Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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A reader adds a point about FISA ...

The constant invocation of the practices of pre-FISA presidents is an incredibly important legal and constitutional point. If the president has the inherent authority to conduct surveillance, FISA might be unconstitutional. The main issue is whether Congress was able to limit this supposedly inherent authority with its enactment of FISA. Thus, the pre-FISA presidential precedent becomes an important issue.

Alberto Gonzales says that the president's warrantless wiretapping program is constitutional, necessary and legal.

I can see where it may be constitutional, though that seems debateable. It might conceiveably also be 'necessary', though that's a malleable term and it's a difficult one to judge as long as the president won't allow any oversight of what he's doing. But it does seem to be clearly illegal. There simply does not appear to be any real question about that. The FISA law appears to speak directly to the facts at hand.

The law might be a bad one. Perhaps it should be revised or repealed. But it's not voluntary.

And in this post Kevin Drum hits on a key point ...

I'm also more tired than you can imagine of his constant invocation of presidents from Washington to Roosevelt who authorized warrantless surveillance in wartime. All of that happened before FISA was passed in 1978 and is completely meaningless. And he knows it.

Kevin doesn't fully unpack what I suspect he's getting at here. The argument to history that Gonzales is attempting isn't just off point. It's typical of the administration's basic way of operating with the public -- conscious misdirection and flimflam. You can't make this argument unless your intent is to confuse the issue and avoid the issue of whether the president has to follow the law.

McClellan reading TPM, but not that closely?

From today's press briefing (emphasis added) ...

Go ahead, Victoria.

Q Scott, there have been various reports that photographs of the President with Jack Abramoff have disappeared from the archives of photographic studios, at least one. Could you tell us whether the White House or anyone working at the White House's behest has taken any steps to remove any photographs that the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know anything about that. I think that I saw some story where the very company that you're mentioning said otherwise. So I think you ought to see what they said.

Q They acknowledged that the photographs had disappeared from their work site.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think they said something other than that.

The reference, of course, is to our story about the Abramoff-Bush photos that were scrubbed from the website of Reflections Photography, the DC photo studio that specializes in campaign and political event photography for the Republican party.

Just for the record, please note that McClellan declined to answer the question of whether the White House instructed Reflections Photography to scrub its website of Abramoff-Bush photos.

If he coulda, he woulda, one would imagine.

A number of news sources seem to be referring to the president's budget as a deficit-cutting plan. But the huge tax cuts included in it must massively off-set the spending cuts, right? So really it's a deficit increasing plan.

Okay, just file this under the consumer reporting division of TPM Media. You've been sending us your horror stories (okay, pain in the ass stories) about IKEA. And it does seem like it's a fairly common occurrence that IKEA just forgets to process your order after you've made it. So it just never comes.

LM from outside Chicago says "Yep, same thing happened to us. Placed a $3000 kitchen cabinet order at the Schaumberg (Chicago) store. Called 3 weeks later to find out when the truck should be there to pick them up. Oops. Forgot to process the credit card payment! That’ll be another 3-4 weeks, then."

For TPM Reader JV it was even worse: "Long story short, they processed my order but forgot to charge me shipping. As I’m sure you realize, IKEA tends to ship large things, but back then (and maybe still) they didn’t really know HOW to ship large things. So after waiting a week after taking the order, my IKEA rep called back, left a message on our voicemail that said something to the effect of "Oh, we forgot shipping. That’ll be another $700 because it has to all go freight. [click]"

At least DC found out there was a problem after three days:

I had the exact same thing happen to me a few months back with a bookshelf for my office. I ordered it online; was alerted that my order would be confirmed by an email which never came; and then when I called 3-4 days later, was told that it never processed. They obviously have something seriously wrong with their e-commerce and logistics operations."

At the end of the day though even we're in better shape than MT ... "I have my ongoing Ikea story going on now. Perhaps you're not interested in every detail, but it's a chance for me to vent. (There's a happy ending -- no thanks to Ikea -- so be sure to read the last part of the message.) I'm trying to get a long table for my kitchen. First, at the store, the table was out of stock, but coming in. I found out online a couple of weeks later that they have it. (Of course, finding anything online is an adventure in itself, their website is such a mess.) It's a bit too long to take home in my car. So: Started to order it online. They can't tell you shipping and tax before you hit "confirm" -- they say an Ikea associate will be in touch w/you w/in 1-2 days (I think) to firm it all up. So, I decided to call and get the information before I bought. On hold, several times, for upwards of 20 minutes. Forget it. I emailed - their autoresponse said I'd hear back in 5-10 business days. Finally went ahead and ordered it via the net - was told, only after hitting "confirm," that they wouldn't charge my credit card until my ok to shipping/tax charges. However, due to high volume, that would take a while -- 3-5 business days? Or maybe it was 5-10? Meanwhile, they finally answered my original email about the shipping charges -- and told me they couldn't tell me. Told me to call their shipping department -- another 800 number. (Couldn't they have called the shipping department for me?) Then, today, I hear about my online order -- due to a technical malfunction they couldn't complete it; would I please call. Of course, they give me the same number at which they put you on hold until you don't need the furniture anyway, because in the meantime your kids have grown up and your puppy has died of old age. Unbelievable.

It just gets better and better. But keep your stories coming because they ease the agony and sorrow (that strange mix of discomfort and ennui) of sitting on the floor for us. Meanwhile, we'll get back to the political fare.

This is nice. The OMB has a fact sheet up at the government website touting all the things "the administration" has done since 2001.

There's "Began a major reorganization of the Army ground forces, known as Modularity, to increase the number of combat brigades and improve their mobility, flexibility, and capability to operate autonomously." Okay, fair enough.

And there's "Raised servicemembers’ pay by about 25 percent and enhanced special pays and bonuses to improve recruiting and retention;" Okay, maybe debatable in context. But, sure, give them that too.

And then there's this one: "Liberated nearly 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan;"


"The administration" pulled that one off? Wasn't that like "the USA" or maybe "the US military". Heck, no love for "the coalition of the willing" even?

I guess a lot of small businessmen want to crack down on onerous taxes and government regulation. Me? I'd be more than satisfied just to crack down on IKEA. Maybe vote them out of office entirely.

As many of you know, we've been expanding here at TPM. And we even have our own new offices where we're working from.

So here I am, sitting cross-legged on the floor with my laptop. And there across from me, against the other wall, is Paul Kiel (author of the renowned Daily Muck), sitting on the floor cross-legged with his laptop. And there's Josh Hudelson, our new intern, doing exactly the same over to my right. (Kate Cambor is at lunch.)

Now, you may say, something doesn't quite fit. Right! Where's the furniture? That's just what I was thinking!

We were guaranteed delivery of all our TPM desks and shelves by no later than tomorrow. But when I called this morning to find out what was going on, since they hadn't called us yet with the exact delivery time, I was informed that they'd, well ... pretty much forgotten to process the order. Oops.

(I'd heard that their ability to ship things was a bit less than top-notch. But I didn't know it would be quite this bad. You have an IKEA goof story? Let us know. And if you're waiting for your IKEA furniture to be delivered, by all means, call right now and make sure they didn't forget you ordered it.)

In any case, if the posts today have a particularly 'ground-level' feel to them, well, you'll know why.

A few days ago, when we launched the Grand Ole Docket, many of you noticed that for several of the malefactors we had included a no picture available icon instead of the pictures of the guys themselves. In response a number of you pointed out that there were actually a number of pictures you can find of like John Colyandro or Jim Ellis (DeLay associates indicted in Texas).

The issue, though, wasn't that we couldn't find images. It was that we either couldn't or hadn't yet acquired rights to republish them. But no more.

One thing we decided to do was get mug shots of the folks who'd already been indicted.

John Colyandro
DeLay Associate
Indicted in Texas

Jim Ellis
DeLay Associate
Indicted in Texas

So here for instance, here are the photos of John Coyandro and Jim Ellis, both DeLay associates tied up in the Texas corporate money laudering scheme that toppled Tom DeLay from the pinnacle of the House leadership.

We'll be updating the Docket later today.

TPM Reader RS: "It might be instructive to remember the reactions to "Piss Christ," Andres Serrano's photograph of a crucifix in a glass of urine. NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, no friend of civil rights, tried to get it removed from a display at the tax-supported Brooklyn Museum. The arts and civil liberties community rose up in opposition and "Piss Christ" stayed. Giuliani didn't try to prevent the work from being displayed at all, he only said taxpayer's money shouldn't support its display, a distinction lost on many. And of course, there was no violence."

TPM Reader CZ: "My first reaction was to the violence and the sense that the Muslim world needs to understand what a free press means. But as I reflect on it more, I think one of the greatest weaknesses of our western societies (currently so wedded to capitalism and sensationalism) is the belief that nothing is sacred. So, of course, I repudiate Muslim violence. But I'm also put off by the cavilier attitude the Danish newspaper showed in publishing the cartoons."