Five Best Friday Columns
Rebecca Traister on the idiocy of hating Sheryl Sandberg, Annie-Rose Strasser on bitcoin privilege, John Cassidy on Joe Biden for President, Ross Douthat on happy atheists, and Greg Sargent on the fading Obamacare issue.
Rebecca Traister at The New Republic on the idiocy of hating Sheryl Sandberg. In a Foreign Policy column, Rosa Brooks implores women to "recline." Traister writes, "Her revolutionary proposition: Women should curl up in a La-Z-Boy, take a nap, and read a novel before they burn out, drop out and leave the workforce with even fewer women than it already has." Brooks "hates" Lean In author and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg for pushing women to do more — they should fight for their right to do less. But Traister explains, "Over the past forty years, a combination of capitalist drive, technological advancement, the absence of social policy to support gender equality in the workforce, antifeminist pushback that’s made 'parenting' (mothering) a full-time pursuit and the failure to equally reconfigure domestic expectation has put women on a 24-hour-day hamster wheel of overextension and undernourishment. But none of this — none of it — is the fault of Sheryl Sandberg." National Journal reporter Lucia Graves tweets, "This, this, this."
Annie-Rose Strasser at ThinkProgress on bitcoin privilege. "Every once in a while — most recently with the collapse of online exchange site Mt Gox — the world starts paying attention to bitcoin, the hacker-project-cum-digital-currency that has garnered the love of a certain subset of people on the internet," Strasser writes. "Who are those people? According to an online poll from Simulacrum, the average user is a 32.1-year-old libertarian male. By users’ accounts, those men are mostly white." She continues, "the political ideology of bitcoin users is evident from the fact that the whole idea behind bitcoin is that it segregates economic markets and currency from a country’s government. ... They're the same people who want to 'end the Fed.'" Strasser argues that bitcoin users can afford to put money in an unstable exchange — they're white, wealthy, and male. Harvard Law scholar Sarah Jeong tweets, "This is off-base garbage ... Sure, bitcoin is by the privileged and for the privileged. So is sovereign currency. That’s kind of how money and privilege work."
John Cassidy at The New Yorker asks, why not Joe Biden? "Vice President Joe Biden is running for president in 2016," Cassidy writes. "That is, he's thinking about it seriously. That is, he's not going to let Hillary Clinton, her fearsome political machine, or Jim Messina, his boss’s former campaign manager, make his decision for him. That is, he considers himself more than a match for Hillary, but he's not oblivious to the polls showing her way, way ahead of him. That is, what the heck, he's 71, he's still full of energy, he's served President Obama loyally, he loves the game, and he thinks — pundits and pollsters be damned — that this might be the moment for an old-school, shit-kicking, hand-grasping, mouth-running, stick-up-for-the-working-stiff pol like himself," Cassidy explains. "With Clinton riding so high, the expectations for a Biden candidacy would be low, which means that he wouldn’t have much to lose."
Ross Douthat at The New York Times on the return of the happy atheist. In a response to Adam Gopnik's New Yorker essay on fading faith, Douthat writes, "Among polemicists and philosophers alike, there’s what feels like a renewed confidence that all of the issues — moral, political, existential — that made the death of God seem like a kind of 'wound' to so many 20th century writers have somehow been neatly wrapped up and resolved and can now be safely put aside." Douthat continues, "I had some critical things to say about Gopnik’s essay, but I think he does get at a couple of reasons for the return of the happy atheist," like the growing prestige of evolutionary biology as "the queen of the contemporary sciences." Secularism has weaknesses "below the waterline," Douthat argues, but for now, atheists are happy without god.
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post on the fading Obamacare issue. "Here's something to keep an eye out for: Republican candidates in 2014 who, when discussing health care, sound an awful lot like the most ardent supporters of the Affordable Care Act," Sargent argues. "It's ... worth watching what Republican candidates and incumbents actually say and do on health care, for a clue to the nuances of how the politics of the issue are really playing," he writes. "It's also possible we're now seeing the beginnings of how Obamacare fades as an issue. Republicans abandon repeal and start rhetorically accommodating parts of the law and/or its overall moral goals, without offering their own solutions, and it slowly bleeds into something of a wash ..." National Journal editor Ron Fournier recommends the post.