Haiti, Fetterman, and engagement bias
perhaps "this position gets engagement on Twitter" is evidence against that position
The tweets below are all “popular” in the sense they have a lot of engagement. Many of them are also wrong in some way or another.
Being wrong tends to be good for encouraging engagement. People will shout their objections and retorts. And if 99% of the public disagrees with you, that may only mean the 1% are more vocal in support to compensate, while the 99% need not bother with rhetorical pugilism.
A naive read of Twitter might suggest the public agrees with these thoughts. More likely than not, only a small percentage of the people who use Twitter do so. Beware the engagement bias.
News from Haiti
By most accounts, the situation in Haiti is dire and continues to become more dire. The government (run by unelected strongman1 Ariel Henry) has minimal support in the country. There is no national army (probably2), and the police are overpowered or working with gangs. Fuel shortages continue, as a militant gang blockades3 the largest fuel depot in the country. Businesses and hospitals are shut down. And now a cholera epidemic has started.
However, if you do a search on Twitter for «Haiti», you will get a very different picture. Apparently, the only people who care about Haiti on Twitter are …
Let’s not mince words: these are anti-American activists. Many are “tankies” or openly racist. They ignore the facts when the facts don’t suit them. They are, quite simply, wrong. Yet, because there is no appetite for “maybe we should do something about the situation in Haiti” posts, this is what the algorithm says are the most popular recent posts on the topic.
From the humanitarian perspective, it is fortunate that the “deep state” does not need support on Twitter. It is a safe bet that the American electorate will continue to not care what happens in Haiti.
The Fetterman-Oz Debate
In most situations, Mehmet Oz would have been the clear loser of the Pennsylvania Senate debate. The television personality and snake-oil salesman4 gave a sound-bite that only an opposition researcher could love:
However, his opponent, Democrat John Fetterman, was the real loser. Mr. Fetterman had a stroke in June, and there have been continuing concerns about his health. The debate … did not ameliorate those concerns.
Democrats have two responses: denial, and denial. Denial that there is a problem with his health, or denial that the problem with his health should be considered by voters.
If you are talking about the “bravery” of your candidate for doing one of the staple activities of a campaign, you are losing. And the “ableist” claims … it is hopefully the beginning of the end of the Carthage paradigm. Fifty years ago, Roman Hruska, a conservative Republican, was mocked for suggesting that “mediocre” people should be represented on the Supreme Court. Now it is liberals who are suggesting that expecting basic competence is an unreasonable demand.
And a anklenote
the footnotes are still down further, but this is close to the feet. we’ll call it an ankle note.
Large portions of the Republican Party still appear to be constitutionally incapable of honesty. Even when the facts are squarely on their side, they make up new lies:
“Specialized computer assistance” means closed-captioning. Which is a reasonable accommodation, but one that the Oz campaign and enablers like Trump administration veteran Stephen Miller went to great lengths to obfuscate and attack.
Ariel Henry doesn’t describe himself as a dictator, but as he seized power following the death of his predecessor and has no electoral mandate, the term “president” also feels inappropriate. Strongman is a “neutral” term for the situation. Neutral, with the caveat that pro-dictator voice Curtis Yarvin is very willing to use the term.
Despite many contemporaneous sources claiming that Haiti has no army, in 2017 it was reported that a new army was being established (ref. BBC). According to news reports in 2021, the army only had around 500 troops at that time. (Turkish state media, via the Wall Street Journal and the United Nations)
The fuel blockade is not new; the news from almost exactly a year ago describes almost the same blockade.
It is beyond dispute that many of the medical remedies promoted on The Dr. Oz Show are of such dubious efficacy that the term “snake-oil” is appropriate.