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Morning Reads: It’s Iowa Caucus Day, and New 2015 Fundraising Numbers Are In

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

Morning Reads: New 2015 Fundraising Numbers Are In

Volunteers for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak with a local resident while canvasing neighborhoods on January 31, 2016 in Fort Madison, Iowa, one day before the state's much anticipated February 1st caucus. US presidential candidates made a frenzied, final push to lock in Iowa voters on the eve of the first nominating contest of the 2016 election season. (Photo: MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Iowans will be the first voters in the United States to make their voices heard in the 2016 election, when, later today, they gather in libraries, restaurants, schools and other public places to officially declare which candidate they support. After all the months of  polls, rallies and robocalls, we’ll finally learn tonight which candidates’ voters are passionate enough to show up and make a choice.

The numbers are in –> Yesterday, campaigns and super PACs (but not, of course, dark money groups) filed reports on how much money they raised during the second half of 2015. At The Huffington Post, Paul Blumenthal notes that hedge fund managers have thrown their support and their millions towards Marco Rubio. And, even though Charles Koch recently complained of a lack of influence, that didn’t stop him from giving $3 million to his own super PAC and raising another $8 million from wealthy friends. The Kochs’ network has already spent $400 million on this election, notes Tarini Parti at Buzzfeed — that’s more than any one candidate has.

AND: Matea Gold at The Washington Post: “Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign announced Sunday that it will bring in more than $20 million this month, an astonishing sum that underscores the power of its online fundraising operation.”

Playing dirty –> Ted Cruz’s campaign is drawing criticism for sending mailings to Iowa households that resemble official government forms with the words “Voting Violation” across the top in red. The forms warn voters that whether or not they turn out for the caucuses is a matter of public record. “Below that, a chart appears with the names of the recipient of the mailing as well as his neighbors and their voting ‘grade’ and ‘score,'” explains Ryan Lizza for The New Yorker. He goes on to note that Iowans’ “scores” may be entirely made up: “On all the mailers I saw, every voter listed had only one of three possible scores: fifty-five per cent, sixty-five per cent, or seventy-five per cent, which translate to F, D, and C grades, respectively. Iowans take voting pretty seriously. Why was it that nobody had a higher grade?”

On the “Bernie bro” –> At The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald discusses accusations that Sanders supporters have been misogynistic in their opposition to Hillary Clinton and argues that, “The concoction of the ‘Bernie Bro’ narrative by pro-Clinton journalists has been a potent political tactic — and a journalistic disgrace… The reason pro-Clinton journalists are targeted with vile abuse online has nothing specifically to do with the Sanders campaign or its supporters. It has everything to do with the internet. There are literally no polarizing views one can advocate online — including criticizing Democratic Party leaders such as Clinton or Barack Obama — that will not subject one to a torrent of intense anger and vile abuse.” Greenwald, who is gay, provides examples from his own Twitter feed and email in which his reporting and commentary have been denounced by homophobes.

Wrapping up –> The armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge seems largely over. Zoe Carpenter reflects at The Nation on what America learned from this odd episode, and questions that remain: “The ‘freedom’ Bundy advocated was in essence undemocratic and authoritarian. It presumed that a community was best represented by a small group of outsiders governing not on a mandate from voters but by the threat of a gun battle.”

A problem we could fix –> At Eater, Amanda Kludt looks at how a lack of paid parental leave in America holds women back in the restaurant industry. She writes, “Women are underrepresented at the top for any number of reasons, but one of the most important ones is that the system they operate within — local and federal laws, and the common employment structure of most restaurants — makes it almost impossible for them to get there while having children. A complete lack of support for pregnancy and childbirth sends a clear message to anyone for whom it’s a possibility: This world is not for you.”

“Graying nomads” –> At the Los Angeles Times, John M. Glionna looks at the large population of elderly Americans who keep working, jumping from job to job, “too poor to retire and too young to die.” Some travel from state to state. Glionna follows Dolores Westfall, “one of America’s graying nomads. Although many middle-class retirees ply the interstates in Winnebagos as a lifestyle choice, for Westfall and many others, life on the move is not as much a choice as a necessity.”

Today’s Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

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