Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Coming later, direct from Capitol Hill, a report from the scene of today's rally of privatization Storm Troopers symbolically shredding the country's safety net. With pictures!

Ye olde Gift Rules of the House of Representatives.

Including golden oldies like House Rule 26: "[T]he restrictions of the gift rule do not apply to "[a]nything for which the [official] pays the market value" (clause 5(a)(3)(A) of House Rule 26). Accordingly, there can be an improper gift to a Member, officer or employee where, for example, he or she is sold property at less than market value, or receives more than market value in selling property."

This really does make for gruesomely fun reading. College Republicans meet in their national convention. All stand firm on the war, but few seem interested in fighting it. Many believe they can accomplish more fighting politically to support the war on the home front.

Vivian Lee says "Frankly, I want to be a politician. I'd like to survive to see that." Put her in the category of people who are ineligible for service because they want to survive into adulthood.

Chris Cusmano, a 21-year old from Rocky Point, NY says that "If there was a need presented, I would go." But he hasn't considered volunteering. Maybe someone should send him the clips about how the Army hasn't been able to meet its recruiting targets in months.

25-year old Matthew Vail, wtih Students for Bush, says "I'm in college right now, but who knows? The bug may get after college."

The fighting and dying for your country bug.

(Late Update: Note this is from last year's convention. I didn't realize that when I first read the piece. So at least the recruiting issue doesn't apply with the same force.)

Cunningham lawyers up. And his lawyer knows what kind of case he's dealing with. Cunningham lawyer K. Lee Blalack told the hometown North County Times he couldn't talk details about the case because he "hadn't gotten his hands dirty on this thing yet."

Also of interest, it turns out that Blalack was Duke's attorney during the last major congressional bribery dust-up.

Says the article: "[Blalack] also represented the 63-year-old congressman and former Navy fighter pilot in a 2003 ethics case that alleged Cunningham and other lawmakers pressured Rep. Nick Smith to vote in favor of a Medicare reform bill."

Blalack also repeats Duke's claim that he paid $13,000 in dock and maintenance fees "in lieu of traditional rent." But here's what we're not clear on.

$8,000 of that is for slip fees.

But according to the earlier account, before Duke started living on the Duke Stir, he'd been living there on his own yacht, the Kelly C. The latter boat got sent off to get refurbished and is apparently down in Mobile, Alabama. And the Duke Stir took its place. So wasn't Duke paying the eight grand in slip fees all along? How does he get to count that as payment in kind to Mitchell Wade? And if someone loans you their house for a year, is it kosher by congressional rules if you pay utilities and upkeep in lieu of traditional rent?

Let me extend my congratulations to Markos and the rest of his Dailykos team for the new redesigned site. Looks great and I well know how much time goes into such a project. Congrats.

White House advance team subject of criminal probe, but press secretary won't disclose details. Will Denver DA save us from power-worshiping Washington?

Okay, he's not a DA. He's a US Attorney. But I was already set on the headline before that dawned on me.

However that may be, according to the Rocky Mountain News, the Secret Service says that they're still completing their investigation into what the Secret Service describes as a "criminal case" of a member of the White House advance team who reportedly impersonated a Secret Service agent at a Bamboozlepalooza event in March. Once they complete their probe, they will turn their findings over to William Leone, acting US Attorney for the Denver district who will have to decide whether criminal charges will be filed.

The White House, you'll remember, says no one did anything wrong in the incident and insists -- apparently forcing the Secret Service to remain silent too -- on keeping secret the name of the person at the center of the probe.

Can we hope for some spine from Leone? Otherwise, aren't we left relying on the liegemen from The Note?

Score one for Duke!

Yesterday, I picked up a clip from the LA Times which identified Douglas Powanda, a former executive vice president at Peregrine Systems and current corporate fraud indictee, as the guy Duke bought the new house from. The Times also pointed out that Peregrine Systems was Duke's third largest corporate contributor.

Only that last point isn't true. Duke's third largest contributor is actually Peregrine Semiconductor, an unrelated company and one that to the best of our knowledge has bucked the trend and not made any personal cash payments to Duke.

It would seem that those of who want to have Duke to kick around will have to settle for the House-sale-cum-pay-off and the free boat accomodations.

Oh well.

So back to the phase-out rally at the Capitol on Sunday.

A new phase-out group is holding what they're calling a "Storm for Reform" rally in support of phasing-out Social Security and replacing it with private accounts.

And to symbolize their rage against Social Security as we know it, these Storm Troopers will be hauling a bunch of paper shredders to Taft Memorial Park on Capitol Hill so that rally participants can shred their Social Security statements. (Sort of the wingnut equivalent of burning your bra, I guess.)

(And, no, I'm actually not making this stuff up.)

So who will show up to support Social Security in the face of this onslaught of anti-Social Security weasels?

More to come ...

Storm troopers for phase-out to rally for dismantling Social Security at the Capitol this Sunday, to shred Social Security statements in bizarre phase-out ritual.

More soon ...

Leni, where are you when they need you?

Names, places and dates to follow ...

One of my main goals when I started TPMCafe was to provide a bigger forum for the sort of information gathering and investigative journalism we did here at TPM in recent months on Social Security, the DeLay Rule, et al.

Now that we've got the site up-and-running, a staffer hired and a battery of volunteer researcher-writers in the process of being picked, we're going to dig into it.

First up, catching up on Social Security.

As you can see here, our Conscience Caucus list hasn't been updated since way back on March 3rd. A lot has happened in the last six months. Most of them good, certainly. But just recently the phase-out crew has begun making some initials forays out of their cave with the new plan to blow the entire Social Security surplus and the Trust Fund on those prized private accounts.

So we're going to dive back into that. We'll be moving the list over to a new library section of TPMCafe, updating it, adding new materials, and more.

If you'd like to be involved in helping us pull new information together, let us know.

Next up after that, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Bob Ney, Karl Rove and more.