Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Is this really front page news?

President Bush, discussing the Middle East crisis, uses a fairly low-tier expletive in conversation with Tony Blair when he thinks he's not on the microphone. And that's front page headline on CNN?

I might post on it. Atrios might. It's kind of funny. And it puts some of the lie to the now presumably rather degraded notion that the president is above such things. No one likes to poke the president's eye more than me. But this is the headline, with everything that's going on today?

That strikes me as fairly odd news judgment.

I just wanted to make sure everyone saw TPMmuckraker's post from yesterday on Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA). If you don't think the criminal probe into the House Appropriations Chair is a big deal, why are like 90+% of his campaign expenditures going to his legal defense?

In the last week I've heard a number of people ask why bloggers, or I guess spefically progressive bloggers, have devoted so little column space to the events in Israel-Palestine and Lebanon. And I've joked, as I've ventured onto this terrain, about how nothing is more likely to heighten the temperature of your in box like stating any opinions on this vexed subject.

But none of these lighthearted words can do justice to the sorts of email you get.

It's funny, if that's the word for it, because I'm much more accustomed to getting critical emails from hypernationalist and/or hypersensitive Jews taking me to task over this or that viewpoint I've expressed about the Middle East. (Of course, nothing compares to sublime ridiculousness of having a gentile right-winger warn me that my views on the Middle East verge on anti-semitism. For some, it seems, Bush-loyalty is the new sign of the covenant.) Just a week ago I was foolish enough to exchange a series of emails with a reader who was offended that I hadn't booted my guest blogger TPM Reader DK for having the temerity to print an email hostile to Israel as an example of the range of opinions he'd received on the subject.

For some of my Jewish friends and, it seems, more and more non-Jews of a certain political persuasion, there is just an inability to recognize that the dispossession of Arabs was an essential element to the fulfillment of the Jewish people's national aspirations in Palestine. (That was a blindness that a ben Gurion or a Dayan never made. Read their writings, their speeches, especially their letters. They understood this.) There is too often an inability or I suppose simply a willfull refusal to recognize the roots of Palestinian militant violence and terrorism (and I don't equate the two) in the fact that the population of the West Bank and Gaza have been living under military occupation for some forty years.

As some of you know, before I became a journalist I was studying to be an historian. And the topic of my doctoral dissertation was the nexus of economic relations and organized violence between Indians and English settlers in mid-17th century New England. And over several years as I researched and wrote and pulled together my ideas on the subject there were troubling and disconcerting moments because I could see the echoes and patterns of what happened there in the 17th Century in what happened between Jews and Palestinians in the 20th. There continues to be this dangerous obtuseness among the political classes in this country that 'terrorism' is just terrorism whether it's bin Laden's buddies trying to figure out how to blow up the world or Palestinian militants trying to drive settlers off the West Bank.

But on a day like today I see a different picture, though magified perhaps by the febrile intensity of email. It comes when I'm again exposed to the other side of the coin. American politics leans heavily in Israel's direction; and so does the American media. But there is out there a broad constituency of ignorant and malevolent hatred of Israel and, really, Israelis, that, I think, masks its malevolence even to itself through being awash its own self-righteousness. I think I understand the Palestinians' rage. In any case, I respect it. For this trash from Americans who only seem able to see Jewish evil in the midst of this protracted conflict I can't have anything but contempt. And it puts me on my guard.

Walter Pincus on journalistic courage: "Journalistic courage should include the refusal to publish in a newspaper or carry on a TV or radio news show any statements made by the President or any other government official that are designed solely as a public relations tool, offering no new or valuable information to the public."

Boy is this a stupid article. From the AP: Lieberman's in trouble with Lamont and Hillary's having no trouble with Tasini. Why? All because of money apparently. Lamont's a millionaire. Hillary's got a big war chest. Wicked stupid.

Why is CNN's John King still repeating the Republican bamboozle (for a detailed forensic debamboozlement see this post) that Joe Wilson 'said Dick Cheney sent him to Niger'.

I guess the work of debamboozlement is not over.

I think David Ignatius strikes the right balance, understands the interplay of factors in what's now playing out in Lebanon. We don't know whether Iran 'green-lighted' the Hezbollah incursion into northern Israel a few days ago, as some are suggesting, with little or no direct evidence. But it is quite foolish to see what happened as an isolated incident, or merely a tit for tat with over what's happening in Gaza. There is an Iran-Syria axis. They are patrons of Hamas and Hizbollah. And everything here is connected. Our muscling with the Iranians over their nuclear program and the bedeviled situation in Iraq. These are all pieces on the same chessboard. Events transpire on many levels. And have many causes. But I think it is correct to see a good part of this as the soundings of groups allied with Syrian and Iran, and to a degree acting in concert with him, to strike a new balance of power in the region (in the context of Israeli withdrawals from occupied territory, growing Iranian power and American distraction and enervation in Iraq.)

With that said, I think Israel is entirely within her right to react strongly to these provocations.

But what you have every right to do isn't always wise to do, as Ignatius explains. A strong response is probably a prerequisite from the Israelis. But it's not sufficient and it can easily backfire. For the Israelis and for the US. They risk slipping into the same quicksand they did almost twenty-five years ago. Outside powers -- and that means the US and Europe -- have to be involved here.

(ed.note: Nothing like a post on the Middle East to raise the temperature of the email in box. If you disagree, I'd love to hear from you. I've been set straight by dissenting emails many times before. But attacking emails will just be ignored.)

Finally. Mark Schmitt says what needs to be said about the Lieberman-Lamont race. Sorry to the gunners on both sides. But there aren't enough bloggers or blog readers in Connecticut to pull an unknown challenger to even in a primary challenge against a three-term incumbent senator. This is about Connecticut.

That is a bit weird.

TPM Reader DK points me to this article by Jonathan Landay on the White House's agreement to submit its warrantless wiretap program to thes scrutiny of the FISA court. Here are the second and third grafs (italics added) ...

By having the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court conduct the review instead of a regular federal court, the Bush administration would ensure the secrecy of details of the highly classified program. The administration has argued that making details of the program public would compromise national security.

However, such details could include politically explosive disclosures that the government has kept tabs on people it shouldn't have been monitoring.

Pretty high up in the piece that's quite a throaway line if that's all it is. After all, the details could have included evidence of life on Mars too. Hell, anything's possible.

It sounds like Landay's pointing to the possibility that the White House has been using the program to monitor political opponents. (I'm not sure how else to interpret that line.) And you get the sense he's doing more than speculating.