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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Says cheese, indeed.

Washingtonian is reporting that there are at least five photographs of President Bush and Jack Abramoff hanging out spending quality time. Not grainy, weirdly cropped photos that look like something out of a Kennedy assassination conspiracy book, but real photos of the two friends back in the good old days.

Washingtonian adds: "Sources say the photographs are being kept safe. Abramoff would tell prosecutors, if asked, that not only did he know the President, but the President knew the names of Abramoff’s children and asked about them during their meetings. At one such photo session, Bush discussed the fact that both he and Abramoff were fathers of twins."

Rep. John Boehner wins ... the race for most ex-staffers racking in the bucks on K Street. That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

Interesting.

Kane County, Illinois, the largest county in Speaker Denny Hastert's 14th congressional district, is another local government that can't get its voice heard in our nation's capital.

Last year, County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay, a close Hastert ally, signed up lobbyist David S. Thompson at $138,000 a year plus expenses to lobby the federal government on Kane County's behalf.

Thompson was a "longtime aide" to Denny Hastert. He worked for the speaker from 1993 until heading over to K Street in 2002.

Oh tough to quit the habit, ain't it?

From the Billings Gazette: "With ethics becoming an ever hotter campaign issue, Sen. Conrad Burns on Thursday scrapped plans to hold a fundraiser next week at the headquarters of a major lobbying firm here and instead will hold it at the GOP senatorial campaign headquarters."

Great Moments in Abramoff-Ain't-Such-A-Big-Deal Spin.

Honorable Mention for Ed Rogers, GOP lobbyist, from last night's Hardball (emphasis added): ". Look, this is going to come out. Nobody is going to keep it a secret. Jack Abramoff is so radioactive—I've got Jack Abramoff fatigue already. I mean, good grief, he didn't kill anybody. Maybe that one guy in Florida."

Gotta love that.

In the bizarre AP piece I referenced below there's this surreal passage ...

The Abramoff investigation threatens to ensnare at least a half dozen members of Congress of both parties and Bush administration officials. Abramoff, who has admitted to conspiring to defraud his Indian tribe clients, has pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges and is cooperating with prosecutors.

With the midterm elections 10 months away, Democrats have tried to link Abramoff to Republicans, the main recipients of his largesse.


At least half a dozen members of both parties.

That's quite a line. We're just on the outer edge of this investigation. And I'm certainly not willing to claim or predict that no Democrat, either in or out of Congress, will be taken down.

But to the best of my knowledge no credible claim has been made that any Democrat is even under investigation in the Abramoff scandal, let alone facing potential indictment. At least half a dozen Republicans have been so named in press reports, with varying degrees of specificity. The sentence is a plain statement of misinformation posing as news reportage.

Then comes the next line -- that Democrats are trying to link Abramoff with Republicans. This is like when Republicans tried to link James Carville to Democrats. Link him to Republicans? He's been a professional Republican and major GOP power-player for a quarter-century.

All the factual claims noted here in this article appear to be willful distortions, or statements with omissions so great as to be meant to confuse.

How can the public know what's happening in their government when the reporters of the news seem so bent on misleading them?

Can someone explain this to me?

Sen. Reid's office put out a report entitled "Republican Abuse of Power." It singled out 33 Republican senators for various ethical lapses and transgressions.

Republicans are treating this as some sort of outrage. And they actually got Reid to apologize for it. "The document released by my office yesterday went too far and I want to convey to you my personal regrets."

This AP article that I'm quoting from then includes various tsk-tsking quotes from Republicans like Ken Mehlman criticizing Reid for having the temerity to call the Abramoff scandal a Republican scandal.

What was Reid thinking exactly?

The article suggests without quite saying so that the root of the outrage is that the report went out on Senate letterhead.

Are the Democrats serious about running against the systemic betrayals of the public trust under the current congressional majorities? Or is it all just a joke and just politics? If it's the latter, what is Reid apologizing for? If there is something substantively wrong in the claims made in the document, that's another matter. But the article makes no suggestion of that. The idea simply seems to be that it's poor form.

You apologize if it's just trash talk for public consumption. If it's a serious argument about the degradation of Congress under Republican rule, you don't. The latter would be a difficult argument to make if you don't actually believe it.

Okay, several of you have mentioned this. So, okay, I'll bite.

Below we noted that in a recent speech Michael Brown, ex-FEMA Chief and professional failure, now says that he too is responsible for what a fiasco the response to hurricane Katrina turned out to be.

But in the article, it notes that Brown made these remarks at "a gathering of broadcast and National Weather Service meteorologists at a ski resort in the Sierra Nevada." And as several of you ask, why is this fool addressing a conference of meteorologists?

Well, as we noted back in November, Brown went from getting canned at FEMA to setting up his own disaster preparedness consulting firm. And it seems he's not short of work. A little poking around the web revealed that we're in the midst of Operation Sierra Storm 2006 (Jan. 17-20th), "a cutting-edge meteorological conference and seminar that combines on-going education, newsworthy speakers and topics, networking opportunities, and broadcast options."

This year Michael Brown is the keynote speaker.

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