Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of

Articles by Josh

Mentioned last week that the big hole in any reopening plan for New York City, the most hard hit region in the United States, is the city’s bus and subway system, without which the city simply can’t function. The Times has a story today about just this question. It’s a fascinating discussion of the mix of questions, risks, challenges and opportunities that go into this question. But what struck me about the article is the general assumption in the writing of it that the issue is convincing residents to use the subways and public transit again rather than whether it’s actually safe to do so.

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In the last 48 hours I’ve struggled to make sense of the totality of what is unfolding across the country. Social media is at its best and its worst, fanatically zooming in on the worst incidents or the occasionally the most inspiring, making it all but impossible to make sense of the larger picture. Yet conventional journalism manages to do little better. I think this is because everything actually does seem to be happening at once: civil rights protestors protesting and sometimes escalating into riot; white supremacists acting as agents provocateurs to goad on their fantasies of race war; white left radicals doing the same to advance their own vision of liberatory social violence. And then you have the police. I have no doubt many, most police are doing their best to do their job in this moment. But the novel technology of smart phones is capturing and magnifying numerous incidents around the country in which police officers are caught acting less like a civilian constabulary working to protect the peace, lives and property than something more like another gang, with its own political agenda, sometimes turning not only on protestors with excessive force but on the civilian population itself.

At its best and its worst, the refrain of protest – that the discrimination and abuse is systemic – is vindicated inasmuch as good or at least middling people are drawn along with bad or destructive actions.

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I had had a few TPM Readers send me emails questioning that big hydroxychloroquine study published by The Lancet, the one which purported to show dramatically higher mortality rates among patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine. But the links were to sites and sources I wasn’t familiar with. And the debates about hydroxychloroquine are so vexed and often conspiracy-theory-laden that I was cautious because the study was published in one of the world’s most respected medical journals.

But now it seems clear the questions about the study are real and being taken up by a range of researchers and clinicians around the world. Here’s one write up in The Guardian from Wednesday. And here’s another in the Times from yesterday.

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Today’s press conference with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was one of the most buoyant and optimistic since the grim story of the epidemic started almost three months ago in early March. Cuomo was joined, virtually, by New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, equally buoyant and with genuinely good news: In a week New York City should be ready for what the state defines as “phase one” of reopening. In practice, this remains quite limited: non-essential construction and manufacturing can restart. Most retail businesses can reopen for curbside or in-store pick up. Various outdoor businesses can restart: landscaping, gardening, a limited number of recreational activities.

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We awake to a bewildering, sobering tableau. A second night of protests engulfed Minneapolis in the wake of the police killing George Floyd and a news conference in which the county district attorney, Mike Freeman, appeared to resist bringing charges against the police officer, Derek Chauvin, who was videotaped kneeling on Floyd’s neck before he died.

Protesters-turned-rioters took control the city’s 3rd precinct after police evacuated the building and then set it on fire. In the early morning, Minneapolis Police arrested a compliant CNN news crew and reporter Omar Jimenez live on air. Overnight, President Trump, still egging on his faux battle with Twitter and threats to regulate it out of existence, went on the platform to threaten mass carnage against the city’s “thugs.”

Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!

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For reasons which escape me, President declares, “I just beat COVID.”

Late Update: Several of you noted that the President must have meant he “just beat COVID” in the sense that he arrived back in the US just before COVID arrived in the country. He arrived back in the US on February 25th. So, narrowly speaking, even this isn’t true. But it was before the major confirmed outbreak started in March. So I think this must be what he meant: a) because it is the only non-absurd explanation (a hard standard for Trump), b) but more importantly because it’s the only explanation which makes the one statement have any logical connection to the one that preceded it. (Making nonsensical statements to own the libs …)

It seems notable that President Trump seems to be failing in defining masks as a cardinal element of political identity. It’s a work in progress of course. We continue to hear reports of non-masking Trumpers shaming or calling out people wearing masks. But there seems to be the makings on some public consensus behind masking, at least at the level of political leaders, even normally reliable Trumpite types.

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I didn’t know Larry Kramer. So my memories of him are public ones and not unique to me. But one memory has and will always stand out for me. It was an evening live network TV interview. Perhaps it was Nightline or maybe it was some show on CNN. It was an interview via satellite hook-up rather than in-studio. It was at the earliest in the late 90s, probably in the first decade of this century. The key is that Kramer was already a relatively old man and it was after the point when HIV/AIDS had become, at least in the United States, a largely manageable chronic disease rather than a near-term death sentence.

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Take a moment to read this article in Science magazine about COVID19, aerosol transmission and masks. It’s not a study. It’s published as a “perspective”, more a review of the current science and an argument about the implications of the data. The upshot is a strong argument for universal mask wearing as long as COVID19 remain prevalent in the population and we have no vaccines or effective treatments. The more specific assertions are these.

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