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Short diary.  I wrote a diary where I posted a link to an interview with Katherine Stewart.  (Link broken right now)  She's the author of 'The Good News Club'.  In her interview she talked about religious activism in our public schools, going after small kids, encouraging them to proselytize to their peers, to their parents, and indoctrinating them with poisonous and divisive religious fanaticism that damages the integrity of the public school system.

Now the account associated with the video is suspended.  In the past, prominent skeptics and atheists on youtube have been hit with suspensions.  I don't know what motives led to this particular account to be suspended, so don't jump to any wild conclusions about this particular suspension, but I do know people in the past have been targeted with false DMCA notices, so there's that.  Oh, and the account is Richard Dawkins'.

I can't know if the diary link and the takedown are related (they probably are not related), but the people whom Katherine Stewart talks about certainly wouldn't want people to see this video.  Here's a replacement link to the video I tried to link in the other diary.  It's an hour long, but it's well worth a listen if you have the time.


Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 02:50 PM PST

The Hate Subsidy

by Paul Rogers

When the tax code is written so some income is not taxed, you are creating a subsidy.  Oil money is subsidized in the hopes it will reduce the cost of oil production (whether this works is debatable, and I am not the person to ask on this).  Some of the income isn't taxed, and the amount of money you forego bringing in as a tax is the cost of the subsidy.

Subsidies aren't necessarily a bad thing.  They can be used to encourage things in the economy that everyone wants.  One way to encourage green energy growth is to provide the industry with lucrative subsidies until they can be more profitable and mainstream.  When people have a child, they get a break on taxes to make it easier to raise their young.

This is basic language for what a subsidy is, but I just want to make this clear.  Subsidies exist for all sorts of things, good and bad.  The consequence of subsidies is that they lower the tax revenue, and so, we have a national interest in ensuring that our subsidies go towards things which are in the national interest, and efficient (since we'll receive less revenue to spend on other things).

But there's one thing that is subsidized that is an absolute disgrace.  Hate speech is subsidized.

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Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 12:31 PM PDT

Mitt Romney proposes new policies.

by Paul Rogers

In a bold move, Mitt Romney has proposed strict new national security measures far beyond his Democratic rival.  Coming out of a surprisingly detail-sparse Republican national convention, the move caught many political observers by surprise.

Mitt Romney cackled before a selected captive audience of journalists just before unveiling a critical portion of his agenda for Washington DC.  He outlined his plans in the future, should he be elected:

Once I am in office, I will work to ensure that the United States government will never again be threatened by the scourge of terrorism.  I have gone to great lengths to procure a sizeable, secure location somewhere in either the Atlantic or Pacific ocean.  For security reasons, I can tell you nothing except that it is a volcanic island shrouded from satellite view and not found on any map.

Once I am rightly secured in my place as President, I will begin to transmit all important government operations of the United States to this undisclosed location, starting with the White House itself.  Using the 'Qage', I will accomplish this at a fraction of the cost that it would take a legion of black helicopters to lift Washington DC to its new location.

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I am not educated as a political scientist, or a political insider of any sort.  Mostly, I observe the goings-on of what is happening with a mixture of amusement and curiosity.  I would generally prefer not to throw out political analysis as a 'pundit', but since I see nobody saying this yet, it might be worth getting out there.  Especially considering that this is both potentially good and bad news for the Democratic party, if it is true.

I think Harry Reid is sensing a political shift for the Democratic party, and acting early in an attempt to hold onto his position of power within the party.  A strong sense of moral outrage and accusations of nefarious intent are always going to be popular attention-grabbers.  As a politician skilled enough to become a high profile leader, I believe Harry Reid is doing this accusation with no evidence for a reason.

It is the same reason the Fox News channel, as well as Rush Limbaugh, and all those folks make up facts out of nowhere to rail against.  Righteous indignation is so popular, it doesn't have to be based on any evidence.  The only thing that matters is the accusation for the guilty target to prove wrong.  Eric Holder was attacked like this.  ACORN was attacked this way.  Climate researchers involved in 'Climategate' were attacked like this.  Shirley Shirrod was attacked like this.

This isn't to say that Harry Reid is making up his accusation, either.  I can't know this for sure, but I think he probably wouldn't be doing this unless he had a high degree of confidence of what he was saying was true.  Most political analysts seem to think that Mitt Romney will eventually release his returns, and if that occurs and Harry Reid is wrong, he'll look like a fool.  But that potential outcome is completely irrelevant to making an accusation without evidence and charging the party as guilty until innocent.  All that matters is that the accusation of a wealthy person paying no taxes makes one feel righteous indignation.  Even when being presented by someone as mild as Harry Reid.

A charge like that, with no accompanying evidence is hearsay.  But it doesn't matter to the Democratic party base.  It could still be true.  Even without evidence, a good chunk of the Democratic party base could accept it as true.  Hell, I believe it's more likely to be true than not, even though there's no evidence for it.

But, the refusal to prove it definitively false is just evidence in it's favor, right?

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I don't know how credible this is, but if this is true, it seems like it will be a big deal in the near future.  This ought to get more national attention, considering that one of our presidential candidates may benefit from this.  It's hard to know for sure, but could this be the thing lurking in his background which could sink his entire campaign?  Here's a small excerpt:

Mr Henry said that the super-rich move money around the globe through an "industrious bevy of professional enablers in private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries.

"The lost tax revenues implied by our estimates is huge. It is large enough to make a significant difference to the finances of many countries.

I don't care how much money Mitt Romney has.  Worrying about how much he has is not something that will change anyone's life for the better.  Of course, that is not the real reason why people want to see his tax returns.
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My main interest in politics is on educational matters and science.  So when I read the following piece I was rather irritated.

This article talks about a program established in 1996, that seeks to provide schools with access to the Internet.  The law requires that telecom companies give schools access at rates that are as low as other comparable entities with the same services in the same market.  So, essentially, that schools are not being ripped off.  But as the article states:

A decade after the program started, AT&T was still not training its employees about the mandatory low rates, which are supposed to be set at the lowest price offered to comparable customers. Lawsuits and other legal actions in Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and New York have turned up evidence that AT&T and Verizon charged local school districts much higher rates than it gave to similar customers or more than what the program allowed.

AT&T has charged some schools up to 325 percent more than it charged others in the same region for essentially the same services. Verizon charged a New York school district more than twice as much as it charged government and other school customers in that state.

That's bad enough, but that isn't what really got my attention.  The law means nothing if it is not enforced.  And how you go about enforcing it is as important as the law itself.  The article indicates that the FCC sought no reimbursement nor penalties for any uncovered violations.  But even that is not the worst.
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Fri Feb 10, 2012 at 07:02 PM PST

A Practical Solution: Solving Debt

by Paul Rogers

There has been a rather despicable problem in our economy that has, to this point, eluded a political solution.  The pervasive growth of this issue has led our country into a self-reinforcing economic collapse that has affected all areas of our modern civilisation.  From housing, to health, to the general welfare of the common worker, these systemic problems conflate to form a tightly woven net that drags all of us into economic stagnation, and serve to restrain the tenuous process of recovery.

Of course, we are all well aware of the ongoing collapse of the housing market.  Historic levels of private debt, coupled with a bubble in the housing markets, eventually culminated in the rather catastrophic collapse of the financial markets in 2008.  The debt of home owners was filtered through a system designed by the financial markets to mitigate risk that had been designed to tolerate a low level of failure.  However, due to poor management, the tolerances were far exceeded by the scope of the program's acceptable losses, which is what led to the economic collapse of that year.  Since then, millions of Americans have been facing a murky future of foreclosures and impoverishment.

That aspect of the problem is incidental to what I intend to address, which is a related, and altogether more fundamental issue.  I wish to instead discuss the moral hazard that is crushing, private debt.

Private debt has been on the rise since the end of the 1950s, and its continued growth compounds our economic woes today.  Poor souls who have been dragged underwater into this system have no choice but to rely on social safety nets that are highly stigmatised at best and woefully ineffective at worst.  Even worse, the children of such impoverished have almost no chance of leaving their parents' economic classification.

Morality compels one to right this situation, and fight to preserve the American Dream for future generations.  Not only would my proposal work to preserve basic American values, it would greatly reduce the torrents of human suffering in America.

I now present my thoughts, which I expect to be met with nothing but the thunderous applause it so richly merits.

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Mon Jan 09, 2012 at 11:50 PM PST

Why I am a Democrat

by Paul Rogers

Since creating an account here, I have felt very little motivation to write diaries about the community or about democratic issues in general.  The problem isn't that I have nothing to say, or that I'm not an opinionated fellow.  I tend to be outrageously assertive and opinionated in my day to day life, often at the detriment of my own reputation and likeability.  And as much as I hate to admit, probably more confident than my knowledge and intelligence would justifiably warrant.

However, when I do think of things that I feel need to be said on Daily Kos, it almost always happens in response to an article I read a link to, or a diary.  Most of the time, the appropriate venue for my comments are relegated to semi-obscurity within the diary prompting my response.  But today, I feel that I can finally contribute a bit of writing on a topic that would be worthwhile to share more broadly.

Reading this diary spurred me to think about what made me interested in politics at all.

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Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 07:25 PM PST

Capitalism is War

by Paul Rogers

To address the inequities generated within a system, it is a requirement to understand the basic underlying principles generating those inequities.  Only once those natures are understood clearly can we begin to address flaws in a constructive manner.

If you'll indulge me, I would like to express my thoughts about what forces shape a truly free market capitalist society.

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