We produce this news digest every weekday. You canto receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.
A big day in the Cotton State –> As Alabama voters head to the polls, Pema Levy reports for Mother Jones that the state’s chief elections official believes that voting shouldn’t be easy, and has taken steps that disenfranchise people of color. Case-in-point: after passing a restrictive voter-ID law, officials “closed 31 DMV offices across the state, disproportionately affecting rural majority-black counties. In every county in which African-Americans made up more than 75 percent of registered voters, the local DMV was slated for closure.” Some offices were reopened after a court intervened.
Such efforts could have a major impact today. Slate’s Jamelle Bouie writes about the importance of the rural enclaves of Alabama’s “Black Belt” to Democratic nominee Doug Jones’ chances. “While the large majority of black Alabamans who are registered say they will likely vote,” he writes, “the Black Belt’s poverty and isolation make it difficult to mobilize voters. High turnout there is critical to Jones’ chances, and groups on the ground are working hard to make that happen, but there are real obstacles.”
And Roy Moore emerged from a week avoiding the public spotlight for a final rally before Election Day. Olivia Nuzzi reports for New York magazine that it was an exceptionally “weird” event, with chandeliers hanging in a barn, Steve Bannon talking about swamps being drained and this gem from Moore’s wife.
Roy Moore’s wife Kayla: “Fake news will tell you that we don’t care for Jews. One of our attorneys is a Jew!” #ALsen
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) Dec. 12, 2017
Hiding in plain sight –> Treasury Secretary Steve Munchin promised that his agency would produce an analysis of the GOP tax bill that would prove it would pay for itself. Well, the one-page “score” was released yesterday, and wonks from both parties ripped it apart, calling it “propaganda” and noting that it showed the opposite of what Mnuchin claimed it did. At Forbes, budget guru Stan Collender explains that they made the massive deficit that Trump’s tax cuts will actually create disappear by assuming that Congress will do various things, like “welfare reform,” that aren’t currently on the agenda. Collender concludes that “the most embarrassing thing about the report” is that “Mnuchin doesn’t seem to be at all embarrassed by it.”
This is absurd. Treasury just released a “score” of the tax bill that just TOTALLY MAKES UP a significant increase in economic growth. Pure propaganda. https://t.co/wAKLyoDFKb
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) Dec. 11, 2017
Speaking of obscuring costs –> Olivier Knox reports for Yahoo! News that “the White House left out the number of US troops fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria from a semi-annual accounting it provided to Congress on Monday.” According to Knox, “the omissions reflect President Trump’s eagerness to keep secret the size of US deployments in some global hot spots under the theory that the numbers… might give extremists and other enemies a strategic advantage,” but defense officials “privately dispute that notion and say some transparency is necessary for informed debate about America’s use of force.”
Trump’s #MeToo moment? –> Since early on in the 2016 campaign, Trump’s skated over allegations of sexual harassment and abuse from 16 different women without much in the way of consequences, but that may be changing. On Monday, four of his accusers called on Congress to investigate their claims. Willa Frej, Alanna Vagianos, and Hayley Miller have more on that over at HuffPost.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) joined three of her colleagues in calling for Trump to step down over the charges in the wake of Al Franken’s resignation last week, reports Dave Lawler for Axios. And Jacqueline Thomsen reports for The Hill that Trump is furious with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley after Haley told reporters that Trump’s accusers should be taken seriously.
Brain-drain –> French President Emmanuel Macron awarded “millions of euros in grants” to entice a group of top climate scientists “to relocate to France for the rest of Donald Trump’s presidential term,” according to the Associated Press.
Gerrymandering under court scruitny –> UC Irvine legal scholar Rick Hasen writes for the Los Angeles Times that there’s good reason to believe that the Supreme Court is finally going to take partisan gerrymandering seriously. Under current jurisprudence, lawmakers can shape districts in order to disadvantage their political opponents as long as the effort isn’t primarily based on race. But with increasingly sophisticated methods of parsing the electorate, five justices look like they may be inclined to change that with two cases currently before the court.
The coming war on poor people –> “Under the banner of welfare reform, the administration is eyeing changes to health care, food stamps, housing and veterans programs,” according to Politico.
And while “Republicans haven’t figured out how to kill the Affordable Care Act,” writes HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn, they are nonetheless “transforming it into a weaker, less efficient and more dysfunctional version of itself.”
Transphobia loses at DoD –> The military is allowing transgender people to enlist starting on January 1, despite Donald Trump’s order to the contrary. Lolita Baldor reports for the Associated Press that “the new policy reflects growing legal pressure on the issue, and the difficult hurdles the federal government would have to cross to enforce Trump’s demand to ban transgender individuals from the military. Three federal courts already have ruled against the ban.”
“Constitutional crisis” –> Paul Waldman writes at The American Prospect that Trump and his allies have “begun an all-out assault on [special counsel Robert] Mueller, one that could well result in Trump firing him. It’s more than obvious that Trump wants to do so; the only question is how long the relatively sane people around him who appreciate the consequences of such a move can hold him back.” Waldman isn’t the only one predicting a major crisis in the weeks and months ahead.
And while Republicans look to discredit Mueller, several House Dems “are demanding Justice Department documents they say could reveal ‘politically-motivated misconduct’ at the [FBI] meant to harm Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election chances, including potential leaks to a conservative website about the Clinton email investigation.” Kyle Cheney reports for Politico that the lawmakers “cited cases in which Trump allies seemed to be aware of impending FBI action in the days before Comey reopened the Clinton email probe,” including “a comment by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — a Trump ally who acknowledges that he is in touch with FBI officials — that the bureau’s rank-and-file were ‘boiling’ over the Clinton probe.”
The Swamp is persistent –> Lena Sun and Alice Crites report for The Washington Post that after five months in office, President Trump’s new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Brenda Fitzgerald, “has been unable to divest financial holdings that pose potential conflicts of interest, hindering her ability to fully perform her job.”
Planet-killers –> At The Nation, Mark Hertsgaard writes that as severe weather events become more frequent, society has to challenge the influence of climate change deniers like Donald Trump before it’s too late.
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.
We produce this news digest every weekday. You canto receive these updates as an email.