Thursday Edition

Revenge of the normies. Plus: Did Elon just fix the misinformation crisis?

1. Revenge of the Normies

A new Harvard-Harris poll contains a rebuke to the fringes on both sides. (Harvard-Harris)

Campus radicals and anti-cop progressives will be disappointed to learn that the U.S. military and police have the highest favorability ratings in Harvard-Harris’ survey.

  • Israel also ranks near the top of the list with +26 net favorability.

Chart: Harvard-Harris

Even more devastating: Campus protesters, antifa, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas all rank near the bottom of the list.

Chart: Harvard-Harris

But there’s bad news for right-wing hardliners who aren’t big fans of the FBI (deep state), DOJ (also deep state), Ukraine (corrupt) and Facebook (in league with Democrats).

  • 57% of Americans view the FBI favorably.

  • The Department of Justice has a net favorability rating of +11.

  • Ukraine has a +26 net favorability rating.

  • 55% of Americans have a favorable view of Facebook, compared to just 34% who don’t.

Meanwhile, “MAGA Republicans” have a net favorability of -3.

Bubba’s Two Cents

Isn't the whole point of populism (whether it’s left- or right-wing) that the ideas are supposed to be … popular? Many of these ideas clearly aren't held by a majority of ordinary people, but social and mainstream media can make you think otherwise. As National Review contributor A.G. Hamilton put it, the Harvard-Harris poll is, “A good reminder that what you see from some institutions and online is often not representative of most Americans.”

2. Checking In on Progressive DAs

The backlash against the criminal justice reform movement is officially in full swing. (Politico)

This week, Multnomah County (which contains most of Portland, Oregon) booted its progressive district attorney and elected a gun-owning former Republican (now an Independent).

What’s happening in solidly blue, hipster Portland is part of a bigger wave of liberal cities rejecting progressive prosecutors amid rising crime concerns.

  • San Francisco: Chesa Boudin, who ended cash bail and presided over a 25% drop in the city’s jail population, was recalled as San Francisco District Attorney two years ago.

  • Chicago: Progressive DA Kim Foxx did not run for re-election and was replaced by a former judge who pledged to prosecute retail theft as a felony.

  • Los Angeles: George Gascon, a self-proclaimed "godfather of progressive prosecutors," is facing a challenge from a former Republican, Nathan Hochman, this November.

Blue cities like Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York City have responded to voters’ crime worries by adopting tougher, more conservative laws.

Politico senior columnist Jonathan Martin on the backlash: “It should … get the attention of Democratic lawmakers everywhere. They’ve mostly found success by elevating abortion and MAGA, the party’s best one-two since Dobbs, but their vulnerabilities on quality-of-life issues remain and could prove particularly acute with the broader presidential electorate this fall.”

3. Has Elon Musk Solved the Misinformation Crisis?

It'd be ironic if Elon Musk, who hasn't seen eye-to-eye with liberals since his shift to the right, ends up solving one of their biggest concerns. (Bloomberg)

A recent study published in JAMA on the accuracy of “Community Notes” about COVID-19 vaccine misinformation: 97% of notes were completely accurate, 2% partly accurate, and only 0.5% were inaccurate.

After taking over X/Twitter in 2022, Musk championed and expanded the “Community Notes” feature, which crowdsources the platform’s user base to correct and add context to tweets.

  • In an interview last year, Musk, a free speech advocate, said he favored the "Community Notes" approach because it helped ensure accurate information without relying on potentially biased “experts.”

Musk: “If you empower people as censors, there’s going to be some amount of bias they have. And then whoever appoints the censors is effectively in control of information.”

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers, journalists and academics have been fretting for years about the supposed threat of dis- and misinformation in the age of social media.

Many of the proposed remedies (such as third-party fact checkers and the government’s ill-fated Disinformation Governance Board) have backfired and accelerated growing distrust of institutions and the media.

Bloomberg Opinion columnist F.D. Flam on the pitfalls of professional fact checking: “During the pandemic, fact checkers and moderators labeled lots of subjective statements as misinformation, especially those judging various activities to be ‘safe.’ But there’s no scientific definition of safe — which is why people could talk past each other for months about whether it was safe to let kids back into school or gather without masks. Much of what was labeled as misinformation was just minority opinion.”

Bubba’s Two Cents

I’ve always admired how online communities “self-police.” You see this all the time on Reddit, or in more niche message boards, where users feel an obligation to follow the guidelines or they suffer the consequences the community set before them. This is impossible to contrive and requires some natural cohesion in the first place, but it functions so much better than rampant misbehavior followed by an appointed hall monitor. Elon may be on to something by leaving things to the people.

4. The Quick and Dirty on Section 301 Tariffs

With President Biden and Donald Trump both saying they want to raise tariffs on China, it’s worth taking a look at the recent impact of such policies. (Kevin Drum)

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative last week published a four-year review of the Section 301 tariffs enacted by Trump and continued by Biden.

  • Production: U.S. production in affected industries went up by 0.4% per year.

  • Employment: No increase in manufacturing jobs or wages.

  • Investment: The tariffs slowed investment growth in the short term.

  • Imports: The tariffs led to a 13% drop in imports from China and a rise in imports from other countries by up to 35.4%, making the U.S. less dependent on China and possibly reducing supply chain disruptions.

  • IP: Chinese technology theft and forced transfers decreased slightly.

Impact on China: Section 301 tariffs and China's retaliatory tariffs cost China about 0.31% to 0.44% of GDP annually ($38 billion to $54 billion per year).

Political blogger Kevin Drum’s summary: “Tariffs increased some prices in the US but didn't increase manufacturing and probably had only a modest effect on China's economy. This shouldn't come as a surprise. As big as China is, imports from China still make up only about 1% of US GDP. The effect of the China tariffs is sizeable in a few very specific industries and geographic areas, but that's about all.”

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