"You are a shining light for what is happening to the Republican Party, and you represent everything that is good about what we are trying to do in America and leading the world in the free-market system." – Tom DeLay, referring without irony to CNMI labor practices
My knowledge of the tenets of Judaism is admittedly limited. But I’m quite sure “Seek to profit from the blood and toils of the vulnerable” isn’t one of them.
Jack Abramoff, whose close ties to the GOP may mean an end to their majority status later this year, was once a “nice Jewish boy” with modest goals:
- He wanted his own Orthodox Jewish school.
- He wanted to set up a West Bank sniper school.
- And he obviously wanted to be the most powerful and profitable lobbyist in US history, at any cost.
One of Jackie’s major lobbying efforts involved bilking Native American tribes out of millions in exchange for assisting them in their casino gambling initiatives. For letting him swindle them, Abramoff referred to the tribes as “monkeys” and “morons.”
True, casinos are often cash cows for their owners, and aren’t the most highly regarded of businesses. But gambling law exemptions are among the few concessions we’ve given to a people from which we’ve taken so much.
Jackie also lobbied for years on behalf of garment manufacturers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a US territory in the Pacific. The manufacturers wanted to be exempt from minimum wage and other US labor laws, and had the CNMI government’s backing – but not the US government’s.
In essence, they wanted to have their cake and eat it, too: Proudly display the “Made in USA” tag on their clothing to draw the “Buy American” crowd, while bypassing American labor laws.
Jackie tried to stear the Clinton Administration away from extending US labor laws into the CNMI, but Bill & Co. wouldn’t have any part of it. A more amenable regime took power in 2001, however, and Abramoff got his wish.
Garment factories in the CNMI are the proverbial sweatshops, staffed by Chinese immigrants who are confined to fenced camps during their off hours.
Some Asian women emigrate to the CNMI on the promise of work in garment factories, but end up being forced into prostitution once they arrive.
Taking just these facts into account, it’s obvious why people like Jackie and his hug-buddy Tom DeLay were so keen to accept money in exchange for helping the fine business and government officials of the CNMI.
Like all crooks who are sorry they were caught, Jackie has begun playing the religion card to show what a decent and genuinely remorseful man he is. In a Washington, DC court to plead guilty to three charges last week, he wore garb typically associated with Orthodox Jews, and spoke of seeking God’s forgiveness.
His attempts at portraying himself as the “nice Jewish boy” are not only a transparent ploy to repair his image, but an insult to Jews who actually follow their faith’s tenets. (As a goy, I’m making an educated guess on the latter, but I’m sure I’m right.)
If Jackie wants to continue to play the part of the good, God-fearing boychik, it’s his choice. But I’d like to make this suggestion: Though Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is still a long way off, he ought to get a head start.