Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Carl Pope, the executive director of The Sierra Club, has started his own blog. Click here to take a look.

He just wants to be understood.

Tom DeLay: "It is unfortunate in our electoral system, exacerbated by our adversarial media culture, that political discourse has to get so overheated that it's not just arguments, but motives are questioned."

The second-coming of Manuel Miranda? The operator still being investigated for stealing Democratic staff memos seems to have resurfaced to help his old boss press ahead with the 'nuclear option.'

Victims ...

Josh, You have to tell the whole story of anything or you are not credible. I never take anything democrats say because in the last 10 years the Minority is trying to force everything down our throats. You speak in such disrespect about Delay, the bug man, that I have suggested to many senators by email, that Delay should quit and start running or the presidency. He is just what we need. With his style we could ram down your throats. DELAY FOR PRESIDENT

DeLay in '08.

The LA Times and the Post today both have run-downs of President Bush's invitation-only Bamboozlepalooza event in Ohio yesterday. And at the end of the article in the Times there's this odd passage ...

In a pitch directed to Democratic lawmakers, who are nearly unanimous in opposing Bush's plan to create Social Security personal accounts, the president called for "political amnesty" for those who joined his drive to retool the retirement program.

"All ideas are on the table," he asserted at several points in his remarks.

His declaration appeared to reinforce a suggestion made Thursday by his top economic advisor, Allan B. Hubbard, that the voluntary retirement accounts might be acceptable to Bush even if they were offered as an "add-on" to Social Security, instead of being financed by current payroll taxes, as the president was advocating.

Political amnesty? Is he trying <$NoAd$> to help Rep. Allen Boyd cop a plea? Or get off with time served? There are so few other Fainthearted members of Congress left that I was really a little unsure who the president was talking about. Perhaps it's private accounts men, who now want to get on the add-on bandwagon, who need a pardon? Perhaps we need a Social Security Phase-Out Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

Let me encourage you to take a look at Professor Warren's sum-up post on our Bankruptcy Bill blog. The bill passed, of course. The lesson here is that money talks. Or, as Bob Dylan more aptly put it, it swears. But it didn't happen silently or without anyone knowing what was afoot. And the critics managed to get their message heard too. Professor Warren further notes that the late focus on the inequities of this legislation may even prompt some amendments or revisions to be passed during the 180 before the law goes into effect.

She also mentions something we hope to be discussing more in the ensuing weeks. We've been very happy about how the Bankruptcy Blog experiment has worked out. So we're going to keep it going.

We haven't worked out all the details yet. But Professor Warren and her team are going to keep up their blogging, expanding the focus from the specifics of the bankruptcy legislation to the broader panoply of economic changes and legislative enactments which are making middle class life in America less secure. Their blog -- which will probably have some snappy new name -- will have a permanent home at our new companion site tpmcafe.com.

A toe in the water?

Rep. Tancredo (R) of Colorado says a DeLay exit is "probably not the worst idea."

Doesn't roll off the tongue exactly. But it's a bit less than DeLay-True.

The full quote is: "I don't think we should try to oust him. Right now, I would not encourage him to leave. If he chose to resign as majority leader until these matters are resolved, that's probably not the worst idea."

As you may have heard, Rush Limbaugh has<$Ad$>been branching out from talk radio into jurisprudence and constitutional law. He recently penned the foreword to Mark Levin's Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America, a polemic about how Republican court appointees are destroying American through their out-of-control liberal judicial activism. About the book the irreplaceable Dahlia Lithwick noted that "the reason it may take you only slightly longer to read Men in Black than it took Levin to write it is that you'll experience an overwhelming urge to shower between chapters," which doesn't sound like a very nice thing to say.

But however that may be, earlier this week Limbaugh was back to the law books commenting on the recent conference at Yale on progressive jurisprudence put on by the American Constitution Society where ...

some people got together to rewrite the Constitution. A bunch of liberal elitists gathered up at Yale to have this little pretend new Constitution. What it should say, what it should be, what the principles and guidelines of the new Constitution ought to be. So while there are those of us who are devoted to defending the current US Constitution, there are a bunch of leftists and liberals out there that are toying around with the idea of rewriting and changing it. (interruption) Well, I don't know if they've banned me, I haven't read everything that everybody there posited or wrote. Let me get the piece at the next break and I'll share with you some things that people are saying.

We'll pass over the current Republican party's rather demonstrable anti-constitutionalism or the fact that conservatives put together a very similar enterprise only a few decades ago. But we did notice that Rush went in for the usual victim vamping, imagining that his style of constitutional interpretation or rather he himself might be banned by these folks. And now, as it turns out, the sponsors of the conference, specifically the ACS's Yale chapter, has sent Limbaugh a pocket-sized copy of what he calls the "little pretend" constitution (i.e., the United States Constitution), a letter reassuring him that he is very much not banned and an invitation to hold an event featuring Limbaugh on campus. Indeed, on top of that, through our indefatigable sleuthing we have managed to acquire a copy of the letter (which you can view here), which we understand was sent to the legendary gabster just this morning.

Sick, dark and demented. Hyperbole? I don't think so. According to a piece by David Kirkpatrick in tomorrow's Times, Bill Frist is going to participate in a big anti-filibuster telecast, sponsored by the Family Research Council, in which Democratic opposition to President Bush's most conervative judicial appointments will be cast as a Democratic war against believing Christians.

A flier advertising the event refers to "the filibuster against people of faith" and says: "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith."

So Frist wants to cast this, literally, as a war between the believers and the unbelievers. I guess this is part of toning down the rhetoric.

(How much do we have to endure so that this guy can run for president?)

Also on hand for the event will be arch-wingnut and SpongeBob persecutor James Dobson, a man with hands about as clean as Torquemada's, Chuck Colson and various others.

I don't know which is more amusing -- the wingnut jihad against a federal judiciary that is already predominantly Republican or the fact that the intellectual and often literal descendents of the upholders of Jim Crow now seek to enlist the dark legacy of segregation as some sort of arrow in their rhetorical quiver.

Actually, perhaps it's even more amusing that the same folks spent the 1990s using the same methods to thwart numerous Clinton judicial appointments.

At the confab I assume we're likely to hear more like this from the likes of the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, whose Traditional Values Coalition warns us that "Atheist billionaire George Soros is funding a number of the organizations that are attacking DeLay. Soros is a one-world socialist who hates Christians and seeks a one-world government and legalized drugs. DeLay is a solid Christian and conservative legislator who is an important player in the culture war. He understands the issues and the battles we’re fighting against homosexuality, abortion, pornography, judicial tyranny, and other issues of concern to traditional values activists."

Alas, more of the fantasies of victimization that are now the defining motif of such much conservative politics. As Jonathan Edwards might have put it, helpless wingnuts in the hands of angry liberal judges.

This is a just a brief update on the new site we're gearing up to launch: tpmcafe.com. We've been doing various sorts of planning for this new project -- some figuring out money stuff, but mostly just thinking through how to design the site to make the content and discussion areas compelling to readers. And in the course of thinking through both of those parts of the equation I finally decided that I would actually take the plunge and hire a real live bona-fide paid employee.

Now, that may not seem like such a big thing. But you have to understand that this site had been around for about three years before I decided to hire myself as a paid employee. And that wasn't anything I'd ever planned on doing. Actually, and you'll have to pardon my getting a little nostalgic, but some of you might get a kick (or, admittedly, perhaps a laugh) about what this site looked like when it first went live in November 2000. All the old material has been reformatted into the new design. That's what you'll find if you look back into the archives. But the actual design at the time looked like this --- a thin white strip of text against a background of blue, the archeo-tpm, you might say. Over the years, I slowly gave way to adamant and sometimes pointed reader pressure for widening the text area until it ended up as it is now.

In any case, for the first couple years I did the site, I did everything by myself. Then for each of the last two years it's been me and one part-time unpaid intern, first Zander Dryer and now Avi Zenilman. But the new site is going to include a bunch of new administrative responsibilities. So that's what's behind the decision. A good deal of that will be dealing with the discussion areas where readers will be able to hash out the big questions and challenges the country is facing today. In addition, as I mentioned earlier, we're going to try to do a lot more of the tracking of particular stories and legislative issues. More specifically, we're going to open up that part of what this site does to readers themselves.

I don't have to tell you that starting at the end of last year I turned almost all my energy at TPM over to following the Social Security story and tracking just where everyone on Capitol Hill was on the issue. By and large, TPM Readers strongly supported that decision. But in addition to the few who just found it too monotonous, which I can understand, there were others who wrote in asking why there wasn't more attention to all the other important issues.

Now, to me, Social Security was the defining issue of the beginning of the second Bush administration. I think it still is. But the reason I focused entirely on that one issue wasn't simply because I thought it was so important. On a more mundane level, it's just not possible for one person to immerse him or herself so deeply in more than one issue at a time. So one of the things we're trying to accomplish with the new site is to give groups of people venues to dig into these issues on their own as well as to host individual, topic-focused blogs that will zero in on particular issues. (Some parts of the site are going to come online slower than others and I've no doubt that a lot of experimentation and tinkering, much based on your insights and feedback, will be involved.) And helping organize that is going to require at least one more set of hands.

A few times in the past we've had little mini-fundraising drives for reporting trips to New Hampshire and the conventions and more recently for our contest T-Shirts. Next week, we're going to do another big round of fund-raising to put together some start-up funds for the new operation. So we'll be bringing you more information about that shortly.

Finally, we've gotten a lot of emails with questions about the new site and, even more helpfully, suggestions. So please keep them coming. They're very helpful and much appreciated.

More news soon.