What We're Reading

Morning Reads: Ready or Not, Here Come the Primaries

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: Ready or Not, Here Come the Primaries

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets diners at Riley's Cafe on January 24, 2016 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

There was a blizzard. Perhaps you heard. Here’s what we’re reading as we dig out…

Ready or not… –> We have a week until the Iowa caucuses, and then roughly another week until the New Hampshire primary. At The Atlantic, Julian Zelizer recalls how in 1976, Jimmy Carter “revolutionized” the Iowa caucus and became the first in a “long history of surprise candidates doing well in the Iowa caucuses and defeating the ‘inevitable’ nominees.”

Anyone but Trump –> The editors of the conservative National Review are hoping for such an upset, gravely declaring that frontrunner Donald Trump is a “philosophically unmoored political opportunist” who would be too dangerous for their party — a stand that resulted in the magazine being disinvited from hosting debates.

Except for that guy –> Meanwhile, many other establishment Republicans are rushing to differentiate Cruz from Trump. “Cruz isn’t a good guy, and he’d be impossible as president. People don’t trust him. And regardless of what your concern is with Trump, he’s pragmatic enough to get something done. I also don’t see malice in Trump like I see with Cruz,” Republican Congressman Peter King of New York told The Washington Post.

Those who live in glass houses… –> These stances ignore the role that conservative politicians and the conservative media, of which the National Review is a part, played in creating the no-compromise electorate that finds Trump and Cruz so appealing, and that the Republican establishment wishes to disown. “Any real attempt to write Donald Trump out of the Republican Party needs to engage, head on, with the fact that Donald Trump is currently polling far ahead of the field with people who identify as Republican voters,” writes Tom Scocca at Gawker. “What is the conservative movement if it is not the way that voters who identify as conservative are moving?”

AND: At the History News Network, Rick Shenkman writes that Trump’s campaign is more about his voters’ issues than it is about the issues facing America. “What counts is not what the candidates look like or how they talk but how they make us feel about ourselves. It’s not, then, as is usually argued, just politicians who are narcissistic. So are we, the voters. How the candidates make us feel is paramount.”

Center challenge? –> Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman at The New York Times: “Michael R. Bloomberg has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race. His advisers and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump’s dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton’s stumbles and the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side.”

Meanwhile, on the left –> With Sanders continuing to rise in the polls, liberal commentators are taking a harder look at whether or not they want him as the Democratic candidate. At Politico, American Prospect editor Paul Starr takes Sanders to task, arguing his proposals are not serious suggestions of what can get done in American government. Meanwhile, at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that if Sanders wants to be a revolutionary and offer idealistic proposals, he needs to step up on race. And Politico’s Glenn Thrush feels that, in an interview, Obama appeared to have an “obvious affection for Clinton” and an “implicit feeling that she, not Sanders, best understands the unpalatably pragmatic demands of a presidency he likens to the world’s most challenging walk-and-chew-gum exercise.”

New rules for natural gas –> “The Obama administration on Friday proposed new rules that would lead to a crackdown on oil and gas wells that vent or flare methane into the atmosphere on public and tribal lands. Methane is about 35 times as potent as carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas driving climate change over the span of a century, and it’s the chief component of natural gas produced in the U.S.” Bobby Magill writes for Climate Central, via Scientific American.

Short attention span –> “In 2010, the S.E.C. told companies how it expected them to address the risks posed by climate change in their regular securities filings,” writes David Gelles for The New York Times. “Initially, the S.E.C. appeared to put muscle behind its guidance. In the two years after the interpretive guidance, the S.E.C. issued 49 comment letters to companies addressing the adequacy of their climate change disclosures. But it issued only three such letters in 2012 and none in 2013. To advocates of more robust climate change disclosure, the impression was that the S.E.C. had taken its eye off the ball.”

Voters take NC to court –> “On Monday, residents of North Carolina are taking the state to court, arguing that North Carolina legislators designed a new voter ID law to stifle growing minority turnout that threatened the Republican majority in Raleigh,” writes Alice Ollstein at ThinkProgress. The trial is expected to last up to a week.

Another perspective –> The first drone strike Obama ever ordered, three days into his presidency, did not reportedly hit the terrorist target it was meant to kill. But it did kill several members of one civilian family and blind a boy, who at the time was 14. Seven years and hundreds of drone strikes later, The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman tells the story of what that boy, Faheem Qureshi, is up to.

Today’s Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Theresa Riley.


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