Toeing the party line –> Trump busted out a twist on a common GOP refrain today, accusing an opponent — in this case, Ted Cruz — of voter fraud. Ari Berman at The Nation: “I knew something like this was coming and quite frankly I’m surprised it took Trump so long to play the voter fraud card. It’s a logical extension of his demonization of Hispanics, Muslims, refugees and all the other people he believes are preventing America from being great again. It’s become an article of faith among Republicans that Democrats must cheat to win elections. The only difference here is that Trump is accusing another Republican of doing so.”
What Ted Cruz’s campaign did do is pretty weird, explains Tara Golshan at Vox. On Iowa caucus day, a note went out from a Cruz campaign worker implying that Ben Carson was suspending his campaign, and encouraging Carson voters to vote for Cruz instead. (Carson was not suspending his campaign.) Trump demands a caucus do-over.
Ted Cruz, populist –> At an event in New Hampshire, the Texas Senator claimed to have a sympathetic ear for Bernie Sanders’ critique of Washington as bought and sold: “‘Actually in diagnosing the problem, I agree in many ways with Bernie Sanders,’ Mr. Cruz said. ‘Media folks, they’re very puzzled when they say, “Gosh, Ted, you sound exactly like Bernie saying it is all big money and lobbyists and corruption.” Well, you know what? That’s right, it is. Washington is corrupt.'”
What’s a progressive? –> Alan Rappeport at The New York Times reports that at a town hall forum last night, “Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont clashed in heated terms over the meaning of progressivism in America on Wednesday, with her forced to defend positions that he argued are not in line with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.”
The two candidates debate tonight at the University of New Hampshire, 9 pm, ET. MSNBC will carry the event live.
Wall Street money talks –> The financial industry is dominating the 2016 elections, writes Will Tucker of the Center for Responsive Politics for Time Magazine, and they’re doing so in a way that allows them to give unlimited cash to their candidates of choice: “Super PACs allowed the industry to gain an outsize share of the pie in 2015 as Wall Street gravitated to some candidates and utterly abandoned others. With billionaire investors giving right and left, total contributions from the industry to presidential super PACs rose to $81.2 million. But while securities and investment interests hold the lead in terms of money to the types of groups that can receive unlimited contributions, they gave far less to the campaign committees under the direct control of the candidates — just $9.3 million.”
AND: In a post for Common Dreams also posted to our site, Deirdre Fulton notes that, “Just days after a Bernie Sanders campaign ad singled out Goldman Sachs as ‘one of the Wall Street banks that triggered the financial meltdown,’ the head of the global investment banking firm said such criticism is ‘dangerous.'”
AND: Wealthy individuals are laundering money they donate to super PACs (which must disclose their donors) by sending it through supposedly apolitical nonprofits and limited liability companies (LLCs), which don’t have to reveal who is behind them. At the Sunlight Foundation blog, Libby Watson zeroes in on some shady LLCs that are playing a big role in the race, and reveals who is behind some of them.
The conservative case for campaign finance reform –> Law professor Richard Painter makes it in a New York Times op-ed. One of his points: campaign donations breed complicated regulation. “Companies in heavily regulated industries such as banking, health care and energy are among the largest contributors,” Painter writes. “Such companies donate with the hope of winning narrowly tailored exceptions to regulations that help them and disadvantage their competitors. Politicians sometimes say they want to roll back regulations wholesale, but they rarely follow through because they know that less regulation will remove the incentive for future contributions. Some would call it extortion, but that is how the regulatory game is often played.”
Paging Bernie Sanders –> Most voters — including conservative voters — are okay with the idea of political revolution, writes Andrew Prokop at Vox. “Fifty-four percent of respondents to our online poll — which reached a sample of 1,884 registered voters nationally from Friday, January 29, through Sunday, January 31, 2016 — agreed that a ‘political revolution might be necessary to redistribute money from the wealthiest Americans to the middle class.’ Just 30 percent said they disagreed. Liberals and liberal-leaning demographics were most likely to agree with the statement. But majorities of independents, white voters, evangelicals, and even Tea Party supporters in our sample agreed too — showing that redistribution may no longer be a dirty word in American politics.”
Cue the right wing outrage –> He waited until the last year of his presidency, but yesterday Barack Obama spoke at an an American mosque. In a 45-minute speech, he “decried GOP counterterror plans that would single out Muslims for extra scrutiny” and “insisted that applying religious screens would only amplify messages coming from terrorist groups. In his final year in office, Obama has sought to use his public platform — however waning — to advocate against what he sees as dangerous threads in the political discourse,” Kevin Liptak reports for CNN.
Pushing back –> In an “Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Liberals Who Love Him,” Cedric Johnson, writing at Jacobin, questions rejection of a Sanders platform that doesn’t include reparations for African-Americans, arguing that Sanders’ policies would succeed in making America more equal for racial minorities.
More dropouts –> Rick Santorum and Rand Paul have quit the presidential race.
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