Did Russia hack the 2016 vote tally? This Senator Ssays we don’t know for sure.

Did Russia hack the 2016 vote tally? This Senator Ssays we don’t know for sure.

Mother Jones
David Corn
Image courtesy of Andrew Harnik/AP

At a packed press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, provided a progress report on his panel’s investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal. Naturally, this is a touchy and dicey matter for a Republican, and Burr tried to make some points that appeared designed to limit President Donald Trump’s political vulnerabilities on this front.

First, Burr declared that although Russian hackers had probed or penetrated the election systems of at least 21 states, he could confidently state that the Russian meddling in the 2016 election resulted in no changes to the vote tallies. That is, there’s no reason to question Trump’s Electoral College win. And second, Burr said that Russia’s use of Facebook ads during the presidential campaign seemed “indiscriminate” and not designed to help a particular candidate—meaning the recent revelations do not bolster the case that Trump was the Kremlin’s choice.

But Sen. Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.), a feisty member of the intelligence committee, says both assertions are bunk. In an interview with Mother Jones on Thursday, Wyden argued that Burr’s confidence in the election system was unwarranted. “The chairman said that he can say ‘certifiably’ that there was no vote tampering,” said Wyden. “I do not agree with this judgment. I don’t think it is possible to know that. There was no systematic analysis of the voting or forensic evaluations of the voting machines.”

I was able to buy an AR-15 in five minutes

I was able to buy an AR-15 in five minutes

The Tab
Cody Davis
Image courtesy of Cody Davis

Two days after the worst mass shooting in American history, and my local gun shop in Virginia showed no hesitation in selling me an AR-15.

In fact, they really wanted me to buy it. And I was only there for five minutes.

I walked into the store and told them I was interested in something for home protection and target practice. The woman behind the counter smiled and asked, “Rifle or shotgun?”

After I set the gun down to take a photo of it, the manager of the store walked up and finally asked my age. When he learned that I was 20, he simply took a shoulder stock from a cabinet and set it right beside the gun.

“Wait,” I said. “Just adding a butt to the rifle lowers the buying age from 21 to 18?”

The two sellers smiled and nodded. They then informed me that I couldn’t purchase a handgun, but I could buy a shotgun or rifle as long as it had a stock.

“Now do you want to take a look at the AR-15s?” the lady asked me.

Seconds. It took seconds for the salesman to take an AR-15 off the shelf and begin selling it to me. If I had stayed for maybe three minutes longer to fill out less paperwork than I did for the hiring process at my school’s bookstore, I would’ve driven home with an AR-15.

No delay. No extensive background check. Just my recently expired driver’s license, my vehicle registration, and filling out some paperwork.

Ultimately these are the laws we have, this shop hasn’t done anything wrong. But if a 20-year-old college student can walk into a gun shop and be out in minutes with an AR-15, and you believe nothing needs to be changed, you need help.

The mysterious group that’s picking Breitbart apart, one tweet at a time

The mysterious group that’s picking Breitbart apart, one tweet at a time

The Washington Post
Paul Farhi


Hardly anyone paid attention last November when a strangely named Twitter account, Sleeping Giants, sent its first tweet into the digisphere. “Are you aware that you’re advertising on Breitbart, the alt-right’s biggest champion, today?” read the tweet, aimed at a consumer lending outfit called Social Finance. “Are you supporting them publicly?”

Within 30 minutes, Social Finance replied, tweeting that it would stop running ads on Breitbart.

It was, it turns out, the start of an odd, and oddly effective, social media campaign against Breitbart, the influential conservative news site headed by Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former campaign chairman and ex-chief White House strategist.

Sleeping Giants is a mysterious group that has no address, no organizational structure and no officers. At least none that are publicly known. All of its leaders are anonymous, and much of what it claims is difficult to independently verify. A spokesman for the group wouldn’t identify himself in interviews for this article.

But the group does have a singular purpose, pursued as relentlessly as Ahab chasing a whale: It aims to drive advertisers away from Breitbart. “We’re trying to defund bigotry,” the spokesman says.

Sleeping Giants’ basic approach is to make Breitbart’s advertisers aware that they are, in fact, Breitbart advertisers. Many apparently don’t know this, given that Web ads are often bought through third-party brokers, such as Google and Facebook. The brokers then distribute them to a network of websites according to algorithms that seek a specific target audience (say, young men) or a set number of impressions.

As a result of such “programmatic” buying, advertisers often are in the dark about where their ads end up. Advertisers can opt out of certain sites, of course, but only if they affirmatively place them on a blacklist of sites.

So when an ad appears on Breitbart, Sleeping Giants or one of its 109,000 Twitter followers and 35,000 Facebook followers flag the advertiser, often accompanied by an image of the sponsors’ ad next to a Breitbart story.

Nobody knows what Trump is doing, not even Trump

Nobody knows what Trump is doing, not even Trump

The Washington Post
Dana Milbank

House Speaker Paul Ryan could not have been more clear.

After meeting with his Republican caucus Wednesday morning on the first day back from their long summer break, he declared at a news conference that Democrats’ call for a three-month extension of the government’s borrowing limit was “ridiculous.”

“That’s ridiculous and disgraceful, that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment,” he repeated. He called it “unworkable,” said it would jeopardize hurricane response and called out Democratic leaders by name for promoting what “I don’t think is a good idea.”

About an hour later, Ryan and other GOP leaders sat in the White House with President Trump, who told them he wants . . . a three-month increase of the debt ceiling, just as Democrats proposed.

Such chaos and confusion at the highest level of American government hadn’t been seen since, well, the day before.

What does the president want? Nobody knows — not his advisers, not his fellow Republicans in Congress, and probably not Trump himself.

Inner racism revealed

Inner racism revealed

The New York Times
Charles M. Blow

As Michelle Obama said: “Being president doesn’t change who you are. No, it reveals who you are.” That is what is happening with Donald Trump.

He has in the course of his life been on all sides of many issues, although he was always a liar, bully, misogynist, opportunist and economic isolationist. But his racial hostility and white supremacy seem to have blossomed with his entry into politics and his Russia-aided election. After spending a life catering to the appetites of the greedy and gauche, he realized that there was an exponentially larger market of white nationalists and neo-Nazis. To the aspirational he could be landlord, but to the racists he could be overlord.

Trump’s outrageous decision this week to end DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allowed many young people brought to this country as children to stay and work here, is just the latest expression of Trump’s growing intolerance and his growing adoption and internalizing of white nationalist ideology.

Not only did Trump wimp out and send the anti-immigration zealot Jeff Sessions out to make the announcement, he also made the sadistic and emotionally manipulative act of professing his “love” for the Dreamers last week, while moving to bring them pain this week.

This didn’t need to be done. This was done out of spite and hostility. This was done to prove a point and consolidate support.

Donald Trump continues to say in every way possible that power and privilege in America is primarily the provenance of people who are white, male, Christian and straight, and that all others should be targeted for denial, oppression or removal.

Republicans desperately want to be united, but Trump just won’t let them

Republicans desperately want to be united, but Trump just won’t let them

MClatchy
By Katie Glueck

Republicans once hoped that if the GOP controlled Washington, a shared focus on legislative goals—and the power of the White House political office—could defuse the intense factionalism that has fueled nasty primaries for the last seven years.

Instead, as voters head to the polls to vote in Alabama’s hotly contested primary on Tuesday and other GOP primary races take shape across the country, it’s apparent that party divisions in the Trump era are only widening.

Republican lawmakers offered some of their most pointed criticism of their president this weekend after President Donald Trump failed to directly blame neo-Nazis and white supremacists for the violence in Charlottesville, Va., that left one woman dead.

But they had already been starting to lean away from him. In the span of a month, Trump has found himself at odds first with Republicans in the Senate as he publicly berated one of their friends and a former colleague, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and then with the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell himself, over health care. This weekend, Trump faced pushback from the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Cory Gardner, who called on the president to explicitly condemn white supremacists. (Trump still has not directly done so, instead sending a message through a spokesperson 36 hours after protests erupted.)

Millennial pink is coming for your food

Millennial pink is coming for your food

The Washington Post
By Maura Judkis

Maybe you’ll start your day with a pink smoothie bowl, full of chia seeds and raspberries and other pink fruits. On your way to work, you’ll pick up a Starbucks pink drink — a “crisp, Strawberry Acai Refreshers Beverage, with … accents of passion fruit” and an Instagram cult following. For lunch? A bowl of pink beet hummus, maybe garnished with some suddenly everywhere watermelon radish, the perfect shade of fuchsia. Wash it down with a blush-colored can of La Croix. Dessert? An array of pink macarons. For happy hour, the choices are abundant: pink cans of rosé, pink gin, pink tequila, bottles of wine with names like Summer Water and Pretty Young Thing, or frozen rosé (frosé). If you live in New York, you can eat pink spaghetti at Pietro Nolita, a restaurant with pink walls, bathrooms, chairs and napkins that say “Pink as F—.”

And at the end of the day, if all this pink food is inspiring a sudden queasiness, you can wash it all down with pink Pepto-Bismol.