Alex's Outlook

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Despite a ghastly deficit, skyrocketing future obligations and a long war, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has approved a 4.1% pay hike for all federal employees at a time when almost every state is freezing wages and/or laying off workers.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The head honchos over at CATO sum up the free-market argument in favor of re-importing drugs in this excellent article.

Monday, July 28, 2003

The de Rugy-Dehaven small-government tag team has said what many conservatives have been saying for a while now - that Bush's spending habits are insane.

The Terminator and the Recall

Sources say that Arnold Schwarzenegger will not run for California governor. What the heck is he waiting for? A constitutional amendment to allow foreigners to run for President??

Schwarzenegger would have been a star. He may be liberal, but that's probably the best California Republicans can do right now. Too bad he has bowed out.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Abortion

Buried in this CNN article is a Planned Parenthood poll that asks: "Do you agree or disagree with this statement: 'Abortion is murder.'" 57 percent of Americans and 61 percent of women agreed with the statement. Thirty-six percent of Americans disagreed. Fifty-one percent of Americans think abortion should be banned completely or legal just in cases of rape and incest. Furthermore, 14 percent of Americans cited abortion as their most important issue in voting in 2000; of those, 58 percent voted for Bush and 41 percent for Gore. That makes about 2.5 million extra votes for Republicans over abortion.

At least Rove-Bush-Cheney now has the green light to fulfill one promise to the Republican base. If Rove takes advantage of this, the Democrats could be even more screwed in 2004 than they are now, especially if Bush nominates a pro-life justice. (The latest Supreme Court rumor is that Rehnquist has agreed to stay until the fall to approve McCain-Feingold. The Republicans have barely 50 votes since Snowe and Specter will defect, so they are keeping McCain's vote by keeping Rehnquist long enough to uphold McCain's little campaign-finance legislation.)

Friday, July 25, 2003

yay! Comments are up now :)

The Wit & Wisdom of Rush Limbaugh

Ran across this clip of Limbaugh. It's either a bunch of snippets from his show or just a fake (too unprofessional), but it's still pretty funny.

Reimportation

The Republican House leadership bought Jo Ann Emerson's vote for the prescription drug bill a couple weeks ago by guaranteeing her a vote on prescription drug re-importation (basically price caps on all prescription/Rx drugs). They lost in a 243-186 vote.

That isn't the end of the story, though. Drug makers make their profits in the US because the US is the only country that doesn't cap prices on drugs. By allowing re-importation of drugs from countries that DO cap prices (like Canada), Congress is effectively capping the price of Rx drugs. (The bill will breeze through the more liberal Senate, if it hasn't already.) But who sells drugs to the countries capping drug prices? American pharmaceutical companies. Rather than letting Congress let Canadians let Americans steal from them, Rx drug companies will simply stop selling their drugs in Canada, and anywhere else from which drugs are reimported. That is, unless Americans decide to quit buying Rx drugs in Canada, even though they're *much* cheaper there.

Gephardt = Screwed

The House Republicans have passed a bill revamping Head Start, a 40-year-old education program. The changes are for the better, although (it would seem) pretty cosmetic. The vote was 217-216, with 12 Republicans bolting to the D's. If Dick Gephardt had been there (instead of campaigning) the bill would not have passed. (Gepardt was one of only two representatives absent, both Democrats.)

Before this, Gephardt could say that it doesn't matter that he's missing 85% of all the House votes, because the Republicans are steamrolling them and his extra vote won't help. He can't say that anymore.

Dick Gephardt : Howard Dean :: Nelson Rockefeller : Barry Goldwater. In other words, Gephardt is dead.

Where have we seen this before?

Another elderly driver "lost control" in a crowded area, wrecking four cars and injuring several people. Just don't expect any legislation about it :(

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Judgement Day for Davis

Gov. Gray Davis, a moderate-turned-flaming-liberal and quite possibly the worst governor in America's history, is facing a nightmare-scenario October 7 recall election. Unfortunately (as always), the California Republicans will probably bungle it. The state GOP has failed to rally around a single Republican candidate, which means that Schwarzenegger, Darrell Issa (the car-alarm tycoon whose money got the recall moving) and Bill Simon, the lousy 2002 candidate, will all probably run. Davis will get about 35-40 percent of the vote no matter what, which could easily win him the election if the Republicans split badly enough. (Pretty much very candidate who wants to will go on the ballot, which will probably result in at least 3 Republicans running against Davis.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

A Picture Tells a Thousand Words

A cool Department of Defense satellite image shows what a train-wreck North Korea is.

White House nominee Bob Graham has performed dismally in fundraising in key primary states.

Graham never was aiming for the presidency; he wants to be on the vice-presidential ticket. Without Graham, Florida will probably not be in play for the Democrats in 2004. Tey have to have him on the VP ticket. An Edwards-Graham ticket in particular could be deadly.

Graham's fundraising totals are irrelevant. The Dems need him too much.

Great news from Iraq: both of Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay, are dead, just when I was about to write off the CIA as a completely worthless branch of the government.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Trouble for the Dear Leader?

Veteran pollster John Zogby says that Bush's job approval rating has slipped to 53 percent, his lowest ever. Forty-six percent of Americans disapprove of his job performance, and on virtually every issue a substantial majority of Americans disapprove of his policies - INCLUDING health care. $12 trillion thrown away on free drugs isn't winning Dub-yah too many extra votes.

However, Bush-lovers need not be dismayed. Zogby predicted the 2000 election very well, but did very poorly in 2002 - he was wrong in most of the important Senate races. He has a way of pushing interviewees into saying whether they definitively dis/approve, which is why his "decided" numbers are very high - in the upper 90's. As 2002 showed, that can really distort the meaning of the data. Most other organizations have shown Bush in the 57-61 range, which is very solid.

Perhaps most interestingly, two-thirds of Americans in Zogby's poll won't care if WMD are never found, and 9% said that they would approve of Bush more if WMD are never found. (Huh?)

Friday, July 18, 2003

Ten Reasons Why a Handgun Is Better Than a Woman

In reverse order, they are:


10. You can trade an old .44 for two new .22s

9. You can keep one handgun at home and have another for when you're
on the road.

8. If you admire a friend's handgun, and tell him so, he will probably
let you try it out a few times.

7. Your primary handgun doesn't mind if you have a backup.

6. Your handgun will stay with you even if you're out of ammo.

5. A handgun doesn't take up a lot of closet space.

4. Handguns function normally every day of the month.

3. A handgun doesn't ask "Do these new grips make me look fat?"

2. A handgun doesn't mind if you go to sleep after you use it.

AND.....THE NUMBER ONE REASON WHY A HANDGUN IS BETTER THAN A WOMAN....


1. You can buy a silencer for a handgun.

(Courtesy of Samizdata.net, July 19)

Thursday, July 17, 2003

The Dividends of Compassionate Conservatism

The US gov't has now"revised" its "estimate" of the deficit. Five months ago, it had estimated this year's deficit to be $307 billion. The new estimate is $455 billion ($455,000,000,000).

That is a lot of money. It is about 4.2 percent of GDP, and comes on top of at least $6.4 trillion (6,400,000,000,000) in debt already. Yet Bush talks about continuing to occupy Iraq (cost: $5 billion a month - $60 billion per year); a prescription drug benefit for the class that already owns 60 percent of America's capital ("estimated" cost: $40 billion a year; real cost: $100 billion per year); he sends troops and aid to Africa while Afghanistan slips back into anarchy; he explodes non-defense discretionary (non-Social Security, non-Medicare, non-Medicaid, non-defense) spending 19% within his first three years in office.

Furthermore, demographic trends will only make the entitlement crisis that much worse. Today's deficits are nothing compared to what they will be like twenty years from now. Presumably Bush still intends to privatize Social Security; but that will take trillions of dollars. The gov't doesn't have that money, but Bush continues to spend, spend and spend. Furthermore his spending increases have dwarfed his tax cuts, and cuts and spending hikes have stretched the deficit at both ends. (Even an economic recovery and erasing the current deficit will not be nearly enough for the next few years, let alone the next two decades.)

The US government continues to hurtle to fiscal armageddon, but nobody in DC is at all aware of that.

An 86-year-old man plowed into dozens of people at a California farmers' market, killing at least 9 and wounding at least 55.

A bill proposed by a California Senate Democrat would have forced the man to take a driving proficiency test two years ago. Unfortunately, the AARP flexed its political muscle and neutered the bill before it got passed.

Nothing that seniors' "advocates" oppose can be done in this country - not Medicare reform, not proficiency tests, nothing. It is sad.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Bush and Title IX

Bush appointed a blue-ribbon commission a long time ago to consider reforming Title IX, the contoversial law that has led to courts' forcing colleges to make the gender makeup of their teams exactly reflect the gender at the college - even if, for example, half the women don't want to play sports. Anyway, according to NRO writer Kathryn Jean Lopez, the Bush Administration has caved on the issue, apparently hoping that Martha Burk & Co. will rally to the Republican banner in 2004.

Can someone remind me why we elected Bush??

LOL

A Canadian prankster caused a lot of merriment by bugging Google with the "french military victories" prank. Now, a Brit has done the same with "weapons of mass destruction."

Type "weapons of mass destruction" into Google and hit "I'm feeling lucky."

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Smoking Gun Alert

A Democratic judge has apparently unearthed an Osama-Saddam connection.

More on the Pershing/Muslim Story

Another version of the story goes that Pershing, trying to quash a Muslim revolt in the Philippines at the turn of the century, had twelve prisoners. He shot six of them with bullets dipped in pig fat, placed the bodies so that they faced away from Mecca, and dumped pig entrails all over them. The other six rebels were released. The result was the same: there was no more Muslim rebellion on Mindanao for decades. (Thanks to David Ehrens for the tip.)
It plays on the ritualistic superstitions of the terrorists, which makes it perfect for today's environment. Sure, world Muslims would be "outraged", but Muslims in most countries already hate the US.

George Tenet and the CIA have taken the blame for Bush's false allegation of Iraq buying nuclear materials from Niger. I suspect that the CIA isn't done taking the blame for the Bush Administration's allegations about Iraq WMD.

Some have suggested that Bush is sitting on WMD and is just waiting to spring it on the Democrats next summer, once they've made that the centerpiece of their campaign. That would be nice, but I don't believe it.

Friday, July 11, 2003

The GOP Does Something Right

The Republican-owned House (barely) passed a rule that exempts professionals from overtime pay. It's a big win for businesses and professionals, who can now work overtime because businesses will want them to work and not have to pay them 50% more money. It's also the GOP Congress' first victory against labor unions, who fiercely opposed the bill.

Only one-third of Americans and one-third of Democrats can name a single Democrat running in the Democratic presidential primary. Maybe the Democrats figure they're going to get all their pet programs under Bush anyway, so why bother replacing one liberal with another?

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Nevada GOP Gov. Kenny Guinn and the Republicans in the state legislature have been deadlocked over a ~20% tax hike to fund education programs. (Guinn wanted the hike and the legislators didn't.) The Republicans in the Legislature stood firm, and so Guinn sued the state to force the Supreme Court to get him his money. The heavily Democratic court has complied, giving the worst GOP governor in the country his fat tax hike.

Guinn is barely ahead of Bob Taft, who ramped up taxes in Ohio. Other GOP tax-hikers are Bob Riley of Alabama, Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. Sonny Perdue of Georgia tried to get a giant tax hike passed, but the bipartisan Legislature shot that down. John Rowland of Connecticut tried to slash spending and raise taxes a little. Govs. Rick Perry (TX), Jeb Bush (FL), Tim Pawlenty (Minn.) and Bill Owens (CO) have held spending after cutting taxes earlier in their administrations. Govs. Pataki, Romney and Ehrlich have tried to cut spending, but their liberal legislatures steamrolled them.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

For all the problems facing Iraq today, many Iraqis are reveling in their newfound freedoms, like cell phones, satellite dishes, and being able to buy pretty much whatever they want.

Tomorrow is "Judgement Day" for the Iranian government, or so protestors hope. A national strike has been scheduled for that day in a final attempt to overthrow the regime. Unfortunately, over 4000 university students - the leaders - have been arrested. The regime is pretty desperate and is retrenching as much as possible. It's an opportunity for the US to help protestors enact regime change without another invasion, although the US can't act overtly for fear of turning it into a mullahs-vs-the-US situation.

Anyway, Michael Ledeen, as usual, has the goods here.

One of the few good things the Republicans are doing this year is medical malpractice reform, which will cap pain and suffering awards at $250,000 and hold down skyrocketing insurance costs for doctors. Unfortunately, the Democrats mowed down malpractice reform in the Senate today, 48-49. They only needed 41 to sustain a filibuster.

Since trial lawyers have choked up the legislative pipeline in DC, the states are doing something about it. Of the 19 "crisis" states, most of the Republican ones have debated or passed some kind of malpractice reform. Democratic governors are either caving and pushing some kind of reform or, like Bob Holden, they are carrying water for the trial lawyers. Most of them will be roadkill next November though.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

It seems like every year conservatives start piping up about how "the Jewish vote is tilting Republican". These data show conservatives' hopes to be a myth, as in every past year. Jews have voted Democrat/progressive en masse since at least 1920, and I always thought it was silly for Republicans to expect a seismic change because of the GOP's stance vis-a-vis Israel.

It is disturbing that one of the highest-IQ ethnic groups is so solidly left-leaning (64-24).

Friday, July 04, 2003

Canadian scientist Jan Veizer has blown another hole in the already-porous theory of global warming.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Apparently the Medicare expansion (largest entitlement expansion since LBJ at least) isn't a sure thing. The 216-215 passage in the House was won only after attaching some provisions that have no chance of passage - like Medical Savings Accounts, which will cost the govt $164b over the next ten years. That pulled over enough conservatives to ensure passage. However, MSAs have no chance in conference. The marginal privatization passed in the House also has no chance in conference. If either provision gets out of conference, the Senate will shoot the bill down. If they don't survive conference, Bush will have a hard time getting the House Republicans to vote for the bill.

Bush will probably ask DeLay to sprint leftwards and just expand the entitlement with no reform. In that case, the Democrats will have an interesting choice to make: they can drastically expand the entitlement, which would be an ideological victory for them and a political victory for Bush; or they can ally with the conservatives in shooting the bill down, because it's not juicy enough for them while it's too much for the conservatives. That would be a major defeat for Bush and a huge victory for conservatives and fiscal responsibility, and the Democrats would undoubtedly score significant political points because of it.

Tom DeLay could also stick up for conservative principles and neuter the bill in conference, as he did with the Child Tax Credit.

The Medicare expansion isn't a slam dunk, yet.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Howard Dean favors US military intervention to stabilize Liberia, although he was dead-set against sending US troops to Iraq.

"The situation in Liberia is different from the one in Iraq," he explained.

The Republicans in charge of the Gray Davis recall claim they have the necessary signatures (about 900,000) to put the issue to ballot. They plan on swamping the Secretary of State with about 1.2 million signatures on July 11 to leave nothing to chance. July 11 is the deadline for putting the recall on the ballot in November, which will be tougher for Davis since the other possible date (March, if getting signatures takes longer) coincides with the Democratic primary, which will be contested.

Just saw Terminator 3 today. It's definitely worth seeing. On the surface it isn't much different from the first two - essentially the same story line, with Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to protect John Connor and his to-be spouse Katherine Brewster from the machines. The anti-human Terminator is Kristanna Loken, and she plays the part very well, although her picking up Schwarzenegger and ramming him through multiple walls was not very plausible.

However, the script is vastly superior to T2's, the chase scenes are better, the acting is better, and so is just about everything else. The last line of the movie - "The battle has only just begun" - pretty much guarantees a T4 unless T3 really bombs, which it won't. A T4 would have to have lots of big, futuristic computer battle machines, which I had hoped this movie would have more of (judging from the trailers). Oh well.
I will probably see it again.

The new GOP redistricting map in Texas will win at least four more House seats for the GOP, possibly as many as ten.

According to this poll, 51 percent of women are now "pro-life" (support limiting abortion to extreme cases), compared to 34 percent who are "pro-choice" ( favor relatively unfettered access to abortion). The poll was conducted by a pro-choice advocacy group.