Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

TPM Reader FL adds to RM's comments: "RM's argument on the need for stable Social Security benefits is reenforced by an argument by Zvi Bodie (a BU finance professor) made on NPR last night. PBGC (for whom Bodie consults) is supposed to be self-financing. Inheriting the UAL pension system will require that PBGC raise insurance rates on remaining defined benefit plans. Higher insurance rates will accelerate employer moves out of defined benefit plans and over to 401K's."

TPM Reader RM chimes in: "The decision yesterday by the bankruptcy court permitting United Airlines to walk away from some $10 billion in unfunded pension liabilities -- sticking a substantial portion of the tab on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Association and causing employees to lose as much as 50% of their expected retirement benefits -- ought to exemplify why it is necessary to retain at least one leg of the retirement "three-legged stool" that is not subject to the risk(s) of market forces and/or corporate uncertainty. Social Security needs to stay as social insurance. The Dems ought to be all over this argument."

Jill! Jill! Jill!

I thought we had at least put the 'nuclear option' word game mumbojumbo to rest. Even most Republicans are embarrassed to call it the 'constitutional option' now.

But now we find <$NoAd$> this from Jill Zuckman in the Trib ...

Fearful of the political fallout from such a confrontation, some Democratic and Republican senators were attempting to craft a compromise.

But there was little indication they had made much progress or attracted the support necessary to avoid the so-called nuclear option. That is the term Democrats have given to the possible end to the filibuster, which requires 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to cut off debate, and instead allow up-or-down votes in which only 51 votes would be needed for confirmation.

(Your heart just sinks, doesn't it?)

Tell Jill Zuckman, no more nuclear-backsliding!

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Reader GC for keeping Zuckman under surveillance.)

Late Update: Here's the correction the Tribune had to run about the 'nuclear option' the last time they goofed on this point.

Trent Lott to go where only SpongeBob has gone before?

As James Dobson prepares the auto de fe, he tells the American Family Association's Don Wildmon: "I don't remember being so disgusted and alarmed by what I just had confirmed in the Senate as I am now. Senator Trent Lott is about to sabotage Majority Leader Frist and cut a separate deal with the Democrats to preserve the filibuster of judges."

(ed.note: A note of thanks to TPM Reader VS for pre-screening this claptrap so we had to read no more than was absolutely necessary for comedic purposes.)

Wah. Wah. And did I mention, Wah.

Now the story is that privatization is going down the tubes because of liberal media bias.

So says Herman Cain in The National Review.

The excuse that's always ready at hand.

Speaking of Bankruptcy ...

From the AP: "A federal bankruptcy judge approved United Airlines’ plan to terminate its employees’ pension plans on Tuesday, clearing the way for the largest corporate-pension default in American history. The ruling, which carries broad implications for U.S. airlines and their workers, shifts responsibility for United’s four defined-benefit plans to the government’s pension agency."

I hope to address this in greater detail in a subsequent post. And I'm glad to see it is already garnering a slowly-rising chorus of criticism. But let me just start with a brief comment on President Bush's historically ignorant and morally hideous claim that "the agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact."

To compare the results of the Yalta Conference to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the key element of which was a secret agreement by which the 20th century's two great dictators agreed to carve up the defenseless neighbour between them, is truly unconscionable. And to compare it to Munich is little less so.

In making this argument the president joins a rich tradition of maniacs who believe that at the end of World War II we should have joined with the defeated remainder of the German army and fought our way through Eastern Europe to the border of Russia and, in all likelihood, on to Moscow to overthrow the Soviet Union itself -- certainly not a difficult proposition considering what an insubstantial land Army the Soviet Union had at the time.

If that seems like an over-dramatic alternative scenario, then you just aren't familiar with the history of the period.

Roosevelt didn't hand the Baltics, Poland and the rest of what became the Warsaw Pact countries over to Soviet rule. The Red Army was there in force already. The question was whether we were able and willing to remove them by force.

The president also makes common cause, though whether he's familiar with the history he's wading into I don't know, with those who argued before the war and after that the US and the UK made their fundamental error in the war itself, by allying with the Soviets against Nazism rather than with Nazism against the Soviets.

Now, no one can expect that Latvians or Poles are going to have warm or cordial feelings about the Great Power agreements at the end of the war. The plain fact is that the outcome of the war led to the imposition of Communist dictatorships across Eastern Europe that lasted for more than forty years. But one cannot assess the morality or political insight of American and British decision-making in the late stages of the war without standing them up against the real alternatives they faced. Anything else is just cheap posturing or folly. In the president's case, perhaps both.