Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

The president's supporters speak up.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "The only real way to fix Social Security is, over the long haul, to convert this socialist wealth-redistribution scheme into a free-market, wealth-creation program. And the best place to start is with the modest private accounts the Bush administration proposes."

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Reader DM for the catch.)

As of 6:12 PM on the east coast, go look at the front page of the CNN website and the extreme close-up picture of Terri Schiavo. Whatever your position on this issue, is this extreme close-up of Mrs. Schiavo compatible with preserving some measure of dignity for her? What's the editorial judgment behind this choice of images?

I would say it seems exploitative; but that wouldn't help distinguish it from the rest of CNN's coverage.

(ed.note: TPM Reader KC pointed this out to me.)

Late Update: The photo in question came down at some point early this evening. The image of Schiavo and her mother -- which is posted as of 10:52 PM -- is not the one I was referring to.

Max Sawicky says that he's found no book-cooking in the new Social Security Trustees report. And, Max being Max, I don't think he'd say that if it weren't true. So until I hear evidence to the contrary, I withdraw my original skepticism.

(This doesn't address the separate issue of the generally pessimistic baselines the SSA actuaries use and used in previous years.)

Max also notes that the solvency picture painted by the report isn't as clearly negative as original press reports suggested.

Late Update: Did I speak too soon? Brad DeLong brings us the latest. It's the productivity, stupid! (Actually, the vocative there applies to me and I happily leave all these complicated numbers to those who understand them better than I.)

President makes progress!

First House Republican from Alabama comes out in favor of private accounts: Rep. Spencer Bachus.

Reports the Birmingham News: "More than once, Bachus stressed that Bush is not seeking to privatize Social Security, but he said giving workers a chance at private investments to boost their retirement is worth a try."

That's one down and four to go.

"Contrition is always nice, but it all depends on what gets on the air. That’s the true test."

That and more from Joe Hagan's piece in the Observer on what the White House says CBS has to do to get in its good graces.

It will be interesting to see what Heyward and his fellow geldings at Black Rock come up with this year. But don't expect it will be pretty.

They're still sitting on the goods in the Niger story after all.

"I am extremely concerned that someone familiar with Defense Department classified reporting has forged this document and given it to the press in the hope that it would be reported as genuine. Such an action raises deeply troubling questions about the integrity of the department's processes and raises the possibility of an organized effort to intimidate me as a journalist."

That's a clip from a letter military analyst Bill Arkin recently sent to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And Arkin was right to be troubled.

Arkin found out about the document when he got a call from Washington Times national security reporter Bill Gertz, who sent him a copy. The phoney cable suggested that he, Arkin, had worked as a spy in the pay of Saddam Hussein.

I want to make very clear that no one is suggesting that Gertz either participated in the production of this document or knew that it was bogus. Indeed, from what I can tell from this piece from the Post last week, he did just what a reporter should have done in this case: he went to the person in question and asked for comment.

It soon became clear that the document was bogus -- a point that no one seems to question, including DOD spokesmen. Gertz declined requests for comment from the Post.

But someone was behind this. And given Arkin's role in uncovering various unpleasant facts about those in power, the motive doesn't seem particularly hard to figure out. Yet Larry DiRita says an investigation into the source of the forged document is "not likely."

We still don't know who forged the bogus Niger documents, even though we now know that their circuitous path into US hands was set in motion by a member of Italian military intelligence. (Any on-going -- such as it was -- investigation into this caper was finally ended earlier this month when Sen. Roberts shut down the promised second half of the investigation into pre-war intelligence on Iraq.)

Add this to the trove of phoney documents which have flowed out of Iraq in the last two years and you end up with a lot of phoney documents whose origins have never been explained.

No transcripts from the White House for Cheney's Bamboozlepalooza events? Holden points us to some local newspaper coverage that may help explain why.

For months now I've been saving string for a piece on the Washington Post's endlessly fatuous series of editorials on Social Security and fiscal policy -- the board seems caught between subservience to the silk-thin assumptions of right-leaning Washington conventional wisdom and an almost parodic level of ignorance about the effect these changes have on most Americans (see this for but one richly evocative example.)

But today's piece is worth at least an interim mention. It is another knock at the Democrats for not buying into the president's claim that Social Security is in a state of 'crisis'.

Given what's become clear over the last three months, the Post is compelled to concede that the president's 'plan' does nothing to deal with Social Security's solvency issues, that his tax cuts create a shortfall "three times greater than the Social Security shortfall projected by the trustees" and that Medicare is a far more pressing problem.

Still, the Post continues ...

it's hard to take seriously the Democrats who say that Mr. Bush should switch focus from Social Security to the much bigger problem of Medicare: If they aren't willing to play a constructive role on the supposedly "minor" challenge of Social Security, why should anyone believe that they would behave constructively if the administration wanted to fix Medicare?

As the Post's endless tergiversations for Washington's new luxe Republican establishment again show us, you can work so hard bending over backwards for some folks that you find yourself bending over forward. As they have.

The final blow ...

Support for President Bush's plan to create personal Social Security retirement accounts which might include stocks or mutual funds has dropped over the last month among Americans under age 30, according to a poll released Thursday.

Young adults have been the strongest supporters of the proposal for months. Support among those 18-29 dipped from seven in 10 to just under half, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. A quarter of young adults now say they're not sure how they feel about such personal accounts.

More here on the Pew Poll.

Public/Private Partnership. NBC's First Read notes that Sens. Frist, Santorum and Martinez are showing up for Progress for America's Bamboozlepalooza event next week in Tampa ...

By the way, look who's going to Tampa on Wednesday for a Social Security town hall: Senators Frist, Santorum, and Martinez. The event is being sponsored by pro-private accounts Progress for America.

More on this to follow ...