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Morning Reads: Kochs Try to Make Dark Money Darker; The Devil and John Boehner

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

Morning Reads: Kochs Try to Make Dark Money Darker

David H. Koch listens to speakers during the Defending the American Dream Summit at the Washington Convention Center, November 4, 2011, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Dark money gets darker –> Paul Blumenthal at The Huffington Post: “Republicans in Congress are trying to decrease the already scant amount of disclosure for politically-active nonprofits — known as dark money groups. The legislative effort is unsurprisingly supported by the main political arm of the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.” The bill workings its way through Congress would “eliminate the requirement for nonprofits to make a non-public disclosure of their donors to the IRS when they file their annual tax forms. The donor disclosures — known as the Schedule B report — are not released to the public, but the list of donation amounts with the donor names redacted are released.”

And, at The American Prospect, Justin Miller notes the irony of Charles Koch denouncing political spending on television while his organizations lobby for legislation making it easier to spend, with less disclosure.

And also: The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), that secretive group promoting policies backed by the Koch network, will begin its spring task force meeting in Pittsburgh a week from today. Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive watchdog organization that tracks ALEC, outlines some items on the agenda, including weakening workers comp laws, privatizing public schools and an amendment to the constitution requiring a balanced budget, which could effectively end Social Security and Medicare as they exist today.

Another hospital attack –> Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) reports that on Wednesday night an airstrke destroyed their hospital in Aleppo, Syria, killing “at least 14 people, including at least two doctors.” Other estimates of deaths are as high as 50 or more. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the bombing and said,  “It appears to have been a deliberate strike on a known medical facility and follows the Assad regime’s appalling record of striking such facilities and first responders. These strikes have killed hundreds of innocent Syrians.”

Meanwhile, W.J. Hennigan at the Los Angeles Times reports, “The Pentagon has disciplined 16 service members for mistakes that led to the deadly airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan last fall, but no one will face criminal charges… The punishments follow a six-month Pentagon investigation of the disastrous Oct. 3 attack, which killed 42 medical workers, patients and other Afghans and wounded dozens more at the international humanitarian aid group’s trauma center in Kunduz.”

Neat trick –> North Carolina Senate Democrats introduced a bill overturning the state’s much-criticized anti-LGBT law. But the Senate’s Republican leadership made sure the bill doesn’t have a path forward: Colin Campbell writes for the Raleigh News & Observer, “Because of a budget item included, its first stop is the Senate Appropriations Committee. But if it got approval from that panel, its second assigned stop is the Senate Ways and Means Committee – which is something of an inside joke in the Senate. The three-member Ways and Means Committee hasn’t held a meeting in years.”

The Devil made him do it –> In a speech on Wednesday at Stanford University, former House Speaker John Boehner sounded off, calling Ted Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh” and saying “I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” Boehner added that if necessary he could envision himself voting for Trump, but would never back Cruz.

Ezra Klein at Vox writes that Boehner “went the full Bulworth… But don’t laugh it off. John Boehner was the Speaker of the House as recently as a single year ago. He is, himself, a conservative Republican. And he is saying, flatly, that the Republican Party has been captured by morons, goofballs, and ‘Lucifer.’ He is saying that the party has moved so far to the right that Ronald Reagan wouldn’t recognize it. Boehner is validating one of the most persistent and controversial critiques of the modern Republican Party. And he has the authority to do so.”

Trouble after Trump rally –> After a Trump event last night in Orange County, California, protests took a destructive turn. The Los Angeles Times: “Video footage showed some anti-Trump demonstrators hurling debris at a passing pickup. One group of protesters carried benches and blocked the entrance to the 55 Freeway along Newport Boulevard, with some tossing rocks at motorists near the on-ramp… Costa Mesa police confirmed that a total of 17 people — 10 males and 7 females — were arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly.”

Getting out the vote –> Anecdotal suggestions that Latino voter turnout will spike if Trump is the nominee seem to be supported by data. Rafael Bernal writes for The Hill: “Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials, projects 13.1 million Hispanics will vote nationwide in 2016, compared to 11.2 million in 2012 and 9.7 million in 2008… A whopping 80 percent of respondents in a poll of registered Hispanic voters in Colorado and Nevada said Trump’s views on immigration made them less likely to vote for Republicans in November. In Florida, that number was 68 percent.”

Sliding backward –> In an op-ed for The New York Times, Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, writes that Monday’s court decision upholding North Carolina’s discriminatory voter ID law “defended the worst attack on voting rights since the 19th century.” He continues: “The Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the protections stripped away by Shelby, has stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Strom Thurmond was able to filibuster the 1964 Civil Rights Act for only 24 hours. But today’s extremists have buried voting rights here for nearly three years. It is time for the silence to end.”

Who needs ’em? –> At The American Prospect, David Dayen argues that hedge funds emerged as “an accident of history, a gift to wealthy families.” So why not just get rid of them?

Morning Reads was written 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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