Althouse | category: emotional politics



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"It can no longer be denied"/"Free speech" is right wing.

I'm trying to read "Twitter Is a Far-Right Social Network/It can no longer be denied" by Charlie Warzel at The Atlantic.
Truth Social, a website backed in part by Donald Trump, says it encourages “an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating on the basis of political ideology.” This language is indistinguishable from the way that [Tucker] Carlson spoke of [Elon] Musk’s Twitter, arguing that “there aren’t many platforms left that allow free speech,” and that the site is “the last big one remaining in the world.” 
If it acts like a right-wing website and markets itself as a right-wing website, it just might be a right-wing website....

Warzel is hoping for the worst for Twitter, and it's a hope that we've seen since the beginning of the Musk takeover. A free speech policy will drive out the liberals and lefties, and without lefties to kick around, righties won't be happy:

A culture war is no fun if there’s no actual conflict.... Social-media platforms that cater to the right’s ideology eventually become tired and predictable—the result of the same loud people shaking their fist at digital clouds....

It's odd, isn't it? Lefties abandoned Twitter because they wanted their antagonists excluded, and now righties will leave because they want their antagonists present and actively fighting them. According to Warzel.

Is this at the core of the seeming left/right difference on the value of free speech — whether you want to say what you have to say without heckling and harassment from people who disagree with you or whether you want a feisty, real-time debate? 

"Gen Z-ers grew up with hypercautious parenting that exaggerates the dangers in life."

"They grew up in a media culture that generates ratings and clicks by generating division and anger. They grew up in a political culture that magnifies a sense of menace — that presumes that other people are toxic — in order to tell simplistic us/them stories and mobilize people’s fears.... People who grow up in this culture of distrust are bound to adopt self-protective codes of behavior.... People who grow up in a culture of distrust are bound to be pessimistic about life....People who grow up with this mentality are also less likely to believe they can control their own destinies.... As a certified middle-aged guy, I’m glad that the members of Gen Z behave... responsibly.... Politically, they lean left, but dispositionally they are cautious and conservative. But the sense of exaggerated menace has its downsides.... It’s always good to be on guard against a dangerous creep, but you may miss out on meeting the person who could be the love of your life."
Writes David Brooks in "What Our Toxic Culture Does to the Young" (NYT).

"I talked with Nader about his role much later, and he basically said the outcome was Gore’s fault for being a bad candidate."

"This conversation took place when the country was bearing down on the 2016 election, and Nader vowed not to vote for either Trump or Clinton. 'They’re not alike,' he acknowledged, but added, 'they’re both terrible.' Think that was the last time I ever consulted Ralph Nader."

Writes Gail Collins in "Repulsed by Biden vs. Trump? Tough" (NYT).

It was bad enough to go through the 2020 campaign once and it's bad to go through any presidential campaign twice, but to go through the 2020 campaign twice is just such an outrage. Why aren't people kicking and screaming as we're dragged into this?!

Gail Collins belabors what, of course, I already knew was the answer to my question. Just put up with the disgusting reality that we've got 2 parties, they do their thing, and you obediently vote for the better of the 2, even though Ralph was right and they're both terrible. 

CORRECTION: This post originally had Ruth Marcus for Gail Collins. I need to think about why I'd merged these 2 writers!

"Highly anticipated cases have made the [Wisconsin] Supreme Court race the most expensive in the nation’s history."

"Top issues include abortion and redistricting — not transgender rights. But American Principles Project (APP) is part of a national, far-right movement to demonize transgender people and undermine their rights."

I haven't looked at the ad yet, but I find it hard to believe that what it does is "demonize transgender people." I'm going to guess that the "demonizing" — to the extent that there is any — is aimed at the providers of treatments who have transgender persons as patients and to those who would regulate speech in schools and places of business.

Oh! I thought I'd be able to watch the ad at the news article, but I'm just seeing a screen shot from the ad. It displays a headline about parents suing a school over "transgender policy." I think this is the ad.

It's consistent with my guess, above. There is a case premised on parental rights that attacks what schools are doing. Voters may have preferences about how that case comes out and reason that the 2 judicial candidates will skew in different directions. If it instills fear, it's a fear that can motivate both sides to vote to avert the result they dread.

We're told the videos contain "transphobia" and "disinformation," and the article does go on at some length describing the video and identifying mistakes. I do think the article makes its own severe mistake, saying that there is "demonizing" of transgender people. This is a debate about the balance of power between schools and parents, where both the schools and the parents may very well believe that they are doing what is best for the children. 

The question for voters is which judicial candidate will do a better job of sorting out the legal questions presented in these cases. It's a shame that the ads — and the commentary on the ads — aren't more rational and scrupulously fact-based.

"Appropriately titled 'Tightness-Looseness Across the 50 United States,' the study calculated a catalog of measures for each state..."

"... including the incidence of natural disasters, disease prevalence, residents’ levels of openness and conscientiousness, drug and alcohol use, homelessness and incarceration rates.... The South dominated the tight states: Mississippi, Alabama Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, South Carolina and North Carolina. With two exceptions — Nevada and Hawaii — states in New England and on the West Coast were the loosest: California, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont...."

In a 2019 interview, [psychprof Michele J.] Gelfand said that 
Some groups have much stronger norms than others; they’re tight. Others have much weaker norms; they’re loose. Of course, all cultures have areas in which they are tight and loose — but cultures vary in the degree to which they emphasize norms and compliance with them. 
Cultural differences, Gelfand continued, “have a certain logic — a rationale that makes good sense,” noting that “cultures that have threats need rules to coordinate to survive (think about how incredibly coordinated Japan is in response to natural disasters). But cultures that don’t have a lot of threat can afford to be more permissive and loose.”

The researcher is choosing which things to inspect for tightness or looseness. What if you had to argue that California and Oregon were "tight"? You'd just identify some areas of ideology about which leftish folk are harshly disciplinarian. 

The tight-loose concept, Gelfand argued, is an important framework to understand the rise of President Donald Trump and other leaders in Poland, Hungary, Italy, and France, among others. The gist is this: when people perceive threat — whether real or imagined, they want strong rules and autocratic leaders to help them survive.

I'd say we need to watch out for autocrats, but if you think they're all coming from the right, you're going to get blindsided. 

My research has found that within minutes of exposing study participants to false information about terrorist incidents, overpopulation, pathogen outbreaks and natural disasters, their minds tightened. They wanted stronger rules and punishments.

"Tight" is a confusing word. It could describe orderliness and cool practicality. I think of a "tight ship." But it could imply rigidity and fear of change. Why was "tight" ever used for "drunk"? "Loose" is confusing too. Is it relaxed and creative or lazy and disorganized? I wrote that before reading this:

In her book, Gelfand writes that tightness encourages conscientiousness, social order and self-control on the plus side, along with close-mindedness, conventional thinking and cultural inertia on the minus side. Looseness, Gelfand posits, fosters tolerance, creativity and adaptability, along with such liabilities as social disorder, a lack of coordination and impulsive behavior.

So, Gelfand embraces the confusingness. We need a balance of loose and tight, apparently — like yin and yang.

Edsall poses the question:

If liberalism and conservatism have historically played a complementary role, each checking the other to constrain extremism, why are the left and right so destructively hostile to each other now, and why is the contemporary political system so polarized?

Psychprof Laura Niemi answered:

Unlike liberals, conservatives strongly endorse the binding moral values aimed at protecting groups and relationships. They judge transgressions involving personal and national betrayal, disobedience to authority, and disgusting or impure acts such as sexually or spiritually unchaste behavior, as morally relevant and wrong... [Liberals stress] caring, kindness, fairness and rights — known among scholars as “individualizing values” — while conservatives focus more on loyalty, hierarchy, deference to authority, sanctity and a higher standard of disgust, known as “binding values.”

The left supports individualism? The left goes for fairness and rights? I think that's only because you are choosing where to look and your choice is based on what you want to see. 

"But what makes her an unusual star for the high fashion industry... is the fact that Ms. Kortleve is a U.S. size 8 to 10 — or 'midsize'..."

"... as the middle ground between petite and plus size is increasingly known. 'Straight' size, or under a U.S. size 2, remains, overwhelmingly, the fashion industry norm. Plus-size models, typically those above a U.S. size 12, have become better represented in high fashion. 'Curve' models like Paloma Elsesser, Precious Lee and Ashley Graham have thriving careers. For years, however, Ms. Kortleve has been one of the only midsize models of note.... [T]he ordinary has long been rejected by high fashion, a world that loves to shock through visual extremes. Bony ribs (ideally) or ripples of undulating flesh (occasionally) on a runway or campaign shoot somehow seem preferable to highlighting a body that’s reflective of a more 'boring' middle ground...."

Midsize last size they want to show you, and it's the healthiest, most reasonable place to be. People want excitement, but whatever happened to feeling good?

Reminds me of politics: People don't want to hear from the boring middle or to feel balanced and at ease. They want extremes and extreme emotions — glee and anger. 

Or so it looks on line. Maybe in real life, people are serene and midsize or trying to get to serene/midsize.

"A study published in December estimated that gas-burning stoves are responsible for 12.7 percent of childhood asthma in the United States."

"Gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter when they are turned on.... They also release other harmful air pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer, and can even leak those chemicals when they are turned off... When it comes to gas bans, Republicans have been the loudest critics and 20 Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed laws prohibiting such bans. But in most households in those red states cook with electric stoves, not gas.... States with the highest percentage of households that use gas for cooking are controlled by Democrats and include California, Nevada, Illinois, New York and New Jersey, according to the analysis...."

From "Ban Gas Stoves? Just the Idea Gets Some in Washington Boiling. The nation’s top consumer watchdog agency raised concerns about indoor air pollution from gas stoves. A political firestorm ensued" (NYT).

Obviously, banning gas stoves is terrible politics. Republicans are opposed in principle and Democrats are the people who have gas stoves and feel deeply emotionally attached to them. This NYT article seems designed to get Biden out of a jam.

I came here from Memeorandum, which presents the headline as "No, Biden Is Not Trying to Ban Gas Stoves." Google confirms that was the original headline:


Too obvious that they're running interference, I presume.

"In many ways, you can interpret 'cope' as a political reflection of the verb 'seethe,' which was frequently deployed by the energized class of MAGA YouTubers and podcasters..."

"... to roast rank-and-file liberals who were horrified by Trump’s buffoonery and malice throughout his administration, and to celebrate their impotent anger. (This picture of a young woman screaming in agony at the 2016 inauguration became something of a stand-in for the typical seething Democrat.)... [T]o command someone to 'seethe' was part of owning the libs. But the libs themselves have slowly started to appropriate the confrontational, 4Chan-poisoned language of a post-Trump internet—we currently inhabit a country where sitting senators are sharing Dark Brandon memes...."

From "The Audacity of Cope/Laughing at other people’s politics-related sadness is fun, actually" by Luke Winkie (Slate)(click through if only for the illustration).

"[A]fter Trump lost in 2020, I spent days trawling through the most deranged MAGA forums I could find, washing myself clean with the pungent cope of my enemies. I did the same thing after the midterms, because no drug can match the rapturous high of Kari Lake dead-enders believing they can convince the government to issue a 'do-over' on the Arizona Senate race. This is how I’ve learned to process politics now: a winner-takes-all bloodsport where ownage is the only currency and coping in public is the ultimate disgrace. You might believe that to be a shallow perspective, but in a world where Congress is doomed to be stuck in eternal gridlock, where the sole achievement on the docket is a one-seat majority in the Senate, where every step forward is haunted by the shadow of Kyrsten Sinema—in that world, interpersonal vengeance, meted out at a distance, is all we can really count on."

"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.

"A study published in December estimated that gas-burning stoves are responsible for 12.7 percent of childhood asthma in the United States."

Report "Althouse"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?