• on a comment on Tax per mile over 5 years ago

    Obama / Biden could help change that.

    Biden said paying taxes was patriotic.

    Also most bond issues that go to things like improving airports, seaports, public schools, and transit pass.  Similarly I think if it could be clearly laid out that increases in taxes were going to fund specific types of public transportation improvements or specific needed roadway capacity upgrades, people would be more supportive than they are for tax increases to say, service the debt.

  • on a comment on Tax per mile over 5 years ago

    Speaking of punishing people that have to drive far, so will, in all likelihood, increases in the gas tax or increases in toll road construction.

    What the Republican right wants to do is make all new capacity that is built in this country tolls.  We already have an example of that in Houston where I live - the new capacity added on the "free"-way I-10 is a new 4 lane tollway right down the middle of the freeway, which will be $4 to get into town at peak hours.  This is the first case of added capacity to a freeway being tolled lanes but most likely not the last.  

    I would rather raise the gas tax and raise funding levels for mass transit and commuter rail (in effect forcing states, even backwards ones like Texas, to build systems comparable to the ones you have in Europe or the Northern US), but if we are going to keep building highway capacity I hate to say but I think the people who use it the most and benefit from it are the ones that should pay the most.  Hopefully some of the existing toll profits can be used for mass transit improvements but I'm not holding my breath.

  • What is the "Israel Lobby" anyway?  This is like saying the "United States Lobby" or the "French Lobby".  I don't think you are being racist in using terms like that but I do think you are lumping the groups together in such a way as to promote a negative connotation.  Most "lobbies" that we hear about are bad and evil - the farm lobby, the tobacco lobby, the gun lobby, etc.  However, nobody calls the NAACP the "black lobby", we don't talk about an "Arab lobby" - at least not that I've heard.  I think "lobby" itself implies that the side is not a rational agent and is controlled by outside forces.  Kind of like a lawyer, a "lobby" does not seek truth but only to represent their client.  I think Israel deserves more credit than being pigeon-holed in this way.

  • on a comment on Tax per mile over 5 years ago

    I agree that raising the gas tax is the best solution in the short term.  But 10 years from now when I am driving a Chevy Volt and my average daily gasoline consumption is 0 gallons, yet I'm still commuting a total of 30 miles per day, I think it's a little ridiculous that I would pay nothing to help maintain / expand the infrastructure which I rely on.  Something beyond the gas tax will be required unless we want to take the $ from another existing source as you seem to imply.  Even without the war in Iraq and other Republican pet projects we still would have budget shortfalls every year...

  • on a comment on Tax per mile over 5 years ago

    Well, we need to increase the gas tax.  Ultimately, we will need a different tax because our cars will either get 100 mpg or will not run on gas anymore, so the "correlation to miles driven" will NOT be close enough in the coming years.  Arguably, it is not close enough already - someone driving a Prius versus an F-150 - these people are paying far different gas taxes as it stands now.

    And BTW, what is Obama's solution here?  From what I can tell it looks like more toll roads.  That is not my ideal method of raising more money - unless we can implement a national EZ pass system.  Otherwise we end up with a patchwork of tolls and systems which I think is sub-optimal.  And if we do implement a national EZ pass system, we are basically at the same endpoint as if we just raised the gas tax and / or taxed miles driven - a system where big brother might be watching you, and ultimately a new category of generating revenues.

    Raising the Federal Gas Tax is a No Go - WSJ article

  • comment on a post Tax per mile over 5 years ago

    Suburban homes have been subsidized by free highways and low gas taxes for too long.  Meanwhile, we are destroying the environment with subdivisions that stretch out 50+ miles from the center city, and by building a vast infrastructure into the hinterlands that cannot possibly be maintained.  Things need to change.  Time to let the owners of suburban housing pay the true cost for their choices - one way or another.

  • Was the Holocaust just the end point of a routine historical conflict, that had gone on for centuries? Why bother making a hill of beans out of it, then?

    Say what?

    Criticism of Israel, i.e., Zionism, has always brought up the old canard of anti-Semitism and when Jews were implicated,

    You can criticize Israel's actions without criticizing the entire state of Israel and without criticizing Zionism.  Just as I might say that "Gitmo was an enormous mistake by the US" but I would not say "The US is a bunch of idiot racist anti-Islamist pigs".  I think most Zionists just want a homeland for Jews, and there is nothing nefarious at all about it.

  • allowing a very small relative number of individuals to receive an advantage based on their race and establishing an entire country explicitly based

    Just one further point - the country of Israel is what - the size of Rhode Island, with a population of 10 million or so.  This is actually helping less people correct a historical injustice than Affirmative Action, which serves about 40% of the population of the US whose population is now approaching 350 million.

    If Israel is not helping a "very small relative number of individuals", then I guess we have different definitions of small.

  • I am not discussing the constitutional validity of Affirmative Action - I am telling you why I support it as a Democrat.

    I am not calling for an end to affirmative action, nor will I call for an end to a Jewish state.  But yes, I do agree that ideally these are temporary solutions.  So I would say when there are no more Muslim or Christian states in the world, there would also seem to be no need for a Jewish one, and I would call for its end.

    Jewish appear to be pretty safe in the United States and Western Europe.

    Yes, with armed security around all synagogues for each service... and yet synagogues are still defaced and Jews are still attacked in hate crimes, even here in the US.  Plus, the Jews appeared to be pretty safe in the 1850s in Western Europe and Russia.  Look what happened - in the democracy of Germany a party of hate took power and chose to exterminate the Jews.  Can you guarantee me that this cannot happen again in a democratic state?  No, and that is why we have Israel.  It is a safeguard to help prevent the atrocities of the past from occuring again.

    Furthermore, the main point is still:
    When historical wrongs have happened, it is justifiable in the liberal tradition of thought to attempt to right those wrongs and help disadvantaged groups.  This is not the same thing as racism unless you ignore the historical context.  Period.

  • Similarly, what is your stance on requiring certain percentages of federal contract dollars to go to minority owned businesses?  Isn't that "reverse racism"?  Shouldn't the "best business" win no matter what?  

    I support those efforts because I feel that minority-owned businesses have been at a disadvantage historically and probably still at present which needs to be corrected.

    Similarly, I support efforts to support the Jewish people in today's world as they were subject to the decimating loss of 5-6 million people 60 years ago and anti-Semitism which continues to this day.  

    Corrective action means - "We realize that racism existed AND / OR still exists, and we are going to do something now to try to fix that".  In the context of Judaism, replace the word "racism" with anti-Semitism.

    Does that mean I support killing Palestinians or preventing a homeland for them?  Only an idiot would think so.  I want the Palestinians to have their own state.  To the fullest extent possible, I also want them to live in Israel, just as I want everyone to have a fair chance in life even in the paradigm of Affirmative Action / minority contracts.

    And as I've said, ideally one day there will not be a need for things like Affirmative Action, minority-owned contract targets, and a state with a religious affiliation like Israel, but these things are correctives - they are not undertaken to be the cause of further problem, although obviously all of these things cause problems and perceptions of unfairness.  And the corrective action will probably take generations to have its intended effect.  But I think it is fully in the liberal tradition to recognize that the world is not perfect, and sometimes that means helping to prop up the little guy.

  • What's your stance on Affirmative Action?

    I support it, because it corrects past injustices.  You can't just set people free from slavery and then say "go get a job at IBM" and expect them to be on an even playing field.  Conservatives are the ones who might call this "reverse racism", but they do not understand the historical context.

    Similarly, you can call Israel racist if you want, but you do not understand the entire reason for its existence in doing so.  It was established as a Jewish state in order to preserve the religion of Judaism and the Jewish people, in correction for past injustices.  Does that mean that some Palestinian families have been hurt in the process?  Sure, and I would lament that just as I find it sort of unreasonable when someone does not get into Harvard Med School when they have the best scores because a minority is benefitting from affirmative action.  However, I support Affirmative Action, and I support Israel, and I support corrective action for past injustice.

  • Also, if you actually think Israel should have open borders, which I doubt, then you also favor the destruction of Israel.  Do you think for a minute about what you type.

    I said my ideal would be for open borders.  My ideal would probably also be communism.  And, in my ideal world there would be no need for a place like Israel because things like the Holocaust would not happen, anti-Semitism would not exist, and a home state for Jews (or anyone) would not be necessary - because everyone could freely practice their religion or express their beliefs anywhere in the world they chose to do so.

    But, since we are far from the ideal world, I favor the Jewish state.  Call me a bigot if that makes you feel good - I think you are acting and thinking too small to see the real issues at play here.

    Skill discrimination is the same as racial and religious discrimination?  So I guess Microsoft should hire pasty chefs to code the next version of its OS, lest it be liable for discrimination?  You're piling inanity on inanity.

    No, I'm not.  At the end of the day, who are we helping through our immigration policy?  We are not helping those that need it - we are cherry picking the best and the brightest from the world over.  Our immigration system is badly broken.  You can call that better than Israel if you'd like but I still say it's a travesty of a system that de facto does nothing more to help anyone in need than Israel's system does.

  • Bill Clinton / Hillary Clinton versus Main Street... I'll take the Clintons and their ideas!  Thanks!

  • We have different quotas for different countries and different skills of people.  Same damn effect as discrimination in my book.  Who's helping the needy kid from Mexico through open borders?  Probably not us.

    I'm all for everyone (including Israel) adopting completely open borders (with certain provisions for criminal checks and the like), but until that happens, I'm all for countries being able to do as they please.

    Bigot?  Please.  Quit being a child.

    I favor a two state solution, and you apparently (from what I've gathered from previous comments)favor Israel's destruction.  Who's the racist?  Who's the nihilist?  In my book, you are.  Israel is, to quote you, "just as backwards as some of the Muslim countries" in terms of their immigration policy.  Well, that's a sad reality that we're just going to have to deal with until radical changes throughout the globe occur - when everyone adopts open borders.

  • Quit pretending there is some "average Israeli" who is quite reasonable.

    Give me a break.  And I suppose there are no Americans who are quite reasonable either?

    The world is a tough place.  Bad things happen.  But, astonishingly enough, most people are either good or neutral actors.

    You are so biased against Israel, it is not even funny.


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