Friday, May 31, 2019

Make no mistake: Trump is totally freaked about probable impeachment

For months, Donald Trump has been practically daring congressional Democrats to impeach him by blocking every single one of their investigatory efforts. At the same time, many journalists have reported that Trump and his White House were all in for impeachment, believing that it would give Trump a political boost in 2020.

Well, that theory was blown to smithereens this week, one day after Robert Mueller's eight-minute resignation statement urging Americans to take a second look at Russia's cyberattack on the U.S. and Trump's obstruction of justice. As the number of House members calling for impeachment swelled to 50 by some news accounts, Trump began losing it. Thursday morning, Trump blasted out a tweet admitting that Russia helped him "get elected," a concession he has rejected at every turn. Minutes later, Trump’s staff sent him out to the TV cameras so he could deny that Russia played any part whatsoever in his election. "You know who got me elected? I got me elected," Trump asserted, rejecting the claim his other half had made on Twitter just moments earlier.

But when President Bone Spurs demonstrated his true courage—his temperamental mettle, so to speak—was when he was asked if he thought he would be impeached. After falsely suggesting "the courts" would never allow it, Trump expressed his outright revulsion at the prospect.

"To me, it's a dirty word, the word 'impeach,'" Trump explained. "It's a dirty, filthy, disgusting word, and it had nothing to do with me." Got that? It's revolting, gross, loathsome. And Trump can't ever imagine being slimed by such a nasty, objectionable, vulgar process. 

Mueller gave one eight-minute statement this week. Less than 24 hours later, faced with the growing realization that the impeachment he’s been agitating for just might run him over like a Mack Truck, Trump is demonstrating the epic valor he has exhibited throughout his entire life. Just imagine what a full day of Mueller's testimony could do.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

McConnell Pledges to Fill Supreme Court Vacancy in Election Year...REALLY!

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty)

By Sophie Weiner, Splinter
29 May 19

n 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used former President Obama’s lame duck status as his excuse to block Merrick Garland’s nomination for the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“This nomination ought to be made by the next president,” McConnell said in 2016, before stonewalling Garland.

But despite the brain-melting hypocrisy, it should surprise no one that McConnell now says that he’d be absolutely fine with helping Trump confirm a third Supreme Court Justice, were it to become necessary before 2020, according to video spotted by CNN.

Speaking at a Paducah Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Kentucky on Tuesday, McConnell was asked what he would do if there was a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020.

“Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?” an attendee asked.

McConnell took a long sip of what CNN said “appeared to be iced tea” before responding.

“Oh, we’d fill it,” he said, smiling, to laughter.

McConnell then hammered home the point even more forcefully, saying that while things like tax policy can change because of an election, “what can’t be undone is a lifetime appointment,” adding, “That’s the most important thing we’ve done in the country, which cannot be undone.”

Mother. Fucker.

Of course, this is infuriating. But McConnell has proven time and time again that he is a sociopathic, cynical nihilist who will stop at nothing to put more dead-eyed conservative drones in power. Going back on his 2016 stance may be outrageous, but it’s also par for the course. Anyone who expected otherwise needs to wise the fuck up real fast and start backing candidates who support adding more seats to the Supreme Court.

In case McConnell’s total lack of shame needed any more clarification, here’s CNN:

David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell, said the difference between now and three years ago, when McConnell famously blocked Judge Merrick Garland’s ascension to the Supreme Court, is that at that time the White House was controlled by a Democrat and the Senate by Republicans. This time, both are controlled by the GOP.

There you have it, folks. This is how the game works now. If you aren’t willing to get with the times, you need to get the hell out of our way.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Scientific Thinking in Moral Politics


By George Templeton
Gazette Columnist
Journalists should emulate “the patient and fearless men of science who have labored to see what the world really is”.  Newspapers are “… the Bible of democracy”.   Walter Lippmann (1889-1974), the father of modern journalism.
“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”   Edmund Burke (1729-1797), the father of Conservatism
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”  James Madison (1751-1836), a Founding Father of our country.
We like to think that changes are gradual, around the periphery, at the exposed surface, like the erosion that comes from wind, flood, freezing, and fire.  But sometimes change begins at the foundation, like an earthquake caused by continental drift.  Such an unexpected thing shakes our ground of being, altering even the small, superficial, visible surface because of a root cause, deep below.
To be for or against something is simpler than the facts.  We cannot understand everything.  Information just confuses us.  Free thought is the State’s enemy, but our democracy relies on it to resolve the conflict of ideas inherit in its division of power.  But people don’t vote with their brains.
Walter Lippmann wanted to replace voters with groups of experts who would have public interest in mind.  Where are the statesmen who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the public good?  We pay money for lawyers and politicians.  We need more scientists in government.  We want the scientific equivalent of political think tanks and an educational system that prepares students for jobs.
An Anti-Science Administration
Silencing Science, in the May 2019 Scientific American documents how the Trump administration suppresses knowledge.  It comes from government censorship, misrepresentation, suppressing and distorting information, budget cuts, removing scientists from agency positions, limiting science teaching in education, and pressuring researchers to alter findings.
True information lives on.  It changes not only what we know, but what will be.  The language of science is math.  The geometry of scientific thinking is applicable to the shape of social discourse.
Our heads are “on straight”, because we live in a linear universe.  Our check book is linear and it is a differential equation.  We put money in and take it out.  We could draw a line, using the monthly balance, to see how things are going.  It points at why.
A Misunderstanding
Recently two new airplanes nosedived into the ground killing everyone aboard.  The CEO of the airline industry quoted its excellent track record.  To fly or not to fly, that is the question.  The answer requires a leap of faith because the evidence is not decisive.
Siméon Poisson (1781-1840) devised the mathematic statistics that predicts quality.  Is a new airplane defective?  Quality is a continuing effort because things inside the factory (and our government) change.  They are never perfect.
Ernst Weibull (1887-1979) created the same for reliability (things wear out).  Quality and reliability are different.  It’s important because it illustrates how life and death can be the consequences of scientific ignorance.
When problems are complicated, authorities turn the difficulty into a convenient ancillary issue, deflecting answers away from the question.  Their pride will not accept guilt.  The root cause identifies a deeper and broader responsibility.  The layman knows about some preexisting imperfection, and so he concludes that this must have been the reason.  Even worse, sometimes an effect has no plausible relationship to its claimed cause. 
Muddled Thinking
At Trump’s recent rally, he claimed, “The baby is born, the mother meets with the doctor, they take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby”.  Coming from our President, lies like this are believable.
Science disciplines thinking.  Functions of a variable are a concept that comes from math.  We are functions of our choices.   They are all about digesting information and relationships.
A talk-show caller explained that guns don’t kill.  It’s people.  Our culture disrespects life.  Democrats allow doctors to rip children from their mother’s womb right up until the moment of birth.   If you outlaw abortions will shootings decline?
This illustrates how human emotions combine with propaganda to create flawed thinking.  A related form of bad thinking picks only one out of many strongly interacting causes.  Bills with last minute earmarks are yet another example of jumbled intention.  But maybe the intent is just to anger Progressives because that earns votes.
The Trump administration abandoned their principles for power and popularity, not for the good of the people as claimed.  As Jeff Flake puts it in his book, Conscience of a Conservative, policies are negotiable but principles are not.  Leadership in the Trump administration means accepting no responsibility for its shortcomings and failures.  It means winning re-election to the detriment of the People.
It’s Called Political Science
Scientists put things into well-defined categories, but they are artifacts of their minds.  A mind has gut feel and is contextual.  Social conflict is blurred.
The Conservative religious family that raised me made a point of never saying anything bad about anybody.  That was gossip.  Most of the people, most of the time, are good.   But if there is a small amount of rat droppings in the coffee, when should we throw it (The Trump administration) out?
Can you obstruct justice by hindering an investigation?  It is uncertain.  You could find guilt where there is innocence or innocence when guilty.   Science relates these errors with a probability curve.  The extremes of the curve reduce the chance for one or the other type of error, but not both.  It is possible to select an unbiased test centering on the curve, but human nature rules against that and there is a loss of discrimination.
Mediating Conflict 
Many nations have tried democracy only to turn away from it and revert to despotism because of internal strife.  It could happen to us.
Deliberate conflict creation, simultaneously intolerant and permissive, is immoral.  It leads to revenge.  The tools of an artistic deal are charm, persuasion, trust, and respect.  Governance is about bringing people together.  Tearing everything apart leaves only destruction.
All measurements in science have a tolerance expressing their uncertainty.  It’s that way for moral decisions.  There are no universal absolutes.  The situation matters but morality is never unbounded.  Every decision has a confidence interval.  It provides the necessary flexibility for relative moral decisions that are bounded by an absolute principal.  Moral issues are personal, political-social, and scientific-factual.  Religion mediates between the first two.
Lawrence Kohlberg (American Psychologist, 1927-1987) published a hierarchy of moral development.  It goes as follows:
  1. Obedience and punishment
  2. Individualism
  3. Good or bad people.
  4. Law and Order
  5. Social Contract.
  6. Principled Conscience
Where do you fit on his scale?  Studies show that most people believe they are more moral than others.  It is a self-serving bias.
Consider the three pillars of the Trump administration:
  1. National security and sovereignty
  2. Economic nationalism
  3. Deconstruction of the administrative state
Joe Biden’s platform is:
  1. Rebuilding the middle class
  2. Reclaiming American leadership on the world stage
  3. Fostering an inclusive democracy
  4. A return to normal
Thinking Scientifically
Aaron T. Beck, in the 1960’s, thought that to understand ourselves we must inventory our behaviors and contemplate their reasons.    Alternatively we can start with our thoughts, our values, and then try to explain the behaviors caused by them.  Sometimes we make a mountain out of a molehill.  We worry about the “slippery slope”.  Sometimes we ignore fundamental truth.  We have selective indignation.  We remember only the good things or perhaps only the bad things that have happened to us in the past and we revise them to eliminate any inconsistency with our present feelings.  We see “links” that don’t exist.  We personalize things.  We engage in all or none thinking.
Things are not always completely good or bad.  There are some things that are necessary, but few that are sufficient.  But the behavior of our President and his administration are something else.  The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout, describes the cause of the unprincipled chaos we see.
A children’s show empathized sharing and the social benefits that come from it.  It morphs into the idea that business transactions require mutual winners and that transactions are intrinsically ethical for that reason.  But the playing ground is not always flat.  There is the requirement that I will not scratch your back unless you scratch mine.  That becomes the childish idea that if you don’t scratch my back, I will get even with you.
The American way has become the American lie.  Liars are emboldened because they get away with it.  As the pool of available lies grows, it becomes more likely that we will select and believe things that are not true.  How do lawyers understand this?  Sworn court testimony is the only way to discover lies.  Omission and exaggeration are O.K., but liars deliberately mislead.  The public will decide who is lying, but they are not experts and they don’t have the facts.  It’s only actions that matter.  If it isn’t against the law, it’s moral. 
Norms, not laws are the glue of society.  Broadly speaking, they are society’s expectations for our conduct in social situations.  Without norms, our world becomes more unstable and dangerous.
Mueller’s Report
Aren’t you suspicious when an administration that is hostile to our old alliances suddenly wants to be friends with our long standing enemies?  Should we admire strong-man dictators?  There was no big collusion conspiracy, but there could be conflict of interest.
Mueller documented his successful witch hunt, but now the investigators investigate the investigation.  
Who is on first base, the Trump administration or Congress?  Does the President have unfettered power to direct investigations to persecute his enemies and “lock them up”?  Perhaps a President cannot obstruct justice, no matter what his actions and intentions are.  The Constitution does not make it clear.
A “different kind of president”, who is neither guilty nor innocent, attacks our norms.  His behavior is not surprising.  He has made extremism acceptable.  The pendulum swings left and right in destructive instability.  Is its motivating energy self-defense, self-interest, or governance?
What makes things the same kind?  To see more clearly, we must pigeonhole even though behavior’s variety calls the simple notion of good or bad into question.
Classifications are not as stable as we wish they were.  The cable news poll measured Republicans, Conservatives, and Democrats.  We have drifted since the time of Edmund Burke.  He railed against abstract idealism.  He was all about tradition, convention, prudential management, and practical statesmanship.  Today conservatives behave like they are at a drunken super bowl party.
The philosopher Wittgenstein made a 19th century illusion, the duck-rabbit, popular.   It is on the web.  There are two different ways of thinking:  “seeing that” or “seeing as”. 
Suppose your boss pressures you to lie and you do.  You should repeat it each time the problem reoccurs.  A lie can be a stabilizing influence, a demonstration of loyalty.  You might get a raise or promotion, but this will not fix the problem.
You ask yourself the question, if my knowledge and experience does not matter, why am I here?  Is it just to be a team player?   You can win your leader’s favor or make him angry, but you will have to live with the lie, knowing that you were not true to yourself.  You realize that it won’t work out.  Ask yourself the question, when it fails will your leader accept responsibility, or will he blame it on you?
None of the above counts as obstruction, because Trump’s professionals did not take the bait.  The Mueller report documents numerous breaches of ethics.  Behavioral norms convict Trump, the man who loves to denigrate and humiliate others.  Is it any wonder that there is so much turn-over in his administration?
A Great America
I traveled the world in the eighties, nineties, and past the millennium, as a technologist on assignment.  We were the best.  I knew it and so did the world.  We were not selfish or afraid.  We could part with yesterday because we believed in tomorrow.  It meant working ourselves out of our job while simultaneously preparing for the next one.   That is the lesson I learned.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Women's reproductive rights should be the hill Democrats are prepared to die on

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27:  Pro-choice activist, Jaimie Ermak, 24, from Washington, D.C., waits for rulings in front of the U.S. Supreme Court  on June 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. A ruling is expected in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, a Texas case the places restrictions on abortion clinics, as well as rulings in the former Virginia Governor's corruption case and a gun rights case. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
This essay, unsparing and terse, by Elie Mystal, for The Nation, puts the ball on women’s reproductive rights squarely in the Democrats’ court. The stakes are now as high as they will ever get. There is simply nowhere to run or hide now. The war is upon us.

Multiple generations of women (and men) have grown into and through adulthood benumbed with the implicit assumption that no matter how difficult Republicans made it to obtain an abortion, through innumerable restrictions, obstacles, and high-handed, so-called “moral” shaming, that the Constitutional right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy would somehow survive. But the legislation just passed in Alabama, and now, Missouri, criminalizing all abortion and turning doctors who perform it into felons, shows that assumption no longer holds true.

The reality is that it hasn’t been true for some time.
Roe, in spirit, has already been defeated in vast parts of the country. Roe does not guarantee access to an abortion to anybody if there are enough Republicans in their state legislature, and it hasn’t for some time. It is a shell that has been systemically hollowed out on the inside. Smart Republicans like keeping Roe around because they know it works as an effective boogeyman that keeps some segment of their Bible-thumping base voting against their own interests. Meanwhile, even though 67 percent of the country (including 73 percent of independents and a whopping 81 percent of Democrats) don’t want to see Roe “overturned,” as long as Roe is not “overturned,” they seem to think the right to choose is more or less secure. Roe gives false hope to its supporters—not all, but enough—and inspires committed activism from its enemies.
That assumption was grounded in a universal, almost subconscious understanding that owes itself more to privilege, particularly the privilege of relatively wealthy, white women and men, than we who call ourselves Democrats and the Democratic Party that represents us, would prefer to admit. Because over the past three decades while the anti-choice movement threw their resources into co-opting legislators and judges to propagate their agenda, we were distracted by comforting illusions like this:
Rich white women will still be able to fly to Los Angeles or New York or London to get an abortion when they need to. Even if a state only has one functional abortion doctor, rich people will find a way. GOP sugar daddies will still be able to coerce abortions when they want to.
Republicans will still have an issue to prattle on about when the usual inducements, tax breaks, and bigotry fail to churn up enough votes.
That illusion is now shattered. Because. Elections. Matter. And now, not suddenly, but suddenly apparent, we find our very lives subject to the whims of these monsters.
That is what was happening before Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was replaced by Brett Kavanaugh. Now that the Republicans have successfully forced an alleged attempted rapist onto the Supreme Court, the surgical approach has been discarded. In its place, red states have adopted a sneering, combative attack on women’s rights befitting the man they hope will support them. It’s not a coincidence that the Alabama legislature passed a bill forcing rape victims to serve as unwilling incubators only now that a man accused of attempted rape sits on the high court. Kavanaugh’s personal controversy has always been a feature, not a bug, for these terrible people.
In Mystal’s view the time has long since passed for Democrats to come to terms with this issue, to  take its meaning to heart, and to stand and fight, or die trying, as a Party. Because once the fanatics who dominate the Republican Party in this country have ripped away a woman’s right to control her own reproductive destiny, there is no limit to what they will seek to control.
For the real Democrats, this is the hill we fight on. This is the hill we die on, if it comes to it.
Republicans have shown that there is no more room for compromise. Democrats must see that there is no more room for retreat. Every single vote for a Republican at the local, state, or national level is a vote to reduce born women to the status of medical incubators with mouthparts.
Democrats who are unwilling to make the case need to get out of the way and make room for a woman who can.
Republicans have ripped off their own masks. They don’t care about the health of the mother. They don’t care about victims of rape or incest. They don’t even care about the “unborn,” as evidenced by their stubborn refusal to provide nationalized and free prenatal care. All they care about is controlling women’s bodies. Limiting reproductive choice is a way to control women, that’s all they’re in it for.
As Mystal points out, this is no longer “Planned Parenthood’s” or “NARAL’s” issue. Or a “women’s” issue.

It is our issue. All of us who call ourselves Democrats.

Monday, May 27, 2019

JOURNALIST SAYS IT ALL: Don’t blame ‘Washington’ for nothing getting done in Washington

By Paul Waldman
The Washington Post
May 27, 2019

The idea of passing a sorely needed infrastructure bill has been raised and shelved so many times since Donald Trump became president that “Infrastructure Week” has become a punch line about this administration’s fecklessness and ineptitude. This is a tale with an important lesson not only for the remaining 20 months of Trump’s term and the four years of his second term, should he win reelection, but the term of any Democratic president, as well. To put it simply, bipartisanship is not in the cards, and the problem is not “Washington.” That doesn’t mean there can’t be productive governing, but only if we stop fooling ourselves about how politics works right now.

Let’s start here:
Business leaders and communities around the country are expressing alarm that the bitter partisan impasse in Washington is paralyzing efforts to revamp the nation’s deteriorating and outdated infrastructure.
As millions of Americans hit the road for the Memorial Day weekend, they traveled across aging bridges, on crumbling roads and through tunnels in dire need of repair — infrastructure that earned a D+ grade in the most recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
At the same time, President Trump, who campaigned in 2016 touting his skills as both a builder and a dealmaker, has been unable to reach a grand bargain with Congress, further dimming hopes that upgrading the nation’s roads, bridges and tunnels will bypass the capital’s infamous gridlock anytime soon.

Infrastructure is an important issue in itself, but this is really about the larger question of legislating and governing.

It’s not that Democrats and Republicans won’t ever be able to pass a bipartisan bill on anything; in October, Congress passed a bill to address the opioid epidemic, for instance. But whenever a bill touches on any of the differences in priorities or values that distinguish Democrats from Republicans, there will be little or no realistic chance of agreement.

We often talk about that problem as though it had nothing to do with sincere beliefs about substance and just involved petty squabbling. If that were true, it wouldn’t be hard to solve. But it goes much deeper than that.

Although infrastructure might seem like something the parties could agree on, it brings up just enough of those value differences to make the divide difficult to cross. In simple terms, Democrats want to build infrastructure by building infrastructure, while Republicans want to mostly provide tax incentives to private corporations so they’ll build infrastructure from which those private entities can profit. (I explained in greater detail here.)

So, why didn’t Republicans just pass an infrastructure bill to their liking during the first two years of the Trump presidency, when they controlled both houses of Congress? Apparently, they just didn’t care enough about it to forge an agreement among themselves. It would have been possible had they wanted it badly enough, or had Trump wanted it enough to force them to do it. But he didn’t.

That points to a key factor in how governing works these days: The Republican agenda has gotten quite narrow, and it contains almost nothing that’s affirmative in any way. Republicans want to dismantle regulations on the environment and labor rights. They want to take health insurance away from as many people as they can.

They want to attack abortion rights and make life more miserable for transgender Americans. And, of course, a giant meteor could be headed to destroy the Earth in 48 hours and they’d try to force through one more tax cut for the wealthy and corporations before we’re all vaporized.

But in terms of actually doing anything positive, they’re not really interested.

Meanwhile, Democrats have a long list of ambitious things they’d like to do: achieving universal health coverage, expanding pre-K, fighting climate change, guaranteeing voting rights, making college affordable, raising the minimum wage — but Republicans are opposed to all of it.

Which isn’t surprising, because the two parties represent fundamentally different value systems. Yet we keep telling ourselves that with enough openness and good will, we can make those value differences fade away and come up with solutions to our problems.

Unfortunately, politicians do a great deal to mislead voters about how politics works. Every election, candidates for the House and Senate tell voters that the problem is this thing called Washington, whose dysfunctions can be cured with the proper kick in the keister. And I, the candidate says, am just the person to do it, to change Washington into what it ought to be. Why? Not because I have policy expertise or relevant experience; those things don’t matter. No, it’s because I have common sense, and I know how to get things done.

Thinking about this issue, I went back and looked at something I wrote just after the 2014 midterm elections, when Republicans took control of the Senate. It began this this way:
There are two phrases that have been on everyone’s lips in Washington since Tuesday night. Republicans now need to “show they can govern,” because everyone wants to “get things done.” Republican leaders, the New York Times tells us, are eager to “demonstrate that they can get things done.” President Obama has expressed optimism that GOP leaders want to “find some common ground,” adding that “we want to get things done.” Vice President Joe Biden opined that Republicans are “going to choose to get things done.”
We know what happened next: Republicans continued with the same strategy of obstruction that was so effective for them in the previous six years, and two years later they won the White House.

The reality is that we’re in an era when, unless there’s unified government, not much is going to get done, at least in terms of legislation. That’s not because there’s something wrong with Washington; it’s because the two parties have fundamentally different ideas about what we ought to do. 

Which means that, as they try to win back the White House and plan what to do with it if they succeed, Democrats don’t need to devise a strategy to persuade Republicans to join with them in a new era of bipartisan governing. They need a strategy to win full control of Congress, then a strategy to keep their members together to pass their agenda. If they manage that, nobody will complain that Washington can’t get anything done.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

These 19 people all have one thing in common: they worked for Trump while undocumented

19 former Trump workers.
The group of people who gathered for a televised CNN town hall had many things in common, but one thing stood out above it all: they all worked for Donald Trump’s businesses while being undocumented. The 19 immigrants included former servers and housekeepers, from countries including Mexico and Guatemala, who worked for Trump despite lacking permission to live and work in the U.S.

“They brought with them their work uniforms and stacks of pay stubs from their former employer,” CNN reported, some having worked for him as long as a decade.

Server Jose Juarez worked at Trump’s Westchester, New York, golf club and remembers serving him his preferred Diet Cokes in iced cups. He said Trump knew he was originally from Mexico because he told him so. When asked by CNN if Trump also knew that he was undocumented, he replied, “I think so.”

Eleven of the 19 workers present were also among the employees who were abruptly—and quietly—fired from Westchester in January, just as Trump was shutting down the federal government in his quest to get his useless border wall. “Trump is a hypocrite,” said former housekeeper Margarita Cruz. “He says [immigrants] are bad people, rapists, and traffickers, but they’re honest hardworking people who worked hard for him.” 

Trump’s obsession with immigrants stops when it comes to his own hiring practices. In fact, “Trump this weekend expressed concern on Fox TV about implementing, on a nationwide basis, the comprehensive worker verification program called E-Verify—a policy that, if implemented in the context of immigration reform that legalizes undocumented workers—would crackdown on unscrupulous employers just like Trump,” immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice said. 

Trump’s hypocrisy goes far beyond his businesses exploiting undocumented labor. He ran on a “Hire American” platform, yet the Trump Organization has requested visas for foreign workers since at least 2008, reportedly pursuing at least 500 since 2010 for his Mar-a-Lago resort alone. Trump has claimed it’s because he’s been unable to find U.S.-born workers, but that, of course, is a total lie.

Records obtained last month by BuzzFeed News revealed that his businesses regularly rejected U.S.-born applicants, appearing to hire only one out of dozens of applicants from 2014 through 2018. Since becoming president, Trump has become more shamelessly brazen, requesting nearly 200 visas in 2018 for his businesses.

His brazenness has extended beyond his golf courses too, with seven undocumented workers from his Virginia winery stepping forward just this month.

Workers said vineyard management “pretends not to know” they’re hiring undocumented immigrants. "Yes, they know you are undocumented, because if you look at the Social Security papers that are handed to them, they’re false. The process is simple. They give you your application, and they find a way for you to fill it out.” 

“He’s been benefitting from undocumented labor for many, many years,” said Anibal Romero, who represents several of these workers. “It’s sad that he’s been lying to the American people.” It’s those brave workers who have been exposing Trump’s outrageous hypocrisy, and it’s long past time for our country to finally put them and millions of other undocumented families onto a path to legal status and citizenship.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Facebook refuses to take down altered Pelosi video

Nancy Pelosi speaks at a Center for American Progress event.
I lost a few Facebook “friends” in 2016 after challenging them on their false and misleading posts. I never unfriended anyone, mind you. They were simply allergic to facts and went into anaphylactic shock whenever evidence of the ocher hellbeast’s incompetence, venality, immorality, and fluorescent stupidity was brought to light.

Indeed, fake news disseminated on the social media platform had an oversized role in greasing the skids for the apocalypse Donald Trump’s victory.

So it’s especially disturbing to see Facebook hem and haw when it comes to a clearly altered video — which went viral yesterday — of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appearing to slur her words.
Facebook is refusing to take down a video altered to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appear to be drunk, highlighting a gaping hole in the social media giant’s plan to combat fake news.
The clip, first reported on by The Washington Post, depicts the California Democrat discussing President Donald Trump at a Center for American Progress event on Wednesday. An unidentified hoaxer lowered the speed of the video and raised the pitch to make her speech sound slurred but still normal ― thereby creating the false appearance that she was impaired in some way.
I don’t know if I can boycott Facebook at this point because I use it for work, it’s a useful tool for connecting with family, friends, and old classmates, and my Candy Crush level is so high, but if anything’s going to convince me to unplug from the somnifacient teat of social media, it’s more shit like this.
But a company spokesperson said Friday that blatantly fake news content, like the Pelosi video, doesn’t technically break any rules because there’s no policy against posting fake content on the platform. Facebook will allow the video to stay up.
That said, Facebook did “enqueue” the video for review by a third-party fact-checking company, which apparently deemed it misleading. So now, instead of being deleted outright, the fake version of Pelosi’s speech will be made harder to find on the platform, the spokesperson said.
I might suggest that, barring a more socially responsible effort from Facebook to get rid of these kinds of misleading videos, we should post videos of Donald Trump that make him look drunk. But that’s every video.

Another possibility is to actually get high before ever watching another Trump video, but I already pretty much do that.

Hell, it’s a three-day weekend. I was gonna critique Donald Trump’s moribund infrastructure plan, but then I got high.