Josh Marshall

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

Remember Perla? Prime Badge

Remember Perla Huerta? She was “Perla,” the head recruiter in San Antonio, Texas for that DeSantis migrant hoodwinking operation back in September that ended with 50 migrants stranded on Martha’s Vineyard. She, along with DeSantis’s chief of staff, James Uthmeier, and his “pubic safety czar,” Larry Keefe, have had their names added to a federal class action lawsuit which alleges that they and others tricked the migrants into getting on that plane.

DeSantis himself gets top billing. You can see the amended complaint here.

For many this story seems like old news, yet another in the endless stream of outrages or scandals which hold the stage for a few days or weeks only to be replaced by another in endless rotation. It also doesn’t seem like a problem for DeSantis since his target audience is voters who want to stick it to immigrants and the triggered libs who hypocritically come to their defense. After all, he just cruised to a landslide reelection victory, right? But I don’t think either assumption is true. Never did.

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The Great Pearl Clutching

TPM Reader JS’s note is very much internal to the world of American Judaism, discussions of Zionism in the context of American politics. If you’re not Jewish, a few of the references may be obscure. (The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is a century-old organization once led by Louis Brandeis which for the last thirty years has been owned and controlled by one guy, Morton Klein, who basically uses it as a cudgel for right-wing politics in the U.S.) But the general points should be familiar and they’re correct. A lot of folks have suddenly found out Trump might be a bad guy just as the stink of a loser is all over him.

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I’m Not Seeing It Prime Badge

I’m seeing headlines from all the insider newsletters announcing an “avalanche” of criticism of ex-President Trump over the West-Fuentes hoedown at Mar-a-Lago. But somehow I’m not quite seeing it. There does seem to be some mild uptick or rather a continuation of criticism from Republican senators. But they tend to be what remains or are now called middle-of-the-road Republicans — Romney, Moore Capito, Kennedy. I see mean names. Marco Rubio called him an “ass clown.” But the “him” was Nick Fuentes, not Trump. The strongest rebuke appears to be coming from Mike Pence, who has called on Trump to apologize for the meeting, something which in the Trump universe is almost like telling someone to jump off a bridge. But again, it’s Mike Pence.

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The True Nodes of Power Prime Badge

The ongoing drama at Twitter — along with all the antic heat — has also helpfully illustrated where key power points in our society and economy really reside. Because Twitter is now a private company — no market reactions to worry about — and has no board, Elon Musk can, at least in the short run, do pretty much anything he likes. That’s part of the drama and craziness of the moment. Yoel Roth is the former head of safety at Twitter. He held on for the first few weeks before eventually resigning. Afterwards he wrote an op-ed about the situation in the Times. It’s a very interesting piece, filled with more information than indignation. It’s worth reading. But one thing he noted had gotten very little attention so far in the coverage of the Musk-Twitter story. Twitter is deeply reliant on access to the Apple and Android (owned by Google) app stores.

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Silenced Prime Badge

Here are some revealing comments from Rep. James Comer (R-KY), a big player in the incoming GOP House majority, on resistance to Kevin McCarthy. Note specifically the references to Ryan and Beohner. As we’ve discussed, post-midterm Washington conventional wisdom is that Trumpism is toxic at the ballot box and Republicans are looking for a new leader. But the argument from House Republicans is that the problem for McCarthy is that pro-Trump/Freedom caucus voices have been, are being silenced.

Here’s Comer, a McCarthy supporter, explaining continued resistance to McCarthy’s elevation to Speaker.

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Trump’s Rough Week and the ‘Press Bias Avoidance’ Framework Prime Badge

Yesterday morning TPM Reader MS asked, “Is it my imagination or has the press turned against Trump?” It may seem that way and perhaps it is effectively the case. But not precisely. What’s happened over the last week — and especially in response to the Kanye/Fuentes/Trump hoedown — illustrates a key feature of the political journalism and news ecosystems.

No, it’s not that the press has turned against Trump. It’s that Republican political elites are not defending him. That changes the tenor of press coverage in clear and immediate ways. If one party is defending something or supporting it, it trips off the framework of “bias” or rather what we might call “press bias avoidance.” So such and such happened or so and so did this. Many say it’s bad. But what do their defenders say? Their defenders say X. It’s a story with two sides. Events like the January 6th insurrection and the Big Lie have put this model under strain. But it’s persistent and robust.

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Elon Musk and the Narcissism/Radicalization Maelstrom Prime Badge

It’s a fascinating thing to watch far-right radicalization unfold in real time. I’ve been watching the Elon Musk and Twitter drama with a mix of fascination and awe. He bought Twitter as part of his romance with the “free speech”/anti-“cancel culture” right and Donald Trump. Just what set him off on that path has never been adequately or convincingly explained, though there are a number of very plausible and not-mutually exclusive theories. Over the last four weeks Musk’s attachment to this crowd and that ideology have been constantly apparent. He gave an early and even for him startling taste of this when he tweeted out a rank gay-bashing conspiracy theory about the QAnon dead-ender’s hammer attack on Paul Pelosi days before the November 8th election. The process has only accelerated and intensified over the subsequent four weeks.

As he virtually high-fives supporters on Twitter he’s moved on from “free speech” and ending bans on people like Donald Trump to a much more explicit insistence that old Twitter management ran the site with the express purpose of elevating the left over the right. So just two days ago, for instance, he wrote: “Far left San Francisco/Berkeley views have been propagated to the world via Twitter. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone watching closely. Twitter is moving rapidly to establish an even playing field. No more thumb on the scale!”

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An Incumbent Election? Prime Badge

I wanted to share TPM Reader JB’s take on the November 8th election, even though it’s not mine. As is so often the case, what can be valuable about a take isn’t whether it’s “right” or you agree with it, but whether it allows you to see a set of facts in a new way.

Here’s JB’s view followed by a short rejoinder with my own …

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Watch Kevin Sing, Dance, Tap … Prime Badge

Interesting little detail here. Back in October when Kevin McCarthy thought he’d be presiding over a big House majority he said he had yet to see any impeachable offenses committed under the Biden administration. Now the Freedom Caucusers, who hold his fate in their hands, are holding that statement over him. As CNN reporter Melanie Zanona puts it, McCarthy’s now singing a different tune. Indeed, he’ll sing, dance, do a slapstick number. McCarthy is now begging to be Speaker. I’m with Rep. Dusty Johnson (R) of South Dakota when he tells CNN that even though it’s really not clear how McCarthy pulls this off, somehow they figure he gets it done. I agree.

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Alaska Rep Peltola Wins Reelection

It was expected but now it’s official. Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) who was elected to Congress earlier this year in a special election to replace the late Rep. Don Young (R) has defeated former half-term governor Sarah Palin by the solid margin of 55% to 45%.

Peltola is the first Alaska Native woman to serve in Congress. Peltola came just shy of the 50% threshold in the first round of voting and shot up to 55% when second choices were sorted in Alaska ranked choice voting system.

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