Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

It now seems clear the special ops raid in Yemen did not go according to plan and it went badly. This Times account relates a "a chain of mishaps and misjudgments that plunged the elite commandos into a ferocious 50-minute firefight that also left three others wounded and a $75 million aircraft deliberately destroyed." Chief Petty Officer William Owens was killed in the operation. There also appear to have been a large number of civilian casualties.

Obviously, not every military operation is successful. But there is an extraordinary passage in this article just out from Reuters. What Reuters identifies as "U.S. military officials" says that "[President] Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations."

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Not long after The Washington Post published its blockbuster story about President Trump's tirade at the Australian Prime Minister, the State Department went into damage control mode.

This evening we learned that President Trump went on a rage bender in a call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, berated the PM, boasted repeatedly about the scale of his electoral win and hung up on Turnbull abruptly 25 minutes into what was scheduled to be an hour long conversation. In a similarly hostile call, Trump threatened to invade Mexico and have US military personnel secure the country if Mexico's military was afraid to do so.

Donald Trump's 'war' with CNN has been the most consistent media-bashing theme from him for the last 18 months. But it is as phony as they come. CNN has quite simply been more compliant with Trump than any other news organization. This isn't a knock at the journalists. Some of them recently have been quite good. And I wouldn't say, in general, that they've been worse than their cable news colleagues. But from the business and programming side they've been the most accommodating. Think about it. What other network has a permanent list of pro-Trump pundits on payroll?

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When we think about the politics of this moment and how we can predict, even in general outlines, what is to come, the most salient question is whether political gravity still exists and functions. By any historical standard, President Trump is almost catastrophically unpopular. Presidents enter office with high approval ratings, usually well over 60%. By most measures, Trump is already under 40%. Presidents seldom get more popular than they were at the outset.

By every standard, Trump is courting even greater unpopularity and sowing the seeds of an electoral backlash in two years. And yet, history shouldn't have allowed us to get here in the first place. By most conventional wisdom it should have been extremely difficult for Donald Trump to be elected President. And yet he was. So today people on both sides of the ideological divide - half emboldened, the other half demoralized - think that political gravity simply doesn't apply anymore.

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For all the pyrotechnics at the Justice Department today, this may be the bigger story. There's been confusion over the last three days over whether Republicans on Capitol Hill were briefed, consulted or involved in writing President Trump's now infamous immigration executive order. The White House has said they were. Republicans on the Hill said the first they heard of it was in news reports.

Now we have an explanation.

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As a friend noted last night, this Times article about Steve Bannon is as much about Mike Flynn as Bannon. It's good news, bad news. Good news: Flynn is already being sidelined in his role as National Security Advisor. Bad news: he's being supplanted by Steve Bannon.

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This is a delicate, unlovely point. But I believe it is an important one to make sense of the present moment. People do ugly things when they are scared - both individuals and great masses of people. After 9/11, the US dramatically clamped down on immigration - in some ways that were sensible, in other ways that were simply wrong. But the country had just seen thousands of its citizens slaughtered in a daring and catastrophic terrorist attack in the heart of one of its greatest cities. So much ugly and self-destructive grew out of that moment, much of which still provides the context of the world we live in and struggle with today. But for those of us who were well into adulthood at the time, the sense of threat and danger in late September 2001 were palpable. People were scared and they were angry.

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