Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

TPM Reader MM says the anti-Joe campaign is getting out of hand ...

C'mon Josh, quit accepting the standards of the disinfo crowd, when did Lieberman say he would be campaigning as both independent and democrat at the same time? He said that if he lost the democratic primary, he would run as an independent.. but that's not quite the same thing. Lieberman isn't my favorite guy in the world, but this propaganda campaign is getting a bit pathetic. Back in the day, Lieberman was activist and fighting to end Jim Crow, the propagandists from outside CT who are waging war against him can't even be bothered to care about the issues of poverty and class.. for Christ's sake, some of them who post on TPM are against the labor movement and rationales for class inequity. If you're looking for parallels between extremes, start looking at some of those in your own backyard.

I'm not really sure where MM is coming from. The only way you 'run' to get on the ballot as an Independent is to collect signatures, which he's doing. So I'm not sure there's anything unfair or incorrect about what I said below.

I find myself not knowing quite what to say or to think about this unexpectedly fast emerging dust-up in the Connecticut Senate race. TPM Reader SS wrote in the following yesterday in response to Lieberman's decision to run in the primary and run as an independent if he loses the primary.

Received a phone message today from Lieberman asking for signatures on his petition to run as an independent. He promises he will always vote Democratic. While I think we are better off with a two way race and hope he wins in the primary, he makes it harder and harder to support him.

Reed Hundt yesterday said that Lieberman has every right to run as an Independent. The question is whether he'd really serve as a Democrat. And I agree.

But like I think SS is suggesting, I think Lieberman may have done himself great damage by choosing to run both ways (as a Dem and an Independent) at the same time.

Politics is all about maintaining the initiative and, well ... momentum. And just evaluating this in strategic terms, I think that Lieberman's key issue in this race is proving, to put it bluntly, that he's not a weasel.

Two ways suggest themselves to demonstrate that. One way was for him to call a press conference and say 'People say I'm not a Democrat. But I've been a Democrat for 40 years. I've been representing this state for 18 years. And I'm going to put my fate in the hands of the Democrats of this state. And I'm gonna fight for this nomination and tell the voters of this state ..."

You get the idea. Lieberman would send a very powerful message to Democrats by putting his fate in their hands.

Or he could say, "I've represented this state in the Senate for 18 years. I'm a Democrat. But I don't represent the Democratic party in the senate. I represent the people of the state of Connecticut ..."

Both of those would have, I think, given Lieberman serious forward momentum. In different ways, yes. But both forward. Remember, there aren't just Democrats in Connecticut. There are Republicans and more importantly Independents. And my impression is that Lieberman is still pretty popular among Connecticut voters generally. The latter choice would play to their strengths with them. The former, of course, would play to Democrats.

Which he should do depends on who he is.

But here he's just covering his bases. He'll play whichever card works best for him when the time comes. Most importantly, he's not showing any Connecticut voters he's willing to take risks. And in so doing I think he may be taking a much bigger risk than he knows. He's telegraphing weakness and equivocation and the alleged trait that got him in this fix to start with.

We need your help.

It's nothing short of amazing how many candidates there are out there this election season who refuse to give a straight answer on whether they support preserving Social Security or phasing it out and replacing it with private accounts. President Bush says he'll try to phase it out next year if he holds on to Congress. The Republican Social Security chairman in the House says the same thing. So it's definitely an issue on the ballot this November. But dozens and dozens of candidates -- like Tom Kean, Jr. and Michael Steele and Mike DeWine -- simply refuse to answer the question.

As the Cincinnati Post put it charitably last year during the thick of the Social Security debate, DeWine's office "had a tough time explaining whether or not he stands with the president" on Social Security phase out. As near as we can tell, they're still having a tough time.

So, with that in mind, we're putting together a list of candidates around the country who just plain won't come clean on this vital question. We've started compiling names here on this list. But we need your help. Who's running for Congress in your district? And who's running for the senate in your state?

If they won't give a straight answer or won't answer the question at all, tell us. Send us an email at the comment email up over on the right.

Once we have our list in order we're going to start trying to get answers from the folks on the list. Last week, we announced a contest to see who could get a straight answer from Washington senate candidate Mike McGavick. But our effort was sort of short-circuited when David Postman of the Seattle Times got an interview with McGavick and got him to admit that, yes, he does support phasing out Social Security and replacing it with private accounts. Actually, short-circuiting probably isn't the best way to put it since Postman said he asked McGavick about his position on Social Security in response to our contest.

So McGavick has sort of come clean -- though we're still looking at the weasel words in his answer. But what about Tom Kean, Jr. in New Jersey. State voting record says he's a phase-out man on Social Security. But guy's criss-crossing the state and refusing to say what his position is on Social Security.

In any case, we want to get everyone's position on the table before the November election. So take a look at the list and tell us who's not on it. And for folks who can get straight answers out of these bamboozlers there will of course be prime TPM T-shirts and special place in our new TPM Hall of Social Security Heroes -- whether you have to do research on the web to dig up the answer, ask a question at a town hall meeting, call in on the radio, or whatever. Yes, the fun and TPM merchandize will be endless.

So get ready. And drop us a line with the name of the Social Security bamboozlers in your neck of the woods.

News Flash: Longtime Hillary pollster and consultant Mark Penn says Hillary can be elected president.

Oh the pace quickens.

Only weeks ago, scandal-plagued House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) issued a categorical denial that he'd ever "recommended a lobbyist to any constituent, contractor or anyone seeking federal funds."

Now documentary evidence surfaces that Lewis lied.

And when I say 'documentary evidence' I would be referring to a letter from Lewis to a constituent recommending the lobbying services of Tom Skancke of The Skancke Company.

In Lewis's letter to the County of San Bernardino (the county I grew up in, by the way and which Lewis represents), he wrote "It is a pleasure to be writing this letter on Tom's behalf and strongly recommend San Bernardino County's retaining The Skancke Company's services."

I'm not sure which is more upsetting: Lewis's lies and corruption or that someone has to go through life with the name Skancke.

One way or another, it ain't pretty.

Late Update: My apologies! He didn't just lie once. He lied twice. I was thinking of when Lewis told NBC in early June that "I have never recommended a lobbyist to any constituent, contractor or anyone seeking federal funds." But I didn't know that Lewis also lied in early May when he said "I have never told a local representative or someone seeking to work on a federal project that they must have a lobbyist representing them. It is an ironclad rule in my office that we do not recommend lobbyists, even if a constituent asks for that recommendation." Again, my apologies.

It came late in the day today, so we didn't get a chance to get into it at TPMmuckraker. But a Justice Department IG Report came out late this afternoon. And this one looked into the long-simmering question of whether Jack Abramoff used his juice with the Bush White House to get the acting US Attorney in Guam, Frederick A. Black, fired just as the guy was opening a criminal probe into Abramoff's activities on the island.

The report concludes, we think not altogether convincingly, that while Abramoff volubly took credit for getting Black canned, in fact he had nothing to do with it. It's stunning how many things Abramoff took credit for, and everybody else thought he was responsible for, which turn out to have had nothing to do with him at all. But let's leave that for another day.

But there's something else that caught our eye. We'll let MSNBC's Joel Seidman explain ...

The report also contained evidence of Abramoff's strong ties to the Bush White House. One White House political official, Leonard Rodriguez, told Fine's investigators he kept Abramoff aware of information relevant to Guam "at the behest of Ken Mehlman, the White House Political Director," the report said. There was no explanation of why Mehlman would have wanted the information shared with Abramoff.

So Ken Mehlman, now head of the RNC, had a White House official keeping Jack Abramoff up to date on events in Guam, around the time Abramoff took credit for getting an investigation into his work on the island deep-sixed. We already know that at Abramoff's behest Mehlman killed an appointment at the State Department because the would-be appointee, Allen Stayman, wasn't good news for Abramoff's sweat-shop owner clients in the Marianas islands.

At a certain point you start to detect a pattern, no? Mehlman was a fixer for Abramoff while Mehlman was political director at the Bush White House. And now he says he barely knew Jack Abramoff.

Maybe this deserves some follow-up?

Mike McGavick kinda sorta comes clean on supporting President Bush's plan to phase out Social Security and replace it with private accounts!

David Postman of the Seattle Times interviewed McGavick this morning and, according to Postman, McGavick "wants a phased-in system of individually controlled, privately managed retirement accounts that could provide a higher yield than the government-run system, but would come with a lower guaranteed payment."

Wipe away the poll-tested double talk and that sounds like, yes, McGavick does support the president's plan. (He insists on the 'it's not privatization' word game bamboozlement, for example.)

So does he?

Says McGavick: "I do not think the president's program was that well designed or that well promoted. But I think something like this with some hard bipartisan work could create a lasting solution for a problem that has cyclically dogged us for decades."

We'll come back to this issue because President Bush actually never committed to a specific plan. So I'm curious whether this is really a dodge or whether there's some specific issue on which McGavick disagrees with the president's plans.

For now, McGavick seems like he just wants the issue to go away. He told Postman that on Social Security he wants "to get this out of the political world and into a thoughtful space."

For the moment, let's put McGavick down as being for President Bush's plan to phase out Social Security and replace it with private accounts, along with some as yet unspecified revisions to the Bush plan, and also for getting "into a thoughtful space."