Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Wow! Old habits sure die hard for our man Duke Cunningham.

You remember how Duke got MZM, Inc. owner Mitchell Wade to pay (roughly) double the price for his old house. Then he took Wade's bribe and mixed it together with a few sweetheart loans from Thomas Kontogiannis to buy the new mansion in Rancho Santa Fe.

After Duke's career imploded this summer, the feds sued to take ownership of the new mansion since it was bought with the proceeds of Duke's bribes from various contractors. Presumably, that and the rest of Duke's so-so publicity over recent months has put something of a damper on his efforts to unload the mansion.

In any case, apparently the best offer Duke's gotten for the place is $2.5 million, $50,000 less than he bought it for 20 months ago. But Duke says it's real value is at least $3.3 million (a questionable level of appreciation in a decelerating real estate market).

Now, back in the old days when Duke was living large and he got into a jam like this, the standard procedure was to find a corrupt defense contractor to chip in a few hundred thousand dollars. But since that probably won't work out any more, Duke says the US Treasury should pay him $800,000 to make up for the money he should be getting for the house.

That's right. Duke says the feds should make him whole because he can't pocket the full Duke-appraised 'market' value.

Why is this guy stil in Congress?

Just the kind of guy you want to give a lot of power to.

We mentioned a few days ago a woman named Elizabeth Reyes who was an attorney in the elections division of the Texas Secretary of state. She answered a press question about a law that Karl Rove had broken -- though she wasn't told that Rove was the person involved. She was immediately fired.

Now it turns out that Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams decided to fire the woman after getting a call from Rove himself.

But for the morons among us, Williams would like to make clear that Rove's call had nothing to do with it.

(ed.note: Special thanks to TPM Reader J for the tip.)

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) has just posted an update on the president's Gulf Coast Wage Cut over at TPMCafe. It seems the president was in such a rush to put through the cut that he may not even have followed the law.

As with the DeLay Rule and Social Security privatization, it seems we've got more than a few Gulf Coast Wage Cut letter-writers.

Roll Call (sub.req.): Cheney to undergo "elective surgical procedure to treat an aneurysm in the artery behind the right knee that was discovered earlier this year."

Hmmm. Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) seems to be a bit wobbly on the Gulf Coast Wage Cut. TPM Reader SF got a sorta weasly answer, it seems.

Can we get a show of hands on where every member of Congress stands on this one? Fine, maybe we'll use a slightly more 21st Century method of getting everyone on the record. Tell us where your representative and senators stand.

As we noted last night, and Rep. Dingell (D-MI) was shrewd enough to note right off the bat in his statement last night, President Bush's first move after Katrina was to push through a Gulf Coast Wage Cut by executive order.

He really did. It hasn't gotten a lot of discussion because it gets wrapped up in a bunch of jargon about the Davis-Bacon Act and 'prevailing wages' and a bunch of other mumbojumbo to the point where people think it's about nutritional standards or breakfast foods. But that's what it does. It allows those companies lining up for a piece of that $200 or $300 billion to cut the wages of the folks who are actually going to do the work.

What sense does that make? It amounts to wage gouging. Bad values. And actually pretty bad macro-economics since as much as these disaster-stricken regions need roads rebuilt they need people who can take their families out to dinner and buy new clothes. And lower wages for folks involved in the reconstruction -- which is going to be a big slice of the population -- has a ripple effect across the board in those regions.

Anyway, no arguments or hassles. I'm just curious to find out where everyone stands. There was a group of lawmakers who sent a letter to the president asking him to pull the trigger on the Gulf Coast wage cut. So we know where they stand (we'll get that letter and let you know who). But how about everyone else. Ring up your representative or senator and ask. Or if you see their position on their website or in the paper, send us the link.

We'll make a list and see where everyone stands on the president's Gulf Coast Wage Cut.

A thought for some clever graphic artist: a juxtaposition.

And all you need to get is a copy of the Monday guitar image and then one from the speech last night. Caption one: "When Lives Are at Stake." Caption Two: "When Politics Is at Stake." Fiddle with the wording. But you get the idea.

Am I wrong?

Late Update: A TPM Reader has given it a try. And it looks pretty good.