Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Grover Norquist, quoted in the Post: "Advocates of using federal power to keep this woman alive need to seriously study the polling data that's come out on this. I think that a lot of conservative leaders assumed there was broader support for saying that they wanted to have the federal government save this woman's life."

If this is really about 'sav[ing] this woman's life' why look at the polling data?

I hesitate to dive much more into this than I have in a few brief posts because this is such a murky and dark and difficult to reason through situation. There's no black and white to it. Clearly, you've got a family that truly believes they're watching their daughter being allowed to die for lack of nourishment. Whatever the antics of their supporters or the larger political purposes this is being put to, they believe it. And I can only imagine the sense of impotence and despair they must be experiencing.

From the relatively little I know of this case, there has been a truly unconscionable years-long campaign of slander and defamation against the husband -- accusing him of everything under the sun including attempted murder. But immediate families in such cases must always be judged by very different standards than the ones we rightly apply to the political sharks and outrage-addicts who swarm around these people to feed off their tragedy.

What's more, as Kevin Drum mentioned on his site earier, I could see where a state might make a law that absent clear and specific evidence (like a living will) of a patient's pre-illness wishes, you assume they would want to be kept alive. I'm not saying that's the right or the wrong approach. I'm only making the point that I don't see anything sacrosanct about the particular legal regime about end-of-life care that currently prevails in Florida.

(For what it's worth, some of the most sensible and humane points I've read on this whole case have been on Andrew Sullivan's site.)

The only clarity I've been able to see in this case or find in it is that there is a set of laws governing these issues in Florida and those laws appear to have been followed. Not only followed, but now submitted to numerous appeals. As for the medical questions involved -- specifically, Shiavo's level of awareness or consciousness -- from what I can tell, every independent doctor who has examined her has put her in the PVS category. Those who don't turn out to be either quacks or doctors who didn't do a complete examination.

That doesn't mean those legal or medical judgments are correct. But I know that those judgments have been arrived at by people with vastly more expertise and information at their disposal than I have.

Obviously, I lack any medical understanding to judge these issues myself and I don't know that much about the legal history of the case. But the one thing I'm quite clear on is that I won't get any more clarity on either point from the comic book coverage coming out of CNN and the rest of the cable networks. And the folks who've poured gasoline on this fire for cheap political reasons are truly beneath contempt.


Just out from the Miami Herald ...

Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo was not to be removed from her hospice, a team of state agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted -- but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge's order, The Herald has learned.

Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo lies at Hospice Woodside, on Thursday that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding.

For a brief period, local police, who have officers at the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called "a showdown."

In the end, the squad from the FDLE and the Department of Children & Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.

"We told them that unless they had the judge with them when they came, they were not going to get in," said a source with the local police.

"The FDLE called to say they were en route to the scene," said an official with the city police who requested anonymity. "When the sheriff's department and our department told them they could not enforce their order, they backed off."

See the <$NoAd$> rest here.

A question I'd like your assistance with.

I'd like to put together a (relatively) short list of some of the best labor/union websites. I know this covers a lot of ground. And certainly my list will be based on incomplete or partial judgments. But it's not a contest. I'm just looking to put together a list of some of the most informative and useful sites out there, in part to share with readers and in part to add to the ones I'm already familiar with.

Now, what do I mean by labor or union websites?

I don't mean the websites of particular unions, or at least not necessarily that. I mean it a little more broadly -- sites with valuable information for people who are interested in and sympathetic to unions, the right to organize and how organized labor can survive, let alone thrive, in the globalizing economy of the 21st century.

To be a bit more to the point, sites for people who are into union stuff.

Lemme know what you think ...

The president's supporters speak up.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "The only real way to fix Social Security is, over the long haul, to convert this socialist wealth-redistribution scheme into a free-market, wealth-creation program. And the best place to start is with the modest private accounts the Bush administration proposes."

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Reader DM for the catch.)

As of 6:12 PM on the east coast, go look at the front page of the CNN website and the extreme close-up picture of Terri Schiavo. Whatever your position on this issue, is this extreme close-up of Mrs. Schiavo compatible with preserving some measure of dignity for her? What's the editorial judgment behind this choice of images?

I would say it seems exploitative; but that wouldn't help distinguish it from the rest of CNN's coverage.

(ed.note: TPM Reader KC pointed this out to me.)

Late Update: The photo in question came down at some point early this evening. The image of Schiavo and her mother -- which is posted as of 10:52 PM -- is not the one I was referring to.

Max Sawicky says that he's found no book-cooking in the new Social Security Trustees report. And, Max being Max, I don't think he'd say that if it weren't true. So until I hear evidence to the contrary, I withdraw my original skepticism.

(This doesn't address the separate issue of the generally pessimistic baselines the SSA actuaries use and used in previous years.)

Max also notes that the solvency picture painted by the report isn't as clearly negative as original press reports suggested.

Late Update: Did I speak too soon? Brad DeLong brings us the latest. It's the productivity, stupid! (Actually, the vocative there applies to me and I happily leave all these complicated numbers to those who understand them better than I.)

President makes progress!

First House Republican from Alabama comes out in favor of private accounts: Rep. Spencer Bachus.

Reports the Birmingham News: "More than once, Bachus stressed that Bush is not seeking to privatize Social Security, but he said giving workers a chance at private investments to boost their retirement is worth a try."

That's one down and four to go.

"Contrition is always nice, but it all depends on what gets on the air. That’s the true test."

That and more from Joe Hagan's piece in the Observer on what the White House says CBS has to do to get in its good graces.

It will be interesting to see what Heyward and his fellow geldings at Black Rock come up with this year. But don't expect it will be pretty.

They're still sitting on the goods in the Niger story after all.

"I am extremely concerned that someone familiar with Defense Department classified reporting has forged this document and given it to the press in the hope that it would be reported as genuine. Such an action raises deeply troubling questions about the integrity of the department's processes and raises the possibility of an organized effort to intimidate me as a journalist."

That's a clip from a letter military analyst Bill Arkin recently sent to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And Arkin was right to be troubled.

Arkin found out about the document when he got a call from Washington Times national security reporter Bill Gertz, who sent him a copy. The phoney cable suggested that he, Arkin, had worked as a spy in the pay of Saddam Hussein.

I want to make very clear that no one is suggesting that Gertz either participated in the production of this document or knew that it was bogus. Indeed, from what I can tell from this piece from the Post last week, he did just what a reporter should have done in this case: he went to the person in question and asked for comment.

It soon became clear that the document was bogus -- a point that no one seems to question, including DOD spokesmen. Gertz declined requests for comment from the Post.

But someone was behind this. And given Arkin's role in uncovering various unpleasant facts about those in power, the motive doesn't seem particularly hard to figure out. Yet Larry DiRita says an investigation into the source of the forged document is "not likely."

We still don't know who forged the bogus Niger documents, even though we now know that their circuitous path into US hands was set in motion by a member of Italian military intelligence. (Any on-going -- such as it was -- investigation into this caper was finally ended earlier this month when Sen. Roberts shut down the promised second half of the investigation into pre-war intelligence on Iraq.)

Add this to the trove of phoney documents which have flowed out of Iraq in the last two years and you end up with a lot of phoney documents whose origins have never been explained.

No transcripts from the White House for Cheney's Bamboozlepalooza events? Holden points us to some local newspaper coverage that may help explain why.