Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of

Articles by Josh

Down for the Count?

If you're a long time reader of this site, you know there's no one we like more than Rep. Chris "the Count" Chocola (R-IN) from Indiana's 2nd congressional district, one of the premier Social Security bamboozlers nationwide.

Now, last week a poll came out showing Chocola trailing his rematch challenger, Democrat Joe Donnelly, by a margin of 48% to 38%. But it was a poll commissioned by the Donnelly campaign by Cooper & Secrest, a Democratic polling firm. There's no one who'd like to see Chocola reap the rich reward of his years of bamboozlement more than I would. But Chocola's managed to hold on by relatively decent margins in the last couple cycles (54% to Donnelly's 44% in 2004). So I figured I'd believe it when I saw it. That is, when an independent pollster produced numbers anything like that.

Well, here we are.

Over the weekend pollster Delair Ali of Research 2000 took another sounding on behalf of the South Bend Tribune and he came up with Donnelly 46% to Chocola's 41%.

The sample size was relatively small -- 400 likely voters. So the margin of error is 5%.

But I think we can take this as a rough confirmation of Cooper & Secrest's earlier results. Not as extreme maybe. Five percentage points rather than ten. But if the challenger's got a 5% edge in mid-July, Chocola's in serious, serious trouble.

(ed.note: Special thanks to TPM Reader AM for the heads-up.)

Chris Nelson's top line summary from this evening's edition of The Nelson Report ...

The war in Lebanon is already a public relations disaster for Israel, and a very real human disaster, with no end in sight, for thousands of Lebanese. Clearly Israel, under military attack, is not officially concerned with the PR, but you could already see in the very competitive Israeli press, late last week, warnings that the IDF was not being careful, that military plans had already gotten out of hand, and that a diplomatic debacle might be in the making.

Over the weekend, it became clear that Lebanon is also at risk of becoming another serious policy failure for the US.

The announcement by Secretary of State Condi Rice that she was going to the region, but would not seek direct meetings with Syria, the country the US claims to be at the heart of any “solution” to the Lebanon crisis, has sparked much international criticism, and rekindled debate in the US over the basic lack of Bush Administration policy.

Or, put another way, the Lebanon situation has exposed, once again, that US policy, under Bush, is largely whatever the Israeli government says it wants. So the long term effect of this on US-Arab relations generally, and the US ability to be constructively involved in any serious peace process, is once again under debate.

In any particular flare-up in this unhappy region, debating who shot first is a distraction, since the conflict has been going on for generations. The question is, or should be, does the US have a policy with a realistic chance of success, and is the US involved in a process to further that this case, to resolve the flare-up of the moment? Whether a long term “solution” is possible is always another question....see Bill Clinton/Camp David, etc.

However, as long-time Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross likes to say (our paraphrase) “having a process may not get you a solution, but having a process does give you a chance to contain the damage.”

A week ago, much of the international community seemed willing to agree with the US, that Israel had the right to go after Hezbollah, or, at least, the right to go after Hezbollah sufficiently to push back the missile attack capability and threat. But by mid-week, the Europeans were calling for “cease fire” regardless.

Today, even the Bush Administration is making noises about a cease fire...and citing the centrality of dealing with Syria...but not yet. How much damage is being done, and will be done, to the US ability to be constructively involved in the Middle East is emerging, now, as the big question.

A critic within State privately worries, “Condi could get points for the US just by trying to talk directly with Syria. But apparently her view is if she can’t get a quick deal that makes her look good, she won’t even try.”

Is there something to this? From the ABC affiliate in Denver ...

You could be on a secret government database or watch list for simply taking a picture on an airplane. Some federal air marshals say they're reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it.

The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.

"Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," said one federal air marshal.

It would certainly be nice to see some other news outlets check into this.

Beside Rep. Cardin and former Rep. Mfume, who are the two real competitors in the race, there are 16 other names on the ballot in the Maryland Democratic senate primary. One of them is a guy named David Dickerson ...

WJZ.COM has learned police arrested David Dickerson, the Baltimore native running as a Democrat for the US Senate. He is charged with rape and assault.

Dickerson allegedly ordered a mail order bride from Latvia and repeatedly assaulted her.

Baltimore County police are investigating.

Doesn't look like he's going to be breaking out from the fringe candidate bunch.

Update: More details on the case over at TPMmuckraker from the Baltimore Police. Dickerson says his wife is "crazy in the head."