Josh Marshall

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

Rep. Peltola’s Husband Dies in Plane Crash

Freshman Rep. Mary Peltola’s husband Eugene died this morning in a plane crash in Alaska. He was the only pilot and there were no passengers. He was 57.

Any premature death is tragic. But it is hard to overstate how many Alaska politicians and their spouses have died in plane accidents. And that’s just a particular window into the dangers of air transportation in the state. Peltola was elected after the death of long serving Rep. Don Young (R). Young was elected after his predecessor, Rep. Nick Begich (D) died in a plane crash in 1972. Also killed in that crash was then-House Majority Leader Hale Boggs. In fact, while “crash” is basically certain neither the plane nor any of its four occupants were ever found, even after one of the biggest searches in US history.

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The Benefits of Lying – with a Compliant Press

We have a new Quinnipiac poll out today. No big surprises. About where the rest of recent polls have been: Biden 47%, Trump 46%. But it’s this paragraph down in the poll release that has my attention.

Half of voters think Joe Biden was involved in Hunter Biden’s business dealings with China and Ukraine, while 40 percent think Joe Biden was not involved. Thirty-five percent of voters believe Joe Biden was involved and did something illegal, while 13 percent believe he was involved and did something unethical but nothing illegal, 1 percent believe he was involved but he did not do anything wrong, 11 percent did not offer an opinion, and 40 percent of voters believe Joe Biden was not involved.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Republicans have produced no evidence whatsoever to show that President Biden was involved in any of his son’s business dealings and there’s quite a bit of contrary evidence. But by simply repeating the accusations often enough it shapes public opinion in clear and damaging ways.

We know this but it never stops being worth noting it.

Get Real and Get Focused

Back on July 28th I wrote about Eliot Cohen’s piece in The Atlantic arguing Biden should step aside and let another Democrat be the nominee for 2024. That Cohen piece seems to have become almost a genre in itself, a set piece even down to the same outline making the same point. David Ignatius wrote almost the identical piece last night in the Post.

It’s become a latter-day wise man formula: Biden has done a great job. He had a historic achievement in stopping Trump in 2020. But now because he’s so old he could squander that achievement by losing to Trump. So he should bow out and let someone else run.

Since it’s basically the identical piece, albeit brisker and to the point, you can see my take from July. But I wanted to note one addition Ignatius makes to the argument. While first suggesting the absurd idea that Biden should soft-heave-ho Kamala Harris and “encourage a more open vice-presidential selection process” he has a realization: “breaking up the ticket would be a free-for-all that could alienate Black women, a key constituency. Biden might end up more vulnerable.”

Ya think?

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The Pret-a-Porter Warzone

I have been so pleased by the way TPM Readers have allowed me to expand on the complexities of the Musk/Ukraine/Starlink question. As TPM Reader JS explains, it’s actually not true that the US military doesn’t need Starlink or isn’t using it. It’s true that the US military has a whole system of secure satellite communications. The US wouldn’t have found itself in the situation the Ukrainian military did when Musk blocked the use of his satellites over the Crimean coastline. But that’s not the whole story.

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Faced with what looks like a near certainty that a newly liberal-controlled state Supreme Court will toss out their notorious 2011 gerrymander, Wisconsin Republicans have threatened to impeach and remove newly elected Justice Janet Protasiewicz before she even rules on her first case. But today Republican leaders in the state House and Senate came forward with a new plan to workaround the lawsuits and controversies over the 2011 gerrymander and adopt new maps created by at least nominally nonpartisan staff.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who’d have to sign the new bill, quickly shot down the whole idea. “Republicans are making a last-ditch effort to retain legislative control by having someone Legislature-picked and Legislature-approved draw Wisconsin’s maps,” said Evers. “That is bogus.”

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Punchbowling Very Strongly

Predictably, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), trying to avoid a shutdown and hold on to his gavel, has now endorsed an impeachment inquiry against President Biden. But I wanted to flag how the inside D.C. sheets manage to carry water for House Republicans even when they are notionally highlighting the oddity of a full blown impeachment inquiry based on literally nothing.

Note this graf in a morning newsletter from Punchbowl…

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The End of the Pro-Life Movement

I want to return to the topic Nicole LaFond wrote about in yesterday’s column. Senate Republicans spent the day last week getting a detailed polling brief explaining (and searching for a solution to) how it is the public got the idea that “pro-life” politicians want to ban abortion. Who is responsible for this terrible misunderstanding?

I hesitate to use the term “gaslighting” because it’s become so ubiquitous and overused in our culture. Even that phrase doesn’t quite capture it, a shift that is somehow both instant and glacial — a kind of policy moonwalk in which the evacuees are so stunned and disoriented it’s not always clear whether they’re fooling their marks or themselves. It now seems clear that the only thing that will be at all memorable about the GOP’s first presidential debate of the 2024 cycle on August 23rd will be that brief speech from Mike Pence in which he staked his campaign on his bible-rooted, evangelical, pro-life record and endorsed a 15-week national ban.

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What’s Unique About Ukraine and Starlink

I was pleased to get this email from TPM Reader PT because they hit on a critical part of the Ukraine, Musk, Starlink story. It’s also a key reason why — as we discussed in the previous post — why the Pentagon was a bit slow to grasp the complexities of the situation. The U.S. (and our treaty allies) don’t need Starlink. We have constellations of satellites with secure communications networks for our own military needs. The world’s other major powers do too. But Ukraine isn’t a major military power. So it’s relying on what’s meant to be a civilian network.

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More on Musk, Starlink and Ukraine

I wanted to share this email from TPM Reader VN. It picks up where we left off talking about Elon Musk, Ukraine and the rise of the state-like global oligarchs. VN’s email may read like a criticism or a rejoinder of my earlier points. But as we discussed in our subsequent correspondence, I basically agree with the points they make.

Musk’s behavior has been atrocious. But he shouldn’t have been allowed to be in that position in the first place. That’s on the Pentagon and the U.S. government more generally. In the first rush of enthusiasm and support for Ukraine, Musk shipped a bunch of free Starlink devices to Ukraine and agreed to cover the cost of the service. Later when he cooled on Ukraine he started threatening to shut the service off if the Pentagon didn’t pick up the tab. That’s standard mercurial behavior from Musk. But of course the Pentagon and more broadly the U.S. should be picking up the tab. Much as I loathe the person Musk has turned out to be, I remember thinking at the time, how can this even be a question? Of course they should pick up the tab. The idea that we’d leave it to the whim of someone like Musk to be covering the cost of mission-critical technology for an ally at war is crazy. The back and forth over the cost got sufficiently messy that it has always been unclear to me whether there wasn’t something more to the argument. But, again, of course the U.S. should pay for it — at least once it was clear how critical it would be to the Ukrainian war effort.

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Annals of Beltwayism

As I was perusing the news of the day last night I was reminded of just how bad a lot of political reporting is. And not generally bad but bad in the sense of recycled D.C. conventional wisdom which is itself largely the product of reporters who take their cue from Republican messaging gurus. Our example this morning comes from Josh Kraushaar, late of National Journal, now with Axios.

The topic is “Biden’s broken bully pulpit,” or rather that’s the title. The topic is Biden’s feeble poll numbers. That in itself is true enough. Biden’s public approval has been mired in the low 40% since the summer of 2021. Polls also show that voters are concerned about Biden’s age. But the topic of this update is that even as things get better it doesn’t matter because being super bold prevents Biden from convincing anyone of anything.

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