Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

You’ve probably seen President Trump’s tweets over the weekend lashing out at America’s European allies over trade. There’s no better way to understand the mindset than to read this post from June 2016. It’s a revelation.

Also don’t forget this: decoupling the United States from the major states and economies of Western Europe has been the central foreign policy goal of Russia for about 70 years.

I’ve always been resistant to criticisms of the main party committees like the DCCC, DSCC and others. This isn’t because I think they’re right or wrong. It’s because as the ones controlling the main or a main store of money and other resources they are a logical focus of criticism for everyone who isn’t getting maximal support or everyone who thinks if they just got that added burst of support they could win. The same applies to everyone who doesn’t have the same theory of the election – more gun-friendly Democrats in rural midwestern districts, more progressive candidates, more whatever. In other words, it’s not that I think these party committees are always right. Far from it. It’s that I’m aware there are structural factors that make these committees a focus of criticism whether they’re doing solid work or not.

I say all this as a preface to saying something rather different.

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I was speaking to friends last night at a belated birthday party and I told several of them something I’d like to share with you now. While I’ve been following the Trump era for going on three years and long been a pessimist about the depth of his corruption – both venal and otherwise – the last two weeks has made me think the situation is significantly worse than I’d imagined.

Let me refer very briefly to two points.

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I wanted to make sure you saw this column by John Harwood at CNBC. It doesn’t contain new news. But it puts together the big, meaningful picture on the Russia story, the one that is in critical respects more impact than what Bob Mueller and his team eventually uncover. He’s taken their money; he’s accepted and profited from their corrupt electoral assistance. And in return he has consistently fought the investigation of their misdeeds and attacks his own government in their interest. Whether we ultimately find that there was an explicit agreement that he would scratch their backs and they would scratch his is perhaps a big deal legally. But it would only confirm the corrupt alliance that is already there pretty much in plain sight. Give it a read.

Some books seem wildly obscure but are a great delight to read. History books, I mean in this case. It’s always history books with me. So I’m going to recommend two right now. I thought of them because I decided I wanted to read them both again myself.

The books are The Ancient Mariners: Seafarers and Sea Fighters of the Mediterranean in Ancient Times and Libraries in the Ancient World. They are both by Lionel Casson, a classical historian who focused primarily on maritime history but also ranged further afield and mixed traditional literary sources with a deep reliance on the archeological record (particularly maritime archeology) which has transformed classical studies in the last half century. Casson died at 94 in 2009 and published the libraries book in 2001.

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Following up on her piece about Gov. Scott Walker not holding special elections he fears the GOP may lose, Allegra Kirkland has a reporter’s notebook (sub req) on whether this kind of partisan slow-rolling is becoming a trend.

As long as we’re on the topic, a former Wisconsin legislator who served with Walker wrote in last night in response to Allegra’s piece and made a simple point. The politics obsessed tend to think of legislative seats in terms of passing laws, in terms of numbers and who controls chambers. That’s hugely important. But it’s not the only thing representatives do. This kind of thing hurts all citizens because citizens rely on legislators for constituent service, representing them before the government, helping them navigate it. It cheats everyone. It’s a terrible trend.

Wow. No one saw this coming! According to J.P. Morgan, corporations are using their windfall from the President’s big tax cut (both direct savings and repatriated cash) to do stock buybacks.

This gives me an opportunity to share some insight on this from one of our longtime readers. This is usually framed as a pay-off for corporations, which it undoubtedly is. But these buybacks may drive money even pretty narrowly among a corporations shareholders.

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I think most of us have been pretty worried about our country’s situation since November 2016. But look at this chyron.

Aren’t news reports like this from generally sedate news sources profoundly worrisome? The President’s allies are talking about him like he’s teetering on the edge of some kind of emotional breakdown. At this point I think we’re all half boiled frogs.