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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

That's original. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) says Democrats are responsible for all those reports saying he's in trouble in the Abramoff investigation.

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is our guest this week at TPMCafe's Table for One. And he's just done his second post this morning. Drop by and take a look.

One point I wanted to mention regarding Rep. Brown's visit. There's an active primary race between Rep. Brown and Paul Hackett for the Democratic nomination to square off against Sen. Mike DeWine this November.

We're not taking sides. A month or so back, after we scheduled Rep. Brown, I contacted the Hackett campaign, explained to them that Rep. Brown would be joining us and that we wanted to allow our readers to hear from both campaigns since we thought interest would be high. We had a good conversation. They expressed interest. And, while nothing was scheduled, I think there's a good chance we'll be scheduling a visit from Hackett at some point as the year unfolds.

In any case, point being, for those of you who are Hackett-backers, rest assured our invitation is out to both candidates. And we hope to get both of them in for a Table for One.

With all that aside, go check out Brown's new post. It's a good one.

From corrupt lobbying to knee surgery to Torah scholarship, all in a days work for Jack Abramoff. That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

When you want to clean up the neighborhood, there's generally very little you can accomplish until you get the actual criminals off the streets. Once that's done, you can knock down the abandoned buildings, reseed the park, refound the neighborhood watch organization, whatever.

But the true, immediate and overriding problem with a crime-infested neighborhood is the criminals.

Congress, and thus the country, faces a similar predicament.

The talk of the day now in DC is 'lobbying reform', which Mark Schmitt aptly pillories over at TPMCafe. We may need new laws to curb the power moneyed interests now have over policy-making. In fact, I think we do.

But that's not the problem in Washington. The problem is a network of criminal activity stretching from the House of Representatives (and, to a lesser degree, the Senate) to K Street and then into the Executive Branch -- a network of bribery, money-laundering and fraud all aimed at selling public policy and official actions not in exchange for political contributions but money rewards to members of Congress, administration officials and their families.

It's not an abstract problem or a merely a few politicians lining their pockets or high-speed log-rolling. As Schmitt puts it, it's a betrayal-of-public-trust, a group of high-ranking politicians who've committed crimes against their constituents and a Republican establishment that wasn't against it then and can't bring itself to turn the folks in even now.

To date, the president hasn't even pledged to cooperate with the investigation, despite the fact that one member of his administration is already under indictment, another is under active investigation and another member of the White House staff was a principal participant in many of the scams about which Jack Abramoff has now agreed to testify.

Pretty much the same applies to Denny Hastert.

In Congress, these aren't backbenchers. It's the former Majority Leader, several of his key allies, at least one committee chairman, probably two or three more, and various officials in the executive branch.

Consider that now the two key lobbying outfits of Tom DeLay's Washington have both been engulfed and destroyed -- first, of course, Jack Abramoff's operation at Greenberg-Traurig, and just today, Alexander Strategies Group, which will shut down at the end of the month.

ASG and Abramoff weren't corrupt because of lax lobbying laws. And they didn't corrupt Tom DeLay. DeLay is the one, in truest sense, who set them both up.

This is a scandal of the people running the show.

And as long as we're discussing it, does anyone notice that every corruption case we're now talking about -- Abramoff, Cunningham, and pretty much all the rest -- either started or shifted into high gear right about the time that George Bush was elected?

Think about it.

Since Ariel Sharon was felled by a massive brain hemorrhage there have been a number of press reports that the blood thinners he had been prescribed were probably unnecessary as treatment for his first, minor, stroke, but probably precipitated the second and far more devastating event.

Now there seems to be more evidence pointing to this conclusion.

According to this new article in Ha'aretz, doctors have now ascertained that Sharon was suffering from a disease called cerebral amyloid angiopathy, a disease of the blood vessels of the brain. According to the article, had doctors made the correct diagnosis during Sharon's initial hospitalization, they almost certainly would have refrained from prescribing blood thinners.

The story is based on the account of an unnamed doctor who has apparently been involved in Sharon's treatment. He describes the failure as a "screw up". Other information in the article suggests the condition is difficult to diagnose.

I'm looking at a list of who was on President Bush's 2000-2001 Department of Interior transition team. It's not just Jack Abramoff who's on the list. Deputy Secretary of the Interior James Steven Griles is on there too. He's also apparently a target of the Abramoff investigation. And there's David Safavian on the list. He was the first guy indicted in the Abramoff scandal, the top procurement official at the Office of Management and Budget until a couple of days before he was arrested at his home in Alexandria, Virginia.

It must have been quite a party.

If you're someone with so much evil in your heart that you'd like seeing Ralph Reed just momentarily letting the cat out of the bag in a private email to Jack Abramoff, well ... you'll want to see this.

Just one of those little jokes that says a lot.

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