Alex's Outlook

Thursday, April 24, 2003

New Terminator 3 trailer here.

Looks incredible.

According to this, Iranian students, expats and workers are preparing for a general strike on July 9, with the express intent of toppling the mullahcracy in Teheran.

Nothing could be better timed than this. Bush can aid the protesters in speedily destroying the Iranian regime and subsequently eliminate the Iranian nuclear program and win a very powerful new ally in the Mideast. The only danger is the recalcitrant State Department bureaucracy that has fought Bush's foreign policy tooth and nail ever since 9/11.

The battle over the size of Bush's tax cut a href="">continues, with neither George Voinovich, the rebellious Republican senator from Ohio, nor Bush willing to budge. Voinovich has complained about the deficit and wants unspecified budget cuts to make up for the tax cuts. That's a good idea, but Voinovich knows it's a pipe dream. The fact of the matter is that the Republican Congress has become addicted to pork.

The Cato Institute has identified $80bn a year of corporate welfare. That would be a good start. If Congress slashed even half of it on top of the $70bn/year Bush tax cut, it the final cut would "cost" $300 billion over ten years. The Republicans could kill the capital-gains tax too, and they would still come out fairly close to the $350 billion line drawn by the Republican rebels. Instead, the Republicans bailed out a bunch of extremely inefficient airlines in the name of "national security", even as the Southwest and JetBlue airlines posted high profits.

Sometimes the Republicans are just hypocrites. Besides banning partial-birth abortion, the GOP hasn't even done anything worthwhile since 2002. All they seem to be able to do is appropriate record amounts of pork.

Tariq Aziz has surrendered to allied forces, according to ABC.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle was just kicked out of the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

I am getting really bored with comparisons between GWB and his father. Even if the economy is still in the doldrums in Nov. 2004, there is no way that Bush can lose. Bush's father lost for several reasons:

1. He sold out his base. Bush Sr. signed a major tax hike to buy Democrats' support for Gulf War I, and rejected the pleas of his base in nominating unknown David Souter to the Supreme Court (Souter is now a reliable liberal vote)

2. He signed several huge regulatory bills, notably the Clean Air Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

3. He completely repudiated supply-side economics ("voodoo economics" - tax cuts lead to more economic growth) in rhetoric as well as policy.

4. He was a horrible campaigner.

5. Ross Perot siphoned off discontent fiscal conservatives, mostly Republicans. Any third-party candidate in 04 will be a far-left candidate like Sharpton who will chip away at the Democratic base.

6. With all his political blunders, Bush senior lost by a mere five percent, 38-43.

On the contrary, Bush Jr. has slashed taxes and rolled back Clinton-era environmental regulations. Republican activists were intially fuming about McCain-Feingold, but the Democrats' dependence on a few limousine liberals' large contributions means that McCain-Feingold will hurt them pretty badly in 2004. Bush is a terrific campaigner, and he treats his base with respect, not the disdain evident in his father's policies. Bush's successes in the War on Terror so far have meant a lot more to Americans than Bush senior's success in Kuwait, which was an impressive military operation but which had little bearing on ordinary Americans' lives.

Bush's base is supremely loyal to him. The Democrats promise a lackluster campaign in 2004, unless Edwards wins. The United States will become almost a de facto one-party state after 2004, with a 55-45ish Senate and 240-195ish House.

It's going to be a great ten years.

Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald has called it quits re going for a second term in 2004.

Fitzgerald has been a lousy senator, pirouetting far to the left of his base without even winning over any Democrats, a lot like ex-Sen. Percy of not too long ago. It's true that Illinois is a Democrat stronghold now, but if Fitzgerald had been somewhat more conservative he would have been much more electable. GOP ex-Gov. Jim Edgar is the apparent frontrunner in the upcoming battle to replace Fitzgerald. He will almost certainly be an improvement over Fitzgerald and will be very electable, much more so than Fitzgerald would have been. Fitzgerald's quitting will probably save that seat for the GOP.

President Bush pushed for $550 billion in tax cuts over the next ten years in a Rose Garden speech yesterday, as if he's going to get anything close to that. The Senate Republicans caved to Voinovich and particularly Olympia Snowe of Maine by putting a $350 billion ceiling on any tax cuts. The House Republicans are mad about it, but they can't do anything except get as close to the House version as possible ($550 bn) in committee.

Arnold Schwarzenegger recently conferred(subscription required) with Sen. George Allen, the chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. That suggests two things: Schwarzenegger is strongly considering a run against Sen. Barbara Boxer; and, if that's true, Condoleeza Rice is aiming for the California governorship in 2006. Ah-nold would give Boxer the fight of her life, and Rice would probably slaughter whomever Davis picked to succeed her, given Davis' disastrous administration of California.

John Kerry appears to be the frontrunner in the Democratic primary now. John Edwards has lost some critical endorsements and consultants lately, despite an impressive showing in the fundraising war. Edwards is really the only Democrat with a chance against Kerry. Now that Bob Graham is finally getting serious about running, the South will be at least somewhat split between Edwards and Graham, leaving the Northeast for Kerry. Gephardt might emerge later, but the Pacific west and the Northeast are out of his reach, as is the deep South.

Thus will John Kerry emerge as the Democrats' standard-bearer. John Kerry will be one of the most caricaturable politicians in recent history (right behind pre-911 Bush), the populist who married a $600 million fortune and gets $75 haircuts, and who is easily the most aristocratic snob in the Senate. (That's how he comes across, anyway.)

The Democrats desperately need to rework their nomination system, because they're going to go down in flames if Kerry wins - red-meat liberals like Adlai Stevenson, George McGovern and Michael Dukakis sell well with the base, but they're a disaster with independent voters, and nominating another uber-liberal just because he says all the right lines will only guarantee another electoral fiasco.

Florida Sen. Bob Graham has already announced that he won't run for his seat, and the Florida Democrats are near the extinction point in terms of competence and power. Fritz Hollings will be 82 in 2004, and his daughter just died. Even then, he will have a rough fight on his hands in one of the nation's most Republican states. John Edwards will have a bruising primary with Kerry, and once (if?) he loses he will face Rep. Richard Burr, probably the toughest campaigner in the United States (he is known to go through up to 30 cups of coffee in a day's campaigning). Zell Miller's Georgia seat is a goner. Bush is hugely popular in the Dakotas, where Byron Dorgan and Tom Daschle are, although Daschle is by far the more vulnerable of the two. Barbara Boxer will be in serious trouble if Schwarzenegger runs against her, as will New York's Chuck Schumer if Giuliani runs against him. Blanche Lincoln's seat in Arkansas will come under assault from Asa Hutchison or Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The only Republican weak spots are in Illinois and Alaska, and Bush will probably save Alaska because he's so popular there. Jim Edgar will probably succeed on his own in Illinois. Pennsylvania could be a wild card because Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Pat Toomey will have a bloody primary. Even so, that leaves the Democrats at a huge disadvantage.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

GWB's job approval rating is now seventy-three percent, with seventy-nine percent approving of his Iraq policy and a majority favoring his handling of the economy.

Bush is scheduled to give a major speech on his latest tax cut on Tax Day. He is also sending some 40 officials to stump for his tax cut at 57 events. Bush wants to invest his postwar political capital in a tax cut, but to get anything meaningful through (ie above $350 billion) he needs to turn the screws on George Voinovich and Olympia Snowe, the two Republicans who shafted his $726b plan. If he can get $550 billion (the House version), that's enough for rate accelerations and a full-blown dividend cut, which is all Bush needs. I doubt Bush will break $500 billion, though.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: "I have absolutely no regret about my vote [against] this war. The same questions remain. The cost in human lives, the cost to our budget, probably $100 billion. We could have probably brought down that statue for a lot less." (Actually, Nancy, it was about $78 billion.)

What is with Democratic leaders shooting themselves in the foot? Just when the US military has singlehandedly demolished Saddam's regime, along comes Nancy Pelosi blasting Bush and the war even as nearly 75% of Americans support the war. She's just making the 2004 cycle harder for her own party to maintain relevance, much less make gains in Congress. Which is great.

The Iraqi National Congress, the group of expats that will probably run Iraq for the foreseeable future, says that the new Iraq will have "the closest possible ties" to Israel and not the Palestinians, and that the UN was "not very honorable."

With the government of Iraq hostile to UN "help", it will be even harder for Kofi Annan and his cronies to sink their fangs into running Iraq, bloodstained as they are by the fiascoes of Haiti, Somalia and Rwanda (and their obfuscations against the Iraq war). Chalk up another victory for the neocons.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

The Democrats are filibustering the Priscilla Owen nomination.

I've almost hoped for this. It's clear that it will take at least 55 Republicans in the Senate for any conservative judge to get confirmed. The base is seething. The Democrats are asking for it again in 2004. Harry Reid, Blanche Lincoln, John Edwards, Byron Dorgan, Bob Graham and Fritz Hollings are really asking for it. Five states - Nevada, Arkansas, North Carolina, North Dakota and South Carolina - were easily carried by Bush in 2000. (Florida - Graham's state - was barely carried by Bush in 2000, but his brother won a second term as governor by a landslide in 2002.) If the economy gets much better, these six senators are really screwed.

Monday, April 07, 2003

According to MSNBC, Saddam and his sons, along with some thirty intel officials, were targeted in a major airstrike, thanks to an "extremely reliable" tip. Needless to say, I hope the coalition succeeded.

This is my latest addendum to the case for war against Iraq:

American oil companies get their hands on Iraqi oil, with the protection of the Iraqi government. They start mass-producing oil and selling oil well below market price. The OPEC countries, most of which are totalitarian and/or Arab, will be forced to break their own restrictions to make whatever money they can. The price of oil falls like a rock. The world economy booms because the "OPEC tax" is dead. The OPEC countries are making a lot less money from oil from the start, and since their oil industries are state-run they will quickly lose ground to the private American/Western companies. Their governments, already saddled with enormous debts and expenses, will go bankrupt. The well of money for Islamic extremism will dry up. There will be no need to liberate the entire Mideast, because the governments will collapse by themselves once their oil revenue is gone. American oil companies will make out like bandits. The Iraqi government will too, because they will have a tax on the profits of foreign companies. The Iraqi people will enjoy an immeasurably improved standard of living, whether from business-friendly low taxes or extensive social services (which suck but are much better than the current "government").

If this is what Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Bush really intends...they should be deified, or something. The terror masters will be bankrupted. The oil sultanates of the Mideast will fall very fast. The price of oil will hit rock bottom, and the world economy wil reap a huge harvest. Tyrants from Ali Khamenei to Hugo Chavez will at the very least be much poorer/weaker, and at most they will be overthrown because they can't fund their control any longer. The world will have finally gotten rid of the OPEC noose.

Chemical Ali is dead!

Sunday, April 06, 2003

EJ Dionne says that Tom DeLay's Republicans threw their conservative budget (including big tax and budget cuts) out the window five days ago.

Tom DeLay is a rock-ribbed, tough-as-nails conservative, so he probably did what he did for a reason. Still, it makes one wonder. If the GOP can't cut the size of government in the middle of a war with the most popular president in at least a generation and control of both houses of Congress, when can they cut it? Admittedly, the GOP doesn't really control the Senate because Voinovich, McCain and Chafee are basically Democrats on budget matters. But why couldn't Frist/Rove/Bush cajole just one of them to vote for the package? And why did Frist even allow the vote when Zell Miller, effectively a Republican, wasn't present for the rollcall?

Anyway, Bush's tax cut is dead unless Bush personally revives it after the war is over when Bush is super-popular. There was some hope that once the House and Senate went into conference and split the difference in their respective tax cuts (726b for the House and 350b for the Senate) there would still be plenty of room for either the $400b full dividend break or full-blown acceleration of the 2001 cuts plus a 50% break on dividends. Now the House dropped $200 billion. Checkmate!

We have all heard the story of Jessica Lynch taking some and dishing some back at the Iraqis who captured her. (BBC)

Excuse me for raining on Lynch's parade, but how on earth do the WaPo and the Associated Press know that Lynch fought to the death? She may have emptied her clip, but that doesn't mean she killed multiple Iraqis. I'd like to believe the story is true, but I think the press has been a tad over-anxious about printing Lynch's "fight to the death" with no way of knowing what actually happened.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Something has gone very wrong. Saddam "has chemical weapons", but hasn't used them yet. Coalition forces haven't actually found any chemical weapons yet. And Saddam is practically done for. Why hasn't he used any chemical weapons? Does he want to lure coalition forces into the heart of Baghdad and kill tens of thousands of people, including his own? Or does he actually not have any chemical weapons?

But then, why has he brought down invasion upon himself?

Surely he has chemical weapons. He hasn't used them yet. He's waiting...