Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Despite the elegance and intuitiveness of the theory, a good deal of fairly rigorous analysis has shown over the last two decades that the so-called "broken windows" theory didn't turn out to be valid, at least not in terms of reducing the most serious crimes by taking a more vigilant approach toward enforcing laws against petty crimes. (For keeping your dorm room livable, it's probably fair to say the theory has been infinitely validated.) But the 'stand off' at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is turning out to be a validating case study: the reluctance of federal authorities to enforce the law has triggered a slow but measurable growth of law breaking which was likely latent in the white rural male culture of violence but held somewhat in check by law enforcement.

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A couple months ago I wrote about a controversial study which reported the rising mortality rates among middle aged whites - a trend which broke the model of ever-decreasing mortality rates across racial groups in the United States and all wealthy industrialized countries worldwide. I argued that, whether it was principally cause or effect, it was critical to understanding contemporary US politics. The leading driver of this rising mortality was drug overdose, chronic substance abuse (liver disease, etc.) and suicide. Subsequent critiques of the study appeared to show the trend was somewhat exaggerated in the original study and more concentrated among white women. Still, the overall findings held up.

Since then I've been reading more about the rising rates of drug overdoses themselves. The numbers are truly stunning. The number of people now dying from drug overdose is comparable to the number dying annually from AIDS during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in the mid-90s. Now, this isn't a perfect analog, certainly. Drug overdose goes back either centuries or millennia depending on how you want to define it. AIDS was a totally new disease in the US starting in the early 1980s. But it does provide a sense of scale.

50,000 American died of AIDS in the peak year of 1995. In 2014, just over 47,000 people of overdose.

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If you're watching this Democratic townhall and this question to Hillary about enthusiasm and honesty, at first I thought she was going to bobble it. But, man, she brought it.

I see this morning that our friends at Mother Jones have entered their bid to write the definitive Ted Cruz asshole florilegium (TCAF). Here it is. It does lean heavily on recent congressional haters of Ted Cruz. But in fairness it also does go back into the pre-Senate, law school and collegiate days. Here at TPM we've opted for an iterative approach, in part because this is our traditional mode of coverage but also because of skepticism about whether, like topics such as 'democracy' or 'modernism', the literature may simply be too vast to be captured in any single monographic treatment.

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I was an early adopter to the belief that Ted Cruz is an odious weasel. But I did not make him out for a bald-faced liar, mainly because I would think that habitual lying would cause too much cognitive dissonance with his self-righteousness. But the new claim that he didn't know his family had health insurance, I'm sorry, that does not add up. Our Tierney Sneed walks us through the original lie, the holes in the logic of the original lie, the campaign admission that the story was false and now the holes in that admission.

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The 'GOP Civil War!' line is perhaps the most well-worn cliche of progressive journalism, just as the parallel 'Democratic Civil War!' is on the other side of the equation. Yet here, for a moment at least, we seem to have a real one, whether or not it speaks to some deeper cleavage that will transcend the individual personalities in question.

Right now in the GOP primary you have two frontrunners - with the edge going to Donald Trump - who both seem to terrify established party leaders, for a mix of reasons ranging from ideology to electability to behavior and tone. But the crux of it is not who supports who so much as which of these two is worst or which - going a bit further - is not just worst but positively unacceptable as a presidential nominee. A GOP pal of mine says we should call it "The War between the Hates."

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