Developing –> The Iraqi military has advanced into the center of Ramadi, the ISIS stronghold some 50 miles from Baghdad. Officials say the city will be “cleared” in 72 hours.
Not quite right –> During the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton argued that she wasn’t in the pocket of Wall Street. “I think it’s important to point out that about 3 percent of my donations come from people in the finance and investment world,” she said. “You can go to OpenSecrets.org and check that. I have more donations from students and teachers than I do from people associated with Wall Street.”
The staff at OpenSecrets.org — a website tracking campaign money run by the Center for Responsive Politics — fact checked her statement. “Clinton is technically right, but there are some important caveats,” writes Will Tucker. For one, Clinton was only talking about donations to her campaign, and completely ignored outside groups, like super PACs and dark money nonprofits, to which super-rich donors backing many of the 2016 candidates prefer to donate. Her super PACs received 17.2 percent from the securities and investment and commercial banking industries, and dark money non-profits don’t disclose their donors — the very reason they’re so appealing and, likely, illegal.
New tack –> The Federal Elections Commission, tasked with overseeing money in politics, is broken, we’ve often noted, by its inability to take even basic steps, stymied by partisan differences among its commissioners. Now a group is “suing the FEC for failing to do its job, and hoping that the courts will compel the agency to act,” reports Pema Levy at Mother Jones.
T. Boone’s “big idea” –> Oilman T. Boone Pickens chose LinkedIn to serve up this food for thought: “My big idea for 2016 is to put together a bipartisan screening committee that vets presidential candidates like we do anyone else applying for a job and recommends the best candidates possible.” (Good-government groups point out that basically we already have that: “The ‘screening committee’ is currently known as ‘me and my rich friends,'” tweets Adam Smith, who works with the campaign finance reform group EveryVoice.)
No indictment –> “Grand jurors in Texas declined on Monday to indict anyone in connection to the July death of a Chicago-area woman, Sandra Bland, who was found hanged in her cell at the Waller County jail, one of the special prosecutors assigned to the case said,” writes Mitch Smith for The New York Times. “But Darrell Jordan, the special prosecutor, said that ‘the case is still open,’ and that grand jurors would reconvene next month to discuss other aspects of it.”
Another one bites the dust –> South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham dropped out of the Republican presidential race yesterday. He was the only serious GOP candidate who openly accepts mainstream climate science, writes Emily Atkin at ThinkProgress.
Another holiday gift –> Among the presents to corporate interests stuffed into the enormous legislative package to keep the government open is this: “As congressional leaders were hastily braiding together a tax and spending bill of more than 2,000 pages, lobbyists swooped in to add 54 words that temporarily preserved a loophole sought by the hotel, restaurant and gambling industries, along with billionaire Wall Street investors, that allowed them to put real estate in trusts and avoid taxes.” Eric Lipton and Liz Moyer report for The New York Times.
Easy to miss it –> “Tucked deep inside the 1,603-page federal spending measure is a provision that effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy,” reports Evan Halper for the LA Times.
Aid and comfort –> “Those that reject Syrian refugees, and especially if they are Muslim, are the best allies of the propaganda and the recruitment of extremist groups,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told the UN Security Council yesterday. Reuters characterized his statements as “a swipe at Trump and some US state governors and European leaders.”
“It’s not not global warming” –> Climate hawks are always reluctant to link current weather to climate change — that’s the kind of tactic fossil-fuel funded politicians use. (“Look, it’s snowing. How ’bout that ‘global warming,’ am I right?”) Weather isn’t climate. But as we head for a tropical-seeming end to the warmest year on record here in the Northeast, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Erika Spanger-Siegfried writes, “This warmth is due to several things, including global warming.”
Performance art, or something –> The Wall Street Journal got greedy pharmaceutical businessman and hedge funder Martin Shkreli’s first post-arrest interview. It’s behind their paywall but New York magazine has the good parts: “He… revealed that his entire persona was ‘a bit of an act.’ ‘Most people don’t know the real Martin Shkreli,’ he added. ‘I think it would make sense to show them.’ Shkreli ‘compared the more extreme of his myriad public actions… to temporarily adopting an accent.'”
You can get our Morning Reads delivered to your inbox every weekday! Just enter your email address below…