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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

A new Democracy Corps strategy memo from Stan Greenberg and James Carville.

The intro ... "Six months out from the election, the race for president has entered a new and distinct phase with Bush not only endangered, as we suggested earlier, but now with the odds against him. He is more likely to lose than win. Public confidence has collapsed on Iraq, but there is a lot of collateral damage, producing a strong desire for change. Whether it is the vote or job approval or personal favorability, Bush has become a 47 percent president at best. In almost every area, he is being dragged down by even stronger negative trends. Put simply by the voters themselves: just 42 percent want the country to continue in Bush’s direction."

Run it by M?

From today's <$NoAd$> Times ...

In one of several cases in which an Iraqi prisoner died at Abu Ghraib in connection with interrogations, a hooded man identified only by his last name, Jamadi, slumped over dead on Nov. 20 as he was being questioned by a C.I.A. officer and translator, intelligence officials said. The incident is being investigated by the C.I.A.'s inspector general, and military officials have said that the man, whose body was later packed in ice and photographed at Abu Ghraib, had never been assigned a prisoner number, an indication that he had never been included on any official roster at the prison.

The memorandum criticizing the practice of keeping prisoners off the roster was signed by Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, and a James Bond, who is identified as "SOS, Agent in Charge." Military and intelligence officials said that they did not know of a Mr. Bond who had been assigned to Abu Ghraib, and that it was possible that the name was an alias.

An intelligence official said Monday that he could not confirm the authenticity of the document, and that neither "SOS" or "Agent in Charge" was terminology that the C.I.A. or any other American intelligence agency would use. A military official said he believed that the document was authentic and was issued on or about Jan. 12, two days before abuses at Abu Ghraib involving military police were brought to the attention of Army investigators.


Isn't that Feith's nom de guerre when he's in the field? I need to make some calls on that.

I saw Sen. Mitch McConnell tonight marvelling that so much will be accomplished in "a thousand days" in Iraq. He went on to compare this with the twelve years it took the Americans to get their affairs in order after the American Revolution, noting how much turmoil and chaos there was in the thirteen states in those days and thus, by comparison, how little historical sensibility Americans have today in their overly critical judgment of the progress in Iraq.

This is truly becoming almost a slur against our own history. After the conclusion of peace with the British there was almost a complete lack of political violence in the colonies. Disequilibrium, yes. A threat of rebellion in one state? Yes. But one that never really came off. Compared to what we are seeing today in Iraq, the creation of the federal constitution came about in a period of extreme quiescence.

No analogies are perfect, certainly. But if there is anything from the late eighteenth century comparable to the current situation in Iraq it is not the American Revolution but the French Revolution, with legitimacy and the sinews of society in a losing battle with a widening gyre of violence.

The 41% approval for President Bush in the CBS poll is pretty bad. But I hear the internals -- the details of the poll -- are even worse.

Down into Daddy territory. The president's approval rating is down to 41%, according to a just released CBS News poll.

WWLD: What would Lyndon do?

Lloyd Bentsen, bringing it all together with full Texasosity and history, could probably answer the above best.

Newsday, which continues to be one of the two best papers on the entire Iraq-intel story (along with related matters), has a new article out this morning following up on the Chalabi revelations and his multiple appearances yesterday on the Sunday talk shows.

But the big story is contained in this sentence: "An intelligence source confirmed to Newsday reports in Time and Newsweek that the FBI had launched an investigation into who in the administration had passed the classified material to his Iraqi National Congress."

Perhaps we'll find out that Chalabi got his classified info from some obscure analyst at DIA or a Colonel in the field. But both of those possibilities seem highly unlikely.

Chalabi's interlocutors in the US government were a fairly small and well-known group, stacked heavily toward the top of the totem pole and very much on the appointive, civilian side -- start with the acronyms OSD and OVP. For those who know the nature of the relationship it would, quite frankly, be hard to imagine that they weren't sharing highly sensitive information with him.

If one of those guys gets pegged for giving Chalabi info that later ended up in the hands of Iranian intelligence, everything up till now will seem like it was a breeze.

One of many noteworthy tidbits contained in Time's new piece on the fall of Chalabi ...

Aras Karim is the fugitive ex-intelligence chief for Ahmed Chalabi. He's the one accused of being an Iranian agent.

According to Time, he has now relocated to Tehran.

This article in the Times suggests that the uranium which Libya turned over to the US in January may have come from North Korea rather than Pakistan, an ominous development, if true.

Finally, finally, the president has decided to confront <$NoAd$>the root problem in our troubled occupation of Iraq: the spin deficit.

From Robin Wright's front page piece in tomorrow's Post ...

President Bush will launch an ambitious campaign tomorrow night to shift attention from recent setbacks that have eroded domestic and international support for U.S. policy in Iraq, particularly the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the escalating violence, and focus instead on the future of post-occupation Iraq.

The president will open a tightly orchestrated public relations effort in a speech at the Army War College outlining U.S. plans for the critical five weeks before the transfer of political power June 30.


Along related lines, I can't help but wonder whether the spill the president took from his bicycle today won't become iconic in the same way that the state dinner the first President Bush attended in Tokyo on January 8th 1992 in which he collapsed into the arms of, and then vomited on, Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa became a symbol of his then-faltering presidency.

Drudge reported the following about John Kerry's alleged response ...

Kerry told reporters in front of cameras, 'Did the training wheels fall off?'... Reporters are debating whether to treat it is as on or off the record... Developing...


Let me translate this: Off the record John Kerry quipped "Did the training wheels fall off?" But the quote was so good that several reporters couldn't resist and passed it on to Drudge.

Bad politics? Maybe.

But I have to admit that it made me laugh and think of these two grafs from a post from Thursday afternoon ...

According to several participants, President Bush told Republicans that the Iraqis are ready to "take the training wheels off" by assuming power.

That's a bit of a condescending thing to say about a country which encompasses what is generally considered to be the cradle of civilization. But the thought that an extra set of training wheels may now be available prompts the question of whether the Iraqis might be willing to hand their pair off to the White House.


On the other hand, giving it more thought, perhaps what he needs is not so much a pair of training wheels as a set of brakes ...

So how about the reader survey? We're still slicing and dicing the numbers in different ways. But I wanted to share some of the highlights.

We had a lot of respondents (20,708) and we left the survey open for twenty-four hours on a week day. So I think we got a pretty good sample of our audience and good coverage of different readers who visit at different times of the day.

First, the number that, I have to confess, left me a touch chagrined: 81% of TPM readers are men.

(By the way, on all these numbers, I'm rounding to the closest whole number -- the exact figure was 80.82%).

Now, not only are you mainly male. But you're also, well ... pretty rich.

Here are the income figures ...

$200,000 or more = 7% $150,000 to $199,999 = 7% $100,000 to $149,999 = 20% $75,000 to $99,999 = 18% $50,000 to $74,999 = 19% $25,000 to $49,999 = 16% Under $25,000 = 7% Rather not respond = 6%

Pretty well educated too. 85% of our readers have a college degree. And 46% have an advanced degree.

The age spread seemed pretty unsurprising to me ...

75 and older = 1% 65-74 = 4% 55-64 = 14% 45-54 = 25% 35-44 = 26% 25-34 = 24% 21-24 = 4% 18-21 = 1% 0-18 = 0.17%

Now, the one question that people wrote in and complained about was the one that asked people to characterize themselves politically. And the complaint in almost every case was that they weren't given enough flavors on the leftward side of the spectrum to choose a designation that fit them. The options were Liberal, Moderate, New Democrat, Independant, Libertarian, Conservative, and Neo-Conservative.

Lots of people wrote in saying they wanted to be able to choose "progressive", though in a sign of how complicated this political designation issue is, it was clear that some of those people meant 'progressive' as a designation to the left of 'liberal' and others meant it as a designation to the right of 'liberal'.

Others simply wanted to be able to call themselves Democrats or Republicans, rather than define themselves in terms of ideology. Not a few complained that the menu of options left no choice for those who defined themselves to the left of liberal. And at least one reader wrote in to tell me that since I clearly meant to demean those to the left of liberal he was removing TPM from his 'favorites' list. (Yeah, it's a tough business running a center-left website!)

In any case, there was no great thought, to be candid, that went into choosing these designations. And the point of the exercise was not reader self-expression. What we were trying to find out was the answer to a question people often ask about this and other related sites -- Is the audience just made up of people who, on balance, agree with my views or is it more diverse? Is it just preaching to the choir? We started with Liberal/Moderate/Conservative and then added from there in a pretty arbitrary fashion.

In any case, here were the answers, from the choices given above, 60% chose "Liberal" while another 35% chose "Moderate" (12%), "New Democrat" (12%) or "Independent" (11%).

Responses to the other choices were negligible: "Libertarian" 2%, "Conservative" 1%, "Neo-Conservative" .28%.

Remember, in all but the last instance I'm rounding off.

Those numbers basically make sense to me, since they range across the center-left spectrum. Cross-referencing these numbers with the income numbers, I guess we could say that TPM has a high percentages of readers who aren't "paying their fair share" and know it -- a little Clintonian humor there.

In any case, the responses confirmed to me that the site's readers are measurably, though not markedly, more to the left than I am.

I suspect that there was a sample bias on the rightward side of the spectrum since self-identified Conservatives probably have an antagonistic feeling towards the site. And thus, I think, they were probably less inclined to give us time to help the site by completing the survey. But that's just a surmise. You have the hard data in front of you and can make your own judgment.

92% of readers live in the United States. And of those, the responses were fairly evenly spread out over the country. I haven't looked too closely at these numbers yet -- and we did it by zip code so we'll eventually be able to look down very specifically into urban/suburban/rural divisions, etc. -- but a brief look shows some clear red state/blue state division, but not a stark one. So for instance, 17% of our American readers are from California, 10% from New York, 6% from Texas.

83% of our readers have "donated money to a political campaign, party committee or non-profit organization." 81% have bought a book online in the last six months; 70% have made travel arrangements online over that same time period, etc.

Finally, the five top professional categories were ...

Computer / IT = 16% Education (includes students) = 15% Other = 11% Lawyer = 8% Media / Publishing / Entertainment = 7%

2.5%, 509 respondents, classified themselves as "journalists".

We'll eventually put all this together in a more systematic fashion. But, as I said, those are some of the highlights.

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