Monday, October 24, 2005

A Watershed Week

This ought to be a fun week for progressives like myself. A week when we watch as all the cards in this house-o-cards, shiver, some fall, some remain standing by dint of luck and placement.

First, Agitprop has a prediction contest. No winners except having it on the record that you predicted the precise time and number of Fitzgerald's indictments well ahead of the issuance.

Next, on top of the Tom/DeLay/Scooter Libby/Judith Miller/Iraq/Katrina-Rita-Wilma scandals plaguing the Bush White House, comes this little item about another facet of the turd that is the Religious Right:

Report: Abramoff sought out strategist
Lobbyist asked Reed for White House pull for clients, e-mails say

Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Jack Abramoff, the GOP lobbyist under investigation by federal authorities for fraud, repeatedly sought the help of Bush strategist Ralph Reed to open doors at the White House for his business clients, according to e-mails made public Sunday.

The e-mails show that Abramoff pushed for intervention from Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove on at least three occasions since 2001 to promote business opportunities.

Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition and a nominee in the 2006 race for Georgia's lieutenant governor, wrote back obliging responses, according to the e-mail obtained by Time magazine. The e-mail is being reviewed by investigators, Time reported.

The e-mail shows that, 10 days after Sept. 11, 2001, Abramoff promoted a business venture to rent cruise ships to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house rescue workers off New York City.
(emphasis added)

Gee, sweet of you to step in and help us po' ol' Amurikens deal with a tragedy of unbounded nature by sending in some cruise ships...out of your own pocket, perhaps?

But the tell-tale paragraph in this story?
In a third set of e-mails, Reed acknowledges having "weighed in heavily" with the White House on behalf of Abramoff to block Angela Williams from being appointed head of the Interior Department's Office of Insular Affairs.
Who dat, you may well ask?

She's in charge of stuff like this:
The Department of the Interior is pleased to announce that it will be leading TWO Business Opportunities Missions in 2006, one to the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and another to the territory of American Samoa. The Missions are part of the ongoing initiative of the Department of the Interior to foster private sector-led economic development in the U.S.-affiliated insular areas. Like the Conferences and Mission that have already taken place, the purpose of these Missions is to help U.S. businesses take advantage of exciting opportunities in the U.S. territories and in nations in "free association" with the U.S.

By participating in one of these Missions, you would receive high-level briefings from government leaders from each jurisdiction describing their development priorities and the steps they are taking to encourage investment. You would also meet with local business leaders to discuss the business climate and opportunities in the islands. In addition, you would be invited to participate in a series of pre-screened one-on-one meetings with island businesspeople and/or government officials to discuss specific projects.
In other words, she'd compete directly with Abramoff, particular in the south Pacific region!

How do I know this? Let Time Magazine explain:
In December 2001 the lobbyist was eager to prevent Angela Williams from being appointed head of the Interior Department's Office of Insular Affairs, which oversees the government's dealings with the Northern Mariana Islands, an important Abramoff client. Williams is married to former Federal Trade Commissioner Orson Swindle, who was a Vietnam POW with Senator John McCain. The subject header of Abramoff and Reed's e-mail exchange (it is unclear who initiated it) contained a misstatement about Williams that is practically Freudian in what it reveals about their animosity toward McCain: "Were you able to whack McCain's wife yet?" Reed assured Abramoff he had "weighed in heavily" with the White House personnel office to block her appointment but had received no commitment. "Any ideas on how we can make sure she does not get it?" Abramoff asked. "Can you ping Karl on this? I can't believe they just don't get this done?" Reed replied, "I am seeing him tomorrow at the WH and plan to discuss it with him as well." Baron says, "Ralph passed the information on to the White House. He is confident the Administration's decision was based on the merit." As for Rove, White House spokeswoman Erin Healy tells TIME, "It is my understanding that Mr. Rove does not recall any of these incidents."

Williams didn't get the job. She and her husband wrote it off to hard feelings from the bruising 2000 Republican presidential primaries. "I just assumed it was my close friendship with Senator McCain and her being married to me," Swindle tells TIME.
Disgusting little chappie, isn't Reed?