Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Today we are excited to announce a new feature series on privatization, one of the most significant, far-reaching and little understood trends in American politics, society and economics of the last half century. As we did in our earlier series on the rise of inequality, we've commissioned four in-depth articles looking at the issue from numerous of vantage points: the history of privatization, including its political and ideological origins, a look at key privatized industries like the so-called "corrections industry", public-private partnerships and more. Here's my introduction to the series. We look forward to your feedback and hope you enjoy it.

The start of the week brings us a raft of latter-day Trump endorsers who now have the look of a base-runner caught between 1st and 2nd after a miracle line drive catch. They already committed; no easy way back.

Part of this is the reaction to Trump's escalating round of racist tirades against the federal judge presiding over the complex, far-ranging and increasingly damning fraud lawsuits brought against him. But there's another part of the equation garnering much less attention. Just after Trump clinched the nomination, his head to head poll numbers against Hillary Clinton surged. May horse race polls are erratic and often misleading. We shouldn't read too much into them. But people do read a lot into them. And there's little doubt that seeing Trump go from what seemed like a sure loser to a maybe winner helped a lot of Republican elected officials get over the hump and come out in favor of Trump as their nominee.

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Almost a month ago, I brought you the news that - rather bizarrely for a purported billionaire - Trump receives a tax credit in New York which is restricted to married couples making less than $500k a year. The news is based on the on-going reporting of Aaron Elstein of Crain's New York Business. Trump's folks insisted it was a mistake and said, well of course Trump's makes more than a half million dollars a year. But now Elstein reports that Trump got the deduction again this year? Brand new documents!

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I want to tell you about an article that you simply must read. It's about Trump University. But it's a part of the story I at least was not at all familiar with - how what we now know as the Trump University real estate seminar scam grew out of a licensing deal Trump struck with one of the most notorious late night informercial get-rich-quick scammers of the early aughts. The article was published at the end of April in Ars Technica. Even though Ars is widely read and extremely well respected, it's in the tech and science rather than the news and politics space. So that may account for what seems like relatively little discussion of this aspect of the story.

In any case, here's the gist.

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Since Clinton's speech on Thursday I've been trying to gauge Trump's response. But making sense of Trump is no easy thing. He's like no politician who has reached the pinnacle of the electoral stage in perhaps a century, maybe ever. His public appearances are like a fugue of impulse and aggression, overlapped with charisma and humor and a searching for the spirit of the crowd, a sometimes frantic, sometimes slow mix of neediness, divination and dominance.

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Boxing has fallen so far in public esteem, so far off the cultural map of the American landscape (for the most part rightly so) that it may be difficult for anyone under 40, certainly under 30, to fully grasp the scope of Ali's greatness or importance on the American scene. Sport but so much more than sport, one of the iconic, transformational figures of the second half of the 20th century. A beautiful black man, a Muslim, a titanic athlete, the embodiment of a certain vision of America - and with that smile. And despite the near universal esteem he enjoyed later in life, a genuine rebel who gave up his peak years as an athlete in a fight over the Vietnam War and racism in America. Beautiful, punishing, genius.

The titanic confrontations with Frazier, Foreman and others were etched into my childhood, written into my relationship with my father. Taking the banished TV out of the closet to watch the big fight. Frazier, who became, ironically, the black champion of a certain part of white America in those fights of the early 70s against an Ali who refused to keep his head down, bowed. I was only really old enough to appreciate at the time the majestic, almost operatic fights with Leon Spinks in the late 70s. Ali already well past his physical prime, fighting, losing to Spinks and then summoning a mix of power, wells of character, brilliance and canniness that allowed him to reclaim the crown for the final time. For every cliched cinematic boxing epic you've ever seen, with spirit, drive, determination and character besting pure and unbridled power, this was it, the real version. It actually happened. Truly The Greatest, one of those 360 degree heroes, the likes of whom will not walk among us again.

We've seen Trump building this argument for a while now. But in an interview yesterday with The Wall Street Journal he made it yet more explicit. Trump says that Judge Gonzalo Curiel has an "absolute conflict" in presiding over the Trump University case because of his "Mexican heritage." The fact that Curiel was born to immigrant parents in Indiana in 1953 is relevant, according to Trump, because Trump's been so vocal against illegal immigration. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest."

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This New York Times article says that Judge Curiel's father Salvador arrived in the United States in the 1920s, eventually becoming a citizen and working as a steelworker. Trump's mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, arrived in the United States from Scotland in 1930. Mary Anne became a US citizen in 1942.

Since Trump and his parents have been major public figure for decades, we have more details about them than the Curiels. But even a brief bit of research says that Judge Curiel's father's immigration to the United States predates that of Trump's mother.

The rule of law is the only way to fight the bacillus Trump and Trumpism represents in this campaign. Trump introduced the violence and eliminationism into the campaign. His enemies are now following suit, indeed in significant ways expanding it. That's not protest; it's mob violence. The one saving grace of last night's free-for-all and earlier ones is the sheer prevalence of social media. We're seeing smartphone videos mainly from journalists who were on the scene. But if you look in the background of these videos, almost everyone who isn't hitting, getting hit or actively taunting is holding up a hand cam of some sort. Everyone involved is readily identifiable, from multiple angles. They should all be identified, tracked down and prosecuted, not primarily as punishment but as deterrence.

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The Dallas Morning News reports that Texas state prosecutors built a $4.5 million fraud case against Trump and Trump University. But the case never went forward because it was deep-sixed by then-Attorney General and now Governor Greg Abbott (R). The former deputy director of Abbott's Consumer Protection Division, John Owens, tells the DMN: "“The decision not to sue him was political. Had [Trump] not been involved in politics to the extent he was at the time, we would have gotten approval. Had he been just some other scam artist, we would have sued him.”