Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

From the Post, a depressing, edifying article about Fatah and Hamas.

Sometimes the key to good politics (and good policy) is simply to say out loud what your opponents are saying amongst themselves. And that's just the case with these new health care proposals the president is set to unveil in his state of the union.

I'll leave it to the good folks over at our new health care blog to get down into all the details. But the core premise of the policies the president is about to lay out is that Americans are over-insured when it comes to health insurance. Over-insured. Got too much insurance.

These aren't my words. These are the words used by the conservative policy-wonks who came up with the president's proposals. Just hop over to Google and start googling the phrase 'over insured' along with 'health' and 'conservative'. This what they think; and what the president thinks. It's why he's behind these ideas.

So the president thinks the problem is that people have too much health insurance. People are over-insured.

I don't think that's how most Americans see the problem, do you? I'm confident that they don't. Really confident.

But let's let them decide.

The president wants to make health care his political issue this year. No Democrat should open their mouth this year on this topic without first saying this: The president thinks the problem is that Americans have too much health insurance; we don't.

Health care policy is an immensely complicated issue. And that complexity can sometimes be a cover for politicians pushing policies that would screw most families. In this case, however, the president and his supporters have done everyone the favor is simplifying what they're up to and what they want to do.

The president thinks you're over-insured. He thinks you have too much health insurance.

Add water and stir ...

T-Shirt (and mug!) in the balance?

TPM Reader MM looked to be our first contest winner on the White House Abramoff Records front.

On Friday, he called up the district office of Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ), who's now running to be the new House Majority Leader, and MM asked whether Rep. Shadegg believed President Bush should release the records of all the staff meeting and White House events he attended from 2001 to 2004.

To his surprise and gratification, MM was told that Rep. Shadegg did believe the president should release the White House Abramoff records. Fit in with his stand on openness and transparency from the House leadership race.

Needless to say, MM's win seemed assured. But when I called Shadegg's district office to confirm, things broke down. I was told that I should call the congressman's DC office and speak to the press secretary. When I did that I got ... well, I got the tell-tale voicemail.

So the contest continues; but MM seems to have the inside track.

Oops. New study by non-partisan research firm says no dice to claims Jack Abramoff was steering tribal money to Dems like he was to Republicans. In fact, the study suggests opposite.

Some nuggets ...

The analysis shows that when Abramoff took on his tribal clients, the majority of them dramatically ratcheted up donations to Republicans. Meanwhile, donations to Democrats from the same clients either dropped, remained largely static or, in two cases, rose by a far smaller percentage than the ones to Republicans did. This pattern suggests that whatever money went to Democrats, rather than having been steered by Abramoff, may have largely been money the tribes would have given anyway.

and this ...

The analysis shows:

in total, the donations of Abramoff’s tribal clients to Democrats dropped by nine percent after they hired him, while their donations to Republicans more than doubled, increasing by 135 percent after they signed him up;

five out of seven of Abramoff’s tribal clients vastly favored Republican candidates over Democratic ones;

four of the seven began giving substantially more to Republicans than Democrats after he took them on;

Abramoff’s clients gave well over twice as much to Republicans than Democrats, while tribes not affiliated with Abramoff gave well over twice as much to Democrats than the GOP -- exactly the reverse pattern.

The truth is that only idiots and liars (actually, I guess the liars 'say' but don't 'believe') think the Abramoff operation was really bipartisan in any meaningful sense. But here's at least some more data points to add to the mix.

As long as we're on the topic, 76% of Americans believe that the president should cough up the White House Abramoff Records.

If your Republican member of Congress is in that 76%, the T-shirt and mug are yours! Actually, even if they're not in that 76%, they could be yours. Any straight answer will do!

Okay, time to sweeten the pot.

One brand new TPMmuckraker.com T-shirt for the first TPM Reader who gets an actual answer from their Republican member of Congress on whether they think President Bush should release the White House Abramoff Records.

Actually, scratch that, a TPMmuckraker.com T-Shirts and a mug. We're pulling out all the stops.

It doesn't matter what the answer is. They can think he should release them or that he shouldn't. We don't care. We're just looking for some clear answer.

The T-shirt, the mug and ineffable glory await the winner.

Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL), another congressman whom one of our readers can't get a straight answer from about the White House Abramoff Records.

Have you tried to get an answer from your member of Congress yet? Let us know what you hear.

Noel L. Hillman is the Chief of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Division. Both on paper and in reality he's been the one heading up the Abramoff investigation for the last two years.

He's stepping down next week because President Bush just nominated him for a federal judgeship.

So we have the obvious question. Is he being escorted aside to put a damper on the investigation?

You can draw your inferences as well as I can. But there is one bit of hard information that gives me real cause for concern.

Go back to that New Hampshire phone-jamming case we're always talking about. Until the middle of 2004, the Justice Department seemed to be doing everything it could to drag its heels on the case. There were even some fairly tangible and specific signs of political interference in the case.

Then the case was reassigned to the Public Integrity Division, under Hillman, and things changed on a dime. The prosecution become much more serious and aggressive.

Once an investigation is this far-flung, with so many career prosecutors and FBI agents involved, it's not easy to shut it down. But warning it away from the big players is by no means impossible. And I'd be much more confident in the integrity of the investigation with Hillman still at the helm than without him.

So is there reason for concern? I'd say, yes.

This is a message about TPMCafe, not TPM. But since there's so much overlap between the readerships of the two sites I wanted to post this message here too.

TPMCafe is almost eight months old.  And this weekend we're going to relaunch the site with a new design and new tools and features many of you have been asking for for months (like those much-prized threaded commments, et al.).  We're excited about the new set up and we think you'll like it too.

However, there are a few things that will happen during the switch-over and I want to cover them briefly with you now.

  1. If you're a registered user of the site, your username will remain the same.  All the posts and comments you've done will remain intact.  But you will need to get a new password.  Without going into all the nitty-gritty technical details, there was simply no good way of getting around this.  But we've made it very easy to do.  You'll be getting an email late this evening with more details.  But basically when you come to the site the first time there will be an explanation and a link to click which basically says "Send me my new password."  It's all very straightforward.  Should take you like 30 seconds, tops.  But I just want to let you know that'll be coming.

  2. If all goes according to schedule we'll do the switch-over overnight Saturday.  So the new site should be there when you log on Sunday.  But the site will be offline for several hours after midnight on Saturday night.

  3. The precise details of how you post and stuff like that will be straightforward.  But it will be a little different.  So we'll have a new FAQ prominently displayed on the front page that will walk you through anything that's not clear.

Finally, on behalf of myself and TPM Media Managing Editor Kate Cambor, I want to thank all of you for being regular readers of this site.  We know a change-over like this can take of a bit of adjusting to, finding out where a certain button or link has moved to, and so forth.  So we want to assure you that we've given a lot of time and thought to these changes and we're confident that the result will be one that is a big improvement for your experience visiting this site and the community we're working to build here.  

If you have comments or questions, please put them in the comments below.  And we'll try to answer them in subsequent House Brew posts.  

Click here to get to the comments section for this post at TPMCafe.