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Morning Reads: The Telecom Lobby Made a Good Investment in Marco Rubio

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

Morning Reads: Telecom Made a Good Investment in Marco Rubio

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks during a campaign rally on December 14, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

There’s a Republican debate tonight –> Tune in to CNN at 8:30 p.m., EST. The pre-debate warmup — Graham, Huckabee, Pataki and Santorum — is at 6 p.m.

Mutual backscratching –> Lee Fang at The Intercept: “In a rare senatorial act, full-time Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio joined with a handful of fellow legislators on Friday in an attempt to block local municipalities from undercutting big telecom companies by providing cheap, fast internet service.” Some cities have been moving to make high-speed internet a utility, like electricity and water. But that’s a threat to the telecom donors that handsomely fund Rubio’s campaign.

The issue few candidates are talking about –> Justin Miller at The American Prospect: “Poll after poll makes one thing clear: voters are still concerned about the influence of money in the political system. This voter alarm is escalating hand in hand with campaign spending.”

Tougher sell –> Even in this post-Citizens United era, it’s maybe not a good idea to hand your millions over to any snake-oil salesman who claims he can buy you an election. Republican megadonors learned that the hard way in 2012 when Karl Rove promised and failed to deliver a Romney victory. This year, history repeats itself, and Gabriel Sherman reports for New York magazine that deep-pocketed donors are finding that when it comes to pushing establishment candidates on a wild and angry primary electorate, money ain’t enough.

More ugliness –> Several protesters were kicked out of a Trump rally in Las Vegas when they interrupted to protest the candidate’s positions on Muslims. “What concerns me is that people were yelling racial epithets and hateful things,” one of them told Buzzfeed. “I heard the N-word a couple of times.” Allegedly, one of the audience members also was heard urging that a demonstrator be lit “on fire.”

Quite a record –> Writing in The New York Times, Angie Drobnic Holan, editor of PolitiFact, says that in an analysis of statements made by candidates and key officeholders since 2007, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Dick Cheney and Rick Santorum stand out: the majority of what has come out of their mouths has been false. According to PolitiFact’s data, a whopping 84 percent of Ben Carson’s statements are incorrect.

“The Kochs’ war on poverty” –> Ken Vogel writes for Politico: “The political operation created by the billionaire conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch is quietly investing millions of dollars in programs to win over an unlikely demographic target for their brand of small-government conservatism — poor people.

“The outreach includes everything from turkey giveaways, GED training and English-language instruction for Hispanic immigrants to community holiday meals and healthy living classes for predominantly African-American groups to vocational training and couponing classes for the under-employed… The efforts [also] include a healthy dose of proselytizing about free enterprise and how it can do more than government to lift people out of poverty.”

BUT: The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent isn’t buying it: “Broadly speaking, the GOP candidates are already committed to a vision built around the idea that rolling back Obama’s redistributive policies, and unshackling runaway growth, is the way to jog loose stagnating wages and stagnant opportunity. As conservative writer Ramesh Ponnuru recently put it: ‘Republicans do not seem to be even trying to erode the Democratic advantage on middle-class economics.'”

Three years later –> Yesterday was the third anniversary of the shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six teachers and administrators. Since then, “555 children under the age of 12 have been shot to death… a rate of about one every other day,” writes Nick Wing at The Huffington Post. “But where Congress has failed to move the needle on gun control, many states have taken up the fight.”

“What Kind of Person Calls a Mass Shooting a Hoax?” –> As with any national disaster, the tragedy spawned a “truther” movement insisting the killing was a conspiracy and attacking the families of victims online. But Mike Spies reports for The Trace that one Newtown parent has set himself the goal of talking some sense into these conspiracy theorists even as they continue to lob vitriol his way.

New drone regs –> “If you find a drone under the Christmas tree, you will now be required to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration before you run out in your PJs and accidentally fly it too close to an airplane,” Jen Kirby reports for New York magazine. “… The FAA will roll out the online registry on Dec. 21. New drone owners over the age of 13 will need to sign up before their first official flight. People who already own these kinds of drones will need to enroll by Feb. 19, 2016.”

Your favorite blogger or YouTube star probably works two jobs –> “The disconnect between internet fame and financial security is hard to comprehend for both creators and fans. But it’s the crux of many mid-level web personalities’ lives,” Gaby Dunn reports for Fusion.

Morning Reads is compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.

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