Althouse | category: Dan Bongino



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"Elon Musk, ever a bundle of contradictions and inconsistencies, has long made his politics tricky to pin down."

The NYT — ever a bundle of [fill in the blank] — has been avoiding the "Twitter Files" but is delving into The Mind of Musk in "Critics Say Musk Has Revealed Himself as a Conservative. It’s Not So Simple. Elon Musk has tweeted about political topics regularly since taking over Twitter, often belittling some liberal causes. But what he stands for remains largely unclear" by Jeremy W. Peters.

In a 24-hour period late this week, he tweeted more than 40 times, often with little rhyme or reason....

It’s true Mr. Musk certainly sounds a lot like a Republican — and, sometimes, a lot like Mr. Trump — with his missives on Twitter against “woke” politics and Covid restrictions, his attacks on “elite” media and his efforts to draw attention to allegations that Hunter Biden profited from his father’s political clout....

But where Mr. Musk has seemed most in line with the G.O.P. of Mr. Trump is in the tenor of his political commentary, which if anything seems more spiritedly anti-left than ideologically pro-right....

This doesn't feel mysterious to me at all. It sounds almost exactly the way I feel. So my hypothesis is that he's liberal, he's spent a lot of time around liberals and lefties, and he's got endless problems with the way they've betrayed what, it seems, should be their true values.

Many of his recent tweets have had that kind of “own the libs” tone, the shorthand on the right for when conservatives think they’ve deftly, often sarcastically, swatted down a liberal. A couple of weeks ago, he posted video on Twitter of a closet full of T-shirts with the slogan “#stay woke” that he said he had found at the social media company’s headquarters....

Mr. Musk has always claimed his concerns with Twitter’s previous management were about the ability of a small group of the company’s employees whom he described as “far left” to censor content.

Ah! Way down near the end of this piece, there is Twitter Files material — so the Times seems to want to cover it but not make it too visible (which reminds me of the way old Twitter "deamplified" material it disfavored):

[O]ver the past week, he has cheered on tweets about internal communications before he took over. The communications, which were given to two writers who have posted their findings on Twitter, calling them the Twitter Files, showed how the company went about deciding what information got suppressed.

The main thing isn't the files but The Mind of Musk as it observes the publication of the files.

As for the files:

It’s been a mixed bag of revelations. Some showed how Twitter employees made it harder to see tweets from a Stanford University professor who warned about how Covid lockdowns could harm children — a view many public health experts have come around to accept well after the fact.

That's massively important! And yet the NYT doesn't even tell us the name of the Stanford professor. It's Jay Bhattacharya. His story ought to be isolated, elaborated, and made front-page news!

Other documents show how more conventional, conspiracy-theory-embracing conservatives were shut down, like Dan Bongino, the radio host who was one of the biggest amplifiers of lies about the 2020 election.

And that's it for coverage of the Twitter Files. It's back to The Mind of Musk:

Mr. Musk has not professed to have any profound attachment to Republican policies, though, which is consistent with his posture before taking over Twitter....  In an interview with The New York Times in 2020, he described his politics as “middle-of-the-road.” “I’m socially very liberal. And then economically right of center, maybe, or center. I don’t know. I’m obviously not a communist.”...

He sounds like any intelligent American who isn't drawn to party politics. We may even be the majority! If only the New York Times could stop catering to the Democratic Party and write for us.

Often, it seems, his posts are motivated by personal pique, not political philosophy....

Great! An actual human being. Some people love them.

"On any given afternoon, Bongino might read advertisements for survivalist food rations ('Act now, and your order will be shipped quickly and discreetly to your door in unmarked boxes') and shotguns and massage chairs and filet mignon and holsters..."

"... 'custom-molded to fit your exact firearm for a quick, smooth draw.' In between, he supplies listeners with a tight rotation of political hits—a jab at the 'pino' ('President in name only'), followed by a savaging of the press ('Don’t ever call me a journalist, that’s an insult')—interspersed with dispatches from the culture wars (a ruckus over the use of 'jedi' as an acronym for 'justice, equality, diversity, and inclusion,' which prompted Bongino to cry, 'They can’t cancel "Star Wars"!').... Bongino, like other prominent [Trump] supporters, seems to put increasing stock in what researchers refer to as 'blue lies,' the kinds of claims that pull believers together and drive skeptics away....  Bongino is also adept at the 'accusation in a mirror' approach—co-opting the language and strategies of his opponents.... Nothing, though, has proved more potent than the constant regeneration of fear.... 'These people want you dead,' he said, and offered a call to action. 'The activism has to be dialled up times ten. These people are crazy....'...  In his punditry, Bongino talks about fear all the time. 'Fear has always been the Democrats’ coin of the realm,' he told podcast listeners in June. 'How else are they going to coax you into delivering them your civil liberties and freedom? They do it through things like coronavirus.' In a mock orator’s voice, he said, 'Give up your right to assemble!'"

I don't think I'd ever noticed the term "blue lies" before. Here's an article from 2017 in Scientific American — "How the Science of 'Blue Lies' May Explain Trump’s Support/They are a very particular form of deception that can build solidarity within groups." We're told it's "a psychologist’s term for falsehoods, told on behalf of a group, that can actually strengthen bonds among the members of that group":
Children start to tell selfish lies at about age three, when they discover adults cannot read their minds: I didn’t steal that toy. Daddy said I could. He hit me first. At around age seven, they begin to tell white lies motivated by feelings of empathy and compassion: That’s a good drawing. I love socks for Christmas. You’re funny.

Blue lies are a different category altogether, simultaneously selfish and beneficial to others—but only to those who belong to your group. As University of Toronto psychologist Kang Lee explains, blue lies fall in between generous white lies and selfish “black” ones. “You can tell a blue lie against another group,” he says, which makes it simultaneously selfless and self-serving. “For example, you can lie about your team’s cheating in a game, which is antisocial but helps your team.”

In a 2008 study of seven, nine and 11-year-old children, Lee and his colleagues found that children become more likely to endorse and tell blue lies as they grow older. For example, given an opportunity to lie to an interviewer about rule breaking in the selection process of a school chess team, many were quite willing to do so, older kids more than younger ones. The children telling this lie did not stand to selfishly benefit; they were doing it on behalf of their school. This line of research finds that black lies drive people apart, white lies draw them together and blue lies pull some people together while driving others away....

That explains why most Americans seem to accept that our intelligence agencies lie in the interests of national security, and we laud our spies as heroes. From this perspective, blue lies are weapons in intergroup conflict. As philosopher Sissela Bok once said, “Deceit and violence—these are the two forms of deliberate assault on human beings.” Lying and bloodshed are often framed as crimes when committed inside a group—but as virtues in a state of war.

This research—and these stories—highlights a difficult truth about our species: we are intensely social creatures, but we are prone to divide ourselves into competitive groups, largely for the purpose of allocating resources. People can be prosocial—compassionate, empathetic, generous, honest—in their group and aggressively antisocial toward out-groups. When we divide people into groups, we open the door to competition, dehumanization, violence—and socially sanctioned deceit....
It is in blue lies that the best and worst in humanity can come together. They reveal our loyalty, our ability to cooperate, and our capacity to care about the people around us and to trust them. At the same time, blue lies display our predisposition to hate and dehumanize outsiders and our tendency to delude ourselves....

There's SO much blue lying out there! It's hard to get along with people if you don't go in for it.  

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