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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Back in the old days a congressman arrested for a DWI was a pretty big deal. But with half of the political establishment in DC about to be indicted, I guess this sort of thing just doesn't show up on the radar.

A friend in need is a ...

October 19, 2005 6:00 PM-7:00 PM

Please Join Congressman Mike Conway for a Reception with Special Guest Congressman Tom DeLay Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers 412 First Street, SE, 3rd Floor $1000 per PAC $500 per Individual Please RSVP to David Bowser or Amber Burton at 703-xxx-xxxx or email info@keelencomm.com


As it happens, the NRCC misspelled his name. It's Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX). He's one of the freshman Republicans from Texas elected by DeLay's redistricting scam. Also was Treasurer of Arbusto, one of President Bush's many failed business ventures.

Late Update: As long as we're on the subject, given past experience, Conaway looks like a pretty good shot for Fed Chair.

Just out from Murray Waas in National Journal: "In two appearances before the federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's name, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, did not disclose a crucial conversation that he had with New York Times reporter Judith Miller in June 2003 about the operative, Valerie Plame, according to sources with firsthand knowledge of his sworn testimony. Libby also did not disclose the June 23 conversation when he was twice interviewed by FBI agents working on the Plame leak investigation, the sources said. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald apparently learned about the June 23 conversation for the first time just days ago, after attorneys for Miller and The New York Times informed prosecutors that Miller had discovered a set of notes on the conversation."

As I suspected it would, my post from earlier today about the Iraq spurred a storm of emails, many heated and indignant. But there also seemed to be more than a bit of confusion about just I was trying to say -- no doubt because of my lack of clarity.

So, on the main issue: We never would have gotten inspectors back into Iraq without a credible threat of force. But once the inspectors were in, they quickly began undermining the case that there was any serious WMD program or capability in Iraq. Had we pursued the inspections process in good faith, which we would have done had our true goal been eliminating WMDs (or confirming they weren't there), we probably would have avoided this current mess because the war never would have started.

That was my point.

An article by James Cramer in New York magazine predicting what has been obvious since 2002: that President Bush's fiscal profligacy is pushing the nation toward a harrowing economic crisis.

Matt Yglesias has a shrewd post on the on-going meta-debate about the what ifs and coulda shouldas of Iraq. Matt is advancing the increasingly convincing argument that even under the most competent and well-supplied management the entire Iraq endeavor may have been doomed to failure.

I said some of my piece on this question last month. But let me suggest another fold of the debate that seems seldom discussed nowadays.

All of our reasoning on this subject today is governed by the fact that it has proven an immensely challenging, perhaps impossible task. That weighs against the fact that the key casus belli -- the presence of weapons of mass destruction -- turned out to be false.

So we have an immensely difficult, even impossible, challenge that we embarked on -- let's be frank -- for no good reason. And you don't have to be a genius to add up the pros and cons of that one.

But what if there had been weapons of mass destruction? Some in place and an active program under way?

Yes, I know this is a counter-factual which you may think has no particular point or reason now. But bear with me.

The notional reason for what happened in 2002 and early 2003 was not to overthrow the Iraqi government but to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction program. To many it seemed that the latter almost necessarily required the former. And under the erroneous information then considered conventional wisdom, that reasoning had a certain logic.

But here's the key. If our goal had actually been the elimination of a dangerous weapons of mass destruction program -- the one challenge that might conceivably have merited the mess we've gotten ourselves into -- we might well not be in this situation at all.

Support for war really could be contingent on this question. And forcing intrusive inspections could have -- indeed, it was in the course of demonstrating that the WMD threat was bogus and that war was unnecessary. That was the reason the White House was so eager to launch the war when it did. Their rationale was in the midst of being cut out from under them.

The difficulty of the situation we're in can't be evaluated without an accounting of whether we had a good reason to get ourselves into this mess. And I guess I'm saying that there was a way we could have had our cake and eaten it too.

Now, some of you will say that my argument here is an effort to rationalize or justify my one-time, contigent support for war. And to some degree that is certainly right. In a case like this everyone's motives and biases deserve scrutiny. Still I think this part of the equation gets too little attention today. There is another part of this puzzle beside easy reconstruction vs. disastrous reconstruction and WMDs vs. no WMDs.

Of course, this leaves aside the folly of intentions that I think was the liberal hawks' greatest error.

The Times has a piece in tomorrow's paper about "more than 2,000 pages of [Harriet Miers'] official correspondence and personal notes made public on Monday by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in response to open-records requests."

Honestly? A lot of it sounds like that Harriet Miers parody blog everyone's been linking to.

"You are the best governor ever - deserving of great respect."

Recently, conflicts, or supposed conflicts between science and religious belief have again and again taken center stage in our public debates -- from Terri Shiavo to stem cell research, "intelligent design" to the Supreme Court confirmation hearings and the topic of abortion which seems so often the all-pervading subtext. So over at TPMCafe, we're having "Faith and Science Week."

At Table for One, we'll be joined by Dr. Jeremy Gunn, director of the ACLU's Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. Dr. Gunn will be discussing the on-going Dover case and the public debate on the teaching of evolution and so-called 'Intelligent Design.'

And at the Book Club, author Chris Mooney is discussing his new book, The Republican War on Science.

A few days back we posted this list of congressional staffers who got tickets to watch professional wrestling at one of Jack Abramoff's skyboxes back on October 2nd, 2000.

One of the worthies on the list was Mark Graul, then Chief of Staff to Representative Mark Green (R) of Wisconsin.

Green is now running for Governor. And Graul is his Campaign Manager.

I know this because a Wisconsin political blog has picked up our story and asked Graul what the deal was.

And Graul denied the whole thing.

Wisopinion.com reports that Graul said he did not attend said wrestling smackdown in the Abramoff skybox and: "I've never met Jack Abramoff in my life. He could come up and punch me in the face and I wouldn't know. I don't know why I'm on that list."

Now, do we have proof that Graul showed up at the skybox that night?

No.

What we have are Team Abramoff emails saying he was one of the lucky Hill staffers who they gave tickets to. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Now, I noticed that Graul didn't deny he and his boss were on the Abramoff gravy train. He just said he didn't go to the skybox that night and that he's never met Abramoff -- presumably meaning he never met him in person.

So I looked back through the emails to see if Graul shows up on other occasions. And it turns out that his name shows up in the Team Abramoff emails getting skybox seats again and again.

So for instance on January 12th, 2000 Team Abramoff's Jennifer Calvert emailed Susan Ralston to get Mark tickets to see the Wizards-Bucks game on February 22nd.

"May I get four tickets to this game for Mark Graul, COS for Rep. Green? If that works, I'd like to get two for myself as well, to host Mark. Thanks."

"Ok w/Jack" Ralston wrote back the following morning.

A month later, Calvert got Graul two tickets for the upcoming Wizards-Suns game.

Graul wasn't just up for basketball games and wrestling either. In November we see Calvert putting him in for two tickets to see Limp Bizkit, Godsmack and DMX at the MCI Center. ("I'll add [them] to the list. Will confirm shortly," Ralston replied.)

I won't bore you with all the examples of Graul partying it up on Jack Abramoff's dime. And it wasn't like he got tickets every time he asked.

For instance, here on November 28th, 2000 Calvert wrote again to Ralston and Abramoff with another Mark Graul request.

"I got a request from Mark Graul, COS for Rep. Green, for tickets for the NBA all star game and the dunk contest that is apparently going to be at the MCI Center in early February. Can we honor his request? I'd also like to request 2 more tickets for a big basketball fan, Byron Patterson with Representative Don Young."

This time Jack left Mark hanging.

Abramoff himself wrote back: "We don't know yet what we are going to do with the suite that night. Put him on the list and we'll figure it out."

Who knows how that one worked out. But it sure seems like Graul was a regular with Team Abramoff.

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