10 thoughts on “Becoming Abramoff: Orthodox Jewish Maximalist and Campus Young Republican Fanatic – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Yikes. All I have to say is, the New Testament has a word for people like Jack Abramoff…”Pharisee.” And in the New Testament, that’s hardly a compliment.

  2. As one of Bob Ney’s constituents, I find the tid-bit about Abramoff and Ney’s brother fascinating. I have no delusions that Ney’s affable “Mayor of the Hill” facade is anything other than just that, but couldn’t help but wonder how a congressman from Ohio River coal country linked up with the movers and shakers of K Street, international arms dealers and all the rest.

  3. Found my way here via Bagnewsnotes.

    Of all the mysteries regarding who knows who and how and why about this case, the central enigma has got to be, who the hell is Jack Abramoff? He probably is to himself. I hope that when he gets to prison and has some time to reflect he opens up and really talks about his life – because I think there is a story about the relationship of the “emptiness” of the american suburban sitcom culture (of which Beverly Hills is the epicenter) and the cynical corruption in Washington (both are extremely mean-spirited). No real beauty in one place and no respect for life in the other. Or is it the other way around. Oh well. If the story about the lost little 12 year old boy is at all true (and not some apocryphal hollywood bs he told about himself – well, on 2nd thought, maybe the point that he told it is the point), then hopefully this story can reveal something about (ahem) “values” which are taken for granted as a priori truths, and seem, somehow, to crystalize into an enantiodromia between rampant materialism and religious extremism a la Jack. My theory is that the reason so many poor struggling people keep voting people like DeLay and Bush and Reagan and so on into office is that there is a part of them who wants to somehow get “enough” to play outside the rules that they do. I am thinking about that great line in Syriana about how everyone, even Milton Freidman (who won a Nobel, for crying out loud!), knows that corruption is the engine that makes everything run. All the Nascar Dad wants is a shot at that – he doesn’t want to wake up one day and find out that he has won the lottery and he is expected to play by the rules.

    Anyhow, I hope a thoughtful person gets their hands on this story but I am sure that is unlikely, given Jack’s sleazy track-record.

    Very interesting blog – anyone who likes the Roaches is allright!

  4. JoeBlo: What’ve you been blowin’ lately? The Pharisees WERE Jews so use of the term cannot be anti-Semitic. Keith was merely saying that in his religious tradition they call a money-grubbing, unprincipled person a Pharisee. I see nothing wrong with that. I think you got your hackles up unnecessarily.

  5. I can see why Joe thought it was anti-Semitic since they were the ones who plotted against Jesus, but I wasn’t referring to that aspect. Actually, the key word that came to mind, especially after reading that part about him walking in stocking feet in the midst of summer, was “hypocrisy,” adhering strictly to the letter of the law but completely violating its spirit. In six verses in Matthew 23 Jesus uses “Pharisees” and “hypocrites” in the same sentence. So, what I’m saying, in so many words, is that Jack Abramoff is a hypocrite.

    (And yes, in my mind, there are Christian Pharisees as well. They’re called the Religious Right.)

  6. Below is an excerpt from an email exchange between myself and Jay Rovins. It clarifies the comments on your website about the Spartacists role at the Brandeis ralley and about Vic Ney. It seems that Vic is not related to the congressman.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Jay Rovins
    To: ‘Bruce Ehrlich’
    Sent: Friday, December 23, 2005 12:07 PM
    Subject: Brandeis and Abramoff


    Vic Ney and I see each other frequently. He is on the reunion committee. If Vic is related to Congressman Ney, it is a very distant relationship. The relationship probably ranks low in terms of Jewish geography. Vic has no brother, just an older sister. Vic did not travel in the same social circles as Jack unless you equate that they were both friends of mine at Brandeis.
    I recall the event on campus that you mentioned. If it is the event I’m thinking of, Jack’s group of “neo-cons”, including a weightlifter/student commonly referred to as “Flex”, were crashing an outdoor protest at Usdan held by the Sparticists? I’m not sure if I spelled this correctly. Bullhorns were used to drown out the Sparticist’s “liberal” cries for withdrawal of the Reagan administration’s support for the Contras. After just having gotten my coffee and congo bar downstairs at the Boulevard, I found myself walking right through the middle of this verbal snowball fight. There was my old buddy Jack, spewing stuff as quickly as Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel, not discussing the issues, but talking over them, more loudly than his opponents, as if this is the way to win an argument.


    My response:


    You’re right that the Spartacist Youth League (the SYL) was present at that rally. But it wasn’t their event. It was organized by CISPES, the Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. Joining us at the rally was part of their united front strategy (against capitalism and imperialism), but we were really just opposed to the US intervention. We couldn’t exclude them or denounce them and I’m sure they had a speaker or two there. Its too bad we all got lumped together in some people’s minds … The Brandeis Republicans had their first major show of force and Jack went on to bigger and not-so-better things.


  7. So Vic’s not related to Rep. Robert Ney. And for the record I’m not related to Rep. Robert Ehrlich. Its just a coincidence (or two).

  8. Mr. Silverstein,

    Thank you for your comment. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I may have indeed been too glib with the use of the phrase “Jewish conspiracy.” I was making a head-shaking comment on the fact that the media (and bloggers) have eagerly jumped all over the Jewish angle of this sordid story. Since I’m a Jew (which I reveal in earlier posts) I assumed readers would understand my tongue-in-cheek use of the phrase.

    Perhaps I should have taken more time to explain what I meant but my message in a nutshell was this: criminality is criminality, Jewish or not.

    I appreciate you taking the time to write me.


    The Kollege Daily

  9. I should note that Lindsay at Kollege Daily wrote a short post about Jack Abramoff in which she linked to this post and made a jesting reference to his case being a “Jewish conspiracy.” I thought Lindsay was joking, but frankly wasn’t sure. At the least, I felt more explanation was necessary to readers in order for them to understand what was meant. It’s all too easy for such code words to be misunderstood by people.

    Anyway, Lindsay we’re fully in agreement as to Abramoff and his criminality. But I think there IS an important Jewish angle to the story. That is, anyone can use religion to attempt to either justify their crimes or else to flatter themselves that they are being a good person in the terms of their own religion–and neither is right.

    Thanks Lindsay for being so good-natured about my comment.

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