Caroline Mimbs Nyce: If Twitter becomes a parable of the modern internet, what do you think the moral takeaway will be? “Don’t let billionaires buy up giant social-media websites”?
David Karpf: There is a deeply baked ideology of the internet going back to the ’90s, a sort of West Coast ideal that engineers and entrepreneurs, particularly around Silicon Valley, are the modern heroes of society. They are innovating and building a better world. They’re the good guys. The bad guys are the old industries and the regulators who get in the way.
And these innovator-inventor heroes are the ones who are paving the way to a new and better world, because they’re such incredible geniuses. But the hero has to overcome resistance, and what we should do is cheer for him because of his genius and his brilliance. And 10 years ago, Elon Musk was the archetype of that story. He was really treated as the guy who is going to kind of save the world, between his electric cars and his rockets.
There’s a lot of problems with that story. But the most basic problem is that it’s utter horseshit. And what I hope comes out of this episode is that this becomes a cautionary tale that these people aren’t genius heroes. Turns out that Elon Musk is really bad at running Twitter, because he isn’t that special.
I hope that the cautionary tale of Twitter is to stop putting your faith in the mythology of the founder geniuses, because they ain’t that special. That’s not what’s going to save the world.
Nyce: What do you think the future of Twitter is right now?
Karpf: One of the things to keep in mind is just how fast Twitter’s devolution is happening. This is, what, maybe week seven of Elon owning Twitter?
I thought that one to three months in, very little would have changed. And then he went in and trashed the place immediately in a way that has seemed surprisingly sloppy.
If this had been spread out over the course of a year, then people would have had time to migrate to competitors and figure out what’s what. And I still think that’s going to happen. But right now, we’re kind of in this moment of, like, My God, how has Twitter not fallen completely apart, both technically and also on the community level? I’m pretty sure this is actually what falling apart looks like; it’s just happening so fast that people don’t really have a place to migrate to.
Right now people are looking around, saying, “I guess I’ll start with a Mastodon account?” Competitors need more time than they’re being given, because nobody really expected him to set the place on fire as fast as he has.
Karpf (whom I follow on Twitter) always has a lot to say in ways that makes sense to me. He has been especially on-target and eloquent on why Elon Musk is not a genius now and never has been, and why it’s taken so long for everyone else to catch up that reality.
One of the greatest things to happen for women in Western democracies was the ability of women to leave marriages at will. The ability to more easily divorce men who abused them gave women a power they never had before.
It’s no secret that many Republican conservatives have long felt that the ability of women to easily divorce men is one of the greatest catastrophes to befall Western civilization.
Following the Supreme Court’s elimination of the federal right to abortion in June, conservatives have taken aim at other fundamental protections, such as same-sex marriage and access to contraception. But some on the right are resurfacing a different, long-simmering project: stigmatizing divorce, including, in some instances, attacking no-fault divorce laws.
No-fault divorce in the U.S. was first adopted in California in 1969, and New York was the last state in the country to pass a no-fault divorce law, which it did in 2010. Although state laws differ, in general no-fault divorce means that one party can successfully dissolve a marriage without needing to first prove wrongdoing by the other partner – including adultery, abuse, or desertion.
Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance praised the idea of staying in violent marriages in remarks to high school students in southern California last September. Vance argued “all of us should be honest” about how “making it easier for people to shift spouses like they change their underwear” by leaving marriages that were “maybe even violent” had negative effects on the children, according to Vice, which first reported the comments.
Although Vance’s comments were made before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, they’ve taken on a new salience amid a conservative movement that sees formerly out-of-reach goals as newly attainable. And Vance has lots of company in right-wing media.
Reactionary YouTuber Tim Pool recently discussed no-fault divorce laws on his show, titling the clipped segment: “No-Fault Divorce Has DESTROYED Men’s Confidence In Marriage, Men Don’t Want To Get Married Anymore.” The discussion focused on how no-fault divorce laws were to blame for what the panel perceived to be a rise in prenuptial agreements, which segued into a meandering discussion lamenting divorce in general.
“The courts are heavily biased in favor of women to an insane degree, especially with children,” Pool said, parroting a cliche often espoused by so-called men’s rights activists, an anti-feminist movement that claims men are structurally disadvantaged in divorce proceedings and family court. (Although it is true that women are generally granted sole custody more frequently than men, the reasons for that are complicated and have to do with men historically having higher incomes and sexist ideas about mothers being natural caregivers.)
Crazy. They really do want to turn the tables back to the time when (to paraphrase Pat Schroeder) “men were men, women were children, and children were 14-hour-a-day chimney sweeps.”
A conservative law firm has speculated that if the so-called Respect for Marriage Act is signed into law by President Joe Biden, it could actually lead to the United States Supreme Court overturning its earlier ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
In a statement released Monday, the Liberty Counsel commented on Congress’ recently passed bill legalizing same-sex marriage, thus codifying the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.
Liberty Counsel argued that the bill’s passage “can actually create the perfect scenario to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 5-4 opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges regarding same-sex marriage.”
The conservative law firm noted that thanks to changes in the roster of the Supreme Court, the nation’s highest court is more conservative than it was in 2015.
Additionally, the group cited the 2013 case of United States v. Windsor, which ruled in part that, in general, “the states, not the federal government, have the right to regulate marriage.”
Lastly, Liberty Counsel noted that one objection to overturning Obergefell is the issue of same-sex couples who had gotten marriage licenses, and what might happen to those licenses. However, noted the group, the bill would actually secure the fate of marriage licenses.
“As a result of RFMA, when Obergefell is overturned, those who obtained licenses will be ‘grandfathered’ in and the licenses will remain valid,” explained the group.
This thinking pre-supposes that a majority of SCOTUS justices would have been at all concerned about, prior to this week’s signing of the Respect for Marriage Act, existing LGBT marriage licenses when deciding whether to overturn precedents establishing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
I seriously doubt this possibility would have given pause to any of the right-wing justices, who are likely to overturn Obergefell in any case. With at least two of the justices — Clarence Thomas and Samual Alito — being so angry and cruel that the ability to essentially negate existing same-sex marriages would have been seen as a feature and not a bug. Amy Coney Barrett might not be as angry as Alito and Thomas, but she does come from a religious cult that is so right-wing that she is likely to dogmatically see ending same-sex marriage as her religious duty, and therefore above any considerations about fairness and equality.
I don’t think we can count on Kavanaugh and Gorsuch to be anything other than the FedSoc extremists they are.
My guess is that the overturning of the constitutional right to same-sex marriage is still, and always has been, a foregone conclusion with this court. The right-wing noise machine will try to paint the Respect for Marriage law just signed by President Biden as a necessary precursor to the overturning of Obergefell. Nonsense.
If anything, the overturning of Obergefell will be the proof we need that the Respect for Marriage Act was a masterful bit of legislating by the Democrats (and a tiny handful of Republicans) on Capitol Hill.
On another topic, I am old enough to remember when, as a journalist in Boston, I used to sit in the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts state Legislature and listed to members of both parties in both houses debate that state’s gay rights bill.
Even many Democrats would pile-on with the most anti-gay right-wing arguments about pedophilia, bestiality and the like. It was awful to witness and depressing to think that even many so-called progressives were so filled with anti-gay hatred.
Even among those Democrats who supported us, there was a reticence to talk about these issues in public. They might support us when some tough votes were tallied, but don’t expect them to advocate in public on these issues.
Compare that with this week (see pic below) when you had the President, Vice-President (and their spouses), along with the leaders of the House and Senate (both Democrats), along with some openly gay elected and appointed officials and even a smattering of Republicans, on-hand with big wide smiles of the official signing ceremony of the Respect for Marriage Act.
We have come a very long way. And that, in itself, is reason to celebrate.
I know I shouldn’t eat at Chik-Fil-A, but I used to work at company where we only had a half-hour for lunch and we shared a parking lot with a Chik-Fil-A. It was the only close restaurant. On those days when I didn’t bring my lunch, I ate at Chik-Fil-A. Sue me.
The thing about political company/product boycotts is they have to be flexible. Some people live in small town where they only large supermarket within 25 miles is a Walmart. What are those people supposed to do?
When I can, I will not patronize businesses that are bad corporate citizens. But I don’t sweat it, and I don’t question other people’s choices. That would be exhausting anyway. I don’t have time for it.
Then again, there are some companies who are so awful, that I would probably go out of my way to do anything I can to deprive any of those companies in any way I can.
Much of the cardboard and paper goods strewn about our homes — the mail-order boxes and grocery store bags — are sold by a single private company, with its name, Uline, stamped on the bottom. Few Americans know that a multibillion-dollar fortune made on those ubiquitous products is now fueling election deniers and other far-right candidates across the country.
Dick and Liz Uihlein of Illinois are the largest contributors to Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who attended the Jan. 6 rally and was linked to a prominent antisemite, and have given to Jim Marchant, the Nevada Secretary of State nominee who says he opposed the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020. They are major funders to groups spreading election falsehoods, including Restoration of America, which, according to an internal document obtained by ProPublica, aims to “get on God’s side of the issues and stay there” and “punish leftists.”
Flush with profits from their shipping supply company, the Uihleins have emerged as the No. 1 federal campaign donors for Republicans ahead of the November elections, and the No. 2 donors overall behind liberal financier George Soros. The couple has spent at least $121 million on state and federal politics in the last two years alone, fighting taxes, unions, abortion rights and marijuana legalization.
I know of one friend of mine, a medium-ranking employee in purchasing/finance at a medium-large, somewhat conservative university here in the Bible Belt, who managed to convince his employer to remove Uline as a preferred vendor in their purchasing system. While his bosses were sympathetic to his political concerns, they managed to find a non-political reason to stop using Uline so that the decision would not bring any blowback onto anyone.
BTW, the 9,000-student non-public university where I work does not use Uline. They use Fastenal instead as our preferred vendor of products which track most closely with what Uline sells. Fastenal is also what the university mentioned above started using when they dropped Uline.
Two universities choosing to not use Uline is not going to bankrupt that awful company. But if enough of us, large and small, stop shopping with Uline, it could have an effect. Even if that effect is small, that’s less money that awful family has to plow into radical right-wing politics.
It’s one sentence in a 1,244-word article, but it made me pause and think deeply.
The article was a guest essay in the New York Times about the rise of Sweden’s far-right political party, which was created out of a neo-Nazi group and resembles the increasingly Trumpian Republican Party with its hatred of immigrants, journalists, and others.
The sentence: “Once one of the most economically equal countries in the world, Sweden has seen the privatization of hospitals, schools and care homes, leading to a notable rise in inequality and a sense of profound loss.”
That makes me wonder: How much has privatization contributed to soaring far-right populism, white nationalism, and fascism in the U.S.?
In Sweden, argues journalist and author Elisabeth Asbrink, high levels of political and economic inequality leaves people looking for answers to why they’re suffering and who is to blame—and far right leaders are happy to provide them.
“It was better in the good old days, [those leaders] say, and people believe them,” Asbrink writes. “Back to red cottages and apple trees, to law and order, to women being women and men being men.”
Indeed it does sound famliar.
I always argue about privatization the same way:
Let’s say you have a city’s publicly-owned water utility, the major expenses of which can be grouped into four main areas:
Water (getting and treating water)
Distribution (moving the water from the utility to customers)
Labor (wages, benefits)
Operations (all the equipment and systems needed to do the first three)
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that each of those is 1/4 of the budget.
Now let’s say that the city council sells the utility to a private company in exchange for a large lump sum payment up-front.
Now you have:
Profit Motive (including huge sums for executive salaries and money to stockholders)
You’ve only added another major expense — the profit motive — which actually now is the most important expense to its new owners, Wall Street. The previous four are now secondary considerations.
You have to take money somewhere from 1 through 4 to help pay for 5.
Who gets the shaft? Ratepayers, who end up paying much higher rates even though the Wall Street company has slashed employee benefits and pay, and started cutting corners on Distribution and Operations.
Nowhere, ever, in the history of major public utility privatization, has the public come out ahead. It hasn’t happened. You cannot point to a reliable source that says it has.
So the public, which doesn’t pay attention to the finer points of utility privatization politics, only knows its water bills are skyrocketing while the water tastes funny and the public can’t get anyone to answer the customer service lines at the water company because they’ve slashed payroll.
To the public, the water company is still the government, thereby feeding into the notion that government doesn’t work and we should throw all the bums out in favor of right-wing candidates who scream about “the swamp.”
A lawsuit seeking to block President Biden’s plan to cancel some student debt claims the policy is not only illegal but could inflict harm on borrowers in some states who would be forced to pay taxes on the forgiven amount.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on Tuesday, is the first significant legal action seeking to invalidate Biden’s policy before it takes effect.
The Pacific Legal Foundation, the conservative public interest law firm in California that is backing the lawsuit, asserts that the executive branch lacks the authority to create a new forgiveness policy and is usurping Congress’s power to make law. The suit was filed on behalf of Frank Garrison, an attorney who works for the foundation and lives in Indiana.
In its lawsuit, the foundation may have the one thing legal experts said was needed to make a legitimate case: a client with the standing to sue.
Garrison said he has been working toward having his federal student loans canceled through a program that erases the debt of public servants after 10 years of payments and service. Participants in that Public Service Loan Forgiveness program do not have to pay federal or state taxes.
However, Biden’s plan could result in borrowers in several states, including Indiana, being required to pay local tax bills, although they would not be subject to federal taxes.
Since Biden’s plan would take effect before Garrison’s debt is forgiven through the public service program, Garrison said he expects to pay more than $1,000 in state income taxes for the $20,000 of forgiven debt that he would be eligible for.
But what you will not learn from either story is that the Pacific Legal Foundation receives extensive funding from right-wing billionaires. And this “public interest law firm” has a record of filing lawsuits that advance its donors’ economic and ideological interests.
Among the PLF”s major donors are entities controlled by right-wing billionaire Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries. A Popular Information review of tax filings from 2019 and 2020, the latest available, found that the Charles Koch Foundation and the Charles Koch Institute donated $2,331,550 to PLF in those two years.
In 2021, PLF filed suit “to strike down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium, which [was] designed to protect millions of Americans from being thrown out of their homes during the pandemic.” From the outset of the pandemic, Koch Industries began “plowing money into real estate.” The Wall Street Journal reported in March 2021 that Koch “is emerging as a major real-estate investor during the pandemic, using its robust cash reserves to buy properties at beaten-down prices.” The Guardian noted that Koch Industries, “real estate spending spree has coincided with Koch-funded conservative groups mounting lawsuits against the federal eviction ban.”
In this case, PLF’s suit to block student loan forgiveness aligns with Koch’s economic and political interests. Economically, the less money that the government collects from people making under $125,000, the more it may ultimately require from billionaires (like Charles Koch) and profitable corporations (like Koch Industries). Politically, people who attend college tend to be more liberal than the general population. Providing meaningful student loan relief could increase their participation in future elections, potentially damaging the Republican candidates that Koch favors and spends millions to support.
This lawsuit is part of a larger effort in the right-wing universe to stoke resentment among some Americans against other Americans around student loan forgiveness. Because the more time the rest of us spend fighting with one another over our shrinking piece of the economic pie, the less time we can spend concentrating our energies on billionaires and trillionaires who steal from the rest of us so they can have yachts so large the ships have their own helipads and interior spaces to park their smaller yachts within their megayachts.
The election of the first woman prime minister in a country always represents a break with the past, and that is certainly a good thing,” Hillary Clinton said to an Italian journalist at the Venice International Film Festival earlier this month. She was speaking of Giorgia Meloni, a member of the Chamber of Deputies, who could make history if the Brothers of Italy party does as well as expected in Sunday’s elections.
That would be one sort of break with the past. But Meloni would also represent continuity with Italy’s darkest episode: the interwar dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. As Clinton would surely concede, this is not such a good thing.
If Meloni comes to power at the end of this month, it will be as head of a coalition whose other members—Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia—were each once the main force on Italy’s populist right. Brothers of Italy, which was polling at 23 percent earlier this month, has overtaken these more established parties and would represent the bloc’s largest component.
Brothers of Italy, which Meloni has led since 2014, has an underlying and sinister familiarity. The party formed a decade ago to carry forth the spirit and legacy of the extreme right in Italy, which dates back to the Italian Social Movement (MSI), the party that formed in place of the National Fascist Party, which was banned after World War II. Now, just weeks before the 100th anniversary of the March on Rome—the October 1922 event that put Mussolini in power—Italy may have a former MSI activist for its prime minister and a government rooted in fascism. In the words of Ignazio La Russa, Meloni’s predecessor as the head of the Brothers of Italy: “We are all heirs of Il Duce.”
Putting Sec’y Clinton’s tone deaf assessment aside, this move to the right is happening in places on the continent that we might never thought could happen given what happened during World War II.
Italy’s not the biggest shock of them, at least from my personal experience. I have two close friends from Italy who now live in the U.S.
Both of these men are educated and progressive. But, in late-night meandering conversations with them — after a few strong drinks — the tenor of their politics changes from progressive to vaguely fascist, especially when the subject of immigrants is broached.
These shifts are happening as Europe enters another precarious moment: a war on the continent that is increasingly unpredictable, and an inflation and energy crisis that will deepen as winter approaches.
The politics of Sweden, in northern Europe, and Italy, in the south, are very different, and the historical origins and reasons for the far right’s recent successes in each of those countries are unique. But, the far right shares certain trends across Europe — and, really, the globe. What is happening in Sweden, and Italy, is not all that different from what is happening in Brazil, or India, or the United States of America.
Pietro Castelli Gattinara, associate professor of political communication at Université Libre de Bruxelles and Marie Curie Fellow at Sciences Po, said that the far right is a global movement and a global ideology, even though one of the core tenets of these parties is a kind of nativism. That translates into a rejection of migration, but also of the social and cultural changes taking place within societies. The “woke” culture wars may look different in the US or Italy, but they are a feature of the modern far-right.
“New ideas coming from abroad are considered a danger to the nation-state,” Castelli Gattinara said. “We see that quite strongly when it comes to civil rights and, in particular, gender equality.”
Her entire interview with Gattinara is instructive and worrisome.
I get the impression that most of the people I know, including well-informed progressives here in the U.S., cannot be bothered to care much about what is going on in Europe right now. They think that fascist gains are temporary blips on the political radar in well-established liberal democracies. Or they think, even if fascism gains in Europe, it will not affect us here.
Which are the exact same things everyone thought in Europe and the U.S. in the 1930s.
We fight not to get rid of fascist political movements, as they will always be there lurking beneath the surface, ready to move into any voids created by economic or social turmoil. We fight to keep them from taking over while the rest of us are looking the other way, preoccupied with seemingly more pressing concerns.
This is from a statement read to reporters by Rachael Self, a Boston immigration attorney who is now on the island representing the migrants:
They were told there was a ‘surprise present’ for them and that there would be jobs and housing waiting for them when they arrived. This was obviously a sadistic lie. Not only did those responsible for this stunt know that there was no housing and no employment awaiting the migrants, they also very intentionally chose not to call ahead to any single office authority on Martha’s Vineyard so that even the most basic needs arrangement could be made. Ensuring that no help awaiting the migrants at all was the entire point.
They were provided with a cartoonishly simple map of Martha’s Vineyard and the United States. … And instructions to change their address with USCIS [United States Customs and Immigration Service] when they relocated. This is especially troubling as anyone with even the most basic understanding of immigration proceedings knows that USCIS was not the agency with whom the migrants would have to record their addresses. And has nothing to do wtih their cases in any way. It is clear that this was an intentional attempt to ensure that the migrants were removed in absentia when they failed to change their address with the proper agency.
This was a purposeful derailment to prevent people from complying with federal immigration policies. This is problematic because the state [of Florida] should not be interfering with federal immigration policy. Before they boarded the planes, the migrants were processed by agents of the Dept. of Homeland Security who listed falsified address on the migrants’ paperwork. Agents apparently chose random homeless shelters across the country, from Washington to Florida, ot list the migrants’ addresses, even when told by the migrants that they had no address in the U.S.
According to the paperwork provided to them, the migrants are required to check-in with the ICE office closest to the fake addresses chosen for them by DHS, or be permanently removed from the United States. With some required to check-in as early as [the Monday after they arrive on the island].
That last part bears repeating and clarification.
DHS agents put on the migrants’ paperwork random names of out-of-state homeless shelters sometimes thousands of miles away from an island in Massachusetts. Thereby making it impossible for any of them to perform the required check-in at the address DHS agents listed on their paperwork, ensuring that they would be eligible to be deported for not following the laws those DHS agents made it impossible for the migrants to follow.
I’m not as shocked as some others that this was done. After all, we know that much of federal law enforcement is riddled with MAGA types who likely believe in the white supremacist “replacement theory” that immigrants are moving to America en masse with the primary purpose of replacing white Christians as the dominant population.
Once you’ve changed migrants, in the minds of racist yahoos with badges, into what essentially amounts to enemy combatants in a war against Caucasians, the fact that you’re abusing mothers with children is the least of your concerns.
But, Ron DeSantis, man. In some important ways he is far scarier than Trump.
The Orange Menace of Mar-A-Lago is a man for whom education was a wasted effort. Trump is too stupid to fully understand the implications of what he’s doing because Trump is incapable of thinking forward to consequences that do not affect him directly.
DeSantis went to Yale undergrad and Harvard Law School. He’s smart enough to realize the ominous forces he’s unleashing in this country, and he not only doesn’t care, he’s obviously thinking of new inhumane ways to appeal to the worst elements in the Republican Party.