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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Okay, it's corny and a touch obnoxious. But just for today the change to the site marquee is my gift to myself. I pulled an all-nighter Wednesday night nursing my ancient HP 4L laser printer into churning out the two final copies of my dissertation manuscript. Then I hopped on the 6 AM train from DC to Providence to actually turn the thing in. By the time I got there most of the signatures and forms that I thought I might have to take care of had already gotten done. So it was largely a matter of physically walking the thing over to the graduate school offices and doing the actual sign in. In any case, it's finally, officially, completely done.

In a sense a dissertation is just a really long paper (I think the grand total was 326 pages, in this case). But one works on it for so long that all sorts of psychological mumbo-jumbo gets bound up in it. When I was signing it in yesterday, and the person who signs it in told me that everything on the checklist was covered, I think I asked two or three times if she was sure there wasn't any other form that needed to be turned in. Then, as I was walking out of her office ... "So, you're sure. Nothing else?" "Yes, I'm sure. That's it. You're done." I had a hard time not going back and asking again as I was walking down the hallway. But then I thought, what profiteth a man to gain his Ph.D. if he loses his dignity in the process of turning it in?

Some really uncomfortable information coming out later today about one of conservatism's leading moralizers. Stay tuned for the link...

So is it The Law Firm of King and Geragos? This must be at least the third time that celebrity defense hound Mark Geragos has gone from commenting about a criminal case on Larry King to then representing the suspect in question. First Gary Condit, then Winona Ryder, and now Scott Peterson! Does Larry get a cut from all this business he brings in for Geragos? And given that Condit and Peterson are both from Modesto, isn't Geragos sort of becoming the Johnnie Cochran of downwardly-mobile Modesto philanderers?

The sorry truth is that I should have seen this coming. But I didn't. A week or so back Geragos mysteriously disappeared from Larry's line-up, only to be replaced a gaggle of second-tier TV defense lawyers for Nancy Grace to get angry at.

Actually, speaking of Nancy, there was a classic Nancy moment on Tuesday night when Larry fed one of the fill-in defense pundits, Chris Pixley, to Nancy. Here's a taste ...

GRACE: And another thing, Larry. I disagree with something Chris Pixley said earlier, the defense attorney on the panel tonight. He said that a one-month relationship is not a good enough motive for murder. Question to you, Chris. Have you ever seen a good motive for murdering your 5-foot-1 eight-month pregnant wife? I'm all ears!

PIXLEY: Well, exactly, Nancy. That's the problem that the prosecution...

GRACE: We don't have to prove motive!

PIXLEY: ... has in this case. There's no good motive that they have for what has gone on here. They've got...

GRACE: The state doesn't have to prove motive!

Question to you, Chris!

Impressively enough, by this evening, Chris had already reattached his head to his neck and was back on the panel ready for more.

Now, after I found out that Geragos was going to represent Peterson, I have to admit that I felt a bit off my game for not having predicted it, since normally I'm pretty in tune with the cosmic mojo that governs Larry's show. But it soon became clear I was being too hard on myself. The swipe I took at Nancy yesterday on TPM turns out to have been a dramatic foreshadowing of her complete downfall that took place on the show this evening. Toward the end of the show, after Nancy had been ranting and raving for about 50 minutes, Scott Peterson's dad called in to Larry's show.

(Pursuant to a little known section of the US Penal Code, the relatives of all high-profile murderers are given Larry's direct number, once a magistrate makes a finding of probable cause.)

Now, for my money, Scott's pretty clearly about as guilty as sin. But you can't begrudge his dad for believing in his son's innocence. And his dad actually came off very well. And ... well, let's just go to the tape ...

KING: We are told that we have Lee Peterson on the phone. He is Scott Peterson's father. Are you there, Lee?

LEE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S FATHER: Yes, sir, Larry I sure am.

KING: How did it go with Mr. Geragos? He was on at the beginning of the show. He said he's sleeping on it and is going to make a decision tomorrow. What do you expect?

PETERSON: Well, we'll just have to see what he has to say. Larry, the reason I called, I'd like to address a question to Nancy.

KING: Go ahead.

PETERSON: Nancy Grace. Nancy, I've watched many programs, I don't like to watch them, but it kind of keeps me informed, and I can feel the public sentiment. And I just have to say, for some reason you seem to have a personal stake in this, a personal vendetta against my son and I do not understand it. When you come on and you state things about my son, it is so obvious that you are just caught up in this thing and there's no room for, you know, innocence until proven guilty. And I'm just appalled by that. I don't think that's your place to be a spokesman for -- for the district attorney, and to...

KING: Before she responds, Lee, are you hopeful that Mark Geragos takes the case?

PETERSON: Yes, I am. I am. Mark's a wonderful man. We met him twice.

KING: I know, it appears he's going to. All right, Nancy, how do you respond?

GRACE: Well, I respond like this, Larry -- in all the many, many cases that I prosecuted I felt that I not only represented the state, but as a crime victim of murder, the victim as well. I do not presume to be representing the DA's office. That would be highly presumptuous. I take the facts as I hear them and I apply the law as I know it. And after trying well over 100 felony trials before juries, it's my belief that there's a very strong case against Scott, but in response to his father's call, I know he may not believe it, but my heart goes out to him and the pain his family's having, but I am speaking on behalf of what I believe to be true, on behalf of Laci Peterson, neither against Scott, for Scott, for the state, against the state, but what I believe to be true regarding her murder.

PETERSON: Nancy, do you hear me?

KING: Yes, she can hear you.

PETERSON: You are speculating on these facts as much as I am...

GRACE: And you are believing what your son is telling you.

(CROSSTALK)

PETERSON: Please don't interrupt me. You've had your say here for months, and you've crucified my son on national media. And he's a wonderful man. You have no idea of his background and what a wonderful son and wonderful man he is. You have no knowledge of that and you sit there as a judge and jury, I guess, and you're convicting him on the national media, and you should be absolutely ashamed of yourself.

GRACE: Sir, I think he should be ashamed of himself, as whoever is responsible fro the death of Laci Peterson, and lashing out at me -- I completely understand where you're coming from. I am simply stating what has been leaked or what has been put in formal documents, and if you find them disturbing, I suggest you ask your son about some of them, sir.

PETERSON: There you go, Nancy. Look at this look on Nancy's face. You absolutely hate my son. I don't know what it is.

GRACE: No, I don't hate your son. I don't know your son.

PETERSON: You don't know my son, that's exactly right.

GRACE: But I hate what happened to Laci.

Did I mention that Laci was only 5'1?

Amazing quote of the day. This from Frank Gaffney on CNN last evening (emphasis added) ...

This is a danger that I'm afraid, in the preoccupation that came about as a result of going down, I think, this unfortunately dead end of the United Nations, because the only thing we were allowed to talk about at the United Nations was weapons of mass destruction. We were not allowed to talk about repression of the people of Iraq, about which we have seen so much evidence. We were not allowed to talk about Saddam Hussein's conventional threat to his neighbors. He went to war twice against them.

We were not allowed to talk about this connection to terror. We were only really allowed to try to engage the United Nations on the grounds that he had weapons of mass destruction. I'm confident we'll demonstrate that he did, not just the remnants of old programs, but ongoing programs. And I believe today we know absolutely, without a doubt, the Iraqi people are better off, because, despite the U.N. saying, "Oh, I'm sorry, we're not persuaded," the conventional threat is diminished, if not completely eliminated. The terrorist links are ruptured. And I'm confident that our other concerns about the repression of the people of Iraq is now going to be at an end.

It's the UN's fault that we had to focus on WMD? Shouldn't there be a penalty box for this kind of ridiculousness?

Saddama bin Laden? The London-based Arabic language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi says it will be publishing a signed letter it received from Saddam Hussein in which the ex-despot calls on Iraqis to rise up and toss out the Americans. According to Al-Quds Al-Arabi's tease, the big news is Saddam's discussion of "betrayals" that led to his leaving office earlier this month before his current term as Iraq's dictator expires in 2009.

Oh the indignity! When the Americans want to humiliate a member of the former Iraqi regime, they really know how to make it hurt. Over the course of the day, news surfaced that Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Iraq's former Information Minister, was trying to negotiate his surrender to US troops. But they hadn't accepted his terms.

It turns out that slightly overstated the matter. One of his terms was that he be arrested. And that was one demand the Americans were simply not willing to accept.

He's not in the deck and they don't want him. 'You're too lame to arrest' is the message coming from the US Army.

Ouch ...

It wasn't much better last week, when al-Sahaf apparently tried, unsuccessfully, to turn himself in to a Portuguese journalist.

One group that does want him is the Dubai-based satellite channel al-Arabiya which wants to hire him as an Iraq analyst. "We want to benefit from the experience of Mr Sahaf and his analysis of the current situation and the future of Iraq," Ali al-Hadethi, an al-Arabiya spokesman told Reuters today.

They want him. But he doesn't seem to want them. So al-Sahaf is now reduced to ... God, it's almost too brutal to say it ... He's been reduced to having to try to turn himself in to the INC.

Nabil al Musawi, an INC spokesman, tells Al Bawaba that, deck of cards or no deck of cards, al-Sahaf "is wanted by the Iraqis."

Let's discuss something, just you and me. Am I the only one who thinks Nancy Grace comes from another planet? Or do you think so too? Nancy Grace, of course, is the Court TV anchor and semi-permanent guest on Larry King Live whose job it is, on Larry's show at least, to be the voice of militant sentimentalism. Tonight Larry was doing his 950th segment on the Laci Peterson murder and Nancy was in classic form as what you might call the hanging dingbat. In the standard engagement, some defense lawyer will be there making a point about how the defense might make its case and Nancy butts in: BUT THE BABY! DO YOU KNOW LACI WAS ONLY 5'1?!?!? But Nancy, we're just trying to talk through how the case might be argued ... BUT THE BABY! But Nancy ... HOW CAN YOU DEFEND THAT MAN AFTER WHAT HE DID TO HIS HAIR? ... But, Nancy, we're not ... TYPICAL DEFENSE LAWYER!!! But ... Well, you get the idea.

Man! Not only is Newt Gringrich no Jack Kennedy, he's not even a Richard Perle. As regular readers well know, I've been a pretty tough critic of Mr. Perle, especially his long-running effort to serve as the Pentagon's proxy in its war with Colin Powell. But one can denounce underhanded scheming and still be able to respect it when it's ably done.

As you'll remember, last week the former Speaker of the House used an AEI panel discussion to launch a broadside against the State Department, Colin Powell and even a few elementary points of basic logic. But his attack was so overblown and cartoonish that even those inclined to support his basic position immediately cut him loose, leaving the former Speaker terribly exposed when nearly every Republican in town spent the rest of last week saying he was at best out of line and quite possibly even slightly off his rocker.

It was the week of the great Newt Gingrich smackdown. Jack Kemp called his old friend's argument ludicrous and compared him to "a bull who carries his own china shop around with him." Bill Buckley, famed lover of Foggy Bottom, said Newt had "overdone it." And pretty much every other Republican in town, pretty clearly at White House direction, trashed him.

Newt was like that one doofus you have in every high school clique who's always trying to get into the act after the moment has passed.

A bit short on time this evening, but just a quick note on North Korea. One of the most defining characteristics of the long-simmering Korea-quasi-crisis has been the way the major dailies, the Times and Post especially, and the cable nets have gotten spun every which way in their initial reporting on developments out of North Korea. The Kelly meeting last week in Beijing looks like it's turning into another example. The LA Times provided the first public clues about this a few days ago. But basically it wasn't at all as first reported. The North Koreans combined a lot of bluster and threats with a rather desperate plea for what is often, in diplomatic circles, called the "buy-out" option. Basically, a security guarantee and aid in exchange for the North Koreans getting out of the nuclear business and allowing comprehensive monitoring. There are all sorts of stories to tell as the folks at DOD cry bloody murder that they've been outmaneuvered by the people at the State Department. But the real question is this: it seems likely to a lot of people now that Colin Powell, Armitage and Kelly could give President Bush a very big diplomatic victory in Northeast Asia over the next year or so. The price, however, would be going back to the basic model that was pursued by the previous administration. Tougher, more comprehensive, to be sure. But the same basic idea: aid and security guarentees in exchange for getting out of the nuclear biz. Can the White House swallow its pride? And will the AEI Fedayeen ever sit still for it?

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