From my favorite tv economist - Larry Kudlow

"Permit me to take a contrarian view on the oil price shock. I say three cheers for higher energy prices. Why? Because I believe in markets. When the price of something goes up, demand falls off (call it conservation) and supply increases (call it new production). We're seeing a tectonic shift.

As Dan Yergin has advised us, energy supplies in the next few years will explode. Now the public is even favoring nuclear power. And the government is stepping out of the way by giving FERC the authority to override localities who oppose nuclear power, liquefied natural gas or other forms of energy.

Meanwhile the impact on the economy has been negligible, at least so far. And the Fed has prevented oil inflation from spreading to the rest of the economy. So much so that I think they should quit raising rates while they're ahead.

Meanwhile the spread of global capitalism to places like China, India, eastern Europe and elsewhere (which is a very good thing for world prosperity) is the main cause of the spike in energy.

So supply will rise exponentially in the years ahead, demand will slow a bit and we'll all live happily ever after. The moral of this story: markets work if you let them."


Taiwan Fiddles
August 24, 2005

Taiwan spends a small fortune lobbying Washington so the U.S. will ride to its rescue in case of a Chinese attack. Yet more than four years after the U.S. offered a package of advanced defense weapons, politicians in Taipei still haven't decided to buy them. This isn't helping Taiwan's cause in Washington.

In April 2001, the Bush administration reversed the Clinton policy and offered Patriot anti-missile batteries, anti-submarine aircraft and diesel submarines. It did so at some diplomatic risk, since China has objected to the sale. But Taiwan clearly needs a stronger deterrent given China's military buildup, which includes more missiles targeting the island and aggressive submarine activity. China passed an anti-secession law in March, mandating force if Taiwan rejects "peaceful reunification."

But legislators in Taiwan have blocked any purchase plan proposed by President Chen Shui-bian. Some opposition politicians have even accused the U.S. of using the arms sales as a pretext to pursue a hidden agenda of demonizing China. Lien Chan, until last week chairman of the main opposition party, has argued the country can't afford the $15 billion price tag. But this doesn't wash for an island with per-capita income of $13,000 a year.

Mr. Lien, as it happens, was given red-carpet treatment during a high-profile visit to Beijing in April. A month later, he rebuffed a plea from 33 U.S. Congressmen to end his party's obstruction of the bill now before Taiwan's legislature and approve special funding for the arms purchases. Mr. Lien instead blamed President Chen for waiting three years before submitting the funding request in June 2004. Opposition parties, which run the legislature, have used procedural tactics to block the funding bill at least 26 times.

The good news is that the recent Pentagon report on China's military has put opponents on the defensive by highlighting how Taiwan risks "being quickly overwhelmed" by Beijing's rapidly modernizing forces. And Mr. Lien has been succeeded as KMT chairman by Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, who seems to understand the urgency of the arms purchases.

The problem is that while Taiwan dawdles, China keeps modernizing its military. The 2001 U.S. offer, while still useful, may require upgrading if Taiwan truly wants the capability to hold off an invading force long enough to allow the U.S. to intervene. Given Taiwan's half-hearted response to the current arms offer, there's little point in considering a fresh one now. But if Taiwan wants the U.S. to risk its blood and treasure in the event of an attack, paying for an adequate defense would seem to be a minimum prerequisite.



The Wall Street Journal Editorial page gets it right 98% of the time. However, when it comes to China and illegal aliens, they're slightly off the mark. Today, they have an editorial about China. While I see that and jump for joy, they see it and look to help them out of it... ehh, nobody's perfect.

China Does Carternomics
August 19, 2005; Page A12

We don't know if the Chinese have suddenly appointed Jimmy Carter as their energy czar, or whether it just seems that way. The two- and three-hour long gas lines now stretching down city blocks in many provinces in China are certainly an unwelcome reminder of the 1970s when U.S. policies caused a similar energy panic.

So let's think of this as a teaching moment. In China today, many of the same Carter-era policy prescriptions for high energy prices have incited the unprecedented gas lines. The government has imposed price controls on oil and gas in an effort to fight inflation, just as the U.S. did back then, and in the last few weeks it has even resurrected another Carter-era gem, a "windfall petroleum profits tax" on oil and gas producers. Perhaps Chinese President Hu Jintao will soon deliver a televised speech to the nation wearing a cardigan.

By holding domestic prices to about $10 a barrel below the world price, according to the International Energy Agency, Chinese oil firms have discovered they can make more money selling energy abroad than at home, thus lengthening the gas lines.

Gasoline shortages in recent days have become so severe that Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reports that the waiting lines have infuriated "everyone from taxi drivers to farmers across the country, and could threaten social stability." Two other Asian nations, Indonesia and the Philippines, have also been toying with oil price controls and gasoline rationing -- so they might want to watch and learn from the Chinese mistake.

Price controls that are set below the market price always exacerbate shortages, because the artificially low price causes demand to rise and supply to fall. With the price no longer permitted to equilibrate supply and demand, consumers wind up paying not with dollars, but worse, through waiting lines and lost hours in the day. That's what beleaguered Russians learned many times over when they waited in grocery lines for price-controlled bread and chicken and chocolates during the Soviet era.

And it is what enraged Americans learned when parked in gas service station lines at 7 a.m. during the 1970s, which, since it included both the Nixon and Carter years, was arguably the worst period for U.S. economic policy during the last century, Herbert Hoover excluded. A windfall profits tax only discourages increases in supply by disincentivizing further production. High profits are precisely the desirable signal that a market sends to firms to find and produce more oil and gas.

The good news for the Chinese is that they can look to history for a way out. When Ronald Reagan became President in 1981, two of his first official acts were to immediately repeal all Carter-era oil and gas price controls and to repeal the oil windfall profits tax. Oil prices soon rose to their natural market level, and through the invisible hand of the market, production rose, consumption fell and prices began a steady decade-long decline. The U.S. energy "crisis" was over



One Simple Rate

August 15, 2005; Page A12

A major domestic battle looms this fall, when tax reform -- a centerpiece of the president's bold domestic agenda -- will finally be on the table. The President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform is expected to release its findings by the end of September. After the political shellacking the White House took on Social Security, the administration will be strongly tempted to take a conciliatory path that supports only superficial reforms, essentially preserving the status quo of our hideous income tax code.

Such a course would have perilous consequences, economically and politically. In fact, the administration has an opportunity here to boldly retake the initiative, to recover lost political support and thrust an already decent economy into high gear and, at the same time, make America better able to meet intensifying competition from China, India and others. How? By junking the entire federal income tax code and starting over with a flat tax. A growing number of countries are doing this -- and so should we.

The current system is beyond redemption, a beast whose complexity, confusion and outright unfairness have corrupted our economy and society. Americans waste more than $200 billion and over six billion hours each year filling out tax forms. They engage in all kinds of useless economic activity intended to take advantage of the code's complicated maze of deductions and to reduce taxes -- from deducting donations of old socks to making unwanted investments. The waste of brainpower -- at a time of increasing global competition -- is incalculable.

The code corrupts our system of government by encouraging the crassest political conduct and by creating a massive, intrusive federal bureaucracy. One-sixth of the private-sector employees in Washington are employed by the lobbying industry. One-half of their efforts are directed at wrangling changes in the tax code. Few people realize that our health-care system, with its runaway costs, is, in fact, the ultimate product of the tax-code distortion in our economy. And last, but most definitely not least, we simply pay too much in tax. When you take into account all the taxes, fees and tolls paid to the government, the typical American pays somewhere around half or more of his income in taxes. Why do we the people accept this?

My flat tax plan has one simple rate, on the federal level: 17% on personal income; and 17% on corporate profits. There would be generous exemptions for individuals: $13,200 for each adult; $4,000 for each child or dependent and a refundable tax credit of $1,000 per child age 16 or younger. A family of four would pay no federal income tax on its first $46,165 of income. Exemptions for a family of six -- mom, dad, four kids -- would be $65,930. No anti-risktaking capital gains levy; the capital gains tax would go to 0%. The abusive Alternative Minimum (really maximum) Tax would be abolished. No more death tax: You'd leave the world unmolested by the IRS. No taxation without respiration!

Corporate profits would be taxed at a rate of 17%. Companies could expense all investments at once: no more depreciation schedules. If these instant write-offs produce a loss, that can be carried forward to use against future profits for as many years as necessary to use it up. And businesses would be taxed only on income made in the U.S.

The economic boom the flat tax would unleash would be stupendous, ushering in a long-term, non-inflationary expansion of historic proportions. The current expansion would pale in comparison. Once again, we would be the clear global leader in high-tech and medical innovations -- unlike today, when our lead, thanks in no small part to the tax code, is now under increasing assault.

How would a flat tax do this? What so many "experts" can't grasp is that taxes are not only a means of raising revenue for governments but also a price and a burden. The tax you pay on income is the price you pay for working; the tax on profits is the price you pay for being successful, and the levy on capital gains is the price you pay for taking risks that work out. When you lower the price of good things, such as productive work, success and risktaking, you get more of them. The flat tax does that dramatically.

Experience demonstrates time and time again -- the Harding-Coolidge tax cuts of the 1920s, the Kennedy cuts of the '60s, the Reagan cuts of the '80s and the Bush reductions of 2003 -- that lower tax rates lead to more economic activity, which leads to more government revenue. Fiscal Associates of Alexandria, Va., an economic consulting firm, did an analysis of the flat tax. Its findings: between 2005 and 2015, the Forbes Flat Tax Plan would generate $56 billion more in new government revenue than the current income tax. More important, an estimated $6 trillion in additional assets would be created, an immense boost to our nation's balance sheet. This study also predicts that that flat tax would lead to nearly 3.5 million new jobs by 2011 -- jobs that otherwise would not exist.

To avoid puerile and divisive debate about who would gain and who would lose, my flat tax is designed to be a tax cut for all. Because some people will only focus on what they lose in the way of deductions under the flat tax -- ignoring the fact that their income tax payments would go down -- my plan gives you a choice: When the flat tax is implemented, you can file your postcard return under this new, simple system, or continue to file your tax returns, with all of their mind-numbing complexity, under the old system. See for yourself which is better. I think most would conclude that the flat tax is best.

Other countries are getting the message, even if we have yet to. Hong Kong has successfully had a variation of the flat tax for 60 years. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia enacted flat taxes in the '90s that have been hugely successful. Russia put in a flat tax four years ago, and revenues have more than doubled in real terms. Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania, Georgia and Serbia have also successfully enacted flat taxes. How ironic that one-time Communist nations have been reaping the benefits of a flat tax before that bastion of free enterprise, the U.S.

President Bush should understand that trying to tinker with the tax beast won't work. In 1986, Ronald Reagan simplified the tax code somewhat: A number of tax shelters were eliminated and the number of tax brackets were cut to two: 28% and 15%. But the code remained intact. No sooner was the ink of Reagan's signature dry than Washington politicians slid back into their bad, old habits. Since his day, the federal income tax code has been amended 14,000 times. The tax system today is 60% larger than it was after the Reagan reforms. The flat tax's very simplicity makes such backsliding difficult: Any change would trigger a national debate. For insurance, the Forbes Flat Tax also contains a supermajority provision -- taxes can't be raised unless approved by a 60% vote in both the House and Senate. Few tax boosts in recent decades have surmounted such a barrier. The usual objections to the flat tax don't hold up. The flat tax will help housing -- personal incomes would go up and interest rates would go down -- and boost charitable giving. Experience demonstrates that when people earn more they give more.

* * *
What about a national retail sales tax? The most prominent plan encompassing this idea proposes a sales tax of 30% to replace the income tax and payroll tax. This 30% tax poses many challenges, among them repealing the 16th Amendment, which allows Washington to impose the income tax -- a lengthy, onerous process. Otherwise, we would likely end up with both an income tax and a sales tax.

The national sales tax would dramatically raise prices of many goods and services. Imagine a couple buying a new house costing, say, $200,000, coughing up an extra $60,000 in sales taxes. A new dedicated bureaucracy would be necessary to collect the tax and to disburse rebates (which the plan's advocates propose) from Uncle Sam to tens of millions of Americans every month to repay them for a portion of the sales tax they pay on food and clothing. Under the circumstances, the flat tax seems the best alternative to the current abomination.

That's why George Bush should pull a Ronald Reagan -- he should demand that Congress destroy this hideous tax system, the way Reagan demanded that Mikhail Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall. Should the president make such a plea, the American people would surprise the Washington cynics and give him a grateful, full-throated cry of support.

Mr. Forbes, editor in chief of Forbes Magazine and president & CEO of Forbes Inc., is the author of "Flat Tax Revolution: Using a Postcard to Abolish the IRS" (Regnery, 2005).


The moral case for reform

John Kurzweil is editor of California Political Review.
Posted: August 8, 2005

Peter Schweizer, in his book Reagan’s War, says Ronald Reagan’s guiding insight was that for all its bluster and destructiveness, communism was not a tower of strength to be feared, but a quivering mass of weakness ripe for defeat. Reagan knew its very reliance on lies and violence betrayed its weakness, and so was able to proceed against it with a confidence in final victory shared by few other men.

Visits to websites run by a major opponent of the state’s November reform initiatives — the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — conveyed a similar impression of weakness, and reminded me of a comment from Albert Speer’s Inside the Third Reich:

It remains one of the oddities of this war that Hitler demanded far less from his people than Churchill and Roosevelt did from their respective nations. The discrepancy between the total mobilization of labor forces in democratic England and the casual treatment of this question in authoritarian Germany is proof of the regime’s anxiety not to risk any shift in the popular mood .... Whereas Churchill promised his people only blood, sweat, and tears, all we heard during the various phases and various crises of the war was Hitler’s slogan: “The final victory is certain.” This was a confession of political weakness. It betrayed great concern over a loss of popularity that might develop into an insurrectionary mood.

This, of course, is the weakness of materialism: by definition unable to draw upon the virtually limitless reservoirs of strength in the human spirit, it must make do with the shallowest of appeals, those of worldly self- interest and the tawdry emotions that accompany it — anger at one’s enemies, real or perceived; festering resentment over life’s difficulties and disappointments; continuous fear of “running out” of life’s necessities; shallow lust after the appearances of personal success — and envy for anyone who seems to have found it — but without the seriousness of purpose that motivates genuine striving for greatness. As Midge Decter says of left-wing feminists in another part of this issue, they appeared on the scene “militant, angry, and in the grip of a curious but lethal combination of galloping self-pity and driving ambition.”

No doubt I will be accused of saying California’s labor unions are run by Nazis and communists. No, I am not saying that. I do say the role those controlling California’s public employee unions have chosen to play in this election betrays weakness, showing the same signs of weakness — reliance on empty slogans and stimulation of low emotions — that tyrannies do.

In “Winning Big, Going Global,” for instance, a short pep talk signed by SEIU President Andrew L. Stern at http://www.seiu.org/who/2003_annual_report/ stern_letter.cfm, Stern asks: “Who could have imagined that this union of working people who often feel individually powerless could become recognized by public officials and corporate executives as one of the most powerful organizations in the country?” (emphasis added)

I know this is standard liberal rhetoric, but why should that excuse it? Where, after all, is this load of stuffing coming from? Stern makes 21st century America sound like feudal England, with peasants and serfs and lords of the manor. In worldly terms — the terms Mr. Stern is concerned with here — the American middle class workers that make up his union are among the most “powerful” people ever to walk the earth. They dispose of income qualifying them as rich in almost any society in other parts of the world today and anywhere at all throughout history up to the most recent past. They have fewer worries about disease, accidental injury, war, famine, crime, poverty, ignorance, repression, racism — you name it — even boredom, than at least nine-tenths of all the men who ever lived. They enjoy technological advancements and the freedom of choice they bring that make the greatest holders of wealth and power of past ages (and still much of the world today) paupers by comparison. And as for California government employees specifically, almost no one can match, much less beat, the pay/benefit/retirement packages they enjoy, thanks to SEIU’s and other unions’ lavish political donations to grateful Democrats who return the favor by agreeing to every demand for more that state government receives from the very same unions.

But still they feel “powerless”? Perhaps it is merely convenient for Mr. Stern to encourage them to feel that way, or else they might begin to doubt the necessity of supporting his bureaucratic union structure and vast left-wing political operations with their involuntarily paid dues.

Here’s a standard articulation of the political issues California faces, presented by SEIU’s Sacramento-based Local 1000 on its website: “Public workers, teachers, firefighters, nurses, police, and the people from our communities who desperately need our services stood up May 25 to protest Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s $70 million special election and his cruel budget cuts.” And here are some lines from a new TV spot union bosses are airing: “Off camera announcer: ‘Papers report the governor has a secret plan to create a “phenomenon of anger” against teachers and other public workers, blaming them for what’s wrong with California.’” This slam reportedly comes from an LA Times article that quoted Schwarzenegger media adviser Don Sipple in a conference call with supporters in which, presumably, Mr. Sipple made the major gaffe of suggesting voters be invited to consider the motivations and tactics of the state spending lobby. He should have remembered that no one supports budget- busting state spending except “people who desperately need our [union] services” and that only Republicans may be called “cruel.”

The key issues on this ballot are, one, ending the self-interested drawing of legislative and congressional district lines to insure the Parties that hold a district never need worry about losing it and, two, requiring union political machines to receive permission from public employees before taking their money for politics. Where is the left’s consideration of the serious issues of democratic government here raised? Where is its honest dealing with the ancillary issues arising from the phenomenon not of anger, but of taxpayers — virtually all the people — sacrificing for the comfort of the pampered few who work in state government?

Where is the honest analysis — in the interests of those “who desperately need our services” — of the actual efficacy of state programs? Accountability is not only unknown in Sacramento, it is considered a vile topic raised only by people of low motives and corrupt nature. We have “entitlements” to social welfare programs and “baseline budgeting” that begins with last year’s spending as the absolute floor on which to build this year’s increases — but no accountability. A few year’s ago, a newspaper reported that legislative hearings uncovered the truth that no one, literally not anyone, knows how the budget for California’s vast prison system is spent. The money — billions of dollars — goes, but we can’t say where, or couldn’t, at least as of the date of those hearings. I would be grateful to any reader who can show me the state has done anything substantial to change things.

In CPR’s most recent issue, Ray Haynes (“A terrible thing to waste,” May/June) cataloged the decade-long crusade propelled mainly by teachers union honchos to head off the setting of academic standards for state public school instruction and of all testing to determine the quality of their teaching along with any talk of merit awards to encourage good teachers. Accountability, in a word, would not be established. The people “who desperately need our services,” not to mention that they also pay the bills, would not be permitted to learn how well their schools are teaching the kids who actually do desperately need to learn. Listen to the voice of the unions, talking either to their own members or to the people of the state. All you hear are demands for more money, never any calls for accountability.

Finally, when do these people consider the larger, more generous concerns for the overall direction of our state or the long-term fate of its people? What is becoming of our freedom? How will it all be sustained? What will become of our children? — questions asked seriously only by men and women confident of the moral strength of their positions, people willing to pledge blood, tears, and sweat, knowing that the justice of their cause demands and justifies it. But weak people are too busy scrambling for survival, too hag-ridden by their own small dreams, by their “feelings of powerlessness,” by envy and anger, to consider these selfless questions.

The moral cause of this election is to break the cycle of despair afflicting California government. We can be free people: self-reliant, prepared to work hard, ready to endure disappointment, to persevere, to live. We need no Nanny State to protect us — it is, indeed, the state bureaucracy that is strangling us, depriving us of our confidence. The end of the gerrymander and of forced political contributions won’t leave us orphans; it will liberate us and make us strong, because the cause it serves is just.

Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy Endorses Harry Scolinos


For five years, I have had the honor of representing the 59th Assembly District. Due to term limits, my time in the State Assembly will come to an end next year.

For the last few months, I have reviewed the names of potential candidates who wish to succeed me in the Legislature. Between my father and myself, for almost thirty years, my family has proudly represented solid conservative values in the California Legislature. After taking a close look at the candidates, I am convinced that Harry Scolinos would be the best choice to continue representing those values and the people of the 59th Assembly District.

Harry Scolinos is an impressive man of faith who has a strong record of accomplishment and a proven ability to raise the funds needed to compete and win the 59th Assembly District.

Harry is committed to securing our borders and continuing the battle to stop the billions of dollars our state spends on illegal aliens every year. Harry is passionate about holding the line on taxes and he has the will power to stand up to the spending lobby in Sacramento.

As owner and CEO of US Fingerprinting, Harry is already working to make our world more secure by helping identify those who would endanger our safety and that of our children. In the State Assembly, Harry would continue his fight for a more secure California while also protecting our tax dollars from the liberal spending machine that drove our state to the verge of bankruptcy.

Harry is a decorated veteran who won a bronze star for his service in Vietnam. He has the kind of character and business background that we need in Sacramento.

Harry Scolinos is a quality conservative who shares our values on traditional family issues. He will stand up for the unborn and fight for the protection of marriage between a man and a woman.

I hope you will take the time to look at Harry’s candidacy and his stand on the issues and I am confident you will find him worthy of your support.


59th Assembly District

UPDATE Attorney General Race 2006




Campaign finance reports covering the past six months were made public last week. Because of committed friends and supporters like you, Chuck’s campaign slightly exceeded its goal of having $2 million in the bank in preparation for next year’s very challenging election.

Sure, that goal was ambitious, but with a general election campaign that could cost upwards of $12 million, we could not spare any effort in building a war chest. Due to hard work by Chuck, his campaign staff, and folks like you, we achieved the first critical benchmark in the campaign.

In fact, some of the reporters covering the race were surprised. The Oakland Tribune – in Jerry Brown’s backyard – conceded that Senator Poochigian “has shown he’s no slouch in the money department either.” Several papers noted that Chuck’s campaign actually raised more than Brown in the past six months. On the other hand, L.A. City Attorney, Rockard Delgadillo, also raised more than Brown in that period, making clear that he will be running an aggressive, well-funded campaign.

The good news is that Brown and Delgadillo have already begun to take pot shots at one another. Brown accused his opponent of being AWOL on last fall’s initiative to weaken the Three Strikes law, and Delgadillo claims Brown represents the past while he represents the future.

Delgadillo is very likely to bring up some of Brown’s liabilities like his proposal to make Jesse Jackson his vice-presidential running mate in 1992 or the fact that Brown hasn’t won a statewide general election in 27 years. And Brown will surely point out that Delgadillo’s knowledge of statewide issues is slim to none.

In the meantime, we have a continuing challenge – and that is to marshal our financial resources so that Chuck will be fully funded when the primary campaigns end. It is critically important that we move aggressively forward to meet the goal of having $6 million on hand when the general election begins. That will give Chuck enormous momentum towards victory next November.

Make no mistake, this will be a tough campaign. But we have the superior candidate, the more disciplined, skilled and motivated campaign team, and issues that resonate directly with voters who want a tough, fair, common sense Attorney General to enforce the law.

Do you wonder how you can help? Start by sending this memo to your entire email list or make copies to hand out. Ask all of your friends to go to our website, POOCHIGIAN4AG.COM to sign up as supporters and volunteers. We will need to double and re-double our efforts at building financial strength and grass roots support across California. Every contribution, no matter how small or large, will put Senator Poochigian that much closer to being California’s next Attorney General.

Thanks so much for your continued support and encouragement.



August 9, 2005 -- Westchester DA Jeanine Pirro is about to formally announce her candidacy for Senate from New York, which will pit her against Hillary in a battle royal. This is just the kind of fight that Sen. Clinton would have hoped to avoid.

While Hillary would have no problem dispatching an opponent like Nixon son-in-law Edward Cox or Yonkers Mayor John Spencer (the two other possible GOP contenders), Pirro presents a real problem.

Jeanine Pirro is pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-affirmative action, pro-gay-civil unions and pro-immigration. And, of course, she's a woman.

In a sense, Hillary will have to end up running against someone who is quite like herself in her public positions: Except, of course, Pirro is a good old-fashioned anti-tax, anti-crime, tough-on-terror Republican from the suburbs.

Hillary would love to cloak her Senate re-election as a necessity in the face of a determined GOP effort to overturn Roe vs. Wade and to roll back the clock on gun controls. But against Pirro, she will be disarmed of all her best issues. She will have to run on her own record, which is limited at best.

Pirro, on the other hand, can point out that Hillary refuses to say that she will serve out her term if elected -- since we all know that the day the returns are in she will start her campaign for president. (Hillary has her own twist on the famous line of Gen. Sherman: "If elected, I refuse to serve").

The Quinnipiac Poll recently found that Hillary beat Pirro by more than 30 percentage points -- but in the same poll, 60 percent of the state's voters said that Mrs. Clinton should pledge to serve out her full term if she runs for the Senate.

Jeanine looks weak in the polls right now because she only has about a 30 percent level of real name recognition statewide. But the fact that about one Hillary voter in three says that Mrs. Clinton should promise not to run for president if she seeks re-election to the Senate is an indication that all will not be well for her as she seeks a second term.

If Hillary faced a right-wing opponent, voters would overlook her refusal to promise to serve if elected -- but with Pirro, they may come to feel that they have a choice. Recently, Pirro indicated, for example, that she would join the bi-partisan group of 14 senators who promised to save the Senate from destruction by pledging to support reasonable judicial nominees and to refrain from unreasonable filibusters.

And Pirro doesn't need to beat Hillary to wound her. If she finishes less than the 12 points behind Clinton that Rick Lazio managed in the 2000 election, it will be a victory of sorts. Hillary will have some explaining to do to tell why fewer New Yorkers wanted her to be re-elected than voted for her in the first place.

And, at some point, Mrs. Clinton may feel Pirro gaining on them and wonder if it is worth the battle.

It's worth remembering that Hillary did not want Bill to run for re-election for governor of Arkansas in 1990 as he contemplated a race for president in 1992. (Back then she had a better idea: She would run in his place!)

Hillary almost has a lock on the Democratic nomination in 2008 and can build up a massive financial and political lead over all possible rivals. But if she is engaged in a nip-and-tuck battle in New York to keep what she already has, she will have to divert $30 million or $40 million from her presidential race and spend her time in Rochester, rather than in Iowa.

If Pirro posts some early gains, particularly upstate, where it is cheap to do early advertising, Hillary and Bill may read the handwriting on the wall and she may pull out of the race.



With a Caucus filled with the likes of David Dreier – the guy who never met an illegal alien he didn’t pander to, Jerry Lewis – who never found pork he didn’t like, and Bill Thomas – who’s never met a baby killer he didn’t try to run for office, the California Republican Congressional Delegation is already filled with lots of questionable characters. However, we’ve never needed to worry about what’s come out of the 48th – Chris Cox was as solid as they got.

However, Cox’s departure from Congress to the SEC leaves a gaping hole in the Delegation, and all indications are that rather than having a solid movement conservative filling the seat, Dreier, Lewis, and Thomas will instead get a new playmate.

The two main candidates for this seat are Senator John Campbell (worse) and former Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer (worser). There is some hope that Minuteman Project PAC founder Jim Gilchrist will run, but as he’s registered American Independent, it remains to be seen how effective he can be as a candidate.

To keep up on this very important election, check up regularly at OC Blogand at the OC Courant.

Lastly, as Cox is leaving, his look back at his career in Congress is quite an interesting read. Enjoy…

The changes I've seen

I've watched the march of freedom in Washington and the world

By Chris Cox

This evening, my time in the House of Representatives will come to an end. I'm deeply grateful to the people of Orange County for the opportunity to have served you and our country in Congress since 1988.

Today, Orange County's values are dominating the debate in Washington. It wasn't at all like that back in the 1980s, when I first came to Washington to work as a lawyer in the Reagan White House. But that's certainly when the trend started.

By 1989, when I was in the House of Representatives and President Reagan came to the House floor just before leaving office for a private valediction with our Republican members, all the pieces were in place: Where once the economy had suffered years of "stagflation," over-regulation and punitive taxation, now it was strong. And where once the Soviet Union had been on the march, waging proxy wars across the globe and threatening the world with nuclear annihilation, now it was in retreat.

At the Pope John Paul II Polish Center in Yorba Linda in 1988, I remember telling a gathering with great certitude that "Poland will be free in my lifetime." That turned out to be an excessively cautious prediction. The following year, as a newly minted representative in Congress, I served as a U.S. election observer in Poland. Solidarity swept the nation's first free elections - and the communists were swept out.

The march of freedom in our own hemisphere has been just as exhilarating. With a State Department delegation that included my friend and colleague from the White House and Congress, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, I monitored the first post-civil war elections in El Salvador. We wore bullet-proof vests, and our hotel was blown up. Just this week, nearly two decades later, the Congress voted to approve a free trade agreement with Central America. Instead of guns and body armor, we're now sending computers and breakfast cereal.

Here at home, too, we have come to recognize that "as government expands, liberty contracts." One of my purposes in running for Congress was to eliminate waste and bureaucracy in government. Over the years, I've occasionally been able to take a nip here and a tuck there out of the federal behemoth. For example, we eliminated the oldest government regulatory agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission; and my closure of the wasteful National Helium Reserve was the third largest privatization in American history, yielding $2 billion for taxpayers.

But I am also leaving Congress with some unfinished business. I may have overestimated the time it would take for Eastern Europe to be free, but I confess that I also underestimated the time it would take for communism to fall in China. But if I've learned anything over my career in Congress, it is that we must never underestimate the power of freedom. While their governments may be repressive, people everywhere yearn to be free. And across the globe, the trend is toward free markets and free speech, and away from the statist ideologies of the past.

And finally, with 9/11, our focus has shifted to what we now call homeland security - an organized effort to share information in new ways, in order to stop terrorism before it happens. For the last three years, this has been my main calling. If we give up our freedom to suit the exigencies of the war on terror, we will give al-Qaida the victory. That must never happen.

To the wonderful people who for nine terms gave me the support that made it possible for me to serve our country: thank you. It has been a privilege to represent you.