Overall an incredibly informative book. I think it can be quite dense at times, and all of the names can be hard to remember and relate to their positions in government. Follows the life of Gerald Cassidy, lobbyist, but interestingly weaves in much about the history of lobbying in general as well. I thought the second half of the book was put together very well and was a much easier read. There was a lot of great information about the dynamics at play in the government from the late 80’s to the early 2000’s that I was not aware of that I learned.
So Damn Much Money tells us what all Americans really need to know, and also what we presumed would be always unknown (because it takes place behind closed doors in greatest secrecy). Exactly what does a representative lobbying firm do? How does it do it? With enormous skill, Kaiser managed to unlock this information in a detailed biography of one of Washington's largest lobbying firms. Like the best novels, it also gives a convincing psychological picture of its leading protagonist, Gerry Cassidy, who was the president of the firm. At the same time, So Damn Much Money weaves its story into the changing context of Washington politics, thus giving us a political history of the US from the 1960s onwards. It is a truly fabulous book.
The author reviews the history of earmarks and lobbying with emphasis on one man and one firm. It is a disgustingly comprihempsive recounting of the way things are really run at the Congressional level and it names names. Very few of the actors comes off without lots of mud sticking to them. One of the few to come across as a decent, honest guy is Leon Panetta.
Fascinating history of the rise of the group that became the most prominent and prodigious earner of "earmarks" in the Appropriations process. Starting with a university clientele, their success and notoriety gains them entree to other sectors, and before long they are "the Kings of Pork." A tour de force featuring most of the major players in DC over the last 40 years as the political process descends into the money dominated slimey environment that exists today. If you want to know what happened, you need just read this book.
Sobering, frightening recap of how money is corroding our government. Now we need some practical solution. Term limits? Public funding of elections over shorter time frames? More limits on the revolving door? Stronger, more clear ethical standards? This is problem we need to address.
I have read several books on the corruption in Washington. This was the first and it may be the best. Kaiser's writing style is enjoyable to read, even if his subject matter is not. Kaiser's perspective is that of a journalist who has been in DC for decades and has witnessed the corrosion of our representative form of government. Kaiser names names and gives specifics. It is a very important book.
So Damn Much Money is the best book ever written about how Washington really works. The careful research and laser perfect writing could change American if enough voters read it. An Amazing book. I have ordered a dozen and expect to order more.[[ASIN:0307266540 So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government.
The author opens his work creating the impression that Abramoff et al. stole or defrauded the Louisiana Tribes out of millions and the tribes got nothing in return. As an insider, the author could have told the real story. The corrupt and venal tribal governments paid $46 million dollars in exchange for the blocking by Congress and the BIA of a gaming licence for the Jena Choctaws. The Tribes saved $350,000,000 ($350 million a year) since then because the Jena Choctaws, a federally recognized tribe with sovereign land, could not build a casino on the Louisiana side of the Texas border where the tribe would intercept traffic worth $350,000,000 per year to the Jena Band. Thus the $46 million investment returned over billions of dollars to the tribal clients of the lobbyists...a marvelous investment. To this day, Governor Jindal (a tribal hater) and Hayley Barbour next door will block a gaming compact for the tribal victims of this reciprocal corruption. Barbour, incidentally was head of the American Gaming Association (Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other non-Indian Gaming Empires. The AGA spent a fortune trying to halt Indian Tribal Gaming. To this day, the Jena Band struggles in spite of the fact that they meet all Federal requirements to get a gaming license, a sovereign right. With large Gaming Tribes being some of Obama's largest contributor, it is unlikely that a fully qualified Triabl Nation will get what is theirs by right.