Josh Marshall

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

Understanding ‘Mass Shootings’

Following up on my post from Thursday, I wanted to address a definitional question about what constitutes a mass shooting. This may seem rather technical, picayune in contrast to the horror. But it’s an important point both for understanding the statistics we see and acting to change things.

We often hear statistics about “mass shootings” in the United States. But those aren’t really what most of us think of as mass shootings. Most news and policy organizations use an FBI-derived statistic which looks at firearms incidents in which four or more people are shot, regardless of the severity of the injuries. That can include stick-ups gone wrong, family disputes, gang hits, everything under the sun.

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Fox News screen capture A Wingnut Anti-Migrant Story Implodes – But Is This the Full Story?

I’m feeling exhausted after a long week and you probably are too. But I want to put something on your radar. Because there’s something more going on here. A week ago the New York Post went to town with a made-for-Fox News story of a group of veterans who had been booted out of hotels about an hour north of New York City to make way for migrants. As I said, it was a made-for-Fox News: Here are these disabled or impoverished American veterans getting kicked to the curb to make way for migrants with no permission to be in the country in the first place. Politicians jumped on the story. The Post ran it. It made the rounds of the wingnutosphere. Fox of course got on board.

But none of it was true. And I don’t just mean not true in the sense of being misleading or incomplete or embellished or sensationalized. It was a hoax. Sharon Toney-Finch, the founder and head of a small local nonprofit, the YIT Foundation, which focuses on veterans issue and premature births (?) was the source of the original story. But it turns out the she recruited a group of 15 homeless men from a local shelter to impersonate veterans and talk to the press about their tale of woe.

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A ‘Pause’: The Freedom Caucus Yanks Kev’s Leash. What Next?

Quite a few of you have written in to ask me: Is it possible the White House was negotiating with the knowledge that McCarthy would be forced to make unreasonable demands, thus leading House GOPs to close the door on negotiations? In other words, were they negotiating with the knowledge they’d get credit for coming to the table and having the Republicans walk away?

It’s possible?

Normally I have a pretty intuitive sense of political tussles. In this case, I don’t. It’s not clear to me what’s happening, what will happen and to what extent the different players even have a plan. On the hypothetical above: I doubt the White House would enter into negotiations with the expectation and hope that they would fail. More likely it would be that they decided to sound out the possibility of a reasonable deal with the knowledge that Republicans were likely to blow up the negotiations on their own. In that case they get back the reasonableness/adult in the room cred from the D.C. powers that be at little cost.


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Rethinking Gun Policy Literalism

Yesterday I noticed this Axios poll which found that gun violence has soared past opioids and fentanyl as the country’s biggest public health concern. There are some caveats to this data point. It’s jumped from 17% of respondents calling it the greatest threat to 26%. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a jump since February. So this may be a blip more than a trend, though there is polling evidence suggesting a more sustained trend. But in line with yesterday’s discussion of trends bubbling under the national political conversation, this data point got me thinking about the politics of gun control itself (and, yes, I’m using the old fashioned “gun control” phrasing intentionally).

These new polls aren’t polls testing assault rifle bans or background checks. They focus more on threats to public health, whether mass shooting massacres are preventable and more. It’s worth considering whether we must rethink the politics of guns as a matter of public advocacy.

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DeSantis Campaign Launch Gut Check

I usually talk about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his presidential quest in a comedic tone. But with numerous public reports that he is formally launching his presidential quest next week I wanted to shift registers and take stock of his incipient campaign.

As I’ve written before in other contexts, the most lethal danger for any politician is to become an object of humor, ridicule and contempt. A candidate can survive more easily with a reputation for being evil (see Trump) than being ridiculous. DeSantis is hovering right on the edge of the latter category if he’s not already there. He has also — largely through his own actions — created a bipartisan cast of public characters eager to keep him there.

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Leading Edge

Fascist curious GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has an idea for addressing GOP challenges with young voters that is likely to catch on with other Republicans: don’t let them vote. I had missed this when he first mentioned it a week ago. But Ramaswamy proposed barring people under the age of 25 from voting unless they serve in the military or are a first responder. He might also allow it if they passed a citizenship test like the one given to new citizens.

Motto: I Was Told This Was a Sure Thing
Under the Radar

With so much high drama and stark danger in the headlines, I wanted to focus your attention on something different, and arguably much more important. This has been underway for months. But now it’s managed to break into the pages of insider sheets like Axios, which is a news event in itself. The quick and short of it: Democrats continue to over-perform in election after election.

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Sen. Josh Hawley says that if he were Joe Biden he consider simply ignoring the debt limit. “Because I would just be like, ‘Listen, I’m not gonna let us default. So end of story. Y’all will do whatever you want to do.’ But I’m not necessarily giving him that advice. It’s against my interest.”

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The Big Picture

One other point on Trump/Russia as we put the sad tale of the “Durham Report” to bed.

The Russian government intervened in the 2016 presidential election to assist Donald Trump. The Trump campaign was repeatedly informed of this assistance, welcomed it, asked for more of it and took numerous affirmative steps to profit from the assistance. While we can never know with certainty, given the closeness of the election there is every reason to believe that that assistance provided Trump with the margin of victory to become President. The fruits of that subversion campaign dominated much of the final months of the election.

Given the narrow bounds of the subsequent investigation, there is almost certainly much more we still don’t know about the cooperation between the two sides. But in any normal universe the proven facts alone would have fatally discredited Trump’s presidency and led to his forced resignation or removal from office.

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