Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

In the Concord Monitor this morning, former <$Ad$>Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) unloads a fusillade of denunciation against Jim Tobin for his role in the 2002 phone jamming case.

It is only fair to say that Smith is not without an interest or an axe to grind in this matter. You'll remember that he left and then rejoined the Republican party. And then John Sununu, the eventual Republican candidate in whose interest the phone jamming scam was perpetrated, beat him in the 2002 Republican primary, thus ending his senate career.

All that said, however, his denunciation is right on the mark.

From Mr. Smith, who once went to Washington ...

Both parties have a right to expect a fair election result even if it is not always a favorable one. Tobin also said, "It is disappointing, indeed, to see the opposition party (Democrats) manipulate the court system in a blatant attempt to influence the election."

What a mind-numbing hypocritical answer that is! Who is trying to influence elections, Mr. Tobin? Please do not insult us further.

New Hampshire Democrat Party Chair Kathy Sullivan said, "The public should know Tobin's role in this, along with the roles of any other high-level GOP officials."

Kathy and I have not agreed very often, but she is absolutely correct. We need the truth now to restore confidence in the coming election. She has a right to be angry. Can you imagine the Republican outrage if the Democrats had been guilty of similar conduct? Does a party that refuses to tell the truth before Election Day deserve our vote on election day?


The guy who helped organize election tampering last cycle gets appointed by the Bush campaign to run their election operation this cycle. And he only resigns his post after his role becomes public knowledge rather than the inside scoop among Republican operatives and a few DOJ lawyers. That's as big an outrage as the original offense.

The flu ...<$NoAd$>

Late this summer, at the first sign of new problems at Chiron Corp.'s long-troubled plant, the British began searching for other suppliers of flu vaccine.

“When Chiron informed us of the potential problems at the end of August, we made contingency agreements,” said Alison Langley, a spokeswoman for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, the British equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Armed with essentially the same information, however, U.S. officials relied on Chiron's early assurances that only a small portion of the flu vaccine from its Liverpool plant was contaminated.

It was not until Oct. 5, when the British pulled Chiron's license, that they knew that half the U.S. flu vaccine supply had just disappeared, producing the lines and shortages that the country is now enduring.

The article goes on to point out that even if US officials had reacted as proactively as the Brits, we still would have had a more difficult time grappling with the problem.

There are a) more Americans than Brits, b) the British were relying on this one plant for a smaller percentage of their flu vaccine needs, and c) a smaller percentage of the British population gets a regular flu shot. For all those reasons combined, the US shortfall is about 45 million doses while the Brits' is probably a bit under 2 million.

Still, it seems clear that not only were we depending on too few suppliers, but that someone was asleep at the switch when the warning lights started blinking.

Yep, like we said this afternoon, among the jobless.

Sinclair Broadcasting's Washington Bureau chief Jonathan Lieberman got canned this afternoon for denouncing Sinclair's Swift Boat stunt in an interview for this morning's Baltimore Sun.

I give this guy a lot of credit. I feel bad for him. And I really hope someone picks him up quickly.

But my strongest impression is simply the outlandish quality of this drama. It's like we're a banana republic suddenly. Or it's like the late 19th century in some unruly part of this country where the local papers and most of the legislators were owned by some railroad boss or some similar honcho or tycoon. Only now the rot and swindlerdom of it all is magnified by cutting edge technology.

PS. Why isn't the Kerry campaign or the DNC slapping together an ad with the video of President Bush saying he isn't concerned about bin Laden?

I have no friggin' idea.

Late Update: I've been hassling folks about this for days. But, as of today, it turns out they do have such an ad. It still doesn't include as much of the quote as I'd like. And it uses the text quote rather than the actual video. But it hits the basic point. And on this I'm quite happy to be corrected.

Even Later Update: I was going to suggest that it'd be much better to use the actual video to give a feel for the president's swagger and nonchalance in saying he wasn't concerned about bin Laden. So I jumped back to the post I did from a few days ago about this to get the link to the transcript and the video clip. But when I clicked on the video link it wouldn't come up. Then I remembered that someone had sent me an email alleging that the White House had been pulling embarrassing video feeds from the White House website. And indeed this site claims that the particular clip in question has been pulled down, even though the video for the press conference immediately before and after this one remain. I can't say myself whether there's not some more innocent or more technical-snafu type explanation. But it does strike me as suspicious. And I'd be eager to hear more about this.

Later and Later into the Night Update: Moveon does have an ad with the video in question. And it's good. But, honestly, I don't think it's as well put together as it might be. The fact that the president lied about having said this in the debate, or forgot he'd ever said it, is less the point than his palpable lack of interest in finding bin Laden as evidenced by the clip itself.

A telling line ...

[Kerry] refuses to acknowledge progress, or praise the growing democratic spirit in Iraq. He has not made democracy a priority of his foreign policy. But what is his strategy, his vision, his answer? Is he content to watch and wait, as anger and resentment grow for more decades in the Middle East, feeding more terrorism until radicals without conscience gain the weapons to kill without limit?

This is a passage from the <$Ad$>president's 'major address' on foreign policy today. And statements such as these are the ones that take us beyond mere lying, which the president's campaign is doing so much of today, to a more fatal and willful myopia.

Kerry will "watch and wait, as anger and resentment grow" in the Middle East?

Does the president think we're in the bubble with him?

Let me first stipulate that I have long thought and continue to believe that, setting the issue of methods and modalities aside, liberalization in the Middle East is a key strategic interest of the United States. But if anger and resentment is your issue, who cannot see that on this point, with his methods and modalities, President Bush has sown the wind and is now reaping the whirlwind?

You might argue that bottled up emotions pale in comparison to force and power. But if you are making the argument about hearts-and-minds, who denies that by every measure, both empirical and impressionistic, President Bush has conjured these passions almost more than all before him combined? The rhetoric has truly achieved lift-off from the facts.

This is grand strategy by vacant syllogism and cliche. It gives a new meaning to sound and fury signifying nothing.

Just out, CBS/NYT poll: Bush 47%, Kerry 45%. President's approval rating, 44%.

"This was not an unfortunate misreading of the available evidence, causing a mistaken linkage between Iraq and al-Qaida. This was something else -- a willful choice to make a specific linkage whether evidence existed or not."

Al Gore today, saying what is undeniably true, though something the White House has managed to again make controversial.

Many of you have read this Knight-Ridder article by Strobel and Walcott already. But in <$NoAd$>case you haven't or only did so in passing, let me excerpt the first few grafs ...

In March 2003, days before the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American war planners and intelligence officials met at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to review the Bush administration's plans to oust Saddam Hussein and implant democracy in Iraq.

Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners' parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material - and for good reason.

The slide said: "To Be Provided."

A Knight Ridder review of the administration's Iraq policy and decisions has found that it invaded Iraq without a comprehensive plan in place to secure and rebuild the country. The administration also failed to provide some 100,000 additional U.S. troops that American military commanders originally wanted to help restore order and reconstruct a country shattered by war, a brutal dictatorship and economic sanctions.

In fact, some senior Pentagon officials had thought they could bring most American soldiers home from Iraq by September 2003. Instead, more than a year later, 138,000 U.S. troops are still fighting terrorists who slip easily across Iraq's long borders, diehards from the old regime and Iraqis angered by their country's widespread crime and unemployment and America's sometimes heavy boots.

"We didn't go in with a plan. We went in with a theory," said a veteran State Department officer who was directly involved in Iraq policy.

In truth this is not so different from what folks who were reporting on this stuff at the time were hearing as it all unfolded. But it's quite a thing to hear all the unforgivable details set out in such detail.