It’s more than just a “snappy slogan.”

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Photo: Backbone Campaign | CC-BY-2.0

Pretty funny for Obama, the “Hope and Change” guy, to be talking about snappy slogans, especially considering his record in regards to his own slogans. The most egregious part is that he seems to be missing the point on purpose. As Lauren Martinchek points out, he’s “intelligent enough to understand that it’s not a slogan.” When most people make these kinds of arguments, it is usually reasonable to assume that they’re at least coming at it in good faith, and perhaps truly don’t understand that it isn’t just about reform. …


When it comes to US imperialism, a “return to normal” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

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Image: C-SPAN

Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for the position of Secretary of State, had his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, which was described by PBS as “relatively non-contentious.” Although nothing is certain as of this writing, Karen DeYoung also wrote in The Washington Post that he “appear[ed] to be sailing to confirmation.” DeYoung noted that even Lindsey Graham, who had previously opposed Blinken, this time called him an “outstanding choice,” and voiced his intention to vote in favor of the confirmation. …


But more authoritarianism is not the way to go.

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Photo: Tyler Merbler | CC-BY-2.0

This is, understandably, a touchy subject. However, it is also one that recent events have shown should have been addressed more widely some time ago. Donald Trump may have brought the situation to a head, but our problem with white supremacy and the conditions that lead to fascism has a much longer history. If you think about this in strictly binary terms, the USA is not a fascist state. On the other hand, to think more broadly about it, where can we mark the point that fascism starts? …


We shouldn’t be sad to see him go, but there is more to consider.

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Image by Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay

The recent purge of Trump and his supporters from social media seems to have kicked off a bit of a controversy, and not just between those who support him and those who don’t. This situation has also brought attention to the issue of the power social media companies have over online communication, but there are some who seem to be glossing over some things in the excitement over Trump’s removal. This is understandable, as the circumstances represent a sort of worst-case scenario that makes it difficult to make a case without seeming to defend Trump’s actions. That is not the goal of this article, to get that out of the way. …


Freedom of the press is still under threat

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Photo: GrimsbyT | Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week, U.K. judge Vanessa Bararitser blocked the extradition of Julian Assange to the U.S., citing “extreme risk of suicide.” The judge said that extradition to the U.S. “would be unjust and oppressive by reason of Mr. Assange’s mental condition,” due to the conditions he would likely face if imprisoned here. While this was indeed good news, it was a brief and bittersweet victory.

To begin with, as Jonathan Cook pointed out in an article on Popular Resistance, the judge’s rejection of the extradition was based on “what was effectively a technicality.” It almost appears as though this may have simply been a delaying tactic, as the judge seems to have not had any problem with the U.S. prosecution’s request itself. …


It doesn’t matter if social media sites are publishers or not.

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Image: Animated Heaven | Public Domain

Up until recently, Republicans and Democrats alike, including Biden’s “top tech advisor,” have mostly tried to frame this as an issue of protecting children, the old go-to method of fear-mongering when it comes to anything related to the internet. However, the recent election presented several occasions for politicians and media types alike to get it wrong from a different angle, and encourage corporate censorship for purely political reasons. Many of those involved in the debate over Section 230 and whether social media sites should be protected from liability concerning content posted on their platforms seem to be missing a key point: as far as the law is concerned, whether or not the sites are considered by themselves or others to be “publishers” has no bearing on the immunity the law provides. …


He may be impressed with himself, but nobody else should be.

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Photo: jlhervàs | CC-BY-2.0

Joe Biden has been telling us who he is for a long time, but some seem to be confused about it. Conveniently, Biden does a fantastic job here of summing up just who he is for anyone who might be unsure, all in the course of one Zoom meeting. Although Biden likely would have preferred for this call to remain private so he could use it to point to the time he met with civil rights leaders throughout the next four years, someone had the foresight to record it for posterity.

The first thing to point out here is that nobody should be surprised. He’s not actually shy about where he stands, even his “restoring the soul of the nation” schtick gives it away. He doesn’t really want to change anything, he just wants to get our nice American family back together, like the good old days. …


We were left hanging for months, only to end up with a worse deal.

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Photo: Gage Skidmore | CC-BY-SA

Back in September, myself and others speculated that Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to vote on the stimulus bill that was on the table seemed like it could be a ploy to withhold a “win” from Trump before the election. In a podcast interview with Kara Swisher around that time, she said that “the president does not want to legislate and just wants to have his name on a check, that ain’t going to happen.” She also claimed that it would be a poor strategic move, because “the Republicans would like to pass something like that and say forget about it.” …


Healthcare is a human right, and we need to do better.

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Photo: Molly Adams | CC-BY-2.0

Although it seems as though it may be the best we can hope for in a Biden presidency, just adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act is far from enough to address the problems in our broken healthcare system. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, since the ACA is essentially a tweaked version of the same ideas from the Heritage Foundation that were used by Mitt Romney for his healthcare plan when he was governor of Massachusetts. …


The past and future of consumerism and democracy.

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Photo: Colton Vond | CC-BY-2.0

Manipulative advertising is nothing new. Most of us are probably aware of it to one degree or another, but we may not be aware of how far it goes. Modern technology enables this manipulation to be extremely fine-tuned, and as pointed out in a recent article on Science Daily, while we may think we’re in control of our browsing when online, “much of that is ‘an illusion.’ Corporations are ‘nudging’ us online more than we realize, and often in hidden ways.”

The study mentioned in the Science Daily article concerned a fairly specific type of manipulation, but the quoted statement applies more broadly. While it may seem like the stuff of dystopian sci-fi, the power of corporations to not only manipulate our feelings, but also to predict and control our actions, is all too real, and has grown immensely over time. When viewed through the lens of history, and when the foibles of the human brain are taken into account, it becomes more clear how such a thing came to be, even more so when one further considers the characters and attitudes of the people who tend to inhabit the upper echelons of our society. …

About

Kevin Breidenbach

Mountain hermit turned rabble rouser. Maker of strange noises. Deeply disturbed, but not surprised. He/him. Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/nivekbr

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