You Can’t ‘Just Build Your Own Twitter’

By Robert Mariani

The balance of two opposing forces—military-industrial surveillance capitalism and progressive cultural hegemony—once formed an equilibrium that gave the average Joe some options in life. That equilibrium was on its way out for a while, but it collapsed with the Capitol riots. The progressive camp has swallowed up it’s rival—or maybe the other way around. Anyway, who cares. Does the supposed direction of this absorption tell us much besides the team affiliation of the one supposing it?

We’re seeing the beginnings of what unambiguous power looks like. Corporate donors are dropping the GOP, throwing away an intimate, decades-long DD/lg relationship. But perhaps more important is the wave of unprecedented internet censorship that included the digital death penalty for Trump and his allies, and also for any users who continue to make claims of election fraud. This was seemingly coordinated among the entire now-private public square, and private companies are of course allowed to do whatever they want.

Average Joe might feel like he’s living on the edge of a knife. Don’t like it? Why not just create your own social media website that competes with Twitter in moderation policies? This is America, right?

But to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. Here are the interconnecting layers of the internet that you’ll need to recreate yourself.

Build Your Own Website

Scattered across the infamy spectrum are a few attempts to Just Build Your Own Twitter. Building a website, in and of itself, is pretty easy these days, since there are open-source options that cost nothing and no-code services that can be bought. Both result in minimal technical work on your end.

Gab was founded in 2016 as a “free-speech” alternative to Twitter: the only content that’s restricted is content that violates the law. Because the only people who really benefit from a neutral content policy are culturally radioactive right-wingers, the user base quickly spiralled into a den of far-right villainy. Consequently, it was booted from the Google Play app store in 2017, and never made it onto the iOS App Store.

Parler, for reasons that escape me, tried the same thing as Gab but expected it to work. This Twitter-clone was founded in 2018 and was marketed to conservatives as a place free of partisan caprice. The typical user seems to be somewhat less racist than Gab: where Gab has Nazis, Parler has a few too many QAnon cultists.

In a shocking swerve, Parler was also booted from the two mobile app stores. So to build our own Twitter, we must go deeper down the stack.

Build Your Own Mobile OS and App Store

Eighty percent of Twitter’s users access the social network through the mobile app. Having an app on iOS and Android is pretty essential for something as app-ish as a social media platform. People demand them. Using a mobile browser is an option for an app, …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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KT McFarland: Only Trump, Biden can fix the Great American Divide ripping us apart – here’s how

By K.T. McFarland I believe the greatest threat to America comes from within — from the political civil war we are waging against each other. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Inside the Grim Impeachment Encore

By Curt Mills

President Donald Trump was impeached for the second time in less than a year this week, as the nation reels from the lethal Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

Impeachment is a political-legal process and he was charged with a single count: inciting insurrection. After the storming of the legislature, which resulted in the deaths of five, Trump says he’ll go quietly from office, though he still questions the validity of the election results.

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office told prominent Trump ally Sean Hannity that the earliest an impeachment trial could be begin is 1PM on Jan. 20, an hour after President-elect Joe Biden is to be ushered into power.

At issue is the fate of President Trump and his political movement that commands the support of still tens of millions. His presidency now ends — and this is extraordinary — with more questions than it began.

First, will the Senate really take this up? Impeachment has customarily been understood to be a process to remove a sitting president, not convict a former one— or bar him from federal office, as is proposed by the count of the indictment.

Senior administration officials have drawn solace in recent days by the arguments of J. Michael Luttig (a conservative jurist who has crossed Trump before) who says it’s a no-go. “The Constitution itself answers this question clearly . … Once Trump’s term ends on Jan. 20, Congress loses its constitutional authority to continue impeachment proceedings against him — even if the House has already approved articles of impeachment.”

“Article I, Section 3 provides in relevant part: ‘Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States,’” Luttig writes.

Luttig concedes the matter is unprecedented but drops hints of his intel on the Supreme Court, now more conservative than it’s been in generations. (Luttig, a well-connected, former Fourth Circuit judge, was once primed for the Court himself). “It is highly unlikely the Supreme Court would yield to Congress’s view that it has the power to impeach a president who is no longer in office when the Constitution itself is so clear that it does not.”

Luttig says that the Trump will not be barred from federal office, when it’s all said and done, because the impeachment trial must be constitutional, which he and many conservatives believe it is not.

Of course, this may not stop the trial from happening, anyway, only to be later invalidated by the Court. And, of course, top liberal jurists and academics disagree with Luttig.

And of course, further events may intervene.

Trump’s old nemesis, former FBI director James Comey, is urging Biden to pardon Trump, and though he believes Trump belongs in jail (he could be charged in manifold matters unrelated to this impeachment), he’s suggesting Biden not pursue the matter for the good of the country.

Comey’s penchant for seemingly involving himself in any political matter he can, and this latest …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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The Brutal Taiwan Dilemma Trump Will Leave for Biden

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that the United States was lifting all “self-imposed” limitations on U.S. official contacts with Taiwan’s government may have created an immediate foreign policy crisis for the incoming Biden administration. Pompeo’s statement was blunt and uncompromising:

Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and reliable partner of the United States, and yet for several decades the State Department has created complex internal restrictions to regulate our diplomats, service members, and other officials’ interactions with their Taiwanese counterparts. The United States government took these actions unilaterally, in an attempt to appease the Communist regime in Beijing. No more. Today I am announcing that I am lifting all of these self-imposed restrictions. Executive branch agencies should consider all “contact guidelines” regarding relations with Taiwan previously issued by the Department of State under authorities delegated to the Secretary of State to be null and void.

Taiwan’s cheerleaders in the United States hailed the move, but Beijing’s angry reaction was swift and predictable. Chinese officials emphasized that they consider the Trump administration’s latest move a brazen violation of the “one-China” policy that Washington has maintained since it switched diplomatic relations from the Republic of China (Taiwan’s official name) to the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1979.

As part of the one-China formula, successive U.S. administrations have confined government-to-government contacts with Taiwan to low-level officials only. And most of those contacts have involved economic and cultural, not security, issues. During the Trump administration, though, those restraints noticeably weakened, and with Pompeo’s announcement, they appear to have vanished.

This development creates an acute dilemma for the Biden administration. No matter what move the new president makes, there will be major drawbacks. Washington has now substantially upgraded ties with one of East Asia’s most vibrant democracies instead of keeping relations in the shadows. If Biden reverses that policy, it will appear to be appeasement of a brutal dictatorship that already is in the process of extinguishing liberty in Hong Kong. Biden will catch serious flak from Taiwan’s supporters in Congress and conservative news media outlets. On the other hand, Taiwan is a hot-button issue for the PRC, and retaining the new policy toward Taipei would become a huge obstacle to Biden’s efforts to improve the U.S.-PRC relationship that became severely strained during the Trump years. Whether or not Trump intended to create such a nasty dilemma for his successor, it will be the inescapable result.

In reality, Pompeo’s announcement was the capstone of a policy shift that has been taking place inexorably over the past four years. As the Japan Times notes: “As president-elect in December 2016, Trump took the rare step of receiving a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. The call, the first contact between a leader of Taiwan and an incumbent or incoming U.S. president in nearly four decades, angered China and set the stage for a rapid deterioration of Sino-U.S. ties under Trump.”

That incident was a sign of changes to come. The Trump administration provided the …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Ex-CDC Chief Dr. Tom Frieden: 5 things we must do now to combat a major COVID death surge

By Tom Frieden The coronavirus might kill 1 million Americans, especially if a more transmissible strain spreads widely. So we must work to prevent that from happening. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Ari Fleischer: Trump is a political wrecking ball — but with remarkable accomplishments

By Ari Fleischer President Trump entered office in 2017 as a political wrecking ball. He leaves the presidency Wednesday as an even bigger wrecking ball. In between, he was a wrecking ball with accomplishments. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Vice President Pence: The late test pilot Chuck Yeager, first to break sound barrier, makes his last flight

By Mike Pence Last Dec. 7, the greatest aviator in American history ascended into the heavens. On Friday, joined by my family on Air Force Two, it will be my honor to accompany the widow and earthly remains of retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, America’s pilot, on his last flight. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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