Friday, January 06, 2006

Reader Mail: The Friday Fruitcakes

It's time to take our regular look at the mailbag and see what right-winger crawled out from under a rock to be mean to me this week.

Without a doubt, the piece that generated the most vitriol in the last 48 hours was in response to my article Following The Abramoff Money -- And It Didn't Go To Democrats. I got some friendly e-mails from readers asking about what appears to be a discrepancy between what I wrote and what the mainstream media has been reporting about Democrats in Congress in fact being recipients of Abramoff money.

And I got a few from some conservative types calling me on what they consider to be inaccurate reporting or an outright attempt by me to deceive on the subject.

“Patty” wrote to say “Despite your efforts to show that Dems had not accepted Abramoff's payoffs, CNN discovered otherwise...”

“GOPer10” sent me a note saying, among other unpleasant things “...the only way you liberals can get by is to make Republicans look like crooks while ignoring that your own people are doing it too. Your little article is a big lie and it didn’t take long for it to be discovered.”

Actually, my "little article" is entirely true and I stand by it.

While the majority of these claims of the Abramoff scandal being totally bipartisan are coming from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) – gee, there’s a great source from which the stenographer media can get unbiased analysis – and will be debated widely over the next couple of months, my article specifically addressed personal contributions from Abramoff and his wife.

And I made this very clear:

An analysis of all donations under Jack Abramoff's name or by his wife, Pamela – who donates under "Pam," "Pamela" and "Mrs. Jack Abramoff" – since 1977 and through January 2, 2006, shows that they made a total of $338,418 in political contributions. Of that, $204,000 went to individual political candidates, while $134,000 went to Political Action Committees (PACs).

Of the $204,000 that went to people running for the House and Senate, not one dime went to a Democrat. Yes, that's correct – 100 percent of Abramoff's personal donations went to Republican candidates or, in an extremely isolated case, he gave $750 to Howard Phillips of Virginia to run for something or other on the Constitution Party platform in the mid 1990s.

Now, I realize how tough life gets for my Republican readers when the big words start flying and they need to show the reading comprehension of the average third-grader, but the key word there is “personal.” There's nothing cryptic about what I wrote. I even follow it up later by saying the following:
If you would like to look at how the personal Abramoff money has been allocated over the years, I've set up a little web page here with all the details. It's interesting reading -- he even donated to Oliver North's Senate campaign. Remember him?

Now, that's no guarantee that a couple of Democrats won't also be swept up as partners in crime when people starting looking under the hood of the Abramoff money machine and examining where the millions he's bilked from others have gone – but I seriously doubt it.

Again, I reinforce that I’m talking about Abramoff’s personal contributions and say further that, when the many twists and turns of his money machine are exposed to the light of day, a few Democrats may even be swept up in it as well. We shall see.

But I’ll say this to the right-wingers writing to me thinking they’ve nailed me being inaccurate or disingenuous: Do some damn homework and move beyond just spitting out the talking points from the NRSC, of all places. If you want to get the purest look at who Abramoff was in bed with, the best place to start is with who got money right out of his own wallet. And I say again: Not one dime of it went to Democrats.

I did my legwork and I can – and did – document it. If you want to dig up a Democrat who got money personally from Abramoff or his wife, I’m all ears and will even print a retraction.

Until then, stop coming to a knife fight with a toothpick.