Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

On Friday we told you the story, first reported in The Manchester Union Leader, of how the New Hampshire Republican party hired a Northern Virginia telemarketing outfit -- GOP Marketplace -- to jam the phone banks at the offices of the New Hampshire Democratic Coordinated Campaign and the Manchester Firefighters' Union Local on election day last November.

Both phone banks were being used that morning for get-out-the-vote efforts.

According to the Union Leader, GOP Marketplace hired Idaho-based Milo Enterprises to place repeated five-second-and-hang-up calls to the phone banks' numbers, thus effectively shutting them down on election day. After a few hours, Verizon stepped in and shut the operation down.

Now, what is GOP Marketplace? And who is its founder Allen Raymond.

We've had a hard time getting Raymond or anyone else from GOP Marketplace on the phone. That may not be surprising, given the fact that the Union Leader article suggests the company may be the target of a state, and possibly a federal, law enforcement investigation centering on the phone jamming incident.

In any case, we called GOP Marketplace and were asked to leave a message with Chris Cupit. So far we haven't heard back. According to a slew of articles in The Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, and Austin American-Statesman, Cupit is a long-time associate and sometime consultant and/or spokesman for former Congressman Steve Stockman. Stockman, a one-term-wonder elected in 1994, was generally regarded as the fringiest and loopiest of the Republicans' '94 class.

Back in the glory days of the Republican Revolution, according to two articles which ran in The Hill in May 1996, Cupit ran a consulting firm called Political Won Stop, which did a lot of work for Stockman and also happened to run out of Stockman's house. (The FEC later meted out a $40,000 fine to Stockman for shenanigans related to the Political Won Stop operation.) During the same campaign, according to an October 30th, 1996 article in The Houston Chronicle Cupit was also Stockman's campaign manager. So clearly he's sort of a jack-of-all-trades.

At TPM, though, we're more curious about Allen Raymond, GOP Marketplace's founder. His political associations seem to rest on the other side of the Republican aisle. At least most of the time ...

In addition to having a long history in Republican politics, he also turns out to the be Executive Director of the Republican Leadership Council, a centrist Republican pressure group modeled on the Democratic Leadership Council (no one accused them of being creative with the name).

The names are the same. And when we called the RLC's offices early this afternoon the guy who answered the phone was kind enough to confirm that the RLC's Allen Raymond and GOP Marketplace's Allen Raymond are, in fact, one and the same person.

The RLC's website lists its president as former Congressman Dick Zimmer and its Advisory Board as including ...

Senator Robert Bennett
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell
Senator Susan Collins
The Honorable Alfonse M. D`Amato
Senator Pete V. Domenici
Congressman David Dreier
Governor John Engler
Congressman Mark Foley
Congressman Bob Franks
Congressman Jim Greenwood
Congresswoman Nancy Johnson
The Honorable Thomas H. Kean
Senator Jon L. Kyl
The Honorable John McKernan
Senator Frank H. Murkowski
The Honorable Bill Paxon
Congresswoman Deborah Pryce
Congressman Jack Quinn
Governor John G. Rowland
Senator Olympia Snowe
Senator Arlen Specter
Congressman Fred Upton
The Honorable William F. Weld
Governor Christine Todd Whitman
The Honorable Pete Wilson

Now, my question is still this: using one phone bank to knock out another phone bank doesn't sound like an idea that a clever operative would pitch to just one campaign or state party. I think whoever came up with that bright idea would want to, shall we say, spread around the love.

The Manchester Union Leader says that GOP Marketplace got the job done for the New Hampshire Republican party. So who else did GOP Marketplace work for in 2002? There were a lot of close races last year...

"As commander-in-chief, I will rebuild our military and strengthen our alliances,"
Bush campaign stump speech, 2000.

"Saudis Plan to End US Presence,"
February 9th, 2003, New York Times.

"NATO Allies Trade Barbs Over Iraq: Rumsfeld: Critics Are Undermining Alliance's Strength,"
February 9th, 2003, Washington Post.

"Shifting Loyalties: Seoul Looks to New Alliances,"
January 26th, 2003, New York Times.

"Latin America On Back Burner; Bush's Priorities Have Shifted Since 2000 Campaign,"
December 23rd, 2002 Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Don't miss this timely and illuminating run-down of who actually pays what taxes at the state and local level. If you want every last detail and stat you can download Bob McIntyre's whole study here. Historically, the federal government has almost always been the ally of the weak, whether that be in racial or economic terms. The states ... not so much. This is yet another good example.

By the way, Bob McIntyre -- DC's Lord of Progressivity -- has a lot more expertly crunched numbers here at the Citizens for Tax Justice website -- one of the true gold mines of information about fiscal policy.

Who is Allen Raymond, the GOP phone bank marketeer who arranged the shutdown of Democratic phone banks in New Hampshire on election day last November? Who else has he worked for? And, most interesting, what other Republican campaigns did he work for in 2002? One clue: it doesn't stop in New Hampshire. More to come on each of these questions very soon ...

Here's a story that deserves a lot of attention. Did this happen anywhere else?

The Executive Director of the New Hampshire Republican party, Chuck McGee, has just resigned because the state party hired a telemarketing firm to jam the phone lines of the Democratic get-out-the-vote operation last election day. The immediate cause of his resignation actually appears to be the fact that he lied to The Manchester Union Leader for the article they published breaking the story in this morning's paper.

Now, in the free-for-all world of political telemarketing, there's what you might call an evolving standard for what's just playing hardball and what's way out of bounds. (What sounds criminal to some, is just ... well, 'innovative' to more creative minds.) But I think this clearly qualifies as way, way out of bounds. Indeed, it may have broken New Hampshire state laws against phone harassment. And New Hampshire authorities, in addition to pursuing the matter themselves, have passed the case on to the Justice Department.

The New Hampshire GOP hired 'GOP Marketplace' -- a Virginia-based telemarketing firm run by a Republican operative named Allen Raymond -- to do the deed. Actually, they subcontracted the deed to a phone bank shop out in Idaho, Milo Enterprises.

Now the New Hampshire GOP still seems to be claiming that they hired GOP Marketplace for their own get out the vote efforts. The argument seems to be that the state party paid for get-out-the-vote. But by the time the word got passed on to Milo Enterprises it had turned into instructions to make countless five-second hang-up calls to phone numbers of the Democratic coordinated campaign offices as well as the offices of the Manchester firefighters union, which was also doing get-out-the-vote work that morning. The state party's story still seems to be evolving.

Now, to refresh my memory, I went back and looked up the point spread on Senator John Sununu's close-call victory over out-going Governor Jeanne Shaheen. He won with 51% to her 47% with a Libertarian candidate picking up the other 2%. Honestly, that's too big a spread to overcome with solid phone banking, especially because this effort seemed to get cut short after a couple hours when Verizon intervened.

But cheating isn't okay just because you probably would have won anyway. What's more, was the New Hampshire GOP really the only state party getting these services from 'GOP Marketplace'? This sounds like an 'innovation' that a go-getter firm like 'GOP Marketplace' would want to peddle all over the place. There were a lot of close races last November. Did this happen anywhere else? Who else got help from 'GOP Marketplace'?

Many Iraq hawks claim that once Saddam had a serious WMD capacity (i.e., more than just some nerve gas) he'd use it against the United States. I've never bought that. What I do think is that he might threaten it, or more likely use it to threaten our allies in the region with it, and that would make him extremely difficult for us to deal with.

Now, one of the central premises of the realist/containment viewpoint on Iraq ("he's not suicidal, he could be deterred") is that Saddam may be evil but he's fundamentally a rational actor. I haven't thought through all the implications of this, but it occurs to me that we're now seeing a pretty clear partial refutation of that thesis.

We're about to go to war with Iraq. It may be a terrible idea. It may go badly for us. We may get bogged down there for years. But one thing is absolutely certain: it will go terribly for Saddam Hussein. His regime won't survive. And he probably won't survive personally either.

He could prevent this by making a credible show of disarming. But he's not. He's quite literally courting his own destruction. Yes, one can figure issues of pride, national honor, unwillingness to lose his WMD capacity, etc. But at the end of the day he's courting his own destruction, sealing his fate. How does that square with the idea that he's purely a rational actor, most interested in his own survival?

I try not to navel gaze too much on TPM about writing TPM and why I started TPM and so forth. Well, I try not to at least. But if the subject interests you, Kevin Drum at the CalPundit website just did an interview with me about all things TPM ...

The few ... the proud ... the four remaining North Carolina Republicans in the House of Representatives who still haven't insulted some ethnic or racial group.

You can see the honor roll here. So far Howard Coble (calls internment of Japanese-Americans appropriate and says "for many of these Japanese-Americans, it wasn't safe for them to be on the street"), Sue Myrick (referring to Arab-Americans, "Look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country") and Cass Ballenger ("segregationist feelings") are all out of the running.

Who will be next? It's sort of like The Bachelorette or Joe Millionaire. Should this be a new reality show?

According to this article on CNN, the Pentagon is investigating General Tommy Franks, head of Centcom (the Mideast regional command). The investigation is about the standard mumbo-jumbo, whether he properly repaid the Army for his wife's flights on military aircraft, and so forth.

Now, abusing perks of office is no good. And I've got no brief for Tommy Franks one way or another. But Tommy Franks is the guy in charge of US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. He's a bit busy.

Whether or not he paid for his wife's travel correctly, do we really want to distract this guy from what he's doing? Even if you're a die-hard against military operations in Iraq, you still don't want the general in command to be worried about some investigation. Just in the national interest, wouldn't it be better to shelve this investigation for a bit? At least until things calm down a little? Can't the president or Rumsfeld just make an executive decision on this one?