Thursday, July 31, 2003

2004 U.S. Senate races

John J. Miller has a good summary up of the 2004 U.S. Senate races. I agree with most of his assessments of individual races. Based on my calculations, I would put the betting line at a GOP pickup of two seats. A lot, of course, will depend on whether President Bush is in a tough reelection fight or is headed for a landslide victory. A weak Democratic Presidential candidate could lead to a GOP pickup of five or six seats.

By the way, the GOP is almost certain to pick seats in the House. Dick Gephardt has promised Democratic congressmen that they would retake the House every election since 1996, and a lot of them are ready to quit.
Pollster silliness

A corollary of my observation that most political reporters actually know very little about politics is the fact that most pollsters actually know very little about campaigns. The Louisiana gubernatorial election takes place with an open primary, meaning that the top two candidates (regardless of party) make the general election. There are currently eight major candidates for the race, and more candidates may enter, meaning that the two candidates to make the runoff will likely need 25-30% of the vote in the primary election.

In spite of this, pollster Verne Kennedy is advising candidates who have low favorable/unfavorable ratings to get out of the race. This is silly, and John Hill (the reporter) is smart enough to figure that out. Edwin Edwards certainly had an atrocious ratio in 1991, yet he made the general election and won easily, because his opponent was David Duke. The candidates' objective now is to make it to the general election, and none of the candidates have unfavorable ratings above 32%, which certainly shouldn't discourage any of them.

Hill also ignores the fact that Kennedy's poll was conducted for another possible candidate! Is it any surprise that he's advising other candidates to get out of the race? Is it any surprise that Kennedy says that voters "do not want a political insider," since his candidate has never held political office? I am dumbfounded that Hill presented these comments as objective without any qualification or mention of the conflict of interest involved.

What really counts at this stage is the percentage of voters who have firmly made up their mind to vote for a particular candidate. I haven't seen any poll results to indicate what those numbers might be. On the other hand, polls that ask who someone would vote for "if the election were held today" are essentially meaningless this far out, because poll respondents will usually just answer someone whose name they recognize.

(Disclaimer: I am supporting Jay Blossman's campaign for governor.)
Iraqi elections necessary for Bush?

Interesting to see Paul Bremer saying that Iraqi elections could take place within a year. Now, obviously, the sooner elections are held, the sooner we can get additional international support for Iraq and the sooner we can begin withdrawing troops, etc.

I wonder, though, whether Karl Rove also wants Iraq to hold elections next summer. A smiling, friendly leader of a free Iraq would certainly help ensure President Bush's reelection.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Louisiana gubernatorial race update

Whoa! Kathleen Blanco is now pushing for major corporate tax cuts? She's starting to sound like conservative Republican Jay Blossman. Getting rid of these taxes was the brainchild of former state GOP chairman Mike Francis, who was ridiculed at the time by Governor Foster and most of the political establishment. The idea is now starting to catch on because the business exodus from the state is undeniable and is having a devastating effect on local economies. Louisiana is still only one of two states in the nation that actually tax corporate debt. Right now, the Corporate Franchise Tax is just another example of how pathetic our state government truly is, but the smell of change is in the air.

(Disclaimer: I am supporting Jay Blossman for governor.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

What are ethics anyway?

I'm really impressed by Leo Hickman's concern for how he can lead "a more ethical" lifestyle. He's called in some "experts" from Friends of the Earth, the Soil Association, and Ethical Consumer to help him write a book on the subject.

Of course, Friends of the Earth is worried about farmers killing too many weeds, the Soil Association is leading the charge against feeding the world's hungry, and Ethical Consumer is fighting to prevent people from owning pet fish!

Leo needs to "ease his conscience," and somehow I think the blogosphere could help. Does anyone have any ideas for him (maybe involving caring about people instead of animals and plants)? If so, the article says to let Leo know.

Monday, July 28, 2003

"Sending the wrong message" about race

From Ohio, there's this story about some parents who don't want a white teacher teaching their kids' "black history" class. Killer grafs:

Phyllis Yarber Hogan, a member of the Oberlin Black Alliance for Progress, said a white teacher wouldn't be well-suited to teaching students about subjects like slavery.

"When you talk about slavery, students need to understand it is not our fault," she said. "Our ancestors did nothing wrong to be enslaved.

"How do you work through that when the person teaching it is the same type of person who did the enslaving?"

Wow, I didn't know that most black kids blame themselves for slavery ... guess I'm just behind the times. Don't they know that slavery is the Republicans' fault? Note also the implication that any white person is a wannabe slave owner. Some more nonsense:

Using a white teacher at Oberlin High School would send the wrong message to black students, said A.G. Miller, an associate professor of American and African religious history at Oberlin College.

"The message is that we are not concerned about the importance of your historical background ... that that is less important than a schedule conflict," said Miller, whose three children graduated from Oberlin High School.

Note that the article doesn't mention that it is illegal discrimination to choose a black teacher to teach a class instead of a more qualified white teacher. Ultimately, this situation could be a great "message" to students that discrimination is wrong and the ability to teach doesn't depend on the color of one's skin. By the way, I somehow doubt that the school would automatically disqualify black teachers from teaching European history.

UPDATE: David Bernstein had pretty much the same reaction to this story that I did.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Strategic overview of war and foreign policy

If you want to read a great summary of our strategic objectives with respect to the Middle East, then this essay by Steven Den Beste is essential reading. I agree with over 95% of this.

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