Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

TPM Reader AS has a provocative, some might think it even offensive, look at Ben Carson's striking level of ignorance about so many things. Though, I don't agree with all of it, I found it quite insightful ...

Good job on the Dr. Ben Carson / Egyptian pyramids nonsense. There's another aspect: what his apparent lack of general knowledge says, pro or con, about his fitness to be President.

I happen to be the daughter of an archaeologist, and I 100% agree with your commenter who said it is so infuriating to see someone pontificate about the field in total ignorance, but I have a different point to make.

"General knowledge"--basic awareness of the mix of facts and empirical discoveries that undergird modern society-- tends to correlate strongly not merely with one's own level of formal education, but with that of the people in one's formative circle--mainly, family--when growing up. Carson's level of formal education is high: Yale undergrad, U. Mich M.D.

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I'm going to ask this again. Who runs Ben Carson's campaign? And is it a campaign or a direct mail scam that improbably had its "candidate" turn into the national frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. Ben Carson now says that even he questions the wisdom of creating a Ben Carson rap ad to target African-American voters.

Here's what Carson's Communications Director Doug Watts said about the rap strategy: We are "Reaching [young black voters] on a level they appreciate and follow and see if we can attract their consciousness about the election. They need to get involved and express their voice through their vote.” We are "reaching out and talking to them in a language that they prefer and in a language that, and in a cultural format that they appreciate."

As all of you know, the topic of growing wealth and income inequality in America has moved to the center of American politics over the last handful of years - not just among Democrats but even Republicans, though the suggested solutions are quite different from each party. So we decided to put together a major series on the topic: an introduction plus four longform articles, written from a variety of angles and areas of expertise. I mentioned earlier this week that TPM is about to celebrate its 15th anniversary online. And that has put me in the mind of my life-muse Bob Dylan's line that "he who is not busy being born is busy dying," which I interpret as the need to constantly reinvent, experiment and never settle into the comfort of the deathly hand of the past. So this is something entirely new for us and something I'm very excited about. We were able to get AFSCME to sponsor the series which gave us the funds to really do it right, to find the best writers, put everything together in a polished way and really go deep without the standard need - which is eternal in publishing, especially if you're independent - to sweat whether the investment pays off in page views and clicks.

So today, we're publishing the first of five pieces in the series, which is an introduction from me on the hows and whys of why we're doing this, what questions we're trying to answer and introductions of who we've got writing the pieces and what each piece in the series is about. The first full length piece debuts Monday. Here's my introductory essay. I'm eager to hear what you think and I hope you enjoy the series.

The experts come out on Carson. Now from TPM Reader EI ...

As a medieval art historian, I get used to people using the term "medieval" in a negative way; anytime you want to criticize someone, you accuse them of being medieval, as if that is universally bad, and whether or not their policies or statements are genuinely medieval.

With Carson, though, is absolutely accurate to say that his pyramid thesis is medieval.

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I'm just going to turn it over to TPM Reader SR because it just got personal on Pyramids ...

I am a dedicated reader of your blog but not a subscriber, but I just had to weigh in on the Carson/archaeology discussion because, well, I've spent my entire adult life as a professional ancient historian. Frankly, I now know what climate scientists go through - hard working dedicated folks whose work gets dissed for political gain (of course, the archaeology "denialists" are not denying an existential threat as are the climate nay-sayers).

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Whatever the logic of Ben Carson's comments, TPM Readers clearly think that the time was right for Pyramids to move to the center of the 2016 election debate.

We start with TPM Reader JO ...

I remember those books and the spate of movies that were associated with them — not just Chariots of the Gods “documentary” but cash-in follow-ups and copies like Beyond and Back(about the experiences of allegedly briefly-dead people) and In Search of Noah’s Ark (no explanation necessary).

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Ben Carson is doubling down on his theory that the Egyptian pyramids were not built as funerary monuments but in fact were built by the biblical Joseph, when serving as Pharoah's Prime Minister, to store grain. "It's still my belief, yes," Carson told CBS News today in Naples, Florida.

But after this story went live on the site today a number of you wrote in to say that we'd buried the lede. And when I looked again at the story I discovered you were definitely right.

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I recently spoke to someone who knows Ben Carson professionally. And this person confirmed that however weird he may be and however cloudy his affect, Carson's a really smart guy - which is what you'd expect from a top of his field brain surgeon. But I'm really wondering if it's possible that it's just Carson's hands that are really smart. Because man, this latest thing, even I'm flabbergasted. Carson says he's really not convinced by the archeological elite about the pyramids being built as tombs. He thinks Joseph built them to store grain.

Now ... biblical literalism aside, I'm pretty certain that with the exception of the burial chambers, the pyramids are solid. They're definitely not hollow. Does Carson think they're hollow?

If you remember the plot of Mel Brooks' classic movie, The Producers, the idea was that the scammers set out to produce the worst possible play imaginable to be certain it would close after one night. Yet, they made it so bad it broke through the membrane of awful into the sublime. And they were screwed. Which brings us to the Ben Carson campaign. There is a lot of evidence, coming from a variety of angles, that Carson for President is actually a direct mail scam. Or at least that it started that way.

First, let me explain a bit about what I mean.

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