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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Early on Sunday, a man believed to be one of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge militants, was driving on Greenhouse Lane near Hines, Oregon when he "failed to navigate a 25 mph curve in his white 2003 Ford van. He traveled off the road and crashed through a barbed-wire fence, ending up about 150 feet off the roadway."

Happily, Darrow Burke, 57 of Ukiah, California, was uninjured. The van didn't seem to come out of it as well as the picture above attests. Hines is the town immediately adjacent to Burns, the town just outside the wildlife refuge.

Burke was cited for driving without a license. But you don't get arrested for that, just cited, so he was allowed to hitch a ride back into Hines with the tow truck driver and apparently back to the stand off.

My first response to this debate is just how wildly different the Democratic debates are from the Republican debates. Some small part of that is tied to just how many Republican candidates there are. Some of it turns on the especially incendiary personalities of some of those candidates. But most of it turns on relative primacy of factual discussion in the Democratic debates and the lack of the bellicose often verging on apocalyptic rhetoric that has become the baseline of the Republican conversation.

Put simply, the Republican debates are great in publishing terms. I'll grant that they are high drama. They're toxic in civic terms.

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10:42 PM: If Gov O'Malley is converting to Islam that's huge.

10:43 PM: Hillary really would have been well served by more debates.

10:44 PM: "That questions annoys me." (As well it should.)

10:25 PM: Interesting response from Clinton here about the "red line" and chemical weapons. This would be an obvious place for her to distance herself from Obama and from all accounts she was more hawkish on Syria than Obama. And yet she's making a very subtle and I think right-thinking point. We hear a lot about the red line. And I think there's real merit to the criticism. But there's this other side too: you don't just start killing people just because of something you said in the past. And we did get an agreement that with the Russians got chemical weapons out of the hands of the Syrian regime. I was surprised and impressed by that answer.

10:28 PM: I could come up with some arch way of saying this. But I just have this strong and I think accurate sense that whenever Gov O'Malley jumps in it's generally some opportunistic comment that is not only basically off point but also something he probably wouldn't be saying or care about if it didn't seem to make sense in the context of the political debate.

10:32 PM: Hillary Clinton's answer on Putin is one of those answers - smart, comprehensive, knowledgable - that make me think she'd be a really good president.

10:13 PM: I'm listening to Chuck Todd saying this debate hasn't fallen short of the billing as a big, big fight. Well, not really. Yes, there's some. But man, there's simply no comparison to the GOP debates, fundamentally reality-based, science based. Yes, some sharp back and forths. But as things go, all basically civil.

10:15 PM: While we're waiting for things to get back underway. Here's a story about one of those Oregon militants. He's angry that child protective services back in Arizona has removed foster children from his home because he's off in another state breaking federal laws.

9:54 PM: I have to say, it's such an odd thing to watch Clinton and Sanders fight. Because when I watch them fight, I like them both better.

9:58 PM: "Haven't gotten a penny this year." Dude, why are you up there?

9:59 PM: Clinton campaign just sent out an email backing up her claims re: Sanders on Obama. Semi-backs her up. But not that strong. Here's what they point to re: a 2012 primary challenger.

Sanders called for a primary challenger to President Obama in 2012, saying it would do the country “a great deal of service” to push a “progressive agenda as opposed to what Obama is doing.”

Aside from that, pretty thin.

10:02 PM: Not a well-researched question by Andrea Mitchell. Sanders has been pretty clear on his tax policies.

10:03 PM: Am I a bad person for really wishing Gov O'Malley weren't in these debate anymore?

10:05 PM: I will say that this debate is a good example of how moderator questions contain a mix of implicit ignorance and conservative bias when it comes to tax policy. It's a very crisp question to say, well Bernie Sanders you've described all these awesome new programs but you've been less clear on how you'd pay for it!!! But as Sanders noted, that's just not true. He's been quite clear on a series of taxes he'd raise. The question is just false and makes sense only in the context of throwing a cliche at the candidate. It's also willfully obtuse not to understand that taxes raised to pay for a single payer health care plan aren't in a very meaningful sense offset and more than offset by no longer paying health care insurance premiums. I mean good lord, a simple point. I just pulled out one of my payroll spreadsheets. TPM spends substantially more in health care insurance premiums than it does it employment taxes. This isn't directly comparable to individuals and their income taxes. But again, the basic point is really clear.

9:32 PM: I think that's about as good a job as Clinton could do with this question. But it's a bit of a dodge to say that Democrats have working since Truman to get the Affordable Care Act. And Sanders answer is pretty solid.

9:34 PM: "Contention debate" ... "tearing this up" vs "going forward". I think Clinton's best argument - in political terms - is to speak to the risk aversion of people who have things they like. For starters, Medicare. People who have Medicare like it a lot. They don't want to lose it or see it changed. There's a good argument that want Sanders wants doesn't change Medicare at all. It just gives a version of it to everyone. But again, if you have Medicare, do you want to see it rolled into a whole new program? If you have private care do you like, do you want it rolled into a public program? I'm not saying these are good arguments on the policy merits. But these are politically powerful arguments. And I'm curious that she isn't making them.

9:39 PM: Hillary's close on the health care reform question was very strong.

9:42 PM: "I do" ... on calling himself a democratic socialist ... Bern.

9:42 PM: Watching this I think back to the point I made in the post below. It's a great irony that the DNC hammered down the number of debates at least partly on Hillary's behalf. She needed more of them, rather than fewer of them.

9:02 PM: And here we go.

9:03 PM: Curious whether Hillary is gonna be able to be quite as rough and tough with Sanders as she's been from a distance over the last two or three days.

9:05 PM: As I watching I was wondering whether Sanders who note that contrary to the contemporary mythology Martin Luther King's politics went well beyond rational equality, especially toward the end of his life. His politics on economics were pretty similar to Bernie Sanders'. He was a democratic socialist, like Sanders. Sanders might not want to emphasize that language. But the underlying point is reality.

9:10 PM: Sort of off the point. But worth noting how our ideas about age have changed over the years. When Ronald Reagan ran for President in 1980 his age was a topic of background chatter and a real question hovering over his candidacy. He was 69 when he was sworn in. This year Hillary Clinton is 68, Donald Trump is 69, Bernie Sanders is 74. Certainly with Trump and Clinton, the issue of age is hardly an issue at all. Sanders' age might become an issue if and when people think he might really be the nominee. But not yet - hasn't come up.

9:15 PM: I think there was a moment there when O'Malley was kind of thrown off guard by people clapping for him.

9:18 PM: Hardly a shocking statement for our public conversation. But for Hillary Clinton, for someone who comes from her politics to use this phrase "systemic racism in our criminal justice system", that's a big moment. That will come up again.

9:24 PM: The issue of heroine and opioid abuse seems like a classic case of an issue which wasn't remotely on Washington's radar but got forced into the debate as a product of the primary process - in both parties.

As we await the beginning of tonight's debate, let's note a gleaming irony. Sanders backers (and O'Malley's backer) have been complaining for months that the DNC kept the number of debates to a minimum and scheduled them at odd times to benefit Hillary Clinton, the most known candidate and prohibitive frontrunner, who has had and continues to have overwhelming establishment support. It's not terribly surprising that the DNC would do this, considering the desire to avoid a lengthy primary season and the near unanimous support she has enjoyed among Democratic elected officials. Doesn't mean it's fair. But it's hardly surprising.

And yet, that mild tipping of the scales now looks like it may be hurting Clinton. Clinton has done quite well in the debates - both in subjective terms (what I or other people might think) in objective terms. She's performed strongly and seen her poll numbers benefit after the debates. That means she'd probably be benefiting from even more debates. She could use a high profile debate right now in fact. But here we are with a 9pm debate on Sunday on a long holiday weekend. Other than scheduling one on New Year's Eve or 3 O'Clock in the morning, it's hard to know how you could limit viewership any more than that.

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