Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

In which I am put in my place ...

Dear TPM,

I think you're being unfair to suggest the President is being inconsistent with his position on the port issue. I don't see the President implying that we have to in any way respect ordinary people of Middle Eastern origin. This is a corporation we're talking about, and Bush has always held a deep respect for the rights of corporations, regardless of their background, or criminal record for that matter.


Point taken.

"I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British (sic) company. I'm trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to people of the world, we'll treat you fairly. And after careful scrutiny, we believe this deal is a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country, and at the same time, send that signal that we're willing to treat people fairly."

That was part of the president's comments today about the UAE ports deal while on board Air Force One. With his coinage of the new adjectival phrase 'Great British' you sort of wonder whether the pressure may have brought back his earlier foreign name mangling tick.

But however that may be, set aside the merits of whether it makes sense for a government owned company from the UAE to manage major ports of entry into the US. Forget about that for a moment. Doesn't the president seem ... well, a bit laughable with his new decent respect for the opinions of mankind message?

Does he wear it well? I really did chuckle when I heard him with this stuff. I mean, with racial profiling pretty much the whole world, not outsourcing our foreign policy to people with funny accents, eavesdropping without warrants because that's what tough guys need to do to get the job done, a whole foreign policy framed around the premise that the rest of the world can blow it out their $#@#&.

Even if he's right on the merits, it just doesn't work from a president who makes his political coin of the realm not caring what anybody else thinks or even what the law might be so long as security is even conceivably at stake.

This is one of those funny Bush Washington moments.

The budget cutters axed 32 jobs at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The employees were laid off two weeks ago.

But apparently no one told them that the political office at the White House had decided to make this energy independence squeeze-the-switchgrass-until-it-bleeds-gas week at the White House. And President Bush was heading over to the lab today to participate in a panel on the wonders of renewable energy.

The jobs got reinstated; the president says it was all a mix-up.

1.2 mill to stand next to a Bush? That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

The question of the day is just what the Heritage Foundation and Jack Abramoff were doing getting former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad into see President Bush.

The Malaysians are actually fairly aggressive players in the DC lobbying through sham think tanks racket. I looked under this rock for an article I wrote for the New Republic back in early 2002.

The piece ('Pacific Whim') involves a slightly different set of players. But you can get a decent sense of how that scene works.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad confirms that Jack Abramoff was paid $1.2 million to set up his meeting with President Bush.

Every GOP corruption scandal does deserve its day in the sun.

When we debuted the Grand Old Docket a couple weeks back, there were some miffed Ohioans who deplored the absence of Tom Noe, arch-Coingate malefactor. Our initial thinking was that the Docket was about the current crop of Washington public corruption scandals and that ethical implosion of the Ohio Republican party was basically a separate story.

But we decided that that wasn't quite right, especially with Noe's recent indictment on state charges. So we're going to be setting up a special Ohio sub-Docket to keep you abreast of the wasteland of public corruption that is Republican party politics in the Buckeye state.

UnionTrib: "Separated from his wife and awaiting sentencing, former congressman Randy 'Duke' Cunningham has been pulling weeds and regaining his strength at his friend Dan McKinnon's ranch in Lakeside. It isn't the first time McKinnon, 72, has saved Cunningham from himself. In Cunningham's 1984 book 'Fox Two: The Story of America's First Ace in Vietnam,' he wrote that he met McKinnon in 1973 when his life had hit 'rock-bottom.' Cunningham didn't give details. In disgrace, but not all alone McKinnon and a few of his friends encouraged Cunningham to turn his life over to God and stop the tailspin. 'They always encouraged me to face things with the Lordship of Christ in mind,' Cunningham wrote, 'rather than selfish ambition.'"

In other news, Duke supporters ask judge to remember Duke's legacy and mitigate sentence.

Last week, we ran one of our first TPMmuckraker.com Advance Copy pieces on Rep. Don Young (R) of Alaska.

In the piece, one of our two new TPMmuckraker.com hires, Paul Kiel, reported on a congressional delegation Rep. Young led to the Marshall Islands in 1999 -- a trip that was put together by none other than Jack Abramoff.

On Sunday, Paul's story got picked up in the Anchorage Daily News.

ADN reporter Liz Ruskin reported on Paul's scoop and the trip. And Young's office denied that Abramoff had anything to do with it. (Young's office failed to return repeated requests for comment from TPMmuckraker.com.)

From Ruskin's article ...

Young's office says the article is wrong and that the trip was a normal part of his work then as chairman of the House Resources Committee, which has oversight over matters involving the Marshalls and other U.S.-affiliated islands.


Young's spokesman, Grant Thompson, said Abramoff didn't help plan the congressional delegation tour, or CODEL, as they're called.

"CODELs are planned and executed as official government travel. They are planned and executed in strict compliance with the law," Thompson wrote in an e-mail in response to the Daily News' questions.

He reiterated Young's previous assertion that he has had no personal or professional relationship with Abramoff. Further, he said, Young doesn't recall ever meeting the lobbyist.

We beg to differ.

Rep. Young's office says Abramoff had nothing to do with the visit. But in September 2001, Abramoff's former law firm Preston Gates filed court documents that say otherwise. They say Abramoff organized the trip right down to the delegation's schedule when they were in the Marshall Islands.

A former Marshall Islands government official familiar with the trip disagrees with Young too.

We'll be reporting more this week on Young's trip and the discrepancies surrounding his account of it.