Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Reading your responses (for which I thank you) to my post on Bob Dylan’s ‘Christian period’ music, I thought I’d go back through our archives and try to pull together everything I’ve written about Dylan over the years. I was mainly surprised at just how little I had in fact written. My knowledge of how much thought I’ve given to the matter and my memory of putting together words to convey those thoughts simply doesn’t match up with the evidence. I have some sneaking fear that some stuff may be hidden in our imperfectly indexed archives. But selective memory is the more logical culprit.

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Here’s a fascinating look at how California Republicans in the House of Representatives plan to survive 2018. As I’ve mentioned, on top of the general unpopularity of President Trump, California is one of the states hardest hit by the end of most deductions for SALT taxes. Altogether it could crush what remains of the still sizable Republican House delegation from California (39-D, 14-R). How to survive? Led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, they plan to hitch their fates to a proposition to repeal a new gas tax dedicated to roads and infrastructure spending.

The aim seems less to change minds as simply to make certain Republicans turnout. They need every angle they can get. Not surprisingly, the new tax is not terribly popular, certainly not among Republicans. But it actually has a fair degree of support among business groups who are major GOP donors but yet realize that a decrepit infrastructure is bad for business.

I heard the Times Carl Hulse a few moments ago on CNN tell Dana Bash that he thought President Trump saying Bob Mueller would “be fair” contradicted and in some ways complicated the chorus of attacks on Mueller we see from Republicans on Capitol Hill. ‘You say Mueller is biased and on a witch hunt. But the President himself says Mueller is fair’, and so forth. I think this misreads what the President said.

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There is almost no limit to the bad policy included in the new GOP tax law. Indeed, even within ‘bad policy’ which can distinguish between ‘bad policy’ in the sense of conservative public policy which I and likely many readers think will have bad outcomes and ‘bad policy’ in the sense of poorly constructed tax law which almost no one would devise if they had time and weren’t so focused on giveaways to major donors. Of all these however I continue to believe that the (near total) end of deductions for SALT taxes are likely to have the greatest political impact. They are also stimulating a new debate about the distribution of resources within the US federal system.

Let’s rehearse some details.

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From the Devin Nunes Intelligence Agency, we have theory 14 why Donald Trump should be immune from the rule of law. Remember, Nunes is the House intelligence committee chair who got involved with Mike Flynn’s effort to surveil and disrupt the Russia investigation in the first days and weeks of the Trump presidency. Nunes was bounced from running the House Russia probe in part because of that. But now he’s back, largely in the form of mounting a counter-probe, a probe into alleged bias in the probe itself. To that end, he has subpoenaed a man named David Kramer, who played a role in Sen. John McCain’s bringing a copy of the Steele ‘dossier’ to then-FBI Director James Comey in late 2016. (Comey already had a copy.) This is all prologue to a new, or newly refined theory: the Steele dossier was not a perhaps imperfect guide to Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. It was the interference itself.

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This began as a Christmas Day post, perhaps appropriately so. So let’s consider that still, despite being a couple days late.

I’m a longtime fan of Bob Dylan, though fandom doesn’t quite capture the connection. Dylan and his music have been a major part of my life since childhood. Literally since childhood. I’ve told you before about my father, the man who raised me. But he wasn’t my biological father. My biological father was a jazz musician. He and my mom split up before I was a year old. He died last year and we hadn’t been in contact in years. But when I was a small boy living in St. Louis we had a close relationship. I first encountered Dylan at that age when I saw a new copy of the just released Blood on the Tracks in early 1975. Another memory has us trying, but failing, to get into a Dylan concert, maybe in 1974. Just a small boy, maybe dragged along for no particular reason. Memories are uncertain at that age, certainly decades on. Both these men, born either a couple years before or after Dylan, had Dylan’s music deeply imprinted on to their lives.

I’ve always thought what’s known as Dylan’s ‘Christian period’ is the most underrated period of his career, though many see it as a black hole or an embarrassing digression. I raise it now because Dylan’s years’ long bootleg series has finally gotten to these years 1979-81 with installment #13 “Trouble No More”. (There’s actually a full deluxe edition with 8 hours of songs and a smaller two disk version for the faint of heart or light of wallet.)

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Note that the calls for a “purge” of the FBI and DOJ are becoming more explicit, actually using the word “purge” and moving from the right-wing publications to sitting members of Congress. A small part of this is simple partisanship, what threatens the leader of your political party is bad and needs to be attacked. But what we’re seeing goes far, far beyond that and can only be explained by the Republican right’s broader embrace of authoritarianism, which both predates Trump, accounts for his rise and has in turn been accelerated by his presidency. 

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A feel good story of one of the GOP tax cuts top beneficiaries, Dalton DeVos, nephew of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, son of Amway President Doug DeVos and grandson of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. Sailing is a tradition in the DeVos family and Dalton has just returned from a two year trip circumnavigating the globe on the 76 foot Reliance along with a small crew. From Michigan Live: “He was still a student at Grand Valley State University when he approached his parents about the idea in 2013. The following year he bought the boat and hired a captain. Nine months after graduating with business and marketing degree in December 2014, he began the journey.”

For everyone who celebrates, Merry Christmas!