Josh Marshall’s “Team on the Field:” Putting GOP on Defense Over Russia Requires Reversing Their Offense

Josh Marshall argued yesterday that the Democratic Party needs to start going on offense on the GOP’s complicity in Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

A new AP poll says that 54% of Americans think President Biden has been “not tough enough” on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. These kinds of public perceptions can be shaped by perceptions of a leader as much as they drive them. So you think Biden is weak as your starting point and therefore you think he’s not being tough enough on Russia rather than the other way around. Also notable, Americans’ hawkishness over Ukraine has dipped a bit from a month ago. But the first, second and third most important thing about this poll is that this is what you get when you’re not reminding Americans every day — and I mean every god-damned day — that the GOP has spent the last 7 years boosting, allying with and even conspiring with Russia.


Will pushing the GOP’s guilt and complicity on Russia make people stop caring about inflation? Of course not. But if you’re not even putting that team on the field you are simply not doing the simplest blocking and tackling of politics. It’s that bad. [my emphasis]

I don’t disagree with him. But for a guy with his own media outlet, he needs to start taking his own advice. That’s because his site has done little to undercut the flood of disinformation that the GOP has used to hide their own complicity.

Between the tag, “Durham,”

And “John Durham,” Marshall’s site shows four stories this year.

The tag, “Hunter Biden,” returns just two things this year.

While I haven’t focused on undermining the ridiculous claims the GOP are making about the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” — I have written just three stories this year (one, two, three), though that number would be far more if you count my focus on the investigation into Rudy — I’ve written 28 stories on the Durham investigation this year. Among other things, I have shown that:

One of the only other reporters covering this stuff with any attention, Charlie Savage, has to cater to a general audience. Meanwhile, an absolute torrent of propaganda from the frothy right has ignored the accumulated evidence not just of prosecutorial abuse, but shocking sloppiness. Instead, they spin Durham’s unsubstantiated conspiracy theories as fact, and from that, conclude that Trump wasn’t really badly implicated by Russia, but instead that was all made up by Hillary ahead of time.

If I weren’t alone swimming against this tide, Durham’s rank ignorance would actually be a great vehicle to correct the frothers. As I’ve noted, Durham and his rubes appear entirely unaware that the suspicions of the researchers trying to understand the Alfa Bank anomalies — that Trump had back channel communications with the Kremlin, that people close to Trump were laundering payments from oligarchs close to Trump, and that a family member of an Alfa Bank oligarch might be helping — all proved to be true.

The story of the Durham investigation is that he has criminalized people investigating reasonable inferences that turned out to be true. And yet the story that has gotten told, largely because other reporters are largely silent about it, is that he continues to chase Russian-seeded conspiracy theories in defiance of the evidence obtained as part of the Mueller investigation.

Josh Marshall has been far more successful than me in the two decades we’ve done this online journalism thing, so I’m in no place to tell him how to run his business.

But people believe that Biden is weak on Ukraine not just because Democrats aren’t screaming about how complicit Trump and his enablers are. They believe it because Trump has seeded two screaming conspiracy theories that have filled that void with false denials that all the suspicions about Trump turned out to be true.

Update: Added a third “Hunter Biden” “laptop” story.

101 replies
  1. Leu2500 says:

    “ But the first, second and third most important thing about this poll is that this is what you get when you’re not reminding Americans every day — and I mean every god-damned day — that the GOP has spent the last 7 years boosting, allying with and even conspiring with Russia.”

    May be this is an invitation for Dems to submit more press releases to TPM for publication. It’s evidently hard to write one’s own articles. See Politico.

    • Rayne says:

      Nah. I think Dems’ press releases should be more local and focused on broadcast media. Make news events but starve out Sinclair-owned stations.

      As for TPM: the biggest bone of contention I have is that it began as “Talking Points Memo.” Whose talking points and where were they? There were never any talking points even though at its inception Talking Points Memo was contra Fox-led media as the US entered the Iraq War and Fox was symbiotically feeding/taking with the GOP.

      Perhaps the brand shift to “TPM” should have been a sign that any pretense to talking points for the un-Foxed crowd had ended.

      • Zirc says:

        “I think Dems’ press releases should be more local and focused on broadcast media.”

        I agree somewhat. Local media is a good start, but it seems a lot of messaging seeps into the national consciousness via social media. So Facebook ads, and however things work on instagram and twitter, neither of which I know about.

        • Rayne says:

          That’s what a good local rapid response team should do with locally produced material.

          Somebody managed to share both Michigan state senators Mallory McMorrow and Erika Geiss’s speeches from the senate floor this past week, for example, and they made the national stage. This is what should be happening nationwide — Democrats at local and state level should be able to breakthrough but in a way which can’t be framed against them (hence avoiding Sinclair).



          Take the page from Bannon’s playbook and flood the zone with constructive, positive Dem material.

          • Troutwaxer says:

            That’s how Bill Clinton won two elections in a row. He had a response team with (back in the nineties) a dedicated FAX machine, which would attack Russia-publican propaganda as soon as it showed up.

            • Rayne says:

              You mean the same Bill Clinton who only had to deal with an emergent Fox News launched in October 1996, long before the average US citizen had internet access at home let alone a cell phone.

              Wholly different world.

              • Village idiot says:

                It’s a different world; sure! But no need to do it with vacuum tubes and in Morse code!

                We’ve got the internet, people with far too much time on their hands, and pizza delivery!

                A distributed effort to watch conservative social and traditional media, reporting to a organized Democratic ‘war room’ to get the background research and suggested takes out long before the stupidies get any traction in the press? Doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

                “Democrats in array!” for a change, maybe?

                • bmaz says:

                  What is wrong with vacuum tubes? I have two rather large amps here right in front of me that run on vacuum tubes, and despite need to warm up, and a small bit of buzz if you turn the sound down all the way, they are spectacular. Still better than solid state.

                • Rayne says:

                  How do you know for certain the Democrats don’t have a messaging program?

                  Have you considered at all that the media ecosphere in the US squelches it, and the public is conditioned to blame the Democrats?

                  There have been studies which show just how biased the media is, the most obvious example being “But her emails” in 2016.

                  At some point the blame falls on us for going along reflexively instead of doing the pushback ourselves. I can’t count how many times I’ve said something to this effect and all I get is “But, but, but…” and nothing. Just more “Democrats in disarray” which includes the persons complaining about the lack of messaging.

      • Tburgler says:

        Years ago—long enough ago that Josh would respond to emails from randos like myself—I took Josh to task for some insipid series of stories that was riling up the commenters on the site but, in my view, utterly failing to frame issues in ways that would benefit Dems.

        He replied that it wasn’t his job.

          • Leoghann says:

            Talking seems to be an important word to his concept. So maybe “Here’s What I Want to Talk About Today”?

        • Ken Muldrew says:

          If you had asked why he didn’t frame issues to highlight the truth, you would have had a point. Framing issues to highlight a political party is propaganda. That highlighting the truth is also beneficial to the Democratic party in no way excuses your request for propaganda (because that is not the proper role for a news outlet).

      • blueridgebill says:

        Early in the Blogging Times, it was clear to me that the message discipline of the GOP was tight: there seemed to be a centralized messaging that resulted in daily talking points: and one might tease it out: and it seemed someone, on our side or objective journalist, would identify and sum these things up: maybe deconstruct them..
        And like y’all, I saw “Talking Points Memo”, and said “at last!” And didn’t find that, but reporting and commentary. And stayed for that: and comment there in the membership section. Maybe the Pulitzer convinced Marshall that he was a Washington Journalist.
        To get a precis of GOP talking points of the day, I now have to wait to see what NPR’s Mara Liiason, e.g., is fronting as conventional wisdom.
        Perhaps it’s because there is no equivalent Dem process: we get statements from Sheldon Whitehouse, Liz Warren, Bernie’s shop: and no central messinging. One might think, if there is no “both sides” it can’t be reported.
        If we can’t coalesce on agreed on positions, “our side” will be projected by our opponents.

  2. greenbird says:

    whole lotta shakin’ gonna be goin’ on … like a carrier doin’ a 180: go slow to go fast.

  3. jaango1 says:

    For those of us, Chicanos, here in our wonderful Sonoran Desert, we cannot forget that Mueller, and his report completed, refused to address the current or existing OLC letter that prohibited the Republicans from addressing the then political reality. But, more the point Mueller was a much admired Republican. And from therein, Durham has ‘opened’ this political circle even further.

    Years ago, I wrote a booklet in TransNational Technology Centers, and one of the three salient emphasis’ was on “Intelligence-Gathering Publicized.” Today I have moved on to the idea of the “Municipal-Owned Internet News Standard.” Further there have been over 150 journalists working in Mexico have been killed in the past twenty four months. And yet, I continue to advocate that we are in dire need of the National Monument to Criminal Stupidity or for Biden establishing his Saturday morning National Bloggers Conference. Need more be said?

  4. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    Sometimes I get lost in the weeds of the Durham story, so I found this article particularly useful for summarizing where the long series has taken us.

    In my opinion, Biden should be on offense every single day. Hardly a day goes by where the Repubs don’t do or say something outrageous. Biden and Harris should be driving the news. For example, they should be attacking FL Repubs for their attack on Disney. Most Americans would side with Democrats if they strongly backed Disney. I cannot imagine that the Republican propaganda machine would have missed an easy opportunity to pound Democrats if they were anti-Disney. Look at how they turned the minor Dr. Seuss episode into a major talking point. Speeches about inflation don’t score points, rather it just reminds people they are hurting. Book burning, culture wars and linking Repubs to Russia are things people can relate to. When Sen. Scott proposed taxing the middle class and poor people and ending Medicare/Social Security, Biden should have made headlines out of opposing it. Liberals don’t need John Marshall to set the talking points; that’s up to Biden and Harris.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        Absolutely agreed. I don’t for the life of me understand why the Democrats don’t have a media strategy!

        • bmaz says:

          There are reasonable explanations on the individual level, including what most Dems think they are. But, as a whole, the adverse party is much better at it.

    • Peterr says:

      From the Guardian about an hour ago, referring to a speech made yesterday:

      Biden: Republicans’ Disney vote shows ‘far right has taken over party’

      For Joe Biden, the vote by Florida Republicans on Thursday to strip Disney of its self-governing powers was a step too far. “Christ, they’re going after Mickey Mouse,” the president exclaimed at a fundraiser in Oregon, in apparent disbelief that state governor Ron DeSantis’s culture wars had reached the gates of the Magic Kingdom.

      The move, Biden asserted, reflected his belief that the “far right has taken over the party”.

      By voting to penalize Florida’s largest private employer, lawmakers followed DeSantis’s wishes in securing revenge on a company he brands as “woke” for its opposition to his “don’t say gay” law.

      DeSantis is a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. He has pushed his legislature on several right-wing laws in recent weeks, including a 15-week abortion ban, stripping Black voters of congressional representation and preventing discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity issues in schools.

      “This is not your father’s Republican party,” Biden said at the fundraiser.

      “It’s not even conservative in a traditional sense of conservatism. It’s mean, it’s ugly. Look at what’s happening in Florida: Christ, they’re going after Mickey Mouse.”

      He’s making the headlines.

      • Peterr says:

        From the same piece, Jared Polis knows how to pivot and punch:

        Whatever it decides to do, Disney has options. In a probably tongue-in-cheek offer, the Colorado governor Jared Polis is offering “asylum” to Mickey Mouse in his state. But he was critical of DeSantis’s stance.

        “Florida’s authoritarian socialist attacks on the private sector are driving businesses away. In CO, we don’t meddle in affairs of companies like Disney or Twitter. Hey @Disney we’re ready for Mountain Disneyland,” he said in a tweet.

        Calling DeSantis a Socialist will leave a mark.

        • What Constitution? says:

          “Authoritarian Socialist” is kinda evocative of another day’s “National Socialist” moniker. Let’s see, what party used that to suggest they were the true party of The People? Oh, yeah, that was the National Socialists in Germany — the Nazis.

          So I wouldn’t say it necessarily would be such a bad thing for the governor of Colorado to call these putzes (sounds evocative of Putsch, aka Beer Hall Putsch, aka 1/6, see what I did there?) out for what they’re selling by tagging what they’re doing this way.

          But, of course, it makes some people uncomfortable (and others defensive) to refer to the Nazis because, you know, Nazis were bad and it’s not nice to draw comparisons. There are some good people in the Republican party too, it’s mean to suggest the Republican party has bad motives in attacking Disney on behalf of their vision of the broad social good. Is that the objection?

          I’ve always thought that the Nazi party’s alliteration of National Socialism was one low-cost easy ploy to avoid emphasizing either “fascism” or “authoritarianism” in the same sentence as “for the good of The People”. Branding has its place. It’s hard to sell “authoritarian dictatorship” as a good thing, and perhaps less hard to sell it to a wider audience if you can call it something less sinister. Like “social”-something. Like MAGA. But that doesn’t mean it’s not “authoritarian” (or, of course and in reality, fascism by another name). Should we have to defer to their preferences as to how their aims are described, at a brand level?

          I agree that “authoritarian socialist” is stupid (though “authoritarian fascist”, while accurate, is essentially just redundant) — but DeSantis is the one trying to wrap his authoritarianism in a “softer, more marketable package” of “social policy beneficial to all Floridians” (which is where an allusion to “socialism” makes any sense at all). But the Colorado governor’s inclusion of the word “authoritarian” is a useful way to describe what DeSantis is doing. And it has the added bonus of calling DeSantis out for the fraudulence of his version of deciding who should get to decide what’s best for society as a whole — and does so by raising the historical parallel in a pretty stark way, to boot.

      • Ken Muldrew says:

        He’s making the headlines in England. What does he have to do to get the same headlines in the U.S.?

        • Peterr says:

          He’s doing it.

          Google “Biden Disney” and you’ll see he has made similar headlines at The Hill, Deadline, CNN, the Miami Herald, Newsweek, and a variety of local Florida and Oregon media sites.

    • Purple Martin says:

      Speak of getting local news coverage, I’m in Seattle’s media market. Biden arrived here last night and has been here much of the day. Lots on Earth Day and climate change (preaching to the local choir)… haven’t seen anything on DeSantseyland (Disney)…guess I’ll check out the local news in a few minutes.

      Would be nice if Gov Inslee could come up with something similar to Polis.

      • Purple Martin says:

        OK top of the hour (after two local crime stories…sigh….):

        –Presciption drug prices are too damn high
        –Childcare costs are too damn high (tie-in to new childcare center at Green River Community College, both construction and rates federally-subsidized for students, allowing attendance that otherwise wouldn’t be possible…was better than it sounds)
        –Sign Executive Order Protect to protect more Old-Growth forest (“Saving some of the nation’s oldest trees, President Biden signed…”
        –Departure delayed by an hour be security something but will be in a few minutes.

        Thats all, five minutes or so. Would check Sinclair station to see if they say anything but they’re airing the NBA game. We’ll see if there’s any local any follow-up in the papers in the morning.

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks for that. Interesting what makes news broadcast in different parts of the country. I haven’t checked here but it’s probably local crime, auto industry, and more on protests following the horrific execution-by-cop in Grand Rapids.

          The Sinclair stations are pretty useless here in flyover country.

  5. Oxcart says:

    I’m not a general and I’m not a coach, but Biden vs Putin is both war and football.

    By Josh Marshall

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Marjorie TG is working hard to remember a response she was told to use to avoid a perjury rap. So far, she’s settled on, “I don’t recall,” to questions whose answers she obviously does recall. She’s not very bright or convincing, but she is stubborn.

    • Thomas says:

      Maybe you know the answer to this question:
      If a person is under oath and being questioned for a deposition or in front of a grand jury, and they SAY they don’t recall the answer to a question, but it can be proven that they DO RECALL it, then, can they be prosecuted for perjury?

        • Ewan says:

          Going further, if it appears that « I don’t recall » is a defence strategy, would it then lead to pierce attorney/client privilege (as preparing to do something unlawful) ? This is abstract musing, of course, but I am curious of the theory.

          • Dave_MB says:

            It can rarely be proven. The fact-finder can use demeanor and common sense to determine the credibility of the speaker and whether they believe them.

            You are allowed to ask them if they talked to the lawyer before testifying and what they talked about. You can ask in more detail for a witness than a party opponent.

    • John Herbison says:

      Rep. Greene’s claim that she can’t recall various matters, specifically including what she had previously said, should open the door to offer extrinsic evidence of her statements, which she would have no ability to rebut.

  7. massappeal says:

    Adding: this is why God created legislative hearings. Congressional Democrats could have dozens of oversight/investigative hearings a month (a week!) on any of a range of issues to put Republicans on the defensive. It remains a mystery to me why they don’t/haven’t.

    • Rayne says:

      Because they already do have hearings — hearings most Americans pay no attention to on the regular because there’s no blood or flames or media circus attached to them. They’re doing their goddamned jobs. Every circus hearing is time they’re not spending on other hearings like those this month on renewable energy in the farm bill; enhancing FARA; cyber security and the Russian threat; WMD proliferation; climate crisis; lend-lease program for Ukraine; budget after budget after budget; so on.

      There is some oversight along the way, but did the average Joe Constituent bother to contact their representative and ask them to ensure they pursued a specific line of oversight during the FARA enhancement hearing? Most likely not — and that’s where a HUGE part of the problem is, absolute apathy and disconnection on the part of the people from the government which is supposed to be of, by, and for them. You want more oversight hearings to appear on C-SPAN? Have you contacted your rep or senators and insisted on this?

      • Peterr says:

        There is also the sense that most of what passes for “oversight” is nothing more than political theater. That’s what the GOP has made of it, with all the Bengazi hearings and their cousins. Average folks have no patience for that kind of theater.

        But genuine oversight? That they will watch. Have a hearing and let the committee counsel take the lead on the questioning, rather than each rep or senator looking for their five minutes of glory, and folks will watch.

        • Rayne says:

          I wish I felt people would watch oversight. The public only appears to get worked up when there’s a particular person or issue at stake, like the KBJ nomination hearings. They’ll complain about the defense budget but I can’t recall seeing a single person point to the hearings about its approval. They’ll complain about Trump’s cohort like Flynn and Barrack who worked for other countries but didn’t bother with the Enhancing FARA hearing on April 5 (although I must admit nobody really wants to watch Jonathan Turley’s bullshit yet again to cover for the Trumpists).

          • massappeal says:

            “The public only appears to get worked up when there’s a particular person or issue at stake, like the KBJ nomination hearings. ”

            Yes, and it’s part of the job of a good politician to figure out (often by trial and error) how to use public hearings to tell a story so that there *is* a particular person or issue at stake so that citizens (who have their own busy lives) can grasp the story and make sense of it.

            • Rayne says:

              I’ll point back to the people again – if this is a government of, by, and for the people, they have to do more than the barest minimum to keep this republic. Voting is not enough and they can barely manage to do that without PR teams and cheerleaders goading them on.

              I’ll also point to my own experience: many of the electeds who are serving are people who showed up to run. That’s all they needed beyond meeting the Constitution’s criteria. We have leadership by default when not boosted by money. They’re not elected because they tick boxes on PR work. We see some of the worst most often because they are the loudest pains in the ass, not because they’re marvelous promoters. We’re expected electeds to do what should be on us.

              • massappeal says:

                Thanks for your response. We agree, I think, on the importance of an engaged citizenry, and that voting is not enough. That said, citizens are voting in greater numbers than they have in decades.

                We all have our roles to play, and when it comes to the very specific tactic of congressional hearings, only members (and committees) of Congress can do that. That’s something that’s not “on us”; it’s on them.

                For example, at the end of December the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 held a series of hearings; it drove a week’s worth of political coverage out of Washington. If they’d followed that up with a week of public hearings on one aspect of Jan. 6 (e.g., the role of militias in the attack), and then another week in March (e.g., the financing of the attack), and then a week this month (e.g., the Willard Hotel crowd), and another in May (e.g. the White House crowd), I suspect (and have no way of proving) it would have had a political impact.

                • Rayne says:

                  The hearings you wanted to have as follow-up would have come at the expense of investigation, right at the time when beaucoup was breaking loose. Right now they’re planning on hearings in May and they won’t be mere follow-ups.

        • FiestyBlueBird says:

          I doubt it. The guy four houses up from me with a former guy flag still flapping in the wind sure as hell isn’t gonna do that. I would. You would. Average folks? I doubt it. Average folks have neither the time nor the inclination even if they did have the time.

          That said, I do think Brian Lamb’s creation is one of the all time best ongoing contributions to this Republic if you can keep it, ever. And yet, it’s a niche.

          For more depressing shits and giggles, from May’s Harper’s Index:

          Percentage by which more Democrats aged 25 to 54 watch Tucker Carlson Tonight than The Rachel Maddow Show: 15

          Source: Nielsen (NYC)

          Frankly, I think we’re fucked.

          But I love this place, everyone’s posts, and the (mostly!) way brighter than me commenters here. Thanks.

          • Rayne says:

            Tricky part about that Nielsen survey: are they really Dems or just surveyed consumers fucking with the survey? Are they hate watchers? Because there are some folks who enjoy that. Urgh.

            I think we’re fucked because there are too many people who think they’re outside of politics but are wholly immersed in it and they’re easily manipulated — many of them the soccer mom crowd who having been persuaded (wrongly) vaccines are causing autism are now prey to more Russian active measures like the anti-vaxx crap. It’s less Carlson for them than whatever it is being pushed and amplified into their phones by friends and family on Facebook.

            • coral says:

              FWIW, no one I know who is under 40 watches TV news, not CNN, MSNBC or Fox or the network chanels. None has TV through cable. All have high-speed internet instead, and Netflix, maybe Hulu or HBO Max. Some read newspaper online, one regularly reads the New Yorker, some get news through Twitter or Facebook. They get weather & sports on their phones. Watch live sports only occasionally. None read blogs like this one (or TPM), and they are all Democrats. Not sure how messaging, no matter how well designed, can reach these folks–all of whom are stretched to the limit by work and children.

              • bmaz says:

                Are those the same pissy ass young twatwaffles that are so disinterested in voting for Dems right now? Maybe they could do with a little broader and better new consumption, including this blog.

              • Rayne says:

                I have two kids under 30. They and their friends get most of their news through Twitter and Facebook, more the former than the latter. The local news they get is served by Google News. They still get blog content but it’s usually through a social media feed. But they aren’t the ones we need to worry about.

                Their 40-year-old step-sibling lives in an area underserved by wireless and no cable. They consume broadcast because it’s free and accessible. Wouldn’t you know it but this sibling is the most conservative now.

                • Ewan says:

                  Google news feed is a very efficient source of disinformation, because it has the veneer of real, journal based news.
                  On one topic you will find USA today, Deseret news, CNN, but also 5/10 headlines of other « newspapers » you have never heard about before, but hey, it’s a big country, and they talk about some « alternative facts » apparently, and the headline is very explosive. It is in Google News, so it isn’t just some random guy writing whatever, there is a newsroom behind this, you are implicitly lead to think. Extremely dangerous.

                  To make matters worse, many mainstream newspaper have adopted the same type of clickbait internet title, so you cannot discard every outrageous title as being from a robot, so you have to let your mind read all these bizarre unsettling and depressing titles. It reminds me of the dianetics wellness questionnaires the scientologists handed in the streets a while ago, in some way.

                  • Rayne says:

                    I don’t know what YOUR Google News feed looks like, but my local news looks like the newspaper here, three TV stations, two radio stations, and local public broadcasting. All legit.

                    Are you actively pruning your own list? Because that’s an issue for many people — they never use the tools they’re given to weed the content they’re offered. Have you ever complained about the content in your feed? Because I’ve done that about the national feed on my desktop; no op-ed content should appear as news and when offered should be clearly marked ‘opinion’.

                    For the record, my local news didn’t need pruning. I’ve also checked the feed for the city in which my adult kids live, and the Florida city in which my parents live. All local and legit content though all local news suffers from the same if-it-bleeds-it-leads mode of operation which only increases support for militarization of police.

      • Thomas says:

        If the Republicans gain control of the House this year, then we will have pointless political circus hearings 24/7, where they will make false accusations, slanders, false grievances, lies, conspiracy theories and demands for fake prosecutions the center of their agenda.
        Because you see, the agit prop clowns don’t know how to do anything else.

      • Scott Johnson says:

        One difference between the Democrats and the GOP:

        The Democrats are a traditional political party, who attempt to actually, you know, govern. And it’s generally assumed that Democratic pols should have some knowledge, as much as possible for a generalist legislator, about what they are voting on, particularly on subjects relevant to a congressperson’s committees.

        The GOP is merely the political arm of a wider-ranging–I’ll use the word that Hillary uses–conspiracy. GOP pols these days are expected to look good on the stump, get elected, and vote as their told; the actual work of drafting legislation is, in many cases, outsourced to entities like ALEC. Why waste time on debate when you already have the votes to pass what has already been written, when you instead can use the committee investigatory powers to hamstring and harass the political opposition?

      • massappeal says:

        Thanks for your response. I’m aware they do have hearings; and for what little it’s worth, I speak with my federal representatives’ offices regularly. (And “average Joe Constituent” does not; most people aren’t political obsessives like…well, me…and many (most? all?) of us commenting here.)

        Even without the disinformation campaigns, it’s a challenge to capture public and media attention. That doesn’t absolve Democratic politicians from trying. Public hearings aren’t the be-all and end-all, but (among other things) they’re an important way to tell long and complicated stories that matter, and to (sometimes) change the political landscape (and public opinion).

        Marjorie Taylor Greene is an obscure, minor, first-term member of Congress but she’s a lead story today. Why? Because her sworn testimony yesterday about Jan. 6 was televised (by the Georgia courts). Reporters could write a different story than a “he said-she said” between members of Congress stopped in the hallways by packs of journalists; and, more importantly, citizens could read and hear and watch her testimony and form their own judgments.

        • BruceF says:

          Looking forward to the J6SC hearings, but I find myself wondering what kind of counter-programming we might anticipate. The summary of Durham’s single flimsy case offered here makes me doubt that will be enough to pull eyeballs away from Liz Cheney and Jamie Raskin. Faux has been desperately attempting to resurrect Hunter Biden–but they seem to be flailing encountering very little success with that old horse. I find myself wondering if we will see an early summer Caravan being formed up in Central America as a sure fired Faux treat for their viewers. Finally, I am concerned we will see the Saudi’s come through with $7 per gallon gas prices on behalf of their Republican friends!

          • bmaz says:

            “Counter-programming” with what exactly? And, understand, no Durham trial, nor pre-trial proceedings, will be on TV, so those are not equivalent things. The “eyeballs” potential are not remotely equal nor analogous.

            • BruceF says:

              Distracting “shiny objects” and the fomenting of alternative “crises” for media to cover will be forth coming! They will emerge in a timely fashion! Count on it…be ready for them…have a plan to neutralize them by keeping media focused! If you wish to win the battle you need to anticipate and counter!

  8. Nan McConnochie says:

    Biden is boring but boring as in good. He goes to work each day and he gets things done.I found the discussion on reporting on Earth day and Seattle interesting.The question is for America, with all your problems and Biden having to deal with one crisis following another does he insert himself into the Disney story. Yes but only at the level he did Mickey s good.
    BUT there is more going on in the corporate world such as Elon Musk and Twitter. because the shareholders are meant to get more than the first bid made. What it all boils down too, do you all wish to have Elon Musk in your media space? or the Sinclairs, the smiths and Murdoch.
    For unfortunately it s not for the President to redesign the landscape. A wee bit of pruning and and bit of a tie back but otherwise he’s at the mercy of all of you. Polls or no polls.

    • bmaz says:

      Well maybe Biden could get off his rear and do something actually constructive about the relentless extermination and genocide of the Ukrainian people and their sovereign nation state? Maybe old slow and boring Joe could try that instead of yammering to reporters that he is sending yet another planeload of weapons too late, dollars short and far behind the curve. Maybe he needs to have some guts and actually lead on foreign relations and, yes, it really is the job of a POTUS to do that, not sit back and lamely “prune” a fictional bush.

      • Max404 says:

        Dear bmaz,

        The US has on all measures sent way, way more aid to Ukraine than any other of the supporting nations. Not even close.

        The situation in Germany is pathetic. The governing coalition is deeply divided with the “pacifist” Greens urging much more and more lethal aid, the “business-friendly” FDP as well, despite the deep ties between German business and Russia, and the SPD tying itself in knots in fear of “WWIII” caused by “provoking Russia”. See the reliable Matthew Karnitschnig from on that:

        The US is sending now large numbers of Howitzers and other tools more appropriate for the war in the east. It is not clear if the Ukrainians will be able to push the Russians back, or „just“ mire them in a bloody unending battle that drains Russia and eventually causes Putin‘s demise.

        So although I would never risk my life criticizing your comments on law and procedure, I am not that stupid, this comment of yours really sounds like the ramblings of a crotchety old sun-baked fart who watches too much tv.

        The real question is what happens when a desperate Putin attacks a support convoy in NATO territory. On that I highly recommend the analysis of the Alphen Group, rarely posting but when available, well worth reading.

        If that happens, and the US and NATO do not respond, NATO is over. Heaven help us then.

        Blinken and Austin are in Kiev today.

        Greetings from Berlin.


        • bmaz says:

          First off “Max”, I am not your “dear”. Secondly, while I may indeed be a “crotchety old sun-baked fart who watches too much tv”, you can still take that description and shove it. I am currently watching the end of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola by the way (It did not go well for the home team, Ferrari) .

          As to TAG, yes I know them and their positions are usually pretty interesting. I had already seen the current post. Lastly, I remain of the thought that it is a dereliction of duty to humanity to not do more to stop the extermination of the Ukraine people and their sovereign nation. The US can find a “coalition of the willing” to unconscionably invade Iraq, but can’t find the muster to put a stop to this genocide? Because of sacred NATO borders? What a crock.

          • Max404 says:

            Ok bmaz, just because I use polite speech and start a letter with „dear“ doesn‘t mean you have to get upset. I guess I hit a nerve. You will be OK.

            If you are spending your tv time watching a bunch of grand pricks spew belch and fart petrol exhaust for hours and days on end shortening the lives of future generations just so old farts like you can get your stims, you need to think twice. (Yes I drive an e-car, a very small one and not a Tesla). Formula one makes me want to puke, sorry.

            Now that I have gotten my ad-hominems in, the serious issue here is that there is a major proxy war going on nearby. Biden has not hidden his position that he believes that the mission of his presidency is the saving of democracy, and he has not hidden his laying of blame on Putin. What do you want him to do now, send US soldiers and air personnel in, risking the entire operation just when it is going in the right direction ? That will happen soon enough if Alphen is correct, but in the meantime the pressure on Putin is increasing daily. If Putin reacts by attacking NATO supply lines, Biden will have his case made. If Putin does not, the Ukranians will have – hopefully – the firepower to do the job. (Why else are Austin and Blinken there today?) If the Ukranians can push back, then imagine the coming summer: Putin‘s camp in disarray, the J6 committee hearings done and findings out, the DOJ cases against the big fish all over the headlines. Just in time for the campaign.

            Normally you complain about the folks that say Merrick Garland is going too slowly, and I agree with you. Step by step. On this one as well. Step by step. Of course the Russians need to be stopped and turned back and bleeding them to death in the process might help the anti-Putin forces in Russia.

            • bmaz says:

              You did not “hit a nerve”, you are just an intentionally belligerent jerk, and for no good reason other than to be an intentional irritant here. If that is your goal, I guess you are winning.

              If you want to go to war with me, I usually get paid for that. I do not here. So, reel in your attitude and stick to pertinent content, which you are clearly competent at.

              • Max404 says:

                Sorry ! And thanks for the kind words. I admit I provoked you, though not meant as an aggression.

                Your original post however was wrong, deeply, and not helpful either, in my opinion:

                Well maybe Biden could get off his rear and do something actually constructive …

                What I have tried to say with my responses is that Biden has a strategy, it is the right strategy, and he is „threading the needle“ with wobbly allies like Germany and Russian agents all over the Republican party ready to trip him up. I think the extremely dangerous situation we are in requires cool heads and strategic thinking, and courage, and not the kind of comments („old slow and boring Joe“) that belittle the person and weaken him. Not good. So that is why I wrote my comments.

  9. Randy Baker says:

    Can’t agree more that D’s need to ram the garbage the R’s spew back down their throats. I would add only that the public view that Biden is weak on Ukraine likely is in large part a consequence of the public view that Biden is weak– period. The public view is he was weak in Afghanistan, he is weak on inflation, he is weak on the economy etc. None of these propositions withstands scrutiny. [Indeed polls show personally people profess to be doing well economically] I think these beliefs reflect in significant part that the mainstream media, not FOX, but CBS, NBC et al., have been slanting significantly R at least since the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden manifestly pissed off much of the mainstream foreign policy establishment in so doing. His leaning towards a New Deal approach with Build Back Better pissed off the corporate elite in general — and, no less a barometer of corporate elite opinion than Larry Summers has shown where they stand.

    By the way, the high inflation that Summers predicted would be caused by Bidens’ stimulus last year, is within 1%-2% of the inflation rate in W. Europe. I am sure he has an explanation of how Biden’s stimulus caused that — he probably is waiting for the appropriate moment to unveil it.

    So, yes, the D’s only hope is to aggressively fight back. And while Biden et al need to do more, unless I am grossly mistaken about mainstream media now having aligned with the R’s, the D’s will need to put the kind of resources into grass roots door to door type stuff that Bernie and Warren almost succeeded with. Fortunately for us all, I don’t think the mainstream is pushing as hard against Biden, who after all is a mainstream guy basically, as they did against Sanders and Warren who are not.

    • bmaz says:

      No, it is because Biden really has been weak and feckless on Ukraine. And that sure stands any scrutiny from where I sit. It has been beyond weak.

      Also, too, it is hilarious how everybody thinks the problems are the fault of “the mainstream media”. Maybe it is just that there are a majority of people that don’t, won’t or can’t, pay sufficient attention.

      • Rayne says:

        This is an issue on which we’d have to agree to disagree. We don’t have Biden’s access to intelligence to be certain he could do more let alone what he’s done. The US needs to avoid looking like it’s directly at war with Russia let alone that it’s telling NATO how to respond to Russia. Nor can the US shoot its entire economic and political arsenal all at once or it leaves itself nothing more to use in what is and will be a protracted war of attrition.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, I dunno, I think the US, EU and NATO can act like they give a damn about the principles they have always purported to care about and stand for. KJU also has nukes. Should all of the above cower in his path too? If SK and Japan can be “partners” why can’t Ukraine? This is sheer cowardice. And the willing acceptance of genocide and extermination.

          • Rayne says:

            As I said we’re not going to agree. Completely different scenarios in the Pacific versus EU-Ukraine-Russia.

            And if KJU invaded neighbor SK the response would be wholly different, too. The 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty has more teeth than the 1994 Budapest Memo, and we already have military bases in SK.

            • bmaz says:

              So where all is it exactly, with the US being the supposed moral authority of the world, that the most heinous genocide and extermination we have seen in our lifetime you are willing to sanction (other than with cheap financial sanctions Putin could care less about)? If you cannot address with meaning it as to Ukraine, then exactly when? The so called “First World Countries” are complete cowards and feeble jerks. It is embarrassing.

              • Rayne says:

                Knock yourself out, start advocating with the GOP Senate members. This is still a democracy and you’re going to have to have the approval of the Senate to authorize military force in Ukraine, which would be tantamount to a declaration of war on Russia, the GOP’s sponsor, and the possible devolution in to a kinetic world war.

                Doing so would also open the entire EU to kinetic warfare potentially including chemical and nuclear weapons.

              • cmarlowe says:

                It is important to recognize that our power is finite and often highly constrained. Sometimes we can help a lot (Kosovo), sometimes we can help up to a point, sometimes not at all.

                • bmaz says:

                  It is important to recognize that the US power alone far supersedes that of Putin, and that is before factoring the EU, UK and all other aligned counties.

                  Maybe all that ought stand for not accepting extermination and genocide again.

                  • cmarlowe says:

                    So, I’m just gaming this out. US power alone could control the air (and the Black Sea for that matter), then pretty much vaporize the entire mostly incompetent Russian expeditionary force in a relatively short amount of time using combined arms. Then what do you think would happen?

                  • Phaedruses says:

                    Bmaz the problem with your argument here is installing US military assets into the Ukraine theater of operations. This means we have to determine with what are the rules of engagement? Every military deployment that risks hostile actions have rules of engagement for the troops to follow, every one no exceptions.

                    Do we limit the troops hostile activity to inside the borders of Ukraine, including the Russian occupied territories?

                    If so the Russians can fire on them from Russian soil at will and we have little recourse except for defensive measures. Just like they have done to the cities of Ukraine, with missiles from ground launches and air assets that fire from inside Russia proper at targets inside Ukraine, and from Black Sea naval assets mostly subs ATM (since the sinking of the Moskova, the Russians have gone to sub launched missile strikes against Southern Ukraine targets to as to obfuscate the threat the Ukrainian anti ship missiles pose, their surface fleet has been moved out of range)

                    If we allow US forces to return fire at their attackers at will, we will soon have air assets flying into Russia attacking their military assets, and troops on the ground firing into russia at the Russian troops who attacked them (IE counter battery fire)which is a declaration of war against Russia proper. Also do we attack the equipment and log trains inside Russia before they can be deployed to Ukraine? Makes total military sense but …..

                    …. we are at war with Russia inside Russia again, some NATO (Hungrary, Germany among others) members probably aren’t very thrilled with the US at this time…


                    Any response from Russia against our forces puts NATO into the war.

                    I’m sure President Biden has spoken with other leadership of NATO about this, and they do NOT want Russia attacking NATO countries, most of which are MUCH closer to the battle field than we currently are. My guess Hungary and Germany (among others) probably would not agree, as this is not a NATO operation and they only agreed to backing NATO.

                    This is also not to mention the logistical requirements for setting up US operations for Air Force and ground troops which takes time.

                    In the case of Operation Desert Storm it took almost 6 months for the US to be ready to go toe to toe with Saddam and his Army a much weaker army than the Russian could muster. To push 4 to 5 Armor/Mech Infantry divisions (the minimum it would take for a proper US response) across Ukraine along with the required logistics tail that entails means probably 6-9 months of set up operations. A M1Tank uses 3 gallons of basically aviation fuel to go 1 mile. They cannot use regular diesel because of the turbine that they use. A US armored division has around 250 tanks among other armored equipment all M1’s so using three armored divisions would mean 750 tanks that take 3+ gallons for every mile the move. In Operation Desert Storm we have 2 logistics battalions for every division so they tanks didn’t run out of fuel or ammo. The same would have to be done here. That means we would need to source enough tanker trucks and aviation fuel to keep those tanks running for the time it takes to push the Russian back as far as the Mission statement requires. (PS the Saudis probably won’t be handing over the fuel like they did in Desert Storm)

                    BTW we don’t have a close port to the theater of operations, we would be using Gdansk Poland , Bremerhaven Germany (If the Germans agreed) and Trieste Italy to off load the equipment from the USA and logistics, as well as move all the propositioned equipment in Germany to the Ukrainian front. This would take time, and of course agreements from host nations. The logistics tail for operations would also have to be structured to use these ports and the required transportation to the first in country logistics base where the military log brigades and divisional log battalions take over.

                    Does the situation suck, YES, however given the limitations he faces and refusal of Germany and others to step up, there is not a whole lot more President Biden can do;

                    From what I can gather President Zenelsky thinks he is doing a damned fine job at the moment, and this Desert Storm veteran agrees.

                    • bmaz says:

                      I do not give a damn. This is wholesale genocide. Failure to do more to stop it is sheer moral cowardice, and don’t think China is not watching and learning that the first world are cowards that will not confront a bully because he has nukes. “Never again…unless the genocidal maniac has nukes” is not a good look. And, yes, there is a hell of a lot more Biden can do and push for. The US won’t even sanction Putin’s mistress, deeming it “too confrontational”. That is complete cowardice. Biden’s response so far has been pathetic. Let’s give Zelinsky a few more weapons while Ukraine is being systematically obliterated is not a good plan. That’s the “problem with your argument”, and it did not take me twelve paragraphs to respond.

                      PS: As I am typing this, the Russians are shelling evacuation trains in Eastern Ukraine. Guess that is hunky dory because, shit, there is just nothing anybody can do.

  10. Dave_MBhe sit says:

    I personally enjoy TPM. The site serves a different purpose than this one. I like the commenters and the community there.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please double check your entries in username/email/url fields when commenting. You have 52 previous comments here as “Dave_MB“; it looks like you may have had a typographic error on this comment. /~Rayne]

      • Dave_MB says:

        Absolutely. There’s a lot of good people that comment regularly. A lot of interesting insightful articles are posted in the comments section. I think the community and cameraderie between the regulars is better than here. (Sorry)

        Plus their commenting software is excellent. You can see who likes or replies to your posts and DM others directly. Plus there’s a historical record of your comments.

        The commenting community is the best part of the site.

        I’ll agree with the main premise that TPM doesn’t \provide Talking Points for Democrats to follow.

        • Rayne says:

          The TPM comments come at a price and apparently you’re willing to pay it. Like collection of personally identifying information which requires opt-in/-out to avoid having it ‘shared’ with third parties.

          We only collect enough info to know whether you are the same entity which posted the last comment under a username, and even that gets skated around frequently by sockpuppets and trolls. We sell none of our information, ever.

          I personally trust no site which sells commenters’ data especially if they report on the surveillance state and privacy rights.

Comments are closed.