Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I don't want to press the point. But seeing as the meme of Bush administration incompetence really does seem to have come of age, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to flag this article from back in September 2002.

And even more this one, which deals with Mr. Cheney specifically.

What would we do without TPM Reader DK? He comes up with some of our best tips. And just now he wrote in suggesting something I've thought of many times before: a contest for the most audaciously egregious name for an astroturf group. So, you know, the Albert Schweitzer Society, a pro-pharma group trying to prevent any law cost drugs from getting to Africa. Or maybe Americans for the Future, anti-estate tax lobby. Anyway, DK writes in with this gem: Oregonians for Food and Shelter. They seem to be a pro-pesticide group.

Seems like there's a pretty good case to be made that Rep. Doolittle (R-CA) broke the law with his wife's campaign contribution skimming scam.

Destined for a scrub?

Yesterday, retired Major General Paul Eaton, who was in charge of training the post-Saddam Iraqi Army from 2003 to 2004, wrote a devastating oped column on Sec. Def. Don Rumsfeld.

Here's a glowing article about Eaton still up on defendamerica.mil, the DOD's war on terrorism website.

Ahhh, say it ain't so. McCain hires DeLay money-laundering accomplice as "senior advisor" to his Straight Talk America PAC.

As I mentioned last week, this week at TPMCafe Book Club author Kevin Phillips is joining us to discuss his new book American Theocracy. Phillips just got the ball rolling with his first post discussing how and why he wrote the book.

His first paragraph reads ...

My underlying thesis in American Theocracy is that these are the three major perils of the United States in the early 21st century. First, radical religion – this encompasses everything from the Pat Robertson-Jerry Falwell types to the attacks on medicine and science and the Left Behind books with their End Times and Armageddon scenarios. Second, oil dependence – oil was essential to 20th century U.S. hegemony, and its growing scarcity and cost could play havoc. And third, debt is becoming a national weakness – indeed, the “borrowing” industry in the U.S. has grown so rapidly that finance has displaced manufacturing as the leading U.S. sector.

Read the rest here.

Still more details on the personal cut the Doolittles -- Julie and Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) -- were taking from political contributions to his campaigns as well as from various Abramoff front groups.

Short version: It wasn't just money from Brent Wilkes.

Is Rep. John Doolittle's (R-CA) free ride in the Cunningham-Wade-Wilkes scandal coming to an end? I think it might be.

There are a slew of members of Congress that Brent Wilkes (the ur-Cunningham briber) had his hooks firmly implanted in. In each case, however, the key is finding the nexus of personal enrichment. In other words, there are thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. But were there personal pay-offs -- direct or indirect. That question got answered in spades with Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who had gifts, houses, boats, personal checks and a bunch of other stuff.

Well, this piece in the San Diego Union Tribune today gets us close to Cunningham territory.

A number of members of Congress have spouses on the payroll. But the Doolittles, well ... they did a lot. Julie Doolittle had a political consultancy and she worked on commission raising money for Doolittle's campaign and political action committee.

Now, let's take out the ethico-criminal magnifying glass and look closely at what that means. As the article, makes clear, Julie had no fundraising experience prior to starting her consultancy. She also didn't seem to do any actual fundraising. What this meant was that every time someone gave Doolittle money, Julie and John personally got a 15% taste of the cash.

So, for instance, the Wilkes crew gave Doolittle's campaigns $118,000. And according to the Union-Tribune's investigation, the Doolittle's got at least $14,400 of that personally.

Now, you might say, if Julie Doolittle was a professional fundraiser, and why should she be barred from working for her husband's campaigns. But then Julie Doolittle wasn't a fundraiser.

Julie Doolittle's Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, launched in March 2001, right after Doolittle got his seat on the Appropriations Committee. In other words, right after he got in a position to hand out federal contracts in a big way. SDFS has no phone number, no website and no employees except for Julie Doolittle. Prior to opening the firm she seems to have had no experience doing fundraising.

But what of her other clients, you ask?

The Union-Tribune found three. What were they?

Well, one was Greenberg-Traurig, Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm. The second was Signatures, Jack Abramoff's restaurant. The third was the Korea-US Exchange Council, a front group run by erstwhile Abramoff associate Ed Buckham, Tom DeLay's former Chief of Staff and head of Alexander Strategy Group, which closed down recently so the principals can focus on their legal defenses.

So Julie Doolittle's 'fundraising consultancy' drew a cut for the Doolittles for every dollar of campaign money she claimed credit for raising. Her other clients were either Jack Abramoff or front groups related to Jack Abramoff.

This seem fishy to you?

Here's the question. What was the total income Julie Doolittle was making in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005?

Matt Yglesias has a post over at TPMCafe in which he takes issue with, among other things, Harry Reid's recent claim that President Bush is "the worst president this country has ever had." Matt thinks that Bush is really bad, but perhaps not really in the running for worst ever.

Matt runs through the list of blunders and disasters, finding, not surprisingly, the Iraq War to be the preeminent screw-up.

But one thing surprised me when reading Matt's catalogue of errors and his arguments about whether they get you to 'worst ever' status: Matt doesn't mention fiscal policy.

Matt's post isn't meant to be exhaustive on the subject. So I'm not picking on him. But I'm curious how much this factors in people's minds.

To me, the wreck the president has made of the country's finances is at least arguably the biggest disaster of his administration. I think I'd still say Iraq comes out ahead because of the toll in lives and because of the degree to which it has set loose forces beyond our control. Still, though, the president's reckless and disastrous fiscal policy almost alone would put him into the grand anti-Pantheon of presidential failures.

We'll be living with the consequences for decades.

Okay, the 3rd anniversary of the Iraq War is a grave and solemn occasion, whether you're a diehard supporter or opponent.

But allow me this moment of levity.

I've cropped this from this page on the CNN website. But the image of a young protestor in London is on various websites around the world reporting on the global protests of the third anniversary of the war. Drudge even has it up on the front page.

But look closely at the symbol on her face. Is it peace she's supporting? Or is this just some crafty Mercedes-Benz product placement?

(ed.note: Click the 'peace' and 'Mercedes-Benz' links for help interpreting. Special thanks to TPM Reader PI.