Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Our generation's Hunter Thompson

UPDATE: An accompanying tidbit about Conrad Burns, including a fact sheet on drilling for oil in the Grand Canyon.

Matt Taibbi is a great writer. He always picks up on the best details.

In a hilarious convergence of ordinary workaday incompetence and pointlessly secretive cloak-and-dagger horseshit, Operation Babushka's grand opus would ultimately turn out to be the production of the 1989 Dolph Lundgren vehicle Red Scorpion, in which American moviegoers were invited to care about an anti-communist revolutionary targeted for execution by a sweat-drenched jungle version of Lundgren's overacting Ivan Drago persona. The film, which Abramoff wrote and produced, was instantly derided by critics around the world as one of the stupidest movies ever made.

And one more below the jump:

One of the ugliest developments in American culture since Abramoff's obscure Cold Warrior days in the Eighties has been the raging but highly temporary success of various "smart guys" who upon closer examination aren't all that smart. There was BALCO steroid scum Victor Conte ("The smartest son of a bitch I ever met in my life," said one Olympian client), Enron's "smartest guys in the room" Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay, and, finally, "ingenious dealmaker" Jack Abramoff. Somewhere along the line, in the years since the Cold War, Americans as a whole became such craven, bum-licking, self-absorbed fat cats that they were willing to listen to these fifth-rate prophets who pretended that the idea that rules could be broken was some kind of earth-shattering revelation -- as though they had fucking invented fraud and cheating. But to a man, they all turned out to be dumb, incompetent fuckups, destined to bring us all down with them -- not even good at being criminals.
Take the infamous Naftasib scheme of 1997-98. The short version of this story is that Abramoff and Tom DeLay met with a bunch of shady Russian oil executives in 1997; the Russians then sent $1 million to a British law firm called James and Sarch; James and Sarch then sent a million to the pompously named nonprofit "U.S. Family Network," which in turn sent money to numerous destinations. It went to a lobbyist agency called the Alexander Strategy Group that was run by DeLay's ex-chief of staff, Edwin Buckham; the agency would subsequently hire DeLay's wife at a salary of $3,200 a month. It went toward the purchase of a luxury D.C. town house that DeLay would use to raise money. And it went toward the purchase of a luxury box at FedExField, which Abramoff used to watch the Redskins. If you follow the loop all the way around, the quid pro quo probably involved DeLay's 1998 decision to support an IMF loan to Russia, whose economy collapsed that year and would rely on an IMF bailout to survive. A Maryland pastor named Christopher Geeslin, who briefly served as the U.S. Family Network's president, would later say that Buckham told him that the $1 million from the Russians was intended to influence DeLay's decision regarding funding for the IMF. DeLay ended up voting to replenish IMF funds in September of that year, right at the time of the bailout.

Is this smart? Sure, if you're fucking ten years old. If your idea of smart is turning an IMF loan into Redskins tickets, then, yeah, this is smart. But another way to look at it is that these assholes got themselves Redskins tickets by giving $18 billion to one of the most corrupt governments on Earth. I'd call that buying at a premium.

Tags: news and politics, taibbi


  • At 12:42 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Have I already told the lame anecdote of how I met him at some reading and got so nervous (because I love his writing and didn't expect him to be so hot in person) that I said something so idiotic and tongue-tied that I really think he thought I was mentally challenged? I mean, he really got that "I'm talking to a special person" tone to his voice. Best of all, it was being filmed for CSPAN, so my biographers can unearth it for some future VH1 bio.

    Anyhow, this is another example of his snarky genius.

  • At 2:02 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Didn't I send you that review like 100 years ago?

    He's not only good-looking, he's good-looking AND looks uncannily like Hunter Thompson.

  • At 2:47 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Yeah, you did. But, you know, we've got to remember our reader.

    Not only is he good-looking and not only does he look uncannily like Hunter S. Thompson, but he is RIPPED. I wish I knew where he worked out (er, not that I'd stalk the showers or anything). Total alpha male. Really unlike most snarky journalists, and I can totally understand why the White House press corps loathed him. He's got more testosterone in him than the entire staff of the New York Times put together (and that's including Linda Greenhouse).

  • At 2:48 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Hahaha I of course meant readers, but reader might be more accurate.

  • At 10:50 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Oh, and you didn't send me that Friedman review, but we talked about it. I read Taibbi's NY Press stuff every week religiously.


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