Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

It seems that right after Ed. Secretary Margaret Spellings got through with her sapphic cartoon to-do list, she announced the appointment of -- inter alios -- Emily Kertz Lampkin as one of two deputy chiefs of staff.

This press release on the department website says that prior to this appointment Kertz Lampkin "served as the Department's director of No Child Left Behind communications and outreach for the past two years."

Doesn't that mean she handled the Armstrong Williams account?

Oh, a moment rich in schadenfreude for the TPM faithful everywhere.

Here in the transcript of today's presidential press conference our man Carl Cameron (he of the Kerry-manicure imbroglio) tries to oblige but momentarily forgets the new party-line (emphasis added with great pleasure) ...

A question on Social Security, if we may, sir. There has been, as you move forward to making your plan -- your ultimate proposal, growing concern among Republicans on Capitol Hill. We had Chairman Thomas last week with some concern about the process, and Senator Olympia Snowe on the other side suggesting that she's concerned about an absentee guaranteed benefit -- excuse me. Are you prepared today to say that those who opt into a potential private account -- personal account could, in fact, have a guaranteed benefit, as well? And what do you say to Republicans who are beginning to worry?

If any covert TPMer should happen to <$NoAd$> encounter Cameron in the next twenty-four hours, please take a moment to inspect the knuckles for the tell-tale bruise.

[ed.note: Our cup of thanks runneth over for TPM reader LG who just won himself a shirt.]

Yesterday we mentioned that the rapid deterioration of Republican support for President Bush's Social Security phase-out plan had necessitated a revision of the bylaws of the Republican Conscience Caucus.

The entry today of Sen. Gordon Smith (R) of Oregon made the need for a new system of classification even more pressing.

In a subsequent post we will go into more detail about the Caucus's new bylaws. For now, however, with the entry of Sen. Smith, we are adding a new subdivision of the Caucus. As you know, "L&P" Caucus members are those who appear "Loud and Proud" in their opposition to the president's phase-out plan. Our new designation "FIW" ("Finger In the Wind") designates those representatives or senators who have publicly made more or less clear, as Sen. Smith has done, that they are happy to begin phasing out Social Security so long as the president can make it safe for them to do so.

See the revised Conscience Caucus list here.

Late Breaking Margaret Spellings Lesbian Update!

Earlier we noted that fast on the heels of the SpongeBob controversy, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings had come out swinging against another well-known cartoon character (Buster the Rabbit) for associating with lesbians.

In our earlier post, however, we incorrectly stated that she was attacking "lesbian cartoon characters." Not so. In fact, I'm told now by several TPM readers, the lesbians with whom cartoon character 'Buster' met were living, breathing, human lesbians.

Apropos of this point, the topic of cartoon-human interaction itself appears now to be emerging as a source of some controversy and press attention. Here, for instance, is a photograph of a recent meeting between SpongeBob and The Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ at the Church's world headquarters in Cleveland.

Terence Hunt of AP: a 'personal' accounts man.

Not so, David Espo: He's stickin' with 'private' accounts.

Late Update: My bad. Not sure how I didn't see this on first inspection, but it turns out Espo's switch-hitting, mixing his 'personal' accounts with his 'private' ones, and actually leaning toward the former.

Never too Late to Update Update: Okay, now things are really getting fishy. TPM Reader PF just sent in this note: "In your linked column, Espo does not use 'private accounts' at all. The article appears to have been posted at 4:31 pm EST, 45 minutes after your post. Did you see a different version of his article? Is this evidence of retroactive deprivatizing?" And by golly, he's right! I just checked and this time 'private accounts' doesn't appear once. So, yes, over the course of the day the phrase 'private accounts' would appear to be swirling down the memory hole before our very eyes. I suspect now that my first reading wasn't wrong either. It must have gone from 'private' accounts, to both, to now just 'personal'.

A note from TPM reader Paul Krugman ...

Today's WSJ lead editorial is a classic. It's titled "All you need to know", and shows the CBO projection of declining deficits and stable debt. What they either don't know or believe readers don't know is that this is the *baseline* projection, which assumes that the sunset clauses in the tax cuts actually go into effect, with the whole thing expiring at the end of 2010 (which is halfway through fiscal 2011, in their chart.) It also assumes that nothing is done to reform the alternative minimum tax, which amounts to a stealth tax increase. So what they've proved is that the tax cuts are affordable as long as they go away ...

I say that man deserves a Special Edition Privatize This! TPM T-Shirt!

Another senate Republican checking out the upholstery in the Conscience Caucus cloakroom?

From today's CQ ...

A second moderate Republican on the Finance Committee, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, would not commit to supporting Bush’s plan, and added that the administration has not marketed it well.


"I’m philosophically open to [Bush’s plan]; I’m not signed up to it,” Smith said.

Both Snowe and Smith said they like the idea of “add-on” Social Security personal accounts funded from a source other than Social Security’s payroll tax revenue.


"A lot of us expressed that the White House started the debate, but the media and the other side are finishing the debate,” Smith said. “He needs to go back on offense.”

Sen. Smith: If you can protect me, you have my vote. <$NoAd$>Otherwise, I'm in the Caucus. I may even get a TPM T-Shirt out of it.