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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

As some long-time readers know, I was born in Missouri. So I was pleased to receive a note from a reader today pointing my attention to these pictures from a big anti-privatization rally from last Thursday which greeted President Bush when he came to town for a fundraiser for Sen. Jim Talent (R).

Turns out there are all sorts of opportunities to vote with your feet on Social Security today -- at least if you're in Washington. Right now Social Security partisans are protesting in front of the Capital Hilton where President Bush is about to arrive to give a speech in favor of phasing out Social Security and replacing it with unsecured private accounts.

A new member of the Conscience Caucus. Actually, he says he's Loud & Proud in his opposition to phasing out Social Security: Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) of Pennsylvania.

We hear there may be some folks planning a counter-protest to take on the 'protest' sponsored by 'Social Security for All' this afternoon outside the Rock The Vote awards dinner. If you want more information on the company behind the group -- oil and petrochemical giant, Koch Industries -- see this page at the Center for Public Integrity.

Also, apparently the Young Americans for Phase-Out (aka, Social Security for All) are going to have their protest against Rock the Vote's support for Social Security at 5:30 this afternoon in front of the National Building Museum at the corner of 4th and G in DC.

If I weren't a couple hundred miles away (give or take) I'd show up and add my pro-Social Security voice to the mix. Actually, come to think of it, at 36 I may not count as youth any more. But if I were under 35 and in DC, I'd be there!

And I lived in DC for long enough to know there are plenty of pro-Social Security folks under 35 who could easily be at 4th and G at 5:30 in the afternoon.

So why not?

The best thing to do with these bozos is not to get into back and forth chants with them, but to participate in the festivities themselves and outnumber them. Of course, maybe you could bring a can of oil just to show you know where they're comin' from. But no more than that.

So if you're interested in showing up for the pre-event festivities, drop us a line and we'll try to post more relevant information.

Late Update: We've heard from a number of you who want to show up at 5:30 PM this afternoon. My understanding is that there will be various pre-dinner festivities and probably a bunch of celebs showing up on a red carpet and possibly even some tickets left for the after-party. But the main thing is show up and show support for Social Security and opposition to the phase-out crowd yipping and hollering across the street. And, oh yeah, bring a can of oil if you can. Make the Social Security for All folks feel at home.

I don't think the Bush adminsitration needed a lot of convincing not to sign the Kyoto global warming treaty. But this is the lede in a piece just out from The Guardian: "President's George Bush's decision not to sign the United States up to the Kyoto global warming treaty was partly a result of pressure from ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries, according to US State Department papers seen by the Guardian."

Someone (TPM Reader NE) sent me this link to a comment at Redstate.org encouraging people to come to a protest of Rock The Vote at the group's annual awards dinner tonight. It's sponsored, of course, by the new privatization astroturf group -- Social Security for all -- the one put together by Koch Industries other DC outlet, Americans for Progress.

In the post it says that Rock The Vote is hypocritical because they're against phasing out Social Security when in fact young people are in favor of phasing out Social Security.

So they're hypocrites -- unlike the renta-activists from Social Security for All.

Now, do young people really support phasing out Social Security? I'm not so sure about that. A lot of this turns on how the questions are worded. Asking generically about investing Social Security money in the stock market, without mentioning the risks or costs involved, polls pretty respectably -- now minority support, but substantial minority support.

But for months when pollsters have asked whether voters support 'the Bush plan on Social Security' the numbers are overwhelmingly against -- even among the youngest voters, though they tend to be more supportive than older voters.

There's a similar difference when the question is asked in context. Again, privitization polls terribly.

Point being, it's really not at all clear that young voters support privatization.

But what interested me more about the logic behind Social Security for All is that by their reasoning none of the pro-phase-out groups should exist at all. The public overwhelmingly opposes the Bush plan -- the old, the middle-aged, the young, probably even the young-at-heart, though they're harder to sample for.

So I guess that means that all the pro-phase-out groups should cease to exist for being such hypocrites.

Which phoney-baloney privatization astroturf group will be the first to drink the hemlock?

Okay, we're still working through all the information from readers about Americans for Prosperity and their astroturf offshoot, Social Security for All.

They've been assigned the task of mauling Rock the Vote because RTV has been an effective part of the coalition of groups trying to prevent the White House from phasing out Social Security.

To that end, AforP created yet another group called 'Rock The Hypocrisy' to attack Rock The Vote for being too partisan.

Now, when it comes to AforP, 'partisan' is quite a word of derogation.

Like I said, we'll have more information for you tomorrow on this. But the best we can tell Americans for Prosperty is the political arm of Koch Industries (i.e., a front) which the Koch family uses to aid conservative causes in general and stuff the Bush White House wants done in particular. (Koch Industries is a big oil, chemical and mining mega-corporation.) Folks seem to go from Koch Industries Washington lobby shop to Americans for Prosperity or back and forth from the White House on a pretty regular basis. And when you look even closer you'll see that they're all also tied in with Citizens for a Sound Economy, another spawn of the Koch family, which was essentially the predecessor of AforP.

Take Wayne Gable, for instance. He is a member of the board of directors of Americans for Prosperity. He's currently the managing director of Federal Affairs -- i.e., the lobby shop -- of Koch Industries, Inc.

Before that he was president of Citizens for a Sound Economy.

Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer is now the president of Americans for Prosperity. Before that she was the head of the lobby shop for Koch Industries. Before that she was executive vice president or Citizens for a Sound Economy.

Running AforP today must not take too much time because she's also president of the Independent Women's Forum. But it probably helps that both organizations are run out of the same office.

Look into the inner-workings of Citizens for a Sound Economy, Americans for Prosperity, the Independent Women's Forum and you'll see it's pretty hard to see where one group starts and another stops. They just all seem to lead back to Koch Industries, run by the Koch brothers.

(Bonus Koch Trivia: The father of the Koch borthers, Fred Koch, was a founder of the John Birch Society.)

As you might have expected with this new phoney-baloney Social Security group, it's one more astroturf group set up by a major corporation with close ties to the White House, spinning off more and more bogus groups to game overworked reporters into thinking they represent actual constituencies.

That, and to keep Dick Armey on the payroll for his 'consulting' services.

(ed.note: Research by Kate Cambor.)

NYTimes: "A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents. In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved."

You may remember that John Edwards got pulled into the recent flap over Howard Dean's remarks about Republicans and their ... well, work habits. Edwards has a follow-up on the whole situation in a post on the blog at his One America Committe website.

Can she tell us where she stands on phasing out Social Security?

Today Katherine Harris (R), in her continuing and remarkably rapid climb up the greasy pole of public office, announced she was running next year for the senate seat currently held by Sen. Bill Nelson (D).

Nelson has turned out to be an adamant supporter of Social Security. And you'd imagine that in Florida of all places phasing out Social Security is a salient issue.

But Harris has never given a clear answer on whether she supports phase-out or not. We have her listed in our Conscience Caucus with the FIW (Finger in the Wind) designation for her shifting positions.

I would think she'll have to stake out some clear position on phase-out now.

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