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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I wanted to make a couple related observations about this Donald Trump debate drama.

First, an admission.

When I heard last night that Trump was pulling out of the Fox News GOP primary debate I was quite certain he had every intention of finally attending tomorrow night's event. The point was simply to engineer 48 hours of cable news drama, begging by Fox News, all topped off by Trump finally deigning to attend the event after all the other players had been sufficiently humiliated. But unless the man is managing a far better bluff than I can imagine, that is clearly not the case. It also seems clear it was never the case. I see no evidence that Trump fumbled this gambit or boxed himself into a non-attendance he didn't intend. Being a no show was the plan.

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As luck or fate or random chance would have it, as the news about the Trump debate drama and the arrests of the Bundy-ites broke last night, I was out for a celebratory dinner with our New York City editorial staff to gear up for the many late nights of the primary season proper. So the DC team carried the ball and we here in New York tried to follow the sketchy developments as they emerged from Oregon on our iPhones. By the time I got home, we knew that one militant was dead and, a bit later, that it was Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, one of the most high profile of the militants and the one who'd openly said he'd prefer to die rather than be taken alive. Here's a look at who Finicum was.

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I'm not certain whether this is the last video of LaVoy Finicum. But it's a video published Tuesday by The Oregonian in which Finicum appears to discuss the meeting in John Day, Oregon that the militant ringleaders were en route to when they were apprehended and Finicum himself was killed. In the video, he explains that sympathizers in Grant County had invited his group to come and speak to them with the aim of joining their cause.

It is a testament to the sense of invulnerability into which the FBI lulled the group that Bundy, Finicum and others thought they could travel roughly one hundred miles on isolated rounds to what was a publicized meeting with impunity.

Video after the jump ...

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We've had unconfirmed reports for the last couple hours that the militants killed during tonight's arrest and exchange of gunfire was Robert "LaVoy" Finicum. That now appears to be confirmed. Finicum's daughter tells the Oregonian that authorities confirmed Finicum's death to her mother.

Aside from ringleader Ammon Bundy, Finicum was one of the most high profile members of the Oregon militants, giving colorful interviews and telling reporters he rather die than be arrested and sent to prison.

We are basically in a holding pattern as we wait for more details on just how tonight's rapid and violent end of the Oregon militia stand off unfolded and the identity of the person who died in the exchange of gunfire between the militants and federal law enforcement. For details up to the moment, see our current feature story. There are many unconfirmed reports; none solid enough to go on as yet. Here's the official statement from the FBI.

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Let's face it. Nothing is ever a certainty in politics before it's done. But not since 2000 and probably not since long before that has there been more evidence that the GOP frontrunner would end up being the nominee. For months people were comparing Donald Trump's poll dominance to various one-month wonder 'frontrunners' back in 2012. But the reality is that not in any race since 2000 - and again, probably not since well before - has any frontrunner so consistently held a lead in so many different states and nationwide.

Here are some key data points from today that drive the point home.

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Despite the elegance and intuitiveness of the theory, a good deal of fairly rigorous analysis has shown over the last two decades that the so-called "broken windows" theory didn't turn out to be valid, at least not in terms of reducing the most serious crimes by taking a more vigilant approach toward enforcing laws against petty crimes. (For keeping your dorm room livable, it's probably fair to say the theory has been infinitely validated.) But the 'stand off' at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is turning out to be a validating case study: the reluctance of federal authorities to enforce the law has triggered a slow but measurable growth of law breaking which was likely latent in the white rural male culture of violence but held somewhat in check by law enforcement.

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