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Open Source Foes In Bed With Abramoff 230

Posted by kdawson
from the perpetrating-a-fraud dept.
Will Rodger writes, "Citizens Against Government Waste has said some highly critical things about open source software in the past. They've also pounced on supporters of the OpenDocument Format along the way. Alas, it seems their close ties to Jack Abramoff have drawn the (unfavorable) attention of Senate staff."
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Open Source Foes In Bed With Abramoff

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  • Vote the bums out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:04PM (#16414735) Homepage Journal
    "What is most important, however, is that this matter is kept discreet," Abramoff wrote to a colleague at the Preston, Gates & Ellis law firm. "We do not want the opponents to think that we are trying to buy the taxpayer movement."

    This comment is perhaps the most telling in that it shows that Abramoff *knew* what he was doing was wrong and that this would not even pass the sniff test.

    The groups are Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform; the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, which was co-founded by Norquist and Gale Norton before she became Secretary of the Interior; Citizens Against Government Waste; the National Center for Public Policy Research, which was a spinoff of the Heritage Foundation; and Toward Tradition, a religious group founded by Abramoff friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

    This is the sort of incestuous behavior that the current Republican and NeoCon administration encourages. Of course the whako left is not immune from this sort of behavior either, but it seems to have reached a new high in the current political climate. So, regardless of your political leanings, please recognize that this is not the way to run a democratic (small "d") government and now is the time to clean house in next months elections. I'd love to see a complete overhaul of all sitting candidates in favor for new blood, Democrat *and* Republican who can hopefully work together in a more non-partisan way to actually do something rather than continuously position and campaign.

    As an aside: How many days a week are our representatives and senators actually on the job in DC? What is their work week like? Anybody here know?

    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:13PM (#16414873)
      I'd love to see a complete overhaul of all sitting candidates in favor for new blood, Democrat *and* Republican who can hopefully work together in a more non-partisan way to actually do something rather than continuously position and campaign.

      To quote Lewis Black: "The only thing stupider than a Republican or a Democrat is when these little pricks work together."
    • by Rei (128717) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:25PM (#16415049) Homepage
      Well, I'll put it this way: when my uncle was in the US House, he was busy nonstop. I lived at his house during that time, and he made it home (to his new home which he had just built before he was elected, and which he loves) for 1-2 evenings a month. The rest of the time he was in a little apartment in DC or other places in work-related travel. He worked on things related to his job almost nonstop. Late in his term, he had a heart attack. His doctor gave him a choice: cut down on the stress, or die early. He didn't run again.

      Also, I should add that you're stereotyping of all politicians as being the same is pretty silly and unjustified. It's hard for most people to realize that these are people -- all with their own individual beliefs, opinions, principles, and moral convictions.

      Talking about trying to get people to get more accomplished is contrary the very design of our government, which tries to slow down legislative action. You don't *want* laws too change too quickly, or a short-term shift in the balance of power can lead to long-lasting negative rammifications. And, contrary to popular belief, "compromises" are not necessarily better than *either* side, let alone the particular side that one chooses to believe in. Should the north have "compromised" on the issue of slavery -- "Well, you can keep them as slaves, but they get days off"? Should we have compromised on ending Vietnam -- "Well, we'll take *half* of our troops and equipment from Vietnam"? Of course not.

      People stick to their moral viewpoints because they believe that they're right and a compromise is bad. When they think that a compromise is in the best interests of the nation, they work toward it. It all depends on the situation.

      Talking about trying to get people to get more accomplished is contrary the very design of our government, which tries to slow down legislative action. You don't *want* laws too change too quickly, or a short-term shift in the balance of power can lead to long-lasting negative rammifications. And, contrary to popular belief, "compromises" are not necessarily better than *either* side, let alone the particular side that one chooses to believe in. Should the north have "compromised" on the issue of slavery -- "Well, you can keep them as slaves, but they get days off."? Should we have compromised on ending Vietnam -- "Well, we'll take *half* of our troops and equipment from Vietnam."? Of course not.

      People stick to their moral viewpoints because they believe that they're right and a compromise will work out poorly. When they think that a compromise is in the best interests of the nation, they work toward it. It all depends on the situation.
      • by Rei (128717)
        Grr. This system lag is messing up my attempts to type. :P Sorry for the copy-paste error.
      • by Grishnakh (216268)
        Most politicians don't have moral convictions. That's why they're "politicians", instead of "statesmen".

        Having moral convictions keeps people from getting elected, because politicians' way of getting elected is to say whatever pleases the most people in their constituency, instead of what they really believe in.
        • by Pxtl (151020)
          A statesman is just a dead politician.

          We need more statesmen

          (props to Bloom County)
      • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:47PM (#16415983) Homepage Journal
        Parent should be modded up- this is the way things are supposed to work.

        However, I don't know how long ago your uncle served in the US House, but the events of the last 15 years, particularily the last 5, have basically proven to me that if anybody is in Congress due to their conscience they made it there because their conscience conviently fits in with the multinational corporate cabal that pays for our campaigns through lobbyists.
      • by rbochan (827946)
        ...you're stereotyping of all politicians as being the same is pretty silly and unjustified...


        That's because 99% of politicians give the other 1% a bad name.

      • by T.E.D. (34228)

        It's hard for most people to realize that these are people -- all with their own individual beliefs, opinions, principles, and moral convictions.

        Its particularly hard for me to realize this, as my representative happens to be John Sullivan, who regularly franks me solmenly promising to fight the US Constitution, and one of my senators is the infamous Tom "impulse sterilzation" [washingtonpost.com] Coburn.

        Neither is in any danger of being voted out of office soon either. Lucky you, America!

    • by 7Prime (871679) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:34PM (#16415153) Homepage Journal

      Bi-partisian-ism, is as bad for people as are oil companies who collaborate to fix gas prices. One of the basic principals of capatalism is that any system works best if all parties (be it corporate or political) are under the pressure of competition, and even better if that competition is fairly even, so that all parties are constantly having to look over their shoulder. What we have now is a bloated government caused by a severe imbalance of power, a political monopoly, of sorts, by the extreme right. Just as bad as a monopoly, however, is the consistant agreement between parties. Way too much blood has already been spilt under the cliched and dubious banner of "bipartisanship". No, what we need are strong leaders who will fight for their convictions, but who are willing to play by the rules set by the US consitution. THAT'S how a good system works. Some of the most prosperous periods in US history were caused by a balance of power... the 90's being one of them. Both Clinton and the Congress were at their best when they were at odds with each other... that was a fine example of our system of checks and balances in operation.

      The term "bipartisan" is simply a catch phrase, used, usually by the far right, as a way of trying to move the public perception of the "center" over to their side. It's a Rovian tactic, it's anti-capitalist, it's tacky, and most of all, it's not even an idea that we really want. What we need is compromise under the pressure of heated debate... NOT Bipartisanship.

    • Absolute Power (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Tancred (3904)
      As they say, it corrupts absolutely. The Republicans have had the Senate, the House, the Executive branch and the Judiciary for nearly 6 years. That's too much for any party. Vote Democratic this time for a check on that power. Then push for all you're worth to get some real change - publically financed elections and some sort of vote ranking / instant runoff voting.

      Publically financed elections would save lots of money. Politicians would have to convince the voters to vote for them by words and actions ins
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pig Hogger (10379)

        Publically financed elections would save lots of money. Politicians would have to convince the voters to vote for them by words and actions instead of their fund-raising prowess. They would no longer be indebted to big money interests, but to each voter equally. They would not have to spend half their lives chasing the big money and instead could spend it talking to and working for their constituents.

        In Canada, political parties receive money according to the number of votes they received at the last el

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by lawpoop (604919)
          "There are also talks of absolutely prohibiting croporate political donations,"

          There may be talk, but for decades now, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that corporations are legal persons, and enjoy all the constitutional protections afforded to persons. So, if we ever passed a law that forbade corporate political donations, the Supreme Court would strike it down as unconstitutional. And corporations would certainly bring it all the way up to the Supreme Court.

          The only way to fix this clu
          • by Tancred (3904)
            Well it is, at least, illegal in Texas state house races. Delay got caught funneling corporate money to Washington and then back to Texas again as non-corporate money in his scheme to take over the Texas state house.
            • by lawpoop (604919)
              What Delay did was a kind of money laundering -- there are limits to what individuals or corporations can give, so Delay got around those limits by giving money to an organization, which in turn gave it to a candidate, to whom Delay had already maxed out his contribution. But it is not illegal for corporations to give money.
          • by Bert64 (520050)
            Then corporations should also be tried and punished in the same way as a person too.
            If a corporation had all it's assets seized for a period of time as punishment for committing a crime, that would be a much better deterrent... You could also throw all the shareholders in jail for the term of the sentence.
            A corporation should also not get the opportunity to negotiate it's sentence, an individual doesn't, they merely get handed a sentence by a judge and that's it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rayonic (462789)

          In Canada, political parties receive money according to the number of votes they received at the last election.

          So it supports the incumbent party the most, is what you're saying. Sadly, that's what most "clean election" laws end up doing.

          During elections, only political parties can run advertising, and each advertisement, down to each poster and pamhplet has to be accounted for.

          Another good one, it means groups like labor unions, the ACLU, and the NRA can't run issue-specific ads. This is especially bad s

          • by LizardKing (5245)

            groups like labor unions, the ACLU, and the NRA can't run issue-specific ads.

            But looked at the other way round, why should an unelected single issue organisation influence the vote for government? Just because the NRA for instance, doesn't like a party or candidates policy on guns, should that allow them to influence an election that should be about the whole policy platform? Think about the Swift Boat Veterans at the last US presidential election - what relevance did their pressure group interest have

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Shotgun (30919)
          But we have a Constitution that says a rich man can spend his money to say anything he likes.

          My solution is to get away from trying to eliminate free speech, and start trying to promote it. The citizens still own the airwaves. Appoint a date each year in which all broadcasters must transmit the "Official Debates". Everyone on the ballot will be invited, though not required to participate. Each candidate will be allowed to enter a question(s) for the debate, and everyone in the debate will be given equal
      • Instant runoff elections aren't the best answer to our current system. More people should advocate approval voting [boulder.co.us] or condercet, if they're daring :)
    • by dave562 (969951)
      I'd love to see a complete overhaul of all sitting candidates in favor for new blood, Democrat *and* Republican who

      Here, here. A complete, 100% change of direction. A vote for anybody but an incombent. Make EVERYBODY involved in the system accountable for the failures. Our system would function MUCH better if, instead of waiting for one party to cease the majority of the governmental process, the people simply replaced BOTH PARTIES every four years with those who can cooperate.

  • by Mendak Jemuna (998832) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:05PM (#16414755)
    All of them?

    Must be a big bed.
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:09PM (#16414813) Homepage Journal

    I've often wondered about this group. They remind me of something my college accounting prof. warned us about. (He's a CMA-Certified Management Accountant, outside the classroom.) Bean counters should never be put in charge of a business, long-term. They tend to focus too much on the money aspect rather than if the long-term is better served by a few extra expenses, e.g. getting a tetanus shot for $ rather than fighting the disease later for $$$$$.

    CAGW has struck me as being too pennywise in the past. Not that they haven't had some good points, but their focus is often too narrow.

    Looks like this kind of irony is something they could use, if they chose to, as a learning experience.

    • They tend to focus too much on the money aspect rather than if the long-term is better served by a few extra expenses, e.g. getting a tetanus shot for $ rather than fighting the disease later for $$$.
      It's been called, "stepping over dollars to pick up nickels."
      • Doesn't work in the US, but in the UK I'd use the phrase "chasing pennies while the pounds roll away".
  • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:09PM (#16414815) Homepage Journal

    If you're like me, you're probably wondering, "The who said what about what?"

    Wikipedia to the rescue [wikipedia.org].

    Read on past the Linux stuff. This is the same group that took money from Phillip Morris and then (can you imagine?) complained that the Department of Health and Human Services report on the dangers of smokeless tobacco was a waste of taxpayer money. Go figure.

  • by linefeed0 (550967) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:12PM (#16414865)

    This is a repost [slashdot.org] of a comment I have made previously, but I think the connection is important. Jack Abramoff took money to lobby on behalf of a company, eLottery, whose business model basically depends on software and business method patents in order to raise the cash they need to spend on lobbyists. Without the patents, there would at best be a trade association for such companies in a competitive market, probably more open in its dealings with government as well.

    An article several months ago in the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] described more about how Jack Abramoff took money to influence congressional proceedings. In this case, it was to scuttle a bill that would have prohibited state lotteries from going online. As with his work with Indian casinos, Abramoff pulled strings to get otherwise anti-gambling members of Congress to vote against a law prohibiting companies like eLottery from conducting lotteries over the Internet.

    Oh, did I say "companies like"? Oops, no, just eLottery. They seem to have some patents [elottery.com] "broadly covering Internet retailing of state lottery tickets". In other words, software patents, or actually business model patents (legalized monopolies) disguised as them. Of course, those patents let them raise capital from investors eager to profit from that legalized monopoly. Where did that capital go? Right into lobbyists' pockets.

    • My concern here is that we are getting away from judging this man based on his terrorist type behavior, that of subversion of the democratic process, and instead judging him based on the fact that his clients are people that many would tend not to agree with. This is clearly not a useful direction. I don't care is Abramoff was working to fund a guaranteed cure for cancer. The ends does not justify the means, and subversion of legitimate democratic processes are never acceptable.

      Let's be clear here. To

  • by touretzky (215593) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:25PM (#16415041) Homepage
    Citizens Against Government Waste once ran a hit piece [cagw.org] on me, prompted by the Church of Scientology. (What I don't know is whether the Scientologists actually paid them cash to do it, or merely supplied the material.) They ran this piece without ever attempting to contact me or Carnegie Mellon University to verify their facts, or ask for a comment. They also didn't have the guts to post the URL for the web site they were complaining about, which concerned the Sherman Austin [cmu.edu] free speech case. As far as I can tell,they're just a bunch of clowns pretending to guard the people's interests while cynically pursuing their own -- much like the rest of Washington.
    • Thanks from all of us for your dedication to free speech. Are you aware of some other enemies of free speech [go.com] who are currently active?
    • Silly articles like this are hard to refute when a suitably convoluted argument could be used against high school chemistry textbooks for supplying knowlege that could be used to make a bomb. It's unfortunate that growing numbers of people see those who are educated as enemies of their way of life.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:53PM (#16415367) Homepage Journal
    In my Open Source State of the Union [technocrat.net] given at the Boston LinuxWorld Expo, on April 5, I mentioned the Abramoff connection. It's interesting to see more documentation.

    Bruce

  • by Shishberg (819760) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:58PM (#16415439) Homepage
    Who's Abram?
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:59PM (#16415443) Homepage Journal
    Abramoff's other business with Dennis Hastert (R-IL) included a child slavery industry [dailykos.com] in Saipan, the Northern Marianas Islands US territory (near the Phillipines). Sex slavery and manufacturing slavery (child and adult). Hastert was simultaneously covering up for Mark Foley (R-FL) while Foley was molesting House pages. Interestingly, ABC News' Brian Ross broke both stories, but hasn't yet connected them.

    Abramoff raised money to elect Republicans, Hastert controlled those House Republicans (and through their majority, the House). Together they made laws for the past 6+ years.

    Now they're revealed to be in league to suppress open source. Are these Republicans really evil, or does it just require corrupt politicians to give evildoers the advantage they need to win? Is there a difference?
  • Check out just a few links in the Abramoff Web [dailykos.com] of corruption. For extra points, google each player to see how deep in jail they are already.
    • Check out just a few links in the Abramoff Web of corruption.

      Two links to The Daily Kos in three articles, both by the same poster. Again, do you have any other sources, that people other than those on the far left side of the "Progressive Movement" might find credible?

      Open source already has a reputation for being left-wing. But The Daily Kos has one (even among Democratic politicians) for being so far left wing that it's brewing the Kool-Aid for the entire Democratic party.

      If we're to get Open-Source ad
      • by Tancred (3904)
        I understand and agree with the concern about appearing partisan. There are plenty of non-partisan reasons to be pro-open source and anti-corruption.

        I did want to point out that Daily Kos isn't as far left as its reputation though. A year or two ago it was further left in relation to the U.S. public, but now it's almost mainstream. Of course, it's a large population and has its share of radicals and a few brave Republicans.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:13PM (#16415597)
    I recently watched this Moyers special on pbs about Abramoff and DeLay. Definitely worth a viewing.

    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/moyersonamerica/capitol/ index.html [pbs.org]
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:19PM (#16415667) Homepage Journal
    '"What is most important, however, is that this matter is kept discreet," Abramoff wrote to a colleague [washingtonpost.com] at the Preston, Gates & Ellis law firm. "We do not want the opponents to think that we are trying to buy the taxpayer movement."'

    Preston Gates & Ellis [wikipedia.org]: 'The "Gates" in the firm's name is William H. Gates, Sr., father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.'

    Abramoff's gang of Republicans took control of the entire elected government in 2001.

    "The DOJ, now under the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, announced on September 6, 2001 [wikipedia.org] that it was no longer seeking to break up Microsoft and would instead seek a lesser antitrust penalty."
  • Management that doesn't have any qualms about cheating their customers out of billions of dollars through monopolistic practices, FUD, and manipulation of IP laws won't have any qualms about bribing politicians either.
    • I expect politicians to be honest representatives of the will of their constituents, and failing that, to be censured or expelled from Congress, or at least not re-lected.

      Unrealistic, you say? Well, cynicism is cultured by the establishment. If we expect the worst of politicians, and hold them to those low standards, then should we be surprised when the scumbags take us up on our invitation? It's past time to prosecute politicians, lobbyists, and corporations when they interfere with the processes of g

  • you owe it to yourself to watch this documentary [pbs.org] on the Abramoff scandal. It is absolutely amazing, infuriating, and disheartening.
  • Random Frank Zappa quote. Slightly modified. Dig it:

    Jack had a girlfreind named Foley. They'd meet each other there, hold hands and think pure thoughts. But one day Foley didn't show up. He was sucking cock back stage at the armory in order to see some big rock group for free.

    Doesn't that work? It totally works! Of course, the cat is completely out of the bag about the Republican party now. They're trying to do damage control but when you look at all those rich old men and you realize how much they real

  • How many times has msft pulled this stunt? Remember AdTI?

    Some conservative think-tank starts screaming about msft being denied it's rights; and - whodathunkit - it's msft funding the entire thing!

    Wasn't the letters-from-dead-people campaign another example of one these msft scams?
  • In the past CAGW was without question shilling for corporate interests ... the letters from dead people advocating against Microsoft's anti-trust prosecution were certainly that :-)

    However, the organization has been cleaned up, and has returned to its original mission, and if you look at some of their more recent work and argument, they are doing what their name implies, and as a hardcore liberal / libertarian European who finds even the US **Democratic** party too right wing for my taste, I find myself agr
  • I won't believe it until I see the video on GooTube.

RADIO SHACK LEVEL II BASIC READY >_

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