Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Why did President Bush get Tommy Franks working on Iraq war planning while bin Laden was still holed up at Tora Bora?

Good question. But here's an helpful timeline.

Normally I'd be very skeptical of an article like this one: "Exclusive: Bush Wanted To Invade Iraq If Elected in 2000." According to the article, President Bush was mulling the political benefits of invading Iraq as long ago as 1999.

The second graf of the piece reads ...

“He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

As I said, I'd be skeptical.

But Herskowitz is <$Ad$>a storied sports columnist for the Houston Chronicle. He's a Bush family friend. He's co-written numerous 'as-told-to' autobiographies for a slew of famous folks.

He was hired to co-author President Bush's campaign autobiography A Charge to Keep. And even after there were some bumps in the road in that process, the president's father asked Herskowitz to write a biography of his father -- i.e., Prescott Bush, which he did (see Duty, Honor, Country: The Life and Legacy of Prescott Bush, 2003).

On top of that, the author of the piece, Russ Baker, is a journalist with an excellent reputation.

For both those reasons, what's contained in the piece is hard to dismiss. It ain't pretty. And, honestly, it fits the profile.

In such a high-octane moment, this story probably won't get much attention. But maybe spare it a minute or 90 seconds. Labor Department staffers were asked to prepare a memo analyzing current economic and political factors and whether they augured a victory on Tuesday for President Bush.

"Nearly every single model has him winning," exult the authors of the memo at one point, according to the Associated Press.

It gives you a sense of the culture of the place under the current crew.

The voter suppression drive comes <$NoAd$>into clear view (emphasis added) ...

Citing a new list of more than 37,000 questionable addresses, the state Republican Party demanded Saturday that Milwaukee city officials require identification from all of those voters Tuesday.

If the city doesn't, the party says it is prepared to have volunteers challenge each individual - including thousands who might be missing an apartment number on their registration - at the polls.

The move, which dramatically escalates the party's claims of bad addresses and potential fraud, was condemned by Democrats as a last-minute effort to suppress turnout in the city by creating long delays at the polls.

That's from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Quite apart from the political swirl and controversy over the new OBL tape, the analysis discussed in this article in the LA Times strikes me as on the mark and an intriguing explanation for some of the weirdly non-bin-Laden-like things said on the tape. It's worth a read.

More from the <$NoAd$>field ...

Local and national GOP officials are distancing themselves from a Washington, D.C.-based college Republican group that has used aggressive and misleading tactics to raise millions of dollars from elderly people.


The Herald-Sun reported Thursday that the College Republican National Committee has received at least 87 percent of its North Carolina donations from people who list their occupation as retired. Most of those contacted by The Herald-Sun were in their 80s.

This campaign season, the CRNC has raised more than $6.3 million nationally, putting it in the top 15 political groups tracked by the IRS. The group raised $93,280 in North Carolina.

Because the CRNC solicits under different names, such as the National Republican Task Force and the National Republican Victory Campaign, many seniors have donated to the group repeatedly, often several times in a single day or week. Many had made more than 50 donations since January, sometimes totaling thousands of dollars.

When asked about their giving, many of them had little understanding of how much they had donated or where their money was going. The group's high-pressure mailings, which often play on senior citizens' emotions, suggest that the money would help re-elect President Bush and other Republicans. But according to the Center for Public Integrity, which monitors campaign spending, the CRNC has spent at least 83 percent of its proceeds since 2000 on direct mailings and other fund-raising expenses.

See the rest here.

Then there's this wonderful nugget from the Seattle Times ...

Some of the elderly donors, meanwhile, wound up bouncing checks and emptying their bank accounts.

"I don't have any more money," said Cecilia Barbier, a 90-year-old retired church council worker in New York City. "I'm stopping giving to everybody. That was all my savings that they got."

Barbier said she "wised up." But not before she made more than 300 donations totaling nearly $100,000 this year, the group's fund-raising records show.

The guy at the center of all this seems to be Scott Stewart, chairman of the CRNC from 1999 until last year.

He left to run the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign in Nevada.