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Daily Reads: Trump Tax Plan Is Great for Trump; Senator Blasts Twitter Presentation on Russian Influence

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

Trump Tax Plan Is Great for Trump

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Rigging the marketplace of ideas –> Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) blasted Twitter yesterday after its representatives gave the Senate Intelligence Committee what he called an “inadequate” and “deeply disappointing” presentation about Russia’s use of bots and fake accounts during the 2016 election. More on that at CBS News.

Donie O’Sullivan and Dylan Byers report for CNN that “a social media campaign calling itself ‘Blacktivist’ and linked to the Russian government used both Facebook and Twitter in an apparent attempt to amplify racial tensions during the US presidential election.”

And to some degree, this dynamic goes both ways. Leif Reigstad reports for Texas Monthly that some of the success that the AfD — the German party that represents the country’s equivalent of the “alt-right” — experienced in Sunday’s elections could be attributed to “an Austin-based advertising agency” it retained to “create a divisive social media campaign” for “the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, economic populist” party.

Pinocchio-laden claims –> At The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler writes that “in selling President Trump’s tax plan, his aides have resorted to making strikingly misleading statements to defend it.”

Perhaps the most egregious is Trump’s insistence that his “reforms” wouldn’t pad his own pocket — and those of his family and friends. The New Yorker’s John Cassidy looks at five different ways Trump might see a windfall from what he’s asking Congress to do.

And in what may be today’s least-surprising news, Thomas Kaplan reports for The New York Times that as Congress considers deep tax cuts at a time when deficits are already projected to remain high, conservative “deficit hawks have hardly peeped.” In a moment of candor, Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) said that lamenting the deficit is “a great talking point when you have an administration that’s Democrat-led” but “it’s a little different now that Republicans have both houses and the administration.”

What is surprising is that these violations are so egregious –> That’s how Brendan Fischer at the Campaign Legal Center characterized newly minted Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s failure to disclose large amounts of income and debt to the Senate Ethics Committee. “Moore was the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court,” Fischer told The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay, “so he can’t possibly claim that the simple instructions for filling out the Senate Financial Disclosure form were too difficult for him to follow.”

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising. At The Atlantic, Michelle Cottle writes that “the would-be Alabama senator has made it clear that neither facts nor the law matter to him.”

And speaking of disclosure, Jake Tapper reports for CNN that, “in his closed interview with the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, White House senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner did not share the existence of his personal email account, which he has used for official business.”

Adding insult to injury –> Under “a long-standing but discretionary policy,” the “Trump administration is making US citizens pay ‘full fare’ to be evacuated from hurricane-ravaged Caribbean islands” on government transport. According to Tomi Kilgore at MarketWatch, desperate evacuees are being charged “the price of the last commercial one-way, full-fare (not discounted) economy ticket prior to the crisis,” and the government “will hold the evacuees’ passports as collateral until it gets its money.”

Trump’s only been hobbled in Congress –> Even as his agenda has stalled on Capitol Hill, “Trump has begun to reshape American life in ways big and small.” John Whitesides writes for Reuters that “Trump has used an aggressive series of regulatory rollbacks, executive orders and changes in enforcement guidelines to rewrite the rules for industries from energy to airlines, and on issues from campus sexual assault to anti-discrimination protections for transgender students.”

Rage –> Josh Marshall looks at the Republican base’s “uprising” against “the establishment,” and concludes that we’re living in very dangerous times as “everything seems to be coming home to roost after the GOP took control of both houses of Congress and elected a president who embodies far-right tea party crazy and yet have proven unable to — at least in formal legislation – do anything with it.”

And a new Fox News poll finds that “a large majority of American voters feels the bonds that hold the country together are weakening, while over half think the world is going to hell in a handbasket.” Their words, not ours.

What happens when the Supreme Court ignores the line between law and politics? –> That’s the question Ian Millhiser asks at ThinkProgress in response to Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch “conspicuously doing favors for the political actors who helped” get him the seat. He will now have an opportunity to rule on issues like gerrymandering and voter-ID laws that could keep them in power.

Under-the-radar –> With the conspicuous failure of GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare, Trump’s planned executive order to allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines has gotten relatively little attention. But Paul Demko and Nolan McCaskill report for Politico that “the idea is broadly opposed by state insurance commissioners, consumer advocates and insurers, and has failed in states where it’s been tried.”

Adjuncts –> “Adjunct professors in America face low pay and long hours without the security of full-time faculty,” writes Alastair Gee in The Guardian. “Some, on the brink of homelessness, take desperate measures,” including sleeping in their cars, relying on “food banks and Goodwill,” and in the case of one part-time prof Gee profiled, prostitution.

The hardest phone call –> At The Marshall Project, Jean Peters Baker writes that “law school doesn’t prepare” prosecutors like her “to deliver tough news to victims, or — when a victim has died — to their families.” She says it’s “a part of the criminal justice system that is seldom seen or even portrayed in pop culture,” and can be traumatic for everyone involved.

A worrying sign with regards to future sea level rise –> “An iceberg four times the size of Manhattan, 100-square-mile (259 km²), just broke off from Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier,” according to Science. Scientists are worried about what they see as a shift in the longstanding pattern of the ice shelf’s calving.

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



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