Ron Paul Liberty Report

Every single human being is a one-of-a-kind creation. There are no carbon copies.The way that each of us look at, and interpret the world, is completely unique to ourselves. When any event occurs, your explanation to yourself about what it means will be influenced by your prior experience, by what you've been taught in the past and accepted as true (even if, in reality, it is false).

Since no human individual is all-knowing or omnipotent, it means we all walk around with some level of ignorance. We all carry falsehoods between our ears, and we're all responsible for replacing them with the truth if we want the best that life has to offer.

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To understand more fully what is happening, we need the guidance of two great thinkers, Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. They teach us a vital lesson. Civilization depends on the international division of labor. To destroy the division of labor would plunge us into chaos. Life as we know cannot survive under a system of economic autarky.

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The danger to Liberty has always been, and always will be, power.

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While major military exercises have been cancelled in Europe due to coronavirus fears, the US has decided to continue with war games in the Middle East aimed at making war on Iran. On the home front, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is using the virus to fight a hybrid war on Iran and other US 'enemies.' Will kicking them while they're down really work to our advantage? More sanctions on suffering countries?Streamed LIVE Mar. 24, 2020

With nearly one-third of all Americans on government-enforced lockdown and the National Guard pouring into the streets, it's a good time to take stock of the coronavirus scare and the real nature of the threat. What is our most important investment as the markets crash?Streamed LIVE Mar. 23, 2020

'Shut down' the economy? Would government even think of such a thing without a Federal Reserve? Most likely not. Bailout just about everyone? Could government even think of such a thing without a Federal Reserve? Of course not! Every government and Federal Reserve "solution" comes with a promise for a bigger future economic crisis. The Fed is doomed to fail.Streamed LIVE Mar. 20, 2020

As with everything else, the government is making the coronavirus outbreak much worse. Rep. Thomas Massie, one of the few original thinkers in the US House believes government should step out of the way and let the free market address demands for things like testing kits. Plus, Massie briefs the Liberty Report on the ongoing threat to our civil liberties posed by the PATRIOT Act as it has been temporarily renewed. Don't miss today's program!Published Mar. 19, 2020

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Ron Paul Liberty Report

Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

mar 25, 2020 The Voice of a Tyrant: Los Angeles Mayor Tells Nonessential Businesses We Will Shut You Down The freedom of business owners to operate their businesses and of employees to continue working at their jobs is under attack in America in the name of fighting coronavirus. read on...

mar 23, 2020 Speaker Pelosi's Daughter Encourages Violence Against Senator Rand Paul In a bizarre and deeply disturbing Tweet, Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, has responded to Senator Rand Paul's (R-KY) announcement that he had tested positive for coronavirus by applauding the violent and life-threatening2017 attackon Senator Paul by his neighbor,Rene Boucher. read on...

mar 23, 2020 Twitter Is Using Extreme Scare Tactics to Discourage People from Looking at Coronavirus Information First, the Twitter company went on a rampage banning Twitter posts and people from the social media platform, largely targeting tweets and people who do not fall in line with ideas pushed by the United States government and US mainstream media. read on...

mar 22, 2020 CENSORSHIP by Medium of Analysis of Covid-19 Spread and Policy Daniel McAdams, executive director of theRon Paul Institute, sent me a link to an essay at Medium about the spread of COVID-19 and the proper policy. read on...

mar 21, 2020 Will the People Vote Out Politicians Instituting a Coronavirus Crackdown? Governments at the local, state, and national levels in America have been instituting this month increasingly draconian crackdowns on the public in the name of fighting coronavirus. read on...

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Rand Paul Tests Positive for Coronavirus Days After His Father Dismissed Panic Over the Disease as a Hoax – Newsweek

Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul's father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, penned an article titled "The Coronavirus Hoax," just six days before his son became the first U.S. senator to test positive for COVID-19.

"Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19," Paul's office announced on Twitter Sunday. "He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person."

Paul's office said that the senator "expected to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time." They also noted that no staff has been in contact with Paul as his D.C. office went remote 10 days ago.

Prior to Paul's diagnosis, a recent article titled "The Coronavirus Hoax," by his father Ron Paul was published on March 16. In the piece, Ron Paul said that "governments love crises because when the people are fearful they are more willing to give up freedoms for promises that the government will take care of them."

He also called Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, the "chief fearmonger" who "did his best to further damage an already tanking economy," when Fauci appeared on the TV program Face the Nation.

"Over what? A virus that has thus far killed just over 5,000 worldwide and less than 100 in the United States?" Ron Paul wrote.

"By contrast, tuberculosis, an old disease not much discussed these days, killed nearly 1.6 million people in 2017. Where's the panic over this?" he also said, before adding that individuals should "ask themselves whether this coronavirus 'pandemic' could be a big hoax."

Although he went on to say that the disease isn't "harmless," Ron Paul also noted that governments have overhyped a "threat as an excuse to grab more of our freedoms" in the past.

Newsweek reached out to the Ron Paul Institute for comment.

Last August, Rand Paul tweeted that he underwent surgery to remove part of his lung after it was damaged in an assault that took place two years prior. The surgery may elevate Paul, 57, to the status of a high-risk coronavirus individual.

Earlier this month, Paul, a licensed physician, voted against a bipartisan $8 billion emergency coronavirus funding bill. He was the sole senator to vote against.

As of Sunday, there were over 311,000 confirmed coronavirus cases globally, with over 13,000 deaths and at least 93,000 recoveries.

The U.S. became the country with the fourth-most number of cases this weekend following China, Spain and Italy after domestic confirmed cases exceeded 26,000, with at least 340 deaths and 176 recoveries.

Updated 7:48 PM ET, with the headline amended.

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Rand Paul Tests Positive for Coronavirus Days After His Father Dismissed Panic Over the Disease as a Hoax - Newsweek

Rand Paul and the Stench of Entitlement – European Interest

If you want to understand everything that is wrong with American politics and society, but are tired of the Trump show, Rand Paul might be a good place to start. Paul is the junior senator from Kentucky so, believe it or not, is actually the more decent and compassionate member of that unfortunate states senate delegation, but given that the other senator from Kentucky is Mitch McConnell, that is not saying much about Paul.

For much of his life, both inside and outside of politics, Paul has been a devout Libertarian. He is the son of former Libertarian presidential candidate, and current quack, Ron Paul, so Rand Paul, who was named after the high priestess of Libertarianism-and deeply mediocre novelist-Ayn Rand, came to his Libertarian from a very young age. In recent years, like many in his party, Paul has moved away from whatever odd principles he once had in favor of fealty to Donald Trump.

Senator Paul recently became the first member of the senate to announce that he has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. According to a statement his office released on Sunday, Paul, is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. If you are reading this and are able to take a test out of an abundance of caution because of extensive travel and events raise your hand. I dont think many American hands went up. The US has been so slow getting tests out that many people who have symptoms are not able to get tested, but Paul a powerful, well-connected and wealthy man was able to get the front of the line. At no point has Paul expressed any recognition that the president he so faithfully follows has worked hard to deny other Americans the ability to assuage concerns similar to Pauls.

Paul, like virtually every other member of his party made no effort to restrain, or even contradict, a Republican president who has spreading disinformation about the virus

In the days leading up to deciding to be tested for the Coronavirus, Paul continued to go about his life more or less as usual. Even after being tested, but before getting the results, Paul conducted his business as a senator, worked with staff and other members and did minimal social distancing. In doing that he exposed countless others to the virus, putting their health and lives at risk. Additionally, Paul, like virtually every other member of his party made no effort to restrain, or even contradict, a Republican president who has spreading disinformation about the virus.

Pauls reckless behavior may have directly affected dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people, but for every high profile senator like Rand Paul who ignored the warnings right up until he became concerned for his own health, there are thousands of Americans who continue to be misinformed by Donald Trump and his enablers in politics and media. These people are unable to get a test when they are concerned, and, in many cases, like Paul have spent weeks ignoring the reality of the Coronavirus crisis and therefore accelerated the spread of the disease.

Rand Paul is an angry, unpleasant, hostile man who has been educated and indoctrinated far beyond his intelligence and who has sacrificed whatever limited integrity he once had at the feet of an unstable and dangerous president. He is now suffering from a deadly illness in no small part because of his own ignorance. However, I wish that he, like all sick people, have a speedy and quick recovery. If he recovers, the test of Pauls meager intellect, and indeed humanity, will be if he recognizes that parroting scientifically bankrupt ideas for fear of upsetting a deeply troubled president is condemning others, who do not have access to early testing or good medical care, to death.

Lifting social distancing policies will lead to an extremely significant increase in deaths. However, a growing number of Republicans think that is okay if it helps the economy and therefore Trumps reelection chances

Unfortunately, that reality still escapes most Republicans whether in government or media. The proof of that is the extent to which conservatives sought to downplay the Covid-19 crisis and their subsequent failure to defer to those who understood pandemics and how to fight them. Moreover, those previous failures are in danger of being compounded exponentially as Republicans including Donald Trump and numerous others are advocating lifting social distancing policies and recommendations because of the effect it is having on the stock market.

This is an extraordinarily short-sighted, murderous, immoral, and for lack of a better word, idiotic idea. Lifting social distancing policies will lead to an extremely significant increase in deaths. However, a growing number of Republicans think that is okay if it helps the economy and therefore Trumps reelection chances. This is simply evil, but it also reveals a level of stupidity that is exceptional even in the Trump era. Do they not realize that two million deaths will lead to economic disruption and fear that would make the current economic downturn look like a Sunday school picnic?

Trump and Paul share a core inability to accept scientific reality when it gets in the way of either ideology or partisan interest, as well as an astonishing inability to recognize how this pandemic is already affecting millions of Americans. These two powerful politicians are completely buffeted from the economic uncertainty and lack of access to healthcare that frame the crisis for the rest of us. Thus, it is no surprise that they can blithely issue statements about getting tested because they are concerned or say things like we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem. Like most Republicans Paul and Trump know and clearly dont care that the lives and livelihoods that are lost because of their decisions are unlikely to be their own.


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Rand Paul and the Stench of Entitlement - European Interest

Sen. Rand Paul Reveals He Has Coronavirus – The Daily Beast

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who was the only senator to oppose a coronavirus relief package last month, announced Sunday that he has tested positive for the virus.

He is feeling fine and is in quarantine, an announcement on his Twitter said. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events.

It added, He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time.

In addition to being the only senator to vote against an $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus package, Paul also was one of the eight senators who voted against paid sick leave in a stimulus bill that passed with an overwhelming 90-8 vote last week.

I think that the paid sick leave is an incentive for businesses to actually let go employees and will make unemployment worse, Paul, a physician who has a Kentucky-issued medical license, explained to Newsweek.

CNN reported that Paul closed his Capitol Hill offices over a week ago and urged employees to work from home due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. Two people who attended the annual Speed Art Museum ball in Kentucky with the senator on March 7 later tested positive for the virus, according to the Courier-Journal.

But despite reportedly being tested roughly a week ago, Paul continued to interact with colleagues and even worked out at the Senate gymand was swimming in the poolon Sunday morning, shortly before he received his positive test results, Politico reported.

Paul is the first senator to test positive for the novel coronavirus. Two other members of Congress, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Ben McAdams (D-UT), have also gone public with positive test results.

According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is particularly dangerous for people with lung problems. In August 2019, Paul had part of his lung removed after an altercation with his neighbor Rene Boucher. The two had a long-running dispute over lawn care.

On March 2, Paul appeared on Fox News and downplayed the global threat of the coronavirus.

While it is worldwide, I think there is room for optimism that this thing may plateau out in a few weeks and not be as bad it as it may have been portrayed, he said to host Neil Cavuto. Weve seen pockets of this around the world and even in Italy and Iran where we have it, but none of it is approaching what started in China.

When asked about institutions taking larger measures to limit the spread of the virus, Paul was resistant to the idea. I think closing down the Smithsonians would be way too premature and I wouldnt advise something like that.

And when Cavuto asked Paul about making personal adjustments to avoid infection, the Senator was particularly defiant. I mean, I fly all the time and Im not cutting back on my flying... I was on a plane today, he said. I could be wrong and this could be really bad in two or three weeks or a month, but Im hoping its not going to be. Im not ready to buy all the toilet paper at Target.

The senators father, Dr. Ron Paul, a physician and a former Republican congressman from Texas, published an essay called The Coronavirus Hoax last week for the New River Valley News, a local outlet based in Virginia.

People should ask themselves whether this coronavirus pandemic could be a big hoax, with the actual danger of the disease massively exaggerated by those who seek to profitfinancially or politicallyfrom the ensuing panic, the elder Paul wrote.

As of Sunday afternoon, there are 30,000 COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and nearly 400 people have died.

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Sen. Rand Paul Reveals He Has Coronavirus - The Daily Beast

Like freedom? Then you won’t like the FREEDOM Act – The Highland County Press

By Dr. Ron PaulFormer CongressmanThe Ron Paul Institutehttp://ronpaulinstitute.org/

Last Monday, a bipartisan group of senators and a coalition including libertarian and progressive activists thwarted a scheme to ram through the Senate legislation renewing three provisions of the USA FREEDOM Act (previously known as the USA PATRIOT Act).

The bill had already been rushed through the House of Representatives, and most expected it to sail through the Senate. But instead, Senate leadership had to settle for a 77-day extension.

Senate leadership was also forced to allow consideration of several amendments at a later date. Included is Sen. Rand Pauls amendment that would forbid the FISA court from issuing warrants targeting American citizens.

Deep state supporters claim the expiring business records provision (which authorizes the collection of our communications and was at the center of Edward Snowdens 2013 revelations), lone wolf provision (which allows government to subject an individual with no known ties to terrorists to warrantless surveillance), and roving wiretaps provision (which allows government to monitor communications on any device that may be used by a targeted individual) are necessary to keep Americans safe.

But since Congress first passed the PATRIOT Act almost 20 years ago, mass surveillance, warrantless wiretapping, and bulk data collection have not stopped a single terrorist attack.

The legislation does have reforms aimed at protecting civil liberties, but these new protections contain loopholes that render the protections meaningless. For example, the bill requires those targeted for surveillance to be notified that the government spied on them. However, this requirement can be waived if the government simply claims not proves but just clams that notifying the target would harm national security.

The notice provision also only applies to the target of an investigations. So, if you were caught up in a federal investigation because a coworker is being targeted and you shared an office computer, or if a store clerk reported to the government you and others bought pressure cookers, the government could collect your phone records, texts, and social media posts without giving you the chance to challenge the governments actions.

The bill also makes some reforms to the special FISA court, which serves as a rubber stamp for the intelligence community. These reforms are mainly aimed at protecting political campaigns and candidates. They would not stop the FISA court from rubber-stamping surveillance on organizations that oppose the welfare-warfare-surveillance-fiat money status quo.

Anything limiting warrantless wiretapping and mass surveillance should be supported. However, nothing short of repeal of the USA FREEDOM Act will restore respect for our right to live our lives free of the fear that Big Brother is watching.

The path to liberty, peace, and prosperity starts with eliminating all unconstitutional laws and returning to a system of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, sound money and a foreign policy that seeks peaceful commerce and friendship with all instead of seeking new monsters to destroy.

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Like freedom? Then you won't like the FREEDOM Act - The Highland County Press

Against the coronavirus corporate bailout | TheHill – The Hill

Americans should oppose the nearly $2 trillion corporate bailout bill masquerading as stimulus currently under negotiation in the U.S. Senate. This profligate spending will do little to help the American economy or average citizens in the long run. But the additional debt added to an already whopping $1 trillion 2020 federal deficit will plague taxpayers for years.

Long-run thinking, though, is not in vogue in Washington, D.C. Perhaps our president, senators, and U.S. representatives are beyond hope. Perhaps they have fully embraced state control of the economy. The American people have not and if our elected representatives vote yes on this rushed and unholy bill, we should vote no on them in the fall.

We are in a dramatically deflationary period, with vast parts of the U.S. economy shut down due to the COVID-19 virus. More money and more cheap credit cant stimulate anything in such an environment, because money and credit arent goods and services. It can and will, however, saddle future generations of Americans with more debt misery and entrench a standard of moral hazard for corporations from which free markets may never recover.

The correct response to the current economic crisis is simple and painful. First, get America back to work as soon as possible. Humanitarian concerns and economic concerns are not in conflict; in fact, they are closely linked. An economic depression is far deadlier than any virus, and tradeoffs are required.A poorer America is an America with far worse public health.

Second, allow existing bankruptcy and insolvency processes to run their course. Bailouts are not the answer, new owners who can turn companies around are. Corporate assets, contracts and products dont disappear in bankruptcy. Yes, there will be pain as many (not all) existing employees lose their jobs. But executives and boards of failing companies should lose their jobs first and foremost, and new shareholders should seek clawbacks of ill-deserved bonuses and stock compensation.

Again, this will not be pretty but shareholders, not taxpayers, must bear the economic burden when companies fail.

As with most emergency spending legislation, this proposed bill is lengthy and its details are fuzzy. But todays Wall Street Journal sums up the whole sordid process nicely: Lobbyists Pile On to Get Wins for Clients Into Coronavirus Stimulus Package.

Among these opportunities: $500 billion in business loans from the U.S. Treasury, which means backed by you and me. Seventy billion dollars is earmarked for airlines and their suppliers, including Boeing, Delta, United and General Electric.

Airlines especially deserve scrutiny for approaching the public trough. Several reportedly spent more than 95 percent of their free cash flow in recent years on stock buybacks. That money was wasted, vaporized by the drop in their share prices over the last week. If they need money now, they have several choices: Borrow, sell stock or sell airplanes. Theirs is a particularly cyclical and volatile industry; dont executives remember the falloff of travel after 9/11? Why dont they hold more operating cash?

The unasked question lurking underneath the Senate bill is this: How do we pay for it all? Congress doesnt have $2 trillion to spend, and 2020 tax receipts wont begin to cover the bill. This means the federal government will effectively print the money, likely in a circuitous way by issuing new Treasury debt and using the Federal Reserve Bank as a backstop to buy it all if investors wont. And what sort of investor wants to loan Uncle Sam money for 10 years at less than 1 percent interest anyway?

At least Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersAgainst the coronavirus corporate bailout The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden seeks to counter Trump on coronavirus Largest public sector union endorses Biden MORE (I-Vt.) is more honest: He thinks government simply should give Americans money every month, with or without a crisis. We now see plainly that congressional Republicans agree with him, at least conditionally. What a sad state of affairs.

If the bailout of 2008 had worked, U.S. companies would not need a bailout today. They would have thanked their lucky stars then, and focused on building healthier balance sheets with more cash and less debt. Let new owners, not American taxpayers, save them today.

Jeff Deist, former chief of staff for Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), is president of the Mises Institute, a non-profit think tank that promotes teaching and research in the Austrian school of economics.

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Rand Paul Proves He Is Too Good For Us, As He Upsets the Right People – The Liberator Online

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is notorious for being a principled voice for limited constitutional government. Even better, he amuses us with how swiftly he induces tantrums among the political establishments flunkies.

Aside from President Donald Trump, its Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who is usually the face of evil for liberals. But on Tuesday night, an NBC News story, based on two anonymous McConnell-linked sources, redirected the ire squarely on Paul.

What did the libertarian ophthalmologist-turned-politician do to deserve this? He did his job.

Paul proposed an amendment to the coronavirus bill being rushed through the Senate after passing the House 363-40. For those keeping track, libertarian-leaning Republican Thomas Massie didnt vote, and libertarian-leaning Independent Congressman Justin Amash voted present.

Pauls amendment, according to NBC News reporter Julie Tsirkin, was officially summarized as: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require a social security number for the purposes of the child tax credit, to provide the President the authority to transfer funds as necessary and to terminate United States military operations and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.

Twitter is littered with righteous indignation constantly, but Tuesday night, it was mostly directed at Paul. And it was mostly thanks to the NBC News story poorly co-written by Tsirkin.

Before getting into the catty tone of the article, lets consider the actual concerns people have with Pauls amendment.

First, isnt there a national emergency going on? Now isnt the time for nitpicking whats legal under the Constitution or how Congress appropriates funds. Theres no time for delay, were led to believe.

The answer to this critique is short, because there simply is no delay in voting beyond a few minutes just because an amendment is proposed. All of this drama is just political theatre, with McConnell aides directing the show.

Second, and perhaps more reasonably, it may be asked what the war in Afghanistan has to do with this coronavirus. That almost begs the question though. Why is Congress leaping to this hot new political commodity known as a coronavirus when theyve skirted their true duties for so long?

Beyond the deadly Afghanistan misadventure being a drain on financial resources, its worth investigating how human resources are wasting away, mired down in that desert. In Syria, most of the U.S. troops are from the South Carolina National Guard. Might be nice to have them here!

Here Paul is doing the job all the other senators are supposed to be doing. Unfortunately for him, it doesnt fit into the narrative most comfortable for the political and media elites.

As a result, we end up with junior high school level journalism weaponized against patriotic dissent.

Paul is notorious for forcing votes on amendments he knows will not pass, the NBC News story goes.

It concluded in a similar fashion: He even briefly caused the government to shut down in 2018, using a procedural tactic to block the Senate from meeting the deadline to keep the government open because he objected to the price tag.

Both of these statements are lies, though the authors probably believe them. Its a sure sign of the deep divisions in the country.

Whether its the 9/11 Victims bill, the Ukrainegate impeachment failure, or foreign aid, Paul consistently upsets the right people by doing the right thing. This doesnt mean Paul is perfect, but it does mean Americans should appreciate his special role in Washington, DC.

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Rand Paul Proves He Is Too Good For Us, As He Upsets the Right People - The Liberator Online

Forget the headlines, millennials are just fine with capitalism – Washington Times


Super Tuesday is in the rearview mirror, and former Vice President Joe Biden is on track to snatch the nomination from Sen. Bernie Sanders. But try as he might, Amtrak Joe cant seem to get millennials on board with his campaign.

In every entrance and exit poll known to man, Mr. Sanders leads handily among twenty- and thirty-somethings. Commentators have bemoaned this persistent youth support for Mr. Sanders as the death knell of moderate Democratic politics, and the start of a noisy, disruptive division within the partys ranks. But contrary to popular speculation, this is more fealty to brand loyalty than it is the ultimate triumph of socialism.

In fact, the youth are fickle on the hammer and sickle. Political prognosticators and future presidential candidates: Take note.

By now, nearly everyone has seen the headlines proclaiming that millennial socialism is on the rise. This received wisdom just feels right. Most of us can conjure images of latte-sipping, hipster-glasses-wearing Marxists who feel the need to deconstruct everything, including their Dr. Praegers California veggie burgers.

Millennials are indeed hip to the s word, and according to the widely reported results of a 2019 YouGov/Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation survey, 70 percent of the age cohort is at least somewhat likely to vote for a socialist candidate. Compare that to 44 percent for Gen Xers and 36 percent for boomers, and the generational disconnect appears quite jarring. The polls other findings, however, paint a completely different picture. An encouraging 50 percent of millennials have at least a somewhat favorable view of capitalism, not far removed from the 58 percent approval or 63 percent approval granted by Gen Xers and Boomers, respectively.

These seemingly irreconcilable findings are actually pretty normal. According to this 2014 Reason-Rupe survey, 56 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 53 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds approve of capitalism compared to 51 percent among 45- to 54-year-olds. At the same time, 58 percent of Americans ages 18-24 back socialism, nearly double the 30 percent approval afforded by those in the 45-54 bracket.

And when you dive into the questions in the survey, it seems many of these millennials are just superficial socialists without a thorough understanding of the ideology. When Reason-Rupe asked millennial respondents which system capitalism or socialism they liked better, the former edged out the latter 52 percent to 42 percent. And when the words capitalism and socialism were subbed out for free market economy and govt managed economy respectively, the pro-capitalism response jumped to a respectable 64 percent, while socialism shrank to just 32 percent. Drilling down further, theres just not much evidence to suggest that Americas young adults are sold on class warfare.

When asked on a scale from 0 to 100 whether government in Washington ought to reduce the income differences between the rich and the poor via redistribution, Americans ages 18-29 have held remarkably steady at around 60 (moderately in favor of the proposition) over nearly 50 years. Meanwhile, the average for all Americans hovers in the mid-50s, making young Americans just slightly more woke than the typical citizen. And in 2018, just 22 percent of Americans ages 18-34 took the strongest possible position that the government should reduce income differences, compared to 21 percent of 35- to 49-year-olds and 20 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds.

Turns out, your oat-milk-sipping hipster friends have plenty of mundane, boomer-esque views about the economy once the veneer of socialism is stripped away. In fact, they have the very understandable, capitalistic impulse toward brand affinity. As famed political prognosticator Nate Silver points out, the support bases of Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul are very similar: young, white, male, secular and poor-ish, despite the two candidates embracing polar-opposite ideologies.

The brand appeal of two rambling old dudes with simple, consistent messages cannot be overstated, regardless of message. As a former campaign worker actively involved in the good doctors 2012 presidential bid, I see a great deal many similarities between Dr. Paul and Sen. Sanders campaigns. Some of Dr. Nos most steadfast supporters paid heed to maybe one or two of Dr. Pauls cherished beliefs, but were mainly there for the ride. And I dont blame them. It was fun screaming Ron Paul Revolution! Give us back our Constitution! and doing battle with smug, sweater vest-clad Rick Santorum supporters.

This thrill up the leg not ideological rigor best explains why millennials and college kids are so pumped about Bernies candidacy. Adulting may be hard, but it doesnt take reading thick ideological tomes to recognize the many benefits of capitalism. And by all indications, Americas young adults get the basic, big picture: Free markets and limited government deliver the good stuff. Boomers neednt be deluded by scary headlines proclaiming otherwise.

Ross Marchand is a Young Voices contributor.

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Forget the headlines, millennials are just fine with capitalism - Washington Times

How Tulsi Gabbard Became the Last Woman Standing in the 2020 Presidential Race – Vogue

It's been a turbulent election season for female candidates, from Kamala Harris's relatively early exit from the 2020 presidential race to Amy Klobuchar's more recent withdrawal and ensuing endorsement of Joe Biden.

As more and more female candidates exited the field, many voters who hoped to see a woman in the White House rallied around Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, only to see her suspend her campaign this Thursday. That leaves just one woman in the raceHawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbardand a whole lot of questions about how she's made it this far.

Gabbard's campaign has always been something of a slow burn, with many voters seemingly unaware that she's actually still in the race; after all, she hasn't been present at recent Democratic debates, and she walked away from Super Tuesday with only two delegates. So what is it that keeps Gabbard's campaign going, when far better-funded candidates like Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have dropped out?

It's unlikely that Gabbard will manage to overtake frontrunners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, although she does share some political views with the latter; she backs Medicare for All, though not to the extent that Sanders does, and believes in free college and reducing defense spending.

However, progressive voters have been slow to rally behind Gabbard, in part because of her ties to anti-Muslim Hindu nationalists, controversial past stances on LGBTQ+ rights, and support from conservative figures like Steve Bannon and Ron Paul. Gabbard is currently polling at roughly 1%, but the support she does command seems indefatigable even in the face of near-certain defeat.

Who are the people that make up Gabbard's support base, and what are they thinking as the race narrows? When asked what sets Gabbard apart from other candidates remaining in the field, Michelle Hunter, a cosmetologist and Gabbard volunteer based in Oklahoma City, praised Gabbard's leadership skills: "The message of peace and love and respect that [Gabbard] shares is really important to me. I pay close attention to her interviews and I have never seen her interrupt anybody or let anybody interrupt her."

Hunter is one of what she describes as a "handful" of volunteers for Gabbard in Oklahoma City, and she notes that on Super Tuesday, Oklahoma polled twice as high for Gabbard as any other state. "If we can get that done with just five, six, seven volunteers, imagine what we could do with more resources," Hunter told Vogue on Thursday.

Hunter points to a "media blackout" as one of the reasons Gabbard hasn't performed better, but even in an increasingly tight race, she feels a connection to a candidate she sees as a fellow outsider: "My whole life I've been told that I don't have a voice," said Hunter, adding, "If I gave up every time someone told me I would fail, my life would suck."

Now that Elizabeth Warren has left the race, Bernie Sanders's campaign is the most high-profile example of a political nonconformist corralling widespread support with the American public; nonetheless, Gabbard has thus far resisted the temptation to follow Marianne Williamson in exiting the race and endorsing Sanders.

A clue as to why Gabbard is still in the race may be found in a 2019 speech she gave, telling a crowd, "Im not running for president to be president. Im running for president to be able to bring about this sea change in our foreign policy that is so necessary for us and for the world, and Im most qualified to do that."

While Gabbard might not yet have effected the kind of "sea change" she might have hoped for, her sheer determination to stay in the race even as more widely popular candidates pack it in certainly sends a clear message: Don't count her out, because she's in it for the long haul, and so are her supporters.

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How Tulsi Gabbard Became the Last Woman Standing in the 2020 Presidential Race - Vogue

If Sanders is Robbed of the Nomination, It’s Time for the VotePact Strategy – CounterPunch

Right now, the entire Democratic Party apparatus and allied corporate media are working to ensure that Sen. Bernie Sanders does not get the Democratic nomination even if he gets a plurality of delegates and votes in the primaries.

The Democratic Party establishment seems to be gearing up for a brokered convention which will anointan establishment candidate with the nomination.

This risks fracturing the party and effectively paving the way for a second term for Donald Trump.

Obviously progressive forces will try to stop these eventualities, but a plan is needed if they arise.

There are two obvious responses:

Burn it Down: The impulsive thing to do would be to want to burn down the Democratic Party. Its possible that the establishment of the Democratic Party would be OK with this they seem to fear a President Sanders more than the fear another term of Trump. So, people would stay home or vote for a third party or independent candidate who openly states that they have virtually no chance of winning.

Cave In: Others might insist that no matter how badly the Democratic Party establishment treats its voters, they need to get in line come November and vote for whoever the nominee is. This is euphemistically referred to as hold your nose and voting. People have done this for decades and its typically resulted in the corporate wing of the Democratic Party becoming more and more powerful.

The first of these will be disastrous because it will help Trump.

The second will be disastrous because it effectively surrenders control of the Democratic Party to the corporate wing, probably for the foreseeable future.

But there is a third choice: The VotePactstrategy.

With theVotePact strategy, in the general election, disenchanted Democratics team up with a disenchanted Republicans. They pair up: spouses and friends and coworkers and neighbors and debating partners and ex-facebook friends. Instead of the two of them voting for candidates they dont want, they pair up and vote for the third party or independent candidate of their choice.

If theres an anti establishment ticket that appeals to both left and right think something like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul it could bring together a transpartisan united alliance from across the political spectrum against the establishment candidates. (Yes, Trump is and always has been an establishment candidate, his rhetoric to the contrary.)

Thus a shrewd thing for Sanders supporters to do in the short term is to reach out to anti establishment Republicans: To try to get them to vote for Sanders if he does get the nomination and to get them to pair up and vote independent with them if he doesnt.

The great thing about this is that putting it on the table now lessens the chances that it will have to happen. That is, the Democratic establishment, by trying to stop Sanders, is effectively saying to Sanders supporters: You have to vote for the Democratic nominee no matter who it is. Otherwise, youre helping Trump.

The truth of course is that the Democratic establishment is effectively helping Trump by undermining Sanders in this way.

But having VotePact on the table now makes it clear to all concerned: Sanders supporters do have another path. They dont have to attack the party or capitulate to its establishment. They can make a VotePact with a Republican and vote in a manner that is both principled and super strategic.

Sam Husseini is the founder ofVotePact.org.

Continued here:

If Sanders is Robbed of the Nomination, It's Time for the VotePact Strategy - CounterPunch

Vote pact – The News International

Vote pact

Right now, the entire Democratic Party apparatus and allied corporate media are working to ensure that Sen Bernie Sanders does not get the Democratic nomination even if he gets a plurality of delegates and votes in the primaries.

The Democratic Party establishment seems to be gearing up for a brokered convention which will anoint an establishment candidate with the nomination.

This risks fracturing the party and effectively paving the way for a second term for Donald Trump. Obviously progressive forces will try to stop these eventualities, but a plan is needed if they arise.

There are two obvious responses:

Burn it Down: The impulsive thing to do would be to want to burn down the Democratic Party. Its possible that the establishment of the Democratic Party would be OK with this they seem to fear a President Sanders more than the fear another term of Trump. So, people would stay home or vote for a third party or independent candidate who openly states that they have virtually no chance of winning.

Cave In: Others might insist that no matter how badly the Democratic Party establishment treats its voters, they need to get in line come November and vote for whoever the nominee is. This is euphemistically referred to as hold your nose and voting. People have done this for decades and its typically resulted in the corporate wing of the Democratic Party becoming more and more powerful.

The first of these will be disastrous because it will help Trump. The second will be disastrous because it effectively surrenders control of the Democratic Party to the corporate wing, probably for the foreseeable future.

But there is a third choice: The VotePact strategy.

With the VotePact strategy, in the general election, disenchanted Democratics team up with a disenchanted Republicans. They pair up: spouses and friends and coworkers and neighbors and debating partners and ex-facebook friends. Instead of the two of them voting for candidates they dont want, they pair up and vote for the third party or independent candidate of their choice.

If theres an anti establishment ticket that appeals to both left and right think something like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul it could bring together a transpartisan united alliance from across the political spectrum against the establishment candidates.

Excerpted from: 'If Sanders is Robbed of the Nomination, Its Time for the VotePact Strategy'.


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Vote pact - The News International

Here’s How You Can Help Kickstart the Next Bitcoin Bull Run – newsBTC

Whilst Bitcoin (BTC) awareness is slowly growing around the world, were still a long way from most folks understanding even basic information about the cryptocurrency. First impressions can be hard to break and early associations with the dark web and scams cast BTC in a bad light from the off.

Fortunately, evidence suggests that Bitcoin education is remarkably effective at creating interest in the digital asset. A recent survey shows that even a small amount of knowledge can be enough to change someones perception of the cryptocurrency.

A recent survey has revealed more about the average Americans feelings towards Bitcoin. Inspired by the annual Windfall Game former Texas Congressman Ron Paul plays, the survey sought less biased data from that which Paul receives.

The problem is that Paul asks Twitter users for their opinions. As author of the survey and BTC podcaster Brad Mills points out:

Its more a measure of how engaged Bitcoin evangelists are online we vote Bitcoin & share the poll to our Bitcoin loving networks.

This has led to Bitcoin emerging on top for the last three years. Bitcoins market capitalisation alone versus the size of the other asset classes suggest that Pauls results are not representative of wider US society towards BTC.

Noting this bias, Mills worked with market research specialists Hotspex to create the recent survey. It asked each participant to give information about their age, gender, and economic background, as well put the same question from the Paul Twitter survey to them, twice.

Between the two identical questions, participants received information about Bitcoins supply, its lack of correlation to other assets, its performance over the last decade, and other details relevant to its monetary policy. They also learned about dollar creation by the Federal Reserve and how much purchasing power had dropped over even recent history.

Of the surveys findings, perhaps most interesting is the impact a small amount of Bitcoin education can have on someone previously lacking interest in it. Initially, only 13.1 percent of participants answered that they would take Bitcoin as a ten-year position over any of the other listed assets.

After reading about BTCs monetary policy and scratching the surface of how the Federal Reserve works, a massive 38.4 percent said they would rather take Bitcoin. The results showed interest grew across all demographics too. For example, just 5.9 percent of boomers wanted the crypto when first asked. This rose to 27.2 percent by the end of the survey.

Evidently, Bitcoin education can be pretty effective at changing peoples opinions towards the digital asset. Any single individual with an interest in Bitcoin can be an educator, just as the podcasters, bloggers, or speakers at events can. Just be aware that theres a fine line between spreading useful knowledge and being dismissed as that guy who wont stop banging on about Bitcoin.

Related Reading: Top Trader: Recent Crypto Collapse Is Just Turbulence Before Takeoff

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Here's How You Can Help Kickstart the Next Bitcoin Bull Run - newsBTC

Afghanistan: ‘Thank Allah We’re Out of That Quagmire’ – Consortium News

The U.S. has been in deep denial. The war is over, it has been for a long time, and the U.S. lost, for all intents and purposes, writes Danny Sjursen.

Cadets assemble for President Barack Obamas Afghanistan policy speech at West Point, N.Y., Dec. 1, 2009. (White House, Lawrence Jackson)

ByDanny SjursenAntiwar.com

Happy Afghan War surrender day, fellas! So began my flippant group text (which was actually about a whole other topic) with the nine lieutenants who worked for me when I commanded a cavalry troop in Southern Afghanistan.

Now these guys, some still in the army, most long out, run the political gamut from centrist conservative to libertarian (verycommon among military officers) to mainstream liberal. None are as radical, or full-throated antiwar, as I am. Nonetheless, instructively, most responded with some albeit often sarcastic level of tacit support for any and all plans to (eventually, and hopefully) get the troops out of Afghanistan.

Furthermore, the fact that nearly all of them lost soldiers directly under their command in one of the wars most dangerous years, within one of the most dangerous provincesof the country, hasnt diminished this pro-withdrawal sentiment.

My artillery officer who Iprofileda couple years back in theAmerican Conservative responded first, with: Victory or loss, thank Allah were out of that quagmire. Then my first executive officer (XO), my second in command, made a joke about the artillerymans use of the word quagmire, asking, What would Rumsfeld say? (Bushs former secretary of defense famously eschewedthis descriptor for the Iraq War)

XOs thoughtful successor then wrote: Im really glad we are getting out. I hate that it will take 14 months, but Im thrilled. That former lieutenant of mine raised an important point. Much of the critical (and fair) response to my cautious social media support for Trumps peace deal centers around either the rather protracted withdraw timeline or, more generally, skepticism about the sincerity of the U.S. position.

To the first point, Adam Wunische at the Quincy Institute accurately noted:

President Trump will likely sell the U.S.-Taliban deal as a peace agreement and a U.S. military withdrawal. It is neither. The deal only reduces troop strength to 8,600 from 13,000 [for now], and Trump has said even minor complications will serve as justification to halt or reverse this reduction.

As to the second matter, the probity of the American commitment to meaningfully leave Afghanistan, there are other valid concerns. Not least of which are the secret annexes that appear to imply the U.S. will keep special forces soldiers, and, one assumes, CIA-backed militias, on the ground long after the combat troops are all out.

Added to the questionable mix is the minor fact that thepresidentof the ostensibly sovereign, Kabul-based state of Afghanistan wasnt evenpresentat the deals signing, and has alreadyreneged (an early, if predictable, first snag) on releasing some 5,000 Taliban prisoners as the U.S.-negotiated agreement called for.

Whats more, given the linguistic gymnastics that former President Barack Obama seemingly perfected about what, precisely, constitutes combat troops or, even what counts as a boot, or as the ground, it is increasingly difficult these days to believe much of what Trump or the national security state is pronouncing.

Finally, given the reportedlyvast, and coveted, mineral resources under Afghanistans undeveloped soil, its importance as a thoroughfare for keynatural gas pipelines, and its historic position of geopolitical import, many (rightfully) doubt whether Washington is really prepared to walk away from the region. All of that is fair, and crucial to parse out.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses Taliban peace deal gathering, in Doha, Qatar, Feb. 29, 2020. (State Department/ Ron Przysucha)

A Referendum on Trump

Also worrying is the likelihood that in this age of Trump-worship, Trump-hatred, and/or Trump-derangement syndrome, the situation in Afghanistan where American men and women are stillbeing killed, mind you will revert to just another public referendum on the competence and character of the president himself.

That would be a huge mistake. To wit, let me plea: please, MSNBC-Obama-squad liberals, dont make this critical moment all about bashing The Donald and thereby reflexively defaulting to a stay-forever, status quo position. Odds are they will, of course.

The really salient questions are twofold: could/would a different president (say Hillary the hawk, or Iraq War-cheerleader Joe B.) do any better with such a decidedlyweak military hand? And, what other option, besides eventual withdrawal, does Trump have with respect to this inherited war? Id submit the discomfiting answers are no and none, respectively.

Truth be told, I, like the crew over atQuincy, think the U.S. ought to have ditched the Afghan debacle long ago, and that a more rapid immediate, even comprehensive withdrawal is in order. Never trust the hyper-interventionist establishment when it whines about the inefficacy and supposed danger of a sudden troop exodus from a failed war. Thats never anything more than a sleight-of-hand canard for indefinite occupation.

Count me sympathetic to the plain, earthy logic of Ron Paul, when heasked, Why the dilemma? [regarding Iraq] and when he asserted, We just marched in, and we can just march out.

That was back in 2007! As in Iraq, so in Afghanistan, and as always: thats unlikely. Uncle Sam rarely, if ever, leaves a purportedly conquered country of his own volition. That just aint Sammys style. More often than not, the U.S. military requires an insurgent bouncer to toss it to the proverbial curbyou know, like the Vietcong, for instance.

Like it or not, this is where matters stand: Look, one way or the other, folks, the Afghan War is over, and has been for a long time. We lost, for all intents and purposes, by not achieving the governments (always fantastically) stated goals.

As a nation, but especially so for the bipartisan foreign policy establishment, weve just been in deep denial about that inconvenient truth. Bottom line: theres little left that the U.S. canaccomplish in Afghanistan, and thats been the case for at least a decade.

So, sure, theres lots to criticize about the worlds greatest dealmakers deal. Some will say it doesnt go far enough (it doesnt). The interventionist hawks on the other side will counter that it amounts to surrender (it kind of does). Still, theres scant alternative available other than for Uncle Sam to tuck his tail between the ole legs and beat feet out of the Afghan graveyard of empires.

To channel Ron Paul: why all the dramatic hoopla about this? After all, rumor has it, that in war, thelosersdont get to dictate the peace terms. Its time todealwith it

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer and contributing editor atantiwar.com. His work has appeared in theLA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, Truthdig, Tom Dispatch,among other publications. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War,Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. His forthcoming book,Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless Waris now available forpre-order. Follow him on Twitter at@SkepticalVet. Check out his professionalwebsitefor contact info, scheduling speeches, and/or access to the full corpus of his writing and media appearances.

This article is from Antiwar.com.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those ofConsortium News.

Please donate to Consortium News.

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Afghanistan: 'Thank Allah We're Out of That Quagmire' - Consortium News

Health Care Is On Coloradans’ Minds. This Is Where The 2020 Presidential Candidates Stand – Colorado Public Radio

George McHenry, 78, lives in Federal Heights and is also worried about prescription drug costs.A few years back, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He takes hormone treatments, which would cost more than $10,000 a month if he werent on Medicare.But McHenry, a reliably Democratic voter, considers himself lucky.

I'm aware that a lot of seniors cannot afford the cost of either drugs or care, McHenry said. And I think that's really terrible.

Maureen OMara-Sanzo, a 73-year-old from Highlands Ranch, describes herself as a conservative-liberal, or a liberal-conservative.Shes retired from the roofing industry and says her health and health care coverage Medicare, plus supplemental coverage are pretty good.But she worries about all the people who dont have health coverage they can afford and thinks people need more affordable insurance options.

It's a very crucial issue for people in terms of living and dying, she said.

President Donald Trump has promised to essentially defend the private insurance system.Hes staked out a position in opposition to Democrats, promoting an expansion of private Medicare advantage plans.

Last fall in Florida, Trump signed an executive order before a sign reading Great Health Care for You, to expand what medical savings accounts or MSAs, which some Medicare recipients make use of. In announcing the plan, he described Democrats Medicare for All as a disaster for seniors on the program.

"They want to raid Medicare to fund a thing called socialism, he said.

The Trump administration and its Republican allies in Congress have taken a number of steps to circumvent the Affordable Care Act.As NPR described last year, Republicans ditched the individual mandate, the requirement people get health coverage pay a penalty. The provision aimed to keep more healthy people insured in order to keep premiums low.

"We eliminated Obamacare's horrible, horrible, very expensive and very unfair, unpopular individual mandate. A total disaster. That was a big penalty, Trump said last fall.

The administration has taken other steps:allowing states to implement work requirements to Medicaid, ending cost-sharing subsidies to insurers, and slashing federal funding to programs aimed at helping people sign up for insurance on state exchanges.

One of the biggest moves came last spring when the Justice Department threw its weight behind a lawsuit aimed at invalidating the law.

Still, the ACA has proved resilient, with signups remaining fairly steady.

Bernie Sanders backs Medicare for All.The Vermont senators plan would expand the popular federal health program and essentially get rid of private insurance.Itd provide comprehensive care for everyone, with no out-of-pocket expenses. He says the average worker pays 20 percent of their income for health costs and his proposal would cut that sharply because we're eliminating the profiteering of the drug companies. And the insurance companies and ending this Byzantine and complex administration of thousands of separate health care plans.

Sanders has been criticized for not providing more specifics of how hed pay for his plans.He estimated on 60 Minutes last weekend that the cost of his plan would be $30 trillion over a decade.But questions remain about whether projected revenues would meet projected costs.

Sanders visited Colorado earlier this month, welcomed by a boisterous crowd of 11,000. In response to the rally, Colorado Republicans jumped on Sanders signature issue. Spokesman Kyle Kohli said the party is confident Sanders would find tough footing in the general election, due his support for the universal health care measure that Colorado voters rejected soundly in 2016.

Coloradans already made it loud and clear they have zero interest in Bernie Sanders government takeover of their health care, Kohli said.

In 2016, Sanders easily won the Colorado Democratic caucuses, capturing 59 percent of the vote, prior to a major overhaul of Colorados nomination process.

Elizabeth Warren also supports Medicare for All, although she proposes a more gradual transition.

Costs are gonna go up for billionaires, the Massachusetts senator said. They're going to go out for giant corporations, and out of pocket costs for middle class families are going to go down. It's costs that matter.

When she unveiled her plan in November, Warren said it would raise $20.5 trillion, but that middle class tax increases wouldnt pay for it.Instead, the funds would come from a variety of sources, including tax increases on the rich, cuts in spending on the military and payments to doctors. She said there would be considerable savings from a more efficient national system, in which administrative costs are expected to fall significantly.

Warren said by her third year in office, she aimed to pass legislation through Congress to complete the transition to full Medicare for All.

A number of big players in the health care world, including insurers, hospitals, drug companies and doctors groups oppose the sweeping changes in the plans of both Warren and Sanders as too far-reaching and too expensive.

Both Warren and Sanders say though their plans are expensive, theyll result in significant savings for consumers overall.

Joe Biden is among the many candidates in the Democratic field who balk at the ten-of-trillions price tag of a Medicare-for-All system. One recent poll showed a majority of Americans like both ideas, but more favor the public option.

It covers everybody. It's realistic and most importantly, it lets you choose what you want, the former vice president has said about his plan. On his website he describes it as protecting and building on Obamacare.Then-President Barack Obama signed the law into effect nearly a decade ago, on March 23, 2010.

His plan includes a public option proposal, which Biden argues would help bring costs down, without the disruption to the health system and patient care of Medicare for All. And it would give consumers a choice.

Bidens proposals echo those of some of the other candidates in the middle with goals like giving every American access to affordable health insurance, by expanding Medicare, promising a less complex system, and standing up to what his website describes as abuse of power by prescription drug corporations.Hed do that by letting Medicare directly negotiate drug prices and allowing for generally cheaper prescription drugs to be imported from Canada.

His approach has critics as well, as Politico reported when his plan was unveiled. Some progressives view the improvements hes aiming for as too cautious and incremental.Republicans blasted his plan as Obamacare 2.0, and a group of major health associations fretted that Medicare expansion would hurt hospital bottom lines.

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, has also come out as sharply critical of the more ambitious progressive push to expand health coverage. Medicare for All doesn't work because about 155 million people in America get their insurance from their employer. They want to keep it, Bloomberg told CPRs Colorado Matters earlier in February.

The hospitals and the doctors want to make sure that's still there as well because that's what subsidizes the people who are getting paid for by Medicaid and Medicare. He noted unions have often fought very hard and negotiated for medical benefits so they want to make sure that they continue to do that as well.

Hes also described Medicare for All as unfeasible and likely to win over key voters Democrats would need to prevail in the fall.

His plan, like Biden and others, would create a public alternative to private insurance. His website describes it as being administered by the federal government but paid for by customer premiums It aims to expand and improve on the ACA, by reversing what his campaign calls the Trump administrations attempts at sabotage.It would do that by boosting enrollment efforts, restricting the sale of skimpy health plans that dont meet ACA requirements and defending the ACA against politically motivated lawsuits.

Like Bidens proposal, Bloomberg too has drawn criticism for being too gradual.And Democrats in Congress have already been unable to get through some of his ideas, like ending surprise medical bills and lowering drug costs.

But Bloomberg touts his skills as a businessman to explain why he could succeed.

Look, in New York, I had a Republican Senate and a Democratic House and I got gay marriage through the Republican Senate. If I can do that, I can get a health care plan through a Republican Senate at a national level, he told Colorado Matters.

Pete Buttigieg also favors a more centrist approach.He backs a public option that he says would result in coverage for everyone, but that cuts cost.

The idea of my proposal, Medicare for all who want it, is that we take a version of Medicare and make it available to anybody who wants in on it without commanding people to adopt it if they'd prefer their private plan, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor said.

Buttigieg maintains his plan would incentivize private insurers to compete on price and bring down costs.If private insurers cant offer something dramatically better, the plan would create a natural glide-path to Medicare for All, according to his website.

To make health care more accessible, the Buttigieg plan would expand subsidies for low-income people to make insurance coverage dramatically more affordable for individuals and families.

Buttigiegs proposal has drawn fire for what critics have likened to a supercharged version of the mandate to buy insurance contained in the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.Under his plan, those who dont have coverage would be automatically signed up in the government program, which could cost them thousands. His campaign told the Washington Post the payments are justified because it allows a consumer to be insured throughout the year.

Amy Klobuchar favors building on the ACA.According to her website, she thinks the quickest way to achieve universal health care is via a public option that expands the government programs Medicare and Medicaid.

What I favor is something that Barack Obama wanted to do from the very beginning, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said about her proposal.

And that is a public option, a nonprofit choice that will bring down the cost of insurance.

The senator backs changes to the ACA to reduce consumer costs like making it easier for states to implement reinsurance, something Colorado launched last year with approval from the federal government.

Klobuchar stresses the importance of making prescription drugs affordable. According to her campaign site, Klobuchar has authored proposals to lift the ban on Medicare negotiations for prescription drugs.Shed also allow personal importation of safe drugs from countries like Canada, and stop pharmaceutical companies from blocking less-expensive generic products.

Some of the toughest criticism for some of the candidates comes from their rivals.For example, Warren blasted Klobuchars plan in a recent debate as being too thin, calling it a Post-it note, insert plan here.Of Buttigiegs health proposal, Warren said, Its not a plan, its a PowerPoint.

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Health Care Is On Coloradans' Minds. This Is Where The 2020 Presidential Candidates Stand - Colorado Public Radio

The immorality of US hegemony with Ron Paul – RT

We have a big interview for you this week. Ron Paul came on the show to discuss the multitude of corrupt practices that hold up the USA. Lee and Paul discuss the military industrial complex, the impending economic collapse, and the persecution of Julian Assange. But before the interview, Lee opens the show with fearmongering stories from the New York Times. He goes paper-shredding on their coverage of the coronavirus and a patently false story about how Bernie Sanders isn't bringing new voters into the Democratic Party.

Anders Lee finishes off the show by fact-checking the fact-checkers on one of the many stupid stories our corporate media chooses to focus on instead of discussing important issues. Michael Bloomberg's campaign released a video that had been altered with cricket sounds after he made the comment that he was the only candidate on the stage who had started a business. So, were there crickets on stage? There are two answers: No and "Why are you wasting your time with this story?"

YOUTUBEChannelRedacted Tonight

LIKERedacted Tonight atwww.Facebook.com/RedactedTonight

FOLLOWRedacted Tonight at@RedactedTonightand@LeeCamp


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The immorality of US hegemony with Ron Paul - RT

Ron Paul: Trump Does The Bidding Of Deep State – The National Memo

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

For many years, former Rep. Ron Paul was the most prominent libertarian in Congress often frustrating fellow Republicans by voting against their spending bills. Paul, now 84, left Congress in early January 2013 but still speaks out about politics. And in hisFebruary 24 columnfor the Ron Paul Institutes website, the Texas libertarian isvehemently critical of President Donald Trumpfor, as he sees it, throwing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the bus.

Paul hasnt always been critical of Trump. The former Texas congressman asserts that in 2016, Trump upset the Washington apple cart and set elements of the Deep State in motion against him. But Paul quickly adds that Trump has since become part of the Deep State he once challenged.

Trump loved it when WikiLeaks exposed the criminality of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party as it cheated to deprive Bernie Sanders of the Democratic Party nomination, Paul writes. WikiLeaks release of the (Democratic National Committee) e-mails exposed the deep corruption at the heart of U.S. politics, and as a candidate, Trump loved the transparency. Then Trump got elected.

Paul goes on to say that the real tragedy of the Trump presidency is nowhere better demonstrated than in Trumps 180-degree turn away from WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

According to Paul, Trumps administration is pushing for a show trial of Assange worthy of the worst of the Soviet era and the U.S. is seeking a 175-year prison sentence.

It is ironic that a President Trump, who has been (a) victim of so much Deep State meddling, has done the Deep States bidding when it comes to Assange and WikiLeaks, Paul laments. President Trump should preempt the inevitable U.S. show trial of Assange by granting the journalist blanket pardon under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.


Ron Paul: Trump Does The Bidding Of Deep State - The National Memo

Pardon the Interrupters: meet the ska-punks with an InfoWars problem – Telegraph.co.uk

At age 18, Aimee Allen climbed behind the wheel of her Pontiac Grand Am and left her home in Montana for the last time. Leaving behind a broken home, an abusive stepfather, and a spell in foster care, she trained her sights on the bright lights of Los Angeles. Parking her car in sight of the Hollywood sign, like thousands of others before her she plotted her course to the summit of the music industry.

The Interrupters are the fruits not of her success, but of her failure. Formed in 2011, the Angelino quartet came together at the point at which Allens career as a solo artist had rendered her lonely and broke. Her dream was to become the new Joan Jett, to whom she presented a bouquet of flowers at a concert in New York City my whole body was shaking, and I was sobbing, she said of the experience but after a decade spent wilting on the vine, it turned out that there was more power, and greater happiness, in a union.

I kind of feel that I was alone my whole life until I found The Interrupters, she says. But when I did, I finally felt like I was home. I was an orphan before, and now Ive got a family. And weve got each other. If a show goes badly, its on all of us; but if its great, then we all get to share that.

The Interrupters play a fluent and seamless mixture of modern ska and American punk rock. Prior to taking to the stages of increasingly large venues this month the quartet performed for 4000-people over two nights in London the band watch Dance Craze, a concert film from 1980 featuring performances from The Specials, The Beat, and The Selecter. On record and in concert, this 2-Tone template has been recalibrated by the Americans and dispatched across the Atlantic as if brand-new.

The curious thing about this is that a proportion of the groups audience is old enough to have bought singles such as Too Much Too Young and Mirror In The Bathroom on their days of release. As well as this, alongside the Fred Perry shirts and Harrington jackets are a sizeable contingent of young teenagers for whom The Specials are unknown history in the way that Van Halen are for Billie Eilish. With only three albums to their name, the range of ages on display at concerts by The Interrupters is the widest I have ever seen for an emerging act.

I take it as the highest compliment that in England we have people coming up to us after our shows saying I saw the Specials, I saw The Clash, and I love your band, says Kevin Bivona, the groups guitarist. The fact that they could even put us in the same sentence as those people is hard to wrap my head around.

On a cold and sunny February lunchtime, Kevin Bivona sits with Aimee Allen these days known as Aimee Interrupter in the downstairs lounge of The Interrupters double-decker tour bus. Parked outside the BBCs Maida Vale Studios, the band find themselves in Northwest London to record a five-song session for 6music. When the sound engineer in a soundproof booth isolates Bivonas Fender Telecaster guitar on the superior breakup song Gave You Everything I dont know why youre gone, I walk these floors like a country song its throttled precision sounds like something that could saw a car in half.

The pair are friendly, thoughtful, and, it seems to me, tight. When the singer requires new eyelash-extensions, so as to save time it is her band mate that buys them for her. Theyre also uncommonly wholesome; answers are peppered with words such as like and awesome you can take the band out of California, and all that - but are entirely free of swearing. This U-certificate approach even extends to the concert stage.

We make unity music, says the singer. We want everyone to feel like theyre part of a big family.

Its been 20-years since Aimee Allen arrived in Hollywood equipped with little more than a capacity to carry a tune. A waitress by day, each night she would stand outside clubs such as the Whisky A Go Go, The Viper Room, and the Roxy Theatre, on the Sunset Strip, and ask perfect strangers if theyd like to form a band. She survived these encounters unmolested, but admits today that I got really lucky.

She joined forces with an act called No Motiv with whom she played a concert that was seen by Randy Jackson, one of the judges on American Idol. Jackson promised to secure the group a recording contract. After a fashion, he did; Allen signed as a solo artist with Elektra Records in 2002.

It was at this point that her problems began. Despite working with producer Mark Ronson, Aimee Allen did not appear to be a high-priority for her new label. When Elektra was subsumed in a merger with Atlantic Records, her debut album, the fabulously titled Id Start A Revolution (If I Could Get Up In The Morning), was viewed by her new paymasters as surplus stock. 17-years on, it remains unreleased.

I wouldnt wish being a solo artist on anybody, she says. You have people on your payroll, and you dont know if theyre saying that youre amazing because they feel like they have to, or because its genuine Its really lonely because its just you. Theres nowhere to hide. I was just part of the major label machine [and] I felt like I was floating.

In 2008, Aimee Allen recorded the Ron Paul Revolution Theme Song we dont want big government, or the Bilderberg Group that pays for it - in support of Texan libertarian Congressman Ron Pauls independent bid for president. In the same year, she made the first of several appearances on Alex Jones deeply controversial InfoWars radio programme.

Ten years later, the show was removed from all online mainstream media platforms for, among other things, claiming that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings were fake, and that the parents of the 20-children murdered by gunman Alan Lanza were actors hired by the US government.

At the mention of Alex Jones and InfoWars, the temperature on The Interrupters tour bus seems to drop by about 15-degrees. A 10-second silence ensues, punctuated only by a gravid sigh of deep displeasure.

I just want to be very careful about how I answer [this], she says. Okay, yes, I regret it [appearing on the show]. But at the time, he [Alex Jones] wasnt what he became. Would I go on his show now? Hell no, obviously [But] I couldnt see the future. And, honestly, [at the time] he was just an underground conspiracy theorist. It was entertainment; it wasnt that big of a deal. I had no idea he was going to become a controversial hate-speaker. Do you know what I mean? I one hundred-percent disavow what he stands for.

One of the worst things as a musician is when you are just trying to get your music heard and somebody co-opts you to their agenda, says Kevin Bivona. It happens quite often and its something youve got to be careful of.

At this point, my interview with The Interrupters appears to be holed below the waterline. The singer says that she wants to set the record straight [but] in a way that isnt going to create more trouble for me, a response, surely, to an online article from 2014 that accused Aimee Allen of being a stooge of the alt-right, and of supporting racist positions such as Ron Pauls opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In a thoughtful and respectful response to the piece, Bivona wrote in reply that he failed to see how you can use a young persons [sic] 2008 political songs and a few interviews she did six years ago and apply them to a creative project they are involved with [today], when you dont even know them personally.

Its perhaps worth mentioning that other performers have also appeared on InfoWars, including Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins (more than once, as it goes). Its also worth noting that The Interrupters and I do recover the ground lost during our awkward moment. But if the band display a certain skittishness about being interviewed it is almost unheard of for the singer to be questioned alone this is probably the reason why.

In the days that follow, I receive two calls from the bands organisation, one of which asks if it might be possible for Aimee to expand on her position via email.

It was a traumatic time and I deeply regret going on that show, she writes. It became a vehicle for the type of hateful rhetoric that I stand vehemently against. I would never knowingly be associated with anyone expressing racist, homophobic or any other bigoted ideals. I spend all my energy spreading love and making unity music.

The singers 11-year career as a solo artist wasnt entirely shrouded in failure. Her debut album, A Little Happiness, released in 2009, clawed its way to the lower reaches of the US Billboard Heatseekers Chart. She also collaborated with Linda Perry on the song Save Me (Wake Up Call), recorded by the punk group Unwritten Law, and scored a top-10 hit on the alternative chart. But after a decade of struggle, these relatively modest returns were not what she envisaged when she left her Northwestern broken-home.

[When I left Montana] I was just so nave and so hopeful, she says. Where I had come from was bad; anything was better than where I was from. I had a tough upbringing [and] I never felt like I fitted in. I never felt like there was a home for me. Everything just felt so alien and I felt so unconnected to things. But when I listened to [punk rock] I realised that there were people out there who were like me. I just had to find them.

This happened when Aimee Allen met Kevin Bivona while on tour supporting Sugar Ray in 2009. A studio engineer, occasional roadie, and sideman for such acts as The Transplants and Travis Barker, the pair began writing songs together for the singers solo career. But the Montanan was tired of being out in the cold, and from this the idea of a band was born. The groups rhythm section arrived in the form of the guitarists younger twin-brothers, Jesse and Justin Bivona, on drums and bass respectively.

From the start, The Interrupters were an independent concern in the classic mode of Southern Californian punk rock. The band signed to Hellcat Records, founded by Tim Armstrong, the vocalist and guitarist with Rancid, who also serves as their producer. In turn, this imprint operates under the umbrella of Epitaph Records, the most successful and influential punk label of the past 35-years, owned by Brett Gurewitz, the guitarist with Bad Religion.

For anyone who believes that punk rock has endured beyond its initial 1970s heyday and clearly it has then, here, The Interrupters are rubbing shoulders with royalty. Both men are among the finest songwriters in the movements history I had a paperback crime running straight down my spine, wrote Gurewitz in The Devil In Stitches but, just as importantly, both are happy to let their artists run riot.

In 1994, with the genre finally part of the mainstream, Mr. Brett sided with the Epitaph band NOFX in their decision not to permit MTV access to any of their videos, at the likely cost of hundreds of thousands of album sales.

The access we have to punk legends is just crazy, says Kevin Bivona.

Along with Tim Armstrong and Brett Gurewitz, The Interrupters have also met with the approval of Green Day, who they will support on the Oakland trios forthcoming North American stadium tour.

But as with most punk rock groups of their kind, the success of The Interrupters has blossomed without anyone really noticing. Despite the groups last album being the finest ska-themed outing of its kind for more than 20-years, outside of the pages of the rock press this is the first time the band have been interviewed by a mainstream publication.

Being completely honest, where we are at right now is far beyond what I could ever have imagined when I picked up a guitar when I was a kid, Kevin Bivona has told me. I am so happy and grateful for all the success that weve had. I definitely dont want to put a ceiling on how big I want the band to get. I just want to be able to keep making the music and writing the songs, and doing exactly what we do. I want us to be as big as the universe will allow us to get.

Fight the Good Fight by The Interrupters is available now on Hellcat Records

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Pardon the Interrupters: meet the ska-punks with an InfoWars problem - Telegraph.co.uk

Judy Shelton and the – New York Sun

The way we think about the confirmation hearing tomorrow for economist Judy Shelton to be a governor of the Federal Reserve is as a test less of her than of the Republican Party. Is it going to make good on the platform on which President Trump stood for the presidency in 2016? That platform called for a more transparent and accountable Federal Reserve and a monetary commission to start looking at ways to improve our system.

Those campaign promises didnt just erupt out of the blue. They were born of the realization that the Federal Reserve bears a share of the responsibility for the Great Recession that started in 2007 and hobbled our recovery for much of the Obama era. Those were years in which the House of Representatives, in a bipartisan vote of 333 to 92, passed Congressman Ron Pauls Audit the Fed bill.

Dr. Pauls bill was only one of a number of measures designed to give Congress better tools to oversee monetary policy. After all, 100% of the monetary powers that the Constitution grants to the government are granted to Congress. Audit the Fed and other measures were finally sent, in late 2015, to the Senate, where, with the election coming up, the solons froze. They did so even though Mr. Trump campaigned for monetary reform.

Once elected, Mr. Trump seemed to change his tune. No longer did he talk about a false economy. Instead he plumped for easy money. Advocates of monetary reform wondered whether Mr. Trump had completely forgotten about his promises. His nomination of Ms. Shelton who has written, on the Wall Street Journals op ed pages, a body of brilliant commentary on monetary matters signals that he hasnt forgotten.

This, of course, has agitated the Democrats and other opponents of reform. In one of their most amazing dodges, they have been criticizing Ms. Shelton for seeming to endorse Mr. Trumps call for the ultra-low interest rates that the Democrats themselves favor as if to say, dont confirm her, she agrees with us. Tomorrows Wall Street Journal carries an important editorial sorting all that out.

Our own focus throughout this long debate has been less on what interest rates the Fed ought to set or other details of Fed policy. We dont feel qualified on that head. We are more focused on the strategic failures of the Fed; even its erstwhile chairman, Paul Volcker, argued before his death that the absence of an official, rules-based, cooperatively managed monetary system has not been a great success.

Meantime, we are reminded in the latest issue of Grants Interest Rate Observer, that the CBO is now calculating that the federal budget deficit between 2021 and 2030 will average $1.3 trillion and climb to 5.4% of GDP. Grants calls these unheard-of figures except in times of national mobilization for war. Our own view is that monetary reform is one of the ways Congress can start to put the brakes on the borrowing this will require.

We comprehend that it is not the job of a Federal Reserve governor to reform the monetary system. That is the part of Congress. Whenever during the Obama years congressmen asked about reform, though, they were met with truculence from Chairmen Beranke and Yellen. How refreshing it would be to have some members of the Fed board who arent so defensive about new ideas. Ms. Shelton seems made for the part, and her confirmation hearing will be as important as that of, say, a Supreme Court justice.


Judy Shelton and the - New York Sun

Big Swinging Brains and fashy trolls: how the world fell into a clickbait death spiral – The Guardian

In 2012, a small group of young men, former supporters of the libertarian Republican congressman Ron Paul, started a blog called The Right Stuff. They soon began calling themselves post-libertarians, although they werent yet sure what would come next. By 2014, theyd started to self-identify as alt-right. They developed a countercultural tone arch, antic, floridly offensive that appealed to a growing cohort of disaffected young men, searching for meaning and addicted to the internet. These young men often referred to The Right Stuff, approvingly, as a key part of a libertarian-to-far-right pipeline, a path by which normies could advance, through a series of epiphanies, toward full radicalisation. As with everything the alt-right said, it was hard to tell whether they were joking, half-joking or not joking at all.

The Right Stuff s founders came up with talking points narratives, they called them that their followers then disseminated through various social networks. On Facebook, they posted Photoshopped images, or parody songs, or countersignal memes sardonic line drawings designed to spark just enough cognitive dissonance to shock normies out of their complacency. On Twitter, the alt-right trolled and harassed mainstream journalists, hoping to work the referees of the national discourse while capturing the attention of the wider public. On Reddit and 4chan and 8chan, where the content moderation was so lax as to be almost non-existent, the memes were more overtly vile. Many alt-right trolls started calling themselves fashy, or fash-ist. They referred to all liberals and traditional conservatives as communists, or degenerates; they posted pro-Pinochet propaganda; they baited normies into arguments by insisting that Hitler did nothing wrong.

When I first saw luridly ugly memes like this, in 2014 and 2015, I wasnt sure how seriously to take them. Everyone knows the most basic rule of the internet: dont feed the trolls, and dont take tricksters at their word. The trolls of the alt-right called themselves provocateurs, or shitposters, or edgelords. And what could be edgier than joking about Hitler? For a little while, I was able to avoid reaching the conclusion that would soon become obvious: maybe they meant what they said.

I spent about three years immersing myself in two worlds: the world of these edgelords meta-media insurgents who arrayed themselves in opposition to almost all forms of traditional gatekeeping and the world of the new gatekeepers of Silicon Valley, who, whether intentionally or not, afforded the gatecrashers their unprecedented power.

The left won by seizing control of media and academia, a blogger on The Right Stuff, using the pseudonym Meow Blitz, wrote in 2015. With the internet, they lost control of the narrative. By the left, he meant the whole standard range of American culture and politics everyone who preferred democracy to autocracy, everyone who resisted the alt-rights vision of a white American ethnostate.

For decades, Meow Blitz argued, this pluralistic worldview the mainstream worldview had gone effectively unchallenged, but now, by promoting their agenda on social media, he and his fellow propagandists could push the US in a more fascist-friendly direction. Isis became the most powerful terrorist group in the world because of flashy internet videos, he wrote. If youre alive in the year 2015 and you dont understand the power of the interwebz youre an idiot.

To the posts intended audience, this was supposed to be invigorating. To me, it was more like a faint whiff of sulphur that may or may not turn out to be a gas leak. The post was called Right Wing Trolls Can Win. Would the neofascists win? I had a hard time imagining it. Could they win? That was a different question. The culture war is being fought daily from your smartphone, the post continued. On this one point, at least, I had to agree with Meow Blitz. To change how we talk is to change who we are.

During the long 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump seemed to draw on pools of dark energy not previously observed within the universe of the American electorate. The mainstream media used the catchall term alt-right, which appealed to newspaper editors and TV-news producers who hoped to connote frisson and novelty without passing explicit judgment. Instead of denouncing the alt-right, reporters often described it as divisive or racially charged. They tried to present both sides neutrally, as journalistic convention seemed to require.

The definition of alt-right continued to expand. By the summer of 2016, it was such a big tent that it included any conservative or reactionary who was active online and too belligerently anti-establishment to feel at home in the Republican party a category that included the Republican nominee for president. This was an oddly broad definition for what was supposed to be a fringe movement, and yet no one seemed eager to clear up the semantic confusion. The Clinton campaign played up the alt-rights size and influence, while the alt-right was all too glad to be perceived as vast and menacing. There was no way to measure precisely how many Americans were alt-right, and there never would be. Estimates ranged from a few hundred to a few million. Still, what mattered was not the movements headcount, but its collective impact on the national vocabulary.

Were the platform for the alt-right, Steve Bannon said in July 2016, when he was running the pro-Trump web tabloid Breitbart. Later that year, after leading the Trump campaign to victory and being tapped to serve as chief White House strategist, Bannon claimed that hed only meant to align himself with an insurgent brand of civic nationalism, not with ethno-nationalism. Yet a core within the movement still insisted on a narrower definition of alt-right, one based on explicit antisemitism and white supremacy. This core had always existed; no one who was versed in the far-right blogosphere could have missed it.

Mainstream journalists, or at least the ones who were paying attention, were daunted by the fiscal precarity of their industry, the plummeting cultural authority of their institutions, and the unpredictable dynamics of social media outrage. The more these threats loomed, the more journalists clung to one of the few professional axioms that still seemed beyond dispute: in all matters of political opinion, a reporter should strive to remain neutral. This is true enough, for certain kinds of journalists, when applied to certain prosaic debates about tariffs and treaties. When it comes to core matters of principle, though, its not always possible to be both even-handed and honest. The plain fact was that the alt-right was a racist movement full of creeps and liars. If a newspapers house style didnt allow its reporters to say so, at least by implication, then the house style was preventing its reporters from telling the truth.

Neutrality has never been a universal good, even in the simplest of times. In unusual times say, when the press has been drafted, without its consent or comprehension, into a dirty culture war neutrality might not always be possible. Some questions arent really questions at all. Should Muslim Americans be treated as real Americans? Should women be welcome in the workplace? To treat these as legitimate topics of debate is to be not neutral, but complicit. Sometimes, even for a journalist, there is no such thing as not picking a side.

In April 2014, looking for new story ideas, I attended a tech conference in a stylish hotel in Lower Manhattan. The conference was called F.ounders, a word that no one, including the founders of F.ounders, could decide how to pronounce. Half of us stammered over the stray full stop. The other half ignored it. It stood for nothing, apparently, except for the general concept of innovation.

At this point, Google owned almost 40% of the online advertising market, and Facebook owned another 10%. Some analysts were already warning that they might comprise a duopoly. Both companies business models, especially Facebooks, were built around microtargeting. Filter bubbles, in other words, were not a temporary bug but a central feature of social media. It was hard to see how the latter could flourish without the former. If filter bubbles were bad for democracy, then, were Google and Facebook also bad for democracy?

It was a fair question, almost an obvious one, and yet the cultural vocabulary of the time did not allow most people to hold it in their heads for long. The Arab spring of 2011 had been organised, in part, via social media, and was often called the Twitter revolution. Mark Zuckerberg had been named Times person of the year in 2010; in the hagiographic cover photo, his eyes were oceanic and farseeing, dreaming up ingenious new ways to forge human bonds. If some movies and books portrayed him as shifty, even a bit ruthless, it was still possible to imagine that ruthlessness, in the tradition of Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs, was merely the cost of doing business. Zuckerbergs motto, Move fast and break things, was generally treated as a sign of youthful insouciance, not of galling rapacity. Facebooks users more than a billion of them seemed happy. Its investors were delighted. If social media wasnt a good product, then why was it so successful?

At the time, it was still considered divisive (at swanky New York tech conferences, anyway) to wonder whether the be-hoodied young innovators of Silicon Valley might turn out to be robber barons. It was far more socially acceptable to extol the gleaming vehicle of technology to gaze in amoral awe at its speed and vigour than to ask precisely where it was headed, or whether it might one day hurtle off a cliff. Such questions had come to seem fusty and antidemocratic; people who spent too much time worrying about them were often dismissed as cranks or luddites. To a techno-optimist, there was only one way the vehicle could possibly be going: forward.

When it was founded in 2004, Facebook billed itself as an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges. Within a few years, this self-description had morphed into a far more grandiose mission statement: Facebook gives people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Mark Zuckerberg was careful not to call himself a gatekeeper. On the contrary, he portrayed himself as a Robin Hood figure, snatching power from the gatekeepers and redistributing it to the people, who could presumably be trusted to do the right thing.

The traditional gatekeeper media that held sway in the US in the middle of the 20th century was, inarguably, a deeply flawed system. The nations most prominent journalists, from celebrity newscasters to unheralded assignment editors, were, by and large, upper-middle-class white men in grey suits. Many were blinkered coastal elites, either too circumspect or too myopic to risk departing meaningfully from the socially acceptable narrative, even when elements of that narrative were misleading or flat-out false. But what if the fourth estate turned out to be, like democracy, the worst system except for all the others? If history was an arc bending inexorably toward justice, then there was no need to worry about any of this technological disruption could only lead the world more efficiently in the right direction. If history was contingent, however, then removing the gatekeepers, without any clear notion of what might replace them, could throw the whole information ecosystem into chaos.

At a F.ounders dinner, the seating algorithm placed me next to Emerson Spartz, a 27-year-old with the saucer eyes and cuspidate chin of a cartoon fawn. His bio described him as a middle-school dropout, a New York Times bestselling author and the founder and CEO of Spartz Inc, based in Chicago. I asked what his company made, or did, or was. Im passionate about virality, he responded. I must have looked confused, because he said: Let me bring that down from the 30,000-foot level. The appetiser course had not yet arrived. He checked the time on his cell phone, then cleared his throat.

Every day, when I was a kid, my parents made me read four short biographies of very successful people, he said. I decided that I wanted to change the world, and I wanted to do it on a massive scale. This was the beginning of what I would come to recognize as his standard pitch for Spartz, both the person and the company. Although he had an audience of one, he spoke in a distant and deliberate tone, using studied pauses and facial expressions, as if I were a conference hall or a camera lens.

I looked at patterns, he said. I realised that if you could make ideas go viral, you could tip elections, start movements, revolutionise industries. He told me that Spartz Inc specialised in fun stuff entertainment, not hard news. He called it a media company, but it sounded more like an aggregator and distributor of pre-existing content. The ability to spread a meme to millions of people, he continued, was the closest you can come to a human superpower.

As far as I could tell, Emerson Spartz wasnt using his memetic superpower either for good or for evil, exactly. He was using it mainly to monetise cat gifs. He told me that his company oversaw about 30 active sites, each serving up procrastination fodder for adolescents of all ages: Memestache (All the Funny Memes), OMGFacts (The Worlds #1 Fact Source), GivesMeHope (Chicken Soup for the Soul the 21st-century, Twitter-style version). The content was mostly user-generated and unvetted, and it just kept rolling in.

Even though Im one of the most avid readers I know, I dont usually read straight news, he told me. Its conveyed in a very boring way, and you tend to see the same patterns repeated again and again.

Still, he was happy to offer advice. Glancing down at my laminated badge for the first time, Spartz noticed that I worked at the New Yorker. For instance, heres how I would improve your product, he said. Way more images. Thats number one. Who has ever looked at a big long block of text and gone, Ooh, exciting? I tell my employees all the time: Every paragraph they write should be super-short, no more than three sentences. And I mean short sentences. Periods are better than commas. Boredom is the enemy.

I couldnt deny that this sounded like an effective recipe for a certain kind of success. And yet, I sputtered, if maximising clicks was the only goal, why would any magazine or newspaper need to employ fact-checkers or reporters, for that matter? Why not simply recycle press releases, rewriting the boring quotes to make them snappier? Why not replace all Syria coverage with Kardashian coverage? Why not forget about words altogether and go into something more remunerative, like video, or mobile gaming, or strip mining?

Spartz cocked his head and waited for me to finish my rant. Clearly, in his eyes, I was revealing myself to be a luddite. Its always possible to make a slippery-slope argument, he said. Those arguments dont interest me. Im interested in impact. Art without an audience was mere solipsism, he said. The ultimate barometer of quality is: if it gets shared, its quality. If someone wants to toil in obscurity, if that makes them happy, thats fine. Not everybody has to change the world.

Spartz, in his speeches, sometimes referred to himself as a growth hacker. In practice, though, he was more like a day trader, investing in memes that appeared to have momentum. Exactly where we find our source material took a lot of experimentation to get right, he said. But the core of it is simple: taking stuff thats already going viral and repackaging it. His proprietary algorithm scoured the internet for images and stories that seemed to be generating a lot of activating emotion (at least, according to the relevant metrics). The content producers then acted as arbitrageurs, adapting those images and stories into lists on Dose, his flagship site. Sometimes this required a bit of reassembly; other times, it was as simple as copying the source material in full, without bothering to rearrange any images or correct any typos, and then reposting it on Dose under a catchier headline.

In 2014, there were governmental regulations, imperfect though they may have been, preventing pharmaceutical companies from filling their gelcaps with sawdust, or public-school teachers from filling their lesson plans with Holocaust denialism. Media was different. For many good reasons, starting with the first amendment, the information market was relatively unregulated. And yet everyone knew the bromides, no less true for being trite, about how a democracy cant function without a well-informed electorate. In the near future, what was to prevent large swaths of the internet including the parts of the internet that used to be called newspapers and magazines from looking more and more like Dose? What was insulating the American press from a full-speed race to the bottom? Nothing, as far as I could tell, other than tradition and inertia and the capricious whims of the market.

Spartz was proud to make a living on the internet, he said, because it was the closest humanity had yet come to creating a pure meritocracy. At the 30,000-foot level, the internet is a giant machine that gives people what they want, Spartz said. How can you do better than that? It exposes people to the best stuff in the world.

I made the obvious rejoinder: it also exposes people to the worst stuff in the world.

Well, that would be your subjective judgment, he said, pique rising in his voice. Thats you paternalistically deciding whats bad for people. Besides, businesses exist to serve the market. You can have whatever personal values you want, but businesses that dont provide what the customers want dont remain businesses. Literally, never.

Once, Spartz told me, The future of media is an ever-increasing degree of personalisation. My CNN wont look like your CNN. So we want Dose eventually to be tailored to each user. On a whiteboard behind him were the phrases old media, Tribune and $100 M. He continued: You shouldnt have to choose what you want, because we will be able to get enough data to know what you want better than you do.

In Liars Poker, his 1989 Wall Street memoir, Michael Lewis described a newly ascendant, egregiously conceited type of alpha-male bond broker. This type had a name: they called each other Big Swinging Dicks. Everyone wanted to be a Big Swinging Dick, Lewis wrote, even the women.

A quarter of a century later, the A-list entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley occupied an analogous place in the American power structure, but their self-presentation was less aggressive. Instead of Greed is good, their aspirational bromides were Think different and Dont be evil. Instead of Dionysian feats of consumption Porsches and cocaine binges and morning cheeseburgers they drove electric cars and subsisted on seaweed and Soylent. They didnt deny themselves the pleasures of good old-fashioned capital, but they were equally covetous of social and intellectual capital. Their fondest wish was to be considered luminaries, Renaissance men, the smartest guys in the room. They were Big Swinging Brains.

There is much to discover on the Facebook, the online community for college students, a Washington Post reporter wrote in the papers Style section in late 2004. She did warn, however, that its all a little fake the friends; the profiles that can be tailored to what others find appealing; the groups that exist only in cyberspace. A few weeks later, Mark Zuckerberg, looking for investors, visited the office of the Washington Post and met with Donald Graham, the papers publisher and CEO. They agreed on a verbal deal: the Post would pay $6m for 10% of the company. Zuckerberg later called Graham in tears a Silicon Valley venture-capital firm had offered a more generous investment, and he was tempted to take it. Graham, impressed by the young mans display of rectitude, gave him his blessing to renege on the deal. Three years later, Graham joined Facebooks board of directors. Facebook has completely transformed how people interact, he said in a press release. Marks sense of what Facebook can do is quite remarkable.

In 2007, a Washington Post columnist lamented the rapid ascent of Amazon.com, which was so smart in the way they cater to human weakness, bad judgment, poor taste. In 2008, another Washington Post columnist wrote: I loathe Amazon even though I know it is the future and will prevail. In 2013, with revenue in decline, Donald Graham sold the Washington Post, which his family had owned and overseen for 80 years, to Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, soon to be the richest person in the world.

By that time, it no longer made sense to think of business and tech and media as separate entities. Business was tech, and tech was taking over everything: movies, TV, travel, journalism. Whether the nerd princelings of Silicon Valley understood themselves to be gatekeepers or not, it was becoming increasingly clear that their smallest impromptu decisions were having enormous downstream effects on how billions of people spoke and thought and, ultimately, acted in the world. To change how we talk is to change who we are.

I wondered whether they found this power burdensome, and if so, whether they found the burden humbling, or overwhelming the way I would feel over-whelmed if I woke up to discover that I had somehow been put in charge of the energy grid, or some other key piece of infrastructure that I didnt fully understand. Maybe Big Swinging Brains were constitutionally incapable of feeling overwhelmed. In any case, there was no law that said you had to understand a piece of social infrastructure in order to own it, or to break it.

Business was tech and tech was media. Content was content was content, and coders controlled the sluices through which all content flowed. The luminaries of Silicon Valley didnt hesitate to offer their bold opinions on almost every subject; and yet, when it came to basic questions about the future of media, their rhetoric turned fuzzy. Businesses should give customers what they want. Media companies should meet audiences where they are. Journalism should be objective and thorough. These truisms seemed unobjectionable enough until they came into conflict with one another, which happened all the time. What if your customers claimed to want rigorous, dispassionate journalism, but their browsing habits revealed that they actually wanted hot takes and salacious hate-reads? What if, in order to meet customers where they were, you had to bowdlerise your writing, or give up on writing altogether and pivot to video? What if quality and popularity were sometimes correlated negatively, or not at all?

In early 2016, I was invited to a lunch discussion in an executive boardroom. At the head of the table, a Big Swinging Brain one of the Biggest talked for more than an hour without touching his sandwich. He dilated on a wide array of topics (state healthcare exchanges, the future of the trucking industry, the financial panic of 1873), displaying uncanny recall and mental acuity. He acknowledged dilemmas and contradictions in his thinking; he even pointed out awkward conflicts between what he found preferable economically and what might be preferable civically, even morally. I began to wonder whether Id underestimated the BSBs. Maybe I should learn to stop worrying and love my overlords.

Then I asked him a question about the importance of good journalism and good art, the corrosive effects of bad journalism and bad art, and the best way to forestall the Spartzification of the internet. It seemed clear not just to me, but to anyone who was paying attention that things were drifting in an unnerving direction. How would humanity avoid a clickbait death spiral?

I dont think theres an answer to that, he said, his tone suddenly turning flinty. Apparently I had revealed myself to be a luddite. If I were in the media business, I would focus on making a product that people actually want. Because thats how business works.

I couldnt imagine him being so flippantly fatalistic about any other civilisational hazard that the free market had failed to address. The Renaissance men of Silicon Valley were known for spending an unusual amount of time and money addressing thorny problems, such as the achievement gap in American public schools and the excess of carbon in the atmosphere. They even invested millions of dollars in problems that hadnt come into existence yet, such as hostile AI. In 2016, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the nonprofit founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced its intention to help cure, prevent, and manage all disease in our childrens lifetime; several well-capitalised bioengineering start-ups, including a $1.5bn initiative at Google, went even further, resolving to cure death. But somehow the BSBs balked at the problem of addictive, low-quality clickbait. They had taken control of the media industry, then moved fast and broken it; now they claimed no responsibility for fixing it.

The techno-utopians of Silicon Valley assumed that all would be for the best in a post-gatekeeper world. This was possible, of course, but there was no way to be certain. Already, social media-optimised content mills were outcompeting sober policy journals and threadbare alt-weeklies. Pulitzer prize-winning reporters, unable to earn a living wage, kept fleeing journalism for jobs in PR or social media marketing. Even an alarmist like myself didnt presume that the Spartzification of the entire media ecosystem would happen overnight. Could it happen within five years? Fifteen? I tried telling myself that I was indulging in slippery-slope thinking, but this did nothing to allay my fear that we were already slipping.

This is an edited extract from Antisocial: How Online Extremists Broke America, by Andrew Marantz, published by Picador on 20 Feb and available at guardianbookshop.co.uk

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Big Swinging Brains and fashy trolls: how the world fell into a clickbait death spiral - The Guardian