Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

A good place to go to dig deeper into all the questions surrounding the Church, the new Pope and what it all means for Catholics and non-Catholics alike: Commonweal magazine.

Okay, enough threatening to hold a fundraiser, here we go.

As I've mentioned several times now, we're launching a new site, TPMCafe.com, a companion site to Talking Points Memo. It will include a new group blog with an exciting list of contributors, a handful of topic-specific blogs like our Special Edition Bankruptcy Blog and discussion areas where we're going to try to facilitate more of what readers allowed us to do in tracking the Social Security debate in the first months of this year.

We're hoping to launch next month.

It will be a work-in-progress and, with your feedback, we'll make changes and let the site evolve as we go.

But we need your help to get started. Simple as that. Even small contributions go a long way. Click here to contribute.

And please accept our sincere thanks and appreciation in advance.

The video of Tuesday's topsy-turvy Bolton hearing has now been posted on the Crooks and Liars website. And, no, any apparent similarity between the nominee and the name of the site is purely coincidental.

There's a profoundly disturbing article out tonight from the AP about what appears to be a widespread climate of intolerance and even harassment of non-evangelical Christians at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. 'Widespread' is a vague word. And I'm only going on the basis of this one article -- and I'd strongly recommend reading the whole piece to decide for yourself if I'm using the correct word. But what the piece describes at least is not a matter of a few outrageous incidents but something much more pervasive.

Here's the passage that stands out to me ...

''There were people walking up to someone and basically they would get in a conversation and it would end with, `If you don't believe what I believe you are going to hell,''' Vice Commandant Col. Debra Gray said.

Critics of the academy say the sometimes-public endorsement of Christianity by high-ranking staff has contributed to a climate of fear and violates the constitutional separation of church and state at a taxpayer-supported school whose mission is to produce Air Force leaders.

They also say academy leaders are desperate to avoid the sort of uproar that came with the 2003 scandal in which dozens of women said their complaints of sexual assault were ignored.

''They are deliberately trivializing the problem so that we don't have another situation the magnitude of the sex assault scandal. It is inextricably intertwined in every aspect of the academy,'' said Mikey Weinstein of Albuquerque, N.M., a 1977 graduate who has sent two sons to the school. He said the younger, Curtis, has been called a ''filthy Jew'' many times.

The superintendent, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, conceded there was a problem during a recent meeting of the Board of Visitors, the civilian group that oversees the academy.

''The problem is people have been across the line for so many years when you try and come back in bounds, people get offended,'' he said.

The board chairman, former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, warned Rosa that changing things could prove complicated. He said evangelical Christians ''do not check their religion at the door.''

These articles are always hard to evaluate since you don't get a sense of who the 'critics' are, how many of them there are, or even some objective measure of how legitimate their beef is. Though inappropriate, a few of the other incidents mentioned in the piece don't seem in themselves to be causes of great concern. But the Rosa quote above seems to suggest that there is a very real problem. And what's with Gilmore's response?

The piece ends with this delightful passage ...

Two of the nation's most influential evangelical Christian groups, Focus on the Family and New Life Church, are headquartered in nearby Colorado Springs. Tom Minnery, an official at Focus on the Family, disputed claims that evangelical Christians are pushing an agenda at the academy, and complained that ''there is an anti-Christian bigotry developing'' at the school.

Anti-Christian bigotry. That's marvelous. <$NoAd$>Needless to say, Focus on the Family is SpongeBob persecutor and Arch-Wingnut James Dobson's outfit.

Many liberal Catholics await Benedict XVI's pontificate with dismay or even foreboding. But a dear friend calls my attention to this update on the Catholics Against Capital Punishment website which says Benedict played an "instrumental" role in strengthening the Church's opposition to capital punishment. That doesn't change the larger picture; but it adds a new dimension.

This spring students at Swarthmore College, with the support of the school's administration, started producing a webcast called War News Radio. You can see a news release about it here and visit the broadcast site here.

Swarthmore has a tradition of political activism. And the aim of the broadcast is to cover the conflict in Iraq in all its dimensions -- from interviews with ordinary Iraqis to stories on returning US soldiers and everything in between, all with an eye to catching stories the mainstream media might miss. The first broadcast, for instance, featured an interview with a young Iraqi man who works as a clerk in one of the hotels that hosts many of the foreign press reporting from Baghdad.

It's still a work in progress. And Swarthmore is looking to hire a full-time journalist (at a full-time salary) -- with at least some radio or TV experience -- to oversee the project for a year, beginning this June. Age isn't important. What they are looking for is someone who will enjoy helping students find their own voice while mentoring them in responsible journalistic practices. If you're interested or know someone who might be, you can send them an email at swarthmorewnr@yahoo.com to find out more.

A report from a TPM Reader on the <$NoAd$> Hill ...

Josh- I suspect that media reports of the hearing will clarify this point, but Hagel said he would vote Bolton out of committee, though he wasn't sure about confirming him on the floor. It was only when (much to everyone's surprise) Sen. Voinovich said that because he had missed some of the earlier hearings (he said he was chairing a subcommittee at the time), and had just learned of these allegations, that he would not vote Bolton out of committee today. Chafee sat silent through the entire hearing. Also, at some point find a good account of all the parliamentary tools Dems employed to delay the committee hearing, and how the Rs got it held anyhow (the Senate was in recess for about 3 hours today). It was a good preview of what will happen if/when we go nuclear.

I'm still quite curious to know the Voinovich backstory. Must have been some pretty engrossing subcommittee hearings if he hadn't heard about the charges leveled against Bolton.

After letting the election of Benedict XVI sink in, the first thing I was curious to know was the reaction of Hans Kung, the Catholic theologian whose life has intersected with Ratzinger's at key points for both of them.

I found this in der Spiegel ...

Hans Kung, a respected German theologian and critic of Vatican policies whose license to teach was withdrawn by the Vatican in 1979 as a result of his criticisms against church policies, said he was "disappointed" by the decision. However, he compared it to an American presidential election and said people "should allow the pope 100 days to learn."

Here's the rest of the article.

A big surprise on Bolton: Voinovich says he wants to hear more, delays the vote.

Hagel too, it turns out.

I guess that leaves someone from Rhode Island holding the water pail yet again.

Wow. Cardinal Ratzinger becomes Pope Benedict XVI. I know he was spoken of frequently as a possible, even one of the most likely successors to John Paul II. But I'm still a bit stunned to see it.