Friday, March 18, 2005

Pray for Tom DeLay, and other news round-ups

Ken Bode, formerly of CNN and now a journalism professor at DePauw University, pens an oped for the Indianapolis Star that starts out with language from an urgent email alert asking recipients to pray for "Christian statesman" Tom DeLay. It's reminiscent of the statements made by Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation earlier this week that the attacks against DeLay were "spiritual warfare." The op-ed invokes the late Hunter S. Thompson at the end:

DeLay recently issued a statement saying the revelations of his trips to England and South Korea are not ethical lapses. Luxury travels with lobbyists paid for by gambling interests? Junkets to South Korea paid for by registered foreign agents? How long will GOP members in the House tolerate these embarrassments?

To paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, Tom DeLay is beginning to look like a farmer with terminal cancer trying to borrow money on next year's crop.

Sidney Blumenthal does a good survey of all of DeLay's troubles for Salon (watch a silly ad), particularly the Jack Abramoff/Michael Scanlon/Ralph Reed/Native American tribe casino scandals. The money 'graphs about that (caution -- could make your blood boil):

Teaming up with DeLay's former press secretary, Scanlon, Abramoff charged Indian tribes seeking help for their casinos a total of $66 million in fees. He directed them to funnel money to a variety of Republican groups, including Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform and DeLay's political action committee. With Indian money flowing into Republican coffers, DeLay declared in 1995 that "people recognize that Jack Abramoff has been an important part of this transition." Abramoff also turned for help to another old College Republican friend, Ralph Reed, who was paid $4.2 million between 2001 and 2003 to organize through his consulting firm (Century Strategies) Christian constituencies against Indian gambling interests that competed with Abramoff's Indian clients. (Reed's front groups also received funds from Indians.)

One tribe, the Tigua in Texas, whose casino was under siege from Reed's lobbying, felt compelled to seek help from the main Republican lobbyist for Indian tribes, Abramoff. On Feb. 6, 2002, Abramoff e-mailed Scanlon under the subject line "I'm on the phone with Tigua": "Fire up the jet, baby, we're going to El Paso!" Scanlon replied: "I want all their MONEY!!!" Abramoff e-mailed Reed: "I'd love us to get our mitts on that moolah!!" When the El Paso Times ran the story "450 Casino Employees Officially Terminated," Scanlon e-mailed it to Abramoff: "This is the front page of today's paper while they will be voting on our plan!" Abramoff wrote back: "Is life great or what!!!!" (You can read all the e-mails here.) The Tigua paid $1.8 million in fees, but in the end Abramoff and Scanlon failed to get their casino reopened. "A rattlesnake will warn you before it strikes," said the Tigua leader. "They did everything behind our backs."

Go ahead, Ralph. Run for statewide office in Georgia.

And, the Los Angeles Times editorializes about volcanoes.


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