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.

Happy Birthday, Medicare and Medicaid! –> Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the two Great Society health insurance programs. Sarah Lazare at Common Dreams writes that events were held around the country to celebrate, “organized by a broad array of organizations including Physicians for a National Health Program, Alliance for Retired Americans, National Nurses United (NNU), and Public Citizen.” Bernie Sanders spoke at a Washington, DC, rally and reiterated his support for a single-payer system to cover “every man, woman and child.”

At The American Prospect, Harold Pollack, Bill Gardner and Timothy Jost mark the anniversary by hailing Medicaid and noting that,”Whatever happens in next year’s presidential election, Medicaid will be the center of a great political fight. If the Democrats win, they should seek to expand the program to cover nearly four million poor and uninsured Americans shut out of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. If the Republicans win, they will likely reduce Medicaid funding, and perhaps convert the whole program into a block grant.”

Dialing for dollars –> Today’s the day we’ll learn a lot about who’s bankrolling the herd of presidential candidates. CNN Politics: “Most super PACs have already released top-line figures for the amount of money they raised in the first half of the year. But on Friday, the actual reports will reveal which of the nation’s mega-donors have chosen to back their campaigns… Political observers are looking to [see] if any surprise names who have cut million-dollar checks to their favorite candidate turn up and to see how split is the powerful Koch Brothers network of donors, which meets this weekend in California.”

When in doubt, shut down the government –> It’s the legislative equivalent of holding your breath until you turn purple. Once again, many congressional Republicans are threatening to close the government down unless they get what they want — in this case, defunding Planned Parenthood. NYT’s Jennifer Steinhauer: “These moves by Republicans bother party leaders, who want to keep the government funded without big policy fights, even on things they support. The leaders are also concerned about the pressure such tactics put on Republican senators up for re-election in swing states next year.”

You’ve got to be carefully taught –> Casey Quinlan at ThinkProgress reports that The College Board has caved to right-wing pressure. It will now mention “American exceptionalism” and make other changes in its recommended curriculum for advanced placement US history — courses that high school students take for college credit. Quinlan notes, “The AP standards are just one piece of the debate over how to accurately cover American history, especially if you intend to describe the actual experiences of people other than white, landowning men. Texas also recently changed its state academic guidelines, which means its new textbooks won’t mention the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws.”

Law enforcement as municipal money maker –> In the wake of the deaths of African-Americans Sandra Bland, Walter Scott and Sam DuBose, all of which were set into motion when they were pulled over for traffic violations, Mother Jones’ Jack Hitt makes an infuriating point — that many tickets are shakedowns, written by police not to enforce the law but to generate cash in municipalities where the tax base is thin. “When you ask why such ‘bad’ cops are nevertheless armed and allowed to patrol the streets,” Hitt writes, “one begins to see that lurking beneath this violence is a fiscal menace: police departments forced to assist city officials in raising revenue, in many cases funding their own salaries — redirecting the very concept of keeping the peace into underwriting the budget.”

“I just binge-read eight books by Donald Trump.” –> You’re a better — or more compulsive — man than I am, Carlos Lozada. The Washington Post associate editor plowed through the complete works of The Donald and tells us what he learned. To wit, “Trump’s world is binary, divided into class acts and total losers. He even details how physically unattractive he finds particular reporters, for no reason that I can fathom other than that it crossed his mind. The discipline of book writing does not dilute Trump; it renders him in concentrated form. Restraint is for losers.”  Oh, and Trump’s biggest romantic regret: “I never had the opportunity to court Lady Diana Spencer. . . a dream lady.” In a word, yikes.

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