Editor’s Blog

“King, There Is Only One Thing Left For You To Do.”

The fact that the FBI sent Martin Luther King a letter demanding he kill himself or risk the release of recordings of his extra-marital assignations has been known for decades. But the complete and uncensored version of the letter only came to light three years ago. You can see it here. Yale historian Beverly Gage happened on the original version of the letter during research at the National Archives.

There is a lot contained in this letter. To put it mildly. Read More

False Alarm Terrifies and Terrorizes Hawaii

We still have no clear explanation, certainly no good explanation, other than that it was a false alarm. But just after 8 AM this morning in Hawaii residents received an emergency alert on television and mobile devices warning of an incoming missile attack on the state. It was explicitly alerted as “not a drill.” Again, it was a false alarm.  Read More

Trump’s Tirade is a Return of the Repressed in American Politics

I am of Trump’s generation, and I grew up with the sentiments that he expressed about Haiti and African countries. When I was a kid, one of the hit songs in 1948 was the Andrew Sisters’ “Civilization.” You can click here to listen to it. Here’s a stanza:

So bongo, bongo, bongo, I don’t wanna leave the Congo, oh no no no no no
Bingo, bangle, bungle, I’m so happy in the jungle, I refuse to go
Don’t want no jailhouse, shotgun, fish-hooks, golf clubs, I got my spears
So, no matter how they coax him, I’ll stay right here.

So to many people of, say, sixty years or over, what Trump said resonated. It was all very familiar. So what? you might ask.

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A Lot of Must Watch Video These Days

This is what Martin Luther King, Jr’s nephew said about President Trump after appearing with him at a White House even honoring Dr. King.

“I don’t think he’s a racist in the traditional sense.”

Thoughts on Shithole and Racist Xenophobia At the Heart of Trumpism
on January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Let me take a moment to speak up for the word “shithole” which is seeing its reputation damaged by association with Donald Trump. We went to this dive bar. It was a total shithole. That town? Total shithole, never want to go there again. It’s a dump. Closer to President Trump’s ugly usage, Trump wouldn’t be the only American to call a poor or underdeveloped country a shithole. That’s not okay. But my point here is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with the word – nothing more than any other not for polite conversation swear word. And even this ugly usage doesn’t capture the essence of Trump’s meaning.  The context and import of President Trump’s remarks are not simply that the countries are “shitholes.” It’s much more than that. It’s that we don’t want people from those countries because the awfulness of the countries attaches to the people themselves. Speaking of whole classes of people, specifically people of color, as basically garbage – is not only disgusting but entirely of a piece with the campaign President Trump ran in 2016 and the policies he is implementing as President today. Read More

How Often Does This Happen?

Here’s one thing that occurs to me. When I first heard about the “shithole” meeting at the White House I thought it was a bipartisan meeting. Technically it was. But my understanding now is that there was only one Democrat there: Dick Durbin (D-IL). He went there with Lindsey Graham. But there were a handful of other Republican senators already there. Would we have ever heard about this if a Democrat hadn’t been in the room?

Our Calendar for Jan. 12, 2018

Good morning and happy Friday. Both the House and Senate will meet only briefly today for pro-forma sessions. Here’s what’s on TPM editors’ radar today. 

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This Is Must Watch

Please take a moment to watch this video. It’s remarkable and important. The words themselves are not terribly surprising. They’re really undeniable. But reporters on network or cable network TV simply do not talk this way. They don’t cut this close to the reality of situation.

It’s CNN’s Jim Acosta. The video is after the jump. Watch. It’s important and remarkable. Read More

I Am The State

According to the President, federal law enforcement officers criticizing him on government phone and text devices amounts to ‘treason’. Read More

Fox News Tricks President Into Opposing His Own Bill

This morning the President got confused by a Fox news segment and lashed out at his own FISA reauthorization bill on Twitter.

Here’s a White House statement from last night, opposing an amendment that would restrict intelligence surveillance under FISA. Read More

Interesting Times in Missouri

As you can see there’s quite a lot going on in Missouri politics this morning. Here’s our first report on the story from overnight. We’re following this one closely. More to come.

Our Calendar for Jan. 11, 2017

Good morning. Here’s what’s on TPM’s editors’ radar today.

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Missouri Gov In Lots of Hot Water

It sounds like Missouri may end up with a new Governor.

Goodbye, Darrell Issa

With Rep. Darrell Issa, a prolific investigator of the Obama administration, on his way out the door, we take a look back at a few of his greatest hits (Prime access).

Must Read Story, Critical Issue

This is a must-read story on a critical topic we plan on following for the duration. The big line separating rule-of-law democracies from broken democracies and post-democratic strong man government is law enforcement becoming a weapon in the hands of the government rather than a more or less disinterested government function the government oversees. President Trump has repeatedly demanded the former kind of system. Now we have evidence he’s starting to get it. Here’s our story.

Have you heard about things that aren’t public yet? Do you have a story? We want to know. Contact us.

Trump Rages; Grassley Responds

Interesting exchange here. President Trump just went on Twitter and demanded Republicans “take control” of the Hill Russia investigations. For the moment, Chuck Grassley isn’t playing ball. If past is prologue, I wouldn’t assume Grassley’s resistance lasts long. Read More

Bob Dylan and The Cross

You don’t know it. But Bob Dylan’s “Christian period” albums are his most underrated and among his best. In case you missed it, here’s my look at and review of the new retrospective release (Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981) from this period.

Our Calendar for Jan. 10, 2018

Good morning. Here’s our daily calendar letting you know what TPM is up to. Congress is in session today and legislators will be holding a number of meetings with the press on the Hill. Here’s what else our editors have their eyes on.

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The Only News Out of The Simpson Testimony is Republican Disgrace

Over the course of the day I’ve been listening to news reports which say that the Fusion GPS testimony from co-owner Glenn Simpson belies the received narrative about the Steele dossier, or at least that argued by Republicans and Trump supporters. As Jake Tapper put it when speaking with CNN’s Jim Acosta today, Simpson’s account “contradicts president Trump and his supporters who argue that the dossier was a purely political document paid for by Democrats trying to hurt Trump.” Really though this is a testament to the power of disinformation when it is empowered by one of the country’s two political parties. Let’s put this more simply: this is a testament to what can happen when the GOP unites behind a campaign of willful disinformation at the country’s expense. Read More

Key Takeaways

Some key takeaways from today’s Fusion GPS testimony release.

Are there others you saw? Let us know at our comments email address linked under the logo.

Breitbart Cans Bannon

Sometimes when a mob boss kills someone who betrayed him he’ll leave the body out in the town square for hours or days, a mix of final humiliation and example to others. Also, Breitbart just fired Steve Bannon.

Thoughts on the Greatness of Ulysses S. Grant
Photograph of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) shown wearing a military uniform and posing for a portrait. He served in the U.S. Civil War at various levels of military command. Grant was promoted to lieutenant general in 1864 and given command of all Union armies. He was eighteenth president of the United States, elected in 1868 and reelected in 1872.

With a new biography of Ulysses S. Grant out by the man who helped put Alexander Hamilton back in the center of 21st American popular culture, I’m late to the game to sing Grant’s praises. I have not read Chernow’s book. But I have been rereading Grant’s memoirs. I began writing this post at the end of last year when the valorization of Confederate military leaders was more at the center of our public debate. But these are issues of long standing, going on two centuries. They remain as present and consequential as they’ve ever been and Grant is at the center of that.

Until relatively recently Grant, at least as President, had a poor historical reputation. His strengths as a military leader were also overshadowed in the popular imagination by Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee and others. But in both cases, much of Grant’s dim reputation was directly tied to the way national unity was built in the late 19th century on the abandonment of the country’s newly freed African-American citizens and what we might call the Union theory of the war itself. I have always found it notable that the official records of what we call the Civil War, published by the US government are entitled The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. Read More

Editor’s Brief

This data point didn’t make it into Tierney Sneed’s new story on the Ohio voting rights case before the Supreme Court Wednesday. But it’s pretty telling (Prime access).

Our Calendar for Jan. 9, 2018

Good morning. As Josh has mentioned, one of our goals for this year is to give more guidance into how TPM works, what we’re working on on a given day, what events we’re focused on and why. In that vein, we’ll be publishing calendars on busy days — and eventually every day — showing which events our reporters and editors have their eyes on, where we have reporters deployed, what stories we’re working on and what we’re expecting over the course of the day. Here’s the first. Read More

Voter Suppression Story of the Day

After voter suppression forces failed out with their ‘fraud’ commission, the Supreme Court may give them a better shot at advancing their goals. Check out our story.

Not As Dead As He Looks

A few thoughts on the Trump/Bannon (Prime access) war and why Bannon may not be as done as we think.

All Part of the Same Story

Interesting thoughts here from Zack Roth (Prime access) on the anti-democratic authoritarianism of today’s GOP right and how the issues involved in the Trump/Russia probe and various strategies of voter suppression both stem from the same ideological source.

White House: Bannon Attacked Ivanka and Jr’s “Sacrificing” On Behalf of Nation

Rush pool report on comments from Trump press aide Hogan Gidley aboard Air Force One on whether there’s any redemption possible for Bannon. Most notable is reference to Ivanka’s and Don Jr’s ‘sacrifice’ in serving their nation. To criticize “two of the president’s children are serving this nation, sacrificing in their service, it is repugnant, it is grotesque.” More quotes after the jump … Read More