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November 11, 2022
No Country for Centrist Dems

In This Episode

This week on Hot Take, Amy and Mary break down the midterms, examine the shadowy billionaires funding Republican candidates, and give an honest review of Elon’s performance as Twitter’s CEO. Spoiler: He’s failing, but it might be on purpose.

Follow us on twitter @RealHotTake

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

 

Amy Westervelt [AD]

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Hey hot cakes. We are planning a mailbag episode, but first we need a bag full of mail. So we need questions from you. Send your questions to hot take at cricket dot com. That’s hot. Take a cricket icon and remember that’s just for questions. Please continue to send all hate mail to Brian Kahn that’s B-K-A-H-N at protocol dot com.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right and you can send us anything questions about policy.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Who’s taller.

 

Amy Westervelt Who’s taller, actually.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar It’s me.

 

Amy Westervelt Movies, TV shows, politics, movement stuff.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Mmhmm. What, we had for breakfast.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Whatever. Our cats.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Oh right. Because you have multiple cats now.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yes I do. Anything you want. Send it. If we don’t know the answer and we want to include your question, we’ll at least try to figure out the answers. So. So, yeah, don’t be shy. If you want to be anonymous, you can note that in your email too.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Send us your questions. We will answer them to the best of our ability. Amy, what’s your Social Security number?

 

Amy Westervelt No, no. Hot take at crooked dot com. Send em in.

 

Amy Westervelt Hey, hot cakes. Welcome to Hot Take. I’m Amy WESTERVELT.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar And I’m Mary Annaise Heglar. And it is time to talk about the midterms.

 

Amy Westervelt Dooo dooo doooo.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar  Amy, how was your election night?

 

Amy Westervelt Um, I honestly I really didn’t even look at it last night because I just thought, well, we’re not really going to know much until the morning anyway. Why? Why extend the worry and pain? And and I have to say, it was it was nice to wake up to a bunch of headlines saying, oh, the red wave that was predicted didn’t happen.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar You know what is not an appealing visual? A red wave.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, I know. It’s so gross.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I’m either thinking of blood or Hawaiian punch, neither of which are things I necessarily want in my life.

 

Amy Westervelt Neither is appealing. No. No.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I didn’t watch the returns come in play by play either. I was kind of like just processing the weight of voting for the first time in the south. Yeah, and like, actual slavery was on the ballot.

 

Amy Westervelt Unreal, unreal.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar You know, we this is a topic for another day. But the way that that ballot initiative was worded was extremely, extremely confusing here in Louisiana. And so the vote didn’t go the way folks wanted it to go. So, yeah. Processing that. But let’s talk about the fun part. What were your snacks on election night?

 

Amy Westervelt I have this new obsession called they’re called Japanese peanuts. I never saw them when I was in Japan, but they’re like really popular in Costa Rica. And I think you can get them in the US too. They’re coated with this, like kind of salty, slightly spicy, but not too spicy crunchy coating. I’m obsessed. Just popping those things constantly.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar We should see if we can get them to sponsor the show. I don’t even know if I can call what I did last night. Snacking. I think I was just like bingeing. I had, like, this new cold brew, coconut boba ice cream from Trader Joe’s.

 

Amy Westervelt Yum.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar And I almost ate the entire container. I had these rice mochis from Trader Joe’s that I’m obsessed with, because on Monday night, there was a Saints game and I made a run to Trader Joe’s and it was empty. And I thought I was just going to go pick up a couple of snacks when I tell you that cart was very heavy by the time I got to the front. There’s something about Trader Joe’s that brings out the early pandemic hoarder in me. But I was grateful for it last night cause I yeah, I had a lot of feelings, and I ate every single one of them. But yeah, you know, I. I think it’s time. Amy Unfortunately.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. We got to talk about the big thing that was on the ballot this time, right? It’s time to talk about climate.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar All right, Amy. What happened last night?

 

Amy Westervelt The red wave did not arrive as predicted. So there was this huge amount of, you know, polling coverage ahead of the elections that was like the Democrats are just going to get absolutely trounced in this election by Republicans. And that did not happen, which is very, very good news for climate policy and lots of other. things, too.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, I think we should clarify that we are recording this the morning after the midterms last night. And so by the time this comes out on Friday, some races may have been called that are not called right now, but we are not in the business of predicting the future. So we’re just not even going to do that.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right. That’s right. And it does still look likely that Republicans will gain control of the House.

 

Sound Effect Booo.

 

Amy Westervelt And you know what is very much up for debate and will probably still be unknown by the time this comes out on Friday, is whether Democrats will hold onto the Senate. And that makes a very, very big difference when we’re talking about all kinds of policy, but especially climate policy, because, you know, that’s where. That’s where the government, you know, approves cabinet positions and a lot of appropriations stuff kind of relies on the Senate. And of course, judicial appointments and confirmations go through the Senate. So we’ll be kind of, you know, biting our nails until we know what happened there.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar But let’s talk about some some definitely good news. So John Fetterman won in Pennsylvania.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar There will be no there will be no Senator Oz.

 

Amy Westervelt Thank God. Thank God. And importantly, Josh SHAPIRO also won for governor there. So that is a flip of the governorship there from Republican to Democrat, and that is two Democrats who did not fanboy fracking and won their fucking races. So I hope we can put that myth to rest.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I feel like there’s a lesson there.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar You know. It seems like accountability is a winning strategy.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right. That’s right. I actually think that that was such a smart strategy there. And I hope it’s one that gets replicated in both of those cases. They really focused on accountability for really unethical practices in the industry. So they didn’t they I mean, they didn’t need to say let’s ban fracking or let’s do this or do that like they they were able to kind of, I don’t know, go with that message. And it worked. So let’s do more of that maybe. Another really interesting win in Florida is Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who is from Florida, and he is the first Gen Z representative to be voted in. He ran on a platform that was pro environmental justice and Green New Deal, pro public transit, all that stuff. Also a big nod to Gen Z in general in this election. Most of the pundits who are looking at this race are saying if Gen Z voters hadn’t turned out the way they did, it really would have been a red wave. So I think, like, you know, an important thing for Democrats to know going into the general election in 2024 that young voters are turning out and for the most part, Gen Z is voting very, very progressive.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, yeah, yeah. And another thing that I think is important for Democratic leadership, too. What kind of process is that? The millennials are not the kids anymore. You know. Like, there seemed to be so much focus on.

 

Amy Westervelt Millennials are 40 now guys, come on.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Let me tell you. We are waking up. It’s a cup of Metamucil and slathering on Biofreeze. All right. Like its real over here. So like messaging to us, like where the kids is, like, I don’t know. What in the 2008 hell is going on there.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar They’re new kids on the block, quite literally. And the new kids on the block have no idea who New Kids on the block were.

 

Amy Westervelt It’s true. It’s true. It’s true. The other really good news is both Cori Bush and Ilhan Omar got reelected. So I didn’t even know that either of them were up for reelection to be honest, I didn’t even think about it. But. But I’m very glad they both won.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yes. I am really, really excited about Cory and hon. I mean, they’ve been such strong climate advocates in the Congress, and I’m really glad that they’re they’re going to be able to stay there. I know that Warnock and his race is not all the way called, but it’s really, really close. And I’m really hoping we get to keep Warnock in the Senate because I just I don’t know if I’m ready to fix my mouth to say Senator Herschel Walker.

 

Amy Westervelt Oh, God.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, yeah. That’s a really scary day.

 

Amy Westervelt I’m seeing a lot of people predict that that’s going to be a runoff. And if that happens historically, the Dem candidate does better. And I think that that that would likely be the case here. Of course there. No, no. Like a crystal ball. But, but man, it’d be nice if he could just win it without a runoff. They’ve save us from. Once again worrying about Georgia for a month.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I know, I know. And I want Herschel Walker to join the slate of other MAGA candidates that have lost terribly or.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Or biggly as you might say.

 

Amy Westervelt Yes, yes. Yeah. I mean, that that also seem like kind of a big trend. In these midterms was that in a lot of cases, the the fringe guest of the Trump candidates did not do well. So, Dr. Oz, we just talked about Pennsylvania, you know, did not win Pennsylvania, thank God. Blake Masters in Arizona, who was really heavily funded by a lot of the big Republican funders, did not win, did not even really get close in Arizona like that. That was not a narrow race. And then the big one that I was like, yes. Was Lauren Boebert got boosted in Colorado. So. Yeah. Yes, thank God.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. And we’ve already talked about Dr. Oz. But I have to say, like, the thing is like they can lose the election, but they’re never going to believe that they’ve lost the election and their supporters are armed and crazy. That’s right. I’m really worried. Like elections aren’t over anymore. They’re never over.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s true. And actually, speaking of which, I just saw this morning, Ben Collins was saying that the the right wing folks are already trying to spread the rumor that there were election shenanigans happening in Arizona. So that seems to be where they are targeting all of the, you know, false election fraud talk is targeted at Arizona, which is interesting because, you know, I would have thought you’d see it around Pennsylvania, but but it seems to be very focused on on Arizona. And I, I can only assume that that is is probably going to focus on the governor race, which is a lot closer than the Senate race was. So that one is Kari Lake. And I think I kind of get. The sense that Republicans are at least like the sort of stop the steal trump. Republicans are looking at Arizona as the place that they’re going to mess with the general election in 2024. And that having yeah. And having a Republican governor is kind of key to that. You know. Actually, like a friend of mine was reminding me this morning to look at the secretary of state races because that position at the state level is the person that can move to overturn election results. And and so, yeah, there are close races in Arizona and Nevada on that front, too.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I mean, and so Amy, you wrote an article last week in The Guardian about climate change being on the ballot, which is definitely worth even if people didn’t say it directly. And you mention a whole bunch of different races to watch, including attorneys general and some of these other offices like the Texas Railroad Commission, that we don’t often think about less. I know we’re going to talk more about attorneys general with our next guest. That I won’t spoil for the listeners. But let’s talk a little bit about what happened there.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, well, I mean, I think the big news is like Texas still hasn’t had a non-Republican, you know, statewide official elected going on 25 years now. None of those races were even close like Ken Paxton is still attorney general, Wayne Christian is still Texas Railroad Commissioner, Greg Abbott is still governor. And like by a large margin too. So yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I saw that Greg Abbott actually won Uvalde.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar It’s just that’s so sad to me. That is sad and the like. Yeah. So in your article and I know we’re going to talk more about these races, but your article ends posing the question about why aren’t more candidates running on accountability? Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I mean, I think Beto did, to a good degree, but like not enough people are talking about accountability and we’re up against people who are just straight up lying just straight up. It’s so much easier to lie than it is to tell the truth about so many of these things. Yeah, because the truth is, it’s complicated. I mean, it is it’s really complicated, but it is very clear who needs to be held accountable. So like that, that’s the part to talk about. Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt You know, what it strikes me, too, is like like I was thinking about this with respect to a lot of the Western states, because I’ve had this experience a lot in the last year or so where I’ve been working on stories about, about or. Stories that include people who are very like like very much a particular archetype in the West. And I don’t think that people outside of the West understand this personality type. And it’s basically like libertarian but not ideological. Like it’s really it’s like it’s all about sort of personality and authenticity and not really so much about politics. And I keep seeing Democrats, like, try to run really vanilla centrist Dems in places like Arizona and Nevada and Colorado and all these places. And I’m like, no, no, no. Like, you think that the that the the right wing there is so extreme that they would never, ever look at a far left progressive. But what you’re missing is that actually like that a far left progressive is way more attractive to a Western libertarian than like centrist them could be. And honestly, I, you know, I was thinking about it with the West, but I kind of see it in some of these other races too. Like even in Pennsylvania, where I think a big part of what helped Fetterman was that he could say, look at this guy, he’s not even from here. Like he doesn’t even go here, you know?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Right.

 

Amy Westervelt And that is actually like a really big message in a lot of of these states. It’s like people want someone who is from where they’re from is like familiar with what’s important to people in that area and can kind of like talk the talk with them and like, I don’t know, I just don’t get like, why, why? That’s not being kind of embraced more. And it was very much the story of like this rich guy from out of state can’t come in here and tell us what to do. Right?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Right. Yeah. I mean, this might be an inappropriate metaphor given the West, but you kind of got it got fight fire with fire.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, it’s true. It’s true. Exactly. It’s like you can’t you can’t tackle like some, you know, I don’t know, like some. I don’t know. Yeah. You can’t, like, tackle like a cowboy with an accountant.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar That’s a very good point. I was recently watching a documentary about Ronald Reagan and his, like, rise to power. Yeah. And, you know, like, he was fucking bonkers. Like, he went after, you know, on the anti crime anti which was really anti Black Panther platform really, really hard when he ran for governor of California. Yeah. And that’s like, I don’t know. It’s like people people want a fighter. They just want a fighter. And so do the progressives. Like, I want someone who is actually going to fight for my values and not, you know, just kind of passively leave it in the road. Sorry.

 

Amy Westervelt Totally, totally. No. And that’s where I feel like the accountability stuff comes in a lot to where it’s like, you know, I think it’s I don’t know. I’m just like, I feel like. I don’t know. I just feel like and again, we saw this in Pennsylvania. I feel like kind of being able to just like break it down to bad guys and good guys and point out like who’s putting people over is really appealing. And I’m. Like, I don’t understand why. I don’t know why we’re not doing that more. Ohio raises another really good example, right? Like, I honestly, I’m just like, oh, my God, if the Dems had had someone with even a tiny bit of personality who could have really gone after J.D. Vance as this guy that like Peter Thiel paid for to be in Ohio, like and I just I’m like, I feel like that would have been a really great strategy. But he’s so wishy washy and so like, I don’t know, I’m like, who is this guy? We have no idea, you know?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar So we’re going to have Senator J.D. Vance.

 

Amy Westervelt Yes, we are. Yes.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar How are we going to like I? It took a lot. I had to hold my breath to be able to say that out loud.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, I bet. Yeah, I know. It’s a that’s a big bummer. The other one that we’re still waiting to hear on is Wisconsin, which it would be huge if Mandela Barnes could oust Ron Johnson there. But, you know, it’s it’s it’s looking closing in, maybe leaning leaning red. Same with Nevada, Nevada’s leaning Republican. But but in Arizona, you know, it’s looking very good for for Democrats. So I don’t know. It’s really it’s it’s it’s tough to know. I think, like the big the big, big thing that is important for people to understand on climate is just, you know, what can happen if Republicans lock up both the House and the Senate and what can happen if they just get the House? And like the answer on all of that is really like jamming up climate policy. So yeah, you know, they have said that they want to, you know, because keep in mind, like gas prices are a big talking point right now. And Republicans have been saying that if they get power, that they are going to do everything they can to spur domestic fossil fuel production. So that’s not good news, although I think that like Biden hasn’t exactly slowed it down. So.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, yeah. I know, I know. Yeah. But they would really just like rip the earth out from underneath the earth. So, like, there’s a difference. But you know what’s a good reason to eat gas in your tank was when you have to evacuate from a fucking fire or a hurricane or a flood. So it might get cheaper, but you’re going to need a shit ton more of it.

 

Amy Westervelt I know. It’s awful. yeah. It’s true. It is true.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I mean in other depressing news, John Kennedy is going back to the Senate to represent Louisiana. You know, I don’t think anybody was really expecting the Democrats to win here in Louisiana. But, you know, there were two I talked about this before. There were two people running as Democrats in this race. There’s Gary Chambers, who is the one who had an environmental justice plan. He gets one four and Luke Mixon. And so I think what is interesting about this race, neither one of them got close, right? So Gary Chambers came in at 17.8. Luke Mixon came in at 13.2%. And I mean, what a lot of people might say is like, oh, if there hadn’t been two of them running, then they would have beat him. And like by those numbers you could tell they wouldn’t have. However, yeah, Gary Chambers did do better by a what I would call a significant amount. So he got.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s a significant amount. Yeah. Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar He got 5%. I’m not good at math. Whatever.

 

Amy Westervelt  I feel like anything above 1% people in politics think of as, like, a big difference, you know? Yeah, I feel like a gap. That’s, like, a noticeable difference.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Exactly. Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt And. Yeah. I just. I don’t feel like. Yeah. What you see over and over again in these results is that the, the the folks who are playing it safe and kind of, you know, technically Democrat, but vote for a bunch of Republican policies in that kind of thing like they did not do well in in this midterms. I don’t I can’t think of a single one where it’s like, yeah, the middle of the road not rocking the boat. Candidate won.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. No country for centrist Dems, but to go back to the fun part of the night, let’s talk more about some snacks. So Amy, what’s a sea monster’s favorite snack.

 

Amy Westervelt A sea monsters favorite snack? Seaweed?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Would that be funny, though? No, it’s ships and dip.

 

Amy Westervelt Ships and dip. Oh, nice. I like it. I like it.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Thank you. Thank you. But, yeah, building off of what we were just saying about Gary Chambers. I. I vented to you over text about this, but there is an article that came out in the Atlantic that pissed me the entire hell off about the Democratic obsession with superstar losers, which is what they call it. They were talking about Betto and Stacey Abrahams, who have run races that cost a lot of money. And according to this author, always loose. Right? And okay. I’ve got a lot of problems with this. Chief among them, Stacey Abrams, did not lose her first race for governor. She actually won it. And this article kind of glosses over the injustices and voter suppression and all of the things that actually kept her from taking office. As though like, yeah, yeah, that’s just water under the bridge. But she lost. And why why do we keep giving her money? So that was really upsetting to me. But the main part that was like really upsetting is that these are both two Southern candidates.

 

Amy Westervelt Right.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar And like.

 

Amy Westervelt Like, how do you make that argument in the context of complete lack of investment in the South? Like I bought.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar A generation, at least the generation the Democrats have just completely ceded the South to the Republicans and said, we’re going to lose. It’s not worth even trying. So we’re just going to focus on the states where we win. And then you come back after Trump gets elected, try to run some races, and now it’s like, Well, if we didn’t win, then fuck it.

 

Amy Westervelt Exactly.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t understand the logic of that. I don’t understand the strategy of that. And there have been some pretty massive wins in the South in the Trump era. Remember Doug Jones being elected senator of Alabama?

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I do.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar You know, like even getting close after having no ground game in this region since the sixties. Really?

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, that’s right.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I will remind people yet again that it was black southerners that made the Democratic Party a progressive party. That’s how it happened. It was Fannie Lou Hamer and, you know, her coalition of people that did that. So you can’t just all of a sudden come back and expect these wins to happen immediately. And also, you can’t expect to win in the South without addressing gerrymandering and voter suppression because fun fact, you know, how many how long you get to be in the voting booth in Louisiana?

 

Amy Westervelt How long?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar 6 minutes.

 

Amy Westervelt Are you fucking kidding me? There’s a time limit?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar There’s a time limit and history. I almost ran it. Because there are also some ballot measures that were worded in extremely circuitous language, including the one on slavery that I was talking about earlier. And Amy, I am a trained policy editor, and I had to read these things several times to make sure I knew what I was reading.

 

Amy Westervelt That is crazy to me.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar That’s voter suppression, too.

 

Amy Westervelt That very much is. Yes.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Right. And so it’s not a simple ballot. And they make those those ballot measures complicated for a reason. Mm hmm. So anyway, you can’t just, like, like, abandon a place for that long and then expect to come back in and win. And if that candidate doesn’t win, then fuck that candidate.

 

Amy Westervelt Right? Right. Yeah. I mean, I’m saying this about Texas a lot, too, not not just with respect to Betto, but also like, you know, Ken Paxton kept the attorney general position. All of the Texas elections were Republican wins by like I think it’s fair to say, a landslide. And and there again, it’s like, oh, see, you know, Democrats are just never going to win Texas. Why do we even bother? And I’m like, have you been bothering?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar What kind of spoiled brat shit is that. I just.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar And the article doesn’t come up with any other solution other than stop running these candidates. Well, if we don’t run Stacey Abrams in Georgia for governor, who else should we have run?

 

Amy Westervelt Right. What’s the suggestion?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Who else should we have run to run for governor in Texas? Other than better, they have the ground game. They have the name recognition just. And the argument is, though, like, well, they’re popular outside of their states, but that doesn’t make them popular in their states. Better came damn close where he ran for senator.

 

Amy Westervelt Mm hmm. That’s right. He actually did. He did. And he held on. Even this time, he. He held onto almost all of the border counties, which is very interesting, but. Is the main thing that all the Texas Republicans run on, right, is border security and how much it’s needed. But like, you know, that’s not playing that well in the border counties apparently. You know, so anyway, yeah, I think. I don’t know. To me it’s like I look at those races and I think, wow, you know, in the first governor race, like Stacey Abrams won that race despite all of the voter suppression and gerrymandering and whatever, imagine what she could do with some actual support. And I bet like he you know, he actually was a serious challenger for Senate. Like, imagine what he could do with if like this if Democrats had been investing in the city all along. Like, I mean. I don’t know. I just I feel like it’s like that that vacuum has not just allowed the states to, you know, become solidly red in national elections. It’s also allowed them to become really like kind of legal and policy machines for the Republican Party. Like the way that the Texas judicial system just tees up constitutional challenges is like it’s pretty remarkable, you know? Right. So, yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I also want to emphasize that that chronic disinvestment in the region has been a form of voter suppression in and of itself, because we’ve told voters in these states for decades, your vote doesn’t matter. Your vote doesn’t matter. Your vote doesn’t matter.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar It’s difficult to get enthusiastic again after all of that.

 

Amy Westervelt Mm hmm. Mm hmm. That’s right. That’s right. All right. We’re going to take a quick break and come back and talk about the other folks who are investing in all kinds of races, not any of the parties, but some American billionaires.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar But before we go on break, why wouldn’t the shrimp share its snacks?

 

Amy Westervelt Why wouldn’t the shrimp share his snacks? I didn’t know.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Cuz he was shellfish.

 

Amy Westervelt *laughs* I was trying to think of a shrimp version of stingy. And I did. I couldn’t get there. I was so close.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Were you?

 

Amy Westervelt [AD].

 

Amy Westervelt  All right.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar All right. Let’s talk about what does all of this mean? So what does it mean if Democrats are looking to lose control of the House? What does that mean for climate?

 

Amy Westervelt It means really just a giant slow down of everything. You know, I think it means that they will try to block the implementation of climate policy as long as they can. They will investigate all kinds of things. Like, for example, I could see them doing a bunch of probes at the EPA which will hamstring that agency from actually, you know, getting on with the business of regulating air pollution and implementing all the various things they’re supposed to be doing to incentivize the transition to electricity. So, you know, I think that like I think that that that’s kind of the major one in the House. They will do everything they can to try to open up more land for drilling to, you know, incentivize more domestic oil production. You definitely won’t be seeing any more climate disinformation hearings in the House. Oh, no. I think they’ve they have said that they will that they want to investigate Biden. So I’m sure we’ll be will be hearing a lot about how, you know, I don’t know Hunter Biden’s laptop and shit. The next couple years. If they control the Senate that becomes an even bigger issue, I think, because they could also hold up a lot of cabinet appointments and judicial confirmations and things like that. So, you know, it’s not great. I also think, you know, there’s this like obscure administrative law that comes up, I don’t know, every almost every four years. Now, it seems like where Congress if if like if so, if Biden loses in 2024 and there’s a Republican president, there is a period of time where Congress can roll back any kind of of policies that were put in place in like the last, I don’t know, six months or so of that presidency. So there’s some concern that Republicans in Congress will try to, like, slow down policymaking so much that it gets pushed into that window.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Those are. Those are all like the the. And things. I mean, the sort of good news, I guess, if you could call it that was like the irony is already past. Yeah and a lot of that and that was really more of an appropriations bill than than like a policy bill necessarily. So like that money has been you know, like.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, you’re and Rihanna talked about that.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, exactly. So, so that stuff is reasonably safe from, from the house, although I do think that, you know, there are there are ways that that Republicans could sort of slow down some of the the spending excuse me, some of the spending that was approved there. And but yeah, basically. Just like a sort of grinding to a halt of any climate policy and a a move to try to incentivize oil and gas production. Now, that said, as I’ve said like ten times now, the entire reason that oil companies are not producing more oil and gas at the moment, it has nothing to do with Congress or Biden. It has to do with financials and their own financial. decision making. So, you know, even if Republicans try to, you know, quote unquote, support domestic oil production, that decision is ultimately up to the oil companies. And they will continue to to make decisions that will pay back to their shareholders and enable stock buybacks and not necessarily lower the price of gas. So, you know, it’s still kind of foggy, I would say, what’s going to happen there.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. And as for the Senate, is it at all possible to get to a place where Joe Manchin is no longer king of the world?

 

Amy Westervelt Oh, God.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar with this election.

 

Amy Westervelt I wish, man, I really wish. Right now it’s not looking good because Nevada is looking like it will almost definitely go Republican. Arizona is looking like it will almost definitely go Democrat. And then you’ve got kind of Georgia in the middle. Right. So you’re not going to get like a filibuster proof majority on either side. So at least there’s that. But yeah, Joe Manchin is still going to retain his kingmaker status, unfortunately.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar What do you think are the odds of John Fetterman bullying the shit out of him?

 

Amy Westervelt I think that Joe Manchin could be scared of Fetterman. I feel like. He’s a big.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I am.

 

Amy Westervelt He’s a big guy. You know.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar He’s borderline a yeti.

 

Amy Westervelt He’s like enormous. And he’s kind of tough looking in general to so. So, you know, maybe that sort of thing. Actually, I’m it’ll be very interesting to see how like, I don’t know, just just how things play out with really, I think, a growing number of progressives in Congress.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt And God, I hope it means that we’ll see some, you know, some changes in 2024, too. I really hope that this this whole, like, punching left thing will stop.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Punch to the center guys.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I just saw on Twitter someone said that in John Fetterman look like if a union was a person.

 

Amy Westervelt *laughs* Yes, that’s true. Yeah. Mm hmm. That’s maybe the best description I’ve ever heard of him. Very, very good. Yeah. Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Pretty accurate. Pretty accurate.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. All right. Let’s talk about the other people who got involved financially in this race. We’re talking about billionaires Mary. Now it’s time for a little segment we like to call Billionaire Burn. This is like a mega A mega billionaire burn.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar A MAGA billionaire burn. Mega MAGA.

 

Amy Westervelt Yes, mega MAGA Billionaire Burn

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Amazing.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. There were some serious mega-donors showing up in in this election. So apparently this midterm election was as heavily influenced by billionaires as any U.S. election to date. So they showed up in a big way. Thankfully, so did Gen-Z voters, but like, it’s pretty unfair for them to have to go up against the nation’s billionaires.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I mean, seriously. They have not had time to become a thousandaire, let alone billionaire.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. American billionaires spent at least $880 million on the US midterm elections this cycle. 18 of the top 25 donors were Republicans. They outspent Democrats by $200 million. Yeah, that’s a lot of money. That is a lot of money. We’ve got George Soros on our side, but they’ve got like ten guys on there.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I mean seriously. And also, I will point out that the right does a way better job at demonizing the billionaires who support progressive policy than we had at demonizing theirs. Right. Like we both listen to the Knowledge Fight podcast. Yeah. And which is the only way I can come into contact with Alex Jones. And he talks about George Soros constantly, constantly. And Klaus Schwab, who I’m not even a lie. I don’t really know who that is. Yeah. It’s like he puts names to the people that he claims are behind the scenes on the left, but we don’t do that with theirs. So let’s talk about these motherfuckers.

 

Amy Westervelt We’re gonna do it right now.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Let’s do it. Let’s do it.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right. All right. So first of all, Ronald Lauter, an heir of the Este Lauder, cosmetic fortune.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar You are fucking lying to me.

 

Amy Westervelt Yes. Yeah. Este Lauder

 

Mary Annaise Heglar They own a shit ton of make up. The own Bubble and Bumble.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right. That’s right. They made my grandma’s favorite perfume and apparently a shitty billionaire as well.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. All right. I’m bracing.

 

Amy Westervelt So Ronald gave at least $11 million to Lee Zeldin, who was the Trump backed Republican candidate for New York governor. He still lost. So there’s that there’s that little bit of good news. Kathy Hochul won that race despite that’s a really conservative governor race. Eleven million dollars. I mean.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar They saw an opportunity. Yeah, they really. Yeah, they were good at finding an opportunity. And they came really close and they should not have come that close in New York. So, yeah, that was a nail biter.

 

Amy Westervelt Like it. I feel like that this is a good time to also mention that like the whole fight over redistricting in New York meant that like, you know, we, like Democrats, actually lost a few seats that they could have won for the House in New York, a Democratic stronghold, because they like wouldn’t go to the mat on on redistricting there. So. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s it’s pretty it’s frustrating. Like, I think that like it’s frustrating to see Republicans get away with that rampant gerrymandering and then Democrats kind of kind of, like mess it up every time.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Well, the thing is, I feel like the Democrats, when it comes to things like gerrymandering and voter suppression, they’re kind of like we’re going to play the long game, not realizing the Republicans are the ones playing the long game here. You know, it’s kind of like, oh, we’re going to like the whole impeachment ballot box shit. Remember that can’t really do that when your voters suppress. You know. You can’t really do that when you’ve been disenfranchized.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So I just. I feel like. Um, I don’t know, I just. I feel like the. The fact that. Like that. So many House seats in New York went to Republicans is a real should be a real wakeup call to the to the Democratic Party that like, you know, they cannot sleep even on states that they think they have locked up, that, you know, politics as usual is not working and that they are continuing to get their asses handed to them on the long game. You know.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I mean seriously.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, that’s a bummer. And also, I do want to note that the amount of money that was spent on that governor race, again, $11 million for for the Republican guy is has been called unprecedented in New York like that at that is an insane amount of money to spend on on a governor’s race.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Imagine what that money just could have done for climate action, though.

 

Amy Westervelt Oh, totally, totally. Yeah. And also, I just want to say to like, just because it didn’t work this time doesn’t mean that they won’t be back with more money next time. Because guess what? Whereas the Democrats are like, Oh, we lost, never spend money on that again. The Republicans are like, keep funding it until we win.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Exactly. Kind of the long game.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. Um, so yeah. He actually Lauder is the guy who paid for the successful redistricting lawsuit that resulted in more neutral maps, reshaped the congressional map in New York and made it more Republican friendly. So, yeah, fuck this guy. Yeah. And let’s. Let’s all remember his name. Write it down. And he’s not alone. Unfortunately, there was also a guy named Richard Ulin. He’s the CEO of U Line Packaging. He donated $67 Million in this cycle.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, my God.

 

Amy Westervelt $67 million. Yeah. So, yeah, he was backing Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Ron DeSantis in Florida, Blake Masters, he also backed Ted Budd. So, yeah, like a lot of and a lot of those were wins, by the way. So yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Amy, I just looked up who the Este Lauder companies are and I’m just going to go need to go cry somewhere. Oh, no. On Smashbox. Which makes my favorite lip thing. They own Mac. They own Doctor chart. They own Bobbi Brown.

 

Amy Westervelt No way.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar And bumble and bumble. Mm. Sad day. Well, sad day.

 

Amy Westervelt It’s a sad day. It is a sad, sad day.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar So is he. Did he, like, break off from the family fortune and make his own doing this? Or are there other people at SCA later who are like actually running the company and better than him and he’s not profiting from it anymore?

 

Amy Westervelt I don’t know about like who’s involved in the company, but I do know that Loudon, Ronald’s brother, is actually a big Democratic donor. So that sounds like a fun Thanksgiving this year.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, I got a feeling they don’t really fuck with each other at holidays.

 

Amy Westervelt Oh, wow. Yeah, that’s amazing. So, you know, maybe you can keep buying Smashbox and think, well, this is going to the good brother.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt Yes. Yeah. But anyway. Richard Uline $67 million. That is insane to me.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar That is insane.

 

Amy Westervelt That is incomprehensible amount of money for one person to be putting into an asset.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar That is an economy. That’s not a donation.

 

Amy Westervelt It is. It is. Yeah. He also funded a bunch of attack ads against Warnock, against Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and against Johnson’s opponent in Wisconsin, of course, Mandela. BARNES So. Yeah, yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Sounds like a. It sounds like he’s tied to all the races that are about, you know, crime and punishment.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. We also have so again let’s let’s remember his name. Richard. You line. Spelled u i h e i. And his company is u line u l i n e. Yeah, I. Yep. There’s also of course, Peter Thiel, who we have talked about before. He was yes, he was JD Vance’s primary backer in Ohio. A lot of people are talking about this. Has Peter Thiel basically buying a Senate seat in Ohio, like that’s how much money he’s spent. But like, thankfully, he also was backing Blake Masters in Arizona along with Uihlein. And Blake Masters is definitely not going to win that race. So he’s like several points behind. So, you know, he only won one Senate seat not do I guess.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar So he’s got a bunker in New Zealand and a Senate seat in Ohio. All the bases are covered.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s true. That’s true. I also want to talk about Stephen Schwarzman. He’s the CEO of Blackstone, which is one of the largest private equity firms in the world. Not to be confused with BlackRock, a different financial organization, kind of similar, but different. Schwarzman is a big supporter of Amazon rainforest destruction.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Oh. There was a twist at the end of that. Okay.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. He also invests in a bunch of fossil fuels. But today we’re talking about him because he was the third largest individual donor to Republican objectors to the 2020 election. And this year, he donated tens of millions of dollars to Republican PACs, including the ones that were supporting Ron Johnson, J.D. Vance, Lisa murkowski in Alaska, Dr. Oz, and your favorite, Herschel Walker.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar He’s not my favorite.

 

Amy Westervelt I know! He also recently had eight climate protesters arrested outside of his swanky apartment building in New York.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar What’s the charge? Critical infrastructure. You know what? I should call the cops on Exxon for disturbing the peace and see how that goes.

 

Amy Westervelt That would actually be interesting. You know. I feel like. Why not?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t call the cops for a million reasons, but I might for that. I’m petty enough.

 

Amy Westervelt Anyway. Okay. He was apparently because they were blocking the entrance to his apartment building.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Oh. Oh, wow. Okay.

 

Amy Westervelt So I guess if you’re having a protest, you know, back it up a few feet on the sidewalk or Stephen Schwartzman might be calling to have you arrested.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I guarantee he would call the cops any fucking way. And they would come because he pays the cops.

 

Amy Westervelt So. Okay, so to run down our list here, it’s Ronald Lauder. Richard Yu line, Stephen Schwarzman and Peter Thiel. Remember those names? I feel like we should be accusing Republican protesters of like cashing Uline checks or cashing checks the way that that the right accuses climate protesters of just cashing Soros checks.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, we should definitely at least, like remember these names and connect these dots. Because they like bleed together. So.

 

Amy Westervelt They absolutely do.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt GROSS.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar In other news, what do lawyers eat for a snack? You are not going to get this.

 

Amy Westervelt I don’t know. All I can think of is shit. And I know its not that.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar The answer is trial mix.

 

Amy Westervelt Trial mix? Oh, that’s good. That’s a good one. Yeah. I like that one

 

Amy Westervelt [AD]

 

Amy Westervelt Another pitch for folks to send in their questions to hot take at crooked. We need them. We’re doing a mailbag episode. Can’t do it without a mailbag.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Need a bag full of mail.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. If you are confused about anything from dad jokes to.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Just. Just ask us whatever. Okay. You listen to the show, you know, the shit we talk about. Ask us your questions. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll make it up.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Or we’ll. We’ll ask someone who might know.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Amy might. I’ll make it up.

 

Amy Westervelt And send it to hot take at crooked dot com. Mary, let’s leave the US for a few minutes here and talk about what’s happening internationally on climate, which of course is the 27th 27th conference of the Parties. This is the U.N. annual climate negotiations that are happening in Egypt right now. They kicked off this week.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar They did. They did. They’re calling this one Africa’s Cup. And which is interesting to me, because not too long ago there was one in Morocco. And I understand why that was an Arab Cup. And why would Africa’s Cup be held in one of the most repressive states in Africa for activism and also in a pro state? That doesn’t make sense to me. I know so. I know. I know we were.

 

Amy Westervelt There’s a lot about this cop that’s not making sense.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar It’s not turning over umm but yeah, we were talking earlier about the just lack of journalists that went to cop and you were saying, you know.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah, it is. It’s noticeable. Like, I don’t know, I’m I knew a bunch of people that were going last year in the.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Bigger height of the pandemic, I might add.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right. That’s right. And none of the people that I knew that were going last year went this year. I can’t say that I know a single reporter who’s on the ground there right now, like everyone I know who’s writing about it, is doing it from here. Which like, you know. I’m not sure how much that really matters. Like you can absolutely cover what’s happening from here and it’s way more important that the negotiators are there than journalists. But still, it’s a little bit like, huh? Okay. Well, it.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Makes me question all of these big commitments we’ve heard from news outlets about. We’re covering climate as the story of our time. And they’re skipping cop and not only cop, but Africa cop, right. Like this is supposed to be the one where, like, you know, at least 30 countries are like, you know what, I can’t do this debt and climate change at the same time. So I’m not doing the debt no more. That seems like a big deal. Like this is a cop where they’re really going to talk about loss and damages, a.k.a. reparations. And there’s just like a dearth of journalists covering it. I feel like that sends a pretty powerful and pretty clear signal about what’s important and what’s not.

 

Amy Westervelt Definitely. I’ve been feeling that a lot about the climate investments just this year in general. I am consistently having the experience of editors on climate desk being like completely overwhelmed. Like if they’re so short staffed, they don’t have enough time. And and I’m hearing this from other climate journalists, too, that like, all of a sudden they’re like, yeah, like it’s taking me two or three weeks to get an edit back. You know, like, no one is staffed up. Yeah. Which I’m like, what happened here? And then, yeah, I do think that, you know, like, yes, it’s more expensive to send someone to Egypt than it is to send someone to Glasgow for sure, especially from New York, you know, so like definitely that is coming into into play. But like, yeah, this is an important cut, not just because of the conversations around lasting damages, but also like I feel like this is um the way that it’s that like the way that the Africa’s cop thing is playing out is, is really like a lot of African countries and global south countries in particular are arguing for an extended timeline on fossil fuel development. And this is like a real it’s a real dangerous narrative. It’s really there’s there’s so there’s like these two tracks, right? You have loss and damages happening and then you have a bunch of countries arguing and also framing it as a justice argument. That global south countries should get a longer time to develop and use fossil fuels. That is all happening in the context of the price for gas being, you know, at global highs and a lot of of African leaders saying, hey, we should get to cash in on this. Right. They’re calling it the dash for gas you know and I think it’s really like I don’t know, it’s like a time where we really need journalists who understand enough of the context there to kind of unpack that.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt And look at it and say, look, you know, should Global South countries be forced to rapidly transition off of fossil fuels and leave it in the ground when Global North countries did it? No, that seems patently unfair, right? However, this idea that like we can kind of, oh, it’s okay. We can just like fudge the math a little bit and let these folks, like, make some money over here. And and also, like, why aren’t we connecting the dots on these conversations? Right. Right. If you if you want global south countries to benefit from fossil fuel money, I have a great idea for you. Take it from the fucking oil companies and the sovereign wealth funds that are entirely funded by oil. Brilliant. Kafka of Norway.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Brilliant.

 

Amy Westervelt You know, like it doesn’t have to come in the form of a bunch of U.S. and European companies. Actually profiting from the oil and gas in African countries like. That is not a justice solution.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

 

Amy Westervelt And and so I feel like, you know, right now is the time when we really need journalists to be kind of holding people’s hand and walking them through this because it’s a very complicated fact, you know, and and it is very nuanced. And I don’t think that we’re going to get that kind of coverage of of cop and we need it so fortunate.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar And and I’ll just say about the lack of journalists attending CUB. That’s not the fault of the journalists themselves and often not the matters themselves. They’re just for folks who don’t work in media. There’s a lot of decisions that people that whose names we know, who have, who write the stories and the bylines and all of that, like they don’t really have a lot of say over that a lot of the time. So I don’t want to say this to say like, oh, the journalists who went last year suddenly don’t care because it wasn’t their decision.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar So just to clarify that, and I also plug that friend of the show, former guest on the show Oakeshott Raffi is in is is that cop and you should follow him on Twitter and follow his work.

 

Amy Westervelt Very good for.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yes to get some coverage of it and yeah, we’ll be watching for more journalists at COP. And hopefully, you know, we’ll get some good stories out of this because it’s not over. How long do you go? Like two weeks?

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah, another I do another shout out. I don’t think she’s there. But Kate ARONOFF wrote a great piece in The New Republic about the plan that John Kerry has gone to cop with, which surprise, surprise is not loss and damage. It’s it’s it’s this idea that no one can really afford their loss and damages commitments and that instead we should be. Paying for adaptation and transition with a carbon market. So he announced this this morning. It’s Wednesday morning. He announced it this morning and is you know, he’s just very committed to the idea that market solutions are the way to go and that is what is pushing up. So we’ll see how people react to that.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yep, we will absolutely see how that goes.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I feel like I’m going to need a whole new wave of snacks to get through the end of COP.

 

Amy Westervelt It’s true. Yeah, that’s true.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar What’s it called when you share your fruit snacks, Amy?

 

Amy Westervelt I didn’t know. I’m so bad at these. What is it?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Welch redistribution.

 

Amy Westervelt Ooh, I like that.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar UhhHuh? Huh?

 

Amy Westervelt I have to say, I do also like Welch’s fruit snacks. I’ve stolen them from my kids lunches a couple of times.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar You are the fucking Hamburglar.

 

Amy Westervelt All right? We talked about all the, like, billionaire political donors, but now it’s time to have our first ever repeat billionaire burn.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, let’s do. Our first with. And it’s well-deserved. And I don’t think this person is very different from the other billionaires we talked about in the sense that he absolutely uses his money to influence politics because this motherfucker bought Twitter. And I think a lot of people think he’s running it into the ground and I don’t think he’s running in it. Like they kind of think it’s because of, you know, he’s just really bad at business. No, I think this motherfucker knows exactly what we’re doing. We’re talking about Amy’s Twitter, eBay, Elon Musk.

 

Amy Westervelt Oh, Ellen. Ellen. Yeah. Yeah. So she woke up the other morning and decided to tweet that, quote, unquote, independently minded voters should vote Republican because it’s better to have the House or like Congress and the White House be different political parties.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, let’s start there. Okay. So I think a lot of folks I kind of lampooned this tweet as like, oh, my God, that’s such a stupid idea. Yeah. I don’t think Elon actually thinks that that’s how you strike a balance of power. I think this man was fascism for real. And that’s why he wants people to vote for Republicans. Because Elon I don’t think is stupid. I think it’s craven and I think that he is a fascist. And after this episode comes out, I’m probably not going to have a Twitter account. So it’s been really interesting.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think that he does not think that there should be any checks on the power of. Well, yeah. Period. Yeah. You know, he doesn’t like he’s been very anti journalists ever since journalists started to actually do their jobs when covering Tesla and like criticized him. Sometimes he could not handle that, like when stories started coming out about him, um, you know, not treating workers well and being very anti-union and then, you know, skirting a bunch of environmental regulations and all that stuff. Like when it, when it went from being, you know, Teslas are amazing and Elon is a god. Yeah. To just covering him like any other billionaire and any other company like he lost his shit and he has been trying, I mean, like even. I don’t know five or six years ago he had this idea for, for what was essentially like a yelp for journalists that he was calling Pravda, where it was like you could you could vote and like people would would decide whether this person was credible or not and give them a rating. And if they had a low rating, then, you know, they’re incredible journalists. Yeah. And their stories would like show up, you know, lower in the results of like, you know, Google and Twitter and all of these things. So I’m like, I feel like buying Twitter and turning it into a platform for fascism is like kind of checking a lot of boxes for Elon.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I mean, he’s wanted to disrupt truth for a long time, you know, disrupting reality. And so. Let’s let’s talk about some of the changes he’s made now that he’s part of Twitter or owner of Twitter, one of the most famous ones or infamous, rather, is he’s instituted a process for people to purchase verification. And so you pay $8 a month and you get a blue check. And, you know, he’s kind of defended this as democratizing the verification process.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, exactly. It’s like, oh, a democracy where you can pay for rights.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Right? That’s democratic because everyone has money, Amy.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Of course, the billionaire thinks that so.

 

Amy Westervelt Many things that he says, it’s like, oh, like it’s totally outside of the realm of, of like possibility for you that some people don’t have money or that like, people don’t who don’t have enough money. It’s not because like they, you know, deserve to not have money or whatever. You know, he’s very into that whole this is such a like, you know, Silicon Valley libertarian like world view in general, right? That like anyone who doesn’t have money, it’s because they either didn’t work hard enough or weren’t talented or smart enough. Right. So, like fuck em.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Right or they didn’t steal good enough.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So he he has also like muddled this up quite a bit in the in recent days. So like first it was like all the blue checks are going to be gone and if you want one, you have to pay then. And people were like, what? And he was going to charge $20 a month. Then he was like, okay, what about $8 a month? And we’re going to leave the blue checks that are there in place, but we’re going to let peop new people buy them and there won’t be any way to distinguish between them. And then it became. Now, Twitter is going to have a quote unquote official label that it will apply to some accounts, but it’s unclear how that is all going to work. It’s just like all this. So it’s like, I don’t know. And then he keeps, of course, like he’s as part of his whole like, oh, this is democratizing it. He he likes to big himself up as a, as a free speech warrior. Right. But like he’s been liberally suspending and banning people who say mean things about him or impersonate him.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Right. Like very clearly not impersonating him to go back to the blue check thing. So I’ve never had a blue check. Yeah, you’re like a journalist. So you have one. Yeah. Is it is it really that different? Do you get caviar or something?

 

Amy Westervelt No. Like I yeah. I have a I have a blue check because my boss, like 15 years ago verified the whole newsroom. You know what I mean? It’s like it was never it wasn’t like, ooh. I definitely know that. Like, there are people who see it as a marker of prestige. There’s actually, like, I’ve been dabbling in Mastodon, which is like this competitor to Twitter that a lot of people are checking out in case Twitter folds and they very specifically don’t. Have any kind of a checkmark thing. And it’s funny because some people like, like try to put a checkmark in their username to make it look like more important or whatever. But a lot of people on there like, yeah, we didn’t, we didn’t want to have this like division among users because Mastodon was really built with community in mind. And specifically it was a lot of like marginalized communities and the disabled community in particular that that like weighed in on a lot of the features on Mastodon. So like there are a lot of rules in place that make it much less toxic on Twitter. So anyway, I’m like. You know, it’s interesting because Elon claims that he wanted to get rid of the quote unquote caste system on Twitter and hierarchy and elitist in the media and this and that. But like, there’s already an example of something that has done that and has done it in a way that works. You know like instead of doing that, he’s sort of just causing lots of of new problems.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Yeah. I also heard that he fired damn near everyone who makes Twitter work.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right. He fired a bunch of people and then he was trying to hire a bunch of them back because he realized he actually needed them.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, my God. I can’t imagine what those, like, comeback emails are like. Like, baby, please.

 

Amy Westervelt I know.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I didn’t mean it.

 

Amy Westervelt He fired the entire human rights team, which seems bad for the future.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar That does seem bad Is he trying to get them back?

 

Amy Westervelt Not that I’ve heard of that. I haven’t heard about that. Yeah. Yeah. And then he also is like, unblocking and, um, muting himself from that. Which I find hilarious. I’m like, is he going to get rid of those options? Like, is that. I don’t know. Is that part of his quote unquote free speech push is like you have to listen to everyone. You can’t meet anyone anymore who knows.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Or you can’t mute me. But you had him muted, right?

 

Amy Westervelt I did. And now he’s not. So I’m just. Like, Oh, my kid, don’t.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar You know I’m going to try muting him and see what happens, you know? And also, I’m pretty sure that my favorite pastime of cyberbullying fossil fuel companies is probably going to not be allowed soon. So I should probably, like get that in while I can.

 

Amy Westervelt Yes.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I would not I would take it as a little bit of a badge of honor if that’s why I got kicked off.

 

Amy Westervelt Twitter. Yes. Yes. Yeah. Oh, God. Oh, God.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I saw someone else tweet that, like after he fired all of those people and made them, like, come up with a way to pay for verification in a week they were like, I get why the Tesla set on fire now?

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Makes sense.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, totally. Totally. Also, so there was there were some interesting there were some interesting things coming out this week, too, about how, you know, because he was threatening to buy Twitter, it actually made the company less financially viable. So by the time you took it over, it was like worth less because of his affiliation to it, which is really heavy because like that’s kind of what he’s been using as his justification for doing things like charging for verification. It’s like, well, we need to get, you know, Twitter’s revenue up. And it’s like if you had just left it alone. It would have been okay.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Right. Right. Yeah. And to go back to the layoffs. Yeah. So he fired and disbanded the whole workforce. And Ghana and Ghana was the only African office that Twitter had. And and none of the employees are being offered severance or other protections that the American employees are getting. Surprise surprise.

 

Amy Westervelt Surprise, surprise. Because he’s like the fucking worst on labor rights across the board and he’s a fucking racist.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yep, yep.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Reminder that this man is from South Africa and was very, very much profited off of apartheid and immoral mining.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, he has said that he didn’t see black people growing up in South Africa. So that just kind of tells you about the context there. Um.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t know how you do that. I don’t know how you pull that off, honestly.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I. Yeah, I just. I think it’s like. I don’t know, it’s not good. And the thing is, is like, initially, a lot of people were sort of like, oh, this sucks because, you know, Twitter was a place where I hung out with my friends or I found out about news or whatever. I think, like, the broader implications are really it’s very bad. Good for information, right? And organizing, it’s very bad for climate folks in particular, sharing climate stories, organizing protests, all of that stuff. Like a lot of that Twitter was a real hub for. And I think a lot of folks are, you know, justifiably worried about that going away.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yep. I don’t know. I think that we talk a lot. I’ve tweeted about this already, but like, I think we talk a lot of shit about Twitter being this hellhole and this, you know, really awful place. And it can definitely be that. Yeah, but it’s also a place where progressive voices come and can be heard. Right? You don’t have to already be endorsed by any other sort of site, like you can get your ideas out there into the public square. And while our public discourse is broken, it largely does happen on Twitter. And getting rid of Twitter does not fix our public discourse. It further breaks and fractures that right. So I think the point of destroying Twitter is to push us further into our echo chambers and further silos. Definitely. I know that I’ve learned a shit ton about things like prison abolition and climate justice and so many other issues on Twitter. And to get rid of that, I think is a very calculated move to hurt the progressive movement.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, I agree. I agree.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt So, yeah, not. Not a not a clown, kind of an evil genius. And we’re not into it.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, and we should take him seriously. Yeah. I don’t think making fun of him and making fun of him is exactly what he wants. That’s exactly how he knows he’s getting away with it in broad fucking daylight. Like, I just don’t see any of this as funny, and I don’t see any of it as accidental.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Agreed. Agreed.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar So fuck Elonn and drink water. I don’t know.

 

Amy Westervelt Fuck, Elon. Eat snacks.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt Holler at us, Nuts dot com. We’re.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Seriously, I could hawk the shit out of Nuts dot com. It’s a great site.

 

Amy Westervelt Hot take is a Crooked Media production. It’s produced by Ray Peng and mixed and edited by Jordan Kantor. Our music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Leo Duran is our senior producer and our executive producers are Mary Annaise Heglar, Michael Martinez and me. Amy WESTERVELT Special thanks to Sandy Girard. Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin and Charlotte Landes for production support and to Amelia Montooth for digital support. You can follow the show on Twitter at Real Hot Take sign up for our newsletter at Hot Take Pod Dot com and subscribe to Crooked Media’s video channel at YouTube.com slash Crooked Media.

 

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