Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Just came across this excellent and artful summing up of the White House gifts story by Geneva Overholser. Take a peek. You'll be glad you did.

Not long ago a very prominent conservative activist gave a talk to a private audience in which he explained one of the chief reasons conservatives wanted one of their own at the Justice department. The reason? To go after liberal and left-leaning political organizations with Justice's muscle. (Sorry to be so cloak-n-dagger about the details - it's a matter of shielding sources.)

Who's in their cross-hairs? The usual suspects. Unions, the NAACP, NOW, etc. They see this as payback for the (largely fanciful) 'persecution' they believe they've been subjected to by the Reno Justice Department and the Clinton IRS. What was striking about this statement was less the intention expressed than the openness with which it was expressed.

(Ironically, liberals may end up being the victim of conservatives' paranoia about the Reno Justice department. Got that? No? I'll explain later.)

Anyway, here's the first shot across the bow in the reliably lapdogian Washington Times. (The Times is where DC right-wingers go to try out new arguments before they take 'em to the bigs). The Times is reporting that "conservative critics" are saying the NAACP's tax exempt status should be revoked because the organization is too tight with the Democratic party.

We'll be hearing a lot more of this.

Hey, what happened to Talking Points?!?! What happened to the multiple daily updates? Did he go Hollywood after his big TV appearance on CNN?

Nope. Just on vacation. TPM returns Tuesday February 6th with posts galore. For the moment, be sure to see this article in the Washington Post on the upcoming tax policy debate. The first good one I've seen thus far - and hopefully a sign of things to come. Straight talk on tax policy means talking about the payroll tax - which is the main tax for the great majority of Americans. For the outlines of a possible progressive tax politics see this article from a couple years back.

Meanwhile a few boobs have convinced themselves that Bush's tax cut proposal is actually 'progressive' because its nominal cuts for low-income wage-earners are actually higher than the cuts for high-income earners. More soon on why they're such boobs.

Trust me, after my performance today on Reliable Sources my own show right after Spin Room is a done deal. Mark my word, it's in the bag.

Actually, I can barely remember anything that happened after Howie Kurtz introduced me. And it seemed like the whole thing lasted about nine seconds, even though I'm told the segment ran for six or seven minutes.

Kurtz led off with gusto. He laid out the White House vandalism story; described my rebuttal article in Slate; and then said something like: "Joshua Marshall, aren't you just shamelessly shilling for Bill Clinton?" (or something like that)  Hmmmm … As nearly as I could tell this got a chuckle from Bernie Kalb and Chris Caldwell (I think in sympathy, but who knows).

My first thought was to say, "But, of course ..." But then I thought, okay, okay … maybe that's not the best approach to take. Then I launched into it. And I have no idea what I said after that.

Just between us, Kurtz seemed a touch prickly. My theory is that maybe he ran into Andrea Mitchell at a Washington cocktail party and she told him to give me a good working-over as payback for the Slate piece. But who knows. (Actually, Kurtz was quite gracious off-the-air.)

But Bernie Kalb. I really like this guy. As a viewer of Reliable Sources I always figured Bernie for a bit of a curmudgeon. But he was great. Gracious, avuncular and he was wearing a turtleneck (which was very cool in my book). The whole thing went by so quickly that I can't quite remember why else I thought he was great. But he was great.

P.S. The show airs on Saturday at 6:30 PM EST and Sunday at 11:30 AM EST.

P.P.S. If you're interested in all the twisted details, here's the actual transcript -- it's the second-to-last segment.

Is the liberal Washington media ever going to level with the American people? For all the years of the Reagan-Bush recovery (1992-2000) the media just had to give credit to Bill Clinton whose policies didn't have anything to do with it anyway. Then when the 1993 tax hike finally caught up with the economy last year those media dogs couldn't help but try to cover for their man Bill. Hopefully now with all the bad economic data coming out day by day they'll finally admit that their man Bill screwed everything up after all. But you know what the kicker is? Look at those dour unemployment numbers that came out today. All those people lost their jobs. But look a little more closely. The rate of job creation also jumped well above what economists had expected. You know what that means, don't you? You got it, bud! The first inklings of the Bush recovery!

Who's gonna report this!?!?!

Rush, Lucianne, Drudge? Who?

Hey, you thought you'd heard enough about smear-gate (Talking Points' admittedly grating name for the fake White House vandalism story). But no. This weekend I'm going to be on CNN's Reliable Sources to flog the vandalism story a couple more times. You know, that's the show with Howie Kurtz, the media reporter guy (pictured below)?

And starting the week after that I get my own half-hour show right after Spin Room! Okay, the second part is bogus. But I really am going to be on Reliable Sources (Sat. 6:30 PM EST; Sun. 11:30 AM EST).

"If you were a right-wing conspiracist," Andrew Sullivan asked Hardball's Chris Matthews on January 23rd, "could you have devised a more typical ending for the Clinton administration - pardons to a lot of criminals and then vandalism by 20-somethings in the White House? It's like Gary Aldrich's fantasy."

Well, yeah. It did sound a bit like an Aldrich fantasy, now didn't it? Sullivan is still harping on the Marc Rich pardon story and embroidering it into a thick quilt of anti-Clintonism. And, frankly, who can blame him? The Rich pardon looks pretty ugly.

But what happened to that other last-days-of-Clinton scandal - that whole business with the pranks and vandalism at the White House? (What we at Talking Points have taken to calling smear-gate). Should we still be waiting for more 'proof' of the vandalism to emerge? Or is Sullivan going to admit he may have gotten duped by the Bush spin machine?

Or would it be quicker to wait for OJ to find the 'real killers.'

The Washington Times reports this morning that congressman Bob Barr (he of Council of Conservative Citizens speech-making fame) has asked the Government Accounting Office to investigate Clintonite vandalism at the White House. This is a procedural matter and a request from a congressman obligates the GAO to commence a preliminary investigation, which they have now done.

Could I be embarrassed if it turns out that the rumors were all true? Sure. But I'm happy to let the chips fall where they may.

Let's say a few more words about John Ashcroft's nomination before he's confirmed tomorrow.

First, I like Chris Dodd, the senior senator from Connecticut. But what the hell is he thinking? Thus far the people who have come out in support of Ashcroft have mostly had decent reasons. I don't agree with them. But there's at least been a logic.

Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan come from an overwhelmingly Republican state. I wish they'd decided differnetly. But I can see where they're coming from.

Zell Miller clearly wants to cover his right flank by sucking up to George W. Despicable, but understandable.

Russ Feingold? Well, Russ is sort of the beloved, honorable freak of the Democratic caucus. People give him credit for campaign finance reform and other than that have no idea what to make of him.

But what the hell is Chris Dodd's excuse? Beside his car, his houses, his stock portfolio, and the rest of his possessions he owns one more piece of personal property: a senate seat from Connecticut! Dodd owns that seat. He inherited it from his dad!

I have to imagine that Dodd decided to vote for Ashcroft out of some sense of senatorial traditionalism and courtesy. But this ain't bingo we're playing here! A lot of senators are suffering the trials of the martyrs over this (Landrieu, Cleland, etc.). Senate Democrats are going to need to stick together in some really tough situations over the next two years. And the leadership is going to have to ask some Dems from Republican-leaning states to swallow hard and cast some very difficult votes. Why should they put themselves on the line when Dodd won't even do the right thing when it's a gimme? Dodd really has a lot of explaining to do.

Hopefully the Democrats will surpass forty votes tomorrow. But let's pause for a moment to say what was important about stopping this nomination. This was not only about whether John Ashcroft gets to be Attorney General. It was important for the Democrats to defeat this nomination in order to make clear that George W. Bush is not the same as other presidents. Simple as that.

Right-wingers will probably react to that statement as though I've made some sort of fatal admission. But there's nothing to hide. Democrats had to, and still have to, make this clear. I'll say it again - that George W. Bush is not the same as other presidents.

This is not payback or vengeance or pettiness. It is simply reaffirming reality. And it's an important reality to reaffirm.

I hesitate to take up valuable Talking Points real estate with housekeeping info. But here goes: Many readers have asked/complained ("Dear Talk", "Dear Points", "Dear Lord of the Point", etc.) about not being able to give people the link to a particular post on the site - since, of course, they just keep scrolling down day after day.

People! You can already! It sounds a touch complicated. But it's pretty easy.

Every entry is date-stamped and has it's own unique address. So for instance this entry is January 31st 2001 at 2:24 PM - as it says in the datestamp above. So that means you take the normal address (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/index.html) and a '#' and then the date and the time all run together '013101224pm' like so.

So http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com> is the link to this entry.

(Note: Since this page is now archived it is no longer index.html# but jan0104.html# etc.)

Pretty cool, eh?

Next we return to the standard vital political intelligence from Talking Points. And coming soon TPM gets its own custom URL (Internet address)!