Good morning! Here’s your daily digest of money-and-politics news and the headlines of the day, compiled by BillMoyers.com’s John Light. (You can sign up to receive Morning Reads daily in your inbox!)
Mass surveillance goes to jail –> A giant cache of records from Securus Technologies, a prison phone-service provider, shows that the company recorded at least 14,000 conversations between inmates and attorneys, “likely confidential and privileged legal communications — calls that never should have been recorded in the first place,” write Jordan Smith and Micah Lee at The Intercept. A hacker anonymously provided journalists with 70 million call records.
Those sweet sugar subsidies –> In Tuesday’s Republican debate, Ted Cruz pointed to sugar subsidies as a prime example of crony capitalism — a semi-subtle dig at Floridian opponent Marco Rubio, the sugar industry’s man in Washington. Rubio argued yesterday that doing away with our subsidies would mean surrendering American jobs, but neither liberal nor conservative commentators are buying that defense. “It’s hard to credibly criticize the welfare state without trying to take down the corporate welfare state first,” the conservative American Enterprise Institute’s Tim Carney tells Greg Sargent at The Washington Post’s Plum Line blog. “The argument for free enterprise doesn’t have a foundation if you also tolerate corporate welfare.”
“Campaign finance deform” –> Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin, explains the implications of politicians’ push to unwind his state’s campaign finance regulations, clearing the way for an unprecedented influx of dark money into the already politically fraught state government. “This is no time to just shrug and say there is nothing you can do,” he writes. The state assembly is scheduled to approve the state senate’s bill this Monday.
Meanwhile, in Washington… –> The dysfunctional Federal Election Commission met Tuesday, still helpless as the money keeps pouring into presidential campaigns. “They were unable to reach a majority decision on whether a potential candidate could form a super PAC before announcing his or her campaign, or whether a potential candidate could share advance plans with a super PAC before jumping into the race,” write Isaac Arnsdorf and Theodoric Meyer at Politico.
AND: Good-government advocacy group Public Citizen reports that a deadlock at the commission means a request to close the so-called Chevron loophole won’t go anywhere. The problem: Federal law prohibits government contractors from donating to candidates, but their subsidiaries can. In 2014, Public Citizen challenged Chevron’s $2.5 million in donations to a super PAC supporting congressional Republicans. The FEC decided that while Chevron USA held government contracts and could not be a donor, Chevron Corp. was free to spend away. This doesn’t look like it will change any time soon.
(ICYMI: Last month, Andy Kroll dove into FEC dysfunction in a good longread for National Journal.)
“Free-speech diversion” –> Serious discussions about race and racism at the University of Missouri and Yale are being derailed by allegations that protestors are pushing knee-jerk political correctness and infringing on critics’ free speech, writes Jelani Cobb at The New Yorker: “This is victim-blaming with a software update, with less interest in the kind of character assassination we saw deployed against Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown than in creating a seemingly right-minded position that serves the same effect.”
Sexism in economics –> Why do journalists and public figures repeatedly fail to recognize female economists who are equally as successful as their male colleagues? At The Upshot, Justin Wolfers catalogues a number of embarrassing examples, including some committed by The Upshot’s publisher, The New York Times.
“The land that the Internet era forgot” –> Mississippi lags behind most states in terms of access to fast and reliable Internet — over a third of the state’s population is without broadband at home. At Wired, W. Ralph Eubanks travels with one Internet evangelist helping his fellow Mississippians get connected to a tool “as essential to this country’s infrastructure as electricity was 110 years ago or the Interstate Highway System 50 years ago.”
Permission to speak freely –> Now that Canadian PM Stephen Harper, no friend of climate science, is out the door, Canadian scientists employed by the government can talk about their research again. “I can say that for me, this is very exciting news,” one told The Globe and Mail. “I believe that our past inability to get our science out through the media, and sometimes even through public forums, really turned us into second-class citizens in the science arena.”
Ripe for syndication –> In the ’80s, Bernie Sanders had a public-access cable show. A really, truly fantastic public-access cable show. In one episode, he encounters and interviews a man with a large fish. In another, he takes a trip to a pile of wood chips. Sweaters figure prominently, as do title cards written with magic marker. At Mother Jones, Tim Murphy has your guide to this recently re-released treasure trove.
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