Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

It's seems that we're divided into two camps when it comes to the news on Avian Flu coming out of Southeast Asia: those who are worried silly about it and those who just haven't heard the news yet. Perhaps worried silly is an overstatement; but it's scary stuff. And along those lines here's a post which suggests (much too persuasively for comfort) that the guy in charge of flu pandemic response at HHS may be another Michael Brown in the making. Perhaps we can send this guy packing before he does a heckuva job on all us.

More from the AP ...

The Bush administration's former chief procurement official was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on charges of making false statements and obstructing investigations into high-powered Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The five felony counts in the indictment charge David H. Safavian with obstructing Senate and executive branch investigations into whether he aided Abramoff in efforts to acquire property controlled by the General Services Administration around the nation's capital. Both probes looked into an August 2002 golf outing that Safavian took to Scotland with Abramoff, former Christian Coalition executive Ralph Reed, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, and others.

More soon<$NoAd$>.

From the AP ...

Tom DeLay deliberately raised more money than he needed to throw parties at the 2000 presidential convention, then diverted some of the excess to longtime ally Roy Blunt through a series of donations that benefited both men's causes.

When the financial carousel stopped, DeLay's private charity, the consulting firm that employed DeLay's wife and the Missouri campaign of Blunt's son all ended up with money, according to campaign documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist recently charged in an ongoing federal corruption and fraud investigation, and Jim Ellis, the DeLay fundraiser indicted with his boss last week in Texas, also came into the picture.

Round and round it goes, where it stops <$NoAd$> ...

Al Gore gave a speech this morning on the decline of the media, public discourse in America, and the threat both hold for the future of American democracy. See the transcript here.

From reader emails, it seems there were more than a few who took my comments yesterday about Miers to mean that I think that Dems should support her. I'm not sure how that meaning got across. But if it did, mark it down as my not being clear enough when I was thinking out loud.

My point was to note the real possibility that Miers could be knocked out only to be replaced by a genuine extremist who would likely be voted through without much difficulty by Senate Republicans.

Extremist versus hacklicious toady, sort of sums up the choices that may be on offer.

Along those lines, Sen. Lott now puts himself down as leaning against.

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is telling leading Dems he's in the race against Sen. DeWine in Ohio, will announce this week.

From Roll Call (sub.req.): "Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) questioned Tuesday whether Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers has a 'firm commitment' to what he called the framers’ 'original intent' of the Constitution, saying that President Bush’s knowledge of her “heart” didn’t end the need for tough questioning."

I was thinking yesterday about the Miers nomination. And it occurred to me that while President Bush may not be world's most brilliant man, as Miers has claimed, he may have an unintended knack for irony.

In the case of John Roberts the president served up a nominee who was pretty clearly a down-the-line conservative but also, in the sense of value-neutral credentials and qualifications, certainly qualified for the job. With Miers, you have someone with what might be real moderate tendencies, but also someone who on pretty much every count seems unqualified for the position.

So what to do?

Certainly one thing to do is sit back and relish the brewing fight between the principled wingnuts and the confirmed Bush toadies. At the same time, it must be occurring to at least some Dems that, at least in ideological terms, they could likely do far worse than Miers. In any case, set that all aside and focus on the fact that Miers has been involved -- often deeply involved -- in pretty much everything that the White House has been trying to keep secret for going on five years. That should make for interesting questioning.

With all the speculation and contention about the three indictments Travis County Prosecutor Ronnie Earle has secured against Tom DeLay, it's easy to forget one point: the Earle investigation was supposed to be the one DeLay squeaked by on, the lesser of the two ethical-legal sandtraps on his politico-personal horizon.

Whatever the disposition of the Texas indictments, most Republicans will now tell you, privately, that they don't expect DeLay ever to recover the Majority Leader's office. But even if he manages that highly improbable early knock-out blow in Texas, he's still got the Abramoff case waiting.

The news out of the UK this week -- that DOJ officials asked their counterparts in England and Scotland to do follow up interviews about DeLay's activities on his Abramoff trips -- is another sign that he's at the center of the Abramoff investigation. That's where his real problems have always been.