Are Warren and Sanders the Same?

The first Democratic debates will take place next week. While viewers won’t get to see Warren and Sanders debate directly, many will be watching to see if they represent different politics or just different styles. More at Vox.

A lot of people who I think are serious socialists in some more profound way put a lot of stock in the putative ideological contrast between Sanders & Warren, but Bernie keeps making it clear that his “socialism” New Deal liberalism just like Warren’s politics.

But the starkest apparent point of contrast lies in how the two candidates describe themselves ideologically. Sanders calls himself a socialist; Elizabeth Warren identifies as a capitalist. The two ideologies, as traditionally conceived, are, on paper, diametrically opposed. You either believe that the productive constituent parts of the economy should be controlled by workers themselves or the state or you do not.

The angry, old man socialist routine isn’t working out so well for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). As I’ve been anticipating for several weeks, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is catching up to him, at least in two polls. In the Economist/YouGov poll, since last week former vice president Joe Biden is down one point but leads nationally with 26 percent; Warren, however, gained five points in a week and Sanders lost four, leaving them at 16 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Is the Buttigieg Marriage Radical or Conservative?

The button-down, homey marriage of Pete and Chasten Buttigieg has drawn a lot of coverage throughout Pete’s campaign. From the TIME magazine cover (titled “First Family”) to criticisms that they aren’t “gay enough,” the Buttigieg’s relationship has received a unique type of scrutiny for being both too radical and too conservative.

…the unmistakable heraldry of “FIRST FAMILY,” alongside the rest of the photograph — the tulips; the Chinos; the notably charming but insistently generic porch; the awkwardly minimal touching that invokes the most uncomfortable, unfamiliar, culturally-heterosexual embrace any of us have ever received — offers a vision of heterosexuality without straight people. It is, significantly, a heterosexuality without women. Why might “we” want this, now?

Two months ago, when they kissed during the event that marked the formal beginning of Pete’s presidential campaign, one headline called it a “radical moment.” But what has happened since — their daily and sometimes hourly displays of the commitment, respect and brimming sentiment that go into the best romantic partnerships — is more significant and potentially transformative.

It’s worth recognizing and celebrating queer people’s increased freedom to assimilate in ways previously unimaginable. Same-sex couples, thanks to the LGBTQ movement’s staggeringly quick bending of the American moral arc, now have an easier path toward starting their own families and comfortably receding into the banality of family life. The U.S. has become more progressive, and more willing to endow its queers with enough tradition for them to secure some American normality. The Buttigiegs’s successful embrace of such tradition does not relegate them to some sphere of heterosexuality; it instead evinces this progress.

Twitter Drama: Was John Cusack’s Tweet Antisemitic?

Actor John Cusack has found himself in hot water after retweeting an anti-Israel image with perceived antisemitic tropes. Here’s how Twitter has reacted:

[Palestinians] are forced to live in an open-air prison. That’s not anti semetic to say that – that recognizes their plight as part of the fight for justice.

John Cusack says he didn’t at first realise that the image was anti-Semitic. My, it’s a troublesome old blind spot for progressives, isn’t it?

Trump retweeted a neo-Nazi meme featuring a Jewish star on a pile of money.

John Cusack retweeted a neo-Nazi meme and quote featuring a Jewish star and added the words “follow the money”.

You can tell a lot about someone if they pretend only one of these things is anti-Semitic.

Is Vaccination Legislation a Matter of Religious Freedom?

New York has passed legislation ending exemptions to mandatory vaccines on religious grounds. The legislation is controversial and may come to effect Orthodox Jews in particular. Is this a step forward for public health or a step back for religious freedom?

The Jewish Bible is scrupulous in demanding protecting against communicable diseases such as leprosy. There is nothing in Jewish law that requires the parents to turn their children into “typhoid Marys,” infecting friends, family, classmates and neighbors. The claimed religious argument is rejected by the vast majority of rabbis of every denomination, including by the vast majority of ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic rabbis. Only a handful of marginal rabbis preach this anti-Jewish and anti life philosophy.

Respect for religious belief is a core American value embedded in the Constitution, but so is protecting the population’s welfare. Unvaccinated schoolchildren are not only a threat to themselves. They jeopardize the health of classmates who cannot be vaccinated because of medical risks and classmates for whom a vaccine does not produce sufficient immunity. As the Supreme Court has made clear, freedom of religion does not include the right to jeopardize the health and safety of others.

It is odd to me, too, that so few have discussed the way in which the coverage of measles cases in New York makes effortless use of tropes about Jews as somehow unclean or contaminated and thus requiring a mandatory purification by the authorities. This is not the first time that black hats and long beards have become outward signifiers of an unspeakable interior pollution.

Should You Be Afraid of Facebook’s New Cryptocurrency?

Facebook has introduced its own cryptocurrency, “Libra.” Coming from a company suffering a crisis of trust among its users, the introduction of a cryptocurrency is being looked at with skepticism. What’s Facebook’s endgame in minting its own digital cash? More at Wall Street Journal.

Apparently Facebook has already forgotten how allowing anyone to build on the Facebook app platform and its low barriers to “innovation” are exactly what opened the door for Cambridge Analytica to hijack 87 million people’s personal data and use it for political ad targeting.

But in this case, it won’t be users’ interests and birthdays that get grabbed. It could be hundreds or thousands of dollars’ worth of Libra currency that’s stolen.

Libra is nothing more than a brazen attempt to override national monetary sovereignty by creating a global-scale Federal Reserve equivalent — within which Facebook’s dominance is veiled by the cunning use of buzzwords like blockchain, DLT, decentralisation and cryptocurrency.

This ambitious project is an excellent advancement for humanity, which, according to Libra’s whitepaper, will help provide 1.7 billion adults who are left outside of the traditional banking system to gain access to financial services and cheap capital. This will also lower global transaction costs and will ease commerce around the world.

Is It Possible to Ban Gender Stereotypes from TV Ads?

The U.K. has passed comprehensive new legislation banning harmful gender stereotypes in TV ads. Is such a ban possible to enforce? Furthermore, does it amount to government censorship?

Time will tell how the regulations play out in the U.K., but it’s a good thing the U.S. hasn’t adopted any similar rules. Consumers are free to criticize ads they dislike, from Nike’s Colin Kaepernick endorsement to Gillette Venus’ promotion of an obese model.

But the government has neither the expertise nor the responsibility to monitor the effects of commercial advertisements. If consumers dislike an ad, they can still sign a petition. And advertisers, not the government, should pay attention.

Changing the way we present women in advertisements can help change the way we look at women in real life, and we’re here for it. The real way hair dryers and washing machines can revolutionize a woman’s life is by not talking down to her.

Britain’s guidelines raise questions about enforceability and practicality, said Beth Egan, an associate professor of advertising at Syracuse University. Until the ban is tested, Egan said, it’s hard to predict where the line will be drawn “between what’s a gender stereotype and what’s a representation of real life in the real world.”

Today’s Hot Issues

Are Warren and Sanders the Same? Is the Buttigieg Marriage Radical or Conservative? Twitter Drama: Was John Cusack’s Tweet Antisemitic? Is Vaccination Legislation a Matter of Religious Freedom? Should You Be Afraid of Facebook’s New Cryptocurrency? Is It Possible to Ban Gender Stereotypes from TV Ads?