Editors’ Blog

COVID Status Check Prime Badge

After more than a year of crisis we can all taste the end of the COVID pandemic. The rapidly accelerating rate of vaccinations secures that hope firmly in reality. For the moment though we remain in a standoff with the virus. In key parts of the country we’re actually losing ground.

There’s no question that COVID cases are now on the rise in the Greater New York region and have at least plateaued in much of the Northeast. Michigan, particularly metro-Detroit, is in the midst of surge. Cases there have more than doubled in the last two weeks. New York and Michigan are among 22 states where the number of COVID infections have gone up at least 10% over the last week.

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Netanyahu May Finally Be Down for the Count Prime Badge
RAMAT GAN, ISRAEL - MARCH 04:  Israel's Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during the launch of the Likud party election campaign on March 4, 2019 in Ramat Gan, Israel.  (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

The final results of the fourth successive Israeli election are now in and the verdict is clear: Netanyahu lost. Or to put the matter more precisely, the results make it almost impossible for him to form a government. His bloc, which includes his Likud party and a group of far-right and religious parties, gained 52 seats. You need a minimum of 61 to form a government. Another natural ideological ally, the Yamina party led by an erstwhile Netanyahu lieutenant named Naftali Bennett, has resisted sitting in yet another Netanyahu government. But at the end of the day they probably would. But even that’s only 59 seats, two short of the bare minimum to form a government.

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Where Things Stand: Militias And Other Right-Wing Groups Get Particularly Worked Up About Red Flag Laws Prime Badge
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After back-to-back mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder in the past week, gun reform advocates are once again hoping to see an expansion of red flag laws, which allow authorities to confiscate guns from individuals deemed to be particularly dangerous. They’re one of the few gun control measures that some members of the pro-gun lobby will get behind due to their case-by-case enforcement.

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Trumpers Unbound Prime Badge

Here are some fascinating takeaways from a series of focus groups Democracy Corps conducted with Trump supporters and various varieties of conservatives. One notable thing is the difficulty they had recruiting volunteers. “It took a long time to recruit these groups because Trump voters seemed particularly distrustful of outsiders right now, wary of being victimized, and avoided revealing their true position until in a Zoom room with all Trump voters — then, they let it all out.”
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Memories of My Mother Prime Badge

Forty years ago today my mother died in a car wreck. I was twelve. And the trauma and repercussions of that night have echoed down through the subsequent forty years of my life. It is mystifying to me that it was so long ago. Yet in another way it might be centuries, it seems so distant and alien. From the perspective of today I see that it was just a brief prelude before my life, as I now understand it, really began.

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The Josh Marshall Podcast Ep. 165: A Racist Tempest In Tennessee

On this week’s pod, we talked about Democrats’ big pro-democracy bill, which faces long odds in the Senate without filibuster reform. Matt Shuham also joined us to go into his recent reporting on a GOP-led effort in Tennessee to preserve a bust of notorious KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest.

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Where Things Stand: Holding His Foot Soldiers Accountable Prime Badge
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CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 18:  on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicks off on July 18. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

We covered news yesterday that Fulton County prosecutors in Georgia are considering bringing “false statement” charges against Rudy Giuliani and some of Trump’s other close allies over their efforts to spread bogus claims about the 2020 election results in Georgia.

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Join Us Tonight

Tonight at 6:00 p.m. ET we’re hosting a TPM member event, “Will There Be Justice For Trump?” We’ll start with a panel discussion of the question with Jessica Levinson (clinical professor of law and director of Loyola Law School’s Public Service Institute), Mary McCord (acting assistant attorney general for National Security from 2016 to 2017 and the legal director at Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection), Tierney Sneed and me.

If you’re a member and haven’t registered yet, there’s an email in your inbox from a few days ago with registration info. If you’re not a member, become a member today and join us by registering at this link. 

How’s The Messaging Campaign Going? Prime Badge

I’ve mentioned several times in recent weeks that it is critical Democrats learn (yet another) lesson of the early Obama years. Good policy doesn’t make for good politics. Not by itself. You have to do the good policy and combine it with good politics. That means many things but the first is effectively telling and reminding voters what you did. With the recent COVID relief bill that means an on-going and robust process of messaging connecting elements of the bill with unfolding events over the next 18 months. You can’t wait until a few months before the election. It has to be consistent throughout. The administration may not be putting Joe Biden’s name on all the relief checks. But it’s essential to do something equivalent to that as vaccines rollout, checks hit people’s bank accounts and more.

With that in mind we did an Inside Briefing earlier this week with Guy Cecil, Chair of PrioritiesUSA, which is now the biggest Dem-affiliated outside group. Any such effort will inevitably fall largely on groups like Priorities. So I wanted to get an understanding of, is this happening? What’s the plan? I found the discussion really informative and helpful so this morning we’re sharing the briefing with all members. You can watch it after the jump.

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Make Campaign Finance Reform A Separate Bill Prime Badge

HR1/S1, the big democracy protection bill Democrats are trying to get through Congress this year, is an absolutely critical piece of legislation. It has three main components: 1) expanding and protecting access to voting 2) clamping down on partisan gerrymandering and 3) campaign finance reform. A portion of campaign finance reform creates a federal public financing system.
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Where Things Stand: Gun Lobby Suit Successfully Blocked Assault Weapon Ban In Boulder Earlier This Month Prime Badge
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And 10 days later: A mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado.

In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglass massacre in 2018, the city of Boulder passed landmark legislation banning the possession of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines within the municipality. The city law was challenged with aggressive legal action from gun-rights activists, including the Colorado State Shooting Association and the local chapter of the National Rifle Association.

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Another Month, Another Israeli Election Prime Badge

Both the politics and the existence of Israel have long been matters of great fascination and importance to me. But my interest, engagement, commitment has ebbed as the country’s politics have become not only more right wing but more consistently absurd over the last decade. The animating question of Israeli politics is no longer the Arab-Israeli conflict, questions of political economy or religion but overwhelmingly the question of one man: Benjamin Netanyahu. He entirely dominates what is called the ‘national camp’ and two or perhaps three of the country’s other parties are right wing parties which are founded around their principal’s personal disputes with Netanyahu. Every few months there’s another election. When Netanyahu wins he becomes Prime Minister. When Netanyahu loses he also becomes Prime Minister. Why pay attention?

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Where Things Stand: They Both Hyped Disinfo About A Stolen Election. Now They Might Be Senators Prime Badge
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Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) made speculation about his impending bid for retiring Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) seat official last night with a speech that not-so-subtly revealed that the “Big Lie” would be a crucial pillar of his campaign.

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Americans and the Culture of Kings Prime Badge
Queen Elizabeth II stands in the 18th Century Room at Buckingham Palace in front of a 1771 portrait by Johann Zoffany of George III, who was king for 59 years (1760-1820).   * This photograph is one of a Golden Jubilee portfolio of photographs being unveiled to mark the 50th anniversary of the Queen's accession. The 18th Century Room is part of the Belgian Suite, used by visiting VIPs at Buckingham Palace - the official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II. 31/05/02 Photographers including the Earl of Lichfield and the rock star Bryan Adams were gathering today to see their Golden Jubilee portraits of the Queen go on public display.Seven photographers were scheduled to attend the National Portrait Gallery n London ahead of a free exhibition to mark the monarch's 50 years on the throne.   (Photo by Fiona Hanson - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

My take on the British monarchy is one of general indifference. They’re quaint. They’ve inspired countless costume dramas I’ve enjoyed immensely. I even have some small element of nostalgia for them in the same way I do for dragons or jousting tournaments. But mostly I don’t care about them in any way. But I’ve been struck by the recent efflorescence of pro-monarchism on the American right, something that seems to flow in this particular case downstream from hostility to Meghan Markle, but is yet part of something larger. In the midst of the Markle drama, Trump immigration czar Stephen Miller hopped on to Twitter to defend the monarchy as a symbol of national service and praise the royals he met during President Trump’s state visit as “unfailingly gracious and deeply committed to preserving the traditions and heritage of the UK.” (emphasis added). A week later The National Review published An American Defense of Britain’s Constitutional Monarchy.

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Where Things Stand: Now Ted Cruz Is A Defender Of The Media Prime Badge
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Not really, of course.

Like his fellow GOPers’ efforts to raise awareness surrounding the humanitarian crisis at the border, Cruz’s newfound concern for media access is convenient, to say the least.

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Vaccine Battles Prime Badge

One of the oddities or ironies – I’m not sure quite what it is – of the COVID Pandemic is that the US and UK, which did so poorly managing the disease vs much of Europe, have done so much better vaccinating their populations. This shows up particularly for the UK which is mostly relying on the same AstraZeneca as the the EU. Now comes word that the EU may block exports of the vaccine and its constituent ingredients to the UK until the manufacturer meets its delivery obligations to the European Union. (Needless to say, some of the knock on consequences of Brexit.)

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Where Things Stand: Abortion Back On SCOTUS’ Mind Prime Badge
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on January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC.

It’s been a fear for pro-choice advocates for some time — one that grew when Trump was elected and only accelerated after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away late last year.

When will reproductive rights be back in front of the Supreme Court?

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Sinister AF Prime Badge

What’s really going on in Tennessee?

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Hints and Shadows Prime Badge

Yesterday Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) announced his support for abolishing or dramatically reforming the Senate filibuster. This comes after comments earlier this week from Joe Manchin in which he said he won’t budge from the Senate’s current 60 vote threshold for advancing legislation. That comes less than two weeks after Manchin expressed support for moving toward a so-called ‘talking filibuster’ and only a few more weeks after Manchin insisted he would support the filibuster no matter what and forever. Put this all together and at least on the surface you have a confusing mix of signals – often entirely contradictory – that makes it very hard to make sense of what is happening with the filibuster and thus whether there is any real chance of more legislation this year while Democrats have the slenderest hold on both the executive and the legislative branches of government.

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Josh Marshall Podcast Ep. 164: Biden His Time

On this week’s pod, we discuss the President coming out in support of filibuster reform and the former president giving a thumbs up to the COVID-19 vaccine. And yes, I’m wearing a stocking cap because fake spring has come and gone in NYC.

Follow us on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Past Is Not Past Prime Badge

Matt Shuham has all the details here. But the gist is this:

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Where Things Stand: Cohen To Meet With Vance — For The Eighth Time Prime Badge
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But this time, it’s a bit different.

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A Problem From Hell Prime Badge

You’ve probably seen news about the halt in vaccinations across much of Europe in the wake of questions about whether the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is the main one in Europe, might be associated with a rare clotting syndrome as a side effect. Here’s the most detailed account of the situation I’ve read, a piece by two top flight science/epidemiology journalists writing in Science.

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Where Things Stand: GOP Hints At Impeachment To Suggest Biden Must Finish Trump’s Wall Prime Badge
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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) been talking about impeachment since January 21, one day after inauguration.

Now, she’s not alone. Sort of.

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Democrats Should Avoid Overreaching on HR 1
CHARLESTON, SC - OCTOBER 30: People head to the voting booths to cast their in-person absentee ballots at Seacoast Church West Ashley on October 30, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

I’m second to no one in praising Joe Biden and the Democrats for passing the $1.9 trillion relief bill. But I have  doubts about a few other initiatives coming from Biden, the House Democrats, or both. One of these is HR 1, the For the People Act, passed by the House. I’m all for it, but it won’t pass the Senate, and the Democrats need to pass something that will repudiate Republican attempts at voter suppression.

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Will There Be Justice for Trump?

All members are invited to join us on Thursday, March 25, 2021, at 6:00 PM EST as Josh Marshall hosts a virtual panel discussion with some of our top legal sources. They’ll discuss whether Trump will be held to account for his attempt to overturn our democracy, and what it would look like if he is.

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Where Things Stand: Some House Members Are Reportedly Refusing To Get Vaccinated Prime Badge
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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 4: Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., is seen during a group photo with freshmen members of the House Republican Conference on the House steps of the Capitol on Monday, January 4, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As Josh Kovensky reported today, the rate of getting shots into people’s arms has dramatically ramped up since January thanks to a few key factors, including the arrival of federal funding for the roll out.

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What Happened to Trump? Prime Badge

The future is hard to predict because all of our perceptions are all shaped by the present that is always passing. But it’s not too soon to note that some of our assumptions about ex-President Trump’s post-presidency missed the mark. With the exception of his CPAC speech which was generally regarded as a flat, low-energy affair Trump has been almost entirely out of the spotlight. He did pick this fight over whether money should go to GOP party committees or only to him directly. But the follow through has been scattered and Sen. Rick Scott’s visit to Mar a Lago suggests it was mainly a push for attention.

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Where Things Stand: The GOP’s Gotta Worry About Greitens Again Prime Badge
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Gov. Eric Greitens delivers the keynote address at the St. Louis Area Police Chiefs Association 27th Annual Police Officer Memorial Prayer Breakfast on April 25, 2018, at the St. Charles Convention Center. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

He’s back. Maybe.

If you remember, TPM alum Allegra Kirkland covered the swift downfall of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) back in 2018, exclusively breaking a particularly disturbing detail of the story, which involved accusations of blackmail and an alleged assault: She reported that the former governor slapped the woman he had been accused of blackmailing over an extramarital affair.

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Why Did Trump Decide Not to Have a Plan to Vaccinate the Country? Prime Badge

As we noted in various articles over the last two days the Trump administration (albeit mainly career civil servants) deserve some credit for Operation Warp Speed, which backstopped the risk in private pharmaceutical companies of going all out in vaccine creation and production. But on the distribution front, their record was close to catastrophic. As Josh Kovensky and Kate Riga explain here, they literally had no plan to do anything. The “plan” was not to have a plan. The military would airlift the supplies to designated airports in each state and then it was up to the states.

So why did the administration at least do the basic blocking and tackling of federal support for vaccine development and drop the ball entirely on a plan to get the country vaccinated?

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