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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Theoretical physicists sometimes talk about alternative universes. But I think I just found one right here on my website.

You may have noticed that down there toward the bottom of the sidebar we've started running google ads in addition to the regular image ads we've been running for almost two years. Unlike our regular ads, we have no control over what text ads run with google on our site. And, perhaps more importantly, the advertisers don't control where they're appearing either.

It's all run by some algorithm that scans what I write about here and then tries to come up with ads that are in some way related to what I'm discussing.

So here's where we get to our alternative universe.

Now, I know there are a lot of people in this country who not only support President Bush but are deeply committed to him at various levels. But I must say that there's still some dissonance created for me when I see that Fox Bronze Art is now selling a Bronze bust of our 43rd president, mounted on black granite, and measuring 16x10x7 inches, for only $1,995.

And if I'm not mistaken, the casting is meant to represent his heroic moment flying on to the aircraft carrier to announce mission accomplished.

What a heroic moment that was.

I think I may get one for my desk here. Or perhaps one to put with the rest of my household gods.

Like I said, an alternative universe.

Oh that's just great.

You know about the indictment of Jack Abramoff yesterday for his dealing relating to SunCruz, the casino boat operation down in Florida. And you also have heard about how Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio gave speeches on the floor of the House to help Abramoff (and his then-partner and now-fellow indictee) Adam Kidan squeeze Gus Boulis into selling them SunCruz. Boulis is the guy who later got whacked in the gangland hit after everything went sour.

But I at least didn't know that Abramoff was apparently trying to expand the SunCruz operation to Saipan, the US Pacific Island protectorate where he was best known for protecting owners of sweatshops from congressional efforts to clamp down on their system of indentured servitude.

This article from The Saipan Tribune spells out the details, the exciting news that laborers in Saipan would get jobs on the casino boats (one of which was supposed to be "deployed" by August 2001) and the even more exciting news that SunCruz would "create job opportunities for local workers who may also ask to be transferred to other company-operated floating casinos in the mainland US, Asia or the Carribbean."

I think the Brits had a system like that, didn't they?

Anyway, take a look.

(ed.note: Props to TPM Reader RS for the catch.)

Another thought on the Abramoff story.

People tend to think of this story as the DeLay crew finally getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar. And some of the immediate causes of Jack Abramoff's troubles were some Indian elections that went bad for him. But there's another part to this story that will be important to keep an eye on.

There are many theories about who's leaking on who in generating all these revelations about Abramoff and his associates. But it's clear that a big factor in all of this -- a big factor in generating a lot of these stories -- is a division between different groups of ex-DeLay aides -- particularly, the one surrounding Abramoff (the one that has everyone rushing for the exits, if they can find an open door) and that around Ed Buckham.

With Jack Abramoff under indictment, a number of readers have suggested that now he might flip and try to offer the feds some figures higher up the food-chain. (Remember, this indictment is not from the DC-based grand jury we've mainly been hearing about; it's a separate grand jury in Florida, tied to alleged fraud in the purchase of a casino boat line. Jack really gets around.)

But I hear it's a bit different. I hear Abramoff has already tried to do that, and been rebuffed. And this gets us into questions I think we'll be talking about a lot.

Why would he be rebuffed?

Decisions like that go right to the top. And since Abramoff's shenanigans are closely tied -- to be generous -- not just to members of Congress (DeLay, Ney, Burns, et al.) but to key GOP power players (Norquist, Reed, et al.) and quite probably Karl Rove himself, you can see why he (i.e., Abramoff) might have a harder time than your usual perp cutting a deal to implicate those above him.

That DC grand jury investigation of Abramoff can't go on forever. Eventually the lawyers at the Public Integrity Section will go to their bosses with some decisions about just who they want to indict. That's when Al Gonzales will have to show his cards.

That's an interesting approach.

Charles Alfred Dreyling Jr., 24, was caught Wednesday trying to Delta Airlines jet bound for Attanta with a pipe bomb in his luggage. It was equipped so that it could be detonated with his cell phone.

When asked, Dreyling told investigators that he had made the bomb, but that it was for recreational purposes (blowing them up with friends in rural Oklahoma) and that he had forgotten that it was in his suitcase.

We all know how powerful the web can be for raising political money. Well, if you're game, the Duke Cunningham Legal Defense Fund is apparently ready to accept your donation.

Only yesterday, when I was reporting on Jack Abramoff's part ownership of now-bankrupt SunCruz -- a casino boat operation down in Florida -- I was told there was a decent chance Abramoff would get indicted for fraud some time soon in that case too. And mind you, this is a different case, a different grand jury, than the one looking into his other shenanigans in DC and elsewhere.

And sure enough, the AP just moved a story saying that Abramoff will be indicted later today.

For those of you keeping score, this is the casino boat company in which one of Abramoff's co-owners was later whacked in a gangland style hit after the things started to go South.

And yes, there's also a Conrad Burns connection. SunCruz was the company Abramoff used to bring Burns' staffers to the Super Bowl back in 2001.

A TPM Reader (who's a lawyer) asked whether it might not be the case that the RNC is paying Jim Tobin's legal bills in the New Hampshire phone-jamming case because they are under some legal or contractual obligation to do so.

Now, as I wrote earlier, it seems to me that the demonstrable evidence of Tobin's guilt, would absolve them of such an obligation. And, just to be clear, Tobin's defense doesn't seem to rest on his being innocent of the deeds in questions but rather on claims that no laws cover what he did or that he has immunity from prosecution. I'd be curious to hear from other lawyers with experience in this area what they think.

But the thing is, Tobin's legal bills -- $700,000 and counting -- are being paid by the Republican National Committee. And he wasn't working for the Republican National Committee. He was working for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. These are two different organizations. They may have a common interest in Tobin's silence. But I cannot see why the RNC has any obligation, legal or ethical, to foot the bill for Tobin's defense.

Kathleen Sullivan, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic party, speaks out about the latest on 2002 phone-jamming scandal and asks why the RNC is paying the ringleader's legal bills.

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