November 28, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 8:42 PM

GAS TAXES SHOULD GO TO GENERAL REVENUES...:

One fiscal cliff fix: Raise the gas tax (Steve Hargreaves, November 28, 2012, CNNMoney) 

As lawmakers race to negotiate a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, some experts say one tax increase should be on the table: a gas tax hike.

Currently at 18.4 cents a gallon, the federal gas tax is used primarily to build and repair roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure. The tax raises about $32 billion a year.

But that's not enough. The government hands out about $50 billion a year to states and towns to help with road costs. The difference comes out of general funds or has to be borrowed. Meanwhile, the gas tax hasn't been raised since 1993.

"Establishing a sustainable resource base for transportation needs to be part of any grand bargain," said Emil Frankel, a former transportation expert in the George W. Bush administration and now director of transportation policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. "In the short run, raising the gas tax is the best way to do that."


...a mileage tax to the infrastructure funds.  You use the roads even if your car doesn't use gas.

Posted by orrinj at 8:35 PM

WHICH IS HOW YOU GET TO BE A GENERAL:

US military chiefs 'planned to blow up the moon with nuclear bomb' as show of Cold War muscle, physicist claims (ROB WILLIAMS, 28 NOVEMBER 2012, Independent)

US Military chiefs, keen to intimidate Russia during the Cold War, plotted to blow up the moon with a nuclear bomb, according to project documents kept secret for for nearly 45 years.

The army chiefs allegedly developed a top-secret project called, 'A Study of Lunar Research Flights' - or 'Project A119', in the hope that their Soviet rivals would be intimidated by a display of America's Cold War muscle.


Anyone with any strategic nous would realize the way to intimidate them was to blow up Moscow. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:24 PM

TURN DOWN THE MUSIC OR I'LL KILL YOU?

Shooting of Florida teen is no Trayvon Martin case, attorney says (Tristan Smith, 11/28/12, CNN)

The violence was sparked by a confrontation about loud music at a gas station, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.

Dunn told authorities that he had asked the teens to turn down the blaring music from their vehicle adjacent to his, as he waited for his girlfriend to return to the car.

Michael Dunn, 45, was denied bond earlier this week on the murder charge.

He heard threats from the teens, Dunn told police, he felt threatened and thought he saw a gun in the teens' car. He grabbed his gun and fired at least eight shots, authorities said.

Seventeen-year-old Jordan Davis, among the teens, was killed. There were no guns found inside the teens' car, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.

At least you can't get away with not charging the shooter anymore.


MORE:
Brevard suspect pleads not guilty in slaying of Wolfson student (Dan Scanlan, 11/26/12, Jacksonville.com)

A gun collector in Jacksonville for his son's wedding, Dunn told police he felt "threatened" after an argument with the Wolfson High student over loud music coming from a sports-utility vehicle parked next to him at the Gate station at 8251 Southside Blvd. Davis was in the back seat when "there were words exchanged," followed by gunfire at 7:40 p.m., said Jacksonville homicide Lt. Rob Schoonover.

"Our suspect produced a weapon and started firing into the vehicle. Our victim was shot a couple of times," Schoonover said. " ... They were listening to the music. It was loud; they [other teens] admitted that. But I mean that is not a reason for someone to open fire on them." [...]

Schoonover said Dunn and his girlfriend were next to the red SUV containing Davis and three of his friends. Dunn's girlfriend was inside when Dunn and Davis exchanged words. Shots were fired, leaving Davis hit and eight or nine bullet holes in the SUV, Schoonover said.

The couple drove off after Dunn told her he had "fired at these kids," Schoonover said. They went to their hotel, then returned to Brevard County when they learned what had happened from local news.

Witnesses gave police Dunn's license plate number, which led police to his home. Schoonover said Dunn was planning to turn himself in when he was arrested.

Jacksonville detectives spoke to him after his arrest, where he said "he felt threatened and that is the reason he took action," Schoonover said.

Posted by orrinj at 7:17 PM

WINNING ISN'T EVERYTHING:

The Outlines of a Budget Deal Are Obvious : But it requires the kind of real compromise not offered by Obama 1.0 (KARL ROVE, 11/28/12, WSJ)

With a big assist from Ohio, the president clinched a second term after a tough fight. In his victory statement, he pledged to "continue our economic progress" and see "our servicemen and women . . . come home." There were high hopes and a belief he had a mandate.

The year was 2004, and the president was George W. Bush.

The turbulence began almost immediately. Mr. Bush ran on Social Security reform. But in the election aftermath, no congressional Democrat supported it while many Senate and House Republicans were eager to see the issue go away.

Mr. Bush's comprehensive immigration reform floundered as congressional Democrats, especially Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, did in the measure. Some of its supporters, including then-Sen. Barack Obama, voted for amendments that gutted the reform.

While Mr. Bush campaigned on a platform of winning the Iraq war, after the 2004 election many Democrats--including Mr. Obama--still tried to defund the war, even opposing a debt-ceiling increase in an attempt to starve its funding.

The lesson? A president doesn't get his way in a second term nearly as easily as he does in his first term.

Posted by orrinj at 6:37 PM

THE 2% WILL PROBABLY BE ALRIGHT:

Tom Cole: Join with President Obama on quick deal (JONATHAN ALLEN, 11/27/12, Politico)

Republican Rep. Tom Cole urged colleagues in a private session Tuesday to vote to extend the Bush tax rates for all but the highest earners before the end of the year -- and to battle over the rest later. [...]

Cole's position is striking because he's hardly a "squish" -- Norquist's term for a weak-kneed lawmaker -- when it comes to Republican orthodoxy. Cole served as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and in other official posts within the party.

He might also provide cover for other Republicans looking to make an agreement to avoid a sharp fall off the so-called fiscal cliff.

"I think we ought to take the 98 percent deal right now," he said of freezing income tax rates for all but the top 2 percent of earners. "It doesn't mean I agree with raising the top 2. I don't."

Instead, he told POLITICO, Republicans should fight the president over tax rates for the top earners after everyone else is taken care of.

The only question is what we'd get in return.


Posted by orrinj at 3:47 PM

NO ONE HAS IT HARDER THAN THEIR FATHER DID:

The Future: Back to the Past (DON BOUDREAUX on NOVEMBER 26, 2012, Cafe Hayek)

Lately, I've encountered with unusual frequency claims that the 1950s were a glorious economic time for America's middle-class - a time so glorious, what with strong labor unions and high (above 90%!) marginal income-tax rates and all, that we middle-class Americans of today should look back with longing and envy on those marvelous years of six decades ago.

So on Saturday I bought on eBay this Fall/Winter 1956 Sears catalog. [...]

So let's ask: how long did a typical American worker have to toil in 1956 to buy a particular sort of good compared to how long a similarly typical American worker today must toil to buy that same (or similar) sort of good?  Here are four familiar items: refrigerator-freezers; kitchen ranges; televisions; and automatic washers.

Sears's lowest-priced no-frost refrigerator-freezer in 1956 had 9.6 cubic feet, in total, of space.  It sold for $219.95 (in 1956-dollar prices).  (You can find a lovely black-and-white photograph of this mid-'50s fridge on page 1036 of the 1956 Sears catalog.)  Home Depot today sells a 10 cubic-foot no-frost refrigerator-freezer for $298.00 (in 2012-dollar prices).  (You can find it in color on line here.)

Therefore, the typical American worker in 1956 had to work a total of 219.95/1.89 hours to buy that 9.6 cubic-foot fridge - or a total of 116 hours.  (I round to the nearest whole number.)  Today, to buy a similar no-frost refrigerator-freezer, the typical American worker must work a total of 298.00/19.79 hours - or 15 hours.  That is, to buy basic household refrigeration and freezing, today's worker must spend only 13 percent of the time that his counterpart in 1956 had to spend.

Posted by orrinj at 5:29 AM

BUT WHAT'S THE BIGGEST THING THEY HAVE IN COMMON?:

Colombia and the Philippines: Worlds Apart but on the Same Path to Peace (Robert Valencia, 28 November 2012,  ISN)

In addition to their love for telenovelas, as well as their cuisine and religion borne out of a shared Spanish heritage, Colombia and the Philippines now have one more thing in common. This [month], both countries took another step toward peace with their respective armed groups, which could lead to the end of internal conflicts that are among the oldest in the world. On October 15, the Philippines entered into a peace accord with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Two days later, Colombia's government began peace talks in Oslo with the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Each of these presents a unique opportunity for civil society to sustain peace by fostering trust and accountability over issues such as land rights, delivery of social services, political participation at the local and national level, and tolerance for other people's beliefs.

Extremely tight ties to, and support from. America.
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Posted by orrinj at 5:10 AM

OKAY, THAT'S THE SUB-TEXT, BUT WHAT DO YOU CALL THE THING ABOVE THE SUB-TEXT?:

Hamas and the Two-State Solution (Paul R. Pillar | November 27, 2012, National Interest)

What is one of the first things Hamas does when it is fresh off standing up against an Israeli assault and widely perceived to have gained ground politically at the expense of its intramural rival, Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority? It voices support for Abbas's effort to get his organization's status at the United Nations upgraded from observer to "non-member state." Given the way Hamas is routinely suspected and reviled in some quarters, this move is sure to give rise to explanations that are convoluted and conspiratorial--that what Hamas is saying is a ruse, or is just a tactic for harassing Israel, or is a step toward shoving the Palestinian Authority aside while Abbas is down.

The explanation that is simple and straightforward, and ought to be obvious, is much more likely to be accurate: that Hamas supports the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel, and that diplomacy is the preferred way to achieve that goal.