Josh Marshall

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TPM.
Extremism in US Special Forces

I wanted to flag your attention to this NBC article about radicalization among current and retired US Special Forces personnel. NBC got access to private Facebook groups for these communities – again current and former. They had a lot of racist, far-right, QAnon type content. Not universal and not uncontested, but still a lot.

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Why Now on Manafort and Kilimnik? Prime Badge

I want to recommend you read Josh Kovensky’s write up of yesterday’s Treasury Department statement about the 2016 Trump campaign’s direct tie to Russian intelligence. The Mueller report and the later Senate intelligence report were both unwilling or unable to determine whether Manafort associate Konstantin Kilimnik had passed the campaign information he received from Manafort to Russian intelligence. Treasury said he did. This is not a huge surprise since Kilimnik is widely reputed to be a Russian spy. And we should note that these are assertions listed in what amounts to a bill of particulars. They don’t explain what evidence underlies these claims. But this is the first time the US government has connected the pieces so clearly and categorically.

Why now?

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The Uncanny Political Moment Prime Badge

There’s a sizable batch of new polling out which shows that President Biden’s infrastructure plan is popular with a broad cross-section of the public. The popularity isn’t quite as overwhelming as it was for the American Rescue Plan. But by almost every standard in a polarized age the numbers are still overwhelming. A new poll sponsored by the Times shows 64% support. Democrats almost unanimously support it (97%). 72% of Independents support it. And even 29% of Republicans support it. The support is spread broadly across demographic groups and the individual components of the plan poll well too.

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A Key Detail from the Gaetz Timeline Prime Badge

In recent days, most new details in the Matt Gaetz saga have been yet more nuggets of information from anonymous sources all of which add up to the same basic story: Gaetz appears to be in a lot of trouble, though whether sex with a minor will be part of an eventual indictment is not entirely clear. But there was one detail in a story published late Tuesday in Politico which adds a significant piece to the puzzle. One key question has been when Gaetz knew he was being investigated. The Politico story says federal executed a search warrant “this winter” in which they seized Gaetz’s iPhone. He changed his number in “late December.”

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More on the Pause Prime Badge

It’s a tough call. But I’m inclined to agree with the decision to call a pause on the J&J Janssen vaccine. Yes, based on what we know the risk is much less than many other things we do as a matter of course. Certainly it’s far lower than the risks of getting COVID. But these matters are not purely ones of statistics. They’re more centered on building trust. In that domain people’s intuitive rather than mathematical perceptions of risk can be just as important.

If I were leery of the safety of the vaccines – as opposed to holding some deep ideological or Trump-loyalist aversion – seeing federal regulators ignore or soft pedal even a small number of potential fatalities in the greater interest of getting everyone vaccinated would sap my trust more than anything else. If the US were ditching the J&J vaccine based on what we know now I’d think differently. But I don’t think that’s likely.

Here TPM Reader JS

I agree that there is a stench of innumeracy about the risks of the vaccine here. The risk of being killed driving there is less, fine. I’ve also seen that the risk of dying of COVID is actually higher than dying from the vaccine. Suppose these are both true. Then it would seem foolish to “pause” vaccinations, right?

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Who’s Repping Matt Gaetz?

I’ve heard so much on the PR front from Matt Gaetz that I was curious whether he even has a lawyer, and if so who that person or persons might be. On the PR front Gaetz hired Trump surrogate Harlan Hill, a one time Democrat who went full Trump in 2016 and has been one of Trump’s most devoted supporters ever since. He runs a firm called Logan Circle Group and is now representing Gaetz along with Erin Elmore, a former Apprentice contestant and Trump surrogate. On the lawyer front, Gaetz is also pulling from the Trump inner circle as well.

Gaetz is being represented by Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirschner. Kirschner is a respected New York criminal defense attorney who doesn’t, as far as I can tell, have a strong political profile. The same can’t be said for Mukasey. He’s the son of former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and an associate and former law partner of Rudy Giuliani. Mukasey has represented President Trump in the on-going investigation run by New York City DA Cy Vance and he also represented disgraced Navy Seal Edward Gallagher and other Trump loyalists. Trump later pardoned Gallagher.

Numbers and Perception Prime Badge

From TPM Reader MM

When J&J-vaccine-related blood clots first were suspected/observed in Europe, I wrote to you about the statistical insignificance of the number of observed cases, about how and why scientists tended not to make good politicians, and about the obvious need to monitor the evolving situation closely. Not long after, I wrote again to applaud the EU leadership for having listened to their “scientists and technocrats”, who presumably told them more or less the same thing in much more detail. No doubt you’ve followed developments since then more closely than I have, despite the virtual tsunami of other, more purely-political news inviting or demanding your analysis and commentary.

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Did the FDA/CDC Make the Right Call?

There is a huge amount of criticism of the CDC and FDA bubbling up on social media about the decision to pause administration of the J&J Janssen vaccine. As I noted earlier, based on these preliminary and unconfirmed rates of risk it is virtually certain that discontinuing use of this vaccine would lead to many more deaths from COVID than any saved from the rare clotting disorder. But before you think the regulators are idiots who are down a rabbit hole of untethered risk aversion, a few points are worth mentioning.

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Feds Order Pause on Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The big news this morning is that the FDA is recommending an immediate pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine because of the same extremely rare but potentially fatal side effect which has led to limits on the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe. Just in recent days the same J&J vaccine has also come under scrutiny in Europe because of the same side effect.

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What Is Matt Gaetz Thinking

What strikes me most about the on-going Gaetz clown show isn’t the audacity but the irrelevance. Gaetz has moved full bore into Deep State grievance/conspiracy theory mode. It’s not about statutory rape or sex trafficking, he claims. The Deep State and the Elites are coming after him because he stands for the common man. As he wrote in his Examiner Oped, “They aren’t coming for me — they are coming for you. I’m just in the way.”

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