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22 Jan 04:45

Donald Trump Has Ushered in a Government of Men, Not of Laws - Slate Magazine

Slate Magazine

Donald Trump Has Ushered in a Government of Men, Not of Laws
Slate Magazine
In a terrifying speech, the new president made clear that freedom and justice are not his concern. By Dahlia Lithwick. President Donald Trump raises a fist after his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. President Donald Trump raises a fist after ...
Trump's inauguration speech makes it clear: He meant every word he said during the campaignLos Angeles Times
Trump just set a very high bar for himselfBusiness Insider
President Trump channeled villainous Bane in his inauguration speechUSA TODAY
Variety -National Review -Twitter
all 79 news articles »
14 Jan 22:23

John Lewis Says Trump's Presidency Is Illegitimate

by Karoli Kuns

Rep. John Lewis will not be attending Trump's inaugural, nor does he believe Trump is a legitimately-elected president.

Rep. John Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia and civil-rights icon, told NBC's Chuck Todd in an interview for Sunday's "Meet the Press" that he believes Russia's alleged hacking aimed at helping Trump in the 2016 race makes Trump an illegitimate president.

Asked whether he would forge a relationship with President-elect Trump, Lewis said, "It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president."

He added: "I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton." Lewis called it a "conspiracy" and added: "That's not right. That's not fair. That's not the open democratic process."

Lewis added that he won't attend Trump's inauguration, which he said is unprecedented in his 30-year congressional career.

Meanwhile, after a briefing with James Comey this morning, Democrats came out shaking with anger.

read more

13 Jan 21:13

The Spy Who Wrote the Trump-Russia Memos: It Was "Hair-Raising" Stuff

by David Corn

Last fall, a week before the election, I broke the story that a former Western counterintelligence official had sent memos to the FBI with troubling allegations related to Donald Trump. The memos noted that this spy's sources had provided him with information indicating that Russian intelligence had mounted a yearslong operation to co-opt or cultivate Trump and had gathered secret compromising material on Trump. They also alleged that Trump and his inner circle had accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin. These memos caused a media and political firestorm this week when CNN reported that President Barack Obama and Trump had been told about their existence, as part of briefings on the intelligence community's assessment that Russia hacked political targets during the 2016 campaign to help Trump become president. For my story in October, I spoke with the former spy who wrote these memos, under the condition that I not name him or reveal his nationality or the spy service where he had worked for nearly two decades, mostly on Russian matters.

The former spy told me that he had been retained in early June by a private research firm in the United States to look into Trump's activity in Europe and Russia. "It started off as a fairly general inquiry," he recalled. One question for him, he said, was, "Are there business ties in Russia?" The American firm was conducting a Trump opposition research project that was first financed by a Republican source until the funding switched to a Democratic one. The former spy said he was never told the identity of the client.

The former intelligence official went to work and contacted his network of sources in Russia and elsewhere. He soon received what he called "hair-raising" information. His sources told him, he said, that Trump had been "sexually compromised" by Russian intelligence in 2013 (when Trump was in Moscow for the Miss Universe contest) or earlier and that there was an "established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit." He noted he was "shocked" by these allegations. By the end of June, he was sending reports of what he was finding to the American firm.

The former spy said he soon decided the information he was receiving was "sufficiently serious" for him to forward it to contacts he had at the FBI. He did this, he said, without permission from the American firm that had hired him. "This was an extraordinary situation," he remarked.

The response to the information from the FBI, he recalled, was "shock and horror." After a few weeks, the bureau asked him for information on his sources and their reliability and on how he had obtained his reports. He was also asked to continue to send copies of his subsequent reports to the bureau. These reports were not written, he noted, as finished work products; they were updates on what he was learning from his various sources. But he said, "My track record as a professional is second to no one."

The former spy told me that he was reluctant to be talking with a reporter. He pointed out this was not his common practice. "Someone like me stays in the shadows," he said. But he indicated that he believed this material was important, and he was unsure how the FBI was handling it. Certainly, there had been no public signs that the FBI was investigating these allegations. (The FBI at the time refused to tell me if it had received the memos or if it was examining the allegations.)

"This was something of huge significance, way above party politics," the former spy told me. "I think [Trump's] own party should be aware of this stuff as well." He noted that he believed Russian intelligence's efforts aimed at Trump were part of Vladimir Putin's campaign to "disrupt and divide and discredit the system in Western democracies."

After speaking with the former counterintelligence official, I was able to confirm his identity and expertise. A senior US administration official told me that he had worked with the onetime spook and that the former spy had an established and respected track record of providing US government agencies with accurate and valuable information about sensitive national security matters. "He is a credible source who has provided information to the US government for a long time, which senior officials have found to be highly credible," this US official said.

I also was able to review the memos the former spy had written, and I quoted a few key portions in my article. I did not report the specific allegations—especially the lurid allegations about Trump's personal behavior—because they could not be confirmed. The newsworthy story at this point was that a credible intelligence official had provided information to the FBI alleging Moscow had tried to cultivate and compromise a presidential candidate. And the issue at hand—at a time when the FBI was publicly disclosing information about its investigation of Hillary Clinton's handling of her email at the State Department—was whether the FBI had thoroughly investigated these allegations related to Russia and Trump. I also didn't post the memos, as BuzzFeed did this week, because the documents contained information about the former spy's sources that could place these people at risk.

When I spoke with the former spy, he appeared confident about his material—acknowledging these memos were works in progress—and genuinely concerned about the implications of the allegations. He came across as a serious and somber professional who was not eager to talk to a journalist or cause a public splash. He realized he was taking a risk, but he seemed duty bound to share information he deemed crucial. He noted that these allegations deserved a "substantial inquiry" within the FBI. Yet so far, the FBI has not yet said whether such an investigation has been conducted. As the former spy said to me, "The story has to come out."

11 Jan 20:45

Trump refuses to drop business ties - Politico


Trump refuses to drop business ties
Donald Trump will not sell his business nor place his assets in a blind trust while serving as president, lawyers involved in the negotiations said Wednesday ahead of a long-awaited news conference. Instead, his company will not enter into new foreign ...
Donald Trump's News Conference: Full Transcript and VideoNew York Times
Donald Trump Hands Business To Two Sons, Falling Short of Full DivestmentHuffington Post
Trump to hand over businesses to sonsThe Hill
Los Angeles Times -USA TODAY -CBS News -Yahoo News
all 628 news articles »
11 Jan 16:16

Carl's Jr. Employees Tell Elizabeth Warren What It's Like Working for Trump's Labor Department Pick

by Patrick Caldwell

Former employees of Carl's Jr., the company run by Andrew Puzder, Donald Trump's choice to head the Department of Labor, got to testify on Capitol Hill today—but not in his confirmation hearing. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had scheduled the meeting to showcase how Democrats might grill Puzder. Dems had asked for former employees who would testify when Puzder appears before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), but HELP chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) shot down that request.

It's easy to see why. "Mr. Pudzer took a company that I loved and turned it into a business that makes money by stealing from its workers," Laura McDonald, a former 20-year employee at Carl's Jr., told the hearing. "I honestly can't think of anyone less qualified to enforce laws that are supposed to protect employees."

McDonald and two other Carl's Jr. employees offered emotional testimonies about their poor working conditions and struggles to get by on a Carl's Jr. salary. Lupe Guzman, a 47-year-old single mother of six who runs the graveyard shift at a Carl's Jr. in Las Vegas, told the senators about surviving on $8.75 per hour in a job she's held for seven years. She said employees don't take breaks mandated by state law and alleged that paychecks excluded hours she'd worked. She also said she's been held up at gunpoint twice, and the company never inquired about her well-being, just whether anything had been stolen. "I mean nothing to them," she said through tears. "I'm just somebody who covers a shift that nobody wants. All they care about is protecting their money."

Guzman said she is barely scraping by—unable to fix her car, with rent and bills eating up her paycheck. "I work almost every day and am still considered poor," she said. "I live on housing assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid just to survive. If I didn't survive on these things, I would be homeless with my kids."

"I also want to say loud and clear about what this means," Warren said in the hearing. "That a giant corporation would build its entire business model around squeezing workers like you…and then count on the taxpayers to come up with food stamps, to come up with housing assistance, to come up with Medicaid. To come up with all the help that you need just barely to hold it together, so they can maximize their profits. This is just not right in America. I believe in capitalism, but I believe that these companies need to pay the full cost of keeping their workers working."

Puzder is CEO of the company that owns Hardee's and Carl's Jr., franchises that the current Labor Department has found to have violated wage laws in about 60 percent of its investigations of locations. Puzder himself has often been dismissive of his company's workers and has been skeptical of raising the minimum wage. (He's been vague on his exact views but was not a fan of President Barack Obama's calls to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10.) "Mr. Puzder also has a long record of cheating workers out of overtime," Warren said Tuesday. "And he has paid out millions of dollars to settle claims when he was caught cheating." (My colleague Tom Philpott wrote last month about a $9 million agreement the company reached in 2004 to settle overtime complaints.)

Midway through the Democrats' trial of Puzder, CNBC reported that Trump's man wouldn't be getting a hearing next week as initially scheduled. Instead, Puzder might not face congressional confirmation until February.

McDonald emphasized that the company had changed under Puzder's leadership. "When Carl Karcher was alive and in charge, we felt like someone in the company at least cared about the workers," she said. "Since Mr. Karcher passed away, CKE has tightened its budgets in a way that makes it impossible to do the job without working off the clock. Worse, the company just seemed not to care about the employees anymore."

10 Jan 20:46

This 1958 TV western predicted Trump with a character named... Trump

by David Pescovitz

A 1958 episode of the television western Trackdown features a con artist named Trump who wants to build a wall to protect a town from destruction. From the Classic TV Archive:

Walter Trump, a confidence man, puts on a long robe and holds a tent meeting in the town of Talpa. He tells the townspeople that a cosmic explosion will rain fire on the town and that he is the only one that can save them from death. Ranger Hoby Gilman attempts to prove Trump is a fraud.

And a bit of dialog from the episode:

Narrator: Hoby had checked the town. The people were ready to believe. Like sheep they ran to the slaughterhouse. And waiting for them was the high priest of fraud.

Trump: I am the only one. Trust me. I can build a wall around your homes that nothing can penetrate.

Townperson: What do we do? How can we save ourselves?

Trump: You ask how do you build that wall. You ask, and I'm here to tell you.

"Trackdown Shakedown" (Snopes, thanks David Steinberg!)

10 Jan 20:12

First Time In History, Senator Testifies Against Nominated Colleague

by Frances Langum

Cory Booker is about to make history. NBC News:

Booker's office said Monday that the Senate historian had been unable to find any previous instance of a sitting senator testifying against a fellow sitting senator nominated for a Cabinet position.

Noting that "I'm breaking a pretty long Senate tradition," the New Jersey Democrat said Monday on MSNBC's "All In": "We've seen Jeff Sessions — that's Senator Jeff Sessions — consistently voting against or speaking out against key ideals of the Voting Rights Act, taking measures to try to block criminal justice reform."

"He has a posture and a positioning that I think represent a real danger to our country," Booker said.

Congressmen John Lewis of Georgia and Cedric Richmond of Louisiana= (Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus) are also planning to testify against Sessions.

10 Jan 18:12

Webcomic explains how weakening the Voting Rights Act led to voter suppression in 2016

by Cory Doctorow

On The Nib, Andy Warner posts a quick primer on the Voting Rights Act, which was weakened in a 2013 Supreme Court case that struck down the requirement for districts with a history of racist voter suppression to get federal oversight for changes to their voting procedures; of note is the section on Jeff Sessions, whose Attorney General confirmation hearing is underway right now. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

10 Jan 18:12

Researchers discover that experimental Alzheimer's drug causes teeth to regrow tissue lost to cavities

by Cory Doctorow

A paper from a group of Kings College London researchers documents an unexpected and welcome side effect from an experimental anti-Alzheimer's drug called Tideglusib: test subjects experienced a regeneration of dentin, the bony part of teeth that sits between the pulp and the enamel. (more…)

10 Jan 14:52

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the...

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” 

- President Theodore Roosevelt

 “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.“ 

- George Orwell

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and the government when it deserves it." 

- Mark Twain

07 Jan 00:43

Read the US Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking

by AJ Vicens

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday released its declassified report on Russia's efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election by hacking Democratic outfits during the campaign.

The report comes a day after top intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the issue. During the hearing, Clapper said the intelligence community has grown more "resolute" in its assessment that Russian intelligence was involved in the hacks aimed at the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. On Friday, Clapper, Rogers, FBI Director Jim Comey, and CIA Director John Brennan briefed President-elect Donald Trump on the classified evidence linking Russia to the hacks and the leaking of the swiped emails. After the briefing, Trump released a statement noting that Russia is one of many actors that try to hack US targets, but the statement did not acknowledge the US intelligence community conclusion that Moscow had mounted the cyberattack against the United States as part of an operation to help elect Trump president.

ICA 2017 01 (PDF)
ICA 2017 01 (Text)
05 Jan 20:22

James Clapper: Russia Definitely Guilty Of Hacking, Fake News

by John Amato

Those seventeen intelligence agencies that usually hate each other -- but in the case of Russian interference in our election -- agreed unanimously? James Clapper is the overseer for all of them. And that "unanimous" part impressed even him.

As he testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday morning, Clapper reaffirmed that Russia was involved in trying to disrupt the US Presidential election of 2016.

Senator Jack Redd asked, "Aspects of this Russian hacking was not just disseminating information they had exploited from computers, but also the allegations of fake news sites, fake news stories that were propagated. Is that an accurate -- or is that one aspect of this problem?"

Clapper replied, "This was a multifaceted campaign, so the hacking was only one part of it. And it also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news."

Reed followed up and asked, "Does that continue?"

Clapper said, "Yes."

Reed continued, "Do you believe that they made little attempts to cover up what they were doing as a way to make a point politically?"

James Clapper wouldn't get into detail during this hearing because his agencies are giving Congress a report next week. But Clapper did say, "Without pre-empting the report, that's classical trade-craft that the Russians have long, long used to -- particularly when they're promulgating so-called disinformation, they'll often try to hide the source of that, or mask it to deliberately mask the source."

read more

05 Jan 20:13

Selfie stick in 1969 Czechoslovak science fiction movie

by Mark Frauenfelder

I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen is a 1969 Czechoslovak science fiction comedy film directed by Oldřich Lipský. Wikipedia says "it became known for the scene showing the first selfie stick."

Here's the full movie. The opening seconds probably raised some eyebrows at the time:

05 Jan 17:34

This bird just loves riding a moving sidewalk

by Caroline Siede

YouTube user Margara Francis uploaded this delightful video of a bird enjoying the hell out of a moving sidewalk at the airport. In fact, the bird likes the trip so much, he flies back to take it all over again.

[via The Laughing Squid]

04 Jan 23:30

Intel Expert: Trump 'One Step Away From Treason'

by Karoli Kuns
Intel Expert: Trump 'One Step Away From Treason'

Malcolm Nance took to Twitter today to slam Donald Trump after the torrent of love from Trump to Julian Assange and Putin.

This is a pretty stunning thing for an intelligence expert to say. I'm sure he didn't do so lightly at all.

04 Jan 23:29

Sanders Throws Gauntlet At Trump: Keep Your Promise Or Admit You Lied!

by Karoli Kuns

Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor today to challenge President-elect Trump to keep his campaign promises or admit he lied to those who voted for Trump.

After recounting all of the times Trump promised he wouldn't touch Medicare or Social Security, Sanders dropped the wedge.

I'll let the (rough) transcript speak for itself, or better yet, watch the video above.

Well, it seems to me that Mr. Trump right now has got to do one of two things.

Number one, if all that he was talking about was campaign rhetoric, then what he was obliged to do now is to tell the American people, "I was lying. Yeah, I said that I would not support cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but I was lying. It was a campaign ruse. I just said what came to my mind to get votes. I have no intention of keeping my word."

And if that's what he believes, if that's what the case was, let him come forward and say that. But if that is not what the case is, if he was sincere, then I would hope that tomorrow or maybe today he could send out a tweet and tell his Republican colleagues to stop wasting their time and all of our time.

For Mr. Trump to tell the American people that he will veto any proposal that cuts Medicare, that cuts Medicaid and that cuts Social Security.

read more

03 Jan 06:43

Wall Street Journal's top editor says they won't call Trump a liar when Trump lies

by Cory Doctorow

On this weekend's Meet the Press, WSJ editor in chief Gerard Baker said that even when he was clear that Trump had uttered a falsehood, his paper would not call that falsehood a lie, because to do so would ascribe "moral intent" to Trump; instead, the WSJ will call Trump's lies "challengeable" and "questionable." (more…)

02 Jan 17:13

Blue feed, red feed: side-by-side comparisons of social media feeds by politics

by Andrea James

One of the most compelling data visualization projects from this year was Wall Street Journal's Blue Feed, Red Feed, which lets readers see exactly how divergent social media feeds have become, depending on someone's media diet. By coincidence, I capped an example that puts Boing Boing in their blue feed column. (more…)
01 Jan 17:47

Kurt Eichenwald: Fox News Is As Big A Liar As Trump

by Frances Langum
Kurt Eichenwald: Fox News Is As Big A Liar As Trump

It's about time someone told the rest of the media to stop cowering to Fox News. They. Don't. Matter. And by the way? You are never going to get a job there, Mr. Reporter, so stop hedging your coverage of them.

---Rough Transcript---

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC: Concerns for Donald Trump's conflicts of interest are grow growing by the day. According to the President-elect, it's not a big deal. The media and American public remain in the dark about Trump's financial entanglements all over the globe. We've never seen his tax returns and now he is saying a presser is scheduled for "sometime in January." Trump has not held a true press conference since July and tweets and brief impromptu question and answer sessions outside his Mar-a-Lago resort don't count. Amidst outright lies from the President-elect. that "millions of illegals voted for his opponent" means the media must be vigilant with accuracy, context and tireless questioning. How do we in the media arise to the occasion?

..Kurt [Eichenwald], I have to start with you. Rather than address the legal controversy, Trump defends it on Twitter and complains about his son being pressured out of doing a fund-raiser. Here's the tweet below,

30 Dec 17:04

George Eastman Museum releases a quarter million photographs online

by Andrea James

Thanks to an online platform overhauled and reopened last month, visitors can now view hundreds of thousands of images in the George Eastman Museum collection. Works include vintage materials like Eadweard J. Muybridge's famous photographic studies of animal movement and 450 works by Andy Warhol, including this self-portrait. (more…)
29 Dec 05:44

Paul Ryan Wants To Shut Down Live Video Streams In The House

by Karoli Kuns

When Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor in June over gun safety laws to protect children and innocent bystanders, Paul Ryan shut down the CSPAN cameras to deny the public access to their protest.

Undeterred, Democratic congressmen began using live-streaming services like Facebook Live to keep their message from being squelched.

Paul Ryan wasn't happy about that, and plans to put an end to live streams, according to Bloomberg News.

Under the proposed new rules package, which was seen by Bloomberg, members could face a $500 fine through deductions to their paychecks for a first offense of using electronic photography or audio or visual recording, as well as for broadcasting from the chamber’s floor. A $2,500 fine would be leveled for the next such offense and each subsequent violation.

The new rules also clarify which conduct is to be deemed disorderly or disruptive during floor proceedings, including blocking access by other members to microphones or what is known as “the well” -- the front of the chamber.

How is this not a violation of the First Amendment? Elected officials in a building paid for and maintained by taxpayers to conduct the public's business clearly have a First Amendment right to be heard, right?

read more

22 Dec 00:43

Canada's telcoms regulator declares internet an "essential service"

by Cory Doctorow


After decades of allowing anti-competitive mergers in the TV, radio, phone and internet sectors, Canada's telcoms regulator, the CRTC, has taken an important step to address the underperformance of Canada's monopolistic, bumbling phone companies and cable operators, declaring internet access to be an "essential service" and thus something that operators must offer in all territories in which they operate. (more…)

19 Dec 20:31


18 Dec 20:17

Trump team collusion with Russia an 'open question,' says Clinton aide - Reuters


Trump team collusion with Russia an 'open question,' says Clinton aide
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a USA Thank You Tour event in Mobile, Alabama, U.S., December 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson. By David Morgan | WASHINGTON. WASHINGTON A top aide to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign ...
Podesta suggests Trump campaign may have colluded with RussiaWashington Examiner (blog)

all 490 news articles »
18 Dec 20:16

SNL's Hillary Clinton Channels Love Actually To Woo Electoral College Voter

by Nicole Belle

I take a back seat to no one on my love for Love Actually (hear that, Tweety?), but this might be the most perfect use of the "To Me, You're Perfect" scene, where Hillary Clinton (as portrayed by Kate McKinnon) silently woos a Electoral College voter to please, PLEASE not vote for Donald Trump today.

Because Bish, he cray!

This is not the only appeal to the Electoral College voters to change the outcome. Earlier this week, celebrities like Martin Sheen, Debra Messing, James Cromwell and Bob Odenkirk put out a video asking the voters to vote for anyone but Trump.

18 Dec 20:08

NAACP Announces Lawsuit Against North Carolina Coup

by Frances Langum

It took all of zero seconds for the decision to be made, bet.

On this morning's AM Joy, Reverend William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP, announced that his group plans to sue (likely in Federal Court because that's how you deal with the well-known garage band Jim Crow and the Confederacy) over this week's Republican legislature coup.

Barber didn't mince words connecting this week's power grab with the segregationist impulse that has defined southern Republican politics since 1964.


[VIDEO] PROTESTOR: I can defend my country. But somebody that tell us we can't exercise our constitutional rights. So when I knock on this door today, I knock on this door for freedom! I knock on this door for democracy! I knock ON this door for North Carolina!

read more

16 Dec 17:37

McCrory Is Having Citizens Arrested For Protesting His Disgusting Coup In NC

by Sarah P
McCrory Is Having Citizens Arrested For Protesting His Disgusting Coup In NC

Pat McCrory and his GOP cronies in North Carolina pushed through an insane amount of bills in the last 24 hours with one goal in mind - to limit the power of the incoming Democratic Governor, Roy Cooper. The whole thing is one big power grab and a giant temper tantrum because McCrory lost. Waa waa.

Well, tonight things have taken a nasty turn. Following this coup, protestors have descended upon the North Carolina State House. The New Civil Rights Movement has an excellent post with details about exactly what is going on. Some of what they are posting:

Chapel Hill council person was arrested:

Media is being kicked out:

read more

16 Dec 00:37

Should Trump Be Investigated?

by Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery
It's going to take everything we've got to cover the Trump administration. Please make a tax-deductible donation to Mother Jones to help us do it

We really should have seen this coming. On Monday, amid a whirlwind of shocking news about Russian interference with America's election, Donald Trump had some news of his own—or rather, non-news. He canceled a press conference at which he was supposed to explain how he would disentangle the conflicts of interest posed by his far-flung business interests.

It wasn't the first time Trump had bailed on answering questions: From the time he declared that "we're working on" releasing his tax returns, to when he vowed to produce evidence that he hadn't groped a woman on a plane, to the promised press conference to clear up his wife's immigration history, this is a pattern we're sure to see again.

But why is it only now, well past the election, that Trump is being pushed to address how he would deal with banks to which he is in debt, or foreign leaders who have a say over his company's projects? Those questions were there for anyone to see, and investigate, the minute he announced he was running. And yet, they weren't a focus for media, with a few notable exceptions, until far too late in the game.

Why? Simply put: Math. We've gone into the problems with the dominant media business model before—advertising pays fractions of a penny per click, which means that publishers have to pump out buckets of fast, cheap content to make ends meet, and that leaves little opportunity for serious investigation. Trump understands this well, and he plays that dynamic like a violin.

Grim, right? But there is an alternative to this model. Reader support has allowed MoJo reporters to go after essential stories, no matter what it takes.

In normal times, right now we'd be in the middle of the kind of routine end-of-year fundraising drive many nonprofits do in December ("We need to raise $250,000 by December 31!"). But these aren't normal times; in the weeks since the election, we've seen record interest in the journalism we do, because more and more people see this work—digging for the truth and reporting it without fear—as essential for our democracy.

So enough with the tired marketing pitches. We want to make the case for your support based on the journalism itself. We want to show why it's worth your investment. (And of course, if you already get it, you can make your tax-deductible one-time or monthly donation now!)

Take that Trump conflict-of-interest issue. Back in June, MoJo reporter Russ Choma and our Washington bureau chief, David Corn, broke the story of Trump's remarkable relationship with Deutsche Bank—a huge German financial institution that has lent Trump a lot of money. About $364 million, to be exact.

That's some serious leverage over a man who is worth, by one of the more generous estimates, about $3.7 billion. And it gets worse: Deutsche Bank manipulated interest rates before the financial crash, and the federal government wants them to pay a $14 billion settlement. Deutsche Bank doesn't like that. As president, Russ and David pointed out, Trump "would have a strong disincentive to apply pressure on Deutsche Bank."

Just consider that for a second: The president's personal business interests are in direct conflict with those of America's taxpayers.

When we first published that piece, Trump wasn't even the nominee yet. Hillary Clinton was still fighting off Bernie Sanders' challenge. It was, at that point, just a warning sign—a check-engine light, you might say, for democracy.

But that's not what the rest of the media universe was concerned with at the time. The headlines were dominated by horse race polls, and in the Hollywood Reporter, veteran media writer Michael Wolff recounted chatting with Trump over a pint of vanilla Häagen-Dazs as the candidate gushed about media moguls. On Rupert Murdoch: "Tremendous guy and I think we have a very good relationship." On former CBS and Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone: "He'd give me anything. Loved me." On current CBS Chairman Les Moonves (who famously noted that Trump's bomb-throwing "may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS"): "Great guy. The greatest. We're on the same page. We think alike." And so on.

You've got to discount all that for the Trump factor—nothing he says can be assumed to be true. But what we do know is that, as Wolff notes, Trump "has a long, intimate relationship with nearly every significant player in the media…He may know few people in Washington, and care about them less, but he knows his moguls and where they rank on the modern suck-up-to list."

The Moonveses and Redstones of the world don't issue memos directing their newsrooms to ignore the GOP nominee's scandalous conflicts of interest. But they don't need to. The corporations they run are built to maximize advertising revenue, which comes from maximum eyeballs at minimum cost. There are people in all of their news divisions who push back against that gravitational force, but everyone knows what the bottom line is.

Russ, for his part, kept plugging away. On August 15, he published a story headlined, "Trump Has a Huge Conflict of Interest That No One's Talking About." The Trump International Hotel in Washington, Russ reported, is a $200 million venture, run by Ivanka Trump, for the hospitality branch of the president-elect's company. Its building is federal property, and to lease it Trump agreed to pay way more than any other bidder. If the hotel doesn't turn a profit, it will have to negotiate with the federal government—run by the hotel's owner—to pay less. If it does turn a profit, it will have to charge rates way above any other Washington hotel.

Right now, the cheapest room in January—inauguration weekend is sold out—goes for about $625 a night, though you can snag the Ivanka Suite for $1,050 and the Postmaster Suite for $4,450. And already, corporate honchos and foreign diplomats are lining up to pay. ("Spending money at Trump's hotel is an easy, friendly gesture to the new president" for foreign dignitaries, the Washington Post reported a week after Election Day. One diplomat told the paper, "Why wouldn't I stay at his hotel, so I can tell the new president, 'I love your new hotel!'") As banana-republic palm-greasing goes, it's an incredible bargain.

Some reporters would have called it a day after that initial story. But Russ, like all great journalists, is a bit of a pit bull. He worked for a newspaper in New Hampshire before joining the watchdog Center for Responsive Politics and then making the jump to MoJo. He's always been drawn to money and influence reporting, he says, because "if you ask enough questions, that's where you wind up. You talk about nearly any national policy issue, it almost always leads you to campaign donations and lobbyists. And with Trump, we have this new dimension—that his own personal wealth seems to be an even more consuming passion. There's so much we don't know, it's mind-boggling."

Russ kept documenting Trump's conflicts, reporting on his massive debt and (in a story together with our reporter Hannah Levintova) his business in Russia, including his relationship with an oligarch close to Putin—so close that Trump tweeted, "Do you think [Putin] will become my new best friend?"). He was the first, after the election, to really drill into a term that quickly became part of everyone's political vocabulary: the emoluments clause, in which the Constitution forbids the president from taking gifts from foreign governments. None other than George W. Bush's former White House ethics lawyer, Richard Painter, told Russ that an emoluments clause violation would make "Hillary's emails look like a walk in the park."

The day Trump announced that he was canceling the press conference focused on his business, Russ tallied up all the debt Trump owes. Take a moment to absorb the enormity of what this chart represents:

Russ (along with a handful of others) had labored away at this issue for six months when it finally became headline material for the rest of the press. Today, outlets from the New York Times to National Public Radio are digging in, and 17 members of Congress are demanding an investigation.

And here's the key: Russ was able to keep going because of you. No advertiser or other source of revenue would have made that work possible. With news, you get what you pay for.

Investigative reporting doesn't always have an immediate, visible impact. Sometimes you see a dramatic event—like when the US Department of Justice announced last summer that it was no longer going to do business with private prison companies shortly after we published a big investigation. Sometimes it's more opaque and slow-building, as with the conflict-of-interest reporting that has finally broken through. But the results always come—and that, not a stock certificate or a tote bag, is the reward for our readers. (Though if you're in the market for a tote bag, or a Hellraiser baby onesie, we have those too!)

In the next four years, we're going to focus on one thing above all others: fighting creeping authoritarianism and the lies that advance it. We'll fight them with truth, by digging deep and calling a spade a spade, whether anyone else is willing to or not. (Just a couple of weeks ago, CBS—"great guy" Les Moonves' network—amplified Team Trump's slur against democracy, that "millions" of people might have voted illegally, without so much as a qualifier.)

And we're going to need you to join us in that fight. You can make a tax-deductible one-time or monthly donation to support our work.

Make no mistake: Democracy's fabric is under threat. Not by a coup d'état or an invasion from outside, but because we have allowed its critical institutions—from access to the ballot to the vigor of the press—to fray.

At a time like this, it's important to remember that trends don't just go one way.

Here at Mother Jones, we've seen that there is an enormous appetite for vigorous, fearless reporting—now more than ever. In October and November, visits to our website were 50 percent higher than usual, approaching 15 million each month. And while we don't force you to pay to read our stories—because it's important for this journalism to be accessible as widely as possible—a growing number of you are choosing to subscribe or donate. That is incredibly heartening, because it means you feel the same urgency we do: Right now, none of us needs to be motivated by some arbitrary fundraising goal. Covering Trump, and what he represents, will take everything we've got.

We know there's a lot of competition for your tax-deductible year-end support. We hope that supporting independent journalism makes the cut. Readers, as you know, account for 70 percent of our budget. Without you, our pages would be empty save for advertising and cats.

That might be something Trump would like to see. But you—and we—are not going to let it happen.

16 Dec 00:35

Who voted and who didn't?

by (digby)
Who voted and who didn't?

by digby

This post election polling offers some interesting details:

Here are just a few of the results:

There's more here. 

15 Dec 17:52

hominishostilis: destinyrush: Denzel Washington blasts...



Denzel Washington blasts journalists everywhere for promoting fake news.

Last week on the red carpet for his new movie “Fences”, Denzel Washington was asked about the hot issue of these days - fake news, in particular a fake story that he appeared to be involved in. Not only did he nail the answer, he gave journalists everywhere a very important lesson. 

“Anything you practice you’ll get good at. Including BS.”

Watch video


Guys got a point