Tag Archives: bragg

Russians Bragged That They Could Use Michael Flynn to Influence Trump, CNN Reports

Mother Jones

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Russian officials believed that Michael Flynn was an ally whom they could use to influence President Donald Trump, CNN reported Friday night. The network cites “multiple government officials” who were aware of conversations within the Russian government that were intercepted during the 2016 campaign.

“This was a five-alarm fire from early on,” one former Obama administration official said, “the way the Russians were talking about him.” Another former administration official said Flynn was viewed as a potential national security problem.

The conversations picked up by US intelligence officials indicated the Russians regarded Flynn as an ally, sources said. That relationship developed throughout 2016, months before Flynn was caught on an intercepted call in December speaking with Russia’s ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak. That call, and Flynn’s changing story about it, ultimately led to his firing as Trump’s first national security adviser.

Flynn resigned from the position of National Security Adviser in February, 18 days after then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House that Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with the Russian ambassador and, as a result, could be a target of blackmail.

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Russians Bragged That They Could Use Michael Flynn to Influence Trump, CNN Reports

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Industrial Production Is Not Really "Surging"

Mother Jones

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Donald Trump is bragging today that industrial production “surged” in April. And sure enough, it was up 1.7 percent compared to last year. That’s not bad. But you know what else increased since last year? The population of the United States. Here’s the industrial production index from the Federal Reserve adjusted for population growth:

That tiny blip at the end represents the surge. So don’t get too excited. Per capita industrial production in the US has been roughly flat for the past four years and nothing that Trump has done so far—or is likely to do—has much chance of changing that dramatically.


Industrial Production Is Not Really "Surging"

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Puerto Rico Files for Bankruptcy the Day After Trump Admin Brags About Blocking Funds

Mother Jones

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After a day of sometimes violent demonstrations in San Juan protesting austerity measures and government handling of the debt crisis, Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló, announced Wednesday morning that he would move the island’s crushing debts into the bankruptcy-like process created under federal legislation to deal with the crisis. Unlike public entities and cities in the states, Puerto Rico, essentially a colony of the US, is prohibited from filing for bankruptcy under federal law. This legislation created a different option that allows a federal court to restructure more than $70 billion—the largest such restructuring in the history of the US municipal bond market.

The announcement comes after a flurry of lawsuits filed against the island’s government by creditors Tuesday morning, the first to land after local officials’ proposal for partial repayment of the debt was rejected by lenders last weekend. Under legislation passed last summer, known as the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), the island had until May 1 to negotiate a plan to address the debts while also providing basic services for the island’s 3.5 million residents. The deal from the local government last Friday offered as much as 77 cents on the dollar to some lenders while offering 58 cents on the dollar to others, according to Bloomberg, but the lenders called the deal unworkable. Hedge funds such as Aurelius Capital Management and Monarch Alternative Captial, and Ambac Financial Group, Inc., an insurer that owned Puerto Rican bonds, had been prevented from filing suit until May 1 under PROMESA.

The suits came a day after thousands took the streets in a national strike throughout Puerto Rico protesting cuts proposed by the board that was created under PROMESA, which increased water rates, while cutting funds to schools, public-sector jobs and pensions, health care spending, and the island’s university system totaling roughly $450 million over three years. After a day of largely peaceful protests, police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse some protesters, according to local reports, and at least 17 people were arrested. Students and other protesters have demanded an independent audit of the debt, among other things, as the island grapples with the issue.

“As time goes by and austerity measures start to strike on more and more people, people are going to stand up and respond to what is the government violence against the people who are left in very difficult conditions,” Mariana Nogales Molinelli, an attorney in Puerto Rico and former candidate for the island’s non-voting representative to the US Congress, tells Mother Jones.

Nogales Molinelli says that the cuts by both the government and the control board to public sector workers and collective bargaining rights have made a lot of people angry—and not just university students. On April 18, the Puerto Rican Senate approved a bill that eliminated the publicly-funded audit commission responsible for insuring the debts were issued lawfully and were not in violation of island’s constitution. Some of the protesters at the capital were retired police, according to Joel Cintrón Arbasetti, a journalist with the Center for Investigative Reporting in Puerto Rico. Nogales thinks more police will join the protests.

“My guess is that part of the police force will be joining the people because they are going to be affected also,” Nogales Molinelli says. “Their kids’ schools will be closed, and they will not have enough medical insurance. The situation could explode because of all the austerity measures and they are going to have to work under much more pressure and in conditions that are going to be very difficult for them.”

Nogales says there have also been reports of some violent responses by police towards protesters and those perceived to be organizing protests. During a protest at the capital, she saw a police officer take a protester’s sign and hit her over the head with it. The Puerto Rico Police Department is currently under a consent decree with the US Department of Justice in an effort to become more professional and accountable after years of documented corruption and violence against the population.

Back on the mainland, Puerto Rico has been a political football for Trump and Congress during negotiations for a federal spending bill, with the president implying that Puerto Ricans, who have been US citizens for 100 years, were not.

When the budget deal was announced Monday morning, Democrats managed to get “an emergency injection of $295 million” to help shore up the island’s Medicaid program through the end of the year, according to Reuters. On Tuesday, Office of Budget and Management Director Mick Mulvaney bragged during a White House Press briefing that Republicans and the president had actually prevented any money from going to Puerto Rico, and that the $295 million had come from funds not previously allocated.

“You had the Democrats crying out that they got $295 million for Puerto Rico,” Mulvaney told reporters, “Did not cost the taxpayer a penny. They wanted new money, they wanted a bailout. We wouldn’t give it to them.”

It’s unclear how the restructuring will proceed as the provision in PROMESA has never been used, but the New York Times reports that Chief Justice John Roberts of the US Supreme Court will now appoint a bankruptcy judge to handle the case.

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Puerto Rico Files for Bankruptcy the Day After Trump Admin Brags About Blocking Funds

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Immigration and the Economy

Mother Jones

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This post isn’t about immigration and the economy. It’s about immigration. And it’s about the economy. First up, here’s a survey from Pew Research about positive attitudes toward the economy:

Here’s the interesting part. It’s normal to assume that people think better of the economy when one of their own is president. But is it true? During the recovery from the Great Recession, Republicans consistently rated the economy worse than Democrats. When Trump took over, their views suddenly skyrocketed, with a full 61 percent now having a positive view of the economy. Apparently Republicans do indeed view the economy through a partisan lens.

If Democrats followed that pattern, their view of the economy would have plummeted in 2017. But it didn’t. It went up again, at about the same rate as previous years. Democrats, it turns out, don’t view the economy solely through a partisan lens. If you’re looking for an explanation, my guess is Fox News and the rest of the conservative disinformation machine. You can take your own guess in comments.

And now for immigration. Last month, DHS Secretary John Kelly bragged that illegal border crossings were down. This month he crowed about it again. But a sharp-eyed reader pointed out that there’s really nothing unusual about the latest numbers:

Border apprehensions in March have been on a steady downward trend for nearly two decades. This year’s numbers are just following that trend. Last month I thought that President Trump’s fear campaign might be having a real impact, but now I doubt it. There’s no special reason at all to think that anything he’s doing is having much effect at all.

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Immigration and the Economy

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Trump Declares “National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month”

Mother Jones

In an announcement late Friday, President Donald Trump proclaimed April as National Sexual Assault and Prevention Month, vowing to commit his administration to raising awareness on the issue and “reduce and eventually end violence” against women, children, and men.

“This includes supporting victims, preventing future abuse, and prosecuting offenders to the full extent of the law,” a statement from the White House read. “I have already directed the Attorney General to create a task force on crime reduction and public safety. This task force will develop strategies to reduce crime and propose new legislation to fill gaps in existing laws.”

“In the face of sexual violence, we must commit to providing meaningful support and services for victims and survivors in the United States and around the world.”

National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month occurs every year. Here’s a reminder that Trump has been accused of sexually assaulting a string of women. During the 2016 campaign, a video emerged showing Trump bragging about groping a woman without her permission. Despite the recording, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become the president of the United States.

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Trump Declares “National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month”

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Watch Trump Call Obamacare Repeal "So Easy"

Mother Jones

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After a week of emergency meetings and last-minute attempts to unify their party, Republican leaders pulled their Obamacare repeal bill from the House floor Friday when it became clear they didn’t have enough support to pass.

The decision comes as a major defeat for President Donald Trump, who during the campaign bragged that Obamacare repeal would be “so easy.”

“Together we’re going to deliver real change that once again puts Americans first,” Trump said at an October rally in Florida. “That begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare…You’re going to have such great health care, at a tiny fraction of the cost—and it’s going to be so easy.”

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Trump also argued on the campaign trail that electing a Republican-controlled Congress would allow him to quickly dismantle the health care law and pass other pieces of legislation. “With a Republican House and Senate, we will immediately repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare,” Trump said at another event. “A Republican House and Senate can swiftly enact the other items in my contract immediately, including massive tax reduction.”

“We will repeal and replace Obamacare, and we will do it very, very quickly,” Trump said during the final week of the campaign. “It is a catastrophe.”

Trump’s confidence in his ability to win the health care fight continued through the first few weeks of his presidency. On February 9, he bragged that when it came to repealing Obamacare, “Nobody can do that like me.”

By the end of February, Trump had changed his tune somewhat. “Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” the president said. “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

One person who certainly did know was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who successfully shepherded Obamacare through the House in 2010. On Thursday, she mocked Trump for trying to rush the repeal bill through the chamber, calling it a “Rookie’s error.”

“Clearly you are not ready,” Pelosi said.

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Watch Trump Call Obamacare Repeal "So Easy"

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Trump Brags About Job Growth That Happened Under Obama

Mother Jones

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After repeatedly accusing the government of inflating its monthly jobs reports while on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump on Friday praised the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest numbers, which showed 227,000 new jobs in January, as “really big league.” He even appeared to take credit for the report, even though the data were collected during Barack Obama’s final days in office.

“A couple of things happened this morning,” Trump said referring to the report. “So we are very happy about that. I think that it’s really big league. We’re bringing jobs back, we’re bringing down your taxes. We are going to get rid of your regulations.”

Conservative outlets, including Fox News and Breitbart, also misleadingly implied that the reported job growth came under Trump:

While running for president, Trump took a strikingly different approach to the Labor Department’s reports. He routinely accused the Obama administration of purposely understating the true unemployment rate, which he believed to be as high as 42 percent.

“Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment,” Trump said at a rally nearly a year ago. “The number is probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.”

Some of the president’s Cabinet picks, including treasury secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin and labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder, have also mocked the government’s official unemployment rate.

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Trump Brags About Job Growth That Happened Under Obama

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2016 Was a Really Bad Year. These Folks Made It Better.

Mother Jones

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2016 was certainly a bad year. The planet continued to get hotter (spelling doom for future habitants of Earth), natural disasters wreaked havoc all over the world, white nationalists and neo-Nazis stopped hiding on the fringes of society, and Prince, David Bowie, and Carrie Fisher left us way too soon. But before we consider 2016 as being totally bleak, let’s pause and remember a few folks who made a bad year better. From smart kids to activists and politicians, here are some of the bright spots.

Sarah McBride: Sarah McBride made history this year when she became the first transgender woman to speak at a major-party convention. “Will we be a nation where there is only one way to love, only one way to look, and only one way to live?” McBride, the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, asked fellow Democrats gathered to nominate Hillary Clinton. “Or will we be a nation where everyone has the freedom to live openly and equally?” Growing up in Wilmington, Delaware, McBride didn’t think she could live authentically as herself while achieving her professional goals in politics. Since coming out in 2012, she’s been proving her younger self wrong, breaking down barriers and fighting for transgender rights. As an intern, McBride became one of the first transgender people to work in the White House, and she played an instrumental role in getting transgender rights legislation passed in Delaware. She also made waves this year when a bathroom selfie she took in North Carolina went viral after state lawmakers approved legislation barring transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice.

Mari Copeny: Mari Copeny is better known as Little Miss Flint. In 2014, her hometown’s water was poisoned with lead when the city of Flint, Michigan, changed to an improperly treated water supply. It took months to warn Flint residents, and as a result thousands of children in the city tested positive for high levels of lead in their blood. Mari sent a letter to the White House asking President Barack Obama to visit, and Obama responded and visited Flint a few weeks later. Mari’s mother operates a Twitter account for the young girl where she continues to tweet about the ongoing water crisis.

Lindy West: In a year when some of the worst corners of the internet gained new power, Lindy West’s accounts of confronting trolls provided badly needed evidence that you can stand up to cyberbullying and win. In her debut novel, Shrill, West describes what fat shaming really means, a perspective that This American Life host Ira Glass and others have noted changed their perspective on the issue. West’s book, which is a New York Times bestseller, is a delightful yet heart-wrenching collection of essays, spanning subjects from sexism in comedy to finding love. A columnist for the Guardian, she has also argued that objectifying men at the Olympics was not a real issue, and she’s called on everyone to dispense with verbal contortions and just call white nationalists Nazis. (West spoke to Mother Jones earlier this year about internet trolls, fat shaming, and rape culture.)

Tammy Duckworth: The 2016 election wasn’t kind to Democrats, but there were a few winners. Tammy Duckworth will move from the House of Representatives to the Senate, after her defeat of Republican Mark Kirk in the closely watched race for Illinois senator. She is a double amputee and a disabled Iraq War veteran, and she’ll be only the second Asian American to serve in the Senate. During the campaign, Kirk took flack for making a racist comment about his opponent’s family during a debate. Duckworth, who has an American father and a Thai mother, noted that her family has served in the military since the Revolutionary War. Kirk responded by saying, “I had forgotten your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.” The Kirk campaign issued a statement attempting to defend his comments, but the embattled senator was met with a barrage of criticism before he tweeted out an apology. Duckworth has also supported accepting more Syrian refugees in the United States.

Michelle Obama: Real talk: Michelle Obama makes every year brighter. But this year especially, she was a force to be reckoned with on the campaign trail. Though she was a fierce critic of Donald Trump from the outset of the election, even the hot-headed president-elect knew better to go after the hugely popular first lady. In an impassioned speech after the release of an audio recording of Trump in which he talked about grabbing women “by the pussy,” Obama lambasted the Republican nominee for “actually bragging about sexually assaulting women.” Not only was she a champion on the campaign trail, but who can forget when Renaissance (her Secret Service code name) appeared on Carpool Karaoke?

The Reverend William Barber II: William Barber II, a charismatic orator and the founder of the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina, is probably best known for his work in voting rights and economic justice in the state. In 2013, Barber led a group of activists and clergy into the state Capitol building in Raleigh and blocked the doors to the Senate chambers to express his frustration with the Republican-majority Legislature for implementing voting restrictions, blocking Medicaid expansion, and cutting unemployment benefits. He was eventually arrested. This year, at the Democratic National Convention, Barber spoke out against injustice—from voter suppression to police brutality—and his movement has been credited with helping defeat Gov. Pat McCrory in North Carolina. The reverend shows no signs of stopping his work in voting rights and economic justice in 2017.

#NoDAPL activists: The water protectors of Standing Rock, as they call themselves, braved security guards using pepper spray, attack dogs, water cannons in freezing temperatures, and rubber bullets in order to stop the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline and its threat to the water supply and cultural sites of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The tribe opposed to the project and pointed out that pipeline developers had initially planned to follow a different route but rejected it due to concerns about contaminating the water supply to another community. It looked like nothing was going to stop the project, but in November the US Army Corps of Engineers halted construction of the pipeline, calling for research into environmental risks. The win is cause for celebration, but the final battle may lie ahead: President-elect Trump has invested between $500,000 and $1 million in the company with the contract to build the pipeline.

Marley Dias: Marley Dias is a 12-year-old girl who is already tired of reading books about white boys and their dogs. She impressed the world in January when Philly Voice reported that the New Jersey girl was starting a project called #1000BlackGirlBooks to collect books where black girls are the protagonists and not just background characters. The book drive was part of the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, an organization co-founded by Janice Johnson Dias, Marley’s mother, that she uses for a social action project every year. Marley hit her target of 1,000 books by February.

Chris Murphy: One lawmaker who confronted Republicans in Congress this year was Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn). After the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub last June, Murphy refused to let Republicans avoid voting on two gun control measures, one that banned suspected terrorists from buying guns and another that required background checks for sales at gun shows and over the internet. Murphy lead a 15-hour filibuster on an unrelated spending bill until the issue was brought to the floor. He has become one of the leading voices in the Democratic Party on gun control since the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults were killed by an assailant with two guns. Prior to the election, Murphy explained to Mother Jones why Trump is more radical than the National Rifle Association.

Kamala Harris: The race to replace retiring California Sen. Barbara Boxer came down to two Democrats who were also women of color: Rep. Loretta Sanchez and state Attorney General Kamala Harris. After beating her opponent by 25 points, Harris, who was born to a Jamaican American father and an Indian American mother, became only the second black woman elected to the US Senate. (Carol Moseley-Braun represented Illinois from 1993 to 1999.) After the election, Harris spoke out for undocumented immigrants by vowing to fight Trump’s immigration policies at every turn. “You are not alone, you matter, and we’ve got your back,” she said to immigrants and activists at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles after her victory.

Khizr and Ghazala Khan: The Khans’ son, Humayun Khan, was killed during the Iraq War in 2004. At the Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan sharply and movingly criticized Trump for his proposal to ban Muslim immigration. “Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution?” Khan asked while pulling out a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution. “I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.'” Khan went on to note the sacrifice his family and other families like his have made:”Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing—and no one.” Trump responded by criticizing Ghazala Khan for remaining silent while standing next to her husband, saying that she wasn’t allowed to speak because of the couple’s faith. He also claimed he made sacrifices by building “great structures.” His treatment of the Khans earned him widespread criticism from both sides of the aisle. Thanks to Khizr Khan, the American Civil Liberties Union ran out of pocket Constitutions less than a week after his speech.


2016 Was a Really Bad Year. These Folks Made It Better.

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Time to Fight Like Hell

Mother Jones

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Decades from now, when the election of 2016 is distilled to its essence, what will that be? Many hoped the central lesson would be a shattered glass ceiling and a cementing of the Obama legacy. An expansion of rights and tolerance.

Instead, a small electoral majority chose a candidate who openly embraced bigotry, who slurred war heroes and mocked the disabled, who bragged of sexual assault, who said he’d roll back the protections of a free press, who was cheered on by white supremacists, who said he’d upend our alliances and the world’s long-overdue climate deal, and who is ignorant and cavalier about the basics of safeguarding a nuclear arsenal.

There is no way to sugarcoat it. The election of Donald Trump is a brutal affront to women, people of color, Jews and Muslims, and all who value kindness and tolerance. Paranoia and divisiveness won the day. If we feared that the Trump campaign would give white nationalists and other political predators a road map for a lasting presence as a disruptive opposition, we have instead handed them the keys to the Oval Office, and the nuclear codes.

In the horrible months leading up to the election, there were moments we all crossed our fingers and hoped the Trump campaign’s predilection for inflaming bigotry might, ultimately, improve the health of the body politic. Maybe he represented a high fever that, once broken, would leave us more immune to old hatreds. Maybe, just as videos of police shootings shoved the most heinous forms of structural racism into the social-media feeds of white America, so would the actions of Trump and his most virulent supporters cast a light on an ugliness that needed to be confronted to be at last overcome.

January/February 2017 Issue

Except, it seems this ugliness was far, far more pervasive than we had let ourselves imagine. With every chant of “build the wall,” with every racist tweet, with every “Trump that bitch” T-shirt, his supporters hardened—to the horror of more than half of those who voted (and many who didn’t), and despite the entreaties of political, diplomatic, scientific, and economic experts.

It would be counterproductive to say, as some have, that all those who voted for Trump are stone-cold racists. People voted for him for various and complicated reasons. But it must be said that all who voted for Trump did not find naked bigotry and misogyny to be disqualifying. Some discounted it, and some thrilled to it. That is gutting.

The next weeks and months and years will be spent analyzing how we got here. It will be a grim accounting for every institution, and a painful airing of recriminations among families and friends.

As the author and comedian Baratunde Thurston put it, Trump’s campaign is best understood as a denial-of-service attack on our political system. Despite or perhaps because he is a thin-skinned, shallow narcissist, he instinctively found weaknesses in our national firewall. He knew that with 16 primary opponents, each would happily support his attacks on the manhood, looks, and dignity of the others, until it was too late and the momentum was on his side.

He realized that his bombastic, bigoted statements would be heralded by some corners of the media, mocked by others, and given wall-to-wall coverage by all. Newsroom traditions of putting separate teams of reporters on each candidate also helped ensure that Hillary Clinton’s email scandals were given the same weight as the mountain of evidence of Trump’s wrongdoing. The nation’s great newspapers and networks did vital work, but when it came to proportionality, they utterly failed. And the obsession with polling aggregators and fancy widgets, coupled with the failings of the polls themselves, lulled people into slacktivism, inaction, or even showy obstructionism.

And social media failed us most of all. Even as armies of Trump’s toxic trolls—some real, some bots—started harassing reporters, activists, and ordinary people with racist and anti-Semitic images and general filth, Twitter twiddled its thumbs. Even as Macedonian teens eager for ad revenue exploited Facebook’s algorithm by flooding the zone with fake news designed to appeal to Trump supporters, Facebook did nothing. Actually, it did do something: It repeatedly changed its algorithm and protocols in ways that may have enabled fake news. And oh yeah, the founder of virtual-reality pioneer Oculus went so far as to gleefully fund a “shitpost” factory to promote Trump. Deliberately or not, tech tools were used to pervert our political dialogue, and a good chunk of the tech elite either didn’t care or relished it in the name of “disruption.” Consider, too, that venture capitalist (and Facebook board member) Peter Thiel’s yearslong secret campaign to eviscerate Gawker Media took out the news organization best positioned to challenge the tech titans and root out organized trolling, just months before the election.

Some—maybe a lot—of the social-media cesspool can be laid at the feet of Vladimir Putin, known for using similar tactics to destabilize Ukraine and other European countries. The Department of Homeland Security says Russia was behind the hack that allowed WikiLeaks to air the emails of Democratic National Committee officials, which enraged Bernie Sanders supporters. Days after the election, a former State Duma member linked to cyberattacks on Estonia said the Kremlin “maybe helped a bit with WikiLeaks.” A few days ago the CIA presented lawmakers with a new analysis: Putin had intervened in our election with the express intent of helping Trump and harming Clinton. The revelation prompted Trump to attack the CIA, which in turn helped prompt senior Senators of both parties to a call for a bipartisan investigation. How far back into the election cycle do fake news and organized disinformation go? And who is responsible for what? We don’t yet know, but in retrospect, those who shouted down concerns over Russian involvement as “neo-McCarthyism” might have better directed their fact-finding at these questions.

In any case, WikiLeaks and the trolls found fertile ground after 30-plus years of GOP Hillary hate, and in a country in as much denial about sexism as it is about racism. Trump was also aided by FBI Director James Comey and his bizarre letter to Congress that seemed to reopen the Clinton email investigation. Comey, for his part, may have been dealing with a clique of agents determined to keep digging into the allegations laid out in Clinton Cash, a book written by an editor at Breitbart News, the site that hails itself as “the platform for the alt-right,” whose former executive chairman, Stephen Bannon, is now one of Trump’s senior White House advisers.

And then there was Trump himself. He deftly wove fears of the left together with fears of the right. He stoked fear of loss in status, fear of economic marginalization, fear of the other. He never ever, not once, offered us anything but fear. He made all of us—even those who fought valiantly—smaller by dragging us into his swamp of hate and depravity.

And if we let him, he will continue to do so. The circular firing squads on the left have lined up. The reasonable right—and yes, many did distinguish themselves by repudiating Trump—is abandoned to an uncertain fate. Those who didn’t vote or protest-voted have all come under fire, as have those who helped champion Clinton.

Constructive postmortems are great. There’s a lot to chew on. But in the weeks following the election, the analysis has been dominated by hot takes based on incomplete exit poll data or ax-grinding to fit various agendas. That really needs to stop. There is no time, no room, no space to do anything but make common cause—on the left and beyond it—and push back against what, in part, this seems to be: not just a protest vote by rural whites who feel left behind, but the coming out of an authoritarian nationalist movement eager to stir racial discord. And the dawn of an era of nepotism and graft on a scale that could leave future historians gobsmacked.

Authoritarian movements rise by dividing us and can only last so long as they do. My heart broke on election night to see my Twitter feed full of quotes like “I knew my country hated me, but I didn’t know how much,” or “I don’t recognize my country.” In the days after the election, there was a surge of hate crimes. Parents had to answer questions like: What will happen to my friends? What will happen to us? Why does he hate us?

This is a dark hour, and to say otherwise would be a lie. It is—by orders of magnitude—the worst electoral outcome our country has faced in many generations. But let us not forget those who have pushed back already. The women born before the passage of the 19th Amendment, who struggled against infirmity and efforts to suppress their vote to get to the polls. The myriad Latinos and Asian Americans who registered for the first time to repel the hate that too many whites voted for. The African Americans who stood up for equality at a far greater rate than any other group, as they always have.

Trump appealed to America’s worst impulses. Now it’s on all of us to show, to prove, that this is not all that America is. This is a time when we’re called on to do things we may not have done before. To face down bigotry and hate, and to reach beyond our Facebook feeds in trying to do so. To fight disinformation instead of meeting it with the same. To listen to the anxieties of Trump supporters and the critiques of allies and to learn.

As for those of us at Mother Jones, we will continue to do what we always strive to do: shine light into dark corners, expose abuses of power, call out cronyism and corruption, and, in the words of our namesake, fight like hell for the living.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. All of us.

This essay expands and updates an original version that was written on election night and can be found here.

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Time to Fight Like Hell

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Trump’s Commerce Secretary Pick Led a Secret Wall Street Fraternity

Mother Jones

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On Wednesday, Donald Trump announced that he’d tapped billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to be his commerce secretary. Ross is known as the “king of bankruptcy,” a moniker he earned thanks to his longtime business of buying troubled companies for cheap, often in manufacturing industries like steel or coal, and then restructuring them to turn a profit. “Wilbur Ross is a champion of American manufacturing and knows how to help companies succeed,” Trump said in a statement announcing his nomination of Ross.

But Trump neglected to mention one of Ross’ other credentials: He’s connected to some of the world’s most powerful investors and businessman via a secret Wall Street fraternity called Kappa Beta Phi.

In January 2012, New York Times reporter Kevin Roose snuck into the society’s annual black-tie induction ceremony, which was led by Ross, who at the time was the fraternity’s “Grand Swipe.” The fraternity, Roose wrote in his 2014 book, Young Money, was founded at the beginning of the Great Depression, and since then the induction ceremony had been subject to the utmost secrecy. The group’s mantra, according to Roose, is “What happens at the St. Regis stays at the St. Regis.”

It’s not hard to see why. At the 2012 event, Roose witnessed outlandish behavior by Ross and other financial tycoons that demonstrated vulgarity, greed, and a Wall Street callousness toward the nonwealthy masses. Some attendees made homophobic, racist, and sexist jabs about the likes of Hillary Clinton and former Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Others joked about the financial crisis. One even wore a Confederate flag hat. And when Roose was outed as a reporter partway through the night, Ross himself took Roose into the St. Regis hotel’s lobby and tried to convince him not to print the story by offering himself up as an “anytime” source for Roose’s future reporting.

While leading the event, Ross wore purple velvet moccasins embroidered with the fraternity’s Greek letters. The group’s name is an inversion of the college honor society Phi Beta Kappa, whose ruffled-sleeve logo, Ross said on the ballroom stage, is a “tacit confession of homosexuality.” The main event of the night was the induction of 21 “neophytes” into the fraternity. Roose described what happened when the inductees, who were required to dress in drag costumes that included leotards and sequined skirts, took the stage:

Paul Queally, a private-equity executive with Welsh, Carson, Anderson, & Stowe, told off-color jokes to Ted Virtue, another private-equity bigwig with MidOcean Partners. The jokes ranged from unfunny and sexist (Q: “What’s the biggest difference between Hillary Clinton and a catfish?” A: “One has whiskers and stinks, and the other is a fish”) to unfunny and homophobic (Q: “What’s the biggest difference between Barney Frank and a Fenway Frank?” A: “Barney Frank comes in different-size buns”)…

Warren Stevens, an investment banking CEO, took the stage in a Confederate flag hat and sang a song about the financial crisis, set to the tune of “Dixie.” (“In Wall Street land we’ll take our stand, said Morgan and Goldman. But first we better get some loans, so quick, get to the Fed, man.”)

The performances continued, including a parody of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” called “Bailout King” and a comedic skit depicting a debate between the 99 percent and the 1 percent. When Roose pulled out his phone to record part of the inductees’ performance, he caught the eye of one of his billionaire table-mates, Michael Novogratz. He angrily asked Roose who he was, which left Roose with no choice but to disclose that he was a reporter. Novogratz grabbed Roose and tried to pull away his cellphone. That’s when Ross stepped in to attempt damage control:

Once we made it to the lobby, Ross and Lebenthal reassured me that what I’d just seen wasn’t really a group of wealthy and powerful financiers making homophobic jokes, making light of the financial crisis, and bragging about their business conquests at Main Street’s expense. No, it was just a group of friends who came together to roast each other in a benign and self-deprecating manner. Nothing to see here.

But the extent of their worry wasn’t made clear until Ross offered himself up as a source for future stories in exchange for my cooperation.

“I’ll pick up the phone anytime, get you any help you need,” he said.

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Trump’s Commerce Secretary Pick Led a Secret Wall Street Fraternity

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