Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Two Imperfect ChoicesUnhappy with Bush, but not keen on Kerry

Unhappy with Bush, but not keen on Kerry

I truly can't think of an election in my lifetime that will have such long term repurcussions, yet has the lamest candidates.



Stuck Between a Potempkin Village and Fantasyland

Well, word is out on some of the speakers for the Democratic Convention in July. I'm sad to say that I'm about as impressed with this bunch as I am with the Republican choices. Don't get me wrong on the GOP, I like McCain, Arnold, and Rudy, but their views are almost 180 degrees from the administration on key social and fiscal issues.

The democrats, who in my opinion could win by taking a New Democrat tack, seem to be taking the opposite approach by putting up a slate of speakers that may be too liberal for Middle America.

Will that soccer mom in Macomb County connect with Al Gore, or Ted Kennedy? I don't know, but I have my doubts. Rumor has it that even Reverend Sharpton is on the list. Sigh, I feel like we're stuck between a facade of moderate republicans and a barrage of old school shouty liberals.

Looking at the two conventions on the horizon, Elephant concludes that the advantage goes to Bush at this point.



Magic Kingdom Watch

I think it is safe to say that this would not be a good thing.

Saudi Pipelines Could Be Next Terror Targets



Where are our Defense Dollars Going?

Are we facing a troop shortage?

As you know, Elephant continues to question the readiness of our armed forces in light on the continued extended tours of the men and the women on the ground in Iraq and Afganistan. The U.S. defense posture calls on the United States to be able to fight two regional wars on opposite sides of the globe simultaneously. (e.g.- Iraq and N. Korea). But it continues to confound me that we seem only able to send roughly 130,000 troops to a region and must keep them their indefinitely.

Does this weaken our position as we confront Iran and N. Korea on nukes?

Is this the rationale for what looks like the U.S. caving to N. Korea demands?

Just asking.

Army to recall former military members


Bush at a Crossroads

It seems that for the moment, the clouds have parted on what I anticipated would be a cruel summer for W. Iraq is nominally sovereign, he's been out at photo-ops with the G-8 and now NATO (even scoring the victory on NATO training Iraq's Army). In fact, if managed properly, this week could see Bush bottoming out in the polls and beginning a steady climb to electoral victory in November. My advice would be to continue to work with (or at least appear to work with) world leaders on Iraq, focus like a laser beam on the good economic news and stake out some minor policy positions on lagging areas of the economy and avoid divisive social issues like FMA.

Of course, this week could also be just a temporary parting of the clouds. Iraq's sovereignty will be tested and having the interim government declare Marshall law would be a devastating blow, as would focusing on divisive social issues which will alienate moderates, minorities and younger voters. The mantra should be on the Security, both physical and fiscal and the steps a Bush II would do to ensure them...make the convention a true big tent rather than the Potempkin Village it could easily become.

Although as an ardent fiscal conservative and social liberal it will take an enormous amount of work for me to forgive Bush on all his transgressions over the last four years. (Spending, Social conservatism, lingering doubts about WMD, torture, etc.)

One thing is for certain, it will be an interesting month to be an armchair quarterback.


When Will the Reckoning Be?

Do Deficits Matter?

Elephant says yes. Look at Argentina a few years back, or Russia, or any other country that lived beyond their means. What makes the U.S. different? For one we are such a large consumer of other countries products that they can't afford to let our economy collapse, but that won't last forever. We need to get our budget in line or we're all going to be sorry.

Get Ready

Looking for more articles on this....


Good Bye United!

Remember when you left us stranded in Chicago and Denver?

The Government has denied United Airlines request for a bailout which could doom the airline. Elephant feels bad, but thinks the market should take its course. United has had a reputation for poor service and high operating costs. (Only exceeded in my opinion by Northwest Airlines)

Remember in 2000 when a work slowdown by entity's mechanics left 1,000s of us stranded in Chicago or Denver curled up on the floor for the night due to "toilet problems" on our scheduled flights? I know several people who do and they can find some comfort in the fact that the government isn't throwing your tax dollars at a failing enterprise. My most recent experience this past weekend was being told that since I wasn't a "elite" United traveler, the agent couldn't be bothered with moving me to an unoccupied exit row seat. I wonder if any of the members of the airline bailout commission got the same 'friendly skies' treatment I and so many others did? Anyway, it's a strong argument for consistent and good customer service as you never know when you may need help.



The GOP Builds a Potemkin Village

What are RINO's Good For?...Getting Elected

For those of us who consider ourselves true to Republican principles of limited government, fiscal restraint and social tolerance the last four years have been a harrowing experience. Unless we marched lock step with the Administration and increasingly feeble Congressional leadership we were called everything from traitorous, Republican's in Name Only (RINOs), subjected to ad campaigns by the Club for Growth which indicated we're about as reliable as Jacques Chirac. Cheney may have reserved the F-bomb for Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, but the Bush Administration and its conservative backers have been giving moderates the finger for four years.

Of course now that the convention is creeping up, who do they ask to be the face the Party will present to the public? Marilyn Musgrave? Wayne Allard? John Ashcroft? Nope, they're presenting a parade of RINOs, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Gulliani, and John McCain. Although there is some variance among these chaps (McCain is a right to lifer) all of them represent policy positions that are not shared by the administration - Fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.

I guess yesterday's traitors are today's heroes....

GOP speakers: McCain, Schwarzenegger



Faith in America

Last weeks edition of U.S. News and World Report has an interesting cover feature on defining America. It examines several factors that make our country unique like faith, individualism, etc. What's interesting is that among the developed nations we are both the most religious and the most likely to divorce...

Like to article here:

The faith of our fathers



Why I Don't Care if They Nationalize Health Care

So, about two weeks ago the elephant goes to the dentist to get his tusks cleaned. He hadn't been to the dentist in some time and in addition to a cleaning he needed a few old filings replaced. So, like any paranoid consumer he called his dental insurance company to make sure his dental office participated in the insurance program. According to the insurance company the office was a participating provider.

So, elephant gets his tusk work done, pays the $2,000 in fees and waits for his reimbursement. It came last night in the form of a check for $112. Of course the pre-treatment estimate was that the insurance would pay roughly 50 to 60% of the bill. When I called I was informed that although the dental office I visited was a participating provider, not all the dentists at the office were participants and the dentist who treated me wasn't covered, which of course would have been nice to know before I went in and was the reason I called the company before I went. Sigh.

When the ideological pendulum swings back to the left, which it will inevitably do and the Democrats come calling for a nationalized healthcare system, I won't stand in their way. Which of course won't necessarily help me, but will screw over the Cheney-F-Bomb insurance companies.

Monday, June 28, 2004


Metro Fares Up, Service Still Poor...

I'd like to say that my daily commute got eaiser this week as metro increased fares by roughly $0.15 per trip and that money is going to increase service. But alas, who knows where it's going. Metro continues to be plagued by broken escalators, poor tracks and bad financial management. But I guess it beats driving.



Time to Mow the Roof

Sorry, I can't make it to happy hour, I have to mow the roof. Seriously, this seems like a good idea if you ask me. Plant some grass and a few potted trees on downtown roofs and viola...a way to soak up urban polution.

On K Street, a Building With a Cultivated Facade



Good News In Iraq

Well Paul Bremmer has handed over 'sovereignty' to the new Iraqi government in an early, but apparently smooth transition. I'm pleased that the handover appears to have gone smoothly. Of course the sovereignty of Iraq is mostly symbolic and must now withstand the likely attacks that will try to drive a wedge between the new government and the coalition forces. I'm ummm...sure the Administration has anticipated potential problems and has a "plan".


Dewey Defeats Truman! - Poll Updates

Politics one has posted its most recent updated polling data. It seems that the media and politicians have begun to achieve their ultimate goal of being all things to all people. If you like Bush, here's data showing him leading...Like Kerry he's a head too.

A good round of polls today for Senator Kerry ... unless you're a fan of FOX News and, in that case, it was a good day for President Bush. In Florida, the latest ARG tracking poll shows Kerry continuing to hold a very narrow lead over Bush. The numbers: Kerry-47%, Bush-46%, Nader-2%. Why so close? According to ARG, it is because Bush grabs the support of 11% of Dems, while Kerry counters by holding a 13% advantage among Independents. However, the Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll of Florida voters shows Bush leading Kerry by a 48% to 38% vote, with Nader at 3%. In Ohio, the new ARG poll shows Kerry-49%, Bush-43%, Nader-2%. Again, the FOX poll flips the Ohio lead: Bush-45%, Kerry-41%, Nader-4%. In Pennsylvania, the new Quinnipiac College poll places Kerry at 44%, Bush at 43% and Nader at 7%. Fox, meanwhile, gives the PA lead to the President: Bush-46%, Kerry-41%, Nader-3%. Fox also gives Michigan to the GOP: Bush-42%, Kerry-40%, Nader-5%. The Q-poll also shows US Senator Arlen Specter (R) leading challenger Joe Hoeffel (D) by a 50% to 35% vote -- and also showed that nearly 60% of voters have still never heard of Hoeffel. Whew ... that's a lot to digest (and argue about).


Sunday, June 27, 2004


Back to Reality

Gosh, what an ugly weekend. First, Senate Candidate Ryan is torpedoed by his personal sex scandal and then Cheney drops the F-bomb on Senator Leahy. Glad I was on the Left Coast noshing on sushi, walking on the board walk and visiting some excellent museums. My only thought about this karfuffle is, "How much lower can we go?" I mean the budget is hemorrhaging red ink, our men and women are still under fire in Iraq, and Iran and North Korea are pushing hard for nukes.

Will Bush chastise Cheney for the F-Bomb, or will it redefine compassionate conservatism?

I wish I were back on the Santa Monica Pier eating cotton candy.

Friday, June 25, 2004


Out and About

Los Angeles: Under-rated City for Arts

Well, Elephant is heading out into the concrete jungle that is LA this morning. I'm going to drive up to the Getty museum. One of the things that's surprising about LA is that it does possess a great collection of civic museums. The Getty, the LA County museum of Art, the MOCA..Even though everything is spread out in this vast metropolis, it's more than the walk of fame and studio tours.

The Getty:



Virginia a Swing State?

The Great Ink Blot Election

It seems that the fickle electorate are presenting polling numbers that can be all things to all people right now. This may or may not be surprising as we the voter seem to be processing a lot of information. The pre-emptive war in Iraq (justified, not justified?), Gay Marriage (For, Against, or just against the FMA), a Republican President who spends like a drunken democrat (Farm subsidies, Medicare Drugs, Nationwide Mental Health Testing, Missions to Mars...etc.) Perhaps it is the deep questions presented about this election and the future direction of American that is driving these volitile numbers, perhaps we're just all morons.

Interesting story on Fox news about Virginia and how it could be considered a swing state in 2004. If Virginia is considered a swing state, Bush should be nervous.

Story Here:



A the Republicans Imploding?

I leave DC for one weekend and all hell breaks loose. First Cheney tells Patrick Lehey
"F.U." then the House decides that rather than move forward with a vote on FMA they'll do a test vote on it by banning gay marriage in the District of Columbia. Andrew Sullivan, as expected has written a decent piece on this issue. His thesis is that if the far right keeps saying the people should have their say, it's hypocritical to ban gay marriage by a vote of Congress since we residents of DC have NO VOTING REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS.

Sullivan's post:

This has been the rallying cry for many social conservatives, outraged that courts might uphold minority rights on the issue of marriage. So what are they proposing this summer in the House? Because they apparently lack the votes to pass a Constitutional Amendment banning marriage rights (or any other legal protections) for gay couples, they are considering other options. According to
Amy Fagan, in the Washington Times yesterday, such options "include ... a measure that would define marriage in the District of Columbia as being between a man and a woman." How about the voters in the District of Columbia? The City Council has a majority that would support equal marriage rights for homosexuals. Voters probably agree. So why should Congressmen from other states dictate social policy for D.C.? As Bill Clinton might put it, because they can. Just please don't tell me that the campaign to prevent gay couples from marrying has anything to do with genuine concern for democracy. In D.C., it's the opposite. Why not let the people vote in DC on marriage rights? Because residents of the capital city are subjects not citizens.

So this is where the revolution of 1994 has led...cussing and imposing congresses imperial will on a federal district that is little more than a colony. Seems to me this is an indication that they don't have the votes for FMA in the House, which is pretty suprising. They could instead focus on curbing spending, fixing social security and our intellengce services....nah....


June Gloom

Greetings from LA. As always, I expected sunshine and blue skies, but forgot that June in LA is often referred to as "June Gloom". The weather is in the 60s and cloudy. Sigh...

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


EOTE will be closed on Thursday

Hey loyal readers..all three of you! I'm heading to LA for the weekend and will be in transit most of thursday. Look for updates on Friday from the left coast.


The Cost of Moralism

Ok, now that we've all got our salicious gossip fix for today and Jack Ryan seems doomed in his Senate bid, let's take a look at the big picture of Jack Ryan. George Will wrote an excellent piece a while back and this guy seems like a real humanist type person. So, Ryan's personal sexual practices politically trump his truly amazing personal story? Yep, when we live in a world of holier-than-thou politics. Too bad for Mr. Ryan, to bad for Illinois.



Jack Falls Down


Wonkette is reporting that Ryan has scheduled a press conference for tonight at 7PM. My guess is that it's over for Jack.

Pasted below is an email a 'source' just forwarded to me. I'm sure the canceling of Ryan's fundraiser has nothing to do with the recent revelations about his sex-life. Buh-bye.


Speaker J. Dennis Hastert Congressman John Shimkus

Energy Industry Breakfast honoring Jack Ryan, Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate from Illinois

8:30-9:30 am, Thursday, June 24, 2004

La Colline

400 N. Capitol Street NW, Washington DC

Unfortunately, the Speaker has had a last minute change in his schedule and will be unable to attend. This event will be rescheduled at a later date
when the Speaker can accommodate it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


2 Wrongs Won't Hurt The Right

If there is a theme in Washington this week, it seems to be sex. First Reagan-mania is replaced by Clinton-pseudo-mania with all the hackneyed references to blue dresses and cigars. Then we get the juicy tid-bits of Senate Candidate Ryan's desire to take his then wife and sometimes Borg Jerri Ryan to sex clubs. Now we get this....

Wave of outings hits Congress: Angry activists target closeted members, staffers with anti-gay records


One of my big issues with some of the proponents of the Federal Marriage Amendment is that they are using a divisive issue to further their own ends. Framing the issue as defending marriage (who doesn't support that?) while throwing out red herring arguments about how it is ok to exclude a small group of people from being treated equally under the law, how gay people can't be Christians, etc., etc. For once I'd just like to hear a proponent of the FMA say, I don't understand homosexuality, it creeps me out, and I'm not ready to accept gay marriage. That I would at least understand.

Now this....outing members of Congress and their staff, nice. By doing so activist John Aravosis is essentially reducing these people to their sexuality, a concept one would think that activists are trying to end. His actions are already being denounced by the Log Cabin Republicans and the Human Rights Campaign - who are correct in taking the high road. One of the groups that is supporting the issue of gay marriage rights is called "Love Makes a Family," if this is how Mr. Aravosis treats members of his 'gay family' it's a tough love at best.

Why can't we have a rational discussion about this issue? Even my dear reader Bronson and I, who disagree on the need for an FMA, can occasionally stop repeating other peoples talking points and find some common ground. A long awkward and honest conversation will lead to a better solution than shouting or threats.

Dogma to the Right, Dogma to the Left, no wonder the Elephant is on the edge.


Just when you thought it was safe to stereotype....

I was doing my late afternoon blog scan and can across a reference to the article below on Danieldrezner.com. Seems that the religious right, like any other ideological block, is not as monolithic as it would seem. I would love to get my hands on the white paper mentioned, but in the interim it gives me hope that even those with fervent religious beliefs have some common sense when it comes to politicians. Good for them, bad for Karl Rove.

Evangelicals warn against close party alignment

The National Association of Evangelicals is circulating a draft of a groundbreaking framework for political action that strongly endorses social and economic justice and warns against close alignment with any political party.



Bush = Big Government...

Oh brother...or should I say, Oh Big Brother. What in the name of limited government is this all about? I mean, massive, goverment subsidized testing for mental illness? Is Bush secretly in league with Ted Kennedy?

Spend, Spend, Spend...gotta grow the government ya know. I mean really, at this point voting for even the liberalist of Democrats would likely slow the growth of goverment. Sigh...

The likely findings of this screening is that we're all depressed by the reckless spending of an allegedly Republican administration. Pass the prozac....

Bush to screen population for mental illness



Wider Instability

Is the war in the Middle East causing greater instability? (And how can we really tell?) Are these just wobbles on the road to a freer, more democratic region? Charges of Saudi cooperation with Al-Qaida, Iran building nukes and capturing British soldiers....

Iran to Prosecute British Sailors


New al Qaeda cell leader trained with Saudi military


And finally, whenever I read a headline about the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) denouncing Iran for its nuclear program, it always registers in my head as "IKEA Condems Iran for Nuke." Just sharing....


A new accessory for my iPod

Apple unveils iPod adapter for BMW cars

Apple Computer has unveiled an adapter that lets users of its iPod digital music player connect them to stereo systems in some BMW and Mini Cooper models and use buttons on the steering wheel to play their music libraries.


Monday, June 21, 2004


Borg Implants:

Looks like the Dems will pick up a Senate seat in Illinois. . .

Ryan papers contain allegations he pressured wife for public sex

Republican Senate candidate Jack Ryan pressured his wife, actress Jeri Lynn Ryan, to have sex in clubs while others watched, she charged in divorce documents released Monday.

The ``Boston Public'' and ``Star Trek: Voyager'' actress said she angered Ryan by refusing. She did acknowledge infidelity on her part, which she said took place after their marriage was irretrievably broken.




I must say I haven't found much to agree with Andrew Sullivan of late, but always enjoy his perspective on conservative issues and his outsider status on American culture. I did find much to agree with though in his posting today titled "The Party of God
Republicanism Reinvented."

Does anyone but me remeber that the separation of Church and State was put into the Constitution to protect religion from government, not government from religion? Sigh.

The Party of God
Republicanism Reinvented

America is an exceptional country and one of the ways in which it has always been exceptional is in the role of religion. Every astute observer has noticed this and it's still true - far higher rates of church attendance than in other developed countries, constant religious references in public life, an enormous network of religious charities that do amazing work, and a perpetual churning of spiritual frenzy. If you are a person of faith, as I am, it's highly impressive. But it's also, of course, fraught with danger and occasional excess. American religion justified the enslavement of African-Americans and their emancipation; it fueled the Great Awakening of the nineteenth century, the anti-evolution Scopes trial in the early part of this century, and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. It has propelled activists of right and left, of reaction and revolution.




Rumors Persist, Will Cheney Still Be On The Ticket?

Interesting Op-Ed in today's USAToday calling on Cheney to step down and encouraging Bush to choose McCain as a running mate. There have been rumors flying around DC for the last two years that Cheney will step down (due to health reasons) and allow Bush to choose another VP. "Rudy" or McCain are tossed around. I seriously doubt that Bush would jettison Cheney and if he did I think it would be a sign he thought he was in deep trouble. Of course if the torture memo issue rises to high, or Iraq continues to weigh Bush down in the polls, he could always blame and dump Dick. But from the Elephant's point of view it's not likely.

USAToday Op-Ed:



Enter UPI (Moonie Communication Network)

Even more interesting today, UPI (a wire service owned by the Reverend Moon who recently proclaimed himself the Messiah at a capital hill event, then discussed the proper use of one's love organ) is reporting that a man with the same name as a terrorist involved in 9/11 may have been a member of Sadaam's army, emphasis on maybe. But probably enough to escalate the attacks on the commission.

More on the UPI story here:


More on the "Messiah" Reverend Moon Here:



Wow that was fast....

I wrote the posting regarding the forthcoming attacks on the 9/11 commissions credibility Sunday night. This morning we have Bill Safire's Op-Ed from the New York Times attacking the commission staff.

The Zelikow Report

"Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie" went the Times headline. "Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed" front-paged The Washington Post. The A.P. led with the thrilling words "Bluntly contradicting the Bush Administration, the commission. . . ." This understandably caused my editorial-page colleagues to draw the conclusion that "there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. . . ."


But sadly for the administration the NYT's "has such a liberal bias", no one should believe it.

Sunday, June 20, 2004


Cruel Summer Update IV: If you know Mr. Cheney, please tell us...

Elephant mentioned last week that he didn't understand why the administration choose to take a confrontational stance with the 9/11 commission over the Saddam/Al-Qaeda link. It seems there's enough information about casual contacts to provide a fig leaf to Bush/Cheney had they decided to take a conciliatory approach to the issue. Unfortunately the didn't, both Bush and Cheney repeated there claims (and I'm sure our Friend Bronson has the goods on this) last week about the link. Either way the Administration now finds itself between a rock and a hard place.

The 9/11 Panel has called the Administration's bluff by asking the Vice President to share the information he repeatedly sights to establish a pre-9/11 operative connection between Al-Qaeda and Saddam. There's no easy way out for Cheney. He could divulge his 'intelligence' which could be embarrassingly flimsy (think Chalabi), or he could claim that divulging it would compromise our intelligence. Both of those may of course be true, but politically each is fraught with traps. Reveal and have the information subject to intense criticism or hold the information on a "trust me we know" basis and suffer the consequences. (After all we trusted them on the WMD issue, didn't we?). So, with both avenues closed what is a person to do? Attack the messenger!

PREDICTION: The administration will attack the credibility of the 9/11 Commission. In the coming weeks we will hear all about how the dems and reps on the 9/11 Commission are really anti-american moles who go to vegetarian pot lucks at Jane Fonda's house, rub Michael Moore's feet and listen to Madonna's "American Life".

Story Here:



Shades of 1979?

Elephant's been reflecting on the growing turmoil in Saudi Arabia and had the following thought. Does anyone see a parallel between Saudi Arabia today and Iran in the years leading up to the 1979 Islamic revolution? Think about it. In the 1970s we were supporting the iron fisted rule of the Shaw, which led to an uprising fueled by Islamic fundamentalism. Now we continue to support a dicticorial regime that increasingly isn't supported by its subjects. If the Saudi's do nothing, they face a growing insurgency, if they make democratic reforms the voters could elect a fundamentalist government. Stuck between a a rock and a hard place. Could the U.S., with our military stretched too thin as it is, be able to ward off a radical Saudi government? Could our economy absorb $150 per barrel oil costs? Anyway, just thinking.....

Friday, June 18, 2004


Will the House of Saud Fall?

A rather gloomy look at the impact of a collapse of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and their long, cozy friendship with the United States....

Addicted To Oil

A dependence that's so strong it's almost like a narcotic. You don't question the pusher." It may sound like the language of drug addiction, but in fact Robert Baer, a former CIA agent in the Middle East, is describing American dependence on Saudi Arabia and its oil. In "The Fall of the House of Saud" (May Atlantic), Baer details the United States's absolute reliance on oil from a country that is deeply, dangerously unstable.



Report: American Hostage Executed

Another causality in the war against Al-Qaeda. A group that can successfully hide in Saudi Arabia because of wide-spread local support. We invaded the wrong country, we should have sent our troop a few hundred miles south.

Are we ready for the impact on the world of a radical revolution in Saudi Arabia that would make the Taliban appear liberal?


Weekend Reading

Kerry Faces the World

In early February I sat in a Starbucks in downtown Washington with Dan Feldman, who is helping to organize Senator John Kerry's foreign-policy team. We discussed Kerry's vision of America's role in the world, and the people who might play important roles in his Administration if he is elected President, touching on everything from the crucial issue of Iraq and the simmering crises in North Korea and Iran to NATO and the proper balance between international alliances and the brute force necessary to secure American interests abroad—collectively, the foreign-policy questions that are central to the next election, and to the next four years.


Enterprise prepares for lift-off

A rocket backed by a high-tech entrepreneur is about to attempt the first commercial manned flight beyond the earth’s atmosphere—just as a commission set up by President Bush has called for NASA to hand over many space-exploration activities to the private sector ...


Harper's Index: May 2004



Economist's Thoughts on the Torture Memo

The Economist lays out some good arguments on the torture memo.

Even so, the memo goes further than most ordinary opinion would in defining torture as “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death.� On the face of it, that means sliding needles under fingernails or holding someone’s head under water to the point of drowning would not count as torture under the law.

Constitutionally, its second argument is no less striking. This is that the president can do whatever he wants in war, or, as the memo puts it, “enjoys complete discretion in the exercise of his commander-in-chief authority.� Interrogations, the memo says, are a “core function of the commander-in-chief.� Hence “we will not read a criminal statute as infringing on the president’s ultimate authority in these areas.�

This comes near saying that the president is above the law when acting as commander-in-chief in wartime. No other president has made such a claim. The constitution gives Congress power to “make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.� This contradicts claims of untrammelled presidential authority. When Harry Truman tried to seize Youngstown Sheet and Tube in 1952 to prevent a steel shortage during the Korean war, the Supreme Court stopped him.

Link to the op-ed here:




Senate votes to add 20,000 troops to Army

So, as the Republican talking points have been focusing on this election season, Democrats don't support a strong national defense. Funny then that when the vote came up yesterday to add 20,000 troops to our standing army that the vote was 93-4 in favor. Who were the four? Clinton? Kennedy? Kerry? Nope.... All of the votes against the measure were Republican...Santorum, Craig, Thomas with Bennet and Inhofe not voting.

Of course Senator Kerry could have used this as a vote to show his credentials on national defense, but missed the vote (and the opportunity) while campaigning.

Story Here:



Violent Agreement?

Why is Bush Being Confrontational on the Iraqi-Al Queda Question?

I was ruminating yesterday on the white house's repeated announcements that despite the 9/11 commission reports, they still believed that there was a link between Al-Queda and Saadam's Iraq pre-9/11. I read the remarks on Fox, Cnn, Washington Times and the Post, and thought it odd that this was becoming such a big deal. NPR got the story straight, they're the only channel that played Bush's full quote, which I paraphrase.

"This administration never claimed that Iraq participated in the 9/11 attacks, but that they had repeated contacts with Al-Queda." True enough, which pretty much means that the 9/11 commission and the administration seem to be in agreement here. Sad that the only one who got the story straight was the allegedly communist run NPR.

Although Bush's confrontational tone on the issue is clouding his message.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


Ahhh, the Magic Kingdom

While there my be a lack of evidence that Iraq was connected to Al-Queda, there certainly is no doubt the Saudi Arabia (The Magic Kingdom) was and is. I found this interesting blog by an enlightened Saudi. What a great country, they've managed to infuse their politics with "Tradition Religious Values."

The first story is a bit scary, I'm so glad I don't live in a country that can strip me of my constitutional rights and torture me....Oh wait, someone's knocking on my door.



Where's My Hover Car?

If there's one thing I love, it's the romantic and kitschy vision of the future that existed from about 1950 to the 1970s. By the year 2000, I expected that I'd have my own hover car and live in an ultramodern city with guardrail free highways in the sky. But alas, no hover cars, no jet packs....

Check out yesterday's tomorrow's here:


Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

Today's WaPo has a startling summary of what the 9/11 commission has pieced together as the original plan for 9/11. It included not only hitting DC and NY, but the Library Tower in LA and the Columbia Seafirst Center in Seattle. Throw in the CIA and the FBI building for good measure. Nice, especially since I was standing in front of the FBI building shortly after the plane hit the pentagon.

The one issue I agree with Bush on is that there is a war with these Islamists, but I don't think we need to throw out the constitution to win it.



Cruel Summer: Let the games begin

Well, here we go. The 9-11 commission findings are starting to dribble out, and my Grand Old Party is already starting to cry foul. It's too bad to, from what we've heard in the press today Al-Queda is scarier than we thought, but of course in an election year the focus will be on the semantics of Bush's claim that there was a pre-9/11 connection between Al-Queda and Iraq. The commission says there wasn't, Republicans (some of whom I've worked with an respect) say it doesn't matter, the connection is that they both hated america. Um...ok?!

Come on guys, as the majority party, you passed the legisation creating the commission, the President signed it and it has a great balance of prominent members. But, as I learned in law school, if you can't win on message, attack the messenger. Can't wait to hear how the republicans on the commission aren't 'true' republicans.

Here's the first shot on the 9/11 Commission battle.


Here's a link to information on the 9/11 Commission



My Pick for President in 2004

Yup, Elehpant is no longer on the edge. I think there's one candidate that can save us from rampant partisanship, battle evil doers and guide us with his faith.



Elephant's Big Day!

Elephant had a big day today. He was invited to be a speaker at the annual ABA convention to share his thoughts on legal issues as they relate to the constitutional right to privacy. They said Elephant has a growing reputation for excellence on these issues and was reccomended by several prominent ABA members. Of course I'm excited and flattered, but if I'm a budding 'expert' on the right to privacy, we're all in big trouble.....


Cruel Summer Update III:

Just this week the President and Mr. Cheney were again announcing thier belief that Sadaam Hussien was working with Al Queda. While I agree that Al-Queda is probably not working to undermine our efforts in Iraq, I have doubts that they were involved with Sadaam pre-invasion. Sadaam's regime was anethema to what Al-Queda stands for, it was secular and promoted equality for women (albiet only those women complicent with the dictitorial regime's brutal policy). CNN is breaking that the 9/11 Commission (whose report will be part of Bush's summer challenges) will report findings that Commission reports "no credible evidence" that al Qaeda and Iraq cooperated in 9/11 attacks on United States.

Of course the Administration and their proxies are ginning up the homophobia machine to schedule a vote on FMA around the same time the report is set to be released....hide the children!


Hhhmmm, So it's not a scoop!

I guess the folks on the hill really wanted to get the FMA story out as it's in all the papers today. But honest, I did hear it from the hill early yesterday....no really!


Senate to Vote on FMA in July

Amendment's Chances Uncertain, Vote Could Backfire

Elephant's hill sources reveal that Senate leadership (led by Santorum), will schedule a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment for July. Current whip counts put opposition to the bill at somewhere near 44 votes, enough to ensure it doesn't pass. A defeat for the amendment, especially if moderate republicans and even a few conservatives vote no, would not fare well for the Administration. Opponents could use the vote to decry the use of gay men and women as scapegoats for the administrations problems in Iraq, the torture scandal, oil prices and such. (At least if I worked for the Dems. That's what I'd be advising them.)

Regardless of your position on gay marriage, incorporating such an amendment into the Constitution is a bad thing. If the Constitution gives the government the power to regulate a relationship as intimate as marriage, then the government could certainly ban home schooling, non-procreative sex, access to birth control and other personal decisions that arise from the right to privacy. Even if that proves to be an overstatement, when has the federal government ever stepping in and made a social situation better? Look at public housing? Or the impact of AFDC (Welfare) on families?

There's hundreds of other ways the government can strengthen traditional marriage. Like eliminating the marriage tax penalty, providing tax incentives for traditional marriage, providing tax deductions for daycare expenses, etc.

Think elephant is to 'liberal' on this issue, then see what ultra-conservative Bob Barr (former Congressman from Georgia) and author of the Defense of Marriage Act has to say.



Code Breakers

The GOP has forsaken Reagan’s tax message

More than a decade after Ronald Reagan helicoptered off into the sunset, relinquishing the White House and control of a political revolution that transformed the world, conservatives and Republicans are still tripping over themselves to claim the mantle of the Gipper. GOP aspirants for every office in the land, from dog-catcher to president of the United States, invoke Reagan and claim to be the rightful heirs to his legacy.

From Reason Magazine: http://reason.com/0001/fe.ms.code.shtml

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


Confirmation: Bush asks Pope to Intervene in Constitutional Debate

As discussed in an earlier posting, it appears the when George Bush states that 'the poeple's voice needs to be heard" on the debate over FMA he means the voice of the Vatican, a soveriegn foreign government. Here's the quote from that National Catholic Reporter.

During his June 4 visit, Bush asked the Vatican to push the American Catholic bishops to be more aggressive politically on family and life issues, especially a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

A Vatican official told NCR June 9 that in his meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano and other Vatican officials, Bush said, “Not all the American bishops are with me� on the cultural issues. The implication was that he hoped the Vatican would nudge them toward more explicit activism.

Other sources in the meeting said that while they could not recall the president’s exact words, he did pledge aggressive efforts on the cultural front, especially the battle against gay marriage, and asked for the Vatican’s help in encouraging the U.S. bishops to be more outspoken.

According to sources, Sodano did not respond to the request.

Sources say Bush made the remark after Sodano thanked him for his stand on the issues of family and life. They also said that while Bush was focusing primarily on the marriage question, he also had in mind other concerns such as abortion and stem cell research.

Bush supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and has urged Congress to take swift action. Since polls show that in several battleground states in the fall election a majority of voters is opposed to gay marriage, some Bush analysts think an aggressive push on the issue will help the president’s prospects.

Again, if Bush want's to lobby the Catholic Bishops in the U.S. that's fair game, but to ask the Pope to intervene is inappropriate. What's worse, having new interpretations of law 'imposed' by 'activist judges', or having American legal issues decided by the Vatican?


Computer Troubles

Having some network troubles...look for more posting at lunchtime....


Bush as Reagan? Not So Fast Says Ron Jr. and Nancy

The New York Times ran an interesting peice today on comments made by Reagan's son Ron who tried to distinguish between a president guided by faith and one whose motives go deeper.

"But a friend of the Reagan family, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mr. Reagan, who did not return a call seeking comment on Monday, was deeply uncomfortable with the way the Bush administration intertwined religion and politics and felt compelled to say so at the burial of his father, a ceremony watched by millions."

Good for you Ron!

Full Story here:


Sunday, June 13, 2004


I-pod Shame Index Update

Well, I've been listening to my iPod on the train, at the gym and grooving to iTunes at home, so ta-da...here's the latest shame index:

Ten Most Played Songs Week of June 6, 2004

Smooth Criminal - Alien Ant Farm
Big Time Sensuality - Bjork
After the Rain has Fallen - Sting
Jughead - Prince
Big Time - Peter Gabriel
Policy of Truth - Depeche Mode
Don't Go (Tee's Freeze Mix) - Yaz
What am I to You? - Norah Jones
Soul Sauce - Cal Trjader and Filia Brazillia

Ahh the shame! The wonderful, wonderful shame!


Bush Asks Foreign Govt. to Intervene in Constitutional Debate

No sooner did I stumble upon this story than it seems to have been pulled from the web. Drudgereport had a posting up on Sunday that reported that President Bush asked Pope John Paul II to command U.S. Bishops to speak out in support of amending the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage, civil unions and other legal arrangements among same-sex couples. In other words, President Bush has asked a foreign government to intervene in a debate of the U.S. Constitution.

Elephant would support the president petitioning U.S. Catholic Bishops to discus the issue, but it's offensive (and somewhat desperate) to ask the leader of the Vatican See (A sovereign nation) to directly intervene on issues related to the U.S. Constitution. It's as wrong as putting U.S. military intervention up for a U.N. veto.

At least Bush can say he's a multi-lateralist.


New Federal Programs Announced: Mock Burials and Water Torture.....

War is hell, or so the old adage goes. I can not begin to fathom the breadth of scenarios that emerge when one is battling an enemy that claims to be acting by divine writ. But I do know one thing, we're supposed to be the good guys, a country of laws and liberty. If we are to win this war we must hold true to those principles that make us great. That doesn't seem to be the plan of the current administration.

The Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal has been dismissed by the administration as a 'few rogue soldier' acting on their own. Strangely enough memo's produced by the Justice Department outline various forms of torture that the administration feels it is acceptable to use. Fortunately (and I'm sure it's just a coincidence) the memo was leaked during the press over coverage of Reagan's death. Regardless, it is becoming more and more apparent that the prisoner abuse scandal was not just a few soldiers, but rather the policy of the administration. Wonderful suggestions like water torture or mock burials are mentioned as well as outsourcing the actual torture to 'friendly' governments like Egypt. Talk about compassionate conservatism!

This is just the tip of the ice-berg, more will likely surface in the weeks ahead. Do you hear that ticking sound Mr. Rumsfeld?


Saturday, June 12, 2004


There But for the Grace of God Award II: Rush Limbaugh

Practice what you preach. That's what my mom always told me. And there's no more successful radio preacher than Rush Limbaugh. Listened to by "ditto heads" (is that a secret drug reference?) across the nation. Rush defends 'traditional' values with pronouncements like...

I--I really do not even think marriage is a right. Marriage is a responsibility. It's not a gift that somebody says, Hey, now it's time for you to get married. It's our bestowal to you.' It's--it's a--it's a commitment that you make and it is a responsibility that you accept. And it's--to--to be--to be tossed around in this manner is to devalue it, which is to devalue the fundamental building block of our society.

Rush filed for his third divorce this week. I agree with Rush, marriage is a responsibility, so I propose the Federal Marriage Amendment be altered to ban him from marrying again and devaluing a 'fundamental building block of our society."


Bob Dole Says...

The Elephant has heard that during a speech at a conference in Florida this week, former Senator (and Viagra Spokesperson) Bob Dole said that in light of the growing scandal over the torture of Iraqi prisoners, Donald Rumsfeld should resign.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


Numbers, Numbers, Numbers.....

The media is all atwitter about a recent nationwide polls showing Kerry leading Bush. That's great, but it means nothing. The presidential election is really fifty separate elections.... Here's the latest polling from the swing states....

Zogby Interactive polls conducted for the Wall Street Journal that were released this week.

Florida: Kerry-49.5%, Bush-47.9%, Nader-0.6%.
Arkansas: Bush-51%, Kerry-44%, Nader-2%.
Iowa: Kerry-49%, Bush-48%, Nader-1%.
Michigan: Kerry-49%, Bush-45%, Nader-1%.
Minnesota: Kerry-51%, Bush-44%, Nader-2%.
Nevada: Kerry-47%, Bush-44%, Nader-2%.
New Mexico: Bush-48.1%, Kerry-47.8%, Nader-2.1%.
Ohio: Bush-49%, Kerry-46%, Nader-1%.
Pennsylvania: Kerry-52%, Bush-45%, Nader-1%.
Oregon: Kerry-51%, Bush-45%, Nader-1%.
Wisconsin: Kerry-50%, Bush-45%, Nader-1%.
West Virginia: Kerry-47%, Bush-44%, Nader-2%.
Washington: Kerry-52%, Bush-44%, Nader-2%.


Government Announces Agency Name Changes

To help the public better understand the confusing array of information put out by our government, a White House spokesperson today announced that the official names of the CIA, FBI and HSD will be changed to Larry, Curly, and Moe.

State Dept.: Terror Report Incorrect




A Proper Tribute to Ronald Reagan

With the flood of emotions and non-stop TV coverage of the passing of President Reagan there's been a multitude of proposals to name just about everything in his honor or at least put his face on everything. I have a better idea....

The Ronald Reagan Fiscal Responsibility Resolution of 2004

Whereas Ronald Reagan gave American's renewed faith in their country and painted a picture of a "Shining City on the Hill"

Whereas the conservative principles championed by Ronald Reagan called for smaller, more accountable government

Whereas the current deficit spending by the government threatens the President Reagan's vision of a vibrant, strong America

It is Resolved that the Congress of the United States does hereby pledge to return to the principles of accountable government and to eliminate the federal deficit by 2011, the one-hundredth anniversary of President Reagan's Birth.

But of course, doing the above would require accountability and vision. Better just go with the easy symbolism of putting his face on the dime, the ten or twenty dollar bill...


PJ, I Love You....

Stranded in a hotel room last night, I relished the down time to dig into my new edition of the Atlantic Monthly. P.J. O'Rouke's piece is, for lack of a better word, sublime. He takes on talk radio and the blowhard TV talking heads....

I Agree with Me

Last year, on a long car trip, I was listening to Rush Limbaugh shout. I usually agree with Rush Limbaugh; therefore I usually don't listen to him. I listen to NPR: "World to end—poor and minorities hardest hit." I like to argue with the radio. Of course, if I had kept listening to Limbaugh, whose OxyContin addiction was about to be revealed, I could have argued with him about drugs. I don't think drugs are bad. I used to be a hippie. I think drugs are fun. Now I'm a conservative. I think fun is bad. I would agree all the more with Limbaugh if, after he returned from rehab, he'd shouted (as most Americans ought to), "I'm sorry I had fun! I promise not to have any more!"

Full Article Here...



The Elephant Returns....

To my four readers, sorry for the lack of postings Wednesday and Thursday. I was in North-Eastern PA giving a speech. Pretty area, nice people but Pennsylvania, judging from the many bumper stickers I saw, has an unusual number of radio stations that call themselves "Froggy". And worse, on my drive up I actually heard "She's Like the Wind" and "We Built This City" three times each on three separate stations....(shudder)...

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


Food for Thought...

I was scanning an international web forum where people from all over the world were posting their thoughts on President Reagan. I found this posting to be somewhat insightful.

He made being an American more important than being a Republican or a Democrat. He gave all of us not only more respect for the governing process but for the people in it. We have lost all of that. But we do remember.
Bob Guy, USA

Sadly that equation has now flipped. The message from the GOP seems to be that to be an American you must be a Republican.


Grover (Norquist) Needs a Hug...

Well, the local news has dropped coverage of the cicadas and have now focused on providing 24/7 coverage of President Reagan's legacy. Some of the programs are good and some are just cheesy. But more interesting is that just days after the President's demise, the affable Grover (not the fuzzy blue monster that needs a hug) Norquist continues his quest to name everything after our late president. Of course in the process of honoring Reagan, there's been a tendency to tarnish what Reagan stood for.

The best example of this is Reagan National Airport. Our little airport sits just across the river from DC and is a five minute cab ride from downtown. It's run by a multistate authority. When Congress decided to rename the airport, they didn't discuss the matter at all with local authorities, rather the Washington fat cats ran rough-shod over the locals. Not a fitting tribute to an advocate of local authority and state's rights.

Now there's talk about using the bureaucracy to force a change to put Reagan's face on our currency, namely the dime. Gee what a fitting tribute to a President who railed against the all powerful federal government. Here's the quote.

Proponents of Reaganized money, however, are proposing an alternative to paper: coins. Unlike decisions about notes, coins can be changed at the discretion of the Treasury Secretary.

I think Reagan's place in history is safe enough that Congress can honor him in an appropriate way by debating and voting on such issues.

Monday, June 07, 2004


Someone please call the FCC!

There's a lot of talk these day's about indecency in entertainment. Nipplegate, nasty rap songs and skanky pop stars, but there's only one psuedo celibrity that scares the chicken frikadel out of me and that's Jennifer Love Hewitt. I'm torn between reporting the linked article to either the FCC or the Pulitzer committee.

'Garfield' Star Hewitt Loves Dogs More



Today's Special: Chicken Frikadel

'Dog food hot dogs' sold to Dutch snackbars


Hmmm...is this better or worse than normal hot dogs that are supposedly made from lips and other unsavory parts of animals?....and if you think that's scary don't ask what's in the space cake....


Just Asking....

The Elephant likes value for his money. What boggles my mind is that we spend $400 + billion dollars a year on national defense, but we only seem to be able to send 130,000 troops to Iraq. To keep that number stable, we keep extending their stay. Now USAToday is reporting that we'll be sending 1/3 of our troops from South Korea to Iraq. Uhhmmm...last time I checked, Dear Leader had killed millions and is reported to have nuclear weapons (Although if it's a CIA report..who knows).

Isn't our national defense posture supposed to be that the United States should be able to fight two regional conflicts simultaneously? The elephant has many, many questions on where our defense dollars are going. Certainly not into keeping a decent sized fighting force.



The Gipper's Final Gift

There's enough being said about former President Reagan right now, so I will just note the following. On Friday the federal government will be closed and as a result so will my office. Thanks Ron!

Sunday, June 06, 2004


Not All Churches Speak with one Voice on the FMA

I found this article today and it made me happy. It seems that not every demonimation of the Christian Church is on board with the FMA. Go Lutherans! Seems to me these folks asked themselves WWJD and came up with a pretty good answer.



Reflecting on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day....

About four years ago, I had the opportunity to go on a tour of D-Day beaches with a group of veterans. It was a pretty amazing experience, you get a much better perspective of the challenges when you see the terrain and formidable defenses the German's had set up.

Learning about D-Day in high-school history class was kind of like watching Star Wars. (Ok maybe not as fun as watching Star Wars), but like routing for the heroes in the movies, when learning about WWII I had this underlying belief that "Of course we would win, we're the good guys." Touring the beaches of Normandy opened my eyes to the challenges we faced so long ago.
The first thing that blew me away was the artificial port we created at Arromanches. The two main French ports were too heavily defended to the Allies to take, so as part of the invasion, we floated huge piers across the channel and built a port at the same time we started the landing. In fact we built two ports. (One was destroyed in a huge storm some years ago). Some good pictures can be found at this link.


The other aspect of the beaches the boggles the mind is the formidable defenses the Germans had set up. To use my tired Star Wars analogy again, these fortifications were like the Death Star. Even 56 years later, the thick concrete bunkers and huge gun placements still dot the cliffs along the beach.

Another aspect of Normandy that you don't get a good overview of in history books are the hedgerows. To reduce wind erosion of the soil, French famers planted hedgerows between their fields. Each row of bushes is built atop a mound of earth about three feet high. So, even after we stormed the beaches, the Germans could keep falling back behind these ready made fortifications. It was incredible.

The fact the tens of thousands of American's, most in their late teens or early twenties, threw themselves onto the beach and actually held their ground is mind boggling when you walk among the fields.

What is also worth noting is that the people of Normandy and France are still grateful for the allies efforts. The local villages, when hearing that D-Day Veteran's were in town, let out school and lined the streets to welcome our tour bus waiving American Flags. In each town I visited from Saint Marie Elgiese, Aromaches, Beayoux, and Caen the American Flag, British Flag fly along side the French tri-color in each town square. The Politician's like to hark on the fact that the French should be grateful for our help, and despite what we've been told over the last few years, they are.

Friday, June 04, 2004


Cruel Summer Scapegoat

Now that Tenet has 'resigned', Bush is in a better position to deflect some of the criticism that will arise during the cruel summer. A good move, much like I currently blame forgotten projects or half assed memo's on my assistant I fired six months ago.


Child Molesters Good, Gay People Bad, Americans Soulless?

I try to refrain from criticizing the Catholic Church as I often feel that they are the victims of a lot of unfounded criticisms and the church does do a significant amount of social work across the world. But some recent events have left me scratching my head.

First, last week it was announced that Cardinal Law (Whose name graces my Law School Diploma) was promoted to a post at Santa Maria Majore in Rome. I find this extremely problematic. Cardinal Law presided over one the worst pedophilia scandals in the Church. He knowingly shifted pedophiliac priests from parish to parish victimizing literally hundreds of children. The church for the most part, was silent on the issue and even critical of U.S. Bishops admirable attempts to fix the situation. Cardinal Law's mismanagement cost the church $85 million dollars in damages and the closure of 65 parishes in Massachusetts. Not once did the Pope condemn the scandal in language approaching what he used today to condem our Society.

Today the Pope calls American society soulless. Which America is he talking about?! Even a libertarian like the Elephant realizes that the United States has the highest regular church attendance of any industrialized nation. Somewhere around 43% of us attend church on a regular basis and donate our time to charitable causes. On the surface American culture can appear to vapid, self-obsessed, sex-crazed and such, but even those of us with more liberal social views can see that the day to day America is much more wholesome AND spiritual than it is perceived to be.

The church plays an important role in any society. It is an institution that changes at a glacial pace. Since the church is an institution that dictates morality, it's a good thing that the pace of change is slow. But the church's view of morality does change over time. I certainly wouldn't expect the church to endorse abortion or even gay-marriage, but I think it's fair to expect some consistancy. I mean, saying that an adoption of a child by gay parents is an "act of violence" while saying nothing on the pedophilia within the church seems to undermine the intended message and establishes a false moral equivalency. So, in that analysis, the gay couple down the street who adopted an orphan baby with a heart defect, paid tens of thousands of dollars to save her life are dangerous and soulless, but as a priest child molestation gets you a promotion?

America is a very spiritual and generous country. But we are also an accepting and tolerant country. Most of don't support gay marriage, but agree that long term same-sex couples should have some basic rights like visiting each other in the hospital. Recognizing and helping those at the margins of society, or merely just debating them does not make us soulless Mr. Pope, it makes us like Christ.

Pope's Comments

A Great Discussion by a former member of the Dominican Order on the Communion Controversy


Crazy Like the Fox

I try not to watch the talking head pundit shows that are polluting the airwaves. From my experience, they don't put guests on who are particularly knowledgeable about any issue, but ones that will say outrageous and crazy things. Crossfire is by far the worst of the bunch, but Bill O'Reilly grates on me as well. I did however, come across this piece from his show yesterday and thought it was interesting. When Fox starts sounding like Elephant, you know there's problems in the administration. Rumsfeld's days are numbered.

The War in Iraq, What Really Happened?



Reflecting on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day....

About four years ago, I had the opportunity to go on a tour of D-Day beaches with a group of veterans. It was a pretty amazing experience, you get a much better perspective of the challenges when you see the terrain and formidable defenses the German's had set up.

Learning about D-Day in high-school history class was kind of like watching Star Wars. (Ok maybe not as fun as watching Star Wars), but like routing for the heroes in the movies, when learning about WWII I had this underlying belief that "Of course we would win, we're the good guys." Touring the beaches of Normandy opened my eyes to the challenges we faced so long ago.

The first thing that blew me away was the artificial port we created at Arromanches. The two main French ports were too heavily defended to the Allies to take, so as part of the invasion, we floated huge piers across the channel and built a port at the same time we started the landing. In fact we built two ports. (One was destroyed in a huge storm some years ago). Some good pictures can be found at this link.


The other aspect of the beaches the boggles the mind is the formidable defenses the Germans had set up. To use my tired Star Wars analogy again, these fortifications were like the Death Star. Even 56 years later, the thick concrete bunkers and huge gun placements still dot the cliffs along the beach.

Another aspect of Normandy that you don't get a good overview of in history books are the hedgerows. To reduce wind erosion of the soil, French famers planted hedgerows between their fields. Each row of bushes is built atop a mound of earth about three feet high. So, even after we stormed the beaches, the Germans could keep falling back behind these ready made fortifications. It was incredible.

The fact the tens of thousands of American's, most in their late teens or early twenties, threw themselves onto the beach and actually held their ground is mind boggling when you walk among the fields.

What is also worth noting is that the people of Normandy and France are still grateful for the allies efforts. The local villages, when hearing that D-Day Veteran's were in town, let out school and lined the streets to welcome our tour bus waiving American Flags. In each town I visited from Saint Marie Elgiese, Aromaches, Beayoux, and Caen the American Flag, British Flag fly along side the French tri-color in each town square. The Politician's like to hark on the fact that the French should be grateful for our help, and despite what we've been told over the last few years, they are.



After just a few weeks is the elephant out of topics to discuss? Nope, just looking for topics that are less complaint oriented and more positive. Too much negativity on all sides these days....where's the love?

Thursday, June 03, 2004


Cruel Summer Update: Finally, Some Accountability

The Elephant has been calling for the resignation of George Tennet for sometime. The performance of the intelligence services both pre and post 9/11 has been dismal. Missed clues to the 9/11 attacks, botched intelligence on WMD in Iraq, paying Chalabi $340,000 a month when he was spying on us. Tennet has now resigned (DC speak for fired). A good and welcome move Mr. President and way overdue! Look out Rummy!


Wednesday, June 02, 2004


Gender Based Services or Discrimination?

Just got notice that my motion to file a Friend of the Court brief in a state supreme court was accepted and the opposition motion to strike was denied! At issue, can a non-private recreational facility provide gender segregated food service to customers in rooms adjacent to locker rooms or is such provision unlawful discrimination?

This brings up a good question. When, in your opinion, does the provision of services to one gender or the other rise to the level of harmful discrimination? (Not looking for legal analysis, just your thoughts)

More food for thought below:

'Ladies Night' Discount Axed in N.J. Bars


Or this...

Uplifting community of women promises a different approach to fitness, amazing results for member



A Case for Moderation

As a follow up to my brief report on electoral polling, here's a great article from William Schneider of the National Journal on the current state of play. A good case for Bush to get back to the center.

Bush's Poll Troubles

If President Bush is in so much trouble, Democrats wonder, shouldn't John Kerry have a much bigger lead? Why does this election still look close?

Full story here



Uber Pollsters View: You're Guess is as Good as Ours

Just got back from a great luncheon at the Chamber of Commerce. Peter Hart, Uber Dem. Pollster and Frank Luntz (Uber Republican Pollster) sharing their views on the electorate and the upcoming presidential campaign. Both agreed that the country is divided on their choices right now and that the campaign will be ugly.

Peter Hart:
Bush's main strength is that people can connect with him and would feel comfortable hanging out with the President. Kerry seems a bit above it all to many voters who still aren't sure if he can relate at all to 'regular folks.' But according to Hart, Bush is not invulernable. Most voters still support the Iraq war, but a vast majority, 3 of 4, don't know if the endeavor was worth it and need reassurance and clarification of why we are there. More alarmingly, most voters feel that Kerry would do a better job a steward of the economy than Bush...a key republican strength that seems to have eroded.

Frank Luntz
Frank's overall view was very similar to Hart's (who says Dems and Reps can't agree). Bush needs to focus on his ability to connect with voters and define his vision rather than trying to define Kerry's. Luntz lamented the extremely ineffective ads the Bush campaign is running and shared data on how Kerry's ads have been effective not only with Dems, but also score well with Republicans. Luntz agreed that Kerry needs to focus on connecting with voters. Luntz also indicated that if Kerry were to go with Bob Grahm or Bill Nelson as a VP, that could be enough to push FL into the Kerry electoral camp which could prove fatal for Bush.

But the underlying consensus is that voters recognize the importance of the coming election and are looking for clearly articulated answers, rather than attacks before making up their minds. It is and will likely be a 50-50 proposition until late in the game.


Or is it still twitching?

Hearing from the Hill that the Senate may bow to pressure from budget hawks to include pay as you go provisions in the new budget. No cuts or new programs without reducing spending in other areas. Fiscal Conservatives want it in the main budget document, leadership is willing to allow a separate vote on it. Progress....

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


The Republican Revolution is Dead

GOP Takes Off Gloves in Bout of Budget Infighting

The Republican Revolution that swept the Republican's into control of the House and Senate back in 1994 is dead. Crucial to that electoral victory was Newt Gringrich's Contract with America in which lawmakers signed a pledge that they would:

On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:

FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.

Yes, I like tax cuts, who doesn't. But it doesn't take a leader to cut taxes and keep spending or in the case of the current leadership, cut taxes and grow spending at a record pace. Yes, we are at war...blah, blah, blah, but the roughly $119 billion we've spent on Iraq isn't part of the $500 billion deficit calculation. Sadly, those that are advocating for restoring the offset provision in the budget-process which was Republican 'Gospel" just a few years ago are having their loyalty called into question. It's fair to say that the republican Revolution started in 1994 is over, there's a new revolution, a disfunctional Big-Government Conservativism, that's emerging and it's counter to many of the principles that got the GOP the majority in the first place. Is this a sign of a growing rift between socially conservative republicans and those closer to the middle...time will tell....



A Fun Site

Clearly, whatever your political orientation, the upcoming election will be interesting. A polarized electorate, an economy that's growing but not out of the woods, out of control federal spending, etc. Seems that most people I speak with are 100% Bush or 100% Kerry. Most polls show a country evenly divided and talk of a close election. Although some insiders in DC are saying that the election will break on way or the other as we approach November. While it's too early to tell, I've been enjoying the site posted below. An avid Bush backer has developed his own projection formula to try to predict how the states will play out. It will be interesting to see how accurate the formula is as we approach the election. Either way I'm a sucker for maps with Red and Blue States....


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