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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

A bit more than tax code violations ...

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday morning to conspiring to take bribes in exchange for using his influence to help a defense contractor get business.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of income tax evasion.

U.S. District Larry A. Burns scheduled Cunninghman's sentencing for Feb. 27.


The rest here from the Union-Tribune.

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham to plead guilty to tax code violations, says the AP. The local paper, the Union-Tribune, says that he'll plead guilty to "criminal charges." "It's over. I can't fight anymore," Cunningham tells supporters.

I guess tax code violations can mean many things. But there were several instances of seemingly clear-cut influence-peddling and/or bribery in the Duke cas. It will be interesting to see how those are disposed of in this plea agreement.

And where does this leave Duke's fat cats Mitchell Wade and Brent Wilkes.

Off the AP wire ...

A military vehicle carrying three congressmen overturned on the way to the Baghdad airport, injuring two of them, the U.S. Embassy said Sunday.

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., was airlifted to a military hospital in Germany for an MRI on his neck, and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., was sent to a Baghdad hospital for evaluation, said Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., who was also in the vehicle but was not hurt when it overturned Saturday.

Murphy is ''bumped and bruised, but in good spirits,'' his chief of staff, Susan Mosychuck, said Sunday. He will return home from Germany as soon as he is cleared by doctors, she said.

Skelton spokeswoman Lara Battles said she believed Skelton was also doing well. She declined to comment further.

You know that when the casino boat line SunCruz was owned by Jack Abramoff and Adam Kidan, the company paid the men who blew away SunCruz founder Gus Boulis.

Now it turns out they also had the company pay the National Republican Congressional Committee (the House GOP election committee) $10,000 on behalf of Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH). That was in exchange for Ney's putting anti-Boulis remarks in the congressional record that helped Abramoff and Kidan pressure Boulis to sell them SunCruz.

The guy who helped arrange Ney's anti-Boulis-trash-talking and the later pay-off was none other than Mike Scanlon, who later did public relations work for SunCruz, in addition to going into the Indian gaming bilking biz with SunCruz owner Abramoff.

Scanlon is the guy who just agreed to testify against, well ... everybody in the Abramoff cases.

Complicated? Hey, don't blame us! We didn't tell them to go out and live an Elmore Leonard novel.

Only yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported new signs that the Abramoff investigation is targeting multiple lawmakers and numerous current and former staffers. Today the Post says the same.

We've just witnessed a ferocious two weeks of attacks over the future direction of our policy in Iraq. And in that brawl, the White House and its surrogates have launched all manner of attacks against those who would 'cut and run' before 'our job is finshed' in Iraq,

Now comes this article in Saturday's Los Angeles Times which reports that said turbo-testicular worthies have reviewed the situation and -- surprise, surprise! -- our job appears to be almost done.

Bearing the good news ...

In a departure from past statements, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week that the training of Iraqi troops has advanced so far that the current number of U.S. troops probably will not be needed for much longer.

President Bush will give a major speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in which aides say he is expected to proclaim the improved readiness of Iraqi troops, which he has identified as the key condition for withdrawing U.S. forces.

...

Some analysts say the emerging consensus might have less to do with conditions in Iraq than the long-term strain of the deployment on the U.S. military. And major questions over the readiness of Iraq's fledgling security forces pose risks for any strategy that calls for an accelerated American troop withdrawal.

As recently as late September, senior U.S. military commanders told a congressional hearing that just one Iraqi battalion, about 700 soldiers, was considered capable of conducting combat operations fully independent of any U.S. support. Administration officials now dismiss that measure of military readiness, saying more Iraqi units are able to perform advanced operations each day.


I'm going to way out on a limb and take James Fallows' word over the president's and assume that there's been no radical turnaround in the training and functioning of the Iraqi Army over the last couple months.

And if that's true, it clarifies this essential point: there is no debate about withdrawing American troops from Iraq. That's over. What we have is posturing and positioning over the political consequences of withdrawal. The White House and the president's partisans will lay down a wall of covering fire, calling anybody who considers withdrawal an appeaser, to allow the president to go about the business of drawing down the American presence in Iraq in time to game the 2006 elections.

Tory MP offers to publish the Bush-Blair al Jazeera bombing memo (and risk jail) if someone will only slip him a copy.

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