Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Counterbalance for Tue 24 Oct.

Old Glory
The buzz inside the Beltway outside the mainstream.

  • Republican Senate candidates have fought back to regain an edge in two key races, pivotal battlegrounds that could determine which party controls the Senate, according to a series of new McClatchy-MSNBC polls. Republicans hold narrow leads in Tennessee and Virginia, two must-win states where the party hopes to build a Southern bulwark against a Democratic tide that's threatening their Senate seats elsewhere across the country.

  • Jubiland Democrats should reconsider their order for confetti and noisemakers. The Democrats, as widely reported, are expecting GOP-weary voters to flock to the polls in two weeks and hand them control of the House for the first time in 12 years -- and perhaps the Senate, as well. Even some Republicans privately confess that they are anticipating the election-day equivalent of Little Big Horn. Pardon our hubris, but we just don't see it, writes Jim McTague in Barrons.

    Our analysis -- based on a race-by-race examination of campaign-finance data -- suggests that the GOP will hang on to both chambers, at least nominally. We expect the Republican majority in the House to fall by eight seats, to 224 of the chamber's 435. At the very worst, our analysis suggests, the party's loss could be as large as 14 seats, leaving a one-seat majority. But that is still a far cry from the 20-seat loss some are predicting. In the Senate, with 100 seats, we see the GOP winding up with 52, down three.

  • Mario Loyola, writing in the National Review, says democracy is succeeding in Iraq.

    Even conservatives are now starting to become almost irretrievably saturnine in their pessimism on Iraq. On National Review Online last week, Jonah Goldberg wrote that “the Iraq war was a mistake by the most obvious criteria: If we had known then what we know now, we would never have gone to war with Iraq in 2003.” Across the political spectrum, people have come to a similar conclusion, but the judgment contains several propositions worth examining closely.
    As General Douglas Macarthur said about Japan, “occupation is a wasting asset.” We will soon hit a point of rapidly diminishing returns in our effort to help the government of Iraq stand on its own. But those returns are not diminishing yet, even with Baghdad caught in a paroxysm of violence. In the meantime, let’s give the Iraqi government a chance. Two years ago they had no forces of their own. Now they have 300,000 troops. Those are real numbers, and they are taking real casualties -- now many more than we are. They need our help, and are proving worthy of it. And the benefit of having a democratic ally in the heart of the Middle East will prove priceless long into the future -- which is why al Qaeda has made this the centralfront in the War on Terror.

  • Thomas Sowell asks if we should give Democrats (and the cut and run Republicans who feel it is time to set this election out) a blank check to act like ostriches with their heads in the sand when the fate of 300 million Americans is held in the balance.

    It is now clear to all that this year's Democrats are deliberately avoiding spelling out any coherent policy program of their own.
    Their strategy is to second-guess, denigrate and undermine Republicans instead of offering an agenda of their own. Rather than having a contract with America, they are seeking a blank check from America. Moreover, they may get it.
    It is obscene that our media should be obsessed with some jerk in Congress who wrote dirty e-mails to Congressional pages -- and was forced out of Congress for it -- when this nation faces dangers of this magnitude.
    It would be worse than obscene for some voters to cut off their nose to spite their face by either staying home on election day or actually voting a blank check from America for a party with a decades-long history of irresponsibility on national defense.
    This is no longer about hawks and doves. It is about ostriches who bury their heads in the sand -- and about those voters who are prepared to give a blank check to ostriches.
  • Pete DuPont, writing in The Wall Street Journal, answers the question: Just what WILL happen if Democrats win?

    First, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has promised that election of a Democratic House would insure "a rollback of the [Bush] tax cuts." Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, who would be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, would make sure no tax cut extension bill would ever get to the floor. He voted against the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and the bill that later extended the tax cuts until 2010 (as did all but seven of the 205 Democratic House members). In September Mr. Rangel said that he "cannot think of one" Bush tax cut he would agree to renew.
    Second, President Bush will not be able to re-energize his effort for individually owned Social Security accounts, for "preventing the privatization of social security" is in the Democratic National Committee's "6-Point Plan for 2006." Democrats don't trust people to own or invest their own retirement funds--better to let a wise government do that, for as socialist Noam Chomsky says, "putting people in charge of their own assets breaks down the solidarity that comes from doing something together." And since Congress gets to spend Social Security tax receipts that aren't needed to pay benefits, letting people invest their payments in their own retirement accounts would be a costly revenue reduction that the new, bigger-spending Congress won't allow to happen.
    "Reducing dependence on foreign oil" is a good Democratic goal, and there are a number of ways to accomplish it. Building more nuclear power plants is one. Offshore drilling for oil and natural gas is another. Oil reserves in the Outer Continental Shelf and Alaska could replace foreign oil imports for 25 years, and there is a known 19-year OCS supply of natural gas.
    But liberal Democrats are opposed to all of these solutions. Hillary Clinton is opposed to the construction of nuclear plants and offshore drilling. Every Democratic senator on the Environment and Public Works Committee voted against allowing the building of new oil refineries on closed military bases. When the House voted 232-187 in June to allow and encourage OCS oil and natural-gas drilling, 155 of 195 Democrats voted to block it. The Democratic alternative is to eliminate the $18 billion the oil companies now get in various business tax deductions and thereby impose a higher income tax on them.
    As for the war in Iraq, Mr. Rangel observed that "You've got to be able to pay for the war, don't you?" In other words, end it by simply defunding it. Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania calls for "immediate redeployment of U.S. troops" and intends to run for majority leader if the Democrats take control of the House. Ninety percent of House Democrats opposed the terrorist surveillance program, and 80% voted against the recent terrorist interrogation legislation.
    Finally, when we see what the new leaders of a Democratic House are likely to do, their views are--well--very different from most Americans. Rep Henry Waxman of California would become the Government Reform Committee chairman, and believes domestic terrorist surveillance is "illegal." He would use his subpoena power to launch investigations to try and limit the president's anti-terrorism powers.
    Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, who would become chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has talked about subpoenaing "Bush administration officials to answer questions and face the consequences for their abuses of power." In other words, impeachment.
    Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi has indicated she would like to put Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida in charge of the House Intelligence Committee. As a federal judge, he was impeached in the House by a 413-3 vote, and removed from the bench by the Senate for bribery, corruption, and perjury. Rep. Hastings would lead the oversight of America's antiterrorism policies.
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Blogger James Aach said...

In general, I find it painful when almost any pundit or politician of any stripe discusses energy - and particularly our energy future and eletricity generation. Few of these folks have more than a dim sense of how electricity is made (and how difficult it is to produce a lot of it), and there is little perspective on the tradeoffs between each source.

I like to think we'll make better decisions about our energy future if we first understand our energy present. I know nuclear power, having worked in the industry for over twenty years, and I was schooled in fossil and alternative energy. But if I wrote a learned paper on it, who would read it? So instead, I wrote a thriller novel that covers all the key ground - particularly with respect to nuclear power. "Rad Decision" is available free online to readers - and they seem to like it, judging from their homepage comments. It's full of the type of inside perspective you won't get from think tanks and science magazines.


12:18 AM EDT  

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