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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

On Friday we noted that surreal headline about Harry Whittington apologizing to the vice president and his family for the anguish they had endured in the week since the vice president shot him in the face.

Now, put a benign gloss on that 'apology' and figure Whittington meant what he said only in the sense that he wished Cheney hadn't had to go through the media wringer for something that wasn't due to his recklessness or bad faith, etc. -- his fault perhaps, but something that happens in the course of an inherently dangerous activity.

But as we go from the mastication of the shooting event itself to the meta story about Dick Cheney's dark and dangerous shadow presidency, let's not let one salient fact disappear down the memory hole.

Even if Dick Cheney is blameless in this matter in any deep moral sense, let's not forget that his immediate reaction was to send out his surrogates to publicly blame what happened on the victim.

Actually, that may afford him too much credit since it wasn't actually his 'immediate' reaction. It was his considered reaction after the 24 hour cooling off period he gave himself between the shooting and when he chose to make it public.

By my count, he continued to have his public surrogates blame Whittington for fully three days. He only relented and took responsibility himself when the public and no doubt private political clamor became too much to sustain.

That's Dick Cheney.

"Having admitted unparalleled corruption, defendant Randall H. Cunningham now comes before the Court to be sentenced for his stunning betrayal of the public trust."

That's the first sentence of the 35 page sentencing memorandum federal prosecutors presented to U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns in the Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham case. They want Duke to serve the max -- 10 years in prison.

It's the most detailed and eye-popping recounting of Cunningham's various bad acts, bribes and shenanigans yet.

And we just posted the whole thing at the TPM Document Collection.

A few highlights, for lack of a better word ...

Page 6, item b. Duke's staffer catches Duke buying a Suburban at under market value from Mitchell Wade. Duke tells staffer to "Stay the f--- out of my personal business." "In an attempt to right, and conceal, this obviously corrupt transaction" Duke's staffers falisfy his DMV application and try to get him to pay up to make up the difference. Duke passes on the opportunity.

Page 9, item i. We learn about the roots of the GOP contempt for the capital gains tax. Duke asks for special bribe earmarked for payment of capital gains taxes on sale of house.

Page 12, item a. Duke shares ride back from the antique store bribery junket with Mitchell Wade, expresses "his appreciation for [Wade's] willingness to bribe him" and tells Wade he'll make him "somebody".

Page 15, item e. Duke demands that Mitchell Wade buy him a used Rolls Royce. Duke then has Wade pay thousands to restore the car. Duke then engineers bogus paper 'sale' of the car to Wade to pocket still more money. Cunningham retains ownership of car.

Page 16, item f. Duke arranges to purchase the yacht 'Buoy Toy' from gay couple with his "business partner" Mitchell Wade. Duke then renames boat the 'Duke Stir'. When explaining his reasons for changing the yacht's name, Duke quips, "I bought the boat, not the lifestyle."

Page 19. Unnamed Duke staffer confronts Duke over millions of dollars in bribes he has accepted, asks Duke to either resign or not seek reelection. Duke thinks it over, decides he'll stay in Congress. Staffer resigns.

Page 20, item a, following. Duke embarks on reign of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

Remember Duke Cunningham?

He was crooked before crooked was cool. Way back into last summer.

The prosecutors came out with their sentencing request today. And apparently Duke's cooperation didn't wring any further reductions from his recommended sentence.

Prosecutors asked U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns to give Cunningham the maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars, a sentence Cunningham's attorney Lee Blalack called "grossly excessive."

Speaking of gross, Cunningham has not lost the power to amaze. In court documents filed by prosecutors comes this, as described by Seth Hettena of the AP ...

The prosecution's sentencing memorandum included a copy of a “bribe menu” written under the Congressional seal on Cunningham's office stationary. One column of figures represented the millions of dollars in contracts that could be “ordered” from Cunningham, according to prosecutors. The right column showed the amount of bribes Cunningham demanded in return.

According to the sentencing memorandum, Cunningham offered co-conspirator No. 2 – identified elsewhere as defense contractor Mitchell Wade – $16 million in contracts in exchange for a $140,000 bribe, which came in the form a 42-foot yacht, the Duke-Stir.


Takes your breath away, don't it? We'll have more soon.

Let's put this headline in amber and pack it into the time capsule. Let folks know what it was like.



Sic Transit.

Roll Call (sub.req.): "The Department of Justice has instructed the Senate Ethics Committee to steer clear of any investigations into actions involving ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, warning the panel it has “concerns” that any such probes could interfere with its long-running investigation."

Harry Whittington released from hospital in Corpus Christi.

Says Whittington: "My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this week."

Senator Specter won't be outdone by Sen. Santorum in ethics shenanigans. That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

Wow, that doesn't sound too smart.

Readers of this site know there's always been some pretty telling circumstantial evidence that Jack Abramoff's business partner Adam Kidan had a role in the mob-style execution of their estranged SunCruz business partner Gus Boulis.

Two of three eventually arrested for the murder, each known mafiosos, were on the SunCruz payroll at the time of the Boulis killing, both for work like 'catering' and 'security' they don't seem to have done.

In any case, the apparent leader of the three, the one Kidan paid most of the money to, was Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello.

Back in September, Big Tony was arrested at his home in Howard Beach, New York and later transferred down to Florida where he is now awaiting trial for Boulis' murder. During that time, beside visits from family and attorneys, Big Tony received only one visit.

Who? Right. Adam Kidan.

Kidan wouldn't comment when called by the Sun-Sentinel. His attorney, Joseph Conway told the paper that the meeting was "personal".

On observation of no particular political import, but interesting nonetheless. From TPM Reader DW ...

Here's a painfully obvious observation. Untold millions of tax dollars are spent on secret service agents and what-not, and the veep is prancing around the wilds with a bunch of other men of a certain age, all carrying GUNS? Let's assume that there isn't anything particularly different about Mr. Cheney that would cause him to make this kind of mistake, which then means that any of his hunting buddies could have been the one to go oops, and he could have been on the business end of the fire-stick. Boom! What were they thinking?


Makes ya think.

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