Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

TPM Reader JS asks ...

Have you noticed the lack of commemoration of the assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963? I find no reference to that sad, and seminal, event. Am I the only person who reads the blogs and has a personal memory of that day?

Certainly hadn't occurred to me. But now that he mentions it, yes, it did used to be a date for which there was always some build up and moments of commemoration. But now nothing. Is it just some critical mass in the passage of years? Forty-two years and it's just definitively part of the past? Or is it some political or cultural inflection point the country's passed through post-9/11? Maybe it's none of these and JS and I are noticing a difference that's not there.


The Post's Tuesday piece about Cheney says, among other things ...

Cheney repeated assertions -- disputed by some senators -- that members of Congress had access to the same intelligence that was provided to Bush about the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction under the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Disputed by 'some senators'?

Please. Try disputed by the Post itself little more than a week ago.

How much of a difference there was or how relevant that difference may be to the underlying debate -- those may be a up for discussion. But the claim that members of Congress had access to the same intelligence the president did is just demonstrably false.

Why create a he said/she said, when the facts on the table are not in dispute?

Jean Schmidt-Piece O' Work Watch, Installment #1.

Jean Schmidt's excuse for disparaging Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) as a coward on the House floor is apparently that she didn't know he was a Marine.

I'm not sure I knew that Murtha was a Marine. In fact, though I certainly knew who Murtha is, I'm not sure I'd ever given it a lot of thought. But since Washington had been plastered with a day or so's worth of wall-to-wall coverage which mainly boiled down to "Murtha, Marine, Wants out of Iraq" she's obviously a pretty big fibber or a pretty big fool.

Actually, scratch that -- probably both since she was probably fibbing but still also a fool for coming up with such a moronic excuse.

Add to this the fact that the night before Schmidt had a starring role in the official House GOP game of Whack-a-Murtha, the trancript of which is here. So Schmidt is dug in so deep on this one her head is barely peering up over the ground.

But there's more, as you know doubt knew there would be.

According to tomorrow's Times ...

a spokeswoman for the colonel, Danny R. Bubp, said Ms. Schmidt had misconstrued their conversation.

While Mr. Bubp, a Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives, opposes a quick withdrawal for forces, "he did not mention Congressman Murtha by name nor did he mean to disparage Congressman Murtha," said Karen Tabor, his spokeswoman. "He feels as though the words that Congresswoman Schmidt chose did not represent their conversation."

Now, as the old saw goes, no honor among 'wingnuts (okay, so I'm paraphrasing). And as Max Blumenthal shows in this piece, Bubp's quite a piece of work himself. So he's probably full of it too. Still, even if he's full of it, it's sort of nice to see him selling her out.

And just to finish off, here's the last graf of that Times piece ...

Asked to respond on Monday, the congresswoman's office said only, "Mrs. Schmidt's statement was never meant to disparage Congressman Murtha."

Here's what she said ...

Yesterday I stood at Arlington National Cemetery attending the funeral of a young marine in my district. He believed in what we were doing is the right thing and had the courage to lay his life on the line to do it. A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body – that we will see this through.

Do her constituents really want to keep her in the job?

Today must have been a very bad day for a handful of members of Congress, numerous current and former Hill staffers and others as yet unnamed.

That's because today Michael Scanlon, Jack Abramoff's partner in much of the Indian gambling-congressional cash-n-carry hijinks you've been hearing about, pled guilty to bribe a congressman and other public officials. He agreed to pay back $19 million to Indian tribes he and Abramoff defrauded. He was also sentenced to 51 to 63 months in federal prison.

However, that sentence was immediately suspended. And it will be reduced if Scanlon continues to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

The first thing to note is the political and legal fate of Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH). A few days ago a fellow blogger sent me a post in which he incorrectly stated that Ney was not running for reelection. I pointed out the error -- he'd confused him with retiring Ohio Rep. Mike Oxley (R). But I told him not to feel bad since he was right. Ney is retiring too; he just doesn't know it yet.

Which brings us back to Scanlon's plea. In their charge against Scanlon, federal prosecutors assert that Scanlon and Abramoff offered and Ney accepted numerous bribes for various official acts. (He's referenced as 'Legislator #1'; but it's Ney.) By pleading guilty, Scanlon of course agrees that that is true. And he will testify to that effect.

That just can't sit well with constituents.

And he's not the only one.

This graf from the article in the Post tells the tale ...

Investigators are looking at half a dozen members of Congress, current and former senior Hill aides, a former deputy secretary of the interior, and Abramoff's former lobbying colleagues, according to sources familiar with the probe who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Because of his central role in much of Abramoff's business, Scanlon could be a key witness in any trials that arise from the case.

This is just the beginning.

Late Update: My characterization of Scanlon's sentencing was based on this report in Roll Call. But I'm now told this is not precisely accurate. He apparently faces that much prison time. But the judge has delayed sentencing pending Scanlon's cooperation, etc. The Post's account seems to square with that account, saying Scanlon "faces a maximum five years in prison." Same difference basically. They're holding five years over his head to insure full cooperation. But just wanted to clear that up.

This is one of those media questions for which there is no real way to provide a concrete answer. But it is at least worth asking: How many of the stories coming out now under the very broad heading of botched or manipulated intelligence could have been reported and written at more or less any time over the last two years? I suspect the answer is, the great majority of them.

They're getting written now because the president's poor poll numbers make him a readier target.

I know I'm not saying anything most of you don't know. And better late than never, of course. But all working reporters and editors should consider what that says about the profession.