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Goodbye to All That–Twitter Edition

My title is intended to connote that this is just another brick in the wall, so to speak. Another area of our lives we are going to have to escape from, as much as possible, for our sanity, if nothing else.

We read that now Elon Musk is back to buy Twitter, which we had thought was off, a few months ago. Apparently much of it is due to him having put himself in a financial corner with his earlier offer, though someone worth $250 billion or so is never really in a corner. But whatever the reason for him now going ahead with the deal, which is expected to close as early as Friday, it is very bad news for anyone who cares about American and world democracy.

It feels like we are reading a dystopic science fiction novel. They often start with the dystopia already being a reality, and the citizenry which hate it, trying to somehow change or overturn it. The bleakest of these books, like “1984,” offer virtually no hope; while the novels of Philip K. Dick usually offer some. For us, it seems that we are at the stage where we watch things fall apart, as in William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming.”

What it certainly seems is happening, is that some very evil forces are working together, knowingly or sometimes just inadvertently or conveniently, to take over all power. They want all the money, they want all the political power. They want control of all the media, all the methods of disseminating so-called information.

The last of these was not previously attainable; but mass media and the Computer Age have made it achievable. We saw the most horrifying manifestation of this in the 2016 election, where the fascist network known as Fox, and then other less overtly fascist, but still stupid and duped and spiteful networks and newspapers, combined to create a fantasy political narrative where Hillary Clinton was a shady and deceitful figure, and Donald Trump was an interesting person who said and did whatever he wanted, and was to be admired for it.

It was a fictional invention. A milder version of it had worked with Bush over Gore, Bush over Kerry. But here there was the added evil of a massive internet network called Facebook, relentlessly pushing down the scales, to not only favor Trump, but to run thousands of invented stories which they called “news,” which were utter propaganda and lies, intended to get people to hate Clinton and admire Trump. The effect of this was immense. I don’t know if it has ever been quantified, but I am sure that without Facebook and its cohort Cambridge Analytica, Trump would never have won.

I don’t know too much about Twitter; I have never joined it, but I have visited it a good deal during political campaigns. Why? Oh, to see if there is any good news, or to read a good thread from one of the better attorneys, on Trump’s legal jeopardy; or sometimes just to feel better that there are other people out there who are on the good side. I don’t like to join platforms; plus I know that I would want to respond to various ignorant or ridiculous comments, or criticism of me; and then I would be involved in endless arguments, and having to block or ignore people, all of that. So I eschew that morass. But I do think that Twitter has had some value.

But no longer, once Musk owns it. I have read and heard enough about Musk to determine that he is a person who may be some kind of inventive genius, but is dreadfully and dangerously ignorant about the things I think are important, such as political history and perspective. Musk, like others of his oligarchical friends, is an absolute egomaniac, who thinks he knows things that he has no idea about. But he has his billions to protect him, and of course he can just pound away, and censor or mock or ban those who dare to question him.

It is pretty much projected that when Musk takes over Twitter, he will reinstate Trump, along with others whom Jack Dorsey, the former owner, and his aides, had semi-permanently banned. These include people who fomented violence, agitated for revolution, expressed hateful anti-semitic and racist views.

Harbor no illusions, Musk Twitter will be a miasma of hate, with Trump once again having a forum to spew his insanity, threats and calls for armed insurrection. And Musk will participate, because he is completely full of himself, and believes he is a great thinker. He pretends that he is a moderate, but in opinion and actions, he shows himself to be a totalitarian. He had said that Twitter had a strong left-wing bias, which is nonsense. He said that Trump being banned was very unfair.

The people who pushed Musk to want to take over Twitter, are people on the very Far Right, perhaps even farther Right than that. The second biggest investor on Twitter, at two billion dollars, is a Saudi prince. It should be clear that there is a consortium of world figures and oligarchs, which includes Trump, Bannon, Murdochs and Fox News, Peter Thiel, Putin and the Russian oligarchs, MBS and other Saudi princes, Xi in China, Un in North Korea, Orban in Hungary, now Meloni in Italy, Le Pen in France, and others, who work together. Maybe at some point, some would be eliminated by the others, but right now, they share common interests and agendas.

Elon Musk is more likely a useful very rich idiot for these others. He gets the glory and ego massage of getting on his Twitter each day, and writing inane comments which he thinks are brilliant. He gets to interact with them, have a seat at their tables. Trump will praise Musk, and Musk will praise Trump. They will mock and scorn and threaten what they call “the Left.”

And the overall effect will be so dangerous, as even more control of “information” will be in the hands of the totalitarians. How does anything break through? Eventually, it could be like “1984,” with telescreens required to be in everyone’s homes; ceaseless propaganda, totalitarian enforcement; and maybe one very small and hounded “Underground,” which it is likely that the totalitarians could easily get rid of, except that it helps to rile up their supporters against this “enemy.”

I heard Ben Collins, who studies the rise of the Far Right terrorist groups, and he said that there are many ways that Musk could influence Twitter, that many would not realize. Firing people; changing the algorithms, banning people, all sorts of things. And Musk is of the nature to do that. He hates being criticized, he hates any aspersion that he is wrong. He has to tell everyone how brilliant he is, and how he understands things in a way that they cannot. He tells our government to let Russia annex the four Ukraine provinces. He has opinions about everything; and in the narcissist megalomaniac’s dream, he has the ability to get people to listen to everything he says. Just like Trump.

So what to do about it? We can’t stop Musk from taking over Twitter. .Just in time for the elections, just like OPEC today announced that they would be cutting their oil supply by two million barrels a day, starting in November. You don’t think that all these people and groups work together? When Hillary said “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and was mocked by the media people who were part of it, she wasn’t telling us a tenth of what was going on. As they get even more of all the money in the world, there is almost no way to combat them.

In past decades, we could still beat the plutocrats, because there were many small-time newspapers owned or written by liberals, and the average folks in the small towns were not inundated with broadcast and internet propaganda, because there was none yet. Now, with the taking over of the small papers, and the control of the broadcast media and the internet, it is far more difficult to beat them

My personal recourse would be to abandon Twitter. I am not a member, so it would just mean not visiting it. Would that do any good? Not in any collective sense. Musk doesn’t need the money, he could use Twitter as a “loss leader” or even a way to make money in other ventures. It would be nice if tens of millions of people left Twitter, but again, there would be enough people who would not realize what was going on there, or would think that they could escape from being propagandized, to turn many of them into MAGA followers.

Ideally, some very rich people would start a new social media platform which was fair-minded, and was not dominated by the Far Right. But are there any such people on the liberal side, with that kind of money, and the interest to do it? It doesn’t seem so, but one can hope. It could be a place where good journalists could write their stories and comments, and the people would learn important things which were not pure propaganda. I don’t expect to be seeing a viable one, though.

I would somewhat miss Twitter, at least the few feeds of admirable journalists or political analysts. But it is not worth the cost, when I know that such feeds can be censored by Musk’s people, or even shut down. He is a totalitarian, do not mistake that. So I may well have to skip all of it. That won’t bother them, not even if ten million other people do it. They are after those millions which they can use as their audience. Absenting yourself from something is not the way to defeat it. So is there some way try to defeat these forces, while not being forced to participate in or experience the reality they try to immerse everyone in?

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16 Responses

  1. I can’t decide whether Elon is bipolar or just a 13 year-old trapped in a 50-something body.

  2. Lately I have been reading Lyle Denniston’s blog. It was recommended on another site I frequent, as being legal analysis that a non-lawyer can easily follow. I try to read Marcy Wheeler, but I end up in the weeds too often. I find Denison’s posts (though way fewer than Wheeler’s) to be very understandable. Have you read him William?

    • jmac. no, and thank you for the recommendation. I had recently started reading MuellerSheWrote, Allison Gill. And Andrew Weissman is brilliant, and I have read Barbara McQuade, and Harry LItman, Joyce Vance, you already know those .Dahlia Lithwick is also brilliant, but she understandably is rather depressing in her opinion pieces. I will try Lyle Denniston. I bet that you and other non-lawyers understand the essence of the Trump matters better than you might think. As to constitutional issues, those are more difficult; but then, the majority of the Supreme Court just ignores all the precedent and logic, anyway, they start with the result they want and make up things to get there.

  3. Thank you for the recommendations, jmac and William.

    One person I follow for legal analysis is Norm Eisen. The ‘States United Democracy Center’, which Eisen cofounded, has timely Fact Sheets and Reports on law and politics on its website.

    • Go to the ‘Resources’ section of the website for the Fact Sheets and Reports.

    • Beata, yes, he is always solid and caring in analysis.

      BTW, thank you for noting the favorable Georgia Senate poll, we need more of those. Wisconsin looks lost, which is the cost of people pushing for a candidate who cannot win a general election, even against a Russian asset, and now bringing down the governor’s chances as well, Will they ever learn?

  4. Mandela Barnes recently raised over $20 million for his campaign. He can use that for more ad buys. Barnes needs to hammer Ron Johnson over Johnson’s plans to destroy Social Security and Medicare (there are a lot of seniors in Wisconsin), as well as Johnson’s extreme antiabortion views.

    Their first debate will be tomorrow (Friday).

  5. New Mandela Barnes ad: A retired LPN from Oshkosh (Ron Johnson’s Wisconsin hometown) talks about the threat to Social Security and Medicare. The message is good but it needs to be delivered more powerfully, IMO. There is a tendency to go too ‘Midwestern Nice’.

    • My version of the ad (with appropriate visuals):

      “Ron Johnson is working hard in Washington. He’s trying to take an axe to your Social Security and Medicare. He wants to put the hard earned money you paid into these programs through a Washington wood chipper. But we aren’t going to let Ron Johnson do that, are we? No, we’re going to vote for Mandela Barnes and save Social Security and Medicare from the chopping block. This election, tell Ron Johnson to take his axe and his wood chipper and go home.”

      Have William Macy do the voiceover. (I know Fargo is in ND, not WI, but they are both the Upper Midwest, so it would be effective.)

  6. Yours would be good. Democrats need to convince voters that it is very dangerous if the Republican wins. I would keep making ads about abortion, and the safety net, both of which are in great peril.

    Inflation is transitory. Today we saw a positive jobs report, but most of the media wanted to point out that a tight employment market will lead to Powell raising interest rates higher, which of course is why the stock market went down, and then they speculated that the Fed raising rates might lead to a recession. So good news for Biden becomes bad news for Biden. If unemployment had gone up instead of down, that would also have been a negative as well, of course. Actually, someone being able to earn 3% on a CD of, say. $100,000, instead of the literal .2% it was at most banks last year, is a difference of $2,800 in a year, which would mute much of the inflation.

    • Wow, do lots of people have a CD of, say, $100,000?

      How do I work this? Where is that large automobile?

      • It was just a round number for an example. The concept was supposed to be that people worked hard, then retired, had some savings in the bank, then were hopefully able to live on the interest from the savings, plus Social Security. At rates of less than 1%, which Trump kept lobbying Powell for, the earnings are minimal. And now Republicans are making it clear that if they take over the House, they will once again refuse to raise the debt ceiling, unless Democrats agree to cut Social Security and Medicare. And people do not understand this, or actually want it? People paid into Social Security for decades, then want to give up that money, just to “own the libs?” Best guess is that they don’t understand it, and if it happens, they will say, “How can they do this? Both parties are to blame.”

  7. $100,000 is quite a large round number for an example.

    I guess some people don’t understand that you can work very hard all your life and not have any savings at all by ‘retirement age’ because it is difficult to even survive paycheck to paycheck in our society toiling away at low paying jobs. Maybe raising the minimum wage would be a good idea. Eight Democrats voted against raising it the last time it came up for a vote in the Senate.

  8. #TulsiGabbardChallenge

    After much careful, even painful, consideration, I am resigning from the Fellowship of the Ring.

    It’s too woke–four different races, five if you count Wizards!

    Also, Lord Sauron only wants back the territory which used to be his back in the Second Age; we should not provoke him into a war, which would only benefit the (((Elves)))!

    The (((Elves))) want to install their stooge Aragorn as High King–with an (((Elf))) wife yet, to control his mind and maintain the secret rule of (((Elves))) over Men.

    MAKE MIDDLE-EARTH GREAT AGAIN!

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