Quick Takes

* Just as Donald Trump gets his endorsement from Sarah Palin, we learn that Glen Beck will join Ted Cruz on the campaign trail. Yes folks, these are your two frontrunners for the Republican presidential nomination. I know I’m supposed to be a writer, but there are times when this reality just leaves me at a loss for words.

* Speaking of Ted Cruz, his 3 superpacs are funded by Toby Neugebauer, a founder of a Houston investment firm who now lives in Puerto Rico, Farris Wilks, a mason, pastor, and father of 11 from rural Texas who became a billionaire a few years ago in the fracking business, and Robert Mercer. In an profile of Mercer, Zachary Mider calls him “one of the wealthiest, most secretive, influential, and reactionary Republicans in the country.”

A surprising amount of Mercer’s attention and money finds its way to some of the most unusual fringes of the right wing. He’s attended and funded an annual conference organized by Jane Orient, an Arizona physician and activist who recently suggested in an opinion article that elements in the U.S. government might have taken part in the San Bernardino massacre. Mercer money also found its way to an Idaho activist named Fred Kelly Grant, who travels the country encouraging legal challenges to environmental laws, which he says are part of a sinister plot by the United Nations to depopulate rural America.

* Chalk this one up to another success story for President Obama’s containment strategy against ISIS.

Jihad doesn’t pay (as much as it used to): ISIS is cutting the monthly salaries of its fighters by 50 percent, as the group struggles to fund its multifront wars and fledgling state, according to newly leaked documents.

“Because of the exceptional circumstances that the Islamic State is passing through, a decision was taken to cut the salaries of the mujahedeen in half,” reads a government memorandum obtained by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and translated by The Guardian…

One of the headwinds facing the ISIS economy is the U.S.-led bombing of their energy sector, with air strikes taking out oil trucks, storage tanks, and refineries. The coalition has also targeted the Islamic State’s money — literally, with missiles. Last week, the U.S. dropped a pair of 2,000-pounders on a building in central Mosul, destroying millions of dollars’ worth of ISIS cash.

* At Republic 3.0, Michael Purzycki argues the case for nuclear energy as a necessary part of U.S. strategy for combating climate change.

* Last May I noticed that Bernie Sanders had introduced a bill to break up the “too big to fail” banks. After looking into it, I wrote that it was not a serious proposal. Back then no one was paying much attention to Sanders and so no one paid much attention to what I’d written. But now that he is seriously challenging Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire, all of that is changing. In the last couple of days, both Matt Yglesias at Vox and David Dayen at the New Republic have linked to my article from last May. If you missed it back then, you might want to check it out.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .