Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Was that a shoe falling? Susan Ralston is the woman who has managed to be at the center of both the Abramoff and the CIA leak investigations. She was Abramoff's executive assistant back in the day; then she took the same job with Karl Rove.

But maybe no more.

The Philippine News (Ralston is of Filipino descent) reports (link courtesy of The Plank) that she's moved on to the Commerce Department because she's been under "too much pressure" at the White House.

A TPM Reader gave me a heads-up on this a couple days ago. And it turns out he was right.

Recently I told you that any chance Tom DeLay has of regaining the Majority Leader's post was to have his case in Texas close to some resolution in January -- before dissidents in the House GOP caucus could force new leadership elections.

That seemed very likely to happen when lawmakers came back to DC mid-January.

Of course one way to give The Hammer a bit more time is just not to let members of the House come back.

And that appears to be what they've decided to do.

According to Roll Call (sub.req.), Hastert and Blunt plan to keep the doors to the people's House closed until January 31st, the day the president is scheduled to give his State of the Union address -- which of course is given in the House chamber.

Who else did Brent Wilkes (Cunningham's sugar daddy) give money to? Ellen Miller has a list. Go check it twice.

Duke Cunningham's booty does a perp walk!

Actually, let me make sure I'm not misunderstood. Duke may going to the big house. But his booty -- his ill-gotten gains, all the antique furniture, rugs, candelabra, the antique commode, everything -- have been seized by the IRS and placed on public display in a warehouse in San Diego.

Click here to the local TV segment of the display (look on the right of the story for the video link).

The story also notes that the stuff is going to be auctioned off to the public. So you too you could get some Duke booty.

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Reader BS for letting us know about this new instance of Duke being on the block for the highest bidder.)

Eh, small world, small conspiracy.

This news has been out for a few weeks and I just hadn't noticed. But the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Fund is being headed up by none other than Mel Sembler, the Cheney-fan and the big-ticket GOP fundraiser from Florida who was the US Ambassador to Italy when all the secret meetings took place and when the forged uranium papers showed up at the US Embassy in October 2002.

Since I've reported on this story for almost two years and am still writing a series on it, I need to say explicitly that I've never seen any evidence tying Sembler to any bad acts related to the forgeries. So the 'conspiracy' crack is mainly a jest. But there's a lot that's still really murky about what was happening at the US Embassy in Rome after 9/11 with the forgeries and other matters. That was on Sembler's watch. And Libby's bad acts stem from the whole forgeries bamboozlement. (Whacking Wilson was part of the larger White House effort to keep the forgeries scam covered up -- a cover up that's still underway.)

So Sembler just seems like a pretty big part of this story to be collecting money for the one person under indictment for their role in it.

Let me follow up on the post below about those "hospitality suite[s] with several bedrooms" that arch-contracts-hustler Brent Wilkes was running around downtown Washington. I probably should have been a bit more explicit about this last evening but the wording the reporters for the Union-Tribune used was almost certainly code for some sort of legislative love shack Wilkes used to lubricate the pay-for-play operation that made him and his pals so much cash before Duke brought the whole movable feast down on their heads. It may match up with reports about fast times down at the marina on the various Dukeboats.

I guess the folks who run the new Hotline blog just have bawdier minds than I do. Or, really, that can't be it. So I guess I was just too focused on the CIA material in yesterday's San Diego Union-Tribune piece on the relationship between Duke Cunningham and uber-contracts-grifter Brent Wilkes to notice this brief passage ...

Wilkes befriended other legislators, too. He ran a hospitality suite, with several bedrooms, in Washington – first in the Watergate Hotel and then in the Westin Grand near Capitol Hill.

Boy, that's good stuff. After all, what possible need could congressmen and senators and their staffers have for access to private hotel suites near the Capitol registered in someone else's name? What was this, the private dancer annex of Signatures?

When I saw that Tom DeLay is now clocking in down deep in Danger Will Robinson territory -- 36% reelect -- in his own district, I was curious what Paul Begala thought about it. He grew up in DeLay's district, actually went to High School in The Hammer's hometown of Sugarland. Paul just posted his thoughts on The Hammer's fall, with a little hometown perspective, over at TPMCafe.

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.