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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Now that Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State, has officially declared her presidential candidacy, we should note what seems likely to be an all but unprecedented aspect of this campaign. The dynamics and debates which usually play out in a presidential primary between candidates look likely to play out within the Clinton candidacy itself.

To a degree I mean within the campaign itself, with the accustomed battles between political operatives and policy advisers on her campaign over strategy and ideology. But this is not principally what I mean. I mean the Clinton candidacy as a public discussion and quasi-election among Democratic partisans nationwide. One might even say that the Clinton candidacy itself is now close to coterminous with the nominating process and even the Democratic party itself.

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There's a lot of commentary this morning about the police shooting of 44 year old Eric Harris earlier this month in Oklahoma. Here's a good introduction to it if you haven't heard about this incident yet. I'm only going to discuss a small part of the story and it's hardly the most disturbing or perhaps consequential part of it. But it's the part that stands out to me the most.

The police version of events is that reserve deputy Robert Bates thought he was pulling out his taser when in fact he was pulling out his gun and shot Harris. The single shot proved fatal. This is called a "slips and capture" error in which in a high stress situation you think you're doing one thing and accidentally do another. A few days later Bates told the paper he thought he was holding his taser when the gun discharged. The tape of the incident at at least some level supports this claim because it has Bates saying "I shot him!" and then "I'm sorry."

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This is probably the best and most important thing you can read on Appomattox, what happened there and what it means, amidst all that's been published over the last week. It's a Times oped by historian Gregory P. Downs which builds on and in some ways summarizes his recent book on the subject. The gist is that the war did not end at Appomattox. It continued in an intensive military occupation that lasted another five years and in widespread terrorist and paramilitary violence directed largely at newly emancipated free black men and women, in a pitched societal battle to enforce or turn back the results of the Civil War. This is a case where history and deceiving fable reach down into the present day. Read it.

With today's anniversary of Appomattox, I wanted to link back to this post from almost two years ago. I discussed a simple fact about the aftermath of the Civil War: The North, which is to say, the United States bought the South's acquiescence into reabsorption into the federal union by ceding the battle for historical memory, nostalgia and valor to the South. The Union bought a seemingly permanent regional peace by abandoning the freedmen of the South and going along with a concocted story about superior Southern valor.

I'm not sure I'd say I'm outraged. Outrage is a cheap emotion anyway. But this is a pretty odd way for the federal government to sum up the curtain call of the Civil War at Appomattox 150 years ago.

From TPM Reader CV ...

Greetings TPM folk,

Today is the 150th anniversary of Lee's surrender at Appomattox and if you go to the NPS website for the Park you find this explanation: "On Palm Sunday (April 9), 1865, Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia signaled the end of the Southern States attempt to create a separate nation. It set the stage for the emergence of an expanded and more powerful Federal government. In a sense the struggle over how much power the central government would hold had finally been settled."

I find that disturbing and offensive. *Thats* the nutshell takeaway from the Civil War?

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