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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

That is an unfortunate number for Mr. DeLay. According to Gallup, his reelect number in his own district -- Texas 22nd -- is down to 36%.

49% says they're more likely to vote for the Democratic challenger.

52% of DeLay's constituents have an 'unfavorable' impression of him.

Those numbers aren't insurmountable for a pol more than willing to go thermonuclear on anyone who runs against him. But they ain't good. Not good at all.

Does the Duke Cunningham opera buffa have a tie to the CIA?

I'm not quite sure what to make of this. But let's run through it.

As you know, co-conspirator #1 in the Duke case is Mr. Brent Wilkes of San Diego. Wilkes is commonly referred to as a 'defense contractor'. His real line of work, though, seems a bit different. Wilkes' specialized in finding companies or products for which the DoD had little or no use and then lathering up a few members of Congress so they'd force the Pentagon to buy his junk.

Wilkes even rented a share of a private jet pretty much for the sole purpose of flying Duke and Tom DeLay and a few other Reps. around the country.

Good work if you can get it; and Wilkes got a lot of it.

But this piece in yesterday's San Diego Union-Tribune -- not exactly a liberal paper, though they contributed as much as any media outlet to Duke's undoing -- notes that Wilkes, who seems to be an inveterate schemer is the long-time, close personal friend of a guy named Kyle Dustin "Dusty" Foggo. And he turns out to be the number three man today at the CIA, specifically, the Agency's Executive Director.

When former Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL) became CIA Director last year he promoted a bunch of new people. And Foggo was one of them.

In an article from a year ago Walter Pincus (in which Foggo is referred to only by his nickname because he had not yet gone 'public') wrote that ...

Three retired officials noted that Dusty had maintained a close relationship in recent years with several Republican staff members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence whom Goss, the panel's former chairman, has brought to the agency as his top assistants.

Dusty is also a critic of a controversial new pay-for-performance compensation reform plan that was put together by A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, who served as executive director under former CIA director George J. Tenet.


Now, I know we're juggling serveral balls here. But, remember, House Intel is a committee Duke sits on and it's where Duke got a lot of the juice that made him so valuable to the defense/intel contractors like Wilkes and Mitch Wade that owned him.

So, you know, small world.

But then I saw this piece in Government Executive magazine by meddlesome investigative reporter (and I mean that in the best Scooby Doo sense of the word) Jason Vest, which begins ...

Federal investigators in San Diego have made it clear that while just-resigned Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pled guilty last week to taking bribes from defense contractors, their public corruption probe will not stop at Cunningham. Numerous current and retired CIA officials say they will not be surprised if the investigation touches the CIA in general, and its third-ranking official in particular.


Vest says that Foggo is also tight with Duke's other pal, Mitchell Wade.

This may bear watching.

Late Update: Turns out Laura Rozen was on to the Wilkes-Foggo connection last week. See her post here.

Just to give a bit of context to the DeLay news below, quite a lot depends on how soon he can get his trial scheduled. To save his career, DeLay doesn't just need to beat this charge, he has to beat it quickly -- almost certainly by the end of next month or very soon after.

That's because in January there are probably going to be leadership elections in the House GOP caucus forced ahead by rebels who want to close the book on the DeLay era.

For the moment, Rep. Blunt (R-MO) is basically keeping the Majority Leader's seat warm for DeLay. If DeLay could get cleared and back in charge quickly he could possibly hold on. If it goes past a certain point, though, he's damaged goods and he'd unable to win back his post even if he were cleared of all charges later in the year.

So can DeLay get to trial anywhere near that quickly?

It's hard for me to see how. The clearest indication I could find was in the Houston Chronicle which said today that the judge in the case "told DeLay's lawyers last month that if he upheld either of the indictments, he would be unable to hold a trial for DeLay before early next year."

That sounds to me like a pretty tight squeeze. And I suspect it means that DeLay is finished. A small symbolic victory in getting the one indictment tossed. But not enough to survive.

Split decision for DeLay -- Judge throws out conspiracy charge, but tells the BugMan he must stand trial for money-laundering.

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Reader TF for keeping us posted.)

If you unwrap the Duke Cunningham story and peel back how each of the different players came together, a lot of it comes down to one guy: San Diego defense contractor Brent Wilkes (aka co-conspirator #1). Today the San Diego Union-Tribune has a profile of him, his long history with Duke and fellow San Diego Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA).

Money talks; wireless screams.

From the Post ...

Hours after New Orleans officials announced Tuesday that they would deploy a city-owned, wireless Internet network in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, regional phone giant BellSouth Corp. withdrew an offer to donate one of its damaged buildings that would have housed new police headquarters, city officials said yesterday.

According to the officials, the head of BellSouth's Louisiana operations, Bill Oliver, angrily rescinded the offer of the building in a conversation with New Orleans homeland security director Terry Ebbert, who oversees the roughly 1,650-member police force.

City officials said BellSouth was upset about the plan to bring high-speed Internet access for free to homes and businesses to help stimulate resettlement and relocation to the devastated city. Around the country, large telephone companies have aggressively lobbied against localities launching their own Internet networks, arguing that they amount to taxpayer-funded competition. Some states have laws prohibiting them.


Monopolies of the New Gilded Age.

If majority US public opinion still clusters around the political center, why have US politics moved so hard to the right? That's the subject we're discussing this week at TPMCafe Book Club as we discuss Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson. Also joining us for the discussion will be Mark Schmitt, Ruy Teixeira, and Matt Yglesias.

Fearless Leader Watch.

From Bloomberg via TaxProf ...

President George W. Bush will delay a major push for revamping the tax code because administration officials concluded the changes are too tough to sell to the public and lawmakers, two people familiar with the matter said.

Bush instead will spend next year attempting to lay the political groundwork for fundamental changes in 2007 or 2008, the people said, and leave to Congress the task of tackling incremental tax code simplification in 2006, an election year.

The administration is wary of seeing its push to overhaul the tax system fall prey to the same factors that derailed Bush's attempt to restructure the Social Security system this year to include private investment accounts ...


What is the president's agenda these days exactly?

Government transparency. What a concept.

A key slice out of a piece in tomorrow's Times ...

These candid exchanges are just a few of the glimpses inside Louisiana's highest leadership that emerged late Friday in an extraordinary release of about 100,000 pages of state documents detailing the response to Hurricane Katrina by Ms. Blanco and her staff. The state compiled the documents - including e-mail messages, hand-written notes, correspondence with the White House, and thousands of offers of assistance and desperate pleas for help - at the request of two Congressional committees looking into the state's preparedness and response.

"As we move forward, I believe the public deserves a full accounting of the response at all levels of government to the largest natural disaster in U.S. history," Ms. Blanco said in a statement about the release of the documents.

...

She said the documents demonstrated "hard-working, sleep-deprived public servants operating under enormous pressure and rapidly changing circumstances." They also show that as Hurricane Katrina approached and inundated New Orleans, Ms. Blanco's top aides realized how quickly it was becoming both a human and a political nightmare.

"This is absolutely the worst-case situation we have long feared," Andy Kopplin, the governor's chief of staff, wrote in an e-mail message to the Blanco administration's top aides the day before the storm hit New Orleans. "Pray for Louisiana citizens as this storm nears."

The correspondence released on Friday apparently received almost no editing, other than the blacking out of certain names and telephone numbers for people not associated with the state government. It includes handwritten notes, audio recordings of conference calls and even a few doodles on legal pads.


Is anything like this even remotely imaginable at the federal level today?

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