One thing that is predictable about the modern conservative movement is that a grifter can always return and can always get a job.
For example, let’s take a look at the real people behind the Tea Party movement and the mad libs rescramble of platitudes also known as the “Mt. Vernon Statement“.
A few weeks ago the Washington Post took a look at the people in DC that are actually doing the work to drive the Tea Party Movement.
Not surprisingly, it was a list of grifters.
Because of my years researching Jack Abramoff and his activities since 1978 quite a few of these names jumped out at me. They also caught the eye of another scholar of the modern conservative movement, Thomas Frank.
Tom is the author of “What’s the Matter with Kansas” and more recently, “The Wrecking Crew“. It was in the Wrecking Crew that Tom took a deep dive into the long history of conservative corruption. In 2008 Tom excerpted The Wrecking Crew in Harper’s Magazine and it is an important tutorial for anybody who wants to understand how corruption works in Washington.
These days Tom writes a weekly column in the Wall Street Journal (of all places) and it should be on your list of weekly reads. This week he took a look at the names mentioned in the WaPo article and explained some aspects of their grifter past:
What struck me about the Post’s story was the familiarity of it all. In particular, I kept being reminded of that ultimate conservative insider, the now-imprisoned superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the work he did on behalf of the Northern Marianas Islands, where garment factories churned out “Made in the USA” clothing under re-education camp conditions. [snip]
Today, as Washington conservatives scramble to stay atop the growing grass-roots right, the cast of characters is remarkably similar. For example, the “Team Abramoff” lobbyist who ran the Marianas trips program in the 1990s, Patrick Pizzella, is reported by the Post to be the “only paid staff member” of the Conservative Action Project. According to the Washington Times, Mr. Pizzella has also been “involved” in the drafting of the Mount Vernon Statement, a conservative manifesto that is meant to rally the tea-partying base.
Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) also makes an appearance in the Post story, as ATR sponsored the first round of tea parties a year ago and as Mr. Norquist’s famous Wednesday morning meetings for conservative power brokers have provided a fertile medium for the movement’s networking. [snip]
And then there is Dick Armey … as you may recall, Mr. Armey was once one of Congress’s staunchest defenders of the Marianas way. Several of his aides traveled to the free-market paradise, and in 1997 Mr. Armey even wrote a letter jointly with former Rep. Tom DeLay in which he praised the islands’ dedication to “the principles of free markets, enterprise, education choice, tax reform and other innovative approaches to governance.”
Behold your Third Great Awakening, America. Lobbyists, sweatshops, and the junkets designed by lobbyists to make sweatshops seem like liberty are, presumably, the sort of things tea partiers should have trouble with. Will the grass-roots nation call these gentlemen to account for their freedom flimflamming of the past?
I wouldn’t count on it.
There are many other names on the list with connections to Abramoff as well. Take Matt Kibbe, the President of Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks–he was one of Abramoff’s junketeers to Saipan and a reliable think tank defender of sweatshops and human trafficking upon his return. Or then there is the reliable grifter-for-hire, Brent Bozell, who runs the Media Research Center–a conservative PR spin shop designed to extrude press releases and commentary on command. Bozell was another traveler to the Marianas Islands and a reliable media voice to defend the abuse ever since. And the there is Horace Cooper who has been indicted in the Abramoff scandal and is awaiting trial for his crimes. Cooper is a former long-time Dick Armey staffer who connects Dick to Jack in a tight and dirty way.
There are more connections as well in the list of names behind the resurgence of the converative movement. Some of these grifters go back to the sixties, some the seventies, some the eighties, nineties and some come from the zeros. Regardless where they come from, the Tea Party movement is becoming a full employment movement for the Republican grifters who drove up the debt, stole from tax payers and got rich during the Gingrich/DeLay/Bush era actively destroying the Government of the United States. To call the movement these grifters are promoting “grassroots” is an insult to astroturf.
Tom Frank is an entertaining fellow. As I drove into work this morning I was pleasantly surprised to here him on C-Span this morning. It is a fun segment and you can find a link to it here.
The Republican Tea Party movement is blatantly embracing the corruptionists who have done so much damage over the last thirty years. This is good new for Abramoff as he can be sure that he will always have a job with the Tea Party movement when he gets out of jail in a few years. After all, his BFF Grover is basically running the scam.