Alex's Outlook

Sunday, September 28, 2003

It seems like Arnold is running away with the recall. A Gallup poll shows 63 percent inclined to vote "yes" on the recall, compared to 35 percent who would vote "no." Arnold Schwarzenegger had the vote of 40 percent of respondents, compared to 25 percent for Bustamante and 18 percent for McClintock.

The poll is generating a buzz because earlier "polls" showed a much closer race, at least as far as Gray Davis was concerned. Those polls were done by the liberal LA Times. I never believed them; California would have to be collectively insane for the recall vote to be split 50-45 in favor, as the LA Times had said.

Anyway, it's surprising that Arnold has gotten such a bounce from The Debate. He got off a lot of funny one-liners and held his own in a somewhat free-for-all setting, but didn't give a clearer picture of how he would fix California. I guess a lot of it had to do with Bustamante's arrogance/airheadedness in the debate rather than anything Schw. did. McClintock got a bit of a bounce too, because he came across as very civil and smart in the debate.

Now that the Arnold campaign has declined Gray Davis' challenge to a debate, Davis will get desperate. He will barrage Arnold with negative advertising in the next nine days. I doubt it will do him any good.

If McClintock stays in the race at all, I think he will focus on attacking that oleaginous, dimwitted political hack Bustamante, not Schwarzenegger. McClintock won't win the race, but I think he has made a favorable impression upon Californians as an honest policy wonk. He will be well positioned to run against Barbara Boxer in 2004, as will Darrell Issa, "the man who started it all" by giving the recall effort over a million dollars of his own.

The recall could be the beginning of a renaissance for the California GOP.

LOTR: Return of the King

The Return of the King trailer is here! It looks awesome (what else would you expect) but you might have to wait a really long time for the clip to load (it took me 20+ minutes and I have DSL, even though the clip is only 14 megs).

Judging from the trailer, I think the Helm's Deep battle in The Two Towers was supposed to be a tiny appetizer for the massive carnage in the final battle of ROTK, which is chock-full of those Black Rider dragons, human knights, elvish archers, "oliphaunts," the spider Shelob, etc. I'm stoked.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

A Washington Times op-ed agrees that there is a major Moslem problem in the American military. Considering that there are only 4500 Moslems in the entire Army, there is an obvious and dramatic correlation between a soldier's being Moslem or not and any "incidents" that he is "involved" in.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Senior Airman Ahmad al Halabi has been detained by the military for four counts of espionage, three counts of aiding the enemy, and a litany of other counts. Basically, the Army probably has strong evidence that al Halabi was aiding the suspected terrorists imprisoned in Guantanamo.

Al Halabi's arrest comes just on the heels of the arrest of Capt. James Yee, another Sunni Moslem based in Guantanamo. It also reminds one of the grenade-frag incident during the Iraq war, in which Sgt. Asan Akbar killed two commanding officers and wounded 13 others; it reminds me of the Maryland sniper, another Sunni Moslem soldier who vented his rage on Americans (civilians in his case).

Even though it would be politically incorrect, the U.S. military has to start profiling Sunni Moslems sometime soon, by either segregating the military by religion or by turning down Sunni Moslems outright. It already happened at a military base in Kuwait, but for some reason nobody raised a ruckus over it.

EDIT: John Allen Mohammed/Muhammad, the Maryland sniper, was not a Sunni; rather, he was a member of Nation of Islam, a marginal pseudo-Islamic sect.

The California recall, held up because of the 9th Circuit's shenanigans, is now back on track. The recall is once again scheduled for October 7th. My money is still on Arnold, although McClintock still has a good chance of spoiling it.

The Air Force conducted a test about two weeks ago, in which a single B-2 bomber dropped 80 JDAM bombs in 22 seconds...and each JDAM followed a unique flight path to a different target, and blew it up. Eighty pre-programmed targets incinerated. That is frighteningly awesome.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Wesley Clark is the "antiwar candidate who can win," if you believe the mainstream media. However, he has actually flip-flopped any number of times on the issue.

CNN has a misleading headline: "Senators: Delay Top Tax Cuts for Rebuilding Iraq, Afghanistan." Actually, only liberal Democrat Joe Biden said that. The only other senator quoted in the article, Chuck Hagel (R-NB), implied that Congress would have to cut spending (did a congressional Republican just call for a cut in spending?!) in order to pay the bill. That is quite different from raising taxes.

Blatantly misleading headlines are just a pet peeve of mine. The article is also a hopeful sign that conservatives' "starve the beast" policy with the federal government is working: slash taxes and ramp up spending at the same time, so that when the deficit reaches politically explosive levels as a result (such as this year's $575 billion assuming the Iraq bill isn't compensated) the government has to choose between either cutting spending or cutting taxes. With a soft economy and the fact that a tax hike will hurt the economy, Republicans just might have the guts to cut spending for once. That is encouraging.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Archiving is fixed now, never mind.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

The archives are completely dysfunctional. (They were almost as bad before I condensed them to monthly instead of weekly format.) Anybody have a clue as to how to fix it?

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

According to the political futures market, Arnold still has the best chance of anyone at winning the governorship of CA. His current chance of 35%, however, is a far cry from the 62% chance he once had.

However, the latest Novak column has Arnold making a comeback. Furthermore, the liberal LA Times' poll, which absurdly showed the recall with 50 percent support (45 pct against) appears to be bogus.

Novak's point was that Arnold's resurgent momentum, thanks to an impressive performance at the CA Republican state convention, will be blunted now that the liberal 9th Circuit has pushed the recall back to March. I think the more important point is that Arnold has regained momentum in the race; the 9th Circuit's ruling was an unusually stupid ruling by an unusually liberal court, and if the court fails to overturn it itself (it's "reconsidering" the ruling), the situation will beg Supreme Court intervention. As much as the Supremes were tarnished by 2000, I don't think anyone is fooled by the judges' maneuvering.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Four-star Gen. Wesley Clark has become the Democrats' tenth presidential contender.

I think the Clark candidacy is overrated. He was the commander of a peacekeeping operation in Kosovo, and the Democrats are calling him the answer to Bush's lead on terrorism. Give me a break. He didn't accomplish anything noteworthy in Kosovo. He has no experience in elective office, not even as a student council member. He is an inexperienced debater. He has no national network. He does not have the fire-in-the-belly liberalism that has revolutionized the Democratic race in Dean's favor.

All Clark has is a long military record. That is also the only thing John Kerry has. If anything, he will dilute Kerry's candidacy, but he will not damage Dean much, if at all. I am not sure the Democratic base even looks favorably upon national service. Basically, Clark's entry will only make the job easier for Dean, since Clark is essentially sniping at Kerry's supporters.

Friday, September 12, 2003

The NY Times takes a revealing look at total, free medical coverage, i.e. state-funded health care run amok.

National Review Online speculates that Hillarycare in Republican suit and tie (the Republicans' prescription drug benefit) is dead. Everyone agrees that the bill is outrageously stupid policy. The only question is whether or not the Republicans have the political courage to kill it.

They would be better off starting from scratch and doing a reformist, conservative bill that at the very least has more room for private options and is only eligible to seniors making, say, $30,000 or less (just as long as there is some means-testing) who currently lack health insurance. Then Ted Kennedy can filibuster it and look like the obstructionist liberal POS that he is.

A coalition of conservative Democrats and Missouri Republicans won three major victories for cultural conservatism this week. They passed a concealed-carry bill - albeit the most restrictive concealed-carry bill of any current state law - and also imposed new costs on women seeking abortions, both over the vetoes of Democrat Gov. Bob Holden. They even overrode a third Holden veto, keeping gun manufacturers from being liable for shootings by killers.

As a result, the gun industry in Missouri is better off. Missourians will be safer, and there will probably be fewer abortions too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Yesterday, Alabama voters rejected Governor Bob Riley's proposed tax hike by a staggering 68-32 margin. It would have raised Alabama's taxes by $1.2 billion a year.

Riley had spent weeks campaigning for the increase. Apparently his logic was, "Since Alabama is so poor and Alabama also has one of the lowest tax rates in the nation, higher taxes = a better-off state!" Riley's recent record was all the more depressing because he was a staunch conservative while representing his Alabama district in Congress.

In any case, his career is in big trouble. He will probably get knocked off in the primary. It's nice to see one Republican traitor get made an example of after other GOP Governors like Kenny Guinn and Bob Taft got away with fat tax hikes.

Monday, September 08, 2003

John Edwards has decided not to run for his Senate seat and to fully concentrate on his presidential campaign.

The likely Democrat contender will be Erskine Bowles, who lost by a none-too-thin margin to Elizabeth Dole in 2002.

I think the GOP will pick the seat up.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

This Japanese site has some amazing optical illusions. I especially liked the last one, which makes you see illusory black dots when you look at it, although they really aren't there.

Check it out to see what I mean :)

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Bob Graham's blog cusses out Wolfowitz and others. (Friday Sept. 5 post, "OK Quick" by Phillip Anderson)

Graham's campaign is beyond laughable, that's all I have to say.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Texas Democrat State Sen. John Whitmire broke with his ten state Senate colleagues in their run from Texas. He realized that the Democrats' running away did not endear him or his colleagues to the people of Texas.

The Republicans now have the quorum needed to pass their redistricting bill, eliminating five to seven Democrat representatives and giving the Republicans a hammerlock on the House of Representatives.

The ten remaining Democratic senators are trying to make a national issue out of redistricting. I would suggest that they convince Texas before they start a national "crusade". The Democrats had gerrymandered Texas so badly in the 90's that today 17 out of 32 representatives are Democrats, even though the state is about 60% Republican. The new map will alter the balance from 15-17 to about 21-11, which is much closer to Texas' real political alignment. I bet the GOP could have done better if they had gerrymandered as aggressively as the Democrats did in the 90's.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

President Bush today outlined a "Six-Point Plan" to improve the nation's rate of economic growth.

All the items he outlined have been proposed before. Now they are being grouped under one program. The bare bones of the program include: Medical Savings Accounts as a form of national health insurance; caps on malpractice awards; drilling for oil domestically; more bilateral free-trade agreements; and making permanent all tax cuts that he hasn't made permanent, notably the marriage penalty exemption, the small-business break, the "child tax credit", the estate tax elimination and the capital-gains/dividend cut. Cumulative with his 2001 cuts, that would add up to the gov't losing $2.8 trillion over the next ten years, or 10-12% of its total revenue.

Of course, none of those agenda items will pass in the current climate of a $455 billion deficit, with the possibility of free-trade accords. Congress recently passed free-trade agreements with Chile and Singapore by healthy majorities, and I see no reason why that trend can't continue into the future. The Democrats will fight tax cuts, drilling in ANWR and malpractice caps until their last breath, and they only need 41 votes in the Senate to stop it.

The economic recovery is gathering steam every day. Is there a chance - just an off-chance - that the Republican party establishment might have convinced itself that its tax cuts actually *worked*? (as opposed to just catering to the base and hoping the economy picks up on its own?) The best-case scenario would be for the Republicans to hammer the Democrats with how much their tax cuts have worked all through 2003, and then go into the 2004 budget deliberations and cut about $80 billion in spending and translate that into more tax cuts. (The budget resolution only requires a 51-50 majority, while issues outside of the budget generally require 60 votes.)

I would hope that the Republican establishment has taken the success of their tax cuts to heart. We will find out when the Republicans decide whether to slash spending in favor of more tax cuts, or not, in 2004. With current deficits as they are, further tax cuts will be impossible without dramatic cuts in spending.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

The Dow gained 107 points yesterday. It's now at about 9523, its highest in fourteen months. Since the Bush tax cut (before which it was stagnant), it has appreciated about 10 percent. Maybe the economic rebound actually is for real this time.

The number of open 2004 Senate seats has dramatically declined in recent weeks, thanks largely to Republican incompetence.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declined to challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 2004. I think he would have lost anyway, though. Huckabee has raised taxes as governor of Arkansas, while Lincoln has been one of the only Democrats who has supported Bush's tax cuts at all. The only other possible heavyweight against Lincoln is Asa Hutchison, a Homeland Security official who was a Representative for an Arkansas district. He probably won't run, though. That means that Lincoln is home free for 2004.

Nevada Rep. Jim Gibbons declined to challenge Democrat Sen. Harry Reid in 2004 either, although a credible challenger may yet emerge to run against him.

Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski has toed a pretty conservative line since 2002. Her favorability ratings are in the mid-fifties, which warded off a serious primary challenge. Additionally, all of the credible Democratic candidates for president are against oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which will seriously damage the Democrats in the Senate race there. Lisa Murkowski will probably keep the seat for the GOP.

The only major Republican vulnerability is Peter Fitzgerald's Illinois Senate seat. Fitzgerald decided not to run in 2004, because it would have forced him to spend a lot of money defending his seat in an increasingly Democratic state. The Democrats will probably gain this seat.

Tom Daschle, the Democrat Senate Minority Leader, will be a tough opponent for John Thune. Daschle has a favorability rating of 57 percent, compared to Bush's 63 percent. Rep. Bill Janklow will probably resign after killing a motorcyclist while going 16 mph over the speed limit, which would open up a prominent statewide office that Thune would be a shoo-in for. I think Thune will wait it out until 2008 or 2010 and go for the House seat instead; running against Daschle would simply be too risky. If Thune doesn't run against Daschle, Daschle will win easily.

That leaves the Republicans with solid pickup opportunities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Washington state's race between Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. George Nethercutt might become competitive in the future. If the California Republicans can win the governorship and pick up steam from the recall, they might be able to mount a credible challenge to Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Right now, the GOP is looking at a gain of about 3 Senate seats for 2004.

The House is still safe GOP territory. The Democrats' redistricting gambit in Texas appears to have failed miserably; the Democrats' boycott of the House appears to be falling apart. The Republicans will get their redistricting through after all, which will guarantee a gain of at least five House seats for the 2004 elections nationally.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Arnold's campaign really seems to be languishing. He won't debate. Gray Davis' smear squad (gleefully assisted by Matt Drudge) is really doing its work. How many more allegations of racism, drugs and sex can Arnold's campaign take, while at the same time Arnold refuses to debate or clarify his policy positions?

Tom McClintock is playing a critical role in this race for the Republicans. Not only is he pulling Schwarzenegger to the right, but he's also an insurance policy in case Arnold's campaign self-destructs. Virtually all of Simon's supporters will go to McClintock, which will put Bustamante at 35%, Schw. at 22% and McClintock at 18%. If the conservative Peter Ueberroth drops out (his campaign is going nowhere), McClintock could very well become the Republican front-runner. What happens then? Schwarzenegger is not going to quit. If he can't win this race, he won't win anything else; the recall is tailor-made for him, and losing it would badly tarnish his credentials for a future race, such as they are.

Will McClintock quit either? On every occasion, he has told reporters that he is "in this race to the finish - that is 8 p.m., October 7." He represents a major conservative constituency. He hates the California GOP establishment, because it wrecked McClintock's chance to win a statewide office. Gerald Parsky, the White House official, so despised McClintock that he diverted hundreds of thousands of $$ to less competent, more liberal and less viable Republicans than McClintock. The result was that the California GOP was massacred in 2002; the only sign of encouragement was McClintock, who lost his race for state controller by .3% despite being outspent 5 to 1. Anyway, the point is that McClintock has every reason to stick it to the California Republican establishment, and he has a remote chance of winning the governorship for himself. That means he probably means it when he says he's in the race for the duration. If that is the case, Cruz Bustamante will win on Oct. 7.