site banner

Culture War Roundup for the week of January 29, 2024

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

6
Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

@Gillitrut was asking about entryism and underhanded tactics downthread, and I thought I’d give an account of what I’d seen and maybe try to gather people’s experiences to make a compendium of recognisable tactics.

In my case, I sat on a committee that was taken over by entryists using the following process:

  1. Have a sympathetic head, and vaguely sympathetic or apolitical committee members. It’s hard to do entryism in an org that’s strongly opposed to you.
  2. Demand special representatives be added to the committee for minority groups. Specifically: female, gay, ethnic minority, disabled. The original committee was only about five people, so this gave them almost a majority by themselves and allowed them to reach quorum for minor decisions with just the representatives. Any suggestion that perhaps one representative might be enough was met with tears and fury.
  3. Manipulate procedure. Turns out that there was no actual definition of ‘minor decision’. It had originally been meant so that you didn’t need to convene the whole committee to buy more coffee, but it now meant making political statements on behalf of the organisation, renting busses for protests, and organising mandatory consent workshops.
  4. Bully and outlast the opposition. There’s a classic trick which is that you come up with a few really boring items and get them put on the agenda before the spicy stuff. Then you make sure to keep the discussions going until the meeting overruns. Sooner or later normie members, even if they don’t like your proposal much, give up and go home. This gives you the majority you need, but importantly it also lets you unload both barrels into the remaining opposition, who is now significantly outnumbered. The goal is to make the experience as unpleasant as possible for them so that they dread coming to meetings and start leaving with the normies.
  5. Consolidate. By now the entryists basically have the committee to themselves, and can start using it in earnest. Things like giving the minority representatives the right to review and veto future events in the organisation, or funnelling money to pet projects owned and run by committee members. By this point quite a lot of people are feeling uneasy but learned helplessness is fully in play - it’s very difficult to convince people to join you in fights that they don’t believe you can win, and by now everyone is used to shrugging their shoulders and trying to get on with things. They also don’t apply for committee openings when they join up. The committee has become permanently hard-left.

What tactics have people seen used, and what counter-tactics?

Fani Willis is the Fulton County District Attorney. Her office, led by Nathan Wade, is prosecuting Trump and many others under Georgia RICO for election interference. Normally we would expect Trump to claim someone in the court had an improper relationship, but this time it was his co-defendant Michael Roman who claimed that Willis appointed Wade because of their romantic relationship and profited from it.

There had been calls for her to step aside to avoid the possibility of being disqualified, which would greatly delay the trial. She had already been disqualified for her handling of Burt Jones, where she fund-raised for his opponent.

Willis is not stepping aside, but she has now admitted to a personal relationship with Wade. About the facts in the case, Willis has at least two defenses. First, Wade may have paid for some of their vacations, but Willis paid for at least one $700 plane ticket for Wade. Second, Wade claims the personal relationship did not start until 2022.

The press, while stressing that these problems don't invalidate the facts of the case against Trump, has not been kind to Willis. This case has already been going for a long time, and seems unlikely to even start before the election:

  • In October 2021: Wade agrees to be special prosecutor.
  • November 1st, 2021: Wade is sworn in.
  • November 2nd, 2021: Wade files for divorce.
  • November 3rd, 2021: Wade begins work, charging 8 hours.
  • November 5th, 2021: Wade continues, charging 24 hours.
  • August 14th, 2023: Trump and 18 others are indicted.
  • January 8th, 2024: Roman files motion to dismiss.
  • January 30th, 2024: Wade reaches agreement in divorce to avoid testifying about Willis.
  • February 2nd, 2024: Willis and Wade publicly admit to their relationship.

It's a soap opera, best way to approach it is like that. That the guy was dumb enough to (1) file for divorce literally the day after he got appointed to the Big Job as Trump prosecutor by his sugar momma and (2) tried to hide his assets from his missus, who not unnaturally was mad as hell and ripped open the laundry bag full of dirty linen in public is surprising (for a lawyer) but not astounding.

What's that about glasshouses and throwing stones, Ms. DA?

I don't think I understand the central claim here.

So potentially Wade maybe got their job by sleeping with someone. Ok.

Does that make them unfairly biased against Trump and unable to try the case fairly, for some reason? Am I missing something tying these facts to the Trump case specifically?

Or is this just a purely ad hominem, this person is bad on an unrelated topic so ignore their judgement here' thing?

So potentially Wade maybe got their job by sleeping with someone. Ok.

Does that make them unfairly biased against Trump and unable to try the case fairly, for some reason?

Is there a reason why you're referring to Wade with "they" pronouns? We're talking about a specific man.

Anyways. The claim is that in the course of the investigation into Trump, Fani Willis misused the powers of her office for personal gain. I don't know how Georgia law treats this scenario, but this kind of thing can get a person sent to prison in many jurisdictions if true. At the minimum, I'll be surprised if the case doesn't get taken off her, and whoever ends up with it may decide to take a very different approach (e.g. going for a more simple and limited case over false court statements rather than a big RICO case with over a dozen defendants).

The below may be dated (my understand of this doesn’t really include the latest week)

  1. Wade isn’t a criminal law expert nor is he a staff attorney. The city is paying him as an “expert” to help with this case.

  2. Fani therefore is using the Trump case to funnel a lot of state money to her new boyfriend who in turn has taken Fani on lavish vacations. Fani has claimed without evidence she reimbursed Wade for these expenses.

Putting those together Fani is arguably using the Trump case to funnel state money to her new beau and herself.

If the DA is using public funds to pay an inflated salary to her boyfriend who is prosecuting a defendant, and the boyfriend is spending that money on gifts and vacations with the DA, then the DA has a pecuniary interest in the prosecution and directly profits from it. That's essentially the conflict claim here.

Ok, makes sense, ty.

How to buy/sell access to true information when adversaries and third parties benefit from your deprivation thereof?

Imagine a hypothetical future where the contextualized value of every entity, as determined by a benign and almighty super intelligence, is incorruptibly beamed right above it as you look at it. Say you're at a major life juncture and need advice; you can trust that 9.9/10 godly friend with your life. If he tells you to jump off a bridge, he must know something you don't about the afterlife, or something grand is waiting for you in the river below. Or you stand at a literal fork in the road, and you see to your left a 1.3/10 who looks nasty and is shouting insults at passersby, and to your right a 1.2/10 who is beautiful and sending you coquettish smiles--well, better endure the olfactory and verbal abuse lest you get shanked in the back.

If resources remain scarce relative to wants in this future, the good news is we can eliminate much waste. No longer do businesses need to throw away 25% of margins on sales and marketing; consumers just pull up a list of products on sale and pick the one with the highest contextualized number for themselves. Applying to a company or joining a gym? Sure, narrow down the field given your personal preferences, but no need to worry that you'll join a sinking ship or get ripped off. Everything is perfectly priced--that 9.5 dentist charges a premium to patients who can trust the root canal isn't superfluous, while the 3.0 pays 5x in malpractice insurance and treats clients who can't or don't care to pay for more. The 1.7s lose their licenses and maybe get sent to jail. When it comes to dating or finding friends, if you happen to be a 7, no need to waste time on 9s or 5s; the market is perfectly efficient because the information is perfect, so walk up to other 7s and assess compatibility while knowing you are certainly worthy of each other--if there is a spark.

If you think this life is too boring, the benign almighty gives you the temporary or permanent option to disable the floating numbers, and you go back to a life of adventure. Maybe there is a community somewhere that only allows in those who opt out of this feature.

I'm sure a good writer can make the above into a horrible dystopia. Until then, I'd pay big bucks to subscribe to download this killer app on the Neuralink or Apple Vision Pro app store.

…because it seems to me that true information is more expensive to acquire than ever.

This isn't about waging the culture war, but I'm afraid I'm stuck in it even if I just want to escape it. At the risk of preaching to the choir, on matters of "the truth," I trust ChatGPT a little less with every update; Google has been largely useless for years; Amazon reviews are shockingly useless; Youtube shows no dislikes, Reddit still helps for many niche questions but is working overtime to enshittify itself ahead of the IPO and beyond. I'm sure everyone here has consciously or unconsciously picked up "tricks" to make sense past the deafening noise; a few of mine are:

  • When ordering food delivery, ignore the stellar reviews on Grubhub/Doordash/Ubereats and instead check the more critical Yelp reviews; oh, and be on the watch out for all the ghost kitchens brands that aren't adequately disclosed by the platforms
  • When reading news and opinion pieces, depending on the publication, check the reader comments for a possible counterbalance (to the extent that hasn't been censored)
  • When a major event happens and experts start opining, look up stock prices and prediction/superforecasting markets to see just how big of a deal it actually is

The narrative is pervasive, and maybe universal. Pictures and videos everywhere, from brochures and web landing pages to movies and TV commercials, all give me a very different impression of the demographic composition of western society and economy. Of course I know that, and can try to mentally reverse the skewed weights behind the scenes. But this adjustment is imperfect: every now and then I'm shocked to realize just how many incredibly attractive people there are in real life--you wouldn't know from all the clothing and makeup ads that once showed the world beauty standards that roughly aligned with your lying eyes.

The problem worsens greatly when you deal in unintuitive or complex information. Scott's recent post on whether schizophrenia should be described as genetic is one example. Excerpt:

Still, if you look at the resources on how to avoid schizophrenia, the ones doctors are supposed to give people from high-risk families when they’re considering having kids, they never mention polygenic screening. It’s all just “don’t do drugs” and “avoid getting socially defeated”.

	

It’s even worse than that, because people keep trying to sabotage polygenic screening! The psychiatric genetics teams are trying to prevent screening companies from using their data! Sometimes it’s because this completely voluntary process vaguely reminds of them of eugenics. Other times it’s because they somehow try to pretend the amount of variance involved doesn’t matter or isn’t worth it, even though it’s a million times more than the drug abuse and social defeat issues people constantly obsess over. But other times it’s even weirder - a bioethicist in this article and a geneticist in this one both say variants of “health care should be about treating schizophrenia, not preventing it”.

And so all of us--well, maybe except for a minority of brilliant minds active here and in other rationalist spaces--are fooled into confusion, frustration, and a learned helplessness. Do you know of a young woman who insists she would never cross the street any differently if the person coming to you in the distance were of a particular sex, race, or age? Have you ever met someone who genuinely believes pit bulls are no more dangerous than any other breeds if given their love? What do you do if you happen to be parent of a young child who learns from her teachers, doctor, and the APA that her feelings of wanting to be a boy must be affirmed or she'd probably kill herself?

I don't see any of this changing because structurally, special interest groups benefit from your broad ignorance. Information is power, right? So I'm more powerful if I can keep it from you.

I'm too weak to dwell much on the mass suffering attendant to systemic bad information, and frankly, I think most people are doomed because they lack some combination of ability, time, and interest to try to make better sense of a too complex world.

What I want to know is, how do you stay cleareyed when the entire system seeks to turn off the lights at every step?

I can see three paths forward:

  1. Pray for the advent of an open-source equivalent to GPT-7 or a jailbroken AGI personal assistant with no censorship, RLHF, or other biased training background.
  2. Pray to reincarnate to be born into a large and prosperous family, or make a great many high quality friends so they can privately teach you all the unspoken secret truths of how the world works.
  3. Expend an enormous amount of time researching individual issues as they come up. Try to get slightly more proficient over time with process, and gain leverage through trusted sources and tools (until they can no longer be trusted).

Before #1 is possible, for those unlucky to go with #2 and are unwilling or unable to indulge #3, what else is there?

Facilely, some kind of near-anonymous and semi-private digital community/wiki might do the trick. But you'll need safeguards and complex features, like reputation scores, membership vetting, dispute resolution, witch-culling, and maybe even a judiciary to handle defectors and saboteurs. I don't see this taking off commercially.

Can we solve this with good old free market capitalism?

I certainly wouldn't turn down the advice of a benevolent weakly-godlike ASI, but I would much prefer to become one myself.

I wish to not need GPT-Ω at all, but to be able to understand the world better myself.

Now, I don't think reliance on such an entity would be anywhere near as bad as Scott's story about The Whispering Earrings, especially since I would expect that if it truly meets my criteria for benevolence wouldn't let me become little more than a puppet following strictly optimal decisions. I wish to make those myself.

Do you see what the common thread is, in all the problems you've mentioned?

It's a lack of intelligence. While not a panacea, it is as close to an unalloyed good as it gets. Someone with an IQ >120 will do a much better job trying to parse the world on their own terms than a true midwit who is probably better served by accepting the wisdom of authority figures diffused through noisy channels. Thinking for yourself is powerful. It is also dangerous.

There is no human alive, nor did one ever exist, who possessed the level of intelligence needed to grokk the entire world from first principles. Even geniuses need tutors, but their genius lets them learn the lessons well, and more importantly, know how trustworthy the tutor is.

And so all of us--well, maybe except for a minority of brilliant minds active here and in other rationalist spaces--are fooled into confusion, frustration, and a learned helplessness. Do you know of a young woman who insists she would never cross the street any differently if the person coming to you in the distance were of a particular sex, race, or age? Have you ever met someone who genuinely believes pit bulls are no more dangerous than any other breeds if given their love? What do you do if you happen to be parent of a young child who learns from her teachers, doctor, and the APA that her feelings of wanting to be a boy must be affirmed or she'd probably kill herself?

An underappreciated, if distasteful to my libertarian sensibilities, is how well the modern world has built guard-rails around people managing to do grievous harm to themselves from their stupidity. For most of history, you could make the best decisions you could, strive earnestly and intelligently, and yet starve to death during a famine, or have a barbarian deprive you of your head.

In contrast, the stupid/luxurg beliefs here are, in absolute magnitude, practically harmless to those who hold them:

The /r/aww Redditor gushing over velvet hippos will almost never have a nanny-dog maul them and theirs. Even the levels of criminality and destruction of the commons that bleeding heart tolerance for a criminal underclass stewing the commons with needles only reduces QOL to a degree far above what most of the 97 or so billion anatomically modern humans have tolerated. Vegans may suffer nutritional deficiencies, they are not likely to starve because the shaman demanded they ritually sacrifice their last goat to call back the rain.

People are insulated from the worst consequences of their stupidity. This is both a triumph and a tragedy of modernity, but the former outweighs the latter by orders of magnitudes. The strong, intelligent and self-sufficient are more enabled by the stability of modern society to make the most of their gifts than we lose from the average person being deeply stupid.

Expend an enormous amount of time researching individual issues as they come up. Try to get slightly more proficient over time with process, and gain leverage through trusted sources and tools (until they can no longer be trusted).

Most things don't matter. Your opinion on land value taxes or your choice of candidate in the next election have minimal effect on your well-being. This is why explicit Rationality is more of a hobby than a guaranteed means of success, Yudkowsky framed it as the systematized art of winning, and you don't need a system to win. Of course, if their efforts to cry wolf when the great of AI was a mere pup pay off now that it possesses teeth, it will all be worth it nonetheless.

Accept that your agency is limited. That most of your opinions will not change the world. That is okay. That is true. Do not let it dissuade you from trying to be better.

Can we solve this with good old free market capitalism?

The market can remain stupid longer than you can remain solvent, but it approximates efficiency nonetheless, given enough time. We can give it a helping hand, as I endorse @faceh in thinking Prediction Markets are some of the best social technology we could ever build, if only people would get the fuck out of the way when they're being implemented.

Surprisingly, Manifold outperforms real-money prediction markets, which I wager is a combination of the Crowd being larger and thus more Wise, and because Fake Internet Points and reputation on leaderboards have enough intrinsic value to users that they can substitute cold hard cash.

Here's a fourth path. Money. If you want information better than the available sources you mention, you need either a quant or a consultant. Both of these are very expensive for a reason.

As for review systems specifically, these get gamed both by people seeking to damage a business for malicious reasons, and by the review system wanting to punish customers who dislike certain business practices. In the long run review systems seem to inevitably devolve into politics.

Can we solve this with good old free market capitalism?

Yes, if the Government would allow the proliferation of reliable prediction markets. Kalshi is making headway, but it turns out that the government doesn't like people betting on election outcomes so they're still feeling out the boundaries for what is and is not permissible to make contracts on.

One of my slightly tin-foil-hat theories is that the government does not WANT prediction markets to proliferate because that allows people to bypass the state in some subtle ways, and making information about, e.g. legislative policy outcomes and national elections legible; thereby making it harder to influence those outcomes in desired ways. There's really no other way for me to square the fact that they're allowing the proliferation of sports betting across the country but are squeamish about allowing people to bet on national election outcomes.

Me, I would pay a decent sum for a killer app that was basically an (AI-assisted?) prediction market aggregator where I could have consistent feed of the market predictions for various events that might influence my life, then I could enter queries about stuff that I need to make decisions on and get an immediate estimate on the odds of [X] occurring and recommendations for how I can hedge the risks based on my desired outcome. Bonus points if I can set alerts based on a particularly complex set of contracts that signal, e.g., that a war is breaking out or a major disaster is occurring.

Simple example: "My birthday party is scheduled for this weekend, what are the chances that it will rain or otherwise have uncomfortable weather" and then it provides an estimate and provides me with the option to buy shares that will pay out if it rains out my party.


Now, if I were building a business that was trying to make the information environment better, I would try starting up a journalism/news company whose source of revenue was based on accurately reporting on stories before anyone else. That is, the journalists should actually be good at their jobs and confirm breaking stories before the general public hears about them, then when we buy a position in a prediction market that corresponds to our story being true, and when we publish the story, we include a link to that prediction market in the broadcast so the audience can bet against us if they don't believe it.

The main effect here is that our company only profits if we are better at detecting true events before they become common knowledge, and anyone who has better information can try to beat us at our own game. And we don't have to rely on advertisers and thus we're less susceptible to being bent towards an ideological agenda.

I think it would make people more interested in watching 'the news' if they could 'play along' and bet against us if they think we screwed up a story or that they can profit by buying in early because they trust our accuracy.

This does all tend to fall victim to the Oracle problem. That is, who do you trust to be the final arbiter of truth when there's a dispute over an outcome. And THAT is where this benevolent superintelligence of yours might need to come in. I know of no way to truly eliminate counterparty risk, although Augur came close.

Can we solve this with good old free market capitalism?

For one of your problems, namely:

Google has been largely useless for years

Then I think the answer is yes. Check out Kagi. It's not perfect, but it is an improvement on Google in my opinion

There is definitely the problem (not intractable, but hard) where Google is so dominant that their name is synonymous with search and so they are everybody's default first choice, and getting everyone to switch en masse is practically impossible without some LARGE screwup by Goog itself.

Be careful about using bad Yelp reviews.

Google up "yelp review blackmail". (Unfortunately the first link I get looks barely above ChatGPT.

Rootclaim has a few analyses that diverge from what the official narrative. The Syria chemical attack, for one.

https://www.rootclaim.com/

Have you ever met someone who genuinely believes pit bulls are no more dangerous than any other breeds if given their love?

I mean, that's true. I've known pit bulls with good owners who were as gentle a dog as you could ever ask for. I've also known pit bulls with shitty owners who turned out to be a menace. But that's on the owners, not the breed. It just happens that shitty owners gravitate towards pit bulls.

  • -10

No its not true. The big strong jaw is what makes them dangerous. No amount of love will change this. Sometimes dogs that got nothing but love will snap.

It just happens that shitty owners gravitate towards pit bulls.

No the shitty owners do not just happen to gravitate towards dogs that were bred to fight other dogs.

The selective breeding was originally not for dog fighting, but for dogs that want to bite bull faces and never let go.

I wanted to write something about this, but old dickie Hanania beat me to it.

Conservatives are losing the "don't be weirdos” contest

I can’t resist commenting on how the ongoing freakout over the Kansas City Chiefs making the Super Bowl perfectly encapsulates everything that has gone wrong. Taylor Swift may have endorsed Biden in 2020, but as Max Meyer pointed out after attending one of her concerts, everything about her aesthetic and place in the culture is implicitly conservative. Her fans want to be attractive and meet men. They’re not interested in changing their sex or cheering for urban mobs looting the local supermarket. If you simply give them some semblance of normalcy, they’ll be on your side and vote in opposition to the left and what it has become. But instead of that, they get conspiracy theories about the Super Bowl being rigged so Swift can then endorse Biden.

We can understand Taylor Swift Democrats as men and women comfortable with their birth sex, eager to play the roles traditionally assigned to it, not racist but not feeling particularly guilty about the sins of their country, and who will naturally gravitate towards whichever political coalition comes across as the most normal, willing to let them go about their lives watching football or buying makeup from Sephora. People like this used to be natural conservatives, and especially given the Great Awokening, they still should today. They’re not, mostly because Republicans were able to overturn Roe and went out and created a cult of personality around perhaps the least normal politician the country has ever had.

There’s something deeply poetic about this freakout centering around football, the sport that has always served as a symbol of wholesome American normalcy. The old mantra of “the personal is political” always reflected a major electoral weakness of the left. It revealed an inability to have any thoughts or passions that aren’t part of an ideological agenda. Most people don’t care about politics all that much, and feel more positively inclined towards whichever tribe doesn’t try to make them feel guilty about that fact. If you’re watching the AFC Championship game and try to steer the conversation to which players are vaxxed, most sports fans aren’t going to want to talk to you anymore. For a while, liberals were “that guy,” and many of their activists still have this flaw, but conservatives have increasingly neutralized what should be a natural advantage for them, and the way right-wing media is covering the NFL playoffs indicates that if anything the left can now win the contest over who’s more able to just sit back and watch a football game.

As a Republican, I’m amused and horrified. One common reaction was summed up by a tweet reading simply “We don’t deserve to win.” Just, what the fuck guys? Can’t we just be the normal ones? It shouldn’t be hard by comparison. But instead we’re attacking normality. We’re doing goofball shit.

Vivek, so recently a Republican candidate for President widely taken seriously, added to this genre tweeting out:

I wonder who’s going to win the Super Bowl next month. And I wonder if there’s a major presidential endorsement coming from an artificially culturally propped-up couple this fall. Just some wild speculation over here, let’s see how it ages over the next 8 months.

Such Texas Sharpshooter energy. I predict that the team that won last year’s Super Bowl will win this year’s super bowl, and that Taylor Swift will endorse the same person she endorsed in 2020 in the same race. But if the obvious happens, it’s a CONSPIRACY!

The problem is that even if you believe that Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are artificially propped up, that Taylor is the result of media coverage and that the whole NFL is WWE with end zones, saying it doesn’t actually help you capture the millions of people who are fans of them. “Media Influence” is nearly always a Russell Conjugation: other people’s tastes are the result of media bias, my tastes are pure and formed entirely individually. People will almost never change their tastes as a result of being informed that they were “influenced” by the media, they will get angry. People will easily be convinced that other people are sheeple, they will almost never be convinced that they are. “Pop singers” Swifties will react angrily to this accusation, as will Chiefs fans. Neither will react kindly to the insinuation that their favorite thing is bullshit.

I can’t go through a week without hearing about Kelce from my mother or Swift from my wife. My wife is deep into the swiftie Gaylor conspiracy universe and asks my opinion on them when we’re stoned. My mother listens to every episode of the Kelce Brothers’ podcast, and gives me the highlights. Both are wealthy married white women, who own homes and cars, who value family and capitalism. My mother is not going to be convinced that she likes Travis Kelce because of the deep state and not because he is really good at getting open and he’s funny on mic. My wife is not going to be convinced that she doesn’t really like singing along to I Can See You. It’s a losing strategy to try to convince them that it’s all fake: most people start from the emotional opinion that everything is fake, they aren’t rationally convinced. Just as most atheists turn against the church for personal reasons and then become aware of all the rational arguments and contradictions involved.

The far better strategy by DR types would be to try to unwillingly recruit Swift and Kelce. The old “Aryan Princess” meme. Make them an icon of your side, and you make them problematic. Even when the inevitable Swift endorsement comes, it will feel hollow. Swift will be put in an uncomfortable position, weakened by being forced to deny being a white supremacist. Her fans will be offended by being called racists for liking the music they like, and start to turn against those calling them racists.

Of course, this isn’t happening because I doubt that Trump is declaring “Holy War” on Swift. That’s just a little unsourced TDS tidbit the liberal media couldn’t resist. This is just various hustling influencers seizing on a big name. But if you want to be an insurgent party, discipline is key, and this isn’t it.

AND YET

I find Hanania is being very uncharitable to the right, and buying into an essentially progressive framing of the world. The captured version of the NFL that we watch every week, with “STOP RACISM” written on helmets and in the end zones, with required interviews for minority coaching candidates*, with the mildly absurd farce of wildly-celebrated female coaches in minor functionary roles buried on the staff, with every ad break featuring female athletes (and especially the hypothetical female high school football player featured over and over). Equally, I saw the Eras Tour movie with my wife, and friends of ours went to the concert. It was clear that comparing what was on camera to the crowd at the actual concerts, they went out of their way to make it seem less white than it was. Prominent romantic roles were given to Black Male dancers on stage, despite Taylor herself dating only white men historically, prominent roles were given to flamboyantly gay and trans dancers. Taylor put in the effort in advance to make it a comfortable experience for liberals.

So when Richard says:

For a while, liberals were “that guy,” and many of their activists still have this flaw, but conservatives have increasingly neutralized what should be a natural advantage for them, and the way right-wing media is covering the NFL playoffs indicates that if anything the left can now win the contest over who’s more able to just sit back and watch a football game.

He’s ignoring the context. Liberals were “that guy” for years, and they were loudly whiny, and they succeeded. The NFL and pop culture and ordinary speech changed to accommodate liberals. And it seems to be working, with ratings rebounding from 2016 downtrends. But Hanania is praising liberals for being able to watch a football game telecast that has been designed to soothe them, while blaming Conservatives for being unable to watch a telecast that has been designed to soothe their enemies. It’s a trap Conservatives have fallen into, and they should be shamed for it! But it’s also the fruit of the Long March Through the Institutions.

*The Rooney Rule originally struck me as fairly decent, fairly fair: teams must interview one minority candidate for coaching positions. No requirement to hire, but you have to interview. The results have become increasingly absurd. The Eagles had black Offensive and Defensive Coordinators who had a terrible embarrassing end to the season, but had done well before. Both got a few token Head Coach interviews, to satisfy the Rooney Rule, and as a result the Eagles did not fire them, hanging onto them for way longer than anyone believed the Eagles would bring them back. Because if you get a black coach hired away, you get a compensatory draft pick for it. It was a silly spectacle to watch.

The real question is why people think the NFL has a left-wing bias. Yeah, they have the End Hate messages and whatever, but that seems more like a sop to their predominantly black employee base in the wake of the Kaepernick scandal and 2020 protests than a serious political statement. If you look at the political leanings of the actual owners, you have:

  • Arizona Cardinals: Bidwell — Republican, but supports Sinema, so probably moderate

  • Atlanta Falcons: Arthur Blank — Democrat

  • Baltimore Ravens: Stephen Biscotti — Inconclusive, but a pretty big Catholic, for whatever that's worth

  • Buffalo Bills: Pegula — Moderate, made his money from fracking (I personally worked on the sale that raised the capital for him to buy the team)

  • Carolina Panthers: David Tepper — Republican, but pro gay rights

  • Chicago Bears: McCaskey (Halas) — Inconclusive, but George openly feuded with Trump during the national anthem controversy

  • Cincinnati Bengals: Brown — Republican

  • Cleveland Browns: Jimmy Haslam — Republican

  • Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones — Republican, Trump supporter

  • Denver Broncos: Joe Ellis — Republican

  • Detroit Lions: Ford — Democrat

  • Green Bay Packers: n/a — Inconclusive. Held by stock, but the team president leans left

  • Houston Texans: McNair — Republican

  • Indianapolis Colts: Irsay — Republican

  • Jacksonville Jaguars: Shahid Khan — probably more interested in British politics, but sided with the players during the anthem controversy

  • Kansas City Chiefs: Hunt — Republican

  • Las Vegas Raiders: Davis — Inconclusive, Mark doesn't talk about politics, but the old man seemed pretty liberal

  • Los Angeles Chargers: Dean Spanos — Republican

  • Los Angeles Rams: Kroenke — Definite Republican lean, Trump included, but also supports some Democrats

  • Miami Dolphins: Stephen M. Ross — Republican, Trump supporter

  • Minnesota Vikings: Zygi Wilf — Democrat

  • New England Patriots: Robert Kraft — Probably a Democrat, but an open Trump supporter

  • New Orleans Saints: Benson — Republican

  • New York Giants: Mara/Tisch — Democrat

  • New York Jets: Woody Johnson — Republican, Trump Diplomatic Appointee

  • Philadelphia Eagles: Lurie — Democrat

  • Pittsburgh Steelers: Rooney — Democrat, Dan was an Obama Diplomatic Appointee

  • San Francisco 49ers: DeBartolo — Inconclusive. Denise is a Democrat, but Trump pardoned Eddie. It should be noted that Eddie was forced to give his sister control of the team after he was convicted of public corruption.

  • Seattle Seahawks: Allen — Inconclusive. Paul was a Republican, but he's dead and team ownership is held in trust. Jody controls the team and she's pretty bipartisan.

  • Tampa Bay Bucs: Glazer — Moderate, Eddie's a confirmed Trump supporter.

  • Tennessee Titans: Adams — Republican

  • Washington Commanders: Josh Harris — Republican

  • Commissioner: Roger Goodell — Republican

By my final tally, there are 16 confirmed Republicans, or over half the league, plus the Commish, plus Kraft, who may not be a Republican but likes Trump. Of the remainder, I'll count 10 confirmed Democrats or left-leaners. That leaves five who are inconclusive. At best, you might be able to argue that half the league wants to fix the country's biggest sporting event to get a political endorsement that may or may not have any impact on the election. The team that would be the beneficiary of this would be at odds with the politics of the whole thing, since the Hunt family have been big Texas Republicans for a long time. On the other side, Denise DeBartolo York has donated to Democrats in Ohio. She's also from Youngstown, and the Democratic Party there is a lot more conservative than in the country at large; it's mostly Trump country these days. It also has corrupt politics, so I wouldn't put taking a dive past her if they sweetened the pot enough. Steve was already busted for political corruption (and he lost a lot of money financing the Jacksons Victory Tour in 1984 because he didn't know what he was doing). I'd say it's unlikely that there's enough motivation among ownership and the commissioner to do something like this, and there's certainly enough conservative owners that even if the league did try it you'd have quite a few screaming about it publicly.

I think the problem is that people have a tendency to think of "The NFL" as this faceless behemoth that has whatever characteristics they want it to have depending on how they're feeling that day. They don't stop to consider that this is an organization run by real people with real personalities and real opinions, and that the only thing they really agree on is that they all want to make as much money as possible. I don't see how the NFL, viewed in that light, would have any reason to fix a championship for political reasons.

Do I have to beat my usual drum again? Fine.

I find Hanania is being very uncharitable to the right, and buying into an essentially progressive framing of the world.

I agree. He's just buying into it in a deeper way than you even imagine. A terminally online way, where people arguing about niche topics supposedly disrupts normalcy and is therefore maximally uncool. But is this actually relevant? If you want maximal normalcy, should you follow Hanania's advice?

When it comes to attacks on normalcy and normal life, forget Republicans arguing about sports and Democrats arguing about Trans people. Forget that an orange man and a dementia man are competing to be president. The amount of time either matters for anyone's normal, daily routine is <1% of their life. You know what did matter for seriously disrupting normal life?

Covid restrictions.

Every other policy or political event is a rounding error for your life in comparison. And for these restrictions, Democrats consistently sided against normalcy. Whether it be demanding that people wear weird clothing, sit in weird arrangements, attend or not attend certain places at certain times with certain people etc etc, and none of it was normal. The majority of political decisions affect very few people. Arguments about drug law only affects drug users, arguments about violent crime affects only the criminals and the victims. But masks? Business closures? School closures? Vaccine mandates? Each of these is broadsiding a huge swath of the population with anti-normalcy. And a few rants about WWE or NFL or Taylor Swift is never going to be equivalent to that.

Is this MAGA/Taylor conflict even real or just a media ploy to worsen Trump's chances by creating conflicts out of nothing?

I have no doubt that there are some Trump people who really dislike Taylor and have come up with conspiracy theories. Trump supporters and conspiracy theories go together like peas in a pod. Is this specifically a significant or representative thing worthy of global coverage on its merits? It even filtered through to Australian newspapers.

There was a Simpson's episode where Bart manipulated the Principal and teachers into a strike over pay, whispering in their ear that the other side was about to crack, or telling the teachers that Skinner thought they would chicken out. After Haley got run over by the Trump train, the plotters wouldn't have gone idle, they'd have searched for some new method to attack Trump.

I suspect that the direct Trump stuff is bullshit. It's too good to be true for the worst people in the world.

But the Taylor stuff is coming organically from Fox News and Vivek and co tweeting it out. There's somebody out there who organically believes this, or thinks it's a good MAGA play for whatever reason.

While publicly obsessing about Taylor Swift is a bit nutty, actual democrat policies like releasing criminal suspects without bail, gender "trasitions" for minors and refusing to enforce the border are way crazier and have a real life impact. Hanania just wants craziness with a luxury belief flavor.

He's opposed to all of those?

I think he's talking more about how publically unhinged you are being, vs how crazy your policies are, because the former is more closely tied to public opinion, even if the latter is objectively more important.

Hanania is not opposed to lax border enforcement. He thinks Americans should embrace lax border enforcement and cultivate a servant class of Mesoamerican dwarfs similar to the domestic workers of Asia and Africa, and that failure to do so is self-sabotaging racism that stops us from living like feudal lords.

Craziness that causes real life harm is attractive because it shows strength. Conservative craziness is cringe because it's impotent and doesn't harm anybody.

I'm not too interested in this topic at all to be honest, but I think it would be hilarious if Swift just came out in a few months and said "actually, I'm endorsing Trump."

One of the things I hate about celebrity culture is how managed all of a celebrity's opinions and stances seem. There's always 'leaks' about things months ahead, or this sort of manufactured controversy that ends up being true. For once I'd like to see a big celebrity just shake things up and show some actual humanity and agency.

Then again, the type of person who would do that would probably select themselves out of super-stardom unfortunately.

Isn’t that person Kanye?

Edit Should’ve kept reading…others mentioned it and actually added context

Then again, the type of person who would do that would probably select themselves out of super-stardom unfortunately.

Tell that to Nikki Minaj.

Why do you think they just sicced Roc-Nation affiliated Meg Thee Stallion on her?

Who's Jay Z's best buddy? Democratic potentate Obama

Think about it! ( Huh, I see the appeal now. Conspiracy stuff is fun)

She endorsed Biden the last time and endorsed democrats running in Tennessee. Since Trump is likely to be the Republican candidate she's going to endorse the democrat again.

I'd want to see Taylor decide to release an artsy jazz-fusion concept double album. Think of the collaborators she could bring in! Every Jazz virtuoso living would happily work with her on an album guaranteed to go number one despite being relentlessly weird.

it would be hilarious if Swift just came out in a few months and said "actually, I'm endorsing Trump."

Or as Freddie puts it, The World Needs Taylor Swift Goblin Mode.

That kind of person exists, his name is Kanye West and it was hilarious until it started being sad as it became harder and harder to ignore that his outbursts, his inability to read social cues (to play armchair psychiatrist, I think he is likely a savant autist), were not only selecting him out of super-stardom but alienating him from friends and family.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanye_West

Kanye West openly is bipolar and been on a variety of medications. His anti-semitisn was not a result of him vile racism or careful research to uncover the truth, it was a result of ill paranoia making him believe conspiracy theories. Regardless of whether you believe the jews are the most persecuted minority in history or you're part of the Dark Enlightenment who thinks the Jews are very suspicious, it should be obvious Kanye believed what he did because of mental illness not because he's also part of the dark enlightenment.

I've found Kanye to be a good illustration of how politically captured large swathes of my field (medicine) are.

Everyone hates Kanye. A lot. Even if you point out that it's clearly mental illness. Even to psychiatrists. In fact you may end up a pariah just for reminding everyone that Kanye has mental illness and that this informs his behavior.

It makes me feel gross.

That was not his only outburst though, his first big moment in the spotlight (outside of his niche) in pop culture was the "George Bush doesn't care about black people" incident, something he probably believed outside of mental illness paranoia (it was commonly believed in liberal circles), but it was just indelicate to say in a charity marathon.

Or the "imma let you finish" incident, which had nothing to do with politics or paranoia but everything to do with misunderstanding what's appropriate.

Up until he touched the third rail his outbursts were just that of someone telling his mind the way you're not supposed to, doubly so when you have a public persona to maintain. I'm not convinced if his touching the third rail is meaningfully different except in the severity of the pushback he got.

Outbursts are one thing. Those are just lact of tack. I am saying what led him to believe Hitler made going points was the paranoia. Without mental illness, maybe he would've still said "fuck Biden" or "fuck Trump". But without mental illness, he'd have never said

“Well, I see good things about Hitler also. I love everyone, and Jewish people are not going to tell me, ‘You can love us and you can love what we’re doing to you with the contracts, and you can love what we’re pushing with the pornography.’ But this guy that invented highways and invented the very microphone I use as a musician, you can’t say out loud that this person ever did anything good and I’m done with that. I’m done with the classifications.”

That's just not something someone, especially a black musician who used to be liberal, would ever believe without mental illness.

Hanania is known for being known. Known, quoted, known more. His writing is bad and his reasoning is worse. His best piece wouldn't get an AAQC, or wouldn't deserve if it I missed his time mostly lurking here ahead of just lifting ideas from his intellectual betters--a descriptor that applies to every regular Motte commenter. That said there is a niceness to his name in this discussion because Taylor Swift is also--in a real but not total measure--popular for being popular

It's not her music. It's not bad, I don't call music bad, but I can name individual songs in her discography I like. There are artists with categorically superior lyricism and vocals and production who don't have her success. Unappreciated or especially fan-asserted "underrated" acts are the nature of music but where artists might have solid radio play, single and album sales, merch and ticket sales, it's not the music that results in an Instagram with close to 300 million followers. Swift is a saint next to Whore of Babylon Kylie Jenner who sells makeup, filters and utterly disastrous self-concern and narcissism to her 400 million followers. It's because winners win. The perception of being popular makes a thing more popular. Swift has been on the literal side of "highly newsworthy" this year, and that attention brings more attention, young people, especially women, seeing her popularity become interested if not before and/or more interested in her for that popularity. Her endorsement will produce votes, I don't think many, but any is bad. Those not at consequence for their politics should not be listened to about politics. You gotta have skin in the game or your ideas will become informed by privilege and what ought to be rather than what is.

My only skin in this game is living in Chiefs country, Missouri. I know a lot of people who I saw wearing Chiefs gear 10 years ago, 20 years ago, who were hoping for the success they now enjoy. I'm happy for them, I don't give a shit about the Chiefs but there's always a bit of a pleasant feeling with the local team winning the big game. I also know people who never said a thing about the Chiefs, not after two Super Bowl wins, not until Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift became a thing. I've seen them gleefully posting "I wouldn't care about the Chiefs otherwise but go Taylor Swift's team." Same sans Swift, I was rooting hard for Tom Brady to get his 7th when the Bucs thrashed KC in 2021.

So what I've been thinking about for the last week or two, what's missed by Hanania (no surprise) and also commenters here, is the timeline:

  1. Swift and Kelce couple; stories come out of Swift at Chiefs games

  2. The season goes on, more and more Swift at Chiefs games; Mahomes has the worst season of his career (still ending in a Super Bowl lol); some memeing about the Swift Effect

  3. At this point the only grousing I've heard from Chiefs fans is "please just let us watch football"

  4. Chiefs in the playoffs, they keep winning

  5. ~3 weeks ago stories start rolling out about Swift's presidential endorsement and how she's "Biden's best hope"

  6. I hear political grousing from some Chiefs fans / Swift, once again a political target, is attacked by twitter righties

Swift is being attacked by righties because of politicization from lefties. The animus was preexisting sure but it only emerged because of the "Swift-Biden endorsement" articles. Assuming her guaranteed endorsement of whoever's going against Trump in November, there are people who will vote, and shouldn't be allowed to, because Swift told them to. Attacking her is a reasonable move for the right, but I agree head-on is a bad angle: 4chan-style trolling I've begun to see of /pol/tard Tay is a better angle, though still maybe not the smart one.

Such Texas Sharpshooter energy. I predict that the team that won last year’s Super Bowl will win this year’s super bowl, and that Taylor Swift will endorse the same person she endorsed in 2020 in the same race. But if the obvious happens, it’s a CONSPIRACY!

Mahomes is superb and as long as he maintains form KC will compete, but football is a terrifically easy game to rig. One no-call or flag can be the game. It's exactly what happened in Super Bowl LVI. 4th quarter, under 2 minutes, 3rd & Goal, Rams down by 4. Holding: Half distance to goal, automatic 1st down. On the same play, the Rams had a false start (5 yard penalty) that went uncalled. At the critical moment a bad flag gave LA a touchdown and the Super Bowl.

Hanania is known for being known. Known, quoted, known more. His writing is bad and his reasoning is worse. His best piece wouldn't get an AAQC, or wouldn't deserve if it I missed his time mostly lurking here ahead of just lifting ideas from his intellectual betters--a descriptor that applies to every regular Motte commenter.

Pretty strongly disagree. Bryan Caplan's characterized him as maybe the greatest essayist alive. I don't know that I'd go that far, but he seems fairly consistently innovative and insightful.

Yes, he's often obnoxious, and frequently says things I disagree with. But there's a lot to be gleaned.

Meh, its a thing with football itself. A decent portion of the game clock time is spent not playing the game. Not even counting how often it is paused, or that there are long breaks like half time. Whats the camera gonna do during all that break time? Gotta do something, might as well look at the most famous people at the game. As someone who doesn't really care about football or find it super interesting, this has always been a plus for me. I can go to a party where people care about football and still interact with the people that like football for about half the time, and then be on my phone the other half the time.

I was watching the last Chiefs vs Ravens game with someone that was actively annoyed at Taylor Swift coming on screen. They are a political junkie. They work at a think thank. They've been involved with politics for many years. They could probably come up with a multitude of reasons why this is a political annoyance. Wasn't my impression though. They were eager to see the actual game, and any of the interruptions were annoying to them. There are basically only two outcomes for things between football plays: immediately ignoring the thing, or immediately hating it.

The smart ad money should ironically be on the people that don't care about the games at all.

Think about it. You have a football fanatic that is definitely going to watch the game. The TV will be on in a semi public setting. The non-football fanatics will have lost interest in the game very quickly.

The game stop (like it does every thirty seconds). The football fanatic is on the edge of their seat waiting for more action (which usually happens). Everyone else is bored on their phones. The football fanatic is denied their fix (a commercial, or a cut to some celebrity in the stands). The football fanatic exclaims in anger or frustration built up from watching the game. Everyone else is temporarily jerked out of their phones. Boom! Play the ad, get two audiences instead of just one.

One of my favorite ads in recent football memory is for Tide. A laundry detergent. They basically did an aggressive campaign of being a part of every commercial break, and tricking you into thinking it was an ad for a different product. But Tide isn't really a great product to advertise for men watching football. However, its the perfect product to advertise to wives, mothers, and girlfriends who have men watching football.

That is my pet theory for the Taylor Swift ad spots.

The smart ad money should ironically be on the people that don't care about the games at all.

You are right if course, but I'm pretty sure this philosophy is why sports broadcasting have been haemorrhaging money in recent years. Scratch that, why every form of entertainment has gone to shit in recent years. Everyone is so eager to disrupt and get that new audience that we've turned everything into focus grouped bullshit.

I enjoy video games, stand up comedy, podcasts, and youtube videos. Low barriers to entry hasn't stopped enshitification, but new entrants in the art just take over.

I don't understand, what does that mean for sports media?

You are right if course, but I'm pretty sure this philosophy is why sports broadcasting have been haemorrhaging money in recent years. Scratch that, why every form of entertainment has gone to shit in recent years.

Emphasis added by me. If you'd left it at the first sentence I would say I don't disagree or have much of an opinion (since I don't watch sports). I just disagree with the stronger claim that all entertainment has gone to shit.

I would not be surprised if sports is extra shitty, partly because they intentionally put up barriers to entry in order to squeeze every penny they can out of the broadcast rights.

What are you conservative about? Why are you a Republican?

Taylor Swift is an attractive, unmarried, childless white woman who 'puts in efforts to make a comfortable experience for liberals'. Should conservative white parents see her as a model for their daughters?

We can understand Taylor Swift Democrats as men and women comfortable with their birth sex, eager to play the roles traditionally assigned to it

The role that is currently assigned to white women is to not have any children. Many conservatives see that as a bad thing.

The role that is currently assigned to white women is to not have any children. Many conservatives see that as a bad thing.

This goes too far. I decry stigma against women with 4+ children, but having kids(probably two, possibly three but definitely not more than that) remains the cultural ideal and a handful of weirdos in the progressive coalition ranting about how white women shouldn’t have babies doesn’t actually change that.

and a handful of weirdos in the progressive coalition ranting about how white women shouldn’t have babies

That's the far end of the curve. The more important messaging is education/career uber alles or Chelsea Handler-esque "kids are a distraction from all the cool shit you could be doing (if you're a rich white lady)" (see also , for a less absurd example)

I am honestly trying to recall recent major progressive-themed media where having three kids was presented as any such cultural ideal, particularly without one of the kids being cast as a negative influence (i.e. mentally divergent / physically impaired / morally lacking).

Wouldn’t Modern Family fit this bill? I only watched the first few seasons, but unless something changed significantly, Claire and Phil are portrayed as an admirable white family with a normal family structure and three loving children who, though flawed in ways conducive to humorous sitcom hijinks, are fundamentally blessings in the lives of their parents.

Law of conservation of detail. If the kids are there, they're important to the story. Three kids probably won't be important to the story without having something wrong with one.

That might be a narrative reason in isolation, in the same way that the 5-man-ban trope really tends to support 2-siblings (so that 3 outsiders can be added), but that also doesn't really change that it's not terribly hard to find counter-examples in American media of sibling-ensemble casts. Swiss Family Robinson, Little House on the Prairie, Bradey Bunch, the Cosby Show, Boxcar Children. If you're willing to go animated, the Incredibles, Brave, Brother Bear, the Aristocats, Peter Pan, or the Simpsons. Even Disney's Coco and Encanto- which I'd consider far more 'conservative' than 'progressive' in theme- carry on with large families, albeit maybe in an ethnic stereotype fashion.

Not having families of 3 or more is a narrative choice, not a narrative constraint.

I know nothing about gridiron football or Taylor Swift but it seems obvious that it was an ad. I can point to the fact that during the entire NFL season the entertainment news site Deadline (which doesn't do celebrity gossip) ran a weekly story basically about Taylor Swift sitting in the stands during the games. It had the same vibe as these SNL ad stories they do every weekend where they basically describe the opening monologue from SNL and two sketches as if they need to be covered and are part of the zeitgeist but it's just another crappy sketch from a show that hasn't been relevant in years. I mean it's likely a circle of different media companies (Taylor, NFL, entertainment media) feeding and trying to broaden all their fanbases. Like a car commercial inserted into a TV show that's handled clumsily. Even people that don't realize it's a commercial can recognize that something is inauthentic about it. Maybe there's nothing intentional on either Taylor (probably impossible to tell) or the NFL (I haven't seen any of the broadcasts with her) about this but the entertainment media is absolutely using this, stoking it, and reveling in it when it might not even exist as a thing if they didn't.

My thought was, at first, that it must be a huge spectacle style distraction for them to run a news story about it. But the consistency of the articles and lack of any substance made it obvious it was an ad. The complaints make sense to me "Why do you care they're cutting to Taylor three times a game?" Because it's an ad and ads are annoying. Ads recently have an ideological bent which makes conservatives especially wary of them. Conservatives, to some extent rightly, see weird astroturfed media shit all the time dedicated to hating/destroying them because the media is mostly their enemy. The fact that they decide to create a conspiracy because the astroturfed weirdness of this is obvious and they're just making the mistake of thinking that this is political because most of the weird astroturfed stuff from the NFL in the past years has been political is understandable. And the fact that conspiratorial complaints get platformed to discredit real complaints is just business as usual for the media.

This is probably a large part of it. The NFL has for a long time been trying to appeal more to women. Taylor Swift fans are mostly women. Thus, more Taylor Swift = more interest for the women in the audience. Of course, that doesn't excuse this from being part of the Culture War. Why is the NFL, whose audiences were long a bastion of couch-locked junk-food-eating cheap-beer-swilling men, concentrating on attracting women? The innocent explanation is they are (or were, when this started) an untapped audience. But that doesn't really hold up; neglecting your core audience to attract a new one when your core is that big and that dedicated doesn't really make sense. You don't see soap operas adding car chases to get men interested! So I think there's quite a bit of "women are a more acceptable audience" mixed in.

How does it neglect the core audience?

It's usually an active rejection rather than neglect. "Expanding the audience" is just what they say to the moneymen. In practice, it's always about rejecting an audience who don't deserve to have nice things. I used to be more charitable about this, but fool me once and twice and all that.

It doesn't. Until it does. See: Marvel and Star Wars for increasingly bad pandering and weaponization of victimhood against the toxically masculine audience when the old audience complains.

Of course, sports doesn't need writing so it may not lead to any difference in this case.

But I get why people in the culture war are suspicious.

I think honestly it’s impossible not to see politics everywhere simply because conservatives have had a very long lesson in politics entering even things that had long been fairly apolitical. They cannot essentially participate in mainstream life without politics and specifically liberal politics being brought into the mix. And so now after nearly 8 years of politics invading every cultural touchstone, it seems a bit unfair to expect conservatives to try to play “cool” as liberals are coming after one of the few remaining mainstream entertainment outlets that they didn’t have to watch with their guard up.

because conservatives have had a very long lesson in politics entering even things that had long been fairly apolitical.

The knee-jerk rejoinder would usually be 'they were always political, the politics was just made explicit', but obviously it depends what you're talking about and how you define politics.

Again depending on the context, probably relating to the concept of 'white man as default', you know, 'it wasn't political when everyone looked and acted like me, it's political now that other people are being represented too.' That whole cultural dialogue is sort of an awful slog unfortunately, but it's the natural response to your perspective here.

This came up in the Bud Light thing too.

I get why liberals would pull the whole "what's it to you? It's just the thin end of the wedge!" . It has clearly been incredibly successful.

I'm always surprised that nonliberals who've seen liberals attempt to infect everything - decolonizing bird watching! also seem to share the same sentiment.

There is a reason people are on a hair trigger.

I’m surprised it took so long for conservatives to grow a spine on the issue. I wouldn’t consider myself super conservative. I’m egalitarian more or less, and I think that some of the culture war issues are overblown. But I can absolutely understand why conservatives, especially conservative parents are so unwilling to put up with the encroachment. It seems more or less that liberals are unwilling to allow anything mainstream to exist in an apolitical way. And this comes a problem precisely because it end up being a no quarter situation. A person wanting to raise their kids in a traditional manner has to be hyper vigilant on every piece of culture allowed in the house. Even down to children’s shows like Paw Patrol.

It feels like being colonized in a sense. The elites have decided that the old traditions must die, and have taken over everything in order to force the issue. Just like might have happened in the old west when Indians were forced to send their kids to boarding schools to kill off their culture and religion. Of course people are going to resist their culture and way of life being actively killed.

I am admittedly a progressive, which I'm sure colors my perspective, but I can't help but read your paragraph after the "AND YET" as exactly the kind of stuff Hanania is complaining about. If you roll up on some Normie Who Just Wants To Grill and start talking about the number of black people Swift has dated compared to the number of black people she danced with in what's basically an extended music video... what do you think their response is? How does the conversation proceed? I submit that a Normie does not spend one iota of brain power thinking about this fact and, if so confronted, would struggle to understand how the two things are supposed to relate to each other. Is this a particularly progressive perspective? Am I the one out of touch?

I don't think I was clear there, my apologies.

Hanania states that liberals are no longer the people who can't watch a football game or a Taylor Swift concert, who would be compelled to complain about some obscure political gripe. My point is that liberals have no problem watching the Eras Tour or a football game because the movie and the football game have already gone out of their way to make sure they don't offend liberals.

Swift and her team planned the Eras Tour movie specifically to avoid that kind of criticism from liberals. Wokie friends of mine gushed over the prominent placement of fat and trans and flamboyant dancers. Swift has been the subject of critique in the woke press for her taste in friends and in men before, she choreographed the event to avoid criticisms. She planned the whole event to avoid criticisms from the woke left.

If she had not done so, the film would have been the controversy in the woke press. There would have been articles about how her dancers weren't representative, how her romantic duet with a white man elevated white cisheteronormativity over black and brown bodies etc etc.

If Swift had not specifically planned her film to avoid those criticisms, we would be having the conversation about how lefties can't just watch a fucking movie without complaining about race.

Lefties are better at being normal, if you first go to a lot of trouble to make sure you're not offending them.

I think my point is that the median "normie" position is much closer to the "liberal" or "progressive" position than you realize.

I suspect most people think a slogan like "end racism" being on helmets or in end zones is anodyne. The same way people are fine with the NFL turning everything pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month. When people see ads highlighting female athletes or coaches or whatever they don't think "Cringe Progressive Propaganda" they think "Neat!"

You characterize the actions taken by Swift, the NFL, etc as being directed towards liberals but I think you underestimate the extent to which "normies" either agree with or don't care about those actions.

My position is that normies are, almost definitionally, people who don't notice or care about these things. They just want to watch football.

Circa 2002, when I was watching football as a youngster, watching Andy Reid coach Donovan McNabb and the Eagles to the playoffs every year but fall short in the playoffs, it was liberals who noticed and complained about things. I remember this because I was there, if you want me to dig up a bunch of NYT and Atlantic and Slate articles about it if you want proof. They noticed all the Iraq-War Era "Support Our Troops" and called it jingoism, they noticed that all the coaches and owners and pundits were white and all the players were Black, they noticed that there was no place or respect for women anywhere in the NFL unless they're wearing a slutty cheerleader outfit. And they complained about it, constantly. In print and in person. They called it toxically masculine, they said watching players get injured and carted off the field was to prepare us for American soldiers dying overseas, they said the idea of white "owners" "trading" and "bidding on" black players was bad, etc etc etc.

This kind of thing marked those liberals as weirdoes, and cut them off from a significant part of the mainstream. Normies shrugged at all that stuff, they just wanted to watch the game not get lectured by the politically correct. When Tim Tebow kneeled, atheists seethed, my grandmother thought it was great, I mostly just wanted to watch the Broncos (I still think they should have given him another year).

Today, it's the opposite. Because the NFL has sought to address all those criticisms. There's a lot less jingoism than there used to be. There's all these efforts to say they care about women, there's less of the cheerleaders and they wear more clothing. They have tried in many ways to force teams to hire some Black coaching staff (and I actually think there are a lot more white players outside of the QB and OL than there used to be, so there's that). They talk a lot about racism, and domestic violence, and all kinds of other causes, many of them liberal coded.

Now, instead, it's the edgy right wingers who want to lecture me on politics that they notice while I want to watch Andy Reid coach Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs. And political correctness is calling out affirmative action for Black coaches and not for white wide receivers, and calling Travis Kelce Captian Vaxxxx.

Sorry for the off topic question, but it's the first time I've seen it in the wild -- are you intentionally capitalizing "Black" and not "white?" If so, may I ask why? I always thought this was just a progressive journalist signalling thing.

I think it's a useful separation. Black is referring to African Americans, American Descendants of Slavery and those later black skinned immigrants who have assimilated into that community. It's a proper noun because it's a proper community, with a sense of itself and some unifying customs.

White to me isn't. Whiteness is much more fraught with questions of community and boundary drawing. I prefer terms with more precision like Amerikaner, redneck, SWPL, etc. Whites in America are more defined by class, politics, profession, religion. And speaking about whites as a group necessarily involves Europeans, in ways that are fraught.

I'm not really that committed to the bit, but I thought all that at some point, and autocorrect started doing it for me.

Interesting, thank you.

Did you and I listen to the same sports media in 2020? The sports media is absolutely still populated by a class of chattering scolds who are determined to bend sports leagues to their will by relentlessly manipulating narratives. This includes commentators who are employed by the NFL itself! I was there in 2020 when Steve Wyche and Patrick Claybon went on the Around The NFL podcast (an official NFL-owned media product) to literally drum up political and financial support for Democrat candidates.

I listened to these same commentators - Wyche, Claybon, Gregg Rosenthal, Mina Kimes, Cynthia Frelund - *refuse to say the name of one of the NFL’s teams (the Redskins) out loud for about a year, in a blatantly obvious attempt to force the league to force the owner to change the name.

Every time I listen to an NFL podcast I have to hear Cynthia Frelund read a long and lecturing ad about how the NFL is sponsoring programs to get more women involved in men’s sports.

I could bring up myriad examples of the same behavior by NBA commentators, NHL commentators, etc. (I finally stopped listening to the No Dunks guys - AKA The Starters, AKA The Basketball Jones - because they also had a whole episode where they fawning interviewed a Democrat political operative urging people to vote for Raphael Warnock. There was not a single piece of basketball commentary during the entire episode.) It’s just fundamentally not true that liberals have stopped hectoring people about politics just because they’ve had so many successes already; I’m sure I’m going to hear yet another offseason of incessant carping about why Eric Bienemy hasn’t gotten a head coaching job, and hmmmmm isn’t it interesting how so many other white retreads are getting offers but not him, our league still has so far to go, etc. Conservatives may be indulging their own cranks momentarily, but the left still absolutely owns the “can’t shut up and let people enjoy things” label.

Yes, but 2020 was four years ago. It was a whole presidential administration. A lot has happened since then. The BLM overreaction effort they put in is exactly what I'm talking about when I say they've done a lot to soothe liberals.

It used to be that sports media was more or less conservative, and the liberal media criticizing it was made up largely of people who hate sports. Now the sports media is largely liberal. And the right wing attacks on it are from people who seem to hate sports, like Vivek.

The flip side of that is, for instance, action movies where the good guy blasts criminals that has conservatives and normies cheering together, and liberals clicking their tongue "this is so problematic, this is encouraging people acting vigilante violence against the underprivileged and minorities who are driven to crime by this racist, unfair count..." and so on.

As the French critics of American cinema asked: is it everywhere because it is universal or is it universal because it is everywhere?

As you say, I think a lot of people just go along because they don't care to get into this stuff . But if they had been asked ahead of time if they wanted X Allegedly Anodyne Liberal Pandering what would they have said?

I suppose my intuition is they also would not have cared, had they been asked in advance. I'm imagining this kind of caring as being symmetrical about whether something has happened. If you would have objected to, or had a problem with, the thing happening before it happened why wouldn't you have the same objection to its happening after it happened?

I'd love to see this falsified one way or the other.

IRL I've never met a male sports fan that is plussed by antiracism slogans and pink ribbons. Not nonexistent, but I would have assumed I'd come across one at some point. I'm not 'in the mix' as much as I was ten years ago, but they either had no comment on such things or were lightly mocking. Women could be effusive despite not really following the sport closeley.

Personally, I question if the "normies are surprisingly OK with all of this" is really true or a product of astroturfing. It's a popular sentiment online that I don't ever see materialize in the world, with the exception of 'normie women' who are more progressive at baseline than I ever see men being vis a vis conservatism. Like many other things, my sense is men have learned to keep their opinions to themselves.

I'd also be curious if any recent polling data would indicate a turn for or against pink ribbons. I could tolerate it as a minor cringe thing up to a point, but maybe I feel very different about it now after seeing what else the NFL picked up afterwards.

I think the vast majority of men would just as soon watch the game and ignore all the ancillary crap. So to the extent that pink ribbons etc. exist, it is merely an annoyance - commentators talking about that rather than something actually game-related. However, when it reaches the point of not being able to ignore it (franchise name changes probably the #1 example) people will get actively mad. Also of course if someone is pushing a message that is diametrically opposed to your beliefs, that's going to rankle.

Admittedly most of my experience with dedicated sports fans was around a decade or so ago. I do not watch it much myself nor do most of my friends. I absorb its happenings via some combination of social media and family osmosis. It's possible things have shifted since then, although I'm skeptical.

Personally, I question if the "normies are surprisingly OK with all of this" is really true or a product of astroturfing.

Insofar as "all of this" refers to the specific examples in the OP, I think it is organic. Beyond that I would need more specification to have an informed opinion.

I think my point is that the median "normie" position is much closer to the "liberal" or "progressive" position than you realize.

I don't think he's arguing that... what he's arguing is that normies have been influenced dramatically over a short period of time by extremely aggressive and disingenous political moves from the left. As others have discussed, basically entryism and underhanded tactics to force public spaces to cater to their norms.

Once you have the norms changed, by definition the "normies" will follow along. They're really just people who default to what the norm is, and don't think too much about it.

What people on the right are complaining about is that there used to be, seemingly, a sort of 'gentleman's agreement' not to use tactics that are too underhanded to change norms. The left recently with all their policing of language, pronouns, media, etc. seem to have thrown that informal agreement out of the window. Which, to be fair, is very explicit in leftist who/whom political philosophy. It's part of why people on the right have been warning about communism for the last century.

If you have a political opponent who will stop at nothing to enact their views, it's hard to impossible to work with them in a liberal democratic setting.

Could you tell me what underhanded tactics the left used and describe this agreement not to use them in more detail? As best I can tell the way the left has effected societal and institutional change is some combination of (1) joining up with an organization to change its culture from the inside and (2) criticizing various aspects of an organization or culture in media (social or legacy) to effect change from the outside. What is "underhanded" about these tactics? Similarly what was disingenuous about these attempts to change the culture? I'm pretty sure leftists believed their own criticisms of these institutions and cultures.

It's hard to pin down exactly - but Venkatesh Rao gives an excellent overview of the types of underhanded, manipulative tactics that 'sociopaths' use to protect themselves and advance their goals at the expense of others in The Gervais Principle.

C.S. Lewis also writes about this sort of maneuvering in his novel The Hideous Strength. There are plenty of other examples of this type of thing.

Of course these tactics aren't limited to leftists exclusively, but leftists and Marxists explicitly embrace the "win at all costs" mentality, while their opponents typically do not. This means that on average more leftists are going to be willing to throw moral scruples to the wind and use whatever manipulative techniques they must to advance their cause.

No i don't think you're not the one out of touch.

I wonder why Taylor Swift blew up over the past year despite having originally entered superstardom in 2010-2011. There was a decade cooling off period in which other singers like Lizzo, Katy Perry, and Beyonce held the mantle, and then she suddenly blew up. I think this shows again the power of Twitter to create superstars and affect news cycles. The Musk effect is real. Sure, Meta is a far bigger network of platforms and YouTube is bigger overall, but Twitter is where the discourse and culture are shaped.

I don't think Twitter has much to do with it. The night before Thanksgiving, I attended a Taylor Swift trivia night that my cousin's boyfriend convinced me to attend because it was at a local brewery. The vast majority of the attendees weren't the typical brewery clientele, but suburban moms and their young daughters. Not too many men. And the place was absolutely packed; there were at least 20 teams. I guarantee you very few of these people have Twitter accounts, or care too much about Elon Musk. I attribute Swift's sudden blowup to the following factors:

  1. She was already very famous. This may seem obvious but it seems like there's more staying power when an already famous person reaches this level of popularity compared with the meteoric rise of an unknown. She's 34 years old and has been in the public eye for nearly 20 years; there's no sense that she's the flavor of the month.

  2. She has a history of making risky professional moves that have the potential to wreck her career but end up bolstering it. In 2014 there was some serious discussion as to whether she'd be able to appeal to the pop market in the same way she appealed to the country market. There have long been country stars with crossover appeal, but most of them never stop ostensibly being country musicians, no matter how pop they get. The only other musician I can think of who pulled this off was Linda Ronstadt, but she gets an asterisk because she was at the fringes of the country world; she came out of the more rock-oriented Laurel Canyon scene rather than being a product of Nashville. I think a big part of the reason Nashville artists are hesitant to break out like this is because country is a sort of security blanket. The country world wants something that's ostensibly country, and they will loyally buy it if it's marketed as such. Making a full transition out of Nashville means casting off the last vestiges of this to make it in the wider world. You run the risk of losing your old audience and failing to find a new one. But she correctly calculated that the country fans who were buying her music were probably already buying pop records anyway, and that her pop audience was where all the growth was. And when I say she I mean whoever does her marketing. So she managed to get two audiences for the price of one, so to speak.

  3. Then — and people often forget about this — she pulled her music off of streaming services because she didn't like the business model. For three years. I'm not going to attempt to quantize the impact this had, but I doubt it did her career any favors in the short-term. However, it probably helped her career long-term, because it encouraged people to buy her albums rather than stream them. This probably fostered a sense of loyalty that she wouldn't have had if she'd been available at the touch of a button to anyone with a Spotify account. And then it was a big deal when she got back on the streaming services, which again increased her audience.

  4. So at this point she's been steadily consolidating her power for over a decade. This is important in and of itself because most pop stars don't stay on top for that long, especially just by being pop stars. Contrast this with Lady Gaga, who is still famous but more because she did things like movies and albums with Tony Bennett. No one has cared about her pop records since 2011. The fact that Swift is in her mid-30s and has been able to sustain a career since her days as a teen idol without making any major changes is an accomplishment in and of itself and probably feeds into our current moment. She's been around long enough that women who listened to her in high school can take their kids to her concerts.

  5. Despite her fame, and her numerous celebrity relationships, she's managed to avoid the kind of scandals and tabloid gossip that surrounds other pop stars, especially ones who become famous at sixteen and have to navigate the transition to adulthood while in the public eye.

  6. She has an uncanny knack for making decisions that are totally about money and convincing people that they're not about money. The whole "Taylor's Version" thing is a prime example. She didn't like the fact that she didn't own the rights to her old recordings. The main advantage of owning the rights to her recordings is that she can collect all the money they generate. Otherwise, there's no real advantage. This is a big deal for most people, but for someone like Swift, who has more money than she's ever going to be able to spend, the schlubs at whatever private equity firm owns the rights to them probably need the money more than she does. But she casts it as a matter of principle, rerecords new versions she owns the rights to, and convinces her fans to shell out money for five different collectors' editions of the same albums they already own. The whole thing was about as transparent a cash grab as you could find, yet she pulled it off in such a way that even people who could care less about her career thought it was a slick move to stick it to those fatcats. It got her the kind of publicity you can't buy while minting her a pretty penny.

  7. And, finally, in the same vein, we have the Eras Tour. At some point in every pop star's life, there comes a point where they are no longer a "frontline artist", by which I mean a contemporary artist who makes contemporary music for a contemporary audience. At some point, people don't go to your concerts to hear the new album but to hear the old favorites. It's usually the obvious sign that a band is over the hill — there's a new album out and the kind of people who paid 70 bucks to hear you play don't give a fuck. And if your biggest fans no longer care... Becoming an oldies act is depressing. Bob Dylan and Neil Young have defiantly refused to go down that path, regardless of the crap they take for it, and insist on being contemporary musicians who will tour the new album and maybe throw in a few old favorites. Mike Love's insistence on the Beach Boys playing touring their 60s hits in the wake of the compilation album Endless Summer's success in the mid-1970s drove a wedge between the band that they never really recovered from. (And most of the band was younger then than Swift is now.) The huge appeal of the Eras Tour was that, for the first time, Swift would be taking listeners on a musical journey through her entire career. She was becoming an oldies act, proudly and deliberately. At a time when she was still viable as a frontline artist. This is almost unheard of. Sure, contemporary bands usually play some older material at all their shows, but it's unusual for someone to actively embrace what is usually the sure sign of a has-been. Because the dirty secret of oldies acts is that they're very profitable. People like hearing old favorites, even when they're still willing to pay good money for the new shit. And the whole Taylor's Version thing was perfect cover. Combine this with the fact that she hadn't toured in half a decade and the stage was set for all hell to break loose.

I wonder if the whole "lottery" aspect to the tickets also made this go crazy. They were so exclusive! I know people who couldn't get tickets. I know someone who bought tickets online (Stubhub maybe?) And flew to brazil and when they landed found out their tickets didn't exist! There were all these stories and tales of great sacrifice to go to these concerts.

7.

I think this is an often underappreciated aspect of an artist's career. Many of them just do not know when to throw in the towel on new stuff. Mad respect to Billy Joel who has not released new material in 30 years but still plays a few concerts (including Madison Square Garden) every month. He's someone who knew when he was done.

Mad respect to Billy Joel who has not released new material in 30 years

Or since yesterday:

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/billy-joels-turn-the-lights-back-on-1234958448/

How can you be a pessimist when life is this funny?

great write up. nominated

Thank you for providing positive reinforcement.

Doesn't require a comment.

Just, what the fuck guys? Can’t we just be the normal ones? It shouldn’t be hard by comparison. But instead we’re attacking normality. We’re doing goofball shit.

The world is turned upside down: conservatives and liberals are extremely confused because they are accustomed to and expect to be setting and rebelling against norms respectively. Obviously, this is far more discomforting for conservatives than liberals. They lack the mindset, the institutional capability, and the practical knowledge to be good counterculture rebels. (This, incidentally, is a major reason why conservative protests are usually incompetent). The coalition members with the most energy for this kind of politics are the people you least want to hand the microphone.

I don't see any confusion. The left is going leftward, as it historically has done. Conservatives are in the strongest position in a long time. So many wins over the past few years, like Elon Twitter buyout, successful buycotts of brands, plagiarism scandals, SCOTUS, etc. . Biden's approval numbers are among the lowest ever for an incumbent. They right just needs to step back and let the left hang itself by its petard. Wokeness does not need a counter-response; its existence turns off enough people.

So many wins over the past few years, like Elon Twitter buyout

They retaliated first by cutting off Twitter's ad money, then by taking all of Elon's compensation ($55B in options) for being CEO of Tesla away from him. Looks like they're still ahead on that one -- if the pattern continues there will be no Twitter and Musk will lose his fortune, unless he gets with the program.

Wokeness does not need a counter-response; its existence turns off enough people.

No, every "win" you've mentioned is part of a weak counter-response.

Alternate theory of the difficulty conservatives have with being counter-culture: they are still for the most part, speaking demographically, the type of people that the current system most benefits and enriches.

No doubt, parts of the system are being updated in ways that will decrease the amount by which they are preferentially enriched, which is a net loss in real terms for them personally. And no doubt they can and will get extremely mad about that.

But they are still enriched by the system in both absolute and relative terms, and therefore cannot be too enthusiastic about burning it to the ground. A reshuffling would not be likely to benefit them by chance, unlike the more typical style of counter-culture member who is relatively disadvantaged by the system and might benefit from seeing it overturned.

  • -10

No point, just an observation: They are also, in most places, the people who contribute the most to the system.

Enh, I'll just submit my mistrust and dissatisfaction with every metric and framing that would lead to that conclusion, while admitting that it is true if you accept those very common metrics and framings.

That's a pretty huge conversation that I'm not an expert on and probably don't have time for today anyway.

Alternate theory of the difficulty conservatives have with being counter-culture: they are still for the most part, speaking demographically, the type of people that the current system most benefits and enriches.

Can you expand on this? Who are these conservatives that are being enriched?

When I look around at my incredibly rich and favored city, all I see are far left progressives.

(This, incidentally, is a major reason why conservative protests are usually incompetent).

Define "incompetent" because in my experience conservative protests/rallies (especially the pro-life and pro-gun ones) are typically larger in terms of attendance, and better organized in terms of transportation, porta-poties, trash pick-up etc... than progressive protests. They just don't enjoy the friendly relationship with the media that the progressives do.

better organized in terms of transportation, porta-poties, trash pick-up etc

See, this is the crux of it. Even if this was true (of which I am skeptical), none of this is relevant. The goal of a protest is not to stand around politely, then leave with your trash in an orderly fashion. It is either to be such a colossal nuisance that you can get concessions for stopping or to build sympathy for your political movement by baiting the police into kicking the shit out you. Conservative protestors occasionally try to cargo cult left-wing protest tactics, but tend to be either too docile (zero impact) or too aggressive (generate negative sentiment).

My take on this is essentially the same as @ArjinFerman's

Seems to me that your complaint against conservatives is that they are too conservative and need to become less so if they want to be taken seriously. Forgive me for finding such arguments unconvincing and suspecting ulterior motives.

I'm not complaining that conservatives are too conservative (at least not in this context); I'm offering a theory for why conservatives are really bad at playing the role of counterculture. Your garden-variety normiecon does not have the mindset to be an effective counterculture member. They're too uncomfortable with disorder and nonconformity. The types that do suffer from being intolerably crankish - the type of person who thinks a pop star dating a football player is a Pentagon (?) op.

I'm not complaining that conservatives are too conservative (at least not in this context); I'm offering a theory for why conservatives are really bad at playing the role of counterculture. Your garden-variety normiecon does not have the mindset to be an effective counterculture member.

Except we've seen what happens when anyone to the right of the establishment does do effective counterculture - deplatforming, shadowbanning, algorithmic throttling, selective giving in to heckler's veto.

I get it, Western societies base their legitimacy on the consent of the governed, so we all have to act like anything that happens is a bottom-up organic event. The illusion looks convincing as long most people trust their elites, but the moment they start doubting them, it turns out the consent of the governed is no more real than the divine right of kings, or any other myth. This is how we go from the establishment fighting for the free speech rights of actual Nazis to them declaring parents who don't want racism taught to their children being declared Nazis.

Except we've seen what happens when anyone to the right of the establishment does do effective counterculture - deplatforming, shadowbanning, algorithmic throttling, selective giving in to heckler's veto.

...arrest and conviction on novel felony charges, disqualification from office. Thanks to January 6 we know what happens when the right protests like the left; the right is punished severely and further suppressed as a result.

He did say "counter culture", so I was thinking more memes than protests.

tend to be either too docile (zero impact) or too aggressive (generate negative sentiment).

I'd like to remind you that the media turned a conservative teenager standing and smiling into a national (maybe even international) scandal. Something that couldn't possibly get more docile was somehow portrayed as too aggressive. If you think there's a way out of this bind, and can actually deliver results, I'm sure lots of conservatives would love to pay you to be a protest organizer.

but tend to be either too docile (zero impact) or too aggressive (generate negative sentiment).

If you were a right-wing protestor, how would you protest in order to get positive media coverage?

They just don't enjoy the friendly relationship with the media that the progressives do.

That's like saying a business is run amazingly well, but can't make any sales. A friendly relationship with the media (or at least positive coverage in a wide-reaching format) is an essential part of many protests. If you can't do that, then your protest is failing at one of its core goals.

Are you saying that we are not discussing "competence" per se so much as "conforming to liberal preferences"?

More "rationality competence is systematized winning".

If a protest's goal is to get people to show up and raise the profile of an issue, then your comment only focused on the participants and not on what effect they have on the wider world. I'm not fully convinced that conservatives are worse at effective outreach given the loss of prestige of the mainstream media, but those (alleged) failures can't be dismissed by pointing to the challenges they face.

Which brings us back to @Lewis' point.

You can argue that conservative protests are typically "unsuccessful" but that's a very different charge from being "incompetent".

The enemy gets a vote, and sometimes the enemy simply has overwhelming force. The best possible protest a conservative organization could run (say, the March for Life) might not get any traction because of the efforts of the media to minimize it. That's not a competence problem; it's a power problem.

But that just goes back to institutional capture. What you’re essentially saying is that the protests are irrelevant and impotent, which, while quite possibly true, is a different problem from them being incompetently held.

This entire discussion is just painfully terminally online.

My experience is that nobody who spends the majority of their time in meatspace is thinking about this stuff. The weirdo conservatives you see online are just as rare in real life as the weirdo antiwork type communists you see online. Yeah there are weirdo conservatives...but the guy wearing a MAGA hat at this point is considered a weirdo even by his conservative friends, unless he lives in an extremely rural area. Most cons just want the economy to go back to the way it was, and wand their kids left alone.

I mean, yes, but, from the article:

The key difference, however, is that Democrats did not pick the worst caricature of everything their party stands for and make them their leader. Also, while no Democratic legislature abolished the police, state Republican parties are ensuring that women have to risk their lives and health to deliver doomed pregnancies. Each side has freaks. But the problem with the current Republican Party is that the most unappealing members of the coalition, in this case Trump and pro-lifers, are the ones in charge.

The people saying that Taylor Swift is an FBI agent or w/e-the-fuck may only be known to the terminally online.

The fact that abortion is getting outlawed or regulated in a bunch of states is not. That actually affects people in meat space.

Meat space people tune in to the conversation when they find out something like that now applies to them or their niece or their sister or w/e and is frightening them.

My experience is that nobody who spends the majority of their time in meatspace is thinking about this stuff.

Where's the border? Fox News has a host calling Swift a "pentagon asset". If your claim is that no actual R is watching Fox News...idk what to say here. Ross Douthat covered this in a column in today's local paper.

Mainstream Rs are going to have a hard time if they have to run against the online right conspiracy types this year, because Trump has cozied up to them so effectively.

Relatively few conservatives are in MAGA hats these days, but get rid of that percentage of the party and the Rs are dead in the water.