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Daily Reads: Jeff Flake Blasts Trump, Then Votes to Kill Vital Wall Street Consumer Protections

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Jeff Flake Blasts Trump

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Outta here –> Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake announced that he isn’t running for re-election in a speech lambasting Donald Trump’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior,” and calling it “dangerous to a democracy.” You can read his whole speech at the link, courtesy of Vox.

Harry Enten and Clare Malone look at how Flake’s decision to retire may impact next year’s Arizona Senate race for FiveThirtyEight.

The Intercept’s David Dayen points out that later in the day Flake joined fellow GOP “apostates” John McCain (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) to “gift-wrap the biggest present Congress has so far bestowed upon Wall Street in the Trump era.” Dayen writes that “with a razor-thin margin,” the Senate killed a key regulation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that “banned forced arbitration provisions,” which “can allow banks and other financial institutions to rip off their customers with virtual impunity.” Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote.

And Charles Pierce writes at Esquire that “Republicans like Flake and Corker apparently see leaving office the only viable response to the fact that the president is steering their party — and the country — over a cliff.” Pierce says disaffected Republicans need a “better response” to Trumpism.

El pantano –> “Puerto Rico has agreed to pay a reported $300 million for the restoration of its power grid to a tiny utility company that is primarily financed by a private-equity firm founded and run by a man who contributed large sums of money to President Trump,” reports Ken Klippenstein for The Daily Beast.

Buzzfeed’s Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel report that the company, Whitefish Energy, “had just two full-time employees and no office at the time the contract was granted.” There was no bidding process involved.

Meanwhile, Ben LeFebvre and Nick Juliano report for Politico that “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has directed millions of dollars in political contributions since 2014 to a network of Washington operatives that prominent conservatives have accused of profiting by misleading donors.”

And Mother Jones’ Russ Choma and Nick Schwellenbach report that despite the clear appearance of a conflict of interest, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is overseeing a bribery case involving “two of his top donors.”

Dreamers –> With the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) enjoying massive, bipartisan support from the public, Seung Min Kim reports for Politico that “key Senate Republicans have begun privately discussing the contours of an immigration plan to shield the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who will lose work permits and deportation protections starting early next year.”

Minor offenses” –> Duaa Eldeib reports for ProPublica that Illinois’ efforts to reform its juvenile justice system are being undermined by a spate of charges against mostly black inmates for offenses that once would have “resulted in the loss of privileges” but are now earning them “substantial sentences in adult prison.” Juvenile justice experts tell Eldeib that “the prosecutions are fueled, in part, by [prison] employees’ resistance to the statewide reforms.”

About those sanctions? –> “The Trump administration has failed to place new sanctions on Russia,” reports Newsweek’s Greg Price, “further deepening allegations the president is soft on Russia.” Congress passed the new sanctions back in July, but the White House missed an October 1 deadline to specify who would be targeted under the measure.

Sort of related –> House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes announced that his committee was beginning a probe into a Trump campaign talking-point about Hillary Clinton supposedly “selling off” American uranium to Russia. He’ll also revisit “the Justice Department’s 2016 handling of the Clinton email case.” Aaron Rupar writes at Think Progress that a recent story in The Hill reviving the uranium claim first detailed in Peter Schweizer’s book, Clinton Cash, gave Nunes an “irresistible opportunity to distract from Trump’s Russia scandal by trying to gin up a new one surrounding Obama-era officials.”

Politifact offers everything you need to know about the uranium story. The short version: there’s no there there.

Beyond left versus right –> More valuable research from Pew, which has compiled a political typology that digs down beneath the usual left-right ideological spectrum to reveal some interesting fissures on both the right and the left.

Big money –> Facebook wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg “is planning to influence American politics for generations to come,” according to Alex Thompson and Noah Kulwin at Vice News. “The world’s fifth-richest man has publicly committed $45 million — most of it in the first 10 months of 2017 — into groups aligned with two political causes: ending the era of mass incarceration and fixing the affordable housing crisis in American cities.” Thompson and Kulwin say that’s just the beginning of Zuckerberg’s efforts.

Big brother may be watching more –> Keep an eye on this fight. Elizabeth Nolan-Brown reports for Reason that “a bill under consideration in the Senate could drastically expand the National Security Agency’s power to conduct warrantless digital surveillance and US law-enforcement’s ability to use the collected data against Americans.”

That bill is sponsored by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC). But Dustin Volz reports for Reuters that while the committee was approving his bill, “other lawmakers pushed a competing measure seeking to end the ability to search for data on Americans without a warrant.” The alternative measure, authored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), is “likely to complicate congressional renewal of [the] law, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, due to expire at the end of the year.”

Comforting –> Joshua Holland writes at The Nation that there are almost four million Americans who have impulsive anger-control issues and carry a gun. If we recognize the nature of that threat, he writes, then gun violence “could be cut significantly with smarter public policies.”

Doom loop of modern liberalism” –> At The Atlantic, Derek Thompson considers a liberal quandary: Low birth rates in the advanced economies mean that they need immigration to grow, and yet there’s growing evidence that high levels of immigration fuel the growth of far-right movements that tend to undermine liberal governance.

America’s eco city of the future” –> Georgetown, Texas, mayor “Dale Ross is ‘a good little Republican,’” writes The Guardian’s Tom Dart, but “he has become a minor celebrity in environmental circles as a result of a pioneering decision in 2015 to get all the city’s electricity from renewable sources.”

Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.



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