The Death of RBG Vindicates My Vote for Trump

Many Republicans, like myself, did not at first jump on the Trump bandwagon in 2015 and 2016. We feared, and not without reason, that Trump would lead the GOP to perdition — and, what’s almost as bad, defeat. A vote for Trump would thus help elect Hillary Clinton.

Not for the first or last time, I was wrong in 2016. I gradually came to realize this. I warmed to Trump, and in the end I voted for him — proudly and without a moment’s hesitation. Many Republicans took the same journey as me.

Why did I plunk for Trump? I did so not because I thought he would win any awards for congeniality. We are all aware that Trump is, to say the least, mortal. He has character flaws. He makes mistakes. He doesn’t always understand the niceties of conventional politics.

Above all, though, I and millions of Americans like me voted for Trump for one simple reason: the barbarians were at the gates, and only Trump could save us, and America, from their ravages.

Liberals — you are the barbarians in this little analogy. Try to keep up.

Simply put, had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, she would have chosen the replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. The balance on the Court would have shifted decisively to the left. The Supreme Court, therefore, which Republicans already view warily, even with a “conservative” majority, would have become far more activist, far more aggressive, and far more beholden to left-wing ideology.

Any conservative can tell you that a Republican-appointed judge or justice is only occasionally a reliable supporter of conservative, constitutionalist principles. A Democrat-appointed judge or justice, on the other hand, is a supporter of “progressive” causes, and the narrow interests of the Democratic Party, 100 percent of the time.

Thus, a liberal majority on the Supreme Court would have guaranteed, in this hyper-partisan era, that conservatives would never again receive a sympathetic hearing there. Anything that the Left wanted would have been approved by judicial fiat. Even the integrity of future elections, which Republicans and conservatives might or might not win, would have been jeopardized, because a liberal Court would simply throw out results that didn’t accord with their wishes.

This, then, was the judicial apocalypse that we conservative patriots believed we were facing in 2016. As it turned out, only one man could save us, and our beloved Constitution, from the coming cataclysm: Donald Trump.

I therefore voted for Trump, in the fervent hope that he would win. I hoped, if he won, that he would build the Wall, fight for trade fairness, reduce regulation, keep us out of pointless regime change wars, and much more. I hoped for these things, but I knew that Trump would appoint new justices to the Supreme Court that would be a thousand times better than the reliable progressives and social justice warriors that Hillary would surely name to the bench.

And so he has.

Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh might not vote all the time the way conservatives would like them to, but they have not corrupted our democracy, they have not shamed the judiciary with legal sophistry, and they have not legislated from the bench.

What’s more, if Democrats cheat in the 2020 election, or in the counting of votes that follows, we can safely assume that a mostly conservative Court will hold them accountable for it. That gives a conservative like me peace of mind.

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, therefore, confirms that my choice to vote for Donald Trump in 2016 was right — even righter than I realized at the time.

For, not only will President Trump hold left-wing judicial activism at bay; he is in a position to tilt SCOTUS even further to the right, further perhaps than at any time in the last century.

For those of us who believe that liberal justices have already taken us much too far down the path of “reimagining” our Constitution, the opportunity to return to first principles, to limit the growth of federal power, to curb judicial activism, and to return many rights and powers to the states and to the people, is like a dream come true.

President Trump, therefore, has exceeded the expectations of many of us who voted for him. That will sound incredible to progressives, but it is the truth.

Democrats and liberals, you see a president and a Senate preparing to dash your dream of a judicially-mandated forced march to the sunlit uplands of a neo-Marxist utopia. We Republicans and conservatives see a president and a Senate about to reverse much of the damage you’ve already done to the country we so love, and about to reaffirm the Constitution, rather your wild fantasies and rigid ideology, as the law of the land.

Thank you, President Trump, for doing what We the People elected you to do.

I look forward to your nomination of an outstanding new Justice of the Supreme Court.

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Facebook wants to know how it’s shaping the 2020 elections — researchers say it’s looking too late and in the wrong places (FB)

Summary List Placement

Facebook was first warned in late 2015 that Cambridge Analytica was misusing data illicitly harvested from millions of Americans in an attempt to sway the 2016 US elections.

It didn’t pull the plug on the firm’s access to user data until March 2018 after reporting from The Guardian turned the breach into a global scandal.

More than two years later — and barely two months before the deadline for votes to cast their ballots in the 2020 elections — Facebook has decided it wants to know more about how it impacts democracy, announcing last week that it would partner with 17 researchers to study the impact of Facebook and Instagram on voters’ attitudes and actions.

But researchers outside of the project are conflicted. While they praised Facebook for promising to ensure more transparency and independence than it has before, they also questioned why the company waited so long and just how much this study will really bring to light.

“Isn’t this a little bit too late?” Fadi Quran, a campaign director with nonprofit research group Avaaz, told Business Insider.

“Facebook has known now for a long time that there’s election interference, that malicious actors are using the platform to influence voters,” he said. “Why is this only happening now at such a late stage?” 

Facebook said it doesn’t “expect to publish any findings until mid-2021 at the earliest.” The company did not reply to a request for comment on this story.

Since the company is leaving it to the research team to decide which questions to ask and draw their own conclusions — a good thing — we don’t yet know much about what they hope to learn. In its initial announcement, Facebook said it’s curious about: “whether social media makes us more polarized as a society, or if it largely reflects the divisions that already exist; if it helps people to become better informed about politics, or less; or if it affects people’s attitudes towards government and democracy, including whether and how they vote.”

Facebook executives have reportedly known the answer to that first question — that the company’s algorithms do help polarize and radicalize people — and that they knowingly shut down efforts to fix the issue or even research it more.

But even setting that aside, researchers say they’ve already identified some potential shortcomings in the study.

“A lot of the focus of this work is very much about how honest players are using these systems,” Laura Edelson, a researcher who studies political ads and misinformation at New York University, told Business Insider.

“Where I’m concerned is that they’re almost exclusively not looking at the ways that things are going wrong, and that’s where I wish this was going further,” she added.

Quran echoed that assessment, saying: “One big thing that they’re going to miss by not looking more deeply at these malicious actors, and just by the design, is the scale of content that’s been created by these actors and that’s influencing public opinion.”

A long list of research and media reports have documented Facebook’s struggles to effectively keep political misinformation off its platform — let alone misleading health claims, which despite Facebook’s more aggressive approach, still racked up four times as many views as posts from sites pushing accurate information, according to Avaaz. 

But political information is much more nuanced and constantly evolving, and even in what seem to be clear-cut cases, Facebook has, according to reports, at times incorrectly enforced its own policies or bent over backward to avoid possible political backlash.

Quran and Edelson both worried that Facebook’s election study may not capture the full impact of aspects of the platform like its algorithms, billions of fake accounts, or private groups.

“You find what you go and you look for,” Edelson said. “The great problem of elections on Facebook is not how the honest actors are working within the system.”

Quran also said, though it’s too early say this will happen for sure, that because it’s Facebook asking users directly within their apps to join the study, sometimes in exchange for payment, it risks inadvertently screening out people who are distrustful of the company to begin with.

“We’re already seeing posts on different groups that share disinformation telling people: ‘Don’t participate in the study, this is a Facebook conspiracy'” to spy on users or keep Republicans off the platform ahead of the election, he said. “What this could lead to, potentially, is that the people most impacted by disinformation are not even part of the study.”

In a best-case scenario, Edelson said the researchers could learn valuable information about how our existing understanding of elections maps onto the digital world. Quran said the study could even serve as an “information ecosystem impact assessment,” similar to environmental impact studies, that would help Facebook understand how changes it could make might impact the democratic process.

But both were skeptical that Facebook would make major changes based on this study or the 2020 elections more broadly. And Quran warned that, despite Facebook’s efforts to make the study independent, people shouldn’t take the study as definitive or allow it to become a “stamp of approval.”

It took Facebook nearly four years from when it learned about Cambridge Analytica to identify the tens of thousands of apps that were also misusing data. And though it just published the results of its first independent civil rights audit, the company has made few commitments to implement any of the auditors’ recommendations.

Join the conversation about this story »

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DOLE assures aid to kin of 2 OFWs killed in UAE restaurant blast

MANILA – The government has assured financial assistance and other benefits to the families of the two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were killed in a gas explosion at a restaurant in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Monday.

In a statement on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured that the families of the victims, Clark Bacud Gasis and Merriner Goc-ong Bertoces, will each receive PHP120,000 bereavement assistance.

“They will also get insurance benefits if they are qualified members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA),” he said.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Abu Dhabi reported that a total of 10 Filipinos, including two children, figured in the explosion reportedly caused by a gas leak inside a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant along Airport Road on August 31.

The explosion instantly killed Gasis, 39, an electrical draftsman from Surigao del Sur, and Bertoces, 26, an employee at the restaurant, from Negros Oriental.

Also, Bello added that OWWA would be ready to provide additional aid allowed by law to the families of the victims.

“We will extend to them all the support the government can provide,” he said.

The blast also injured eight other Filipinos. Six of them were immediately taken to the Sheik Khalifa Medical Center (SKMC) for treatment.

Five of the injured have already been discharged while the other one identified as Rodel Paclibar, also a KFC-Abu Dhabi staff member, remains at the hospital for further observation.

A total of 28 persons including other nationals were involved in the deadly blast, reports said.

Meanwhile, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI) urged the people to continue to pray for all OFWs.

“We just honor our living heroes last August 31, they are our OFWs and the Medical front liners. Now we lost two OFWs in line of their works. We see the difficulties and dangers they are into and daily undergoing. So, the more we have to pray for them, appreciate their sacrifices and services, to protect themselves,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos, vice chairman of the CBCP-ECMI in a statement.

At the same time, he offered prayers for the victims and their families.

“We, at CBCP-ECMI, commend their souls to God’s mercy and we are praying for strength of their families to hold on to God and rise up from this tragic event,” the Catholic prelate added.

Santos also lauded Filipino officials in the host country for the help extended to the victims and their families.

“We are also grateful for help and assistance rendered by our Philippine embassy officials to our two OFWs and their families. Let us always pray for our OFWs and do always what is best for them,” he said. (PNA)

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Suicide remains leading cause of death for those aged 10 to 29 in S’pore

There were a total of 400 reported suicides in Singapore in 2019, up from 397 in 2018, Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) said in a release in Aug. 3, 2020.

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Suicides increased across most age groups

Most age groups registered a slight increase in the number of suicide deaths in 2019.

Deaths as a result of suicide dropped to 8.00 per 100,000 Singapore residents from 8.36 in 2018.

Suicide remains the leading cause of death for youths aged 10 to 29.

Notably, the number of suicide deaths amongst those aged 20 to 29 years remains highest compared to all other age groups.

20 to 29 years old group vulnerable

In 2019, 71 youths aged between 20 and 29 years took their own lives.

Suicide accounts for about one-third of all reported deaths in this age group.

Seeking help

Of those who revealed their age, youths between 20 to 29 years old accounted for approximately 17 per cent of total calls attended to on the 24-hour hotline, and making up for about 37 per cent of Email Befriending clients.

In particular, the number of calls from this age group rose to 4,124, up from 3,396 calls in the previous fiscal year ending March 2019.

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Problems encountered

Through interactions with clients, SOS observed that these individuals often cite issues with romantic relationships, difficulties coping with one’s mental health and struggles managing challenging situations as contributing factors that led to their acute distress.

In a survey recently conducted by SOS to understand the community’s perception towards suicide, one in three in the 20 to 29 age group, responded that they will not consider contacting others for help when they are emotionally overwhelmed.

Stigmatising beliefs around suicide emerged as a common barrier to seeking help for this group.

The fear of embarrassment, being judged, along with the sense of hopelessness that nothing will help, were prominent reasons that surfaced in the survey findings.

A total of 2,497 respondents participated in the survey, of which 580 were aged 20 to 29.

Gasper Tan, Chief Executive of SOS, said: “While the rise in calls is an encouraging sign that youths are recognising the importance of their mental health and need for early intervention, the high number of suicide deaths in this age group is concerning.”

“Much more remains to be done as a community to further understand and address the issues that may prevent our youths from seeking help”.

Highlighting the integral role of advocacy in recent years, he added: “As the lead agency in suicide prevention, SOS will continue to harness these efforts, drawing on the strength, support and network of the community in our programmes and outreach”.

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SOS text-based service introduced

The launch of SOS’ text-based service, SOS Care Text, has been brought forward in recognition of the hesitation of calling the hotline for some individuals in distress or contemplating suicide and their preference for another option through text messaging.

Referring to the increase in the number of calls into the 24-hour Hotline and emails during the Circuit Breaker period, Tan said: “During these trying times, it is crucial that SOS is able to readily provide an alternative form of emotional support while catering to the changing communication preferences of the community.”

Respondents to the SOS survey had also indicated text-based services as the most preferred platform to seek help, reflecting the timely introduction of this offering.

About SOS

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) is a secular, non-profit suicide prevention centre.

Established 1969, SOS has developed into a professionally run and managed organisation that adopts a holistic approach to suicide-related topics, focusing on prevention, intervention and postvention, an intervention conducted after a suicide for loved ones and friends.

With the mission to be an available lifeline to anyone in crisis, SOS offers emotional support to people in crisis, thinking of suicide, or affected by suicide.

All information shared with SOS is treated as confidential and people can choose to remain anonymous.

Top photo via Unsplash

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