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.

The two “debates” –> Counting the Happy Hour debate of the seven candidates with the lowest poll numbers earlier in the day, more than three hours of Republican rhetoric descended on Cleveland Thursday. The biggest surprise was the relative toughness of the questions asked by the Fox News moderators. And while the hope was that the primetime confrontation of the top ten candidates would give valuable exposure to all, once again it was Donald Trump who dominated mainstream media coverage, no matter what the others in the race had to say. The Washington Post: “Donald Trump landed on the Republican debate stage like a hand grenade here on Thursday night — serving notice that he may run as an independent if he does not get the party’s nomination, dismissing criticism of his insulting comments about women as ‘political correctness’ and flatly calling the nation’s leaders ‘stupid.'”

Pema Levy at Mother Jones has “The 5 Unmissable Moments From the Big GOP Showdown,” including Trump’s misogynistic denial of his misogyny, his claim that before him no one was talking about immigration, the Christie/Paul shoutdown on NSA surveillance, and Ben Carson’s vague defense of waterboarding (almost as strange as his closing statement that among those on stage he was “the only one to separate Siamese twins.”) According to The Nation’s DD Guttenplan, “… For anyone outside the Beltway bubble the proceedings were profoundly depressing… On tonight’s evidence America (or at least that portion of America represented by the Ohio GOP’s invited audience) is a country that applauds a bully, fears all foreigners, knows that the system is rigged to favor the rich—and will fight to the death to keep it that way.”

And The Atlantic’s David Graham writes, “The discussion of race relations, the biggest news story of the last year, was notably sparse. It took more than 90 minutes until a candidate received a #BlackLivesMatter question…” (Nor was there any discussion of poverty, income inequality or climate change, although global warming did come up briefly in the afternoon forum.)

Our favorite coverage of the GOP race thus far –>  Emily Uecker in McSweeney’s, “Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here: A Shakespearean Guide to the 2016 Republican Primary.” (h/t Lexi Ivers)

Schumer: Thumbs down on Iran deal –> In the middle of all the debate magic came news that the third-ranking Democrat in the US Senate, New York’s Chuck Schumer, had officially come out against the Iran nuclear agreement. You can read his 1,600-word statement at Medium.  “Schumer’s formal opposition to the Iran deal is a blow for the Obama administration,” reports Politico. “But it follows announcements from several Senate Democrats that they would support the deal, including independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, Tim Kaine of Virginia, and New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.” Political Action Executive Director Ilya Sheyman announced, “In response to Senator Schumer’s decision to side with partisan war hawks… we will organize grassroots progressives across the country to withhold campaign contributions from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and from any Democratic candidate who succeeds in undermining the president’s diplomacy with Iran.”

Meanwhile, historian and Moyers & Company guest Andrew Bacevich writes at the Los Angeles Times, “The real issue is this: When it comes to the Middle East, will the United States persist in failure or will it try something different? This deal with Iran is the most prominent indication to date that Obama is serious about embracing the latter. This duck may be lame but he’s far from dead.”

Jon Stewart’s final bow –> His last Daily Show was filled beyond capacity: a reunion of all the show’s past and present correspondents, a Goodfellas parody that showcased the hardworking staff behind-the-scenes, and Springsteen and the E Street Band performing “Land of Hope and Dreams” and “Born to Run.” Plus, Stewart warned against the “bull____” obfuscation that too often dominates society and spoke of the necessity of many things the Republican candidates were loathe to bring up in their debate: fighting against climate change and on behalf of civil liberties, and the crucial need for Wall Street and campaign finance reform. Keep up the fight, Stewart urged, “If you smell something, say something.”

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