A Rand Paul Presidential Campaign Would Teach Americans Just How Vicious and Anti-Social the Libertarian Agenda Is

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/rand-paul-presidential-campaign-would-teach-americans-just-how-vicious-and-anti

Not such a cozy guy.

By Thom Hartmann
January 23, 2014
It’s always important, and always hard, to distinguish positive economics (how things work) from normative economics (how things should be). Indeed, with many of the macroeconomics issues I’ve written about, it has been obvious that large numbers of economists can’t bring themselves to make that distinction; they dislike an activist government on political grounds, and this leads them to make really bad arguments about why fiscal stimulus can’t work and how monetary stimulus will be disastrous.

But I’d like to talk not about macroeconomics but about money – specifically, about Bitcoin, the virtual currency. So far, almost all of the Bitcoin discussion has centered on positive economics – can this actually work? And I have to say that I’m still deeply unconvinced.

To be successful, money must be both a medium of exchange and a reasonably stable store of value. And it remains completely unclear why Bitcoin should be a stable store of value. The economist Brad DeLong explained it earlier this month in an online article for the Washington Center for Equitable Growth:

“Underpinning the value of gold is that if all else fails you can use it to make pretty things,” he wrote. “Underpinning the value of the dollar is a combination of (a) the fact that you can use them to pay your taxes to the U.S. government, and (b) that the Federal Reserve is a potential dollar sink and has promised to buy them back and extinguish them if their real value starts to sink at (much) more than 2 percent/year.”

He continued:

“Placing a ceiling on the value of gold is mining technology, and the prospect that if its price gets out of whack for long on the upside a great deal more of it will be created. Placing a ceiling on the value of the dollar is the Federal Reserve’s role as actual dollar source, and its commitment not to allow deflation to happen. Placing a ceiling on the value of Bitcoins is computer technology and the form of the hash function … until the limit of 21 million Bitcoins is reached. Placing a floor on the value of Bitcoins is … what, exactly?”

I have had, and am continuing to have, a dialogue with smart technologists who are very high on Bitcoin – but when I try to get them to explain to me why Bitcoin is a reliable store of value, they always seem to come back with explanations about how it’s a terrific medium of exchange. Even if I buy this (which I don’t, entirely), it doesn’t solve my problem. And I haven’t been able to get my correspondents to recognize that these are different questions.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/rand-paul-presidential-campaign-would-teach-americans-just-how-vicious-and-anti

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The ‘Feminized Society’ Myth

From In These Times: http://inthesetimes.com/article/16157/our_feminized_society

How the gender perception gap makes a female minority feel like a majority.

BY Sady Doyle
January 22, 2014

Congratulations, feminism! It’s 2014—not even a hundred years since women won the right to vote in America—and already, the United States has been transformed into a man-loathing dystopia, where women rule all we survey, and men work night and day to appease us.

At any rate, this is what I gather from Fox News’ Brit Hume. With regards to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s growing reputation as a bully who takes disproportionate and petty revenge in response to any perceived slight, Hume opined that “in this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like [Christie] in their private conduct, kind of old-fashioned tough guys, run some risks.” Specifically, Hume says, “If you act like a kind of an old-fashioned guy’s guy, you’re in constant danger of slipping out and saying something that’s going to get you in trouble and make you look like a sexist or make you look like you seem thuggish or whatever.”

Hume’s remarks, granted, are politics-as-tediously-usual; anyone who’s suffered through an electoral news cycle can see the gears grinding. Christie is an early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential candidate, with the Democratic nomination widely presumed to be Hillary Clinton’s for the taking. Much of Christie’s potential appeal to moderates and undecided voters comes from his positioning as a “reasonable right-winger”: a moderate, big-tent nice guy, capable of getting votes from Democrats when need be, known to praise (and even hug!) President Obama upon occasion without spontaneously combusting or turning into a pillar of salt. Therefore, the “nice guy” image is being dismantled by Christie’s opponents, and his vindictive, belittling, confrontational side is being dragged out into full view. Hume’s sexist feint—the idea that Christie’s personal cruelty is essentially and admirably male; male like every other President in history, male like Hillary isn’t—can clearly be read as a bit of re-positioning. By stirring up fears of female power, of a nation so “feminized” that being openly male can actually get you “in trouble,” he’s not-so-subtly rallying male voters’ insecurity, rage and entitlement, trusting them to cling tighter to Christie as they instinctively resist the idea of a woman holding the highest office in the nation. Men aren’t inherently thuggish and nasty, but people like Hume surely aim to make them act that way in 2016.

But the nightmare of a female-dominated world is not uniquely Hume’s. In fact, it’s not even uncommon.

Take, for instance, Kyle Smith’s now-infamous review of the Golden Globes in the New York Post, which summed up the whole three-hour event with three words: “Too Much Estrogen!” Specifically, it was hosted by known estrogen-havers Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who—in their 15 total minutes of screen time—lobbed “feminist joke-bombs” at the audience, remorselessly causing thousands to smirk, or perhaps even chuckle, at mildly risqué humor about famous men. (Smith was particularly offended by Fey’s “and now, like a supermodel’s vagina, let’s all give a warm welcome to Leonardo DiCaprio,” because no straight man is ever more deeply wounded than when he is supposed to have frequent sex with beautiful and enthusiastic women.) Never mind that both “Best TV Series” awards went to male-run, male-led shows; that both “Best Picture” awards went to male-directed, male-led movies; that Best Director went to Alfonso Cuaron, Best Screenplay award went to Spike Jonze, Best Score went to Alex Ebert, Best Song went to the all-male U2, and the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Woody Freaking Allen; that, in fact, there was only one notable female winner outside of the female-specific “actress” categories, Frozen co-director Jennifer Lee, who was one-half of a half-male team accepting for “Best Animated Film.” Women were allowed to pass out the trophies that all those men received, and that constitutes a radical feminist takeover.

And it doesn’t stop there. It’s not just a matter of one corrupt politician getting punished for his “muscular” bridge-closing abilities, or one award show allowing women to ruin it with all their female yapping. Just a few days later, on Fox & Friends, author and self-described “philosopher” Nick Adams—along with his eager interlocutor, Elisabeth Hasselbeck—noted that the impending matriarchy has advanced so far that it poses a threat to American national security.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/16157/our_feminized_society

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: The Carter Family

The Carter Family, A.P, Sara and Maybelle stand tall in the annals of American Folk Music as well as Country Music.  They contributed many of the songs every struggling folk guitar player must learn in order to be considered a folk singer.


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Another Anti-Choicer Admits Real Purpose Of TRAP Laws

From Right Wing Watch:  http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/another-anti-choicer-admits-real-purpose-trap-laws

by Miranda Blue
on Friday, 1/24/2014

The latest issue of Rolling Stone has a great article by Janet Reitman about the anti-choice movement’s new embrace of incremental measures to “chip away at reproductive rights in a way that will render Roe‘s protections virtually irrelevant.” We also covered this strategy in depth last year in our report, “ Chipping Away at Choice.”

Reitman discusses how anti-choice groups, most prominently Americans United For Life, are pushing incremental state-level measures that are billed as “health and safety” protections for women, but are really meant to chip away at the legal foundations of Roe in the long term and close abortion clinics and reduce access in the short term. Just this week, AUL released its annual handbook for lawmakers, which is full of legislative proposals for “TRAP” — targeted regulation of abortion providers — laws that limit access to abortion without directly challenging Roe.

One flaw in this strategy is that it relies on the anti-choice movement to radically change its talking points on abortion. AUL, for instance, rarely talks about outright criminalizing abortion. Instead, they talk about “ protecting women” from the “abortion industry” by over-regulating abortion clinics and forcing women to jump through hoops before terminating a pregnancy.

But not everyone in the movement has such message discipline. Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, a radical anti-choice group, told Reitman that he had changed his tactics to embrace TRAP laws because “ I want to win.” Last year, Phil Burress, a main proponent of an Ohio bill that required abortion providers to have “admitting privileges” to a local hospital, admitted that the goal of the bill was to put abortion clinics “out of business.” Last month, a pastor who said he was behind a similar admitting privileges bill in South Carolina, said the purpose was to regulate clinics so much that it makes abortion unaffordable to the average woman.

Now we can count Phyllis Schlafly among the anti-choice activists who hasn’t fully digested AUL’s new talking points. Last week Schlafly discussed the anniversary of Roe v. Wade with AUL’s Clark Forsythe, who deftly deployed his group’s messaging about “helping women to understand the short-term and long-term risks of abortion.” But Schlafly was having none of it. Instead, she announced that she recommends states pass “admitting privileges” bills because such laws  had closed clinics in Missouri and Texas and are “one of the most effective means of reducing abortion.”

Complete article at:  http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/another-anti-choicer-admits-real-purpose-trap-laws

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