Josh Marshall

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

A Theory Emerges Prime Badge

The Post has an article up that provides a bit more detail on earlier Chinese balloon incursions. The gist seems to be that they’ve skirted US territory a number of times and crossed into US airspace but not as extensively as what happened in this case. The ‘briefly’ in that earlier reference was the key. In a nice bit of additional detail Florida and Texas were earlier targets.

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A Bit Deeper on the Great Balloon of Doom Prime Badge

David Ignatius is a consistently good and informative read. This column is not really an exception. But it’s notable that Ignatius feels the need to kick off with a classic ‘to be sure’ sentence – “an embarrassment for the Biden administration, to be sure” – before going on to explain that shooting the balloon down over the ocean was the most logical course of action and that it will likely yield more intelligence for the United States than for China.

What an embarrassment!

But with so much attention to it I thought it made sense to put together what we actually know and where the story is at.

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Of Men and Balloons Prime Badge

We officially have an absurd debate over Chinese surveillance balloon toughness. Yes, this is now a thing. A slew of Republicans today lashed out at President Biden for not shooting down the balloon just as the Pentagon carried out his orders to do so. The balloon was shot down by an F-22 firing a sidewinder missile just off the coast of South Carolina.

This was followed by new claims that President Trump never would have allowed a Chinese balloon into US airspace at all. Rep. Joe Wilson, a notorious goober who represents a district in South Carolina declared: “The catastrophic Chinese Spy Balloon spectacle clearly threatened American families from Alaska to my home community in South Carolina and confirms President Biden and Vice President Harris should resign.”

But according to a Pentagon press release out this afternoon, Chinese surveillance balloons entered US airspace at least three times during Trump’s presidency. He not only didn’t shoot them down he also, it would seem, kept it a secret.

The Costa Rica Balloon is Also From China Prime Badge

I was half joking in the post below about the unidentified high altitude balloon over Costa Rica. But the Pentagon now says that it believes that balloon is another Chinese surveillance balloon. WTF?

WTF? Now There’s a Balloon over Costa Rica? Prime Badge

I’ve been sort of mystified by the apparent Chinese spy balloon over Montana. It seems highly provocative for relatively little intelligence pay-off. And it happens at a time when both countries appear to be attempting to at least stabilize tensions between the two countries. But TPM Reader JS points out that there seems to be another unauthorized and unidentified balloon currently over Costa Rica. Weird!

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Does the White House Need to Restate Its Refusal to Negotiate the Debt Ceiling? Prime Badge

It seems like the White House may have some clarifying to do about just what came out of this week’s first meeting between President Biden and Speaker McCarthy. The statement from the White House seemed pretty clear. They’re ready, eager to negotiate budget issues separate from the debt ceiling, which has to be passed without conditions. This I think has always been the actual and proper position and the one I noted back on Monday was worth reiterating.

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Meet the Contract Killer who Now Represents George Santos in Brazil Prime Badge
Jonymar Vasconcelos, 47, lawyer for Rep George Santos in Brazil

I’m not sure the George Santos stories keep getting worse. But they do get weirder, more bizarre.

As we learned way back at the beginning of the Santos saga, he remains a wanted man in Brazil for check fraud he committed back in 2008. After he became an international celebrity in December, Brazilian authorities decided to reinitiate the case which had stalled when they couldn’t locate him. After the case was reopened, Santos hired a Brazilian lawyer to represent him in the revived case. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, since it’s George Santos, that he managed to find a lawyer who’s a convicted murderer. In fact, he’s a convicted contract killer.

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What Were They Talking About? Prime Badge

Our Kate Riga was able to confirm and get additional evidence of this chat first reported by Punchbowl. This was from last night, just after McCarthy’s meeting with President Biden.

Santos Touches the Third Rail of Big Dog Prime Badge
George Santos

There now appear to be multiple federal investigations of George Santos. This is in addition to a number of investigations in New York state. The one we learned about today is based on the truly hideous story in which Santos used his sham charity to raise $3,000 for life-saving surgery for a disabled vet’s service dog and then pocketed the money and let the dog die.

You can read the story here, if you haven’t already. It’s almost cartoonish in its horribleness.

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Not Long for The House Prime Badge

A reader pointed out to me that in this video, in which Santos is interviewed by ABC reporter Will Steakin, Santos appears to be wearing an AR-15 lapel pin. He was being asked about news that the FBI is now investigating him allegedly stealing $3,000 meant to save the life of a dying dog.

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