Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I discussed my feelings and memories of David Bowie the morning his death was announced, tersely. But since then I’ve been struck by just how intense and widespread the outpouring of grief and memory has been. Much more than I would have expected - and from a much broader range of people that I would have imagined. Others I’ve asked seem to have the same sense: a much more sustained and widespread impact than they expected. Now, I always try to be aware of the distorting prism of social media. In a way that is very unlike the case thirty years ago or even ten years ago, we all live awash in the inner experiences, the impulsive self-expressions of our friends and mere acquaintances. Yet, even in that context, even figuring in that difference, something seems different. So I’ve been asking myself why.

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As I've noted a few times since this began, there's a lot to be said for forbearance and deescalation. But at a certain point you really do have a breakdown of any sense that there's a state or law and order or protection for ordinary civilians. Today we have news that the Bundy extremists on preparing to the put local officials on "trial". And now we hear that local residents say they're being harassed or threatened by other militant extremists - either connected to the Bundy-ites or just other militants they've attracted because of the climate of lawlessness they've created.

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This speech brought home to me that President Obama's presidency is coming to an end. But I don't mean that in a negative sense, not in the sense of diminishing power or relevance. I mean something different. I said at the outset that this was one of the most tepid State of the Union speeches I'd ever heard. And it was, at the outset. At the beginning it felt - dare I say it - professorial. The crowd didn't seem to know quite what to make of it. But his themes and purpose began to become clear to me at about the half hour mark. I started to see how central the Republican nomination race was to the speech.

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I watched the speech on the Cspan web feed which stuck with the President as he shook hands and signed stuff for every last member of Congress. And right toward the end, some young guy who I don't think was a member of Congress - but I'm not sure - asked the President to take a selfie with him and Obama sort of breezily said 'no, I can't take a selfie with you' and moved on. Anyone know who that was who asked? Was that a member of Congress? Did anyone else see it?

Late Update: On the hoofs of history, video of the selfie rejection.

10:06 PM: Interesting evocation, name-checking of his 2004 Keynote address at the Democratic convention.

Our brand of democracy is hard. But I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen – inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far. Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed. Voices Dr. King believed would have the final word – voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love.

10:10 PM: And there we are. All done.

9:43 PM: This essential point - both on Russia and ISIS - is a real needle to thread but incredibly important. Russia's aggressive behavior in Ukraine and Syria are largely tied to fear of losing few remaining international clients. And puncture this nonsense about the fight against ISIS being World War III or the war of our time or whatever, nonsense. It's really nonsense. Even the point of continuing to refer to them as their "caliphate" is factually silly and strategically foolish. I heard a few days ago the Prime Minister of Iraq referring to ISIS as a "criminal gang." By any historical terms, calling ISIS a "caliphate" is very dubious. And very few Muslims recognize it as such. So why, other than to puff up their historic significance, grant them this title, which is a historic and glorious one in the history of Islam.

9:48 PM: As this speech comes more into focus, its themes more evident, it becomes clear how much of it is one long "Let's get real, folks" aimed at the GOP primary race and the country watching it.

9:55 PM: That passage on anti-Muslim bigotry, just powerful. No other way to put it.

That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith. His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot I stand tonight that “to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.” When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.

9:12 PM: Is it possible to unite Congress against heroin? Is that where we are?

9:16 PM: Even the fractional chance that Donald Trump could be given this speech in twelve months is enough to make me think, Okay, this might be the last State of the Union.

9:24 PM: This feels like the most tepid State of the Union I've maybe ever heard. It's like having Obama start with, 'okay I'm really not going to go into any policy stuff I'm just going to go big picture about the future', kind of left everyone feeling, what are we going to get angry and yell about?

9:31 PM: Maybe a different way to put it might be: "Okay, I don't really care about this partisan stuff anymore. I'm just going to give you the big picture as I see it."

9:32 PM: Okay, the Sputnick thing was a great line. That really does capture it.

9:35 PM: Now, we seem to be hitting a groove.

9:01 PM: I guess this has been evolving over a few years. But does anyone else find it jarring that the members of the hard-right faction on the Supreme Court simply don't attend the State of the Union anymore? Roberts must feel, rightly, that as the senior official of one of the three branches of government he really must be there. But what about Scalia, Thomas and Alito?

In a highly proud day for the State of New York, the village of Whitesboro, New York has voted to retain the village seal which appears to show a white man throttling or chocking an Indian. As I said, a proud moment, though village resident Scott Hastings, makes clear that he won't be pushed around. "Political correctness, who cares? This is our village, who cares what the world thinks? I want to see this settled today. Once and for all."

But part of me wonders whether this isn't a more appropriate or at least more historically accurate way of representing the country's and perhaps this village's origins.

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