Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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More information on those folks in Colorado who got booted from a Bamboozlepalooza event because of a bumper sticker on their car. It seems the planners of these taxpayer-funded events hire rent-a-cops, dress them up to look like Secret Service agents and then have them boot people who don't seem Bush-true.

See this post from Kos for more details.

When astroturf bamboozlers don't do their advance work ...

Even temperatures nearing 70 degrees Monday didn't stop more than 80 people from gathering at the Iowa City Public Library to oppose Social Security reform proposals.

Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, hosted a community meeting for about two hours, with discussion primarily focused on fixing Social Security, although there were also questions about the Iraq war and the growing federal deficit.


"There is so little reality about the bill," said Ann Bovbjerg of Iowa City. "The most insulting is saying, 'you'll be OK (seniors), it's the younger generation who won't be.' Who are these younger people? They are your kids and my kids."

No one in attendance voiced support for the proposals that have been introduced by the president.

Note of thanks to <$NoAd$> TPM Reader BG.

When does this become more than a joke?

The U.S. Secret Service on Monday said it was investigating the claims of three people who said they were removed from President Bush's town hall meeting on Social Security last week after being singled out because of a bumper sticker on their car.

The three said they had obtained tickets through the office of Rep. Bob Beauprez, R-Colo., had passed through security and were preparing to take their seats when they were approached by what they thought was a Secret Service agent who asked them to leave.

Reports like this have become commonplace <$NoAd$> on the Bamboozlepalooza Tour. And, remember, despite the obvious political campaign content, this roadshow is paid for entirely with taxpayer dollars. That fact must make these sorts of ideological litmus tests a no-no.

Decisions, decisions ...

Freshman Rep. Dave Reichert (R) of Washington state was either the first or second member of the Conscience Caucus. (That, bear in mind, was when the getting was good. You could get in just for expressing reservations about the president's plan.) And tonight in the district he's holding a townhall meeting on private accounts.

Reichert says he's undecided about the president's plan. But according to a February 9th piece in Roll Call says he "was the only Member in a targeted race to formally support the creation of private accounts."

So it might be interesting to ask the congressman just what it was that made him go all wobbly on privatization.

Private Accounts Probabilism from the White House's Al Hubbard: "The president has made it clear that the personal retirement accounts won't solve the problem -- they are a part of the solution The rest of the solution lies in making other changes."

Interestingly enough, Hubbard's answer was in response to a high school student, eighteen-year-old Karl Kirsch. Hubbard went on to tell Kirsh that the options for the "other changes" include raising the retirement age and switching from wage- to price-indexing, which of course would leave our man Karl with radically reduced benefits fifty or so years from now.

When another questioner asked why AARP is opposing the plan if it's so great for seniors, Hubbard quoted the phony push-poll put together by the White House's pro-phase-out astroturf group, Compass. "We've seen polls that indicate two-thirds of the members in AARP support the president's plan. For whatever reason, they've determined this is a political battle that must be won."

A TPM 'Privatize This!' T-Shirt to the first guy or gal who can get Al Hubbard wired up to a lie detector and ask him whether he thinks 2/3rds of AARP members really support the president's plan.

Forget the T-Shirt, we'll whip up a special 'Privatize This!' tuxedo. With spats ...

Almost parody. From a 1999 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ...

A Virginia jury last night awarded the wife of Sen. Rick Santorum $350,000 in damages after she charged in a lawsuit that a Virginia chiropracter's negligence caused her permanent back pain.

Deliberating more then six hours after a four-day trial in which Santorum, R-Pa., testified, the Fairfax County Circuit Court jury unanimously ruled for Karen Santorum. She had sought $500,000 against Dr. David Dolberg of Virginia, because of pain from his 1996 treatment of her.

"Mrs. Santorum has been vindicated," said her Pittsburgh attorney Heather Heidelbaugh. "She was injured permanently through the actions of a chiropractor who acted negligently."

Heidelbaugh, with the Pittsburgh law firm of Burns, White & Hickton, said Mrs. Santorum has "permanent back pain" and "permanent numbness" in one leg.

Throughout the trial, Santorum aides declined to provide details. Yesterday, they issued a brief statement from the senator saying: "The court proceedings are a personal family matter. I will not be offering any further public comments, other than that I am not a party to the suit. But I am fully supportive of my wife."

But Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill, reported that Santorum testified Monday that his wife might not be able to actively campaign for his re-election next year because of her pain. "She has always been intricately involved in my campaigns," he testified.

This I found out about<$NoAd$> from MKV.

Eagle-eyed TPM Reader AA sends us the news: Bamboozlepalooza swirls into Iowa on Wednesday. The president will be holding "A Conversation on Strengthening Social Security" at 12:15 p.m. at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

Examples of what's considered standard-operating-procedure in the DC lobbying culture?

Take Brad Card, brother of White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and brother-in-law of another Bush family retainer, Ron Kaufman.

Not too long ago, Card was making an honest wage as a New Hampshire state trooper. Most of the ten years he put in with the force in the Granite State, he was an undercover narcotics officer. Not long after he got his badge, a September 1989 Union Leader article chronicled his bust of a two kids from New Jersey bringing a couple thousand dollars of weed into the state where they want to live free or die.

But the last few years have opened up all sorts of new opportunities for Card.

Just about the time George W. was shifting into high gear in the 2000 presidential race, for instance, Rep. John Sweeney (R) of New York tapped Brad to be his new Chief of Staff. But just after President Bush's inauguration and brother Andy's appointment as White House Chief of Staff, the folks at The Dutko Group, a DC lobbying shop, could see Brad's unique talents and they hired him away from Sweeney.

Perhaps they reached out to him through his brother-in-law, Ron Kauffman, since he works at Dutko too. Who knows?

In any case, it was a good thing that Card got a few months experience in the luxe lobbying business before 9/11. Because about six weeks after the towers fell, New York real estate developer Larry Silverstein needed a man in Washington to tell his story to powers-that-be in the nation's capital. And he had quite a story to tell, seeing as he'd taken out the lease on the World Trade Center not long before they were destroyed.

Silverstein, being the shrewd man that he is, hired Card to be that man in Washington in his titanic struggle to see how many billions in insurance money he would be able to collect from the towers' destruction.

Perhaps it was Card's law enforcement background that made him so valuable to Silverstein. But then, terrorism isn't a law enforcement matter. So it's hard to know what to think.

I just noticed this update at the MSNBC website, predicting rough-sledding for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan because his son made several hundred thousand dollars consulting for a company angling Iraq oil-for-food contracts. The fact is supposed to be made public tomorrow in an interim report issued by Paul Volcker, the man Annan appointed to investigate the program.

The piece also quotes copiously from administration officials who argue that Annan must have knowingly ignored that his son was trading on his name. "How do you not know that your son is making all this money? How do you not know that your son is pushing Cotecna [the company in question] in meetings."

Perhaps I'm the only one. But when I was reading this I couldn't help but notice that what the administration officials appear to be describing is considered to be standard acceptable practice in Washington lobbying culture.

What am I missing?