Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Sheesh! It never rains but it pours. A criminal referral in the Armstrong Williams goofball propaganda case?

AP: "Investigators at the Education Department have contacted the U.S. attorney's office regarding the Bush administration's hiring of commentator Armstrong Williams to promote its agenda."


NYT: "Karl Rove nosed his Jaguar out of the garage at his home in Northwest Washington in the predawn gloom, starting another day in which he would be dealing with a troubled Supreme Court nomination, posthurricane reconstruction and all the other issues that come across the desk of President Bush's most influential aide."

ABC's The Note: "Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl C. Rove arrived this morning at the federal courthouse around 8:45 am ET, walking through the Third Street entrance to appear before the grand jury working with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to determine if any laws were broken in conjunction with the disclosure of CIA employee Valerie Wilson's name. He apparently arrived in a tan Toyota Camry."

A secret car switcheroo? Yet more Note mumbojumbo? Or even more of an international man of mystery than we thought?

(ed.note: Special thanks to TPM Reader TP. Also, note that the Times piece refers to Rove's Wednesday morning departure for work while the ABC mention is about his arrival this morning at the grand jury. But CNN has an AP photo of Rove's depature this morning. You be the judge of what he's driving. Maybe he decided that showing up at the court house in his Jag to make his final plea wasn't the right optics.)

Late Update: Here's an even better picture of our man Karl in the Quartz colored Jaguar S-Type this morning. TPM Reader GH snags the credit for this one.

Interesting question. TPM <$NoAd$> Reader JO checks in ...

In his NYT op-ed, former Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully writes, "It is true that Harriet Miers, in everything she does, gives high attention to detail. And the trait came in handy with drafts of presidential speeches, in which she routinely exposed weak arguments, bogus statistics and claims inconsistent with previous remarks long forgotten by the rest of us. If one speech declared X "our most urgent domestic priority," and another speech seven months earlier had said it was Y, it would be Harriet Miers alone who noted the contradiction."

So does that mean she OK'd the 2003 SOTU reference to Saddam's attempts to get yellowcake from Africa, notwithstanding the fact that it had been deleted from another speech months before? Seems like a fair question for her confirmation hearing.

Sounds worth asking to me too.

Earle can throw elbows too?

From the Austin American-Statesman: "Travis County prosecutors want to know how U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay purchased a 2004 Toyota Sienna, subpoenaing all records surrounding the transaction, plus telephone records from DeLay, his campaign and his daughter."

Another great Bush administration moment.

In this morning's gaggle, <$NoAd$>Scott McClellan got asked whether the teleconference the president had with troops in Tikrit was scripted. Here's what he said ...

QUESTION: How were they selected, and are their comments to the president pre-screened, any questions or anything...


QUESTION: Not at all?

MCCLELLAN: This is a back-and-forth.

Here's how the pool report (i.e., from the designated reporter on the scene) described what happened.

The soldiers, nine U.S. men and one U.S. woman, plus an Iraqi, had been tipped off in advance about the questions in the highly scripted event. Allison Barber, deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for internal communication, could be heard asking one soldier before the start of the event, "Who are we going to give that [question] to?"

Oh well ...

TPM Reader TM checks <$NoAd$>in ...

What do you think of some of the speculation out there that Harry Reid suggested Harriet Miers as an effort to sabotage Bush politically? It makes a lot of sense to me - she's not very formidable, yet Reid knew Bush would like the idea of picking someone who's such a close ally/bootlicker (you pick). It's kinda like this: Say you have a colleague at work you can't stand and you know has terrible judgment. This colleague just bought a bunny suit and keeps telling everyone how he can't WAIT to find some occasion to wear it. So you sidle up to him and encourage him to wear it to the company's annual black-tie banquet. "Hey, buddy, I just want you to be happy. Would I steer you wrong?"

What I think is that these sorts of triple bankshots seldom turn out to be true, and seldom work when they are true. But seldom isn't never. And it's fun to speculate.

And watch the presidential ambitions swirl down the drain: Frist subpoenaed by the SEC (aka the Martha police).

Says the Post: "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has been subpoenaed to turn over personal records and documents as federal authorities step up a probe of his July sales of HCA Inc. stock, according to sources familiar with the investigation."

Actually, you know what he's thinking: If I knew this was gonna happen I never would have had to demean myself in front of those Justice Sunday whackjobs!

Life's a bitch.

Speaking of which, back to atoning.

I wonder if in his comments today about Harriet Miers the president hasn't finally brought his presidency to a sort of implosive harmonic convergence.

We are, needless to say, engaged in a vast, shambling and tragic occupation of Iraq, the nominal aim of which is to create a secular, rule-of-law-based democracy which would end the cycle of repression, fanaticism and violence which spilled onto America's shores four years ago.

At the same time, President Bush argues for Miers' confirmation neither on the basis of her 'judicial temperament' nor her judicial philosophy or ideology but because she is a staunch evangelical Christian.

The fact that many of the president's more theocratic supporters don't seem to believe him just adds a level of irony or entertainment for those of us still holding out for the Enlightenment tradition.

But doesn't the juxtaposition really show the game is up at some level?

A year ago, in light of one of White House's many wag-the-dog stunts, I noted "how truly important it is that we democratize the Middle East. Because once we have, some of them will be able to come back here and redemocratize us."

Perhaps the same goes for ending theocracy over there. Sooner the better, so they can bring modernity to us too.

Over at the blog of Reason Magazine, Editor Nick Gillespie has posted a list of how much each two-term president increased spending going back forty years. Specifically, the list measures increases in discretionary spending over five successive budgets, adjusted for inflation.

Here are the numbers ...

LBJ: 25.2% Nixon: -16.5% Reagan: 11.9% Clinton: -8.2% Bush: 35.2%

Now, clearly, this exercise means different things to Libertarians like the folks at Reason than it might to readers of this website.

But I think this only represents half the picture. And probably not the more important half.

There are enduring disagreements between the moderate right and moderate left in this country over the ideal size and scope of the federal government. But the truth is that the country can do fine with relatively small government or relatively large government so long as things don't get too out of hand in either direction. What it can't withstand for very long is a radical and growing disjuncture between spending and revenue, money out and money in.

That is the problem we face today. And that's why we're probably in for a long ten years as all of this hits the fan.