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Morning Reads: NH Primary Day, Jeb! Rejects Citizens United

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

Morning Reads: NH Primary Day, Jeb! Rejects Citizens United

A large sign for Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is shown outside of a town hall event on February 8, 2016 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Granite State votes –> New Hampshire voters head to the polls today, declaring their choice of Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. A winter storm could suppress turnout. New Hampshire Public Radio will be tracking the returns.

Whose dirty trick this time? –> Russ Choma at Mother Jones: “Some voters in New Hampshire opened their mailboxes today to find an envelope stamped in red with ‘important taxpayer information enclosed.’ Inside was a letter featuring an official-looking seal that listed not only the recipients’ voting records, but those of their neighbors… The mailer is very similar to one circulated by Ted Cruz’s campaign to undecided Iowa voters just days before the caucuses… Ted Cruz’s spokesman, Rick Tyler, told Mother Jones that the Cruz campaign did not send the mailers.”

Citizens United‘s newest foe –> Jeb Bush has by far raised the most of any of the Republican candidates. His fundraising numbers rival those of Hillary Clinton, but that’s not reflected in the polls. In an interview with CNN yesterday, Jeb! denounced the campaign finance system that hasn’t worked for him. “If I could do it all again I’d eliminate the Supreme Court ruling,” he said, referring to Citizens United. “This is a ridiculous system we have now where you have campaigns that struggle to raise money directly and they can’t be held accountable for the spending of the super PAC that’s their affiliate.”

Insider knowledge –> Investor Bernard Schwartz, the former head of Loral Space & Communications, just gave $1 million to a super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton, placing him among her top supporters. But he wants a law to put an end to donations like his. “PACs are a bad thing, it distorts the political process,” he told Bloomberg’s Max Abelson. “Rich people have the opportunity to get access.”

Reading the writing on the wall –> Two congressmen from South Florida, Republican Carlos Curbelo and Democrat Ted Deutch, have joined hands to create a “Climate Solutions Caucus” that will “explore policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate.” At The New York Times, Andrew Revkin writes, “There’s quite a contrast between Curbelo’s position and the shape-shifting views of presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio.”

AND: Jeremy Schulman reports for Mother Jones that Rubio’s anti-science platform, and Cruz’s rabidly anti-science platform, likely won’t hurt either in New Hampshire, where, according to one local public opinion researcher, “rejecting climate science is pretty much mainstream” in the state’s GOP.

What about voting rights? –> Jamil Smith writes for New Republic that there are key aspects of a solid pro-democracy platform that Bernie Sanders has yet to address: “For all the chest-puffing talk of ‘political revolution,’ record donations, and youth turnout, Sanders hasn’t made voting rights a centerpiece of his push to change political culture. We’ve seen and heard, ad infinitum, his justifiable bluster about the criminality of Wall Street and about how the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision opened the floodgates for big money in politics. But you virtually never hear him talk about the influence of groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC — which played a key role in drafting dozens of unnecessary voter-ID bills in 2011 and 2012.”

Lead is everywhere –> The New York Times has a story reminding us that the Flint travesty is hardly an anomaly: “In 2001, after Washington, D.C., changed how it disinfected drinking water, lead in tap water at thousands of homes spiked as much as 20 times the federally approved level. Residents did not find out for three years… Unsafe levels of lead have turned up in tap water in city after city — in Durham and Greenville, N.C., in 2006; in Columbia, S.C., in 2005; and last July in Jackson, Miss., where officials waited six months to disclose the contamination — as well as in scores of other places in recent years.”

AND: In a story headlined, “Meet the ‘rented white coats’ who defend toxic chemicals,” the Center for Public Integrity’s David Heath documents “a world where corporate interests can dictate their own science and scientists for hire willingly oblige. It’s a phenomenon that’s grown in recent decades as government-funded science dwindles. Its effects are felt not only in courtrooms but also in regulatory agencies that issue rules to try to prevent disease.”

Look forward not back –> Economist Dean Baker at TruthOut: “As the Democratic presidential race heats up, the debate on financial reform has taken a bizarre twist. Somehow the measure of a good reform is its ability to prevent another 2008-type financial crisis. While it is reasonable to subject a reform agenda to the 2008 test, this should be at most a side issue… Financial reform first and foremost is not about preventing the last crisis, but rather about designing a financial system that more effectively serves the rest of the economy.”

He contains multitudes –> Even though Marco Rubio came off as Mr. Robot at Saturday’s Republican debate, Vox’s Andrew Prokop attended Rubio events a couple of days before and saw a candidate who is “a skilled, eloquent, and talented political performer who could expertly modify his message depending on whom he was addressing.” At a nonpartisan crowd of factory employees, “he avoided his usual Obama-bashing and partisan applause lines almost entirely, instead blaming ‘both parties’ and ‘leaders’ in general for the country’s woes… He looked like an incredibly formidable candidate overall — like someone whom Republicans who want to win should seriously consider nominating, and whom Democrats should be very afraid of.”

AND: The New York Times’ Ashley Parker and Jonathan Martin have a juicy scoop on the spat between Rubio and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, himself a former Florida congressman. Looking beyond the gossip, the story shows how often network TV is driven by petty personal politics and not the viewers’ best interests.

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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