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Facebook is getting Americans killed. Biden saying so isn’t likely an accident

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For those of you who were unaware, last Friday Biden made his theoretically unscripted remark noting that social media platforms like Facebook are “killing people” in their unwillingness to tamp down on anti-vaccine conspiracy theories on the sites. This made Facebook extremely upset, and since Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t yet built an enormous megapolluting Space Penis like the rest of the world’s billionaires the company instead had to settle for making sniffy statements about how Biden was being mean and a jerk or whatever.

On Monday Biden revised his remarks, saying “Facebook isn’t killing people, these 12 people [on Facebook] are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people.” He said he had “hope” that “instead of taking it personally, […] that they would do something about the misinformation.”

This has led to some reporters reflexively trying to wedge the statements into a “Biden unscripted” or “Biden mouthing off” or “why can’t Biden keep his mouth shut” in pairing with “why won’t Biden talk to us more” and sure, we get it, when you’re on deadline there’s nothing more tantalizing than a pre-prepared narrative you’ve already got sitting on your desk from the last time around.

But is Biden’s original assertion that Facebook is “killing people” a gaffe to begin with? Well … no. No it’s not. It’s objectively true, after all; along with Fox News and other outlets willing to exchange vaccine misinformation for a boosted audience that can be sold to advertisers, Facebook is allowing information on their site that they, in their own reports, have identified as being untrue, that Americans are citing as reasons not to get a potentially lifesaving vaccine during a deadly worldwide pandemic, and that is resulting in deaths.

You can argue that Facebook is not liable for those deaths, or that Facebook has no plausible way to prevent them, or that Facebook could take action to prevent the deaths but it would have such dire ramifications for free speech that allowing widespread deaths through misinformation would be preferable, but you can’t say it’s not happening. Facebook itself identified a core den of propagandists that are responsible for a large chunk of all vaccine disinformation on their platform. It’s allowing that den to remain active.

Just from a factual standpoint, then, it doesn’t count as a gaffe. It might count as a “gaffe” in the sense of “saying the true thing when saying the true thing will disadvantage you from a political or tactical standpoint,” but is that the case here? Should Biden have not pissed Facebook off with such rudeness?

Even that’s a bit dodgy. It’s clear that the White House now thinks “pissing Facebook off” is one of the few ways left to goad Facebook into giving more of a damn about American lives than they currently do. Facebook has long resisted all calls to take down demonstrably hoax-based content, for the rather simple reason that monitoring such content would require a very large number of human moderators, and nobody in Facebook management is going to be able to fund a Giant Space Penis if advertising revenues are instead diverted into long-term efforts to make sure Facebook posts are not directly causing American deaths.

Having the president of the United States single your company out by name as a reason Americans are currently dying is a very high-profile readjustment of the corporate status quo. You may still believe that your company is doing the right thing by researching the top promoters of anti-vaccine disinformation on the site and then meting out little to no punishment, but the White House expressing public anger over your company’s lack of coherent response, after largely keeping their displeasure private, changes the risks your company faces by doing nothing.

Similarly, Biden “backing down” a bit a few days later so as to make it clear that his primary beef is with the misinformers themselves, rather than the company, is the usual carrot-and-stick approach used in countless political and corporate scenarios. Your company is doing an extremely bad thing and everybody should hate you might be the stick. But I’m your friend and am still willing to help you out of this mess if you’ll let me, hint hint.

This is sounding perilously close to me giving a shit about any of this, so let’s dial back a bit now. The point is not that this is a brilliant move by Dear Leader Biden, savior of the nation and dude who is not compelled to start off every Cabinet meeting by going around the room to see whose tongue can best polish his overpriced shoes. The point is that pointing out that a company’s indifference to killing people is resulting in people getting killed is not exactly outlier behavior for any president worth his salt, and boy howdy if that’s enough to get you hot and bothered you don’t even want to hear some of the rhetoric presidents have blasted their nemeses with in ye olden days of take-your-pick.

If anything, Biden and the White House are still being too blasé about all this. Facebook’s unwillingness to crack down on propaganda efforts devoted to convincing Americans they should not get lifesaving vaccinations because “magnets” or similar bullshit is quite literally killing people. Fox News hosts are quite glibly killing people. You can go into the hospitals and see the victims; you can read the news stories and unvaccinated patients appear quite willing to tell you how it is that they came to feel that they could skate through a deadly worldwide pandemic by popping a few vitamin pills and yelling about communists. It ain’t subtle.

And while First Amendment issues might very well come into play in the general vicinity of these decisions, decisions by Facebook, Fox, and other outlets to turn a blind eye to or actively monetize speech that results in active harm to users are not constrained by First Amendment concerns. The government might have a damn difficult time barring Facebook from hosting such content, but there’s no First Amendment issue with government pointing out that Facebook, the Facebook over there with the big buildings and near-complete capture of social interactions on the internet hellscape, is valuing cash over human lives.

Yes, Facebook is killing people. You can argue they can’t do much about that. You can argue that the prioritization of profits over responsible moderation is within their creepy late-state capitalistic rights, if you like. If Facebook went away tomorrow, however, a great many lives would likely be saved specifically because Some Nasty Grifting Profit-Seeking Bullshitter will have been prevented from pushing out false health information during a deadly pandemic. That’s not really in dispute.

You can gripe about the rudeness of saying so, but it seems like we’ve reached the limits of what actions Facebook is willing to take to save lives if government leaders aren’t willing to say it out loud. Biden’s “gaffe” seems like a perfectly normal strategic move to escalate the stakes for Facebook now that Facebook has decided to stonewall the health officials begging them to act more responsibly.

The ball’s back in your court, worst social media company to ever exist. You’re still good with just whining that your detractors are being super-mean about all this?


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Democrat Carl Levin, whose 36-year stint made him Michigan’s longest-serving senator, dies at 87

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Sandy Levin lost close races for governor in 1970 and 1974 to Republican William Milliken, but his brother had much more success when he ran statewide in 1978. Carl Levin campaigned for the Senate seat held by Republican incumbent Robert Griffin, who had announced his retirement the previous year, saying, “​​Twenty-two years is long enough.” National Republicans, though, successfully pressured Griffin to reverse course and seek re-election after all, a development that seemed like a huge blow to Democratic hopes for a pickup.

Before he could focus on Griffin, though, Levin had to get through a primary that included wealthy newspaper owner Phil Power; former Rep. Richard Vander Veen, who became nationally famous by winning the 1974 special election for Gerald Ford’s former House seat; and three state legislators. Levin’s strong base in Detroit helped establish him as the frontrunner, and he beat Power 39-20.

Levin spent the general election arguing that “new blood” was needed to replace Griffin, who had missed numerous votes in the Senate. The senator fought back by unconvincingly trying to distance himself from “that Washington crowd” and attacking Levin as “a free‐spending liberal,” but it wasn’t enough. Levin prevailed 52-48, a victory that made him Michigan’s first Jewish senator.

Levin was joined in Congress after the 1982 election by Sandy Levin, who would ultimately retire from the House in the 2018 cycle. (The two kept a “confusion file” listing people who mixed them up.) Two years later, the senator found himself locked in a tough battle to maintain his seat; Levin’s 1984 opponent was retired astronaut ​​Jack Lousma, a Republican who unsubtly touted his good looks in what Levin would describe as a contrast to his own “plump, balding, and disheveled look.” The incumbent, though, decided to play up the physical difference himself, joking, “Our pollsters tell us that it’s a winner because there are more of us than there are of them.”

Lousma stood a good chance in a year when President Ronald Reagan was poised to sweep 49 states, and the Republican made sure to tie himself to his party’s standard-bearer. Lousma, though, made some serious mistakes, especially when he claimed “An average high school boy could sit down and with three hours of briefings could know all you’d want him to know about issues in Michigan.”

Lousma’s biggest gaffe, though, came when he revealed that he owned a Toyota, a remark that went over especially badly in the state that was home to the American automotive industry. Then-Gov. Jim Blanchard would later recount that he had to convince Levin to use this material against his opponent, as the senator initially believed that Lousma’s honesty was hardly damaging. Blanchard was right, though: Reagan ended up carrying Michigan by a wide 59-40 margin, but Levin prevailed 52-47.

Levin would face a few other notable Republican opponents during his long career, but he was never truly close to losing any of them. In 1990, Levin turned back GOP Rep. Bill Schuette 57-41; Schuette would go on to revive his career in Michigan politics, which culminated in his 2018 defeat in the gubernatorial race. Levin’s opponent in 1996 was Ronna Romney, daughter-in-law of former Gov. George Romney and mother of current RNC chair Ronna McDaniel. Romney’s brother-in-law, Mitt Romney, had lost the Massachusetts Senate race two years before, and she fell to Levin 58-40.

The senator would win his final two races with more than 60% of the vote before retiring in the 2014 cycle.


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Matt Gaetz is poised to marry her sister, but Roxanne Luckey wants the world to know he’s ‘a creep’

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In some of the videos, Luckey even poses in front of The New York Times article that focuses on Gaetz’s investigation for alleged sex crimes, including trafficking a minor.

“When a creepy old man tries to hit on you at the bar, but your sister is engaged to a literal pedophile,” she said in the video’s onscreen text.

Luckey later apologized for using the term “pedophile” and instead switched to “ephebophile,” but her feelings for Gaetz are loud and clear.

According to Luckey, when she and her mother confronted Gaetz about his inappropriate behavior of attempting to set her up with an older man, “[h]e just immediately got so defensive and started yelling at me and my mom.”

“He called me a narcissist, just was a thousand percent gaslighting me—went full lawyer, ‘I don’t have to listen to you, I don’t have to answer your questions,'” she said. She added that while Gaetz never apologized, the friend later did and claimed that he only asked her out “to get Matt off my back.”

She added that her opinions of him go deeper than her own experiences. She claimed that during her time at the White House, Gaetz “had a reputation of prowling after college girls when he’s a grown man, and to me that’s just kind of weird.”

“There is so much more to the story and about what I know about Matt Gaetz,” she added. “It is definitely a serious situation,” Luckey noted that her opinion was partially based on hearsay from the “grapevine.”

Luckey explained the purpose of her sharing the stories in a video shared Monday: “While that little video I made was such a minuscule thing and I know does not properly bring to light the whole situation, if I can just bring some attention to it so people are aware of what is going on and people can be held accountable, that’s my goal.”

While the FBI and Department of Justice have not confirmed a probe into Gaetz, the congressman himself confirmed he was being investigated in April on allegations of trafficking a minor for sex. 

Lawyers familiar with the case shared that investigations are ongoing and whether or not the case will go to trial is still pending.

“The federal government doesn’t like to try out novel legal theories in court, especially against sitting members of Congress because it usually doesn’t work,” the lawyers told Politico. “Yes, there’s strict liability for someone who has sex with a 17-year-old even if she’s only a few months away from turning 18 and even if she becomes a hardcore porn star. But prosecuting a case like this would be highly unusual if there’s no hard evidence showing Gaetz has done this and the case rests on an admitted liar like Greenberg and the word of a hardcore porn star.”

Despite this and his former associate, ex-Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, pleading guilty in May to six federal charges including soliciting a minor for sex, Gaetz has refused to resign. 

In response to the comments made by her sister, Ginger Luckey defended her fiancé and said that her “estranged sister is mentally unwell.”

“Matt and I are enjoying our engagement and are deeply in love. My estranged sister is mentally unwell,” Ginger Luckey told The Daily Beast. “She has been in therapy for years and our family hopes that after receiving in-patient mental health treatment, she will overcome the tendency she has repeatedly shown to engage in destructive behavior.”

Watch the video series for yourself below:


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26 million workers have gotten a raise thanks to the Fight for $15, this week in the war on workers

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The Fight for $15 kicked off in November 2012, with a relatively small—yet also historically large—group of New York City fast food workers making what seemed an audacious demand: $15 an hour minimum pay and a union. The latter goal hasn’t advanced much since then, but $15? That has become solidly mainstream, and has brought big wins. A new report from the National Employment Law Project quantifies just how big.

The federal minimum wage remains just $7.25 an hour, the same as it was not just in 2012 but in 2009. But between state and local minimum wage increases, and executive action raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, NELP estimates that 26 million workers have gotten a raise. Nearly 12 million of those workers are Black, Latino, or Asian American. The added pay they’ve gotten amounts to $150 billion, with $76 billion going to Black, Latino, and Asian American workers.

Organizing works.


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