Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

You know that the House Republican leadership has created a House Select Committee on Hurricane Katrina, and that the Democrats, wisely, declined to participate since it's controlled by the Republican leadership and thus highly unlikely to be anything but an exercise in White House damage control.

Now it turns out that on Tuesday at 10:00 AM they are going to have Brownie himself under oath at the Rayburn Building.

We're obviously way past the point where any Republicans are defending Brown. Indeed, he's now the designated fall-guy for the whole sorry mess. So, figure the questions will either be off-point or, when critical, critical in such a way as to focus blame for mishaps uniquely on him rather than on an administration which cared so little about disaster preparedness as to appoint him.

But I thought it would be an interesting exercise to come up a list of questions that might be asked if the House committee weren't in fact a sham. Call it a counter-factual, questions produced for an alternative reality in which there was actually congressional oversight.

I know it will be tempting to ask questions of the 'Mr. Brown, why hasn't God struck you down with a thunderbolt yet?'. But I'm thinking more of questions which might elicit significant new facts. We've set up a thread over at TPMCafe to discuss this. So think detail and specifics. What questions would you ask Brownie under oath if you had the chance?

As I mentioned yesterday afternoon, we ended up getting about eight hundred ticket requests to the Serenity screening Wednesday night. But we only had around two hundred seats.

We've now sent out notifications to everyone we were able to provide seats for. So if you haven't heard back, we were not able to give you a ticket.

Separately, there was similarly high demand for the tickets to screenings in other parts of the country. And the studio publicity folks handling those screenings were similarly overwhelmed with not enough seats for all the requests.

Unfortunately, in their case, this apparently led to their sending out emails about screenings in the wrong cities and emails about different ticket offers and a bunch of other confusion.

So please accept my apologies for whatever hassles anyone had with requests to the studio publicity folks for tickets for screenings in those other cities.

We're running a tad late on the email notifications about who got tickets for Wednesday night's screening. Give us till about 1:30 PM this afternoon.

Okay, no more requests for tickets to see the Joss Whedon movie Serenity in Union Square next Wednesday. We've had an overwhelming response. And, honestly, we have about four requests for every ticket at the moment.

TPM has been up and running for just about five years. And over that time I've gotten very good and understanding and predicting the ebb and flow of traffic, what sort of response we'll get when we have contests or raise funds. But I didn't have much to go on in trying to figure out what the demand would be for tickets to a movie screening in one geographically confined, if also densely populated, area. By the time I plugged back in this afternoon we had about 800 requests for about 200 tickets.

Obviously we won't be able to provide seats for everyone who requested one. But I understand that it'll be very helpful to find out sooner than later whether you got a ticket, to be able to plan and so forth. So I am going to make every effort to make sure everybody hears back from us no later than noon tomorrow. If you requested tickets and haven't heard from us by then, check the site and we'll have some update.

The movie looks like a lot of fun. And I look forward to seeing a lot of you on Wednesday night.

Unrelated to this particular movie event, we have plans for more TPM events in the New York area in the near future. So for those of you who would like to meet fellow readers, we have more fun stuff coming up.

For all of us who criticize from the sidelines, sometimes it's hard to appreciate the sort of tireless, behind-the-scenes efforts that the White House puts into into screwing the middle class and abandoning those displaced and uprooted by Katrina.

From the LAT ...

Two days after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced plans to issue emergency vouchers aimed at helping poor storm victims find new housing quickly by covering as much as $10,000 of their rent.

But the department suddenly backed away from the idea after White House aides met with senior HUD officials. Although emergency vouchers had been successfully used after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the administration focused instead on a plan for government-built trailer parks, an approach that even many Republicans say would concentrate poverty in the very fashion the government has long sought to avoid.

A similar struggle has occurred over how to provide healthcare to storm victims. White House officials are quietly working to derail a proposal by leading Republican and Democratic senators to temporarily expand Medicaid. Instead, the administration is pushing a narrower plan that would not commit the government to covering certain groups of evacuees.

There's plenty more in the <$NoAd$> piece.

Just for the sake of discussion, and I'd be particularly eager to hear from TPM's right-leaning readers on this one, isn't the idea of giving rent vouchers to refugees rather than stacking them up in mobile housing projects something that folks on both sides of the aisle should be able to agree on?

On the hand, who gets to build and fit out the gazillion standard issue mobile homes? Halliburton residential? I guess that's the answer.

Now down to a mere thirteen Democrats who haven't yet signed on as cosponsors of H.R. 3763, the bill to overturn the Gulf Coast Wage Cut ...

1. Mr. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of Georgia 2. Mr. Dan Boren of Oklahoma 3. Mr. Rick Boucher of Virginia 4. Mr. Allen Boyd of Florida 5. Mr. Robert E. "Bud" Cramer Jr. of Alabama 6. Mr. Henry Cuellar of Texas 7. Mr. Lincoln Davis of Tennessee 8. Mr. Bob Etheridge of North Carolina 9. Mr. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina 10. Ms. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia 11. Mr. John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina 12. Mr. John S. Tanner of Tennessee 13. Mr. Melvin L. Watt of North Carolina

The number of Republicans who have signed on as cosponsors has now risen to zero.

Another Iraq War vet to run for Congress, Bryan Lentz. He's going to run against Rep. Curt "Freelance Spy/International Man of Mystery/Shaken not Stirred" Weldon (R-PA).

We had Rep. Ferguson (R) of New Jersey down as a Wage Cut Wiggler. But now it seems he's a 'Serious Concerns' man -- one the moderate Republicans (signers of the LoBiondo letter) whose concerns are serious enough to send a letter asking the president to set a date when he'll stop docking wages but not serious enough to vote for the bill to end the Wage Cut right now.

Dumpmike.com has just posted a copy of the letter Ferguson has sent to his constituents.

Big Truba? AP: "Hospital operator HCA (HCA) said Friday that federal prosecutors have issued a subpoena for documents the company believes may be related to the sale of its stock by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. A release from the company said the subpoena came from the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York."

Okay, let's fill in a few of the blank spaces in this new Post article about Jack Abramoff and Karl Rove.

The story, as we get it in today's article, is that Timothy E. Flanigan is the General Counsel of Tyco and now President Bush's nominee for Deputy Attorney General. A couple years ago when Tyco was interested in fending off legislation that might have required them to pay their taxes, Abramoff was hired to do a little of his magic for them and get Tyco off the hook. Abramoff reported to Flanigan on the account. And in the course of that work he first boasted of his juice with Karl Rove and later claimed he had in fact contacted Rove about Tyco's needs.

Fair enough.

But this Newsweek article from a few weeks ago notes that Flanigan worked at the White House before he went to Tyco. In fact, he was Deputy White House Counsel. And Abramoff didn't just report to Flanigan. Flanigan hired Abramoff.

Now, the Post piece treats it as an open question whether Abramoff was just puffing or blowing smoke, as lobbyists sometimes will, when he talked about his ties to Rove and his ability to get action from him.

But Flanigan had already been Deputy White House Counsel. That tells me he knew pretty well how the Bush White House operated and the juice Abramoff had there. The odds that Abramoff just bamboozled Flanigan seem surpassingly low.

Another point ...

In the Newsweek article from a month ago, a spokesman said on Rove's behalf that he had "never spoken to [Abramoff] about any of his clients." In today's Post piece the spokesman says Rove "has no recollection" of Abramoff's contacting him about Tyco.

I'm told that in the clinical literature this is called the 'Safavian effect'.

And one more point ...

The Post reports that Flanigan says that if he's confirmed as Deputy AG he'll recuse himself from any decisions relating to Abramoff and Tyco. Imagine that.

The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section is involved in a massive investigation of Abramoff, his business affairs and his ties to major Republican political figures like Rove and Tom DeLay. The investigation has already led to the arrest of one White House official. Abramoff himself has been indicted in a case that is nominally separate from the Washington investigation but is in fact closely tied to it.

Flanigan worked at the White House. He then left the White House, only to turn around and hire Abramoff to lobby the White House and Rove in particular.

Somebody tell me with a straight face that this guy can ethically deal with anything tied to the Abramoff case. Face it: from the word go at DOJ this guy has to recuse himself from everything having to do with Abramoff.