermediary. The name of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay figures prominently in this scheme. Hang on, folks, this promises to be a bumpy, hair-raising ride!
While many folks in the Republican Party have been making excuses for Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and Karl Rove, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich remains focused on radical reform, in the Party of Lincoln, as well as in the nation as a whole. I don't necessarily agree with all of his positions, but he is virtually alone in the Republican Party these days in seeing the Big Picture, and thinking in strategic policy terms, rather than in tactical terms of how to win the next election. He was interviewed on C-SPAN 2 this morning, will be addressing the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting next week. See www.newt.org.
(UPDATE) Dinocrat makes a good point in response to those who are in an uproar over the surveillance of international communication: "the next time your friends start in with the Ben Franklin quote and their airy-fairy theoretical concerns about the loss of liberty, light a cigarette and see what happens." (via Phil Faranda)