• Elon, Time to Kill Twitter

    October 19, 2022 // 2 Comments »

    Nothing would be better than for Elon Musk to buy Twitter and then kill it. Take it off line. Delete it. Make it go away.

    What is the point anymore? Like some aged European monarchy, the service has become too inbred to say anything useful. It consists now as a giant push survey, claiming the appearance of action equals action. Even the poltergeist of Twitter, cancelation of people, is like a magic spell that you have to believe in for it to work. Live outside the Twitter demographic and it does not matter. Listening to people talk, you’d think Twitter had the power to raise the dead, or more often, the opposite. Twitter is the physical embodiment of what Glenn Greenwald describes as Democrats criminalizing opposition to their party and ideology. Dissenting ideas are “disinformation” and must be censored. Trump voters are inherently criminal (“insurrectionists”) and should be imprisoned or at least banished for thought crimes.

    Recently rewatching Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9, it is obvious the 2018 film is mainly a screed about all the bad things Trump was going to do as president. Time is a cold witch of a mistress: basically nothing Moore predicted four years ago about what was going to happen actually happened. Moore was wrong about Trump’s ties to Russia, Moore was wrong about Trump being the last elected president because he would seize total power, and Moore was wrong about the lasting impact of the progressive Twitter heroes of the year, the Parkland High School survivors.

    You do remember the mass shooting in a Parkland, Florida high school, right? A handful of “survivors” were insta-made into social media sensations by presenting their views on gun control unopposed and uncommented on. In his film Moore portrayed the kids were examples of an anti-Trump force sent by the universe to Tweet as a balancing mechanism, and that the power of their online activism was America’s only chance to remain a democracy free of daily massacres. You can’t do justice to the hyperbole of Moore’s narration in print; you would think by listening these kids had the power to change something simply by amassing RTs on Twitter. A good chunk of the movie is just Moore staring at the kids changing everything fascistic in the world by being online, the filmmaker’s expression somewhere between pedophile on the playground fence and a proud dad.

    One can imagine Moore’s reaction if he was still relevant enough to quote to Musk’s impending takeover of Twitter as a twist on the absurd: Musk will have too much power to make Twitter into anything he wants, even a full-on bastion of unfettered speech. Instead of relaying on the Terms of Service to ensure people like the Parkland Kids face no opposition online, Moore might worry just the opposite, that the opposition, left to its own point making, might overwhelm the dumbass ideas that tend to come from 16-year-olds handed a very big microphone with no supervision. For those new here, that is the point, to allow better ideas to overwhelm poor ideas.

    Have a look at what Twitter had done in the name of “free speech” and ending “misinformation,” the rallying cries now of so-called progressives. Twitter took an entire subject of critical interest, Hunter Biden, off the media menu and thus out of public viewing just prior to the last presidential election. Twitter silenced the loudest voices of opposition to the Democrats, people like Donald Trump himself and others like Alex Jones and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Call them what you want to, the idea in a free country is you’d have the opportunity to hear what they had to say if you wished to or maybe encounter speech that made you rethink your own views by accident (protip: that’s a cornerstone of Jeffersonian democracy, oh wait, Jefferson is on the outs now, too, sorry.)

    Twitter also found cause to black out the satire site Babylon Bee and Libs of TikTok. The Bee’s violation? Naming transperson Rachel Levine its “Man of the Year.” Libs of TikTok only reposted clips from left-wing users on social media, including from drag queens and gay and transgender activists but that too was too much. Things got so stupid that Trump Derangement Post Child Robert Reich in his role as the Rob Reiner of faux-intellectuals tweeted, “When multi-billionaires take control of our most vital platforms for communication, it’s not a win for free speech. It’s a win for oligarchy.”

    “We are calling for careful content moderation that balances the important ideals of democracy, free expression, and public health and safety,” said Jessica González, co-CEO of Free Press, a media advocacy organization. Imagine that,  a group which says its supports a free press demanding censorship. But why pull punches — Politico wonders “If Musk sticks with his word and removes most of the content moderation rules in place, which could include those that ban hate speech, extremism and vaccine and election misinformation — it may turn into a platform that poses a threat to democracy.”

    Irony aside, look what they are afraid of: unfettered free speech brought to you by one of the few men rich enough to pay for it for us.

    And that’s why Musk should instead kill off Twitter, and any other social media he can acquire. His legacy would not be to be the oligarch who gave us a smatter of free speech but the oligarch that helped break the grip oligarchs, whether progressive or otherwise, now have on our speech. Burn Twitter to the ground to save it, er, us, from any attempts to adjudicate further what we can read and listen to. If a social media outlet can’t present a democratic platform in a democratic way (i.e., without a rich guy paying our way to freedom like an abolitionists buying slaves only to set them loose) then we should not want it. We’ve gone too far in turning “content moderation” into crude censorship and viewpoint discrimination.

    Public forums need to just that, public. You do not achieve free speech via censorship no matter who wields the red pencil. Musk can’t change that we’ve reached a point in democracy’s evolution where some half of us fear free speech, but there it is. His contribution is to kill the beast that Twitter has become, and hope something more democratic rises in its place.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Other Ideas

    Michael Moore.com Supports We Meant Well

    March 21, 2012 // 1 Comment »

    Thinking they can sell their version of events– punish the whistleblower (me) instead of investigating the allegations ($44 billion wasted on Iraq reconstruction)– the State Department continues its dripping treacle hypocrisy, proclaiming rights for internet advocates and free speech abroad while citing “regulations” they wrote themselves that prevent free speech within its own ranks.

    Good news is that not everyone is swallowing this. MichaelMoore.com today asks:

    Dear Hillary: Please Speak Out Against
    This Attack on Free Speech in a Far-Away Land – Clinton’s State Department moves to fire Peter Van Buren, foreign service officer, author and MichaelMoore.com blogger for writing unflattering things about his time in Iraq

    Powerful Words! Where Is This Lady Now?
    “In America, we are proud of our long and distinctive record of championing [] freedom of speech … we have worked to share our best practices.” – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, three short months ago

    Awesome, Now We Need Russia to Protest for Us
    “The American media, always ready to stand behind Russian whistleblowers, shows remarkably little interest in whistleblowers operating closer to home.” –Voice of Russia, radio network run by Putin’s government

    DO SOMETHING: Call Hillary Clinton at 202-647-4000. Politely remind Secretary Clinton that her nice-sounding speeches about freedom of speech would come across better if they weren’t all a bunch of crap.


    Diplopundit today sadly catalogs the Foreign Service blogs (“free speech”) that have gone dark, wondering if this is “is the ‘Peter Van Buren’ effect on the FS blogosphere.”

    Some inside the State Department are secretly proud of the blogs closing down, knowing that by stiffling free speech they have made their internal bosses happy. State is a terminally inward looking bureaucracy, doomed to a slow ride into irrelevancy, largely because it is so inwardly focused. Drones will continue to write speeches for Hillary demanding free speech in China while two floors below them other drones crush dissent within Hillary’s own employee ranks.

    State doesn’t seem to care, or even realize, that the rest of the world sees through this hypocrisy. The result? Pretty soon no one will listen to Hillary anymore but her own loyal lickspittles, making a perfect circle inside the Department while the rest of the world turns the channel. No wonder Congress continues to cut back State’s budget and reduce its ranks year after year.

    With just a little more effort, the State Department will become the late-night cable public access show of the world, watched and listened to only by its own staff. They’ll be happy then.



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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Other Ideas

    Occupying Iraq, State Department-Style: A Frat House With Guns in Baghdad

    June 8, 2011 // 2 Comments »

    If you did not have a chance to read my article, Occupying Iraq, State Department-Style: A Frat House With Guns in Baghdad, yesterday at TomDispatch, or work at the Department of State where TomDispatch is still blocked because it once had some Wikileaks spunge on it, you can catch up at one of your fave sites, below:

    CBS News

    Salon

    Andrew Sullivan

    Mother Jones

    Le Monde Diplomatique

    Asia Times

    The Indypendent

    The Nation

    Neiman Watchdog

    Huffington Post

    The Sri Lanka Guardian

    American Conservative Magazine

    Pacific Free Press

    War in Context

    Gulf Today

    MyFiredoglake

    Daily Kos

    Michael Moore

    Counterpunch

    American Empire Project

    Antiwar.com

    Middle East Online

    Guernica

    Uruknet

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Other Ideas