Rotten core of Washington Republican establishment
This is what I was talking about when I noted exactly how outrageous this scandal is. It isn't so much that Abramoff bought influence or pampered (illegally) elected officials... I mean, we'll always have corrupt politicians - it's a rat-dirty business... Having said that, this stuff makes me want to vomit...
I mean, Republicans have been riding the religious right to victory at the polls for the last 25 years... Delay, Ney, Doolittle, Burns - they all claim to be devout Christains... Not sure if you heard Abramoff yesterday, but he was talking about meriting forgiveness from the Almighty...
Here are some select quotes from the link, but it's a Amy Goodman interview with Brian Ross, Chief Investigative Correspondent for ABC News. The first quotes are excerpts from a 20/20 peice done by Ross that ran in 1998.
BRIAN ROSS: In fact, American authorities have discovered many Chinese workers are forced to sign secret agreements, known as shadow contracts, before they leave China, severely and, in some ways, illegally restricting their activities while on American soil. For example, in this agreement translated into English by American authorities, workers are forbidden to participate in any religious or political activity or to ask for a salary increase or even to fall in love or get married, much as might be the case in mainland China.
ALLAN STAYMAN: To allow them to bring that on to U.S. soil is a very deep concern. We've now documented the facts that management coerces female workers who become pregnant into having abortions.
BRIAN ROSS: Several of the cases, the government says it has documented, were at this factory, the one with a contract to make Ralph Lauren Polo t-shirts. This Chinese woman, Tu Xiao Mei, made t-shirts and pants at the factory until she became pregnant.
TU XIAO MEI: When I told them I was pregnant, they told me to have an abortion.
BRIAN ROSS: Tu Xiao Mei says she refused to have the abortion and has now been barred from entering the factory.
BRIAN ROSS: And you're going to have your baby?
TU XIAO MEI: Yes.
BRIAN ROSS: Will you get your job back then?
TU XIAO MEI: Cannot.
BRIAN ROSS: Cannot get her job back, she says.
BRIAN ROSS: We want to ask you about the abortions, do you know about the complaints?
BRIAN ROSS: The bosses at the factory said they didn't want to talk about what they called ridiculous allegations. But human rights workers say it's common practice at this factory and others.
ERIC GREGOIRE: With 11,000 Chinese workers here, I have never seen a Chinese garment factory worker have a baby in my entire four years on Saipan.
BRIAN ROSS: There are no children in those barracks?
ERIC GREGOIRE: None. Inside that factory Chinese law applies, and Chinese law is supreme.
BRIAN ROSS: Even though it's the United States of America?
ERIC GREGOIRE: That's right. The flag doesn't fly inside there.
BRIAN ROSS: Saipan has cultivated some powerful friends back in Washington, spending millions of dollars on lobbyists and free trips in the middle of the winter for members of Congress and their staff. Congressman Tom DeLay of Houston, the third-ranking Republican in the House, went as a guest of the Saipan government over the Christmas holiday, a trip that included a tour of several factories and barracks, with one that even Congressman DeLay had to concede was nothing to write home about.
TOM DeLAY: But, you know, this trip has been very beneficial.
BRIAN ROSS: Still, at a fancy New Year's Eve dinner thrown in his honor, DeLay praised the outgoing governor and vowed to fight efforts back in Washington to change Saipan's immigration and labor laws.
TOM DeLAY: Because you are a shining light for what is happening in the Republican Party, and you represent everything that is good about what we're trying to do in America, in leading the world in the free market system.
BRIAN ROSS: And DeLay is just one of more than 80 influential congressmen and congressional staff members who have been brought out to Saipan, most put up, as was DeLay, at the beachfront Hyatt Regency. About as far from the island sweatshops as it is possible to get on Saipan.
What follows is Amy Goodman's interview:
AMY GOODMAN: Well, you did that piece, what, some more than seven years ago. Your response now?
BRIAN ROSS: Well, it's interesting to watch this unfold because the man behind the scenes in every case was Jack Abramoff. In the footage we had on World News Tonight last night showing DeLay arriving in Saipan. He's wearing a funny-colored floral hat and is greeted by a man in a beard who's Jack Abramoff. Big bear hugs all around. And it was Abramoff then who shepherded him around the island, made sure he would see what he wanted him to see. And DeLay took his family along. It was New Year's Eve. Temperatures were very nice, much nicer than back in the States. And that's what Abramoff was able to achieve. DeLay then became active in blocking legislation that would have cracked down on some of those terrible labor practices in Saipan.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the issue of forced abortion, which is astounding given Tom DeLay's stand on abortion. Can you talk about that?
BRIAN ROSS: Well, it's completely counter to anything that DeLay or most Republicans seem to espouse, that was, on that island there were forced abortions. And the workers there who are all young women, who often had to pay to get these jobs, knew the rules. And they were barred from having boyfriends and certainly barred from having children if they became pregnant. They knew where to go, and there were a few essential back-alley abortion mills on the island. And that's where these young Chinese women went in order to keep their jobs. And that was the deal. That's part of the situation that was essentially endorsed by DeLay when he fought the laws. The laws were established essentially exempting Saipan, although it is a U.S. territory, from U.S. labor laws.
AMY GOODMAN: So, of course, the clothing that is made there says "Made in the U.S.A."
BRIAN ROSS: Exactly right. They have the exemptions made in the U.S.A. Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, all the major brands have garment factories there, owned primarily by Chinese industrialists from Hong Kong who brought in Chinese material. And the Chinese workers who lived in something akin to -- I don't want to call it a labor camp, but it was surrounded by barbed wire. They were taken on the backs of trucks to these factories. They work 10, 12 hours a day, then brought back to their camps. An ugly scene there, one that was defended effectively by the garment manufacturers and by the government of Saipan at the time, with the expenditure of millions of dollars on Jack Abramoff.