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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

With an actual deal, with definitive text and conditions, now in place, I wanted to share a few initial reactions. I have not seen all the details and many of them are technical and not ones I'm well-suited to judge. To get a general sense of my take on the equities and stakes involved, see this exchange I did with David Frum back in April. This was on the basis of the tentative agreement. But most of the discussion remains as relevant today as it was then.

There are many things to say. But here's the one I want to focus on for the moment. As I said, many of the issues involved in these deals are technical. And as much as people pretend otherwise, most of us are dependent on technical experts to make sense of who got the better of different compromises. With that said, at a basic level I trust the people negotiating on the U.S. side, subject of course to hearing anything over the coming days that gives me some reason to rethink that assumption.

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You may have seen here that President Obama has commuted the sentences of 46 federal inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses. This is part of the administration's general push for prison and criminal justice reform - particularly in relation to the drug war. It is welcome news on all those fronts. But there's a slightly different issue I want to focus on.

Over the last several decades, the presidential pardon power - which includes a broad power to pardon offenses or simply commute sentences - has all but disappeared. The controversy over President Clinton's end-of-term pardons played some role in that. But the trend was already well underway.

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On September 17th, 1969, then-presidential aide Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote to President Nixon to alert him to the danger that the rise of carbon dioxide introduced into the atmosphere by fossil fuels would lead to the warming of the planet. "I would think this is a subject the Administration out to get involved with." Here's Moynihan's letter.

Here at TPM we've been wondering: how much is Donald Trump's business being harmed and could the damage get severe enough that he'd shift gears and try to reverse the damage. We talked to the author of a soon-to-be-released biography of Trump to get some insight on that question. Check it out.

For me it's a fascinating question because I think Trump really, really likes being not just rich but among the super rich. And I suspect he'd do anything not to face the humiliation of major financial reverses. But he's arrogant and headstrong enough that I think it's almost impossible to imagine him going into damage control or 'crisis communications' mode and begging forgiveness or trying to shift gears.

We shall see.

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