Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

For months people have asked me this question: Why is everyone else in trouble over the Plame story but Robert Novak?

Earlier in the progress of the case, I thought I had two good answers. One, prosecutors usually work from the outside of a case in. Thus, it make sense that they'd get to secondary players like Cooper and Miller first. Second, precisely because of his immediate involvement in what happened, I suspected that Novak might be able to invoke the 5th amendment and not testify. Ironically, under this theory, that would put Cooper et al. in more jeopardy precisely because they're not accused of playing a role in the commission of a crime. And thus they've got no plausible 5th amendment claim to hide behind.

Now, clearly, if it ever was, we're way too far into this for my first answer to be correct. And I'm no longer sure my second one is either.

So why is it exactly that Novak is sitting pretty?

We're discussing it over at the TPMCafe politics discussion table.

Ed Kilgore and I are discussing the politics of the seemingly impending Rehnquist retirement over at TPMCafe. Ed seems to be thinking along the same lines I was yesterday evening -- that if President Bush must get to choose Rehnquist's successor, let it be now. Far better politically for the Democrats, far better shot at a better (or at least, a less bad) conclusion.

Can this be true? Says Judd Legum at ThinkProgress: "For the fourth straight time since his lawyer admitted that Rove was one of Matt Cooper’s sources, no member of the White House press corps asked a question about Rove’s role."

Duke-Kontogiannis grudge match plays out!

The North County Times has obtained Coast Guard documents which show that in May Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham signed two registration documents attesting that he was the owner of the Kelly C when in fact it was owned by New York real estate developer Thomas Kontogiannis who paid Duke $627,000 not long after he was convicted of price-rigging and bribery back in New York.

After signing the first document he sent a follow-up letter to the Coast Guard in which he wrote: "I am the sole owner of the 'Kelly C.'"

When asked, Duke's lawyer K. Lee Blalack told the paper: "These documents are entirely consistent with your previous reports regarding Duke's attempt to register the Kelly C in his name in anticipation of its resale from Mr. Kontogiannis." So, I guess Blalack is saying the documents confirm the paper's early claim that Duke made false statement on official government documents?

Meanwhile, a San Diego yacht salesman says of the sale price: "It might be worth a couple hundred thousand, maybe ----- but probably not ... I would say that what he sold it for is a gross overestimate of value."

Then there's this: "Kontogiannis said that the bill of sale he received from Cunningham is for $1 plus other valuables. When asked why they agreed to put the sale price so low, when in fact the amount he said he paid Cunningham was $627,000, Kontogiannis said that using a symbolic price of $1 is common in such transactions."

I've never bought or sold a boat. But is that common?

"My first thought when I heard - just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack [i.e., yesterday's terrorist attack in London] and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'"

Name me the major network news anchor who could survive having made such a comment as his first reaction to a major terrorist attack.

That is, one beside Brit Hume, who said it.

David Sirota has more.

Duke Shaken? Stirred? Or just poured down the drain?

Option number three, says George E. Condon Jr. of Copley News Service.

And this one's lousy with quotes to sate your DukenSchadenfreude.

Charlie Cook: "I don't think Cunningham could be elected in that district anymore. You can make the case that almost any other Republican could, but not Cunningham."

Stu Rothenberg: "People are waiting to see when he gets out -- not if he gets out, but when he gets out."

GOP Consultant/Lobbyist John M. Dadian: "He's dead."

Meanwhile, Molly Ivins also gives Duke a stir.

Perhaps I'm not thinking this through clearly enough. So I'd be obliged to hear from others. But assuming that the rumors are true and that Chief Justice Rehnquist will announce his retirement tomorrow, this seems like a good thing for the Dems, not a bad thing.

Obviously that reasoning is premised on the assumption that Rehnquist will retire at some point in the very near future regardless, certainly before the end of the president's tenure in office and in all likelihood before November 2006. So as long as President Bush will appoint Rehnquist's successor, better, it seems to me, that both nominations take place simultaneously.

Here's my reasoning.

To the extent that there was a logic to kicking the filibuster can down the road until a Supreme Court nomination came up, it was that Democrats would only stand to gain by more public attention, both to the extremism of a potential nominee and the rule-breaking of banning the filibuster using an obviously-phoney constitutional pretext. I think that's a decent theory of the situation. And for better or worse, it's the one they went with. So they might as well play it out.

Secondly, this battle will be played out as much in the nation's newspaper editorial board rooms and among the glitz commentators as anywhere else. The best argument that the Dems can make is that President Bush is in a loose sense trying to pack the Court, trying to push the Court decisively to the right by appointing an activist and an ideologue. It seems to me that that argument is much stronger if he's appointing two of nine than one of nine.

Perhaps another way to put this is that I think it would be much easier for President Bush to push through one hard-right nominee now and another next spring or next summer than it will be for him to push twice at once.

That's my initial take. Tell me what you think. I've set up a discussion thread here at TPMCafe.

You may well have read it already. But if not I want to call your attention to the statement today of Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London. It ripples with all the unadorned democratic resolution and humanity the moment calls for, with none of the puffery and obfuscation and lies that will drag us all, eventually, into the pit. It has a particular potency and force in this moment of manufactured division since Livingstone comes from the most leftward part of the British party political spectrum.

It's lengthy. But I think it's worth reprinting in its entirety ...

“This was a cowardly attack, which has resulted in injury and loss of life. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been injured, or lost loved ones. I want to thank the emergency services for the way they have responded.

Following the al-Qaeda attacks on September 11 in America we conducted a series of exercises in London in order to be prepared for just such an attack. One of the exercises undertaken by the government, my office and the emergency and security services was based on the possibility of multiple explosions on the transport system during the Friday rush hour. The plan that came out of that exercise is being executed today, with remarkable efficiency and courage, and I praise those staff who are involved.

I’d like to thank Londoners for the calm way in which they have responded to this cowardly attack and echo the advice of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair - do everything possible to assist the police and take the advice of the police about getting home today.

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did hope in the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the Underground that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy. That was not the case. I have been able to stay in touch through the very excellent communications that were established for the eventuality that I might be out of the city at the time of a terrorist attack and they have worked with remarkable effectiveness. I will be in continual contact until I am back in London.

I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

That isn’t an ideology, it isn’t even a perverted faith - it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I’m proud to be the mayor of that city.

Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life.

I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others - that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail.

In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don’t want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.”

More <$NoAd$> soon.

A Few Thoughts on a Terrible Day

First a thought, or perhaps an affirmation. The only response to acts of indiscriminate murder such as those today in London is implacable resistance -- and such resistance means not only retaliation against those responsible and guarding against all possible similar acts, but implacable resistance to terrorists' desire and aim to disrupt the rhythm of our daily lives and our civilization itself.

Today we've had a reminder of what we face. But let's be clear what we're seeing. In more venues than I'd care to admit I've seen posts and speechifying which say, in so many words: 'For all those who've gone wobbly on Iraq, see, you got complacent! But terrorism is real!'

The real threat we face isn't in Iraq. And being in Iraq isn't diminishing it. The real threat is painfully low-tech but yet highly-lethal acts of terror committed -- in most cases -- in the great metropoles of the West. And I suspect we'll find, as we did in 9/11, that the immediate perpetrators were neither people who were minding their own business before we invaded Iraq nor even people who have their main base in the core countries of the Arab Middle East, but rather recruits from the disaffected and deracinated diaspora of Muslim immigrants in the West -- a tiny fraction out of the millions who are making their homes in our country and in those of Europe.

Certainly, it's no accident that the two acts of terror in Europe in the last three years happened in America's two main Iraq war allies, though I agree with Ed Kilgore's point that the proximate message here is to the G8. That notwithstanding, what I take from all this is the fundamental irrelevance of Iraq to what happened today.

The threat of terrorism is very real, especially in major cities. But with respect to the folks who want to lasso this into a pillar of support for a disastrous policy in Iraq, frankly, we already knew terrorism was real. Most people are sick to death of our bumbling in Iraq because it's distracted us from actually defending ourselves.

The immediate answer to this is to hunt down the people immediately responsible, root out the primarily-non-state terror networks that support, plan and make these attacks possible and start getting about serious homeland defense -- port security, rail security, nuclear power plant security.

On that last count, what we've accomplished in the US over the last few years has been painfully inadequate, largely because of our focus on nation-states that have only a tenuous connection to this threat -- a lot of lies, mumbojumbo, and scurrilous and dark motives by the usual suspects notwithstanding.

Finally, I think we should look very closely at what actually happened today. It took a lot of coordination and it took a lot of lives. But it was extremely low-tech. It didn't take mad scientists or proliferated technology. And in a way that makes it all the harder to prevent.

Beside the threat we face from the bacillus of Islamic terror, President Bush has created a great running wound on the whole country in the form of the mess he's created in Iraq -- a wound bleeding blood, treasure and a scourge of national division which is now impossible to ignore but which we can ill-afford. Even now his cheerleaders are trying to enlist this outrage in the battle to prop up their folly in Iraq. If anything our folly in Iraq has made the immediacy and intensity of this basic threat worse. But let's not be blinded by our outrage at that folly or distracted from thinking concretely, together and resolutely, how we defend our innocents from such religious fanaticism and the violence it spawns.

(ed.note: It's not normally policy. But since the problems with the site mentioned below have kept me from posting until now, I've cross-posted this entry to TPMCafe as well.)

This is just a brief update on why -- among other things -- there are no posts on TPM this morning, particularly on the coordinated terror attacks today in London.

As you might have expected, the news out of London generated a wave of traffic to this and other sites. And that surge was particularly large at our sister site, TPMCafe. The site's been hard to access since roughly 10 AM this morning. And I've been busy since then working with our tech folks to deal with that -- thus the lack of posts here.

We're adding more server capacity over at TPMCafe. And we'll keep you posted on developments there.

More soon.