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I Pledge Allegiance to Grover Norquist…

I pledge Allegiance to Grover Norquist

Who is Grover Norquist?  His name oozes up when his “tax pledge” hamstrings Republicans who aren’t dye-in-the-wool Teahadis.  Norquist is an extremist Corporatocratist with the self-stated goal of ending all government and turning over everything, including the military, to private-sector control.

He is the spear carrier of the long-smouldering Libertarian overthrow of the Republican Party. A Social Darwinist intent on destroying the U.S. Government from within, whose “friends” in back room deals include convicted felons Jack Abramoff, Abdurahman Alamoudi, and Tom Delay, political sharks Karl Rove and Ralph Reed, and presidential contenders Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, to name a few.  The more you know about Norquist, the more you should genuinely fear for the future of this nation if he or anyone he’s done business with takes control of the majority of governmental power.

Norquist, a Harvard business school grad student, came up through the Republican ranks with K-Street criminal Jack Abramoff and moral-exploiter Ralph Reed.  They were acolytes at the altar of their false god, Ronald Reagan, although far more rabid than he. Abramoff, in his book “Capitol Punishment,” biographies his friend Grover Norquist as one very frightening fascist:

“A libertarian who worked within the Republican Party to effect change, Grover was a staunch anti-Communist and knew that the power of the state– whether in the hands of Democrats or Republicans — could be stifling for freedom. He spoke in the vernacular of a revolutionary, and this was very exciting for me. He didn’t refer to political opponents as “liberals” or “Democrats.” He called them “Bolsheviks,” and all of us who hung on his every word followed suit.

“But Grover was more than a brilliant political strategist. He was a role model for us at College Republicans. With his no-holds-barred approach to politics, he exuded the confidence that our side would win the greatest political struggles in history-against the Soviets and the liberals. His fervent passion was contagious.

“…We agreed on most things political, but I was a bit uneasy at first with his desire to reduce the federal government to a size where he could “drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

“Grover was so hostile to the federal state that he did not trust it even with the national defense, which he felt should be outsourced to private companies….

“As Grover’s power and prestige grew in the years to come, those jealous of his success would speculate that his jottings were most likely a list of opponents to be executed once he took power. I was never really sure.”

A native of Weston, Mass. Norquist’s first political campaign was to elect Richard Nixon.  He was 12.  He was both an undergrad and an MBA at Harvard University. He became active in Libertarian politics, then decided that the only way for that extremist political point-of-view to make the mainstream was to co-opt the Republican Party.

Norquist began by helming the National Taxpayers Union, and taking over the training and “education” of guys like Abramoff in the College Republicans.  The two men “left amid complaints of financial mismanagement. Similar criticism followed them to Citizens for America, a conservative group that shut down soon after they left.” [1]

He then went on to found and operate Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, and began the process of locking the Republican Party into his deconstructionist Libertarian world view.

In a recent episode of “60 Minutes” that aired November 20, 2011,  host Steve Kroft said:

“Since creating Americans for Tax Reform at Ronald Reagan’s behest back in 1985, Norquist has been responsible, more than anyone else, for rewriting the dogma of the Republican Party.”

That’s almost too modest.

“What he’s managed to do is to chain the ideological conservatives together with the business guys, who have money, and to put that money to work in the service of the conservative movement,” says Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future, who’s repeatedly clashed with Norquist. “And he picks big issues.” Besides taxes, Norquist is also the go-to guy on virtually all of the right’s favorite agenda items, from privatization of Social Security and Medicare to school vouchers and deregulation. [2]

Norquist helped the Heritage Foundation write the Republican’s 1994 Contract With America. [3] His rise to power came from pulling together a coalition of Libertarian money and extremist Right-wing groups and business groups to help then Representative Newt Gingrich ascend to the position as the first Republican Speaker of the House in more than forty years. [4]  He is a personal friend of Karl Rove, and was a leader in the K-Street Project with now-convicted former congressman Tom Delay that put a price on access to GOP congressmen and set up GOP cronies in K Street lobbying jobs as a quid pro quo.

When Gingrich was forced to step down as Speaker, Norquist survived. He became a useful fellow for Tom DeLay, the House majority whip, and Dick Armey, the majority leader. His connections with Rove and his access to deep pockets gave him great reach into the Bush White House as well.  That, in turn, made his organization and Norquist the gatekeepers of Republican power and money.

Still, he disturbs many other conservatives. He has had his hands dirty in organizations that work with convicted jihadists, the dirty dealings of Mr. Abramoff that landed him in jail, and he has been in the vicinity of influence peddling of an epic scale one time too many.

His Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) is part of the American Leglislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the true shadow government of the United States.

ALEC is a group of far-Right federal and state legislators and corporations who sit side-by-side and develop and test “model” bills that codify into law and regulation the special interests needs and wants.  Many of the union-busting bills finding their way into Midwestern state houses are the work of ALEC.

ATR belongs to the Property Rights Alliance, which opposes reinstitution of the estate tax on the wealthy.   They are part of the misnomered “Alliance for Worker Freedom” which has been instrumental in union busting.

While he has virtually limitless reach into the pockets of the Libertarian extreme right, ATR’s most notable givers, direct and indirect include:

  • Members of the Dead Billionaires Club like Sarah Scaife’s foundations, Club for Growth members and the Kochs.
  • Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation – Another Dead Billionaire, Bradley a founder of the extremist Libertarian John Birch Society, along with the Koch brothers’ father, Fred, set this money rolling in the 1940s.
  • The JM Foundation, began by conservative philanthopist Jeremiah Milbank, who started the foundation to help people with disabilities but the majority of its more recent “good works” has been to the aim of following his beliefs of individual liberty and limited government. “To realize his vision, The JM Foundation Directors support activities that foster self-sufficiency, personal responsibility, and private initiative,” their website states.
  • The John M. Olin Foundation
  • The tobacco industry, including Philip Morris and the Tobacco Institute
  • Big oil companies like Exxon Mobil and more.

Norquist has more lives than a cat.  He has been associated with some of the great political scandals of the last thirty years.  Many of his former close associates now have criminal records, yet he always seems to skate free.  Be it Iran Contra,  the K-Street project, or the pillaging of the system by Jack Abramoff,  Grover was there.

During the 1980s he was part of a support network for Oliver North’s Nicaraguan Contras mission that earned the Colonel three felonies, and other insurgencies, in addition to promoting U.S. support for groups including Mozambique’s RENAMO and Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA in Angola and organizing anti-Soviet forces in Laos. [5]

He amazingly survived his association with Abramoff, in spite of the fact that he and the ATR were a key part of one of the tribal kick-backs to get access to George W. Bush. The New York Times in March of 2006 reported:

“The chief of an Indian tribe represented by the lobbyist Jack Abramoff was admitted to a meeting with President Bush in 2001 days after the tribe paid a prominent conservative lobbying group $25,000 at Mr. Abramoff’s direction, according to documents and interviews.

The payment was made to Americans for Tax Reform, a group run by Grover G. Norquist, one of the Republican Party’s most influential policy strategists. Mr. Norquist was a friend and longtime associate of Mr. Abramoff.”

The tribes ultimately paid far more than that. Again, the Times:

“The tribes gave $1.5 million to Americans for Tax Reform and $250,000 to the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, the group founded by Mr. Norquist and Ms. Norton.” [6]

Norquist is not a registered lobbyist anymore, but, like his friend Newt Gingrich, works the edges of what is legally not lobbying by operating a PAC as an ideologue and peddling influence from there.

His defunct lobbying firm, Janus-Merritt Strategies represented Abdurahman Alamoudi in 2000 or 2001.  Mr. Alamoudi received 23 years in prison for his connection to terrorism in Libya, the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and al-Qaida. [4] Alamoudi spoke at an October 2000 rally in front of the White House in support of Hamas and Hezbollah during the period he was represented by Norquist’s firm, according to Senate lobbying disclosure records.. The “Rally Against Israeli Aggression” was sponsored by Norquist’s Islamic Free Market Institute, according to a September 2000 “Islamic Institute Friday Brief.”[5]

This was not his only tie to radical Islam. Mr. Norquist associated with terror financier Sami Al-Arian, according to the St. Petersburg Times in 2003.  Norquist’s group was tied to many more:

“Among the more than 50 targets of the raid were people and organizations connected to Norquist and the Islamic Institute. They included Sami Al-Arian, a charity associated with Alamoudi, Safa Trust and the International Institute for Islamic Thought, or IIIT.”

Norquist’s charmed life may be coming to a close. The gridlock of Washington D.C. lays squarely at his plump feet. In his intensely successful campaign to destroy the United States government from within, he has been wildly more successful than even the Russians whom he has railed against for so many decades.  He has shaken the nation down to its foundations, and put tectonic cracks into our global financial system.

Even conservatives are starting to question the sanity of Norquist’s line in the sand on raising the income tax slightly of the upper 1% of wage earners.  The illogic of his zealotry is flying in the face of an economy that he helped put in tatters, and a Republican party so paralyzed by their pledge of allegiance to him that they have been unable to produce any meaningful legislation that benefits anyone other than a handful of special interests since before the end of the Bush Administration.

If he and his wealthy patrons of the New Deal busting ultra-Right can bamboozle the electorate into doing their bidding again in 2012, our motto may be “In Grover We Trust” and the gurgling sound you will hear is the 233 year old nation’s final death throes in the bathtub.

The one person who really can do in Grover Norquist is Grover Norquist. The young man who knew that the power of the state whether in the hands of Democrats or Republicans could be stifling for freedom, is now stifling freedom.

Perhaps he will heed the advice of his younger self and return to the swamp from which he slunk out.  If not, and we the people let him fool us again, the Republic is dead.

Long live the corporatocratic anarchy of Grover Norquist.

My shiny two.

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About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian and short filmmaker who blogs for Truth2Power, the Huffington Post, and the Daily KOS, among others.

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