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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

It seems to me that Democrats are now involved in a pointless proxy battle between what we might call a "deep causes" explanation of the 2016 loss (strategy, ideology, candidate) and one focused on illegitimate outside interventions: Russian hacking and subversion or James Comey's week-out intervention in the presidential race. Any effort to hold these two explanations as alternatives, as though one obviates the other seems either dishonest, pointless, distracting or simply silly.

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For all the criticism and intrigue about Rex Tillerson's ties to Russia, his lack of any conventional foreign policy experience (despite having contended with various world leaders) and status as an oil company executive, just why did Trump pick him? Like no conspiracy theories, just why? Were they old friends? Is there some business connection? This Politico article gives a more detailed version of the story I've now heard in a number of press accounts: Trump had no prior relationship with Tillerson. But he was recommended to Trump by Bob Gates, Condi Rice and finally James Baker.

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I'm proud to see TPM becoming the go-to place for reporting on the legislative fate of Obamacare, Medicare and now Social Security, all of which are now under varying degrees of threat under unified Trumpite Republican rule. Here's a quick run-down of the GOP plan for drastic cuts to Social Security. Notably, this is not phaseout, not privatization. It's a broad-ranging series of hikes to the retirement age, and cuts to benefits, mostly engineered through changes in the cost of living adjustment formulas, with some means testing thrown in for good measure.

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Anderson Cooper and Kellyanne Conway from short time ago on CNN ...

COOPER: Congressman Adam Schiff tweeted today saying "If Trump was as smart as he claims to be he'd understand how little he knows and how much he'll come to depend on the Intel community. " Why doesn't --

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Watching Republicans try to spin the Russia story is both bizarre and hilarious. Here's Steve Scalise, third-ranking Republican in the House, explaining to Wolf Blitzer that we shouldn't just be focused on Russian election interference but also people who had their credit cards and personal information hacked.

Transcript after the jump ...

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A new Kaiser Family Foundation study says that 52 million Americans have conditions insurers use to deny coverage. Most of those are able to get insurance because they are part of group plans. But many do not and those people are about to become uninsurable again when the GOP Congress repeals Obamacare. They're claiming they'll replace it and that no one will lose what they currently have. But that's certainly not true because they're cutting the funding for Obamacare. Republicans are not going to pass a tax increase to fund whatever GOP replacement they finally come up with for Obamacare. So the human costs are quite here. Here's the story.

This is long ago history for a lot of people. But as long as Trump is raising the issue, let's revisit it. Donald Trump says the US Intelligence Community got it wrong about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. So, he reasons, it's probably getting it wrong now about Russia tampering in the US election. This is not what happened fifteen years ago. What did happen is actually highly instructive of what we should be wary of after January 20th.

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This afternoon on Fox News, in an interview with Eric Shawn, John Bolton, the expected incoming Deputy Secretary of State suggested that reports of Russia hacking intervention in the 2016 election may actually be a false flag operation. On first read it certainly appears that he is saying such an operation may have been hatched by the current administration. He does not quite say that in so many words. And I have spoken to others that suggest Bolton is speaking of another country mounting such an operation. I'm printing the transcript of the exchange in full for people to make their own judgment.

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Incoming presidents usually have outsized approval ratings due to some softening of partisan division and some hope for a successful presidency. Pew just published approval ratings for the last five presidents during their transition periods, with approval a) for explaining their policies and plans and b) for their cabinet choices. They are Bush 65/59, Clinton 62/64, Bush 50/58, Obama 72/71. For Trump they are 41/40.

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