Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

For all of us who criticize from the sidelines, sometimes it's hard to appreciate the sort of tireless, behind-the-scenes efforts that the White House puts into into screwing the middle class and abandoning those displaced and uprooted by Katrina.

From the LAT ...

Two days after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced plans to issue emergency vouchers aimed at helping poor storm victims find new housing quickly by covering as much as $10,000 of their rent.

But the department suddenly backed away from the idea after White House aides met with senior HUD officials. Although emergency vouchers had been successfully used after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the administration focused instead on a plan for government-built trailer parks, an approach that even many Republicans say would concentrate poverty in the very fashion the government has long sought to avoid.

A similar struggle has occurred over how to provide healthcare to storm victims. White House officials are quietly working to derail a proposal by leading Republican and Democratic senators to temporarily expand Medicaid. Instead, the administration is pushing a narrower plan that would not commit the government to covering certain groups of evacuees.

There's plenty more in the <$NoAd$> piece.

Just for the sake of discussion, and I'd be particularly eager to hear from TPM's right-leaning readers on this one, isn't the idea of giving rent vouchers to refugees rather than stacking them up in mobile housing projects something that folks on both sides of the aisle should be able to agree on?

On the hand, who gets to build and fit out the gazillion standard issue mobile homes? Halliburton residential? I guess that's the answer.

Now down to a mere thirteen Democrats who haven't yet signed on as cosponsors of H.R. 3763, the bill to overturn the Gulf Coast Wage Cut ...

1. Mr. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of Georgia 2. Mr. Dan Boren of Oklahoma 3. Mr. Rick Boucher of Virginia 4. Mr. Allen Boyd of Florida 5. Mr. Robert E. "Bud" Cramer Jr. of Alabama 6. Mr. Henry Cuellar of Texas 7. Mr. Lincoln Davis of Tennessee 8. Mr. Bob Etheridge of North Carolina 9. Mr. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina 10. Ms. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia 11. Mr. John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina 12. Mr. John S. Tanner of Tennessee 13. Mr. Melvin L. Watt of North Carolina

The number of Republicans who have signed on as cosponsors has now risen to zero.

Another Iraq War vet to run for Congress, Bryan Lentz. He's going to run against Rep. Curt "Freelance Spy/International Man of Mystery/Shaken not Stirred" Weldon (R-PA).

We had Rep. Ferguson (R) of New Jersey down as a Wage Cut Wiggler. But now it seems he's a 'Serious Concerns' man -- one the moderate Republicans (signers of the LoBiondo letter) whose concerns are serious enough to send a letter asking the president to set a date when he'll stop docking wages but not serious enough to vote for the bill to end the Wage Cut right now.

Dumpmike.com has just posted a copy of the letter Ferguson has sent to his constituents.

Big Truba? AP: "Hospital operator HCA (HCA) said Friday that federal prosecutors have issued a subpoena for documents the company believes may be related to the sale of its stock by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. A release from the company said the subpoena came from the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York."

Okay, let's fill in a few of the blank spaces in this new Post article about Jack Abramoff and Karl Rove.

The story, as we get it in today's article, is that Timothy E. Flanigan is the General Counsel of Tyco and now President Bush's nominee for Deputy Attorney General. A couple years ago when Tyco was interested in fending off legislation that might have required them to pay their taxes, Abramoff was hired to do a little of his magic for them and get Tyco off the hook. Abramoff reported to Flanigan on the account. And in the course of that work he first boasted of his juice with Karl Rove and later claimed he had in fact contacted Rove about Tyco's needs.

Fair enough.

But this Newsweek article from a few weeks ago notes that Flanigan worked at the White House before he went to Tyco. In fact, he was Deputy White House Counsel. And Abramoff didn't just report to Flanigan. Flanigan hired Abramoff.

Now, the Post piece treats it as an open question whether Abramoff was just puffing or blowing smoke, as lobbyists sometimes will, when he talked about his ties to Rove and his ability to get action from him.

But Flanigan had already been Deputy White House Counsel. That tells me he knew pretty well how the Bush White House operated and the juice Abramoff had there. The odds that Abramoff just bamboozled Flanigan seem surpassingly low.

Another point ...

In the Newsweek article from a month ago, a spokesman said on Rove's behalf that he had "never spoken to [Abramoff] about any of his clients." In today's Post piece the spokesman says Rove "has no recollection" of Abramoff's contacting him about Tyco.

I'm told that in the clinical literature this is called the 'Safavian effect'.

And one more point ...

The Post reports that Flanigan says that if he's confirmed as Deputy AG he'll recuse himself from any decisions relating to Abramoff and Tyco. Imagine that.

The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section is involved in a massive investigation of Abramoff, his business affairs and his ties to major Republican political figures like Rove and Tom DeLay. The investigation has already led to the arrest of one White House official. Abramoff himself has been indicted in a case that is nominally separate from the Washington investigation but is in fact closely tied to it.

Flanigan worked at the White House. He then left the White House, only to turn around and hire Abramoff to lobby the White House and Rove in particular.

Somebody tell me with a straight face that this guy can ethically deal with anything tied to the Abramoff case. Face it: from the word go at DOJ this guy has to recuse himself from everything having to do with Abramoff.

A tip for the folks in the White House press corps or other enterprising reporters.

We know now from the Post that David Safavian had some awkward connections with certain people later accused and/or convicted of ties to Islamic terrorism.

But I hear the Secret Service had serious concerns about Safavian's ties too and did not want to give him a badge to work at the White House. And I hear these concerns came up not just with the OMB job but in the earlier one at GSA as well.

Needless to say they were overruled and Safavian got his clearances.

AP: "When Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist asked a trustee to sell all his stock in his family's hospital corporation, a large-scale sell-off by HCA Inc. insiders was under way."

WaPo:"Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff bragged two years ago that he was in contact with White House political aide Karl Rove on behalf of a large, Bermuda-based corporation that wanted to avoid incurring some taxes and continue receiving federal contracts, according to a written statement by President Bush's nominee to be deputy attorney general."

(ed.note: As of about 5 PM on Friday afternoon, we're no longer accepting requests for tickets to the movie below. -- jmm)

Do you live in the New York City <$NoAd$>area?

Do you like TPM?

Next Wednesday night, September 28th, at 7:30 PM TPM is hosting a special advance screening of Serenity at the Union Square Stadium theater.

Serenity is the new film by Joss Whedon, the guy behind the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. This showing is only for TPM Readers. And it's free.

If you'd like to join us. Send in an email to movie@talkingpointsmemo.com with the subject line Serenity. Include your name and how many seats you'd like to reserve. (Two tickets per person; if you have other friends or family who want to attend too, have them email in as well).

Now, a bit of disclosure and transparency. Studios do advance screenings like this to generate buzz for a new movie. And that's what they're doing here. We're not getting paid anything for doing this. They get some publicity and some word of mouth buzz. We get to host a couple hundred readers at a movie in New York. And our readers get to meet fellow readers and see a free movie. I'll get to meet a bunch of you in person too; and that will be a treat for me.

So that's the score. And we were happy to give it a try on that basis.

And one last thing: If you don't live in the New York City area, don't fret. The studio has a bunch of preview screenings of Serenity around the country next week. And they've set aside seats for TPM Readers at each venue. Click here to find out how to request tickets.