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Capitol Crimes: Abramoff, Inc.

Should U.S. territories be subject to the same laws as the United States itself. If so, why? If not, why not?

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Backgrounder: Abramoff, Inc.
One aspect of the unfolding Abramoff scandal involved the Marianas, a U.S. territory in the Pacific that Congress exempted from the U.S. minimum wage and immigration laws. The islands are home to Chinese-owned factories, where low-wage workers were imported from China and the Philippines and forced into slave labor conditions, living in squalid shacks behind barbed wire, to produce "Made in the USA" goods. As pressure built in the mid-1990s for a bill to impose U.S. laws on the islands, Abramoff was pitching his client-the government of the Marianas-as a regulation-free paradise and taking lawmakers there on luxury junkets ... [more]

Class Is in Session...

The scattered islands of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which lie roughly halfway between Hawaii and the Philippines and just north of Guam, cover a mere 179 square miles and have a population of just 82,459. Yet they have figured prominently in the house of cards that Jack built. The Marianas Islands



In 1995, Abramoff took on the government of the Northern Marianas in Saipan as a client and for the next six years lobbied key Washington lawmakers to maintain a hands-off approach to the sweatshop economy blossoming there. According to Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), of all the improprieties, fraud and corruption in which Abramoff engaged, "[his] most damaging and most indefensible work was to protect … sweatshops located in this U.S. territory."

Former Senator Frank Murkowski said of the Islands in a 1998 Senate hearing..."We saw living conditions that simply should not exist in the United States of America…." And why, as immigrant workers churned out millions of garments for top labels from The Gap to Jones New York - featuring the "Made in the U.S.A." label-did the U.S. Congress fail to ensure that proper worker safety and minimum wage standards were being met? Murkowski queried: "How could we have in the United States working conditions like this under the US flag?" The answers to these questions lead directly back to the controversial relationship between Abramoff, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and other important figures in government.

Made for America

Aside from Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands are the only other insular commonwealth of the United States. The arrangement, which began in 1978, grants all indigenous inhabitants of the islands American citizenship and allows them to elect a local island government but excludes the right to vote in U.S. presidential elections. The government of the Northern Marianas benefits from substantial U.S. federal funds-in the form of subsidies and development assistance-administered by the Department of the Interior. The United States benefits by having a strategic military site in the Pacific.

Under the terms of their commonwealth agreement, the Northern Marianas also maintained the right to label "Made in the U.S.A." all products manufactured on the islands — despite the fact that they had been given exemption from some federal labor laws, customs laws, immigration laws, quotas and tariffs laws By the late 1980s, this state of affairs had become a boon both for the island's garment industry and for a slew of American apparel giants who could count on abundant cheap labor without sacrificing the sacred "U.S.A." label.

During those years, the Northern Mariana's garment and textile businesses exploded, with companies importing tens of thousands of foreign workers from China, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to stitch in their factories for roughly half the American minimum wage. These immigrants often paid thousands of dollars to loan sharks to bring them to Saipan with the promise of work and spent months, if not years, paying off their debts, if they found work at all. Workers were often housed in barracks behind barbed-wire fences, often in unsafe, overcrowded and unhygienic conditions, and were charged exorbitant amounts for their room and board.

In the early 1990s, the U.S. Department of Labor began looking into allegations of garment industry worker abuses, focusing on factories owned by one of Saipan's biggest employers, Willie Tan. In 1992, the department filed suit against Tan and ordered him to pay $9 million in back wages and damages to workers at five of his plants-at the time, the largest fine ever imposed by the Department of Labor. The suit alleged that employees were forced to work more than 80 hours a week, below the islands' already low minimum wage and with no overtime. Further, workers were kept locked inside their barracks and were not allowed to leave during their off-work hours

Tan and his associates in the government of the Northern Marianas looked to American lobbyists for protection against potential federal regulation. Jack Abramoff was one of those lobbyists.

Enter Abramoff

Abramoff pocketed nearly $8 million from his contracts with Saipan between 1995 and 2001, according to the Northern Marianas' public auditor. And with the help of Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and others he accomplished his goal of keeping congressional hands off the commonwealth's sweatshops, despite a growing public outcry over the continuing abuse of immigrant workers.

Between 1995 and 1998 — in testimony before Congress; in investigations by the Department of Labor and the Department of the Interior; in congressional fact-finding missions; and in numerous media accounts, including a report which aired on ABC's 20/20 as "The Shame of Saipan"-the mistreatment of nearly 18,000 workers in the Northern Marianas became widely known. The public and the nation's lawmakers heard tales of women forced to undergo abortions in order to keep their jobs, of women and young girls guaranteed jobs in the restaurant industry only to find that they would be working as prostitutes; of long hours with no overtime and illegally substandard pay; of foul living conditions and beatings and humiliations.

In 1997, no doubt in partial response to these accounts, the Clinton administration wrote to the Marianas' elected leader, Governor Froilan Tenorio, that "certain labor practices in the islands ...are inconsistent with our country's values," and made mention of reforming the commonwealth's labor and immigration laws to bring them into line with those of the United States.

Tom DeLay visited Saipan in for the New Years holiday 1997/1998 — at the invitation of Abramoff, whom DeLay called one of his "closest and dearest friends." DeLay's trip — which boasted luxury hotels, fine white-sand beaches and several premier golf courses — was paid for by the government of the Northern Marianas and was one of a number of junkets the government sprung for at the urging of Abramoff.

When DeLay returned to Washington, he kept his promise to his clients in the Northern Marianas regarding federal regulation. Although the Senate in 1999 passed legislation that would have stipulated that any garment bearing a "Made in the U.S.A." label would have to be made by American workers, and more than 200 members of the House co-sponsored similar legislation the same year, the efforts never made it into law.

Willie Tan, the Saipan garment giant was captured on hidden camera by by Global Survival Network saying that DeLay had effectively told him not to worry about the legislation. According to Tan, "[Delay] said, 'Willie, if they elect me majority whip, I make the schedule of the Congress, and I'm not going to put it on the schedule.' So Tom told me, 'Forget it, Willie. No chance.' "

In 2000, Republican Sen. Frank Murkowski of Alaska authored a bill that would have extended U.S. labor protections and minimum-wage laws to the Northern Marianas. The Senate bill passed with unanimous consent. Again, it died in the House. But a number of class actions suits filed on behalf of garment workers in Saipan have fared better. In 2004 the workers dismissed their remaining lawsuit after having won a $20 million settlement with 26 U.S. retailers and 23 Saipan garment factories.

Discussion:

  • Should U.S. territories be subject to the same laws as the United States itself. If so, why? If not, why not?
  • What kinds of changes could we make to the Congressional power structure that would prevent one or two individuals from allowing a debate on legislation? What are the pros and cons to those changes?
  • What do you think about the ability of foreign companies to lobby the US government? What kinds of restrictions, if any, should be placed on foreign companies vs. domestic companies?

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Should U.S. territories be subject to the same laws as the United States itself. If so, why? If not, why not?

What kinds of changes could we make to the Congressional power structure that would prevent one or two individuals from allowing a debate on legislation? What are the pros and cons to those changes?

What do you think about the ability of foreign companies to lobby the US government? What kinds of restrictions, if any, should be place on foreign companies vs. domestic companies?

totally unacceptable practice.

As a US Territory receiving Federal dollars they should be subject to the same Labor and environmental laws as mainland US.

Did the Indians ever get any of their millions back or will they in the future?Capitol Crimes Abramoff,Inc.

The first Congressman to go on an Abramoff junket to the Mariana Islands was Rep. Ralph Hall (4th-TX). He not only took tens of thousands of dollars from Abramoff and Delay's money laundering bribe program, Hall worked closely with Abramoff to publicly attack a raped child who had come forward to tell the world about the horrors of the American Mariana Islands.

See the facts at www.RalphHallofShame.com

Help us force Ralph Hall into retirement!

www.MelanconForUSCongress.com

Anybody out there familiar with the RICCO Act? Well, under its provisions the Republican Party is an ongoing criminal enterprise. Why isn't it being prosecuted like any Mafia family or gang would be?

Yes, territories or not, all humans - citizens, legal residents, and illegal residents - must be treated with respect and dignity in a uniform and standard way. The "standard" is the one set by the country's constitution.

Territories, provinces, states, etc. may choose to have their own system of government and local regulations as long as the basic human dignity and rights are protected and preserved.

As regards the Northern Marianas, and Guam, I was a resident in that area for many years, starting in 1967. Labor abuses there are not a new thing. There was a US Navy scandal in the late sixties, early seventies of the US Navy abusing Filipino contract workers, and the living conditions at Camp Rojas were abysmal. It was so bad that the workers were eating in shifts because they shared a few tin plates and spoons and forks. The barracks those workers lived in were derelict Quonset huts left over from WWII. They were treated with no respect, were little more than a disposable commodity to be used, at that time, as part of the support system for the war in Viet Nam. Complaining meant getting fired and sent back to the Philipines. The scandal was well documented in the Pacific Daily News, the local paper there. Back here, I am sure that no one even noticed.

As for the Marianas, at the time I was there on Saipan, in 1976, there were odd wage issues. It was cause for much anger that what was at that time a Trust Territories Government had two different wage scales, the one for stateside hire secretaries and other 'office personnel' that were paid US Government wages and other for local hire. The heads of Trust Territories Offices and Agencies who were "local" made less than their secretaries that worked for them. It was a terrible setup, and local hire secretaries and other workers made far less than those from the states.

Our colonies in the Western Pacific have always been something of a stepchild, mistreated, abused, and used as cash cows for off-islanders. This latest mess with Abramoff and DeLay is nothing new. They are just some of the most recent parasites to land there. The area is convenient for these types because it is mostly out of sight and out of the minds of most Americans. Those who were never over there find it easy to ignore.

Those Territories cannot really have their own systems and regulations. Those familiar with the area know that it is all managed, one way or another, by the US Government, and they cannot do anything that their "big brother" the US of A government doesn't give permission for, even if that 'permission' is given in the form of ignoring abuses that have gone on out there for a very long time. The systems in all those islands are a result of the training they received from the government that has had oversight there since the end of WWII.

In fact, even calling them Trust Territories is something of a bad joke, as we've not been trustworthy, we have failed them over and over.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE re-broadcast Moyers' Capitol Crimes -- 100 times or until people "get it!"

Very informative program. However, I do not understand why Grover Norquist is not headed for prison along with his buddies since he played a key role in the corruption.

Mr. Moyers, Thank-you for this show about these disgusting,vile,conscienceless,scum that have somehow risen to the top of our political system. I was so incensed while watching last night I wanted to kick in the tube. What kind of message is this sending to people? Especially our young people! Unfortunatly I feel Jack 'Ass'amoff was just the tip of the iceburg and it's back to business as usual. The Foley mess comes to mind.I don't know what to do. I used to think the way to change things was by being an informed voter and exercising that right. However after the last two presidential elections I'm not sure I can even trust the vote process anymore.Please continue to show us what is really going on in the cesspool of Washington.Thank-you

Capitol Crimes was the most interesting and frightning program I have seen in ages. Please keep rerunning until our politicians beg for mercy.

Capitol Crimes was an excellent program. Once again Bill Moyers has done a terrific job. I wish this was required viewing for all Americans. I am ashamed of all of our representatives and the fact that they have lost sight of what is important and instead are giving in to greed and big corporations without any regard for the average American. I am fearful for my 7 year old son. Do any of these people have children or grandchildren. How can they do this to our country? I have written my congressman and complained. I feel that I need to step up my complaints and start doing more. All of us need to start making noise now and don't stop till things change.

How do I feel about my representative? My representative is William Jefferson of LA. I am ashamed of him and plan to vote against him.

We are in a sad state of affairs now in this country. Money and the power it grants is king.

Evil will exist when good people do nothing.
We the people should put all of congress on notice according to the oath they took when elected to their federal responsibility to uphold our Federal Constitution and hold them
liable according to Law.

This is only the tip of the iceburg. We the people for the past ninety three years have paid Federal income Tax without the ratification of the Fifty States. The trillion dollars a year is going to the world wide bank cartell surpossedly paying off a national debt. Wrong! See: davvy.com for more details. Normand R, Lavigne

I am sorry I was answering the last question about my Congressional representative.

About U.S territories and possessions, I think that not only do the people have the right to U.S. citizenship if they choose it but also any and all protections under the Constitution and any other statues to protect them from exploitation. At least they should have the good old American right to sue the pants off of the folks that caused them harm.

Also, the benefactors of the exploited workers should have to see what cheap goods really cost. I firmly believe that the owners should be jailed. I think that fining owners is a waste of time and policing action. Jail with serious time is a better deterrent than fining them. They have no shame so humiliation will not be successful. Jail, real jail would work a whole lot better than citing them or fining them.

My major concern is that the Congress will allow this kind of exploitation to continue because they have no shame either. Like the factory owner they are about the increasing of money and influence to themselves.

Finally, the U.S. should allow its terrtories and possessions to decide if they want the continued protection of the U.S. or if they want to be independent.

The most appalling factor for me is that these people claim to be the guardians of traditional Christian values, who are on a mission to defend America against the godless dogmas of the liberal left wing. I truly believe that Jack Abranoff and Tom Delay are without an iota of remorse
and only regret being caught. I did not see the face of Jesus Christ in Tom Delay's mug shot. Instead, I saw the of face glaring hypocrisy , and unrepentant arrogance.

I'm not a Republican nor a Democrat, but it seems to me that Bill Moyers missed a good opportunity to point out blatant similar corruption in Congress. A good example is the "deal-making" such as "earmarks" (pork barrel politics)[which they did comment about] on the Democrat side of the aisle by such (in)famous Democrats as Repr. John Murtha of PA. and Sen. Richard Byrd of W.VA. That would have helped prove to us that he is not promoting one political party of Congress over another.

Yes, we sure have a bunch of rotten scoundrels in Congress. Another one is Foley. How can we clean house with many of the "crooks" in there now? Who will be a Joshua or a Daniel to do "the right thing"? Do we have any real Statesmen alive today, or are they all just Politicans?
Wilmer

My representatives do not do a good job. In part, they have been wrestled into the bathtub by Grover Norquist and Karl Rove and strangled there (someone should check for disapperecidos amongst their former associates). My reps conduct too much national business, and not enough. They do not receive adequate advice or sufficient prep regarding issues and challenges our country faces. We need at least ten for every one elected to do this sufficiently. I cannot possibly agree that we have a representative democracy. We are barely able to tread water.

I already commented on scandal and corruption. I believe we should look closely at how our government has been physically and fiscally decontructed over the last eight years.

The Abramoff affair is like unto the disorder that remains after the real thing has pulled up stakes and gone elsewhere.

I definately believe that there are certain laws that should be enforced in any territory of the US. For example, purchasing any goods labeled "Made in the U.S.A." renders the purchaser incapable of believing that the goods were illegaly made. Is maintaining an unspoken facade not a lie? If these people are permitted to become employed by a US employer, they should be entitled to the rights associated with such an employer (minimum wage, overtime, etc.).
As for the power struggle, i think it is completely ridiculous for a few people to be able to prevent legislation to be debated. Our whole government system was founded on the premise that "all men are created equal", however, by allowing one or two people in congress to block a debate we are in direct contradiction of that clause. We are only keeping the door open for another Jack Abramoff-esque corruption scandal if we keep the current system in place. The only solution would be a vote to debate these controversial articles. The downfall of such a policy is the obvious time strains that come as a result of these types of votes. When compared to the obvious pitfalls of the current system, the choice for reform is evidently the educated one.
I do not believe that there should be a distinction between foreign and domestic lobbyists, because lobbying is not inherently evil. It is difficult, if not nearly impossible, to distinguish between lobbying for good and malicious purpose at times. Therefore, we should not place restrictions on actions that we can not accurately deem as being private interests.

I am so thrilled to see Bill Moyers back on PBS- I thought the present administration worked their "magic" and got rid of him.
The program on Capitol Crimes was so appalling - although I read all this in my magazine, "Nation". I am afraid that only a revolution will change the corruption in Washington- it's almost like, "you can''t put the toothpaste back.... they are so blatant with their dishonest practices that it seems they do not think of them as dishonest.But the strutting Tom Delay, living like a king; staying in a hotel at $8,000 per day makes me sick. That he would tell his people that he has Christ in him and he is full of joy is such a joke I can not even a devout christian could believe. How dare that crook claim to have Christ in him! The sad thing is, the people don't know and don't care- they will go out and vote for all these again- Bush would probably win another election were it legal to run. I look upon Bill Moyers as the most truly honest American and I see in him hope for the future. I am incensed when B. O'Reilly spews his lies about Moyers. O'Reilly couldn't carry his jock strap.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), a Scottish writer said it. "The greatest faults is to be concious of none." I found that quote looking up the spelling of complacency. If the Citizens of the United States ever loose touch with that word, I wonder what might happen.

Why are southern republicans such crooks and racist.It makes me wonder about all the people who voted for them.

Bill Moyers has again served us well. The report is thorough and hard-hitting. The voters complacency and apathy will be the greatest of sins, since it will permit this to continue. God protect us!

I happened on to this program by chance and it was so fascinating I could not turn away for a moment. I am struck by the contrast between this evidence of corruption and and the previous program I saw Bill Moyers do on Faith and Reason with Pema Chodron. It seems at the base we have a deep spiritual crisis and have lost ourselves and what is meaningful.

I have not been able to stop thinking about the Capitol Crimes program for 2 days. Bravo Bill Moyers! A masterful job of revealing what the elite ranks of PACS and special interest groups have tried so hard to conceal. America is well served by your insightful and relentless journalism. The crimes committed by Delay, Norquist, and Abramoff & Co have hurt and insulted not only groups of private citizens (whose only aim was to appeal to the political system to protect their livelihood), but also the integrity of our political values, and the checks and balances of our political system. America would be well served by throwing the lot in prison for a very, very long time.

For starters, it points out the imperative that all Americans vote in the November elections 06 to return at least one house of Congress to the Democratic Party. Then, realize that it is inconceivable that the man in charge , Pres. Bush has been aware, and a scheming part of the "culture of corruption" that has invaded Washington and must be removed, if not impeached, before 08.

Please find out what's up with the former Abramoff aide who resigned yesterday from Karl Rove's office. The tentacle of the k-street project seems to have reached into the white house.

Thank you, thank you Bill Moyer for showing us the truth about Abramoff. I think we must put a stop to all lobbyists for the moment and clear out that portion of the system until we can get agrip on how it can be so easily corrupted.
I was disappointed that the local news didn't make comment about the program. I will e-mail Chri Matthews and tell him about this program. Maybe we can include some of this material in between the news about Foley. I compared both stories and felt this too is another example of a cover up. How sad. We can only do the right thing and vote those persons out of Washington!
I loo forward to Moyer's next programs. Always informative. Thanks again.

What really gets me is that this was being done blatantly in front of everyone - in restaurants, hotels, etc., and none of our legislators cared. I guess the congress and senate members are scared to do anything against this mafia-type organization for fear their political life will be ended. They are led on a leash by the powerful.

NO HARM, NO FOUL.

WISE UP, PEOPLE. THIS IS A RESULT OF OUR NEW TREND TOWARDS ATHEISM.

WHY SHOULD THIS SURPRISE YOU? SO IT SAID "MADE IN THE USA." YOU BUY THINGS MADE IN CHINA, KOREA, AND THE PHILLIPINES WITH SLAVERY CONDITIONS, TOO.

IF THERE'S NO LAW AGAINST IT, THAT MAKES IT OK. KIND OF LIKE THE HOLOCAUST.

SEE WHERE WE GET WITHOUT MORALS AND GOD? FAR FROM WHERE THINGS SHOULD BE.

Hipocrites, hipocrites, hipocrites.

Until you are willing to pay more for things made in the 50 states, I say you are a hipocrite.

What do you care if it's made by slaves in Siberia chained to their freezing cages? You try to save as much money as you can. You're no different than the politicians.

Your banter falls on deaf ears. Put your wallet where your mouth is, and people will listen to you.

Strong words without actions is like a bike without pedals. They won't get us anywhere.

Voting new people in will be as effective as plucking dandelion flowers in my yard. Guess what--the dandelions keep growing new yellow flowers that look the same, because the root is still intact.

Kill the problem at the source--YOUR spending habits.

You buy things made by "slave" laborers all the time. Look no further than your bathroom mirror for the solutions.

So what if the labels had said "made in China." Would that have made everything OK?

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutly,America is at it's zenith of corruption

The previous comments that blames this on the "trend toward atheism" is ridiculous. This was allowed to happen under the watch of the political party that had the monopoly on Jesus and "family values". Please, take off the religous blinders that the Republicans keep doling out.

PS - I emailed the office for the governor in the Mariana Islands. Just got a denial in return:

Subject: Labor laws and Labels
I saw a disturbing program on PBS last night regarding labor practices in the
Mariana Islands. These people were basically slaves and the products that
they produced were tagged with labels "Made in the USA". Can products be labelled "made in the USA", if they are made in the Mariana
Islands where they don't observe our US labor laws? Is this the case now?What have you done to help this situation?

Response:
The program was not accurate. Apparel manufactured in the CNMI no longer use the "Made in the USA label." We dispute the sensational claims of rampant labor abuses. The CNMI is a US Commonwealth with a strong federal law enforcement presence, including the FBI, OSHA, the US Department of Labor, and a federal court.

Charles P. Reyes Jr.
Press Secretary for Governor Benigno R. Fitial
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Caller Box 10007
Saipan, MP 96950
Tel: (670) 664-2276
Fax: (670) 664-2290

When will this show be repeated at a time of day when people are actually awake and might be able to see it?

Stop ranting Phyllis, you don't even know people like me. You don't know how I live or what I think. You think you know, but you DON'T. All of my friends are more moral than the people shouting from their rooftops about how moral they are. We're quiet people, who are kind and decent. Since I don't believe what you believe, I'm evil? Nonsense.

My turn to comment on you. Your book, full of blood and contradictions, was written by people with less than today's first grade education. Why didn't god give Moses the blue print for Noah's ark and send them to Manhattan with $24 worth of beeds instead of demanding they kill every last man/woman/child/goat/flea of the "promised land"? Land that was already occupied!

well shucks being from neys district my aunt in Delay's district we wondered what took everyone else so long.

I am thrilled that Bill Moyers has returned to T.V.; he has more credibility than almost anyone and deals with matters important for Americans to know about, since so little of the media offers intelligent, truthful information on what is going on politically, financially, and morally. Yes, please keep on running "Capital Crimes"! My wish is that Mr. Moyers would head a group of citizens to spur needed changes in the legislative branches.

If consumers with conscience are using Made in USA labels as a guide to buying so they don't support slave labor, then clearly, any country/protectorate allowed to use the label should abide by our labor laws.

Also I'd like to add my name to the chorus of viewers who have urged PBS to rebroadcast this program at peak viewing hours. Bill Moyers is quietly thoughtful and presents the whole story and not just the screaming name-calling that passes for political discourse these days.

One of the questions on this list has to do with what changes can be made to turn the tide of corruption which is raping our country and, by extention, the world. Any ideas out there? Obviously we need campaign finance reform, but how would it be implemented? One of my complaints about the Democratic party is that it relys on attacking Republican greed and corruption. Don't get me wrong, it deserves attack. Yet the party never seems to come up with creative, detailed solutions to the problems facing our nation. Granted puting ideas out there makes one a target of attack by the right-wing, but our politicians have to start being about more than just getting elected. It's like brides that are all about weddings with no consideration about what it means to be married. Does anyone out there know of some well thought-out plans for change that we can force our legislators to enact?

As a long-time resident of Saipan, I am very eager to see the Moyers report. Please re-play it.

Should U.S. territories be subject to the same laws as the United States itself. If so, why? If not, why not?

That is a non question to me. Of course! There shouldn't be any other answer. "Made in USA" used to stand for something: quality products made by free people that upheld the rights of all to be free and successful. Now? It means greedy workers that starve corporations for benefits like healthcare and overtime and getting paid a 'working wage' while the CEO's and stockholders extract every dollar and nickle that they can by outsourcing and downsizing and busting unions and the backs of their workers. It should be disgusting that Toyota is running comercials that basically say they are more 'american' than the 'big three'. They are, and yet the greed and idiocy continues at those 'big three'. Let GM and Ford die. Die the death their workers are dying, penniless and without insurance.

What kinds of changes could we make to the Congressional power structure that would prevent one or two individuals from allowing a debate on legislation? What are the pros and cons to those changes?

It's rather simple: Get money out of politics. Why would Dick DeVos spend over 60 million dollars to be governor of Michigan? It's not for the salary, it's for the power! It's for what he can do for corporations and what they can do for him and his loudmouth wife. They are neck deep in Bush ideology and feel that a 'living wage' climinal on par with murder. Make ALL elections publicly funded through a checkoff system and keep all the other money out if it. Some states have been able to do it. At the national level, it's the only thing that can have a snowballs chance in hell of working. Another great place to start is in stopping the flow of national party money to local campaigns. Removing all secrecy in the fundraising process would be fantastic. Stop the flow of corporate money! It's the corporation candle lights that have drawn the eyes of the political flies.

What do you think about the ability of foreign companies to lobby the US government? What kinds of restrictions, if any, should be placed on foreign companies vs. domestic companies?

Corporations should be bound by a basic set of rules and some nationalities should have other rules on top of those. BUT, in todays world where there are 'American companies' based in the Bahama's, you have to look at where the money goes rather than where they say they are from. Any cocompany/corporation that chose to transfer themselves to a foreign shell entity should be treated as though that corporation was actually from that nation. In otherwords, if there is a premium to being an 'American corporation' for anything, those economic traitor companies shouldn't be able to claim it AT ALL!!! You want to bar foreign corporations from certain agencies and functions and let those economic fugatives declare they are American? Hell, then what are you doing? Slighting probably better foreign corporations and winking at those that screw America by sheltering their money overseas. Cheeky and wrong! You want to leave? pay the price. It only seems fair. No company, foreign or domestic should be able to go to a politico and 'market their wares'. Remember, the cash is out of politics or this won't work. The idea of Tom Delay's wife getting money for sitting on her butt is disgusting. End the money angle in American politics and I'll bet the lobbying dies too.

On the first point, let me state that I was trying to be sarcastic and didn't mean to jump in the GOP mold of blaiming the workers for what has happened to jobs in this country for it is the ceo's and management teams and stockholders that are pressing for the 'performance of the company' on the backs of the employees apparently at all costs...

I feel a great deal of sympathy when I see the 'Made in America/USA' label (which has gotten very hard to find). Whoever made that product was someone just like me. Trying to stay healthy, trying to have a 'good life', trying to raise a family and those tasks are getting harder and harder...

'America, the land of opportunity' just doesn't have the zing like it used to.

We, America, now stand for cheap labor, unavalable healthcare, poor substandard education, runaway religious zealotry, spying, listening, fearmongering, repressed and frightened society and a government that is by and large for large corporations, millionaires/billionaires and power and might.

We torture, we lie, we lecture, we distort, we have friends that were once (and still should be enemies) and we have lost friends that still stand for what America once stood for.

I'm not proud to be an American. I'm left to wonder if the government of the 'land of the free' is listening to my phone conversations... I'm wondering how many people are locked in small cells after being tortured and held for years without trial. That is not America! That is some third world cesspool with a tin-plated dictator as ruler and a field of boot licking lackies that jump at his every whim. THAT is America now...

Get the money out of politics! Get the money out of politics... Get it out!!! It may already be too late...

(Reinstituting the 'fairness doctrine' into law would be an excellent idea)

I think Robert has accurately described the thoughts and feelings of our country. I am not ashamed to be an American, but I am ashamed of our government and I am even more ashamed of myself for what I once believed.

I grew up in a conservative working class neighborhood. I was in eight grade when Ronald Reagan ran for President the first time. Everyone was assigned a candidate to follow. Reagan was my assignment. I remember watching him on the nightly news and how the adults in my family and neighborhood reacted. There were a lot of self employed families in my neighborhood. When Regan spoke of the wealty or of corporations, he hit on the heart strings of all these small businessmen. They all identified with his message, saw themselves as these corporations and upper class citizens if not in actuality, then in dreams and aspirations. My father was self employed, worked long hard days, worked for every penny he made. Reagan was sticking up for my dad.
Growing up I kept with that conservative mindset, became self employed myself and thought that republican anything was the only way to go. Their laws might not have benefited me, but in my mind, one day they would. I had a business in the inner city, was generous and fair with the local residents, often hired day laborers to do small insignificant jobs I would either have done myself, or not paid anyone to do just so they could feel like they worked instead of getting a handout. These were people, I respected them, and empathized with them, but in a societal scheme of things they were indispencible.

I worked hard, long days, just like my dad. One day I realized I was in my mid thirties and all I had done my whole life was work. Thought about it long and hard and decided all the hours and physical toll was not fair to my wife or myself. I decided to go back to school. After trying a few things, I settled on nursing school, it has been a good fit.

I see patients during clinical day without insurance, unable to pay for care. Patients that find themselves with such diseases as cancer or renal failure and no-one willing to do the needed treatments or surgeries. People that find themselves begging for help from surgeons, specialists, and hospitals to get life saving treatments for themselves or loved ones. These people are working class Americans, not an indespencable group of people that I once believed existed, people that have worked the same jobs every day for the last 15-20 years. In nursing school, there is a big emphasis stress and its effects on long term health and the ability to recover.

I look at where my political views were in the mid eighties, what influenced them, where they are now, and how much more critical I am of what is being said to me. I am ashamed of my past beliefs. There was a time when I felt I could debate anyone on the merits of conservatism on any political subject. Now, I know I could debate anyone on the merits of a more liberal stance on any political or economic subject. I once believed that people became conservative once they matured. I now believe people become more liberal once they allow themselves to be better educated and not rely on their emotions.
I can't believe as a young adult, I looked forward to the day Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and Presidency, and had the major influence in the Supreme Court. What the Hell was I thinking???

It is amazing to me that after the Vietnam War and Watergate we are back where we started.

Our contry has become the most criminally negligent, self-serving, and inhumane country in the world. We have lost our way...our democracy, many of our liberties, and our commitment to peace and justice. Our government is not only openly preaching and practicing stealing, obusive treatment at home and abroad, torture, etc. This has happened over a period of years, and is the result of a number of years of neglect on the part of US citizens. It's not too late to take our country back, but it will take every single one of us to do it.

The Marians, Iraq, and millionaire junkets are just tips of the iceberg. We have to become politically aware and committed.

This show could have easily been called SLAVERY IN AMERICA mind. So, if there are slave wage factories on US soil, then how long till we see them on main street? I mean openly on main street?

The abuses in the Marianas will continue as long as we sit back and do nothing. We've had time to digest this from the Burns/Tester Senate race in Montana, the Moyer's report, ABC's 20/20 investigation in the late 90's, and the Doolittle/Brown race in CA-04. Now's the time to get proactive and start change. I'm starting a non-profit to help the abused on the Marianas. Check out my website, www.ripplesofhope.org, and help fix this problem!

This from Byron York on Hillary Clinton also receiving money from Willie Tan. Can you determine whether this is true and if so, press her to explain how she could accept this money? If not true, how can York say this? And, who is doing what to help the garment workers of Taipan?
I think we should hold the feet of congress, all of it, to the fire on this. We must make reparations to these people and get rid of all the Willie Tans operating in America, though they may be legion. This, our country, beautiful and visionary is sliming down the tubes.

"Hillary Clinton and the sweatshop tycoon of Saipan

You may remember news reports a few weeks ago about the nationwide reach of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fundraising network.

The nonpartisan website PoliticalMoneyLine reported that her biggest political action committee, Friends of Hillary, has raised more than $20 million since the beginning of 2005.

Some of that money came, as it does in any campaign, from donors who gave less than $200. Such contributions do not have to be reported to the Federal Election Commission, and thus we have no information about them.

But of the more than $13 million that came from individuals whose contributions were reported, $5.63 million came from Mrs. Clinton’s “home” state, New York.

Donors in California gave $1.54 million. Washington, D.C., accounted for $603,360. And donors in Sen. Clinton’s actual “home” state, Illinois, gave $554,088.

The list goes on and on. Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan — until it gets to something called “MP.”

Do you know what “MP” is? Neither did I.

It stands for Marianas Protectorate, and it refers to the Northern Mariana Islands.

It turns out that Sen. Clinton has some big fans in Saipan. And most of them are in the family of one Willie Tan.

Last year, Tan gave $2,000 to Friends of Hillary. So did Raymond Tan, Siu Lin Tan and Josie Tan, all members of Willie Tan’s family.

FEC records indicate that the $2,000 checks from Willie, Raymond and Siu Lin were all received on Sept. 30, 2005, indicating they were sent together. The check from Josie was received Oct. 2.

Together, the Tan family’s $8,000 contribution to Friends of Hillary was more than the senator’s PAC received, separately, from residents of the entire states of Hawaii, Mississippi, Nebraska, Vermont, Utah, Kansas, Wyoming, Alaska, Idaho, South Dakota, Montana or North Dakota.

You might not have heard of Willie Tan, but he is quite well-known in the Northern Marianas as a garment-industry tycoon. Sometimes he’s also described as a sweatshop operator.

He is also well-known in the U.S. Congress, where some of Sen. Clinton’s fellow Democrats have denounced him and his factories, which pay subminimum wages, for years, mostly because of his tireless efforts to make sure those factories are never subjected to U.S. labor laws.

None of that has attracted much new coverage. But there is one reason you might have heard of Willie Tan. His name has popped up here and there in connection with a man with whom he’s done quite a bit of business over the years: Jack Abramoff.

Congressional investigators probing the Abramoff affair have run across Tan’s name in some of the disgraced lobbyists’ e-mails.

My colleague on this page, Josh Marshall, has posted some of those e-mails on his website, talkingpointsmemo.com. For example, in a March 28, 2000, note, Abramoff billed Willie Tan $223,679 for expenses relating to the sports skyboxes that Abramoff used in his lobbying.

Why was Willie Tan paying Abramoff? Because Abramoff could provide access to U.S. lawmakers. Last year, ABC News reported that Abramoff “arranged a lavish overseas trip to the island of Saipan for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay [R-Texas] over the New Year’s holiday in 1997.”

Correspondent Brian Ross reported that DeLay met with Willie Tan during the trip, and ABC played a surreptitiously recorded tape in which Tan claimed that DeLay had promised to stop moves in Congress to reform the island’s garment factories.

Last year, National Journal reported that Tan also met with DeLay and Abramoff during DeLay’s 2000 trip to England and Scotland.

And a few months ago The Washington Post reported that “the owners of textile companies in the Mariana Islands” — that would include Willie Tan — contributed $500,000 to the U.S. Family Network, the big-money, secret-donor group linked to DeLay.

Now, normally one might expect Sen. Clinton to denounce someone like that — if only for his ties to all those terrible Republicans. (In 2000 and 2004, Willie Tan contributed to the Bush-Cheney campaigns.)

Just read what Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) said after the ABC report aired. “We have been trying for years to secure hearings to investigate reports of mistreatment of foreign workers in this U.S. territory,” Miller told reporters. “Now we apparently know why our requests have been denied — a very cozy relationship between the Republican leadership of the House and the major garment-industry tycoon in Saipan.”

Sen. Clinton might well join Rep. Miller, along with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who has also denounced Tan’s business practices.

But instead, she is accepting Tan’s generosity and support.

Of course, he’s an old friend. Several years ago, the Post reported that Mrs. Clinton met with Tan and other like-minded supporters during a quick fundraising visit to Guam in 1995.

But these days Sen. Clinton is being quiet about all that. A spokesman for Friends of Hillary did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the Willie Tan contributions.

But at some point in the coming campaign(s), perhaps she’ll be asked about her friend in Saipan.

York is a White House correspondent for National Review. His column appears in The Hill each week.
E-mail: byork@nationalreview.com"

Beware of FALSE PROPHETS!!

It seems as if nothing happens to these guys.

No consequences that really mean anything are ever paid.

They come out of jail or whatever and end up on the boards of companies that they were fronting for.

This government is totally corrupt and the only thing that matters to any of these people, is first and foremost, how to get and hold onto power/money and then how do we sell it to the mofos so they'll swallow it. All they want from you is to shut up and keep paying the bills.

Fogeddabout it! the average honest person has no chance against these lying scum.

All you can do is find a small place in this world and try to hang on to it.

Oh and buy the way the enforcement arm is just as corrupt as the people they profess to protect you against, And there's not a damn thing you can do about them, try suing those lying sob's and they'll just get some hack judge to dismiss your case for them.

They are all a JOKE.

This goes against every effort in the direction of "liberty and the pursuit of
happiness".

I believe that all U.S. territories should be under the same exact laws and rules as the actual U.S. states. America is supposed to be the land of the free and the land of opportunity, we still own the territories so all the same rights should be giving to everyone there, poelpe shouldn't be working for less than minimal wages and people should not be put in "concentration camps." Some can argue that these are not concentration camps but in my eyes it looks like a concentration camp to me. If all people there are not granted all thier rights then that place should not a true territory of the United States.

corruption on both sides of the law, a systemic problem complicated by a population explosion
the so-called face of american freedom...USA is an easy target for anyone who wants to play the money game. The irony of a democracy that has lost it's ability to be fair in a corrupt world

Congress has become the training ground for thiefs of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds apparently.

Why should America have faith in its elections when the faith they give is twisted and contorted to become little more than acquiescence to a flourishing, but high profile embezzlement ring?

I refuse to post to your site because your web design results in misrepresentation.

Thank you so much for your work. It looks to me like these guys enjoy power and the get over as much as they do money.

unfortunately this site has turned into explaining something to the the war and erosion experts...countries and peoples
erode into war everybody wants America and they want to come here and further demonstrate that war eventually must have its own way. It is Gods new and improved trash can

unfortunately this site has turned into explaining something to the the war and erosion experts...countries and peoples
erode into war everybody wants America and they want to come here and further demonstrate that war eventually must have its own way. It is Gods new and improved trash can

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