Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

From the Miami Herald ...

The campaign ads were bitterly divisive, even by the standards of a bare-knuckle primary, accusing the opponent of then Republican senatorial hopeful Mel Martinez of playing to the ``radical homosexual lobby.''

Martinez blamed the ads on "young Turks" in his campaign and apologized to his GOP rival. Weeks later Martinez found himself again blaming a staff member after a press release from his campaign likened U.S. immigration agents to "armed thugs" for seizing Elián González from his Miami home in 2000.

Now, for the third time, Martinez finds himself under fire -- and blaming an aide for the conflagration.

Good help is so hard <$NoAd$>to find.

While dingbats throw brickbats, Mike Allen continues his reporting on the Martinez-Schiavo memo in the senate.

If I understand this right, the new line of thinking is that there is no reason to believe this talking points memo (which is, after all, written to be distributed) was distributed to other Republicans. And it was, in fact, only distributed, inadvertantly, to Sen. Tom Harkin (D) of Iowa. (Who knew Occam's Razor could get so dull?) The reasoning behind this uncanny logic is that Harkin is the only one to have come forward and said, on the record, that he received a copy.

Why only Harkin would come forward and no Republican senators or staffers remains a mystery, it would seem.

So the Allen-eaters are confident that this memo wasn't distributed to Republicans. But Sen. Martinez's office isn't so sure. They're doing an internal investigation.

And one unnamed Martinez aide tells Allen that Darling (the memo-ist) "may have disseminated [the memo] to other offices."

But then, I guess, we have only Allen's word that this unnamed "aide" is really an employee of Sen. Martinez, don't we?

Some Senate Republicans seem intent on conducting an intelligence test on their Democratic colleagues. Only they mean to eschew the normal square pegs and round hole approach and instead use a new gambit in the Social Security debate.

Says the AP's David Espo: "Senate Republican leaders are considering whether to seek Democratic support for Social Security legislation without the personal accounts sought by President Bush, aiming to restore them later, officials said Thursday."

So given that privatization now seems dead in the water, these senate Republicans want to enlist Democratic support for enacting what will no doubt be highly popular benefit cuts and tax increases because this will smooth the way for them to partially phase out Social Security with private accounts, as part of a two step gambit.

And to structure the experiment so as to get a clear read on whether we're talking about mere substandard intelligence or some more profound sort of incapacitation they're telling the reporter from the Associated Press that this is their plan.

Setting aside this foolery, why would any Democrats agree to do anything on Social Security before getting agreement from Republicans -- embodied, where appropriate, in legislation -- that phase-out is off the table for good and that the Treasury notes in the Social Security Trust Fund will be repaid in full.

The Democrats' priority here is to protect Social Security. And the most pressing dangers to Social Security are not deficits in the 2040s but the present threat of privatization and President Bush's effort to renege on the promise that money loaned out of Social Security payroll tax funds will be paid back.

The headline in the Dallas Morning News tells the tale: "DeLay defense fund donations slow."

The article notes how John Podesta and the folks at the Center for American Progress have now chosen to rain down still more woe upon the unfortunate and ignoble bug man by starting a campaign to embarrass big corporations out of writing all those checks to cover his legal expenses.

As they should.

It's such a bummer to know that some small sliver of my monthly cell phone bill has to go to the DeLay legal defense fund just because I do business with Verizon.

Yeah, that Verizon.

Head over to DropTheHammer.org to find out more and soften the hammer down into a mallet.

Oh, have I criticized her.

But I'm willing to do homage to Maureen Dowd for these three peerless sentences: "Before, Republicans just scared other people. Now, they're starting to scare themselves. When Dick Cheney tells you you've gone too far, you know you're way over the edge."

(ed.note: Special thanks to TPM Reader (and father-in-law) II for sending the link.)

Here's a question -- not the rhetorical kind, a genuine question.

I didn't delve deeply into the legal -- as in black letter law -- side of the Schiavo case. But watching that part from a distance at least, I didn't have the sense that any of the various rulings in the case -- original or on appeal -- departed in any meaningful way from the black letter law as it exists in the state of Florida.

Maybe the law is wrong and should be changed. Or maybe the law is proper but in this case it produced a bad result -- and even a good law can fail to produce the 'right' result in a given case. But set those points aside.

Was there any clear point in the legal history of this case at which, purely on legal intepretation grounds, any significant question should have been judged in a different manner?

I raise this because one of this site's regular readers and correspondents just dropped me a note about some program he was watching on C-Span in which some staffer from the Hill was about to blow a fuse over unaccountable activist judges and how they all need to be impeached.

But if the answer to the question above is 'no', then isn't the real beef of all these Schiavo-hounds that these judges aren't activist enough in departing from the law to get results the hounds want?

The Post has just posted a .pdf of the 'Schiavo talking points' written by one of Sen. Martinez's staffers and distributed to senate Republicans.

Of course, if Mike Allen were even a half-way decent journalist he would have correctly identified these not as 'Republican talking points on the Schiavo case' but rather as 'a series of bullet points written on plain, unmarked white paper by a senior staffer from Sen. Martinez's office who, as far as we know, was not operating under a direct order from the senator to write talking points about the Schiavo case which stated what a good political issue the Republicans thought it was before the first round of polls came back.'

Kurtz and Kaus, take it away.