Morning Reads

As we continue our effort to keep you up-to-date on how money corrupts American government and politics, as well as other news of the day, we’re pleased to publish this daily digest compiled by’s Michael Winship.

Let the sniping begin –> Negotiators had barely finished collating the 150 pages of the tentative agreement regulating Iran’s nuclear program when the screaming began (not that it’s ever really stopped during this whole process). That’s why, as Sarah Lazare writes at Common Dreams, “The U.S. anti-war base faces a critical opening to mobilize and prevent hawkish lawmakers in Congress from sabotaging a historic opportunity for military de-escalation, campaigners urged Tuesday.”

Opponents of the deal are falling all over themselves finding fault and shouting, “Treason!” Media Matters has a handy guide to the right wing’s feverish Twitter traffic. But despite the fierce opposition of Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, an editorial in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz declares, “Israel must now join the international community and share in its misgivings, but also share the hope the agreement represents. The countries that signed it also provide the safety net that can guarantee Israel’s safety and security.”

Good luck trying to follow this money –>  In a Washington Post story headlined, “Groups backed by secret donors take the lead in shaping 2016 elections,” Matea Gold writes, “…Tax-exempt groups — which can keep their donors secret even as they sponsor hard-hitting ads — are being increasingly embraced by campaign operatives looking for new ways to influence the political environment. While such ‘social welfare’ organizations are not supposed to be primarily focused on elections, they face little oversight from a deadlocked Federal Election Commission or the Internal Revenue Service… In the absence of such scrutiny, political nonprofits are poised to take on their biggest role yet in the coming federal elections.” AND, USA Today: “Money from wealthy political patrons is gushing into the 2016 presidential contest, racing past the fundraising of Republican candidates themselves as donors seek new ways to influence who wins the party’s nomination.”

“If folks have served their time…they should be able to vote” –> President Obama made his big speech on the criminal justice system on Tuesday. He called for “a review of the overuse of solitary confinement” and urged restoring the right to vote for those who have successfully completed their sentences. On Thursday, he visits the federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma. Before he goes, he should read Andrew Cohen’s article at the Brennan Center for Justice website. Cohen says the president will be entering “a bureaucratic fiefdom that is nearly as sprawling as the Department of Defense and in many ways as secret and unaccountable to the public and lawmakers as the CIA or the NSA. This even though 168,139 men and women (not counting 40,000 or so prisoners held in federal custody in private prisons) are incarcerated daily in a system staffed by approximately 40,000 federal employees.”

Hey, Pluto! –> AP: “Until New Horizons phoned home Tuesday night, there was no guarantee the spacecraft had buzzed the small, icy, faraway — but no longer unknown — world.” Now that it’s official, for the latest, go to NASA’s New Horizons website and check out Emily Lakdawalla’s “Snapshots from Space” blog at the Planetary Society’s website. Then read Tim McDonnell at Mother Jones: “Ted Cruz Is Really Excited About Pluto. So Why Does He Want to Cripple NASA?” (And don’t forget “Chasing Pluto,” tonight’s NOVA on PBS.)

And on the next “Antiques Roadshow…” –> Pennsylvania’s attorney general has filed “wide-ranging” corruption charges against Stephen Reed, the former mayor of Harrisburg, Pa., including, according to WFMZ in Allentown, “allegations he unlawfully used public money from various agencies to buy hundreds of artifacts for a planned Wild West museum and other historical attractions… Artifacts bought by Reed on trips across the country at taxpayers’ expense include a life-sized sarcophagus, a full suit of armor and a ‘vampire hunting kit,’ according to court documents released by the attorney general.” Asked for reaction, the former mayor said, “Bewildered would be the right word.” Join the club.


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