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I know I should get away from doing these polls and get to actually writing something of value, but...they're just fun.

But, if you have seen my other polls so far, the same disclaimer applies: Proceed at your own risk.

Poll

If You Had to Participate in One of the Following, Which Would You Choose?

4%2 votes
2%1 votes
2%1 votes
2%1 votes
12%6 votes
12%6 votes
2%1 votes
6%3 votes
32%16 votes
16%8 votes
10%5 votes

| 50 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

So earlier today I posted a bit of a tragicomic poll, meant to bring people to grips with some dark thoughts.

So to bring things full circle, I thought I would try one more thought experiment.

Well not full circle in the straightforward sense.

Proceed if you dare.

Poll

What Do You Imagine This Scenario Would Be Like?

16%12 votes
32%23 votes
18%13 votes
4%3 votes
7%5 votes
12%9 votes
8%6 votes
0%0 votes

| 71 votes | Vote | Results

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I don't want to traumatize anyone here by the grotesque imaginings this question is about to unleash.

But, if you feel you have the fortitude, proceed to the poll question.

Poll

Who Would You Rather Have as President of the United States?

1%4 votes
2%6 votes
1%5 votes
3%9 votes
0%2 votes
1%3 votes
0%0 votes
1%5 votes
0%1 votes
0%1 votes
1%4 votes
1%3 votes
62%170 votes
21%57 votes

| 270 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

I think that, for many reasons that can be elaborated upon elsewhere, the country, meaning us The People, has a vested interest in making sure American companies create jobs here in the US, rather than moving them to other countries.

Of course, when it comes down to it, there is one very simple reason they choose to do this: it makes sense financially.

However, rather than making laws that force companies to do things that hurt them financially, I believe there are ways that we can shift the incentives, so that it pays for them to do what we want them to do. I think we can make changes to our policies that will create the incentives to bring jobs back from overseas. Plus, in a way that is politically feasible. Conservative or Liberal, I think most of us generally agree with ways to encourage companies to hire more American workers.

Here is one idea: Tie the proportion of tax deductions a company can claim to the ratio of American jobs to jobs in other countries.

This would only be effected once a company has determined how many deductions they can claim. So for example, a company that employs 100% American workers will be able to claim 100% of their deductions. A company that has moved half of their jobs to other countries would only get to claim 50% of their deductions. And that's it; no further loopholes from here.

Companies already enjoy a lot of tax deductions; we have heard of companies that manage to pay effective 0% tax rates. This may just provide another hurdle toward these endeavors, but at least it would also positively encourage making jobs American rather than in other countries.

Many of us Progressives don't often talk positively of companies sending their jobs overseas, or how they benefit from their extremely disproportionate tax subsidies. A policy like this would tie such hot topics to civic pride and social involvement. In this way, it would not simply be a battle against companies in ways that hurt their business, but effect their actions that serve to benefit as most of us as possible.

Of course, there are many technical issues that would need to be addressed for such a policy to be put into place (what counts as an overseas worker? Average over entire year so companies don't just fire all their overseas workers before end of the year). This is just meant to put the proposed idea out there.

Perhaps ideas like these will never be some groundbreaking paradigm shift, set to change the political landscape. But, what I hope this shows, is that we can find ways to build policies that we can promote, that will lead to more progressive change, and are also reasonably beneficial to all parties, enough to overtly avoid much of the partisanship that stymies change in these areas.

Poll

Tie Deductions to American Jobs:

62%10 votes
37%6 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes

| 16 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss
The Daily Show, Chaos on Bull**** Mountain
Bernie Sanders's announcement that he was running for President, and the ensuing fulfillment of the potential for a lively Democratic primary after all, got me thinking about primary season in general.

Specifically, I know that it is still months away from the thick of primary season, but I also can't help but remember how Reince Priebus and the GOP supposedly "fixed" the problems they had with their primaries the last time around, in 2012. Among their plans:

Hold the Republican National Convention much sooner.

As of now, there are two convention start dates under consideration. The first is June 27, Priebus' preference. The second is July 18, which the RNC would choose if, for example, the Cleveland Cavaliers were in the NBA championship ("100-1 odds," he said, barring the team signing Lebron James), or the stadium's food supplier or general counsel felt was the only workable date.
Guess it'll be in July.

Along with this plan is the general premise that the primary season will be much more condensed, including supposedly fewer debates.

Reflecting now, on these interesting decisions based on their 2012 defeat, along with the developments in the GOP side of things so far, I am left feeling, how do you say, sensing an impending schadenfreude the likes of which we may never have seen before.

Jed Lewison hit on some of the main points, even last year.

Romney's money problem wasn't that the calendar made it impossible for him to spend general election cash, it's that the only people he raised money from were big donors who maxed out, which meant half the money they donated couldn't be used until the general. If Romney had been able to raise money from small donors, like Obama did, he would have been able to use money earlier. Changing the convention date is solving for the wrong problem.

On the question of the length of the primary and the debates, it's hard to blame Reince for not being happy with how 2012 went down, but consider what might have happened had the primary calendar been condensed: Mitt Romney might not have been the last man standing. Sure, he might have embraced a different strategy, so we'll never really know, but what we do know is that Romney used the long 2012 schedule to his advantage. Not only that, he used the long debate schedule to his advantage, because each time one of his rivals had a strong performance, he came back in the next debate with an even better one.

Modern-day Nostradamus, this Lewison.

Let's square these observations from last year with some of what we have seen so far: multiple Tea-Party favorites giving establishment candidates a run for their money, but when I say their money, I mean their billionaire sugar daddies.

In today's Citizen's United landscape of no-holds-barred political fund-gineering, pitting such candidates against each other would already be bad enough for the optics of the Republican Party. But if they really wanted to go through with this plan of a shorter primary season, it would be all the more catastrophic.

Continue Reading

Cops these days have a wide assortment of weapons available to them, beyond the standard firearm. Many of those weapons are non-lethal.

There is pepper spray. There are tasers and stun guns. There are partners and backup. There is self-defense and hand-to-hand combat that they could conceivably be receiving as part of their routine training. Even with guns, there are rubber bullets and tranquilizers.

It seems like there are very few select instances where a police officer could reasonably use a gun over one of his non-lethal choices. On the other hand, it seems like there is ample evidence that the access that police officers have to guns leads to many sorts of undesired outcomes.

It is true that it would be hard to argue that if a police officer were facing a situation where he thought his life or someone else's life was imminently in danger, that he would choose a non-lethal weapon over a gun. However, it also seems inconceivable, to me at least, that if a police officer were faced with a situation where he thought his life or someone else's life was imminently in danger, and he did not have a firearm readily available, that he wouldn't find a way to use his non-lethal weapons to protect himself, either.

While it is reasonable to admit that there will always be situations that require an elevated response from police, they already have SWAT units dedicated for such purposes.

Perhaps I am being naive, but it really just seems to me that cops with guns doesn't seem all that better, all other things being equal, than cops without guns.

We already know that police officers in many other countries do not carry firearms routinely, yet still manage to maintain similar levels - or higher - of community protection. Of course, one could argue that most of these countries do not also have the same level of gun owners.

There can be an argument made that carrying a firearm is meant to be part of the crime-deterrent effect of police officers in general. Of course, it is not like we are living in a world completely devoid of violent crime. I feel like, for the extreme downsides that cops with guns represent, the upsides have not proven to be a fair tradeoff, in terms of crime deterrence. Furthermore, if it comes down to perceptions of the average citizen, I feel that I would have far more admiration for a police officer who believes he can perform his duties without such weapons, than for a police officer who believes such a weapon is necessary and should be relied upon regularly.

There is also the cultural effect and the perceptions, that are a bit harder to gauge, but probably indirectly play a role. I feel like living in a society where we take it as a given that we need our cops to carry guns to feel safe, it is going to be a lot different, not just with the cops but with people and media and society in general, than a society where we take it as a given that we don't want cops to carry guns and in fact want as few guns around as possible. I feel like the values would be different, the attitudes and reactions to given scenarios, as well as the overall acceptance of guns would be far different.

I get that it is not politically feasible to disarm our police force anytime soon. I get that making such extreme arguments is a quick way to obstruct meaningful discourse. I get that for a lot of people, the initial thought of a police force without guns may simply seem preposterous. The point of this diary is not to advocate for this outright.

This is more about questioning prevailing conventional wisdom.

When we are facing issues that are prominent these days, relating to police brutality and the role guns have played in recent situations, I feel like it is fair to ask if police even need guns in the first place. And I feel that taking the answers to such questions for granted closes off possibly constructive discussions we could be having, and possible ways to address a lot of the problems we want to actually take steps toward addressing.

Perhaps that is just me.

Poll

Police Officers With Guns:

50%11 votes
18%4 votes
22%5 votes
9%2 votes

| 22 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

Sun Apr 19, 2015 at 10:51 AM PDT

Atheists on CBS's Sunday Morning

by pierre9045

I would like to point you all to a really great piece on today's CBS This Sunday Morning about Atheism.

Atheists: In godlessness we trust

It was reported by Mo Rocca, who I must admit I have a fondness for, and this piece did not disappoint.

Among the subjects: a man who lost his family and job.

"Because around here, people are taught that morality comes from religion. So if you don't have religious beliefs, then you must not be a moral person."
And a black Atheist who talks of the pervasive religious presence within the African American community.
One man attending said, "Once you say 'I'm an atheist,' all the doors start closing. You can hear 'em."

Thomas told Rocca, "They often feel isolated, and so we help with that. You know, we don't want anybody feeling that they're alone in this."

One man said, "Among our community, the black community, what's the first thing women say they're looking for? A God-fearing man."

No surprise: Almost half of all Americans say they'd be unhappy if a family member married an atheist.

These are the types of stories those of us in the Secular community hear a lot about, but few outside ever come across.

The piece also includes Todd Stiefel, an active member in numerous Secular organizations including Foundation Beyond Belief, a secular charity organization, and how the group Openly Secular focuses more on changing public opinion on Atheists.

"It's about changing hearts and changing minds," said Stiefel. "It's about people realizing that we are somebody you don't need to fear. We're somebody you don't need to distrust."
Though brief, I felt this piece really gave a good impression of what it is like to live without belief, and especially some of the social costs that go along with it, something that even more in-depth pieces have a hard time conveying.

We often associate the idea of people being shunned by their community for leaving the religion to fringe religions like the Amish, or Jehovah's Witnesses, but it happens a lot in Atheism too. Hence, the language of being "in the closet" now comes up a lot when talking of Atheism, as well.

One of the hardest things about the conflict between Religion and Secularism in America is getting beyond the shouting matches over who is wrong and who is right, who has suffered more and who has been wronged more. What there needs to be is a way for both groups to find a comfort zone where each can feel engaged without feeling threatened by the other. The reality, though, is that for this ideal to be reached, one of the important message that must be conveyed is simply what it is like to live without religion with this country, and how it can be difficult at times, and why. This piece on an early Sunday morning TV show, though but one small piece in the continuing culture clash, does a good job of moving it along.

Discuss

One of the criticisms against Hillary, that often had the most legs, was how she hasn't really taken any definitive stances on important policy issues. Or any, apparently.

Sure, a clever tweet now and then, a smart calling out of GOP foot-in-mouth moments, but one would think a Presidential campaign would be a bit more than that.

Of course, the standard defense has been, "Well, she isn't officially running yet."

OK, so now that she is officially running, isn't it time now for us to start hearing about what her policy issues and stances are?

So here is her official campaign page.

There's links for donations, for volunteering, watching some videos about her campaign, a big giant link that only just brings you back to the same page, a fun continuation of the arrow motif, and a link to Hillary's story.

Most of the American public kinda already knows who she is, though.

Notice anything missing?

Nothing about issues, policies, what she will or won't do.

There have been a lot of great articles about the key moves and hires her campaign is making. Supposedly indicating the potential stance she will take. And clearly, she has learned how to talk the talk, on things like income inequality and economic populism.

But that is still not her political platform. Can we really say that Hillary is finally running for President, when there isn't anything she is actually running on?

In other words, the things people complained about her before she announced, how she doesn't really stand for anything? Seems like she still doesn't.

Just for kicks, I tried www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/.

hillaryclinton.com error page
Just thought I'd give it a shot.

Now, compare her website to her Republican counterparts.

Here is Marco Rubio's Issues page from his official campaign website. Like Hillary, he only recently announced his run. Not exactly all that sophisticated, but at least he's on the board.

Here is Rand Paul's Issues page. Holy cow, if anything, someone should help him streamline that a bit. Learn how to prioritize, buddy.

Here is Ted Cruz's campaign's home page. Oh, wait, it's not a .com? What happened to tedcruz.com?

posted on tedcruz.com
Hilarious.

Anyways, Cruz's website doesn't seem to delineate issues yet, but there are a few clear ones right there on the landing page. "Constitution, Stronger, Safer America, Life Marriage & Family, and Jobs and Opportunity." Now, I would advise against diving into any of these, but Cruz has clearly identified the key issues of his campaign. Out of all the other pages, I think his does the best at effectively communicating what issues he will focus on and what his policy stances are.

When Hillary announced that she was running, I'm sure it was a good time for the people who already supported her. Perhaps even for the people who already don't support her, yay, another reason to be mad at her. But what about the people that are still on the fence on whether or not we should stand behind her and focus on the real opponents? When are we finally going to hear what her key policy issues will be?

It's also a matter of integrity. Even if I do not agree with her on 100%, or even 50% of the things she stands on. I would support her, so long as I understood who she was as a candidate, as a person. But all of that is predicated on transparency, which there isn't even anything of substance to support.

Look, maybe by Monday, it will all be different, and her big policy stances will be out there for us to see.

But until that finally happens, there is no way to say for sure what it is she definitively will or won't run on.

And it leads to the question: why?

Discuss

Apparently this was posted on the Verified Senate Republicans' Twitter Page:

Forgive my moribund understanding of contemporaneous lexicon, but is that right?

Lincoln was assassinated. America is forever indebted. To...Lincoln? Or John Wilkes Booth? Or did Lincoln get his comeuppance for the audacity to be the first Republican President?

You know, I don't consider myself one of those strict followers of language rules or anything, but this is the kind of thing that ticks you off, you know? This was apparently written by someone who is getting paid to string a fancy set of words together, and this is the best they could do.

To be fair, they later tweeted out a clarification to the earlier tweet:

It still sounds like you're not quite saying that we're indebted to Lincoln. It sounds like you're saying that we're indebted to his service, which doesn't make much sense either.

Here, let me try.

"150 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln, the 1st Republican President to whom America is forever indebted, was assassinated."

"We are forever indebted as a nation to President Lincoln for his service to his country."

Not big modifications, to be sure. But it makes a big difference, doesn't it?

Poll

What do you think?

1%1 votes
29%18 votes
11%7 votes
54%33 votes
3%2 votes

| 61 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

What if Hillary and all of her Democratic Primary challengers made a deal right now: Whoever wins the primaries will make the second-place finisher their Vice Presidential running mate.

Here is my motivation for this diary.

This is meant to address the foregone conclusion that HRC will win the Democratic primary.

Such a conclusion is invariably going to reduce the interest of other candidates in running to oppose her.

However, we also need a contested Democratic primary. If for no other reason, to avoid the constant talk of a coronation.

But considering the shitshow the GOP primaries are going to be, the Democratic primary will be one of the best opportunities to showcase the party's strengths going into the General election. While the Repubs will be hard at work pandering to their fundamentalist base, Democrats can use the primaries to set a Liberal agenda. One that lines up better with the general populace, while the GOP fights over illegals and Irans. But this will only work if there are strong Democratic challengers. HRC will have to run a strong campaign herself, and along the way, the American people will get a strong dose of all the great policies the Democratic Party has to offer. By the time the general elections roll around, not only will the GOP candidate be fighting hard just to wring out the stench of the Conservative base, but they will then have to contend with a strong fleshed-out Liberal agenda already out on the playing field mowing people over.

But again, we have to consider the fact that most of the evidence indicates that the Democratic nomination is Hillary's to lose yet again. As I have seen many people point out, the perception that Hillary will be the eventual candidate greatly depresses the interest in challengers. Such challengers have a hard time courting big-name donors, and some otherwise good challengers would rather avoid a high-profile losing campaign with so much of the deck already stacked against them. So in addition, they need some further incentive to remain in the race, if they keep facing stiff competition losing to HRC again and again. So the risk is that, not only do we fail to get strong Democratic challengers for a strong primary, but such challengers will also quickly flame out.

This would also be a missed opportunity, even if HRC is expected to be the eventual winner, to use the primaries to hone her message, her campaign machine, and prepare for the rigors of the general election campaigning, if a strong challenger fails to materialize.

However, I also do not like the prospects of a primary that only serves to drag Hillary and all the Democratic challengers down. Such scenarios can be disastrous, as this example illustrates. Such scenarios are also hard to avoid, one only need to look to the other side of the aisle to see the many problems such scenarios engender. Ideally, not only does a strong challenger or two to Hillary materialize, but the challenge remains congenial enough that the two do not drag each other down into the muck, but rather elevate each other.

Finally, as popular as HRC is, there are many detractors, particularly on the left, who are adamantly opposed to HRC being the candidate. They would like to see someone challenge HRC so badly that they continue to tout people like Elizabeth Warren, who has repeatedly denied interest in even running; that is how intent they are at derailing the HRC candidacy.

The problem I have with this armchair quarterbacking is that such machinations often do not come with much of an endgame. So we manage to get a more Progressive candidate to defeat Hillary and become the Democratic nominee; then what?

Would such a candidate then be more electable in the General than Hillary, and more importantly, the Republican candidate? Let's not forget the importance of name recognition; such a candidate would likely have to devote more energy than Hillary would just getting people to know who they even are. Also, let's not forget the influence of the large mega donors who blew up the last election. In such a scenario, who are these mega donors going to throw their money and clout behind, the Republican candidate, or the Democrat who defeated HRC, arguably one of their favorites in the party, possibly from the left?

Of course, one could point at Barack Obama to prove that it can be done. But let's remember that Obama did not run as "I'm not Hillary;" in a lot of ways, his campaign wasn't all that different than HRC's. It helped that he ran a highly efficient and effective campaign, and brought a lot of strong rhetoric to the table, while Hillary's campaign clearly made a lot of miscalculations along the way. This is not to say that any of the potential challengers next year cannot end up producing the same amazing results, however, few of the serious contenders seem to have as much upside. I just don't want to be placed into a position with some very serious buyers remorse, because people have hastily written HRC off.

It is for these reasons that I think we should entertain some alternative scenarios. This is the one I propose.

Whoever wins the primaries will make the second-place finisher their Vice Presidential running mate.

Continue Reading

There is a movement here (perhaps there always has been; I haven't been here that long) to get more of us actively involved in running for elected office. Instead of just harping on the failed leadership and lamenting the lack of change, we should be that change.

However, this might seem daunting to a lot of us, as the only.

The thing is, what we often forget is that there are far more elected offices than those high profile ones. And winning at the lower levels is just as important as getting our people into the higher-profile offices.

Along this line, I wanted to see what is available where I live.

For example, I live in Philadelphia; most notably our city's mayoral and city council elections are coming up this year.

But there's also even more local offices to run for here. There are committeepeople, members of each party who represent their local ward/division. There are also election officers, who manage the local polling stations on election day. These are all offices where people can run for election, with a relatively low threshold to enter the race.

Having met my division's Democratic committee people, I trust they are good representatives. But I think I can be one too.

The elections for new election officers won't be until 2017. But I am going to make a promise right now to run for one of those offices.

They may be relatively unimportant roles, but the idea of running for any type of elected office is rather terrifying to someone like me, who much prefers to stay in the shadows and blog.

Still, the thought of it is also kind of exciting. Talk to Me at any time in my past life up until a few short years ago, and that Me would never have even imagined running for office of any kind. Then, I found Dailykos, and that all changed.

Getting more good people like our fellow kossacks into office is often fantasized about here, but maybe by setting our sights on lower, more manageable goals, we can begin the small snowball of change which eventually turns into an avalanche of Progressive mobilization.

Here's what I think we need to do first. Compile a list of all possible elected offices to run for in given locations, along with election years, filing requirements, etc etc.  I think it's possible with something as simple as a basic spreadsheet that can be openly shared on googledocs, though someone who's good with databases could probably produce a more efficient design.

Once we have such a list, we can start organizing. Getting a commitment from a kossack to run for as many of these as possible. Getting people who are normally lurkers around here, get them motivated to stand up and represent their given localities, and provide much-needed Progressive voices. They get exposure, experience running for office, and we get a greater sense of representation in our imperfect political system.

Dailykos has been a great convergence of political engagement. It is possible to elevate it even more.

Discuss

I know that there have been a lot of diaries on the RFRA laws like the one in Indiana already. I don't know how much more my take contributes to it.

On the other hand, I think that if people were more convinced of this argument, such laws would be far less defensible.

Now, while it seems clear to me that such RFRA laws are unconstitutional and in direct conflict with the Establishment Clause, I do not find them generally objectionable. If a butcher doesn't want to touch pork, if certain states want to protect that, as someone who wants to support other people's rights so long as they are not infringing anyone else's, I think that is alright. If that is what it's really about.

Yes, as an Atheist, it seems to me to be a privilege that only the religious can enjoy. But I am also willing to live and let live, and focus on some of the more real cases of injustice in our country. I wouldn't tell a Muslim not to be a butcher, anymore than I would tell Iggy Azalea not to be a rapper. It doesn't seem like a good idea to me, but if that's what you want to do, then by all means find a way that you can do it.

But that's not what it's all really about. The issue, for me, arises from the taken-for-granted notion that these religions somehow require such discrimination in the first place.

The fact is that no religion gives anyone a license to discriminate against others. But there are people who will discriminate against others no matter what their motivation. A bigot who hates gays because he claims it is his religion, I have no trust that such a person would not still be a bigot even without that religion.

Taken in this light, these RFRA laws are then merely cover for bigots to discriminate and treat others as second-class citizens, unless anti-dscrimination is explicitly included. Not only are they then in violation of the Establishment Clause, but also the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

Continue Reading
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