Josh Marshall

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Josh Marshall is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TPM.

These Judges are Corrupt

Do take a moment to reach Josh Kovensky’s report here on Judge Cannon’s latest order. It’s hard to capture just how unheard of and close to unprecedented this is. Trump literally asked for this particular judge to be the Special Master. Now only a couple weeks after his appointment she is jumping in and just overruling him in the most transparently one-sided ways. It’s really not too much to say that she’s essentially acting as Trump’s defense counsel – which is good I guess since he’s had a hard time holding on to them.

Special Masters do work on behalf of the judge. At the end of the process he can make recommendations and she can simply not take them. So she is not acting beyond her authority in the narrow sense. But the point of the exercise is to have a respected outside party review evidence and make recommendations to the judge. By jumping in and overruling entirely reasonable and unremarkable decisions about how the review will be conducted she’s removing whatever pretense was left that she is there to oversee the case under the law as opposed to protect Trump. It’s not the worst of her orders in this ruling. Others are much worse on substance. But Special Master Dearie said he needed x amount of time to conduct the review. She jumps in and says, no actually you need to past the election.

It’s all very transparent. But here we are. Read it.

Five Alarm Fire Prime Badge

The DC insider sheets are already buzzing about the exciting news: House Republicans plan a new round of debt limit hostage taking next year. Of course, this is all treated as somehow totally normal, as opposed to an unconstitutional form of legislative terrorism. This piece in Axios walks through the ins and outs of it, noting the following ….

The debt limit turning into a “political football” has become a “pattern in divided government,” particularly with a Democratic president, Neil Bradley, chief policy officer for the U.S. Chamber of Congress, told Axios.

This is a crock. Let’s be honest. Only Republicans do this. It only happens with Democratic Presidents. Perhaps understandably, the head of the pro-business Chamber – which is, paradoxically, somewhat reviled now in the Trumpite GOP – can’t say this directly. But journalists don’t have to repeat their nonsense. The leading contender for the key committee chairmanship that would call the shots on this is already being clear on what Republicans will do. Tell the President that he has to repeal his 2021-22 legislation or the country has to declare national bankruptcy.

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Missed Chances Prime Badge

If you look recent polls there’s definitely a drift away from Democrats in a number of key races. The shifts are tiny if you look at the race averages. They may simply be the sloshing back and forth of poll numbers which is essentially noise. My best guess, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, is that Republicans have gotten back on the airwaves in a number of key races and been helped by a few weeks or ominous economic news – market declines which create a backdrop of disquiet even for people who have little or no direct exposure to equities markets. These things are mostly beyond Democrats and individual Senate candidates control. But what campaigns do control or have some real impact on is what an election is about. And it is always critical to make the election ‘about’ whatever it is on which you have the strongest hand. In this case, for Democrats, that’s on abortion rights.

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Big Kev: A Stone Cold Killa

This Washington Post article paints a picture of Kevin McCarthy completely at odds with the real life Kevin McCarthy many of us has observed for years. As the piece tells it, McCarthy is backroom enforcer you don’t want to cross. Not content to relive the fates of predecessors John Boehner and Paul Ryan, McCarthy has worked behind the scenes to prune the House GOP of the kinds of bomb throwers and fame-seekers who made Boehner’s and Ryan’s jobs so thankless. Says one McCarthy insider: “He is not a guy to be trifled with. It’s like they say in the Marine Corps, ‘No better friend, no worse enemy.’ And they mean it, and they act on it.”

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God On Ron’s Side

I wanted to flag this passage in Sarah Posner’s piece for TPM today …

In recent political speeches, DeSantis has been using a verse from Ephesians 6 (“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”), but with a notable substitution: instead of “the devil’s,” he has said “the left’s.” The meaning is not lost on evangelical audiences, who are well familiar with the actual words of the verse. 

Read the piece here.

Watching Russia Prime Badge

Over the weekend I started thinking about a hypothetical: is there anyone in the Russian national security apparatus who thinks to themselves, “Yep, decision to pull the trigger on the invasion back in February … great call!”

I emphasize “think” rather than “say” since the mood in Russia doesn’t seem like one where doubts are likely to be expressed openly, at least at the upper levels of the national security establishment. People find ways not to ask themselves these questions, even in the privacy of their thoughts. But it is hard to imagine many managing to say yes. The suffering is overwhelmingly in and to Ukraine; they are the victims. But it is hard to imagine a greater self-inflicted wound than the one Russia brought on itself back in February, entirely at a time and place of its choosing.

I raise this question because, as you likely know, President Putin recently declared a “partial mobilization” in Russia, the first since the Second World War, which gives the state power to draft about 300,000 new recruits, though there are signs on the ground that the mobilization is actually far from partial.

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DeSantis Still Mum Prime Badge

The Post has another updated narrative of the events surrounding Florida’s shipment of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. It is mainly more human detail about the journey of one Venezuelan migrant named Jose. But it does give a bit more flavor or “Perla’s” MO, including offering McDonald’s voucher to migrants who’d gone without food in exchange for signing a transport waiver most of which hadn’t been translated into Spanish. The other thing that is clear is that reporters seem to have more detail than made it into this article about the contracting arrangements by which Florida paid for these operatives in Texas to run their operation for them.

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Revisiting the Ukraine War Prime Badge

Back on March 30th, little more than a month into the Russo-Ukraine War, I published an email from TPM Reader BF who I identified as from the U.S. national security world. You can read the post here. But the gist, according to BF, was that I had it all wrong, that “notwithstanding its battlefield embarrassments and mishaps Putin is on the verge of getting everything he wants and Ukraine is on the verge of what amounts to surrender.”

Last week I heard from another reader asking for an update from BF in light of the last six months. That follow-on note was a bit ungenerous in its tone and somewhat tendentious in its read of BF’s comments. But the overall suggestion seemed worthwhile. When I asked, BF was game. So here’s his response …

[ed. note: BF’s response was written on September 15th, so before the recent mobilization announcement.]

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Into the Storm Prime Badge

The congressional generic ballot continues to drift slowly in the Democrats’ direction. But there’s been some tightening in key Senate races that have looked promising for Democrats. These are all very small shifts that are as likely to be noise as actual trends. But the fact that most of these small moves are in the GOP direction suggests it’s something more than noise. The simplest explanation is that a variety of factors allowed Democrats to dominate the airwaves through the late summer. Republicans had fundraising challenges; they hadn’t settled yet on nominees; their various committees and mega-donors were feuding among themselves. That’s changed now. And that change seems to be showing up in the polls.

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Surprise Surprise

One of the questions I’ve mentioned a few times in the DeSantis Vineyard story is that the company Florida is paying for the migrant flights isn’t the one which is actually running the flights. The former is Vertol Systems, newly of Florida, and the latter Ohio-based Ultimate Jet Charters. Vertol is mostly a helicopter company and doesn’t seem to have the kind of planes needed for this kind of work, which sort of raises the questions of why they got the contract. (Since the news of all this broke Vertol took its website offline.) Since Vertol can’t do it, they’ve subcontracted the work to Ultimate Jet Charters. This new Miami Herald article goes into all the details and reveals that Vertol has close ties to Larry Keefe, the DeSantis appointee charged with running his anti-immigration policies. Who could have guessed.

Of course, this isn’t the first state contract given to a governor’s cronies and it doesn’t get us closer to knowing the real question: who is DeSantis working with in Texas? And where’s “Perla”?

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