Archives for October 2011

Most Powerful US Nuke On The Chopping Block

The United States’ most powerful nuclear weapon is now being dismantled over at Pantex:

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) - The last of the nation’s most powerful nuclear bombs _ a weapon hundreds of times stronger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima _ is being disassembled nearly half a century after it was put into service at the height of the Cold War.

[…]

Put into service in 1962, when Cold War tensions peaked during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the B53 weighed 10,000 pounds and was the size of a minivan. According to the American Federation of Scientists, it was 600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, killing as many as 140,000 people and helping end World War II.

The B53 was designed to destroy facilities deep underground, and it was carried by B-52 bombers.

 

With its destruction, the next largest bomb in operation will be the B83, said Hans Kristensen, a spokesman for the Federation of American Scientists. It’s 1.2 megatons, while the B53 was 9 megatons.

Thank goodness.

While I’m sure it would irk some neoconservatives and chickenhawks, it is always a good sign to see such destructive weapons be laid to rest. The time of nuclear deterrance ended in the late eighties, and we’re in a different period where simply having the biggest nuke won’t protect us from foreign threats.

Perry’s “Flat” Tax: Good Policy or Hail Mary?

Rick Perry has found himself at the bottom of the second tier after what seemed like a cake walk to the presidency.  But the Rick Perry bankroll has pundits on the ready for the next move upward.  On Monday, Perry tickled the media with a preview of his 20/20 Flat tax.  His overall plan which is named “Cut, Balance and Grow” seems much less catchy, especially if he has his eye on a primetime ABC host slot.

If one were going to summarize the plan, they might suggest that Perry believes in “caps”.  His 20% flat tax is optional, so essentially everyone paying more than 20% currently can move to 20% while everyone paying less can still pay their current rate. It also moves the corporate rate to 20%, kills the death tax, and removes taxes from qualified dividends and capital gains.  The plan also includes capping spending at 18%.  I believe talking about caps on spending as a percentage of GDP are a mistake for the simple fact that if you do this, what are the odds that congress will ever spend less than this amount?  Then again, after what we’ve seen in the last three years, it doesn’t sound half bad.

James Pethokoukis breaks down Perry’s plan over at The American:

—A choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20 percent or their current income tax rate.

—The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents.

—Abolishes the death tax once and for all, providing needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses.

—Lowers the corporate tax rate to 20 percent—along with a tax holiday for foreign earnings—and moves toward territorial taxation.

Multiple Choice Mitt strikes again!

Mitt Romney, who many believe is the inevitable Republican nominee, just keeps burning bridges with conservatives. We’ve explained them here over the course of the last year, so there is no need to go back over them.

But with labor unions becoming a target for many conservatives, and rightfully so, after the reasonable measures pushed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker earlier this year and the Boeing debacle in South Carolina, it’s an incredibly dumb move to snub the party’s base. Yet Romney did just that yesterday by declining to endorse or even give a position on a ballot measure in Ohio that would limit the collective bargaining rights of public-sector workers:

Mitt Romney stopped in Ohio today, where polls show him competitive with Herman Cain in the March 2012 primary. He stopped by a Republican phone bank where volunteers were drumming up support for two ballot measures — one of them a national cause celebre for the left. Issue 2, if passed, would affirm the collective bargaining reform Republicans pushed through this year. The measure is on the ballot because unions want to beat it, and overturn the law, and polling suggests that they can. Issue 3, if passed, would prevent Ohio from participating in any health care mandate — federal, state, whatever.

Romney was at one of the nerve centers for the campaign to pass the Issues. CNN’s Peter Hamby asked a simple question: Did he support them?

Random Musings

As a voracious consumer of news regarding current events and politics, it occurred to me this week that to a person of sanity and sound reason, listening to and reading the coverage of what is going on in our nation and world today is so far removed from reality, historical experience and logic as to be the product of a journalist reporting live from the bottom of that rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. We regularly hear from people considered leaders by many, uttering the most incredibly nonsensical things with a straight face, fully expecting the rest of us to believe them. Indeed, often these things are uttered with such seemingly powerful sincerity that even the sane begin to question themselves.

So, here are a few random thoughts from the passing week…

Judging by recent stories from California, the nickname for that state should be changed from the “Golden State” to the “Granola State”, because it is positively the land of fruits and nuts. California, with a debt rating of A- (the lowest of any state), annual deficits of billions of dollars, and long-term debt obligations to public employee unions that amount to hundreds of billions of dollars, nevertheless recently decided to double down on lunacy by passing the “California Dream Act”, a state version of the federal law that would give in-state tuition and more lavish taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal aliens and their children. This is a magnet for more illegal immigration, and in the end the state will continue its rapid descent into bankruptcy.

Vatican pushes for global authority, world bank

With a financial crisis still causing unrest in Europe as governments try to bailout each other out, the Vatican is calling for a global governing authority and a global bank as the religious institution slams markets:

The Vatican called on Monday for the establishment of a “global public authority” and a “central world bank” to rule over financial institutions that have become outdated and often ineffective in dealing fairly with crises. The document from the Vatican’s Justice and Peace department should please the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators and similar movements around the world who have protested against the economic downturn.

“Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority,” was at times very specific, calling, for example, for taxation measures on financial transactions. “The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence,” it said.

It condemned what it called “the idolatry of the market” as well as a “neo-liberal thinking” that it said looked exclusively at technical solutions to economic problems. “In fact, the crisis has revealed behaviours like selfishness, collective greed and hoarding of goods on a great scale,” it said, adding that world economics needed an “ethic of solidarity” among rich and poor nations.

Karzai: Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in war with US

Let me ask you a question, after a war and occupation that has gone on for nearly a decade; why are we still in Afghanistan? This is a question we should think hard on given recent comments made by Hamdi Karzai, who said his nation would side with Pakistan in a war with the United States:

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has said he would side with Pakistan in the event of war with the US in a surprising political twist that is likely to disconcert his western allies.

“If there is war between Pakistan and America, we will stand by Pakistan,” Karzai said in a television interview. He put his hand on his heart and described Pakistan as a “brother” country.

The statement was widely interpreted as a rhetorical flourish rather than a significant offer of defence co-operation. Despite recent tension between Pakistan and the US, open warfare is a remote possibility.

Karzai – who is scrambling to ensure his political future in advance of the US military drawdown in 2014 – needs Pakistani help to bring the Taliban to peace talks. In the event of any conflict, his army, which is wholly dependent on US money and training, would be in no position to back Pakistan.
[…]
Karzai is trying to strike a delicate balance between reaching a peace deal and managing stringent criticism from non-Pashtun groups and their political representatives, who accuse him of drawing too close to Pakistan.

RomneyCare provided public aid to undocumented immigrants

Mitt Romney has been hitting his key opponent, Rick Perry, relentlessly for his decision to allow undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition in Texas. Romney even made the issue into a campaign ad:

The former Massachusetts governor has stated that the educational benefits offered by the state of Texas act as an incentive to draw more undocumented immigrants across the border:

“You put in place a magnet — you talk about magnets — you put in place a magnet to draw illegals into the state, which is giving $100,000 of tuition credit to illegals that come into this country. And then you have states, the big states of illegal immigrants are California and Florida. Over the last 10 years, they’ve had no increase in illegal immigration. Texas has had 60 percent increase in illegal immigrants.”

Now we learn, via the LA Times, that the healthcare reform that Governor Romney ushered in during his tenure in Massachusetts, colloquially referred to as RomneyCare, contained a provision that provided public aid to undocumented immigrants:

The Massachusetts healthcare law that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed in 2006 includes a program known as the Health Safety Net, which allows undocumented immigrants to get needed medical care along with others who lack insurance.

FDR and Occupy Wall Street

Many of the Occupy Wall Street crowd undoubtedly think very highly of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After all, he espoused many of the same things they believe.  One pro-OWS post I read recently on the internet went so far as to quote Roosevelt at some length.  It was there that I came across this quote:

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money, it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.

I personally believe he’s only partially right.  The other side of that coin is that joy lies not just in achievement and creative effort, but in being rewarded for that effort.  However, that’s neither here nor there.

You see, FDR correctly argues that money in and of itself isn’t a wonderful thing.  The quote in question seems to mean that earning it matters far more than simply having it.  In this, I agree completely.  Money that just appears in your wallet is meaningless to you.  Money you’ve earned truly matters.

However, contrast this with the demands of some of the Occupy Wall Street crowd who want a “living wage” for all people in this country, regardless of employment history.  Maybe it’s just me, but this actually flies in the face of what FDR himself seemed to argue in this quote.  After all, money — and this includes any welfare proposal — is easily categorized as “the mere possession of money”.

Rick Perry rolls out endorsement from Steve Forbes, flat tax proposal

As he rolls out his economic plan — dubbed “Cut, Balance and Grow” — and new flat tax proposal, Rick Perry has picked up an endorsement from Steve Forbes, a businessman and former GOP candidate famous for pushing the pro-growth tax reform plan:

Former Republican presidential candidate and magazine publisher Steve Forbes has endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for president. The endorsement isn’t totally surprising, as Perry plans to unveil a flat tax proposal on Tuesday — and that was the signature issue of Forbes own presidential run. Not sure how much of a difference the endorsement makes in terms of rounding up votes, but it does provide Perry with an effective surrogate on the flat tax. It’s also worth noting that Herman Cain served as co-chair of Forbes’ 1996 run for president.

Forbes penned an editorial explaining why tax reform is necessary and noting that Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, though lacking detail and potentially dangerous, served a purpose in starting the debate on the issue:

The nightmare on Main Street — the federal income tax code — is ending, which is fantastic news for our beleaguered economy. Dramatically simplifying this monstrosity would unleash a powerful wave of prosperity and job creation.

Thankfully in 2012 we will get a mandate to make this happen. Presidential contender Herman Cain vaulted to the head of the Republican pack when he proposed his 9-9-9 plan — a flat 9% income tax, corporate tax and national sales tax. Even better, Texas Gov. Rick Perry will, in a few days, unveil his version of a flat tax, a concept that I have long advocated.

Senators try to bring the nanny state to baseball

The nanny statists are now telling the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) that they should ban members from using tobacco products during games:

The day before game one of the World Series, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and other senators are asking Major League Baseball to ban players from using tobacco products at games, especially smokeless or chewing tobacco.

“Tomorrow night, an expected 15 million viewers, including many children, will tune in to watch the first game of the series. Unfortunately, as these young fans root for their favorite team and players, they also will watch their on-field heroes use smokeless tobacco products,” wrote Durbin and other senators to MLB executive director Michael Weiner.

“During the upcoming negotiations over the bargaining agreement, we write to ask that the Major League Baseball Players Association agree to a prohibition on the use of all tobacco products at games and on camera at all Major League ballparks. This would send a strong message to young baseball fans, who look toward the players as role models, that tobacco use is not essential to the sport of baseball.”

 


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