Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Could Sen. Linc Chafee's vote on Alito -- for or against -- sink his reelection chances next year? Interesting speculation on this question from Chris Cillizza over at his Post blog.

How the movie Jack Abramoff made while he was 'out of politics' was funded by the apartheid-era South African military. That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

Recently I posted about the RICO suit that the DCCC filed against Tom DeLay and his Money Machine back in 2000.

As I noted, though the suit was met by a general tone of bemused derision at the time, the suit addressed many of the key fact patterns and bad acts that are now going to send a lot of these guys (probably, though not certainly, including DeLay himself) to jail. So what ever happened to the suit? Bob Bauer, who the lead counsel for the DCCC who actually filed the thing, addresses that question in a new post.

Wow. I had just about reconciled myself to the idea that there might be a silver lining to a strong second place showing for Hamas in yesterday's Palestinian legislative elections -- a showing sufficiently strong that it would force Hamas' inclusion as a junior partner in the next government, which seemed the likely result when I went to bed last night.

Don't get me wrong: of course, it's a disaster on like ten different levels.

But political participation can force a hard form of accountability. If there is a major constituency for Hamas in the territories -- which certainly there is -- perhaps to have them in the government, on the line for dealing with nuts and bolts problems of administration, on the line for delivering a better life for the Palestinians as opposed to just peddling the heroin of violence, has some advantages over having them on the outside as a paramilitary force with a de facto veto over whatever the Fatah-based government chooses to do.

Yes, yes, there's a lot of grasping for straws here. But as long as the structures of democratic government remain secure and intact -- a big 'if' -- participation in government tends to force a measure of pragmatism and accomodation.

Yet, as you've probably already seen, the news this morning is that Hamas has apparently scored a clear victory in yesterday's elections.

Where does that leave things? I'll be waiting eagerly to hear and read from others who follow the inner dynamics of these matters more closely and understand them better than I do. But it is hard for me to see how this doesn't increase the sense and likelihood of the sort of unilateralism that Sharon pushed for the last two years but then seemed on the point of abandoning.

Like a crazy love affair, it's bigger than the both of them -- not the 'peace process' but the reality of a two state solution. This just changes the path, though the path can get awfully crooked.

Hmmm. Can't say that's an angle that would have occurred to me. This off New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams' column today ...

Jack Abramoff's partner Mike Scanlon admitted to digging up former Congressman Robert Livingston's private life. Set to become speaker, Livingston then got sidelined for Tom DeLay's man Denis Hastert. Prosecutors now checking if Abramoff and Scanlon took Livingston down at DeLay's behest.

For now I'll stick with 'hmmm'. But I'm eager to hear more.

Okay, let the Bush Medicare Drug Bill Debacle blogging begin. We've got a new team of five Medicare Drug Bill bloggers ready to go over at TPMCafe's new Drug Bill Debacle Blog. And the first two posts are up -- one from Kate Steadman and the second from Ezra Klein, who'll be leading up our effort. Go check it out, comment, tell us what you think.

Soon we'll be adding a special comments email address where you can send in your stories, experiences with the program, etc.

Paul flagged this today in the Daily Muck. But in case you're not reading the best daily run-down of corruption news on the web (yeah, if we don't say so ourselves), check out Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) new counter-attack ad on the Abramoff business.

Just go to his campaign website: it starts rolling the second you land on the page.

Burns' best line from the spot: you can't trust the attack ads showing Burns' multitudinous connections to Jack Abramoff because they're paid for by people who got money from Abramoff's clients. Abramoff, Burns reminds us, is "the guy who ripped off his Indian clients for millions and lied to anybody and everybody."

(Above, Burns zaps Democratic attack ad with TV remote control gizmo.)

Burns: So, you can't believe the ads that document my connections to Jack Abramoff because they're funded by people who got money from Abramoff's clients. And Abramoff's a lying rat bastard. So I'm in the clear.

Heads up: Today at 1 PM WaPo online is going to hold a virtual panel discussion with a group of prominent bloggers about 'Ethics & Interactivity', i.e., just what happened with the whole ombudsman Howell thing.

Bring soap in case you need to wash your mouth out.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) may have an Abramoff problem and Sen. Burns (R-MT) may just kick your butt if you mention his. That and more news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

Here's something that caught my attention.

Mitch Wade, then-owner of MZM, Inc., was one of the key bribers in the Duke Cunningham scandal. Some time ago, a source close to the case, informed me that Wade began cooperating with investigators at an early point in the investigation.

Now, aside from the various criminal activity, what stood out about Wade was how focused his political giving was. The great majority of MZM and Wade money went to three politicians -- Duke Cunningham (R-CA), Katherine Harris (R-FL) and Virgil Goode (R-VA).

The reasons for lathering up Duke speak for themselves. With Harris and Goode, Wade was angling for federal contracts for work located in their districts.

Point being, Wade didn't spread the money around too widely. It was all focused and directly tied to specific business concerns.

That why I was surprised to see that he had given rather generously to DC At-Large Councilmember David Catania. In 2002, Wade gave Catania's reelection campaign two checks for $1000 each. His wife, Christianne, gave another check for $1000. MZM PAC chipped in another $1000. And there was one more $1000 check in 2002. That was from the Eagle Group, MZM's 527 committee (See Roll Call, July 13, 2005). In its history, Eagle Group contributed to only two candidates -- Duke Cunningham ($5000) and David Catania ($1000).

Now, as you'll remember, Mitch Wade set up all sorts of business and charitable entities of uncertain legitimacy. Yet another was the Sure Foundation. It was run from the MZM offices. Wade's wife was the President; Mitch was the Treasurer. Duke's wife and daughter were on the advisory board. So, sort of all in the family, you might say.

Then I noticed this article from April 17th, 2005 in the Washington Post, not long before the Duke story broke. It's about how Catania helped put Effi Barry (former wife of DC Councilmember and ex-mayor Marion Barry) together with Mitch Wade for a $10,000 a month job working for the Sure Foundation.

We pick up the story in the Post ...

Effi Barry was about to pack her bags to move to South Carolina for a college teaching position last fall, when D.C. Council member David A. Catania called.

"He asked me: 'What are you doing? We don't want you to leave the city. I know an organization. . . . Why don't you give them a call?' " Barry said, recounting the conversation.

That encounter between Catania (I-At Large) and the former wife of council member and ex-mayor Marion Barry led to a consulting contract that persuaded her to remain in the District.

Catania said he had immediately thought of Effi Barry when a friend, Mitchell J. Wade, mentioned that his nonprofit wanted to make inroads in the District's poverty-stricken communities. Catania told Wade, a board member of the Sure Foundation, of Effi Barry's ties to the city and knowledge of communities east of the Anacostia River where some of the poorest children reside.

Did Catania reach out to help Effi Barry curry favor with newly elected council member Barry?

Catania said there was no underlying motive. In fact, he said, he already has "a very cordial relationship" with Marion Barry (D-Ward 8).

Council member Barry said Catania casually mentioned that he had helped Effi Barry with a job, after the fact.

"He didn't ask me to do anything," Barry said. "I don't do stuff like that. It would take more than helping my former wife out to get me to build an alliance. . . . I'm not for sale."

The consulting work was a good match, period, Catania said. Effi Barry, Wade and officials from the foundation agree.

"Some jobs are manufactured, and this one was not," Catania said. "I knew Sure was looking and Effi was looking, too. I just helped them make a nice fit."

Catania, Marion Barry, Mitch Wade? Your guess is as good as mine. And I haven't a clue. Needless to say, nothing I've been able to find demonstrates any unethical, let along illegal, behavior on Catania's part. But Catania does seem to have had some clear association with Wade. And given Wade's now-demonstrated track record of slammericious activities and a slammericious future, I'm curious what the association was.