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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Okay, this is pretty funny.

Fox is reporting that Fox's own Tony Snow may be Scott McClellan's replacement as White House press secretary.

Isn't that more like an interdepartmental transfer than a job change?

Curt Weldon, who's yer daddy?

Watching the explanation for this one should be entertaining.

Over at TPMmuckraker.com, Paul Kiel has been walking you through the Russian energy/'security services' thread of the Abramoff scandal.

In short, two executives for the energy company Naftasib (Alexander Koulakovsky and Marina Nevskaya) were spreading money around Washington in the late 1990s looking for friends and favors. They hired Jack Abramoff. Abramoff then acted as the pass through by which Koulakovsky and Nevskaya bankrolled the sham nonprofit, the US Family Network, Tom DeLay's then-Chief of Staff Ed Buckahm set up while he was still on the government payroll. Buckham later used the US Family Network to kick start his lobbying firm Alexander Strategy Group. To make this all a little more complicated the Russian money was funnelled through front outfits in the UK and the Netherlands.

I know the trail of money and the details are rather byzantine. But suffice it to say that these foreign energy executives with what newspapers usually delicately refer to as 'close ties' to Russian security services were pumping millions of dollars into the Abramoff-Buckham-DeLay syndicate. And they were getting a lot in return.

You'll also remember that one of the quids Rep. Bob Ney (R-Toast) was trading for Jack Abramoff's quos were encomiums and hatchet-jobs slipped into the congressional record, for Abramoff's pals and enemies, respectively.

So with all that as background, here are remarks Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) inserted into the Congressional Record back on February 4th, 1999 ...



Now, Weldon does fancy himself something of a Russia hand. Indeed, his daughter, when she was only in her late 20s, set up a lobbying firm that seemed to specialize in getting fat contracts from Russian and Serbian interests which ended up getting favors from her dad. Indeed, one of them was Itera International Energy Corp, another Russian energy outfit with ties of various sorts to Russian government officials.

But I digress.

Whatever the deal with Itera, what was Weldon's thing with Koulakovsky? This guy was funnelling millions of dollars into the DeLay machine. His shenanigans and deals with DeLay, Abramoff and Buckham are a central part of the on-going federal corruption probe. Weldon seems to have thought he was a really, really great guy.

Why?

Safavian to Abramoff, April 30th, 2002: "My gut is telling me to take the GSA job before joining up with you and your band of merry men." More of the courtship here.

Let me tell you about a new project we're working on and will have up online sometime next month.

If you were reading TPM a year or more ago, you know that we did very granular and detailed tracking of where key members of Congress were on the Social Security issue. Most political news outlets were focused on that debate in late 2004 and early 2005. But we focused on a slice of the debate that we had unique access to because of our readers in different districts. We heard what the members were sending in constituent emails; we got reports from town meetings; details that were showing up in the local press, and more.

We're going to employ that model to follow this year's mid-term elections. We'll be picking thirty to forty House and Senate races. Mainly, we'll choose the ones that seem genuinely in play, though we'll also probably feature a few that are just inherently interesting, even if the eventual outcome appears fairly clear.

We're setting up a special tabbed blog at TPMCafe, which will run live right through the November election. And there we'll provide wall-to-wall coverage of every race we're tracking -- every poll, every detail about fundraising, who's getting paid what, what's getting said at town meetings, who's running away from their old positions, bamboozling the press and so on. Everything you, the political junkie, need to keep your finger on the pulse of all these races.

The site will be run by our in-house staff and our crop of summer interns. But mainly we'll need you -- folks in the districts, reading the papers, attending the meetings, letting us know about mailings, telling us what you hear. A lot of it we'll do like I did the Social Security stuff, getting your emails, passing on key details to readers. But we'll also be posting reader reports as well.

Are you watching a race you think we should follow? Let us know. Are you in a district or state with a closely-watched race and interested in sending regular reports? Let us know that too.

Like each of our projects, it's an experiment. We're excited about this one. Stay tuned.

It's sad the state we've gotten to where, apparently, even firing incompetent executive branch appointees amounts to a win for the terrorists. Back in '04 we were still enough of a superpower that only turning out a president amounted to a win for the terrorists. That suggests that the terrorists truly have us over a barrel. We are so intimidated by them that we have to hold on to a failed defense secretary presumeably forever. Or until there are no more Muslims with a beef with us. Whichever comes first. It's cool that we're standing so tall.

America in good hands.

Pres. Bush: "I'm the decider, and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."

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