Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Too Little Too Late?
I'm confused? Is it now ok to be a moderate republican? The GOP leadership has been beating us up for the last four years and in some cases (Club for Growth) has even been running ads comparing people like Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to Jaques Chirac. In the case of the NY Convention, what you see is not what you get.
Just ask Gary Bauer:
"The moderate speakers will very noticeably not address social issues, where they are clearly out of step with the party and the president," conservative activist Gary Bauer says. He and others on the right forced organizers to add more conservative speakers.
Or the first moderate to be railroaded by Bush, Governor Whitman:
Former New Jersey governor Christie Whitman wrote earlier this year of having to "battle extremists within my own party" before stepping down as Environmental Protection Agency chief. She is now writing a book called It's My Party Too.
From Elephant's experience, most work-a-day hill staffers fall into the more moderate (realist) camp, while those who work for the respective parties are more of the 'true believers'. (Who are often mocked). That's why many of my Hill colleagues decided to skip this years convention as it just seems to hard to pretend the party is a big tent anymore.
Are any of EOTE readers inspired by GWB? Is so, please share your thoughts.
Bush Hates Veterans Update: Deja Vu Moment
Parasite Single Update:
Back in July our humble blog did a short piece on how traditional marriage in Japan is killing the institution. Today's Post has more on this topic.
Japanese Women Live, and Like It, On Their Own
God Hates Florida III:
Florida getting it from both sides....
Everything is Super When You're.....
U.S. Rep. Schrock drops re-election bid over ''allegations''
Bush is too Liberal?
No word on if these protestors had on their tin-foil hats, but it is funny that there are actually folks that think GWB is too liberal and say that letting Arnold, Rudy and McCain speak amounts to 'treachery.' No, folks its just deceptive, not treacherous.
'Big Tent' Approach Upsets Some Republicans
War!, Good God Y'all.....
Monday, August 30, 2004
Does Jane Have A Point?
I agree with Jane that I really, really don't care what Bush or Kerry 35 years ago before I was born. Vietnam, to me, is a great destination to take an adventure travel. But I think Jane may be on to something. The swift boat issue pulls together all the criticisms leveled against Kerry into one symbolic and enigmatic issue. Kerry's response has been less than helpful. Now the momentum has shifted and Bush is ascendant.
Elephant Wrong, Thank Goodness
Well, looks like last week I was a "glass is 1/2 empty guy," when I predicted that oil prices would crash through the $50/bbl mark. I'm glad I was wrong. Looks like some good news out of the middle east (most notable Al-Sadr's apparent surrender)have calmed things down. Good news for consumers, bad news for our friend "B" in Canada, hope you still get a bonus buddy!
Internet, Elephant, Turn 35
Actually, I've never been cool, but for some reason I found it interesting that the internet turns 35 today and I'll be celebrating that same milestone at the end of September. Interesting article on how it began and the challenges facing it today (the internet that is)....
Karl Rove: Super Smart or Mad Scientist
Elephant spent some time at the local IKEA this weekend picking up supplies for the new home. No furniture (I think I'm well past the IKEA furniture phase of my life), but unexciting practical things like drapes and curtain rods. It reminded me of the time about a year ago I was at IKEA and was truly famished. I should have know better, but figured I could grab a bite at the IKEA cafeteria. So I go down the line and order a burger or something. I get to the side dish area and the server plops down a big pile of boiled potatoes on my plate. "Can't I get the fries?" I asked. "NO! Fries are for the children" replied the server with a stern tone (and I swear a Swedish accent). It was somewhat amusing if it wasn't for those sad boiled potatoes.
Ironically, one week after I purchase a home, there's talk about a bursting of America's housing bubble! Oh the irony! It's ok I guess, it's not like I plan on moving again anytime soon!
Battle Ground States:
In Florida, a new South Florida Sun-Sentinel/Research 2000 poll shows Kerry and Bush tied at 46% apiece. The results are also identical in Ohio, where a new Columbus Dispatch poll also shows both men even with 46% each. Wow ... the two most prized battleground states in the nation are now dead heats!
One of the worst things to happen to a politician is for he/she to get 'off message.' That is, having the debate shift to an area where they do not want it to go, or don't particularly have anything strong to say. The Anti-Kerry Swift Boat Ads are just such a device and to the degree of shamelessness that we haven't seen since Willie Horton. As a result, Kerry has spent the last few weeks (as far as I can tell, the noise has gotten so loud I'm not listening anymore), trying to respond to attacks on his war service rather than focusing on things like the economy and national security. Bush and Co. have worked hard to give themselves an opening, they need to lay out a clear plan to take the election in November.
Gloria, I think they've got your number....
Singer Laura Branigan dies at 47
It's touted time and time again by those who support him, that George Bush is a strong leader. Elephant begs to differ. It wasn't George Bush who calmed and inspired us during the events of 9/11, it was Rudy Gulliani. Since then there's been little leadership from the white house on terrorism, intelligence or fiscal prudence. Remember the 9/11 Commission? Bush opposed its creation, then intially refused to testify, then refused to send National Security Advisor Rice to testify. The creation of a Homeland Security Department, opposed by Bush. Spending? Try some of the largest spending increasing in history. So, I'm not too impressed with what's said about our President, I just watch how he and the GOP are governing.
Even with that said, it will be interesting to watch the GOP convention this week. People who that party has attack repeatedly as RINOs (Repubican's in Name Only), are slated to be the main speakers. Elephant would be happy if the party listened to these folks more. But as the party knows, it needs to pay lip service to the political center if it is to continue to govern from the far right, thus, they will put on their masks for four days.
But there's still a chance from Mr. Bush to provide leadership on the economy, spending and other issues. If he is able to do so effectively, he could easily vanquish Kerry.
Friday, August 27, 2004
Here's an interesting and scary argument that the U.S. should sieze Arab oil. Funny thing is that it was written in 1975, but it wouldn't suprise me at all to hear someone arguing it today. The more things change, the more they stay the same....
Make or break in Manhattan
Is Bush bottoming out in the Polls and headed for victory or is the uptick just a result of a slow news cycle? The GOP Convention is an important Hurdle for President Bush, will he capitalize on it?
Gropinator or Godsend? Is Arnold the New American Idol?
Comic Book Guy Tribute
Insights into Springfield's most sarcastic critic.
Rummy: Back from the Dead
Wow, it's been awhile since we've heard from Sec/Def Rummy. In fact, I haven't seen him on TV or involved in any speaking event since the prison scandal broke. But today he's quoted in an article where he takes responsibility, then deflects it on the torture scandal. Maybe Rummy's right and ultimately he can't know what every person in the Department of Defense is doing, but even so, it seems that after he has found out, he could discipline somebody who was in charge. Alas, that hasn't happened yet.
Ahh the Wonderful Excesses of American Life!
Something about this article scares me. I mean it's one thing to have a video system in your car for your kids and such, but look at how some of the cars in this article and accompanying photo gallery are decked out. Geesh! I'm both horrified and fascinated. Check out the last picture in the gallery, I think this poor child is been restrained and is awaiting to have her tongue hot sauced.
Just another one of those wired, wonderful, excessive trends that makes the USA so unique.
Elephant on the Move Update
Well, slowly but surely, Elephant is unpacking his possessions and settling into his new digs. It sure takes a while to get organized and there's something about the clutter that drives me crazy, but as things get put away, that problem should go away. The cable guy comes today, which is good as I do most of my postings in the late evening and now will be able to search for topics to discuss.
One major problem has cropped up in the whole House situation. About two weeks ago, the builder of my home called to have a gas meter installed and the gas turned on. (I have gas heat and a gas fireplace). The wonderful people at Washington Gas told him that there is currently a backlog of installations and it would be six months before they could get to my house. Is it just me or does that seem unacceptable for a public utility to be unable to meet their customers needs? I'm still working the issue, but have a plan of action if they keep jerking me around. Either way, it should provide for interesting blog topics in the weeks ahead.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
What does the Elephant Think of Bush?
The Economist again articulates what I have yet to put into words. If you want to know how the Elephant feels about President Bush, read this.
Thank You Sir, May I Have Another!
Hmmm, don't know how I missed this one, but to me this seems to border on child abuse. Focus on the Family is promoting a book by former "Facts of Life" star Lisa Welchel that promotes dousing your child's tongue in hot sauce as a form of discipline. How nice! They even publish a book on how to turn your home into your own personal Abu Ghraib!
Feeling the Heat
The National Air and Space Museum is the most popular museum in Washington's broad array of museums lining the Mall.
The Air and Space is dedicated to accomplishments in aviation and space exploration and has artifacts ranging from the Wright Brothers flier to a mock up of the Hubble Space Telescope. The main museum is located on the mall a stone's throw away from the Capitol building. It's loaded with interesting displays and interactive exhibits. A visitor can walk though sections of Skylab, or see a cutaway view of a jet engine. It's interactive and fun for those of us who like this sort of thing.
That's why I was excited about taking my folks to the newer and much larger Air and Space Museum Annex at Dulles Airport this weekend. Located about 30 miles outside of DC, the new annex will allow the Smithsonian to display artifacts too large for display in its original building. These include the SR-71 Black Bird, the Space Shuttle Enterprise and a Concorde. But sadly, unlike the original Air and Space Museum, the new annex manages to make some of the most impressive machines every made, dull and uniteresting.
The new museum is basically a very large hanger with artifacts on display. That's it. No peak inside any of these impressive craft and other than about a paragraph of information, no real chance to learn about the space shuttle, the SR-71 Black Bird or the Concord. It's like going to a large garage and looking at the planes, impressive, but not really educational. Save your twelve bucks and visit the original Air and Space museum, this one still needs some work.
Words of Wisdom from Senator McCain
John McCain is right again. Elephant, like many other voters, doesn't care about what Bush or Kerry did thrity years ago, we want vision and ideas to move our country forward in a dangerous world. But of course, talking about swift boats and such keeps both Bush and Kerry 'off message' on important campaign ideas and leaves us voters to base our decisions on silly 'less filling/tastes great' rhetoric.
Which begs the question, why isn't McCain on any ticket?
Iraqi Prison Abuse: Not Just a Few Soldiers
Generals Point to Contractors, Military Intelligence Soldiers
Like many American's I was/am pretty ashamed of the Iraqi prisoner abuse. We've supposed to be the good guys and this isn't what good guys do. Elephant has even called on Defense Secretary Rumsfeld (who has been oddly absent from the public stage since the scandal) to resign. Well, as we suspected the problem wasn't just a few rogue soliders, but a lack of discipline and a poor command structure. I'll say it again, Rummy needs to go.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Elephant on the Move Update
1) When will the swift boat veterans and other attack ads go away, or at least not be the lead story in the election? Aren't there other things we could be worried about?
2) Is it just me or is the show Six Feet Under really going downhill? Does anything good ever happen to the characters? Is there and episode where David isn't being pissy and cries? Where the mom isn't nagging, then smothering other characters in her mothing way? Could they be less subtle in the politics this season? Elephant is losing interest fast!
Again, thanks for your patience during Elephant's move to his new digs. Posting will resume on Thursday!
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Running on his Record
I say great! I've been hoping all along that a competitive race would put the focus back on the important issues like wasteful spending, the deficit, jobs, healthcare and such. I don't care about what Bush or Kerry did 30 years ago, it was a troubled time and frankly I don't know what I would have done during Vietnam if I'd been called to serve.
But what concerns me is that it looks like the convention will pay lip service to the important issues and try to downplay the GOP's stand on divisive issues like gay marriage, flag burning, the Patriot Act and such. The speakers will be a line up of the Elephant's favorites; Arnold, John McCain, Rudy! and others, but these are the people the party is ignoring and marginalizing. It'll be nice if the convention focuses on the future and takes a positive tone, it will help Bush, but they should put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.
Elephant on the Move Update!
I'm sitting in what was once my bedroom. Just me and the computer and some dust bunnies. I'm feeling kind of wistful at leaving my flat after five memorable years. It's a great place, a third floor walk up that looks into Rock Creek Park. Don't know many folks who can say thier apartment looks out over a national park. But the saddest thing for me was taking down my dining room table, the place where I studied for the Bar Exam. After work each day, and a four hour bar review class, I'd get home at 10:00 PM and sit down and stuying until about 3:00 AM, every day for three months. I studied so much I'd start halucinating. Sounds hellish, but looking back on all the rewards for my efforts, it's actually a fond memory.
The movers arrive tomorrow at 9:00 AM to pick up my boxes and move me to my new digs. About 5 times the space I have now and a big yard to boot! Better yet, I'm still in the city and can walk to the Metro station. Posting will be light this week as I don't know when my cable will be turned on at the new place, but please be patient and check in from time to time. I installed an airport extreme card and just picked up an airport express, so I can always go to the coffee shop to write posts.
So, that's where things stand at the moment.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Super Bonus Thursday
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Bush Tax Cuts Have Been Erased
You've heard Elephant say it before, but high oil prices are a danger to Bush's reelection. Current oil prices are fast approaching $50 a barrell and a good chunk of that price is a risk premium the markets have added due to instability in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Do the math, the current high prices are costing the economy roughly $300 million a day. So, that money we got from the tax cuts is actually flowing out of the country. As EOTE reader "B" working the oil fields in Canada knows, it's salad days for oil exporters.
Great story on CNN.com, money quote
"The U.S. uses 20 million barrels of oil a day. Prices are currently inflated by about $15 a barrel, and that additional cost is effectively a $300 million dollar-a-day tax on Americans, eating away at disposable income for people in this country," said Gheit, adding that no tax break would be able to offset an amount that large.
If you remember, Bush's father used the strategic petroleum reserve as leverage during the first Gulf War. His administration released oil to temper the markets as the invasion of Kuait began. As a result, oil prices collapsed shortly after the war to around $10/bbl and stayed low through most of the 1990s. In fact, the Economist magazine even ran a cover predicting (wrongly) that oil would fall to $5/bbl.
Bush talks a good game on leadership, and made a tough (and in my opinion wrong) decision to pre-emptively attack Iraq. But the lack of planning and the botched post war planning is making us pay a price. His father got it, Bush doesn't seem to get it. He needs to if he wants another four years.
TEAM AMERICA: I MUST SEE THIS MOVIE!
Ok, I saw this 'flash' on drudge and now I am totally dying to see this movie. The creators of South Park have always had a keen, albeit crude, eye for satire and South Park the movie was truly brilliant. Drudge reports that the current version of the movie is guaranteed an NC-17 rating because, as he puts it, "Graphic Puppet Sex." After a year of Michael Moore and the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush crap, this movie will be a very welcome send up!
Catch the preview here!
The "Danger" of Activist Judges
Ya know what, Iâ€™m getting pretty darned tired of hearing those talking heads on TV and politicians talking about the danger of â€˜activist judgesâ€™. In fact, the reason why itâ€™s pushing the elephant to the edge is that the only danger posed by activist judges is to politicians and journalists who try to capitalize on peoplesâ€™ most base fears. Let me explain.
The founding fathers set up a brilliant system with our Constitution. A system that has lasted longer and proved to be more flexible than any other constitution in existence today. Why? Because unlike other political systems, say communism, the constitution is not based on some mythic view that people will act in others best interest. No, our constitution was set up with the keen understanding that people will act in their own best interests and the Founding Fathers attempted to design a system that would channel these urges into a mechanism that promotes liberty and dampens our some of our less desirable behavior.
Key to the functioning of this system are the three gears of the constitutional mechanism- the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. Each has its own function and each serves as a counter balance to the other.
The executive branch is charged with enforcing the laws of the land. To keep its power in check, the Constitution gives the legislature the power of â€˜advise and consentâ€™ to approve or reject key appointments (including judges) and to ratify treaties. Thus, the executive branch is constrained and even if both the executive branch and the legislative branch are controlled by the same party, the minority party still retains enough power that the majority party can not appoint or legislate itself into permanent power.
Likewise the legislature is similarly balanced. Unlike the executive, the legislature was originally the only branch of government that was directly elected (in the case of the House of Representative) by the people (White land owning men at first, women in the 1900s, and blacks in the 1960s). The constitution even balances the legislature against itself - the structure a brilliant compromise between the large states and the small states, again so that the rights of the minority (small states) would be balanced against the power of the majority (large states) (See the Connecticut Compromise: http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h371.html)
Anyway, the structure of our legislative branch is so intricate itâ€™s worthy of the many theses that are dedicated to it. But, as I mentioned the legislature is responsible to the people who elect them every two years or six years. As today, the fear was that the less scrupulous politicians (imagine that concept!) would play on a populist-lowest-common denominator to get elected. (Thank goodness that doesnâ€™t happen anymoreâ€¦wink!). So, how do you protect a fragile republic from the less desirable urges of the â€˜mobâ€™? The answer was to create an appointed judiciary to serve as a check on the legislature and the establishment of judicial review in the seminal case Marbury v. Madison. (See: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/article03/13.html) Or as Justice Marshall put it in his ruling:
â€œSo if a law be in opposition to the constitution; if both the law and the constitution apply to a particular case, so that the court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the constitution; or conformably to the constitution, disregarding the law; the court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty.â€�
So, pardon me if I turn a blind eye to hacks or politicians that decry the â€œTyranny of the Unelected Judiciary.â€� Despite all the fear that these snake oil salesmen are selling, the truth is that the role of the judiciary is just as the founding fathers imagined. (Even if we are trying to deal with issues that they could not imagine). But whatâ€™s the check on these â€˜unelected tyrants in black robes? Easy, the constitution, the legislature and the executive. The executive gets to pick the judges with approval of the Senate, and the judges are bound by the constitution and the thousands of precedents and rulings that interpret its meaning.
There are numerous examples we could discuss here, like The People V. Larry Flynt, or Brown V. Board of Education, or flag burning. The example Iâ€™ll use however, is gay marriage. From a legal perspective, it is an interesting and compelling issue that currently dominates the headlines and campaign rhetoric. The basis of the whole kurfufull is of course the Massachusettsâ€™s Supreme Court Ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that legalized gay marriage in that state.
Like the federal government, most state government structures mirror the division of powers found in the federal government and the state Constitution is the supreme law of the state. In Goodridge, the state Supreme Court had to decide if a state law that limited the benefits and responsibilities of civil marriage to heterosexuals fit the state constitutional guarantee of equal treatment under the law. Like the Court in Marbury v. Madison, the Mass. Court had to decide if they would disregard the state constitution or disregard a law that appeared to violate its provisions. Hereâ€™s what they said
Marriage is a vital social institution," wrote Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall for the majority of the Justices. "The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In turn it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations." The question before the court was "whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution," the Commonwealth could deny those protections, benefits, and obligations to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.
In ruling that the Commonwealth could not do so, the court observed that the Massachusetts Constitution "affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals," and "forbids the creation of second-class citizens." It reaches its conclusion, the court said, giving "full deference to the arguments made by the Commonwealth." The Commonwealth, the court ruled, "has failed to identify any constitutionality adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples."
The court affirmed that it owes "great deference to the Legislature to decide social and policy issues." Where, as here, the constitutionality of a law is challenged, it is the "traditional and settled role" of courts to decide the constitutional question. The "marriage ban" the court held, "works a deep and scarring hardship" on same-sex families "for no rational reason." It prevents children of same-sex couples "from enjoying the immeasurable advantages that flow from the assurance of 'a stable family structure in which children will be reared, educated, and socialized."' "It cannot be rational under our laws," the court held, "to penalize children by depriving them of State benefits" because of their parents' sexual orientation.
Ok, so the court fulfilled its duties in interpreting the state constitution and found that limited civil marriage to heterosexual couples violated the values of the constitution. This gets us to the current argument that in rending its decision, the court prevented the â€˜peopleâ€™ from having their say. I beg to differ. The people of Massachusetts had and have several courses of action available to limit the power of the state supreme court. First, they elected the representatives that drafted the constitution. Second, they elect the governor and representatives that appoint the judges. Finally, if they donâ€™t like the outcome of the case, they can change the state constitution to reverse the decision, which is exactly where the debate currently stands.
Amending constitutions is hard, which is why the U.S. Constitution has only been amended 27 times, despite thousands of proposed amendments. The brilliance of making such amendments difficult is it results in a process that favors liberty. You may not agree with the liberty, but youâ€™re going to have to find 60% of your fellow citizens who feel the same way to turn the tide. Thus, the difficulty in amending the Constitution promotes the spread of liberty and makes efforts to turn it back very labor intensive.
So there is a danger posed by the federal judiciary, a danger that politicians who try to appeal in dangerous â€œus v. themâ€� rhetoric canâ€™t cobble together a majority to overrun an unpopular minority. Unlike other countries where some type of majority (ideological, religious, ethnic) can run roughshod over a minority, our system strives to temper the less desirable urges of the majority (fired up by politicians) and respect the rights of minorities. Of course there are countless examples of when the courts have gotten it wrong, but over time the effect has been to expand the bounds of liberty and equality. If that comes at the expense of a politician, then thatâ€™s a price the Elephant is willing to pay.
A BIG THANKS TO EOTE READERS!
Just wanted to say thank you for your continued patronage of the Elephant. Readership has been steadily climbing and the last couple of weeks we've seen a tremendous surge in new readers, currently 25% of all hits are from unique IP addresses AND we've even got an international audience like "B" in Canada. EOTE started off as a creative outlet and a place from me to rant about the politics and sometimes silliness of Washington, DC. I'm glad some of you find it entertaining.
Again, thanks for your patronage and tell a friend about EOTE!
As I mentioned earlier this week, a friend of mine (G. Gatsby) works for the company that's producing these ads. Check them out at the Saudi Embassy Website. Especially interesting is the "Shared Values" ad. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm sure many of the Saudi people are kind and generous like my Arab American friends, but talk about soft peddling. First off, notice how the add does not show any adult women. Why? Because as a general rule, they are shrouded in black burka like dresses and have a marginal role in Saudi Society. They can't drive, vote (neither can men), or leave the house without their husband. The cute young girls frolicking on the beach can look forward to that kind of future. Many of these practices are dogmatic proclamations of Wahabists that are supported by the Saudi Royals. Funny thing is though that the Saudi Royals shed these traditions with their jet set ways, flying off to New York, Paris and London to engage in freedoms enjoyed by us infidels.
Shared Values? What Shared Values?
Sit and Spin: A Brief History of the Revolving Restaurant
I know, they're so "Towering inferno," but I've been looking for some history on revolving restaurants since getting back from Atlanta where I attended a cocktail party atop the Peachtree Westin in their revolving restaurant. They may be cheesey, but they are a hell of a lot of fun.
Patrick J. Buchanan -- N.J. governor changes the subject
A democratic governor admits he's gay and hired one of his lovers, you'd think that this would be Pat Buchanan's (pardon my phraseology here) wet dream. But reading this article I'm impressed by two things, first is that McGreevey's apparent homosexuality appears to be a non-issue for Mr. Buchanan and second Buchanan sees this 'scandal' for what it is. I don't often agree with Mr. Buchanan, but it is shocking that the man who delivered the famous "Culture War" speech at the 1992 GOP Convention can write an article that focuses on the real issues in NJ rather than capitalizing on the gay fearmongering that is so rampant in my party. Good job Pat!
The Secret of Photo 51: Rosilind Franklin and the Structure of DNA
I read an interesting article several years ago talking about the contributions of Dr. Rosalind Franklin to the discovery of the structure of DNA and how Watson and Crick basically stole her data then downplayed her work in their claimed discovery of the double helix. An interesting story of a strong woman and a fascinating scientist and a story that paints Watson and Crick in a very unflattering light.
New Battle Ground States?
TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. Not much in new numbers to report today. However, pollster Zogby International reported Tuesday that -- based on recent poll numbers -- that they "will soon begin tracking the 2004 Presidential election in four new Battleground States: Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina and Virginia." Hmm ... we've treated two of the four (CO, AZ) as battleground states for a few months already, and also declared NC and VA as new "swing states" within the past month. On the flip side of that, it's probably time to remove Tennessee from the list and throw it into the likely Bush column.
Orange Alerts and Now This!
Ok, I've finally adapted to the check points and street closures here in DC as the result of the City being put on orange alert. It's a hassle and a bit overboard if you ask me, but none-the-less it's now fading into the fabric of hassles that go with city living. However, the latest twist is this, American Idol Auditions start in the city today and mobs of questionably talented teens are expected to gum up Massachusetts Aveneue near the convention center. Sigh!
At 'Idol' Auditions, Losing Sleep While Chasing a Dream
Elephant on the Move
Elephant is on the move! I close on a new house here in DC on Friday and the movers swing by my flat on Monday for the big transistion!
The good news is that I love the new digs, a restored Queen Anne style house in a great neighborhood and close to the metro. The bad news is that yesterday I found out that Washington Gas has said that it will be 4 to 6 months before they can turn on my gas service! (No reason, just 'we're really busy right now) So, I'll have cooking and hotwater (electric) but no heat?! The builder, his attorney and I are all lobbying Washington Gas hard to up the date, so we'll see.
So, in the midst of my packing, my folks are coming in town for a visit. Dad, Mom and me all in my little falt amist numerous packed boxes all labeled "Misc.".
A weekend of frantic packing, carting the folks around town to see various memorials and closing on a new house. Should be interesting. I'll try to keep the postings up, but just so you know!
Crystal Ball Update:
Oops, for a day or so I thought I'd misgauged the markets. Chavez's survival in the Venezuelan recall didn't rattle things up like I thought it would, but none-the-less, the markets are still pointing up, up, up. Yes, prices aren't at Historic highs yet, but as reported in the link below, prices are fast approaching the threshold of the first oil shock of 1974.
It will be interesting to see how long it will take for these high energy prices to trickle down into consumer prices. Gasoline prices and inflation fell last month, but I'm guessing that's because a lot of companies locked in prices or hedged on energy costs. But you can't dodge the price hikes forever.
Google me This?
I admire the founders of Google. Here's two guys, a couple of years younger than me, who took a college term paper, founded a business and changed the way we use the internet. Google's site is simple and elegant, but I wonder how long that will last now that they've gone public?
What's more of a concern to me is how they've handled their IPO, sorta ham-handed if you ask me. An early release of shares (now being investigated), the Playboy interview during the required 'quiet period' and a novel, but confusing Dutch Auction for their shares. All this amounts to a level of coverage that has me saying, "Google, Google, Google, the word has lost all meaning."
Anyway, I guess it's easy to armchair quarterback a project that I know I won't be required to handle anytime soon. I'm hoping for the best, but it seems that birthin' this baby is proving a bit difficult.
Google Cuts IPO Price Range
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
How to Run A "Christian" Campaign
Vernon Robbinson is really shaking things up in the Tar Heel State. Running for Congress and billing himself as the Black Jesse Helms he's best understood as the Republican Antithesis to Al Sharpton. Seeking to be the republican nonimee for this conservative district, it seems, he will stop at nothing for his quest for office.
Call it Compassionate Conservatism I guess.
Twisted tale of â€˜Pastor Randyâ€™
Our Problematic Allies: The Magic Kingdom
Yes, and other such developments like the goal to let women drive without a male escort by 2050 and for them to shed their Burka-like tent dresses sometime in late 2075!
Sad part is, a friend of mine, G. Gatsby, is the guy who has the Saudi PR Account.
A Capitol Idea
Interesting article in the Economist about how South Korea is planning on building a new national capitol from the ground up. It would join the ranks of purpose built cities like Washington, DC, Canberra, Brasilia, Islamabad and such. I find city planning interesting and have been a huge fan of the Sim City games since 1990, so it will be interesting to see what kind of design the Koreans go with. Will it be a French inspired city like DC or a Jetsons like capitol ala Brasilia? Who knows.
The pros and cons of capital flight
History of Some Planned Capitols
A Virtual Homecoming
Ok, just kidding. It's probably good that we are bringing home some of our troops from Germany, I mean the cold war is over, but I'm less sure about bringing home troops from Korea, with Dear Leader having the Bomb and all. I seriously doubt that this is troop realignment is political as everyone from John Warner to Carl Levin have endorsed it, but the timing is suspect. With things continuing to be unstable in Iraq, now Bush has a chance to talk about bringing our troops home, problem is its the wrong troops.
And I suspect all this talk about flexible more effecient forces doesn't mean that we'll see any savings in the defense budget.
The Post has the goods:
Monday, August 16, 2004
Swift Boat Attacks Backfiring?
Wrong to attack Kerry war record
My Favorite Blogs
Ever wonder where the Elephant goes looking when he's feeling bloggy? Well, here's a list of some of the blogs I like to check out from time to time to see what's going on. It also sheds a little light on what sort of writing/political philosophy catches my attention.
A well spoken, free market loving, upper west side mother. She has a moving piece dedicated to her granfather today.
The Election Projection
Blogging Ceasar has come up with his own formula to try to track the polls and predict the election. He's an unabashed conservative, but doesn't appear to be blinded by dogma. Sadly, his partents, who were doing missionary work in Iraq, were killed by insurgence in the spring.
Snappy writing, potty mouth and an unhealthy obsession with sex. Wonkette dishes the dirt and is always good for a a laugh. One of my guilty pleasures.
Want to know what's going on in the mind of the lefties? Atrios is the answer. His prolific blog gives good insights into the view from across the aisle. Sometimes way over the top.
Great bread and butter sight on the latest election happenings. The USAToday of the Blogosphere.
America's Taliban Targets South Carolina
Everyday I watch the news coming out of the Middle East and I am thankfully that I don't live in some theorcratic distopia where a group of self-appointed leaders tell me how 'God' wants me to live and what his word should mean to me. But wait! Crazy theorcrats aren't just the product of dessert kingdoms 1/2 a world away, they're right here.
Fox News ran a story about a group that wants to establish a theorcratic kingdom in the bible belt. No constitution, just the Ten Commandments as law. How Margaret Attwood of them. No word on if residents will be able to eat shrimp and shellfish or will have to call the priest if they get mildew in their home (see Leviticus), but I'm sure the council of elders will be considering it.
Kudos to the spokesperson from Bob Jones university who actually seems to understand the issue stating:
"A spokesman for Bob Jones University a nondenominational Christian university that "stands without apology for the old-time religion and the absolute authority of the Bible" said the school would not be part of the campaign.
"As Christians, it's not our job to start a new country," Jonathan Pait, a spokesman for the university, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "It's our job to spread the kingdom and the kingdom is not of this world. It's of the heart."
Well said Mr. Pait!
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Broder Has a Point
Bush's Two Albatrosses
The factors that make President Bush a vulnerable incumbent have almost nothing to do with his opponent, John F. Kerry. They stem directly from two closely linked, high-stakes policy gambles that Bush chose on his own. Neither has worked out as he hoped.
(more after the jump)
Bob Costas is the Devil
Did anyone see the ultra-lame coverage by NBC of the Olympic opening ceremonies? I mean these things are always hokey, but when Katie Kuric describes the Parthenon as looking like "The wicked witch's house from the wizard of Oz," you have to do all you can not to puke. As the Olympics return to their historic home you'd think the hack writers at NBC could pull up some historic info to pepper their commentary, but alas that's hoping for too much.
God Hates Florida II:
Elephant watched in amazement as the eye of Hurricane Charley passed directly over the city where his parents have a winter home in Florida. The folks are in the Midwest for the summer, so they fared well, no word on their place in the sunshine state though. But, even though the residents of Southwest Florida are suffering, they're likely to recieve the best response our federal government has to offer. A state the GOP won by a scant 537 votes in 2000 and one they can't win the White House without, will likely see a quick and generous response from Uncle Sam. And whose gonna complain about that? No-one in Washington that's for sure. So take comfort my friends in Florida, "Help is on the Way!".
The Elephant's Wager
The price of oil continues to shoot up. This is good if your an oil producer, bad if your a consumer. Of course there are many reasons why this is happening, turmoil at Yukos in Russia, Chavez's recall election in Venezuela, increasing demand from China, and of course increasing instability in the Middle East. The Elephant has been skeptical of coverage in the American media on how bad things are in Iraq, but you can't argue with the markets and we are continuing to pay a 'risk premium' for oil due to terrorist attacks in Iraq and instability in Saudi Arabia. The media may have its own agenda, but the markets don't lie.
If things go bad in Venezuela after Sunday's recall vote, and the collapse of the truce in Njaf, expect oil to pass the $50/bbl mark sometime this week. Of course our government get's the planning wrong again!
The Fed's oil bet: A drop in prices is what the central bank is betting on, but it's been a no show so far.
Friday, August 13, 2004
Gotta Love the Economist
The economist, as usual, hits the nail on the head. Keyes is an embarassment to the party and an insult to the people of Illinois.
(Senator Ben Nighthorse-Campbell)
Elephant is no big fan of the Bush Administration. (as discussed in this blog on numerous occasions) But I was just thinking that no matter who wins, I don't think we'll be getting out money's worth.
Not So Different After All
Hmmm, seems to me that a gay politician is no different than a straight politician. Both seem capable of cheating on their spouses and engaging in other unsavory activity and nepotism. At least McGreevey had the guts to fess up.
Any bets as to how long it takes for some talking head to use the McGreevey example as an excuse for passing anti-gay marriage amendments or to imply that all democrats are gay?
Continuing turmoil in Venezuela could push oil prices even higher.
Goodbye 747: Is this old bird about to get its wings clipped?
A showpiece of American technological dominance shows its age.
Tax Burden Shifts to the Middle
Is 0.2% a shift?
Dying Cities: St. Louis
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Ten Years of Buying Stuff Online!
E-commerce turns 10
Few remember or have ever even heard of the Web retailer, but on Aug. 11, 1994, the college grads that founded NetMarket in Nashua, N.H., claimed they had conducted the very first secure retail transaction on the Web.(More)
God Hates Florida
Florida braces for double dose of storms
This WSJ article and this USA Today piece report on separate examples of a single trend: Sharply rising raw-material costs are starting to hurt the construction and home-remodeling businesses, which have helped sustain the economy through recent tough times.
The Journal reports on rising lumber costs: "The wholesale price of low-grade boards and plywood used in home-improvement projects like decks and additions is up 24% from June of last year, according to the government's producer price index. An ordinary eight-foot-long, two-by-four, a common type of lumber used for building construction, costs $2.95 today, up from about $1.85 in January 2003." (more)
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
A VAT is not Phat.
The elephant pays a lot in taxes. In fact, I paid more in federal taxes last year than my annual income just 7 years ago. We all want lower taxes, but here's a dirty little secret...if we want a strong national defense, roads, water, health care and such, we will always have to pay some level of taxes. That's why I find myself, yet again, scratching my head over the latest campaign gimmick by my GOP colleagues over the establishment of a Value Added Tax (VAT) or a National Sales Tax.
By some estimates, a national sales tax would have to be in the range of 30% or more to make up for the loss of the income tax. Granted, instead of paying 35% or whatever I pay in federal income tax, I'd take home more money, but do I really want to be paying a 30% plus sales tax every time I buy something? I'm not sure.
What really gets my goat is that Denny Hastert and company claim they could do away with the IRS. Now, I know there are a bunch of states that don't have state income taxes, and to my knowledge, every one of them has a department of revenue. Also, we're talking about collecting trillions of dollars in sales tax, which would probably be delegated to retailers to collect, but you'd still have to have a some agency to enforce collection.
I've got other questions too. What about the mortgage interest deduction? If you eliminate that, it would likely have an negative impact of home prices, which are the largest asset most people own. And speaking of that, what of the tax credits for having children, those would evaporate too.
What scares me most is that our country is running nearly 1/2 a trillion dollar deficits on an annual basis. As such a likely outcome would be a national sales tax and some type of income tax. (Tax increase disguised as tax reform-it's an old trick).
Yes, our system could encourage more savings and we need to eliminate double taxation of income where it exists, but with consumption the largest component of our economy, shifting the tax burden to target purchases versus income will not be without its consequences. This proposal has been floating around Washington since I was watching Land of the Lost and playing with my Star Wars figures, it is not new and probably not that revolutionary anyway. Here's some background information and commentary if you're interested.
GAO Report: States and a Federal Consumption Tax (1990)
GAO Report: Choosing Among the Consumption Taxes (1986)
National Review: The Case Against Tax-Reform Leadership
The Quixotic Quest of Alan Keyes
I read that Alan Keyes mentioned earlier this week that Jesus told him to help save the people of Illinois. Who's he kidding, I think Jesus was trying to tell him that this would be another great way to get a tremendous amount of personal publicity and perhaps the catalyst for yet another book. No word on how they'll spilt the revenues.
Meanwhile, Politics1.com reports.
OBAMA VERSUS KEYES. So much for any thoughts that this match-up would be competitive. A new WBBM-TV/SurveyUSA poll was released Tuesday on the open Illinois US Senate race. The results: Barack Obama (D) - 67%, Alan Keyes (R) - 28%. Entertaining, yes. Competitive, no.
Michigan's Poletown Decision Overturned
Back in the late 70s and early 80s, there was a huge controversy in Michigan. The auto industry was on the skids, unemployment was at something like 15% in the state and even higher in Detroit. So, General Motors decides it wants to build a new factory. The only problem is that the location they want is in Hamtramack, a stable community in surrounded by the blight and hopelessness of Detroit and is populated with about 1,000 homes and businesses.
So, GM and the city of Detroit sought the use of eminent domain to clear the land for the factory. Before this case, government would traditionally reserve the use of its eminent domain power (i.e. the power to take your land from you) for public projects like highways, power plants, etc. But in the Poletown case, the city wanted to use its authority to enrich a private company. The courts upheld it, in part due to the severe economic distress of the area at the time. Now it seems to have come undone. I say that's a good thing.
History of the Poletown Decision:
Virginia Postrel's (Uber-Libertarian) Commentatry: Ripple Effects
From Reason: GOP's "Christian Nation"
After a short respite from the fight over the Pledge of Allegiance, the Republican Party has once again thrown itself into the fray over issues of church and state. This time it's the Republican Party of Texas, President Bush's home state, which has approved a plank in its platform affirming that "the United States of America is a Christian nation."
Headlines that Bug Me....
Developed no doubt to help them calculate 'hit points' and plot out new dungeon adventures.
Nebraskan trying to lose 770 pounds to stay alive
Even if he looses 770 lbs, this guy will still weigh over 300lbs. Although he does live in Nebraska, so I guess he needed a hobby.
Visitor To St. Augustine Was Ringo Look-Alike
Florida? Ringo Starr? Local news flub? My guess is Florida is so desperate for attention on the level of Elian Gonzalez or the the 2000 election, they'll try anything.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Off to Detention
I'm off to an all day seminar that I'm required to take to keep my legal license, so posting will be extremely light today. I promise to make it up to you tomorrow!
Monday, August 09, 2004
Yes, looks like our good friend Mr. Chalabi's hole keeps getting deeper. Hard to believe that he was a key source of our intelligence on Iraq and harder to believe that our government was paying him $300,000/month. Sigh.
George Bush made a good point a few weeks ago when he addressed the Urban League. He asked the audience if it was in their best interests to have the black community essentially represented by only one party. Of course that's not a good idea, but perhaps the whole debate of excluding gays from the constitution gently reminds the black community that it was the Republicans who opposed fully incorporating blacks in American civic society by their opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In fact the Republican party remains the dominate party in the South because of Democratic support for Civil Rights. Who can blame the African American Community for turning a jaundiced eye to the overatures of the GOP when they are using the same fear and predjudices to get votes as they did in the 1960s. Not me.
His Word is NOT his Bond
Just another sad example of a conservative who can talk the talk, but not walk the walk. But this is 'different' than Hillary Clinton running for Senate in New York....yeah right.
Call Them Pessimists
CONSERVATIVE THINK TANK RAISES ECONOMY FEARS. Shifting economic conditions in the US are causing some respected conservatives to start voicing economic concerns. Here's what MarketWatch.com reported Sunday: "'A whiff of stagflation is in the air,' and the negative impact on corporate earnings and stock prices 'could be ugly,' said John Makin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank. Some economists are outraged at Makin, saying he's exaggerating current conditions by using 'stagflation,' a term coined during the malaise of the 1970s to describe the combination of slower growth and higher inflation. Nevertheless, many experts have acknowledged the U.S. economy is downshifting and inflation pressures are rising." Now -- before you start bashing AEI as some left-wing apologists -- AEI is the conservative think tank home to Robert Bork, Newt Gingrich and others.
Friday, August 06, 2004
Cruel Summer Update:
I just settled into my hotel room and Fox news is reporting that at the current rate of job growth announced today, it will take 10 years to get back to the employment levels we had in 2000. While I don't think that things will be this slow forever, the measely 32,000 jobs created are not good news for Bush. It will be interesting to see how the campaign will try to spin this. For two weeks now the President has been saying "Results Matter." They do, and that's probably why he's running scared.
Of course if you can't win on the economy, attack on moral issues- In fact, perhaps they can find a way to blame the current economic soft patch on gay marriage.
On the Road
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Bush Supports Our Troops: Unless They Are His Opponents
Ok, I'm being kind of hard of George W Bush on this blog, but frankly even as a Republican I think he deserves it. Anyway, I was reading the attack on John Kerry over his service in Vietnam and felt a strange case of Deja Vu. It hit me last night on the subway. Despite all his public comments about supporting our troops, the Bush camps desire to hang on to power pushes them to attack people for their service to our country. The scenario that's playing out in the press this week on John Kerry's service is merely a rehash of the same attacks the Bush campiagn made on war hero John McCain back in 2000 during the South Carolina primary.
The nadir moment occurred February 3rd when a smiling Bush stood in front of television cameras as a fringe Vietnam veteran, Thomas Burch, denounced McCain as a POW who â€œcame home and forgot us.â€� Governor Bush knows Burch well. The same Thomas Burch had accused President Bush of abandoning veterans during his administration, but alas, all old wounds must have been healed in time to neutralize McCainâ€™s war hero factor. Push polling by Bush activists was standard fare and leaflets distributed by Bush allies described McCain as â€œpro-abortionâ€� and â€œthe fag candidateâ€� (because McCain was the only Republican presidential candidate to meet with the gay Republican menâ€™s group, Log Cabin Republicans). One particularly offensive missive distributed via the Internet and to the press was from the Christian Fundamentalist Bob Jones University, where Bush had staked his Christian conservative claim one day after the NH Primary. A professor named Richard Hand wrote that McCain â€œchose to sire children without marriage,â€� among other hallucinations.
McCain fought back (much like a sailboat might take on a battleship) with a regrettable political ad in which he accused Governor Bush of using campaign tactics that were â€œtwisting the truth like Clinton.â€� Clinton is the Anti-Christ to conservative Republicans in South Carolina and Bush was able to use the Clinton comparison to his full advantage throughout the campaign. By the weekend of the primary vote, more South Carolinians blamed McCain for going negative than they did Bush, despite the fact that McCain pulled all broadcast political advertisements critical of Governor George Bush in the last week of the campaign and promised that â€œI will not take the low road to the highest office in the land.â€� (McCain pulled his ads after hearing the story of Donna Duren, who told McCain at a February 10th Spartanburg Town Hall Meeting that her 14-year-old son, who considers McCain his hero, had been push polled and told that McCain was a â€œliar, cheat, and a fraud.â€� )
Change the tone in Washington, A leader who wants to restore moral guidance to America and a man who consents to the worst kind of attack politics. Yes, there's no direct connection to Bush-Cheney 2004 (yet), but as someone whose worked on campaigns in various states and in DC I can tell you this- the announcment this week on Kerry was carefully planned. Of course now no one is talking about Bush's still vague service record.
We Can Do Better
Ok, as oil prices continue to climb and the stock market continues to fall I'm thinking it's time for GWB to change his campaign slogan from "Results Matter" to something that doesn't give people a headache as they try to think of a 'result' that is good as they pump their $2.25/gal gas into thier SUVs.
Message to Kerry:
JFK on the other hand needs to stop saying:
"Some people, as I said the other day, may see America as red states and blue states. I believe we need leadership that sees America as one country -- red, white and blue, period."
Yes, yes, I get it unity. But it just comes across as sooo cheesy.
Me Too Security!
It's starting, the piling on of check points and street closures as federal agencies across the city assert their importance by blocking streets and closing sidewalks. You know folks, we could be totally immune from truck bombs if we banned all traffic from entering the city of Washington. As they say, be prepared, but as I say, be realistic.
"We've Turned A Corner": Update
Analysts say $50-a-barrel oil is possible
From the America is safer dept.
Anxiety of Code Orange may be here to stay
U.S. Helicopter Shot Down in Najaf
Alan Keyes Contemplates Career Suicide
Alan Keyes is quite the character. A fast talking, smart commenting ultra-conservative commentator who can actually deliver his message without seeming too dogmatic or angry. He's built a successful career as a radio talk show host and has a decent following. Will he throw away his credibility for a likely futile run for the Senate in Illinois?
Alan Keyes lives in Maryland, not Illinois. He was a vocal opponent of Senator Clinton's run for office in New York and I agreed with him whole heartedly. Sentor Clinton is a smart lady, no doubt, but it makes the elephant itchy when someone feels so superior to the millions of citizens in a given state that they have to move in to save them. Keyes is likewise hesitant commenting that "As a matter of principle, I don't think it's a good idea." But he's kept open the possibility of running if he can see a way to reconcile his run with his beliefs.
If you make your career as a talking head, you should say what you mean and mean what you say. Don't do it Alan.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Must Read: Reason on the Election
"If You Vote, Please Try Kerry"- John Kerry and George Bush's underwhelming sales pitches
In other words, why is the debate for the most important job in the free world so lame?
The New "Normal"
It used to be that the deficit and fiscal responsibility were the hallmarks of any GOP campaign. Over the last four years that philosophy seems to have gone out the window and the party I've admired so much for keeping a lid on government is slowly morphing into a mild form of (dare I say) Theocratic-Socialism. Republicans win when they focus on their strengths - national defense, fiscal accountability and a limited role for government.
As someone who straddles two worlds - working as a DC lobbyist, but hailing from a midwestern town of 300 people- I can tell you that even the most conservative of voters care more about these things than the do about flag burning, gay marriage or steriods. We want to be safe, secure in the pursuit of opportunity and otherwise left alone.
I've been criticized by some readers as not really being a Republican, my new response is that I don't think the W is the true Republican.
Well dear readers, slowly but surely our readership grows. This week is seeing some of the highest traffic on the Elephant ever. Granted that means the average daily hits have climbed from four to about 13, but still that's progress. I found this really nice comment about the blog today.
Yet another interesting blog, this one authored by a "former Congressional Chief of Staff and an attorney." From the web address, you know already that this guy is a Republican. I figured that this guy, who is very well spoken and gently opinionated (I say gently because he states his opinion and doesn't try to shove it down your throat, just simply states what he thinks about something and why),
He's right. I've chosen to work in a profession where everyone's opinion is valid, even if it is way crazy. My goal has been to try to share my thoughts about DC happenings through the eyes of someone who deals with it on a daily basis rather than the talking head blather that fills the news channels. It's nice to know at some level others can see that. Thanks
Welcome to Fortress DC
Ever since they closed Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, it has become increasingly difficult to get around DC. The recent expansion of security perimeter around the Capitol, White House, and other sites in DC is making moving around the city problematic.
DC has a respectable, but rather small downtown. The business district is broken up by large blocks of land where the White House and Capitol are. These sections of the city are bordered by broad boulevards rather than the small side streets of the residential areas. So, blocking off 1st street which runs between two Senate office buildings doesn't just mean a 1 block detour, but rather a detour of several blocks in near gridlocked traffic now routed to narrow neighborhood streets. It makes moving around the city, which on a good day is hard enough, even harder.
I'm all for strong security, but things seem to be snowballing into a 'me too' mentality. There's got to be a better way to do this.
Security Might Get Tighter Yet, Officials Say
Changes Considered Near Treasury and White House
Democrats Cause High Oil Prices, Cancer.
I was reading a funny review of a recent appearance by Vice President at a campaign stop in the Midwest. Seems he claims that Democrats are the cause of high oil prices. Hmmm...Last I remember the President's Energy Bill had passed both houses of congress two years in a row and the Republicans in the House couldn't agree with the Senate Republicans on a conference report. Or remember when the President refused to release oil from the petroleum reserve? I do.
I think it is fair to lay blame on either party where blame is due. The Democrats, and John Kerry are open to fair criticisms about their records. But blaming the Democrats for high oil prices is a joke and undermines Bush-Cheney's message of leadership. The current high oil prices are the result of a convergence of many factors including; A destabilized middle east, The Russian Governments battle with Yukos, instability in Nigeria and Venezuela. Issues of foreign policy that our current administration are supposed to be masters of. Besides, all the energy lobbyists in DC have repeatedly said that any oil from Alaska would take several years to bring to market anyway.
Here's some repostings of my thoughts on this topic from months past.
Flashback... Bush's Action Preclude Drilling Off of Florida
Maybe the Democrats are playing politics, as the President indicated in last Saturday's radio address, on the release of oil from the petroleum reserve. But it seems playing politics with oil drilling isn't reserved for only the Dems, remember this?
Why Anwar and not Florida? Why not both? I mean Florida is already kinda gross so it's not big loss.
U.S. won't tap oil reserve to ease prices
Iraq going south, gas prices shooting up, President Bush misses an opportunity to take leadership on an increasing important domestic issue. His Father released oil from the reserve during the first Gulf War, so the fear of creating a precedent is moot. Great chance for his opponents to paint him as out of touch.
This underscores the problems the Bush campaign faces, they can level attacks on Kerry's record (and there are many valid things to attack), but at the same time, such attacks and sophmoric slogans like "Results Matter" underscore how little true accomplishments the GOP has actually had over the last four years and since they controll Congress and the Administration, they have only themselves to blame. That's what's so frustrating for many of us in the libertarian wing of the GOP and probably why this election is so close.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
1491: Post Apocolyptic World?
Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thoughtâ€”an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact
DC is allegedly ranked sixth on the list of most literate cities. If we read so much, how come everything we tend to do here is so messed up?
We're Turning A Corner (Cont.)
Fewer getting insurance through jobs
And finally, I'm so glad I can send my Bush tax-cut to the Saudi's.
Crude-Oil Futures Flirt With $44 a Barrel
Wag the Dog?
Since I was all of Clinton when he launched a missile strike against Afghanistan in the midst of Monica-gate, I think it's only fair to raise my eyebrows at this. As a result of the orange alert, many streets in DC are now 'closed indefinitely' and everything is such a hassle. (Yes, dying would be a hassle too). But it really does pique my curiosity that the alert comes on the heels of the opposition parties convention and now seems to be based on years old intelligence. And we know how reliable our intelligence is, don't we? Or maybe this is just what the terrorists want us to think.
Monday, August 02, 2004
Another Pyramid Scheme
Food Pyramid? Elephant still remembers the basic four food groups. (mayonnaise, Butter, Bacon and Snacky Things). But seriously, I can just imagine all the Congressional Staffers and Department of Agriculture analyst wringing their hands for endless hours at meetings discussing who best to replace the "Food Pyramid" with something more understandable like, "The Food Rhombus" or "The Food Polygon". Then after they produce a report all the agriculture lobbyists go nuts because they decided to go with "The Food Pentagram". Yes, they pay people like me to think about things like the food pyramid, then they pay us more to try to stop whatever it is that they create to replace it. Crazy world!
The Food Pyramid
I-Tunes Working With C-Span!
We're Turning the Corner?
Last Friday, I watched President Bush's address to a crowd in Springfield, MO. It was vintage Bush - feisty, coherent and ready to rumble. It was the competitive spirit unleashed after a vocal and well run Democratic Convention. A vigorous debate is what our country needs. But after hearing Bush's message that "We've turned the corner," I experienced some congnitive dissonance over the weekend and must ask, what corner have we turned?
Oil Hits Fresh Record High Near $44
Financial districts in NYC, N.J. and D.C. on high terror alert
Political heat follows record-deficit forecast
Bombers hit Christian churches in Baghdad, Mosul
Sunday, August 01, 2004
Bush v. Kerry on Federal Spending:
Our budget reflects the countryâ€™s most important priorities: fighting the war on terror and ensuring economic growth and recovery. Weâ€™ll continue to provide whatever it takes to defend our country, protect our homeland, and promote economic security.
The Presidentâ€™s budget calls for cutting the deficit in half over the next five years. His plan is to continue with pro-growth policies that will increase revenues into the Treasury while holding the line on Federal spending.
Economic growth and good stewardship of taxpayersâ€™ dollars will help us meet the Presidentâ€™s goal of cutting the budget deficit in half in five years.
John Kerry's Position
Restore PAYGO*: Roll Back Bush Tax Cuts for Wealthy to Pay for Health and Education: The Kerry-Edwards plan will make health care affordable and accessible for all Americans and invest in education by rolling back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, those making over $200,000 annually.
Restrain Discretionary Spending: The Kerry-Edwards plan will restore the discretionary spending caps of the 1990s to ensure that spending - outside of education and security - does not grow faster than inflation.
Cut Corporate Welfare to Reduce the Deficit: The Kerry-Edwards plan will push the McCain-Kerry Corporate Welfare Commission to eliminate unnecessary corporate welfare and use the savings to reduce the deficit.
*(PAYGO)- Paygo means pay as you go, it's a budget tool that requires any additional federal spending or tax cuts to be offset by sending reductions elsewhere in the budget.
Orange: The New Black
Yup, DC's back on high alert. New and credible evidence, but this time with 'some' specificity. What makes now any different than say, last Tuesday? It seems to Elephant that the radical islamo-fascists don't really have a time table, they'll strike when they can make a hit that will be noteworthy.
What's even more scary is the state of the U.S. intelligence services. No replacement for the CIA director has even been discussed. So the agencies that are supposed to protect us, and were very poorly run for the last ten years, are now rudderless. Why is Bush waiting so long to replace George Tennent? How long before Kerry or some hack pundit points out that if Bush's priority is to be strong on terrorism, shouldn't we have new leadership at our intelligence agencies?
Deeper and Deeper
Well, so much for campaigning on fiscal prudence. The party that attracts voters because it is fiscally responsible has presided over the largest explosion of debt in the history of our country. We've added $2 TRILLION dollars in debt over the last four years and are set to add nearly $2 Trillion more in the next four years.
Some say it's ok, because the United States is at war. Elephant says baloney! Huge tax cuts (good) combined with pork barrel spending (bad) are the cause. Upping agricultural subsidies, expanding Medicare and so on and so on. The GOP used to be able to point to Democrats and accuse them of reckless spending. They can't do that anymore.
How long must the Japanese, Chinese and others in the world support our growing debt before they invest their money elsewhere?
And, how much more will the Euro cost the Elephant on his next visit to Europe. Three years ago, one euro cost $0.84, today it costs $1.22.... (Good for exports, bad for vacations!)