Josh Marshall

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

Don’t Worry: Good Decisions Like These Don’t Make the Court Any Less Corrupt Prime Badge
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There’s a wrongheaded tendency to think the Court isn’t quite as bad or corrupt when it hands down one of these “good” decisions as it did today in the domestic abusers gun case. Resist the urge. One of the many things I’ve learned from my podcast colleague Kate Riga in our many podcast discussions is that we get a lot of these cases lately because, in addition to taking many fewer cases in general, the Court is now basically open season for culture-war cases. Even in relative terms there are many fewer of the cases that are on some obscure dimension of the tax code or other important-but-to-most-people-obscure questions that don’t obviously line up with hot-button political issues.

This case was one of those cases on a few different levels. The fact that the plaintiff succeeded at the circuit court level is astonishing and scandalous in itself. But let’s start with some basics. The landmark Heller decision in 2008 did not uphold the kind of absolute 2nd Amendment “gun rights” advocates have long claimed. It was terrible, but it didn’t do that. What it did was for the first time find an individual right to own and possess firearms. Like all rights, any regulation of that must be justified by and balanced against some legitimate public interest or need.

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Getting Clinical (Adventures in the Affective Disordered World of ‘Democratic Strategists’) Prime Badge
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Yesterday I opened my inbox to an Axios email with the subject line: “Dems Fear Biden Loss.” Needless to say, versions of this story have become almost a stock piece of the 2024 campaign. And, look, I fear a Biden loss as well. He could totally lose and that would be really, really bad. But I got the sense that the import of this item was a bit more totalizing than that. And well … I was right. The item presents a picture of a campaign cocooned from outside input, intolerant of dissenters who aren’t confident of a win and largely the work of Biden and top advisor Mike Donilon, who is portrayed as having a strategy that is little more than a preciously naive hope that in the end voters will “do the right thing.”

But the heart of the piece comes at the top with a quote (emphasis added) from someone described as a “Democratic strategist in touch with the campaign.”

“It is unclear to many of us watching from the outside whether the president and his core team realize how dire the situation is right now, and whether they even have a plan to fix it. That is scary.”

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What’s With TPM?

Here’s a an interesting look at the history of TPM, and its origin story, from Rick Perlstein at The American Prospect. It’s not exactly my take, despite being based on an interview with me. But I found it very interesting and enlightening and you might too.

Good Enough?

If you haven’t been watching, the vibes were way, way off on the Bob Good race I discussed below. At the moment McGuire, the Trump fanboy stooge, is ahead but only by a few hundred votes. Everyone thought Good was toast. And he may still be toast. But he might survive.

9:58 PM: Since I wrote the above the lead has passed back and forth several times. Dave Wasserman says the remaining precincts give some slight advantage to Good but too close to make any confident predictions. This is nonstop popcorn. Two election denying freaks in a too close to call race in which the true may not be known for some time. Karma.

The Totally Hilarious Impending End of the Career of the Odious Bob Good Prime Badge
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As you know, there are primary elections in a few states tonight. Virginia is one of them. And there’s one race I wanted to highlight because it’s a sign of the times, of the Trump era. Bob Good is currently the chair of the Freedom Caucus. If you’re assuming that because he’s in the Freedom Caucus he’s awful, well … good call. Because he’s completely awful. It also looks like his political career is going to end tonight. And couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Because Bob Good is awful. The reason his career is coming to an end, though, goes back to his very bad decision to endorse Ron DeSantis. In other words, he crossed Trump, although in a pretty meager way. Once Trump was back in the driver’s seat he made very clear that while he was supporting DeSantis he’d obediently return to the Trump Train as soon as DeSantis officially bowed out.

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Readers Respond on Dignity Wraiths and Democracy #2

From TPM Reader ES

I totally agree with your last post’s insights. Trump’s theater of subservience is here to affirm and habituate people to the politics of authoritarianism.

I’d add two things: maybe you’ve read it back in the day, but one of the founding texts on the topic is La Boëtie’s “Discourse on Voluntary Servitude.” It’s from like 1570. He avoided it being published while he was alive because case in point. It’s short and marvelous and very tranchant. In it he notes that tyrants can only survive with the consent of those they rule over. As such they often try to coopt the elites into their courtiers, both to prevent challenges and to give the spectacle of adhesion to the populace. This was written under absolute monarchy. It’s still current. 

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Readers Respond on Dignity Wraiths and Democracy #1

From TPM Reader EA

You are totally correct that Trump’s style of dominance politics demands that everyone around him surrender their dignity. But it’s wrong to call him a strongman, because his demand is really a sign of his utter weakness. I have never seen a more psychically fragile, pathetic U.S. President, and doubt if there was ever a weaker one.

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We talk a lot, rightly, about how Democrats are often instinctively cautious about going on the political attack. I just got a mass-email press release from the Biden campaign that is part of their “felon” push and the jousting in the lead up to the debate. I don’t have anything particular to add beside, jeez, this is intense stuff, by which I mean not “intense” in the slangish mean of “good” but intense. Like totally going off. One needs to do this with a full spectrum approach, in press conferences, ads, surrogates etc. But if this press release is any measure, they’re not holding back.

Text after the jump … (links are the ones that came embedded in the email).

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Dignity Wraiths, Resilience and Democratic Character Prime Badge
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I’ve been reading through your emails about your favorite Editors’ Blog posts, and among the maybe dozen that are most often mentioned, there are three themes I wanted to highlight, because they each relate to a central dimension of our politics today.

The first is the post on “bitch-slap politics” which I wrote in 2004; I later began referring to the concept I described in it as “dominance politics”.

The second is the post I wrote the day after the 2016 presidential election about optimism as an ethic, a posture toward life rather than a set of predictions about the future. It was actually a post with a series of bullet-pointed observations. But that one bullet point — about optimism — resonated with people. A lot of you wrote in about it. And in recent years it’s probably the thing I hear about from people most.

I’ll return to those two topics in a moment.

The third theme is not really any individual post but a stream of posts and tweets over several years about “dignity loss” and “dignity wraiths” and like things, a whole bespoke vocabulary or a running gag about this pattern we’re all aware of in which Trump demands of people an ever escalating series of humiliations, dignity losses and more. Trump requires it — that part alone isn’t hard to understand. It’s that people give it … lavishly and fulsomely. Soon you’ve got some guy you may not have agreed with but seemed like a reasonably self-possessed adult, and they’re saying “thank you, sir, may I have another” each time Trump comes up with a new insult name for them, praising his far-reaching intellect and encyclopedic knowledge of history, clapping obediently on his approach. Trump somehow casts a spell over these people and soon they’re like a desiccated dignity husk. It’s like he’s a dignity black hole that no one can re-emerge from.

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Site Update

A quick update on our weekend site upgrade (see posts below). We’ve got the new system up and running. Thank you so much for your indulgence over the weekend. We really appreciate it. We’re still working to get the comments widget on the story pages back up and running. That should be up soon. Otherwise, on the reader end, everything should be back to the way it was and, under the hood, much better than it was.

Thanks again for your patience.

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