Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Somebody's talking.

From the Post ...

A six-day trip to Moscow in 1997 by then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was underwritten by business interests lobbying in support of the Russian government, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the trip arrangements.

DeLay reported that the trip was sponsored by a Washington-based nonprofit organization. But interviews with those involved in planning DeLay's trip say the expenses were covered by a mysterious company registered in the Bahamas that also paid for an intensive $440,000 lobbying campaign.

Reminds me of the days I used to spend making photocopies at the FARA office in downtown DC.

Nice work if you can get <$NoAd$> it.

From the NYT ...

The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state, Texas.

Most of the payments to his wife, Christine A. DeLay, and his only child, Dani DeLay Ferro, were described in the disclosure forms as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" or "payroll," with no additional details about how they earned the money. The payments appear to reflect what Mr. DeLay's aides say is the central role played by the majority leader's wife and daughter in his political career.

Drip, drip?

I think we're past that.

The American Constitution Society is the progressive counterpart to the conservative Federalist Society, a group which, whatever you think about its effect on America, has been extremely effective in seeding the courts and the legal academy with committed Movement conservatives who've worked for years to shape American law and government.

This weekend, the Yale Law School chapter of the ACS, the national ACS, the Open Society Institute and the Center for American Progress are putting on a conference at Yale Law School that will discuss and plan how to build a movement within the legal community that will do the same for progressives -- law shaped to serve the many, rather than the few and the powerful. The conference is titled The Constitution in 2020. And National ACS is launching a new Constitution in the 21st Century project to continue the discussion that will begin this weekend.

Like all the best stuff being done on the center-left right now. This isn't about 2006 or 2008 or figuring how all the cards might fall right in this or that cycle. It's about creating the building blocks of progressive reform, one step at a time, one lawyer at a time, one new idea at a time, building networks of like-minded individuals who create enduring change. That's stuff that doesn't show results in a week or a month; but it endures. And if done wisely, it's something progressives need a lot more of.

In any case, the conference goes from Friday the 8th through Sunday the 10th. Some of the noteworthy participants include Judge Guido Calabresi and former Judge Patricia Wald, former Solicitors General Drew Days and Seth Waxman, former Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, former Dean of Stanford Law School Kathleen Sullivan, ACS Executive Director Lisa Brown, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress John Podesta, Cory Booker, and constitutional scholars and big-think big-wigs Bruce Ackerman and Cass Sunstein.

Pre-registration is required; but the conference is open to the public with a nominal fee (15 bucks) for attendence. You can see the full schedule here. And they're even chattering about it already on a new conference blog.

It's open to the press too. So if you're within a reasonable distance of New Haven and you care about these issues, you might want to stop by.

Good news from Iraq from the AP ...

Lawmakers put the finishing touches Tuesday on an agreement making Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani president and Shiite Adel Abdul-Mahdi and interim President Ghazi al-Yawer, a Sunni Arab, his two vice presidents.

On Thursday, the 275 lawmakers elected Jan. 30 likely will name Shiite leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari prime minister, clearing the way for lawmakers to begin focusing their attention on writing a permanent constitution by their Aug. 15 deadline.

Every step is a small one. But these are all in right direction.

Don't go! Don't go!

With news now breaking that Rep. Tom DeLay had a 1997 trip to Russia paid for by lobbyists who were, in some fashion or another, working on behalf of the Russian government, there must be a few Democrats out there who worry that he might actually be taken out by these burgeoning scandals. After all, he's great for the Dems. Heck, we're even planning on having a section of the new site we're launching devoted to tracking the DeLay/Abramaff scandal. So it might even require some site redesign on our end.

But, really, I wouldn't worry.

Even if the White House tries to get rid of DeLay (which would not surprise me) I doubt he'll go that easily. And even if he goes, actually make that when he goes, the truth is (and anybody who covers the Hill knows this) that his corruption has seeped all through the House GOP caucus.

There's a reason they call it the DeLay machine. It's not just DeLay. It's a system of organized corruption that many, many Republican members of the House have benefited from. Not all corruption is illegal or even against congressional ethics rules, mind you. But enough of it is, as we're now seeing with DeLay. And he's splashed his mud all over the House.

Late Update: Two other points about DeLay, or rather one question with possibly two answers. Who's turning on the bug man? Call me cynical: but Drudge is playing this story awfully prominently. That makes me wonder whether a thumb at the White House that used to be turned up just turned down. More concretely, a lot of DeLay's lieutenants are now under indictment or on their way there. Eventually, you've got to figure one of them starts to squeal. You've seen Deliverance, right?

So let's see where we are.

The president went to Parkersburg today and said, didn't hint, but said that the Social Security Trust Fund doesn't exist. In other words, he said that the Treasury notes that make up the Trust Fund won't be paid back. And that means that he intends for the government to default on that portion of the national debt.

I know he didn't unpack it that way. But that very much is what it means

Let's break it down to essentials and explain what we're talking about.

For two decades your Social Security payroll taxes have been used to offset the cost of upper-income tax cuts. If I'm not mistaken that money has been used at the highest rate (i.e., in absolute dollars terms per year) under this President Bush. The money is supposed to be paid back, with interest.

That's the deal. That's what bonds are.

But now the president stands there holding on to one of these notes and jokes that they're not worth anything.

Foreigners hold quite a bit of US debt. What are theirs worth? Are they going to get their money paid back?

Wealthy Americans do too. In fact, most of President Bush's personal wealth is in the form of US government debt. Is he going to get his money paid back?

He wants to borrow $5 trillion more. Are those folks going to get paid back?

That's what this is all about. Defaulting on that portion of the federal debt. Those folks will all get their money back. But the president figures you can be stiffed.

If you pay most of your taxes in payroll taxes (like the overwhelming majority of Americans) he's trying to play you for a fool.

Simple as that.

Late Update: Here's a number someone should run. President Bush has been president for four years. He's run very big deficits and during that same period, if I'm not mistaken, Social Security has been running very big surpluses. So his government has been sticking the Social Security administration with Treasury notes that he says and believes are worthless. Obviously the debt obligations of the United States government don't begin and end with each new presidency. That would what, at least until recently, differentiated us from the banana republics of the world. But if he really believes these obligations will never be paid back, why did he use that money -- what must amount to hundreds of billions of dollars -- to subsidize his tax cuts?

Good stuff!

Democratic Whip, Rep. Steny Hoyer's office has an informative and fun calendar posted documenting the first half of the president's Bamboozlepalooza Tour, with a nugget of bad press for each day of the tour so far.

Definitely give it a look.

Ahhhh, March 11th, the NYT reports Bush reduced to using Bamboozlepalooza to win over Republicans. Brings back memories. Okay, okay, I'll spare you ...