Josh Marshall

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

Weekend Miscellany

Oliver Sacks on the dehumanizing effects of iPhones and internet culture, published in The New Yorker in 2019, four years after his death.

Maricopa County Chairman Bill Gates, a Republican, moved to an undisclosed location with a sheriff’s protective detail in response to threats tied to the 2022 midterm. Maricopa County is governed by a five-member board of supervisors. As chairman, Gates is the chief executive authority in the county. Gates has been an outspoken defender of the integrity of the county’s voting system.

Newly elected Arizona Republican state representative announces she will not vote in the state house until the 2022 election is redone. Rep. Liz Harris’s decision would reduce the GOP’s effective majority to a margin of 30 to 29.

Annals of AI

This article on “Galactica,” a Meta (i.e., Facebook) AI engine that was supposed to organize and synthesize 48 million scientific papers, is a new addition to a growing list of such reports which make me think that both the transformative and dystopic versions of the AI future are further in the distance than we are often led to believe.

5 Dead at LGBTQ Nightclub in Colorado Springs

Five died and eighteen were wounded overnight in a mass shooting at a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs. Initial reports suggest that the gunman was initially subdued by club attendees rather than police, perhaps reducing the death toll. We should treat all the initial reports as tentative. The shooter was apparently also injured and is in custody receiving medical treatment. (In the summer of 2021 the alleged shooter threatened violence against his mother with “a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.” A SWAT team negotiations unit was able to get Anderson Lee Aldrich to come out of the home voluntarily and he was taken into custody.)

Let’s Not Whine About Trump Being on Twitter Prime Badge

I see we’re back to the question of whether Donald Trump should be allowed back on Twitter, whether Elon Musk will allow him back, what it will mean? All I can add to this debate is that getting hung up on this question is undignified and unwise. Put simply, it makes the supporters of civic democracy and Americanism sound weak, helpless, lacking the courage of their convictions and beliefs, afraid. (As I was writing this post, I heard that Elon Musk had announced he was reinstating Trump on the platform.) Much of this stems from the really wrongheaded idea that Trump leapfrogged to the commanding heights of American politics in 2015 because he got so much TV coverage or because people engaged with his tweets on Twitter. That was never true. All sorts of bad conclusions flow from that misapprehension.

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Garland Appointing Jack Smith is Just Fine Prime Badge

Many of you are asking me what I make of Merrick Garland’s decision to appoint Jack Smith to serve as a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into Jan 6th (he won’t take over current cases) and the Mar-a-Lago investigation. I think it’s fine. I strongly suspect, though here I’m talking more hunch, that it’s also bad news for Donald Trump and probably various associates.

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Where’s the Money, Ron?

We’ve discussed this before. But The Miami Herald now fleshes out the story. When Ron DeSantis’s administration hired Vertol Systems, a defense contractor, to run its migrant flights program, Vertol insisted on being paid up front for a package deal. That’s not how Florida works with contractors. But Vertol insisted and eventually the politicals in DeSantis’s administration overruled the state employees who manage payments to contractors. (It seems likely that that was done by the appointee running the program, Larry Keefe, who recommended Vetrol and used to be the company’s lawyer.)

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TwiTitanic Prime Badge

Its such a bizarre thing. Elon Musk has owned Twitter for roughly three weeks and as of this morning the site seems to be limping forward, with widespread but inconsistent outages, because the inner functioning of the company has essentially imploded. Or rather Musk blew it up. Pretty much on a whim. Musk had already fired roughly half of the company’s workforce and at least temporarily scared off many of its corporate advertisers. Earlier this week he issued the remaining staff an ultimatum in which they had to choose between becoming truly ”hardcore,” working longer hours and weekends, or taking a small severance and leaving.

Apparently an unexpectedly large number chose to do the latter. Last night hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand of the remaining employees signed off for good, often with messages on Twitter itself, toasting their former workplace in a digital equivalent of a New Orleans funeral.

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The Dems’ Sinema Problem Prime Badge
It's not a question of whether to primary her. She's unelectable on her own.

Kyrsten Sinema has been a thorn in the side of Democrats for the last two years. Unlike, co-thorn Joe Manchin, there’s no obvious reason why she insisted on being one. (As Eric Levitz notes, Mark Kelly’s victory is an indictment of Sinema’s politics.) Manchin is from the most pro-Trump state in the country. Sinema’s not.

In recent weeks, Rep. Ruben Gallego has been signaling more and more clearly that he may challenge Sinema in a primary in advance of her reelection campaign in 2024. Normally in such circumstances partisans try to find a balance between disciplining or displacing an errant elected official and the risk of losing the seat altogether. But that mistakes the challenge Democrats actually face. Because Sinema is already unelectable.

Let’s start with the fact that 2024 is going to be a very challenging year for the Democrats to hold the Senate. The pick-up opportunities are challenging at best. Democrats must defend seats in Ohio, Montana and West Virginia. In other words, Democrats can’t afford to lose a seat in Arizona if they have hopes of retaining Senate control.

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The Beginning of the End—But Only the Beginning Prime Badge

I watched Donald Trump’s special announcement speech last night. I don’t think it was quite as low energy as some have suggested. I’d describe it more as a greatest hits show from an old band. Some have noted that the crowd seemed not always to know when to clap. They were into it but not overwhelmed. This raised a question in my mind. This is not really Trump’s crowd. Trump’s crowd is at those red state rallies. He did himself a disservice by not holding the event at one of those venues. It’s possible that his handlers thought this was a venue where they could keep him more on script. More likely, he’s reacting in a panicked fashion to the DeSantis boomlet and didn’t have the time.

But let’s set the atmospherics aside. I think this is likely the beginning of the end of Donald Trump. But I say this with a different emphasis from most. When I say “beginning of the end” I put the emphasis on “beginning.” There can be a long time between the beginning of the end and the end of the end. I suspect in this case it may play out over a few political cycles.

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Inside the Fetterman Campaign Prime Badge

Yesterday Kate Riga and I held a TPM Newsmaker Briefing with Brendan McPhillips — a lot of very interesting details about how the campaign unfolded from the inside. Did it seem like a jump ball in the last week on the inside? Apparently so. What happened with that NBC interview? What about the debate? We get into all of that. If you’re a member and you weren’t able to join us live yesterday, you can watch the whole thing after the jump.

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