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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Bob Novak has another column up today defending himself with regard to the Plame matter. Read it and see if you can catalog the untruths and distortions.

Michael Barone has been doing more than the usual water-carrying. But TPM Reader MC just pointed me to this new article on the decades-long effort by the powers of darkness to undermine Republican presidencies in which Barone describes Watergate thusly: "Richard Nixon, by obstructing investigation of the Watergate burglary, unwittingly colluded in the successful attempt to besmirch his administration. Less than two years after carrying 49 states, he was compelled to resign."

In the post just below, I linked to an article about Charles Kernaghan, a man who spends his life shaming big corporations over their use of child labor and sweat shop labor in the products they have made overseas. Over at his site, Matt Yglesias responded with the standard, but quite powerful, argument that we in the West (or the developed world) often project unrealistic and even harmful expectations on to wages and labor practices in developing countries.

So for instance, rotten working conditions for far under a dollar an hour may be bad. But the conditions <$Ad$> may be less onerous and the pay at least marginally more generous than what some of these people would otherwise be making in the agricultural sectors of their national economies. And maybe that's why the company owners are able to get people to work at what seem to us to be inhumane conditions. (As a general matter, people in the West underestimate the sheer wretchedness of agricultural labor and the endemic nature of rural poverty.)

In any case, that's the argument. And while I think it somewhat discounts the related issues of rural overpopulation and mechanization, on balance it's a strong argument.

There is one thing, however, that this line of reasoning misses: political violence. Which is, after all, the grand-daddy of extra-economic inputs.

You can't make a solid argument that wages in other countries have found their natural level if one of the major 'inputs' is organized political violence to keep wages low and labor activism inert.

To put it more concretely, one part of a real market in labor is the ability for people to protest conditions, either actively (through organizing) or passively (through quitting or refusing to work). But if people who try to form labor unions are murdered then that whole theory falls apart.

This certainly doesn't solve the thicket of questions about globalization and third-world economic development. Nor does it invalidate the broader argument Matt is making. But on this particular point I think it makes clear that we're dealing with more than invisible hands.

"If we were doing penguins or whales, we'd probably be raising millions" -- a quote from Charles Kernaghan, a guy who runs a group that exposes American companies that have their products made by sweatshops and/or child labor overseas. He's talking about the shoe-string budget his outfit runs on. The Post has an article about him.

Well, John Bolton didn't tell the truth on his senate disclosure form. But that won't stop President Bush from sending him to the UN. AP has the story: Bush to make the recess appointment next week.

Click here to see the letter senate Dems sent the president today arguing that Bolton's apparent dishonesty during his confirmation should disqualify him for the job.

It never ends.

Another boondoogle Duke Cunningham (R) set up for some generous contributors, before the company they owned failed to provide the government the promised services and went belly up.

On the other hand, things could be worse. This one only cost the taxpayers $3.5 million.

The Union-Tribune's Marcus Stern, who broke the story that began Duke's downfall, has the details.

PS. Special thanks to TPM Reader MQ for bringing us the shocking, shocking news.

Ya never call. Ya never write.

GOPUSA lamenting the fate of Karl "Lonesome By the Phone" Rove ...

If Karl Rove were a Democrat, he would be forgiven by the press and reporters would be returning to him for more juicy tidbits of information.


(ed.note: Catch, courtesy of TPM Reader DME.)

For those of you following the news of John Bolton's "inaccurate" answers to the Senate regarding the State-CIA Niger forgeries investigation, we've just posted a couple updates over at TPMCafe. Click here to see the exact text of the questions Bolton answered "inaccurately" and here to see the letter the Senate Democrats just sent to the president about Bolton's concealing the information.

Sore Arm Watch, from the Omaha World-Herald: "U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne, after siding with a two-vote House majority to approve a controversial trade agreement with Central American countries, said Thursday he feared the sugar industry would suffer reprisals if the pact failed. Osborne said he had heard suggestions from Bush administration officials that the industry's lack of flexibility on trade could hurt it when federal farm programs are rewritten next year."

Scot-Free Watch, from the Rocky Mountain News: "Federal prosecutors have declined to press charges of impersonating a Secret Service agent against a White House volunteer who forcibly ousted three people from a speech by President George W. Bush in Denver on March 21. The announcement was made without explanation Friday in a letter from the Secret Service to Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar and Reps. Mark Udall and Diana DeGette, all Democrats who had asked for the agency to investigate the incident."

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