Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Let's review the stories of the last two days. Trump's DC hotel is soliciting foreign diplomatic delegations to switch their business to the incoming President's new hotel. On Tuesday Trump took a break from transition work to meet with his Indian business partners about expanding the Trump Organization's business in India now that he's president. Trump included his adult children in the meeting - the ones who will run his 'blind trust'. The news didn't reach the American press until it was reporting in an Indian paper. Now we learn that Trump's Philippines business partner Jose E. B. Antonio has been named the Philippines new trade envoy to the United States.

If you know this site you know that social insurance is a big thing for me. Our public debate is so stunted on this front that you may not even know what I'm talking about. You may know them as 'entitlements', a term which is technically accurate but is usually used by those wanting to prune government spending. In any case, I'm talking particularly about Social Security and Medicare. I've been writing a lot about the latter in recent days for a very specific reason: Medicare is a hugely important and hugely successful social insurance program for tens of millions of Americans and Republicans aim to repeal it in about six to eight months using a mix of bamboozlement, word play and lies. When I say tens of millions I am speaking of current beneficiaries. But assuming the program is not abolished the overwhelming majority of us will be beneficiaries in the future. Less appreciated is the way Medicare protects money that goes to buying homes and raising children from being spent on the health care of indigent, bankrupted parents. These intergenerstional benefits are under-appreciated but profound. If Medicare is abolished in 2017 it will be a calamity.

But the politics of Medicare are also highly relevant to this political moment.

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We are going to learn so many things in the next four years, or however long the Trump presidency lasts. The question is how painful the education will be. One thing we are now in the process of learning, at a new level, is the 18th century nature of the American presidency.

It is not unique but it is a profound outlier in modern democratic states.

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US Constitution: Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8.

"No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state."

The US President is prohibited from accepting gifts or money from foreign governments. But Trump's new hotel, just a few blocks from the White House, just held an event last week pitching foreign diplomatic delegations on moving their business to Trump's hotel.

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I'm a huge supporter of infrastructure spending - both for the multiple economic benefits of large-scale infrastructure projects and the more mundane reason that the things you build are good to have: roads, modern rail systems, airports, bridges that don't collapse, modern energy infrastructure. The list is almost endless. This makes a lot of people excited about Donald Trump's push for infrastructure spending. But put on the brakes and don't get excited. As I mentioned a few days ago, Trump isn't proposing major spending on infrastructure projects. He's proposing 'public private partnerships', which as we explained here are in most cases efficient ways to sell off public goods to private corporations.

But it's actually even worse than that.

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Though Hillary Clinton lost North Carolina, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who shepherded into law a crackdown on minority voting, the insipid 'bathroom law' and much more, could not manage a win like Donald Trump. Not by much - only about 5,000 votes. But he lost. Now he is trying to hold on to power the way he wielded power - by claiming the election is being stolen by election fraud.

Jeff Sessions running the Justice Department represents a huge step backward for voting rights in the United States. It's a big step backwards on numerous issues. But this is the issue I'm focusing on in this post. In one way it will bring us back to the dark days of the Bush DOJ when political operatives tried to use the country's US Attorneys to drive a voter suppression agenda around the country. That, you'll remember, was the backstory to the US Attorney firing scandal. The fired US Attorneys were ones who wouldn't play ball or resisted playing ball when it came to bringing trumped up 'voter fraud' prosecutions as part of that campaign of voter suppression. I think we can be confident that that will now return with a vengeance.

But there's a broader point I'd like to make on Sessions.

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From TPM Reader AK ...

Been reading you for over a decade and don't think I've ever written in. I live in a progressive Southern city and other than a comment by a high school teacher have never encountered anti-semitism.

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Interesting moment on CNN about an hour ago.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) was on CNN talking about the Trump transition. In the course of that conversation there was this exchange with Wolf Blitzer about General Flynn.

BLITZER: Let's talk about another issue that's come up, his connections with Russia. He made frequent appearances on Russian state media, the propaganda arm of Putin rt. He was photographed as you know sitting next to president Putin at one of their big Galas exactly a year ago. He was paid to make a speech there. Is that a problem, you think?

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