Morning Reads

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On this date in 1876, the most controversial election in American history — yes, including 2000 — was finally decided just two days before the inauguration when Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, governor of Ohio, was named the winner over Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden, governor of New York. Tilden had won the popular vote, but four states’ Electoral College votes remained in dispute. The parties finally agreed to a deal: Rutherford would take the White House and the federal government would withdraw its troops from the South, ending Reconstruction. The agreement would allow the South to effectively rebuild its exploitative plantation economy.


  • On Friday, House Republicans gave their leaders an embarrassing defeat by voting down a plan to extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security for three weeks — a bill that would have created time to end an impasse over Obama’s immigration actions. At WaPo’s Monkey Cage blog, University of Virginia political scientist Jeffery Jenkins explains just how rare such a defeat is for a Speaker of the House like John Boehner.
  • After the bill’s defeat, Democrats helped Boehner pass a one-week spending bill. Alex Brown reports for National Journal that Nancy Pelosi says that in exchange for the lifesaver, Boehner has promised her caucus a “clean” one-year funding vote on Thursday .
  • Fox News reports that talk of a deal with House Democrats “has reignited rumblings about a Boehner coup.”
  • Salon’s Simon Maloy writes, “…The story of the first two months of the all-Republican Congress has been complete dysfunction and the inability to perform the rudimentary tasks of government” — and predicts that it’s not going to get any better.

There Are No Longer Any Limits” — On Friday, shortly after  calling for Russians to engage in a mass protest against Vladimir Putin’s leadership, Boris Nemtsov, one of Russia’s most effective opposition leaders, was gunned down as he walked across a Moscow bridge. In the NYT Magazine, Julia Ioffe writes that the shooting has unnerved “Moscow’s embattled liberals” and says the Kremlin is “muddying the waters” around Nemtsov’s killing with an array of improbable theories about who perpetrated the crime.

Blaming the victim –> Oliver Laughland reports for The Guardian that the city of Cleveland is arguing that “the death of Tamir Rice was ‘directly and proximately’ caused by the 12-year-old’s own actions,” and those of his surviving family. This despite the fact that a 911 caller had said Rice was probably carrying a toy, and that one of the two officers involved in the shooting “had been judged unfit for service by another department two years previously.”

Money primary –> Nicholas Confessore and Jonathan Martin report for the NYT that, “Long before the season of baby-kissing and caucus-going begins in early primary states,” potential GOP 2016 contenders “are making cases to exclusive gatherings of donors whose wealth, fully unleashed by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, has granted them the kind of influence… once held by urban political bosses and party chairmen.” AND: Looking ahead to a tough primary fight, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told Fox News that he’s changed his mind about immigration and no longer favors comprehensive reform as he has in the past because it includes a path to citizenship. (Via: Politico.)

Busted –> Another day, and another story of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s adventures unravels. This time, it’s O’Reilly’s repeated claim that he was outside the Florida home of a friend of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and heard the shotgun blast when the friend killed himself. CNN obtained a recording of O’Reilly being informed of the suicide by telephone and promising to travel to Florida the next day.

Lies and videotape –> A disabled veteran in Louisiana served a police officer with a lawsuit, and was soon arrested on charges of assaulting the officer. Seven witnesses — all cops and prosecutors — swore that they saw the assault, but video of the incident shows that the man never touched the officer. Charges against the man were eventually dropped, but WaPo’s Radley Balko asks, “Why aren’t the seven witnesses to [this] nonexistent assault… already facing felony charges? Why are all but one of the cops who filed false reports still wearing badges and collecting paychecks? Why aren’t the attorneys who filed false reports facing disbarment?”

Not-so-credible-sources –> Fox News and other conservative media outlets are running with a report that the Israeli government decided to launch airstrikes against Iran but the Obama administration threatened to shoot down their aircraft. What they don’t mention is that the report by the Ma’an News Agency cites a Kuwaiti newspaper that based its story on a single unnamed source in Israel. MEANWHILE: The man who supposedly prepared the airstrikes, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, tells the Times of Israel that there were in fact high-level discussions about attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, but he opposed the idea and it never got beyond the discussion stage.

Who can claim to be Christian? –> Ana Marie Cox, the founder of Wonkette, writes at The Daily Beast that she’s hesitant to “come out” to people by acknowledging that she’s a faithful Christian. “I’m not scared that non-believers will make me feel an outcast,” she writes, “I’m scared that Christians will.” Cox relates that anxiety to charges by conservatives like Erick Erickson that the Obamas and others on the political left aren’t real Christians.

FYI –> According to archeologists, “most if not all” of the historic statues that Islamic State fighters destroyed in a Mosul museum last week were replicas. The UK’s Channel Four News has that story. AND: Now that the identity of “Jihad John” has been revealed as British national Mohammed Emwazi, AP reports that his usefulness as a propaganda tool may turn into a liability — and that Emwazi is likely to become a target of US drones. (Via: the CBC.)

The wrongest column ever? –> Newsweek republished a 20-year old technology column predicting that the Internet — “a wasteland of unfiltered data” — wouldn’t amount to much and scoffing at the very idea that e-commerce could take off or that people might eventually get their news online.

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