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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

The Times has a piece in tomorrow's paper about "more than 2,000 pages of [Harriet Miers'] official correspondence and personal notes made public on Monday by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in response to open-records requests."

Honestly? A lot of it sounds like that Harriet Miers parody blog everyone's been linking to.

"You are the best governor ever - deserving of great respect."

Recently, conflicts, or supposed conflicts between science and religious belief have again and again taken center stage in our public debates -- from Terri Shiavo to stem cell research, "intelligent design" to the Supreme Court confirmation hearings and the topic of abortion which seems so often the all-pervading subtext. So over at TPMCafe, we're having "Faith and Science Week."

At Table for One, we'll be joined by Dr. Jeremy Gunn, director of the ACLU's Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. Dr. Gunn will be discussing the on-going Dover case and the public debate on the teaching of evolution and so-called 'Intelligent Design.'

And at the Book Club, author Chris Mooney is discussing his new book, The Republican War on Science.

A few days back we posted this list of congressional staffers who got tickets to watch professional wrestling at one of Jack Abramoff's skyboxes back on October 2nd, 2000.

One of the worthies on the list was Mark Graul, then Chief of Staff to Representative Mark Green (R) of Wisconsin.

Green is now running for Governor. And Graul is his Campaign Manager.

I know this because a Wisconsin political blog has picked up our story and asked Graul what the deal was.

And Graul denied the whole thing.

Wisopinion.com reports that Graul said he did not attend said wrestling smackdown in the Abramoff skybox and: "I've never met Jack Abramoff in my life. He could come up and punch me in the face and I wouldn't know. I don't know why I'm on that list."

Now, do we have proof that Graul showed up at the skybox that night?

No.

What we have are Team Abramoff emails saying he was one of the lucky Hill staffers who they gave tickets to. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Now, I noticed that Graul didn't deny he and his boss were on the Abramoff gravy train. He just said he didn't go to the skybox that night and that he's never met Abramoff -- presumably meaning he never met him in person.

So I looked back through the emails to see if Graul shows up on other occasions. And it turns out that his name shows up in the Team Abramoff emails getting skybox seats again and again.

So for instance on January 12th, 2000 Team Abramoff's Jennifer Calvert emailed Susan Ralston to get Mark tickets to see the Wizards-Bucks game on February 22nd.

"May I get four tickets to this game for Mark Graul, COS for Rep. Green? If that works, I'd like to get two for myself as well, to host Mark. Thanks."

"Ok w/Jack" Ralston wrote back the following morning.

A month later, Calvert got Graul two tickets for the upcoming Wizards-Suns game.

Graul wasn't just up for basketball games and wrestling either. In November we see Calvert putting him in for two tickets to see Limp Bizkit, Godsmack and DMX at the MCI Center. ("I'll add [them] to the list. Will confirm shortly," Ralston replied.)

I won't bore you with all the examples of Graul partying it up on Jack Abramoff's dime. And it wasn't like he got tickets every time he asked.

For instance, here on November 28th, 2000 Calvert wrote again to Ralston and Abramoff with another Mark Graul request.

"I got a request from Mark Graul, COS for Rep. Green, for tickets for the NBA all star game and the dunk contest that is apparently going to be at the MCI Center in early February. Can we honor his request? I'd also like to request 2 more tickets for a big basketball fan, Byron Patterson with Representative Don Young."

This time Jack left Mark hanging.

Abramoff himself wrote back: "We don't know yet what we are going to do with the suite that night. Put him on the list and we'll figure it out."

Who knows how that one worked out. But it sure seems like Graul was a regular with Team Abramoff.

As we've been discussing Ronnie Earle's case against Tom DeLay in Texas, many have asked why it is that the RNC appears in the indictment as a party to the money-laundering but not as a target of the indictment itself. Good question. And in that particular case I have no inside knowledge of why that would be so. But there are a number of different criminal investigations now underway connected to Republican pols in different parts of the country. And we should be aware that several of them are becoming connected in ways that are not yet clear.

Take, for instance, the 2002 New Hampshire election tampering case which has been dragging on now for almost three years. The former Executive Director of the New Hampshire Republican party and Republican political consultant Allen Raymond have already taken pleas and gone to prison. James Tobin, who then worked as the Northeast political director for Bill Frist's National Republican Senatorial Committee and the RNC, is now awaiting trial for his role in the scheme.

Through the life of the case, Justice Department lawyers have never seemed in a particular hurry to move the case along or to work it higher up the food chain of those who might have been involved. But that now appears to be changing.

For the duration of the case, the prosecution had been in the hands of Todd Hinnen, a Justice Department prosecutor from the Criminal Division's Computer Crimes Section. At the end of July, however, Hinnen was pulled from the case and reassigned. He's now reportedly working on cyberterrorism issues at the White House.

At the time, observers in New Hampshire thought this might be another example of the DOJ's lack of total commitment to the case. After two and half years, and just before the big trial, they were pulling the lead attorney from the case and starting over with someone new.

But the opposite now seems to have been the case.

Hinnen was replaced by another attorney from the Criminal Division's Computer Crimes Division and, significantly, an attorney from the Public Integrity section. That is, after all, what you'd expect in a case that is about political corruption. The tempo and zeal of the investigation appears to have picked up since the reassignment. And there is reason to believe that the new vigor behind the prosecution and the assignment of a Public Integrity section lawyer to the case has come about because the New Hampshire case has become tied to the ever-expanding Abramoff investigation.

I don't much like to flack for the Times new behind-the-curtain content. But Sunday's Frank Rich column is really good, as all of his stuff has been of late on the unravelling of the Bush presidency.

Two points grabbed my attention.

He hits on the tight connection in everything we're seeing between incompetence, state mendacity and incipient authoritarianism. They're not paradoxically or counter-intuitively combined. The connection is natural and self-reinforcing.

Also on the point of Harriet Miers. Something has happened here on the right that cannot be explained simply by Miers' unfitness for the job. Not after all we've seen over going on five years. The president has lost his credibility with them too.

On Friday I asked who would put down odds on whether Miers would ever make it on to the court. It wasn't a rhetorical question. I asked in genuine curiosity. But many readers wrote in shocked that I would even seriously suggest the possibility that this may prove a failed nomination.

I have no idea whether Miers will be seated. If I had to bet I guess I'd bet on her squeaking through. But for me it's like one of those questions or future unknowns where I really have a difficult time imagining either possibility, though one must happen.

As the US has trundled down into the status of fiscal basket case over the last few years, that much-vaunted Republican fiscal discipline has been the dog which has never barked. A few meaningless remarks, the occasional hand-wringing from a conservative columnist. At the end of the day though every part of American conservatism has saluted and enabled the infamy.

But something is different here. Besides James Dobson this nomination has no supporters outside of the senate and the White House. And the conservative opposition isn't just opposing, it's contemptuous -- and critical in ways that mimic the long-expressed criticism from the other side of the aisle.

Nominations can have dynamics similar to those of political scandals.

We tend to think that the real key to a scandalee's fate is how many mobilize against him or her. Usually, though, the key issue is whether and how quickly they can find some committed group to mount a defense. If that happens, and quickly, a scandal equilibrium can be reached, and an embattled pol can often withstand merciless attacks and revelations. With no true base of support, however, a career can rapidly collapse even if the opposition itself isn't all that intense.

Miers' nomination could fail in a similar way.

Sure, only a few Republican senators have expressed serious misgivings. But who is it exactly, either in or out of the senate, who is going to fight hard for this nominee? What argument are those senators going to make on the floor? That the country needs Harriet Miers on the Court? That the criticisms of her nomination are frivolous?

John Bolton is a revealing counterpoint. Democrats were universally opposed. Privately, a great number of Republican senators would have preferred the nomination had never been made. But the nomination had a core of zealous supporters on and off the Hill. The misgivings of the moderates and the institutionalists in the senate paled in comparison to the intensity of his supporters.

Once again, I'm not saying Miers' nomination will fail. I'm not predicting it. I am simply saying that her bid could be defeated, not because opposition is so widespread or intense, but because I have real doubts that she or the White House will be able to find forces to mobilize a spirited defense.

Many of us have had a hard time crediting the claim that Judy Miller had any more reason to believe Scooter Libby's second voluntary waiver of privilege was any more 'voluntary' than his first one. And now, it seems, we have some tangible evidence to back up that suspicion.

According to a story out this afternoon from Reuters, Libby "got a push from a prosecutor before telling New York Times reporter Judith Miller that he wanted her to testify."

The article describes the particulars. But, in sum, Patrick Fitzgerald contacted Libby's lawyer and said he'd really "welcome" Libby giving Miller yet another waiver, with the case coming to a close and all.

One can't really blame Fitzgerald. It's the prosecutors job after all to squeeze these guys and get all the information he can using the looming threat of indictment to secure as much assistance as possible.

So Fitzgerald you can understand. And Libby too. After all, by all accounts he's looking at a felony indictment coming down the pike. So you try to be as helpful as you can to the guy who has your fate in his hands.

But what about Miller? Her claim that she didn't crack now seems, well ... like a crock. This 'voluntary' doesn't seem any different from the first 'voluntary'. And 'voluntary' has, of course, a withered meaning when it's the prosecutor calling for volunteers.

It seems a lot more like she just got tired of sitting in jail.

Or, some other jeopardy not yet spelled out made her give up the game.

Department of wonderfully fortuitous note-keeping ...

New York Times reporter Judith Miller discovered notes from an earlier conversation she had with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and turned them over the prosecutor investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity, legal sources said on Friday.


Judy, Judy, Judy ...

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