Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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What a guy ...

JTA: Pat Robertson announces that God struck down Ariel Sharon for dividing the Land of Israel.

Late Update: Now MediaMatters has the video clip of Robertson's most recent analysis of God's work in punitive cardiology.

The Post's Chris Cillizza has a post on a topic I've wanted to know more about for a while: Grassroots Interactive, one of the many paper companies Jack Abramoff apparently had on hand to steer money to. From there, well, who knows what happened to the money once it went through the GRI rinse? The outfit was founded in May 2003 and its registered agent in Maryland was Edward B. Miller.

Miller subsequently became Deputy Chief of Staff to Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R). Apparently he's been cooperating with the DOJ investigation for more than a year.

This article from September suggests that of $2 million Tyco paid Abramoff to buck legislation that would have forced the company to pay taxes, $1.5 was diverted to entities like GRI, and then apparently used on other things beside helping Tyco stay one step ahead of the IRS.

In all the reporting on these stories the assumption is that Abramoff funnelled all this money, somehow or another, back to himself. And in the narrow sense of control of assets I'm sure that was often the case, at least for some period of time. But while Abramoff moved through many tens of millions of dollars quite a lot got pumped back into the DC Republican political machine.

Let's start with GRI. What happened to that money?

The Times has an assessment of Ariel Sharon's prognosis. And it is very, very bleak. The article notes that the blood thinners prescribed for Sharon's earlier stroke -- caused by a blood clot rather than a hemorrhage -- greatly complicate treating this second stroke. Because of the blood thinners, reports the Times, this second event is "likely to be devastating and nearly impossible to treat."

The author of the piece quotes Dr. Matthew E. Fink, chief of the Division of Stroke and Critical Care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, as saying that in a case like Sharon's the "likelihood of death is greater than 80 percent."

A bit more information about this suggestion by Andrea Mitchell that Christiane Amanpour was among those snooped by one of the president's warrantless NSA wiretaps.

As discussed earlier, John Aravosis first caught the remark on an NBC transcript.

Later, the passage in question was edited out of the transcript at the MSNBC website.

Now TVNewser has a statement of explanation from NBC ...

Unfortunately this transcript was released prematurely. It was a topic on which we had not completed our reporting, and it was not broadcast on 'NBC Nightly News' nor on any other NBC News program. We removed that section of the transcript so that we may further continue our inquiry.

This actually sounds like what I suspected. She asked the question. But either they hadn't intended to release the question on the transcript or someone hadn't thought through the implications of doing so.

Just to refresh everyone's memory, this was the exchange from Mitchell's interview with James Risen ...

MITCHELL: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?

RISEN: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that

MITCHELL: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?

RISEN: No, no I hadn't heard that.

Despite the fact that it's framed as a question, Mitchell inevitably becomes in some sense a fact witness for the underlying claim. She legitimizes the question and strongly suggests she has at least some evidence that it is true.

Okay, so someone at NBC screwed up. Mistakes happen. But the bell can't be unrung.

In their response NBC confirms that they not only were but are in fact continuing to investigate whether Amanpour was in fact a target of one of these 'wiretaps'.

Now, that really puts this into altogether different territory.

You wouldn't just pull this Amanpour story out of your hat (this is a family website). To be even remotely credible, a claim like that would have to come from within the government.

Wouldn't it? I know I'm speculating. But think about it: who would be able to make such a claim and have enough credibility to make a major news organization take the suggestion seriously?

I'm not completely certain I have the timeline right on this. But this late article from Ha'aretz says that Ariel Sharon was given a CT scan after the surgery to relieve bleeding in his brain was completed and that on the basis of that test he was taken back for further surgery. The latest from the Jerusalem Post was simply that surgery had been completed after six hours.

Late Update: Now the Jerusalem Post confirms and elaborates. The CT scan revealed additional areas of bleeding in the brain. Thus the return to the operating room.

What a guy ...

Pat Robertson says God is punishing Ariel Sharon for dividing the Land of Israel.

Count 'em: 17 recess appointments this evening from the president -- including a slew of cronies and hacks the president couldn't manage to get through a senate controlled by his own party. Here's the list just posted at the White House, which TPM Reader JW was kind enough to send us.