Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

FBI raids offices of Michael Cohen. This seems not to be directly tied to the Mueller probe but things Mueller’s team unearthed during their investigation. More to come.

Over the weekend, there was a flurry of attention when Donald Trump for the first time criticized and even arguably threatened Vladimir Putin by name. “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price… ….to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!” This is a notable change or line to have crossed. But let me throw some cold water on any sense that this is necessarily a good thing.

Going back almost two years I’ve heavily associated myself with the Trump/Russia story. You might say I’m a big Trump/Russia hawk. But I’m not a Russia hawk. And I’ve tried to make the point that one doesn’t imply the other, nor should it. This is a good example of that. Since Trump was elected, my greatest concern about Trump’s mysterious subservience to Putin wasn’t that he’d sell out the US. It was that his mix of subservience and Putin’s provocative behavior would lead to some series of miscommunications or escalations with disastrous results.

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Notable moment in President Trump’s remarks a few moments ago. If China enacts tariffs that harm US farmers, they’ll understand, he said. Because they’re “patriots.”

“When we do a deal with China – which probably we will, if we don’t they’ll have to pay pretty high taxes to do business with our country. That’s a possibility. But if we do a deal with China, if during the course of a negotiation they want to hit the farmers, because they think that hits me, I wouldn’t say that’s nice, but I tell you, our farmers are great patriots. These are great patriots. They understand that they’re doing this for the country. And we’ll make it up to them. In the end they’re going to be much stronger than they are right now.”

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Some points, which are simple but critical, get overwhelmed by rhetoric and lies. Nowhere is this truer than in the Trump Era immigration debate. To listen to the White House, virtually the entire question is one of domestic crime, gangs, and national security. That applies to border security, control over the Southern border, and monitoring of immigrants (legal or otherwise) within the United States.

There are many good or reasonable reasons for a country to control the process of immigration into its borders. Mainly those are economic – both the possible positive and negative consequences of immigration at different levels. But by and large, there is really no evidence that permissive or restrictive immigration policies have any effect on criminal activity within the United States at all. Indeed, what evidence we have suggests that immigrants and first-generation Americans are less apt to commit crimes than native-born citizens whose history in the country stretches back generations.

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This afternoon I saw a friend on Twitter say that he doesn’t buy the idea that if people just paid Facebook some sort of fee the data and privacy issue would go away. Because he subscribes to the Times, the Post and the WSJ and they each track his readership habits and sell that data to advertisers or make it available to them for targeting. This is at least partly true – I’ll discuss the ins and outs of that point in a moment. But this is a good opportunity to discuss the real relationship between publishers and big data. It’s actually very different than it looks.

First, what my friend says is true. These publications are all in the data collection and sale business. Indeed, TPM is too – not directly at all but because of the ad networks (like Google and others) we have no choice but to work with. The key on the main claim is that the issue is one of diversity of revenue streams. Each of those big publications mentioned has at least three big revenue sources that are relevant to this conversation. They have premium advertisers for which the kind of data we’re talking about has limited importance. They also have subscriptions. The final bucket is made up of advertising that is heavily reliant on data and targeting.

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666 5th Avenue is the debt albatross hanging around the neck of the Kushner family and threatening to tumble them into bankruptcy next year. They co-own it with a big real estate trust, Vornado. They are apparently buying Vornado out. That means doubling down on the property that is drowning them. Where exactly are they getting the money to do this?