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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Such a small world, such a small world.

You remember defense contractor Brent Wilkes. He was the ur-briber at the heart of the soon-to-expand Duke Cunningham scandal. Mitchell Wade got a lot more attention. But a closer look at the backstory of the scandal shows that Mitch came up through the Wilkes operation.

Anyway, one of the choice nuggets from the Wilkes-Duke saga was the fact that Wilkes set up an actual airline that at one point owned no more than a mere 1/16th of a plane (Don't worry. It was a share. So it flew okay.). He called it Group W Transportation. And it existed for pretty much the exclusive purpose of ferrying members of Congress around the country on a Lear Jet.

Needless to say, Duke himself logged the most hours of any congressman on Group W. But the article in the San Diego Union-Tribune that broke the story notes that Tom DeLay repeatedly flew the friendly skies of Air Wilkes.

And one other member of Congress flew Air Wilkes too.

Who would that be? None other than Rep. Roy Blunt.

Just the man to clean up the House.

Fly the friendly skies.

How deep do they have to cut to get down to healthy tissue? That's the question.

As you can see somewhere prominently noted on most of the news sites, House Republican leaders have decided to can Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) who now -- but check your watches, because probably not for long -- serves as chairman of the House Committee on Administration. Ney certainly isn't the worst offender in the Abramoff scandal. But he may be the sloppiest and most flagrant.

Federal prosecutors have already asserted as fact -- in the Scanlon indictment -- that Ney accepted bribes. Clearly, there's an indictment headed his way. So it's hard to see how House Republicans can make even a colorable claim to cleaning up the mess they've created without booting Ney from his committee chairmanship.

(As a side note, let's observe that it sure ain't pretty when the members of a gang decide to take out one of their own, is it? Cue your favorite analogous scene from Mob cinema or The Sopranos.)

In any case, is that enough?

Despite the fact that the feds seem to have Ney nailed dead to rights, he's hardly a big player in this story. Is it really zero-tolerance for those compromised by Abramoff-related criminality? How about the DeLay syndicate? What's the standard?

Pat Robertson, prominent American cartoon character, sends letter of apology to Omri Sharon, son of Ariel, asking forgiveness for his moronic and offensive remarks.

Wrote Robertson, "I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people of Israel for remarks I made at the time concerning the writing of the holy prophet Joel and his view of the inviolate nature of the land of Israel."

A number of you have written in to ask whether there's a permanent link you can use to access our new Daily Muck feature.

The answer is, not yet. But it requires a bit more explanation.

As you know, we're building toward launching our new site, TPMmuckraker.com. It should come online right around the beginning of the month. The Daily Muck will be part of TPMmuckraker. But we decided to get the Muck started over at TPMCafe for the next few weeks just to get the muckraking juices flowing now and have the format down pat for when it's folded into TPMmuckraker.com.

If you've read the Muck already, you know it's written by Paul Kiel. So let me take a moment to introduce him. Paul's the first of our two hires for TPMmuckraker. Drop him a line, say hi, give him a lecture about the high standards of meticulousness and zealousness you require from him in terms of his muckraking activities and so forth. (You can drop Paul a line through the regular TPM comment email address.)

On a more practical note, in addition to the original reporting the new site will feature, we want the Daily Muck to pull together all the key muck in the news each day, one digestible muck run-down to keep you up to speed on public villainies of all sorts being perpretrated around the country.

And our advantage in being able to put that together is you.

Needless to say, we'll be checking the Times and Post and the major national news outlets everyday to track the latest developments in these stories. But my experience running this site for more than five years tells me that some of the most telling clues and breaks in the story first pop up in news outlets that run beneath the radar of the national political press -- local and regional papers, television stations, magazines, and so forth. And of course we want your tips too.

So as we move forward, if you see a story in your local paper about your congressman and Jack Abramoff or any other nugget you see that you think deserves wider exposure, send it in to use. If you think it's muck-worthy, flag its mucktitude for Paul in the subject line.

And, of course, let us know how you think we're doing.

The Hill reports that Roy Blunt is ahead of John Boehner by 64 to 35 in pledged votes in the race to become the next House Majority Leader. They have the list of who's on whose team. See who your Republican member of congress is supporting.

What's strikes me though is that there are rather more than 99 membersof the House GOP conference. That makes Blunt's position look much less commanding.

A little earlier I linked to this choice Dick Cheney quote from yesterday. But after getting an email from TPM Reader GM, I just had to return to this one point that made me laugh the first time I read it.

Says Cheney ...

And Steve Hayes is of the view -- and I think he's correct -- that a lot of those documents that were captured over there that have not yet been evaluated offer additional evidence that, in fact, there was a relationship that stretched over many years between Saddam Hussein and the al Qaeda organization.


Now, Hayes and I are something between acquaintances and friends. I don't want to get him in trouble by the association. And I'll let him speak for himself. But I say this only by way of noting that it's always created a bit of cognitive dissonance in my mind identifying the upstanding and amiable colleague I know with a lot of his work on Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein that, let's just say, I can't find any point of agreement with.

In any case, Dick Cheney speaks for himself. What we're talking about here is what he said. And I will confide in you that I don't have any problem giving him a hard time. So let's look at this statement. Cheney says there are all these documents "that have not yet been evaluated." But those unevaluated documents provide "additional evidence" of the fabled Iraq-AQ tie.

Does that make any sense?

You start to see how the Veep has managed to spout so much malarkey over the last five years when he seems to have so much difficulty spotting a logical fallacy.

We have this new defector. We haven't heard yet what he has to say. But what he says sounds pretty convincing.

I wanted to let everyone know that next week we're hosting Peter Bergen and his new book The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader at TPMCafe Book Club.

Joining us for the discussion will be Juliette Kayyem, Bruce Lawrence, Fawaz Gerges, Spencer Ackerman, John Stuart Blackton and others.

As with some of our earlier Book Clubs, we'll be organizing our discussion around a central set of questions. We've organized our foreign policy for going on five years around terrorism and Osama bin Laden. How much progress have we made? Do our policies fit the threat? Do they fit the man, bin Laden?

I hope you'll join us. Ask your own questions and participate in the conversation. We'll keep things off on Monday the 16th.

Ahhh, the Washington Times. Yesterday the Times published an article claiming that Harry Reid was a central focus of the Justice Department's Abramoff investigation. As the Nevada Review-Journal reports, the story doesn't seem to pan out.

(ed.note: I'm shocked.)

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