Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I got a note today reminding me how many Republican senators, up for reelection in 2006, have records of either supporting or actually voting for Social Security privatization.

Needless to say, in most cases, they're running for cover now, looking for various outs and mealymouthed responses to get them off the hook for taking any position at all -- some good examples include Sens. Burns (R) of Montana and Talent (R) of Missouri. And it applies even more to the some of Republicans running against incumbent Dems or for open seats.

Obviously, this makes sense politically for Democrats. It'll keep a number of these guys politically off-balance and complicate their public connections to the sitting president. Should they be reelected it will also help lock them into a good position, should they come out against privatization on the hustings this year or next.

But accountability and clarity on the big public issues of the day is always good on substance too. No apologies required. And it simply doesn't cut it for anyone on the ballot next year not to have a straightforward position on whether or not they support Social Security.

Small changes in taxes or benefits are one thing. But, do you support Social Security or do you want to replace some or all of it with private accounts? No one should slide through without giving voters a straight-up answer to that question.

If you have examples of this -- cases where someone on the ballot next year (House or Senate) say they have no definite position on this issue, but has previous votes or positions which say otherwise -- I'd appreciate it if you can mention them at the Elections 2006 discussion table over at TPMCafe. If you haven't visited yet, here's a brief note about how to do it.

I wanted to write about this last week. And some folks from on the scene had actually sent me some photographs to post. But I was so busy with the site launch that I didn't manage to get around to it. But the folks down in Louisiana really know how to defend Social Security and have fun at the same time.

Reps. Alexander, Boustany and McCrery are all going along trying to avoid commenting, taking any clear position on, or even acknowledging the 800 pound gorilla in the political room: Social Security and President Bush's plans to privatize it.

So the Social Security partisans in the area have come up with, well, I guess it's not actually an 800 pound gorilla. But it is a 28 foot inflatable gorilla. (See a full-sized picture here.) And they're taking him to stand in front of each congressman's office to drive home the point of their conspicuous silence on the great issue of the day.

Here, for instance, is the lede from today's Baton Rouge Advocate (the article also has a cool picture of the Social Security gorilla ...

A 28-foot gorilla has begun stalking some of Louisiana's Republican congressman, starting Tuesday by menacing U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr.'s office in Lafayette's federal courthouse.

While it wasn't granting interviews, the bright red inflated gorilla did carry a sign stating its demand: "Don't monkey around with my Social Security. Say no to $131,458 benefit cut."

We're going to try to find out just who came up with this idea. Because they definitely deserve one of our TPM Privatize This! T-Shirts.

Late Update: Here's another article on all the monkey business.

The revelation of the identity of Deep Throat should throw in sharp relief again the simple truth that the most important stories almost always rely on sources who -- precisely because they are in a position to know key details -- cannot reveal their identity to the public.

Without anonymous sources, there would be little news, certainly no investigative journalism. And what passes as news would tend even more toward news shaped and packaged by powerful institutions and individuals.

The fact that we now know Deep Throat was Mark Felt, whose motivations were probably shaped as much by bureaucratic infighting between the FBI and the Nixon administration as they were by more high-minded goals, should serve to make another point. Most anonymous sources have mixed motives. Many of them have bad or at least petty motives -- backbiting, the desire to gossip or trade in information for advantage, revenge. It runs the gamut.

A good reporter, though, can take the fruit of that poison tree and make it sweet and nourishing by sifting through information to find what is valuable and newsworthy regardless of why it may have come to see the light of day.

I've been a bit distracted with other things today. But over the course of the day and out of the corner of my eye, I started to realize that the Deep Throat mystery was officially over. It's not just been reported. Or reasoned out, or claimed or triangulated. Late this afternoon, the Post itself even officially reported it, with Woodward and Ben Bradlee confirming that Mark Felt, then #2 at the FBI, was Deep Throat.

It's hard to say what significance it all has historically at this point, though it does shed some new light or at least deepens our understanding of the role the Nixon administration's antagonism with the FBI had in bringing Nixon down.

Whatever it means for history, it's the end to an iconic mystery -- one that for better and sometimes worse was at the heart of what was once the glamor of late 20th century journalism.

As I've been hyping TPMCafe in recent weeks, I've had readers sometimes ask if TPMCafe were replacing TPM or whether TPM is -- I almost shudder to use the phrase -- being phased out.

(And just in case you don't notice that big TPMCafe graphic right there, by all means forget about reading the rest of this post and head over to TPMCafe right now!)

In a word, no. In two words, absolutely not. The sites are and will remain separate. The relationship between the two is obvious, certainly. But TPM will always be where I blog. I'll also be a participant in The Coffee House, the main group blog at TPMCafe. But nothing here should change.

Many of you have noticed or pointed out that the pace of posts here has been somewhat paltry of late. But that's just because a lot of work went into building the thing and various planning and so forth.

And as long as I'm on the subject, when I say 'build', hopefully it goes without saying that I only built this site in the very general sense of participating in building it and setting the process in motion. There are five other people whose names I'd particularly like to mention.

First, my wife, Millet, who in addition to being a wonderful wife and the love of my life, has been involved in every step of this project and whose help has been invaluable.

Second, our good friend Kate Cambor. On an interim basis, she's been doing a lot of the work the associate editor of the new site will do when I finally hire one, which should be in the pretty near future. And in addition to doing all sorts of invaluable work, her assistance has gone a long way to preserving my sanity, such as it is, over the last few weeks.

Next, Matt Ipcar did great graphic design work, which I couldn't be more pleased with, on the site. He designed our new TPMCafe logo, which you see there up at the top of the site.

And finally, two people who in a nuts-and-bolts sense are the two who actually 'built' most of the site, Colin Hill and James Bennett.

To each of them, a very, very sincere thanks.

So I just wanted to clear up any confusion on the first point and thank these people on the other. Now, head on over to TPMCafe and I'll try to get cracking on some more posts here.

Okay, enough already. We've been chattering on about it for a couple months now. And with the help of a team of seven, almost three dozen contributors and more than 1500 TPM Readers who helped fund the project, TPMCafe is finally ready to open its doors.

TPMCafe is very much a work in progress. And we wouldn't want it any other way. We've put a lot of time into creating a public meeting place to read about and discuss politics, culture and public life in the United States, a site with both blogs and public discussion areas. But we want your feedback. Let us know what you like and don't like, what's clear and unclear. Join us in shaping what this site becomes.

And this week, as we announced earlier, special guest-blogger, John Edwards.

I was beginning to think the coming and going of the November election had heralded not only the end of episodic national terror alerts but also the monthly ritual of Iraqi up-is-downism from Vice President Cheney.

Last night on Larry King Live Vice President Cheney said that the Iraqi insurgency was "in its last throes." In this he seemed to be picking up on President Bush's recent claims that the huge upsurge of violence and bombings of late was a sign that the insurgents were on the ropes.

Then, though, Cheney went on to say something ... well, I'm not sure whether to call it 'curious' or almost candid or what. But he went on to predict that the insurgency would end before the president leaves office, or in other words before January 2009, or in yet other words that the US will be fighting a counter-insurgency in Iraq for no more than six years.

And if that means it's in its 'last throes', well ...

How not to get annual performance awards (from the Baltimore Sun)...

John Riggs spent 39 years in the Army, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during the Vietnam War and working his way up to become a three-star general entrusted with creating a high-tech Army for the 21st century.

But on a spring day last year, Riggs was told by senior Army officials that he would be retired at a reduced rank, losing one of his stars because of infractions considered so minor that they were not placed in his official record.


His Pentagon superiors said he allowed outside contractors to perform work they were not supposed to do, creating "an adverse command climate."

But some of the general's supporters believe the motivation behind his demotion was politics. Riggs was blunt and outspoken on a number of issues and publicly contradicted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by arguing that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more troops.

"They all went bat s- - when that happened," recalled retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner, a one-time Pentagon adviser who ran reconstruction efforts in Iraq in the spring of 2003. "The military part of [the defense secretary's office] has been politicized. If [officers] disagree, they are ostracized and their reputations are ruined."


Garner and 40 other Riggs supporters - including an unusually candid group of retired generals - are trying to help restore his rank.

But even his most ardent supporters concede that his appeal has little chance of succeeding and that an act of Congress might be required.


(ed.note: Note of thanks to TPM Reader DH.)