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 John Light.

The Democratic candidates for president squared off last night in Las Vegas. Single-issue candidate Lawrence Lessig was not on the stage; two candidates who have hardly campaigned thus far — Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee — were. Some takeaways:

  • “No room for Biden” –> Jamelle Bouie at Slate: “If there’s anything to take from the 2½-hour match between Clinton, Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee, it’s that Clinton is the front-runner for a reason, and there’s no room for Biden.”
  • “Calm, strong and smart” –> Rebecca Traister at NY Magazine: “From Las Vegas, we saw what was surely one of the higher quality debates Democrats (and certainly Republicans) have held in ages, and it was especially good if you were a Hillary Clinton supporter, a Bernie Sanders supporter, a left-of-center Democrat or anyone who is deeply sick of reading Hillary Clinton’s emails.”
  • Clinton’s “all that is good, and bad, about Democratic liberalism” –> D.D. Guttenplan at The Nation: “we learned that Hillary really does know how to play this game. Not just for the way she excoriated Bernie for his record on gun control, or for the way she used a question about parental leave to pivot left, declaring, ‘I know we can afford it. Because we’re going to make the wealthy pay.’ But because she seems to have figured out how to look presidential without seeming entitled—at least on television.”
  • “Where Bernie and Hillary disagree” –> Peter Beinart at The Atlantic writes that while Sanders and Clinton agree on what’s wrong in America, there is actually a big difference between the two Democratic frontrunners in how they would go about fixing problems. Sanders is an insurrectionist who wants “political revolution,” while Clinton wants to improve the system we have. She “acknowledges problems but she rarely indicts America’s core economic and political institutions.”
  • ALSO: Politico’s The Agenda fact-checked some of the candidates’ claims.

David Brooks is fed up –> The New York Times’ conservative op-edder is distressed by the power the most radical and “incompetent” Republicans hold over the party, a phenomenon on full display in the search for a new speaker of the House. He writes: “Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse.”

BUT: Over at the Plum Line blog, Greg Sargent argues that politicians like Ted Cruz aren’t incompetent at all: They know exactly what they’re doing. They’re staying in power. “They’re frauds. And from their point of view, they actually are getting the results they want. They get to continue telling the story they want to tell.”

Let’s think about this one for a minute –> Justin Worland at Time: “Alaska Governor Bill Walker called for expanded oil drilling to help him address the challenge of climate change in his state. Walker told the BBC that increased revenue from oil—a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming—would allow his state to fund measures to adapt to a changing environment.”

Rubio’s big pitch –> “Sheldon Adelson, one of the Republican Party’s most sought-after contributors, is leaning increasingly toward supporting Marco Rubio,” Alex Isenstadt writes at Politico. “Last week, during a campaign swing through Las Vegas, Rubio held a meeting in Adelson’s offices at the Venetian Las Vegas, one of a number of five-star luxury casinos the billionaire mogul owns around the world. Adelson, seated at the head of his conference table, heaped praise on Rubio’s performance while he discussed the dynamics of the 2016 race.”

That was fast –> Variety reports that Leonardo DiCaprio will produce a movie about Volkswagen’s scheme to cheat on emissions tests.

Staying out of each other’s way –> The BBC: “The US and Russia are to hold new talks on air safety in Syria after it emerged combat aircraft from both nations came within miles of each other on Saturday. … It will be the third round of talks as the two countries seek to find ways of avoiding an accidental conflict.” The news comes as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad increasingly turns to allies like Russia as he seeks to beat back rebels. Reuters: “The Syrian army and allied Iranian and Hezbollah forces are preparing for a ground offensive against insurgents in the Aleppo area backed by Russian air strikes, two senior regional officials familiar with the plans said on Tuesday.”

“Oatmeal in their heads” –> A condition that those who criticize Russia’s action in Syria suffer from, according to Vladimir Putin.

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