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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

A number of times over recent weeks I’ve had people write in and ask me who they should contribute money to for the 2018 midterm. In most cases, it’s not really a matter of particular candidates but both a bigger and smaller picture: Should I be contributing to particular candidates? The party committees (DCCC, DSCC, DNC, etc.)? The state parties? Various activist groups who in turn support candidates either directly or indirectly. All of these channels of funding play a critical role in a complex ecosystem of funding. But just where can you have the most effect?

This refocused my attention on a project that I put a lot of time into planning and then discarded late last year. The idea was a new publication that would be entirely dedicated to answering this question: where to put your money if you want to elect Democrats. Period. In this case, I mean this in the broadest sense. You may be focused solely on electing as many Democrats as possible. Or maybe you want to shift the Democratic party to the left or a more social democratic direction. Or perhaps your focus is global warming or unions or making the Democratic party look more like it’s voting base or a slew of other issues, which is disproportionately made up of ethnic minorities and women. Whatever your goal – and most people probably have some mix of these goals – if you want to help fund campaigns you still have the same basic need for information about where – quite apart from individual candidates or ideology – your money can have the greatest impact.

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I mentioned yesterday the practice of Cambridge Analytica to field test tools and strategies in the developing world which they could not in North America and Europe because of more robust privacy protections, legal and otherwise, as well as a more robust free press. I’ve done some more digging on this front which has confirmed my assumption, particularly with regards to Facebook, which appears to uniquely exploit this path for experimentation.

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One of the most telling and interesting threads of the Cambridge Analytica story is something that gets mentioned in most of the big pieces but is seldom a focus of attention. Most of the algorthms, techniques and strategies the company eventually deployed against the UK and the US were first used for elections operations in developing countries, what we once called the Third World. The reason is key: these countries had far less legal and technical infrastructure to defend themselves against these kinds of attacks. It was basically anything goes. And if someone got upset it didn’t matter all that much since these countries are off the main arteries of global news flows and have little capacity to uncover or hold to account a shadowy British company which is actually a subsidiary of a company wedded to the British defense establishment.

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A week of escalating news out of the Mueller probe is colliding with President Trump’s increasingly rapid moves to spark trade wars in Asia and Europe and most importantly with a foreign policy shake up the results of which very seriously threaten hot wars in both Korea and Iran. As James Fallows put it, the President’s new top advisors on the economy and national security mark a move from people who are at least plausible top appointees in their fields of expertise to true Fox News rule.

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I have thought for some time that Facebook is essentially a bad actor in the tech and platform spaces. There aren’t good companies and bad companies of course. All the tech behemoths play in the space that has now landed Facebook in so much trouble. In some ways, Google does even more, certainly when it comes to collecting, mining and monetizing almost limitless amounts of personal information, largely for the purposes of targeting advertising. But Facebook has again and again shown a more nefarious side – it shows up in the indifferent manner in which they deal with people’s personal information. It shows up in the very different realm of how they deal with business partners – creating whole business ecosystems and then pulling the rug from under them when it suits their purposes. There are lots of problems with Google, which I’ve discussed. But they don’t act like that. Not like Facebook.

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This is a unique and unorthodox post going out to a single reader, Barbara A., who’s written a number of emails over the last few weeks about the podcast and now the Editors’ Blog. Barbara, you’re writing from a dead or misconfigured email address. So all my replies bounce back. (Seems to be a misconfigured MS outlook app. TMI, I know.)

I try to respond personally to as many emails as I can, though inevitably a small minority of the emails we now get. But for everyone please be sure you’re writing from an email which is properly configured with a reply address. In some cases the issue may be a disconnect between your app and clicking one of our email links. In that case, type in our email manually: talk (at) talkingpointsmemo dot com.

I’m going to be away for a week. We prerecorded the latest episode of The Josh Marshall show. That will drop on Tuesday. You’re in good hands. Sign up for Prime if you haven’t already. Be excellent to each other.

Lot of stuff in this interview from earlier this afternoon with Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti. He tells us more about threats of physical violence that have been used to keep her silent, other “Trump surrogates” who’ve been involved in leveling those threats and spreading false information about Stormy. We also get into Michael Cohen’s tactics, his history of strong-arm tactics and more. Listen here on the site or on iTunes or Google Play. This is a Josh Marshall Podcast Extra. Listen and remember to subscribe. It helps us no end if you subscribe on iTunes or Google Play.

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