Josh Marshall

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

Revisiting the Ukraine War Prime Badge

Back on March 30th, little more than a month into the Russo-Ukraine War, I published an email from TPM Reader BF who I identified as from the U.S. national security world. You can read the post here. But the gist, according to BF, was that I had it all wrong, that “notwithstanding its battlefield embarrassments and mishaps Putin is on the verge of getting everything he wants and Ukraine is on the verge of what amounts to surrender.”

Last week I heard from another reader asking for an update from BF in light of the last six months. That follow-on note was a bit ungenerous in its tone and somewhat tendentious in its read of BF’s comments. But the overall suggestion seemed worthwhile. When I asked, BF was game. So here’s his response …

[ed. note: BF’s response was written on September 15th, so before the recent mobilization announcement.]

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Into the Storm Prime Badge

The congressional generic ballot continues to drift slowly in the Democrats’ direction. But there’s been some tightening in key Senate races that have looked promising for Democrats. These are all very small shifts that are as likely to be noise as actual trends. But the fact that most of these small moves are in the GOP direction suggests it’s something more than noise. The simplest explanation is that a variety of factors allowed Democrats to dominate the airwaves through the late summer. Republicans had fundraising challenges; they hadn’t settled yet on nominees; their various committees and mega-donors were feuding among themselves. That’s changed now. And that change seems to be showing up in the polls.

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Surprise Surprise

One of the questions I’ve mentioned a few times in the DeSantis Vineyard story is that the company Florida is paying for the migrant flights isn’t the one which is actually running the flights. The former is Vertol Systems, newly of Florida, and the latter Ohio-based Ultimate Jet Charters. Vertol is mostly a helicopter company and doesn’t seem to have the kind of planes needed for this kind of work, which sort of raises the questions of why they got the contract. (Since the news of all this broke Vertol took its website offline.) Since Vertol can’t do it, they’ve subcontracted the work to Ultimate Jet Charters. This new Miami Herald article goes into all the details and reveals that Vertol has close ties to Larry Keefe, the DeSantis appointee charged with running his anti-immigration policies. Who could have guessed.

Of course, this isn’t the first state contract given to a governor’s cronies and it doesn’t get us closer to knowing the real question: who is DeSantis working with in Texas? And where’s “Perla”?

‘Perla’ Behind Another Flight and Stranded Migrants Prime Badge

There was a scramble at Delaware Coastal Airport near Georgetown, Delware Tuesday as state authorities and immigrant support organizations rushed to be ready to receive a plane filled with migrants from Texas. The DeSantis administration leaked word to reporters in Florida about the flight. There was no official word from anyone in Delaware but rumors abounded that such a flight was on its way from Texas and would arrive by 1:30 p.m. But the plane never showed. Courtesy of TPM Reader DC we have a report on the commotion here. Later, DeSantis spokesperson Christine Pushaw tweeted that the whole flight rumor was “disinformation.” But it wasn’t. Venezuelan migrants in San Antonio had been recruited. A charter flight had been booked.

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No Plush Pillows in the Big House

Big trouble. Pillow capo Mike Lindell is under federal investigation for identity theft and damaging a protected computer tied to that the big voting equipment breach in Colorado.

Circuit Court Gives Feds Partial Stay of Judge Cannon Order Prime Badge

A three judge panel of the 11th circuit has granted the Justice Department motion to stay a key part of Judge Cannon’s recent special master ruling. Cannon ruled that they could not continue using the classified documents in their criminal investigation while the special master, Judge Dearie, is doing his work. This three judge panel has overruled Cannon on that point. It’s an important win for the DOJ, though it is perhaps slightly less consequential since Judge Dearie has signaled he plans to move rapidly to do his review. Two of the three judges are Trump appointees.

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House GOPs Come Out of the Abortion Ban Closet Prime Badge

House Republicans appear to have accidentally published their “commitment to America” program before unpublishing it. But Nancy Pelosi’s office got screenshots. There’s a lot of what you’d expect, much of it predictably vague – of the “be excellent to each other” type of generic exhortation. But it does include a pledge to “protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers.” Given that this is the federal Congress, and Congress’s job is to make laws, clearly this means an abortion ban of some sort. And Pelosi’s office has interpreted it as such. (They note that about 80% of House Republicans are already cosponsoring a national abortion ban after conception.) But you can see that GOP House strategists have left it vague enough to try to get reporters to refrain from calling it that while the GOP’s pro-life supporters will know precisely what it means.

You Must Watch This New DeSantis Explanation Prime Badge

This new video of Ron DeSantis’s 10th explanation of who he was funding in Texas really has to be seen to be believed. (Video below.) He says that he can’t ship migrants from Florida, as the state legislature authorized money to do, because there aren’t enough migrants coming into the state. There’s no “mass movement.” It’s just one or two people at a time driving to Florida. There’s no way to deal with that efficiently because there aren’t enough people. (Needless to say, however people are entering the state, if the state is overrun you just pick them up locally.) But, he says, he has “intelligence” operatives in Texas and they have learned that from “30% to 40%” of migrants in Texas intend to come to Florida.

In other words, there’s a tidal wave of people apparently about to come. Just not yet. Follow? Good.

So what to do? The most efficient way to deal with this is to go to Texas, profile people who seem likely to later come to Florida and fly them to states run by Democrats. That means “the chance they end up in Florida is much less.”

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High On Their Own Supply

We have many more details on the hearing this afternoon in Brooklyn, where Josh Kovensky was at the courtroom reporting for us. But Judge Dearie, aka “the special master,” is leaving the Trumpers pretty disappointed in today’s hearing. The amazing thing is that they asked for Dearie because they managed to convince themselves that his involvement with the FISA court and the Carter Page matter had made him into an anti-Deep State zealot, or an “FBI-skeptic,” as the Trumpers put it. That seems like quite a silly surmise, to put it mildly. There had been confusion that Trump’s team had requested him, a respected senior-status judge. Now we know why. Now they’re finding out that he’s your average federal judge, the type who goes in with the assumption that classified documents are classified rather than owned by former Presidents, the type who doesn’t go in with the assumption that the FBI is run by Antifa. I’m surprised that I’m surprised that they managed to bamboozle themselves like this.

DeSantis's public comments offer some helpful clues about who is actually behind those flights to Martha's Vineyard.

I’ve said a few times that the consistent testimony of all those Venezuelan migrants describes an operation that is simply not a government operation, not an operation managed by government employees: people with business cards with only a first name, fabricated government brochures, contract quotas, all the rest. Governments and government workers can act with horrible callousness and brutality. But they do so in certain formal and bureaucratic ways. These were clearly not government employees. And on this there are actually some clues in DeSantis’ public statements.

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